24 September 2000
In this issue :
From The Sunday Times (UK), 24 September
Mugabe runs up £340,000 bill as children starve
NO expense was spared when Robert Mugabe travelled with his family to the world leaders' millennium summit in New York this month. Zimbabwe's president, who went to demand a cancellation of his impoverished country's soaring debt, took an entourage of 47 – four times as many as Tony Blair. The bill is reported to have exceeded £340,000, including pocket money of £100-£200 a day for every delegate. A Zimbabwean newspaper's disclosure of the cost provoked bitter criticism last week in a country where fuel shortages are endemic and Zimbabwe Airways, the national flag carrier, is said to be almost bankrupt. "This is an outrage in a country where starving street children and people hunting for food in dustbins are now an everyday sight," said Eddie Cross of the MDC, the main opposition group.
The latest display of Mugabe's predilection for the good life coincides with renewed signs of his determination to cling to office. Although embattled on every front and apparently in poor health, Mugabe, 76, is reluctant to cede any power to his opponents. The opposition, which won almost half the seats in the June parliamentary election, was revealed last week to have offered Mugabe what was effectively a truce soon afterwards.
Under the deal party political activity would have ceased for 15 months, allowing the MDC to work with the government on economic recovery and land reform. Zimbabwe would then have proceeded peacefully to the 2002 presidential election. Mugabe rejected the offer, responding instead with new farm invasions by so-called "war veterans", coupled with a threat to expropriate all white-owned land and intensify violence in areas where the MDC had polled well. Last week, however, the white farmers, their families and workers - 2m people in all - won a ruling from the highest court that eviction notices against them were illegal. It was unclear whether the government would respect this.
Mugabe's determination to crush the MDC was emphasised after a grenade blast at the party's office in Harare, the capital. Police later raided the building and two other main offices. They arrested four MDC officials and ransacked the home of Tafadzwa Musekiwa, one of its MPs. John Nkomo, the home affairs minister, told parliament that the grenade attack had been "an inside job" and claimed that police had found weapons on the premises showing that the MDC was moving onto a "war footing".
Although Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, reacted with fury and incredulity, activists are bracing themselves for the possibility that the party will be banned and its leaders arrested. Realising that this would produce an even tougher international backlash against Mugabe, the MDC has announced a programme of "rolling mass action" against him. Rallies were to take place across the country this weekend calling for his resignation and early elections. Tsvangirai's supporters asked President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Mugabe's ally, to help with an exit package. They said Mugabe might need to flee to South Africa if he lost power and wished to escape a human rights trial. Mbeki's answer is not known.
From The Star (SA), 23 September
Aids orphans swept along in Zim land upheaval
Mazowe - The image is picture-perfect when the children gather outside for an assembly at their rural hilltop school north of Harare, with singing, dancing and story-telling on a crisp spring morning. But the words are grim, as children sing about their parents dying of Aids and tell of their fear that their government will drive them from their homes. "Unless there is a miracle, my future is bleak. My grandmother is too old to care for five of us," one boy said, as he finished reciting his poem. He was too embarrassed to have his name used, although at this school he is one of 66 children orphaned by Aids.
Sixty-five now, explained the deputy headmaster, Peter Kusikwenyu. One 14-year-old girl has left the school. Her extended family could no longer afford to care for her after her parents died, so they married her off, he said. About one-quarter of all the students attending schools on white-owned farms are Aids orphans, found a survey last month by the Farm Orphan Support Trust (FOST). They are among the lucky ones. One-third of Aids orphans living on farms have dropped out of school, either because they cannot afford the fees or because they do not have a birth certificate, the survey said. Seventy percent of Aids orphans on farms do not have birth certificates, which means they are not allowed to take exams to complete seventh grade and move on to high school. They also cannot use government welfare programs, obtain a national ID card, or receive a legal burial if they die, said FOST's director, Sue Parry.
But now the orphans face an even bigger problem, if they live on a farm like this one which is among the thousands the Zimbabwe government has earmarked for resettlement. "People currently being resettled are coming from homes. Those being displaced from the farms are losing their home, and where do they go? What answers do we give these children?" Parry said at a recent meeting of white farmers. An average of 12 orphans live on each farm, according to FOST. Multiplied by the more than 2 000 farms earmarked by the government for resettlement, more than 24 000 orphans could find themselves homeless.
When parents die in farm communities the children can often continue to live in their parents' home, and receive support from relatives or neighbours, said Parry, whose group provides counseling and other services to the orphans. About two million people live on Zimbabwe's 4 500 white-owned farms. The farm laborers and their families are not guaranteed new homes under the government plan to resettle more than five million ha of white-owned farmland with poor blacks. About 151 000 families stand to lose their homes under the scheme, according to the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), which represents farm workers. That could mean as many as 1.3 million people will become homeless.
Parry recounted one 15-year-old girl's fears at a recent counseling session. "I am afraid what will happen to us if we all have to leave," the girl said. "Where will we go? Will we still be able to stay together? Will I have to care for my sisters and brother? I don't want to be a prostitute." But children's advocates are warning that kids will be forced onto the streets unless the government takes their needs into account. "Sometime next year, the streets will be full because the fathers will not be able to look after the kids, and the kids will have nothing to do on the commercial farms," warned Moosa Kasimonje, the executive director of the Just Children Foundation, which cares for street children in Harare. He told Zimbabwe's Independent that girls are especially vulnerable. "A girl child cannot last in the street for a day" without being harassed, he said.From the BBC, 22 September
Zimbabwe radio 'free for all'
Harare - Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has declared that a private radio station can start operating immediately. This breaks the current monopoly by the state broadcaster, which is widely seen as being a government mouthpiece. The minister of information accepted that the legal monopoly was unconstitutional but wanted time to pass new regulations controlling private radio and television stations. This decision is a major breakthrough for Zimbabwe's private media and for the political opposition. The state broadcasting monopoly gives the ruling Zanu-PF party a huge advantage in rural areas where privately owned newspapers are not available, and in any case, most people cannot afford to buy them. They rely for their information on state radio, which never criticises the government and rarely mentions the opposition.
However, lawyers for Capital Radio advised it to start broadcasting as soon as possible before new regulations were passed. The information minister wanted time to draft such regulations, but the Supreme Court said that was not its business. As the state monopoly has only just been struck down, there is currently no legal requirement to have a license to broadcast and, in the words of the chief justice, there is a free for all. Gerry Jackson, one of the directors of Capital Radio, told the BBC that it would start operating in three or four weeks time. The information minister recently stated that those who were fronts for foreign interests would not be allowed to run radio or television stations in Zimbabwe.From The Zimbabwe Standard, 24 September
Cautious welcome on airwaves ruling
A CAUTIOUS welcome has greeted Friday’s Supreme Court ruling which nullified the ZBC’s monopoly on the airwaves, paving the way for independent broadcasters to compete in the industry. Friday’s ruling came after an application by Capitol Radio (Private) Limited which sought an order allowing it to import into Zimbabwe all radio and other equipment necessary for it to operate a commercial radio station and to broadcast within and outside Zimbabwe.
The entire bench of the Supreme Court declared that the monopoly on broadcasting services created by section 27 of the Broadcasting Act was inconsistent with section 20 of the constitution, which enshrines a person’s right to freedom of expression, freedom to hold opinions, and receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Government spokesman, Prof Jonathan Moyo, immediately said that the state welcomed the ruling and would put in place the necessary mechanisms by the end of next week.
The coordinator of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, Andy Moyse, said the Supreme Court ruling was a significant step towards moving the airwaves away from government control. He said this would bring greater diversity, and "an alternative to the propaganda that we have been subjected to". "But I still believe that there is a long way to go. Although the government has said that it welcomes the ruling, I do not think they will let go easily. We can expect a struggle for the airwaves, and government is likely to try to recover lost ground in setting the regulations and granting licences. I shall be extremely surprised - and happy - if they appoint a truly independent broadcasting authority, answerable only to Parliament," said Moyse.
The acting managing director of Joy Television, Tony De Villiers, yesterday told The Standard: "We can now expect to be fully licenced so that we can make the necessary investments to take our services to Bulawayo and other major centres. As we have always advocated for a joint venture with ZBC TV, we would like to appeal again to the national broadcaster to see both the economic and social benefit of such an arrangement. After Friday’s court ruling, I am sure there will be no need for Flame Lily Broadcasting to resort to the courts again." Flame Lily Broadcasting presently has a case before the courts over ZBC’s non-complaince in implementing the contract between the two, relating to the carrying of live signals, the sharing of studios and pre-broadcast facilities, and general lack of cooperation. Established 36 months ago, Joy TV has enjoyed a significant amount of growth and popularity among Zimbabwe television viewers.
Basildon Peta, the secretary-general for the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), welcomed the ruling. "We welcome the landmark Supreme Court ruling which has broken the fossilised ZBC monopoly on broadcasting. The judgment is a major victory for the struggle for press freedom in Zimbabwe," said Peta. "He added: "It is unfortunate that the citizens of the country had to go to court to get what rightfully belongs to them in a so-called democratic country. We now hope that government will move swiftly to facilitate the establishment of an independent commission to grant licences to deserving cases." He said ZUJ also hoped that government would not repeat the chicanery that happened during the cellular licence saga when the state sought to bar Strive Masiyiwa of Econet Wireless from obtaining a licence to operate.From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 23 September
A despot's wife can't even go shopping
Oh dear. Shopping is such a hassle these days. First, London is off-limits. Now New York. How can Grace Mugabe ever dethrone Ghana's Nana Rawlings as Africa's Best-dressed First Lady if poor Grace can't frequent the world's most luxurious boutiques? An embarrassing pattern is emerging. Mugabe visits a cosmopolitan capital and some crazies pop up trying to arrest him or put him on trial for some alleged human rights abuse. Worse, the news goes around the world, spoiling yet another photo op. Just after a possibly last speech at the United Nations, where he posed as St George slaying the colonial dragon, Mugabe is unpleasantly reminded of reality. Just after going retro with 1970s liberation rhetoric in his tirade, the year 2000 creeps in with its scary suggestion of accountability.
The vision of Augusto Pinochet under house arrest in Britain and in court in Chile must haunt every despot in the world. The Foday Sankohs, Stroessners and Suhartos can wake up and smell the coffee: the culture and practice of international impunity is crumbling. Human rights are universal. You could be tried for abuses outside of your country. A recent trial in Senegal brings the issue ominously closer. In a stunning, historic moment of jurisprudence, in February, a Senegalese court indicted Chad's former dictator, Hissein Habre, in exile in Senegal since 1990, for human rights atrocities committed when he ruled Chad. This was the first time an African country brought a rights case against another nation's head of state.
Habre mounted an expensive lobbying and media campaign. Interfering with the judiciary's independence, President Abdoulaye Wade, who was elected in March, removed Judge Demba Kandji from the case and put in a political protege. He promptly dismissed torture charges. The case is under appeal to Senegal's highest court. When Wade attended the Millennium Summit in New York, Human Rights Watch urged him publicly to reinstate charges.
Would South African courts entertain such a notion in the near future? Last November South Africa refused to hear a case brought by victims against deposed Ethiopian strongman Mengistu Haile Mariam when he came for medical treatment from his exile in Zimbabwe. But this could change, in line with international legal thinking and with South Africa's role in Africa. As a culture of human rights becomes rooted in South Africa, the judiciary could adopt the principle of international law that state-sponsored torture is a crime subject to universal jurisdiction and can be prosecuted no matter where it was committed. Perhaps the Mugabes should not go shopping in Cape Town, just in case.
It won't happen tomorrow, but an international tribunal for crimes against humanity is not far away. Granted, there is a double standard. It is hard to imagine Henry Kissinger brought to trial for carpet-bombing Cambodia with bombs and landmines that are still chopping off limbs today. The Pinochet saga threw a spanner in the greased machinery of diplomatic complacency and financial greed. Even if Britain manoeuvred itself diplomatically out of an embarrassing situation with its former ally by shipping him off to Chile ("Fastest recovery since Lazarus rose from the dead," someone quipped), the hornet's nest stirred did not quieten down. Pinochet's self-given, lifelong immunity was removed and he is on trial today in Chile. The unthinkable happened. Pinochet has a case to answer for more than 3 000 people murdered under his rule.
Recently, in Mexico and Italy, two Argentinean torturers were arrested and charged for murders committed during Argentina's dirty war. The one in Mexico was caught boarding a plane to flee. Uruguay is opening its archives to track down babies kidnapped by the military from women prisoners and given in adoption in the mid-1970s; one was found three months ago. Across Latin America strongmen and torturers are reviewing their holiday options. Mugabe is in select company: Radovan Karadzic, Li Peng, Pinochet, Rwanda and Kosovo's genocidaires. Mugabe's ally Laurent Kabila may join the club soon. Last year Kabila nearly cancelled a visit to Belgium on fears activists might bring him to court. The Belgian government had to give its highest assurances that this would not happen before Kabila boarded the Brussels-bound plane.
So what is poor Grace to do? Shop by catalogue from Harare? Thank Dieu one can rest assured that the French will always welcome any greedy, power-crazy dictator, from Baby Doc Duvalier to Emperor Bokassa, as long as he fulfils two out of three requirements:
Belongs to the Francophonie;
Has lots of resources available. Oil, diamonds and cash are good. Will take American Express in a crunch;
Has a clothes-horse for a wife.
Take courage, Grace. Even if Paris became off-limits, there is always Dubai and Riyadh, awash with glitzy shopping malls, although, helas, not as much cachet as shopping in Harrod's or at Trump Towers.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 22 September
MDC arms find 'concocted'
The raid on Zimbabwe's opposition party offices bore all the trademarks of the country's secret service
'It was an inside job," declared Zimbabwe's Minister of Home Affairs John Nkomo on Tuesday, referring to last week's bomb attack on the offices of the opposition MDC. Sceptics say he is spot on. The attack and subsequent "discovery" of arms of war at MDC premises bore all the hallmarks of the country's shadowy secret service. Nkomo claimed police found a loaded pistol, grenades, pellets and "military-type" handset radios at various MDC offices raided last week. He did not say at which particular premises they found the items or why it took them four days to announce their discovery. Nor did he say why the MDC should want to bomb their own headquarters.
The MDC admits to ownership of a pellet gun and two-way radios used by security guards but describes other evidence as "concocted". None of it was discovered in the presence of MDC officials who accompanied the police during their searches, MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube pointed out. Earlier this month Parliament approved a supplementary budget which included an appropriation of Z$600-million for the Office of the President, which houses the Central Intelligence Organisation. The money is not subject to audit.
President Robert Mugabe's government has a long record of making arms hauls from political opponents. In 1982 Joshua Nkomo's Zapu party had its properties confiscated after caches of weapons were found on them. Those charged were acquitted by the courts but detained for four years under emergency powers. In 1995 opposition Zanu-Ndonga leader Ndabaningi Sithole was charged with possession of arms, including a landmine, and plotting to assassinate Mugabe. The case, which was greeted with public scepticism, is still on appeal.
This week's dramatic disclosure was trailed in the government-owned media by unnamed senior policemen promising "hot" and "revealing" evidence following their raids. MDC lawyers managed to retrieve computer disks and other documents police had seized with a catch-all warrant subsequently overturned by the high court. It was too late, however, to prevent information on strategy and membership falling into the hands of Mugabe's men. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, like many, believes the announcement of the arms find is simply a pretext for banning his party, which came close to unseating Mugabe's Zanu-PF government in the June parliamentary election. "Let them go ahead," he declared. "I am not the MDC. The people are." He said he was dismayed that Nkomo, "a man I still regarded as honourable within Zanu-PF, could stand up in Parliament and make such false statements". Tsvangirai said his party "reserved the right to take mass action to protest this harassment".
The ruling party's need to portray the MDC as a colonial puppet looms large in public suspicions of what lay behind the raids. When the British government condemned the hand-grenade attack on the MDC office last week, Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo was quick to see an opening. "It shows Britain and its shadow political party have been caught with their pants down," he declared.
However, similar disclosures in the past have backfired. Last year three Americans caught with an array of weapons at Harare airport were accused by government officials of plotting to assassinate Mugabe, involvement in a bombing campaign in Zambia and the killing of foreign tourists in Uganda. None of this turned out to be true and the state eventually confined its charges to possession of weapons of war. Immediately before the June election, a British diplomatic consignment was opened in the presence of state-television cameras hoping to capture incriminating materials destined for the MDC. Only building materials for the British high commission were found.
It remains to be seen what charges, if any, will flow from the latest exercise. Nkomo said key suspects were known and the police were "simply consolidating their evidence". Let's hope they don't rely on the ruling party's expertise. During the election campaign, a caller who made a bomb threat to the offices of the Daily News, an independent paper, forgot that cellphones record the numbers of callers. The call was traced to a librarian at the Zanu-PF headquarters.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 24 September
MDC launches presidential race campaign
THE MDC had started embarking on a countrywide campaign in preparation for the 2002 presidential elections. MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, told The Standard that his party had started campaigning, paying particular attention to the rural areas where the party secured fewer seats during the June parliamentary elections. This year’s parliamentary elections were the toughest for Zanu PF since independence, with the-then nine months old MDC sweeping 57 seats, mostly from urban areas, whilst the ruling party secured 62 seats, mostly from rural areas.
Tsvangirai has already held meetings in Mberengwa, Buhera, Masvingo and parts of Manicaland. "I have started the presidential campaign in rural areas, and the turn-out has been very encouraging. In fact, we had not expected such huge turnouts. We are getting several thousands of supporters at most gatherings," said the MDC president. People in some rural areas, he said, were eager to know more about MDC, its manifesto, and to be enlightened about the current situation in the country. "The people were so accommodating were very eager to know more about the party. So far I have not experienced any violence or harassment from anyone in those areas where we lost seats," said Tsvangirai.
This week the MDC is expected to hold campaign rallies at Nkayi and Bubi-Umgusa in Matabeleland. Simultaneously, some MDC MPs are already preparing for their party’s presidential election campaign by holding some political rallies in their respective constituencies, in preparation for the 2002 elections. The meetings by MDC MPs are held in urban areas - the party’s traditional stronghold.
23 September 2000
In this issue :
From The Daily news, 22 September
Riot police evict war vets
ARMED riot police yesterday evicted and carried to Chivhu war veterans and Zanu PF supporters who raided and beat up commercial farmers and their workers at Hoffman Farm and O’Neill Estates in the Featherstone area on Wednesday. Early yesterday morning, armed police were deployed at the entrances to the farms while farm lorries ferried the invaders to Chivhu. Before the police arrived, six war veterans threatened workers at O’Neill Estates. The war veterans immediately fled when the riot police moved in to guard the area. The invaders’ shacks were destroyed by the workers who said their continued presence threatened their lives.
Boitie O’Neill, owner of the estate said the situation was better after a meeting on Wednesday night at Featherstone police station between farmers and an official from Harare who assured them they would be safe. The official did not reveal his identity. Said O’Neill: "The situation is better now after police intervened. But workers are not happy because the leader of the war veterans, Gumbo, moves around with the police. "When the war veterans beat up farm workers on Wednesday, Gumbo was carrying a gun but nothing was done to him." O’Neill said the officer-in-charge of Featherstone police station was present when Gumbo and his team harassed them on Wednesday. Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena said yesterday he had not been briefed about the situation. But O’Neill said one suspect was picked up by Featherstone police for questioning over the Wednesday events.
On Wednesday afternoon nearly 1 000 residents of Chivhu besieged the town's police station to urge the police to stop the lawlessness in the farming community. "We went to Chivhu police station to tell police leaders that our lives were being destroyed by the war veterans. We also want our children to go to school. "How can we do that when our jobs are being threatened daily?" said William Muronda.
From The Star (SA), 22 September
Last-minute reprieve for 100 Zim farmers
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's moves to seize white owned farms suffered a setback on Thursday when the Supreme Court intervened in the looming eviction of about 100 farmers from their land. The ruling came five days before the expiry of eviction notices served by the government on the farms. The farms are among more than 2 000 properties the government has singled out for "compulsory acquisition" under Mugabe's plans to confiscate 90 percent of all the country's commercial farms. The owners would have been the first to be forced off their property by law since the government launched its "fast-track land reform programme" in June. The five supreme court judges said the farmers could not be evicted solely because their eviction notices expired. "It is only the courts, which can issue eviction orders," said Alex Masterson, lawyer for the CFU which appealed for the ruling.
The order was granted with the agreement of the CFU and the government, which meant that the state had conceded its laws on land seizure were flawed, he said. The CFU's application was filed last week as an urgent matter,. The union demanded a halt to the government's action because it refused to compensate land owners fairly and because the legislation barring compensation for land was issued in terms of a presidential edict, and not through parliament. It also said farmers and their workers were denied proper protection by the law. "Farmers and workers have also been made victims of government discrimination because of their alleged support for opposition political parties."
For the last eight months, white farmers were subjected to a campaign of violence, intimidation and destruction as so-called guerilla war veterans occupied about 1700 farms. Police ignored repeated court orders to remove the squatters and restore the rule of law. The government on Friday published a list of 29 farms for expropriation, bringing to 2 040 the number formally named to be taken over and resettled by blacks.
IT is touch and go whether the Zimbabwe Democracy 2000 Bill currently before the US Congress will make it to the statute book ahead of the House’s adjournment on October 6. Competing pressures to both pass and delay the legislation could see it abandoned, Congressional sources said this week. Pressure groups in the US are determined to see it passed. They have invited written submissions from Zimbabweans on the continuing incidences of lawlessness and violation of human rights to put pressure on legislators to move with urgency. But it is now unlikely to go through.
The Bill to block US aid to Zimbabwe has already passed the Senate. It is set to be debated in the House of Representatives in early October. That will depend, sources told the Independent, on the House Committee on International Relations, or more particularly its Africa sub-committee, agreeing to final touches that are needed before it can be presented on the floor of the House. If the full committee gives its consent it can be "reported out" to the House and passed by a voice vote. Congressman Donald Payne had been due to speak on the Bill in committee yesterday. Payne visited Zimbabwe last year.
But two things are holding it up, the Washington sources said. Firstly, Congress’s busy legislative schedule has put the Bill on a back burner. And it looks unlikely now that it can forge ahead of other more pressing matters. Secondly, the Bill is focused on the June election and Zimbabwean ministers have made great play of the suggestion that the picture in Zimbabwe is now very different. Ironically, ministers have pointed to the opposition MDC presence in the new parliament to strengthen their case against the Bill. Zimbabwe now has democracy they argue.
African-American representatives who have supported the Bill are keen to redirect its focus to accommodate both the changing situation in Zimbabwe and intensive lobbying by Southern African leaders and powerful lobbyists like Herman Cohen. But other groups are pressing for its adoption before the clock stops on October 6. "The Committee on International Relations has an extremely full plate and the Zimbabwe Democracy Act may not make it onto the schedule for the upcoming mark-up (vote)," a congressional staff member told the Zimbabwe embassy on Tuesday. "But that does not mean that the chairman of the full committee (Benjamin Gilman) and the chairman of the Africa subcommittee (Ed Royce) and many other members of the committee do not fully support it," the staffer said. "As you’ll recall, we passed by voice vote (unanimous) a few months ago the resolution condemning President Mugabe and the political war he is sponsoring to maintain his grasp on power. As far as we can see, nothing has changed, and it may actually be getting worse. He cannot paper that over by giving speeches in Harlem or paying lots of Zimbabwe’s increasingly scarce foreign exchange to Washington lobbyists."
The Zimbabwean government already has a delegation in the US led by foreign minister Stan Mudenge who is shuttling between New York and Washington lobbying for a reconsideration on what the government has described as a potentially devastating measure. It is understood that Mudenge stayed behind after the UN Millennium Summit to spearhead the lobbying. Mudenge had met Susan Rice, the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, as part of his efforts to seek support for the Bill to be dropped. Mudenge is said to have indicated that he would seek meetings with members of Congress to present his side of the story. "We are awaiting briefing from the minister on the developments in America," presidential spokesman George Charamba said.
Sixty congressmen and women who constitute the International Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives and its Africa sub-committee are dealing with the Zimbabwe 2000 Democracy Bill and they will make submissions to their colleagues in October. Zimbabwe has been gripped by a wave of violence and lawlessness since February and this intensified in the run-up to the June parliamentary election. Zimbabwe has already garnered the support of its neighbours in the SADC regional grouping to fight the Bill which represents a Congressional protest against the collapse of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
From The Star (SA), 22 September
Zim's minister bristles at US 'meddling'
United Nations - The foreign minister of Zimbabwe said on Thursday that a bill before the United States senate concerning Zimbabwe's controversial land reform plans sought to interfere in his country. Stanislaus Mudenge was referring to the Zimbabwe Democracy Act 2000, passed in June by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which would suspend US aid to Zimbabwe and block international loans until democracy is restored in the country. The bill expresses disapproval of Zimbabwe's land-reform proposals, which envisage the distribution of large tracts of white-owned farmland to landless blacks. Squatters have occupied more than 1 700 white-owned farms since February.
The US legislation "proposes to prescribe the outcome of our land reform exercise and seeks to virtually usurp the authority of the parliament of Zimbabwe", Mudenge said in an address to the UN general assembly. The land reform program "is not only meant to correct the wrongs wrought on our society by colonialism, but also to restore our people's heritage and basic means of subsistence and economic participation," Mudenge said. He complained that "powerful interests" supporting the white farmers "have employed their financial might, as well as their control of the media not only to choke our economy, but also to demonize us before the world". His address coincided with an increase of tension in Zimbabwe in the seven-month occupation of white-owned farms across the country. White farmers said ruling party militants opened fire Thursday on a group of white farmers and their black workers. No one was hurt in the shooting near the farming town of Featherstone about 110km south of the capital Harare.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 22 September
Policeman arrested over MDC office bombing
THE bombing of the MDC offices in Harare last week took on a new dimension yesterday with information that a police officer was arrested in connection with the attack. Sources close to the investigation said police last week arrested a suspect who turned out to be a policeman and had detained him at Harare Central Police station. Insiders said the officer, who was based at Morris Depot, has since been released and transferred to the Police Protection Unit Training section after it was discovered that he was a member of the force.
It is understood that the police officer was also a state security intelligence informer. He had infiltrated the MDC and was masquerading as a youth member of the party. Police confirmed arresting somebody last week besides the four MDC officials picked up but declined to give reasons for the arrest. Sources said the crux of the matter in the bombing incident, which Home Affairs minister John Nkomo squarely blamed on the MDC as an "inside job", was that government and the ruling Zanu PF wanted to stage a propaganda coup against the opposition. So far its campaign to win hearts and minds has not been particularly successful. Proving that the MDC was in league with foreigners might do the trick, government hoped.
Previous efforts in the dirty war include attempts by government and ruling party functionaries to fabricate documents and other "evidence" to show that the MDC was being used by foreigners to promote an imperialist agenda. These were circulated by the Minister of Information and other ruling party spokesmen ahead of the election and given wide coverage in the government media. To complicate the matter, rumours were rife this week that the MDC director of security, John Nkatazo, who was last Thursday picked up for interrogation together with three party colleagues in connection with possessing arms of war, was implicated in the bombing. The suspects were later released. The rumours said Nkatazo was linked to the bombing because the MDC wanted to fire him for suspected collaboration with its opponents.
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed the allegations against Nkatazo saying nothing of the sort happened. "We in MDC don’t work like that. We did not intend to fire anyone. No one in our party has been arrested but since police arrested some people they have their own suspects," he said. MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe said no one from MDC has been arrested. "If the police arrested suspects whom they think are MDC they must be planted individuals to justify the claim that the bombing was an inside job because no one from our party has been arrested," he said. MDC Secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the speculation that his party’s security aides who had fallen out of favour with the party’s top leadership were involved in last week’s bomb blast was an act of dis-information by government. Ncube said the real motive of the bomb blast was to help government gain access to the MDC database which contained confidential information. "Police have been trying to say that the bombing was an inside job. They have been saying our people were involved and that is nonsense," he said.
The real issue, sources said, was that government wanted to get information on MDC programmes, funding and its strategies for the 2002 presidential election. That information would assist authorities to counter the party which they have been unable to effectively combat for lack of inside information. State security agents have apparently been unable to elicit accurate information through conventional intelligence gathering techniques. "The problem is that government has been unable to figure out why we were so successful in the election," Ncube said. "There has been no let-up on us since that time because we are continuing to strengthen our party and they are running scared of it. The bombing was a pretext to get access to our database," he said.
Nkomo announced in parliament on Tuesday that the bombing of the MDC HQ was an inside job. He said police, who last week ransacked the party’s offices in vain, had unearthed arms of war comprising grenades, pistols, rifles, cartridges, and military type hand-set radios, among other things. Nkomo did not say which arms had been found at which premises, nor did he say why none of the weapons had been found while MDC officials were present. It took him four days to make an announcement of the "discovery". The MDC accused Nkomo and his colleagues of trying to create conditions of crisis and give themselves carte blanche to crack down. But sources close to the issue pointed out that government and Zanu PF officials considered the raid on the MDC offices as a "priceless" propaganda coup. They had acquired information on strategy and membership which could be used to fuel their campaign to "prove" that the MDC was an agency of foreign interests.
edited version of Reflections on Fearful Men
The Unlawful Intrusion of the MDC Offices Thursday 14th and Friday 15th September 2000
Driving home last night, the moon tracked gracefully above the trees of Harare, oblivious and unconcerned.
Earlier in the day, at much the same time as the Olympic Flame was being ignited in Sydney, a smashing and banging rang through the Pearce Partnership Offices (architects who had the courage to sub-let their offices to the MDC). A man was hammering away at the metallic lock of a glass door and shouting for the door to be opened. In support of his demands he had fifteen shabbily dressed men in police riot gear, armed with a mixture of AK 47’s and FN rifles. The man outside gave me the impression that he had lived without any love for much of his life.
We advised him that this office belonged to a firm of architects and that they should go to the next entrance. The angry man persisted with his smashing at the entrance to a private company’s premises. Tiring, he handed the bolt-cutters to his accomplice (I was not surprised, you try holding a pair of bolt-cutters above your head for a while!).
We asked to see his warrant. "I do not need a warrant. Open this door before we break it!" We asked him to identify himself. "I do not have to give my name, we are about to enter this premises by force!" We wished to wait until our lawyers arrived before agreeing to open the door. "That will be too late. We are coming in now!" Some of his armed accomplices adopted threatening stances.
We decided to open the emergency exit and many of the office staff left by this route, an unpleasant experience for those fearful of heights. Eight floors to clamber down with a series of open air stairs above a busy street. You have to look down to see where to put your feet. Rudo and Amanda elected to stay.
The main door was then opened a crack and the aggressors were advised that they had no right to enter the premises and if they did, it would be an illegal act. "You can come down to Central if you wish to discuss that further." He then instructed some of the armed contingent to push on the door and in they streamed. The invaders comprised plain-clothed men, two women and about eight men carrying weapons. Two got working on the computers, downloading files onto a disk and damaging the floppy drive in the process while the rest gathered armfuls of files and papers and made off with them. Chirinda, (we had found his name out by now, but not his rank or organisation), refused to make a list of, or sign for any documents.
While attempting to monitor the theft we did a snap survey by asking each invader, "When you get home tonight will your children be proud of the work that you have done today?". They refused to comment but from their eyes their answer was clear. Only two of the eight men with weapons were actually committed to what they were doing. They were the only two who actually had their fingers on their triggers. The computer hack was a bitter young man. We should draw encouragement from the fact that over 50% of the crack team were undertaking this deed due to their own fear and not their commitment to the ruling party. There is no doubt that when the national "crunch time" finally arrives the majority of personnel carrying arms will support the will of the people.
This experience provided an interesting perspective on fear. Once those perpetrating the unlawful entry had burst in, for most of us, our fear dissipated. In stark contrast, the invaders although heavily armed, were very fearful and jittery. We must take strength from the fact that those operating unjustly court fear themselves and operate only with the help of power tactics and intimidation. When the "collective" heat is on they will collapse in a heap.
Chief Inspector Hwati, who had earlier given assurances to us that the police would wait for the ruling from the High Court following an application by the MDC, finally appeared looking bashful. If, indeed, this emotion is possible for those intent on using their power unlawfully. However, in all fairness, he had dealt with the raids in a stand-off manner which one might interpret as professionalism. It is important to note that his superior, Matema, kept away during this final, vicious phase.
Joel is a member of the MDC youth wing who has been the security presence at the entrance to the MDC Support Centre since the elections. Joel lacks the finesse of a Swiss air-hostess. In fact he is more than a little abrasive but he is highly committed and very effective. Many visitors have been upset by his manner, which is uniform in its application and does not defer to bearers of business cards laden with qualifications and titles. There is little doubt that the CIO would have planted an item of war in our offices prior to the raid, had it not been for Joel’s uncompromising approach and alertness.
At 11pm on Wednesday night heavily armed police demanding to be let into the offices woke Joel, who stays in a room at our Provincial offices. Armed only with courage, Joel refused and a stand-off ensued for the rest of the night. He arrived at the MDC Support Centre on Thursday afternoon and resumed his post at the door. He manned his post all night in the dubious company of another bunch of armed police. Joel then joined the youth security detachment that went to escort the president of MDC from the international airport to his home. At 9pm on Friday he caught a bus to his room to get some sleep after 48 hours of voluntary and committed duty.
Joel works because he truly believes in the MDC. This young man understands the politics of Zimbabwe better than most of the professionals and businessmen in the country. It takes courage to allow oneself to understand. Joel has limited education but his courage knows no bounds. He gets food and bus fare as his material reward.
Thank you Joel. Because of people like you, democracy will prevail in our country.
Southern African foreign ministers on Tuesday expressed deep opposition to proposed US legislation to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe if democratic reforms and changes to a controversial land reform program were not implemented.
In a meeting here with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the foreign ministers from the 14 members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said the bill would not achieve its aim and that it sought to impose an American solution to Zimbabwe's problems.
"Several of them spoke out on the reasons they opposed the bill, saying they thought it would be counterproductive to the cause of democracy in Zimbabwe," a senior State Department official said after the meeting.
Albright told her counterparts that while the legislation, which passed the Senate in June and is now being considered by the House of Representatives, was not sponsored by President Bill Clinton's administration, the White House and State Department shared its aim, the official said.
"We do share the goals of the bill to support democracy and consensual land reform in Zimbabwe," the official told reporters, adding that Albright did, however, express some reservations about the sanctions the law could impose.
"We (are) not keen on the issue of sanctions and we would have to consider their views and consider our position as we try to work with Congress on this bill," the official said.
The Zimbabwe 2000 Democracy Bill would bar aid and debt relief and instruct US executive directors of multinational lending institutions to oppose credits to Harare unless the situation there improved.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has come under intense fire for his land reform program in which the government is seizing white-owned farms and distributing the property to landless blacks.
The program, as well as attendent occupations of farmland by black squatters, has led to violence amid equally controversial elections that were also criticized by the west.
In a statement released after a meeting in Namibia in August, the 14 SADC heads of state vowed to fight the Zimbabwe 2000 Democracy legislation, calling it "punitive," "counterproductive" and "unjust."
They also maintained that it would "have far-reaching negative implications for the economic development and evolution of democratic institutions in Zimbabwe in particular and the region in general."
"We further note, with concern, that the bill also aims to subvert Zimbabwe's economic foundation by prohibiting assistance or debt relief," the leaders said.
The State Department official did not address those particular points of concern but said Albright had several times reiterated the Washington supported the intended effect of the bill.
"She made quite clear that we share the goals of the legislation (and) she made quite clear this is not an administration bill, but that we did want to work with Congress on it," the official said.
HARARE (Reuters) - The Zimbabwean government said Thursday it would intensify the eviction of illegal black settlers on white-owned farms, targeting those who had occupied land after the July launch of a government resettlement scheme.
Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo said in a statement that the cabinet had sanctioned the evictions ``to end corruption and violence in the land redistribution process.''
Armed police Monday destroyed shacks and evicted hundreds of black liberation war veterans and their supporters from five farms outside the capital Harare.
``There are too many criminals now on the farms who are inviting people in and selling land to them. Our stance is that no one, except central government, has authority to allocate land,'' Nkomo said.
His statement was the first official comment on the rare show of force against land invaders at the center of President Robert Mugabe's controversial land seizure campaign.
Previously Mugabe had said his government would not force the veterans off the farms.
Veterans association leader Chenjerai Hunzvi -- who condemned Monday's police action -- told the ZIANA news agency that Mugabe had assured the veterans' leaders at a meeting on Wednesday that there would be no more evictions.
``The president was not happy with the raids and evictions. He assured us that they would not happen again,'' he said.
Mugabe's spokesman was not available for comment.
Zimbabwe's vital agricultural production has plummeted since veterans of the 1970s liberation war, with the support of the government, began seizing white-owned farms for black resettlement in February.
Nkomo said the state was targeting people who had invaded farms after the government launched its fast-track resettlement program in July. He did not say how many farms would be affected by the eviction campaign.
``This is a clear and straightforward position. We will not tolerate anyone who entered a farm after Vice-President (Joseph) Msika launched the fast resettlement program,'' he said.
NO INTEREFENCE ON FARMS
Nkomo said those who had occupied land before July were expected ``to stay put and do nothing to interfere with farming activities until the government allocates them land.''
Mugabe's government has served notice to acquire more than 2,000 of the 3,041 white-owned farms earmarked for resettlement and passed legislation absolving Harare of responsibility to pay compensation.
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents 4,500 white farmers, has welcomed the police action but urged the government to restore order on hundreds of other occupied farms.
At least 31 people -- opposition supporters and five white farmers -- were killed during the farm invasions and an accompanying wave of violence across Zimbabwe before parliamentary elections in June that Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party narrowly won.
The 76-year-old former guerrilla leader, who has been in power since the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980, has put the onus on London to compensate white farmers.
International donors led by Britain, who support the idea of land reform in Zimbabwe but object to Mugabe's approach, say they will not renew aid until Harare restores order on the export-earning farms.
Sep 22 2000 12:20PM ET
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party charged Friday that an undercover police agent sent in by President Robert Mugabe's government was responsible for a hand grenade attack on its headquarters last week.
A government spokesman dismissed the accusation by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as ``absolute rubbish'' meant to cover up what he said was growing evidence with the police that the MDC itself was behind the September 11 attack which shattered a few windows but caused no injuries.
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai told a news conference that a member of the police protection unit -- whom he named but was unavailable for comment -- had infiltrated the MDC youth wing seven months ago under a program to destabilize the party.
``Under pressure to register success, a new plan to bomb the MDC offices to create a pretext for searching the premises and harass and arrest the MDC officials was put in place,'' he said.
Tsvangirai said the agent was issued with hand and smoke grenades and other weapons to plant at the homes of some MDC leaders and officials.
The MDC leader said the agent had escaped in a police truck after bombing the MDC office around midnight on September 11.
``The evidence in our possession clearly points to the involvement of people in the highest offices of government in a conspiracy to destabilize the MDC.
He said the destabilization plan was sanctioned at the highest level of government and initiated by and executed under the direct supervision of the Police Headquarters,'' he charged.
Tsvangirai said Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo must resign because they had misled the nation.
Nkomo told parliament Tuesday the police had found some arms in a raid on three MDC offices in Harare and had evidence that the grenade attack MDC headquarters was an inside job.
Moyo buttressed the government accusation, while Nkomo -- who is in charge of police -- said the police were now consolidating evidence against key suspects in the MDC.
Dozens of police, armed with pistols, rifles and shotguns, raided the MDC headquarters in Harare's Avenues district and two other offices in the capital city on September 14.
The MDC accused the government of harassment and of trying to plant false evidence to give it reason to arrest its leaders.
Four MDC officials were arrested for more than six hours on the day and but were released without charge.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said Friday it was ridiculous to suggest police were involved but would not comment further.
A government spokesman also dismissed the MDC charge, saying: ``That is absolute rubbish. They know the police are closing in and they are throwing rubbish to cover their tracks.''
The MDC says Mugabe is trying to destroy the MDC ahead of presidential elections in 2002 after its strong performance in parliamentary elections in June.
At least 31 people, mostly MDC supporters, were killed in a campaign of violence blamed largely on Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party ahead of the June elections.
ZANU-PF narrowly defeated the MDC, winning 62 of the 120 contested seats. The MDC captured 57 seats and one seat went to a smaller opposition party in the biggest electoral challenge to Mugabe since he came to power 20 years ago when the former British colony of Rhodesia gained independence.
Policeman arrested over MDC office bombing
Bleak future for service stations
EU to cut political ties with Zimbabwe
Moyo cracks whip at Zimpapers
Land swap deal foiled
ATTEMPTS by a local company to swap its estate in
exchange for two government-owned lucrative game parks were thwarted last month,
following strong objections from the Department National Parks and Wildlife
Management, Standard investigations have revealed.
If the deal, which would have granted Kalamazoo Business Systems a 30-year
lease to run the Chete Safari area and Sijarira Forest area—both in the Middle
Sabi area—had gone through, the state would have been prejudiced to the tune of
$37 million annually, a report from the National Parks reveals.
A letter sent to Charles Chipato, the former permanent secretary of the then
ministry of mines, environment and tourism, by Charles Davy, a representative of
Kalamazoo, said vice president Joseph Msika had already sanctioned the deal
giving his company exclusive lease over the two areas.
“At a meeting held yesterday in the vice president’s office, it was agreed
that the minister of environment and tourism would grant Kalamazoo Business
Systems a 15-year lease over the whole of Chete Safari area and Sijarira Forest
Area. These leases would be given by government in exchange for Kalamazoo
Business Systems handing over to government the whole 33 000 hectare of land
that makes up Charter Estate, together with all permanent improvements. The
lease would be free for the 15 years and for the 15 year renewable period,” Davy
wrote in the letter dated 1 March 2000.
National Parks, however, objected to the deal, because it was “fatally
“They overvalue the current market value of Charter Estate; they know, or
should have known and included in their equation, the high profile and premium
price photographic and angling activities which would significantly add to the
value of Chete Safari area,” argues National Parks.
“It is our submission that Kalamazoo is currently sitting on an asset which
is only worth the value of improvements. If these are assumed to be 20% of the
original estimated value of the property, it means that Kalamazoo’s asset is
worth $15,2 million, that is 20% of $80 million.
“Taking into account the totality of business activity in Chete/Sajarira
Complex, the potential income which would accrue to Kalamazoo is estimated at
$37 million annually or $555 million over a period of 15 years, rising to more
than $1 billion over 30 years. On this basis, Kalamazoo will realise the value
of Charter Estate in about four years allowing for infrastructure development
and other overheads.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, on the fate of the proposed deal, the
minister of environment and tourism, Francis Nhema, said the swap was proposed
before the government’s latest acquisition of farms for the fast track land
“Now that we have the land, it is no longer necessary. We have put Chete
Safari on tender, for the hunting concession,” Nhema said.
A highly placed source told The Standard last week that personal interests
played a leading role in the sanctioning of the botched deal.
If the deal, which would have granted Kalamazoo Business Systems a 30-year lease to run the Chete Safari area and Sijarira Forest area—both in the Middle Sabi area—had gone through, the state would have been prejudiced to the tune of $37 million annually, a report from the National Parks reveals.
A letter sent to Charles Chipato, the former permanent secretary of the then ministry of mines, environment and tourism, by Charles Davy, a representative of Kalamazoo, said vice president Joseph Msika had already sanctioned the deal giving his company exclusive lease over the two areas.
“At a meeting held yesterday in the vice president’s office, it was agreed that the minister of environment and tourism would grant Kalamazoo Business Systems a 15-year lease over the whole of Chete Safari area and Sijarira Forest Area. These leases would be given by government in exchange for Kalamazoo Business Systems handing over to government the whole 33 000 hectare of land that makes up Charter Estate, together with all permanent improvements. The lease would be free for the 15 years and for the 15 year renewable period,” Davy wrote in the letter dated 1 March 2000.
National Parks, however, objected to the deal, because it was “fatally flawed”.
“They overvalue the current market value of Charter Estate; they know, or should have known and included in their equation, the high profile and premium price photographic and angling activities which would significantly add to the value of Chete Safari area,” argues National Parks.
“It is our submission that Kalamazoo is currently sitting on an asset which is only worth the value of improvements. If these are assumed to be 20% of the original estimated value of the property, it means that Kalamazoo’s asset is worth $15,2 million, that is 20% of $80 million.
“Taking into account the totality of business activity in Chete/Sajarira Complex, the potential income which would accrue to Kalamazoo is estimated at $37 million annually or $555 million over a period of 15 years, rising to more than $1 billion over 30 years. On this basis, Kalamazoo will realise the value of Charter Estate in about four years allowing for infrastructure development and other overheads.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, on the fate of the proposed deal, the minister of environment and tourism, Francis Nhema, said the swap was proposed before the government’s latest acquisition of farms for the fast track land resettlement exercise.
“Now that we have the land, it is no longer necessary. We have put Chete Safari on tender, for the hunting concession,” Nhema said.
A highly placed source told The Standard last week that personal interests
played a leading role in the sanctioning of the botched deal.
No going back on court case, say CFU
EFFORTS by a local association to bring the
government and the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) to the negotiating table, hit
a snag last week when the two parties refused to compromise on the issue now
threatening the viability of the agricultural sector. The National Development
Assembly (NDA)-organised meeting was on Thursday dealt a blow when government
representatives failed to turn up on the grounds that they could not negotiate
with an organisation which had filed a legal suit against the State.
The government said that unless the CFU withdrew its litigation, it would not
sit down and discuss the issue.
The chairman of the NDA, Mutumwa Mawere, said he had discussed the issue with
the two vice-presidents and other senior government officials, who all indicated
their unwillingness to negotiate in light of the legal developments.
On the other hand, the president of the CFU, Tim Henwood, said his
organisation had for long tried to negotiate with the government, but the latter
had forcibly taken land from his association’s members.
“Our association agreed to seek help from the courts as a result of the
government’s unlawful grabbing of land belonging to the CFU. We cannot withdraw
our litigation now. We are not opposing the resettlement exercise, but we are
against the fast track exercise which is being done without planning.”
The CFU recently appealed to the Supreme Court to declare illegal—the
government’s compulsory acquisition of land. They also questioned the use of the
Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act.
The NDA, an association comprising labour, war veterans, the Zimbabwe Farmers
Union (ZFU), civic society, academics and the government, is trying to bring
stakeholders in the land issue onto the negotiating table. The NDA initiatives
comes at a time government has started its fast track land resettlement exercise
after it passed a law to compulsorily acquire land.
The government said that unless the CFU withdrew its litigation, it would not sit down and discuss the issue.
The chairman of the NDA, Mutumwa Mawere, said he had discussed the issue with the two vice-presidents and other senior government officials, who all indicated their unwillingness to negotiate in light of the legal developments.
On the other hand, the president of the CFU, Tim Henwood, said his organisation had for long tried to negotiate with the government, but the latter had forcibly taken land from his association’s members.
“Our association agreed to seek help from the courts as a result of the government’s unlawful grabbing of land belonging to the CFU. We cannot withdraw our litigation now. We are not opposing the resettlement exercise, but we are against the fast track exercise which is being done without planning.”
The CFU recently appealed to the Supreme Court to declare illegal—the government’s compulsory acquisition of land. They also questioned the use of the Presidential Powers Temporary Measures Act.
The NDA, an association comprising labour, war veterans, the Zimbabwe Farmers
Union (ZFU), civic society, academics and the government, is trying to bring
stakeholders in the land issue onto the negotiating table. The NDA initiatives
comes at a time government has started its fast track land resettlement exercise
after it passed a law to compulsorily acquire land.