WHILE GLOBAL leaders HAVE DECLARED that free and fair democratic elections were no longer possible in Zimbabwe after Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the presidential election run-off scheduled for 27 June, President Thabo Mbeki remained hopeful that political leaders there could still work together to find solutions to the country’s challenges. The president was speaking in Nelspruit during a recent presidential imbizo. His stance is in spite of reports of hundreds of lives that have been lost because of a violent intimidation campaign perpetrated by Mugabe’s militia. Meanwhile, South Africa’s Foreign Affairs deputy minister Aziz Pahad defended the president’s quiet diplomacy. “It is not in our power to say anything to the Zimbabweans about the processes or what form of government they must have at what stage,” he said. – Staff reporter
Zim farming needs corporate cash
The future of commercial farming in Zimbabwe will probably be determined by the possible introduction of large foreign companies with the expertise and capital to jump-start the failing country’s economic recovery. “If such companies are not invited and encouraged to help, Zimbabweans could face a total collapse of food production,” said Dr Jan du Plessis of Intersearch, a strategic management and research consultancy. “A few bags of donated maize and a successful presidential election will not solve Zimbabwe’s problems. Land reform has removed the expertise and skills from agriculture. No election can replace them,” he said. – Roelof Bezuidenhout
Spiralling inflation and auctions
THE SELLING OF CATTLE ON AUCTIONS has become risky. The Southern African Commercial Farmers’ Alliance reports one of its Zimbabwean members recently had to wait a week after an auction before he was paid by the auctioneer. When he received his cheque, he managed to withdraw the cash from his bank account immediately and rushed it off to the currency peddlers, but by then it had lost most of its value and only realised about R1 333 per fat steer. Botswana producers would have got P4 500 (R5 350) for the same animal and in Namibia, it would have fetched just over 000. – Staff reporter
From bad to abominable
With only days to go before presidential election run-off in Zimbabwe, the candidate for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, announced his withdrawal. At the time of going to print, he was in hiding at the Dutch embassy in Harare as he feared for his life. Shortly after the 29 March election it was clear that Tsvangirai’s party had won the majority of seats in parliament.
He was quick to claim he had also won the presidential race, but after initially refusing to announce the outcome, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared that Tsvangirai did not achieve the majority required for a first-round victory (47,9% to Mugabe’s 43,2%). A certain victory? The run-off election was scheduled for 27 June and at the time, a victory for Tsvangirai seemed certain.
Even one of Mugabe’s former allies, politician Edgar Tekere, said there was no way Mugabe could win the run-off. He encouraged Tsvangirai to “soldier on” despite threats from Mugabe’s Zanu PF militia and claim victory in the June election. But in the three months leading up to the run-off, the military junta supporting Mugabe seized control of the country and Mugabe made clear his intentions to maintain his rule with military force, regardless of the outcome of an election.
Politicians and political analysts from all over the world agreed that even if an election took place on 27 June, in no way would it be free and fair. Atrocities and torture One Zimbabwean farmer summarised the real situation in the following report, sent to Farmer’s Weekly via the African Commercial Farmers’ Alliance: “It seems that hell hath no fury like a revolutionary party scorned and the heavy preponderance of atrocities recorded is concentrated in Mashonaland East. This is the heartland of Zanu-PF’s prior support base and they are wreaking horrific vengeance on what were the reliable party faithful who have turned against them.
“That people quite normal a few weeks ago can suddenly turn into callous monsters and commit atrocities as unspeakable, if not worse, than those which took place in Sierra Leone and Liberia during their civil wars, surely says something very distressing about the make-up of us human beings. People have had their limbs cut off ‘short sleeves’, ‘long sleeves’, ‘short trousers’ and ‘long trousers’ because a hand was used to mark an ‘X’ incorrectly.
They have had chemicals poured into wounds caused by beatings which rot the flesh away to the bone and also poison the victims. “The families of opposition officials have been abducted, tortured and killed. Some have been so badly mutilated, their families can only identify their loved ones by the clothes they wear.” Intimidation continues The Southern African Commercial Farmers’ Alliance reports that Matabeleland has by and large escaped these atrocities, but said that meetings were being called where it is made abundantly clear to those attending that there will be catastrophic consequences should the vote go the same way as in the previous election. “People are gathered together in the lowveld into ‘re-education’ centres and owners of game properties in the vicinity have their animals extorted from them to feed the unfortunate scholars,” said the alliance.
“Closer to Bulawayo, people are presenting themselves at game properties with official letters from rural district councils demanding meat to feed smaller re-education centres.” – Jasper Raats