Mugabe Must Mend His Ways
The Nation (Nairobi)
January 12, 2002
With all the goings on over the past year or so, Zimbabwe, once seen as
one of the most promising countries in Africa, appears to be on the brink.
With President Robert Mugabe, already two decades in office, facing crucial
elections in March, he appears to be pulling out all stops to ensure that he
remains in office by hook or by crook.
The populist, but damaging, seizure of white-owned farms by vigilantes
claiming to be independence war veterans ahead of the last Parliamentary
elections, served to isolate the country from the community of civilised
As if that was not enough, President Mugabe's Government is now pushing
through a series of legislative measures which appear expressly designed to turn
back the clock to an era of repressive state machinery - the very kind of laws
which provoked the war of independence!
Such laws may well help President Mugabe neutralise the Opposition and
ensure his re-election.
The Government proposes to curtail rights to freedom of assembly and
association, criminalise criticism of the president, shackle the independent
media, stifle trade union and bar independent monitoring of the election
With a well entrenched Parliamentary majority the Government will have its
But it is a sad day when the constitutionalism and the rule of law is
subverted to serve the aims of a political system desperate to cling on to
Even more frightening is when the armed forces of a country are primed to
come out in open support of a ruling party.
The message is that armed forces would refuse to recognise the will of the
people Zimbabwean people were President Mugabe to be voted out of office.
With all the mechanisms being out in place ahead of the elections,
President Mugabe may well be re-elected without too much trouble.
But, in his twilight years, he will be presiding over a country in which a
once vibrant economy has been systematically destroyed and one facing further
Already Zimbabwe is facing the threat of expulsion from the Commonwealth
and economic sanctions from the European Union. A set of sanctions form the
United States are already in place.
President Mugabe will be doing himself, and the people of Zimbabwe, the
greatest disservice if he does not mend his ways.
Saturday, 12 January, 2002, 20:18 GMT
Mugabe renews attack on Britain
Mugabe hopes to find regional backing in
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has renewed his attack
said Britain, saying that the UK was at war with his country.
He was speaking in Malawi, where he has arrived for a regional conference at
which he hopes to rally support in the run-up to elections in March.
The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) says that another 23 landowners have been
forced from their homes in the past week, as a new campaign against white-owned
Zimbabwe is under pressure from the European Union and
the Commonwealth, as well as the United States, to reverse draconic media and
security laws and ensure free and fair elections.
Sanctions or no sanctions, Zimbabwe will
Mr Mugabe will attend a summit meeting of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) in the Malawian capital Blantyre on Monday.
On his arrival, he said: "Britain has a war with us, [Prime Minister Tony]
Blair want his own version of colonialism in Zimbabwe and we will resist that."
On Friday the European Union gave Harare a week to accept foreign media and
But the government said it would allow international
observers to witness the elections but not to monitor them.
Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai welcomed
Speaking after a day of intense talks with representatives of the European
Union, Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stanislav Mudenge said he would issue
invitations to observers shortly.
But opposition candidate for president, Morgan Tsvangirai, said President
Mugabe could not afford to reject the monitors.
"He has no option but to allow an international assessment of the election to
give it legitimacy. He needs that legitimacy."
Farm attacks reported
The looting of white-owned farms reported by the CFU took place mainly around
Raffingora, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north-east of Harare.
One farmer was given five minutes to leave his property, said Jenni Williams,
a CFU spokesperson.
She said that militants had told farmers that they were responsible for
sanctions imposed by the United States and threatened by the EU.
Opposition politicians say that the ruling Zanu-PF party has a training camp
in the Raffingora area, where it drills unemployed youths into a militia force.
EU foreign ministers are due to review progress in Zimbabwe at their next
meeting in Brussels in late January, but there has been no mention of the action
that might be taken if Harare fails to provide a satisfactory response to
concerns about the elections.
Further criticism of Zimbabwe has come from the United States, which said the
authorities were trying to intimidate opposition supporters.
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said five
opposition supporters had been killed in the past two weeks, and there was
little prospect of the murders being investigated.
Mr Mugabe has weathered criticism
And South Africa described as unacceptable an army statement indicating it
would not accept an election victory by the opposition.
The Zimbabwean parliament has just approved new legislation banning
independent monitors, and is expected next week to push through a bill on
control of the media.
UK asylum rejects 'facing torture in Zimbabwe'
Home Secretary David Blunkett is being urged to take urgent action over
claims that Zimbabwean asylum seekers deported by Britain face torture or
Asylum seekers with links to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
have been arrested or attacked on their return to Zimbabwe, The Observer
Others have disappeared or gone into hiding while President Mugabe's police
search for them.
Nick Hardwick, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "The Home
Office instinctively wants to keep people out.
"There is a real possibility that people's lives are at risk now. The Home
Office needs to take immediate and urgent action."
Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin called for an all-party crisis meeting
to discuss the issue and for an immediate suspension of deportations until the
situation in Zimbabwe was clear.
He said: "The situation has gone from the ridiculous to the sublimely
"The whole purpose of our asylum system is to protect people in this
position. It is a massive bureaucratic muddle."
The newspaper said it had also uncovered evidence that many Zimbabwean
asylum seekers are being automatically refused asylum and denied access to
proper legal representation.
There is evidence that officers working for President Mugabe's Central
Intelligence Organisation have infiltrated detention centres in Britain where
Zimbabwean asylum seekers are held.
Looting Reported On Zimbabwe Farms
Saturday January 12, 2002 10:10 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Government-backed militants embarked on a fresh
looting campaign of white-owned farms last week, forcing 23 landowners from
their homes, a farmers' organization said Saturday.
One farmer was given five minutes to vacate his property while another had
to barricade himself inside his house, said Jenni Williams, a spokeswoman for
the Commercial Farmers' Union.
Most of the reported incidents were in the Raffingora area, about 62 miles
northeast of the capital, Harare, not far from a camp where opposition
politicians say the ruling party is training unemployed youths as militia.
In one attack, a group of militants - including a police officer - stole
900 bags of corn and slaughtered five cattle, Williams said.
The victims of the latest round of attacks asked not to be named, saying
they feared further violence. Police were unavailable for comment.
Militants have invaded hundreds of white-owned farms since early 2000 with
the tacit support of President Robert Mugabe, who called their actions a
justified response to the legacy of inequitable land ownership left by colonial
Most of Zimbabwe's commercial farmland is owned by whites who make up less
than half a percent of the population.
Human rights groups and opposition parties say Mugabe is using the land
issue as a smoke screen to bolster his support and crush dissent ahead of March
Polls indicate Mugabe is in danger of losing power, but the possibility of
free elections is considered remote.
Western governments have condemned the violence. America has imposed
sanctions, and the European Union has threatened to do the same.
Leaders from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community will
discuss Zimbabwe at a special one-day summit in Malawi on Monday.
Ministers attending a preparatory meeting Saturday indicated that Zimbabwe
had the support of the regional trading bloc, currently chaired by Malawi.
``Positive signs'' were coming out of Zimbabwe, and the trade group was
optimistic the political crisis could be resolved through negotiation, said
Lilian Patel, Malawi's foreign minister. ``We will therefore not support any
form of sanctions that may be prescribed on Zimbabwe.''
Addressing journalists shortly after arriving in Malawi, Mugabe accused
Britain of trying to re-colonize his country and attempting to persuade the
European Union to impose sanctions.
``It's just Britain - Britain is at war with us,'' Mugabe said. British
Prime Minister Tony Blair ``has his own version of colonialism, and we will
resist that, I can assure you.''
I agree with Tutu: Zimbabwe's leaders have gone
Our correspondent Basildon Peta watches as President Mugabe silences
13 January 2002
Having taken a well-deserved break outside
Zimbabwe, I felt I was back in the lion's den as soon as I returned last week –
a week in which my country of 13 million people finally lurched into
As the correspondent of The Independent on Sunday and head of Zimbabwe's
journalists' union, I was closely involved as President Robert Mugabe pushed
through authoritarian laws that will make him virtually untouchable. With the
army threatening a coup if Mr Mugabe loses the presidential election in March, I
was not the only one wondering whether there will be any point in having
The headlines last Sunday were all about increasing political violence.
Friends who started calling me as soon as I arrived had mixed feelings. Some
were saying I should have stayed away for my own safety. Others felt I should
never have gone away at a time when the abominable Access to Information Bill,
which will kill independent journalism, was being debated. As someone who has
always believed that I should stay in Zimbabwe and remain part of the fight
against Mr Mugabe's repression, I had to agree with the latter group.
On Monday I was busy returning a long list of messages from professional
colleagues who had tried to get me while I was away. They all wanted to know
what I, as leader of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), was going to do to
fight the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill. I had tried to
convince MPs it would destroy Zimbabwe's nascent democracy, and, though there
was little chance of success, I felt this was an effort worth pursuing.
I started out to contact as many MPs of the ruling Zanu PF as possible. The
opposition was already on our side. We needed to persuade at least 20
ruling-party MPs to join the 57 from the opposition and block the passage of the
Bill. But by the time I spoke to the fourth government MP, it was clear that I
was hitting a brick wall.
"Look, my friend, we do disagree with this Bill, but we have to vote for
it, because that's the decision of the party and that is the instruction from
the President," one MP told me. Another said: "You know what will happen if I
vote against a law formulated by the ruling party. Don't ask me to do the
The same afternoon I went to cover political violence in Bindura. Hundreds
of ruling Zanu PF youth militias had sealed off three towns – Chinhoyi, Karoi
and Bindura – in escalating trouble ahead of the March election. Hundreds of
residents had fled from ruling party militias who mounted illegal roadblocks and
demanded that people produce Zanu PF cards.
On Tuesday I sat silently in the press gallery of Parliament, watching MPs
unconstitutionally suspend standing rules and procedures to fast- track the
passage of the draconian Bills. I was there the next day, when Parliament passed
the draconian Public Order and Security Bill (POSB), which makes any criticism
of Mr Mugabe a criminal offence, and the General Laws Amendment Act, which bans
private voter education and foreign election monitors.
A colleague who joined me in the gallery said he had just attended a press
conference at which army generals threatened to stage a coup if President Mugabe
was voted out of power. At first I thought he was joking, but it was in the
headlines the same afternoon in the form of a statement from the commander of
the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Vitalis Zvinavashe.
At this stage I lost all hope for a democratic election in March. Even when
the Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa, announced the adjournment of
Parliament without passing the media law, I felt no sense of relief. The media
law will simply be passed on Tuesday this week, when Parliament
The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy bill will prescribe
hefty jail terms and fines for journalists writing stories that spread "alarm,
fear and despondency". It puts all journalists on a system of one-year renewable
licences, and bans foreign journalists from working in Zimbabwe. The media will
be forbidden to write about cabinet meetings or about information held by
government departments without the authority of the heads of those departments,
among many other undemocratic provisions.
Since Wednesday I have discussed with colleagues what to do after the Bill
is passed. We agreed on defiance of the media law and issued a statement to that
effect. Many of the calls I have received since then have been to tell me that
my days, and those of my other outspoken colleagues, are now virtually
As I ponder the hopeless future of my country, I can't help but agree with
the Nobel prize laureate, Desmond Tutu, that the Zimbabwean political leadership
has gone "bonkers in a big way".
In this mail:
- SADC's Challenge to Defeat Autocracy
Darkness before light - have courage people of Zimbabwe
- Zanu PF cannot
ignore the will of the people and use the army to enforce its objectives
Yesterday in Parliament - Trudy Stevenson, MP
- As violence intensifies, MDC
Women launch major prayer gatherings
SADC's Challenge to Defeat Autocracy
... and build one
of the most powerful, proud regions in the world
12 January 2002
solidarity is a noble cause that should not be abused to give comfort to
vestiges of past autocracy that has constituted the bane of Africa's chequered
There is a rapidly developing catastrophe in Zimbabwe.
We call on
the leaders of the Southern African Development Community who are meeting in
Blantyre, Malawi from January 13 to 15 to decide now, and fast, to support the
efforts of the Zimbabwean people to experience peaceful, democratic
The massive restrictions already in place - curbs on the media,
freedom of expression, on election registration and the voters roll, the
capacity of opposition parties to raise money and other measures already ensure
the elections cannot be free and fair - but we support the right of our people
to continue pressing for a democratic process to take place. A dream all freedom
loving peoples of the world share.
We believe that SADC has the authority to
warn the Zimbabwean government of the very serious consequences of violence,
election rigging and other undemocratic forms of interfering with the electoral
process. Even at this late hour we insist that:
* Election observers and
monitors from the SADC region and the Commonwealth should be immediately
deployed and be guaranteed safe access to all part of Zimbabwe. This will have
the effect of partially rolling back state violence and establishing minimum
conditions on the ground that are conducive to the expression of free democratic
political opinion and choice.
* We condemn the bulldozing through parliament
of new repressive and unconstitutional legislation including the General Laws
Amendment Bill and the right to unconstitutionally reintroduce amendments to the
Electoral Act which if passed will disenfranchise thousands of Zimbabweans (and
despite being initially defeated in the Zimbabwean parliament this week -
normally a defeated bill must be amended and wait six months before being
represented. To enable this ZanuPF suspended parliamentary procedures at
Thursday's (10 January) session of parliament, an unconstitutional act). The
Public Order and Security Bill was passed which severely restricts and
ultimately outlaws democratic political activity, among other measures it
outlaws criticism of the president as well as insurgency, banditry, sabotage and
terrorism" which carry the death penalty and those who "undermine the authority
of the president or engender hostility" toward him face hefty fines or
Waiting in the wings is the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Bill which will muzzle freedom of expression.
Zimbabweans have remained very patient and committed to peace over the past
two years. They have been tortured, brutalized, murdered, raped and generally
dehumanised. Four of our members were murdered in December which brings to more
than 100, the MDC casualties to political violence since February 2000.
patience of the civilian population has worn out. We fear that this dangerous
situation could degenerate into civil war - a consequence of tyranny that has to
We hope that history will not record that SADC fiddled while
Zimbabwe burned. If SADC does not take decisive action now then the Zimbabwe
crisis is certain to engulf the whole region.
Liberation means permanent
freedom - liberation struggles do not end at post independence elections, the
quest for liberation and the entrenchment of true democracy is a daily challenge
to us in southern Africa and around the world. We can make this one of the
proudest, strongest regions of the world - we have the people, we have the
resources - let's get to work to change our future from gloom to one of optimism
Darkness before light - have courage people of
...call to the Southern African and international community
to reject Zimbabwean measures against democracy ,
and to the Zimbabwean
armed forces to maintain professional integrity - to serve the people, not a
Zimbabwe is entering a dark night, but, we say to the people
of Zimbabwe: sometimes the hours of greatest darkness come before the light.
Zimbabweans are under siege. The government is creating a climate of terror
and hardship. I call upon all patriots to refuse to be cowed into submission by
tyranny and a dictator whose time has come.
Yesterday the military and
security chiefs said they would only support those who fought in liberation wars
against white rule. Zimbabwe defence forces commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe
said in a statement that I, Morgan Tsvangirai, am a traitor and he "would not
accept, let alone support or salute anyone with a different agenda that
threatens the very existence of our sovereignty, our country and our
The statement from the military is a confirmation of an MDC victory.
Those draconian measures being imposed by the present regime would not be
necessary if they believed they had the confidence and the support of the people
The international community must realise that the beast they are
dealing with has pulled his last card. The implications are that the army has
undermined its integrity - armies and the police are not the vehicles of
political parties they are there to serve the people.
Over the last month the
Zimbabwean government has made it clear that they do not respect the democratic
right of the Zimbabwean people to choose who they wish to govern them.
December, Foreign Minister, Stan Mudenge told SADC that "might is right". Later
that month President Robert Mugabe told the ZanuPF congress that he saw the
elections as "a war." He also said in a statement reminiscent of Ian Smith's UDI
vow (that never in a thousand years would black rule come to Zimbabwe) that
"never, ever would the MDC nor I, Morgan Tsvangirai govern
Yesterday's statement by the military reaffirms that this culture
of anti-democracy is beginning to form a powerful thread through Zimbabwean
politics. The world and the Southern African Development Community have shown
that they will no longer tolerate anti-democratic tendencies in southern Africa
or indeed, anywhere in the world.
The armed forces are composed of our
brothers, our friends, our fathers. We, in the MDC do not believe that they will
act unjustly against their families and friends. We seek no confrontation with
the armed forces - we know they will display professional integrity and serve
the people of Zimbabwe and not a political party.
We speak for those without
voice in Zimbabwe - the electorate, the working people, the patriots of Zimbabwe
I say to you, the people of Zimbabwe and the world, be confident that
despite these obstacles we will proceed. There is no force in the world that can
stop change in a society where people are determined to reclaim their
The people of Zimbabwe are tired of being used as punch bags all they
are interested in is a peaceful life, a nation they can be proud of - and such a
nation in turn will attract the investment and tourism that will create jobs and
opportunity for our people.
The people of Zimbabwe will not be denied the
right to claim their dream of power through a political and democratic process.
*Mhuri Ye Zimbabwe Yave Nguva Yekuzvipira
Simba Reshanduko Rirmumaoko
* The time has come for everyone to be determined to achieve change - the
power is in your hands
10 January 2002
Zanu PF cannot ignore the will of the people and use
the army to enforce its objectives.
We in the Movement for Democratic Change
believe that for an army lawfully constituted in terms of the constitution of
Zimbabwe to consider overthrowing that constitution by refusing to accept the
verdict of the people as to who should be their president(a right, which is
exclusively vested in the people of Zimbabwe) is not only dangerous, but is by
all intents and purposes a treasonous act.
The MDC unreservedly condemns this
calculated act meant to discourage the people from voting in terms of their
The statement issued yesterday by General Vitalis Zvinavashe is a
sign of panic by Zanu PF and exposes once again Mugabe's contempt for the
democratic process and the Zimbabwe constitution. This is a desperate attempt at
intimidation by an increasingly desperate and despotic regime.
remains firm in its view that the majority in those who serve in Zimbabwe's army
are professional individuals who would not support political moves to turn their
guns on their own people in the event of Morgan Tsvangirai winning power in the
Zanu PF cannot ignore the will of the people and use
the army to enforce its objectives.
The statement correctly refers to the
sacrifices made by many of us in Zimbabwe to rid this country of the injustices
of white minority rule. To deny the people of Zimbabwe their hard earned
democratic right of electing new leaders via the ballot box would be an
injustice to those who fought and died in the liberation war.
We urge the
people of Zimbabwe to remain resolute and to assert their sovereignty and power
to elect a government of their choice. And we further urge the international
community, and SADC countries in particular, to unequivocally condemn the
statement issued by Zvinavashe and the crude threats by the Mugabe regime to
undermine the will of the people through armed force. The region can ill afford
a military dictatorship as Africa strives towards establishing good governance
across the continent.
It is time for the people of Zimbabwe to decide their
future not Mugabe and his supporters in the security forces.
MDC Secretary General
10 January 2001
Yesterday in Parliament
Yesterday Thursday 10 January 2002 marked the official death of democracy
in Zimbabwe. Yesterday saw the passage in Parliament of two draconian Bills, the
Public Order and Security Bill and the General Laws Amendment Bill - which
includes major amendments to the Electoral Act - so far-reaching that
is no possibility of a free and fair Presidential election unless we
can overturn these new Laws by some miracle. The noble and dedicated efforts
over the last 100 years of liberation struggle and various democratic
organisations are being thwarted by one of the very parties which armed itself
and fought a guerrilla war in the name of democracy.
Both Bills were forced through using the majority created by the provision
under the severely mutilated Constitution enabling the President to appoint 8
Governors and 12 Non-Constituency MPs (most of the Ministers, in the present
setup) plus indirectly 10 traditional Chiefs through the Council of Chiefs whose
president he appoints = 30 out of the 150 Members of Parliament. Were it not for
these 30 MPs, MDC would have had a majority at 47 for the General Laws and 49
for the POSB - ZanuPF's score was 62, which without the 30 appointed seats = 32
More serious than the score, however, is the fact that ZanuPF deliberately
packed the House to ensure that they won on these two draconian Bills both
vice-presidents were there! The POSB effectively bans meetings and rallies by
the opposition, bans criticism of the President, government, army and police,
forces everyone to carry an ID card at all times, allows arbitrary search and
seizure, and gives the
police Officer-In-Charge of every police district
tremendous power - s/he becomes the new local ruler, in fact. It creates a
Police State as severe as anything in history - Rhodesia, Nazi Germany,
Communist Soviet Union, China, Cambodia ... We fought against that Bill for 12
hours on Wednesday, from 4.00 pm until 4.00 am! Amendments to the Electoral Act
in the General Laws Amendment Bill effectively ban independent monitors and
international observers, ban civic organisations including churches from
carrying out voter education, and retain control of elections in the hands of
the President through his power to appoint the Electoral Supervisory
The General Laws Amendment Bill was thrown out of Parliament on Tuesday,
when MDC found itself in the majority even though the Leader of the House
Chinamasa (also Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) decided
unwisely to move for its Third Reading and adoption as soon as our
the Opposition Gibson Sibanda left for party HQ, having been assured by
Chinamasa that no further debate on the Bill would take place that afternoon. As
Hon Sibanda stated in the House, "He suddenly saw that it was dark, and decided
to use the darkness to carry out his plan." But the plan backfired: ZPF were in
a minority, and it was easy for MDC to refuse the Bill at its Third Reading -
normally a mere formality! So we celebrated our victory, but realised that they
would do everything and ride rough-shod over all rules and regulations to
reverse the negative vote, since their victory in the Presidential election
depends on these vital extra controls. Sure enough, later in the day ZPF brought
in 2 motions on the issue, the first simply to rescind the vote, the second
being the suspension of yet another Sanding Order to enable their parliamentary
victory to occur. In fact, Standing Order 44 enabling the House to rescind a
decision or vote is only in connection to motions, not Bills which are dealt
with under SO 127 - that no Bill can be brought to the House in which is similar
to a Bill which has already gone through the House in the same session.
When it was obvious that they would go to the vote and that we were in a
slight minority (49-62), there was nothing for it but to pray, for our
Parliament and our country. We prayed for divine intervention to help our
nation, and we believe that God heard our prayer. We believe that God will not
allow this evil to continue, and that all those who come to our nation's
assistance in any way are God's agents. We welcome you, and we ourselves will do
everything in our power to save our beloved Zimbabwe.
MDC Secretary for Policy and Research & MP Harare
As violence intensifies, MDC Women launch major prayer
and send an appeal to International Women Leaders
from Cherie Blair to Grace Machel
January 16 will be the day when the
Movement for Democratic Change Women's Assembly begins the first of nationwide
mass prayer services for peace.
At the same time they are launching a
personal letter appeal to some of the wives of political leaders in Africa and
internationally, and to women leaders in political organisations and womens'
movements to do what they can to ensure peace in Zimbabwe.
appeals will be sent to:
- Ms Zanelle Mbeki, the wife of South African
president, Thabo Mbeki;
- Ms Graca Machel wife of Nelson Mandela and a
- Mrs Cherie Blair, wife of UK premier, Tony Blair;
Bush wife of US president, George W Bush;
- Mrs Nujoma wife of Namibian
president, Sam Nujoma and others.
Lucia Matibenga, president of the MDC
Women's Assembly and first vice president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions, said: ""we are praying for peace and an end to the use of our children
to foment political violence. The ruling political party is breaking up family
values by training youth militia to attack and rob their parents and older
"In December four MDC members were murdered.
"No political slogans
or speeches will be allowed at these prayer meetings, they will be respectful
occasions where we pray for justice and peace.
"Without justice and peace we
will not get the jobs our citizens so desperately need. Prices are completely
unaffordable - the average Zimbabwean worker earns Z$5 000 a month (Z$500 =
US$1) before tax, and takes home around Z$3 000.
"We can no longer find
cooking oil, sugar, poultry or red meat, mealie meal, washing soap or
illuminating paraffin - which most of us use for cooking and light - in our
stores. Rice is not an option, as an example, 2kg of rice costs Z$800, that is a
third of the take home pay of most people, it is impossible. And ZanuPF thugs
have been attacking food aid workers so many people are starving. This cannot go
on, we need peace."
The first prayer meetings will take place between 1pm and
3pm in Harare and Chitungwiza.
The text of the letter to an African Woman
Leader follows (there are only marginal changes to those to women of other
Lucia Matibenga, Chairperson
Womens' Assembly: Movement for
8 January 2002
I write to you as one African sister
to another. I write to you as a woman who has fought for peace, who still fights
for peace, and who is committed to end the suffering of women and
As you know Zimbabwe is preparing for presidential elections.
But, instead of this being part of a celebration of 21 years of
independence, many of us feel betrayed by a liberation that has brought our
people increasing hardship and little freedom.
Our election process is marked
by increasing violence. And please understand we will not ask you to support our
political organisation, or any political organisation in Zimbabwe. We seek
support for peace.
Young boys have been trained by ZanuPF in camps such as
Border Gezi, and these militia have now come home to townships and rural areas
where they are beating and stealing us their parents. ZanuPF is destroying
African families and traditional African customs of respect. Conflict in
Zimbabwe not only hurts us, it hurts the region. These are injuries none can
afford. They are wounds we seek to avoid. May I present a few examples?
People throughout the country are experiencing political intimidation and
beatings. On 30 December last year, as an example, I was struck on the head with
a machete and beaten up by ZanuPF supporters while trying to canvass support in
- Women are being raped and abused. In Mberengwa West during
election campaigns a woman MDC supporter, was raped by ZANU-PF officials who
also used an iron rod to rape her. The woman's husband was forced to watch and
afterward he was killed in front of her. Their crime was signing MDC nomination
forms. This resulted in a trial where Judge Ben Hlatshwayo warned the woman if
it was found she was lying she would spend seven years in jail. The truth of her
testimony was proved.
- Houses, crops and kraals are being burnt. Evelyn
Masaiti, who is presently an MDC MP in the Eastern Highlands near the Mozambique
border, lived in her parents-in-law home with her husband and five children.
During last year's elections ZANU-PF supporters burnt her in-laws home and the
homes of 80 other MDC supporters in the area. For a period of more than four
months those 81 families shared a single tent, a single tap...
In addition to
overt acts of violence, government regulations were recently passed that
effectively disenfranchise married women, the unemployed, farm workers, those
sharing accommodation such as the rural or urban poor and young people who have
never voted before.
Fear is the invisible shawl every woman draws tight
around herself in Zimbabawe today. Women and children, as you know, are always
the victims of conflict. We humbly ask you to please use whatever means you have
to press for peaceful elections in Zimbabwe.
We are honoured that you took
the time to read this letter and hope you will consider our request to stand in
solidarity for peace with other women in southern Africa.
We have initiated
prayer meetings across Zimbabwe and we ask you to join our prayers for peace.
God Bless Africa. God Bless Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has said Britain will recommend Zimbabwe
is dropped from the Commonwealth if the political crisis there deteriorates
further. Sunder Katwala explains
Friday January 11, 2002
How has the crisis developed?
Britain has proposed active sanctions
against Zimbabwe for the first time at a crucial juncture in the run-up to
March's presidential elections. Critics believe that the new laws being pushed
through parliament by the government - which would allow full control of the
media and make all criticism of the government or president a public order
offence - would make a mockery of the democratic process.
strategy throughout the two-year crisis has been to blame the country's
collapsing economy on a sinister alliance of Britain, white farmers and assorted
"traitors" who are conspiring to reverse the country's independence and prevent
his tackling the historic injustices of Zimbabwe's highly unequal land
This strategy has had limited success, escalating Zimbabwe's economic
crisis while failing to silence an increasingly vocal opposition, the Movement
for Democratic Change, which denies the claims of conspiracy and blames the
country's plight on the mismanagement and corruption of the Mugabe government.
Why is the Commonwealth involved?
The Commonwealth, an organisation of
54 countries which arose out of the gradual dissolution of the British Empire,
prides itself on being one of very few international organisations which is
prepared to throw members out for violating democratic norms. Ironically, the
Commonwealth's values are contained in the Harare Declaration, agreed in the
Zimbabwean capital in 1991, which sets out democracy, fundamental human rights
and the rule of law as the basis of membership.
What can the Commonwealth do?
The Commonwealth has little practical or
financial leverage over Zimbabwe. Suspension, or expulsion, would be a largely
symbolic move, showing increasing international pressure on the Harare regime.
The message that the Zimbabwean government's actions were viewed as illegitimate
would make it more difficult for international institutions such as the World
Bank or International Monetary Fund, and for Zimbabwe to raise money on the
international money markets. Commonwealth action could also add to momentum for
increased pressure from the European union and the South African development
community, and from individual governments.
Does Mugabe care?
The Commonwealth's views are not Mugabe's highest
priority, and he will seek to use Commonwealth pressure as part of his strategy
of presenting opposition to his regime as a British-organised conspiracy against
Zimbabwean independence, claiming that all internal opposition is being paid for
and organised by the former colonial power.
That is why Jack Straw has stressed the importance of Britain being part of
an international coalition pressuring Zimbabwe. Britain and the European union
are hoping that other African governments will help to lead pressure on
Along with pressure from opposition and civil society groups within
Zimbabwe, the hope is that this will help to legitimise international action and
undercut Mugabe's charges of a "new colonialism". Zimbabwe claims that Britain
will not win support among other members to suspend it. African Commonwealth
members - especially South Africa and Nigeria, who were instrumental in winning
assurances of good behaviour from Zimbabwe last autumn - have more political and
economic leverage over Zimbabwe.
African countries have begun to shift away from seeking to achieve results
through behind-the-scenes diplomatic pressure. Zimbabwe's neighbours are deeply
concerned about both the knock-on economic effects of the Zimbabwe crisis, both
by directly damaging trade and by decreasing investors' confidence in the
President Thabo Mbeki's increasing criticism of Zimbabwe has led to
Zimbabwe's state-run newspapers calling the South African president "a traitor"
who is "in bed with the architects of apartheid", suggesting that Mugabe is
prepared to risk a clash with South Africa despite the potential economic costs
What will happen next?
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group will
meet at the end of January, with Zimbabwe top of the agenda. CMAG is an
eight-strong committee of Commonwealth foreign ministers charged with policing
violations of the Harare Declaration and making recommendations to the full
Commonwealth. CMAG was created after the Nigerian crisis in 1995 highlighted how
the Commonwealth's size made it very difficult for it to act quickly to protect
its values outside of the biennial heads of government summits.
To date, the Commonwealth has only suspended military regimes but CMAG has
proposed that it should be given terms of reference which enable it to act
earlier on major violations of democratic values, such as the freedom of the
media. If Zimbabwe's position does not change - with genuine pledges to restore
the rule of law and allow independent election monitors - then it is difficult
to see how the Commonwealth could retain any credibility without moving to
If CMAG does recommend suspension, that would formally be ratified at the
full meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in Brisbane in March. But, with
the Zimbabwean crisis escalating, the Commonwealth's ability to play a central
role looks limited.
* Sunder Katwala is the editor of observer.co.uk and author of
Reinventing the Commonwealth (The Foreign Policy Centre)
How Britain handed me back to Mugabe's men
Gerald Muketiwa, speaking from a secret location in South Africa, thought
he would be safe in Britain, but was returned into the hands of Zimbabwe's
"I am a member of the MDC. My whole family are members. We had a rally to
demonstrate against the farm invasions in my home town of Bulawayo. This was the
first time I knew that I was in trouble.
I was taken to the police station
and shown into a room where they said you want to sell our country to the white
man, and they also said we were trying to assassinate the President. They
started hitting me, beating me up and torturing me. They made me stand with my
feet in a bucket of ice. They wanted names of the people I knew who were also
MDC. But they couldn't get anything out of me. They put me back into a cell and
later released me.
My parents told me to move to a holiday home away from the city. I then
heard that - around the end of 2000 - some ZANU-PF men had come to the family
home and were asking for me. They stoned our family home. Soon afterwards, war
veterans came for my friend Godwin. They beat him very badly. He was in hospital
for weeks and then died from his injuries.
Around this time, my brother left for Canada and my cousins left too. My
mum, my stepfather and my youngest brother also left around this time. I don't
exactly know where they are. Maybe they are in Canada too. In the end it became
too much for me and I decided to leave for Britain.
I arrived in Britain last January. I claimed asylum straightaway. I would
really like to go to Canada to join my family but I hoped that I would be safe
here. I lived for a time in Wolverhampton.
It was OK until November, when I was told to report to an office at Gatwick
Airport. I asked if I was being returned to Zimbabwe, and I was told it was just
a routine interview.
But when I got there, I was told that 'our job is to return you. I am
detaining you'. I got into an argument and said that I didn't have any family in
Zimbabwe any more, because they had all gone to Canada. I was put in a detention
room and taken to Harmondsworth detention centre. I had with me only the clothes
I was standing in.
They tried to send me back on several occasions. I said I would not get
onto the plane to Zimbabwe and so they tried to force me to go. One time, my
trousers and clothes were torn and the cabin crew appealed to the captain, who
said he couldn't carry me. But finally, on the 17th of December, the British
guards managed to get me in to the plane before the passengers arrived. They
handcuffed me, dragged me into the place, put me in a choke-hold and pinned me
to the seat. When we arrived in Harare, they dragged me off to the Zimbabwe
authorities and left me there.
The CIO [the Zimbabwean intelligence service] people said "We've been
looking for you, Mr Muketiwa. You have sold out your country and you are going
to prison for a long time. What have you been saying in the UK?"
I had to get out of there. I just knew that I had to take my chance. This
was the CIO and these people are no joke. I asked to go to the toilet, and snuck
out of the window and ran away to the airfield, where somebody gave me a lift
Gerald later escaped from Zimbabwe, and spoke to The Observer from a secret
location in South Africa.
Mugabe trains 100,000 thugs to spread terror
By Brian Latham in Harare
UP to 100,000 Zimbabwean youths are being schooled in terror tactics at
bush training camps set up by supporters of President Robert Mugabe.
The youths are being used to unleash a wave of violence and intimidation
before the March presidential elections.
Gangs of youths are already roaming the country demanding to see the
Zanu-PF party membership cards of people they accost. Anyone not able to produce
a card is threatened with violence and even rape.
One frightened white woman, who refused to be named for fear of reprisals,
encountered such a gang yesterday 60 miles north of Harare, in Mutorashanga.
"I was stopped by a group of youths with crowbars," she said, "They
demanded to see a Zanu-PF membership card. When I said I hadn't got one, they
said they would come back next week to check again.
"Then they made me chant: 'Forward with Osama Bin Laden, forward with
Robert Gabriel Mugabe, down with whites.' It was terrifying. There was a police
Land Rover there, but the police just sat and watched."
The youths, many of school age, are being trained at Border Gezi, a tented
site named after Mr Mugabe's hardline former youth minister at Mt Darwin, 80
miles north of Harare and at several similar training camps across the
The same tactics were on display last week across northern Zimbabwe. Youth
brigades sealed off townships in Bindura, Chinhoyi and Karoi, threatening to
beat and rape those they found without Zanu-PF party cards when they
One local, Paul Matiyenga, was forced to flee when a brigade besieged his
street. He told The Telegraph that he would not allow the intimidation to change
"Even if we are forced to carry Zanu-PF cards with us at all times," said
Mr Matiyenga, "we know in our hearts who we will vote for. Do you think we can
vote for people who beat us and then promise to beat us again when they
The anti-Mugabe strongholds of Harare and surrounding townships have not
been immune to the growing pre-election violence. When youth brigades recently
surrounded the home of Derick Muzira, a Movement for Democratic Change activist
from Glen Norah, police refused to respond to his call for help.
Mr Muzira and his wife were beaten and their belongings looted. "It's pure
harassment," said Mr Muzira, "a sign that they know they can lose this
Roy Bennett, an MDC MP who has monitored developments at the Border Gezi
camp, said: "The gangs are being given carte blanche to act as they like because
they know they won't be prosecuted."
The Youth Brigades are expected to have little impact in Zimbabwe's urban
centres, where the opposition enjoys overwhelming support.
However, in rural Zimbabwe the effect of the armed gangs could be
devastating. "They'll have a huge intimidatory effect in the countryside," said
"This is a serious terror campaign and they're promising to kill and rape
those they think are from the MDC. These people are just like Hitler's Brown
Shirts and they're being trained to terrorise."
No information has been released by Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party on the number
of youths to be deployed in brigades between now and the elections. Opposition
observers believe that up to 100,000 could leave the camps over the next two
Mr Mugabe shrugged off international criticism and unleashed a new
broadside against on Tony Blair. "Mr Blair, don't be a liar, a Bliar," he told a
meeting of over 5,000 Christians in Harare. "God is on our side."
Elliot Manyika, Mr Mugabe's minister for youth, has dismissed the
allegations of a terror training camp, stating that the Border Gezi youths are
being trained to "undertake self-help projects".
The move to train terror gangs comes at a time when Zanu-PF leaders are
rushing new laws through parliament in an attempt to cripple the opposition's
campaign. It is now illegal to criticise the president, while the media is faced
with a raft of reporting restrictions.
As Zimbabwe prepares for the most fraught and dangerous election of recent
times, Professor Masipula Sithole, a political scientist from the University of
Zimbabwe, believes Mr Mugabe's brigades are a sign of weakness.
He said: "The Border Gezi camp and its brigades simply demonstrate that the
president has been unable to force the military to do his dirty work for him
The MDC said that the EU had left it too late to ensure free and fair
elections despite an undertaking from Zimbabwe's government to accept foreign
Tsvangirai expresses faith in the integrity of the army
1/12/02 10:35:54 AM (GMT +2)
By Lloyd Mudiwa
MORGAN Tsvangirai, the MDC president, said yesterday he recognised the
values of the liberation struggle, but most important, the right of Zimbabweans
to choose their leaders.
He said he had faith that the defence and security forces chiefs would
respect the outcome of the presidential election.
"I have full confidence
that our nation's security forces have no desire to divorce themselves from
these ideals and values that lay at the epicentre of their motivation to take
part in the struggle for the rebirth of Zimbabwe," Tsvangirai said.
"I strongly believe they are not only sworn to uphold the Constitution, but
are also to be loyal to the people of Zimbabwe."
Tsvangirai was responding
to a statement by the defence forces chiefs on Wednesday that they would not
accept a President without a credible war record. He was addressing journalists
at his party's headquarters.
Civic organisations and individuals have reacted with outrage to the
statement issued by General Vitalis Zvinavashe, the commander of the defence
forces, describing the declaration as an "act of treason".
the army would not allow anybody without credible liberation war credentials to
lead the country.
Tsvangirai said the MDC respected the defence and security institutions and
the professional integrity of the men and women who lead them.
He said the
MDC recognised the values, traditions and beliefs of the liberation war, such as
the non-negotiability of unity, sovereignty and the prosperity of the people.
Tsvangirai said: "As a nation, we are deeply indebted to them for their
sacrifice. I have no doubt in my mind that within their heart of hearts,
Zimbabwe's security forces and their leadership fully understand and appreciate
that the liberation struggle was initiated and prosecuted on the need to craft
and cement the salient concept of One Man One Vote, which is the foundation of
universal adulthood suffrage and self-determination."
Tsvangirai said the understanding was that where the people, in the full
exercise of their sovereignty, have spoken, no man should seek to subvert their
will. The MDC would contest the presidential election and he would stand as its
candidate, Tsvangirai said. "We absolutely have no intention of abandoning the
people when we have come to the closing hours of what has been a long and
difficult journey towards democratic change," he said, insisting the MDC was
ready to form the next government.
He said: "We have completed the crucial task of refining every single MDC
policy and programme to ensure that upon assumption of office we immediately set
on the task of getting Zimbabwe to work again."
Tsvangirai urged all people to remain resolute and peaceful in their desire
to complete the change for a better life for themselves and their children.
"Our nation is at a cross-roads and every single Zimbabwean should turn out
to vote on the 9th and 10th of March. In the exercise of the right to
self-determination, the people's will shall prevail."
Media institutions to contest proposed Information Bill
1/12/02 10:16:55 AM (GMT +2)
By Luke Tamborinyoka
ALL the five media unions operating in the country have agreed to legally
challenge the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill,
while urging journalists to defy it if it becomes law.
The unions, who met in Harare on Thursday, said some sections of the
Bill were in contravention of the Constitution.
"The unions agreed to
challenge the proposed new law in court once it is signed, saying it was
patently illegal and designed to deprive the media of its constitutional right
to freedom of expression," the unions said in a joint statement.
"In the meantime, the unions agreed that journalists must continue with
their work and ignore the Bill if it is passed into law."
The Zimbabwe Union
of Journalists, the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Independent
Journalists' Association of Zimbabwe, the Foreign Correspondents' Association
and the Federation of African Media Women in Zimbabwe attended the meeting.
The Bill, expected to be passed by Parliament next week, prescribes
renewable licences for journalists and media houses. It makes it a crime for
journalists to criticise the person and office of the President.
The Bill is
intended to tone down criticism of the President and enhance his re-election
prospects in polls scheduled for March.
"The unions will mobilise journalists to defy this undemocratic law by
calling for a boycott of the registration process which is arbitrarily
controlled by the Minister of Information and Publicity," the statement said.
They also agreed to send a signed petition to Patrick Chinamasa, the
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, stating their grave
concerns at the effect of the new law on freedom of expression and the media in
A meeting of all journalists to discuss the Bill has been
scheduled for Saturday, 19 January.
NCA hammers army over declaration
1/12/02 10:20:32 AM (GMT +2)
THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) yesterday denounced as
"dangerous and unwarranted" the declaration by the Commander of the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, that they will not accept the
outcome of the March presidential election, unless it is won by a person with a
credible liberation war record.
In a statement last night, the NCA said: "In essence, Zvinavashe told
the nation that the security forces will decide whether or not a President
elected by the people is acceptable to them. This is outrageous and is
calculated to intimidate the people of Zimbabwe into voting for a presidential
candidate who is acceptable to the army."
The NCA said it had through its chairperson, Dr Lovemore Madhuku, a senior
law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, written to Zvinavashe esterday,
"making it clear that his statement is unacceptable". It said it wished to call
on all Zimbabweans not to be intimidated, because they should exercise their
freedom to elect leaders of their choice.
The civic organisation said the struggle for a new constitution would
continue and that in the next few weeks it will be back in the streets to push
for a new constitution and protest against Zvinavashe's statements. In its
condemnation of Zvinavashe's statement, the NCA said: "We are a significant part
of the Zimbabwean citizens to whom you addressed your statements . . . These
statements were not only unwarranted and dangerous, but also clearly unlawful as
an infringement of the current Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Section 96 of the Constitution makes it clear that the 'supreme command of
the Defence forces shall vest in the President as Commander-in-Chief and in the
exercise of his functions as such, the President shall have power to determine
the operational use of the Defence Forces."
Archbishop accuses Zanu PF of hypocrisy
1/12/02 10:26:42 AM (GMT +2)
From Mduduzi Mathuthu in Bulawayo
ArchBishop Pius Ncube of the Roman Catholic Church has accused the
government of hypocrisy and attempting to cash in on the poverty of the people
in Zimbabwe's south-western districts for political expediency.
His church has defied a government order that all donor organisations
should stop distributing food aid to over 750 000 people who face imminent
starvation in Matabeleland, Masvingo and the Midlands provinces.
is caused by the government's hypocrisy," the outspoken Archbishop said.
"It wants to distribute food assistance itself so as to buy votes. It does
not care how many people die, as long as it can stay in power."
the ban on churches and non-governmental organisations from donating food aid in
rural areas, the government through its spokesman, Jonathan Moyo, said the move
was aimed at preventing foreigners from trying to "smuggle election monitors
into Zimbabwe using the guise of food aid".
Opinion surveys for the crunch presidential ballot on 9 and 10 March have
predicted that Zanu PF might surrender power to the trade union-backed
which is led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Among other individuals, Archbishop Ncube has
been accused by President Mugabe of campaigning for the opposition.
has been galled by Archbishop Ncube's defence of human rights and calls for
Mugabe to disband his hegemonic project.
The Catholic Development Commission co-ordinator, Michael Ncube, this week
told The Daily News that the situation had become desperate in remote areas of
Matabeleland with villagers reported to be surviving on tree roots. "We still
continue to help schoolchildren, but our resources are very limited," said
"The situation has become desperate out there and food supplies are quickly
wiped out soon after arriving." The government which defied local and regional
warnings that the country faced starvation until the stark reality of hunger was
on the doorstep, has sent an SOS message to the United Nations' World Food
The WFP will mobilise and parcel out food aid amounting to US$60 million
(Z$3,3 billion). Zimbabwe had initially rejected advice from several
international donors to swallow its pride and allow for food aid to be
distributed in the country.
Although reluctantly, the government effectively climbed down from its
earlier stand that it had to be the sole distributor of food aid.
agency will find reputable relief bodies to distribute food aid.
Lewis, the WFP's regional director, last week said they would start delivering
food "as fast as possible".
Archbishop Ncube said starvation had taken root in Tsholotsho, Kezi and the
Gwayi areas. At least two people have died in Hwange district because of hunger
due to the slow government response to the situation.
The Grain Marketing
Board, Zimbabwe's sole procurer and seller of grain, has admitted that its grain
silos in Bulawayo are empty, ending months of denials by the government of a
Herald journalists get land in A2 scheme
1/12/02 10:29:04 AM (GMT +2)
By Lloyd Mudiwa
AT LEAST six journalists with the State-controlled Herald newspaper have
been given land in the A2 commercial resettlement scheme.
Reuben Barwe, the ZBC's chief correspondent, and Masimba Musarira, a
former ZBC broadcaster, were also given land in Zvimba district and at Munhenga
farm in Goromonzi, respectively.
The Herald last week reported that Cephas Chitsaka, its deputy editor,
George Chisoko, business editor, Tichaona Chifamba, features editor, Ivy Ncube,
health reporter, and senior business reporters Hamandishe Saburi and Charles
Mtetwa had been allocated land as well.
The reporters, some as young as 28, were among 58 000 out of 100 119
applicants allocated land. They would receive land in the small, medium,
large-scale and peri-urban commercial farming areas. Applicants were required to
either farming experience or provide proof of availability and/or
ability to mobilise adequate resources to support their proposed programme.
The scheme is expected to eventually become the backbone of agriculture in
Zimbabwe. It is unclear whether the reporters met the requirements. Abel
Mutsakani, the president of the Independent Journalists' Association of
Zimbabwe, on Wednesday said: "It is clear journalists cannot, on the one hand,
claim to be the voice of conscience, and on the other, still want to benefit
from such a controversial programme where people have been murdered.
"At least six farmers and 100 farm workers have been killed, with hundreds
of others maimed, and for journalists to say they should ignore this and join
bandwagon is shocking. "One wonders if this is not a Thank You for a job
well-done to the State media which has been doing the government's public
relations over the chaotic land reform programme."
But Matthew Takaona, the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists,
who works for The Herald's sister paper, The Sunday Mail, said since everybody
was getting land, journalists should get land too. "The government has said it
is not giving land under the Zanu PF banner and it would be unfair to ask
journalists not to receive land," he said.
Magistrates and judges, whose objectivity could easily be compromised
because of political affiliation, had received land, he said. "Besides, these
journalists won't be journalists forever." The Commercial Farmers' Union, in a
presentation to a ministerial delegation of the Southern African Development
Community which visited Zimbabwe last month, said land was given to Zanu PF
loyalists in accordance with the so-called A2 scheme.
The scheme allows Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Joseph
Made to bypass official procedures by signing a letter granting an applicant
land for 99 years with an option to buy. Although The Herald's story said
opposition supporters had received land, it named only Paul Madzore, the MP for
Glen View, who denied he applied for land.
Zanu PF members on the list included Paul Mangwana, the Deputy Minister for
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Joseph Macheka, the executive mayor of
Chitungwiza, Marko Madiro, the MP for Hurungwe, Kenneth Manyonda, the MP for
Buhera South, and Chegutu MP Webster Shamu, the editor of The People's Voice,
Zanu PF's mouthpiece.
Zanu PF youths on rampage
1/12/02 10:37:12 AM (GMT +2)
Hundreds of Zanu PF youths returning from Harare International Airport
where they had gone to welcome the visiting Democratic Republic of Congo
President Joseph Kabila on Thursday attacked residents in various suburbs of
Harare in an ongoing terror campaign ahead of the 9 and 10 March presidential
Residents of Warren Park, Greendale, Tafara, Glen Norah, Glen View,
Kuwadzana 5, Kuwadzana Extension and Budiriro said the youths descended at
shopping centres in hired Zupco buses and beat up innocent people. In Tafara,
they allegedly threatened to return in 10 buses to continue with the beatings.
In Bindura scores of Zanu PF youths attacked guests at the Coach House Inn
at about 10pm on Wednesday. Guests fled as the youths, armed with axes, sticks,
iron bars, stones and other weapons, descended without warning.
Daily News -Leader page
Zanu PF takes on world to defy march of time
1/12/02 11:10:05 AM (GMT +2)
IN the next few days, Zanu PF will find out if the rest of the world
believes the rock-strewn path on which it has launched this country has any
respectability among the nations of the world.
Yesterday in Brussels, a delegation of President Mugabe's government
began talks with the European Union to patch up a rift which could culminate in
Zimbabwe facing punishing economic sanctions from that 16-member group.
Their differences stem from the Mugabe government's record on the
maintenance of the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the
the opposition and the independent Press.
For more or less the same sins of commission, the government has been
punished by the United States government with its Zimbabwe Democracy and
Economic Recovery Act of 2001. This week, the government added to its
lengthening dossier the controversial passage by Parliament of the General Laws
Amendment Act, which makes the electoral playing field more uneven than before,
and the Public Order and Security Act, which makes the colonial-era Law and
Order (Maintenance) Act read like a Boy Scouts' rule book.
There will be questions about the virtual pre-election military coup
signalled by the defence forces with their astonishing threat not to recognise
an elected President without liberation war credentials. Still to come on
Monday, 14 January, will be a crucial meeting of the Southern African
Development Community heads of state in Malawi at which the same transgressions
are to be ventilated.
The vacillation of this regional group is pathetic. Not one of them could
honestly endorse the Mugabe government's human rights performance so far as an
example they would enthusiastically emulate. Yet they continue to dither over
what is their clear responsibility to the people, rather than the government, of
Then in March, the government can expect the Commonwealth, meeting in
Australia to discuss its future membership of that multi-racial group, having
placed it on the agenda, the prelude to suspension, which could lead to
It's for more or less the same sins that the government is being
Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, seems confident his government will weather that storm
because "most of the members have rallied behind us".
He singles out Britain, Canada and Australia, who belong to the "old"
Commonwealth, as the leaders of the anti-Zimbabwe brigade, suggesting the
others, including India, South Africa and Nigeria, all applaud the violence and
denial of basic human rights of which his government is accused.
We doubt that the 51 other Commonwealth members will go along with the
government's contention that all the draconian measures it has taken and intends
to take against its real and imagined detractors, including the independent
Press, are justified under the laws of a civilised democracy.
ordinary people of this country, the political and economic consequences of Zanu
PF's defiance of the march of time have been ghastly.
There are very few jobs, few drugs, very little food and the prospects of
improvements during the year look distinctly bleak. Zanu PF is to blame for
it is the party driving the government into this dead-end. In another country
claiming to be democratic, an election during which the people would give the
ruling party their verdict on its performance on their behalf would be entirely
free and fair.
The people's verdict would be final and would be respected by all. The
international and regional organisations which meet the government in the next
few days must insist on this. If the government cannot give them a solid
undertaking that it will observe all the rules binding it as a member of their
organisations, then they must take whatever punitive action they deem necessary,
including sanctions and expulsion
Daily News - Leader Page
The most shocking Christmas ever
1/12/02 11:13:04 AM (GMT +2)
By Cathy Buckle
FOR weeks after the festive period, we were absolutely bombarded by
State-owned radio and television reports telling us that this has been the best
Christmas for 100 years because Zimbabweans have been given back their land and
are expecting "bumper harvests".
To test this assertion, I went away for a few days, travelled a couple
of hundred kilometres and saw for myself the state of the crops on Zimbabwean
farms. As a result of the tour, I am still in a state of deep shock.
On the entire 220 kilometres of my journey there were less than a dozen
fields on the roadside growing a saleable crop. Of these, not one was maize,
Zimbabwe's staple food. There were many dozens of little patches, some perhaps
not as big as one hectare, where newly resettled farmers have claimed a vast
field and managed to plant only a minute fraction of it with food.
Zimbabwe's newly resettled farmers have not planted enough food for
themselves, let alone a surplus with which to support 13 million Zimbabweans.
Perhaps what struck me most is that we have gone backwards in time. From
tractors and pivot
irrigation tending crops for sale to support the nation,
the view now is of oxen-pulling hand ploughs in little squares to feed perhaps
one man and his wife for three or four months.
Having been all my life in Africa and a farmer for a decade, I find it
criminal in the extreme that our prime growing season is going to waste like
this and that the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr
Joseph Made, is sitting in Harare saying that we are in for a bumper harvest.
More criminal is that Francis Nhema, the Minister of Environment and
Tourism, is doing and saying nothing about the vast environmental degradation
that lies there along the roadsides for us all to see.
On countless fields along the roads, dozens of indigenous trees have been
hacked down to be replaced by one or two round huts. In the middle of timber
plantations hundreds of prime trees, grown for poles and furniture, have been
felled to make room for one ramshackle hut. On almost every field, our new
farmers have planted maize along the river banks, gullies are visible, chemicals
are leaching into our water systems, siltation has started, contours have been
We have gone from being a vastly productive country to one of primitive
subsistence and all the highly educated ministers who govern us with their
Masters degrees and Doctorates are saying nothing and doing nothing. They have
watched in political silence as commercial farmers have been stopped from
growing food by "war veterans"; they have taken Zimbabwe back into the dark
For over a year I have been saying that starvation is approaching. This
week I saw the reality of it. This has been the best Christmas in 100 years for
a very few Zimbabweans. Four people were murdered in political violence
during Christmas week. Trymore Midzi, 24 years old, was brutally assaulted in
Bindura by men wielding machetes. He died in a Harare hospital.
Titus Nheya, 56 years old, was stabbed to death in Karoi. Milton Chambati,
45 years old, was attacked by a mob of 50. He was stabbed in the back and then
beheaded in Magunje. Laban Chiweta, 24 years old, was beaten to death by armed
riot police near Bindura.
My love and condolences go to their wives and lovers, their children,
friends and families. On the morning of Christmas Eve a barefoot and barely
clothed young woman, perhaps 20, appeared outside my door.
She was suckling
an infant at her distended breast and had a toddler at her feet.
She was starving, her eyes were filled with tears and her pleas for help
were garbled but desperate. She carried her life, her home and her children's
security in a small, blanket-enclosed bundle. This was the face of Zimbabwe in
2001. When I returned home the hate mail again filled my screen.
"Go back to Britain," it said, "there is no place for you here." The writer
said that the starvation is the fault of white farmers who are not delivering
their produce to the Grain Marketing Board in order to create artificial
The hate mail author did not seem to be aware of the cold hard fact: there
is no produce to sell 21 months after politicians decided to use race and land
to secure their re-election.
The educated men and women who govern Zimbabwe, the civil servants and the
police who have turned a blind eye for almost two years, must now find ways of
feeding us all.
The time for hate and accusations, for greed and jealousy is long gone.
Now we must all work together before it is our mothers and daughters
carrying their lives in small bundles begging for help.