By Glenn Milne
May 13, 2007 12:00
THE Australian cricket team will be banned by the Federal Government from
its planned forthcoming tour of Zimbabwe.
It is understood Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer wrote to
Australian cricket's governing body, Cricket Australia, yesterday advising
it of his intention to prevent the tour going ahead in September.
In his letter, Mr Downer is understood to have told Cricket Australia he had
been advised by government lawyers that he had the discretion to stop the
Prime Minister John Howard is today expected to announce the unprecedented
decision to ban the tour.
Mr Howard raised the issue with Australian captain Ricky Ponting after the
team returned from its recent triumph at the World Cup in the West Indies.
The Government had argued that if the tour went ahead, it would be used as a
propaganda weapon by Zimbabwe's murderous President Robert Mugabe.
His desperate efforts to hang onto power have scuttled democracy and ruined
the country's once-thriving economy.
Mr Downer told Cricket Australia at a meeting on Thursday the Government's
preference was that the tour not go ahead.
Cricket Australia was reluctant to announce a ban on the one-day series
itself because this would have made it potentially liable for a $2.4 million
compensation payment to Zimbabwe.
The Government's decision to impose the ban extricates Cricket Australia
from its contractual obligation to pay any fine.
There was also some concern that the fine money paid to Zimbabwe would have
gone straight into thepockets of corrupt members of the Mugabe regime.
It is understood there is an out for Australia under the terms of the
The International Cricket Council fines can be waived if player security is
considered to be at risk or if a team is banned from a tour by its own
According to senior sources close to the process, a unilateral withdrawal
from the tour by Cricket Australia could also have had implications for
relations with other cricketing countries.
"A decision by Cricket Australia to impose a ban might have been frowned
upon by other cricketing nations,'' the source said.
"This decision gets Cricket Australia out of a hole.''
Mr Downer outlined his position to ABC radio on Friday, saying: "I think if
the Australian cricket team goes - and the Australian cricket team is the
greatest team in the world - the message that it will, inadvertently, of
course, be sending to the Mugabe regime is that it's not isolated.
"That the world's greatest cricket team is happy to go and participate in a
sports festival there in Zimbabwe ... I don't think that is the right
"And secondly, I know from talking with many Zimbabweans ... they don't want
to see the tour (go ahead) because it willbe seen as a propaganda victory
(to Mr Mugabe's regime).''
After meeting with Mr Downer on Thursday, Cricket Australia chief executive
James Sutherland said that if the Government intervened to stop the tour,
the $2.4 million fine would be waived.
BY WALTER MARWIZI & VALENTINE MAPONGA
THE Pan African Parliament took an unprecedented step on Friday,
voting by a show of hands to send a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe as most
of the world condemned State-sanctioned beatings of human rights lawyers and
Reports from Johannesburg said yesterday the PAP voted overwhelmingly
for a motion tabled by an SA member to send a mission to Zimbabwe to
investigate "allegations of the abuse of human rights".
These related to the arrests, detention, assault and murder of
political activists and members of the media.
The motion was introduced by Suzanne Vos of the Inkatha Freedom Party.
Only 29 members, among them Zimbabweans and others from the SADC
region, opposed the motion which was supported by 149.
The No voters argued that President Thabo Mbeki should be given a
chance to mediate in the crisis.
Protests from Chief Fortune Charumbira and Senator Sheila Mahere from
Zimbabwe largely fell on deaf ears.
But it was not just PAP members who were concerned by an escalation of
brutality against dissenting voices in Zimbabwe. A delegation left for Ghana
last week for a meeting of the African Commission on Human and People's
Rights, where they will present evidence of the State's terror crusade.
The attacks have galvanised domestic and international condemnation
against government's repression.
On Thursday, a high-powered delegation of presidents of law societies
in the region flew into the country to call on the government of President
Robert Mugabe to cease the harassment and intimidation of human rights
lawyers as well as to respect the rule of law.
The visiting lawyers held meetings with senior police officers, the
Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, the permanent secretary in the
Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku and the Judge President Rita Makarau.
The lawyers included Nosidima Ndlovu, Cyril Mapanga, Mabvuto Hara,
Duma Boko, the respective presidents of law societies of South Africa,
Swaziland, Malawi, Botswana, and Norman Tjombe of Namibia.
They rushed to Zimbabwe following reports of the arrests of human
rights lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni.
Commenting on the issues they raised with Zimbabwean authorities,
Ndlovu, head of the Law Society of South Africa said: "As lawyers from the
region, we are very concerned about the independence of the judiciary. Those
reports on the attacks are a blight to the integrity of the country's
judiciary system. The attacks are something that we take very seriously and
we urge respect for the role of lawyers in the judiciary system of any
"We urge restraint on the part of the law enforcement agents. We will
make a formal announcement on our findings in due course and that would
include recommendations on what should happen."
Another member of the delegation, Boko, said the police were denying
they beat up the lawyers.
"We later had a meeting with the affected lawyers and they insist they
were assaulted, harassed and intimidated. Some showed bruises which they say
were as a result of the assaults."
The lawyers said they intended to present a petition to the Minister
of Justice, to protest against the arrests of human rights lawyers
Muchadehama and Makoni.
Beatrice Mtetwa, the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, was
among those picked up by the police and assaulted.
She described in harrowing detail her ordeal at the hands of
gun-totting and truncheon-wielding police officers.
"When we were near the Government Complex, we heard a commotion. The
police were running towards us. We ran into the building, hoping we would be
safe: there is the Justice Ministry and the Attorney General's offices in
there. We were wrong. There were more policemen inside."
Together with Fitzpatrick, an elderly lawyer, Chris Mhike and Colin
Kuhuni, both councillors of the Law Society, Mtetwa was bundled into a
police truck and taken - not to a police station - but to an open area in
Eastlea suburb, opposite Eastview Flats.
"We were dragged out and told to lie down on our stomachs. The whole
thing appeared unreal. Chris (Mhike) started running and few of them ran
after him. And the batons started raining down on us.
"I was beaten by a woman with a beard. I can recognise her if I see
her. She told me takarwa hondo isu. She is the one who did the damage. I
could only cover my head as she beat me up on my back, my stomach, my arms,
my buttocks. It was such a spectacle."
Mtetwa described how passing motorists got the shock of their lives,
seeing police savaging defenceless people on the roadside. She said among
those horrified by this public display of brutality was a police officer
driving a Peugeot 306, who expressed horror at their actions.
"Their superior then ordered them to leave us. I got a last hard kick
and was told now 'go and present your petition with your swollen bodies'."
The lawyers were abandoned on the scene and had to phone colleagues
who picked them up.
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO - Jonathan Moyo destroyed his "promising" future in Zanu PF
by trying to block the appointment of Joice Mujuru as Vice-President,
politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa told the High Court in Bulawayo last week.
The former Minister of State for Information and Publicity was fired
from the government in 2005 after defying Zanu PF by standing in the
parliamentary elections as an independent candidate in Tsholotsho.
At that time his relationship with President Robert Mugabe, who
accused him of being the brains behind the Tsholotsho Declaration, was
Dabengwa, a former Home Affairs minister, told the High Court Moyo
sued him and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, John Nkomo, to "try and
vindicate himself" after the so-called Tsholotsho declaration.
Initially, Moyo was demanding $2 billion each from Dabengwa and Nkomo
for allegedly telling a meeting in Tsholotsho that the former government
spin doctor attempted a "smart coup" on Mugabe and his two vice-presidents.
But he has dropped charges against Dabengwa for "personal and
strategic reasons", adding another dramatic twist to the case which is
expected to expose the power struggles in the faction-riddled Zanu PF.
Responding to questions from Nkomo's lawyer, Francis Chirimuuta,
Dabengwa, now the Zanu PF chairman's chief witness, said he held the former
minister in high esteem until the Tsholotsho group's plans became public.
Moyo allegedly organised a meeting of six Zanu PF provincial chairmen
and ministers to try and block the election of Mujuru as Vice-President and
push for the elevation of Emmerson Mnangagwa to the top post.
"I indeed was surprised that a man of the plaintiff's calibre could
spoil the opportunities that had been made available to him in the party by
doing a thing that went against party procedures," Dabengwa said.
The former PF Zapu intelligence supremo said he had nothing against
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO - Zanu PF national political commissar, Elliot Manyika, was
reportedly dressed down over his mediation efforts in the split Bulawayo
Two weeks ago Manyika was forced to abandon the supervision of the
ruling party's Bulawayo province restructuring exercise after former PF Zapu
heavyweights protested against his involvement, insiders told The Standard.
This comes at a time when the outgoing interim Zanu PF Bulawayo
province has stepped up its war of words with Manyika over the abandoned
elections due last month.
A fortnight ago, Manyika walked out of a meeting to elect a new
provincial executive in Bulawayo after clashing with politburo members,
including former home affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa.
According to politburo sources, the former PF Zapu leaders took
President Mugabe to task at a meeting a fortnight ago questioning Manyika's
role in the factionalism that threatens to tear apart the Bulawayo province.
Manyika is responsible for the organisation of party elections, in his
capacity as political commissar.
He has since stepped down from re-organising the Bulawayo structures,
after the debacle two weeks ago.
Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo, a former senior PF Zapu official, is now
in charge of the restructuring.
"There was heated debate in the politburo over Manyika's involvement
and in the end Mugabe had to tell him to leave Bulawayo alone to sort out
its problems," said the sources.
Yesterday Nkomo was supervising an audit of all the party's district
co-ordinating committees in the province.
But insiders said the process was only being done to endorse the
The interim executive was handpicked by politburo members in the
region and Manyika had stopped the elections last month, saying he needed
evidence that the leadership had the support of the people.
Nkomo addressed a meeting of politburo and central committee members
from Matabeleland at the party's headquarters yesterday morning to brief
them on the latest developments. The meeting was closed to the Press.
The Zanu PF officials later dispersed to their wards where the audits
were conducted and were expected to regroup at the party headquarters later
in the evening.
Zanu PF has been ravaged by factionalism in Bulawayo, mirroring the
infighting at the national level, linked with manoeuvres by camps gunning
for Mugabe's mantle.
Manyika refused to take questions from The Standard.
BY OUR STAFF
MORGAN Tsvangirai, the leader of one faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), has openly urged his former deputy, Gibson Sibanda,
to join him in the struggle against Zanu PF.
In the past, the founding leader of the party has not spoken so
publicly of his desire for unity among the MDC's founding colleagues.
Sibanda was president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
when Tsvangirai was secretary-general. He became deputy president of the MDC
at its formation in 1999, with Tsvangirai as president.
Tsvangirai's public appeal was seen as the first clear sign that his
faction could be willing to forge a united front in the 2008 elections.
For the past few months only Arthur Mutambara, the president of the
faction to which Sibanda belongs, spoke publicly of behind-the-scenes moves
to identify a single opposition candidate to challenge President Robert
Mugabe in next year's presidential race.
Insiders in the Mutambara camp have spoken of their growing impatience
over Tsvangirai's failure to make a public commitment to unity.
But in his eulogy at the graveside of Isaac Matongo in Masarasara
village near Renco Mine, an emotional Tsvangirai turned to Sibanda and spoke
for the first time openly about the need for unity.
Tsvangirai said the chances of uniting with the Mutambara-led faction
were still high, emphasising only a united MDC could defeat Mugabe.
He said the unity that bound them together in the late 1980s should be
revived, as they had managed to successfully confront Mugabe as ZCTU
"We need to have the unity of purpose that we used to enjoy during our
days with Vice- President Gibson Sibanda who is seated there, when we used
to confront government meaningfully through demonstrations and mass
stayaways," he said.
Sibanda could not be reached this week to comment on Tsvangirai's
overtures but there were revelations that his faction was quietly selecting
candidates for next year's local government and House of Assembly elections.
Health delivery at state-run hospitals has deteriorated as the strike
by doctors and nurses entered its third week today. They are demanding more
pay and better working conditions.
Although the Minister of Health and Child Welfare,David Parirenyatwa,
has implied nurses have "absconded" from duty because of steep transport
costs, Standardhealth has been told the nurses began the work stoppage a
The burden of running the hospitals has fallen to students and matrons
since then. Junior medical doctors reportedly joined the strike a week after
nurses had begun theirs.
The strike comes barely two months after they returned to work on the
back of a massive 800% pay hike.
The doctors ended their two-month strike last mo-nth, having downed
stethoscopes in December. The nurses had gone back to work earlier in March,
after successfully negotiating a separate pay and working conditions deal
By consensus, the nurses are the backbone of the country's health
delivery system and run most of the health institutions, especially in
remote and largely undeveloped rural areas.
When Standardhealth visited Harare hospital, which services the high-
density suburbs of Mbare, Highfield, Mufakose, Glen View, Glen Norah and
Lochnivar, there were long, winding queues at the out patients' department.
The few student nurses and matrons dealing with the patients were
clearly overwhelmed. Patients judged to be "not too ill" were advised,
gently, to come back on Monday.
Others who appeared even healthier were advised to come back later,
when the congestion was expected to have eased.
Nurses are reportedly on a monthly salary of about $120 000, while
matrons are getting about $300 000.
In an effort to "normalise" the situation, Parirenyatwa's ministry on
Wednesday raised transport and housing allowances of all nurses at
government health institutions by 220 and 332% respectively.
This will result in matrons receiving $250 000 transport allowance a
month up, from $78 400. But the nurses and doctors told Standardhealth the
offer was completely unacceptable and vowed to continue the work stoppage.
Kuda Nyamutukwa, president of the Hospital Doctors Association said
they had written to their employer of the intention to strike, listing their
demands. Nyamutukwa said although they are following procedure, some doctors
were already on strike. He said he was not surprised because they are "very
BY OUR STAFF
BULAWAYO - The police last week evicted 12 tourists and their children
from a lodge in Matabeleland North as chaos continued on the few remaining
white-owned commercial farms in the province.
David Joubert, who owns the farm and the lodge, told The Standard last
week the police invaded Portwe Estates in Bubi district last Friday and
ordered tourists to vacate the lodge.
Later, they ordered all the 30 farm workers to leave.
The lodge was fully occupied by 12 tourists and their children. Police
also forced the farm manager, Lovemore Muzeza to cancel all lodge bookings
Joubert said: "This is an apparent bid to scare us off the farm,
despite the High Court application we made against them (the police) to
vacate the farm."
Joubert's wife, Margaret, added: "We have lost income for the whole of
June and the coming months after the cancellation of the bookings. The lodge
is usually fully booked during the weekends."
The heavily armed police officers invaded the farm in April, led by
Matabeleland North senior assistant police Commissioner Edmore Veterai,
according to affidavits filed by Joubert in the courts.
The Jouberts are among the few remaining white farmers who have been
asked to leave their properties by the government, after the expiry of a
notice given to them to vacate their properties.
On 20 December last year, the government gave the remaining white
commercial farmers and an unspecified number of blacks "illegally staying on
the farms" until 3 February to vacate their properties.
But the government later rescinded its earlier directive and pledged
to allow the farmers to harvest their crops.
But the Jouberts have not been left in peace. Their troubles started
in February after the police raided the farm and confiscated their hunting
Scores of Zanu PF sympathizers have made frequent visits to the farm
in apparent attempts to force the Jouberts off their land. The police seized
the hunting rifles a few months ago, and have yet to return them.
Augustine Zimbili, the Matabeleland North Police spokesperson could
not be reached for comment.
The farm falls under Obert Mpofu's Bubi-Umguza constituency. Mpofu has
accused the governor, Sithokozile Mathuthu, of protecting white commercial
farmers, a charge she denies.
Mpofu has complained that most of the few remaining white commercial
farmers are in his constituency.
BY VALENTINE MAPONGA
DETERMINED to secure votes from the marginalised farm workers of
foreign descent, Zanu PF's central committee has resolved that all aliens be
granted voting rights ahead of next year's elections.
Zanu PF sources last week said the central committee resolved, among
other issues, that aliens should now be allowed to vote in any election, a
right taken away from them five years ago.
"The registration of the aliens has already been scheduled to start
next month, until the end of July," said the source. "The meeting resolved
to meet officials from the Registrar- General's office to formalise the idea
and that meeting must be held over this weekend."
Zanu PF spokesperson, Nathan Shamuyarira, last week confirmed people
of foreign descent would be allowed to vote.
"Aliens have always voted in our elections and that right was only
taken away from them a few years ago," said Shamuyarira. "That voting right
is now being restored to them and it's not new."
He referred further questions to the Minister of Local Government,
Ignatious Chombo who could not be reached for a comment.
Chombo announced that farmers should compile registers of their
workers for the government to know who needed voter registration and
The about-turn is viewed by the opposition as an attempt to rig the
elections in farms now owned either by Zanu PF officials or people linked to
the ruling party.
"It will be very easy for them to organise the farm workers and force
them to vote for Zanu PF," said MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa. "Polling
stations will be placed right on the farms and they will definitely
intimidate the farm workers."
He said Zanu PF has been changing the rules in order to serve its own
interests. "They are always shifting the goal posts. This clearly shows how
the electoral system is being panel-beaten to ensure Zanu PF wins the 2008
While the move may serve Zanu PF's interests, it could bring relief to
thousands of farm workers who were struggling to obtain Zimbabwe identity
These people are in a particularly difficult situation because their
parents and grandparents who originated from Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia
did not have any Zimbabwean identity particulars themselves.
And when they turn up at the Registrar-General's Offices, they are
often turned away on that basis.
Some of those affected told The Standard in Bindura their lives had
become difficult as a result. They said they were required to produce
identity documents nearly everywhere, yet it was very difficult for them to
obtain the Zimbabwean particulars.
"Our children require birth certificates so that they can go to
school," said Mercy Gambura from Waerera village in Chief Masembura. Gambura
was at SOS offices in Chipadze in Bindura over a week ago where Canada's
Ambassador to Zimbabwe Roxanne Dubé announced the injection of $50 000
Canadian dollars into a project that supports children's rights.
Several women and their children queued to receive assistance from
legal officers from the Justice for Children Trust (JCT) in obtaining birth
certificates for their children.
MOST students now shun writing the discredited Zimbabwe Schools
Examination Council (Zimsec) examinations, preferring the
internationally-acclaimed Cambridge examinations as the country's education
system continues to deteriorate, The Standard has found.
Educationists and teachers last week said the number of students
sitting for Cambridge examinations was rising fast as parents complained of
glaring shortcomings in the localised Zimsec examinations.
The government started the populist localisation of "O" level and
"A"level examinations in 2001.
But the chaotic nature of last year's Zimsec results are a clear
testimony of the extent to which Zimsec has virtually collapsed, teachers
said last week.
Hundreds of students failed to obtain the results for subjects they
sat for while others received "excellent" results for subjects they never
Apart from that, many markers refused to deal with the examinations,
over their paltry fees.
As a consequence, many of the results were announced very late.
The outcome led to the delay in opening of "A" level schools.
The markers said they were given $79 for marking a single "O" level
language paper and $160 for an "A" level paper.
"What can you buy with such little money, which cannot even buy
anything in any shop or from a vendor's market?" one teacher asked.
Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general
Raymond Majongwe confirmed that students were now opting for Cambridge
examinations which he said were more credible and organised.
"Zimsec examinations are completely discredited. A lot of parents are
now registering their children for both examinations but would only sit for
Cambridge. The government has made it mandatory for all students to register
for Zimsec," said Majongwe.
His comments were supported by Association of Trust Schools (ATS)
chairman Jameson Timba.
He said all the 62 schools under ATS tutelage have over the years been
writing Cambridge exams but also register to write the mandatory Zimsec
Timba attributed Zimsec's performance to poor funding and general
"Zimsec as a brand is damaged goods," he said, "and people have no
confidence in it because of exam paper leaks and mix-ups of results. One is
not sure when holding Zimsec results if they are a true reflection of their
Timba suggested that Zimsec and the Higher Education Examination
Council (Hexco) be merged into the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) to create the
UZ Examination Council.
The council would then be given the autonomy to determine economic
examination fees while the State still subsidises marginalised groups by way
of direct grants, he said.
For most schools that write Zimsec exams, pass rates have gone well
below average and are continually declining.
Majongwe said the collapse of the education system has led to the fall
in the pass rate from 65% 10 years ago to 23% in 2005 and 13% last year.
The collapse of Zimsec has created a two-tier education system with
all students from well-to-do families writing Cambridge.
But students from poor families in the urban high-density suburbs and
rural schools remain stuck with the chaotic Zimsec exams.
Zimsec public relations manager Taonaishe Dube had not responded to
questions put to him by the time of going to print.
Former UZ vice-chancellor Professor Gordon Chavunduka said the gains
made in the education sector after independence are rapidly vanishing as the
economic meltdown continues.
After independence the government ensured that education was available
to children living in the rural areas.
Investment in the construction of schools and provision of teachers
meant the number of learning institutions shot up.
"Now, all that has gone," said Chavunduka."We have no education to
talk about in this country. Very soon Zimsec will not be recognised in other
Twenty-seven years on, poorly-paid teachers and students are being
required to buy their own books and stationery.
"Starting this term," said a teacher at a school in Harare, "we are
supposed to buy our own teaching materials and with our paltry salaries I
don't see it working. We will just sit in the classes."
Teacher morale has hit rock bottom due to poor pay. At least 4 500
teachers have left the profession since the beginning of this year.
Efforts to get comment from the Minister of Education and Culture
Aeneas Chigwedere and his permanent secretary Stephen Mahere were
unsuccessful as they were said to be locked up in meetings for the greater
part of last week.
A church-led mediation effort aimed at a negotiated solution to Zimbabwe's
political crisis has been shaken by government claims that the clergy
support the opposition, and that the interdenominational initiative has its
own internal rifts.
A coalition of churches, under the banner of the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign (SZC), has been attempting to bring President Robert Mugabe's
ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
to the negotiating table, to bury their differences and solve the country's
deepening political and economic crises.
SZC made a cocktail of proposals, including constitutional and
electoral reforms, ahead of next year's elections, but government recently
condemned the church leadership as opposition activists pushing a
regime-change agenda in the country.
"When the church movement started last year with the production of a
document, entitled The Zimbabwe We Want, which was embraced by President
Mugabe, we thought an end to the crisis had come," said Luke Sibanda, a
"But, due to infiltration by the ruling party, the movement has
weakened . . . recent statements by government condemning church leaders as
puppets mean Mugabe has closed the door on them," he alleged.
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told IRIN they had ample
evidence that the ongoing prayer meetings organised by the SZC were an
initiative to mount an anti-government crusade, with the intention of
stirring a rebellion.
With inflation at 2 200%, many poverty-stricken Zimbabweans have
sought refuge in religion and, according to observers, churches wield
The SZC is led by influential church leaders, such as the outspoken
Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube and Raymond Motsi of the Presbyterian
Ncube, a critic of the government, said a sense of mistrust had
resulted in a campaign against the church movement. In some instances, he
claimed, state security agents had been deployed in churches to spy on
The church campaign for reforms, which started two years ago,
presented The Zimbabwe We Want to the government last year. But internal
differences have torn it apart: the Roman Catholic churches have been
critical of the crackdown on pro-democracy activists, while Anglican
Churches have remained resolutely behind the ruling party.
Catholic bishops recently distributed a pastoral letter, entitled 'God
Hears the Cry of the Oppressed', urging Mugabe to step down. But their
Anglican counterparts issued their own pastoral letter supporting Mugabe,
and called on the United States and the European Union to lift sanctions,
which they said hurt the poor.
Although there has been discord among church leaders over engaging
with Mugabe, Ncube said prayer remained an integral part of the efforts
being made to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis.
"The whole campaign against churches started when we organised a
prayer meeting in Harare (in March), which was set to be attended by many
peace-loving Zimbabweans, including political leaders. But because
government has become alarmingly paranoid, it responded quickly and beat up
a lot of people, including leader of one faction of opposition Movement for
Democratic Change Morgan Tsvangirai himself," he said.
"What we are doing, as a church countrywide, is to pray for the
nation, which has slid into a pathetic abyss. We even invite Zanu PF leaders
to attend and pray with us, but they refuse," Ncube said. - IRIN.
TWO former inmates have
described the horrendous conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe's prison system,
where prisoners routinely die from illness and starvation, and are urging
human rights organisations to make an independent assessment of the country's
Zimbabwe has roughly 35 000 people incarcerated in 42 jails, but this
is well over their intended capacity of about 17 000 inmates.
The country is in the midst of an economic meltdown, in which the
plight of prisoners seems all but forgotten: inflation is running at 2 200%,
unemployment is above 80% and shortages of electricity, fuel and food are
Moreover, as a consequence of drought and the disruptions to
agriculture caused by President Robert Mugabe's fast-track land reform
programme, which redistributed white-owned farmland to landless blacks, the
staple food, maize, is also in short supply.
John, a recently released inmate who declined to be identified, told
IRIN that there were often food shortages. "In the morning, prisoners drink
a very watery broth made from maize meal, water and salt; in the afternoon
they are fed plain green vegetables with sadza (maize meal porridge), which
is repeated in the evenings."
He said there were times when they had to make do with a single meal a
day, and the food was often so badly prepared that some inmates had stopped
In the capital, Harare, a medical orderly employed by the health
department and working in prison services, revealed that more than one
hundred inmates had died of pellagra at Harare Central and Chikurubi Maximum
prisons since the beginning of the year.
Pellagra is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B3 and trypophan, an
essential amino acid found in meat, poultry, fish and eggs, all foodstuffs
that are no longer available in the canteens of the Zimbabwe Prison
Services, or to employees of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe
The security forces are now served sadza and brown beans, because the
government has insufficient funds to provide other foodstuffs.
The symptoms of pellagra include high sensitivity to sunlight,
aggression, insomnia, weakness and mental confusion, followed by dementia
and, eventually, death.
"There is a disaster waiting to happen, if it is not already
happening - everyday, dead bodies are recovered, especially at Chikurubi
Maximum Prison, where as many as 10 deaths can be recorded in one day.
Health conditions are also terrible, as the Zimbabwe Prison Services has no
money to treat the inmates," the medical orderly, who asked to remain
Tendai, another former inmate of Chikurubi prison, added that the
prison authorities were also no longer able to provide them with toiletries.
"If your relatives do not bring you some soap then you will go on and
develop skin diseases. In addition, the government is no longer able to
provide inmates with prison garb, leaving many to depend on relatives to
supply them with clothes, or be forced to go naked."
In the past three months there was no clean drinking water available
at Chikurubi, Tendai said, because the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, a
parastatal company, did not have the necessary capacity to supply water to
the high-security complex. Water bowsers had been brought to the prisons,
but the water quality was inadequate for drinking.
A recent visit by a delegation of parliamentarians to Chikurubi found
that toilets had not been flushed for weeks because there was no running
water, and pages torn from Bibles were being used as toilet paper. The
unsanitary conditions have made diarrhoea and skin diseases a permanent
feature of prison life.
In response to the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the prison
system, justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government was working
on formulating an open prison system, in which offenders would serve part of
their jail terms at their homes to help decongest the prisons. - IRIN.
By Vusumuzi Sifile, recently in
ONE day in early 2006, Collin Matahi and his friend were drinking at
Saratoga beerhall in Chiredzi, when a stranger approached them with a
tantalising offer: safe passage across the border to South Africa, with the
"guarantee of better fortunes". Going to South Africa is the dream of every
youth in Chiredzi, the sugarcane-growing town which, like all other centres
in the country, has fallen on hard times.
Matahi and his friend grabbed the offer. Less than an hour later,
Khule, the stranger, and the two were on board a truck to Beitbridge, from
where they would cross to South Africa. Khule, The Good Samaritan, funded
the entire trip to ElDorado.
Ten days ago, Matahi was telling Standardhealth a different story,
with no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The Limpopo river flooded, Matahi said, but they still managed to
cross, using ropes."We spent three weeks at the banks of the river, waiting
for the raging waters to subside, but the levels kept rising it appeared,"
said Matahi. "As we waited, someone told us that about 140 people had
drowned downstream while trying to cross. But our colleagues felt we could
still cross, and they approached six guys who were said to be experts.
"These guys gave us a very long rope and we all had our hands tied to
it, and we joined hands and got into the flooded river. Although the water
was very strong, we did cross to the other side. We each paid R100."
Just when their dream was about to turn into reality of reaching The
Promised Land, Matahi said he realised their real nightmare had just begun.
"We walked through a very thick bush, and the only things we could see
were pieces of cloth, showing that people had passed through that bush. We
were still walking when we noticed a person standing on a post that was
higher than where we were walking. He was looking down at us. Before we
could figure out what he was up to, he disappeared. Suddenly, we were
surrounded by a group of people and one of them instructed us to remove our
clothes, and surrender all the money we had.
We tried to resist, which prompted him to go to go into a small cave.
He returned with a human head with dreadlocks. It was clear they had just
beheaded the owner, as the head was smeared with blood.
"He told us the owner was the only person in history who had resisted
their orders," said Matahi.
"If we wanted to end up like him (beheaded), we too could resist.
Everyone removed their clothes and surrendered all their money." With no
clothes and no money, Matahi said he was left with no option but to cross
back to Beitbridge, from where he returned to Chiredzi.
Today, Matahi is one of many youths deported from South Africa, now
accommodated at the Chiredzi Safe Zone, a youth centre run by a number of
organisations to advise youths on the perils of border-jumping and HIV/Aids,
among other hazards. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is
establishing such safe zones at various areas in Chipinge, Chiredzi,
Mwenezi, Plumtree, Beitbridge and Bulawayo, which contribute 70% of all
BY OUR STAFF
THE University of Zimbabwe is collapsing, literally, according to The
A stroll around Zimbabwe's largest and oldest institution of higher
learning is enough to illustrate how the once-hallowed UZ has become what
one student called a "dump", a pale shadow of its former self.
Students have not had lectures for more than 10 weeks and are not sure
if they will be able to sit for examinations this semester.
Both female and male hostels have been without running water for
almost a month and flies buzz merrily around the dirty environment.
The toilets for the New Complex hostels have been blocked for weeks
and students are now resorting to using the nearest bush to relieve
"There is nothing we can do now," said Carrington Gumbo, a student who
stays on campus. "We have made several reports about the situation (of the
toilets) but nothing has been done. Don't be surprised if you hear that
there is a disease outbreak. We are now hopeless."
In the dining halls, there is not much joy for the students either.
The university, now said to be bankrupt, has since stopped providing the
students with their normal breakfast; they are now required to bring their
own sugar and salt for their tea or porridge.
"Before they cut out the breakfast altogether, they were saying at
least 10 students should share a loaf of bread. Eventually, they told us
they would not give us bread. For lunch and supper, it will be just two
spoonfuls of sadza, a tiny piece of meat, swimming in a pool of half-cooked
soup and a portion of boiled cabbages," Gumbo said.
Stella Masikati, a third-year student in the Faculty of Social
Sciences, said she was worried about her chances of graduating this year.
"This year we have only had introductions to lectures and nothing
else," she said. "Some students will be writing their examinations at the
end of this month, but we have not heard any word to that effect. Even if
they want us to write those exams, what will we write about?"
The disgruntlement of the students spilled over into a student
demonstration at the university, which left a trail of destruction last
Thursday. The police subsequently arrested a number of students, accused of
breaking windows at the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, the Library, the Great
Hall, Swinton Dining Hall, and New Complexes 2, 3 and 4.
Munetsi Ruzivo, secretary general of the Association of University
Teachers (AUT), said they were concerned at the way the university was being
run, alleging the authorities had ignored the ongoing lecturers' strike.
"Nobody seems to care and it's getting out of hand. Soon there is
going to be a serious shortage of food for the students. About 25% of the
striking lecturers didn't receive last month's salaries and I don't know how
they selected those people," Ruzivo said.
He said the lecturers would remain on strike until their demands were
met. They went back on strike after the University Council failed to award
them the $1.9 million net pay they demanded for a lecturer and $3.5 million
for a full professor.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Levy Nyagura, was not immediately
available for comment last week as he was reported to be in Maputo,
attending a conference.
At the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in
Bulawayo, the situation was reported to be deteriorating rapidly as well.
Last week, the police violently put down a demonstration by "hungry"
students protesting against steep prices of food and tuition fees. The
police arrested 53 protesters.
The students wanted the university to reduce the price of food in the
canteen, raised to $15 000 from $10 000 for a plate of sadza.
They were also protesting against endless strikes by lecturers and the
mass exodus of academics fleeing poor salaries.
Heavily armed riot police descended on the campus on Wednesday shortly
after the demonstrations started and assaulted a number of students before
bundling them into waiting police trucks.
The students were taken to Bulawayo central police station and were
still in custody as the week ended.
Among those arrested was the NUST Student Representative Council (SRC)
president Clever Bere and Themba Tapenduka, a committee member.
Felix Moyo, the NUST director of information and public relations,
said the students would face a disciplinary hearing "for violating the
"The students held a meeting where they complained about the meal
prices, saying they can't afford them," Moyo said. They then marched to the
canteen and attempted to grab food and eat it for free."
A Bulawayo Police spokesperson confirmed the arrest but could not
provide more information as he was not in his office.
BY OUR STAFF
PARENTS with children at Roosevelt Girls' High School in Harare have
to dig deeper into their pockets as the school now requires them to bring
basic groceries to supplement the boarding fees.
There are reports that more schools are demanding groceries as prices
The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere,
could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of Harare.
But an outraged parent told The Standard apart from the $1.1 million
tuition and levy fees, they were asked to submit two litres of cooking oil,
4kg of rice, six rolls of toilet paper and two 375ml bottles of peanut
butter for each child.
A circular signed by the Roosevelt school headmistress, M C Machumi,
addressed to parents confirmed the new requirement.
"I hope you will pay up all fees and groceries due by 18th May, 2007.
Failure to do so will leave the school with no option but to send your
Many parents were reportedly unhappy with the arrangement since they
had struggled to raise the fees. They said they had raised money for
stationery and uniforms, whose prices had soared.
A snap survey revealed that many boarding schools were considering
reviewing their fees upwards. School authorities cited hyperinflation which
made it impossible for them to formulate budgets for the whole term.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
Bulawayo - The British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Andrew Pocock has ruled
out an immediate change in policy towards the government of President Robert
Mugabe, when Prime Minister, Tony Blair leaves office next month.
Relations between Zimbabwe and her former coloniser deteriorated after
Mugabe's government embarked on a controversial land reform exercise in
Mugabe often blames Blair for the country's economic crisis, saying
his government's refusal to fund the land reform programme forced the
government in Harare to seize white commercial farms without compensation.
Blair's name has featured often in Zanu PF election campaigns, with
Mugabe accusing him of using the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) "to
recolonise" the country.
On Thursday, when Blair announced his impending resignation, the
Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity, Bright Matonga described his
departure as "good riddance". He said he hoped his successor, Gordon Brown
would have "a different approach (towards Zimbabwe), a more humane approach
to things than Tony Blair".
But on Friday, Pocock told The Standard the same "Blair stance" would
be maintained, unless the Mugabe government showed commitment to changing
"It has never been about personalities but about the political
environment in this country," said Pocock. "If there is an evolution in
policies by the government, then there will be a review of our stance
against the government.
The ambassador spoke in an interview after donating library equipment
and textbooks worth $130 million to Madlalenyoni Secondary School in
Ntabazinduna, about 30 km east of Bulawayo.
Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry and International Trade,
speaking during the ceremony, said there was need to mend relations between
the two countries.
BY OUR STAFF
BULAWAYO - A Gwanda magistrate last week failed to sentence a
convicted deputy minister after the government official applied for a
re-trial at the High Court, citing unfair handling of the case.
Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Abednigo
Ncube, found guilty for contravening the Miscellaneous Offences Act, faced a
year in jail or fine or both when he appeared before provincial magistrate
He was convicted of insulting and using abusive and threatening
language against the then acting Gwanda mayor Petros Mukwena for alleging
that he was involved in illegal gold panning.
But the Provincial Magistrate on Monday failed to hand down sentence
after Ncube, through his lawyer, Galen Masiye of Masiye and Associates, made
an application to have his case referred to the High Court after alleging
The hearing has been set down for tomorrow before Gwanda provincial
The Gwanda magistrate had deferred his sentence to last Monday after
the prosecutor Khumbulani Ndlovu indicated he needed more time to check if
Ncube was a first offender.
According to the state case, Ncube on 21 October 2005 visited the
mayor's office in Gwanda, looking for Mukwena.
Upon seeing him, he "used abusive and vulgar" threatening language
The state says with his abusive and threatening language against
Mukwena, he breached Chapter 9: Section 7 (b) of the Miscellaneous Offences
The Standard reported in October 2005 that upon learning of the
small-scale miners' windfall at Caesar East Two Mine, the minister
immediately applied for a mining licence to extract gold from the same
claim. He used the mining licence to evict the panners.
In the story, Mukwena confirmed the incident saying there were pitched
battles between the police and the small-scale miners who refused to leave
the gold claim, resulting in 50 of them being arrested for illegal mining.
Ncube is the MP for Gwanda.
BY OUR STAFF
THE government should speedily reverse the decision to levy duty in
foreign currency on imported goods because it hurts women and families that
they support, a lobby group has said.
Lawyers have advised the move by government is insupportable.
The Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) has reacted angrily to
Statutory Instrument 80A of 2007 saying Zimbabweans have progressively
become poorer due to high inflation rates and heavy unemployment. "Women are
already the poorest of the poor and the statutory instrument will further
impoverish them very heavily," the Coalition said.
Describing Statutory Instrument 80A of 2007, which demands that import
duty for so-called luxury items be paid in foreign currency with immediate
effect, "as retrogressive to economic empowerment" of women and access to
sustainable livelihoods, the WCoZ said it is disturbed by the fact that the
Statutory Instrument ignores Reserve Bank Regulations which stipulate that
Zimbabwe dollars are legal tender.
With an unemployment rate of 80% and with many women and families
depending on the informal sector, WCoZ said that a large number of women are
cross-border traders who scrape a living by trading in small items. Most of
the goods that women sell have been designated as luxury items. These
include suitcases, handbags, leather items, tableware and kitchenware of
wood, jewellery, motor vehicles and parts.
The new regulations will put such women and families out of business
and a livelihood, the WcoZ said.
"It has been common knowledge," the WCoZ said, "that women
cross-border traders sometimes face abuse from ZIMRA officials who sometimes
strip search them and generally harass them as they try to make a livelihood
for themselves. These regulations will further deepen the challenges that
women face in their quest to survive the harsh conditions in Zimbabwe."
The women have found support in the legal fraternity, which says the
Minister erred in promulgating an instrument compelling the payment of duty
in respect of some items in foreign currency
In terms of Section 41 of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act, the
national currency of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean dollar, is legal tender in
Zimbabwe. A person subject to any liability or legal obligation can
discharge and extinguish such liability or legal obligation by tendering
Even where execution process expressed in foreign currency is issued
for the attachment of his property, he can tender Zimbabwean dollars to the
Deputy Sheriff and the Deputy Sheriff will be obliged to accept the
Zimbabwean dollars and return the warrant of execution to the judgment
The legal profession says if the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority were to
institute legal proceedings in an effort to recover duty in respect of any
of the items for which they demand foreign currency, the tender of
Zimbabwean dollars will discharge any liability arising from any judgment
debt. The date of conversion is the date of payment. Conversion is done at
the official exchange rate.
The President of the SADC Lawyers' Association, Sternford Moyo, said
Parliament in 2003, allowed the Minister of Finance to create, by a
statutory instrument, an exception to the rule in the Reserve Bank of
"The nature of the exception," he said, "is that where the item being
imported is a luxury item, the Minister may, by subsidiary legislation,
require that duty in respect of the item be paid for in foreign currency.
The exception is limited to luxurious items. Parliament did not authorise
deviation from the provisions of the Reserve Bank Act in respect of items
which are not luxurious."
Moyo said subsidiary legislation providing for non-luxurious items was
not in conformity with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act and was, in fact,
not authorised by the Finance Act. "Statutory Instruments, being subsidiary
legislation, have to be in conformity with Acts of Parliament. Where they
are not in conformity, they are null and void."
The Minister, Moyo explained, cannot extend the exception given to him
by Parliament by declaring items which are not luxurious in the ordinary and
grammatical understanding of the word "luxury" to be luxuries. When he does
so, he grants unto himself an exception which is wider than the exception
allowed by Parliament. In other words, where designation of an item as a
luxury item may strike an ordinary listener as unreasonable or incorrect or
a misuse of the word "luxury", the designation of an item by the Minister is
outside the powers granted to him by Parliament.
"The second cause for concern," he said, "is that it is unpatriotic
and repugnant to common sense for a government to reject its own currency in
preference to the currency of other nations."
By our staff
THE Southern African Trade Union Council (SATUC) has launched a
campaign to mobilise the region's governments, business and labour sectors
to ensure potential investors abide by their countries' labour laws.
In an interview, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
secretary-general, Wellington Chibebe said the campaign was largely targeted
at curbing the malpractices of Chinese companies.
China, the world's fastest growing economy, is fast dominating other
external investors in the SADC market.
Chibebe said there was enough evidence that the Chinese continue to be
the worst business people in the world, hence the need to closely watch
"At the recent AU Summit for the Labour Sector held in Addis Ababa
from 21-23 April, trade unions and governments agreed that there was no
direct benefit from Chinese investors, not just in Zimbabwe but also in the
SADC region and Africa as a whole.
"It was noted that China is out to exploit Africa's material and human
resources," said Chibebe, "and this has seen them coming here with finished
goods and second-hand products which have led to the collapse of the textile
and clothing industries.
"They just come to reap and in the process flout labour provisions."
Chibebe said the SATUC campaign called on respective authorities to
insist that the Chinese respect labour issues in their host countries.
"The starting point will be that they be read the riot act in terms of
the respective labour laws before they are allowed to operate in any
country," he said.
"The SATUC campaign is launched at the SADC level but there are some
campaigns taking place on national levels. For example, trade unions in
South Africa are up in arms against these people and here in Zimbabwe we are
distributing material to workers and employers in various sectors of the
He said it was unfortunate that the Chinese were not co-operative in
trade union issues.
"Locally, ZCTU has tried to discuss labour issues with Chinese
businesspeople from the textile, clothing and construction industries.
Unfortunately, all attempts have been in vain as they pretend not to
understand English every time they are approached," he said.
Chibebe said regional labour bodies were also concerned by labour
malpractices being exhibited by such companies as Shoprite Holdings.
This South African company, he said, was quickly becoming the dominant
food retailer in Africa, with more than 692 stores in 15 countries.
But Chibebe said of major concern was that about 80% of Shoprite
employees were on casual contracts which remained unrevised even if they
were employed for a long period by the company.
Zimbabwe has recorded cases of labour abuses at Chinese workplaces and
among others was the S&M brickworks case of 2006.
Recent media reports show that China was now the biggest investor in
the country, with at least 35 companies operating and more investors from
the Eastern country eyeing opportunities here.
Chibebe said ZCTU was not aware of any recent government measures
aimed at curbing labour abuses at Chinese companies.
"The government is not coming out clearly on the issue because of the
political relations with China and the Look East policy," he said.
The Minister of the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare,
Nicholas Goche was not immediately available for comment.
BY OUR STAFF
WHILE the rest of the country endures daily power cuts, President
Robert Mugabe and his family have never experienced the inconveniences of
load-shedding, The Standard has been told.
Both of Mugabe official residences, the State House, and his family
home in Borrowdale, are considered "high security properties" and
electricity is rarely disconnected, sources said.
"It is standing rule that the State House is never switched off. It is
not the only area; we have some sections of Borrowdale where senior
government officials live," said a source at Zesa.
The power line to the State House, said the source, is connected at a
sub-station near Crowne Plaza Monomotapa.
Load-shedding has affected businesses in most parts of the country,
grinding most production to a halt.
Business people who spoke to The Standard last week said continued
power cuts had made planning difficult, adding they had suffered heavy
losses which they feared they might not recover from.
Among the worst affected businesses are those selling perishables,
such as fruit, milk, opaque beer and meat.
"On several occasions, I have had to throw away meat because it would
have gone bad due to the prolonged absence of electricity," said one butcher
at Kambuzuma section 5 shopping centre in Harare.
People have also raised concern over the long duration of the power
Zesa corporate affairs manager James Maridadi said important
institutions such as the State House, hospitals, police stations, radio
stations, and waterworks were rarely switched off during load-shedding.
"These are security areas and they are not supposed to be switched
off," he said.
Maridadi said there was always an alternative source of energy in case
important institutions developed an electrical fault.
He said Zesa has cut power to Mugabe's residence in Borrowdale "just
as we do in Mbare. But we get fewer complaints from people in Borrowdale
because they have generators, unlike people in high-density suburbs".
The country augments electricity supplies with imports from South
Africa's Eskom, Mozambique's Cahora Bassa and Snel in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC).
At peak demand, especially in winter, Zimbabwe needs about 2 000
Hwange and Kariba South power stations, when at full capacity, can
only generate 920 megawatts and 666 megawatts respectively.
Power cuts have been necessitated by the critical shortage of foreign
currency, which has affected the country for the past seven years. This
coincides with the beginning of the land reform chaos.
But Mozambique said last week it could be forced to eventually switch
off Zimbabwe for defaulting on electricity payments amounting to US$55
million for supplies although Maputo sympathised with President Robert
Mugabe's government which is gripped by a serious economic crisis, Zimonline
Mozambique's two power concerns Electricidade de Mozambique (EDM) and
Cahora Bassa supply more than 300 megawatts of electricity to Zimbabwe.
Imports from Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Democratic Republic of the
Congo meet 40% of Zimbabwe's electricity demand.
The statement by Mozambique came as ZESA Holdings tried to ease
concerns over its decision to divert most electricity to winter wheat
production, which would leave households facing massive power cuts.
"We understand Zimbabwe's situation as of now, but we want them to pay
because we should be using the money to fund other local projects, we want
to see the debt paid," Adelino Muchanga, spokesman for EDM said.
A Zimbabwe government notice published on Wednesday announced a new
power cut programme as the struggling ZESA battles to shift supplies to
irrigate the winter wheat crop in the face of increasing food shortages.
The southern African country is experiencing frequent power cuts due
to the declining capacity of its ageing power plants and serious shortages
of foreign exchange which have hit imports.
Zimbabwe requires US$2 billion for new equipment and to expand
production at the country's two main power plants and ease shortages that
have also affected industrial production and contributed to the economic
LAST week's unprovoked assault on lawyers by security agents is a clear
signal that the government will not tolerate any opposition to its rule or
those who defend victims of State excesses.
Beatrice Mtetwa, President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, and three other
members of the society were arrested and then carted off to a public area in
Eastlea where they were viciously assaulted by terror squads in broad
In brutally assaulting the lawyers in public the government wanted to send a
clear message to Zimbabweans that President Robert Mugabe's threat that they
would be bashed (dashurwa) was taken by the police as an instruction.
The attacks coming so soon after the shocking episode of State brutality
against leaders of the opposition and civic society on 3/11 was clearly
meant to spell out the government's terror agenda ahead of next year's
watershed polls. These events are set against the background of about 300
people arrested unlawfully in February, nearly 200 cases of assault by State
agents, and almost 100 reported cases of torture.
The law officers were assaulted for participating in a peaceful march
against the unlawful detention of two of their colleagues, Alec Muchadehama
and Andrew Makoni, who are representing opposition activists. The two were
arrested for carrying out their duties as officers of the court in what
represents the most egregious example of the breakdown of the rule of law to
What is tragic about the attacks against lawyers is the deafening silence
from the judiciary and its apparent willingness to condone brazen defiance
of court rulings by State security agents. This is not only happening on
SADC's watch but also provides a clear violation of SADC principles on
The government is aware of the enormous challenge it faces going into next
year's elections. It has obviously decided that naked State terror coupled
with outright duplicity will be employed in order to secure victory.
There is deceit in that while the government says it agrees to mediation by
SADC it nevertheless has gone ahead and pre-empted any recommendations from
the regional grouping.
The one explanation why the government is anxious that Zimbabweans it has
previously disenfranchised should be able to vote next year is because it
will be implementing a new rigging method.
The Minister of Local Government has called for the formation of ruling
party cells ahead of local government polls in January next year. In fact,
this is part of a plan that seeks to create "no-go areas" throughout the
country in the hope of intimidating whole communities into supporting Zanu
The condition on which previously disenfranchised Zimbabweans will be
allowed to take part in the polls next year is that they vote for the ruling
party. The shortage of food will be used to maximum advantage by demanding
votes for grain.
There is deceit in the government's u-turn. It argued a case for
harmonisation of polls on the basis that this would be cost-effective. To
suggest that there should be separate local government elections is to
vitiate the case for holding the elections at the same time.
State violence and electoral manipulation are now widespread. If SADC
continues to turn a blind eye and if President Thabo Mbeki remains silent
there can be no complaint from regional neighbours when Zimbabweans
themselves declare that the beneficiary of such blatantly illegitimate
strategies is himself illegitimate.
sundayopinion by Bill Saidi
MORGAN Freeman, the great Oscar-winning African-American film actor,
once spent time filming in Zimbabwe.
The now defunct Sunday Times, with which I was briefly involved in the
1990s, did a front-page story on him.
He was interviewed by a young reporter who had no idea of his acting
pedigree. I took time to brief her on how he had won an Oscar for his
supporting role in Driving Miss Daisy.
Later, Freeman co-starred with Tim Robbins in The Shawshank
Redemption, a gripping drama about hope.
In fact, it is a story about a one-man prison break. Andrew Dufreine
(Robbins) is a banker wrongfully accused of killing his adulterous wife. He
and "Red" Redding (Freeman) become friends in prison.
One enjoyable scene features Dufreine locking himself in a room in
which the prison loudspeaker system is located. This is after he had spotted
a vinyl record of opera music, which he plays loud enough for the entire
prison population to hear.
The corrupt warden, with not a single musical bone in his body, is
furious. Meanwhile, in the huge prison yard, the convicts pause to listen to
two women singing beautifully, apparently in Italian.
The warden has the door to the room smashed open and evicts Dufreine
straight into solitary confinement.
That is music for you: it can enter your mind, your heart, your soul
and shut out everything else. It takes someone with "soul" to appreciate
good music - not a corrupt prison warden, or a corrupt government which
brutalises its own people.
Which makes us wonder why the government continues to involve itself
in the National Arts Council, recently reshuffled. There are hardly any
governments which can claim to have "the soul" - or the heart - to
appreciate good art, music, literature or drama.
For instance, James Joyce's Ulysses was not published for years
because of Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, which upset the stick-in-the-mud prudes,
taking their cue from the governments.
Cont Mhlanga was punished for Workshop Negative. There was speculation
that the MIDG (Men In Dark Glasses) had planned to ban his latest play, The
Good President. There has been no official reason for the lack of action
against a play which portrays the regime in all its stark, brutal colours of
You may or may not believe this story doing the rounds: the inaction
had a lot to do with the leadership dogfights raging within Zanu PF.
One camp saw how the play might raise their profile while destroying
that of the Robert Mugabe camp.
Another theory was that allowing the play to be staged "in the raw"
would benefit the Mugabe camp. "Look," they would say to the West, "we even
allow plays rubbishing the President to be staged without censorship. Do you
now see why you must lift the infernal sanctions?"
To which a cynic might retort with: "What about The Daily News, The
Daily News on Sunday, The Weekly Times and The Tribune?"
If, in response to that, someone else said: "Ask Tafataona Mahoso,"
then the cynic might say: "May I remind you that Tafataona Mahoso was once
the chairman of the National Arts Council (he resigned in 1992)?"
As any further questions or disclosures might result in a huge
lawsuit, it would be best to leave the matter there, while we are still
It's probably enough to add that any government which dabbles in the
arts as directly as this one does reeks of hypocrisy of the worst kind.
I mean, if you are going to hold "biras" and "galas" and insist this
is the government's contribution to the country's Arts, then you must
forgive us if we respond with a much-used expletive.
The recent changes in the composition of the NAC leadership would seem
to suggest the Minister of Culture, and the Minister of Health and Child
Welfare, ought to be honest and fight for amendment of their respective
The Ministry of Health has the National Aids Council under its wing.
It may have something to do with the acronyms, but both NACs have been
notorious for conducting their affairs as if their missions were to destroy,
rather than strengthen, the fights against both HIV/Aids and ignorance of
To give both agencies a chance to influence and improve the lives of
the people they were created to serve, the government must let them operate
with absolutely no bureaucratic interference.
Bureaucracy has no heart or soul. It's lifeless, like most
politicians, off the soapbox.
sundayopinion by Dennise Kilma
Who is this child next to my window, and what is that in his hand?", I
asked; the reply was curt, and to the point: "That's a street kid. He is
holding sawdust because he may end up eating it due to hunger."
This brief exchange of words took place between myself (an American
exchange student currently studying in South Africa) and a good friend (a
Zimbabwean studying at the same university in South Africa). Having been
granted a one-week Easter Holiday, the opportunity arose to join my friend,
with his family, staying in his house located in a low-density suburb in
This is an account - the writing intended to be as truthful and open
as possible - documenting the perspective of a 20-year-old American
traveller - spending seven enigmatic days in Zimbabwe.
Hitch-hiking to Harare (sitting down behind the truck-driver's seat,
for 11 hours, seated next to 11 people) was one of the most memorable
experiences of my life; the pain and numbness in my buttocks subsided after
a couple of hours, and my presence as "the American" was eventually
discovered, subsequently employing fruitful conversations about America and
The reactions I have received in Africa (having only been here for
three and half months), regarding my nationality, can be categorized as
two-fold: one is the genuine excitement that an American citizen, coming
from a place many Africans would love to travel and see, is in their
country; the second reaction being indifference. Everywhere I have
travelled, the people's personalities have been colourful, the hospitality
impeccable, and the food delicious (sadza and roasted maize being my
America, containing an economy allowing the average citizen ample
leisure commodities (that Americans take for granted e.g. the widespread use
of cars, constant electricity, hot water, and a large selection of general
commodities), the attitudes, work-ethic, and personalities of the American
people are more individualistic, producing a less communal, collectivist
society. Individuals in America usually only give if they trust the bargain
will be reciprocal; this behaviour restricts social development, furthering
the socio-economic gap, as well as promoting the sustenance of ignorance
between race and class.
America is doing little to face these issues directly, due to a
government, and conservative media (the commonly believed myth that American
media is "liberal" needs to be re-examined to a great extent), controlling
the socialisation and indoctrination of the typical American's mind; a
similar problem exemplified overtly in Zimbabwe.
While American individualism allows for financial prosperity,
achievable without garnering knowledge about issues, the world is battling
within a global context (e.g. global warming, torturing in international
terrorist detention centres, the injustice plaguing neo-liberal markets,
etc.), Zimbabwe remains the opposite: the people of Zimbabwe know much about
the issues of the world, with a 97% literacy rate. Zimbabweans love to read;
unfortunately, financial prosperity in Zimbabwe is lacking to allow such a
knowledgeable people a chance to flourish.
While the Zimbabwean government conceals a more accurate approximation
of the country's inflation rate (close to 2 200%), economic hardships
increasingly become more visible (e.g. the street-child eating sawdust). The
hardships slide off the government's policy documents onto the people's
faces: full of morose, directness, and exhaustion - occasionally accompanied
by hope, shown with a genuine smile, decorated in a spirit of passion and
Aside from the direct, visible, destructive effects of Zimbabwe's
economy, the people of Zimbabwe are overwhelmingly impressive human beings;
to struggle through hardships, maintaining the capacity to produce a
contagious laugh or smile, requires an exemplary level of maturity and hope
for a better future. The people of Zimbabwe represent a caste of
peace-loving, generous, trustworthy human beings; the threatening feelings
caused by shameful actions of petty theft, overt criminality, and standard
muggings, are absent amongst the environment in Harare.
It is for this reason that the people of Zimbabwe should be proud, and
the government scared. Zimbabweans are starving, and in the grip of hunger.
Zimbabweans restrain from the actions of crime, theft, and violence; there
is a great desire for the petty criminals in South Africa to learn from
fellow peace-loving Zimbabweans, who abstain from crime, using their energy
towards a more constructive end.
The combination of suppressive, oppressive, and violent regime in
Zimbabwe, coupled with a population of citizens typifying peaceful human
beings, equates an unequivocal sense of tension: walking through Harare, I
felt the anger the people have towards government; simultaneously, walking
through Harare, I felt the love people have towards life.
Such diametrical disposition of opposing forces (i.e. a peace-loving
citizenry marching with malevolence against Mugabe's corrupt rule) teaches a
lesson to any foreigner willing to empathize with the people of Harare -
that lesson being: as human beings, existing in periods of hardship(s), we
should be vigilant to express discontent and hatred towards the party
responsible, not through crime and violence, but through a constructive work
ethic and unity of voice. Zimbabweans understand and embrace a certain work
ethic (more than Americans!), rooted deep in Zimbabwean's current plea for a
more just, egalitarian society; moreover, the Zimbabwean work ethic
exemplifies the fact, that, for some people, nothing is given for free; for
those people, whining is an inefficient option - we must accomplish the task
at hand, for the betterment of society.
Unable to trade American dollars for the Zim dollar on the official
market ($1US equating to $250 Zim), all of my monetary transactions occurred
through the black market (operating an exchange rate of $1US to $15 000
Zim); making transactions on the black market was a fresh experience for me;
moreover, exchanging currency allowed me to understand how difficult the
situation in Zimbabwe truly is: the official market rate currently charges
$8 500 Zim for a loaf of white bread, equating to US$25 - this is
outrageous; in America, a loaf of white bread is averaging US$0.50. Zimbabwe's
black market exemplifies a people exerting pride, constrained by poor
government communication and atrocious foreign policy; moreover, Zimbabwe's
black market showcases a people controlling their country, managing life and
the economic sector where the government is unable (and unwilling) to
Travelling for a week in Zimbabwe, I learned many things: how a people
succeed as government fails; how a human being genuinely smiles, disguising
their empty stomach; how a culture, passionate about life, burdened by
economic hardship, continues with life.
I would now like to thank Zimbabwe's people, for sharing and teaching
foundational principles with me, expressing an outlook on life that is
notoriously healthy. Zimbabwe: those who know your hardships shed tears;
those who read about your life gain inspiration from your stamina, maturity,
and exemplariness; those who govern you will soon understand, that no matter
how much an oppressive regime may try, history has shown-a people united
cannot be broken.
* Denise Kilma is an American student of Political Science and
Philosophy at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
He can be contacted at email@example.com
sundayview by Tendai Biti
ON 12 April 2007 Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) President Morgan
Tsvangirai outlined the systematic unbridled assault that have been
unleashed against the MDC, civic society and activities by Zanu PF regime.
In that statement President Tsvangirai disclosed at the time that 600 party
members had been tortured, abducted between 11 March 2007 and then.
Over 150 members throughout the country had been hospitalised or
victimised at the hands of Robert Mugabe regime and his militia.
Since then the situation has not mitigated, on Monday 30 April 2007
our Manicaland provincial information Officer Pishai Muchauraya was abducted
from Mutare and spend a horrendous week at Harare Remand being tortured and
butchered by State thugs.
The very next day our youth leader Godfrey Kauzani was taken from his
home, bundled into a truck and taken to Beatrice Police station where he was
tortured and brutalised before being released on 3 May 2007.
The very next day the two main lawyers representing MDC activists
since the brutal clampdown began two months ago, Alex Muchadehama and Andrew
Makoni, were taken by the police and unlawfully detained at the horrendous
Matapi Police Station.
Despite three court orders, Robert Mugabe's regime contemptuously
refused to release the human rights lawyers. Eventually a Harare magistrate
court remanded them on 7 May 2007 but comical allegations of obstructing
justice were proffered against them.
The drama did not end there, only on 8 May 2007 about 100 senior
lawyers of Harare gathered at the Harare High Court in a bid to march to the
office of the minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs Patrick
Chinamasa to hand over a petition protesting the arrest and detention of
their professional colleagues Muchadehama and Makoni. The feudal aura
emanating from their gowns did not prevent the police, heavily armed, from
assaulting and roughing up the lawyers gathering at the High Court. Some of
the lawyers who were assaulted by the regime's police include Chris Seddon
of Coghlan and Guest, Innocent Chagonda of Atherton and Cook, MDC Secretary
General Tendai Biti. Immediately then after police bundled four senior
lawyers namely President of the Zimbabwe Law Society Beatrice Mtetwa, Chris
Mhike, Fritz Patrick and Colin Kuhuni into a truck where they took them into
a open field along Samora Machel Avenue close to East 24, and heavily
brutalised and tortured them. Later the lawyers had to be admitted to
Dandaro Hospital for treatment. This is the amazing brutality of this
regime, whose actions shame even the desperate expressions of the settler
regime of Ian Smith.
As if this not enough, the regime with its complicity judiciary
continues to deny bail to MDC members languishing at the Harare remand
prison including heroic Ian Makone MP Paul Madzore, Luke Tamborinyoka,
Morgan Komichi, Piniel Denga, Kudakwashe Matibiri, Brighton Matimba, Solomon
Madzore Tonderai, Barnabas Ndira and Ishmael Kauzani amongst others.
The conditions of these political prisoners continue to deteriorate in
the lice-infected prisons. Many of the detainees include Komichi, who is a
critical condition and is fighting for his life. We lost our chairman Isaac
Matongo last week on 2 May 2007 because of cumulative suffering at the hands
of the dictatorship. That death was caused by unbearable stress induced by
Mugabe's regime; we do not want to lose Komichi, or any of our heroes that
are detained at Harare Remand Prison.
Since 1 March 2007 it is quite clear that the regime has lost it and
can do everything legal or illegal to eliminate the MDC and its allies. The
assault on MDC, non-governmental organisations, the church, and our party
structures is not an accident. These are barbaric acts of a gangster state
whose days are numbered.
We saw this barbarism act in 1978-79 in the last days of that
artificial construction called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. These acts of thuggery are
the birth pains of a new Zimbabwe.
It is imperative that African leaders, in particular the African Union
and SADC, take note, not deaf ears to the current crisis in our country. We
ask the respectively African leaders to call for an extra-ordinary summit on
Zimbabwe which is long overdue to condemn these atrocities put pressure on
the regime to stop the onslaught on democratic forces.
We ask the facilitator of the SADC dialogue, President Thabo Mbeki to
realize that no dialogue can take place in an environment full of fascism
and violence perpetrated by the state. It is our view that turning a blind
eye on this state-sponsored violence and atrocities is tantamount to
We in the MDC will continue to fight for a decisive resolution of the
Zimbabwe crisis, predicated upon a new constitution and removal of all
obstacles to create an environment for free and fair elections. The eventual
realization of the people's will be achieved through the democratic struggle
that we are going through.
* Tendai Biti is Secretary- General of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC
A Presidential attack on the church
AS a good Christian and a dedicated
citizen I think these attacks cannot go unchallenged. It is a pity we have
had to do this in the public press, precisely because this can degenerate
into an attack on the President or the government. My intentions are very
clear - I am neither Zanu PF nor MDC, I am a Catholic (practitioner and
A definition will suffice as a starting point. A pastoral letter is
not a political instrument by the Church but a medium of communication upon
reflection of what will be obtaining in the country - things and issues that
affect the faithful Christians.
When bishops write a pastoral letter, their primary role is to
shepherd the people. A shepherd does not benefit anything by lying to his
sheep and hence the candid nature of the pastoral letter in question. In as
far as I am concerned the bishops set precedence to their letter by clearly
saying it is a "reflection on the word of God" and rooted in the "Christian
The goals of the letter were to give spiritual guidance, light and
hope that calls for a change of hearts and minds towards repentance and
harmony. With this in mind, I do not see where the issue of sanctions, MDC
violence and Archbishop Pius Ncube come in.
That there is conflict is a given. Let us just be honest and realise
the truth. Which house is on fire that the President wants to wait another
six years to quell if there is no conflict? Did Didymus Mutasa not accept
that there are factions in the ruling party? Did not Morgan Tsvangirai admit
that there are two MDC factions? Where does the simple ambuya from
Musengezi, Mutorashanga, Murewa, and Binga belong? What have these ambuyas
to do with all this conflict? It only leaves them torn apart and we dare say
there is no conflict - but there are sanctions? Let us wake up, guys, to the
smell of danger in front of us.
I believe the comments made recently by the President need a little
analysis and guidance so that what is wrong is made clear. I believe there
is no monopoly of wisdom on anybody's part and hence a justification for my
The attack on Catholic Bishops by the President is not an attack on
the Catholics, no. This is an attack on the Church. The Church comprises all
believers, Christian believers in this country. This is the last thing a
president of a country wants to do - to attack the church. I consider it
sacrilegious. The President has insulted his own cradle.
I am afraid this is a typical Macbeth frenzy at seeing the ghost of
the person he had killed. The President has switched off his conscience and
attacked his own mother church. What for, Mr President? Your advisers are
ill-informing you, my President.
The bishops have just done what they have to do -tell their own
President that he is not doing it right.
The pastoral letter calls on the powerful Catholics with whom we share
the body of Christ in church and the next minute they are out there as the
killers and torturers of our people.
Dr Ignatious Chombo, you have just betrayed your Catholicism by making
such a scathing attack on your pastors. Which bishop and which alert priest
would in their normal sense agree that the "tone of the letter is hateful,
unfair, inaccurate, too general and diabolic"?
We know them already - those men of the cloth who dine with you and
enjoy the chaos and suffering of their own people. They are simply
practising "quiet diplomacy" because they are benefiting. They sit on your
boards on the pretext of openness but they are yours already. We do not
acknowledge their contributions to you.
We, the faithful Catholics stand behind our bishops and pray for a
change of heart.
In my view this had nothing to do with Archbishop Ncube. Not at all.
He is just one element, one bishop in the conference. This is the church
speaking and not Archbishop Ncube.
The Catholic Church in Malawi stood up against Kamuzu Banda's tyranny
and succeeded. The church stood against the tricks of Bakili Muluzi and they
succeeded. The Catholic Church in Zambia fought the extension of tyrannical
power by Frederick Chiluba and they succeeded. We are on the right path,
brothers. We will succeed because Christians of my calibre are preaching
that pastoral letter until God hears the cry of the oppressed.
The real enemies of the people
THE real enemies of ordinary Zimbabweans are the individuals who
sat down and thought of handing over the nation's water management and
supply to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.
When the most efficiently run local authority in the country,
Bulawayo City Council rose up and protested they were dismissed as the
opposition's response to anything the government proposes.
But recent debate in the Senate and the spectacular nationwide
failure by ZINWA to supply water to cities and many suburbs in Harare has
amply demonstrated how ill-thought out the decision was.
For once the government cannot blame the failures on Tony Blair
and George W Bush. It is just sheer incompetence! And whoever came up with
the idea that there should be changes to water management is the arch
There are several reasons why the government mooted the idea:
One of them was for the politicians to access the revenue generated by the
water account; and the second - in the case of Harare - was to shield the
political turncoat at Town House from mounting criticism.
The proposal to remove responsibilities to do with street
lighting and road maintenance is an insidious move to ensure that Town House
plays largely a ceremonial role, while their key deliverables have been
farmed out to others. This is the one aspect of the real saboteurs.
The real enemies of the people are those who can at the stroke
of a pen disenfranchise millions of Zimbabweans because they are
Charamba was merely posturing
GEORGE Charamba's pontificating about the unacceptable
remuneration in the media was mere posturing. Probably what he would not
tell us was that the man who came to him near tears was from the national
broadcaster or one of the government-controlled rags in the forlorn hope
that his paymaster would understand him.
On the day the media was supposed to celebrate Press freedom, he
issued dire threats to the media, which bodes ill for the Zimbabwean media.
He gave examples of countries such as China, Russia, Cuba and Iraq having
dealt decisively with errant media. Am I missing something? These countries
are notorious for authoritarianism.
Readers will be reminded how China reacted to the 1989 Tiananmen
protests. As one would say, it's one thing to guarantee free speech in a
country but it's another to guarantee its quality. In the case of the
Zimbabwean media, the buck stops with the government.
T V T
Spare a thought for UZ students
PLEASE spare a thought for students at the University of
Zimbabwe (UZ). What is happening here is just a tip of the iceberg.
For three months now the lecturers have been on strike and
students have not received lectures. It means that there won't be
examinations. There won't be graduation as scheduled.
An average UZ professor is taking home a salary that cannot buy
a pair of shoes. In these three months, an average of 42 professors have
left. In the halls of residency, the students bring their own sugar and salt
The toilets in these halls are not functioning, particularly the
new complexes and the students have resorted to the bush system. They go to
the bushes close to Churchill Road. A health hazard is looming.
The students' executive council was dissolved and sacked by the
authorities and for the first time in history students have no
representatives. What worries one is the silence of the authorities. I do
not think that the Chancellor himself has been put in the correct picture.
Wanted: free and fair polls
IT is just less than a year now before
Zimbabwe goes to the so-called harmonised (Presidential and Parliamentary)
Our main concern as the Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative,
like so many times before is that the situation is nowhere near being
conducive for free and fair elections. Voting may take one or two days, but
there is an exhaustive process leading up to those few days.
The ruling Zanu PF has managed to use violence to win elections
before. Even with the clear use of violence, the SADC monitors have always
declared elections free and fair. The main trick used by the ruling party is
to ensure that the voting days are peaceful, but the lead up to the
elections is where their campaign of violence takes place.
Violence by all political parties must come to an end. We
respect all political parties, but we say stop violence and promote
Also, as a civic group, we are calling for a transitional period
so that the opposition parties will have access to the so-called "no-go
areas". In addition, the current Constitution will not allow an even playing
field. It has been hacked and manipulated so much by the ruling party and
that is why we are saying the people of Zimbabwe must write their own
constitution.We demand a new constitution now!
The Herald (Harare)
12 May 2007
Posted to the web 12 May 2007
AN Iranian company will soon embark on a programme to rehabilitate Feruka
Oil Refinery in Mutare, among a number of projects to be undertaken by firms
from that country, an official said yesterday.
Iranian Ambassador Rasoul Momeni told journalists that feasibility studies
were already underway at the oil refinery.
"Just now, a technical group is carrying out feasibility studies at Feruka
Refinery," he said.
The ambassador was speaking after paying a courtesy call on Vice President
Joseph Msika at his Munhumutapa Office.
The Feruka Oil Refinery was built with assistance from Iran.
Mr Momeni said Iranian companies would embark on a number of projects in
Zimbabwe that included a joint venture with the Industrial Development
Corporation to assemble tractors.
The Iranian government last year availed a US$4 million grant to Zimbabwe
for the tractor-assembling project.
Plans were also at an advanced stage to build two children's hospitals in
Harare and Bulawayo.
Iran has invested in Modzone Textile Factory, provided a 15 million euro
line of credit for 428 tractors, 23 combine harvesters and state-of-the-art
equipment for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings as well as medical
equipment to the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society.
It has also offered Zimbabwe another 20 million euro credit facility for the
agricultural and communication sectors.
Other projects include the Harare-Chitungwiza railway line, Kariba South 7
and 8 Power Station, the Harare-Entebbe-Dubai-Teheran air link and
manufacture of anti-retroviral drugs.