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Farm Standoff, Political Violence Continues in Zimbabwe
SA Parties Denounce Lawlessness In Zimbabwe
ZIMBABWE: Public Media Refuse Opposition Advertising
Zimbabwe intimidation claim
Eyewitness: Forced off the farm
Arson Attacks Waged Over Farmland Claims in Zimbabwe
Two Killed in Zimbabwean Political Violence
State, Opposition Accuse Each Other Of Fomenting Violence
ZIMBABWE'S Tourism Suffers 50 Percent Business Reduction

Farm Standoff, Political Violence Continues in Zimbabwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Militant squatters backed by the ruling party besieged a homestead in northern Zimbabwe, leaving a white couple holed up inside for a second day Wednesday.

Police have not intervened and neighbors were attempting to persuade the squatters to withdraw. The siege came as an opposition group claimed Wednesday that a wave of political violence has been deliberately unleashed by the government in advance of expected May elections.

"It's a tense and worrying situation," Malcolm Vowles, a district union official said of the standoff Wednesday.

About 60 squatters armed with knives and clubs surrounded the home of farmer J.J. Hammond on Tuesday in the Mvurwi farming area, 60 miles north of Harare, the Commercial Farmers' Union said.

Telephone contact with the farm was lost, the union said.

The squatters -- led by men claiming to be veterans of Zimbabwe's independence war -- chased away reporters and a television crew who approached the farm Tuesday, hitting their cars with golf clubs and axes. No one was injured in the confrontation.

Some squatters were believed to have stolen firearms from a detachment of six police officers they surrounded and overpowered Tuesday, Vowles said.

At least three people have died in recent political violence, the main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change said Wednesday.

A pregnant woman died Sunday after being assaulted on her way home from an opposition rally in Mvurwi. Opposition groups accused President Robert Mugabe's ruling party of being responsible for that attack.

Mugabe has described the illegal occupation of more than 800 white-owned farms over the past month as a justifiable protest against the ownership of prime land by the descendants of British settlers.

An opposition party member died March 28 in a Harare hospital from head wounds inflicted by a stone hurled at the vehicle he was traveling in, Democratic Change said in a statement.

A police officer was shot dead Tuesday east of Harare on a farm where white landowner and opposition supporter Ian Kay was assaulted by squatters and hospitalized a day earlier. Witnesses said squatters also killed the constable.

Police have refused to evict the squatters, despite worsening attacks on farmers, their workers and opposition supporters.

"This is an orchestrated plan by the government to induce fear. If it's an indication of things to come, God help this country," said Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai. "To talk of free and fair elections in this atmosphere is a fallacy."

National elections are expected to be called in May, but opposition groups fear the government may declare a state of emergency to give it sweeping powers before the vote.

Mugabe's Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa earlier accused the opposition party of provoking violence to force the government to delay the elections.

Since December, the nation has faced the worst economic crisis since independence in 1980.

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press. 05 April 2000

SA Parties Denounce Lawlessness In Zimbabwe

Business Day (Johannesburg)
April 5, 2000
By Wyndham Hartley

Cape Town - Political parties in Parliament - including the ruling African National Congress (ANC) - have in motions to the national assembly urged Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe to ensure that the rule of law is maintained in his country.

The ANC's motion is the first time that the ruling party has voiced concern over the situation in Zimbabwe, where the executive has sanctioned the invasion of privately owned farms and the violent breakup of peaceful marches.

Opposition parties called on President Thabo Mbeki and the SA government to denounce Mugabe's support for the lawlessness taking place in his country.

Democratic Party (DP) veteran MP Colin Eglin also called on Mbeki to organise monitoring for next month's parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.

He was joined by Cassie Aucamp of the Afrikaner Eenheidsbeweging in calling for SA to take a stand on Zimbabwe because of the potential harm which instability in Zimbabwe held for SA.

Eglin asked the house to note that "the violent suppression by Zanu-PF supporters and police, of a lawful protest against land invasions, is a further violation of the rule of law in Zimbabwe; that Mugabe is implicated in this outrage; that this breach of the rule of law in Zimbabwe violates article 4 of the SADC ( Southern African Development Community Founding Treaty."

Copyright (c) 2000 Business Day.

Public Media Refuse Opposition Advertising

International Freedom Of Expression Exchange (Toronto)
April 4, 2000

Toronto - Two state-owned media organisations, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and Zimbabwe Newspapers (Ltd), have allegedly refused to air or publish Z$1 million (approx. US$26,205) worth of advertising material, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Learnmore Jongwe was quoted in "The Daily News" as saying.

In an interview with MISA-Zimbabwe, Jongwe said material submitted to Zimpapers three weeks ago appeared once in "The Herald" and "The Sunday Mail" on 12 and 13 March 2000 respectively. The MDC advertisements had been submitted through an advertising agency.

Material which consisted of the party's five priorities and excerpts from its manifesto, in English, Nebele and Shona for all four ZBC's radio channels, had been sent to the ZBC's marketing department but nothing had been aired.

Jongwe said that on six occasions, twice by letter and the rest by phone, he tried to arrange for a meeting with Richard Mlambo, the corporation's public relations manager, but all was in vain.

Mlambo professed ignorance about the corporation's refusal to air MDC election campaign advertisements, adding that he was working with Jongwe in arranging a meeting.

For further information, contact Raashied Galant at MISA, Street Address: 21 Johann Albrecht Street, Mailing Address; Private Bag 13386 Windhoek, Namibia, tel: +264 61 232975, fax: +264 61 248016, e-mail:, Internet:

The information contained in this alert is the sole responsibility of MISA. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit MISA.

Distributed by The International Freedom Of Expression Exchange Clearing House, 489 College St. Suite 403, Toronto, Ontario M6G 1A5 CANADA, tel: +1 416 515 9622, fax: +1 416 515 7879, e-mail:, Internet site:

BBC:Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK

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Zimbabwe intimidation claim
Government supporters attacked a recent opposition rally

Zimbabwe's main opposition party has accused the government of waging a campaign of violence in an attempt to intimidate voters ahead of parliamentary elections expected in May.

The Movement for Democratic Change says President Robert Mugabe's government is trying to force the people of Zimbabwe into submission.

"The violence indicates that this is an orchestrated plan by government to induce fear and intimidation," said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Morgan Tsvangirai: Believes his party can win parliamentary elections in May
The government accuses the opposition of trying to make the country ungovernable, and our correspondent says the danger of a state of emergency being declared appears to be growing day by day.

Mr Tsvangirai told a news conference in Harare that the violence carried out on behalf of the ruling Zanu-PF party suggested it knew it was facing defeat in the elections.

Policeman killed

In the most serious incident since government supporters began invading white owned farms more than six weeks ago, a policeman was shot dead on Tuesday at a farm at Marondera, 70km from Harare - apparently by squatters.

Squatters badly beat farmer Iain Kay
The previous day, the owner of the farm - a prominent opposition member - was savagely beaten with sticks and pickaxe handles.

At the weekend, government supporters attacked a peaceful opposition march in the capital, Harare, in full view of the police with apparent impunity.

In spite of clear evidence to the contrary, Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa said Saturday's violence was provoked by campaigners marching in support of the rule of law.

Strict measures planned

He warned that the government was considering strict measures to deal with public demonstrations.

President Mugabe: Accused of orchestrating the violence
Meanwhile, government efforts to allow the seizure of land without paying compensation have gone a step further, with a bill to amend the constitution close to completing its passage through Parliament. The wording of the bill is identical to a clause in the draft constitution which was recently rejected in a referendum.

President Mugabe's government is embroiled in its worst economic and political crisis since independence in 1980.

Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK

Eyewitness: Forced off the farm
The Dutoit farm: Taken over

By Gavin Hewitt in Karoi, Zimbabwe

We are outside Pierre Dutoit's farm in Karoi, north-west of Harare.

It is just one of hundreds of white-owned farms in Zimbabwe which has been taken over by government supporters.

"We are the new owners here," a man with a stick tells us. He is at the farm's gates with 150 men with axes and clubs. We are unable to film them, because they tell us they will turn their axes on us if we try it.

Rex Jesus seems to be above the law
There is little farm owners can do. Squatters in farm after farm insist that they must sign over part of their land. The courts have declared these occupations illegal, but they have the backing of President Robert Mugabe.

Suddenly, the man behind the farm invasions in this area, Rex Jesus, arrives. His companions are all carrying long knives. He has links to the ruling party and seems to operate above the law. He enters the farm, amid shouting and chanting.

The Dutoits are given just 10 minutes to leave their farm - the first time a white farmer has been evicted.

It comes less than a week after President Mugabe had threatened severe violence against them.

Mrs Dutoit: "Everything we've worked for"
As the Dutoits stop to speak to us, the squatters appear, angry and threatening. We, too, had to leave. A short distance up the road, we find the shaken couple.

"I am very upset," says Mrs Dutoit. "We've waited for 17 years. Finally we've been able to buy a farm, we got the certificate of no interest from the government, and now this.

"It's everything we've worked for our whole lives."

Growing fears

As the story of one of the Dutoits' workers reveals, some of these incidents seem more about the forthcoming election than land. He says he was beaten by Rex Jesus for supporting the opposition, and President Mugabe is blaming the white farmers for backing his opponents.

Farm workers demonstrate the beating they say they received
Ten miles away, men with axes are squatting on another farm. A threatening crowd had demanded the owners sign over part of their farm, but they refused.

Farm owner Jane O'Donaghue says: "My concern is that really this is just the start of it. There could be a lot worse than this to come."

There is a real issue about land here - 4,000 white farmers own a third of the most productive land. But they believe that President Mugabe, in a bid to stay in power, is playing the race card, making the whites the issue.

As white farmers look out on their dream land, they, like others in Zimbabwe, are beginning to doubt whether whites have a future under African skies.

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Arson Attacks Waged Over Farmland Claims in Zimbabwe

April 5, 2000
Web posted at: 12:29 PM EDT (1629 GMT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Opposition leaders and white farmers reported a wave of arson attacks and assaults Wednesday by supporters of President Robert Mugabe, pushing Zimbabwe closer to anarchy.

Opposition and farming sources who asked not to be identified told Reuters of petrol-bomb attacks and beatings east, north and west of the capital Harare during the night.

An estimated 3,000 veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s war for independence from Britain have occupied about 600 white-owned farms in support of claims for the redistribution of prime land taken by whites under colonial rule.

Mugabe, who returned from the Europe-Africa Summit in Cairo early on Wednesday, has refused to condemn the farm invasions, and the war veterans say they have his support.

The president is fighting for his political life after a referendum defeat in February.

Mugabe told the state-run Ziana news agency during a flight home from a summit in Cairo that Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had agreed to mediate between Zimbabwe and Britain.

Mugabe had said earlier after talks with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook that he would be willing to send a delegation for talks in London.

He told Ziana, later: "He (Cook) had met with Mr. Obasanjo and other presidents and asked Obasanjo to assist on relations between us and Britain."

The British government has been sharply critical of Mugabe's failure to condemn the occupation of about 600 mainly white-owned farms by veterans of the country's 1970s war for liberation from Britain.

Britain says it has contingency plans to take in more than 20,000 Zimbabwean whites with British passports if the violence against them worsens.

Eight policemen were ambushed late on Tuesday and had their automatic rifles taken when they tried to investigate a reported assault on a farm northeast of the capital.

The policemen were being held hostage by war veterans who had occupied the farm, the sources said.

"Although the farmer is being allowed to move around with his family, the atmosphere is very intimidating," a farm-community source told Reuters.

Two other farmers were reportedly being detained in their homesteads by invaders.

Earlier on Tuesday, a police officer was shot and killed during skirmishes on an occupied farm in the east.

"A police officer was killed and investigations are still going on," a police spokesman told Reuters.

Farmer assaulted

He also said the owner of the farm, Ian Kay, had been assaulted during the scuffles, but declined to say whether any arrests had been made.

A friend of the farmer said Kay was sent home on Wednesday after a night in hospital.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said a candidate in parliamentary elections due between May and July, Biggie Chigovera, had his home burned in a fire-bomb attack early on Wednesday.

South African radio reported another firebomb attack against an opposition leader in a northern suburb of Harare.

A member of the Commercial Farmers Union, which represents about 4,500 mainly white farmers, blamed the escalating tension on provocative statements by Mugabe.

"We are not surprised that this is happening considering the statements that have been made," the farmer said.

Mugabe backs war veterans

Mugabe has said the war veterans were entitled to seize farms following the 55 percent vote in the February referendum against his proposed new constitution, which would have given him the right to seize farms without compensation.

In remarks later explained by a party official as "metaphorical," Mugabe has also said his critics could die for their opposition to his 20-year rule in the former Rhodesia.

On Tuesday, Zimbabwe's 150-member parliament began debate on a bill which would amend the constitution to allow the government to acquire white farms with responsibility to pay compensation falling on Britain.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa urged support for the bill, which must be approved by at least 100 legislators not in Mugabe's cabinet, saying it would be a logical conclusion to land redistribution efforts.

"Never, never, never again shall our land be alienated from its people or our people from the land," Mnangagwa said.

Copyright 2000 Reuters.

Two Killed in Zimbabwean Political Violence

HARARE (April 4) XINHUA - Two people have been killed and over 100 injured recently in almost 40 cases of political violence in Zimbabwe, The Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday.

More than 120 people have been arrested in the violence. Police Monday vowed to get tough with both the perpetrators and political leaders bent on instigating violence or any such acts.

Police said the chaos have resulted in assaults, malicious injury to property, theft, public violence and murder, in which millions of dollars of property have been damaged, the report said.

"We are worried about the violence that erupts when people 'imported' from other areas invade venues far from their homes," a police spokesman was quoted as saying on Monday.

"In many cases, we have been shocked to arrest people out in the country and find out they would have been bused from Harare or other towns to perpetrate acts of violence in other towns or rural areas," he said.

He stressed that "where we can prove it, we shall not hesitate to hold the leaders of such political meetings responsible for such disturbances."

Police blamed unscrupulous politicians of luring unemployed youths by giving them free liquor so that they could intimidate and invade the privacy and rights of others.

"We have now mobilized the police in all provinces to monitor all activities of political parties so that their actions do not disturb the public peace and safety," the spokesman said.


State, Opposition Accuse Each Other Of Fomenting Violence

Panafrican News Agency
April 5, 2000

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - The government and the opposition in Zimbabwe accused each other Wednesday of fomenting violence to force a cancellation of the May parliamentary elections.

Home Affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa, the home affairs minister, said the authorities had uncovered a plot by the Movement for Democratic Change party to make the country ungovernable to foil the elections.

"The police are, therefore, under instruction to deal with violent elements impartially and decisively without fear or favour of any political party," he warned.

But the leader of the movement, Morgan Tsvangirai, said it was President Robert Mugabe's government which had hatched plans to foment violence as an excuse to cancel the polls. He told a press conference that clashes throughout the country between the movement and government supporters in the last two weeks, which has left three people dead, were deliberately provoked by the government.

The elections are the first fiercely contested polls between the government and the opposition since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, and political analysts predict a possible setback for Mugabe.

The opposition, which the government accuse Britain and other big powers of sponsoring, have capitalised on Zimbabwe's worst economic downturn and widespread corruption in the public sector.

A cabinet minister and several senior government officials were arrested two weeks ago on allegations of siphoning billions of US dollars from state-owned companies.

The opposition called the arrests "cosmetic and too late too little and only intended to spruce up" the government's image ahead of the elections.

Copyright (c) 2000 Panafrican News Agency.  

ZIMBABWE'S Tourism Suffers 50 Percent Business Reduction

HARARE (April 5) XINHUA - Zimbabwe's tourism industry has suffered a 50-percent decline in tourist arrivals due to the fuel crisis and the prevailing political uncertainty, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) said on Wednesday.

ZTA Chief Executive Etherton Mpisaunga told the Zimbabwe News Agency that the industry estimates that between 40 and 50 percent of business has been lost since the fuel crisis began last November, compounded by the pre-election political bickering and violence.

"The picture being painted in the foreign print and electronic media is one of a not stable situation," he said, adding that the prevailing situation nullified ZTA's efforts to clean up the country's image abroad.

Chief executive Herbert Nkala of Rainbow Tourism Group, the country's main tourism company, told the core group of the National Economic Consultative Forum recently that tourist arrivals within the group were about 40 percent less than that of last year.

He said there was a general lack of confidence in what is happening in the country as the fuel crisis entered its sixth month.

"These issues are fundamental and should be urgently resolved. Tourist arrivals are now 30 to 40 percent less than those of last year and we still cannot tell those inquiring when the fuel problem will be solved," he said.

Tourism is the third largest contributor to Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Growth after agriculture and manufacturing.


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