Zimbabwe archbishop raps Blair, Mbeki for inaction
A prominent Zimbabwean churchman chided Britain and South
Africa today for not taking a tougher line against the "evils" of president
Robert Mugabe. Pius Ncube, Catholic archbishop of Zimbabwe's second city
Bulawayo, also said political repression and economic hardship had become so
critical there was a risk of civil conflict.
"I'm for a peaceful
transformation. (But) people get so desperate they will say 'I am as good as
dead now' and they engage in something that is not going to benefit them," he
"There's so much fear that people are quiet, but they suffer and
there's a lot of anger. It would be a tragedy if all of a sudden people went
violent because Mugabe's last card is to call the army 'come over here,
Mugabe (80) is accused by domestic and Western critics
of rigging his 2002 re-election, intimidating opposition supporters and
running down one of Africa's most promising economies. He says former
colonial ruler Britain and others want to punish him for giving white-owned
farms to landless blacks.
Ncube, who has long spoken out against Mugabe,
said that argument was helping stifle outside criticism. "He uses this as an
excuse for all his evils ... We shouldn't allow him to hoodwink everyone," he
said. South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki "has been a disappointment," he
added at a London news conference.
"He has been backing Mugabe, saying
things will be all right ... But possibly he is aware that if he takes a
negative attitude he will have less space to assist Mugabe. There is still
that hope that Mugabe becomes reasonable."
Oppression" Mbeki, who has been trying to broker a solution to the Zimbabwe
crisis on behalf of African nations eager for a locally led solution,
recently acknowledged his policy of quiet diplomacy was failing but said
there was no alternative.
The Bulawayo archbishop said he was also
disappointed by Britain, which has toned down its anti-Mugabe rhetoric of
late. Britain should not be embarrassed by accusations of "neo-colonial"
meddling, but step up pressure on Zimbabwe in international forums and
channel aid to rights groups and other non-government organisations, Ncube
"Unfortunately Mugabe has got Britain where he wants them ...
blaming everything on (Prime Minister) Tony Blair," he added. "Britain
should continue to apply pressure on Mugabe to be accountable for his own
In Britain to seek backing for a new organisation
to support rights abuse victims in Zimbabwe, Ncube gave a litany of familiar
allegations against Mugabe. Aids patients are neglected, businessmen are
leaving en masse, prices are soaring, opposition activists are harassed,
tortured and jailed, and food aid is being used as a political tool ahead of
next year's parliamentary elections, he said. "There's a starvation plan ...
There is so much oppression in Zimbabwe you can't move an inch," he
On a personal note, Ncube said his church services were constantly
monitored by state intelligence agents. Criticised by some, including fellow
Catholic churchmen, for being too politicised, Ncube said he would not be
muzzled. "I have decided to get loud because Mugabe is silencing everyone,"
he said. "I have one task: to rebuke the evils done by Mugabe until there is
change." - Reuters
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]HARARE, 21 Jul
2004 (IRIN) - The trial in Zimbabwe of 70 suspected mercenaries accused of
plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea has been postponed to
Lawrence Phiri, the state prosecutor, said the defence lawyers
had asked for a postponement in the trial, being held in a makeshift court in
Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in the capital, Harare. There were no
The men were detained after arriving at Harare International
Airport on 7 March from South Africa, and charged with conspiring to carry
out a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea with weapons bought in Zimbabwe.
They were also charged with violating Zimbabwe's immigration, firearms and
Lawyers for the men are seeking to have the trial moved to
South Africa, as most of the suspects carry South African passports. They are
concerned that if the trial proceeds in Zimbabwe, they could face extradition
to Equatorial Guinea, a tiny West African country ranked by human rights
groups as one of the world's most repressive.
Zimbabwe and Equatorial
Guinea have been working out the details of an extradition treaty between the
two countries. If the men are tried in Equatorial Guinea, they could face
execution, while the death penalty is not on South Africa's statute
The hearing had been delayed to allow relatives to appeal to South
Africa's highest court to have the men extradited back home to face trial.
A judgement is still awaited in that case.
The prosecution has alleged
that Equatorial Guinea's Spanish-based opposition leader, Severo Moto, hired
the men, many of whom were former members of elite South African military
units, to overthrow President Theodoro Obiang Nguema. The government of
Equatorial Guinea has detained 15 men at Malabo on the island of Bioco,
claiming they were part of an advance team preparing for the coup.
suspected mercenaries held in Zimbabwe have denied plotting to
overthrow Obiang, saying they were en route to the eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo to take up security jobs at mining
[ This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]HARARE, 21 Jul 2004 (IRIN) -
The Zimbabwean High Court on Wednesday dismissed an urgent chamber
application by The Tribune newspaper to resume publishing, following its
closure in June under tough media laws.
Africa Tribune Newspapers (ATN),
publishers of The Tribune, had lodged an urgent application after the
government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC) ordered it closed
for not adhering to media regulations - the third newspaper in under a year
to be shut by the commission.
The MIC suspended the ATN's publishing
license for one year in June after accusing its new owners of failing to
report ownership changes as required under the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act.
The MIC also complained that the new owners
had not informed them that, due to high input costs, the newspaper had merged
its two titles, The Business Tribune and The Weekend Tribune, to form The
"The commission's view is that this contravention deserves the
penalty of a cancellation, and that this is a lawful response as set out
under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act," said MIC
lawyer Johannes Tomana.
Mathew Takaona, president of the Zimbabwe
Union of Journalists, said the continued closure of The Tribune was another
blow to press freedom and media pluralism.
"We have close to 20
journalists who have been forced onto the streets because of the unfriendly
media laws in Zimbabwe. It is a very cruel and diabolical law, which has only
managed to bring anguish to the media fraternity," he said.
One of the
newspaper's shareholders, Nevanji Madanhire, speaking after the court
dismissed the application, said they would make a decision on the way forward
on Thursday. "We still have to meet as shareholders and decide what to do
The Tribune's demise follows the forced closure of Zimbabwe's
leading daily newspaper, the anti-government Daily News, on charges of
publishing without a license as required by the media laws. The privately
owned Daily News and its sister publication, The Daily News on Sunday, have
been closed since September 2003, pending a final determination on its legal
status by Zimbabwe's Supreme Court.
The Zimbabwean government has
accused the privately owned press of spearheading an anti-Zimbabwe agenda
sponsored by Western powers.
'Government Working Towards Democratic Local Governance'The
July 21, 2004 Posted to the web July 21,
GOVERNMENT is working towards the formulation of a
democratic and representative local government system that responds to the
needs of the people, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing, Cde Ignatius Chombo, has said.
He said the
Government was engaged in fundamental reforms that are intended to ensure
effective and efficient management of local authorities and the equitable
distribution of natural resources.
Cde Chombo made the remarks when he
officially opened a two-day Africa Mayors' Course Design and Planning
Workshop in Harare yesterday.
The 10 participating mayors were drawn from
Eastern and Southern African countries, namely Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia,
Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
"We believe that local
government is about the people. In essence, local government refers
fundamentally to the people drawn from all walks of life, together to
determine the path that their destiny should take," said
Cde Chombo commended the Municipal Development Partnership
for Eastern and Southern Africa for organising the workshop.
mayors are expected to design a course that will enhance their capacity to
effectively manage the affairs of cities for the benefit of
"This is quite an innovative approach to capacity building.
Its innovativeness lies not only in its attempt to give opportunity
to prospective learners to identify their training needs but also to allow
them to determine how the training should be delivered and financed," he
Cde Chombo noted the approach helps to foster ownership of the
course and commitment and ensure its success. He urged MDP-ESA to apply the
approach in all its training programmes.
"In that regard, my ministry
views this workshop as quite significant since it is the first of its kind to
bring mayors together to design and plan their own capacity enhancement
programme," said Cde Chombo.
The workshop is expected to help mayors in
the region share ideas and experiences on how to respond to the emerging
challenges that come with rapid urbanisation, decentralisation and
The challenges include the prevention and management of
HIV/Aids, increasing urban poverty and other social vices like prostitution,
drug abuse, juvenile delinquency and the pervasive problem of street kids and
street families, he said.
Cde Chombo said most cities in the region
were characterised by run down infrastructure, services, sprawling slums,
overcrowded and unplanned settlements, overcrowded and unregulated informal
activities such as vending, brewing of illicit beers and taxi
Most of the problems were often blamed on corruption, poor
governance and high degree of centralisation of power and resources in the
hands of central government.
Cde Chombo said successful responses to
such challenges depended upon the quality and capacity of local government
leaders to lead with determination and foresight.
building of human resources is critical, ensuring that trained leaders have
the requisite knowledge for discharging their responsibilities is equally
vital, thus the pertinence of this workshop," he said.
secretary-general of the African Local Authorities Association, Mr Charles
Katiza, said mayors should be able to create best practices by providing
leadership in building bridges usable beyond local and national networks and
"Our mayors should appreciate the new focus towards
eradication of poverty, mitigating HIV and Aids and developing mechanisms to
facilitate local economic development, and to develop strategies capable of
helping their city contribute towards peace and security," he
MDP regional director Mr George Matovu said mayors needed to be
educated on how to attract investors, engage residents in consultations and
preparing strategic plans.
Wood Poachers Fuelling Menace of DeforestationThe Herald
July 21, 2004 Posted to the web July 21, 2004
Kanhema And Nelson Chenga Harare
SATELLITE images showing expansive
green stretches of forest and woodlands from the 90s have turned to yellow
patches of deforested plains as poachers of indigenous hardwoods continue to
stump the life out of Zimbabwes centuries-old woods.
At the turn of
the century, the country was losing an average of 70 000 hectares of trees
per year, an area equal in size to Harare and Chitungwiza put together. But,
according to the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe (FCZ), the figure has soared
in the past four years.
Hardest hit are the peri-urban areas, as urban
dwellers continue to stuff their hearths with firewood in response to the
ever-increasing electricity tariffs, providing a ready market for wood
poachers and fuelling the menace of deforestation.
"Power tariffs have
become restrictive for most people, resulting in them turning to fuelwood,"
said FCZ general manager Dr Enos Shumba adding, "indiscriminate tree cutting
has led to massive deforestation."
Fuelwood meets 51 percent of Zimbabwes
total household and industrial energy demand, and newly resettled farmers get
90 percent of their energy for domestic and agricultural purposes from
The shortage of coal and high cost of paraffin and electricity have
seen wood emerging as the cheapest and most easily accessible source of
energy, igniting massive deforestation around cities and resettled
Dr Shumba said FCZ was working with farmers organisations in
resettled areas on ways to curb the indiscriminate cutting of trees and had
initiated projects like beekeeping and the growing of energy woodlots to
preserve forests and reduce pressure on indigenous woods.
He said FCZ,
in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Association of Tobacco Growers, had
identified at least 15 farmers who will help in establishing energy woodlots
that are expected to significantly cut tobacco farmers dependence on
indigenous woods for tobacco curing.
The Forestry Commission hopes to
raise 10 million tree seedlings throughout the country every year, with an
estimated survival rate of 65 percent. This is expected to boost its
reforestation and conservation effort, which has begun to meet with success,
despite the menace of wood poachers and veld fires.
"There was a time
when the countryside was literally on fire," said Dr Shumba, referring to the
veld fires that swept across the countryside in recent years, destroying
thousands of hectares of forest and wildlife species in their
There has been a notable decrease in veld fires. On average, a
farmer with 2,2 tonnes of tobacco requires half a hectare of forest to cure
his crop and without access to alternative energy sources like coal or energy
woodlots, entire forests could be wiped out in a few years.
have been encouraged to create energy woodlots of eucalyptus, among other
inflammable and fast growing exotic trees, in order to conserve indigenous
trees, whose lifespan can stretch up to at least 200 years.
FCZ has also
embarked on an agro-forestry programme aimed at marrying trees to
agriculture, thus increasing their chances of survival by persuading farmers
to give them the same attention they would give to their
Fruit-bearing trees have also been given high priority in the
At least 250 000 families have been resettled on
11 million hectares of land under the land reform programme in the past four
years and the Forestry Commission has launched an intensive awareness
campaigns to minimise indiscriminate tree cutting and veld fires among newly
Truckloads of fuelwood find their way into Harare
everyday as enterprising merchants ferry tonnes of illegally harvested wood
from farms surrounding the city.
Almost half of Chegutus population of
about 45 000 residents depends entirely on firewood for cooking and heating
(the thick pall of smoke that hangs over the small town at dusk bears
sufficient testimony). The same is true of most small towns where low income
earners opt for wood.
Imposing giraffes gazing into the air, lions,
elephants and other wild animals at a curio market at Sam Levys Village
represent what has become a systematic subversion of the Forestry Act as
poachers fell indigenous trees ranging between 120 and 200 years old without
FCZ approval for sale to wood carvers.
The felling of indigenous
hardwoods for sale to the woodcraft industry, laudable as it might be for
tourism and self-employment, continues to rob the custodians of the countrys
vital woodlands, putting the axe to what had been one of the best managed
hardwoods in the region.
Zimbabwe remains one of the last sources of good
indigenous hardwoods like mukwa and mopani, which are exported to the
lucrative European market and used for commercial purposes, mostly furniture
Most countries have banned the export of hardwoods. The
exportation of raw timber has also been banned in Zimbabwe, following the
realisation that it deprives the country of a potential source of employment
and FCZ now inspects all timber to ensure that it is processed and certified
Nkayi Rural District Council recently impounded
timber worth $100 million and harvesting equipment valued at $120 million
from Culman Investments, a company alleged to have illegally harvested timber
worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the district.
made by the company, which paid locals to harvest hardwoods apparently meant
for export, are infinitely more than what the Rural District Council,
custodians of the indigenous hardwoods for decades, have made out of
"The Government has invested a lot in the management of hardwoods
and we continue to protect and process them locally so as to create
employment and benefit the country," Dr Shumba said.
advantage of the countrys land reform programme, timber and wood poachers are
condemning to extinction the protected trees in some of th e countrys most
fragile State-run hardwood forests of Bembesi, Gwayi, Gwampa, Lake Alice and
Mzola in Matabeleland North.
Playing cat and mouse with law enforcement
agents, some of the poachers display huge stacks of firewood along the
Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway for sale to firewood merchants or passing
motorists out to warm themselves or prepare for the weekend
Driving along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road one is lulled into
a false sense of conservation by the forested landscape running alongside
the highway, which is an artificial cover for the reckless cutting down of
trees taking place deep inside the forests.
Huge chunks of forest
cover are being turned into barren dust bowls that could soon be transformed
"No matter what we try and do, we are failing to control
timber and wood poaching," confessed Mr Odreck Sibanda, the FCZ deputy
general manager responsible for conservation and extension.
Government has indicated that it is not its intention to settle people in
long-established game parks and State forests, many villagers in the
Matabeleland region continue to resettle themselves in these
Although the areas are located on fragile Kalahari sandy soils
that are unfit for agriculture, the settlers are busy tilling the land and
planting crops such as maize and sorghum to feed their families.
came here last year from Kezi because there are better soils here than
in Kezi where the land is rocky and rains are poor," said one woman who
only gave her name as uMaKhumalo.
Waiting for transport along the
Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road to ferry eight bags of maize back to her former
home in Kezi, uMaKhumalo acknowledged that the soils in Bembesi Forest were
so bad that without fertiliser it was difficult to harvest
Another villager from Plumtrees Thekwane area said she had also
relocated to the Bembesi Forest to escape hunger and chronic droughts back
"In Thekwane, you wont harvest anything because of the poor soils
and rainfall pattern," she said.
Uncontrolled settlements and rampant
poaching of timber and wood have seen such forests as Lake Alice and Gwampa,
once renowned as some of the countrys most unique bird sanctuaries, turned
into patchy lands on the verge of becoming deserts.
In Mzola Forest,
some villagers who have been grazing their cattle there for years have
decided to settle there permanently, exposing the area to soil erosion as
land degradation and overgrazing take their toll.Rural
electrification could compel more people to lay their axes down and plug into
the national grid in the communal and newly resettled areas and effects have
started manifesting themselves in the recently electrified Ntabazinduna, near
Bulawayo, where FCZ reports a steady decline in demand for
Although FCZ has not tried to quantify the impact of rural
electrification on deforestation, Dr Shumba believes there could be a gradual
fall in wood consumption depending on the costs and distribution of
21, 2004Zimbabwe's rebel cricketers today agreed to arbitrate
with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) over their ongoing internal dispute.
The ICC gave the players a deadline of today to agree to their offer, and, as
expected, they did.
The ZCU, for their part, agreed last week to take
part in the tribunal, which will consist of a representative from each side,
along with a third person, who will act as an independent
The majority of the rebel players are currently on tour in
England with the Red Lions, a charity side. From Stowe School, in
Buckinghamshire, where they are currently playing their third game of the
six-match tour, Clive Field, the players' manager, said: "We had a meeting
yesterday and we sent an e-mail to ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, who is
in India, saying we accepted the plan."
He added, "From the players'
point of view we want this resolved as quickly as possible. We don't know
when the arbitration will start, but we hope the composition of the panel and
their terms of reference can be decided quickly."
Dr. Montgomery released in Zimbabwe, charges
By EMILY BURTON Staff Writer
A local doctor arrested
this month in Zimbabwe on charges of practicing without a license during a
mission trip was released this week, say officials. Dr. Ed Montgomery and his
wife, Sara Jane, a nurse, have both been given back their passports,
confirmed Senator Mitch McConnell's office Tuesday.The pair had
been relieved of their passports approximately two weeks ago while on a
medical mission trip in the African country. According to his friends, Dr.
Montgomery had been looking forward to the trip with friends. A retired
urologist, Dr. Montgomery and his wife had participated in several other
medical missions around the world.According to Dr. Montgomery's
former partner, Dr. Scott Scutchfield, after Dr. Montgomery's charges were
dropped he headed with his wife to
Adams, deputy press secretary for McConnell's office, said the doctor had
worked with the embassy and Zimbabwe officials to obtain a license
to practice in that country and hence the charges were dropped. It
was definitely a happy ending, said Adams.For the friends and
family waiting at home for the Montgomerys, the couple's release comes after
days of prayer and concern. "I'm thankful to God," said Scutchfield, after
many prayers and well wishes were sent their way from the medical community.
"Everyone will be relieved."Family friend Dr. Chris Jackson also
applauded the good news, and those who had helped to bring it about. "We're
very pleased for all the efforts made for us," said Jackson, including the
help of the newspapers and politicians. The recent news was "wonderful," said
Jackson. "I can't wait to get him home."
Power Struggle Brews in Zimbabwe Ruling Party Tendai
Maphosa Harare 21 Jul 2004, 16:56 UTC
Wrangling within the
leadership of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party is coming out into the open, a
clear sign, analysts say, of a power struggle for succession to President
Robert Mugabe. Central to the infighting is Zimbabwe's Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo who has publicly clashed with some senior cabinet ministers.
These included vice president Joseph Msika with whom Mr. Moyo disagreed over
the expropriation of a farm. Mr. Moyo, who controls the state media,
recently also accused his cabinet colleague, Land and Resettlement Minister
John Nkomo, of trying to take back land from resettled farmers for
Those are some of the signs there are cracks in the leadership of
ZANU- PF. University of Zimbabwe's Professor Brian Raftopolous says for this
party, this is business as usual.
"There have always been fissures
within ZANU-PF," he said. "I think now they are being somewhat exacerbated
because a number of things. One is clearly the succession problem, but also
allied to the succession problem is the accumulation struggle within the
elite in this country, those who have land, who have other forms of property
who are now fighting to control that property and to use it as a basis for
future political struggles."
A ZANU-PF legislator, speaking on condition
of anonymity, said the party is in the midst of a generational struggle. He
said Mr. Moyo represents the new, younger membership of the party, while Mr.
Msika and the resettlement minister stand for the party's old guard.
weekly independent newspaper, The Standard, quotes sources as saying
the succession struggle has spilled into the newsrooms of the state owned
media and the ZANU-PF weekly The Voice where Resettlement Minister John
Nkomo holds sway. The Standard editors and other papers under Mr. Nkomo's
control have been instructed on to portray members of the old guard
While Mr. Moyo appears to be winning the struggle for media
coverage, Lovemore Madhuku, from the University of Zimbabwe, says this may
not necessarily mean he will rise to the top. He says ZANU-PF has clearly
laid out rules of succession and Mr. Moyo faces faces many more hurdles on
the way up.
Meanwhile, analysts say President Mugabe, who is not
expected to bow out of politics before his term expires in 2008, is taking
advantage of the internal squabbling to consolidate his own position. And the
ruling party itself, says Mr. Raftopolous, is not expected to suffer any
long-lasting damage from the infighting.
"It's become almost inherent
in the history and structure of ZANU-PF that you have these contradictions
and fissures; the issue is how they will be controlled and contained," he
Still, he said, the continued challenge for Mr. Mugabe and any
future leader will be to keep the party together.
ANALYSIS-Mugabe opponents wary of traps in electoral
reforms 21 Jul 2004 14:53:23 GMT
By Cris Chinaka
July 21 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has bowed to opposition
and regional pressure to adopt sweeping electoral reforms ahead of
parliamentary polls next year, but analysts say he has done so because he is
confident of victory.
"I think the reason that Mugabe is adopting these
reforms is that he realises that he can do so without losing any ground,"
said a senior Western diplomat based in Harare.
"In effect, he
actually gains, appears like a reasonable man in the international community,
especially among his colleagues in SADC (Southern African Development
Community), and then he does so without losing anything," he
Mugabe opened a new session of parliament on Tuesday saying
Zimbabwe would implement wide-ranging electoral reforms before parliamentary
polls next March, giving in to some key demands from the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
The reforms, which must be approved by
parliament, would include setting up an independent election commission, a
single day of voting instead of two, and the counting of votes at polling
It was Mugabe's first public comment on electoral changes
promised by his ruling ZANU-PF party last month and largely welcomed by the
MDC as paving the way for free and fair polls.
Analysts say he
conceded to electoral reforms to retain key regional support. While others
saw it as a deft move by the veteran leader to ease pressure on his embattled
government while, in practice, further entrenching his party's
"Mugabe has this ability to pick the right moment to move, and in
this case he is again doing so without threatening his position," said
Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei of the University of Zimbabwe.
under international pressure over his disputed re-election win in 2002 and
ZANU-PF's equally controversial victory in parliamentary polls four years
He has strengthened his grip on power through tough security and
media laws that have largely stifled opposition, and a political patronage
system that rewards loyalty, critics say.
Mugabe has been under increasing diplomatic and financial pressure
for change, including from other African leaders.
Mugabe suffered some
embarrassment at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa earlier this month
when a report was unofficially circulated condemning his human rights
Dzinotyiwei said pressure from Mugabe's colleagues in the
14-nation SADC, especially from South African President Thabo Mbeki who has
helped shield him from foreign pressure, had also partly forced him to adopt
the electoral reforms.
Mugabe hinted as much on Tuesday, telling
parliament that his proposed reforms were partly driven by "ongoing regional
consultations" on developing uniform electoral rules in SADC.
International Monetary Fund has also stepped in this month by establishing a
six-month grace period before considering Zimbabwe's expulsion from the fund
due to arrears amounting to $295 million, or about 56 percent of its quota,
as of June 2004.
Zimbabwe has been without IMF aid since 1999, and
several Western donors suspended help following Mugabe's re-election in 2002
-- which the MDC has challenged as rigged.
Mugabe has been in the hot
seat before and has not made the relatively bold gesture he unveiled on
Tuesday. Analysts say the reason he did now is he feels secure in his party's
"He has the media, he has (independence) war veterans and youth
brigades and there are security and media laws...and he has the political
machinery to ensure that ZANU-PF's dominance continues," said Lovemore
Madhuku, chairman of political pressure group National Constitutional
Still those who have waited for reform in Zimbabwe are
not dismissing the move as empty.
"We should not be too pessimistic
because this is a process and if we really get an independent election
commission we will be making a good," said Reginald Matchaba-Hove, chairman
of the civic coalition group Zimbabwe Election Support Network.
Zimbabwe Farmers Aid Zambia Farming RevivalThe Times of Zambia
ANALYSIS July 21, 2004 Posted to the web July 21,
Shapi ShacindaAFTER a decade of ruin in the 1990s,
Zambia's agriculture sector is enjoying a renaissance - due partly to an
influx of white farmers from neighbouring Zimbabwe.
point of view, the timing could hardly have been better.
Its policy of
providing land to local and foreign farmers - part of a strategy to broaden
the country's economic base - coincided with a controversial land reform
programme in Zimbabwe that put many Zimbabwean commercial farmers out of
"They have come to live here as equals .... the new farmers
have come to jump-start agriculture ... they have boosted tobacco production
in a short time," said Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana.
from Zimbabwe, 56-year-old Chris Thorne is one of several such farmers
helping to lead Zambia's agricultural recovery. In 2003, the
Zambia Investment Centre said 125 farmers had settled in the country,
with investments totalling $107 million.
The Tobacco Association of
Zambia estimates that around 75 Zimbabwe tobacco farmers and their managers
have settled in southern and central parts of Zambia.
pointing towards Zambia's success (in agriculture) due to good Government
policies," said Thorne at Kayanje farm, 50 km northeast of the capital
"This farm is a huge expansion project ... this coming season we
will produce half a million kgs of tobacco. This year we are going to sell
220 tonnes of tobacco and we will also grow 40 hectares (100 acres) of
wheat next year."
TOBACCO EXPANSION, JOB CREATION
10-year project pioneered by Barclays Bank Zambia, a unit of London-based
Barclays, and Africa Leaf Tobacco (Zambia), a subsidiary of Universal Leaf
Tobacco, farmers like Thorne get money to grow their businesses and pass on
their skills to locals as part of the deal.
The scheme is expected to
spur a big jump in production.
Chimwemwe Mtonga, Barclays Bank Zambia
head of agriculture, said the country's total tobacco output is estimated at
16-18 million kg (35-40 million lb) this year of which 10 million kg would be
contributed by the new farmers. Zambia's tobacco output in 2003 was around
7.2 million kg and 3.0 million kg the previous year.
also means an increase in much needed agricultural jobs and investment. On
Kayanje alone, the current staff compliment of 400 will rise to 600 in the
"We will (slightly) raise the area for maize production
from 240 hectares in the 2003/04 season to just about 250 hectares the coming
season ... this farm was not utilised for more than 25 years," Thorne said.
In the previous three years, only 50 hectares was farmed on
It is not all plain sailing. High inflation and continuous
fluctuation of the Kwacha currency worry the farmers.
margins are being reduced by high inflation as a result of a re-valued rand,"
said Thorne in a reference to South Africa's currency. Farmers buy the bulk
of their raw materials from South Africa.
these concerns, Zambia is confident that agriculture will soon be a major
economic driver for the country as it diversifies away from copper and cobalt
Thousands of hectares of virgin land are being offered free to
local and foreign investors for agricultural activities.
"There is no
doubt agriculture is the future of Zambia and land will be given to anyone
interested in growing cash crops," Lands Minister Judith Kangoma-Kapijimpanga
As well as boosting its tobacco industry, Zambia plans to
launch year-round maize growing in the country's vast wetlands and aims to
increase output by around 40 per cent to two million tonnes in the 2004/05
Mr Sikatana has said preliminary indications suggest this year's
maize harvest would exceed 1.4 million tonnes from 1.2 million tonnes in
the previous season.
"Our aim is to increase maize production to two
million tonnes in the coming season (2004/2005) and thereafter we will be
increasing our output by one million tonnes every other season," he
The contrast with Zimbabwe's fortunes is striking.
bread basket of the region, Zimbabwe is battling one of the world's highest
inflation rates and widespread unemployment, a situation that many critics
blame on government mismanagement, including its land
Although Zimbabwe told international donors in May
it would not need emergency food aid on predictions of a bumper harvest, many
analysts and Zimbabwe commercial farming groups have said the country could
face a shortfall.
Zambia, on the other hand, has bounced back from
severe food shortages that affected more than 14 million people at their peak
early last year.
The author is a Reuters correspondent based in
An elderly Port
Elizabeth couple has been seriously injured in a roadside ambush while on
their way to visit their son in Zimbabwe.
Ronnie, 71, and Patricia
Fitzmaurice, 70, of Humewood, were viciously attacked and then had their car
ransacked while they changing a wheel on their Ford Mondeo, 16km south of
The couple were travelling from Port Elizabeth to Harare
to visit their farmer son Steven Fitzmaurice, 44, a well-known former Eastern
Cape showjumper, who was recovering after a serious car accident.
Friday, July 9, shortly after 8pm they were approaching Harare when they had
a puncture. Fitzmaurice noticed that they had driven through a pile of sharp
spikes placed on the road.
Fitzmaurice said from Harare last night that
as he was about to change their vehicle's flat tyre, two men appeared and
pistol-whipped him, flinging him to the ground.
One of the attackers
punched him in the stomach, while the other man assaulted his
Fitzmaurice sustained a head wound "which bled
Fitzmaurice said: "They ordered us to lie down on the ground,
but we refused. I feared that they could shoot us both in the head while we
lay on the ground. The men took some of our belongings in the vehicle, and
planned to then shoot us."
But the thug's firearm jammed, although he
squeezed the trigger repeatedly. The two men then fled.
"There is now
a new meaning for us to the phrase 'looking down the barrel of a gun'," said
But the terror was not over. As he prepared to attend to his
bleeding wife's head, another car pulled up.
He was under the
impression that a motorist had arrived to lend support. But three men emerged
from the vehicle, merely glanced at the dazed couple and proceeded to ransack
"Two of our cellphones, suitcases, a briefcase, my wife's
handbag, R1 600 and $2 000 (R12 000) were stolen," he said.
men had left, Fitzmaurice continued to change the wheel, but could only
fasten the nuts with his hands as the wheel spanner went missing during the
The couple then drove to a hospital in Chivhu at 80km/h, where
they were treated. He suffered severe concussion, while his wife had bleeding
on the brain.
Medical staff at the Chivhu Hospital told the couple
that two businessmen travelling to Harare had the same experience earlier
Fitzmaurice said: "For 50 years we have been travelling to
Harare and Malawi, where my other son stays, and this was the first time
we've experienced such serious crime."
It took the couple 2½ days to
reach their destination.
They are determined to travel back to South
Africa in their car. They are expected to arrive in Port Elizabeth within two
"We are slowly coming right. My wife is a lot better. The doctor
wanted to evacuate me to Johannesburg, but the concussion is much better now.
We will return home possibly within two weeks, but it depends on the progress
we make," he said.