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Saturday, April 15, 2000 3:21 AM

Subject: Forrester Estate

FORRESTER ESTATE, Zimbabwe, April 14 (AFP) - A senior member of Zimbabwe's governing ZANU-PF party intervened to prevent violence escalating after war veterans launched an attack on another white-owned farm, the farmer told AFP Friday.

Farm-owner Heinrich von Pezold, his supervisor Dunkan Hamilton and two German journalists were attacked early Thursday as they left to accompany farm workers into the fields, Pezold said.

But for the first time a senior figure in President Robert Mugabe's government hurried to the scene in order to appeal for calm.

"Between 25 and 30 men who had been watching our movements suddenly attacked us, and when I tried to escape they caught me and tied my hands behind my back," Pezold told AFP.

However, the farm supervisor and the journalists were able to make good their escape from the would-be occupiers.

"I ran towards the shelter where we keep our tractors and jumped behind the wheel, driving straight at them so they had to get out the way," Hamilton explained.

After rescuing Pezold, the supervisor barricaded the farmhouse and office building until farm workers arrived "with branches and bits of wood to repel the invaders."

Alerted by the German ambassador, the provincial governor of central Mashonaland, Border Gezi, a senior figure in ZANU-PF, arrived at Forrester Estate a few hours after the incident.

"He went to the group (of war veterans) and told them to remain peaceful," Hamilton told AFP.

The veterans who launched Thursday's attack had descended on Forrester Estate on April 9 and demanded that Pezold leave his property within 48 hours after he refused to sign over land rights.

The day before, Gezi had denounced the "criminal occupations of our land" by white farmers at a meeting in Bindura with President Mugabe.

War veterans have occupied up to 1,000 white-owned farms in Zimbabwe over the past weeks.

Zimbabwean High Court judge Moses Hungwe Chinhengo on Thursday upheld an earlier court order and called on Mugabe "to recognise that it is in the permanent interest of Zimbabwe and the rule of law to bring to an end the farm invasions" and to assist police in carrying out their duty.

But war veterans who had warned whites to brace for more invasions said they could leave the farms only on orders from Mugabe himself, who is currently in Havana for the G77 summit.

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LONDON, April 14 (AFP) - Britain glimpsed a breakthrough Friday in the Zimbabwe land controversy that has prompted a bitter row between the two countries and revived searching questions over London's role in the recent history of its former colony. A day after the Zimbabwean government ordered war veterans to stop seizing white-owned farms, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that he detected a shift in President Robert Mugabe's stance on the land issue. After weeks of championing the forcible seizure of white land, the Zimbabwean leader had started talking about the acquisition -- not the confiscation -- of farms, Cook said. "Interestingly, President Mugabe did say that the farms would be acquired," Cook said, referring to comments made by the Zimbabwe leader at a meeting of G77 countries in Cuba. "That actually is a shift in his rhetoric. "We don't have a problem helping fund a free sale on a fair price," Cook said as he prepared to host Mugabe's main political opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. "But we're certainly not going to help within a programme based on confiscation, and I'm perhaps hopeful that President Mugabe did not use that term when he spoke in Cuba," said Cook. The cautious optimism reinforced an upbeat note sounded a day earlier, when Cook announced that a "high-powered" Zimbabwean delegation would travel to London late in April to thrash out the land problem. The issue blew up in February when Mugabe encouraged Zimbabwe war veterans to occupy hundreds of farms belonging to white landowners, since when more than 1,000 homesteads have been subjected to sometimes violent invasions. Britain, the former colonial power, voiced robust objections. Mugabe, who last year referred to the British government as "gay gangsters," told London to mind its own business. British diplomatic bags were forcibly opened in Harare, prompting London to recall its envoy to Zimbabwe. Mugabe argues that Britain has no right to meddle, particularly as the former colonial power in what was Rhodesia was partly responsible for a rural imbalance which has left some 9,000 white farmers owning 70 percent of cultivable land while half a million blacks share the rest. Cook insisted Thursday that Britain had done its bit to try and help land reform in Zimbabwe, granting some 44 million pounds (69.5 million dollars, 73 million euros) since independence in 1980. "We are willing to do more but it is very important that we do it in a way that actually helps the people of Zimbabwe," Cook said, insisting that any transfer of land in the troubled southern African country must be on the basis of willing sellers, "and make a real contribution to tackling rural poverty in Zimbabwe." But some observers say that the miserly sums contributed have broken the spirit if not the letter of the 1979 Lancaster House constitutional conference on Zimbabwe, which called for up to two billion dollars to be drummed up by international donors to help resolve the land question. "Zimbabwe is suffering at the hands of Robert Mugabe, but Britain must question its own role in the country's history," opined the Financial Times on Friday. Raising a mantra of "Zimbabwean land for Zimbabweans," Mugabe has hitherto backed land seizures and fulminated against Britain as part of a strategy to mask a growing economic crisis in Zimbabwe and woo the black nationalist vote ahead of parliamentary elections next month. Opposition leaders marshalling their forces for the vote urged London not to play into Mugabe's hands. "We must be very careful that we don't push Mr Mugabe to the extent of being a martyr at this stage," Tsvangirai warned Friday. "That is eaxctly what he is looking for," he said, adding that Mugabe was actively courting "confrontation with the international community in order to win national sentiment. "Whatever avenue can be created to assist him to have some form of token land reform to satisfy his ego will be a basis of moving forward," he said.
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HARARE, April 14 (AFP) - Zimbabwe was on a knife-edge Friday as the government called squatters off white-owned farms against a background of spiralling violence, but war veterans waited for word from President Robert Mugabe who is in Cuba. "There has definitely been an upsurge in some areas in terms of violence and threatening acts" in recent days, Tim Henwood, president of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), told AFP. Henwood said there was "no sign of movement" early Friday in response to the government's call on militant squatters led by veterans of the 1970s independence war to end their invasions of some 1,000 white-owned farms. By midday, CFU spokesman Stephen Crawford told AFP, squatters were still not moving off "but it is quiet". The war veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, refused to commit himself to complying with the statement Thursday by Acting President Joseph Msika that the squatters should move off. "I don't react to the acting president's call, I only emphasise my support for the position of comrade President Robert Mugabe on the farm question," Hunzvi told AFP. Mugabe, who is in Havana for the G77 summit of developing countries, has in the past publicly supported the farm invasions, saying the squatters were simply reclaiming land stolen by colonialists. Sources close to the farm crisis say Mugabe gave his backing to Mskia's statement, which came on the same day the High Court confirmed an earlier ruling ordering police to move the squatters. The sources say, however, that the call for an end to the invasions would only have a real impact if Mugabe -- due back in Zimbabwe at the weekend -- makes it clear publicly that he supports Msika's position. Henwood said that with the state-controlled radio and newspapers carrying Msika's call prominently, the message should be getting through to the squatters. "It's very encouraging to see that our courts are still fully in support of the rule of law," he said. "It is also very encouraging to see the vice-president making a good statement soon afterwards." Several white farmers have reported houses or barns trashed, being beaten, tied up or held hostage until some signed their land over to the squatters. In some instances they have been rescued by black farm workers, graphically contradicting Mugabe's claim that the farm invasions are a natural uprising by impoverished blacks against rich whites. Instead, critics say, the invasions were a deliberate ploy by a desperate Mugabe to divert attention from his government's failings ahead of parliamentary elections due in May. They point out that the millions of blacks who live in overcrowded communal areas have not moved onto white farms despite Mugabe giving them carte blanche to do so. Police have argued that they are unable to carry out court orders to evict the squatters because there are 60,000 of them against just 20,000 police, but the CFU says the total number of squatters is about 7,000. The land issue, in which even the CFU agrees on the need for orderly reforms where just 4,000 white farmers own 30 percent of the country, is just one aspect of an intense campaign ahead of the elections. The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has attracted growing support amidst the country's worst economic crisis by charging Mugabe's government with mismanagement and corruption. It is tipped by political observers to have a real chance of ousting Mugabe's ZANU-PF party if the elections are free and fair.
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Opposition leader urges caution

Friday, 14 April, 2000, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK -BBC

Zimbabwe opposition urges caution

Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has warned against pushing President Robert Mugabe into confrontation with the international community.
"We must be very careful that we don't push Mr Mugabe to the extent of being a martyr at this stage, because that is exactly what he is looking for," he said before a meeting in London with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.
Mr Tsvangirai has accused the Zimbabwean leader of bringing the country to the brink of economic ruin by encouraging the seizure of white-owned farms.
He said he wanted to know from Mr Cook to what extent Britain had made a commitment to fund Mr Mugabe's programme of land reform.
Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), made it clear that he was in favour of such a move. "I think that whatever avenue can be created to assist him (Mr Mugabe) to have some form of token land reform, to satisfy his ego - that would be a basis for moving forward," he suggested.
He rejected the call from the British Conservative opposition to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.
Farm invaders defiant The MDC leader's comments come as Zimbabwe's war veterans insist that they will remain on the white-owned farms they have been occupying for the past six weeks.
Commenting on Vice-President Joseph Msika's remarks that the occupations were no longer necessary, the director of the War Veterans' Association, Agrippa Gava, told the BBC that they took their cue from Mr Mugabe and not his vice-president.
Mr Gava explained that Mr Mugabe had not asked them - the war veterans and other squatters - to leave the farms and so, as far as they were concerned, nothing had changed. President Mugabe has insisted that the transfer of white-owned land will go ahead, in spite of concerns from Britain and other European countries.
Speaking at the G-7 summit of Third World nations in Cuba, Mr Mugabe vowed that the land would be acquired.
"Let Zimbabweans own Zimbabwean land as Britons own British land," Mr Mugabe declared.

'Mounting concern'
Mr Tsvangirai is in the UK to raise his party's international standing. His party is attempting to unseat President Mugabe's ruling party in forthcoming parliamentary elections. In a letter published in Friday's edition of the Times in London, Mr Tsvangirai was joined by four former British foreign secretaries and other politicians in calling for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

"The world has watched with mounting concern the rising tension in Zimbabwe and the spread of violence and intimidation," the letter said.

It was signed by Lord Carrington, Geoffrey Howe, Douglas Hurd, and Malcolm Rifkind, as well as the former US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Chester Crocker, and South African politicians Helen Suzman and Tony Leon.

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One day after the Court Order, we have had reports of a few new invasions, and there is the usual movement on and off farms. However it does appear to be generally quieter and there has been no violence or damage to property today There seem to be no instructions to police in the regions from headquarters on how to react to the Court Order.

President Henwood and Vice-President Hughes have been in Bulawayo today to update farmers in the region and talk to business leaders.

At the time of writing, 1065 farms have been affected by the farm invasions, 612 of which are currently occupied. 94 properties have been invaded in the past 7 days.

Region Total affected since Feb Currently occupied
Mash Central 207 80
Mash West (South) 84 36
Mash West (North) 141 119
Mash East 210 123
Manicaland 152 85
Midlands 84 36
Masvingo 83 53
Matabeleland 95 83
TOTAL 1056 645
There will be a programme on the land issue on Carte Blanche on Sunday night (16 April), between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.


Mashonaland Central
There have been new invasions in the Mvurwi area, tense situations in Centerary, and land prep is still being stalled on some properties in Mtepatepa and Centenary. There are road blocks being set up by invaders but this appears to be politically linked.

Mashonaland East
At about 1:00 a.m. on Thursday 13 April a farmers' son (T Gerric) was returning home. He met up with a stationery vehicle, it's lights on bright, facing him. When he stopped and got out to investigate, he was assaulted. He was hit on the head with bricks and when he fell to the ground hit with sticks. He managed to get away. Police reaction was good, but no arrests have het been made.

The Retzlaff's Lonely Park has been tense but quiet and Support Unit was present today.

Chipesa Farm (Iain Kay) was reinvaded, and there are threats on the farm labourers for helping Mr Kay the last time he was assaulted.

Mashonaland West (South)
One new invasion in Battlefields. It appears that police are going to start monitoring the farm invasions in this region.

Mashonaland West (North)
One new invasion, otherwise quiet.

The region was generally quiet today. There was a new invasion in the Sherwood Block, which at this stage looks to be linked to political opposition. Good meetings have been held with the President's office regarding economic issues and the consequences of not planting a winter crop, as well as the effects on the safari businesses due to these invasions and unstable situation.

Quiet - one reinvasion today. Police are asking farmers about the amount of fuel they have.

No movement on or off properties.

On three properties the invaders moved off today.


Ruth Hutchinson
Accommodation for wives and children during school holidays. Tel 741229

Mrs Slater
House in Christian Bank
Tel: 075-2305
We have had an offer of help from Bruce Danckwerts in Zambia: Any farming families who would like their children to be hosted on farms in Zambia for the school holidays? We would suggest that their mothers come with them, at least to settle them into their foster homes. Meeting people at Vic Falls airport or Lusaka airport would be easy. Please contact the CFU should you wish to take up this offer.

Another offer from our Zambian neighbours to accommodate distressed farmers:
Contact Guy on 260-1-704626, Ron Landless by air on 704599 or land GPS S14 53 00 / EO28 03 28

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Account of LONDON Demonstration on 9 April 2000

The Demonstration - Sunday 9th April

Following is a report of this Sunday's demonstration contributed by "Paul".

As promised herewith a report from your Ipswich based correspondent !!!
We left Ipswich this morning at 1030 and upon arriving in London made our way to Zimbabwe House. We met with some Zimbabweans on the tube – always amazes me how we instantly recognise one another – a knowing smile and the little tell tale signs like the cooler box ! As they had been to the last protest they led the way to Zimbabwe House which helped us considerably.

We must have got there at about 1215 and already there were a good 300 odd people gathered. We made our way through the crowds and sat just to the side of Zimbabwe House. I wanted to take some photos (attached) and also I really wanted to sit and write what was going on as it transpired, however the police had other ideas and we were constantly pushed back and told to move even though we were well out of the way. We were all placed behind the barriers and we were right at the front which was pretty handy.

The people were now growing in numbers and from what I could see I would estimate there were a good 500 – 700 people there. Many held banners and wore Zimbabwe clothing. There was a fair amount of press coverage which was very encouraging. I don’t know where the crews were from (i.e. which TV stations) but quite a few people were interviewed and they filmed a fair amount. The atmosphere was warm and almost jovial, the crowds were chanting MDC, MDC, MDC, MDC, MDC. It was that kind of goose bumps feeling that you get when you stand in a crowd of people and you all know why you are there and you all empathise with each other.

There was not much chatter. We had a ‘leader’ of sorts who got the crowd going with WHAT DO WE WANT – crowd then roars MUGABE OUT, WHEN DO WE WANT IT – NOW !!! There were also various renditions of Ishe Komborera Africa which was quite amusing as we all tried so very hard to remember the words ! I was quite surprised Scott had forgotten the whole anthem. The banners and placards were amusing to read and very blunt in their statement ! BAN THE BOB read one. NO FARMERS NO FUTURE. I wish I could have written down the amusing ones but it was difficult to write when you are cramped in a small space. Quite a few made references to Bobs thieving ways. One said BOB’S A GOAT HE WONT LET US VOTE (referring to Zimbos in England), MUGABE SHOULD GO WITH GRACE (excellent!) One banner held by a young black guy read something along the lines of Grace must stop shopping ! VOTE ZANU PF and the F was crossed out and replaced with OFF. MUGABE APENGU INGUTCHENI AWAITS. WHAT DO WE SAY NOW – COME AND VISIT THE ZIMBABWE RUINS ?

I am sure you will be able to pick up more of the banner readings from the photos. There was talk of us marching to Downing Street but the Police would not let us out of the barriers, there was also another protest just up the road. Once the press left the crowd was pretty quiet and no-one really knew what to do. Every now and again someone would break out in to song and others would join in. When ever a tour bus passed us people would wave and show support and the crowd went wild. Cars would drive past and hoot further encouraging the crowds. One guy drove past with his Zimbabwe cricket shirt attached to his car and waving another out of his window. It was great to see such support. It was a very peaceful and controlled day.

I think that most people felt the same as we did – so ineffective but pleased to be doing something. Lets hope it gets reported and has some effect. I suppose the strangest thing for us was to see this crowd of mainly white Zimbabweans and not recognise even one ! It was pretty difficult as you were unable to walk around looking at who was there – we were pretty confined to our pozzie. We could not have asked for a nicer day – the sun shone – though the wind was chilly and not a drop of rain in sight.

People were in their shorts and tee shirts (well the braver ones !!). We hung around for about an hour and a half then we went to Covent garden to the markets and watch the street performers. We ended our day with a fine peri peri chicken from Nandos – a real treat !


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