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Home | ZimCrisis#119 -- Reports from Eddie Cross

Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2000 10:55:12 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#119 -- Reports from Eddie Cross

Hi everyone,

Six of Eddie Cross' recent messages. I'm a little disappointed to see him using American spelling for many words! Otherwise very readable.


The Zimbabwe Economy - a Weekly Brief from the Movement for Democratic Change - 21st July 2000.

Well now we know its true - on Monday the Ministry of Finance issued a bulletin in which it revealed for the first time that they had "reviewed" the Millenium Budget six weeks into the new financial year. In doing so they revised expenditure upwards from Z$99 billion to Z$142 billion!

MDC said it first - 4 months ago we said that Government expenditure was going over Z$160 billion in the year 2000 and that this was due to debt servicing and our own estimates of new expenditures that had not been budgeted in the original budget exercise. Our team was regarded as being alarmist and of making statements that were purely political in character. Now we know that the Ministry of Finance and the government deliberately withheld this new information from Parliament, from the international community and from the Zimbabwe public - until the elections were over.

The one thing you must never do is lie to your Bankers - and Zimbabwe has lied over and over again to the IMF and the World Bank in whose hands our economic future lies in the short term. Herbert Murerwa lied over the cost of the war in the DRC - understating expenditures by 10 times - stating that it was costing us about US$3 million a month when in fact all other estimates put the total at about US$1,3 million a day. They lied over the extent of the budget deficit in the Millenium Budget and in the "Millenium Economic Recovery Plan". Now President Mugabe forecasts in his opening of Parliament speech in Harare on the 20th of July, that the deficit will not exceed 5 per cent of GDP in the year 2000. When will they ever learn?

The President's speech contained nothing of substance - no word on the state of the economy apart from a couple of platitudes and false statements, nothing on the rule of law and the current state of lawlessness in the country, nothing about the economic crisis and the collapse of the economy. Even the remarks about fuel shortages and other critical problems were blamed on others - thank goodness he did not repeat his statement that the farmers were responsible for the fuel shortages because they were hoarding fuel.

The difference between this Parliament and the last, is that when Ministers or the President himself stands up and makes such statements they will now be greeted with derision and laughter. Gone are the days when he could rely on the praise singers to ensure that when he spoke, his words were taken as gospel and written down to be repeated in reverential tone at every opportunity.

We stick to our principles on the fundamentals in the economy - actual government expenditure well over Z$162 billion, an associated budget deficit of over 20 per cent of GDP is certain, domestic debt of Z$120 billion and rising at Z$2 billion a week. Total foreign earnings declining by 50 per cent over last year and GDP falling by 10 per cent or more this year. Inflation is expected to top out at over 85 per cent by December and real incomes to fall dramatically. Employment to bottom out at the lowest level as a percentage of our total population in 80 years. What a record for the ruling party, what a tragedy for Zimbabwe and the southern African region.

We have waited with baited breath to see some sign that the government will now get down to work and start to tackle the essential issues. These we see as being: -

1. The restoration of the rule of law - including upholding the constitution, protecting citizens rights and respecting property and other economic rights.

2. The adoption of a credible economic recovery plan which will be acceptable to our Bankers and will solve the more pressing immediate problems and hopefully halt the economic decline taking place.

3. Going back to a legal, transparent and sustainable basis for land reform which will empower rural people, distribute economic assets more equitably and secure our agricultural industries future.

So far we are disappointed - no sign whatsoever that these matters are to be tackled in a constructive manner. Instead we have statements like the one at the opening of Parliament - a significant one as it is supposed to be written by government officials and Ministers to set the legislative agenda for the new Parliament. Then we have the continued talk about the MERP - as if this statement had any credibility,and Ministers still talk about the continuation of the state of lawlessness on the farms, the virtual suspension of the constitution and continued instructions to the Police not to protect citizens rights as enshrined in the constitution and the law.

On top of that we have talk of price controls, the Zimbabwe dollar is still pegged at an artificial value and there is talk of interest rate pegging by the Reserve Bank. When will it all end?

The new Cabinet has some good people in it - but so did the outgoing Cabinet. We lose some, gain some, the problem with the new "good guys" is that they have no political power base and cannot stand up to the President when it comes to making the tough decisions. Chinamasa will remain a doormat for the President on legal matters, Simba Makoni and Nkosanna Moyo will likewise be used and abused and then tossed out the door. The inclusion of these technocrats in the Cabinet does not signal a change of heart - just a new set of sacrificial lambs to take the place of those who have lost.

I personally will be sorry to see Dumiso Dabengwa go into retirement - he was an effective Minister and did not agree with all that was going on - even had the courage to say he was quitting when the soccer debacle took place in Harare. He will be better off back on the farm.

Eddie Cross
Secretary for Economic Affairs, MDC.


The past week has been dominated by two main events ­ the opening of Parliament and the farm invasions. In addition we concluded our submission of legal challenges to over 30 of the Zanu PF electoral "victories" by the 26th of July. The latter launches our legal campaign of attrition against the way in which the government conducted itself during the elections. Batteries of legal teams will take up the cudgels on behalf of defeated MDC candidates using three basic grounds ­ demand for a recount, demand for a re-run based on the way the elections were actually conducted and finally direct challenges to the candidacy of the Zanu PF representative. The first should come through in August, the second by the year-end and the last will take months as each case will involve an actual trial.

These legal challenges will represent the most extensive and detailed examination of an election in Africa and could result in a significant shift in the balance of power in the new Parliament. They will also bring to the fore the whole sorry story of the orchestrated violence and intimidation directed at the MDC in the past campaign. This will keep the media busy and will also serve to keep the validity of the election result under constant review. Not good news for the government at all.

Should our parliamentary team launch a second attack ­ this time on the Presidents handling of the elections? His failure to uphold and protect the constitution, his failure to protect the lives and property of ordinary citizens and his espousal of a campaign of terror against his political opposition is all justification for such a move. We know full well that such a maneuver cannot succeed as we need a two thirds majority to carry the motion of no confidence that the process leads to, but we have the capacity to expose Mugabe for what he has become and this will be very embarrassing for him.

The opening of Parliament was a singular occasion ­ about 1000 invited guests and some 10 000 uninvited guests ­ 80 per cent MDC. The uninvited sang songs ­ many of them denigrating the President and calling for him to retire while attacking "rotten Zanu". The invited showed their hands in the now famous "chissa palma" salute and called for "change" ­ it was quite different to past ceremonial occasions. The President was furious as was his good wife who scowered at the uninvited who were clearly in charge outside the building. Our own team were very dignified ­ all wearing black arm bands to signify their mourning for the violence and death that had proceeded their election. They went on to boycott the usual State banquet that followed the opening of Parliament saying that they could not "wine and dine" while the people they were representing suffered. The banquet was cancelled as a result.

If this is anything to go by, Parliament is going to be "fun" ­ reserve your seats in the gallery now!! The MDC team spent the weekend in Kadoma working through its agenda for the first session, which starts on the 1st of August. Every aspect of government will come under our scrutiny. I was reminded today of a famous saying by Didymus Mutasa last year in Parliament where he remarked "your (the Members of Parliament) job is not to raise issues but simply to vote for the matters we put in front of you". We have news for him, those days are over.

As for the farm invasions these escalated rapidly in the past two weeks despite the opposition of key members of government, including at least one Vice President. The Zanu thugs were all out in strength and despite the fact that the farmers co-operated fully with the government in identifying and clearing the farms for occupation, the threats and violence actually escalated. Farmers were threatened, their property vandalized and their staff beaten. Several farmers were also beaten and on Sunday another was beaten to death in his home, motive and assailants unknown.

This resulted in a rapid build up of frustration and anger in the community. The police maintained their "no interference" stance and stood by as ordinary citizens had their rights trampled on and in one case a farmer was forced to "compensate" the thugs with a substantial payment in cash for the accidental destruction of a shack built illegally on the farm. Eventually the CFU was forced to act ­ they took legal action on Monday and it was expected that the hearings would take place this week. They also reinstated their action against the leaders of the War Veterans for contempt of court and no doubt this time they will be convicted ­ then what ­ will the Police execute the arrest and effect the detention notice, or will they ignore the Courts injunctions?

In addition a number of people simply said enough is enough ­ and a national stay away or work stoppage has started to gain momentum. We expect that by Monday it will have spread throughout the country and I hope it will be very effective ­ the call is to stop work for three days. If it is effective ­ it will put pressure on the government in advance of critical talks with the IMF and World Bank. It will also serve to give notice to Mr Mugabe and his thugs that the country at large is nearing the end of its very considerable patience. Let's pray that it is peaceful and that the government does not over react to what is, after all, a spontaneous action by civil society at large.

On the domestic front the economic melt down continues. Diesel has been unobtainable for three weeks now, paraffin is also very difficult to find and as this is the major source of heating for cooking, this is a real problem for the poor ­ so they are forced to walk to work in many cases and have to do so on cold food. Job losses are accelerating as mines and farms close down and industrial firms cut back to reduce output. Imports are scarce and very expensive and foreign exchange is almost impossible to come by. It's terrible to visit the high density housing areas and to see the very real poverty and obvious collapse of living standards in the cities. I stand astonished at the patience and discipline of our people ­ but for how long?

Eddie Cross
26th July 2000


It's nearly impossible to tell who started the call for the National Strike, but all week it has gained momentum ending on Friday and Saturday with the ZCTU (Labour Unions) and the MDC leadership meeting to agree on supporting the action. As Gibson said on Saturday this is not about the land invasions ­ this is about the restoration of the rule of law in our society. People are fed up with being harassed; beaten and threatened by various elements that only have one thing in common; they are thugs working for Zanu PF and are engaged in an illegal asset grab on a massive scale and want to perpetuate the rule of Zanu PF.

Lets look at all the different ways in which the rule of law has been subverted in this country in the past 5 months: -

1.. The whole land grab exercise in the guise of "land reform" is illegal. It ignores the right to private property and is indiscriminate in its application ­ affecting all land owners in the farming districts even in cases where the investment has been after independence and conducted after certificates of "no interest" had been secured from government. Less well known but equally threatening are threats to take commercial and industrial and even mining properties over by force. This has happened but on a much smaller scale than in the agricultural sector.

2.. Then there are the associated threats and violence against the individuals who live and work on these commercial and farm properties. This has involved murders, rape, beatings and verbal abuse on a huge scale. Literally thousands have been the targets of these acts carried out by a variety of individuals and groups including elements of state security agencies, the army, the police and Zanu PF officials as well as a small but vociferous group of War Veterans and unemployed thugs employed to reinforce the effort. In many cases the identity of these perpetrators are well known but in most cases they remain at large and the Police are not attempting to either apprehend or to prosecute the individuals involved.

3.. Incredibly, state agencies such as hospitals and clinics are refusing to treat many of those caught up in the violence who in the main are being treated in private facilities at great cost to themselves and the agencies who are trying to help (such as Amani Trust). In addition the Police, who have such a proud tradition and reputation, have been instructed not to interfere when these acts are being perpetrated on a "political" basis. When violence, rape and murder become "political acts" what does that say about the activity itself?

4.. The state is using public resources to support Zanu PF activity on a huge scale ­ the two French built helicopters that Mugabe uses to fly around the country each cost over US$30 million. In our money that is about one third of the total cost of our annual health budget. They are very expensive to maintain and operate and yet the President uses them for party political activity on a daily basis. Ministers, who should have stepped down when they ceased to be Ministers, are still using their cars and other facilities ­ months after the event. Now we learn they are to be allowed to buy their luxury cars at prices, which represent about 10 per cent of their market value.

5.. The state budget is completely out of control. The present constitution lays down very strict criteria for state borrowings and for state expenditure. These are all being ignored and worse. The expenditures being incurred on the Congo are all illegal and this month (August) the authorized limits of government expenditure will be exhausted. Which Ministries are over their authorized budgets is not known but it is clear that the Ministry of Defence is the worst offender. The government is using an illegal overdraft at the Reserve Bank and most of its domestic borrowing in recent months have been illegal. These are constitutional violations ­ not simple violations of state regulations.

6.. The government is paying allowances to a variety of people including Chiefs and Headmen plus the War Veterans ­ all of which are unauthorized and illegal. How much money has been illegally misappropriated to support the illegal occupation of farms is not possible to calculate but look at the numbers ­ it must be huge and includes the illegal use of government transport and both cash and subsistence allowances to the gangs of thugs and squatters on the farms. Certainly the Zanu PF party does not have this kind of money and we must assume therefore that this is further illegal government expenditure.

7.. Then there are the decisions of our Courts, which are being ignored by the Attorney General and the Police and remain unexecuted. This is a direct violation of the Constitution and in most countries would be regarded as a very serious dereliction of the duties of the State. There are very real fears that orders for the arrest and detention of criminal offenders will be ignored by state agencies responsible for carrying out the orders of the Courts. This violates every principle on which a modern State is founded and sends the wrong signal to all citizens and to investors world wide. If citizens cannot expect impartial protection from the Courts against threats and actions against their legal and constitutional rights, then what? Its back to the laws of the Jungle.

8.. Then there is the issue of threats made against the lives and property of individuals who are simply exercising their rights to express a view different to those of the Zanu PF or the government. This starts with the President issuing threats against the lives of his political opponents in public ­ in fact this was done at events attended by members of the diplomatic community. This is further exacerbated by public threats by Ministers and Governors of Provinces and other "dignitaries" who are as guilty. These range from the Minister of State Security, to the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of "Justice, Legal; and Parliamentary Affairs" and the new Governor of Matebeleland North. It then extends to the new Member of Parliament for Kariba who not only threatened his opponents but also had two killed and displayed one of their bodies in public. The less public threats against lawyers and others who are representing cases against the government. It takes courage to stand up against a senior Minister who is known to have used violence in the past. As the President has said himself "we have degrees in violence".

And so we go to the only strategy we have against such tyranny ­ the withdrawal of our labour and effort. We will stay at home or go out somewhere and contemplate what we are going to do next. What do we do in the face of tyranny and the total disregard for the rule of law and the rights of the individual under these circumstances? If you are a man of violence its easy ­ but if not, the choices are much tougher. We in the MDC have reaffirmed our commitment to finding a democratic and peaceful solution to our problems despite the provocation. We will support our Courts and their courageous officers, we will use our minds and our simple tools and commitment to our country to defeat this passing threat to all that we hold dear.

Eddie Cross
30th July 2000


The Zimbabwe Economy ­ a Weekly Brief from the Movement for Democratic Change ­ 31st July

The whole question of land policy has been notched up a step or two this week. When Zanu PF recognised they were in trouble from an electoral point of view following the referendum; they embarked on a political program designed to divert attention away from the main issue which was the economy, to land. They also recognised that they were almost empty handed from a political point of view and only the land issue with all its emotive political and racial characteristics offered them any chance of retaining power. The result was the launch; some two weeks after the referendum of a campaign of violence directed at white, large-scale farmers. A mix of war veterans, unemployed people from the cities, elements from the CIO, the Army and the Police conducted this.

The theme was quite simple ­ the "land" was stolen from the indigenous Zimbabweans and would now be taken back ­ without compensation, which was a colonial responsibility and would be given to people without land. It worked, the farmers were intimidated, withdrew their support from the MDC and were persuaded to "co-operate' or else! Rural peasants and farm workers were confused by the promise of free land ­ they knew there must be a catch to that one, but they clearly understood the clenched fist of Zanu and its thugs, they had been down that road before! The result was that the opposition was virtually locked out of 60 odd constituencies and Zanu PF was able to hang on to power through this means. By all accounts President Mugabe claims full credit for this achievement.

Once the elections were over we all thought, well, now that that is behind us ­ let's hope we can get on with our lives. It was not to be and faced with a large opposition block in the House and increased hostility on the streets as well as a failing economy, Mugabe and his team actually stepped up the farm campaign. Even though the farmers co-operated at all times and even went so far as to "offer" 300 000 hectares of land to government to start a program of "accelerated land reform", the violence continued to escalate. We in the MDC had been saying to the farmers and their leadership for some time that a strategy of ‘turn over, lie on your back, and wag your tail" would only result in them getting the boot. This proved to be the case. We urged the farmers not to accept the illegal occupation of their farms by thugs and squatters. They argued that the safety of their members was their first priority. We responded by saying that so long as they allowed the farm invaders to remain on the farms, under whatever pretext, their members lives and that of their workers and families, were all under threat.

Eventually the farmers said enough is enough and decided to resume their legal challenges and to hold a farm shut down to try and force action. The courts were asked to condemn the leaders of the War Veterans, the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General and the State President for not carrying out orders by the courts that the illegal farm occupations should cease. In reaction the government said that the farmers were responsible for the crisis and they insisted that the Police should not intervene and the leaders of the farm invasions were allowed to continue their activities ­ supported clandestinely by government and Zanu PF. Calls by one Vice President and one or two Ministers went unheeded. Mugabe maintained his silence.

Now a senior Minister (Chombo) has stated that the government would now "take" 3000 farms ­ representing two thirds of all remaining farmland in commercial hands. In Zimbabwean terms that virtually means the total destruction of the commercial farming industry in Zimbabwe.

It's worth reminding ourselves of the salient economic features of such a development: - large scale commercial farmers are responsible for 50 per cent of our exports, 65 per cent of the raw materials for industry and purchase the majority of the output of industry. They employ 350 000 people (one third of all private sector employment) and must indirectly support at least 300 000 jobs in the industrial, service and distribution industries.

In the year 2000, they will produce 60 per cent of all food grains, 98 per cent of all milk and 80 per cent of all meat production. They will deliver 95 per cent of all tobacco, coffee and tea and the vast majority of sugar to local and overseas markets. They will generate 98 per cent of all horticultural production that is exported and some 60 per cent of all local consumption of fruit and vegetables. They will supply 70 per cent of all oil seeds to vegetable oils and fats producers. They also borrow about 30 per cent of all bank lending and use their land holdings as collateral. They maintain thousands of kilometers of rural roads and communications infrastructure and invest billions annually in fixed farm improvements such as housing, water and irrigation. They control 250 000 hectares of irrigation land which is the key to stability of food production in a country where we have a 40 per cent mean variation in annual rainfall ­ ten times the average for the USA.

Then there is the legal aspect ­ what rights do these citizens of Zimbabwe hold under their constitution? Are property rights important in a modern economy? What are the consequences of any wholesale threat against property rights? The answer is that land rights are enshrined in the constitution and what the government is trying to do is not only morally indefensible but is also a violation of these land owners constitutional rights. They might be the first but every business person must know that this now represents a threat against all property rights.

So now you know ­ the land invasions are a very real threat to the whole economy and the food security of Zimbabwe. They are illegal and indefensible in any sphere. They are a short term, ruthless political ploy that the old guard of the Zanu PF is using in a desperate attempt to hold onto power at whatever cost. If they succeed it will be at the expense of every citizen in southern Africa. It is estimated that the Zimbabwe crisis is costing South Africa 2 per cent of its GDP ­ the cost to Zambia and Mozambique is much higher. The long-term damage will be enormous as we lose long tern investments that will find its way to other, more stable and responsible corners of the globe. Foreigners are not impressed by "potential" they want to see stability and the rule of law pursued consistently by the ruling authorities. They will not be easily persuaded that we offer a stable and secure place for their investment if we allow this situation to continue.

So it's not just about 4000 white, commercial farmers in a small land locked country. It's about fundamental principle, the rights of ordinary citizens and investors, the rule of law and the maintenance of personal security. So what if they occupy a third of all the most fertile land in Zimbabwe - not 70 per cent as the press constantly reminds us. Who occupies the rest? What have they done with it? The fact that 80 per cent of them have bought their farms since independence and for most it represents all that they have in worldly terms must stand for something! So what if they own 12 million out of 39 million hectares of land ­ if you take out the farms owned by black Zimbabweans and the international companies, these farmers own about 8 million hectares ­ 20 per cent of all land, half of which is in arid areas unfit for small scale farming of any kind. This means we are fighting over 4 million hectares of land ­ which is productively farmed and well conserved, which is the cornerstone of an economy which was once the hope of the region and is now unable to meet even the most basic of our peoples needs. 75 per cent of all Zimbabweans now live in abject poverty ­ 50 per cent more than at independence. Incomes are down a third in a decade and life expectancy has dropped 15 years in the same period ­ one of the largest such declines in modern history.

Then finally we must not ignore the fact that two million people live on commercial farms. That their standard of living is three times the standard of living in the communal or peasant farming districts. That any land resettlement exercise conducted by this government using the mean they are currently pursuing, will displace many more people than will be settled and that incomes will decline in these areas and that abject poverty will increase. Who will look after these displaced people, who will support the social and humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousands who will lose their jobs in the economy? What will this mean in terms of fresh invasions of South Africa and Botswana by hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans displaced by the crisis? What does this mean for the AID's situation in southern Africa?

Land is not the issue ­ it's the economy, the economy, and the economy!

Eddie Cross
Secretary for Economic Affairs, MDC.


The stay away was about 80 per cent effective ­ a higher percentage in Bulawayo and slightly lower in Harare with almost all the smaller centres closing down for the day. It was also peaceful throughout the country. If I was the president I would be deeply concerned about an organisation which can close down the whole country for the day ­ and do so with such precision that they initially call for a stay away Monday to Wednesday, then Wednesday to Friday and finally, with 24 hours notice, one day ­ Wednesday. I thought the change to a one day strike was strategic and well thought out ­ just took a bit of time to get there.

However it is a moot point that the president took any notice of the event ­ he is getting used to being humiliated in public by the people in the cities. However I am sure the point was not lost on Thabo Mbeki who just happened to arrive in the city the day of the strike and could only have been impressed by the silence and the discipline of the people. It was the first truly national strike with farmers joining the urban workers in the stay away from work. It also served as a useful reminder, if one was needed that the workers of this country have run out of patience with the government and want action, not words on the issues that affect them most.

I was very proud of the ordinary people of the country heeding their leader's call to stay away and be peaceful about it on an issue like the rule of law. Where else in the world would you get the ordinary people staying away from work on such an issue ­ not prices, not wages, not other bread and butter issues, the rule of law! It was extraordinary from any perspective.

The question is, did it work? Was anyone listening? Most probably the main impact was not on the Zimbabwean government but on the president of South Africa. Here to discuss the growing crisis in Zimbabwe for the third time since the beginning of the year, Mbeki brought a powerful team that indicated that at last, they were getting serious. We had told the South Africans that Mugabe did not understand "softly, softly", if they wanted to get his attention, and more importantly, his co-operation, they had to use a pole and hit him on the head with it. In many respects it's a replay of September 1976, when the South Africans effectively executed Smith politically and paved the way for the transition of power to the black majority. Mugabe is in exactly the same place as Smith was then ­ trying to prevent the majority coming to power against the backdrop of intense international isolation, a collapsing economy and fighting a war he cannot hope to win. You could also say that the Zimbabwe crisis has now reached the same point as the Rhodesian crisis in 1976 where it threatened the interests of South Africa.

They held 5 hours of talks, and then headed back to South Africa. It was a replay of the failed talks at the Victoria Falls and no sooner had Mbeki crossed the Limpopo than Mugabe turned his back on any agreement reached and further tightened the screws on his people. The Sunday Times, a leading South African paper editorialized that "perhaps its time to get tough with Mugabe". But their front page carried a story in which they speculated that the South African leader was trying to sideline Mugabe in an attempt to get Zimbabwe back onto a sustainable track. To be frank this story was nonsense and I sincerely hope it does not represent the view of the South African government. The editorial was more on target.

What everyone has to understand in this current situation is that Mugabe wants to run for a fourth term in 2002. His party and the whole country want him to step down now to allow the process of selecting a candidate for the Zanu PF party to sponsor into the presidential election in that year. He is joined in this ambition by the old guard who are frankly terrified of the prospect of losing the election and with it the hold on power they have so meticulously pursued since 1980. For them any loss of power would mean oblivion and perhaps prosecution for corruption and/or human rights abuse.

If Mugabe gets his way and runs as the Zanu candidate in 2002, we are in for a torrid time. In a way it could be said that the campaign is already joined with Mugabe running against his only real competition, Morgan Tsvangirai. The use of the army, the police and the CIO to eliminate opposition and to intimidate everyone who might be useful to them, is clearly already underway.

This is a government that has used patronage to cement its hold on power and the strategy for 2002 is no different. Violence directed at the opposition, subversion of the players in the opposition including the independent press and the ability to offer free bounty at the expense of those who are politically unimportant. In the 2002 case it's the farmers, and in particular the white farmers, who offer the best opportunity. The land issue is not about "reform", it's a blatant asset grab, which, if they can get away with it, offers their constituency short term gains at the long term expense of every Zimbabwean. The welfare of Zimbabwe and the region does not figure on the horizon of the Zanu strategists. Quite the opposite.

An interesting development this week has been a sudden and pronounced change in editorial policy at the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group ­ how long this will be maintained is not possible to predict. Its not likely to persuade those of us who watched them totally pervert the profession of journalism during the recent campaign. The issue is why the switch? The policy towards the Daily News, which has been such a key factor in recent months, was clearly revealed this week in a plot to kill the Editor, Jeff Nyarota. This came to light when one of a team of four recruited by the CIO for the purpose decided that his heart was not in this thing and came to Jeff and confessed his role. This was confirmed by telephone conversations with a senior CIO operative, which were recorded and heard on speaker phones by the whole editorial team.

The question is how far will they go down this road? Are they willing to risk going outside the law, suspending the constitution and formalizing the suspension of the rule of law that has informally been the case in the past 5 months? My own judgement is that they will stop short of this, as it would attract the immediate wrath of other states in southern Africa. However they probably think they can get away with a lot using the tactics they have adopted in recent weeks. The decision to push the farm issue to the point where in effect they will destroy the commercial agricultural industry (certainly the white component) is perhaps on the edge of that strategy. At last the farmers have woken up to what they are dealing with and have decided to attack the issue through the only means they have left, which are the courts. If they succeed then we must wait to see if our civil service will allow themselves to be used and whether our police and army will accept actions that are in clear violation of the constitution. It's a judgement call.

Some people have already made up their minds and a friend sent me an advisory note from the City of London to clients in the City. They were very straight; Mbeki's failure to deal with Mugabe means that South Africa will shortly face similar problems to those being confronted in Zimbabwe. Their advice, withdraw any short-term investments and scale back on longer-term activity in South Africa. We live in a global village, and no one is able to get away with actions that break the invisible rules that govern financial markets. Sanctions are swift and ruthless. No politically driven prevarication there.

Eddie Cross
7th August 2000


Notes on Land


Zimbabwe was populated by migrants ­ the first migration concerned the Shona who arrived about 1200 AD from Central and West Africa. They were followed by the Ndebele who came in about 1840 and then the Ndau in the early part of the 20th century. The Shangaans, Venda and other groups (the Kalanga in the western Matebeleland area) are local migrants. The only remaining really indigenous people are the Tonga of the Zambezi valley. These were riparian settlers and lived in small riverbank communities.

When the whites arrived in numbers from about 1890 onwards, they found the Ndebele terrorizing the whole of central Africa. The Ndebele came from Natal and had originally consisted of several thousand single fighting men fleeing from the Zulu king, Shaka, following a defeat in the Transvaal. They settled in the Bulawayo area and established a raiding economy ­ taking food (grain), cattle and women from all the established regional tribes.

By the time the whites had become settled circa 1900, the Ndebele had been defeated in battle and only a small scattered population remained. They were displaced by the whites who occupied their capital and took all the land that surrounded it ­ giving the Ndebele land in the Matopos where they had fled during the war and in certain other areas and cattle under the personal direction of Cecil Rhodes. The Ndebele were not cultivators and there is little evidence of cultivation in Matebeleland before the whites settled.

The situation in the central and northern regions of Zimbabwe was very different. When the whites settled in Harare in 1896, they found the people living in terror of the annual raiding parties from the Ndebele and restricted to the granite areas where there was some protection. They are an agrarian people and cultivated extensively ­ but because of the limit on cattle and equipment ­ they tended to cultivate the areas of sandveld that were more amenable to their cultivation practices. Water was also a factor in determining the distribution of population.

When the whites arrived in 1896, there were probably less than 400 000 people in the whole country. The agricultural system of the Shona people meant that they had to have access to unlimited virgin land to maintain production. They simply burned their huts and moved when the land was exhausted ­ that is why there is so little evidence of permanent settlement.

The Ndebele did not cultivate ­ they simply raided their neighbours for food when required, they also relied on their cattle as a source of food and wealth. Land in both cultures was regarded as a "common good" with little value except as a means to live off ­ the cattle economy of the Ndebele was linked to a system which allowed only the leadership to accumulate wealth. This applied especially to the paramount chief who had to be the possessor of more wealth than any of the others ­ this was tied into the political system which was in the form of a pyramid structure with one strong man at the top. If you wanted to change the leadership ­ you had to kill the top man and then have the strength to hang on to the throne yourself.

By contrast the Shona were grouped by kinship and religion into clans who took decisions using a complex system of consensual relationships based on age, gender and kinship. They tended to group together in loose alliances for protection but did not have the strong military traditions of the Ndebele and were constantly vulnerable to their predications.

It was the massacre of the people of the South African highveld by raiding Zulu war parties in the early 1800's that paved the way for Afrikaner settlement. This was called the "interhamwe". When the whites arrived in Zimbabwe this process was well under way in Zimbabwe and the Protectorates established by Queen Victoria in Botswana and southern Zambia were both reactions to the raiding activities of the Ndebele. In Rhodesia it was the decision by the whites to restrict the Ndebele to the area south of the Shangani River (60 km from Gweru) that led to the Ndebele war ­ the first battle was on the Shangani River followed by battles in Bulawayo and Lupane. Lobengula, the Ndebele chief at that time, fled north and eventually committed suicide in Zambia across the Zambezi.

The whites settled in Mashonaland and Masvingo province mainly in areas that were not occupied. They also chose the heavy soils and areas where they could combine mining with farming. This left the sandy soil areas in the hands of the local people. In fact a major problem of the settlers was how to get the local people to leave their homes and to come and work on the mines and farms. This persisted for decades and explains why the majority of people, even today, on the commercial farms are regional migrants from Mozambique and Malawi. White settlement of the sandveld areas really only started in the post war era in 1945 when settlement schemes for men returning from the war were launched and the tobacco industry took root.

As the population of Zimbabwe grew, the demand for more land was repeated in generation after generation in the first 60 years of local history. The government of the day responded by gradually increasing the area under tribal or "communal" settlement and the last such large scale settlement was in the early 60's when some 5 million hectares of "stateland" was alienated in the Zhombe and Gokwe areas for communal settlement.

This was stopped in the mid sixties by the "Land Apportionment Act" which roughly divided up the total land resource into two main sectors of 16 million hectares each. The one category of land was called "commercial farm land" and the other "Tribal Trust Land". In the first there was freehold title and in the second title was communal under Tribal leadership. The commercial farming areas were divided into small-scale farms of about 100 hectares each and the large-scale areas into farms of about 2250 hectares. It remained in these categories until independence. Since then the commercial area has been reduced by the transfer of 3,2 million hectares to resettlement. Thus today commercial farmers own about 12.6 million hectares ­ 1,4 million in the hands of 15 000 small-scale farmers and 11,2 million hectares in the hands of about 4800 large-scale farmers. 4000 white and 800 black.

The problem that exists is that because the communal areas still use the traditional farming methods and do not have access to the virgin land they need for their shifting agricultural practices, their land is exhausted and crop yields low. As populations grow this situation becomes exacerbated and when the urban economy declines ­ the pressure on land as a source of subsistence support becomes even more vital. Given the migrant nature of regional and local labour, the communal areas are characterised by a dominance of women and children and the elderly and are over crowded and over grazed. Population and animal pressure is creating near desert conditions in many districts. A consequence is very low- income levels (estimated at US$100 per annum per capita) and dependence on money transfers from the cities and migrants in neighboring states.

When all that separates absolute rural poverty from relative prosperity is a wire fence ­ this situation becomes untenable. Incomes on commercial farms are 3 times the level of average incomes in communal areas. The gap between the small-scale farmers and their communal counterparts is even greater. By and large commercial farmland is well conserved and managed and has maintained its fertility through good land husbandry and conservative stocking rates. Overall populations pressure is 3.85 hectares per person in the communal areas and 6.30 hectares per person in the commercial farming areas.

Couple this to a political system that has depended on patronage to maintain its power base for the past 20 years and its recent almost total dependence on the rural vote, the land situation is the inevitable target. The white farmers have almost no constituency and are easy targets ­ the rhetoric strikes a cord throughout Africa and internationally. The fact that 2 million people live and work on the 4800 commercial farms is ignored, as is the plight of the hundreds of thousands of people who are displaced. Remember they are mainly descendent migrants from Mozambique and Malawi ­ "non people" in local political terms.

The land issue is therefore very complex and multifaceted. We need to resolve the issue of tenure in the communal areas, protect the agricultural production base that is the foundation of our economy and at the same time achieve greater equity in land ownership and farm production. Everyone knows and accepts that ­ the only issue is how to achieve this in a reasonable period of time. The present strategy of government on this issue brushes aside all the economic and social questions and concentrates on only one element ­ using the land issue as a means of maintaining the patronage system that has so far defended their power base in rural areas. The recent pictures of people taking up small plots of land in arid areas is hopeless testimony to the futility of current government "land reform strategies".

One irony of the present situation is that for the first time in a hundred years the rural population is in decline. Aids deaths running at over 100 000 a year coupled to high infant mortality ­ probably also Aids related and high levels of migration ­ especially to the south, are reducing the national population growth rate to near zero levels. At the same time urban populations are thought to be expanding at over 6 per cent per annum and therefore rural population must be falling ­ with an estimated 42 per cent of the national population in the cities now, and two million people on the farms, the population of the communal areas must be down to under 5 million.

The Legal and Economic Aspect

The foundation of any market driven, modern economy is the security of tenure over assets. If this cannot be guaranteed by government then the whole basis of the economy will be undermined. In a global economic system, such actions inhibit the flow of new investment into such areas and encourage the outflow of investment to more secure areas of the world. No economy is protected from such trends and Zimbabwe is no exception. By undermining these rights in Zimbabwe ­ for whatever reason, the Zimbabwe government is undermining the prospects for growth and an improved standard of life for all Zimbabweans. In fact it will probably condemn the great majority of Zimbabweans to a life of desperate poverty where the only hope is flight to a more secure and prosperous corner of the globe. The world is full of such economic refugees.

Aside from this factor, the behavior of Zimbabwe and the acceptance of this stance by regional heads of state will impact on all the countries of the region. The pictures of whites being beaten and worse, will inhibit the growth of tourism and this will further inhibit regional growth prospects. The South Africans estimate the cost to them of the Zimbabwe crisis, as 2 per cent of their GDP ­ the impact on Mozambique and Zambia must be at least 4 per cent of GDP. The long-term cost in terms of the flight of capital will be even greater and the fact that this situation reinforces the so-called "Afro pessimism" is a further element in the situation. Africans can no longer ignore these issues.

The latest development of the land saga is a statement by Border Gezi on Thursday this week that they are aiming to eliminate white farmers as a group. We have thought for some time that this was the actual political objective ­ the government does not have any economic objectives in this field except an acceptance of the fact that what they are doing will have a profound impact on the national economy and our food and water system.

This wholesale attack on the white farming community is illegal, is a direct attack on basic human rights for a significant indigenous minority who are clearly citizens in every respect and will do untold damage to the Zimbabwe economy and the region as a whole. It smacks of the attack by Idi Amin on the Ugandan Asian population in the 60's and the attacks by the Nazi party in Germany on the Jewish community in the 30's. It is a racist stance, which is totally unjustified after 20 years of independence.

The Alternative

The land strategy of Zanu PF is often misrepresented as the only way in which past grievances and inequalities can be resolved. That is not so. The present strategy will not address the problem of poverty ­ it will increase the numbers of the absolute poor and further reduce the standard of living of every Zimbabwean. The strategy will continue to inhibit investment and growth in the country and the region and will further inhibit the availability of foreign aid to Zimbabwe. It will turn Zimbabwe from a net exporter of food to becoming another food importer on the African continent. It will remove us from the list of significant players in the global market for tobacco, a position we have held since the mid 50's.

The alternative is to adopt the land strategy adopted in 1998 by all stakeholders ­ this would achieve equity in land distribution in 3 years, it would keep our agricultural industry, food and water systems secure. It would expand our role as a food and tobacco producer. It would encourage rather than discourage investment and it would provide a role model for other countries faced with the same problem. South Africa has a much larger land problem than Zimbabwe and to date little has been achieved ­ threatening the future of that country as well.

In addition the program would then be fully supported by the global community and would provide a major source of foreign aid directed at the rural poor and the redistribution of assets and resources. It would reinforce our human rights record and respect for the rule of law. It would make a start on the long-term problem of improving incomes and production on a sustainable basis in the communal areas.

However, it would also take away from the president, Robert Mugabe, the only electoral ploy he has available to him in the forthcoming presidential election, and therefore all of these issues will be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. The name of the game is the election of Mugabe to a new term of office despite his failure as president to defend the constitution, his failure to protect the lives and property of his citizens and to his failure to improve the quality of life for the people of this country.

Eddie Cross
12th August 2000

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Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Zimbabwe Crisis mailing list archives -- http://www.niner.net/zimcrisis
- Comprehensive news updates -- http://www.1freespace.com/beetee
- Offers of and requests for help for Zimbabweans -- http://pub9.ezboard.com/boffersofhelp
- Commercial Farmers' Union -- http://www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
- Movement for Democratic Change -- http://www.in2zw.com/mdc
- Zimbabwe Democracy Trust -- http://www.zimbabwedemocracytrust.org
- BSAP Pursuit of Zimbabwean Criminals -- http://www.bsaphq.f9.co.uk