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Washington File

Washington File
07 April 2003

Mugabe Government Has Done "Enormous" Damage to Food System

(USAID Natsios testifies before Congress) (880)
By Charles W. Corey
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The ongoing repression of the Zimbabwean people by the
Mugabe government and the ill-advised land and agriculture polices
have done an "enormous amount of damage" to the country's food
security system, warned Andrew Natsios, administrator of the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID).

In testimony before the Committee on International Relations in the
U.S. House of Representatives April 1, Natsios said "the government
seems not to understand that the confiscation of the large farms by
the state and then the giving of those farms to members of the inner
circle of the ruling party and relatives of President Mugabe has done
an enormous amount of damage..." to the nation's food security.

The seizure of the farms, combined with bad management, has resulted
in an 80% reduction of food crops for this year, a "massive reduction
of food production in the country to a disastrous level," he warned.

The USAID administrator also told the lawmakers that in a relatively
prosperous country as Zimbabwe once was -- people can usually survive
one year of drought without suffering mass casualties. "They cannot do
it for two years," in a row, he warned, and the second year has begun.

The Zimbabwean people, Natsios told the committee, were among the best
educated in Africa with a 92% literacy rate along with an advanced
infrastructure and agricultural system. Mugabe "literally destroyed
that." Mugabe's Zimbabwe, he said, now stands as "one of the worst
examples in African history of gross mismanagement of predatory
government policy and of tyranny over its own people."

Natsios also accused the Mugabe regime of using food as a weapon as
has been the case in Matebeleland.

"Matebeleland is a region of the country that has traditionally been
in opposition to Dr. Mugabe and his party. They have never liked him
and never voted for him." The government, he said, has "attempted to
shut off all food distributions in those areas and prevents reporters
from going in to see what the consequence is. We are not seeing mass
starvation yet," he said, "but with the second year of reduced
harvests, we are going to face famine conditions."

Malnutrition rates are rising, he warned, "We have examples in some
provinces...of children whose parents are of the opposition being
pulled out of feeding lines and told they will not eat because their
parents supported the opposition candidates in the last election.

"There is a politicization" of food distribution going on but, he
stressed, the Mugabe government has not been able to use U.S. food aid
as a weapon. U.S. food aid, Natsios told the lawmakers, "has gone
through NGOs and the World Food Programme, and none of it has gone
through the government, nor will it go through the government. "

Underlying the Zimbabwe crisis is the general African problem of
agricultural development. Natsios stressed the importance of helping
African nations wean themselves from emergency food aid and break the
constant cycles of famine through consistent agricultural development.
Although he cited recent increases in U.S. funding for agricultural
development, Natsios characterized them as woefully short of what is
truly needed.

In 2001, USAID spent $113 million (on agricultural development); there
has been a $50 million increase this year to $163 million, he said,
but that is still not enough. And there are other competing interests
for funding such as HIV/AIDS or environmental issues that rely on
their stronger constituencies to siphon money from agricultural

"If you ask African heads of state, prime ministers, finance ministers
-- not the agricultural ministers who have a vested interest -- and
other ministers where we should be putting money in Africa, they will
all tell you agriculture because 80% of poor people in Africa live on
the farms.

"If you want to reduce poverty, you have to invest in agriculture," he
stressed. AS an example, Natsios cited three things that need to be
institutionalized to help Africa and especially Ethiopia survive its
current crisis:

-- Greater use of irrigation on a small-scale. Citing India as an
example, he said that country has not had a famine since its
independence, largely because it practices widespread agricultural

-- The utilization of new varieties of drought-resistant wheat and
maize now being developed through biotechnology in South Africa that
are specifically targeted to the African markets;

-- The education of the next generation of African scientists to
conduct appropriate research focused on what is needed in Africa.

One of the key factors in the last item, Natsios said, are the USAID
agricultural scholarships that once played so large a role in
improving agriculture in Africa and around the world. "In 1980, the
United States funded 20,000 scholarships a year in agriculture. Today,
that number has shrunk to 900," he lamented.

"I think it is scandalous that there has been such a dramatic
reduction in the number of scholarships to people from the Third World
in American universities -- to take that technology back to their own
countries and use it for their own benefit. So we are putting a new
investment into [agriculture] scholarships in the United States."

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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 4th April 2003
The Hon. Dr J. Made
Minister of Lands, Agriculture & Rural Resettlement
P. Bag 7701
Honourable Minister
Draft Memorandum of Understanding
We have considered at great length the draft document presented to us in the course of our series of meetings earlier in January and February of this year. 
In light of these talks, and in line with the statement announcing the end of the fast track land reform programme, it was expected that the continuation of Section 5 listings, the issuing of Section 8’s and aggressive pursuance of evictions, would have ceased.
Instead, many commercial farmers have been forced off their farms under duress by lawless elements, with total disregard to the legal process and standing crops remain continually under threat.  After numerous representations to various Ministry and Police officials to address these problems, the selective application of the law continues. 
This causes our members to severely criticize our decision to participate in a dialogue with the authorities that, by their inaction, appear to condone this lawlessness. We do so however, because it is clearly in the national interest that we finalize, in a broadly acceptable manner, the land reform programme.
We have some serious concerns with elements of the proposed draft MOU, as follows:
1.  The statement that “11 million hectares of land now stands acquired” and “…….and will not revert to any previous status for whatever reason whatsoever” does not acknowledge that finality in the acquisition process can only be reached in the Administrative Court, and that a great deal of litigation remains outstanding. Clearly we cannot be party to a statement which appears to have the intention of denying farmers their constitutional right of access to the court if they are to be dispossessed, should they wish to do so.
2. Similarly, by inference, your intention to render every farmer a tenant on State Land implies that the entire land resource is to be nationalized.  If it is Government’s intention to implement this retrogressive policy, that should be made widely known to all affected parties.
The implications of these elements of the proposed MOU are so severe that it will not be possible for us to proceed on that basis. We therefore urge Government to reconsider their draft so as to incorporate the basic principles of commercial agriculture as listed below,
1.             Security of land tenure
2.             Law and Order
3.             Viability and Sustainability.
Arising from the above we have developed a Document of Principles.  The document encompasses a practical proposition that requires the State to focus its policies on maximising production and development.  The Commercial Farmers Union believes that these principles will be seen in a favourable light by all parties, and will benefit the Nation as a whole.
The Commercial Farmers Union wishes to point out that contrary to the unacceptable insinuation made in the draft MOU, we are an apolitical organization representing the best interests of its members only, with no foreign influence whatsoever.
In the interest of progressing the talks on the future of commercial agriculture, we stand ready to play our part in the incorporation of these principles into the land reform process. 
By way of return, kindly let us know what the position of Government is towards Commercial Farmers Union and the role we can play?
Yours sincerely
Colin Cloete
President, Commercial Farmers Union
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            Mbeki decries 'force fed' democracy
            April 07, 2003, 17:00

            Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, said today that
Africans could be the next victims of global bullying after the US-led
invasion of Iraq.

            "The prospect facing the people of Iraq should serve as
sufficient warning that in future we too might have others descend on us,
guns in hand to force-feed us (with democracy)," Mbeki said.

            "If the United Nations does not matter why should we, the little
countries of Africa think that we matter and will not be punished if we get
out of line?" he said in remarks prepared for a conference on elections,
democracy and governance.

            South Africa has opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq and urged
the US and Britain to use the UN to deal with Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi

            Mbeki, South Africa's second elected president since the end of
apartheid in 1994, said there was no one-size-fits-all model of democracy.

            "Great Britain does not limit the period during which a person
may hold the position of Prime Minister, to say nothing about the hereditary
position of Head of State," he said. Britain's head of state is a monarch,
who is not elected.

            Many African countries now limit the number of presidential
mandates one person can have although others still allow presidents to stay
in office for 20 years or more.

            Mbeki noted that Britain did not have an independent electoral
commission or independent human rights commission.

            "I have never heard of international observers visiting the
United Kingdom verifying whether any British election was free and fair," he

            His remarks echoed those of Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean
President, condemned by many Western nations for what they said was his
rigged victory in elections last year.

            When the US presidential election hung on a knife-edge in 2001,
Mugabe suggested sending in Zimbabwean observers as Western nations had
demanded for Zimbabwe's own elections. - Reuters
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Mugabe rival set free
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi
MDC supporters tried to stop police arresting Nyathi
Zimbabwean police have arrested an opposition spokesman, just minutes after freeing another leader of the Movement for Democratic Change.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi was detained as he attended the bail hearing for MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda.

The two were arrested in connection with last month's two-day anti-government strike.

Mr Sibanda was freed on bail of 1m Zimbabwe dollars ($1,200) after spending eight days in custody.

His bail hearing last Thursday was postponed until Monday because the magistrate's daughter was ill, according to the privately-owned Daily News.

Riot police

He was barred from leaving the country, meaning that the MDC's top three leaders are all unable to leave Zimbabwe.

Leader Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary general Welshman Ncube had to surrender their passports after being charged with treason ahead of last year's controversial presidential election.

"The regime's actions are symptomatic of a regime that is panicking," Mr Ncube said.

Riot police had to be summoned to disperse angry MDC supporters who were trying to stop the police from detaining Mr Nyathi, reports the French news agency, AFP.

Some 600 MDC activists have been arrested since the strike - many say they were tortured.

The authorities say that the MDC planted explosives on a bridge and bombed offices of the ruling Zanu-PF party and this is why people are being arrested.

They deny that anyone was tortured.

The MDC says it is still to decide on what action to take after President Robert Mugabe ignored a 31 March deadline for him to stop persecuting political opponents.

Last week, Mr Nyathi told BBC News Online that the MDC was carefully considering the "risks" of embarking on more anti-government protests.

"We don't want to draw our people into an ambush," he said.

Subject: MDC News Alert - Vice President Sibanda Released, Paul Themba Nyathi Arrested

MDC Vice President Gibson Sibanda, in custody for the past eight days while awaiting a ruling on a bail application, was released this morning on a $1m bail, plus conditions.
Party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi was arrested soon afterwards. Details of the latest arrest are still sketchy. A comprehensive statement by the Information Department will be issued later.
President Tsvangirai arrived in Bulawayo a few minutes before Sibanda's release. He is expected to spend the day with him in the city before holding a series of meetings with senior party officials in various party structures.
Mr Tsvangirai is being accompanied by his wife, Susan.
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We would like to congratulate the authorities in recognizing the
shortcomings of the citizenship act.  The article in the Daily News of the
3rd April implies that Government has granted all SADC citizens that were
resident in this country at independence in 1980 the right to citizenship.

This is good news to thousands of people especially farm workers who have
until now been denied birthright and citizenship in the country of their

We urge the authorities to get this information to the grass roots of the
administration to help speed up the process.

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            Plans to send SA grain to Zimbabwe well under way
            April 07, 2003, 19:00

            Plans to send over R85 million worth of South African grain to
Zimbabwe are well under way. In a project driven by the World Food Program
(WFP), South African grain is being loaded onto lorries at grain silos
throughout the country.

            With over seven million Zimbabweans facing starvation, the grain
can't be loaded fast enough. At Bultfontein, in the Free State, over 10
trucks a day load their precious cargo and head back to Zimbabwe.

            In the coming month, Bultfontein silos will send some 10 000
tons of maize north of the border. The maize has been donated by South
Africa and the WFP is responsible for its transportation and distribution.

            The grain bound for Zimbabwe makes up about half of South
Africa's R170 million grain donation for countries in need in Southern
Africa. That is a total of over one million tons of grain. The first of the
maize en route to Zimbabwe is expected to be ready for distribution by the
end of this week.
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Unified grid a must for Nepad - Eskom
Posted Mon, 07 Apr 2003

State-owned power utility Eskom said on Monday a unified power grid was
essential for the realisation of the dream to revive the African continent.

Eskom is leading a campaign to light up the continent with a unified grid by
2010. In a paper presented at the three-day Commonwealth Business Council
Africa Investment Forum, Eskom said building large power highways across
Africa was a challenging long-term concept.

It said this concept should be implemented for the New Partnership for
Africa's Development (Nepad) -a the blue-print for the continent's economic
rescue - and the African Renaissance to become realities.

Nepad is modelled on the US Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World
War Two and aims to rehabilitate the continent's infrastructure.

Eskom in partnership with the Development of Southern Africa last year
launched an African Energy Fund to develop the electricity infrastructure on
the continent.

"In the short-term, it might become more practical to build an African grid
a piece at a time by interconnecting each African country with its immediate
neighbours," said Eskom.

The African grid will centre around the expansion of the giant Inga Hydro
Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at an estimated cost of
more than $1.0-billion, and the linking up of the continent's regional power

Eskom - one of the world's largest power utilities and Africa's biggest in
terms of capacity - is heavily involved in the continent, with projects in
about 31 countries.

The Inga project, the largest single hydropower initiative in the world,
already has completed two phases with a combined capacity of 1775 megawatts.
When the third phase comes on line by 2010 it is expected to have a capacity
of 3500 megawatts.

President Thabo Mbeki said a week ago that Namibia, Angola, South Africa and
Zimbabwe were working on a common grid linked to Inga. Zambia is already
connected to the Congo grid.

According to figures presented at the conference on Monday, Africa's hydro
generating capacity is currently around 22 percent while thermal capacity is
at 76 percent.
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      07 Apr 2003 17:22:21 GMT
      Zimbabwe opposition says spokesman arrested


By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE, April 7 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police arrested the main opposition
MDC's spokesman on Monday, the party said, and the army accused the MDC of
using deserters to destabilise the country.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accuses President Robert Mugabe's
security forces of waging a crackdown on the opposition since it led one of
the biggest protests against Mugabe's 23-year rule last month.

On Monday, the MDC said police had arrested information secretary Paul
Themba Nyathi in the southern city of Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold,
but police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was not aware of the arrest.

Nyathi's lawyer Nicholas Mathonsi said police charged him with contravening
security laws in connection with the protest strike.

The army said deserters were approached by the MDC to carry out acts of
violence during the strike.

"The arrest of Nyathi adds to a growing list of MDC leaders and party
activists who have become victims of Mugabe's incited crackdown on the
opposition," the MDC said in a statement.

"The regime's actions are symptomatic of a regime that is panicking as it
finally dawns that its time is up. The regime has declared war on the people
of Zimbabwe."

MDC Vice-President Gibson Sibanda, arrested last week on charges of plotting
to overthrow the government and detained while his hearing was repeatedly
delayed, appeared before a Bulawayo court on Monday and was granted bail of
Z$1 million ($1,213 at the official rate; $714 on the black market).


An army spokesman showed journalists in Harare on Monday an array of
military garb and MDC regalia allegedly found on opposition activists who
were assaulting people in the city's townships under the guise of being

Also paraded were 23 junior soldiers the army said had deserted and were
approached by the MDC to carry out acts of violence during last month's

One soldier said two MDC security agents had tried to engage him in a
campaign to bomb a series of garages ..."to start fires around the country
and cause chaos" ... during the protests.

MDC officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

Mugabe says the MDC is a puppet of Western nations trying to depose him for
seizing white-owned land, a policy critics blame for food shortages
affecting half Zimbabwe's 14 million people.

The MDC is trying to pressure African leaders to denounce Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU-PF party. To date, fellow African leaders like Thabo Mbeki of
neighbouring South Africa have stood by Mugabe, favouring "quiet diplomacy"
over open criticism.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, himself on trial on charges of plotting to
kill Mugabe, last week accused the President of trying to sow the seeds of
civil war and warned other southern African nations it could affect the
whole region.

Western governments who accuse Mugabe of rigging his re-election last year
have condemned the crackdown, in which the MDC says over 500 people have
been arrested, 250 taken to hospital and scores beaten and tortured while in
police custody.

Police say they arrested scores of people in connection with violence during
last month's strike, but deny allegations of torture. The army has also
denied that its members are involved. ($1 = Z$824 at official rates; $1 =
Z$1,400 at black market rates)
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1: Colin Cloete

Dear Ben

I find it amazing that you write to the open letter forum asking questions
of membership and assets of the Commercial Farmers Union through JAG.  I
can only speculate from the tone of your letter that you have either
forgotten all the CFU development history or you wish to create perceptions
that don't exist.  If you wanted to know these details for you own
information you should have directed your questions to me at CFU, but I
feel I need to respond to some of your questions.

· Results of a recent survey show 1824 paid up member of CFU, but only
approximately 1000 are farming, not necessarily living on their farm or
even farming their own farm, but farming.

· The late Bill Francis formed CERIN and Maize/Sorghum producers were
allocated shares in CERIN.  CERIN still operates; although some shares have
been traded, many farmers still have CERIN shares.

· ART farm was initially formed by the Commercial Oil Seeds Producers
Association, Commercial Grain Producers Association and Zimbabwe Cereal
Producers Association.  ART is administered by a Trust and the 3
associations concerned do not own the farm or any of the assets.  Farmers
benefit from the research and extension generated on the farm.

· The main CFU head office building is owned by a company called
Agriculture House.  The shareholders thereof are: Cattle Producers
Association, Zimbabwe Cereal Producers Association, Staple Trust, Grain
Producers Association etc etc, so I feel your insinuation that "then 100
farmers are all very wealthy men" is malicious and totally unfounded.

· No farmer who has been displaced or is unable to afford the licence fee
has been turned away as a member.  By bringing an appeal to me or my Vice
Presidents we have accommodated every single person who wishes to retain
membership - in fact when you yourself wrote to us in this regard, none
other than my current Vice President Doug Taylor-Freeme sponsored and paid
for your current licence fee in recognition of the good work you did for
the cattle industry in your day.

Let me assure you not all the 40% of the people who came to the open
meeting were 'poor chaps' who could not afford to pay their subs.  A number
used it as an opportunity for mudslinging and to create further divisions.

So while I understand you currently live in Cape Town and may be out of
touch, if you really want to know details and information please e-mail me
direct and I will be happy to oblige.

Yours sincerely
Colin Cloete
President - Commercial Farmers Union


Letter 2:



All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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Zimbabweans in Montreal, Canada, invite you to "The Black Zimbabwe Day".
Date: Friday, April 18, 2003
Venue: Lionel Groulx Metro, proceeding to 2741 Notre Dame W, cnr. Atwater & Notre Dame where speakers from Human Rights groups will address.
Time: 0930hrs EST.
Dress Code: Strictly Black.
Press contact
"Though we go to distant borders our hearts
            Will yearn for this our home
                                 Henry Olonga.
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