Farmers from Mozambique and South Africa
Adotei Akwei, Director of Advocacy for Africa, Amnesty International
This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.
JEFF MARTIN: This is Common Ground, a program on world affairs and the people who
shape events. In this edition of Common Ground, a report from southern Mozambique where an
experiment between former enemies is underway.
IAN PELZER: We are here to help the people, to learn the people, not just agriculture, but
the financing aspect of it.
MARTIN: And then later in this program, even as the world has decided to establish a
permanent International Criminal Court, one of the ad hoc tribunals that is working on the 1994
genocide in Rwanda, is coming under intense criticism.
ADOTEI AKWEI: You do not create a body in Arusha and then just leave it to itself.
Especially when there’s no, there’s very little precedent for establishing a tribunal anywhere,
let alone in Africa. We needed more engagement: managerial, political, financial. But in
particular managerial engagement to make this thing work.
MARTIN: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape
events. I’m Jeff Martin.
Is this a case of integration in action? Today, white Afrikaner farm families from South Africa
are heading north to Niassa, the poorest province in Mozambique. They bring with them a different
language and culture, causing fear and suspicion among peasant farmers in the region. In this
report two farmers, one a white Afrikaner and the other a Mozambiquean villager, meet to discuss
how they can live together in an integrated society which benefits both of them.
ANNOUNCER: Many wars ravage Africa. But in the South a small experiment to rebuild is
under way. White Afrikaner farmers from South Africa have trekked to Niassa province in
Mozambique to establish large commercial farms. Both governments have given support to the
program. But the local people have their way of doing things and there own interests to protect.
Can both communities work side-by-side for the common good?
[sounds of a baby crying and water being drawn from a well, followed by sounds of a small
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] I saw the plane arrive. At first it was a
novelty. I didn’t know that a high-level delegation was arriving from South Africa. [sounds of
people talking] The delegation that arrived today have come to look at the issues facing the
South Africans with regards to setting themselves up here in the province of Niassa.
ANNOUNCER: Paolino Juma Paolo, a Mozambiquean from Niassa province, contemplates the
arrival to his province of white farmers from South Africa, the country which once helped to
aggravate conflict amongst these people. In 1983 Paolino left his home to study agriculture in
socialist East Germany. But when he returned he found an impoverished and scarred land. He has
spent the last ten years helping to rebuild the country using some of the skills and knowledge he
learned during his studies overseas. He is a respected leader in the Niassa, where he lives with
his wife and children. And he now has new foreign neighbors. But how much does he know about
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] I’ve never spoken to them. My friends
have. And they say they have some experimental fields where they are trying out different types
of crops and multiplying varieties. And I think they are open to cooperation. They haven’t come
to take the land from anyone. They’ll work in areas where they will work and not in areas where
people already farm.
IAN PELZER: We are here because of the climate, because of the soil, because of many
things. It is more agricultural-friendly land than South Africa. We are here also to make money.
We are here to help the people, to learn the people about, not, not, not, just agriculture, but
the financing aspect of it. Also, the agri-industries. When we get a start here, it will follow.
The long-term idea is we’re Africans. We’re not South Africans, we’re not Mozambiqueans at this
stage. We’re Africans. Most of us still have got our farms in South Africa and they will stay
ANNOUNCER: Ian Pelzer is one of the white farmers who have come to Niassa from South
Africa. Part of the deal is that the Afrikaners teach agricultural skills to the local people,
who are subsistence farmers. But given the recent history of South African involvement in the
Mozambiquean civil war, is it really possible for the two groups to work together?
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] I think the impact can be both positive
and negative. Positive if a thousand or so families, or 500 or so, come here with the objective
of living in harmony with people here. But if they come with their tradition of how they are or
how they were there, in their own country, if they are brutal and disrespectful towards their
equals, then it will have a negative impact.
ANNOUNCER: Paolino hopes that the South African newcomers will not exploit the local
Mozambiquean farmers or disrupt their small farms called “Mashambas,” which they work with basic
tools. [sound of tools being used in farm fields] He has worked hard to teach local people to
live off the land and claim it as their own.
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] I’m part of Nuclei de Terra, a group of
various NGO’s in Niassa. Nuclei de Terra has various objectives. One is to prepare the
people—the rural communities and the population in general of Niassa—to understand the land
laws so that we can try to prevent future land conflicts. In future, there could be conflicts
over land because the South Africans and others with technology, might try and take over vast
areas of land. I tried to explain that everyone has their own land and that people will need to
cooperate and prepare so that there is harmony between them and those that come.
[sound of children singing]
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] The Boers way of working is a bit
sophisticated. We work in a much more basic way. So, their experience can be useful to us in
terms of increasing production capacity. Also, our experience can be useful, because we know how
to farm this land without sophisticated and mechanized equipment.
[sound of children singing]
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] Like that mama who is working with the
inshada, the hoe, there is your big difference. There is a big contrast between them and
[sound of baby crying and water being drawn from a well]
ANNOUNCER: Apart from very different ways of working the land, there’s also a worry that
the new commercial farms, by employing large numbers of local men, will disrupt family-based
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] One aspect that must be looked at is that
the women will stay at home and work on their land. Whereas the men must realize that with the
big farms that the South Africans want to establish they will need a lot of manual labor. So
these men will be more involved in these activities, perhaps putting strain on their own
obligations to their families.
[sound of small airplane engine]
PELZER: We are from Africa. And we know how all the people think and how to work with the
people. And I can tell you, you can ask them, they will tell you, that they, for the first time
in their lives, they are getting paid. They are getting paid each and every week. So we are not
here to pressurize them or to make them to work. We are here to help them, to learn to them, how
to work. They haven’t worked for years and years and this is first time ever in their
lives—some of them—ever in their lives, started working. Earning money. Doing some physical
[sound of chicken clucking]
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] If the South Africans’ way of working can
be adapted to the communities, there will be cooperation and we can all learn. But if they come
here with the idea of isolating themselves, then I’m sorry, no one is going to benefit except
PELZER: The Mozambiquean people are very friendly, very helpful on this stage. We won’t
inbreed with them. We will carry on as we have carried on all the years. We will help them and we
will mix with them. But out culture will stay with us. But we won’t place our culture onto them.
And by doing that then you, there won’t start any friction between the groups.
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] I lived and suffered the war. Now people
remember that past, a terrible past. And many hope this doesn’t happen again. Many have been hurt
and need to be healed and allow the scars to heal.
PELZER: Ah, yes, there’s a big lesson for us all to learn. For all our white people in
South Africa to learn about the past. There are many mistakes made in the past and we won’t make
that mistake again. That is why we are here; not in a political situation in Mozambique. I’ve
personally talked to the Governor and I’ve told him that no politics will be allowed between the
farmers. We are here, as I told you, to work, to make money, to build the country, and to get a
better life for ourselves too.
ANNOUNCER: Paolino says he wants to forget the civil war in Mozambique, the suffering and
the poverty, which destroyed the common good for his people. Ian says he’s come to make money,
but at the same time he also wants to develop Niassa so that everybody has a better life.
Africa’s search for common ground introduced them to each other and through interpreters they
started to talk.
[sound of Paolino and Ian having a conversation via a translator]
PAOLINO JUMA PAOLO: [speaking via a translator] We are different, so if we can relate to
each other it’s very good. Between nations too, there should be that kind of harmony. There must
be cooperation; there must be a union so that together we can confront common obstacles.
MARTIN: That report on farmers in Niassa was first produced as part of “Africa: Search for
Common Ground”, a 13-part radio series on conflicts and its resolution across Africa. It was
produced by Common Ground Productions of Washington, DC, and Ubuntu TV and Film of Cape Town,
South Africa. Not to confuse you, but you’re listening to the Stanley Foundation’s Common
Ground, a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. We’ll take a break for a
moment and return with a report on the War Crimes Tribunal that is covering the 1994 genocide in
ADOTEI AKWEI: Maybe we have not done enough in trying to say, “You’re doing a good job;
these are the ways you can improve.” But if there are shortcomings we still need to point them
out to you. We all want to see justice done, but let’s try and see it done as quickly as
MARTIN: Printed transcripts of Common Ground and audio cassettes of this program
are available. Listen at the end of the broadcast for details on ordering. Common Ground
is a service of the Stanley Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts
varied programs and activities meant to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.
MARTIN: There are two temporary war crimes tribunals operating in the world today. One is
prosecuting crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia; it meets in The Hague, Netherlands. The
other court is prosecuting crimes associated with genocide in Rwanda. This tribunal meets in
Arusha, Tanzania. Both courts have suffered setbacks and delays, but the Arusha tribunal has
faced enormous frustrations. Our producer Keith Porter spoke with one of the court’s leading
PORTER: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has been plagued by inefficient
organization, weak infrastructure, unacceptable delays, and poor legal practices. These are the
findings of a report issues by Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights
ADOTEI AKWEI: While the report did have some very strong criticisms and expressed
concerns, I think it really should not be viewed as a hostile attack of the tribunal, but rather
as constructive criticism. And sometimes it is hard to take that.
PORTER: This is Adotei Akwei. He is Director of Advocacy for Africa at Amnesty
AKWEI: We get a lot of criticism for that, but it really is meant in a very positive way.
And in fact the report actually mentions that the tribunal is much farther ahead in its
achievements than the Yugoslavia tribunal. So it’s not all completely negative.
PORTER: What is the official task of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda?
AKWEI: It is to look into acts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during
1994 in Rwanda. And it’s really in all senses supposed to focus on the genocide that happened
there between April and June. But also to look at events that may have influenced or shaped those
events in the surrounding areas. And of course acts that were committed by the Rwandan Patriotic
Front as they were invading the country, at that time.
PORTER: In addition to the specific criticisms you lodge in the report you also talk a
little bit about the location of the court. It’s located in Arusha, Tanzania. What problems have
been associated with that location of the tribunal?
AKWEI: It is very far away from travel connections, so getting witnesses, getting defense
attorneys, getting media, to the tribunal site, has been very, very difficult. The conference
facilities that were given to the tribunal were very, very poor. Tanzania is Third World
developing country and Arusha does not have much infrastructure there to meet with the needs of
the tribunal. So we’re talking about building prison cells. You’re talking about no functioning
telephone lines; the tribunal staff used walkie-talkies. Which of course means that there’s some
concern about security of communications. Security of the actual facilities themselves. There are
no real metal detectors. If some very crazed or angry Rwandan were to find out that there were
someone there who had massacred his family he could, with some real chance, enter the court room,
or, and you know, basically take justice into his own hands. So, in addition to the legal
challenges and the bureaucratic challenges we’re talking about actual logistics. And that remains
a very big challenge. And that’s going to take time.
PORTER: Yes. It seems to me it’s almost the exact opposite of what you would find in The
Hague, where the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia meets. Not only is it
a First World country with all the infrastructure and the flights and transportation is fine,
communication lines are fine. It’s also the home of the International Court of Justice; it’s a
place that’s geared up to handle this kind of thing. And I can’t imagine a place more unlike The
Hague than Arusha, Tanzania.
AKWEI: That’s quite correct. And I think we understand the need for the tribunal to be
seated in Africa. There was no question about that. But Arusha has its problems. It really does.
PORTER: Beyond the location, why don’t you summarize for us the most serious criticisms
you have of the tribunal’s operations.
AKWEI: The first has been one which is ongoing, which has been information about the
tribunal. The Public Information and Communications Department of the tribunal was basically
nonexistent up until maybe four months ago. And they did not confirm what they were doing. They
did not distribute the proceedings that were going on there. There was a vacuum. When people
wanted to find out how many people the tribunal had indicted one had to really fight with the
United Nations bureaucracy in New York and then try to connect with people who had been to Arusha
and who had just come back. This has improved. They now have a Communications Department that is
very, that is light years ahead of itself in terms of reporting on the work of the tribunal and
disseminating information about new developments, new witnesses, new cases, and the way the cases
Another area of concern has been the delays in the actual trial process. Given the logistical
problems that I mentioned earlier, we know that that is going to be a problem in terms of actual
physical capacity for the tribunal to operate. The other of course is the bureaucratic side of
it. Getting defense attorneys who are willing to come to the end of the earth, Arusha, to defend
people accused of genocide. Getting witnesses for them to support their cases, has been extremely
slow. And so you’ve actually some people who have been in detention for about 3 years. People who
have been extradited from Cameroon or from Belgium, maybe extradited in November of 1996, and
then are not brought to court to actually have their case heard, until the end of 1997. So those
kinds of things are a violation of due process in terms of the commitment of the tribunal and of
the United Nations to trial without undue delay.
PORTER: Justice delayed is justice denied. Yes.
AKWEI: Exactly. There are also concerns about the protection of witnesses. And this is
absolutely a key thing. Given that there has been no such tribunal or such mechanism in Africa,
how does one get people who can actually say, “I saw so-and-so pick up a machete and do, butcher
those people”? And then take them back. Where do they go back to? Or, someone who would actually
disprove a claim of genocide. Go back and be taken back to Rwanda? There were serious concerns
about witness protection in the court room, the tribunal chambers themselves, and then
afterwards. Simple things like putting a screen between the accusers and the witnesses so that
word would not get back that, you know, “So-and-so’s uncle came and testified against me. Let’s
go and make sure that he doesn’t talk.” The tribunal did not really pay enough attention to those
in the beginning. So witness protection was also a big thing.
PORTER: In addition to what you just mentioned I also remember from the report, you talked
about problems involved with unlawful detention of people. You want to say something about that?
AKWEI: The seizure of people outside of Rwanda, particularly in Ethiopia and in Cameroon,
have raised concerns about those governments holding people without really getting authorization
from the tribunal itself. And in some cases there have been incorrect people who have been held.
There was a case up in Kenya, I think, where they actually brought this gentleman to Arusha only
to find out that he was not the person that he wanted. And the tribunal then had to pay some fine
of compensation. It’s a very complicated process to get governments which themselves have
problems in due process and rule of law, implement and arrest, to work by warrant, and to go by
the book. And that’s essentially how the tribunal has to work. It has to be extremely impartial
and unbiased so that there, at no point can the proceedings be thrown out of court. It would be
an incredibly devastating blow if a legitimate case were undermined because of procedural
mistakes. So definitely, unlawful detention is also part of it.
PORTER: Is there any concern about—I think you mentioned this in the report—about who is
being prosecuted and whether or not people from the Rwanda Patriotic Front are being prosecuted?
AKWEI: There is a concern that even though the tribunal has the mandate to investigate
abuses by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, now the Rwandan government, that the tribunal does not
even have any case files in preparation. We believe that that could very easily be construed as a
PORTER: In the report, given all these criticisms, who’s to blame? Who do you blame for
AKWEI: Well, maybe it’s not a good thing to attribute blame. Although logistical problems
and managerial problems definitely go back to the Registrar and to the Deputy Prosecutor, and the
weaknesses there. And above them, as with the United Nations, there’s a chain of command. It goes
up to the Security Council. You do not create a body in Arusha and then just leave it to itself.
Especially when there’s no, there’s very little precedent for establishing a tribunal anywhere,
let alone in Africa. We needed more engagement: managerial, political, financial. But in
particular managerial engagement to make this thing work. But moving back to the actual faults
themselves, it’s been a birthing process almost. The tribunal has had to go through some of these
mistakes. Some would argue that they could have avoided many of them had they been, had it been
built on a sound structure in the beginning. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way of the United
Nations. It is a member-states organization and there is political infighting. There are quotas
that have to be allotted in terms of appointing people. There is politics going on, even within
staffing and finding qualified personnel. So there are lots of people to blame. The question now
is whether the tribunal can and will pull itself together to become a very effective, decisive,
PORTER: I have just one last question for you. Do you have any indication that your report
has made an impact? Do you expect certain actions to take place? And when will you revisit the
AKWEI: I expect there to be some, a follow-up report before the end of the year. And in
particular because we got a very swift and very strong response from the tribunal where they
basically rebutted everything that we did. And were extremely peeved—well, peeved is not the
right word—but they were not happy with the criticism. And what you said at the beginning, I
think, is really the whole heart of the thing. An organization like Amnesty’s criticism is seldom
viewed as constructive criticism. And that’s unfortunate. Maybe we have not done enough in trying
to say, “You’re doing a good job; these are the ways you can improve. But if there are
shortcomings we still need to point them out to you.” And that’s going to be something that both
sides have to work on and we obviously have to do a better job. And I think that there should be
continued dialogue and follow-up with the tribunal and its officers, and hopefully with the
Rwandan government. You know, in other words, we all want to see justice done, but let’s try and
see it done as quickly as possible.
PORTER: That is Adotei Akwei, Director of Advocacy for Africa at Amnesty International
USA. The full text of their report is available at Amnesty’s Web site. Go to www.amnesty.org. For Common Ground, I’m Keith Porter.
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