Skip to comments.Zimbabwe's first lady grabs luxury farm - Personally evicts farm couple
Posted on 08/28/2002 12:33:53 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Grace Mugabe came here last week, but her visit had nothing to do with promoting literacy, health care or any other official duties that come with being Zimbabwe's first lady.
Instead, Mugabe came to personally evict White farmers John and Eva Matthews, a septuagenarian couple who own the sprawling 2,500-acre Iron Mask Estate.
Witnesses said Mugabe--who was accompanied by senior army officers, government officials and young toughs from her husband's ruling party--told the couple that they had 48 hours to vacate their farm or be arrested.
"I'm taking over this farm," witnesses quoted the first lady as saying.
Mugabe's husband, President Robert Mugabe, has promised that his planned confiscation of white farms will benefit thousands of landless Black Zimbabweans, but so far senior Cabinet ministers, top army officials and the president's relatives and friends appear to be among the big beneficiaries.
During the last two weeks, Mugabe's security forces have arrested about 200 of an estimated 2,900 white commercial farmers who have defied the government's Aug. 8 deadline to leave their land without compensation.
With southern Africa already struggling with man-made and natural challenges including bad weather, disease and corruption, analysts say Mugabe's land grabs are endangering about 6 million Zimbabweans--nearly half the country's population. Millions of poor Zimbabweans now need international food aid to survive.
As the United States and other donors send shipments of corn to feed starving Zimbabweans, top U.S. and British officials say they want to work with the international community--particularly Zimbabwe's African neighbors--to isolate Mugabe, who they say rigged polls earlier this year to win reelection. Western governments oppose the land seizures, which are often violent and chaotic.
Mugabe says he is simply trying to address injustices of the colonial era, when Blacks were driven off the most fertile land to make way for white farmers. He is expected to square off with Western officials this week at a United Nations summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mugabe's opponents are also waiting for him in Johannesburg. On Monday, about 100 supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which is usually barred in Zimbabwe from holding such protests, chanted anti-Mugabe slogans in front of a convention center where the summit is being held. Protesters waved placards declaring: "Mugabe is an election thief" and "Mugabe is starving his own people."
"Mugabe argues land for the poor, but it's a lie," said MDC spokesman Moses Mzila-Ndlovu. "It's about power."
Over the weekend, Mugabe reshuffled his Cabinet to replace a leading dissenter, Finance Minister Simba Makoni, who has sharply challenged the president on how to rescue the country's stricken economy. Makoni advocated devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar after Black market exchange rates soared to more than 10 times the frozen official rate and annual inflation topped 120%.
Mugabe responded angrily that people who wanted currency devaluation were "saboteurs."
Devaluation would have benefited mainly gold and tobacco exporters, who would have been able to sell their products at more favorable prices, according to Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairman of the South Africa Institute for International Affairs.
"But Mugabe is out to destroy the tobacco farmers, and the exchange rate is only one of the mechanisms he's using," said Mbeki, the brother of South African President Thabo Mbeki.
On Monday, the U.S. State Department dismissed Mugabe's reshuffle, saying there was nothing he could do to repair his credibility.
The Matthewses reared cattle, and planted tobacco, corn and soybeans on their property in Mazowe until two years ago. Members of Mugabe's ruling party who are also veterans of the war for Black majority rule, which ended with the establishment of Zimbabwe in 1980, invaded the property and stopped all farming.
The Matthewses' wooded estate, with its 29-room farmhouse, two swimming pools and fertile land--remained one of the most coveted farms in the lush Mazowe area, a 30-minute drive north of Harare, the Zimbabwean capital.
When Grace Mugabe visited the farm last week, she saw sweeping vistas of trees displaying spring leaves ranging from pale pink to burgundy to bronze, on rolling woodlands that met the big African sky in the distance.
Eva Matthews bought the farm with her first husband 35 years ago and raised her three children there.
Last week, the army officers who came with Grace Mugabe told the Matthewses to find alternative accommodation as the first lady would be moving in shortly.
When a Black farm worker who had been employed by the Matthewses asked what would happen to him, the first lady replied: "Go and live by the river over there," according to farm workers who asked that their identities not be revealed for fear of retribution.
During the weekend, the Matthewses auctioned their remaining 135 head of cattle for about $50,000. Half the money will be used to pay benefits to the farm's 15 workers. Eva Matthews said she and her husband will use the remainder to start a new life. They are moving to a small apartment they own in Harare.
"She is getting a wonderful home with everything," Eva Matthews said of Grace Mugabe. "It looks rather ordinary from the front, but it is huge. When the children were at home, we used it all. We rather let the garden go at the end, but it was so colorful."
Grace Mugabe, the president's former secretary, has a reputation among many people as a profligate shopper. Before the European Union imposed travel bans on dozens of the Zimbabwean president's friends, relatives and cronies, numerous news reports said she frequently used state-owned Air Zimbabwe to go to London and Paris on lavish shopping jaunts.
Opposition groups and commercial farmers charge that her brother, a former envoy to Canada, used youth members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party to chase away the owner and about 200 workers and their families from a farm in the Glendale district, a two-hour drive northwest of Harare. They say that the president's sister, Sabina, lives on a confiscated farm 80 miles west of Harare.
A list prepared by Justice for Agriculture, a new lobbying group for white farmers, says that about 200 army officers, influential businessmen and senior ZANU-PF members are the new owners of formerly white-owned farms.
Government officials say the eviction of 2,900 of the 3,500 White farmers will be almost completed by the end of this month.
About a third of the 3,500 white farmers who were productive before land seizures began in February 2000, are still on their farms, but many of them have been prevented from growing crops. More than 600 were evicted immediately after presidential elections in March, and several hundred more since the Aug. 8 deadline.
At this time of year, the roads leading north and west of Harare usually are lined with wheat fields. But this year, travelers drive through fields covered with weeds and thousands of felled trees.
Environmentalists say settlers have cut down trees to sell wood for food, leading to serious deforestation. Some estimates suggest that about 50% of wildlife on private land--among them zebra, giraffe and cheetah--have also been slaughtered for food.
Staff writer Maharaj reported from Nairobi, Kenya, and special correspondent Thornycroft from Mazowe.
The perils of designer tribalism***Part of what makes The Tears of the White Man such an important book is Bruckner's sensitivity to the aerodynamics of liberal guilt. He understands what launches it, what keeps it aloft, and how we might lure it safely back to earth. He understands that the entire phenomenon of Third Worldism is fueled by the moral ecstasy of overbred guilt. Bruckner is an articulate anatomist of such guilt and its attendant deceptions and mystifications. "An overblown conscience," he points out, "is an empty conscience."
Compassion ceases if there is nothing but compassion, and revulsion turns to insensitivity. Our "soft pity," as Stefan Zweig calls it, is stimulated, because guilt is a convenient substitute for action where action is impossible. Without the power to do anything, sensitivity becomes our main aim, the aim is not so much to do anything, as to be judged. Salvation lies in the verdict that declares us to be wrong.
The universalization-which is to say the utter trivialization-of compassion is one side of Third Worldism. Another side is the inversion of traditional moral and intellectual values. Europe once sought to bring enlightenment-literacy, civil society, modern technology-to benighted parts of the world. It did so in the name of progress and civilization. The ethic of Third Worldism dictates that yesterday's enlightenment be rebaptized as today's imperialistic oppression. For the committed Third Worldist, Bruckner points out,
salvation consists not only in a futile exchange of influences, but in the recognition of the superiority of foreign thought, in the study of their doctrines, and in conversion to their dogma. We must take on our former slaves as our models. . . . It is the duty and in the interest of the West to be made prisoner by its own barbarians.
Whatever the current object of adulation- the wisdom of the East, tribal Africa, Aboriginal Australia, pre-Columbian America -the message is the same: the absolute superiority of Otherness. The Third Worldist looks to the orient, to the tribal, to the primitive not for what they really are but for their evocative distance from the reality of modern European society and values.***
Zimbabwe: Democracy's Dimming- Busani Bafana World Press Review Correspondent [Full Text] Harare - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is not brushing up his valedictory speech after all. He fed it into the State House shredder in April when he announced that come Zimbabwe's 2002 elections, his name will again be on the ballot. The president's announcement that he will not hand over the baton to others-as Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Jerry Rawlings in Ghana, and Ketumile Masire in Botswana have done-is widely regarded as a blow to democracy.
"To say that the rule of law and democracy in Zimbabwe are gravely imperiled by the government-as stated by the International Bar Association-is a gross understatement that needs no amplification," said the independent weekly Financial Gazette of Harare (May 2).
Harare's privately owned Daily News had no sweet words about Mugabe's bid for another presidential term either. "Mugabe himself has felt it is necessary to explain why he feels he ought to stand for president next year: He wants to see through his controversial and bloody land-reform program. This suggests that even he felt he had been in the saddle long enough-21 years-with precious little to show for it," said the Daily News (May 28).
Mugabe's plan to celebrate his 83rd birthday at the State House means that the days of press freedom are numbered if government fast-tracks its planned Freedom of Information Bill. The bill, whose details are still sketchy, would regulate the operations of all media in Zimbabwe with a stringent accreditation system. It would also bar foreign investment in the media and set up a Media Complaints Council.
"It is increasingly becoming clear that there is a tendency not to involve civil society in the drafting of legislation in Zimbabwe. Media stakeholders cannot afford not to have their input considered in the Freedom of Information Bill," said Raashweat Mukundu, information officer for the Media Institute of Southern Africa's Zimbabwe chapter, in a paper published in May. "Media stakeholders expect the bill to open up the environment in which the media is operating rather than muzzle the same."
However, judging by the recent statements of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, it would be easy to think that the bill is already an act of parliament. Daily News editor Geoff Nyarota faces charges under a criminal defamation law because his paper reported on a lawsuit brought against Mugabe in a U.S. court for human-rights violations. Furthermore, Harare's oppposition weekly Zimbabwe Independent had to sue for a court order barring Moyo from blocking the paper's coverage of a suit against him by the Ford Foundation for misappropriation of funds.
"The crackdown on press freedom...is a clumsy response to the role independent newspapers have played in exposing the villainy of a regime that...is now attempting to beat the opposition and civil society into submission," said the Zimbabwe Independent. (May 11). "It won't happen....Zimbabweans have voted not only for democracy but also, in the pattern of their purchases, for a press that keeps them informed." [End]
Mugabe terrorized his way to another term.
Birds of a feather flock together. Racism is used to incite but total control under communism is the real aim and issue.
Well if they were white and they were taking over black farms. . . . . . . .It would last about 5 min
Get real. They are demons from hell.
This is evil and selfishness that tanks with the worst.
....... 100 commandos from Europe could take them out
That's how it works now in America. Leave the people out their working and just steal a growing share of the fruits of their labor.
She can't be responsible for the failure of every undercapitalized farm in Zimbabwe.
You are the best, Mrs. C...;^)
WRONG... learn to read.
Here is the quote for you from the above article, you obviously did not read:
"During the weekend, the Matthewses auctioned their remaining 135 head of cattle for about $50,000. Half the money will be used to pay benefits to the farm's 15 workers. Eva Matthews said she and her husband will use the remainder to start a new life. They are moving to a small apartment"
SELLING THE CATTLE for cash, is a perfect example of people LIQUIDATING AN ASSET. You obviously did not understand me.
I don't have time for stupid little word games and snipes and insults... so I will ignore them...
Perhaps, it would do you some good to actually read the article about the Matthews, and difficult concepts like "liquidating assets" and communistic concepts of "wealth redistribution" before you post a snotty response to a post you don't understand and make an utter fool of yourself...
If you don't think we have wealth distribution in this nation, by force... think again. Look at your paycheck if you get one, or, are you on the public dole? They take money from one person who has it, and give it to another, after taking out a hefty chunk for themselves.
In this nation, we call it social spending and taxation. "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" (K. Marx and F. Engels, Complete Works,vol. 19, p. 20)...
The majority of politicos who espoused this theory of the moral correctness of wealth redistribution, became the majority in the former Russia... and it was all legal, in fact they voted for it time and time and time again... the leader of this political philosophy...
AKA Karl Marx....
Wealth redistribution is evil whether in soviet russia, zimbabwe, or the good ole usa...
Income tax and other such taxes, are NOT the same thing as as what's going on with this massive land grab, in Zimbabwe. I HATE Marxists and redistribution of wealth. Impugning my status ( foolishly so) doesn't validate your pathetic stab at refutation. Perhaps, if you kept up, with world wide current events, instead of unsuccessfully attempting to sound erudite and clever, you'd have understood my post. :-)
I was thinking the same thing ... just destroy everyone and everything that gets in her way ..
Isn't there an international RICO statute these felons are violating? Good Lord...
If these were whites taking land away from productive black farmers and causing a famine, would the UN and US be sending food aid over no questions asked, no demands?
Btw, I think this must be the actual aid situation. The US sends food to the UN and they send it to Mugabe and then the US sends more food to Mugabe.