South Africa's DP concerned about Zimbabwe
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Leader"
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2000 3:56 PM
Subject: Zimbabwe

Dear Mr Gombart

Thank you for your e-mail of 19 April 2000.

I am very well aware of the situation in Zimbabwe. I am deeply concerned
about the factors that have led to the deterioration. I value your comments
and I include my own statements and comments to date.

I have now currently approached the government for an urgent meeting so that
we can develop a plan of action on Zimbabwe.

Yours sincerely

Leader of the Democratic Party

NB.   On Thursday, 27 April 2000 (Freedom Day) at the Pinetown Civic Centre
at 11:00am we are holding a mass rally on Zimbabwe and apart from myself
there will be speakers from Zimbabwe.

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Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2000 4:46 PM
Subject: DP requests urgent meeting to discuss refugee status for Zimbabweans

19 April 2000

Press statement by Mike Waters, MP

Home Affairs Spokesperson, Democratic Party


This morning I requested an urgent meeting with the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in order to discuss whether or not the government is going to give Zimbabweans refugee status in light of the deteriorating situation in that country.

According to the provisions of the Refugee Act which came into force on 1 April, a person qualifies for refugee status if:

  • there is a well-founded fear of being persecuted by reason of his or her race, tribe, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group; or
  • owing to events seriously disturbing or disrupting public order in either a part or the whole of his or her country, is compelled to leave his or her place of habitual residence to seek refuge elsewhere.

Considering the state of affairs in Zimbabwe, where farmers and farm workers are being threatened with their lives and where members of opposition parties have been violently murdered, it certainly seems as though Zimbabweans qualify for refugee status in South Africa.

This morning the DP has verified with the High Commission in Harare that they are inundated with requests for permits and refugee status. According to a High Commission representative, people are queuing outside the High Commission from 04H00. By 09H00, the queue usually reaches about 700/ 800 people. It is at this point that the High Commission closes its doors because it simply cannot cope with the overwhelming number of people.

The DP has confirmed that no additional staff have been sent to the High Commission to alleviate pressure on the permanent staff.

It is therefore absolutely imperative that the government makes a clear statement on the question of refugee status and that it sends more staff to our High Commission in Harare in order to speed up the application process for those Zimbabweans who wish to leave.

In the event that Minister Buthelezi does not agree to a meeting, I will raise the matter in Parliament this afternoon. I will then formally hand over a memorandum to the Minister of Home Affairs.

Mike Waters: 082 9024523

Media liaison:

Lauren Winchester 082 3201836

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Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2000 9:23 PM
Subject: DP discusses Zim crisis with foreign diplomats

18 April 2000

Press statement by Tony Leon, MP

Leader of the Official Opposition


A DP delegation, led by myself, met this morning in Pretoria with ambassadors of key countries and representing South Africa’s international partners in three different continents, to discuss the unfolding situation in Zimbabwe.

The international community shares the DP’s concern about the crisis in Zimbabwe. There is a common desire to seek the speedy restoration of the rule of law, respect for human rights and restoration of democratic procedures in Zimbabwe. There is a common concern that events in Zimbabwe have the ability, if unchecked and unreversed, to destabilise our entire region.

It is a great pity that President Mbeki declined to brief the media today after his lengthy meeting with Namibian President, Sam Nujoma.

Mr Mbeki should not play hide and seek with the people of South Africa and the international community on Zimbabwe and our region. While there might be very sound and good reasons for so-called "quiet diplomacy" one is entitled, as a minimum from our government, to expect a statement of general principle on the issues surrounding Zimbabwe and on what proposed steps South Africa intends to take to reinforce all the democratic and diplomatic standards to which we adhere.

Continuous failure of President Mbeki to articulate a clear position in this regard will amount to a condonation of some of the most flagrant undemocratic processes and procedures which completely undercuts his own position as the architect of the African Renaissance and the development of a strong, stable and prosperous regional power block of nations to which we are committed.

Tony Leon: 083 2553583

Media liaison:

Lauren Winchester 082 3201836

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Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2000 11:07 PM
Subject: Letter to President Mugabe from Tony Leon

11 April 2000

His Excellency President R G Mugabe

c/o Zimbabwe Consulate

55c Kuyper Street



Dear Mr President


It is with deep concern that the Democratic Party and its supporters here in South Africa have witnessed the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe, our neighbour, our major trading partner and our fellow member of SADC.

Article 4 of the founding SADC Treaty commits member states to uphold principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. As elected chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, you have been vested with an even greater responsibility than most, to uphold these principles both within the region and within your own country.

You have served as a member of the CHOGM review committee tasked at the Durban Conference with finding ways to make the Harare Declaration on human rights and governance (1991) more effective. Yet recent events in Zimbabwe suggest that your Government has little, or no regard, for this declaration drafted in your own capital city.

It appears that the SADC Treaty and the Harare Declaration have been violated in Zimbabwe in the following instances:

Rule of law:

  • In defiance of a Supreme Court judgement outlawing the seizure of farms, the ruling party, ZANU (PF) has used its two-thirds majority in the Zimbabwe Parliament to amend the Constitution to enable the state to seize land without compensation;
  • The Zimbabwe government has done little to halt the invasion of over 600 farms by so-called "war veterans", which have given rise to a reported 50 cases of violent attacks on farmers and farm workers – and gives the appearance of active encouragement to the land invaders;
  • Zimbabwe police allegedly ignored a court order approving a peaceful demonstration against land invasions on Saturday 1 April, arrested four demonstrators, but failed to intervene when marchers were attacked by ZANU (PF) supporters.

Free, fair elections:

  • Intimidation tactics have been used, particularly on rural voters, such as the threat that there will be another war if ZANU (PF) loses the election;
  • Political opponents of ZANU (PF) have been threatened with death;
  • Troops have been deployed to prevent an opposition political rally;
  • The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has blocked advertisements for opposition parties, but has given saturation news coverage to the ruling party.

Apart from the implications of this action for the people of Zimbabwe, the implications for our own country and for the stability and development of the region, are dire:

  • one of the leading investors in South Africa, Salomon Smith Barney Inc, a US registered broker-dealer and an affiliate of Citigroup Inc states in its latest report on South Africa, that:

"The recent worsening of the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe... contributed to the recent softness in the rand and SA asset markets... were the situation in Zimbabwe to deteriorate significantly further... then SA markets probably would suffer further from concerns about regional political stability and economic growth prospects".

  • Political instability – even civil war – could result from the suppression of the growing opposition to ZANU (PF), creating humanitarian crises, including the flooding of refugees into South Africa, and further destabilising the SADC region.
  • Foreign investment in the region will be deterred by uncertainty over respect for the rule of law and property rights in the region.
  • The decline of commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe, if land is seized by the state, will reduce food exports to the region.
  • The size imbalance between trading partners, South Africa and Zimbabwe, will increase as Zimbabwe’s GDP and markets shrink.

It is therefore with concern for the people of Zimbabwe, and for the inter-dependent prospects of the entire region, that we respectfully call on the government and the ruling party of Zimbabwe to:

  1. Make a public commitment to uphold the democratic outcome of the election, should it be ruled by international observers and an independent electoral commission to have been substantially free and fair;
  2. Take immediate action against land invasions, to restore the rule of law in Zimbabwe;
  3. Revoke the Constitutional amendment that violates property rights by enabling the state to seize land without offering compensation to land-owners;
  4. Devise an urgent and realistic macroeconomic strategy to prevent Zimbabwe’s further slide into recession, contain runaway inflation and reduce unemployment and deep poverty.

We respect, obviously, your sovereign independence and we make this call with no desire to interfere in the political choices of the people of Zimbabwe. Instead, we appeal to you as neighbours and trading partners – and literally – as friends and family. For the destiny of our people is linked to that of your people.

It is in this spirit of solidarity and support that we look forward to the revival of democracy and the economic recovery of Zimbabwe.

Yours sincerely


Leader of the Official Opposition

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