Zimbabwe in Ruins

As farm invasions and widespread violence increased, the Zimbabwe Police not only refused to protect lives or property, but they began a systematic search of targeted farms to confiscate any “illegal weapons” from the besieged farmers!

Just in the first two months of the crisis, the independent human rights NGO, Amani Trust, documented over 5078 incidents of political violence perpetrated by agents or supporters of the Marxist ZANU-PF party.

This included 1012 assaults with blunt or sharp weapons, gunshot wounds, arson or attempted strangling. There had been 20 confirmed murders of farmers, their workers or opposition (MDC) supporters and 417 houses and properties destroyed.

The invasion of over 1600 farms by self styled “war veterans” was clearly orchestrated and supported by President Robert Mugabe, the ruling party (ZANU-PF), the National Army, the CIO and the Police. Less than 15% of the land invaders could have been “veterans” of the Rhodesian war, which ended in 1980. Most were too young to have been involved in a war that ended before most of them began their schooling.

The occupation of the farms has also been anything but “spontaneous”. The organiser of the so-called “war veterans”, Chenjerai “Hitler” Hunzvi, has been flown around the country, by an Air Force helicopter, as he co-ordinated the invasions.

Many of the “landless peasants” occupying the farms had been seen carrying cell phones and were reported to be in regular contact with the local ZANU-PF party headquarters.

The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported that the armed forces had received a shipment of 21 000 AK 47 assault rifles, most likely to be distributed amongst the squatters. They also reported that General Shiri (the man who commanded the notorious North Korean trained 5th Brigade, which massacred tens of thousands of civilians in Matabeleland in the 1980’s) had deployed over 1000 soldiers in civilian clothes to lead the farm invasions. On occasions, uniformed officers had also been seen organising the squatters. Military and government vehicles had been seen transporting land invaders.

Zimbabweans described the campaign as “political re-education by means of skull bashing”, “the Red Guard treatment” and “state sponsored terrorism.”

The targeting of the, mostly white, commercial farmers in Zimbabwe is effectively economic suicide. Although the farmers occupy less than a quarter of the land (23%) these farms feed the entire nation and produce 90% of agricultural exports, with a gross production in excess of ZW$32 billion / (US$842 million). These farms are the largest employers of labour in the country.

The Commercial Farmers Union has proven to the government that these farm invasions will displace three times more people than it could resettle. It would also replace productive employers who feed the nation and provide a large percentage of the country’s foreign exchange with subsistence farmers. Who then would feed the over 3 million people living in the towns? And where would the foreign exchange come from to import food if the largest suppliers of forex have been eradicated? One economist described the policy as “insane” and “anarchic” and as spelling “complete ruin” for Zimbabwe’s faltering economy.

The disastrous ripple effect of the widespread vandalism, arson and violence against the most productive sector of the economy, is already plunging the country into a sharp downward spiral. With vast amounts of machinery damaged, crops burned, sheds razed to the ground, homes looted and farmers assaulted or murdered, crops remain unplanted or rotting in the fields or smouldering in burned-out warehouses.

Foreign and local investment has been frightened away. Tourism (an important source of employment and foreign funds) has virtually ceased. Bank loans, overdrafts and securities linked to farms are now overdue. And the unemployment time bomb is set to explode. “This is ripping the heart out of the country” declared one leader.

The High Court’s rulings that the farm invasions were illegal and the judiciary’s instructions to the police to remove the squatters have been ignored

When a peaceful march of MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) supporters (1 April) was attacked by ZANU-PF thugs, the police stood by inactive. When a police inspector was asked “whether it was the role of the police to protect all Zimbabweans?” The police inspector responded: “NO, we are here to protect the interests of the government!” In the wake of this collapse of the rule of law, many squatters turned violent.

On the morning of 18 April a mob of 100 armed thugs attacked Martin Olds’ farm outside of Bulawayo. Despite being wounded, Olds succeeded in holding them at bay with his rifle and shotgun for over 3 hours. When he finally ran out of ammunition, he was overwhelmed and shot in cold blood. The police had ignored his call for help and even prevented an ambulance from reaching Olds as he lay wounded.

When this was followed up by a police campaign to disarm the beleaguered farmers, it became clear that the official goal was to render the victims defenceless even as the criminals were being armed.

OFFICIAL PRONOUNCEMENTS WERE ALSO OMINOUS

“If you want peace you should support me and the ruling party. If you want trouble, then vote for another party” – Josaya Hungwe - Governor of Masvingo province.

“If the opposition wins the elections, we will go to war” – Dr. Chengerai ‘Hitler’ Hunzvi, the Leader of the War Veterans Association. Dr. Hunzvi’s surgery has reportedly been converted into a torture chamber where abducted opposition supporters are dragged to and viciously tortured.

“We did not win the power in this country by elections but by armed struggle. And we are also going to win these elections by armed struggle” – Chen Chimutengwende, the Minister of Information.

“We have degrees in violence!” – President Robert Mugabe.

Few in Zimbabwe believed that the issue was really about land reform. The government controls more land than the farmers do, but has failed in the last 20 years to provide land for the landless. Most of the confiscated farms have been handed over to rich ZANU-PF party officials - not the “landless poor”.

“Land reform” is being used as a smokescreen for a state sponsored campaign to crush all opposition. What seemed to have precipitated this crisis was the political defeat of ZANU-PF in the February 2000 Referendum. The unpopular and bloody war in the Congo, where Mugabe had committed 11 000 soldiers from the Zimbabwe National Army to prop up fellow Marxist dictator, Laurent Kaliba, was costing Zimbabwe US$1 million a day. The massive inflation and unemployment had further fuelled rising discontent. Mugabe needed a scapegoat and so he publicly declared:

“Farmers are enemies of the state! . . .the revolution is yet to be concluded . . . We have set the rules! . . . those farmers who resist will die!”

Political observers in Zimbabwe have concluded: “This isn’t about land, nor is it about race. More black farm workers have been assaulted and murdered by these ZANU mobs than have whites. The issue is about ZANU desperately seeking to cling to power and crush all opposition.”

Amnesty International’s Africa director, Maina Kai, has noted: “There is a deliberate plan. It started with the farmers, then moved to the farm workers and onto the teachers and businessmen and now to the opposition . . . It is clearly state sponsored terrorism.

Ominously, the South African ANC government has remained supportive of the oppressive regime in Zimbabwe, fuelling speculation that their proposed new gun control legislation is designed to disarm South African farmers in preparation for similar farm invasions here.

Back in the late 1970’s the United States Secretary of State assured Rhodesians that the USA would guarantee their farms, private ownership of property and the rule of law if they accepted the international settlement and hand over of power. Now the US government which did so much to bring Mugabe to power in Zimbabwe needs to honour those commitments.

How we, and concerned investors overseas, react to the state sponsored terrorism in Zimbabwe could have a direct bearing on whether similar tactics are unleashed on South Africans or Namibians.

Please pray for the ministers and missionaries in Zimbabwe as they must work in such a volatile and explosive situation.

Rev. Peter Hammond

A PASTOR’S MESSAGE FROM ZIMBABWE

“The kind of crisis that has engulfed Zimbabwe did not come about overnight. There are some who are saying, ‘What happened?’ But it is just such a situation that awaits every nation that is not vigilant and courageous in bringing the state into line with the limits God has ordained. To turn a blind eye to corruption, just because it is not directly effecting you fuels the flames of tyranny. Far too many people in Zimbabwe are still adopting the ‘strategy’ of neutrality - standing perfectly still and saying nothing - hoping that if they do this then ‘it’ won’t get them. It is very evident that many people are generally socialists at heart, wanting something for nothing. What I mean by this is that they all long for peace, prosperity and a stable future, however they want someone else to take the risks and exert effort to bring these conditions into being. What is happening to us should be taken as a warning to other nations .

The violence and intimidation is unceasing on the farms and in the rural areas. The lives of those contesting ZANU PF seats in the upcoming elections are constantly threatened and they have to duck and hide and not sleep in the same place for too many nights at a time. The atrocities are endless. The apparent support of the SA president for the Zimbabwe government policies should be most disturbing to all South Africans.

Pray for: the Lord to frustrate the evil plans of our rulers; that people in Zimbabwe would have the courage to stand against the intimidation and vote Mugabe and his terrorists out of power; that the church would assume its responsibility of being the salt and light and repent for its compromise and cowardice up until now.”