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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Zimbabwe: Statements/Analysis, 1

Zimbabwe: Statements/Analysis, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 000514
Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:

This posting contains two statements on the current crisis in Zimbabwe, one from the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA) and the other from the African Studies faculty of Michigan State University Another posting today contains on-line starting points for background and analysis on the current crisis in Zimbabwe, an article by Patrick Bond on the history and political economy of the crisis, a statement from the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) and a brief update on the economic situation from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Network.

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Statement on the Present Crisis in Zimbabwe and Needed Actions
Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA)

May 10, 2000

Zimbabwe's current political and economic crisis demands immediate attention and action from the international community. As one of Africa's long-term success stories, Zimbabwe's current environment is now one of extreme fragility. National peace and security are severely threatened, and there are regional implications that stem from Zimbabwe's collapsing economy as well as the potential for massive refugee flows if human rights violations persist or violence escalates.

Of urgent concern is the fact that regular attacks are taking place, on both members of opposition parties such as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and white commercial farmers, allegedly by well-organized supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party. At least eighteen people have been killed, including white and black farmers, MDC members and a police officer. President Mugabe claims that the land-occupiers are dissatisfied war veterans and that the violence is due to white farmers resisting their occupation. The fact that the attacks have been mounted against MDC members however, in the run-up to the parliamentary elections after President Mugabe received his first major defeat-a rejection of his proposed new Constitution-illustrates the very political nature of the problem. MDC Executive members claim they have been threatened with death, and there is wider concern amongst the public that those who support the MDC may be under threat as well.

While these political sources of conflict must be immediately addressed, any long-term transformation of Zimbabwe's crisis will require addressing the structural sources of conflict, upon which the success of violent conflict depends. In addition to the very real land hunger, there is a present economic crisis, characterized by record high unemployment (over 50%), poverty (76%), inflation at (70%), and severely declining standards in education and health (with Africa's highest AIDs-related death tolls)-all of which have considerably worsened since the introduction of the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) in 1991. Compounding these problems is the financial fact that Zimbabwe is reportedly spending US$1 million per day in the Congolese war.

Immediate End to Violence and Impunity

Police should act impartially and promptly to situations of potential and actual violence and should safeguard the human and civil rights of all in Zimbabwe. Specifically police should protect the security of the farm workers, farmers, opposition leaders and members, and in particular women, now vulnerable to acts of rape, as well as peaceful demonstrators exercising their rights of freedom of speech, assembly and association. The government of Zimbabwe, and President Mugabe specifically, should direct police to act in this manner.

Investigations should also be promptly and impartially made into all violations, or risk the characterization of violence with impunity. Immediate investigations that should be undertaken include: violence surrounding the Saturday 1 April peace demonstration in Harare, all murders and cases of arson and rape.

Free and Fair Elections

Elections should be conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner devoid of intimidation and violence, respecting peoples' rights to freedom of expression and association. The government of Zimbabwe should act to protect the integrity, fairness and openness of the electoral process. State-sanctioned acts of violence create a climate of fear where individuals are unable to exercise their rights.

By calling opposition leaders "puppets of the white farmers" and white farmers "enemies of the state" for their support of the MDC and their "no" vote in the constitutional referendum, President Mugabe illustrates his resistance to the most fundamental aspects of democratic process that entitle the free formation of opposition political parties. Historically, President Mugabe's record in this regard is not good. In previous elections, the courts successfully prosecuted ZANU-PF members for political violence, to which the President responded promptly with political pardons.

Land Invasions Stopped

Land invasions should be stopped and the Zimbabwe government should not support them. They threaten the immediate human and civil rights of farm workers and farm owners, and raise the prospect of wider social violence. They also contribute to an atmosphere of intimidation in the run-up to elections. Zimbabwe's highest courts have twice ruled that against the occupations, and that the police should evacuate them. These court rulings must prevail.

In addition to the threatening atmosphere and actual violence they produce, land invasions present the appearance or reality of partisanship, and discriminate a priori in favor of some social groups, particularly actual or claimed ex-combatants aligned with ZANU-PF, to the likely disadvantage of other groups, including farm workers, older and younger peasants, ex-combatants not aligned with ZANU-PF, and women, as well as current land owners.


The legitimate and much needed issues surrounding land reform should be dealt with through the extensive measures that have already been arrived at and put in place. These include the Inception Phase of the Land Reform Program, and the UNDPcoordinated Technical Support Unit, responsible for assisting implementation. As also suggested in the Donor Conference Report of September 1998, further discussions between all potential stakeholders should continue to take place, in conditions free of violence and intimidation. This should include farm workers, whose indigenous knowledge of the farms ensure that they are well placed to continue working that land. Efforts such as the National Stakeholder Workshop held in May 1999, must continue to inform and guide the process.

As both non-governmental organizations and the 1994 Land Tenure Commission Report has emphasized, land redistribution is essential for sustainable development and national reconciliation. Various non- governmental actors within the country have noted that a fair land redistribution process must be guided by principles of:

  1. equity, in terms of race, gender, and number of landholders (more landholders, smaller farms), and in terms of access to rural infrastructure, agricultural and capital markets;
  2. transparency: open and accountable process of land acquisition and its redistribution;
  3. participation: the policy and program would involve potential 'winners' and 'losers', with opportunities and fora for policy dialogue and steps taken to compensate 'losers';
  4. fairness: beneficiaries of resettlement are to be selected by clear process, and not determined through racist, ethnic, regional party affiliation, or anti-'foreigner' sentiments, and at the same time;
  5. a need-based strategy: those in greatest need should be targeted. While the system to date in theory is "fair," in practice the government is under fire as government ministers, who are generally not farmers, have reaped benefits.

The U.S. government should pursue approaches to the situation that put priority on concerns for human rights, social justice, peace and development in Zimbabwe rather than on international economic ideologies. They should consult widely with all interested Zimbabweans and support a process of social negotiations that is widely participatory, transparent and free of coercion, in which Zimbabweans set the pace and content.

International commitments, some dating back to the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, to financially aid the land reform process should be reaffirmed and extended, following elections and supporting the above principles. The international community should call for and support free and fair elections, providing funds and election monitors.

Active efforts should be taken by the international community towards fulfilling moral and practical, historical and contemporary responsibilities related to land redistribution. The Zimbabwean government's efforts have long been crippled by a lack of resources to carry out needed land reforms-even when it was pursuing policies approved of by Britain and the wider international economic community. Land redistribution, needed for sustainable peace and development in Zimbabwe will require thoughtful consideration and action towards linkage to Zimbabwe's wider development policy.


(Twenty-one ADNA member organizations signed on to this letter. List of signatories is on file.)

Erin McCandless Editor, Cantilevers
School of International Service, American University 4400 Massachusettes Ave. NW Washington DC 20016-8071 Tel: (202) 885-1626/Fax: (202) 885-2494/ Home: 526 4th St. NE Washington DC 20002 tel: (202) 543-7513


This message is distributed from Cantilevers and the ad hoc working group on Zimbabwe for the Advocacy Network for Africa (ADNA).

Vicki Lynn Ferguson Advocacy Network for Africa Communications Facilitator c/o Africa Policy Information Center 110 Maryland Ave, NE #509 Washington, DC 20002 Ph: 202-546-7961 Fax: 202-546-1545 E-mail: Web:

Date sent: Fri, 12 May 2000 01:26:15 -0500 From: David Wiley <>
Subject: Resolutions on Zimbabwe by MSU ASC Faculty

Colleagues concerned with Africa,

Here are two resolutions adopted by the vote of the faculty of the African Studies Center at Michigan State University after extensive discussion and amendment beginning at the Faculty Spring Meeting on May 4. They reflect our special concern resulting from the engagement of many of our faculty and students in Zimbabwe since its Independence.

These are being disseminated to the Government of Zimbabwe as well as to the U.S. Administration, Department of State, and relevant Members of the Senate and Congress.

We hope that these may have some impact on the painful and unjust situation that has developed in Zimbabwe and to the benefit of the Zimbabwean people.

Regards, David Wiley Director, African Studies Center


Statement on Zimbabwe by the Faculty of the African Studies Center at Michigan State University

May 10, 2000

Statement to President William J. Clinton 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500 (Via Fax: 202-456-2461)
and to:
Secretary Madeline Albright and Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Susan Rice U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520 (Via Fax: 202-261-8577)

We, the faculty of the African Studies Center at Michigan State University, are proud of our tradition of defending justice and basic human rights, condemning both injustice and oppression in Africa, as found in colonial and apartheid regimes, as well as U.S. policies which supported oppressive regimes. From this tradition we express our deep concern for the people of Zimbabwe, and we condemn the many egregious acts of violence and intimidation occurring there against both Zimbabwean farm workers and individuals who support opposition parties.

With humility, we recognize our failure to voice our collective opposition to instances of state-sanctioned injustice and violence against civil populations in several countries in Africa in recent years and the Western support of war, violence, and dictators during the Cold War. With this resolution, we pledge our more vigorous and unequivocal opposition to such practices and our commitment to a more vigorous opposition to violations of human life and liberty wherever they occur in Africa.

Specifically we call upon the government of the United States to condemn the widespread and violent attacks in Zimbabwe, including murder, rape, beatings, and burnings of homes. We note with grave concern that Zimbabwe's most vulnerable population of 3 million commercial farm workers and their families are highly vulnerable to further acts of violence in the absence of protection by Zimbabwe's police and military.

In response we call upon the U.S. government to take the lead in funding rape crisis programs for female farm worker victims and their families, new housing construction for affected farm worker families, and nutritional programs for their children.

Recognizing the legacy of the discriminatory colonial land policy and the continuing injustices in disenfranchising Zimbabweans of land, we call on the U.S. government to honor its commitment to provide generous financial support for an equitable land redistribution programs in a manner that contributes to the welfare of the truly needy--and to encourage its allies in the wealthy nations to do likewise. It also should encourage the Zimbabwe Government to vigorously address the legitimate and long-unattended needs of the landless and farm workers in a fair and just manner.

Finally we support the State Department's call of April 19, 2000 for a return to the rule of law and to respect for basic human rights in Zimbabwe, and we call upon the U.S. government to use its influence with the Zimbabwean government to insure timely, free and fair elections.

Statement to the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe c/o The Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe, 1608 New Hampshire Ave. NW. 20009 (Via Fax: 202-483-9326)

The faculty of the African Studies Center at Michigan State University has a proud tradition of condemning injustice and oppression in colonial Rhodesia and for supporting the liberation of Zimbabwe and its people. Moreover we strongly condemned the role played by our own government in supporting the illegal Smith and Smith/Muzorewa regimes. Further, in the two decades since independence, this faculty, through its linkages with the University of Zimbabwe, the government, and non-governmental agencies, has collaborated with Zimbabwean colleagues to develop institutional capacity and to address solutions to economic and social problems confronting Zimbabwe. More than any other U.S. university, we have provided countless University, personal, and grant funds and fellowships for Zimbabweans, and we have given much labor to assist in building a new Zimbabwe.

From this tradition of deep loyalty to Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans, we express our deep concern for the people of Zimbabwe and condemn the egregious acts of violence and intimidation targeted at the Zimbabwean farm workers and individuals supporting opposition parties.

We call upon our friends and colleagues in the Government of Zimbabwe to take immediate action to end all attacks and intimidation against these rural and urban peoples. Moreover, we call upon the GRZ to insure the basic human rights of all Zimbabweans, to immediately return to the rule of law, and to organize timely elections which are free of intimidation.

Recognizing the legacy of the discriminatory colonial land policy and the continuing injustices in disenfranchising Zimbabweans of fertile land, we also are calling on the U.S. government to honor its commitment to provide generous financial support for land redistribution programs in Zimbabwe if it is carried out in a manner that contributes to the welfare of the truly needy and to encourage its allies in the wealthy nations to do likewise.

Finally, we urge the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe -

  • to vigorously address the legitimate and long-unattended needs of the landless and the farm workers in a fair and just manner,
  • to provide funding for rape crisis programs for female farm worker victims and their families, new housing construction for affected farm worker families, and nutritional programs for their children, and,
  • to be proactive in providing safety and security from murder, rape, beatings, and burning of homes for all the people of the country regardless of their political affiliation.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC provides accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and human and cultural rights.

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