Patrick Ashton 16.01,02
TO ALL CONCERNED PEOPLE
I, Patrick Ashton of Landfall Farm, Mutorashanga, Zimbabwe, have this to
I bought Landfall after independence 20 years ago, wishing to be a part of
the new Zimbabwe. I am a full Zimbabwean by registration and choice. I have
four sons, two actively in agriculture and two at school.
I have developed the farm over the years to grow 80 ha of tobacco)+-300
tonnes), +- 40 ha of maize and 30 ha of export mangoes. I have developed a farm
village of 105 brick under corrugated iron houses for my staff and employ +-300
permanent and contract workers under normal circumstances.
The farm is fully developed for extensive cropping and a programme to
intensify horticulture is in place. The farm is not listed in any way, which
fact is conceded by the authorities (DA and Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and
Rural Resettlement). The criteria are:
The farm is not near communal land
The farm is the sole farm owned by me The farm is not foreign owned The farm is
not listed Since August 2001 the farm has been illegally invaded by 150
After thirteen or more visits to and from the DA Zvimba and/or his
staff, I was able to plant 45 ha of tobacco and tend my mangoes.
During this period I had 124 irrigation pipes axed and 46 kms of drip tape
either slashed or burnt and many other provocations.
Tobacco was planted three times in one land where settlers (Sgt Makiwa of
ZRP) disputed the Lands Committee's decision to allow me to plant in my prepared
This same Sgt Makiwa attempted to panga me on December 9 2001 when I was
photographing the malicious damage he had caused. This has all been reported to
On Thursday 11 and Friday 12 January 2002, youths were collected from farms
in my farming area at the orders of the local Zanu PF supposedly for training in
national service! They encamped at the local primary school and over the
weekend set up illegal roadblocks, harassing motorists and pedestrians along the
Mutorashang/Van Ad Road. In the evenings they destroyed the local MDC leaders
home in the village and three young MDC men were beaten and
Customers for my mangoes were beaten and thrashed when they
came across this roadblock. In addition this group searched for and beat up
three more MDC youths on Sunday.
On Monday the 14 January at 08.45 my son Phillip radioed saying these
people, led by one Mr. Mbamba (Zanu PF councilor), had invaded my house and
They pulled Adam, my son and Sandy, who is Phillip's girlfriend and a
South African national, out of the house. Phillip was promptly accosted and had
the farm radio and his cell phone stolen from him.
I said I would come in from the tobacco lands immediately.
On arrival at the house I was unable to get through the gates as Phillip's
pick-up had been parked deliberately to close off the entrance to me.
I was immediately surrounded by a frenzied rabble armed with axes and
sticks. They shouted demands for my radio and cell phone but would not
otherwise converse with me. They began beating the car and poking me through
the side window. One blow shattered my front windscreen and I decided the
situation was out of hand and I would be no help to my children dead.
I started the engine and, hooting my horn for warning, reversed to give me
room to swing away from the gate. In doing so I hit an overhanging branch of a
tree and dented the cab of my pick up.
The thugs then bashed in the remaining side windows as I drew away from
them across some open ground and I was able to leave the area.
I warned my staff of the violence and told them to disperse to the bush and
went for help at my neighbours.
My neighbour collected four policemen and the member-in-charge and dropped
them near my house at approximately 09.00. My sons and Sandy were held captive
for 10 hours before their release. They were subjected to all sorts of trauma.
Adam was whipped when he complained they should not beat the dogs. They said it
was him or the dogs. He bravely took the whipping. They threatened to bury
Phillip and brought shovels to do so.
They slaughtered two cows and four sheep to eat. They also beat up my
gardener and the farm manager.
Adam and Phillip had their shirts removed to "check for bugging
They were forced to go through to the house to cook for the
intruders who drank all my beer. While this was going on the intruders went
through the rest of the house and systematically looted electrical equipment,
clothes and bedding.
All this took place in front of the police or while the police wandered
around watching the cattle shot and the sheep being slaughtered. Drums were
beaten and songs were chanted whilst the meat was distributed.
hours, my children were told to pack their bags and get out, threatened with
death if they returned. They were then released at _+
18.30 and I met up
with them and guided them to a safe house.
The following day, Tuesday we heard the intruders had left the house so we
returned to get our lives together. After half and hour we were warned by
telephone the group was returning so we evacuated and came to Harare, leaving
two policemen to guard the house.
I have been actively canvassing help to continue farming. Since August
2001 I have enlisted the help of Ministry of Housing, diplomats, CFU, ZTA
and mainly DA Zvimba.
All to no avail despite the farm not being listed. I have been subjected
to outrageous demands for compensation from the settlers when the settlers have
herded my cattle deliberately into their maize to graze. My fencing has been
stolen and gates left open.
I transparently support the democratic process. I believe tolerance of
different ideas and the rule of law is a prerequisite to "one man-one vote" of
The wonderful young people of the country I have met deserve a
better future of their own choice. Someone has to do something.
I believe all the provocation is a result of my open support of the
democratic process. The ambush and invasion of my house was obviously an
orchestrated and deliberate act of terrorism and clearly has, at least, the
tacit approval of the authorities.
In support of this I point out:
1 Telephone cut
2 Vehicle deliberately set in the driveway to block
3 Stop groups set up by the intruders
4 The attack was timed for
the breakfast period when I would be expected to be at home.
5 All means of
on farm communication were either stolen or disabled
6 My property was
systematically looted despite a police presence on the farm At this moment the
Zimbabwe National SPCA are bravely attempting to rescue our pets from the
encamped youth brigade, which is still in situ in my garden. I am very grateful
to the people involved in this rescue operation.
Finally I would like to thank all those who have helped my family and me
these last few days. May all those with goodwill towards Zimbabwe and her
people pray for this madness to end and that peace and tolerance
Reinventing “free” and “fair”
A recent SADC conference saw Robert Mugabe saying he would
“like to have free and fair elections” in six weeks time and boasting that “the
whole meeting supported our position.”
So believing was the South African government of this latest
platitude that they sprang to Mugabe’s support by simultaneously announcing that
a special committee had been set up in anticipation of a “meltdown” in Zimbabwe,
comprising South African government, intelligence, police and defence officials
– who were charged with immediately setting up a refugee camp at Artonvilla, an
old SA National Defence Force complex near Messina.
According to my Oxford Dictionary the word “free” means “not
in bondage to another, having personal rights and social and political
liberty”. Similarly “fair” means
“according to the rules”.
What sort of “free” are we talking about when a so called
democratically elected government neighbouring another so called democratically
elected government prepares for thousands of refugees who are expected to
shortly flee their country in terror, simply because citizens wish to exercise
their right to freedom of choice in deciding whom they wish to govern them?
What too is “fair” about knowing that those holding a strong
position of influence who bleat about an African Renaissance in a “love thy
neighbour” sense, are actually hypocritically aiding your demise by spinelessly
rendering assistance to defaulting governments rather than taking firm steps to
censure their leadership and bring them to heel?
Over the years Africa’s leaders have organised, sponsored and
attended countless congresses, conferences, and hosts of other similarly fancy
named meetings where they are then photographed cheerfully signing even more
countless agreements, charters and even constitutions; all supposedly formulated
to reinforce the rights and freedoms of those who elected and pay them
handsomely to serve them. Yet, here we
are, in the year 2002, literally drowning in human rights paperwork, but reading
about a despotic leader who is holding his country to ransom, hijacking
democracy and all but bringing his country and its citizenry to its knees.
When interviewed about this unfolding drama, the South
African Department of Home Affairs spokesperson, Leslie Mashokwe, could not say
how his government had budgeted for the possible influx because, he claimed, “we
don’t know what the magnitude of the problem might be”. That no problem should be allowed to exist at
all simply doesn’t come into the African reinvention of “free" and "fair”.
L Mylie / New Zealand
Daily News - Leader Page
Government has sentenced nation to mass
1/23/02 8:31:37 AM (GMT +2)
NO matter how
strenuously Minister Joseph Made, the government's
may try to deny it, the truth is that Zimbabwe faces
a staple food shortage
crisis which is both unprecedented in magnitude and
By September last year, alarm bells had already started
ringing, warning of
impending mass starvation with reports that people in
parts of Zvishavane
and Chivi districts, in the Midlands and Masvingo
had run out of food completely and some villagers
were surviving on roots of
Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
depots in those areas had run dry.
Food monitors reported that food
security in the two provinces, as well as
in the two Matabeleland provinces,
had reached critically low levels, a
situation endorsed by the Famine Early
Warning Systems Network expert who
warned that the country needed to import
at least 200 000 tonnes of maize
immediately, or there would be no food at
all the following month.
The experts made it clear that the ideal imports
to take the country to the
end of the year were 600 000 tonnes of
But Made, who all along had lulled the government into a false
national food security by insisting there were sufficient maize
that the experts were being unduly alarmist, was adamant that the
needed to import 100 000 tonnes only.
However, before the year
2001 had ended, newspapers were already carrying
stories of people starving
to death in some provinces in the southern half
of the country.
have pitiful reports, as carried in the Press at the weekend, that
food shortages have also started to affect the northern half of
So serious is the shortage of maize, in fact, that some
villagers in Omay
communal lands have resorted to boiling, in salted water, a
poisonous wild grass called kakora, which they then proceed to
eat as food.
This is something which should never happen in a country
which only a few
years ago carried the proud label of "the breadbasket of the
African Development Community". And it wouldn't be happening if
government had not been made so criminally complacent, courtesy of
And now, in a move which is practically an open admission that Made
along been misleading the nation that the country's maize reserves
healthy, the government is having to resort to extremely desperate
arbitrary measures whose cumulative effect can only worsen, not
Zimbabwe's food shortage crisis in the medium to relatively long
One such measure was the putting in place of a statutory instrument
the GMB the sole marketer of grain.
The instrument also
empowers the government, through the GMB, to
compulsorily take away from
producers grain they have retained for their own
Because of that
grain-grab exercise, which in fact is unconstitutional,
manufacturers are being forced to close down, thereby widening the
crisis scope as this is having a catastrophic effect on beef, poultry
But the move which, by far, looks set to
exacerbate maize shortage – thereby
spreading hunger - on an unprecedented
scale is the government's decision to
stop fertiliser manufacturers from
selling their products on the open
market, but to deliver them all to the
government through the GMB instead.
The effect of that tragically
short-sighted order, obviously given with a
view to short-term political
gains as it is mistakenly hoped it will boost
Zanu PF's popularity during the
9 and 10 March election, is to deprive of
fertilisers most commercial and
part-time farmers whose crops are now
That is the
maize which would benefit the nation most through enhanced
fertiliser applied to it at this crucial stage.
But it is now as good as
a lost crop because farmers can't get fertiliser
for whom government is hoarding the fertiliser are mostly yet to
are unlikely to harvest anything, unless the rainy season gets
Mass starvation is, therefore, almost guaranteed unless government
manufacturers to immediately redirect their products back to the
Troubled Zimbabwe forges unholy alliance with
1/23/02 8:29:05 AM (GMT +2)
By John Gambanga
striking similarity between the Libyan connection to Zimbabwe and the
connection to Liberia raises the question of how far the Arabs intend
spread their influence in Africa - nearly five centuries after they
Africans for resale as slaves in the United States.
Zimbabwe is among the
four key countries within the sub-region that will
offer the world's largest
mineral resources which can be used to produce
fuel cells, the power of the
next decade. The others are the Democratic
Republic of Congo, South Africa
Is the Libyan link to Zimbabwe a new form of al Qaeda in
President Mugabe has visited Libya several times during the last 12
to cement ties between Harare and Tripoli that date back to the
Zimbabwe's independence in the 1970s when hundreds of young
the military wing of Mugabe's Zanu PF, were trained in many
disciplines by the Libyans.
Last August, Libya gave Zimbabwe
an economic lifeline in the form of a
US$360 million (Z$19,8 billion) oil
facility for which Harare pays part in
reports say the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, has received
large-scale commercial farms, mainly in Mashonaland West, from his
Mugabe. That perhaps explains why he came to Zimbabwe by road last
the Lusaka summit of the Organisation of African Unity that he had
Sources say some of the farms could be used for army training
government with militaristic tendencies and for bartering oil in
purchase of military hardware.
There are reports that at least 15
000 Libyans have been issued with
Zimbabwean passports and are likely to take
part in the March presidential
poll in support of Zanu PF. Although the
Libyan authorities in Harare have
denied the reports, many people claim there
is a disturbingly high number of
Libyans in the country.
is very high over their mission.
That they could be here to train
Mugabe's young militia to be used in the
ongoing election violence cannot be
Liberia, the tiny West African country founded in 1847 by
repatriated from America, has been under the rule of President
Taylor since 2 August 1997 and will hold presidential and
elections in July next year.
Taylor's National Patriotic
Party (NPP), which came to power with the
assistance of Libya after seven
years of civil strife that culminated in
free presidential and parliamentary
polls in which it won 75,3 percent of
the vote, is going out of its way to
make sure that the political playing
field is skewed in its favour for next
The NPP will not allow the United Party, which secured 9,6
percent of the
vote in the last election, and the All Liberia Coalition
Party, which won 4
percent, or any of the smaller parties that shared the
remaining 11 percent
of the vote, to unseat it.
In his bid to stamp
authority on the estimated 3,2 million Liberians, Taylor
has introduced the
same repressive Press laws as those planned by Zimbabwe
for the presidential
poll in March.
Taylor has declared he will not allow international
monitors during next
year's elections although he has said observers from the
community would be allowed in.
Taylor has threatened to
arrest all with dual citizenship who vote in the
Zimbabwe, where President Mugabe's Zanu PF, in power since 1980, now
must rule for eternity, the Liberian government is bending rules
introducing repressive laws to ensure it retains power at all cost.
this similarity coincidental or are the leaders of the two countries
the same book authored by the same terrorist maestro?
recovering from the years of bloody strife, is very much like
that most businesses have closed down, destroying the
Corruption, repression, rampant abuse of power, poverty among
and the Tripoli link pair the two countries as twins. The United
Central Intelligence Agency's World Fact book reports that an
domestic security situation has slowed the process of rebuilding
and economic structure of Liberia, a country richly endowed with
resources, forests and an ideal climate for agriculture. Libyan
to Zimbabwe prior to independence was very welcome, coming at a
moment in the country's political development.
But can the
same be said of Libyan aid today, when the political goal posts
more than two decades later?
Will Zimbabweans mortgage their country to
the Arabs to retain a political
administration whose actions have been
questioned even by some of its own
friends - Desmond Tutu of South Africa and
former Zambian leader Kenneth
Only three weeks supply of maize left
AM (GMT +2)
By Takaitei Bote
While Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
chairman Enock Kamushinda says the country
should not panic about the maize
supply situation, it has emerged that
Zimbabwe has enough supplies to last
for the next three weeks only.
Sources close to the GMB said
yesterday the maize situation was critical
while no imports had been made as
of Monday this week.
However there were reports yesterday that maize
imports from South Africa
would start arriving in the country today through
The sources said it would be impossible to import the
shortfall in three weeks because of logistical problems.
(Private) Limited managing director, Rob Webster said on
Monday that the
company was still milling but had supplies for two days and
"we are feeding
from hand to mouth".
The country has been hit by a
shortage of maize-meal for the past three
weeks. Kamushinda is alleged to
have awarded tenders to a number of
indigenous businesses to import about 150
000 tonnes of maize from South
The companies, which were first
given a deadline to deliver maize at
Beitbridge by 20 January, 2002, have
since been told to deliver the product
by 15 February.
the GMB had drawn up the second tender inviting commodity
dealers to import
maize fixed at US$156 (Z$8 580) per tonne delivered at
second tender has however been reviewed, with the GMB agreeing to
commodity brokers about US$166 (Z$9 130) a tonne delivered at
Two indigenous companies were yesterday alleged to have
signed contracts and
agreed to source the maize at US$166 (Z$9 130) a
Out of the 18 companies that had originally tendered only six were
to have been awarded the tenders but most of them had not signed
Last week, the GMB was reported to
have been calling some of the companies
that had not been considered for the
tenders to renegotiate payment terms.
Many are alleged to have turned
down the GMB's new offer of US$166 a tonne.
"A price of US$156 a tonne was
good if the maize was to be delivered by
December 2001 but prices in South
Africa have increased to about US$158 (Z$8
690) a tonne and if we are to
include transport costs, it will now cost
about US$209 (Z$11 495) to deliver
a tonne of maize to Beitbridge from South
Africa," one commodity broker
The sources said the GMB had cost the country close to $4 billion
awarding tenders as prices of maize were increasing on a regular basis
South Africa due to a huge demand for the product in southern
Chris Sturgess of the South Africa Futures Exchange (SAFEX) said
of white maize had increased from R1584 (Z$7 920) last week to
175) as at Monday 21 January.
Sources said even if the GMB
was to offer the brokers to source maize at
more than US$200 (Z$11 000) per
tonne, not much maize would be delivered in
the country by 15 February
because of logistical constraints.
A commodity broker said: "It will take
the country about six months to
import the required 150 000 tonnes because
there are shortages of rail
wagons in South Africa.
"The country is
going to starve because the GMB waited until the last minute
Contacted, Kamushinda said: "Please do not panic. We have
to take care of our needs for the next three weeks.
"If the situation
changes, we will let you know. There is maize available
and we are also
bringing in maize. All the logistics for importing are
Kamushinda said a lot of figures had been bandied about in
newspapers and by
different people "for their own motives but if you add up
these figures you
will find they do not tally".
"Maize is also being
used as one of the campaign tools," he said. While
Kamushinda admitted there
was a maize shortage in the country, GMB
operations manager Justine Mutasa,
whose department was seizing maize from
commercial farmers, was quoted in The
Herald issue of Monday as saying:
"There is so much maize in the country and
we may not even need to import if
we manage to impound all maize from
Commercial farmers have since denied that they have
excess maize left on
their farms, saying the little they have is for
livestock and their workers.
34 MDC supporters reported missing
1/23/02 8:28:27 AM
From Chris Gande in Bulawayo
ABOUT 34 Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) supporters went missing when
Zanu PF militants and
the police tried to stop an MDC rally at White City
Stadium on Sunday, the
party said yesterday.
Welshman Ncube, the party's secretary-general, said
it was established by
Sunday evening that 14 MDC supporters were abducted
from the stadium while
another 20 were taken away from their homes by people
suspected to be State
Police said 39 people, all of them MDC
supporters, were arrested and were
expected to appear in court
Said Ncube: "We are getting reports at our offices from
parents and spouses
who say their children and spouses are still missing. We
don't know where
The disturbances occurred after hundreds
of Zanu PF militants occupied White
City Stadium on Saturday night to bar the
MDC from holding a rally there the
Police prevented MDC
supporters from getting into the stadium despite the
fact that the venue had
been booked earlier.
The Mpopoma home of Milton Gwetu, the MP for
Mpopoma, was tear gassed by the
It has since been established
that most of the Zanu PF supporters who caused
the disturbances came from
Harare, Marondera and Buhera. Two trucks full of
Zanu PF supporters from
Buhera led by a war vet called Chapirwa Munyire, was
seen in the city on
Another group of ruling party supporters bussed into the city
to cause the
disturbances was identified by eyewitnesses as comprising
members of the
Vapostori sect who were led by one Lawrence
Farm invaders steal cattle worth $25m from
1/23/02 8:27:19 AM (GMT +2)
ZANU PF supporters and war veterans in Beatrice yesterday stole
worth over $25 million at a farm they occupied during the farm
Steve Terbblans, the owner of Gwaliya Farm along the
yesterday confirmed the incident.
who was chased away by the invaders, said he was informed by
his cattle had been stolen and the war veterans had looted
property from his
house on the farm.
He said he needed time to quantify the value of stolen
property before he
could issue a statement on the looting and his stolen
Terbblans said the farm was listed by the government for
A farmer in the area who declined to be named yesterday called
News and said the war veterans who had initially tried to auction
at $8 000 each could not do so after the police in Beatrice
Beatrice police yesterday refused to comment on the
The farmer said after the auction was stopped, the Zanu PF
war veterans drove the cattle to Joyce Mine where they operate
Neighbouring farmers were threatened with death if they reported
stocktheft and looting of property to any news organisation.
520 cattle were driven past the Beatrice Police Station. No one was
I heard that the war veterans would auction the cattle from that
He said if the war veterans had only chased Terbblans away,
it would have
been enough, rather than stealing and destroying his property
"We have a terrible situation of daylight robbery," said the
farmer. "It is
a clear case of stocktheft. This is unbelievable.'"
farmer said the auction is led by a war veteran identified only
Joseph Chinotimba, the chairman of the Zimbabwe National
Veterans' Association for Harare under which Beatrice falls,
said he had not
been informed about the incident.
Chinotimba said: "I
know nothing about that issue. I am hearing about it
from you, so I cannot
comment on something that I am not informed about."
The incident comes
just three days after Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo visited Zimbabwe
and urged all the interested parties in the land
reform programme to make
sure that the Abuja agreement, which calls for the
restoration of the rule of
law and a halt to further land seizures in the
We wish to share with you Carlene Huck 's (A Zim Teenager) poem after she
received the news of a vicious attack on their neighbour on Monday 14th January
This upheaval, this unrest,
This time that has been sent to test,
faith, my love, my rational thought,
If I let go, will sink to naught.
Father, I ask by me you'll stand,
As I stand proud for my land.
race nor class nor colour decide,
Let me stand in the gap of this
Help me to stand strong, when others fall,
Let me stand firm, let
me stand tall.
Let no man question my will,
Even when provoked, let me be
Give me calm and peace of mind,
Uncover my eyes, remove the
Father place your mighty hand,
To cover the wounds of this broken
Wash away the blood of war,
Open the locked, closed door.
stand by those who weep,
And show us that colour is only skin deep.
us stand for what is right,
But not with anger nor with fight.
those brave enough to stand,
For what they believe for this land.
those who fear,
Show them your presence ever near.
And even in our darkest
Remind us of your ultimate power.
Zimbabwe will be a shining light,
Not through power, nor through might,
But with forgiveness, and without
Lord raise strong people to lead.
A new Zimbabwe will rise again,
Without the anguish and the pain.
And united, together we will stand,
Upon the ground of this our land.
Four Killed in Zimbabwe Political Violence
Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police said on Tuesday they were
the deaths of four people in political violence over the past
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the main
traded accusations on the murder of their supporters.
reported that police had arrested 29 people in the past two
days over the
violence which has flared up between the two main political
parties in the
run up to presidential elections set for March 9-10.
The main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said on Tuesday
four of its supporters
were murdered by ruling ZANU-PF militants in the past
week -- three of them
in the southern Masvingo province.
But the ruling party rejected the
charge, claiming the three dead men found
in Masvingo were ZANU-PF supporters
murdered by MDC activists.
"I don't know about our people being involved
in any murder. What I know is
that the MDC killed three of our people last
week," said ZANU-PF Masvingo
province chairman Samuel Mumbengegwi.
police spokesman said they were investigating the deaths.
"We are looking
at these cases, and until we complete our investigations we
apportioning any blame to any party," the spokesman said.
Secretary Learnmore Jongwe said in a statement the three
men -- named as
Richard Chatunga, Amos Mapingure and Isaac Munikwa -- were
Jongwe said another man, Moffat Soko Chiwaura, 59, was
allegedly abducted by
ZANU-PF youths in December and was found dead on a farm
Zimbabwe last week.
The MDC has accused ZANU-PF of
training a private militia under the guise of
a national youth service to
lead a violent campaign against the opposition
in the run-up to the
elections, in which President Robert Mugabe faces a
tough challenge from MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"We call upon Mugabe's regime to disband the
ZANU-PF militia," Jongwe said.
The accusations come after at least 20
people were hurt in street battles
between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters in
Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo on
The MDC says nearly 100
of its supporters have been killed in political
violence since February 2000
when militants led by veterans of the 1970s war
against white rule began
often violent seizures of white-owned farms with
The Age, Melbourne
Mugabe eases slightly Zimbabwe's proposed press
HARARE, Jan 22 AFP|Published: Wednesday January 23, 10:27
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe eased, ever so slightly,
to press freedom today, amid fears that foreign journalists
would be barred from crucial March presidential
The press bill originally proposed by Mugabe's government
banned all foreign
journalists from Zimbabwe and imposed stiff penalties for
The revised bill would allow "permanent
residents" to work as journalists.
Foreigners could be accredited to
cover "a specific event over a limited
period of time," if they obey other
still-restrictive clauses in the bill,
according to a draft obtained by
The new version also removed a clause that criminalised criticism
Mugabe - though a tough security law approved earlier this month
outlawed statements "causing hatred, contempt or ridicule" of the
Journalists and news organisations would still have to seek
every one or two years from a panel hand-picked by the
Foreigners would be unable to work full-time in
Zimbabwe. No news
organisation would be able to seek foreign funding, a
clause that could
hinder operations at the Daily News, Zimbabwe's only
The bill also limits the ability of
journalists to report, for example by
making it an offence to report on
Violations of the law would still be punished by
stiff fines and up to two
years in prison.
The unexpected revisions to
the law came after a caucus meeting of MPs from
the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), as
well as a separate politburo
meeting of the party's top brass earlier today.
Parliament had been
expected to debate the bill today, but when the house
lawmakers immediately adjourned it until tomorrow
Sources at parliament said the delay came after a
committee produced a
report that said the original bill was a serious setback
constitutionally protected right to freedom of
Despite some loosening, the revised bill retained many
denounced by press rights groups in Zimbabwe and
"This does not amount to any real change," said Rashweat Mukundu,
and information officer at the Media Institute of Southern Africa
He called the changes nothing more than "legal jargon" and "a
camouflage the same draconian clauses they're proposing in the
Journalists from a cross-section of Zimbabwean media yesterday
parliament against the bill, vowing to challenge the law in court
The proposed press curbs were among the issues that drew
from the European Union, which has insisted that Mugabe's
international observers and news media before and during
the March 9-10
Mugabe also faces sanctions from Britain and the
United States, as well as
possible suspension from the Commonwealth, over his
ongoing efforts to crack
down on dissent and his failure to end two years of
The United States today welcomed changes to the press
law but warned Mugabe
that "smart sanctions" were still an option.
think it's another tragic example of President Mugabe's
authoritarian rule, his government's apparent determination to
freedom of speech and dissent," said State Department spokesman
"We're still talking to other countries. We're still
considering what we can
do, and we're still watching very closely
developments in Zimbabwe."
Mugabe has tightened the screws on opposition
to his 22-year rule, as he
faces the toughest-ever challenge to his
presidency from Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the two-year-old Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
The MDC says more than 90 of its supporters have
died in political violence
blamed on pro-government
Hundreds of thousands of people have suffered beatings and
other forms of
torture, including rape, according to the MDC and rights
By Griffin Shea
Bill splits Zanu PF
1/23/02 7:57:15 AM (GMT
By Sandra Nyaira Political Editor
WHAT has been called
"Moyo's Bill", the controversial Access to Information
and Protection of
Privacy Bill, had Zanu PF developing cold feet for the
second time in one
week after major disagreements over the proposed law in
parliamentary caucus yesterday.
The Bill intends to ban foreign
journalists from working permanently in the
country, muzzle the independent
media and make it impossible for the Press
to access public
In an unprecedented move, the Leader of the House, Patrick
yesterday adjourned Parliament after a record short five minutes
the Deputy Speaker, Edna Madzongwe, had led MPs in
Chinamasa did not mention the Bill which has been described by
the media as
draconian and fascist. Instead, he announced his intention to
Standing Rules and Orders today to allow the free passage of the
Rural Electrification Bill today, amid howls of disapproval from
Sources in Zanu PF said earlier, Jonathan Moyo,
the Minister of State for
Information and Publicity, had been repeatedly
denounced by fellow Zanu PF
MPs during the caucus for trying to settle
personal scores with individual
journalists through the Bill.
believed the Bill was put aside in order to avoid imminent sanctions
European Union (EU), which has given the government a deadline to
itself to Press freedom. The postponement of the Bill, sources said,
silent capitulation to that particular demand from the EU.
A Zanu PF
insider said: "Normally a Bill is supposed to have at least five
but this one has 36 amendments and this has never happened
before in the
history of this House."
The Bill, meant to unfairly boost President
Mugabe's re-election chances,
has received worldwide condemnation, with most
Zanu PF MPs
refusing to endorse it.
Eddison Zvobgo, a Zanu PF MP and
chairman of the parliamentary legal
committee, is said to have advised Moyo
and Chinamasa not to ram the Bill
down the MPs' throats.
said to have advised his colleagues to buy time through the
Electrification Bill to give MPs and the parliamentary legal committee
to study proposed amendments to the Bill.
Zvobgo is said to have
led the Zanu PF MPs in shooting down the Bill in the
face of a visibly angry
Moyo, who was only supported by Kadoma MP Paul
was standing in for Chinamasa during the Zanu PF caucus
meeting, is the
Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
told the Bill would not increase Zanu PF's chances in the
election. Despite the amendments, the Bill has retained some of
clauses which curtail freedom of the Press.
Criticising President Mugabe,
outlawed under the original Bill, has now been
removed. But it remains an
offence because a similar clause is enshrined in
the Public Order and
Security Bill, which Parliament passed last week.
Foreign media houses
will be allowed to establish offices in Zimbabwe, but
they will be required
to employ locals or permanent residents.
Under the amendments,
journalists and media houses will not be required to
get licences from Moyo.
Journalists will only be accredited by a Media
Commission, while media houses
will only need registration.
Outside Parliament, some Zanu PF MPs
yesterday blasted Moyo for trying to
abuse Parliament by bringing before it
legislation meant to settle his
personal vendettas against some sections of
the media. The disgruntled MPs
were discussing openly with journalists
outside Parliament soon after the
House adjourned yesterday.
him this morning that his Bill contained dangerous intentions to
the government and our party. It is not a piece of law that can be
any humane government. We refused to be part of his war against
of the media. This is Moyo's Bill," a Zanu PF MP said.
adjournment, another Zanu PF MP spoke to journalists before
House, saying: "This Bill will affect your livelihood. Come in
the demise of your careers. You are going to lose jobs, but we
have tried by
all means to ensure that it does not happen."
A dejected Moyo left
Parliament in a huff and was trailed by four
journalists from the
State-controlled Ziana, The Sunday Mail and The Herald
with The Sunday Mail
political editor Munyaradzi Huni leading the pack.
Anthrax ruled out, mystery powder unknown
8:27:52 AM (GMT +2)
THE Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare is still to name the bacteria found
on some envelopes at the
Causeway Post Office two weeks ago.
Tests have now proved that the
envelopes, one of which was addressed to
Jonathan Moyo, the junior Minister
in the Department of Information and
Publicity, did not contain anthrax
spores as earlier speculated by The
Herald and the ZBC.
Midzi, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare's deputy director
Prevention and Control, said they were still to identify
"There is no joy from the laboratory," he said. "We
might have to look for
another type of carpet lith so that we can find out
which bacteria it is."
Two postal workers fell ill after handling the
white powder in the
envelopes, intercepted at the post office.
Nkomo, the Minister of Home Affairs, later claimed that the suspected
attack was perpetrated by MDC and ex-Rhodesian activists opposed to
controversial land reform programme.
The MDC dismissed Nkomo's claim as
Downer to urge Zimbabwe expulsion
By Ian Henderson,
January 23, 2002
ALEXANDER Downer will be a
key player at a London meeting next week that
will consider the expulsion of
Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth.
The Foreign Minister will join his
counterparts from seven other member
nations to set the scene for the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on
the Sunshine Coast in early
Mr Downer has called for decisive Commonwealth action in response
draconian security and electoral laws imposed by Zimbabwean President
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, chaired by
Minister, Mompati Merafhe, will consider whether Zimbabwe
is living up to
the 1991 Harare Declaration, which requires Commonwealth
members to uphold
the rule of law, respect for human rights, democracy and
freedom of the
CMAG is likely to suspend Zimbabwe's membership
of the Commonwealth or
recommend that CHOGM suspend it.
Britain and Canada believe Zimbabwe's situation falls well short
standards set by the declaration.
If CMAG opts for a hard line, amid
violent clashes between militant
followers of Mr Mugabe and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change,
Zimbabwe will not be invited to
Leaders of the 54-member Commonwealth had been scheduled to meet
late last year but that gather ing was postponed after several
ministers, notably Britain's Tony Blair, decided to remain at home as
war against terrorism began.
Just how significant the issue of
Zimbabwe is at the Coolum gathering will
depend on the decisions of
But Mr Mugabe's responses to any CMAG decisions could raise or
temperature surrounding his country's future. On one hand, he might
defy any expulsion move and turn up at Coolum, to the
embarrassment of other participants. On the other, given that
Zimbabwe's election takes place within days of CHOGM, Mr Mugabe
might opt to
stay at home.
Zimbabwe is virtually certain to dominate
public and private discussions in
Coolum, but global terrorism will also be
high on the agenda.
While in London Mr Downer will chair the meeting of a
second small group of
Commonwealth foreign ministers, aiming to finalise a
plan of action to
combat international terrorism.
CHOGM members will
be encouraged to strengthen Commonwealth activities
In the informal atmosphere that pervades much of the biennial
Commonwealth leaders will, as usual, ponder the future of the
itself, its structure and its potential role in international
Party rebel puts Mugabe media curb on hold
Thornycroft in Harare
A MEDIA Bill intended by
President Robert Mugabe to silence his critics was
put on hold yesterday
after a revolt in parliament from within the ranks of
his own Zanu-PF
Dr Edison Zvobgo, a Zanu-PF founder who heads the parliamentary
committee, delayed the second reading of the Access to Information
Protection of Privacy Bill by being "unavailable" to present a report on
Bill to parliament.
The block appeared to have forced the
government to consider amending the
Bill, which has been widely criticised
for its threat to jail journalists if
they breach a "code of conduct", before
it comes before the house again next
It was the second time in
two days that Dr Zvobgo, a key member of
parliament, had obstructed the will
of his leader. Under the constitution,
Dr Zvobgo's committee must vet Bills
before they are put to a second vote.
On Tuesday his committee said an
amendment to labour legislation, which
would have outlawed strikes and trade
unions if they were seen to hurt the
economy, was in conflict with freedom of
association provisions in the
Yesterday, the media Bill,
which would have outlawed independent and foreign
journalists not approved by
the government, did not appear on the order
Political sources in Harare said that Dr Zvobgo and his
committee would have
found many clauses within the media Bill
Speaking in parliament, Patrick Chinamasa, Mr Mugabe's
said: "After some lengthy consultations with
organisations and the deliberation with honourable
members on my side, I
have suggested some amendments to the Access to
Information and Privacy
Bill." Parliament was adjourned until
Zanu-PF lobbyists are expected to try to strike a deal with Dr
submit his report if some of the Bill's more robust clauses are
Dr John Makumbe, a political analyst, said: "They are in a
remember, the president can rule by decree and that Bill, and the
to labour legislation, can still be put into law, and Zanu-PF
ahead of the elections."
President Mugabe faces the
strongest challenge yet to his 22-year rule from
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
in March's presidential
David Coltart, the shadow justice minister, said yesterday:
"Zanu PF want
these Bills pushed through, that's why they have adjourned
presumably so they can work on Zvobgo."
Dr Zvobgo was
one of the founders of Zanu-PF, and its main legal negotiator
Lancaster House talks in 1979 which led to Zimbabwe's independence.
recent years he fell out with Mr Mugabe because he criticised the way
party was run, particularly in his province, Masvingo, south of Harare.
was dropped from the cabinet and from the politburo but is on record
saying he would never leave Zanu-PF.
Several key members of Zanu-PF
were absent from parliament on key voting
days in the past few weeks,
including Simba Makoni, the finance minister who
chose to spend time on his
Meanwhile, there are shortages of maize meal, the staple
food, for a second
week, with most rural shops having run
Political sources said Mr Mugabe's cabinet is panicking as it
there is no way maize meal can be brought into Zimbabwe from
within three weeks.
Mugabe press bill invites sanctions
Chris McGreal and Andrew Meldrum in
Wednesday January 23, 2002
Robert Mugabe has
virtually guaranteed that international sanctions will be
imposed on Zimbabwe
by pressing ahead with draconian legislation allowing
his government to ban
newspapers and stop journalists reporting.
The government party, Zanu-PF,
resubmitted its press bill to parliament
yesterday with only minor changes,
five days after it said it would revise
it following a storm of foreign and
At the time Mr Mugabe assured southern African
leaders that Zimbabwe's
lively independent press would be allowed to continue
to publish. But the
revised bill gives the information minister the power to
decide who may work
as a reporter and which newspapers may publish.
clause which made it an offence to spread "fear and despondency has
dropped, but the bill retains the offence of spreading "rumours
falsehoods under the guise of authentic reports".
residence permits will be allowed to work as reporters, but
only with the
information minister's approval.
The decision to press ahead with this
bill, on the heals of tough new
security and election laws which are widely
seen as part of the govern
ment's strategy to steal the presidential election
in March, will reinforce
demands for the EU and Commonwealth to impose
selected sanctions on
The two organisations meet
separately next week.
But the president's more immediate concern is to
force the legislation
through parliament today.
Mr Mugabe is so
concerned about the unrest in Zanu-PF provoked by the bill
and the other new
laws - one effectively bans the right to strike - that he
whips to harangue MPs yesterday.
The government was forced to withdraw
its original press bill after a revolt
in parliament last week led by Eddison
Zvobgo, once one of Mr Mugabe's
closest allies, now a key obstacle to his
Fifteen years ago Mr Zvobgo, a Harvard-trained lawyer,
constitution to give sweeping new powers to the president. For a
he was seen as likely to succeed Mr Mugabe, but his undisguised
to a rift.
In September 2000 Mr Zvobgo attacked the
government's seizure of white-owned
farms, saying: "We have tainted what was
a glorious revolution, reducing it
to some agrarian racist enterprise. We
have behaved as if the world owes us
a living. It does not."
Media bill delay may be warning to
bill inspires virtually unheard of dissent from Zanu (PF)
DISSENT is growing within President Robert Mugabe's ruling
Zanu (PF) party
over Draconian media laws designed to muzzle the press and
information ahead of the presidential election in March.
the first sign of cracks in Mugabe's own party as the presidential
approaches, the government failed again yesterday for the second
time in a
week to introduce in parliament the Access to Information and
Privacy Bill in the face of mounting resistance in cabinet
The bill, along with several other pieces of
repressive legislation, has
been severely criticised internationally since it
was first publicised. An
amended bill, which eases proposed curbs to press
freedom ever so slightly,
was released yesterday.
In the short term,
yesterday's delay hinders efforts by Jonathan Moyo,
minister and staunch ally, to gag the media. But in the
medium term the
delay, caused by opposition from Zanu (PF) MPs to the media
Mugabe's grip is loosening and that he faces a tough campaign
Moyo is an unelected MP appointed by Mugabe.
of the House Patrick Chinamasa was forced to delay debate on the bill
second time yesterday because of heightening opposition within Zanu
unheard of occurrence in Zimbabwean politics to the legislation that
party members described as Draconian and "fundamentally flawed".
In a key
setback to Mugabe's efforts to suppress challenges to his rule
ahead of the
election, official sources said the bill was held back after a
caucus meeting yesterday morning at which MPs refused to be
whipped into line
The move to frustrate Moyo's legislative efforts is seen as a
rare act of
defiance against Mugabe.
The caucus refusal to endorse the
law shows the extent of the dissent within
Zanu (PF) over Mugabe's rule. This
first emerged with opposition to the
Labour Relations Amendment Bill, which
sought to outlaw strikes, by
parliament's legal affairs committee, chaired by
Eddison Zvobgo, Mugabe's
But this week, in a
confidential document, the parliamentary communications
committee also came
out against the media bill. Though chaired by the
opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), the committee is dominated,
like all others, by Zanu
(PF) MPs. It not clear when the amended bill will
be introduced. Sources said
it contained 39 amendments.
Zvobgo's legal affairs committee will examine
it before another attempt is
made to squeeze it through the
Zvobgo is said to have indicated it would be futile for government
the bill through in its current form because ruling party legislators
not support it. Sources said there were internal dynamics in Zanu
causing the ruction.
Sources said another problem was the bad
blood between Zvobgo, and allies
Moyo and Mugabe. The rivalry got worse two
years ago during the abortive
government-sponsored Constitutional Commission
of Inquiry. Moyo clashed with
Zvobgo over the reform exercise and their
relations have since been
Moyo is Mugabe's adherent while
Zvobgo has literally become the president's
Delay sparks speculation over Zanu-PF split
Tuesday January 22, 2002
Zimbabwe's government has
postponed a parliamentary debate on President
Mugabe's controversial media
bill, prompting speculation that his own party
is divided over whether the
legislation should be forced through.
Debate on the bill, which would bar
foreign correspondents, including the
Guardian's Andrew Meldrum, from the
country and impose new penalties for
reporting that would cause "alarm and
despondency", was due to begin today.
Zimbabwean justice minister,
Patrick Chinamasa, adjourned parliament until
tomorrow and did not say when
the media bill would be brought back before
access to information and protection of privacy bill has
criticism from media groups both in Zimbabwe and abroad.
Some of the
government's supporters also feel that forcing the bill through
Mugabe's chances of victory in the upcoming election.
The Independent (UK)
Mugabe's allies revolt over press freedom law
Basildon Peta in Harare
23 January 2002
The Zimbabwean President faced a
rebellion by some of his closest allies
yesterday when they refused to
endorse a media law that seeks to stifle
criticism of Robert Mugabe and shut
down the free press.
The unexpected revolt in the ruling party's caucus,
which could be a turning
point for Mr Mugabe, forced the government to
postpone the adoption of the
Bill for the second time in less than a
The delay came after many MPs in the Zimbabwe African
Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), the ruling party, broke ranks by
they were opposed to Mr Mugabe's Access to Information and Protection
Privacy Bill, whose restrictive clauses have sparked worldwide
The Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, had promised that the
Bill would be
approved, but yesterday he suddenly adjourned parliament
when the measures would be considered next.
was immediate speculation that Mr Mugabe might bow to international
and that the Bill might be permanently shelved. But analysts
the recalcitrant MPs might yet be brought into line by Mr
Mugabe and forced
to push through the Bill or face serious consequences.
Even among the
President's cronies, the Bill is viewed as the worst of the
legislation passed by Zimbabwe's parliament before the
A Zanu-PF legislator who attended the caucus meeting said:
"We are sick and
tired of being used to pass repressive laws aimed at
hold on power while the masses are suffering. We would
rather spend time
campaigning for Mugabe in our constituencies so that he
wins a free and fair
election, instead of being used to rubber-stamp laws
The proposed law would impose
stiff jail sentences on Zimbabwean journalists
criticising President Mugabe,
and require them to apply for annual licences.
It would also ban foreign
journalists from working in the country or
publishing stories that cause
"fear, alarm and despondency".
The parliamentary committee responsible
for scrutinising Bills and making
recommendations to parliament rejected the
media law as unconstitutional
last week, forcing the Justice Minister to
postpone consideration while
amendments were drafted.
MPs said that despite some 36 amendments the Bill was still too
and differed little from the one they had rejected.
MUGABE FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE
Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the 77-year-old
incumbent President of Zimbabwe, epitomises everything which has gone wrong in
Africa over the past five decades.
Using a Fascist and dictatorial style, he
is an anachronism in the 21st Century. His manic and senseless policies have
systematically led what was once a rich country to ruin and now his agrarian
policy is set to become a lasting disaster, as the one remaining staple of
Zimbabwe s economy is destroyed.
With an election looming, there have been
numerous reports of suppression of political opponents, including beatings and
threats, while Mugabe himself declares that the members of opposition parties
Now, arriving at Blantyre, the capital of Malawi, for the
Southern African Development Community summit, he declared that Britain s Prime
Minister Tony Blair wants his own version of colonialism but we will resist this
The only reason why Mugabe will allow international observers at the
elections on 10th March is because so much pressure was put on him by the
European Union, the Commonwealth and the United States of America.
President of neighbouring Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, declares that he is
worried by the fact that the heads of Zimbabwe’s armed forces have expressed
their total support for Mugabe remaining in power, because this hints that they
would be opposed to the democratic election of the main opposition candidate,
Draconian measures taken against the Media have done
nothing to alleviate the suspicion that Mugabe will do whatever he can to rig
the elections and thereafter proceed with a brutal clampdown on the opposition
Mugabe is not needed by his people or by Africa. It is hoped
that the international observers will be allowed to carry out their work
unhindered while his people vote him swiftly out of office, before this fascist
is tried for his crimes and sentenced.
Journalists unite as threat to
the first of a series of regular columns, Andrew Meldrum, the Guardian's
Zimbabwe correspondent, reports on Robert Mugabe's attempts to pass draconian
laws restricting the media
Wednesday January 23, 2002
TUESDAY JANUARY 22 2002
7am: Start the day with a
sense of dread. The state radio and television broadcast announcements calling
for all Zanu-PF members of parliament to go to a caucus meeting in the morning
and attend parliament in the afternoon. Also today, President Mugabe is
addressing the Zanu-PF politburo.
Clearly Mugabe is trying to galvanize support for the access to information
and protection of privacy bill. If it is passed the country's lively independent
press will be forced to close down. Most likely, I will be forced to leave the
10am: Inflation rises to 112%. The government's central statistical
office releases figures that confirm what everybody feels - prices are going sky
high. And even with such inflation, staple foods are hard to get. Supermarkets
do not have maize meal, cooking oil or sugar, which are staples in the average
Zimbabwean's diet. No control of the press can hide that.
11am: Talk with other journalists at news agencies and from local
papers. The only good thing to come out of the threat of this press bill is the
solidarity forged among Zimbabwean and foreign journalists. We all see the bill
as unacceptable. We stood together in a vigil at parliament until police
dispersed us. And we worked together on a protest petition, which we presented
to parliament. We say we will challenge the bill in court as unconstitutional
and we will defy the law by continuing to work as usual.
2.15pm: Members of parliament, journalists, diplomats and interested
members of public file into the house of assembly. Within five minutes
parliament is adjourned. I mill about and find some MPs, who tell me the press
bill has 36 amendments and the legal committee must study them before it can be
submitted to parliament on Wednesday.
2.45pm: No one has a list of the amendments but I find an MP, who is
on the legal committee, and he lends me his to make a copy. Soon three
Zimbabwean journalists and I are scanning the amendments and getting copies
made. We find the bill essentially the same, with a few minor changes. One of
the biggest changes is that foreign journalists with permanent residence status
are eligible to be accredited. It means I may be able to stay and work in
5pm-7pm: Work on story for the Guardian about the amendments. It
really seems the thrust of the bill remains unchanged. It puts heavy
restrictions on journalists and newspapers and it gives the minister of
information and his media commission sweeping powers to give accreditation and
to take it away. In other words, they have the authority to determine which
journalists can work and which newspapers can print. It is clearly against
Zimbabwe's constitution and it will be interesting to see what the parliamentary
legal committee decides to say about the revised bill.