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III. Background of the Politicization of Food

The Humanitarian Crisis

By early February 2003, when Human Rights Watch was researching this report, there were 7.2 million food vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.3 The country was in the midst of a severe and complex humanitarian emergency that had been gathering momentum since 1999. By 2001, drought monitors, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS), and humanitarian agencies were all indicating that a regional food crisis was emerging in southern Africa; a crisis induced by a complex web of events and government policies.

Harvests in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Swaziland, and Lesotho were, for the third year in a row, adversely affected by floods and drought. The poor weather conditions further exacerbated production declines induced by HIV/AIDS, which was destroying the productive adult population across the region, leaving the elderly and children to run the farms. In Zimbabwe, previously a major exporter of grain to its neighbors, the seizing of commercial farms that began in 2000 under the fast-track land reform program caused massive production disruptions. These disruptions, combined with the adverse weather conditions, led to a severe drop in national grain production.4 Zimbabwe’s farms were not producing enough to feed the domestic population, let alone the region. The government’s mismanagement of the economy and institutionalized corruption compounded these food production shortfalls by making the little grain that was produced over-priced and difficult to obtain.5 The UN argues that the Zimbabwe crisis is not a normal “complex emergency.” Its causes are varied and unusual (i.e., weather, policy choices, and economic stagnation and HIV/AIDS). Moreover, the government’s incapacity, macro-economic policies, and tense relationship with donors, complicate the solution.6 FEWS predicted the onset of famine without immediate international relief.

Though the Zimbabwe government initially refused to acknowledge the full extent of the food shortage, it supported, along with NGOs already in the field, supplementary feeding and public work programs for targeted populations. In mid-2001, the UN argued that these programs were inadequate and “unable to tackle the magnitude of the current and anticipated problems.”7 The WFP began pouring aid into southern Africa in September 2001. But Zimbabwe’s government did not request assistance from the WFP until October 2001, so WFP aid did not arrive until February 2002. The international community raised more than one hundred million US dollars for the feeding operation.8

Initially, the WFP program in Zimbabwe targeted 558,000 beneficiaries, out of 4.6 million beneficiaries in the entire southern Africa region.9 By July 2002, hunger had spread significantly in the region and new assessments identified 6.1 million beneficiaries, 3.8 million of which were in Zimbabwe. The WFP estimated that by the peak of the seasonal need cycle in December the regional need would grow to nearly 13 million people and the number of targeted WFP beneficiaries would reach 10.2 million. In Zimbabwe, however, the WFP projected that the number in need, 6 million, would remain constant and therefore expected to target 3.8 million beneficiaries throughout 2002.10 But its estimates proved too conservative and the number of Zimbabweans in need grew to 6.7 million by September 2002,11 and to 7.2 million by early 2003.12

Generally, estimates of the number of people in need range between twenty and seventy-five percent of the population, depending on district, population group, and season.13 The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), part of OCHA, identifies four separate populations of concern: the farm families living in the communal areas,14 urban populations,15 newly settled farmers, and ex-farm workers and their families on the ex-commercial farms. Details about the vulnerability and nutritional status of the latter two communities on the old white farms are largely unavailable, which makes it difficult to assess need and design feeding interventions. The UN has requested a full survey of ex-commercial farm areas. Despite the government’s stated plans to conduct a needs assessment, at the time of this writing no assessment had begun. Although, in March the UNDP and the WFP undertook a joint pilot assessment in Marondera with the Ministry of Social Welfare. But the government has made no further indication that it will conduct a comprehensive assessment of these areas.

The most vulnerable amongst the population of concern include households with orphans, large families, female-headed and child-headed households, and families without or with only small plots of land, who own no animals, who must care for disabled members and/or who receive no agricultural subsidies. Some families have been stressed (i.e. they planted and then have lost crops) repeatedly since 1999-2000, when Zimbabwe had erratic rains, a cyclone and flooding. Many more families were unable to harvest significant amounts of food due to drought in different areas in 2000-01, 2001-02, and in 2002-03.

Faced with mounting needs and little prospect of accessing grain, people have developed coping strategies. People feed their families by borrowing food or buying it on credit, picking wild plants or hunting animals. They eat fewer meals and eliminate expensive foods (such as meat or fish) each day. Families reduce expenditures on other “non-essential” items such as education and health services. As money runs out, families are forced to sell important assets such as goats and bicycles, which can often place their long-term livelihoods at even greater risk. When no longer able to survive where they are, people migrate to the cities in search of better prospects (which do not exist in the urban areas where unemployment is rampant), attempt to emigrate, or turn to prostitution or crime. Unfortunately, these coping strategies often fail to provide proper nourishment. Nutritional surveys since 1999 indicate increased malnourishment in children under five years-old.16

Politics, Land Reform and Human Rights Abuse

Zimbabwe’s ten-year war for independence from Britain ended in late 1979 with the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement by Britain and the liberation forces led by Robert Mugabe of ZANU and Joshua Nkomo of Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU). Among its other provisions, the agreement preserved the white colonial farmers’ rights to their land and barred compulsory acquisition of land by the new government.17 In 1980, white commercial farmers owned more than 15 million hectares of the agricultural land while small-scale black commercial farmers owned only 1.4 million hectares. After ten years, the government changed the law to permit compulsory acquisition of land for redistribution and resettlement at “fair” (though not necessarily market) prices set by a committee. By 1997, only 71,000 families out of a targeted 162,000 had been resettled on roughly 3.5 million hectares of land.18 However, less than twenty percent of this land was “prime land”.19 In contrast, some 4500 commercial farmers, mostly white, still owned 11 million hectares of the richest land.20

Illegal land occupations escalated in 1997, but it was not until the economy collapsed, that land reform again took center stage. In response to persistent demands for assistance by the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veteran’s Association (WVA) the government announced that it planned to compulsorily acquire nearly 1500 farms (3.9 million hectares). But Zimbabwe and international donors, including Britain and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), increasingly disagreed on the funding of land resettlement. Among other concerns, the donors contended that many of the beneficiaries of the early land reform program were the well-connected and relatively wealthy elite, not struggling farmers. Thus, in September 1998, the government held a conference to establish a set of principles for selecting beneficiaries for land resettlement and to receive donor pledges. But donor-government relations soured at the conference and new governance conditions were imposed on the funding for land reform. By 1999, only 35 of the nearly 1500 targeted farms had been purchased for resettlement.

As donors were making funding conditional on transparency in land resettlement and pressing President Mugabe to implement governance reforms, the political opposition in Zimbabwe was gaining strength. A broad spectrum of interest groups came together in 1999 to form the MDC, the first major opposition party since ZANU and ZAPU merged to form ZANU PF. The MDC called for broader, more people-driven land reform and opposed the 2000 referendum on a new constitution that would permit Mr. Mugabe to seek two additional terms in office and sanction the seizure of white-owned farms. In the President’s first defeat in more than 20 years, 55 percent of voters opposed the proposed constitution. Pressing economic need had distracted voters, despite the free land that the proposed seizures promised. Only 26 percent of eligible voters cast ballots; “there were bigger queues in Harare … for precious supplies of diesel fuel than there were at referendum voting points.”21 Most observers mark this defeat as the beginning of nationwide state-sponsored violence for it made clear that the first post-independence, viable and nationwide alternative political party had emerged.

Thus, in July 2000, on the tail of defeat and facing mounting opposition, Mr. Mugabe announced the fast-track land reform program. Under the program, the government aimed to acquire five million hectares of land by the end of 2001 and eventually to see nine million hectares divided between 160,000 poor family farms (A-1 model) and 51,000 small- and medium-sized commercial farms (A-2). Despite the referendum’s defeat, parliament passed a new bill legitimizing the fast-track program. By June 2002, more than 5800 farms, comprising 10.5 million hectares, had been listed for compulsory acquisition. In defense of fast-track, Mr. Mugabe argued that his government was:

… fighting a Third ‘Chimurenga’ … to achieve economic justice for the black majority….This gross social and economic injustice could not be allowed to continue. Thus when the landless people ‘spontaneously’ invaded white farmland to register their protest against this gross injustice, Government then felt compelled to act. It thus embarked upon its fast-track resettlement programme. The … MDC was formed as a front for the whites to resist the moves towards the redistribution of the economic assets of Zimbabwe. Britain and other European powers are sponsoring the MDC because they want to protect the property rights of whites and are vigorously opposed to the expropriation of white-owned farmland.22

Human rights groups held instead that:

… the fast-track resettlement program began in early 2000, when the Government’s popularity had reached an all-time low. The first land occupations were not, as claimed by the Government, a spontaneous protest by land-hungry people. They were planned, organized and executed by ZANU (PF). Large-scale, synchronized invasions of farms by ‘war veterans’ occurred throughout the country within days of the referendum rejecting the constitution. The farm occupiers were transported to farms in Government vehicles. Once there, they received monthly payments and regular food supplies, delivered in Government vehicles. Government Ministers, parliamentarians, Provincial Governors, other high-ranking ZANU (PF) politicians, local party officials and CIO and army personnel were involved in this process, linking up with the ‘war veterans’ and directing or participating in the invasions and in the ensuing violence. The invasions were … an essential part of a political strategy to combat the growing influence of the MDC and to win back rural support by promising land reform.23

Violence and rights abuses have characterized the fast-track process, as previously reported by Human Rights Watch.24 Motivated by political bias, the process denies whole classes of people, such as MDC supporters and many commercial farm workers, the right to acquire land. Women also have fared poorly under the fast-track program, receiving much less than their fair share of the distribution.

Parliamentary elections took place in mid-2000, following the implementation of fast-track. During the elections, reports of violence, electoral irregularities, and the intimidation of opposition leaders were typical occurrences: a reported 35 MDC members were murdered during campaigning. The MDC won a slight majority of votes, but ZANU PF captured 62 seats while the MDC won only 57.

Opposition to seizures and illegal occupations under fast-track continued at home and abroad. Faced with international condemnation, in September 2001, the government agreed at Abuja to uphold the rule of law: to cease compulsory acquisition of land, and to end violence on the farms and the government-backed farm occupations. Nonetheless, commercial farm acquisitions, politically motivated discrimination, violence and rights abuse continued.25

Serious rights abuses again reportedly marred the presidential election in March 2002, mostly against MDC supporters. Abuses included electoral fraud, torture, abduction and kidnapping, murder, assault, theft, rape, unlawful arrest and detention, looting, and destruction of property.26 Violence also plagued the local government elections that followed. 27

As a result of these reported election-related abuses, European and US governments refused to acknowledge the presidential election as valid and the re-elected government as legitimate. Their targeted “smart” sanctions against more than 70 prominent people aim to deny Mr. Mugabe, his close advisors, and their families the right to travel and hold property and money abroad.28 On September 24, 2001, Zimbabwe was declared ineligible to use the general resources of the IMF and removed from the list of countries eligible to borrow resources under the Poverty Reduction Growth Facility because it had been in arrears to the Fund since February.29 Since then, the government has blamed donor withdrawal, as well as repeated drought, for the nation’s economic troubles. In the aftermath of these events, tensions have been high between the government and the international community. Face-to-face meetings between ZANU PF politicians and influential western diplomats in Harare are infrequent and strained. Zimbabwe’s leaders interact mostly with lower-level foreign diplomats or senior UN officials for working meetings. There is thus little common planning, coordination, collaboration, or even negotiation between western governments and Zimbabwe’s government.

An Economy in Disarray

The fast-track land seizures created severe hardship in Zimbabwe in several ways. Production on commercial farms was massively disrupted. Commercial maize production declined once fast-track was announced and land invasions began in earnest. New settlers did not want to see departing farmers harvest their crops and therefore, food had to be abandoned in the fields. Similarly, farm animals and seeds were eaten by hungry settlers waiting for inputs from the government.30 On farms that were listed but not yet acquired, planting and forward planning (such as investing in new equipment) declined as uncertainty increased. In 2001, as maize production dropped and prices rose, the government set prices and decreed that all grain must be bought and sold through the GMB. Some confiscation of grain followed. These policies discouraged growers, and production threatened to decline even further.

Both the Grain Producers’ Association and the Commercial Farmers’ Union warned of significant national crop reductions due to the disruption of commercial farm work. But the government disregarded these warnings. The Minister of Agriculture declared: “We are now seeing the (white) farmers and their backers… targeting local people with crude warnings and prophesies of doom that land reform will lead to hunger in Zimbabwe. Nothing can be far (sic) from the truth than these warning.”31 By the end of 2001, nearly one-third of commercial farms stopped operating completely or operated at significantly diminished capacity. Prices were allowed to rise in early 2002, but the farms had grown too little maize, so scarcity continued, accompanied by high prices.32

The commercial farming declines caused by fast-track also meant that 150-200,000 farm workers were thrown out of employment, the lives and livelihoods of these workers and their families (an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people) disrupted.33 Many of these workers, immigrants or descendants of immigrants from neighboring countries such as Malawi and Mozambique, lack alternative networks of support. As non-citizens, they have no access to fast-track land or to land in the communal areas.34 Some may have cash remaining from the retrenchment packets paid by departing white farm owners, but many are destitute. Most have remained in villages on the commercial farms where they worked, now co-existing in an uneasy relationship with the WVA members, other organized war veterans, and other new settlers.

On newly settled farms, the government provided little support in terms of inputs, training, equipment, capital or social facilities. Heavy equipment was underutilized or destroyed.35 Most newly resettled farmers have no access to farm equipment and by the end of 2002, “half the government-owned tractor fleet [was] out of service because of the lack of foreign exchange to purchase spare parts.”36 Among those that do have access to large equipment, many have little experience or training on commercial farms and are ill prepared to manage the equipment. Irrigation lines have been destroyed. Farmers have been unable to obtain the constituent ingredients for fertilizer, due to the lack of foreign exchange and raw materials. And, government-promised seed and fertilizer have arrived late to the farms.37

It is not only the agricultural sector that has been crippled in recent years. Zimbabwe’s entire economy is in a decline so severe that the average Zimbabwean is worse off in 2003 than in 1980 at independence.38 This decline can be traced to several developments, including the World Bank’s structural adjustment programs that abolished government industry protections, and health care and education subsidies. Also, under extreme pressure from the WVA, the government agreed, in 1997, to pay each veteran a one-time payment of Z$50,000 and a Z$2,000 per month pension for life. These payments were an enormous burden to the economy. But, according to several analysts, recent government policies have sped the decline of Zimbabwe’s already contracted economy.39 The government’s introduction, in 2001, of price controls on basic goods led to food shortages and higher prices. As a result of the price controls, sales revenues were significantly diminished and many producers could no longer cover their costs.40 Similarly, it was unprofitable for vendors to sell price-controlled goods. A black market in staple goods at prohibitively high and escalating prices soon developed. By November 2002, the list of goods subject to government price controls had expanded to include, among others, salt, sugar, oil, milk, beef, flour, yarn, and soap. Zimbabwe’s economic collapse harmed the purchasing power of poor and middle-income Zimbabweans in particular because food price inflation climbed faster than overall inflation rates and because wages failed to keep pace with prices.

Since 2001, the overall economic crisis, and the dire food shortage in particular, has affected both urban and rural Zimbabweans. Without land or steady work, urban dwellers cannot feed themselves. Subsistence farmers in rural areas fare no better. Both newly settled and longtime farmers face drought-ridden crops and poor farming conditions. Reduced production and access to food made the relief program essential. More pernicious, Zimbabweans’ dependency on food handouts has fostered a dangerous environment for the politicization of food and actually empowered the ZANU PF. One trade union leader opined, “ZANU likes droughts. They thrive on droughts because people are eating from their hands.”41

Food Assistance Programs in Zimbabwe

Two separate food programs operate in Zimbabwe, one run by the government, and the other by donors and NGOs. The government’s grain management system uses the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to import and distribute government-owned grain. In the first half of 2002, it imported 80 percent of the grain brought into the country [over 300,000 metric tons (MT)] of maize by August. The government expected to bring in another 650,000 MT before the end of the 2002-03 season. But the situation deteriorated and Zimbabwe needed more maize. The government reported that it bought double the anticipated amount by December 2002, though only 700,000 MT actually arrived in the country.42

The international program, which was initially expected to cost well over US$200 million for 2002-2003,43 consists of two major “pipelines.” The WFP manages the largest pipeline, which supplies a dozen NGOs who distribute the food in 49 (of 57) districts.44 The WFP chose to import maize separately from the GMB’s infrastructure, and has contracted its own transport services, and constructed its own warehousing facilities.45 The Consortium for Southern Africa Food Emergency (C-SAFE), a US-funded program implemented by World Vision, CARE and Catholic Relief Services, manages the second major pipeline. C-SAFE, which provides food to Zambia and Malawi as well, targets over 600,000 people in seven districts of Zimbabwe.46 In the first half of 2002, the international relief agencies imported 68,000 MT of maize and planned to import another 150,000 MT by the end of the year. In total, the government and relief agencies expected to supply 84 percent of the food needed in 2002-03.47

The two programs do not fully feed Zimbabwe’s hungry population. In late 2002, the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) estimated that GMB and relief aid only met 20-50 percent of people’s maize requirements (depending on province). Since official food programs meet less than half of Zimbabweans’ needs, and little maize is grown or held in private stores, people have no option but to turn to the informal, black market to buy their staple food. There, the price of maize continues to climb to well above the set price.48

The outlook for the 2003-2004 season is also bleak. Zimbabwe will need to import approximately 1.3 million MT of food to cover its deficit. In June 2003, the WFP announced that it had received a letter appealing for continued assistance, signed bythe Minister for Social Welfare. In response, the WFP announced that it would begin preparations. It has estimated that up to 5.5 million people will be in need in the 2003-2004 season. In August, the WFP reported that shortfalls of cereals would be met by E.U. and U.S. donations but that “the cereal pipeline from December onwards remains a major concern, as there are presently no pledges.”49

3 UN Relief and Recovery Unit, Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report, January 13, 2003. This population consisted of 850,000 urban needy, 929,000 current and former commercial farm workers, and 5.4 m rural people.

4 For example, maize production in Zimbabwe dropped by more than seventy-five percent from the 1999/2000 season to the 2001/2002 season. Zimbabwe National Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC), Zimbabwe Emergency Food Security Assessment Report, (Harare: September 16, 2002) pp. 6.

5 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Special Report: FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Zimbabwe - 1 June 2001, Sec 2 & 3; Oxfam International, Crisis in Southern Africa, June 2002, pp. 4-7; OCHA, UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal in Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Southern Africa – Zimbabwe, July 2002-June 2003, Sec 2.2 & 3; WFP, Southern Africa Crisis Response, (EMOP 10200), July 1, 2002-March 31, 2003, Sec A, B and C.

6 OCHA, July 2002-June 2003, Sec 3.

7 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Special Report: FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Zimbabwe – 1 June 2001, Sec 6.

8 OCHA, July 2002-June 2003, Sec 2.1.

9 WFP, July 1, 2002 – March 31, 2003, pp. 6.

10 Ibid, pp 2, 9, 10. According to the report (pp. 7): “Humanitarian response to the current crisis will have to coincide with increasing needs leading up to the next main harvest in April/May 2003. … [T]hree time periods capture the seasonal trends: July – August, September – November, December – March 2003. … The most critical food security period will be December through March, when food stocks will be depleted, prices will be high, and the humanitarian needs will be great.”

11 “Southern Africa: More than 14 million at risk from hunger,” IRIN News, September 16, 2002.

12 UN Relief and Recovery Unit, January 13, 2003: This population consisted of 850,000 urban needy, 929,000 current and former commercial farm workers, and 5.4 m rural people. “Zimbabwe: Crop and vulnerability assessments will map needs,” IRIN News, April 23, 2003: In March 2003, WFP provided food for 4.7 million Zimbabweans.

13 Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and UNICEF, An Assessment of the Nutritional Status and Food Security Situation in Zimbabwe, draft June 25, 2002; Zimbabwe National Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Food Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Vulnerability Assessment Committee, Zimbabwe Emergency Food Security Assessment Report, September 16, 2002 and December 20, 2002; UN Relief and Recovery Unit, Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report[s], November 26, 2002 and January 13 and 11, 2003 and February 24, 2003.

14 ‘Communal areas’ refers to land that is used primarily for subsistence farming. These areas were traditionally farmed by native Zimbabweans, as designated under various land distribution laws passed under the colonial government and also after independence.

15 Generally, urban residents have been expected to purchase food. Nearly half of the GMB’s maize was sent to towns in the last year. For instance, 110 kg maize/person of GMB maize was reportedly imported into Bulawayo and Harare compared to 26 kg/person for (rural) Mashonaland East residents and 12 kg/person to (rural) Matabeleland North. ZIMVAC, Estimate of Food Availability by Province and Urban Area, February – October 2002, n.d. Urban populations are more likely to receive food aid under the 2003-2004 international relief program. See “ZIMBABWE: Feature - Food security worsening in south,” IRIN News, April 10, 2003 and “ZIMBABWE: Food "monetization" aims to reach urban poor,” IRIN News, May 21, 2003.

16 ZIMVAC and SADC FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee, September 16, 2002, pp. 9; OCHA, July 2002-June 2003, Sec. 3.3 and “Queues to get out”, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) News, September 10, 2003.

17 In 1980, most of the remaining farm families lived on the congested communal lands (comprising less than 50 percent of agricultural land). United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Zimbabwe: Land Reform and Resettlement: Assessment and Suggested Framework for the Future, Interim Mission Report, January 2002, pp. 8.

18 Human Rights Watch (HRW), Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe, (New York: HRW, March 2002) pp. 6: Technical Committee of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Resettlement and Rural Development and the National Economic Consultative Forum Land Reform Task Force, Inception Phase Framework Plan: 1999 to 2000, An Implementation Plan of the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme – Phase 2 (Harare: Government of Zimbabwe, undated (1998)), paragraph 1.2.

19 HRW, March 2002: Tapera Knox Chitiyo, “Land Violence and Compensation: Reconceptualising Zimbabwe’s Land and War Veterans’ Debate,” Track Two Occasional Paper, vol. 9, no. 1, (Cape Town: Centre for Conflict Resolution, May 2000), p.16.

20 HRW, March 2002, fn. 10: “According to the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU), basing its summary on official government figures, 39,079,000 hectares of land in Zimbabwe are split among: large scale commercial sector, 11,020,000 hectares (28.2 percent of the total), of which CFU members own 8,595,000 ha; small scale sector, 1,380,000 ha (3.15 percent); communal areas, 16,350,000 ha (nearly 42 percent); resettled areas, 3,540,000 ha (9.1 percent); national parks and forest land, 6,339,000 ha (16.2 percent); state-owned land through ARDA, 250,000 ha (0.6 percent); urban land, 200,000 ha (0.5 percent). CFU statement, October 19, 2001. All CFU documents cited are available on the CFU website:

21 Peter Hawthorne, “Power to the People: Zimbabwean voters just say no to President Mugabe's proposals for constitutional reform,” Time Europe, Vol. 155 No. 8, February 28, 2000.

22 Zimbabwe Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations Forum,Politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe 2000-2001:A report on the campaign of political repression conducted by the Zimbabwean Government under the guise of carrying out land reform, August 2001, Introduction. Also see Zimbabwe Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations Forum, The Unleashing of Violence: A report on violence in Zimbabwe as at May 15, 2000, May 16, 2000.

23 Zimbabwe Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations Forum, Politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe 2000-2001:A report on the campaign of political repression conducted by the Zimbabwean Government under the guise of carrying out land reform, August 2001, Background.

24 HRW, March 2002, pp. 18-35.

25 “ZIMBABWE: Year-ender 2002 - Chronology of fast-track land reform,” IRIN News, January 20, 2003; The Ministry of Local Government, Formally Resettled Households Under the Fast Track Land Reform Program, June 2000 to 5th March 2002: Model A1 Scheme, n.d.; “Resettled War Vets Abandon Farming for Gold Panning,” The Daily News, February 20, 2003 reporting the findings of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, which toured the newly settled farms.

26 Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Are they Accountable? Examining alleged violators and their violations pre and post the Presidential Election March 2002, December 2002. The Public Order and Security Act (January 2002) is used frequently to arrest opponents. It is abusive of rights and freedoms, especially the right to organize, assemble and express opinions freely.

27 See, for instance, Amnesty International, Press Release: “Zimbabwe: local elections marred by state-sponsored violence”, October 1, 2002.

28 Peter Slevin, “Bush Freezes Assets of Mugabe, Zimbabwean Officials,” The Washington Post, March 8, 2003.

29 Ibid. Regarding withholding of loans and grants and technical assistance, see International Monetary Fund, “IMF Adopts Declaration of Non-cooperation for Zimbabwe and Suspends Technical Assistance”, June 14, 2002.

30 Human Rights Watch interview with John Robertson, a Zimbabwean economist, February 26, 2003: The Justice for Agriculture provided an example: “On Mervyn Jelliman’s farm in Kadoma, center pivots and sprinklers lie dormant over dry fields. Normally at this time of year [Dec 2002] some 300 hectares of maize would have been growing, in addition to the 2,400 to 3,200 tons of wheat and barely he would have already produced. This year he was chased off the farm three weeks before his cereal crop came to fruition. On an average some 6 to 8 tons per hectare would have been harvested off this land, but the settlers turned off the sprinklers and failed to maintain the crop. When they eventually carried out a very late harvest using his combine, they obtained no more than 450 tons. Since then, no further planting has been done.” (

31 Rangarirai Shoko, “Zimbabwe Debates Impact of Land Reform On Food Security,” PanAfrican News Agency, January 10, 2001.

32 Human Rights Watch interview with John Robertson, February 26, 2003 and “Focus on economic impact of land reform,” IRIN News, October 3, 2002.

33 The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee found that many people who lived on the farms previously complained that their “lifestyle was fast deteriorating.” Human Rights Watch interview with senior local relief official, February 26, 2003.

34 The use and occupation of communal land, as designated under the Communal Land Act, is determined by rural district councils, subject to certain constraints outlined in the Act. The act further specifies that land shall be allocated only to member and relatives of the traditional community according to traditional law. Thus, workers who are not indigenous to Zimbabwe have no access to this land. The Communal Land Act, Ch. 20:04,

35 Justice for Agriculture reported “the wastage in terms of infrastructure is phenomenal. It is not only irrigation systems that lie idle, either because pumps or pipes are stolen or damaged, or because the new settlers lack the necessary skills to run them. Tractors all over the country, having been appropriated from farms though illegal or violent means, have been literally driven into the ground due to lack of care and maintenance. Ploughs and disc harrows, milking machines, tobacco curing and handling facilities, pumps and generators, all being damaged and lost through untrained usage and wanton vandalism.” (

36 Brian MacGarry, The Zimbabwe Economy in 2001-2, British Zimbabwe Society newsletter, February 2003 pp. 2-3.

37 “Focus on economic impact of land reform,” IRIN News, October 3, 2002 and “ZIMBABWE: Year-ender 2002 - Chronology of ‘fast-track’ land reform,” IRIN News, January 20, 2003; Blessing Zulu, “Attempts to Revive Agriculture Falter,” The Zimbabwe Independent, February 14, 2003; and Vincent Kahiya, “Irrigation Projects No Solution to Food Security,” The Zimbabwe Independent, February 21, 2003. Also, Energy Bara, “Hungwe Accused of Harassing Farmers,” The Daily News, February 27, 2003; and Simba Chabarika, “Land Reform: A Revolutionary Move or Political Gimmick?”, Opinion, The Daily News, March 3, 2003. Not only was maize affected, but there were reduced outputs of soybeans, wheat, sorghum, groundnuts, and sunflowers, milk, meat and other dairy products (such as cheese and yogurt), as well as commercial crops such as sugar and tobacco, both significant earners of foreign exchange previously.

38 Human Rights Watch interviews with John Robertson, 26 Feb 2003 and Peter Robinson, a local economist, March 4, 2003. Also see MacGarry, February 2003 and Peter B. Robinson, Repairing and Restructuring Zimbabwe’s Macro-Economy, IDASA Conference on Solutions for Zimbabwe, March 2003.

39 Ibid.

40 National Foods (producer of flour, stock feed, cooking oil etc) stated in its annual report that the government’s price controls on most of its products meant that “volumes were down on the previous year by about 10 percent … [creating] high overheads in respect of underutilized plant. Shortages have contributed to a burgeoning black market for the company’s products, which are sold by the company at controlled prices but eventually acquired through the trade by vendors who on-sell at significantly higher amounts,” “NatFoods Feels Pinch of Price Controls,” The Zimbabwe Independent, March 14, 2003. Similarly, Dunlop, the tire maker, has had to downsize operations due to price controls. It found it unprofitable to manufacture certain types of tires (especially those for light passenger vehicles and pick-ups), which are therefore unavailable. Transporters have thus been forced to park their vehicles, which has further “knock-on effects” on the economy.

41 Human Rights Watch interview, March 5, 2003.

42 UN Relief and Recovery Unit, January 13, 2003. Gross monthly figures were provided to the donors by the GMB at the end of 2002: ‘Actual Grain Distribution’, n.d.

43 OCHA, Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal in Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Southern Africa – Zimbabwe: July 2002 - June 2003,July 18, 2002. The UN agencies asked for $285 million emergency aid (of which $237 million was to be for food) for 2002-03. This figure does not include funding from non-UN sources, such as bilateral donors.

44 UN Relief and Recovery Unit, ‘Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report’, February 11, 2003: The WFP provided more than 42,000 MT in January 2003 to over 3.3m people, double the amount distributed the previous month. “ZIMBABWE: Crop and vulnerability assessments will map needs,” IRIN News, April 23, 2003: In March, it provided about 60,000 MT to 4.7 million Zimbabweans.

45 Michael Grunwald, “In Hungry Zimbabwe, Food Used as Political Weapon,” The Washington Post, January 1, 2003, reported that the government tried to get the WFP to “distribute grain through its-party controlled marketing boards as well, but they refused. The haggling delayed WFP operations by more than three months.” According to a Human Rights Watch interview with an UN official, February 27, 2003, the UN is well aware there is a command economy, with party institutions at all levels to ensure the government retains control over political, economic and social processes, including food distribution. Therefore the UN is trying to design delivery systems to avoid using government structures or officials.

46 United States Agency for International Development, USG Food Assistance to Zimbabwe, January 17, 2003.

47 ZIMVAC and SADC FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee, September 16, 2002, pp. 21.

48 ZIMVAC and SADC FANR Vulnerability Assessment Committee, Zimbabwe Emergency Food Security Assessment Report, December 20, 2002, pp. 13-14.

49 WFP, Regional Consolidated Situation Report for the Southern Africa Crisis, June 13, 2002 and Regional Consolidated Situation Report for the Southern Africa crisis, August 31, 2003. OpenDocument&Start=1&Count=1000&ExpandView&StartKey=Southern+Africa+Humanitarian+Crisis

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October 2003