By Violet Gonda
29 January 2013
The director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), Okay
Machisa, was finally granted US$500 bail on Tuesday by High Court judge
justice Felistus Chatukuta, on condition he puts up an immovable asset worth
no less than US$50,000 and surrenders his passport.
The human rights campaigner had been denied bail four times since his arrest
on 14 January on charges of forgery, conspiracy to commit fraud, and
publishing statements that are prejudicial to the State.
Irene Petras from Zimbabwe’s Lawyers for Human Rights said the bail
conditions seemed harsh and difficult for a rights advocate to raise, but it
is a positive development that the bail was finally allowed at last.
Petras told SW Radio Africa that Machisa is also expected to appear for a
remand hearing in the magistrates’ court on Wednesday, “so we may have an
indication then on how far the state is preparing its case and when a trial
is likely to begin.”
Machisa’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, has dismissed the charges, arguing there
was no evidence linking her client to the commission of an offence.
ZimRights deputy, Leo Chamahwinya, another member of Zimrights Dorcas
Shereni, plus two others – who are not linked to the rights group – are
still in police custody facing the same charges.
ZimRights has also been charged as an organization, in a case the police say
is to do with an illegal voter registration exercise. The organization
denies participating in any illegal activity.
ZimRights members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say the organization
has been involved in voter mobilization across the country, which is not
By Tichaona Sibanda
29 January 2013
The country’s civil society groups have denied reports that they were
snubbed by African Union leaders who met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over the
weekend for their annual summit.
The state controlled media has been reporting that the AU ignored calls for
the inclusion of Zimbabwe on the summit agenda.
But Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition programs manager, Nixon Nyikadzino, told SW
Radio Africa they never tried to force any discussion on Zimbabwe but wanted
to simply submit a statement to the Heads of State.
‘The reports you are reading from the state media are far from the truth. We
never sought to have any meetings with the leaders or force them to include
Zimbabwe on their agenda. Our message to the AU leaders, via the statement
that we submitted through the normal channels, was for them not to forget
that Zimbabwe is still a burning issue.
‘We are aware that there are more urgent matters in Mali and the DRC but
they shouldn’t forget that there are two countries, Kenya and Zimbabwe, who
have coalition governments created with the blessing of the AU and whose
terms of office are coming to end soon,’ said Nyikadzino, who was in Addis
Ababa for the summit.
He emphasized that their main focus in the Ethiopian capital was to ensure
they built momentum on the Zimbabwe crisis as the shaky coalition government
was coming to an end.
‘As a guarantor to the GPA we urged the AU to have a multi-faceted approach
to the resolution of crises which continue to rock our continent.
‘We feel that the AU, being the mother body politic in Africa, should
continuously be seized with the Madagascar, DRC, Sudan and Zimbabwe question
while at the same time extending its hand to the emerging and ravaging civil
wars in Mali,’ explained Nyikadzino.
He said part of their statement to the AU called on the leaders to remind
the inclusive government to take corrective measures in ensuring that the
forthcoming elections will be decisive, free and fair.
‘We reiterated in our statement that reforms should be implemented before
the holding of an election in Zimbabwe so that people can decide on the
draft constitution presented by COPAC in a referendum.
‘We said there should be an immediate disbandment of all violence related
militia groups such as the Chipangano (Mbare) and Al Shabab (KweKwe) and an
immediate cessation of raids and harassment of civil society organisations
and other pro- democracy movements,’ he said.
By Alex Bell
29 January 2013
There is growing concern that the chaos that highlighted ZANU PF’s land grab
campaign is actively being swept under the carpet, to the detriment of the
country’s agricultural future.
The most recent attempt to normalise the situation has been the publication
of a new book that paints the land grab as a resounding success, insisting
that farm production in Zimbabwe is returning to ‘normal’. Zimbabwe Takes
Back Its Land has been written by three scholars and is based on an
assessment of three farms in Mashonaland Central during one month last year.
The book pays little attention to the inhumanity of the land grabs, ignoring
the human rights abuses that took place and the illegality of the process.
Instead the authors spoke to the ‘fast-track’ owners of the seized farms
they visited and looked at their ‘successes’. The book details how black
Zimbabweans have successfully “taken back their land,” and farms are
returning to the positive production levels seen in the 1990s.
These details are being criticised as ‘misleading’ and an attempt to
‘sanitize’ what happened during the land seizures that began in 2000.
Figures from the remaining commercial farming community differ strongly to
what the book is suggesting. The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) and MDC-T
policy advisor Eddie Cross, both agree that the agricultural sector remains
in serious trouble, with the country almost entirely reliant on imported
food or aid to survive.
Figures supplied show that the only meaningful production is in the cotton
and tobacco sectors, which are still nowhere near the levels they should be.
In terms of food, 95% of the country’s wheat is imported, along with 60% of
maize and 70% of milk and dairy products. The most recent statistics
provided by the United Nations on Zimbabwe’s food aid needs, state that more
than 1.6 million people are facing hunger. But it is thought this could be
CFU President Charles Taffs told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that the land
grab exercise was a disaster and one that was steeped in “political greed.”
He explained it had little to do with real empowerment, especially when an
estimated two million farm workers and their families lost everything as a
result of the seizures. He explained how at least 350,000 Zimbabweans used
to be employed on farms up until 2000, but now there are only about 60,000
“We can’t hide behind fictitious facts like the ones in this book. The
bottom line is agriculture is in a mess,” Taffs said.
He added: “We are seeing a massive social downfall in Zimbabwe. Poverty is
at record levels, life expectancy has dropped to very young ages, the health
sector is on its knees, and the education sector is struggling. We need to
create a meaningful production base in Zimbabwe to turn this around and
encourage investment, but to get there we need property rights.”
Taffs travelled to London this week to share his views on the real situation
regarding Zimbabwe’s land, to counter what is being promoted in the book.
The books authors are also in London attending discussions on Zimbabwe’s
land situation, and one of the events will be the site of a demonstration
organised to protest the book’s contents.
The London based Zimbabwe Vigil will be protesting outside Chatham House in
the city on Thursday, where the book’s authors will gather for a discussion.
In an open letter to Chatham House, the Vigil said: “We believe the illegal
and violent seizure of commercial farms is an abuse of human rights. British
courts have found this to be the case.”
“If, as claimed in the book, agricultural production is returning to former
levels, the Vigil warmly welcomes it. But this assertion does not square
with the statement by the UN that 1.6 million Zimbabweans are facing
starvation – some 12% of the population – and for yet another year Zimbabwe
needs international food aid.”
The letter adds: “Whether or not the agricultural situation is improving,
and it could hardly fail to, the land seizures were illegal under
international law and the SADC treaty. This has fatally undermined
agriculture sector finance, especially since Zimbabwe has yet to meet its
legal obligations to pay compensation.”
BY AGENCY STAFF, JANUARY 29 2013, 20:55
AFTER paying public workers’ salaries last week, the balance in
cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s government public account stood at just $217,
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Tuesday.
"Last week, when we paid civil servants there was $217 (left) in government
coffers," Mr Biti told journalists in the capital Harare, claiming some of
them had healthier bank balances than the state.
"The government finances are in a paralysis state at the present moment. We
are failing to meet our targets."
Zimbabwe’s economy went into free fall at the turn of the millennium, after
President Robert Mugabe began seizing white-owned farms. The move demolished
investor confidence in the country, paralysed production, prompted
international sanctions and scared off tourists.
After more than a decade — during which the country suffered from
hyperinflation of 231,000,000% and infrastructure that crumbled as quickly
as prices went up — the situation is now more stable. But public finances
remain a mess, and local business battles against unstable electricity
supplies, lack of liquidity and high labour costs.
Zimbabwe’s government has warned it does not have enough money to fund a
constitutional referendum and elections expected this year. Mr Biti said
that left no choice but to ask the donors for cash.
"We will be approaching the international community," he said.
The country’s elections agency said it requires $104m to organise the vote.
The government’s national budget for this year stands at $3.8bn and the
economy is projected to grow 5%.
The mineral-rich country is now using the US dollar and the South African
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 11:19
BULAWAYO - Combative Bulawayo youths heckled Indigenisation minister Saviour
Kasukuwere on accusations of making empty promises that his ministry would
finance their projects.
There was pandemonium particularly from the Zanu PF youths who demanded
precise answers from the minister they call “Big Brother”, forcing him to
enlist support from a local youth leader to calm frayed tempers.
Disconcerted youths expressed disappointment over the allocation of the
youth fund by local financial institutions tasked with handling the fund.
Speaking during a youth dialogue organised by Kasukuwere’s ministry, a
representative of Youths in Tourism Bulawayo chapter said youth empowerment
was an illusion.
“Most youths have not realised the benefits of empowerment. To them it is
just a mirage and a flickering illusion which does not exist,” the irate
youth representative said.
Innocent Dube of the Zimbabwe Christian Youth Forum expressed concern at the
growing number of business proposals being turned down by banks.
Kasukuwere tried to redeem himself by shifting blame on the banks.
Accusing the banks of not forthcoming for “reasons best known to themselves”,
Kasukuwere admitted the failure of youth empowerment programme.
“When I talk about the reformation of the banking sector, they say that I am
crazy. Institutions must change because our young people must enjoy benefits
from their own country like anyone else in the world,” Kasukuwere said.
“They do not want us to prosper. But time will tell. They will comply. We
are going to ensure that this behaviour stops,” a disoriented Kasukuwere
“I know that it has not been easy, the young people are disappointed.”
In 2010 Kasukuwere promised youths in Matabeleland $3 million for projects
which is yet to see the light of day. - Nyasha Chingono
on January 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm
By Lance Guma
HARARE – As the battle for votes in the 2013 elections intensifies, Finance
Minister Tendai Biti has described the empowerment model being pursued by
their rivals in Zanu PF as the “predatory accumulation from the rich to the
Youth and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara and Finance Minister Tendai Biti
The MDC-T Secretary General said the indigenisation policies being pushed by
Mugabe’s party were “not empowerment; but an ‘an elite predatory transfer.’
Biti said there was a need to expand the national cake so that all
Zimbabweans can benefit from it and not just a few in Zanu PF.
“The starting point is to recognize fundamentally that Zimbabwe is a very
small economy, less than 3% of the entire SADC economy with a mere budget of
US$3.8 billion and Southern Africa’s 3rd smallest economy after Lesotho and
Swaziland, nominal GDP about US$11 billion so the cake is very small.
“The challenge is how do we expand the cake. The point of departure between
MDC and Zanu PF is that Zanu PF starts from the starting point that let’s
distribute this tiny economy which is a rat, lets distribute this tiny rat
to over 14 million people,” he said explaining the MDC counter policy called
“The MDC’s position is that fundamentally, let’s expand this economy. Let’s
have supply side reform that expands the cake so that it becomes an
elephant. And in that way, we can have more economic players than when you
have a tiny population participating,” he said.
Biti argued that the Indigenisation Programme was not nationalisation as
“nobody is getting shares for free. You have to buy them.”
He said in a situation “where the per capita income of the average
Zimbabwean is US$370.00, and in a situation where 85% of the people are
living below the poverty datum line it means only a very few people, a tiny
elite can afford to buy shares in Barclays bank, Zimplats,” he added.
Zanu PF MP and Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere hit back this week
by suggesting that MDC-T policies were borrowed from Abel Muzorewa, the
short-lived Prime Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
“It is clearly accepted by the whole world that Zanu PF is going to win the
elections because it has empowered Zimbabweans. The MDC-T is regurgitating
what Muzorewa used to say that ‘leave the whites alone, we just want jobs’
because that is the same mantra that the MDC-T is repeating.
“They are talking about employment creation only, but we in Zanu PF are
talking about decent jobs and empowerment of the people. Who says if I am a
farm owner I am not employed? We want to support our own young people to
create jobs,” Kasukuwere said. Nehanda Radio
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti has claimed that community share ownership
schemes foreign companies are being compelled to implement may be illegal
adding some of the firms were using them to “bribe” their way out of
The community share schemes form a key part of the indigenisation programme
being pushed by Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere but bitterly opposed
by Zanu PF’s coalition partners.
Most major mining companies, among them Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa, have
pledged to donate up to US$20 million to the schemes as part of plans to
comply with the country’s indigenisation laws which force them to transfer
majority control of their Zimbabwe operations to locals.
But Biti, a senior official in the MDC-T, which opposes the programme
arguing it only benefits already wealthy elites, said the schemes rest on
dodgy legal grounds.
“On what legal basis are companies being made to part with US$10 million
dollars or US$15 million?” Biti said, according to a statement released
Monday by his MDC-T party.
“There is nowhere in the Indigenisation act that compels companies to donate
money to a community share scheme or to any farm or to anything so what you
are actually seeing is coercion; companies being forced to part up with
US$10 or US$15 million.”
Kasukuwere says the schemes are aimed at forcing companies to invest in the
development of communities where they operate but Biti said the arrangements
were an after-thought aimed at sanitising a “predatory and elitist”
“In the indigenisation and empowerment act, you will not find the word
community share trust, you will not. Then you come to the regulations,
statutory instrument number 30 of March 2010 that was passed or enacted by
Saviour Kasukuwere, again you will not find the name community share trust,”
“So the issue of community share schemes is actually an afterthought which
is not backed by the empowering act, the indigenisation and empowerment act.
Such that community share schemes don’t actually have legal existence
vis-a-vis the Indigenisation and empowerment act.”
Zanu PF is basing its campaign for crucial elections expected this year on
the “success” of the programme with major mining companies complying with
law despite initial fears many would quit the country rather than give away
majority shareholding in their local operations on the cheap.
But critics say the “success” claimed by Zanu PF is largely driven by fear.
"Most of these companies have massive investments in Zimbabwe [and] they
would rather protect them than be confrontational," Charles Mangongera, a
political analyst said recently.
"They saw how the white farmers were violently suppressed and they wouldn't
risk having their investments decimated by challenging Zanu PF."
Biti also claimed that most foreign firms were using the community share
schemes to “bribe” their way out of complying with the requirement.
He said: “To the extent that there is no company in Zimbabwe that I know of
which has actually parted with 51% of its shareholding whether its Zimplats
or not, you are having the anomalous situation where companies are bribing
themselves out of compliance with the act by paying a mere US$ 10 million,
US$5 million, whatever is the amount of the community share scheme.
“Another problem with this empowerment programme is certainly in the way it
is being implemented; it is very opaque. Nobody knows the circumstances that
those companies are parting with those monies.”
The MDC-T has warned it would review the programme if it comes into power
after the next elections adding the approach taken by Zanu PF does not
address the country’s job crisis and would keep investors out of the
The forthcoming elections are likely to be mired in violence as Mugabe and
Zanu-PF have blocked any democratic reforms
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 29 January 2013 09.30 GMT
For millions of Zimbabweans, the new year is less a symbol of hope than of
dread. Elections are supposed to take place in 2013, and judging from past
experience, they augur nothing more than violence, torture and death,
accompanied by economic meltdown and political chaos.
As Human Rights Watch notes in its new report, Race Against Time: The need
for legal and institutional reforms ahead of Zimbabwe's elections, the
former ruling party, the Zanu-PF, has so far blocked important reforms that
could pave the way for peaceful, free and fair elections. The UK government
and the EU should, when they meet next month to review targeted sanctions
against the president, Robert Mugabe, and his inner circle, press for proper
reforms ahead of internationally monitored elections before talking about a
shift in policy toward Zimbabwe.
During a visit to Zimbabwe in November, I got a vivid sense of impending
doom. People told me of their feelings of deja vu: another cycle of
electoral violence was approaching, but little had changed on the ground.
Instead of focusing on pulling themselves out of poverty and on rebuilding
lives shattered by the 2008 wave of political repression, they were bracing
themselves for further chaos.
This is not paranoia. The 2008 general elections were riddled with extreme
violence by the security forces and supporters of Zanu-PF. Security forces
and supporters killed over 200 people and beat, tortured and displaced
thousands more. I spoke to scores of battered victims who told of how the
police failed to protect them or ensure justice. It was a period of terror,
when the state machinery was unleashed on ordinary Zimbabweans and little
has changed since then, despite the formation of a unity government between
Zanu-PF, led by Mugabe, and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by
Mugabe's declaration late last year that Zimbabwe would hold elections this
year with or without a new constitution dashed hopes of a peaceful election
and the promise that a new constitution would level the political playing
field. Some Zimbabweans told me that to avoid being targeted by Mugabe's
thugs and henchmen, as in 2008, they falsely professed allegiance to Zanu-PF
by attending rallies and party activities and making donations to the party.
Others moved around with Zanu-PF membership cards or other party regalia
that included, for motorists, displaying scarves with Mugabe's face or
Zanu-PF supporters have already developed a jingle frequently played on
state television and radio that loosely translates to: "In the [president's]
office, Bob [Mugabe] still reigns supreme." Memories of the beatings,
killings, rapes and other abuses that took place in 2008 remain fresh in the
minds of thousands of victims and their relatives across the country. They
know that those who carried out the violence have not been brought to book,
and that there is nothing to stop them from committing similar acts this
Oppressive laws that were in force in 2008, such as the Public Order and
Security Act, and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
often abused by Zanu-PF-aligned sections of the police to punish opponents,
remain on the statute books. Zimbabwe's highly partisan police force
continues to harass and arbitrarily arrest civil society activists and
members of the MDC under these laws. Those who dare to criticise Mugabe or
peacefully protest against economic and political conditions in the streets
can be arrested, beaten or tortured.
The leadership of the police, army and the state broadcaster continue to
brazenly support Zanu-PF, while sidelining the MDC. And the MDC, lacking
control of the state bureaucracy, has been powerless to enact democratic
reforms. The economy has somewhat improved under the power-sharing
government, although these gains are still beyond the reach of many
Zimbabweans living below the poverty line. The country's health and
education systems, decimated before 2009, are up and running. However, even
these improvements can unravel if Zimbabwe rushes headlong toward
For Zimbabwe's neighbours and international donors such as the UK
government, the establishment of the unity government brought with it a
veneer of normality. Some felt it was time to restore all ties with
Zimbabwe, encouraged by positive reports from the MDC side of government
that all was well in this marriage of inconvenience. However, conditions on
the ground are a sign that neighbours and donors need to exercise caution
before they re-engage fully with the government.
It is also time for South Africa's president Jacob Zuma, who has been
facilitating political negotiations in Zimbabwe on behalf of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), to insist that Zimbabwe's political
leaders put the interests of Zimbabweans first – before all else. The UK and
others should be working with Zuma toward this goal. There is little point
in holding elections that, in essence, will be without choice, and that can
only result in another round of bloodshed and destruction.
25 JAN 2013 07:56 - RAY NDLOVU
Zimbabwe has edged closer to staging elections this year after major parties
struck a deal on the outstanding issues stalling the draft constitution.
The shock announcement of the agreement has, however, sparked intense public
speculation and suspicion of the events that led to the deal.
Before the announcement, Welshman Ncube of the smaller MDC grouping was
excluded from a meeting between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, and an
infuriated MDC-T delegation walked out of a meeting with the Cabinet
committee, claiming that Zanu-PF was trying to flex its muscles.
Political observers said the haggling showed that differences were far from
being smoothed out. Different accounts also persist on the terms of the new
agreement, with Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions all claiming victory.
Officials said Mugabe was forced to agree to compromises after discussions
degenerated into talk over the upcoming election. "It was highlighted to him
that the country would miss its election timeline if the disagreements
continued and this would extend the lifespan of the unity government," said
"After that, Mugabe insisted that a solution must be found and a deal must
be reached without fail."
A parliamentary drafting committee must now incorporate the agreements into
a consolidated draft.
Among the issues agreed on are:
Party leaders will be able to pick candidates to stand with them in
elections as their deputies. Zanu-PF had initially resisted the proposal,
fearing it would provoke infighting and divisions in the party. However, the
agreement on running mates will only be adopted after 10 years.
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku criticised the clause for being
"stupid" and said Zimbabweans must reject the proposed draft in the
A two-term limit for the president has been agreed to. The clause is seen as
the MDC's attempt to stop Mugabe securing a lifelong presidency. The
president, however, retains power, exercising his executive powers through
the Cabinet and appointing the heads of state institutions. The president
can also dissolve Parliament.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said the compromises provide a safe
landing for Mugabe and his allies. "The compromises were meant to create a
zone of comfort for Mugabe. It is a clear statement that Zanu-PF officials
are negotiating terms to ensure their safety," Rusero said.
Devolution and provinces
Devolution of power has been "deferred" and will only be up for discussion
after 10 years. In a seeming appeasement of those opposing devolution -
which was favoured by most provinces in the consultative phase of the
constitution - the principals agreed that the 10 provincial governors will
be replaced by provincial chairs. The chairperson will come from the party
with the most seats in a particular province.
A new national prosecuting authority will be introduced. The attorney
general will now concentrate on advising the Cabinet. Trevor Maisiri, an
analyst from the International Crisis Group, said: "I think it creates a
reasonable framework for the country's desires for democracy. The only
challenge I foresee is the retention of executive presidential powers with
very limited accountability to the other arms of the state."
The Movement for Democtratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai on Monday wrapped up its two-day policy conference in Nyanga in
Manicaland Province, where party leaders examined policies they want to
implement should they come to power after elections later this year.
Party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said the conference looked at policies
affecting all sectors, including economic, social, education and health.
He said the policy briefs are designed by policy secretaries as mandated by
the party’s constitution.
Mr. Mwonzora said in developing its policy document, the MDC-T became
confident it will win this election.
The party's bitter rival, Zanu-PF, has already indicated that it would
conduct a countrywide election campaign this year based on the
indigenization agenda to disloge the MDC-T from its traditional strongholds.
President Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since the
southern African nation attained independence in 1980.
Mr, Mugabe is among the oldest long-serving African presidents on the
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
as the party prepares to deliver real change
The MDC is ready for the next elections that will deliver real change to the
people of Zimbabwe, MDC Secretary General, Hon. Tendai Biti has said. He
described this year’s elections as watershed comparing them with those held
in 1980 when Zimbabwe gained its independence.
However, he said the MDC will continue calling for major reforms before
elections are held in order to ensure that there is no repeat of the kind of
violence that took place in the country in 2008 when Zanu PF was defeated at
the polls by the MDC.
The MDC’s position as outlined in the Conditions for a Sustainable Election
in Zimbabwe (CoSEZ) launched by the party last year is that there should be
security of the vote, security of the voter, a guarantee for the security of
the people’s will, implementing the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in full
and all other agreed positions including the implementation of regional and
international standards on democratic elections.
“We are very clear on these four issues. We can have elections tomorrow but
if there are no reforms it will be one step forward and 20 steps backwards
and we will have a similar situation like we had in 2008,” said Hon. Biti.
He said the new Constitution expected to sail through when the referendum is
held, will speak on a number of issues that can affect the holding of free,
fair and violence free elections in Zimbabwe.
“In the past it was difficult to register to vote as people were asked to
get letters from the headmen or landlords but the new Act has liberalised
that. The new Constitution further calls for the announcement of the
election results within 48 hrs and the results will be posted outside the
polling stations while all candidates will get soft copies of the results,”
said Hon. Biti.
He said the MDC is insisting on an electronic registration system.
Turning to the staffing at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Hon.
Biti said the issue of opaque staffing at the electoral commission remained
one of the outstanding issues.
“We are not victimising the ZEC staff but the new ZEC board should be
allowed to recruit staff and grade them and retain employees they see as
gems for the organisation,” he said. The Secretary General said as a labour
backed party, the MDC is not insisting that ZEC workers be dismissed but
that there be transparency in everything taking place at ZEC.
He said the MDC was concerned by the increase of political intimidation,
violence and arrests taking place across the country. “That is why we are
saying that JOMIC (Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee) must be
empowered at province, district and ward levels. This will help in
mitigating violence,” said Hon. Biti.
He said Zimbabwe needed AU, SADC and international observers during the
referendum and the elections and that the coming elections should be held
under the 2004 SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections
and that the MDC expected non-governmental organisations and the media to do
their work without being harassed.
“The transfer of power in the next elections will be respected. We are tired
of always being on the agenda of SADC and as the MDC we are JUICED UP for
Meanwhile, Hon. Biti said as the Finance Minister he had received
instructions from the principals, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
Robert Mugabe to source funds from the international community for the
coming elections as the government could not fund the process.
Hon. Biti said elections will most probably be held in July before the
United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Conference in August,
though the dates will be announced by the principals.
The Last Mile: Towards Real Change!!!
By Nelson Banya
HARARE | Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:16pm GMT
(Reuters) - A draft constitution in Zimbabwe that paves the way for an
election this year curbs presidential powers and strengthens cabinet and
parliament, which have been weakened under veteran President Robert Mugabe's
According to a final copy of the draft charter obtained by Reuters on
Tuesday, the president will be required to exercise power in consultation
with the cabinet, with decrees requiring its majority backing.
The current constitution allows the president to issue decrees alone that
can have the force of law for up to six months.
The new document also limits the president to two, five-year terms, starting
from the next election. However this will not be applied retrospectively, so
Mugabe - who has been in power for 32 years - could technically rule for
another two terms.
Last week, the country's two most powerful parties - Mugabe's ZANU-PF and
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of rival Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai - said they supported the draft, virtually ensuring its passage
through parliament as early as next week.
If passed by parliament, it will be put up for a national referendum between
March and April, a crucial step before elections required for this year
under the power-sharing deal struck between Mugabe and Tsvangirai after
disputed 2008 polls.
Presidential powers to declare public emergencies and dissolve parliament
have been diluted in the draft by requiring two-thirds of lawmakers to back
any such measure in a vote.
Parliament can also be dissolved only for "unreasonably" failing to approve
the national budget.
Although the current constitution requires parliamentary approval in the
declaration of emergencies, it requires only a simple majority. The
president can currently dissolve parliament without parliamentary approval.
Some civil rights have also been expanded in the new document, with clauses
on freedom of the press, access to information, political choice and
activity as well as prisoners' rights.
The draft retains the ban on same-sex marriage in the conservative southern
African state. It also keeps the death penalty, but only for "murder
committed in aggravating circumstances" and makes exceptions for women and
people aged below 21 years or those above 70 years old.
The current constitution allows execution of anyone above 18 for murder.
Mugabe, 88, has ruled the country with mostly a free hand since its
independence in 1980 from Britain and has been accused of hanging on to
power through vote-rigging. He says he will contest the next election
despite questions over his advanced age and concerns over his health.
The president forced the deferment by at least 10 years of a clause in the
new charter requiring candidates to nominate running mates who would
automatically succeed them should they be unable to continue in office.
Until that clause comes into effect, the party holding the presidency can
name a successor at the time that a incumbent is unable to continue.
Some in ZANU-PF want Mugabe to hand over the reins to a younger leader, but
he has steadfastly refused to discuss succession, an issue that has stoked
factional disputes within the party.
The charter had looked in doubt last year when ZANU-PF tried to oppose curbs
on presidential powers and a strengthening of parliament.
Funding problems and constant bickering between the coalition parties have
delayed the adoption of a new constitution, initially scheduled to be
completed in 2010.
Mugabe, who had previously threatened to call a vote before a new
constitution had been agreed, has been held back by regional leaders eager
to avoid a repeat of the violent and disputed 2008 poll that was condemned
by much of the world.
The veteran ruler and his ZANU-PF face a stiff challenge from the MDC, which
says it will breathe fresh life into an economy that shrank by an estimated
40 percent from 2000 to 2010 due largely to Mugabe's seizure of white-owned
commercial farms and what critics say has been economic mismanagement.
by Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he will push for Zimbabwe to rejoin
the Commonwealth if he wins presidential elections this year.
President Robert Mugabe pulled Zimbabwe out of the international club of 54
former British colonies in 2003 to protest what he said was Britain’s
"We have the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African
Union (AU) as our mentors, not the Commonwealth,” Mugabe said at the time,
angry at a decision by a committee of the Commonwealth to extend the country’s
suspension over alleged human rights abuses and election fraud.
But Tsvangirai, speaking in Davos, Switzerland, last week, said there were
benefits in returning to the Commonwealth.
“We don’t believe any country can survive in isolation,” the MDC-T leader
said. “We have to work together with other countries and we have a number of
organisations in which we are involved, including the United Nations, the
African Union and SADC, all of which have played a critical role in
resolving our challenges in recent years.
“For a long time, we were a happy member of the Commonwealth family. We can
only hope the Commonwealth still has room for us.”
In a dramatic few hours in the Nigerian capital of Abuja in December 2003,
Commonwealth leaders had agreed a process to monitor “Zimbabwe's progress on
human rights and democratic reform” before allowing its return to the body.
But Mugabe rejected their stance and told the leaders of Jamaica, Nigeria
and South Africa when they phoned him one after another that Zimbabwe was
leaving the group.
"Anything that you agree to on Zimbabwe which is short of this position
[lifting suspension unconditionally], no matter how sweetly worded, means
Zimbabwe is still a subject of the Commonwealth. This is unacceptable. This
is it – it’s quits and quits it will be," Mugabe was reported to have told
the three leaders.
His spokesman George Charamba said the decision to suspend Zimbabwe had been
instigated by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, angry at the land reform
programme, adding: “This is pure racism we fought against to regain our
political independence and we cannot be expected to accept blatant racism to
prevent us from regaining our economic independence.”
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
The MDC totally dismisses as false recent reports in the media, alleging a
feud between two of our senior members of party.
The news paper article, which falsely claimed a fight between Hon. Tendai
Biti, the secretary general and Hon. Nelson Chamisa, the organising
secretary was clearly false and misguided. As such it was clearly written
with the evil intentions of causing mayhem, discontent, and despondency
within the MDC family as we prepare for the watershed elections earmarked
for this year.
What is more disturbing is the unsubstantiated claims bordering on hearsay
and mischievous figment of imagination reminiscent of gutter journalism.
We categorically want to set the record straight that the MDC is a united
party and there are no such factional divisions between and among the MDC
leadership as purported in the paper. This reportage is totally repugnant.
Therefore the MDC dismisses the report as inappropriate and inconsequential
and would want to assure the people of Zimbabwe that the party is much
stronger, focused and ready to complete the change come elections this year.
Only yesterday the MDC concluded its annual policy conference which meant to
sharpen its policies ahead of the crucial elections that we are destined to
The Last Mile: Towards Real Change!!!
HARARE | Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:52am EST
Jan 29 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe expects diamond production from its Marange
fields to double to 16.9 million carats this year as companies ramp-up
production in a region where human rights groups have flagged concerns over
rights abuses, state media reported on Tuesday.
The government through its mining firm Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation (ZMDC) operates five joint venture mines in Marange, which
produced 8 million carats in 2012 and generated $685 million in exports, the
state-owned Herald newspaper reported.
Diamond production is expected to reach 16.9 million carats this year, the
paper said based on projections from ZMDC.
ZMDC officials could not be reached for comment.
Diamond revenues have been a source of friction within the coalition
government formed by President Robert Mugabe and long-time opponent, Morgan
Tsvangirai, now prime minister.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, from Tsvangirai's party, has accused the
Marange mines of not remitting diamond proceeds to the Treasury.
Diamond watchdog Partnership Africa Canada said last November at least $2
billion of diamonds from Marange fields were stolen by people linked to
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, but ZMDC said the gems were sold transparently.
The Kimberley Process, a blood diamonds monitoring organisation, has
certified Marange gems but human rights groups have raised concerns about
potential abuses at mines and Mugabe's opponents fear proceeds from diamond
sales will be used to fund a war chest for elections expected in 2013.
By Alex Bell
29 January 2013
A preliminary report on corruption in Zimbabwe’s mining sector has
implicated senior government officials in fraud, and prompted calls for
proper legislation to be introduced.
The report by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z) has said that the
diamond sector is particularly marred by corruption. It says the “absence of
a Diamond Act has promoted a free-for-all scenario in
diamond trade where the power elites have literally acted in a ‘liassez
fashion to enrich themselves from diamond mining.”
The report states that politicians, military figures, police and others are
all involved and implicated in the current corrupt scenario at the Chiadzwa
diamond fields. A lack of transparency and accountability has also allowed
political influence to decide what diamond mining contracts are awarded and,
according to the report, “all the companies that have been given mining
rights to mine diamonds in Zimbabwe are those with close links to senior
politicians in government and the military.”
The situation is not limited to the diamond sector and the report has found
that senior politicians have formed syndicates with police officers and
illegal gold panners to engage in organised corruption at Sherwood Block in
“So entrenched is the corruption that whenever there are impending raids,
the gold panners seem to be well-informed of the raids, their timing and how
they will be carried out,” says the report.
It adds: “This clearly shows that the politicians in cohort with the police
as well as the illegal miners are working to deprive the country of gold and
attendant revenues which should contribute to the national fiscus.”
The TI-Z study recommends the broadening of players involved in the granting
of mining rights and mining deals, to ensure transparency and
“Based on evidence prevailing on the ground, the study found out that all
the companies that have been given mining rights to mine diamonds in
Zimbabwe are those with close links to senior politicians in government and
the military,” the report said about the diamond sector in particular.
The study also recommended that all government officials, including
politicians and bureaucrats, should declare their wealth upon taking office.
“Such a measure can be buttressed by a name and shame policy where those
public officials who acquire wealth through the abuse of office are named
and shamed in public without fear or favour.”
by Edgar Gweshe
The Zimbabwe Republic Police has said that preliminary investigations on the
explosion that killed five people at a traditional healer's house in
Chitungwiza last week indicate the incident could be due to "explosives" and
that a police officer was among the deceased.
Addressing journalists at the Police General Headquarters in Harare, ZRP
national spokesperson, Charity Charamba refuted previous claims that a
soldier was part of the five people that died in the incident.
"Let me dispel rumours that one of the deceased people was a soldier. No
soldier was killed in that incident but it was only one police officer,"
"Preliminary investigations are indicating that the cause of the incident
was due to explosives.
"Therefore, we all need to very cautious. We are still carrying out
investigations and we will be updating you. The forensic and bomb disposal
teams are still carrying out further analysis of the situation," she added.
Charamba bemoaned that people were tempering with explosives in a bid to
extract mercury, which is believed to be fetching a lot of money on the
She said that so far, police have recorded three cases, including the
Chitungwiza incident, of people dealing in explosives.
"In Waterfalls last week, four members of the same family tried to open a
grenade and it exploded resulting in one of them losing four fingers. Three
suspects have since been arrested in connection with the case and
investigations are in progress," said Charamba.
"In another incident in Manicaland three weeks ago, two people were arrested
in Manicaland selling motor bombs to members of the public alleging that
they contain mercury.
"We as police are saying explosives are designed to explode and people
should not believe they will make millions out of them. The possession of
explosives is illegal and highly dangerous," she added.
Charamba urged members of the public to report cases of people possessing
explosives to the police.
WASHINGTON — HIV-AIDS activists are disputing the latest figures from the
National AIDS Council (NAC) showing significant decreases in HIV-related
deaths and new infections.
As VOA reported Sunday, the NAC said HIV-related deaths in Zimbabwe are down
from 3,000 to 1,000 per week and new infection rates have also declined from
an annual average of 66,000 to 44,000 which they credit to anti-retroviral
But activists say the numbers are skewed as hundreds of Zimbabweans
suffering with the disease at home, are unable to access the necessary
assistance and treatment.
NAC spokeswoman Madeline Dube said the numbers were achieved with programs
targetting treatment and counseling.
Most of the deaths being recorded, according to Dube, are those of people
defaulting on treatment.
Critics, however, charge that NAC has failed to include AIDS groups who work
directly with communities.
AIDS activist, Emmanuel Gasa, of the AIDS and Arts Foundation told VOA that
many Zimbabweans suffer at home and do not seek treatment in hospital
because they cannot afford it.
Most people are sick in places like Bikita, Goromonzi and others and are
failing to access even the public assistance provided by government, said
NAC is pushing for more to be done to ensure the country gets to zero new
infections, a move Gasa said should involve smaller organizations working at
He challenged the government and donor partners to allow groups to join in
while rounding statistics to pinpoint locals who are not commonly counted.
HARARE, 29 January 2013 (IRIN) - Flash flooding across Zimbabwe’s Masvingo
and Matabeleland provinces, normally dry areas, has caused substantial
damage to infrastructure. While more than 4,000 people across the country
are in need of humanitarian assistance following heavy rains.
“Our area is normally dry, and we were caught unawares by the floods, which
destroyed almost all the bridges and badly damaged the roads. As a result,
communication is difficult,” Alois Baloyi, member of parliament (MP)
representing the Chiredzi North rural constituency in Masvingo, told IRIN.
“I have… been informed that more than 10 adults and at least four children
have drowned. The number of victims could be bigger, though, as a proper
assessment is yet to be done,” he said.
Moses Mare, an MP from a nearby constituency in Chiredzi, said recent flash
floods saw water rise above ground floor window level, and affected more
than 200 families in the sugar-producing town of Triangle.
“The 240 families lost their food stocks, property and blankets. Most of
them lost their means of communication as their cell phones were swept away
and [they] could not immediately communicate the disaster,” he said.
Simon Machaya, teacher based in the Masvingo’s Mwenezi District, told IRIN
that 30 satellite schools in rural communities were destroyed by storms.
“Hundreds of school children are currently not attending school because
their classrooms were blown away. These satellite schools were made up of
fragile material such as home-made bricks and thatched roofs. The little
stationery and books they had were lost and there is urgent need for
assistance,” Machaya said.
Flooding across the region
A 29 January situation report of the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, “Heavy rainfall across the country during
mid-January 2013 affected an estimated 8,490 people, of which 4,615 people
require humanitarian assistance in the form of emergency shelter and
Across the region, floods have occurred in Botswana and Malawi - where
30,785 people were affected - and Mozambique. In Mozambique, about 250,000
people have been affected, with 146,000 living in temporary shelters, the
OCHA situation report said.
Tropical Cyclone Felleng is expected to shave past Madagascar in the next
few days, and could bring “significant rainfall” despite not making
landfall. There were also reports of increasing river levels in the capital,
Antananarivo, which could “reach alert levels with additional rainfall,” the
OCHA flood update said.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
BY Jacey Fortin | January 29 2013 9:07 AM
A human rights group in South Africa has stopped a delivery of retired
military helicopters and spare parts to Zimbabwe defense forces, decrying
the donation as an untimely boon for Zimbabwe’s repressive administration.
It is a sure indication that national elections in Zimbabwe – which are
expected to take place sometime this year – are raising serious concerns
that the ruling party may resort to violence as a way to quash dissent, just
as it has done in the past.
AfriForum, a nonprofit civil rights organization based on the outskirts of
the South African capital city of Pretoria, succeeded in its bid to prevent
the delivery of retired Alouette III helicopters and spare parts to
Zimbabwe. The craft has been used by both South African and Zimbabwean
forces for decades.
The planned delivery was first reported on Friday by the Mail & Guardian, a
South African publication. AfriForum responded the very same day, seeking
and winning an interim court order to stall the delivery, which was granted
by the North Gauteng High Court pending a review of AfriForum’s main
In a press release explaining its objection to the helicopter shipment,
AfriForum argues that the craft could strengthen the same Zimbabwean forces
that perpetrated violence against civilians during a national election five
“All indications are that the Zimbabwean army is enhancing its visibility,
mobility and presence across Zimbabwe in anticipation of the national
elections that are scheduled to take place later this year,” it said.
Blessing-Miles Tendi, lecturer in African politics at Oxford University's
Department of International Development, thinks that AfriForum’s concerns
are a bit overblown.
“There is a very strong relationship growing between the Zimbabwean and the
South African forces. They’ve been doing military exercises together for a
very long time,” he said, adding that security forces in Zimbabwe know
better than to use such high-profile equipment against civilians.
“When Zimbabwean forces do carry out the violence, it’s usually small
militias,” says Tendi. “The kinds of weapons that are used include stones
and sticks – soft violence, the kind of stuff that won’t risk external
intervention. It’s ugly, it’s horrible, but it’s below the threshold where
foreign forces or the United Nations would intervene.”
Zimbabwe remains under an EU arms embargo.
Zimbabwe has been run by President Robert Mugabe for nearly 33 years. He
represents the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front, or
Zimbabwe’s 2008 election was widely condemned as a sham, since Morgan
Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, won more votes
than Mugabe in the first round but withdrew before the second was completed,
citing a pattern of violence against MDC supporters. Mugabe cruised to a
That year was a bloody one for Zimbabwe, and ZANU-PF security forces bear
most of the blame. MDC officials estimate that 253 people were killed and
hundreds more were injured in politically motivated attacks against
Tsvangirai supporters. Amid continuing violence after the election, a deal
was brokered whereby Tsvangirai would serve as prime minister during Mugabe’s
presidency, a situation that persists today.
Millions of Zimbabweans have fled their home country since 2008, seeking
stability in South Africa. But communities there have been less than
welcoming, in part because South Africa suffers widespread poverty and high
unemployment despite having the continent’s largest economy.
This migration is not the only issue giving South Africa a stake in Zimbabwe’s
stability – the two nations are old partners, and South African leaders have
played a large role as a mediator in the political struggles of its northern
neighbor. It was South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki who presided
over the 2008 negotiations that saw Tsvangirai become prime minister (though
that arrangement skewed in favor of Mugabe).
More recently, ANC leaders encouraged Zimbabwe officials to work out a new
draft constitution, a pre-condition to upcoming national elections. The
document was agreed upon by MDC and ZANU-PF last week and will now be
subject to a referendum. If passed, it would make it more difficult for
ZANU-PF to monopolize power, though Mugabe will be allowed to remain in
office for another 10 years.
Mugabe and current South African president Jacob Zuma are personally linked
by a history of fighting oppression; both spent about a decade in prison for
their participation in political organizations supporting black rights
during a time of white rule. Still today, both rely on racially charged
rhetoric in order to rally their mostly black constituency.
But Zuma’s relationship with Mugabe is strained; the South African president
is seen as less sympathetic to ZANU-PF leadership than was his predecessor,
Mbeki. In other words, Mugabe cannot rely on Zuma’s support during Zimbabwe’s
That casts doubt on the significance of the planned helicopter shipment,
especially considering the two countries’ tradition of military cooperation.
But the international community still has plenty of reason to pay close
attention to Zimbabwe’s national elections, expected to take place by
autumn. The aging Mugabe will once again go head-to-head with Tsvangirai,
and the security forces that proved their corruptibility in 2008,
instigating deadly violence and stripping citizens of their right to a fair
democracy, will be under more serious scrutiny this time around.
MDC-T Organising Secretary for Glen View South Paul Rukanda spent nearly 12 months at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and Harare Remand Prison over a much politicised case involving the murder of a policeman.
Last month Rukanda and his colleagues were finally granted bail after what many considered to be deliberate delays by a compromised judiciary. Nehanda Radio Managing Editor Lance Guma spoke to Rukanda this week.
Lance Guma: Describe life at both Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and Harare Remand Prison. How was it like for nearly 12 months?
Paul Rukanda: It was a difficult life considering that we were staying in a crowded place full of contagious diseases. My transfer to Chikurubi Prison was after I had clashed several times with security guards at Harare Remand Prison.
But we managed to stand our ground and also managed to sell the party (MDC-T) to both the prison guards and fellow inmates.
Guma: We received reports that some of the activists were assaulted by prison guards and denied medical attention?
Rukanda: It’s true the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) is incapacitated to such an extent they cannot pay US$10 for some to be attended at Parirenyatwa Hospital. Sometimes they said they didn’t have fuel to ferry those who had fallen ill at Remand Prison for treatment.
We told them that we did not deserve to be assaulted because we had no case to answer; we were just being incarcerated for nothing, so we needed a professional Zimbabwe Prison Service not a ZANU PF entity.
Guma: You spent nearly 12 months in remand prison for a crime you say you did not commit. How did you feel the day you were released?
Rukanda: It was great to be re-united with my family and all my friends and MDC fraternity.
Guma: What happened on the day you were released?
Rukanda: People were in a jovial mood. I could not hold myself with emotions seeing my wife and my kids after a long time in prison for a case that I never committed.
I never believed that I was out of prison considering that ZANU PF is a tyrannical regime which kills people and incarcerates many innocent people who have not committed any crime.
Guma: Many times bail hearings were postponed and excuses given about the judge being sick or the prosecutor being unavailable etc. What did you make of all this?
Rukanda: We knew it was the Zanu PF way of doing things because they feel that we had no case to answer. They felt that they should keep us locked up for a long time in remand prison but to our credit we were all determined to the bitter end and actually they strengthened our spirits.
We will never look back until the hour of final victory.
Guma: What happened the day Inspector Petros Mutedza was murdered? Where you anywhere near the crime scene?
Rukanda: I was not even near the crime scene. I don’t even know what happened to him on that particular day. I was surprised to hear the police were looking for me. It was in August 2011 when they came to my home looking for me.
I was in the rural area, Buhera. That’s when I heard police were looking for me, two months after Mutedza’s death. I was surprised to hear that the police were looking for me in connection with this case.
Guma: Some reports suggested Inspector Mutedza was a notorious policeman in the area and fell out with some vendors at a local bar?
Rukanda: I have no explanation for that one. In my life I have never known or met Mutedza.
Guma: Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife Elizabeth paid several visits to your group. Can you describe the visits, what happened and what was the reaction of you and your colleagues?
Rukanda: It was good to be visited by the PM’s wife. She is such as generous woman. The ZPS tried to block her from visiting us but she refused and kept on with her long journey to visit us.
She never gave up even when the officer-in-charge at Harare Remand tried to humiliate her and other ministers who had accompanied her, she persevered.
Guma: What do you think is really behind this case?
Rukanda: They just wanted to weaken the MDC as a political party. I think they wanted to destroy our structures so that in the next general elections we will be weakened to such an extent that Zanu PF will be the beneficiary.
To my surprise the police, judiciary together with other silent forces whom we never thought could join them are definitely behind the destroying of MDC activities in Harare. As activists we will soldier on.
Guma: How is the transition from all that time in remand to getting back home? Are you facing any problems?
Rukanda: Before my arrest, I was working for a private company and as of now, I am no longer employed. I lost my job. So I would appreciate if there are people who can help me to reconstruct my life by finding employment or projects.
I am knowledgeable in paint manufacturing and if I get funding, I can start my own project. I appeal to those who might be interested in helping me to contact me through my number +263772487549.
That work was my only source of income and living with my wife and two kids. I also appeal to party sympathisers to assist all of us because times are very hard. I have a project proposal for paint manufacturing that I think can be funded and will go a long way to re-build my life.
Guma: So what happens from here? When are you back in court?
Rukanda: We are waiting for the State to set the trial date. In the meanwhile times are hard because like I said, I lost my job and I really want to get assistance to bring back my life and to have a stable future for my wife and two young kids.
Guma: Will you be filing a lawsuit against what you feel was an unjust incarceration?
Rukanda: Yes of course, I will sue the state for they have caused the suffering of my family and me. We will definitely sue the state after justice has been done.
To my surprise here in Zimbabwe, the police arrest to investigate and not investigate to arrest, of which they are causing a lot of suffering to a lot of innocent people.
on January 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm
Opinion by Rashweat Mukundu
Zimbabwe, we are told, now has a final draft constitution that we as
citizens should either accept or reject in a referendum prior to elections
expected later this year.
The extent of how this document reflects the wishes of the people is a
matter of conjecture, save to say the referendum and adoption of the
document is one of many political rituals we have to go through with no
clarity as to their benefits for citizens of the country.
The nature of the discussions clearly indicates political interest took
centre stage from citizens’ interests. In this regard, it is folly to expect
the document to foster a process of change that resonates far beyond the
political sector to transform our lives socially and economically.
Even as many people did not know what this constitution is about and talked
of the need for food, clinics, roads and jobs during the outreach programme,
those statements spoke to the real issues for the people.
They want a document that focuses on people rather than political issues and
people should be at the centre of the constitutional debate. When
politicians met to debate and compromise on the constitution, it is a
natural expectation they have people at heart rather than party and personal
We note, however, the new constitution has become an intense battleground
for the contrasting political interests and debate has progressively drifted
away from our understanding, participation and control.
There is no doubt there is a facade of Zanu PF having been forced to
backtrack on a number of issues the party was pressing for.
On the other hand, nothing seems to have changed much as there appears to be
no fundamental changes to policies that guide and influence national
governance and the function of key national institutions.
Our political leaders have skirted fundamental issues that include the fact
that challenges we have faced over the past decade are largely defined by
disrespect for the rule of law, dysfunctional national institutions and
With or without a new constitution it appears Zanu PF still has an upper
hand in defining our political destiny.
Even as it appeared Zanu PF’s numerous objections and suggestions to the
constitution have not been fully entertained, the party successfully took
its government of national unity (GNU) partners down a long, winding road in
order to bring us back where we have been since 1980.
That the pillars of Zanu PF control of this society have remained intact is
shameful when, as stated earlier, they are at the centre of the national
decline as a result of abuse and inefficiency.
It is extremely sad the political leadership opposed to Zanu PF had the
cheek to inform us that they compromised with Zanu PF on many constitutional
provisions in order to accommodate Zanu PF’s internal politics of
We now have the strangest language in a draft constitution, of provisions
that will be implemented after six years and others that would come into
effect after 10 years.
We are not necessarily given details of this political horse-trading, save
for an acceptance and confirmation by the MDCs that our lives are in the
hands of Zanu PF, and that we need to give Zanu PF space to deal with its
internal issues and re-organise without disturbances.
This constitution is not about the people; instead it allows President
Robert Mugabe to ease out of political life without embarrassment and do so
outside the control, will and wishes of the majority of people. There is
suddenly a strange political convergence among GNU parties even as they
appear to disagree.
We then ask: does it necessarily need a “new” constitution to negotiate
Mugabe’s exit, or the GNU could simply have negotiated that without taking
the nation down the garden path for three-and-a-half years at a cost of
nearly US$50 million.
This constitution presents change without change; it marks a false
transition and reinforces the continuation of a political culture that we
have known for the past 30 years — that is the dominance of Zanu PF and
subjection of the rest to its will.
While Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says this is a social contract and
about the people, there is little if any citizen footprint in the
constitutional document and process.
The odds against the MDCs are well documented and cannot be overemphasised;
their failure is to leave so much room for Zanu PF and Mugabe to use this
important process to subvert the process of change. By leaving citizens out
of the process the MDCs have missed a chance to reconnect with their
political base that has driven opposition to Zanu PF for over a decade.
It was and still remains genuine grievances that drive opposition to Zanu PF
and these remain unresolved today as desperation increases on a day-by-day
basis. Although it has stabilised the socio-economic environment, the unity
government has largely failed on issues such as service delivery, industrial
revival and employment creation.
Our failure as citizens has been to allow piecemeal “political change” led
by politicians to drive us nowhere. The stakes against the people are huge.
The levels of social decay, suffering, hopelessness and pessimism are
staggering, yet once again we seem to let a chance for change slip through.
Rather than “negotiate” Zanu PF’s internal issues and insert these into the
Copac draft as constitutional issues, the MDCs should have returned to base
and consulted the people on the way forward.
Rashweat Mukundu is chairperson of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute
The recent clarion call to honor Josiah Tongogara by re-naming the army
headquarters from KG-6 to Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks 32 years after
independence and spear-headed by the commander of the Zimbabwe Defense
Forces, General Chiwenga, smacks of sheer hypocrisy, and given its timing
with elections in the offing, smacks of cheap politicking as well. Are we
really to believe that after 32 years of independence and 33 years after his
death, the powers that be have suddenly awoken to the need to honor Josiah
Tongogara, or is it more occasioned by the looming elections? If it’s the
latter as I and I’d say most people believe, would it be not insulting
people’s intelligence in assuming they would suffer fools gladly.
It appears like a copy cat scenario to the land issue, 20 years after
independence, albeit late in the day even taking into cognisance the 10-year
restrictions enshrined in the Lancaster House Agreement. By contrast Samora
Machel of Mozambique addressed the land issue from the outset in the advent
of independence in 1975, not after 20 years as in the case of Zimbabwe and
only then for political expediency against the backdrop of the serious
challenge from the MDC. Ever since then, ZANU PF has taken the moral high
ground on the land issue as if they alone invented or wanted it, but
something that had always been on the political agenda way back from the
Nationalist era. Sadly, having been done by way of a panic button against
the backdrop of the most serious political challenge since independence, it
resulted in the disastrous chaos that we know all too well!
For both the land issue and the move to belatedly honor Tongogara in the way
suggested, perhaps one can do no better than invoke T S Elliot in the drama
‘Murder in the Cathedral’ when Thomas Becket says (my emphasis):: "The last
temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong
What is more, with all the ZANU PF bigwigs jumping on the bandwagon in
praise of Tongogara is incompatible with independent press reports of
Tongogara’s widow and her children living in dire straits.. How can they
then say they admire Tongogara and yet neglect the family he left behind?
Questions must be asked as to why the government and/or the party did not
step in to help the family rather than leaving them into such dire straits.
And given that some of the people in fulsome praise of Tongagara are multi
millionaires if not billionaires in their own right, why did they not use
their personal financial clout to help the family of their supposed hero. Or
are we to believe that independent press reports about Tongogara’s widow and
her family being in dire straits was all a fabrication
As for Tongogara himself, he must be turning in his grave, not only at the
shameless hypocrisy but also and all the more so, at being used – again!
Benjamin Takavarasha, London