|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
We are setting up an open letter forum in the
interests of transparency
and to allow farmers to air their views. If you have any submissions for
this forum, please send them to us at email@example.com
THE JAG TEAM
My dear Hasluck,
With the completion of another Council Meeting, yesterday, giving The
Union its democratic face, the day to day running, and possibly the
direction, will now fall upon yourself and the President, I assume.
Whilst the regional member of Council, from Matabeleland, may be regarded
by some fellow members as "out of step," there must be some credibility
to the man asking for a referendum to be called, to settle a rather
I have attempted to analyse the situation that the Union is now in. Clem
Sunter would describe looking ahead as "scenario planning." There are a
number of possibilities, but one must look at the personalities of the
players as well, to get a feel of how the show will go.
As Bryant said, a leader, and a dictator are not the same thing. The
Union is now to be run by a Dictator, with a "Boy's Own" determination
to run it his own way, ably assisted by the Very Able Director.(quite a
pair, I dare say) Once a man can remove himself from the tragedy of the
situation, it is going to be a great show to watch. I do not know if it
follows a Survivor pattern, or a Big Brother pattern, which will make it
all the more fun to watch. The common thread to "Survivor," "Big
Brother" and, "Dictator & Director" is the built in isolation, of
course. On the other hand, the unique aspect of "D & D" will be, how
do you know when you have won, or lost, and then, when is it all over,
and what is the prize? Perhaps there is no prize at all, and it is all
about qualifying to play, and then just staying there, come Hell or High
Congratulations, to you both on becoming partners and contestants, and
have a jolly good show!
Saturday, 28th September, 2002.
My dear Hasluck,
I have written an open letter to farmers, and I have forwarded a copy to
yourself, and the President. In that letter I have called upon the
President, to call a referendum, of all farmers, with the over rider that
should he not be prepared to call a referendum, I call upon Him and his
Vice President to tender their resignations.
I wish to state categorically, that this call is given in all seriousness
and also in good faith, in the interests of The Union, of which you David
Hasluck are the appointed Director. Section 3 (d) and Section 17, of The
Constitution refer to the points where I believe that Our President is in
breach of Our Constitution. One is pertaining to the OBJECTS of Our
Union, referring specifically 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 in general." The other refers to a REFERENDUM
itself, which Mr. Crawford asked for at Council, and now I am asking for,
again, FORMALLY. I am informed that Mr. Ray Passaportis has given his
advice, but am by no means convinced that it has been taken.
Should, the President wish to now use His Council as his cover, I accept
the defence, but only partially. Should Council refuse to call a
referendum, I now FORMALLY ask you, the DIRECTOR, to call for their
resignation, in the interests of The Commercial Farmers Union.
My correspondence, pertaining to what I would regard as ambivalent
behaviour, on the part of Our Leadership, is open for the entire farming
community to read through Justice for Agriculture, and in turn I believe
that The Union should adopt an open and transparent manner.
I cannot in Good Faith tell good farmers to "buy a CFU licence, it's a
good thing to do" when I honestly believe that in Claude Muller's
words, Our Leadership "is in denial."
From everybody's perspective, a referendum will clear up any
misconceptions and mistrust. The Union will then have a MANDATE TO LEAD
WITH, and a POLICY with some DIRECTION. The whole country needs
direction, but we farmers are the most severely affected at the moment.
If current leadership in Our Union cannot stand up and make a difference,
I accept it, but they too must accept it, and make way for new leaders to
come forward, who will make our Union into what it should be.
David, should you not wish to reply to me, and the Leadership choose not
to reply, I accept it. However, I must advise you, that collectively you
must face up to the problems that face the MEMBERS, and come up with some
PLAN, if Our Union is to survive. In the words of David Conolly, to ask a
few thousand farmers, each to make their own plan, is not a 'master
plan,' but a 'cop out,' and an admission of obsolescence. For our
leadership to believe that later, we can formalize a few thousand
'deals' into something workable, I say that we are living on different
planets. A referendum is a way of saying "Farmers First," and it is
NOT my idea - referendum is referred to under Section 17 in the Our
Constitution, a copy of which I can let you all have at your request,
should you be committed to furthering the interests of Our Union.
Sunday, 29th September, 2002.
My dear Cloete, Taylor-Freem, and Hasluck,
Yesterday, I attended a breakfast, and listened to Mr. Angus Buchan,
speak about how he was driving a tractor, over twenty years ago, and how
his nephew, of pre school age fell off the tractor, and was killed.
That incident, has caused me to put finger to keyboard, when there is
every good reason that I really ought to stop, right now.
Over twenty years ago, a Police and University colleague of mine, and his
grandfather (both very good men), were abducted on New Year's eve. It
was some months, rather than weeks before it was established that
Benjamin Williams, and his grandson David Bilang, had been murdered. At
the funeral, the priest described the trauma that the family had endured,
since the 1st Of January, as "a living hell." I believe that many
farmers are now going through trauma, close to what that priest described
over twenty years ago, at their funeral.
For that, I have great respect, because I am aware that Colin, and his
family, along with my very good friends, Joe and Wendy Whaley have also
walked Angus Buchan's road. Whilst I may not have felt it quite the same
as they did, I must say that, for me, it hurt quite enough. Incidents
such as Martin Olds, Gloria Olds, David Stevens, Henry Elsworth and the
likes also hurt, but hopefully that hurt will not turn to bitterness.
Whilst the likes of David Conolly, Peter Goosen, John Worsick, and
Benjamin Freeth (and many others) may well be at variance with
yourselves, I wish to assure you, that they are men of great integrity.
They, (and I) hurt when they see what is happening to the average farmer
in this country. That hurt has aroused in them, a passion, drive, and
most of all a spirit that is second to none. If you have not come to
realize and understand the level, or depth, of that passion, drive and
spirit I can only say that, you will discover its level and depth in due
course. Today, I will be the humble messenger, to suggest to you, one and
all, to attempt to harness that dynamic power, regardless of how great
the sacrifice, it takes, on your part, to strengthen our Union. I need
not remind you that they are men of Principle, and I have given The
Director, a very good book by Symond Fiske on "The Principle Problem."
Gentlemen, in my grandfather's Oxford English, "upon this occasion, my
conscience is clear," I have delivered the message many times, in
written form and indeed in person to yourselves. The door from the point
of view of "Justice for Our Union" is still open, it is now up to you
to decide to have a good look or not, and I still believe that you will
be held accountable for your actions.
I am reading a book entitled "Zimbabwe - the death of a dream" by
Jim Peron, and I would like to leave you with the words of Mikhail
Bukunin, who wrote of Marx, in 1872:
"Mr. Marx does not believe in God, but he believes deeply in himself.
His heart is filled not with love but with rancour. He has very little
benevolence toward men, and becomes furious and spiteful when
anyone dares question the omniscience of the divinity whom he adores,
that is to say, Mr. Marx himself."
I trust that this will provoke the same level of thought for you, as it
did for me.
J. L. Robinson.
The Pole and Dagga Hut,
27th September, 2002.
Dear Fellow Farmers,
As I complete the six month illegal suspension from my ancestral home, I
have much to reflect upon. To put up with an Old Gifford Boy(C. Wilde
Esq.) referring to me as an Arrogant Young Man, was the start. (the
gentleman concerned, was the "very one" who repaired the SU fuel pump
on my Morris Minor, some twenty five years ago, and apologized for the
charges) I have a very good mind not to tell the gentleman concerned
that the pump, and the car and even the driver and still going strong.
This was only to be outdone by an arrogant Old Milton Boy who used drive
a Humber Super Snipe.(in his day) This particular gentile gentleman, then
proceeded to wave his finger at me, which he has done to the Director and
the President, on more than one occasion, and tell me that I "had not
eaten my bag of salt yet!"(with apologies to Peter Goosen, for his
resemblance to 'The Father' in Herman Charles Bosman)
However, a consultation with a journalistic old girlfriend of mine, born
in the colony of India, now in her ninety third year, with ever
sharpening brain, was when I found my 'moment of truth.' "Ah yes,
satire is all very well" she said "but only in very small doses, my
boy. People say that they can laugh at themselves, but deep down it
really hurts and they don't like it." Point taken, old girl, and now
back to the serious stuff.
And now if we must be serious, let us be serious.
The game started in May, in Bulawayo. One retired member from the
Zimbabwe Joint Resettlement Initiative, from Figtree, and I, asked our
CFU President and his Vice President, what they were intending to do to
avert an impending disaster in The Union. The reply we got from Our
President, was that he had effectively been neutralized, and it became
apparent that there was no plan.
Round two was a few days later in The Lions Den, at a Game Park, near
Gweru, where I had the great pleasure of meeting a highly competent young
man, with a lot to say, representing the Dairy Farmers Association. He
assured us that Our President, plus his two Vices were putting in an
enormous amount of effort and were highly committed. This we accepted,
but we expressed our concern as to the POLICY and the RESULTS on the
ground, and we agreed to differ as to what was necessary, and to what was
Round three was Council itself, still in May, where my ZJRI acquainted
friend, put his case forward very well, I thought. His one query to
Council that day, was regarding the enormous amount of effort put into
RESTRUCTURING ON FEWER MEMBERS. My friend suggested more debate on
POLICY, which would hopefully RETAIN MEMBERS, but was politely told by
Our President that they were on "Restructuring, on the agenda, not
Policy." Mr. Vowles updated the meeting by telling us that only 28% of
farmers were not operational which was very positive - "the flip side
being that some 72% are going along fine." - quote. Mr. Meikle, whom I
continue to regard as a Union Custodian, then told Council that they
ought to budget on 1600 members,(about half) for the next year. Our
Learned Council took this in their stride; "how fantastic we will still
have half, we can then just press on as if nothing unusual has happened,
and just do a little more restructuring," appeared to be the assumption.
Fellow farmers, "necessity is the mother of invention," and Shakespeare
said, "The deep of night is crept upon our talk, And nature must obey
necessity." By June, Justice for Agriculture, was in its infancy, and
in Shakespeare's words, "both natural and necessary." We had at least
1600 potential members, the very ones Our Union deemed EXPENDABLE, and
today the potential grows every day as more farmers are removed from
their land. On the 23rd June, 2002, a case was registered in the High
Court, contesting the Constitutional Legality of the Section 8
Legislation, in this case for Mr. Quinnel. The respondents are : The
Attorney General, The Honourable Patrick Anthony Chinamasa and The
Honourable Joseph Made. In Shakespeare's world, justice would seem both
a "natural and a necessary" desire.
Forgive me, for being so monotonous, to return to Winston Churchill,
again. Martin Gilbert, the author of "CHURCHILL - a life," used the
very apt title for his 24th Chapter "The Moment of Truth." I believe
that we have put off "The Moment of Truth" for some time now, in terms
of Our Union. Gilbert followed with a Chapter called, "Return to the
Admiralty." The next chapter we need to write here, is Return to the
Rule of Law. Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, the
very day that Britain went to war, September 3rd, 1939. His speech that
day in the House of Commons was to the effect that "this is to
establish, on impregnable rocks, the rights of the individual, and it is
to establish and to revive the stature of man." I feel that Our Union
President should also hear what Churchill said about his Union; "I have
not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the
liquidation of the Empire." I shall attempt to remain serious, very
serious in fact. For me to quote Our Union Constitution, I trust that the
reader will take this as bordering on 'ridiculously serious.'
Our CFU Constitution, Section 3 (d) states: "The objects of the
Union - 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
Section 17 states: "Council may at any time hold a referendum of MEMBERS
of the Union on such matters and in such manner as it may determine."
Fellow farmers, I must be serious and honest for a bit longer now. For
Our President and Vice President, and Our Council, to think that a
Referendum is not required at this stage, is indeed the final straw. Our
President and Our Vice President must indeed stand up, and at least
accept some form of responsibility, and accountability, now, right now.
I am only one of many displaced farmers. The arrogance of Our Council to
disregard Our Legal Consultant,
Mr. Ray Passaportis is one thing. For them to decline to call a
referendum is evidence, of just how "out of touch with reality" they
are with what is left of their members, and now soon to be ex-members.
Using their own words, in their suspension of a highly committed,
principled, spiritual leader of Our Union Members, in Chegutu, Mr.
Benjamin Freeth, I say to Council, 'you have refused to faithfully
represent and promote' the interests of your MEMBERS, and have now lost
the faith and following of those MEMBERS.
This is your moment of truth.
Sections 3 (d) and Section 17, as printed above, show clearly where Our
Council is in breach of Our Constitution. I, along with other farmers
hold them responsible, unless they can prove that they do not, in fact,
go along with what is happening on the ground.
There for, I, JOHN LLEWELLYN ROBINSON, do hereby, faithfully ask you,
COLIN CLOETE, and DOUGLAS TAYLOR-FREEM to call a Referendum,
immediately, to facilitate a Way Forward and prevent the collapse of Our
Union, any further. Should you, for any reason feel that this is not at
all necessary, and refuse, then I JOHN LLEWEWLLYN ROBINSON, do hereby,
faithfully ask you , to tender your resignations, with immediate effect,
in the interests of The Union. Just as Justice for Agriculture has grown
bigger than any of its members, so we must accept that Our Union must
always be bigger than any of its members. Once a union is driven by Ego,
rather than Ethos, it is bound to run into problems, and we have had a
fantastic display of what can happen, when Ego takes over. Naturally, a
referendum is by far, the most fair way, of defining the Ethos of Our
Union, and underlines the inherent leadership qualities we were
privileged to experience, when Alan Burl did just that in the early
The Umzingwane Farmers Association, in entirety calls for a referendum,
and in The Presidents words, I will welcome constructive criticism, of a
referendum, as much as I welcome any support for one. Should you have any
comments please send to firstname.lastname@example.org for my attention. Thank
The Herald (Harare)
October 1, 2002
Posted to the web October 1, 2002
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, facing allegations of plotting to kill
President Mugabe, was yesterday indicted to the High Court for trial and
ordered to deposit another $1,5 million for bail pending trial.
His two alleged accomplices - Renson Gasela, the Gweru Rural MP, and the
party's secretary-general Welshman Ncube, who are also out of custody on
$500 000 bail - were also ordered to pay another $500 000 each by Harare
magistrate Mrs Joyce Negonde.
The trio are facing high treason charges for allegedly plotting to
assassinate President Mugabe.
Prosecutor Mr Lawrence Phiri said the State was ready to commence the trial
on November 11.
The charges arose from Tsvangirai's alleged plot to assassinate President
Mugabe just before the March 9 and 10 presidential poll.
The State will allege that sometime between August and September last year,
Mr Rupert Johnson, a long-standing associate of Gasela, approached Dickens
and Madson with the intention of arranging a meeting between the MDC and the
Canadian-based political consultancy firm. The meeting was held on October
22 last year at London's Heathrow Airport and Tsvangirai and Gasela
attended, together with Ncube.
Mr Johnson and Ari Ben-Menashe, representing Dickens and Madson, were at the
meeting, alleges the State.
It is also alleged that on November 3, another meeting was held at the Royal
Automobile Club in London and was attended by Tsvangirai, Mr Johnson, Miss
Tara Thomas and Mr Ben-Menashe.
Miss Thomas recorded the meeting at which the opposition MDC leader
allegedly discussed the assassination of President Mugabe. At his meeting,
the State alleges, Tsvangirai reiterated the need to eliminate President
Mugabe prior to the presidential election.
Tsvangirai allegedly sought the assistance of Dickens and Madson in talking
to the Americans about the transitional period after the death of President
The MDC is alleged to have then channelled money through BSMG offices in
London in three lots of US$50 000, US$28 900 and US$18 600, leaving a
shortfall of US$2 600 on the down payment.
The State further alleges that another meeting took place on December 4,
where Tsvangirai and Mr Johnson were representing MDC while Mr Ben-Menashe,
Mr Alexander Legault and Miss Thomas represented Dickens and Madson.
According to the State, there was another man who attended the meeting but
has not yet been identified.
The alleged plot to assassinate President Mugabe was exposed on November 23
last year when Mr Ben-Menashe visited Zimbabwe and made an official report
to the Government through Air Vice-Marshal Robert Mhlanga, which led to the
Opposition Has Plenty to Worry About
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
October 1, 2002
Posted to the web October 1, 2002
The intimidation and apathy that marred Zimbabwe's rural district council
elections at the weekend also exposed the difficulty the opposition has in
mounting an effective challenge to the government, political analysts told
The elections were held in 1,397 rural districts and 27 urban wards. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) only fielded 646 candidates,
reportedly because of intimidation and bureaucratic hurdles which resulted
in 700 ruling ZANU-PF candidates being elected unopposed.
In 86 wards that had declared by Monday evening, ZANU-PF had won 72, the MDC
12 and two wards had gone to independent candidates, the state-run Herald
newspaper reported. The rural results are expected to reflect an even larger
"The government of Zimbabwe, we think, did not take the necessary steps to
ensure conditions for a fair and credible democratic election, and failed to
ensure that all parties and candidates were able to participate; to condemn
and punish election-related violence; and to follow transparent and
equitable registration procedures for all candidates. So that's the way it
turned out," US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Monday.
Brian Raftopoulos of the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development
Studies said that the government's ability to prevent peaceful protest left
the MDC "obviously in difficulty".
He said that since the crushing disappointment of the March presidential
poll defeat, the MDC had tried to consolidate, improve its policy capacity
and image, while preparing for the weekend's elections.
"The real achievement is that despite the government's onslaught, it is
still on the ground," he told IRIN.
Raftopoulos said that with peaceful avenues of legitimate opposition
blocked, violent protest could be under consideration by elements within the
party, "but the ground is exceedingly unpropitious".
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in an interview in August with the South
African newspaper The Mail & Guardian: "[More than] 80 percent of
Zimbabweans want change. But we have to choose between violent and
non-violent paths, the challenge being a young generation who believe it is
time to think about armed struggle. We must be conscious that beyond this
chaos, we'll have to pick up the pieces."
Tsvangirai and two MDC party officials were indicted on Monday on a charge
of high treason related to an alleged plot to assassinate President Robert
Mugabe, The Herald reported. Prosecutor Lawrence Phiri said the government
was ready to commence trial on 11 November.
According to Raftopoulos, ZANU-PF's real political victory has been to
undermine "the sense of hope" in Zimbabwe. With no chance of meaningful
dialogue between the ruling party and the MDC on the horizon, the only
option for the opposition was to pursue a long-term strategy aimed at its
survival as a viable political alternative.
From a farmer in Zim
Destruction and Corruption
"If you find your stolen cattle it will cost you $50,000, and if you do
not pay we will impound your car. If not paid in one month we will sell
your car! That is the law."
The cattle owner protested to the Mozambican policeman, "Why am I being
fined to retrieve my stolen cattle. Who can I appeal to either here or
The policeman replied, "You cannot appeal because I am in charge here
and I make the law. Our salaries were low so this is to boost my
personal income. Take it or leave it, this is my law. This is not Maputo
and the money does not go there."
The cattle owner left with his tail between his legs knowing full well
that his cattle had been pushed on board the train at Sango heading for
Maputo, where "owners" are reported to be receiving $110,000, paid in
foreign currency, per head. The train transporting livestock, a large
number of which are stolen, is reported to be leaving for Maputo every
Thursday. There is absolutely no regard for either veterinary or export
permits. The cattle just go.
The cattle owner also reported that he had come across a dozen or so
other distraught cattle owners between Chikombedzi and Sango desperately
trying to track down their stolen cattle. Police are unable to carry out
any follow-up because of an acute shortage of transport. There is not a
single police vehicle at Mwenezi, Chikombedzi, or any other remote
station in these districts.
However the cattle owner reports that Sango is a flurry of activity with
many new Zimbabwe Government 4-by-4s being seen together with the
multitude of cross-border traders. Trade here is reported to be brisk
and competitive with foreign exchange being the main currency used.
The entire commercial cattle industry is under threat of destruction
from starvation caused by the political land campaign, and this account
is just another example of how the herd is being destroyed by the
Although it is reported that there are many troops and the paramilitary
Police Support Unit heavily patrolling the Zimbabwean borders, another
man reports getting lost inside Mozambique whilst trying to show a
friend the historical "Crooks Corner", in Zimbabwe. He reports that he
went 20km into Mozambique along a well-used road, without any visible
signs of a border post, or security forces.
Another reports that the troops are guarding the Zimbabwean borders and
roads to "stop an invasion from Britain."
What is described above is the tip of the iceberg. It is a case of
absolute disregard of the law in a fanatic get-rich-quick struggle at
the expense of others and the economy of Zimbabwe.
From a farmer in Zim
Bubi FMD and Related Information
Information coming in is that those involved in the land issue have
recently attended a seminar held in Plumtree. The theme is reported to
have been on how to handle the new amendment to the Section 8s, with
special regard to the 7-day eviction clause.
What is expected is a new onslaught against commercial farmers and
especially those perceived to be sympathetic towards the opposition MDC.
This has already been seen on farms south of the Bubi River where the
new farmers are very political and insisting on moving into the owner's
This information needs to be treated seriously because there is evidence
that the settlers are becoming seriously agitated and want to take the
law into their own hands.
In spite of the new outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease the owner's
cattle are being rounded up and penned, in an effort to force them off.
There have been a number of serious confrontations, and one elderly
owner was beaten. Another was thrown in the back of a vehicle and driven
to Beit Bridge to have serious threats of eviction personally given to
him by the authorities there.
The political twist being portrayed on the outbreak is that it has
started as a result of an infection in the owner's dairy herd. In
reality, the properties have been swamped with cattle from the Beit
Bridge communal areas. This is an area where the disease has been
smouldering for over 6 months now, despite haphazard vaccinations.
It would appear that the wife of a local MP and Minister is the main
force behind the evictions and has threatened to burn and destroy the
local lucrative ultra-city motel complex. Owners and employees have been
harassed for several weeks now and the owners have also been accused of
poisoning the one water supply. This water is naturally extremely
unpalatable and salty.
Cattle on the commercial farms are now stranded and cannot move because
of the new FMD outbreak. The situation is now even more serious due to
the unleashing of thousands of communal cattle onto the farms that will
destroy the limited grazing very quickly.
Who are the ones who should be moving their livestock?
Tips for Diplomats in Harare
A suggested list for Canada's new High Commissioner to Zimbabwe
from Canada's Globe & Mail (an excellent list for all diplomats in
Tips for our man in Harare
By GREGORY DOLE
Tuesday, October 1, 2002 - Print Edition, Page A17
John Schram, Canada's new High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, is to present
his credentials to the country's President, Robert Mugabe, in the next
few days. Here are some personal tips to help Canada's representative
appreciate conditions in Zimbabwe.