Zimbabwe to Face EU Censure as New Laws Passed
Gareth Jones BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Zimbabwe faces censure from the
Union Friday, a day after its ruling party approved new laws
criticism of President Robert Mugabe ahead of a crucial
The European Union will tell Zimbabwe it faces economic sanctions
fails to curb alleged human rights abuses, but diplomats doubt the
will have much impact.
Mugabe is sending a high-level team to
the talks, including Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo, architect of a bill
critics say will stifle
opposition ahead of the March 9-10 poll.
contrast, the EU will be represented not by ministers but by the
ambassador -- Madrid holds the bloc's rotating presidency -- and
mid-ranking European Commission official.
Members of the European
Parliament have accused the EU of moving too slowly
and cautiously against
Mugabe, but diplomats say they are following legal
procedures and warn that
hasty moves could harm the poorest people in
should not be too high...(Friday) is the opening of a process
consultations, which according to the Cotonou Agreement could last a
of 60 days," said Michael Curtis, spokesman for the EU's
Mugabe, 77, has sparked Zimbabwe's biggest
crisis since independence from
Britain in 1980 with seizures of white-owned
farms and attempts to tighten
control of the media and opposition in the face
of a collapsing economy.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change
who is expected to pose the biggest challenge
to Mugabe's 22 years in power,
appealed to the EU to be firm with the
"The EU must clearly spell out to the Zimbabwean ministerial
a government that emerges from a rigged election will receive
international recognition," he said.
Britain said Thursday the legislation passed in Harare showed
government's "contempt for basic democratic principles."
increasingly clear that the people of Zimbabwe may be denied a free
the 9th March presidential election," the Foreign Office minister
Baroness Amos, said in a statement.
South Africa's Nobel peace laureate,
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said he was
saddened by events in
"I am deeply saddened. I am disappointed, I really feel ashamed
in many ways
because he (Mugabe) used to be such a splendid leader," Tutu
told BBC Radio
from Cape Town.
Hopes for a free poll in Zimbabwe were
also dealt a blow on Wednesday when
the country's security chiefs signaled
they would not accept an opposition
EU action would further
isolate Mugabe, who in an historical irony faces
sanctions two decades after
he won wide praise for leading the liberation
war against the white-minority
regime of the reviled renegade British colony
farming community there -- once branded by western liberals
unreconstructed racists -- are now the focus of international sympathy
veterans of the country's bush war lead the often violent invasions of
Zimbabwe also faces possible suspension from the
Commonwealth as well as
U.S. travel and investment sanctions against Mugabe
and his governing elite.
Western condemnation has been matched by
regional inaction, with Zimbabwe's
neighbors facing sharp criticism for
failing to take stronger measures
South Africa, which has rejected calls for sanctions
remained silent Thursday -- except for
Zimbabwe's woes have often been cited as a factor behind the
of South Africa's rand, leaving analysts baffled at Pretoria's
to its government's reaction.
Zimbabwe will be on the
agenda of a Monday meeting of the leaders of the
14-member Southern African
Development Community in Malawi. But similar
meetings in the past have
produced few concrete results on the country's
Parliament, in which Mugabe's ZANU-PF party holds 93 of the 150
passed by 62 votes to 49 the General Laws Amendment Bill banning
election monitors at the poll and denying voting rights to
Zimbabweans abroad. Parliament also passed the Public Order and
Bill which criminalizes criticism of Mugabe and gives sweeping new
powers to the government.
It gives the state powers to
"protect public order and security and to deal
with acts of insurgency,
banditry, sabotage, terrorism, treason and
these offences -- which analysts say can be broadly defined to
suspicion by the authorities that a person is plotting against
-- are life imprisonment or death.
Europe gets tough with Mugabe
The EU is attempting to
persuade Zimbabwe to repeal new repressive laws
enacted in the run-up to
presidential elections in March, or face a cut in
aid or even sanctions.
Charles Bremner reports.
What took place in Brussels today?
held talks with a delegation from Zimbabwe to try to persuade them to
down on recent laws passed in Zimbabwe's Parliament. The EU is
concerned about the lack of democratic freedoms in Zimbabwe in
the run-up to
elections there in March and continuing human rights abuses.
Who was at
The Zimbabwean group is led by Stan Mudenge, its Foreign
Conde de Saro, Spain's mbassador to the EU, is leading the
EU delegation and
about ten other developing countries who were represented.
We should not
read anything into the fact that there are no European
as the EU does not want to give Zimbabwe a high
How has Zimbabwe reacted?
Angrily. Mr Mudenge told
delegates that his country was the "victim of a
British plot". However,
according to some reports will allow foreign
independent observers to monitor
the presidential elections, but he did not
go into detail on when they could
begin their task. As a whole there appears
to be little sign of flexibility
from Zimbabwe's Government.
Why are these talks taking place?
is the EU's way, to borrow diplomatic speak, of giving Zimbabwe the
possible encouragement to take another course of action, after
more laws were
passed through the Zimbabwean Parliament which restrict
opposition, of which the EU strongly disapproves. One law bans
monitors at the forthcoming election and denies voting rights to
abroad. The other criminalises criticism of President Robert
gives sweeping new security powers to the Government
How has the EU
managed to get Zimbabwe to Brussels to talk?
The meeting has been
convened under the EU's Developing Countries Aid
Agreement, which ties aid
from the EU to good governance in the recipient
country. One of the key
criteria for good governance is, of course human
rights, an area where
Zimbabwe's record is undeniably poor.
What action can the EU take against
Under Article 96 of the aid agreement if Zimbabwe has not taken
remedy the situation within 60 days it faces a cut or a suspension
aid. However, Zimbabwe is coming to the end of a particular aid cycle
there is only about £7m left in the pot. This money is going to the
poorest in the country and is also being used to combat Aids. Because of
vulnerability of the recipients the EU is reluctant to withdraw that
Is there anything else that the EU can do to bring Zimbabwe to
Commissioners are talking about cutting or even suspending
aid cycle, which is about £80m. That would be more serious.
There is also
talk, and at the moment it is just talk, about imposing "smart"
such as visa bans on Zimbabwean officials travelling within the
freezing the European assets of the Government and its leading
later was used against the Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam
Hussein. For some
politicians in Zimbabwe it could make life
How hopeful is the EU that Zimbabwe might back
Privately the EU never expected much from these talks, which has
out by today’s proceedings. They are, however, taking them
although it has to be said that they are taking place at
insistence. EU Commissioners know that there is not much they can
do to stop
Mr Mugabe from carrying on along the path that he has chosen. I
Zimbabwe is threatened by all this. Just as he was went into the
Mudenge was asked by reporters if he was worried. He just said:
what sanctions? We're having a dialogue."
Who else is
putting pressure on Zimbabwe?
Europe is only one part of a concerted
campaign to bring Mr Mugabe to heel.
In December America imposed sanctions on
Zimbabwe and its top officials. The
country is also threatened with
suspension from the Commonwealth when heads
of government meet in Australia
in March. On Monday there is an
extraordinary meeting of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC),
the regional development body, in Blantyre,
Malawi, to decide what economic
measures to take against Mr Mugabe. If, as
expected, they take punitive
action, that could harm Zimbabwe more than any
action from Europe.
Do Europeans care about Zimbabwe?
does not register on the map of most Europeans. There is scant
mention of any
of this in the French press, for example. This is an issue
that is really of
interest only to the British Government and press because
of the colonial
history, in the same way that the French are concerned with
Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 23:36 GMT
Tutu sees Mugabe becoming
Tutu said Mugabe was 'on the slippery slope to
South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu has warned
that Zimbabwe is sliding into dictatorship under President Robert Mugabe.
The fact that you have been democratically elected does not
give you a licence to behave in a way that subverts the rule of law
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Speaking as the Zimbabwean parliament approved legislation which appears
aimed at ensuring Mr Mugabe's re-election in March, Archbishop Tutu said he was
saddened by developments in the neighbouring state.
Mr Mugabe had been "one of the bright stars in the African constellation" but
now he seemed bent on breaking the law, he told the BBC.
Mugabe was once a 'tremendous freedom fighter'
"When you disregard the rule of law, I think you are on the slippery slope
towards a dictatorship with the trimmings of a multi-party democracy," the
He said that Mr Mugabe did not tolerate political dissent and used violence
against his critics, seeking to "have only one political group having the upper
Archbishop Tutu, who won his Nobel prize for his peaceful struggle against
apartheid in South Africa, said Mr Mugabe had once shone as a "tremendous
freedom fighter" - quite, quite outstanding in many ways".
I really feel ashamed in many ways because he used to be such
a splendid leader
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
He had championed reconciliation at a time when Zimbabwean blacks sought
retribution for the wrongs inflicted on them by their white rulers when the
country was known as Rhodesia.
But Mr Mugabe had gone on to "blot his copy book", the archbishop said.
"I am deeply saddened," he said.
"I am disappointed. I really feel ashamed in many ways because he used to be
such a splendid leader."
Commonwealth must suspend Zimbabwe, NZ govt
WELLINGTON, Jan. 10 — The Commonwealth must suspend Zimbabwe to
against the increasingly dictatorial and abusive regime of President
Mugabe, the New Zealand government said on Friday
Foreign Minister Phil Goff said in a statement that the Commonwealth
Government meeting in Brisbane, Australia, in March should make
behaviour of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party is totally
''The Mugabe regime is in breach of the fundamental principles of
the rule of law and equality regardless of race, colour or creed
set out in
the Commonwealth's Harare Declaration,'' Goff said.
He was referring
to a 1991 declaration which sets out a commitment to
Zimbabwe should be suspended at the earliest opportunity,
On Thursday, Zimbabwe's ruling party pushed measures
parliament giving sweeping security powers to the government two
ahead of a crucial presidential election.
The poll will
present Mugabe with his toughest electoral test in his
22 years in
Mugabe is under growing international pressure over the
takeover of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks
increasing political violence.
Goff's statement follows a
warning from Britain that it would push
for Zimbabwe's suspension from the
54-nation Commonwealth if it did not
tackle political violence and human
Mugabe scoffed at the threat, saying Britain,
colonial power, had no support.
Union intends to tell Zimbabwe on Friday it faces
economic sanctions unless
it curbs alleged human rights abuses.
Goff said the new security laws
signalled Mugabe did not intend the
presidential elections to be fair or
''The failure to invite the international community and
to send election observers and the passage of law banning
election monitors is an additional sign that democracy no longer
Zimbabwe,'' he said.
Mugabe declares war on dissent
Repressive laws passed
yesterday open Zimbabwe's election battle
Chris McGreal and Andrew
Meldrum in Harare
Friday January 11, 2002
presidential election campaign kicked off yesterday as Robert
Zanu-PF party used its parliamentary majority to pass two
designed to stifle dissent.
The general laws amendment bill bans independent
election monitors and
denies voting rights to millions of citizens abroad.
The public order and
security bill criminalises criticism of Mr Mugabe and
gives the government
sweeping new security powers. Both were passed by a
majority of 62 votes to
The opposition Movement for Democratic
Change immediately announced a legal
challenge. The MDC foreign affairs
secretary, Tendai Biti, said: "We are
going to challenge this package of
fascist rules in the courts. They are
trying to clothe fascism with this
whole set of bills."
The laws are the first step in an election campaign
which Mr Mugabe will
portray as a "war" between true black liberation and an
opposition under the
control of white farmers and British
The MDC, which is widely tipped to win the vote in the
unlikely event of the
election being free and fair, derided Mr Mugabe for
using land and race
issues as a cover for a violent campaign to terrorise
voters and rig the
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC presidential
candidate who Mr Mugabe said last
month would "never, ever" come to power,
called on voters yesterday not to
be swayed by
"Zimbabweans are under siege," he said. "The government is
climate of terror and hardship. I call upon all patriots to refuse
cowed into submission by tyranny and a dictator whose time has
"Those draconian measures being imposed by the present regime would
necessary if they believed they had the confidence and the support of
people of Zimbabwe."
The election on March 9 and 10 is the
culmination of a two-year strategy by
Mr Mugabe to cling to power in the face
of rising unpopularity.
It began with the seizure of white farms but has
evolved into a broad and
violent campaign against the opposition. The MDC
says the assault has killed
88 of its supporters and driven its campaign
It has ruled out election rallies in many areas for
fear of violence.
Unfortunately for the opposition, Mr Mugabe has been
been warned twice about
the true strength of feeling against his
In the past year he has lost a referendum on constitutional
Zanu-PF achieved only a narrow victory in the parliamentary
despite widespread intimidation.
But the two ballots gave
the government notice that extraordinary measures
would be required if it was
to hang on to power. It has sought to manipulate
the law to keep the
opposition at bay.
Zanu-PF has revived its youth brigade as a
paramilitary force which is being
deployed in towns, at times sealing off
whole areas in "recruitment drives",
while the self-styled war veterans who
led the occupation of white-owned
farms intimidate rural voters.
least five opposition supporters have been murdered in the past month,
the MDC expects the violence to grow.
The army and police have been
moulded into highly partisan forces in the
past year. The police routinely
refuse to stop violence against the
supporters act with impunity, Mr Mugabe uses the law
against his opponents.
Since the September 11 attacks in the US, he has
taken to calling his
opponents and journalists "terrorists" and said they
would be dealt with as
Eddie Cross, the MDC economic spokesman, said the campaign would
difficult. "We are in for a tough electoral battle," he said. "Zanu
already declared war. They have deployed their troops, many in uniform
by the state, and are prepared to do anything to win".
Mr Mugabe tried to shore up support by redistributing formerly
farmland to more than 1,000 families. The move was part of his
try to keep attention on the issues of land and race.
election advertisement portrays Mr Mugabe as an African
confronting an opposition stooge for whites and the British.
ordinary Zimbabweans are more preoccupied with the consequences of
Mugabe's policies, which have resulted in surging unemployment, nearly
inflation and shortages of food staples such as maize.
hierarchy has added to the climate of intimidation by warning
that it will
not serve a president who does not "support the objectives of
struggle". That has been widely interpreted in Zimbabwe
either as a thinly
veiled threat to refuse to recognise an opposition
election victory or a
warning to Mr Tsvangirai is he does take power not to
interfere with the
There has been talk of putting senior officers on trial for
for the role of some of them in the Matabeleland massacres 20
years ago. The
MDC responded by accusing the armed forces commander, Vitalis
treason and a "pre-emptive military coup".
are reasons to doubt that the bulk of the army would back a coup.
soldiers are too young to be wedded to the liberation struggle,
families are suffering the same economic deprivation as many others,
there is unhappiness at Zimbabwe's role in the war in the
Republic of Congo.
Mr Mugabe promised to double the police
and military pay. He tried the same
tactic with a 60% pay increase before the
constitutional referendum. That
did not stop soldiers voting overwhelming
against him on that occasion.
Zimbabwe rams through despotic'
to challenge new laws in court
HARARE Zimbabwe's ruling party rammed two
Draconian bills through parliament
yesterday, laws which the opposition says
are calculated to strengthen the
repressive state apparatus and shackle the
opposition ahead of the
presidential election in March.
Hardly a day
after President Robert Mugabe announced March 9 and 10 as the
dates of the
poll, the ruling Zanu (PF) fast-tracked the Public Order and
and amendments to the Electoral Act through the house, the
threats of court action from the opposition Movement for
The passing of modifications to the Electoral Act came two days
same bill was defeated in the house by MDC members taking advantage
absence of ruling party MPs. Despite it being unconstitutional
reintroduce the amendments in the same session, Zanu (PF) forced the
through. The alterations, in effect, ban independent poll monitors
disenfranchise Zimbabweans living abroad.
The MDC said yesterday
it would challenge the constitutionality of the way
the law was passed in the
The security legislation deals with terrorism, sabotage,
treason, and criminalises criticism of Mugabe. It also hampers
expression and freedom of movement.
The UK stepped up
criticism over the growing crisis in Zimbabwe yesterday,
Development Minister Clare Short warning of "a tragedy of
proportions" if Mugabe's government went unchecked.
Mugabe is sending a
high-level team to talks that begin today with the
European Union. The EU is
expected to warn Zimbabwe it faces economic
sanctions and suspension from the Commonwealth were brought a
this week by a statement by Zimbabwe's military chiefs that it
only leaders who fought in the liberation war. This gives
a strong military tinge.
Only military governments have been suspended by
the Commonwealth. No
democratically elected governments even ones that have
not ensured free and
fair elections have been suspended. With Reuters,
Jan 11 2002 06:49:55:000AM Dumisani Muleyaand Jonathan
Business Day 1st Edition
Letters to The Times
FRIDAY JANUARY 11 2002
Need to act soon on
FROM THE SHADOW FOREIGN SECRETARY
Sir, A much more
assertive approach towards Zimbabwe must indeed be adopted
this time (leading
article, January 7 and report, January 10).
The forthcoming presidential
election is make or break for Zimbabwe. Mugabe
is now using every possible
means to rig it and cling to power.
I have long been arguing that the
Government must stop shying away from
tackling Mugabe and the economic
disaster that threatens millions of
ordinary Zimbabweans, and other southern
Africans as well. Internationally
we must continue to press for
implementation of the electoral conduct
recommendations that Mugabe agreed to
earlier this year, but has now
effectively consigned to the dustbin, as he
did the Abuja agreement.
Through its control of Zimbabwe’s access to the
sea, power supplies and
railway, South Africa has the means to force change,
and free and fair
elections. The international community must show President
Mbeki that if he
uses this potent weapon to counter Zimbabwe’s oppressive
regime, then he
will have our total support.
In the House I have
repeatedly pressed Jack Straw for action. I am glad he
is finally getting the
hint. Suspension from the Commonwealth alone is not
enough; Mugabe will not
lose sleep over it. We must move now to smart
sanctions, personally targeting
Mugabe and his henchmen, which should be
brought into force if he excludes
observers and further interferes with the
democratic process. We must act in
coalition with our partners in the
Commonwealth, Africa and the international
community to keep up the
America is doing its bit; why
From Mr Richard Bourne
Commonwealth can act quickly if the Ministerial Action Group
suspension of the Mugabe regime on January 30. The
establish a consensus among the other countries —
which would have to include
the support of President Mbeki as Commonwealth
Chair — and the suspension
could take place before the summit in March.
Admissions and readmissions to
the Commonwealth have taken place outside
suspension of a government, which distinguishes between a regime and
people, is not only a significant international warning but can
support to downtrodden citizens. This was certainly the case when
Commonwealth suspended the Nigerian despot Abacha in 1995, and when
sought to introduce sanctions against apartheid South Africa in the
As a transregional body the Commonwealth has the right to exert
principles even when immediate neighbours of an undemocratic state
But the present crisis should stimulate further action
by the Commonwealth
at its Australian summit. Democracy and human rights are
and not only by terrorists. A far more ambitious programme
of support by the
Commonwealth, going beyond election observation and
involving more resources
and wider co-operation, is necessary. The UK
Government could rob the Mugabe
regime of much of its propaganda if it were
to put funds for equitable land
reform into a Commonwealth escrow account at
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative,
28 Russell Square, WC1B
Mugabe's new laws push Zimbabwe towards abyss
ZIMBABWE was "sliding into the abyss" last night after Robert Mugabe,
country's embattled president, was handed dictatorial powers pushed
by his ruling Zanu-PF party.
The draconian laws, aimed at
suppressing all opposition in the run-up to
national elections on March 9,
will mean police will be able to lock up and
detain Mr Mugabe's political
One law was passed by the Harare parliament without a vote,
was technically illegal.
Penalties for breaking the laws
are life imprisonment or death.
More legislation due to be passed next
week will hand control of the media
to the president.
developments mean Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth
month is now almost inevitable.
Last night, Baroness Amos, the foreign
office minister, said the new
legislation showed Mr Mugabe's "contempt for
basic democratic principles".
She added: "It is hard to see how free and
fair elections can now be held in
a country whose government is determined to
impose such severe restrictions
on the Zimbabwean people's ability to
organise, campaign and express their
Glenys Kinnock, the
Labour MEP, urged Mr Mugabe to "step back from the
brink", claiming it was
Zimbabwe's last chance to turn away from
European Union officials will today tell a Zimbabwean
Brussels that the Harare regime will face severe economic
sanctions if it
fails to curb political violence and alleged human rights
Officials said Mr Mugabe had ignored appeals to restore the rule
prompting Brussels to cut annual development aid for
Aid for the next five years might also be at stake unless the
changed, the officials warned.
Mr Mugabe is also likely to
be barred from visiting any of the 15 member
being considered by Britain and threatened by America, yet all
such action is
unlikely to have any effect on the president's thinking other
than to make it
Earlier yesterday, Clare Short, the international
said Zimbabwe had become "a tragedy of enormous
proportions" wrecked by
years of "brutalism".
Menzies Campbell, the
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said:
"Slowly, but inexorably,
the Mugabe government is erecting a structure of
repression and dictatorship.
A country which was once a beacon of hope for
Africa is sliding into the
After hearing of the new laws, Desmond Tutu, the Nobel peace
South Africa, said Zimbabwe was now "sliding towards
"Robert Mugabe was one of the bright stars in the African
the former archbishop told the BBC.
disregard the rule of law, when you do not allow space for dissent
you use violence to silence your critics and want to have only one
group having the upper hand with all the others not being allowed
then I think you are on the slippery slope towards a dictatorship
trimmings of a multiparty democracy."
Following a marathon session in the
Harare parliament, a security bill was
passed, which gives police sweeping
new powers to search and arrest
opponents of Mr Mugabe and control political
The legislation was passed by acclamation, without a vote,
ruling party members were present to outnumber their
A second bill restricts independent election monitors and
distribution of election posters.
That piece of legislation
had been voted down on Tuesday by the opposition
Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) because not enough government MPs
Sibanda, the MDC's vice-president, said yesterday that Mr Mugabe's
nonetheless bulldozed through the bill "in a blatant contravention
Zimbabwe's constitution", which states that once a bill has been
cannot be reintroduced in the same parliamentary session.
the new laws were "a curse on Zimbabwe's democracy," Mr
"Clearly, there is no way in which this election can be free
and fair if held
in terms of these laws in addition to other fascist pieces
being enacted by this regime."
The MDC said it would seek to legally
challenge the new legislation, which
only needs the president's signature to
Mr Mugabe, who faces an uphill battle in the
forthcoming election to stay in
power after 21 years in office, is running
against opposition leader Morgan
He is the most serious
competition for the presidency since independence was
Military chiefs of the troubled southern African state have already
they would only support a leader who fought in the struggle that led to
liberation of Zimbabwe from British colonial rule in 1980.
president, who has branded Mr Tsvangirai a traitor backed by Britain
wealthy white Zimbabweans, was the man who led that
Legislation aimed at limiting independent media coverage
would ban foreign
correspondents and require local journalists to apply for
The media proposals are scheduled for debate when the
parliament meets again
next Tuesday. Violations of this law would carry a
two-year prison sentence.
Mr Mugabe, 77, an increasingly unpopular
president, led the nation to
independence after a bitter bush war that left
more than 50,000 mostly black
His Zanu-PF party
narrowly won parliamentary elections last June, and now
controls 93 of the
150 seats in parliament.
The MDC has constantly criticised an often
violent government programme to
seize thousands of white-owned farms as a
blatant ploy to bolster Mr
Mugabe's waning support.
From News24 (SA), 10 January
Zanu PF spots own weakness
Despite the fanfare and public show of bravery at the recent Zanu
bosberaad in Victoria Falls, the ruling party's top brass came face to
with the political reality on the ground: the potential for losing the
presidential election. A confidential Zanu PF central committee
submitted to the delegates, leaked to The Daily News, shows that the
is in a precarious position. "We are so weak that we can lose the
to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), if rampant corruption
leadership and factionalism does not stop immediately," says the
party further accepted that it was unpopular in Harare and if
a mayor and a council were held in February as directed by the
in December, Zanu PF would lose its hold on the capital city.
The city has,
over the past four years, been run illegally by a
commission. Ratepayers recently challenged this, leading
to a Supreme Court
ruling that an election be held on 11 February. The ruling
because of the tremendous psychological effect a bad Harare
have on the presidential election in March. The report says the
forget winning Harare unless rampant corruption within its ranks
Compiled by the security department, the report says: "Corrupt
within the party are seriously endangering and eroding the party's
in the forthcoming presidential election. "As the security
remain seriously concerned by the allegations of rampant
corruption in the
Harare provincial executive, where leaders who should lead
by example now
indulge in criminal activities. The party should urgently
Harare provincial executive to redeem the party in Harare and
improve its chances." The former ambassador to Cuba, Amos Midzi is
chairperson for Harare province while the self-styled "commander of
invasions" and an attempted murder defendant, Joseph Chinotimba, is
political commissar. "A very strong character should be sought to lead
Harare province," says the report. "If Harare mayoral elections are to
held under the current executive without something dramatic happening,
will lose Harare to the opposition," the report said.
News of the
possible loss in the election could explain why the government
is keen to
reduce the registered voter population in urban areas through
restrictions that impede voter registration and access to voting
analysts said on Monday. In June 2000, Harare and Bulawayo, had a
voter population of 1 225 o78. The majority here support the MDC.
East, Central and West provinces, known as Zanu PF's rural
strongholds, had a
total 1 507 022 voters, a difference of 281 944.
Matabeleland North and
South, safe constituencies for the MDC registered 659
363. That clears the
difference and leaves a floating figure of 377 419 in
favour of the
opposition. The MDC further registered a strong showing in the
Zanu PF areas
of Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Marondera, Chegutu, Kadoma,
Chinhoyi and Bindura. Except for Bindura, where the MDC
received half the
vote to Zanu PF, it won in all these towns and cities.
That leaves a thin
belt for the real battle in March: the Midlands (682 882
Gweru, Kwekwe and Zvishavane) and Masvingo (612 306
Masvingo town and the Lowveld). The Zanu PF report said
the party was
concerned with factionalism which was costing it membership
"This monster, if not properly addressed, would cost the party
presidential election," said the report. "The issue of factionalism
Masvingo needs to be addressed if Masvingo was to become a
province again. The issue of factionalism in Masvingo should be
before the presidential election in 2002." Zanu PF lost in the
election in Manicaland, a province with 612 253 voters.
"Looking at these
figures," said Bernard Murwira, a political scientist, "the
be right in assuming that the government is keen to cut the
number of voters
by demanding affidavits from domestic workers, or lodgers'
renunciation certificates from anyone whose ancestors were
Indian or Malawian. That documentation was unnecessary all
The Zanu PF security department, in the 89-page report, said that
should take advantage of the growing demand for resettlement and
opportunity "and make sufficient political mileage" to win the
election. The central committee said non-performing provincial
should be warned, and those unrepentant should be expelled and
newly-elected people before the campaign for the presidential
begins. "The deployment of army details and youths down to
level will even enhance mass mobilisation activities," the
report says. That
process has already begun. The army has been deployed in
vigilante groups are causing mayhem in Harare's urban
townships. The report
for Matabeleland province accused the secret service of
failing to stop MDC
activities in Binga and Lupane as well as failing to stop
Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJP) from
in the areas. "Whites fleeing from the farms are flocking
to Binga and have
occupied most of the banks of the Zambezi, denying local
fishermen access to
the lake by enforcing the law of trespassing. Party
inaction to important
issues will cost the party dearly if not corrected
immediately," the report
COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION
Farm invasions and Security
Thursday 10th January, 2002
This report does
not purport to cover all the incidents that are taking place in the commercial
farming areas. Communication problems and the fear of reprisals prevent farmers
from reporting all that happens. Farmers names, and in some cases farm names,
are omitted to minimise the risk of reprisals.
NATIONAL REPORT IN
Settlers refuse to move to farm allocated to them
and increase ploughing on Versailles. Women chairperson of local Land Committee
threatens to kill any cattle in her newly ploughed area, and threatens workers
with death because they work for a white person. Police have been informed and
owner awaits reaction. Situation is tense with settlers stating that it is now
power for the people and they do not care what the PA or DA tells them, they
have the power to do what they wish.
MASHONALAND WEST (NORTH)
Milbank is thought to have been murdered at Mazvikadei Peninsula sometime
between Friday and Monday 4.1.2002 and 7.1.2002. She was found dead on an
empty stand at the Peninsula on Tuesday 8 January 2002 after a search.
MASHONALAND WEST (SOUTH)
Illegal occupiers are bringing in 10 to 15 year
old children by the bakkie load to do their weeding for them.
Settlers moving onto farms claiming their plots of land.
Numerous Section 8 Orders have been allocated.
A meeting was
held at Tree Tops Beerhall, which is believed to have been for recruiting under
30 year old, farm workers into the Youth Brigade.
A number of
owners leaving property due to continued harassment.
General - Settlers moving onto farms claiming their plots
of land. Numerous Section 8 Orders have been
MASVINGO EAST AND CENTRAL AREA
Shashe Properties Agritex officials are pegging and demarcating plots. They
claim they are doing this for Rio Tinto. Owner has confirmed with Rio Tinto that
this is not so.
Springspruit Farm Agritex officials are pegging and
demarcating plots on this property.
Palm River Ranch Owner
is leaving his property due to continued harassment.
Faversham Ranch Owner is
leaving his property due to continued harassment.
Saccharine Ranch Owner
continues to have problems with labour striking.
GUTU / CHATSWORTH
Wragley / Lauder Farms Owner has had a visit from Mrs. Mahofa claiming
she has ownership of these properties and the homestead.
Appin and Stratsphey
Farm Owner has received section 7 Notices for these two properties.
Continuation of theft, broken pipes, gates being left open, harassment
over cattle eating maize, poaching, snaring.
KWEKWE - Armed
robberies continue on farms on an escalating scale. On Mooirivier, police
attending the scene of an attempted burglary, did not take fingerprints, though
these were quite visible on the white wall. The attack on workers, previously
reported, was aimed at those who could not produce a ZanuPF party card, though
some had paid and were awaiting their cards. Police did not attend the scene of
this assault until the following night. On Bonsted, three "warvets" set about a
rumour that the owner would be burning occupiers’ huts, which caused some
unrest. Beta farms report that the 25 people on Game Park are planting maize and
blocking off roads with tree branches, preventing the farmer from driving
through. The occupiers keep threatening to "do something about the Eland".
Poaching continues. The owner of a farm went to investigate a theft at the
mining claims and was attacked by some panners. Police did not respond. Farmers
have been requested to bring workers under 30 years old, to a meeting to be held
in Kwekwe on Friday where the Speaker of the House is expected to address them
on non-violence during the run up to the elections.
Somabhula - All cattle
have been moved off Sunrise farm, some to neighbouring Goodhope while others
have been scattered about. ZRP have responded and accept it is illegal but are
unable to do anything about it. On Happy Valley and other farms belonging to the
same owner, on which no section 8 Orders have been served, intense harassment
continues, with cattle being moved about and gates left open, etc. ZRP was
requested to address the occupiers but does not achieve results. Meanwhile, the
farmer has discovered that his trusted foreman is keeping the occupants leader
well informed on security issues, confidentially discussed with the farmer. A
Primary School in the area appears to have been taken over by ZanuPF youths as a
training centre. A meeting was held at Tree Tops Beerhall, which is believed to
have been for recruiting under 30 year old, farm workers into the Youth
CHINHOYI/KAROI - The Daily news cannot now be purchased on the
streets. A few days ago, the vendors had their stock trashed by the youth, and
effectively no distribution can now take place.
BANKET - Restaurant burnt
down at the Fish Ponds (Mazvikadei Dam) Endebess Farm and Sangwa Farm War vets
trying to extort $10 000 for bonuses etc. Owner has been threatened and told to
get out of his house on Bickleighvale Farm because he is considered one of the
"Listonshiels Farmers". This is the second time he has had to move, and it is
just a straight case of harassment.
Mrs Francis Milbank is thought to have
been murdered at Mazvikadei Peninsula sometime between Friday and Monday
4.1.2002 and 7.1.2002. She was found dead on an empty stand at the Peninsula
on Tuesday 8 January 2002 after a search.
TENGWE - Monday 31st December
Solera Farm - 4 labourers had been paid off and refused to take their pay.
Shortly afterwards Peter Ncube (local warvet) plus accomplices stopped all work
on the farm and ordered the whole gang into the barn area. Here the gang was
subjected to a lengthy political rally. After a few hours of this politicking,
the owners and Ncube said work could carry on the next day (1st) and the workers
would work on New Years Day to make up for this lost day. The workers then asked
to be paid off.
The owner believes this whole thing was stage managed by
Peter Ncube so he could have the rally, and intimidate the workers just to show
Chobeni Farm - At 3.30 pm the settlers on the farm started
evicting people from their houses and 1 man was assaulted (not seriously) The
owner and the MIC Tengwe Police met the settlers and agreed to meet on Wednesday
afternoon The settlers demanded to be allowed to stay in the barn area and
sheds. Labourers allowed back into houses. A settlers house had burnt down
(accidentally) on Sat 29th, but at this stage this was not made an issue. On
Tuesday 1st January - Ashida (settler chairman) broke the lock on the gate to
the barn complex, as well as the lock on at least 1 shed and moved into the
shed. He locked the gates with his own lock so no one else can enter. On
Wednesday 2nd January at 11.30am, a large group of settlers/warvets from all
over Tengwe arrived and started evicting the staff from their houses. (were
meant to be having the agreed meeting at 2.30pm). The owner went to see what was
happening and was chased by a gang of about 15 men. There was a large group in
the village area.
Police arrived at 2pm, and spoke to the settlers but with
no success. The Member in Charge Tengwe Police (Inspector Mpofu) came down and
asked why this was happening when they had agreed to have a meeting on Monday,
but the settlers refused to give in, and said they were not prepared to discuss
the matter. The Member in Charge phoned the DA who was unavailable
At 5pm 4
warvets lead by Ncube, arrived at the Police station, and spoke to police who
typed out a list of items that Ashida must be compensated for. (from the burnt
house) The owner was called into the office and accused of burning the house
down and compensation demanded. This was the first time this was mentioned,
although the house had burnt down 5 days previously. They said if the
compensation was paid, staff would be allowed back into their houses. The owner
refused and left. On the farm, the staff was moved into the home farm barn
complex for the night. They had been warned not to go back to work the next
Mana Farm - Cattle had been pushed into some of the settler’s maize and
the settlers demanded compensation. Police intervened and a compromise was
Thursday 3rd January -Chobeni farm - A mob of 150-160 people arrived
at 8.30am including all the warvet leadership from the district. Attempts were
made to negotiate with Ncube, but the same demands were made. Owner met Ncube
and Ashida who said they had proof that he had burnt the house and was
uncooperative, as he had refused to let them live in the barn area. The Meeting
broke up, everyone was chased from barn complex, and all work on farm stopped.
Police came to try to negotiate, without success. DA plus Karoi Member in
Charge and other intelligence agents arrived. The owner was subjected to a 2 1/2
hour political rally\ kangaroo court but nothing was resolved. He was threatened
with arrest and Section 8 Orders on both farms by DA, and just about everything
else by the mob.
All staff now accommodated on home farm and will have to try
and get neighbours to help cure some of the Crops, as the owner is not allowed
back on Chobeni. Work continuing on the home farm at this stage.
exercise was used as an election rally and also to intimidate the labour, but it
got out of hand as the DA was not that comfortable with the labour being evicted
from their houses as he suggested after the meeting that compensation be paid to
resolve the whole issue.
Inanda Farm - Kennias (local warvet) + 8 arrived at
the ex manager's widows house and said that as this farm had a section 8 Order
(6/12/2001) they must move out immediately, and all the staff who stay in the
farm village must also be moved.
Police refused to react. When a few farmers
went to the farm the group had left but said the farmers must meet them at the
settler’s houses. This was ignored. Kennias returned later and said the staff
must be moved On Tuesday 8th January Kennias sent a message that staff be
moved off immediately. The DA was telephoned, who said that this was not right
and until the Government decide what to do with the farm the staff must remain
in their houses. We asked him to convey this to the local police.
Highbury Estate RRB No. 016783 Steer snared on Monday and died on Wednesday
morning. Lot of snaring in this area.
Gemini an illegal settler outside the house demanded that the owner be out of
the house by 6p.m. or they would be invaded. The police would not help. The
owner moved out and is negotiating, with minimal help from the
Several Section 7 Notices have been handed to
ENTERPRISE/RUWA/BROMLEY - Zimbabwe National Youth Service are causing
problems The Ruwa growth point was a target.
Enterprise - Youths are being
Featherstone - Kuruman Owner told he would not be permitted to
milk dairy cows, until the Foreman leaves the property. Arrangements made for
the foreman to return to his home area until situation quietens. Owner told that
his wife, son and daughter-in-law, have to change their attitude towards the
"settlers'. The farmer was told to remove dairy and themselves by 15/01/02. DA
has told owner that the farm is delisted because it is a dairy. Calais – No
further progress on movement of dairy cattle off farm. Owner forced to move
workers out of village, and not permitted to move equipment out of dairy.
Occupier has moved into dairy and claims to be ensuring nothing is stolen
Gelukverwacht - Owner told to be off property by Sunday 6/01/02. On Monday
7/01/02, Officer in Charge, Featherstone, Inspector Matize and detail called on
Dondo. They arrived on the property and demand to see permits for wildlife
(Zebra, Wildebeest, Kudu and Impala lambs). The Owner was told that
property is state land and permits are required for game. Forestdale - The
workers allege that they have been told to move out of barn area into main
house, because government is going to start to build toilets prior to turning
barns into a clinic. Later in the day workers, say they have been told to move
off the property by 08/01/02. Owner is currently away. Sikoto - Owner advises
that he has received a message to vacate his property. Ngesi -On the 8th
January, a local illegal settler claimed that cattle had eaten maize and
screamed at owners wife that if the cattle were not dealt with "something
terrible would happen". Settler incited +/- 30 local settlers to shout and
scream outside gates and started a 'pungwe' at approx 6.30pm. DISPOL, Chivhu was
informed, instructions were sent to Featherstone ZRP, who reacted, and the
situation was defused. Owner removed remaining 15 head of cattle from farm.
Situation is still tense with settlers demanding the owner leave by Thursday
10th January.Forsetdale -Local settlers demand that workers move from barn area
to homestead and escort workers to homestead on 8th January. The owner is away
and situation remains unresolved. Versailles -Settlers refuse to move to farm
allocated to them and increase ploughing on Versailles. Women chairperson of
local Land Committee threatens to kill any cattle in her newly ploughed area,
and threatens workers with death because they work for a white person. Police
have been informed and owner awaits reaction. Situation is tense with settlers
stating that it is now power for the people and they do not care what the PA or
DA tells them, they have the power to do what they wish.
HARARE SOUTH -
Alsace -A worker was attacked by 2 settlers, the worker was stoned and a machete
used-the worker was taken to the clinic and is now back at work . 3 days later
2 armed “warvets” arrived looking for the 2 who assaulted the worker. Kimcote
-a group of youths have taken poles, cut by the farmer for firewood.
white land rover with no number plates arrived and the occupants demanded
compensation for maize not planted because the farmer had planted into the
lands. Auks Nest -he situation has not been resolved the farmer is still not
allowed to farm
MACHEKE/VIRGINIA - Nyadora – Owner received a note stating
that named employees should attend a training camp for 4 days re education -
they were then to be deployed around the area for 2 weeks and the employer to
pay them. The employer refused. Malda: -50 Bags of maize stolen. A settler
penned 4 calves in an enclosure for 4 days without food and water.
NORTH - Kirndean -had electrical equipment stolen. Botha’s Rust-A bag of cut up
irrigation piping was found.
WEDZA - CHAKADENGA - An all night pungwe was
held and some of the labour were beaten up. They were told that anyone not
registered (?) must leave the area. FELS - Gunshots were heard on Saturday and
Sunday night MSASA - not listed. On Boxing Day, an unknown person arrived on the
farm and told the foreman that the owner had 30 days to get off. The following
day a man named Made, apparently connected to Agritex, but believed to be on
Markwe, arrived in a B2200 pick-up Reg. No 543-189X. He cut the fence to get
onto the farm and told the foreman he must leave the boom open. He arrived
again on the 31st and demanded that the boom be opened, the foreman refused. He
arrived again on the 1st with Zinyoro and attempted to break down the boom. The
foreman then opened it. He spent the day there and got his vehicle stuck,
demanded a tractor, which was refused, and finally left at about 9pm. On Friday
and Saturday two more vehicles were driving around, one a Kombi full of people.
On the 7th the owner got a phone call from a Caanan Matikiti who said he had
been given a plot consisting of the barn area, the late tobacco crop and the
paprika. He advised that he would be coming to visit on Thursday. IMIRE -
2.5-day work stoppage - labour threatened - some have gone back to the communal
areas. RUWARE - Received a second Section 8 Order, this time for the whole
property. Fencing stolen. The illegal settlers are moving cattle from paddock to
paddock. BEZUIDENHOUT - this farm is not listed but an illegal settler has
built a hut in front of the main house. MBIMA - Received requests from the
illegal settlers for transport to meetings, this was refused and they later told
the guards they would come and hold pungwes around the
MASHONALAND WEST (SOUTH)
NORTON - On Elladale Farm illegal
occupiers are bringing in 10 to 15 year old children by the bakkie load to do
their weeding for them. On Farnley occupiers’ cattle were driven into a crop of
fertilized Rhodes Grass. General - house break-ins have increased dramatically
in the last few months.
SELOUS - It is reported that 90% of crops grown by
occupiers have not been weeded.
CHEGUTU/SURI-SURI - Police have still not
made any arrests regarding abductions and assaults on Farnham "A" and Concession
Hill Farms over the weekend despite knowing who the perpetrators are. Another
pig was slaughtered on Farnham Farm last night. The worker in charge of the
pigs is being forced to resign due to pressure from the stock thief
KADOMA/CHAKARI/BATTLEFIELDS - Police have still not made any
arrests regarding assaults and the burning of more than 40 huts that took place
last year. On Rondor Farm another bull has been slaughtered. On Chevy Chase
Farm the owner has been forced to remove his cattle despite the farm not being
listed. On Pamene Farm (the shooting of game continues unchecked. On Alabama
Farm illegal occupiers have allowed four workers to work so that the manager can
move off the property. The occupier leadership in the area has occupied the
other two homesteads illegally. Chief Inspector Makaza has a plot on this farm
and visits it in a police vehicle on a daily basis. This is the command centre
for all the problems on the farms listed below: On Normandy North illegal
occupiers have not allowed the workers to work, but the owner was allowed to
have his domestics on condition he gave the illegal occupiers maize. Illegal
occupier "Jeri" has given the owner six days to vacate his house on threat of
death. He proclaims, "we are the law". On Inniskilling, another bull has gone
missing and illegal occupiers are not allowing the workers to work or go and
look for it. Domestics are not allowed to work on this property either. The
owner has been given a day to vacate the property. All remaining livestock has
had to be moved off. On Hellaby Farm none of the workers are allowed to work,
and the owner has had to pay them off. Last time the owner went to the farm, he
was held hostage along with a P.T.C vehicle which illegal occupiers took the
keys of. He was away over Christmas and had a house sitter checking on the farm
who was chased away by the illegal occupiers. There was a break in to the house
approximately ten days ago but the owner has not been allowed to go and see what
is missing until now due to police escorts not being available. It has
transpired that illegal occupiers have trashed the house.
the CFU Website www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
in this message do not necessarily reflect those of the Commercial Farmers'
Union which does not accept any legal responsibility for them.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 11
Farms raided by authorities as grain
runs out in Zimbabwe
Harare - Olive oil is available in top supermarkets, so is
imported wine, but maize meal, Zimbabwe's staple food, has run out. Such is the
authorities' panic that they raided white-owned farms this week and confiscated
thousands of tonnes of maize. The government nationalised the maize crop on Dec
28, and white farmers have to send their crops to the government's granaries
within 14 days of harvest, even though half of them have still not been paid for
wheat they delivered in October. A supermarket source said lorries have been
waiting in vain for four days at the country's main millers looking for some
stocks of maize meal. In the eastern town of Mutare, on the Mozambique border,
and in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, most supermarkets report that
they have already run out of maize meal, and stocks are only intermittently
available in the biggest outlets in Harare. Such is the bleak reality of
Zimbabwe after 21 years of President Mugabe's increasingly corrupt and
In rural areas in the south and eastern parts of the country,
tens of thousands of people are at the point of starvation according to the
World Food Programme. It has identified 500,000 people in need of food
immediately, and that number is expected to at least double in the next six
months. The WFP launched an appeal for food for Zimbabwe late last year and has
had little response, except from Britain. It said it had dug into its strategic
reserves and bought 5,000 tonnes of maize from South Africa. It will arrive
shortly and be distributed in the worst-hit areas within three weeks. Sources
close to the WFP said yesterday it has diverted another 13,000 tonnes meant for
The maize crop produced by commercial farmers has dropped by
almost 70 per cent since Mr Mugabe ordered invasions of white-owned land nearly
two years ago, and those who were able to farm this year say they have planted
only enough to feed their workers and livestock. More than half have been unable
to grow a crop at all because of disruptions by Mugabe supporters. According to
the Commercial Farmers' Union some farmers who could have grown maize decided
not to because they feared their harvest would be stolen by newly resettled
farmers facing widespread crop failure. Doug Taylor-Freeme, the CFU
vice-president, said yesterday: "If the government ignores the laws of the land
and goes ahead and seizes maize off commercial farms it will cause livestock to
be slaughtered which will take years to rebuild."
Beef will be in short supply soon as disrupted ranchers have
slaughtered up to half their cattle and price controls have seen shortages of
lower grade meat. The agriculture minister, Joe Made, who was in Brussels for a
European Union meeting today, denied until late last year that Zimbabwe needed
to import grain, although he was warned by crop forecasters more than six months
ago that invasions of white-owned farms would lead to shortages.
State-controlled media and election advertisements by the ruling Zanu PF claimed
that the absence of supplies was the responsibility of whites involved in
economic sabotage. "The shortages of all foodstuffs was caused by invasions of
commercial farms, and price controls which forced manufacturers to stop
producing," a senior commodities broker, who asked not to be named, said
yesterday. "We are headed for disaster."
From News24 (SA), 10
Zim anthrax tests
Harare – An envelope thought to contain anthrax intercepted at
a Zimbabwe post office, has tested negative for the deadly bacteria, but is
still being treated by police as an act of "terrorism", a newspaper Said on
Thursday. The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that the suspicious
envelope containing white powder intercepted earlier this week by health
authorities was addressed to the country's information minister, Jonathan Moyo.
"We are therefore viewing this as terrorism designed to cause fear in the
population as well as create insecurity," police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena
told the paper. "This is particularly so as it comes at a time we are gearing up
for the presidential election," he added. Presidential elections have been set
for March 9-10. A health official interviewed by the paper said the substance
contained in the envelope was a type of bacteria, and efforts to identify it
were in progress. On Wednesday home affairs minister, John Nkomo, claimed that
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was behind the suspected
anthrax attack, but the MDC has dismissed the allegation. Fears of global
bio-terror attacks rose sharply across the world in the aftermath of the
September 11 terror strikes on New York and Washington - blamed on Saudi
millionaire Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda group.
From News24 (SA), 10
Diplomats sceptical over
Brussels - The European Union will tell Zimbabwe on Friday it
faces economic sanctions if it fails to curb political violence and alleged
human rights abuses, but diplomats doubt the threat will have much impact.
President Robert Mugabe is sending a high-level team to the talks, including
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, architect of a bill which critics say will
stifle the media and opposition ahead of a March 9 – 10 presidential election.
By contrast, the EU will be represented not by ministers, but by the Spanish
ambassador - Madrid holds the bloc's rotating presidency - and a mid-ranking
European Commission official. Members of the European Parliament have accused
the EU of moving too slowly and cautiously against Mugabe, but diplomats say
they are following legal procedures and warn that hasty moves could harm the
poorest people in Zimbabwe.
"Expectations should not be too high. Tomorrow is the opening
of a process of consultations, which according to the Cotonou Agreement could
last a maximum of 60 days," said Michael Curtis, spokesperson for the EU's
executive Commission. Under Article 96 of the trade and aid pact with African,
Caribbean and Pacific nations, the EU can eventually suspend aid to a country
which fails to rectify alleged human rights abuses. Mugabe, 77, has sparked
Zimbabwe's biggest crisis since independence from Britain in 1980 with violent
seizures of white-owned farms and attempts to tighten control of the media and
opposition. Casting fresh doubt on chances of a fair and free election,
Zimbabwe's security chiefs signalled on Wednesday they would not accept a poll
victory by the opposition, headed by former trade unionist Morgan
Britain has threatened to push for Zimbabwe's suspension from
the Commonwealth if it continues its present course. The EU's caution, which
partly reflects the need to build a consensus among the 15 member states, has
infuriated some European parliamentarians. "If the EU waits until the
presidential elections in March, it will simply be too late," British socialist
MEP Glenys Kinnock said in a statement. "We have reached the deadline for a
positive response from Zimbabwe to the EU's demand for the restoration of the
rule of law, a commitment to a free press and free opposition, and to
international monitoring of the presidential elections." The Paris-based press
watchdog Reporters without Borders urged the EU to impose travel restrictions on
Mugabe and his close associates. "The human rights and press freedom situation
in Zimbabwe is catastrophic," the group said in an open letter to Spanish
Foreign Minister Josep Pique.
The 60-day consultation period envisaged by the Cotonou accord
takes the EU right up to the election date. "The whole objective of invoking
Article 96 was to help ensure fair and free elections. The consultations should
have begun last November. By postponing them until now, Zimbabwe won valuable
time," said one EU diplomat. If Friday's talks go badly, the matter would have
to go to EU ambassadors and then to the bloc's foreign ministers, whose next
formal meeting is set for January 28. The last high-level contact between the EU
and Zimbabwe give few grounds for optimism. After ill-tempered talks with Mugabe
in Harare last November, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said relations
stood "at a very critical point".
Officials said the EU could eventually suspend 128 million
euros worth of development aid covering the period 2002 - 07. Complete
suspension of the agreement would deprive Zimbabwe of access to lucrative
European markets, though trade has fallen in recent years as the country's
economic crisis has deepened. EU figures show Zimbabwe's exports to the EU
totalled 256 million euros in 2000, down 26 percent from the previous year.
Diplomats said sanctions often hit the weakest sections of a country's
population hardest, and the EU would also be worried about the safety of
Europeans living in Zimbabwe. Belgium has voiced concern at the regional
implications of the crisis, especially in its ex-colony the Democratic Republic
of Congo, where Harare has had troops stationed. But officials said Belgium
would not stand in the way of tougher EU action against Zimbabwe if the