|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Paddy Zhanda, chairman of National Merchant (NMB), told shareholders that hyperinflation, a lack of foreign currency, and a thriving black market are causing acute problems.
Julius Markoni, NMB managing director, told the BBC's World Business Report that Zimbabwe needs a better co-ordinated land reform programme and incentives for foreign investment and exporters.
"In order to reverse this trend there must be changes in the political field and economic measures", he said.
Zimbabwe's economic woes
Unemployment has soared to over 50%
Inflation is currently running at 70%
The economy is expected to shrink by 10% in 2001
Nearly 700 companies are reported to have closed down in Zimbabwe in the last 18 months due in part to chronic shortages of fuel and foreign exchange.
President Mugabe has said he will scrutinise the reasons behind the closures to determine if they were prompted by a desire to destroy the economy.
Critics of the regime have blamed the crisis on government mismanagement.
The president, however, has accused local whites and Western governments opposed to his land reform programme of sabotaging the country's financial well-being.
The president has faced widespread international criticism for his government's plans to seize white-owned land for resettlement by black farmers.
Western donor countries and lending agencies critical of land seizures have suspended foreign aid.
Local currency tumbles
Zimbabwe's vital export sectors have also suffered heavily since the local dollar devalued by almost a third and officially pegged at 55 to the US dollar.
On the black market, however, the local dollar trades at around 350 to the US dollar.
The prices of many key products have also been fixed, creating an illusion of success.
However, NMB's Julius Markoni said inflation is hurting the poor more than the middle classes.
With little else on which to spend their money, wealthy Zimbabwean have been buying shares, resulting in a surge in the stock market of some 120% this year.
Profits for NMB rose by 102% to nearly one billion Zimbabwe dollars ($18,000) in the last year.
Zimbabwe's neighbours are keeping a wary eye on events, fearing that the crisis could undermine economic growth across the whole region.
European Parliament Urgency Resolution On the Situation in Zimbabwe
European Parliament (Brussels)
September 4, 2001
Posted to the web September 4, 2001
European Parliament Resolution on Zimbabwe
Tabled on behalf of the 232-strong EPP-ED Group by Mr Geoffrey Van Orden MEP [UK - Conservative]; Mrs Mary Banotti MEP [Ireland - Fine Gael]; Mr John Corrie MEP [UK - Conservative]; Mr Nirj Deva MEP [UK - Conservative]; Mr Michael Gahler MEP [Germany - CDU]; Mrs Eija-Riita Korhola MEP [Finland - SKL]; Mr Klaus-Heiner Lehne MEP [Germany - CDU]; Mrs Hanja Maij-Weggen MEP [Holland - CDA]; Mr Neil Parish MEP [UK - Conservative]; Mr Lennart Sacrédeus [Sweden - KD].
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT,
- recalling its previous Resolutions on the situation in Zimbabwe on 13 April 2000, on 18 May 2000, on 6 July 2000, and on 15 March 2001
- recalling the Resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly adopted in Libreville, Gabon, on 22 March 2001
A. whereas Zimbabwe is sliding into chaos with a dramatic deterioration in law and order in recent weeks as a direct result of actions inspired by President Mugabe, entrenching a climate of fear and despair which impacts on all elements of the population;
B. whereas attacks on freedom of the press have continued, with oppression of both foreign and local journalists, including the arrest on 15 August of four journalists from the Daily News, the sole remaining independent newspaper in Zimbabwe;
C. whereas members of the opposition MDC are routinely subject to harassment, violent intimidation, and arbitrary imprisonment and go in fear of their lives: MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is currently facing trumped-up charges; most recently MDC MP Willias Madzimure has been attacked and his home looted; and Douglas Chapoterara, MDC vice-chairman in Makoni West, narrowly escaped death after attack on his home by a mob of ZANU-PF militants;
D. whereas vicious attacks on farmers and farm workers have continued, with the murder of Ralph Corbet near Kwekwe, the mob burning of homes and brutal intimidation of farm workers, and the arrest of over 21 farmers from the Chinhoyi area and their detention for over two weeks prior to release on bail on excessively harsh conditions;
E. whereas the economy is near collapse with galloping inflation, crippling unemployment, dramatic decline in foreign investment, and catastrophic shortfalls in maize, the staple crop, with the prospect of starvation levels in certain areas by November;
F. whereas mere expressions of international dismay have had little effect on the Mugabe regime and President Mugabe has shown contempt even for the imploring of other African leaders;
G. whereas the EU has so far failed to introduce procedures according to Article 96 of the Cotonou accord;
H. whereas most EU Member States have substantially cut or suspended their financial support and development aid to Zimbabwe, but France has significantly increased its engagement;
I. whereas democratic political leaders in Zimbabwe have called for travel restrictions to be imposed on President Mugabe and his close associates and for their overseas assets to be identified;
J. whereas the administrative structures for handling the Presidential election in Spring 2002 are likely to be established soon and may have an impact on the respective chances of presidential candidates;
1. Applauds the continued courage and resilience of those politicians and other citizens in Zimbabwe who have continued to stand up for democratic values and human rights in spite of the most dreadful intimidation;
2. Welcomes efforts by the SADC task force, comprising South Africa, Mozambique, and Botswana along with the SADC Troika of Malawi, Namibia and Angola, to encourage moderation and a return to democratic norms by the government of President Mugabe;
3. Trusts that the group of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting in Abuja on 6 September 2001, will insist that President Mugabe take immediate action to restore international confidence in the situation in Zimbabwe, with particular attention to human rights, law and order, economic stability, and a clean electoral process;
4. Recognises that fine words are unlikely to persuade President Mugabe to mend his ways and that visible and tangible action now needs to be taken which will focus directly on the interests of President Mugabe and his circle while sparing the people of Zimbabwe;
5. Congratulates the actions of the Governments of Denmark and Norway in suspending inter-governmental aid programmes;
6. Calls on the European Commission to review its food aid programme to Zimbabwe, in particular the methods of distributing this assistance to those most in need, to ensure by all means possible that provisions are not misdirected by ZANU-PF activists for their own gain and for electioneering purposes;
7. Reiterates its call to the European Commission and Member States of the EU to suspend all development co-operation assistance which is currently being managed through the Zimbabwean Government and its agencies, until such time as democracy and the rule of law have been fully restored;
8. Calls on the French Government to adhere to the line taken by other EU Member States in reducing or suspending its financial engagement in Zimbabwe;
9. Urges the Council and Commission to invoke measures against Zimbabwe as a "case of special urgency" under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement ahead of the meeting of ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels on 29 October 2001;
10. Calls on the Council of the European Union, at its informal meeting of foreign ministers at Genval on 8 and 9 September, to prepare concrete steps that might be taken by EU states to bring pressure to bear on President Mugabe and to take joint action accordingly at the next General Affairs Council on 8 October;
11. Insists, in particular, that the European Council take the necessary measures to identify and freeze the assets held in European countries and countries closely associated, by President Mugabe, his family, and named close associates;
12. Insists similarly that a travel ban be introduced to bar entry to EU countries and countries closely associated, by President Mugabe, his family, and named close associates;
13. Calls on the European Commission to start preparation of a comprehensive election-monitoring mission, including support for domestic monitors and training of observers;
14. Calls on the Commonwealth Heads of Government, at their meeting in Brisbane 6-9 October, to take the necessary steps to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth until such time as the rule of law is restored, with proper protection of the human rights of all citizens;
15. Calls on the European Investment Bank and the World Bank to review their lending to the Government of Zimbabwe and to consider suspension of loans;
16. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, EU Member States and Applicant States, the Government and Parliament of Zimbabwe, the Secretary General of the United Nations, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Secretary-General of SADC, the Secretary-General of the AU, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, the President of the World Bank and the Chairman of the European Investment Bank.
From Business Day (SA), 5 September
Zimbabwe, UK aim to end bitter row
Analysts sceptical about success of Abuja meeting
Abuja - Zimbabwe hopes to ease the tension between it and Britain over President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms at talks in Nigeria this week, but analysts and western diplomats are not optimistic. They say Mugabe's hard line on the seizure of white-owned farms for landless blacks, and his determination to blame almost all his problems on Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, have left little room for compromise. The meeting - an effort by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to end the London/Harare political stand-off over land reform and Mugabe's incremental authoritarianism - kicks off in Abuja tomorrow. A battle over the meeting's agenda which Harare wants focused on land while London and others want to emphasise political violence and the rule of law started yesterday. Zimbabwean officials said the two-day meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja should "make Britain realise" the political, moral and economic justification of Mugabe's reforms. "We believe that once Britain realises the justification of our programme, we should be able to patch our differences because our land policy is the source of our problems," Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge said.
The Abuja conference will be chaired by Nigeria and is expected to include ministers from Kenya, Jamaica and Australia. Mudenge and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made are expected to lead the Zimbabwean delegation, while the British group will be led by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. The Commonwealth team will be led by secretary-general Don McKinnon. SA had expected to be at the talks, the first since the group was set up in June. But Pretoria's involvement was still uncertain yesterday because of its hosting of the ongoing United Nations conference on racism in Durban, diplomats said. The Zimbabwe crisis was under discussion on the sidelines of a Commonwealth ministerial group in London yesterday, Nigerian officials said, and will be raised at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Australia later in the year.
"I don't see how the (Abuja) meeting can bridge the gap because what we have here is a problem of a government pursuing a programme of land reforms accompanied by violence and which almost the whole world has condemned," said Zimbabwean analyst Masipula Sithole. "The whole concept of seeing this as a problem between Zimbabwe and Britain is problematic because it is an internal problem with international ramifications," Sithole said. A Harare-based European Union diplomat said he expected "modest results" from the talks. "We get the impression that the Zimbabwean government is adamant that there is nothing wrong in the manner in which it is carrying out its programme and I am sure they will make that point very strongly," he said.
Although some African countries including Nigeria have largely displayed solidarity with Zimbabwe in the face of western criticism, they question Mugabe's strategy and plan. Zimbabwe has been shaken in recent months by the seizures of white-owned farms by landless blacks and by violence by pro-government militants. Political opponents of Mugabe have, meanwhile, been attacked, killed and beaten by his supporters with the apparent backing of the police. Britain, the former colonial power, has spearheaded international criticism of Mugabe. Mugabe has, in turn, accused Britain of trying to continue running the country and failing to pay compensation for land reforms he says were agreed in 1980 independence negotiations. Pessimists point to the failure of past attempts to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the issue, notably in 1998 when a deal was struck but not implemented.
From BBC NEWS, 5 September
Commonwealth urges Zimbabwe progress
Commonwealth foreign ministers have expressed renewed concern about events in Zimbabwe. The worsening political and economic situation there threatens to overshadow the Commonwealth summit in Brisbane in October. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the problems could not be ignored: the harassment and acts of violence were a matter of enormous concern. A meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in London expressed the hope that talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Thursday, would make some progress towards a solution.
No-one has high hopes of this week's talks in Nigeria, but Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon told the BBC it would be the first significant dialogue between Commonwealth ministers and the Zimbabwe Government. "Everyone is going with the hope that we can see a turn-around of some of the activities in Zimbabwe, that we can see progress towards a recognition of issues that could probably be dealt with in another way," he said. "But until we get to Abuja, until we see what's on the table, one wouldn't wish to make an early judgement." Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe wants the Abuja meeting to deal only with his quarrel with Britain over the financing of land redistribution. But Mr McKinnon said all the ministers had stressed there should be a wide agenda. That means it will cover not only the seizure of white-owned farmland in Zimbabwe, but also cases of the intimidation of the opposition, the judiciary and media.
From The Star (SA), 5 September
SADC leaders to put heads together in Zim
President Thabo Mbeki and five other regional heads of state will attend a two-day summit in Harare next week aimed at resolving the crisis in that country, said the presidency on Tuesday. Presidential spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said Mbeki would be joined in the Zimbabwean capital by the presidents of Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi Angola and Namibia. He described this as a part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative "to try and (sic) deal with some issues emerging from Zimbabwe". The meeting, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday with President Robert Mugabe and his cabinet ministers, will also involve such interest groups as commercial farmers and war veterans. "This indicates the commitment of the South African government to do whatever it can to deal with some of the challenges facing Zimbabwe," said Khumalo. "This is in the interests of not only Zimbabwe but the whole SADC region."
The Rand hit its lowest level ever on Tuesday when it dropped to R8,48 to the US dollar before recovering slightly after concerns over the continuing crisis in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean government on Monday launched a blistering attack on Britain and urged the international World Conference Against Racism to support African demands for reparations from former colonial powers. Defending his country's controversial land policy, Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the issue of compensation and reparations from its former colonial ruler Britain was critical for the peaceful resolution of his country's land question.
From ZWNEWS, 5 September
The last few weeks have been nothing short of revelatory. For the first time since the referendum in February past year, the press – particularly the foreign press – have begun to report what is actually going on in Zimbabwe.
It started first with an article in the UK Independent. Counting back over the months, they came up with the figure of 110 deaths from political violence – overwhelmingly opposition supporters. This after months in which almost every Zimbabwean and foreign newspaper had been repeating the figure of 30 – time and time again. This after months in which the Amani Trust had been reporting figures far, far bigger. Even one death is one too many, but shifting the figure up by a multiple of almost 4 does at least go some way towards illustrating what is actually happening. In July 2001 alone that figure of 110 rose by 10%. Those are just the reported deaths – who knows how many others remain the sorry, secret knowledge of the victims’ families, and the murderers?
Then came the associated discovery – for large sections of the foreign press – that it is black Zimbabweans, not white farmers – who are the real targets of the orchestrated violence. This revelation began after the arrest of the 21 Chinhoyi farmers (now 22, and all white). Until then, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary over the preceding 18 months, the plight of hundreds of thousands of black farmworkers, villagers in the communal lands, and urban dwellers remained all but invisible.
This shift in perception by the media reporting on Zimbabwe has been welcome. However, there is still one ‘fact’ found in nearly all reports on the land invasions: that 4,500 white commercial farmers live on 70% of the land, while eight million black villagers are crammed on to the remainder. Every Zimbabwean knows that land distribution has been disproportionate and the issue must be addressed. But the quoted facts used by nearly all foreign media referring to the inequality are completely inaccurate, and play firmly into the hands of the state propaganda machine. To use a different illustration, these oft-quoted figures imply that the population density is 4,100 times greater in the communal areas than on the commercial farms, which is patently absurd for anyone who has visited either.
The total population of Zimbabwe is 13 million. At least four million live in the towns and cities. That leaves nine million, two million of whom – before February 2000, and the start of the land invasions – lived and worked on the commercial farms. The total land area of Zimbabwe is almost exactly 39 million hectares. At Independence in 1980, commercial farmers owned 11.6 million hectares, or just short of 30% of the country’s total land area. Over the following 20 years, 3.5 million hectares were legally acquired by the government for resettlement, leaving white Zimbabwean farmers owning a shade over 8 million hectares by last year. This where the 70% figure comes from – the 4500 farmers now own 70% of what they owned 21 years ago. This amounts to just under 21 % of the total land area of the country.
Two million farmworkers, and 4500 white farmers – 15.5 % of the population - therefore lived and derived their livelihoods on 21% of the land, before the large scale evictions of farmers and farmworkers of recent weeks began. This ratio takes little account of varying land quality – on both commercial farms and communal lands – or the valid concerns about export earnings and food security. The population density is unequal, but nothing like as unequal as the factor of 4100, implied by the usually quoted figures, suggests.
The standard retort would be that the farmworkers don’t own any part of that 8 million hectares. That is true. But how many of the resettled farmers currently pegging their plots on the commercial farms will actually own their smallholdings. For the landless poor on both the communal lands and the recently invaded farms, there are no title deeds. They cannot use the land as collateral for capital improvement, they cannot sell it, and they hold tenure on that land at the whim of the local strongman. Ask any of the few thousand villagers who were resettled on some of the legally-acquired commercial farms up to 1999, or those who have recently been allocated plots - four hectares on average - on commercial farmland.
In some areas, or course, legal title has been granted. Ask what has happened to the vast bulk of the 3.5 million hectares bought by the state. Ask George Charamba – the ubiquitous Presidential spokesman. He has a 100 year lease over 1500 hectares on the Battlefields Estate near Kadoma – bought by the government for the resettlement of landless peasants.
From Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 4 September
Mugabe denied permission to bring armed security guards to Australia
Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, says discussions about Zimbabwe's President Mugabe's controversial regime have been deferred at a Commonwealth Ministers' meeting in London. More talks are scheduled for later this week in Nigeria. But Mr Downer has confirmed that a request by Zimbabwe to provide its own armed security for the President has been declined. "His officials have raised with us whether it would be possible for armed security guards to come with him and we said no it wouldn't be possible for armed security guards to come with him."
From The Daily News, 4 September
New wave of violence reported
A new wave of political violence is sweeping across the country and property worth more than $40 million has been destroyed in five provinces by people masquerading as war veterans or Zanu PF supporters. The affected areas are Makoni West, where a by-election is to due this weekend, Masvingo, Bulawayo, where mayoral elections are scheduled for this weekend, Mashonaland Central and Marondera in Mashonaland East.
In the Marondera commercial farming area farm workers are being forced to attend pungwes (all-night rallies). Many farmers in these areas have stopped preparing for the tobacco planting season. Yesterday, workers at Carolina, Tranquillity, Balihai, Silver Queen, Spesbona, Monora, Alexandra and Brandesbury farms said they were beaten up by Zanu PF youths led by three people claiming to be war veterans, identified as Shasha, Zenenga and Marimo, for refusing to attend a rally at Arcadia Farm. One worker said: "Shasha and his team came here to beat up people. They said we were supposed to attend a rally to be addressed by David Karimanzira, the Mashonaland East provincial governor." Steve Pratt, the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) spokesman for Mashonaland East, said since last week there had been work stoppages on at least six farms in Wenimbe Valley as the war veterans commandeered farmers' tractors to ferry workers to pungwes.
In Makoni West, invaders suspected to be Zanu PF supporters have turned the rural constituency into a war zone as they conduct violent purges against suspected MDC supporters. Remus Makuwaza, of the MDC, and Gibson Munyoro, of Zanu PF, will contest the seat left vacant after the death in a car accident in May of Moven Mahachi, of Zanu PF. Although the campaigning started peacefully, it has now turned violent with three MDC supporters’ homes burnt down by suspected Zanu PF activists. Three MDC members, Gibson Ratimba, Revai Magondo and Richard Mutemi, were assaulted after being accused of campaigning for their party.
In Nyamandlovu, 58 ostriches worth more than $2 million were burnt to death yesterday by farm invaders at Redwood Park Farm who evicted the farm owner, Peter Goosen, last week. There are about 2 500 ostriches on the farm where wheat is also grown. A militant group of about 100 that has been camped on the farm has threatened to kill Goosen, forcing him to leave his property. He is now living in Bulawayo after an abortive meeting with the police, the CFU and the invaders. Xavier Pfende, 64, an MDC activist from Chiveso village in Musana communal lands in Mashonaland Central, is recovering at the Avenues Clinic in Harare after being beaten up and left for dead by suspected Zanu PF supporters on Wednesday. Pfende lost two teeth and sustained a broken jaw and severe head injuries after he was attacked with iron rods. Another MDC member from the same area, Alexio Jojo, sustained serious head injuries when the same group attacked him with a hoe.
In Masvingo, violence has swept across the province as suspected Zanu PF supporters have been invading commercial farms and beating up farm workers and MDC supporters. Mike Clarke, the CFU regional chairman, said the situation on farms remained tense and farmers were losing property worth millions of dollars as the invaders have turned to looting at will. "Commercial farming operations have ground to a halt in the province. The lives of commercial farmers are in danger. The new acts of violence are sending the wrong signals as some of the affected people have fully supported the land reform programme," said Clarke. He said the worst affected areas were Masvingo East and Mwenezi commercial farming areas. In Masvingo East, veld fires started by the invaders have continued to destroy pasture and there are fears that cattle might die because of pasture shortage, according to Clarke.
From BBC News, 5 September
Bankers slam Zimbabwe's economic policies
The head of Zimbabwe's second biggest private bank has criticised the economic policies of President Robert Mugabe. Paddy Zhanda, chairman of National Merchant (NMB), told shareholders that hyperinflation, a lack of foreign currency, and a thriving black market are causing acute problems. Julius Markoni, NMB managing director, told the BBC's World Business Report that Zimbabwe needs a better co-ordinated land reform programme and incentives for foreign investment and exporters. "In order to reverse this trend there must be changes in the political field and economic measures", he said.
Asked if he was worried about speaking out so openly against President Mugabe's financial policies, Mr Markoni said: "We're not having a go at the government as such. We're just stating day-to-day facts which affect how people can afford to live, or not to live, in Zimbabwe. Nearly 700 companies are reported to have closed down in Zimbabwe in the last 18 months due in part to chronic shortages of fuel and foreign exchange. President Mugabe has said he will scrutinise the reasons behind the closures to determine if they were prompted by a desire to destroy the economy.
Critics of the regime have blamed the crisis on government mismanagement. The president, however, has accused local whites and Western governments opposed to his land reform programme of sabotaging the country's financial well-being. The president has faced widespread international criticism for his government's plans to seize white-owned land for resettlement by black farmers. Western donor countries and lending agencies critical of land seizures have suspended foreign aid.
Zimbabwe's vital export sectors have also suffered heavily since the local dollar devalued by almost a third and officially pegged at 55 to the US dollar. On the black market, however, the local dollar trades at around 350 to the US dollar. The prices of many key products have also been fixed, creating an illusion of success. However, NMB's Julius Markoni said inflation is hurting the poor more than the middle classes. With little else on which to spend their money, wealthy Zimbabwean have been buying shares, resulting in a surge in the stock market of some 120% this year. Profits for NMB rose by 102% to nearly one billion Zimbabwe dollars in the last year. Zimbabwe's neighbours are keeping a wary eye on events, fearing that the crisis could undermine economic growth across the whole region.