The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index


White farmers vow to stay put

By MacDonald Dzirutwe
4/25/02 10:00:20 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWE’S beleaguered white farmers say they will stay put on the land
until the government pays them compensation for improvements they made on
the land because they need the money to pay off billions of dollars they owe
to banks and other financial institutions.

The farmers, who have in the past 27 months withstood violence and murder by
ruling ZANU PF militants and eviction ultimatums from the state itself, also
say they want to finish harvesting their crops first and use the crop sale
proceeds to pay off the debts.
"Farmers are holding on and are making decisions, but if you have a
liability with the banks you cannot leave the farm because you will lose the
crops and tell me now how will you repay the banks?" Commercial Farmers’
Union (CFU) head Collin Cloete told the Financial Gazette.
He said: "This is the worst period for the farmer because he has to harvest
the crop and sell it to repay his loans. It is the time that they have an
overdraft which needs to be serviced and it can only be done when they sell
the crop."
Cloete did not say how much farmers owed commercial banks but the
agriculture sector accounted for more than 20 percent of all commercial bank
loans last year.
The CFU is the largest representative body for white commercial farmers who
numbered around
4 500 about two years ago before many of them were chased from their land by
gangs of ZANU PF supporters and its self-styled war veterans.
At least seven farmers have been killed by the land invaders since they
began forcibly seizing land from farmers two years ago.
President Robert Mugabe says the often violent land invasions are genuine
demonstrations for land by landless blacks.
Critics say the farm invasions and Mugabe’s own controversial fast-track
land reforms under which he is seizing farms from white owners for
re-distribution to blacks are all a ploy to divert attention from a grinding
economic crisis they allege is a result of Mugabe’s mismanagement of the
Under the government’s Land Acquisition Act (LAA), the state must compensate
farmers for improvements and other investments made on land it acquires for
Mugabe has ruled out paying farmers for the actual land, saying it was
stolen from blacks in the first place.
Figures released by the CFU this week show that the government has since
February 2000 acquired 5 069 farms covering
10 198 174 hectares under its fast-track land reform programme.
Of that total, 8 595 000 hectares of land were seized from CFU members but
to date no farmer has yet been paid for improvements done on the land as is
required by law.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made under whose portfolio the controversial
land scheme falls could not be reached for comment on the matter.
Cloete said out of about 2 000 farmers who had been formally served with
eviction notices under sections 8 and 7 of the LAA, the majority were still
clinging onto their farms awaiting the verdict of the Administrative Court.
Under LAA, a farmer is first issued with a Section 8 Order, which gives the
farmer 90 days to leave his/her property. The farmer is required to be
confined to the house during the three-month period, as the land would now
belong to the state.
The farmer is then issued with a Section 7 Order, which sets out a date when
the farmer can contest the government’s decision to acquire his/her property
at the Administrative Court.
Cloete said another 250 farmers had also been chased off their land by farm
invaders in the past year while more than 20 farmers had been expelled from
their farms since Zimbabwe’s discredited March presidential election.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary for projects
Andrew Ndlovu told this newspaper last week that the ex-fighters had ordered
800 farmers to leave their land as punishment for what he said was their
support for sanctions against Zimbabwe’s rulers.
The United States, Switzerland, New Zealand and the 15-nation European Union
have imposed targeted sanctions against Mugabe, his top officials and their
families because they allegedly rigged last month’s presidential ballot and
also because of their plans to seize private land without paying for it.
Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst food shortages largely because of
drought, the disruption to farming caused by the government’s fast-track
land reforms and the invasion of farms by its supporters.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Lack of funds derails fast-track land plan

By David Masunda Deputy Editor-in-Chief
4/25/02 9:57:24 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWE’S intention to cut off its controversial fast-track land reform
plan at the end of August has been caused more by its failure to attract
vital international finance critical for the success of the programme than
its planned conclusion, experts said this week.

President Robert Mugabe announced on Independence Day last week that the
ambitious programme, meant to resettle more than two million peasant
families on one million hectares of former prime commercial land confiscated
from white farmers in two years, would be concluded by the end of August.
The fast-track land resettlement plan, hastened by the February 2000 illegal
and violent invasions of commercial farms by rag-tag armies of government
supporters and landless peasants, was introduced to address land hunger.
At least two million peasants living on marginal lands, including former
freedom fighters, are to be resettled on prime commercial land before the
exercise is completed.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo intervened last year and proposed a
lifesaver to the internationally condemned reforms by playing midwife to the
Abuja agreement signed between Zimbabwe and its former colonial master
Britain last September.
Under Abuja’s terms, Zimbabwe promised to end any new and haphazard farm
seizures and to bring back law and order in return for crucial British and
United Nations financial and technical aid for the land reforms.
London has however refused to release British aid, accusing Zimbabwe of
reneging on its promise to stop rampaging ruling ZANU PF party supporters
from violently and forcibly occupying new farms and evicting their owners in
open defiance of Abuja.
The bad blood between the two countries’ leaders worsened during the period
leading to Zimbabwe’s hotly contested presidential election that was
controversially won by Mugabe last month.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused the Zimbabwean leader of
deliberately promoting a violent land reform plan and applying excessive
force to cow opposition supporters from freely expressing their displeasure
with his administration at the ballot.
Blair has further infuriated Mugabe by leading an international crusade for
the Zimbabwean presidential election to be re-run as the war of words
between Harare and London relegates the Abuja agreement further to the
The failure of the government’s plan to resettle the landless peasants on
the farms has also been blamed for the massive land grab by senior ZANU PF
and state officials who have taken over most of the top farms meant for the
Independent analyst Brian Raftopoulos says Mugabe could easily deal with the
issue of ZANU PF and government leaders grabbing prime farmland by telling
donors that his land reforms also intended to create black commercial
Raftopoulos, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe’s Institute of
Development Studies, said the Zimbabwean leader had however begun to tone
down the rhetoric concerning the land reforms because he desperately needs
to attract vital foreign support for his programme.
"Mugabe knows that the people he has resettled on the commercial farms are
going to get restless unless he gets proper support for them," he observed.
He said the ZANU PF leader was now keen to try to re-engage international
donors on his land reforms and one way was to ask Obasanjo to resuscitate
the Abuja agreement.
"I think Mugabe and ZANU PF are beginning to think about what they need to
do to re-engage the international community. They may have to go back to
Abuja because the economy is in a such terrible state and Mugabe’s options
are very few," the analyst said.
He said the Zimbabwean government might have been able to resettle about one
million peasant families by now but it was doubtful if it could complete the
exercise successfully within the next four months as ordered by Mugabe.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zim scores high on Press repression

4/25/02 10:00:57 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWE is one of 61 countries in the world without a free Press, according
to the Annual Survey of Press Freedom 2002 released this week by an American
civil liberties watchdog Freedom House.

The survey, conducted in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 terrorist
attacks on the United States which raised fears of increased repression of
the world’s media, found that slight gains were made in media freedom last
Out of 186 countries surveyed in 2001, 75 are considered free with no
significant restrictions on the news media compared to 72 in 2000, while 50
countries are rated partly free in 2001, characterised by some media
restrictions, compared to 53 the previous year.
Sixty-one of the countries surveyed last year are rated not free and are
marked by state control or other obstacles to a free Press compared to 62 in
2000. These include Angola, Algeria, Iran, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia,
Swaziland, Zambia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
"Of 53 African countries, eight (15 percent) are rated free, 17 (32 percent)
partly free, and 28 (53 percent) not free," Freedom House said in a
statement accompanying the survey.
"A reduction in violence against journalists in Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire and
Sierra Leone accounted for positive trends on the continent. However, the
passage of repressive press laws in Rwanda and a clampdown on all
independent journalists and all forms of criticism against President Robert
Mugabe of Zimbabwe counterbalanced gains in Press freedom."
According to the survey, dedicated to the memory of Wall Street Journal
correspondent Daniel Pearl who was murdered in Pakistan earlier this year,
Zimbabwe scored a total 83 out of 100 points in the scale used by Freedom
House to measure Press freedom.
The total was derived from three scores measuring the structure of news
delivery as functioning under the country’s laws, where Zimbabwe scored 24
out of 30, the degree of political influence on media content (34 out of 40)
and economic influence on content, including government funding (23 out of
The survey cited physical attacks on and harassment of Zimbabwean
journalists, accreditation restrictions against foreign reporters, the
expulsion last year of foreign correspondents said to be linked to
"terrorism" and the introduction of draconian laws as stifling a free media
in Zimbabwe.
Legislation hindering the freedom of the Press and of expression includes
the Public Order and Security Act, introduced last year, and the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, signed into law by Mugabe after
his re-election in March.
"The Freedom of Information (Act requires) all journalists to apply for a
one-year renewable licence to be allowed to work," the survey report notes.
"Journalists (are) also required to follow a stringent ‘code of ethics’ and
(can) be fined or imprisoned for not following it." — Staff Reporter

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Financial Gazette, 25 April

Secret voters exposed

Secret mobile voter registration was in progress in almost all rural areas
of Zimbabwe until five days before the presidential election last month,
boosting opposition charges that the poll could have been rigged, it was
established this week. Official documents and communication between the
provincial registry offices and the government-appointed Election
Directorate show that the mobile voter registration programme was being
conducted in rural areas in Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces from January 27, the
official cut-off date, to March 4. Zimbabwe’s hotly contested presidential
election, controversially won by President Robert Mugabe, was held from
March 9 to 11. Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s bitter opponent during the poll
and leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has
rejected the outcome of the poll charging that it was rigged. The
international community has also blasted the way Zimbabwean authorities
conducted the election and accused Mugabe of having stolen the ballot to
secure a disputed new six-year term.

The official voters’ registration exercise, which had been extended several
times from its initial December 9 2001 deadline to the final January 27
deadline, was further and secretly extended for another 35 days, according
to official documents. The Registrar-General’s Office and the government did
not however advertise the new March 4 extension nor enact enabling
legalisation to legalise the exercise. Instead Mugabe belatedly used his
sweeping powers only to decree Statutory Instrument 41 D on March 5 to cover
voters’ registration from January 27 up to March 3 but the exercise
continued for another day. It could not be established this week how many
voters were registered through mobile stations during the extended but
secret deadline. But the supplementary voters’ roll prepared days before the
election had more than 400 000 voters, more or less the number of voters
Mugabe is supposed to have pipped Tsvangirai with to secure his new term.

Most Zimbabweans, especially in the opposition urban and peri-urban
strongholds, did not know that the registration was open and had been
extended to March 4. According to the official documents, the provincial
committees which supervised the mobile registration were split into three,
made of teams involving the provincial administrator, the provincial
intelligence officer and the provincial registrar. The task of the teams,
besides solving logistical issues involved in the exercise, was to pay
"random visits at polling stations to assess take-off, impact of the voter
registration exercise and encourage local leadership to advise people to
register". The documents show the itinerary of the mobile voter registration
and that registration teams were pencilled in to take place at Jimila
Primary School in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North, on March 4, for example.

At Jowa Primary School in Tsholotsho, the voter registration is said to have
taken place on March 3 and 4 while in the Midlands province mobile voter
registration was to take place at Exchange Business Centre in Kwekwe on
March 4 and at Gawa Primary School in Gokwe South on the same date. In
Manicaland province’s Watsomba Business Centre, mobile voter registration
was earmarked from March 1 to 3 while in Mutare West at Murehwa Primary
School it was taking place on March 3. In Nyanga’s Sabvure Clinic,
registration was conducted from March 1 to 3 while similar exercises took
place in Mashonaland provinces. In Mashonaland East, mobile registration was
done at Numwa Secondary School in Hwedza on March 1 and at the same day at
Nyamuzizi in Mutoko South constituency. The documents show the exercise
taking place in various other places such as schools and farms in
Mashonaland West and Central and Masvingo provinces. There was no comment
this week from Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede or the Election Directorate
on the extended registration, its impact on the March poll or on the
exercise’s legality.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Financial Gazette, 25 April

Change policies, EU tells Mugabe

Efforts by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to mobilise food
aid from the European Union (EU) have hit a snag, with representatives of
the 15-nation bloc in Harare again urging President Robert Mugabe to abandon
policies that have estranged donors and derailed the economy before any
significant aid could be given. Diplomatic sources said the European
representatives spelt out their position to the UNDP after yet another
attempt by the body last week to ask donors to respond more favourably to an
appeal for humanitarian assistance for Zimbabwe first made last year. "We
told the UNDP to first convey our concerns to the Zimbabwe authorities. Food
aid can come but there have to be associate measures that must be taken that
would ensure that there will no be a repeat of this same situation we are
dealing with now," one senior European diplomat told the Financial Gazette.

Victor Angelo, UNDP’s resident representative and coordinator of the United
Nations in Zimbabwe, oversees efforts by the World Food Programme (WFP) to
raise more than 500 000 tonnes of food to feed about 2.5 million Zimbabweans
facing starvation. Angelo refused to discuss the EU conditions for aid
yesterday. "What I can only say is that we are still negotiating with the
EU." Angelo leaves Harare today for the UN’s New York headquarters for
consultations on Zimbabwe which, according to sources, will focus on
problems the UNDP and WFP are facing in trying to get food aid for the
troubled southern African country. EU president Spain’s ambassador in Harare
Javier Sandomingo said: "We have been discussing with the UNDP for them to
convey to the government some of our concerns. We obviously have a different
interpretation to the government on what caused the present situation."

An official of the European Commission (EC) yesterday said more than $300
million worth of humanitarian aid was earmarked for Zimbabwe but emphasized
that the EC had not committed any funds because discussions and negotiations
were still going on. Another aid facility called Euronaid could also be made
available to Zimbabwe under which non-governmental agencies could apply for
various commodities to be distributed as aid but this also depended on the
outcome of the negotiations. The United States, New Zealand, Switzerland and
the EU have slapped sanctions on Mugabe and his officials and cut aid to
Zimbabwe because Harare is blamed for rigging last month’s presidential
election. International donors have also pulled out of the country because
of lawlessness and what they say is Mugabe’s appalling human rights and
democracy record. Of the 117 000 tonnes that the WFP initially asked from
donors, it has received only 37 000 tonnes, about a third of the requested

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Hindustan Times

Zimbabwean warlords target Indians
Fakir Hassen (IANS)
Johannesburg, April 25

The minority Indian community has now become the target of Zimbabwe's
guerrilla war for independence's black veterans, who over the past two years
seized white farmers' property without any compensation.
The state-controlled daily Herald newspaper quoted Andrew Ndlovu, an
executive of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, as
saying "Operation Liberation" would now target Indians in the country.

The Zimbabwean Indians, believed to number around 10,000, mostly are in
business, with professionals having fled the country as its economy tumbled
following lawlessness in attacking farms that have been with white families
for generations and redistributing it to black war veterans, most of them
unskilled and unemployed.

Supported by President Robert Mugabe, who recently won another term of
office in a disputed election after more than two decades at the helm, the
war veterans have reduced the once thriving Zimbabwean agricultural economy
to tatters.

On the same day that government-controlled prices of staples such as bread
and milk were drastically increased, Ndlovu accused Zimbabwean Indians of
being "economic looters."

"Nothing will stop us from reclaiming commercial land from Indians," he

"If they do not stop looting our economy they will leave us with no choice
but to go door-to-door making sure all Indians in the cities are complying
with instructions from war veterans."

Ndlovu said when many whites fled then Rhodesia in 1980 as it became
independent Zimbabwe, Indians "who had lots of money" bought up almost all
the developed land in cities. "We now want these Indians to surrender a
certain percentage of that land to the government."

He was not specific about this percentage. "Indians are not here to develop
our country or to work with the government, they are economic looters."

Ndlovu, at the forefront of Mugabe's campaign of illegal seizures of
white-owned farmland since war veterans began moving onto properties in
February 2000, said the Indians created a black market in critically short
foreign currency, did not participate in celebrations to mark Zimbabwe's
independence anniversary and held onto vacant land which they refused to
share with blacks.

He called on Indian landlords to reduce the rentals they charged black
tenants, and also for Indian shopkeepers to reduce prices of the goods they

Representatives of the Zimbabwean Indian community, many of them third
generation residents of the country, were tight-lipped about the threats.

They have maintained a low profile throughout the seizure of white farms and
have avoided becoming embroiled or even involved in the politics of the
country, unlike their counterparts in neighbouring South Africa, where,
despite being a minority, Indians play a major role in many national and
regional political organisations, including government.

It is to their friends and neighbours in South Africa that many Zimbabwean
Indians recently began sending their families as fears began rising of
action against the community.

While wives and children stay with friends in South Africa, male family
members have been trying desperately in many cases to sell up their
businesses and properties there so that they could emigrate.

But with rampant inflation and huge currency devaluation, there are no
willing buyers, even in a hugely under-priced market. Now they fear losing
their properties completely without any compensation, as has been the case
with the white farmers.

Earlier, Zimbabwean Indians, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IANS
how their children who were sent abroad to study refused to return home,
preferring to settle down there instead.

There has also been a mass exodus of Zimbabwean Indian professionals and
Indian expatriates employed as doctors and engineers in the country have
also been leaving in droves.

Only diehard members of the older community are reportedly hanging on in
desperate attempts to get something out of a lifetime of investment there.

But now, concerns are growing that Zimbabweans Indians may face a fate
similar to that of their cousins in Uganda in the 1970s, when notorious
dictator Idi Amin expelled all Asians. They were forced to leave all their
possessions behind

Back to the Top
Back to Index


ZBC now grouped with political parties

Rashweat Mukundu
4/25/02 4:50:44 AM (GMT +2)

THE widely publi-cised attacks on the news crew of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) at political rallies by political party supporters and by
soldiers at demonstrations bring yet another chance for debate on the role
of the public broadcaster in Zimbabwe.

Without doubt any attack on any media personnel from anywhere for whatever
reason is totally abhorrent and unacceptable.

The Zimbabwe situation is however gaining some form of peculiarity in that
the public broadcaster is always under attack from certain political groups
and is indeed always praised by the ruling party and the government.

The role of the ZBC as a public broadcaster has never been subjected to
public debate in Zimbabwe since the country’s independence in 1980.

What is becoming clear from the physical attacks being perpetrated on the
ZBC crew is that there are certain political and social groups that see the
public broadcaster as an active political player or, in other words, a
mouthpiece for the ruling party. This means that the ZBC is being grouped
together with political parties and activists.

From its reports and programming, it is clear that the public broadcaster
has fallen into the hands of political spin-doctors and these people
ultimately decide the structure of broadcasting Zimbabwe currently has.

Being the only broadcasting station in Zimbabwe and supported by taxpayers’
money and using taxpayers infrastructure, there is need for the ZBC to
enforce impartiality and serve the interests of the nation.

This cannot, however, be achieved under the current regulations, be it that
which governs the ZBC or the Broadcasting Services Act 2001. These laws
stifle free expression by the ZBC and ultimately affect fair coverage of

The violent attacks on the ZBC crew are as a result of the anger in some
quarters that the public broadcaster has not been fair in its coverage of
national issues and events.

Addressing a Law Society public meeting in Harare, the chairperson of the
Electoral Supervisory Commission, Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, acknowledged that the
ZBC had not covered the elections fairly and that the observations of the
commission were in a report to be presented to President Robert Mugabe. The
Commonwealth observer team also made similar observations.

The use of inflammatory language by the ZBC even on fellow media houses and
journalists is well-documented. Such words as "stooges", "unpatriotic",
"racist", "oppositional", "puppets" and "terrorists" have become trademarks
of the ZBC. Such inflammatory language has the effect of inciting political
party supporters from both divides to carry out acts of violence.

This violence cannot be far from what has been happening to the ZBC when it
tried to cover certain political rallies.

In terms of the use of hate speech and inflammatory language, the ZBC is in
clear breach of Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights which prohibits any advocacy of national, racial or
religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, violence or

The use of hate language, many will remember, contributed to the Rwandan
genocide. Contrary to the statement made by one government minister arguing
against the freeing of the airwaves, that a private radio station had
contributed to the genocide in Rwanda, the truth is that the "private" radio
station, Radio-Television Libre Des Mille Collines (RTLM), was an offshoot
of the government.

This was so because the Rwandan government had come under pressure to stop
the use of Radio Rwanda to promote hate speech after the earlier genocide
that took place in March 1992, hence the formation of RTLM. The Rwandan
situation, many will agree, must never be tolerated or allowed to take root
in Zimbabwe.

The dominance of the ZBC in terms of reaching out to a wider audience cannot
be disputed. This is so because of its broadly spread infrastructure.

This advantage can indeed be used to promote peace and development in
Zimbabwe rather than violence that can ultimately catch up with its
advocators. Peace and development is not only harping on about certain
economic programmes like the land reform but also giving a voice to those
with critical and differing views.

Any public broadcaster worth its salt must have a commitment to balanced
scheduling and political content. This, as mentioned earlier, cannot however
be achieved without a change of the legislation governing broadcasting in
Zimbabwe. New regulations are needed that require the ZBC to provide
reasonable access to differing points of view on public issues.

The opening up of the airwaves is not enough to guarantee a plurality of
voices on the airwaves. This is so because the ZBC, unlike private players,
is obliged to reach out to anyone in spite of economic considerations.
Private stations might decide to reach out to particular groups and
concentrate on limited programme issues.

At a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
conference held in Namibia in 2001 to celebrate 10 years of the Windhoek
Declaration, which seeks to promote a free Press, delegates came up with an
African Charter on Broadcasting. In terms of public broadcasting the charter
calls for:

All state- and government-controlled broadcasters to be transformed into
public service broadcasters that are accountable to all strata of the people
as represented by an independent board that serves the public interests,
avoiding one-sided reporting and programming in regard to religion,
political belief, culture, race and gender.

The charter also calls for public broadcasting to be governed by bodies that
are legally insulated from interference and that their editorial
independence must be guaranteed.

The ZBC is under the yoke of the government through the appointment of a
board by the minister of information. But the need for an independent body
accountable to the people and not the minister is gaining wide acceptance
all over the world.

There is therefore need for an independent board and Broadcasting Regulatory
Authority in Zimbabwe if broadcasting is to be truly free and
representative. Regulatory bodies, though largely the creations of
politicians, are still expected to operate with a degree of independence and
to be appointed transparently.

The attacks on the ZBC crew will not be solved by simply controlling
political party thugs; these attacks mirror serious underlying problems that
need to be solved through a broad and all-inclusive reform programme at
Pockets Hill.

Rashweat Mukundu is a research and information officer with the Zimbabwe
chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


African poll observers merely came to Zim for fun

Charles Mangongera
4/25/02 4:49:03 AM (GMT +2)

AS the debate rages about who won the 2002 presidential election in
Zimbabwe, it is time to sit and reflect.

Without a doubt the election was a big circus. This was so not only because
of the massive disenfranchisement of voters in Harare and Chitungwiza but
also because of the levels of violence and intimidation that preceded it.

That ZANU PF employed its dirty tricks from the first day of preparation for
the election to the counting of votes is a fact no sane Zimbabwean can
dispute. But what I found particularly disturbing during the whole process
of voting was the behaviour of the various observer missions that were
handpicked by President Robert Mugabe not to come and observe the poll but
to endorse the electoral outcome.


on the ground

My contention is that the whole concept of observing elections, if what
happened in the Zimbabwean poll is anything to go by, leaves a lot to be
desired and has to be revisited with a view to coming up with systems and
procedures that will ensure that at the end of the day, the judgments and
conclusions of the observers will not significantly deviate from the actual
situation on the ground.

In my observation of the observers themselves, I witnessed a shocking lack
of sense of purpose that one would have expected from people observing such
a crucial episode in the history of Zimbabwe. This was particularly so with
observers from my dear African continent.

This was an election that had been preceded by so much violence that
hundreds had been murdered in cold blood and tens of thousands internally
displaced. This was an election that had the rules of the game so tilted in
the ruling party’s favour that the participation of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change was just to fulfil a long-cherished dream.

One would have expected the observers to discharge their duties with
unflinching probity and an unwavering sense of duty and fairness. But alas,
this was never to be.

To begin with, there was an unnecessary zeal on the part of some of the
observers to pre-judge the election even before the actual voting process
had started. Kaire Mbuende, that bootlicker on a special assignment from Sam
Nujoma of Namibia, quickly comes to mind. He suddenly became the darling of
the ZANU PF campaign managers at Pockets Hill.

The truth of the matter is that most of the observers did not visit the
political hot spots in most rural areas because they feared for their lives.
They knew of the bands of marauding war veterans and ruling party youths who
were wreaking havoc in the run-up to the poll and are shamelessly still
doing so.

Sanctity of

human life

They never visited the interior parts of Mashonaland Central, that hell on
earth where the sanctity of human life is non-existent. If Mbuende went to
Mashonaland Central, saw the violence that was so conspicuously rampant and
he had the audacity to say there was no violence in Zimbabwe, then one can
only say two things about him.

Either he is insane or he is an undercover operative of Mugabe’s
totalitarian regime in the same mould as that crook called Ari Ben-Menashe.

Essentially, the whole exercise of election observation was reduced to a
holidaying escapade of five-star hotel accommodation and hunting for the
most lucrative black market to change the mighty American dollar. This was
the tragedy.

Party time

I remember moving around the hotels extending invitations to the observers
to attend a pre-election seminar that we were hosting. It was like party
time for most of them as they drank their senses out while couched up in a
corner with local commercial sex workers, who must have made a fortune from
the election.

The observers had suddenly become a hit on the commercial sex market as they
were paying in "real" money.

It was shocking to hear these African observer missions making statements to
the effect that the people had freely expressed their will.

First, there was so much pre-poll political violence that the opposition
went into this election without having set a foot in certain areas that were
branded no-go areas for the opposition. And the observers knew about this.

Secondly, the voters’ roll was so flawed that up to now Registrar-General
Tobaiwa Mudede himself cannot reconcile his figures. The opposition brought
this to the attention of the observers but they did not voice their concern
on this.

Third, the voting exercise in Harare and Chitungwiza was so chaotic that
almost half the number of registered voters did not exercise their right to
choose their leader. The queues were too long and ZANU PF intended to
frustrate the urban voters by delaying the process in the opposition
strongholds. People spent on average more than 15 hours in queues to cast
their votes. This was all in the eyes of the so-called observers.

Even the so-called extension of voting in Harare and Chitungwiza was a sham.
I visited a number of poling stations on the third day of voting and the
queues were still very long. The observers could see this.

Voting was officially closed at 7pm on Monday March 11 and many had not
voted by then. The observers were not blind to this. Then they went ahead
and concluded that the people had freely expressed their will.

Billions of

dollars wasted

The point that I am making is that there is no reason why African
governments should spend billions of dollars sending observer missions
during election times if they lack objectivity in their discharge of duties.
It is a waste of money.

There develops a crisis of confidence in the whole concept if unprecedented
electoral frauds are endorsed as the will of the people. It is time African
leaders abandoned their "brotherhood" approach and dealt with issues in an
objective manner.

This is the first critical step towards moulding the continent into a
closely knit democratic and economic entity that will participate
effectively in the global economy. It is time to usher in a new era where
there is no use of rhetoric in dealing with important national and regional

It is time to abandon this "let Zimbabweans decide for themselves" rhetoric
as it has led to the suppression of democratic values.

In my opinion, the behaviour of the observers is indicative of the kind of
dilly-dallying that African leaders have decided to use in dealing with
Mugabe. They have treated him with kid gloves when they should have been
firm with him. As a result Mugabe thinks he is the world’s greatest man
after stealing an election with the endorsement of most of these African

And the reason why they are supporting an undemocratic regime is very
simple. Most of these African leaders are like Mugabe and they cannot
condemn him for actions that they know they are also guilty of.

Most of them have been in power for too long. They have dubious human rights
records and corruption is endemic in their governments.

No culture of

accepting opposition

These corrupt and inept leaders have no culture of accepting opposition and
they have used the same tricks that Mugabe used to steal elections for them
to remain in power.

As a result the men and women they sent to Zimbabwe to observe the election
had a very clear mandate, which was to rubber-stamp the poll as free and
fair. It was like a game plan.

The Zimbabwean scenario should serve as a lesson for all those in Africa who
are seriously concerned about entrenching a democratic ethos in the African
polity. The lesson learnt is that going into an election with a flawed
constitution will never bring out the desired results.

A situation where a candidate in an election is like both a player and
referee in a game of soccer will severely compromise the freeness and
fairness of an election. And having a bunch of handpicked election observers
is inimical to objective judgment because only henchmen are invited.

The conclusion is that electoral democracy in Africa is under siege if the
election in Zimbabwe is anything to go by.

Charles Mangongera is a research fellow with the Mass Public Opinion
Institute based in Harare. He can be reached on

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe imports yellow maize to ease food crisis

4/25/02 9:55:07 AM (GMT +2)

ZIMBABWE has imported 28 000 tonnes of yellow maize, a grain used for both
human and animal consumption, to ease food shortages, state media reported
on yesterday.

The Herald newspaper said the government-controlled Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) had paid US$3.8 million for the yellow maize as part of the board's
programme to import 200 000 tonnes to cover Zimbabwe's food deficit.
Aid agencies say thousands of Zimbabweans face starvation as crop production
was slashed last season by drought and the state's seizure of white-owned
farms which disrupted agriculture.
The Herald said the yellow maize was imported because supplies in
neighbouring South Africa of white maize, the preferred staple food in
Zimbabwe, were dwindling fast.
Zimbabwe has traditionally imported yellow maize for human use in drought
Analysts say agricultural production in the cropping season ending this
month has fallen by 50 percent. Maize rationing has been instituted in
communal areas with some households being limited to sharing a 50 kg bag of
maize-meal each month.
The Herald quoted GMB acting chief executive Joan Mtukwa as saying that the
bulk of Zimbabwe's maize imports were white, but the board would be getting
more consignments of yellow maize from Brazil and China.
"We started bringing in yellow maize about two weeks ago and it will soon be
available on the local market," she said.
Mtukwa did not give details of how much yellow maize would be imported in
the future, or specific prices. Board officials were not available to
comment on yesterday.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said this week it had received
just over a third of the food it needs to feed hungry Zimbabweans.
WFP representative to Zimbabwe Kevin Farrell said the agency had so far
received about 37 000 tonnes of food out of 117 000 tonnes the programme is
seeking, and was trying to increase the amount but could not say when this
would happen.
Industry officials say the slow response to the aid appeal is a reflection
of Zimbabwe's international isolation over its human rights record, the farm
seizures and Mugabe's controversial victory in March presidential elections.
The United States, Britain, Australia, Japan, Switzerland and South Africa
are the only countries to respond to the WFP's appeal made last year. This
has forced the agency to dip into its emergency funds to buy food for
Zimbabwe, Farrell said.
Earlier this month the US government said it would soon start delivering 34
430 tonnes of maize as part of the WFP programme.
Some aid agencies say thousands of opposition supporters in many parts of
Zimbabwe are being denied access to maize at the state GMB depots in the
aftermath of the disputed presidential election. But Farrell said the
problem was not that widespread.
Mugabe's government, which accuses some aid agencies of aiding the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change under the guise of aid programmes,
insists that all food distribution be done in conjunction with the state.
--- Reuter

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Aid agencies rush food to starving Hwange

Staff Reporter
4/25/02 9:54:27 AM (GMT +2)

BULAWAYO — Hunger has reached alarming proportions in the east of Hwange
district, forcing a non-governmental agency and the United Nations’ World
Food Programme (WFP) to rush food handouts this week to avert possible
deaths from famine, officials said yesterday.

So serious is the hunger in the area that some villagers are reportedly
fainting due to the lack of food, mostly maize meal, the staple diet of the
majority of Zimbabweans.
About 40 000 people are in urgent need of food in Hwange alone, out of about
100 000 registered for food relief in Matabeleland.
Norbert Dube, national coordinator of ORAP, one of the four aid agencies
helping the WFP distribute the food handouts in drought-hit Matabeleland,
said aid teams had rushed food to Hwange on Monday because shortages there
had become "perilous".
The teams doled out meal-mealie to 15 745 villagers in 17 wards. Each
registered villager was given 13.8 kgs of meal-mealie per family.
The same 15 745 villagers would be given beans totalling about 28.3 tonnes
and vegetable oils worth four tonnes. Groundnuts weighing 11 tonnes would
also be distributed in the district.
The inclusion of vegetable oil and beans, Dube said, was meant to reduce
high malnutrition levels especially among children.
"The teams rushed there on Monday this week because the situation had become
very critical and perilous. Our teams are doing everything to prevent a
humanitarian disaster unfolding. We want to ensure that no one dies of
hunger," he told the Financial Gazette.
Apart from Hwange in Matabeleland North, other provinces such as the
Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and some parts of Mashonaland are in
dire need of food handouts.
In fact, more than 600 000 Zimbabweans in rural areas face starvation in
southern and eastern parts of the country. The food shortages have been
blamed on a severe drought and the government’s seizures of commercial farms
under a controversial land reform plan.
The WFP food aid scheme was initiated in February this year but was
temporarily suspended during the March 9-11 presidential election officially
won by Mugabe.
The plan has been hit by donor fatigue, with only the US, Britain,
Australia, Japan and Switzerland responding to the appeal for urgent food
aid launched last year.
Only about US$20 million has been received out of US$60 million needed.
The slow response to the aid appeal, analysts say, is a reflection of
Zimbabwe’s isolation by the international community over its poor human
rights record, the farm seizures and Mugabe’s disputed victory in the March
So far the WFP has received only 37 000 tonnes of food aid, or a third of
the requested 117 000 tonnes. It has set up warehouses in Bindura, Bulawayo,
Hwange, Chiredzi and Gwanda where it has stockpiled 4 000 tonnes of maize
meal and other food stuffs which are ready for immediate distribution.
War vets loot over $10 mln property, terrorise farmers
Staff Reporter
BULAWAYO — War veterans have looted several market gardening and citrus
projects outside Bulawayo in the past week as they step up a fresh wave of
terror begun soon after President Robert Mugabe’s re-election last month.
Jane Williams, a spokeswoman for the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), said
this week: "We are looking at the damage which runs at about $10 million at
least, but we are still updating the figure.
"The farmers are under pressure from the war veterans to leave their farms.
The situation is very tense with farm workers also being constantly told to
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the law enforcement agency was
unaware of the violence against the farmers because no one had reported the
Williams said the worst hit properties were Twin River Ranch Farm near West
Nicholson and others also near Bulawayo such as Thandanani Farm, Glenala
Park and Umguzaan Farm, where vegetable fields and fruit trees had been
She said the ruling ZANU PF mobs had laid siege on both farmers and their
The farm owner of Twin River Ranch said he spent most of last Sunday
resisting eviction from his citrus producing property by about 50 veterans.
The farm, bought from a private company in 1986, is on a preliminary notice
of acquisition. Since 1986 the farm had cultivated up to 15 000 citrus trees
and 4 000 mango trees. It also has a head of 600 cattle and exports fruit
and beef to southern Africa.
Williams said the veterans raided the orchard and stole fruit at Twin River
Ranch farm.
At Thandanani Farm in Nyamandlovu, one of the country’s biggest producers of
sweet potatoes and other vegetables, property worth about $150 000 belonging
to farm workers was looted during an attack at the farm village by ZANU PF
The attack was apparently to avenge the arrest by farm workers of 26
veterans caught stealing 29 tonnes of maize.
John Sankey, the owner of Thandanani, said a group of between 30 and 40 ZANU
PF supporters raided the farm destroying and stealing property.
In Esigodini, at the 300-hectare Glenala Park Farm which supplies vegetables
to Bulawayo and the mining town of Zvishavane, the mobs ransacked the farm
before ordering the farmer to leave with immediate effect.
In GlenCurragh Farm, owner Mike Wood sustained a broken shoulder after being
assaulted with an iron bar.
At Umguzaan Farm, the veterans are reported to have stolen 2 500 tonnes of
sweet potatoes and destroyed crops worth thousands of dollars. Three
security guards guarding the property were also assaulted when they tried to
Wildlife ranches in the region have also been hit, with the veterans
focusing their campaign on the Gourlays wildlife conservancy. About 30 black
rhinos, among other wildlife, are kept there.
The mobs also struck at Denlynian farm in Nyathi district and Joco in
Beitbridge and Geenlands farm along the Bulawayo-Harare road, making off
with goods and property valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, the CFU

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Violence forces US investors to shelve US$1.5m project

Staff Reporter
4/25/02 6:56:00 AM (GMT +2)

BULAWAYO — Six American investors in a wildlife conservancy project at
Gourlays Ranch in Nyathi district have abruptly shelved plans to inject
US$1.5 million into the tourism venture, citing the expulsion of one of the
investors and workers by the government’s militant war veterans, it was
learnt this week.
The investors are the African Renewal Trust, an American wildlife
organisation, plus Ron and Johanna Kussmaul, SSI Global, Aswill Horn, Ken
Suckling and Leo Grizzaffi, a US freelance outdoor writer.

The group envisaged building safari camps in the conservancy for foreign
tourists, a large dam to benefit the local community and to initiate
irrigation projects.

Prior to the land invasions in February 2000, the group had already built
some safari camps, a training complex, a large community hall, a church and
partially completed a clinic and teachers’ residence, part of developments
planned under the investment.

About US$200 000 had been spent on developing the tourism venture and its
supporting infrastructure in the conservancy which looks after 40 black
rhinos, some of which have allegedly been snared and killed by the veterans.

Richard Pascal, the resident investor at Gourlays Ranch, yesterday said the
Americans had stopped the investment because of the chaos on the property in
which their investment was being vandalised and 100 workers had been
forcibly evicted.

"The investors have decided to halt the investment. Funding has been put on
hold in the hope that things will improve but indications are that we are in
for a rough ride because violence is continuing everyday," he told the
Financial Gazette.

Pascal, who has fled the ranch for Bulawayo, 130 kms away for fear of
attacks by the veterans, said: "The veterans have asked me and the workers
to vacate the farm immediately.

"But as investors we feel that this will jeopardise the investment, a great
foreign currency earner for the country."

He said the investors had intended injecting more than $1.5 million into the

Documents with this newspaper show that the investors have written to the
Zimbabwe Investment Centre (ZIC) — the country’s investment-luring body —
strongly protesting the disruption of tourism activities at Gourlays Ranch.

A letter written to ZIC and copied to the American embassy in Harare by Ron
Kussmaul on behalf of the investors bemoans the orgy of violence on the

"We wish to express our deep concern regarding the situation on Gourlays
Ranch, which is our project in Zimbabwe. Our resident investor, Mr (Richard)
Pascal, has informed us that all our workers were ordered to vacate in one
week’s time," it said.

"The person responsible for issuing this order is local war veterans
chairman Luca Tshuma. We, the foreign investors, find the situation
unacceptable. We have ZIC certificate number 003287 up to and including the
end of November 2003. Our investment is threatened and the projects are at a

They have also lobbied Zimbabwean and international wildlife organisations
to press the government to allow the investment to proceed without any
further hindrance.

Other documents show that Grizzaffi, who has met Tourism Minister Francis
Nhema twice in America over the issue, wrote a letter of protest early this
month to George Pangetti and Ed Kadzombo, officials of the Zimbabwe Wildlife
Advisory Council.

Pascal said: "It is a tragedy that we have to lose such an investment
because the government does not want to remove the veterans from our

"I have agreed to give the government some sections of the property but they
seem to want the area where we are pouring money in. They want us to move
the rhino to another section of the property, but this will cost about Z$180

He said because of the violence, he had been forced to cancel tourist
bookings, losing Z$45 million in the past two years.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


Mugabe prepares to turn on Asian traders
By Tim Butcher, Africa Correspondent
(Filed: 25/04/2002)

SUPPORTERS of President Robert Mugabe prepared yesterday to act against
Zimbabwe's 12,000 Asians.

In a gesture that echoed the 1970s clampdown in Uganda by Idi Amin's
supporters, a senior "war veteran" warned Zimbabwean Asians that their
businesses and land could be seized.

A report in the state-owned Herald newspaper, which has repeatedly been used
by Mr Mugabe to announce new policies, accused the Asian community of
exploiting black Zimbabweans.

"Nothing will stop us from reclaiming commercial land from Indians," Andrew
Ndlovu, leader of the Liberation War Veterans' Association, was quoted as

"If they do not stop looting our economy they will leave us with no choice
but to go door to door making sure all Indians in the cities are complying
with instructions from war veterans."

The Herald said Mr Ndlovu had told the Asians, mostly traders and small
businessmen, to reduce rents, stop trading in currency on the black market,
bank their money in the country and raise wages.

Over the past two years Mr Mugabe has blamed the small white community in
Zimbabwe for the failure of the country's economy and the resulting
hardships. Now it appears that Asians are next in line to be scapegoats.

Back to the Top
Back to Index


MDC, ZANU PF talks under threat

By Sydney Masamvu Political Editor
4/25/02 6:51:20 AM (GMT +2)

OPPOSITION leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged President Robert Mugabe yesterday
to quickly end what he said was state-sponsored violence targeting his MDC
supporters, warning that failure to do so will derail landmark inter-party
talks aimed at resolving Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crisis.

The MDC chief said although his party was committed to the success of the
talks begun earlier this month with the ruling ZANU PF, it could not allow
its members to be subjected to systematic violence in which several people
have been killed and thousands displaced.

"In the light of the state-sponsored violence and campaign of retribution
being waged and sustained by ZANU PF, we now find it difficult to resume
talks under a climate of banditry, lawlessness and terror which is being
left to flourish," Tsvangirai told the Financial Gazette.

He said he was summoning an emergency meeting of his decision-making
national council on May 6 to debate how the MDC should respond in the face
of the violence, which police insist has been easing in the past few months.

The MDC is also dispatching urgent letters to the facilitators of the talks,
South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo,
warning them about the threat of the violence on the talks.

"We are saying Mugabe should end this systematic violence being waged by his
party on MDC supporters and that both Mbeki and Obasanjo should lean on
their colleague to act, otherwise the MDC does not see the need to have any
further talks when our supporters are on the receiving end," Tsvangirai

He added: "This is the message we are sending to presidents Mbeki and
Obasanjo. We want them to press Mugabe to take practical measures to end the
violence quickly."

The inter-party talks, due to resume in Harare on May 13, are aimed at
breaking a political impasse caused by Mugabe’s disputed re-election last

Tsvangirai acknowledged that the talks were not supposed to have
preconditions, but said he could not continue talking to ZANU PF if Mugabe
did not clamp down on lawlessness.

The MDC says more than 150 of its followers have been killed in the past two
years, many of them during the campaign for and after the March presidential
ballot which the opposition party, Zimbabwean poll monitors and much of the
world has rejected.

The ballot has been backed as valid by a handful of African states.

Among the issues pencilled in for debate at the resumed session is the
legitimacy of Mugabe’s re-election. The MDC accuses him of stealing the vote
through intimidation, the stuffing of ballots and disenfrachisement of
thousands of its members.

Tsvangirai said it was ironic that while Mugabe was publicly preaching
unity, ZANU PF was waging a campaign of retribution against MDC members,
including denying them food aid in drought-hit rural areas.

He chronicled numerous cases of the violence recently, which he said
included harassment, displacement and torture of MDC followers nationwide.

"How can you talk when people are being tortured, harassed, displaced daily
through elements being sponsored by the state," the MDC chief asked.

He said his party had entered the talks to help in nation building and the
onus was on ZANU PF to create a climate conducive for such dialogue, if it
was to be successful.

"The talks are aimed consolidating national interests, meaning that we
should value the lives and freedoms of the people who we lead," he said.

"We, as MDC, will not betray our supporters, more importantly their lives,
for the sake of sustaining Mugabe’s political fortunes."

Back to the Top
Back to Index


ZANU PF ally is ex-Ugandan rebel

By David Masunda Deputy Editor-in-Chief
4/25/02 6:54:10 AM (GMT +2)

BRITISH-BASED Ugandan exile David Nyekorach-Matsanga, who has trashed the
Commonwealth’s adverse report on Zimbabwe’s presidential election, is a
former spokesman of Uganda’s terrorist Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and his
invitation to the March poll was processed by President Robert Mugabe’s

The government-owned Herald newspaper this week carried a front-page
interview with Nyekorach-Matsanga in which the former rebel alleges that the
Commonwealth’s report on the disputed Zimbabwean election was doctored.

The Commonwealth stopped short of accusing Mugabe of having stolen the
ballot, as claimed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
but said the Zimbabwean poll was neither free nor fair.

"My mission in Zimbabwe was to puncture the Commonwealth team and show the
whole world that what they did was not correct," Nyekorach-Matsanga, in
Harare to present his report to Mugabe, told the Financial Gazette at a
swanky hotel this week.

He accuses Commonwealth observer team head Abdulsalami Abubakar and his
delegation of complicity with the MDC.

He lists one of the reasons as the team’s decision to turn down a government
invitation to stay at the state-aided Harare Sheraton and insisting to be
based at a top Harare hotel where the opposition party’s leaders were also

Nyekorach-Matsanga, who says he is now a British citizen, said one of the
reasons he applied to observe the flawed poll was to assess "the double
standards" of Western governments on Africa.

Although Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge and the Electoral Supervisory
Commission invited most of the foreign observers to the poll, Mugabe
personally banned British citizens and those from other European Union
countries such as Denmark and Sweden.

Nyekorach-Matsanga, the director of an obscure London-based think-tank
called Africa Strategy, admitted he was the LRA member widely quoted by
Western media such as the British Broadcasting Corporation as the rebel
group’s spokesman in London.

He claimed though that he had quit the organisation in 1998.

The LRA, a brutal quasi-religious group blamed for heinous crimes in
northern Uganda, has now been declared an international terrorist
organisation and its assets frozen by the United States and British

Nyekorach-Matsanga’s 23-page report absolves ZANU PF from sole
responsibility over the orgy of violence that engulfed the country before
the March vote but instead blasts the Abubakar-led mission for being
allegedly biased against Mugabe.

He also accuses senior Commonwealth staff in Harare of involvement in what
he calls the election’s impropriety, claiming that most male staff was
"involved in heavy social sprees with South African women journalists
enlisted by the MDC as sympathisers".

Nyekorach-Matsanga, a great admirer of Mugabe, says he discussed his
reservations about Abubakar and his mission’s report with Nigerian leader
Olusegun Obasanjo’s senior advisers when the West African leader visited
Zimbabwe last month.

The Africa Strategy report is a glowing tribute on how the widely condemned
Zimbabwean vote was conducted and also toasts the behaviour of ZANU PF

"There is nowhere on earth where polling was as satisfactory as it was in
Zimbabwe, although there were few obstacles in urban areas of Harare and
Chitungwiza due to the long list of presidential and civic candidates to
choose from," says the report presented to Mugabe and National Speaker
Emmerson Mnangagwa this week.

Asked whether he had personally witnessed any incidents of violence, the
Ugandan says he was almost assaulted by MDC supporters and had to flee
Mereki Shopping Centre in Harare, abandoning a roasted chicken he was about
to eat, for wearing a ZANU PF T-shirt.

When he wore an MDC T-shirt in the city to test how ZANU PF supporters would
behave, they "politely" told him that he should desist from provoking them
by wearing opposition party regalia.

"I found the MDC and ZANU PF both responsible for the violence but this did
not mar the general outcome of the election," the Ugandan said.

"The Zimbabwean election was an African election and surely you cannot
expect an African election not to have some fist fights … it is normal but
it did not erode the credibility of the election," he said.

"It was very unfair for the First World to tell a Third World country to
abide by all the conditions of a democratic process," he added.

Nyekorach-Matsanga has not presented his report to the MDC because the party
did not return his call and "if they do not want to collect it, I will just
post it to them", he says.

Curiously, Zimbabwean authorities registered Nyekorach-Matsanga as a foreign
journalist covering the March 9-11 election and not as an observer.

His name on the Press card however reads as "David Aoctims Nyekorach" of
Africa Strategy

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Weekly Media Update
No.12 - 2002 April 15th - April 21st 2002
Independence Day
Retribution campaign
Journalists' arrests
Zimbabwe's 22nd independence anniversary provided the public media with another opportunity to overwhelm its audiences with partisan political rhetoric that commandeered the country's most revered national event in the name of the ruling party's policies and President Mugabe's re-election.
ZBC in particular, led this campaign to bombard its audiences with "news items" ahead of the event that linked ZANU PF's current chaotic farm seizures with lengthy reminiscences of the liberation struggle on the basis that it was for land the war was fought.  Nowhere did the public media ask why it had taken the government 22 years to address land reform, or remind their audiences that majority rule was the fundamental objective of the independence war.
Instead, the public media were guilty of demeaning the national anniversary by linking it to the ruling party's recent controversial election victory, giving credence to the view that ZANU PF, with the help of the state media, is politicizing national events for its own benefit.
Incredibly, ZTV devoted 127 minutes and 10 seconds to Independence Day-related stories in its main 8pm news bulletins during the week, representing 53% of the total time it devoted to news.
ZTV opened the week with a brief history of Zimbabwe's liberation war masquerading as news.  Newshour executive producer and presenter Obriel Mpofu, stated (ZTV, 15/04,
8pm) in apparent reference to ZANU PF's victory: "This year's celebrations are being seen as unique in that they follow the successful defence of the country's sovereignty.
Chief correspondent Reuben Barwe looks at the role played by land hunger in galvanizing support in the struggle for independence".
Barwe stated that the liberation war was mainly about the land issue and hence the motto "Mwana wevhu/umntwana womhlabathi" (son of the soil).  To support his claims Barwe used old footage of the late Herbert Chitepo talking about the importance of land and the nationalists' unconditional demand for majority rule.  Another file tape of Joshua Nkomo talking about the need for land reform was also screened.  ZTV's audience was then lectured on the formation of ZANU PF, the
1966 and 1967 battles, the internal settlement and the Lancaster House talks.  Barwe summed up his report by invoking the sentiments of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley, but then crudely distorted the lyrics from one of his most popular liberation songs, quoting the musician as saying: "None but ourselves have freed ourselves and taken what is rightly belonging to us - the land." (Marley actually sang: " None but ourselves shall free ourselves." without making any reference to land.)
In the same bulletin, and as the second item after Barwe's report, ZBC's diplomatic correspondent, Judith Makwanya gave a brief history of the land issue aimed at justifying the current violent and chaotic reforms.  She regurgitated the ruling party's disingenuous assertion that the government had been bound by the Lancaster House constitution and that Britain had reneged on its promise to fund land reform.
These two pieces possessed absolutely no news value and any credible broadcaster would have screened the topics raised as documentaries, rather than hijacking the news bulletin to peddle propaganda mixed with history to captive audiences.
Radio Zimbabwe carried the same reports the following day in its 6am bulletin.
Subsequent bulletins were also littered with government propaganda masquerading as news, including lengthy items devoted to chronicling government's social and economic achievements since independence.
For example, ZBC's business editor, Kumbirai Nhongo, praised Mugabe's plans for economic recovery after newscaster Mpofu had blamed ESAP for Zimbabwe's economic decline (ZTV &
3FM, 16/4, 8pm).
Paradoxically, Nhongo stated that between 1991 and 1996 the country experienced record GDP growth of 9% and that economic performance began to weaken from 1997, reaching a record low of -7.3% in 2001.  The intention of the report was meant to highlight the failure of ESAP.  But from Nhongo's report ESAP brought unprecedented growth.
Nhongo failed to explain why the economy began to decline in
1997 - the year government doled out billions of dollars in unbudgeted gratuities for war veterans.
In the same bulletin, ZTV (and Radio Zimbabwe 17/4, 8pm)
highlighted government's achievements in the health and education sectors but did not go beyond its quantitative analysis.
Radio 3FM (16/4, 8pm) quoted the President of the Women's Round Table and ZANU PF official, Nyasha Chikwinya, highlighting the benefits independence brought for women, while ZTV's bulletin that evening (and all ZBC radio stations 17/04,
6am & 1pm) quoted ZANU PF Information Secretary, Nathan Shamuyarira, blithely stating that government had created political stability after independence: "Well, we have had 22 years of stability and peace.  When the present opposition the MDC was formed in 1999 they began challenging the system.  And they have a very bad habit of not accepting defeat."
Shamuyarira was not challenged to explain why he had ignored the civil strife in Matabeleland and Midlands that claimed thousands of lives between 1982 and 1987.
Ironically, Mugabe was quoted (ZTV and radio 17/04, 8pm)
calling on teachers to "teach the correct history of Zimbabwe to the younger generation".  But if his colleagues misinform the public, one wonders how teachers can present a true history of the country.
Independence Day celebrations were preceded by a "Third Chimurenga music gala" broadcast live after the 8pm news on all ZBC's stations (17/4).  The gala saw the emergence of one, Tambawoga, who parroted the childish insult of a ZANU PF election advert when he sang: "The only Blair that I know is a toilet" in reference to British Premier, Tony Blair.  ZANU PF's Saviour Kasukuwere was seen offering him $200,000 for a reprise and instead of subjecting the singer's lyrics to scrutiny, ZBC showered him with praise, describing him as a 'new star'.
ZBC's news bulletins on April 18th and 19th solicited unquestioning praise from ZANU PF apologists and members of the public welcoming Mugabe's appeal for peace and unity.
Notably, none of the media sought to clarify Mugabe's enigmatic announcement that August 31st would be the last date for land redistribution.
If the state Press remained content to allow ZBC to lead official debate on the subject of independence in the days prior to the country's birthday, it was galvanized into action on the day itself.
The Herald picked up ZBC's earlier political lead linking ZANU PF to the country's liberation with a front-page editorial entitled, Marking Final Victory Over Colonial Yoke, which noted that this year's celebrations were significant in that they ".come on the back of a bruising election that has finally weaned the country from British hegemony."
In its report of the event itself the following day, The Herald (19/4) speculated that the good attendance (which it estimated at 50,000) at the Harare venue constituted a demonstration of support for Mugabe, and editorialized by comparing the event directly with 1980's celebration without providing any evidence for its assertion.
The paper's editorial also hijacked the national event in an effort to reassert the ruling party's supremacy over the opposition MDC whose participation in the event the paper deliberately misinterpreted: "Although it had taken a while for the MDC to publicly acknowledge the legitimacy of President Mugabe, this gesture (participation) is a good sign for the future and will mean that the opposition can now be part of the various national processes of the country."
The Sunday News (21/4) article, "Spirit of nationalism rekindled.", echoed the same message.
However, both papers studiously ignored the opportunity to report directly, the appeal by MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai to all "Zimbabweans from all walks of life to participate in Independence Day festivities" (The Daily News, 18/4).
In fact, a Daily News editorial (20/4) offered a fresh dimension to the issue by suggesting that Tsvangirai's appeal had ensured there would be no protests against the government's conduct of the presidential poll or its refusal to discuss the possibility of a new constitution.
It also attributed the large attendance in Harare to the soccer match between the country's top clubs Dynamos and Highlanders "which command equally huge crowds at their fee-paying matches" and noted that government was likely to "make as much political mileage out of the huge attendance until they have milked it dry".
The Chronicle (19/4) did just that in its article, Most MDC MPs attend independence celebrations.  Ignoring the MDC leader's appeal, the paper noted that Tsvangirai had not participated in the celebrations, unlike his lieutenants, and interpreted this to mean that he was being increasingly isolated without attempting to substantiate its claim.
Although the public media reported Mugabe's speech, they concentrated on his reiteration for peace and unity among Zimbabweans and overlooked his admission that the government had failed to tackle the economic crisis and that the Ministry of Agriculture, the prime implementer of the country's land reforms, had failed to ensure there was enough food to feed the nation.
This important revelation was only picked up by The Daily News, (19/4).
Still, if the public press glossed over Mugabe's admission of economic failure, it equally papered over flaws in government's land reform by opportunely referring to his call for a resolute agrarian revolution as if that was a solution in itself.
The chief culprit among the Zimpapers' stable was The Sunday Mail (21/4).
In an editorial, the paper equated Mugabe's demand for agrarian reform to provide the engine of economic recovery to the voice of "destiny", "African economic independence"
and the "biblical position".
The only problem surrounding land reforms, the paper noted vaguely, was that some civil servants "continue to drag their feet, creating unnecessary confusion by trying to cut deals with commercial farmers."
One such deal, explained another story in the same paper, was the issuing of export permits by Agriculture Ministry officials to white commercial farmers removing equipment from properties acquired by government for resettlement so as "to frustrate government efforts to grow a winter crop.and other farm operations".
The story was based on an interview with Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, who warned his officials against helping farmers take their equipment and directed the Reserve Bank not to entertain such farmers seeking bank assistance to export it.
The paper quoted Made: "All borders across the country have been issued with a directive not to allow any farming equipment to leave the borders.  In fact such truckloads should be detained."
Glaringly missing in the story was any information about the legislation under which the minister had issued such a directive.  It remained unclear whether private property, such as farm equipment, would now be compulsorily acquired too.
It was left to the private Press to expose the weaknesses of blaming white commercial farmers and junior civil servants for the woes besetting land reforms.
Three stories in The Financial Gazette (18/4) proved there were more chinks in the make-believe armour of land reform than the public press depicted.
For example, Chefs in massive land grab exposed the hypocrisy behind the spirit of land resettlement by chronicling cases in which the powerful were using their political clout to parcel out to themselves the best commercial land meant for resettlement, while Prospective black farmers still to get land, added more depth to the allegations via the eyes of the deprived.
Even The Chronicle (20/4) story, Settled villagers complain of negligence, highlighted - though hazily - some of the problems plaguing land reform.
In fact, The Zimbabwe Independent (19/4) weighed in with a recent case where Marondera West MP and retired army brigadier, Ambrose Mutinhiri, was reported to have "forcibly"
taken over Waltondale Farm, together with all the equipment valued at $400 million, throwing the future of more than 500 families into doubt.
The Standard (21/4) and The Daily News (20/4) tested Mugabe's call for national unity in their comments, unlike The Herald (19/4), which merely recorded them verbatim in its story, 'Let's unite, build Zim'.
Both comments dismissed the President's appeal as hypocritical and insincere, noting that his party stands accused of conducting a nationwide campaign of violence against suspected opposition party supporters that has continued unabated after the election.
RETRIBUTION CAMPAIGN Despite Mugabe's continued calls for peace and unity, violent post-election political upheavals continue to haunt the nation more than a month after his re-election.
During the week the private press published 28 stories of politically motivated violence and recorded 16 incidents ranging from politically encouraged beatings and victimisation, to displacement.  Perpetrators of such crimes were reported to be mostly ZANU PF supporters, war veterans or state security agents, while the victims were suspected MDC supporters, farm workers, commercial workers, civil servants, council officials, commercial farmers, ordinary members of the public and known MDC activists.
The public press carried 12 stories comprising six incidents of violence.  All victims were identified as ZANU PF supporters, while the perpetrators were said to be MDC supporters.
There were no new murders reported during the week, although The Financial Gazette followed up a SW Radio Africa report the previous week, confirming a local human rights organisation's report that two skeletons of suspected MDC supporters had been retrieved at Lenkubin Village in Nkayi.
The paper quoted Christian Women for Love and Care chairperson, Sakhile Nkomo, as saying her team had confirmed the discovery although the police "don't want to confirm it".
Said Nkomo: "What we are doing now is to ascertain where the remains are, but we believe they are in the Nkayi mortuary." MDC legislator Abednigo Bhebhe was also reported confirming that the skeletons had been unearthed.
The week saw no significant change in the coverage of the violent retribution campaign by either ZBC or SW Radio Africa.
The former continued to ignore incidents of violence, while the latter carried nine reports of retribution in the monitored bulletins, albeit with no police confirmation.
JOURNALISTS' ARRESTS The week witnessed the continuing harassment of journalists working for the private press by government using repressive new media legislation aimed at gagging the quality of information reaching the public.
The Daily News editor, Geoff Nyarota, Zimbabwe Independent editor, Iden Wetherell and his chief reporter, Dumisani Muleya, were arrested during the week for violating the new Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Nyarota was arrested for publishing a story alleging that the election was rigged, while Muleya, who was also charged under the similarly restrictive Rhodesian criminal defamation law, and Wetherell, were detained for a story linking Grace Mugabe to a labour dispute between a white-owned company and an employee alleged to be her brother.
All the media reported these developments, although the public media only reported condemnation of the arrests by local and international media watchdog groups in the form of condemnation by Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo ZBC reporter Tonderai Katswara (ZTV, 15/04, 8pm) also attempted to discredit The Daily News report by alleging that figures announced by Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede did not tally with those that were subsequently published in the media, stating that the paper did not provide "factual evidence with the story".  Minister Moyo was quoted in the same bulletin as having said: "The claim by The Daily News is a preposterous and deliberate falsehood consistent with many previous claims made by the daily".
After the report the ZTV newscaster read a statement issued by Moyo further discrediting The Daily News' editorial (12/04) for alleging that the government had failed to comply with the Abuja Accord.  Moyo described the daily as a "British sponsored paper.behind.the disinformation campaign on behalf of the MDC".  The state Press carried reports of the arrests the next morning, similarly dominated by Moyo's unsubstantiated comments.
SW Radio Africa (16/04) quoted the ACP-EU co-president John Corrie condemning Nyarota's arrest, which attracted a scathing response from Moyo on ZBC (ZTV,17/4, 8pm), who described his comments as "unacceptable, vulgar and perverse".
Moyo was busy again in The Herald of the following day (18/4)
launching yet another emotional and vitriolic attack against an international media watchdog organisation, Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF).  He accused RSF "of promoting lawlessness" in Zimbabwe after it had written to him expressing its concern over the arrest of the three journalists.  Moyo was quoted dismissing RSF as "nothing but a shameless partisan voice for imperial Europe deserving of the greatest contempt".
The private press performed more dispassionately, presenting their stories without being tempted into an emotionally charged slanging match with the minister.  Nyarota arrested, The Daily News (16/4); International Press Watchdog condemns Nyarota's arrest; The Daily News (17/4); Independent editor arrested over Grace Mugabe story (18/4); Police charge more journalists, The Financial Gazette (18/4); and Misa condemns media blitz, The Zimbabwe Independent (19/4)
are some examples.
Commendable too, was The Daily News' efforts to follow up the fate of Ugandan journalist Moses Oguti.  The paper (19/4)
reported him as languishing in Harare Central prison since March after he was arrested in Mutare for allegedly sneaking into the country illegally.  He is now seeking a High Court petition for his release.
The paper said although a Mutare magistrate had fined Oguti $500 and ordered his deportation, the police continued to detain him in a move the journalist's lawyer described as "inhuman"
and a contravention of "international conventions relating to human rights".
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Mbeki's key role in Zimbabwe crisis
April 25, 2002 Posted: 6:42 AM EDT (1042 GMT)

By CNN's Avril Stephens

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- The Commonwealth will decide on Tuesday whether to
take action against Zimbabwe following bitterly-contested elections in which
Robert Mugabe was re-elected president.

Three Commonwealth leaders -- South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki,
Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo and Australia's John Howard -- are to
make the decision on behalf of the 54-nation group after allegations from
its observers that the election was rigged.

Options available to them are sanctions or suspension from the Commonwealth,
though divisions have emerged between the African and other nations on what
action to take.

A key figure in the decision is Mbeki, leader of the region's economic
powerhouse and major motivator behind a development plan that could see
millions of dollars of investment being poured into the region.

He, and Obasanjo, were to meet Mugabe on Monday ahead of the troika
discussions, in the hope of persuading the Zimbabwean leader to come to a
compromise, such as a national unity government.

Q: What suggestions is Mbeki expected to take with him to Harare?

A: The main proposal is likely to be one of national unity, so that members
of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) should be
included in Mugabe's new government.

The MDC won 1.3 million of the votes, compared to 1.7 million for Mugabe's
ZANU-PF party. Support for the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, is strongest
in the major towns.

Another option is to try and persuade Mugabe to appoint a moderniser and
moderate, such as the finance minister Simba Makoni, to the post of prime

Other possibilities might include a re-run of the presidential elections, or
Mugabe agreeing to stand down soon into his six-year term.

Q: How likely are any of the plans to succeed?

A: The latter two seem least likely bearing in mind the determination shown
by the 78-year-old Mugabe in wanting to extend his 22-year reign. You don't
go to all that effort just to give it up.

The national unity plan has also come in for some scepticism, especially
after comments made by Mugabe and Tsvangirai in the aftermath of the

Tsvangirai has said he will not allow any of his members to sit in a
coalition government unless there is a re-run of the election.

Mugabe, in his inauguration speech on Sunday, talked mainly of his mandate
to continue with the controversial land reform programme, as well as
anti-British and anti-imperial statements.

Senior officials in the MDC criticised Mugabe's rhetoric for being
predominantly anti-opposition. One official said he thought it was 90
percent vitriol.

The MDC thought that comments about pre-colonialisation were aimed at
themselves. Mugabe has accused Tsvangirai of being a "stooge of Britain."

It is difficult to see what formulation would bring the country together to
prevent sanctions being imposed. Both party leaders are sticking to their

Q: Why is Mbeki so important to the outcome?

A: Mbeki is the key figure because of the economic clout of South Africa. So
far, he has adopted a gentle approach, perhaps because of the African
tradition of paying respect to one's elders.

Mbeki has only recently followed in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela as
leader of his country, in comparison to Mugabe's 22 years.

Any unrest in Zimbabwe will have immediate affects on South Africa --
refugees already flow across the border between the two neighbours to escape
the escalating poverty in Zimbabwe.

There is little understanding between the two leaders, as the political
origins of the countries' parties are different. South Africa's ANC has a
liberal democratic tradition while ZANU-PF is an Africanist movement.

Being leader of a south African economic powerhouse he could pull the plug
on Zimbabwe's source of energy or impose blockades.

But if Mbeki fails to succeed he faces serious setbacks on two fronts --
possible revolt in Zimbabwe and the disappearance of much-needed
international aid.

Q: Isn't there a precedent for South African power-broking in Zimbabwe?

A: Yes, in 1965 South African prime minister John Vorster withdrew his
support of Ian Smith, the then leader of Zimbabwe which was called Rhodesia,
because of his inability to keep the war against southern Africa's white
governments at bay.

Vorster ditched Smith by threatening land-locked Rhodesia's trade route.

Q: What could happen if Mbeki fails in his mission?

A: The MDC has its strongest support in the towns, and there are fears that
if nothing is done they may revolt against the election result, which
Tsvangirai has condemned as "illegitimate."

Also, Tsvangirai was Zimbabwe's trade union leader and has links to South
Africa's trade union association which could take sympathetic action.

At risk also is international aid as part of the New Partnership for African
Development (Nepad), backed primarily by Britain's Prime Minister Tony

At the core of Nepad is a commitment by the continent's leaders to good
governance, democratic principles and to holding one another accountable.

The West, and in particular the U.S., has accused Mugabe of holding the
elections in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

If Mbeki is seen to side with Zimbabwe Nepad comes under threat. It would
also be an embarrassment for Blair.

South Africa has already alarmed the West with some of its comments since
the Zimbabwe result was announced.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Mugabe frees 5 000 from overcrowded Zim jails

April 25 2002 at 01:06PM

Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has granted amnesty to 4 998
prisoners in a bid to ease overcrowding in jails, the state-run Herald
newspaper reported on Thursday.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa told the paper the prisons are
over-populated by 50 percent, stretching the limits of facilities, supplies
and staff.

Zimbabwe's prisons have space for 16 000 inmates, but they now hold more
than 22 500 convicts.

This made it difficult to provide and maintain acceptable standards in the
prisons, especially for health and hygiene, the minister said.

A first group of 886 prisoners are to be released within two days, while the
rest will be released in phases during the coming weeks, the paper said.

The amnesty covers people older than 60, people who received a life sentence
before April 18, 1982, and women convicted of infanticide, abortion, baby
dumping and concealment of birth before April 18, 2002.

Women who are breastfeeding and serving limited sentences and prisoners
sentenced to less than 24 months are also covered.

Prisoners excluded in the clemency are repeat offenders serving extended
sentences and people on the lam after escaping jail before April 18, 2002.

Last year, Mugabe issued a general amnesty which released about 3 000
prisoners. He also pardoned most politically motivated crimes committed from
January 2000 up to the June 2000 parliamentary election.

Under the Zimbabwean constitution, the president has the power to grant a
pardon to any person concerned or convicted of a criminal offence.

Mugabe traditionally grants amnesty after elections. - Sapa-AFP
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News - Leader Page

Time we directed wrath at Mugabe’s white collaborators

4/25/02 12:07:24 AM (GMT +2)

FRANKLY, I am a bit nervous. Someone has said I’ll get killed, looking all
white and foolish out here and I am beginning to see why. We’re only a
couple of hundred yards away from the thugs wielding pipes, swords and guns
who have been persecuting commercial farmers.

Three weeks ago, they bludgeoned one of the workers to death. Then they
attacked Tommy Bayley, a farmer, and tried to throw him on to a fire. And
now the idea is that we will go up to their picket line and see if they will
let us through to the next house, where they are imprisoning an elderly

These are Tommy’s parents AD and they have been besieged for 30 days.
Tommy doesn’t think that we should go on foot, and, alas, if he were to come
with us, they would hit him. But Peta Thornycroft, The Daily Telegraph’s
Zimbabwe-born correspondent, is made of sterner stuff. She has just been
released after four days’ detention.

“We’ll walk,” she says, and we do. We walk through the acacia and the musasa
trees. The birds are twittering, and I pretend to look around at the blue
rolling hills of the 2 500-hectare Bayley farm.
When sauntering towards a feral band of Zanu PF gangsters, do you keep your
hands in your pockets to show confidence, or do you take them out, to show
that you mean business? In, out; in, out: I don’t decide until we reach the
end of the garden, where there is a poster of President Mugabe and a
makeshift barrier on the road, and the steel-mesh gates to the elder Bayleys
’ homestead. The gates are locked and behind them, are the thugs.

They are generically called “war veterans”, though most of them are far too
young to remember Mugabe’s 1970s guerrilla war. “You are not getting the
right idea by coming here,” shouts one, with a blue forage cap. Behind them
is a smouldering log fire, surrounded by husks of the seed maize that they
have looted from this once-prosperous farm.

These people, and the thousands like them across rural Zimbabwe, are
wrecking the economy. For two years they have prevented the farm from
functioning; and when Zimbabwe finds itself in the absurd position of
importing maize-meal and cooking oil, and when inflation is running at 117
percent, Mugabe has the cheek to blame a “drought”.

The terror began in March 2000, here at Danbury Park Farm, and it is
reaching its climax. Mugabe has stolen the election by brutality and
cheating, and there is nothing now to stop him. As it happens, he was in
Libya recently, bartering Zimbabwean beef for Gaddafi’s oil.

There seems no obvious reason why he should not survive for his statutory
six more years in office. Technically, they can’t be evicted yet, since
Mugabe’s expropriation order has to be approved by the courts. The idea,
therefore, is to drive them out: to play drums all night, to hurl sexual
taunts at Trish, to tyrannise them and their workers until they can take no

“They want to poke us like chickens in a cage,” says Tommy. Tommy is not
allowed to visit his parents over the way. His mother, Bobs, has Parkinson’
s, and his father, Tom, has had a hip replacement and can hardly move.

That is why Thornycroft is so determined that we should get through to
relieve them, and she works wonders of persuasion now, as we stand at the
gateway. “I have come to see my old friend who is very ill,” she says,
miming the palsy, and eventually, with the help of a grinning police
officer, we are admitted.

“You have 20 minutes only,” we are told. As we reach the little cottage, I
am reminded of visiting my grandparents in Somerset. There are Jack Russells
and potted flowers, and at length a trembling hand unlocks the steel
shutters of the front door. It is Bobs, and she twigs immediately that we
must pretend to be related.

“How lovely to see you again,” she says to Thornycroft, and lets us in. Then
her husband Tom shuffles in on a frame. He is almost 90, and his palms are
deeply pruned and creased. He came out from Chelmsford in Essex in 1930, he
tells us, and he had only A35 (Z$400 at today’s official rate), which he
used to buy his first small plot.

“I’ve been on this farm for 70 years, and I’ve produced a thousand tonnes of
maize each and every year I’ve been here. This land was bush before I came.“

Thornycroft asks why his farm is called Danbury Park and the old boy starts
crying. “Because I came from a village near Danbury,” he says. I am afraid
that at this point I feel a bit overwhelmed myself. This is his land: he
planted it; he developed it; he bought it, and there is not a damn thing
anyone can do to help him protect it.

The old man is British, or “British Empire”, as he puts it. He has a tray of
medals earned by some uncle in the King’s service. But the British cannot
help him now. You and I may dream of some Special Air Service operation to
save the farmsteads, or some Essex-levied militia sailing up the Zambezi.

It is not going to happen. The Bayleys’ torture will go on for as long as
Mugabe wants, and there are many people who deserve the blame. As Algy Cluff
pointed out in these pages two weeks ago, there was a failure AD on the part
of the Commercial Farmers’ Union and the British government AD to see the
importance of the land reform issue. They should have done a deal with
Mugabe before he started to combine land redistribution with the rhetoric of
race hate.

One might mention the European Union, which disastrously pulled out its
observers before the recent polling day. There is Mugabe’s single most
important political ally, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who has signally
failed to condemn the election. The South Africans are effectively supplying
Mugabe with free electricity. Mbeki could pull the plug on Mugabe overnight,
just as John Vorster terminated Ian Smith.

And then there is a host of other names which are cursed on the verandas of
anti-Mugabe households. These are the white businessmen, who have connived,
actively or passively, in keeping the old tyrant in power. No doubt Tony O’
Reilly, the newspaper-to-baked-beans magnate, has long repented of Mugabe’s
visit to his Irish schloss (castle).

We now have a Zimbabwean Milosevic, a man using the themes of race hate and
land; a man so egotistical that he is prepared to ruin the country to keep
himself in power. Like Milosevic, Mugabe is illegally deploying security
forces to conduct and abet racially motivated pogroms.

Our strategy so far has been to bellow at Mugabe from afar; but he has no
difficulty in turning purple-faced British denunciations to his advantage.
Might it not be time to direct our wrath AD and penalties AD at his silent
white collaborators? (c) The Spectator
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily News - Leader Page

Another potential scam in the making

4/25/02 12:04:36 AM (GMT +2)

FOR the first time since farm invasions began in 2000, the rights of farm
workers appear to be coming in for some recognition. However, this could be
one of the many ways of opening up more doors to widespread corruption.

Early this year, the government gazetted Statutory Instrument 6 of 2002,
under which employees are entitled to compensation if a farm is compulsorily
acquired for resettlement. The history of compensation funds in this country
is that they have been looted and abused by those who least deserve to
benefit from the schemes.

The War Victims’ Compensation Fund is perhaps the most celebrated case. It
was looted by people who knew better than to disadvantage the intended
beneficiaries. It became a free-for-all. But sadly in the end, the villains
were allowed to go scot-free and most have kept their ill-gotten gains.

There were token prosecutions of the small-time looters of the fund, but the
big fish are still smiling all the way to their banks. The land resettlement
programme kicked off as a scheme intended to resettle the landless
villagers, but in the end those who eventually benefited have been top
government and political leaders in the country.

If indeed the government is setting up such a mechanism, why has it
continued to persecute and marginalise farm workers, while driving them off
the farms, which to a majority of them are the only home they have known? If
there was any sincerity in this scheme, the government would not be allowing
displacement and dispersal of the farm workers.

In order to try and ensure that the farm workers benefit from the scheme,
registers should be drawn up as farms are being seized. But still an
important consideration will be: whose responsibility will it be to compile
the list and the relevant verification mechanism?

Unless this is done, all Zanu PF supporters are going to be the first to
queue for compensation, because Zanu PF will vouch that they are farm
workers, it will take over the registration process, while the bulk of the
money will go to undeserving and “ghost” farm workers.

The government talks of compensation, yet war veterans and supporters of the
ruling party were forcing farmers to pay the workers their terminal benefits
before the farm owners were evicted. What then happens in the case of
farmers who were made to pay workers their terminal benefits?

The fact of the matter is that this was a highly extortionate exercise and
the same rogue elements are gleefully waiting in the wings for the farm
workers’ compensation scheme. Many people stand to enrich themselves through
commissions or fraudulently claiming to be former farm workers.

Ideally the best compensation package for the farm workers would be
allocating a section of the farm they have spent their entire lives working,
and where they would be able to continue to carry out farming activities.

Knowledge of the land they have worked on for longer periods will ensure
that they play a significant contribution to the government’s touted
agrarian “revolution”. If this so-called revolution is to register success,
it must first start with harnessing the potential and
resources at its disposal.

Giving the farm workers compensation while denying them access to a resource
they know how to exploit and manage is courting disaster. In the end the
whole programme will turn out to be a conspiracy to transform the whole
country into one populated by peasants and, therefore, liable to political

The “graduates” of the Border Gezi national training centre will become the
instruments with which the State subjugates the peasantry, while radio and
television will exist to extol the virtues of the leadership, but in effect
become the opium of the peasants, conditioning their minds.

If farm workers deserve some compensation, are victims of the senseless
political violence in the urban and communal areas not entitled to some form
of compensation too?

Back to the Top
Back to Index

--> Daily News

IFSW cancels world conference citing political turmoil

4/25/02 11:38:52 PM (GMT +2)

Staff Reporter

THE International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) has cancelled its 17th
world conference, which was supposed to be held in Harare, citing political
turmoil and economic instability in the country.

Douglas Machiridza, the National Association of Social Workers of Zimbabwe
(NASWZ) publicity secretary, said the conference was to be held from 28 July
to 1 August this year.

“The conference, which was to be attended by more than 3 000 delegates from
all over the world, was cancelled because of the political situation in the
country,” said Machiridza.

“The International Federation of Social Workers decided to cancel, it saying
it was not safe for the delegates.”

Machiridza said most of the delegates were insured by British companies that
refused to cover them on their visit to Zimbabwe. He said the delegates
wanted a guarantee of their safety from NASWZ. He added that they could not
guarantee the delegates’ safety, hence they had to cancel the conference.

Meanwhile, Machiridza said social workers continue to leave the country for
greener pastures abroad, with no solution in sight to reverse the situation.

He said over a hundred social workers had left the country citing
frustrating and poor working conditions.

The worst-hit is the Department of Social Welfare and the situation is set
to worsen.

Last year alone, 33 social workers from the department left for the United
Kingdom, including the department’s deputy director, Constance Mukaro, while
others joined the private sector.

Thousands of Zimbabwean doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers and other
professionals have fled the country to secure jobs in Britian’s public and
private sectors and in neighbouring South Africa. Most cited poor working
conditions in the Public Service.

Back to the Top
Back to Index