Zimbabwe's chaotic land reform programme comes full circle
as so-called settlers are themselves violently evicted from
Sunday Times Foreign Desk
Tafireyi Matondo sits on a
drum along the Chirundu highway, surrounded by his wife, Chiedza, grimy
children and their personal possessions in the ruins of a gutted hut. Glum
and despairing, the 67-year-old war veteran battles to make sense of the
actions of the last couple of weeks. "It was alarming," he recalls.
"Soldiers and police came and evicted us military-style. They used tear gas,
beat us up, set our houses on fire, rained missiles and sparked something
like an inferno. We are sitting here in the open, we have nothing to eat,
nothing to drink and we don't know where to go. There is no one to help us."
It was an end Matondo never envisaged when he and other war veterans
violently invaded the farm Inkomo, north of Harare, about four years ago.
Then, he believed the government's promises: that the land they had brutally
wrested was now theirs, and their rights to it would be protected. But last
week, in a new twist to Zimbabwe's controversial land reform programme,
President Robert Mugabe's regime embarked on a new phase of evictions: that
of the war veterans and settlers who had taken over once-vibrant commercial
farms, usually those owned by whites.
In a show of force by
police, more than 200 settler families, as they are known, were moved off at
least 20 farms which include Little England, which last year was the subject
of a dispute between Mugabe's relatives and villagers. Domestic animals such
as cattle, goats and sheep were reportedly stolen as their owners were
booted out of their huts well before dawn, while other animals, such as
dogs, were killed. Huts on farms between the towns of Norton and Banket are
reported to have been torched and international human rights watchdog,
Amnesty International, said this week that at least 10 people were killed in
the eviction from Porta farm. Police denied the killings. By Wednesday this
week burning and looting had spread from 30km north of Harare and was
approaching Doma and Mhangura, more than 100km away. Agriculture Minister
Joseph Made said the evictions were to ensure that farm land that was seized
would be properly used. He said a land audit had shown that seized farms
were mostly lying fallow and had been reduced to dustbowls by settlers who
had no resources and lacked aptitude to till the land. Made insisted the
evictions would continue - even as the realisation that things have come
full circle seeps into the consciousness of the settlers.
Takawira, who was among thousands left stranded along the Chirundu highway:
"The government is now evicting us from the farms because it has used us to
vote it in, in previous elections. We know this is a political issue. The
government wants to be seen as if it is rectifying problems associated with
the land-reform programme and we are being used as the scapegoats." He said
there was also a growing belief among settlers that they were being evicted
so Zanu PF politicians could get the farms. But this realisation means
little to the wives of the settlers who once again find themselves without
homes - and without hope. "We are appealing to the government to show
mercy," said Chiedza Matondo. "We have grandchildren, some as young as 10,
and we don't know what to do."
Grace Mudiwa of Greendale,
Harare, yesterday morning left her home and went to Trust Towers, the
headquarters of Trust Bank, hoping that news of the bank's closure had just
been another nightmare. After having heard on Thursday evening that her bank
had been placed under curatorship, she still hoped that she would access her
salary yesterday. That was not to be, and she joined hundreds of other Trust
Bank account holders who will have to wait for the next six months, or until
conditions set for the bank have been relaxed, before she can withdraw her
salary. "We had just got paid on Wednesday and l was preparing to go and
withdraw some of my money, but when l heard that the bank had been closed
during the 8 pm news, my heart skipped a beat," she said. Yesterday morning,
she joined scores of other account holders who had hoped for a miracle, just
in case the bank opened for business. Instead, a notice was pasted on the
bank's glass doors, telling clients that the bank had been closed by order
of the Reserve Bank. Trust Bank becomes the fifth financial institution this
year - after Intermarket Discount House, Intermarket Banking Corporation,
Royal Bank and Barbican Bank - to be placed under the management of a
curator after the RBZ determined that they were financially unstable. First
National Building Society has also been under the management of a curator
for nearly two years. "l heard the rumours that the bank was about to be
closed early in the evening but when l rushed to the bank, the central bank
notice was already stuck on the windows," Brighton Matori said.
one of the best marketed and best designed corporate brands in the financial
services industry, and certainly in the country, many people never imagined
that Trust Bank would one day be placed under curatorship. Problems started
in late 2003 when the bank was caught up in the liquidity crunch that
gripped the financial services sector. By January, allegations of shady
dealings, that involved speculative investments in vehicles and bricks
surfaced. Heads rolled, with group chief executive officer William Nyemba
and executive directors Chris Goromonzi and Nyevero Hlupo being forced to
resign. The move was meant to be part of the troubled bank's clean-up
campaign as directed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). To get the
commercial bank back on its feet, the RBZ through the Troubled Bank Fund,
provided liquidity support. Of the $208 billion liquidity gap support and
$60 billion statutory reserve support sourced from the central bank (making
it a total of $268 billion), only $83 billion has been repaid so far. The
amount, however, excludes interest charged on the loans, now believed to be
beyond $1 trillion. And when the bank's shareholders booted their chairman,
Dr Tichaendepi Masaya, out of office on Wednesday, little did they know that
the RBZ had other plans for them. Addressing a Parliamentary portfolio
committee early this week, RBZ governor Dr Gideon Gono warned that nine
banks would face the chop for failing to meet the central bank's
requirements. So far it is one down, eight to go.
The South African luxury
house of Zimbabwe's controversial Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, has
been auctioned for R1.5-million - a low price for the Johannesburg suburb of
Saxonwold. Last year Moyo told lawyers, acting on behalf of the Talunoza
family trust, in whose name the property was registered, to "get rid of the
house" after he fell into arrears on bond repayments to Nedbank. This week,
the property's new owner, Dr Adam Habib, executive director of the Democracy
and Governance Research Programme at the Human Sciences Research Council,
confirmed the sale. Moyo had not lived in the house for four years, and kept
a caretaker on the property. However, the property looked run-down by the
time of the auction in November last year and was sold at a price considered
a bargain for one of Johannesburg's upmarket northern suburbs. Moyo bought
the house while working as a visiting professor at Wits University in 1998.
At the time, he paid R875 000 for the 1 976m˛ house in the suburb of
Saxonwold, where monthly rents are estimated to be between R20 000 and R30
000. However, Moyo left a legacy of unpaid bills. Habib could not take
proper ownership of the house because Moyo owed the Johannesburg City
Council about R60 000 in municipal rates. He also owed more than R48 000 for
electricity and water. "My lawyers had to send notice to lawyers acting for
Moyo, saying that if he did not pay the outstanding amount within a
stipulated time, we would pull out of the deal," said Habib. The bills were
finally settled in May, at which point Habib could move in with his family.
"When we got here, we found that many of the electrical and water facilities
were not working. The sewage was overflowing. The garden had not been
watered and was overgrown with weeds. And the pool was black," he said.
Habib has spent about R300 000 repairing the eight-room house, which has a
double garage, a large modern kitchen, Oregon pine floors, two lounges and
four bathrooms. "The place was filthy. We had to get people in here to strip
everything and scrub and clean it. "We drained the pool, scrubbed it out and
then refilled it. We've taken out carpets and sanded the original wooden
floors. We also stripped the doors and restored their original wood," he
When South African mainstream
media were covering the banning and demise of Zimbabwe's biggest independent
daily paper, the Daily News, what wasn't widely reported was that the title
continued publishing from outside Zimbabwe's borders via another medium: the
internet. The Daily News had cleverly registered a website address, http://www.daily-news.co.za/, in
neighbouring South Africa and kept churning out the news in the absence of
its print product. So while Zimbabwean police moved into the Daily News
offices to shut down printing presses and confiscate computers, there was
not a single thing they could do about a website registered and located in a
foreign country with free press laws. Perhaps the South African media should
have made more fuss about the Daily News website. For example, it may have
ever so slightly dented the Zimbabwean government's victory if SABC or e.tv
news reports on the Daily News demise were accompanied by a reference to the
rise and continued presence of the website, together with the web address
for viewers to visit and support. Following the Daily News example, another
Zimbabwean website has now burst onto the scene. Zimonline, at http://www.zimonline.co.za/, is another
website for Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe and it too is registered and published
from South Africa - beyond the clutches of the Zimbabwean government. Unlike
the Daily News it is an exclusively online publication without a newspaper
to back it. The website has a small army of dedicated journalists based in
Harare and Johannesburg to keep the news ticking over on a daily basis. The
".co.za" domain address means that Zimbabwe's energetic editor-in-chief,
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, can do absolutely nothing about these
sites. He can vent, scream, shout and spout his usual vitriol, but he cannot
close Zimonline or the Daily News website. The sites fall under South
Africa's free press laws, and that's where it ends.
spokesperson and human rights lawyer Daniel Molokela says most of his site's
readership is from Zimbabwe, even though the site is based in South Africa.
He says the site has been "overwhelmed", attracting a big readership that is
showing a "thirst" for independent news. And the website appears to be quite
successful at breaking the news too. Molokela says that some big South
African titles such as Thisday, The Star, Sunday Independent and Pretoria
News have carried stories that Zimonline first broke. The Zimonline and
Daily News examples show the power of websites in championing freedom of
speech in oppressive environments, and the special role they can play in the
face of government censorship. Oppressive governments haven't known quite
what to do with the internet up until now because it's not as simple to
control as other media. In many ways websites are the ultimate tools of
democracy and freedom of expression. Almost anyone can publish easily and
quickly, and at a fraction of the cost of television, radio or print.
Websites are a way of combating not only political censorship, but
censorship caused by financial constraints. But the reason we have yet to
see a major clampdown on the internet by authoritarian regimes on this
continent is probably because it is still largely a tool of the elite:
restricted to universities, corporations and the wealthy. It has yet to pose
a threat worth worrying about in Africa, unlike China where internet use is
more widespread and authorities have tried to restrict the free flow of
information in cyberspace. The Zimbabwean government's recent moves to force
internet service providers in the country to monitor customers' e-mails and
report "objectionable, obscene, unauthorised" material shows a greater
awareness of the danger the internet poses. Regretfully, this unwanted
attention may be a sign of things to come from certain autocratic African
English cricket's glorious summer is in danger of ending in a
bitter dispute involving players, selectors and management over the
controversial tour of Zimbabwe. Steve Harmison's withdrawal from the tour
last weekend led to a stand-up row between the fats bowler and captain
Michael Vaughan, and tomorrow all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is expected to
follow suit and declare himself unavailable for the one-day series in
November. While England's impressive run was halted at the Oval yesterday -
the West Indies winning the ICC Champions Trophy Final by two wickets - the
refusal of England and Wales Cricket Board chairman to allow coach Duncan
Fletcher to rest key players from the squad threatens a further breakdown in
relations. Vaughan and Fletcher believe the crisis could be avoided if the
ECB accept the need for senior players to stand down after their exertions
of the past two years and before a programme that includes a five-Test tour
of South Africa and next summer's Ashes campaign. Fletcher has made a final
plea to Morgan to relent, but if the board refuse to budge, even more player
withdrawals are expected from the 14-man squad, which is due to be announced
The team spirit on which England have built their recent
success has already been unsettled by Vaughan and Harmison's confrontation
last Saturday. Celebrations after their victory over Sri Lanka went flat
when Harmison informed his skipper that news of his withdrawal was about to
break. Prior to Harmison's decision, Vaughan had passed on to his players
the ECB line that they had no choice but to tour for fear of ICC sanctions.
In that context, Vaughan urged his colleagues to make themselves available
for reasons of collective unity. But the Durham bowler's decision blew a
huge hole in any notion of team solidarity and Vaughan, upset that the
side's focus on beating Australia in last Tuesday's semi-final might have
been distracted, openly berated him. 'Harmy kicked a hole in the dam and
raised the possibility of division within the camp,' said one team insider.
Apart from moral concerns over a tour most players are privately opposed to,
Fletcher and his management team would prefer to allow the players some
well-earned time off, particularly given the poor standard of the current
Zimbabwe side. But with Morgan anxious not to irritate his ICC counterparts
by being seen to sanction and understrength squad, the selectors have been
told to pick their best players.
Zim polls won't be postponed 26/09/2004 14:22 -
Harare - The government of Robert Mugabe will not delay
parliamentary elections to meet an opposition call to reform unfair
electoral laws, state media reported on Sunday.
are scheduled for March, but the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
has said it will boycott the polls unless sweeping electoral reforms are
The opposition also demanded an end to political violence and the
repeal of repressive media and security laws.
The state Sunday Mail
newspaper on Sunday quoted Information Minister Jonathan Moyo saying it
would be "treachery" to delay the elections, which are traditionally held in
March, because doing so risked overshadowing celebrations in April of the
country's independence from Britain 25 years ago.
"It will be
treachery for us as a nation to celebrate our 25 years of independence in
the shadow of elections," Moyo said. "The silver jubilee calls for special
Zimbabwe marks its 25th anniversary of independence from
Britain on April 18.
Moyo said President Robert Mugabe called the
March polls "the anti-Blair elections", a reference to Mugabe's repeated
accusations that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the former colonial
power are backing the opposition.
Though the government has announced
some changes in polling practices, the opposition has described them as
cosmetic and falling far short of regional election standards of the
14-nation Southern African Development Community.
Those standards call for an independent election commission to
supervise polling and election preparations.
State officials and
commissioners appointed by Mugabe and ruling-party lawmakers who dominate
the Harare parliament are still set to run the March poll.
security and media laws have been used to crack down on government
opponents, ban political campaign meetings and deny the opposition equal
access to the state media.
The country's only independent daily
newspaper was banned last year. The government controls the five main
newspapers and the only television and radio broadcast stations.
opposition party on Thursday said under the nation's constitution parliament
elections can be delayed to the end of June and the government needed more
time to introduce acceptable reforms enabling the opposition to
Western nations have cut development aid to protest
human rights violations and disputed presidential elections in 2002 that
gave long-time ruler Mugabe, 80, another six-year term.
observers said voting in that poll and a parliamentary election in 2000 was
swayed by political intimidation, violence and vote rigging.
Andrew Strauss claims all the players set to be
selected for England's forthcoming tour to Zimbabwe still have serious moral
qualms about visiting the country.
Middlesex batsman Strauss has yet
to make up his mind, even though England set a deadline of last night for
players to inform their employers if they were unwilling to travel to a
country beset by Robert Mugabe's disgraced regime.
The touring party
for five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe is scheduled to be announced on
Tuesday, and it is already known it will not feature fast bowler Stephen
Harmison who last week made himself unavailable.
With Andrew Flintoff -
recently nominated as the world's top one-day cricketer - thought likely to
follow his friend Harmison's lead, Strauss' remarks betray more widespread
"All the players have deep-rooted moral problems with going
on the tour. It's not an easy situation for us to be in," he told BBC Sport
"The England and Wales Cricket Board is going to be sending out a
cricket team to Zimbabwe - it's just a question of which personnel
"I can only speak for myself and I haven't made up my mind yet."
LONDON (AFP) - England chairman of selectors David Graveney insisted that
injuries will not be used as a smokescreen to leave players out of the
controversial tour of Zimbabwe in November.
The England and
Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have assured players they will not face reprisals
if they opt out of the five-match one-day tour like fast bowler Steve
Harmison on moral grounds.
But Graveney said that they remain
committed to sending a full-strength squad, and will not be using injuries
as an excuse to leave certain players out of the tour.
side has not been selected. We will finalise our squad today," Graveney told
BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.
"Steve Harmison is the
only player who has indicated he is not going to Zimbabwe. We will then
announce the squad on Tuesday.
"In my period of being a selector we
have always selected the strongest side. The only question with any team is
subject to fitness.
"A lot of players have been carrying a number
of injuries during the summer and it will be up to the medical staff to
inform the selectors if a period of rest would be beneficial for the
demanding programme they have ahead of them.
"We're not trying
to conceal anything. These guys, particularly the core players who play both
Tests and one-day internationals, have been playing constant international
cricket for a very long time.
"We're going to take the strongest
team. That's the way we play international cricket but we'll take the
fitness angle into account. The selectors were castigated for taking injured
players to Australia and we're very conscious of that."
selected for Zimbabwe will be consulted and given a chance to express
concerns before the squad is made public.
England are also due to
name a squad for their tour of South Africa.
Harmison is expected
to be included in that group but Graveney also said more players may be
taken to South Africa anyway because of the more demanding nature of the
----- Original Message ----- From: Trudy Stevenson
* NB - in view
of announced increase in local postage on 1 October to $4 600, if you fill
this by 30 Sept you can save money on postage! (My note -
TS) ............................................................... -----
Original Message ----- From: H C Sent: Friday, September 17, 2004 7:49
AM Subject: telephone petition
PLEASE PRINT THIS PETITION, COLLECT
SIGNATURES AND THEN POST IT TO BOX 67, MARONDERA. ALL PETITION FORMS WILL BE
DELIVERED TO TEL-ONE.
We, the undersigned wish to voice our concern at
the unjustified and astronomical telephone charge increases introduced by
Tel-One. The unit charges have been increased overnight from $120 to $585,
a five-fold increase. This is justified neither by the current rate of
inflation nor an improvement in the quality of service provided. It would
appear that these increases are the result of either pure greed or
incompetence. It is likely that several businesses will not be able to
sustain such unrealistic increases and will have to close down. At a time
when the Governor of the Reserve Bank is trying, quite successfully, to
control inflation in Zimbabwe, the latest measure is tantamount to economic
sabotage. These telephone charge increases will doubtlessly have a 'domino'
effect on all businesses, like fuel price increases do, and you can expect
other charges/fees/rates and subscriptions to increase in order to off-set
Little England evictions insensitive Kuda
The eviction by government of A1 farmers resettled on Little
England and Inkomo farms two weeks ago betrays insensitivity in dealing with
discrepancies pertaining to the land reform programme, observers
The evictions have been described as a case of misplaced priorities
as government has decided to flex its muscle on the helpless A1 farmers,
while at the same time failing to effectively deal with more serious
offenders such as multiple farm-owners.
Several hundreds of families
were displaced after government ordered the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
to forcibly evict the families on the two farms on the pretext that new
farmers were illegally occupying the farms.
The families were left
stranded, as government had not looked for alternative places to resettle
the evictees before proceeding to torch the settlers' homes.
running water and other sanitary facilities, a major health disaster is
looming as the families are currently camped by the roadside where they can
be seen cooking, while the children dice with death as they play in the
Cattle, goats and chicken can also be seen
roaming along the road, while the evicted settlers seem to have no clue as
to where to go.
Minister of Special Affairs for Lands and Land
Resettlement, John Nkomo refused to comment on the matter, referring all
questions to the Mashonaland West provincial and district
"Talk to them, its their baby," said Nkomo, who recently
showed his frustration with the defiance shown by senior government and
party officials named as multiple farm owners. In what could bring some
relief to the evictees, the High Court late last week granted an order
suspending the evictions.
The case of Little England had been pending
for years after senior party officials had been unsuccessfully trying to
take over the farm.
In evicting the settlers', government reneged on an
original agreement with the settlers who had occupied the farms in 2000 as
A1 farmers, at the insistence of government, pending the issuance of offer
letters to them.
The government defended the farm invasions by the A1
settlers during that period, saying they were legitimate demonstrations to
show land hunger. In addition government had assured settlers on Little
England and Inkomo farms that it would not evict them, but would send land
experts to properly plan settlements on the farms.
the country, other A1 farmers, who were not in possession of offer letters
for the properties they had been urged by authorities to occupy, were also
In another case 100 A1 farmers who were resettled on Groenvlie
farm in Mhangura in July 2001 were ordered off the land by government, but
the farmers have taken the matter to the High Court to challenge the
The farmers were approached on September 14
by a District Administrator, a lands official and a policeman who advised
the A1 farmers to vacate the farms, of which failure to do so would warrant
Coming at a time when government is reportedly moving
towards the completion of the Land Reform programme and the fine-tuning of
the exercise, the decision to evict farmers when landless people are looking
towards resettlement poses a lot of questions.
Government at one time
claimed to have resettled over 300 000 families in the land resettlement
exercise, but latest records show that just more than 124 000 families have
been resettled so far.
A total of 111 084 families have been resettled
under the A1 or villagisation scheme, while only 12 943 out of a projected
56 000 were resettled under the A2 or commercial scheme.
government defended the evictions as necessary, so as to pave way for blacks
who had resources to carry out commercial farming operations, this has been
dismissed by some people within Zanu PF as a mere guise to allocate the
farms to party bigwigs.
It is alleged that the settlers on Little England
and Inkomo farms were being evicted to make way for senior party
politicians, whose interest in the farms goes a long way back, despite such
politicians already being in possession of other farms.
"This is an
extension of the multiple farm ownership saga, which surprisingly let
implicated individuals off the hook. There are a lot of multiple farm owners
in that area, and it is no secret that some of those individuals are after
Little England farm," said the source.
The relevant authority, the
Ministry of Special Affairs for Lands and Land Resettlement, has
unsuccessfully grappled with multiple farm owners, and in the process, has
appeared overwhelmed by irregularities pertaining to farm
The accused multiple farm owners, some of whom are alleged
to own six farms each, escaped further scrutiny by Nkomo by transferring
ownership of the farms to names of family members and relatives.
senior party officials have defied calls by the President to cede excess
Recently, the government attempted to forcibly remove residents of
Porta Farm near the small town of Norton, offering them the option of
Caledonia farm, whose stands were unserviced. Similar anomaly-ridden
evictions took place at Kondozi, a Manicaland horticultural company that
exported vegetables to Europe and earned the country at least US$ 15 million
a year in revenue.
The government was accused of, among other things,
failing to be sensitive to the welfare of the farm workers at Kondozi, most
of whom did not have alternative places to go.