|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
starvation as Mugabe men seize famous wildlife
By Andrew Chadwick in Harare
Five-week-old lion cubs have become the latest victims of President Robert Mugabe's lawless land grab in Zimbabwe.
Their rescuers, Brendon and Lana Snook, had only minutes to load the cubs into their car, along with their son, three dogs and a few possessions, when the president's supporters invaded a wildlife sanctuary outside Harare.
The family, along with the animals, found refuge with relatives in the capital, but the fate of the cub's parents, another 34 lions and hundreds of other animals remains in the balance after the seizure of the Lion and Cheetah Park.
Although not a farm and with no government notices issued for its acquisition, the 1,100-acre property was taken by a retired colonel, K Makavanga, accompanied by a group of Zanu-PF militia.
The Lion and Cheetah Park, established in 1968 by the Bristow family as a wildlife sanctuary for orphaned animals, is one of Zimbabwe's oldest privately owned sanctuaries.
Until its seizure it was home to 46 lions, three cheetahs, small herds of elephants and giraffes, hundreds of impalas and other antelopes as well as jackals, crocodiles and numerous smaller animals.
The animals are known internationally for appearing in major films and documentaries filmed in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya.
Their credits include Mountains of the Moon, the story of Burton and Speke's search for the source of the Nile, King Solomon's Mines, with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone, and A Far Off Place, starring Reese Witherspoon.
The park also encourages a wider understanding of conservation by subsidising the visits of over 3,000 schoolchildren a month.
Col Makavanga had approached the park's management with the idea of expanding its operations into surrounding farms. He claims that instead of responding to the proposal, Mr Snook, the park manager, incited the workers to attack a passing "war veteran" and other militants then came to his aid.
Mr Snook denies this version of events, saying the proposal submitted by Col Makavanga was unworkable and this prompted the colonel and his supporters to invade the park. Mr Snook's version was backed up by staff members who spoke to The Telegraph.
Although Col Makavanga has expressed an interest in continuing the operations of the wildlife park, its owner, Viv Bristow, 58, fears for the welfare of the animals. "Running a park of this nature is a complex and costly operation," he said from South Africa, where 10 of his lions are being filmed.
"You need to understand the physiological needs of a wide range of animals, you must be licensed to use dangerous drugs, and know how to prepare food and care for the animals."
Thousands of wild animals on private land have been killed, poached or died of neglect since the land redistribution programme began in 2000.
Mr Snook, 40, said a request to move the animals off the land had been denied by Col Makavanga. "If we cannot get them off or get food to them soon, they will begin to die," he said.
"More worryingly, once the lions get hungry they will easily find a way out of their enclosures and there is a lot of human settlement adjoining the park."
The animals are at present being cared for by the staff of the park despite threats of beatings and having their houses burnt down.
"If these war veterans take this place, the animals will be killed or will die and we will lose our jobs," said one of the workers. "All around us are derelict farms that have been destroyed by these people and this park is more difficult to run than a farm."
— Young Zimbabweans who fled recently to South Africa
yesterday recounted, shamefaced, the savage crimes they committed as members
of pro-government youth militias.
Speaking in the presence of Zimbabwean and South African bishops who
denounced the atrocities committed by the National Youth Service, they
talked in low voices, their gaze fixed on the floor, of how they killed,
burned and raped.
Invariably, after a few moments, the stream of words faltered as they
started to sob.
Opposition parties in Zimbabwe have long accused the militia of large
numbers of attacks on critics of President Robert Mugabe, who won a disputed
re-election in 2000.
The bishops, releasing the results of a no-holds-barred probe into the
Zimbabwean program, said that the 30,000 to 50,000 youngsters in the
service — some as young as 11 — are themselves maltreated.
"The youth militias so created are used as instruments of the ruling
party, to maintain their hold on power by whatever means necessary,
including torture, rape, murder and arson," the report said.
Debbie, 22, one of the former members of the militia, held her year-old
daughter Nothula ("Peace" in Sindebele) on her lap at the press conference.
"I was raped by so many different men, I don't know whose baby it is,"
Debbie, who gave only one name, said the female members used to share a
room with boys at the training camp at Ntabanzinduna, near the western
Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo, "and at night they would rape us."
She said she has tested positive for HIV, the AIDS virus.
Thabo, 21, said he learned to make gasoline bombs at the training
In the camp where he spent 10 months, he said he had raped several of
the girls who slept in the same dormitory.
Thabo, who also gave only one name, said in January last year he joined
some 50 militiamen in invading the home of an opposition politician.
"We twisted his head, we beat him with sjamboks [long leather whips],
iron bars, crowbars, in front of his wife and seven children — they were
crying. ... Then we left his body by the river."
Thabo said the militia leader used to give the youth beer and marijuana
before they went out on an operation. "When we got back to the camp we would
have a party."
Wesley, 19, said: "There are many things we did ... some of them, if I
think of them, make me feel like crying."
When he joined, he said, he was promised money, comfort, land for his
family — but was left empty-handed.
The three youths, who are seeking political asylum in South Africa, are
among hundreds who have fled the youth service. Isolated and penniless in
Johannesburg, they dream about returning one day to their homeland.
"If my country is going to be OK, I'm going back," Thabo said.
The bishops, whose report criticized Mr. Mugabe's party for using its
youth service to carry out brutal crimes aimed at "inculcating blatantly
antidemocratic, racist and xenophobic attitudes," predicted that returning
would be difficult.
"Our youths have been turned into vandals and have become a lost
generation in the process," they said.
JUSTICE FOR AGRICULTURE
CONSERVATION COMMUNIQUE - September 5, 2003
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
ZIMBABWE CONSERVATION TASK FORCE
HALGLEN ANIMAL CONSERVANCY
Contrary to the Government's statement that the land seizures are now over,
the very few white farmers and game ranchers who have so far managed to
hold on to their properties are now under pressure to give up their land.
Justice for Agriculture has issued a warning to those farmers who were not
previously gazetted for land resettlement, that operation "clean sweep" is
about to take place whereby high-ranking government officials want the
remaining farmers and their workers off their land.
40 kilometres north-east of Bulawayo are two game farms adjoining each
other are known as the "Halglen Animal Conservancy". This 4 500 hectare
conservancy, which is completely unsuitable for agriculture, is one of the
very few places in Zimbabwe which still has wildlife and the owners have
gone to enormous expense to protect the 3 200 animals there. The properties
are properly fenced and adequate watering points have been positioned
throughout. In addition to this, 12 trained scouts patrol and protect these
animals 24 hours a day from poachers.
The owners of Halglen are now under pressure to give up the conservancy and
sacrifice 3 200 wild animals to untrained and undisciplined people. The
records show that on most of the other game ranches and conservancies that
have been resettled, the wildlife has been wiped out in a very short space
of time. On many game farms where the wildlife was previously abundant,
there is literally nothing left. The game has been indiscriminately poached
and slaughtered by the settlers and in addition to this, they have been
selling hunts to unscrupulous hunters from South Africa and Botswana who
are capitalizing of the chaotic situation here in flagrant defiance of the
laws laid down by National Parks, Zatso and the Zimbabwe Tourist Authority.
Because of this the country has lost millions of dollars in foreign
Unless we have a change of government, it seems we are powerless to stop
this tragedy which is unfolding daily. There is very little wildlife left
here now and we need to save these 3 200 animals from being slaughtered by
a handful of greedy, misguided individuals who will, no doubt, hunt them
for personal gain as they have already done countrywide. WE NEED HELP!
Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
Phone 09 2634 336479
Fax 09 2634 335114
Mobile 09 263 11 603213
JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
Letter 1: Ben Freeth
WHITE COATS AND STETHOSCOPES
It appears to me that there must be something intrinsically wrong with our
education system. Why is it that so many people appear unable to think,
unable to draw lines in the sand; unable to stand up for what they know
deep down in their heart is right?
I heard recently of an experiment that was conducted soon after the 2nd
World War. Volunteers were asked to come to assist with the experiment.
They were faced with a man sitting in an electric chair and another man in
a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck. The volunteer was asked
to turn the dial so that the man with the white coat and the stethoscope
could examine the effects of the electricity going through the man on the
electric chair. The affects were scientifically recorded before the
volunteer was asked to turn the dial higher. With each new setting on the
dial the convulsions became alarmingly worse. If any hesitancy was shown
the volunteer was told reassuringly by the man in the white coat with a
stethoscope that it was essential for science that the experiment
continued. The volunteer is 85 cases out of 100 continued to turn the
What the volunteer didn't know was that the man in the white coat with a
stethoscope was just an actor and that the man in the electric chair was
not being studied at all. He was an actor too. It was the volunteer that
was the subject of the study.
The experiment in essence concluded that take a man out of his own
environment into an environment seeped in the recognised "system" and he
will go along with it even to the point of inflicting serious suffering to
a fellow human being. Only 15 of every 100 people had the ability to
question what was going on and act upon what their thoughts told them by
refusing to obey the man in the white coat with the stethoscope.
The experiment results had a profound effect on me. They explain a lot of
why evil men as part of "the system" through history have got away with
what they've got away with for so long. "They can't be bad", the people
say "they're part of the system". It explains further why organisations do
not often stand against bad men in the system because they themselves are
part of the same system of white coats and stethoscopes. Who are they to
question? Who are they to go against what is surely set in stone?
It is not of course "the system" that is necessarily bad. It is men who
manipulate the system to meet their own agendas to the detriment of what is
right that are the bad ones; and it is those within the system that see the
white coats and stethoscopes and don't think, don't question, don't rock
the boat, that allow the evil to bear fruit.
Maybe it's the education system; maybe it's the culture and belief systems;
maybe it's something intrinsically wrong with man, but time and time again
evil men are passed the ball and run with it, smiling as they go leaving a
minefield of destruction in their wakes. And the supposed opposition - the
custodians of justice, of morality, of everything that is intrinsically
right, just watch him go like a flock of gormless sheep. We don't question;
we don't blow the whistle; we don't say "Hey!". The man just runs on and
nobody wants to tackle him because he's wearing a white coat and has got a
stethoscope hanging around his neck.
How did the NAZI regime get away with methodically, systematically and
scientifically over a period of years with murdering 6 million Jews and
other non-Aryans? The system allowed it because so few within the system
dared to question its validity. They carried on "turning the dial" because
there was a man in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck
reassuring them that it was okay.
How did the current regime in Zimbabwe get away with systematically
murdering up to 20,000 Matabeles during Gukuruhundi without anyone really
even batting an eyelid?
How did the CFU hierarchy get away with allowing the majority of farmers to
find themselves on the wrong side of the law this time last year? It was
because of us. We didn't exercise our minds and question. We trusted
implicitly in the system and the institutions to sort out our problems. We
didn't get out there as individuals. We were not fierce. We did not have
passion in our eyes and drums in our hearts.
Situations like these require men who dream dreams and see visions,
independent men who get out there amongst the blood and the sweat and the
grime of the battlefield and don't count, like impeccable Victorian
accountants, the potential dollars and cents that might be lost. It needs
men with big hearts and hard feet - dangerous men who tackle hard and fight
and don't give up; men who dare. It is only then that we fulfill our God
ZANU PF losers withhold food-for-work payments
CHITUNGWIZA residents who participated in a public works programme
initiated by outgoing ZANU PF councillors are still to receive payment a
week after completing the exercise, the Daily News has established.
Chitungwiza Executive Mayor Misheck Shoko confirmed the non-payment.
He said the council received a
directive from Public Service Minister
July Moyo, ordering them to disburse $150 million to beneficiaries of the
public works programme, which is supposed to benefit disadvantaged members
of the community who undertake public service for remuneration.
He said most of the
beneficiaries were yet to be paid, alleging that
the exercise was a scheme to gain votes for ruling party candidates during
last weekend’s urban council elections.
Shoko said: "The food-for-work programme was only a
cover. The whole
thing was just simple vote-buying. How possibly can one distribute $150
million within just six days? It was just a case of vote-buying, which
unfortunately did not do any favours to ZANU PF."
Before the elections, ZANU PF had 24 councillors in
the MDC won 18 of the 24 wards in the weekend elections.
Shoko alleged that the money was supposed to be
disbursed by the
outgoing councillors to their respective wards, but the councillors had
withheld the money pending announcement of the results.
He added that the new council would undertake an audit
of the funds
disbursed to the losing councillors and then decide on its next course of
But Public Service Ministry permanent
secretary Lancaster Museka said
it was the responsibility of town clerks to distribute money allocated under
the food-for-work programme.
He told the Daily News: "Money is deposited into
council accounts and
it is the duty of clerks to distribute the money on behalf of the
councillors. Councillors do not handle money and if they did so, it was due
to shortcomings on the part of the council.
"If that was the case, the outgoing councillors should simply hand
over the ward registers to the new councillors and the people should be
given their money."
However, Shoko said he had been told by the Chitungwiza
that the government had made available $150 million on 20 August, which was
to be disbursed in 10 days.
"I was told that the
government said the councillors should be
responsible for the programme and the disbursement of the money, while the
clerks would simply do clerical work," he said.
Chitungwiza town clerk Simbarashe Mudunge could
not be reached for
Chitungwiza who participated in the public works
programme told the Daily News this week that they were promised $5 000 each
for four days of work in the run-up to the urban council elections.
Some of the intended
beneficiaries of the scheme are spending their
afternoons at Chitungwiza Community Hall waiting for their money, only to be
told to "come back tomorrow".
A Chitungwiza woman said: "We were told that we
would be given the
money after the council election results."
The results were announced on Monday.
Shoko said some of the Chitungwiza residents were given
only $2 500
each for their labour and told the remainder would be disbursed after the
election results were announced.
Chigwaza Own Correspondent
MDC woos SADC
MALAWI this week pledged to help Zimbabwe’s main opposition party
win regional backing for its drive to restart talks with President Robert
Mugabe, as it emerged that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would
embark on a regional initiative to engage southern African leaders on the
need for dialogue.
secretary-general Welshman Ncube was quoted by Reuters news agency
yesterday as saying that Malawian President Bakili Muluzi had assured the
opposition party that he would engage his peers in the 14-state Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) to facilitate dialogue in Zimbabwe.
Talks between the MDC and the ruling ZANU PF stalled
last year when
the opposition party filed a legal challenge of Mugabe’s March 2002
Ncube was quoted as saying: "We assured
him (Muluzi) that the MDC
remains firmly committed to seeing a negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe."
Party officials said the MDC
secretary-general and the party’s
national chairman, Isaac Matongo, were expected back from Malawi last night.
The MDC deputy
secretary-general, Gift Chimanikire, and Sekai Holland,
the party’s secretary for international affairs, were yesterday said to be
in Kenya on a mission to lobby President Mwai Kibaki to nudge Mugabe and the
ruling ZANU PF towards dialogue.
Authoritative sources in the MDC said in Harare
yesterday that the
party’s leaders would engage in a diplomatic initiative in the region to
inform SADC leaders of the situation in Zimbabwe and the need to kick-start
the stalled talks.
Analysts say a negotiated
settlement to end the political stalemate in
the country is one of the main options for resolving the Zimbabwean crisis.
But the ruling
party has indicated that it is not in a hurry to resume
talks with the opposition and has been accused of dragging its feet on a
church-led initiative to broker talks between Zimbabwe’s main political
Although church leaders held a meeting
with Mugabe, who was said to
have expressed interest in their initiative, the ruling party has failed to
submit its agenda for the proposed talks.
The MDC, however, made its submissions before the
deadline set by the
But diplomatic sources said
there was regional support for the
Botswana and Mozambique, while publicly supporting the
Zimbabwean government, wanted a political compromise between the Zimbabwean
parties, arguing that the crisis in Zimbabwe was affecting their economies.
sources said while Mugabe received public support from his
colleagues at the recent SADC summit in Tanzania, most of his colleagues in
the region were keen for the talks to resume.
They added that Mozambican
President Joaquim Chissano and his Botswana
counterpart, Festus Mogae, had in private SADC meetings indicated that the
Zimbabwean government should acknowledge the existence of the opposition and
urged the formation of a coalition government.
South Africa favours a government of
national unity in Zimbabwe, in
which ZANU PF is in charge, the sources said.
But Mugabe dismisses the MDC as a puppet of former
Britain, and last month said the opposition must "repent" before there could
Meanwhile, Reuters yesterday
reported that Malawian Foreign Minister
Lilian Patel said Muluzi had urged the MDC not to focus only on political
dialogue but also on serious economic dialogue.
She also warned that support from Zimbabwe’s
neighbours could only go
so far to sort out the country’s crisis.
"Much as other countries may try to help resolve issues
solutions to those problems remain with Zimbabweans themselves," Patel said.
– Reuters/Staff Reporter
National youth service churning out killers: Chamisa
ZIMBABWE’S controversial national service programme has failed to
empower the country’s youth, Kuwadzana legislator Nelson Chamisa told
Parliament this week, calling on the government to abandon the scheme.
In his maiden speech before the House, Chamisa, who is
for Democratic Change’s national youth chairman, said resources allocated to
the programme should be used to promote employment creation and economic
He added that the national service
programme had been used to turn
Zimbabwe’s youth into "lethal killers". The government is accused of using
the programme to create a pro-ruling party militia that is accused of
violence and acts of terror.
is a tragedy that the young people of this country are being
turned into swords of a repressive political system," said Chamisa.
"Through the National Youth Training Service, the young people of
country are being militarised to ensure that the very system that is
responsible for their poverty and hopelessness remains in place. The youth
of this country will have to be delivered from the clutches of this criminal
More than 14 000 young people have
trained under the programme since
it was introduced in 2000 with the aim of "instilling discipline and
patriotism" among the country’s school leavers.
Despite complaints from the public and human rights
the programme has been used to create a ruthless loyalist militia for the
ruling party, President Robert Mugabe has promised to increase the number of
national service training institutions.
Amid heckling from ZANU PF legislators, Chamisa
said: "There is
nothing national about the programme except that it is a desperate attempt
to turn the youth into instruments of rape, torture and violence. What comes
out of this violent programme are not young patriots, but robots programmed
to maim and kill for the cause of autocracy."
The government has denied the involvement of
national service recruits
in acts of violence.
said a programme should be put in place to rehabilitate
graduates of the programme. He said: "The programme is an induction into
social and political banditry.
"The predicament is that most of our young people who
been victims of the National Youth Training Service have to be taken to
schools so that at least they are re-oriented into society. This shall be
one of the earliest programmes of an MDC government."
Archbishop Ncube attacks African leaders over Mugabe
JOHANNESBURG – A top Zimbabwean bishop accused African leaders
yesterday of ignoring state-backed violence in his country, saying young
people were being turned into violent instruments of President Robert Mugabe
Last month African leaders backed Mugabe at
a meeting of the Southern
African Development Community, asking the West to lift sanctions against the
economically crippled country.
Pius Ncube, the Catholic archbishop of Zimbabwe’s second city of
Bulawayo, said Mugabe’s government had brainwashed young Zimbabweans in
training camps run by his ruling ZANU PF party, teaching as many as 50 000
youths to practise violence.
Ncube, long an outspoken critic of Mugabe’s
government, said African
leaders had refused to speak out in the misguided belief they must unite
against "neo-colonial" pressure from former ruler Britain and other Western
nations. "It is mob psychology by African leaders. They have become totally
blinded to the abuse of human rights," Ncube told a Johannesburg news
"Pressure should be brought
upon Mugabe to stop this abuse . . . which
is killing off the souls of young people."
Reports of increasing violence by youth militias come
sinks deeper into its worst political and economic crisis since independence
With inflation riding at close to 400
percent and critical shortages
of food and fuel, Zimbabwe’s downward spiral has been exacerbated by
political tensions which critics attribute to Mugabe’s increasingly
ZCTU protests over barring of paying workers in cash
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday wrote to the
government expressing concern about a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
directive barring local companies from paying their workers in cash because
of severe bank note shortages.
Some firms have
resorted to paying workers in cash instead of
depositing salaries with banks, so that employees do not spend most of their
time queueing for cash at banks.
Financial institutions are rationing money because of
forcing workers to visit their banks every day in search of cash.
"It is unclear what the motive of the RBZ is, but this
definitely cause consternation (sic) among workers against their employers
as some might not be able to get their salaries from the bank at the end of
the day," ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe said in a letter to
Labour Minister July Moyo.
Moyo could not be
reached for comment yesterday, but an official in
the ministry confirmed receiving the letter.
The RBZ has not responded to questions
sent by the Daily News last
month on the matter.
the ZCTU general council will today hold a special meeting
in Harare to discuss ways of forcing the government to address the shortage
of cash, which has affected the country since late April.
"The decision on
what sort of action to take and the date (of the
action) will be decided by the ZCTU general council at a meeting tomorrow,"
Chibhebhe said yesterday.
Disillusioned invaders trek back home
ZIMBABWE’s fast-track land reform programme is meant to benefit
landless people forced to live in congested communal areas, but many of the
supposed beneficiaries are turning their backs on their new land.
Dorset resettlement area, 40 km south of the Midlands capital of
Gweru, is an example of the shortcomings of President Robert Mugabe’s
accelerated land redistribution programme which was meant to reverse the
legacy of a century of colonial land policy.
When the fast-track land reform
programme commenced in 2000,
self-styled war veterans led hundreds of land-hungry Zimbabweans into the
on the borders of Gweru and the ghost mining town of
Shurugwi, is arid and dotted with acacia thorn trees, and had mostly been
used for cattle-ranching by white commercial farmers.
New settlers, who numbered about 6
000 at the peak of the land
invasions, generally refer to the area as kujambanja – slang for "a place of
violence" in the local Shona language. Most of the new farmers came from the
Midlands province, while the rest trekked from Matabeleland South.
When IRIN visited the area, at
least half the families that had
invaded the ranches were now wanting to go back to their original homes,
with a significant number uncertain about their future in Dorset.
In the settlements, hastily constructed pole
and mud huts were falling
apart, with hardly any signs of tending the land as the rainy season
approached. A few goats and cattle roamed between small patches of fields
cultivated in the last three years.
Machinda Furusa, from Chachacha, 17 km south of Shurugwi town, said he
has opted to go back to his original home out of disillusionment.
"I went to Dorset in 2001, during the height of farm invasions. At
first I was sceptical about Kujambanja, but when I saw a significant number
of my neighbours leaving, I decided to join the trek," Furusa told IRIN.
During the early days of the fast-track programme there
had been a
sense of euphoria "about farm invasions, and I genuinely believed that, at
last, I would be a proud owner of my own piece of land.
"(But) I discovered that the area we had been made to
move into did
not have good soils, having been reserved for cattle ranching. In addition
to last year’s insufficient rains, there is no way in which the new farmers
there could get good harvests owing to the poor soils, which are just as bad
as where I come from," added Furusa.
had only two head of cattle for draught power, he said,
preparing his plot was proving too difficult – a situation that left him
with no option but to return to his father’s home, where he could pool
resources with his extended family.
The father of three charged that by moving thousands of
unsuitable land, veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war and the government
were only interested in getting their votes in the parliamentary and
presidential elections (in 2000 and 2002, respectively).
Like the other settlers turning their backs on Dorset, Furusa
complained that schools were very remote and it would be difficult for his
two school-going children to travel the distance.
The Dorset resettlement area
also lacks proper health facilities, and
transport is mostly by ox-drawn cart.
Furusa said a significant number of the land occupiers
who had moved
to Dorset and nearby farms were resorting to gold panning in the Mutevekwi
River, which runs close to the small town of Shurugwi, to survive.
A Midlands provincial lands committee member, speaking
on condition of
anonymity, admitted that soils in the Dorset area were poor.
"In fact, the problem of poor soils is not peculiar to
farms in the
Dorset area alone. Since the beginning of the fast-track land redistribution
exercise, acquiring sufficiently fertile land in our province has been a
headache for us," he told IRIN.
committee member said he hoped the government would use some
of the land currently being listed for seizure from commercial farmers to
resettle the disgruntled new settlers.
However, the black farmers should not
solely blame the government for
their current situation. "No one was forced to go to Dorset, or any other
poor area in the province. It is thus unfair to say the ruling party wanted
to attract votes by giving a semblance of land redistribution.
"After all, that was the kind of land available, and we did our best
in identifying the areas (where we could place) land-hungry people," he
explained. Observers and traditional leaders said the return of settlers
would result in added pressure to the exhausted communal lands. Headman
Samero Mashuku, also from Chachacha, said there was hardly any evidence that
the land resettlement programme had eased congestion in his area. "The
situation here, and in neighbouring villages, remains largely the same. We
were relieved to some extent when some of our sons decided to go to the
resettlement areas, but now that they are returning we will have another
headache of finding space to stay," he said. A Human Rights Watch report
last year decried "the lack of structured support for new settlers", while
the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) told IRIN recently that the lack of
subsidised agricultural inputs, and the sky0rocketing prices of inputs on
the market, were serious obstacles to the success of new farmers. Tafireyi
Chamboko, the chief economist of the ZFU, told IRIN that "there’s a shortage
of some of the inputs. In terms of maize seed, we’ll probably get about 50
percent of the requirement from local (seed) production". Although the
government had been trying to supply inputs to new farmers through an inputs
credit scheme, "there are not enough inputs to meet the requirements", he
complained. Recently there have also been reports of the forced eviction of
thousands of resettled people to make way for government officials and
ruling party stalwarts. At Windcrest Farm near Masvingo city, about 1 000
resettled farmers’ homes were torched when they were removed to make way for
an official in the foreign affairs ministry, the privately owned the Daily
News reported. Masvingo provincial administrator Alphonse Chikurira defended
the eviction, saying it was "illegal to occupy or invade a farm owned by a
black man". The settlers, who had occupied the farm in 2000, were angered by
the torching of their houses, belongings and crops. They also expressed
dismay that no arrangements were made for them to move their livestock. The
Windcrest incident is the latest in a wave of similar evictions. In
mid-August, the government reportedly ordered 1 000 settlers to vacate
Little England Farm in Mugabe’s rural home area, to make way for Winnie
Mugabe, the widow of the President’s late nephew. The settlers are currently
involved in running battles with the widow – news reports on Thursday said
the disgruntled settlers had assaulted her, and her two sons, Jongwe and
Hugh. There have also been reports of forced evictions of new settlers in
Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Mashonaland East provinces. Minister of
State for the Land Reform programme in the President’s Office Flora Buka
last year headed a land audit team, whose investigations revealed gross
violations of the "one-man, one-farm" principle, with prominent politicians
allegedly having grabbed several farms for themselves. The results of her
report were never made public by the government, but the document was leaked
to the local and international media. Mugabe recently called on his
lieutenants to surrender the excess farms they had grabbed. However, only
one provincial governor was reported to have surrendered any property. A
land review committee, formed at the behest of Mugabe to carry out a
follow-up land audit, is understood to have finished its work. However, this
committee, led by Charles Utete, the former secretary to the President and
Cabinet, has yet to release its findings. – Irin
THE reported police probe of the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe
(NOCZIM) is a clear case of too little too late.
Reports in the local Press yesterday indicated
that President Robert
Mugabe has ordered an investigation into Zimbabwe’s state fuel procurer
after persistent complaints that "the small supplies of (fuel) trickling
into the country were not being adequately accounted for".
The police are reported to be investigating senior
officials of the
parastatal for leaking fuel to the illegal but thriving parallel market, and
selling petrol and diesel above prices set by the government.
Zimbabweans would be forgiven for cynically
dismissing such a probe
with the contempt it clearly deserves.
The nation has been treated to probe after probe at
NOCZIM, yet no one
has been held accountable for the rampant mismanagement and corruption that
has dogged the company.
Indeed, none of
these probes has resulted in any change for the better
at NOCZIM, described once by one former Energy Minister as one of the most
corrupt parastatals in Zimbabwe.
There is a good chance that this latest probe, even
if sanctioned by
the President himself, will have a predictable outcome and one which will
not bode well for Zimbabwean taxpayers, who are forced to subsidise the
debt-ridden state firm.
sector has a history of fine-sounding
investigations, during which all sorts of dire consequences will be
threatened for those found guilty of whatever acts of corruption are going
round at the time.
the results of the probe will not be made public, even
though the people of Zimbabwe have the most right to know who is abusing
their funds and how.
Ultimately, nothing will change at the company being
which will continue to be a drain on long-suffering taxpayers.
In another favourite scenario, at the end of the
minister responsible will sack a few board members – even the entire board
in some cases. But life will go on, with the very same mismanagement and
corruption supposedly under probe carrying on as usual.
It is more than likely that this very same nonsense will
come to pass
even with this latest reported probe.
must be clear to most people that the problems at NOCZIM have
gone beyond needing a mere investigation. Axing a few board members or even
management officers is unlikely to end the endemic rot that has been allowed
to settle and fester at the parastatal.
There are indications that just
too many people are involved in the
NOCZIM gravy train.
There is even speculation that some of them are government or ruling
ZANU PF officials, or people close to the government and the ruling party.
Clearly, if this is true, replacing one board or
management team with
another will not solve anything. The rot that seems to have entrenched
itself at NOCZIM will continue to flourish until Zimbabwe rids itself of the
burden that the company has become.
government’s very belated efforts to liberalise the fuel
procurement sector are commendable. But this liberalisation should not be a
The government, which has shown very little competence
in most of its
tasks, should leave fuel procurement to the private fuel companies and allow
private firms to compete to provide the most efficient service.
As can be seen from the fact that most motorists and
been buying expensive fuel on the black market for the past few months, all
Zimbabweans want is fuel, not rhetoric.
Populist nonsense about how the government must continue to ensure
that commodities are affordable to the nation fools no one.
It benefits no one if Zimbabwe’s fuel continues to be dirt cheap but
there is not diesel or petrol on the market. The government must not wait
too long to do what is right.
High power tariffs hinder mining operations
BULAWAYO – Output at mining operations in Matabeleland could have
declined by at least 10 percent in the past nine months, according to
estimates from mining industry officials, who said mines had been hard hit
by huge increases in Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) tariffs.
The tariffs have shot up by more than 500 percent in
the last nine
months, adversely affecting mining operations.
Mining industry officials this week told the Business Daily that
frequent reviews of power tariffs had slashed mineral production in the
region because of increasing operational overheads.
Casmyn Mine managing
director and Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines senior
vice-president Ian Saunders said the cost of power for mines had risen from
around $7 million in January to approximately $91 million last month.
This has affected the companies’ cash flow positions.
Saunders said Casmyn had cut
back on research and exploration
activities, which in turn would impact on the success of future mining
Casmyn Mine is
one of the Matabeleland region’s largest mining
concerns and is mostly involved in gold exploration along the Inyati-Insiza
The mining company’s managing director said: "Since
year, power has been charged on a tier system that appears market-based.
"It would appear that if you pay for your power
in the local currency,
ZESA penalises you with a higher bill in order to encourage miners and
exporters to pay their bills in foreign currency.
"This type of system has resulted in mines incurring
very high power
bills because there is no one who can have adequate amounts of foreign
currency at any given time."
The hard cash paid
to ZESA by exporters is supposed to enable it to
import electricity and pay arrears on its debts.
The power utility has been struggling to
pay off multi-billion dollar
arrears owed to regional suppliers Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique and
Eskom of South Africa.
sector earlier this year resisted moves to make them pay
their power tariffs in foreign currency, resulting in ZESA switching off
power to several mines in Matabeleland, affecting mineral production in the
Mining companies are also battling to recover some of the foreign
currency they are required to lodge with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which
has affected their operations.
Saunders said: "We are not saying
the power bills have rendered our
operations unviable, but they do have the effect of raising the costs of
production by about 10 percent.
"Most of the other mines are in the same situation,
and there are
fewer new projects being done or embarked upon because the cashflow
situation has been negatively affected by the tariff increases."
ZESA western area manager Simbiso Chimbima was not
available for comment because he was said to be away on business.
There was no response to questions sent to the ZESA offices.
Church should change strategy on talks
ON my way from Gutu during the Heroes’ holiday, I met a group of
Christians who were debating with the passengers in a bus. The subject of
the debate was the use of violence and mass actions to remove Robert Mugabe.
as one Christian in Zimbabwe, I have decided to write this to air
my views on the use of violence.
Christians are always worried about the
violence done with machine
guns and machetes, but there is another kind of violence that you must be
aware of too.
To watch your
children, friends and relatives die of hunger and
sickness while you can do nothing is violence of the spirit.
Zimbabwe is a country rich
in natural resources and a vibrant
hard-working labour force, but the vast majority of our people are trapped
in abject poverty and squalor.
Millions of people are suffering, not only from
poverty, but also from
ZANU PF oppression. People in power are prepared to keep their power at all
All around Zimbabwe, there is
a situation of injustice that must be
recognised as instrumentalised violence, because the existing government
structures grossly violate people’s basic rights, a situation which calls
for far-reaching, daring and urgent action.
In our national zeal to get rid of this system of
Christians must now unleash a whirlwind which must develop its own horrific
momentum to supplement other existing forces to push Mugabe out.
We must now team up with intellectuals, trade unionists,
students, journalists and all other workers who are being rounded up and
tortured by militia in youth camps, such as that of Chipangano in Mbare.
All church leaders should, therefore, recognise the
attempt to resort
to violence and mass action to change the system. They should also recognise
that in some cases, such action is justifiable even in the Bible.
Revolution now is necessary to free the hungry, give
drink to the
thirsty, clothe the naked and procure a life of well-being for the needy
I believe that the revolutionary
struggle is appropriate for the
It is only by
revolution, by changing the concrete conditions of the
country, that we can demonstrate love for each other. In the past, the
church in Zimbabwe had devoted its attention to formulating truths and
meanwhile did almost nothing to better the world.
This must now cease. We now need to
practically implement the speech
of Jesus in Luke 6:24-25: "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall
The Christian who is
not a revolutionary at this juncture is living in
When you give food to the poor as Christian Care does,
you a saint, but not when you ask why the poor have no food like Pius Ncube.
This should not draw us back. We must all be
inspired by the likes of
Martin Luther King Jnr, who took a firm stand against injustice in the
United States of America.
Christians in Zimbabwe are united, we can repeat the heroic example
of Nicaragua, where the church inspired and supported the people of that
small Central American country to overthrow the corrupt and unjust
government of Anastasio Somoza.
Like the Nicaraguan Christians, we have also
seen the most humiliated,
the most miserable and the most oppressed in our country.
We have tried to respond in a Christian way,
social and human development, but we must now realise that this will not
materialise into anything.
We are now discouraged to see that all the work meant nothing. Our own
people are still miserably poor with no promising signs of hope. Christians
must now join the violent radical movement knowing that nothing peaceful is
possible. Any other way will be dishonest to our fellow countrymen and to
ourselves. The repression here is incredible, but we will move on. It is a
time when a true man of God can’t turn his back on a political struggle in
Zimbabwe. Mugabe should be told to put up his sword for all those who take
the sword will die by the sword. Let us tell him that we are now moving from
the force of logic to the logic of force. We are now faced with the fact
that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
Over the bleached bones of numerous civilisations are written the pathetic
words "too late". We still have a choice today: non-violent co-existence or
violent co-annihilation. This may well be our last chance between chaos and
community, as Martin Luther King Jnr once said. To conclude, let me
encourage you all Christians to follow the principles of Nicolo Machiavelli:
the end justifies the means. Mugabe should go by all means necessary! With
Sometimes tough love is the only love there is
I must disagree with Denford Magora about the
pressure/isolation/sanctions that are being applied on Zimbabwe.
He states: "These sanctions have nothing to do with
Mugabe or ZANU
PF." Are you serious?
As a taxpayer in the
United States of America, I have contacted my
government and raised my voice to say that I object to any aid money being
sent to Zimbabwe while the ZANU PF government is using it as a carrot for
supporters and a stick to beat the opposition.
The same is true for debt relief. Who is
responsible for Zimbabwe’s
external debt if not ZANU PF and President Robert Mugabe?
When ZANU PF came to power 22 years ago, Zimbabwe was
as being "under-indebted".
At that time, the
international community was happy to extend to
Zimbabwe greater debt privileges, an offer which Mugabe was eager to take
them up on.
He spent much of it unwisely, especially among his cronies.
cannot even blame the Rhodesian Front and Ian Smith or the colonising powers
for his debt situation.
I am truly sorry
that without aid and debt relief everyone in Zimbabwe
suffers. I do not know what other option the international community has to
effect change in Zimbabwe.
Throwing good money after bad does not seem like an
action by one country, as in Iraq, does not strike me as a good idea either.
I do agree that the world community needs a
way to deal with failed
states that deals directly with the source of the problem, rather than
making the innocent suffer more.
example, I live in a house in a community where you can pretty
much do what you want within reason on your own property. But if one
property owner starts acting irrationally, discharging firearms, setting
huge bonfires, beating his children and maltreating his pets, we have the
right, the obligation and the legal authority to deal with him so that he is
no longer a threat to those around him. We do not expect his battered
children to rise up and throw him out.
We certainly do not try to starve his children to increase
motivation to do so, and in that I am in agreement with Magora.
However, if we give food to his children, and money to
parent, the children will grow up thinking that irrational and abusive
behaviour is a good thing to do.
love is the only love there is.In this case, you are
truly damned if you do, and doubly damned if you don’t.
From Radio Netherlands, 5 September
On the rampage
leaders in southern Africa have accused the Zimbabwean government
sacrificing an entire generation of young people to maintain its grip on
power. In a chilling report, the Solidarity Peace Trust documents how
children as young as 10 are being drafted for military training. A Radio
Netherlands' reporter has just returned from Zimbabwe. He travelled there
undercover - due to the severe restrictions the authorities place on foreign
journalists - and spoke to former youth militia members and their victims.
Two years ago, Zimbabwe's Zanu PF government established the
National Youth Service Training. The programme was designed to provide job
skills to young people and instil in them a sense of national pride and
history. Instead, the young people are being brainwashed to intimidate the
opposition MDC or Movement for Democratic Change, says John, a 25-year-old
youth militia defector. "We were taught that the MDC is bad. I think we were
being prepared for war against the MDC. We were told not to think. Our
leaders would think for us. We were Zanu PF's armed-wing. We were free to do
whatever we wanted and nobody questioned us." Before being deployed, the
youth militia, both male and female, spend six months in training camps with
up to 25-hundred recruits. Sexual abuse and rape are rife in the camps.
Girls and young women speak of being raped repeatedly, often daily, for
months on end.
Archbishop Pius Ncube of the Solidarity
Peace Trust is incensed that the
government is knowingly allowing this to continue, particularly since
Zimbabwe has one of the world's highest HIV rates. "These ministers are
absolute hypocrites, Mugabe included, because none of their daughters are
put in these camps. It's deliberately being done. It just shows how evil
Mugabe's regime is, how they are destroying the lives of these young people,
for their own interests, just to remain in power." Often drugged or
intoxicated, the youth militia operate in groups attacking anyone they
suspect of being an MDC supporter. Since they were first deployed in January
2002, the youth militia have been responsible for a significant portion of
the human rights abuses being committed in Zimbabwe, including murder,
torture, rape and the destruction of property. The victims speak of random
persecution. Ignatious Chaitezvi, for instance, was attacked by five youth
militia. "They started assaulting me, accusing me of selling them out to the
MDC. They beat me. And then they hit me with an axe. They were aiming for
the back of my skull, but I turned, so they hit my eye. I lost my eye, but I
think it's God who did that for me. It's better to lose an eye than your
The government of President Robert Mugabe has decreed
that all Zimbabweans
between 10 and 30 years of age must take part in the National Youth Service
Training. Young people who do not will be barred from tertiary institutions,
such as universities, colleges, nurse training and teacher training schools.
It has been reported that in future youth militia members will be posted in
classrooms in all institutions of higher education, presumably to ensure
that professors and students toe the ruling Zanu PF party line. The youth
service includes military training. Two months ago, the Ministry of Defence
announced plans to use the children and young people as a reserve force to
defend the nation. Since many of the recruits are under 18 years of age,
this in effect amounts to State training of child soldiers. So far, 50,000
children and young people have gone through the National Youth Service
Training. Archbishop Pius of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city, is
extremely concerned about the impact on his nation's youth. "The government
is politicising young people," he says, "brainwashing them into Mugabe's
party ideology so that these young people become like robots. Even if the
Zanu PF government were to be replaced today, say human rights groups, the
youth militia will leave a lasting scar on Zimbabwean society. "The social
fabric is going to be in ruins at the end of this," says an anonymous human
rights worker. "Unfortunately the youth militia have often tortured in the
very communities in which they were raised. How do we re-integrate them?"
Zim youth 'used' by Zanu-PF
05/09/2003 15:42 - (SA)
Johannesburg - The youth of Zimbabwe were being sacrificed to
country's ruling party, Zanu-PF, in power, according to a report by the
Solidarity Peace Trust released on Friday.
The trust is an organisation of South African and Zimbabwean bishops and
compiled the report based on state-controlled and independent media reports,
training material from youth militia camps, interviews with those tortured
by the militia and the youth militia themselves.
The national youth service training programme, introduced two years ago and
now referred to by the Zimbabwean government as compulsory, "masquerades as
a youth training scheme that imparts useful skills and patriotic values",
said the report.
"The reality is a paramilitary training programme for Zimbabwe's youth with
the clear aim of inculcating blatantly anti-democratic, racist and
According to the report, "The youth militia have... become one of the most
commonly reported violators of human rights, with accusations against them
including murder, torture, rape and destruction of property."
"They have been blatantly used by Zanu-PF as a campaign tool, being given
impunity and implicit powers to mount roadblocks, disrupt MDC (Movement for
Democratic Change) rallies, and intimidate voters."
Anglican Archbishop of Matabeleland and member of the Solidarity Peace
Trust, Pius Ncube, told reporters on Friday: "Up to 50 000 people have gone
through such training".
The report maintained: "Having been thoroughly brain-washed, the youth
militias are deployed to carry out whatever instructions they receive from
their political commissars, on the understanding that they will never be
called to account by this regime for any of their deeds.
"...many of them have become victims of human rights' abuses themselves in
the course of training. The most conspicuous example of this abuse is the
rape and multiple rape of young girls by the boys undergoing training with
them, and by their military instructors.
"The resulting pregnancies and infections with sexually-transmitted
diseases, including HIV, not only devastate the lives of the youth concerned
but are creating a terrible legacy for the nation," the report stated.
Three former youth militia members spoke to reporters on Friday, on
condition of anonymity as they were allegedly sought by Zimbabwe's Central
Intelligence Organisation for escaping from the country.
Thabo, 22, said he was involved in the killing of Halaza Sibindi, the
chairman of the MDC in Tsholotsho, 150km north of Matabeleland.
Beaten to death
In January 2002 they beat Sibindi to death with crowbars, iron bars and
sjamboks, in front of his sons and daughters.
He said he had come to South Africa because the things he was promised when
he joined the militia - land, money, a better future - never happened.
But the situation in South Africa is not easy for refugees. Thabo has no
relatives, no money and no job and lives on the streets. He is also severely
traumatised by what he has been through, but is unlikely to receive
"If my country is going to be ok, I'm going back," he said.
Eighteen-year-old Wesley was taken from school to join the militia when he
was 15-years-old. He escaped to South Africa some months ago.
He told reporters he had raped and petrol-bombed white farmers.
Wesley described being involved in an incident when 100 youth militia
surrounded "Jaco's Farm" in Beit Bridge. Twenty-five of the youth entered
the premises. They tortured the farmer, raped his wife and two daughters,
aged four and 12, then burnt them all to death.
"We were told the farmer was from the MDC. I feel very terrible for the
things that I was doing," he said.
Debbie, 19, said she was forced to join the militia, otherwise her aunt's
house where she was staying would be burnt down.
She was taken to a training centre, about 40km from Bulawayo, where she was
woken at 03:00, and made to run 20km. If they fainted or stopped, they were
thoroughly beaten, she said.
They trainees would then do physical exercises and sing revolutionary songs.
SA turns a blind eye
"We shared a room with the boys and at night they would rape us the whole
night," she said.
If anyone reported the rape, their leader ... would bring out his gun and
tell them he was going to shoot them, because anyone complaining of rape
belonged to the MDC, she said.
Debbie fell pregnant, and has a one-year-old baby. She was HIV-positive. She
did not know who the father of her baby was or the HIV-status of her child.
Ncube said "In the end does politics matter? All that matters is food,
shelter, a future for your children and peace at night when you sleep".
Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, also a member of the Solidarity Peace
Movement. told reporters "I find it absolutely shameful that our South
African government leaders will in the name of quiet diplomacy turn a blind
eye to this affront against human dignity.
"If our African leadership is truly concerned about the ideals of Nepad...
Zimbabwe is the test case," he said.