WAR veterans and Zanu PF supporters have stepped up attacks
on vendors selling independent newspapers in Mashonaland Central as
government intensifies efforts to muzzle the private
Mashonaland Central is a Zanu PF stronghold.
vendors told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that it was now risky to sell
independent newspapers, particularly in Bindura. The most targeted papers are
the Zimbabwe Independent and the Daily News whose vendors had resorted to
secretly selling the papers in fear of their lives.
Distribution’s circulation officer, Graham Gandari, said their vendor in
Bindura returned the whole batch of the Independent last week after he was
prevented from selling them in the town.
“What surprised us is that
state-owned newspapers are sold freely in Bindura and we still don’t
understand why they are targeting the Independent,” he said. Publications
Distribution distributes the Independent and the Standard.
spokesperson in Bindura confirmed they had arrested three suspects and fined
them in connection with the disruption of newspaper sales.
ensure that no-one takes the law into their own hands and people selling
newspapers should report to police if barred from selling them,” he said by
telephone on Wednesday.
Publisher and chief executive of the Independent
Trevor Ncube said this was another crude attempt at suppressing the free
press, particularly as the country goes towards the presidential
election. “The government obviously doesn’t want the people to know the truth
as published in our newspapers,” said Ncube.
“This does not in any way
dampen our spirit. We are keenly aware of what we are up against. We will
continue the fight to give Zimbabweans unsanitised news.”
Staff Writer SUPREME Court Judge Justice Ahmed Ebrahim
differed sharply with his colleagues on the Supreme Court bench who this week
ruled that the government had re-established the rule of law on the country’s
white-owned farms and had implemented a proper programme of land
In what appears to be a stinging rebuttal of remarks made in the
majority ruling, Justice Ebrahim said it was not the duty of the court to
support the government of the day but to uphold the law.
Godfrey Chidyausiku together with Justices Misheck Cheda, Vernanda Ziyambi
and Luke Malaba agreed that the government’s land reform programme was a
matter of “social justice and not, strictly speaking, a legal
However, Justice Ebrahim, the fifth member of the bench
handpicked by Chidyausiku to hear the case, said it was “impossible” to state
that the rule of law had been restored on the country’s white-owned farms or
that there was a land reform programme.
“It is not the function of the
courts to support the government of the day,” he said in his dissenting
“The court’s duty is to the law and the law alone. They may
never subvert the law. To act otherwise would create huge uncertainty in the
law,” he said.
The majority overturns an order given last year by the
previous Supreme Court bench, led by internationally respected former Chief
Justice Anthony Gubbay, which declared that Mugabe’s fast track land reform
programme was chaotic and illegal. Justice Gubbay resigned after threats of
violence by Mugabe’s supporters and Mugabe appointed Chidyausiku in his
Justice Ebrahim said that the state lawyers were “repeating the
arguments previously rejected by the Supreme Court under Justice
“All the points were carefully considered and that court came to
the conclusion it did,” said Justice Ebrahim.
cannot form part of a lawful programme of land reform. It is not lawful for
any occupier to be on the land at all, let alone cut down trees, build homes,
till land, graze their cattle.
“It is a criminal offence. It is
impossible to accept that the rule of law has been
Apparently responding to the view of Chidyausiku and the other
three that land reform was a matter of social justice rather than the
law, Ebrahim said “the courts’ duty is to the law and the law
Judges, as individuals, have their own political, legal, and
social views and opinions. But it is the sworn duty of every judge to apply
the law, whatever he or she may think of the law.”
Paul Themba Nyathi LAMECK
Chemvura, a second year Bachelor of Science student at the University of
Zimbabwe, was allegedly killed by soldiers who are reported to have thrown
him out of the window of a moving train two weeks ago. A few months ago,
police are alleged to have tear-gassed to death another
Currently, Zimbabwe is under a state of siege
following the murder of Cain Nkala who was the chairman of the Bulawayo
chapter of the war veterans association. Following Nkala’s gruesome murder,
the state has gone full throttle to obtain maximum partisan advantage out of
this tragedy. I doubt whether Nkala’s family was consulted when his remains
were exhumed under the full glare of ZTV’s macabre publicity machine. I doubt
whether any legal implications were taken into consideration when the alleged
perpetrators of this dastardly act were interviewed repeatedly and publicly
Were we shown the state of Chemvura’s body when it was discovered
the following afternoon? Were the alleged culprits paraded with manacled
hands and feet and interviewed under the full glare of ZTV cameras? Of course
Week in, week out, scores of MDC supporters are severely assaulted
and in many instances left for dead. In all cases the perpetrators are
alleged to be Zanu PF supporters working in collusion with either the
Zimbabwe Republic Police or elements of intelligence organisations like the
CIO and PISI. Reports are made to the police and of course the culprits are
never apprehended. Who will guard the guards?
The latest ploy by the
police is to allege that MDC supporters are responsible for violence against
themselves. The MDC, according to the police, abducts its own members, burns
down its own premises and throws grenades into its own offices. In one case,
someone who blew himself up trying to throw a grenade at MDC youths was,
according to the police, killed by the MDC. Obviously, the police reasoning
is that it is the fault of the MDC that the grenade intended for MDC youths
ended up killing the would-be assassin.
That this country still has a
semblance of order should be attributed to the MDC’s ability to restrain
We are told that Zanu PF cannot relinquish power because it
fought for this country’s liberation. This twisted logic suggests that Zanu
PF has the entitlement to destroy this country because it fought in the
liberation war. That is of course ludicrous.
Three months or less
before the presidential elections, conditions for a free and fair poll don’t
exist. At this late stage, it is merely academic to talk of a free and fair
presidential election in Zimbabwe in 2002. The ruling party’s self-interested
delays have eaten into the lead-time required to put in place the structures
necessary for a free and fair poll.
It is not just the inaccessibility of
many places in the rural areas that is the problem. We must also face the
psychological effects of violent intimidation, mostly on rural voters.
Zimbabwe would require massive doses of voter confidence-building measures
for the country to get to a stage where the poll could remotely be considered
“free and fair”.
Zimbabwe’s friends in Sadc, the Commonwealth and the EU
should now concern themselves with two matters only:
* In the event of
Mugabe bulldozing his way to victory should such an outcome be
* In the event of the MDC winning under such appallingly
difficult circumstances, what package of quick-impact assistance will they be
in a position to offer the people of Zimbabwe?
Similarly, the people
of Zimbabwe must also consider such issues and begin to agree on a response.
The people of Zimbabwe have endured 21 years of broken promises. They have
seen their dreams turned into nightmares. They have seen a beautiful country
turned into a basket case by a corrupt ruling office that respects no laws at
all. Zimbabweans have witnessed a government adopt violence as if it could
ever be a legitimate instrument for enhancing electoral fortunes. Above all,
a proud people have had to contend with a shameless government that hates
The pressure that is being exerted on the MDC to boycott the
forthcoming presidential elections is understandable. When an electoral
playing field that has been uneven for the past 21 years is made even more
distorted by wholesale arrests, intimidation, displacement and
disenfranchisement of opposition supporters, the reaction of an exasperated
population is to urge a boycott of the polls.
As the president of the
MDC has said again and again, the boycotting of elections is not an option
for the MDC. We, however, understand and appreciate the position of those who
feel that participating in the presidential poll would be disqualifying a
miracle. We have faith in the wisdom of the people of Zimbabwe, those who
will brave the obstacles of casting their votes will make the right choice.
They will choose life over death and they will decide that 21 years of
retrogression are a blight on the spirit of sacrifice that our people made
for the attainment of Independence. For that reason, they will vote for
The right of a people to choose their leaders is so inalienable
that any attempt to compromise that right constitutes treason. Admittedly
the neanderthalian characters within Zanu PF understand one thing only:
the preservation of their power. Power that has been incessantly abused in
the past. Power that has been abused to entrench a predatory class of
people that has sucked dry the blood of ordinary Zimbabweans. Surely this
Cain Nkala died because our country places a very low premium
Life has been taken away with impunity. When the people who
incinerated Chiminya and Mabika still walk freely and arrogantly on our land
we must know that evil has taken root in our country. These innocent souls
did not have the ZBC’s chief correspondent evoke terrorism ad nauseum because
their death was not seen as grist to the Zanu PF political mill. However,
they, like Cain Nkala, were human beings whose lives should never have been
taken in vain.
Is it possible that the gruesome murder of Nkala, the
subsequent violence in Bulawayo, and the general tension in Zimbabwe might
yet save our country?
Is it possible that those who advise Mugabe wrongly
will finally show him step by step how Somalia, Rwanda, the DRC etc got to
where they are? Can they help pull this man back from the brink? Can they
show him Kutumile Masire playing a positive role in the DRC and convince him
that there is life after State House? As Nelson Mandela earns one
international accolade after another, is it possible for Mugabe’s advisers to
convince him that it is not too late for him to redeem himself? All he needs
to do is wake up one morning and restore the rule of law.
Nyathi is director of elections for the Movement for Democratic Change.
ZANU PF officials are illegally
selling parcels of land on farms around Harare to prospective home-seekers
resulting in the sprouting of illegal settlements on all sides of the
The stands are being sold under the auspices of housing
co-operatives. On Retreat Farm along Seke Road, Zanu PF losing candidate in
Harare South constituency, Vivian Mwashita, is selling stands to desperate
home-seekers under the guise of Hatidzokere Shure Housing
Home seekers are asked to pay $1 500 to be allocated a
piece of land for which they would then pay a monthly rental of $2 000 with
effect from the month of allocation. The monies are paid to Zanu PF
Already more than 600 people have been allocated stands on
Retreat Farm and about 400 permanent structures have gone up. There are no
roads or ablution facilities on the farms.
People who have been
allocated the stands could lose their money as the government and Harare City
Council have announced that the illegal settlers should vacate the plots as
the land the settlements are located on has not been surveyed.
public notice placed by the secretary for Local Government, Public Works and
National Housing gave the illegal settlers until Tuesday this week to vacate
“Not only are these settlements illegal but, because the areas
are not serviced, particularly in terms of water and sewerage, they pose a
serious public health risk to both the i