|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The criticism from Zimbabwean campaign groups came amid reports that the first white farmers were being evicted from their land by militants.
The government has failed to understand the misery faced by Britons forced to return from Zimbabwe
Movement for Democratic Change
Ministers say they are giving the right help while also trying to ease problems in Zimbabwe, but the Conservatives say much more is needed to prevent an "enormous humanitarian crisis".
An estimated 2,900 white farmers should have left their houses by midnight last Thursday as part of President Mugabe's land reform programme.
In London, John Huruva, UK spokesman for main Zimbabwean opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, accused UK ministers of letting down British citizens caught in the troubles.
"The government has failed to understand the misery faced by Britons forced to return from Zimbabwe," said Mr Huruva in a statement.
Zimbabwean human rights activist Albert Weidermann said some British citizens were getting so little help once they arrived in the UK that they had no choice but to return to Africa.
Those criticisms came after opponents of President Mugabe held talks with Conservative shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram in London.
Mr Ancram has written to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair raising concerns that the British High Commission in Harare is putting "unnecessary obstacles" in the way of people wanting to return to the UK.
In the past, they had been able to reclaim their UK status even after renouncing it several times but they were now being told they could do so only once, he continued.
"If this is true, it would mean in practice that British citizenship is being forfeited under duress and that the UK Government seems on the face of it to be helping Mugabe to get his way," he said.
'Sticking to the law'
Mr Ancram is also worried that the High Commission may now be charging prices at black market exchange rates for people using its services.
A Foreign Office spokesman said there was no question of the High Commission doing anything other than applying the nationality laws.
There had been no change in policy where those laws allowed ministers' discretion, he said.
The Foreign Office says the High Commission has switched to "parallel" exchange rates for its charges after losing £400,000 in taxpayers' money last year.
Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain on Tuesday insisted help was being given to people fleeing Zimbabwe, whether they were British citizens or asylum seekers.
Mr Hain argued the focus should be on helping to change the situation in Zimbabwe itself.
Targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe and his chief supporters were already in place and Zimbabwe had also been suspended from the Commonwealth, said Mr Hain
The issue would, however, be raised at this month's Earth Summit.
Mr Ancram said that was not good enough and a humanitarian crisis caused by Mr Mugabe's policies threatened to spill out beyond Zimbabwe.
The Earth Summit was a chance to form an international coalition to put pressure on Mr Mugabe, said Mr Ancram, although he did not specify what kind of tactics could be used.
South African backing was "key" to making the Mugabe regime let in monitors to ensure fair food distribution, as well as to hold fresh elections, he added.
From ZWNEWS, 14 August
Violence continues ahead of elections
Two murders, two attempted murders, seven cases of torture and 205 cases of malicious damage to property were documented by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum during July. There were also six cases of unlawful detention or arrest, one kidnapping, and 14 cases of assault during the month. Teachers, schoolchildren, and suspected supporters of the opposition MDC have borne the brunt of the violence. The July figures bring the toll of murders this year to 59, the documented cases of torture to 1024, and the number of kidnappings to 220, and the incidents of unlawful arrests or detentions to 280. The violence was in many areas related to the upcoming local elections.
Cosamu Mudzimuirema of Buhera South was severly assaulted by members of the riot police. An MDC committee member, he was arrested during a raid at his home, having been accused of taking part in the burning of Zanu PF members’ houses. He fled to Harare where he received treatment until he died on 16 July. Richard Ncube, the MDC organising secretary for Zhombe, died from injuries sustained after he was allegedly kidnapped and assaulted by Zanu PF youths at a torture camp. Ncube was abducted from his home by Zanu PF youths sometime in February. He was taken to St Paul’s Primary School in the village where the youths operated a torture camp. Police from Zhombe eventually rescued him from the camp. His uncle claimed that he never fully recovered from the torture, and at the time of his death could hardly walk. The police report into his abduction said "The complainant was kidnapped by a group of youths and taken to a certain place in the village where he was then assaulted all over the body with sticks, booted feet, clenched fists."
From ZWNEWS, 14 August
By Michael Hartnack
Robert Mugabe, on a Zimbabwe state holiday which - even in less traumatic times - was notorious for militant anti-white rhetoric, delivered a mixture of menace and false assertions Monday, adding to the chaos and confusion over seizures over commercial farms. He made no mention of his long vaunted Aug. 9-10 deadline for 2 900 farmers to leave, but said the land will be taken over by the end of August. Meanwhile, a majority of white farmers hang on, nervously defying eviction orders and threats of jail; the Commercial Farmers' Union, vainly seeking to mollify the authorities, tells members to avoid confrontation, while a militant lobby tells farmers to stay; and the High Court rules that the regime cannot seize mortgaged farms. Mugabe and his two octogenarian vice presidents, Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika, go on contradicting themselves, each other, and the realities in the rural areas, while the CFU keeps offering compromises and being called racist. All that is certain is that food shortages worsen and queues for staple items get longer and longer. Mugabe added to the confusion in his Heroes' Day speech Monday by reiterating a patently false claim that farmers are allowed to keep a single farm, and adding a new one: that "loyal" white farmers would be allowed to stay - when 95 percent of all commercial farmers have been ordered to leave their properties.
As well as the rhetoric, there is confusion over exactly what the law is, who is breaking it, and what the facts are. The Commercial Farmers' Union says 6 022 farms covering 10,2 million hectares are targeted for takeover in the next few months - 95 percent of all white holdings; and that 2 900 of their 4 500 members have received "Section 8" eviction orders under the Land Acquisition Act, which required them to be off their properties by midnight August 8-9 on pain of two years' imprisonment. The CFU believed 30 percent had complied, while the rest were anxiously awaiting developments, and trying to safeguard their assets. Many had sent their families to safety. However, acting Minister of Agriculture Ignatius Chombo said a total 2 000 orders had been issued and 400 had complied with a deadline he believed was 24 hours later. "All the excuses by the farmers show what an arrogant and racist bunch they are," said Chombo, while the US State Department described the evictions as "reckless and reprehensible" when 6 million Zimbabweans already lack adequate food. Chombo likewise dismissed as "raw racism" the plea by CFU president Colin Cloete for a moratorium on Section 8 seizures and evictions, in order to sustain crop production.
Fearing being seen as provocative and also afraid that the police have orders to make mass arrests of farmers at some unspecified time, the CFU dissociated itself from test cases brought last week by farmers facing eviction. In the first, George Quinell won a temporary stay on the grounds his Section 8 order was invalid. His lawyers argued that Joseph Made ceased to be Agriculture Minister on April 1 (and was therefore not lawfully entitled to sign the order) because Mugabe has failed to gazette a new Cabinet after claiming victory in disputed March 9-11 elections. The matter has yet to be argued and formally decided. In the second case, Andrew Kockett obtained an interdict against seizure of Tengwe Estates because it was mortgaged to National Merchant Bank. Banks and other creditors who have been given title deeds as security have first claim, ruled High Court judge Charles Hungwe. At the inaugural meeting last Tuesday of a militant lobby within the CFU, the Justice for Agriculture Group (JAG), Zimbabwe's most distinguished black advocate, former judge Eric Matinenga, went much further. The legislation under which Section 8 orders were promulgated was irregularly passed by Parliament, he said, as well as being unlawful and unconstitutional. Matinenga added he had no confidence that Mugabe's regime would heed court injunctions against seizures and evictions, even if farmers wrested these from a subverted judicial bench, and declared that Zimbabweans must make a show of standing for their rights. "We must record for posterity. Sooner or later we are going to have to explain what we did," said Matinenga. "When you look at the manner in which government has legislated - it has simply criminalised those who are not criminals and made criminals saints or martyrs."
Cloete disowned JAG the following day at the CFU's 59th annual congress - possibly its last. He said CFU leaders still wished for dialogue not confrontation. Vice President Msika, invited to address the congress, said the evictions would be carried out, and also made the startling claim that only 74 white farms had been offered to the authorities for resettlement, (54 in the previous two days) under the CFU's compromise land reform plan. Cloete insists 5 million hectares have been offered, but ignored. There had been a "reticence to deal with offers," said Cloete, in a masterly understatement. Contradicting Mugabe's February 7 statement, "We will take all the land,'' Msika told Cloete: "There is room and space for everyone in this country. We are not usurping farms from anyone." Whites whose farms were acquired should apply for new land, he added, saying this way ``no one should be rendered homeless.'' "I am not a racist. I repeat, I am not a racist. I despise racism," he pledged, apparently forgetting that during the election campaign he declared: "Whites are not human." His audience had not forgotten, either, that two years ago - during one of Mugabe's many absences abroad - Msika raised false hopes by announcing that war veterans and squatters should leave commercial farms immediately. Mugabe, also flying in the face of facts, boasted Aug. 2 during a trip to Malaysia, "There is no farmer being deprived of the land, we are kicking nobody out." He added that the exercise had "gone very well" and bumper crops were expected. Diplomats in Zimbabwe can only go on facts: a catastrophic drop in production by commercial farmers while the 350 000 "new" farmers, about whom the authorities boast, show no sign of stepping into the gap. By December, 7,8 million people may be starving. By March, many may be dead.
From VOA News, 13 August
Mugabe endorses military seizure of white-owned farms
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe Tuesday formally endorsed seizure of white owned farms by members of the military. At the annual Zimbabwe Defense Forces parade, Mr. Mugabe said members of the security forces would continue to be rewarded with land. White farmers were hoping Mr. Mugabe would provide more clarity about their situation after his statement Monday, that the August 8 deadline for them to leave still stands. Hundreds have defied the order and have remained on their farms. Mr. Mugabe provided no new information when he addressed the Zimbabwe Defense Forces other than to say that the confiscation of white-owned land would continue. He said distribution of white-owned land would be completed by the end of the month and that more land would be given to members of the security forces, who he said had fought bravely in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Without giving any deadline, Mr. Mugabe said Zimbabwe's troops would be withdrawn following the recent peace deal between Rwanda and Congo.
No action has yet been taken against those who have defied the government order to quit their farms and remained in their homesteads. However, there have been sporadic incidents of violence. A white farmer and his workers in the Banket area, 80 kilometers north of Harare, are reported to have been shot at by a Harare businessman who claims to have been awarded the farm. No one was injured. Police did not intervene to disarm the man who said he wanted the farmer to leave the property so he could occupy the farm. The white farmer is one of the very few who has not been served with an eviction order. Tens of thousands of people who have been awarded land have been given until August 23 to take up residence. The government says if they are not in place they will lose the land to others. There are fears the August 23 deadline will bring more violence as those awarded the property try to take possession of farms still occupied by white farmers. Many farmers have already endured more than 30 months of intense physical and mental pressure from Mr. Mugabe's supporters. Hundreds of farmers were forced off their land in the last five months. And half of the approximately 3,000 farmers who remain on their land have been physically prevented from growing crops.
Mwenezi Sitrep – August 14, 2002
This has been a weekend holiday of intense overseas and local media interest with at least 12 interviews given. The world is trying to understand why developed producing commercial farms are being destroyed as part of an intense racial and political campaign, when the rest of the nation is starving. The period was relatively quiet over the Section 8 deadline period and without the expected sensationalism their interest dropped.
MORIA RANCH – several months ago A1 settlers were removed from this productive farm when it was delisted. Part of the farm has fruit orchards and sugar cane under irrigation and the owner had sold another bigger property in Mwenezi to Government as part of a deal. However over the holiday weekend the Ministry of Lands insisted on marking out plots in the irrigation. On complaining to the local MP the manager was told the farm would be split up under the A2 scheme and that 8 new owners would move on there and then. The farmer was to be left with only 100ha irrigation “as that was his core business”. The rest of the ranch is otherwise waterless with water being piped from the Moria Weir. When asked what would happen to the farm’s cattle the MP explained that they would discuss that when they discussed the pumping of the water. The “new owner” of the 2000ha plot at the end of the pipeline (where there is the only grazing left) is no other than the Mwenezi MP himself – I. Shumba who is Deputy Minister of Education and whose Government vehicle is often seen on the property.
KLEINBEGIN – people settled here have lease out grazing for 2000 head of cattle, which are crowding out the owner’s 300 head left there. Game has been poached at a phenomenal rate on this property, which is part of the Bubi River Conservancy. On one night 6 eland and one giraffe were killed with only two eland carcases being transported away and the rest left to rot. Only one borehole remains intact and in working order and is near the homestead after the others were sabotaged. The entire settler, cattle and game population drink there and the borehole has now dried up. Thirsty game, which are being relentlessly chased by dogs, are seeking refuge within the security fence and being killed there. More people and livestock are being moved on every day as part of the intimidatory tactic.
LOT 21A – people being bussed in onto this property in large numbers even though it has been allocated as an A2 settlement area. There is a frantic chopping and clearing and building of houses. The only water on this farm is pumped from a depth of over 100 metres.
FAUNA – police were called in to mediate when militant settlers demanded Lister engines (which had been removed for safety after several had been badly damaged) be returned to pump water for the intensive resettlement on FLORA. A compromise was reached and a previously grazing area was released for use by the owner. Settlers promised to supply diesel and pay for pump repairs once the engines were put back. Water is a major problem on all Mwenezi properties and Government has made little effort to assist the people they have settled with water.
MWENEZI – farm workers who had paid the local warlord, Vundukai, in advance on the promise of receiving maize, were sidelined when a government truck delivered maize at the weekend. Only settlers were allowed to receive maize, and this is one of several deliveries the farm workers have been excluded from, over the past month. Some farm workers have only been able to access less than 10kg of maize per month to feed themselves and their families.