NOW that close to 4 000 more loafers have
obtained first degrees from several state universities recently, it remains
to be seen whether land is going to be their salvation.
scandalous shame about our dogmatic government is that it perilously
proceeded to carry out the land reform during a time of economic devastation.
That is an unforgivable miscalculation.
A manoeuvre as taxing as
land reform can best be performed during an era of economic stability, short
of which it becomes an invitation for the full wrath of despondency such as
the situation in Zimbabwe.
Graduates from about 80 percent of the
state university faculties will not work on the land not only because their
careers are incompatible with agriculture but that these are trying times of
living for today, practically from hand to mouth.
What is worse,
there is no alternative for these jobless graduates who eventually might be
brought down to earth in the literal sense.
Several thousands of
these graduates are currently looking for employment with optimism but are
soon to be disillusioned when they realise that there is no hope for a proper
job in this tattered economy, which would test "positive" for economic malady
in a laboratory test-tube experiment.
When this dawns on them, they
will start to pay attention to ZANU PF's suspicious land offers. The dilemma
will then arise whether to use brains or burden to get bread.
this stage, the demoralised graduates will start to disintegrate. And at this
juncture hope disintegrates, patience fragments, ambitions crumble and a
whole future seems to fall apart.
The new graduate must realise,
therefore, that President Robert Mugabe is primarily redistributing land to
suppress inevitable insurrection. That he means to preoccupy the new peasant
with what the land has to offer even during a severe drought than what the
opposition will materialise.
The land issue is being used to divert
the grumbling masses from the real catastrophe, which is economic demise. And
for saying that the economy is in rags, one minister was unceremoniously
This vivid diversion must therefore be intelligible to
the new graduate that it is also intended to thwart mobilisation. Clusters
of citizens from dissimilar classes are haphazardly bunched on tracts
of grabbed land in a move aimed at foiling the emergence of any
meaningful dissenting assemblies.
All this is a
well-orchestrated system meant to prolong ZANU PF's greedy plundering and
The new graduate might choose to migrate and betray
the struggle for economic emancipation, but that would be a painfully passive
response to the present despotic regime. Those intending to run away from
Mugabe's burning house must do away with the fallacy that their skills are on
On the contrary, Zimbabweans are becoming
slaves in the overseas labour force since there is hardly any opportunity for
them in the skilled industry.
They must discard another
erroneous belief that they will buy houses here and only return when economic
stability enters our borders again. Without the necessary local discontent
needed, Zimbabweans in the diaspora will invest in houses that they will
never live in, because there will be not a shack remaining by the time they
wish to come back home.
One Tonderai Chanakira was seriously defied
by this logic which I was trying to convey in the article "Docility is our
greatest weakness" when I stated in no uncertain terms that migrants from
this country are "cowards of the most traitorous manner".
truth be told, those running away from this country are expecting that things
are just going to happen on their own; that things are just going to get
better while they feed fat in alien lands.
Well, things are not
just going to happen as wishfully as they think. As a matter of fact, any
Zimbabwean worth his salt must make things happen. Or will one give the
excuse that there is no salt in this land? If so, then by any means necessary
we must mobilise to get rid of Mugabe in order to restock our pantries with
the most basic commodity.
The call then remains for those who
intend to head for the diaspora to escape an impending identity crisis by
redressing the grave leadership crisis, which has ravaged our homeland and
which threatens to leave this country as an abyss of skeletons and
Revolution by Zimbabweans for Zimbabwe, whether one likes
it or not, remains the only practical remedy to redeem the soul of this
troubled country especially after all democratic processes have
It is crystal clear that anticipating a re-run of the
presidential elections is a dangerous daydream. Therefore understanding that,
as a point of departure, will prepare a solid foundation for
Revolution has not happened in the
United Kingdom or the United States because their citizens have something but
it must happen in Zimbabwe because its citizens have nothing.
The country needs as many dissenting voices within its borders as can be
imagined in order for Mugabe to prepare for his exit and for
opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai to know
that the people need a serious government to take over.
Psychologists who study revolutions say that a revolution cannot happen if
there is too much suffering. There can be no revolution if there is too much
misery because people become addicted to their suffering.
cannot revolt. It therefore follows that we cannot wait any longer. We simply
cannot wait for the ruin to get any worse than it already is.
Those in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, where Mugabe is more feared than God, cannot
rebel because they have taken their misery to be god-ordained. In reality,
they have sort of hardened towards hardship.
The rural folk never
entertain any hope of deliverance. For them, life is determined and it is
dissidence to oppose Mugabe.
Mugabe has managed to make the land
issue a tradition in Zimbabwean politics. He has made it a tradition that is
not supposed to be criticised; a tradition he is compelling everyone who
cares to listen to adhere to.
Unfortunately a mob among us follows
the path of his tradition very strictly. Whatever his tradition insists on is
holy and it becomes profane to question it - no matter how much suffering the
stoic multitude may have to go through because of doing so. It never even
occurs to that rabble that its concepts could be causing its
The horde cannot simply spell "why". What
But those cadres who want to bring about a revolution
during their lifetime will naturally have to rise above the concepts of the
Revolution means something new happens,
something that was not going to happen on its own accord, something that can
happen only through human intention, human consciousness. Something that
cannot happen without the help of human conscience, that is
Revolution is craving for Zimbabweans to exploit
If we honestly will not tolerate Mugabe, then we must take heed
of Otto Van Bismarck, the illustrious 19th century German chancellor
who observed that if to strike the iron when it gets hot is too long a period
to wait for, then it is best to make the iron hot by
MY heart has been warmed by our much maligned minister of
agriculture' s firm refusal to allow Zimbabweans to be used as guinea pigs by
these meddling Americans.
Comrade Made has put his foot down and
unequivocally told the world that Zimbabwe will NOT accept the genetically
modified food being peddled by the United States to the drought-stricken
countries of southern Africa.
He has proved himself to be one of
our amadoda sibili by refusing to yield to intense pressure and emotional
blackmail over this thorny issue. He has fully justified my decision to
retain him in Cabinet even though I'm sure many out there thought he should
have been the first to go.
I'm very happy that Cde Made and I seem
to be of the same mind on this issue. I firmly believe that these attempts to
pressure Zimbabwe into accepting this dubious grain are part of a diabolical
plot against our government and I'm sure he has reached the same
I detect the shadowy machinations of the British and
the Americans in this whole plot. After all, the Americans have already shown
what they are capable of by trying to implicate our African brothers in a
plot to oust our democratically elected government.
As for the
British, their schemes against myself are well known and are too numerous to
I would not be surprised if those British puppets trying
to upstage us by importing maize are not also involved. After all, the
British and the Americans have even managed to hoodwink the United Nations
and a bunch of misguided African scientists who are demonstrating their
ignorance at the Earth Summit.
I'm sure you would agree with me
that the idea behind this whole GMO debacle is to make us look like a
cold-hearted regime which has no intention of alleviating the food crisis
that threatens many of our people.
On the other hand, even the
United States' own environmentalists say if we accept this GMO aid, we could
expose our people to unknown health risks, while contaminating our
environment and endangering our agricultural exports.
Rumours that we are refusing to go along with the
Americans because we are miffed at the "smart sanctions" they have imposed on
us are plainly ludicrous.
We are merely safeguarding the
interests of our beloved people who, as I have already promised, will not die
of starvation no matter what the so-called independent Press gleefully
After all, there is enough non-GMO food in the world to
spare for Zimbabwe and I am reliably informed that our resettled farmers are
raring to go and are willing and able to feed the nation.
believe this is one of the reasons Cde Made is secure enough to turn his back
on this GMO nonsense, and I am confident you will all back him fully on his
ZIMBABWE'S crisis is snowballing into the
biggest challenge facing South African President Thabo Mbeki, who himself has
had to swallow the bitter truth of the failure of his policy of quiet
diplomacy on his rogue neighbour.
In unprecedented scenes which
underlined Mbeki's predicament on Zimbabwe at the Johannesburg Earth Summit
this week, Namibian and Zimbabwean leaders used the meeting in choreographed
speeches as a platform to rebuff Mbeki's soft approach to resolving Harare's
crisis, which has been caused by none other than the government.
Indeed, behind-the-scenes manoeuvres had been made to prevent the Zimbabwe
question from hijacking the global summit on poverty, the environment and
sustainable development, but this message was rejected by both Sam Nujoma and
The two men turned a sombre and sedate occasion into
a war of words against British Prime Minister Tony Blair, with Nujoma
repeatedly and crudely gesturing with his hand towards Blair in scenes which
stunned most world leaders.
Predictably their verbal tirades
focused on the racism that has coloured the land question in Zimbabwe, an
increasingly popular and only excuse by the besieged Mugabe, but glaringly
omitted to address the real cause of the crisis: the government's stark
No doubt, Mbeki's ambivalence on Harare must have
contributed to the hyperbole in Johannesburg, which shocked many into finally
realising why and how Zimbabwe has crumbled.
But it also must
have been a rude wake-up call for Mbeki to urgently review his blind support
for organised chaos in Zimbabwe, which the government calls land
Mbeki's country, as indeed all others in southern Africa,
have already been soiled by economic and political contagion from Zimbabwe's
lawlessness but stand to suffer even more unless the South African leader
firmly stamps his foot down now to say enough.
We are encouraged
however by Mbeki's public admission two weeks ago that his quiet efforts to
resolve the Zimbabwe crisis had failed and that it was time to take vigorous
action to end the madness.
Indeed the success of the New
Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a brainchild of Mbeki and other
democratic African leaders for the continent's revival, is threatened with
collapse unless Mbeki and his peers assert themselves in the face of a regime
that will do anything to stay in power against the will of its own
Mbeki faces a simple question: why should Africa and the
international community believe in NEPAD if he and his colleagues are unable
to order one of their errant members to adhere to even the new blueprint's
minimum conditions of governance?
For Mbeki, whose country has
huge influence on Zimbabwe's fate, this question becomes more troubling, if
embarrassing, as the crisis deepens.
It also throws light on why
the Southern Africa Development Community has failed to hold Mugabe to
account for the many promises which he made but failed to deliver to other
regional leaders before and after the deeply flawed March presidential
Mbeki and other world leaders, especially France which is
increasingly aligning itself with the oppression of Zimbabweans, must reject
the racist card being waved by Mugabe to justify violence against real or
imagined political foes in Zimbabwe under the guise of land
As we have often stated before, the murder, rape
and torture of a farmer or any other Zimbabwean has nothing to do with
delivering the land to the hungry. It is the highest criminal offence
possible, which needs to be punished most severely.
purpose of the violence is to crush Zimbabwe's emerging democratic voices and
to perpetuate Mugabe's misrule at whatever cost to Zimbabweans and the
If leaders such as Mbeki remain silent about the
lawlessness and do nothing about it, they unfortunately become
co-conspirators to the crime, as indeed other world leaders did during the
Surely this is not the image of a new Africa that
Mbeki wants under his bold NEPAD, let alone the legacy upon which South
Africans and the rest of humankind should judge him in the years to come.
Parliament is today expected to pass a resolution urging tougher action by
the European Union (EU) and the Group of Eight (G-8) countries against
President Robert Mugabe and his top hierarchy, it was learnt
An emergency debate and vote will take place on the
resolution this afternoon in Strasbourg, Belgium.
negotiated a compromise with all the parties in Parliament and they have all
agreed on a strong resolution," said Geoffrey Van Orden, vice chairman of the
European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, who proposed the
He told the Financial Gazette yesterday: "We expect to have
the support of all the parties tomorrow."
The resolution calls
for the EU to immediately take firm and meaningful steps to extend smart
sanctions against Zimbabwe and insist that its travel ban and other EU
measures against the Mugabe regime are rigorously enforced and "without
A total of 72 government and ruling ZANU PF officials
have been slapped with an EU travel ban and a freeze on assets.
But several officials have managed to enter EU member countries to attend
meetings sponsored by organisations that are exempt from enforcing the travel
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri last week attended a
meeting at the headquarters of the International Police Organisation in
France, while Mugabe earlier this year entered Rome for the United Nations'
The resolution on Zimbabwe calls on members of the
15-nation EU to review arrangements for the hosting of international
organisations so that sanctions cannot be breached.
said: "We are concerned that EU sanctions are not being effectively
implemented since people like Police Commissioner Chihuri can enter
"We want the EU to review arrangements with
international organisations so that loopholes can be closed and we don't find
people on the travel ban being able to find a way of getting into EU
The resolution on Zimbabwe points out that a crucial
test of the EU Council's credibility will be to refuse a visa to Zimbabwean
Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge to prevent him from travelling to
Copenhagen to attend the EU-Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
foreign ministers' meeting in early November.
officials that could be affected by the tightening of sanctions are permanent
secretaries in all government ministries.
this week said permanent secretaries, most of whom are appointed because of
their affiliation to ZANU PF, were expected to be added to the sanctions
Since the EU imposed sanctions were slapped in February,
permanent secretaries have been conducting government duties in countries
that have enforced a travel ban against ministers.
resolution on Zimbabwe also calls on EU countries to liaise with other key
members of the international community to explore additional international
measures against the Zimbabwe government.
The G-8 countries - the
United States, Canada, Britain, Japan, France, Italy, Germany and Russia -
are also urged to join EU states in imposing financial and other targeted
Canada and the United States, together with Australia,
New Zealand and Switzerland, have already introduced a travel ban, financial
sanctions and an arms embargo against Zimbabwe.
recommendations contained in the resolution on Zimbabwe are greater
transparency and detailed information on the application of EU sanctions and
calls to provide information on the freezing of the bank accounts of those on
the black list.
President Thabo Mbeki and SADC chairman Bakili
Muluzi are also urged to emulate the international community's tough stance
Mbeki and most SADC leaders have failed to condemn
the Zimbabwean government's disastrous policies, despite the potential
backlash on their own economies.
Van Orden said: "We want tough
action on the part of regional leaders and we especially want President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa to show real leadership in this issue and bring about
change in Zimbabwe.
"We are also condemning Mugabe's speech in
Johannesburg, where he sought to mislead world leaders on the true nature of
activity in his country."
Mugabe on Tuesday took advantage of
the World Summit on Sustainable Development to defend a land reform programme
that has slashed food production by at least 60 percent and to attack British
Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The resolution on Zimbabwe expresses
commitment to providing further humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe to avert
starvation and condemns reports that ZANU PF is withholding food aid from
opposition party supporters.
About six million Zimbabweans, half
the population, face starvation because of food shortages resulting from
drought and the government's land reforms.
The EU is among
donors who have responded to an international appeal for food aid.
By Abel Mutsakani News Editor 9/5/02 9:04:39 AM (GMT +2)
JAMES Morris, a special envoy of United Nations' secretary-general Kofi
Annan, is to press President Robert Mugabe in talks in Harare today to allow
the private sector to import food into Zimbabwe to save millions of people
threatened with starvation.
International aid agency diplomats said
yesterday Morris, the executive director of the UN's World Food Programme,
had already raised the issue of breaking the food distribution monopoly of
the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) in talks with Mugabe on the
sidelines of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg.
"Morris had talks
with President Mugabe on Tuesday this week and the meeting today will be a
continuation of the Johannesburg meeting and the issue of private sector
involvement will be brought up in the talks," a senior aid agency diplomat
The government earlier this year promised UN under-secretary
general for humanitarian assistance Kenzo Oshima it would consider allowing
private sector players to import maize and other foodstuffs but has not
delivered on that promise.
The United Nations' Development
Programme (UNDP) had proposed to set up a hard cash basket fund of more than
US$80 million from which private companies wishing to import food could tap
Victor Angelo, the UNDP's resident coordinator in Harare who
doubles up as the UN's coordinator in Zimbabwe, yesterday said the world body
was still negotiating with the government to agree to the setting up of
"We are still in talks with the government over the
matter," he said.
He did not say why it had taken so long for the
two parties to reach accord when at least six million Zimbabweans, or half
the population, face starvation.
Social Welfare Minister July
Moyo, under whose portfolio aid relief falls, could not be reached for
Sources close to the negotiations said the government was
reluctant to abolish the GMB's monopoly because it would give away its
political control over food distribution.
"There is no strategic
or logistical reason why the GMB should retain control of food imports other
than that this allows the state to directly control food distribution," one
source told the Financial Gazette.
The government is accused of
withdrawing food from supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) as punishment for their backing of the opposition party. The
state denies the charge.
This week the government impounded 30
tonnes of maize brought into Zimbabwe to feed starving villagers by a
non-governmental organisation linked to the MDC. The government said the
private agency must have an import licence to buy the staple
Poor rains last season and the government's chaotic and often
violent land reforms are blamed for causing a 60 percent drop in food
production in the past farming season.
Morris, who will tour
five other southern African countries facing severe food shortages, will also
meet senior Harare government officials, representatives of donors and
discuss the humanitarian response with UN agencies.
Govt rapped over harassment of human rights
9/5/02 9:02:42 AM (GMT +2)
human rights organisations this week condemned what they termed an
intensified campaign of harassment by the Zimbabwe government of the
judiciary, the independent media and organisations fighting for
Amnesty International and the United Nations'
special investigator on the independence of judges and lawyers, Param
Cumaraswamy, were responding to recent attacks on magistrates, an independent
radio station and the arrest of Amani Trust director Frances
"On 29 August, Dr Frances Lovemore, medical director of
Amani Trust, a leading human rights NGO in Zimbabwe, was arrested in Harare,"
Amnesty International said.
"Dr Lovemore was charged with
'publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state'. The
charge apparently stems from recent press reports, which referred to Amani
Trust's work with victims of torture and politically motivated rape in
"Amnesty International views the arrest of Dr Lovemore as
an attempt to intimidate a human rights defender. The international community
should take every step to support the work of Zimbabwean human rights NGOs
which place themselves at risk in documenting cases of human rights
violations and in treating victims."
The organisation also
condemned the bombing at the end of last week of the offices of Voice of the
People (VOP), a radio station that has managed to operate despite restrictive
media laws by transmitting to Zimbabwe from the Netherlands.
Amnesty said the government had also stepped up the harassment of
the judiciary, citing the assault of Manicaland district magistrate
Walter Chikwanha in mid-August and the stabbing a week later of Godfrey
Gwaka, the magistrate for Zaka district in Masvingo.
were allegedly attacked because of judgments they recently made in
politically charged trials.
Amnesty said: "The arrest of Dr
Lovemore, the bombing of the office of the VOP and the assaults on
magistrates is evidence of a clampdown on critics of the government as the
September (rural council) elections draw nearer.
"The attacks on
the magistrates reflect on-going attempts on the part of government
authorities and state-sponsored militia to undermine the judicial system and
prevent court officials from executing their duties impartially and
Cumaraswamy said the failure to protect the
magistrates was another example of the Zimbabwean government's disregard of
the rule of law.
"The provision of adequate protection to judges
and lawyers when their safety is threatened is a basic prerequisite for
safeguarding the rule of law," he said.
"This is fundamental in
order to guarantee the right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial
tribunal and the protection of human rights." - Staff Reporter
BULAWAYO - The opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) this week accused the ruling ZANU PF of intensifying
a campaign to silence it in all rural areas ahead of rural district council
elections due on September 28 and 29.
MDC officials said its
activists were being chased away from campaigning in rural areas by ZANU PF
militants, a charge quickly denied by Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, ZANU PF's deputy
Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general who
doubles up as the party' s spokesman, said the ruling party had increased the
level of its militia in all rural areas to intimidate the MDC from
campaigning for the polls.
"They (the government and ZANU PF) have
virtually closed all avenues for us. We are not allowed to campaign anywhere
in Zimbabwe," he said.
According to MDC officials, war veterans
last week chased away MDC legislator for Tsholotsho Mloliki Sibanda from the
area, situated in Matabeleland North, where Information Minister Jonathan
Moyo is quickly building up a political base.
The war veterans
prevented Sibanda from attending a ceremony to donate a borehole to the
community there by a non-governmental organisation.
"The war veterans and the militia threw me out of the gathering and said I
should never again attend functions in my constituency, let alone campaign
for my party in the forthcoming council elections."
He said he was
saved from physical harm by quickly driving away from his constituency to
Beltway, about 120 kms away.
"Had I not driven away, they were
going to harm me. They chased me for some distance in a truck full of war
veterans and militia clad in their party regalia."
"They are not giving me any authority to hold meetings. Sitting members of
Parliament are also not allowed to call meetings.
"The long and
short of it is that they are refusing us permission to campaign in the rural
areas for the district elections. It is even worse in Mashonaland. The levels
of the militia have been raised."
But Ndlovu dismissed the MDC
charges, saying the main opposition was already chickening out of the
"They are already smelling the rat and running scared. They
are coming up with all sorts of allegations. Everyone knows that we have a
strong base in the rural areas and there is no way they can beat us," he
Abednigo Bhebhe, the MDC legislator for Nkayi, which is also
in Matabeleland North, said 10 MDC supporters chosen to stand in the
district council elections on the party's ticket had withdrawn their
candidatures at the weekend following threats by the war veterans and the
"We are having problems in my constituency as well as in
other rural areas because of the presence of the militia and the marauding
war veterans. I have 10 cases where people have withdrawn their participation
in the polls because of threats of violence if they stood on our
"Just today a man came to me and said he cannot stand
because his life is in danger. There is nothing we can do but to hope that
people will not be afraid and come and vote in the polls."
police spokesman said police had not been alerted to the incidents of
political violence in the districts involved.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has raised more than $50 million
to buy maize to alleviate food shortages in Zimbabwe, vowed this week not to
apply for a permit to secure the release of 30 tonnes of grain held by the
Department of Customs in Beitbridge.
MDC shadow minister for
agriculture Renson Gasela said the grain detained at the weekend and further
consignments expected from this week were part of food aid donations, not
commercial goods, and therefore did not require an import
Since the start of Zimbabwe's food crisis last year,
the government-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has been declared the
sole trader in grain and the only agency that can freely import maize and
This has hampered efforts by non-governmental agencies to
alleviate food shortages.
Gasela told the Financial Gazette:
"They (customs) detained the maize on the grounds that we have to apply for a
permit. We are arguing that this is a donation to help the starving masses of
"We are not buying this maize to sell, it's a donation.
We are not in- terfering with or challenging the GMB's monopoly because we
are not going to sell it. For that reason, we are not going to apply for a
permit. We are saying the government must allow the maize in. If they don't
want it, they must send it back."
He said the MDC was expecting
another 30 tonnes of maize from South Africa this week and further
consignments that would arrive in batches of 30 tonnes in the coming weeks,
which it would stockpile at the border post between Zimbabwe and South
The MDC, the chief foe of the ruling ZANU PF, is storing
the grain detained at the weekend in a bonded warehouse to protect it from
rampaging baboons that have also been hard hit by the drought affecting
Gasela said he was not expecting the government
to seize and distribute the grain because it had no legal basis for doing
He said the MDC, which last week registered the Feed Zimbabwe
Trust to procure grain, had already raised over $50 million in local
donations while foreign donors were pledging cash or donating
The donated grain will be distributed through churches to
areas most affected by shortages, the result of drought and the government's
often violent and chaotic land reforms which have cut food production by more
than 60 percent.
According to United Nations agencies, at least
six million Zimbabweans, about half the population, need emergency food
More than half of those affected are women and children, with
600 000 children already said to be in need of supplementary feeding because
"We are going to continue receiving maize and
hope that they (government) see reason," Gasela said.
THE High Court in Harare yesterday
nullified six more Section 8 eviction orders issued by the government to
commercial farmers, with the state accepting that the orders were not
properly served and therefore invalid.
Justice Anele Matika
issued six consent orders declaring the eviction orders to be invalid and of
no force. The state, which has already admitted that proper procedures were
not followed in some of its eviction notices, did not oppose the applications
by the farmers to have the orders set aside.
The High Court last
week nullified similar orders issued by the government to more than 50
commercial farmers mainly because the state did not serve the same orders on
other parties that have interests on those farms.
About 2 900
commercial farmers were served with eviction notices in May which required
them to vacate their land by August 10, but hundreds of them are defying the
orders which have resulted in more than 300 of them being
- Staff Reporter
C'wealth gets tough with defiant Zim
Mutsakani News Editor 9/5/02 8:55:47 AM (GMT +2)
Commonwealth troika on Zimbabwe is expected to meet possibly in two weeks'
time to discuss fresh and tougher action against a defiant President Robert
Mugabe, Commonwealth diplomats said this week.
Minister John Howard chairs the troika, which in March booted Zimbabwe out of
the 54-nation Commonwealth councils over its seizure of private farms and
bloated human rights record.
South Africa and Nigeria's presidents
Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo are the other members.
the impending meeting of the troika came as key Commonwealth players were
this week said to have taken advantage of the presence of African leaders at
the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg to lobby
major African states to support tougher action on Zimbabwe, which they have
British and Canadian premiers Tony Blair and Jean
Chretien and Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon, who attended the
WSSD meeting, were said to have piled pressure on Mbeki, Obasanjo and some
southern African leaders in separate talks on the sidelines of the summit to
support a Commonwealth crackdown on Zimbabwe.
It could not be
immediately established whether Blair, Chretien or McKinnon specifically
requested Mbeki, Obasanjo and other Commonwealth African leaders to support
the expulsion of Zimbabwe from the group and the imposition of sanctions
against it, measures already backed by some Commonwealth
An official at the Commonwealth's secretariat in London
confirmed McKinnon had discussed Zimbabwe during separate meetings with
Obasanjo and Mbeki but would not divulge any details.
secretary-general met with presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki and the issue of
Zimbabwe came up for discussion," the official said by telephone from
Howard did not attend the WSSD meeting in
But diplomatic sources said the Australian leader,
who this week indicated Australia might join the European Union, the US,
Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada in imposing sanctions on Mugabe and his
officials, was working round the clock to ensure the troika acted resolutely
"Howard is trying to link up with Mbeki and Obasanjo
after the WSSD," said one source.
"The leaders will either meet
formally or will teleconference and this is likely to happen between the end
of the WSSD summit and the beginning of the United Nations' General Assembly
meeting which begins on September 17."
Australian high commissioner
in Harare Jonathan Brown refused to discuss in detail Howard's efforts to
bring the troika to act on Zimbabwe.
He would only say: "Prime
Minister Howard is very concerned about events in Zimbabwe and hopes to speak
to presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo shortly."
Mbeki or his
spokesman Bheki Khumalo could not be reached for comment.
ago, Mbeki appeared to be shifting from his softly-softly approach towards
Harare, telling journalists in Johannesburg that he now agreed with Howard on
the need for vigorous action to tackle the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe,
where the economy is falling apart as half the country's population faces
Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms for
redistribution to his supporters and poor rains last year have combined to
cause severe food shortages in the country.
Analysts say tougher
Commonwealth sanctions against Harare, which many members of the group are
increasingly clamouring for, would be the last straw to break Mugabe and his
administration's resistance to international pressure.
Harare's neighbours are members of the Commonwealth and it is their support
which has kept a financially crippled Zimbabwe just afloat.
By Nqobile Nyathi Assistant Editor 9/5/02 8:54:59 AM (GMT
SOUTH Africa's big businesses have for the first time
publicly criticised President Thabo Mbeki's quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe
as internal and external pressure mounts for a tougher stance against
The South Africa Foundation, an organisation representing
big South African firms, this week slammed Mbeki's quiet diplomacy for
failing to prevent "catastrophic policies under the guise of land reform" and
called for "concerted action by the leaders of Africa and by the
The group, based in Johannesburg,
represents more than 50 of South Africa's largest corporations and leading
multinationals operating there.
The companies, represented in the
organisation's council at chief executive or chairman level, include banking
giant Absa, mining groups Anglo American plc and Anglogold, carmaker BMW
South Africa, diamond miner De Beers, insurer Old Mutual and Standard
Black empowerment firms African Harvest, African Rainbow
Minerals and Mvelaphanda are also members of the group.
foundation's council called for "the unequivocal condemnation" of the
Zimbabwean government by Pretoria, saying "President Robert Mugabe must not
be allowed to undermine the efficacy and credibility of NEPAD (the
New Partnership for Africa's Development)".
Mbeki's failure to
publicly condemn alleged electoral fraud in Zimbabwe, human rights violations
and a haphazard land reform programme that has slashed food production by at
least 60 percent is believed to be a potential threat to international
support for NEPAD.
NEPAD, spearheaded by Algeria, Nigeria and South
Africa and aiming at boosting Africa's economic growth, has as its main
pillars good governance, democracy and the rule of law.
this week said the foundation's statement could be an indication of the
worsening impact on South African business because of the Zimbabwe crisis,
which has already dampened international investor sentiment in the region and
battered the rand.
Andrew Nongogo, spokesman for civil society
coalition Crisis in Zimbabwe, told the Financial Gazette: "It is significant
because business does not normally address itself to issues of governance in
any country, which is one of the problems we have had here in
"But it has become perfectly clear that governance issues
have everything to do with business. You can't conduct business in an
environment that is unstable. You can't predict what's going to happen
tomorrow and business hinges on knowing what is going to happen
Commentators said the foundation's statement was also
significant because it was the first public condemnation of quiet diplomacy
by big business in South Africa and could prompt other companies to break
their silence on the issue.
University of Zimbabwe political
science lecturer Elphas Mukonoweshuro said: "It's significant in the sense
that for the first time, organised business in South Africa has come out
publicly with one voice to express concern.
"Of course, behind
the scenes business has always been urging Mbeki to get more involved in
finding a solution to the ongoing Zimbabwe crisis. The only significance is
that the sentiments are being expressed publicly and at a time when the eyes
of the international community are focused on Johannesburg."
Johannesburg is hosting the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which is
being attended by more than 100 world leaders, environmentalists and pressure
Mugabe on Tuesday defended his land reforms at the summit,
launching a scathing attack on the international community, especially
British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Despite efforts to prevent it
from upstaging sustainable development, Zimbabwe's crisis is one of the
critical issues at the summit where world leaders, political parties and
pressure groups are urging South Africa and the international community to
adopt a tougher stance against Mugabe.
European member of
Parliament Geoffrey Van Orden, who last week wrote to Mbeki urging tougher
measures against Mugabe, said in South Africa's Business Day: "The time has
come to show him (Mugabe) that his actions are reprehensible."
Van Orden is among European MPs campaigning against Mugabe and is expected to
table an emergency motion in the European Union Parliament calling for the
tightening of smart sanctions against Mugabe and his
But the analysts said internal and external
pressure on Mbeki to abandon quiet diplomacy for a more robust stance on
Zimbabwe were unlikely to bear immediate fruit because of the close ties
between his African National Congress (ANC) and Mugabe's ZANU
They said mounting pressure on Mbeki was unlikely to force him
to show a change of attitude in the next meeting of the
Australia-Nigeria-South Africa troika that earlier this year recommended
Zim-babwe's 12-month suspension from the Commonwealth.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has indicated his willingness to take
sterner action against Mugabe but is expected to face opposition from South
Africa and Nigeria.
Mukonoweshuro said: "It remains to be seen what
the troika is going to do when it meets at the review, but in my own opinion
I don't think the ANC in general and Mbeki in particular are likely to heed
pressure at this point."
The analysts said pressure from big
business and other quarters was likely to impact in the long-term and only if
the Zimbabwe crisis became a significant enough threat to Mbeki's own
Nongogo said: "There are a number of reasons why
the president of South Africa will continue to pursue this quiet diplomacy.
They include his own ANC, which fears the same pressure being applied to the
Zimbabwean government could be applied to itself and wants to safeguard its
"But when big business begins to act in his
(Mbeki's) own backyard, there is bound to be some impact. But I think it will
Mukonoweshuro added: "I think he (Mbeki) will only
act when the economy is being more negatively affected by the crisis and when
this has a negative ripple effect on his chances of re-election as president
of South Africa.
"I think we can expect to see the crisis
getting worse and worse until such a time that Mbeki realises he has to act
and assist in its resolution. If the crisis begins to unravel the alliance of
the ANC, the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions,
then Mbeki will act."
Farmers' Union (CFU) associations have told the union's leadership to dump
dialogue with the government, which is in the midst of evicting hundreds of
farmers from their properties without paying compensation.
the associations are opposed mostly by the union's leadership which wants to
re-open talks with President Robert Mugabe's government - this despite
Mugabe's comments two weeks ago that such negotiations would serve no
The tug of war between the two camps has exposed gaping
divisions within the white-dominated CFU just when Mugabe has thrown off the
land 2 900 of the country's estimated 4 500 white commercial
The divisions coincided with efforts of the more militant
Justice for Agriculture (JAG), an organisation formed in July to challenge
the farmers' mass evictions, to vigorously urge farmers to take legal action
against the government.
CFU sources said the union's regional
associations had unanimously agreed that the group should take the government
to court on behalf of all members faced with immediate eviction and those not
under immediate threat.
According to the government's tally of
farms it is seizing, about 90 percent of all commercial farms in Zimbabwe are
being taken under Mugabe's controversial land reforms.
of the CFU's association's meetings held on August 23 show that associations
in Kadoma, Chegutu, Suri Suri, Battlefields, Tengwe and Karoi agreed that the
CFU should press ahead with legal action.
The farmers want the CFU
to challenge aspects of the Land Acquisition Act of 2002 and to oppose
restrictive conditions which prevent evicted farmers from residing on their
A total of 316 farmers have been arrested for defying
eviction orders since the August 10 deadline to vacate their properties
lapsed. A police spokesman said 10 of the 316 had been arrested this
The sources said the rift within the CFU was so serious that
the organisation's leadership at its Harare head office had begun
purging outspoken members, who it deemed to be "politically incorrect" and
against dialogue with the government.
For instance, they said
Ben Freeth - the regional executive officer for the southern part of
Mashonaland West region - had been asked to resign on August 27 because of
his political stance.
In a letter to CFU members in the region,
Freeth said he would only resign if the majority of members in the south of
Mashonaland West unanimously agreed that he should step down.
was called up to a meeting today (August 27) at CFU head office with
president (Colin) Cloete and director (David) Hasluck," Freeth says in his
letter. "The meeting .in essence hinged upon the current CFU
council direction and my beliefs.
"They believe that I am
standing in the way of CFU being accepted politically. I have been asked to
resign on the grounds that I was not prepared to change my principles. I am
quite willing to resign if the majority of the membership in the region feel
that I am a hindrance to them."
Cloete, Hasluck and some CFU
council members are among officials strongly opposed to court action. There
was no comment this week from Cloete and Hasluck.
But a senior
council official who declined to be named told the Financial Gazette: "There
is a strong belief by the members that dialogue has failed because the
government is not committed at all.
"Each time we think we have
something working, you find farmers are accused of derailing the land reform
programme, so how can we work like that?
"How can we continue
pressing for dialogue when President Mugabe himself has said there will be no
more dialogue with us? The government is not interested."
this week said it supported the regional farmers but could not take legal
action on their behalf because it was not yet registered with
"If it were possible for JAG to take these
representative actions, we would not hesitate to do so," the organisation
said in a statement.
"However, we are not yet legalised and duly
constituted and do not have the membership to represent and are not
registered with government."
Masamvu Political Editor 9/5/02 8:53:35 AM (GMT +2)
clique within the ruling ZANU PF is involved in behind-the-scenes manoeuvres
to woo support from opposition MDC parliamentarians to push
for constitutional changes that will allow an acting president to be in
charge of the country for more than the constitutionally allowed 90
As part of the move to sweeten the deal, the ZANU PF clique
is proposing the creation of an independent electoral commission and
the trimming back of the term of office of a president so that it
runs concurrently with that of parliament.
ZANU PF officials
involved in the plan said this week the strategy, being secretly sold within
the party leadership but not yet made official, is part of moves to prepare
for President Robert Mugabe's eventual exit and elevation of his
"There are various ways which are being considered to
work out a smooth succession plan both in the party and in the government,"
one ZANU PF Politburo member told the Financial Gazette.
the party side, things are taking shape but some constitutional changes have
to be made to make the plan operational and effective
Under the current constitution, an election has
to be called to name a president within 90 days were Mugabe to leave office
either by death, resignation or removal.
A vice president, who
would have acted last as the president, would act as head of state during
ZANU PF's legal affairs secretary Patrick China-masa,
who is also the Minister of Justice, could not be reached for comment
yesterday. He was reported to be in South Africa.
said ZANU PF's plan to push for the extension of the time an acting president
would be in power would ensure that there would be no immediate election were
Mugabe to step down before the end of his six-year term, as is
The sources said his successor, who would be in acting
capacity, would have time to to consolidate his support base before an
election is called.
Under the plan, Presidential Special Affairs
Minister John Nkomo and Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa are expected
to be elevated to the posts of vice presidents in the party before assuming
the same posts in the government.
Under ZANU PF's constitution,
vice presidents in the party are named to the same posts within the
Ailing Vice President Simon Muzenda has already
expressed his wish to retire from active politics.
said overtures had been made to targeted MDC legislators to back the
extension period of an acting president but that no concrete results had been
In the current parliament, ZANU PF is short of seven
votes to push for any major constitutional amendment. A two-thirds majority
in parliament is needed to make such amendments.
said the current government crackdown on the MDC was part of political
pressure being brought by ZANU PF on its rival to win the game of numbers in
parliament to get approval for the constitutional amendment plan.