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Zim news brief

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Zimbabwe minister fingers white farmers Harare | Thursday ZIMBABWE Home Minister John Nkomo said this week that white farmers and not pro-government war
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 9, 2001
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      Zimbabwe minister fingers
      white farmers

      Harare | Thursday

      ZIMBABWE Home Minister John Nkomo said this week that
      white farmers and not pro-government war veterans are behind the
      recent upsurge in violence in the countryside.
      "No war veterans have been causing any problems on the farms,"
      Nkomo said late on Wednesday.
      "It is true the farmers have been attacking properly and legally
      resettled farmers," he said.
      Militant veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war have for the
      last 18 months spearheaded the forcible invasions of white-owned
      farms, and have been closely tied to the political violence that has
      wracked the southern African nation, according to repeated
      reports by rights groups and international observers.
      Nkomo insisted that only a criminal element was behind any
      violence tied to the occupiers, and he said authorities had dealt
      with those criminals.
      "The public is being treated to a lot of propaganda, negative
      publicity, and we understand that it is a political gimmick," he
      said.
      But the farm violence has had a strong political colouring, and has
      been closely linked to the intimidation of opposition supporters.
      At least 34 people died in political violence ahead of last year's
      parliamentary elections, while rights groups say 19,000 were
      tortured.
      Nkomo was interviewed on state television hours after a judge in
      the northern town of Chinhoyi delayed a hearing for 21 white
      farmers accused of attacking occupiers on a farm, citing security
      concerns at the courtroom.
      The Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said the clashes began
      after occupiers barricaded a farmer inside his home outside
      Chinhoyi, 100km northwest of Harare, and his neighbours came
      to help.
      Police said the farmers attacked the occupiers without
      provocation.
      Magistrate Godfrey Gwaka remanded the high-profile case to
      Thursday and ordered the 21 farmers held overnight.
      The official Ziana news agency said Gwaka was afraid that people
      at the courthouse in the northern town of Chinhoyi were likely to
      get violent, especially as it was almost dark when the farmers
      appeared.
      Independent and foreign journalists were not able to enter the
      courthouse, as militant youths, identified by residents in Chinhoyi
      as supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, chased
      them away.
      Late Monday an eighth white farmer died after suffering an axe
      blow to the head in his home on Friday in central Zimbabwe. -
      AFP
    • Christine Chumbler
      No Commonwealth ban for Mugabe Many white farmers have fled the violence Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe cannot be barred from the Commonwealth Heads of
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 21, 2001
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        No Commonwealth ban
        for Mugabe

        Many white farmers have fled the violence
        Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe cannot
        be barred from the Commonwealth Heads of
        Government Meeting in October, despite
        internal and overseas calls to do so, says the
        Australian Government.

        Politicians and Zimbabwean exiles have called
        for Mr Mugabe to be refused entry because of
        political violence in Zimbabwe.

        Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer
        said that, while he understood the anger about
        the situation in Zimbabwe, Australia was
        obliged to accept every leader at the
        three-day conference taking place in Brisbane.

        He added that banning people and refusing to
        talk to them was not necessarily the most
        constructive approach.

        Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he
        did not agree with the call to ban Mr Mugabe.

        He said the Commonwealth leaders should use
        their influence to make a difference to the way
        Zimbabwe was ruled.

        Taking flight

        With Zimbabwe in political and economic crisis,
        those who can afford it have been leaving
        Zimbabwe for good on flights.

        But for many ordinary
        Zimbabweans, who are
        worse off now than at
        any time since
        independence, they are
        increasingly trying their
        luck heading into South
        Africa.

        About 50,000 have
        been sent back in the
        past year after
        crossing the border
        illegally.

        Our correspondent
        says that many of Zimbabwe's young educated
        generation, the country's future, have to be
        forced back to a homeland they do not want
        to be in

        Farmers

        Meanwhile, the High Court in Zimbabwe
        granted bail on Monday to 21 white farmers
        who have been held for two weeks, accused of
        assaulting landless black squatters.

        They are expected to
        be released on
        Tuesday.

        However, Judge Justice
        Rita Makarau said the
        bail had been granted
        on condition that 20 of
        the farmers did not
        return to their home
        province for the next
        four weeks.

        They also had to surrender their passports to
        the authorities.

        The decision came as a judge, widely seen as
        a government supporter, was confirmed as
        Zimbabwe's new Supreme Court Chief Justice.

        A BBC correspondent says the move is an
        indication that President Mugabe's hold over
        the judiciary is tightening.

        Currency

        Meanwhile, in a further blow to Zimbabwe's
        ailing economy, international airlines say they
        will no longer take payments in local currency.

        Major airlines like British Airways, Air France
        and Alitalia say the Zimbabwean dollar is
        hugely overvalued.

        The official exchange rate for $1 is Z$55, while
        the black market is pegged at Z$300.

        The decision is the latest indication of just
        how much Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed
        and is likely to hit Zimbabwe's tourist industry
        particularly hard.
      • Christine Chumbler
        Mugabe told to leave bodyguards at home London, Harare | Wednesday ZIMBABWE will be allowed to attend next month s Commonwealth summit in Australia, despite
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 5, 2001
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          Mugabe told to leave
          bodyguards at home

          London, Harare | Wednesday

          ZIMBABWE will be allowed to attend next month's
          Commonwealth summit in Australia, despite concerns about the
          "harassment" of its people, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander
          Downer said on Tuesday.
          Concluding a two-day meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial
          Action Group in London, ministers voiced their concerns that the
          situation under President Robert Mugabe - widely blamed for
          political violence against white farmers - had not improved.
          "The problems in Zimbabwe simply cannot be ignored by the
          Commonwealth," said Downer. "The harassment and acts of
          violence are a matter of enormous concern in our country."
          Yet unlike Pakistan, barred from attending the Commonwealth
          Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane, the African nation will
          be allowed to attend, although only after two further meetings to
          review the violence that is blighting the former British colony.
          The ministerial group was established by Commonwealth Heads
          of Government in 1995 to deal with serious or persistent violations
          of the Harare Commonwealth Declaration.
          The declaration, made in Zimbabwe in 1991, set down guiding
          principles for the 54 member countries of the Commonwealth,
          including: a commitment to international peace and democracy;
          equal rights for citizens regardless of sex, race, colour, creed or
          political belief; the promotion of sustainable development;
          provision of education and health care; and protection of the
          environment.
          Measures that the group can take range from quiet diplomacy and
          statements of concern to suspension from the Commonwealth.
          Reading from a prepared statement at the close of the two-day
          meeting in London Tuesday, Commonwealth Secretary-General
          Don McKinnon said Commonwealth ministers would continue to
          discuss Zimbabwe at a specially convened meeting later this
          week in Abuja, Nigeria. Developments would be reviewed at a final
          meeting immediately prior to the heads of government meeting on
          Oct. 5.
          "They (the ministers) hoped that the Abuja meeting would make
          progress towards reaching a solution which would benefit all the
          people of Zimbabwe," McKinnon said.
          Downer said the Australian government had turned down a
          request from the Zimbabwe government to bring its own armed
          security guards to the Brisbane summit.
          "We have explained that it would be entirely inappropriate for
          President Mugabe to be accompanied by armed security guards
          from Zimbabwe," Downer said. "We will provide appropriate
          security."
          During the meeting at Marlborough House in central London,
          ministers finalised their report, which will be presented to
          Commonwealth heads of government in Brisbane next month.
          Meantime, the growing number of farm workers displaced by land
          invasions in Zimbabwe has prompted agricultural groups to call for
          immediate humanitarian assistance to deal with the crisis, the
          UN's Integrated Regional Information Networks reported.
          "There's certainly a role here for international organisations, these
          people urgently need feeding programmes and shelter," Godfrey
          Magaramomba of the Farm Community Trust (FCT), a
          Harare-based NGO, said on Tuesday.
          The FCT has been trying to assist former farm labourers in
          Hwedza, 100km southeast of the capital.
          Self-styled war veterans and Zanu-PF supporters evicted about 2
          000 families from 14 commercial farms in the area two weeks
          ago.
          Magaramomba said that those evicted were now living in appalling
          conditions in makeshift camps and squatter settlements along
          main roads.
          "We've been held up from helping these people by pro-government
          provincial authorities and by war veterans on the ground," he
          added. Evicted farm workers have told FCT that after being
          labelled opposition supporters by war veterans, they are then told
          not just to leave the farms, but to leave the area completely.
          Analysts said that making large numbers of farm workers
          destitute effectively disenfranchised them.
          "Kicking people out of where they live and vote appears to be a
          new tactic aimed at diluting opposition support in rural areas,"
          one observer said. Over 2 800 commercial farms have been listed
          for compulsory acquisition. - Sapa, Irin
        • Christine Chumbler
          Socialism is... waiting in a queue for food ANDREW MELDRUN, Harare | Tuesday ZIMBABWE S president vowed yesterday to return the country s crippled economy to a
          Message 4 of 4 , Oct 16, 2001
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            Socialism is... waiting in a
            queue for food

            ANDREW MELDRUN, Harare | Tuesday

            ZIMBABWE'S president vowed yesterday to return the country's
            crippled economy to a socialist command system, telling
            businesses opposed to the move to "pack up and go".
            Robert Mugabe said his government would strictly enforce the
            price freeze on basic foods imposed last week and threatened to
            seize any companies that shut down because the new prices
            made their production unprofitable.
            "Let no one on this front expect mercy," an angry Mr Mugabe
            said. "The state will take over any businesses that are closed.
            We will reorganise them with workers, and at last that socialism
            we wanted can start again."
            "Those tired of doing business here can pack up and go," he said.
            Claims that market-driven economic principles should not be
            tampered with were "absolute nonsense".
            Zimbabwe dropped its socialist economic policies a decade after
            it gained independence in 1980. It embraced IMF and World Bank
            economic reforms. In recent years, rampant corruption, huge
            budget deficits and mismanagement have dragged the economy
            down, with hyper-inflation, 60% unemployment and a desperate
            shortage of hard currency.
            Mr Mugabe's war veterans have stormed shops to ensure they
            keep to state price controls.
            "We've heard this rhetoric before, but this time I think it is more
            serious," said a white business owner. "The war veterans have
            destroyed large scale farming. Now they want to destroy
            industry."
            "He can call it socialism, but we know it will be shortages and
            long queues," said a black worker, who did not want to be named.
            "Last week we could not afford bread. This week we cannot get
            bread."
            Trying to regain support ahead of the presidential elections early
            next year, Mr Mugabe last Friday ordered price cuts of between
            5% and 20% on maize meal, bread, meat, vegetable and cooking
            oil, milk, salt and soap.
            Yesterday the supermarket shelves were bare for all the
            price-controlled items. Bakeries said they were losing money at
            the set prices, and reduced deliveries of bread.
            A Harare bakery chain put 200 of its workers on shorter working
            hours as production was cut.
            Adding to Zimbabwe's woes is the decision by South Africa -
            whose president opposes Mr Mugabe's policies - to expel 20 000
            Zimbabweans working there as farm labourers. The repatriations
            start today. - The Guardian
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