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Sent: 14 April 2000 17:32
Subject: Re: Press Statement

Dear All,


Smear Campaign Against MDC

Yesterday the Minister of Information, Posts and Telecommunications, Chen Chimutengwende, released to a press conference closed to the independent media, a document which purportedly outlines a secret alliance involving the MDC, the CZI and various white political forces in South Africa. The document also alleges that a plan has been hatched to destabilise Zimbabwe economically and politically, causing shortages of fuel, electricity and essential products.

The MDC dismisses this document outright with the full contempt it deserves. One does not know whether to laugh or cry: laugh, because this is such a preposterous concoction of lies mixed with inadvertent errors, or cry because of the depths to which the ruling party has sunk in order to cling to power.

The MDC condemns Minister Chimutengwende for peddling such an inflammatory, leblous document, no doubt with suspicions of its authenticity, and expresses shock that Minister of Industry and Commerce Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu’s Information Secretary, would lend his presence and weight to the occasion.

In fact, contrary to Mr. Chimutengwende’s allegation that the document was leaked to the government, this document has been circulating and has been reprinted by Zanu PF throughout the country, including at provincial branch level over the past three weeks. Indeed, it was recently published in the ruling party’s propaganda tabloid, The Peoples Voice.

At the same time, the MDC also condemns in the strongest possible terms the state-dominated Herald daily newspaper, which today reproduced the fraudulent and defamatory document verbatim. No comment was sought from the MDC by The Herald about the veracity of this document, and no questions were raised by The Herald about the document’s authenticity. This only confirms the fact that The Herald and Zimpapers are now fully under the control of a desperate governing party – and no longer represent the interests of the Zimbabwean public at large, which is the brief of the Zimpapers chain.

For the record, the MDC specifically refutes the following:

  1. The MDC has not entered into any agreement with the various parties, individuals or governments mentioned in the document. The MDC stands only on alliance with the people of Zimbabwe – our core and growing constituency. We seek no secret alliances with forces inside or outside Zimbabwe.

  2. The MDC does seek to bring about thorough-going, positive change in Zimbabwe – by democratic, open and transparent means, not by helping to create economic and political chaos. For the record, we note with dismay and alarm that it has been ZANU-PF, which has created shortages, rampant price increases and rising tensions. It is ZANU-PF, which has single-mindedly militarised politics and political debate in Zimbabwe, by encouraging the war vets to pursue an agenda using violent means. Having created this havoc, ZANU –PF now seeks to blame a host of others, including the MDC, for its problems. However, the MDC is confident that Zimbabweans are not fooled.

  3. The MDC respects the contribution of the war veterans to the liberation of this country. This document alleges that the MDC will repeal the War Veterans Act. This is a complete and utter falsehood. For the record, the MDC has no intention of tampering with the pensions and other benefits accorded the veterans when we come to power, and will honour in the spirit and letter of the law, the commitments of the current government.

  4. The MDC denies as baseless the suggestion that an MDC government will cut civil salaries by half, repeal land legislation and prevent meaningful land reform, and restructure the police force to establish a "racial balance". These and other suggestions in the document stand in contrast to our defined, detailed Manifesto and Programme of Action – public documents which form the basis of our programme for the upcoming elections and an MDC government.

  5. The MDC finds particularly alarming; the suggestion that we intend to form train and promote a private army. We dismiss this with utmost contempt. The MDC has a firm commitment to peaceful, DEMOCRATIC change, through the ballot box, in free and fair elections. We reject outright all types of violence and lawlessness, which only promote instability and create chaos.

    We strongly believe that the only party, which is bent on using violence to promote instability anarchy, is ZANU-PF. We once again call upon the ZANU-PF leadership, ruling party and government officials, and the state media to desist from inciting violence in the run-up to the elections. We urge all parties in the country to give Zimbabweans the opportunity to decide their future by selecting a new government in a climate of peaceful debate and contestation.

  6. Finally, the MDC expresses concern over the forging of this document and the signature of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirayi. We are reviewing the legal implications of this and other aspects of the fraudulent document.

The MDC is concerned at the deepening of ZANU-PF’s smear campaign against us with this development, and calls upon all Zimbabweans to be vigilant in the pursuit of peaceful, democratic transition to a new government and a new way of doing things.


Gibson Sibanda


Harare, 14 April 2000

Keep up the support!
MDC Support Centre
Chinja Maitiro / Maitiro Chinja
8th Floor, Gold Bridge


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Sent: Sunday, April 16, 2000 4:15 AM
Subject: Zimbabwe News: 15/04/2000

Zimbabwe Family Farm Occupied     - AP   
Zimbabwe Veteran Leader Defiant on Farm Invasion     - Reuters
Zimbabwe Family Farm Occupied
The Associated Press
Apr 14 2000 1:52PM ET

CHINHOYI, Zimbabwe (AP) - At the ominous sound of distant drumbeats, Glynis Purkiss' gentle smile disappears in a wave of anxiety.

For the past 10 days her white family's farm has been occupied by black squatters demanding, at the very least, a good chunk of land for themselves. The squatters' drumming has been a near-constant, vibrating reminder of the fight over white-owned farms simmering throughout Zimbabwe.

``We'll certainly be pushed off rather than go. It's worth fighting for,'' the 38-year-old former nurse said from the safety of the gated homestead inside her family's 7,400-acre farm.

In this agriculture-dependent country of 13 million where 4,000 white farmers own one-third of the productive farmland, thousands of squatters have occupied more than 900 white-owned farms.

The High Court on Thursday backed the farmers and ordered authorities to remove the squatters. But President Robert Mugabe, who has backed the squatters, refused to follow earlier court rulings to remove them. And police did not appear to be making any moves Friday, though there were scattered reports of some squatters preparing to leave farms on their own.

Mugabe's government has argued that police action against the squatters - many of whom are armed with clubs, knives, spears and guns - could trigger a civil war. Opposition politicians say Mugabe instigated the occupations as a distraction from the unemployment and inflation crippling the country as it prepares for parliamentary elections.

After the court Thursday ruling, Vice President Joseph Msika appealed for the squatters to leave. But squatters may have gotten a different signal from Mugabe.

Speaking from a summit in Cuba, Mugabe continued to sound a defiant tone despite international criticism. He again threatened to use a new constitutional amendment to seize white-owned land without compensation.

``I want to assure you that the land will be acquired, sanctions or no sanctions,'' he said in Havana on Thursday.

Some squatters say they are frustrated because government plans to buy some of white-owned land and redistribute it to landless blacks have foundered since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980.

``It's been 20 years now since independence, but there is no change,'' said Juma Madariki, a 34-year-old squatter sitting outside the gate to Purkiss' house. ``At least I should get something to better myself.''

If history is any guide, land reform is not the key to prosperity for impoverished Zimbabweans. Many of the more than 70,000 families that have been given repossessed land in the past have had little money to buy seeds and tools and have become subsistence farmers. Others have simply abandoned the farms.

Land inequity is not even the real problem, Madariki said. It is simply a symbol highlighting Zimbabweans' economic despair.

``We are sufferers, really we are sufferers,'' he said. ``Poverty is our motto.''

All the unrest has perplexed Purkiss and her husband, Arthur, 43. Arthur Purkiss traditionally enjoyed good relations with his black neighbors and is well-liked, even by Madariki and the other squatters.

``We're not even politically minded,'' Glynis Purkiss said. ``We've just been dragged into all this.''

Arthur Purkiss' father bought their hilly farm as uninhabited bushland in 1952. Now, with about 600 arable acres, it is mostly used to breed cattle and raise game for hunters to stalk.

When squatters began occupying farms across the country at the end of February, the Purkiss farm 100 miles west of the capital, Harare, was spared at first.

Then, on April 3, a group came to his gate and demanded Purkiss sign over his land.

He refused, and the squatters took up camp just outside the gate, screaming and threatening him for two days until police forced them to move further from the house. But they periodically returned to yell at the family.

``I've been trying to keep it cool, but it's difficult when they are thrashing at the gate and calling you all sorts of names,'' Arthur Purkiss said.

Worried for the safety of her 11-year-old daughter, Kelly, and 13-year-old son, Sean, Glynis Purkiss stays awake in her living room late into the night until she feels confident the squatters are sleeping.

In recent days, the squatters have begun surveying the land and putting down pegs to mark the areas they plan to farm.

The occupation has placed strains on the farm's 40 laborers. Some sympathize with the occupiers but question their methods.

The squatters ``are our neighbors,'' said Lawrence Chimika, 36, the farm's black foreman. ``To be on the side of Mr. Purkiss would be a problem, but to be on the side of the veterans would be a problem as well.''

The squatters have portrayed themselves as veterans of Zimbabwe's independence war who are merely seeking economic justice. But many are far too young to have fought in the battles that ended two decades ago.

A 28-year-old squatter on the Purkiss farm who identified himself as Comrade D. Kufakutamba said he and the others were trying to be reasonable and did not want all the farmer's land.

``If Mr. Purkiss gives us 10 acres, then that is that, and we will go and work those 10 acres and the rest will stay with him,'' said Kufakutamba, who smelled strongly of alcohol.

Moments later, he seemed less willing to compromise: ``The land belongs to the people.''

Despite the pressure, the Purkisses feel they have no choice but to stay.

``We don't have anywhere to go, we don't have anything else,'' Glynis Purkiss said. ``We've put it all in this farm.''

Zimbabwe Veteran Leader Defiant on Farm Invasion
Apr 15 2000 8:17AM ET

HARARE (Reuters) - The leader of Zimbabwe's land-grab campaign on Saturday rejected a court order for the eviction of farm squatters and said he would not order his followers off the white-owned farms they have seized.

``Dr Hunzvi has no power to withdraw the war veterans from their motherland,'' Chenjerai ``Hitler'' Hunzvihe told about 1,000 cheering liberation-war veterans in the grounds of the ruling ZANU-PF headquarters.

``Even if I had the power, it would be against my conscience. I didn't send them there and I cannot and I will not withdraw them,'' he said, dashing hopes that the invaders would heed calls to end the farm occupations.

Hunzvi, a doctor trained in Poland during the 1970s guerrilla war against white and British rule, has commanded the invasion over the past two months of at least 500 white-owned farms in a campaign to reverse Zimbabwe's colonial legacy.

President Robert Mugabe, 76 and in power for 20 years, has backed the invasions, saying they are a morally just response to the white domination of the country's prime farmlands.

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Sent: Sunday, April 16, 2000 12:50 PM
Subject: ZIMBABWE NEWS 16/04/2000 - FARMER KILLED in Macheke

Message just received from a friend - Farmers advised to Evacuate Macheke
Mugabe Gambles on Land Occupations - The Associated Press
Zimbabwe Squatters Kill White Farmer - The Associated Press
Farmer said killed as Zimbabwe land crisis spirals
Email received from a friend.....
Sent: Sunday, 16 April 2000 6:32


Just received a phone call from my mother to say that ALL the farmers in the MACHEKE/VIRGINIA district were advised to move to safety because people were being bused in to remove the farmers and destroy everything. Everyone left within hours. My parents, brothers, sister and all their families are safe in Harare.

One farmer was assaulted and another was abducted and taken away in his own vehicle after his labour were beaten up. Several other farmers tried to follow and are now unaccounted for. I do not know what is to become of all the farm labour. All farmers wives and children are safe. As of this time there are NO white people in the whole of the district, except perhaps the men who are unaccounted for.

Mom said to watch BBC as there were reporters present at some stage somewhere in the area. So now where do we go from here????? I am feeling very helpless at the moment, along with a variety of other emotions!!!!!

Mugabe Gambles on Land Occupations - The Associated Press
Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Reeling after an unprecedented electoral rebuke,
President Robert Mugabe sought to shore up his flagging popularity among
Zimbabwe's landless poor by backing armed black squatters' illegal occupation
of white-owned farms.

But 20 years after he led his country to independence as an international
hero of African liberation and democracy, Mugabe is now being branded a
despot for ignoring court rulings to evict the violent squatters.

And with the country wracked by an economic crisis as parliamentary elections
loom, it is unclear whether his gamble has won him any of the support he so
desperately needs at home.

Last week, Mugabe canceled deeply symbolic parades and ceremonies marking the
20th anniversary of freedom from white rule in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was
known before independence on April 18, 1980. The events were scrapped, he
said, to save money to help Zimbabwean flood victims. But he likely feared
the jubilant crowds that once packed his rallies would be replaced by
protesters and possible violence between rival parties.

``His ship is sinking. There's nothing to celebrate and he knows it,'' said
Isaac Maphosa, director of the National Constitutional Assembly, an alliance
of opposition and reform groups.

Inflation soared last year to a record 70 percent, and corruption and
economic mismanagement have been blamed for acute gas and power shortages
since December that have crippled the economy.

Zimbabweans were further alienated by Mugabe's foreign policy: They watched
their health, education and social services decline while Mugabe spent
precious foreign reserves deploying 11,000 troops to back embattled President
Laurent Kabila in the Congo civil war.

In this agriculture-dependent country of 13 million, 4,000 white farmers own
one-third of the productive farmland, and Mugabe has tried to use land
redistribution to his political advantage. But in February, voters rejected a
new constitution that would have allowed the government to seize white-owned
farms without paying compensation.

Mugabe quickly set up the current crisis in the wake of that rare electoral
defeat. He said landless blacks would take matters into their own hands by
seizing farms from the comparatively wealthy descendants of colonial-era
British settlers.

Within days, thousands of men armed with clubs, axes and guns occupied more
than 900 farms across the country. Many of the squatters were being paid;
some said their money was coming from ruling party activists.

According to the human rights group Zimrights, most Zimbabweans believe
Mugabe personally orchestrated the occupations ahead of elections expected to
be called in May.

Only a direct order from Mugabe can end the occupations, Zimrights chairman
Nicholas Ndebele said. Vice President Joseph Msika appealed Thursday for
squatters to leave peacefully, but on Saturday, an occupation leader told a
cheering crowd at the ruling party's Harare headquarters that squatters will
continue their takeovers.

Mugabe, an austere, 76-year-old former school teacher, has described the
occupations as a democratic protest. He has appeared unmoved by reports of
violent assaults on white farmers, insisting the occupations have been mostly
peaceful and declaring they are not a campaign against all the nation's
70,000 whites.

``It is not a fight against whites as such, it is a fight against a
particular section of the whites who have the land,'' he said recently.

The whole crisis is an embattled ruler's scheme to keep power, Maphosa said.

``He has very little left to bargain with but land, and it's backfiring on
him,'' he said.

Land inequity simply is not the main issue for voters, who worry about
further disruptions to the agriculture-based economy, Ndebele said. Most
people see unemployment and worsening economic hardships as their main
grievances, according to a recent Gallup poll.

After years of virtually unchallenged rule, Mugabe's troubles began three
years ago, when leaked government documents showed politicians, military
officers and ruling party officials looted $35 million from a war veterans
pension fund.

Impoverished veterans demonstrated against the government, forcing Mugabe to
award 50,000 of them pensions that drew $300 million from state coffers. That
worsened the government's debts and angered Western donors and financial
institutions, including the International Monetary Fund.

When the IMF froze loans to Zimbabwe last year, partly because of the costly
Congo deployment, Mugabe described the institution as ``the devil incarnate''
for imposing Western economic reform targets on African governments.

But in what became a common saying, many Zimbabweans attributed their
deepening economic hardships to a different IMF: It's Mugabe's Fault.

Zimbabwe Squatters Kill White Farmer - The Associated Press


HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Squatters occupying white-owned land shot to death a
farmer and abducted four others, farmer leaders said Sunday, a killing that
could deepen the crisis over Zimbabwe's tense land standoff.

David Stevens was abducted from his occupied property near Macheke, 75 miles
east of Harare and driven into the bush where he was shot dead, said
Commercial Farmers Union officials.

Four of Stevens' neighbors who went to his assistance after he was confronted
by squatters Saturday were abducted and their whereabouts were not
immediately known, the union said.

Another neighbor, John Osborne, who witnessed the killing, said Stevens - in
his 40s - was hit in the head and back by shotgun blasts, the union said.
Osborne was beaten by the group of squatters and hospitalized, it said.

It was not clear how Osborne escaped.

It was the first reported slaying of a white farmer in the criss over illegal
land occupations of white-owned farms by squatters backed by in Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling party.

Mugabe has refused to force an end to the occupations, describing them as a
justified protest against the ownership of one third of the nation's
productive land by the descendants of British settlers. Opponents have
accused him of backing the squatters' to pull in support in upcoming

But his government on Friday appealed for an end to the stalemate, a day
after the High Court ordered police to evict the squatters.

On Saturday, a group of former guerrillas in the bush war that led to
Zimbabwe's independence vowed to continue their takeovers, a leader of the
occupations said Saturday.

Chenjerai Hunzvi, head of the National Liberation War Veterans Association,
said Saturday he was powerless to order squatters led by war veterans to
leave white-owned land.

``If there are human rights, we have right to our land ... and that must be
respected,'' Chenjerai Hunzvi, head of told about 500 cheering supporters at
the ruling party's headquarters in Harare. ``The redistribution of land must
be speeded up.''

Zimbabwe's 4,000 white-owned farms comprise about a third of the country's
productive farmland, while millions of blacks are landless and impoverished.
Since the end of February, thousands of squatters armed with clubs, axes and
guns have invaded at least 900 white-owned farms and demanded the farmers
sign away their land.

Police resisted the High Court order to evict the squatters. They have said
they lack the resources to act against the armed invaders and that doing so
could end in violence.

Instead, police mounted a massive security operation in the capital on

As police helicopters swooped overhead, officers erected roadblocks at the
approaches to the city center, searching vehicles for weapons while riot
police deployed across the city. Assistant Commissioner Emmanuel Chimwanda
said the operation was aimed to avert possible political unrest ahead of
upcoming elections.

Hours after the High Court made its ruling Thursday, Vice President Joseph
Msika asked the squatters to abandon the occupied farms and said the
government wanted to end the standoff amicably.

But on Saturday, Hunzvi told his cheering and singing followers that he did
not respect any court ruling that he believed was unfair. He said he could
not control the actions of squatters claiming their ``motherland, their

Of the white farmers, he said: ``The land has been left in their hands too

Farmer said killed as Zimbabwe land crisis spirals

By Jeremy Lovell

HARARE, April 16 (Reuters) - A white farmer was reported to have been shot
and killed late on Saturday as Zimbabwe's land crisis threatened to spiral
out of control.

Farm sources told the local television agency Mighty Movies that a white
farmer was abducted by black squatters occupying white-owned farmland with
President Robert Mugabe's support.

The same sources said later that one white farmer in a group that went
looking for their neighbour in the Marendera district east of Harare was shot
in the face and killed during a confrontation with squatters.

Police could not immediately be reached to confirm the reports, which
escalated the two-month-old land crisis to a critical level.

BBC television reported from Harare that white farmers in the Marendera
region, scene of some of the worst clashes of the past two months, were
fleeing to the capital.

A policeman, sent to handle a clash between farmers and land invaders, and a
pregnant woman were killed in early stages of the campaign to seize
white-owned farmland for redistribution to black peasant farmers.

Farmers have been beaten and their wives forced to sing and dance for
invaders as black peasants have moved to seize land in line with a
constitutional amendment allowing the government to take farms without


But the country's 4,500 white farmers have so far tried to keep a low profile
and avoid provocative statements.

Thousands of veterans of the 1970s liberation war in the former Rhodesia have
occupied at least 500 white-owned farms, saying they are reclaiming land
taken from their ancestors by British colonial administrators.

Their leader, Chenjerai ``Hitler'' Hunzvi, told about 1,000 supporters at a
rally in Harare on Saturday that he would not recall the invaders, adding
that only Mugabe could call a halt to the land grab.

Mugabe, 76 and in power for 20 years on Tuesday, was expected back in Harare
early on Sunday from the Goup of 77 economic summit in Cuba.

``Dr Hunzvi has no power to withdraw the war veterans from their
motherland,'' said Hunzvi, a doctor trained in Poland during the war against
white rule, which ended in 1980. He adopted Hitler as a battle name during
the liberation fight.

``Even if I had the power, it would be against my conscience. I didn't send
them there and I cannot and I will not withdraw them,'' he said in Harare, a
city cordoned off by riot police and tanks.

Vice President Joseph Msika, standing in for Mugabe while he was in Cuba,
raised hopes of an end to the farm invasions on Thursday, telling reporters
it was time for the invaders to leave the farms.


Mugabe and Hunzvi quashed these expectations, with the war veterans leader
vowing to step up the occupations while the president said he would let no
one block the redistribution of the country's prime farmland.

Hunzvi said on Saturday land redistribution should start before parliamentary
elections due in May, and while the veterans were still on the farms.

Farm sources said squatters had moved off one farm in the Raffingora district
about 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Harare.

A government official said several cabinet ministers were visiting rural
districts over the weekend to encourage squatters to quit the farms and wait
for formal land redistribution.

``There is just confusion within the government. Msika thinks he is doing the
right thing, but policy and action here have always revolved around Mugabe,''
said John Makumbe, a political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe.

``The confusion we are seeing is likely to be cleared up a bit tomorrow if
Mugabe makes a categorical statement one way or the other,'' he said.

Hunzvi accused former colonial master Britain of interfering in Zimbabwe's
domestic affairs, adding: ``If the West wants to fight us they can bomb us
like they bombed Libya and Iraq but we will never surrender,''

Britain has promised to raise the Zimbabwe land issue at a meeting of
Commonwealth ministers. It has sought European Union support for pressure on
the veterans and dismissed Zimbabwe's demand that it pay compensation for
land seized from whites.

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Sent: Sunday, April 16, 2000 1:29 PM
Subject: Zimbabwe Morning NEWS: 16 April 2000

White farmer killed as Zimbabwe land crisis deepens - CNN
Tempers Close to Snapping for Zimbabwe Farmworkers - Reuters
Zimbabwean Police Defy Order to Evict Squatters - Associated Press
Britain Must Be Stronger on Zimbabwe Ian Smith
Zimbabwe Opposition Says Exiles Must Oust Mugabe
Farm murder raises stakes in Zimbabwe's land battle - The Times
Opposition vows to mobilise young against Mugabe  - The Times
Mugabe's rival targets funds 'hidden abroad' - The Telegraph

White farmer killed as Zimbabwe land crisis deepens

April 15, 2000
Web posted at: 8:09 p.m. EDT (0009 GMT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- A white farmer was reportedly shot to death by black squatters in Zimbabwe as the 2-month-old land occupation crisis there took a fatal turn, farm leaders said Sunday.

The dead farmer was abducted from his occupied property near Macheke, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the capital Harare, and driven into the bush where he was shot dead, said Commercial Farmers Union officials.

Union officials identified the victim as David Stevens. They said Stevens was the first white farmer killed in a tense standoff between landowners and squatters backed by President Robert Mugabe 's ruling party.

Four of Stevens' neighbors who went to his assistance after he was confronted by squatters Saturday were abducted, and their whereabouts were not immediately known.

A fifth neighbor, identified as John Osborne, witnessed the shooting of Stevens, the union said. Osborne was beaten by Stevens' assailants and was being treated in a hospital in the provincial center of Marondera, union officials said.

The killing is expected to severely deepen the crisis over illegal land occupations in Zimbabwe, which began in February. On Saturday, a group of former guerrillas in the bush war that led to Zimbabwe's independence vowed to continue their takeovers of white-owned farms, defying a High Court ruling and a government appeal for them to leave the farms, a leader of the occupations said Saturday.

Anxiety grows with new round of abductions

A previously reported abduction of a white farmer on Friday sent dozens of white farming families to seek the safety of the nation's capital, a representative of the farmers' union said.

The farmer abducted on Friday was taken by a group of Zimbabwean war veterans, said Dave Hasluck, spokesman for the union. Hasluck said the abductors took the farmer to a police station in Murewa. Four other farmers tried to rescue him Saturday, but were unsuccessful after a skirmish with veterans left one farmer with a concussion and head injuries.

The injured farmer, hospitalized Saturday in Marondera, said there was shooting when they tried to rescue their comrade, Hasluck said. The abducted farmer, who was not identified, was reportedly targeted because he had ordered his work force to fight the veterans off his land; his fate was not immediately clear.

Friday's abduction occurred in the Virginia region, 95 kilometers (60 miles) east of Harare. In the wake of the abduction, the ensuing altercations and rumors that armed veterans were in the area Saturday, more than 40 white farming families have moved to Harare.

The abductions on Friday and Saturday are the latest of several such incidents during the past few weeks. Officials said the abductions usually end peacefully, with the veterans holding farmers for a few hours or a day.

Opposition to Mugabe grows

The land crisis in Zimbabwe began in February when veterans occupied hundreds of farms owned by white former colonists in Zimbabwe, formerly the British colony Rhodesia. President Mugabe is supporting legislation that would allow white farmers' land to be seized without compensation.

Opposition to Mugabe's 20-year rule is growing and experts have said the embattled president is trying to garner support by allowing black squatters to invade white farms.

The emotional land issue has dominated Zimbabwean politics since independence in 1980 -- white landowners make up a tiny percentage of the population but own 75 percent of the best productive land.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday told exiles living in Britain that they must return to Zimbabwe and oust Mugabe.

Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, told more than 1,000 people at the Methodist Central Hall in London that Mugabe had become a dictator and must be removed from power.

On Thursday, Mugabe's vice president called for the veterans to obey repeated court orders and disperse, saying the country's land could be redistributed by constitutional means. Police on Saturday defied the courts, instead mounting a massive security operation in the capital.

Police have said any action against the armed invaders could end in violence.

Meanwhile, a leader of the squatters vowed to continue to occupy hundreds of white-owned farms.

"If there are human rights, we have right to our land," said Chenjerai Hunzvi, leader of the National Liberation War Veterans Association, a group that has led land occupations. "The redistribution of land must be speeded up," he told about 500 members of his group.

Reporter Bob Coen, The Associated Press and Reuters

Tempers Close to Snapping for Zimbabwe Farmworkers

MVURWI, Zimbabwe, April 15 (Reuters) - Tempers are fraying on Zimbabwe's farms, where thousands of so-called war veterans are threatening the lives of farm workers, stopping their work and putting their livelihoods at risk.

Labourers on the predominantly white-owned commercial farms have been reluctant to speak to the media fearing attacks from the invaders, who have at times assaulted them with axes, sticks and machetes.

"These people are afraid and angry," farm owner Heinrich von Pezold told Reuters on Saturday. "They want to move them on in their own way. My aim is to keep the peace on my farm. But I don't know how long I can do this for."

Four farm workers were injured, one critically, on Thursday when alleged war veterans returned to a farm near Harare from which they had been chased by workers a few days before.

Thousands of veterans of the war to end white minority rule in the former Rhodesia, and crowds of youths, have taken more than 500 of the country's 4,500 commercial farms in the past two months, demanding the land they say the British stole.

The invasions, endorsed by President Robert Mugabe, have crippled the predominantly white-owned farms that are the backbone of the country's collapsing economy with unemployment at over 50 percent and interest rates above 60 percent.

Farmers and farm workers have been attacked with clubs, and many landowners have either been forced off their farms or had to sign away large tracts of land to the invaders.

Von Pezold, 27, runs the 22,000 hectare (54,360 acre) Forresters farm his Austrian parents bought in 1988, 80 km (50 miles) north of Harare.

It is one of the largest tobacco farms in the world, also producing maize, wheat, soya, citrus fruit, beef and a prize breeding herd of the humpbacked Borana cattle.


Farm supervisor Duncan Hamilton said the farm directly employed 2,500 workers and indirectly supported more than 20,000 of their dependents.

"It is not just a farm. It is a whole village," he said.

Von Pezold was attacked by the so-called veterans on Thursday, but saved by Hamilton and the workers.

Zimbabwe's High Court on Thursday rejected police complaints and confirmed an order it granted in mid-March to evict the veterans from the farms. The police have appealed the decision.

Acting President Joseph Msika also called on the veterans to quit the farms, but in an interview at the G77 summit of developing nations in Cuba, Mugabe sat firmly on the fence.

By Saturday, only a handful of invaders had quit the farms.

"There is damage across the whole farm," von Pezold said, referring to next year's crop. "It is severely damaged already. We are running around doing crisis management, not farming any more. The damage is huge."


Von Pezold, Hamilton and assistant manager Noah Goriyati all agreed land reform was necessary in a country where the white one percent of the population owns some 70 percent of the land. But they stressed the invasions were not the right way.

"There is lots of room for land reform in this country and it can be done peacefully," von Pezold said. "There is a lot of land available."

But all three said the key was not handing out free land in small, subsistence style parcels to all comers. Money, infrastructure and training were all essential ingredients.

"If they give them land but no money, that is the worst thing. You can not run land without money," said Goriyati, who said his own ambition was to buy a tobacco farm in a few years when he has learned all he can from Hamilton and von Pezold.

But for Hamilton, the dark cloud of the land invasions, bloodshed and fear also had a silver lining.

"We have been talking for years about integration and everybody avoids the issue," he said. "It is not only whites, it is blacks as well."

"This (the invasions) has not split the white community, it has integrated the blacks and the whites," he said, noting the importance to the whole country of the farming industry. "All I can see at the end of the day is good coming of it."

Copyright 1999 Reuters.
Zimbabwean Police Defy Order to Evict Squatters

April 15, 2000
Web posted at: 10:59 AM EDT (1459 GMT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Police resisted obeying a court order to oust squatters from white-owned farms Saturday and instead mounted a massive security operation in the capital.

As police helicopters swooped overhead, officers erected barricades on the road leading to the city center where they searched cars and buses for weapons. Riot police also were deployed, said Assistant Commissioner Emmanuel Chimwanda, the operation commander.

Meanwhile, a leader of the squatters vowed to continue to occupy hundreds of white-owned farms despite a High Court ruling and a government appeal for them to leave.

"If there are human rights, we have right to our land," said Chenjerai Hunzvi, leader of the National Liberation War Veterans Association, a group that has led land occupations. "The redistribution of land must be speeded up," he told about 500 members of his group.

Since the end of February, the armed squatters have invaded at least 900 white-owned farms and demanded the farmers sign away the land. The courts have repeatedly ordered the police to evict the occupiers, but the police have refused, saying they fear any action against the armed invaders could end in violence.

But Saturday's mobilization of thousands of police showed they have the capability to bring downtown Harare to a virtual standstill. The operation effectively sealed off the city center for several hours, leaving parking lots virtually deserted during busy shopping hours.

Chimwanda said no violence was reported. He called the security campaign a measure to avert possible political unrest ahead of upcoming elections.

The Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition group, said it had no rallies or protests planned in Harare on Saturday.

Two weeks ago, 15 people were injured in downtown Harare when ruling party militants and men claiming to be ex-guerrillas attacked opposition protesters with iron bars, clubs, bricks and wire whips.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Saturday that police will appeal a High Court ruling ordering them to remove thousands of black squatters from white-owned farms throughout Zimbabwe.

The country's High Court insisted Thursday that the police must evict the squatters, but Attorney General Patrick Chinamasa said the police were appealing to the Supreme Court because they were unable to carry out the lower court's order.

"The police are willing to abide by the judgment of the court, but regrettably lack the necessary resources to enforce the order," Chinamasa was quoted as saying in the Herald.

President Robert Mugabe has backed the squatters, calling their actions a justified protest against unfair land ownership.

Zimbabwe's 4,000 white-owned farms comprise about one-third of the country's productive farmland, while millions of blacks are landless and impoverished. Government plans to buy some of the land and divide it into plots for blacks to farm have repeatedly bogged down in the 20 years since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.

Britain Must Be Stronger on Zimbabwe Ian Smith

LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - The former leader of renegade Rhodesia, Ian Smith, said in an interview published in Britain's Sunday Express newspaper that the London government should take a stronger stand against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his plans to dispossess white land-owners there.

Land has been an emotive issue in Zimbabwean politics since independence in 1980, with a tiny minority of whites still owning the great percentage of the best farm land in the country.

"Robin Cook (foreign secretary) and Tony Blair (prime minister) can be strong and should be stronger. They are procrastinating," Ian Smith said.

"I think Britain should be more vocal, lay open the truth about Zimbabwe...lobby other African leaders to put the pressure on Mugabe, turn the screws on him," he added.

Smith led Rhodesia's unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) from Britain in 1965. His regime fought a long bush war with black guerrillas, which culminated when Mugabe took power as leader of an independent Zimbabwe in 1980.

In the Sunday Express, Smith bitterly attacked Mugabe, saying the leader and his associates had destroyed the country's economy and had already appropriated two million acres (800,000 hectares) of white farmland for themselves.

The British government has been a leading critic of Mugabe during the two-month old land seizure campaign.

Opposition to Mugabe's 20-year rule is growing and experts have said the embattled president is trying to garner support by allowing black squatters to invade white farms without fear of reprisal.

Copyright 1999 Reuters.

Zimbabwe Opposition Says Exiles Must Oust Mugabe

LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday told exiles living in Britain that they must return to Zimbabwe and oust President Robert Mugabe.

Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, told more than 1,000 people at the Methodist Central Hall in London that Mugabe had become a dictator and must be removed from power.

"We want you to come back home. The battle is not outside, the battle is in the changes at home. Robert Mugabe can run but he can't hide," Tsvangirai said.

"I would have died for the man (Mugabe)," Tsvangirai said on Sky television.

"But the transformation he has gone through the last 20 years is an indictment of a man who has moved away from national reconciliation to entrenched dictator," he added.

Tsvangirai, who met Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on Friday, also told the crowd that Britain must be careful not to make Mugabe into a martyr.

Opposition to Mugabe's 20-year rule is growing and experts have said the embattled president is trying to garner support by allowing black squatters to invade white farms.

The emotive land issue has dominated Zimbabwean politics since independence in 1980 -- white landowners make up a tiny percentage of the population but own 75 percent of the best productive land.

Mugabe, 76, has backed farm invasions in the former British colony, saying they are a morally just response to the white domination of the country's prime farmlands. The British government has been a leading critic of Mugabe during the two-month old land seizure campaign.

Mugabe told a Third World summit in Cuba on Thursday he would push ahead with the country's scheme to transfer land to the country's poor, stoking his standoff with Britain over the issue by saying he would ignore any sanctions imposed.

Copyright 1999 Reuters.
Farm murder raises stakes in Zimbabwe's land battle
Jon Swain, Harare
Land of extremes: protesting war veterans are desperate for land, while Mugabe and his wife, Grace (pictured, below), own four homes

THE MURDER of a white Zimbabwean farmer by a black mob last night dramatically heightened the tension in a country already thrown into chaos by a wave of farm occupations.

More than a thousand white-owned farms across Zimbabwe have been occupied since February by squatters, many of them veterans of the country's civil war.

Although a number of white farmers have been beaten, last night's shooting near Marendera, southeast of the capital Harare, appears to be the first fatal incident in an increasingly volatile battle for land provoked by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party.

The latest twist in the battle came as the opposition stepped up its campaign to expose the rampant corruption of Mugabe's regime. It is likely to be one of the principal issues in elections, whose date the president is expected to set this week.

"Corruption is monumental and has to be stopped," said John Makumbe, the Zimbabwe head of Transparency International, a watchdog organisation that ranks the country as the 48th most corrupt out of 99 studied. "It has drained resources and yet the culprits are left to live luxuriously."

Makumbe claimed that if the police made the right arrests no fewer than five members of the cabinet would be in custody on corruption charges.

Sensing the nation's angry and despairing mood as it approaches the 20th aniversary of independence this Tuesday, Mugabe promised two months ago to clamp down on graft and patronage. The police responded by arresting one of his ministers, the first seized for corruption in almost 10 years.

Kumbirai Kangai, the agriculture minister and a member of the cabinet since 1980, was charged with siphoning off £3.8m from a grain marketing board. Corruption at the board has contributed to bringing Zimbabwe's farm-based economy to its knees.

Kangai's sacrifice was seen as a belated recognition by Mugabe that corruption could be the opposition's most powerful weapon in the elections.

No further arrests followed, however, and the campaign is dismissed by critics as another political gimmick to reverse a sharp fall in Zanu-PF's support.

The attitude of some African leaders to corruption was perhaps best described by the continent's most skilful exponent of the art - Mobutu Sese Seko.

The long-time despot of Zaire, who looted his nation's treasures to amass billions abroad, once famously de-clared: "If you want to steal, steal a little cleverly, in a nice way. Only if you steal so much as to become rich overnight, you will be caught."

Even Mugabe's fiercest critics acknowledge that the Zimbabwean leader is not in the Mobutu mould but there has been a prodigious amount of graft during Mugabe's rule with tens of millions of pounds going astray from official bodies in kickbacks.

Although the president has remained relatively clean, some deals have involved close family members.

Tracking such deals is difficult. Makumbe claims that the public office which should have deeds for every real estate transaction does not hold records on property belonging to the Mugabe family.

"There is a lot of corruption but no records are kept," he said. "It is very difficult to pin down. There are allegations that Mugabe once bought a castle in Scotland. Nobody has ever proved it and he has denied it."

However, three members of Mugabe's family have been linked with recent scandals. The first is Grace Mukabo, mother of his son and daughter, whom he married five years ago.

The couple, who live between four homes in Harare, love foreign trips. Air Zimbabwe planes have been commandeered so frequently for trips abroad and Grace's shopping expeditions that the airline has been nicknamed Air Mugabwe.

Grace is also trying to sell for some £400,000 a mansion she built with money obtained in 1996 from a scheme intended to help civil servants buy their homes.

Reward Marufu, Grace's brother, was questioned by police over £13,000 in compensation - the highest such payout ever made - received for ulcers, backache and other disorders that he claimed to have suffered as a fighter in the liberation war against the white minority Rhodesian government.

Marufu recently returned from his job as No 2 in the Zimbabwean high commission in Canada after claiming diplomatic immunity to escape possible prosecution over the alleged abuse of a girl of 14.

Leo Mugabe, the president's nephew, has come under fire over deals brokered with foreign companies and over his involvement in the Congo, where Zimbabwe has committed 11,000 troops to help President Laurent Kabila in Africa's most intractable war.

Some 60% of the world's cobalt and much of its supply of industrial diamonds lie beneath the vast lands of the Congo. There are also reserves of copper, gold, manganese and zinc.

Zimbabwean generals are said to be involved in operations to exploit gold, timber and base metals, with some of the mining deals passing between Kabila's son, Joseph, and Leo Mugabe.

There are allegations, too, that the Mugabe family and a number of generals may be profiting from the operations of Zeinovashe Transport, which carries supplies to the Zimbabwean armed forces in Congo.

Zimbawe has also been linked to the mysterious business operations in the Congo of Billy Rautenbach, a former rallying champion under investigation in South Africa in connection with alleged fraud, tax evasion and organised crime.

Rautenbach, who controls a vast business empire centred on Africa and based in the Virgin Islands, was put in charge of Gécamines, the Congo's giant state copper mining company, by Kabila 18 months ago.

This happened less than a day after the Congo leader met Mugabe to discuss how to pay for Zimbabwean troops fighting for his government against Rwandan and Ugandan-backed rebels.

Rautenbach has denied knowing Mugabe, but was a familiar figure among the president's cronies. The Congo president calls him Mr Billy.

Kabila sacked him from Gécamines last year, but Rautenbach is thought to play a central role in procuring military supplies for Zimbabwean troops.

Zimbabwe's spending in the war is not known, but if the opposition Movement for Democratic Change wins the elections it will be asking Mugabe many awkward questions.

Opposition vows to mobilise young against Mugabe
Tom Walker and RW Johnson

Rallying call: Tsvangirai urged refugees in Britain to return

THE leader of Zimbabwe's beleaguered opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, promised yesterday to "mobilise" his youthful supporters to counter the increasingly anarchic forces of President Robert Mugabe.

At London's Methodist Central Hall, an enthusiastic crowd of mostly white young Zimbabweans prepared to give the union leader and former miner an ecstatic reception. Tsvangirai, 48, said his Movement for Democratic Change had no fear of Mugabe's thugs.

"They can't scare us," he said. "If the police cannot protect us, the people have the right to do it for themselves. We must mobilise the youth movement, make them conscious of what is going on."

It was the starkest warning yet to Mugabe that he may be pushing Zimbabwe towards civil war. Yet Tsvangirai insisted that a peaceful transition was still possible and urged refugees living in Britain to return and help to oust Mugabe.

He believed that both the police and the army were still impartial professional forces that were loyal to their country, not the president.

Tsvangirai also promised that, once in power, he would not encourage a witch-hunt of the present elite: "There will be no vindictiveness. But if we find evidence of Mugabe's culpability in human rights violations, our own justice system can deal with that."

Once jailed by Mugabe as a "South African spy", Tsvangirai said that by bringing his campaign to western capitals he could increase the pressure for fair elections and an end to farm occupations.

He warned his supporters to be patient: hasty retaliation against violence perpetrated by the ruling Zanu-PF party would play into Mugabe's hands.

Tsvangirai advocates stabilising the economy and creating more jobs while pursuing a "long-lasting programme of land reform that is fair, egalitarian and transparent".

He makes no promises to whites, claiming that race is not at the root of the country's problems. But he openly admits that white farming provides the backbone of Zimbabwe's foreign earnings and that "you don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg".

The next few weeks will be crucial, he believes. "Four of our people have been killed already," he said. "A lot more have had their houses burnt down and more have had to endure savage beatings.

"Every day this election campaign goes on brings more pain, more damage to Zimbabwe. I can't wait for it to be over."

Mugabe's rival targets funds 'hidden abroad'
By Philip Sherwell, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

BRITAIN will be asked to trace bank accounts and assets hidden in London by President Robert Mugabe and his associates if Zimbabwe's opposition wins the forthcoming election, his chief rival said yesterday.

Morgan Tsvangirai told The Telegraph in an interview during a two-day visit to London: "Corruption in Zimbabwe is bleeding our country dry and begins at the top. It will be our duty to establish a programme to recover the funds we have lost to corruption and punish the culprits."

The opposition leader is threatening to sweep Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party from office if the autocratic ruler allows twice-postponed general elections to go ahead next month. If Mr Tsvangirai wins, one of his first priorities will be to establish a truth and justice commission to investigate human rights abuses and rampant corruption during the Mugabe era. "Nobody is above the law."

Mr Mugabe has been a regular visitor to London during his 20-year rule, earning a reputation for shopping trips with his young wife Grace. Anti-corruption campaigners in Zimbabwe believe that the president and his friends and relatives have invested heavily in businesses and property in Britain, hiding behind front companies.

Mr Tsvangirai, 47, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, said a new government would request help from Britain to track down such assets. But he also suggested an amnesty from prosecution for Mr Mugabe if he cooperated - an offer doubtless intended to allay the fears of the ruling elite.

Threats of full-scale investigations into corruption and the Matabeleland massacres in the early Eighties are deepening the siege mentality of Mr Mugabe and his ruling party. Opposition supporters fear that they will try to use the security services to cling to power if they lose the vote.

Senior officials have openly stated that they will not countenance a handover to the "unpatriotic" MDC. Political violence is already flaring as black squatters unleashed by Zanu-PF occupy white-owned farms, and opposition supporters are attacked by government-sponsored thugs.

Even if the poll is allowed to go ahead, Mr Tsvangirai says he expects the secret police to be used to intimidate voters and attack MDC supporters. The former trade union leader knows all about such tactics. He receives regular telephone death threats and has been the target of failed assassination plots.

Mr Tsvangirai also appealed to whites and blacks who have left the country since independence in 1980 to return home after the election, to join him "in a new liberation struggle". He said: "We need their brains, their skills and their resources. After 20 years, Mugabe's independence experiment has failed. We need everyone to help rebuild our country. Colour is not important. White or black - we are all Zimbabweans."

Although only three of the MDC's new 34-member executive are white, two of them have been given the most important political roles after Mr Tsvangirai. Tony Cross, a prominent businessman, is in charge of economic policy, and David Coltart, a human rights lawyer, is the secretary for legal affairs. Both were once liberal white supporters of Mr Mugabe in his fight against the Ian Smith regime.

Mr Tsvangirai later repeated his appeal for Zimbabweans to return at a packed meeting of expatriate supporters at Methodist Central Hall. The predominantly white audience, many wearing T-shirts bearing the message 'Zimbabwe: Time For Change', gave him a standing ovation when he said: "We want you to come home."

His plea will provide political ammunition for Mr Mugabe, who accuses his rival of being a "puppet" of the whites. In a fresh smear, state-run media published a fax allegedly revealing that the MDC was training militia in league with Britain, the United States and white South Africans.

The MDC leader is unfazed by such claims. He said: "This paranoid obsession with race is a sign of Mugabe's desperation. He wants to use race to divert attention from the country's problems. We are a multi-racial and multi-ethnic movement. We are proud of that. Back in 1980, I would have died for Robert Mugabe. But he has turned from hero to villain."

Mr Tsvangirai backs an "open and fair" land-reform programme supported by British funding. A father of seven, he left school at 16 to work in a nickel mine before becoming a union leader. He describes himself as a pragmatist who has embraced the market economy. He will fly to Washington today for further meetings.

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Sent: Sunday, April 16, 2000 1:42 PM
Subject: Zimbabwe white farmer 'shot dead' - BBC: Saturday 15 April 2000

BBC: Saturday, 15 April, 2000, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Zimbabwe white farmer 'shot dead'

White farmers have been living in fear of their lives
White farmers who have evacuated the Murewa district of Zimbabwe say a farmer has been shot and killed there by supporters of the ruling party, Zanu-PF.

Commercial Farmers' Union officials say David Stevens was one of a group of six farmers abducted from a police station in Murewa, east of the capital, Harare.

One, identified as John Osborne, managed to escape and has been describing the shooting. Four others are still unaccounted for.

The BBC's Jane Standley in Harare says this appears to be by far the most serious incident to date in Zimbabwe's land crisis, which has seen hundreds of white-owned farms occupied by squatters, including many veterans of the country's war for independence.

Mr Osborne, who survived the abduction and attack but was badly beaten, told friends he saw Mr Stevens shot in the face at point blank range in the local Zanu-PF headquarters.

He said the police did nothing to prevent him and his colleagues being abducted. Mr Osborne is currently under sedation in a hospital in the provincial centre of Marondera.

The recent clashes come as President Robert Mugabe is on his way back to the Zimbabwe from the G77 summit in Cuba. He has backed the occupations.


Some 50 white families are said to have fled from Murewa district, after attacks by the war veterans who have been occupying their farms in recent weeks.

Local police are said to have told the farmers they could no longer guarantee their security.

One white Zimbabwean, Nick Arnold, who had contacted his parents by radio as they fled the area, told the BBC he could not believe current events.

"From what I can gather, it's absolutely terrible, they are absolutely terrified," he said.

Our correspondent in Harare says the situation in some areas appears to be moving out of control.

Earlier on Saturday, war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi told hundreds of Zanu-PF supporters in the capital that he had no power to order his followers off the farms in line with a High Court ruling.

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