The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2001 2:09 PM
Subject: Fw: have not given up on us

: Sunday, October 28, 2001 2:08 PM
Subject: have not given up on us

 Dear family and friends,
Anthrax is the disease on everyone's mind at the moment. Across the world there is talk of envelopes filled with white powder which carry spores of the deadly bacteria. Zimbabwe now has an outbreak of anthrax and 15 people are in hospital but in our case the bacteria has not arrived by post but in the infected meat of an animal which was consumed by hungry villagers. Our state run media have given huge coverage to the outbreak of anthrax in Zimbabwe and there have been loud and disgusting statements on the ZBC radio news that this is the work of white commercial farmers who have deliberately introduced the bacteria because they are angry about the seizure of their farms. I will not waste precious words commenting on those ridiculous and bigotted claims but would like to remind people of a couple of facts. As I researched the closing pages of African Tears earlier this year, anthrax was mentioned more than once. In November 2000, 2 people and 32 cattle died in Makoni from Anthrax. In Makonde 19 people were hospitalised and 38 cattle died and in Chiota, across the road from my farm, 5 cattle died of Anthrax. At that time and twice since then I reported that Anthrax had become a real worry - not because the spores were arriving in white envelopes from international terrorists - but because the fences were all being removed by 'war veterans' and there was absolutely no control on the movement of cattle. Regular communal cattle dipping programmes had ceased and 'war veterans' were refusing to allow government veterinary inspectors to do their jobs, accusing of them of being sellouts for visiting white farms. This is still the case now. Perhaps the saddest thing about 15 people currently in hospital near Kwekwe being treated for anthrax is that they had eaten infected meat. People are hungry and getting hungrier by the day.
On Friday morning in temperatures way up in the 30's, I scrambled around Marondera looking for maize meal. In the two biggest shops there was none of this stable food at all and in the third I finally managed to get four of the last dozen bags. The headlines on the daily newspaper that day were: "Shortages of basic goods hits Harare." It is not only  in the capital city though. It is now becoming increasingly difficult to find maize meal, cooking oil, rice, salt and flour. Soap of all kinds from the strong, cheap red carbolic type to scented bath tablets is now completely non existent. Washing powder is the same. In fact almost of all the goods that the government put price controls on are now getting harder to find. On Friday the Daily News reported that the shortage of maize and meal is now so dire that 'war veterans' and police have started setting up road blocks in outlying areas. They order passenngers off buses and relieve travellers of any maize that they find. In some cases the passengers are forced to go and sell their maize (1kg or 100 kgs) at the nearest government run grain depot. In other cases it is just being impounded. One passenger said: "It is very unfair that they say they are giving us land to produce maize but we are not allowed to eat it or even carry it to our families in urban areas." As with the hundreds of thousands of other infringements of our human rights, it is not possible to seek justice from the Zimbabwean police as they are actively involved in the activity, man the road blocks and take part in the impoundement. This is what it is like living in a country without law and order. Can you imagine being ordered off a bus and being forced to hand over your food?
This week a delegation of foreign ministers from the Commonwealth visited Zimbabwe for two days to assess the progress of the recently brokered Accord in Abuja. Our hopes for sanity were seriously dented when the Zimbabwean Foreign Minister began making some very angry pronouncements before the delegation had even arrived. One of the issues of major concern to us all is pre election monitors from outside of Zimbabwe being allowed into the country. Dr Mudenge publicly rejected the  EU calls for observers. In an extremely confusing and apparently contradictory statement he said "We fear not to drink from the cup because there is poison in it." He went on to say: " We do not want a Milosovic situation in Zimbabwe - giving the opposition money to oust the government and so on. This will not be accepted or tolerated here. We saw what happened in Yugoslavia and we will not allow it to happen here." A couple of days later the Commonwealth delegation arrived and there were some very stormy sessions, some particularly vitriolic propaganda but no doubt in anyones minds that the Foreign Ministers saw exactly what is going on here. They were not taken in by the propaganda, they would not be fobbed off and, although touch and go, a communique was at last agreed upon and released, the world have not yet given up on us. I was honoured to meet with two of the delegates very briefly and will use that as an excuse for my letter being a day late this week. I have again been humbled to know that complete strangers from the other side of the world do still care very passionately about the appalling situation in Zimbabwe and are as horrified as we are about the complete break down of law and order in our country and outrageous human rights abuses that have affected thousands of Zimbabweans of all colours and ages. To you all that still care and have not given up on us, thank you. Until next week, with love cathy
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Media reports on MDC troubles

I have had so many questions, calls and signals of dismay about recent media reports on MDC troubles that I am forced to respond.

It astounds me that intelligent people, even foreigners who have been in the country perhaps only a month, can suspend their powers of analysis and evaluation to the extent of believing everything they read in "The Herald" or hear and see on ZBC concerning the opposition in general and MDC in particular!

Let me assure you that the stories are pure fiction with just a sprinkling of truth for credibility's sake. It is true that there is currently an internal commission of inquiry looking into the problems which arose at the Harare Province election and the subsequent disturbance in Chitungwiza. To enable the inquiry to proceed without interference, 4 young MPs and a couple of Chitungwiza leaders have been suspended from their positions until such time as the commission presents its report and a decision is taken on disciplinary measures. This is normal procedure during an inquiry.

There is not a grain of truth in the stories of ethnic in-fighting or questions over Morgan Tsvangirai's candidature for the Presidential election. We unanimously elected him our candidate last year soon after the General Election, and no-one, not Gibson Sibanda nor Welshman Ncube nor anyone else, has any intention whatsoever of vying for that position.

We are a strong, united party with the support of at least 9 million people in this country who want change and who believe that Morgan Tsvangirai is the man to bring that change. There is no way a couple of internal squabbles can destroy the MDC. There is no way the people of this country will allow ZanuPF and its CIO, pseudo - NGOs, state-controlled media & other machinery to destroy the MDC. They are trying, and they will be up to all manner of dirty tricks, much dirtier than the lies you have been reading and hearing the past couple of weeks, but we must stand firm and not allow them to shake our resolve or our certainty that WE SHALL OVERCOME!

Together we can complete the change for a better life for all Zimbabweans.
The power is in our hands.

Trudy Stevenson
Secretary for Policy and Research
October 18, 2001
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MDC Infighting – Fact or Fiction?

The state media has been going to fantastic lengths recently in an effort to present an image to the public of an MDC that is divided and is fighting itself over various things - the ethnic divide, ideological issues and factionalism. Just this week I have seen an article in the national media stating that Chief Ndeweni has "demanded" that the leadership of the MDC pass to the members of the Executive that come from Matebeleland. This morning there was an equally bizarre item on the radio to the effect that we were intending to hold a Party Congress to "resolve" the leadership dispute.  For weeks we have seen stories about the four younger Members of Parliament who have been recently suspended from their Party posts until an investigation is completed into the underlying issues.

I am always amazed that anyone listens to the state media or reads the state controlled newspapers - even more astonished when these matters get given any credence, but it seems to happen.  So I thought I should give you a bit of an "insiders view" of these issues.

All of the suspended Members of Parliament are personal friends as well as being colleagues. Tapiwa, as the Shadow Minister of Finance, works with me very closely and sits on my Committee dealing with economic matters. They are all bright, well educated and young - the latter feature is perhaps the most important because this makes them more vulnerable to the kinds of things that the CIO gets up to from time to time. 

Job Sikhala has been a target of the CIO from day one - he is a delightful character, very forthright in his opinions and a history graduate, which gives him special insight into what is going on in the country. They hate Job with a passion and sometimes he wreaks havoc in Parliament with his pithy and biting comments. He also has a short fuse and is easily aroused. Try that on any of the older leaders and they will just laugh at you - they have been there before. In the early days of the MDC Job was selected as a tinderbox on which the CIO hoped to launch a violent campaign against the thugs of Zanu PF. We were able to point this out to Job and he has been able to take all the punishment metered out on him and his family and still present the other cheek to his tormentors. Let me tell you - Job is a big man and that has not been an easy task for him.

Last week I reviewed the documentation that has been the subject of the dispute between Tapiwa and the other three - I was astonished and I told Tapiwa so, most of the documents are so clearly a CIO plant that they should never have been given any credence. They are crude forgeries and designed to foster conflict and division in the MDC.  I was disappointed that the CIO could not do a better job with all the resources at their disposal. Tapiwa was astonished that I gave the documents so little credence. Learmore, in his role as spokesperson for the Party has proved to be quick and sharp and eloquent. He should have exercised a bit more caution in his reaction than he did - but he is learning, fast. All of them have accepted, in a mature way, the actions taken by the Executive to resolve the issue.

Our senior leadership has warned us very strongly that we must be very careful about our personal behavior. The CIO are following us around and we are being filmed and recorded constantly. They are doing this to try and catch us in a compromising position and then will use this stuff against us in any way they can.  If they cannot find anything then they will simply go out and fabricate it - this is easier than you might think! 

When I accepted a position with the MDC in 1999, Morgan had me in and warned me that if I went out on a limb for the MDC I had to accept that I would be opening myself to all sorts of personal attack. My business interests would be in danger, my family threatened and my reputation sullied. He wanted me to know that before I committed myself to the job. He was right but I accepted the role because I wanted to help rescue the country from the deep despair and hardship that it was in because of Zanu PF mismanagement and corruption. If we fail, the country is a write off anyway - so what if in the process we lose what we already have.

I was in the leadership of the Forum Party and remember well how easily the CIO infiltrated our ranks and sunk our ship. The MDC is a different kettle of fish - led by tough seasoned politicians who have been in the front line for many years and are a tight knit group. The CIO have not been able to infiltrate to any great extent - even in the lower levels of the Party where you would think it was quite easy. The temptations are great - we have been shown cheques drawn on building society accounts for a million dollars in favour of individuals - rewards to them for dropping an MDC position or withdrawing from an election contest. Its impossible to think that they have not had some success - fear and greed are very effective in such a struggle, but my general reading of the situation is that they have had very limited success.

The manner in which the conflicts in Harare and Chitungwiza Provinces are being resolved is both disciplined and principled. When the preliminary investigations found some evidence it was decided to appoint a Commission of "elders" to investigate - all three are capable and mature. They were then given a free hand with the clear instruction that they were to report back as soon as possible but within a month at the latest. Then the persons caught up in the spat were all told to withdraw from their Party positions until the report was in. If any evidence is found of misbehavior by anyone involved, the Parties disciplinary committee will take disciplinary action.  After that they can appeal if they feel that they have not been heard fairly or a wrong conclusion drawn.  These actions were given unanimous support at the Executive and Council meetings held last week.

On the issue of the "ethnic" divide, I can remember the days in the early 60's when Zapu and Zanu fought in the streets and villages for supremacy in the race for leadership of the struggle against the white government of Rhodesia. I grew up amongst the Ndebele and know well their deep feelings of being marginalised and ignored both in Rhodesia and then in the new Zimbabwe. The late Joshua Nkomo was a regular guest in our home in Bulawayo in the 80's before and after his forced exile. I am well aware of the deep feelings of the Ndebele about the attempted genocide of their leadership in the mid 80's.

I am a white man - born and raised in this country, but still a "Murungu" with all the baggage that that entails. My forefathers were not angels - they were often ruthless and full of avarice and certainly believed in their innate supremacy as a race. These things run deep - they will take many generations to overcome. I am pleased and surprised at how far we have gone in such a short time already, but no one, least of all the MDC, says it will be easy.

Since I joined the MDC in 1999, I have never perceived any substantive signs of any deep ethnic divide. On the contrary, the leadership is remarkable unified in every way and no cognizance is given on any issue to the question of race, tribe, religion or even ideological persuasion. I sit next to Gwisai, a convinced Marxist in Party meetings and we discuss key issues openly and frankly. We do not agree on everything - but we sail under the same flag and accept its rules. I feel totally accepted in the structures and have been with Morgan in all areas of the country. There can be no doubt that he is the leader of the Party and has the full acceptance of all provincial leaders. When he is in Bulawayo, the greeting he gets is no different to that in Harare. Mugabe certainly could not walk the streets of Bulawayo without a heavy security presence, he would have difficulty in holding a meeting anywhere in the province, the same cannot be said of Morgan or Gibson, his deputy, who finds similar acceptance in the Shona areas of the country.

In a unique way, MDC is an amalgam of different interests and people and this is its strength, not its weakness.  What holds it together is not what others might say - simply its desire to rid Zimbabwe of the Zanu plague, sure that is there, but its much more. We share a commitment to a new, more democratic Zimbabwe, under a new constitution, which will outlaw for many years the presidential dictatorship we have been living under for the past 20 years. We share a commitment to new economic policies that will harness our great natural resources to our human resources within the frame of a dynamic, market driven economy, for the betterment of all our people. We share a commitment to rid the country of corrupt individuals and businesses that have bled our economy dry and impoverished our population. We share a vision of a better future for all our children, one in which they will each be accepted as individuals and citizens with equal rights and responsibilities.

When I read that "statement" from Chief Ndeweni and the claim that Gibson and Welshman were vying for the Party leadership I laughed out loud.  It is so ridiculous that it's laughable - but it also encourages me because it reveals how desperate this bunch are and the lengths to which they will go to undermine the image of the MDC. I am not concerned about the impact of this nonsense on the mass of our membership or even the majority of our population; I learned long ago that ordinary Zimbabweans have a wonderful system of communication that works much more effectively than any state controlled system. I was concerned that those who do not have any contact with the MDC on a direct basis, might actually become disheartened by what they get fed very day - especially if you, like the great majority of us, cannot afford DSTV or find a copy of the Daily News 5 minutes after it has arrived.

Eddie Cross
17th October 2001
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Zim Standard

Insight with Chenjerai Hove—Violence and political control

Chenjerai Hove
A FEW weeks ago, I was talking to an elderly woman about her uneducated view
of politics. She was emphatic that my views did not always take precedence
over her own since she lives in the countryside and knows things (kuziva
zvinhu) on the ground. I wanted to provoke her and it worked.

By the way, she is very old, approaching 90 years of age. We were talking
about rural violence and its consequences for private and public life.

“You see, my child, we saw people who killed others during the time of Smit
(Smith). They were liberation war fighters. They killed people, many people.
Now, where are they? Some of them went mad, and the politicians on whose
behalf they were killing people are happy, earning huge bags of money.
“Vakafa nengozi.” (They were killed by the spirits of the people they
murdered on behalf of the politicians).

So the discussion went on. The essence of the matter is that the old lady
did not think it sensible to kill people on a political agenda. She did not
go to school much, but she went to the school of the market place which
tells everyone that killing people is bad and it will never be good.

The violence which the ruling party uses now for the purpose of political
survival is simple, crude and a case of bad manners. It is brutality, and
those who try to run a country through various forms of brutality will one
day reap that brutality. Young people must never be taught how to kill
people, no matter what happens. They must be taught, by any reasonable
adult, to respect the sanctity of human life, to respect human dignity
without conditions.

We should ask ourselves why it is that African politicians and those of
other developing countries use violence as a political tool for staying in
power. One view is that they go into power to make money in all sorts of
dirty ways and, when they are in power, they fear that anyone else who takes
over from them might want to investigate them.

At election time, African politicians go around parading as democrats. They
pretend to be more democratic than the colonial regimes. But as soon as they
take over power, they behave like traditional rulers. They forget that
traditional rulers were never elected by anyone. It is a failure of the
imagination to fail to blend the democratic conduct of tradition and the new
structures of power which we inherited from the colonials.

“Mandela would not have survived if he had been in an African prison under
an African tyrant,” one man wrote many years ago when Nelson Mandela walked
out of prison with dignity and respect to meet Winnie.

I tend to agree. African leaders tend to take only the cruel tendencies of
the colonialists, but not the good things they did like sharing a cup of
coffee or a drink with the leader of the opposition. The opposition is
always viewed as a gang of crooks who should have been killed a long time
ago. Critics of government policies are viewed as personal critics.

Were writers and other artists to go around thinking that every art or
literary critic is an enemy, artists and writers would have been fighting
everyone all over the world. What is an institution without criticism?

We must not forget that the road to democracy is never built on the road of
corpses and scars. The genuine road to democracy is made of the capacity to
accept the views of others even if those views are exactly the opposite of
what you think.

Let us take an imaginary situation about this small earth and how we run it.
Imagine if one day we declare that in the whole world for 24 hours, no one
should tell lies. What a wonderful world it would be. That would mean we all
ignore our personal views and just know that two plus two is four.

The problem of African politics and the politics of dictatorship and tyranny
is that people are fed lies upon lies. And if they disagree with those lies,
they are beaten to death, tortured and kidnapped.

Human memory is stubborn. Those who are in the business of inflicting
violence on others today are the ones who stand up to the nation to tell
everyone that there is no violence in our country. The Chinos and others are
the first to announce that the country has no violence, simply because they
are on the safe side of violence. Those with the wounds and the corpses of
the violence just gaze at the whole panorama and wonder in which country the
other guys are living.

Let us face it, there is violence in this country, and it is on the
increase, especially with the presidential election coming. People are
dying. People are being killed and tortured in this beautiful land of our
mothers and fathers.

All it takes for our political leaders is to go public and denounce
political violence, and any form of violence. But the ruling party
politicians go the whole way, threatening the citizens publicly that if they
do not vote for the president, they will be killed. Such political leaders
should be arrested on the spot. That is against the whole principle of

I have always asked the simplest question: Why don’t we, Africans, have an
election without a single corpse by the roadside to the ballot box? Our
elections cannot continue to be measured in terms of the number of deaths
towards election time. It is bizarre and stupid to continue to do horrendous
things to the citizens in order that they may vote for this or that

Controlling people through violence will never be a viable alternative to
how we were taught to live together on this land. He who owns prisons,
armies and handcuffs is not necessarily on a higher moral ground than all of
us. Those are instruments of potential decay if they are not used carefully.

In fact, I would like to imagine a political leader who searchers for the
ideal of a country with more university students than prisoners. Our African
leaders think the more there are people in prison, the safer the country is.
That is a worthless fallacy, an illusion which only those who delve in the
theatre of the absurd will partake of.

The road to political decay begins with the use of violence as a political
tool. For, to teach young people the ways of violence, is to teach them to
inflict that violence on the teacher, come one day.

“My child, if you kill two people while you are looking for votes, don’t you
think you have already lost two potential voters?” so the old woman asks me.
Zimbabwe politicians, especially those who have the machinery of violence in
their hands, must promise the citizens of this country that they will insist
on the culture of political persuasion, not violence. No matter how much
they hide the violence from the international public eye, no one is ever
going to pretend that it is not there.

For the mental health of our political system, we must have our politicians
sign a pledge that they will never make speeches or gestures which incite
the public to violence. The waving of fists must stop so that we can develop
a new mental health culture in the field of politics.

Chenjerai Hove is a renowned Zimbabwean writer.

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Standard Plus: In Tha Mix—When madness overrides sense

Fungayi Kanyuchi
COMMON sense ought to tell the police that beside the bribes and other
related crimes that they personally commit, Zimbabwe is tottering under the
yoke of rampant crime and corruption especially within government
organisations. The salaries within the police force can be justified only if
the force redirected its energies towards identifying big time criminals who
continue to drag this country into the dustbins of eco-political strife.
Events in the past week are testimony that private media publications are
now an endangered species on the streets of Harare. If the harassment and
arrests that police details carried out on newspaper vendors in the past
week were to be applied to real crimes and criminals, I would give them two
cheers each.

Now, whilst we appreciate the supposed concern of the police about vendors
disturbing the flow of traffic and posing a danger to motorists and other
road users, the question that has to be asked is: What do vendors who sell
publications at street corners and other strategic points have to do with
this? These are people who, on a daily basis, brave all sorts of weather to
put food on their tables but now they are falling victim to information
censoring agents out to eliminate opinions that are not in line with
government policies and ideologies.

Why has it only come to mind now that the streets need to be cleansed of
these poor souls before they splash bones, blood and other related body
components and fluids onto passing pedestrians? What have the police managed
to do about the commuter-touts-cum-unlicensed drivers who have turned our
roads into bloody race courses?

Is it because the commuter transport lot are the ones responsible for the
cell phones and other luxury gadgets that some members of the force now own,
courtesy of regular palm-greasing?

On a lighter note, I was in Mutare this past week-end after an invite from
the Africa University SRC for their freshman welcome bash! I can already see
colleague, Farai ‘Laurent Kabila jnr’ Mutsaka (nicknamed thus on the
strength of his facial likeness to the president), dilating his facial
muscles in a smile, for Mutare is his home base and nothing pleases him more
than seeing his home town in the paper. Now, I must confess, I was under the
impression that being a university, a riotous situation would be imminent,
but hell no! The show went smoothly save for one or two incidents of gate

The Chocolate City night spot was also abuzz with Radio Three DJ, Peter
Johns. Chocolate City would not be a bad hang out if management were to
spruce up the place and turn around the beerhall image that the club has
earned itself. A complete overhaul in terms of interior decor and a good
sound system is a matter of urgency if the club is to be a competitive night
spot that attracts many people, even those from out of Mutare.

A few roads down, Gullivers Night Club, a youth joint which did not kick
that much this week end despite having 3fm DJ, Witness Matema as the guest.
Gullivers Night Club registered a low turnout which some attributed to the
presence of three top flight names at three different venues which meant
that the crowd had to be split between the three.

A new spot, called simply Smokey’s Bar, opened up last week at Strathaven
shopping centre. According to the manager, Thamie Msimanga, Smokey’s will
cater for the contemporary adults. A cross section of music genres, ranging
from the 80s and 90s blues and jazz vibes will be churned out. Jazz DJ,
Comfort Mbofana, has been commissioned to take care of some DJ slots during
the days that Smokey’s is open.

Finally, our girl Lenah Zinyama continues to kick up a serious storm after
making it in the model line up for the the Making of SA’s Sports Illustrated
Swimwear 2001 video. Besides Lenah, other participants from the modelling
world are: Kerry McGregor (SA), Ana Hickman (Brazil), Megan McKenzie (SA),
Lisa Nel (SA), Liza Botha (SA), Lisa-Marie Schneider (SA) and Landi
Swanepoel (SA).

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Zim Standard

British MPs oppose land funding

Cornelius Nduna
BRITISH members of parliament have opposed the proposed funding of the
Zimbabwe government, to enable it to carry out its land reform programme as
provided for under the Abuja agreement.

In a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons at Westminster Hall on
Wednesday, the MPs said the international community should instead divert
its resources towards ensuring that next year’s elections are free and fair.

British secretary of state for international development, Claire Short, said
efforts to return Zimbabwe to the rule of law through the Abuja agreement
had failed and advocated for the removal of President Mugabe’s government.

Responding to a question from Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) on what
action she was proposing to promote good governance in Zimbabwe, Short
described the situation in Zimbabwe as “a complete tragedy”.

Said Short: “We have worked hard but completely without success to try to
prevent the continuing deterioration in economic and political governance in
Zimbabwe. The economic situation is very grim, with a 5% fall in gross
domestic product last year and growing poverty and hunger across that
agriculturally rich country.

“At a meeting of Commonwealth ministers convened by Nigeria in Abuja on 6
September, the Zimbabwean government undertook to restore the rule of law
and to act against violence and intimidation. Unfortunately, there has been
no progress since 8 September. Commonwealth ministers are due to visit
Harare this week to discuss that lack of progress.”

Winterton, who described Zimbabwe as a “wonderful country” and the
historical larder of central southern Africa, further asked Short what
message the British government was sending through the Commonwealth
ministerial committee to pressurise the people of Zimbabwe “to reject
President Mugabe and elect a government which can give them democracy and
progress, and enable Zimbabwe to play a major role in Africa”.

Responded Short: “Zimbabwe is a naturally wealthy country with a highly
educated population. It should be an engine of economic growth and progress
for Africa, but instead, it is deteriorating and damaging the economic
development of all neighbouring countries. There are other tragedies: we are
preparing for food aid—imagine that, in a country so agriculturally rich—and
one in three adults are infected with HIV, the worst rate in the world.

“Presidential elections are due. It is very important that everyone in the
world mobilises to try to ensure that the people of Zimbabwe are given a
chance to have a free and fair election and to change their government, if
that is their wish.”

Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath) accused President Mugabe of misleading the
international community that the land grab would be to the benefit of the
poor when in fact all he was doing was destroying the country’s agricultural

“Does the right Honourable Lady not recognise that one of the problems with
President Mugabe’s regime is that he presents to the media the removal of
white farmers from land that they own legitimately as a campaign to help the
landless, when in fact the victims of his policies are the farm workers,
while the so-called war veterans have been generously provided for by him
and his associates ever since he came to power? What will the government do
to redress the misrepresentation of what is happening in agricultural areas
such as Nyanga and Mutare in the eyes of the world’s media?” said Hawkins.

Responded Short: “There is no doubt that there is a strong case for land
redistribution in Zimbabwe. That was the view of the previous government,
and it is the view of this government. It needs to be done in a transparent,
law-abiding way that focuses on the needs of poor people rather than
political cronyism and the destruction of Zimbabwe’s agricultural productive
capacity. The current push for forcible land seizures looks to be more
political; it followed on from Zimbabwe’s government losing a referendum and
fearing that they were losing political support.

“The honourable gentleman is right that in the early stages, other African
governments had some sympathy with regard to land redistribution and were
not as critical as they might have been. That is not the situation any

Neighbouring countries are seeing the economic effects on themselves and on
large numbers of black farm workers who are losing their jobs and living in
poverty. The whole world understands how bad things are, and we are all
working together to ensure that things are put right as soon as possible.”

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Standard Plus: Meet the Spouse—She sees a new Zimbabwe on the horizon

Peter Moyo
THE present political climate in Zimbabwe has left untold suffering and many
scars. Some of the worst affected have been the wives of the commercial
farmers who have experienced some of the worst turmoil brought about by the
farm occupations. Among them is Heather Bennett, wife of Roy Bennett, the
outspoken and popular MP for Chimanimani constituency.

“Some people are meant to be respectable, and I could not believe people
could change and commit so much evil. It angers me to see nothing happening
to such evil people, but I think the Lord has been great in looking after us
and strengthening us,” says Heather, commenting on the behaviour of some
ruling party politicians and well-to-do businessmen.

It was in May last year that she was forced to watch while their farm was
occupied and workers beaten by alleged Zanu PF supporters. She suffered a
miscarriage as a result.

“It was in May last year when about 40 Zanu PF supporters beat up our
workers in front of me and my farm manager. Roy was not there and I was the
one looking after the farm. They proceeded to force us to chant slogans for
two hours before they finally let us go. I had to visit the doctor and it
was discovered that my blood pressure was up and I later had a miscarriage,”
she said.

The political thugs took over the house, scattered the cremated ashes of her
husband’s father all over the house, and killed all their chickens and
“I was quite pained by the miscarriage but I think I was more worried for
the workers than for myself or the family,” she recalls.

The Bennetts farm coffee in Chimanimani. In her husband’s absence, she takes
on the responsibility of the accounts or tries to solve other problems that
might arise.

Her husband lives a very busy life, she says. “Even when he is at home, he
is not at home. He is quite a busy man and luckily, I am also very busy,
especially in trying to help the community. I like the fact that it is a
very small and close knit community. The project I am proud to have been
part of was ‘Eyes for Zimbabwe’. It was completely non-political,” she says
about the project for the removal of eye-cataracts.

“We helped put the programme together in Chipinge and to ferry people around
and feed them for three days and I was delighted to see most of the people
having their sight restored.”

Heather was born in 1962 in Chivhu and has just celebrated her 39th
birthday. Her father moved to the then Rhodesia just after the Second World
War in which he had been a Spitfire pilot. She is the fourth and last born
of four children—three boys and a girl. She has two children, Charles, 15,
now in form three and Casey, 13, now in form one.

She has very strong views about the current fast-track land redistribution

“It seems that the current land issue is a political tool. People need jobs
and not land. If your child has studied agriculture, he or she will get the
land. What of all the land the government is sitting on? We have talked to
the chiefs in our area and they say they have plenty of land.”

She has a great deal of faith in her husband’s party, especially in the
president of the MDC.

“I liken Tsvangirai to Nelson Mandela—always genuinely wanting to help. I
believe Zanu PF are all there for the money. In the MDC, the guys are not
being paid for most of their duties.

“I am looking forward to seeing the Zimbabwe that is coming and I know it
will happen. It’s definite, it’s only a couple more months and we are
through. I am very positive about this. If I wanted to leave I could do so
right now but I believe those who wanted to leave did so in 1979, just
before independence.”

Heather attributes the little Shona that she speaks to her husband, Roy, who
speaks the language fluently.

They married in 1984 when she was 22 years of age. Up to then, she had not
known what she wanted from life. She had just completed a secretarial course
and done a little office work in Johannesburg.

Says Heather of her meeting and marriage to Roy, who is five years her
senior: “We met in mid 1984 and got married in December of the same year. He
was friends with the youngest of my brothers. In fact, they had been in the
army together. We had a Christian wedding.”
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Zim Standard

Government ordered to delist farms

Farai Mutsaka
THE Zimbabwe government should delist illegally seized farms, implement land
reform in accordance with the law, and co-operate with the Commercial
Farmers Union (CFU) and other stakeholders, the Commonwealth foreign
ministers meeting in Harare resolved yesterday.

Further, Britain which has pledged to fund Zimbabwe’s land reform programme,
will not do so until it receives a detailed report showing evidence of
Zimbabwe’s compliance with the Abuja agreement.

At the Nigerian-brokered meeting held seven weeks ago in Abuja, Nigeria,
government agreed to return the country to the rule of law, stop land
seizures and uphold democratic principles.

Government, through its failure to comply with the Aguja accord, has, for
the time being, effectively put paid to British aid to fund land reform in
the country.

In a communique released last night at the end of a protracted mopping-up
session of the ministers, government was asked to speedily delist farms
acquired illegally.

Hundreds of single-owned farms were seized under government’s fast-track
resettlement programme in contravention of the Land Acquisition Act which
stipulates that only farmers with more than one farm would be targeted.

The Commonwealth mission placed no obligations on Britain to immediately
release funds, but ordered Zimbabwe to carry out land reform in accordance
with the law.

“The Commonwealth called upon the government to speed up the delisting of
farms not meeting the requirements (of the Land Acquisition Act), implement
the land reform in accordance with the laws of the country and to work
closely with the CFU and other stakeholders,” read the communique.

British representative, Baroness Valerie Amos, said her government would not
release any money pending the outcome of a visit by a UNDP technical team
next month, to assess the situation in the country.

“Britain reaffirms its commitment to the Abuja agreement. This is a process.
Money will come pending the outcome of the UNDP technical team. Until the
UNDP has carried out an assessment mission, it is impossible for the United
Kingdom to release any funds,” said Baroness Amos.

Another member of the British delegation told The Standard yesterday that it
was unlikely that his country would release money before government had
stopped its fast-track programme.

“Britain is not likely to release funds because it is not happy with the
fast track programme. You can’t have a programme that divides the society.
It is not sustainable. For example, yesterday we visited Bita farm and saw
that 265 people will be displaced and replaced by only 82 people. It will be
to the benefit of Zimbabweans to keep the spotlight on Zimbabwe. I believe
all the nations involved in Abuja should also be involved in the monitoring
process,” he said.

The Commonwealth ministers are of the view that President Mugabe’s
government has done little to honour commitments made at Abuja aimed at
ending the 20-month-old crisis triggered by the seizure of mostly
white-owned farms by Zanu PF supporters and war veterans.

Canada’s secretary of state for Latin America and Africa, David Kilgour, who
is part of the eight-country Commonwealth delegation, told The Standard
yesterday that his country was not impressed with President Mugabe’s
government-sponsored fast-track land resettlement exercise.

“A number of groups which met with us found the fast-track not to be
occurring in accordance with the laws of this country. Canada shares this
view. Land reform must be done legally. Yes some progress has been made in
complying with the Abuja agreement, but there are still a number of issues
like complying with the constitution, violence and allegations of abuse of
press freedom,” said Kilgour.

Earlier, on Friday, Kilgour said that some Commonwealth nations could
consider sanctions against Zimbabwe in order to whip President Mugabe’s
government into line.

“It’s my view, and I think the view of a number of ministers here, that
there has been virtually no progress on any of the areas that the government
of Zimbabwe agreed on,” Kilgour said after meeting political parties on

“There may have been less violence, and yet I think even that’s open to
question. There’s been far too much violence and in my view, far too little
attempt to comply with with what the government of Zimbabwe agreed to.

“If we find or perhaps the UNDP follow-up Monitoring in November finds that
nothing is happening, and Canada or other countries wanted to decide on
sanctions, that’s certainly something the government can do,” Kilgour said.

At the end of the committee’s mission, more than 30 civic, political,
church, farmers’ and other groups and made submissions to the committee.

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Only sanctions can stop Mugabe

Robert Mugabe has reneged on the Abuja deal and is ready to destroy
democracy with violence. The international community must now target the
regime directly.

John Prendergast
Sunday October 28, 2001
The Observer

President Robert Mugabe can't believe his luck. At the beginning of
September, he faced humiliating public criticism and an ultimatum for the
first time from fellow African leaders.
A special delegation of Commonwealth foreign ministers meeting in the
Nigerian capital Abuja secured Mr Mugabe's commitment to upholding
Commonwealth principles of democracy and restoring the rule of law. South
African Development Commission (SADC) leaders had also given Mr Mugabe four
weeks to address the land crisis or face isolation. The Commonwealth Heads
of Government Meeting (CHOGM) loomed in early October, with Zimbabwe
possibly facing suspension. The European Union and the United States had
also threatened moves against Zimbabwe. Then, on 11 September, the attacks
in the United States blew the steady diplomatic march on Zimbabwe off the
map. CHOGM was postponed until next year, and Mugabe now believes, quite
rightly, that the world's attention is focussed elsewhere.

In the past two months, there has been no evidence at all that Mr Mugabe or
leaders of his ZANU-PF party have tried to implement the Abuja agreement,
nor has he done anything to satisfy the concerns of his SADC colleagues.
Since Abuja, more farms have been invaded and burned, and farm workers
beaten and threatened. On 12 October the leader of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, was ambushed by armed men while
driving to a political meeting. Most disturbing are new reports that weapons
and ammunition are being brought to Zimbabwe from the Congo, where
Zimbabwe's armed forces have been fighting on behalf of Kabila. Many of
these weapons are expected to end up in the hands of ZANU-PF supporters in
the lead up to the presidential election next year.

The presidential election is the primary reason for the current political
violence in Zimbabwe. It is dressed up by the government as a campaign for
land reform - but in fact the land campaign is a vehicle for political
intimidation of the opposition and the disenfranchisement of thousands of
black voters. Shifting several dozen white farmers from their properties
will do little in the end to alter the balance of power in Zimbabwe.
Evicting tens of thousands of black farm workers from their constituencies
is shaping up as a key tactic for ZANU-PF in its efforts to retain the
presidency in 2002. ZANU-PF has already lost in the cities - senior party
officials readily admit they cannot win in Harare and Bulawayo - so keeping
control of the rural vote has become all the more important.

The international community must therefore maintain a very tight focus on
ensuring that the 2002 elections are free and fair. It should begin by
putting much more concerted and coordinated pressure on Mr Mugabe to end the
political violence, admit international election monitors and allow the
opposition a voice. As he has shown no sign of living up to any personal
commitments he has given so far, that international pressure should be
reinforced by personal sanctions. Rhetorical pressure, demands and threats
have had no impact thus far on Mugabe's calculations. Specific actions like
targeted sanctions, however, may be a different story, as the government's
abuses begin to have specific ramifications for those responsible.

The International Crisis Group has detailed these 'smart' sanctions in its
recent reports on Zimbabwe: a freeze on overseas held-assets, personal
travel restrictions and visa bans on President Mugabe, senior ZANU-PF
figures, and their families. The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough;
they do not deserve to suffer the effects of broader sanctions or further
cuts to aid. Direct personal pressure is the only method that may finally
make Mr Mugabe live up to the commitments he has given.

The next few days are crucial. A return delegation of Commonwealth ministers
has just visited Zimbabwe to assess progress on the Abuja agreement. Britain
has already indicated it believes the deal has not been honoured, although
whether it will take action is not clear. On 29 October, the European
Union's Foreign Ministers meet, with Zimbabwe on the agenda. It is not a
priority - the war on terrorism understandably still preoccupies Europe, as
it does the United States.

But the ministers are deeply concerned about Zimbabwe's refusal to allow EU
election monitors to enter the country and are likely to further suspend
economic aid. They may also consider imposing personal sanctions on the
ZANU-PF leadership in future. But if this strategy is to succeed, personal,
targeted sanctions must be part of the package and other governments must
adopt them as well. understood to be considering the imposition of targeted
sanctions as outlined above.

This strategy should be encouraged, and adopted by other governments if it
is to succeed. SADC should act to isolate Mugabe who has blatantly failed to
meet its one-month deadline for action. Commonwealth nations, while not
meeting at heads of government level until early March next year, should
impose their own sanctions on a bilateral basis. The United States should
take similar action, either through Congress passing the Zimbabwe Democracy
Act, or by an executive order of the President.

There is no more time to waste in Zimbabwe. Apart from the horrific
violence, hyperinflation has set in and the economy is shrinking by as much
as 8 per cent per year. Officially, the rate of inflation in September was
83 per cent, but anecdotal evidence from market traders in Harare suggests
the real rate for basic commodities is more like 300 per cent. One US dollar
buys 55 Zimbabwe dollars at official rates, 350 on the black market. Hungry
Zimbabweans are stealing produce from farms across the border in South
Africa to sell at market, or simply to survive. Many are now living on one
meal a day, when they used to have three. In an effort to curb inflation,
the government has fixed food prices, but these may simply drive more
businesses into bankruptcy, and more people into unemployment.

There are hints that the Commonwealth may want to give Mr Mugabe and his
government more time to implement the Abuja agreement before imposing
sanctions. But there is already ample evidence that the Abuja deal is dead.
It would be a great disservice to the people of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa
if, at this crucial time, the world really did keep looking the other way.

·John Prendergast is Co-Director of the Africa Program at the International
Crisis Group.

The ICG's latest report on Zimbabwe can be read at - click
on Zimbabwe to read the briefing paper "Zimbabwe: Time for International

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The Age Melbourne

Commonwealth fails to sanction Mugabe

Source: DPA|Published: Sunday October 28, 10:29 AM

HARARE, Oct 27 DPA Commonwealth monitors issued a weak declaration late
today on President Robert Mugabe's compliance with the September 6 Abuja
accord on restoring the rule of law.

Representatives, evidently deeply divided over the extent of statesponsored
violence and intimidation, were also split over whether the issue was the
redistribution of 5,000 whiteowned farms to black Zimbabweans or the
77yearold president's determination to win a further sixyear term by any

Britain's Baroness Valerie Amos, junior foreign office minister for Africa,
said she was "struck by the depth of feeling and emotion around not only the
land but human rights, freedom of expression and the rule of law".

Said the communique: "We have made an appeal to the (Zimbabwean) government
and its law enforcement agencies to look into these very serious

Amos hoped the delegation's three day visit to Harare extended 24 hours
beyond its schedule would be "another staging post along the way" in
resolution of Zimbabwe's problems after 21 years of independence.

She said the depth of feeling "makes it even more difficult for the parties
concerned to talk in a rational way".

She said Britain would honour its pledges at Abuja to resume funding of land
reform, committing "substantial resources" but only if a forthcoming United
Nations Development Program assessment was favourable, if proposed land use
was sustainable, and the methods used "transparent".

In the past, much of the land taken over by Mugabe has gone to wealthy
members of the political elite.

Canadian representative David Kilgour under secretary of state for Latin
American and African Affairs said his country felt the seizure of whiteowned
farms by Mugabe's militant "war veterans" was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Sule Lamido, believed to have been pushing for a
formula causing least potential offence to his Zimbabwean hosts, said
today's protracted argument over the communique had been "very difficult and
very complicated".

He said the delegation had received "conflicting reports" and a "wide
divergence of views on violence on whiteowned farms as well as whether
government had done enough to uphold law."

Kilgour warned earlier that if Mugabe failed to meet Abuja commitments to
restore law and order before the elections, Canada might consider economic
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Mugabe hounds anti-racist

Judith Todd, who combated white rule, now faces harrassment from Mugabe's
forces as she fights for the freedom of Zimbabwe's press.

Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Sunday October 28, 2001
The Observer

When Judith Todd was arrested last week and taken from her home in Bulawayo
to Harare for questioning, she had plenty of time to think during the
five-hour drive. And to remember.
Todd, 57, is the daughter of Sir Garfield Todd, the 93-year-old former Prime
Minister of Southern Rhodesia. One of the few whites to align herself with
the African nationalist cause, she was repeatedly detained by Ian Smith's
government, at one point going on a hunger strike.

Last week, after her release from custody in which she had been held along
with four other members of the board of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe,
she said: 'It all felt so similar. The same type of vehicles, police
officers sitting on each side of me. The only difference was that back in
1972 the police were all white and now they are all black.'

But, as Commonwealth Ministers visited Harare to assess President Robert
Mugabe's delivery on his promise to end violent seizures of white-owned
farms, she expressed her determination to defend press freedom in a country
where it is increasingly under threat.

She spoke to The Observer of the company's determination to carry on
publishing the massively popular Daily News. Its printing presses were
destroyed by bombs in January. Forensic experts say the bombs were created
by army explosives experts.

She said: 'There are many terrible things being done in this country today.
I shiver when I read about the atrocities, the beatings, the torture, the
killings being carried out.'

Of her arrest last week, she added: 'It is foolish to think the independent
press of Zimbabwe could be intimidated by such measures. I am pleased this
took place while the mission of Commonwealth Ministers was here. They can
see what kind of harassment the independent press faces here on a regular

Todd and four other board members were questioned over a lawsuit pressed by
Mutumwa Mawere, a businessman with close ties to Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Mawere is trying to gain control of the Daily News .

She was eventually released in Harare last Thursday night but was ordered to
report to police the following day and was not returned to her Bulawayo home
until Friday evening.

She said the Daily News gave the people a 'daily injection of the truth'. As
a result it was 'incredibly popular'.

She continued: 'Make no mistake, the Daily News is under a great deal of
pressure. The staff receive threats and are intimidated and have been the
victims of violence.

'Everybody at the newspaper is very dedicated: the drivers, the engineers,
the delivery people and the vendors. They all are under pressure and they
have all shown tremendous dedication to getting the newspaper out.

'The Daily News editor Geoff Nyarota has won several international awards.
With each award everybody gets continuing support and succour to carry on.'

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Ministers were expected to censure the Mugabe
government for doing little to end the violent seizures of white-owned

But the Ministers, who extended their two-day mission by a day until
yesterday, differed over the tone to adopt in their final communique against
a government that says it has been doing nothing wrong, diplomats said.

'I think by and large there is a consensus on the fact that the government
of Zimbabwe has so far not done much to fulfil its obligations under the
Abuja agreement, but the hurdle is on how this should be recorded while at
the same time encouraging the Zimbabwean authorities to be more
co-operative,' one African diplomat said.

Seven weeks ago in Abuja, Nigeria, Zimbabwe agreed to end 20 months of
invasions of white-owned farms by black people, in return for financial help
from the former colonial power, Britain, to create a just land reform

Conference sources said the Commonwealth team - in meetings with farming,
Church, civic and opposition groups on Thursday and Friday - had left the
government isolated in its assertion it was working to end the land crisis.

'What has emerged is that the government of Zimbabwe has a different
interpretation from the majority on what is going on on the ground and it
would be ideal to get a strong statement out,' one source said.

John Makumbe, a political analyst and one of Mugabe's leading critics, said
the Commonwealth must make no apologies in its assessment.

'The truth is the Abuja agreement has not worked and the government has no
intention of making it work and you cannot go soft in that regard,' he said
yesterday, after a group of human rights activists met the Commonwealth

On Friday, Canada's Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa, David
Kilgour, told reporters the visiting Ministers believed the Zimbabwe
government had done little to honour the Abuja agreement.

'It's my view, and I think the view of a number of other Ministers here,
that there's been virtually no progress on any of the areas that the
government of Zimbabwe agreed to move on,' Kilgour said.

In a deal that was brokered by Nigeria and overseen by the Commonwealth -
which groups Britain and its former dominions and colonies - Mugabe's
government agreed to put an end to the land seizures by self-styled veterans
of the 1970s war against white rule.

Critics accuse Mugabe of using the land issue to fend off a challenge to his
rule at the presidential election that is due by April next year, while his
ruling Zanu-PF party continues to accuse Britain of meddling in its affairs.

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Sanctions against Zimbabwe possible

New Zealand Herald - 28.10.2001 5.00 am

HARARE - Commonwealth ministers visiting Zimbabwe think President Robert Mugabe's government has done little to honour commitments to end a crisis over seizures of white-owned land, the Canadian representative said Saturday (New Zealand time).

Sanctions, at least by some nations, could be a possibility, David Kilgour, Canada's secretary of state for Latin America and Africa, told reporters in Ottawa by telephone from Harare.

Seven weeks ago in Abuja, Nigeria, Zimbabwe agreed to put a stop to 20 months of invasions of white-owned farms by black settlers in return for pledges of financial help from former colonial power Britain to run a just land reform programme.

"It's my view, and I think the view of a number of other ministers here, that there's been virtually no progress on any of the areas that the government of Zimbabwe agreed to move on," Kilgour said after he and other officials, led by Nigerian Foreign Minister Sule Lamido, held talks with political parties.

"There may be a little less violence, and yet I think even that's open to question. There's been far too much violence and in my view far too little attempt to comply with what the government of Zimbabwe agreed to," Kilgour said.

In a deal brokered by Nigeria and overseen by the Commonwealth, which groups Britain and its former colonies, the Zimbabwe government agreed put an end to the land seizures by self-styled veterans of the 1970s war against white rule.

But, referring to a planned mission next month from the UN Development Programme, Kilgour raised the prospect of sanctions on Friday: "If we find -- or perhaps the UNDP follow-up monitoring in November (finds) -- that nothing is happening... and Canada or other countries wanted to decide on sanctions, that's certainly something the government can do."

Officials of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party who met the ministers on denied accusations levelled by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that there had even been an increase in farm invasions in the past few weeks.

Critics accuse Mugabe of using the issue to fend off a challenge to his rule at elections due by April next year while ZANU-PF accuses Britain of meddling in its affairs.

The Commonwealth delegation, which also includes ministers from Britain, Kenya, South Africa and Australia, was to continue its meetings tomorrow. Kilgour said they might meet Mugabe again after speaking to him on Friday (New Zealand time). Diplomats said the president told them he was committed to the Abuja accord.

The ministers went to Bita Farm, where two people died in a clash between farmworkers and new settlers last month.

"The problem is that the farmers don't want to co-exist with us," said Better Choto, spokesman for 81 families who took plots on the farm, 140km (90 miles) southwest of the capital Harare.

"They organise their workers, our fellow Zimbabweans, to fight us," Choto said. "If they want us to co-exist peacefully, they have to respect the government policy on land".

The settlers were handed the plots under the "fast-track resettlement programme" -- the name the government has given to what others see as state-sponsored farm invasions.

The son of the farm owner told the Commonwealth group that the farmworkers had retaliated after they were attacked.

According to the mainly white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) which groups 4,500 farmers, at least 680 farms have been occupied afresh since the Abuja agreement on September 6.

But ZANU-PF said that the government had, since the deal, moved people from occupied farms to farms it had allocated for resettlement under the "fast-track resettlement programme".

"As far as ZANU-PF is concerned, Abuja has succeeded. We can confirm that save for a few areas, the general picture is stabilising," said ZANU-PF Chairman John Nkomo.

"The British have been using the opposition to sing the chorus of lawlessness."


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Mozambique Denies Uncontrolled Entry of Zimbabwean Farmers


Xinhuanet 2001.10.29 01:41:47

   MAPUTO, October, 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Soares Nhaca, governor of the  central
Mozambican province of Manica, has said there has been no  "uncontrolled
entry" of Zimbabwean commercial farmers in  Mozambique.
   The local Sunday newspaper Domingo quoted Nhaca as saying that  his
province has licensed 63 Zimbabwean farmers, who have been  granted about
1,000 hectares each.
   The government regards the Zimbabwean farmers just like any  other
investors, he said, adding that they are welcome as long as  they indeed
have money to invest.
   He added that a large number of applications from Zimbabwean  farmers had
been turned down when the applicants could not show  that they possessed the
resources necessary for successful  investment.
   According to the governor, the 63 successful applicants were  given a
total of 63,000 hectares, rather than the 400,000 they had initially asked
   It was learnt that the land was being granted to the  Zimbabweans under
normal terms of the Mozambican land legislation  and the land concession is
valid for 50 years and may be renewed  for a further 50.
   As for the local residents, Nhaca said his government has been
explaining to them that the arrival of foreign farmers does not  mean that
Manica peasants will be pushed onto poorer land.   Enditem
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No early end to Zim crisis

Harare - A statement issued at the end of a Commonwealth mission to probe
what steps have been taken to end violence on Zimbabwe's farms in exchange
for help with land reforms showed there is little hope for an early end to
the crisis.

Ministers from seven Commonwealth countries who made up the investigating
team issued a cautious communique at the end of their three-day mission,
calling on the government of President Robert Mugabe to implement the
agreement signed in the Nigerian capital Abuja on September 6 and probe
reports of rights abuses and violence.

Under the terms of the Abuja agreement, Zimbabwe pledged to curb the
violence that has raged in the countryside for 20 months in exchange for
British financial backing for its land reform programme. Harare has said it
has set up trouble-shooting committees to respond to incidents on farms.

But Keith Martin, Canada's shadow secretary of state for Africa and Latin
America who was part of the Commonwealth mission, said reality was "very
different from what the government is saying.

"The reality is frightening. Farmworkers have a loaded gun pointed at their
heads and I find that quite chilling," said Martin.

The Commonwealth ministers also said in their statement that Harare has
"established a process in accordance with the Abuja accord".

But Martin said that the procedure of the talks "ensured that there would be
a very mild (final) statement because the mission was operating under rules
of consensus and with Zimbabwe being part of the process (...) it had to
reflect Zimbabwe's position".

Expressing fear for the stability of the southern African country, Martin
added, "Zimbabwe must not be allowed to get into a spiral of violence and

If the Abuja accord is not satisfactorily applied, Martin said the
international community must act and "remove the government of Zimbabwe from
the Commonwealth".

Writer and political commentator Chenjerai Hove said it was unlikely that
Harare would change its political strategy as a result of the Commonwealth
ministers' visit.

"I don't think we are going to change much. We are going towards elections
violently, nothing is going to change," Hove said, adding that the
Commonwealth team had been "thoroughly and properly hoodwinked" and had
ended up with "a diluted version of what is happening on the ground".

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), which represents 4 500 white farmers who
own more than two thirds of Zimbabwe's prime farmland, responded cautiously
to the outcome of the talks.

David Hasluck, director of the CFU, said it was important that the ministers
agreed on the "urgent need to get farmers to plant without interference, to
build confidence and reduce conflict".

In the absence of mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the Abuja
accord, analysts say the main problem is that Abuja is not a legal but a
political agreement.

A team of experts from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) will visit
Zimbabwe in November to decide on the procedure and details relating to the
application of the Abuja land deal.

But Harare has remained adamant that land reforms will take place with or
without Abuja. "Abuja or no Abuja, land is getting back to the people. No
amount of lies, besmirching and demonising will stop the process," an
editorial in the pro-government Sunday Mail said.

Local media reported that the talks were divided on racial grounds, with
Australia, Britain and Canada allegedly taking a stance opposed to that of
Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. - Sapa/AFP
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