Zimbabwe war veterans threaten embassies
April 26, 2001
Web posted at: 12:28 PM EDT (1628 GMT)
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Ruling party
militants will target foreign embassies
and aid agencies to protest against
alleged support for opponents of
President Robert Mugabe, militant
Attacks against businesses were stepped
up on Thursday as Mugabe acted to stop
Zimbabwe's courts from overturning last year's occupation of white-owned
The militants' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, threatened action against foreign
embassies and aid agencies, saying they were funding and colluding with the
opposition Movement for Change.
"We will be visiting them soon to express our displeasure and to warn them to
stop interfering with our internal matters," Hunzvi said. "Our next target will be
to deal with them once and for all."
Mugabe's party has accused Britain, the former colonial power, the United States
and the European Union of backing the opposition.
Western diplomats in Harare said on Thursday they were taking the threat
seriously and that ambassadors would draft a joint submission to the
Police have taken no action against ruling party militants who have stormed more
than 20 businesses, factories and other facilities in the past two weeks
demanding payouts for laid-off workers, compensation or pay increases.
The opposition said the raids were aimed to win back the vote of urban workers
who largely supported the opposition in parliamentary elections last June.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, representing thousands of factories
and commercial businesses, said on Wednesday it had been inundated with
reports from its members of "external interference in labour matters" usually
handled by the Ministry of Labour.
It called for swift action to end the intimidation.
Britain has led international criticism of Mugabe over the violent take-over of
white-owned farms and what it says has been his systematic intimidation of the
press and judiciary.
Hunzi's supporters, many of them too young to have fought the white regime in
the former Rhodesia, occupied more than 1,000 of the country's 4,500
white-owned commercial farms in the run-up to parliamentary elections last
The Rural Land Occupiers Bill, published on Thursday, seeks to "restrict or
suspend" legal proceedings against those who had occupied land by the start of
The law, which is virtually assured of passage through the parliament dominated
by Mugabe's ZANU-PF, would overturn court orders against the occupations
and prevent further court action, effectively legalising the tenure of occupiers.
The draft law appeared likely to reverse the Zimbabwe Supreme Court's
December instruction to Mugabe to produce a "workable" land reform
programme in six months.
Zimbabwe war veterans step up urban
April 25, 2001
Web posted at: 12:51 PM EDT (1651 GMT)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Zimbabwe's war veterans on Wednesday
stepped up attacks against businesses in their attempt to shatter urban political
opposition to President Robert Mugabe's campaign to win re-election next year.
War veterans who spearheaded last year's violent seizure of white-owned farms
have targeted a string of Harare firms that have laid off staff to forcibly demand
from mainly white-run management that workers be re-instated with
The intimidation is seen as an attempt by the veterans to gain urban votes for
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, which failed to win a single seat in the capital
Harare in last year's violent and closely fought parliamentary elections.
Firms suspected of funding the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) -- the most
significant opposition to Mugabe since
independence from Britain in 1980 -- have also
been at the forefront of attacks.
Business organizations warned that the veterans'
actions -- including beatings, death threats and
raiding offices -- threatened to further endanger
an already disintegrating economy.
The latest firm to feel the veterans' wrath was Meikles Holding Group, which
runs the country's leading hotel.
Meikles management was forced into negotiations with the veterans who
demanded higher wages and improved working conditions, the state-run Ziana
news agency reported on Wednesday.
During the negotiations, the veterans forced Meikles chief executive Tim
Cameroon and general manager Fidelis Goredema to chant ZANU-PF political
songs, Ziana reported. Meikles officials were not available to comment.
Veterans who fought a seven-year independence war against Ian Smith's
Rhodesia in the 1970s were also sitting at ZANU-PF's provincial headquarters to
hear complaints lodged by workers against employers at various transport and
Managers at the Zimbabwean division of U.S. metal giant Macsteel were forcibly
taken from their Harare offices on Tuesday for questioning, the independent
Daily News reported.
Veterans also stormed Harare's largest private clinic on Tuesday to demand that
managers reinstate 16 workers who lost their jobs in 1998. The hospital was also
forced to pay $5 million ($90,909 U.S. currency) to the group, a hospital official
"The attacks will steadily increase towards the presidential elections. The
veterans want to cripple what they perceive as the revenue base of the MDC,
namely the employers, in the same way as they attacked the farmers to stop the
MDC," said Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZCI) economist James
"The second objective is to get the vote of the workers. It's creating a lot of
business uncertainty," Jowa said.
The main Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) said it has been inundated
with reports from its members concerning external interference in labor matters.
CZI warned that industry faced "irreparable damage" because of intimidation by
the veterans and urged the government to step in to stop a slide into anarchy.
The veterans are led by Joseph Chinotimba, who orchestrated last year's forced
seizure of white farm land and led a mob of self-styled liberation war veterans
into the country's Supreme Court in a protest against independent judges.
Mugabe, 77, said this month he would seek re-election for another six-year term
in presidential elections next year.
He has accused the MDC of being a front for whites bent on retaining economic
might and vowed he would never allow them into power. Neither Mugabe or
ZANU-PF have condemned the action by war veterans against opposition
supporters or white farmers.
The MDC won nearly half of the 120 seats contested in parliamentary elections
last year and says it would have beaten the ruling ZANU-PF party but for a
violent campaign that left at least 31 mainly opposition supporters dead.
Zimbabwe court boosts
Zanu-PF stand accused of a systematic campaign of
intimidation and violence
The High Court in Zimbabwe has nullified the
result of last year's election in the
constituency contested and lost by the
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Democratic Change has
challenged the results
in 37 constituencies,
saying the election was
marred by a systematic
campaign of intimidation and violence,
orchestrated by the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The result was the first successful court
challenge, and reduces Mr Mugabe's ruling
party's narrow majority among elected MPs.
In another development, South Africa made its
strongest diplomatic protest yet to Zimbabwe
over political violence in the country, which
has seen South African businesses in Harare
Further high court rulings on MDC challenges in
three other constituencies are also expected.
In delivering his
verdict, Judge Kenneth
Manyonda said: "It is
my duty to pronounce
that the respondent
was not duly elected
and that therefore no
one was duly elected."
As a result of the
decision, a by-election
must be held.
Mr Tsvangirai said he was looking forward to
the new vote.
"First let me say that our position has been
vindicated and that we can't wait for a re-run
of that seat," he told reporters outside the
He added: "I'm very confident that justice has
been delivered, and that's why we came here
in the first place."
At least 32 people were killed in the run-up to
last June's parliamentary elections.
One previous MDC challenge was rejected by
the courts, while in recent days another MDC
case was withdrawn.
Zanu-PF party won 63 of the 120 elected
seats in parliament, whilst the MDC won 56.
Another 30 seats in the parliament are
South Africa summoned Zimbabwe's High
Commissioner on Thursday to protest about a
wave of assaults and kidnappings of South
Africans in the country.
South African officials say they have received
reports of attacks on staff from eight
companies, believed to have been carried out
by Zanu-PF supporters.
"Our concern is that within this situation,
South African businesses are entitled to
protection," said senior Foreign Ministry official
South African President Thabo Mbeki has been
criticised in Africa and beyond for what some
see as a failure to condemn President
Mugabe's economic and political policies.