- White Farmer Shot in Zimbabwe Again
By Ravi Nessman
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, April 18, 2000; 9:27 a.m. EDT
HARARE, Zimbabwe * Hours after a second white landowner was
killed, President Robert Mugabe told the nation today he was trying to
broker a compromise to end the occupation by black squatters of about
1,000 white-owned farms.
But Mugabe, in a televised address marking the 20th anniversary of
Zimbabwe's independence from Britain, presented no concrete solutions
to the increasingly bloody crisis and gave different speeches in different
languages, apparently trying to appease both sides of the conflict.
Squatters shot and killed cattle rancher Martin Olds today in
Nyamandhlovu, 50 miles north of the western provincial capital Bulawayo.
Olds, 42, had initially survived being shot and beaten and called for help
on a radio, but his attackers kept medical workers away until it was too
late, said David Hasluck, director of the Commercial Farmers' Union
which represents white farmers.
Another group of squatters today abducted Kevin Tinker, a white farmer
and opposition supporter, from his farm in Christon Bank, 10 miles north
of Harare, said Hendrik O'Neill, a spokesman for the Movement for
Squatters also set David Stobart's farm ablaze in Enterprise Valley, 25
miles north of Harare after getting into a fight with his workers.
The farmers' union was advising farmers to leave the area.
The attacks came three days after squatters shot to death David Stevens,
a white farmer and supporter of the Movement for Democratic Change,
the main opposition party. Five other farmers who tried to help him were
In Mugabe's first version of his speech, delivered in English, he expressed
regret for the deaths and said farmer resistance to land reform has
"created frustrations leading to the current spate of farm occupations."
But in a second version of his speech, delivered in the native Shona
language, Mugabe thanked the occupiers, reportedly led by veterans of
Zimbabwe's independence war, for moving onto the farms.
Opposition leaders say Mugabe planned the farm occupations as a
political ploy to rally support for his party ahead of parliamentary elections
expected to be held in May.
Hasluck said his union has evidence that a top Mugabe aide, Border Gezi,
arranged for supporters to move onto white-owned land after voters on
Feb. 16 rejected a referendum that would have let the government seize
white-owned farms without paying compensation. Ruling party legislators
passed the law anyway on April 6.
"This thing will escalate until somebody takes a stand to stop it," said Chris
Jarrett, a white farmer who lived near Olds.
Mugabe said land reform remains "emotive and vexed" and said he was
talking to the farmers and the war veterans to try to find a solution to the
About 4,000 white farmers own one-third of Zimbabwe's productive
agricultural land. Government plans to resettle landless blacks on some of
that land have foundered from corruption and government
"We can understand the frustration of the war veterans, just as we
understand the pressures faced by the commercial farmers," Mugabe said.
Mugabe also criticized Great Britain and the United States for failing to
help pay for land reform, which he called "the last colonial question."
Mugabe's televised speech came in place of the military parades, tribal
dances, sports displays and other anniversary celebrations that the
government said it canceled to save money. However, it is widely believed
that Mugabe called off the festivities because of fears of political protests
Zimbabwe is suffering from its worst economic crisis with more than 50
percent unemployment and 70 percent inflation.
On Monday, Mugabe abruptly summoned white farm leaders to his office
for their first meeting since the occupations began two months ago and
promised to personally intervene to "to get things back to normality" on
the white-owned farms, said Tim Henwood, a farm union official.
An account of the meeting in the state-controlled Herald newspaper today
made no mention of Mugabe's reported promise to the farmers. The
report said the farmers reaffirmed their support for land reform in
Zimbabwe and pledged to keep their organizations out of politics.
The renewed violence includes the killing Saturday of two black
opposition party figures in a firebomb attack.
White farmer John Osborne recounts the
terrifying sequence of events that led to
his neighbour, Dave Stevens, being shot
dead by war veterans who have been
occupying farms around his home in
Virginia Macheke district.
We received a call for assistance from one of
our neighbours, Dave Stevens, at about half
A chap ... who is police liaison, and I, went to
Dave's place. As we turned off the main dirt
road into his farm road, three vehicles came
The middle vehicle was Dave Stevens' Land
Rover. He was in the passenger side. He was
We then thought we
had better follow him,
and see where they
were taking him. So we
followed them all the
way into Murehwa
We actually lost sight
of the bus going near Murehwa. But once we
got into Murehwa, apparently it's the war
veterans' building or compound or whatever -
these guys came swarming out, so we shot off
down he road, turned around and hoofed it
back through Murehwa.
As we went through, this first vehicle in the
convoy of three vehicles came after us, let a
round off at us in the middle of Murehwa, and
it was trying to catch us, and we decided to
turn into the police station. As we did that
they let off another round at us.
Then we went into the police station thinking
we would be safe - there must have been 15
or 20 police cars on duty. We went into the
courtyard in the police camp.
'Police just stood by'
Within a very short time there were quite a
few - call them war vets - some of them are
too young to be war vets - pitched up and
they just marched into the police station.
The police just stood by, the guys came into
the police station with the weapon, they
handcuffed all three of us, then they took us
to the war veterans' headquarters, which was
the same building we had seen them going
I was the first one pulled out of the vehicle
and I was given quite a good beating. I was
then thrown into a room out the back and
there I saw Dave Stevens.
We were locked up in this room, both of us
were handcuffed. We were knocked about a
bit, then they put Dave and myself into the
private sedan car, the one that had chased us
and shot at us.
They drove through
Murehwa up to a dirt
road, and they drove I
would guess about 2km
off this road, then they
dragged us out of the
car and abused us,
beat us around, and
then one of the women said she recognised
me, and that I shouldn't be hurt because
we've helped out our communal neighbours
quite a bit.
And there was another young guy who said
the same thing. And so they threw me into the
car, and they beat Dave very badly and then
I was then taken back to one of the Murehwa
people's homes, nothing to do with this
particular scene, it's just a senior guy there, a
well-respected family. They looked after me
until we could organise transport to get me
through here to Marondera.
I wasn't overly frightened - there's not much
you can do in a situation like that. I really
wasn't thinking much, I was just hoping I
would get through it.
(The shooting) changes things, doesn't it? His
two kids are two years old - twins. What can
'It was about the vote'
It was quite interesting throughout the whole
episode that there was no talk about land, no
talk about anything, it was about the vote.
They say because we are white we are
automatically MDC supporters. I think that's
why they targeted Dave, because he had been
involved in the MDC at a low level. His workers
were all very pro-MDC. I think that's why they
... The war veterans are running rampant in
that neck of the woods (Murehwa) at the
moment. The police seem either not to have
the will, or they are just completely powerless.
I would say it's a combination of both ...
Isn't it a natural consequence of having no law
and order - that's why we find ourselves in this
situation. There is no law and order at the
As the for the consequences in the country,
look what's happened in the last couple of
months, and the popularity all this carry-on
the guy who looked
after me yesterday
before I came to
hospital, he said go
ahead and farm ...
There will be a few
farms taken, but your
farm will be fine.
I got beaten up farly
soon after everything
came apart. I lost my
glasses - both pairs of
glasses, and I didn't see that much. I would
say in the vets compound, 80 to 100 people
We were warned by one of the senior vets
that a vehicle had come ... carrying war vets
to try to sort farmers out, and we were told
another was coming down ... to add numbers,
and when I was being kept at this house,
there were people marching up and down in
the town itself.
'Don't send white people here'
There were some farmers reasonably close by
who had asked if they should come and pick
me up. I asked the people that were looking
after me, and they said "no, don't send any
white people in here." They were obviously
very wary as well.
It was unreal yesterday. And these guys are
not playing, they are deadly serious, and they
are out of control.
I think what triggered
the event, was the
retaliation by the
employees on Dave
Stevens' farm against
these war vets.
According to the senior
war vet there, four of
their people are in
hospital here in Marondera, and two of them
had gone missing.
Now they inferred by going missing that they
were dead. Whether the guys had run away or
whatever they had done I do not know. This
story was probably spread and distorted and
was enough of a story to really wind up all the
If they carry out the threats I would think it
(Murehwa) would be a pretty risky place to be
in the next few days.
They were going to take farms over, they were
going to teach those whites who hadn't
listened properly a lesson.
The only two weapons I saw clearly were a
303 rifle and a shotgun - a new shotgun.
We should be 20 years on further down the
road. This country's got such a great
potential, it's just mind-blowing that we've
dropped down to this level.
This page has an extensive video interview with the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
- Zim police raid churches, round up displaced
21 July 2005 04:25
Police raided church halls in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, rounding up people who had been sheltering there since their homes were destroyed in a so-called urban renewal drive, a human rights lawyer said on Thursday.
Wednesday's raids came just days before the release of a United Nations report on Zimbabwe's controversial Operation Murambatsvina.
On Thursday, some of the hundreds of thousands left homeless were allowed to return to the demolished township of Hatcliffe, on the northern outskirts of the capital, Harare, state media reported.
Police have torched and bulldozed townships, informal markets and other structures deemed illegal since launching the demolition campaign on May 19. Vendors accused of black-market dealing have also been arrested or had their goods confiscated.
Independent estimates of the number affected range from 300 000 to more than a million.
Only a small number of people were removed in the church raids, said attorney Jenny Coltart.
"Many of the churches have already moved the people last week on to a farm they had negotiated for, but there were some who had not moved," she said. "The police came in late last night, loaded them on to trucks and drove off."
Church leaders were trying to locate them on Thursday.
An estimated 20 000 people had their homes destroyed in Hatcliffe, on the northern outskirts of the capital, in May. Many of them were given just 30 minutes to pack their belongings and were forced at gunpoint to tear down their own houses.
Late on Wednesday, Deputy Housing Minister Morris Sakabuya told Parliament about 3 100 plots have been demarcated in the township and are being allocated to "vetted" families, the national broadcaster and state-run Herald newspaper reported.
"Only those with lease agreements were allowed back, while those with receipts showing they had paid for their stands were also given lease agreements," Sakabuya was quoted as saying.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo told Parliament the government will help the displaced rebuild but warned that any returnees who fail to meet state building standards will be evicted again.
Trudy Stevenson, an opposition Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker who represents the area, was not impressed.
"How will they all find out about this when some have gone to Mozambique, Malawi or [been] chased back to their 'rural areas' by police?" she asked. "What about the seven weeks schoolchildren have missed, the people on anti-retrovirals and other medication who have been without it? How many have died? Who is going to find the orphans and tell them?"
Many of the displaced also lost their livelihoods and do not have the means to rebuild, she added.
President Robert Mugabe's government has promised Z$3-trillion (R2,1-billion) for the reconstruction effort, but economists question whether the funds are available at a time of economic crisis.
The government defends the campaign as a clean-up drive in overcrowded, crime-ridden slums.
But the opposition says it is aimed at breaking up its strongholds among the urban poor and forcing them into rural areas where they can be more easily controlled by chiefs sympathetic to the government.
Last month, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sent an envoy to assess the humanitarian impact of the campaign.
Anna Tibaijuka, the Tanzanian head of UN Habitat, submitted her report earlier this week. A copy was also sent to Mugabe for review before it is made public, expected on Friday or Monday. -- Sapa-AP
Zim defiant over loan conditions
Nic Dawes and Rapule Tabane
21 July 2005 11:59
If South Africa agrees to a loan request from Zimbabwe, one of its conditions would be an end to the Murambatsvina campaign to demolish illegal structures in urban areas. (Photograph: AP)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe may well choke on the tough conditions attached to any loan package offered to him by the South African government -- despite Zimbabwe's worsening foreign currency crunch.
Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba, told the Mail & Guardian that Zimbabwe would not accept financial help tied to conditions, adding that South Africa was one of numerous countries Zimbabwe had approached.
"I don't understand why the South African media is treating the loan request as unique to South Africa. We have also made representations to the Indian government," Charamba said.
Mugabe is due to visit China this weekend and diplomatic observers believe China is the country most likely to step into the breach.
Beijing is anxious to secure access to minerals such as platinum and chrome, which Zimbabwe has in abundance, and may provide a way for Mugabe to acquire hard currency without making political concessions.
In the first clear sign that South Africa is prepared to use its economic leverage to break Zimbabwe's political logjam, President Thabo Mbeki's Cabinet was expected this week to discuss Mugabe's request for a $1-billion loan facility. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), meanwhile, is taking final steps in preparation to expel Zimbabwe for its persistent failure to pay a $295-million debt.
Government officials stress that no decision has yet been taken to extend a credit line, but that any help will be based on a South African assessment of what is appropriate for Zimbabwe's needs and will entail stringent terms.
These are understood to include the resumption of talks on constitutional reform between Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), an end to the Murambatsvina, or "drive out filth" campaign to demolish illegal structures in urban areas, and economic reforms.
Charamba, was adamant that Zimbabwe would reject conditions, particularly a call for new talks with the MDC. "We meet the MDC on a daily basis and dialogue with them in parliament," he said.
"Should the MDC request talks outside Parliament, it will be considered. But firstly, they would have to clarify their call for sanctions, which are now causing untold suffering to ordinary Zimbabweans. That would be our precondition."
He added: "I don't understand why South Africans will put a condition that we end Operation Clean Up when it has already ended. We are now at the next stage, Operation Hlalani Kahle (stay and live well), which will focus on housing delivery that goes beyond people affected by Operation Clean Up."
Nevertheless, the IMF's threatened withdrawal appears to have created a window of opportunity for the South African government to push ahead with plans for a "carrot-and-stick" package, which Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has been quietly punting for some time.
Zimbabwe needs hard currency to buy fuel, electricity and basic commodities. With its reserves exhausted, the government has been reduced to buying dollars on the black market to fund imports.
After a visit to Harare by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi, Manuel and Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni met officials, led by Zimbabwe Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, last Friday.
South African sources said that while the Zimbabwean delegation "painted a picture" of their currency crisis, any funding would be shaped by their own assessment of the situation. The credit facility was unlikely to amount to the reported $1-billion.
"It is far from a done deal," one official said. "The conditionalities will be tough and Mugabe isn't going to like them at all."
China is seen as Zimbabwe's most likely benefactor, as it makes no pretence of using aid to promote democracy and good governance.
Western and African diplomats are worried that the link between economic assistance and good governance, established by initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), may be undermined in China's drive for resource security.
In 2004 it agreed to a $2-billion line of credit for Angola after an IMF loan fell through when the MPLA government would not agree to anti- corruption conditions. The loan is backed by oil guarantees and commitments to employ Chinese construction firms in the rebuilding of infrastructure.
Mugabe has already concluded agreements to buy fighter jets and riot control gear from the Chinese government. Despite these concerns, observers in Harare are buoyed by what they see as a marked difference in pace and tone from South Africa and the African Union. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangarai embarked on a hectic round of African diplomacy ahead of the G8 summit at Gleneagles, meeting, among others, current AU chairperson and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to insist on the importance of linking democratic reforms and economic recovery.
Obasanjo and Mbeki, who split in 2003 over Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth, appear to have gone to Gleneagles united on that issue, even as Zimbabwe's urban demolition campaign refocused international attention on the crisis.
Chief government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe was reluctant to give details of the Cabinet discussions or the recent meetings with Zimbabwean officials. "The discussions have been about how we can assist in the Zimbabwean economic recovery programme as well as the normalisation of the political situation," he said.
"There is no agreement on a loan, but if the issue arises, it would be referred to Cabinet and a loan facility would have to be confirmed by Parliament."
Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon, meanwhile, questioned whether South Africa could afford the loan, saying taxpayer funds should not be used to bail out a dictator.
In a speech in Cradock on Thursday, he said: "South Africa should not provide any assistance beyond emergency relief until the Zimbabwean government meets strict conditions, including, but not limited to: ending Operation Murambatsvina; opening formal, public negotiations with opposition parties under the supervision of the African Union and the United Nations; allowing international aid agencies to operate freely within Zimbabwe; and providing proof of all purchases made with money donated or loaned by South Africa."
UN condemns Zimbabwe slum blitz
A major UN report has called for an immediate end to Zimbabwe's slum clearance programme, declaring it to be in violation of international law.
Hundreds of thousands of homes in the country's shanty towns have been torched and bulldozed in recent months.
Zimbabwe says the demolitions aim to clean up urban areas and ensure building regulations are followed.
But the UN report, to be released in full later on Friday, says the policy is disastrous and inhumane.
The BBC's Susannah Price at UN headquarters in New York says the UK and US are likely to use the hard-hitting document to renew their calls for the UN to take immediate action.
To date, the Security Council has refused to call a meeting on the clearances.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe usually rejects any criticism, as coming from racists, or their stooges, opposed to his nationalist stance but correspondents say this will be more difficult with this report.
It was compiled by Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, a respected international diplomat from Tanzania, a country with close political links to Zimbabwe.
The report calls for an immediate halt to the slum clearances which it says have affected a total of two million people.
"While purporting to target illegal dwellings and structures [the operation] was carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified manner, with indifference to human suffering," it says, according to an excerpt cited by the Associated Press news agency.
Zimbabwe says the policy - known as Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out Rubbish] - is intended to crack down on black-market trading and other criminal activity in the slum areas.
But the report says, whatever the motive, the result is ill-conceived and inhumane.
Hundreds of thousands have been forced to seek shelter elsewhere as their homes are destroyed.
The opposition says the evictions are meant to punish urban residents, who have rejected President Robert Mugabe in favour of the opposition in recent elections.
The report has already been presented to Zimbabwe's government and will be presented to all UN members on Friday.