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13 August 2000

In today's issue :
  • "Proud to be Mugabe's target"
  • Opposition wavers
  • "Shut up or die", MP warned
  • Police Commissioner to go
  • Poor turnout at Heroes' Acre

From The Observer (UK), 13 August

I am proud to be a target of Mugabe's gang of thugs

Andrew Meldrum has been reporting from Zimbabwe for 20 years. As the climate of violence worsens in Harare, he finds himself under threat from a brutal regime

At first I was tempted to laugh it off. The Foreign Office had issued a warning that Western journalists in Zimbabwe might be targets of violent intimidation by the Mugabe government. Such things must not be taken seriously, I thought. But then a United States embassy official telephoned to say it had received intelligence reports that government agents, presumably from the notorious CIO, planned to harass British and American correspondents. Maybe muggings, maybe robberies, maybe just roughing up or even beating somebody, said the embassy official. Be careful, he said.

Certainly the warnings did not come out of the blue. For years President Robert Mugabe has fumed and spluttered at foreign journalists. Most recently he was furious with coverage that exposed the widespread violence his regime unleashed against its own people during the campaign for the June parliamentary elections. More than 30 supporters of the opposition MDC were killed by Mugabe's agents during the campaign. Foreign correspondents and Zimbabwe's own hardy, independent journalists chronicled the deaths and the thousands of beatings and the intimidation meted out by Mugabe's Zanu-PF party. The President and his ministers repeatedly denounced the press for reporting lies and painting the country in a negative light.

On Friday, Mugabe launched yet another barb when speaking at the Heroes' Day commemoration to honour those who died for Zimbabwe's independence. 'Of course the Western media, which has no support for that which is non-white, has described our land acquisition exercise as a land grab,' he railed. 'They have no support for the aspirations of developing countries.' Stan Mudenge, Foreign Minister, also lashed out at the foreign press last week. Pounding the table for emphasis, he accused the Western press of working to divide Zimbabwe along racial lines. Yet it is Mugabe's own vitriolic speeches, not foreign press reports, that seek to promote racial hatred. The president's leadership has been repudiated by the majority of Zimbabwean people who have refused to accept his vilification of whites. They know it is the government's policies - not the whites or press reports in London - which have impoverished most of the country's people.

The warnings to the foreign press circulated through London and Washington, and some news agencies took them seriously. The Associated Press decided to pull its correspondent and television cameraman out of Harare until things cooled down. The US agency also plans to strengthen security at its reporters' homes. But there is nothing especially new in all this. The critical press, both foreign and local, have become inured to Mugabe's attacks and veiled threats. Zimbabwean journalists have been the most vulnerable to intimidation and we in the foreign press corps have been relatively unscathed.

If the Mugabe government has decided now that it wants to threaten the foreign press - then so be it. Now we can look our Zimbabwean colleagues in the eye and say that we, too, have the courage of our convictions. We all learnt in school playgrounds that the only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him. Many Zimbabweans have stood up to the swaggering bully that the Mugabe government has become. Chengetai Zvauya, a reporter for the Sunday Standard, has been repeatedly harassed. A few weeks ago he was dragged from a group of journalists covering a speech by war veterans' leader Chenjerai 'Hitler' Hunzvi. As Hunzvi looked on, his followers bundled Zvauya away and beat him for two hours. Within a week the reporter was back at work.

Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto, also of the Standard, have experienced terrifying torture at the hands of government agents. Chavunduka, the paper's editor, and Choto, the senior reporter, were abducted and held for several days in 1998 after publishing a story that angered the army. They were severely beaten and tortured with electric shocks. They were warned on pain of death not to tell anyone of their brutal treatment, but still exposed the government agents. Two years on, no one has been arrested for abusing them, although positive identifications were made.

Geoffrey Nyarota has also stood up to threats from the Mugabe regime. He has received written death threats and threats on the telephone. The offices of his paper, the Daily News, were bombed in April. Nyarota and his staff carry on publishing and their paper has surpassed the state-owned Herald in circulation. The previously unassailable Herald became such a government propaganda rag during the election campaign that no one wanted to pay to read it. The Herald's editorial policy has become more even-handed since the elections, but the damage has been done. Zimbabweans want to read the Daily News.

Trevor Ncube and Iden Wetherell, editors of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent, have also received death threats. They try not to work their staff after office hours because the reporters might get roughed up when going home late. There are many other Zimbabweans who have refused to be cowed by threats from the government. Human rights activists, church leaders, lawyers, trade union members: they all know that democracy will fail unless people stand up to bullies. They all believe Zimbabwe deserves better than rule by petty thugs and gangsters. So now the Mugabe government wants to threaten the foreign press and add it to the lengthy list of its enemies. My response is that we have been included in very good company indeed.

From The Independent (UK), 13 August

Zimbabwe opposition wavers as Mugabe raises stakes in land war

Harare - Buoyed by regional support for land resettlement and signs that Zimbabwe's opposition forces are wavering over their role after June's parliamentary elections, President Robert Mugabe intends to step up his anti-British, isolationist rhetoric and believes he will be re-elected in two years, say observers. In his latest tirade, at a liberation war ceremony in Harare on Friday, the president accused Britain of plotting to isolate Zimbabwe. "It is more than unfortunate that the government's noble responsibility of acquiring land and giving it to the people should have drawn so much wrath from Britain which continues to lobby the international community to politically and economically isolate Zimbabwe," he said.

The 76-year-old president claimed his opponents, helped by whites, Britain and other Western interests including the media - "the same forces we fought against" in the 1970s' liberation war - wanted to destroy unity. "I am for the revolutionary values of the past. Are you?" he asked 3,000 people at Heroes' Acre, a shrine to 44 heroes of the 16-year war against white rule. He referred to the controversial endorsement of his regime by a southern African leaders' summit in Namibia last week, at which Zimbabwe's "free and fair" election, and "just and equitable" land redistribution plans, were praised by presidents including Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. "There is now quite a greater part of the world which has understood the situation and strongly supports us," said Mr Mugabe.

The ruling Zanu-PF, which won 62 seats, intends to keep land at the top of the agenda for the next two years. The acquisition by fair means or foul of 3,041 farms for the resettlement of 500,000 families will be followed by takeovers of assets in cities, heartland of the opposition MDC which won 57 seats. President Mugabe now urgently needs his army - or part of it - back from the Democratic Republic of Congo where his support for President Laurent Kabila is costing $1m a day. With that money saved and by raiding the coffers of most ministries, Zanu-PF believes it can carry through a resettlement programme more ambitious even than that which followed the end of white rule in 1980. Even if the resettlements are economically disastrous - likely, given that there are few funds for infrastructure or training and no international donors have said they intend to return to Zimbabwe - President Mugabe believes the appeal to greed and envy of his "accelerated resettlements" will undermine the MDC, who already have had to discipline one MP for saying land reform by negotiation with whites cannot work.

There are also signs that the opposition are losing their nerve amid a government-orchestrated scare aimed at farmers, journalists and business people. Ten days ago the ZCTU scaled down its national stoppage from three days to one. It was "worried about damaging the economy". And one document, believed to have come from liberation war veterans, calls for the launch of "Operation give-up-and-leave", a plan to "systematically harass and mentally torture" Zimbabwean whites. Last Thursday, the CFU withdrew two court challenges against the regime, one aimed at police who ignored court orders to remove squatters from farms and the other targeted at the war veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, now an MP, for inciting violence. The 3,000- member CFU said it did not want to precipitate more vindictive policies against them.

The MDC, which routed Zanu-PF in Matabeleland and all major cities, is vulnerable to division because it is a broad-based church, uniting far-left elements of the ZCTU and conservative business interests. Its supporters, many of them restive, unemployed township youths, could waver if land is taken from whites in cities and offered to anyone with a Zanu-PF party card. In rural areas, some of which the MDC controls, the provincial governors - all appointed by President Mugabe - appear to enjoy massive power. They are spearheading resettlements and choosing the beneficiaries of land with no reference to constituency MPs.

Yet John Makumbe, a political analyst critical of the government, says thousands of students graduate from the University of Zimbabwe this week and he expects a massive show of red cards, the football analogy the MDC used successfully in its election campaign, at rallies round the country. "Mugabe has got wind in his sails, for the moment," he said. "But support from other southern African leaders does not resolve the situation at home. As [they] were endorsing him, Eskom (the South African power company) was threatening to turn off our lights because bills have not been paid. "The MDC is calling for Mugabe's impeachment and there are plenty of people in Zanu-PF who want a change of leader. Mugabe's speech was empty. It just called for a return to the past. It was a desperate plea for support from an old man."

Zimbabwe's inflation stands at 60 per cent, banks are stopping loans, there is a fuel crisis and food shortages loom, but as President Mugabe says: "The middle class is an anomaly in traditional African society and paupers have no money to go shopping anyway." In a memorable pre-election address, President Mugabe derided whites "who like to sip their tea under the jacarandas" and stated proudly "they forget the people of Zimbabwe can eat sadza [maize porridge] if it helps them win the revolution". But President Mugabe is only promising land. Not crops.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 13 August

"Shut up or die", Sikhala cautioned

OUTSPOKEN MDC parliamentarian, Job Sikhala, says he has been warned of imminent death if he continues raising controversial issues in parliament. Sikhala, who represents Chitungwiza's St Mary's constituency, said two senior Zanu PF members approached him after the Thursday session in which he made his maiden speech and warned him about the dangers of being outspoken. In his maiden speech, Sikhala called for the setting up of a committee to investigate the deaths of liberation war heroes, Josiah Tongogara, Herbert Chitepo and Lookout Masuku, among others who died during the liberation struggle. He said the committee should be headed by Manicaland governor, Oppah Muchinguri.

Sikhala also called for the impeachment of President Mugabe whom he said had failed the nation. Although officially Tongogara is said to have died in a car accident, speculation has been rife that he could have died in some other way. This has never been proved though. Sikhala told The Standard that the two officials, both who are not cabinet ministers, had used different approaches in warning him. This newspaper has the names of the two officials. "One of them, a former cabinet minister, was quite furious and shouted at me. He told me that I had no right to call for the an investigation into the deaths of liberation war heroes as I had not taken part in the war. He threatened to deal with me. The other one approached me and advised me in a fatherly manner. He told me that I was treading on dangerous ground and that I was dealing with cold-blooded people who could kill me if I continued to raise such issues," said Sikhala on Friday.

Sikhala said he would not to go back on the calls for an inquiry into the death of Tongogara. The warnings, he said, had actually hardened him and had roused more interest in why Zanu PF did not want an investigation to be carried out. "I knew what I was dealing with when I made the statement. These people are killers. They killed 30 people before the election. But if they thought they had frightened me with the warnings then they were wrong. The warnings created a spirit of enthusiasm of knowing why and how Tongogara died. I am a representative of the people and these issues are at the mouths of people. They want to know how their heroes died." He said he had singled out Muchinguri to chair the inquiry because she was in the same car as Tongogara when the accident happened. "When Tongogara died, he was in the company of Muchinguri. Since Muchinguri emerged from the accident unhurt, she should be in a position to remember most of the details and would be of great help to our inquiry," said Sikhala. He also said a number of Zanu PF MPs had congratulated him for making such a "bold statement that would lead our people to know better".

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 13 August

Chihuri to go

Zimbabwe's unpopular police chief, Augustine Chihuri, will be retired at the end of the month, The Standard has been informed. President Robert Mugabe, currently under a barrage of local and international criticism for allowing the breakdown of law and order in the country, is believed to have bowed to mounting pressure from his two deputies, Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika, to retire the Police Commissioner at the end of this month. Although this paper could not get comment from the new minister of home affairs, John Nkomo, as we went to press last night, highly placed sources said Chihuri's days in the force were at an end. Sources close to Mugabe said this week 76-year-old leader was planning to replace Chihuri with a military official. "Mugabe is not going to renew Chihuri's term. Some of the top brass want him retired. They want someone who can lead the force professionally and ensure that the presidential election results remain in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party," said one source privy to the arrangements. Mugabe, who political and economic analysts blame for misruling Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, will face MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai in the 2002 presidential election.

The sources said the move to pension off Chihuri in September was mooted last year, when Mugabe initially wanted him replaced at the end of December. Sources said Mugabe could not pension him off in December since the commissioner was being re-appointed on a yearly basis, with his term ending in September. Terminating Chihuri's contract prematurely would have resulted in government paying him his salary until the end of his yearly term. It was on that basis that Mugabe decided to shelve his plans, sources privy to the move said.

It also came to light last night that one of Mugabe's deputies was opposing the appointment of a soldier to take over from Chihuri. One of the vice presidents is believed to be in support of deputy commissioner, Godwin Matanga, to take over, while the other was of the view that Griffiths Mpofu, who wields political clout, and is also one of Chihuri's deputies, should be the incumbent for the top post in the police force. Chihuri was appointed commissioner of police in 1994, and his first four-year term ended in 1998. He was re-appointed by President Mugabe to the same post for another four-year term which has been subject to renewal on a yearly basis. It is believed that Mugabe's decision to bring a soldier into the ZRP was a direct influence from the influential former army commander, General Solomon Mujuru. Mujuru, now regarded as a kingmaker in Mugabe's political and military appointments, is also widely believed to have advised Mugabe to appoint former military heavyweights, Happton Bonyongwe and Elisha Muzonzini, as Central Intelligence Organisation bosses.

It is said that Muzenda openly told Mugabe that he was not happy with the way Chihuri was running the Zimbabwe Republic Police. Chihuri fell out of Muzenda's favour last year after he decided to retrench some senior police officers. Muzenda, who is believed to have been unaware of the retrenchments in the police force, came to know about the exercise after it had been published in the media. The publication of the retrenchments in the press came in the wake of legal action that had been taken against Chihuri and the former minister of home affairs, Dumiso Dabengwa, by some of the senior officers who were facing the chop. At that time, Muzenda was the acting President. Chihuri also became unpopular during his first term when his police force shot dead innocent civilians as they attempted to shoot a criminal. Last month Chihuri's officers caused the death of 13 people at the National Sports Stadium after they unleashed teargas at angry fans who were throwing missiles on the pitch. Dabengwa blamed the police for the stadium deaths, amid calls from all quarters of the society for Chihuri to resign honourably. Chihuri himself could not be reached for comment.

From The Zimbabwe Standard, 13 August

Poor turnout at Heroes Acre

Seats were empty at the Heroes Acre as the majority of Harare residents snubbed the Heroes Day commemorations addressed by President Mugabe on Friday. A handful of people attended the proceedings to honour the nation's liberation war heroes scattered all over the country. This was despite passionate pleas from the country's political leaders for people to attend the event. Most of the people who attended were Zanu PF supporters bussed from around Harare. Some of the buses were not even half full. The attendance on Friday paled in comparison to the thousands that attended the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo's funeral, last year. Some who attended the event, hinted that it could be quite some time before the heroes acre could draw at least half the crowd that attended Nkomo's burial, which drew tens of thousands of people. Said one of the people who attended the event: "This is embarrassing. Our heroes are special and people are supposed to come here. This is a big day and I suppose the chefs are embarrassed."

However, some suggested that the lack of food and drink at the event was a big influence on the turnout. Unlike previous state occasions which are marked by lavish feasting, the heroes day commemorations had no such feast. People were ferried back to their homes soon after the proceedings, with those who had anticipated free food visibly looking disgruntled. Even members from the Zanu PF women's league who were selling fruits and other wares could not hide their disappointment at the low turnout saying it had affected their business. "We had come here anticipating good business but we will have to carry our things home. We do not why people did not attend," said one vendor.

Residents in Warren Park suburb, a stone's throw from the shrine, continued with their usual business. Tuckshop owners and vendors were busy selling their goods while other people went about their daily chores. They said they did not see the reason why they should go to the Heroes Acre instead of "looking for food for the family". Some were even more extreme, saying they would never attend a ceremony presided over by Zanu PF leaders. "Tsvangirai ndiye ari kutaura here kuHeroes Acre ikoko? Isu vemudhorobha takavhotera MDC, saka zvese zvinorongwa muno zvinofanira kurongwa neMDC otherwise hatiende." (Is Tsvangirai going to be the speaker? Urban dwellers voted for the MDC and we only attend those functions organised by that party), said Smart Njanja, who was socialising at a local bottle store. Tsvangirai, the president of MDC, on Thursday said he could not attend the function because of family commitments.

The occasion, however, provided an opportunity for ruling party youths whose candidates were defeated to wear the regalia bearing their candidates' faces. Constitutional Commission T-shirts were also popular. Although paltry, the Zanu PF supporters present gave the president some consolation with some assurance that even though the party is in the doldrums, they would stand by him. "Muri kutonga vaMugabe, ticharamba tichimuda" (We will continue supporting you, whatever happens), they sang and ululated. Mugabe himself remained tense during the whole proceedings. He laid flowers at the fallen heroes graves, and greeted their families who were standing beside the graves. He was generally quiet, and did not speak much with the family members. Rather, it was other Zanu PF senior members who at times cracked jokes with the family members to ease the tension.

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Ethnic cleansing

Is there nothing we can do about this situation?

Eddie Cross

Date: Saturday, August 12, 2000 4:13 PM
Subject: Ethnic cleansing

Dear family and friends,

Sorry for my silence and no letter last week. Aside from the fact that the
telephone went down and the phone company were out on strike, we had
reached the point where insanity was drawing frighteningly close so took
ourselves off to Mana Pools for a few days to try and get our thoughts
together and put things into perspective. We have now very reluctantly
made the final decision to leave our farm and will spend the next few weeks
(assuming we have that long) selling all the remaining livestock,
disposing of mountains of farm related bits and pieces which have accumulated to
alarming proportions and generally closing our operation down. This has
been an incredibly painful decision but perhaps for the best as the future
of commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe seems to be drawing to a close.

Sadly we are not alone in our decision, our immediate neighbour has already left
his farm, another plans to leave within the next few months and a third
has started winding down his operation as well. It seems without doubt that
this was the ultimate aim of the "war veterans" - simply wear us down,
cripple our operations, drive us to the edge of bankruptcy until we gave
up and now they have won. Insane as it may sound, I am going to attempt to
put our farm on the market ! We have still not been listed for compulsory
acquisition, have still not received the dreaded "Section 8" letter
informing us of impending government take-over. An estate agent has first
to apply to gvt for a Certificate of No Interest and it will be
interesting to see what happens when they try on our behalf.

Our squatters are now living permanently on the property, driving vehicles
across the fields and felling the timber, stripping it's bark and piling
up great heaps of prime gum poles. We are absolutely helpless and I find it
hard to describe the feelings that churn in my gut as I see trees that I
planted with with my own hands, pruned over the years, weeded and
protected for all this time and now have to watch as they simply take them.

Last Saturday a great crowd of people gathered in our fields and waited
for the arrival of the Zanu PF MP for Marondera West to arrive. The esteemed
gentleman had apparently sent word that he would himself be sharing out
our farm on that day but as the day wore on and he didn't arrive, people
became restless. Finally a messenger came to say that the MP wouldn't be coming,
he had rolled his brand new government Pajero five times a few kilometres
from here and was dead. It obviously took the locals a couple of days to
work out the implications before they must have realised that this now
means a by election - back to square one with the intimidation, the
rally's, the beatings and finally the voting. Three days after the death
of our MP, the youngster who pulled a gun on me some weeks ago, moved onto
our neighbour's land, started felling the trees on their 300 acre plot and
building himself a hut in their cattle paddock. Until now largely
untouched by the W. V.'s, our neighbours in their 70's have now to endure the rape
of their land for the third time. They lost everything in the Mau Mau in
Kenya, lost everything again in Nyanga in the Zim war in 1980 and now it
starts all over again. We all begin to feel more than a little like  the
Jews who were stripped of their human rights, property rights and then
their lives in Nazi germany. We can only hope and pray that for us we can
get off our land with our lives and can remain in the country of our birth
and try and rebuild. Ethnic cleansing - such a strange term, how
terrifying to be the victims of it.

So now, for the first time in ten years I am going to attempt to find a
job - a scary prospect having been a boss for a decade. Even scarier the
thought of living in a little box in a town but after this six months of
hell, even a smallholding has lost it's appeal as perhaps those little
pieces of land will be next on the W.V.'s list.

For Zimbabwe I weep. What is to become of her and her people when, by this
time next year it won't only be diesel and paraffin they are queuing for
but bread, sugar, maize meal, meat etc etc etc. There are now so many
farmers doing what we are doing. Agriculture has become untenable, there
is no end in sight, there is no one that seems able to quell this utter
insanity. How very very sad that it has come to this and to think of what
it will be like in a few months from now.

I apologise if I missed out answering anyone's letters these past few
We continue to appreciate everyone's supportive and caring messages. Thank

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ZANU PF plots Mugabe's ouster
Danes demand full land compensation from govt
Farm loans under threat
Welshman Mabhena's farm invaded
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR of the Financial Gazette 10 August 2000
   ZFU must resist Bob's survival trick
   Have you finally changed your ways?
   A cheap cure for our ailing parastatals

ZANU PF plots Mugabe's ouster

Staff Reporter

SEVERAL senior ZANU PF members are behind a radical plan to overhaul the party's constitution at its special congress in November to allow members to challenge President Robert Mugabe for the presidency of Zimbabwe, party insiders disclosed this week.

The plan, supported by many of the party's young Turks, would allow senior ZANU PF members to offer themselves for the 2002 presidential election should Mugabe decide to run again.

ZANU PF's present constitution says only the president of the party, who is Mugabe, can contest the national presidential elections on the ruling party's ticket.

The November congress is set to officially endorse the party's candidate for the 2002 presidential poll.

Mugabe, his deputies Joseph Msika and Simon Muzenda and ZANU PF's national chairman John Nkomo were the only ones who were re-elected to their positions when the party held its extraordinary congress in Harare last December.

According to ZANU PF's constitution, a member elected by congress to head the party automatically becomes the party's candidate in the event of a presidential election.

The sources said it was now up to Mugabe to publicly announce whether he will run again in 2002 but some felt that decision could not be left to him alone and were agitating for ZANU PF's constitution to be changed.

These senior officials were apparently concerned that the ruling party's governing troika was ageing but showing no signs of relinquishing power.

Their suggestion was that ZANU PF's constitution should be amended to allow any party member interested in contesting the state presidential election to do so without necessarily standing for the party's leadership.

"We want the provisions (for presidency of Zimbabwe) to be flexible," one senior party leader told the Financial Gazette this week

"We want a situation where a senior party member can run for presidential elections without necessarily being the president of the party. We will push for those amendments to be effected at the congress," he said.

Many ZANU central committee members are understood to be supporting the amendments that have been preceded by intense lobbying by influential party officials.

According to the sources, the proposed amendments are also meant to pressure Mugabe to pave the way for a new ZANU PF candidate to contest the 2002 presidential elections while Mugabe stays on as head of the party.

The amendments are also aimed at killing any notion by Mugabe to anoint his successor, the sources said.

ZANU PF's information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira said the party's November special congress would clear outstanding party matters.

"We don't know as yet what will be on the agenda as the compilation will be done after the principal organs of the party have met and when the time approaches," he said.

"Please talk to Zvobgo about anything to do with amendments to the party's constitution. He is the better person to explain to you how it is done and the procedures," Shamuyarira said

ZANU PF's legal affairs secretary Eddison Zvobgo, who himself has expressed an interest in the state presidency should Mugabe decide not run, could not be reached for comment.

The sources said several formal and informal meetings convened by ZANU PF throughout the provinces as post-mortems of the June parliamentary elections had found a rising groundswell that Mugabe steps down from the 2002 presidential contest to save the party from an embarrassing and crushing defeat.

Many party members felt that the ruling party had a better chance to win the presidential election with a new and untainted candidate.

Mugabe, however, still commands considerable support among the party's rank and file and its rampaging war veterans, and senior ZANU PF officials fear he may be tempted by this backing to run again in the projected poll.

ZANU PF, which has ruled Zimbabwe almost supreme in 20 years, narrowly defeated the labour-backed Movement for Democratic Change in the June 24-25 parliamentary ballot, winning just 62 of the 120 contested seats.

Analysts say the June election result is a harbinger of much worse things to come for the ruling party in 2002.

Danes demand full land compensation from govt

Staff Reporter

DENMARK said this week it will demand full compensation from the Zimbabwe government if commercial farms in the country owned by Danish citizens are expropriated for the resettlement of peasants.

Danish ambassador Erik Fiil said his government would press for full compe-nsation, including the value of the soil in line with an investment protection ag-reement signed between Zimbabwe and Denmark in 1996.

The government has repeatedly said it will only compensate farmers for imp-rovements made on the farms and not for the value of the land, a stance which has put Zimbabwe on a collision course with several key Western donors, including Denmark.

Fiil said the provisions of the investment protection agreement would be invoked if any of the farms owned by Danish citizens were seized for resettlement.

The ambassador had been asked to confirm com-ments by Danish Aid Minister Jan Trojborg to that country's parliamentary foreign affairs committee that Denmark would demand compens-ation from Zimbabwe if farms owned by its citizens were expropriated.

"Based on the investment protection agreement be-tween Denmark and Zim-babwe, it must be expected that in the event of expro-priation, Denmark will be able to invoke the provision of the agreement providing for full compensation for potential expropriation of Danish-owned property," Trojborg had said last week.

The minister said two Danish-owned farms app-eared on the Zimbabwe government's list of farms that were earmarked for seizure in June. One of the farms is owned by a Danish citizen and another by a Danish corporation based in Zimbabwe.

Fiil said he did not have details of Danish farms targ-eted for acquisition, although he was aware that Danes probably owned about 10 commercial farms in Zim-babwe.

The investment prote-ction pact was signed in October 1996 by then Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and Danish Minister of Development Corporation Paul Nielson.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba said the government was not tar-geting investment projects in its land acquisition plan and thus the issues raised by Denmark did not arise.

Farm loans under threat

Zim seen headed for severe food shortages

Joseph Ngwawi, Senior Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE'S emergency economic recovery plan was jolted yesterday when the country's bankers warned that they might not fund farming activities this year unless there are guarantees about the future of the key agricultural sector.

The Zimbabwe Bankers Association (BAZ) said the country's financial institutions might not be able to provide financing to farmers in the 2000/2001 season because of disruptions to cropping and the government's controversial land redistribution plan.

The bankers' warning fuelled fears that Zimbabwe could be headed for severe food shortages next year and added to the woes piling on new Finance Minister Simba Makoni in turning around the country's tottering economy.

Makoni is in charge of the implementation of the emergency Zimbabwe Millennium Economic Recovery Progra-mme, an ambitious 18-month plan aimed at pulling the country out of a crisis manifesting itself in record high interest and inflation rates and runaway poverty and unemployment.

BAZ president Greg Brackenridge said banks were reluctant to commit themselves to financing the needs of commercial farmers in the face of mounting uncertainty over the future of the agricultural sector in the country.

The sector, once touted as the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, faces collapse because of the seizure of white-owned commercial farms which produce the bulk of the country's exports and a large slice of its food by government supporters.

The uncertainty about the industry's future has also been fuelled by confusion over the number of farms the government plans to acquire for resettling landless peasants.

President Robert Mug-abe's government threw the industry into confusion last month when it announced it would now acquire a further 2 237 farms on top of more than 800 others it had already earmarked for seizure this year.

"Banks will not be able to provide finance if they do not have assurances that the borrower will either be allowed to harvest crops or alternatively will be fully compensated for the crops in the ground," Brackenridge told the Financial Gazette.

The BAZ boss said the bankers had already raised their concerns with the relevant authorities but could not disclose the outcome of these discussions.

Banking industry sources said the association has made representations to the Ministry of Finance and the central bank over the impact of the land crisis on the operations of the banks.

"There is a considerable degree of urgency that is necessary in resolving this uncertainty because the planting season is already upon us and the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe is actively pursuing this matter with the appropriate authorities," Bra-ckenridge said.

He said about 85 percent of the banks' exposure to the agricultural sector - he gave no figures although the exposure is believed to run into billions of dollars - was in the form of seasonal finance, which is normally repaid from crop proceeds.

He, however, said loan repayments by farmers for the 1999/2000 agricultural season would not be affected by the present impasse over the redistribution of land.

"With regard to seasonal finance provided for the 1999/2000 season, harvesting and marketing are in progress and indications are that the majority of farmers will achieve a satisfactory outturn and accordingly we believe that there is no threat to the security of the banking industry," Brakenridge said.

Meanwhile it is understood that the bankers have already communicated their stance to the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), the umbrella body for Zimbabwe's dominant 4 500 white commercial farmers who are at the centre of the land crisis.

CFU deputy director Gerry Grant confirmed yesterday that the BAZ had written to the farmers saying that the bankers would not support farmers who are unable to provide evidence of secure tenure for their properties during the coming season.

"Essentially what this means is that the banks are withdrawing support from commercial farmers whose properties may appear on a list of farms which are to be acquired (by the government), whether now or in the future," Grant said.

The farmers were this year looking for more than $20 billion for the purchase of inputs, little changed from last season's funding.

Agriculture is Zimbabwe's economic mainstay, accounting for 40 percent of its export earnings and 20 percent of its gross domestic product. It employs more than half the total labour force in the formal sector.

Welshman Mabhena's farm invaded

Staff Reporter

BULAWAYO - Welshman Mabhena, the sacked governor of Matabeleland North, said yesterday that suspected independence war veterans and villagers had invaded his 100-hectare farm near Nkayi.

Mabhena, fired by Pre-sident Robert Mugabe last month for allegedly being too critical of government policies and allowing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to launch successful campaigns in rural Matabeleland North, said the invaders were threatening to start parcelling out his farms to land-hungry villagers.

"The invaders arrived on Tuesday. Those I spoke to said they were sent by their leaders in the province to invade the farm," Mabhena said. "There are two men who seem to be in charge of the operations there."

Independent sources, speaking form Nkayi, confirmed that Mabhena's Kellegar Farm had been run over by rag-tag war veterans, jobless youths and villagers who said they were landless and wanted to be given pieces of plots on the farm.

Mabhena said two other farms near his property had also been invaded. The two are said to belong to a Bulawayo High Court judge and a wellknown business family here.

"It looks as if I am being targeted," said an emotional Mabhena, whose sacking as governor has sparked an outcry in Matabeleland.

"I am being treated like a Boer," he said, referring to South Africa's once dominant and ruling tribe which lost power in that country's first all-race elections in 1994.

But Obert Mpofu, the new governor for the province who has been at loggerheads with Mabhena over a range of issues, said he was unaware of the invasions.

Police in Inyathi district, which is close to Nkayi, yesterday said villagers had mistakenly thought that Mabhena's farm belonged to white commercial farmers whose land the veterans, with government support, have been seizing across the country since February.

"The people who went into Mabhena's farm thought it belonged to a white farmer in the area but it was later explained to them that it belonged to the former governor. They have since left the property and moved onto two other farms," a police spokesman said.

The Financial Gazette was unable yesterday to visit Mabhena's farm or the other two that have also been reported to be under occupation.


ZFU must resist Bob's survival trick

Richard Owen, Harare.

EDITOR -The land reform exercise in Zimbabwe seems to be going astray.

It had been hoped that land would be redistributed to people with agricultural skills such as members of the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union (ZFU), graduates from agricultural colleges such as Chibero and to indigenous farmers who could make the most productive use of that land.

However, it now seems that this may not happen.

The first phase of land resettlement was for landless people, the second phase was the allocation of farms to ZANU PF officials and friends of President Robert Mugabe and now it seems that the third phase of land reform will see farms going to unemployed war veterans as payment for securing an election victory for Zanu PF.

The ZFU and other organisations which are interested in a genuine land reform programme must resist Mugabe's plans to give farms to the war veterans, who have no experience in farming and are not qualified to run a modern farming venture.

ZFU members may find that their dreams of benefiting from land reform have been sold out by Mugabe in order to save himself politically.

Have you finally changed your ways?

Massa Mware, Harare.

EDITOR - After being told, with raised clenched fists punching the air, a fitting symbol of defiance of Western imperialism and rejection of the West's ''dirty money'', that Zimbabwe did not need any of that in any form - loan, grant or otherwise - it looks like someone has made a total about-turn now that the Americans have passed the Zimbabwe Democracy 2000 Bill.

Suddenly someone has come face-to-face with reality.

In fact, this move has had such an impact it has been on the agenda of all get-togethers and talk-shops that have been held both locally and regionally.

Why the change of heart? I wonder. Surely, we can do without the West's dirty money, can't we? After all, there is no country in history that has gone bust, is there?

Or do we need the money after all?

Unless of course someone was just making a fool of themselves by raving and ranting, clenched fists in the air, all of which they ought to be very ashamed of.

Why do people open their mouths, say the first thing that comes to their heads before the assembled local and external Press and disgrace this nation of learned people?

Indeed shame on you, whoever you are. Asi mave kuchinja maitiro here?(Have you decided to change your ways?)

A cheap cure for our ailing parastatals

George Turner, Harare.

EDITOR - Let us review the following supposedly public institutions in Zimbabwe:

-The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority's power generation plants and distribution network.

-The National Railways of Zimbabwe's rail network and rolling stock.

-The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe's pipelines and storage facilities.

-The Grain Marketing Board's silos.

-The Posts and Telecommunications Corporation's extensive post and telecommunications network.

-The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe's airports.

To rebuild or replace these assets ab initio would be a costly if not impossible exercise today.

Sadly, in most cases, management has proved to be grossly unequal to the task of running the companies.

Indeed, many have used their positions for self-enrichment or aggrandisement by stripping the public of their hard-earned cash.

The country's national debt is now monumental. In order to reduce this, would it not be feasible to:

-Value these assets?

-Offer them to other parties as payment in kind?

Taken from a South African perspective, the advantages this would hold for, say, Eskom or Spoornet include:

-Increased size.

-Efficient servicing of the southern African subcontinent.

It could be argued that this would make Zimbabwe South African in all but name. However, it is highly unlikely the South Africans would be interested in other portfolios such as health, social welfare or defence.

The advantages to the average working Zimbabwean would be:

-More efficient and accessible services.

-Reduction in the national debt, and hence taxes.

-Good riddance of all present inefficient "senior" management.

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