|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Following on last night’s alert on the latest campaign against the Amani Trust, there have been a series of new and very disturbing developments. As I reported last night, the state news media had claimed that an Amani vehicle had been identified as one of the vehicles ferrying the alleged attackers into Kuwadzana on Monday night. This allegation was repeated in the Herald this morning where the state-owned newspaper claimed the following:
At least three vehicles linked to the attack have also been impounded and one of them is believed to belong to Amani Trust, which kept safe houses in various high density suburbs, housing opposition youths on the Police wanted list.
These allegations are being repeated regularly by the state-controlled radio.
The Trust has also been informed by a friendly source that there are plans to firebomb the Amani offices tonight.
These allegations are wholly unfounded, but consistent with the continuous attacks that have been mounted against the Trust over the past year. The threat to actually firebomb the offices must be taken very seriously in view of the attacks in the past on the Daily News and the Voice of the People radio station.
There must therefore be
concern for the safety of the staff and Trustees of the Amani Trust, and we hope
that calls will be made upon the government of
Tel: +27-(0)84-764 6995
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition regrets Monday night’s petrol bomb attack in Kuwadzana and sends its deepest condolences to the family of those killed and injured in the attack.
However the Coalition unreservedly condemns efforts by the government to try and place blame for the attack on the Amani Trust. The Coalition has it on sound authority that Amani Trust vehicles are grounded without fuel and were therefore nowhere near Kuwadzana on the fateful night.
In the past government has used similar contrived allegations to manipulate public opinion and create a smoke screen in advance of a so-called “retaliatory” attack on legitimate organisations who are seeking creative solutions to Zimbabwe’s current crises.
In particular the Coalition notes with grave concern the government’s sustained attack against media and other groups involved in the documentation of human rights abuses.
Mr Hain, minister for the EU, told the BBC's Newsnight programme the Zimbabwean president "was not welcome" in Europe.
European Union foreign ministers will decide next week whether to renew sanctions against Zimbabwe, including a travel ban for the country's rulers.
If they do not, Mr Mugabe would be able - if invited by France - to attend the summit on February 19.
Mr Hain's comments suggest the UK government is opposed to such a relaxation of restrictions.
To be personally invited by the president of France is outrageous
Shadow foreign secretary
"Our views on his odious regime are well known and the way he is devastating his country.
"I am sure the French share that view."
Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, Tony Blair said the government stood behind travel restrictions on the Zimbabwe president.
The prime minister's spokesman said another set of sanctions would have to be agreed unanimously and the French had yet to submit a proposal over their planned Paris summit.
"This is a live issue. It will obviously be discussed on Monday. There's been no formal proposal yet from the French government and I'm not going to pre-empt our government's position," said the spokesman.
Yves Charpentier, head of press at the French Embassy in London, confirmed France was considering inviting President Mugabe to the summit, but stressed: "Nothing has been decided yet.
"We will be discussing this among the EU members at next week's meeting."
But the Tories demanded to know whether the UK had approved a visit to France by Mr Mugabe at the invitation of Jacques Chirac.
Mr Blair said: "We've made it clear that we support the sanctions in place against Zimbabwe."
The Foreign Office earlier said it had had no request to waive an EU imposed travel ban on Mr Mugabe.
The summit was a matter for the French authorities, Downing Street said.
To allow Mr Mugabe to strut his stuff in Paris would be absolutely unacceptable
Lib Dem foreign affairs
Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Michael Ancram said it was "hypocrisy of the highest order" for Mr Chirac to invite Mugabe when EU sanctions were supposed to ban travel within the union by Zimbabwe's rulers.
"President Chirac is well aware not only of the dire situation in Zimbabwe but that there are travel restrictions in force," said Mr Ancram.
He stressed: "No Franco-African summit can be exempt from the EU sanctions.
"It is bad enough that Mugabe and his thugs can attend UN-sponsored meetings in Europe, but to be personally invited by the president of France is outrageous.
"While it may not be intentional, this can only be interpreted as condoning genocide by starvation, ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and the destruction of the rule of law."
Menzies Campbell MP, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said Mr Mugabe should not be welcomed anywhere in the EU.
"To allow Mr Mugabe to strut his stuff in Paris would be absolutely unacceptable," said Mr Campbell.
REPORT ON MEETING WITH MINISTER MADE
Minister Made personally called President Cloete on his cell phone and suggested that it was time a meeting was held between him and the CFU. The meeting was arranged for 9.00am Tuesday 21st January. The Minister also commented that he had heard that Cloete had been trying to see the State President.
At the meeting the CFU was represented by President Colin Cloete, Vice President Doug Taylor-Freeme and Director Hendrik Olivier. This meeting is significant in that the Union has not met formally with the Minister for more than 18 months.
The Ministers opening remarks were that we had been at each other’s throats for the last 30 months and this was understandable. However, prevailing circumstances indicated that we need to move forward.
He only commented that the one man one farm issue was an interesting one and that was all he would say on it. He referred to the land tax proposals as not practical and the idea had been shelved, and that farm size regulations were under review. He was happy the way the A1 resettlement scheme was progressing. However, it was no secret that the A2 scheme needed to be relooked at and that it was under review.
The Minister referred to LA forms for delisting stating he was not happy with them and would not sign any. The Minister spent a lot of time emphasing that he is the acquiring authority and did not recognize any deals done at a local level with officials in districts. He insisted he has three instruments with which to acquire land; - Section 5, Section 8 and Section 7. He said that farmers have two choices – on receiving a Section 5 notice either go through the courts and the Section 7 process, which could take up to 5 years - or each farmer could come to see him and discuss their individual circumstances.
The Minister said that if farmers are in the position to farm they must – the country needs food security and cannot rely on other countries to feed Zimbabwe. He gave assurances that if a farmer had planted a crop it would not be taken away. He said that the livestock sector needed to be built up again and acknowledged that the dairy industry had been treated favourably but warned that this was not to be viewed as a white preserve. He said every province had some lowveld land, which had to be developed for irrigation, especially for winter maize in the interest of food security. He made reference to the Nuanetsi project and the Chirundu and Charara proposed irrigation schemes, and indicated Governments intention to motivate these projects into production.
However, he said that these new projects and the new farmers needed equipment for mechanization. He stated that there are tractors, combines; irrigation equipment etc sitting in warehouses in town and that ARDA was in the market to buy this equipment, and could we pass on this message to the farmers who may be interested in selling. He also said that if farmers did not want to sell, would they consider hiring this equipment for a fee?
He passed a comment that he had noted that farmers were settling in other countries in the region and expressed concern that they were trying to move equipment out of Zimbabwe, and reminded us of the law banning the movement of equipment outside Zimbabwe. He acknowledged that moveable assets belonged to the owner and he could not force them to sell.
A discussion took place on the availability of inputs, such as fuel, chemicals, fertilizer and coal. The Minister said that an Arabian Bank had helped us out with some foreign currency for fuel and he would talk to the Minister of Energy and ask him to prioritize fuel for tillage. He indicated that he was to meet with the South African Foreign Minister and he would be discussing with her for help on raw materials and finished goods from South Africa to address the fertilizer and chemical requirements. He appreciated there was a coal crisis and understood that some new farmers were losing tobacco because of no coal, but never offered a solution.
President Cloete said some farmers were storing equipment for safe keeping in the hope they would be able to farm again and emphasized that CFU Members are Zimbabweans and are committed to the well being of our country. We wished to be helpful where we could to overcome the crisis the country is experiencing.
The meeting was an icebreaker. The Minister did most of the talking. At no time did the CFU pledge all the equipment to Government as is suggested in the media today. Equipment is owned by individuals not the Union.
Having heard what the Ministers position is, this will be helpful in future meetings with him, where we hope to get into deeper discussions on bread and butter issues.
We are also aware that some of the points the Minister has indicated are not necessarily happening on the ground.
Doug Taylor Freeme
Harare, 23 January 2003
Your Excellencies, I have humbly requested you to come here today in order to express my grave concern at how the Zimbabwe crisis seems to be fast disappearing on the horizon of international attention.
It is indeed a great tragedy that influential countries in Africa and the rest of the international community only accept the existence of crises of governance in Africa when it is too late and after thousands of innocent people will have been slaughtered. Zimbabwe today is one such country in which the symptoms and makings of an unfolding great tragedy have been on the wall for Africa and the rest of the international community to see but there has been no sense of urgency to forestall the catastrophe.
Tragically, supposedly leading countries in Africa, such as South Africa and Nigeria are now on the forefront, chiding the international community for its condemnation of the brutal Mugabe regime; denying the existence of the tragic circumstances in which Zimbabweans find themselves; cheering Mugabe in the name of a dubious African brotherhood to go on perpetrating the outrage and waiting for the policies of the Mugabe regime to produce mass graves which they regard as an adequate and sufficient definition of the existence of a crisis in Zimbabwe.
If this is an expression of the so-called African solutions to African problems, or an early manifestation of the so-called NEPAD peer review mechanism, then Africa is fated or condemned to remain a beleaguered and crisis-ridden continent for a long time to come.
Your Excellencies will recall that immediately after the rigged March 2002 presidential poll, and in what now appears to have been a sinister parallel process to the mission of the Commonwealth Troika, Nigeria and South Africa offered themselves as mediators in the search for a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. We in the MDC accepted the offer in good faith and in line with our firm commitment to pacific resolution of political disputes.
However, we now realize that the offer was nothing but a cynical and cruel act of deception. The real strategy and ill-intention of these two countries was simply to give Zimbabweans a false sense of hope and thereby buy time for Mugabe to make good his bloody electoral fraud and consolidate his dictatorship. They are now convinced that Mugabe has now achieved both objectives and have now embarked on the last steps to legitimise him. In pursuit of this desperate strategy, Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki have now come out openly in support of the Mugabe dictatorship against the people and forces of democracy in Zimbabwe. They have publicly expressed their determination to subvert their terms of reference and repudiate their expected impartial and objective role in the Commonwealth Troika. As a result, the forthcoming Commonwealth Troika meeting in South Africa is now a cruel gimmick and serious opinion in the international community must totally ignore the incoherent rants that will emanate from it.
Only this week, the Nigerian Foreign Minister, Mr. Sule Lamido was in Harare conferring with Mugabe. We only got to know about it in the media. He never bothered to consult with the MDC leadership. His message to Zimbabweans was as clear as it was brutal. In essence, his message was that Nigeria would continue to buttress Mugabe in his quest to maintain tyrannical rule over Zimbabweans.
It is unfortunate that even at this late hour, Nigeria as spelt out by Mr. Lamido, continues to dishonestly and deliberately misread the nature of the political crisis in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe crisis has never been and is not a racial issue between black and white.
The people being starved to death are not white; the majority of those killed by the regime’s killing machine are not white; those who languish in jail as I speak to you and are subjected to incessant torture and subhuman conditions are not white; those in the rural areas who are daily subjected to brutal treatment are not white. It is therefore despicable and cheap for anyone to reduce such a tragedy to an issue of race for the sake of a fake African brotherhood and political expediency.
Crying out when our people are being brutalized and murdered does not make us surrogates or puppets of anybody. Instead it makes us human, together with the international community.
Only yesterday the South African Foreign Minister, Dr. Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma arrived in Harare, and we can only guess that she is on a similar a mission similar to that of Mr. Lamido. Past experience tells us that Dr. Dhlamini-Zuma will not even bother to hold consultations with the MDC. The last time Dr. Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma was here she even refused to accept that the murder, torture, political violence, rape and all the other brutalities associated with the Mugabe regime constituted a crisis that continuously beckon for international attention.
Your Excellencies, the credentials and bona fides of the MDC as a Zimbabwean national political party that articulates and expresses the national interests of Zimbabweans are a matter of public record. We do not beg and will never beg for recognition from any one, not even from the mighty South African and Nigerian presidents. The people of Zimbabwe have long granted us that recognition and no one can wish us away. We won the March 2002 presidential poll and that is why we are here today. How can any normal person ignore that?
We won 57 seats in the June 2000 parliamentary elections; we have challenged a total of 37 seats in the courts and seven of those have been declared invalid; we control 5 major cities including Harare, the capital city and the commercial and intellectual heart of the nation; we control Bulawayo and Chitungwiza, the second and third largest cities respectively. These are cities inhabited by genuine and patriotic Zimbabweans who are not puppets of anyone. They are just tired of corrupt and murderous regime that feeds on its own people.
There cannot and will never be any solution to the current crisis in Zimbabwe without the participation of the MDC as a party which carries the legitimate mandate of the people of Zimbabwe.
For a people who have just come out of the shackles of some of the most brutal dictatorial regimes in African history and benefited from the active and positive intervention of the international community, Nigerian and South African memories are surely very short and defective.
It is this kind of behaviour and arrogance that points to the existence of a sinister and active plot or conspiracy on the part of Nigeria and South Africa to lead the way in legitimising a murderous and brutal illegitimate regime.
Let me say this clearly to Nigeria and South Africa: They are simply deluding themselves and Mugabe, their ally against the people of Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe will never, never accept this little strategy of repackaging and sanitizing the Mugabe tyranny. Together with Mugabe, Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki will bear a very heavy responsibility for the results of the catastrophic path that they are deliberately charting for Zimbabwe.
As Mr. Mbeki prepares for the London meeting with Mr. Blair, we want to make it quite clear to Her Majesty’s government that we in the MDC, representing the majority of Zimbabweans, do not regard Mr. Mbeki as an honest broker. He has amply demonstrated his total unwillingness to come to terms with, and incapacity to assess the deteriorating and dangerous Zimbabwe situation objectively.
He is however free to carry a brief from and repeat and broadcast the political positions of ZANU PF, which is something he has been doing quite well for some time now.
We thank the remainder of the Commonwealth, the European Union, the United States of America and the rest of international community who have firmly stood by us in confronting the Mugabe tyranny. We call upon them to remain steadfast as we embark on the final push against this primitive and predatory dictatorship.
We are however dismayed by the emerging discordant voices coming from certain quarters within the EU, particularly from France and Portugal. Whilst we appreciate the significance attached to the February 2003 Francophone Summit and the April 2003 Lisbon EU/ACP Summit, we are convinced that efforts to rehabilitate an openly illegitimate and murderous regime can only be counterproductive in the long run.
Any avenue granted to Mugabe to attend international meetings at which he is treated as a statesman and an equal is an affront to the feelings of the people of Zimbabwe. It amounts to a recognition and support of Mugabe’s gruesome record at home. The people of Zimbabwe remember only too well that France and Portugal maintained ties and actively supported the illegal Smith regime when all the international community isolated that racist regime. We remember the weapons provided to Ian Smith to enable him to suppress the people of Zimbabwe in their struggle for democracy and justice.
It is a tragedy that France and Portugal are now repeating the same mistake. They are maintaining a tradition of siding and supporting dictatorships against the democratic aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. The irony is that this betrays the gallant history of the French people who manufactured and exported to the whole world, through the French Revolution, the now universal values of liberty, democracy and justice.
To Paris and Lisbon we have a clear message: Your place is not at the same table with Robert Mugabe, toasting goblets of the blood of innocent women and children. As part of the great democracies of the world, your place is among the brutalized and oppressed people of Zimbabwe as they struggle to rid themselves of this burdensome yoke of tyranny. Like you, Zimbabweans crave to live in a democratic country, characterized by the rule of law, respect for human rights, peace, stability, security and economic progress. These are not EU values. They are universal human values. Zimbabweans too yearn to live under such gentle bonds.
Your Excellencies, the situation has deteriorated since the fraudulent March 2002 presidential poll. Political violence has become the permanent centrepiece of the Mugabe regime’s governance strategy; in fact political violence is the only policy that this regime is implementing; the rule of law continues to be violated; the judiciary is systematically subverted.
Law enforcement continues to be partisan; the militarisation of politics is now complete and any pretence to democratic politics has been effectively subverted through systematic state-sponsored violence as the world witnessed in the recent local government elections.
The operations of local government units that the MDC democratically won and therefore controls are being strangled with the Mayors being brutalized; the man-made famine that is stalking the nation is now actively complemented by the genocidal policy of denying food to perceived political opponents.
HIV/Aids is wreaking havoc on the most productive section of the population. Hunger and the total collapse of the health sector have worsened the problem.
The state of the economy completes this catastrophic picture. Half of the nearly 12 million population of Zimbabwe face starvation and the Mugabe regime has no money to buy food; fuel shortages have ground the country to a virtual stand still; industry has collapsed and unemployment is conservatively estimated to be in the region of 70%; the GDP dropped by –12.1% in 2002; and by the regime’s own figures, inflation now stands at over 200%, but independent experts place commodities inflation at the much higher figure of 500%.
Poverty has increased to unprecedented levels with over 80% of the population living below the poverty datum line of less than US$1 a day. Foreign currency inflows have virtually dried up, registering a miserly US$ 500 000 in the month of December 2002. The Mugabe regime is therefore both politically and economically bankrupt.
In the face of this economic collapse and sustained tyrannical and brutal rule, the tolerance of the population has been stretched to the limit. The Zimbabwe population is now more restive than at any time since the June 2000 parliamentary elections; and I want to say once again, that we have reached a stage whereby we can no longer counsel patience on such a dangerously restive population.
There is clearly a red light flushing for the Mugabe regime to stop. There is a gathering storm of the people’s anger, we have no power to stop it, and we refuse to take responsibility for whatever transpires.
Your Excellencies, you will have by now heard of attempts by the Mugabe regime to engage the MDC through some shadowy emissaries. The sum total of those efforts was to try to bring the MDC into some kind of political arrangement designed to legitimise the Mugabe regime. While we remain committed to the peaceful settlement of political disputes, we rejected those overtures as sinister and insincere for three reasons:
First, democracy and democratic politics means that a political party that carries the mandate of the electorate must be allowed, unimpeded, to form a government that expresses the general popular will of the people. Consequently any formula to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis must, necessarily, either chart a permanent path towards a recognition of this sacred fact or at the very least, develop a road map for a return to legitimacy through a free and fair presidential poll observed and monitored by the international community. We in the MDC have the mandate of the people of Zimbabwe and therefore democratically we are the senior partners in the Zimbabwe political equation. ZANU PF must not be allowed to abrogate that reality and, through force of arms dictate the terms of a political settlement.
Second, ZANU PF has never made it a secret that the test for the viability and sustainability of any political solution is its acceptance by those commanders of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces who are highly politicised along partisan lines. We totally reject this blackmail and the holding of democratic politics to ransom. The ZDF should be a national institution, which is totally outside organized political party politics and should not intervene in political contests among political parties.
It is the people of Zimbabwe and not a politicised officer corps who have the mandate and the legitimacy to play the role of kingmakers in Zimbabwean politics. We will never compromise on this sacred reality.
Third, the Mugabe regime continues to target and destroy MDC party structures and arrest MDC leaders on trumped up charges in order to torture them. A number of MDC party functionaries have been tortured and subsequently died as a result. Just recently Stephen Chasara and Davies Mtetwa both members of the Chitungwiza MDC executive died within three months of each other as a result of the torture inflicted upon them while in police custody. A number of our MPs are routinely arrested and tortured while in police custody. Latest examples are Job Sikhala, MP for the St Marys constituency in Chitungwiza; Paurina Mpariwa MP for Mufakose in Harare; Paul Madzore MP for Glen View, also in Harare. All three were arrested and tortured in just one week. Many more have been tortured and will continue to be tortured. Torture is a crime against humanity. We could not therefore agree to engage a government, which routinely tortures our MPs and party officials.
However, we remain committed and available to engage in any serious process or engagement, which charts a path towards a peaceful resolution of the Zimbabwean political crisis. Our position for the way forward is quite clear.
We believe that the crisis in Zimbabwe has degenerated to such dangerous levels that it is time to abandon regional or sectional efforts in favour of the intervention by the international community through the United Nations Security Council, in accordance with Article 39 (Chapter 7 powers) of the United Nations Charter.
The Mugabe regime now clearly constitutes a threat to regional security and stability. It is daily committing crimes against humanity recognized as such by the international community and the United Nations.
Any dialogue towards a political solution must be based on a firm commitment to return the country to legitimate government. In order to create a national atmosphere in which meaningful dialogue can take place, the Mugabe regime must be forced to role back its programme of misrule.
Political violence, torture, human rights violations and political repression must come to a full stop;
The abuse of the criminal justice system and the police force must stop;
The rule of law must be upheld and selective law enforcement must stop;
The politicisation and use of the uniformed and security forces as political organs of ZANU PF must come to an end; repressive laws such as POSA and AIPPA must be repealed;
Militias must be disbanded and war veterans must be disarmed;
The politicisation food relief distribution must be abandoned;
And there must be an end to abuse of the regime-controlled electronic and print media.
Without the implementation of these steps to return the country to some semblance of order, we will not accept and the international community must reject any pretence on the part of ZANU PF to engage on a serious dialogue to return the country to legitimacy.
We are opposed to a government of national unity or any form of political arrangement that seeks to legitimise the Mugabe regime. However we are prepared to take part in a transitional authority, without executive governmental functions.
The terms of reference of such an authority must be specifically to lay down the administrative framework for a return to legitimacy through fresh presidential and legislative polls with unfettered observation by the international community. We are convinced that there is no other way out of the political crisis except through the ballot box.
The Mugabe regime cannot be trusted to preside over the dismantling of its tyrannical rule and therefore the role of the international community through the United Nations Security Council is quite critical to the success of such a process.
We in the MDC remain ready to play our part in the peaceful resolution to the problems that face our country. We have stated in the past and we would like to state again that we in the MDC seek no revenge or vengeance for the injuries of the past.
We shall never allow the hatreds of the past to affect the future. We do not and will never subscribe to the politics of retribution. We understand Mugabe’s wish and yearnings for a dignified exit and we are ready to play a constructive and positive role in such an exercise.
But time is running out. The people’s anger has reached alarming and explosive levels and we may no longer have any capacity to control them. The persistent suffering of the people may collectively result in a people's storm, which may turn out to be a tragic but simplifying catastrophe.