[OPE-L:3010] RE:Zimbabwe

From: nicola taylor (nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Wed May 03 2000 - 17:49:52 EDT

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Rakesh, I clipped the following from the 'Zimbabwe Independent 28th April'
- I hope it will give you some idea of the real character of the 'land
invasions', and the way that it is being reported by some very courageous

Granite company invaded - Political violence, intimidation escalate

Godfrey Marawanyika/Dumisani Muleya

GOVERNMENT-sponsored ex-combatants and Zanu PF supporters invaded and
looted Ruenya Granite
Company in Mutoko north-east of Harare on Wednesday as the ruling party’s
campaign of violence
against farm workers and other suspected opposition adherents spread across
the country.

 The attack on the granite company is the first such invasion of a non-farm
business. The attackers
alleged that the company supported the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change. Work at the mine
came to a halt after the invasion.

 The group of between 70 and 80 war veterans and government supporters
arrived in four District
Development Fund trucks during lunch hour and asked for the mine manager
who was not present. A
company spokesman said the absence of the manager infuriated the war veterans.

 “The group immediately went wild. They broke into our offices, took
telephone handsets and office
equipment. They then ransacked our lodges, helped themselves to some food,
clothing, workshop tools
and spare parts,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be named for fear of

 After burning one of the lodges they went into the manager’s house where
they found some MDC

“This infuriated them. They wanted to deal with the manager personally.
Fortunately for him he was not
there. Imagine what could have happened to him,” the spokesman said.

 He said some of the 170 workers at the camp were beaten. The compound was
ransacked and there
was destruction of the company’s property.

 Yesterday police in Mutoko were still recovering some of the stolen
property, including a company vehicle
which had been hidden about 25km from the camp.

 Last year Ruenya exported granite worth about US$300 000. Meanwhile, the
war veterans’ reign of terror
increased in tempo this week despite assurances President Mugabe gave to
regional leaders last
weekend to rein his supporters in.

At least 14 people — including farmers, farm workers, and political party
supporters — have died in two
months of political violence worsened by farm invasions by
government-sponsored militias comprising
largely ex-combatants and youths recruited from Harare townships.

War veterans leader Chenjerai Hunzvi yesterday maintained the ex-
combatants would remain on farms
until the land issue was resolved.

Police said they were stepping up their efforts to combat violence but
their effectiveness would depend on
the poli-tical leash restraining them.

 Yesterday Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri invoked special powers
under the catch-all Law and
Order (Maintenance) Act (1960) to restrict political meetings.

 It now becomes illegal for parties to ferry members to political
gatherings unless they are addressed by
the presidents of parties. This is seen as benefiting Mugabe.

 Information at hand shows that the ex-combatants were now posing as MDC
supporters, wearing the
party’s T-shirts when visiting farms, and then beating up those who greet

At Ferndale Farm in Manicaland province some ex-combatants were seen
sporting army uniforms
claiming to be members of the Fifth Brigade. This was intimidating the farm
workers who were told to
support Zanu PF if they did not want to die. Farm workers were forced to
shout the slogan “Forward with
Zanu PF and President Mugabe. Down with the MDC,” it was reported.

 Despite a meeting held last week between President Mugabe, farmers’
representatives, and war
veterans’ leaders to stop the violence, the situation has deteriorated on
the farms this week.

 There has been looting, poaching, vandalism, theft, slaughter of domestic
animals, kidnappings, and
violent attacks on hundreds of farm workers.

Although the army and police have been deployed in different parts of the
country to control the situation,
their inertia is part of the problem. Police are described as “attending
the scene” of a crime they did
nothing to prevent,

 “Harassment of farmers and farm workers continue with war veterans making
ridiculous demands like
food, shoe supplies, clothing, and other such things,” farmers reported.
“On Linton Farm in Wedza Zanu
PF youths were stirring up labour and demanding food,” the farmers said.

Earlier this week five farms in south-west Wedza were in a volatile
situation. “A tractor and trailer with 25
war veterans is touring farms in the area. Other groups on the same tour
include 120 ex-combatants.
Three workers seriously injured at Chard Tapson Farm . . . a tobacco bulk
store was burnt down,” farmers

At Impala and Sanjo ranches in the Midlands, farmers reported looting.

Information coming from the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) shows that the
ex-combatants this week
invaded more properties including Amalinda Farm outside Harare, four farms
in Wedza in Mashonaland
East province, Chevy Chase Farm in Mashonaland West area, and three farms
in Manicaland region.
Two more farms were invaded on Wednesday at Inyathi in Matabeleland North
province. Farm workers
were assaulted.

 “On Chipesa Farm (Iain Kay) 28 head of cattle were slaughtered this
morning (Tuesday). The meat was
found in the invaders’ huts and when confronted by the police, the invaders
threatened to set alight the
police vehicles,” the CFU said in one of its daily updates.

 The Independent understands that on Monday at Nyamhunga township in Kariba
a Zanu PF gang went
door to door collecting MDC supporters. At least 20 people were beaten of
whom three disappeared and
are presumed dead, according to a local doctor.

 The Zanu PF gang was led by a war veteran called Cde Rex Jesus who was
subsequently arrested,
sources in Kariba confirm. He is due in court today.

 A similar reign of terror took place on Tuesday at Charara Estate where 30
people were beaten
senseless of whom at least two died. Some of the beatings in Kariba took
place at the Zambezi Valley
Hotel, sources said.

 The violence escalated last Thursday when ex-combatants went on a rampage
at Rudolphia Farm and
burnt down the farm house and the whole compound, killing the owner’s dogs.
They also looted the farm.
The incident was filmed by the BBC.

 The army and the police support unit were also deployed in the Enterprise
area where five more farms
were invaded, about 30 kilometres east of Harare.

 A farm house belonging to Chris Kearns was also razed at Mukore Farm in
Mashonaland Central. Farms
were evacuated in the same province.

 In Shamva, people were beaten up at Wadzanai township. There was
widespread intimidation around
the farming area including Glendale/Concession area.

“War veterans visited Villa Franca Farm, intimidated the workers and beat
them up. They took away
opposition membership cards and T-shirts. The war vets moved to Satchel,
Heyshott and Wooler Farms
doing the same,” it was reported.

All work is said to have grounded to a halt at Lions Den farm, Annadale,
and Rutherdale Combines in
Shamva. There were threats to burn the properties and farmers were forced
to stop preparing land for

“On Uvonga Farm owned by Clive Stockil, there are reports that game guards
followed up on five
poachers who were caught with Impalas in the snare. The game guards
arrested the poachers and then
came across war veterans, who confiscated the guards’ weapons and the game
guards have still not
been seen,” the CFU reported.

 In the Save Conservancy Valley, Levanga Farm was invaded this week. War
veterans told the people
there to leave. They also ordered people in one of the lodges to vacate.
There has been an upsurge of
poaching and the black rhino in the area is under threat.

 “Sixty invaders on Edwards Farm (Shurugwi) with 10 ex-combatants armed
with AKs and 303s pegged
land. At Beacon Kop 100 invaders occupied staff quarters and started
dividing the farm,” the CFU said. In
Mazowe, at Makalanga Farm Zanu PF youths were said to have invaded the area
demanding MDC cards
before burning them. The farmer, Peter McDonald, was ordered to refund the

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