Political violence on the rise ahead of poll: Human rights
report Fri 3 December 2004 HARARE - Tension and political violence
continue rising in Zimbabwe ahead of a crucial general election scheduled
for March next year, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHRF) said in its
latest report on the crisis-hit nation.
The ZHRF is a coalition
of 17 of the biggest human rights and pro-democracy non-governmental
organisations in Zimbabwe. It regularly monitors human rights violations and
politically motivated violence in the country.
In a report
released this week highlighting political violence and human rights abuses
in the month of September, the forum said the victimisation of mostly
supporters of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
peaked up in the middle of the month during the party's fifth anniversary
The group also noted the increasing and unlawful use
of excessive force by the police against perceived political opponents of
the government during the month.
The report reads in part:
"Incidents occurring in Zimbabwe in the month of September continue to
reflect lack of political tolerance . . . political victimisation was
relatively high around the opposition MDC's 5th year anniversary
celebrations on 11 and 12 September 2004."
In September alone, the
forum recorded six cases of torture of opposition supporters, bringing the
total cases of torture recorded since January to 165. Torture is outlawed in
There were six cases of kidnappings of mostly MDC
supporters by alleged ruling ZANU PF militants. Total politically-motivated
kidnappings since January stand at 57. In some cases the kidnap victims are
later found but in others, they are never found and are presumed
There were 141 cases of unlawful arrests of citizens by the
police in September, to bring the total of such human rights violations to
202 since the beginning of the year.
Political violence and
human rights abuses allegedly committed by militant ZANU PF supporters and
government-trained militias have become routine in Zimbabwe since the
emergence of the MDC as the first real threat to President Robert Mugabe's
24-year hold on power.
Human rights abuses and political violence
always peak towards elections especially in remote rural areas away from the
glare of the international community.
The MDC has said it will
not participate in elections unless Zimbabwe's electoral laws are
sufficiently democratised and political violence ended. - ZimOnline
Tale of contrasting fortunes at ZANU PF congress Fri 3
December 2004 HARARE - It's still six in the morning but all routes eading
from the city centre to the Harare nternational Conference Centre, the venue
of the uling ZANU PF party's Fourth National People's Congress are already
Motorists battling to get to work on time blow horns
almost in unison to make the "chefs" - as the rich and powerful politicians
are known in local parlance - move their cars faster but to no
Unperturbed, the Who-is-who of ZANU PF parade their latest
acquisitions as they roll down towards the congress venue. The posh four
wheelers, BMWs, Mercedes Benz and Lexus are all here.
much fuel are they burning?" asked Fungai Chinhembe, a typist at the Harare
Magistrates' Court just across the giant conference centre.
Chinhembe must certainly be speaking for a lot of Zimbabwean motorists who
must battle fuel shortages everyday as a four-year-old fuel crisis shows
signs of worsening again with several garages here in Harare and elsewhere
across the country without diesel or petrol because there is no hard cash to
pay foreign suppliers.
But you can ignore the typist's
distractions and admire the Italian and French designer apparels on show
here, a surprise one might say, given that most of the senior ZANU PF
officials here cannot go shopping virtually in all of Europe or the United
States after they were banned there because of the government's failure to
uphold human rights, the rule of law and democracy.
view at the four-day congress are the latest models of Nokias, Samsungs,
Motorolas and other leading cellphone brands.
Is this a gathering
of the blessed and rich only? Not quite!
At the entrance to the
conference hall, disgruntled lower and poorer ranks of ZANU PF, most of them
delegates representing their even poorer fellow party members in rural
areas, make their feelings known.
"We have to be moved from Danhiko
Centre (a school for disabled people on the outskirts of Harare). The place
is dirty, human waste is lying around. I wonder how this school is being
run," fumed Emma Guvava, a delegate from the Midlands Province, as she
sought the attention of the administration team.
"The place is
stinking and the food is bad. This is not good," she went on. According to
her, male delegates accommodated at Danhiko, whose patron is Mugabe's
comfort-loving wife, Grace, had resorted to sleeping outside as the
dormitories where in a sorry state.
And standing by her side is
John Sithole from rural Matabeleland South province who claims mosquitoes
feasted on him and his fellow delegates at the nearby Harare Poly Technical
College where they are housed.
"There are no windows and the beds
are urine-stained. I cannot leave my home to come and be housed in such
conditions. Are the 'chefs' aware these are the conditions we are having to
put up with," he said.
Although party spin-doctors are already
passing off the congress that ends on Sunday as a phenomenal success,
evidence is abundant here of poor organisation.
the congress is now in its second day but some delegates, who arrived here
three days ago, are still queuing for access cards to be able to enter the
There are three queues, one for submitting
registration forms, another for people to be taken photographs that are
inserted on the accreditation cards and another still for collecting the
"Its tedious, three queues for just a card valid for only
four days. The organisation is bad. The congress has started while we queue
here," a delegate, who only identified himself as Timothy,
It's already 12 noon, President Robert Mugabe, who is also
First Secretary of ZANU PF, is almost half-way through his keynote address
as Timothy and scores of other equally disgruntled delegates battle to get
access cards to the congress.
"If this is how ZANU PF chefs
will treat their own, then it is no wonder they do not seem to care much
even as Zimbabwe itself is burning," quipped my colleague, as we left the
conference centre to cool ourselves by the bar at the Sheraton Harare Hotel
and Towers just adjacent to the centre. - ZimOnline
ZANU PF congress to blow Z$10 billion Fri 3 December
2004 HARARE - The ongoing congress of the ruling ZANU PF party will gobble
close to Z$10 billion in transport, accommodation and food, investigations
by ZimOnline have shown.
The costs also include airfares for
about 60 ambassadors representing the country outside who were flown back to
Harare for the four-day congress that ends on Sunday.
billion dollars is equivalent to about US$2 million at the official exchange
rate of one green back to $5 600.
Investigations showed that nearly
all of Harare's major hotels and lodges were fully booked for the duration
of the congress.
An reservations official at the five-star Sheraton
Harare Hotel and Towers, where a single full-board booking costs $665 000,
equivalent to a school teacher's take-home salary, said the hotel had few
rooms available after senior ZANU PF officials based outside Harare had
taken up most of them.
The official, who did not want to be
named, said: "Yes we have a very big number of ZANU PF officials booked here
until Sunday and this is big business. They are having their lunch and
dinner here as well."
Another bookings official at Cresta Jameson
Hotel, about a kilometre from Sheraton said the four-star hotel was fully
booked until Sunday when ZANU PF delegates check out.
spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira and the party's finance chief, David
Karimanzira, could not be reached last night to establish how the party had
financed its congress especially after most of its funds were locked up in
banks and other financial institutions shut down by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe earlier this year.
But ZANU PF has in the past always
received generous cash donations from cronies in business out to curry
favour with the party and enhance chances of landing lucrative government
contracts. - ZimOnline
IMF to review Zimbabwe's membership next week Fri 3
December 2004 HARARE - The executive board of the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) will next week review Zimbabwe's continued membership to the
multilateral lending institution.
Zimbabwe, already shunned by
most of the international community because of failure to uphold the rule of
law, democracy and human rights, could be expelled from the IMF for failing
to pay money it owes the organisation.
The Bretton Woods
institution cut balance-of-payments support to Zimbabwe in 1999 after
disagreeing with President Robert Mugabe and his government on fiscal
policy, land and other governance issues. The institution closed its Harare
office in October.
According to figures from the IMF, Zimbabwe's
debt to the institution declined from a peak of US$301 million in December
last year to US$185.84 million at present, a development that could see the
board sparing Harare the axe next week.
Zimbabwe's fate will
also depend on a report an IMF team that arrived in the country earlier this
week to review economic policy and performance will present to the board. -
Mugabe's attack a sure sign that Moyo 'is
finished' December 2, 2004
Harare - Zimbabwe president
Robert Mugabe has blasted his one-time top propagandist, Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo, accusing him of trying to stage a coup in the ruling
Moyo endured the scathing attack and humiliation at
the party's central committee meeting yesterday.
according to a source within the committee, was so furious with Moyo that he
said the party would disregard all that Moyo had done for Zanu-PF and the
The attack came a day after the party's
police committee reprimanded Moyo and suspended six provincial chairmen for
convening an "unauthorised" meeting in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North, two
The meeting, dubbed the Tsholotsho Declaration, was
intended to defy Mugabe's endorsement of Joyce Mujuru, the Water Affairs
Minister, as the first-ever female candidate for the party's vice
Moyo and his six supporters were lobbying for
Zimbabwe's speaker of parliament, Emmerson Mnagagwa, but Mujuru has the
overwhelming backing of seven of the 10 provinces.
was left vacant when Simon Muzenda died last year.
Mugabe's heir apparent until The Star revealed in March that he had been
implicated in a high court case for illicitly dealing in gold.
The Tsholotsho seven were also said to be plotting to replace Zanu-PF
chairperson John Nkomo with Justice Minister Patrick
Nkomo is said to have been targeted for speaking out
about Zanu-PF leaders who grabbed more than one farm in the controversial
land reform programme.
Nkomo told Zanu-PF's official newspaper,
The Voice, that the divisions within the party were so rife that some of the
"comrades" had resorted to paying delegates to vote for their favourite
Mugabe accused Moyo of masterminding a leadership coup
in Zanu PF, an offence the president described as
A diplomat has described the situation as the
beginning of the end for Moyo in politics.
"He has given his
detractors in Zanu-PF, the old Zanu-PF veterans, ammunition for finishing
him off, because he has never been welcome in the organisation. He will be
reminded that he is not that powerful after all. He is finished," said the
The division in the ruling party has also claimed another
close Mugabe ally, Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri.
minister was arrested for illegally taking foreign currency out of the
country to build an eight-bedroom mansion in Cape Town.
he was remanded in custody until December 15.
Gono's mission is to save Zanu-PF, not the
economy December 3, 2004
By Alex Dawson
Harare - In a whirlwind year, Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono,
has reintroduced discipline to the financial sector and slowed Zimbabwe's
economic decline. To the government, and some others, he is Zimbabwe's
But to most of the industrialists trying to keep factories
going in a dying economy, he is a mightily feared predator.
methods have been likened to those of the country's feared Central
While the intelligence agency is
ruthless in pursuit of information, he is as ruthless in pursuit of foreign
currency - the commodity that has become desperately scarce in an economy
where politics has largely killed off production, tourism and
exports "We dread getting the call to go and see him. He won't
believe us " .
Gono warmly greets
visitors he has invited to see him in his plush suite of offices on the 22nd
floor of the Reserve Bank building in downtown Harare. Most of these special
visitors will have been phoned in the morning to meet him at
While they wait, visitors may be diverted by the rare bird's
eye view of the city centre, which looks orderly and clean. Not like Maputo
or Luanda, and a whole lot better than Lusaka or Kampala, it's the view Gono
To paraphrase the song: from a distance, the
Zimbabwean economy looks healthy.
Gono often shows up two hours
late, apologising profusely and claiming pressure of work. He is hardworking
and sometimes uses the sleeping quarters in the executive suite at the
bank "He believes we are stashing billions in forex
But some visitors suspect his lateness is a
deliberate strategy to unbalance them. He envelopes his visitors in charm.
For a while. First-time visitors are usually disarmed and immediately put at
Those who have been before are wary, dreading the upcoming
encounter with the banker with the cheery public face who now gets more
publicity in the domestic press than his hero, President Robert
Meetings with Gono begin with pleasantries, but often
degenerate within minutes into ugliness. The public would be astonished if
they saw Gono, the urbane banker, transformed into a political zealot in
full rhetorical flight.
Those called in for these special
meetings are usually exporters. He accuses them of hiding foreign currency
Many emerge from the meetings convinced they will be
arrested either by police at the bank when they leave, or later that night.
They are often right.
One weekend recently, there were more
than 20 businessmen and businesswomen locked up in various police stations
around the country, horrified and mortified by their lice-infested
accommodation and invariably blocked toilets en suite.
is now a topic of debate in Harare as to who has sent more to police cells,
Gono, the scourge of business, or information minister Jonathan Moyo, the
scourge of the media.
Some have simply paid the bribes that
investigators from the bank demand, rather than go to court. It's cheaper in
the long run.
Others, among them Zimbabwe's most talented bankers,
have chosen instead to flee into exile. Among these, of course, are some
But not all. Gono accuses them indiscriminately of
externalising foreign currency illegally. Most retort that all they have
done is what all their peers have to do if they want to survive - and that
is trade on the parallel market.
They insist that they had
resorted to the parallel market in desperation after failing, for up to 10
weeks at a stretch, to win foreign currency on Gono's weekly currency
auctions, the only legal source.
The auction rate is fixed by Gono
within a range of a few cents at US$1 for Z$5 600, way below the realistic
parallel market rate. Only a fifth of bidders get what they ask
Most are ready to admit that they have indeed externalised
foreign currency, hundreds of thousands of US dollars in fact. But that,
down to the last cent, they can account for in payments for vital imports to
keep their factories going.
Whistle-blowers are having a field
day, for expected financial gain or personal revenge, but they often nail
the wrong people and it's too late for tears after a weekend's
In the secrecy and paranoia that have now spread
throughout the business community, one exporter, who would speak only if he
was not named, said: "We dread getting the call to go in and see
He won't believe us, no matter what documentation we show
"He believes we are stashing billions in forex
None of the really high-profile politicos in Zanu-PF
have had the dreaded call, with the exception of former finance minister
Chris Kuruneri, and insiders say he was arrested only because the Sunday
Times exposed him on its front page.
This is how Gono is
rescuing the Zimbabwean economy.
It is a short-term strategy,
designed, Mugabe's critics say, to suck enough foreign currency out of every
nook and cranny in the country to keep things ticking over until after the
elections due in the first quarter of next year.
reforms will be needed, which will hurt ordinary Zimbabweans, if the economy
is to be given real, long-term medicine.
In other words, Gono's
whirlwind mission is not so much to save the Zimbabwean economy as it is to
save the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Zimbabwe open door for Streak
comeback By Richard Hobson, One-Day Cricket Correspondent in
HEATH STREAK has said that he could make a
comeback for Zimbabwe after Ehsan Mani, the ICC president, urged the
country's governing body to make peace with the former captain. But Streak
will need assurances of substance behind a commitment from Zimbabwe Cricket
(ZC) that the door remains open for a return. He has been
working at his father's ranch at Turk Mine, near Bulawayo, since an ICC
investigation in October failed to substantiate allegations of racism inside
what was then the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU). When he plays against
England for the Nicky Oppenheimer XI in South Africa on Wednesday, it is
likely to be his last game of 2004.
that Streak and his fellow "rebels" were badly advised by their lawyer
during a dispute that came to a head when Streak resigned as captain over
the selection of the team, the lack of a players' union and the influence
wielded by certain ZCU directors, including Ozias Bvute, now the acting
managing director of ZC.
"I have been encouraging ZC very
strongly to talk to the rebels," Mani said. "They should try to offer the
hand of friendship, unite and move forward. I think it would be wonderful if
Heath could play for Zimbabwe again. Cricketers are not familiar with legal
positions and sometimes I suspect they get used a little
Bvute, who insists that Zimbabwe have never employed a
quota system, said that ZC would be happy for Streak to return, even though
a line was drawn under the dispute with the publication of the ICC's
findings. "I spoke to Heath Streak two weeks ago," Bvute said. "Certainly
the door is still open for him."
Streak offered a
cautious response yesterday. "There honestly is a chance that I can play
again for Zimbabwe," he said. "I think it can happen because we are in an
environment where things are changing on a daily basis. It could be anything
between a 1 per cent or a 100 per cent chance, it is impossible to
"The door being open and the issues being resolved are
two different things. I hope some of the things mooted are not just on the
surface, that there are genuine moves in the ZC to rectify differences of
the past and that there will be no vindictiveness or bad blood if we do
return. It is difficult to know if they are being
"I think we need assurances on the selection side
in terms of security because of integration and the manner in which
integration is being handled. There is also an issue with the lack of
accountability certain individuals have for their actions. That needs to be
Since the dispute, an inexperienced national
team have been suspended from Test cricket until the end of the year and
have lost their past 15 one-day matches. Streak is now concerned about the
weakness of the team at a time when the ICC has undertaken a review of the
The "rebels" now consist of
Streak, Stuart Carlisle and Trevor Gripper. Gavin Ewing became the first of
the 15 to reappear for Zimbabwe when he played against England two days ago
and Barney Rogers could soon join him in the team. The others are playing
abroad or finding new jobs.
Streak hopes to be present for at
least some of the cricket in Bulawayo this weekend. "I think the side has
underperformed in the series so far," he said. "I hope they compete a little
better. A lot of our concern is that we do not want to lose cricket in
Zimbabwe altogether while this is going on."
scheduled to return to Test cricket next month with a tour to Bangladesh and
Bvute will try to dissuade the ICC from restricting their longer-term
programme to home series until the team become more competitive. "There
seems to be a disparity between the ICC mandate to spread cricket on the one
hand and then think of cutting back on the other," Bvute said.
Aids And Some Cultural Practices That Should Be Banned
ANALYSIS December 2, 2004 Posted to the web
December 2, 2004
Mbulawa Moyo Harare
As we mark World Aids Day
this year, perhaps we might do well to look at a few cultural practices that
must be prohibited by law as they are actually instrumental in the rapid
spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
We have often heard that there
are sexual habits such as sleeping around with too many partners and refusal
or neglecting to take protective or precautionary measures such as using
condoms which are contributing to the spread of the pandemic.
have hardly heard people talking about other cultural or traditional
practices such as the Shona kuzvarira, chigadzamapfihwa and kugarwa nhaka
all of which have something to do with forcing a woman who is not in love
with a particular man to whom she is being given away in marriage to marry
The custom of kuzvarira, which had become virtually
extinct, has become very rampant and widespread once again, not only in
remote corners of rural Zimbabwe but even in urban areas because of the
acute poverty brought about by the current economic malaise that has
rendered more than three quarters of our population so poor they cannot have
enough to eat in their homes.
It involves marrying off, without her
consent, a young, underage girl, sometimes as young as eight, to a rich man
who already has another wife or even wives in exchange for money, food and
other material gifts that guarantee the family will not suffer acute
economic deprivation ever again.
Because the man has many other sexual
partners, the risk of the young girl getting infected with HIV is very high
as the husband can get it from any one of his other wives and then pass it
on to her.
A man who has so many wives is not very different from a man
who sleeps around with prostitutes because the many wives can never be
trusted to be faithful as they will often be sexually starved.
Zimbabwe: Draft Law Threatens Civil Society Groups 03 Dec 2004 00:05:08
Source: Human Rights Watch
(London, December 3, 2004) -
The Zimbabwe government's draft law to regulate nongovernmental
organizations threatens the existence of civil society groups in the
country, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today.
Scheduled for a vote in parliament next week, the bill substantially
restricts freedom of association and thus falls far short of the Southern
African Development Community's principles to protect human rights during
elections. "A vibrant civil society is crucial for a functioning democracy,"
said Georgette Gagnon, deputy director at Human Rights Watch's Africa
Division. "With elections coming up in March, Zimbabwe needs to allow
sufficient space for civil society groups, not pass a law that would stifle
The briefing paper details how the draft law-known as the
Non-Governmental Organizations Bill-would infringe on fundamental human
rights, particularly the freedom of association. The bill would also
significantly increase government control over civil society
Moreover, the bill is inconsistent with the Principles and
Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections recently agreed by the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), of which Zimbabwe is a member state.
Agreed at the SADC summit in August, the Principles and Guidelines commit
member states to protect "the human and civil liberties of all citizens,
including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression ...
during electoral processes."
Compared with similar laws in five of
the 14 SADC member states, the Zimbabwean bill provides for substantially
greater government surveillance and control of nongovernmental
organizations. The law would give the Minister of Public Service, Labor and
Social Welfare and the Non-Governmental Organization Council new intrusive
"This law would enable the government to intervene in the
reasonable activities of civil society organizations and possibly force many
of them to close," Gagnon said. "It would undermine the fundamental freedoms
of association and expression in Zimbabwe."
Human Rights Watch is
particularly concerned about the limitations that the proposed law would
place on nongovernmental organizations active on issues of governance,
including human rights. The draft law states that no foreign nongovernmental
organization will be registered if "its sole or principal objects involve or
include issues of governance," which includes the protection of human
rights. Similarly, local organizations working on matters such as governance
issues would be barred from receiving "any foreign funding or donation."
Both clauses are inconsistent with the SADC Principles and Guidelines and
with the Zimbabwean constitution as well.
Moreover, the bill broadly
defines as "foreign" anyone who is not "a permanent resident of Zimbabwe or
a citizen of Zimbabwe domiciled in Zimbabwe." Any Zimbabwean organization
with membership that includes expatriate Zimbabweans would thus be
considered foreign. Many civil society organizations in Zimbabwe currently
depend on foreign and expatriate funding for their activities.
Rights Watch called on SADC member states to urge the Zimbabwe government to
reconcile its proposed nongovernmental organization law with the regional
organization's standards, and especially those on protection of freedom of
association in elections.
"The government should immediately withdraw the
bill or amend it to comply with Zimbabwe's human rights commitments," Gagnon