The countdown to Chaos - 2000

Jaco Strauss
15 August 2002 E-Mail this page to a friend

For a number of years, the rapid decline of Zimbabwe was there for all to see.

However, very little was done and most of the time, too little, too late. The biggest culprit (other than Mad Bob himself) in this diplomatic disaster must be South Africa's Thabo Mbeki who did........ nothing (other than giving his nutcase neighbour tacit support!)

I'm afraid the damage done to Zimbabwe is now unfortunately irreversible. This is how it happened as reported by Daily Telegraph, IOL, Zimbabwean News (ZWNews) and Amnesty International....

Timeline 2001

Timeline 2002



Mugabe decides to pay out a $240 million compensation package to veterans of the so-called liberation struggle


Mugabe's government announces a peasant resettlement plan. Landless blacks are to be settles on seized white farm land. The estate of the biggest single producer of flue-cured tobacco in the world is among those on the list of land designated to be seized.

The land seizures and veteran payouts are calculated to win popular approval, but the government cannot afford them--a fact that is considered proof that in almost 18 years of rule the Mugabe government has taken Zimbabwe from being the potential breadbasket of Southern Africa to an African basket case.



19   Week long riots as thousands of black demonstrators rage against soaring food prices. The food riots were triggered by a sudden 21% increase in the price of maize meal, the country's staple food.

With unemployment at 50% and the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar, real incomes are lower than they were 20 years ago under Ian Smith's Rhodesia.


Over and above all the land handed out to Mugabe's friends and relatives, the government has another million acres available for settlement--but has not distributed any of it.

Zimbabwe announces the purchase of a "back-up" fleet of 50 Mercedes cars costing $3.3 million--the third such purchase in three years. Every cabinet minister already has a Mercedes, not to mention a four-wheel drive for upcountry trips.

90% of Zimbabwean tax revenue is paid out in civil service salaries and debt repayment. One leading economist for Zimbabwe's Chamber of Commerce, John Robertson, describes the country as "teetering on the edge of a major melt-down."




Zimbabwe starts to fall behind in its loan repayments to the IMF

15   In spite of his promises of free land to supporters, voters reject dictator Robert Mugabe's proposals that would have given him even more authoritarian powers, including the right to confiscate private land without compensation.

Almost immediately self-styled "war veterans", many born after 1980, start invading white-owned farms.


2   Squatters seize hundreds more white-owned farms in an ongoing and violent campaign masterminded by Zanu-PF.

31   The UN Committee On Elimination Of Racial Discrimination concluded its fifty-sixth session and "regretted that very little progress had been made in respect to land redistribution in Zimbabwe". It recommended that Zanu-PF "consider the possibility of communal access to commercial farm land"


15 people are seriously injured in the city centre when demonstrating opposition parties clash with Zanu-PF supporters.

6    Zimbabwe's Parliament approves constitutional amendment allowing government to seize white-owned farms -- without compensation -- and redistribute them to landless blacks.

12    Parliament dissolves at midnight ahead of upcoming elections.

13    High Court orders eviction of squatters, but Mugabe orders police not to enforce the order, saying land redistribution was a political, not legal, issue. .

"The courts can do what they want. They are not courts for our people and we shall not even be defending ourselves in these courts" - Dictator Bob Mugabe
14    Robin Cook, the British foreign secretary said the UK would provide cash help for land reform under certain conditions.
"Britain would support a genuine land reform programme which would benefit the rural poor and provide fair compensation to those farmers willing to sell land"
President Mugabe has insisted that the transfer of white-owned land will go ahead, in spite of concerns from Britain and other European countries

15    Occupations turn violent and the killings begin: white farmer David Stevens sought help from officers at the local police station, who did nothing to stop him being abducted and dragged into the bush, where he was tortured and shot. During the trial of his murderers in October 2002 a shocked courtroom was told:

"One of them knelt over Stevens's body and brought a container filled with blood which they mixed with alcohol and shared among themselves."
15    Two opposition party members killed in firebombing.

18    20th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence from Britain; Martin Olds becomes the second white farmer killed when 70 armed militia attacked his farm. Police prevented neighbours to come to his aid and no-one was ever arrested.

19    High Court finds squatter leader Chenjerai Hunzvi guilty of contempt of court for inciting his followers to occupy the white farms after the invasions were declared illegal.

20    I sent a letter to the the South African Government condemning their "quiet diplomacy" that was destined to fail and warned them of the dire consequences for an "African Renaissance"

22    In a private meeting with Mbeki, Mugabe is reported to have agreed to order war veterans to end their occupation of farms, hold free and fair elections and tone down his inflammatory rhetoric.

27    Talks in London between British and Zimbabwean representatives fail to bring resolution.

28    South African Government refers me to the "agreement" as reported 22 April.


2    I pointed out to the government that (amongst other things) their "agreement" has not been honoured and that for Mugabe the total economic destruction of his country is a price he will gladly pay in order to steal another term in office. (The government never replied)

3    Commonwealth rebukes Zimbabwe over farm occupations, violence; Britain imposes export controls.
I write an open letter to the UN, asking them to define racism. I never got any reply.

5    Thabo Mbeki walks around hand-in-hand with Mugabe at the much diminished 20th Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo. Opening the fair Mbeki said:

And so here we are together in Bulawayo, during the month when all of us will celebrate Africa Day, on May 25th, with both of our countries free of the yoke of white minority rule.

As neighbours and peoples who have shared the same trenches in the common struggle for freedom, it is natural that we must now work together to build on the victory of the anti-colonial and anti-racist struggle.

Practically, together we must decide what we have to do, again sharing a common trench of struggle, to address an agenda which includes:

As H.E. President Mugabe has stressed, for us to achieve all these regional objectives, it is necessary that we restructure the institutions of SADC to ensure that it becomes a more effective instrument for real change.

Land dispossession was one of the most iniquitous results of the colonisation of Zimbabwe. As we grew up as activists of our own liberation movement, we knew that among the objectives of our struggle were the repeal of the Land Act in South Africa and the Land Apportionment Act in this country.

Both of our countries, which experienced extensive land dispossession of the indigenous majority by those who colonised our countries, are confronted by the challenge to address this colonial legacy. Our peoples, on both banks of the Limpopo, both black and white, have a responsibility to recognise the fact that the land question constitutes an important part of the national agenda.

Accordingly, they must commit themselves to work together to address this central question, to advance the common good.

To you, the people of Zimbabwe, I would like to convey the message that the overwhelming majority of your brothers and sisters south of the Limpopo, share with you the hope that the land question in Zimbabwe will be addressed successfully.

8    Another white farmer is murdered. At least 19 farmers and opposition supporters have been killed since February. Squatter leader Chenjerai Hunzvi warns farmers with British passports to return to Britain or "go into the ground."

15    Mugabe announces elections set for June 24-25.


In the period leading up to the election, the MDC MP for Kwekwe, Blessing Chebundo, was severely intimidated and his house totally destroyed by fire. Similarly, his campaign manager, Abraham Mtshena, had his family beaten and his house destroyed by fire. One of his sons suffered from burns and had to be hospitalised.

2    Zimbabwe announces immediate start to seizure of more than 800 farms for redistribution; U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan postpones planned visit.

8    High Court refuses opposition request to postpone elections.

19    Patrick Nabanyama, a former member of ZANU-PF, working as a polling agent for the MDC in Bulawayo is abducted by a group of so-called "war veterans". The "war veterans" went to his house and abducted him in the presence of his wife and children. To date his whereabouts remain unknown and he is presumed dead.

22   An Amnesty International mission to Zimbabwe documents widespread human rights violations including arbitrary killings, torture and ill-treatment. These are believed to have caused a pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation which in turn is hampering the rights to freedom of assembly, association, movement and expression.

"The state-sponsored terror that characterized the run-up to the elections should not be allowed to continue," Maina Kiai from Amnesty International said.

"The current climate of terror in Zimbabwe is creating an atmosphere in which free and fair elections are not possible"

24-25    Amid reports of violence, vote-tampering and poll-worker abductions, Zimbabweans go to the polls in record numbers. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change finishes surprisingly strong, dramatically shrinking the ruling ZANU-PF party's majority. Mugabe already changed the constitution giving him the right to undemocratically appoint an additional 30 cronies to parliament. This helps secure a majority.

28    In Kwekwe, an MDC ward chairperson -- Mutyanda Mandishona -- is beaten to death. Edwin Mushoriwa, the MDC MP for the Harare constituency of Dzivarasekwa, and MDC supporters are also beaten by members of the army. At a rally authorized by the police, around 100 MDC supporters were celebrating their election victory when a truckload of soldiers arrived and beat them with rifle butts. At least five MDC supporters were hospitalised.

Now that the elections are over in Zimbabwe, the government must move the country forward by fully investigating the human rights violations in the run up to the elections and bringing the perpetrators to justice, Amnesty International said.

Zimbabwe has a long history of impunity for human rights violations: from the amnesty at independence; through to the unpunished and uninvestigated atrocities in Matabeleland in the 1980s; through to the arbitrary killings, torture and ill-treatment that occurred before the latest elections.

"The scores of victims of arbitrary killings, torture and ill-treatment in the run-up to the election deserve justice. "The vicious circle of impunity that has been common in Zimbabwe before and after independence will only be broken if the new government -- regardless of its composition -- acts promptly."

30    Amnesty International is concerned that Mugabe's history of inciting his followers to violence could lead to retaliation against known or suspected supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition political parties in the aftermath of the parliamentary election, Amnesty International said today.

"Threats of, and actual violence have been the hallmarks of President Mugabe's leadership. The new Zimbabwe after the elections must see a stop to such practises that result in human rights abuses."


18    White farmers in Glendale, a top cotton- and food-producing region, shut down operations in protest of the death threats. More than 30 people have been killed in the violence across Zimbabwe since February.

20    Mugabe swears in new Cabinet.

30    Mugabe announces plan to seize 3,000 farms.


Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state meeting in Malawi direct its the ministers to seek urgent solutions that collectively address the land problem. (See Oct 2001)

2    The Daily News publish evidence of a government assassination plot against Geoffrey Nyarota, its editor-in-chief.

2-3    Massive strike, supported by farmers, labour unions and opposition, paralyses Zimbabwe for a day. In the wake of the strike, Mugabe pledges to remove squatters from farms not slated for redistribution, but denies he did so the following day. White farmers go to court to challenge plan to seize 3,000 farms.

10    Zimbabwe banks shut off new loans to embattled white farmers.

16    Zimbabwe's High Court invalidates all the mail-in votes cast in the June elections. Most were cast by Zimbabwean soldiers aiding the Congolese government in its 2-year civil war.

18    Government adds 229 more farms to redistribution list.


The IMF freeze its Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility resources due to Zimbabwe's failure to honour its commitments.

3   More than half a million farm worker have already lost their jobs and source of income, without gaining any of the redistributed land, the developmental journal Bistandsaktuelt reported.


6   Mugabe grants clemency order of "total amnesty" to every person liable to criminal prosecution, whose guilt or innocence has not been determined by a court, for any politically motivated crime committed during the period 1 January 2000 to 31 July 2000. The amnesty protects perpetrators of human rights abuses who are liable to prosecution for, or are charged with, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm (torture), common assaults, kidnapping and abductions (involving in at least one case a ''disappearance'') in connection with the 12 and 13 February referendum and the 24 and 25 June elections.
Amnesty International challenges the international community to meet its obligations to end impunity and bring to justice those responsible for gross human rights abuses by condemning unambiguously this executive order. ''The international community should expressly acknowledge that the amnesty seriously undermines the obligations of Zimbabwe under international human rights law"
21   Three day of riots in Harare, crushed by the police and army, document the desolate state of affairs in Zimbabwe. They were hunger riots. Reports show that Zimbabwe, due to mismanagement, is well on its way into starvation.

There is no more foreign exchange, fuel has almost run out, foreign aid has been curbed and the bread prices have increased threefold only this year.

25    According to an opinion poll published by the Helen Suzman Foundation, 56 per cent of Zimbabweans want Mugabe to be impeached and 51 per cent believe he should face criminal proceedings for his conduct in office. A remarkable 74 per cent say he should step down.

MDC attempt to impeach Mugabe in parliament in terms of section 29 of the constitution which provides for the removal of the president of Zimbabwe

President Thabo Mbeki says preventing Zimbabwe's economy collapsing completely was more important than criticising Mr Mugabe over land seizures.

"We have to battle to avoid a collapse in Zimbabwe. This conflict is wrong, the taking of land is wrong, abuse of the rule of law is wrong, but the principal focus has to be to avoid collapse."


10   ZIMBABWE'S Supreme Court throws its weight behind the embattled white farmers, declaring Mugabe's "fast track" land seizures "illegal and unconstitutional" . State television studiously ignores the ruling.

Soon after, hundreds of thugs from Mugabe's Zanu-PF thugs stormed the court, dancing behind the judges' benches and chanting: "Kill the judges." Police stood by, and no one was arrested.

21   Zimbabwe, this year, sold a record tobacco crop of 236.8 million kg but will see a much reduced output next year as a result of work stoppages on farms invaded by self-styled "veterans". The total seasonal mass sold was about 236.8 million kg with a value of 19.2 billion Zimbabwe dollars or 350 million US dollars. Although this year's crop is a record high, it could have been higher were it not for disruptions on some tobacco farms by war veterans who invaded tobacco farms and burnt tobacco burns.

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Previous Visitor Comments

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Lady Roots - Over the past few weeks I’ve been watching sdtciyaned re-runs of TV show called "Boston Legal". One of the characters suffers from altzhimers ... but doesn’t want to admit it. So, he tells folks that he has ’mad cow disease’. That is what caused me to make the reference in the blog title. However, you’re probably right ... it is an insult to that disease and all cows everywhere to compare them to this dimwit in the South Carolina statehouse...

c9 bom lembrar, psiocionar os acontecimentos histf3ricos, repor a VERDADE histf3rica.Disse o irf3nico..... Na c1frica do Sul nada aconteceu, em Portugal nada aconteceu, na Rfassia nada aconteceu, na Alemanha nada aconteceu, finalmente, em Moe7ambique tambe9m nada aconteceu? Se o Mundo funcionasse assim, com base em rancores e saudosismos generalizado, talvez ne3o houvesse a dita Comisse3o da Verdade e Reconciliae7e3o. Seria um ajuste de contas eterno. Mas atene7e3o, Mugabe sf3 e9 santo em relae7e3o aquilo que o apodam. Ne3o vejo nenhuma culpa do paeds estar como esste1. Ele herdou um paeds economicamente BEM, mas nas terras jaziam milhares e milhares de zimbabweanos mortos. Nessa altura ningue9m levantou a queste3o. Como ningue9m hoje tem a coragem de levantar este ponto. Para esse grupo de pessoas Mugabe cntinua a ser o mau da fita. Sabem porquea? Por ter tido as coisas no lugar e a coragem de destruir um lee3o indome1vel implantado no paeds. Mesmo Moe7ambique sofreu as mesmas consequeancias quando teve que se bater pela independeancia do paeds. Foi grae7as a Samora Machel que ne3o vendemos o nosso cf4nscio, pelo contre1rio, lutamos.Agora pergunto: OS LEd5ES INDOMc1VEIS SAIRAM Hc1 MUITO TEMPO DO ZIMBABWE, SERc1 QUE O PAcdS ACABOU? c9 DOLOROSO TER QUE DIZER ISSO, MAS OS ACONTECIENTOS NO HAITE Dc3O SONO AO MUGABE, POIS OS Cc3ES RAFEIROS ESTc3O CONCENTRADOS EM VASCULHAR AQUILO QUE RESTOU DOS ESCOMBROS EM DETRIMENTO DE MUGABE, POR ENQUANTO!Um abrae7o

Bem, o que posso mais dizer depois de tanto prtiencoceo? Era sf3 para lembrar que Mugabe e9 o presidente do Zimbabwe. E sere1 eterno herf3i daquele paeds irme3o. O resto, se bem que percebi, se3o frustrae7f5es debitadas por quem se viu impedido de tirar dividendos a custa dos outros. Ne3o e9 por acaso que o combate contra sistemas e ledderes africanos ne3o passa de derrotas, porque o fazem com emoe7e3o e sentido de f3dio. A cor deixou de ser a arma de arremesso para tirar partidos das coisas alheias. Aleluia!!!PS: Ver os arquivos e9 coisa que fae7o. A minha garganta je1 visitou o me9dico umas 12 vezes sf3 neste ano. c9 sinal de que o meu contacto com os livros e9 BOM. Sf3 ainda ne3o fui nesse arquivo que o meu chamuale quer, le1 onde os herf3is se3o pessoas que matam e ganham pre9mios. Mugabe certamente, ne3o sendo um assassino, jamais seria um herf3i, ate9 porque combateu sistema que tinha se implantado feio pulga no Zimbabwe.PS2: Mia Couto quando se informou correu o mundo para dizer a verdade em relae7e3o ao Zimbabwe. Chissano aquem o mundo venera apoia incondicionalmente o Zimbabwe.QUANDO O COLONIALISTA PORTUGUES SAIU DE MOc7AMBIQUE O PAcdS Nc3O DORMIA A FOME. ENTROU A FRELIMO E Jc1 Hc1 FOCOS DE FOME, MAS NEM POR ISSO QUE SE DEVE DIZER QUE SOU A FAVOR DO COLONIALISTA. Esta resposta vai para o Tf3xico que deve mesmo andar tf3xico. Aqui termino, Zicomo

Rhodesia, however, had rlauegr peaceful transfers of power, in which everyone who met certain quite reasonable requirements, requirements that were entirely race neutral, was allowed to vote.British colonies did pretty well under the informal empire, before Queen Victoria was declared empress.The formal empire, after Queen Victoria was proclaimed empress, was a disaster, and decolonization, for example Zimbabwe, an even bigger disaster.The disaster of Zimbabwe was prefigured by the disaster of ending feudalism and slavery in the Ashantee empire, previously one of the best run governments in Black Africa.

I would suppose that ayonne who opposed the intervention in Iraq could not then support intervening in Zimbabwe. Mugabe for all his faults is not in the same league as Saddam when it comes to killing his own people.Then again, as Zimbabwe doesn’t have oil, the Chinese may eventually agree to some form of words from the UN that might allow action to be taken.
JamsThis post shows why I respect you and not some ohetrs. The situation in Zimbabwe has a cause. The cause of this suffering is Marxism. Many on the left pretend that the cause is something else.Mugabbe is a thug who stole property that did not belong to him. He took productive farmland on racial grounds and handed it to cronies. Zimbabwe starves essentially to feed an over sized ego of a tyrant. You are starting to see the start of this in Hugo’s blunder land.There are genuine models of helping the poor without resorting to property theft, class genocide and cult of personality.

Jaco functionality
Iíve now added the comment and voting functionality to this old page as well. So, please feel free to join the debate - the issue is as relevant today as it had been a decade ago. Probably now even more so!

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