- U.S. Official Condemns Zimbabwe
By Ravi Nessman
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, May 9, 2000; 10:06 a.m. EDT
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa ** U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
Strobe Talbott condemned the government of Zimbabwe on Tuesday for
political violence that has killed at least 18 people * mostly opposition
supporters * in recent months.
"What is happening today in Zimbabwe is tarnishing southern Africa's
otherwise well-deserved reputation for building civil society, respecting
human rights and establishing the rule of law," Talbott told a conference on
U.S.-Africa relations at the University of Witwatersrand.
Also Tuesday, Norway froze much of its economic aid to Zimbabwe to
protest the situation and to "send clear signals to the authorities in
Zimbabwe," Development Aid Minister Anne Kristin Sydnes said.
Armed black squatters, some of whom have said they are being paid by
the ruling party, have occupied more than 1,000 white-owned farms
across Zimbabwe this year, demanding the land be seized and
redistributed to some of the country's 7.5 million landless blacks. At the
same time, other ruling party militants have beaten * and in some cases
killed * opposition supporters in advance of a parliamentary election that
legally must be called by August.
Talbott decried the tattered state of democracy in Zimbabwe.
"We all recognize that there are historical inequities in land distribution in
that country * inequities that can and must be rectified. But that's no
excuse for the Zimbabwean government to condone * and even instigate *
blatant violations of the rule of law and violence against supporters of
opposition parties," he said.
He called on the Southern African Development Community, which
comprises 14 countries in the region, "to do everything it can to encourage
free and fair parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe before August and to
insist on an end to the violence."
Talbott spoke before heading to Pretoria to meet with President Thabo
Mbeki, who is making a state visit to the United States later this month.
Zimbabwe school farm
Squatters have invaded about 1,200 farms
Supporters of land occupations in Zimbabwe
have invaded a school farm, forcing pupils to
The squatters are demanding the use of half of
the buildings at the Rydings primary school
near Karoi, in the north west of the country.
Teachers said they feared for the safety of
300 children, all aged under 11.
and veterans of
war have invaded about
farms since February as
part of a
The Rydings school sits
on a 1,100-acre farm,
run by a non-profit-making organisation which
uses the farming activities to subsidise school
fees for children from neighbouring Zambia and
Head teacher Iain McKenzie said: "I would hate
to have 300 children here without certainty of
He said after
parents he had decided
not to reopen the
school for the start of
the new term until the
safety of pupils is
Mr McKenzie said the
war veterans had
demanded a significant
section of Rydings
Charles Slight, chairman of the board of
trustees of Rydings, said: "The farming
community has tried to keep this issue as
non-confrontational as possible, but they've
been told by the war veterans that they also
want 'half the school.'"
US speaks out
The school farm invasion came as US President
Bill Clinton expressed hopes that the land crisis
would be lawfully resolved.
President Clinton said: "I've got (Washington's
UN) Ambassador Holbrooke over there now,
working on a lot of the troubles in Africa,
including the situation in Zimbabwe, and I hope
it can be worked out in a lawful manner.
"I think it's quite sad, what's going on,
because it's a very important country, and it's
very important to South Africa and South
Africa's future as well as to the future of the
people who live in Zimbabwe," he said.
War veterans' leader Chenjerai Hunzvi earlier
served notice that the invasions of
white-owned farms would be stepped up.
He urged his followers to seek out British
passport holders and force them to leave the
The UK Government has said it has
contingency plans to evacuate up to 20,000
people in the event of an emergency.
At least 12 opposition supporters - including
three white farmers - have been killed in
political violence that has accompanied the
The Zimbabwe Government has pledged to
break up big, largely white-owned farms and
redistribute them to landless peasants.
White Kenyan Says 500 Families Invade Two Farms
NAIROBI (Reuters) - A white Kenyan government minister said Tuesday that
hundreds of families had invaded two farms following calls by two radical
parliamentarians for the occupation of under-utilized white-owned farms.
Basil Criticos, the assistant minister for roads and public works, said in a
statement that about 300 families had moved onto his farm and beaten up his
security personnel. Another 200 families had invaded another farm, he said.
"Since the debate on this sensitive subject began, my farm has been invaded by
over 300 families...who not only burned over 2,000 acres of arable sisal but also
cleared the burned sisal and started cultivating and subdividing the land with
impunity," Criticos said.
The statement did not say when the invasions began but said they followed
exhortations by Social Democratic Party MP Steven Ndicho, and Sharif Nassir,
a minister in the Office of the President.
There have been fears that Kenya could be enveloped by violence similar to that
in Zimbabwe where veterans of the country's civil war have occupied hundreds
of white-owned farms they say were stolen by British colonists about a century
- 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.