|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Mugabe poisons the
Washington has felt driven to deliver a judgment on President Robert Mugabe far stronger than anyone at Westminster has yet felt able to muster. "America," declares Walter Kansteiner, the US government's Africa policy chief, "does not see President Mugabe as the democratically legitimate leader of the country". It is a timely reminder.
Because Zimbabwe is constantly in crisis, we tend to forget the lawless tactics which Mugabe employed in the presidential election to come out on top. But America is right. Though many in Europe and Africa prefer to look the other way, Mugabe is not the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe. The election he fought was invalid. His return as president was a swindle which his own courts are powerless to redress.
His seizure of white-owned farms is condemned by America as "morally disgusting madness, set to trigger a wholly avoidable famine". It is not even if as the land held by Zimbabwe's 5,000 white farmers was going to ease Africans' land hunger. As the world can plainly see, much of it is being handed over to Mugabe's family and supporters. His wife has just chosen her own farm and told its occupants to get packing.
Talk of land reform turns out to be sheer hypocrisy. During yesterday's outburst, Mr Kansteiner was joined by Andrew Natsios, administrator of USAid, America's aid agency. Called on to deliver another dollop of relief to repair Mugabe's blunders, he too was outspoken. "It is a disgusting grab, where you're just basically stealing land from one group to another. The distinction here is, the group that's being stolen from are very good farmers, and the people they're giving the land to cannot farm anything."
Aware that Mugabe is striving to restrict the distribution of food to his own supporters, so that his political opponents starve, America will deliver relief through independent agencies and charities and keep it out of the hands of the Zimbabwean government. Such food, America insists, will not be used for political or economic purposes. Mugabe's decision to use food as an instrument for starving his political opponents seems to have been a turning point for America.
This outburst of anger from Washington is hardly surprising. President Bush has an agenda for Africa which Mugabe's conduct is making ever harder to implement. The only nations that can deal effectively with someone such as Mugabe are African nations. For deep-seated reasons they are reluctant to condemn him. South Africa's government, in particular, seems unwilling to lift a finger to check Mugabe's inhuman conduct against his own people. Observing this, much of the world is running out of sympathy for the continent. That great emotional stream that poured help into Africa at the time of the Ethiopian famine in 1984-85 has dried up. Some of the charities that serve Africa are finding it hard to attract public sympathy. In short, Mugabe is poisoning the wells of goodwill. He has not only ruined his own country but is on the way to turning much of the world against Africa. America shows us she has a firmer grasp of that sad truth than we do.
Mugabe cheated his way to power and
he must go, says US
By David Rennie in Washington and Anton La Guardia, Diplomatic Editor
America has issued its strongest attack yet on President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, describing him as an illegitimate leader who won power by fraud and saying it would encourage his people to "correct that situation".
Stopping just short of calling for a change of regime, Walter Kansteiner, the US government's Africa policy chief, said America does "not see President Mugabe as the democratically legitimate leader of the country".
Mr Kansteiner said Washington was working with countries in Africa and Europe to "encourage the body politic of Zimbabwe" to "correct that situation and start providing an environment that would lead to a free and fair election".
US support being offered to Zimbabwean aid organisations and human rights groups is reminiscent of the West's successful move to undermine Slobodan Milosevic by providing Serbian pro-democracy activists with money, computers and other aid.
In the strongest comments made by the Bush administration, Mr Kansteiner, the assistant secretary of state for Africa, said: "It is madness to arrest commercial farmers in the middle of a drought when they could grow food to save people from starvation."
Mr Kansteiner noted that, despite the drought, Zimbabwe's reservoirs were full, and commercial farms would have been able to feed the people of southern Africa if Mr Mugabe had not closed them all.
The British Government will be happy to allow Washington to take the lead on Zimbabwe, given Mr Mugabe's attempts to present the crisis as a struggle between native Africans and Britain, the former colonial power.
Mr Kansteiner, briefing reporters in Washington, was flanked by Andrew Natsios, the administrator of USAid, the American government aid agency.
In unusually angry comments, Mr Natsios, who was there to announce an additional 190,000 tons of food aid for southern Africa, attacked Mr Mugabe for handing white farms to members of his family, cabinet ministers and the military.
"It is a disgusting grab, where you're just basically stealing land from one group to [give to] another. The distinction here is, the group that's being stolen from are very good farmers, and the people they're giving the land to cannot farm anything," Mr Natsios said.
All US food aid would be distributed through independent organisations, church groups and charities, rather than the Zimbabwean government, Mr Natsios said.
Mr Kansteiner accused Mr Mugabe of a "gross violation" of aid policy, by distributing food to members of his own political party, rather than on the basis of need. America had "confirmed reports" of such abuses, notably in the worst affected southern areas of the country, he said.
In an apparent attempt to forestall the inevitable accusations from Mr Mugabe that he is being undermined by colonial forces, Mr Kansteiner played down the role of Western countries, saying he was working with South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique on isolating Mr Mugabe.
Washington was working with opposition groups and independent journalists within Zimbabwe, and with "a number of the European Community countries too", he said. He did not mention Britain.
America was not considering a general trade embargo, Mr Kansteiner said. "A trade embargo is a blunt instrument that could in fact affect the general population, and we do not want to do that."
Last night the Harare government accused the US and Britain of waging a "racist" campaign and using "bullying tactics" to isolate Mr Mugabe and maintain white economic dominance in southern Africa.
As scores of white farmers went into hiding to escape a round-up by Zimbabwean police, a senior Bush administration official called Mr Mugabe's rule "illegitimate and irrational" and said that his re-election as president in March was won through fraud.
Walter Kansteiner, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, went on to blame Mr Mugabe's policies for contributing to the threat of famine in Zimbabwe.
"We do not see President Mugabe as the democratically legitimate leader of the country," he said. "The political status quo is unacceptable because the elections were fraudulent. So we're working with others, other countries in the region as well as throughout the world, on how we can in fact, together, encourage the body politic of Zimbabwe to in fact go forward and correct that situation."
Mr Kansteiner said the US was working with trade unions, pro-democracy groups and human rights organisations to bring about change. He did not say how he believed Mr Mugabe could be brought down, but dismissed the possibility of a trade embargo, calling it "a blunt instrument" that would hurt ordinary Zimbabweans.
Mr Mugabe is likely to seize on Mr Kansteiner's statement to reinforce his contention that his opponents are stooges for western neo-colonialism.
Shortly after the US official's remarks, a senior Zimbabwean foreign affairs official told Reuters: "The legitimacy of our political system or our president is not dependent on America, Britain or any other country, but on Zimbabweans.
"The bullying tactics that America and Britain are using against us are meant to frustrate our quest for social and economic justice, to stop our programme to redistribute some of the very large tracts of land held by whites here to the indigenous black people."
The US attack on Mr Mugabe came after police began arresting white farmers for defying an August 9 deadline to vacate their land and homes. Initially, more than half of the 2,900 farmers had refused to obey, but after police began making arrests, many packed up and went.
So far, 215 commercial farmers have been arrested on a charge that carries a two-year prison sentence. Many have been released on bail, sometimes on condition that they leave their farms within days.
One of those detained has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly driving his vehicle at four policemen.
Police spokesman Sergeant Lovemore Sibanda said that scores more had gone into hiding.
"The farmers we are looking for are those who vacated their farms, leaving behind their wives and children. Others left the doors of their farmhouses locked, with all the property inside, hoping to return later," he said.
The government has appealed to poor black people to move on to the expropriated land immediately in an attempt to help address the country's dire food shortages.
Harare blames drought for a massive shortfall in this year's harvest. But Andrew Natsios, the head of the US Agency for International Development, says Mr Mugabe's policies have contributed to the threat of famine. "It is madness to arrest commercial farmers in the middle of a drought when they could grow food to save people from starvation," he said.
Mr Natsios accused the Zimbabwean government of using the expropriated farms to reward politicians loyal to Mr Mugabe, and military officers, instead of giving them to the poor and landless.
About six million people, half of Zimbabwe's
population, are likely to be in need of food aid within weeks, according to the
UN. But only a fraction of the 1.5m tonnes of food needed to avert famine has
COUNTRY. S.AFRICA, WE BELIEVE, HOLD THE KEY IN BRINGING ABOUT POSITIVE
CHANGE IN ASSISTING HER NEIGHBOUR TO SAVE HER RESOURCES, BIODIVERSITY,
WILDLIFE, DOMESTIC ANIMALS & ALLEVIATE THE STARVATION AND UNEMPLOYMENT OF HER PEOPLE.
AFRICAN RENAISSANCE - LIBERTY & JUSTICE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE, ANIMALS & LAND
IN A FREE & DEMOCRATIC ZIMBABWE.
7.8 MILLION PEOPLE NEED FOOD ASSISTANCE - 3 MILLION WILL DIE....
65 - 80% UNEMPLOYED
FERTILE LAND LYING FALLOW
FARMWORKERS ARE & WILL BE LANDLESS
RAMPANT POACHING - WILD ANIMALS LEFT TO DIE LONG AND PAINFUL DEATHS
ILLEGAL HUNTING WITH DOGS - SLAUGHTER ON A DAILY BASIS
KMS OF FENCING TORN DOWN FOR SNARES, WATER PIPES BROKEN
MASSIVE DEFORESTATION OF PRIME HABITATS - BURNING OF LAND
TOURISTS FORCED OUT OF SAFARI CAMPS BY IRATE WAR VETS
UP TO 600,000 ANIMALS POACHED IN THE LAST 2 YRS - UP TO 60% OF WILDLIFE
ONGOING REPORTS OF CATTLE BEING AXED, 8 MTH OLD CALF AXED 9 TIMES -
HORRIFIC ABUSE AGAINST DOMESTIC ANIMALS
A LAND & HER PEOPLE IN CHAOS -
JOIN US IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE INNOCENT VICTIMS OF ZIM
ORGANISED BY: WILGE YOUTH, CEEP - COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAM, ANIMAL ACT MAGAZINE & ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE MOTORCYCLE CLUB.
News Release (On behalf of Justice for Agriculture) THE SCHULTZ family have been evicted off their Mupandaguta farm despite a nullified Section 8 acquisition notice; a night in a Banket jail with charges withdrawn before plea and the fact that he is a single farm owner. Former War Veterans leader, Joseph Chinotimba, who is also vice president of Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions was in the area today assisting a senior official of the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), to evict Vince (57) and Monica (58) Schultz by forcing the retrenchment of their 135 permanent employees at the Banket based farm. A security co-ordinator in the area was informed by the Banket Officer in Charge, Inspector Bare, that his officers would not assist in this instance as they have received instructions to disregard any High Court Orders. They apparently will only follow written instruction from the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture. The ZUPCO official is said to be the company's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bright Matonga, who has visited the property on previous occasions, claiming it as his own. Schultz and his wife were advised by Inspector Bare to move off the farm after they had been threatened by Matonga, whom they found at the Police station in the company of Chinotimba, when they went to make a report. Trouble for the Schultz's came to the fore on the morning of Tuesday 20 August when a vehicle, which had been to the farm on 3 previous occasions, arrived with 4 occupants. Matonga then left two militia to guard 'his' property, and returned around midday with 3 more militia. Matonga proceeded to the rose houses where he gathered the workers and informed them that he was the new boss and they were free to work for him after Schultz had paid them all monies due to them. Matonga then went to the office and informed Schultz that as from then he was the new owner and Schultz should vacate the property in two days. At this point, he stopped all work and instructed the driver not to deliver roses to the airport the following day. He also instructed the workers to congregate at the gate in the morning and that they would be paid all monies due to them on the 21st August. On the afternoon of the 21st, Matonga arrived whilst Schultz was having tea with friends. After a short argument about the legality of what he was doing, he told Schultz that he was not impressed that he (Schultz) had not yet vacated the house. Matonga went on to say that if Schultz was not off the farm by the 22nd, he would return with a battalion of militia and remove him. He left five militia to guard the gate and will not allow anyone to visit. Schultz promptly went to the police station and made a report to the officer in charge about the threats. The Schultz's who were first served with a Section 8 notice on the 21st of April this year, contested the order in court in June and it was declared null and void due to a technicality. This was stamped and signed by the High Court on the 24th of June. However they were subsequently served with a section 7. On Sunday 18th August at 11.30am, Schultz was informed that a police landrover was parked at the front gate and was sounding its horn. Schultz did not go an open the gate, however they found a pedestrian gate open and entered the premises armed with a big stick, which they claimed was to ward off any dogs. They told Schultz that they were taking him to the police station for questioning and that he should bring his documents with him. On arrival, he was informed that he was being arrested for contravening section 8. He was subsequently instructed to remove his shoes and jersey and was left with two items of clothing and locked in a cell with 11 other people. Schultz appeared before a Chinhoyi magistrate on Monday. His case was withdrawn before plea and he was allowed to return home. Ends. 22 August 2002 Contact Jenni Williams on Mobile (+263) 91 300456 or 11213 885 Or on email: email@example.com Or Fax (+2639) 63978 or (+2634) 703829 Office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's President, justifies his policy of seizing white-owned farms the same way he justifies everything -- as a campaign against the vestiges of colonialism. "Land, being the most important natural resource of any country," he says, "must belong to ... the indigenous people."
But for the most part, the only "indigenous people" who have profited from the seizures are uneducated thugs loyal to Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Because these men have no farming experience, Zimbabwe teeters on the brink of starvation -- its once bountiful white-owned farms divided into black-owned weed warrens.
And just in case there's anyone out there who still gives credence to Mr. Mugabe's anti-colonial posturing, this just in: Grace Mugabe, Mr. Mugabe's 38-year-old wife, has personally taken ownership of a choice white-owned plot called Iron Mask. A land-reform campaign launched under the banner of reversing a racist legacy has descended into baldfaced criminal nepotism.
A comparison with Nelson Mandela, the hero of the campaign against white rule in adjacent South Africa, is instructive. When Mr. Mandela's wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, discredited his cause by engaging in criminal activity, he distanced himself from her and eventually sought a divorce: Loyalty to family was trumped by the struggle for racial justice. But in Mr. Mugabe's case, his wife's crime is actually part of his program: Black empowerment is merely a fig leaf -- personal enrichment and political opportunism comprise his real agenda.
For years, Mr. Mugabe has sought to portray himself as Zimbabwe's Nelson Mandela. But in every other aspect except skin colour, the two men are polar opposites.
But South Africa has intervened on behalf of two of its citizens arrested in Zimbabwe for defying government eviction orders, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad told Reuters news agency.
There can never be a policy for South Africa to replace any government
Aziz Pahad, Deputy Foreign Minister
Earlier this week, the most senior US expert on Africa said that the US was working with South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana to isolate Mr Mugabe in the region.
Analysts say that South Africa could hold the key to Zimbabwe's future and President Thabo Mbeki has been widely criticised for being too soft on Mr Mugabe.
Mr Mugabe and other Zimbabwean leaders are already the subject of a travel ban and have their foreign assets frozen by both the US and European Union following his controversial re-election earlier this year.
"There can never be a policy for South Africa to replace any government... to discuss with anybody about how to replace another government," Mr Pahad told Reuters.
Mozambique has also denied any involvement.
"I am not aware of any initiative of that kind with us... Our approach to Zimbabwe is to bring everybody on board to find solutions," Reuters quotes Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao as saying.
The US State Department's African affairs chief, Walter Kansteiner, said on Tuesday that the US did not recognise Mr Mugabe as Zimbabwe's legitimate leader.
"We're continuing to work with the South Africans and the Botswanans and the Mozambicans on what are some of the strategies that we can use to isolate Mugabe in the sense that he has to realise that the political status quo is not acceptable," he said.
The chief whip of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has also dismissed the US attacks on Zimbabwe's Government.
"The Americans don't even know where Zimbabwe is," Jerome Gumbo told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
"It is very unfair, especially coming from the administration of George Bush, which came to power in a very strange way," he said.
The most senior United States aid official also launched a blistering attack on the policies of President Mugabe.
These risk turning a drought into a famine affecting half the population - six million people - said Andrew Natsios, head of the United States Agency for International Aid (USAid).
The mechanised, irrigated white-owned farms were an "insurance policy" for the entire region, he said.
Despite the drought, reservoirs on these farms were full of water, which was not being used, Mr Natsios said.
But he blamed several different policies for worsening the food crisis:
"It is madness to arrest commercial farmers in the middle of a drought, when they could grow food to save people from starvation," he said.
Zimbabwe has responded to the US comments by accusing the Americans and Europeans of opposing the policy of redistributing farmland from whites to blacks on "racist" grounds, Reuters reports.
Among the 215 white farmers arrested so far for not leaving their land two are South Africans.
Six South African-owned farms have been listed for acquisition and Mr Pahad said that Pretoria's High Commissioner in Harare is in touch with the Zimbabwe Government about them, but he would not say whether Mr Mugabe was being asked to exempt their farms from the land redistribution programme.
South Africa is by far the biggest economy in southern Africa and has been badly hit by the Zimbabwe crisis, with some investors fleeing the entire region.
In another development, Zimbabwe's state lawyers have admitted that eviction orders served on 30 farmers had lapsed and so were invalid.
Lawyer Lewis Uriri told BBC News Online that this meant the government had to start again with the process of evicting those farmers.
He was not aware of any of the 30 being arrested.
Farmer Colin Shand says this he was arrested and ordered to leave his farm even though his eviction order had been declared invalid.
|Mugabe-inspired Nujoma eyes
Windhoek - Namibian President Sam Nujoma, who
has backed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's land redistribution and
other policies, sounded a warning to white Namibian farmers still holding
on to vast tracts of land.
"Today it is Zimbabwe, tomorrow it is Namibia or any other country. We must unite and support Zimbabwe. What is happening in Zimbabwe is British imperialism," he said.
Nujoma made the remarks as Zimbabwe arrested more than 100 farmers and started to forcibly remove them from their farms.
About 243 000 landless black Namibians are still waiting for land and to resettle them the government needs about R1,1-billion to buy 9,5 million hectares.
Namibia has 4 045 commercial farms. About 30,5 million ha is owned by white farmers and 22 million ha by black farmers. Nujoma's government is concerned by the slow pace of the willing seller, willing buyer policy of acquiring land for resettlement and said it would consider other means of acquiring land.
Lands Minister Hifikepunye Pohamba appealed to white farmers to "be serious and co-operate with the government" in its efforts to make land available to the majority blacks. Since independence in 1990, the Namibian government has acquired 105 commercial farms, of 599 077 ha, and re-settled just over 30 000 people. - Independent Foreign Service
He stressed the importance of stopping the "madness and badness" of Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe from impacting on the nation's people.
The idea of military action resolving this from outside is crazy
Mr Straw said military intervention would not help resolve the current crisis which threatens the lives of millions of Zimbabweans.
Last week Prince Charles reportedly urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to do more to help British citizens fleeing Zimbabwe.
'Sense of frustration'
The foreign secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday: "There is an immediate and mounting humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
"It is hitting white farmers at the moment ... and their plight is terrible.
"The plight of their black employees, who are being thrown off the land, is even worse."
Mr Straw said while he felt the same frustration as everyone else over the situation, he reasoned: "In the end, the future of Zimbabwe has to be in the hands of the Zimbabwean people.
"What we have to do, however, is to support the forces of democracy in Zimbabwe meanwhile, to sustain the people against starvation and increasingly, to isolate the Mugabe regime and that's exactly what we are doing in concert with the international community."
But, he said: "If I had a magic wand. If there was some way - people say do more - well, by God, I am in the market for any additional suggestions about the more that we can do.
"We have more than doubled the food aid and humanitarian aid we are providing to Zimbabwe.
"That is a way of ensuring the madness and badness of Mugabe does not impact to any great degree on the poor people of Zimbabwe.
"What we have done ... is isolate Mugabe."
In a letter to Mr Straw on Wednesday, shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram made a comparison between UK action taken in the Balkans and against ex-Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic with action taken against Zimbabwe and Mugabe.
'Evil as Milosevic'
He asked: "What is the difference between state murder and torture in Kosovo and in Zimbabwe?
"Why was the government so keen to take direct action in Kosovo and is pathetically silent and inactive on Zimbabwe? Mugabe is every bit as evil as Milosevic."
But Mr Straw retorted: "If Mr Ancram is saying invade, military action, then let him say so.
He said: "The idea of military action resolving this from outside is crazy.
"It would lead to a blood bath. It would lead to the immediate declaration of Mugabe as a hero for the whole of southern Africa.
"There would be no international coalition for it.
"I cannot think of anything that Mugabe would more relish than the idea that western powers were seeking to get together some kind of military invasion force."
Free and fair elections
When the UK was the colonial power for the then Rhodesia, it had been unable to muster such a force to deal with a rebellion by white settlers in 1965, said Mr Straw.
The UK had to help, increasingly, to help the "forces of democracy" in Zimbabwe, to enable them to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible so the people can choose their own leader, he added.
Sanctions imposed by the European Union earlier this year were tightened and targeted against the leaders of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Opponents of President Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe have rebuked the UK government for failing to do enough to help the plight of Britons in the troubled country.
The criticism from Zimbabwean campaign groups came as the first white farmers were being evicted from their land by militants.
Foreign Secretary comments on intervention in Zimbabwe
In an interview for BBC radio on 22 August, the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw answered questions about the Government's reaction to the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe
Read the interview the Foreign Secretary gave to the BBC in full below:
What is your response to the situation in Zimbabwe?
This is a desperate situation and it's getting worse. It is hitting white
farmers at the moment, we hear a great deal about that in the news and their
plight is terrible but as they are the first to say, the plight of their own
black employees who are being thrown off the land is even worse.
And when I talk as I spoke yesterday to the Foreign Ministers of South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique, their own sense of frustration about what is happening and the way in which Mugabe's bad and mad economic and social policies are impoverishing not just Zimbabwe, but the whole of the region, is palpable.
But let me just use the example of South Africa because in the end it's future had to be in the hands of the South African people and it was not until that a realisation, in this case by the white political elite who'd seized power in South Africa, that there had to be a democratic path for South Africa's future, that you then had negotiations between F W de Clerk and Mandela leading to now a much more benign path.
What we have to do is to support the forces of democracy in Zimbabwe meanwhile to sustain the people against starvation meanwhile and increasingly to isolate the Mugabe regime and that is exactly what we're doing in concert with the international community.
Not very effectively. I mean the fact is there is international law that
allows them to travel around the country and around the world.
Look, my frustration with that is the same as everybody else's. But let me
just say what we are doing. First of all there is an immediate and mounting
humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
What have we done the British Government with Clare Short? We have more than doubled the food aid and humanitarian aid we're providing to Zimbabwe. That is a way of ensuring that the madness and badnesses of Mugabe do not impact to an even greater degree on the poor people of Zimbabwe.
Secondly what we have done to a much greater extent that anybody suggested we'd be able to achieve is isolate Mugabe. We've got the Commonwealth to suspend them from the councils of the Commonwealth. That was done by African leaders, Presidents Obasenji and Mbeke of Nigeria and South Africa. Everybody said they wouldn't do it, they did do it. They stood up against Mugabe. And then inside the European Union because Mugabe stole the election and that was obvious the European Union which where the other fourteen traditionally actually stood back from the issue and said this is an argument, domestic argument between Britain, former Colonial power, and Zimbabwe, leave it to them, they've joined with us. We also imposed sanctions in March and at the end of July at my request the sanctions were considerably tightened. And those sanctions are targeted against the leaders of Zanu PF, not against the people of Zimababwe.
But again not very effective in lots of ways and again not necessarily your
fault. What the Conservatives say is to point to things like Kosovo, Sierra
Leone and Afghanistan where we got involved. We're not actually doing anything
practical, physical in terms of Zimbabwe.
Well I listened very carefully to Michael on many occasions and he normally
says you've got to do something. Well we are doing things. We're doing all the
practical things that we can. If the point that's being made with Kosovo and
Afghanistan is that we should assemble a military task force and invade Zimbabwe
then the Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman had better say so.
And if they did you'd call that nonsense.
It would lead to a blood bath. It would lead to the immediate declaration of
Mugabe as a hero of the whole of Southern Africa. There'd be no international
coalition for it. I can't think of anything that Mugabe would more relish than
the idea that Western powers would seek to get together some kind of military
We weren't able when we were the Colonial power in face of a rebellion by the white settlers in 1965 when the circumstances were much more propitious for a military invasion, and we couldn't possibly do it now.
But if Mr Ancram is saying invade, military action, well let him say so. If he's not saying so then he must accept that the comparison with Kosovo and Afghanistan is just silly and meanwhile what we've got to do is, is to ensure that the focus is on Mugabe and what he is doing. Yes it is frustrating, yes it is, but we have increasingly to isolate the Mugabe regime, that's what we're doing.
We've got increasingly to help the people of Zimbabwe and meanwhile we've got to support the forces of democracy in there because if we and the Americans and the European Union and everybody else is saying, the crucial thing there is that there should be free and fair elections held as soon as possible, so the Zimbabwe people can choose who should lead them.
|22 Aug 2002|
NGOs struggle as Zimbabwe farm showdown looms
By Busani Bafana
|World Vision Zimbabwe officials prepare to start food
distribution in Mount Darwin, Mashonaland Province. |
Photo by BUSANI BAFANA
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (AlertNet) - Relief agencies in Zimbabwe are preparing for an even bigger aid operation as the food crisis worsens and a showdown looms between the government and commercial farmers defying an order to vacate their lands.
More than six million people in Zimbabwe, formerly the breadbasket of southern Africa, face starvation.
The government has stepped up food imports despite limited financial resources, a poor response to its international appeal and an increasingly negative perception of the country abroad.
The impasse between Zimbabwe's 2,900 white commercial farmers and the government has done little to help the country's efforts to ensure that no one starves.
There are fears that the removal of the commercial farmers in the name of land redistribution would aggravate the food situation, besides setting the stage for a violent confrontation between new settlers and farmers who have stood their ground.
In addition, the livelihoods of an estimated 300,000 farm workers are in limbo.
Coverage of the dispute has made the challenge facing NGOs in sourcing international food aid even greater.
Governments in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia have declared a state of emergency to try to attract international donor aid to contain the crisis.
Despite a swift response by the international community in mobilising food and personnel, the need on the ground remains overwhelming, NGOs say.
"So far we are looking at increasing the amount of food we will distribute by three fold," said Norbert Dube, spokesman for a consortium of NGOs operating in Matebeleland, which are implementing partners of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP).
MORE PEOPLE THAN EVER AFFECTED
The NGOs have distributed maize, beans, cooking oil and porridge, all imported. They are covering 19 districts in Matabeleland North but say food shortages are affecting more people than ever.
This follows the combined effects of flash floods in 2001, poor harvests, drought and agricultural disruptions.
"We are still distributing food and from this month we increased the number of districts in which we distribute food. The Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP) alone will feed about 155,000 people in Matebeleland North province," Dube said.
|Lucia Chinzara smiles after receiving food aid in
Mount Darwin. |
Photo by BUSANI BAFANA
Dube said the number of schools benefiting from supplementary feeding had increased from 130 to 260. The feeding is expected to continue until the end of the harvest in March next year.
"The programme no doubt will cost millions of dollars. We cannot really quantify the exact cost to normalise the food situation," he said. "In some places…we have received cases of clinical malnutrition."
In an effort to avert malnutrition, several NGOs are carrying out supplementary feeding for children under five.
Participating NGOs include CAFOD, the Farm Community Trust, Care Zimbabwe and Plan International, which are running supplementary feeding programmes in the provinces of Matebeleland, Mashonaland, Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands.
World Vision Zimbabwe (WVZ), in partnership with the WFP, launched a food aid distribution programme in Gwanda South, about 200 km south of Bulawayo, early this year.
WVZ communications officer Vongai Makamure said that, under the food aid programme, her organisation expected to distribute more than 32,000 tonnes of food over 12 months.
FOOD FOR WORK
"World Vision plans to move from free food distribution to food for work in consultation with the local authorities," she told AlertNet.
Last month WVZ, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched a food aid programme for people in Beitbridge and Bulilimamangwe districts.
The USAID-funded food being distributed by WVZ will cover almost 100,000 people in the two districts over nine months.
U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Kenzo Oshima, launched an appeal for U.S.$285 million for Zimbabwe in New York last month.
Approximately U.S.$230 million of the appeal will go towards food and the rest will be used for agricultural recovery and health programmes.
The WFP has said that pledges of up to 66,600 tonnes of food aid have been made to date.
An FAO/WFP Crop and food supply assessment report for Zimbabwe noted that all districts were in need of food aid for 2002/2003 and this made geographical targeting of food aid difficult.
"While the required amount of food aid varies from one district to another, the nine districts in northern parts of the country that experienced a reasonable harvest will require less assistance than other areas. The greatest food aid need is in the traditionally food insecure districts of Matebeleland, Masvingo and Manicaland Provinces," the report said.
The reluctance of the Zimbabwe government to accept genetically modified maize has also raised concern about the need to get food quickly to those who need it.
Last month, the Zimbabwe government refused 10 tonnes of U.S. maize that did not have a certificate indicating that it had not been genetically modified. Joint missions by the WFP and the FAO have confirmed that up to 13 million people in southern Africa face starvation unless emergency food aid can reach them.
The United Nations has appealed for a total of U.S.$611 million in emergency aid for southern Africa.
The funds would be earmarked mainly for immediate food shipments, but some would also go towards agriculture, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and child protection services.
By Lloyd Mudiwa and Precious Shumba
‘Ministry of Agriculture concedes in court that
eviction orders are of no force and effect’
The government has conceded that the Section 8 orders
it issued for the acquisition of 38 commercial farms in Mashonaland West
province were invalid and of no effect, according to papers filed in the High
Court in Harare.
This emerged during the hearing yesterday of 51 applications before Justice Charles Hungwe. The applications challenge the validity of the acquisition orders by farmers mostly from Hurungwe district.The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, responding to 38 of the applications this month, said the orders were of no force and effect.
One such response, dated 5 August, followed an application by Vachery Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd, which owns Lembwe Farm in Lomagundi District.
“It is common cause the Section 8 order served on the applicant lapsed by operation of law for want of filing a Section 7 court application to the Administrative Courts within the prescribed time,” reads the document. “The Ministry does not oppose the relief sought.”
Earlier this week, Macgregor Kufa, a Mwenezi magistrate, ruled that four farmers arrested for refusing to vacate their designated properties remain on their farms until the constitutionality of the evictions is determined by the Supreme Court.
The police, however, continue to arrest farmers for failing to vacate their properties by 9 August. All the 51 farmers in Mashonaland West were seeking orders declaring the Section 5 notice of acquisition and Section 8 orders null and void. In the remaining 13 cases, the ministry failed to respond to the farmers’ applications within the prescribed period. The State, represented by Nicholas Mutsonziwa of the Attorney-General’s Office, was barred from contesting the issuing of the orders to the farmers. But Hungwe postponed the granting of the orders sought by the farmers to next Wednesday in response to Mutsonziwa’s request.
Hungwe said: “I am reluctant to grant a postponement because the matter is unopposed, but I considered the State’s application because it is
a matter of national importance.“The court takes note of the general state of agriculture in the country and the problems that the government and farmers are trying to resolve.
“But the court hopes that such matters are resolved amicably and not by confrontation. “The court does not want to be seen as an impediment so that these problems can be quickly resolved, although Mutsonziwa failed to provide suggestions of how this could be done.”
Mutsonziwa had applied for a postponement of two weeks. He argued that if orders were granted yesterday, there would be serious security problems for the farmers, the new settlers, and their properties. He could not say how the nature of the insecurity and security affected the fact that the matter was supposed to be dealt with as an unopposed matter.
Opposing Mutsonziwa’s application, Jeremy Callow, the lawyer for 43 of the farmers, accused the government of threatening them with violence.
“If I have understood his submissions as to the security situation, it’s almost as if there is an implied threat. “As Zimbabweans and landowners, are they not automatically entitled, as you and I and any other citizens are, to the protection of the State?” In all the cases the deadline for the government to oppose the farmers’ applications had expired and in others the government had admitted that the Section 8 orders were invalid, he said. Meanwhile, Barry James Warwick, 34, and Gemma Frances Nicholson, 51, of Gurungwe and Tengenenge farms, both in Guruve, appeared before provincial magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe yesterday charged with violating the eviction orders.
Guvamombe, who ordered the Guruve farmers to vacate their properties by Monday 4pm until their matter was finalised, remanded them on $10 000 bail each to 29 August.
Seven other farmers appeared before the same magistrate on Saturday.
Guvamombe said he would rule on Warwick’s application for refusal to be placed on formal remand on 3 September. He rejected a letter by the district administrator (DA) for Guruve allowing Nicholson to remain on her farm, saying he was not the regulatory authority. He ordered the DA to appear in court to testify.
By Precious Shumba
COLIN Cloete, the president of the Commercial
Farmers’ Union (CFU) said on Monday his members were justified in resisting
vacating their farms under Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act.
Cloete said thousands of commercial farmers had
resisted the eviction orders because they were challenging the unlawful
delisting of their farms in the High Court. But Bharat Patel, the Deputy
Attorney-General, insisted the ongoing evictions were lawful. Patel said: “I am
not sure what’s happening. The only case before the High Court is about farmer
George Pretorious Quinell who is challenging those preliminary orders.” Quinell
was provisionally allowed to remain on his Nyalugwe farm by Justice Benjamin
Paradza on 4 July in the High Court. Cloete is one of the seven farmers in
Selous who appeared before a Chegutu magistrate on Monday charged with violating
the Section 8 orders which made it illegal for white commercial farmers to
remain on their properties after 9 August.
All the farmers are out on $5 000 bail and will appear at the Chegutu Magistrates’ Court on 30 August. “The farmers cannot be convicted outside a court of law.” Cloete said. “We have challenged our farms’ delisting in the High Court and now we have been arrested and ordered out of our properties before the matters have even been finalised in court.” He said the government’s use of the controversial Section 8 orders was unlawful as it rendered the legal course to address disputes irrelevant. About 2 900 Zimbabwean commercial farmers were served with Section 8 orders by the government.
Cloete said: “The evictions might suit the politicians but certainly they do not suit the farming season which is upon us. “This has rendered the farmers destitute and their workers homeless and jobless. Farmers have a greater responsibility to feed the nation and they have bank loans to repay.” Cloete said the provisions of the Section 8 orders were vague and clearly exposed the government’s unwillingness to pursue food production in the face of a famine. The UN World Food Programme has repeatedly said the country faces severe famine that threatens the lives of about six million Zimbabweans, nearly half the country’s population. Cloete said the eviction orders said that farmers have to vacate their farms within 90 days once they have been served with Section 8 orders.
“That only makes sense to politicians,” Cloete said. “There is no crop that is grown and harvested within 90 days.” He said once a farmer received the eviction order, he was expected to cease farming activities within the first 45 days and should vacate the farms within the remaining 45 days. The CFU president said if a farmer had grown wheat before receiving the eviction orders, then it meant they would lose their investment. He said he had abandoned 20 000kg of upgraded tobacco worth about $4 million and 70 distraught permanent workers.
From Sue Lloyd-Roberts in Bulawayo
IT’S quite simple. Those who have Zanu PF cards get
food; those who don’t starve.” The man explaining the politics of food in
Zimbabwe today is speaking in a hotel room in the city of Bulawayo.
It is too dangerous to talk in his home. The name of
the 34-year-old railway worker must be concealed, along with the name of the
hotel whose manager allowed 20 hungry black Zimbabweans to talk to me, and the
name of the church mission who brought them. Any criticism of the government is
considered a slur on President Mugabe and his party and can result in charges of
conspiracy and subversion. In the absence of food, fear is the staple diet in
Zimbabwe. “The food trucks arrive in the villages once a week,” the man
explains. “Everyone has to stand up and shout ‘Long Live Robert Mugabe!’, ‘Down
with the whites!’ and ‘Down with Morgan Tsvangirai!’,” (the opposition leader).
“Only those who can prove they are members of the Zanu PF can stay in the queue.
They say to the others ‘go and get your food from Tony Blair in No 10 Downing Street in London!’ But we don’t know where London is.” As everyone in the hotel room nods in agreement, a woman, a former shop assistant whose husband died of Aids, begins to cry. “My seven children are starving. I heard that food was being delivered in a village 40 kilometres away” she says. “When I arrived, they said I could not have any because I supported the whites and the opposition party during the election. I dare not go home and face my children. I wish I could die.” Drought is causing famine across Southern Africa. In Zimbabwe the catastrophe is aggravated by the collapse of commercial farming, and manipulation of food supplies. “There is only food available for half the country of 13 million people,” an economist in Harare said.
“Robert Mugabe is employing the tactics of Pol Pot. He plans to get rid of the dissenting half of the population by starving them to death.” A village close to Nkayi, in the Midlands region of Zimbabwe, made the mistake of voting for the opposition in last February’s elections. Now its people are being punished. No food trucks arrive here and there are only 44lb of maize left for 200 people until the next harvest in June. Sithembiso Sekai sits in a forlorn heap outside her house, watching her painfully thin eldest daughter crack muphura, a foul-tasting wild nut, to feed to the other four children. The baby at her breast lies asleep, exhausted by the effort of sucking to no avail.
At the neighbouring house 15-year-old Musa prepares a supper of cow’s intestines and one tomato for her family of 16. They have two cows left. Her father, Simba, worked on a white-owned commercial farm before he was laid off when the farm was invaded by black squatters. He says that once the cows have gone, they will have nothing and the family will starve. While Mugabe appeals to the outside world for food, the 2 900 or so white farmers who are left have been forbidden from planting crops. They have watched helplessly as the war veterans and their hangers-on have invaded their farms, slaughtered their cattle and poached the wildlife. “It’s the paradox in Zimbabwe today,” says Peter Rosenfels, under siege at his farm near Bulawayo. “While the government carries a begging bowl we, the producers of food, are being criminalised. Zimbabwe once fed the region. Now we can’t feed ourselves.” – Times (UK) /Zwnews.com
MDC provincial chairman detained for allegedly breaching bail conditions
From Our Correspondent in Masvingo
Edmore Marima, the MDC provincial chairman in
Masvingo, was arrested on Monday for allegedly breaching his bail
conditions.Marima was detained at Chipinge Police Station but no formal
charges were laid against him.
The police in Chipinge said they were waiting
for the officer commanding Chipinge district to formally charge Marima.
Marima is facing a murder charge arising from the death of Gibson
Masarira, a Zanu PF activist allegedly killed by MDC supporters in Zaka
during the run-up to the presidential election in March. He was remanded
out custody on $10 000 bail. He was ordered to report once every Friday to
Birchenough Bridge police in Manicaland. e was also ordered not to move
out of his Mapari resort area without permission from the police.
Marima’s lawyer, Tongai Matutu, confirmed that Marima was in police custody. Contacted on his mobile phone on Monday Marima said: “I am still in police custody. “The police are alleging that they saw my vehicle in Chipinge over the weekend. “I have a driver and my wife can drive and therefore it does not follow that if you see my car I will be in that car.”
THE last thing a government on a slippery
international slope as President Mugabe’s is right now would ever want is
the deportation of a former counsellor at the Libyan Embassy, reportedly
heavily involved in the procurement of oil for Zimbabwe from that country.
Yousef Saleh Murgham had to hurriedly leave his
Zimbabwean-born wife and children in Harare after being declared persona
non grata by the government: he knew too much.
No government deports a prominent national of a friendly country unless that individual has become either deadly dangerous or deadly useless to both.
Until either government comes clean, people will be free to speculate.
The juiciest but also the most terrifying speculation must be that Murgham had been hired to assassinate Morgan Tsvangirai before the presidential election.
Tsvangirai has posed the most dangerous challenge to Mugabe’s long, uninterrupted reign ever since the MDC was formed in 1999.
In the 2000 parliamentary election, the MDC came within a whisker of winning power at the ballot box, thwarted only by the murder and violence that frightened many voters from the polls and gave Mugabe’s party their narrowest win since independence.
Then, before the presidential election in March 2002, we had the amazing declaration by the heads of the army, the air force, the police, the intelligence services and the prison services that if Tsvangirai beat Mugabe, then there would be no President. There were widespread reports of rigging and tens of thousands of people were prevented from casting their ballots, in areas where their votes would have made a huge difference to the outcome.
Some will say this is now all water under the bridge, but the fate of a nation is at stake, and there is no profit in ignoring the past.
Zanu PF is in a veritable stew, largely of its own making. If some of its geriatric leaders believe a short-cut can be devised to eliminate the fiercest challenge to their hegemony, who is to say how low they would stoop?
Most of this is idle speculation.
What is true is that Zanu PF has plunged the country into such a mess that, even at the highest level, the party may not have the wherewithal of how to extricate itself from this self-made political morass.
The best they can do, it seems, is to react to situations. They have no stomach for taking the initiative any more, it would seem.
The country is drifting aimlessly from day to day, a rudderless ship, captained by this old man who seems totally unconcerned even if it were to hit an iceberg as large as the one which doomed the Titanic.
Yet a window of opportunity is offered, ironically, in the drama unfolding daily on the commercial farms.
If Section 8, the bane of the commercial farmers, can now be accepted as being illegal, it could provide the government with a good chance to gracefully step away from the brink – and start all over again.
The temptation to once again tell the courts to “Go to hell” may still be irresistible to a head of state whose macho juices have been bubbling since 2000.
But if Mugabe has any advisers left in his coterie who still love their country, they will tell him the time to end this cruel charade is long overdue.
The land reform programme was going to be implemented with a semblance of order, anyway, if it hadn’t been for the coincidence that Zanu PF lost the constitutional referendum around the same time.
Ruining the country’s reputation of good governance, let alone ruining one of the most promising economies on the continent, is not a price worth paying just to salvage the tottering political career of one man.
Zimbabwe and its future are many times bigger than him.
If Mugabe cannot be persuaded to abandon his reckless policies on land reform, then he ought to be educated urgently on the prospect of being remembered by posterity as the man who wrecked his country for the love of power.
By Madeline Laming
Robert Mugabe and I used to be neighbours. Not the
sort of neighbours who borrow a cup of sugar from each other when supplies run
low and unexpected guests drop in, but we did live only a few hundred metres
apart and I was frequently woken before dawn by his bodyguards passing beneath
my balcony on an early morning run.
I used to see him sitting impassively in the back of
his official car as it whisked him from his home to the Parliament buildings in
the city. He never smiled, or waved at the domestic workers gathered on every
street corner during their breaks from cooking and cleaning.
In 1981, as one of the first Australian teachers in Zimbabwe, I was occasionally invited to official functions. I was also dating
a reporter on The Herald, who introduced me to the genteel art of gate-crashing, so I met Mugabe a number of times. He took himself – and his position – very seriously even then.
A year after I first met Mugabe, I met briefly the then President of Mozambique, Samora Machel, during May Day celebrations in Maputo. The difference was remarkable. Machel was relaxed, happy to be with his people even at the end of a long day presiding over a state function.
Mugabe always seemed to be holding himself apart. He was among the people, but he was never with them.
Mugabe was born at Kutama in 1924. The founder, Father Jean-Baptiste Loubiere, suppressed all trace of African customs and controlled the private lives of his converts. Loubiere preached that salvation would come only through constant prayer and obedience to his orders.
Every task, every action was accompanied by exhortations and prayers for redemption.
Mugabe’s mother, Bona, thrived in this environment. His father, Gabriel, did not, and when Robert was 10, he left the mission and his family for good.
Father Loubiere’s replacement, Father O’Hea, was the first person, other than his mother, to be convinced that Robert was special. Quiet and serious beyond his years, Mugabe had a voracious appetite for learning.
Mugabe made few friends. When Father O’Hea suggested that Mugabe train as a teacher, his mother agreed immediately, even though the cost would be a huge burden to the whole family.
Kutama also provided Mugabe with his earliest lessons in racism. Father O’Hea used his own money to fund development at Kutama when the government tried to stop him “educating the natives above their station”.
Years later, Mugabe vividly recalled a conversation between Father O’Hea and Governor Cecil Rodwell in 1933. When Father O’Hea pleaded for funds to build a hospital, Rodwell responded: “Why do you worry about a hospital? After all, there are too many natives in the country already.” Mugabe never forgot those remarks, and some would say never forgave them either.
Mugabe lacks the visceral racial hatred that was common among Rhodesians – one man I met insisted that his wife wash all his underclothes because he could not bear to have the African servants handle them – but his lingering anger for the humiliations of colonial rule should not be underestimated.
By the time he was in his late 20s, Mugabe already had two tertiary degrees. As a teacher, Mugabe commanded immense respect in the African community, but his position strengthened his conviction that he was special, and separated him from ordinary people.
A scholarship to Fort Hare University in South Africa increased this separation even further.
Mugabe believed he was destined to be a leader to his people in some way, but was unsure what role to pursue. In 1955 he was a messiah-in-waiting.
When the call came, it was from an unexpected direction. Ghana’s President Kwame Nkrumah recruited talented professionals from all over Africa to transform the colony into the first independent African nation. Ghana was a revelation to Mugabe. The sight of a black prime minister and a black parliament exhilarated him.
Thinking of the power wielded by the mission fathers, he had briefly considered becoming a priest, but meeting Sally Heyfron (who later became his wife) changed his plans dramatically. It was Sally Heyfron who persuaded the reserved and austere Mugabe to join the national liberation movement.
Back in Rhodesia in the 1960s, as Mugabe began to make a name for himself, he was frequently patronised by the older, and better known, leaders Ndabaningi Sithole and Joshua Nkomo as idealistic and lacking in political experience. But he would not – could not – accept that liberation was a gift to be bestowed at the whim of the Smith regime.
In the early 1970s, when Ian Smith’s government was willing to discuss a peaceful settlement, Mugabe was afraid that fellow black leaders Sithole and Nkomo would settle for less than majority rule in return for guaranteed places in the new government.
He mistrusted the Rhodesian government and doubted that the British offer to mediate a settlement was genuine.
If they would not negotiate fairly, then he would fight for it. And fight he did. Step by step he forced the Rhodesians to recognise him as a force to be reckoned with.
Mugabe was not supposed to have his way at the Lancaster House Conference that ended the war of independence. He wasn’t supposed to win the elections that followed. Strategic insight, stubbornness and an absolute belief in his own destiny carried him through. Every step towards victory confirmed it.
Within a year of independence, some of Nkomo’s troops attempted a coup, believing he had been robbed of victory. Mugabe’s reaction was swift and deadly. I remember standing on the verandah of the Nashville Secondary College in Gweru watching the air force bomb rebel troops nearby.
Two years before Sally’s death in 1992, Mugabe married Grace Marufu, his former secretary and 40 years his junior. Their marriage was later formalised in the Catholic Cathedral in Harare.
All his life Mugabe has believed he is special, but lately he has undergone an apotheosis. He sees himself as more than the elected leader of his people these days. He is their ruler, their chief. His mandate comes not from their will, but from his vision of himself as somehow appointed by God or the ancestral spirits or by his own manifest destiny.
When this change occurred is not clear. My first warning came by post about 10 years ago. I had written, as I always did in April, to wish him a happy Independence Day. This time instead of a polite note, signed by an aide, acknowledging my letter there was a signed photo. A glossy 10 x 8, the sort that a movie idol might send a loyal fan.
Robert Mugabe and I used to be neighbours, but now we are much more than half a world away. – The Age
Madeleine Laming taught in Zimbabwe from 1981 to 1983 as a member of a group of Australian teachers recruited to help boost the number of local children in schools
By Collin Chiwanza
WITH just a few weeks to go before the onset of
the new agricultural season, most newly resettled farmers around the
country have not yet received their allocations of farming inputs promised
by the government under its much-publicised $8,5 billion credit input
Several small-scale farmers interviewed by The
Daily News yesterday said they had repeatedly appealed to the government
to speedily distribute inputs to enable them to embark on dry planting
before the onset of the rains, but with no success.Andrew Majachani, 38, a
newly resettled farmer in Bindura said: “It now appears that we may never
be able to get the fertiliser and seed which we require for the new season
on time. “We are running late into the season and most of us don’t have
ready cash to finance our farming activities. This delay on the part of
the government may impact negatively on the new agricultural season,”
he said. The government announced early this year that it had $8,5 billion in its coffers earmarked specifically for the new farmers to enable them to get farming inputs, adequate training and extension services.
However, most farmers are yet to benefit from the fund, which they suspected could be hijacked by senior government officials and their relatives who corruptly benefited from the land redistribution exercise, now in its third year.
“Our greatest concern is that if inputs are distributed late, farmers will not be able to produce enough. If inputs are distributed after August this means farmers will experience poor harvests and food shortages will continue to haunt the nation into the year 2003,” Majachani lamented. In Chegutu, hundreds of peasants who invaded Paarl Farm said they could hardly afford to buy a single bag of fertiliser and were just waiting for handouts from the government. “If we don’t get the vital inputs from the government, some of us will just look at our newly-acquired pieces of land and do nothing because we don’t have the money. We are just waiting for the government,” said Ishmael Mukonoweshuro, who has been living on Paarl Farm for the past two years. In Nyazura, Godfrey Kapfumvuti, 43, said: “The success of the new farmers depends on the release of farming inputs from the government. We look up to the government to provide us with the inputs as they have long promised many of us who cannot afford to
The problems facing new farmers have been compounded by the reluctance of most commercial banks to fund them, fearing that the new farmers may not be able to pay back because of the uncertainty surrounding
Since 2000, the government has been orchestrating a chaotic and often violent land reform programme that has seen a number of large-scale commercial farmers losing their properties to so-called war veterans, with the blessings of President Mugabe’s government.