by Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe could be forced to dissolve parliament in order to
trigger new elections, Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Mugabe has demanded that new elections must be conducted early next year to
replace the coalition government.
His Zanu PF party accuses Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T of
stalling the constitutional reform process in order to delay the elections.
Over the weekend, Tendai Biti -- the MDC-T secretary general and Finance
Minister -- insisted that his party would not participate in new elections
without a new voters’ roll and security sector reforms.
“Our members are going to go for elections after the completion of the
constitution-making process, the referendum, drafting of a new voters’ roll,
media reforms, completion of legislative reform, the conclusion of
outstanding issues at the dialogue table on security sector realignment and
staffing of ZEC,” Biti told reporters after a meeting of the MDC-T’s
“And also after the compliance by Zimbabwe on the SADC electoral guidelines
on free and fair elections and putting in place of mechanisms to ensure that
violence will not be a factor in the said election that is what the roadmap
But Chinamasa said Mugabe could decree the dissolution of parliament to
force the election.
“It is very possible for the President to call for elections and there is no
provision that prevents him from doing that but it is our desire as Zanu-PF
to see the constitution-making process concluded so that we hold elections
under a new constitution,” Chinamasa told the Sunday News.
“We won’t entertain any stalling of the process, as a party we are committed
and we urge the MDC parties to do the same.’’
Chinamasa claimed the MDC-T was trying to delay the elections by stalling
the constitutional reform process but insisted that Zanu PF would not held
to ransom by its rivals.
“The MDC is always insisting on reforms before the elections but it’s not
clear who should reform what? We cannot be held at ransom by the MDC-T which
is employing every dirty delaying tactic in the book to avoid elections,” he
“Zanu-PF is always ready for elections and it should not be made to wait
longer to get back into power by parties that know that the next elections
will be the end of them.’’
Political analysts say Mugabe's allies are pressing for early elections,
which are only due in 2013 when Mugabe would be 89, fearing he may not cope
with the pressure of campaigning, and also to take advantage of what they
see as a weakening opposition.
A June 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks claimed Mugabe had
prostate cancer that had spread to other organs. He was apparently urged by
his physician to step down in 2008 but has stayed in the job.
"I think it's fair to say that Mugabe might be seeing some opportunities in
taking on Tsvangirai sooner rather than later, with minimum democratic
reforms, and increasing questions over Tsvangirai and the MDC's capacity,"
NCA chairman, Lovemore Madhuku said in a recent interview with Reuters.
By Pindai Dube
Monday, 19 December 2011 09:41
BULAWAYO - ZAPU President Dumiso Dabengwa says they pulled out of the Unity
Accord with Zanu PF because the former ruling party was brutal and could do
anything including killing to remain in power.
Speaking at Zapu’s 50th anniversary at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday,
Dabengwa also said senior Zanu PF officials did not want the late Joseph
Msika to lead Zapu in the Unity Accord after the death of vice president
Nkomo died in 1999, 12 years after the signing of the Unity Accord between
Zapu and Zanu PF.
He was replaced by Msika, who on many occasions proved a handful to
President Robert Mugabe including publicly threatening to walk out of a Zanu
Addressing more than 7 000 Zapu supporters Dabengwa said Zanu PF wanted
somebody they could control other than Msika to lead Zapu after Nkomo’s
“When Nkomo died Zanu PF wanted someone they can control to lead Zapu in the
unity pact, but he told them to back off,” said Dabengwa.
Dabengwa said Msika even gave them the green light to pull out of the Unity
Accord with Zanu PF in 2008. Msika died in 2009 and was replaced by John
Nkomo as vice president.
Dabengwa added that his party pulled out of the 1987 Unity Accord with Zanu
PF because of the former ruling party’s tendencies of harassing and killing
innocent people in order to stay in power.
“They are killers who want to rule this country by spilling blood. In 2008
during the presidential elections they embarked on an operation Long and
short sleeve in some parts of the country, where people were having their
hands cut off.
“They were killing people in order to stay in power like what they did
“That is when we decided to pull out of the Unity Accord because we don’t
want to be associated with shedding of blood,” said Dabengwa who is a former
Home Affairs minister.
Dabengwa said those former Zapu cadres who remained in Zanu PF should stop
lying to Zimbabweans that Nkomo told them to remain there.
“There are some people who are still in Zanu PF who are going around lying
using Nkomo’s name. They are lying that Nkomo told them to stay united with
Zanu PF even when people are being killed and Zapu members being neglected,”
The former senior Zapu members who are still in Zanu PF include Vice
President John Nkomo, Simon Khaya-Moyo, and Cain Mathema, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu,
deputy senate President Naison Ndlovu and others.
The former Home Affairs minister also said in true Zapu spirit, the 50th
jubilee celebrations demonstrated the freedom espoused in the party.
Delegates from former liberation movements in the Sadc region like South
Africa’s Africa National Congress (ANC), Swapo, MPLA and Frelimo were
present at the celebrations.
By Xolisani Ncube, Staff Writer
Monday, 19 December 2011 10:40
HARARE - The recent demolition of lodgings at Bromley Farm has left former
workers scrounging for shelter as rains continued to pound and destroy their
Bromley farm was once a tobacco processing concern before the former white
owner Lombard deserted the venture to live at an old people’s home in
Marondera leaving workers without salaries.
Lombard, instead decided to sell the property to one Samson Chauruka who is
now evicting former workers and destroying all their lodgings.
There was mayhem at the farm as police and hired gangs descended on the
property forcibly evicting tenants.
While it was to be a dark day for the residents, it was even bleaker for
Kariot Tengwe (84), a blind father who has known no other home except the
“I have nowhere to go, I do not know what these people want me to do,”
Tengwe bemoaned while standing close to a small mud hut that was spared
demolition after passionate pleading with the hammer-wielding gang by other
farm workers touched by the octogenarian’s impending plight
“I first came here when I was young and I do not have any relatives in
Zimbabwe. I wonder whether this is fair because I married from this farm. My
children are at this farm and I do not have anywhere else to go,” a
sad-looking Tengwe said.
While focus could be on the old man, close to 150 families faced the similar
The families were left in the open with their children and belongings at a
time the rain season is at its peak.
In a development viewed as a reversal of the country’s fast track land
reform programme of 2000, the affected families’ only hope now lies on
politicians and courts.
Scores of dejected farm workers gathered around the farm situated 46
kilometres from Harare along the Harare Mutare road.
They had huddled together with their belongings which were destroyed by
heavily armed police officers during the forceful eviction.
The police ganged up with “hired bouncers” to raze the farm compound to the
ground in typical operation (Drive Out Trash/ Murambatsvina) restore order
Like Tengwe, Laston Dinala who is also an elderly farm worker in his late 60’s
was left stranded as he had no clue how he would provide shelter to his
family in the wake of the current downpours.
“My belongings are now along the railway line and I have nowhere to go. I
have worked on this farm since I came into the country from Malawi in 1963
and I wonder if this is what President (Robert) Mugabe wants,” said a gloomy
Tengwe’s problem is further complicated by the fact that he had no money to
move from the farm to any place nearby.
For the past three years, these workers have not received anything from the
farm owner and if they were to go, it meant that they would have lost out on
“He (Chauruka) has not paid our salaries and gratuity so we cannot go
anywhere,” he added.
Joseph Chihuri, Zanu PF Goromonzi South youth secretary for security, said
the move was at cross purposes with what his party leader President Robert
Mugabe preached at the just ended Zanu PF national conference.
“It pains us to see people who have lived here for so long being evicted.
They have put their effort to build these houses and now they have to leave
their parents’ graves behind,” he said.
“We are in fact losing votes and this will also bring back cholera because
there is no shelter and children will get sick,” Chihuri added.
by Staff Reporter
AIR Zimbabwe says it now expects its Boeing 767-200ER plane seized in London
over unpaid debts to be released on Monday.
The aircraft was impounded at London’s Gatwick airport last week over a
US$1.2 million debt over to US-based spares supplier, American General
The seizure left stranded about 160 passengers due to have flown out to
Harare on the return flight.
Air Zimbabwe was said to have paid the debt but AGS refused to release the
plane until the funds “reflected” in their accounts.
The American company threatened to auction the aircraft – said to be worth
about US$144million – if the debt was not paid.
Acting chief executive Innocent Mavhunga said AGS should receive
confirmation of the deposit on Monday adding he expected the plane back in
Harare on Tuesday.
"The money has been deposited and we expect it to reflect today and we hope
our plane will depart and land in the country on Tuesday morning,” Mavhunga
told the state-owned Herald newspaper.
"Everything is settled for now, but you would never know with the publicity
the case has developed, other complications might develop.
"It is our hope that nothing will arise and our plane flies back."
Mavhunga said passengers affected by the problem had either been refunded or
put up in hotels while the issue was resolved.
Air Zimbabwe is struggling to stay afloat, weighed down by debts estimated
at about US$140 million.
The airline has since suspended flights to South Africa to prevent the loss
of planes to restive creditors.
By Tichaona Sibanda
19 December 2011
Over a hundred Air Zimbabwe passengers stranded at Gatwick airport in London
for a week are refusing to vacate a 4 star hotel, until the airline
reimburses them for their flights.
The passengers were only meant to stay at the Hilton hotel for two days
while the airline was trying to settle a $1.2 million debt to have one of
its long haul aircraft released.
The Boeing 767, named Victoria Falls, was impounded by American General
Supplies when it landed from Harare at Gatwick exactly a week ago on Monday.
What incensed passengers was the fact that the airline let them check in,
when they already knew the plane had been seized.
Ezra Sibanda, a presenter with SW Radio Africa and one of the passengers
still stranded, told us the passengers were in a foul mood. Some have had to
be restrained from physically harming Air Zimbabwe staff at Gatwick.
‘All we want is our money back and we will check out and find other
alternatives to fly to Zimbabwe. Air Zimbabwe is telling us they don’t have
money to refund us, so we are telling them we will not leave the hotel until
they pay us back our monies,’ Sibanda said.
Air Zimbabwe claims it transferred money in two batches last week Thursday
to settle the debt. It is claimed they first deposited $1 million into the
account of American General Supplies on Thursday morning and another
$200,000 in the afternoon.
‘We have been showed papers here purporting to be proof that the debt was
paid, but lawyers representing the American company insist the money has not
yet reached their accounts. The situation is being compounded by airline
chiefs in Harare who continue to tell lies that money has reached the
Americans and the plane has been released,’ Sibanda added.
Last week, Air Zimbabwe suspended flights to South Africa fearing that
creditors would pounce on planes landing at Oliver Tambo International
The troubled airline has debts of over US$100 million, which it has failed
to service owing to low revenue streams, antiquated equipment, chronically
poor management and interference from the government.
19 December 2011
The MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is seriously considering changing its open palm party symbol, a highly placed party source said.
The symbol is also used by the MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube and MDC-99 headed by its President Job Sikhala. During deliberations at Saturday’s national council meeting, a proposal was tabled calling on the party to change its well known brand.
A source told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the proposal was accepted and there was a resolution tasking the national executive to explore ways of coming up with another symbol.
The source said: ‘Party officials felt that we have to seriously consider the pros and cons of changing the symbol because other parties like Ncube’s have been benefiting during voting times because of the confusion.’
Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa said a survey carried out soon after the 2008 election showed that a high number of voters could not distinguish the difference between Tsvangirai and Ncube’s parties.
‘The emblems on the ballot for MDC-T and MDC-N in the 2008 poll were the same. Many voters could not distinguish between the two and in the end both parties lost out. But then again questions should be asked if the party still has time to change it symbol and market it to the people before the next election, now highly anticipated to be in 2012,’ Muchemwa said.
The MDC-T reiterated that elections in Zimbabwe will only take place when there is a new constitution and reforms allowing for free and fair elections.
Muchemwa added that growing calls from ZANU PF to have elections in March next year will not be sanctioned by SADC, who are currently mediating in the Zimbabwe crisis.
‘ZANU PF is shooting itself in the foot thinking they will have elections before a new constitution is adopted. They should be thankful to both the MDC formations and SADC that they are still in power because of the Global Political Agreement,’ Muchemwa said.
Our correspondent said attempts to censure co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone for her role over Tsvangirai’s relationship to Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo were shot down by the party leader.
Tsvangirai told party officials that anything to do with his life was his problem, and he would solve his own problems.
by Staff Reporter
SOME sixteen Zimbabwean women are behind bars in several Asian countries
with two facing the death penalty for drug trafficking.
Foreign Affairs official Chris Mavodza told state media that 14 of the women
are in Chinese jails serving various sentences for drug trafficking to
illegal ivory trade.
Mavodza said eight are serving their sentences at the Beijing Women Prison,
Beijing Second Prison and Tianjin Prison while six others are detained at
the Guangzhou Prison.
However the most serious case involves two women facing the death penalty in
Malaysia for allegedly trafficking 7kg of cocaine worth US$900 000.
Faith Rusere and Joyce Tafadzwa Munhenga deny the charges and claim the
drugs were planted in their luggage without their knowledge.
Mavodza said there was little the Foreign Affairs Ministry could do to help
the women beyond regular consular visits.
"The embassy in Malaysia also facilitates communication between prisoners
and members of their families in Zimbabwe," he said.
By Lance Guma
19 December 2011
Unions representing civil servants in the country have given the coalition
government up until the end of December to review their salaries, or face
crippling industrial action in the new year.
Tendai Chikowore, the chairperson of the Apex Council that represents civil
servants, said they had a meeting with government representatives on Friday:
“It was clear that they (government negotiating team) had not been given the
mandate by Treasury giving them the parameters within which to negotiate,”
The unions are demanding a minimum salary in line with the Poverty Datum
Line, which is pegged at US$540. Speaking to the state owned Herald
newspaper Chikowore said: “We have impressed upon them (government) that
these negotiations should be concluded before the end of December.” Another
meeting has been set for Monday.
Last week Thursday Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said that a salary
increment for civil servants will only be considered if proceeds from
diamond sales improve.
Speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Behind the Headlines programme, political
commentators Chengetai Mupara and Sanderson Makombe said ZANU PF was using
the state media to give the impression the MDC-T was not concerned about the
plight of civil servants.
Makombe said you only had to look at how the last increment for civil
servants was funded. He said money from the Marange diamond fields,
controlled by the military which is loyal to ZANU PF, was used to finance
He said this money did not even go through the treasury, but came straight
from the mining companies. Makombe said this showed that there was a
parallel government being run by ZANU PF and they were using proceeds from
the diamonds to run their political agenda.
Chengetai Mupara agreed with Makombe, saying although the MDC-T control the
finance ministry they did not control the sources of income.
“The diamonds are controlled by the security apparatus,” he said.
By Lance Guma
19 December 2011
Three staff members from the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
were finally set free on Friday by the High Court in Bulawayo. They had been
arrested and detained two weeks ago.
Fadzai December, Molly Chimhanda and Gilbert Mabusa were arrested in Gwanda
over allegations that they held an ‘unsanctioned’ meeting at which they
distributed DVD’s that contained ‘subversive material likely to cause public
disorder.’ Another charge added later was that they ‘denigrated’ Mugabe at
Although Gwanda Magistrate Douglas Zvenyika granted the trio US$50 bail each
on the 9th December the Mugabe regime invoked controversial legislation to
set aside the bail for another 7 days. Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure
and Evidence Act has often been abused to detain activists for long periods
Following the arrests the MMPZ argued that the suspension of bail was
‘malicious’ and intended to deprive “Fadzai, Molly and Gilbert of their
right to freedom.” But on Friday Bulawayo High Court Justice Nicholas
Mathonsi dismissed the appeal by the Attorney-General’s Office, and ordered
the release of the MMPZ trio.
A few hours after the arrest of the MMPZ trio police also raided the
organisations offices in Harare before detaining and questioning its
director Andy Moyse. Commentators say the case highlights the ongoing
clampdown of any voice perceived to oppose the Mugabe regime ahead of
Speaking to SW Radio Africa Moyse said: “They took me in for questioning and
seized about 127 DVDs, which are the DVDs we have been releasing which
basically contains a message to the media, asking them to conduct themselves
fairly during elections. It had nothing relating to the Gukurahundi at all.”
Moyse explained that these are the DVDs that were shared at the Gwanda
meeting last month, which had resulted in the arrest of the three MMPZ
By Everson Mushava, Staff Writer
Monday, 19 December 2011 10:37
HARARE - The MDC national council has resolved to set up audit teams to
probe issues of corruption within the party.
The decision by the MDC national council comes amid reports of alleged
corruption by MDC councillors who dominate most of urban local authorities.
Addressing journalists at the party’s headquarters in Harare on Saturday,
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said his party was aware of reported
corrupt activities by its councillors.
“The National Council proscribes and bars any guilty councillor from holding
office within the party,” said Biti, who is also the minister of Finance in
Zimbabwe’s shaky coalition government. “As a party, we have resolved to set
up committees to investigate and audit each of the councillors and councils
that will consider issues of good governance, accountability and policy
consistency,” Biti said.
The MDC fired 24 of its councillors in Chitungwiza early this year over
The party said it will probe the remaining 786 MDC councillors across the
country by carrying out an audit on their lifestyles.
Biti admitted that high corruption levels were hampering service delivery in
most local authorities.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has in the past called for tougher actions
against corrupt councillors whom he said were discrediting his MDC party.
“However, we also cite chaos as a result of ministerial interference in some
of these councils and local authorities as the main reason why there was
poor service delivery in most cities,” Biti said.
Local Government minister, Ignatius Chombo has been accused on several times
of meddling with the running of most local authorities, causing confusion
and firing those that cross his path. But Chombo has maintained that he will
be intervening to reign in on corrupt elements in councils.
December 19th, 2011
Born on 11th January 1955, Perence Shiri quickly rose through the ranks of the Zimbabwean liberation forces to assume critical positions at the heart of the country’s post-liberation history. His first, and most devastating, role was as First Commander of the Fifth Brigade, the specially-commissioned, North Korea-trained assault force directed to carry out the Gukurahundi genocide against the people of Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s. In December 1982, it was to Perence Shiri that then Prime Minister Mugabe handed the ‘Gukurahundi’-emblazoned Fifth Brigade flag and directed Shiri and his men for immediate deployment to “plough and reconstruct”.
In 1986, Shiri accepted the British government’s invitation to study at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. The British military authorities isolated Shiri as “the man who was going to be important in Zimbabwe”, despite his recent tenure as Commander of the Fifth Brigade during the Gukurahundi genocide.
In 1992, Shiri ascended to his current position as Air Marshall, commander of the Zimbabwean Air Force, despite rumours that he is unable to fly.
In the same United Nations report which isolated Emmerson Mnangagwa for his role in the sale of conflict diamonds from the Democratic Republic of Congo 2002, Shiri was named by the UN as “involved in military procurement and organizing air support for the pro- Kinshasa armed groups fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo” and “part of the inner circle of ZDF diamond traders who have turned Harare into a significant illicit diamond-trading centre”.
As a prominent member of the Joint Operations Command (JOC), the authority headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa responsible for directing military strategy across the country, Shiri is heavily implicated in the brutal campaign of repression reputedly coordinated by the JOC during the run-off elections of 2008. Reports also directly name Shiri in the coordination of specific violent attacks, such as those inflicted upon MDC activists in Chinhoyi, Kariba and Hurungwe, alongside a pervasive “terror campaign” in Manicaland. He was also reported to have attempted to restrict Zimbabwe’s food supply to ZANU-PF supporters as a means of starving those allied to the then-opposition MDC.
In 2008, Shiri was named as “the prime mover behind the military assault” in the Marange diamond fields which killed at least 214 people in three weeks of constant, indiscriminate attacks on those the government declared to be illegal miners. Soldiers under Shiri’s command were reported to have “indiscriminately fired live ammunition and tear gas into the diamond fields and into surrounding villages”, and thereafter “searched the bodies of dead miners on the field and took all diamonds and any other valuables they found”.
The army, under Shiri’s command, were stated to have “engaged fully and openly in the smuggling of diamonds”, being “offered a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to benefit directly from diamond smuggling. These reports stand alongside further testimony that the very same “soldiers torture and beat scores of local miners and diamond dealers, some of whom died as a result of the injuries that they sustained”, with soldiers often denying medical care to victims of their abuses.
Further reports attest to the military syndicate instituted by Shiri’s forces in Marange, with soldiers handling much of the current diamond sales, made possible by the running of forced labour camps (including forced child labour), the continued torture of miners, and the abuse and displacement of the local community.
In 2008, Shiri survived a reputed assassination attempt in which he was shot in the arm whilst travelling to his farm, a property seized as a result of his role in the spate of violent farm evictions over the last decade. The shooting was alternatively and more mundanely described as an act of revenge by “the boyfriend of an air force sergeant with whom [Shiri] was allegedly having a romantic relationship”.
Shiri is also alleged to have taken “Eirene Farm at the expense of 96 families who had initially taken over the farm and banished them to a cattle ranch unfit for agricultural purposes”.
In 2010, Shiri was reported to have taken part in a “looting spree” of Reserve Bank assets through what legal experts claimed to be a series of illegal auctions. He was stated to have purchased “a Cam ambulance worth US$30 000 and a brand-new Mazda T35 Swaraj bus” with a resale value of “US$44 000, for US$12 300”. Also reported to have been purchased by Shiri was “a headboard for US$ 50” thought to be “valued at US$100” and “a four-piece leather lounge suite valued at US$2 500 for US$580”.
Perence Shiri remains a high-profile ZANU-PF-aligned military chief who has played a substantial part in the worst atrocities of Zimbabwe’s history. For his role in the Gukurahundi genocide of the 1980s, he – alongside Constantine Chiwenga, Sydney Sekeremai, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and President Robert Mugabe – has commanded complete impunity for the crimes which he and his soldiers committed. With Zimbabwe’s recent history of violence and repression, the charges against him have greatly expanded. With the continued reign of the military chiefs of the JOC, Shiri’s history of violence and murder appears without obvious end.
 Breaking the Silence, Building True Peace, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe and the Legal Resources Foundation, 1997, pp. 47.
 Final report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Nations Security Council, 2002.
 A Bullet For Each of You, Human Rights Watch, 2008, pp. 23.
 Diamonds in the Rough, Human Rights Watch, 2009, pp. 30.
 Diamonds in the Rough, Human Rights Watch, 2009, pp. 29-30.
 Diamonds in the Rough, Human Rights Watch, 2009, pp. 34-36.
 Diamonds in the Rough, Human Rights Watch, 2009, pp. 37-46.
This past week in Parliament has been quite an experience.
by Eddie Cross
MDC tabled two motions which really set the cat amongst the pigeons – the
first was a motion to rein in the activities of the Broadcasting Authority
of Zimbabwe and to reverse its recent decision to award the first radio
broadcasting licenses to two groups both linked to Zanu PF. The second
motion called for the dismissal of the Clerk of Parliament on various
grounds related to his performance and partisan approach to the
administration of the affairs of the House of Assembly.
Any casual observer visiting the House and sitting in the gallery would have
been astounded at the reaction to these two motions. The Zanu PF side of the
House simply erupted and an outsider might well have asked just what all the
fuss was about.
The truth is that both motions touched what is at the very core of Zanu’s
attempts at survival in the political arena that is Zimbabwe today. The GPA
calls for a comprehensive restructuring of the institutions for control and
management of the mass media in Zimbabwe. These include the Broad Casting
Authority, the Mass Media Trust and other institutions. At stake is Zanu PF
control over the state controlled and owned print and electronic media in
Zimbabwe: 7 newspapers, four radio stations and the sole television channel.
Not so apparent to an outsider is the insidious influence over the
independent media – the Independent, the Standard and the Newsday are all
part of the stable of news papers published by a group controlled by Trevor
Ncube, a close ally of Welshman Ncube and clearly influenced by elements
associated with Zanu PF and South Africa. The group is no friend of the MDC
(T) or Morgan Tsvangirai. The influential Financial Gazette is owned by a
front for the CIO and is cleverly edited, leaving only the Daily News as a
major daily with a mass circulation and some substantive independent
All the other media players are external, even though they are managed by
Zimbabweans, this includes the Voice of the People, Studio 7 (VOA) and SW
Radio as well as the Zimbabwean, a paper published in South Africa and
edited from London by Wilf Mbanga.
Zanu PF knows full well the power and influence of the mass media and in
particular the radio. In my view radio is the most important of the mass
media systems in the Zimbabwean political context. Studio 7 is listened to
by half the population every day, even though it only broadcasts for a short
period each evening – the main reason is that it is broadcast on Medium Wave
from a station in Botswana and is difficult to jam. Chinese supplied jamming
equipment has made life very difficult for short wave listeners.
So when the BAZ started the process to grant licenses to independent radio
stations, the exercise was watched with great interest. The outcome was
predictable, if almost laughable. After great fanfare and elaborate and
public rhetoric they gave two licenses – one to Zimpapers, the State
controlled print media group who spew out a daily avalanche of propaganda
against all Zanu PF critics and opponents. The other to one of the main
propaganda voices in State controlled radio and TV.
Despite their signature on the GPA and their negotiated presence in the GNU,
Zanu PF has steadfastly refused to countenance any reform of the media.
Thus, pressure from the MDC in Parliament upped the stakes and pressure for
reform. The Zanu PF skeleton in the House fought back with all their
remaining strength but knowing (and howling with frustration), that they
could not stop the inevitable. The motion was passed and now goes to the
Prime Minister for implementation and action.
The next motion was greeted with even more hysteria – what was all this
about I could hear the thinking in the strangers gallery. What Zanu PF has
done since it became apparent that they would lose significant power to the
MDC and have to share government with this hated enemy, it has resorted to a
strategy that was used in South Africa during the era when the Afrikaner
Nationalists took power in 1949.
The Broederbond, a secret Afrikaner society, infiltrated the Civil Service
placing their members in all key positions. In this way they gradually took
control of the State and operated as a parallel government. Zanu PF has done
the same thing and for much the same reasons. They have established a
network of key appointees whom they have rewarded for their service with
farms, wealth and privilege.
You can find these key players everywhere but the main ones are well known –
the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, the Registrar General in Home
Affairs, the Judge President and the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and
the Clerk of Parliament. Using these people in key places, the old guard in
Zanu PF, having been denied total control of the State, simply created a
parallel government staffed by their people.
Without these people in key places Zanu PF would not have been able to fight
back effectively or to prosecute their campaign as they have in the past
three years. So when one of their key players, in this case the Clerk of
Parliament, is attacked, it’s an attack on the whole edifice; hence the
uproar in the House on Thursday. They ranted and raved, hurled abuse and
threats and in the end walked out rather than stand by and watch as the vote
went against them.
Parliament is the only place where the MDC has a clear majority and the
Clerk is alone in being vulnerable, under the constitution, to a simple
majority vote to remove him from office.
So 2011 ends, for Zanu PF on a disturbing note, their leadership ailing,
their camp divided and now the pillars of their grip on the State under
attack from a quarter where they have no control. On top of this, there is
the steady pressure from the region for the adoption of reforms designed to
establish their ultimate nightmare, an election process they no longer
control and which would be difficult to manipulate.
For MDC there is the quiet understanding that the transition has begun and
that there is no going back for any of the parties in the game. Whatever
Zanu PF does, 2012 looks more and more like the year of change and for those
who cannot accept change, it’s the end of the world.