|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
|Quiet start to voting in Zimbabwe by-election
HARARE: Voting in a hotly contested parliamentary by-election began quietly on Saturday in the rural Zimbabwean constituency of Bindura, after months of campaigning marred by widespread violence.( AFP )
MDC candidate Elliot Pfebve is again trying to unseat Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which is fielding provincial governor Elliot Manyika as its candidate.
The by-election was called after the death of Border Gezi, a minister and parliamentarian who orchestrated the ZANU-PF's national election campaign that ended in only a narrow victory for Mugabe's party.
Gezi won his own race by a hair, with 13,329 ballots to Pfebve's 11,257.
Gezi died in a car crash on April 28. Reports surfaced only days later of beatings and assaults as ZANU-PF supporters tried to force Bindura residents to attend Gezi's memorial service.
The constituency, about 60 kilometers north of the capital Harare, suffered some of the worst violence ahead of last year's parliamentary election, which left at least 34 people dead and 19,000 tortured around the country, according to rights groups.
The by-election sparked another round of beatings and intimidation, including what MDC described as an assassination attempt on its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, last weekend.
|28/07/2001 12:17 - (SA)|
British High Commissioner Brian Donnelly held his first meeting with Mugabe on Thursday at State House when he presented his credentials as Britain’s new ambassador, an embassy statement said.
Donnelly "reiterated Prime Minister Tony Blair's wish to work together for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Zimbabwe in which all Zimbabweans would feel they had an equitable stake in the country's future," the statement said.
Mugabe explained the history of the land issue in Zimbabwe, which for the last 18 months has turned into a violent campaign by government supporters to occupy white-owned farms.
"The high commissioner also explained why the British government believed that the rule of law, respect for human rights, independence of the judiciary, and media freedom, including access for international media, should also be discussed," the statement said.
The state-run Herald newspaper said that Donnelly told Mugabe that "Britain wants to have good relations with Zimbabwe".
"We want to work together with Zimbabwe to achieve stability and prosperity. We also hope that in the near future we can go back to the friendly relationship we enjoyed in the past," the paper quoted Donnelly as saying.
Donnelly met Mugabe the same day that the Herald newspaper reported the government's decision to no longer accredit journalists from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to Zimbabwe.
Britain has spearheaded criticism of Muagbe's government for its crackdown on the opposition, the media and the judiciary.
The privately owned Daily News reported on Friday that it was denied access to State House to cover the meeting, while state media were allowed to enter.
Donnelly was previously ambassador to Belgrade from 1997 to 2000. - AFP
|28/07/2001 12:19 - (SA)|
The state-controlled daily Herald newspaper did not reproduce the remarks, saying they "could not be published in a family newspaper." The exam papers also contained "denigratory statements" about two of Mugabe' s most notorious militia warlords who died in June, as well as "sexual innuendos," the Herald said.
"He is in police custody," said police spokesman Oliver Mashonganyika. "We will be interrogating him today. We will look into our books to find a fitting charge for him."
In police custody in Harare were four people who were among a small crowd of onlookers at the opening of parliament on Tuesday. They waved banners and distributed pamphlets "ridiculing" Mugabe, police here confirmed. They will be charged with "conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace”.
The four were arrested and hustled away almost as soon as their banners appeared. Police would not reveal what the banners said. Mugabe, now in his 21st year of autocratic rule, has refused widespread demands to step down.
He is being held responsible for the country's economic and social crisis that has enveloped the country in poverty, through a campaign of lawlessness and violence against political opponents. - DPA
|Friday 20 July, 2001|
Relatives of slain settler blast politicians
THE family of slain Mutare settler, Febian Mapenzauswa, has blasted politicians for turning their relative’s death into an opportunity for political showcasing ahead of next year’s crucial presidential election.
Mapenzauswa (31) was gruesomely killed in a car accident which has remained tinged with political and racial factors. He was run over by an Odzi farmer, Philip Bezuidenhout, along the Mutare-Harare highway last Saturday. Since the tragic accident, war veterans have moved over to occupy the entire farm and two others owned by relatives of Bezuidenhout, in apparent retaliation.
This week, Febian’s brothers, Douglas and Eric, told The Zimbabwe Mirror in Mutare that the family was incensed by the political rhetoric from especially the ruling Zanu PF and war veterans over their son’s alleged murder.
They said they were shocked that Febian’s death was now being conveniently manipulated for political “mileage” when the deceased had nothing to do with politics during his lifetime.
“My young brother was not a politician. He didn’t belong to any political party. He simply wanted a piece of land like anyone else in Zimbabwe. Politicians should just let him rest in peace,” said Douglas, speaking at the deceased’s opulent house in Mutare’s Morningside low-density suburb.
Circumstances surrounding Febian’s death remain a subject of much conjecture. But the fellow settlers’ version says he was run over by the commercial farmer, soon after being allocated a piece of land by war veterans at the accused’s Tara Farm, about 235 kilometres along the Harare-Mutare road.
The white farmer was allegedly enraged by the designation of his farm and its subdivision into plots under the government’s fast track land reform programme, at a time when he was challenging its acquisition in the first place.
Bezuidenhout has since appeared before a Mutare Magistrate’s Court, facing allegations of murder, and was remanded in custody to August 1.
A visibly irate Douglas questioned the wisdom of the Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo, and that of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), in issuing statements on Febian’s death without consulting the Mupenzauswa family.
“Who is Professor Moyo to issue a statement on the death of my brother without consulting me or my father?” questioned Douglas. “My brother never joined any party in his life. He was not a member of the war veterans.” Professor Moyo was this week quoted in the media as having said, about Febian’s tragic death: “This is a callous, premeditated, cold blood murder which smacks of the Ku Klux Klan-type of murders done in the US and South Africa.
“It is a shame that in doing it, this white farmer turned it into a celebration and so we expect the full wrath of the law to take its course.” Adding to the family’s discontent, his young brother, Eric, reiterated that Febian was never a member of any political party or organisation.
“My brother was not a politician, but a dedicated Christian. It pains us that his death is now being politicised.
“If there is any party, which has Feabian’s name on its membership books, it must come out in the open,” said an emotional Eric, who said he had reservations about the way the media covered his brother’s death. He and Douglas accused the media of trying to cash in on Febian’s death and declared that the family had resolved not to give information to reporters anymore. The family was also bitter about the conduct of politicians at the funeral. Senior ruling party politicians, including Manicaland governor Oppah Muchinguri, and war veterans, attended the funeral. “I found it strange that governor Muchinguri came to our home only yesterday (Tuesday) to pay homage. Our family is not interested in politics,” claimed Douglas.
He also said the family had spurned an offer of two beasts from the war veterans, to be slaughtered for food at the funeral. “We made it clear that we didn’t want their beasts or any support,” he added.
The family claimed that it was not concerned about Bezuidenhout’s arraignment in the courts, although they conceded justice had to take its course. “Not even a single member of our family attended today (Wednesday)’s court proceedings and we will continue not to do so in future.
“We don’t care even if the white farmer is released today because that will not bring back our relative,” added the fuming Douglas.
The irate Douglas said Bezuidenhout’s family had tried in vain to persuade his family to accept $20 000 as burial assistance and also to open negotiations for compensation.
“What is $20 000 to us? What is money when you have lost a dear relative?” questioned Douglas. Efforts to speak to Febian’s wife were in vain as she was reportedly still in the Mutasa communal lands, where her husband was buried on Monday. Douglas said she was very devastated.
A friend of the late Febian who declined to give out his name said the deceased belonged to “the party of God” and as such the politicisation of his death was unfortunate.
“What is worrying is that newspapers and political parties want to make money and get political acceleration on Febian’s death.
“Let me say this is not a canal war, it is a spiritual war and we know that God will have the final judgement on this matter, not the courts or anyone else,” said the friend.
But a spokesperson of the ZNLWVA told The Zimbabwe Mirror in Mutare that Febian was one of them.
“He was our comrade and he died in the land reform struggle,” said Stansilous Chikukwa, a member of the ZNLWVA national executive committee, without elaborating.
Chikukwa warned that war veterans would not accept a “biased” trial of Bezuidenhout.
“We are not going to allow biased judgement in this case. This guy threatened the people before committing the murder. He must hang,” said Chikukwa.
At the court appearance of Bezuidenhout on Wednesday, scores of irate war veterans crammed the Mutare Magistrate’s Court threatening to mete instant justice on the white farmer.
However, their actions were kept under the surveillance of armed plain and uniformed members of the police, who were stationed on strategic positions in and outside the court.
A ragged but collected Bezuidenhout told Mutare provincial magistrate Hosea Mujaya that he had no complaints against the police and also that his lawyers, Ndlovu and Gonese Legal Practitioners, would take up his bail application with the High Court.
A few weeks ago, President Thabo Mbeki was answering questions on Zimbabwe in the South African parliament. In what will have startled his listeners as amazing background knowledge on Zimbabwe, President Mbeki gave as an illustration of the problem of transition the case of Andrew Fleming Hospital, now Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Designed and constructed at a time when settler colonization was viewed as a permanent and everlasting feature, Andrew Fleming Hospital was a “Whites Only” facility that accounted for 50 per cent of the country’s annual health budget. Spacious and elegant, it looked then less a hospital than a five-star hotel, with the best of both staff and technology.
Come independence in 1980, the new Minister of Health – no less than the heady Herbert Ushewokunze – moved quicker than most of his counterparts in the new Zimbabwe. Andrew Fleming Hospital was renamed Parirenyatwa, after Zimbabwe’s first indigenous medical practitioner, Samuel Parirenyatwa, the late father of the current Deputy Minister of Health, David Parirenyatwa. This marked the beginnings of the democratization process in health (but, also in education) as facilities were “de-racialized” across the country and as Parirenyatwa became as much a “general hospital” as Harare Central Hospital.
As President Mbeki explained to his listeners, the old structures and facilities designed for a minority could no longer cope under the weight of the majority. The infrastructure itself began to degenerate quickly and likewise the capacity to deliver good service and efficient health care. This became the pattern of degeneration across the country as previously “Whites Only” hospitals, schools and other social amenities were democratized. The racists themselves called this the “break-down” of services associated with black majority rule; and even today many a member of the black middle class waxes nostalgia about the good colonial days, even though blacks in general were largely outside the sphere of such privileged facilities.
True, any meaningful process of democratization is bound to be costly and must mean, at least in the initial phase of the transition, a drastic drop in standards hitherto enjoyed only by a minority. The question is how long such a transition should be and what ought to be the programme of development in the context of which improvements should be made throughout post-independence society.
Well, most people in Zimbabwe would be justified in concluding that it has taken far too long to see any meaningful improvement in the basic health and educational facilities, notwithstanding that such a sentiment has to be tempered with the acknowledgement that our declining economic fortunes makes it increasingly difficult for government to sustain the programme of social development with the same level of intensity as it did during the 1980s.
Let’s go back to the Parirenyatwa example. I had to assist a family friend last weekend in retrieving from the Parirenyatwa mortuary the body of a loved one. What a disaster! Anybody who has stood even 10 metres away from the mortuary will know what I mean. But imagine, if you will, the physical conditions within a facility hitherto meant for the privileged minority in colonial times but which now has to cater for a far greater population factor.
Have we lost all notions about forward planning? And how many times has the media and other sections of society – including the medical practitioners themselves – complained about the deteriorating conditions at Parirenyatwa, particularly the mortuary? Do we all have to wait for our dear ones to depart before we discover such atrocious conditions, and then, perhaps, all of us clamour for the appropriate extension and installation of new equipment at the mortuary? You would have thought the disaster would end at the mortuary, until you begin the hard search for a grave at one of the cemeteries. Cemeteries? Yes, cemeteries, but even in 2001 the concept is still alien to most of us Africans. Indeed, there was until two decades ago or so the practice of burying beloved ones “at home”, at the family shrine, on the side of that huge musasa tree. Even today, I must confess, it does look ridiculous to confine our dead in this limited places available in such enclosures as we call cemeteries, with our dead almost virtually shoulder to shoulder in endless rows, each grave numbered as if we had buried a mere number.
But, again, Warren Hills Cemetery, like Pioneer Cemetery before it, were only two decades ago or so a “Whites Only” preserve. And, again, no one seems to have foreseen that the democratization process – that would necessarily include mortuaries as well as cemeteries – would leave Warren Hills Cemetery bursting at the seams. The City of Harare appears helpless, no idea about forward planning, let alone imagination in a city with so much land at its disposal.
And, of course, Warren Hills Cemetery today is a far cry from the beautiful “Garden of Rest” that it was when confined to the minority. The City of Harare has failed totally to maintain the cemetery which, during the rainy season in particular, is so overgrown that it is often difficult to find the grave of your loved one.
Equally disastrous are the hills overlooking the cemetery: the level of environmental degradation thereon is so frightening that if the City officials continue to look on this so indifferently, as they are already, the hills will be bereft of any trees, at the mercy of wood-cutters from the residential areas close to the cemetery.
Thousands turn up for poll
Voters in Bindura Constituency defied the
pre-election violence that marked the constituency’s by- election to form long
queues to cast their votes this morning.
Constituency registrar Augustine Tsuro, says he is impressed with the
exercise so far.
He said by Ten Am most polling stations reported large numbers of people who
wanted to vote.
Villagers could be seen trickling along dust roads leading to the polling
stations in the by- election pitting Elliot Manyika of Zanu Pf and Elliot Pfebve
of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The by elections was called for following the death of the late Border Gezi.
Constituency registrar Augustine Tsuro, says he is impressed with the exercise so far.
He said by Ten Am most polling stations reported large numbers of people who wanted to vote.
Villagers could be seen trickling along dust roads leading to the polling stations in the by- election pitting Elliot Manyika of Zanu Pf and Elliot Pfebve of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The by elections was called for following the death of the late Border Gezi.
Civil servants receive allowance hikes
The Government has increased Transport and Housing
Allowances by Fifty percent and Forty-Five percent respectively with effect
from this month.
This was announced by the chairman of the joint negotiating council Mr Alex
He says the increases were agreed after a meeting between staff associations
and Government representatives .
The increases have been necessitated by the need to help cushion civil
servants from the effects of the increases in the prices of fuel and the cost of
The increases are across the board and are with effect from the first of this
This was announced by the chairman of the joint negotiating council Mr Alex Ndhlukula.
He says the increases were agreed after a meeting between staff associations and Government representatives .
The increases have been necessitated by the need to help cushion civil servants from the effects of the increases in the prices of fuel and the cost of living .
The increases are across the board and are with effect from the first of this month.
New denominations on the cards
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says it will soon
launch the 500 Dollar Note and the Five Dollar coin at the end of next month.
Public Relation Manager of the financial institution Ignatious Mabasa says
the Five Dollar coin is already being minted.
He says both the Coin and the Note will be launched by President Robert
The current Five Dollar Note will continue to be Legal Tender as long as they
remain in circulation.
The Reserve Bank has in the meantime warned people not to accept any new
notes or coins until the new denominations are launched.
The One Cent coin, he said, will remain the lowest denomination in Zimbabwe.
Public Relation Manager of the financial institution Ignatious Mabasa says the Five Dollar coin is already being minted.
He says both the Coin and the Note will be launched by President Robert Mugabe.
The current Five Dollar Note will continue to be Legal Tender as long as they remain in circulation.
The Reserve Bank has in the meantime warned people not to accept any new notes or coins until the new denominations are launched.
The One Cent coin, he said, will remain the lowest denomination in Zimbabwe.
From News24 (SA), 28 July
Mugabe appoints his judges
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has appointed three new judges seen as stalwarts of the ruling party to the Supreme Court, reports said on Friday. Some slam the move as an attempt to influence the judiciary. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said that the additional judges were needed to handle litigation by white farmers "who are contesting and indeed frustrating the government's land reform programme", in a statement quoted by the state-run Herald newspaper.
White farmers, through the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), have already won a Supreme Court ruling declaring the violence-wracked land reforms unconstitutional, and individual farmers continue to press claims to retain their farms. Chinamasa did not say when the new judges - Misheck Cheda, Vernanda Ziyambi and Luke Malaba - would take the bench. Under Zimbabwean law, Mugabe has unrestricted powers to appoint judges or to expand the size of the bench. His appointments are reviewed only by the Judicial Services Commission, which is also filled with Mugabe appointees.
"The real reason for the new appointments is an attempt to further Zanu-ise the judiciary in this country," said Tendai Biti, a leading constitutional lawyer and an MP from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He was referring to Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. "Fortunately the men and women who have been appointed are men and women of integrity," Biti said. "The intended subordination of the Supreme Court through the appointment of judges who are perceived as sympathetic to the Mugabe regime is not going to succeed."
International legal groups have criticised the government for making threats against judges and their families earlier this year. Former chief justice Anthony Gubbay went into early retirement after Chinamasa reportedly told him the government could no longer guarantee his safety. He was replaced with a judge widely seen as pro-government. Gubbay and other judges came under heightened pressure after the government suffered a series of defeats at the Supreme Court, including rulings which ended the government monopoly on broadcasting, invalidated its land reform scheme, and allowed the opposition to bring legal challenges to its electoral losses.
Mugabe's government has pushed through new legislation to counter some of those rulings and ignored others. The court's new composition casts doubt on how any future legal challenges would be decided. The MDC has won four of its 37 electoral petitions and lost four others. Both sides have appealed their losses to the Supreme Court. Would-be private broadcasters have also vowed to challenge a new broadcasting law before the court, saying the law sidestepped last year's Supreme Court decision on the airwaves by imposing too many restrictions on broadcasters. The court is also due to return to its ruling on land reforms. It had ordered the police to evict thousands of occupiers from white-owned farms and told the government to craft a legal land reform programme by July 1. The deadline has passed without any apparent action.
From The Daily News, 27 July
Violence intensifies in Bindura ahead of weekend by-election
About 40 Zanu PF youths yesterday afternoon attacked 15 MDC youths at a house in Bindura's Chiwaridzo high-density suburb as the campaign for this weekend's parliamentary by-election approached its climax. Elliot Manyika of Zanu PF is fighting it out with Elliot Pfebve of the MDC for the seat that fell vacant following the death in April of Zanu PF's Border Gezi. Zanu PF youths have turned the council's Chiwaridzo Hall into their base. The MDC youths are camped at MDC activist Adreat Mhuza's house, which has been repeatedly attacked. Mhuza fled to Harare in April. The Zanu PF youths attacked the MDC youths with stones but fled when the latter retaliated. Police were monitoring the situation in the volatile suburb. MDC and Zanu PF polling agents and officials, including Pfebve, attended a briefing with the constituency registrar yesterday morning. Manyika sent a representative. Last weekend Zanu PF youths attacked the convoy in which Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC president, was travelling.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 27 July
Bindura’s "most wanted" leads Manyika campaign
A leading member of aspiring MP Elliot Manyika’s Bindura by-election campaign team is a wanted criminal in the Mashonaland Central town. Jack Salim, wanted in connection with 14 cases of robbery and violence, is on the police most-wanted list. Salim is a key member of Manyika’s campaign team which has engaged in violent confrontations with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change across the length and breadth of the sprawling constituency. In the reception area at Bindura police station his picture is on the chart of wanted people in the province.
Sources at the Bindura magistrates’ court have expressed surprise that the police have to date not arrested Salim despite coming into contact with him on a daily basis. Police in Bindura confirmed that Salim was on their wanted list and was at one time arrested by a police officer called Paribendipo. He was apparently released on the instructions of senior Zanu PF officials. Sources in the town said Salim was also a beneficiary of part of the $2 million splashed out by the government in the town, ostensibly to support self-help projects. All the beneficiaries are understood to be close to the ruling party. The by-election, which is being held tomorrow and Sunday, pits Manyika of Zanu PF against Elliot Pfebve of the MDC. Pfebve lost to the late Border Gezi in last year’s parliamentary poll by a margin of less than 2 000 votes.
Money is being distributed under the guise of loans for self-help projects, in most cases in the absence of any project proposals from beneficiaries or subsequent accountability. Last week the deputy minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation, Shuvai Mahofa, handed over $2 million to Manyika for disbursement. The source said visits to homes of beneficiaries showed no signs of any projects taking off. He said the money was actually being used to intensify the terror campaign aimed at ensuring that Manyika won the by-election.
Pfebve has questioned why the money was only made available when elections were due. "Zanu PF wants to deceive the electorate with cash to win votes but we have realised their dirty tricks and are educating the electorate on it," he said. "They are capable of doing anything to win an election. They have tried even to eliminate me through violent attacks and ambushes. But our message is clear; that people should go to vote in large numbers because that is the only way left for their voices to be heard."
Last weekend opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Pfebve, together with other MDC officials in a 13-vehicle motorcade were ambushed by more than 100 Zanu PF youths led by Salim. The motorcade was attacked at Chiveso shopping centre on its way to Mupandira Business Centre where Tsvangirai was due to address a rally. Though the senior officials escaped unhurt, five people sustained serious injuries and most vehicles had windows shattered. One vehicle belonging to Dr Tichaona Mudzingwa, MDC’s secretary for health, was burnt. "Of the five who were seriously injured, two might not recover because of the severity of the injuries sustained. But what is shocking is that though we are the victims we are now under arrest for allegedly causing the violence," said Tapera Macheka, the MDC chairman for Bindura. Those still detained at hospitals include Peter Mangurenje who lost an eye in the skirmish and is in a critical condition at Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Bindura magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi this week threw out the case of the 14 MDC supporters arrested on allegations of causing violence, citing lack of evidence. The magistrate ruled that the accused were actually the victims whose properties were destroyed in the violence. In his judgement Mutevedzi said: "What makes this case surprising is that there are no complainants of the people who were assaulted. No single name of assaulted people has been referred to in the report, which makes it surprising who reported this case to the police. It therefore compounds the defendants’ claim that the accused were arrested when they came to report the case to the police," Mutevedzi said.
From IRIN (UN), 27 July
British Govt Seeks Better Relations
New British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Brian Donnely, said on Thursday that his government wanted to re-establish the friendly relations the two countries enjoyed before the current controversy over the land issue, news reports said. Donnely, who was presenting his credentials at State House in Harare, told reporters after a one-and-half-hour meeting with President Robert Mugabe that he conveyed to the Zimbabwean leader a message of friendship from British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Relations between the two countries have not been that cordial since 1997, when Blair spurned Mugabe's request for Britain to honour its independence promise to fund land reforms.
Following his re-election in May, Blair wrote a conciliatory letter to Mugabe, who had written to congratulate him, raising hopes that the two countries could be back on talking terms soon. "I am here to represent my country and give the position of Britain in line with what my prime minister has said in so far as working together to solve difficulties and differences between our countries," Donnely was quoted saying. He said, however, that working with Zimbabwe did not mean that Britain had changed its position on fundamental issues.
From The Star (SA), 27 July
Five people held for 'insulting Mugabe'
Harare - Police have arrested five people for publicly insulting President Robert Mugabe, authorities confirmed on Friday. One of them was Nkululeko Dube, a teacher in the western city of Bulawayo who allegedly wrote abusive remarks about the 77-year-old dictator in examination papers he set for 500 pupils last week. The state-controlled daily Herald newspaper did not reproduce the remarks, saying they "could not be published in a family newspaper". The exam papers also contained "denigratory statements" about two of Mugabe's most notorious militia warlords who died in June, as well as "sexual innuendos," the Herald said. "He is in police custody," said police spokesperson Oliver Mashonganyika. "We will be interrogating him today. We will look into our books to find a fitting charge for him."
In police custody in Harare were four people who were among a small crowd of onlookers at the opening of parliament on Tuesday. They waved banners and distributed pamphlets "ridiculing" Mugabe, police confirmed. They would be charged with "conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace". The four were arrested and hustled away almost as soon as their banners appeared. Police would not reveal what the banners said. Mugabe, now in his 21st year of autocratic rule, has refused widespread demands to step down. He is being held responsible for the economic and social crisis that has enveloped the country in poverty, through a campaign of lawlessness and violence against political opponents.
From The Zimbabwe Independent, 27 July
Mugabe seeks to limit probe scope ahead of Commonwealth meeting
Fresh squabbles are emerging between Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth over the mandate of the foreign ministers’ team appointed to resolve the London-Harare political stand-off, the Zimbabwe Independent has established. Diplomatic sources said differences are resurfacing over the terms of reference of the committee which is expected to visit Zimbabwe and compile a report before the Brisbane Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in October. Harare wants the seven-member team - which comprises ministers from Britain, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, Jamaica, Nigeria and Zimbabwe itself - to deal with the land issue only.
President Mugabe this week confirmed his government’s narrow agenda on the issue when he opened the second session of the Fifth Parliament. Mugabe claimed the Commonwealth team has been "tasked to visit Zimbabwe on a fact-finding mission on land". This is not in fact the case. The committee was set up specifically to look at wider issues of governance. The president, who has been struggling to restrict the committee’s scope of investigation for political purposes, said it was expected that it would "help put the land issue in perspective and point to a way forward on this very important matter".
Harare is gloating over the appointment by the newly-formed African Union of another seven-member committee - which comprises South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia - to defend Zimbabwe’s land reform programme in international fora. "The one critical area presenting stiff but urgent political and legislative challenges is that of land reform," Mugabe said on Tuesday. "Our position on the land issue is now well-understood by the majority of the international community who now accept it as just and reasonable."
Authorities have drawn comfort from a statement by Organisation of African Union (OAU) foreign ministers, who took pot shots at London over Zimbabwe’s catalogue of problems. But their resolution was subsequently revised by heads of state who showed a marked reluctance to be drawn into the dispute between Harare and London. Some Commonwealth members, particularly Britain, Australia and South Africa, are insisting that the committee representing the group of mostly former British colonies be given room to also probe abuses in human rights, the rule of law, democracy and governance issues. Mugabe claims these issues are "peripheral" or "extraneous".
South African President Thabo Mbeki last week told the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, where he presented the New Africa Initiative – incorporating the Africa Millennium Recovery Plan - that the Commonwealth team will examine various issues in addition to land. Responding to a statement of the G8 foreign ministers, which said the Zimbabwe crisis was spawning instability in the region, Mbeki said: "Yes, indeed. In fact, we are in the process at the moment of establishing a Commonwealth committee of foreign ministers to deal with these issues, and Zimbabwe has agreed to that," he said.
Mbeki said the committee would also look into whether Zimbabwe was capable of holding a free and fair election next year when Mugabe runs for a fifth term which will see him, if he wins, extending his 21 years in office by another six years. "What is needed is to assist the Zimbabweans to make sure that those elections are indeed free and fair," Mbeki said. "I don’t think it’s a question of demanding it of them, but of assisting them if we can to make them that way." British High Commission political secretary Richard Lindsay told the Zimbabwe Independent two weeks ago that London wants the Commonwealth to examine the land issue and various other problems connected to it. He suggested that land redistribution would not be meaningful in the midst of economic ruin and lawlessness. But with Mugabe continuing to insist that all national problems, besides land, were red- herrings, it is doubtful if the Commonwealth team will want to proceed with its mission.
From The Daily News, 27 July
Andrew Young slams violence
Andrew Young, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, has strongly condemned the prevailing violence in Zimbabwe, spearheaded by war veterans, saying it bears the seeds of its own destruction. Young was addressing guests at a recent business breakfast meeting in Harare, whose theme was "Overcoming Zimbabwe's economic challenges and the land issue". The meeting was hosted jointly by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers), both State-owned.
"Violence has to be the last resort, if at all, and if we're going to achieve peace, prosperity and freedom that we hope for, we're going to have to do so in a climate that totally minimises violence," he said. Young said he had seen people in Zimbabwe living peacefully on land that had been taken away from them illegally in the past. He condemned killing and violence of any sort, both of which he said were avoidable. "Killing and violence are unnecessary. We should become more aggressive in pursuit of our goals without violence. As a politician, I know that you can't buy, bribe or intimidate people away from the polls. People are not dumb; they will not be intimidated or humiliated and with the privacy of the voting booth, they have their own opportunity for judgment and they will exercise that opportunity for judgment according to the appeals made to them and for them by those who they know and trust," Young said.
On vote-buying, the African-American politician cited elections in Haiti where politicians poured large sums of money and used the vicious Ton Ton Macoutes - an underground intelligence militia created by Haitian dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier - to beat up people. Papa Doc, in power from 1957 to 1971 when he died, ruled Haiti with an iron fist and maintained the Ton Ton Macoutes as a large and vicious guard. His son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc", took over in 1971 and ruled up to 1986 when he was deposed and fled into exile He said: "They were the most vicious people in the Western hemisphere. Yet, when the elections were held, the people who had been beaten into submission voted for a penniless priest, Jean-Betrand Aristide, for whom they had love and respect."
Young said he had always advised President Mugabe whenever he visited the US that it was important for Zimbabwe to maintain good relations with the international community. He said Zimbabwe's economy was not stable but had the potential of making a positive turn-around. He urged Zimbabweans to be tolerant and to help build a strong and vibrant nation that would be an example to the rest of Africa. The breakfast meeting was attended by a wide spectrum of the Zimbabwean businesspeople including Enoch Kamushinda, a leading banker and chairman of Zimpapers, Phillip Chiyangwa, the MP for Chinhoyi and a proponent for the indigenisation of the economy, and Nigel Chanakira, chief executive of Kingdom Financial Holdings.