Mugabe conceals poll evidence From The
COMPUTER experts trying to uncover evidence of vote
rigging in Zimbabwe's presidential elections are being denied access to a
digital copy of the voters' roll. Nearly six weeks after the elections, in
which President Robert Mugabe was declared the victor, there was still no
publicly available copy of the full list of registered voters. Nor had any
official election results been published, apart from the confused
announcements over state radio by Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede two days
after the poll. The limited information that Roland Whitehead, a human rights
activist, and his small team of volunteers have managed to secure indicates
huge discrepancies in voting patterns – voters who are dead, multiple
registered votes and possibly thousands of voters with fake identity
The disclosures are contained in a legal petition, issued on
Wednesday by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, to have Mr
Mugabe's victory set aside. He was said to have won 2.6 million votes,
400,000 more than Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader.
Most of the world
has declared the elections neither free nor fair. Now Mr Whitehead believes
he is on the brink of exposing evidence of outright fraud. "The key is the
voters roll," he said. "But Mudede won't give it to us. What can we assume
except that he has something to hide?"
Mr Mudede has said that he will
give them a 100,000-page document containing 5.5 million names. But that, Mr
Whitehead said, "is just a truckload of paper. It would be impossible to
handle". Each page contains the details of 55 voters, and takes an hour to
input on a computer. A comprehensive analysis can be done only on digital
He has offered to pay Mr Mudede $40,000 for the voters roll on
compact discs, the same as the official charge for the paper documents. Mr
Mudede has refused.
"He can do it, he's done it before," Mr Whitehead
said. In January, Mr Mudede took only two hours to produce the voters roll,
as it was then, compressed into four CDs, after Mr Whitehead went to court to
force him to release it.
Before the election Mr Mudede secretly
registered another 400,000 people, but only in strongholds of Mr Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF party. He has refused to make this "supplementary roll"
Mr Whitehead did manage to obtain from the Registrar-General's
office the paper documents of the final list of voters in two constituencies
in Mr Mugabe's heartland.
He input 5000 names from one of them,
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, into a computer programmed with the digital formula
that the National Registration Centre, the repository of national identity
cards, uses to configure ID numbers to be able to check validity.
ran them through the test, and 9.8 per cent were invalid," Mr Whitehead said.
"It's very interesting that with the copy of the roll we got in January,
there was not a single wrong ID number."
The MDC is again asking the High
Court to order Mr Mudede to produce the full voters roll. He is due to
respond to the challenge in court today.
4/19/02 12:05:24 PM (GMT +2) By Sandra Nyaira Political
ZIMBABWE yesterday marked its 22nd birthday with President Mugabe
admitting to the crowd made restive by his late arrival at the National
Sports Stadium that the current drought had amply exposed the shortcomings of
the Ministry of Agriculture.
The devastating drought has left
thousands of people in the country on the brink of starvation.
World Food Programme and other donors have come to the rescue of the nation
and since last month started distributing food aid to people in the most
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement, Dr Joseph Made, last year repeatedly denied massive food
shortages were looming, claiming adamantly the country had enough
This saw the government taking a laid-back position in dealing
with the impending emergency, resulting in the massive shortage of the
staple maize-meal and other basics.
Well-placed sources told The Daily
News yesterday that Made had been told by senior Zanu PF politburo members to
resign at a recent meeting “if at all he was man enough” for having misread
the famine and misleading the nation in the process. Made still holds on to
his portfolio as Mugabe has delayed announcing the much-awaited Cabinet after
his disputed re-election.
Mugabe said: “The current drought has amply
exposed shortcomings in, and pitfalls of our agricultural strategy. We have
suffered a wet drought. Although our crops were destroyed by the drought
spell, most of our dams are brimful with water.”
Mugabe said the
government had invested so much in water reservoirs but had not been able to
convert that huge investment into greater agricultural earnings.
have come short on irrigation, which is why we have had a crop failure amidst
abundantly stored water,” he said.
Apparently turning to Dr Simba
Makoni’s Finance and Economic Development Ministry, Mugabe said: “Before our
economists can manipulate economic variables to ensure foreign currency
availability, the currency must have been earned in the first place through
“In government we have tended to waste time debating fiscal and
monetary measures without attacking the real source of foreign currency
“Clearly, focus should be on earning and properly accounting
for that foreign currency through greater production and value addition of
He said the government had not always placed the right
emphasis on the sectoral areas in agriculture, mining, manufacturing and
tourism, which are the basis of most export activities.
arrived late at the stadium resulting in the programme running behind, had to
skip large swathes of his prepared speech as the thousands who had turned up
at the National Sports Stadium became impatient.
His problems were
compounded by the poor sound system which rendered his speech
He said his controversial land reform programme had so far
benefited 210 000 landless small-holder farmers and that another 54 000 new
farmers were set to be resettled under the A2 commercial farming
“Land ownership in itself is not the answer or the panacea to our
problems,” Mugabe said. “It is a beginning, a precondition for answering the
great national question of national growth and development. Ultimately our
people must grow, develop and prosper.”
He acknowledged the majority
of the youths in the country were without jobs, with thousands of other
citizens being retrenched as companies continue to close down due to the
harsh economic climate. On the absence of basic commodities on the shelves in
the shops and the increasing and deepening poverty, Mugabe said they must be
“There has to be a new deal for Zimbabweans and 22 is a good
age to take a new turn and chart a new course.”
He said the government
would have to make some very difficult and painful decisions this year in
order to ensure the country’s fortunes are turned around. All government
policies must be re-oriented towards the “agrarian revolution without which
our economy cannot recover”.
Mugabe again attacked what he called the
imperial forces of Britain, Germany, Denmark and America for allegedly
interfering in issues pertaining to the running of this
“Whatever our detractors say, we are a self-made democracy that
does not stand beholden to anyone, except God . . . we, therefore, do not
stand beholden to any nation, great or small, we do not owe our existence to
any earthly power, none at all. Indeed, we do not live by the approval of
any foreign authority. This is our stance and one we jealously
Mugabe earlier on received a torch to light the Independence
Flame but it flickered out. He was given another one by the athletes who had
three other torches.
Ambassadors and High Commissioners from European,
including Britain, and the Southern African Development Community countries
attended the celebrations. Elias Mudzuri, the Harare mayor, and his wife also
attended the celebrations.
Constitutional Assembly (NCA)’s 6 April demonstration was a significant event
in the post-presidential election period in Zimbabwe. It was a clear
indicator that civic society has very little options left, but to confront
the government on issues they feel are in the best of
Confronting the government, however, can take
various forms and can also have varying effects on the struggle for democracy
The mass action that the NCA has now begun to effectively
and somewhat conclusively carry out has gotten a lot of tongues wagging in
the labour circles, women’s movements, students’ movements, intellectual
circles as well the ordinary man in the street.
The talk is generally
querying two fundamental points, the first point being whether or not the
Constitution wholesale should be the new rallying point of Zimbabweans or
whether it would be more significant to rally behind the singular call for a
rerun of the March 2002 presidential poll.
The second point where
eyebrows are being raised across Zimbabwean society relates to the question
of the form, duration and leadership of the mass action.
contending perceptions are important considerations when it comes to the way
forward in the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.
consideration that pits the issue of whether the priority should be a new
constitution or the pressing for the rerun of the 2002 presidential election
must be assessed on the basis of trying to gauge the political sentiment in
It would be imprudent to fail to see that the presidential
election rerun issue is an easily more popular agenda with opposition party
members, but unfortunately it is the least realistic. This is because it is
extremely unlikely that the ruling Zanu PF will succumb to the mainly
international pressure for a rerun of an election that scared it
At best the ruling party and government will most likely
expect a situation where they may try and put forward the agenda of putting
in place amendments to the current constitution of Zimbabwe in order to
create an exit mechanism for President Mugabe earlier than 2008 Ð the next
In this same consideration on whether the rerun of
the election is the priority, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) would have to pressure the government politically for periods and with
political resolve much greater than that being witnessed in Madagascar
A rerun in the present circumstances would be the equivalent of
carrying out a concerted campaign to overthrow the current government, a
situation for which the opposition is ill-prepared by a long shot. This then
needs immediate comparison with the constitutional reform agenda as being the
best form of action to take in the post-election period over that of an
The constitution reform agenda, unlike the election
rerun, one is all-encompassing and non-partisan. It has the capacity to get
across the political divide and create political consciousness within
Zimbabwe’s citizens that will create a democratic political culture. In both
the short and long-term, it is a sustainable strategy and is not as beholden
to the government of the day as is the struggle for an election
Its sustainability is self-evident through the continued existence
as well as popular support for the NCA within Zimbabwean society as well as
the foresight that it has in laying a level ground for any potential election
in the future.
To focus on changing wholesale the Constitution of
Zimbabwe is, however, not without its faults. The constitutional agenda is
one with a lot of political themes (human rights, judiciary, executive power
and parliament) in it and to keep these themes in a complementary position
would clearly be disadvantageous if there was to be no unity of purpose
around civic organisations that operate in Zimbabwe to bring about a new
constitution unlike with the agenda for bringing about an electoral rerun
which simply requires a focused opposition party.
In the event of
prioritising an election rerun or the agenda for a new constitution, it must
be asked as to what form the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe will take?
Will it be in the form of massive street protests, massive defiance
campaigns, insurgency or mass stayaways?
The protest form of Zimbabwean
civic society since the late 1980s has been characterised by street
demonstration and mass stayaways. These strategies are the only reasonable
options for Zimbabwean citizens to register their protest at the state of
affairs in the country.
There should, however, be a deliberate process in
organising these various forms of demonstration. The recalcitrance of people
to get involved in demonstrations staged by other civic leaders should
clearly come to an end if the struggle for democracy is to remain meaningful
to the Zimbabwean people. And the agenda would be a singular and unifying one
that unites more than it divides the populace.
The agenda for the
rerun of the election is not a good mobilisation point.
It is laced with
obvious individual organisation political interest.
Admittedly, there is
no endeavour without individual political interest, but there are agendas
whose significance outweighs an individual’s political ambition and the
constitutional reform agenda is one such programme. The rerun agenda would
have been simpler if it had been put in place immediately after the election,
but this has not materialised for various reasons.
therefore, unless the ruling Zanu PF party is unable to control the issue of
unavailability of basic commodities and the people of
Zimbabwe “spontaneously” rise against the it at the urging of the opposition,
then there will be limited possibility of a rerun of the election ever
becoming a reality.
This is not to say that the pressure must not be
kept up on the agenda for a rerun, but that it must no longer be of the
The priority should now become the broad-based struggle
for a new constitution in Zimbabwe. Where and when there have been
differences between the NCA and other important organisations in the struggle
for democracy in Zimbabwe these must now be set aside under an agreeable
framework to all.
While the NCA has its own individual member structures,
it cannot go it alone. Zimbabwe still favours strong coalitions that produce
action and results.
Quitting Magara accuses NAGG of being paid $4,5m by Zanu
4/19/02 12:07:48 PM (GMT +2) By Collin
BILLET Magara, the secretary for information and publicity for
the National Alliance for Good Governance (NAGG), who has resigned from the
minor opposition party with immediate effect, alleges that the party received
$4,5 million from Zanu PF.
In his three-page resignation letter,
Magara stated that he confronted Shakespeare Maya, the NAGG president, about
the underhand payment from Zanu PF but Maya denied ever receiving such
Magara also cited lack of transparency and accountability in
the administration of the party. Magara vied for the Harare mayoral seat on
a NAGG ticket but lost dismally to the MDC’s Elias Mudzuri.
letter, Magara lashed out at Maya, saying he was operating as an extension of
Zanu PF because he had received what he termed “blood money” from the ruling
Magara said: “If you received blood money, history will judge you
very harshly, not me.
“There is absolutely no need for a party such as
ours to grovel in the dust for favours from any other party. Where is our
political dignity if we become minions of either Zanu PF or MDC?”
said Maya had a serious attitude problem that caused him to feel insecure and
to regard everyone as untrustworthy or dishonest.
“You did not wish to
provide me with the latitude to prove what I could do for you and for the
party, because somewhere in your ‘humble’ personality lurks an angry soul
that rejects all attempts at giving trust to anybody you know and work with.
I fell victim to your very deep-seated distrust for reasons that are still
obscure to me,” reads part of Magara’s letter.
On the party’s finances,
Magara said he had unsuccessfully tried to appeal to Maya to have the party
accounts revealed to the executive committee.
Instead, he said, Maya
preferred to run the party’s financial transactions single-handedly, a move
that disillusioned most members of the party.
Magara accused Maya of
refusing to fund his campaign for the Harare mayoral seat. Contacted
yesterday for comment, Maya said he had, in fact, dissolved the entire
national executive of NAGG with immediate effect and that those saying they
had resigned were merely trying to save face.
Maya said the dissolution
would pave way for “a stronger leadership with greater resolve to tackle the
high demands of important tasks facing the party ahead”.
4/19/02 12:23:21 PM (GMT
+2) From Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu in Bulawayo
The shortage of maize
in Bulilimamangwe District has reached a critical stage as most sole traders
in the large area have no transport with which to carry the grain from the
Grain Marketing Board in Bulawayo.
The only trader with suitable means of
transport is Lungisani Manje Tayani Nleya, whose supermarket and grinding
mill are at Dombodema Secondary School, some 24km west of Plumtree, the
district’s administrative centre.
“The situation is so serious that many
people within a radius of 90km travel to Nleya’s supermarket and they spend
several days waiting for maize deliveries from Bulawayo,” a Dombodema
resident told The Daily News recently.
“Some come from as far away as
Ndolwane, some 70km north-west of Dombodema, and others come from Hingwe,
some 65km west of Dombodema.
“Others walk from Matjinge, about 40km
north-east of Dombodema,” a distraught woman who preferred not to be named
“We recently saw people from Brunapeg, some 100km south of
Dombodema,” she said.
People who had failed to find the staple cereal
at Plumtree had then proceeded to Dombodema, 24km westwards. The Dombodema
resident said if it were not for Nleya’s supermarket, many people in the
district would have starved to death.
An employee of a milling company
said: “We sell maize-meal which we produce occasionally when we have the
grain, which is very rare these days.”
Mugabe celebrates as terror continues By Peta Thornycroft in
Bulawayo (Filed: 19/04/2002) ZIMBABWE marked Independence Day
yesterday with Robert Mugabe promising to stay in power and many of his
people living in a state of terror that shows no sign of easing.
military parades, a fly-past by air force jets and a rally were held in the
capital, Harare, yesterday a woman of 27 described how she was attacked by a
mob loyal to the president's Zanu-PF party while she was pregnant.
weeks before she gave birth the woman, who cannot be named for her own safety
but is a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
was badly beaten. She is now in hiding in the southern city
After the attack she was bleeding but knew she would get
no help from the local clinic when she was told dismissively by a nurse to go
to "Tsvangirai's place" - a reference to Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
In her dark hut, with only her 10-year-old son for company, she went
into labour. "I think it took an hour. I cut the cord myself, wrapped the
baby in a sheet, and lay down and slept until morning. Then I went to wash
myself and the baby in the river."
She spoke quietly, wincing with
pain so severe she could not be touched, nursing her three-month-old
Three days earlier, unable to walk, she had been rescued by an
MDC supporter, and driven by a circuitous route to avoid police and militia
road blocks, to a non-governmental organisation, the Amani Trust.
Bulawayo, doctors found no bones were broken, but an orange-sized clot
of blood had grown on her bladder where she had been beaten. The baby
needed attention, too. When he was three weeks old, a group of 12 so-called
war veterans arrived at her hut late at night, beat his mother, grabbed
the baby, and swung him by his ankle around their heads. "I was screaming and
I escaped and forced myself to walk to an MDC house."
They lived in a
dry, remote area 160 miles east of Bulawayo. The district is strongly
pro-Mugabe and no one moves without a ruling Zanu-PF party card. The MDC has
Scores of injured people from the region have
arrived at Amani Trust in Bulawayo in recent days.
They said food aid
in the area was being restricted to Zanu-PF supporters after the World Food
Programme's non-governmental organisation partners left distribution to civil
servants. Care International, a Canadian NGO, has closed one feeding scheme
in the district after the complaints proved justified.
In Harare, Mr
Mugabe, 78, spoke at a football stadium only one-third full, despite sharing
the bill with a match between the country's two top teams.
Last month he
claimed victory in presidential elections widely condemned abroad. He told
the crowd he would defend his position. "Whatever our detractors might say,
we are a self-made democracy that does not stand beholden to anyone except
God," he said.
Mr Mugabe's 22-year rule, culminating in a land seizure
programme and violent repression of the opposition, has plunged Zimbabwe into
economic crisis, with shortages of food and basic goods, triple-digit
inflation and unemployment of 70 per cent.
There is no work in the
beaten woman's village. She has two sisters there, but only one has visited
since the beatings began. "I am MDC and it is dangerous for them to come and
see me," she said.
The baby's father, an MDC activist in Harare, does not
know he has a new son.
West wants to destabilise
vows to defend presidency as country celebrates 22 years of independence from
HARARE Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe accused
western powers yesterday of seeking to destabilise his country after last
month's controversial election, but said he would bow to no one but
Addressing thousands of people at a ceremony to celebrate Zimbabwe's
22 years of independence from Britain, Mugabe said he would defend his
position and his country's sovereignty.
Mugabe vowed to allow nobody
to overturn his victory, branded "daylight robbery" by his main rival Morgan
Tsvangirai and rejected by many western powers. "There is an imperial bid by
hostile countries of the west to erode our electoral democracy and qualify
But the 78-year-old former guerrilla, who also marked
22 years in power yesterday, said he was willing to work with all political
forces in the country for peace and national unity.
growing western pressure on his government, saying his ruling Zanu (PF) party
was being targeted for defending Zimbabwe's sovereignty and his decision to
seize white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks.
detractors might say, we are a self-made democracy that does not stand
beholden to anyone except God.
"Our democracy was not made in England,
Germany, Denmark or the US. We are a democracy that carved itself from the
war of liberation. We therefore do not stand beholden to any
"We do not owe our position to any earthly power. None at all.
Indeed we do not live by the approval of any foreign authority. This is our
stance, and one we jealously guard," he said.
Mugabe said his
principled stance had not endeared him to some western powers who preferred
"Today those nations that have sought to interact
with us on the same reciprocal basis still stand by us," he said.
fiercely guard our independence and stubbornly defend our sovereignty for
that's what makes a nation," he said.
Mugabe saw his land seizures as
part of asserting Zimbabwe's independence and said he had handled the issue
"How can people who don't own their land ever claim to be
sovereign? I am happy to tell you this outstanding task has been tackled
resolutely. Land has finally come to its rightful owners in meaningful
Mugabe acknowledged Zimbabwe was facing a severe economic
crisis that had seen poverty, inflation and unemployment rising in the last
But he said his land reforms would form the basis of an
agrarian-led economic recovery programme in which the state would offer
substantial financial and technical services support.
"There has to be
a new deal for Zimbabweans," he said.
On national unity Mugabe, whose
party militants are accused of continuing a campaign of violence against the
opposition, said: "Let us work to be one. Avoid quarrels, avoid fights,
concentrate on the building of our nation. We are ready for that, and if
other people are ready let's walk together regardless of our differences, our
Angry words flew between Zimbabwean officials and
Democratic Alliance (DA) members during a protest in Pretoria yesterday. "The
white DA dogs can go to hell," was one of the insults that greeted DA members
who demonstrated outside the Zimbabwean High Commission in support of the
people of SA's northern neighbour.
DA chief whip Douglas Gibson
retorted: "We don't use that kind of language here. Take your rudeness back
across the Limpopo River." Earlier in the day about 300 DA members marched
from the Union Buildings to the Zimbabwean High Commission.
produced a memorandum demanding, among others, media freedom and a fresh
election in Zimbabwe. Amid much shouting across the security fence, the
Zimbabwean officials refused to accept the document.
"This is nonsense,"
said Gibson. "They are sitting there, wining and dining, while their people
are suffering." With Sapa Apr 19 2002 06:47:01:000AM Cris Chinaka Business
Day 1st Edition
Concern Over SA's Stance On Zim Mail & Guardian
April 19, 2002 Posted to the web April 18,
Jaspreet Kindra and Mail & Guardian reporter Amnesty
International has voiced "deep concern" over South Africa's unclear stance on
a European Union resolution on violence by militia members and "war veterans"
in Zimbabwe, tabled at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in
Amnesty's UN lobbyist Cathy Turner said Amnesty saw South Africa
as a "key player" in the commission and among African states, and had not
yet committed itself to the resolution.
Amnesty and the rest of the
world community expected South Africa to take a stand against human rights
violations because of its experience of apartheid, she said.
were rife in UN corridors that South Africa might sponsor a "no action"
motion against the resolution. This device, routinely used by China to block
scrutiny of its human rights record, would prevent the commission from
considering the EU resolution.
Turner pointed out that the African bloc
in the 53-member commission tabled a resolution last year stipu- lating that
only they had the right to table issues of concern to the
Similar sentiments were echoed at the New Economic Partnership
for Africa's Development talks, which opened in Dakar, Senegal, this week.
South African presiden-tial economic adviser Wiseman Nkuhlu, who is at the
summit, told the SABC that African countries wanted to be left alone to deal
with African issues such as Zimbabwe in their own way.
The SABC also
reported that Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade had criticised the "trade
union stance" - continental solidarity -adopted by the African states on
Agency reports have speculated that President Thabo Mbeki and
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo did not turn up at the conference as a
possible rebuke to Wade for his critical stance.
Turner said the EU
had held talks with the African states on the resolution, which asks Zimbabwe
to ratify the UN convention against torture and urges the government "to
fully cooperate with all relevant mechanisms of the Commission on Human
Rights, including inviting them to visit the country."
several UN human rights special rapporteurs to visit Zimbabwe have been
turned down by the government.
Sources said that at South Africa's
insistence the EU incorporated a paragraph recognising "the importance of
fair, just and sustainable land reform" in Zimbabwe. The UN representative
from Spain, now chairing the EU bloc, closely consulted the South African
delegation on the wording.
The resolution urges Zimbabwean authorities to
allow civil society "to operate without fear of harassment or intimidation",
as well as seeking government assurances of "full respect for freedom of
opinion and expression, including freedom of the press in relation to all
types of mass media."
Reports also indicated that South Africa might
be softening its support for an optional protocol to the UN Convention
against Torture. After 10 years of drafting, a compromise proposal has been
tabled which would allow human rights experts to inspect prisons round the
Human rights monitors in Zimbabwe have alleged widespread torture
of opposition members by militiamen and war veterans.
permanent representative at the UN in Geneva, SG Nene, originally pledged to
co-sponsor a motion to pass the proposal.
But last Wednesday diplomats
were baffled when Nene stated that all such new human rights treaties should
be adopted by consensus, not by a majority vote. Raising the bar in this way
would almost certainly ensure that the proposal dies.
said the South Africans "now seemed to be on board". Nene could not be
reached for comment on South Africa's position this week.
spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa confirmed that the African bloc at the UN would
abstain when the vote on the European resolution is taken on Friday. South
Africa had not decided how it would vote.
MDC in African diplomatic offensive Dumisani
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has embarked
on an extensive diplomatic offensive to explain its position on a range of
issues, including President Robert Mugabe's disputed
Well-placed sources yesterday said MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai last week met Southern African Development Community (Sadc) heads
of mission in Harare to spell out his party's position. The
meeting, which was hosted by the Angolan ambassador Joaquim Augustino
de Lemos and chaired by Malawian High Commissioner Tujilani Chizumila
on Wednesday, heralded the MDC's forthcoming diplomatic sweep across
Africa. Angola and Malawi were among African nations that endorsed
Mugabe's controversial poll win. MDC secretary-general Welshman
Ncube confirmed the meeting took place. He said the opposition wanted to
impress upon African leaders that upholding electoral fraud would not help
matters but further damage the region. "We believe its is necessary
to appraise civil societies and governments in Africa about the situation in
Zimbabwe," he said. "We want them to understand that this problem will not be
resolved by violence and repression. "No amount of support for
Mugabe's fraud and destructive policies will change things. It just won't end
the crisis," he said. Ncube said the MDC would next month dispatch
three high-profile teams to key Sadc, East African, and West African
countries to explain the current national impasse. Some of the
officials to be included in the mission were party vice-president Gibson
Sibanda, foreign affairs spokesman Tendai Biti, external affairs secretary
Sekai Holland, and political advisor Professor Elphas
Mukonoweshuro. During his encounter with Sadc diplomats, Tsvangirai
warned Zimbabwe was bound to remain stuck in the quagmire because the recent
"stolen" election failed to restore government's legitimacy and national
confidence or end the country's international isolation. Sources
said Tsvangirai complained about several issues: repressive activities of the
uniformed forces and Zanu PF militias, miniaturization of state institutions,
state-sponsored political hugger, and the systematic subversion of
democracy. He also raised concern over massive government-authored
starvation and the use of militias in food relief
distribution. "Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe will not return to normalcy
as long as militias - whose training is gobbling millions in taxpayers' money
while people starve - were not disbanded and the rule of law restored," a
source said. "He said violence and human rights abuses have to stop if the
country is to move forward." The opposition leader - who has taken
Mugabe to court over his "fraudulent" re-election - said the only way out of
the current cul-de-sac was through a re-run. He said his party was committed
to talks with Zanu PF so long as they led to a transitional administration to
run a fresh election. On land reform, Tsvangirai said the exercise
was important but a lasting solution was needed. He said the violent land
grab had displaced a lot of people, especially migrant workers from Malawi,
Mozambique and Zambia. Tsvangirai told the Sadc envoys that claims that the
MDC was a front for Western powers were merely delusional propaganda. He said
the MDC was a creature of Mugabe's tyranny and economic hardships.
American blacks slam Mugabe over arrests Blessing
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has come under renewed criticism this week
for his crackdown on the opposition.
The president and chief executive
officer of the United States-based National Association for the Advancement
of Coloured People (NAACP), Kweisi Mfume, slammed Mugabe's decision to charge
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai with treason. The NAACP was invited
by the government to observe the March 9/11 presidential election. Found-ed
in 1909, it is the oldest and largest African American organisation in the
US. It has half a million members. Mfume sent the letter of protest
to the Zimbabwe ambassador to the United States, Simbi
Mubako. "The election is over. This sort of heavy-handedness to kill
off all opposition voices is too much for anyone to be silent about," Mfume
said. "These actions indicate that Mugabe does not want to live by the
basic tenets of a democratic election. You cannot run a democracy by jailing
the opposition and everyone who disagrees with you." Mfume said
Mugabe's actions could have "a chilling effect on democracy in Zimbabwe and
work against the precepts of the democratic process. "The NAACP
believes that democracy is a necessary precondition for social, political and
economic transformation and is crucial to attracting assistance for the
development of the developing world." It was in this spirit that he
was writing to Mubako about the treatment of Tsvangirai and other opposition
leaders, he said. Meanwhile, the Franciscan Fathers, an order of the
Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, has commented on Zanu PF's campaign methods of
intimidation, beatings, arson and disenfranchisement. In
particular, the fathers castigated the violence perpetrated by youths from
the Border Gezi Training Institute. "The use of youth groups and the
unemployed as pawns in a political struggle was shameful," the Franciscans
said. "It caused nothing but violence and destroyed traditional
values of respect for elders and concerns for the weak and innocent," they
said. The fathers also lashed out at the chaotic land grab exercise
and the growing favouritism in food distribution. "Party
membership as a requirement for assistance to those on the brink
of starvation is a sin before God and man. Who are the people making such
evil demands?" they asked. Mugabe claims to be a member of the
Catholic Church. The statement by the Franciscan fathers joins a growing
dossier of complaints about the conduct of the presidential poll, widely seen
as flawed. It was reported recently that President Abdoulaye Wade of
Senegal had added his voice to the chorus of those critical of Mugabe's
conduct. "Mr Mugabe did not respect the rules," Wade
said. "The opposition could not wage its campaign. There were many
deaths. Electoral laws were changed days before the election. We can't call
that an election. "I was in the opposition for too long to forget
the opposition as soon as I arrived in power," he said. "I refuse to belong
to this trade union of presidents. Mugabe or not Mugabe is not my concern. My
concern was what the people of Zimbabwe wanted."
MDC negotiators warned of Zanu PF's poisoned
chalice Dumisani Muleya
RECONCILIATION talks between the ruling Zanu
PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will experience
some turbulence next month after a precarious takeoff.
analysts say the coming stage of the bargaining would be difficult primarily
because the rival parties remain so far apart on
Zanu PF delegation leader Patrick Chinamasa and
his MDC counterpart Welshman Ncube were last week anchored in rigid postures
equated by observers to the north and south poles, despite a compromise on
The talks, which will have three phases that include agenda
formulation, negotiations and the writing of a final report, were adjourned
to May 13.
The next phase is expected to take six days of fevered
haggling at a private location out of Harare. Initially meetings were due to
be held at either Leopard's Rock in the Vumba or Troutbeck in Nyanga. Hwange
Safari Lodge has now been added to the list of possible venues.
understood the Zanu PF team initially refused to move out of Harare for
introductory meetings claiming to be busy.
The critical talks were
brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki and his Nigerian counterpart,
Olusegun Obasanjo. Mbeki and Obasanjo were in Harare on March 18 for initial
contacts with President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Mbeki subsequently dispatched the ruling ANC
secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe as his chief negotiator, while Obasanjo
appoint-ed respected diplomat Adebayo Adedeji as his envoy.
say a political settlement is necessary for Zimbabwe's economic recovery and
the endorsement of Mbeki's Nepad at the G8 meeting in June
Clashes between the MDC team - which includes experienced
mediator Bhekimpilo Sibanda who was involved in the transformation of the
South African Police during the Codesa talks in 1991-93 - and the Zanu PF
group intensified last week on Wednesday indicating an
Tsvangirai last week said it would be difficult for the talks to
succeed because Zanu PF packed its team with unsuitable - and unstable
"They are not serious," he said. "They sent
rabble-rousers to test the waters."
But Jonathan Moyo, who is part of
the Zanu PF delegation, also thinks the same of the MDC team. In an interview
with the Sunday Mail, the voluble spin-doctor claimed: "Frankly, I don't
think they are serious about anything but I would be very happy to be proven
wrong." He said the dialogue was necessary "even where it appears that
prospects of achieving anything useful are either slim
Despite Moyo's inauspicious remarks, the two parties
tenaciously fought over the agenda. The ruling party tried to block the MDC
placing its confidence-building proposal at the top of the agenda. In the end
the MDC gave in but, surprisingly, Zanu PF inserted the opposition item
on legitimacy - which demands a re-run of the presidential poll - as
the topmost issue.
Other issues included sovereignty, multi-partysim,
politically- motivated violence, the constitution and laws, an economic
recovery plan, and land.
Zanu PF is essentially fighting for
"sovereignty", while the MDC is battling for a re-run.
Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies professor Brian Raftopoulos said
the talks would be laborious.
"They will be difficult unless the parties
enter them in good faith," he said. "Zanu PF will frustrate progress and try
to make them as drawn-out as possible to get a breathing space unless
pressure is brought to bear on the regime by South Africa and
But professor of politics Masipula Sithole differed. "There are
precedents. Talks on Zimbabwe have a history of eventually succeeding," he
said. "There is no alternative to a settlement. Even talks about talks will
succeed because one of the sides is more wrong and will give in. Finally
a compromise will be found."
Other commentators said the talks are
likely to remain on the rocks because the parties failed to establish a
common vision. Instead, they just drafted an agenda without crystal-clear
collective goals. In South Africa during Codesa, the key accepted objective
was to establish a "modern, transparent, plural, diverse and effective
democratic state based on an adherence to the rule of law".
declaration of intent was adopted by all parties - except the Inkatha Freedom
Party and the Bophuthatswana bantustan government - to ensure the process was
binding. Decisions were taken on a general or sufficient consensus basis. But
in Zimbabwe's own version of Codesa, critics say nothing is clear except the
yawning gulf between the parties.
Insiders said Zanu PF brought into the
closed meeting a "shadow face", who presumably was a state intelligence
operative. The ruling party later identified the stranger as Cyril Machingura
after Ncube took issue with his presence. The party claimed the intruder
worked in one of its team members, Frederick Shava's office.
then walked out during a discussion on the adjournment of the talks. The
opposition team, which has been given an April 30 deadline by its national
council, said Zanu PF was delaying the talks to get a breather.
who-se job now seems to be issuing denials on independent press reports and
making threats to journalists - was again in denial.
"If the president
needed any space, then he got it from the people of Zimbabwe through their
overwhelming popular vote in the presidential election," he
But Mugabe's dubious mandate was secured through a wafer-thin
majority. He got 1,6 million votes out of 3,2 registered voters amid charges
of vote-rigging and violence. Tsvangirai got 1,2 million votes
despite extensive obstacles.
Analysts said the talks present
opportunities and dangers for both parties.
They said the MDC's
advantages are that it has got a unique chance to enunciate its policies and
push its agenda further. The party has been given a platform to direct
events, take Zanu PF prisoner and achieve a significant power-relations
But its advantages are limited because traditionally Zanu PF is
obdurate. The ruling party has already said a re-run is "non-negotiable".
Critics warn the talks are fraught with in-built risks for the opposition.
The hazards include neutralisation, absorption or legitimising the incumbent
Prominent author Gene Sharp pointed out the pitfalls of
political negotiations in his book From Dictatorship to
"Democrats should be wary of the traps which may be
deliberately built into a negotiating process by dictators," he said.
"Well-intended negotiators confuse the objectives of the negotiations and the
negotiation process itself."
Sharp said negotiating with despots gives
authoritarian regimes legitimacy.
"Further, democratic negotiators, or
foreign negotiation specialists accepted to assist in the negotiations, may
in a single stroke provide the dictators with domestic and international
legitimacy, which they had been previously denied because of their seizure of
the state, human rights violations, and brutalities," he
"Without that desperately needed legitimacy, the dictators cannot
continue to rule indefinitely. Exponents of peace should not provide
The MDC has put legitimacy restoration and peace as
its key demands. Analysts say Zanu PF has been given a good opportunity for
survival. It may, even though it's highly unlikely, manage to purchase
legitimacy, and neutralise or swallow the MDC. Yet the regime also risks
further exposing its sclerotic form in the process.
MDC MP Munyaradzi
Gwisai last week told the opposition leadership that negotiating with a party
like Zanu PF was both dangerous and futile. He said mass action and
resistance against the regime is the answer.
"Talks are both unnecessary
and destructive to the struggle for democracy," he said. "Why should the MDC
negotiate with a regime that butchered and rigged its way to 'victory'? By
accepting these talks the MDC leadership is falling straight into Mugabe's
trap," he warned. He advocated mass action.
Sharp said negotiations with
dictators are ineffective. "Resistance, not negotiations, is essential for
change in conflicts where fundamental issues are at stake," he wrote. "In
nearly all cases, resistance must continue to drive dictators out of
Gwisai said the MDC must transform itself into a resistance
movement and use sustained mass actions to achieve its goals.
must immediately pull out of the talks with Zanu PF and instead, like in
Madagascar and earlier in Serbia and Ivory Coast, as an opposition reject the
stolen elections and mobilise the masses against such a regime through mass
The radical lawyer - warning that Mugabe wants to absorb the
opposition - urged his bosses to think again about talks.
"We have to
ask ourselves why Mugabe should want talks so soon after elections which he
claims to have won resoundingly. The reasons are obvious - the regime is in
an irredeemable position," he said. "Why should the MDC leadership throw him
(Mugabe) a lifeline when their job is supposed to be to finish him off and
shorten the pain of the long-suffering masses?"
Moyo claimed Zanu PF does
not want to absorb the MDC because "I don't think there is anyone in the
ruling party who wants to swallow poison". Ironically, when Zanu assimilated
PF Zapu in 1987, the late veteran nationalist Joshua Nkomo said the ruling
party had "swallowed poison".
Exactly who is poisoning who in the current
talks remains to be seen.
Zimbabwe should not be an exception By Paul
ROBERT Mugabe will soon discover, if he has not already
done so, that it was a lot easier for him to steal the March poll than to
transform such tainted "victory" into a useful and credible
Had he stolen the election 15 years ago the rest of the world
would have turned a blind eye, sighed with exasperation and dismissed the
event as yet another African country hurtling down the path to
self-destruction. Unfortunately for Mugabe and fortunately for Zimbabwe, the
world has moved on and now refuses to endorse electoral fraud. It
must be pointed out to Mugabe that Zimbabwe is not just another
failed African state. This is a country where civic awareness is relatively
high. In June 2000 the people of Zimbabwe demonstrated their faith in
the electoral process by voting 58 opposition candidates into parliament. It
is common knowledge that Zanu PF would have lost the June 2000
parliamentary poll had it not resorted to its characteristic abuse of the
electorate by employing savage violence. Subsequent to the June
2000 poll, the electorate has voted five opposition mayors into power. The
opposition has also captured 64 urban and rural council seats. The opposition
enjoys massive support countrywide as evidenced by Registrar-General Tobaiwa
Mudede's own disputed presidential poll figures. In the face of a stubborn
and credible opposition Mugabe cannot successfully employ the same tactics he
has used in the past to destroy opposition parties. This one is synonymous
with the people of Zimbabwe and is therefore
indestructible. Fifteen years ago, when Mugabe was still considered a
hero, he could have counted on many countries to voluntarily rally to his
cause. Now he is reduced to blackmailing some African states into endorsing
his neurotic leadership. They do this to cover up their own shame and
embarrassment because when your fellow black brother or sister behaves as
abominably as Mugabe has done, the immediate reaction is to cover up in the
face of fierce external condemnation. There is this strange
perception in Africa that as soon as non-black people condemn a black
leader's behaviour, there should be a show of solidarity by other blacks. How
about universal principles that bind together our collective humanity
regardless of colour? When a black leader bankrupts his country by
pursuing foolish policies he/she must be condemned. When a black leader
visits untold misery on his/her people he/she should be condemned. When a
black leader creates conditions in the country that diminish the sanctity of
human life such a leader should be condemned. And when a leader brazenly
steals an election the rest of decent humanity should condemn the leader and
the theft. Mugabe is facing unreserved condemnation from all those who
respect human dignity because what he has done humiliates black people who
have been treated badly by both colonialism and slavery. If the
outcome of an election is to be predetermined by placing all manner of
impediments in the electoral process why bother holding them? The sovereignty
of a people is expressed through the ballot box. Mugabe cannot determine for
Zimbabweans what constitutes sovereignty. His anti-imperialist stance cannot
hide the fact that in his 22 years of uninterrupted stewardship of the
country, Zimbabweans have become poorer, less free and subjected to untold
human rights abuses. At 78 Mugabe crowns his life by stealing an election.
What a legacy to bequeath to one's children and country! There is
lot of speculation about why South Africans decided to endorse a poll result
that they would have found totally unacceptable in their own country. One
theory is that South African intelligence was alarmed by Zanu PF's capacity
for violent reaction if it lost the election. On the other hand it was
concluded that even if robbed of victory, the MDC did not possess the
capacity to destroy the country. Expediency then took over for the South
Africans. The other thoroughly canvassed theory is that South Africa
is obsessed with a war of liberation psychosis and believes blindly that a
murderous, incompetent, corrupt and destructive party such as Zanu PF should
be forgiven anything because it participated in the liberation
struggle. The other rather bizarre theory is that Thabo Mbeki needs a
Mugabe for his presidency to approximate that of Nelson Mandela. Whatever the
motivation, South Africa has betrayed the many years of struggle for justice
that her own people embarked upon. The interim report of the Southern
African observer mission is a shameful document that does a disservice to
such a great people and a great country. Contrary to the
self-serving statements by Zanu PF that their victory is legitimate because
African states endorsed the poll, the more important issue is that church
organisations, non-governmental institutions and other indigenous bodies
within Zimbabwe have condemned the result of the poll and have not endorsed
Mugabe's "victory". These are courageous voices whose moral authority and
standing far surpass that of compromised African leaders who believe they own
their brother a favour which he might return when they in turn steal an
election. The agony of thousands of rural Zimbabweans who are being
beaten, maimed, raped and killed because they are perceived to have voted for
the MDC cannot be assuaged by the South African observer mission's asinine
observation that there was too much Western interest in Zimbabwe.
Themba Nyathi is the MDC's elections director. Next week he examines the
steps needed to restore electoral credibility.
Chinamasa to re-introduce disputed Bill Blessing
THE controversial General Laws Amendment Act, which was thrown out
by the Supreme Court on a technicality, will be re-introduced in parliament
when it resumes sitting, the Zimbabwe Independent has
Political commentators have speculated that with the possibility
of an election re-run now looming, government was anxious to re- introduce
the sweeping measure which governs electoral conduct. Minister of
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa confirmed the
ill-fated Act would be re-introduced in parliament in
its entirety. "We are certainly bringing it back, as it is, when
parliament resumes sitting," said Chinamasa. "The problem was with
the procedure and not the content. We were not doing this just for the
elections and this is why it is coming after the elections," said
Chinamasa. The General Laws Amendment Bill was passed by parliament
after the opposition initially blocked it. Zanu PF then cracked the whip on
its members and re-introduced the Bill, which sailed through when the
House divided. The Supreme Court in February threw out the Act
saying proper procedures had not been followed in the House. President Mugabe
then issued a Statutory Instrument restoring clauses governing electoral
procedures. Those will now be included in the revived
legislation. Among the measures re-introduced, people living in urban
areas will be required to produce evidence showing they have lived in their
constituencies for the last 12 months when registering as
voters. Postal votes will be restricted to diplomats and members of
the armed forces, disenfranchising thousands living abroad. Independent
monitors will be excluded and foreign observers will be hand-picked by
government. MDC shadow minister for Justice David Coltart said the
urgency by Chinamasa showed that he was anticipating an election
re-run. "The fact that Chinamasa is reintroducing the Bill so soon
indicates that he is recognising that there will be an election shortly,
otherwise he would not be in such a hurry to reintroduce it," said
Coltart. He said he hoped that Chinamasa had finally seen
reason. "We told Chinamasa in January that the steps he was taking
were illegal. We had to go to court to prove him wrong. He has learnt his
lesson and we hope this time he will follow parliamentary procedures,"
Colt-art said. He however dismissed the re-introduction of the Bill
in its current form. "If the Bill is re-introduced in its current
form it will be objectionable for it contains provisions which violate Sadc
election standards," said Coltart. Constitutional law expert and
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Dr Lovemore Madhuku, said
all Zimbabweans should reject the Bill. "It is not proper for people
to look at the Bill alone as there are other repressive laws such as the
draconian Public Order and Security Act," Madhuku said. "People
must work out a system to ensure permanent democracy. Those seeking a re-run
and those calling for a new constitution must remain steadfast."
Cornered regime bent on
settling scores IT has been an eventful week. In addition to the
demands normally associated with running a newspaper, I have had to deal with
the equally demanding task of responding to state harassment.
chief reporter Dumisani Muleya and myself as editor have been charged under
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and/or alternatively
with criminal defamation regarding a story we carried last week which
referred to Grace Mugabe. The story concerned a local company that has been
under threat from some of its workers. Anybody reading that story
will see immediately that there was nothing remotely defamatory about it. In
fact it suggested Mrs Mugabe did the correct thing in having the matter
referred to the Ministry of Labour. It appears the state regards the very
mention of her name as actionable. These charges are clearly designed
to prevent us doing our job as journalists and have a chilling effect on the
press generally. The laws under which we are charged are probably
unconstitutional. In nearly every other Commonwealth jurisdiction criminal
defamation has been repealed or struck down by the courts as incompatible
with democratic rights, in particular, freedom of expression. Last year Ghana
followed suit. It is interesting to see how a government so hostile
to the imperial legacy can remain wedded to archaic English Common Law
provisions of this sort. But then again, this is the same government that was
happy to live with the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act for 21 years and then
fashioned something even more draconian than South Africa's 1982 State
Security Act to replace it. Grace Mugabe joined her husband on the
hustings during the recent presidential election campaign. She was reported
as having referred to the MDC as "a movement of cats and dogs" at a Bindura
rally. We are increasingly witnessing a process whereby President
Mugabe and his immediate associates are able to engage in name-calling and
abuse, yet prosecute newspapers that breach what they obviously consider
their imperial dignity. The Office of the President, let it be recorded,
resorted to abusive and defamatory language when responding to our report in
the Herald on Saturday. That will be raised in court. And our
lawyers have said that if any prosecution proceeds they want Grace Mugabe to
take the witness stand as they are keen to cross-examine her. This
newspaper was the first to disclose details of the abuse of a government
housing scheme in 1996 by a number of people close to
the president. Let those officials who have been so intemperate
and unprofessional in their invective against this newspaper be under no
illusion. Mugabe, contrary to the impression he gives, is paid by Zimbabwean
taxpayers. He is accountable for how public funds are spent. So are those
around him who benefit from those funds. We will subject them to the same
scrutiny that all powerful people in the land can expect from any newspaper
worth its salt. We are not impressed by this latest abuse of power by
the President's Office. They are behind this harassment, not the police who
frankly have little idea what these charges entail. The last time
they brought criminal defamation charges against our newspaper group, over a
story relating to Mugabe and Tongogara's ghost, nothing was heard from them
again. Nor have they taken up our offer to prosecute us for publishing
pictures from a reputable news agency of people without their clothes
on. We don't for one minute doubt their resolve to punish us. The
wave of arrests this week, which affected the Daily News as well as us,
reveal the agenda of a cornered regime attempting to settle scores with
inconvenient critics. Muleya is an outstanding journalist as
regular readers will appreciate. His stories are invariably thoughtful and
well- researched. And like so many young journalists working in the
independent sector he is utterly unimpressed by the hamfisted attempts of
this regime to prevent exposure of its record of misrule. The
International Press Institute, based in Vienna, recently reported
that "Robert Mugabe's desperate desire to hold on to power in Zimbabwe was
one of the most significant press freedom issues of the
year. "President Mugabe and his Zanu PF party," the IPI said,
"pursued a systematic policy of intimidating editors and journalists,
restricting the work of foreign correspondents and drafting repressive media
legislation. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is the complete failure of
the government to condemn violence." Let us not forget in all this
that the police have made no progress whatsoever in their court-ordered
investigation into the abduction and torture of former Standard editor Mark
Chavunduka and reporter Ray Choto. And nobody has been prosecuted for two
bomb attacks on the Daily News. We welcome the opportunity to test
the legitimacy of Jonathan Moyo's malignant Access to Information law in the
courts. We will not allow an increasingly criminal regime to curb our
right to free expression without a
Feedback The late, dead and
I JUST love seeing caricatures by irreverent
cartoonists of motor-mouth Moyo. His depiction as an exaggerated egghead is
brilliantly apt. I wish though I could similarly praise other aspects of much
of our local press. For example, some of the terminology employed in
our news- papers is, to reproduce an expression, hard to "cope up" with -
particularly as it's a problem that seems to have been around in the local
press for as long as the born-frees have been anything. This has
more to do with proof-reading and the expertise of sub-editors than with the
proficiency of contributors in what might well be a second language to them.
One effect is to leave one wondering why prominent people never fly into
Zimbabwe. They "jet in". Always. "Chissano jets in", scream the headlines.
Strangely though, nobody ever jets out. They either fly or they simply
leave. Meanwhile, back on what's left of the ranch, it's the end of
the "rain" season that barely was. Where the adjectival "y" went to is
unclear. It's in good company though. If a local daily is to be believed,
just a few days ago another 17 "herd" of cattle disappeared, leaving bemused
readers to wonder just how many head were in each herd. If these
animals are ever located, the chances are they will all be found in a bush.
Many things happen in a bush these days, ranging from rape to robbery. Mind
you, in some locations there's probably not too much left of the treed areas
we used to know - beyond solitary shrubs scattered here and there, that
is. So, although it is inadvertent, there is a degree of aptness
there at least. If by chance the cops stumble upon the thieves, those light-
fingered gentry might just get beaten with baton sticks, or if you comprenez
the mix, stick sticks. It seems to be the procedure these days and part of
the drill for these replacements to the now dimly remembered professional
police. Sometimes we read about cops even employing their "button"
sticks to do the job. In days of old, batons were used to effect an arrest
whereas button sticks were used in polishing the brass to be found on the
well-pressed uniforms of those days. Times change though. Old
habits, that used to die, now become late. Full stop. So when we read that so
and so is now late, we know he hasn't missed the bus or been tardy in
reaching his place of work. He is in fact dead, deceased or has
passed away. Over the page we read of the thief who yesterday
received the supreme penalty of a "swinging sentence". A swingeing one would
have been sufficient to satisfy justice but Zimbabwean courts are nothing if
not robust. Quite often offenders get slapped by the magistrate - sometimes
with a custodial sentence and sometimes with a fine. And should an
offender be fortunate enough to make good his escape we might expect to read
an account of police hunting a man clad in a denim trouser and a stripped
shirt. Overseas readers might be forgiven for visualising a one-legged man
hopping free of the law, with his shirt in tatters. We locals, long inured to
our independent idiom, would more likely be looking out for a fleet-footed
desperado sporting a pair of jeans and a shirt distinguished by
stripes. Advertisements can be equally misleading. For example,
dozens of "decorders" get advertised for sale. To the uninitiated their name
suggests they could be useful in wiping video recordings from tape. Would-be
satellite television viewers looking for decoders find only relatively few on
offer. But on the off-chance they could try the cellphone numbers
associated with the decorders. Some addresses too suffer. In
particular, Cameroon Street and Stonechart Lane seem destined to remain
forever thus - despite having been spared any official change of name.
Remarkably, this licence is even extended to advertisements placed by the
city council and, even more remarkably, by people living or working in the
premises involved. Most readers are clearly not rocket scientists,
which is just as well for we have become used to being deluged with articles
by columnists and letters from readers telling us we don't need to be experts
in propellants and guidance systems to understand whatever is being set
out. A change of allegory here and there from correspondents and
more professionalism from newsroom incumbents would, I'm sure, be welcomed
by subscribers to a number of our newspapers.
Zimbabwe back to stone age
I READ with interest your article headed "Minister quashes rumour
of increased fuel prices" (Independent, April 12). I have to say
it made my heart sink as I read such comments as "Libya has meanwhile
continued to supply fuel to the country in exchange for
national assets". I would express this in a more straightforward
way by saying: "Libya has meanwhile continued to supply fuel to the country
via a barter system in exchange for the assets of the people of
Zimbabwe." It's like "selling off the family silver", as we say in
the UK! The article goes on to confirm and compound the present
barter system with:
"Chindori-Chininga said some of the fuel was being
paid for through a beef export deal..." What this signals to
people outside Zimbabwe is that the country is practically an economic
"basket case" and that it has all but abandoned currency (as a means of trade
utilised by humanity for over 2000 years) for the alternative method of
stone-age barter! A very sad state of affairs indeed. And I wonder
who brought such a fine country to this abyss?
No value is too low for Zimdollar
I WISH to comment on Nhlanhla Nyathi's article (Independent,
April 5) titled "The rate at which authorities should devalue the
dollar". The article was very interesting as an academic study.
However, your readers should be clear on the assumptions as they are
obviously not applicable to Zimbabwe at this time, and the implied value for
the dollar of $110 to the US dollar is far out as a result. You only have to
look at the actual value of the dollar on the parallel market to see that the
gap is too large to explain on the basis of risk. For those who
have not read it, the article basically suggests that 1995 was the last time
our currency had a suitable value. It goes on to suggest that making a few
adjustments such as inflation since then would lead to this figure. Now the
real world doesn't work that way. There are other factors which may
play a part in determining the value of the dollar. Some were rightly listed
by the writer. I would add others. The following factors have not been stable
since 1995: Exports have been cut dramatically. Food production has been
reduced to a level where we need lots of imports. Therefore a huge gap has
been opened requiring us to either export more or import less. The balance is
normally struck by devaluing the currency. When looking for a fair
price for export goods, customers look at reliability, accountability to the
customer, quality, delivery dates and marketing. All of these play their part
in determining the demand for our products and the prices paid for them. This
also has a bearing on the exchange rate. If we want to create employment in
the export sector, or even at home, these features are paramount. Have any of
these held steady since 1995 or improved recently? I cannot think of any that
have. Now to the immediate question of concern: What should the free
market rate for the Zimbabwe dollar actually be now? How should the
authorities deal with that? If the forex market was free, it is
very difficult to decide what figure would apply. When a nation cannot
balance the books, ie exports are too few to pay for the needed imports, the
currency drops to a level at which exporters will be given a huge incentive
to expand whilst imports are discouraged. This normally restores
the balance over a period of six months to two years. That is the normal case
in stable political environments. An overdraft with the IMF may be used to
stabilise things in the meantime. That is to say, it takes time for exports
to expand to pay for current imports and an overdraft can plug that
gap. Alternatively, you need to devalue heavily to kill off imports.
This can be extremely damaging as some imports are critical to the survival
of some companies. In our case, and without the overdraft
facility, there is no figure too low to for the dollar to bring about this
picture. There must be a figure of course, but I cannot estimate it. The
reason is that no matter how fast horticulture and other exports may expand,
we are destroying our other exports at a faster rate than these exports can
expand. In addition, we are destroying our food base, thus increasing the
demand for imports as well. One of these things would be enough to cause
chaos. We have done both! The only way forward from here is to choose
between a free market in which the dollar is set at a level that balances
supply and demand and a dual priced market such as we have now whereby fuel
and power are given priority at the official exchange rate and the free
market is openly available for less important imports. Then this rate of
exchange will settle at a level that cuts off demand for imports to the level
that we can afford. What we urgently need to add to this is a greater
incentive for exporters, which means allowing them to play in the free market
or parallel market for all their export earnings as much as
possible. If this doesn't provide enough money for the purposes of
gaining foreign exchange to buy our fuel etc then our exporters need to be
paid additional sums in Zimbabwe dollars to expand. For example all their
Zimbabwe dollar costs could be paid by government, including
wages. These are desperate measures, but if we do not want these,
short of political solutions that bring in foreign assistance, who has a
better alternative? I think the government is using alternatives:
namely selling the nation's assets such as farms and businesses to Libya, and
others are dealing in DRC diamonds. I've heard that diamond money is abundant
around Harare. Peace in the DRC is probably a long way off. But this
does little or nothing for those of us who don't have diamonds to sell, does
Zim Independent - Opinion Why the ANC is unmoved by killings,
torture By RW Johnson
ROBERT Mugabe's speeches at Zanu PF rallies held
during his presidential re-election campaign consisted, over and over again,
of crude abuse of Tony Blair, a hymn of hatred against British colonialism
and an insistence that his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, was part of a British
plot for the recolonisation of Zimbabwe.
In his last speech, however,
he sounded a new note: there was, he said, a Western - and especially
Anglo-American - plot to destroy Zanu PF and evict it from power because it
was a national liberation movement. If this plot succeeded in Zimbabwe it
would then be applied successively against all the other ruling liberation
movements in southern Africa. Without doubt this is a conviction
quietly shared by the ruling groups in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South
Africa and it goes far to explain their reaction to the unfolding crisis in
Zimbabwe. Had the Soviet Union not abruptly collapsed and the Cold War ended,
there is little doubt that sentiments such as Mugabe's would have been heard
from these leaders as they greeted each visiting delegation from the USSR and
the Eastern bloc. This is, indeed, the great submerged motif behind
the Zimbabwean crisis. The world had changed so that Presidents Joachim
Chissano, Sam Nujoma and Thabo Mbeki find themselves, incongruously,
hobnobbing with the Queen at Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings,
rubbing shoulders with Bill Gates at World Economic Summits and shaking hands
with George W Bush at G8. It is no longer politic to make ringing speeches in
which all these liberation movements are depicted as locked in a continuing,
indeed endless, struggle to the death against imperialism. But
this is not to say such notions have disappeared, merely that they
have become tacit, sotto voce. They remain almost the deepest beliefs
such leaders have, providing them from their earliest years with a
heroic definition of themselves and their movements and where they fit into
the grand sweep of history. Since the eruption of the Zimbabwean
crisis following Mugabe's defeat in the constitutional referendum of February
2000, there have been repeated summit meetings of the region's ruling
national liberation movements (NLMs). Such summits were not thought necessary
until Mugabe's defeat opened up the prospect that a ruling NLM might actually
lose power. This nightmare could only be explained by a fresh assault from
imperialist forces, in which case they were all threatened. Immediately,
Mugabe's struggle to stay in power became a struggle for their own survival
too. Supporting Zanu PF was no longer just a matter of solidarity but of
fundamental self-interest. It is this perspective which explains why
Mbeki, though he might prefer Mugabe to hand over to a younger man or
constitute a government of national unity, has been unwavering in his
insistence that Zanu PF must retain power. It is why the ANC will always
regard Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC as a lesser breed - at worst
Inkatha-like puppets, at best the unintentional dupes of imperialism. It is
why the ANC is so wholly unmoved by all the killings, torture, beatings and
rapes inflicted on the MDC: such things happen in the struggle against
imperialism and the only solution is the final triumph of national
liberation. It is also why most of the election observers sent by
Mbeki were wholly unbothered by such matters as ballot-stuffing by Zanu PF
and the manufacture of between 600 000 and one million bogus votes for
Mugabe; why they were unwilling to recognise Zanu PF thuggery even when they
were the victims of it themselves; and why they did not even stay for the
ballot count. For they had really gone on a mission of solidarity with
Mugabe, not as impartial observers at all. Their mission was to help cement
him back in power and to describe such a result as legitimate. The verdict
that the election would pass muster had been decided long before the
observers set out. The NLMs share what can only be termed a common
theology. National liberation is both the just and historically necessary
conclusion of the struggle between the people and the forces of racism and
colonialism. This has two implications. First, the NLMs - whatever venal sins
they may commit - are the righteous. They not merely represent the masses but
in a sense they are the masses, and as such they cannot really be
wrong. Secondly, according to the theology, their coming to power represents
the end of a process. No further group can succeed them for that would mean
that the masses, the forces of righteousness, had been overthrown. That, in
turn, could only mean that the forces of racism and colonialism, after
sulking in defeat and biding their time, had regrouped and launched a
counter-attack. Thus it follows that having won, a NLM should stay in
power forever. Many NLM true believers still favour a one-party state - even
if it has become impolitic to say so - for if other parties are allowed or
encouraged to compete with the NLM, they can only become the vehicles of
imperialist counter-attack. Hence the extraordinary self-righteousness, even
now, of Mugabe and the Zanu PF leadership. However much they kill and
torture, they are utterly convinced of their superior moral standing. They
are the elect. The only alternative to them, they believe, must be a return
to British colonialism - even though this requires a certain degree of
mental gymnastics, given the way in which British colonialism intervened in
1980 to help get rid of Ian Smith and smooth Mugabe's way to
power. The real truth about the NLM governments is that they allow a
corrupt elite to cling to power indefinitely. The Zanu PF elite is now
benefiting from "blood diamonds" in a way which even King Leopold's ghost
would admire. None of the NLM governments shows much concern for
their own poor and all of them have lamentable records of delivery. In every
country they govern life expectancy is shrinking and living conditions are
generally worsening. Not surprisingly, this is leading to the rapid decay of
the NLM culture - but just as Karl Marx spoke of the uneven development of
capitalism, so their decay is uneven too. It has reached a terminal condition
in Zimbabwe first, and the other NLM governments are rushing to resurrect it.
But the same decline will gradually face them all. This is,
indeed, the awful warning in Mugabe's current predicament. If ordinary black
voters across southern Africa see Mugabe ejected from power by his
electorate, they will be electrified to face up to their own self-righteous
elites who are determined to rule and enrich themselves forever in the name
of liberation. Prof RW Johnson is an author and journalist. This
edited article first appeared in Focus magazine.
Eximbank gives Airzim ultimatum THE
Export/Import Bank (Exim-bank) of the United States has given Air Zimbabwe
until April 30 to make good its debt of US$27,8 million or lose
The Zimbabwe Independent reported last week that Air
Zimbabwe's major shareholder, the government, had reneged on its payments for
the purchase of two Boeing 767 aircraft. Payments were suspended in December
2000 and had, by March 15 this year, accrued interest of US$1,67
In an April 4 letter addressed to acting Air Zimbabwe managing
director Rambai Chingwena and Finance minister Simba Makoni, Eximbank said
Air Zimbabwe had failed to meet six payments of rent under the lease, equal
to US$26,15 million, resulting in the bank acquiring the rights of the
aircraft manufacturers. "If Eximbank does not receive the entire
past due-to rent, together with interest thereon, amounting to the sum of
US$27,82 million by April 30 2002, Eximbank will instruct the lessor to take
all necessary and appropriate action...which actions may include but are not
limited to, termination of the lease and requiring the immediate delivery of
the aircraft," wrote Alice McNutt Miller, managing director of the bank's
asset monitoring and restructuring division. The Independent
however understands that government has washed its hands of the case and
instructed Air Zimbabwe to make good the debt as it was a commercial entity.
- Staff Writer.
Chamber of Mines calls for devaluation Godfrey
AS most of the country's mines battle to survive, the
Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines has appealed to the government to devalue the local
currency to ensure continuity for its members in the ailing precious metal
The latest appeal comes against the backdrop of mine closures
and retrenchment in that sector over the past two years. David
Murangari, chief executive, said that due to various economic factors that
are prevailing in the country, devaluation alone would not be sufficient to
assist in the sector plight. "The figure for devaluation which is
necessary to ensure continuity of the sector becomes very difficult because
we are dealing with a host of factors that are working against us," said
Murangari. "In that case the figure becomes very difficult maybe the
dollar should be devalued to 200 against the US, but under the circumstances,
a much more higher figure might be realistic since there are a lot of issues
that have to be looked into," he said. Murangari said that
although devaluation was necessary, he warned that if not matched by other
policy implementations, it won't work. "Devaluation if not matched by
other policy measures would not help the situation at all," he
said. "Presently, mines are making losses, the support price is now
in place, but there is need for a right currency adjustment that is matched
with other policy measures." Although most investors, including
potential mining investors, had adopted a cautious approach towards Zimbabwe
before the presidential election, there is hope that the sector would
eventually improve. Of major concern to the gold producers in the
country is what many have termed the prejudicial control of
production. "The major problem we are facing is that all our
production is subjected to prejudicial controls by the Reserve Bank who are
only allowed to market the gold on our behalf," said one senior executive in
the gold sector. Another official within the mining sector said that
although their gold was being sold at $98 compared to the official rate of
$55, adding that this was not enough the sector was sourcing inputs at
between $300- $360 against the greenback. "We are seeing a
significant decline in gold production, we have been forced to mine high
grade ore to ensure continuity but this is very expensive." Murangari
said that despite the decline in the mining sector, foreign investors have
since shown their interest in development of the platinum group
metals. "There are still some investors, but my projections are that
growth would come from platinum group metals," he
said. Hardest-hit by the decline was the gold producers who recently
got a temporary reprieve as they had their prices adjusted. The
yellow metal producers were greatly affected by the hedging of the
local currency against the green back yet most their equipment including
the explosive are imported. The Zimbabwe dollar has been fixed at
55 to the US since November 2000, but trades at between 335-355 on the
parallel market. Yellow metal output, which accounts for about 52% of
total mining production, dropped to 18 tones last year from 27,7 tones in
1999- thus a 34,9% drop over a period of two years. The players
also cited the withdrawal of exploration tax which is no longer deductable as
affecting their continuity. The withdrawal was done 18 months ago by the
government. Murangari said as well as advocating for the devaluation,
they have also been meeting both the ministries of Mines, Finance and the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to highlight their plight. "So far we
have had very good meetings, together we are working to address the problems
the sector is facing, the meetings have been so far successful but urgent
solutions are needed." he said. However, prospects for a devaluation
of the Zimbabwean currency appear remote after the government indicated that
there was no consensus on devaluation. Yellow metal producers have
so far been kept afloat by the introduction of floor price, which was raised
to $29,280 an ounce last month, whilst producers can also retain 40% of their
foreign currency on all capital developments.
Debate needed on role of 'revamped'
judiciary THE comments this week by Sternford Moyo, president of the
Law Society of Zimbabwe, regarding the independence of the judiciary are
timely coming as they do after last month's flawed election. He referred to a
perception among Law Society members that the government wanted to pack the
Supreme Court bench with its sympathisers despite undertakings given by
ministers to the International Bar Association during its visit to Zimbabwe
There is already a pervasive perception that the Supreme Court
bench has been packed following the forced resignation of a number of judges
from both the Supreme Court and High Court. Several left after explicit
threats to their safety by ministers and war veterans. Others were
demoralised by racist abuse. Many were subject to both.
allegation that all white judges do not protect the rights of
ordinary Zimbabweans is unfair, defamatory and contemptuous," Moyo is
reported to have said. He also pointed to judgements, which had caused the
Law Society anxiety because they represented a significant departure from the
culture of upholding the Bill of Rights.
It is a matter of record that
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku sharply criticised former Chief Justice
Anthony Gubbay for advising people of their rights in law. The Supreme Court,
under his tenure, has recently denied applicants rulings that would have
reversed executive interventions with regard to electoral procedures. In
other cases residents who have been denied their rights by arbitrary and
dubious procedures of the Registrar-General's Office have been unable to
secure the court's protection in having those rights restored.
would not be too much to say that the Supreme Court has sided with
the executive in denying Zimbabweans the rights to which they are entitled
under the Constitution.
Judicial activism in defence of individual and
collective rights, it seems, has been replaced by complacency and in some
instances what appears to be sympathy with the ambitions of an overweening
This is not a judiciary the public can be expected
to respect. Judges must be free of executive and ruling-party attachments if
they are to perform their constitutional duties. And they must be bold in
That is not always the case in Zimbabwe today. The
judicial tradition of upholding constitutional rights established by Chief
Justice Enoch Dumbutshena and continued by Gubbay has been undermined by
questionable judgements over the past year. And it must be said, this was
clearly the intention of President Mugabe's ministers in purging the bench
of independent-minded judges.
The problem here is not one of simply
upholding the law. The government has proved adept at passing laws to fill
loopholes in the legal system. Nazi Germany and apartheid-South Africa built
their repressive systems on legal foundations. A judiciary attuned to a
rights-based culture should differentiate between good laws and bad laws that
vitiate laid-down rights.
Last year the Supreme Court gave the green
light for government to proceed with fast-track resettlement on the grounds
that normalcy had been restored on the farms. It reversed an earlier Supreme
Court judgement in a process that was itself questionable. Today, government
supporters are proceeding with evictions in open defiance of the law. The law
has been made an ass - with a little help from the courts.
maintenance of an independent judiciary is fundamental to upholding
the rights and liberties of all Zimbabweans. The existence of a bench likely
to deny citizens their rights of redress will have a chilling effect
on democracy in general. Civil society will be discouraged from carrying
out its duties including advising people of their rights if it
anticipates rulings sympathetic to the hegemonic claims of the state. The
present abuse of power by those surrounding the president will similarly be
encouraged by the knowledge of a sympathetic hearing.
taunts by ministers advising members of the opposition to test their election
loss in the courts advertises a conviction that they are confident of
This is not only damaging to the rights of ordinary
Zimbabweans, it tells the world what sort of system we have in
The Law Society should urgently fulfil its duty of reporting on
cases where it feels the courts have been derelict in their duty. And it must
take up Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa's invitation to criticise
Presidential spokesman George Charamba was
unrestrained in his comments this week on Justice Moses Chinhengo's recent
ruling ordering the police to stay away from ZCTU council meetings. Despite
assiduous attempts by the President's Office to suggest a black/white divide,
it is evident independent black judges who uphold fundamental liberties are
as much at risk as the rest.
The need to open up the debate on the
role of the judiciary extends to organisations such as the Legal Resources
Foundation and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights which have been strangely
silent when their voices should be heard in identifying judicial
If, as looks likely, Zimbabwe's once-respected judiciary
has been transformed into a pliant instrument of executive power, that
worrying development needs scrutiny and suggested remedies by those involved
in upholding the integrity of the legal system.
ZIMBABWE: 'Hasty deal will not end political crisis'
April (IRIN) - Regional and international pressure to end Zimbabwe's bitter
political conflict may result in a hasty deal that could undermine democratic
principles, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned.
Zimbabwe marked 22 years of independence from Britian on Thursday, President
Robert Mugabe struck a conciliatory note in his address to the nation. Talks
between the ruling ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are
set to begin on 13 May under the stewardship of South African and Nigerian
However, concern has been raised that the intense regional
and global interest in finding a solution to the political impasse could
result in a deal that endorses an election many observers believe was
AFP reported on Thursday that Mugabe made fresh appeals for
Zimbabweans to unite in the wake of the disputed March election that returned
him to power.
"Let us build our country, let us bury our differences. It
is time to close ranks ... time to grow, time to develop and time for the
empowerment and enrichment of our people, and this can only be done when a
nation is united," Mugabe reportedly told a rally attended by 40,000 people
at a sports stadium in Harare.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of severe food
shortages and faces an economic meltdown.
co-director of the Africa programme of the ICG, told IRIN on Thursday: "At
some point well into the negotiations, one can imagine a scenario where a
plan is laid down and ZANU says they can live with it under strong pressure
from South Africa.
"Yet this plan could be absolutely unacceptable to the
rank and file of the MDC. The MDC leadership would be under intense pressure
to make a decision, either they alienate their rank and file or they stand on
principle and risk isolation regionally and internationally."
was a recognition by the South Africans of the "enormous gulf"
between ZANU-PF and the MDC, he said. But they "appear to be focused on this
for as long as it takes, they have the confidence of President [Thabo] Mbeki
and President [Olusegun] Obasanjo".
The objective of the South African
and Nigerian facilitators was to immediately get dialogue going, said
Prendergast "Only later will they start to put forward potential compromises
and positions both parties might be able to move forward on. However, it's
important that South Africa maintain the objective of neutral
It was inevitable, he said, that liberation movements
throughout Southern Africa, including the ANC, would have "issues" with the
MDC's origins, platform and composition.
Said Prendergast: "Not only
is the model of a labour and civil society based political party considered
by some to be threatening on a political level, [they] also have different
views on how the region will move forward on political and economic
"Therefore, the starting point for the ANC-MDC relationship
will be more problematic than the starting point for the ANC-ZANU-PF
relationship, which is not all roses either."
role-players needed to be aware of the possibility of a "diplomatic ambush"
should a final plan be presented that is deeply flawed.
"Nobody wants to
see this thing escalate with [consequent] reverberations throughout the
region. That would cause deterioration in investor confidence and the
economic climate. Everyone wants a solution, but the solution must be based
on [democratic] principles.
"We have a Commonwealth judgment on the
election - echoed by the vast majority of Zimbabwean [NGO/civil society]
groups and the international community with the exception of a few important
governments and regional groups in Africa - that these elections were not
free and fair.
"Therefore, to ignore that and cobble together something
that simply legitimises a process that does not meet the minimum standards
for democracy, should not be the foundation for an agreement to end
the stalemate," Prendergast said.
Prendergast had on Wednesday
attempted to enter Zimbabwe to hold discussions with ZANU-PF and the MDC.
However, when he arrived at Harare airport, police and customs officials
expelled him. Prendergast was a senior member of the US State Department
during Bill Clinton's presidency.
"I had spent time with key people in
the South African government and the [ruling African National Congress] ANC,
talking about their negotiating strategy, so I intended to speak to both
sides [in Zimbabwe] about possible compromises [that could be worked out in
negotiations]," Prendergast said.
Prendergast's expulsion from Zimbabwe
came after the editor of Zimbabwe's Daily News, Geoff Nyarota, and South
African newspaper Business Day's correspondent, Dumisani Muleya, were
arrested and charged with abuse of journalistic privilege. A conviction on
the charge could mean a two-year jail term under the new Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
On Wednesday police used the
same legislation to charge another editor, Iden Wetherell of the Zimbabwe
Independent, AFP reported.
April 19, 2002 Govt has double standards on Israel and Zimbabwe -
from the Democratic Alliance
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
owes the South African public an explanation for its protest against the
arrest of Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti.
Barghouti is the leader of
Yasser Arafat's organisation Fatah in the West Bank. Fatah includes the Al
Aqsa Brigades and Tanzim. The Al Aqsa Brigades and Tanzim kill civilians.
Members of these terrorist organisations are evading arrest by hiding in the
Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Christ. Has Foreign
Affairs considered the fact that SA is overwhelmingly Christian? Has it
conducted any talks with the Palestinian Ambassador to discuss the
Palestinian response to the Israeli offer of exile or jail for the militias
occupying the Church of the Nativity?
Foreign Affairs has conveyed its
concern for the fate of Barghouti to the Israeli Ambassador in South Africa,
as well as to the Spanish government in its capacity as current chairman of
Simultaneously, SA is blocking a Spanish resolution, against
human rights violations by militias in Zimbabwe, at the Human Rights
Commission in Geneva. By resisting the Human Rights Commission's attempt to
send a rapporteur to Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans already robbed of the protection
of the courts are left defenceless.
The only consistent position the
SA government seems to take is one in favour of lawless militias and
terrorists, instead of a consistent position on the abuse of human rights,
from whatever source.
The DA does not take the view that the SA
government's earlier meeting with the Israeli Ambassador on the subject of
sanctions against Israel was necessarily hypocritical given its
anti-sanctions stance on Zimbabwe. It appeared to be advisory, and concerns
its difficulties with Arab pressure in the Non Aligned Movement, which SA
We do take the view that the government should
stiffen its spine against pressure, external and internal, and that sanctions
against Israel would be wrong from every point of view. Among other
considerations, they would reduce even further SA's remaining influence
with Israel, which must have suffered damage from the anti-Israeli World
Conference against Racism in Durban last year and from the pro-Palestinian
positions repeatedly taken by the Tripartite Alliance. The protest about
Marwan Barghouti sits squarely in that tradition and is at odds with
President Mbeki's statesmanlike congratulations to Israel on its 54th
birthday yesterday - and with his position on terrorism.
Africans have the right to expect their government to show more principle and
consistency than is presently on display.
THE Zimbabwe Defence Forces has denied that troops were called
onto the streets during the foiled public march organised by the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) two weeks ago. But its response is
bound to compound confusion as to who exactly ordered them out.
were assaulted as soldiers joined police in preventing marchers
from gathering. In a statement to the Zimbabwe Independent,
Defence spokesman Colonel Mbonisi Gatsheni said there was no military
deployment in the country over the weekend in question (April
5/6). "There is no war in Zimbabwe now, and as such, the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces (ZDF) are not deployed anywhere in the country in their full
capacity as the military," said Gatsheni in a written response on April
12. "Therefore all incidents of ZDF deployment in this country now
are not deployments of the army or airforce but deployments in support of
certain government ministries." Gatsheni referred all questions on
army deployment during peacetime to the National or Provincial Joint
Operations Centres (JOCs), which fall under the Zimbabwe Republic
Police. On April 5/6 the army went around Harare and major towns
throughout the country beating up people indiscriminately. The police, which
is entrusted with the maintenance of law and order, distanced itself from the
involvement of the army in law enforcement in a statement to the Independent
last week. Gatsheni said deployments in support of certain government
ministries could include Home Affairs (ZRP) and Lands and Agriculture, among