- Zimbabwe police create
pre-vote veneer of order
Police have started evicting invaders from white-owned farms, in what crirics
say is an attempt to lull foreign observers into believing a free and fair
election is possible in Zimbabwe.
JEREMY LOVELL reports
IMBABWEAN police have begun enforcing the law after months of
tolerating government-backed violence intended to crush the opposition's
But critics say the new tack is simply a ploy to persuade foreign observers that
the parliamentary election on June 24-25 will have been both free and fair.
Only in April the police were trying to have set aside a court ruling that they
should evict black squatters from hundreds of white-owned farms, arguing it
might spark civil war.
"There is a before and after," one foreign diplomat said at the weekend. "The
period before the announcement of the election date, when the police did nothing,
is gone. History starts with the announcement of the election date."
On Tuesday police finally evicted invaders -- most of whom style themselves as
veterans of Rhodesia's 1970s war of liberation from white rule -- from a
white-owned farm in the eastern highlands.
For weeks they had refused to go near
the property, owned by Roy Bennet, a
prominent businessman and prospective
parliamentary candidate for the
opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. Many of the affected farmers
back the MDC.
Police have also repelled attacks by the
veterans on a police station in the town
of Mvurwi, 100 km north of the capital,
killing one of the attackers in the
The attacks followed the arrest of one
veteran who was being held at the
station, and the arrest in the Harare
suburb of Budiriro of 46 other militants
who were accused of torturing
opponents of the government.
But critics say these are cosmetic
reactions to what have been almost
daily incidents of torture and repression
of opposition supporters.
"There are lots of observers landing here almost on a daily basis," one foreign
diplomat said. "If they (the government) want the elections to be declared free
and fair, the violence has to stop. The police have to take action."
"The police have done nothing so far. They have to do something so as to be seen
being police," said another. "For the elections to be judged both free and fair
there has to be a cessation of violence and restoration of the rule of law."
At least 24 people have been murdered, hundreds beaten or tortured and many
more driven from their homes since February, as police have looked on, in a
campaign ostensibly intended to reverse the wrongs of colonial land seizure.
More than 1 000 of 4 500 mainly white-owned commercial farms have been
Electoral arithmetic makes it virtually certain President Robert Mugabe's ruling
Zanu-PF will extend its 20-year rule. The president personally awards 30 of the
150 seats in parliament.
Mugabe has condemned the violence but said the invasions are justified because
land redistribution has been too slow.
Last week the government passed a law giving it the power to acquire land while
paying only for improvements made and not the underlying asset -- passing that
particular buck to the former colonial ruler, Britain.
Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa told the invading veterans at the
weekend they should prepare to leave the farms, but veteran leader Chenjerai
Hunzvi said on Tuesday they would stay put until the president ordered them to
-- Reuters, June 1 2000.
Farms To Be Seized in Zimbabwe
By Angus Shaw
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, May 31, 2000; 3:22 p.m. EDT
HARARE, Zimbabwe ** The government will seize 841 white-owned
farms and hand them over to landless blacks by the end of June, a
government official announced Wednesday.
Vincent Kwenda, described as the director of land acquisition in the office
of President Robert Mugabe, made the announcement while touring the
country to explain a new land-seizure law passed by ruling party
lawmakers last month, state radio reported.
The law empowers the government to seize private land without paying
Kwenda said the landless would be allowed to settle on the properties
before roads, water supplies, schools and other infrastructure are installed,
the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. reported. That would be a departure
from the normal practice in which farms acquired for resettlement were
carved up into plots with access roads and basic utilities.
Since February, squatters led by ruling party militants have occupied more
than 1,400 white-owned farms, saying they were protesting the slow pace
of the government's land nationalization program.
It was not immediately clear whether squatters on farms not among the
841 to be nationalized would be forced off land they have claimed.
Kwenda spoke in the agricultural center of Chinhoyi, 70 miles northwest
of Harare. His remarks came despite a plan proposed by President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa in which Saudi Arabia, Nordic countries and other
donors would contribute $14 million to pay 118 farmers who did not
contest seizure but demanded fair compensation.
The 118 farms would serve as a model for future land reform.
State radio said the government will list the 841 targeted properties in an
official proclamation Friday.
David Hasluck, director of the Commercial Farmers' Union, said even
under the new land nationalization law, the state was required by the
constitution to give owners 30 days to respond to the proclamation. It
therefore could not act before the end of June, he said.
However, ownership rights enshrined in the constitution and laws
protecting private property have been ignored by the government during
violent land occupations by mobs and veterans of the bush war that ended
white rule in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence
Mugabe has described the occupations as a justified protest against unfair
land ownership mainly by the descendants of British settlers.
The Movement for Democratic Change opposition group, the biggest
threat to the ruling party in parliamentary elections slated for June 24-25,
accuses Mugabe of allowing the occupations and promising land to bolster
his flagging popularity among the rural poor, and to punish white farmers
for openly supporting the opposition.
At least 26 people, most of them opposition supporters, have been killed
in political violence that began in February. Four of the dead were white
ZIM TO BEGIN WITHDRAWAL
FROM DR CONGO ZIMBABWE
will begin a phased withdrawal of
troops from the Democratic
Republic of the Congo at the end
of the month, the privately-owned
weekly Financial Gazette said on
Thursday. The paper quoted
military sources as saying under a
preliminary plan, 5 000 troops will
be withdrawn at the end of June
while the remainder will pull out in
July when United Nations
peacekeeping forces are expected
to be fully deployed in the DRC.
Despite widespread opposition at
home, Mugabe has deployed
11 000 troops, a third of the
Zimbabwean army, to the
22-month- old war to support
President Laurent Kabila against a
Tutsi-led rebellion backed by
Uganda and Rwanda. Zimbabwe's
costly involvement in the conflict,
which some analysts say has
carried a price tag of hundreds of
millions of dollars, has added to
the woes of the country's
Manhunt for killers of
Zim farmer launched
CRIS CHINAKA, Harare | Thursday 2.40pm.
ZIMBABWEAN police launched a manhunt on Thursday for
the killer of a fifth white farmer shot dead in a gun battle with
intruders on his farm.
Tony Oates was asleep in his farmhouse northwest of Harare
when two intruders cut the burglar bars in the bedroom where
he was sleeping on Wednesday night.
"He [Oates] shot at the intruders and killed one of them, but he
was also shot and died," a spokeswoman for the Commercial
Farmers' Union said, adding that it appears to be a criminal act
unconnected with recent white farm invasions.
Oates's wife was watching television in another part of the
house when the shooting occurred. She was slightly injured
after a brief scuffle with the remaining attacker and fled the
The incident occurred on the Shelton farm in the Trelawney
district. It was not among the hundreds of white-owned farms
occupied by self-styled war veterans since February.
"Police are investigating. We have launched a manhunt. We
believe it is a criminal act," said Chief Superintendent Wayne
Oates, in his 60s, is the fifth white farmer to die since liberation
war veterans and supporters of President Robert Mugabe
began invading more than a thousand white-owned commercial
farms in February, demanding land they say was stolen during
the British colonial era.
About 200 veterans protested outside the British High
Commission in Harare on Thursday, waving placards for
Mugabe's Zanu-PF ruling party and chanting anti-British
slogans, including "Peter Hain, Robin Cook. Stop lying about
- 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.