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Govt opening “people’s shops” to control food ahead of elections



By Tererai Karimakwenda
January 29, 2008

The state run newspaper The Herald reported on Tuesday that the Zimbabwean
Ministry of Industry and International Trade will open what they are calling
"people's shops" countrywide after the Cabinet last week approved the
concept. The report quoted the Minister of Industry and International Trade
Obert Mpofu as saying the shops would open within the next 40 days and be
under the Zimbabwe Development Corporation (ZDC). This is the same
government agency that has been charged with prosecuting businesses accused
of flouting price control regulations.

The opening of these shops just weeks away from a crucial poll in the
country has already raised eyebrows. The Herald quotes Minister Mpofu as
saying: "The people's shops will provide basic commodities aimed at the very
low-income earners and disadvantaged groups. The economy is facing many
challenges but it is our belief that the disadvantaged and less-privileged
community should access basic commodities.”

Mpofu drew criticism from observers who see the idea as a blatant attempt by
ZANU-PF to control the distribution of food and basic commodities ahead of
the elections in March. The politicisation of food by the ruling party just
before elections has been reported frequently over the years.

Just two weeks ago we reported that the ruling party was accused of
manipulating aid donated for flood victims and using the distribution
centres to campaign for the March elections. Senior party leaders dispatched
to the affected areas were holding impromptu rallies and telling desperate
villagers the aid had come from Zanu PF.

The election is 59 days from Tuesday. The shops are due to open in 40 days.
That means the shops will have 19 days to operate before the polling date.
It remains to be seen whether “low-income earning” opposition supporters
will benefit from these “people’s shops”.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Nicholas van Hoogstraten released from cells

The Telegraph


By Byron Dziva in Harare
Last Updated: 6:05pm GMT29/01/2008

The notorious property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten has slunk out of a Zimbabwean courthouse after a judge ordered his release.

Court orders release of Nicholas van Hoogstraten
Van Hoogstraten is one of the biggest landowners in Zimbabwe

Van Hoogstraten, 63, was arrested last week on currency and pornography charges and his lawyers secured his freedom on the grounds suspects should not be held for more than 48 hours.

After four days and five nights in cells renowned for overcrowding, filth and lice, Van Hoogstraten, a multi-millionaire who once ordered a hand grenade attack on a business rival and has built himself a palace in the Sussex countryside, looked exhausted.

In the dock at Harare magistrates court he stroked the hair of his girlfriend Nyasha Gora, 22, who has also been charged in connection with pornography allegedly found at his house.

Prosecution papers said that around 150 pictures found in Hoogstraten’s bedroom were of “young Zimbabwean girls photographed in nude, semi-nude, and some in compromising sexual positions which were found to be obscene.”

After they were released the pair left through a back door, jackets over their heads, and sped away in a Mercedes sports car.

“High court judge Samuel Kudya ordered that he be released from police custody,” said George Chikumbirike, Van Hoogstraten’s main defence lawyer.

“If they want to proceed with the case, they can do so by way of summoning him to court.”

Van Hoogstraten is one of the biggest landowners in Zimbabwe, where he is said to have around 200 properties and be an important donor to Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, but he was detained on accusations of charging rent in foreign currency, which is illegal in the country.

He denies all the charges, and also insists that he has not fallen out with Mr Mugabe.

But the Zimbabwean president’s allies are normally immune from interference by the authorities and his arrest has provoked a storm of speculation, with one businessman in Harare suggesting that “something very big must have gone wrong with him”.


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Warning - voter registration & alterations closes Friday 8 Feb


From: Trudy Stevenson

& Voters Roll Inspection BEGINS THIS FRIDAY 1st FEB

As far as we can ascertain, voter registration and alteration to details
(address, name, etc) CLOSES on FRIDAY 8 FEBRUARY 2008, the same day as
Nomination Court.

Please pass this information on to EVERYONE who has not yet registered to
VOTE (eg schools/colleges and those who have turned 18) or who has moved,
married etc and changed their name. IF YOU ARE NOT CORRECTLY REGISTERED,
YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO VOTE. WE NEED EVERY VOTE POSSIBLE TO VOTE ROBERT
MUGABE & ZANU-PF OUT!
In Mt Pleasant-Harare West-Harare North constituencies, your nearest
REGISTRATION CENTRE is at the back of MT PLEASANT DISTRICT OFFICE at Bond
Street shopping centre - open every day during normal office hours 8am- 4pm.
Otherwise you can go to MARKET SQUARE or MAKOMBE BUILDING (passport-ID
office). Take your ID and proof of residence, change, etc.

Please go and register. LET'S MAKE A DATE - 2008! This is the year we MUST
DO IT! WE CAN DO IT - SO LET'S GO!!

VOTERS ROLL INSPECTION
We are informed that Inspection of Voters Rolls will open FRIDAY 1 FEBRUARY
at the usual centres and should be open weekends also. Please go and check
that your name and that of all your family, workers, employees etc is ON THE
VOTERS ROLL, SO THAT WE CAN VOTE MUGABE OUT!!

PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW - FAMILY, DOMESTICS,
EMPLOYEES, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, CLUBS... PRINT OUT and put on a NOTICE BOARD
or two if possible, or distribute to people as you find best.


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Harare’s banks take cover

Business Day

29 January 2008

Dumisani Muleya

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Harare Correspondent

ZIMBABWE’s beleaguered main commercial banks and other financial
houses are scrambling to get unsecured loans from the central bank to cover
their shaky positions.

The moves confirm banks are facing acute liquidity problems
caused by unlawful speculative investments and the economic crisis. Almost
all banks are teetering on the brink of collapse due to these problems.

The central bank said banks had unlawfully tied up large
portions of their balance sheets in securities and other investments.
According to banking legislation , it is illegal for banks to own shares
unless they are held as security for loans or are owned through swapping
debt for equity.

The central bank says that the banks have put an average of 26%
in securities and other investments. As a result, they were unable to secure
loans from it to get cash and improve their liquidity situation.

However, banks said they had invested in securities and other
investments because of the prevailing hyperinflation to protect the value of
deposits. The banks argue that keeping deposits in accounts in these
circumstances in which annual inflation is calculated by the International
Monetary Fund to be 150000% could result in wiping out value .

“What the banks did was rational even if it was unlawful. Under
these difficult economic circumstances any reasonable banker would have done
the same,” a top banker said yesterday.


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Sokwanele - Election Watch

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY

Zimbabwe Election Watch
Issue 16: 29 January 2008

Bar chart of breaches in this issueExecutive Summary

The announcement by President Mugabe that the elections will be held on March 29 has received widespread condemnation. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the date is a blow to current mediation efforts by South African President Thabo Mbeki to end the country's economic and political turmoil.

Eddie Cross, an economic adviser to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, writes in his weekly letter that the February 8 nomination date - which should in fact be during March - was selected very carefully by the regime and is a cunning part of the overall strategy worked out 10 months ago. The early nomination date makes it almost impossible for the opposition to get candidates registered for the poll.

Cross continues: "What Zanu PF did when confronted in March 2007 with the (then) demand by South Africa that they hold the elections on schedule in March 2008, and that they hold them under "free and fair" conditions, was that they convened the 'Joint Operations Command'. JOC evolved a plan they have since been implementing and, like all of their plans, it had one central objective: how to hold onto power at all costs.

1. First they resolved to smash the organisational structures of the MDC... (During March 2007, the MDC leadership was beaten and brutalised en route to the Save Zimbabwe prayer meeting and subsequently thousands of MDC activists have been driven out of the country. MDC structures in many parts of the country have been wiped out and the party headquarters have been smashed twice with the loss of all records and millions of dollars of damage).

2. Then Zanu PF agreed to go along with the demands of President Mbeki and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), but in the conviction that they could manipulate this process and avoid dismantling the system they had built up over the past decade which had enabled them to determine, in advance, whatever result they thought they needed from the election itself.

3. Then finally, they (resolved) to take measures to reduce the urban vote and bring the urban population to heel in the same way they had built up control systems in the rural areas..."

Writing for the Cape Times (SA), journalist Peter Fabricius says: "For Zimbabwe to hold an election that meets Mbeki's test of universal acceptability, a new constitution is necessary. It would contain a proper bill of rights and an independent media commission; would take the vital voter registration process out of the hands of officials answerable only to Mugabe and generally diminish the extraordinary executive powers he has given himself, which would allow him to control and possibly manipulate the elections. Postponing the election is also critical so that the necessary reforms can take place. The MDC has been asking for the elections to take place in June. It will take much longer than that even to restore politics to something like normality. But those extra three months would at least make a difference... "

The two factions of the MDC, which have agreed to reunite and back a single election candidate, have called for the elections to be postponed until the introduction of a new constitution. They also want a new and independent electoral commission and voters' roll, and the redrawing of the disputed electoral boundaries, which blatantly favour the ruling party.

The Zimbabwe Standard comments: "By the calculations of most neutral observers, preparations for the harmonised elections are so behind schedule it is unrealistic - and undemocratic - for them to go ahead in March... Only Zanu PF could benefit from a March election. The party can move swiftly into action once the electoral procedures are switched into motion... "

The Times (UK) notes that "one of Mugabe's tricks has been to manipulate the voters' roll to pour thousands of ruling party workers into opposition strongholds. His regime also retains control of television and radio, and an "independent"electoral commission is packed with Zanu PF supporters."

Political analyst John Makumbe says "it has become very clear that the ruining Zanu PF party does not intend to hold free and fair elections come March.. a dictator cannot be removed from political office through legitimately democratic means."

The stories covered in this issue begin with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai being taken from his home by police in the early hours of 23 January and questioned about a 'freedom march' planned for later that day. This comes just 10 months after he was severely assaulted and seriously injured by police en route to a Save Zimbabwe prayer meeting.

During the MDC's peaceful 'freedom march', scores of opposition supporters were teargassed and beaten up by police, whose original banning of the march had been overruled by a local magistrate. Two days later, the leader of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe was arrested and interrogated by Harare police. A covert campaign of night-time intimidation in poor ghettos of Bulawayo followed a weekend street demonstration by pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a domestic election-monitoring and observation group in Zimbabwe, has expressed concern with the current social and political environment as it relates to the forthcoming elections.

The amendments to three highly contentious acts were rushed through Parliament without any meaningful debate on the contentious provisions of the enabling bills.

The opposition says new constituencies have been demarcated in a way that favours Zanu PF. The demarcation is also criticised for being based on a flawed voters' roll, which has thousands of ghost voters, some of them long since deceased or who have moved. Copies of the delimitation report have not been made available to legislators, journalists or voters.

Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva (MDC Mutambara) says what they have seen indicates the electoral commission has failed to adhere to the terms of last year's 18th constitutional amendment which authorised the redistricting.

Zimbabwe's Media and Information Commission (MIC) is insisting that Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of the banned Daily News and Daily New on Sunday, re-submit their application for an operating licence. This means that there is no way in which the newspapers will get back their licences before the elections.

Zanu PF continues to insist on redistributing food aid from donors and to deny the provision of desperately needed farming equipment to opposition supporters.


Zimbabwe's opposition leader detained
Source Date: 23-01-2008

Police took away Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the middle of the night for questioning about a demonstration planned for later on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

"The police are saying they want to know what he is planning to do today," lawyer Alec Muchadehama told Reuters….

The police had initially granted permission for Wednesday's march, which the MDC called to protest against a crumbling economy blamed on government mismanagement as well as to press for a new constitution….

Source: Reuters
Link to source: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L23600787.htm

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.1: Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
  • 2.1.2: Freedom of association;
  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

Robert Mugabe's reforms are ridiculed after police crackdown on Zimbabwe rally
Source Date: 24-01-2008

Zimbabwean police fired teargas yesterday and charged several hundred demonstrators who were demanding a democratic constitution, water, electricity and the right to draw money from banks without queuing.

The leader of the Opposition was detained, ten demonstrators were treated in hospital and dozens were arrested, lawyers said…

Mr Tsvangirai said that the police clampdown proved that President Mugabe was not serious about his pledge to hold free elections in March and announced that his party would respond by stepping up protests.

Mr Mugabe had “failed the test for a free and fair election”, Mr Tsvangirai said. “If this is the regime's reaction then elections are just a farce.”

The march and the planned rally were the first test of Mr Mugabe's credibility after he had agreed, under mediation overseen by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the 14-nation regional bloc, to a wide series of reforms of legislation used to crush gatherings of his opponents….

Source: Times, The (UK)
Link to source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article3241192.ece

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.1: Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
  • 2.1.2: Freedom of association;
  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

News release from the Zimbabwe Vigil
Source Date: 25-01-2008

The Zimbabwe Vigil said that the leader of its partner organisation, Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR Zimbabwe), had been detained by police in Harare on Friday January 25.

The Vigil said it had received a text message from ROHR leader Stendrick Zvorwadza (which read) "arrested and under interrogation, have been detained four hours so far". … He reported he was in police custody in a cell with 200 others.

Other ROHR activists had been beaten up following a protest … but were … out on bail.

Source: Zimbabwe Vigil
Link to source: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.1: Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
  • 2.1.2: Freedom of association;
  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

State sponsored violence comes to Bulawayo
Source Date: 22-01-2008

There is a covert campaign of night time intimidation in poor (Bulawayo) ghettos following a weekend street demonstration by pressure group Ibhetshu Likazulu, which is demanding reparations for the Gukurahundi atrocities….

Until the past few days, the poor ghettoes of Makokoba and Mzilikazi, mainly peopled by members of the Ndebele ethnic group, had been largely untouched by the political turmoil gripping the rest of the country.

But there are reports of a State-sanctioned crackdown involving ruling party activists against Ibhetshu Likazuku activists, most of whom live in Makokoba and Mzilikazi…

Residents tell of being woken in the middle of the night by the sound of rapping on their doors.

“Zanu thugs from Davies Hall are trying to terrorize us and to force us to attend their political meetings,” declares Mishkei Ncube, referring to Mugabe’s Zanu PF party…

Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jan23a_2008.html

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.1: Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
  • 2.1.2: Freedom of association;
  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …

Concern over pre-election environment
Source Date: 25-01-2008

PRESS RELEASE

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a domestic election-monitoring and observation group in Zimbabwe, which in December 2007 deployed 120 long-term observers countrywide, is concerned with the current social and political environment as it relates to the forthcoming elections.

The organisation expresses its disquiet with the manner in which critical electoral processes such as voter registration and delimitation of constituencies have been conducted. The recent events in the country are particularly worrying as they reflect a regrettable level of political intolerance.

ZESN is also disturbed to note that the aforementioned issues that were discussed and agreed upon under the SADC initiated talks still lack a concrete and positive implementation. When SADC appointed President Mbeki in March 2007 to facilitate the talks between Zanu PF and MDC, the main objective of these talks was to have an election whose outcome would not be contested.

More than ten months have elapsed since these talks started and the electoral environment in Zimbabwe is still far from yielding a result whose outcome would not be contested.

ZESN condemns the police’s heavy-handedness in dealing with the MDC’s Freedom March on 23 January 2008. …

They briefly arrested the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, but later released him without charge. The MDC appealed to the magistrates’ court as provided for in the recently amended security legislation and the court upheld the police’s arguments.

This was in stark contrast to Zanu PF’s “Million Men March” in December 2007 which went on without hitches, with the police actually providing escort for the marchers. The police’s conduct raises unnecessary tension …

Investigations by ZESN have revealed … interesting observations on how the electoral management body, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is treating the voter registration exercise…

ZESN calls on all stakeholders to create an enabling environment for the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections. It reiterates that it is necessary for the government, ZEC and political parties political parties to conduct the elections in a manner that conforms to regional and international standards thus conferring legitimacy to the resultant government.

Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10871:concern-over-pre-election-environment&catid=31:top%20zimbabwe%20stories&Itemid=66

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.1: Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
  • 2.1.2: Freedom of association;
  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 2.1.6: Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for
  • 2.1.7: Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions …
  • 2.1.8: Voter education.
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 4.1.3: Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration;
  • 7.1: [The member state holding elections shall] Take necessary measures to ensure the scrupulous implementation of the above principles …
  • 7.3: [The member state holding elections shall] Establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified personnel …
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …
  • 7.5: [The member state holding elections shall] Take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging…
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

Amid talks deadlock, Mugabe signs security and media law reforms in Zimbabwe
Source Date: 19-01-2008

President Robert Mugabe signed into law changes to Zimbabwe's media, security and electoral laws negotiated with the opposition before the March presidential and parliamentary elections, the government-controlled Herald newspaper reported Saturday.

The amendments — negotiated in South Africa-mediated talks between the ruling party and opposition aimed at ending Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis — were rushed through parliament at the end of 2007…

The new security laws make it easier to hold political rallies, which in the past were often banned by police on the pretence that parties failed to meet strict security requirements. Under the new legislation, only courts can ban political activities on security grounds.

The amendment will be tested Wednesday when the opposition Movement for Democratic Change plans to hold a "Freedom Walk" in Harare to protest the worsening economic hardships and press its demands for constitutional reform…

Independent media groups, which are virtually outlawed at present, say (the revised media laws) will also be put to the test in coming weeks as foreign journalists seek visas and state media accreditation to visit Zimbabwe for the elections. In the recent past, foreign journalists have routinely been denied visas and accreditation for reporting from Zimbabwe…

Mugabe insists only visiting observers from "friendly progressive nations" will be permitted to monitor polling, effectively excluding monitors from former colonial power Britain, the European Union or the United States….

Source: International Herald Tribune, The
Link to source: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/01/19/africa/AF-GEN-Zimbabwe-Elections.php

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

Zimbabwe opposition cites 'anomalies' in national redistricting report
Source Date: 17-01-2008

With national elections possibly less than 10 weeks off, one grouping of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change has cited "anomalies" in a redistricting report given to parliament Wednesday by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The first reservations about the report were expressed by the MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara…

Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva … told VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that what his grouping has seen so far indicates that the electoral commission failed to adhere to the terms of last year's 18th constitutional amendment which authorised the redistricting.

Source: VOANews (USA)
Link to source: http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/Zimbabwe/2008-01-17-voa49.cfm

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.1: Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 2.1.6: Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for
  • 2.1.7: Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions …
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 4.1.3: Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration;
  • 7.3: [The member state holding elections shall] Establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified personnel …
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …
  • 7.5: [The member state holding elections shall] Take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging…
  • 7.6: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the availability of adequate logistics and resources for carrying out democratic elections;
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

Delimitation exercise dismissed as a fraud
Source Date: 21-01-2008

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) (MT) says new constituencies have been demarcated in a way that favours the ruling Zanu PF.

Commenting on the demarcation of 210 constituencies to be contested in the harmonised polls set for March, secretary for elections Ian Makone said from the outset the whole delimitation method was "fraudulent" because it was based on a "flawed" process.

He said the delimitation was based on a flawed voters’ roll, which had thousands of ghost voters, some of them long since deceased, while others had moved from their original constituencies.

"There were very glaring anomalies in the voters’ roll," said Makone ….

The party claimed the delimitation report was being deliberately made inaccessible so that both MPs and their electorate remain in the dark about the constituencies until the last minute….

The MDC said some urban areas had been attached to rural areas or been split in a bid to neutralise the opposition party’s urban dominance.

They said this pattern was most pronounced in Mutare, Harare and Bulawayo….

Source: Zimbabwe Standard, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200801200108.html

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.1: Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 2.1.6: Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for
  • 2.1.7: Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions …
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 4.1.3: Non-discrimination in the voters’ registration;
  • 4.1.4: Existence of updated and accessible voters roll;
  • 7.3: [The member state holding elections shall] Establish impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified personnel …
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …
  • 7.5: [The member state holding elections shall] Take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging…
  • 7.6: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the availability of adequate logistics and resources for carrying out democratic elections;
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

Between the lines
Source Date: 26-01-2008

The Zimbabwean government's move to ask two independent newspapers it had banned to re-register is being viewed with much scepticism in local media circles.

The Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, both published by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), were shut down by the government-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC) in September 2003 after they failed to register under the controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

The newspapers had been critical of the Zanu PF government. The Daily News, set up in 1999, was believed to have the biggest circulation in the country - around 100,000 - when it was closed….

Takura Zhangazha, spokesman for the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA, Zimbabwe chapter), said …."It's a political game. There is no way in which the two newspapers are going to be given back their licences before the elections, as would have been ideal to ensure balanced and diversified media coverage of the polls.”…

Zhangazha said the process of registering the newspapers would require at least two months to complete, "but then, that would just be the elementary stage, considering that the banned papers have a mammoth logistical task in mobilising resources, recruiting staff, among other requirements, to ensure a serious media project"….

Source: IRIN (UN)
Link to source: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=76420

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …
  • 7.5: [The member state holding elections shall] Take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging…
  • 7.6: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the availability of adequate logistics and resources for carrying out democratic elections;
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

Aid clash - Zanu insists on distributing food aid from donors
Source Date: 22-01-2008

The Zanu PF regime has clashed with non governmental organisations (NGO)s over the distribution of humanitarian aid, as it insists on them channelling the assistance through its structures for campaigning purposes ahead of the combined presidential and parliamentary elections.

Crisis Coalition, an umbrella of civic organizations has confirmed that the regime has stalled a lot of progress in the distribution of food aid, drugs, clothing and blankets sourced by donor organizations and talks have reached a deadlock.

The regime is demanding that all aid should be distributed through its channels, which includes district administrators, local government officials as well as traditional leaders, long known for their blind support and loyalty to Zanu PF…

The World Food Programme has said about six million Zimbabweans are in dire need of humanitarian assistance and the situation is set to worsen due to the failure of the current agricultural season through excessive rains and the attendant problems associated with Mugabe's chaotic land reform programme.

Note: SW Radio Africa reports that, as parts of the country battle rising flood waters, Zanu PF is being accused of manipulating relief aid distribution centres to campaign for the coming March elections…. Party leaders are making it clear villagers have to vote for Zanu PF if they want to be looked after…..

Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EMAE-7B4QJG?OpenDocument

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.2: Freedom of association;
  • 2.1.6: Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens …
  • 7.5: [The member state holding elections shall] Take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging…
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …

Farm equipment used to buy votes
Source Date: 17-01-2008

Zanu PF is using farm equipment and threats to sway voters ahead of elections to be held in March, a report by a pressure group says.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which is monitoring the pre-election period, reports numerous cases of politicisation of state and public functions and programmes in rural areas.

ZESN has deployed 120 long-term observers that are monitoring election related events in the existing 120 parliamentary constituencies….

(For example) ZESN says its observers found that in the Midlands province, traditional leaders in Silobela, particularly Chiefs Gobo and Ruya, have banned all opposition activity in their areas….

Source: Financial Gazette, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200801170684.html

SADC standards breached

  • 2.1.1: Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
  • 2.1.2: Freedom of association;
  • 2.1.3: Political tolerance;
  • 2.1.6: Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for
  • 2.1.8: Voter education.
  • 4.1.1: Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of citizens
  • 4.1.2: Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections
  • 7.4: [The member state holding elections shall] Safeguard the human and civil liberties of all ci tizens …
  • 7.5: [The member state holding elections shall] Take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud, rigging…
  • 7.8: [The member state holding elections shall] Ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process …
  • 7.9: [The member state holding elections shall] Encourage the participation of women, disabled and youth in all aspects of the electoral process …

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Election body ZESN concerned over intolerance

Nehanda Radio

29 January 2008

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a domestic election-monitoring
and observation group in Zimbabwe, which in December 2007 deployed 120
long-term observers countrywide, is concerned with the current social and
political environment as it relates to the forthcoming elections.

The organisation also expresses its disquiet with the manner in which
critical electoral processes such as voter registration and delimitation of
constituencies have been conducted. The recent events in the country are
particularly worrying as they reflect a regrettable level of political
intolerance.

ZESN is also disturbed to note that the aforementioned issues that were
discussed and agreed upon under the SADC initiated talks still lack a
concrete and positive implementation. When SADC appointed President Mbeki in
March 2007 to facilitate the talks between ZANU PF and MDC, the main
objective of these talks was to have an election whose outcome would not be
contested. More than ten months have elapsed since these talks started and
the electoral environment in Zimbabwe is still far from yielding a result
whose outcome would not be contested.

ZESN condemns the police’s heavy-handedness in dealing with the MDCs`
Freedom March on Wednesday 23 January 2008. After initially sanctioning the
march to go ahead, the police later inexplicably declared the march illegal,
arguing that they had evidence that it would turn violent. They briefly
arrested the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, but later released him
without charge.

The MDC appealed to the magistrates’ court as provided for in the recently
amended security legislation and the court upheld the police’s arguments.
This was in stark contrast to ZANU PF`s “Million Men March” in December 2007
which went on without hitches, with the police actually providing escort for
the marchers. The police’s conduct raises unnecessary tension and only helps
to fuel doubts whether the country is ready to hold a credible, free and
fair election.

Investigations by ZESN have revealed that the electoral management body, the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), is not taking voter registration
seriously. A visit to the district registration office in the city centre in
Masvingo by one of the officers intending to register as a voter on Thursday
10 January 2008 yielded interesting observations on how ZEC is treating the
voter registration exercise.

While one would expect voter registration to be given prime importance and
due priority given the importance of elections and their imminence, the
officer was told registration is only done between 1400hrs and 1600hrs
daily, hence he had to wait for that slot if he was to be registered. The
situation was even worse at the Gutu Registrar’s office where the ZESN team
was told no registration was being undertaken due to unavailability of
materials to expedite the registration process.

In Harare, despite ZEC’s claims of decentralisation of the registration
process, the ZESN team noted that the Registrar General District offices
were referring would-be voters to their Head Office at Makombe Building in
Harare for registration. This rather nonchalant approach towards the voter
registration exercise seems to be the modus operandi guiding the operations
of most of the Registrar General’s offices across the country.

In addition, the organization observed that the delimitation exercise that
was done by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission started late. The preliminary
delimitation report was only presented to the President last week and
hastily tabled before Parliament for noting on Thursday 17 January 2008.
Parliament was immediately adjourned without debating the report.

ZESN is perturbed to note that there were no copies of the report for each
Member of Parliament for scrutiny; instead, there was only one copy that was
available for parliamentarians in the papers’ office in Parliament. This is
despite constitutional provisions in section 61A subsection (8) that mandate
the President to cause the document to be tabled for debate by parliament.
ZESN is concerned that the report will be finalized without any scrutiny by
the legislature rendering academic the recent reforms to the Constitution of
Zimbabwe brought in by Constitutional Amendment No. 18. Furthermore the
report and its contents have not been made available to the public and other
key stakeholders for comment or analysis.

ZESN also noted the continued abuse of state resources by ruling party
parliamentarians and senators. This has been done through the government’s
farm mechanization programme as a campaign tool. In Mutoko North people in
the constituency were told that farm implements (ploughs and scotch carts)
were coming from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and ZANU PF.
Unscrupulous politicians in Mashonaland East have also taken advantage of
the farm implements distribution exercise to launch their political
campaigns.

In Marondera, there were donations of seed to women in the Mahusekwa
Community by a ZANU PF senator who also allegedly threatened and intimidated
the people that the war veterans would deal with them if they do not vote
for the ruling party in March 2008. It is also disturbing to note that some
politicians continue to use food like maize and beans as a vote-buying tool
and heartlessly direct food distribution in a partisan manner.

ZESN therefore calls for an urgent refocus on the planning that is needed if
the elections are to be held successfully in March. It also calls for urgent
measures that would ensure an environment conducive for the holding of free
and fair elections to be put in place. It is ZESN’s considered view that,
politically and administratively, the situation is inimical to the holding
of credible, legitimate, free and fair elections.

It is also worrying to note that the date of the election is not yet known.
ZESN therefore urges the responsible authorities to ensure that the date to
be announced will take into cognizance the fact that there will be
harmonized elections hence there is need for ample time for logistical and
administrative preparations as well as the provision of adequate voter
information to avoid unnecessary confusion on voting day.

ZESN hopes that the ZEC will take it upon itself to satisfactorily meet its
constitutional mandate of conducting voter education in order to ensure that
every voter participates from an informed position. It should also allow
other players to conduct voter education.

ZESN calls on all stakeholders to create an enabling environment for the
conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections. It reiterates that, it is
necessary for the government, ZEC and political parties political parties to
conduct the elections in a manner that conforms to regional and
international standards thus conferring legitimacy to the resultant
government.


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Mugabe regime extends total disregard for SADC

Nehanda Radio

29 January 2008

By Eddie Cross

Yesterday the Mugabe regime extended its total disregard for the SADC
process and unilaterally announced that the elections would be held on the
29th March (I had expected the 28th March) and that nomination day would be
the 8th February. The nomination day is the day to watch as it was selected
very carefully by the regime and is a cunning part of the overall strategy
they worked out 10 months ago.

What Zanu PF did when confronted in March 2007, with the demand by South
Africa that they hold the elections on schedule in March 2008 and that they
hold them under “free and fair” conditions, they convened the “Joint
Operations Command” and evolved a plan which they have been implementing
since then. Like all their plans it had one central objective – how to hold
onto power at all costs.

First they resolved to smash the organizational structures of the MDC, then
they agreed to go along with the demands of Mbeki and the SADC but in the
conviction that they could manipulate this process and avoid dismantling the
system they had built up over the past decade which has enabled them to
determine, in advance, whatever result they thought they needed from the
election itself. Then finally, they agreed to take measures to reduce the
urban vote and bring the urban population to heel in the same way that they
had built up control systems in the rural areas.

In retrospect you can now see clearly how these three basic strategies have
been played out. Three days after the JOC meeting in Harare, the leadership
of the MDC was beaten and brutalized in Highfield at a prayer meeting. Many
were hospitalized and two activists were shot and killed by the police.
Morgan Tsvangirai was beaten unconscious and partially lost the ability to
speak for a while. Since then thousands of MDC activists have been beaten
and driven out of the country. The MDC structures in many parts of the
country have been wiped out. The Party Headquarters has been smashed twice
with the loss of all records and millions of dollars of damage.

The Regime has co-operated with South African mediators in the SADC process
but has dragged its feet and delayed agreement until the very last moment,
only to then turn around and say (disingenuously) that there was
“insufficient time” to implement the agreement so the planned elections
would go ahead under present conditions. When pressed to implement the
agreements reached in 8 months of discussions that were meant to have taken
three, Mugabe finally simply told Mbeki to get lost and that Zanu PF would
not implement the deal beyond the modest reforms already agreed and
implemented.

Just to drive home that message Mugabe has in the past week simply brushed
aside the reforms already agreed, passed through Parliament and signed into
law. POSA has been used to stop normal political activity, the Independent
Electoral Commission is operating as if it was business as usual and
military and security officers are being used to manage the electoral system
in total violation of the new Electoral Act. Reforms in the registration of
voters and the voter’s roll are just being ignored. Now, they announce a
nomination date that makes it almost impossible for the opposition to get
its candidates registered for the poll.

At the same time as this was going on, they launched the campaign to destroy
what was left of the independent business sector using as a pretext price
controls and “indigenisation”, a euphemism for extending Zanu control to all
sectors of the economy. In a ruthless campaign that resembles the farm
invasions that followed the Zanu PF defeat in the February 2000 referendum,
the State has arrested 40 000 businessmen, crippled the retail and wholesale
sector of the economy and announced the virtual nationalization of all major
industrial and mining companies. In 10 months at least another million
refugees have fled to South Africa and other countries. Only the most
determined and innovative have survived.

Now the MDC faces the most crucial decision in its short life – do we run in
the election and what can be done about this total violation of the SADC
process? I do not know what we will eventually do but I have confidence in
our leadership, which has never let us down in making such decisions in the
past. Right now I am sure, that like me last night, they are not doing much
sleeping. We have been ambushed, well and truly by the Zanu PF and their
security cohorts and it does not help that the South African leadership is
in the same boat.

I am being bombarded by e-mails saying that we should boycott the elections.
They say that if we run we give credence to the Mugabe regime and the
pretext that they are democrats. Its not quite as simple as that and that
might, in fact be one of the goals of the Regime in this exercise. The
tragedy is that the South Africans have not been willing, when it matters
most, to use their very considerable power to secure compliance from Zanu
PF. But we have no choice but to live with that reality.

Why run when the odds are so stacked against us? In my view the arguments
are very powerful. In the first instance we have to ask what is the
alternative – violence and more killing? Zanu PF would love that and use the
violence to justify a clamp down that most African leaders would endorse.
The possibility of change will recede and it could be years before we are
again offered such an opportunity. We might even then be forced to retreat
into violence and many of us would not accept that as a means of change.

We are not alone on this pitch – there are at least 5 other political
parties and although they are tiny and carry no threat to the regime, they
might be allowed to take a few seats and would give credence to the Zanu PF
regime that would follow. Most Zanu candidates would run unopposed and this
would give them an easy and defensible ride back into power. Again change
recedes and Zimbabwe becomes just another failed African State relying on
donor aid to feed an entrapped and impoverished population that does not
have the energy to oppose the regime.

Then we must not forget a lesson we learned from the war – ambushes are a
great strategy if your opponent does not know what lies in store for him. If
you can discover your enemy’s strategy and location and timing for an
ambush, you can turn the tables on him and the result can be very
satisfying. It is just possible that we could do that.

We need to get that nomination date changed – put back to where it should be
in March, then we need to combine forces and put up single candidates in all
electoral districts and most important, we need to control the final stage
of the ambush – the election itself. We must use the instruments we have to
ensure the poll is watched, recorded and reported on from every polling
station – without exception. I do not think we really need to worry about
what people will do with their ballots – they will vote overwhelmingly for
change, there is no alternative. What we have to stop is the false balloting
and the manipulation of the count.

Eddie Cross is a policy adviser in the opposition MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai. He writes here in his personal capacity.


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MDC members walk fine line on Harare polls

IOL

Basildon Peta
January 29 2008 at 05:06AM

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe dug in his heels on Monday,
reiterating his rejection of President Thabo Mbeki's proposal to implement a
new constitution before holding elections in March, while the opposition
considered boycotting the polls.

Mugabe's point man on electoral issues, Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, said a new constitution for Zimbabwe, which is at the core of
disputes between Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), would be considered only after the elections.

Mbeki, who visited Zimbabwe more than a week ago to try to break the
impasse between the sides, tried without success to persuade Mugabe to delay
the elections and create room for implementing a raft of measures, including
a new "transitional constitution" agreed in talks he is mediating on behalf
of SADC.

It is understood that Mbeki is planning another visit to Zimbabwe as
he tries to salvage his mediation which is widely seen as having failed.

On the other hand, the opposition is struggling to come up with a firm
position on whether or not to boycott the elections.

Intense discussions on the way forward are under way in both the main
wing of the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, and the smaller faction headed by
robotics professor Arthur Mutambara.

For any boycott to be effective, it has to be unanimous and endorsed
by both factions who have been discussing a merger over the past weeks. But
it seems some senior members in Mutambara's faction, and others in
Tsvangirai's faction, are opposed to a boycott of the polls.

"These are people who have made a career out of being opposition
politicians and badly need their parliamentary perks to survive," said one
opposition official who did not want to be named before the party announces
its official position.

The MDC must walk a fine line between participating in the polls and
most probably losing, because of a skewed electoral landscape, and
boycotting the polls and risking irrelevance.

Zimbabwean analysts and commentators see no point in the opposition
participating in an election with a pre-determined outcome, only to cry foul
when it loses.

Any boycott has to be followed by an effective civil disobedience
campaign against Mugabe. But the opposition's ability to sustain that too is
very much in doubt.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Mercury on
January 29, 2008


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Zim attorney-gen faces tribunal probe

iafrica.com



Tue, 29 Jan 2008

A state tribunal has begun investigating Zimbabwe's attorney-general for
misconduct after he met a former banker who was on the police wanted list, a
state daily reported on Tuesday.

The Herald newspaper said the tribunal, sitting in an improvised courtroom
at a training centre in Harare's eastern industrial district, began hearing
evidence against Sobusa Gula-Ndebele behind closed doors.

"After the inquiry, the tribunal will make its recommendations to President
(Robert) Mugabe on whether or not Mr Gula-Ndebele should keep his position
as the country's attorney-general," the newspaper reported.

Mugabe suspended Gula-Ndebele in December last and appointed a three-member
tribunal comprising two high court judges and a senior attorney to
investigate him.

The attorney-general had been arrested the previous month on misconduct
charges after he allegedly met in September with James Mushore, former
deputy managing director of National Merchant Bank (NMB).

Mushore had been on the police wanted list since 2004 on charges of
siphoning foreign currency from Zimbabwe.

He had just sneaked back into the country from Britain.

Police said Mushore and three colleagues set up a money transfer agency in
London in breach of Zimbabwe's strict foreign exchange laws and siphoned
funds to offshore accounts.

In May the central bank revoked NMB's foreign exchange licence after
staffers moved at least four million US dollars to foreign bank accounts
without authorisation from the central bank.

AFP


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Mowing And Cleaning Replace Geography And Algebra



UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

29 January 2008
Posted to the web 29 January 2008

Harare

Two weeks into the new term, Tatenda Marimire, 13, has spent more time as an
unpaid errand boy for his school than getting to grips with algebra, because
there are no teachers. Like most civil servants, educators have increasingly
stayed away from work to seek other sources of income to survive
hyperinflation.

"We are spending most of the time cutting grass, cleaning dormitories and
running errands for members of staff that have reported for duty, and this
makes us feel like young workers without salaries," he complained. "We don't
know where the teachers are and if we will manage to learn at all."

The Zimbabwean government has been struggling to pay its employees
inflation-related salaries and the education sector has been one of the
worst affected by the eight-year economic crisis. On 24 January the
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the country's biggest group
of educators, issued a statement calling for a strike over general
unhappiness with recent salary hikes.

The union had asked for a minimum monthly salary of Z$1,770 million (about
US$321 at the parallel foreign exchange market rate of Z$5.5 million to
US$1) for at least the first quarter of 2008, but only Z$141 million (about
US$25) per month was put on the table.

The government has not publicly released official inflation figures for the
last two months but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the
rate has reached 100,000 percent and is still rising.

Too weak to teach

"We are stressed, our bodies are weak and our minds numb," said the PTUZ
statement. "Prolonged exposure to poverty has destroyed the professional
person in us. We are facing a slow death."

We [teachers] are stressed, our bodies are weak and our minds numb.
Prolonged exposure to poverty has destroyed the professional person in us.
We are facing a slow death

Low teacher morale, the brain drain, inadequate financing, poverty and
hunger were some of the challenges the education sector was facing,
according to the 2004 government progress report on the UN Millennium
Development Goals.

Many teachers have sought to supplement their meagre salaries by
cross-border trading, illegal gold panning, informal foreign currency
trading and even sex work.

The PTUZ statement said reporting for work would only deceive children and
their parents into believing that meaningful learning was taking place at
schools, whereas it was not: "We do not want to convert classroom blocks
into shopping malls and shopping centres. We do not want to covert our
students into customers."

A senior teacher at Marimire's school in Chitungwiza, a town about 30km
south of the capital, Harare, admitted that they had been affected by the
shortage of teachers.

"Even the strike that PTUZ is calling for would be meaningless because the
teachers are just not there [because they have left the profession or even
the country], and through interaction with my colleagues in and outside
Chitungwiza and Harare I have heard that the situation is bad in almost
every school, with private schools being less affected," said the teacher,
who did not want to be named.

The school was unable to pay the salaries demanded by private tutors and had
approached university students awaiting the start of a new semester in March
to help out temporarily. "This is just a way of managing the crisis, but we
are lost as to what permanent solution we can have. Teachers have been
abandoning classrooms over the years, sometimes without even bothering to
tender their resignations, but this year seems to be the worst."

In another statement urging parents to support their strike, the PTUZ noted
that more than three million Zimbabweans have fled the country to seek
economic refuge in other countries. The brain drain has also acutely
affected the health, construction, engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Angry parents

Many parents are angry because their children are receiving little or no
education. According to the latest statistics by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Zimbabwe still
has an overall literacy rate of over 90 percent, the highest in southern
Africa, which analysts attribute to an aggressive policy in the 1980s that
aimed to bring about universal education.

But the high inflation rate has drastically undermined the allocation for
procuring teaching and learning materials, according to the government's
Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.

Primary school enrolment rates were above 90 percent in 2004, but attendance
and completion rates have been dropping because of rising costs, which have
also affected the quality of education: in 2004, the Grade 7 examination
pass rate was 67 percent and the textbook-pupil ratio was low, ranging
between 1:6 and 1:10 in all subjects, according to the ministry.

"Yes, this country might have one of the highest literacy rates on the
continent, but the falling standards in the education sector are definitely
bound to drastically lower the quality of local qualifications," commented
John Sakarombe, whose daughter is in a boarding school outside the city of
Gweru in Midlands Province.

When he visited her recently, his daughter complained of erratic food
supplies and power cuts, and said they had to cook their own meals because
most of the kitchen staff had left. The pupils have been forced to use the
bucket system because the school did not have the funds to hire plumbers to
clear the blocked sewer system, and this exposed them to communicable
diseases, he added.

"I feel cheated and am fed up," said Sakarombe. "I paid more than one
billion dollars [in school fees] - not easy money to raise, especially as we
are coming from the Christmas holiday ... but this is what I am getting."

Some schools even urge students to buy groceries for their teachers, because
the prices of commodities have now risen beyond the reach of the majority.

People's Shops

In an attempt to help the poor cope with high prices, the government
announced this week that it would be introducing "People's Shops" to cater
to low-income groups.

According to the official Herald newspaper, industry and international trade
minister Obert Mpofu said the shops would ensure that disadvantaged groups
and people earning very low incomes could buy basic commodities at
affordable prices.

The concept has been borrowed from Angola, which has allocated US$1.5
billion to build such shops throughout the country.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]


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NCA Statement on ZRP Attacks on Civilians



The National Constitutional Assembly is deeply concerned by the level of
violence being perpetrated by the state security apparatus such as Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) and the Zimbabwe National Army.

The NCA is also concerned by the fact that the same policemen who brutalise
demonstrators face same problems like cash problems, electricity cuts, water
cuts and scarcity of basics in the shops.

Over the past weeks Zimbabwean civilians have faced serious attacks from
government agents especially from ZRP perpetrating politically motivated
violence.

It is NCA's concern that the police have continued acts of violence with
impunity. The NCA notes the deaths of Gift Tandare in March 2007, Batanai
Hadzizi, Chemvura from University of Zimbabwe and Edward Chikomba last year
as clear acts of the police force in a bid to thwart civil society and
opposition party.

Chikomba a journalist was last year abducted by some people alleged to be
from the notorious unit of the Central Intelligence Organisation and his
corpse was found lying just outside Harare.

Investigations which are still going on have highlighted that some of the
people within the ZRP were neither trained nor ever qualified to be trained
by the policing department.

"The NCA believes some of the people who have been incorporated within the
ZRP are from the National Service Schools (popularly known as Border Gezi
training centre) this can be seen through the extent of brutality which is
lectured only at these militia schools," NCA Spokesperson Chivasa
established.
It is worrying for the NCA to note that even court sanctioned demonstrations
are ending up being clamped down by the ZRP like what happened to the
opposition MDC supporters last week, which also saw some innocent civilians
being chased through the use of teargas.

Zimbabwe has in the past seven years experienced increased polarization in
the country's police force as they have closely proved their allegiance to
the ruling party Zanu PF at the expense of citizens.

"Besides being the most poorly paid among the entire collection of the civil
servants, Zimbabwean police remain being partisan and that is unfortunate,"
Chivasa adds.

The NCA wants to urge all Zimbabweans to deny unlawful arrests by members of
the police force. The NCA also urges members to prepare defending themselves
when faced with violent police at rallies and demonstrations so as to
protect their lives.

NCA INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
HARARE


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Makoni's bid to fight for a Zanu PF seat accepted

zimbabwejournalists.com

29th Jan 2008 14:16 GMT

By David Baxter

HARARE - Simba Makoni, the former finance minister, has all but shot down
reports linking him to a splinter group after he registered to contest a
seat in Makoni District as a Zanu PF candidate.

Makoni submitted his CV for vetting by the Zanu PF Manicaland provincial
elections directorate which met at the weekend in Mutare, 265 km east of the
capital. He wants to stand as a Zanu PF candidate in Makoni Central.

Makoni's CV was successfully vetted and he will contest in the primaries to
be held this weekend. But he will have to slug it out with Ptarick
Chinamasa, the justice minister, who also wants to represent the ruling
party in the newly carved constituency.

Zanu PF sources said the battle for the Makoni Central seat was likely to be
close although Chinamasa has better chances because he is being backed by
Dydmus Mutasa, the feared security minister.

Mutasa, also Zanu PF's national secretary for adminstration, is known
dislike Makoni with a passion.

"Simba is standing in the primaries for Makoni Central but his problem is
Nyati," said one top official. Mutasa is commonly referred to as Nyati, his
totem, by his supporters and admirers in Rusape.

Makoni was not present at the Mutare meeting which successfully vetted his
CV but Chinamasa was in attendence.

Reports that Makoni will seek to win the Zanu PF ticket for Makoni Central
came as no surprise as the former finance minister had already indicated he
was not interested in challenging Mugabe.

Last week he attended a ruling party meeting in Mutare where he openly
supported President Mugabe’s candidacy.

Zanu PF sources said Makoni surprised everyone in attendance during a Zanu
PF Manicaland Provincial Coordination Committee meeting when he spoke
grossly about President Mugabe and supported his candidacy.

What shocked some members most was when he said it was wrong for Zanu PF to
give concessions to the opposition MDC in the ongoing talks, brokered by
South African leader, Thambo Mbeki.

The sources said Makoni’s shocking comments came after Chris Mushowe, the MP
for Mutare West and also transport Minister had told Chinamasa that the
delimitation exercise should be conducted in such a manner that favoured
Zanu PF candidates.

Mushowe wanted boundarires of constituencies demarcated in a manner that
gave ruling party candidates an urge over opposition aspirants.

But Chinamasa said such a question should be directed to the Zimbabwe
Election Commission. Makoni, the sources said, immediately stood up telling
Chinamasa that it was wrong for Zanu PF candidates not to benefit from the
delimitation exercise since they were in the ruling party.

He said Zanu PF candidates should enjoy the benefits of belonging to the
party that was in power.

Makoni reportedly told the meeting that Zanu PF should be careful not to
give in too much to the MDC in the on-going talks aimed at solving
Zimbabwe's eight-year old economic and political crisis.

Last Saturday's meeting which vetted Makoni's CV was attended by political
heavy weights such as Zanu PF politburo members from Manicaland Didymus
Mutasa (secretary for administration), Oppah Muchinguri (secretary for
women's affairs), Kumbirai Kangai (secretary for external affairs), Stanley
Sakupwanya (secretary for persons with disabilities) and Victoria Chitepo
(deputy secretary for education).

All Zanu PF central committee members, cabinet ministers from Manicaland,
provincial co-ordination committee members and district chairpersons were in
attendance.

Makoni was recently summoned to State House by President Mugabe to explain
rumours going around the country and abroad that he was about to lead a
coalition group in the fight to wrestle power from him.

The former finance minister, who only a few weeks before had been very
critical of the ruling party, attacking the ruling party at a meeting
organised by publisher Ibbo Mandaza, emerged from the meeting with Mugabe a
changed man, announcing he was not opposing the veteran Zimbabwean leader.

At the meeting, at which Mugabe's critics, former information minister
Jonathan Moyo, the MDC's Engineer Elisha Mudzuri, the NCA's Lovemore
Madhuku, Heneri Dzinotyiwei and other spoke against the worsening political
crisis in the country and the need for urgent change.

Makoni, described by Madhuku as a coward, said he was appalled at the
worsening situation in Zimbabwe. He was not happy about the new greedy,
carlous, uncaring Zimbabwean that has been created by the worsening
political and economic crisis in the country. It was what Makoni said in
that meeting that led many to believe indeed he was going to announce the
new formation ahead of the March 29 elections.


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Mixed response to Bush's attack on Zimbabwe's human rights record

zimbabwejournalists.com

29th Jan 2008 13:58 GMT

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

HARARE - There have been mixed reactions to the attack on Harare by US
president George W. Bush yesterday in his final union address as the head of
the United States. Bush described Zimbabwe as one of the four governments in
the world that curtail freedoms of its citizens.

In his address presented Monday Bush said Washington was concerned by the
state of affairs in Zimbabwe, Cuba, Burma, Belarus and war-torn Sudan.

He said the US supported the freedoms of the people in those four countries.

"Our foreign policy is based on a clear premise: We trust that people, when
given the chance, will choose a future of freedom and peace…” said Bush.

“America opposes genocide in Sudan. We support freedom in countries from
Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma.” Bush said his country supported the
rule of law in developing countries with the US also leading efforts in
tackling global hunger, asking companies and agencies in the US to buy from
developing world farmers so "we can help break the cycle of poverty".

America, he said, is a force for hope and was currently doubling its efforts
in working with 15 African nations to deal with Malaria and the growing
pandemic of HIV/Aids.

On Zimbabwe, he did not specify any other measures as expected by many
except mentioning in passing the US's support for the freedoms of ordinary
Zimbabweans.

Ruling Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira today dismissed Bush’s speech
as lacking ‘substance and depth.’

"I am not sure how many times we have to say America or Great Britain have
no role in the Zimbabwean politics,” said Shamuyarira.

“Zimbabweans know what is right or wrong and what is freedom or lack of it.
Who are they to declare themselves masters of this world? By going to war we
knew what is freedom and that is what we have. There was no substance and
depth in his speech if he said we have no freedom here.”

Relations between Harare and Washington have remained low for almost a
decade now after President Robert Mugabe’s government embarked on a violent
land reform programme. That has affected production resulting in acute
shortages of basic goods.

Washington is not happy about Harare’s human rights record, tainted by
physical attacks on members often opposition and civic groups.

Nelson Chamisa, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
spokesperson commenting on Bush’s speech said: “The record is for everyone
to see that the word freedom is only in theory in this country. Newspapers
have been closed by draconian laws, air-waves remain a monopoly of the
regime and members if the opposition still alive live in fear.”

Civil rights activist Lovemore Madhuku, who has on many ocassions been
assaulted and arrested by the police for demonstrating for a new
constitution, said Zimbabwe was not a democracy.

”I am not surprised at all by the classification of Zimbabwe with military
junta like Burma, only that Mugabe claims to have been elected but what his
government does is exactly what a dictator does,” said Madhuku.

Meanwhile a US spokesperson, asked what his government's reaction to
President Mugabe setting an election date of March 29 and the opposition
calling it a blow to mediation efforts was, said:

"We have supported the SADC-sponsored effort to resolve the political and
economic crisis in Zimbabwe through negotiation between the ruling and
opposition parties."

"We regret that President Mugabe has insisted on proceeding with the
presidential and parliamentary elections on March 29 without having reached
an agreement on conditions that would have leveled the playing field for all
parties planning to compete in those elections."

He continued: "Police efforts on January 23 to prevent the march and rally
by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is further illustration of
the Government of Zimbabwe undermining the spirit of the SADC process."


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Legal Revolution Destroying Zim Agriculture

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 29 January 2008 13:21

I believe that we were on the eve of another dramatic move in the legal
revolution that continues to destroy commercial agriculture and Zimbabwe.

In September 2005 the ZANU PFparliamentarians put in place amendment no. 17
which acquired all white owned land for the state and gave no right to
challenge this in any court. No ZANU PF parliamentarians voted against this
act.
At the end of 2006 our ZANU PF parliamentarians put in place the
consequential provisions act which said that all those farmers still in
their homes and farming without permission from the Minister of State
security would be committing a crime and would face jail. No ZANU PF
parliamentarians voted against this act either. And neither have any of them
got the the neccesary "permission" for white farmers to continue.
In October 2007 the Zimbabwe Republican Police initiated prosecutions under
this consequential provisions act; and to date approximately 150 farmers are
in the process of being prosecuted for still being on their farms. Any
farmer without an offer letter, lease or permit is on the wrong side of the
law. The 150 farmers currently being prosecuted will, we can be sure, be
expanded.
In January 2008 our Supreme Court upheld the law that the ZANU PF
parliamentarians put in place expressly saying that the bill of rights and
right to protection of the law no longer exists in Zimbabwe for farmers or
anyone else that the parliamentarians care to amke unjust laws against.
Sometime between now and 29 March 2008 I believe white farmers are going to
be thrown into jail again for continuing to commit the crime of being in
their homes and farming [in a country where the world food programme is
feeding nearly 4 million people].
Are our agricultural leaders going to make the same mistake as they did in
2002 and take no legal staps to ensure their members are protected from the
efects of being on the wrong side of the law: jail and dispossession?
In 2002, Colin Cloete and his CFU council made a concious decision not to
protect their members. They were apparently assured, like Piet Retief, that
they would not be harmed.
As a direct result of that unfortunate decision the vast majority of farmers
were dispossessed of everything that they had ever worked for. Many were
incarcerated. Their workers lost their jobs and their homes and the country
went hungry. The economy collapsed. Roads, schools, hospitals, electricity
supplies, water delivery systems etc. collapsed and continue to collapse
today.
The effect of destroying title has been felt by all. The engine of the bus
called Zimbabwe has been stripped, sold off or vandalised by the driver; and
the people of Zimbabwe have had to get out and walk. Without property
rights, the engine that drove the economy can not function. Roads, schools,
hospitals, electricity supplies, water supplies, food security and the rest
will continue to deteriorate. A quarter of the population have so far
walked out of Zimbabwe as a result.
Is the legacy of Dingaan going to continue to haunt us in 2008? Or are our
farming leaders going to have the courage and the forsight to keep the few
remaining white farmers on the right side of the law and fight in the courts
for a return of property rights and the rebuilding of the ruins?



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Government Fails to Pay Wheat Farmers

The Zimbabwean

Tuesday, 29 January 2008 13:12

MASVINGO—Wheat farmers here have blasted the government for reneging on its
promise of paying half the price of their produce that they remit to the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) in foreign currency, an issue that left governor
Willard Chiwewe and war veteran leader Black Jesus (real name Francis
Zimuto) closing ranks last week.
Former fighters of the liberation struggle, popularly known as war vets, who
occupy most of the A2 farms they grabbed from white commercial farmers
during the chaotic land grab of 2000, form the majority of wheat farmers
here.
They openly clashed with Governor Willard Chiwewe over the government’s
alleged failure to pay their wheat produce in foreign currency.
The incident, openly exposing widening rifts in the factions-ridden Zanu PF
provincial executive, happened at a business forum-hosted by CFX Bank
Ltd-held at Flamboyant hotel last Friday night, where Black Jesus took the
governor head on.
“You reneged on your promise that you were to pay for our wheat in forex,
but up to now, no single farmer has been paid for the wheat, even in the
local currency. I do not know how you want us to continue producing when we
do not have money for buying spares for our tractors,” fumed Black Jesus,
who is notorious for being a catalyst in the land grab of 2000 after
marching to Harare with a petition to the Queen, through the British Embassy
Chiwewe, who has clashed with the war vets more often than not when fighting
for farms, hit back harshly, saying the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had
promised to pay in forex only for the 2007-8 farming season, and not the
previous one.
“When the RBZ made the promise, it was referring to this 2007-08 farming
season, and not the previous one, so how do you think you will have been
paid by now,” said Chiwewe.
But after Black Jesus kept on insisting, Chiwewe silenced him by saying that
he should come to his office and discuss the matter privately.
“The wheat does not get paid in foreign currency, unless you mean the wheat
for this year. Come and see me at my office and we will discuss that,” the
Governor said.
Problems for wheat farmers seem not to be coming to an end following a
previous turbulent farming season that saw some of them making great losses
when they harvested their wheat late due to few combine harvesters and fuel
problems. Some of the farmers harvested their wheat manually or using
motorcycles.


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Free from Mugabe’s Grip, Zanu PF Split Is the Only Chance for a Better Zimbabwe

www.thewip.net

January 29, 2008

by Constance Manika
- Zimbabwe -

In my last article I wrote that the situation here is so dire that many
Zimbabweans, including myself, can now only pray for divine intervention to
rid us of this dictator, Robert Mugabe.
Based on events that are currently unfolding, I think God may be answering
our prayers in a way that we couldn’t have ever imagined!

I reported previously that by using former war veterans to help him garner
support, Mugabe was "endorsed" as the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front’s (ZANU PF) candidate for the harmonized March
elections.

Mugabe joined the presidential and parliamentary elections through a
constitutional amendment. In previous years these two elections were held
two years apart. When I vote in March I will drop two ballot papers: one for
president and one for a legislator or member of parliament.

The “harmonization” is part of Mugabe’s exit plan; after these elections are
held simultaneously, he can elect his trusted party members into ministerial
posts and then retire. By doing so, Mugabe will have ensured that he will
not be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

That is of course, assuming he wins the election. But then we all know he
will win, because he rigs such things all the time. Otherwise how would you
explain why someone who is sleeping on an empty stomach or has been beaten
by police or the army during a demonstration or had their home burned to the
ground by Mugabe’s youth, voting for him? It just doesn’t make any sense and
I don't think Zimbabweans are that foolish.

Our votes have been stolen over the years because Mugabe has manipulated all
the state entities that are supposed to ensure free and fair elections.
Mugabe is the only presidential candidate of his party. He was elected
unopposed at their congress in December because people within the party were
afraid to pit anybody else against him.

Though there were divisions within the party over his decision to not
retire, the opposition chickened out at the last minute. After seeing the
masses of war veterans and ZANU PF supporters who turned out at the staged
Million Men and Women March in support Mugabe's candidacy, they were not
sure they wanted to revolt. In a way, he stole the vote because he
intimidated people into supporting him; the veterans who marched supposedly
in support of Mugabe were bought, since he paid them money, transported them
and gave them a huge feast afterwards.

We all thought it was over and that we would be stuck with this despotic
leader until, well, without sounding callous - his death. But news that the
ZANU PF old guard is planning to break away from Mugabe has given many of us
here hope.

This story was first broken by an editor of the business weekly known as the
Financial Gazette, which is believed to have links to Mugabe's Central
Intelligence Department.

When I first read the article, I dismissed it as a piece of propaganda,
thinking that ZANU PF was just trying to make the opposition relax. However
as more and more papers and international agencies continue to pick up the
story, I cannot help but think that just maybe this is the only hope
Zimbabweans have of removing Mugabe.

According to these speculative reports, some ZANU PF stalwarts are plotting
a break away to field a candidate from within the party to challenge Mugabe.

They are still debating on the name they will use but the latest suggestion
has been that they will call themselves PF ZANU. It is also suggested that
the united front will include some senior ZANU PF officials and former
cabinet ministers who are unhappy with Mugabe’s policies.

As you must already know, since the late 1990s, under Mugabe’s leadership
our once vibrant and promising economy has been on a meltdown. We are
struggling with shortages of foreign currency, basic commodities, fuel and
water. Industry has been affected by constant power blackouts. The state of
the health, education and farming sectors is in shambles. It is a tragic
story about Zimbabwe and how Mugabe has ruined every aspect of our lives.

And I tell you the situation is worsening with each passing day. I have
actually lost parts of this article three times since I started working on
it four days ago because of the unscheduled power cuts.

Local reports say the break away party will be headed by former finance
minister, Simba Makoni, who is said to be "accepted" by the international
community. I don't really know because many of us here are desperate and
perhaps gullible in our effort to remove Mugabe, but they say Makoni has a
"clean record" and is of "sober habits".

All these attributes to Makoni's character are good qualities in a leader
and supporters of this split say they have confidence that Makoni will
return Zimbabwe to prosperity.

Other than Makoni's backing from the international community, he is also
supported by retired army general, Solomon Mujuru, husband to the country's
second vice president, Joice, or Teurairopa (meaning “sheds blood”) as she
was known during the war. (During the struggle for independence, people gave
each other war names to inspire them to fight colonialism; it is said that
Joice was a very brave fighter who undertook really dangerous assignments to
defeat the British.) She is also a senior member of the ZANU PF party.

Solomon Mujuru was the first commander of the Zimbabwean army after the
country attained independence from British rule in 1980 and still commands a
lot of respect within the army. He is also being assisted by academic Ibbo
Mandaza, war veteran Alfred Mhanda and retired army major Kudzai Mbudzi in
mobilizing support for the split. All three are angry with Mugabe and ZANU
PF for one reason or the other. One could say they are the best people to
lead this revolt.

Mbudzi was suspended from the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial executive
committee last month for deriding war veteran leader Jabulani Sibanda.
Mbudzi was irked by Sibanda's involvement in the solidarity marches to
support Mugabe as the 2008 presidential candidate and openly attacked him,
saying he was an "over-zealous, butt licking criminal". This drew Mugabe’s
wrath and triggered the subsequent party suspension.

Mhanda is a veteran who fought very closely alongside Mugabe during the war
and is angry over the treatment that ex-combatants received from Mugabe
after the war. Mhanda has spoken often and openly about his anger. He feels
that Mugabe forgot about those who fought in the struggle and left them to
languish in poverty without any assistance from the state to reintegrate
into society.

Many veterans who left for war abandoned their education to fight, driven by
the desire to free their country. After returning from battle a few managed
to be absorbed into the army and the police force. A few made it into
politics, but many found they had no educational qualifications to find
other jobs and without state assistance, they found life very difficult.
Bitter and betrayed, they returned to their rural areas, resigned to lives
of poverty and destitution.

It was in 1997 (17 years after returning from war) that those who were still
alive finally got war reparations for injuries and emotional trauma. This is
Mhanda's bone of contention.

Then Mandaza lost two of his papers, The Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mirror
to Mugabe's Central Intelligence Operatives (CIOs). Using a frontman, the
CIO had secretly acquired some financial stakes in the newspapers.

Mandaza fell out with the government after his papers published some damning
articles about Mugabe’s Operation Murambatsvina. Mandaza allegedly assisted
a special UN envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, who had been sent to the country to
assess the situation and to write the report that ultimately implicated the
government.

One editorial published in the Sunday Mirror read,

"The opposition MDC has argued that the government's main reason for
Murambatsvina is to punish the urban poor for voting for the opposition
during the March parliamentary elections. The cities are traditionally MDC
strongholds...There has been speculation that the government is aiming to
create a situation where the MDC has no choice but to merge with the ruling
party.
"Commentators also argue that by forcing urban voters out into the rural
areas by destroying their homes, the cities will be de-populated of MDC
supporters thus enabling the government to re-populate the urban areas with
Zanu-PF supporters. Further, MDC supporters will be forced to return to live
in areas traditionally viewed as Zanu-PF strongholds."

The board then came after Mandaza with trumped up charges of financial
mismanagement and axed him. The CIO then took over the papers and ran them
to collapse, leaving journalists jobless.

These are backgrounds of the men who are out to defeat Mugabe.

Although Mugabe's spokesperson has already come out and dismissed the
reports of a split as "a British sponsored coalition of the bitter," I can
tell you many people here are embracing this idea. It is the talk of the
town in bars, hair salons, commuter trains, public taxis, buses,
workplaces -- just about everywhere.

For years Makoni has been touted as a possible successor to Mugabe, but many
of his critics believe that he is a "political lightweight," not capable of
removing his combative opponent.

I hasten to tell you, this is not the first time that ZANU PF politicians
have tried to revolt against Mugabe. In 2004 some party heavyweights led by
the then information minister, Jonathan Moyo, tried to oppose Mugabe's
decision to appoint Joice Mujuru to the post of vice president.

As soon as Mugabe got wind of what has became known as the "Tsholotsho
debacle" (named for the location where the plot was created), he fired Moyo.
Six provincial chairmen (including Jabulani Sibanda) who had taken part also
lost their jobs and were seriously victimized afterwards.

Unlike Sibanda, who managed to force himself back into the party, the other
five have not been re-admitted. They have lost all the privileges they once
enjoyed including access to state tenders and loans with ridiculously low
interest rates from various state entities. Their party vehicles were taken
away. Their access to free fuel and grain were also taken away. Imagine
waking up one day and realizing that you have no car and have to walk like
everybody else. You wake up and you have no bodyguard to salute you nor
aides to wipe your shoes clean.

The night that Moyo was fired, the CIO came and repossessed his ministerial
Mercedes Benz and ordered him out of the state house. Moyo later managed to
seek reprieve regarding his accommodations in court.

This is what Mugabe is capable of.

Mugabe has a long history of being ruthless and I urge all those who are
plotting and planning to be very careful. He has never allowed anything or
anyone to stand in the way of his political ambitions.

We must not forget the assassinations of Josiah Tongogara, Herbert Chitepo,
two Zanla commanders who died during the war, leaving Mugabe to take over
the party presidency. And numerous other mysterious deaths have also
occurred post-independence, of politicians within his own party who appeared
as possible threats to Mugabe.

Remember the robust leaders, Border Gezi and Moven Mahachi (once a security
minister), who died in car accidents while their aides mysteriously
survived? Remember retired Air Marshall Josiah Tungamirai, who was poisoned?
Tungamirai, as his wife later revealed, sent his aide to buy him a packet of
chips and after eating them his health was never the same. He died a few
months later from kidney failure and told his wife before dying that he
suspected he had been poisoned.

Those determined to break away must remember all this and be very wary of
Mugabe's ruthless nature.

Will this be the long-awaited way out for us? Perhaps… I will keep you
posted.

About the Author
Constance Manika is a journalist who works for the independent press in
Zimbabwe. She writes under this pseudonym to escape prosecution from a
government whose onslaught and level of intolerance to journalists in the
independent press is well documented.

In Meltdown in Zimbabwe, an exclusive and ongoing series at The WIP,
Constance provides continued on-the-ground reporting from her embattled
country where Zimbabweans struggle daily for democracy, economic
sustainability and human rights.


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Pathetic deteriorating situation in Zim a matter of concern

zimbabwejournalists.com

29th Jan 2008 02:17 GMT

By Grace Chiradza

ZIMBABWE a country that used to be a bread basket of southern Africa has now
been turned into a basket case. About 75% of the total population are
affected by famine, not only of rough but also mismanagement of the economy
leading to shortages of basic communities.

This has lead people to flock into neighbouring countries in search of basic
goods, especially food. The shortages extend to foods like salt, sugar,
bread, cooking oil and maize meal.

People no longer celebrate festivals like Christmas as they used to do years
ago. They can not afford to buy food, most of which can only be available on
black market.

About 80% of Zimbabwe's economically active population is unemployed and
about 75% of the population lives below the poverty datum line.

Looking at how the civil servant is suffering like all the other ordinary
Zimbabweans, one would not dream of sending a child to boarding school as
things continue to get worse and worse.

The government is failing to announce the new fees for 2008 but many schools
which are suffering because of too much control by the government, continue
to see their pupils living like paupers, eating less and less everyday due
to massive shortages and lack of money.

The minister of education, Aneas Chigwedere, continues to bungle all the
time as the country's education sector goes to the dogs. Standards are
falling everyday, teachers and lecturers are leaving for greener pastures
and yet the government of Zimbabwe manages to pay money so the soccer loving
but suffering nation can watch live soccer from Ghana even though other
southern African countries that qualified have opted not to do that.

This shows gross incompetence. Things need to change.

Those in employment cannot survive from what they are earning - the work
ethic in Zimbabwe has all but changed. People have to do a lot of things at
the same time to survive. Gone is the hard working trustworthy Zimbabwean,
his innocence has been taken away by Robert Mugabe hence greediness,
corruption and related issues have become the order of the day. This madness
is killing our country and something has to be done to address the
situation.

This has also led to the migration of skilled workers to the Diaspora in
search of greener pastures.

Zimbabwe’s health care system has taken a big knock. There is a desperate
shortage of medical doctors and nurses, a critical shortage of basic drugs
and medical equipment. The strike by health professionals recently has lead
to deaths and suffering of many ordinary poor people.

The Mugabe government, which is known for using violence against people who
disagree with the way it runs the county, is watching and enjoying seeing
people suffering.
g.chiradza@yahoo.co.uk


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Nicholas Van Hoogstraten: The dodgy dealer

The Times
January 29, 2008

Jane Wheatley

The millionaire businessman, enforcer and close chum of Robert Mugabe is no
stranger to the courts and never repentant, although he is a stickler for
accuracy on the subject of his sins. “I am not immoral,” he once told an
interviewer. “I am amoral; that’s different.”

He has been jailed on several occasions – for arranging for the lobbing of a
hand grenade into the home of a debtor, receiving stolen goods, bribing
prison officers and, most notably, for the manslaughter of a business rival
who was shot by two men allegedly hired by him. The conviction was quashed
by the court of appeal – although he was later ordered to pay 6 million in
compensation to the dead man’s family, who had brought a civil case against
him. According to Van Hoogstraten, the judge was “an arsehole” for branding
him a murderer because if he had ordered the killing he would have made a
proper job of it: “I wouldn’t think twice about having people killed if they
threatened me,” he told The Sunday Times, “but it would be done by
professionals.”

The young Nicholas Hoogstraten (he added the Van later) embarked on his
business career at the age of 9, dealing in stamps at school; his mother
charged him interest on money she loaned him. By 18 he had bought his first
hotel and went on to conduct a Rachman-style operation in London, buying up
houses, ousting the sitting tenants whom he described as “scum” and selling
on at a profit. He was a millionaire at 22 and, despite some bothersome
brushes with the law, his moneymaking career has rarely faltered. By the
1980s he was in The Guinness Book of Recordsfor owing 5 million in income
tax. He has always maintained that a tough reputation is essential if you
want to become rich, because people will always try to “crook” you.

He famously built Hamilton Palace, a 40 million classical copper-domed
mansion in Sussex, filling it with his art collection and making great
efforts to maintain privacy from determined ramblers whom he described as
“perverts”. The mansion also contains a mausoleum for his future use. It has
been rumoured that the property was destined for Robert Mugabe should he
ever need a refuge – Van Hoogstraten invested heavily in Zimbabwe in the
1990s and describes the dictator as a decent and modest man. The three
mothers of his five children are all black: “Once you’ve had black, you
never go back,” he told an interviewer.

Schooled by Jesuits, Van Hoogstraten has said he “probably” believes in an
afterlife and has planted many thousands of trees in anticipation of a
rebuff at the pearly gates: “That will swing it, won’t it?”

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