Mugabe appoints trusted lieutenants to key
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe last
night appointed trusted lieutenants to the key Ministries of National
Security and Foreign Affairs in a bloated Cabinet meant to appease rival
factions of his ruling ZANU PF party.
ZANU PF secretary for
administration Didymus Mutasa, who last year said Mugabe was Zimbabwe's
Messiah "sent by the Almighty to lead Zimbabwe . . . the best thing that has
ever happened to the African continent," is now State Security Minister, a
key and influential post in Mugabe's secretive government.
Mutasa will be in charge of the feared state spy Central Intelligence
Organisation known for hunting down, victimising and sometimes eliminating
troublesome opposition activists. He will also be in charge of a new
government food task force that oversees importation and distribution of
food in the country, where four million people face
Zimbabwe's ambassador to former
colonial master Britain, designated the arch-enemy by Mugabe, Simbarashe
Mumbengegwi, takes over as Foreign Affairs Minister from Stan Mudenge who
has been demoted to the less influential Higher and Tertiary Education
Mudenge supported former government propaganda chief
Jonathan Moyo in a plot to block the elevation of Joyce Mujuru to second
vice-president of ZANU PF. His downgrading is in line with demotions of
nearly all the key figures that tried to block the rise of Mujuru whom
Mugabe openly preferred for the vice-presidency, seen as a key post to the
But Mugabe made sure none of his squabbling followers got
away empty-handed with a new and strange Ministry of Rural Housing and
Social Amenities created to accommodate former parliamentary speaker,
Mnangagwa, long viewed as Mugabe's choice
of successor, leads the other faction of ZANU PF that also included Moyo. He
lost the vice-presidency to Mujuru and his banishment to the obscure Rural
Housing Ministry appears to signal the end of his presidential
Long-time Zimbabwe representative to the United Nations,
Tichaona Jokonya, takes over as government chief spin doctor at the Ministry
of Information and Publicity. The information job is one of the most crucial
posts in a government that must churn out propaganda on a daily basis to
defend and justify its policies, blamed by many for turning one of Africa's
most vibrant economies into a basket case.
Sekeramayi was retained as Defence Minister, so was Kembo Mohadi at Home
Affairs and Herbert Murerwa, acting Finance Minister since last year takes
over at the ministry.
But Murerwa's ministry, which used to be
called the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was split up to
create another and separate Ministry of Economic Development and in the
process creating a job for Rugare Gumbo.
governor Obert Mpofu makes a return to Cabinet as Minister of Industry and
International Trade replacing Samuel Mumbengegwi.
Chinamasa, who led the purging of independent judges from Zimbabwe's bench,
was retained at the Justice Ministry, his sins after joining Moyo in trying
to block Mujuru's rise clearly forgiven.
Joseph Made, who has endlessly bungled since being first appointed in 2000
was retained in his post.
Made is infamous among Zimbabweans for
falsely claiming in 2002 and again last year that the country had enough
food when millions were and are facing starvation.
retained are Education Sports and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere; Health and
Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa; Local Government and National Housing,
Ignatius Chombo; Transport, Chris Mushowe; Mines and Mining Development Amos
Midzi, Youth Development and Employment Creation, Ambrose Mutinhiri; State
Policy and Implementation, Webster Shamu; Indigenisation and Employment
Creation Josiah Tungamirai and Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Development
Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni.
Besides Mnangagwa's ministry, three
other new ministries were created with former army general and governor of
Manicaland province Mike Nyambuya appointed new Minister of Energy and Power
There are various other lesser important ministries of
state which although technically not considered full ministries do still
draw huge votes from the fiscus.
Although clearly at pains to
ensure everyone got a seat on the gravy train, Mugabe gave all the key posts
out of the total 30 ministries to members or allies of the Zezuru-led
faction of powerful former army general and Mujuru's husband, Solomon.
Mugabe himself belongs to the same Zezuru clan of Zimbabwe's majority Shona
tribe. - ZimOnline
Mozambique president snubs Mugabe Sat 16 April 2005
JOHANNESBURG - Newly elected Mozambican President, Armando Guebuza, has
deliberately side-stepped visiting Zimbabwe, amid allegations that he is not
happy with the manner in which the just ended parliamentary poll was
Guebuza was elected into office in November last
year after trouncing Alfonso Dhlakama, the leader of Mozambique's main
opposition Renamo party.
Sources within his delegation, which has
been visiting Southern African Development Community (SADC) states, said
Guebuza did not want the international community, which has condemned the
Zimbabwe election, to put him in the same boat with Mugabe who is accused of
human rights abuses.
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party won 78 seats
against the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change's (MDC) 41.
Another seat went to an independent Jonathan Moyo, who is Mugabe's former
information minister. The MDC has refused to accept the election results
alleging massive rigging by ZANU PF.
"We have so far visited
Angola, Botswana and South Africa. We have deliberately side-stepped
Zimbabwe because it is coming out of a controversial election," said a
senior Mozambican government official in Johannesburg yesterday, where
Guebuza is currently on an official state visit.
"We will visit
Zimbabwe and Namibia sometime, not now because we do not want to be seen as
the first country to endorse the government there by undertaking an official
state visit," added the official.
Mozambique's ruling Frelimo party
observed last month's polls but the party is yet to pronounce its verdict on
the polls. But regional powerhouse South Africa, and the SADC election
observers have all said the poll reflected the will of the Zimbabwean
people. - ZimOnline
FEATURE: Independence hype fails to inspire Bulawayo
residents Sat 16 April 2005 BULAWAYO - The official hype around
Zimbabwe's 25th Independence anniversary appears to have eluded the
country's largest city of Bulawayo.
President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF party, fresh from securing an overwhelming two-thirds
parliamentary majority in last month's disputed election, have gone all out
to create interest in the holiday with a variety of "Silver Jubilee"
features in both the government-run print and electronic media.
For example, news readers at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, the
country's sole radio and television broadcaster, now preface each news
bulletin with a count down to Monday, April 18, the date when Zimbabwe was
born out of the ashes of the British colony of Rhodesia.
with just a few days to go to the "big day", residents in the country's
second biggest city seem indifferent to the public holiday as they channel
their energies to looking for food and fuel which are all in short
"Really there's nothing to celebrate on Independence
Day. It means nothing to me because I cannot afford anything, I cannot
afford to further my studies privately and I can't have one decent meal a
day," said Nobuhle Dube from Bulawayo's rich suburb of Famona.
But Dube, as with most residents here will not readily admit that her lack
of interest in the "Silver Jubilee" has as much to do with the poverty and
severe hardship that is the reality of independent Zimbabwe as it has to do
with disputed results of last month's parliamentary election massively won
by ZANU PF.
The majority of residents in this city, which is a key
stronghold of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party, are still trying to accept their party's defeat in last month's
The fact that the government is
alleged to have fiddled with the numbers to secure victory in the March 31
poll makes it even more proper for many here not to get involved with an
independence anniversary ceremony hosted by the same
Farai Sibanda, a factory worker in Bulawayo's Belmont
industrial section, said Mugabe's habit of using state occasions to heap
scorn on the MDC was another reason he will not take party in the 25th
independence anniversary celebrations.
He said: "I will not be
going to the celebrations because there's no political tolerance. I can't go
to the celebrations wearing my MDC T-shirt. And, I will not want to hear my
party being scolded and ridiculed. I would rather stay at
Besides, said the 32-year old Sibanda, he has little to
celebrate given as he might be jobless in the next few weeks as his company
is on the verge of collapse due to shortages of foreign currency to import
raw materials and machine spares.
The six-year long foreign
currency shortage crisis is just one in a long list of shortages of vital
commodities and services Zimbabweans have had to endure.
hospitals have become in the words of one opposition politician, "places
where people merely go to die," because of a shortage of medicines and
equipment. Public schools are also collapsing because there are no books
while teachers are routinely on strike for more pay and better working
Food, electricity, fuel are all in short supply in
Zimbabwe since 1999 when the International Monetary Fund cut
balance-of-payments support to Harare sending the economy on a tailspin.
Chaotic and often violent land reforms undertaken by the government in 2000
destabilised the key agricultural sector to send the economy deeper into the
Under the circumstances, Diana Sithole, a widow from the poor
suburb of Pumula says she has neither cause nor time to
"Day and night, I am thinking of where to get food,
clothes and school fees for my family. On Independence Day, I will be at
home fasting and asking God to intervene to end our suffering as a country.
We are suffering," said Sithole.
But Maxwell Mkandla, who
fought in Zimbabwe's 1970s war of independence feels Zimbabweans should just
be grateful that they are still alive despite the poverty and hardship and
"We should spend Independence Day thanking
our Creator that we are managing to stay alive despite all the problems of
hunger, disease and political persecution," said Mkandla, a distinctive tone
of resignation so common among many Zimbabweans today noticeable in his
voice. - ZimOnline
Sent: Saturday, April 16, 2005 3:52 PM Subject: Warming the same
Dear Family and Friends, On lamp posts, telephone poles,
street signs, walls and trees in Marondera town, the tattered remnants of
Zimbabwe's election have not been cleared away a fortnight after the event.
Ninety nine percent of the posters advertise the ruling party and say: "We
are proud to be Zimbabweans on our land" but to the hundreds of unemployed
young men who sit on walls and pavements around the town, the words offer no
For two days this week large parts of Marondera town have had no
water or just an explosive air lock followed by a rusty trickle and it has
become common to see women walking with 20 litre plastic drums on their
heads going to find water so that they can cook food, wash clothes and
keep their children clean. I am sure that these women draw little comfort
from the incessant propaganda about "our land". Urban women, living in
towns like Marondera with a population of almost a million people, suddenly
find themselves having to revert to practices common to their mothers
and grandmothers who lived in remote rural areas of the country. It is a
sad indictment of a country which celebrates 25 years of independence
A fortnight after the election there is no maize meal,
sugar, salt or eggs in Marondera's shops so there can't be many mums and
housewives getting solace from the posters about "our land." For a brief
moment there was a little buzz of interest this week at the opening of
parliament. That excitement didn't last long though because the House opened
and even though some of the Zanu PF MP's had lost their constituencies in
the election, they regained their places when they were appointed by
the President using his 30 reserved parliamentary seats. The House opened,
the MP's were sworn in and then, with one swift "The Ayes have it",
Parliament was adjourned to the 28th of June - a long two months away.
President Mugabe announced his new Cabinet this week and that too has almost
no changes, offers no inspiration and promises yet more of the same. Even
the Minister of Agriculture who hasn't been able to secure food for the
people for the last four years is still warming the same seat in Zimbabwe's
Perhaps the only thing that really caused a stir
this week was the news that six new fighter jets have arrived in the country
- in defence of "our land" no doubt. Until next time, with love, cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle
This is a transcript from Correspondents Report. The
program is broadcast around Australia on Sundays at 08:00 on ABC Radio
Growing evidence of electoral fraud in
Zimbabwe Correspondents Report - Sunday, 17 April , 2005
Reporter: Rochelle Mutton HAMISH ROBERTSON: There's growing evidence
that last month's elections in Zimbabwe, in which President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU-PF Government swept back to power, involved massive electoral
ZANU-PF says it won 78 seats, with an extra 30 seats elected
personally by the President.
But the result is being fiercely
disputed, with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change claiming the
total number of votes cast in 45 seats was later artificially inflated to
favour the ruling party.
Rochelle Mutton compiled this report in
Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.
ROCHELLE MUTTON: In the
months leading up to the Zimbabwe election, human rights groups, civil
society, unions, and charities all said the poll would not be free or
Yet in the last days, opposition optimism swept the
MDC ADVERTISEMENT (singing): Vote MDC, vote for a better
Vote MDC, vote for a better life.
MUTTON: Slick campaigning was in, violence was out. There was momentous
support for the opposition MDC. It was promising food, jobs, and hospitals,
and suddenly people believed the MDC would win.
(sound of crowd
The opposition MDC candidate, David Coltart, is due to
show up at this rally any minute now. There's about 600 people in this hall,
with people peering in through the windows trying to get a view of what's
going on. The spirit is quite electrifying in these 2005
MDC SUPPORTER: For five years or so we've hardly had any
people come to meetings like this, because they've been very
ROCHELLE MUTTON: The Government's notorious secret police,
the CIO, hadn't gone away. One agent at David Coltart's rally was taken head
DAVID COLTART: Understand that your murder, your rape, your
arson, your detention, your threats have failed.
ROCHELLE MUTTON: But on the eve of the elections the MDC
optimism was shattered. Worrying reports came flooding in.
Docozane Koupe) What's this latest news that you've heard about attempted
bribery, it sounds?
DOCOZANE KOUPE: One of my polling agents who
was approached by ZANU-PF members who were trying to bribe her.
ROCHELLE MUTTON: Docozane Koupe is an MDC MP.
DOCOZANE KOUPE: They
said to her they wanted to bring their own ballot papers. Using the backdoor
they wanted to switch over boxes.
ROCHELLE MUTTON: After I heard
this I went into a nearby township with an MDC member who secretly used my
voice recorder to find out more about the bribe, worth a few thousand
dollars, offered earlier that day.
(sound of woman
This ruling party official has just returned from the
last ZANU-PF meeting before the election, she acknowledges she made a cash
deal, but says, "Now we're not doing it that way."
"I'll sort you out with some land," the ZANU-PF
official offers in return for complicity.
That same night
before the election, ZANU-PF announced new rules for the opposition so
difficult to follow many of the MDC's 24,000 observers were banished from
Counting was systematically delayed, results were
In many of the rural areas, the new rules
ensured only ZANU-PF agents oversaw the election processes. It was from
these seats that President Robert Mugabe's regime achieved a
David Coltart was one of 41 MDC members to win his seat,
less than half the seats, he says, MDC would win in a fair
DAVID COLTART: In the vast majority of polling stations the
count only began, at the earliest, at 11pm. That was, in our view, to give
them time, to amend the results, to stuff ballots, and that, as well, is the
reason why there were great pains to ensure that our election agents were
not present at the count.
ROCHELLE MUTTON: My investigation
into the bribery attempt indicated the ruling party official wanted to bring
false ballot papers in the backdoor.
This week, the MDC
provided evidence that a quarter of a million votes were added onto the
Government's own polling figures in the 48 hours following the election
The MDC feels its hands are tied. It says the courts are
biased; Southern Africa observer teams endorsed Mugabe's
MDC ADVERTISEMENT: Vote MDC. New Zimbabwe, new
ROCHELLE MUTTON: The optimism of the opposition's
campaign is a fast fading memory.
(sound of MDC
While it can take heart from its broad support that survived
Government oppression, for now, there is no new beginning.
HAMISH ROBERTSON: That report compiled in Bulawayo by Rochelle Mutton.
Mugabe sets task of economic revival Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:14 PM
By Cris Chinaka HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe's new
cabinet faces an uphill task reviving Zimbabwe's economy, with analysts
saying any recovery will be hard and slow due to Western sanctions imposed
over his controversial rule.
In a reshuffle announced late on Friday
following last month's disputed parliamentary election, Mugabe brought in a
couple of new faces to key posts but kept most of the old
Critics accuse Mugabe of ruining one of Africa's most promising
economies through policies such as seizing white-owned farms for black
citizens -- a charge he denies.
Mugabe, 81, who marks 25 years in
power on Monday, said the new ministerial line-up would focus on driving the
economy out of five years of recession.
Leading economic consultant John
Robertson said the mission was a tough one as Zimbabwe had lost vital
development aid and loan facilities from Western donors who have imposed
sanctions over charges of vote rigging, rights abuses and land
"I don't see how the economy is going to be put on a
sustainable recovery path without a change of policies, and there is no
suggestion that the government is going to change its policies," Robertson
told Reuters on Saturday.
"Without massive aid and goodwill, without
loans, and a few slow-moving programmes from our so-called new benefactors
from the Far East and Asia, it's going to be long and hard."
said on Friday his government would tap into its new "Look East" policy to
boost investment in agriculture, mining and infrastructure to help revive
the economy which has shrunk by more than 30 percent in five years.
has actively courted trade and investment from countries such as Iran,
China, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Indonesia and Singapore after coming under
sanctions from the European Union and the U.S.
They say Mugabe's
ruling ZANU-PF party rigged parliamentary elections in 2000 and this year
and the presidential poll in 2002 to stay in power.
Mugabe denies the
allegations. "Let the outside world recognise that we are independent and
sovereign and are prepared to chart our own way to our own destiny," he said
Economic analyst Eric Bloch said
while it was good for Mugabe to set his sights on the economy, his
government must work harder to repair strained relations with Western
"We don't have resources, and we need all the help we can get,"
he said of an economy which has severe foreign currency and food shortages
and suffers intermittent fuel problems.
Mugabe kept Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa, who is credited with helping to slow the economic slide
since taking the job last year.
He also named former ambassador to
Britain Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as foreign minister and handed the
information ministry to Tichaona Jokonya, a former ambassador to the United
Nations and most recently head of Zimbabwe's state tourism
ZANU-PF swept 78 of 120 seats in the March 31 elections while the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won just 41 seats -- 16 down
on 2000. One seat when to an independent.
The result gave ZANU-PF a
two-thirds majority in the 150-member house thanks to 30 extra seats for
presidential appointees and traditional chiefs.
governments and the MDC accuse ZANU-PF of rigging the polls, although most
African observer missions gave the election high marks.
Chiluba ordered to stay on home soil April 16 2005 at
Lusaka - The Zambian government has blocked former
president Frederick Chiluba, who is standing trial on corruption charges,
from attending national day celebrations in neighbouring Zimbabwe, an
official said on Saturday.
Chiluba was among several African
former heads of state invited by Zimbabwe to attend the country's 25th
independence day celebrations.
"The government refused to release
the passport of the former president to enable him to leave the country to
attend the independence celebrations in Zimbabwe," Chiluba's spokesperson
Emmanuel Mwamba said.
Chiluba's passport was confiscated after he
was arrested for corruption, theft of public funds and abuse of office after
he ruled this Southern African country from 1991 to
Mwamba said initially the government had refused to
finance the trip to Zimbabwe but when Chiluba indicated that he would
personally foot the bill, they declined to give him his
"We feel the former president is being victimised because
they are denying him his right of movement," Mwamba said.
is the third time that Chiluba has been stopped from travelling by
Last year, the government stopped him from travelling
to London for medical treatment saying he could receive similar treatment in
Zambia. He was later blocked from leaving the capital Lusaka for a holiday
in Livingstone near the border with Zimbabwe.
Observers are welcome -
if there's nothing to hide
Disingenuous to suggest it is foreign
By Peter Fabricius
Southern African countries
know how to run and observe elections "and don't need outsiders chaperoning"
them how to do so, Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka declared in Harare on the day of Zimbabwe's parliamentary
elections. She was there as the leader of the Southern African Development
Community's election observer team which eventually found that the elections
were fine. The South African government came to the same conclusion. The
Minister was commenting on - and implicitly approving - the Zimbabwe
government's refusal to invite election observers from Western countries and
organisations, like the European Union, because it wished to avoid foreign
interference. The fact that Zimbabwe also failed to invite the Commonwealth
somewhat gave the lie to this justification, suggesting that Robert Mugabe's
government excluded any organisation likely to disapprove the elections, as
the Commonwealth had last time.
Mugabe's ex-information minister
Jonathan Moyo was fond of berating Westerners for insisting on observing
African elections but not reciprocating. The US in particular, he said, did
not want observers to come and see it rigging elections like the
presidential poll in Florida in 2000 which won George W Bush the White
House. But then the American NGO Fair Election International did in fact
invite international observers - including several South Africans, among
them members of the Independent Electoral Commission - to observe the 2004
elections. Brigalia Bam, head of the IEC was part of a team which observed
the election preparations. She said the election officials they met were
rather bemused - and at first rather reluctant - to be observed by
foreigners but did not try to obstruct them. In their report, these
observers said the US electoral system was "in considerable distress".
Confidence in and the equity of the system was "compromised by ambiguities
in election standards, partisan oversight and problematic voting equipment".
The report implicitly suggested, though, that these problems had not changed
the overall result. But had the vote count been closer, the problems "could
have thrown the elections into protracted dispute" - as in
And now the British government has invited international
observers - including also members of SA's IEC and Department of Foreign
Affairs, to observe the May 5 parliamentary elections. They will be there
from May 2 to May 6, meeting officials, including those of Britain's
elections commission and then splitting into groups closely to observe
actual voting on May 5. British officials stress that this will not be an
official election observation mission - more of a study tour - but that the
observers will nonetheless have "the same access to the election process as
anyone else" and will, of course be free to report on their findings. These
missions rather undermine the arguments of Mlambo-Ngcuka, Jonathan Moyo and
others that Africa does not need foreign chaperones to help it observe
fellow-Africans elections. If the US and Britain tolerate or even welcome
Africans to come and observe their elections, why not vice versa? Inviting
observers does not imply that one is incapable of running or monitoring
one's own election, as Mlambo-Ngcuka and others suggest, either
over-sensitively or perhaps disengenuously. It is merely that if you have
nothing to hide, then why stop anyone observing your elections? And if they
are really free and fair, then the more people who say so, the
By limiting the observation of its elections almost
exclusively to fellow-Africans, Zimbabwe only helped to undermine the
credibility of those observers, rather than raise the credibility of its
elections. The tentative efforts by the United States and United Kingdom
mentioned above, should perhaps be expanded, formalised and
institutionalised into some form of standardised international election
observation effort. Making election observation as inclusive as possible, in
this way, would be far better than the sort of suspect, exclusive approach
advocated by Mlambo-Ngcuka. Democracy is a universal value. African
democrats are no better qualified than any others to observe African
elections. And they are no worse qualified than any otherss to observe
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe Tuesday April 5th - Sunday April 10th
2005 Weekly Media Update 2005-12
COMMENT 2. ELECTION AFTERMATH 3. FOOD SHORTAGES AND PRICE
1. General comment
THE just-ended parliamentary
elections underscored the repressive legislative environment under which
journalists are operating in the country. This followed the arrest of two
British journalists and the deportation of a Swedish one, who were all
accused of breaching sections of the draconian Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
In its story on the arrest of the
British based Sunday Telegraph journalists, Julian Simmonds and Toby Harnden,
The Herald (1/6) reported that the two were arrested and charged with
committing illegal journalism, a violation under AIPPA, for allegedly taking
pictures of voters in Norton without accreditation. Secretary for Information
and Publicity George Charamba was quoted using the incident as ammunition to
reinforce government's attack on Britain saying the two's arrest showed "the
utter disregard the British have of Zimbabwean laws". Added Charamba: "We
did not accredit them. ... Their presence in the country is an act of
defiance and an act of lawlessness. ... All that goes to show that the
British media borrow its attitude and politics from the
In another related matter, The Herald and the
Chronicle (2/4) reported that the authorities had deported a Swedish
journalist, Fredrick Anders Sperling for violating AIPPA and the Immigration
Act. According to the two government dailies, Sperling, who was accredited
to cover the elections, had allegedly embarked on "another mission"
to "stage-manage an incident" aimed at undermining "government's land
reform and resettlement exercise". Reportedly, Sperling "teamed up" with a
former Norton farmer, a Mr. Whaley and "stage-managed" interviews with
former farm-workers at Kwayedza Farm.
But it is not only journalists
who have borne the brunt of the country's repressive laws. Scores of
individuals, including members of the opposition have been arrested under the
draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which unreasonably restricts
Zimbabweans' freedom of association and assembly. But it also contains
sections curtailing freedom of expression, by - among other restrictions -
creating the crime of denigrating the office of the President. And this week
The Daily Mirror (8/4) reported that a Bulawayo woman, Vulisizwe Sibindi, who
was arrested at Beitbridge border post on allegations of breaching POSA, had
been released after the court threw out the State case against her. Sibindi,
who had been in detention since March 25, was arrested after the police found
her in possession of books they claimed "contained information denigrating
Similarly, The Herald (6/4) reported that an MDC
supporter Artwell Murungweni appeared in court facing charges of denigrating
President Mugabe after the announcement of the initial election results.
Murungweni was also charged under POSA. Although the media exposed such
cases, they passively reported them without viewing them as part of the
authorities' use of patently undemocratic laws to unreasonably restrict and
control free expression in Zimbabwe.
2. Election aftermath
parliamentary election dominated media coverage during the week with focus
mainly on the confusion surrounding the two sets of election figures released
by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), follow-up stories on the
observers' reports and incidents of politically motivated retribution.
Election Results and observers' reports
The government media continued to
celebrate ZANU PF's victory and amplified the election outcome as a true
reflection of the will of the people in 104 reports. Fifty-four of the
stories were on ZBH stations (ZTV, Radio Zimbabwe and Power FM) while the
rest appeared in government newspapers. The MDC's concerns over the
possibility of electoral fraud were dismissed out-of-hand and the party was
presented as a sore loser.
For example, ZTV's 28 stories on the conduct
of the election only highlighted endorsement of the poll by observer
missions, electoral authorities, ZANU PF officials and selected members of
the public, among others, without balancing such opinion with a fair
assessment of the allegations of election rigging by the MDC. This
unprofessionalism resulted in the government broadcaster selectively using
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's campaign speeches to portray him as
a "chameleon" that could not be trusted. For example, ZTV (5/4 6pm and
8pm) carried two stories contesting that although Tsvangirai now claimed that
the election was rigged, he had actually assured his supporters "on several
occasions" that "people will speak come March 31". As a result, it added, the
opposition leader's claims that "the outcome of the recent poll doesn't
reflect the will of the people shocked many observers and
analysts". However, neither of the two stories quoted commentators supporting
this assertion nor was Tsvangirai or his party given a right to
Rather, the station (6/4, 6pm and 8pm) carried two more stories
in which it reported analysts telling the MDC to accept the election result
since even Tsvangirai had agreed that government had "created a level
political playing field with no room for rigging..." Again, Tsvangirai was
not accessed for comment. But to support its argument the station showed file
tapes of the MDC leader telling his supporters, among other issues, at
rallies in Chinhoyi and Masvingo that "this time around the election will not
be rigged as the MDC had been tipped on the tricks of the trade by none other
than Professor Jonathan Moyo (former Information Minister)". How such
comments constituted an admission by Tsvangirai that the elections would be
held under free and fair conditions was not explained. Radio Zimbabwe's 12
stories on the matter and Power FM's 14 were not different: they either
echoed or amplified the ZTV stories.
The government Press followed
suit. The papers used regional observers' reports to endorse the election
outcome but dismissed Western countries concerns on the matter. For example,
The Herald (7/4) portrayed the US judgment of the election as hypocritical
by presenting its observations as contradictory. The paper claimed that an
initial statement issued by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice commending
Zimbabweans for turning "out in great numbers" on election day contradicted
that country's post-election statement condemning the poll. The paper claimed
Rice's statement showed that the US would have endorsed the outcome if the
MDC had won, but had only changed its view because the opposition had lost.
However, an analysis of the statements displayed no such contradiction as
Rice had only commended the peace that characterised voting day but
criticised the electoral process, as did the other US' statement. But The
Sunday Mail's pro-government columnist Tafataona Mahoso still maintained that
the US had issued "contradictory statements" on the poll.
government Press' sourcing pattern seemed diverse as Figure 1 below shows,
all but the MDC endorsed the election outcome.
Fig 1 Voice distribution
in the government Press
Voice Total ZANU PF 29 MDC
12 Alternative 11 Business 1 Electoral bodies 7 Ordinary people
6 Foreign observers 12 Government 3
Notably, the MDC was only
quoted in passing and its concerns on the conduct of the election were
drowned in comments that approved the poll. ZBH's sourcing pattern, as shown
in Fig 2, was no different from its Press counterparts.
None of the
voices, even those of the MDC, were critical of the conduct of the poll.
Notably, the three MDC voices, all by Tsvangirai, were merely cited in the
context of the opposition party leader encouraging party supporters to vote
in the poll.
The government media's unwillingness to fairly discuss the
irregularities that marred the electoral process was further exemplified by
the way it suffocated open debate on the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC)'s
unclear explanations on the discrepancies in the initial figures of the total
votes cast the commission announced in 72 of the 120 constituencies and the
final results. Although ZBH reported on the matter, it subordinated the
discrepancies debate to ZEC's certification of the poll as having been
conducted "properly and in peace", ZTV (7/4, 6pm).
Press, which gave the issue more coverage, did not report it any better. For
instance, The Herald and Chronicle (8/4) passively quoted ZEC chairman George
Chiweshe saying the initial voting figures were "preliminary results" adding
that only the final figures should be considered as "no other figures...come
to play". The papers tried to lend credibility to the figures by reporting an
"unnamed" MDC official as having agreed that ZEC's final figures were
correct. To protect the ZEC's credibility, The Sunday Mail carried a puff
interview with Chiweshe allowing him to repeat his claim that the figures
his commission initially issued after the close of polling were "not
official" but meant to inform the public on the "voting trends" and "that at
such and such a time we estimate that in a certain constituency or province
so many people would have gone to the polls". The paper, like its sister
publications, failed to ask Chiweshe why his commission had not categorically
stated this when it announced the initial figures. Neither would it ask
Chiweshe why his commission had not released 'estimates' for the remaining 48
constituencies, which were not given after the announcement was stopped
abruptly, or why ZEC had not publicised results of each polling station, if
indeed the whole process was as transparent as he claimed.
the government papers carried 15 opinion pieces endorsing the poll result and
vilifying the MDC. However, they were not alone in their slavish endorsement
of the elections. The Mirror stable also carried five stories and four
opinion pieces that endorsed the election outcome while being dismissive of
the MDC's concerns. They too reported passively on Chiweshe's attempts to
clarify the cause of the two different sets of election figures
Other private media were more probing. For example, in one
of 14 stories Studio 7 (7/14) carried on the topic it reported that two
opposition parties in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance and Freedom
Party, had criticised the declaration by the SADC observer mission "that
Zimbabwe's polls were 'peaceful, transparent and credible' before verifying
allegations of fraud" raised by the MDC. It also publicised in three stories
the concerns on the fairness of the election by UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, the National Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwe Election Support
In addition, Studio 7 carried six stories related to the
irregularities surrounding the poll, four of which were on the MDC's evidence
of the alleged rigging and its subsequent threats to boycott Parliament. The
rest were based on ZANU- PF's response to the MDC's threat of a
parliamentary boycott and the ZEC's dismissal of the opposition party's
rigging claims. Despite its denial of poll rigging, however, the ZEC was
unable to furnish Studio 7 (7/4) with the total number of people who had
voted in the poll, with Chiweshe only reported as saying: "He did not know as
the figures would be provided in due course."
Similarly, the Zimbabwe
Independent (8/4), in one of the 23 stories the private Press carried on
elections, noted that Chiweshe's statements were unconvincing because he had
failed to adequately explain the exact discrepancies in the election figures.
It noted, for example, that Chiweshe failed to explain how his commission
compiled its initial figures. Neither would he confirm whether all polling
agents were allowed to witness counting, particularly at stations located at
the homesteads of chiefs. The paper also revealed that contrary to the
impression created by the government Press that the region had
unquestioningly endorsed the results, SA President Thabo Mbeki was reported
to be "investigating" the discrepancies.
In fact, Studio 7 (9/4) and
The Standard (10/4) exposed more evidence of poll irregularities when they
reported that Zaka District Administrator Nyashadzashe Zindove was found with
seven ballot boxes and ballot papers at his home. In addition, The Standard
reported that a presiding officer in Zaka West was also arrested after she
allegedly "lost" a ballot box in unclear circumstances. Police spokesman
Wayne Bvudzijena was quoted by the privately weekly confirming the incidents.
However, he later claimed in The Herald (12/4) that he was misquoted saying
he never "talked about ballot boxes allegedly found at the DA's residence"
but only on investigations "in which ballot papers were lost". However,
the Studio 7 report claimed that Masvingo police confirmed Zindove's arrest,
saying the DA was nabbed as a result of "a tip-off provided by his wife
following a domestic dispute".
The Financial Gazette seemed to be a
victim of the government Press' misrepresentation of issues when it reported
that the African Union observer team, "which initially hailed" the elections
as "free and fair" had made a "U-turn" and called for investigations into
alleged irregularities. But nowhere in its statement did the AU say the
election was 'free and fair'. It was only the government media that contrived
the continental body's relatively cautious report to mean that it had
unequivocally endorsed the election. Actually, the AU's recommendation to
investigate electoral irregularities was in the same statement that it issued
immediately after the election. Although the private media were more
critical in their approach, they, like the government media, failed to
extract the elusive truth about the total number of people who cast their
ballots and those who were turned away and resorted instead to providing
percentages of the total number of registered voters the figures constituted.
Neither did they provide the total number of spoilt ballots nor take to task
ZEC's failure to announce credible total figures of voters per constituency
and those who were turned away.
The Daily Mirror (4/4), which came close
to covering this aspect, merely reported that "over half of the electorate
did not vote" but did not give definitive statistics. The constituency
results were published in The Sunday Mail and the Sunday News (3/4), but
incredibly neither paper provided any total number of voters nationwide in
their front-page stories declaring ZANU PF's two-thirds majority. Nor did
they give a breakdown of the number of votes for the two major contesting
parties. They merely confined their stories to the "inroads" ZANU PF made
into MDC territory, citing a selection of the ruling party's victories. Nor
was there a coherent national percentage turn-out given. In their
constituency lists, the papers' figures disagreed in several cases with those
given for the 72 constituencies on ZTV in the early hours of April 1st and
there were some incredible results regarding spoilt papers, where for
example, The Sunday News reported that there wasn't a single spoilt paper in
Mberengwa East. It is important that the media seek clarity on the issue
because the final election results tabulated by the Press were inconsistent -
and the ZEC has failed in its duty to provide the nation with unequivocal
figures that match.
b) Political Violence and Retribution
carried 16 reports related to politically motivated violence, four of which
were reported by ZTV and six aired apiece by Radio Zimbabwe and Power FM. The
ZBH stations recorded five incidents of politically motivated violence
perpetrated by alleged MDC supporters against ZANU PF supporters, members of
the public and facilities. Almost all of the cases (ZTV (one) and two each by
Radio Zimbabwe and Power FM) originated from the police. One of the cases,
reported by all three stations, was on the alleged violence committed by MDC
youths during their demonstration in central Harare against alleged electoral
However, ZTV (5/4, 6pm and 8pm) only reported the demonstration
in retrospect, basing its story on assurances by police spokesman
Wayne Bvudzijena that the police would remain on "high alert" in the "face of
MDC threats to unleash a reign of terror" following the police's arrest of
10 MDC activists in Harare in connection with "disturbances" that resulted
in some shops being "looted". ZTV's footage did not show its audiences
any evidence of looting. Such biased coverage by the government
broadcaster was also evident in the way it (5/4, 7am) reported Bvudzijena's
reiteration that winning candidates in the poll should "celebrate responsibly
to avoid provoking others" but continued to report unquestioningly on the
mock burials of losing MDC candidates.
For example, in its main
bulletin (2/4) ZTV showed footage of ZANU supporters in Gwanda provocatively
celebrating Abdenico Ncube's victory over MDC candidate Paul Themba Nyathi by
carrying a coffin inscribed "P.T. Nyathi Rest in Peace". On the other
hand, government newspapers and the Mirror stable seemed to have largely
ignored reporting cases of politically motivated violence. The only incident
both covered (The Herald and Daily Mirror 6/4) was on the assault of MDC
candidate for Hurungwe West Biggie Hamadziripi Haurobi by his polling agents
for allegedly failing to pay them. The Herald's report (5/4) on the MDC demo
claimed that "rowdy" MDC supporters went on a "rampage in Harare... beating
up people and stoning shops in an illegal demonstration".
a dark picture of a section of the Intermarket Bank, which was allegedly
stoned, and a personal account by the paper's reporter, who was allegedly
beaten up, no substantive evidence was provided to back up the paper's claims
that the MDC had "unleashed violence". Rather, the paper and its sister
publications carried nine follow-up reports on the police warning the MDC to
desist from engaging in violence and the arrests of those suspected to have
been involved in the protest including the party's youth leader Nelson
In comparison, the private media carried several stories
highlighting cases of political retribution perpetrated by alleged ZANU PF
activists against suspected MDC supporters. The Independent and The Standard
carried three reports on the issue and recorded eight incidents. Six of these
appeared in one story in the Independent and the remainder in The Standard.
Three of the eight incidents were confirmed by the police while the rest were
only based on the MDC and the victims' claims. The incidents ranged from
the assault of MDC supporters, the burning down of their homes and the denial
of food to suspected opposition supporters.
Similarly, Studio 7 carried
seven stories on post-election related violence and rights abuse and recorded
four incidents. The crimes were reported as having been committed by ZANU PF
supporters and the police against MDC supporters. They included torture and
beatings. Only in one case did the private radio station seek police
confirmation, although it tried to balance its stories with comments from
both ZANU PF and the MDC as shown in Fig 2.
Fig 2 Voice distribution
on Studio 7
ZRP ZANU PF MDC Lawyers 1 2 4 1
In contrast, ZBH
heavily depended on police voices for their stories, which they quoted 14
times against none for the opposition party.
3. Food shortages and
THE government media carried 47 reports on the new wave
of commodity price increases and shortages of basic commodities during the
week but failed to logically explain to their audiences the reasons.
Thirty-two of the reports were aired on ZBH. In its reports ZBH concocted
conspiracy theories alleging that the shortages were as a result of political
machinations by the country's enemies unhappy with a ZANU victory in the
recent general election.
For example, three of the five stories ZTV
carried on the subject projected this idea. Two of the stories quoted
selected members of the public questioning the timing of the shortages and
price increases of the basic commodities while the third attributed the
stalemate on tobacco prices between farmers and buyers to a plot to punish
the farmers who were suspected of having voted for ZANU PF. The contention
by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) that the shortage of mealie-meal,
for example, was due to millers failing to receive "enough grain" from the
Grain Marketing Board was suffocated by ZTV (6/4,8pm). Radio Zimbabwe (11
stories) and power FM (16 stories)'s carried similarly unenlightening
Although the government Press tried to steer clear of conspiracy
theories, it simply regurgitated official pronouncements on the price
increases and commodity shortages. The government papers simply quoted
government officials calling on retailers to revert to old prices without
fully discussing the reasons for the increases. Neither did they discuss the
likely effects of government's price freeze order on the availability of
goods and the economy in general.
The Herald (7/4) was more hypocritical.
While it carried a report calling on retailers and manufacturers to "exercise
restraint on price hikes", it (9/4) defended the $1,7 trillion dollar-budget
announced by the government-appointed commission running the Harare Council,
which would see service charges and rates soar 40-fold. It argued that
although the increases were massive for the ordinary ratepayer, they "do
little more than cope with the effects of the high inflation that the country
is experiencing at the moment".
It was left to the private Press to offer
a critical and balanced analysis of the country's economic crisis and
commodity shortages in its eight stories on the topic. But three of the
Daily Mirror's four articles on the matter echoed the government's media's
conspiracies by insinuating that price increases and commodity shortages were
due to attempts by pro-opposition businesses to trigger food riots. Studio
7 inexplicably ignored reporting on all these matter in the
monitored bulletins. Ends
free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will
look at each message. For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about
the Project, please visit our website at http://www.mmpz.org.zw <http://www.mmpz.org.zw/>
HUMAN RIGHTS TRUST OF SA, received 13.4.2005
by Noel Kututwa
The following email contains very useful legal advice regarding what
to do with the new wages for domestic workers that have been announced. In
terms of the law, these rates apply and anyone who employs a domestic worker
has to abide by the new
Kututwa Human Rights Trust Of Southern Africa 12 Ceres
Road Avondale HARARE P. O. Box CY2448 Causeway HARARE FAX: 263
4 339818 TEL: 263 4 339819, 333882, 332179 EMAIL: email@example.com WEB: www.sahrit.org.
ADVISORY NOTE ON
The recent announcement on the issue of wages for Domestic
workers has created near panic in many homes.
The Gazette Notice says
that these new wages apply from the 1st of March. However legal advice is
that they cannot be applied retrospectively and we suggest that you ignore
this aspect and simply pay your domestic workers their normal salaries and
allowances for March at the old rates.
As regards the application of the
new rates, it is clear that these are beyond the ability of most people to
pay. We suggest that if these new rates exceed 20 per cent of your take home
income after tax, that you write to the following: -
Secretary The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. P Bag
7707 Causeway Harare
In your letter you should state that your
address is as shown on the letter, you employ the following staff as domestic
workers on the following salaries and allowances. That your take home income
after tax is as follows and you simply cannot afford the salaries listed in
the Statutory Instrument Number 15 of 2005 published on the 25th March
The actual minimum wage agreed by the Board that deals with these
matters was half the salaries shown above. If you can afford this then you
should state that in your submission. If not you should indicate what you
can afford and state that with effect from the 1st April 2005 you will pay
your staff at this rate.
You should then tell the Secretary that you
wish to formally apply for exemption from the regulations on the grounds that
you cannot afford the wages shown in the Statutory instrument. Written proof
of your income after tax would be essential and should be included as an
attachment to the letter.
Inform your staff of what you have done and
if you feel comfortable with this - give them a copy of your letter. Keep a
copy of the letter and any attachments.
If you are subsequently
visited by the Trade Unions do not discuss or debate this issue with them -
simply direct them to the Ministry where your appeal will eventually be
Please pass this on to your friends who might also be