2835mostly Zim news
- Dec 10, 2001Mugabe to ‘tough it out’
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is likely to *tough it out* and appeal to black
South Africans over President Thabo Mbeki’s head, in response to the South African
government’s ditching of its *quiet diplomacy* policy
Further intensifying the country’s isolation, the United States Congress adopted
the Zimbabwe Democracy Act by an overwhelming majority.
Diplomats said Mugabe was most likely to respond to the pressures by projecting
himself to black South Africans as *a Pan Africanist hero* and *toughing it out, at
least until he has won a further six-year term*.
He has already tried to strike a posture as Africa's revolutionary crusader against
globalisation and the relics of white imperialism, setting an example to the region
― particularly South Africa ― on how to conduct land reform.
Diplomats said another possibility ― although remote ― was that Mugabe would
make cosmetic changes to appease Mbeki. A small group of wealthy white farmers
who have backed Mugabe to win forthcoming elections may be brought on board,
with at least one being offered a Cabinet seat.
A minister able to speak a South African language, such as Ndebele-speaking
Zanu-PF party chairperson John Nkomo, currently Minister of Home Affairs, may be
charged with improving Harare-Pretoria relations.
In the past week Mugabe has ditched the centuries-old rule book of diplomatic
practice by permitting his hard-line Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo, to pillory
targeted Western diplomats in the state-controlled media, in addition to launching a
war of words on Pretoria.
Danish ambassador Ole Moesby and British High Commissioner Brian Donnelly
The day Mbeki let it be known he had
finally lost patience ― Mugabe's worst
external setback in years ― the new
Supreme Court bench under former
minister Godfrey Chidyausiku handed the
Zimbabwean president a predicted
internal triumph in the form of 4-1
endorsement of the *fast track land
The last hopes that internal pressure
could bring change were destroyed on
Monday by the newly reconstituted
Supreme Court. Envoys and jurists said
only external pressure could ensure
anything resembling clean presidential
elections next year.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku cleared the government of all wrongdoing despite the
murder of 39 farmworkers and nine farmers in two years of what Mugabe calls the
*Third Chimurenga" or civil war.
It was unreasonable to expect the government to *bring about a totally crime free
environment", said Chidyausiku. He added that land reform *is a matter of social
justice, not strictly speaking a legal issue".
Three newly appointed Mugabe sympathisers backed Chidyausiku's finding, which
now clears the way for summary redistribution of 5 000 white-owned farms to
300 000 Zanu-PF supporters.
Human rights lawyer Adrian de Bourbon said the ruling marked *the end of the road"
for farmers’ attempts to fight through the courts. Anyone attempting to defend human
rights from now on *runs a very severe risk of not getting a fair adjudication", he
However, Zimbabwe's legal community were ringing in their praise for the personal
courage and moral integrity of Appeal Judge Admed Ibrahim (61), who issued a
Ibrahim rejected demands that he resign earlier this year, despite warnings by
Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa that *anything could happen" following death
threats from Mugabe's war veterans.
In his minority ruling, likely to be reprinted in legal journals around the world, Ibrahim
accused the government of coming back to Judge Chidyausiku with the same
arguments that had been rejected by the previous Supreme Court bench under Judge
He said that on the evidence put before the Supreme Court by the Commercial
Farmers’ Union it was impossible to say law and order had been restored.
*Haphazard squatting cannot form part of a lawful programme of land reform," he
said. *It is not the function of the courts to support the government of the day. The
courts' duty is to the law and the law alone. They may never subvert the law. To do
otherwise would create huge uncertainty in the law."
De Bourbon's warning that internal means of legal redress were running out was
echoed by Professor Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe’s business school.
He believes there is little hope the local business community will exert internal
pressure for reform, despite the worsening economic crisis.
However, Zimbabwe remained vulnerable to South African pressure on transport, fuel
and electricity, said Hawkins. *The economic pressures will continue to intensify in
the months ahead, but this government is going nowhere until the elections.
*If Mugabe wins he will have to try and do something ― I don't know what ― to
reverse some of the things he is doing now. Undermining the dynamo of the
economy ― agriculture ― will not fully hit us until next year or the year after.
*We haven't felt the full effect of financing the budget deficit by the tax on savers, and
the exchange rate policy."
Institutional investors are currently receiving a maximum of 30% returns in the face of
nearly 100% inflation, which Hawkins describes as *a concealed tax".
*There will also be a substantial outflow of skills post election," said Hawkins.
Despite the country’s economic decline, political entropy and increasing international
isolation, no challenge is expected to Mugabe’s leadership at next week’s Zanu-PF
congress in Victoria Falls.
An orgy of anti-Western and anti-South African rhetoric is expected when close on
14 000 delegates turn up in the resort town.
Ministers to audit Zimbabwe's
Harare | Monday
FOREIGN ministers from six southern African countries are due
in Harare on Monday to audit developments in Zimbabwe's
controversial land reforms, a government representative said on
The meeting is a follow-up to a Southern African Development
Community (SADC) summit of heads of states held three months
ago as part of an international diplomatic offensive to prevent
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis from turning into a
Foreign ministers of Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia,
Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected
to hold talks at a Harare hotel.
"They will be here from the 11th to the 12th of December. This is
a follow up to the heads of states summit of September," said
representative George Charamba.
The September summit agreed to set up a committee of ministers
to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe.
Asked about the agenda, the representative said "the agenda is
theirs, but they have indicated they want to meet stakeholders."
Local state media say the ministers are expected to hear from an
array of interest groups -- including the main opposition party,
white farmers, liberation war veterans, church groups, civic
bodies, the media and representatives of commerce and industry.
The meeting is to take place after reported calls by President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa for a special SADC task team on
Zimbabwe to be set up.
South Africa's Sunday Times last week said that Mbeki's
patience with Harare was "wearing thin" because the Zimbabwe
crisis was hampering efforts to launch an economic revival plan for
Zimbabwe's turmoil has already had economic effects around the
region, scaring off some potential investors.
The crippled economy also means that a major market for
regionally produced goods is disappearing, as the price of imports
soars with the skyrocketing exchange rate on the parallel market.
In September, Zimbabwe struck a deal with the British
government, under which Britain will pay compensation for the
acquired farms in the former colony, on condition there is a return
to law and order.
At the end of October a Commonwealth team of ministers met in
Harare to investigate progress made in the implementation of the
agreement with Britain.
The ministers concluded their meeting with a call 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.
Last week the Supreme Court declared the land reforms were in
accordance with the constitution, saying the "land acquisition and
redistribution is essentially a matter of social justice and not
strictly speaking a legal issue".
Zimbabwe has been wracked by a land crisis since February
2000, when militant government supporters spearheaded the
invasion of white-owned farms to press for their redistribution to
Meanwhile, Moeletsi Mbeki, a leading international affairs expert
and brother of South Africa's president said on Sunday that
drastic measures including economic action are necessary to
avoid a crisis in Zimbabwe.
The situation in Zimbabwe not act, Mbeki said on public
broadcaster SABC's Newsmaker programme.
"South Africa is the one country that is going to be hurt the most
by the Zimbabwe crisis, so it is the country that has to take most
of the action," said Mbeki, who is the deputy chairman of the
South African Institute for International Affairs.
Measures against the Harare government of President Robert
Mugabe could include "pulling the economic plug" on Zimbabwe,
Mbeki told SABC's Newsmaker programme.
"You know, most of Zimbabwe's trade goes through South Africa.
We must be their biggest trading partner," Mbeki said.
"So we can stop the Zimbabwean economy tomorrow if we
wanted to. We have the muscle," he said. - AFP
And this isn't Africa-related at all, except that I saw the story in the Jo'burg paper. Weird, weird world...
JAPANESE WOMAN DIES
LOOKING FOR FARGO LOOT
A JAPANESE woman who
apparently set out to find one
million dollars in ransom money
depicted in the hit comedy-thriller
"Fargo" may have died from
exposure, Japanese media said
on Monday. The body of the
woman, a resident of Tokyo, was
found in the Detroit Lakes area of
Minnesota on November 15, Jiji
Press said, citing the Japanese
Consulate General in Chicago and
local press reports. A hunter
discovered the lightly-clothed
body of the 28-year old in a forest
one week after she landed in
Minneapolis, Kyodo News said.
She had earlier been interviewed
by local police after being seen
wandering alone in the town of
Bismarck, North Dakota. Unable
to communicate adequately in
English, the woman showed police
a crude hand-drawn map which led
them to believe she was
attempting to find the ransom
money depicted in the
Oscar-winning 1996 Joel and
Ethan Cohen film. A Japanese
foreign ministry official from the
division in charge of protecting
Japanese nationals overseas
confirmed the woman's death, but
declined to comment on the
circumstances or identify her,
citing privacy concerns. "Fargo",
named after a town on the
Minnesota-North Dakota border, is
the fictional story of a faked
kidnap that goes horribly wrong. It
is set in the frozen wastes of the
border area's Great Plains. In one
scene, one of the villains stops
his car in a snowy landscape
devoid of features except for a
wire fence and fenceposts to bury
a briefcase containing almost one
million dollars. The film opens with
the statement: "This is a true
story. The events depicted in this
film took place in Minnesota in
1987," a statement now
celebrated as a cinematic joke.
"For the record, no Twin Cities
dealers' wives have been
kidnapped and killed in Brainerd (a
town in Minnesota where most of
the film is set)... no one has been
axed to death, dismembered and
fed into a wood chipper," the
website of the Brainerd Daily
Dispatch states, referring to the
film's gruesome plot. - Sapa-AFP
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