Zimbabwe News Online (8) - 10/13/97

Zimbabwe News Online (8) - 10/13/97


Edition #8 13 October 1997

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In this edition:




1. Banana applies for permanent stay of prosecution

2. Police form cross-border organisation

3. Farms workers strike

4. Children suffer imprisonment along with mothers

5. Tender requirements marginalise black-owned companies

6. More compensation fund plundering revealed

7. Landmines still active 20 years on

8. Zimbabwe scoops best agency award

9. Violence at University of Zimbabwe

10. Embassy lists reputable car dealers


When the liberation war ended in 1979 and Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, Jakarasiand his family from Gutu district in southern Zimbabwe, had reason to celebrate.

They were happy not only because the immense suffering caused by the war had come to an end, but also because they believed the advent of independence would bring their desperation for land to farm on to an end. Jarasi's family is one of the many thousands of families in desperate need of land. Not only are these families crowded together, they also occupy the poorest land in regions which receive very little rainfall.

The need to wrestle back land from the white colonial settlers was the major cause of Zimbabwe's armed struggle against the white regime of Ian Douglas Smith, and indeed the issue of land redistribution was top of the list with all political parties contesting Zimbabwe's first democratic elections in 1980.

The Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which won the elections, reiterated on ascending to power that its first priority would be the redistribution of land to the landless majority. Today, 17 years after independence, the majority of the land hungry peasants are still without land and many ask why.

For the first 10 years of independence, the government's hands were partially tied by the Lancaster House Agreement which stipulated that land for resettlement could only be acquired on a willing-seller willing-buyer basis. Although the British government donated some money for the acquisition of land for resettlement, very few of the white farmers were willing to part with their land.

Seven years have passed since that agreement expired, but the land question is still unresolved and has instead become more complicated than it was after independence. The reality of the situation today is that the ruling class and elite have joined the settlers in accumulating huge tracts of land.

Theologian, Sebastian Bakare, in his book My Right To Land states: "The material deprivation of the majority of the underprivileged, regrettably, is not only a colonial legacy but continues to be a perennial problem many years after political independence. During the colonial era, settlers and their regimes were blamed for dispossession but today they have been joined by the elite in dispossessing the peasantry."

In 1994, the deep rooted corruption within government circles was unearthed by a local newspaper, The Daily Gazette, which discovered that scores of farms which had been compulsorily designated by government from white commercial farmers, ostensibly for resettlement of landless peasant farmers, had actually been occupied by government ministers and other high-ranking government and ruling party officials. What made the situation even more embarrassing was that some farms which had been highly productive before their designation had been reduced to unproductive bush, used as weekend retreats by the ruling elite.

To date, only just over 50 000 families have been resettled out of nearly half a million. Worse still, most of these resettlement schemes have not been successful because government has not been able to provide basic infrastructure such as roads and dams for irrigation. Also, because of lack of collateral, most of those resettled have not been able to secure loans to enable them to purchase farm implements and other necessities.

In August this year, the government announced that it had, through its land acquisition committees, identified 1 772 farms with a total of 4,6 million hectares for resettlement. President Mugabe has said priority in resettlement would be given to ex-combatants in recognition of their sacrifice during the liberation struggle. However, this has not gone down well with the landless peasants, some of whom lost children during the war.

President Mugabe also promised farms would be speedily acquired and people resettled quickly. However, as Barney Kahari, a trade unionist said:"If they have not been able to achieve much over the past 17 years, only a miracle would see this much land being redistributed in a short period of time."

Many people are also wondering to whom the land will be redistributed. Professor Sam Moyo points out in his book, The Land Question in Zimbabwe, that there is conflict between rural poor who need land for survival and the emerging group of black capitalists who want a share in large-scale commercial farming and are obtaining land in the guise of indigenisation of the economy.

Most of the rhetoric, Moyo says, is restricted to counting the amount of land redistributed to black people, but does not pay much attention to which black people and what they want the land for. He also points out that most of the land hungry peasants whose lives are solely dependant on the soil, have been resettled in poor agro-ecological regions where they have little chance of prospering.

Dr Amos Kambudzi, Political Science Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, says it must be acknowledged that the government and other interested institutions such as the Church and non-governmental organisations in Zimbabwe, have failed to deliver in respect of the land issue."One can only hope that the country will have some new social forces that will resuscitate the land issue. Such a resuscitation is vital to prevaricate war or conflict and racial tension in this country," says Dr Kambudzi.

Dr Bakare suggests that Parliament should come up with legislation, that land over and above a certain given hectrage per individual, whether being utilised or not, should be heavily taxed. He believes this will make those holding on to large pieces of land relinquish it. However, many analysts doubt if such legislation will be passed by the present parliament which is dominated by the ruling party, because it is the ruling class which now holds large tracts of land at the expense of the majority.

"If the land reform programme is to succeed, the ruling elite and the settlers have to shed their greed, and if they fail to do that, the programme will remain mere political rhetoric and the landless majority will continue to be impoverished and even slip into greater poverty," says Dr Bakare in his book.

Political analysts have warned that Zimbabwe is sitting on a time bomb as far as the land issue is concerned, and that if the problem is not quickly resolved, the bomb will one day explode, with consequences too ghastly to contemplate.

1.Banana applies for permanent stay of prosecution

A High Court Judge has referred an application by former state president Canaan Banana (62), for a permanent stay of prosecution on charges of sodomy and indecent assault, to the Supreme Court.

Banana's defence, arguing that adverse pre-trial publicity, objectionable statements in the outline of charges and a refusal by the prosecution to supply some documents to the defence, deprived Banana of his constitutional right to a fair trial.

However, although he referred the matter to the Supreme Court, Justice Blackie said he believed the former president would still get a fair trial despite the wide publicity the case has attracted. Justice Blackie said the only reason why he referred the case to the Supreme Court was that he believed whatever decision he would have made, either the defence or the prosecution would have appealed to the Supreme Court. He said his decision was, therefore, in the interest of having the case dealt with as soon as possible.

Each time Banana has appeared in court, both local and foreign journalists have jostled to take pictures, and his court appearances have made front page headlines. The prosecution has described the pre-trial publicity as fair, taking into account the fact that Banana was a public figure who would continue living on taxpayer's money until he dies.

2.Police form cross-border organisation

Twelve Southern African countries have signed an agreement which will enable their police forces to pursue criminals into any of the member countries without being impeded by bureaucratic procedures normally encountered on crossing frontiers.

Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa,Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe have, under the agreement, formed the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation, which effectively brings down barriers which used to impede cross-border policing, and creates an atmosphere conducive to the eradication of transnational criminal activities.

Under the agreement, police teams will get prompt entry permission without the need for visas from the country where the suspect has taken refuge, and once inside the host country, will be assigned a local police officer to assist them in tracking down the fugitive.

At a meeting held in Harare this week, police chiefs from the region said they are now planning an extensive mop-up operation to cleanse the region of criminals on wanted lists, most of whom are linked to cross-border criminal activities such as car theft, drug peddling and money laundering, and are currently hiding in neighbouring countries.

Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister, Dumiso Dabengwa, has said dockets which had been closed on the grounds that the suspects could not be located will now be re-opened.

3.Farms workers strike

Farm workers in Zimbabwe went on strike at the beginning of last week, sending the price of vegetables and other farm commodities sky-rocketing.

The farm workers are demanding a salary increase of 135 percent, back-dated to July this year. Just two days after the beginning of the strike, the price of fruit and vegetables had more than doubled, prompting an outcry by consumers for farmers to look seriously into their workers' grievances.

Farm workers in Zimbabwe on average earn only about US$38 a month, and the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Morgan Tsvangirai, has called on farmers, most of whom are millionaires, to give their workers wages which are proportional to work.

4. Children suffer imprisonment along with mothers

Close to 100 children, aged between one and four years, live behind bars together with their convicted mothers in Zimbabwe's jails where there are acute shortages of food, clothing and other basic necessities.

According to a report carried by The Sunday Mail the prisons hold 1 500 inmates above their carrying capacity of 16 000. Deputy Officer Commanding Prisons, Chief Superintendent Felix Muzawazi confirmed in an interview that children in prison with their mothers were suffering untold hardships, including psychological trauma. He also confirmed that there is a serious shortage of baby cereals and milk in the prisons.

TheZimbabwe's Prison Act prohibits the separation of the child from its mother until weaned, and this is the main reason why infants are in jail with their convicted mothers. Mothers interviewed at Chikurubi prison said they preferred having their children with them, but appealed to well wishers for the food, clothing and other necessities for their babies.

5.Tender requirements marginalise black-owned companies

The Indigenous Business Development Centre (IBDC) has complained to government that the tender requirements of two major parastatals are prohibitive to indigenous business people, resulting in black-owned companies being marginalised.

In a statement, the IBDC, a body which seeks to address economic imbalances inherited from the colonial era, through black empowerment, said the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and the Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC) demanded bid bonds of up to 10 percent of the purchase price as security, an amount most indigenous business people could not afford.

A company should also employ at least 150 people to qualify for the tender, a figure IBDC president, Ben Mucheche said was too high considering the fact that most black-owned companies were actually struggling to survive under the harsh economic conditions ushered in by the Structural Adjustment Programme.

6.More compensation fund plundering revealed

More cases of the plundering of Zimbabwe's War Victims Compensation Fund were revealed on Tuesday last week to the Chidyausiku Commission of Inquiry which was set up by President Mugabe to investigate massive fraud connected with the fund.

Two ex-combatants fraudulently collected more than a million dollars between them through misrepresentation and the use of different names. Alveria Kufeketa, a medical assistant at a government hospital, collected a total of Z$518 000 using different names. Her combined disability claim totalled 146 percent, prompting Justice Chidyausiku to warn her of possible prosecution for defrauding the government.

Another ex-combatant, Colonel Lazarus Gutu who is commander of the Presidential Guard got Z$515 000 in three tranches with claims submitted through 1995 and 1996. A fourth claim of a 20 percent disability is still pending and its value has not yet been ascertained. This would have put his total disability at 103 percent.

The inquiry into the misappropriation of about Z$450 million is continuing.

7.Landmines still active 20 years on

Landmines planted during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle, which ended almost 20 years ago, are still active, and a man was badly injured last Monday when he stepped on an anti-personnel mine in Mount Darwin close to the Zimbabwe/Mozambique border.

Meanwhile, the Inter-Regional Meeting of Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa has urged all governments in the region and the world at large to ban the use of and trade in landmines, and to sign the Ottawa Treaty in December. The treaty seeks an international ban on the trade and use of landmines.

8.Zimbabwe scoops best agency award

Zimbabwe's investment promotion agency, the Zimbabwe Investment Centre (ZIC), has won this year's award for the best investment promotion agency in Africa and the Middle East.

The award, jointly run by the Corporate Location of London and Coopers and Lybrand, selects winners on the basis of approved projects, implementation rates of the projects and the size of the organisation in relation to its budgets. The award was presented to ZIC in Chicago, USA. 9.Violence at University of Zimbabwe

Fights broke out last week on the campus of the University of Zimbabwe and three students were seriously injured.The fights, with knives and broken beer bottles, were between Ndebele and Shona-speaking students.

The violence was allegedly triggered by Student Executive Council elections during which votes were generally cast along tribal lines. The Shonas, who are the majority, won most of the seats on the council, and this did not go down well with the Ndebeles, resulting in the clashes.

10. Embassy lists reputable car dealers

Zimbabwe's Embassy in Japan has released a list of reputable Japanese used car dealers to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe following an increase in the number of people falling victim to unscrupulous used car dealers.

More than 100 Zimbabweans have sought assistance from the Zimbabwe Embassy in Tokyo after cars they had purchased were never delivered. However, in a typical case of 'man bites dog' some Japanese used car dealers are reported to have been conned by some bogus African importers who conduct business smoothly during the first few transactions, and then vanish after securing, but before paying for millions worth of used cars.

Some Japanese used car dealers are reported to have withdrawn from African markets after numerous incidents in which they were conned out of hundreds of vehicles.


From: (Africa_news Network) Date: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 17:39:11 +0200 Subject: ZIMBABWE NEWS ONLINE #8 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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