Mugabe heads to Libya for fuel talks June
25, 2003, 21:30
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe president and
several government officials left for Libya this afternoon, to hold
discussions about the supply of fuel to the country, state radio
"Negotiations with Libyan authorities are expected to
centre on the provision of more fuel to Zimbabwe," the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported.
Zimbabwe with 70% of its fuel needs before the supply line was cut after
Zimbabwe failed to keep its side of a bargain to supply Libya with sugar,
tobacco and beef in return. Since then fuel of all types has been
critically short. However, this month, the government claimed that the fuel
deal had been resumed, and that Libya was going to continue supplying
Zimbabwe with fuel at the end of June.
The radio said
Mugabe was leading "a high-powered delegation" to the north African country,
and that he would hold talks with President Muammar Gaddafi ahead of the
African Union summit due to take place next month.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing erratic fuel supplies for the past three years
due to a shortage of foreign currency needed to import it. The situation has
become worse in recent months, with most fuel stations unable to serve the
scarce commodity. The Zimbabwe government has come up with restrictions to
try and curb the sale of existing scarce supplies on the black market at
Yesterday it banned motorists from carrying
fuel in containers, and today it said public transporters would now have to
obtain fuel using coupons. - Reuters
GOVERNMENT has introduced coupons for commuter omnibus
operators to curb the trading of fuel on the black market, the Minister of
Energy and Power Development Cde Amos Midzi announced yesterday.
commuter omnibus crews were no longer servicing their routes preferring to
resell fuel which they bought at designated filling stations, to motorists at
exorbitant prices of up to $2 000 per litre.
Cde Midzi said the
coupons would restrict operators to refuel once a day and also get quantities
enough for the business of the day.
Some commuter operators had virtually
abandoned their core business of carrying passengers and resorted to selling
The coupons would first be introduced in Harare and later to other
urban areas with filling stations designated for commuter omnibus
Each book will carry serialised coupons enough to last a
Cde Midzi told a Press conference in Harare that since the
facility of designating filling stations was being abused, his ministry had
decided to introduce coupons as a way of reducing fuel leakages while it
continued to explore initiatives to improve the supplies.
supply situation in the country has remained very critical. Because of the
gravity of the situation, my ministry has found it necessary to take measures
to manage the available fuel," he said.
Cde Midzi said fuel would be
available daily at the designated filling stations.
He said commuter
operators in Harare had already started receiving coupons and the system
would be introduced in Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare shortly.
would be restricted to genuine operators with roadworthy vehicles.
get coupons, operators would be required to produce an operator's licence,
route authority, certificate of fitness and vehicle
"As already pointed out, this facility is supposed
to assist the commuting public, and it is therefore their facility. I
therefore call upon the public to co-operate and make sure that their
facility is not abused," he said.
Cde Midzi reiterated that it was
unlawful to sell fuel without a requisite licence and on unlicensed
"The provision to allow Zimbabweans to bring fuel for own use
from neighbouring countries with the usual customs clearance remains in
place," he said.
Cde Midzi said fuel supplies should improve at the
end of this month following a deal struck with Libya oil
The agreement requires the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe
Noczim to pay US$5 million per month to Libyan oil suppliers.
the first installment, Noczim will make monthly payments of US$10 million
with half of the amount going towards servicing a debt for fuel already
Mugabe in reckless mood may risk a new
By Michael Hartnack
Signs are that
Zimbabwe may be headed for a parliamentary election within the next few
months, creating serious dilemmas for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
for South African President Thabo Mbeki. An election would also present
Robert Mugabe with grave problems, but in his present devil-may-care mood he
may not grasp the risks of calling a third consecutive national ballot. Mbeki
has made unguarded remarks about Mugabe’s possible retirement before the end
of his term in 2008, and Mugabe has been warning supporters at rallies to
prepare now for polling for the 120 elected seats. He nominates a further 30.
A parliamentary general election is not due until mid-2005, but Mugabe has
the legal right to call one at any time before then. The attraction of a snap
election for Mugabe and his Zanu PF party would be the chance of getting
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change down below the threshold of 50 of
the 150 parliamentary seats, at which it is currently able to veto
constitutional change. If the level of rigging and naked intimidation at the
June 2000 general election and subsequent by-elections, and at the March 2002
presidential election is anything to go by, this reduction seems to be
eminently feasible - superficially. Mugabe may also feel an increase in Zanu
PF seats would silence claims he lacks a moral mandate to govern.
Principally, Zanu PF wants constitutional amendments so if 79-year-old Mugabe
dies, resigns or is incapacitated, it does not have to hold a fresh
presidential election within 90 days, but may appoint a successor to complete
his six-year term.
The first point worth noting is that Mugabe has a
subtly different agenda from his politburo and party. He has kept himself in
power for the last 23 years by dangling carrots of patronage. Refilling his
store of patronage and destroying civil society were the twin motives for
seizing 5 000 white-owned farms. If the constitution is amended, he will be
able to dangle the juiciest carrot of all - the succession. Given half a
chance, he will behave like some will-wagging Victorian dowager pretending to
favour first one child then another. The independently-owned Daily News last
week reported that Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnanagagwa - a former head
of the secret police and justice minister - is in line to take over within a
year, with Mugabe's approval. It would be wise to regard both this time scale
and the suggested heir with great scepticism. Mnangagwa comes from the
southern Karanga section of the Shona people. Their feuds with northern clans
go back long before the arrival of the whites. It would be in keeping with
past tactics for Mnangagwa to be strung along until he has steered the
amendment through Parliament, then dumped. At one time, Mugabe’s favourite
seemed to be Sydney Sekeramayi - now, significantly, Minister of Defence -
who is linked to a powerful faction including former army commander Solomon
Mujuru. Sekeramayi has with brutal thoroughness turned his Marondera home
area into a virtual one-party state.
If they are allowed any say,
party rank and file will eschew an autocrat for an apparently amenable
personality whose weakness might guarantee consensus politics. Another
faction of reckless ultra-sycophants who know they are expendable want Mugabe
to cling at any cost. Mugabe himself believes that while he has health and
strength, he has complete power to control - or suspend - the selection
process. However, a general election would set all these factions at each
others' throats. All the speculation about Mugabe’s choice of successor
underlines that he and Zanu PF probably do not grasp the scale on which the
MDC might mobilise the nation on one single, simple, overriding issue:
selection of the next president not being left as an internal Zanu PF matter.
The MDC may tell voters their one chance of escaping 25 years of Mnangagwa,
Sekeramayi, or worse, is to cast their ballots against Zanu PF. Passions
might be roused to such an extent that the election result becomes
unriggable. If polling takes place amid another epidemic of intimidation and
blatant fraud, Mbeki's election dilemma will be whether or not lamely to
recognise the result as "a legitimate reflection of opinion", as he did the
March 2002 vote for Mugabe. Every travesty of democratic norms in Zimbabwe
embarrasses Mbeki more and more with the international community. Another
chaotic election will remind bankers and finance ministers that South Africa
has what they see as a satellite state, which according to the World Economic
Forum meeting in Durban last week is one of the worst examples of
The MDC’s dilemma would be whether to fight with their
funds depleted, their leaders locked up and harassed by the security police,
or to boycott the whole sordid business. Some MDC members strongly advise a
boycott, declaring that the certain loss of life and waste of money cannot be
justified while the police, the youth militia, the ex-guerilla "war veterans"
and Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede continue inventing and breaking the
rules with complete impunity. Others in the MDC tell me they have
evolved strategies which, they believe, would enable to party to make a good
showing regardless of dirty tactics. They feel that, whatever happens, Mugabe
and his heirs must not be able by default to turn the country into
a self-perpetuating dictatorship. They want to show the world there is a
voice of protest trying to be heard, even if the voice is strangled into a
scream. Mugabe appears in utterly reckless mood and indifferent to the perils
of holding an election. The detention of Tsvangirai, on flimsy new charges,
and the stage-managing on June 13 of four hangings in the prison complex
where he was being held indicate a regime that is immune to reason. MDC
justice spokesman David Coltart believes the hangings were a calculated show
of brute force to warn Tsvangirai what may happen to him if the state
can contrive to have him convicted on either of the treason charges he
now faces. However things turn out – and we are entering a time of
dangerous instability – Mugabe will conceive a general election as a crafty
delaying tactic, a rear-guard action.
At the beginning of this
year, I would queue for three hours to get fuel. A few months ago, I often
had to leave my car in the queue overnight. Last week, my car was in the
queue for five days – and I never got a drop. Like most Zimbabweans, I am now
grounded, unable to move further than I can walk, ride a bicycle or find a
rickety, overloaded, dangerous commuter omnibus to carry me. And those are
few and far between – the majority of them having been parked in fruitless
fuel queues since the beginning of May when Zimbabwe ran out of petrol,
diesel and aviation fuel. This is just one more nail in the coffin of life as
we used to know it in this beautiful, once prosperous and promising
bread-basket of Africa. Annual inflation is currently estimated by economists
at 450 per cent, although the official figure is 270 per cent. any salaries
have remained static, while most have not increased more than 60-70 per cent
at the most. What does that mean at a personal level? The quality of life has
deteriorated considerably, leading to a mass exodus of literally millions of
Zimbabweans. Whoever has been able to wangle a visa or slip past the
authorities in many countries, mainly Britain and South Africa, has gone –
most in tears, reluctant to leave the land of their birth but compelled by
economic realities and survival instincts. For me, still living in Zimbabwe,
it means petrol was Z$74 a litre last year. The pump price is now Z$450. But
it is unavailable. So the black market flourishes and petrol goes for around
Z$2,000 a litre – if you are lucky. It means that a loaf of bread, which last
year cost Z$60, now costs Z$550 – and I have to wait in an unruly queue for
several hours to get it. A kilogramme of beef was Z$200 before Christmas,
2002. It now costs Z$3,000 a kilogramme. Our staple diet, maize meal, is also
unobtainable in the shops. On the black market street corners, a 10kg bag
that used to cost around Z$100 now sells for Z$3,000.
The list of
shortages is endless. It includes water, electricity, matches, soap, flour,
sugar, margarine, cooking oil, bread, drugs, transport, spare parts, skilled
personnel, coal, political tolerance, etc. Although this list comprises daily
essentials, two of the most alarming recent additions are seeds and cash. The
seed shortage, occasioned by the haphazard and chaotic land reform programme,
is ominous for the future. If we don’t have seeds to plant today, what shall
we eat tomorrow? The last few weeks have seen an unprecedented shortage of
cash. Long queues snake their way out of banks and building societies as
people queue for hours to withdraw the limited cash available, which is now
rationed to between Z$5,000 and Z$30,000. depending on the institution. Last
week, the Central Bank announced a plan to start printing Z$1,000 bills. But,
with the shortage of foreign currency to import the paper and ink, it will
cost them as much if not more to source the raw materials as the notes will
be worth when they come into circulation. How has Zimbabwe, with its
sophisticated infrastructure, educated population, rich natural resources and
good soils, ended up as a basketcase in so short a time? For starters, there
has been economic mismanagement, serious corruption and lack of political
will to legislate for an open economy. Politically – plain bad government is
to blame. President Robert Mugabe’s 2002 election victory has been widely
challenged as fraudulent. Dr Mugabe has aged and is widely believed to have
run out of ideas about how to fix the problems. He uses draconian legislation
and his still loyal police and army to bludgeon the people into line and keep
a lid on any discontent. A fortnight ago, 2,000 women praying peacefully in
the centre of Harare were accosted by baton-wielding police and beaten
mercilessly. Police brutality and State-sponsored violence have increased
So there is a shortage of everything in Zimbabwe –
including solutions to our problems. The only things increasing in supply are
unemployment, inflation, arrests of human rights activists, journalists and
lawyers, wild-cat strikes and heightened political frustration and
discontent. In the economic meltdown, shortages of electricity, water and
coal, many industries have been forced to close down or operate a short week,
putting more hungry, and angry, people onto the streets. But ironies abound.
Supermarket shelves, instead of being laden with local, affordable produce,
as they always used to be, are now stocked with imported luxury substitutes,
such as powdered milk and tinned cream, Australian butter and French perfumes
– way beyond the reach of any ordinary Zimbabwean. With the foreign currency
to procure these items being obtained on the black market at around Z$2,500 -
Z$3,000 a US dollar, the prices in Zimbabwe dollars inevitably have many
zeros. I certainly have never been able to purchase these goods.
Zimbabweans, however, are a resilient bunch and the current problems,
although of tragic proportions, have given rise to a certain "graveside"
sense of humour. There is the one about a guy who goes shopping with a
wheelbarrow full of Zimbabwe dollars. On the way to the shop, he is mugged –
the muggers overturn the barrow, tip out the cash and make off with the
wheelbarrow! Or the one about the fellow who used to go shopping with a
wallet in his pocket and would come out pushing a trolley full of goods. Now
he has to take a trolley full of money and can fit the few groceries into his
pocket! However, Zimbabwe’s increasing problems are no laughing matter. As
the saying goes, "The darkest hour is before dawn." And the one thing in
plentiful supply in Zimbabwe is hope.
SA spurns Powell's plea to do more to end
By Basildon Peta
South Africa will maintain its
policies on Zimbabwe despite a strong appeal by US Secretary of State Colin
Powell for President Thabo Mbeki's government to play a "stronger and more
sustained role" to achieve change in Zimbabwe. Writing in The New York Times
yesterday, Powell said South Africa should play a stronger and more sustained
role that fully reflected the urgency of the crisis in Zimbabwe and help to
achieve change in that country. He also likened opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, who spent two weeks in jail recently, to Nobel Peace Prize winner
Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent her life fighting the military junta in
Myanmar. But Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said
the final solution to the Zimbabwean crisis lay in the hands of Zimbabwe's
people themselves. He added there was no need for South Africa to change its
policy of quiet diplomacy. "There are well-known, ongoing efforts by South
Africa and regional leaders to help the people of Zimbabwe. Those will
continue, but in the end the solution to the problems there lies with the
Zimbabwean people themselves," said Mamoepa. But Powell made it clear in his
article that he wanted to see more African pressure applied on President
Robert Mugabe. Declaring that Mugabe's time had "come and gone", Powell said
American and European efforts to help achieve change in Zimbabwe would not
succeed until South Africa and other African countries applied more pressure
on Mugabe. "If leaders on the (African) continent do not do more to convince
President Mugabe to respect the rule of law and enter into a dialogue with
the political opposition, he and his cronies will drag Zimbabwe down until
there is nothing left to ruin," said Powell. He said Mugabe's government was
illegitimate and he had no authority to rule after rigging last year's
Two weeks ahead of President George Bush’s first visit to
Africa, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, yesterday unleashed a
blistering public broadside against Robert Mugabe. Mr Powell, writing in the
opinion pages of the influential New York Times, condemned the "violent
misrule" of Zimbabwe’ s president and pledged to back the "brave men and
women" resisting his "tyranny". He urged Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party and
neighbouring South Africa to bring Mr Mugabe to the negotiating table and
ease the transition to a new government. In the wake of the Iraq war, where
Mr Powell was often at odds with the hawkish policies of the American Right,
he appeared to be reasserting his own agenda yesterday. Mr Bush is to visit
South Africa for the first time in early July, also stopping in Senegal,
Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria. Ahead of that trip, Mr Powell - as the first
black US Secretary of State - used a highly public forum to put Zimbabwe
squarely at the top of the agenda.
It was not the first time Mr
Powell had criticised Mr Mugabe’s government. Washington has followed
Britain’s lead with visa restrictions barring travel to the United States by
members of Mr Mugabe’s inner circle. In recent days, the state-run Herald
newspaper has run a series of leaders criticising the US. It said "lies" to
justify aggression in Iraq were on the same footing as "lies" about Zimbabwe.
Mr Powell described how Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector collapsed after Mr
Mugabe confiscated commercial farms, "supposedly for the benefits of poor
blacks". "But his cynical ‘land reform’ has chiefly benefited idle party
hacks and stalwarts, not landless peasants," Mr Powell wrote. As a result,
Zimbabwe’s most productive land has been occupied by Zanu loyalists, military
officers, "or their wives and friends". Mr Powell’s verdict - that the entire
Zimbabwean economy is near collapse, the victim of "reckless governmental
mismanagement and unchecked corruption", with unemployment of 70 per cent and
an inflation rate of 300 per cent - will not come as news to Zimbabweans. For
weeks, most petrol stations have lacked supplies. Queues of rusting cars sit
abandoned outside garages. Yesterday, the Mugabe government announced that
anyone found carrying jerrycans of petrol would be arrested. The measure was
justified "to curb the selling of the commodity on the thriving black
market". Zimbabwean car owners with enough cash buy containers of fuel on the
black market whenever they can, typically for about four times the official
pump price. Last year, the government banned foreign exchange bureaux in a
bid to stifle the currency black market. Rates for scarce foreign currency
have since nearly doubled. This month, carrying large quantities of cash also
appears to have become a crime.
The Bush administration -
particularly in the wake of the 11 September attacks - had opted to repeat
the Clinton administration’s hands-off attitude to Zimbabwe. But Mr Powell
seemed to signal growing impatience with South Africa’s long reluctance to
put serious pressure on the Zimbabwean government. Mr Bush, on the heels of
approving a multi-billion AIDS funding package aimed partly at Africa, now
seems likely to take that message to the South African president, Thabo
Mbeki. South Africa and other African countries "can and should play a
stronger and more sustained role that fully reflects the urgency of
Zimbabwe’s crisis", Mr Powell said. "If leaders on the continent do not do
more to convince President Mugabe to respect the rule of law and enter into a
dialogue with the political opposition, he and his cronies will drag Zimbabwe
down until there is nothing left to ruin, and Zimbabwe’s implosion will
continue to threaten the stability and prosperity of the region." He firmly
threw his weight behind the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, whom he compared to the Nobel prize-winning
Burmese dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi. Rescuing the people of Zimbabwe, Mr
Powell said, was "a worthy and urgent goal for us all".
Zimbabwe witness says Tsvangirai tape not doctored
HARARE, June 25 — A state witness in the trial of
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Wednesday he had found
no evidence that a videotape in which Tsvangirai allegedly plots President
Robert Mugabe's assassination had been tampered with. Tsvangirai
and two senior members of his Movement for Democratic Change could face the
death penalty if convicted of the treason charges, which they all
deny. The state's case against the three rests mainly on a videotape
of a meeting in Montreal between Tsvangirai and Canadian-based
political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe during which the state alleges that
Mugabe's ''elimination'' was discussed. The defence says the
videotape was doctored to discredit the MDC, but Edward Chinhoyi, a technical
expert at state broadcaster ZBC, said he had found no evidence of
interference when police called him in to examine the video. ''On
the number of times that I watched the video I did not see any evidence of
any break in the recording and in my opinion the picture flow was
continuous,'' Chinhoyi told High Court judge Paddington Garwe. ''I did not
see any time when there was a jump in the clock time (on the video) which
would mean that it had been broken by editing,'' he added. The defence
team will have the opportunity to cross-examine Chinhoyi, and is likely to
call its own technical experts. Ben-Menashe, challenged as an
unreliable witness by the defence, denies entrapping Tsvanirai but admits he
taped the meeting solely to obtain evidence for the government -- with which
he consequently signed a political lobby contract. Tsvangirai is
currently on bail and faces a second treason charge that he tried to
instigate the overthrow of Mugabe's government through mass protests staged
by the MDC this month. The MDC leader has mounted a court challenge to
Mugabe's victory in a 2002 presidential poll which the opposition and Western
governments condemned as fraudulent. Zimbabwe has chronic shortages
of fuel and foreign exchange, one of the highest rates of inflation in the
world and a food crisis affecting half of its population.
Zimbabwe heads toward second famine crisis Wed Jun
25, 1:12 PM ET
By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
Zimbabwe - Almost half of all Zimbabweans will need food aid at least until
next year's harvest in April to avoid starvation, the United Nations food
relief agency said Wednesday.
Crop assessments by the World Food
Program and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization
said the dire forecasts raised concerns about whether the country's crumbling
economy could pay for vital imports even if renewed international
humanitarian aid shouldered much of the burden.
Zimbabwe will need to
import an estimated 1.27 million metric tons of cereals — corn, the staple,
and wheat — to feed 5.5 million people, or 47 percent of the
WFP Country Director Kevin Farrell said shortages of hard
currency in Zimbabwe already have led to food, fuel and transportation
shortages, record inflation and unemployment, and a burgeoning black market
that has taken staple foods off the shelves of most regular
"The availability of foreign currency for the coming season
for the importation of food is going to be the big concern for the year,"
International aid was likely to provide just under
half the imports, leaving it to the government to buy the rest at a cost of
at least US$150 million, Farrell said.
There are also acute
shortages of seed, fertilizer and agricultural equipment in
Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic and political crisis
since independence in 1980. Some humanitarian groups already have accused
the embattled government of President Robert Mugabe of using food as a
political weapon against its opponents.
Some aid workers and
Western diplomats said earlier this year that about 200,000 metric tons of
government-purchased food was unaccounted for and may have been diverted to
the black market. They said up to a third of the country's production of
fertilizer was missing or had appeared on the black market in
Farrell said an international donor appeal will be launched
to fund WFP food aid once the government has provided its official
countrywide crop forecast.
The release of the government's forecast,
originally scheduled for early May, was now "imminent," he
No reasons have been given for the delay.
agencies estimate a corn harvest this year of 803,000 metric tons, higher
than last year but still less than half annual consumption.
past year, 350,000 metric tons of food aid were delivered. In the coming
year, it was estimated about 610,000 metric tons of food aid would
be required, Farrell said.
Of that, 120,000 metric tons were
already "in the pipeline," Farrell said.
Current food stocks and
harvests were expected to last until mid to
Mass famine was avoided this year only by
foreign humanitarian aid.
Zimbabwe's once impressive agricultural
production helped feed much of southern Africa. Food production, however, has
been wrecked by erratic rains and the state's often violent seizure of most
white-owned commercial farms. Many large farms that were given to ruling
party elite and favored supporters are lying fallow. Others have been carved
into subsistence plots.
An estimated 70 percent of Zimbabweans are
unemployed and inflation has soared to 300 percent.
anti-government strikes called by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change shut down much of the economy but street protests demanding democratic
reform were thwarted by a massive show of force by police, troops and ruling
party militia backed by armored cars, water cannons and
The farm seizures and political violence since 2000 have
disrupted production of tobacco, the main hard currency earner, and slashed
hard currency earnings from mining, industry and tourism.
market currency exchange rate rose this week to 2,200 Zimbabwe dollars to the
U.S. dollar, dealers said. The official exchange rate is 824-1.
evidence produced in the treason trial of Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai was "inaudible", a government recording expert told the court on
Constantine Musango, a court official tasked with making
transcripts of recorded evidence, was appearing as a state witness in the
ongoing treason trial of Tsvangirai and two other senior Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) officials accused of plotting to kill President
The evidence against the three hinges on secretly recorded
tapes of meetings Tsvangirai had with Canada-based political consultant Ari
Ben Menashe at which Tsvangirai allegedly requested Mugabe's "elimination"
ahead of 2002 presidential elections.
Musango said he was not given an
original copy of an audiotape of a meeting Tsvangirai held with Ben Menashe
in London, while the images on a videotape of a meeting he had with him in
December 2001 were unclear.
He said he had brought his concerns about the
inaudibility of the tapes to the attention of the government's law office,
which is representing the state against the MDC trio.
"I just wanted
to explain to them the tapes were inaudible," Musango said. "The impression I
got from the attorney general was that I should go ahead in
Defence lawyer Chris Andersen claimed police had
suppressed information. He said an original, clearer audiotape had not been
turned over to Musango or the attorney general's office.
MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube, and senior party official Renson Gasela
deny they plotted to kill Mugabe, and claim they were set up.
the death penalty if convicted. - Sapa-AFP
You are again
invited to attend the following Service to lift up your prayers for Zimbabwe in
an attitude of combined fellowship. Should you not be able to join us physically
please be with us spiritually and take time at 08.30 to think and pray for the
relief from suffering of all Zimbabweans and the deliverance from the evil that
pervades our nation at this time.
African nations need to put strong
pressure on Zimbabwe's government to end its authoritarian rule, US Secretary
of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday as the main opposition leader returned
to court to face the first of two treason cases.
say President Robert Mugabe's government has targeted Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai as part of a desperate bid to cling to
power despite political and economic chaos roiling the nation.
estimated 70% of Zimbabweans are unemployed, inflation has soared to 269%,
hunger is rife and recent opposition protest efforts were thwarted only when
police and soldiers fired tear gas and live bullets at
Writing in Tuesday's New York Times, Powell
called the government "a ruthless regime," accused Mugabe of "violent
misrule" and predicted he and his cronies would eventually lose their fight
for power, "dragging their soiled record behind them into obscurity".
However, Zimbabwe's neighbours in Africa have to step up pressure on Mugabe
to ensure a swift end to his dictatorship and save their region from further
instability, he said.
"If leaders on the continent do not do more to
convince President Robert Mugabe to respect the rule of law and enter into a
dialogue with the political opposition, he and his cronies will drag Zimbabwe
down until there is nothing left to ruin," he wrote.
bemoaned the treatment of Tsvangirai, comparing him to Myanmar pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate imprisoned by her
For now, Tsvangirai is a free man, having been released on
bail on Friday in the second of two separate treason cases he is
Treason is punishable by death in Zimbabwe.
charges accuse Tsvangirai, jailed for two weeks after calling
for anti-government strikes and protests earlier this month, of
advocating Mugabe's violent overthrow.
In the earlier charges, which
he faced in his ongoing trial on Tuesday, prosecutors say he and two other
opposition leaders planned to assassinate Mugabe and sought the help of air
force head Perence Shiri in a planned coup.
The three deny the
charges, saying they were framed by the government to weaken the
Shiri told the Harare High Court on Tuesday he was approached
by opposition officials in January last year and offered Z$10-million (US$182
000 at the former official exchange rate) only to "pacify" the
Defence attorney Eric Matinenga said Shiri held two meetings
with the officials, including the opposition's shadow defence minister,
Giles Mutsekwa, a former army officer. He said the meetings did not deal with
a possible coup and were called ahead of last year's presidential election
to clarify a televised statement made by police and military chiefs that
they would not work with Tsvangirai if he were elected.
armed forces chief General Vitalis Zvinavashe wrote that statement, which
said the military would not follow a leader who had not fought in the bush
war that led to independence in 1980 and swept Mugabe to power.
us to maintain discipline, I cannot question what my superior said. He is a
four-star general, I am a three-star general," Shiri said.
at Shiri's Harare home with opposition officials "was not mainly about the
elections. It was whether I would cooperate with the [opposition] once it
assumed power," he said.
Shiri, a senior ruling party official, said he
knew the Constitution required the military to remain
Tsvangirai was arrested and charged two weeks before the
March 2001 election, which Mugabe narrowly won.
said the election was swayed by state-orchestrated political violence and
Charges in the trial are based on a secretly recorded video
tape made in the offices of Canada-based political consultant Ari Ben
Menashe. He claims Tsvangirai asked for help in an assassination plot and
Prosecutors say Tsvangirai again tried to topple Mugabe through
this month's protest action.
The opposition blames Mugabe for
crippling the economy and creating acute shortages of fuel, food, medicine
and essential imports. Mass famine was avoided this year only by foreign
humanitarian aid. - Sapa-AP
Tourist: Zim slams SA media 25/06/2003 15:08 -
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's High Commissioner to South Africa
Simon Moyo has accused the local media of being "unAfrican" in the way they
reported the murder of a South African tourist in Zimbabwe on
"It is unfortunate that some media in South Africa have found it
appropriate to exploit the incident and bring in their usual obsession with
Zimbabwe, by bringing in extraneous issues," he said on
"Such conduct is deplorable in the extreme. It is insensitive,
unAfrican and inhuman."
Moyo, however, was not immediately available
Thomas and his girlfriend, Megan, her father and her two
youth sisters were approached by three gunmen at Hillside Dams, a family
resort in Bulawayo.
One of the men shot and killed Thomas before robbing
his girlfriend and her family of items to the value of Z$12m (about R11 760).
Four men had been arrested in connection with the killing.
African newspaper reported that Megan's father, Leon Bezuidenhout, who
witnessed the killing, said there was no hope of a revival of the tourism
industry in Zimbabwe.
He said Thomas's murder was typical of the violence
common in that southern Africa country.
"It is so pathetic that
tourists who bring in the much-needed foreign currency in Zimbabwe can be
murdered like this. Zimbabwe's tourism industry has ground to a halt because
of the rampant lawlessness and if the government cannot stop it then there is
no hope for its revival at all," said Bezuidenhout, who is an official at a
South African tourism company.
Tourism in Zimbabwe has fallen off sharply
over the past three years due partly to political tensions in the southern
On Wednesday Moyo also conveyed his condolences to
relatives and family of Thomas, saying the killing was
"The city of Bulawayo, where the incident occurred, is known
for its peace and tranquillity, let alone the hospitality of its
He said although the incident was viewed as isolated, the
speed with which the police have moved to arrest those allegedly involved was
They are: Sikhumbuzo Moyo, 26, Wiseman Ncube, 39, Judas
Misheck, 23 and Ezekiel Ncube, 28, all of Old Pumula township.
suspects were initially picked up, and their capture led to the arrest of a
fourth on Tuesday.
The Bulawayo-based newspaper, the Chronicle, reported
on Wednesday that the four suspects have been linked to other crimes in the
Inspector Langa Ndlovu described the act as purely
criminally-motivated and said the suspects will be dealt with
He said one of the suspects was found in possession of a
pocket knife, a spark plug and a hyenas tail.
"He said he was given
the hyena's tail by an Inyanga to protect him from police detection for other
crimes he had committed," Ndlovu told the paper.
A Sapa correspondent in
Zimbabwe has reported that Thomas's body was flown to Johannesburg on Tuesday
The body was ferried by an SOS International plane which was
chartered from South Africa by an unnamed medical aid company for which
Thomas' mother works.
This was after Air Zimbabwe had told the
deceased's family that they had no commercial flights to South
Denise Bezuidenhout, Megan's mother, said he would be buried in
Boksburg on Saturday after a service at Boksburg's Trinity
"SOS International came on Tuesday to collect the body and went
back the same day. We are supposed to be leaving Zimbabwe today (on
Wednesday) for the burial on Saturday morning," said Bezuidenhout.
24, 2003 Freeing a Nation From a Tyrant's Grip By COLIN L. POWELL
brave man recently met with me and described how life in his country
has become unbearable. "There is too much fear in the country, fear of
the unknown and fear of the known consequences if we act or speak
out," explained Pius Ncube, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe. Yet Archbishop Ncube speaks out fearlessly about the terrible human
rights conditions in Zimbabwe, and is threatened almost every day with
detention or worse.
For hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, the
worst has already come. Millions of people are desperately hungry because the
country's once-thriving agricultural sector collapsed last year after
President Robert Mugabe confiscated commercial farms, supposedly for the
benefit of poor blacks. But his cynical "land reform" program has chiefly
benefited idle party hacks and stalwarts, not landless peasants. As a result,
much of Zimbabwe's most productive land is now occupied by loyalists of the
ruling ZANU-PF party, military officers, or their wives and
Worse still, the entire Zimbabwean economy is near collapse.
Reckless governmental mismanagement and unchecked corruption have produced
annual inflation rates near 300 percent, unemployment of more than 70 percent
and widespread shortages of food, fuel and other basic necessities. Is it
any wonder that Zimbabweans are demanding political change, or that
President Mugabe must rely on stepped-up violence and vote-rigging to remain
On June 6, the police again arrested Mr. Mugabe's most
prominent opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. They paraded him in a courtroom in
shackles and leg irons before releasing him on bail on June 20. His offense?
Calling for work stoppages and demonstrations to protest economic hardship
and political repression.
Like Myanmar's courageous opposition leader,
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Tsvangirai wages a nonviolent struggle against a
ruthless regime. Like the Burmese junta, President Mugabe and his Politburo
colleagues have an absolute monopoly of coercive power, but no legitimacy or
moral authority. In the long run, President Mugabe and his minions will lose,
dragging their soiled record behind them into obscurity. But how long will it
take? How many good Zimbabweans will have to lose their jobs, their homes, or
even their lives before President Mugabe's violent misrule runs its
The United States ^× and the European Union ^× has imposed a visa
ban on Zimbabwe's leaders and frozen their overseas assets. We have ended
all official assistance to the government of Zimbabwe. We have urged
other governments to do the same. We will persist in speaking out strongly
in defense of human rights and the rule of law. And we will continue to
assist directly, in many different ways, the brave men and women of Zimbabwe
who are resisting tyranny.
But our efforts are unlikely to succeed
quickly enough without greater engagement by Zimbabwe's neighbors. South
Africa and other African countries are increasingly concerned and active on
Zimbabwe, but they can and should play a stronger and more sustained role
that fully reflects the urgency of Zimbabwe's crisis. If leaders on the
continent do not do more to convince President Mugabe to respect the rule of
law and enter into a dialogue with the political opposition, he and his
cronies will drag Zimbabwe down until there is nothing left to ruin ^× and
Zimbabwe's implosion will continue to threaten the stability and prosperity
of the region.
There is a way out of the crisis. ZANU-PF and the
opposition party can together legislate the constitutional changes to allow
for a transition. With the president gone, with a transitional government in
place and with a date fixed for new elections, Zimbabweans of all
descriptions would, I believe, come together to begin the process of
rebuilding their country. If this happened, the United States would be quick
to pledge generous assistance to the restoration of Zimbabwe's political and
economic institutions even before the election. Other donors, I am sure,
would be close behind.
Reading this, Robert Mugabe and his cohorts may
cry, "Blackmail." We should ignore them. Their time has come and gone. As
Archbishop Ncube has said, "Things in our country can hardly get worse." With
the perseverance of brave Zimbabweans, strengthened commitment from their
neighbors, and the strong support of the international community, we can
rescue the people of Zimbabwe. This is a worthy and urgent goal for us
Zimbabwe's administrative court is "hopelessly
clogged" with a backlog of contested cases under the government's land reform
programme, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has warned.
Of the 6,001
farms gazetted by the government for acquisition, ownership of only 245
properties had been legally transferred by the administrative court by the
end of last month, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported on
"It goes to show how few farms have been legally occupied,"
CFU executive officer Jerry Davison commented.
He told IRIN that under
the government's land law, the court transfer of ownership should have
preceded occupation of the farms. But instead, farms were occupied by new
settlers first, often supported by the police, in a process marked by
"That is the basis for our general statement that
land reform was not legal," Davison said.
Ruling ZANU-PF party members
who recently attended a seminar on agrarian reform were reportedly dismayed
over the slow progress by the administrative court, ZBC reported, suggesting
that civil servants could be responsible for sabotaging the government
Davison said the state's lawyers and officials in the ministry
of agriculture had often presented their cases very badly, allowing
for effective legal challenges. As a result of the backlog, the government
was being forced to relist farms already designated for acquisition because
a two-year window for confirmation by the court had expired.
one way to clear the backlog was for the government to pay compensation to
farmers for their seized property.
"Farmers are contesting because they
have nothing to lose. They would take the money and run, but because there is
no compensation, it's creating a stalemate in the litigation," Davison
For some time I have thought on
this question. The question centres on whether we believe that the Union is,
at this time, an asset to farmers and ex-farmers or a liability. If the
Union is a liability and looks to remain a liability working outside the
ethos and the constitution with which it was set up then the Union needs to
be brought into line. Attempts through resolutions appear to have failed.
What about litigation?
There are without doubt strong grounds to sue the
CFU. The CFU constitution provides for this in stating, "it is a body
corporate - capable of suing or being sued". Section 2.
The Union was
set up with a set of 17 "objects". The overall object as laid out in its
constitution is to "protect and advance the interests of those persons
engaged in farming activities in Zimbabwe*" The questions are: - a) Has the
CFU protected and advanced its members' interests? b) Should the CFU be held
accountable for not doing so if it is found it has not protected and advanced
its members interests?
There are 5 main issues where the CFU has failed
to protect and advance its members' interests as spelt out in the objects of
1) It is clear that the Union has on a number of
occasions spelt out its requirement to be "politically acceptable" to the
ruling party so that dialogue can take place. It has gone to great lengths to
ensure that it is politically acceptable. Its whole policy since March 2001,
if not before, has revolved around this concept. It was stated to me by
President Cloete when I was given two days to resign that we had to be
"politically acceptable" (to the Party). It is my contention that this is in
direct conflict with the last point in the CFU's constitution under object
(q), which says "the Union shall not participate in nor concern itself
with party politics". If this is a difficult thing to achieve in Zimbabwe
at present there has been ample time to change the CFU constitution at any
one of the 4 Congresses since February 2000.
2) The Union has been
well aware that there has been strong opposition from its membership against
the policy of becoming "politically acceptable" and following what has
amounted to the appeasement line. There have been a number of calls for a
referendum on the issue but they have fallen on deaf ears in the Union
building. In an attempt to have the Union's membership voice heard in a
survey in early 2002 I put in a question regarding whether members wanted the
Union to litigate or not. The question never went out as the hierarchy
vetted the survey before it went out. The whole spirit of the Union's
constitution is to allow the democratic view to prevail and the grass roots
voice to be heard and to become policy. Under object (g) the Union is
mandated to "*express the views of those engaged in the farming industry*" No
referendum has taken place regarding the critical issues of whether laws like
the "protection of eviction act; SI 6; Amendment number 6 to the Land
Acquisition Act etc., should be challenged or not. This has led to tremendous
hard feeling which again under object (i) runs counter to the constitution,
which aims to "promote cooperation amongst its members."
Further to this
the Union hierarchy have actively broken down democratic regional structures
against its constitution, which states in (11.3) "The principle function of
the Regional Council shall be to foster grass root support for and
participation in the affairs of all farmers' associations". By not allowing
representation on regional Council from Regions like Mashonaland West (south)
and from which the composition of the regional council should be derived "The
regional council shall consist of the Chairmen of each of the regional
executives with funds".
(Section 11.1). The Union also has an obligation
"to provide funds for the maintenance of offices and staff for the Regional
Council and all regional executives. Such expenses shall include provision
for salaries, rent, general office expenses and all travelling and
subsistence allowances." Pulling out of funding some of the regions is
The reason that the Union has destroyed some of these
structures is surely to attain "political acceptability" by "muzzling" some
of its regions.
3) In April 2002, just ahead of amendment no. 6 to the
Land Acquisition Act, the farmer magazine was closed under very dubious
circumstances after being deemed "politically unacceptable". The editor
wrote in the leader article, "History will judge critically those who
believed, for whatever reason, that there was merit in burying the truth."
"Critics said we made life difficult for the Commercial Farmers Union. Well,
for us the Union is its members, * To us victims like Terry Ford are far more
important than the people in Agriculture House." (Who closed the magazine
down unexpectedly in a most devious manner, without any consultation with
the readership). In speaking with one of the trustees the
political unacceptability of the editorials was voiced in no uncertain terms.
Since then the sitreps which broadcast to the nation and the world what
was taking place on our farms with our members being dispossessed etc.
also stopped. The public relations post was terminated as well. A
politically acceptable newsletter was then launched by one of the former
trustees of the Farmer magazine but no views of members were allowed to be
printed and the true injustices taking place were severely toned down or not
printed at all in line with the prediction by the Farmer's editor in April
2002 that, "We sense, but do not know that the new paper will give less
attention to the appalling plight facing farmers and farm
Object (c) in the CFU constitution states that the Union should
"collect, provide and disseminate among its members and other persons,
advice, information and statistics relating to the farming industry through
the Union's own or any other newspaper or in any other manner". The spirit
of this object is surely to publicise anything serious that is happening
in the industry. The industry's complete destruction should surely
have warranted extra public relations channels particularly in view of
the international media interest in our plight.
4) The crux of the
issue is the Unions failure to protect its members from the law. Regarding
the most critical amendment to the land acquisition act in May 2002 when 60%
of members were given 45 days to stop farming and 90 days to leave their
homes the Union through Mr. Cloete put out a statement on the 12th June which
stated "CFU will continue a non confrontational approach seeking to resolve
issues through dialogue". Their withdrawal from any litigation had been
complete even with the introduction of laws that were likely to, and
extensively did, destroy the commercial farming sector. This was again in
conflict with the Unions constitution under object (d). The object was "to
sponsor, oppose or support, any legislation, the introduction of which is
likely to affect beneficially or otherwise as the case may be, the interests
of its members or the agricultural industry generally". Under object (l) the
Union aimed to "assist financially or otherwise in any movement or action
which the Union may consider to be in the interests of the farming community
and, so far as is consistent with the law of Zimbabwe, to assist financially
in the bringing or defending of any case or action at law which the Union
may consider should, in the interests of the farming community be brought
or defended". The Unions failure to support the "Quinnell case";
its failure to put funding towards the S.I.6 cases until farmers had
been prejudiced of over $Z3 billion its failure to support "the Rule of
Law" case to date despite Justice for Agriculture having asked for affidavits
on January 7th 2003 have shown a complete disregard for object (L) of
the Union's constitution. On the 6th September the President, Mr Cloete, in
a memorandum to Councillors stated, "The legality of section 8
compulsory acquisition orders is not being challenged by the Union at this
time as the Council has preferred to mandate the President and Vice President
to enter into dialogue with the Government to alleviate the effects of
section 8 orders". He goes on to parrot the regime and destroy confidence
further by stating, "It is certain that this land reform process is
irreversible." It was out of this attitude that JAG was formed and I was
suspended from the Union, and remain suspended 9 months later, without ever
having received my leave pay let alone anything else.
5) The Union has
stubbornly refused to coordinate or set up any meaningful avenues for gaining
compensation and restitution for its members who have been dispossessed. One
of the reasons for Justice for Agriculture being set up by disgruntled Union
members was to get this organised. JAG negotiated the setting up of the
Valuation Consortium, which has so far saved farmers in excess of Z$1
billion. JAG designed and initiated a Loss Claim Document involving
consequential losses and accountability, which the Union, 12 months later,
has still not put its weight behind (because it involves being politically
unacceptable I imagine). Object (L) of the CFU constitution is to "negotiate,
consider, discuss and advise*..on all question and matters relating
to**compensation for loss of any improvements and for any disturbance arising
from the acquisition of property". Where billions of dollars and millions of
livelihoods are at stake CFU's inaction is unacceptable. A lot of the
compensation issue involves showing how the State and ZANU (PF) has created
the lawlessness, dispossession, loss of income, loss of jobs etc. so that in
the future individuals, through an organised structure can hold the State and
ZANU (PF) liable for compensation and restitution. If the Union continues to
resist helping with this process it is failing to serve the best interests of
the members who formed and have kept the Union
It is clear to me from the above that the Union
has not fulfilled its constitutional obligations "to protect and advance the
interests of those persons engaged in farming activities in Zimbabwe". In my
own mind the Union is merely part of the establishment which involves big
business and big money. The establishment has rarely in history been a
potent force for what is right. The establishment, traditionally, does not
stand up against the establishment because there are too many links, too much
complicity, too many agents of influence looking towards pockets rather
than principles; money rather than morality.
remains "Should the CFU be held accountable for
Dear Simon, I enjoyed your submission to JAG re the distortions and
false information circulated about land in Zimbabwe. As you say most land has
been registered and taxed by Mugabe himself.
How many farmers like us
bought a farm through Govt. finances (AFC) and then stocked it with cattle
bought on Govt. money (CSC)? How many heirs paid estate duty to Mugabe's
Government? He was quite happy to spend the taxes paid in good years when we
made a profit.
How many farmers joined the Police Special Constabulary to
help the Government fight off the dissidents? We shared a common interest, we
were one people.
I have always believed that in 1979-80 when the
various parties got together and Zimbabwe was born it was agreed that it was
a new start and that the past was no longer important. We were all
Zimbabweans regardless of colour. Those who were not happy
Mugabe himself toured the farming areas to reassure the farmers
that they were an integral part of the country, the economy and society in
general. I was in Nyamandlovu in 1980,the day he flew in and told the farmers
that: "Some of my people are settlers too." and "You must be part of
I don't know how many times the farming community went on record
as accepting the need for resettlement and the relief of the poor.
Many meetings were held and many miles travelled in an effort to identify
land available and suitable for resettlement. All these well meaning
efforts were spurned.
I wish I had kept a record of all the things
Mugabe said in the early years. On many occasions he was really positive
about the whites.....that's why we stayed/continued. Surely there must be a
record of all the speeches ministers made at CFU congresses etc. I'd love to
rub some of their noses in the fine words they said. These are the sorts of
things that should be shown to the world at large to put today's rhetoric in
perspective. i.e. why were commercial farmers welcome then but are now living
on stolen land ? Why did Government issue certificates of "no present
interest" over the years and now claim that whites own all the best land
I am sorry to say our CFU has been fast asleep right throughout
the exercise. They have missed so many tricks and chances to put the
record straight. The first time I heard our current CFU President speak I
was embarrassed for him.... it was as though he had never been part of
the farming scene in this country.
Right now I have a sense of unease
about the farming scenario...there is just too much fragmentation and
division. This is not healthy. Those that are still on the land are eyed with
suspicion and those who have suffered the trauma of losing everything are
being labelled "freeloaders" because in their bitterness they have not
renewed their CFU licences. Divide and rule! Where to next?
needs more understanding. Our leaders need to lead and we need the faith and
courage to carry on.