Telford Vice in Durban Saturday April
17, 2004 The Guardian>
The battle for Zimbabwean cricket threatened to
rumble into the courts yesterday when the board and the rebel players began
legal action against each other. Each has accused the other of breach of
contract, and the parties have 21 days to settle their differences. If they
do not the matter will be dragged into court, where the passions that have
led to this impasse can only be inflamed. "This could get ugly," a player
said with almost comical understatement.
The first salvo in the legal
war was fired yesterday morning after the former captain Heath Streak and his
12 rebels failed to turn up, as ordered, to a training session in
"The next stage is letters to the individuals asking them to
remedy their breach [of contract]," the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) managing
director Vince Hogg said after rain prevented the training session from going
A player said the rebels were dissuaded from an attempt at
reconciliation by a conversation between the opposing lawyers. "We were going
to pitch up at the practice, not to practise but to walk into Vince Hogg's
office and have a discussion," the player said.
"We were going to act
in good faith to try and solve the crisis. But we received the letter at
8.45am saying that if we didn't arrive at 10am we would be in breach of
contract. Our lawyer called their lawyer, who said the ZCU were not going to
budge on any of our demands. So what was the point of us going there? They
have closed the door on us."
The players' lawyer, Chris Venturas, is
confident they have a case. "I feel we have enough to allege a fundamental
breach of their contract," he said. "It's an implicit term of a contract that
you have a reasonable board of selectors. I believe there is consensus that
that hasn't happened."
The 13 players have refused to play in the
imminent series against Sri Lanka, and on Thursday the ZCU named an
inexperienced squad for the first of five one-day internationals, in Bulawayo
on Tuesday. The expectation is that Sri Lanka will rout Tatenda Taibu's team,
but if the visitors fail to do so it will reduce the rebels' bargaining
power. "How those games go could make us or break us," a player said.
HARARE, April 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Workers from
different tobacco companies in Zimbabwe went on strike here on Friday to
press for a250 percent salary increment resulting in the disruption of sales
at the Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF).
Sales at the country's
biggest floor had to be suspended to Tuesday next week after only 75 bales
were sold out of an average 750 bales that it sells per day.
TSF managing director David Machingaidze said the action by theworkers could
not be condoned as it had a great impact on foreign currency inflows "at this
time when the country is in dire need offoreign currency."
Machingaidze said the action by workers had inconvenienced farmers, adding
that they had to give farmers advance payment pending the sale of the
"The action has been a huge inconvenience to
most small-scale farmers. We have tried to assist them with cash advances
pending the sale of their tobacco as we have realized that most of them came
from far away places and needed money to travel back to theirhomes," he
An official with Zimbabwe Leaf Tobacco said the company
operated with a skeletal staff after most of them went on
The workers, who are mostly casual, earn a minimum of
255,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about 58 US dollars) per month.
There were also allegations from workers that most employers were intending
to retrench after the tobacco-selling season, as the industry was facing
operational and viability problems.
Zimbabwe cricket crisis won't stop Aussie tour Cricket
Australia says the current unrest among Zimbabwe's players will have no
impact on whether it goes ahead with the Test and one-day tour in
The Zimbabwe Cricket Union is currently facing a player revolt which
has led to 13 white players not being selected for the first one-day match
against Sri Lanka next week.
The players are at odds with the Zimbabwe
Cricket Union about political interference in team selection and are backing
the re-instatement of Heath Streak as captain.
But Cricket Australia's
Graeme Vimpani says while the dispute could affect the strength of the host
team, it will not affect the tour.
"We fully support the ICC's future
tours program, which requires all ICC Test playing nations to play each other
home and abroad at least once every five years, so we have a bigger picture
in mind I guess and, as I said, safety and security are our primary concern,"
"Should we ever feel that the safety and security of the touring
group is ever going to be compromised, that's when we would seriously look at
"But we've had our pre-tour inspection and all the boxes
have been ticked and we're going to be going ahead as planned."
Yes our children are hungry, but what
good is beating empty pots in protest against the exorbitant food prices? The
idea of civil disobedience is forthcoming but will it really achieve
anything? What needs to be taken into consideration is whom we are addressing
the issues to and do they care? As citizens we should first understand the
flow of our economy, that is, where is it coming from and where is it going
to. Until we can answer these questions what arguments are we going to
present to the rulers of the country? Maybe we all need fast track courses in
business administration and economics to get the grounding of the economic
flow of Zimbabwe? As it stands hyper-inflation is the result of high food
How can we develop the economy first? After that how do we
stabilise it? Then price controls. We need to start from the root of the
problem. Where did we go wrong? What were our main sources of income for the
country ten years ago? What are they now? Are we importing more than we are
exporting? Are we now importing more than we used to?
Besides, if we
are importing the basic things then we are looking at a very serious
situation that requires much more than words and disobedience. How valuable
are our exports if we have any at all? How are we proposing to rectify the
problem? Do we have a reasonable percentage of investors? What are the
investments in and how beneficial is it to Zimbabwe? Do we have
more companies than we did ten years ago, and if so what good are they to
our every day life? Where are the taxes going? Who is really benefiting
in Zimbabwe? Are the rich, richer and the poor, poorer? How are we fairing
on an African scale, are we lagging behind? If so how far behind are we
from other African nations? How are we relating with the rest of the world
and vice versa?
Bearing in mind that Zimbabwe has become a lawless
totalitarian state, is putting our efforts in a worthwhile cause? We also
need to realise that lobbying for reduction in food prices may have negative
consequences. There is a much higher price to pay in all this and are we
prepared for this? As a civil society what other methods are there of making
food more available to the country? How else can we implement a system that
is more responsive to our needs as a nation. I would say we are not yet ready
because we are thinking with our "tummies" and not our brains.
good is it to have a whole day of marching, screaming and shouting to have
food prices reduced when it is impossible under the circumstances. We need to
think rationally and act rationally like a nation with focused goals. We all
need to start working hard to produce results for the benefit of the
We need to kill the element of corruption, because corruption is
for short-term success and long-term failure. We need to be united and
generate ideas from one another. We need to be more analytical about our
surroundings for the continuance of the prosperity of our nation. We need
real and well-thought strategies because it is never too late.
economy has been scared so much already. These food prices only reflect the
value of Zimbabwe's economy. Much more needs to be done than just marching
the streets screaming and shouting for food reductions. Is there no chance
for a referendum? It may be a starting point to see how we fair in our
requests and where we stand with those in power.
I believe that Zimbabwe
is no longer as democratic as it seemed a while ago, therefore most peaceful
movements in the last three to four years have resulted in damage to
property, animals and people being killed and injured. So we should ask
ourselves this, if those in power are fully fed and sheltered they will just
look at the rest of the nation as a bunch of "hungry and angry" men. I am not
trying to discourage people from expressing their feelings but it requires
for us think carefully and logically.
We need to convince the police and
the army that we are sailing in the same boat because by the end of the day
we are still living in the same country. The police and the army are members
of our own families, our fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, aunts
and uncles, they are also our friends, neighbours, fellow workmen, most of
all they are human beings, Zimbabweans for that matter.
But can they
stand up and really support their purpose for the country, which is to
protects the nation from criminals, to act in pursuance of the rule of law,
to honour their obligations with full respect for the law. What is the role
of law in our society? Is it the corruption we encounter in our everyday
life? The police, the politicians, as well as the society at large are
cheating the system and therefore endangering our economy. Members of law
enforcement need to realise that they have had a larger part to play in this
downfall due to failure in their duty to protect citizens. It is not too late
to make a change of things and reduce flaws in the system, particularly
corruption. Is a civil disobedience the best that can be done? It is now time
to wake up.
INTERNATIONAL cricket in
Zimbabwe, long troubled by the southern African nation's racial politics, has
been plunged into deeper crisis following an allegation in the
government-owned Herald newspaper that 15 rebel white internationals plotted
to destroy the sport in Zimbabwe.
The players, led by national captain
Heath Streak, have been sacked by the Zimbabwe Cricket Union after refusing
to practice as a protest against corruption in the ZCU and the intrusion of
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party into the sport.
crisis has resulted in the ZCU naming the weakest team ever to take the field
for a top class international match - the first of a series of one-day games
against Sri Lanka beginning in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
The squad contains
only three established internationals, wicketkeeper Tatendas Taibu, fast
bowler Douglas Hondo and opening batsman Dion Ebrahim. The other players
named are nine inexperienced young black cricketers, most of them in their
teens, and two white teenagers, Brendon Taylor and Edward Rainsford. Some of
these players are believed to be unhappy about the ZCU's actions and are
considering dropping out of the squad.
The Zimbabwe team, now probably no
stronger and quite possibly weaker than Scotland, faces successive Test match
and one-day international series against Sri Lanka, Australia and England in
the coming months. The contests threaten to be farcical and politically
fraught, though none of the visiting teams dare drop out because of financial
penalties that might be imposed by the International Cricket Council. England
have been warned they face a £1.3million fine and other costs possibly
amounting to a ruinous £55m if they fail to tour in October. Several England
cricketers are believed to be considering boycotting the tour in protest
against widespread human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
ZCU Chairman Peter
Chingoka, a ZANU-PF loyalist and appointee like all ZCU officials, including
the union's patron, President Mugabe, yesterday blamed unidentified "outside
forces" of plotting to prevent the spread of the game into the black
"About eight weeks ago we gathered from a reliable source that
there is a small group of people that has devised a strategy, in their own
words, 'to destroy Zimbabwean cricket this year'," Chingoka told the Herald
The Herald's sports editor, in a commentary, wrote: "It is
believed that the group linked to the current problem is made up of
disgruntled hardcore Rhodesians who were expecting the likes of Australia and
England to boycott their tours to Zimbabwe this year.
"Now that the
two countries have confirmed the tours, the group is now working on
destabilising the sport from within and, in the process, force the
cancellation of such tours and denying the ZCU the much-needed revenue to
finance development programmes.
"The Rhodies are fighting against the
advancement of black cricketers, given that the sport has become a
multi-million dollar industry over the past years."
The 15 white
rebels are understood to be outraged by the allegations of Chingoka and the
Herald. Last year they declined to join in a protest during the World Cricket
Cup when the country's first black international, Henry Olonga, and its most
famous and accomplished player, Andy Flower, wore black armbands during the
opening game in protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Both players
have been forced into exile in England.
The remaining players had hoped
that the growing problems identified by Flower and Olonga could be overcome.
But their patience snapped this week and they issued a six page statement
alleging that "deserving players of all races have been excluded from both
the national team and the Zimbabwe 'A' team solely because of their race or
the region from which they come."
The cricketers said a cancer of
corruption and political prejudice was dominating the game. One example they
gave was that of Mark Vermuelen, a promising white opening batsman, who had
been offered a bribe of twice his match fee by ZCU officials to stand down to
allow a black player to replace him.
The crisis was initially
triggered when Streak was sacked as captain and replaced by 20-year-old
Streak, 30, who has taken more than 200 wickets and
scored nearly 2,000 runs in Test cricket, is contracted to play for the
English county Warwickshire this summer.
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2004 4:02 PM Subject: Foxes in the chicken
Dear Family and Friends, Every day in the week leading up to
Zimbabwe's 24th anniversary of Independence the propaganda on our radio and
television has been unrelenting, anti white, anti west and anti world. Each
night the main evening news on ZBC TV has been preceded by 25 year old
film footage of aeroplanes dropping bombs and white soldiers running through
long grass shooting at people. The news bulletins have all begun with a
lecture. On Thursday night, with deadpan expression the newsreader said: "Let
us all come together and sing the same song: Zimbabwe will never be a
colony again." On another night this week the propaganda message was: "With
the success of the third chimurenga, Zimbabwe is ready to feed the world."
I couldn't help but wonder what the World Food Programme would make of
this little gem as they continue to feed more than half of Zimbabwe's
Two days before Zimbabwe's 24th anniversary of Independence
the weather was grey, cold and damp in the small town of Marondera. On almost
every street corner in the town stood two police reservists in blue uniforms
and the main roads into and out of the town were manned by police road
blocks. On tractors and trailers and in Municipal vehicles, teams of men
were going around the town tying plastic Zimbabwean flags around lamp
posts and telephone poles and on every government building. In the back of
one open government truck a young man sat with a plastic flag wrapped
around himself to keep out the cold and rain. Although the town is
decorated in colourful plastic and the streets are guarded by scores of
police, there was a tense and strangely unfestive feeling
and the atmosphere was thick with irony. In every direction trucks driven
by men with big hats and long overcoats were laden with beer and bread.
Their cargo was destined for the Independence rallies that are to be held
across the country but in a small town like Marondera everyone knows just
exactly where the money has come from for all these rallies. For the last
month each house, shack and hut in every village has been visited. The
occupant has been told he must pay two thousand dollars towards
Independence celebrations. He must give the money to the Village Headman
who will record his name and contribution. People have been told that if
their names and donations are not found on the list they will be "visited
again after Independence to explain their unpatriotic behaviour." Everyone
gives the money, they are too scared not to and everyone goes
to the rallies because they are too scared not to. Meanwhile the trucks
laden with beer and bread had neither inclination nor space to pick up the
scores of people who lined our town's roadsides waiting in the wind and rain
for lifts. Neither did the drivers of the trucks stop and give some of
their Independence food and drink to the dozens of children who beg
outside the supermarkets or the scores of unemployed youngsters who stand
huddled under trees out of the cold and rain desperately waiting for the
chance of a day's casual labour.
It is 24 years since Zimbabwe found the
courage to rid itself of a government it did not want. It was a courage
bolstered by moral, tactical and economic support from Africa, Europe,
America, East and West. Two days before Zimbabwe's 24th Anniversary of
Independence we learned that our press restrictions, constitutional
violations, torture and human rights abuses will not be discussed by the UN
Human Rights Commission. Yet again a No Action Motion has been passed. A
fortnight ago the UN said that never again would it sit back and watch
another Rwanda unfolding and yet, for 50 months they have watched us slip,
slide and fall and will still not even talk about events in
Zimbabwe. I can think of no more appropriate way to end this letter than
by using the words of Jose Vivanco, the Director of Human Rights Watch who
describes members of the UN Commission for Human Rights as "the foxes
in charge of the chicken coop." Until next week, with love, cathy. Copyright
cathy buckle 17th April 2004 http://africantears.netfirms.com My
books on the Zimbabwean crisis, "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears"
are available outside Africa from: firstname.lastname@example.org
; www.africabookcentre.com ; www.amazon.co.uk ; in Australia and New
; Africa: www.kalahari.net www.exclusivebooks.com
At first glance Lupane seems no
different from other rural districts in Zimbabwe. Its tranquillity, coupled
with a canopy of luxuriant forest, gives no indication of the recurring
droughts that plague the area. Situated 170km south-west of Bulawayo, it is a
place where appearance masks, rather than reflects, reality. Ironically, it
is the district's lesser revealed life and issues that the media and
politicians are now interested in. So, too, are observers and human-rights
officials, who have zoomed in on the district as the upcoming parliamentary
by-election - scheduled for May 15 and 16 - draws near. Their sudden
examination of the constituency is likely to reveal, among other things, a
broken community disheartened by poverty. Some residents seem bemused by the
ruling party's vigorous courtship, aimed at raking in votes. Their apathy is
unlikely to affect the efforts of Zanu PF, the ruling party. The government
of President Robert Mugabe is determined to win this one seat after it lost
all eight in the province to the opposition in the 2000 parliamentary
Since independence from Britain in 1980 the ruling party
has been unable to count on the south-western province of Matabeleland North,
of which Lupane is the capital, as part of its traditional rural support
base. The key to understanding this phenomenon lies buried in the history of
the early 1980s, when the new government launched a brutal counter-insurgency
operation. It was aimed, officially, at flushing out renegade elements of a
rival opposition party rooted in the province, and two adjoining ones.
An estimated 20 000 men, women and children were killed, violated and
tortured in a bizarre military operation. Several human rights organisations,
such as the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe and the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation, have described the massacres as
"ethnic cleansing", targeting southern Zimbabwe's minority
Ndebele-speaking community. Such a military operation has had far-reaching
effects, extending across generations and communities.
priest Gabriel Silonda says some Lupane residents are still battling to find
their parents' remains. Others, born during this period, have not been able
to secure birth certificates because of missing fathers, or a belief that
they were the offspring of the perpetrators of violence. The cleric says that
pent-up anger is preventing villagers from carrying on with their lives.
This, in turn, has allowed underdevelopment to take root. "People here need
some form of healing because they have been brutalised," he adds. Unable to
put the past behind them, many also feel they are yet to enjoy the fruits of
independence. Activist David Nyathi says that among the major grievances is
the exploitation of the district's abundant timber resources. "We don't know
where it's going," he says. "Since independence, there is nothing of a
government project to brag about."
But there are some signs of
development in the town, which has been demarcated as a "growth point" by
authorities. While streets simmer in the midday heat, Chinese engineers stand
next to the foundations of a building. It is destined to become a government
office complex. Several blocks down, a registry office is nearing completion.
But these efforts do not impress Nyathi, who says the impetus is the result
of the opposition's strengthening in the region. Late last year the
government announced that it would build a provincial university, with the
first intake expected later this year. The proposed institution has not been
met with applause. Residents have dismissed it as a grandiose project,
particularly as the district lacks quality schools to provide the university
with students. The smell of fresh cement and the sense of hope, ignited by
the construction, contrast sharply with pervading fear of election-related
violence. In February local MP David Mpala succumbed to injuries he sustained
months after being abducted and severely assaulted by Zanu PF members. His
seat is now vacant and two candidates will be competing for it in next
The election is coming a month after the
opposition lost a similar one in its urban stronghold, where extreme
violence, intimidation and alleged rigging characterised voting. However,
Silonda says Lupane is a place where the ruling party does not need to rely
on force to win because "they have a saleable candidate" who is widely
respected. "He's sensitive and no pushover, I could vote for him as a
person," Silonda says. Political analyst John Makumbe says Lupane is a key
seat for the ruling party. If they secure it, they will be one seat short of
a two-thirds parliamentary majority, which the party will not hesitate to use
to amend the Constitution to suit its needs, even before next March's
legislative elections. Makumbe says "the ghost" of the 1980s military
operation will "seriously" affect the outcome of the election. But Zanu PF is
no longer "scared" of it as before.
From IRIN (UN), 16
'No action' vote by South bloc defeats human rights
Johannesburg - A Zimbabwean human rights body has
criticised an African-Asian grouping which shot down a draft resolution on
the human rights situation in Zimbabwe for the second year at the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Geneva on Thursday.
The draft resolution, mooted by the European Union and supported by the
United States, would have expressed "deep concern" at what it said were
"continuing violations of human rights in Zimbabwe, in particular politically
motivated violence, including killings, torture, sexual and other forms of
violence against women, incidents of arbitrary arrest, restrictions on
the independence of the judiciary, and restrictions on the freedoms of
opinion, expression, association and assembly". The proposed resolution
also expressed concern over the "failure to allow independent civil society
in Zimbabwe to operate without fear of harassment or intimidation" and
"urged the Government of Zimbabwe to take all necessary measures to ensure
that all human rights were promoted and protected".
African group of 15 countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), Sierra Leone, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland and Nigeria backed a
no-action motion on the draft resolution. The motion against the resolution
was carried by 27 votes against 24. It received the support of 10 Asian
countries, Cuba and the Russian Federation. "It is disheartening to note that
a matter related to the human rights of the people of Zimbabwe has been
reduced to the flexing of muscles between the global South and the global
North," said Brian Kagoro, national chair of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO
Forum. "The tragedy of Zimbabwe is that there is so much haggling over the
racial contortions of the crisis here. The fact that the lives of Zimbabweans
have been reduced to mere votes makes the entire issue totally meaningless,"
he added. The Zimbabwean minister of foreign affairs, Stan Mudenge, was
quoted in the official Herald newspaper as saying that the country "was
pleased with the outcome of the vote and grateful to the international
community and the country's friends, particularly from Africa, for supporting
it for the second year running".
During the debate on the no-action
motion, Roger Menga, the DRC representative, said the Zimbabwean government
had been "demonised because of its redressing of the uneven distribution of
land that had been perpetuated since colonial days", a UNHCHR statement said.
The African group urged the authors of the draft resolution "to open real
negotiations with Zimbabwe and to avoid this path of confrontation. It was
recognised that Zimbabwe had some problems, but those issues should be
addressed nationally and, possibly, regionally or at the continental level,"
said the press release. The United States representative at the Commission,
Richard Williamson, said no-action motions "amounted to approval of the human
rights abuses being perpetrated by nations that disregarded the
fundamental principles of the Commission. The world community should
resolutely condemn the repressive policies of the [President] Mugabe regime
that denied the Zimbabwean people their inalienable human rights, and should
publicly express its support for and solidarity with the Zimbabwean
The Zimbabwean representative, Chitsaka Chipaziwa, was
quoted in the UNHCHR release as saying that whenever a similar resolution had
been mooted, the Commission had wisely rejected these "dreadful beasts
dressed as cuddly lambs". He also said "any human rights problems in the
country were not out of the ordinary and allegations on that front should not
take up any more of the Commission's attention". Nigeria said it was
committed to "a peaceful solution for the country, both at the Commonwealth
and African level. All [countries] should join hands in the dialogue with
Zimbabwe and avoid any action that might continue the isolationist trend
related to the country. In the light of these views, and without prejudice to
Nigeria's commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms, Nigeria would
endorse the position of the African Group on the no-action motion". Nigeria,
host of the Commonwealth summit in its capital, Abuja, in December 2003, was
among the countries which voted for Zimbabwe's continued suspension from that
body. Zimbabwe was initially suspended from the Commonwealth in 2002
following allegations that Mugabe had won the presidential elections by
vote-rigging and intimidating the opposition.
choice for the opposition in Zimbabwe is whether to participate in the March
2005 general election, now less than a year away. Escalating political
violence and erosion of the rule of law, draconian Acts that treat criticism
as a serious crime and anti-democratic altering of electoral laws make it
impossible for the opposition to win - and dangerous to try.
Last month, in preparation for possible South African-brokered talks with the
ruling Zanu PF party and as alleged state-sponsored by-election violence
erupted, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change reserved the right to
boycott the 2005 poll.
Since then government has published
changes to the Electoral Act that strengthen its grip on elections, including
the electoral commission (led by military figures), observers and monitors
(only civil servants allowed), voter education (only by government) and who
is able to vote.
Decreed by President Robert Mugabe before a
flawed 2002 presidential poll but later ruled unconstitutional by the courts,
the amendments have been slammed by civic groups, among other things for
violating universal and Southern Africa Development Community electoral norms
In a briefing note on 16 March the MDC said that
terror wreaked by Zanu PF supporters and youth brigades during the Zengeza
by-election, which the ruling party won, showed yet again that the government
was prepared to violate SADC protocol regarding conduct of
'The MDC continues to be denied access to the
voters' roll, state media remains the exclusive domain of the ruling party,
MDC campaign efforts are frustrated by a politicised police force whilst Zanu
PF youth militia are permitted to intimidate and attack voters without fear
Such a political environment precludes a free
and fair election in March 2005, said the MDC, which decided against
participation unless there is 'genuine commitment' by Zanu PF and Mugabe to
manage the poll freely and fairly. The party drafted 15 conditions to
participation, based on SADC protocols that Zimbabwe ratified in 2001. In
summary they are:
1. A genuinely independent electoral
commission (IEC) to run the electoral process and election.
The exclusion from the IEC of partisan officials and members of
3. A fresh voter registration exercise conducted
by a new IEC with UN assistance.
4. An electronic copy of the
voters' roll for all political parties and interested people.
Repeal of aspects of draconian media laws that curtail
6. Repeal of aspects of harsh security laws that
curtail election campaign freedoms.
7. Electoral Act changes to
conform with SADC norms not covered by the 15 conditions.
Reversal of decisions that closed The Daily News and stopped media operating
9. Liberalisation of the broadcast media and fair coverage
by the state media of all parties.
10. Complete disbanding of
the youth militia
11. Translucent plastic ballot boxes of secure,
12. Sufficient numbers of polling
stations to enable voting to take only one day
access to elections by international, regional and domestic
14. Counting of ballots at polling stations in the
presence of polling agents and observers
15. Use of visible,
indelible ink to identify people who have voted.
oppression using bad law and brutal force, along with unfair electoral
conditions in Zimbabwe provide the foundations for a solid argument against
participation in the March 2005 election. But boycotts are a serious - and
frequently paradoxical - matter.
Non-participation by a major
opposition party founded on credible problems undermines the legitimacy of a
poll and the government it elects. At the same time, it enables a ruling
party to easily sweep back into power, claim some popular support and cling
to vestiges of legitimacy still widely afforded polls that are flawed but at
Boycotts can be powerful democratic statements by
the oppressed, who by refusing to vote can erode an unchallenged ruling
party's claims to popular support by forcing a low turn-out. This stay-away
tactic was used in neighbouring South Africa by Asian and mixed-race people
who rejected, with sometimes single-digit turnouts, the apartheid state's
attempts to co-opt them into self-determination via separate, race-based
Again there is a tension, because
non-participation is political action stripped of any hope of making a
difference - a cause without an effect. In the case of Zimbabwe, the waters
would further be muddied by high levels of political intimidation and
violence, which will deter voting as surely as any
The Zimbabwean government, its supporters and the
security forces are accused of waging a campaign of oppression against the
MDC and of committing thousands of human rights abuses including murder,
assault and torture.
For its part, Zanu PF claims that its
supporters are also being intimidated and attacked by the MDC, which is
intent on overthrowing the government by force, and that political turf wars
are to blame for much electoral violence. While elections might be marred by
political violence, says the government, they are nevertheless legitimate.
Current levels of political violence raise the moral question of whether
opposition supporters ought to be asked to vote at all, given the dangers
involved. If an MDC victory is impossible, why take the risk of voting? The
same could be asked of MDC leaders, who have suffered gross rights abuses in
the past four years. A recent study by the Cape Town-based Zimbabwe
Institute, 'Playing with Fire', revealed that nine in 10 MDC MPs surveyed had
suffered rights abuses at the hands of security forces or Zanu PF supporters.
A total of 78 MPs and parliamentary candidates had experienced 616 incidents
- and in no case had a perpetrator been arrested or charged. Three MPs had
died after vicious assaults, a quarter had survived murder attempts and three
had had staff murdered. Over a third of MPs had been assaulted, two thirds
arrested and 16% tortured. MPs houses had been burned, cars stoned, relatives
and colleagues abducted and some killed. The message, reports the Institute,
is clear: 'Any person who contemplates standing for the opposition in 2005
in the existing environment is well aware that they will pay dearly for
this choice.' Further, there comes a time when participating in an
illegitimate regime becomes morally dubious, as it lends credibility to that
government. The MDC worries that its credibility is also put at risk by its
continued advocacy of patience to supporters without any tangible result - or
any reciprocal self-control on the part of Zanu PF. Against these problems
are pragmatic concerns for Zimbabwe and its people. Even if the MDC is
not allowed to win, there is an argument that by continuing to
secure Parliamentary seats for its leaders the party keeps at least some
democratic space open in an increasingly repressed society, media and legal
system. Were it not for this space, the party might be less able to thwart
calls to arms from some angry supporters. Writing in South Africa's The
Star, commentator Allister Sparks argued that the setting of a 2005 election
date will spur South African President Thabo Mbeki - the world's 'point man'
on Zimbabwe - to take action in getting the parties to the table for talks.
And indeed, Mbeki met separately with Zanu PF and the MDC leaders in
Pretoria last month. But brokering an agreement will not be easy, Sparks
comments, and even if MDC conditions are met the cards will be stacked
against the party - first, under the Constitution Mugabe can appoint 30 MPs
of his own choosing, meaning the opposition has to win a 64% majority to
control Parliament and, second, even if this is achieved Mugabe will be able
to choose his Cabinet and rule by decree until the next presidential
election in 2008. To remove either obstacle requires the Constitution to be
amended, which needs Zanu PF's cooperation or Mugabe to step down so that
both general and presidential polls can be held: 'Neither appears likely. So
the question is: Can Mbeki mount enough pressure to remove this Catch 22
which makes success for the opposition virtually impossible? If not, the
whole thing becomes a pointless exercise.' . This column is provided by
the International Bar Association. - An organisation that represents the
Law Societies and Bar Associations around the world, and works to uphold
the rule of law. For further information, visit the website www.ibanet.org.
column is provided by the International Bar Association. An organisation that
represents the Law Societies and Bar Associations around the world, and works
to uphold the rule of law. For further information, visit the website www.ibanet.org
Mugabe Sacks Harare's First Elected Mayor Peta
Thornycroft Harare 17 Apr 2004, 13:23 UTC
Harare's first elected mayor was sacked by President Robert
Mugabe late Friday, one year after he was suspended as mayor. Mayor Elias
Mudzuri of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was elected with a
massive majority two years ago in the same election which gave Mr. Mugabe
another six years in power. Mr. Mudzuri, a civil engineer, was elected as
Zimbabwe's first opposition mayor with an 80 percent majority.
last year he was suspended without pay. Since then a government commission
accused him of misconduct, mismanagement, and supporting two anti-government
strikes. Mr. Mudzuri was not able to give evidence to
He said Saturday, following his formal dismissal, that
he has not been given a copy of the commission's final
President Mugabe recently appointed a ruling Zanu-PF governor to
oversee the city's affairs.
Mr. Mudzuri says under present laws a new
election must be held within 90 days. He says he will make himself available
as a candidate.
Until his election in 2002, Harare was run by a Zanu-PF
commission. After many court applications, residents finally won the right to
hold elections for mayor.
In his one year in office, Mr. Mudzuri began
a clean-up of the city bureaucracy and undertook long-neglected essential
repairs to Harare's infrastructure, particularly in poorer overcrowded
He repeatedly warned that Harare's water and sewage systems
were on the point of collapse for lack of government funds. The Movement for
Democratic Change accused the government of using what it called "political
muscle" to prevent Mr. Mudzuri from carrying out city reforms.
his brief year in office, Mr. Mudzuri was arrested and imprisoned without
charge twice. He has been injured at ratepayers meetings and presided over
several other official functions that were broken up by riot police.
The South African tourists
who endured a day of hell in Zimbabwe where Robert Mugabe's secret police
interrogated them as suspected mercenaries, have given a gripping account of
The official line from the Zimbabwean government is that
the tourists, mainly from Cape Town, were held for questioning because they
did not have permits to operate motorised rubberducks in the environmentally
sensitive Mana Pools National Park.
But two of the tourists told the
Weekend Argus that it was clear that they were held on suspicion of being on
a mission to rescue 67 men arrested in Zimbabwe last month on charges they
were mercenaries plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea. 'We were held
on suspicion of being mercenaries'
The nine South African tourists were
on a 2 400km trip along the length of the Zambezi River from its source in
Zambia to its mouth in Mozambique when they were rounded up by Zimbabwean
National Parks employees armed with AK-47s on Wednesday, March 31.
following day, two of the team were left to look after the boats
and equipment while the remaining seven were taken away and subjected
to repeated rounds of interrogations and human rights abuses by
various officials, including members of the secret police.
was essentially an adventure holiday for the tourists but it was also meant
to raise funds to combat malaria in Zimbabwe. The tourists arrived back in
Cape Town on Sunday, April 11 and the official line from Old Mutual, one of
the trip's sponsors, was that the team had suffered a "minor setback when
they were detained by police for a short period in Zimbabwe".
Weekend Argus interview with one of the tourists uncovered far
more disturbing details of how seven of them had endured hours of
interrogations by armed men who denied them their basic human
One of them, Cape Town lawyer Bob Groeneveld, now safely back
with his wife and three young children in Hout Bay, made it clear that all
their permits had been in order. 'They looked exactly the way bad
guys do in the movies'
Expedition leader Andrew Weinberg confirmed that
the interrogations had nothing to do with permits for motorised boats. "We
were held on suspicion of being mercenaries," Weinberg said.
started in Zambia and turned into a holiday from hell when the team neared
the Mana Pools in north-east Zimbabwe. "An hour before we reached the pools
we were approached by two barefooted National Parks guys who appeared out of
the bushes. They carried AK-47s and asked to see our permits. We showed them
and they said fine," Groeneveld said.
But when the team got about 100m
from the campsite at the pools, they were met by a boat carrying four
National Parks men with AK-47s. "They asked us to follow them in and we
didn't think too much about it."
Again they were asked to show their
permits and one of the National Parks employees said he would have to contact
his superiors but the phone lines were down.
The following day five
men arrived including one "in a big uniform with lots of badges".
was the local chief of police and said we had to go to Chirundu (on
the Zambian border) for interviews."
The team initially said no, but
in the end agreed that seven of them would accompany the police chief and two
members would remain and look after the equipment.
"Then 17 more guys
with AKs arrived and at that point we realised things did not look rosy. One
of the guys in our team had a digital camera and I told him to take photos of
all our permits so that if they disappeared we would have proof that we had
The seven were made to sit on the floor of a truck for the
three-hour trip. "At about 6pm the questioning started. I asked if we could
phone the South African Embassy and an attorney but they said
At one point an interrogator slapped Groeneveld on the back and
said there was no need to worry because the National Parks officials had made
a mistake. "They said they would arrange transport back to our gear. We
waited an hour and nothing happened. Then we were told there would be
more interviews at Karoi (a town two hours away on the road to
At no stage were the seven told why they were being held. "When
we asked they would just shrug their shoulders."
The seven were then
told that the secret police were coming to fetch them. "It was about 9pm now
and things were escalating. They did not know that we had cellphones so I
phoned a colleague in Cape Town (at the law firm Fairbridge Arderne and
Lawton) and told her that I thought we were being held on suspicion of being
The police then confiscated the cellphones, except for one
that Athol Moult slipped into the side of his shoe.
At 10.15pm three
men in black trenchcoats arrived. "They looked exactly the way bad guys do in
The seven were packed into the back of a Land Rover for a
two-hour journey to Karoi in the rain. "We were dressed in shorts and
T-shirts and froze our b*lls off."
At Karoi they were herded into a
room. "They then took us out, two at a time, to a room for questioning. Then
they took four of us, loaded us on the back of a bakkie with about 13 guys in
trench coats and drove off. This was two in the morning and we got no
Groeneveld expected the worst. "I quietly said a few
prayers and made my peace."
The bakkie stopped outside a building with
three interrogation rooms. "We were taken in one at a time and questioned by
At every place of interrogation they had seen posters
detailing the rights of prisoners, but when Groeneveld stopped to read a
poster he was told: "That doesn't apply to you. Don't read it."
were several rounds of interrogations and at one point an interrogator said:
"This is s**t. I should be in bed with my wife."
At 4am a second group of
interrogators arrived. "We endured another series of questions, especially
about any military training. When and how did you serve? Your favourite
weapon? That kind of crap."
At 5am the seven were told that everything
was OK and they would be released at 6am. "It was all smiles."
nothing happened. "The next thing military intelligence guys arrived from
Harare. An evil bunch. I asked if they suspected us of being mercenaries and
they said 'yes'."
The interrogations continued and by 10am the seven
still had no indication that anyone in the outside world had any idea where
they were. "We were told we could be held for 30 days and not to worry
because we only had 29 to go."
Then a young farmer walked into the police
station and Groeneveld managed to slip him a business card. "I asked him to
tell my firm to get us an attorney."
Groeneveld also decided to risk
using Moult's cellphone. He made the 30m walk to the toilet under armed guard
and then tried to SMS the law firm. He was unable to send the SMS and decided
to turn the phone off. "This guy with an AK-47 was standing right outside the
toilet door and I figured the worst thing that could happen was for the phone
Another farmer arrived, took one look at the state of the seven
lying on the floor of the police station and went to buy them Cokes and pies.
"He was a real life-saver."
Groeneveld also managed to slip a business
card to this farmer. Then four more interrogators arrived from Harare and the
questioning started again. "These guys would circle you for three or four
minutes, not saying anything. Then they would ask your name and give you the
evil eye again for several minutes."
In the meantime the two farmers
had both called the law firm and a Zimbabwean attorney arrived at 1pm and
told the seven that the firm had launched an application in an Harare court
to have them released.
At 2pm there was a call from authorities in Harare
to release the men. "But the police chief just kicked our attorney out of his
office and out of the police station. And there we sat."
minutes later the attorney returned to say the South African
High Commissioner had been denied permission to leave Harare to visit the
Everything changed at 3.30pm when an official fax came through
informing the police chief to release them. "He gave us this long speech
saying it was all a misunderstanding. He hoped we would visit again and that
there were no hard feelings."
The men were also asked to pay an
admission of guilt fine for not having permits for their motorised rubber
ducks. "We said forget it. We had been through seven rounds of questioning
and we had done everything by the book. The police chief said 'if you don't
want to sign that's fine' and handed us back our passports and
The seven were packed onto the back of a bakkie and taken to
their camp at the pools where they arrived at 9pm and were re-united with the
two remaining team members.
"We went to the National Parks warden and
said we would be leaving the next morning. We asked him if he wanted us to
paddle out of the pools but he said 'no problem, just go'. All that s**t
about motorised boats was just that - s**t."
The nine men set off at
6.30am and ultimately finished their expedition at the mouth of the Zambezi
about 250km north of Beira. They flew to Johannesburg and then back home to
their families in Cape Town on Sunday.
Groeneveld put the Zimbabwean
authorities' heavy-handed approach down to fears that people would try to
rescue the alleged mercenaries. "I guess tourists in Zimbabwe do look
suspicious, because who the hell would go on a holiday there
.. This article was originally published on page 5 of
The Cape Argus on April 17, 2004
- Zimbabwe's cricket rebels were considering a three week deadline from their
cricket chiefs in which to withdraw a demand for the reinstatement of captain
Heath Streak and to make themselves available for selection in future matches
and tours. The Zimbabwe Cricket Union, which told them that if they did not
show up for practice Friday "action would be taken", have held back by giving
them this ultimatum.
But if they do not comply by the deadline, May 8,
they will either be suspended or dismissed.
ZCU chairman Peter
Chingoka said Thursday: "They are employees, after all."
The 15 dissident
players, although advised to soften their stance by their lawyer Chris
Ventura, seem hell bent on continuing the stand-off over the removal of
Streak in particular.
The chief executive of the ZCU, Vincent Hogg, told
AFP there had been no writs and counter-writs as reported in the Times of
London and other British newspapers on Saturday.
"The letter is what
is on the table" he said.
Neither Venturas, nor any senior white player,
was available for comment or to give initial reaction to the ZCU
Meanwhile the new Zimbabwe squad, consisting of 12 blacks and two
white teenagers, arrived in Bulawayo for hasty preparations ahead of their
clash on Tuesday with one-day specialists Sri Lanka, who can expect to give
no quarter to their unexpected and little known opponents.
Lankans, under coach John Dyson, had a warm-up session at the Queens Sports
Club ground on Saturday. There will be further practice sessions in the next
WASHINGTON - The United States denounced
China and Zimbabwe for using procedural technicalities to thwart debate on
resolutions condemning their records at the annual meeting of the UN
Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) this week.
The State Department
said Washington would press ahead with efforts to prevent countries from
employing "no action" motions to block criticism, and maintained that neither
Beijing nor Harare could claim to have been exonerated of abuses simply
because the resolutions were killed.
"Silencing discussion through a
no-action motion, we think, is inappropriate," spokesman Richard Boucher
said, a day after China and Zimbabwe successfully beat back the US-supported
"We're disappointed that China and Zimbabwe chose to employ
that tactic and we applaud countries that allow an examination and
exploration of their record," he told reporters.
"We think that
countries that try to block any discussion can certainly not be called
cleared," Boucher said, referring to Zimbabwe's claim that the commission had
given it a clean bill of health on the human rights front.
justice minister was quoted by state media as saying the defeat of the
resolution was a "a victory for Zimbabwe and the Third World countries which
have stood against abuse of the commission by Western countries."
Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry called on the United States, which had
sponsored the anti-China resolution, to "face the reality" of its defeat and
cease attempts to get the commission to condemn it.
"We demand the US
side face the reality, draw lessons from its failure, abandon confrontation
and resolve the difference between China and the United States on human
rights" through dialogue, spokesman Kong Quan said.
But Boucher said
Washington would stand firm, continue to speak out about human rights abuses
and push for reforms that would bar the use of "no action" motions by
countries seeking to stop debate on their records.
"If they don't want to
discuss it, then obviously there is something they're trying to hide," he
The United States "will continue to push ... to try to ensure that
people who themselves are guilty of violations of human rights are not
allowed to sit and prevent judgment on themselves and others," Boucher
Even if a resolution is eventually defeated, debate on the issues
"can make these countries face the music to some extent," he