President Robert Mugabe's regime has written the draft constitutional
amendment that Zimbabwe's opposition is demanding before it enters a unity
government and sent it to Thabo Mbeki, the mediator, to review, it has said.
By Sebastien Berger In Johannesburg
Last Updated: 4:28PM GMT 19 Nov 2008
The Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, claimed the document had been
subjected to "scrutiny by the parties concerned".
But the Movement for Democratic Change, which accuses Mr Mugabe of bad faith
over the power-sharing negotiations, said it had not seen it, raising the
possibility of yet another twist in the process from the 84-year-old leader.
"The draft has not been availed to the MDC," said Nelson Chamisa, the MDC
"It is a Zanu-PF draft, we have our own draft. And the two will have to be
merged through collective drafting, we are not going to have Zanu-PF ideas
imposed on the people of Zimbabwe."
According to the MDC the power-sharing agreement itself was altered by
Zanu-PF in between its original initialling and the formal signature
ceremony, and given the importance of the constitutional amendment - which
will define in law Morgan Tsvangirai's powers as prime minister - Mr Mugabe
would undoubtedly prefer his own version to be used.
But it will need a two-thirds majority in parliament to be passed, giving
the MDC a blocking veto as long as its MPs are present.
Mr Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga confirmed he had received the draft
and said he was studying it. "He will be interacting with the Zimbabwean
political parties about the document," he said.
By Nelson Banya Nelson Banya - Wed Nov 19, 8:53 am ET
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has sent a draft copy of a constitutional
amendment giving President Robert Mugabe the power to form a government
unilaterally to mediator Thabo Mbeki for review, the state-run Herald
newspaper said Wednesday.
But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said it had not been
consulted and the draft was solely a ruling party document.
The MDC has refused to enter the government, accusing Mugabe's ruling
ZANU-PF of trying to take the most powerful ministries and freeze out the
MDC -- violating a September 15 power-sharing deal -- leading to a two-month
deadlock in talks over the formation of a cabinet.
Zimbabwe's power-sharing agreement, signed after intense mediation by former
South African President Mbeki, may unravel if Mugabe pushes ahead with the
plan to name a cabinet without opposition agreement, jeopardizing what is
seen as the country's best chance of reversing a deep economic slide.
"Draft Constitutional Amendment Number 19 Bill has been completed and sent
to the mediator in South Africa (Mbeki) after scrutiny by the parties
concerned," the Herald quoted Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu as
In allegations that could fuel political tensions, the MDC said Wednesday
that Zimbabwean police have failed to account for 12 of its members abducted
21 days ago.
"These unlawful arrests, detentions and abductions of MDC activists should
cease as a matter of urgency," the MDC said in a statement.
"The regime has begun a systematic crackdown on the party members in the
country as it tries in vain to solidify trumped-up charges of banditry and
terrorism against MDC supporters."
Police officials were not immediately available for comment.
The MDC said the draft bill would need to be merged with an amendment drawn
up by the opposition.
"The draft has not been availed to the MDC. It is a ZANU-PF draft, we have
our own draft. And the two will have to be merged through collective
drafting, we are not going to have ZANU-PF ideas imposed on the people of
Zimbabwe," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Tuesday that the amendment had no chance
of being passed in parliament, now controlled by the opposition. The MDC won
a parliamentary election in March.
Tsvangirai also won a joint presidential election but without the required
majority to avoid a run-off with Mugabe. The MDC leader boycotted the second
round because of violent attacks on his supporters and Mugabe breezed to an
Ndlovu said Mugabe was still in the process of assembling a new cabinet but
gave no timetable on when it would be announced.
The key contention is the home affairs ministry, which controls the police.
The 15-nation regional group SADC said at a summit earlier this month the
post should be shared, but the MDC refused that suggestion.
Critics accuse Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, of
ruining the country, but the 84-year-old leader says the economy has been
sabotaged by forces opposed to his nationalist stance.
Official inflation is at 231 million percent, food and fuel shortages are
widespread and the Zimbabwean dollar is virtually worthless in a country
once prosperous and seen as southern Africa's breadbasket.
(Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
Posted: 19 November 2008 1925 hrs
HARARE: Zimbabwe's main opposition said on Wednesday it had not seen a
proposed constitutional amendment that would create a post of prime
minister, earmarked for the party's leader under a unity accord.
Under the power-sharing deal signed more than two months ago, opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai would become prime minister while veteran ruler
Robert Mugabe would remain as president.
The government announced late Tuesday it had drafted a text for what would
be Zimbabwe's 19th constitutional amendment, setting out the powers of the
new prime minister.
But Tendai Biti, the secretary general of Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), said the party had not seen the amendment.
"We have not seen the draft constitutional amendment number 19," Biti told
"We don't have it. Even if they say constitutional amendment number 19 is
complete, there are a number of issues which are still outstanding," he
said. They included disputes over how the parties would divide control of
powerful cabinet posts.
Information Minister Sikanyiso Ndlovu said on Tuesday the amendment had been
sent to former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who has mediated in
In the government mouthpiece Herald newspaper on Wednesday, Ndlovu claimed
the bill had received "scrutiny by the parties concerned".
Once the bill had been published, he said, it would undergo a 30-day public
Mugabe would only appoint a cabinet after the public review, he added. The
new legal affairs minister would steer the bill through parliament, which is
now controlled by the MDC.
"The bill cannot be done right away without a cabinet, it cannot go to
parliament if it's not approved by cabinet," added Ndlovu.
The MDC wrestled control of parliament from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party for the
first time in general elections in March.
Although Tsvangirai won the presidential election's first round in March, he
boycotted the June runoff citing state-sponsored violence against his
The two sides are locked in a standoff over the allocation of key ministries
including Home Affairs which controls the police.
HARARE, ZIMBABWE Nov 19 2008 16:04
Zimbabwe's health services, once regarded among the best in Africa, are "in
a state of collapse" with its main hospitals closed and a cholera epidemic
raging, a leading medical body said Wednesday.
The country's four main hospitals, in the capital, Harare, and the western
city of Bulawayo, were "virtually closed", while smaller district hospitals
and municipal clinics "are barely functioning or closed", the Zimbabwe
Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said.
"Sick people in need of attention are being turned away."
Harare's two big state hospitals have withdrawn maternity services, meaning
that women needing to deliver by Caesarean section "will needlessly die in
childbirth", the doctors' association said.
Zimbabwe's only medical school closed on Monday "because it became
impossible to teach in non-functioning health institutions". A cholera
epidemic that broke out early last month caused "hundreds of preventable
deaths" and spread to at least five of the country's 10 provinces, ZADHR
"Ad hoc measures" by President Robert Mugabe's government had done nothing
to deal with the breakdown of water supplies to urban areas where residents
were "surrounded by flowing raw sewage".
The state-owned Chronicle newspaper in Bulawayo reported on Wednesday that
the death toll in the crowded southern border town of Beitbridge had risen
to 44 since the cholera outbreak was discovered there last Friday night.
Officials at the Beitbridge hospital were appealing to relatives to collect
the bodies of the dead, because the hospital mortuary can take only six
"The government should declare the cholera outbreak a national disaster and
solicit international support to bring it under control and restore the
supply of safe water and sanitation systems to Zimbabwe's population," ZADHR
On Tuesday a demonstration by state doctors and nurses over the government's
failure to prevent the collapse of the health system was broken up by
baton-wielding riot police.
Medical officials requesting anonymity say the government has been covering
up the severity of the cholera outbreak and has stopped issuing information
on the spread of the epidemic in some parts of the country.
The state of the country's health sector is symptomatic of a wider economic
collapse under 84-year-old Mugabe.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years, is on the brink of forming a
government over the heads of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), with
whom he had previously agreed to share power.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has declared he will not participate in the
agreement unless Mugabe shares power equally.
Last week state media reported that a draft bill, needed to put the proposed
power-sharing government into effect, had been completed.
The state-controlled daily Herald newspaper quoted Minister of Information
and Publicity Sikhanyiso Ndlovu as saying the draft had been sent for
scrutiny to former South African president Thabo Mbeki, the mediator in
After a 30-day period for public scrutiny, "the president shall appoint a
Cabinet", the minister said. - Sapa-dpa
By CELEAN JACOBSON, Associated Press Writer Celean Jacobson, Associated
Press Writer - 2 hrs 3 mins ago
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - A group of doctors said Wednesday that
President Robert Mugabe's government is to blame for a cholera epidemic
sweeping Zimbabwe and that the disease's spread there is being dramatically
About 160 people have died of cholera in Zimbabwe in recent weeks,
independent aid organizations say. The lack of clean water and poorly
maintained sewage systems have allowed the waterborne intestinal disease to
And as the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe deepens, most hospitals
have been forced to close their doors as they can no longer afford drugs,
equipment or to pay their staff.
"This cholera epidemic is manmade," Dr. Douglas Gwatidza, head of the
Zimbabwean Association of Doctors for Human Rights, said in a telephone call
He said government programs to monitor disease outbreaks were in "disarray."
Those few health facilities still open were trying to stop the spread of
cholera but often at the expense of patients with other diseases.
Gwatidza also said dysentery was becoming increasingly prevalent in a
country already suffering from one of the world's worst AIDS epidemics.
Comment from Zimbabwean authorities was not immediately available Wednesday.
On Tuesday, riot police prevented health workers in the capital, Harare,
from protesting against Zimbabwe's collapsing health care system.
Dr. Primrose Matambanadzo said the government needed to issue an urgent
appeal for assistance.
"There is a state of crisis," she said. "We need things functioning at
Aid groups fear the outbreaks will worsen as the rainy season progresses and
Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, has warned that 1.4
million people are at risk.
The international aid group World Vision said Wednesday that 44 people had
died in the Zimbabwean border town of Beitbridge, including one of their
Beitbridge is one of the regions busiest border crossings and there are
concerns that it is already spreading to other countries. South African
authorities have responded to the crisis with extra medical personnel and
facilities being set up along the border.
Local health officials in Musina on the South African side of the border
said two Zimbabweans died of cholera after crossing into the country while
64 patients were treated last weekend, the Star newspaper reported
Meanwhile, the South African Press Association reported that a South African
truck driver who traveled from Zimbabwe has been admitted to a Durban
hospital, showing symptoms of cholera.
Zimbabwe once had among the best health care systems in sub-Saharan Africa.
But the country's economic meltdown has led to chronic shortages of food and
gasoline, and daily outages of power and water.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, blames Western
sanctions for his country's extreme financial woes. But critics point to
corruption and mismanagement under his increasingly autocratic leadership.
Hopes were raised when Mugabe signed a power-sharing arrangement with the
opposition in September, but little progress has been made toward setting up
a unity government.
2 hrs 1 min ago
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South Africa has treated 68 cholera patients since the
weekend in a town by the border with Zimbabwe, where the disease has killed
dozens of people in recent weeks, a health official said Wednesday.
"Since Saturday, we have received and treated a total of 68 cholera patients
from Zimbabwe," said Phuti Selobi, spokesman for the health department in
the town of Musina said.
"Sixty-six of them are Zimbabweans while two others are South Africans
engaged in cross-border business," Selobi told AFP.
"Only 14 of them are still in the hospital," he added, noting that no one
has died of cholera in South Africa.
Musina is a sprawling town near the main border crossing between the
countries. Zimbabwe has suffered 73 cholera deaths in the latest outbreak,
caused by the breakdown of sanitation in the country.
"We have set up a rehydration centre near the border to handle cases and to
relieve the hospital. Not all patients need to visit a hospital to get
cholera treated," Selobi said.
He insisted that South Africa did not face a cholera threat because the two
countries do not share a common water source.
Up to 1.4 million people in Zimbabwe are at risk of the water-borne disease,
Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday.
State media in Zimbabwe said Tuesday that 36 people have died since Friday
in Beitbridge, just across the border from Musina.
Zimbabwe's health system, once among the best in Africa, has collapsed under
the weight of the world's highest inflation rate, last estimated at 231
million percent in July.
Cholera is endemic in parts of rural Zimbabwe, but had been rare in the
cities, where most homes have piped water and flush toilets.
But after years of economic crisis, the nation's infrastructure is breaking
down, leaving many people without access to clean water or proper
Wed Nov 19, 11:35 am ET
Today, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and Zimbabwean health professionals
warned of a public health catastrophe in Zimbabwe and urged an international
Cambridge, MA (Vocus) November 19, 2008 -- Today, Physicians for Human
Rights (PHR) and Zimbabwean health professionals warned of a public health
catastrophe in Zimbabwe and urged an international crisis response. Noting
the convergence of hospital closings, disruption of water and electricity, a
major cholera epidemic spreading throughout the country, a breakdown in
delivery of medications for HIV-AIDS, TB, malaria and chronic illness, and
government obstruction of food and critical aid to millions, PHR said that
unless the United Nations and individual governments provide a robust and
immediate response, massive loss of life will occur.
"The international community has taken upon itself the responsibility to
protect civilians whose lives are threatened on a large scale by government
failures," stated Frank Donaghue, PHR's CEO, who recently returned from
Zimbabwe. "The international community, acting through the UN, should also
devise a way to step in urgently to replace the life-saving functions of a
health system that has totally collapsed. PHR is concerned that all the
early-warning signs and worsening health indicators are also present to
threaten peace and security in the region."
Zimbabwe public health workers on Monday issued a public appeal calling for
an urgent response to the situation.
Given the continued gross negligence of the government of Zimbabwe and the
callous disregard for the safety and wellbeing of its citizens, together
with the dire signs of impending lethal epidemic disease, PHR called on the
governments of the world to act with the utmost urgency to:
A) Assure that a responsive, legitimate government is in place that can
protect the lives and health of the people of Zimbabwe.
B) Deliver immediate, robust humanitarian aid and medicine into the
country, demanding that the government remove all obstructions to this
C) Intervene to re-open and support the hospitals and medical school, and
assure vital infrastructure and supplies so that health workers can care for
PHR's colleagues in Zimbabwe have appealed to the outside world to respond
to the alarming deterioration of their health system. Medical and public
health workers in Zimbabwe report the following:
. HOSPITAL CLOSINGS: Public health workers in Harare report that due to
lack of medicine, equipment, services, and staff, public hospitals and
clinics are essentially closed, resulting in preventable deaths. There is no
access to care for those who cannot afford private clinics. The only
maternity hospital in the capital is also closed. Patients with fractures,
meningitis and other acute and dangerous conditions are being sent home,
according to another medical source.
. CHOLERA EPIDEMIC: A cholera epidemic is spreading throughout the
country and daily death tolls are on the rise. Fresh water is no longer
pumped into urban areas, which will only exacerbate the spread of this
infectious disease caused by contaminated water. An unnamed doctor at Harare
hospital described the situation as a "disaster of unimaginable
. DISRUPTION OF MEDICINE: Essential medicines are unavailable to treat
the very diseases that the government's gross negligence has exacerbated.
Anti-retroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS patients and TB treatment for
chronically ill patients has been severely disrupted.
. FOOD INSECURITY: The government's recent suspension of the delivery of
vital humanitarian assistance severely threatens access to a population of 2
million Zimbabweans who depend on assistance from the World Food Programme
(WFP). By the end of this year, the number could double, according to the
. VIOLENT POLICE CRACK-DOWN ON DEMONSTRATION BY HEALTH PROFESSIONALS:
Riot police forcefully dispersed hundreds of doctors, nurses and other
health workers who assembled at the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare to
protest poor salaries and working conditions.
. MEDICAL SCHOOL CLOSINGS: Early this week, authorities closed
indefinitely the country's most prominent medical school and sent students
Diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions against the Mugabe regime have
thus far failed to curtail widespread and systematic human rights violations
including willful denial of health care and obstruction of humanitarian aid
as well as mass killing, forced displacement, torture and arbitrary arrest.
The current government has acted with impunity and must be held to account.
A letter from PHR's Frank Donaghue on the emergent situation in Zimbabwe can
be found at the Physicians for Human Rights web site,
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) mobilizes the health professions to
advance the health and dignity of all people by protecting human rights. As
a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, PHR shared
the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
Physicians for Human Rights
By Tichaona Sibanda
19 November 2008
The University of Zimbabwe Medical School, the only institution producing
medical doctors in the country, has closed indefinitely. The school was
closed on Monday and the official announcement was made on Wednesday.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights made the announcement
at a press conference in Harare. The medical school is hosted by the
Parirenyatwa group of hospitals which offers them teaching facilities like
laboratories and other infrastructure necessary for the training of doctors.
The closure of the institution has been necessitated by the breakdown of the
health system-the non functionality of Parirenyatwa and other hospitals. The
repercussions will be felt countrywide as the medical school has attachments
of 4th and 5th year students to all major hospitals.
Dr Simba Ndoda from the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) confirmed
the closure, saying it had became impossible for the lecturers to continue
to teach medical students in non-functioning health institutions.
The country's health system, once among the best in Africa, has collapsed
under the weight of the world's highest inflation rate, officially 231
million percent, but believed to be over 5 quintillion percent. Most
hospitals are now unable to provide even basic medicines.
The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said it will not be possible to
re-open the medical school or to provide quality training of health
professionals for the country's health system, until the issues that have
led to the collapse of the health sector are addressed.
This follows the closure of the country's main referral hospitals - Harare
Central Hospital and Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, as well as Mpilo
Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals in Bulawayo. District hospitals like
Chinhoyi, KweKwe, Marondera and Kadoma and municipal clinics around the
country are barely functioning or are closed.
Members of the ZADHR took part in a protest organised by health workers from
Harare Central and Parirenyatwa Hospitals on Tuesday, protesting against the
state of the public health system.
The health workers had planned to march to the offices of the Minister of
Health and Child Welfare at Kaguvi Building, to present a petition calling
for urgent action to be taken to restore accessible and affordable health
care to Zimbabwe's population. But the protest was brutally broken by
heavily armed police details.
Dr Amon Severegi said they've since lost hope that the present government
will do anything to reverse the situation. He branded Health Minister Dr
David Parirenyatwa as 'useless' saying he belonged to a bunch of people who
have let the people of Zimbabwe down.
'We as doctors are shocked at the government's inaction over this whole
issue. Hospitals shut their doors three weeks ago and we have cholera
stalking the country and yet government conceals all this from the public,'
Dr Severegi said.
MHANGURA, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Katy Phiri, who is in her 70s, picks up single corn kernels spilled from trucks that ferry the harvest to market. She says she hasn't eaten for three days.
Children use sticks to get termites to eat out of a mound near Murehwa, Zimbabwe, on Sunday.
These scenes from a food catastrophe are unfolding in Doma, a district of rural Zimbabwe where journalists rarely venture. It's a stronghold of President Robert Mugabe's party and his enforcers and informants are everywhere.
At a school for villagers visited by The Associated Press, enrollment is down to four pupils from 20. The teachers still willing to work in this once thriving farming and mining district 160 miles (250 kilometers) northeast of Harare, the capital, say parents pay them in corn, cooking oil, goats or chickens. One trip by bus to the nearest bank to draw their government salaries costs more than teachers earn in a month.
Meanwhile, the country is in political paralysis following disputed elections in March. A power-sharing deal signed two months ago has stalled over the allocation of ministries between Mugabe's party and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.
Shingirayi Chiyamite is a trader from Harare who brings household goods to the countryside to barter for crops. He says a 12-inch bar of laundry soap exchanges for 22 pounds of corn. He crisscrosses the land in search of the few villages that have corn to spare, hauls his purchases to the highway and hitchhikes back to the city. Some of the corn will feed his family, the rest he sells. He is constantly on the move.
"If you rest, you starve," he says.
Information is almost as scarce as food. Survival is the obsession.
Cell phones operate only sporadically. State radio has not been received since the district relay beacon broke down eight months ago.
Mhangura, a town of about 3,000 people, has had no running water for months. Power outages happen daily because of a lack of cash to maintain utilities. People walk about three miles to a dam to fill pails or gasoline cans.
Some of the scarce water is used to embalm the dead in wet sand, a centuries-old African tradition to preserve a body until family members gather for the burial.
"There's nothing here. People are dying of illness and hunger. Burial parties are going out every day," said Michael Zava, a trader in Mhangura.
The hospital that serves the district is closed, and so is its small morgue, so there's no way of telling how many are dying, Zava said. Children's hair is discoloring, a sign of malnutrition. Adults are wizened and dressed in rags -- they have no cash for new clothes.
Zava said he has seen villagers plucking undigested corn kernels from cow dung to wash and eat. A slaughtered goat is eaten down to everything but hooves, bones and teeth. Crickets, cicadas and beetles also can make a meal.
The food crisis began after 2000, when Mugabe launched an often violent campaign to seize white-owned farms and give them to veterans of his guerrilla war against white rule over the former British colony.
Officials from Mugabe's party toured the Doma district recently and told the new farm owners that the government could not supply their needs. People were advised to make do with what seed they had left, and with animal manure for fertilizer.
Ordinarily, after harvest the cotton fields are burned to protect the next year's crop from disease. Not this year. People couldn't afford to buy new seeds, and were hoping to get another season out of last year's crop. Instead, the crops came up diseased.
Pasture has been burned by poachers to scare rabbits and rodents into traps. Deer are being hunted for food, and lions from remote parts of the Doma region and Chenanga nature reserve are killing cattle, donkeys and goats, villagers said.
Jackals, baboons and goats compete with villagers for roots and wild fruits.
The wild guava season is over and matamba, a hard orange-like fruit, cannot safely be eaten until ripe. Villagers pick the fruit and cover it with donkey or cow dung, leaving it in the sun to hasten ripening.
Katy Phiri, the grandmother collecting corn kernels, said she put her trust in God.
"There's nothing else I can do," she said. "I have never gone this hungry before."
Police in Zimbabwe said Wednesday a bomb ripped up one of its camps in the
capital Harare on Monday, the second such incident in months. Police
spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said no one was killed or injured in the bomb
blast at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department in
Harare. "We confirm that a bomb exploded (on Monday) around 8 pm at the CID
Headquarters, which caused damage to walls and shattered windowpanes," he
said. In August, a bomb ripped through the Criminal Investigation Department
at another police station in Harare, which later was suspected to be an
inside job intended to destroy evidence. Several police officers were
questioned after the attack, but no arrests have been made. Monday's attack
is also suspected to be an inside job meant to similarly destroy evidence.
(Wednesday 19 November - 14:12)
November 19, 2008
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - The government has awarded an 18 000 percent salary increment to
teachers with effect from the beginning of November.
However, teachers' organizations immediately dismissed the increase, saying
the award fell far short of their demands.
According to Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) national
treasurer, Ladistous Zunde, school teachers were on Tuesday awarded salaries
of between $126 million and $181 million each per month.
The teachers were also granted housing allowances of $9, 1 million and
transport allowances of $6 million. They received bonuses amounting to $300
million after all deductions had been effected.
Before Tuesday's increase, the entry point salary for teachers stood at $700
Zunde said the increment fell far short of the $US1 200 which his
organization has demanded as basic monthly salary for individual teachers
over the past few months.
"We reject the so-called increase," said Zunde.
"It is of no use as the money can still not be taken out of the bank outside
the Reserve Bank cash withdrawal limits of $500 000. Shops are now selling
their goods in foreign currency and rentals are also pegged in foreign
Zunde said his organization deplored the tendency by government to transfer
cash into teachers' accounts without any communication.
PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe said the increase was a non-event.
"This shows serious insensitivity on the part of government," he said. "It
shows government is completely divorced from the real issues on the ground."
Majongwe said his organization had already sent a communiqué to the Public
Service Commission to reject the salary increment.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) administration and public relations
officer Sifiso Ndlovu also dismissed the salary award saying his
organization would not consider the latest developments as a meaningful
salary increment for teachers.
"That's peanuts," he said. "I do not want to qualify that as a salary
"It would be a misnomer to call this a salary increase in a country where
inflation is now calculated in millions. To us, this is just some form of
award given to teachers by the responsible authorities."
He said his organization wanted teachers to be paid salaries of between R12
000 and R18 000 or the US dollar equivalent.
The teaching fraternity is said to be operating at below 50 percent after
the national compliment of both Primary and Secondary schools fell from 115
000 in the 1990s to the current 45 000.
Zimbabwean teachers have been on intermittent strikes over salaries since
the beginning of the year.
The government has ignored pleas by teachers' organizations not to hold
Grade 7, Ordinary and Advanced level examinations this year. The teachers
feel there was no basis for holding the tests as there was virtually no
learning throughout this year.
The government has been accused of trying to save face by tasking the RBZ to
hire individuals with no teaching background to invigilate the crucial
Most teachers in Zimbabwe have left the classroom to pursue self-help
projects while some have left the country to take up often menial jobs such
as working in restaurants.
afrol News, 19 November - Zimbabwe's main Opposition Movement for Democratic
Change has raised concerns on safety of its 12 members who were allegedly
abducted from their homes about 21 days ago.
MDC said ruling Zanu PF and police have failed to disclose the whereabouts
of the 12 members.
The 12 are said to have been abducted in predawn raids at their homes in
Banket and Chinhoyi, but MDC claims, its lawyers and relatives have been
denied access to them, according to party statement issued today.
"On 11 November , High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe ruled that the
detained be produced in court at or before 4pm of that day, but eight days
later the State is in contempt of court after police failed to comply with
the order," it said.
MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai won March polls but did not get enough votes
to avoid a presidential run-off. But he pulled out of the run off saying he
could not go to polls while his supports were being victimised.
However, Southern African regional body brokered talks ended with a power
deal in September, a deal that has not yet been effect due to highly
disputed home affairs ministry.
About two weeks ago, regional bloc met again and resolved that both
Zimbabwean parties should share a ministry. However, Mr Tsvangirai
outrightly disputed a decision saying he could not enter into 'illegal
MDC said unlawful arrests, detentions and abductions of MDC activists should
cease as a matter of urgency, if the country is to progress.
"The regime has begun a systematic crackdown on party members in the country
as it tries in vain to solidify trumped-up charges of banditry and terrorism
against MDC supporters," statement said.
Among 12 detained MDC activists is Concilia Chinanzvavana, Women's assembly
provincial chairperson for Mashonaland West and her husband Emmanuel
Chinanzvavana who is a councilor in Banket.
Zimbabwe has world's highest inflation rate following a land-redistribution
campaign begun by Mr Mugabe in 2000.
The programme, in which white-owned commercial farms were seized for
redistribution to black farmers deprived of land during colonial rule, cut
agricultural output and led to shortages of basic commodities including
flour and cooking oil.
19 Nov 2008
Source: PA News
Zimbabwe's main opposition leader plans to visit officials in Berlin on
A Foreign ministry spokeswoman said Morgan Tsvangirai will meet with Deputy
Foreign Minister Reinhard Silberberg.
The spokeswoman said the pair will not appear publicly. She did not say what
they would discuss.
Wed 19 Nov 2008, 12:41 GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe, battling chronic food shortages and
astronomical inflation, is set to receive 350,000 tonnes of maize from the
World Food Programme (WFP), state media reported on Wednesday.
Millions in the southern African country are ravaged by an economic crisis
critics blame on President Robert Mugabe's policies, such as the seizure of
commercial farms to resettle landless blacks, which ruined the agriculture
The WFP and other aid agencies have said up to 5 million people -- almost
half the population -- might need food assistance by early next year.
The Herald newspaper quoted the WFP's representative in Zimbabwe, Bahre
Gessesse, saying his agency was already feeding millions and would provide
an additional 350,000 tonnes of the staple maize to April 2009.
"In October alone, we reached two million people while we expect to reach
out to about 2.5 million people in November and the number is expected to
rise," Gessesse told the newspaper.
President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have failed
to form a unity government under a September 15 power-sharing deal seen as
the best chance for rescuing the economy.
Government officials say Zimbabwe produced just over 800,000 tonnes of maize
during the last farming season, against national demand of about 2 million
tonnes. Zimbabwe has failed to import the shortfall due to foreign currency
A former regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe has failed to produce enough food to
feed itself since 2001, after Mugabe ordered the seizure of white-owned
farms by blacks.
The country's agricultural woes have fuelled an economic meltdown marked by
an official inflation rate of 231 million percent, the world's highest, and
chronic shortages of basic goods.
By Violet Gonda
19 November 2008
Areas in the north west of Zimbabwe such as Chinhoyi, Karoi, Banket, Mangura
and Doma, were once prolific food producing areas and the breadbasket of the
country, but there is no food there now.
Associated Press correspondent Angus Shaw, who returned from this province
recently, says shocking scenes from the food catastrophe are unfolding.
He said; "We saw people scratching in the ground for mealie meal pips that
have fallen off the backs of vehicles. We even saw some people searching in
cow dung for maize kernels that had not been digested by the cattle... and
they wash them and add them to a tiny plastic bag that they carry - until
they have enough to actually make a meal."
The correspondent said the whole food chain has been disrupted, resulting in
villagers competing with wild animals for roots and wild fruits. Shaw said
all small animals have been poached in North of Doma, so baboons and jackals
are coming down into the communities to find wild fruits, while lions are
preying on donkeys and the few cattle and goats that are left.
At one school in Doma village enrollment is down to four pupils, from 20,
and desperate parents who can manage to keep their children in school pay
fees with chickens or goats.
Shaw said in areas like Mhangura and Doma information is almost as scarce as
food.Cell phones operate only sporadically and many people can't even hear
state radio because of power cuts or broken down radio relay beacons. The
hospital and mortuary have closed down and water has been intermittent for
The AFP correspondent said: "Some of the scarce water is used to embalm the
dead in wet sand, a centuries-old African tradition to preserve a body until
family members gather for the burial."
It's difficult to know how many people are dying as all semblance of local
government and civil service has totally collapsed. Shaw said in the areas
he visited there are no death or birth registries. "It's merely anecdotal
evidence and there are no statistics from hospitals because hospitals are
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme has signed a new, two year,
US$500-million aid deal to 'allow' them to supply food to economically and
politically ravaged Zimbabwe. The WFP said the money will provide 350 000
tons of food to the most vulnerable groups. It's reported that two thirds of
the 350 000 tons had already been secured and was being distributed. The UN
agency estimates that at least half the population - five million people -
face starvation by January.
Harare - Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly has called on all
Zimbabweans to join a second round of street actions next week aimed aimed
at demanding a transitional authority to re-write the country's constitution
and conduct free and fair elections.
The NCA - one of the country's biggest political pressure group - says
a transitional authority and not a government of national unity between the
country's main political parties would be best placed to break Zimbabwe's
long running political and economic crisis.
The chairperson of the group, Lovemore Madhuku told Radio VOP that his
organization will be staging demonstrations regularly until a solution to
the country's crisis is found.
"In the past, the NCA has staged a number of street protests across
the country. Once again we make a call to the people of Zimbabwe to protest
regularly and consistently (every week) until a resolution to the political
crisis engulfing our country is found and implemented," said Madhuku.
He said the protests are to call for a transitional authority, not a
government, whose mandate is to see the immediate address of the
humanitarian crisis and facilitating the writing by the people of a
"With a democratic constitution in place, elections should be held
freely and fairly to elect the country's political leadership under the
terms of that constitution. The country will then need to be governed
through such a constitution," said Madhuku.
"Democracy will sure not come tomorrow, and perhaps any time sooner,
but it certainly will never come until and unless we fight for it. This
Tuesday, as with next Tuesday and the next, we, the NCA will keep organizing
and mobilizing until our country is governed in accordance with the will of
the people," he said.
In last week's protests, Madhuku who was to lead the protests was
detained for four hours by the police.
The NCA - which is a coalition of civil societies, non-governmental
organisations and political parties - wants a transitional government to run
the country, craft a new democratic constitution for Zimbabwe and prepare
for free and fair elections to be monitored by the international community.
The push by the NCA for a transitional authority in Zimbabwe comes
amid increasing fears that a September 15 power-sharing deal between Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and head of a breakaway faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara,
The three rivals have failed to set up a unity government outlined
under the power-sharing deal because they cannot agree on the allocation of
the most powerful ministries, especially the home affairs ministry that
oversees the police.
An emergency summit of the regional Southern African Development
Community (SADC) group called to break the deadlock over ministerial posts
resolved that a unity government be formed "forthwith" and that the home
affairs ministry be co-chaired by ZANU PF and the Tsvangirai-led MDC.
Mugabe's henchmen continue to threaten, intimidate and harass opposition
media workers and the lawyers who seek to protect them.
Mandy de Waal
18 November 2008 09:54
With opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai warning that Robert Mugabe will
destroy a power-sharing agreement if he imposes a unity government, and
state owned media declaring MDC has joined Mugabe's government, comes news
that the intimidation of journalists and human rights lawyers continues
unabated in Zimbabwe.
International media watchdogs, the Committee to Protect Journalists, late
yesterday called on Zimbabwean authorities to stop harassing media and human
rights lawyer Harrison Nkomo, who is awaiting word on whether he will face
criminal charges after a client left Zimbabwe in the midst of a case. Nkomo
was defending Phillip Taylor, a British national accused of illegally
working as a journalist in Zimbabwe.
"Zimbabwe's security forces are using intimidation tactics against the press
and those who defend the media," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom
Rhodes. "There is no reason for Nkomo to be charged. He should be allowed to
continue his work without harassment or the threat of criminal charges."
Taylor was arrested late October by members of the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) while on a plane that was about to take off at Harare
International Airport. Taylor was accused of working as a journalist in
Zimbabwe without accreditation during a 30-day stay in the country. Taylor
said he was in Zimbabwe as a visitor. Granted bail of 150,000 Zimbabwean
dollars (about R80.00) Taylor was ordered to surrender his travel documents,
but left the country a day before his scheduled court date.
Nkomo informed the court that he had received a message that his client had
left the country.
Police officers from the Law and Order section, the department responsible
for numerous detentions during the Zimbabwe's election crisis, later visited
Nkomo's office in Harare searching for the lawyer, local journalists told
CPJ. Police said they wanted to charge Nkomo with obstructing justice,
Zimbabwe's opposition weekly The Standard reported.
In May, Nkomo became the first Human Rights lawyer to be arrested for so
called opposition activities and authorities charged Nkomo with "undermining
the authority or insulting the president." Two days later, a judge ordered
the lawyer's release.
Nkomo has defended numerous Zimbabwean journalists, including veteran
reporter Frank Chikowore. On April 15, police arrested Chikowore on charges
of "inciting public violence" during a strike organized by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. Chikowore was on the scene to cover the
strike. Nkomo also represented New York Times journalists Barry Bearak who
was jailed for covering the elections without government permission.
Wednesday 19th November 2008
New figures released today (November 19th) by the Chamber of Mines have
shown that gold output in Zimbabwe continued to plummet considerably in
Production of the yellow metal was 125kg during the month, a figure which
represents a 64.5 per cent drop from the 352kg recorded for the equivalent
period last year.
The gold mining industry in the country is being crippled by a dispute
between mines and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which owes producers around
$30 million in unpaid fees, according to the Chamber.
The problem has escalated to such an extent that Metallon Gold, the
country's largest producer, has halted operations at all five of its mines
across the country, with 5,000 jobs being lost.
In addition, output has been compromised by power shortages and a lack of
funding required to maintain equipment, while experienced workers have been
at a premium and supplies of cyanide, drill steel and compressor spares have
The latest figures show how far gold production has fallen in Zimababwe,
considering its output stood at an average of 2,259kg per month at its peak
However, with the situation showing no signs of being resolved, production
looks set to suffer further, which will be positive news to anyone
considering investing in gold.
Although Mutare has an MDC led council, all council development work has
come to a halt, following the emergence of two centres of power vying to
control council operations. The MDC MP for Dangamvura-Chikanga, Giles
Mutsekwa, says the new ZANU PF Governor, Christopher Mushowe, is helping
junior and unelected officials to bypass the authority of the Mayor and his
By Lance Guma
19 November 2008
Zimbabwe's power sharing talks entered a new frontier of disagreement
Tuesday after it appeared that both ZANU PF and the MDC had a different
approach to the drafting of constitutional amendment 19. Under September's
power sharing deal Mugabe remains President while Tsvangirai takes up the
newly created post of Prime Minister. That agreement however needs to be
made into law and constitutional amendment 19 is meant to do that. The state
media initially reported that a government legal drafting team was on the
verge of completing a draft document for both parties to scrutinize and
But on Tuesday evening MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Newsreel they would
reject any draft ZANU PF drew up on its own. They argue that since it was an
inter-party agreement the drafting had to be done jointly. Later in the
evening reports surfaced suggesting the government had already forwarded
their draft amendment to all the parties involved. It was also reported that
negotiators Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma from the Tsvangirai MDC would meet
Welshman Ncube, Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga from the Mutambara faction
and Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa from ZANU PF on Thursday.
On Wednesday afternoon however the Tsvangirai MDC said they had not seen the
constitutional amendment draft. A news agency report quoted Tendai Biti
saying, 'We don't have it. Even if they say constitutional amendment number
19 is complete, there are a number of issues which are still outstanding.'
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu meanwhile was telling journalists
they had also sent the amendment to former South African President Thabo
Mbeki, who has been mediating talks between the two sides.
The MDC responded with a statement saying, 'as far as we are concerned, the
draft that has been sent to Mbeki is a Zanu PF document with Zanu PF
perspectives. Our draft is also ready and will be sent to Mbeki for
consideration. The final Bill to be tabled before parliament should be
inclusive of the three main political parties' views.'
Although the MDC had said the amendment was a sticking point, they are also
not happy with the allocation of Cabinet portfolios, the distribution of
provincial governors' posts, the composition of a proposed national security
council and the appointment of permanent secretaries and ambassadors. They
say their participation in the unity government will depend on the
resolution of all these issues and not just amendment 19, as falsely
reported by the state media.
On Tuesday Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told journalists the MDC had to join the
government first before the amendment was passed. He argued that the MDC had
been given the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs under
the power sharing deal and should be driving the process of getting the
amendment through. But he conceded that most of the ZANU PF ministers had
lost their parliamentary seats and in essence the current cabinet was
temporary and could not drive the process through legally.
Nelson Chamisa, speaking for the Tsvangirai MDC, described Ndlovu's argument
as, 'sterile and fallacious' because the amendment would be deliberated on
by members of parliament and not ministers. It now looks like ZANU PF and
the MDC are producing their own versions of the draft amendment 19 and will
send both these versions to Mbeki, SADC and the African Union for
Of concern to suffering Zimbabweans will be the length of time the process
will take. Under the country's laws a constitutional amendment will only be
taken to Parliament after being gazetted and debated in public for 30 days.
Mugabe is expected to take his annual leave around the 7th December. The
last parliamentary sitting is set for the 16th December and the house will
only reconvene towards the end of January. So the crisis can be expected to
drag on until at least February 2009.
Newsreel asked Chamisa if they were worried about this delay. He told us the
party was extremely concerned about the people's suffering but that the
problem in dealing with ZANU PF who had a 'chequered past' was that they had
to be cautions. 'If you decide to kiss a thief, you have to count all your
teeth and protect them from getting stolen.' He said it was no use being
'stampeded' into an agreement that would never last. 'It's better to allow a
gestation period for the agreement to grow than to have it suffer an
abortion,' he added.
19 November 2008
ON NOVEMBER 9, the world witnessed another failed Southern African
Development Community (SADC) summit on Zimbabwe.
Rather unrealistically, President Kgalema Motlanthe (the current SADC
chairman) was mooted as the person who could break the deadlock. It is
strange how South Africans occasionally seem to suffer from a serious bout
of collective amnesia; who remembers that it was Motlanthe, who - as head of
the South African observer mission to the massively rigged Zimbabwean
elections in 2002 - declared that poll to be "free, fair and credible"?
Now, at this crucial meeting, he asks two of the parties to the dispute
(Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara) to withdraw from the discussions,
while allowing President Robert Mugabe - the cause of the ever-worsening
problem - to participate as judge, jury, and "condoner" of his own
illegitimate actions. Once again, placating Mugabe was a total cop-out and
an absurd caricature of SADC even-handedness.
Sadly, amid Zimbabwe's slide into political and economic oblivion, the
brethren leaders of the subcontinent without fail close ranks in solidarity
with Mugabe (often massaging his overblown ego as a "liberation hero"),
sometimes feebly attempting to cajole him, maybe half-heartedly cautioning
him in private, but publicly defending their virtual complicity in the
systematic retrogression of that country into a totalitarian state. More
often than not, SADC heads of state - with the exception, on occasion, of
the presidents of Botswana and Tanzania - have shown themselves to be
spineless weaklings, propping up a megalomaniac and offering no real
One should be mindful of the admonition that "all that is necessary for the
triumph of evil is that good men do nothing".
The infamous, tired and worn-out policy of quiet diplomacy - former
president Thabo Mbeki's SADC-sanctioned efforts to mediate between the
opposing parties in Zimbabwe - was always doomed to failure, because it was
essentially underpinned by disinformation, obfuscation and procrastination.
From the outset, Mbeki's bias towards the Mugabe regime - what, with
apologies to Chester Crocker, can be called "unconstructive
non-engagement" - disqualified him from playing the role of honest broker.
Through his (and now SADC's) fumbling efforts, Mbeki seems to communicate to
the world that elections should be as "free and fair" as is necessary to
return the ruling party to power.
Clearly, this is the bottom line for ruling government ideologues in the
region - no national liberation movement government (Swapo, the MPLA, Zanu
(PF), the African National Congress, and Frelimo) should ever lose or
relinquish power, most of all not through legal constitutional or electoral
However, March 29 should have changed all this: the Movement for Democratic
Change's (MDC's) victory in the parliamentary and presidential poll in
Zimbabwe has now confronted these governments with the spectre of the domino
effect, or the feared "Nicaragua phenomenon" - that is, the loss of power
through (yes, even) grossly rigged and manipulated electoral processes.
Events in Zimbabwe (and Kenya) illustrate that in the evolution of what is
taken for democracy in Africa, the tyrant's weapon of choice has evolved
from the military coup to the stuffed ballot box.
Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan's "Kenyan solution"
merely papered over the cracks in the political fabric of Kenyan society and
now Mbeki (and SADC leaders) disingenuously want to superimpose their own
version of a "government of national unity" on Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe, as it did in Kenya, it will merely condone electoral fraud on a
massive scale and lead to the undermining of the MDC, which will be regarded
as the "junior partner" in this unholy alliance. No wonder, then, that two
months after reaching a "power-sharing deal" in Harare on September 15, a
workable government could not be constructed.
Mbeki must have been daft to hurry into a formal signing ceremony of an
"agreement" that should have set out the crux of any deal: the allocation of
extremely important ministries, such as finance, home affairs, defence,
information, foreign affairs, and control of the intelligence services.
Mugabe's mantra is that Zimbabwe should have its own definition of democracy
and that autocracy can be described as "the will of the people". So
compromised by years of abuse of power, he and his security chiefs can only
continue to hang on at any cost, even if it means bringing down the country
To paraphrase a Somali writer in a different context: he has indeed put
Zimbabwe on "the road to zero". The personality cult built around him and
his entire personality make-up (of which vanity, or a "grandiose sense of
self", is but one characteristic) argues against national reconciliation and
a South African-propagated government of national unity. Mugabe is the
epitome of arrogance - observe the body language, the swagger. It is not
within Mugabe's psyche to relinquish power: suffering from what is known as
a "bureaucratic-compulsive syndrome", he has become more and more dogmatic,
inflexible and paranoid over the years. Indeed, Mugabe "has not a single
redeeming defect" - as Benjamin Disraeli so aptly said of William Gladstone.
So, one should heed Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert's warning: the most dangerous
moment for a democracy is not the founding elections, but when the incumbent
government experiences a crisis in leadership and is defeated at the polls.
Clearly, the ultimate test for democracy is the willingness of the
vanquished incumbent to cede power to its victorious opponent - not to cling
stubbornly to the reins of power.
In the final analysis, the suspicion remains that the MDC is being set up as
the fall guy, while Zanu (PF) continues to control the so-often repressive
levers of state power.
a.. Dr Venter is a former executive director of the Africa Institute of SA
and currently runs a Pretoria-based political risk analysis unit, Africa
Consultancy & Research.
November 19, 2008
By Tendai Dumbutshena
IN A recent article on the way forward in Zimbabwe Arthur Mutambara, leader
of the smaller faction of the MDC makes one valid point.
He points out the futility of appealing to the AU the SADC's decision that
those parties that were party to the September 15 agreement form an
inclusive government immediately.
Where Mutambara is wrong is to urge Morgan Tsvangirai to accept the SADC
decision which took no account of the MDC's leader's genuine concerns about
the content of the power-sharing agreement. The implication is that SADC
decisions must be accepted because they have been made by Africans. He
regards this warped sense of Pan-Africanism as progressive politics - as an
antidote to western imperialism.
According to this way of thinking any decision taken by African bodies is
ipso facto correct. Africans always act in the interests of Africans while
white Westerners seek to dominate and exploit Africans. Of late Mutambara
has tried to outdo Robert Mugabe in railing against the West to boost his
Africanist credentials. He seems driven by a childish yearning to please and
be accepted by African leaders as a true son of the soil. Tsvangirai must
follow suit and accept whatever SADC leaders decide because not to do so
would be to pander to the West.
This view ignores the destructive role played by SADC since the Zimbabwe
crisis began in earnest in 2000. The regional body supported Mugabe when he
launched land invasions and turned elections into mass orgies of violence.
At various summits he was loudly cheered as torchbearer of the
anti-imperialist struggle. They turned a blind eye to the most egregious
violations by Mugabe's regime of SADC protocols on human rights, governance,
elections and property rights.
Buoyed and emboldened by this support Mugabe proceeded to do as he pleased
to secure his power. The evidence of eight years of reckless and violent
rule is there for all to see. The same leaders watch as helpless bystanders
as an economy that not long ago was only second to South Africa in the
region rapidly spirals downwards into the gutter. Only Botswana has broken
ranks to condemn Mugabe's conduct.
Mutambara also subscribes to the dangerous fallacy that the formation of the
inclusive government in itself offers a solution. It is dangerous because it
ignores the reality that Mugabe has acted in bad faith since the signing of
the agreement a good 10 weeks ago. He is hostile to Tsvangirai as shown by
incessant attacks on the MDC leader in the state-controlled media and the
continued violence against opposition leaders and supporters. The state
seems determined to press ahead with spurious charges against MDC
secretary-general, Tendai Biti, one of the chief authors of the agreement.
The regime cannot even bring itself to issue a passport to a man who is
supposed to be Prime Minister in waiting.
Without a firm legal and constitutional foundation with in-built checks and
balances Mutambara and Tsvangirai will be mere spectators in that
government. The abuse of power will continue unabated with Mugabe devising
means of regaining what was lost on March 29. If Mutambara believes there
will be genuine power-sharing under this flawed agreement then his political
judgement must be questioned. The two MDC leaders were bullied and cajoled
into signing the agreement leaving many crucial loose ends untied. The least
they can do now is to limit the damage done by their folly by addressing
legitimate issues raised by Tsvangirai.
It is crucial to have an equitable sharing of ministerial portfolios and not
confine discussion to Home Affairs. The composition and functions of the
proposed National Security Council (NSC) have to be spelt out. The Joint
Operations Command (JOC) which the new body seeks to replace degenerated
into the military, police and intelligence arm of Zanu-PF. The importance of
preventing this from happening to the NSC cannot be overstated. Equity in
power-sharing also demands that the MDC factions have a proportionate say in
the appointment of diplomats, permanent secretaries and heads of
Tsvangirai's proposal that governors be appointed to reflect March 29
elections in the various provinces is extremely fair and reasonable.
Governors have also been abused to advance the Zanu-PF agenda especially in
the racket of giving farms to favoured cronies.
Mutambara argues that it is not important who controls what ministry because
cabinet is collectively responsible for the formulation and implementation
of policy. In a genuine democracy his point has merit but not in the
realities of Zimbabwe's politics under Mugabe. The Home Affairs ministry is
just one example of how a state body has been thoroughly abused to serve the
interests of Zanu-PF.
The partisanship of the police is well documented. Their sins of omission
and commission in political violence against the opposition must be subject
of a commission of inquiry at some stage in the future. The ministry has
also been abused to rig elections through the manipulation of the electoral
roll and the disenfranchisement of whole groups of citizens perceived to be
opposed to the regime. Mutambara should ask why if his argument is correct
is Zanu-PF so vehemently opposed to the MDC running Home Affairs when it
controls the defence and security portfolios.
The answer is simple. Mugabe wants the defence forces, police and CIO firmly
under his control because they constitute the state's coercive apparatus so
central to his rule. At least an MDC Minister of Home Affairs unencumbered
by a ridiculous portfolio-sharing deal can at the very least blow the
whistle when Mugabe and police commissioner Augustine Chihuri connive to
subvert the role of the police.
If he is aided by a non-Zanu-PF permanent secretary they he can act as an
effective check against the abuse of this critical institution.
Tsvangirai took the right decision after the SADC summit. All these issues
must be sorted out before a government is constituted. To think that Mugabe
would even entertain their discussion after the government is up and running
is stupid. All those issues would be off the table. SADC would not even give
audience to Tsvangirai to raise them. Their man would firmly be in the
The MDC should stick to its guns and not repeat the mistake of succumbing to
pressure from SADC. They should do what is in the interests of the people of
Zimbabwe. If Mugabe unilaterally forms a government so be it.
As for Mutambara he would then have to decide on whose side he is on.
There are thousands of Zimbabweans today who are travelling on emergency
travel documents, commonly referred to as ETD's. The reason is not because
they can't afford or they do not want passports but rather the ministry of
home affairs has been failing to timely issue people with their rightful
documents due to lack of capacity to do so.
At most buildings several ministries that are important to the smooth
running of our country are on their knees. Some of these are the ministries
of health, education, agriculture, local government and finance not to
mention defence and the thorny home affairs. The only functional aspects of
the ministry of home affairs have been the button sticks wielded by the
police, the tortuous cells in the dilapidated police stations dotted around
the country especially in the "used to be urban" centres. Everything else
from records receipt books for fines collected it's now just in name only.
It is typical of the breakdown of functionality at the heart of central
government. Nothing is working in Zimbabwe and nothing is happening. Even
the eagerly awaited government of national unity that most Zimbabweans so as
an exit from the abyss has failed to take off the ground. They say that a
bad tradesman always blames his tools, he does not blame himself. The ZANU
PF government has been apportioning blame left right and centre except at
themselves. Nothing has been due to their making but all the work of enemies
of the state of which countless lists have been compiled with a view for
meting out punishment
Coming to the ministry of home affairs, this is one ministry that never used
to be the most important of all the ministries. In a country like Zimbabwe
ministries such as tourism, finance, industry and commerce have always been
more in the lime light than small police units. Not that many people even
used to know where the famous Depa (affectionate name for Tomlinson Deport)
was located. However I can still remember in late 1980's and early 1990's
when my uncle Wilbert Chihuri was the director general of the formerly
Zimbabwe Tourist Development Corporation ZTDC, which is now called the
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and headed by Karikoga Kaseke. He used to be a
very highly regarded individual who was probably more important than the
commissioner of police is today.
That's just how much things have changed in Zimbabwe because the way things
are is such that the police are more important than even nurses and doctors.
I do not mean to say that the police are nothing but picture this, nurses
and doctors save lives while the police are there only to protect and keep
them!! Even when a person is severely assaulted the police may be called in
simply to investigate the cause of the assault but they would still have to
quickly pass the victim into the custody of nurses and doctors who must
ensure that the person lives. However, the keepers of lives are now the
savers or the takers of them because they have been transformed into a tool
that can be used for that purpose. In Zimbabwe today if the police want you
to live you can, if they want you to be hurt again you can be hurt and quite
badly so! You only need to belong to the opposition to experience that.
As for nurses and doctors well, their status and relevance have been
severely eroded because the hospitals are now death centres as opposed to
the health centres they used to be. Therefore no one cares if one is a nurse
or a doctor because they are no longer as important as they used to be
especially when the patients are just as crucial to their own survival as
the health professionals on their bedside. For example, if a patient does
bring their own medicines to the hospital the nurses will simply look at
them! In that kind of situation how can they be the last line of life then?
It is now in the hands of the patients just as much as the nurses though it
is not the case with the police because instead of merely looking after
people they can now also look for people and that can mean serious trouble.
This brings me to the thorny issue of the ministry of home affairs and why
the MDC is adamant that they get it. Its not about equitable distribution of
ministries, it is about the ministry and what it has been proven to be
capable of doing that the MDC fear for leaving it in the hands of ZANU PF.
Most of the MDC leaders have at one point or another suffered at the hands
of the police and they just do not want to take any chances at all. Under
ZANU PF the budget for the police force just a small unity alone has
overtaken those of health and education. Most of the spending has gone
towards acquiring repressive tools such water canons and anti-riot gear and
tear gas canisters. This has seen health the delivery system being
completely compromised while the energies of the government are wasted on
ensuring the police are well equipped to brutalise their own people.
The education system has equally been run down because there is no longer
any focus on that very essential foundation of the nation's fabric. In
normal circumstances politicians would be clamouring to run the ministries
of health or education or industry and commerce or finance, not the police
especially in Africa where there is not that much sophisticated policing.
Zimbabwe does not even have a department for immigration as it were, only
customs officials who double up as immigration officials. That's just how
insignificant the ministry is supposed to be. But enter the police into the
equation and it all changes. With people leaving the country in droves that
leaves no scope at all for a fully fledged immigration supervisory authority
and it is rightly so. May be, and emigration unit to over the exodus then?
I really hope that the MDC as badly as they seem to want the ministry of
home affairs, particularly the police, they genuinely want to transform the
force into the former professional and highly acclaimed body that it used to
be. It would be really sad if the police under the MDC auspices would be yet
another ferocious tool of repression save for the change of the targets.
Given the history of African politics I would not rule that out completely
because glamorous and seemingly faultless opposition parties have often been
turned into monsters once they got drenched into the intoxication of
political power. Only time will tell.
And lastly to the passport or ETD saga week, surely that should have never
been an issue at all because Tsvangirai is the man of the people and instead
of mourning about someone of his stature not having a passport, he should
have seized the opportunity to yet again reconnect with his people. These
are the ordinary hardworking people of Zimbabwe who do not have passports
not by will or by their design but by the denial of their thoughtless
government. There are so many Zimbabweans who are using these documents more
often than they have used real passports and they also deserve to have the
passports. Someone like Tsvangirai and his world acclaim would never be
stranded anywhere on this planet just because he had no passport and events
of this week could serve as testimony.
This is how our leaders lose the bigger picture of things that are real
cause for concern in our country because a passport does not allow access to
a person. Instead, it is the authorities of the country into which the
person is entering that can determine the entry. Similarly, in the scurry
for the home ministry, the significance of the health delivery system and
the education of our nation have been consigned to secondary status. Where
in this world can all the major health institutions of a nation be shut down
due to diminished capacity and that nation still be expected to continue on
a health footing?
As long our politicians continue to have their priorities elsewhere i.e.
passports and ministries surely our problems are not going to end. What
guarantee is that even if the issue of the ministry of home affairs is
resolved another thorny issue will not emerge? What would happen then to the
government of national disunity? Cry Zimbabwe, the beloved country.
Silence Chihuri is a Zimbabwe who writes from Scotland. He can be contacted
on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07706376705