Zim wants dispute declared with EU
1/31/02 2:43:02 AM (GMT +2)
THE Zimbabwe government yesterday said it wanted a dispute declared between
itself and the European Union (EU) under Article 98 of the Cotonou agreement
governing relations between EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)
Responding to threats of sanctions by the EU on Zimbabwean
leaders for their failure to uphold democracy and human rights, Foreign Affairs
Minister Stan Mudenge told a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
ministerial task force on Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday that the EU had ignored
"We therefore intend to exercise our right to invoke the provisions of
Article 98 of the Cotonou agreement to declare a dispute between Zimbabwe and
Mudenge accused London of rallying both the EU and the 54-nation
Commonwealth group against Zimbabwe in a bid to stop it from seizing white-owned
He spoke as a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG),
a key panel, was underway in London to debate whether to immediately suspend
Zimbabwe from the club of former British colonies for gross human rights abuses.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, addressing CMAG yesterday, urged the
panel to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth to pressure the government to
end rising violence and ensure a free and fair presidential election on March 9
The SADC task force is in Zimbabwe to review how far the government has
fulfilled promises it gave three weeks at a SADC leaders' summit that it will
act on violence and lawlessness which have killed more than 100 people in the
past two years.
Most of those killed have been opposition followers, including nine white
The EU on Monday gave President Robert Mugabe until February 3 to ensure
the March ballot is fair and that it is witnessed by international observers and
media or face sanctions that will target him personally and his top officials
and not Zimbabwe.
Under Article 98, the dispute between Harare and Brussels would have to be
first referred to EU/ACP ambassadors and then to a council of foreign ministers
of the two blocs before being sent for arbitration.
But top EU diplomats in Harare said this process would still not stop the
impositions of sanctions by the EU if Zimbabwe failed to ensure a fair
presidential ballot and if it did not uphold human rights and democracy.
Mugabe snubs Obasanjo again
1/31/02 2:46:44 AM (GMT +2)
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe flatly refused to join Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo in a meeting with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai at State House in
Harare last week, diplomatic sources said this week.
The visiting Nigerian leader, who met Tsvangirai alone at Mugabe's
residence for three hours early last Monday morning, had tried to broker a
meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, the two chief opponents in the crucial
March 9 and 10 presidential election.
Obasanjo was approached by Zimbabwe to help ease strained relations between
the southern African country and Britain, its former colonial master, following
a standoff caused by the invasions of white-owned farms by Mugabe's supporters
and the breakdown of law and order.
The Nigerian leader played midwife to the stillborn Abuja agreement on land
reform signed by both Harare and London in the Nigerian capital in September
The agreement has failed to take off because of Mugabe's reluctance to rein
in lawless supporters of his ruling ZANU PF party, including self-styled war
veterans who continue to defy Abuja by forcibly occupying new commercial farms.
Britain has refused to release money for the land reform plan until Harare
adheres to the agreement and to Whitehall's pre-requisites of a transparent,
rational and legal land reform programme and the cessation of hostilities
against the opposition and the media.
Obasanjo has however continued undeterred with his mission to help solve
the Zimbabwe crisis and last week tried to set up a meeting between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai in Harare but the Zimbabwean leader flatly turned down his request,
the sources said.
"The fact that he has turned down Obasanjo's request once again to meet
Tsvangirai, especially at this time, is a sign that Mugabe is not prepared to
give up his fight to retain power at all costs," one diplomat said.
At his meeting with Tsvangirai, Obasanjo is reported to have asked the
opposition leader, who is widely expected to win the March ballot if it is free
and fair, to guarantee a safe and honourable exit from power for Mugabe should
the veteran Zimbabwean politician lose the election, the most fiercely contested
since independence in 1980. - Staff
Obasanjo launches bargain for safe Mugabe exit
By David Masunda Deputy Editor-in-Chief
1/31/02 2:49:01 AM (GMT
THE midnight rendezvous in Harare last week between visiting
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has set in motion the protocol for President Robert Mugabe's
departure from State House after the March poll that he is widely expected to
lose, experts said this week.
Tsvangirai last week said the Nigerian president requested safe passage for
Mugabe when the two met at State House for three hours and that the ZANU PF
leader be treated with respect if he loses the highly contested election.
Obasanjo also wanted an assurance that Mugabe would be given enough time to
vacate State House, his home for the past 21 years.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since independence from Britain
in 1980 but faces the biggest test of his rule of two decades from Tsvangirai,
the veteran trade unionist and founder of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Analysts say the ageing former guerrilla leader, now increasingly isolated,
cannot win a free and fair poll in March because of his mismanagement of the
economy and his administration's rampant corruption blamed for Zimbabwe's
Richard Cornwell of the South Africa Institute of Security Studies said
southern African leaders from South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique were already
persuading Mugabe to leave office peacefully if he lost the March 9 and 10
"The African leaders are trying to persuade Mugabe that it's not in his
best interest to rig the March election and that should he lose, he will be
provided with an exit strategy," Cornwell told the Financial Gazette by
telephone from Pretoria.
He said the South African government might also be cobbling up an exit
package to help ease Mugabe's retirement, as it did for former Zambian president
Kenneth Kaunda when Frederick Chiluba defeated him in 1990.
The South African government provided Kaunda with a retirement home in
Pretoria and later persuaded the Zambian leader to quit the political stage
"Mugabe could also be treated like a regional elder statesman just like
former South African president Nelson Mandela," Cornwell observed.
Cornwell was however doubtful that Mugabe would bow out gracefully and
cautioned that he might still try to hang onto power even if he lost the popular
"Losing is one thing and accepting defeat or announcing one's own defeat is
another," he said, adding that the only safety net left to ensure Mugabe's
departure was the growing discontent against his rule within the governing ZANU
Besides the outcome of the March election, said Cornwell, what might hasten
Mugabe's departure could be the ongoing intra-party fighting in ZANU PF and the
"The food crisis in Zimbabwe is not going to go away within months, it will
be felt for two to three years to come,' he said.
Emmanuel Magade, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, said while Obasanjo's
reported request to Tsvangirai was "intriguing", it would be proper for the MDC
leader to offer Mugabe an honourable exit if he lost the poll.
"My opinion is that whether one agrees with Mugabe's policies or not, one
cannot run away from the fact that he is the founding father of this nation," he
ZANU PF accused of using illegal ballots
By Basildon Peta Special Projects Editor
1/31/02 2:47:57 AM (GMT
CRUDE campaign tactics employed by Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF
reportedly scaled new heights this week when its members allegedly started
distributing unauthorised ballot papers in rural areas and assaulting those who
failed to appropriately mark President Robert Mugabe's slot on the
Several people interviewed by this newspaper who saw the ballots said these
were not specimens but genuine ballots.
Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) chairman Sobusa Gula-Ndebele said
the ESC - the state agency which should approve campaign materials - was unaware
of such a development but promised to investigate to establish whether "this was
indeed happening and whether it will prejudice the holding of a free and fair
ZANU PF's legal supremo Patrick Chinamasa said the allegations were, at
face value, meant to discredit ZANU PF and were coming from what he said were
MDC (the opposition Movement for Democratic Change) journalists.
He later asked for written questions to consider a detailed response but
had not responded up to the time of going to print. Repeated efforts to get
comment from Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, who is in overall charge of
elections, also failed.
A dozen teachers and villagers from Mashonaland East and Masvingo provinces
said ZANU PF officials were distributing ballot papers to every person of voting
age in their villages and schools and asking them to fill in the ballots.
They would then assault anyone who would either have failed to cast a vote
on the ZANU PF slot or would have voted for the opposition.
"I know of one guy who was badly assaulted after he filled in a very small
X on the ZANU PF slot. Another was beaten up after his X encroached on to
Tsvangirai's face," said a teacher from Chikomba, who was interviewed on
condition of anonymity.
The use of unauthorised ballot papers is reported to be rife in Hwedza,
Sadza, Mupatsi and Dorowa areas of Mashonaland East Province and in Zaka in
The Financial Gazette also heard this week that ZANU PF members, mostly
armed militia, were forcing people to vote along these lines in Gokwe and
Nembudziya areas of the Midlands. This newspaper could not independently verify
any of these reports.
The alleged use of the illegal ballot papers to aid Mugabe's re-election
comes in the wake of information that ZANU PF militias are moving door-to-door
in some urban areas compiling the identity registration numbers of people
without ZANU PF party cards.
The Financial Gazette this week interviewed several people from
Chitungwiza, Kambuzuma and Budiriro areas who confirmed having had their details
recorded after failing to produce party cards.
The teachers interviewed on the alleged illegal voting were unable to
explain the origins of the ballot papers being used by ZANU PF. They said the
militias had told them that these were the exact ballots to be used in the
actual presidential election.
They said nothing on the ballots indicated that they were only specimens.
In fact, they appeared to be genuine ballot papers, they said.
The interviewees said they had not been able to get samples or copies of
the ballots because the papers were being collected and packed neatly into boxes
immediately after the stage-managed voting.
Ballot papers for elections are usually printed only after the nominations
court has sat and the candidates and the parties contesting the elections are
Those who saw the ballots being used by ZANU PF said they featured the
logos of the ruling party, the MDC, ZANU Ndonga, the Bulawayo-based ZAPU and
Shakespear Maya's National Alliance of Good
SA civic bodies to deal with Zim crisis
1/31/02 2:50:53 AM (GMT +2)
A COALITION of South African civil organisations this week said it will
mobilise resources to deal with the impending humanitarian crisis in
The coalition includes the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the
South African Non-Governmental Organisations (NG) Coalition, the Centre for the
Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Network of
Independent Monitors and Amnesty International.
In a communique released after a meeting this week, the coalition said: "We
realise that democracy is under threat and remain highly concerned regarding
ongoing human rights abuses (in Zimbabwe).
"This network, which seeks to rally civil society, has as its objectives
the following: to marshal resources within South African society to deal with
the impending humanitarian and refugee crisis; to ensure an appropriate response
from NGOs, governments, inter-governmental organisations and civil society,
especially those in provinces neighbouring Zimbabwe."
The coalition said it would also support and engage the South African
government in initiatives related to the defence of democracy and the rule of
law in Zimbabwe, mobilise and pool resources and build upon partnerships with
Zimbabwean civil society.
Over 500 000 Zimbabweans are said to be in need of food handouts from the
government and relief agencies following widespread harvest failures caused by
inadequate rainfall and disruption to commercial farming by ruling ZANU PF party
supporters occupying farms.
Thousands of internal refugees forced out of their homes by political
violence, also blamed on ZANU PF mobs, have turned to civil society for
assistance and the situation could worsen as the crucial presidential election
on March 9 and 10 nears. -Staff Reporter
Threats fail to move Mat in crucial ballot
From Njabulo Ncube Bulawayo Bureau Chief
1/31/02 2:54:42 AM (GMT
MAPHISA, Matabeleland South - "You can take a horse to a
watering hole but you cannot force it to drink," so goes the old saying. It
seems to ring true in this dry and dirt-poor rural outpost of Matabeleland
In interviews this week, scores of villagers in and around the growth point
of Maphisa said they would not be cowed by violence into voting for President
Robert Mugabe when he squares up against Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in crunch presidential elections on March 9
It was clear from conversations with most of them that Tsvangirai would get
They said Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler in the past 22 years, had long let
them down and his chaotic land resettlement scheme had done little to win their
minds and hearts.
Instead, they referred to the drought now ravaging Matabeleland South as
well as to Mugabe's harsh suppression of an insurrection against his rule in the
province in the 1980s and said his political scorecard was badly tainted.
Amon Thebe, a 65-year-old subsistance farmer from Mbuya Village, a few kms
from this rural business centre, said he could not wait to cast his vote in the
"We have suffered a lot here under Mugabe," he told this reporter at a
local pub after ascertaining that I was not a state security agent.
Not even the threatening presence of the green-shirted youth brigades who
roam the dusty outpost could sway the villager from speaking out his mind.
"He (Mugabe) must go and this is the time. We will be in full force come
the voting days. These boys (the youth brigades) can beat us but deep down they
know what is happening here," he said.
"Instead of harassing people to vote for Mugabe, they should be cleaning
the mine shafts at nearby Antelope Mine and Balaghwe where innocent people were
killed," he said, referring to thousands of civilians killed by army troops in a
sweep through the province to crush about 100 armed rebels between 1982 and
Some of the victims were thrown into the two mine shafts.
Moddie Mlilo, another villager, said: "We should not be forced to give him
another six years. He has messed up in 22 years. We are hungry here and very
little is available."
Mlilo said in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary elections, Mugabe's
militant war veterans - many of them too young to have even been born during the
1970s war - went around assaulting villagers in and around the constituency.
"It did not work because people voted wisely. The same will happen this
time," she added.
In the parliamentary polls, the villagers dumped Ananias Nyathi, a ZANU PF
stalwart and prominent business chief, for Lovemore Moyo, a young executive
whose relatives were among the victims of the army's crackdown known as
"We have seen worse things. These youth brigades and their leaders should
know one thing about the people of this region: we are as resilient as our
donkeys," Mlilo said confidently.
"A donkey can survive very severe droughts. We showed this resilience
during the days of PF ZAPU when we stuck with Umdala (Joshua Nkomo). What we
want is change."
Lovemore Moyo, the MDC legislator for Matobo, said it would be folly for
Mugabe to expect any votes from Matabeleland.
"The people here will buy ZANU PF cards because they are forced to and will
take his food but come election time they know where to put the cross," he said.
"ZANU PF knows it from past experience, during the time they had problems
with Nkomo, what people here do. They unanimously voted for Nkomo even with the
army roaming the area and threatening villagers," he said.
Deep-rooted poverty in the province, now worsened by a withering drought,
would not help matters, the MP noted.
A councillor in the Matobo rural district council, speaking on condition he
is not named for fear that he may lose his unsolicited monthly gratuity from the
government, took a swipe at Paul Siwela, leader of a splinter ZAPU opposition
party based in Matabeleland who is widely seen as a ZANU PF protégé.
"He is a sell-out," the councillor said, echoing the sentiments of most
"How can he claim that people in Matabeleland are behind him when no one,
not even one person, knows his existence? Where was he when we were suffering?"
The MDC's Moyo said it would be a waste of time for Mugabe to spend
resources campaigning in the province.
"Instead, he should be helping feed starving people so that they can go and
vote and not to look for food on March 9 and 10," he said.
Villagers said the government has deployed the youth brigades in and around
Antelope Mine Hospital and at Bhalaghwe, a move analysts said was futile if it
was meant to intimidate the peasants.
As political commentator Bhekithemba Sibindi put it: "People in
Matabeleland are very complicated, especially the villagers. They are very
consistent, even when they are in abject poverty. They stand up for their
Rampant poaching could cost Zim CITES partners
1/31/02 2:55:14 AM (GMT +2)
RAMPANT elephant poaching by ruling ZANU PF supporters could cost Zimbabwe
the support of its regional partners in the lobby to remove southern Africa's
elephants from the international list of endangered species, it was learnt this
Sources told the Financial Gazette that Botswana, Namibia and South Africa
- the country's partners in the lobby for controlled trade in elephant products
- had threatened to abandon Zimbabwe to fend for itself at the 12th Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to be held in Chile in
They said the three countries were concerned about uncontrolled poaching
within Zimbabwe's national parks and conservancies by war veterans and other
ruling ZANU PF supporters occupying commercial farms.
"They have indicated that unless Zimbabwe puts its house in order before
the next CITES meeting, it will go to the crucial meeting on its own as they
feel that Zimbabwe would jeopardise their chances of success," a source close to
preparations for the meeting said.
Traditionally, countries with common interests gang up to collectively
lobby intransigent animal rights groups opposed to the killing of game at such
Zimbabwe and its three southern African partners are seeking the removal of
their over-abundant elephant populations from CITES' Appendix Two, which allows
limited trade in elephant products, to Appendix Three.
Appendix Three allows free trade in elephant products, but only in
countries where poaching is under control.
"With what is happening in the conservancies and farms at the moment, it
would really be difficult to convince CITES that poaching is under control in
Zimbabwe," a source said. "This is why these countries are planning to exclude
Zimbabwe in their lobby."
The Zimbabwean government has indicated that it will spend $30 million on a
campaign to convince CITES to allow the resumption of international trade in
Failure to do so could see the country losing out on a lucrative
multi-million-dollar trade that has in the past benefited the economy.
- Staff Reporter
A sham challenges world’s conscience
1/31/02 2:26:49 AM (GMT +2)
ALL the gloves are finally off modern history’s unprecedented sham which
the government is desperately trying to sell to the world as a valid
presidential ballot. ?
Not that anyone with an inkling of the
machinations of the Zimbabwe government would have expected anything
But the sheer magnitude of the unfolding fraud is frightening. It lays bare
the unparallelled determination of a group of people to stall the sweeping march
of history and progress and, perhaps more ominously, to damn the world for the
sake of sweet power!
Nothing but the facts could make this point more forcefully, and the
indisputable facts read like a script for a Western-style movie:
The official in charge of the actual balloting, chief elections officer
Douglas Nyikayaramba, turns out to have been a brigadier in the army and a well
known ally of President Robert Mugabe, one of the contenders in the election.
Nyikayaramba, who will virtually determine the conduct of voting at every
polling station, will dutifully report to Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, who
himself has publicly let it be known that he is a member of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU
As if this was not enough, the head of the Electoral Supervisory Commission
(ESC) — the state agency now solely charged with staging and supervising all
elections — is Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, a former military intelligence chief in
Gula-Ndebele, a lawyer, will of course be assisted in his work on the ESC
by other Mugabe appointees, never mind the constitutional rider which states for
the doubters that the agency must be independent of its master.
Then ALL polling officers — the thousands of men and women who will be
posted across Zimbabwe at each and every polling station to check on the
balloting — must be civil servants.
And ALL election monitors, dutifully trained by and accountable to the ESC,
must also be civil servants, with many of them drawn from "the ministries of
education, home affairs and defence", to quote a news report from state
television at the weekend.
Furthermore, ALL monitors and polling agents are barred under new
legislation from travelling in the same cars which transport ballots. If these
officials so wish, the law says, they can follow the vehicles in their own!
Please note that thousands of unemployed people calling themselves war
veterans and others trained by the government in the "national youth service"
had already been deployed across the length and breadth of the country to ensure
that the povo and other sections of the population got the message loud and
For its part, the dominant state news media — especially the sole
broadcaster — dares not let up on its propaganda blitz against the opposition
while painting ZANU PF as Zimbabwe’s saviour. Editors ignoring these
instructions do so at their peril.
Then add the millions of dollars being dangled in front of poor and hungry
peasants and the offer of land, more land and even more land and you have a
complete picture of the farce.
That was until earlier this week. Then the President made clear he would
not tolerate any poll observer who is likely to condemn the conduct of the
He ordered — in the same manner of his decrees in Zimbabwe — the European
Union (EU) and its allied African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group to have a
joint and NOT separate observer mission which MUST be headed by the ACP.
In other words, no observers from the noisy and unhelpful EU would be
allowed into Zimbabwe unless the 15-nation group stuck to the conditions of the
The President did this despite Harare’s unwavering and oft-stated belief
that no state can and should ever interfere in another’s affairs because all are
Needless to say, all poll observers — minus those from comradely nations
such as Nigeria and the cowardly Southern Africa Development Community — would
have to wait until virtually the last minute to enter Zimbabwe to see what, if
anything, could be observed!
We have only one question: will long-suffering Zimbabweans, plus the
international community, allow this gigantic sham to stand
A journey through troubled Zimbabwe
1/31/02 2:19:36 AM (GMT +2)
LAST December I made the usual pilgrimage to Zimbabwe. I could have sung
with Ray Phiri "Trouble in the land of plenty" but I felt I needed to hear
Thomas Mapfumo’s Chimurenga Explosion exploding in my head.
glad I played it then because the chimurenga exponent was going to disappoint me
twice — with his latest album and his concert at the Boka Tobacco Auction
But first I had to grapple with the hurdles of driving into Zimbabwe
through Beitbridge. At this time of the year one had to contend with the long
queues, the scorching sun and the rude immigration officials but home is home
even riri zuru rapinda nyoka.
You could see the culture change — some officials could barely conceal
their greed but they had to be careful of their new colleagues who had just been
deployed from the then Department of Taxes. The new staff were keen to show they
meant business and you should have seen how they pretended to read your set of
papers and then raised all sorts of silly questions. Some four hours after
arrival we were through with all formalities.
A couple of metres up the highway was a police roadblock. The policemen
seemed kind enough and laughed heartily. I wondered how they could allow
themselves to be turned into brutes at the drop of a hat by some senior official
with a political agenda. It puzzles me all the time: this sudden metamorphosis
from human being to vampire.
Despite everything it is hard not to love this country. One of the things I
had come to do was to renounce citizenship of a country I had never claimed to
I spent two full days running in circles trying to make sense of
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede’s instructions, which even his clerks did not
understand. It was a trying time spending hours in dust and heat pleading with
some clerk that at that point could either render you stateless. Ah the
bitterness of it.
But the clerks were just minor players in the tragic-comedy playing itself
out in my country. Prices, like our leadership, had gone mad. Cooking oil was
scarce and my brother had gotten tired of cooking his meat and vegetables using
Another friend remarked: "Kudya muriwo uneshena hazvichaita. Apa blazo
negero rake vomhanyira kuLibya kunorova muriwo une mafuta."
The irony was reading the newspapers and seeing ruling party advertisements
screaming "Say No To Artificial Shortages". They could have done a better job
with adverts stating their true position: "SAY YES TO VIOLENCE".
And the violence is very real. I remember on the Beitbridge-Masvingo
highway I came across a very dubious veterinary control roadblock. The whole set
up stank of ZANU PF militia. The sole guard there looked very much a Comrade
Disaster. I don’t know where he had come from but you could not mess with him.
And for someone supposed to check the spread of foot-and-mouth disease he
had an AK47 rifle. He reminded me of Graham Green’s tonton macoute (secret
police) in the novel The Comedians.
Across the road in the bush was a camp with one policeman and several other
people roasting mealie cobs. Maybe he was really doing his patriotic duty
fighting foot-and-mouth but I was not prepared to take a chance — I gave him
some money for a beer or whatever he drank. He softened and let me pass.
But a lot of other things were not right. ZBC and the state media had
reached new lows in their mindless propaganda war trying to defend the
If they interviewed Mapfumo and he said he did not support violence and
that yes there must be land redistribution, but done in an orderly manner, then
the state media would have had screaming headlines: "Dr Mapfumo supports govt on
In 1994 when the Interahamwe were preaching their hatred and calling on
Hutus to kill all Tutsis and moderate Hutus, I could not grasp that level of
insanity. Now that this same madness has visited my land I can now understand
how a demonic leadership can whip crowds of brutes into a frenzy and embark on
orgies of destruction.
But someone will have to pay for all this. Very soon!
But outside ZANU PF’s inferno some other things were happening. On the
music front it looked like uhuru was on the horizon. David Chifunyise, Willom
Tight and a host of young masalads were liberating spaces that had been occupied
for donkey years by the unimaginative gaeriatrics at ZMC and Gramma.
The night club scene was happening with Chez Ntemba kicking as usual.
But I was shocked to read the rave reviews for Mapfumo’s show on New Year’s
eve. That show was very boring simply because one couldn’t hear a thing. The
acoustics were so bad you only knew what song he was playing when the crowd at
the front started singing along.
The venue was also uninspired. A huge hall with a grimy floor, unfinished
in parts and simply too big for the number of people who attended. Similarly,
Tuku’s show on that same day was fine but very predictable. He seemed somewhat
tired but the crowd was having a whale of a time.
In business some people seemed to have awakened from a slumber and were
chasing the dollar with incredible ingenuity despite the hard economic front.
Finance houses and banks were coming up with innovative schemes and our women
(ever entrepreneurial) were all over southern Africa and now testing the waters
The entry into the economy by new players was solely overdue. Having had a
very bad experience at both the Crowne Plaza and at the Holiday Inn, I was
convinced that new players were needed in every sector of our economy. Not the
type that is typified by the politics of patronage but a new breed driven by
need to create wealth for both themselves and for their country.
Meeting my friends again was an inspiring experience. We spoke of other
friends that had left for that other world beyond the blue and just shook our
heads wondering "who’s next?"
We also wondered at the fate of friends who had left the country for good.
A dedicated Zimbabwean friend could not take it anymore. Him and his wife (they
are both prominent scientists) were relocating to the US.
As I left that terrible beauty that is Zimbabwe, I could hear Oliver
Mtukudzi screaming "Hatidi hondo. Hatidi mhirizhonga". A week later I read that
ZANU PF’s militia had sealed off some towns and was on the hunt for opposition
Chris Kabwato, who is based in Johannesburg, is involved in the arts.
US$175m due to IMF
By Joseph Ngwawi Business News Editor
1/31/02 1:06:44 AM (GMT
ZIMBABWE must pay more than US$175 million to the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) this year to enhance its chances of winning back crucial
economic aid from the Bretton Woods institution but analysts say the beleaguered
Harare administration could again fall behind in its payments due to a crushing
foreign currency crisis.
The government, which has constantly
defaulted on its commitments to the IMF and other multilateral financial
institutions in the past three years, is expected to fork out US$97 million in
scheduled financial obligations to the Fund plus about US$80 million in arrears
that had accumulated as of December 31 2001.
The latest information from the IMF shows that the interest component on
Zimbabwe’s arrears to the Bretton Woods institution stood at US$5.4 million at
the end of last year while overdue principal was US$75.1 million.
This reflects a 25 percent increase in Zimbabwe’s arrears to the IMF from
about US$64 million at the end of September 2001.
The IMF declared Zimbabwe ineligible to use the institution’s general
resources in September last year, citing the country’s failure to meet its
Analysts this week said the cash-strapped government, battling severe
foreign currency problems and has to raise funds to import food to feed starving
villagers, would again default on its commitment to the IMF and further alienate
the country from the international community.
University of Zimbabwe business lecturer Anthony Hawkins said President
Robert Mugabe might decide not to honour his obligations to the Fund, preferring
to meet pressing food requirements and other essential imports this year.
"I don’t think there is any intention of paying the outstanding amount,
particularly as the government knows there is no chance of regaining the support
of the IMF this year," Hawkins told the Financial Gazette.
Consultant economist John Robertson said: "Government has a very difficult
task of meeting all its commitments to the international community and risks
alienating itself from the rest of the world."
Zimbabwe needs to import more than 500 000 tonnes of grain this year to
avert hunger in the wake of disruptions of commercial farming by Mugabe’s
supporters who, since 2000, have seized and occupied hundreds of farms
nationwide in the name of land hunger.
The United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP), which has been coordinating
international efforts to avert hunger in Zimbabwe, last week threatened to
suspend a US$60 million food aid programme, citing fears over the security of
The threat followed an assault of aid workers by ruling ZANU PF supporters,
who are rampaging throughout the country ahead of a crucial presidential ballot
in March pitting Mugabe against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Other donors have also been considering supplying food aid to Zimbabwe but
are reluctant to use government distribution channels, fearing that Mugabe could
use the food to try to buy votes.
The WFP has been working through non-governmental organisations such as
Christian Care and World Vision to distribute the food to the needy.
Mugabe, who turns 78 in February, faces the toughest challenge to his
21-year reign from Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, in
a presidential poll set for March 9 and 10.
The Zimbabwe government asked for food assistance only towards the end of
last year after repeatedly refusing to acknowledge the impending
War vets illegally sell $40m farmers’ assets
1/31/02 1:34:44 AM (GMT +2)
ABOUT $40 million in commercial farmers’ assets in Zimbabwe have been sold
off by war veterans in Mashonaland East province under the guise of paying
"gratuities" to farm workers whose employers have been evicted from their
properties, it was learnt this week.
A Commercial Farmers’ Union
(CFU) spokeswoman said war veterans were leading workers in the illegal auction
of farmers’ assets and that her organisation was worried the situation could
spread to other commercial farming areas.
"A drought of reason continues to prevail on Zimbabwean farms as assets
worth $40 million went under the hammer of injustice," the spokeswoman told the
"The illegal auctions are being conducted under the guise of supplying
gratuity packages to staff of farmers illegally evicted from their farms."
She said the illegal auctions had started two weeks ago at Alamein Farm in
Mashonaland East, which is owned by Guy Watson-Smith, a farmer forced to flee
Zimbabwe in December by ruling ZANU PF supporters who claimed they had been
allocated the property.
Cattle, household goods and farming implements were sold on the farm after
the war veterans refused to allow the High Court-sanctioned removal of $120
million in assets from the property.
"At least three public auctions have since been carried out under cover of
supplying ‘gratuity packages’ for the staff of 300 workers, who were previously
employed by Watson-Smith," the CFU spokeswoman said.
"Events on the Watson-Smith farm have spread to other areas of Beatrice
over the last few weeks."
The CFU said another Beatrice farmer, Steve Terblans, had fled at the
beginning of this month from a farm gazetted for compulsory acquisition after
receiving death threats from the veterans.
In a statement this week, Terblans said the veterans had lied to his
workers, claiming that he had left Zimbabwe, resulting in the employees
demanding their benefits from the farm manager.
"I was instructed to pay the workers their dues," he said. "The war
veterans refused to recognise my right to remove my movable assets, claiming
that these were being acquired."
He said workers at his farm had applied to the High Court demanding $650
000 in severance pay, while the veterans had auctioned off 230 head of cattle on
his farm on January 17 and also impounded machinery and household goods,
effectively leaving Terblans destitute.
Attempts to secure police intervention had failed, the commercial farmer
There was no immediate comment from police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena, who
was said to be out of the office on Monday.
The veterans and other ruling party supporters began occupying commercial
farms in February 2000 and have been responsible for violence, costly work
stoppages as well as the theft and damage of farming implements and crops.
The disruption of farming caused by the occupations has contributed to
severe food shortages that could trigger a serious humanitarian crisis in
Bread shortage looms large as 65% farmers are kicked off their land
1/31/02 1:08:40 AM (GMT +2)
SIXTY-FIVE percent of Zimbabwe’s wheat growers have been served with
government notices to vacate their properties from the end of next week in a
move that will slash the country’s wheat output by half this year, the
Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) said this week.
CFU deputy director
for commodities Jerry Grant said 65 percent of 700 commercial wheat growers, who
produce 93 percent of the 400 000 tonnes consumed by the country annually, had
received orders to vacate their properties.
This means that wheat production this year will decline by at least 221 000
tonnes, he noted.
The orders were issued under Section Eight of the government’s
controversial Land Acquisition Act, which gives farmers 90 days to stop farming
and vacate their properties, and affect commercial wheat growers mainly in
Mashonaland West and East provinces.
"Sixty five percent of these (wheat) farmers have Section Eight orders and
cannot farm," Grant told the Financial Gazette.
"They cannot even prepare their land because there is no indication from
the minister (of Agriculture and Rural Resettlement) of whether the farmers will
be able to continue with their farming operations."
The government has yet to respond to a plea by farmers to be allowed to
continue with their work and to even prepare land for new crops.
Grant said: "Unless a decision is made soon, it will be disastrous for
Zimbabwe because of the shortages, so we are very concerned about this."
Zimbabwe is faced with severe shortages of the staple mealie-meal that is
produced from maize. The shortages have forced many households to turn to bread
as a substitute.
Increased demand for bread and the millers’ inability to import gristing
wheat, which is used in the manufacture of flour, have resulted in a rise in
wheat usage and could see Zimbabwe rapidly depleting its stocks.
Grant said the wheat growers’ plight was being worsened by the failure of
the government-controlled Grain Marketing Board, weighed down by a $32 billion
debt, to pay farmers for wheat delivered to it in September and October last
According to farming industry sources, of the 300 924 tonnes of wheat
delivered by farmers to the GMB last year, only 120 000 tonnes had been paid for
by the end of last year.
The CFU official said wheat producers were also concerned about the
deteriorating security situation on commercial farms, where increasing numbers
of farmers were being expelled from their properties by militant government
He said some wheat farmers were moving their irrigation equipment into the
cities to prevent theft and damage.
"Irrigation farmers have had to dismantle centre pivots (used in the
irrigation of wheat) for security reasons," Grant said.
Supporters of President Robert Mugabe, who faces a tough election on March
9 and 10, have seized hundreds of farms nationwide since 2000 in the name of
At least nine farmers and scores of blacks have been killed in the often