Our apologies to recipients for the late distribution of this
Every attempt is made to provide a comprehensive report of
ongoing activities in relation to farm invasions, but many incidents are
unreported due to communications constraints, fear of reprisals and a general
weariness on the part of farmers.
NATIONAL REPORT IN BRIEF:
Illegal ploughing, planting and cattle movement is so widespread
country-wide that specific incidents are not included in this report. The
potential of illegally planted crops is generally low, hence the emerging
pattern of "compensation" claims for alleged damage by farm cattle. There
have been serious disputes over cattle on Chiwe Farm in Raffingora over the past
few days. Illegal occupiers have claimed seven paddocks and have made claims
that farm cattle have eaten maize that they had planted. After futile
negotiations, illegal occupiers, under the leadership of war vets Kangachepe and
Chirama, drove 200 cattle into the main homestead area at midday. War vets
commandeered a pick up from a neighbour who came to assist and the driver was
assaulted. Police assisted to defuse the situation, but a further demonstration
by 40 illegal occupiers flared up the following morning. The demonstrators had
assaulted the guard to get a key in order to gain access to the homestead yard
for a rain-making ceremony. Police officials who responded to the report
described the demonstration as "peaceful" and only took action after the Officer
Commanding Mashonaland West intervened personally. Last Friday night,
invaders visited the farm village at Berea in Harare West and gave a deadline of
three days for farm labour to move out. As they left, one of them fired a
volley of shots over the village. In Karoi the tobacco barns on Furzen and
Jenya Farms, which are required for curing the current crop, are occupied by
invaders. The owner of Jenya was chased off his property by illegal occupiers
armed with axes. No report was received from Matabeleland
Mashonaland Central Glendale -
Section 8 orders were served on Gosforth and Glen Divis yesterday despite both
farms having been officially delisted. Harare West - On Friday night,
invaders visited the farm village at Berea and gave a deadline of 3 days for
farm labour to move out. As they left, one of them fired a volley of shots over
the village. There have been numerous cases of invaders taking over game parks
/ cattle paddocks to plant crops and demanding that wildlife / livestock be
removed by the farmers.
Mashonaland East Beatrice - "Landless
peasants" arrived in a Toyota Hilux, Toyota Carolla and a Mazda B2500 to build
huts on Endslensdeale B. Bromley/Ruwa - There was a new invasion onto Danga
Lima where illegal occupiers have built three substantial huts. A meeting was
held on Nyamasanga Farm with the police, farm management and farm labour to
discuss the assault of farm labour and interference with work on the farm. The
results of this meeting are not yet known. Wedza - There was an altercation
on Lifton on Monday afternoon after farm cattle ate some maize planted by
illegal occupiers. War vet Chigwadere and others met with some farmers and
issued the usual threats against Wedza Farm Security. The farmers were told
that if the cattle went back into the maize, Wedza Farm Security guards would
disappear. There is a lot of illegal activity on Chakadenga where the community
stepped in last week to assist the farmer to catch up with farm operations.
Mashonaland West (North) Raffingora - There have been serious
disputes over cattle on Chiwe Farm in the past few days. Illegal occupiers have
claimed seven paddocks and have made claims that farm cattle have eaten maize
that they had planted. After futile negotiations, illegal occupiers, under the
leadership of war vets Kangachepe and Chirama, drove 200 cattle into the main
homestead area at midday. The farm owner and manager were off the farm at the
time, so a neighbouring farmer came to assist the family. Illegal occupiers
commandeered this farmers vehicle and assaulted the driver. The vehicle was
later recovered and the driver did not sustain serious injuries. Police
assisted to disperse the illegal occupiers and release the cattle by the end of
the day. The following morning, the owner and manager went to assess the extent
of alleged damage to crops and returned to find 40 illegal occupiers
demonstrating at the manager's homestead. The demonstrators had assaulted the
guard to get a key in order to gain access to the homestead yard for a
rain-making ceremony. Police officials who responded to the report described
the demonstration as peaceful and only took action after the Officer Commanding
Mashonaland West intervened personally. Farm operations are constantly being
disrupted on Cornrise Farm. Chinhoyi - Police have consulted with the
Veterinary Department about controlling the illegal movement of cattle, but
there has been no tangible action. There has been an escalation of poaching and
snaring of wildlife especially on occupied farms and farms in proximity to
communal areas. Section 7 orders (notices to appear in Court) are being served
on a daily basis. The owner of Bandira Farm was informed that the farm would be
appropriated despite the fact that he has already sold 21 000 ha to Government
for resettlement. Umboe - Boundary and internal fencing is being destroyed to
make snares. Karoi - The tobacco barns on Furzen and Jenya Farms, which are
required for curing the current crop, are occupied by invaders. The owner of
Jenya was chased off his property by illegal occupiers armed with axes. Of
concern are cattle moving onto Karoi and Tengwe farms from the most recent
Anthrax outbreak area.
Mashonaland West (South) General - The
Region is relatively quiet. Kadoma - The DA and Agritex are going around to
all gazetted farms in the district to find out what infrastructure is there and
what production is taking place. Selous - A new invasion took place on
Manicaland Odzi -The owner of Stonedale Farm has been
subjected to harassment and a death threat. Headlands - The previously
reported problems on York Farm were resolved with the assistance of the local
Midlands General: No serious incidents have been
Masvingo Masvingo East and Central - Nine cows are
missing from Vredenburg / Shallock Park Farms and farm implements were stolen,
but later recovered. The owner of Testwood Farm is unable to bring his cattle
back onto the farm. Nine goats are reported stolen from Beauly Farm and more
pegging and clearing has taken place in the new year. Mashava -War vet Mrs.
Mahofa has moved into a vacant house on Lochinvar Farm. There are unconfirmed
reports that the owner of Springspruit Farm has had to leave the farm for safety
reasons. Gutu / Chatsworth - The Land Committee fast-tracked Grasslands A
and Felixburg Farms yesterday. Save Conservancy - Eight illegal occupiers
have built a hut at Sambanai Camp on Chigwete Ranch and 3 ha of land has been
cleared at this camp. Mwenezi - The Land Committee visited the owner Bubi
River Ranch yesterday to inform him that he should move off this property and
onto his other farm. Illegal occupiers have demanded that the owner of Quagga
Pan extend the farm pipeline to cater for their needs. The owner has informed
the occupiers that they will have to carry the costs.
UP to 300 soldiers were court-martialled by the Zimbabwe National Army
(ZNA) in the past month alone over their refusal to be deployed in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as Zimbabwe sends more troops to ward off
a rebel offensive, it was established this week. Although the army denied the
court martials, authoritative military sources said a significant number of
Zimbabwean troops had returned home in December for the Christmas holidays, just
about the same time renewed fighting intensified in the DRC.
This had forced the army to prepare more deployments to replace the
returning troops and to beef up Zimbabwe's defence lines on the southern
frontier of President Laurent Kabila's beleaguered country.
Some soldiers had elected to ignore the call for duty, preferring to spend
the holidays with their families, the sources said.
"There was a lot of resistance from a significant number of soldiers who
did not want to go to the DRC," a senior ZNA official told the Financial
"A lot of excuses were being brought forward. Maybe it was because of the
reluctance to go to the war front around a precious holiday time, but the whole
thing resulted in hundreds of court martials," the official said, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
Army spokesman Chancellor Diye said court martials were a routine thing in
the army involving different cases but said he did not know of anyone who had
been court-martialled over their refusal to go to the DRC.
"We don't face that problem. Our troops are disciplined and loyal and
always raring to go," Diye said in a response strongly disputed by our sources.
Court martials are an internal disciplinary procedure through which
offending soldiers are brought before military tribunals for trial and
sentenced. Those convicted serve their sentences in military jails in army
The sources also said a number of court martials had taken place within the
DRC itself and these had affected, among others, four battalion commanders who
fled from the rebels and left equipment worth millions of dollars.
One battalion commander who asked his group to flee from advancing rebels -
the insurgents later captured the village of Manono late last year - was held
responsible for the loss of equipment seized by the rebels.
Another court-marti-alled battalion commander had asked his troops not to
attack rebels stationed near a bridge, arguing that the rebels far outnumbered
his men. Others were court-martialled for actually abandoning their whole
battalions as fighting intensified.
The sources said more court martials were expected against some commanders
who were among the 300 soldiers who fled the DRC into Zambia last month
alongside 1 000 Congolese troops.
The soldiers were fleeing from Uganda and Rwanda-backed rebels who seized
the towns of Pweto and Pepa along the southern frontier but the sources said the
"allied troops" had been managing to repel them.
The allied troops consist of Zimbabweans, Nami-bians, Angolans and soldiers
from the DRC itself.
The sources said the growing reluctance among Zimbabwean soldiers to go
into the DRC was being caused by the country's failure to expeditiously beef up
its arsenal lost in the war.
Zimbabwe is reeling under a biting foreign currency shortage and has failed
to replace some of the weaponry lost in the war front.
"No one would want to go to the battle front ill-equipped," an army officer
The Airforce of Zimbabwe (AFZ) is reported to be the worst hit by equipment
shortages, with a significant number of its planes grounded because of a
shortage of spare parts.
Britain had also imposed military sanctions on Zimbabwe and declined to
sell spares for UK-made Hawk fighter aircraft, a development that the sources
said had effectively crippled a key component of the AFZ.
Cricket in Zimbabwe cannot afford the loss of its best and brightest talent
The game can't stop cricketing refugees leaving a troubled country in their
droves, but it can help players left behind.
Scott Brant has been bowling to his fellow Zimbabweans in the Gabba
nets, and his left-arm swing has made an impression.
As far as the tourists are concerned, this has been a mixed blessing
because Scott is a cricketing refugee unlikely to play for the country of his
Young cricketers are leaving Zimbabwe in droves, removed by their families
from an ailing country and taken towards lands where dreams can be
Three members of the national under-19 team have settled in Australia -
Brant in Brisbane, and Andrew Maguire and Andrew Stone in Perth.
Among the younger fellows, two members of the country's under-15 side have
been given scholarships to attend Brighton College in East Sussex, England, and
might stay there. Cricket in Zimbabwe can't afford this loss of the brightest
and the best.
Scott's case is typical.
A talented youngster, he has represented his country in five sporting
disciplines and, as a 15-year-old, swam the 100 metres breaststroke in 71
seconds, which might satisfy a pursued trout.
Cricket, though, has always been his first love and he has dedicated his
energies to it. Somewhat to his dismay, his parents occasionally mention
studies, whereupon the reluctant son will attend to his books for an hour at
least before his thoughts turn back to the bat and ball.
Last autumn the family decided to leave Harare and join relatives already
established in Queensland. Alas, education standards have dropped in their
homeland, exams are no longer set in England, and their results have little
meaning in other countries.
Moreover, the Brants wanted to give their sons every chance to explore
their sporting gifts. Brett, the younger brother, can hit a golf ball into the
Already Scott has made his mark in local cricketing circles by forcing his
way into the first-grade team at Norths, and he's been taking wickets.
He's enjoying his time at Nudgee College, although he does think it a bit
soft, an opinion echoed by Maguire in Perth. These lads are used to the robust
ways of Zimbabwean schools which, Scott says, are "very tough". Maguire was
"shocked and amazed" by the informality of relations between pupils and masters
in Australian schools.
Maguire's father is a teacher, his mother a book illustrator, and he is
delivering pizzas in the school holidays. He was raised not to be rude to
Maguire arrived in Perth a few weeks ago. He is a top-class young spinner,
easily the best in his age group in Zimbabwe, and he's been working with John
Traicos, the tweaker who left Africa a decade ago in search of a better life in
Not everyone is leaving. Many families, black and white, will stay behind,
including farmers and their sons, among them Terence Duffen, captain of the
under-19 side and an old boy of Plumtree School where Henry Olonga first
contemplated the mysteries of logarithms.
Most of the black players emerging from Churchill School in Harare, or
Falcon College near Bulawayo, will also fight it out.
Nonetheless, this small cricketing community can ill afford to lose the
likes of Brant, Maguire or Stone, not to mention the ankle-biters. Cricket in
Zimbabwe has long depended upon a few schools and a few families, including the
Flowers, Streaks, Campbells and Whittalls.
Heath Streak is captain and his dad is a selector, while Flower senior
spends a lot of his time coaching youngsters, including Brant and Stone, and
Murray Goodwin before he settled in Perth - all of them from the same school in
Cricket cannot do much to stop this drift away from an ailing country.
Families are entitled to leave the troubles behind and to give their children a
better chance to build a healthy life.
But the game can do more to help those left behind.
A few months ago I spent a week at Milton College, a school which has
produced Test cricketers but now cannot afford the most rudimentary
One boy promised to write as soon as he scored his first 50. A letter
appeared last week, full of glad tidings because he had moved past 50 and
reached three figures. And he could have done better, he thought, except he'd
been using a broken bat owned by a small, more privileged child.
Friday January 12 11:03 AM ET Zimbabwean By-Election to Be Test for
By Stella Mapenzauswa
HARARE (Reuters) - A rural by-election this weekend is seen as a key test
of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party ahead of next year's Zimbabwean
One man has died and several have been injured in clashes between Mugabe's
ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of
Saturday and Sunday's vote in Bikita West, 330 km (200 miles) southeast of
The seat was won by the MDC in parliamentary elections last June, but fell
vacant two months ago when the deputy died.
Local businessman Bonnie Pakai is seeking to retain the seat for the MDC,
while ZANU-PF is fielding retired army colonel Claudius Makova, who lost the
first contest in June.
``(An MDC victory) would mean that the people's resolve for political
change has triumphed and it means that other rural areas would feel emboldened
to embrace change,'' Emmanuel Magade, a law lecturer at Harare's University of
Zimbabwe, told Reuters.
``Although the presidential elections are still 18 months away, and
anything can happen...if ZANU-PF loses now it might be panicked into unleashing
violence in the rural areas between now and then.''
Both parties have accused each other of using violence to win Bikita
On December 31 an MDC supporter who had defected to ZANU-PF was stabbed to
death in a clash between rival groups. Two MDC members of parliament were also
Police are also investigating charges that ZANU-PF militants, led by
independence war veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi, petrol-bombed a convoy of
``ZANU-PF's intimidation campaign is undeniable,'' the MDC said in a
statement earlier this week.
ZANU-PF has criticized MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai's plan to deploy
some 20,000 youths to protect the party's supporters from what he called state
``The people of Bikita must be protected from Tsvangirai's marauding
hooligans in order for them to express their democratic choice freely and
fairly,'' ZANU-PF said this week.
Newspaper columnist Alex Majongwe has described the Bikita poll as a
preview of the presidential vote in 2002, in which Mugabe is expected to run
``While much can be said about the violence and outcome of the Bikita West
constituency election -- the underlying issue is rather the psychological effect
on the more important election next year,'' Majongwe wrote in the Financial
Gazette on Thursday.
In the general election in June, ZANU-PF, which has ruled Zimbabwe since
the former Rhodesia won independence from Britain in 1980, narrowly defeated the
MDC which won an unprecedented 57 of 120 elected seats, mostly in urban
At least 31 people, mostly MDC supporters, were killed in the run-up to the
election. The violence was linked to the invasion of white-owned farms by
self-styled war veterans led by Hunzvi and backed by Mugabe.
Zimbabwe Debates Impact of Land Reform On Food Security
Panafrican News Agency
January 10, 2001
Rangarirai Shoko Harare, Zimbabwe
Is Zimbabwe headed for food shortages induced by the government's land
Depending on which side you stand on the emotive debate on the pros and
cons of land reform, the answer is either yes or no, as there are rarely
neutrals here in the matter which has vexed the southern African nation since
the beginning of last year.
Impatient at the failure of 4 500 mainly white farmers to release part of
their farms to resettle landless blacks under the willing seller-willing buyer
land reform programme crafted by colonial power Britain in an independence deal
in 1979, the authorities last year started to compulsorily seize the land to
give to peasants.
The white farmers control more than 70 percent of arable land, giving them
a virtual stranglehold on Zimbabwe's agriculture-driven economy, part of the
reason President Robert Mugabe is defying international criticism to press ahead
his land reform programme to break the farmers' siege on the economy.
But critics of the government programme, while universally acknowledging
the need for land reform in the country, have consistently warned its hurried
and haphazard implementation threatened to stall, and not advance, the country's
They say food shortages, for example, could loom in the country as early as
this year due to the disruption of farming activities on commercial white-owned
farms where some peasants have already been resettled.
The Zimbabwe Grain Producers' Association, dominated by commercial farmers,
is warning that the output of the staple maize crop would decline this year to
1.3 million tones from 2.5 million tones last year, because its members had been
forced to reduce production by between 40 and 60 percent.
"There has been serious disturbances in planting in the Mashonaland Central
region, the prime maize growing area in Zimbabwe," said association spokeswoman,
The association's mother body, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), is even
gloomier in its assessment of the impact of the government's land reform
programme on the nation's food security, let alone that of the region which
Zimbabwe is in charge of within the Southern African Development Community
It claims resettled peasants would not be able to contribute much to food
production in the foreseeable future without adequate financing, leading to a
drop in the nation's overall agricultural output in coming years.
"Haphazard illegal ploughing and planting is prevalent country-wide (on
commercial farms) and CFU continues to receive reports of ongoing ploughing well
after the optimum planting date for all major crops," it said in newspaper
"Given generally low input levels, widespread use of uncertified maize seed
and generally poor weed control, it is unlikely these illegal crops will have a
significant beneficial effect on food security," it added.
But the government and its supporters say the dire warnings of food
shortages by the white farmers, including by Britain which is opposed to
President Mugabe's land reform plans, were misplaced and intended to
psychologically frighten Zimbabweans from embracing the programme.
"We are now seeing the (white) farmers and their backers changing tactics
and targeting local people with crude warnings and prophesies of doom that land
reform will lead to hunger in Zimbabwe," said an official of the Ministry of
Agriculture, which is spearheading government land reform.
"Nothing can be far from the truth than these warnings, at least as they
pertain to this country as the evidence on the ground shows how industrious in
farming the peasant farmers of this country are. In fact, this is what is partly
motivating the government to press ahead with the programme," he said.
The official, who declined to be named, was referring to statistics which
show the bulk of the country's food is grown by peasant farmers, while the
commercial farmers concentrated on cash crops such as tobacco.
The state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB), worried by the assertions of
possible food shortages, has leapt to the government's defence, assuring the
nation it had enough stocks of maize in reserve to last the whole of this year
GMB's chief executive John Mtukwa said his company had a 600,000 tonne
strategic maize reserve, which is enough to feed the nation's 12.5 million
people between two farming seasons.
The reserve is in addition to what peasant farmers kept at household level,
which authorities estimate at more than 800,000 tonnes from the last season in
which a record maize crop of 2.5 million tones was produced.
The government is using such statistics and food security measures it has
put in place to dispel what it considers a propaganda ploy by the commercial
farmers to black-stain its land reform programme.
WASHINGTON Zimbabwe has moved to restore its fiscal credibility and patch up
relations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by allowing it to publish a
searing analysis of Harare's "fiscal profligacy" and "governance problems" over
the past two years.
The report was prepared for Zimbabwe's latest annual consultation with the
IMF board on December 6. It warns that without a fundamental policy turnaround,
Zimbabwe faces a precipitous decline in activity and employment, hyperinflation
and a rapid deterioration of bank loan portfolios that could trigger a financial
crisis. There is a serious risk of regional contagion.
The Zimbabwean authorities were grateful for the IMF's "constructive role",
and considered the assessment fair, accurate and candid, Cyrus Rustomjee, an SA
finance official, told IMF directors. Rustomjee represents the African voting
bloc, which includes Zimbabwe, on the fund's board.
The report holds out hope that Finance Minister Simba Makoni and his team can
reverse the economy's decline. If the government could muster the broad
political consensus needed to stabilise the economy, Zimbabwe would "regain its
rightful status as an anchor of stability and prosperity in southern Africa".
Makoni is applauded for "raising the awareness of public opinion about the
size of the fiscal deficit and its root causes". These include the war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, which raised Zimbabwe's military outlays to a
projected 4,6% of gross domestic product (GDP) last year.
Efforts are "hamstrung by continued policy weaknesses, dislocations and
uncertainties related to the fast-track land resettlement programme".
The IMF has begun to push member states to permit the release of staff
reports, but most countries still exercise their right to keep the documents
confidential. Rustomjee said Makoni had authorised publication as part of his
drive to enhance transparency.
Released with the report were the government's responses to its
recommendations, which include a return to the rule of law in implementing a
land reform programme designed to garner domestic and international support.
In reply, Zimbabwean authorities stopped short of promising to uphold the
law. They said enforcing the law would be facilitated if local commercial
farmers and bankers, and international donors, provided concrete assistance for
land acquisition, resettlement, and "broad agrarian reform".
The government also stressed that while it was committed to withdrawing its
forces from Congo, it would pull out only "in step with the deployment of United
Zimbabwe's real GDP will shrink by 10% this year, the IMF projects. With
changes factored in, they foresee a smaller, 6,5% contraction. With reform, they
expect the economy to rebound next year, with growth rising to about 5% in
Mercedes Sayagues reports from Bikita, where a by-election has turned the
area into a battleground
A frightful view appears in the rear-view mirror. Two pick-up trucks loaded
with threatening Zanu-PF militiamen are overtaking us.
At 140kph, along 6km of winding road, they try to ambush four journalists
covering a political rally in Bikita, in south-east Zimbabwe.
Leading the pack of angry, fist-waving men in paramilitary uniforms is Dr
Torture himself, Chenjerai Hitler HunzviZanu-PF MP, war veteran leader and
instigator of violence, whose surgery in Budiriro township in Harare was used
overtime as a torture centre during the elections last year.
His pick-up pulls up alongside. Dressed in olive green fatigues, Hunzvi
gesticulates wildly, waves us down.
Only eight days ago in the next village, Hunzvi and his men threw petrol
bombs like confetti, burned two cars and assaulted four opposition MPs with
knobkerries. Lucia Mativanenga, the opposition's national chair for women,
needed four stitches on her head. We are not stopping for a roadside chat with
A third pick-up appears ahead. We are trapped. With a sharp U-turn and
immense relief we squeeze past the car behind as it changes lanes to block
Later we learn that Hunzvi and his shock troops have just assaulted the
driver of Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangarai and five youths guarding his car
during a rally.
We arrive at Nyika Growth Point, a forlorn place that has not seen any
growth in the past five years, except in the production of petrol bombs. The
militia is based at the rural district council office. As we walk past it, a
shrill voice very much like Hunzvi's shrieks: "Go away! Cunt, asshole, British
rubbish, this is Zimbabwe!" This is Bikita West district, 350km from Harare,
where Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are fighting an ugly
by-election after the death from heart failure of MDC MP Amos Mutongi. Mutongi
had defeated retired Colonel Claudius Makova by a narrow margin 7 745 to 7
Bikita is in Masvingo province, a former Zanu-PF stronghold now racked by
internal party dissidence. The by-election has turned Bikita into a
Feared war vet leaders Joseph Chinotimba, Francis Zimuto, aka "Black
Jesus", and Hunzvi moved in. Their men set up bases at the future polling
stations of Bengura and Mutikizizi schools. They include war veterans and the
new youth brigades created by the sinister Border Gezi, Minister of Gender,
Youth and Employment. As governor of Mashonaland Central province, he left a
trail of blood during the parliamentary elections last June.
These Zanu-PF militia have been beating up people, forcing them to attend
all-night rallies, stealing their property and confiscating identity documents
needed to vote. Mission hospitals have treated dozens of wounded
Many have fled to the mountains, among them MDC candidate Bonnie Pakai
after moving his wife and two children out of the district. He remains mostly in
hiding. His house shelters about 80 supporters displaced by violence. At the
rally, Pakai, wearing an old black suit with a Mao collar, too hot for January,
looks haggard and tired.
Dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation agents warn chiefs and headmen
that Zanu-PF must win or they will lose their status, and advise people not to
attend MDC rallies. Informers note who attends. At the rally in Nyika few of the
crowds on the shop's veranda dared join in. They watched nervously.
Last year, at a by-election in Marondera, the MDC stopped campaigning
because of the violence. But in Bikita, the strategy has changed. MDC is
Scores of youth from other provinces moved in to campaign, and in the
ensuing clashes, a Zanu-PF member was stabbed to death in unclear circumstances.
Each party accuses the other. Police promptly arrested 98 MDC activists, then
released half. The other half were tortured beaten with rifle butts and sticks,
burned with cigarettes and subjected to assaults on their testicles. Thirteen of
them were then dropped off in pairs in a remote wildlife park in the south-east
corner of the country and told to campaign among the animals.
On Monday militiamen kidnapped MDC campaign manager John Nyaki and beat
"The violence is far worse than in June," says Pakai. The elections are due
this weekend. Every legal challenge the MDC has mounted has been blocked. The
courts have ruled in favour of the MDC several times. Its rulings have been
A presidential amnesty freed Zanu-PF members found guilty of violence
during the elections. A presidential decree nullified MDC court challenges to
elections in 37 constituencies. The Supreme Court will hear this case on January
Zanu-PF spent the Z$30-million in state funds due to the MDC for winning
more than 15 seats (it won 56 out of 120) and ignored court orders to return
State-owned radio and TV spew gross propaganda and distorted information.
The MDC cannot buy advertising space, in spite of yet another court order.
To avoid a bloodbath, the MDC has ruled out mass action. It would play
neatly into President Robert Mugabe's hands. He could decree a state of
emergency and crush the opposition.
"If you close all avenues for democratic dissent, people will turn to
violence," says Welshman Ncube, a law lecturer, MDC secretary general and its MP
for Bulawayo NorthEast. "We are dangerously close to that point. I fear for
The odds are against civil society. The army incorporated Hunzvi's war vets
into the reserve. Business, never too brave, is afraid of having property
confiscated or the militia invading their offices. Wily Mugabe skilfully
suppressed all dissent inside his party at the December congress.
The economy shrunk by 6% of gross domestic product in 2000; 5% is expected
in 2001. A psychotic militia leader and MP has carte blanche to assault, kidnap,
torture and kill. To the international community, Zimbabwe increasingly appears
as another African basket case, all the more poignant because it held so much
MDC turns to terror in Zimbabwe By
David Blair in Nyika
THE people of a mountainous area of southern Zimbabwe are being
terrorised in a by-election campaign, with supporters and opponents of President
Mugabe both resorting to organised violence. The battle to win Bikita West
tomorrow has seen a repeat of the brutal onslaught mounted by Mr Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change before last
year's parliamentary elections.
But, after hundreds of assaults, the MDC has been drawn into the cycle of
retaliation and revenge. Against all odds, the MDC last year captured Bikita
West, in Mr Mugabe's rural stronghold, by just 281 votes. After the death of the
sitting MP, Zanu-PF renewed its violence in an effort to retake the
Operating from four base camps and using 26 vehicles, Zanu-PF shock troops
fanned out across the area last month and imposed a reign of terror. Hundreds
were injured, including three MDC officials driving to the town of Nyika, who
were ambushed last Saturday by a mob hurling petrol bombs.
According to the MDC, the man who threw the first bomb was Zanu-PF's most
notorious MP, Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, prime mover behind the occupation of
white-owned farms.He leads hundreds of thugs, mainly unemployed youths and
veterans of the guerrilla war against white rule, in an effort to secure victory
for Claudius Makova, the Zanu-PF candidate.
Bonnie Pakai, the MDC candidate, has been forced to move his wife and two
children, and is sheltering 80 victims of Zanu-PF violence at his home. John
Nyika, his campaign manager, was abducted by a gang led by Mr Hunzvi during a
raid on the house yesterday.
Since the MDC retaliated, local people fear becoming trapped between the
violence of both sides. Police have charged seven MDC youths with the murder of
Bernard Gara, a Zanu-PF member, who was stabbed to death last week.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, said: "What the MDC is doing is not to
meet force with force, but to defend our members. We are not hunting down
Zanu-PF people the way they do to our people." At the start of an MDC rally in
Nyika on Sunday, activists chanted hondo (war). But Mr Tsvangirai's tone was
conciliatory. He urged the crowd not to submit to terror "no matter how hard
they beat you".
His audience consisted mainly of MDC supporters transported from the
capital, Harare. Local people gathered in silence at a safe distance. A stone's
throw away, the rural district council office has been turned into the main base
for Mr Hunzvi's troops. Wearing paramilitary clothing, he lounged at the
entrance, hurling abuse at any white face. Two hours earlier, he and 12
followers had ambushed five MDC activists.
Two MDC activists, their heads bandaged, described how they were set upon
by a dozen men with clubs. Godfrey Koster said: "I was punched to the ground.
Then they hit me on the head with an iron bar. I saw Hunzvi. He was the
commander of the whole incident."
He said Mr Hunzvi was encouraging his assailant. "Hunzvi shouted at him,
'Don't beat him like you are beating your brother. Kill him, torture him'." As
Mr Koster fled into the darkness during the confusion, he heard the cries of
other MDC activists being tortured.
Mugabe takes 30 hangers-on for his Malaysian holiday
Barnabas Thondhlana PRESIDENT Mugabe demonstrated his penchant for big
delegations when he took between 28 and 30 people with him on his Malaysian trip
despite it being a holiday.
Mugabe, who left the capital on December 28 for his annual holiday,
chartered an Air Zimbabwe B767 for his delegation, and connected with an
intercontinental flight from Johannesburg to Singapore.
His favourite plane, the B737, was unavailable as it was grounded in the
Democratic Republic of Congo. The B767 has a capacity of 197 passengers compared
to the B737’s 103 passengers.
Mugabe connected to Singapore Airlines at Johannesburg, with eight of his
delegation taking a Malaysian Airlines flight. They met up in Kuala Lumpur.
Department of Information spokesman George Charamba said he was not aware of
the exact numbers in Mugabe’s entourage but confirmed some officers from his
department had gone on the trip.
“That he is on leave is just a technical term,” Charamba said. “As far as I
know the president will be taking the opportunity to meet business leaders in
that country. He is still head of state and as such he takes with him personnel
whom he knows will enable him to achieve five or six things while away.”
He didn’t say what the five or six things might be. Charamba said a holiday
was essentially for the president’s family, but for Mugabe “it will be work
through and through. I would not be surprised if he spends half of his time
meeting business leaders.”
He chided the press for “hounding” the president even when he was on leave,
saying some sections of the press had even gone as far as to say Mugabe was ill
and was hospitalised in France.
Rumours on Mugabe’s health have been doing the rounds in Harare over the
past year. There has been talk of visits to specialists and even rumours that he
collapsed while in Libya on his way to the United Nations Millennium congress in
His team of bodyguards was reportedly fired for releasing information on
his collapse in Tripoli and was replaced. He is also said to have collapsed at
his rural home of Zvimba and was “out for close to 10 minutes”.
However, the only collapse that has been confirmed was the one in Malaysia
on his last trip to that country whose ruler Dr Mahathir Mohamad shares Mugabe’s
distrust of the West.
“WHERE is the vision and leadership one expects from an opposition party
that could have won the June election...?” you asked in your editorial comment
(Independent, December 15). Congratulations Mr Editor, you hit the nail on the
The next issue of the Independent carried an article that illustrated the
MDC’s lack of quality leadership. “Tsvangirai hits back at Mugabe” read the
headline. The opposition do not, as a rule, get much media coverage. Tsvangirai
had at last a bite at the cherry. I expected fireworks.
“If Mugabe wants a public debate on the economy I can engage him anytime,
anywhere, on any platform, on any issue and at any level,” was Tsvangirai’s
response to Mugabe’s assertion at the Zanu PF congress that the MDC had no
solution to the country’s economic problems. “We have a programme on the economy
and everyone who has bothered to check knows that,” said Tsvangirai.
Damn it man! Engage him right here and right now. What is the MDC’s
economic programme? I would like to know and so too would many Zimbabweans. Tell
us right now.
Over the years people have gleaned something from Tsvangirai’s ZCTU days.
Very poor pickings given the trade union movement’s economic policies were at
best a confused rehash of Zanu PF’s socialist trash. The reader should remember,
the MDC is an offshoot of the ZCTU, which itself was an offshoot of Zanu PF.
I remember the Labour Day celebrations of the 1980s as if they happened
only yesterday. Back then, Tsvangirai and Mugabe had nothing but praise for the
other’s “good” leadership. They were both committed socialists. “Comrade
secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Morgan Tsvangirai .
. ,” Mugabe would say.
The same Tsvangirai Mugabe now calls an “empty vessel”, an “ignoramus” etc.
Times have changed!
However, if Tsvangirai’s so-called “economic programme” is some air-
brushed ZCTU rubbish then the MDC certainly has no economic programme. But to be
fair to Tsvangirai, nor does Mugabe. Ever since Zanu PF was forced to dump its
“socialist thrust” back in 1990 in favour of the IMF and World Bank’s Economic
Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) the party has had no economic programme
of its own.
What then, may I ask, would Mugabe and Tsvangirai talk about in the
proposed public debate on the economy? American presidential election-style, I
suppose. It would be the proverbial pot calling the kettle black — in this case
one ignoramus empty vessel calling the other an ignoramus empty vessel! That
would be hilariously comical if only the economic situation were not so
desperate and in urgent need of a solution.
The MDC would best be advised to adopt whatever revision of the Esap the
IMF/World Bank has to offer.
Why should the latest revision of Esap deliver the long-awaited economic
recovery when all the earlier revisions have failed to do so, the reader might
well ask? The programmes failed not because they were unworkable. They failed
because the level and extent of mismanagement and corruption in Zimbabwe are
such that no economic programme, it does not matter how sound and well-funded it
might be, could possibly sustain such prodigal waste of material and human
Even the national jewels like Zesa are openly and unashamedly being sold
for a song. All the honest would-be investors would not touch Zimbabwe with a
ten-metre pole. Those left behind are the vultures who thrive on the suffering
and misery of the masses.
Of course it is important that we should get our economic policies right.
But until we correct our perverted political system that spawn-ed, nurtured and
sustains the mismanagement and corruption nothing can be achieved. Zimbabwe is
like a man with a shattered leg; good economic policies are comparable to giving
the man painkillers.
To save the man’s life however one must attend to the leg or the man will
bleed to death and/or gangrene will set in.
The fact that Tsvangirai has said little about his political programme is
itself a measure of his lack of political vision or because he intends to use
the system for his own personal gain. To understand how Tsvangirai can easily
become another Mugabe we must understand why Mugabe became an oppressive
dictator when he could have become the beloved founding father of the nation.
No mortal being, particularly shallow men and women, should ever be allowed
to exercise absolute power because it makes them big-headed and dangerous. The
greater the power and the longer the shallow man or woman is given to exercise
it the greater the misery and suffering they will inflict. Zimbabwe was to
suffer one such fate.
Mugabe lacked the brain, vision and staying power of such men as Mahatma
Gandhi, Martin Luther King or nearer to home, Nelson Mandela, to be a leader.
The only thing Mugabe cared about was to gain and retain absolute political
power — at all costs — including life itself. Indeed, he considered murder to be
his most effective weapon.
During his 20 years in power tens of thousands of Zimbabweans were
sacrificed on his political altar. Political intimidation and violence are
without doubt the most enduring hallmarks of Mugabe’s dictatorship.
Shallow men are their own worst enemy. In their vain effort to bolster
their low intellectual standing they stifle debate and then surround themselves
with acolytes and flatterers. They feel threatened by anyone of above-average
intellect. Unless the latter show themselves to be men or women of no
principles, Jonathan Moyo being one such man.
To ensure all social, economic and political power is in their hands,
dictators appoint acolytes and flatterers to every facet of human activity. (The
important democratic institution like the police, the public media are
compromised and end up serving the dictator’s interest above those of the
people.) Because merit is not important the political appointees are notoriously
incompetent and corrupt. The dictator’s political appointees inturn appoint
their own cronies, building up layer upon layer of mismanagement and corruption.
“I don’t know who could have managed this economy better than I did,”
Mugabe said recently. Even at this the eleventh hour with the national economy
in ruins, still Mugabe cannot see the evil of his one-man dictatorship. It just
shows how arrogant, big-headed and dangerous a shallow man can be.
Tsvangirai’s greatest challenge is to prove to the people of Zimbabwe that
he will not become the next dictator. “Politicians are all the same
(self-serving)” is the most common accusation Zimbabweans level against all
The MDC could have won the June 2000 election, even if Zanu PF had
increased its political intimidation five- ten- or twenty-fold, if only they had
shown that once in power they too would not become oppressive, incompetent and
corrupt like Zanu PF. The same can be said of any opposition party who contested
the parliamentary election from 1990 onwards.
The MDC has never showed it will not be as oppressive, incompetent or
corrupt as Zanu PF. Judging from the lack of vision in its leadership, there is
every sign they will be no different. The good showing by the MDC in the last
election should not be seen as a sign that Zimbabweans see them as quality. The
people have looked down the abyss Mugabe has led them to and they are desperate
President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia is one example of someone elected on
an anti-autocrat (Kaunda) ticket. He himself had no vision, no common sense,
nothing and we all know what an oppressive, incompetent and corrupt dictator he
has turned out to be. The independent press, particularly the Zambia Post, was
the first to know freedom of expression meant nothing to Chiluba. He never
promised to reform the large public media or any of the other perverted
institutions; they are now his poodles and he loves them all.
History is a tough taskmaster; those who do not learn from their past
mistakes or those of others will repeat the same nasty experiences ad infinitum.
Zimbabwe has paid a very high price for the 20 years of Mugabe’s
dictatorship, never again must the country be ruled by an autocrat. And to do
that, the people must win back their right to life, to free and fair democratic
elections, their freedom of expression and restore the independence of the
police and other democratic institutions. A tall order, however but there is
There are a few competent individuals in the MDC today and the public’s
insisting on quality and accountable leadership will strengthen the voice of
reason and encourage all to do better. Make no mistake about it, the competent
few will need all the help they can get, particularly when the acolyte rats
abandon the sinking Zanu PF ship. They will fight hard to keep the status quo.
So be on your guard Zimbabwe; your buzz word is “quality and accountable
leadership” and keep your eyes on the ball!
l Mukori is a human rights activist now based in the UK.
Forward Maisokwadzo A $3 billion dollar scheme by South Africa,
Zimbabwe and Mozambique to create a huge transfrontier park straddling their
borders hangs in the balance amid talk that other partners in the project were
worried by political unrest and the land upheaval in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe
Independent has established.
The Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou (GKG) Transfrontier Park, criticised by
conservationists who warn that it could become a poachers’ paradise, seems to
have been scuttled by the breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe and the
unabated land invasions by war veterans, two months after its signing in South
Players in the industry have raised concerns that with Zimbabwe’s
ex-combatants continuously invading farms and resort areas like the Save
Conservancy despite calls by conservationists for a halt, there is no assurance
that the new regional game park will not fall prey to politics and poachers.
The country is experiencing foreign currency shortages due to the dismal
performance of the export sector and dwindling receipts from the tourism
industry. Mining has also been hit.
Sources told the Independent that partners in the project wanted guarantees
from the Zimbabwe government that excombatants would not invade the park from
the Zimbabwean side.
“There must be assurances that the land-grabbers will not target the giant
new African game park,” said a source close to the discussions.
Harare - The Zimbabwean government on
Thursday continued its onslaught on the country's judiciary, as Acting President
Simon Muzenda accused white judges of favouring their white compatriots over
majority blacks. Muzenda - one of Zimbabwe's vice-presidents - warned white
judges at a by-election rally in Bikita West against continuing with their
policy of "haunting blacks and favouring whites". Muzenda is acting for
President Robert Mugabe, who is on holiday with his family in Malaysia. He said
white judges should no longer expect the government to stand by while they
passed judgements which disadvantaged blacks. He did not say what action the
government would take against the judges.
He was referring to the judgements which
the Zimbabwean government had lost in the high and supreme courts against its
arbitrary seizures of white land for redistribution among landless black
peasants. The government has lost virtually all cases against its land seizures
which have been brought before the higher courts. The Supreme Court has rejected
the government's land resettlement programme as unlawful and given it six months
to come up with a workable land redistribution exercise.
Muzenda joined Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who
has already said the government now regretted having appointed white judges. He
has since appointed four new High Court judges, all with strong connections to
the ruling party. Muzenda said it was saddening that the same white judges who
passed judgements against black majority rule before Zimbabwe's independence in
1980 continued to "haunt black Zimbabweans". Earlier this week, the judge
president of the High Court, Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, joined politicians in
attacking the Supreme Court, provoking a judicial crisis. Three white and two
black judges sit on the Supreme Court Bench. Chidyausiku has been roundly
condemned by the legal fraternity for undermining the widely hailed independence
of the judiciary.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 12
MDC turns to terror in Zimbabwe
Nyika - The people of a mountainous area of
southern Zimbabwe are being terrorised in a by-election campaign, with
supporters and opponents of President Mugabe both resorting to organised
violence. The battle to win Bikita West tomorrow has seen a repeat of the brutal
onslaught mounted by Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party against the opposition MDC before
last year's parliamentary elections. But, after hundreds of assaults, the MDC
has been drawn into the cycle of retaliation and revenge.
Against all odds, the MDC last year
captured Bikita West, in Mr Mugabe's rural stronghold, by just 281 votes. After
the death of the sitting MP, Zanu-PF renewed its violence in an effort to retake
the constituency. Operating from four base camps and using 26 vehicles, Zanu-PF
shock troops fanned out across the area last month and imposed a reign of
terror. Hundreds were injured, including three MDC officials driving to the town
of Nyika, who were ambushed last Saturday by a mob hurling petrol bombs.
According to the MDC, the man who threw the first bomb was Zanu-PF's most
notorious MP, Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, prime mover behind the occupation of
white-owned farms. He leads hundreds of thugs, mainly unemployed youths and
veterans of the guerrilla war against white rule, in an effort to secure victory
for Claudius Makova, the Zanu-PF candidate.
Bonnie Pakai, the MDC candidate, has been
forced to move his wife and two children, and is sheltering 80 victims of
Zanu-PF violence at his home. John Nyika, his campaign manager, was abducted by
a gang led by Mr Hunzvi during a raid on the house yesterday. Since the MDC
retaliated, local people fear becoming trapped between the violence of both
sides. Police have charged seven MDC youths with the murder of Bernard Gara, a
Zanu-PF member, who was stabbed to death last week.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, said:
"What the MDC is doing is not to meet force with force, but to defend our
members. We are not hunting down Zanu-PF people the way they do to our people."
At the start of an MDC rally in Nyika on Sunday, activists chanted hondo (war).
But Mr Tsvangirai's tone was conciliatory. He urged the crowd not to submit to
terror "no matter how hard they beat you". His audience consisted mainly of MDC
supporters transported from the capital, Harare. Local people gathered in
silence at a safe distance.
A stone's throw away, the rural district council office
has been turned into the main base for Mr Hunzvi's troops. Wearing paramilitary
clothing, he lounged at the entrance, hurling abuse at any white face. Two hours
earlier, he and 12 followers had ambushed five MDC activists. Two MDC activists,
their heads bandaged, described how they were set upon by a dozen men with
clubs. Godfrey Koster said: "I was punched to the ground. Then they hit me on
the head with an iron bar. I saw Hunzvi. He was the commander of the whole
incident." He said Mr Hunzvi was encouraging his assailant. "Hunzvi shouted at
him, 'Don't beat him like you are beating your brother. Kill him, torture him'."
As Mr Koster fled into the darkness during the confusion, he heard the cries of
other MDC activists being tortured.
From The Daily News, 11
Kadoma - The police unleashed brutal force yesterday to quell
peaceful demonstrations that turned violent in Kadoma yesterday. The riots were
sparked off by residents protesting against a 152 percent increase in rates in
the agricultural and mining town, 141km south-west of Harare. The riots resulted
in closure of businesses in the town. The police, with reinforcements from
Chegutu and the Police Support Unit, sealed off roads from the suburbs of Ngezi,
Waverley, Rimuka and Rio Tinto, leading to the town centre. Some residents,
somehow, found their way into town, but they were quickly dispersed by the riot
police, who set dogs on them, fired teargas and assaulted them.
A group of five overzealous policemen beat up a colleague in
plainclothes at Msasa Filling Station in town, unaware that he was one of them.
They only stopped after he produced his official identity card. The police
patrolled the city's suburbs dispersing any groups on sight and the residents
reacted by barricading the roads with rocks and dustbins. The police forced
people from their homes and the streets to remove the barricades. In Waverley
suburb, nine policemen in a Santana, registration number ZRP160R, accompanied by
another 10 officers in a Mazda B1600 from Chegutu (ZRP137M), forced a group of
about 20 residents, including women and children, to remove barricades from
Bhonda Road, and assaulted them whenever they stopped to rest. One man slipped
and fell as eight policemen descended on him. Another group was forced to crawl
on the tarmac for moving slower than the police officers' brisk pace. They would
also be beaten up. In Rimuka, policemen in a Santana (ZRP186D) forced people out
of their homes and passers-by and commandeered them to remove rubbish blocking
Efforts to get comment from the police failed yesterday after the deputy
officer commanding the district, identified only as Superintendent Kapare,
referred questions to the Mashonaland West province headquarters in Chinhoyi or
police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena. Inspector Ernest
Muchenjekwa, of Mashonaland West, said the police had used reasonable force
"because when people barricade roads, that does not show displeasure with rate
increases". He said 22 people were arrested and would be charged with inciting
public disorder. They were expected to appear in court today. Muchenjekwa said
the police reacted after the residents barricaded roads, including the highway
linking Kadoma to Harare and Bulawayo. He confirmed that "a large number" of
riot police was deployed. He said: "The deployment paid dividends because there
were no nasty incidents."…
From CNN, 11 January
Congolese government masses soldiers to retake key
Kinshasa - Government troops have massed in
both northern and southern DRC in preparation for assaults to recapture towns
captured last year, officials said Thursday. In northern Congo, an unknown
number of soldiers have gathered to take the town of Befale, which was captured
by rebels in late December, according to a UN official who spoke on condition of
anonymity. Befale is about 180 miles (290 kilometers) northeast of Mbandaka, the
regional capital. The official, speaking by satellite telephone from the
government-held town of Buende, some 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Befale,
said gunfire had been heard repeatedly in the area in recent days, and some
fighting was apparently already under way. The official provided no other
Allies of President Laurent Kabila,
meanwhile, were reinforcing their forces in southern Congo, with the aim of
recapturing the strategic town of Pweto, officials and witnesses said on
condition of anonymity. Cargo planes ferrying in soldiers have arrived daily
from neighboring Angola over the past two weeks, witnesses said at the airport
in the southern city of Lubumbashi. An estimated 8,000 Angolan and 1,000
Zimbabwean soldiers have arrived in Lubumbashi since Pweto was captured by
rebels last month. Pweto, a town along Lake Mweru on the Zambian border, was
captured by the Rwandan army and their Congolese rebel allies, forcing about
6,000 Congolese soldiers to flee into Zambia. Kabila promised a counteroffensive
in late December.
Army officials say the front line is around the town of
Dubie, some 210 miles (340 kilometers) from Lubumbashi. But a rebel spokesman
claimed that rebel troops are now less than 180 miles (290 kilometers) from
Lubumbashi. Speaking from Brussels, rebel spokesman Kin-Key Mulumba said rebels
have captured the town of Kilwa, some 160 miles (260 kilometers) north of
Lubumbashi. "If Kabila attacks us, we will not stay passive," he added.
Apparently fearing an assault, the Congolese have reinforced security in
Lubumbashi. Katanga province Deputy Governor Jacques Muyumba has displayed
numerous newly acquired weapons on state television, saying they will be
distributed to locals "to fight rebel infiltrations in the town." The fighting
in Congo began in August 1998 when rebel forces backed by Kabila's former
allies, Rwanda and Uganda, turned on him. Kabila is supported by Angola, Namibia
From The Star (SA), 11
Congo says Burundian army, rebels to
Kinshasa - Burundi's government and one of its two main ethnic
Hutu rebel groups have agreed to withdraw their troops from the DRC, the
Congolese foreign minister said on Wednesday. Leonard She Okitundu told
diplomats that officials from the two countries were meeting in Nairobi to
discuss the withdrawal after agreeing in principle at a landmark meeting between
warring sides in Burundi's seven-year civil war. Regional peace efforts saw
Burundian President Pierre Buyoya meet the head of one of two main ethnic Hutu
rebel movements for the first time on Tuesday in the Gabonese capital,
Libreville. The meeting with rebel CNDD-FDD leader Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye
was also attended by Congolese President Laurent Kabila, who accuses Burundi of
backing rebels fighting to overthrow him in Congo's own civil war.
Burundi's rebels, especially CNDD-FDD, are heavily involved in
the war in Congo, fighting alongside Kabila's forces against Ugandan, Rwandan
and Burundian government soldiers. "The Congolese and Burundian defence
ministers are meeting today in Nairobi to study the practicalities of
withdrawing Burundian troops and armed CNDD-FDD elements who may be based in
Congolese territory," said Okitundu. "This diplomatic step forward will surely
have a positive impact on the resolution of the crisis in the DRC," he said.
The CNDD-FDD and FNL rebel groups rejected a deal signed by Burundian
politicians in Arusha, Tanzania, last August to try to end Burundi's war with
the largely Tutsi government and army. More than 200 000 people, most of them
civilians, have been killed in the tiny central African nation of Burundi since
1993, when civil war broke out after soldiers from the Tutsi minority killed the
first democratically elected Hutu president. President Buyoya is a Tutsi who
took power in a 1996 coup. The peace deal signed in Arusha is supposed to pave
the way for Burundi's return to democracy. It calls for a transitional
government to be set up within six months, elections in three years and for the
army to be split evenly on ethnic lines. But CNDD-FDD and FNL said they were not
consulted during the two-year negotiating process. The FNL said last month it
was stepping up its struggle because of government attacks on its positions. The
ethnic composition in Burundi mirrors that in neighbouring Rwanda, where more
than 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu extremists in a