2999mostly Zim news
- Feb 19, 2002Rural revolt threat
Three Southern African countries have sold out the region's peasants in favour of
quick profits and short-term political expediency, a new hard-hitting academic study
SIZWE SAMAYENDE AND JUSTIN ARENSTEIN
The University of the Western Cape's school of government claims the
systematic betrayal of small-scale and subsistence farmers in Mozambique,
South Africa and Zimbabwe is causing a region-wide rural revolt that could
shatter Southern Africa's economy.
The university says peasants, who were promised land ownership and a real chance
of prosperity with the advent of democracy, are instead being marginalised and
kicked off their land in favour of rich foreign investors or privileged local consortiums.
The university's latest Sustainable Livelihoods in Southern Africa report adds that
even when governments attempt to deal with growing dissatisfaction, their policies
and strategies have proved inadequate or impractical.
In post-apartheid South Africa two-thirds of the country is still owned by 60 000 white
landlords, while 14-million black subsistence farmers eke out a living in the former
"None of the three main components of the South African land reform programme,
namely the restitution of land rights, land redistribution and tenure reform, have made
a significant impact," the report reads.
Restitution and redistribution have both, it contends, suffered from cumbersome and
ineffective bureaucratic processes, as well as an over-reliance on market
mechanisms to acquire land.
Tenure reform, which effects millions of rural workers, has also failed to prevent the
eviction of long-term tenants on white-owned farms or halt the encroachment of
private business on tribal and communal land.
A key flaw, university researcher Edward Lahiff notes, is the government's failure to
address the chaotic administration of communal land in former homeland areas
where South Africa's poorest citizens live.
"Land tenure reform has the potential to affect the largest number of people in the
shortest time, but while the government has passed crucial laws it simply hasn't put
the necessary resources into enforcing them," Lahiff explains.
Provincial administrations have, he said, been tasked with implementing the
Extension of Security of Tenure Act but often only hired a single official to police an
"Not even the police, magistrates or other people in the justice
system are sympathetic, so farm tenants aren't taken seriously.
Recent policy shifts, away from the pro-poor approach between
1994 to 1999, towards a commercial farming model and linked
proposals to privatise communal land are also likely to even
further diminish the benefits of land reform," Lahiff warns. South
Africa's failings are not, however, unique.
Neighbouring Mozambique, where 75% of residents are rural and 60% live in
"absolute poverty", also favours big business and foreign investors over the livelihood
of its peasants.
The country promulgated a reform land law in 1997 recognising the land rights of
subsistence farmers, but has failed to honour the rights when challenged by
corporate or foreign interests.
Massive tracts of Mozambique's most fertile land are, Lahiff says, being
concessioned to cash-rich investors without local indigenous farmers being notified
"Available evidence suggests that the impact on the rural poor is entirely negative,
with local people denied access to essential natural resources such as wildlife and
indigenous forests," he warns.
The investors also often impose exploitative contracts on local subsistence farmers,
including sharecropping and labour tenancy agreements that hark back to colonial
"Notable among these new settlers are Afrikaner farmers from South Africa who have
been granted vast concessions in Naissa and Zambezia provinces," said Lahiff.
Dispossession is increasing as tourism and wildlife investors move into Mozambique,
with concerns that thousands of families affected by the new proposed transfrontier
park with South Africa haven't been properly consulted or offered compensation.
Zimbabwe too neglected its rural poor until very recently, granting the best
agricultural land to government supporters and political favourites.
"Zimbabwe was able to boast an impressive rise in production among small-scale
farmers, but its attempts at land reform were implemented very slowly over the 21
years since independence, without any of the key targets being met," said Lahiff.
"President Robert Mugabe was still allocating land to big farmers until just before
land invasions began, and only changed the policy when it was politically expedient
to do so."
Instead of relieving the plight of the rural poor, the invasions of white and
corporate-owned farms by Zanu-PF supporters, war veterans and landless peasants
have so disrupted the agricultural economy that production has plummeted and food
shortages are being reported.
"As a result, prospects for successful reforms may have been set back even as
popular pressure reaches new heights," said Lahiff.
The promised reforms are further limited by Zimbabwe's technocratic, top-down
"The poor quality of support services to resettled farmers and government's neglect of
tenure reform in communal areas has further limited potential benefits."
The failings, which are common in all three countries, have prompted non-government
organisations and peasants themselves to step into the breach.
NGOs such as Associaçâo Rural de ajuda Mútua and peasant movements such as
Uniâo Nacional des Camponeses in Mozambique have spearheaded a land
campaign that has influenced legislation and is changing government's policies.
In South Africa the national land committee hasn't been as successful at creating a
rural social movement but has managed to win wide audiences for its demands for
faster and more radical land reforms.
The committee and its Mozambican counterparts also travelled to Brazil this week to
learn from the apparent success of the Landless Workers' Movement, which has
resettled 542000 rural families or almost two million people on 18-million hectares of
new farmland at a cost of $6,5-billion.
The African activists are, however, in for a disappointment.
Recent Brazilian studies indicate that the dream has soured, with resettled farmers
defaulting on a debt of $450-million and up to 25% of all resettled farmers abandoning
their plots within two years.
The problems cited by Brazilian settlers echo the challenges faced by their African
counterparts, including competition from mechanised commercial estates,
inadequate water, transport and electricity infrastructure and inefficient government
National land committee deputy director Tom Lebert concedes the problems, but
insists that Africans can still learn from the Landless Workers' Movement's success
in mobilising the rural poor and holding government to its land promises.
"We're going to learn from their successes, even if that means noting their failures.
We are also going to build relationships with the 70000 land reform activists at the
World Social Forum, so we can build an alliance against corporate globalisation,"
He stressed that the committee did not oppose South Africa's attempts to produce
black commercial farmers, but warned that not all subsistence farmers wanted or
were able to go commercial.
"We believe land reform should primarily benefit the landless," he said. * African
Eye News Service
Militants March in Zimbabwe
By Angus Shaw
Associated Press Writer
Monday, February 18, 2002; 3:57 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe ** Thousands of ruling party militants marched through Zimbabwe's capital and hurled
stones at the opposition headquarters on Monday as the European Union voted to impose sanctions on the
violence-wracked African nation.
An opposition-aligned group accused police of beating several of its members in a separate incident ahead of
presidential elections next month.
The 10,000 protesters marched Monday to the offices of Britain's diplomatic mission and accused the former
colonial power of supporting the opposition to give control of Zimbabwe back to "white oppressors."
Militants then stoned the building housing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, smashing the
building's glass doors and the windows of adjacent shops. No injuries were reported.
The vote will mark the strongest challenge yet to President Robert Mugabe's 22-year rule. Humanitarian workers
say the violence is part of a coordinated campaign to ensure victory for the increasingly unpopular ruler.
The Zimbabwean government on Monday banned a host of foreign journalists from covering the election despite
earlier promises to admit them.
On Saturday, it expelled European election observer Pierre Schori, prompting the European Union to cut off
$110 million in development aid over five years and impose an EU travel ban on Mugabe and 20 of his Cabinet
"The EU remains seriously concerned at political violence, serious violations of human rights and restrictions on
the media ... which call into question the prospects for a free and fair election," a statement issued by the EU
foreign ministers said.
Church officials in Zimbabwe's second-largest city, Bulawayo, said Monday that four clerics and seven of their
followers were arrested Saturday by police who claimed their prayer vigil for peace violated Zimbabwe's new
Several were arrested as they knelt and prayed outside a police station where the group's leader, the Rev. Noel
Scott, an Anglican pastor, had been taken. Among those arrested was Father Kevin O'Doherty, a Roman
Catholic missionary from Detroit who is based in Bulawayo.
All 11 were released on bail by a Bulawayo court Monday after spending two nights in custody.
The interdenominational group of churches said in a statement that police had banned a prayer procession
Saturday to several local churches, saying they could not guarantee walkers' safety.
The group decided to travel between services in cars, but "a police presence was observed" at each service, the
churches said. Scott was approached while giving a sermon and arrested when he stepped outside the church.
A 1,000-person march for constitutional reform was broken up by police on Friday after it was banned on the
grounds it risked triggering public violence.
The march Monday by 10,000 ruling party supporters, however, was legal, police said.
Police stopped the crowd's attack on the opposition party building and herded at least 50 party militants into
police vans. Police refused to say whether any had been charged.
"The police are blatantly the instruments" of the ruling party, said Lovemore Madhuku, head of the
opposition-backed National Constitutional Assembly, which organized Friday's march. "If you are against the
government you don't have any rights."
On Sunday, the government told Swedish reporters that they would not be allowed to cover the election * an
announcement that came one day after Schori, a Swede, was expelled. Some journalists from other European
countries and South Africa were also rejected.
A few U.S. media organizations, including The Associated Press, were told Monday they had been denied
permission to bring in foreign reporters. A few other U.S. organizations were granted accreditation, which will
Zimbabwe Condemns EU Sanctions
By Angus Shaw
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2002; 6:24 AM
HARARE, Zimbabwe ** The government on Tuesday condemned European Union economic and diplomatic
sanctions, accusing Europe of orchestrating "hostile action" to influence March elections.
"There is no price that is going to be high in defending our independence," said Information Minister Jonathan
The European Union, angered by Zimbabwe's refusal to let its observers freely monitor March 9-10 presidential
elections, imposed sanctions Monday against President Robert Mugabe's government and ordered its observer
EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels imposed "targeted sanctions" with immediate effect, Spanish Foreign
Minister Josep Pique, the meeting's chairman said.
Moyo described the decision as "an orchestrated and self-fulfilling process," The Herald said.
"There is no amount of hostile action through sanctions or otherwise that will make us move from our principle to
defend our indepen mission and accused the former colonial power of supporting the opposition to give control of
Zimbabwe back to "white oppressors."
EU ministers said the 15-nation bloc was seriously concerned about political violence, human rights abuses and
restrictions on the media which called into question the prospects for a free and fair election.
The sanctions include cutting off $110 million in development aid for the 2002-2007 period, a ban on travel to the
EU for Mugabe and 20 of his Cabinet ministers and freezing their assets in Europe.
The EU said it will also pull out 30 European elections observers already in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has been wracked by political violence for the past two years that opposition supporters, human rights
activists and many international officials blame on Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mugabe, 77, who has ruled Zimbabwe since it won independence from Britain, is fighting to maintain his 22-year
grip in power. As his popularity has waned, he has imposed curbs on journalists and opposition parties and many
of his critics have been attacked or threatened with prosecution.
The state media, a platform for official policy, carried no reaction to the EU decision from Mugabe early Tuesday.
In a defiant statement on state television Sunday, a visibly angry Mugabe said Zimbabwe was capable of running
its own elections without interference from Western countries.
Mugabe earlier this month banned election observers from Britain, the former colonial ruler, Denmark, Finland,
Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands, accusing them of bias in favor of the opposition Movement for
Moyo said the government welcomed "open-minded observers."
"We are happy the world is larger than Europe and that we in Africa would like to be judged by Africans who
share the same values with us," he said.
The European sanctions came two days after Zimbabwe expelled Pierre Schori, head of a 30-member EU
election monitoring team.
Schori, Sweden's ambassador to the United Nations, attended the EU foreign ministers meeting. He
recommended against sanctions but said he agreed the observers had to withdraw to spare them physical abuse
In London, an opposition Conservative Party spokesman told British Broadcasting Corp. radio Tuesday that
Zimbabwe could become a "rogue state" and a menace to the international community unless democratic elections
By BBC News Online's Martin Asser
The run-up to the 9-10 March presidential
election in Zimbabwe has seen unprecedented
interest in the electoral monitoring process, in
particular the composition of those bodies
tasked with ensuring the election will be free
The government has issued a number of
invitations for observers from abroad, but has
also specifically excluded certain nationalities -
with UK citizens top of the list - as well as
some of the international organisations which
usually monitor elections.
New electoral legislation
in Zimbabwe makes the
unique linguistic and
legal distinction between
election observers and
Only the monitors
assigned by the official
Commission will be able
to deliver a verdict on
how democratic the
elections have been.
Observers, on the other hand, will be given
free access to observe the electoral process
across the country, but their findings will not
be taken into account by the ESC.
The vast majority of observers - about 12,000
- are to be "domestic", i.e. Zimbabwean
nationals, who will be present in groups of
three at each of the country's 4,000-plus
polling stations. Four monitors are meant to be
at each station as well.
There will also be
dozens of foreign
hundreds of observers
who - in co-ordination
with their Zimbabwean
counterparts - will be
deployed at potential
"hot spots" to try to
bolster the security of
Monitors are being
drawn mainly from
employees at the
Ministries of Education and Home Affairs, and -
to the concern of some domestic observers -
the Defence Ministry.
An agent for each candidate contesting the
election is also allowed at every polling station.
The only difference in terms of access
between these groups is that domestic and
international observers will not be allowed to
stay with the ballot boxes between the polling
booth and the place where votes are counted.
Government has issued
invitations to numerous
countries - both
collectively under the
auspices of continental
and international bodies
of which they are
Invitations to send observers have gone out to
the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)
nations group, the Organisation of African
Unity (OAU, or African Union), and the
Southern African Development Community
(SADC) and the Commonwealth (excluding the
The problems with the
European delegation -
which officials in
Harare said had been
invited as a junior
partner in a group with
the ACP nations - and
from the government's
British observers were
was later extended to include Sweden,
Denmark, Germany, Finland and the
Netherlands, all for allegedly "favouring"
President Robert Mugabe's main rival, Morgan
EU officials announced "targeted sanctions"
and the withdrawal of all the observers,
including those from countries such as France,
Spain and Italy, who had already been
From the US, only the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
has been invited to provide observers, while
other organisations, such as the Carter
Institute and the National Democratic
Institute, which might usually expect to
monitor elections, have not been asked.
The NDI has struggled
to work in Zimbabwe
since 2000, when it
concluded that "the
conditions for credible
do not exist". Denied
body withdrew later
The withdrawal of the
EU team deprives the
body of a group which
would have eventually totalled about 150
That will increase the pressure on the
domestic observers, and the officials and civil
society members of the large foreign
delegations, such as the 100-strong South
African team and the 50 representatives of
Analysis: EU sanctions
By Paul Reynolds
BBC World Affairs Correspondent
The European Union decision to impose so
called "smart" sanctions on Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and 19 of his senior
associates will make little difference to the
conduct of the presidential elections there on
9 and 10 March.
The sanctions mean that Mr Mugabe and the
others will not be able to travel to the EU, will
have their assets in the EU - if any are left -
frozen and the EU will not sell arms to
The EU's foreign ministers imposed them after
the head of the European observer mission,
Swedish diplomat Pierre Schori, was ejected
sanctions will not affect
aid which is directed
towards helping ordinary
The observers still left in
Zimbabwe will be withdrawn on the grounds
that they will be so restricted as to be
The decision was taken after a debate among
the foreign ministers as to whether it might not
be better to leave the sanctions on one side
and the observers in place until after the
elections themselves. The Portuguese and
Greeks took this line.
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said
Europe should not help Mr Mugabe win the
The French were
inclined towards holding
off on sanctions, but
French Foreign Minister
Hubert Vedrine fell in
behind British Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw, who called for a hard
In the end there was unanimity. Everyone,
despite their reservations, accepted that the
expulsion of Mr Schori and inhibitions placed on
the observers were just too much.
"Today is the end of
the road", declared Mr
The European Union
has therefore played
its card. But it is not a
card, since Mr Mugabe
is unlikely to be much
moved by not being
able to travel to
He is single-mindedly
determined to win the
election, as much as he was to win the
guerrilla war against white Rhodesians.
No sign of support
And there is no international agreement on
sanctions. South Africa is not joining in.
Its attitude will also largely determine that of
Zimbabwe's neighbours in the 14-member
South African Development Community (SADC).
The United States might add its weight but
this is not certain and again, in any case,
would not make much difference.
And there is some real opposition to
withdrawing the observers. Amnesty
International says it would have been better
for them to stay.
So the upshot is rather messy - limited
sanctions which will have little effect, and no
The European Union has huffed and now it has
But it is unlikely to bring Robert Mugabe's
EU sanctions move
'baffles' African nations
The EU fears Mugabe is trying to steal the election
African nations have expressed surprise at the
EU's decision to impose sanctions against
Zimbabwe and withdraw its election observers.
Neighbouring South Africa described the move
as "difficult to fathom".
"We're really surprised at
this decision, because if
there are allegations
that elections might not
be free and fair, then it
is important to ensure
that as many neutral,
observers are in place," Deputy Foreign
Minister Aziz Pahad told SABC radio.
Observers from South Africa and the
Commonwealth are still in Zimbabwe.
The South African head of the election
observer team from the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), Samuel
Motswaynarnay, contests the view prevalent
in Europe that Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is
preventing free and fair elections through
Mr Motswaynarnay attended a Zanu-PF rally at
"It was quite big," he said. "I think there was
an attendance of anything up to 20,000 people
at the rally."
in a very orderly way,
and there was no
evidence of any
harassment caused by
the police who were
there in large numbers.
"We also attended a
rally of the opposition
party, in Harare, and
that also proceeded
quite smoothly, with
no evidence of
violence at all."
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo - who
brokered an agreement between Britain and
Zimbabwe last year - also challenges the EU
assertion that Mr Mugabe is using
unacceptable means to ensure his re-election.
"What are the democratic principles that he is
flagrantly abusing?" Mr Obasanjo asked. "He
says he is going into an election. He has
parties other than his own that are allowed
freely to contest and participate.
"He has asked for
observers from all over
the world to come. He
has asked for the
foreign press from all
over the world to
"He has worked with
other political parties
and civil society and
religious leaders in his
country, to reduce the
level of violence."
spokesman for the Commonwealth Secretariat
in London, said that its mission would go ahead
"Our observers are now in Zimbabwe, he said.
"We've got 10 on the ground, and by the end
of the week, we will have a large group of
observers. We hope to have more than 40 in
"The Commonwealth has decided that what it
wants to do is observe the elections, and we
are continuing with that."
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