Meditation Focus #45

Growing Tide of Violence in Zimbabwe

Web posted on August 18, 2001 for the 2 consecutive weeks
beginning Sunday, August 19, 2001


What follows is the 45th Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, August 19, 2001.


1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
4. Peace Watch for the Middle East
5. Peace Watch for Macedonia


Amidst reports of growing violence in Zimbabwe, it is clearer than ever that ageing President Robert Mugabe (77) is ready to sacrifice the future of his entire country and face harsh international sanctions in his bid to cling to power for as long as he lives. The resulting political crisis has grown worse within the past few days, marked by increasing aggression and violations of law and order. Accounts of extreme human rights abuses as well as widespread looting and destruction of white-owned farms by so-called war veterans are pouring out of the country and there are even plans afoot for a massive evacuation of people of European descent if conditions continue to deteriorate. According to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's economic erosion in the past year has been "drastic", with unemployment at 60 percent and the currency being sharply devalued, while a huge humanitarian crisis is looming next year because the country will have to import food, but don't have the money to pay for it. He also claims that between 350,000 and 400,000 farmworkers have already been displaced. In a country where 1% of mostly white farmers hold nearly half the available agricultural area and the bulk of the fertile land as a result of policies adopted by the former colonial government of Rhodesia to facilitate indirect rule, land reform and a fairer redistribution of agricultural lands have long been a contentious and emotionally-charged issue. Next year's election may prove to be a turning point if democratic rules prevail and outright intimidation and violence are not used once again to deter voters from boothing the Mugabe regime out of power. It is unlikely that such conditions ensuring a fair and free election process will occur without sufficient international pressures and election monitoring. But at the same time, ways must be found to facilitate a gradual transition towards greater economic justice, equitable land reform and a generally more balanced distribution of power among all the people of Zimbabwe - three essential goals that would certainly benefit numerous nations on Earth where similar inequities also prevail.

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to contribute in faciliting the emergence in the hearts and minds of all people involved of the sincere desire to seek only peaceful means to achieve peace, justice and social harmony in Zimbabwe while preventing those who only want to promote and use violence to further have any political legitimacy and thus change or be eliminated in time through the normal democratic process. May Peace prevail in Zimbabwe, for the Highest Good of All.


i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation to the healing of the Earth as a whole. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.

ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.

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This section is for those who wish to understand in more details the situation outlined in this Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognize that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.

Please see also the additional material related to Zimbabwe at
under "One side of the coin on Zimbabwe - and the other side"

... as well as our previous Meditation Focus # 8: Turmoil in Zimbabwe at:



Zimbabwe: a Country Being Wrecked

With the inexorability of a classical tragedy, the southern African country of Zimbabwe seems headed for the abyss. The arrest and imprisonment last week of 21 so-called commercial farmers on charges of inciting to riot spelled a new low for the rule of law, even for Zimbabwe.

The charges are baseless, and the treatment of the white farmers contrasts sharply with the hopes once invested in Zimbabwe as a model case of a democratic transition from minority white domination. Robert Mugabe, known as a pragmatic politician when he took office, turned into just another corrupt head of state. For Zimbabwe, the consequences have been catastrophic.

Now that the Mugabe regime has run out of other options, it attacks the white farmers, the last remaining scapegoat. Under the name of land "redistribution," the only viable part of the economy has been devastated. The people are threatened by hunger. And anyone who criticizes the regime, white or black, faces state retaliation.

All of this is the work of Robert Mugabe, and it is not too much to say that the country has already been wrecked. Nevertheless, in neighboring South Africa and Namibia, voices are to be heard saying that the solution to all problems lies in the expropriation of property held by whites. Where such a policy would lead can be seen in Zimbabwe, but the damage would be incomparably heavier.

16 August 2001 / First published in German, 15 August 2001



Zimbabwe: New moves to airlift 25,000 Britons

(16 August 2001)

As President Robert Mugabe's campaign of terror against white farmers continued yesterday, British and European diplomats in Harare were holding secret talks for possible evacuation of up to 25,000 UK nationals. Amid growing lawlessness and a crackdown on independent journalists, the talks were held to update a contingency plan to help UK nationals and other foreigners escape should their lives be endangered.


Such a massive operation is likely to be attempted only as a last resort. If violence continues to spread, diplomats are initially expected to help inform and advise their nationals of the safest course of action.

Belgium, which took over the rotating presidency of the EU last month, said yesterday that its diplomats have held at least one meeting to review the situation on the ground and update contingency planning.

A Belgian foreign ministry spokesman described the evacuation plan as 'operational', although he added that the large number of EU nationals made it impossible to envisage the imminent departure of the European population. However, he said, it was "normal when a situation worsens in a specific country that the EU embassies would give particular attention to that issue".

In London a foreign office spokesman said: "We really don't think we've reached the stage where large-scale evacuations are in order."

Some 25,000 British nationals are registered with the High Commission, although there may be as many as 40,000 in the country. Other embassies considering evacuation include Canada, which has 500 citizens, and Australia, which has 400. Belgium says only 230 of its nationals are in the country.

As the situation worsened, pressure mounted on the British Government to lead efforts to stop President Robert Mugabe from attending the Commonwealth summit in Brisbane, Australia, in October.

Zimbabwe has made headlines in the international media in the past week over the arrest of 22 white farmers in Chinhoyi after their clashes with illegal settlers on their farms.

The arrests were followed by an orgy of looting by rowdy ruling Zanu-PF party supporters. The Commercial Farmers' Union says nearly $200m worth of property was either looted or destroyed around the Chinhoyi area in Mashonaland, West Province. Police claim that most of the looters were farm workers, but farmers deny this.

Mugabe is also threatened with the possible loss of aid and even sanctions by the EU, which gave him 60 days from June to restore law and order and guarantee that next year's elections would be fair.



Basildon Peta: Bloody civil war is looming in Zimbabwe
(17 August 2001)

The former American Attorney General Ramsey Clark must have captured the essence of any individual's fundamental rights when in 1977 he wrote: "A right is not what someone gives you; it's what no one can take from you."

Clark's words must surely be inspiring some progressive governments in Africa, such as those of South Africa, Mali, Mozambique and Botswana, which have been taking bold steps to move their people towards democracy, openness and accountability in a continent that has been a perennial laggard in this regard.

However, Clark's words must be troubling everyone who had hoped the same for Zimbabwe as its ageing leader, President Robert Mugabe, takes the country back to the dark ages.

For long an oasis of peace and stability in volatile Africa, Zimbabwe now stands on a dangerous knife-edge as President Mugabe (aged 77) is determined to pillage the entire country unless it allows him to remain in charge until the time he will lie on his death bed.

The harsh tone of Mr Mugabe's speeches has proved beyond any doubt that he would use whatever weapon was at his disposal to stay in power. In fact, as the prominent analyst Masipula Sithole said recently: "Those who think he [Mugabe] is joking when he vows not to relinquish power are themselves joking."


The greatest fear among Zimbabweans now is that, given the tone of Mugabe's speeches and actions, next year's presidential elections could be merely an academic exercise, with no significance in terms of real change of power in Zimbabwe.

Mr Mugabe's thinking – that he was ordained to rule Zimbabwe forever – has also gripped the top hierarchy of his ruling party. The thinking in his party is now clear: either Zanu-PF and Mr Mugabe continue to rule, or Zimbabwe will be whittled down to ashes, as the world has seen happening in Somalia and Sierra Leone.

Although Mr Mugabe has remained largely undeterred by international threats of sanctions against his regime, some analysts believe the that the international community should not relent in piling up pressure on the beleaguered Zimbabwean leader to get him to respect human rights.



Mugabe's opponents 'raped and tortured'
(Saturday 18 August, 2001)

"The accounts of human rights abuses ... are terrifying, sickening and horrific"

Tony Blair was under increasing pressure to take action against Zimbabwe yesterday after harrowing new evidence of torture and human rights abuses was uncovered. The Conservatives condemned as shameful the continued silence of Labour ministers as white farmers reported horrific acts committed under President Mugabe's regime. Graphic details of rape and torture were sent to the Foreign Office at the beginning of the week in an e-mail from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, a coalition of lawyers and charities, pleading for action. They were made public yesterday by the Conservatives, who accused the Government of ignoring the plea.

The new evidence emerged as the ordeal of 21 white farmers in a lice-ridden jail in Zimbabwe's small northern town of Chinhoyi looked set to drag on to a full fortnight after a judge failed to reach a decision on bail. A High Court judge, Rita Makarau, was to have delivered her ruling yesterday morning, but instead told lawyers that she would postpone judgment until Monday. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum detailed attacks with whips, chains, batons, electricity, water and fire. Melted plastic was used to burn victims' bodies, including their genitals, and others were subjected to horrific sex attacks. The victims were not only white farmers, but also anyone suspected of not supporting the Mugabe regime, it said.

Francis Maude, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, called for Mr Blair to take a lead in trying to get Zimbabwe expelled from the Commonwealth. "The accounts of human rights abuses ... are terrifying, sickening and horrific," he said.




Swazi king hammers Mugabe over land grab

We felt that what our colleague is doing was beyond the premises of democracy, and he has to be stopped" Ludzidzini, Swaziland

In an unusually open criticism of one regional leader by another, Swaziland's King Mswati III said this week that he and other leaders of the Southern African Development Community had to stop Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's undemocratic seizure of white-owned farmland.


Denmark froze all aid to the Zimbabwean government on Thursday after accusing Mugabe of fomenting strife within his troubled state. Danish Co-operation Minister Anita Bay Bundegaard said the decision had been taken in the light of the "political crisis which has grown worse within the past few days, marked by increasing aggression and violations of law and order, which the president appears to be knowingly fomenting rather than combating".




Come home to vote Mugabe out, MDC asks exiles
(Saturday 18 August, 2001)

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged millions of his compatriots living in South Africa to come home in time to vote in next year's presidential elections. CLIP

Tsvangirai described Zimbabwe's economic erosion in the past year as "drastic", with unemployment at 60 percent and the currency being sharply devalued - 300 Zimbabwe dollars now equals one US dollar. "We will also be facing a huge humanitarian crisis next year because we'll have to import food and we won't have the money to pay for it."

Tsvangirai had harsh words to say about Mugabe's much-criticised land policy. "Commercial agriculture, the basis of our economy, is being destroyed. You don't need to rape, kill and maim to implement land reform." Tsvangirai said between 350,000 and 400,000 farmworkers had already been displaced and many would in all likelihood not find their way back on to farms. He said most farmers would also have to start from scratch. "But for now our first priority is that people are safe. Farmers should evacuate their farms rather than sacrifice their lives for a house." In spite of the anarchy and chaos, Tsvangirai believes there is hope. "Change in Zimbabwe is irreversible, whether Mugabe likes it or not."



Land Tenure Reform and Rural Livelihoods In Southern Africa - review of land tenure reform on communal land against the background of the repossession of private land occupied by white settlers. Focuses on S. Africa and neighboring countries. From the Overseas Development Institute.


Tenure reform in the context of land reform in the region

In all countries of southern Africa which have experienced enforced land alienation at the hands of Europeans, the repossession of alienated land by African citizens remains a central national and agrarian objective. Land acquisition for redistribution and restitution has been given priority. Tenure reform in the CAs has had to take second place to the redistribution of white farms. So dominant is the imperative to repossess land, that insufficient attention has been devoted to post-settlement planning and support. Thus the livelihoods and the land rights of incoming settlers have too often remained insecure.

Tenure reform is, in most cases, a complex and uncertain undertaking. The economic and other benefits flowing from it are difficult to predict, and the necessary administrative costs therefore difficult to justify. It invariably threatens powerful vested interests: land owners and commercial farmers on private land; and traditional leaders or other structures in the CAs. Yet, the costs of taking no action may be high. For local people, tenure reform may be a more acceptable and realistic measure than participation in some far-off government settlement project. However, measures to tackle insecurity of tenure in the CAs should not be seen as a substitute for land redistribution, but a complementary measure by which tenure reform can be linked to the acquisition and settlement of neighbouring private land.


Zimbabwe inherited a highly skewed pattern of land distribution, with 1% of farmers holding nearly half the available agricultural area and the bulk of the fertile land. How far the tenure system in the CAs is indigenous or was created by the colonial government, to facilitate indirect rule, has been much debated.




Land Reform: New Seeds On Old Ground? - explains land reform, "the redistribution of property or rights in land for the benefit of the landless, tenants and farm labourers," and examines reform efforts around the world. From the Overseas Development Institute.


Zimbabwe: the non-market vs. quasi-market debate

At Independence in 1980 targets were established for the resettlement of 162,000 families on 9 million ha of land. Up to 1989, 3.3 million ha were redistributed to some 54,000 settler families, including 0.5 million ha of commercial sector land. Over 80% of the land had been acquired by 1983/84 on the 'willing-buyer-willing-seller' basis required by the Constitution. Resettlement slowed because government had difficulty meeting the high prices to continue acquiring land on this basis.

The 1992 Amendment to the Constitution and the 1992 Land Acquisition Act aimed, among other things, at strengthen-ing government's hand in acquiring 5.0 million ha of land from commercial farmers for resettlement. The Act called for a number of non-market solutions: e.g. land valuation procedures to replace the 'willing-buyer-willing-seller' provision in deter-mining purchase price; limits on the number of farms owned, on farm size, on absentee landlords and on foreign ownership; and for 'designated' areas for land acquisition and resettlement.


See also...
A storm worsens - What can outsiders do about Zimbabwe?,,248-2001282562,00.html
Crushing the country, not just the farmers

4. Peace Watch for the Middle East

Here are the latest developments in the Middle East. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.


World Pushes Israel, Palestinians to End Violence (Thursday August 16)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - World leaders are pressing Israel and the Palestinians to end 11 months of bloodshed as Palestinians make a new push to have foreign observers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip despite Israeli and U.S. opposition. But Israel warned that its army was preparing for a ''protracted battle'' if peace talks could not be resumed.




Israelis predict five years of carnage

Israeli military planners are predicting the conflict with the Palestinians could last for years and may escalate into a Middle East war.

The general staff of the Israeli Army believes that violent confrontation with the Palestinians may continue until 2006 - the full period covered by the five-year strategic assessment being prepared for the country's top commander, Lieutenant-General Shaul Mofa.

According to the report, quoted yesterday by the Hebrew newspaper Ha'aretz, the best Israel can hope for is to negotiate a lull in the violence but even this is unlikely.

The army's assessment paper says the conflict could broaden into a regional war either through a major escalation in fighting with the Palestinians or confrontation along the northern border with the Islamic guerilla fighter group in Lebanon, the Hezbollah (Party of God) and neighbouring Syria.

According to the report, the ability of Palestinian leader Mr Yasser Arafat to implement a ceasefire will weaken because of the growing power of radical Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and he may even lose control completely.

Amid growing international concerns over the escalating Middle East violence, the United States President, Mr George Bush, spoke by telephone on Thursday with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr Ariel Sharon, but the two differed over the best strategy to end the violence.

A White House spokesman said the two leaders had agreed on the need to avoid further escalating the conflict. But a statement issued by Mr Sharon's office said Israel was preparing for a "protracted battle".

Israel's Defence Minister, Mr Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, attempted to play down the official assessment of his generals that there might be a regional war. At the same time he acknowledged that the conflict with the Palestinians "is a problem that does not seem to have a solution in the foreseeable future".

Israel's most respected military commentator, Mr Ze'ev Schiff, accused the army of "turning back the clock" to the 1950s, when retaliatory raids against Arab countries were an accepted part of Israel's defensive strategy.

Writing in Ha'aretz, he warned that if such raids continued against Palestinian towns and the number of Palestinian casualties rose "the situation will continue to deteriorate until it finally reaches all-out war".

Other analysts also issued gloomy forecasts.

Dr Yezid Sayigh, an Anglo-Palestinian academic, predicted that the conflict would last at least until the end of this year and probably through 2002. Writing in Survival - a publication for the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies - Dr Sayigh said the Palestinian uprising that began last September had caused Israeli society to shift to the Right. To reverse the trend would require "discipline and vision". He said Mr Arafat would have to act "in a manner alien to him" to end the conflict.



Sharon's Popularity Plunges as Violence Rises
(Friday August 17)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israelis are losing faith in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites)'s ability to end nearly 11 months of conflict with the Palestinians, according to an opinion poll published Friday.

The Gallup poll for the Maariv newspaper showed 70 percent of respondents did not believe the right-wing former general, dubbed ``Mr. Security'' by his supporters, would succeed in halting Palestinian violence, up 29 points from the previous survey.

Just over half the respondents said Sharon was using too little force to quell the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation that flared in September after peace moves stalled.


Despite the evidence that over half of respondents believed Sharon was using too little force against Palestinians, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, an aide to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, said Israelis were becoming convinced that military means could not produce security.

``The Israeli public has started to realize that a military solution is impossible and that their security will not be achieved by suppressing another people,'' he told Reuters.

Labor dove Yossi Beilin, an architect of the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords and minister in Barak's cabinet, said more Israelis had been killed under Sharon than under Barak.

``I would be worried, if I were Sharon, about my support,'' Beilin said. ``Not all Israelis are stupid, and they understand that he sold them some non-existent merchandise about security.''

About 680 people have been killed since September, including more than 500 Palestinians and about 150 Israelis.


Full coverage on the Middle East

5. Peace Watch for Macedonia

Here are the latest developments in Macedonia. Please also keep this situation in mind during your meditations in the coming two weeks to help ensure that peace prevail there as well.


UK Nato troops begin Macedonian mission
(Saturday, 18 August, 2001)

A small French contingent arrived on Friday evening Foreign troops just arrived in Macedonia have started a fact-finding mission to see if it is safe enough for Nato to send in thousands of soldiers to collect weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels.

Contingents of British, French and Czech troops arrived in Skopje on Friday night to assess the situation and determine whether the shaky ceasefire between Macedonian security forces and the rebels is holding.

If the British-led force of more than 400 troops, is satisfied with what it finds, Nato is due to deploy its main contingent of 3,500 soldiers to collect the arms within a 30-day timeframe.

More of the troops are expected to join the mission over the weekend.

No disarmament yet

The commander of the British troops, Brigadier Barney White-Spunner, repeated that the mission was not to disarm the rebels.

"We can only do our job with the full commitment and support of everybody in Macedonia," he said. "We are not here on a disarmament mission. We are not here on a peacekeeping mission."

The Macedonian Government welcomed the arrival of Nato troops, saying the alliance should use the opportunity to prove to the world that it was acting in the interests of peace and stability.

But as fresh bloodshed on the ground cast doubt on the mission's chances of success, Nato's ruling council put off until next week a final decision on deployment of the full force.

The handing over of rebel weapons is a key part of the agreement between Macedonian leaders and ethnic Albanian politicians designed to end a six-month guerrilla insurgency that has raised fears of another Balkan war

The BBC's Jacky Rowland in Skopje says that nobody expects the rebels to surrender all their guns, but that they will need to give up several thousand weapons for it to be a meaningful gesture.

Common goal

In Friday's violence, a 70-year-old man reportedly died in clashes, hours after a Macedonian policeman had been killed by rebel gunfire in the town of Tetovo.

Macedonian Government spokesman Antonio Milososki said Nato would help Macedonia overcome its crisis, but added that the troops' presence should not be interpreted as a step towards Macedonia's partition.

"Nato has to send a clear signal to those who want to create a little Kosovo that this will not be permitted," he said.

The alliance has been stressing that the full operation will only be launched if the ceasefire holds.

Advance party

Over the weekend, the newly-arrived troops will be joined by more than 350 other British personnel, who will work on establishing the force's headquarters in Skopje.

Despite misgivings in some Nato countries, most now appear willing to take part in the full mission provided there is a durable ceasefire between government forces and the rebels.

Weighing risks

Nato ambassadors in Brussels have been weighing up the risks of moving quickly into an unstable country against the dangers of a further deterioration in the situation while they wait. If the advance guard decide that conditions are not appropriate, the Nato mission will be abandoned and the rest of the troops will not be sent.

However, BBC correspondents say that momentum is building and it will be hard to change course now. The plan is that the rebels will collect their own weapons and deposit them at pre-arranged collection sites. Nato troops will then move in, seal the area, pick up the guns for destruction in a third country and leave.



Macedonians Block Border Road in Anti-West Protest
(Saturday August 18)

BLACE, Macedonia (Reuters) - Macedonian nationalists blockaded the main road to neighboring Yugoslavia on Saturday, vowing to prevent NATO forces from using their main supply route to Kosovo unless Western powers met a long list of demands.

The protest, staged by a hardline group opposed to Western efforts to broker an end to a six-month Albanian guerrilla revolt, stopped traffic several miles south of the Blace border crossing, denying NATO peacekeepers' vehicles access.


About 100 people have been killed and 125,000 displaced by sporadic fighting since the NLA surfaced in February.


See also:

Full coverage by the BBC of the Macedonia crisis

In-depth coverage about Macedonia

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