"The Zimbabwe Situation" news page

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To be a president.

So it goes something like this:
Run but don't hide

Walk but don't run.

Speak but not loudly.

Listen but without hearing.

Lie but with a straight face

And you could be a president

Of Zimbabwe perhaps?

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Harare West/Nyabira - There has been a new occupation on Umzaruru Farm by people from Mahusekwa.  They are in the process of pulling down the owner's boundary fence.
Marondera - Huts on Monora were taken down on Monday morning by farmers and their labour who were willing to help. Police arrived wanting to speak to the owner and farmer, and an arrangement was made for Tuesday morning at Marondera Police Station. On Tuesday DISPOL was not available to see the farmer so he filed a report of: theft of 13 Kattle Kandy, two animals being slashed, fences broken down and the farmer's wife being intimidated by war vets while feeding the cattle. On Wednesday morning, Isaac Majuru and three followers (armed with axes and sticks and aggressive) appeared wanting to talk to the farmer and owner. Within three quarters of an hour there were about 50 war vets and followers including some 13 year old boys, all armed with axes or sticks. The farmer foreman, manager and tractor driver were pushed about. The tractor driver was assaulted and nearly axed but one of the labourers prevented it. Finally, two hours later the farmer managed to defuse the situation. Mr. Marimo from Chipesa was also present attempting to stop the violence. The Police did not attend.  Yesterday 45 people arrived at Munemo, demanding the owner rebuild the huts he took down. They then demanded to be taken to Eirene base camp by tractor.  Yesterday about 20 occupiers arrived on Chipesa and stopped work around the farmyard. They then told everyone that they had to leave within a day and a half.
Marondera North - Nothing to report.
Beatrice - Two huts are being erected on Silver Oakes. On Evergreen huts are now being thatched. On Boks war vet Christine Tonga (second in command to war vet Mavengera) is now asking for water. The war vets have taken over a room in the dairy that was being converted into a house for a driver. They are hassling the cook and are starting to bring livestock onto the farm.  War vets arrived on Nengwa and spoke to the gardener as the owner is away. They looked around the farm and shed areas, and then came back and asked for diesel. The gardener said that there was none so the said they would return tomorrow (today) to collect some diesel. The incident was reported to the Police.
Harare South - On Dunnotar hut building continues. Police are working to resolve this. Some huts are in lands to be used for cropping.
Wedza - There is a work stoppage on Rapako this morning. The Police intelligence attended the scene with no effect. The occupiers then threatened to pull the tobacco out when the farmer plants it. There was no electricity yesterday to irrigate so the farmer cannot plant today. There is more hut building on Fair Adventure. A new invasion of about 25 arrived from Chipesa and started cutting trees and hut building again.On Lifton the brickmakers have put their bricks into the kiln to cure them using wood from the farm. There are about 8 000 bricks. There was a large war vet meeting on Shaka.
Enterprise/ Bromley/Ruwa - Unable to contact.
Macheke/Virginia - On Timber Mills 1200 acres of prime timber, valued at $20 million, has now been burnt. On Castledene Pines a group of people arrived in two government vehicles and started pegging the whole farm, including ridged tobacco lands. The owner has had his Section 8 lifted and the invaders claim that the Governor sent them there to peg the farm. There were no senior Police available at the time of report.
No report.
Suri Suri - On San Fernando on Wednesday ZESA came out to turn off the electricity as they were on "the list" but left when they were told they were not on any list. Yesterday the owner shot some dogs which were around the security fence. Last night the owner got the message to phone the chief war vet for the area - Makoni, to discuss something, but could not get through. San Fernando was listed today.
Chegutu - On Ranwick a new occupation took place with about 20 people, who erected a skeleton structure and left.
Norton - A fire was started by war veterans on Sherwood.
Kadoma - There was an influx on to Milverton yesterday. 21 head of cattle were discovered missing today, and 32 of the original missing 200 have been recovered within the last few days. The manager found 8 head of cattle 20 kilometres from the farm on the main road.
Masvingo East - The small bit of grazing land left on Fomax has now also been burnt out. The Governor arrived on Bon Domi on Monday with Agritex, and began issuing plots. The theft of fencing on Bon Domi has been reported.
Chiredzi - Bangala, Samba, Ruwari, Buffalo Range are continuously having fires started on them.
Mwenezi - The situation remains the same.  Five farms have now received Court Orders. A meeting was held yesterday at the Provincial Administrator's office.
War vets are threatening to either breach or break the Oric Canal.
Nyamandhlovu:  On Cawston Ranch large numbers (over 100) of occupiers have continued to pour on and settle themselves.  Some are building huts and clearing fields, some have shelters.  They are cutting down big mopane trees and have caused fires which have burnt out some 15 000 acres.  They are causing such disturbance around the waterholes that they prevent the game from drinking.  They are damaging the automatic electric switch floats at the waterholes in their efforts to get clean water.  They switch the borehole pumps on and off as they feel inclined, and wash their dishes and clothes in the game waterholes.  Snaring is prevalent.  One man admitted to the Police that he had laid 11 snares found by our game scouts - the Police said they had to return to base to ask their commanding officer what to do - so far they have done nothing.  There seem to be 2 war vets in charge, one called Casper and one Sibanda, who seem to be selling plots on the ranch.  These are mostly weekend settlers who arrive in cars and small trucks, brandishing cell phones.  The tourism hunting, especially the bow hunting, is being seriously interfered with by all this.  
On Redwood Farm next door there are three giraffe which some time ago moved there from Cawston Ranch.  They are watered from a small concrete trough kept filled by bowser.  Occupiers have smashed the trough because water was not brought to them.   

Somabhula - Parts of Grasslands Ranch are occupied and building is in progress. 5 head of cattle have been slaughtered in the last 10 days. It is uncertain whether occupiers or criminals are responsible. Police are investigating.

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3 September 2000

In this issue :

From News24 (SA), 3 September

Hitler Hunzvi back in favour

Harare - Hitler Hunzvi, the head of the war veterans, appears to have survived an attempt by a rival faction to overthrow his leadership of the organisation, state television said on Saturday. Andrew Mhlanga, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association, who last week led an attempted putsch against Hunzvi, the chairman, was apparently threatened by a crowd of about 1 000 when he tried to address them at a meeting called by Hunzvi. He and Hunzvi nearly came to blows during the meeting at the headquarters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU(PF) party, and Mhlanga had to be escorted from the meeting by police protecting him, the bulletin said.

Mhlanga last week headed a meeting of senior war veterans that sacked Hunzvi for "dictatorial tendencies" and for allegedly embezzling ZD1.3 million (US26 000) from a veterans' welfare fund. The split in the veterans threatened to weaken an organisation that observers say has become a powerful force in Zimbabwean politics. The group had carried out invasions of nearly 1 500 white owned farms and has been accused of intimidating opposition supporters in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in June. Hunzvi is on trial for defrauding a state fund to compensate victims of the country's civil war for independence. Mhlanga said after Saturday's meeting that Hunzvi had no right to call the meeting, and that his ouster was still in force. He claimed that only about 200 of the crowd were genuine war veterans and that the rest were supporters bused in from Hunzvi's constituency in the south of the country. The Polish-trained medical doctor has already survived an attempt to oust him last year.

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 3 September

BA may end flights to Zimbabwe after diversions for fuel

BRITISH Airways is considering halting flights to Zimbabwe after the fuel crisis in the troubled former colony forced three of its planes to divert to Kenya, leading to 14-hour delays. The pilots on three BA flights from Harare to London last week had to fly to Nairobi because there was not enough fuel at Harare airport to enable them to complete the journey. The unscheduled stop meant that the pilots could not continue the flights to London immediately after refuelling because of statutory restrictions on the number of hours they are allowed to fly without a break. Senior BA officials are privately furious over the delays and are considering whether to stop the flights until the crisis in Zimbabwe is over. BA wanted to stop flying to Harare during the chaotic period around Zimbabwe's recent elections. The airline decided to continue only after the Foreign Office urged it not to stop the flights because they were a vital escape route for Zimbabweans with a British connection who felt they could no longer live in the former colony.

The BA flights are currently carrying few passengers. One BA executive said: "The only passengers we've got are United Nations staff and Zimbabweans with British links. Nobody's going there for a holiday." The Zimbabwean national airline, Air Zimbabwe, also flies between Harare and London but is understood to owe tens of thousands of pounds in unpaid bills for fuel and navigation at Gatwick. The BA official said: "The passengers on board the diverted flights were very understanding but we can't have 14-hour delays as a matter of routine. We have to consider stopping the flights until the situation in Harare improves." He said that another option under consideration was to send out extra pilots to enable the flight to continue immediately after refuelling in Nairobi, and avoiding the need for an overnight stay in the Kenyan capital. The official added that BA might soon be forced to cancel flights to Harare because the airport says its supply of aviation fuel will run out in just seven days. Harare aiport's main fuel supplier suspended deliveries last week when Zimbabwe failed to pay the bill because of a serious shortage of hard currency.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 3 September

Murehwa villagers will neither forgive nor forget

MUREHWA - People in Murehwa still do not understand why the terror happened Some say they will not easily forget it, nor will they forgive the government-sponsored war veterans for unleashing atrocities on innocent men and women for supporting the country's main opposition party, the MDC, during the recent parliamentary elections. Last week, The Standard visited Murehwa, which lies about 90km outside Harare and where war veterans had terrorised villagers, and turned occupied farms into concentration camps. Even the presence of the police was unable to deter the so-called war veterans from terrorising hapless villagers, some members of the community told this paper.

"We were told that if we voted for the MDC, there would be another war," said one villager in her late 60s. "Only if a commission of inquiry is set up to investigate the causes of the political disturbances and compensation to the bereaved families and victims will we begin to forgive the government," said one villager who said his son had been severely beaten and had his left arm fractured, when war veterans and Zanu PF supporters descended on Paradise Farm, owned by Ted Hodgson, and ordered people to swap their identity discs for Zanu PF cards. Hundreds of villagers are said to have been prevented from voting when their ID cards were snatched from them. The matter was reported to William Warden, one of the Commonwealth observers in the area, and to the Macheke police, but no arrests were made.

The ruling party's propaganda was said to have been so effective that when the local people witnessed their sons being taken for interrogation and torture, they became convinced that war would surely follow if the MDC won the elections. They might previously have had reservations about voting for Zanu PF, but circumstances compelled them, they said, to vote for Zanu PF. Speaking with The Standard last week about the MDC campaign in Murehwa before the elections, the president of the party, Morgan Tsvangirai, said Murehwa south and north had been totally besieged. "There were thousands of people sitting, standing and huddling in the corridors of that community who were too terrified to come forward. Murehwa is an area where some of the worst torture occurred," Tsvangirai said.

One villager told The Standard that most of the people in the area were a traditional lot - sober, patient, but secretive when it came to politics. "Politics is a subject that does not exist in their daily conversation. The brutality that accompanied the terror campaign was so vicious that they can not forget it so easily," the villager said. Though the people do not mind discussing the liberation struggle, the events they experienced in the last five months are still fresh in their minds and they are still too traumatised to say much about them. "What happened here is terrible, my son. We no longer trust each other any more. We rarely discuss politics because even your own child can turn against you," said another villager.

Most villagers said police simply folded their arms as the terror unfolded around them in the usually closed and quiet community which has enjoyed stability after independence. "You could not speak anything related to the MDC. It was all Zanu PF," said one youth. Some villagers alleged that there were other victims of pre-election violence who, because they had been threatened with death, were quietly nursing their injuries at home. In apparent confirmation of what had been said about the laxity of local police in the area, The Standard witnessed two local uniformed policemen drinking opaque beer at a business centre.

The Murehwa South constituency was won by Joel Biggie Matiza, while Murehwa North was won by Oswald Chitongo, both from Zanu PF. When The Standard left Murehwa, the atmosphere, though quiet, was still pregnant with fear. Zimbabwe experienced one of its worst periods of pre-election violence in the run up to the fifth parliamentary elections in June. At least 33 people, most members of the opposition, were killed in politically-motivated violence. Others believe the figure could be much higher as there is a strong possibility that some of the cases were not picked up by the press.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 3 September

MDC refuses to condemn Zim Democracy Bill

ZANU PF's bid to enlist the support of the MDC in parliament on Tuesday, to fight the dreaded Zimbabwe Democracy Bill about to be passed in the United States Senate, will surely fail as the MDC is expected refuse to co-operate on this issue. The ruling party's legal chief, Dr Eddison Zvobgo, is expected to table a motion in parliament on Tuesday calling on parliamentarians to condemn the bill, which, if passed, could well be the final nail in the coffin of Zimbabwe's ailing economy. The bill, with its inherent effects, could also signal the end of the ruling party's 20 year grip on power.

MDC secretary-general, Professor Welshman Ncube, told The Standard on Friday that his party would not throw its weight behind Zanu PF in fighting the bill. The bill, which has already found its way past the US house of representatives, seeks to impose penalties on Zimbabwe for violating the rule of law. Ncube said contrary to Zanu PF's assertion that the bill was harmful to Zimbabwe, it actually provided the country with an incentive for good governance. "In respect of the motion in parliament, we will oppose that motion. To support the motion is like saying we endorse Zanu PF's terror tactics. Most of the things contained in that bill are things we have been talking about all along. Zvobgo's motion dismisses the contents of that bill, and we disagree with him because most of contents of the bill are true," said Ncube.

In his motion, Zvobgo says the allegations on the breakdown of law are intended to undermine Zimbabwe's general well-being and that the bill, in general, undermines Zimbabwe's sovereignty. "The allegations on the breakdown are intended to undermine Zimbabwe's general well-being and its foreign policy precepts and are a subversive encouragement to organisations and other enemies of Zimbabwe by pledging to fund their nefarious activities. The bill is intended to destroy our sovereignty as a state and is a blatant incitement to persons, institutions, and organisations that seek to achieve the overthrow of our lawfully and constitutionally elected government," reads Zvobgo's motion.

If passed, the bill will also seek to impose trade prohibitions on other organisations trading with Zimba-bwe, with which the US government has dealings. Zvobgo's motion is likely to come under heavy fire from the MDC MPs with party spokesman, Learnmore Jongwe, expected to lead the onslaught. "It would be ridiculous for us to condemn the bill. The bill is an incentive for good governance. All that government should do is ensure that it respects the rule of law and this bill will be averted. The bill is not meant to punish Zimbabweans," said Ncube. Asked whether the measures would not severely hurt the ordinary man in the street, Ncube replied that the ordinary person was already suffering on account of Zanu PF policies. "Zanu PF is already killing people through violence and economic mismanagement."

Analysts say the government needs to do more than merely condemn the bill if it is to avert sanctions. Once passed, they say, the bill would be very difficult to remove. A number of people hailed the government for destroying the illegal structures illegally erected in Harare's Kambuzuma suburb, saying it was a positive step towards restoring the rule of law. However, President Mugabe reversed this action following protests from war veterans. "Honourable members of this august house and all patriotic Zimbabweans should stand united in the defence of our hard won national sovereignty and independence and unequivocally condemn this vicious assault upon our common nationhood and sovereignty," Zvobgo's motion states.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 3 September

CFU congress on Wednesday

THE much awaited CFU congress will be held this Wednesday and Thursday. The congress was supposed to have been held last month, but was postponed due to the lawlessness that prevailed on the farms as a result of farm invasions by war veterans. It is this issue of farm invasions and the future of the agricultural industry that is expected to dominate proceedings at the congress as farmers express their concern at the state-sponsored invasions and the destruction of the once viable industry. The industry directly employs over 400 000 people in the country.

CFU deputy president, William Hughes last week, said he expected farmers present at the congress to raise the issue of farm invasions and the withdrawal of litigation against government by CFU, a move that did not sink well with a number of farmers who felt betrayed by their association. Advocate Eric Morris will be the guest of honour at the opening of the congress. The CFU executive, including its president, Tim Henwood, who has served only one year instead of two, will also step down for a newly elected executive.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 3 September

Chihuri in borehole scam

PUBLIC funds amounting to over $100 000 were illegally used to pay a Harare company after it drilled a borehole at a house owned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police chief, Augustine Chihuri, The Standard has established. Through his public relations officer, Chihuri on Friday admitted to this - but says it was a "mistake". Documents in our possession confirm that taxpayers' money was unlawfully used to pay for the work that was carried out at the property in question in contravention of the laws of the country which prohibit the use of state funds for private purposes.

The borehole in question was drilled by Ashtech in October 1998. The ZRP Construction Unit One, which is based at Morris Depot in Harare, entered into an agreement with Ashtech. The contract number was 3476/10/98, while the job number was 3476. In a letter dated 16 October 1998, Ashtech made a quotation to the attention of a Chief Inspector Masvaure of the ZRP Construction Unit One for the initial work that had been carried out at the property situated some 35 km from the company's offices. Establishment fee for the work amounted to $1 500; drilling 6"(50 units) $20 000; casing 6" perforated (4 units) $1 000; casing 6" plain (14 units) $3 500; casing installation (18 units) $3 060; mileage (70km) $1 260; five hours of capacity testing $3 000; and mileage-test rig $875.

The total amount claimed under Ashtech invoice number D1659 was $34 195,00. The government requisition number used in the deal was 448858H. Details entered into the ZRP financial register, under general maintenance heading, indicate that Ashtech was paid $93 295,00 for drilling a borehole. The amount paid to Ashtech was authorised on 21 January 1999, and the cheque was made out the following month under voucher number 317/07. Another requisition number 448855H was used to pay Ashtech $3 325,00 for drilling a borehole. Payment for the service was authorised in November 1998, while the cheque was issued in February 1999, under voucher number 317/06, according to information in the ZRP financial register. "The money used here was for general maintenance on existing structures. The ZRP needs to be investigated, and a parliamentary inquiry will unearth so many things being swept under the carpet in the ZRP," said one senior home affairs official who requested to remain unnamed.

Asked why state funds were used to pay for work done privately for the police chief, ZRP press and public relations officer, Chief Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena, accused The Standard of spearheading a campaign to discredit Chihuri following the extension of his term of office. "We respect your right to inform members of the public on issues of public interest. It would, however, appear that there is a campaign by your paper to discredit the commissioner of police following his extension of term of office. This can be traced to the several articles you have published in the past one and half years which have also climaxed during the past three weeks. Whether it is because of the perceived inaction by the police against farm settlements which your paper appears to be against, or the arrests of Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto."

"Whatever the case might be, I reliably understand that the arrest issue is being considered by the courts, and on the farm settlements, the government has been explicit in the conduct of the ZRP and needs no further elaboration. By extension, this perceived farm settlement inaction and cited issues should not be used to vilify the commissioner or ZRP, or conduct witch-hunts in retribution which appears to be the position in this case," said Bvudzijena. He said the use of the requisition was an error of commission by the construction unit staff. "Cash was provided to the officer in charge (construction unit) for the sinking of the borehole but a requisition was erroneously raised as a number of similar works were being carried out simultaneously on government property. When this oversight by the officer in charge was realised, it was corrected by a direct payment back to government revenue through our finance offices to recompensate government for the work done. The error by the officer in charge, however, should not be an excuse to abuse or infer anything contrary to the intentions and spirit of the arrangements between the commissioner of police and the officer in charge," said Bvudzijena.

He did not say when the money was paid back to government, nor did he provide proof of payment. Contacted for comment, Aaron Chisepo, the officer in charge of the drilling department at Ashtech, said he did three jobs for the ZRP in 1998. He said his company drilled three boreholes in Mt Hampden for the ZRP. Pressed whether he did work for Chihuri for which a government requisition was used to pay for the service, Chisepo asked that we put our questions in writing. The Standard complied with this request. When contacted on Thursday, Chisepo said he had been instructed by the ZRP not to entertain this paper over the issue. But when warned by The Standard that protecting information about a possible abuse of state funds was tantamount to committing a criminal offence, Chisepo admitted that Ashtech had indeed drilled three boreholes for Chihuri. "On the first borehole, he (Chihuri) sent somebody, we did not deal with him directly. The second borehole, the one in question, is the one which a government requisition was used. In fact we queried here why a requisition had been made. But, later, we felt everything was in order since the work done was requested by the construction unit. The third borehole, which we drilled for him a few months ago, Chihuri paid cash for the service," said Chisepo.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 3 September

Top cop hits colleague

THERE was drama at the ZRP college at Morris depot last week when a senior assistant commissioner allegedly assaulted a colleague who is also a senior member of the force, The Standard has leant. Eyewitnesses confirmed on Friday that Senior Assistant Commissioner Shepherd Gwasila assaulted his colleague Simbi, who is an assistant commissioner in front of junior officers. It is alleged that Gwasila punched and booted the other officer who, according to the eyewitnesses, did not retaliate. Police details said the two officers were engaged in a verbal altercation after Gwasila had challenged his colleague thath he should take orders from his seniors without question.

Information reaching this desk suggests that the assaulted officer was to be transferred to Mutare at short notice. It is said the assaulted officer asked why he should be transferred to Mutare, something that irked Gwasila. The assaulted officer refused to be transferred, according to sources. Police officers who witnessed the incident said Gwasila openly told the other officer that he was under instructions from the "top brass" in the police force to deal with him. It is also alleged that Gwasila accused his colleague of being responsible for leaking information to the independent press. Gwasila and the assaulted officer could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

The police officer in charge of Harare province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Emmanuel Chimwanda, confirmed on Friday that he had received a report of that nature. "All I can say is that I received a report regarding the incident. I am personally handling the investigation," said Chimwanda. Gwasila is on record as having spoken strongly on the need for the police force to observe human rights when dealing with people. The latest scuffle in the police force comes in the wake of claims by several police officers who said they were being forced to transfer to remote stations since they were accused of being supporters of the opposition MDC.

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This message is to Farmers, forwarded by Mat South CFU, please consider.
Also forward to any farmers you know.  Thank you.


The Presidential Powers (temporary act), which was ammended while
was disbanded, is currently being used by the president to cause the mayhem
that he has on the farms. This act, has to be ratified by parliament (by a
simple majority vote) for it to be become constitutional law.

The CFU Executive filed a legal challenge on this presidential powers act,
only to withdraw it some 3 weeks ago. Subsequently, they have been
considering re-instituting this challenge after pressure has mounted on
from farmers countrywide. However, on Monday 28 August, the 8 member
executive council voted 5 to 3 against submitting the legal challenge,
saying that they wanted to pave the way for further dialogue with the
government. Most farmers countrywide are completely oblivious to these
details and the CFU executive have made little or no effort to make these
facts, which have a huge impact on all of us as farmers, known to us. At
times it seems that they are deliberately trying to conceal key

We seem to have developed a very bad habit as Zimbabweans, where we allow a
few selected people to make decisions that impact on all of us without
taking too much interest in the details and issues. A few calls to farmers
around the country this morning shows that nobody knows what happened on
Monday. We allow these selected people to tell us what is happening,
of them carrying our desire and interests to the executive council
We are all guilty of this.

I heard of a farmers meeting in Mashonaland last week where the farmers,
having made the effort to find out the real facts, voted 43 to 1 in favour
of taking legal action against the presidential powers act. This sentiment
seems to be felt countrywide, and yet still our "elected" council decide
otherwise. They need to carry the wishes of the farmers to the decision
table, and need to be forced to feedback critical information. It is time
kick our habit and stand up and make our voices heard.

There is another CFU council meeting on Monday 4 September to make a final
decision on this legal challenge of the presidential powers act. We are
asking farmers associations countrywide to complete the attached petition
and fax it in by the stipulated deadline. If you feel like you need further
information then please make the urgent effort to find out. Also please
an effort to get to the CFU annual congress on the 5 and 6 September and
participate - kick the habit.

Whilst there is deep concern over the consequences of challenging Mugabe on
this act, the time has come to stand up together and fight for what we have
left. Government are not interested in dialogue, and anything they say
cannot be believed anyhow. If we don't stand up together now and make the
effort to keep informed then we deserve no sympathy when our farms and
country lie ruined. Negotiating with the devil is not an option.

Please forward this urgently to as many people as possible - your future
depends on it.


We of ________________________________ Farmer's Association urge the
President's Council of the Commercial Farmers' Union to submit the required
documentation to the courts to challenge the Presidential Powers (Temporary
Measures) Act and current lawlessness on commercial farms.

We understand this documentation is currently being prepared by CFU lawyers
submission on 4 September 2000. As we have been given no feasible
alternative to
the land crisis, we believe that it is imperative that the documents are
submitted as planned.

Chairman Witness


This form with as many members supporting signatures as possible must be
faxed to
Matabeleland CFU offices by Saturday 2 September afternoon latest so that
representative can take your mandate to the council meeting on 4 September.
Please fax to 0969223.
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From THE ECONOMIST, September 2nd - 8th 2000
Zimbabwe's non-farmers
W A K E F I E L D   F A R M ,   M A N I C A L A N D

Robert Mugabe's accelerated land-reform programme will be a disaster if its
driving motive is to reward party loyalists
IT WAS a rollicking party. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, arrived in
one of his helicopters. Cows were slaughtered, beer gushed, crowds danced
and ululated, and television cameras recorded the joyful event for
posterity. The occasion was the resettlement of 51 black families on
Wakefield "A", a large commercial farm, bought by the government from
willing sellers two years ago.
The aim was to build a class of successful, independent black farmers in
Zimbabwe. The government promised the new smallholders seeds, fertiliser and
all the help necessary to get them started. It then forgot about them. The
farmers, most of whom knew little or nothing of farming, got no advice,
support or equipment.
A local white commercial farmer, Andrew Dawson, stepped in. He offered to
plough his new neighbours' fields with his tractor and supply them with
fertiliser. When their crops were ready, he said, they could repay him,
interest-free, in maize. Although his offer was taken up by 12 farmers, only
one or two are likely to be able to repay the debt. Most of the 51 plots
have produced little or no crop, and the land is now largely derelict. Wild
grasses have reclaimed what were once prime tobacco fields. Many of the
resettlers have drifted away.
This is the land-reform programme that Mr Mugabe is now seeking to
accelerate. Everyone agrees that land reform is necessary in Zimbabwe.
Commercial farmers continually suggest practical ways in which it might be
carried out. Foreign donors offer to finance orderly reform. The farms that
were redistributed in the early 1980s turned many peasants into successful
smallholders. But, at that time, the beneficiaries were selected carefully
and received material support.
Now, they are chosen not for their farming skills but for their loyalty to
the ruling party, ZANU-PF. Mr Mugabe's motives are political, not economic.
Incomes have fallen by a third under his rule, and he feared that the voters
would show their displeasure by rejecting ZANU at the parliamentary election
in June. So he decided to inflame the land issue. In thunderous speeches, he
urged his people to reclaim the soil that white colonialists stole from them
a century ago, reminding them that whites, despite being less than 1% of the
population, still own about 70% of the best farmland.
He organised a series of "spontaneous" invasions of white-owned properties,
selecting farmers who were known to support the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). The 10,000-14,000 invaders-veterans of the country'
s wars and assorted bruisers-prevented the opposition from campaigning in
much of the countryside. Paid and transported by the secret services, they
moved from farm to farm, beating suspected MDC supporters, burning their
huts and occasionally killing them.
After the election, Mr Mugabe wanted to reward his foot-soldiers and punish
his enemies. On July 31st, the government announced that over 3,000 farms,
up from a previous target of 804, would be seized without compensation and
distributed among the landless. This represents more than half the country's
commercial farmland.
The government insisted that the farms selected would be largely idle,
belonging to absentee landlords, or else adjacent to crowded communal land.
The full list has not yet been released, but the 1,500 or so addresses
published so far include many thriving exporters. Once again, farmers who
actively support the MDC appear to have been singled out.
The beneficiaries of land reform are supposed to be the needy. But Obert
Mpofu, the governor of Matabeleland North, a province where the opposition
won all seven seats in June, has openly admitted that only ZANU supporters
will benefit. A few hundred handover ceremonies have taken place since the
election, some of them consisting of war veterans picking bottle-tops out of
a hat to decide who will receive which plot.
The government promises to provide the new farmers with infrastructure and
support. Maybe it will, but its record suggests it will not. Mr Mugabe's
stated aim is to resettle 500,000 families-about a sixth of the
population-before the rains start in November. In other words, he hopes to
achieve in two months more than he has in 20 years, and to do it without
donor support and despite the government's near-bankruptcy.
The scheme imperils the whole economy. Mr Dawson, for example, has heard
that the government may soon seize his farm. If it does, his 300 black
employees and their 1,500 dependants face destitution. All over the country
multitudes of farmworkers are to be displaced to make way for smaller
numbers of ZANU loyalists.
Banks hesitate to lend to farmers whose collateral could be confiscated
tomorrow. Newly-resettled farmers also lack secure title to their land, and
have even less chance of raising capital to develop it. Output is shrinking,
and with it the industries that supply, or buy from, farmers: fertiliser
wholesalers, bakeries, tractor-repair shops and so on. Probably more than
half of Zimbabwean industry depends on agriculture.
The country's nature reserves are threatened, too. Chunks of the Save Valley
conservancy have been earmarked for resettlement, although the area is
unsuitable for farming. An influx of veterans with a taste for game has
depleted wildlife stocks and scared off tourists. To make snares, the
poachers tear down the wire fences that keep wild animals away from cattle
farms. This threatens beef exports: European Union rules bar mixing cattle
with beasts that may have foot-and-mouth disease.
The government devalued the Zimbabwe dollar by 24% in August, and promises
further devaluation, hoping to boost exports and so raise sorely-needed hard
currency. But shortages of imports, such as fuel, have yet to ease.
Motorists queue for hours for petrol; housewives battle for paraffin for
their stoves. The government's foreign debts go unpaid and its domestic ones
are met by printing money. Cash machines in Harare spill out wads of notes
with consecutive serial numbers. Hyperinflation looms.
Clear thinkers within the ruling party have tried to warn Mr Mugabe of the
consequences of his actions. He refuses to listen. The main hope seems to be
that incompetence will slow the execution of his policies.
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2 September 2000

In this issue :

From The Times (UK), 2 September

Zimbabwe's poor hit by big fuel price rise

HARARE - THE Government of President Mugabe dropped a new bombshell on Zimbabweans yesterday, announcing a 50 percent jump in the price of motor fuel and a 101 percent increase for paraffin, which the urban poor use for cooking. The massive price increases risk igniting serious unrest among a restive urban population already angry over nine months of fuel shortages and worsening economic crisis. They voted overwhelmingly against his ruling Zanu (PF) party in parliamentary elections in June. A spokesman for the state-owned National Oil Company of Zimbabwe said that the price of one litre of leaded petrol rose 41 percent to Z$38.70 (53p), diesel by 54 percent to Z$36.40 (50p) and paraffin by 101 percent to Z$30.20 (41p). The reason for the increase was a 36 percent rise in the price of crude oil, exacerbated by a 24 percent devaluation of Zimbabwe's currency, he said.

The company is also trying to close the gap between the cost of imported fuel and the much lower price at which it sells to the public. President Mugabe has for years maintained a heavy subsidy on fuel to keep favour with voters. The minibuses that ferry people around the capital immediately raised their fares by 25 percent, for the second time in a month. In late July, petrol and diesel went up by 25 percent and paraffin by 125 percent. Residents were aghast yesterday. "Transport and paraffin are now more than half my salary, and I cannot pay for rent," said Masimba John, an office messenger. "I now have to find a job at night to keep alive," he said. "People are more than angry. One day there will be a revolution and people will kill Mugabe."

The massive increases were the inevitable result of the Government's failure to make tough economic decisions in the last 18 months, said Welshman Ncube, the secretary-general of the opposition MDC. "Mugabe doesn't have any choice," Mr Ncube said. "And the decisions that have to be made to address the macro-economic situation - like pulling the army out of the Congo and dealing with corruption - are not being made. So there will be more and more shortages and fuel price increases."

The Government yesterday pressed on with Mr Mugabe's orders to seize 12 million acres of white-owned farms - 60 percent of the land they own. Another 401 properties were listed under a "preliminary notice to compulsorily acquire land". After the listing, the state has to go through a complicated bureaucratic and legal process lasting at least three months before it can formally take possession. Yesterday's batch were a nightmare of errors, full of misspelling and duplications. Thirty of the farms belong to blacks, who are supposed to be the recipients of the land, and five of the farms are already state property.

One of the farms listed is owned by James Chikerema, the founder of the country's black nationalist movement and an outspoken critic of Mr Mugabe, who is his uncle. "It's Mugabe's vendetta against me," he said. "I am for orderly distribution of land." Also listed were 1,420 acres of land owned by Ian Smith, the last white leader of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence in 1980. The same land was listed in a previous notice released in April. Mr Smith had not objected to forfeiting that land. The latest list brings to 1,952 farms so far identified, and another 274 more still to be listed until Mr Mugabe's target is reached. Details of the remaining 274 were still being compiled, officials said. "It means huge administrative problems for the Government," said Malcolm Vowles, deputy director of the CFU. "But if they are successful with it, it will serve notice of the end of commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe."

The Agriculture Minister, Joseph Made, said last month many of the properties would be resettled before the start of seasonal rains in November. Officials have, however, conceded that surveying to carve up plots and install roads, water sources and social services has not been carried out. The District Development Fund, whose trucks were to be used to transport new settlers, said that most of its vehicles are out of commission. The Agricultural Rural Development Authority, intended to provide seeds and tools to resettled families, said it too was critically short of supplies.

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 2 September

Mugabe to seize 410 more farms

ROBERT MUGABE'S government gave notice yesterday that it would acquire another 410 white-owned farms in Zimbabwe. A notice in the official Government Gazette came as the main farmers' group, the CFU, reported continued violence and harassment on properties invaded by black gangs claiming to be war veterans since February. The official announcement said "Notice is hereby given in terms of the Land Acquisition Act that the president intends to acquire compulsorily the land described in the schedule for resettlement purposes." Owners and other interested parties had a month to register objections in writing with the Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Ministry.

So far, President Mugabe has served notice to acquire 1,952 of 3,041 farms earmarked for resettlement of landless blacks. The CFU, representing 4,500 mainly white farmers, said its members had lodged objections to the acquisition of 593 farms of the 804 properties listed in June. The Zimbabwe government has already started resettling black peasants on 211 farms acquired without contest, under a "fast track" programme. Mr Mugabe has passed legislation allowing him to seize farms with no compensation if Britain, as the former colonial power, does not provide him with the funds. He has announced plans to acquire 30 million acres of white-owned land.

From The Zimbabwe Independent, 1 September

District Development Fund Completes $18m Road Link to Mugabe's Farm

Harare - The District Development Fund (DDF) has completed construction of an $18-million 10-kilometre tarred road to link President Robert Mugabe's Highfields farm to the Murombedzi Robert Mugabe Highway, the Zimbabwe Independent has established. The Independent visited the area near Norton last weekend. Farm workers in the prime commercial farming area told the Independent that the presidential motorcade frequented the road which was otherwise used by just three commercial farmers. "He passes through on his way home at least once a month," one farm worker said. "There are very few people that use the tarred road," he added.

What was not clear was who footed the construction of the tarred road which could have earned DDF $18 million. DDF director-general James Jonga was not reachable when the Independent made inquiries this week. Independent highway constructors told the Independent that under the current rates, it would cost $1,7 million to build a tarred kilometre on a low-volume road, as opposed to $1,9 million on a high-volume road. Clearing the road would normally cost $8 per square metre. The president could have paid about $960 000 to DDF to clear 10km road, pushing up the amount to about $18 million. Presidential press secretary George Charamba declined to comment referring the Independent to Jonga. "Go and ask them (DDF). It is a private affair and I cannot comment on it. But you should also understand that DDF is running along commercial lines. They will be able to tell you what they did for the president if ever they did anything and how much he paid," Charamba said. Charamba said he was not responsible for speaking on the president's private matters to the press.

When the Independent visited the farm last year, DDF machinery which had been stationed on the property was being used to clear the road to pave way for the tarred road that runs through the farm that was acquired under controversial circumstances last year from a Mrs Munson. The farm is about 60km south-west of Harare near Norton and measures 385 ha. It was transferred on December 12 1996 from the previous owners. When the Independent visited the farm last June, it was heavily guarded by security details and the DDF workers working on the highway were reluctant to speak to the press. The property was transferred for $2,5 million in a deal that never went public. The Ministry of Lands and Agriculture issued a certificate of no interest after the owner sought to sell it. The deeds transfer documents were not available from the Deeds Registry when the Independent first enquired last year. When they subsequently surfaced they showed that the property was transferred into state land in terms of Section 5 of the Rural Lands Act. The file number is 3417/99.

From The Daily News, 1 September

Wits demands $10m back from Prof Moyo

THE University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg says it wishes to recover about $10,5 million paid by the university to Professor Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of Information and Publicity, for a research project he undertook, as a visiting professor, but never completed. Tom Lodge, the head of the university's department of political studies, said yesterday the university's legal department was engaged in discussions with Moyo to recover the money given to him while he was working on a research project, initially funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida). "He was paid the salary of a senior professor for working on a project which he never completed while at the same time he had become a politician in Zimbabwe. The university is naturally worried and wishes to recover its money," Lodge said.

At the time, Moyo was working full-time as a commissioner in the government's Constitutional Commission. He was appointed minister in July. Sida had already paid $5,04 million for Moyo's research project on "The Future of the African Elite". He spent 15 months as a government spokesman, initially with the Constitutional Commission and later as a media consultant for Zanu PF and in the President's Office. Despite Moyo's spirited campaign, the Zanu PF party lost its stranglehold on Parliament after the opposition MDC won 57 of the 120 contested seats. A Sida spokesman, Michael Stahl, said Sida had only disbursed 900 000 kroner ($5,04 million) to Moyo but had since decided not pay for the full cost of the research project because his proposal was not impressive.

Stahl told The Daily News from Stockholm yesterday that Moyo had asked Wits officials to advance him some money while awaiting disbursement of a further amount from the Swedish sponsors. The university complied with his request. "We had made it clear to him that we would not sponsor his project because his proposals were vague and unscientific and the budget was too high. But he went ahead and asked for an advance, misrepresenting to Wits officials that we had agreed to send him more money," Stahl said. He said Wits had paid out an undisclosed amount of money to Moyo but had discovered that Sida was not reimbursing them. "The university has contacted us and we have told them our position that we never funded the full project," said Stahl. He said the $5,04 million was to cover the cost of the research summary, for an administrative assistant and for travel since his research topic was a continent-wide programme. The agency, he said, would not seek to recover its money from Moyo because it was a grant meant to cover costs of the proposal.

Moyo has since resigned from Wits. He said the university had not made any reference to their money in their letter to him accepting the resignation. Moyo claimed he started the project in 1998 and the results were published by the Association of Political Science in Zimbabwe and by the University of California. Yesterday, Lodge insisted that the university was engaged in discussions with Moyo to try and recover their money. Lodge said what was published by the University of California were mere essays. Moyo could not be reached for comment since Monday.


From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 1 September

Govt denies Ramaphosa investigation

The acting Minister of Intelligence, Penuell Maduna, has denied the existence of an investigation into an alleged plot to replace President Thabo Mbeki with Cyril Ramaphosa, the former secretary general of the African National Congress. In a separate comment, the Inspector General of Intelligence, Fazel Randera, questioned whether it would have been appropriate for a state intelligence organ to investigate the internal workings of a legitimate political party. Randera also conceded that "unfortunately" this week's press reports had created the impression among some that the intelligence services might be in the pocket of the ruling party.

Newspaper reports over the weekend claimed that the plot, allegedly engineered by unnamed American and British business persons, had been uncovered by South African spies in one of the country's missions in Europe. The news reports added that, when informed of the plot, Minister of Intelligence Joe Nhlanhla informed Mbeki's office and ordered a "more intensive investigation". Maduna, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, is standing in for Nhlanhla, who is ill. The uncovering of the alleged plot caused excitement in political circles because of perceived rivalry between Mbeki and Ramaphosa, who left politics for business in 1996. Politicians were intrigued to hear that the alleged plot had supposedly been hatched because of dissatisfaction over Mbeki's handling of the Zimbabwe and the HIV/Aids issues.

Maduna's representative, Paul Setsetse, said this week: "The minister has checked with the South African intelligence services as well as the secret services. There is no such investigation being conducted." Setsetse said that Maduna had said there was "no need" to conduct such an investigation, implying that the information said to have stimulated the investigation was incorrect. Randera said the newspaper reports had raised several questions about the mandate governing the intelligence services, and the basis on which a decision was made that a development constituted a threat to national security or warranted an investigation. Randera also queried the factual basis of the report and its intention. "On what basis was the story written?" he asked. "It has very serious repercussions - it leads to paranoia about how the country is governed and a negative perception of the intelligence services."

Ramaphosa this week categorically denied any involvement in any political plot involving him. He said: "I am never coming back to politics." The politician turned businessman, who heads Johnnic, received the most votes of any candidate elected to the ANC national executive at its last conference in Mafikeng in 1997. Ramaphosa, who was elected twice to the position of secretary general of the ANC and successfully led the party through the Conference for a Democratic South Africa, still commands considerable support in the ANC. He was the first general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers and organiser of the conference that led to the launch of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). His union background means he also commands considerable support in Cosatu, one of the ANC's allies in the ruling tripartite alliance. His reputation as a successful negotiator recently earned him an invitation to Northern Ireland to help take forward the peace process there. Some political observers believe that Ramaphosa, who many thought should have succeeded Nelson Mandela to head the ANC, was manoeuvred out of politics to make way for Mbeki.

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Candid Comment

Christine Chiweshe
SINCE January we had been waiting for the phone call. If the phone rang at night we jumped in fright, hearts beating. If it rang too early in the morning my knees would tremble. I dreaded hearing that click sound an international call makes. I got angry if it was somebody local phoning so early. Did they not know? Why are they not sensitive to the fact that I was waiting for that phone call which I knew would come? Announcing my brother's death.

He finally died on March 21. Bad day to die. I had no money to fly out of Johannesburg just like that. It was a holiday, so getting my office's travel agent was out of the question. Had to get my friend to send the tickets from home. Cost an arm and a leg those.

This was my third sibling to die in seven years. It was Aids, the same disease that had taken the other two in 1993 and 1995. I was born in a family of five. Whenever people ask me how any one of them died I say very loudly, "Aids". I get these puzzled looks; should they touch me in sympathy? Should they run away?

Many just manage to say, "oh", and a glazed look comes on their faces. Others manage to exclaim, "really?" I am never sure whether they don't believe me or what the exclamations mean.

I am a 35-year-old woman. I am a feminist, I am black and middle class. Some would even say I come from a privileged background. Compared to the majority of women who have to deal with the impact of this virus, I consider myself and my family lucky. At least all my siblings died and were buried with dignity. We could afford to put them in hospitals.

We could pay for home-based care, and their children have a roof over their heads. We now have a total of six orphans. None of my siblings was married, so all the children are with my parents. At my brother's funeral people asked: "How many children did he have?" Only one, we would say. "Thank God. Ah, this is better. Thank your God my dears." And they would smile and reach out to touch.

Others would ask: "How long was he ill for?" Only three months really we would say. He had been working till December. It was only in January that the disease debilitated him. "Three months only? Ah, that is good. Praise God." My mother was upset. Why were we praising God at a time like this? Why were people so insensitive?

But they were not being insensitive. Everybody around us has seen worse. Mr T next door has been bed-ridden for four years. Alice from our village has been ill for three years. Mbuya (grand-mother) Moyo has 12 orphans to care for, and she has only a two-roomed house. All her children are gone.

Cousin Melody has six children and her parents died leaving four younger siblings. That is the reality of Aids where I come from. If a week passes by without a funeral it is a good week. These days I don't ask how so and so who I have not seen for three years is. She might have died. I wait to see her. If I don't, I just think she is gone. So the mourners were not being unkind, they were empathising. They were looking on the "bright side". They know what it can be like for women in our position.

As a black woman I was born to believe that you grow up, you get married and you have children. Sounded as natural as counting from one to ten. By the time I was 18 half of my high school friends were hooked up with one man or another. Heterosexuality was meant to be "in your blood". By the time I got to 25 most of them were married and had kids. By the time I got to 30, I had lost count of the ones that had died.

And now there are babies and children everywhere. Feminism or not, I made a decision after my six-year-old son that I would not have another one. Practically I already have seven children. My son is not short of play-mates. But it is not easy. Everybody asks: "Your son is old enough now. He needs his own brother or sister. When will you have one?" What is his own brother or sister I want to ask? But I just smile and walk away. Sometimes I try to argue. But we don't go far. The bottom line seems to be, you are female and heterosexual. Surely you must want more babies? But I know my reality and I am trying to manage it.

As a black woman feminist, I do not want to be a safe passage for babies.

All my working life I have been struggling to ensure that the medical establishment stops treating me like a mere passage for babies. I have struggled together with other feminists, at the last big United Nations World Conferences in Vienna, in Cairo and in Beijing, to make sure that the world does not just regard me as a mother.

We have told the world that where they have been busy talking about so- called Mother and Child health (MCH) the M has been missing. Other women have also told the world that they don't even want to be mothers! We have reminded our African leaders that not every black woman is a natural born mother, or a female just waiting to become a mother.

So in all this talk about retrovirals, where are my rights as a woman?

When are we going to see focus on me as a person first
and foremost before you think about what comes out of me... if it ever comes out? I want the Aids community, (for lack of a better phrase) to talk about me, me me.

Consider me selfish, but I think a bit of selfishness is required.
I also want some focus to be on how I as a woman get infected in the first place. For me, the man I am most afraid of is not the one out on the street whose name I don't know. The man who is most likely to infect me is the one I married, the one I live with, or the father of my child. Yes I am vulnerable to rape by some stranger. Touch wood, so far that man has not endangered my life.

So when the Aids activists talk about making these drugs available at clinics and hospitals for women who have been raped, I hope that includes women like me. Women who are raped in the name of marriage. I want that to mean women like me who because lobola was paid for us, we are expected to open our legs whenever he wants. Even when we can see the sores on his penis, or we know that he has slept with the domestic worker, or that he had an STD last month.

Culture tells us that we are supposed to do what he says because he paid.

This is the culture that I am forever reminded of by the media, by my family, by my religious leader, by other women around me that I must wear proudly on my shoulders like an epaulette. I am reminded that if I question it, go against it and dare speak about it, I am a bad woman, I am too westernised, and I am a bad influence on other women.

I would like a discussion on how heterosexuality puts me and other black women at risk. I would like my black brothers and sisters to talk about and debunk all the myths we have about heterosexuality: that it is so natural and anything else is not. I would like as a young woman to hear us moving forward in our discussions around sexuality and not move backwards.

Telling me that in 1800 women behaved thus and thus, that virginity was to be monitored and protected, and that in the so-called good old days nobody had sex before marriage will not help me in the year 2000. We cannot go back to 1800, nobody else wants to go back and even if we were to go back there are no more social and political systems that would support that going back.

Telling us in Aids awareness workshops that the best way to prevent infection is to wait for matrimony is dishonesty. I have seen how women wait for marriage, before having sex, only to get infected by that very first man they married! Marriage as generally constructed makes me as a black woman, a sitting duck for infection.

So I would like a lot more effort to be put in educating me on how I can protect myself. How do I say no? How do I educate other young women? I would like more focus to be on those around me to support me in the choices that I make, the choice to live and not get infected, the choice not to get married or have babies if I so chose.

When I call my mother to ask how the children are, she has one standard answer, "they are alive". She does not mean to be unkind. She just has no energy for anything else. I often catch her looking far into the horizon.

At 67 she is tired and stressed with six orphans. I don't want her to suffer anymore. The mere thought of her drooping shoulders, her tired face, is enough to scare me away from an unprotected penis.

What will happen to these kids if I die? Who will take care of them? The state? Charitable organisations? I know the state can throw some money at you, and well-wishers can send blankets, and the religious can offer a prayer. But they will not be there to go to my son's sports day. They will not be there to take him to the clinic should his leg break.. if of course there is a clinic and there is medicine. But that is another story.

We really should stop calling it "home-based care". In reality it is women- based care. They are the ones who have to deal with the sick and the orphaned. Half the time dad escapes to the farm. "I need some peace and quiet. These children are everywhere!" he complains.

But my mother has no escape. She has to be there. Of course it falls on the woman to take care of everyone. That is the reality.

Old women are already struggling to care for others on their welfare money. At the poverty hearings held in South Africa in 1997, elderly women told stories of how they get beaten up by grand-sons and other relatives to give over their money. They are often left with nothing. These are the women who are expected to take care of the orphans.

It is the poor (read black) women who have to bear the brunt of mopping up. And if truth be told, long after the kerfuffle over affordable drugs has died, very few will be there to help take care of these babies. We shall soon be hearing complaints about how, "these people breed like pigs.

What do they think we are, soup kitchens? Do they think we are just here to give and give?" I have been around racism to know it when it rears its head. I am also middle class and I know what we say in our circles about poor people.

I have made my reproductive choices, because I know my reality and I am trying not to be selfish. I do not want to deny anybody their reproductive rights. But I have become unpopular among my relatives and friends for reminding them: Please go ahead and reproduce if you want. Be a safe passage for babies if you want. But just make sure you leave an endowment for your mother, or whichever female will be taking over.

I am also angry because every time I want to buy my son something I can't. I have to think of the other kids. When I just want to take my son out, I feel guilty, because I should also take the others. I deny him what is rightfully his. Sometimes I have just chucked guilt to the wind and given him a treat, but he feels guilty too, and reminds me: "Ma, why is Colin not with us? You must also buy this ball for Lorraine." My heart breaks and I am ashamed.

In the final analysis for me Aids comes down to the very personal level.

Yes there is a bigger picture to all of this, there is a role for the state, the pharmaceuticals and the international community. But at the end of the day, it is about ME and the choices I make. I am relatively well-informed and so these choices are rational.

Yes there is an element of fear and paralysis. But it has helped me to see things in a clear perspective. I have made the choice to live. I have made the choice to protect the interests of my son, and to ensure that he will be materially comfortable when the day finally comes. I do not wish to foist my selfishness on another child. I do not wish to produce another because I won't be able to afford her/him.

So I look in great horror as all around me people behave like they have never heard of this disease. At all the three funerals we have had I can count the numbers of one or two-night stands that I witnessed. Indeed life must go on even in the face of tragedy. But what life is that?

I look in fear as around me casual sex continues as if it is the most natural thing in the world. I listen in horror as I hear some people say: "You people are so hung up on this Aids thing. Can't we have some fun anymore?" Even at the various funerals I have attended, I have seen a few people (mostly men) on the prowl for quickies. One of the church elders who buried my brother had a wink while talking to me about the arrangements.

"We will do the morning prayer at six tomorrow" (wink). "Let's go outside and talk dear. Come sit with me in my car" (wink, wink). I have been to Aids conferences where I had to latch my door at night and remove the phone from the hook. This after getting too many winks in the day and I knew these would surely have a night-time follow up. "Ah Chris, you are so fat. You can't have HIV! A nice woman like you?" More winks. This would make a good cheap movie, if only the movie was not going to turn into a mega-tragedy a few years from now. And right now I have a big part in this unfolding tragi-comedy.

A Ugandan friend (rest her soul) used to say that spending time with people intellectualising about Aids was a waste of time and energy. She used to say that they are like people who wake up and find a snake, with its head up, spitting, ready to strike, in their kitchen. They start debating: Does this snake exist? What colour is it? Where did it come from? And other such silly questions.

At this point the snake is sure as hell going to strike if they don't do something, but they want to "conceptualise it, develop a frame- work, flag it for the next discussion, analyse it", to use but some well-worn terms.
I keep wondering what it will take to make an impact on our behaviour. All I know is it's certainly not knowing the HIV status of a cabinet minister. Neither will the low price of some drug, nor a policy declaration from somewhere. As some religious ones would say, it is between you and your God. Or is it your body? Or your choices?

l Chiweshe is a Zimbabwean feminist activist. This article was first published in the Johannes- burg Star.

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Govt forced to abandon nuclear rector project

Forward Maisokwadzo
AN acute foreign currency shortage, exacerbated by dwindling export receipts and a flight of international capital, has forced the government to abandon its ambitious plans for a multi-million dollar nuclear reactor to be built by an Argentine nuclear technology company, Invap, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

The project was first mooted during President Robert Mugabe's visit to Argentina last year but ene-rgy sector specialists consi- dered it unrealistic given Zimbabwe's capacity to manage and pay for such a project.

The fate of the deal seems to have been sealed by the departure of Argentine Ambassador Enrique Pareja, who was a chief broker between the two parties involved. He has been posted to Portugal.

"It is up to Zimbabwe to pursue Invap's proposal for a small research facility," said a diplomatic source.

He said the project was very expensive and considering the situation which the country was in at the moment, it was understandable if the government had decided to shelve the project.

"Foreign currency shortages and probably lack of funding forced the government to put the project on hold but Invap was keen to start the project," the source close to the deal said. "A buyer must pressure when in need of something," he added referring to Zimbabwe's apparent reticence.
This development comes at a time when the country's power utility, Zesa, is unable to service the country's needs and has resorted to importing power from neighbouring South Africa's Eskom and Snel from the
war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo which left the parastatal accumulating a huge debt.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stan Mudenge, could not be reached for comment as he was in New York.

An official in the ministry, Mr Tsokodai, refused to talk about the project only saying it was an "old thing".

"It's an old thing but can you submit your questions in writing," he said.
Sources said while nuclear power would offer solutions to the country's energy shortage, government had no funds to start such a project, nor the expertise to manage it.

A source said despite a set of documents having been submitted to Mu-denge, the government has taken no position.

An Argentina-based environmental rights group warned the country about the dangers of having a nuclear power plant here. Dr Raul Montenegro, president of the Environment Defence Foundation, was reported as saying that if the plans to set up the power plant went head

Zimbabwe faced "unprecedented risks" with radioactive leaks and accidents always a distinct possibility.

However, it could not be established whether the government was still interested in the project which posed a large number of problems.

An Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald reported recently that a series of top-level meetings involving the presidents of Zimbabwe and Argentina and at least six Zimbabwean cabinet ministers had discussed plans for a super nuclear reactor to be built in Zimbabwe by Invap which had been awarded the Lucas Heights project in Australia.

The Argentine nuclear technology company put a proposal to the Zimbabwean government in February suggesting it begin with a small research facility, similar to that planned for Australia, and build up to a much larger power-generating reactor.

The Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Min-chin, told parliament in Canberra last month: "I understand that Zimbabwe itself approached Invap, but there were no negotiations entered into and there was certainly no formal proposal to Zimbabwe."

Senator Minchin said revelations about Invap's talks with Zimbabwe were "based on a plethora of false information".

However, it is now known that talks over the possibility of Invap building Africa's largest nuclear reactor in Zimbabwe began last year with an official visit to Argentina by the Zimbabwean president.

Mugabe met the Argentine President Fernando De la Rua at Government House in Buenos Aires in September to discuss the issue under the umbrella of talks on "South-South" co-operation.

Mugabe told De la Rua he was interested in developing a large nuclear power plant to address his country's acute electricity problems.

The Argentinian president undertook to have Invap work on a proposal.
Minchin said in a press statement last month (August) that Invap "supplied some initial information about a research reactor to Zimbabwe following a request, but there had been no further interactions and no negotiations had been entered into."

But the Sydney Morning Herald subsequently learned that Argentine Am- bassador Pareja held a round of meetings five months ago after the presidential visit in which he presented Invap's proposal to a collection of high-ranking government ministers.

On February 4, Pajera met Mudenge and handed over a set of documents
he later said "outlined Invap's proposals to the government for the setting up of a nuclear power plant in the country".

Pajera told the ministers that the proposal could be worked into a fully costed tender once Zimbabwe had decided whether it would proceed with its nuclear programme.

The chief executive of Invap, Hector Otheguy, said last month that the discussions with Zimbabwe have had "no further consequences" since Ambassador Pareja's meetings.

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Zimbabwe Fuel Hike to Worsen Industry's Plight - HARARE, Sept 1 (Reuters)
Harare Records Highest Number of HIV Cases - HARARE (Sept. 1) XINHUA
Ousted Hunzvi Alleges Plot by His Foes - Harare (Financial Gazette, August 31, 2000)
DRC War Figures Disputed - Johannesburg (UN Integrated Regional Information Network, August 31, 2000)
Zimbabwe, Singapore Sign Agreement on Investment, Trade - HARARE (Sept. 1) XINHUA
Zimbabwe Says to Grab More Farms, Violence Continues - HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters)
Zimbabwe Targets 410 More Private Farms for Seizure - HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)

Zimbabwe Fuel Hike to Worsen Industry's Plight

HARARE, Sept 1 (Reuters) - The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) said on Friday the latest hike in fuel prices by up to 101 percent would worsen the plight of companies already struggling under a harsh economic environment.

State oil procurer National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) raised the retail price of illuminating paraffin, used by the bulk of the country's urban poor, by 101 percent to Z$30.20 ($0.60) and said leaded petrol would now cost Z$40.80 a litre, a rise of 45 percent.

Diesel's price has risen to Z$36.40 a litre from Z$23.57, while Jet A1 goes up 52.3 percent to Z$28.

"The inflationary implications of increases of such a high magnitude are quite serious. Inflationis certainly going to rise again to above 60 percent by the end of this year," CZI said in a statement, saying this would reduce demand for consumer products and further undermine companies' viability.

NOCZIM said the increase, the fourth so far this year, had been necessitated by a rise in international oil prices and the devaluation of the local currency.

President Robert Mugabe devalued the Zimbabwe dollar by 24 percent to 50.00 to the dollar in August in a bid to boost flagging exports, while international prices for refined petroleum products have gone up by 19 percent.

NOCZIM is also struggling with a debt of about Z$9 billion ($180 million) which has seen its credit lines suspended, leading to an acute fuel crisis since December 1999.

The utility last raised prices by up to 26 percent in July, saying Zimbabwe was selling petroleum products at prices of between 30 and 40 percent below the cost of procurement.

On Wednesday the cash-strapped government said the country's fuel woes should gradually ease after its main supplier, Kuwait's Independent Petroleum Group, agreed to resume stalled supplies while repayment hitches were being ironed out.

The fuel crisis has hampered production in several industries and deepened Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 which many blame on government mismanagement.

"Long term stability in the price of fuel and indeed of other products can only be guaranteed if there is macroeconomic stability," CZI said, urging the government to speedily implement recovery measures it announced last month, including curbing public expenditure.

($1 - 50 Zimbabwe dollars)

Harare Records Highest Number of HIV Cases

HARARE (Sept. 1) XINHUA - Zimbabwe's capital Harare and the country's second largest city Bulawayo had the highest HIV cases last year, according to a report published by the National AIDS Coordination Program at the ongoing Harare Agricultural Show on Thursday.

Harare tops the list, with nearly 14,000 people being infected last year, and Bulawayo with 9,000 people.

The National AIDS Coordination Program said Zimbabwe, with an estimated population of 12.3 million, has been hit by the AIDS pandemic and the country has about 600,000 AIDS orphans.

It is estimated that over 500,000 people have died of AIDS- related diseases in the country.

Ousted Hunzvi Alleges Plot by His Foes

Harare (Financial Gazette, August 31, 2000) - Chenjerai Hunzvi, deposed as head of Zimbabwe's independence war veterans at the weekend, this week accused top officials of the ruling ZANU PF party of engineering his ouster but vowed to fight on.

Hunzvi named Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, ZANU PF's administration secretary Didymus Mutasa and former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa as the leaders of a bid to sideline him because, he said, they felt he had become too powerful and too close to President Robert Mugabe. Dabengwa and Mutasa immediately rejected his accusation. Mnangagwa could not be reached for comment because he is out of Zimbabwe on business.

Hunzvi said his removal from the leadership of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association (ZNLWA) on Saturday was part of a campaign among ZANU PF chiefs to strategically position themselves to take over control of Zimbabwe from the ageing Mugabe. He charged that the party's political heavyweights feared he could use what they perceived as his growing influence within ZANU PF and on Mugabe to block their ambitions and had thus engineered the no-confidence vote against him. They were also seeking to prevent him from being appointed a member of ZANU PF's supreme Politburo organ, he claimed.


"They see me as a threat and they fear that if I continue as chairman of the war veterans I may get appointed to the Politburo at the forthcoming ZANU PF congress," Hunzvi told the Financial Gazette. Elevation to the Politburo would turn Hunzvi into one of the most powerful politicians in the land. The Polish- trained doctor, who is also the ruling party's MP for Chikomba, is already credited with masterminding his party's slim victory against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the June general elections by spearheading nationwide invasions of farms and bludgeoning farm and rural voters to support ZANU PF. His relationship with Mugabe has reportedly been growing since then. Dabengwa denied he was involved in any way in the leadership wrangles of the ZNLWA, saying he had last dealt with the group more than two years ago.

Untrue "I have not had anything to do with the war veterans establishment since 1997 and I do not know anything about these problems they are having at the moment," he said. Mutasa also dismissed Hunzvi's allegations. "It is totally untrue. It is unfair for anybody to say we are trying to interfere with the war veterans. Their problem is something between themselves and nobody else," he said. ZNLWA secretary-general Andy Mhlanga, who led eight out of the association's 10 provinces in passing a vote of no confidence against Hunzvi, also dismissed Hunzvi's charges that he was being used by ambitious ZANU PF politicians. More than two ZNLWA provinces have so far come out in support of the embattled Hunzvi, saying that Mhlanga was working to split the association. But Mhlanga said Hunzvi's removal as chairman of the association had been done in accordance with the ZNLWA's constitution and in the interests of the ex- guerrillas.


"What Hunzvi is saying are just unfounded allegations. What happened last weekend was purely a war veterans issue," he said, repeating that most ex- combatants could no longer tolerate Hunzvi's alleged dictatorial tendencies. Hunzvi insisted that top ZANU PF members who were eyeing the state presidency were alarmed that he might scuttle their plans to take control of the party at its extraordinary congress due in November. "They say I am becoming too close to the President while they are being sidelined and they want to dilute my influence before the next congress," he said. The congress is expected to select ZANU PF's candidate for the 2002 presidential election, which is expected to be also contested by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

New candidate

It is widely expected but not guaranteed that Mugabe will retain the leadership of the party and that another party candidate will be nominated for the state presidency. Whatever happens, whoever is to become ZANU PF's presidential candidate will certainly need the unqualified support of the powerful war veterans. The group has increasingly become the king-makers within ZANU PF since they led the nationwide seizures of white-owned farmland in February. Mugabe has increasingly leaned on them, especially Hunzvi, for support while distancing himself from his former lieutenants, most of whom he unceremoniously dumped in a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle in July.

DRC War Figures Disputed

Johannesburg (UN Integrated Regional Information Network, August 31, 2000) - Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, Simba Makoni on Tuesday told parliament that President Robert Mugabe's government had spent over US $200 million during its two-year military intervention in support of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Laurent-Desire Kabila.

In an announcement seen by analysts as a departure from normal practice, experts contacted by IRIN said the figures on the cost of Zimbabwe's intervention to assist Kabila against a rebellion backed by Uganda and Rwanda should be viewed with caution.

Military analysts said the figures were too low as they excluded expenditure on military equipment acquired for the estimated 12,000 Zimbabwean troops in the DRC as well as the replacement value of losses to the equipment.

This was why, Michael Quintana, editor of Africa Defence Journal, told IRIN that government figures on the DRC involvement should be treated with caution: "Although it is impossible to calculate the actual cost of Zimbabwe's involvement in the DRC, there is, however, an estimated figure of about US $281.5 million that has not been mentioned by the minister," Quintana said.

He said the Zimbabwe Defence Force's (ZDF) air bridge to DRC - at the rate of five flights a week - is estimated to have cost between US $30 and US $40 million over the last two years. Quintana also said ZDF had also acquired armed carriers, gunships and helicopters from countries like France, Russia and Libya. "These costs, estimated at US $73 million, have not been mentioned in Makoni's answer in parliament."

Colonel Martin Rupiya of the Institute of Defence Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, said Makoni's figures only included costs that were easy to quantify such as food rations, salaries and basic equipment for the troops in the DRC. "The replacement value of equipment lost in the war is not included in the figure," Rupia told IRIN, adding that this was an operational secret which the government would never disclose.

Rupiya said Zimbabwe has admitted the loss of 39 soldiers who were killed before the signing of the peace agreement in Lusaka, Zambia in July last year.

This item is delivered by the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit (e- mail: irin@ocha.unon.org; fax: +254 2 622129; Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN), but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.

Copyright 2000 UN Integrated Regional Information Network.

Zimbabwe, Singapore Sign Agreement on Investment, Trade

HARARE (Sept. 1) XINHUA - Zimbabwe and Singapore signed an agreement here on Friday to promote investment and trade between the two countries.

Zimbabwean Finance and Economic Development Minister Simba Makoni said the agreement facilitates the promotion of investment and trade in the public and the private sectors between the two countries.

Singapore's High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Haider Msithawala described the document as a landmark in bilateral relations which have always been cordial.

"Although Zimbabwe is experiencing economic difficulties, these are only temporary and the country's economy has tremendous potential to develop," Msithawala said.

Zimbabwe Says to Grab More Farms, Violence Continues

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government gave notice Friday it would acquire a further 410 mostly white-owned farms.

The notice in the official Government Gazette came as the main Commercial Farmers Union reported continued violence and harassment on properties invaded by war veterans since February.

"Notice is hereby given in terms of ... the Land Acquisition Act that the president intends to acquire compulsorily the land described in the schedule for resettlement purposes," the Government Gazette said.

It said owners and other interested parties had a month to register objections in writing with the Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Ministry.

To date, Mugabe has served notice to acquire 1,952 of 3,041 farms earmarked for the resettlement of landless blacks.

On Friday, the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents 4,500, mainly white, farmers, said its members lodged objections to the acquisition of 593 farms of the 804 properties initially listed in June.

"We are aware that the majority of the farmers are not happy, especially on the issue of compensation, but we haven't received any more objections to date," a CFU spokesman told Reuters.

Mugabe's government has started resettling peasants on 211 farms acquired without contest, under a "fast track" program in which it aims to resettle people on about 800 farms before the onset of October rains in this agriculture-driven southern African country.

Mugabe has passed legislation allowing him to acquire the farms with no obligation to pay compensation for the land if former colonial power Britain does not provide the funds.

Mugabe plans to acquire nearly half the 30 million acres owned by about 4,500 white farmers to resettle peasants as redress for the seizure of land by British colonists over a century ago.

The CFU said Friday that the war veterans were still harassing farmers and their laborers and in some cases setting fires around the properties.

The union said it would meet a visiting International Monetary Fund delegation Monday to discuss the land grab.

The IMF has led other Western donors in suspending key aid to Zimbabwe mainly over the country's costly military involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo war and the land issue.

Zimbabwe Targets 410 More Private Farms for Seizure

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- The government identified an additional 410 private farms Friday, including land owned by Zimbabwe's last white leader, that it plans to confiscate and hand over to impoverished blacks.

Pushing ahead with its program to seize 3,000 mostly white-owned properties, a new list of targeted farms brought to 1,952 the number identified for nationalization under a hastened land redistribution program.

The notice gave the land owners until Oct. 1 to file any objections. The government was expected to identify another 200 more farms for confiscation.

Under a "fast track" land acquisition law passed by the ruling party in April, objections are a legal formality that do not bind the government to rescinding seizure orders even if reasons for objections are considered valid.

In the past, the government has said it will not take over productive land but was only targeting owners with what it considered excessive amounts of land.

Deepening confusion over the land seizure program, Friday's list included the names of some black land owners and repeated names from earlier lists.

The list targeted 592 hectares (1,420 acres) of land owned by Ian Smith, the last white leader of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence in 1980.

But the same land, a section of Smith's cattle ranch in southwestern Zimbabwe, was listed in a previous notice released in April.

Smith had not objected to forfeiting that land, saying it was surplus to his needs.

Leaders of the Commercial Farmers Union, representing about 4,000 white farmers, were not immediately available to respond to the latest list.

The union has criticized the seizure program so far, saying it has been poorly planned and administered, with many duplications and inconsistencies in the government's lists.

The government has said it will seize 3,000 white farms totaling about 5 million hectares (12 million acres) for resettlement by impoverished blacks.

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said last month many of the properties would be resettled before the start of seasonal rains around November.

Government officials, however, have conceded the resettlement program is broke. Surveying to carve up plots and install access roads, water sources and social services has not been carried out.

Zimbabwe is suffering from its worst economic crisis.

In February, veterans of the bush war that ended white rule in 1980 led the violent occupation of the first of more than 1,600 white-owned farms, demanding they be divided up among landless blacks.

President Robert Mugabe has supported the illegal occupations as a justified protest against inequities in land distribution. About 4,000 whites own one-third of the fertile farmland, where 2 million farm workers and their family members live. About 7.5 million people live on the other two thirds.

This year, illegal farm occupations have cut commercial production of wheat and tobacco, the largest hard currency earner, by more than 25 percent.

Declining hard currency earnings in the agriculture-based economy have caused acute shortages of fuel, electric power imported from neighboring countries and foreign goods including essential machinery, spare parts, electronics technology and medicine.

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The Financial Gazette reported this last week:

FINGAZ: A special committee investigating
alleged mismanagement at Air Zimbabwe has
warned that the national airline risks having
planes impounded by overseas creditors who
are owed more than US$4 million (about $200

The team, led by former Bulawayo town clerk
Mike Ndubiwa, slammed the airline's
management led by lawyer Tich Garabga for
failing to work together and said the company
was now technically insolvent to the tune of
$1,5 billion.

The probe team also noted splits within the
Air Zimbabwe board chaired by businessman
Nick Nyandoro because of different
backgrounds and corporate exposure.

Ndubiwa's team was appointed by former acting
Transport and Energy Minister Simon Moyo in
June and its report has since been submitted
to new Transport and Communications Minister
Swithun Mombeshora, currently on a business
trip to Geneva.

The confidential report obtained by the
Financial Gazette this week said the national
airline was virtually surviving on sales of
advance tickets and bank overdrafts and that
its interest burden had become untenable.

It warned that there was a real possibility
that Air Zimbabwe planes would be impounded
any time by international creditors owed more
than US$4 million.

Zimbabwe fuel shortage prompts flight diversions

The fuel shortage in Zimbabwe has worsened dramatically.

Motorists have long been used to going without petrol, but the main airport at Harare has now run out of aviation fuel.

International airlines have been forced to divert their aircraft so they can re-fuel elsewhere.

The crisis follows the decision of Zimbabwe's major fuel supplier to halt deliveries last week after the authorities failed to make payments.

The BBC Zimbabwe correspondent says an almost total lack of foreign currency means the country simply hasn't the money to pay for essential imports. Several airlines have also announced they intend halting flights to Harare because of a fall in passenger numbers.

Our correspondent says the economic crisis and the political upheavals of the past six months have crushed Zimbabwe's expanding tourist industry, with hotel bookings down eighty per cent.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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Presentation by John Robertson - Leading Economist in Zimbabwe

Harare Club, Zimbabwe 24 August 2000


Fast Track to Where?

This meeting today is taking place at the most crucial time in this country’s recorded history. My intention is to try and present a verbal picture of the dimensions of our problems in the hopes that everyone here will help lease on the government to force it to change course. I am sure that you won’t be surprised to hear that the focal point of my address is the land issue.

Government claims that land redistribution is essential are based on the belief that traditional farmers who have outgrown the capacity of the land farmed by traditional methods, have a right - and must be formally given the right - to extend their activities over most of the areas farmed by commercial methods.

Government also holds the belief that converting the majority of the country’s commercial farms into communal farms and that forcing the existing owners to relinquish ownership by invalidating their property rights will not be harmful to the economy.

This one-sided analysis of the farm land issue leaves out of the debate the growth and development that the country enjoyed because of the existence of property rights. The existence of these rights led directly to the investment that transformed the whole country into one of the most developed in the Third World.

Government also leaves out of the equation, the massive contribution to the economy that arises directly from commercial farming. Without exaggeration, government’s fast track land resettlement proposals will be a fast track to IMPOVERISHMENT and DISASTER, and nobody in the country will be able to avoid its consequences.

In the past, respect for individual property rights and the success of commercial agriculture have led directly to improvements that have reached everybody throughout Zimbabwe. Respect for property rights stimulated investment, and it is the investment put into this country over the last 100 years that lifted us head and shoulders above almost every other country in Africa. This investment has meant more jobs, more training, more schools, more clinics, more roads, more bridges, more tax revenues for government, more foreign exchange for the whole economy and more development of every kind.

Property rights made possible the investment needed to make all this happen. Where individual property rights have been recognised in this country, development has taken place and a modern economy has been created. Where individual property rights have not applied, investment levels have been at best very poor, and limited almost entirely to the investment of State funds rather than funds belonging to individuals.

Without individual property rights, individuals lack not only the inclination to invest, they also lack the means to invest, because the areas without property rights are out of reach of the banks.

Rather than sweeping aside the very foundation of the development in the economy’s modern sector, the same foundation should be built into the traditional sector. If this were carried out as a deliberate policy choice, the current communal lands would acquire transferability and collateral value. This would prompt the owners of the land to invest their time, energy and new borrowing capacity in restoring its fertility.

This land can be recovered and the cost of implementing the needed salvage programs would attract massive development support from within the country and from abroad, and the banks would happily provide the genuine property owners with all the money they could handle. I agree that we need a land reform program, and would argue that this is the land that needs reforming. It amounts to 20 million hectares, and recovering it would amount to the most powerful event in this country’s history.

Current government plans are working in EXACTLY the OPPOSITE direction. Where they do exist, property rights are being destroyed. The response from every possible source of assistance has been a withdrawal of support because the actions are seen to be destructive.

Continuing with the removal of these rights now will not only bring further development to an end, it will lead to the decay and collapse of a large proportion of the development that has taken place in the past.

With that decline, the country’s population will experience deepening poverty, a sharp fall in earnings, a steep fall in government tax revenues, the complete failure of most government services and the country’s inevitable isolation from vital developments in the regional and world markets.

Many supporters of government’s policies are disinclined to believe that commercial agriculture can have such enormous leverage over the country’s fortunes. Perhaps they are unaware of the facts:

The facts are:

This year, commercial farming is expected to produce about $45 billion in output.

It is employing 335 000 people and paying wages that come to more that $5000 million dollars a year or about $420 million a month.

Commercial farmers produce largely for export, and this year will earn the equivalent of about $40 billion in hard currency.

This money is vitally important to a wide range of other companies that require imported machinery, materials or components to produce consumer goods for the domestic market.

Thousands of product lines and perhaps a hundred thousand jobs in manufacturing therefore depend upon the foreign earnings of commercial agriculture.

To produce their crops and livestock, commercial farmers are themselves the customers for inputs worth about $35 billion in addition to the cost of their own farm labour.

The goods and services directly sustain thousands of separate companies that, between them, employ tens of thousands of people.

These companies earn profits on which they pay taxes, and pay dividends on which they also pay taxes. They pay salaries on which they and their employees pay taxes, and produce goods on which taxes are paid when the goods are sold.

Some of these companies are produce exports that add significantly to the country’s foreign earnings.

The crops and livestock produced by the farmers are themselves inputs for many other industries.

When manufacturers buy agricultural products, they do so to add value to them before they are sold. In value terms, by far the majority of commercial farm produce is exported after the value-adding processes have been carried out.

Most of the businesses that do the processing would not exist if their inputs were not available from the local commercial farming sector.

These processing companies also pay taxes on profits, on dividends, on salaries, on imports and on local purchases.

Most of these processing companies produce exports, the total value of which amounts to about half of the country’s foreign earnings.

Commercial farmers are among the most important of the clients serviced by the banks, financial institutions, insurance companies and commodity brokers.

Commercial farmers have also been among the most important clients of the firms of professional, civil, electrical, structural and telecommunications engineers, whose services are also invaluable to the rest of the economy.

These points are just an outline of the scale of the industry and the linkages it has to the many other sectors of the economy.


I must very forcefully make the point that the WHOLE INDUSTRY IS AT RISK. The damage would not be limited to only the effect of the forced closure of 3000 farms. The pertinent fact is that if 3000 commercial farmers are taken over, the remaining commercial farms will be unable to continue functioning.

The reasons for this include the additional facts that

The support services infrastructure essential to commercial farming will break down.

Worsening foreign currency shortages will cause more serious fuel and power shortages and the disappearance of essential imported inputs. Our recent fuel crisis clearly shows how finely balance our trading account really is, and we’ve had this crisis with most of the commercial farming exports still in place.

Continuing uncertainties over security for family members as well as land tenure rights and investment expenditures will drive the remaining commercial farmers away.

Financial institutions will have lost so much money over the forced closure of the 3000 farms, that new loan funds will not be available, and certainly not offered to the surviving commercial farmers, who will all still be treated as a bad credit risk.

Foreign buyers of agricultural output will replace Zimbabwe with more dependable suppliers.

Investors will no longer trust Zimbabwe to honour agreements or respect property rights in this, or any other area of the economy.

Of utmost importance is the fact that the 3000 farms intended for take-over are actually 3000 business that are vital to the economy. They have made possible the growing success of perhaps another 3000 or more separate and essential businesses. This economy is not big enough to withstand the destruction of 3000 businesses and possibly terminal damage to 3000 others. If the current proposals are forced upon the economy, the welfare of every person in the country will certainly suffer a deep decline.

The idea of phasing the take-over of farms over three years will not help. Farmers who receive notice that they have two or three years to close down their operations will probably not plant again. They will have all the more time to thoroughly strip their farms of every movable asset that can be sold for cash. But the tractors, farm implements, pumps, irrigation pipers, chemicals, fertiliser stocks, spares and dozens of other farm requirements that reach the market will completely displace all the companies that are in business to supply this type of product.

When these companies close, the thousands of people who work for them will lost their jobs and the millions of dollars paid in salaries as well as company taxes and personal taxes will stop.

Another vital point is that the population of this country, now at 12.5 million people, is 25 times as big as it was about a century ago. This rate of increase for an indigenous population probably sets world record.

This rapid population growth has been sustained over the years by the growth of the economy. If we now shrink the economy back to about half its current size, it will no longer be able to sustain 12.5 million people.

At the current average standard of living, it would barely have room for 6 million. But the additional 6 million or so would have nowhere to go, and the consequences for everybody in the country would be terrible.

Hundred of thousands of us will lose our jobs.

All 12.5 million of us will see our lives slump to a depth of poverty never before experienced in this part of the world.

For lack of wage incomes, malnutrition and deprivation will affect most of us almost immediately.

Families will not be able to afford school fees or medical fees, and government tax revenues will be too small to support welfare programs.

With sharply lower export revenues to spend on essential imports, fuel and medicines will become impossible to buy and social services will collapse altogether.

Many of our banks will face the risk of failure as the amounts owing by farmers on the collateral of titled deeds prove to be irrecoverable.

The failure of any bank could precipitate the collapse of that bank’s other clients and will seriously undermine the financial security of the entire economy.

After the first poor season or drought, we will see starvation affecting millions of people.

Under such conditions, humanitarian aid would be slow to arrive as the perception among donor countries will be that the catastrophe is self-inflicted rather than natural.

Neighbouring countries will almost certainly prepare more affective barriers to protect themselves from inflows of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

This is what President Mugabe’s policy is delivering us into, unless he can be stopped. We have only a matter of weeks before the policy choice drives us over the precipice.

Now is the time to ask ourselves -

Hundreds of thousands of people could soon close their jobs.

The incomes earned by the hundreds of thousands of people, amounting to billions of dollars, will no longer be earned.

Our children might soon have no job prospects and no training prospects, and hundred of thousands of parents will be unable to pay school fees.

Most Zimbabweans could soon find themselves living in poverty.

Our current policies are a Fast Track to calamity, disaster, chaos and misery. Mugabe’s policies have every prospect of failing, taking with them the livelihoods and dignity of millions of people.

We have every possible reason to do all that we can to ensure that the policies are not brought into operation.

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Far away places

Now we have friends in far away places
We never dream of visiting
And we have family in places we can't go
They've left home
There are no jobs here
So we save our little dollars
They never add up to much
The government devalues faster than we can save
Inflation, puts paid to the little we've left
We live hand to mouth now
Petrol is too dear to drive
Our pensions won't buy us dogfood
We can't retire
Our children can't support us
The way they did before
They're all dying of aids
Orphans scratch for food on the dumps
No, we just have to keep working
Any job we can get,
Afraid of our bosses
Their friends are Hurumende
They know finding work isn't easy these days
Hau, it's not the same as it was...
They say the whites are to blame
All I can say is they don't really care about us
No, they don't care about us
They don't care; Really
Where can we go from here?
                                    ...JW 03/09/2k.
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