Air Date: July 28, 1998 Program 9830


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 airplane]

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 these newcomers.

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 there.

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 us.

[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 farming.

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 training.

[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 themselves.

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 Rwanda.

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 possible.

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 critics.

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 organization.

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 International, USA.

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 are going.

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 bias.

PORTER: In the report, given all these criticisms, who's to blame? Who do you blame for all this?

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, efficient body.

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 issue?

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 For Common Ground, I'm Keith Porter.

MARTIN: Cassettes and transcripts of this program are available. The transcripts are free, cassettes cost $5.00. To place an order or to share your thoughts about the program, write to us at the Stanley Foundation, 216 Sycamore Street, Suite 500, Muscatine, Iowa 52761. Be sure to refer to program No. 9830. To order by credit card, you can call us at 319-264-1500. Transcripts and Real Audio files of the program are available on our Web site. Go to Our e-mail address is For Common Ground, I'm Jeff Martin.

B.J. Leiderman created our theme music. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.


Copyright © 1998, The Stanley Foundation