Zimbabwe An assessment of human
rights violations in the run-up to the March 2005 parliamentary
For the past
five years, elections in Zimbabwe have been characterized by an escalation in
human rights violations.(1) These violations take place before, during and after
elections. The majority of victims are members and supporters of the main
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), including opposition
Members of Parliament (MPs) and opposition candidates. The perpetrators have
largely been supporters of the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union –
Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and members of the security forces.
International researchers have been monitoring the human rights environment in
Zimbabwe as the country approaches the 31 March parliamentary elections.
Although there are fewer reports of politically-motivated violence than has been
the case in previous elections, Amnesty International is concerned that human
rights are being systematically violated in the context of election campaigning.
The organization is also concerned by the level of non-violent intimidation and
harassment that is taking place in the country. This briefing paper is a summary
of Amnesty International’s major concerns.
The human rights backdrop
to the elections Amnesty International’s human rights concerns in respect
of the 31 March elections cannot be viewed in isolation from the broader human
rights context in Zimbabwe. Key elements of this broader context include:
The past five years have been characterized by a serious deterioration in
the human rights situation in Zimbabwe, with widespread and credible reports of
state-sponsored intimidation, arbitrary arrest, torture and attacks on
supporters of the political opposition, human rights defenders and the
Repressive laws that violate freedom of expression, association, assembly
and information remain in place. These include the 2002 Public Order and
Security Act and the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
both of which the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has
recommended should be amended so as to be brought in line with international
human rights law.(2) Two new laws - the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act and
the - as yet unsigned - NGO Act also contain provisions which restrict the
rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and information.(3)
Zimbabwe’s crisis over the rule of law, triggered by repeated flouting of
court orders, harassment of judicial officers and politicization of the police
service, remains unresolved. A culture of impunity persists as thousands of
victims of human rights violations have been deprived of the protection of the
law and denied access to an effective remedy.
State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and
the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). Zimbabwe has also
endorsed the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Principles and
Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which include commitments to ensuring
the full participation of citizens in the political process; freedom of
association; political tolerance; equal opportunity to exercise the right to
vote and be voted for; and the independence of the judiciary.(4)
Human rights violations in the run-up to the parliamentary
elections Violations of the rights to freedom of expression,
association and assembly in the context of election campaigning
rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly have been
systematically violated in Zimbabwe over the past five years, both through the
use of repressive legislation and the actions of the Zimbabwe Republic Police
(ZRP). Amnesty International believes that the clampdown on freedom of
expression, association and assembly forms a key part of government strategy to
silence those who are critical of the government and the human rights abuses
taking place in Zimbabwe.
Amnesty International believes that the police
are using the repressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and arbitrary
arrests to hinder opposition campaigning activities in the run-up to the 31
March parliamentary elections. In the six week period between the end of January
and beginning of March at least eight MDC candidates and the MDC’s Director of
Elections were arrested or detained by police.(5) For example:
MDC candidate for Zengeza, Goodrich Chimbaira, was arrested on 23 January
and charged under POSA for allegedly holding an illegal meeting in his home.
POSA requires that police are notified of public meetings. Goodrich Chimbaira
was detained overnight and released. Police indicated they would proceed by way
of a summons.
On 16 February police raided a training session being run by the MDC for its
candidates in the March elections. The MDC’s Director of Elections, Ian Makoni,
was arrested and charged under POSA with holding an illegal
To the best of Amnesty International’s knowledge no
ZANU-PF candidates have been arrested in the context of the March election
It is not only candidates standing in the elections who have
been targeted. Opposition campaign workers have also been arrested while
engaging in peaceful campaign-related activities, such as checking the voters’
roll.(7) For example:
At the beginning of February an MDC campaigning team comprising some 13
people was arrested in Gwanda after they gave an open palm salute to the Deputy
Foreign Affairs Minister when his vehicle passed by. The open palm is an MDC
symbol. The activists were each fined Z$25,000, allegedly for "insulting" the
On 3 February police detained approximately seven MDC campaign workers who
were going door-to-door checking the voters’ roll in Matebeleland South on
behalf of MDC MP for Matebeleland South, David Coltart. The police, referring to
POSA, allegedly told the campaign workers that the MP should have sought
permission for the activity, although no such requirement exists under POSA. The
group was detained for more than two hours and then released without charge. On
17 February the High Court in Bulawayo granted an order instructing the police
not to prevent or interfere with David Coltart’s attempts to verify the voters'
roll for his constituency. However, within days of the court order being handed
down police again detained three of David Coltart’s campaign workers. They were
held for several hours before being released without
The ability to exercise the rights to freedom of
expression, association and assembly is fundamental to the establishment of a
climate in which all citizens can exercise their right to take part in the
conduct of public affairs, freely and without fear. Amnesty International
believes that the Government of Zimbabwe is systematically violating these human
Politically-motivated violence Amnesty International
has received reports of beatings and violent attacks committed in the context of
the current election campaign. For example, in January ruling party supporters
in Chipingi South in Manicaland, attacked and burnt the homes of MDC supporters.
Several people, including children, were reportedly beaten and some fled across
the border into Mozambique. Some 40 people are believed to remain in Mozambique,
afraid to return to the area fearing further victimization. Amnesty
International understands that police have arrested several people in connection
with the attacks.
Reports of violence and intimidation in some high
density suburbs are also of concern. In February 2005 Amnesty International
spoke to residents of Chitungwiza, an area on the outskirts of Harare, who said
that they could not move about after dark for fear of intimidation and assault
by ZANU-PF supporters, youth militia(9) and soldiers. The residents – who asked
not to be named for fear of reprisal – reported that violence against real or
perceived MDC supporters in Chitungwiza was orchestrated by specific ruling
party supporters whose activities were known to the police.
reports notwithstanding, there have been significantly fewer reports of
politically-motivated violence in the run-up to the March elections than was the
case with the elections in 2000 and 2002. Numerous human rights monitors and
victims of past violence expressed the view that the current reduction in
violence is part of a government strategy to ensure the elections are free from
overt political violence, while using implicit threats and non-violent tactics
to intimidate voters.
Amnesty International’s investigations suggest that
human rights abuses may be under-reported in some areas. Victims of violence in
Chitungwiza, for example, stated that they did not report all acts of violence
to the police or human rights organizations because they believed no action
would be taken against the perpetrators. Amnesty International believes that
fear of reprisal also contributes to under-reporting. Several people to whom
Amnesty International spoke in February 2005 referred to the intimidating
presence of youth militia and soldiers at or near police stations in
Food and elections: a pattern of abuse The use
of food as an instrument of political pressure is prohibited in international
human rights law, as is discrimination on the basis of real or perceived
political affiliation. Over the past two years Amnesty International and many
other organizations have documented and reported on the use of food to
manipulate voters in elections in Zimbabwe.
Between 2002 and 2004, as a
consequence of poor harvests, Zimbabwe needed and received significant amounts
of international food aid. However, in May 2004 the government claimed Zimbabwe
had had a "bumper" harvest and told the UN and international donors the country
no longer needed food aid. This claim has been widely discredited.(11) Many
areas of Zimbabwe are now experiencing food shortages and hunger.(12) Since most
international food aid stopped in mid 2004 people are now dependent on the
government-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for access to maize – the
staple food of many Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe’s main harvest season is
April/May; March is known locally as the height of the "hungry season", when the
previous harvest has run out and before a new harvest is due. In 2004 Amnesty
International and other human rights groups expressed concern that a March
election date could allow the government to manipulate people through fear of
hunger ahead of the elections.(13) Amnesty International expressed concern that
some of Zimbabwe’s most chronically food insecure areas – such as parts of
Matebeleland and Manicaland – are also areas where the political opposition is
most popular. People in these areas are particularly vulnerable to manipulation
During February and March 2005 Amnesty International interviewed
people from Matebeleland, Masvingo and Manicaland who all reported that MDC
supporters had difficulty accessing GMB maize. In order to access GMB stocks in
many areas individuals must be on a list which is compiled by the head of the
village, and it is at this point that discrimination is reported to occur.
Several human rights monitors confirmed to Amnesty International that people in
some areas cannot get their names on these lists because they are known to
support the MDC.
An environment of intimidation and fear There
is a pervasive climate of fear in Zimbabwe linked to the elections. Several
sources in different parts of the country reported on the threatening presence
of organized ZANU-PF supporters and youth militia in rural areas and high
density suburbs. These groups are a source of fear because they have been
responsible for numerous violations over the past five years and their actions
are believed to be sanctioned by the government.(14)
In February 2005
Amnesty International spoke to residents of rural areas of Matebeleland and
suburbs of Harare who described recent incidents of intimidation by ruling party
supporters and youth militia, including demanding that individuals produce
ZANU-PF party cards, questioning individuals about their activities and party
loyalty, assaulting individuals and damaging property. Many such incidents go
unreported because people do not believe the police will act to protect
A former MDC activist in Matabeleland South, whose home had been
destroyed by ruling party supporters, told Amnesty International that
intimidation and fear had caused her to "surrender" to ZANU-PF. She described
how, in September 2004, she joined ZANU-PF, "to be safe". She was interrogated
by ZANU-PF supporters about her past involvement with the MDC and then "baptised
with water". However, she believes she is still suspected of supporting the
opposition and told Amnesty International that she plans to move away from her
home for the election period and not to vote "to keep safe".
significant fear is the fear of reprisal following the elections for those who
vote MDC. Following elections in 2000 and 2002 people believed to have voted for
the MDC were subjected to acts of reprisal, including eviction, assault, and
denial of access to food.(15)
Fear of reprisal has been exacerbated by
the fact that people no longer have any faith in the secrecy of their vote. Two
concerns were repeatedly raised with Amnesty International during a visit to
Zimbabwe in February: the use of transparent ballot boxes and the counting of
People have been told that the ballot boxes will be transparent and that
this will mean their vote can be "seen".
Across Zimbabwe ruling party supporters have reportedly told people that
when votes are counted in-situ the proportion of an area that voted for
the MDC will be known, with the implicit threat that reprisal will follow for
those areas that vote MDC.
Amnesty International believes
that the threat of future persecution is credible, given widespread human rights
violations that followed the 2000 and 2002 elections, and the impunity that the
majority of the perpetrators of these violations have
Elections and the toll of impunity The pervasive
climate of fear in Zimbabwe is fuelled by a history of impunity for the
perpetrators of human rights violations. The serious violations and abuses of
human rights during the war of independence from 1965 to 1980, especially by the
government led by Ian Smith, were covered up by the blanket amnesty that
accompanied independence. Gross human rights violations committed by the
Zimbabwe National Army in Matabeleland in the 1980s were subject to an amnesty
in 1988. Clemency Order (1) of 1995, officially excused the
politically-motivated beatings, burning of homes and intimidation perpetrated by
supporters of ZANU-PF during the 1995 elections. Another presidential pardon for
political violence was declared after the June 2000 parliamentary elections:
those involved in human rights violations - such as kidnapping and torture, but
excluding murder, rape and fraud - were placed beyond the reach of the justice
This same culture of impunity is evident in respect of the
violations that have occurred in the past five years. Amnesty International has
documented numerous cases of human rights abuses in which no attempt has been
made to bring the perpetrators to justice.(17) Impunity has been facilitated by
politicisation of the police force and undermining the independence of the
In February 2005 Amnesty International interviewed people
whose human rights had been violated because they had supported the MDC in
previous elections. In each case the victims had not been able to gain relief or
In February 2002, shortly before the presidential elections, an
entire village in Buhera, Manicaland, was forcibly evicted by ZANU-PF supporters
because the villagers were known to support the MDC. In February 2005 Amnesty
International went to Buhera to meet the villagers, who remain displaced, with
families living in temporary shelters. In their new location they have almost no
access to land – their original land is now being used by the ZANU-PF supporters
who evicted them. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) assisted the
villagers to obtain a court order in late 2002 which stated that they should be
allowed to return to their village, but this court order has not been enforced.
The villagers told Amnesty International that appeals to the local authorities
have been fruitless. A local official reportedly told them that if they want
assistance to regain their land they have to join ZANU-PF.
2002 some 60 families in southern Manicaland were forcibly evicted from their
village by ZANU-PF supporters, an act of reprisal because they had voted for the
MDC candidate in the March 2002 presidential elections. Amnesty International
spoke to several of the villagers in February 2005, and they reported that homes
were burnt and people beaten during the evictions. Once again the displaced
villagers obtained a court order to allow them to return home. However, local
authorities have refused to enforce the court order and those evicted have never
been able to return to their village. No-one has ever been charged in connection
with the assaults or the illegal evictions.
Amnesty International is
aware of several other cases similar to those described above. The fact that
those victimised because of their support for the MDC in previous elections have
not been able to access justice or gain relief sends a clear message: those who
support the political opposition can be subjected to human rights violations
with impunity and no possibility of redress. Amnesty International is
concerned that this longstanding climate of impunity is facilitating the
repetition of similar human rights abuses in the run-up to the March 2005
3. Conclusion and recommendations
Article 13 of
the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights states: "Every citizen shall
have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either
directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the
provisions of the law." In its resolution on the Electoral Process and
Participatory Governance, adopted at its 19th Ordinary Session, in Ouagadougou,
Burkina Faso, in 1996 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has
further emphasized that it is the duty of States Parties to the African Charter
to take the necessary measures to preserve and protect the credibility of the
electoral process. In order for citizens to participate freely in elections, the
authorities are responsible for ensuring that all the rights that are pivotal to
such participation can be enjoyed by all without discrimination.
consequence of persistent, long-term and systematic violations of human rights
and the government’s repeated and deliberate failure to bring to justice those
who commit serious human rights violations, Amnesty International does not
believe that all Zimbabweans are currently able to participate in the election
process freely and without fear.
Amnesty International is making the
following recommendations to governments and inter-governmental bodies sending
election monitors to Zimbabwe.
Recommendations to governments and
inter-governmental bodies sending election monitors to Zimbabwe
Ensure that all election monitors have a clear mandate to monitor and
report on those areas of human rights that directly impact on the ability of
people to participate in the election process freely and without fear.
All election monitor delegations should, if possible, include people
trained or experienced in monitoring human rights. Elections monitors should pay
particular attention to the following areas:
The impact of impunity for past human rights violations perpetrated against
members and supporters of the MDC.
Discrimination in access to and distribution of food, particularly in those
areas - such as in the south and east of the country - which experience chronic
The extent to which all people in Zimbabwe have been able to exercise their
rights to freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression throughout
the election period.
The security of all parties, candidates and supporters before, during and
after the elections.
Ensure that election monitors are prepared to raise issues of human
rights violations or police inaction with the authorities and to publicly
condemn human rights violations before, during and after the elections.
Ensure that monitors remain in the country for as long as necessary after
the elections to help ensure that the aftermath is free from acts of reprisal
and to report publicly on any that may occur.
Request that election monitors have access to all sectors of the
population since violations often occur far away from polling stations.
Recommendation to SADC election monitors:
In addition to the recommendations made above Amnesty International urges
all election monitors from the SADC region to adhere to the letter and the
spirit of human rights commitments contained in the SADC Principles and
Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 17th Annual Activity Report,
Annex II, Executive summary of the report of the fact-finding mission to
Zimbabwe 24th to 28th June 2002
(3) For a human rights critique of the
proposed NGO Act see, amongst others: Amnesty International, "NGO Act is a gross
violation of human rights", 10 December 2004, AI Index: AFR 46/039/2004;
International Bar Association, "Analysis of the Zimbabwe Non-governmental
Organizations Bill, 2004", 24 August 2004; Human Rights Watch, "Proposed law on
NGOs would violate basic rights", 4 September 2004; Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, "Zim NGO Bill: Dangerous for human rights defenders", July 2004;
Parliament of Zimbabwe, "Parliamentary Legal Committee adverse report on the NGO
Bill [H.B. 13, 2004]", 9 November 2004. For a human rights critique of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act, see: Human Rights Watch, "Zimbabwe: Electoral
Bill fails to meet benchmarks", 25 November 2004.
(4) Southern African
Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic
(5) MDC candidates and MPs reportedly arrested or
detained from 23 January to 6 March are: MDC MP for Makokoba, Thokozani Khupe,
was arrested on 23 January, held overnight, and charged under POSA with holding
an illegal meeting; MDC candidate for Zengeza, Goodrich Chimbaira, was arrested
23 January under POSA on allegations of holding an illegal meeting; MDC MP for
Kuwadzana, Nelson Chamisa, was arrested on 25 January on allegations of inciting
public violence; MDC candidate for Shamva, Godfrey Chimombe, was arrested on 22
February while putting up posters; MDC candidate for Bindura, Joel Mugariri, was
arrested on 24 February allegedly for putting up campaign posters without
permission; MDC candidate for Zvimba North, Prince Chibanda, was detained on 3
March and held overnight but not charged; MDC candidate for Mount Darwin South,
Henry Chimbiri, was detained by police on 4 March, charged under Miscellaneous
Offences Act and released on payment of a fine; MDC candidate for Mudzi West,
Shorai Tsungu, was reportedly detained by police on 5 March in connection with
allegations that he was responsible for graffiti in 2002. All of these MDC
candidates were released - on bail or after paying fines or without charge.
(6) On 9 March 2005 ZANU-PF Secretary for Information and
Publicity Mr. Nathan Shamuyarira, speaking to Amnesty International by
telephone, said that he was not aware of any ZANU-PF candidates arrested in the
context of the current election campaign.
(7) Interviews with MDC
candidates and activists and human rights defenders, February and March
(8) Interview with Maxwell Zimuto, Information Officer, MDC, March
2005. The activists paid admission of guilt fines under the Miscellaneous
(9) Since 2001 young people trained under the National
Youth Service have been used by ZANU-PF as party militias. For further
information see: Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: The toll of impunity", June
2002, AI Index: AFR 46/034/2002
(10) Graduates of the National Youth
Service are given preference for recruitment in the police. However, Amnesty
International has also received reports of known youth militia members wearing
police uniforms, in circumstances where it is unclear if they are officially
recruited into the police service or simply being given uniforms.
See: Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Food Programme Special Report, 5
July 2004; ZIM VAC "Rural food security and vulnerability assessment", April
2004; Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET), "Rural Food Supplies dwindle", 15
September 2004; See also: WFP Emergency Reports since August 2004 and Parliament
of Zimbabwe, "Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water
Development Rural Resources and Resettlement report on food stocks", presented
to parliament on 10 November 2004.
(12) In January 2005 FEWSNET issued an
emergency alert for Zimbabwe. This is defined as "a significant food security
crisis is occurring, where portions of the population are now, or will soon
become, extremely food insecure and face imminent famine. Decision makers should
give the highest priority to responding to the situations highlighted by this
(13) Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: Power and hunger
– violations of the right to food", October 2004, AI Index: AFR
(14) In some cases ZANU-PF supporters have been arrested,
charged and brought to justice; however the majority of ruling party supporters
who have committed human rights abuses have not been brought to justice. See:
Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: The toll of impunity", June 2002, AI Index:
(15) Amnesty International, "Zimbabwe: The toll of
impunity", June 2002, AI Index: AFR 46/034/2002
Zimbabwe Opposition Challenges Electoral Laws in Court
By Peta Thornycroft Harare 16 March
Zimbabwe's opposition went to to the High Court this week
accusing President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of violating election laws
before the March 31 poll. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says its
court application goes to the heart of what it says are the worst electoral
The MDC launched an urgent application in the Harare High
Court on Monday citing abuse of electoral laws rammed through parliament by
the ruling Zanu PF party in December.
The application says electoral
reforms including the establishment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
which Mr. Mugabe claims is independent, are a sham.
It has called for
all illegal structures created by the Zimbabwe Election Commission be
declared null and void.
Adrian de Bourbon is representing the MDC in a
series of legal challenges. He spoke to VOA before the court papers were
lodged at the High Court and says the electoral logistics are more unfair
than the last parliamentary election in 2000 and the disputed presidential
poll two years later.
"It is going to be worse than 2000 and 2002," he
said. "At that stage there were more local and independent press and a vast
array of observers which were not sufficient to prevent electoral fraud, and
all the more so this time, with few observers they can do what they
The MDC application calls for the disbandment of what it says is
an illegal authority, the National Logistics Committee, which will run
elections and whose members include police commissioner Augustine Chihuri
who openly supports ZANU-PF and self-confessed ruling-party supporter
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede. He was accused of massive electoral
malpractice by international observers in the 2002 presidential
Mr. de Bourbon says electoral procedure at polling stations is
heavily weighted in favor of ZANU-PF. He says there is no independent
authority for voters to immediately complain to if they find fraud or
"We know from the courts from 2000 they have at least six
months for evidence for this to come out which is unrealistic," he added.
"So for six months they can run parliament and even if the election is later
found to be invalid they can say, 'Well we got caught with our fingers in
cookie jar, but it is too late.' The biggest problem is that we do not have
an independent elections system. It is still so weighted so heavily in
favor of the government."
Mr. de Bourbon lodged another High Court
application Tuesday in which he is suing President Mugabe, Zimbabwe's three
electoral authorities and the Minister of Justice, accusing them of failing
to comply with all but one regional electoral principle Zimbabwe agreed to
last August at a summit of the Southern African Development
The Zimbabwe government has not responded to the two legal
challenges lodged with the High Court.
Cosatu protests outside Zimbabwean High Commission
About 50 members of the Congress for South African Trade
Union (Cosatu) and Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad have held a picket
demonstration outside the Zimbabwean High Commission in Pretoria. The group
was protesting against alleged human rights abuses and a flawed electoral
process in Zimbabwe.
The Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad joined the protest
in order to backup Cosatu's call for changes in Zimbabwe. They say they
cannot sit back while the union federation fights on their behalf. The group
says the electoral process in Zimbabwe is in shambles, and that they have no
faith in the election observer teams heading to the country
absolutely no confidence, because they are still not yet in the country and
they still believe that there will be free and fair elections. These
sentiment is even echoed by the President of South Africa so we have lost
confidence in everybody," said J J Sibanda of the Concerned Zimbabweans
Cosatu and the Zimbabweans say they will travel to the
Beitbridge border post on Friday to stage another protest there.
Mugabe asks court to block prisoners' release March 16
2005 at 03:25PM
Harare - Zimbabwe's government on Wednesday urged
the supreme court to overturn a decision by a lower court for the early
release of 62 suspected mercenaries jailed over a coup plot in oil-rich
Equatorial Guinea, their lawyer said.
"The appeal has been
heard this morning in the supreme court and judgment will be handed down by
Monday," the mercenaries' lawyer Alwyn Griebenow told
The Harare High Court two weeks ago slashed the alleged
coup plotters' 12-month sentences, which they are serving at a top security
jail outside the capital.
Lawyers said the men were to be
released after the high court ruling but the state then objected, saying
foreigners were not entitled to suspended sentences.
"You can't suspend a portion of a sentence imposed on a foreigner because it
serves no purpose, you are not able to monitor that they will comply with
the order of good behaviour," said director of prosecutions Joseph
Convicted persons are eligible to a remission of a third
of their sentences in Zimbabwe on condition they do not commit a similar
offence within a specified period.
The group had been preparing
to leave Chikurubi prison - where they have been held following their arrest
in March last year - for deportation to Pretoria.
The 62 are
part of a group of 70 men arrested on March 7 last year at Harare
International airport when their plane stopped over to collect weapons which
they maintain were to be used in guarding mines in the Democratic Republic
But Zimbabwean and South African authorities believed the
men were on their way to Equatorial Guinea to stage a coup to topple
long-time leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Their leader Briton
Simon Mann is serving a four-year sentence after his seven-year jail term
was later reduced, while two pilots who flew the plane to Harare to collect
arms got 16 months on various convictions for violation of immigration and
British businessman Mark Thatcher, who was accused of
partly financing the alleged plot, was recently convicted by a South African
court for violating its anti-mercenary laws and paid a R3-million
In the run-up to Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections on 31
March, 22-year-old receptionist Lucy Gomo (not her real name) is keeping a
diary about life in Harare.
Tuesday 15 March: A huge rain storm
on Saturday has brought some relief to us in the Harare heat. But water has
been a source of complaint, as most homes in the low-density areas of the
capital were without water for three days last week. My cousin, who lives in
these northern suburbs, says it's quite common for the water to be cut off
there. Meanwhile, rumours about maize meal, sugar and cooking oil shortages
are making people jittery, especially those with large families. The police
have been checking garages to make sure petrol - which costs about $3,600
Zimbabwean dollars (70 US cents) a litre - is not being hoarded. I've not
seen any evidence of fuel shortages so far: there are long queues each
morning as I wait to catch my buses to work - but this has always been the
case. There never seems to be enough transport. Yesterday I was shocked to
see three guys walking outside my office wearing opposition white, red and
black T-shirts showing an open palm - the symbol for the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). They didn't seem worried about wearing them at all,
but it's unusual to see people casually supporting the opposition unless
they're gathered in numbers at a political meeting. On the other hand,
ruling party supporters - usually young men - go about their business around
town wearing white T-shirts with black Zanu-PF slogans slashed across them.
I usually see them when I pop into the town centre as I did over the weekend
to check my emails at an internet café where I have an account. It costs
Z$250 (5 US cents) a minute to log on - and the café was packed, with most
of the 50 computers being used. I've heard there are political meetings for
both Zanu-PF and MDC going on and the state-run Herald newspaper says there
have been plenty of Zanu-PF rallies outside Harare - some taking place in
schools - where large donations are given. A friend of mine phoned to say
she'd tracked down a cleaning product similar to the one I usually use -
which I had been fruitlessly searching for - in a shopping centre near where
she works. So instead of going to church this Sunday, I spent the day
washing, ironing... and cleaning the stove.
Zanu PF officials in Nyanga in the eastern border highlands have
embarked on a 'dirty' campaign that is likely to backfire in a desperate bid
to lure voters. Having realized their inability to raise enough youth
militia to run their campaign machinery, the ruling party has allegedly
joined hands with a network of prostitutes operating in the town to
spearhead its election campaign. MDC parliamentary candidate for Nyanga
Douglas Mwonzora said prostitutes from the slum Gonakudzingwa area were
being paid $50 000 per day to disrupt MDC meetings or rallies. So far the
MDC has had 17 rallies in Nyanga. Lately all their rallies have been
disrupted by rowdy groups of prostitutes who invade them and start making
noise by singing and at the same time distributing Zanu PF fliers. This has
forced the MDC to abandon or call off its meetings or rallies. Mwonzora
admitted this was a strategy that caught them off-guard adding that
political violence has flared up in his constituency following a spate of
beatings perpetrated by soldiers based at Tsanga lodge rehabilitation
SW Radio Africa is
still being jammed on it's shortwave frequencies. As we try to overcome this
problem, current information on where to find us on shortwave is carried on
our website www.swradioafrica.com .
But don't forget we've just started broadcasting on 1197 kHz medium-wave in
the mornings - and this signal is not being jammed. This signal is clearly
received in the south of Zimbabwe and work is in process to enhance the
signal further north.
RUSAPE - Business came to
a standstill here on Monday as Zanu PF militants force-marched residents and
workers to attend a political campaign rally addressed by Vice-President
Joyce Mujuru at Makoni Country Club.
Residents and other
employees who called the Daily News Online yesterday narrated how the ruling
party supporters and war veterans moved around the residential areas of
Vengere and Mabvazuva, ordering people to stop whatever they were doing and
go and attend Mujuru's rally.
An Asian businessman who runs
supermarkets in the town told the Daily News Online that all his workers and
himself were forced to close shop for nearly three hours, in order to attend
the Vice-President's rally.
"There was no option," the
businessman said. "The war veterans and the Zanu PF militants came in here
wearing their party regalia and just ordered my workers to go to the rally.
They then came into my office and advised me and my wife to close shop and
join the majority of residents at Makoni Country Club."
employee with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, who
refused to be named, said the previous week they had received several visits
from war veterans and officials from the District Administrator's office
urging people to be present when the Vice-President came.
"There was no way one was going to be absent on Monday," the official said.
"It appeared the ruling party officials and war veterans had a list of all
government workers. We could have been at the rally but really people know
what they want so it does not help much. The most important thing for us is
A resident, who preferred to be identified only as
Chikanda, said they abandoned their vegetable vending business at Vengere
terminus after the ruling party militants invaded the premises and ordered
almost everyone to attend the rally.
"There was nothing we
could do to stop them," he said. "The important thing is that we were not
beaten up. We just obeyed their orders and attended the
Cosmas Chiringa, the District Administrator for Makoni,
was unavailable for comment.
Addressing the gathering,
Mujuru warned civil servants against working with the opposition to
undermine government programmes.
She said: "There are some
civil servants who are working with the opposition to undermine government
programmes. It is surprising to see your employee working against your
interests as an employer. This is unacceptable and every civil servant is
expected to serve his master."
All Zanu PF candidates for the
three Makoni constituencies attended the rally. These are Didymus Mutasa
(Makoni North), Shadreck Chipanga (Makoni East) and Joseph Made (Makoni
HARARE - The United States
ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, says the Washington administration
would recognise any winner of the March 31 poll, if the elections are held
freely and fairly.
Speaking during a Studio 7 programme, Sunday
Newsmaker, broadcast by the Voice of America (VOA) at the weekend, Dell
expressed concern that the elections in Zimbabwe were being held on an
unlevel playing field. He said the Zimbabwe government controlled all of the
institutions involved in the elections and set the rules and terms to adhere
Commenting on the decrease in political violence prior to
the coming election, as compared to the 2000 and 2002 elections, Dell said:
"I believe that the government and President Mugabe's political party very
much understand that they are under intense international scrutiny about the
conduct of these elections. There has been a marked decrease in violence
over the previous two elections, that the opposition forces are being given
more space in which to campaign, therefore they are having a significant
ability to get out there to campaign, to reach the people of
Studio 7, VOA's radio programme aimed at a
Zimbabwean audience, is broadcast in the English, Shona and Ndebele
languages, from transmitters in Botswana. It airs seven days a week at
7:00-8:00 p.m. locally.
VOA recently launched Studio 7 in the
Morning, a half-hour week-day programme broadcast locally at 5:30 a.m. It is
designed to provide listeners with in-depth information on their nation's
March 31 parliamentary elections.
HARARE - The Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of civic groups advocating for
free and fair elections, has castigated the government over the continued
delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and other electoral bodies
in announcing the location of polling stations to be used in the March 31
Addressing journalists at an electoral
briefing at a Harare hotel yesterday, Reginald Matchaba-Hove, the ZESN
chairman, said they were worried that ZEC remained mum over the location of
polling stations, a fortnight before election day.
approach the March 31 parliamentary election, we as ZESN are concerned that
the administrative mechanisms to deal with electoral matters have not been
put in place," Matchaba-Hove said.
"We are going to have
elections in one day. We are more concerned that we do not know as yet where
the polling stations would be located. Under the Electoral Act, the ZEC has
to announce the locations of polling stations within 14 days before the
The ZESN chairman said despite some positive
developments within the electoral framework, they were worried at the role
of the military in the whole electoral set-up.
government has said the military would beef up security but they remained
unsure how the army would react to the outcome of the election in the event
of an opposition victory.
Matchaba-Hove said the government's
refusal to invite independent electoral observers from electoral bodies
within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was bound to
compromise the independence of the reports of mainly government bodies
invited to observe the election.
ZESN expects the government to
accredit about 6 500 of their observers before the polling day. However, the
organisation said they were still unsure whether or not everyone would be
accredited because the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
was yet to respond to their application.
In the 2002
presidential election, the justice ministry accredited only 400 ZESN
observers out of the 12 000 observers which the organisation had trained to
observe the poll.
Addressing the same gathering, Otto Saki, a
lawyer with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the government
of Zimbabwe had yielded to regional pressure after successful lobbying by
Zimbabwe's civic society organisations and opposition political parties to
introduce electoral reforms.
Meanwhile, Patrick Chinamasa,
the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs yesterday told
State-controled media that the government had invited 8 548 observers from
29 Zimbabwe's civic society organisations to observe the March 31
Chinamasa said they had only invited
patriotic organisations that excluded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), which he accused of collaborating with the British government and
other western organisations to ostracise Zimbabwe and effect regime
Commenting on the political environment prior to the
election and the level of political violence, ZESN said the organisation had
in partnership with other human rights organisations started compiling
independent statistics of incidents of political violence.
POLITICS: Zimbabwe's State Media Give With One Hand, Take Away
With Another Sekai Ngara
HARARE, Mar 16 (IPS) - On the face of it, the
new broadcasting regulations issued last month in Zimbabwe were
groundbreaking. For the first time in the history of Zimbabwean elections,
the opposition would be allocated time on state-owned radio and television
in the run-up to a parliamentary poll, scheduled for Mar. 31.
welcomed this as a step towards leveling the country's uneven electoral
playing field: the previous parliamentary poll, in 2000, and presidential
elections in 2002 were marred by widespread violence, most of it directed
against the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
Zimbabwe's four radio stations and single television station,
which have a monopoly on broadcasting, also served up a diet of propaganda
for the ruling ZANU-PF party during the two campaigns - and vilified the
These stations are now obliged to accept campaign
advertisements from opposition parties and candidates. The law also requires
broadcasters to allocate equal time to all parties in which they can discuss
However, critics of the broadcasting amendments
claim they are simply cosmetic - an attempt to give the poll a veneer of
legitimacy. To begin with, says the MDC, the advertising rates - prescribed
by law - have made radio and television adverts unaffordable.
rates are too high, and the broadcasters demand payment up front from us,"
notes party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi. For its part, the ruling party has
flooded radio and television stations with adverts.
Rindai Chipfunda of
the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of non-governmental
organisations (NGOs), complains that when opposition representatives are
given the chance of presenting their party's views about electoral issues on
air, they are sometimes hectored by journalists who for years have acted as
ruling party publicists.
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, an NGO
based in the capital, Harare, also points out that that sustained bias
against the opposition in other news programmes and bulletins belies any
claim that the state broadcaster is becoming truly neutral in its treatment
of the campaign.
In addition, overall coverage remains weighted in
"The news is still biased in favour of the ruling
party. That's where they publicize ruling party campaign activities - and
yet they claim they are not obliged to cover the activities of the
opposition," says Nhlanhla Ngwenya, a spokesman for the monitoring project,
which surveys the output of radio and television stations and the print
media in an effort to improve reporting standards in Zimbabwe.
example of how state media undermine the opposition, Ngwenya cites the
coverage given to the launch of ZANU-PF's election campaign and manifesto
last month. The four-hour proceedings were carried live on television, with
presenters wearing ZANU-PF T-shirts. The campaign launch of the MDC rated no
more than a two-minute news item.
In the 2000 and 2002 elections, the
opposition was given a voice by certain newspapers, notably Zimbabwe's sole
privately-owned daily, the 'Daily News'. (The state-controlled 'Herald'
daily covers opposition activities in much the same way as radio and
television stations do.)
The past few years, however, have seen
government enact repressive legislation that made it increasingly difficult
for independent journalists - already the victims of harassment by
government and its supporters - to operate.
The Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act, passed in March 2002, obliges journalists and
media houses to obtain accreditation from a state-appointed Media and
Information Commission (MIC), or face imprisonment of up to two years. To
date, four publications have been banned by the MIC - including the 'Daily
The last remaining foreign correspondent in Zimbabwe, Andrew
Meldrum of Britain's 'Guardian' newspaper, was expelled from the country in
In addition, the small pool of local writers who work for foreign
media was depleted still further last month, when Angus Shaw of the
Associated Press, Jan Raath - a freelancer for the Times of London - and
Bloomberg News correspondent Brian Latham fled the country.
journalists had feared for their safety after being questioned by police
over allegations of spying, the status of their MIC accreditation - and the
transmission of information considered prejudicial to Zimbabwe.
the print media in Zimbabwe were allowed to operate unhindered, Chipfunda
has doubts about whether they could balance the scales of election coverage
in Zimbabwe. "Urban voters make up only 30 percent of the electorate and the
rural populace relies on the radio for information. So, they should benefit
from the radio programmes," she says.
Themba Nyathi believes that efforts
to make the campaign coverage on state media appear more representative stem
from government's desire to persuade the international community that it is
complying with electoral guidelines set up by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) last year.
Amongst other things, the
guidelines stipulate the need for "Equal opportunity for all political
parties to access the state media".
But Harare resident John Sibindi
questions whether this brief amount of access could really help opposition
groups combat years of disparagement by ZANU-PF.
"People have been
bombarded with lies for so long that for some a few adverts over a few weeks
won't really change their perception of the parties as enemies of the people
of Zimbabwe," he says. (END/2005)
Cuban Physicians to Step up Collaboration in
Harare, Mar 16 (Prensa Latina) A new group of Cuban physicians
that will work in Zimbabwe for a two-year period are stepping up the current
collaboration existing in that field with this African country since
The group of 50 health professionals, including specialists in
integral general medicine, radiologists, nephrologists, surgeons and
graduates on Pharmacy, are assisting people in several hospitals in
Zimbabwe´s farthest zones, where there is a limited lack of medical
This is the fifth Cuban brigade of physicians created as
of the Integral Health Program that is responding a request of the
EDITORIAL March 16, 2005 Posted to the web March 16,
MANY African leaders feel justifiably insulted when rich nations
offer to give them aid, but insist on the countries meeting certain
stringent conditions. One condition is an end to corruption. African leaders
retort that there is corruption even in the richest countries. Corruption is
not peculiar to Africa, they argue.
But the rich nations could react
by pointing out the simple fact that it is the Africans who need aid, not
the rich nations. African leaders also believe that the rich countries ought
to open up their markets to African products, particularly agricultural
produce. In pursuit of this goal, the Africans also demand that the rich
nations stop subsidising their farmers' produce.
impediments which can be overcome, if there is goodwill on both sides. Also,
if there is not too much idea of "them" and "us", there could be a chance
for the programme to succeed.
The African ire over the corruption issue,
while it is understandable, poses a real problem. What, for instance, would
an ordinary African country, ruled by an average leader, do with aid
provided without preconditions?
For some Africans, this would be
extremely dangerous. The record itself is alarming. African leaders who have
acted with discipline with their countries' finances are woefully few. In
fact, the concern of the leaders of the rich nations arises from the record
of corruption among African leaders. Most have linked this to the poverty
which plagues the continent and makes it poorest in the world.
number of countries began their independence with robust economies. Zimbabwe
is a fine example. There are differing opinions on what happened to turn
Zimbabwe, for instance, from one of the most economically stable countries
to a beggar-nation.
To some extent, world trading patterns can determine
the economy of a small country with limited natural resources. Without
products from which to earn foreign currency, such a country has no option
but seek foreign aid, thus perhaps mortgaging its entire future to another
But the impact of corruption can be all-consuming. If the leader
has to be lenient with his corrupt colleagues because without their support
he might lose power, there can be a ripple effect - other politicians will
jump on the bandwagon for the same reason. The entire ruling elite could
then be corrupt, forming a sort of ruling mafia.
Some leaders will
protest at this generalisation, but the poverty on the continent is real
enough. The leaders might deny responsibility, but most of their people
would not accept their denials.
GOVERNMENT has appointed an eight-member committee to
investigate 13 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have failed to
account for more than US$88 million mobilised through the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP).
Seventeen other NGOs successfully met
the March 11 Government deadline by which they were supposed to have
accounted for the funds.
The money was mobilised after the Government
made a consolidated appeal to the international community for humanitarian
assistance in 2003.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister
Cde Paul Mangwana yesterday said he had since appointed a committee of eight
officers to investigate the remaining 13 NGOs.
"I have appointed the
committee according to Section 8 of the Private Voluntary Organisations
(PVO) Act and members of the committee have already been given their terms
of references," the minister said.
He said the committee - which includes
personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department's Serious Frauds Squad
- was scheduled to start work yesterday and would produce a preliminary
report within the next two weeks.
A full report was expected within a
"Those NGOs found to be on the wrong side of the law after the
release of the final report would be handed over for
"However, if criminal cases are unearthed during the course
of the investigation, we will not wait to hand over the perpetrators to the
police for prosecution. If the committee comes across any unregistered NGOs,
then they will also be prosecuted," he said.
Cde Mangwana said the
committee would seek to establish whether the foreign currency received by
the NGOs was handled within the confines of the country's foreign currency
The committee, said Cde Mangwana, was also mandated
to look at the ratio between operational and administrative expenses to
assess whether the money received was used or managed to achieve intended
The Government early this month wrote to the NGOs giving them
March 11 as the deadline by which they should have accounted for the money
or face appropriate action under the PVO Act.
Under the Act, the
minister can either suspend, institute an investigation into the operations
of an NGO or prosecute the offending organisation or its directors for
abusing public funds.
The US$88,7 million was mobilised through the NGOs
after international donors had put in a condition that the money should not
be handled by the Government.
Despite that stipulation, the money was
deemed public funds because it was raised on behalf of the Government and
people of Zimbabwe.
However, last week the minister said the Government's
investigation was not restricted to the 30 named NGOs only, but would be
extended to all NGOs.
The minister said this after a lengthy meeting with
the acting UNDP resident representative, Mr Benard Mokam.
revealed that his ministry had already asked other line ministries to submit
lists of NGOs that they were working with.
In addition, he said, they
also wanted all NGOs to submit annual financial and technical reports that
reflect the money that they receive each year and the activities that they
undertake during each particular year.
"NGOs have a duty to account for
their activities to Government as clearly spelt out in the Private Voluntary
Organisations Act and as is the case with internationally-accepted
"This is what we are simply asking them to do. We are not
fighting them. We simply want to promote a culture of transparency and
accountability," the minister said.
Cde Mangwana also indicated that
his ministry had consulted widely with both the donor community and the UNDP
and both were in total agreement with the Government's position.
Mokam said it was important to note that the Government's position was not
peculiar to Zimbabwe, but was a worldwide practice.
newly-established Electoral Court yesterday nullified results of the
nomination court for Chimanimani and ordered the nomination of candidates
for the constituency to be redone.
This followed an appeal by jailed
Chimanimani Member of Parliament Roy Bennett, who was contesting the
decision by the court to reject his papers.
According to the ruling by
Electoral Court judge, Justice Tendai Uchena, the constituency registrar for
Chimanimani should convene another nomination court to consider papers of
candidates interested in contesting in the constituency on April 4, while
polling would take place on April 30.
In his judgment, Justice Uchena
noted that Bennett was convicted and sentenced by Parliament and the
nomination court had no jurisdiction to reject his nomination
Bennett's lawyer, Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa of Kantor and Immerman,
confirmed the ruling and said the judge had determined that there was
nothing wrong with her client's nomination papers.
She said the judge
had also ruled that her client's papers were in order and complied with
Schedule Three of the Constitution, which deals with requirements for one to
be eligible to stand in a parliamentary election.
Bennett lodged his
appeal with the Electoral Court early this month after last month's
rejection of his papers by the nomination court.
In his application,
Bennett had listed Ms Joyce Munamati, who is the constituency election
officer, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Zanu-PF candidate for the
constituency Dr Samuel Undenge and his wife, Heather Bennett, as
The jailed legislator argued that his disqualification was
improper according to the laid-down election rules. Bennett was jailed for
an effective one year for contempt of Parliament after he assaulted the
Leader of the House and Justice Minister, Cde Patrick Chinamasa.
his response, Mr George Chikumbirike of Chikumbirike and Associates, who
appeared for the constituency election officer and the ZEC, had opposed the
Mr Chikumbirike argued that the relief sought by Bennett
was incompetent, saying it was premised on a misunderstanding of the
relevant provisions of the law governing the conduct of elections.
South Africa's election observers have gone
straight into a hornet's nest in Zimbabwe: the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) has refused to meet them and observers from South
Africa's opposition parties have threatened to fly home. The head of the
South African government observer mission, Labour Minister Membathisi
Mdladlana, provoked an angry reaction from the MDC by announcing on arrival
that everything was set for a free and fair election. The MDC accused him of
"trying to sanitise the illegitimate regime of Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF".
And the Zimbabwean government was last night refusing to accredit the South
African parliamentary observer team as a separate entity. The ANC MPs
proposed that the team be absorbed into the official South African
government team, but opposition MPs said this would compromise their
independence and said they would go home. Last night they were meeting to
try to resolve the problem.
The opposition MPs appeared to be
especially eager not to be associated with the South African government team
after Mdladlana's controversial remarks following a meeting with President
Robert Mugabe on Monday night. These remarks prompted the MDC to cancel a
meeting with Mdladlana, MDC shadow foreign minister Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said, "because we see no point". She said Mdladlana
had already judged the election to be free and fair. MDC secretary-general
Welshman Ncube said earlier that Mdladlana's remarks had shown "an appalling
lack of objectivity. It has become clear that the South African government's
position and mission is to sanitise the illegitimate regime of Robert Mugabe
and Zanu PF. The South African government continues to go out of its way to
act as the servant of Zanu PF repression against the people of Zimbabwe's
struggle for democracy and freedom. The South Africans have let us down.
History will judge them very harshly indeed," he
Meanwhile, MPs from the opposition ACDP, ID, DA, FF, UDM,
UCDP, DA and IFP were deliberating whether to return to South Africa last
night. This was because the Zimbabwean government said it had not invited a
South African parliamentary observer team, only the ANC under James
Motlatsi, the Southern Africa Development Community observer mission now
headed by South African Mineral and Energy Affairs Minister Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka and a South African government delegation headed by Mdladlana.
"Minority party members in the team are of the view that they can under no
circumstances be regarded as forming part of a 'government' delegation," the
Freedom Front's Willie Spies said in a statement. "We are here with a
mandate from and at the expense of parliament. We will remain faithful to
that mandate." Other MPs said absorbing the MPs into the South African
government delegation would violate the principle of separation between the
executive and the legislature.
SA observers to stick it out in Zimbabwe March 16 2005
By Angela Quintal
Harare - South African
opposition members of parliament will stick it out for a few more days in
Zimbabwe, after a row over their status as election observers was resolved
in Harare through nimble diplomatic footwork.
parliamentary delegation flew into Harare - and a good deal of trouble - on
Monday, with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change refusing to meet
them. The ANC MPs on the team also clashed with a representative of the
Zimbabwean Crisis Committee.
At issue was the ZCC representative's
criticism of President Thabo Mbeki and his views on the Zimbabwe
Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, who heads the official
South African government delegation, provoked an angry MDC reaction by
announcing on arrival that everything was set for a free and fair
The MDC accused him of "trying to sanitise the
illegitimate regime of Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF" and refused to meet the
The MP observer team, which was told on its
arrival on Monday that it would not be recognised and would be absorbed in
the official South African government delegation, was finally accredited as
a separate team yesterday.
But it involved diplomatic footwork and
Some of the opposition MPs appeared to be especially
eager not to be associated with the government team as a result of
Mdladlana's remarks after meeting President Robert Mugabe on Monday
These remarks had prompted the MDC to cancel a meeting with
him, said MDC shadow foreign minister Priscilla
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said
Mdladlana's remarks had shown "an appalling lack of
"The SA government continues to go out of its way to
act as the servant of Zanu-PF repression against the people of Zimbabwe's
struggle for democracy and freedom.
"The South Africans have
let us down; history will judge them very harshly indeed."
from the DA, IFP, African Christian Democratic Party, Independent Democrats,
Freedom Front, United Democratic Movement and United Christian Democratic
Party met Mdladlana and ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe late last
An opposition MP said it had been made clear that Goniwe
- who heads the parliamentary delegation - would report daily to the
institution's presiding officers. MPs were also reassured that the R2.5
million from parliament for their mission would not be used by other SA
After threatening to fly home, opposition MPs said
they were prepared to stick it out for a few more days, but would reconsider
MPs joined the official government delegation for two
briefing sessions yesterday.
.. This article
was originally published on page 5 of Cape Argus on March 16, 2005
THE High Court has upheld the
provisional order it granted to settlers challenging their eviction from
Murray Field Farm in Macheke where they settled at the height of farm
occupations in 2000. The Minister of Special Affairs in the Office of the
President responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, John Nkomo,
Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner Augustine
Chihuri - who are the respondents - had sought to evict the settlers from
the farm. High Court Judge Ben Hlatshwayo last month passed an order
upholding a provisional order that was granted by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu
on January 7 this year staying the evictions. Read the order dated
February 16 this year: "Whereupon after reading documents filed of record
and hearing counsel it is ordered that -The provisional order granted on
January 7 2005 be and is hereby confirmed. The respondents shall jointly,
severally and in solidium pay the costs of the suit." The provisional
order that was granted in January stated that the applicants be allowed to
continue residing at Murray Field Farm until they were lawfully evicted or
resettled. It was also ordered that the respondents or anyone acting through
them be interdicted from evicting the applicants or destroying their
dwellings or interfering with their occupation or stay at the farm. The
farmers filed an urgent application in the High Court challenging eviction
from Murray Field Farm on December 31 last year through their lawyer Alec
Muchadehama of Mbizo, Muchadehama and Makoni (case number HC12712/04). In
his founding affidavit, the chairman of the residents' association at Murray
Field Farm, Fanuel Mhlanga, claims that 20 police officers from Macheke
pounced on them on December 20 2004 and ordered everybody to vacate
immediately. "The officer-in-charge and his colleagues said we must go
where we came from. We tried to ask by what and on whose authority the
police were ordering us to go, but they threatened us with assault," Mhlanga
further alleged. The police reportedly returned to the farm next day,
heavily armed, and forced the farmers off. "On 21 December 2004 at about
1100 hours the police officers from Macheke came in a vehicle marked ZRP,
Support Unit. They were 20: nine of them were armed with AK47 assault rifles
while others were wielding truncheons (button sticks). "Among them was
the officer-in-charge of Macheke. They told us to go immediately and anyone
who asked a question or appeared to be not co-operating was thoroughly
assaulted," Mhlanga alleged. He added: "The police then proceeded to torch
our huts using matchsticks. At the other huts the police pointed firearms at
the occupants and ordered them to set their own huts on fire." He said
although the farmers managed to retrieve some of their belongings, a total
of 74 huts went up in smoke. Mhlanga claimed that amid the skirmishes, some
farmers tried to flee but were pursued and severely assaulted by the
cops. He argued that the move was illegal in the absence of a court
ruling. They also said they were not given adequate notice before the
eviction was effected. "Further, the police ought to have treated us like
normal human beings and not as if we had committed any crime," Mhlanga
said. The families claim they occupied Murray Farm in 2000 with the full
backing and knowledge of the government. They insist officials from the
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Department of
Agricultural Research and Extension Services (Arex) pegged the 59 plots they
were occupying, in 2001. They said trouble started when the Murehwa
district administrator started levying the new farmers unit tax. "We
started to hear that the farm was going to be converted into A2 resettlement
scheme and later that it was earmarked for peri-urban agriculture," Mhlanga
said. He said as the original occupants of the farm, they expected to be
allocated plots. He also said the police officers that evicted them claimed
they were following instructions from deputy commissioner Godwin Matanga,
provincial and district administrators, and the governor.
Zanu PF Manicaland THE Zanu PF candidates for Mutare North
and Mutare West, Ellen Gwaradzimba and Christopher Mushowe, jointly
addressed a rally at Maphor Primary School on March 12. The addresses by
the two candidates centred on 'exposing' the MDC as a front for imperialist
forces. Gwaradzimba castigated the MDC for poor roads and water shortages in
Mutare, a city the party controlled. She said the MDC candidate for Mutare
North, Giles Mutsekwa, was targeting the votes of domestic workers in the
low-density suburbs of Mutare by giving them kapenta and soap. Mushowe
addressed another rally at Chipfatsura Primary School on March
Bulawayo The ruling party held a series of campaign meetings in
various constituencies in the province on March 12 and 13, including at
Airport Hall in Makokoba, Elangeni Training Centre in Bulawayo East, and
Emkanyeni in Lobengula/Magwegwe. Matabeleland South governor Angeline
Masuku and the party's candidate for the constituency Molly Mpofu addressed
the Emkanyeni meeting. Masuku urged the gathering to vote for Mpofu and
Zanu PF. She urged party supporters to shun factionalism. Mpofu promised
development projects in the constituency.
Masvingo In Masvingo
Province, Zanu PF held campaign meetings at Bikita Training Centre in Bikita
West, Makanai in Chiredzi South, Ngomahuru Hall in Masvingo South and at
Dekeza Primary School in Zaka West. In Bikita West, the party's candidate,
Claudius Makova narrated his achievements, including construction of roads,
dams, a Net*One booster and the upgrading of schools to Advanced Level
status. He urged people not to vote for the MDC candidate. In Chiredzi
South, ruling party official Baloyi urged the people not to vote for the MDC
and independent candidates. At Ngomahuru, Walter Mzembi promised youths
that they would also benefit from the land reform programme and housing
Midlands Zanu PF held campaign meetings on March 12 at
Gafa grounds in Gweru urban, Mkoba Hall in Mkoba, Mataga Council Hall in
Mberengwa East and at Nyikavanhu in Chirumanzu addressed by the candidates
in the respective constituencies. The upgrading and repairing of roads,
construction of a new mortuary at Gweru Hospital, sourcing of textbooks and
furniture for schools, ensuring of adequate drugs in hospitals and voting
overwhelmingly for Zanu PF were the major themes at the
Midlands The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
held two campaign meetings on March 12 at Gomutu Business Centre in
Mberengwa East and at Rutendo Brick Yard (Redcliff) in Silobela
constituency. Sekai Holland and Abdenico Malinga, the party's candidates for
the constituencies, addressed the meetings. They both articulated their
party's policies as outlined in the manifesto and urged the people to turn
out in their thousands to vote for the MDC.
Manicaland The MDC
candidate for Mutare Central, Innocent Gonese, addressed a rally at
Coronation Park, Sakubva, on March 12. In his address, Gonese criticised
the National Youth Service programme, alleging that youths were being
trained to perpetuate violence. He said that President Robert Mugabe was
distributing computers to schools that had no electricity and described the
move as a political gimmick meant to woo voters.
Central On March 11, the MDC candidate for Guruve South, Biggie Chigonero,
held two rallies at Nyamhondoro Secondary School and at Semeneka Business
Centre, where he castigated Zanu PF candidate, Edward
South Independent candidate for Beitbridge Lloyd Siyoka addressed a campaign
meeting at Chamangana Primary School on March 11. In his address, Siyoka
commended President Robert Mugabe for good leadership qualities and pointed
out that he would return to Zanu PF once elected into office. He promised to
bring development to the constituency by engaging NGOs.
issue date :2005-Mar-17
Zanu PF Mashonaland West THE Zanu PF candidate
for Ngezi constituency Bright Matonga, and the national vice chairman of the
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, Joseph Chinotimba
addressed a campaign rally at Gweshe Business Centre, which was attended by
about 3 000 people on March 10.
Matonga said he had sourced 250
manual water pumps and plans to sink 600 boreholes to alleviate water
problems in the constituency. Chinotimba donated 28 reflective cycling shirts
and 300 coffee mugs to youths who will be using bicycles during
Mashonaland Central Bindura Zanu PF held campaign
meetings on March 13 at the following places: Morebridge Church, Thrums Farm
and Beacon Hall Farm, all in Bindura constituency; at Glendale Country Club
in Mazowe West, Hwata Dip Tank in Muzarabani, Katarira and Kapfidza in Mt
Darwin North, Karoi Farm, Chikokonya Business Centre and Chaiza Village in
Guruve South. The party's respective candidates for the constituencies
addressed the gatherings. Their messages centred on the need for their
campaign teams to desist from engaging in intimidatory speeches and to
persuade people to vote for Zanu PF by highlighting the party's
strengths. At Glendale Country Club, Sabina Zinyemba urged women to rally
behind Vice President Joyce Mujuru by voting for the party in large
numbers. In Bindura, Elliot Manyika blasted the MDC for its imperialist
agenda, adding that Zanu PF was homegrown and people
Matobo The ruling party held
campaign meetings at St Annah School and Mzola Business Centre in Matobo
constituency on March 14. Other meetings were held in the following areas:
Macingweni, Osabeni, Madabe, Sikhlu village in Mangwe constituency;
Kutokwane and Machimbe vilage in Bulilima constituency; Makokwe and Gwanda
DDF Training Centre in Gwanda constituency. The party's candidates, Lungisani
Nleya and Abednigo Ncube addressed the meetings in their respective
constituencies. Eunice Sandi Moyo urged people in Mangwe to vote for Zanu PF
for continuity of development projects. She narrated Zanu PF government's
achievements since independence.
Manicaland Some 15 000 people
attended a rally addressed by Vice President Joyce Mujuru at Makoni Country
Club in Makoni East Constituency on March 14.
Other campaign meetings
were held at Chakohwa Business Centre and Charter Estates in Chimanimani
constituency; St Mathias Tsonzo High School in Mutasa South where 20 000
people were addressed by Vice President Mujuru, and Emerald Primary School
in Chipinge North constituency. In Chimanimani, Samuel Undenge told a
gathering of about 1 000 supporters that Roy and Heather Bennett were in
politics in order to protect their former property, Charleswood
Estate. The candidates for Makoni East and West constituencies all
accompanied the Vice President to the two rallies in the
MDC Harare The MDC held two campaign meetings in the
province on March 13 at Sunningdale football grounds in Harare South
Constituency and at Kuwadzana 3 Car Park in Kuwadzana. James Mushonga,
addressed the Sunningdale meeting, which was attended by about 300
people. In his address, Mushonga accused the Zanu PF government of failing
the nation during the past 25 years. He called on party supporters to
vote for the MDC so that it would garner a two-thirds majority in
parliament, which would enable it to pass a vote of no confidence on
President Robert Mugabe.
The MDC held campaign rallies at
Gunguwo Business Centre in Zaka, Muchakata Business Centre in Masvingo
Central and Makonde Business Centre in Masvingo North on March 13. About
100 at the Zaka meeting were urged to vote for the MDC by Harrison Mudzuri,
the party's candidate. He explained the MDC's policy on the economy, land,
education and health as espoused in the party's election manifesto. At
Muchakata, in Masvingo Central, Femius Chakabuda and Alois Chaimiti praised
the government for implementing Sadc electoral guidelines, adding that they
were campaigning freely. Midlands
MDC held campaign meetings in
Mkoba, Chirumanzu and Kwekwe constituencies. The meeting in Chirumanzu was
held at Lalapanzi Business Centre and was attended by about 100
people. Patrick Kombayi, the party's provincial secretary for information and
publicity, explained the party's manifesto. Kombayi said that an MDC
government would set up an independent Land Commission to oversee the land
reform programme. -
Post to the web on: 16 March 2005 Zimbabwe poll doomed by
puny institutions Dumisani Muleya
LAST week, several
Zimbabwean journalists, including myself, attended an election seminar at
the Johannesburg-based Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in
preparation for Zimbabwe's general election. A senior official of the
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa voiced grave concern about Zimbabwe's
flawed electoral system.
He said that although the media had helped
to expose Zimbabwe's repression, human rights abuses and misrule, it had not
done much in-depth coverage on the electoral process. He said the media
should provide comprehensive coverage to make a clear and compelling case
for reform in Zimbabwe and, in the process, deny regional leaders such as
President Thabo Mbeki an opportunity to claim elections could be free and
fair under current conditions.
True to form, the journalists
reacted defensively, saying they were doing their work effectively. One said
Mbeki's position on Zimbabwe was not really influenced by lack of
information, but by his own political designs, whatever they
In view of this, I felt it might be useful to explore
Zimbabwe's institutional arrangements and electoral process in general ahead
of the March 31 poll.
Elections are not just a function of the
range and quality of liberties guaranteed to voters by the constitution, but
are also defined by the overall institutional framework within which they
take place. Studies have shown that voters' behaviour is largely influenced
by their institutional and sociological environment.
of whether a country is democratic or not is ultimately settled by the
quality of its electoral system.
The primary legislation governing
the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe dates back at least to the
pre-independence Electoral Act of 1979. Even though the act has been amended
many times, its foundation remains.
Five principal bodies run
elections: - the Delimitation Commission; the Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC); the Election Directorate; the registrar-general of
elections' office; and the newly formed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The
Delimitation Commission and the ESC are constitutional, while the other
three are statutory bodies.
The people who serve on these bodies are
appointed by President Robert Mugabe, directly and indirectly. Some are
public servants vulnerable to all sorts of political pressures. Others are
simply ruling party functionaries.
The Delimitation Commission
delineates the boundaries of the 120 constituencies. Its members are
appointed by Mugabe and report to him. It has often been accused of
gerrymandering and is facing this accusation now. This followed its recent
reduction, by four, of constituencies in areas controlled by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. It increased them by the same number in
regions where the ruling Zanu (PF) dominates.
The ESC "supervises"
the registration of voters and conduct of general elections. It "comments"
on proposed electoral laws and reports to Mugabe "as it thinks fit". It is,
in theory, an independent body because, in terms of the constitution, it
"shall not, in the exercise of it functions, be subject to the direction or
control of any person or authority".
However, all its members are
appointed by Mugabe in consultation with the progovernment Judicial Services
Commission and the speaker of parliament, a member of Zanu
But the most serious weakness of the body is not its
composition, but its lack of executive authority to fulfil its mandate. This
is made worse by the fact that it is stuffed with pro-Zanu (PF) people. In
reality, the ESC is just a rubber stamp.
The Election Directorate
co-ordinates activities of government ministries and departments on the
delimiting of constituencies, voter registration and other related
Its chairman is appointed by Mugabe "for his ability and
experience in administration or his professional qualifications".
other members include the registrar-general, who is thoroughly discredited
and works under the home affairs minister, and between two and 10 members
chosen by the justice minister. This means it is Zanu
The registrar-general's office, which compiled
the current controversial voters' roll, works under the home affairs
ministry and is run by public servants, making it politically
Mugabe blocked the Southern African Development
Community technical team of lawyers from assessing Zimbabwe's legal and
institutional framework because it would have shown the electoral system to
be flawed and incapable of supporting free and fair
Coupled with well-documented violence and intimidation,
Zimbabwe's weak electoral system makes it impossible to hold genuine
BUSINESSMAN Phillip Chiyangwa
is still being probed for espionage, despite his removal from remand by the
High Court last month, Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, confirmed
yesterday. In an interview with The Daily Mirror, Gula-Ndebele said the
recent release of Chiyangwa from remand prison by High Court judge Charles
Hungwe did not mean that charges against the outgoing Chinhoyi legislator
had been dropped. The judge freed the former Zanu PF Mashonaland West
provincial chairman from remand prison for lack of evidence linking him to
the espionage charges. "He was removed from remand and the court never said
he should not be investigated on the charges. If one is removed from remand
it does not mean that his case is finished. Once investigations are
completed one would be taken to court," said Gula-Ndebele. On Monday,
Gula-Ndebele was quoted by the international media as having told an
anti-corruption workshop last weekend that Chiyangwa was still under probe
for contravening provisions of the Official Secrets Act, despite the High
Court ruling. He reportedly said: "He (Chiyangwa) has not been acquitted. In
fact, there are new developments as investigations are going on. The true
position is, he was removed from remand but has not been acquitted over
espionage charges. As soon as the present investigations are over, he will
be brought to court." Yesterday, Gula-Ndebele could neither confirm nor
deny making that statement and referred this newspaper to a recording of the
workshop's proceedings. The director of Public Prosecutions, Joseph Musakwa,
also told The Daily Mirror on Tuesday that Chiyangwa was only removed from
remand, but was not acquitted. He said under such circumstances, if
investigations yield more evidence, the accused would be summoned for
prosecution. He could not say whether Chiyangwa was under probe or not, and
referred all questions to the police. Chief police spokesperson,
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, yesterday declined to comment on
Chiyangwa's case. "I cannot comment on that," Bvudzijena said. Chiyangwa
disappeared on December 15 2004 soon after leaving Parliament only to emerge
in court two weeks later facing allegations of selling State secrets to
foreign powers. Other prominent Zimbabweans who were facing similar charges,
ambassador-designate to Mozambique, Godfrey Dzvairo, Zanu PF director of
external affairs Itai Marchi, and banker Tendai Matambanadzo were jailed for
terms of between five and six years each. Zanu PF deputy security chief,
Kenny Karidza is still on trial.
THREE financial institutions are owed a
combined $35 billion, by at least seven mostly horticulture firms that are
liquidation bound, it was revealed at a creditors' meeting held at the High
Court yesterday. Teresa Grimmel of KPMG Chartered Accountants was appointed
the liquidator of the companies. Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe is owed about $32
billion of the claims, while Interfin Merchant Bank and Renaissance Merchant
Bank accounted for $3 billion and $660 million respectively, among a handful
of other creditors. The Master of the High Court approved most of the claims,
made to the seven companies. Proof of claims of two other companies were
however, not effected as the affected creditors failed to turn up to
register their claims at the High Court. Barclays made a claim of $31
billion in Consbuild Private Limited. The claim arose from an overdraft in
the folding company's account. Apparently, Consbuild was a subsidiary of
equally ill-fated Fresca Holdings Private Limited, which was formerly
Africa's largest and most technologically advanced vegetable and dehydration
company. Unfortunately Fresca, which is also winding up its operations and
had also been earmarked to hold its first proof of claims meeting for
creditors yesterday, was one of the subsidiaries of the local stock exchange
listed - but currently suspended - TZI Limited. TZI is run by Edwin Moyo,
who has released a new roadmap for TZI soon after Canvest Farming, otherwise
known as Kondozi, was controversially acquired by government last
year. Barclays further made a claim of about $671 billion from Seltafl
Services, which is also in liquidation. Another financial institution,
Renaissance Merchant Bank, made a claim of $660 million in Hortico Produce,
another horticultural firm based in Harare. The horticultural firm is winding
up its operations as a result of the disruptions that have occurred in the
agricultural sector in the past five years. Hortico had relied on at
least 15 out growers for its European Union (EU)-destined produce. But
the business became unviable following the acquisitions of some of the out
growing farms, in the process depriving the country of critical foreign
currency, another regrettable development responsible for some of the
country's unhealthy macroeconomic fundamentals today. Barteleur Ventures
and Interfin Merchant Bank also lodged claims of about $396 million and $3
billion in Hortico Produce. The two claims from Genesis Investment Bank and
British Cargo Airways of $794 million and $1 billion respectively were
however not approved because the two creditors did not appear at the High
Court to register their claims. Failure to appear or send a representative
before the Master of the High Court on the set date means that the creditors
can register their claims at a latter date. AMN Marketing and Grestyle
Services did not have any creditor but still fall under the direction of
Grimmel as liquidator. Other companies in the process of liquidations such as
Fresca and Barbican Asset Management proof of claims' meetings did not take
place as the dates had been changed.