"The Zimbabwe Situation" news page

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Invasions (new and revisits) - 23
Work stoppages (mainly tobacco) - 28
Unofficial eviction notices - 0
Poaching incidences on farms - 19
Animals killed (livestock and game) - 18
Cases of theft on farms - 11
Properties with hut building - 34
Properties with tree cutting - 51
Cases of abductions on farms - 0
Assaults on farms - 3
Veld fires on farms - 23
Intimidation or threats on farms - 10
Centenary - A lone war vet started rigding on Ashford Farm. Police were informed and the issue has been resolved.
Mutepatepa - War vets have moved off Dunaverty Farm.
Marondera - Eight farmers stood it upon themselves to take down some of the war vet huts on their farms. The war vets organised a demonstration on Hungwe Farm and later at Idapi. Dispol called a meeting with the war vets and the farmers and managed to defuse the flare-up.
Beatrice/Harare South - Six alleged war vets demanded keys for the sheds on Shresbury Farm. The labour told them that there were no keys as the farm manager is away. They are returning today or tomorrow. The owner of Eden has been locking the gate at the entrance to his farm. War vets have removed the lock and put their own one on, and gave a key to one of the labourers for the farmer. It appears that they do not wish to walk from the gate to visit their counterparts, as they arrive in a car. There is much thatching grass going missing on the farm. Stoneridge and Blackfordby appear quiet, and there is no progress on Dunnotar.
Wedza - Three weaners are missing from Hele and four have been found with snares around their necks, but they will be all right. Communal cattle and some dogs have been moved onto Shaka. Occupiers have also brought on their own fencing.
Enterprise/Bromley/Ruwa - Police have arrested one man for the assault reported last Monday. The other accused is at large and seems to have returned to his home area to avoid arrest. Surrey was visited by CIO Goromonzi because the occupiers had built an unreasonable road hump opposite their camp.
People from the Epworth area have set up an office shack and flagpole on Bunkers Hill near the airport.
Chinhoyi - Yesterday four war vets visited Argyle Farm with a letter from Zanu PF stating that about 30 more would occupy the farm by the afternoon. The owner is meeting the "Masters" from Shackleton today.
Karoi - About a hundred head of illegal cattle have been found on twelve farms.
Chegutu - Previously unreported, there was a new occupation on Hampton of roughly 30 people, which seems to be an overspill from Brunswick.
Kadoma - The Police Member in Charge is reported to be receiving conflicting instructions from one day to the next, as to how to deal with new occupations etc.
Masvingo East and Central - All occupiers have moved off Lothian Farm, but are still burning grass and taking firewood off the property. On Mudspruit and Sundown Farms there are many families and children present. Clearing of lands and tree cutting are taking place, and permanent structures are being built.
Chiredzi - There is much activity on Bangala, Samba and Crown.
Mwenezi - There is continued tree cutting. The owner of Solomon Ranch bulldozed a shack down that had been built on his airstrip.
Gutu/Chatsworth - There is continued tree cutting. Delos Farm has been occupied by 6 war veterans. They are chopping trees and building shelters.
Save Conservancy - Two eland and a buffalo were caught in snares on the eastern side of Mukwasi Ranch.
No report.
Nothing to report.
Nothing to report.
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Two images stick in my mind from this past week on Thursday evening two
government trucks dumped 50 people on the side of the road near our home on
the outskirts of Harare. There were both men and women and a dozen small
children. They were left on the side of the road at about 17.00 hrs and
spent the night out there in the cold, without water or shelter. I heard
about their plight and went over to see them they were from the area
where the police were destroying illegal homes built on land "appropriated"
by the "war vets". I called a couple of people including the local Baptist
Church and asked if something could be done for them. Their furniture was
damaged and they complained that food had been burned and building
materials broken. They are a small sample of the 2 million urban homeless
in Zimbabwe. They are still there, poorer and wiser than they were a week ago.

The government, which has created the urban homeless problem with studied
indifference over the past 15 years (it takes up to 5 years to get the OK
for a housing scheme and bribes are often the only way these are eventually
cleared). Then for political reasons, they allow the thugs who have been
conducting the farm invasions to spread their efforts to the plight of the
urban homeless and are allowed to take over farmland on the outskirts of
the cities. This is then divided up into plots and sold to hapless families
like our new neighbours. These take this new opportunity at face value
(often a senior Zanu PF official or MP is present at the allocation
ceremonies as are the faithful Zimbabwe Television cameras) and start
building the first homes that they have had in years of urban life. Then
suddenly, Thabo Mbeki comes to town and demands action on this lawlessness
and the government has the IMF team to appease, the police arrive, knock
down the structures without warning and pitch these poor people out into
the bush.

The second image was equally stark; I was down at Beitbridge doing a
stocktake at a business the family owns and left on Sunday morning for
Bulawayo where I was scheduled to do some business. 40 km down the road we
started to see small groups of young men walking. "War vets", my wife
muttered and we left them to their fate. For the next 50 km we went past
dozens of such groups and eventually curiosity got the better of us and we
stopped and asked two of them where they were coming from and why were they
walking. "We were arrested in Johannesburg last week" they replied "and now
we are walking back to our home in Bulawayo from the station at Beitbridge"
(its three hundred km). We picked up 4 and took them to a small country
hotel for a drink and a wash (they had been walking for more than 24
hours). They were very foot sore and could hardly move when we dropped them
off in Bulawayo two hours later. They said there had been 600 of them on
the train.

They are a small part of the flood of young people who are becoming
economic refugees within the region. They walk across the border into
Botswana or South Africa and then trek to the big cities where they work
illegally until caught and deported. We have an estimated one million
people in South Africa two thirds of whom are illegal immigrants. Shona
is spoken in most parts of Johannesburg and the young Ndebele, Venda and
Shangaan people blend in very well with their South African cousins. As the
situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates daily, so the tide swells and if nothing
is done, it will swamp South Africa.

Whatever else the politicians who run our countries may say they cannot
escape responsibility for these tragic situations. We can house our people
properly and affordably, we showed that after independence when Zimbabwe
had an excellent record in this respect, before greed and corruption took
root. We could give our young people a decent future in the land of their
birth if we followed sensible political and economic policies there are
plenty of examples to follow in the world. We do not even have to discover
what makes a country develop rapidly its all been done before, so why can
we not get down to the real business at hand and give our people that which
is within our power and resources to do? There is only one answer and its
not stupidity (we have more Doctors and Professors in our government than
almost anywhere else in the world), its not resources (we are richly
endowed) and its not some international conspiracy (everyone wants us to
succeed). For the majority of Zimbabweans the problem is one man Robert

I always thought that Zaire was an astonishing example of how one man can
hold a whole nation to ransom. Now it has happened to us, and the reality
is very painful. In 1976 we had a similar situation with Ian Smith. Then we
had Kissenger in the State Department and a President in Pretoria who put
South Africa first, they recognised that the one man holding up progress in
the region was a stubborn entrenched politician and they removed him in a
surgical operation that took a few weeks. No such help is available to us
today and it seems as if we have to remove him ourselves. The question is
how? It would be so much easier and less painful if we could rely on South
Africa and Mozambique to help.

We have been holding a series of meetings in the farming districts trying
to get the farmers to work together to combat the illegal invasions and to
get them to use the legal means at their disposal to hold up the process of
the compulsory farm acquisitions. The meetings have often been tense and it
was very moving in the one meeting to see several of the farmers present in
tears when they were told that the great majority of ordinary Zimbabweans
were on their side.

We explained to them that when one million workers downed tools the other
day in a national strike, it was not to impress Mbeki (we did not know he
was coming) but to press the case for a return to the rule of law and
respect for the property rights of every Zimbabwean, irrespective of their
origins. The stories they told of the threats and the beatings and the
provocation were horrific. This past week has seen the first shots fired
one by a white farmer who was being beaten by 80 thugs in Karoi and the
other by game scouts who had tried to arrest a "war vet" who was poaching.
It is extraordinary that this has not happened before now given the extent
of the provocation and the nature of those being provoked.

Eddie Cross
29th August 2000
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