|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
President Robert Mugabe
announced at Heroes Acre on March 21 that government
was setting up a new land audit team, remarks he repeated to Zanu PF youths
the next day.
The United Nations Development Programme has asked for a land
donors can be brought on board. And as the agricultural crisis mounts
government appears prepared to comply but wants to get in first with its own
The international community has refused to fund
land reform saying it was
chaotic and non-transparent.
bigwigs are understood to be scrambling to put their houses in order
ahead of Mugabe's probe. This will in many cases involve putting their farms
in the names of family members and friends.
"There is unconcealed panic in
some quarters," a politburo member told the
Zimbabwe Independent this week.
The Buka report revealed that some governors, ministers and
well-connected beneficiaries owned up to five farms. There has been an
indignant response from those named, claiming the report is inaccurate or
driven by hostile agendas.
Buka told the Independent this week
that her full report would still appear
despite plans for another audit.
"When my report is ready it will be published and it will be
you," she said.
She refused to comment on the proposed
new audit saying it was premature to
"I cannot comment on something that has not been set up as yet," she said.
"I have not yet
been approached by the president and I cannot say whether I
will be part of the committee," she added.
A source in the President's Office said
the executive regards the Buka
document as only a "surveillance report", hence the need to constitute a
team to do a more thorough job.
source said the committee would be co-ordinated from the
Government sources said the audit team would
be supervised by a cabinet
committee, which would in turn report to the president.
Observers said the setting up of another audit team was an
government to show it was transparent in its land reform exercise. But there
was scepticism as to its findings.
"This report is going
to be filed away like others produced by previous
commissions set up by the president," said a diplomat.
The UNDP has proposed the setting up of
an independent audit of the
resettlement programme to identify areas where international donors can
assist. Diplomatic sources said the government was keen to pre-empt that
initiative by coming up with its own probe. And that there could be public
reprimands and even confiscations to impress the international community.
However, most donors are likely to remain unimpressed by this "window
Patrick Nyaruwata, acting
chairman of the war veterans, said his association
had not been included in the Mugabe committee.
"We are not included in the presidential committee," he said.
"The committee, we understand, has been
appointed from the cabinet and what
we will be doing is to monitor the proceedings. When we are unhappy with the
proceedings we will let them know," he said.
Industry sources said government could
raise the price of fuel before the
end of the month in a bid to restore viability to the industry and guarantee
supplies which have dwindled in recent weeks.
The sources said negotiations for another price rise
have already started
but it was unlikely the government would agree to anything more than a 300%
Indigenous fuel players this
week confirmed they wanted the government to
review the pump price again as the one effected in February was
"We have written
to the minister (Energy) to inform him that we need another
round of increases," said Chris Pasipamire of Royal Oil.
"The current margins
we are getting are unsustainable and they have not had
an impact on the availability of fuel," he said.
Industry players this week said a
pump price of $500 a litre would result in
improved availability of the commodity as it would enable more direct
imports. The players pointed to the fact that NGOs, international
organisations and banks were already buying petrol at US75 cents per litre,
which translates to $1 125 at the parallel rate of US$1:$1 500 and $618 at
the commercial rate of US$1:$824.
Sources yesterday said the government was uneasy about the
idea of a large
fuel hike as this would wreak havoc on its price controls for all
The last increase was on February 25 when petrol
went up from $74,47 to
$145,20 while diesel went up by 80% from $66,39 to $119,43. The industry had
proposed increments of up to $500 a litre for petrol and $300 for diesel.
Industry players at the time described
the hikes as arbitrary. They
completely ignored the concerns and inputs of industry, they said.
Meanwhile, supplies have remained critical as Noczim has continued to live
from hand to mouth due to a severe foreign currency crunch.
"We are dealing with that question with the Zimbabwean
"Indeed, we have said to the Zimbabwean
government that we would not agree
with actions that deny the right of Zimbabweans to protest peacefully,
democratically and so on."
remarks prompted a flurry of criticism in the Zimbabwe state media.
Ndou said in an interview Mbeki's point was that "it is a standard principle
that freedom of expression and peaceful protests should not be suppressed".
But Mbeki's comments seem to have provoked official
anger in Zimbabwe where
peaceful anti-government protests are banned.
A day after Mbeki's remarks Information minister Jonathan
Moyo said he was
shocked that people could confuse peaceful demonstrations with what he
called "thuggery", a term that lately has been liberally used in the
official media to describe any action taken or contemplated by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"Even children can
tell the difference between a peaceful demonstration on
the one hand and violence and thuggery on the other," Moyo was quoted as
Moyo, without directly mention-ing Mbeki, said only a
deceitful person would
confuse such issues.
"It would take someone
who is either dishonest, ignorant or malicious to
describe that violence and thuggery as a peaceful demonstration," he said.
Moyo said government
would punish dissenters associated with violence.
"We are determined to ensure that the rule of law will be visited upon the
culprits come rain, come sunshine. They can run but they will never hide,"
Although Ndou said he did not think Moyo's remarks represented
Mbeki, some appeared targeted at the South African leader.
In particular Moyo appeared irked over Mbeki's welcome to
leader Morgan Tsvangirai's recent call for the resumption of dialogue with
the ruling Zanu PF.
Mbeki said Tsvangirai's call for
talks was welcome and urged dialogue, but
Moyo scoffed at this.
"We don't believe Tsvangirai's nonsense merits any support or
from any responsible quarter," he said.
"We are very
disappointed that the usual quarters that make noise about
peace, stability, democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe have not
condemned last week's violence. It displays worrying double standards."
government-controlled Herald, which has attacked Mbeki in the past,
Saturday, following Moyo's comments, attacked Pretoria more directly.
"Not so long ago, South Africa arrested whites linked to a
extremist bombings and threats to topple the government," it said.
"(But) no one called for dialogue between the South African
the white right-wing Afrikaners to resolve whatever differences they had."
But Ndou said the Herald's comparison
displayed ignorance as the Afrikaners
in question were "an armed terrorist group fighting for a separate homeland"
whereas in Zimbabwe it was just a stayaway.
It also comes in the wake of an evident upsurge in state
terror which has
seen the arrest and torture of civic activists and opposition politicians
who include the Movement for Democratic Change vice-president, Gibson
Sibanda, detained on Monday andremanded in custody on Wednesday for
allegedly mastermind-ing the two-day stayaway last month.
In separate interviews this week, human rights activists
warned that civil
society has had enough of government's harassment and that protests were
"Remember that civil society today is
more mass-based," said Reginald
Matchaba-Hove of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.
"There is so much that we are doing on the ground
and the people now rely
more on us than the government."
Matchaba-Hove said while the government's totalitarian
emasculating civil society through infiltration and formation of rival
groups appeared to have worked to a degree, civil society was still growing
and well supported by the oppressed population.
know that once you tighten things too much it boomerangs. So too
much (repressive) legislation will lead to more activity and resistance,"
He said organisations that appeared to have been cowed
meddling were now being rejuvenated.
civil society is not as strong as it should be but much is happening
to improve this. On top of government meddling we had the formation of the
MDC which took with it a number of active members. So now is the time to
rebuild and the curve is growing upwards," he said.
He said since the
appointment of the new national chairman, Arnold Tsunga,
ZimRights was changing its image and there was some improvement.
Since the firing
of David Chimhini four years ago the organisation has been
seen to be ineffective. The clergy have also been seen to be directionless
and mute in the wake of ever-mounting state-terror.
Only last week it emerged
that the Zimbabwean Catholic bishops had protested
to their South African counterparts over criticism of President Mugabe's
government and support for Archbishop Pius Ncube.
Human rights activist Brian Kagoro said civil
society was now more
integrated than before and was working in coalition leading to the
impression that some organisations were doing less than others were.
"Some of these organisations that you are talking about are
coalition and I can tell you that they are involved in capacity-building,
civic education, torture documentation and so on," he said.
The new farmers failed to grow enough
wheat last year and the few who
planted winter wheat could not harvest it in time because of lack of
machinery. This year's countrywide crop failure could have been minimised if
the farmers were able to restore irrigation facilities to the same level as
displaced commercial farmers.
this week said the government wanted commercial farmers in
wheat producing areas of Mashonaland East, West and Central to return. The
start of the wheat production season is less than six months away and
government is keen to improve production to cut down on imports.
CFU officials said
information at their disposal indicated that some of the
290 commercial farmers called to the Department of Lands and Rural
Resettlement to discuss the position of their farms could be considered for
restoration of their properties.
"We are aware that some farmers have been called to
issues," an official said.
to use that chance to get agriculture back on its feet,"
Government last week invited farmers throughout the country to
discuss the status of their properties. Eighty-seven farmers from
Mashonaland West are on the list, representing 33% of the 290 farmers
Justice for Agriculture chairman Dave Connoly
said a total of 290 farms had
been visited by Agriculture and Rural Extension Services (Arex) officials
"Government has no money to compensate all these farmers," Connoly said.
"Properties on the
list range from highly mechanised farms to those with
limited activity," he said.
CFU chief executive Gerry Davidson said there had been no
communication about returning farms to their original owners.
"No official communication to that effect has been forwarded
"We do, however, understand that government
wants to revive agriculture in
the shortest time possible and the easiest way would be through bringing
back some of the displaced farmers who are skilled and have machinery," he
Davidson said the CFU would leave
individual farmers to make their own
decisions on the matter because of the risks now involved in the
guarantee the safety of the farmers if they are to return
to their farms. I am convinced that a good number of farmers are prepared to
come because farming is their only source of income," he said.
Farmers said they
wanted a restoration of the rule of law and respect for
property rights if government genuinely wanted them to return to their
The CFU said the down-turn in agricultural
production over the past three
years was directly linked to the displacement of their expertise and
machinery under the land reform programme.
The CFU said maize production by commercial farmers had
fallen from 810 000
tonnes in 2000 to an estimated 80 000 in 2003. The fall in production this
season has seriously affected maize seed production which would limit
production next year.
"Wheat production has fallen
from 280 000 tonnes in 2001 to 115 000 tonnes
in 2002. Production in 2003 will be limited by water shortage in dams and
river systems and lack of infrastructure - irrigation equipment.
Marketing of wheat, which is controlled, will also not encourage the few
farmers who have irrigation facilities to grow wheat," the CFU said.
"We discussed this matter
with the chair of the troika (Howard), and agreed
that it would not serve a useful purpose," Mbeki said.
"The reason for that is because the
Commonwealth chair had asked for a
meeting six months after our meeting in London (March 19 2002) instead of 12
months and, out of respect for him, we agreed to meet (in Abuja), at which
point he wanted us to impose additional sanctions on Zimbabwe."
Mbeki's statement comes as it emerges that
Don McKinnon's report on Zimbabwe shows the situation has not improved in
key areas since Harare's suspension last year.
Diplomatic sources say the report, which is yet to be
indicates no progress on issues of democracy, human rights, the press, the
judiciary and the chaotic land reform exercise.
Meeting again after Abuja, Mbeki said, was not necessary.
"We knew what the outcome of the meeting would be and
therefore there was no
point to the meeting," Mbeki said. "He agreed to that and said, indeed, it
would be a waste of time because we knew what the outcome would be."
Mbeki said Howard wanted the ban reviewed after
March 19, while Obasanjo and
himself thought it would expire automatically.
"He raised the matter of what we do with regard to the
sanctions, and we
said, as a troika we had agreed (last year) unanimously to impose
suspensions on Zimbabwe from councils of the Commonwealth for 12 months, and
that was the penalty that was imposed," said Mbeki.
"The penalty was agreed, includ-ing by the chair of the
Common-wealth. As I
was saying, we discharged our mandate."
said Obasanjo and him-self never proposed the lifting of
thesuspension, as widely reported inthe media, because the ban would have
elapsed on its own.
However, Howard has said the troika was supposed to meet to
Zimbabwe situation based on McKinnon's report. Mbeki and Obasanjo argued in
Abuja last September that no decision should be made then because it would
pre-empt a final decision at the end of the 12-month period. They have now
arbitrarily decided not to make that decision and abandoned the final stage
of the clearly delineated Coolum process, critics charge.
Meanwhile, Leon has demanded the release of the Commonwealth
"This report should be published by President
Mbeki in South Africa so that
our own foreign policy-making can be more coherent and transparent," he said
during a visit to London this week.
"It is my understanding that the report paints an extremely
of the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe, hence the disagreement in the
troika leadership," Leon said.
Commonwealth Secretariat yesterday told the Independent "there
are no plans to publish the report".
Leon made his remarks after holding talks
with senior British officials,
MPs, and McKinnon.
Mudzuri said he wanted his opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
to be a part of the committee.
"The MDC has the majority in terms of representation in
Harare and excluding
them is not acceptable at all," said Mudzuri.
Mudzuri said the council should lead any such committee.
"I made it clear to the minister that any such committee
must be led by the
elected council and the responsible ministry and not by Zanu PF and war
veterans," he said.
The illegal settlements that
Chombo is trying to legalise include Whitecliff
near Kuwadzana, Sally Mugabe Heights on Echo Farm in Borrowdale, Chaminuka
Housing scheme along Seke Road and another settlement at Hopley Estate.
There is also another illegal settlement at Acorn Farm in Borrowdale.
The Ministry of Local
Government still controls Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana
extension, and Hatcliffe extension.
"These were meant to be temporary settlements and
conditions there remain
poor. There are no roads and no proper reticulation system," said Mudzuri.
Mudzuri called them "creations of central
government" and said the council
would adopt them only after they had been fully developed.
"There is need for the central government to first
build the required
infrastructure and inject capital to the council to upgrade them.
"They cannot just be handed over to council when they
are substandard. The
other major problem is that some of these settlements such as Whitecliff and
Sally Mugabe Heights have legal wrangles and the ministry must first solve
such issues," said Mudzuri.
He accused the government of ignoring the Urban Councils Act.
"The Act, no
matter how defective it might be, clearly stipulates that any
plans have to include the relevant authority. They have been going round
this and later ask the council to regularise these settlements. It's not
feasible," he said.
The mayor said Harare caters for a population of 4,5 million,
includes the dormitory towns of Ruwa, Norton and Chitungwiza. He said the
council's facilities such as sewerage disposal and the dumpsites were
already overstretched and connecting the illegal settlements to the existing
infrastructure was not sustainable.
"Movement of maize, maize meal, wheat and wheat
flour from one specified
area to another without a valid Movement Permit or private trading in these
commodities is illegal," the notice said.
"GMB hereby reminds farmers and members of the public that
failure to comply
with the above statutes may lead to prosecution."
The government issued Statutory Instrument 235A in 2001
which made it
illegal to sell maize to any persons other than the GMB. Another statutory
instrument, 387 of 2001, makes it an offence for any person to fail to
deliver maize to the GMB within 14 days of harvest unless there is a
The invoking of the statutory instrument
comes despite the maize producer
price increases late last month. The producer price of maize was raised from
$28 000 to $130 000 a tonne. Agriculture minister Joseph Made said the GMB
would not change the selling price to millers. Millers buy maize at $9 600 a
Farmers Union executive officer Gerry Davidson said the informal
market remains lucrative.
"Farmers are still attracted to the informal
market and most of them have
been selling green maize cobs," said Davidson.
He said the raids last year had greatly affected commercial farmers.
"The maize that was targeted last year belonged to the farm
Most ended up starving as they failed to get any maize from the GMB," said
He said the few commercial farmers who
grew maize last year have not yet
been raided. He said the commercial farmers use combine harvesters and they
will only start harvesting later this month. Peasant farmers who normally
harvest manually have just started and are thus being targeted.
The inspectors have been deployed in Mashonaland
East, Mashonaland West and
Despite the raids
last year, most maize found its way onto the informal
market and was being sold at exorbitant prices. Police spokesperson,
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, said last year's operation was a
to stop the wholesale movement of maize at the roadblocks we
erected," Bvudzijena said.
He said the police would continue with the operation
The delegation will include
director of foreign investments for the Southern
Africa region, Dr Rajab Mansour, and Mustafa Tayeb-Khattabi, head of the
Libyan Arab Africa Investment company. Representatives from three other
companies reportedly interested in building a hotel in Kariba and investing
in shoe and plastic manufacturing as well as in cold storage will also form
part of the delegation.
Libyan Arab Africa Investment company general manager
Rajab Lasswad said his
firm had interests in Zimbabwe.
"We as a
company have Zimbabwe in our plans. As you know, we have invested
in the Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) and we are still prepared to take other
options in the country," he said.
To date the company has acquired a 14%
stake in RTG. The Libyans have also
acquired vast tracts of prime land whose location the government is keeping
Tayeb-Khattabi said his company was reconsidering investment
in a water-bottling venture after they opted out of a deal with Ibbo
Mandaza's Juliasdale-based Mvura-Amanzi.
The Zimbabwe Investment Centre and
Libyan sources said the trip would be a
follow-up to the 2000 trip which saw Zentuti hold high-profile discussions
with the Lesotho and Swazi governments on investment opportunities in the
construction and manufacturing industries.
The Libyans' visit follows last year's reports that
unspecified Libyans were
eyeing the country's biggest platinum producer, the Hartley Mine owned by
Zimbabwe Platinum Mines as part of an oil barter deal.
Of late the Libyans have been reported to be upping their
demands in the
country after Zimbabwe's failure to service a US$60 million line of credit
for fuel deliveries.
The Libyan ambassador to
Zimbabwe was not reachable for comment yesterday.
Taken on a
government-organised tour of damage allegedly caused during the
recent stayaway, Banda gave a little lecture on colonial imbalances that
appeared to have been borrowed from his hosts and proceeded to suggest
"certain elements" wanted to take over the country's resources.
But Africa would
continue to support Zimbabwe and President Mugabe's
leadership which the continent endorsed, Banda said.
"You can be rest assured (sic) that
you will ultimately win. The indigenous
people of this country will ultimately win," he said.
These remarks were made on the very day
that election results released for
Highfield and Kuwadzana showed that the indigenous voters of the nation's
capital had decisively rejected President Mugabe for the fourth time in as
Harare gave Mugabe
and his henchmen the boot in February 2000, June 2000,
March 2002 and last weekend. It must be obvious to all but the most obtuse
observers - and that certainly includes Banda - that the MDC would win a
democratic poll hands down.
How many times does the Zambian High Commissioner and the
diplomats who allowed themselves to be led by the nose around Harare and
Chinhoyi on Monday propose to ignore the democratic will of the Zimbabwean
people while swallowing hook, line and sinker whatever they are told by the
Department of Information and a highly-partisan police?
Banda needs to go back and read what the Ghanaian observer
group had to say
about the presidential poll last March before he cites continental approval
for the electoral theft that took place under the very eyes of some of the
diplomats on Monday's tour. And what "resources" are "enemies" trying to get
their hands on?
Why would anybody want to
take responsibility for the fastest shrinking
economy in the world? Agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing no
longer offer returns to the investor after they have been sabotaged and
crippled by government policies. Ask France's Accor or Malaysian investors
why they can no longer make a profit here.
And apart from undergraduate expressions of solidarity,
support has the rest of Africa given to the millions of Zimbabweans facing
starvation as a direct result of Mugabe's misrule?
If he has been quoted accurately, Banda has broken the first
diplomacy by interfering in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. It is a shocking
reflection of this government's view of their gullibility that only
diplomats from Africa were invited on its tour of "bomb damage". Other
diplomats were not asked precisely because they would have adopted a less
indulgent approach. Who is to say who caused the petrol-bomb damage in
Chinhoyi? Has anyone been found guilty yet? If not, why is Banda and his
colleagues finding opponents of President Mugabe guilty?
bombed the premises of the Daily News in 2000 and 2001? Why did Banda
not enquire about those cases where nobody has been brought to trial, or the
bombing of the Voice of the People radio station where the culprits roam
But the most important question for Banda and his
myopic colleagues from 17
embassies and high commissions is this: What have you said about
state-sponsored violence against the people of Zimbabwe? Which of you have
raised your voices against arbitrary arrests, torture, or other
unconstitutional attempts to prevent the opposition from functioning?
As the MDC pointed out in a statement this week, Banda's
comments amount to
"tacit approval of the murder and torture that is going on today".
The party noted that the Zambian High Commission is not far
from the Avenues
Clinic where hundreds of MDC supporters are being treated for assault and
torture on a daily basis.
It may be unreasonable
to judge those diplomats who did not speak out on
Monday. But none have dissociated themselves from the remarks of their dean.
Do they all seriously believe President Mugabe and his brutal party are
going to remain in power forever? Do they think Zimbabwe has no future
beyond this era of repression?
Banda and his colleagues need to look beyond their
current focus to an era
of democracy and freedom in this country. Then we will be asking them to
account for the partisan and unprofessional positions they have adopted now.
The country's domestic debt, which stood at $205 billion in December 2001,
rose dramatically to $346 billion by the end of December 2002.
country's foreign payment arrears continued to build up during 2002 and
are forecast to have ended the year at US$1,5 billion up from US$700 million
In its report after studying the country's economic situation
25 to March 13 a seven-member IMF team said while budget implementation was
reasonably good in 2002, quasi-fiscal expenditures to support certain
economic sectors through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) required
sizeable domestic financing.
The IMF said: "This was
accommodated by loose monetary policy that
intensified inflationary pressures and has left interest rates highly
negative in real terms, imposing a heavy tax on savers, encouraging
excessive borrowing, and increasing financial sector vulnerability. These
pressures also led to a rapid depreciation of the exchange rate in the
parallel market, a flight to quality assets that contributed to record
increases in real estate and stock prices, and hoarding of goods."
Consumers are now faced with various shortages of basic
commodities such as
cooking oil, sugar, salt, and soap.
country is also facing a severe fuel shortage, which has almost
industry to a halt.
Analysts said resolution of the current
economic crisis required that
Zimbabwe, as a country maps out a comprehensive programme of action,
encompassing government, business and labour.
Major areas where commonality of purpose and companies would
have to be
struck include sustainable exchange rate management, prudent monetary and
fiscal policy management, inflation stabilisation, and poverty alleviation
and food security.
They said efforts should also be
made to improve relations with the
international community and enhance international partnerships.
The IMF said pervasive price controls and
other policies, such as the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) monopoly, contributed to shortages, damaged business
confidence, drove up prices, and created room for rent-seeking activities.
"The intensification of exchange and
price controls in November resulted in
further damage to production and new shortages," the IMF said.
It said in the past two years, Zimbabwe had suffered from bad weather.
"Structural changes in agriculture related
to the way in which the land
reform was implemented also affected agricultural production," the IMF said.
"In recognition of Zimbabwe's
grave food security situation, foreign donors
have provided large amounts of humanitarian aid, but other donor assistance
has been curtailed because of concerns over governance issues. However,
Zimbabwe's economic difficulties also reflect weaknesses in past economic
The Fund said
the country's economy had experienced a progressive and sharp
deterioration in the last four years.
Real gross domestic product (GDP) declined by
about 30%, and was still
Inflation doubled in each of
the last two years to reach 200% at the end of
It is now pegged at 220,9%.
There are widespread shortages, poverty and
unemployment have risen, and the
HIV/Aids pandemic is worsening.
At least 2 500 people are dying weekly in Zimbabwe because
of the HIV/Aids
This has adversely affected the
country's skilled personnel resource base.
In an interview with
Malaysia's Malay Mail on Wednesday, Leong said: "We met
with the Zimbabwe officials during the recent Non-Aligned Movement meeting
here and they asked us to delay the construction of the farm."
Zimbabwe sent a
high-powered business delegation to the Nam meeting held in
Malaysia last month where they tried to market the country to nations of the
Leong said the Zimbabwe officials had told Confarm that a
decision on when
the venture would get the green light would be made either in December or
January next year.
Last year, Confarm signed an
agreement with the Agricultural Research and
Development Authority of Zimbabwe (Arda) to set up an integrated poultry
farm in Zimbabwe.
The farm, expected to produce between 200 000 and 300 000
eggs a day was
supposed to begin operations next year, while construction works were
supposed to start by this year.
"So far we have not done any construction works on the farm," Leong said.
"We will wait
until we get the go-ahead and the delay will not have an
impact on the company as it is only an investment. We are not too dependent
on the venture. Our core business is still the supply of eggs and poultry to
the local market."
to reports and given the circumstances, it is obvious that
elements of the CIO, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the army are involved.
As if in
support of that, on the periphery we have the repulsively feral
wife of our army commander meting out her own brand of savagery. The fact
that no effort whatsoever is made to bring any of these perverted criminals
to justice, not to mention the end of a rope, is bad enough. Far worse
though are the filthy acts involved, prominently reported and no doubt well
documented. They bear repeating here, if only in the hope that publicity
will stop them.
We read with revulsion of electric shocks applied to genitals;
hapless victims; forcing a woman to sexually engage the condom-covered
barrel of a government issued AK-47 rifle while making appropriate noises of
pleasure and in the presence of her six-year-old son; forcing her to
publicly urinate around her ankles while standing naked; forcing her and
other people to drink their own or other's urine; forcing tortured captives
to lick the floor clean of urine; forcing night-clubbers to strip naked and
roll around the floor while beating them with a variety of clubs and whips,
including those enhanced with wire and barbed wire; forcing other
night-clubbers elsewhere to strip naked and engage in sexual intercourse
with other similarly bestially treated patrons; beating senseless those
males unable to have an erection; and God knows what other sexual
obscenities and violence which cannot be decently reported in family
Despite one case being presented with
photographic and other substantiated
evidence from reputable people, "an army spokesman", one Colonel Ben Ncube,
averred:"It never happened." At least the principal police spokesman is,
questionably, more honest as in most cases of any kind he is mute and
prefers, as here, to say nothing.
is on record as saying too that it knows nothing of other very
recent incidents, despite hordes of AK-47-wielding, partly uniformed thugs
being observed to arrive at premises in vehicles of the type supplied to the
military by both the UK and Austria.
They may have been
missing their registration plates in at least one
instance, but they were not of the type or colour employed in the private
perpetrators of these unspeakable acts of horror cannot be viewed as
human. They are nothing more nor less than a sub-human cultural product of
the very society they are terrorising.
It is a society in which wife-beating,
child abuse and baby rape feature all
too often. So perhaps we are reaping what we tolerantly sow. The so-called
men involved are not only Godless. They are beyond redemption and should be
Above all, they
are members of supposedly "disciplined" uniformed forces and
this brings direct responsibility to the office of the commander-in-chief of
the armed forces. This is a function of Robert Mugabe and he has only
himself to blame for those who will charge him with direct responsibility
for this state of affairs.
They will rightly single him out for retributive treatment.
deserves this as a result of his acts of commission or omission is
debatable, but sitting where he does, it has to be one or the other. His
likening of himself to "ten Hitlers" suggests the former.
"Those who play with fire will not only be burnt but consumed
by that fire"
only reinforces the opinion. Shades of Auschwitz, Belsen and Dachau!
In truth though, no matter what his fevered imagination may tell him, Mugabe
is not even one-tenth the man that Hitler was. The unusual moustache is
similar as is the incandescent racial hatred he preaches. Both fuehrer and
president stand accused of genocide - so they are similar in that.
Hitler was as bombastic as Mugabe is rhetorical. He too showed
irrationality and mental instability. He was not, however, craven - at least
not at the height of his popularity. He was not, for instance, a man
publicly seen to be frightened to walk among his own subjects. Above all,
when the game was up he recognised the then equivalent of the red card and
removed himself from the field.
Is it too much to expect a
chicken-hearted Jongwe to do the same and pave
the way for a rebuilding of Zimbabwe and the lives of its people?
Unfortunately the answer is probably "yes", leaving the one-sided struggle
for change to continue.
Mandaza Circus ensemble tours Baghdad
CONGRATULATIONS to ZTV for supplying us in these troubled times with
first-class entertainment. We refer of course to Ibbo "Five Farms" Mandaza's
Invasion of Iraq nightly TV programme.
Viewers seem to be reacting in record numbers to this clumsy - but amusing -
attempt to divert our attention from the Iraq all around us - the one Zanu
PF has created.
Despite his years of experience in hosting one-sided programmes of this
sort, Mandaza doesn't appear to have improved his skills as a presenter.
"Tonight we're going to focus on, um er, what some people, um er, would call
the carpet bombing of Baghdad," he ventured.
And who is referring to the "carpet bombing" of Iraq? Well, Mandaza of
course and his panel who comprise the usual suspect from the media
commission plus a couple of willing helpers prepared to assist in averting
the nation's gaze from the real issues of tyranny and misrule closer to
Last Friday, Mandaza was joined "as usual on my right" by Tafataona Mahoso,
plus a Belgian journalist who didn't seem to mind being associated with this
one-sided and partisan discussion, and Jamell Asani who declared that he
detected a "Zionist hand behind everything".
It was downhill from then on as panellists competed to advertise their
anti-American credentials. The invasion of Iraq had opened the world's eyes
to America's imperialist agenda, Asani ventured.
"A lot of people have been looking up to the US as the, um er, what is it
"Epitome." Mandaza helpfully suggested.
"Yes that's right, the epitome of democracy," Asani staggered on.
Mandaza's long-winded questions often proved longer than the answers he was
soliciting as he steered the discussion along the pre-ordained path. Mahoso'
s claim that "we are seeing an attack on media institutions" for instance
was allowed to pass without anybody asking which country he was talking
about. His view that pictures of US prisoners and casualties were likely to
shock people back home who supported the war was at complete variance with
polls which show a surge of support for George W Bush and Tony Blair as the
war becomes more protracted.
Bush would become "one of those presidents who go into hiding and cannot run
for office again", Mahoso suggested, the wish no doubt being father to the
As a number of callers have suggested, the panellists are motivated largely
by the fear that they will be next, so any setback to the US and UK war plan
is welcome in their eyes.
The absence of depth or balance was matched by the studio production which
was supervised by Tazzen Mandizvidza. The camera was occasionally adrift, at
the end zooming in on the floor. A cellphone went off half way through
without its owner noticing. And the lights came on and went off, no doubt in
an attempt to create the impression of a Baghdad air raid! Despite repeated
criticism of CNN, BBC and Sky, their footage was hijacked to give the
programme its context.
The star of the show last week was undoubtedly Eddison Zvobgo who committed
heresy by suggesting some regimes were so heinous that they could not be
"Dictators could not hide behind issues of sovereignty," he advised,
endorsing the legitimacy of UN Security Council resolution 1441. "When a
leader is determined to kill his own people he should be flushed out," the
Masvingo MP declared.
These pointed remarks so infuriated the politicians behind the Iraq show
that ZBC was commissioned to go out on the streets to place Zvobgo on trial.
But the veteran lawyer was unperturbed. "It was sad to take a debate from
the table, misinterpret it and run with it in the streets," he told the
Now he knows how Tsvangirai feels!
Still with the deliberate misinterpretation of legal opinions, the Herald
appears to be under the impression that Guardian correspondent Andrew
Meldrum, who was prosecuted under Aippa, had his case "deferred" while he
challenged the constitutionality of the Act in the Supreme Court.
In fact he was acquitted of the charges under Aippa in a magistrate's court.
The government then tried to deport him even though he was a permanent
resident. When he won the right to stay in the High Court, the state was
given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. A rather different set of
circumstances to those reported in the Herald!
As for prosecutor Thabani Mpofu, the target of the Herald's story, he was
entitled to make whatever arguments he thought appropriate to obtain a
conviction in that and any other case. He was certainly never seen as an
ally of the defence and if he suggested Meldrum would not be jailed for
publishing falsehoods, perhaps it was because he thought this was the best
way of securing a conviction in a case that was looking decidedly shaky.
The Herald suggests that according to sources in the Ministry of Justice
Mpofu's continued presence in the public prosecutor's office would lead to a
loss of public confidence in the public service.
Really? We would have thought that this further example of executive
interference in the judicial process would have led to a loss of public
confidence in the public service.
When President Thabo Mbeki next attempts to persuade the Commonwealth that
Zimbabwe has made progress in the administration of justice we must draw
this case to his attention.
While the Herald's court reporting in the Meldrum case may be dodgy, its
reporting in the Nkalacase last Saturday was positivelyriveting.
Under cross-examination from Advocate Erik Morris, Detective Assistant
Inspector Refias Masuna said he had not heard the rumour that Bulawayo war
veterans' leader Cain Nkala was kidnapped and murdered because he was about
to spill the beans on circumstances surrounding the disappearance of MDC
activist Patrick Nabanyama.
"Cain Nkala's death was very convenient for some people," Morris pointed
out, but "certainly not to the MDC".
He suggested that Nkala was murdered possibly because his killers wanted to
prevent him from spilling the beans about Nabanyama and for the powers that
be to stage-manage, in the "most disgraceful way", the exhumation of Nkala's
body for propaganda purposes.
He queried why the police had to wait for Reuben Barwe, a ZBC reporter, to
film indications during police investigations.
Masuna said he had no comment as to how ZBC got to the scene. "People who
were in charge are better placed to answer that."
Quizzing the detective about anomalies and contradictions in police
evidence, Morris appeared dissatisfied by the responses he got.
"Let me remind you," he told Masuna, "today is Friday and not lie-day.
Indications were made on November 13 (2001) to allow the ZBC, led by its
reporter Reuben Barwe, to film the indications in the exhumation, weren't
they?" Rules were first not followed and then subsequently followed, Morris
"That much I don't know," Masuna replied.
The Nkala murder investigation was "unique", Morris said, because details of
the police diary, police evidence and other evidence differed in several
"I don't think there is one single statement that agrees with any other," he
argued. "Every piece of evidence given tells a different story."
The Zanu PF regime is beginning to feel the effects of its isolation judging
by a recent Comment in the Herald. It was "outrageous", the Herald said,
"that the opposition party can openly blackmail a sitting government without
any outrage from either the region or those that have been quick to express
concern about the consequences of instability to their own countries".
That was the first give-away. Here's another from the same editorial: "It is
interesting to note that although almost everyone in the Commonwealth is
agreed that the extension (of Zimbabwe's suspension) was illegal, none of
the countries that have been expressing concern over the situation in
Zimbabwe have attempted to reverse the illegal suspension."
That looks remarkably like the same target. Just in case you weren't sure
which country the Herald was having a go at, here's the final kick in the
teeth: "Not so long ago South Africa arrested whites linked to a spate of
extremist bombings and threats to topple the government, seizing almost a
tone of explosives and arms that were clearly designed to kill and create
mayhem. No one called for dialogue between the South African government and
the white right-wing Afrikaners in order to resolve whatever differences
The paper asked if any parallels could be drawn between the South African
situation and threats made by Morgan Tsvangirai to destabilise the country.
The answer is no. Firstly, the bombing campaign by the Boeremag has led to
calls for dialogue between the ANC government and the "Committee of 63"
academics who point out that the campaign is the product of alienation of
Afrikaners by government's anglicisation policies. The Committee of 63
contains individuals who have long advocated a policy of dialogue with the
ANC and are opposed to violence.
Secondly, in Zimbabwe nobody believes police claims about a "terrorist
threat" from the MDC. We all know who the real terrorists are.
But we are pleased to have growing evidence of a regime assailed by even its
friends. Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that President Mugabe was
claiming support from Africa, NAM, the non-white Commonwealth etc?
Mugabe and his cronies should learn a lesson from Highfield and Kuwadzana:
CIO - Change is Obvious.
Finally, a senior radio reporter in Swaziland who has been pretending to be
reporting live from the war front in Iraq has been exposed as a fraud, BBC
News Online reports.
Phesheya Dube who works for the state broadcaster, Radio Swaziland, was
spotted in parliament by eagle-eyed MPs when he was purportedly in Iraq.
Since the start of the war on Iraq, Dube had been reporting on the English
language The Morning Show.
The programme's presenter helped in the charade, by wishing Dube well and
telling him to "find a cave somewhere to be safe from the missiles" after he
filed his pieces.
But it appears he had just followed reports on the war from international
radio and television networks, and then rewritten them as his own eyewitness
In parliament, MP Jojo Dlamini asked the Information minister: "Why are they
lying to the nation that the man is in Iraq when he is here in Swaziland,
broadcasting from a broom cupboard?"
Swazi journalist Thulane Mthethwa in Mbabane told BBC News Online that the
deception had now stopped, although the reporter could still be heard on air
reporting other news.
He said that surprisingly there has been no reaction from the public to the
radio station's underhand practice.
It is quite remarkable what Information ministers will condone when it is
their own reporters!
Turning of the tide in
THE results this week of two Harare by-elections contested last weekend mark
a turning point in the fortunes of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change - and for the country.
The government understands this perfectly. It put its life and soul - not to
mention its fists - into winning the two urban seats so it could demonstrate
a national appeal. It needed to win to show that Zanu PF is not just a party
of coerced peasant voters, with no appeal whatsoever to people who can make
an informed choice.
The two urban seats of Highfield and Kuwadzana had enormous symbolic
importance. Highfield, the core township of the colonial era, was the cradle
of African nationalism in this country. That is why Robert Mugabe claimed it
as his constituency in 1980. Winning it back from what Zanu PF regards as an
alien and adventurist party was therefore a major priority for Mugabe's
They put up as their candidate the "commander-in-chief of farm invasions",
Joseph Chinotimba, a candidate whose delinquent career in municipal service
is emblematic of the lawless regime he serves. Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay'
s scalp no doubt takes pride of place in his collection.
Kuwadzana was equally important. An outlying township that has grown up
since Independence, it was a perfect target for Zanu PF's thuggery. Many
voters were unsophisticated newcomers to the city and the constituency
adjoined informal settlements where the Mudede magic could be worked on the
voters' roll. Above all people were susceptible to blandishments - what used
to be called "treating", technically illegal. Since Learnmore Jongwe's death
in October last year, Zanu PF has been pouring food supplies into Kuwadzana
to win the hearts and minds of voters.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, an umbrella body of 36 civic
organisations, reported that the polling days were "characterised by
vote-buying, violence, abductions of observers and party polling agents,
intimidation (and) denial of access to polling stations by accredited
In both constituencies the electorate was under siege. Those who could not
show membership of the ruling party were subject to harassment and beatings.
A nightly curfew enforced by the militia ensured that the streets belonged
to Zanu PF. A library and community hall were taken over as militia bases in
Kuwadzana and police remained indifferent to pleas from Mayor Elias Mudzuri
to remove them.
Despite this illegal coercion, inducements of all sorts, registration of
"ghost voters", saturation coverage of Zanu PF's campaign in the state
media, a barrage of vilification against the MDC, and the complete absence
of a level electoral playing field, the ruling party still couldn't win.
That is a formidable feat! But it does at least prove that Mugabe is the
alien in the nation's capital. His threats and pretensions have no purchase
here. Voters know who is responsible for their sorry condition and they
simply won't buy Zanu PF's childish stories about a foreign conspiracy.
Indeed, this is as much a defeat for his message as it is for Mugabe. A
steady torrent of lies and deceit from the government media have failed to
make the slightest impression on Harare's residents. All Zanu PF is left to
do is comfort itself with the pathetic belief that it has "maintained its
support base" - whatever that is!
Mugabe is a loser. That is the central message to come out of this week's
results. And it will not be lost on the already scheming court around him.
It is one thing to fail in the delivery of economic goods to the country,
another to hesitate in confronting the opposition in its heartland
preferring instead to let police batons and militia clubs do your
Reports suggest he was unhappy with the selection of candidates. But
nevertheless, once those selections had been made he should have supported
the candidates and braved the MDC beast in its lair, instead of waiting for
polling day to sweep into Highfield in the safety of his motorcade.
This is not the behaviour of a leader confidently ensconced in the
affections of his people. The defeat of Zanu PF by such wide margins and the
success of the stayaway represent crucial shifts in the national balance of
power. Zanu PF's three-year campaign to prove its "national" credentials
lies in tatters on the streets of Harare. It remains a party of rural exile
while the MDC has proved more than a flash in the pan.
Zanu PF may have bought the support of the police and the army. But they
have lost the battle for hearts and minds where it matters most - in the
nation's rapidly expanding urban centres. The opposition, seriously
disheartened by a number of setbacks in recent months, has shown remarkable
resilience and tenacity. Now their patience has been rewarded. They have
retained the confidence of voters who have demonstrated enormous bravery in
the face of criminal brutality.
Make no mistake, Zanu PF is losing the struggle for Zimbabwe's future. The
end is not in sight yet as they marshal their forces of oppression. And the
MDC would be foolish to throw away their advantage by adopting tactics that
have not been fully thought through.
But the last two weeks of March have provided a turning point. Repression as
a policy is failing, and its sponsors have manifestly forfeited popular
support. Zanu PF offers no prospects for its supporters and long ago lost
any vision for the country beyond its threadbare land rhetoric.
The MDC will now need to demonstrate leadership skills in reaching out to
those in the failed party of power who see a future beyond Mugabe. It will
also have to redouble its efforts to expand the scope of civic education so
everybody understands the link-age between curtailment of their rights and
declining living standards; between Mugabe's dictatorship and national
"A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the
rights which God has given them," Benjamin Franklin said, "cannot be
enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins."
Other letters to the Zimbabwe Independent - they are not yet on the website but if you click the appropriate heading you will be able to read them once they are there.
Time to say enough is enough
THIS is yet another letter to the people of Zimbabwe. It is not about race but about the difficulties all the races are going through in Zimbabwe.
I MAY have missed it but did the moral runts at the head of the Bambazonke Anglican and Catholic dioceses have anything to say about the arrest of 21 clergymen in Harare?
watches in shocked wonder
PRESIDENT Mugabe's government is digging all of Zimbabwe into a hole into which the rest of the world is looking in shocked wonder.
of things did change after 1980
I HOPE you will allow me to respond to Abie Walker's letter ("Then and now - the reality", March 28).
Christian perspective on human rights abuses
THE wave of further repression and state-sponsored violence following the successful stayaway on March 18 and 19 is hardly a cause for surprise, so accustomed have we become to the Hitlerian tactics of this regime.
I AM going to start a campaign to get Eric Bloch elected president of Zimbabwe. His column (Independent, March 28) is nothing short of genius.
on the UN
THE countrywide violence by the army and police against ordinary citizens that followed President Mugabe's shameless Hitler speech at Heroes Acre has been condemned around the world.