Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military



ZIMBABWE: IRIN News Briefs

CONTENTS:

Opposition leader meets British foreign secretary
Denmark calls for rule of law
Sweden suspends bilateral agreements
University lecturers on strike
War vets ordered off Ian Smith's farm
CFU appeals to farmers to avoid confrontation

Opposition leader meets British foreign secretary

The leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
Morgan Tsvangirai, held talks in London on Monday with British Foreign
Secretary Robin Cook, a foreign office statement said.

"I shared with Morgan Tsvangirai my deep concern at the economic crisis in
Zimbabwe and the continuing failure to observe the rule of law. Zimbabwe
could be one of the wealthiest countries of Africa, but has been reduced to
a state in which most of its citizens find it hard to make ends meet," Cook
said. "I confirmed that Britain wants to work as a partner with the people
of Zimbabwe to promote development and to support a fair and legal programme
of land reform. We will work with any leader chosen by the people of
Zimbabwe who is willing to work with us on the same basis of respect for the
rule of law and for the welfare of the people." Tsvanigrai declined to
comment on the talks.

Denmark calls for rule of law

Denmark has said it would not provide further aid to Zimbabwe until the
government commences a fair land redistribution programme and respects the
rule of law, the 'Daily News' reported on Tuesday quoting visiting Danish
Minister for Development Cooperation, Jan Trojborg.

He said "sensible solutions and compromises" had to be found to Zimbabwe's
economic and political problems first, especially the thorny land issue.
Trojborg also said Zimbabwe had to revert to the recommendations agreed on
at the 1998 donor's conference before any aid could come from Denmark. He
added that Denmark would only release financial aid for Zimbabwe's land
reform process after the country agreed with the United Nations,
international donors and all stakeholders on the best way to proceed.

Sweden suspends bilateral agreements

Meanwhile, Sweden has suspended long-term bilateral agreements with Zimbabwe
because of the current political situation. The 'Daily News' on Tuesday
quoted Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lennarth Hjelmaker, as saying Sweden
would continue to support programmes that promote democracy and human
rights.

In an interview after a human rights and democracy workshop in Masvingo,
Hjelmaker said: "Democracy and human rights observance are important issues
in our partnership. We are, however, not going to sign any new long-term
agreements, because of the political situation in the country."

University lecturers on strike

Lecturers at the University of Zimbabwe embarked on an indefinite strike
over salary conditions last Friday, 'The Standard' newspaper reported.

"We gave the required 14 day notice and the government never saw it fit to
negotiate with us, so we met and decided that we would only go back to work
when our grievances are addressed," said Barnabas Chipindu, president of the
Association of University Teachers (AUT). He said the lecturers had been a
laughing stock at the institution because of their low salaries. When they
tried to raise the issue earlier this year, the lecturers were told by the
vice chancellor, Professor Graham Hill, that the university could not afford
to pay them. Chipindu said Hill wrote to his association advising him that
the lecturers should supplement their income by doing part-time jobs. The
average net salary of a lecturer is $28,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US $510) a
month.

On Monday, the 'Daily News' said riot police and the army had stormed the
university campus and beat up students who were demonstrating against the
failure to resolve a salary dispute between the university and striking
lecturers. Police threw teargas into the students' halls of residence,
dining halls and a clinic during running battles with the students. By
nightfall scores of students had been stranded in the city after having been
forced off the campus.
About 20 students were admitted to the Trauma Centre, while an even larger
group sought treatment at Parirenyatwa Hospital. An undisclosed number of
students were detained.

War vets ordered off Ian Smith's farm

The Midlands governor, Cephas Msipa, has asked 60 war veterans and villagers
at Gwenoro Farm, owned by former premier Ian Smith, to move off the land
because it is situated in the catchment area of Gweru's major supply dams,
Gwenoro and Amapongokwe. He said the government had declared Gwenoro a
conservancy and no large-scale settlements should be allowed in the area.

"We believe that this area should be left alone since any farming in the
area would cause siltation and threaten the water sources for Gweru," the
'Daily News' quoted him as saying.
However, a spokesman for the war veterans at the farm, said the group had no
intention of moving out of the area. He said they should be allowed to go
ahead and plant because Smith was farming near the Runde River. "We will not
leave this farm. We understand it is a ranch and we will keep our cattle
there. We will not do any crop farming," said Isaac Chivendera.

CFU appeals to farmers to avoid confrontation

Malcolm Middleton, chairman of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) in
Manicaland, has warned farmers in the area to avoid confrontation with war
veterans occupying their lands, the 'Daily News' reported on Tuesday. CFU
officials have said there is a renewed campaign to intimidate farmers and
their workers as the government steps up its drive to resettle thousands of
ex-fighters and peasants countrywide.

Ruling ZANU-PF party militants and squatters have descended on hundreds of
commercial farms since February, a development which has set them on a
collision course with the farming community.
"Farmers have so far shown great strength of character to withstand
provocation by farm invaders," Middleton said. He said they should be
commended for maintaining cool heads in the face of the hostile environment
they were operating under.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list