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Zimbabwe: Current Issues - page 14 / 19





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on grounds of publishing a “false statement” alleging that Zimbabwe police vehicles had been used in the looting in the Chinoyi area. A court had overturned this charge and ordered the four released.

On August 10, 21 white farmers from Chinoyi in northern Zimbabwe were charged with assaulting resettled black farmers on August 6 and were remanded in custody. The farmers maintained that they had acted in self defense. Several white-owned farms around Chinoyi were looted and burned following the incident, and many whites fled the region, although the situation had reportedly eased by August 13.

Abuja Agreement

In September 2001, the Zimbabwe government agreed to attend a Commonwealth- sponsored summit on the situation, to be held in Abuja, capital of Nigeria. Leaders in southern Africa, who fear that the Zimbabwe crisis is discouraging investment and tourism throughout the region, had strongly urged Zimbabwe to attend, as did Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. Under an agreement concluded on September 7, Zimbabwe committed itself to implementing land reform in a fair, just, and sustainable manner, with “due regard to human rights, rule of law, transparency, and democratic principles.” In exchange for this

pledge, Britain understood that

committed to providing the funds would be used to







compensate white farmers whose land was taken.

Leaders of southern Africa sought to consolidate the Abuja agreement by coming to Harare the following week to insist that it be implemented. Pressure on Mugabe from Malawi President Bakili Muluzi, chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and from President Mbeki, was reportedly intense. It was agreed that SADC would set up a special ministerial task force to monitor implementation of the agreement. In subsequent weeks, however, violence continued to be reported on occupied farms, and there were some reports of new farm invasions by militants. On October 2, 2001, the Zimbabwe Supreme Court, reversing its earlier course, issued a ruling permitting the government to continue with the redistribution of white-owned land. Analysts speculated that the ruling would allow the government to claim that it was indeed respecting the rule of law, as required by Abuja. Government critics argued that the decision resulted from previous government interference with an independent judiciary.

Other Current Issues

The Economy

Zimbabwe has great economic potential in view of its rich endowment of land, mineral wealth, tourism potential, and relatively high standards of education. However, the economy has performed poorly for years. GNP per capita, estimated at $920 in 1990, had fallen to $530 in 1999, according to World Bank data. The rate of growth in GDP fell to 1.5% in 1998, stood at zero in 1999, and fell by 4.5% in 2000, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. A GDP decline of 6.5% is projected for 2001. The unemployment rate is estimated at 60%, and more than 60% of the population reportedly lives in poverty. (BBC report, July 24, 2001.) The annualized rate of inflation in July 2001 was estimated at 70%,


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