|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
SA envoy held by Zimbabwe farmers
South Africa's high commissioner to Zimbabwe was briefly held by government supporters during a visit to a farm formerly owned by a white farmer.
Jeremiah Ndou was detained for a short time at the farm in the north west of the country, according to reports on Zimbabwe and South African television.
The farm, which was previously owned by a white South African, had been allocated to black farmers under President Robert Mugabe's resettlement programme.
The envoy is said to have been detained for taking a television crew to the farm "because there had been a number of stage-managed situations in the area aimed at portraying lawlessness in Zimbabwe".
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) said the settlers used a tractor to barricade Mr Ndou's car and they warned him they would mobilise more people.
An SABC reporter said that even a police officer at the scene could not do much to help the situation.
He added that the high commissioner was warned against continuing with business at some other commercial farms.
The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) said Mr Ndou was released after the intervention of Mashonaland West provincial governor Peter Chanetsa.
ZBC said Mr Ndou was later summoned to the ministry of foreign affairs, where it was discovered that he had no government clearance to visit the area.
South Africa has been criticised for maintaining a policy of "quiet diplomacy" during Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
Some South African cabinet ministers have even endorsed the Zimbabwe Government's land reform programme, to the anger of opposition groups.
Cape Town - Political parties called on government on Friday to
the incident involving South Africa's High Commissioner to Zimbabwe,
Jeremiah Ndou, this week.
Ndou was reportedly called before Zimbabwe's ministry of foreign affairs
because "he had not been given clearance" to visit a farm, formerly owned by
a white South African.
He was also apparently barricaded in the farmhouse for some time by a group
of land invaders on the farm.
Democratic Alliance chair Joe Seremane said Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma should clarify whether white-owned farms in Zimbabwe had been
declared national security concerns, in terms of the Vienna Convention.
"If this is not the case then the minister must demand reasons why South
Africa's representative in Zimbabwe has been interrogated by the Mugabe
regime," he said.
Diplomats are protected by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and
Optional Protocols adopted in 1963.
Article 34 of the Convention, titled "Freedom of Movement", stated that
diplomats could only have their movement restricted where there was a
national security concern.
Ndou's treatment raised a number of questions, including had Zimbabwe
declared formerly white-owned farms areas of concern to national security?
If so, why was President Thabo Mbeki brokering peace deals in Burundi when
there was a national security concern on South Africa's border and which
directly prohibited the movement of foreign diplomats?
If Zimbabwe had not declared formerly white-owned farms a threat to national
security, why was the High Commissioner forced to gain permission to move
round the country? Seremane asked.
"Zimbabwe must accord South African representatives the same respect
accorded to their representatives here in South Africa.
"Failure to do so is not only in violation of international protocol, but
suggests that the Zanu-PF government is desperately trying to conceal the
real situation in the country," he said.
NNP: Mbeki must intervene personally
New National Party foreign affairs spokesperson Dr Boy Geldenhuys called on
Mbeki to intervene personally.
"The detention of South Africa's High Commissioner to Zimbabwe by a group of
land invaders is in breach of international rules and calls for intervention
at the highest level," he said.
Mbeki should intervene personally and make it clear to Mugabe that the
safety of South Africa's diplomatic staff in Zimbabwe was non-negotiable and
strong action would be taken if something similar happened.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should apologise to South Africa in
At the same time, Mbeki should use his personal influence to see to it that
there was urgent compliance with the agreement that land of residents of
Southern African Development Community countries would not be seized.
Farms seized from South African farmers should immediately be returned to
them, Geldenhuys said.
SA heads for Zimbabwe-style land grabs: CFU
October 10, 2003, 03:33 PM
The head of Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmer's Union (CFU) says South
Africa is in danger of Zimbabwe-style land grabs.
Doug Taylor Freeme, the CFU President, says South Africa's land
expropriation laws are similar to those used by President Robert Mugabe's
government to seize white-owned farms.
In South Africa, a 1997 amendment to the Restitution Act gives the
government power to expropriate land deemed to have been stolen from blacks
during the apartheid era. South Africa's Land Claims Commission has
regularly consulted with landowners, whereas seizure of white-owned farms in
Zimbabwe has been accompanied by frequent violence and little consultation.
Official land seizures in Zimbabwe have been accompanied by sometimes
violent farm occupations by supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party. The
country's food production, meanwhile has fallen drastically.
Congress of Agri-SA
"I think South Africa is heading in the same direction. No one
questions the need to do this, it's just the way it's being done," he said
in an interview on the fringes of the annual congress of South Africa's
Agri-SA union in Bloemfontein. The union is dominated by white landowners
running large commercial farms, small-scale black farmers have their own
union as does a small group of white farmers regarded as more right-wing
Freeme said the CFU, which represents most of Zimbabwe's white
farmers, had lost one third of its 3 000 members in the last four years and
all but 1 100 had suffered land invasions. "It's getting worse. We continue
to face violent land invasion and farmers are still being removed," he said,
adding war veterans had occupied half his own farm north of Harare.
By the 1998 deadline, the government had received around 70 000 land
claims, of which over 42 000 have been settled. Many farmers at the
Bloemfontein meeting said they accepted the need for land restitution, and
pointed out that the minister had only invoked the amendment in a handful of
cases. - Reuters
THE SILENCE REMAINS DEAFENING
In Harare in September, 1978 the Reverend J. da Costa preached a sermon regarding the "deafening silence" as world leaders failed to condemn the shooting down of a Rhodesian civilian aircraft by "liberation" forces jointly led by Robert Mugabe. This iniquitous act resulted in the death of 48 innocent civilians. In Zimbabwe today the equivalent of many planeloads of innocent civilians die daily, either at the hands of Mugabe’s thugs or through starvation and poverty brought about by Mugabe’s incompetence to govern his country. Our own President believes that quiet diplomacy is the route we should follow whilst our fellow Africans die. Do not all the people of Africa deserve the right to believe in the renaissance of a better tomorrow? Mr. Mbeki your diplomacy is so quiet that the silence remains equally deafening.
SA battles itself over Zim
Cape Town - The ANC is at loggerheads
with its alliance partners over the
handling of the Zimbabwe crisis after more than 40 leaders of the Zimbabwean
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were arrested. The South African Communist
Party (SACP) said president Robert Mugabe should know that there is
"widespread anger" over the imprisonment of union leaders, the closure of
newspapers, the violent harassment of civilians and disturbing reports over
the youth militia's rape of women. The SACP said all Zimbabweans, but
"especially those in government", were responsible for creating a climate of
tolerance. While the South African government has repeatedly stressed the
importance of negotiations between the ruling Zanu PF party and the
opposition, the SACP said negotiations could not be limited to agreements
behind closed doors. "We know from experience that public pressure and
civilian activism are important to bridge political deadlocks," the SACP
said in its statement.
The Congress of South African Trade
Unions (Cosatu) also condemned the
Mugabe government's actions and said it was a pity that he (Mugabe) saw
trade unions as enemies. Cosatu and the SACP demanded that the union leaders
be released immediately. Government spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said civil
society had the right to air public opinions about Zimbabwe, but he refused
comment on the alliance partners' statements and demands. The ANC said that
it took note of the arrest of the union leaders and that they should either
be charged or released. Mamoepa added that government did convey the South
African Editors Forum's concerns over the closing down of Zimbabwean
independent newspapers to that country's government. He did not want to
identify the person who conveyed the message. When asked whether there had
been any reaction to this message, he responded that the message was merely
From Business Day (SA), 10 October
Kansteiner lashes Mugabe over rights
Gaborone - The closure of Zimbabwe's only independent daily
showed a lack of democracy and a lack of respect for human rights, US
Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner said in the
Botswanan capital yesterday. Kansteiner said ahead of a visit by
Washington's top AIDS official to Botswana that the closure of the Daily
News was a blow against freedom of expression. "This (the closure) shows
lack of democracy and lack of respect for human rights," Kansteiner said,
setting the tone for US AIDS co-ordinator Randall Tobias. Last month, police
shut the newspaper and its printing presses after the supreme court ruled
that the paper, which is fiercely critical of President Robert Mugabe, was
operating illegally. Kansteiner said: "Zimbabwe is a sad story. The economy
and social side of the country continue to deteriorate. There is
hyperinflation and a food crisis and we are seeing an implosion of the
Earlier this month, US President George Bush said in
Washington he was "not
satisfied" with the effort to promote political reforms in Zimbabwe. But he
expressed confidence in President Thabo Mbeki, and called Mbeki his "point
man" in the region. Bush urged all Zimbabwe's neighbours to keep up pressure
for change. Kansteiner also said the US was trying to get more countries
involved in the fight against AIDS in Africa. Tobias, on his first
assignment following his appointment by Bush who has pledged $15bn to fight
AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean in the next five years was visiting
Botswana to see the ravages of the disease firsthand, Kansteiner said.
UNAIDS has said that nearly 38% of Botswana's 1,7-million people are
infected. About 20-million Africans, most in the sub-Sahara, have died as
the result of AIDS in the 22-year documented history of the pandemic.
Price control in court test
A HARARE bakery is challenging the constitutionality of price controls in a
test case that could put government's ad hoc pricing regulations in
A local lawyer, Addington Chinake, is representing Stephen Mapinyi and
Pardon Magodhlo, employees of the bakery who were arrested in July on
allegations of selling bread above the gazetted price.
The two appeared in court
last month to answer charges of violating price
controls. At the hearing, Chinake questioned the constitutionality of the
legislation under which the two were being charged. The court will next week
decide on whether or not the matter should be referred to the Supreme Court.
introduction of price controls two years ago the government has
fined a number of firms for violating price controls. A major sugar supplier
was recently fined $20 million for selling sugar above the controlled price.
Commuter omnibus operators have also been fined for overcharg-ing while
Comoil had 35 000 litres of fuel confiscated by the state because the
company was selling it above the gazetted prices.
have however been targeted most with four of them being fined a
total of $20 million each in July. The country's largest milk producer,
Dairibord, was also fined for overcharging and reducing the size of
packaging for milk.
Despite protestations from business leaders, and an admission
minister Hebert Murerwa that price controls were hurting industry, the
government has not relented.
Chinake will argue that the
Control of Goods (Price Control) Regulations
2001 are ultra vires Section 16 of the Constitution and the Companies Act.
Section 16 of the Constitution protects citizens from deprivation of
property, which includes economic rights.
Chinake will raise the point that it is not reasonably
justifiable in a
democracy for a manufacturer to be compelled to produce goods and sell them
at a price fixed by the state. The argument is that government does not take
into account the cost of production, let alone provide for a reasonable
margin of profit for the manufacturer to continue operating.
The price control regulations, it is argued, impinge on
Section 189 of the
Companies Act, which states that company directors will protect the
interests of their employees and dependants.
regard, selling products below cost should be deemed not to be in
the interests of the employees or their families as this will result in
layoffs for many companies.
Since the introduction of price controls many
companies in the manufacturing
sector have been forced to lay off staff while some have closed down.
Mugabe seeks help from Annan on land
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week presented the findings of the Land Audit
Report to the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a bid to
convince the international community that reorganisation would take place on
the farms to correct errors in the fast-track land reform programme.
Diplomatic sources this week said Mugabe, who met Annan on the sidelines of
the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Tuesday last
week, wanted the UN to believe that there were positive developments on the
land as evidenced by the report.
At the United
Nations Development Programme-brokered donors conference held
in Harare in 1998it was agreed that for Zimbabwe to receive international
financial assistance, the land reform programme would have to be
transparent, benefit mainly the poor and be sustainable. To date many senior
members of the ruling Zanu PF party, the defence forces and government have
benefited, with some of them getting more than one farm.
Mugabe recently issued an ultimatum
for senior officials who acquired more
than one farm to surrender them. The response has been less than
government claims that 300 000 families have been resettled
on nearly 11 million hectares of land seized from white commercial farmers.
sources said Mugabe was keen to secure an endorsement of the land
process from Annan who has in the past registered his disquiet at Zimbabwe's
conduct of land reform.
Information and Publicity
secretary George Charamba, who accompanied Mugabe
to New York, yesterday refused to discuss the issue.
UN co-ordinator in Harare Victor Angelo
could not be reached as his office
said he was in New York on business.
The report, which was compiled by an audit team headed by
civil servant, Dr Charles Utete, has been kept under wraps since it was
presented to Mugabe last month. It was presented to politburo members last
month and Zanu PF sources said the party's decision-making organ deliberated
on it this week. The sources said government would only release the report
after securing endorsement of the review from key stakeholders, which
include the UN.
Diplomatic sources said the endorsement of
the report's recommendations by
the UN was crucial in shoring up Mugabe's regime which has seen the
agricultural sector collapse around it. Despite loud official bragging about
the success of land reform, the government cannot hide the huge funding
deficit in the agricultural sector.
The government has failed to mobilise funding for
and extension services. It believes that its commitment to implementing the
one-man one-farm policy, which would see the redistribution of excess farms,
could restore confidence in the donor community.
"Through the (Utete) audit, the government is trying to
say to donors, 'we
do not have anything to hide and we are prepared to correct our mistakes',"
said an officer at the UNDP.
fears among donors that the UN, through the UNDP office in Harare,
could be manipulated by the government to try and legitimise a flawed
process of resettlement.
"Donors will be closely following the developments on
the ground before
committing their resources," the officer said.
Zimbabwe not ready for Nepad's peer review
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa says Zimbabwe is not prepared to be
scrutinised under Nepad's peer review mechanism.
The peer review mechanism, which was launched by Nepad (New Partnership for
Africa's Development) leaders to monitor African governments on governance
practices, is set to be up and running by December.
Sixteen African countries
have since volunteered to be test cases in the
initial stages of the project, which political analysts say is the litmus
test of Nepad leaders' commitment to democracy and human rights. It is also
viewed as the key to unlocking much-needed development assistance from G8
interview with the Zimbabwe Independent in Tokyo last week, Murerwa
said Zimbabwe had not volunteered to be reviewed.
"Our position is that
this is a voluntary and individual choice by some
African countries," said Murerwa. "And we have chosen not to be reviewed. We
are not prepared."
Although the names of the 16 volunteers are yet to be made
confirmed Zimbabwe was not on the list. Murerwa was not clear on whether
Zimbabwe would join the list later.
"It will be a
government decision. When the government decides the time is
ripe we will volunteer for review," Murerwa said.
Nigeria announced last week that
it had opened its doors for review. It
pronounced its support for the review process at the recently held Third
Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) in Japan.
At the TICAD III meeting, Japan, a key donor to Zimbabwe, announced its
intention to adopt Nepad as the platform to assist Africa's developing
Analysts say Zimbabwe's
reluctance to come under the spotlight shows its
non-compliance with democratic norms. They say government is aware that it
has not improved its human rights record and delivery of democracy.
"The government is
aware that they will fail any kind of assessment for good
governance. Any honest assessor will find them guilty of human rights
abuses," said National Constitutional Assembly chairman, Lovemore Madhuku.
currently under the international spotlight for its crack-down
on the media and the opposition.
USAid ends funding of Campfire projects
THE United States Agency for International Development (USAid) has stopped
funding of all Communal Areas Management for Indigenous Resources (Campfire)
projects in Zimbabwe amidst allegations that the decision was politically
The suspension of the funding is likely to lead to the collapse of projects
run by rural communities in over 50 rural district councils throughout the
The USAid withdrawal is
one of many by international donors from Zimbabwe in
protest against the deteriorating political situation.
A spokesman from the United States
embassy confirmed that USAid had stopped
funding of Campfire projects but denied the political dimension.
"The reason USAid ceased funding
Campfire projects is not political. Our
funding of the projects has reached its legislative limits," said the
"All United States
overseas projects have a five-year lifespan but we have
been running Campfire projects in Zimbabwe for over 13 years," he said.
He said USAid had
spent over US$8 million on Campfire projects over the
"USAid's focus now is on the humanitarian areas. In the last
13 years we
spent over US$28 million on the development of rural communities through the
programmes we were funding," he said.
by USAid included community-fishing, eco-tourism, hunting
concessions, photographic safaris and clinics, among others.
The US spokesman said
Campfire projects had helped communities establish
clinics and schools.
Rights violators liable for ICC prosecution
ZIMBABWEANS can approach the International Criminal Court (ICC) with cases
of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by leaders
even though the country has not ratified the statute under which the ICC was
A conference for United Nations Parliamentarians for Global Action held last
month noted that nations such as Zimbabwe were avoiding ratifying the Rome
Statute in order for their leaders to escape prosecution.
However, provisions in the Rome Statute make it possible
for individuals in
UN member states to approach the ICC for prosecution of crimes committed by
"Impunity of perpetrators of
international atrocities provides fertile
ground for commission of new horrendous crimes and leads to the escalation
of internal or international armed conflicts," the documents from last
month's conference say.
"Individuals or organisations can approach the ICC for the
those perpetrating international atrocities even in countries that have not
ratified the Rome Statute."
Zimbabwe was extensively
discussed at the conference together with crisis-
ridden countries such as Liberia, Rwanda, Iraq and the Ivory Coast. The
looting of diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was also
discussed with recommendations to prosecute those implicated.
Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
secretary for external affairs, who was part of a delegation comprising MDC
and Zanu PF MPs that attended the conference, said individuals and
organisations in the country could approach the ICC.
"Individuals or organisations in Zimbabwe, such as ZimRights
the ICC and call for the prosecution of Zimbabwean leaders in cases of
genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes," said Mzila-Ndlovu.
"We must, at the MDC, put pressure on the ICC to rein
in the situation in
Zimbabwe. The government of Zimbabwe is perpetrating human rights abuses
with impunity, and does not want to ratify the Rome Statute for that
The authorities in Harare have been
dithering over ratification of the Rome
Statute, despite President Mugabe's government having agreed in 1998 to the
formation of the ICC. Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa evaded a question
in parliament two months ago on the ratification of the Rome Statute, saying
that he didn't have enough information at hand.
Last year a group of Zimbabweans sued Mugabe's
government in the United
States over their relatives who were victims of the orgy of violence and
mayhem that swept through the country at the height of the farm invasions
and parliamentary elections in 2000.
Jenni Williams seizes ZIPR trophy
JENNI Williams, last year's Communicator of the Year (Coty) award nominee,
has taken possession of the winner's trophy to prevent this year's award
from being manipulated by its sponsors, British American Tobacco Zimbabwe
The award is made annually by the Zimbabwe Institute for Public Relations
Williams, now with Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (Woza), this week said she had
deposited the trophy with Lawyers for Human Rights for safekeeping. Taking
the trophy hostage could scuttle this year's event, scheduled for November
27 in Harare.
She wants BATZ
to apologise for allegedly politicising the event.
"I will only allow its release when BATZ apologises and recognises that by
cancelling last year's competition, they attempted to politicise the art of
communication and silence freedom of expression," Williams said.
Last year BATZ pulled
out its sponsorship of the Coty award alleging that
Williams, one of the nominees, was a controversial figure.
Williams was Commercial
Far-mers Union spokesperson before she moved to
Justice for Agriculture. The organisations were fighting government over its
implementation of the land reform programme. Williams at the time emerged as
a fiery spokesperson for the farmers.
Last year BATZ gave an ultimatum to the organisers of
the event, the
Zimbabwe Institute of Public Relations (ZIPR) to withdraw Williams'
nomination or they would cancel their sponsorship.
is uncomfortable with these awards becoming socially and/or
politically motivated so Williams should withdraw or the people who
nominated her should withdraw their nomination," BATZ corporate affairs
manager, Peter Parirewa, said in letter dated September 19 2002.
Williams refused to withdraw saying that her nomination was valid.
"I am a professional
communicator and as such cannot be accused of political
bias. My role as a communicator should be separate from that of the product
I communicate," she said.
Criteria used for nominations were also changed, allegedly to
"I ask to be judged on the professionalism
under which the product/view or
issue was communicated and the results thereof. Freedom of expression is
enshrined in the Zimbabwe constitution and it is the right of these
expressions to be communicated and judged unhindered," Williams said.
Succession team leaves divisions in
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe recently disbanded the controversial Zanu PF
succession committee after a damaging row erupted in the ruling party over
High-level official sources said Mugabe dissolved the committee to
avoid fuelling the escalating succession struggle that was slowly
degenerating into a dog-eat-dog affair.
The team, whose architect and prime mover was retired
General Solomon Mujuru, comprised Zanu PF politburo heavyweights who were
anxious to gather people's views on Mugabe's succession nationwide.
Sources said Mugabe sanctioned the committee after
he was approached
by secretary for external affairs Didymus Mutasa on behalf of senior party
members. He was however rattled by his lieutenants' manoeuvres for his
Mutasa approached Mugabe after the
president declared the succession
debate open in April. His move followed meetings in Manicaland over who
should succeed Mugabe.
According to Mutasa, a Zanu PF provincial committee in Manicaland
discussed the issue before party members privately approached him.
Sources said Mujuru was one of those who approached Mutasa and asked
him to put out feelers to Mugabe on the issue. Mutasa obliged but only
received half-hearted approval from Mugabe.
It is understood the late Vice-President
Simon Muzenda and Joseph
Msika were strongly opposed to Mutasa's initiative because they regarded it
They believed the
move, which directly threatened their own positions,
would set a bad precedent in the party.
The two leaders thought succession
should be dealt with through party
structures but Mugabe all the same gave Mutasa the go-ahead. The committee,
chaired by Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa, later
recruited senior party members to spearhead the debate.
But Mujuru, who together with politburo
heavyweights retired Air
Marshal Josiah Tungamirai and Dumiso Dabengwa had earlier met Mugabe over
the issue, remained in control of the contested succession team.
When inevitable bickering broke out among Zanu
PF bigwigs over the
committee, Mugabe intervened and disbanded it.
However, it is thought Mujuru and his camp are keen on
committee. Mujuru, Tungamirai and Dabengwa are said to be opposed to Zanu PF
secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa's ascendancy.
It is understood they have told Mugabe they will not back Mnangagwa's
Despite his persistent
denials about it, Mnangagwa is seen as Mugabe's
anointed successor. But he faces a serious challenge from Zanu PF chair John
Nkomo who now ranks third after Mugabe and Msika. Nkomo is said to be
currently consolidating his position for a bid for Mugabe's crown.
Mahoso claims Misa defying law
MEDIA and Information Commission (MIC) chairman Tafataona Mahoso has claimed
the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter (Misa-Zimbabwe) is a
foreign mass media organisation in the business of selling news.
In his sworn affidavit opposing a Misa-Zimbabwe High Court application for a
declaration that it is not a mass media house, Mahoso offered reasons why
Misa-Zimbabwe should register with the MIC.
Misa-Zimbabwe was "really not Zimbabwean" and should comply with the
laws of the country.
"It (Misa) is an extension of a foreign body housed out
there in Namibia and
funded by overseas donors," said Mahoso.
"Such a foreigner must be made to respect our law first and
foremost. Such a
foreigner must not be allowed to engage in acts that subvert our laws by
using donor funds to incite law-abiding citizens to defy the law," he said.
He said Misa-Zimbabwe also fell within the definition
of a mass media house
because it sold its products through third parties.
"It is public knowledge that applicant (Misa-Zimbabwe) has
and selling some of its media products regularly to the Zimbabwean public
through such print media as the Independent, the Standard and the Financial
Gazette," he said.
Annexured to Mahoso's
affidavit as evidence of the said products are
editorial contributions written by Misa-Zimbabwe officers Takura Zhangazha
and Rashweat Mukundu in their personal capacities. By inference, Mahoso
suggests in his affidavit that Misa-Zimbabwe benefited financially from
articles written by Mukundu and Zhangazha.
Mahoso also said Misa-Zimbabwe was defying the law and
encouraging others to
do the same.
"The applicant has advised, for
example, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(Pvt) Ltd (ANZ) to defy the registration requirements of the Act with the
result which is now common cause; the newspaper had to be shut down for
operating illegally," Mahoso said.
"Of course applicant teaches or preaches what it practises. It
the law by continuing with its operations outside the law.
"Like its obedient student, the ANZ, it now approaches this
to rubber stamp its standing decision that it cannot be bound by a piece of
legislation which it considers unconstitutional," he said.
Mahoso said Misa-Zimbabwe was a mass media provider on a "scale
all the other media players in the country as it is engaged in both print
and electronic forms of the mass media".
It is not
clear which electronic media Mahoso thinks Misa runs.
Frustration with Mugabe hits food aid
DONORS have pledged less than a quarter of the food assistance Zimbabwe
appealed for, throwing into doubt government's capacity to import sufficient
food and avert starvation in the country, the Zimbabwe Independent heard
Diplomatic sources said so far the US, the European Union and Australia were
the only donors to respond to the appeal issued by the United Nations' World
Food Programme (WFP) in July. They have contributed US$37 million, US$28,5
million and US$7,5 million respectively.
The WFP has appealed for US$308 million to feed 6,5
million people facing
starvation in southern African through to June next year. Of that figure,
4,5 million are Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe appealed for US$142 million to finance the importation of
an estimated 711 835 tonnes of maize to make up for the deficit.
Diplomatic sources said although donors' resources were
stretched this year
due to the situation in Iraq, Liberia and other West African countries,
disgust with President Robert Mugabe's government was also hurting the
"Donor fatigue over Mugabe's damaging economic
policies is hurting the
response to the appeal," one source said.
The WFP last week said its funding for emergency food aid was
about to run
out, threatening more than six million people in southern Africa with
The WFP said it needs US$235 million to assure
continued food aid delivery
to six southern African nations, but contributions are falling far short of
the amount needed. In the June 2002-June 2003 period, the WFP raised US$443
million in funding.
Zimbabwe's economy has been in freefall for the past four
years because of
government's chaotic land reform. Bad weather has only compounded a
shortfall in this year's grain crop.
director Mike Sackett said the agency expects to put two-thirds
of its aid resources into Zimbabwe in the coming months.
Donors/govt on collision course
A CLASH looks increasingly likely between donors and government as
politicians continue to flout guidelines for food distribution to benefit
Information to hand indicates that despite government’s recent assurances
that it would not interfere with non-governmental organisations in their
humanitarian aid activities, the situation on the ground suggests food
continues to be used as a political tool.
This has prompted donors to set stringent conditions for assistance.
Government recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the
United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) stating that there should be no
political interference in the distribution of food aid, which is handled by
The government in August announced its intention to own and control the
process of food distribution through a new policy that compels NGOs to use
local structures such as chiefs, headmen and councils.
“No international donor can tell us that the government should not be
involved in food distribution when we are the ones who asked for the food in
the first place,” Labour and Social Welfare minister July Moyo was quoted as
saying in support of the new policy.
The statement created an outcry in the donor community and the government
was forced to climb down, hence the signing of the MOU.
But despite the agreement, the issue of food distribution continues to
create tension between NGOs and government, which has accused civic groups
of pandering to the whims of the West.
Aid workers this week said the agreed tenets of food distribution were not
being passed down to ward councillors and traditional leaders.
“Village heads and councillors are being told that the food being brought in
by donors is a direct intervention by President Mugabe and not the product
of British, European or American generosity,” said an aid worker.
Diplomats said multilateral and bilateral donors were still not convinced
that Zanu PF structures in rural areas would not politicise food
distribution. Evidence was that ministers were telling district
administrators that whatever assurances were given to the international
community, government must still control the process on the ground. Food is
now considered a key instrument in the politics of control by Zanu PF which
is struggling to gather “gifts” for its rural fiefdom.
WFP spokesperson Makena Walker said NGOs distributing food aid had adopted a
zero tolerance on political influence. She said appropriate action would be
taken in response to every incident.
“Thorough investigations will be instituted with all key stakeholders,
including UN agencies, donors, NGOs and others,” Walker said. “However, the
reaction will be determined by how each and every case comes. For example,
last year we were forced to suspend food aid distribution in Insiza for six
months until the situation stabilised.”
Observers say there are important distinctions to be made in the approach of
organisations like the United Nations Development Programme and WFP on the
one hand and donors on the other.
Major donors such as the US and EU are keen to see irreversible mechanisms
in place for non-partisan food distribution whereas UN agencies are more
concerned with remaining engaged with the Zimbabwe authorities.
The European Union, one of the key donors of humanitarian assistance, has
drafted guidelines for food aid distribution in Zimbabwe. They bar
politicians from involvement in food distribution.
“EU food aid is provided on the basis of priority of human need alone,
without conditionality or partisan grounds,” the guidelines said.
Last year, the EU reacted strongly to allegations that government was
politicising food aid.
“We would like to strongly react against the fact that the Zimbabwe
government is using our aid and our food to put political and economic
pressure on its own people,” said Bertel Haarder, European Affairs minister
of Denmark, which held the EU presidency. “They use our aid as a tool in the
domestic fight against the opposition in order to survive and that is not
acceptable,” he said at the time.
Member states of the EU this week said the economic bloc might have jumped
the gun in May when it announced a 13-million euro humanitarian aid package
to Zimbabwe before ensuring that aid would not be politicised.
“Assurances from the likes of Social Welfare minister July Moyo and his
secretary (Sydney) Mhishi that government would not interfere with food aid
distribution should be taken with a pinch of salt,” said a US aid worker
based in Harare.
“The government has deliberately ensured that traditional leaders and ward
councillors are kept in the dark regarding ground rules for food
distribution. Aid workers have problems explaining the rules to these
leaders who always feel belittled by us,” she said.
Foreign Affairs deputy minister and MP for Gwanda South Abednico Ncube is
alleged to have recently stopped a food aid distribution exercise so that
villagers could attend a Zanu PF rally he was due to address in the
Ncube’s bodyguards are alleged to have fired shots after skirmishes with
youths who were eventually arrested for refusing to attend the rally.
The incident happened two weeks ago at Bengo primary school near Manama
mission where a German non-governmental organisation, Help, was about to
distribute food aid to villagers.
The MDC provincial spokesman for Matabeleland South and deputy mayor for
Gwanda, Petros Mukwena, who said he was present at the food distribution
point, confirmed the incident.
“The government has been denying that some of its officials are politicising
food aid but some of our members were denied food right under our eyes by
the ward councillor Ephraim Nare and we are saying that is unacceptable,”
Efforts to get a comment from Ncube on the matter proved fruitless as he was
not available on his mobile phone.
An eye-witnesses who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent said after Ncube had
ordered the food aid distribution to be stopped he sent party youths to
collect people from surrounding areas and when they got to the business
centre they saw three youths one of whom was wearing an MDC T-shirt.
The militia who were with Ncube’s bodyguards gave chase and when they failed
to catch up with the youths they fired two shots into the air but the youths
did not stop.
They however managed to apprehend two of them who they handed over to the
Police at Guyu police station confirmed the incident and said they were
investigating the matter.
“There were shooting incidents at the business centre but we are still
investigating what really happened,” said a policeman who did not identify
himself. — Staff Writers.
The nation’s wish-list for the 2004 budget
THE arrival of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Herbert
Murerwa, at parliament with the renowned black briefcase containing Zimbabwe
’s 2004 budget proposals is imminent. Officially that is to occur on
Thursday, October 23, but if the experiences of recent years are anything to
go by, there will undoubtedly be a rescheduling of dates and it is more
probable that the budget will only be presented on either November 13 or 20.
That remains to be seen!
Officials of his ministry are working vigorously and for hours far greater
than are normal for the civil service, in an endeavour to produce next year’
s budget. They are very well aware that they are confronted with a virtually
insurmountable task, for they need to ensure that government spending be
frugal and at levels that do not create an unsustainable deficit and further
massive growth of the national debt. But doing so is gravely hindered by the
difficulty of obtaining sufficient revenues to meet essential expenditure,
for the distressed state of the economy is such that the budgetary craftsmen
know that exacting state revenues from that economy must not be to an extent
as will exacerbate the distressed economic state.
They are aware that, in fact, there is a very great need for the budget to
be one which can stimulate economic recovery, but on the one hand resources
required to incentivise development of the economy are minimal and, on the
other hand, the officials are very aware that an environment conducive to
economic wellbeing cannot be created without political will, and it is not
within their ability to make the political hierarchy transform and bring
such an environment into being.
Nevertheless, there is a great deal that desperately needs to be dealt with
constructively in the budget. First of all, the ministry must emphasise
firmly to the president and cabinet that prioritisation of expenditure must
reign supreme. Essentials must be serviced before perceivable desirables.
Thus, of greatest importance is that the Ministry of Health and Child
Welfare be given a Vote sufficiently great that the health needs of
Zimbabweans can be fully addressed. That ministry’s Vote must, in real
terms, suffice to pay doctors, nurses and other medical personnel,
meaningful market-related salaries, and to ensure that hospitals do not have
to close for lack of food, or patients suffer or die for lack of
medications. All equipment must be maintained in constant working order.
In like manner, the two education ministries are in very great need. They
are unable to pay fair salaries to university lecturers, teachers and
others. They cannot provide schools and institutions of higher learning with
necessary and sufficient teaching and learning aids. And the Vote for Social
Welfare needs to be very markedly increased, for ever more Zimbabweans are
becoming impoverished to the point of total despair and jeopardy to very
survival. It is estimated that Zimbabwe has almost 500 000 Aids orphans, and
nearly four million afflicted with HIV or full-blown Aids. Well over three
million Zimbabweans are unemployed. Pensioners are suffering grievously as
their miserably low pensions have their purchasing power continuously eroded
by the ravages of Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation.
But meeting increased funding for these ministries means that other
expenditure must suffer draconian reductions. And it should be readily
possible to do so. There can be no justification for the vast expenditures
of the Ministry of Information and Publicity. Many, many millions, if not
billions, are expended upon endlessly repeated advertisements and jingles on
radio and television extolling (falsely) the magnificent achievements of
Zimbabwe’s ill-conceived, and even more ill-managed, land reform programmes.
Even more is spent to fight the battles of the ruling party by endless
attacks on opposition parties, being a gross abuse of public funds. Surely,
if money is to be wasted upon such fruitless and meaningless outpourings of
political vitriol, it should be the monies of the ruling party, not of the
state? And still greater amounts are spent by that ministry on endless
dissemination of disinformation. It is not within the authority of the
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to dissolve the so-called
Ministry of Information and Publicity, but it can at least try to curb and
contain its wasteful expenditures.
A second area where expenditure can undoubtedly be reduced would be by a
significant slashing of the Vote of the President’s Office. A reduction in
the gargantuan infrastructure necessitated by an excessive number of
Ministers of State in the President’s Office, and by a destructive network
of misplaced information gathering by the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) would save vast sums. So too would be a marked curtailment of
international travel by not only the President but also by an ever-present,
The reduction in Votes of other ministries would also contribute to
provision of funds that should necessarily be spent. Foremost of them are
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the Ministry of Defence. The former
maintains a worldwide network of embassies and supportive infrastructures,
but to little beneficial purpose.
Policies by government at home negate any possibility of good relationships
with many of the countries in which Zimbabwe has a diplomatic corps, and few
of the embassies are able to contribute constructively to trade between
their host countries and Zimbabwe, for Zimbabwe’s economic mismanagement
increasingly destroys opportunities of economic trade.
At least half of Zimbabwe’s embassies abroad should be closed, thereby
saving monies which can be put to more productive use, whilst at the same
time reducing the drain upon Zimbabwe’s scarce foreign exchange resources.
Likewise, Zimbabwe needs to diminish substantially its expenditures on
defence. The foolhardy involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
which cost Zimbabwe untold billions, has ended, and Zimbabwe is at peace
with all its neighbours. Whilst some defence infrastructure is always
necessary, Zimbabwe cannot require one of the present magnitude, involving
massive costs beyond Zimbabwe’s means.
One further major opportunity exists to contain expenditure by government,
and thereby to having the funding for essential purposes, and that is for a
determined implementation of measures to reduce corruption within the public
sector. Corruption is not an exclusive domain of that sector, being also
very pronounced within the private sector, but that does not detract from
the magnitude of corruption in many of the corridors of government.
The populace abounds with stories of demands for “commissions”, “fees”, and
“goodwill gestures” in order to steer contracts in the direction of those
upon whom the demands are made. Wheresoever those in the private sector are
unlawfully succumb to those demands, they add the amounts involved into
their contract prices.
Effectively, therefore, it is the state itself which is paying the bribes!
Just as prevalent is the abuse of state assets by some within the public
There are those who believe it is a right of their employment by government
to make endless domestic and international telephone calls of a private
nature from their offices or on state-financed mobile telephones. They
consider they are similarly entitled to avail themselves of stationery,
petroleum and other government resources for their own, private purposes.
The ways of abuse of state assets and of other corrupt acts are countless.
Of course, in order to finance very necessary expenditure, be it on health,
education, motivation of economic growth, or otherwise, the government must
necessarily not only look at expenditure reduction, but also at revenue
enhancement. Most effective and nationally beneficial is to ensure the
recovery of the economy, and the economy’s continuing growth, which would
automatically broaden and expand the taxable base.
That will take time, but can be accelerated if, on the one hand, the
Ministry of Finance and Economic Development could convince the president
and his cabinet of a drastic transformation of policy. On the other hand,
although not as expeditious and effective, some economic growth can be
brought about by constructive and meaningful incentivisation, as distinct
from often meaningless or unsubstantial tax-based incentives.
And balancing the budget would also be facilitated very considerably if
Zimbabwe did the necessary so as to cease being an international pariah. Was
it to restore law and order, revert to a democracy, restructure the land
reform programme constructively, repair its international relations, and
pursue a deregulation of the economy instead of a command economy,
government would find much financial support forthcoming from beyond
Regrettably, the prospect of the 2004 budget being founded upon any of the
aforegoing is exceptionally remote.
Mugabe needs a tour of Harare Hospital
SO Media Information Circus chairman Tafataona Mahoso has said he will be
going after the Standard for “writing lies”? He claims the paper has been
“carrying stories with initials as bylines”.
At least they don’t have circulation managers writing obituaries. And what
is the difference between initials and bylines like “Under the Surface” and
“Sunday Buzz” (who seems to have buzzed off)?
ZUJ recently wrote to Zimpapers to complain about its use of an unlicensed
journalist, Shingai Rukwata Ndoro who is a circulation manager at the
state-owned company. He plagiarised a biography of Simon Muzenda written by
Diana Mitchell. The Herald inserted a tiny “acknowledgement” three days
later. It conceded the profile was “largely derived” from Mitchell’s 1980
Who’s Who of African nationalist leaders.
“This man is illegally operating as a journalist,” ZUJ national council
member Cyril Zenda wrote to Zimpapers management. “He is neither trained nor
registered and has been churning (out) article after article, sometimes as a
columnist and the latest as a reporter.”
If Mahoso attempts to make a case against the Standard for carrying columns
to which he objects, the Standard should not hesitate to ask him what he has
done in the case of Zimpapers managers moonlighting as journalists. They
should make an issue of this. How acceptable is it to have circulation
managers writing columns in publicly-owned newspapers?
Mahoso should also be asked for his views on Nathaniel Manheru’s scurrilous
remarks about veteran journalist Bill Saidi in the Saturday Herald of
September 26. Was this acceptable journalism?
We would hate to think Mahoso is focusing exclusively on the private media
while ignoring unethical conduct in the government media.
Has anybody out there spotted a tourist yet? The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
seems to think there has been a 100% increase in tourist numbers since last
year. The turnaround is attributed to a more muted stance by the independent
“The media onslaught on the economy which resulted in a lot of negative
publicity by the private press has subsided and there has been a lot of
positive coverage on Zimbabwe,” a ZTA official was quoted as saying in the
Sunday Mail. Zimbabwe was rated as one of the safest tourist destinations in
the world, the official chirped.
Tacked on to this was a paragraph saying: “The Department of Information and
Publicity in the President’s office has also taken concrete steps to market
the country as a prime tourist destination of unique international repute.”
We all know what that repute is: a government that has completely wrecked a
hitherto lucrative industry by encouraging the invasion of conservancies and
game parks, which has seen the decimation of wildlife, and inciting a
climate of insecurity. The figure of a 100% increase in tourism is only
accurate if we accept there was one tourist last year and now there are two!
But where are all these mythical tourists? Has anybody seen them?
An article alongside this delusional nonsense said the ZTA was having
difficulty collecting the 2% tourism levy from operators. The levy goes to
bankrolling the ZTA.
We are not surprised. Why should operators pay to sustain a manifestly
partisan body that sees its mission as misleading the public about the real
reasons for the slump in tourism? Does the ZTA seriously believe that the
collapse is attributable to the private press and not to a president and
party that have inspired racist hostility towards a minority, destroyed the
nation’s rich wildlife heritage and created a lawless environment in which
the police will determine the politics of a crime report before responding
The last thing the tourism industry needs as it struggles to function in
Zimbabwe’s toxic political climate is another parasitic parastatal that
collects large amounts of their money without their approval and without
providing a useful service in return.
SABC reported, by the way, that teams competing in this year’s International
Tiger Fish Tournament, much touted in the state media, were down from 270
last year to 180 this year — a record low. That piece of information appears
to have escaped the ZTA, ZBC and the Herald!
Jonathan Moyo, having been rather subdued in recent weeks, has once again
reSurfaced and resumed his vitriol. He has been raving on about “weapons of
The only weapons of mass deception we know of are those he has been clumsily
manipulating at Herald House. These are the instruments that misled us about
Simon Muzenda’s health, Mugabe’s attendance at the Abuja Chogm, the number
of people resettled, and an agricultural miracle around the corner.
Moyo told his audience at the opening of the hapless New Ziana last Friday
that a lot of media organisations that were now presenting themselves as
champions of democracy and the rule of law were the ones that were against
the liberation struggle.
This must have been a reference to the Herald, the Chronicle and the Sunday
Mail. They were the only organisations around then that opposed the
liberation struggle. He might also have been including the predecessor of
Ziana. We don’t recall the BBC supporting the Smith regime. In fact it set
up a transmitter in Botswana to counter the RBC’s propaganda, just as
Zimbabweans are having to do now in relation to ZBC.
“Government did not shut down the Daily News,” Moyo claimed. The “relevant
arm of the government — the police — had to stop the Daily News from
publishing”. It was a “victim of the rule of law”.
So the government didn’t shut down the Daily News; its “relevant arm” did?
All a bit confusing!
And the paper has become the victim of a law that has yet to be tested for
We liked the way Moyo said “money was not going to make the New Ziana”.
Which is just as well because it doesn’t have any. The Minister of Finance
appears reluctant to help him out. Suggestions that this might explain the
state’s raid on the Daily News’ equipment are obviously mischievous. But the
fact remains, New Ziana’s future is far from “bright”, especially with the
highly unstable Moyo claiming we can’t have anarchy in the media while
creating it all around him!
And by the way, was threatening “death” to the VOA’s Studio 7 the shrewdest
way to win friends and influence people?
Moyo is particularly resentful that foreign news stations like the BBC and
CNN give the impression that Zimbabwe’s struggle for democracy began in 1999
with the emergence of the NCA and the Daily News.
“Is that the historical orientation we want for ourselves?” he asked.
Moyo’s annoyance is understandable. That is the year he took on the task of
selling the constitutional commission’s flawed recommendations to the
public. That is the year he made his Faustian pact with Mugabe. And yes,
that is the year that marks the beginning of the groundswell of resistance
Moyo claims democracy and the rule of law were established in 1980. If so,
why did he take a less indulgent view in his written work in the 1980s and
90s? Can we have some consistency here!
Can somebody please take President Mugabe on a tour of Parirenyatwa and
Harare hospitals. He appears to think everything is OK in the health sector.
“Our land reform seeks naturally to complement the dramatic and unequalled
strides we have made in health and education,” he said in a speech to mark
the Day of the African Child.
What planet does he live on? Has he any idea of the realities of daily life?
In particular, does he have a clue about conditions in the health sector?
This shocking state of affairs results in part because he diverted scarce
resources to the war in the DRC.
But once again we had the government media unquestioningly repeating this
“Dramatic breakthroughs in health, education, science and technology had
brought the country to a unique point in history,” he told youths dressed as
defence force officers. He did admit that “daunting realities were a
millstone around this progress”. But he omitted to tell the toy soldiers who
that millstone was!
By the way, do parents really want the public to mistake their kids for
Chihuri, Shiri, Zvinavashe, etc?
Regular viewers of ZTV will know that the shrill Judith Makanya is not shy
in advertising her adherence to the government’s bankrupt claims about
British imperialism. It may come as some surprise therefore to learn that
she has been a regular applicant for the British government’s Chevening
This was described recently by one government source as “spy training”.
But have no fear. Judith is not likely to fall into the hands of the
Breetish. Her chances of improving her propaganda skills in the UK are
between zero and zero, Muckraker has been reliably told.
We see our old friend the “African ambassador” is back in the pages of the
Sunday Mail. He has been taking some well-deserved leave after commenting at
length on a range of issues from his offices not far from Munhumutapa
Building. But now he is back to say how “shocked” the diplomatic community
is “by the way some people are trying to distort the truth” about the Daily
The paper should not expect to be rewarded for breaking the law, he said in
language remarkably similar to the minister’s. What a coincidence!
President Thabo Mbeki is delighted with JM Coetzee’s Nobel Prize for
Literature, according to the Sunday Times.
“We take off our hats to and salute our latest Nobel Laureate and bask with
him in the glory radiating from his singular recognition,” presidential
spokesman Bheki Khumalo gushed.
As the paper’s Hogarth columnist notes, this all sounds a bit strange. Just
three years ago in its submission to the Human Rights Commission inquiry on
racism in the media, the ANC said of Coetzee’s book, Disgrace: “JM Coetzee
represents as brutally as he can the white people’s perception of the
post-apartheid black man.”
Is it now conceded that such criticism, like much of the “evidence” to the
HRC, was plain daft?
Hogarth this week listed, courtesy of Britain’s Daily Mail,
some of the
dumbest answers given on the popular quiz show, The Weakest Link.
Asked by Ann Robinson who wrote the political treatise Das Kapital, a
contestant answered: “John Major.”
Another was asked which of the Marx Brothers remained silent throughout all
their movies: “Karl,” he answered.
“Which Indian leader whose last name begins with ‘G’ took the title
Mahatma?” a third was asked.
“Geronimo” was the answer given!
The president last week attended prize-giving at the Convent where his
daughter is enrolled as a pupil, Muckraker understands. The little Mugabe
won a “progress” prize. Sadly, no such award could be made to Dad.
Budget no panacea for deepening crisis
FINANCE minister Herbert Murerwa faces an unenviable task in crafting his
budget which should be receiving its finishing touches this month.
Scheduled for presentation to parliament on October 23, a tradition is
emerging where it in fact appears later. Expect it on a Thursday in mid to
Murerwa is only too aware of the impossibility of his mission: to rein in
spending that is fuelling inflation while at the same time satisfying his
party’s increasingly desperate political needs.
Government’s voracious appetite for funds stems from its need to propitiate
a local constituency and bridge a yawning gulf between income and
expenditure. Hence ministries that should be modest in their needs receive
allocations (called “votes”) that are difficult to justify.
What for instance has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs achieved in recent
years apart from providing sheltered employment to people who would have
difficulty finding employment in the private sector? Scarce foreign currency
is expended on keeping Zimbabwean diplomats in a style to which they have
become accustomed without in return serving any tangible national need apart
from distributing Department of Information statements. Zimbabwe is today
more isolated than ever despite large amounts spent on Foreign Affairs.
Old-guard apparatchiks like Simbarashe Mumbengegwi in London and Cain
Mathema in Lusaka court rididcule by claiming that reports that people are
starving in Zimbabwe are part of a British plot to discredit the country.
This is at a time when the government is actively seeking donor food aid.
Another behemoth, the Office of the President, consumes vast resources while
serving the partisan needs of Mugabe and his followers. Part of its vote is
not subject to scrutiny by the auditor-general on the grounds that it
includes sensitive expenditures. Then there are the president’s extravagant
travel habits which show no sign of curtailment despite the country’s predic
The President’s Office employs a host of ministers of state who would be
hard-pressed to justify their salaries. And its Information and Publicity
Department abuses public funds to pursue a vicious vendetta against the
private press and subvert professionalism in the public media.
The Defence ministry traditionally comes second after Education as the
largest consumer of public funds. Despite the prevalence of peace in the
region it continues to add to its armoury while keeping the generals sweet.
It is, like Foreign Affairs, a highly politicised ministry where the public
interest comes second to Mugabe’s.
The health sector is in desperate need of funds to retain skilled personnel
and procure medicines. Mugabe spoke this week about the “unequalled strides”
the country has taken in health and education. He appears unaware those
strides have been backwards as distortions in economic management have seen
post-Independence gains subverted at a time when the HIV/Aids pandemic needs
to be faced down.
More than anything else Zimbabwe needs an enabling economic environment. At
present business is regarded as an enemy to be harassed and fined for trying
to survive. Hostile political statements by the police this week will have
added to the impression of a sector under siege by a vindictive regime
Murerwa can probably do more to incentivise the business sector beyond tax
concessions and he can certainly contain monetary growth. But the key, as he
recognises, is to curb government’s own free-spending habits.
This is where he will encounter the brick wall of a president and politburo
who want to buy public support. That will include counter-productive price
controls that compound the problems of shortages and inflation.
Murerwa can’t win. So far he has failed to convince his cabinet colleagues
that economic recovery rests on improved governance and the reengagement of
the international community. The gang around Mugabe has set its face against
So we should not expect anything new or dramatic from the budget currently
under preparation. So long as the central issues remain untackled Zimbabwe’s
crisis is set to deepen.
Zimbabweans want early elections
MOST Zimbabweans want fresh presidential and parliamentary elections
urgently as a way to resolve the country's crisis, a survey has revealed.
The study, conducted by the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion Institute, an
independent research organisation, says most people have an overwhelming
desire for democratic reform and political change through elections.
"Most people want fresh elections and favour concurrent
parliamentary polls," the survey says.
majority of people, the solution to the problems facing the country
lies in dialogue. They expect the major parties (the ruling Zanu PF and
opposition Movement for Democratic Change) to compromise and climb down from
the positions so far maintained."
The survey says 59,2% of the
respondents want concurrent presidential and
parliamentary elections and of these, 59,8% want such elections to be held
immediately. At least 59,2% want constitutional amendments to facilitate
presidential elections are held every six years and parliamentary
polls after five years. Municipal polls are also held separately.
This has kept the country perpetually locked in electioneering.
The study says 51,3% of
those polled nationwide want President Robert Mugabe
"to retire now and pave way for fresh elections".
"About 69,9% are in favour of the formation
of a transitional government
that would organise a re-run of the presidential elections. About 55,6%
desire the formation of a government of national unity," it says.
"But the majority of people embrace the idea of a
vibrant democracy. Of the
39,8% who do not want a government of national unity, 40,5% say the
existence of an opposition party is vital for a thriving democracy."
(About) 40,5% say the MDC should not form a coalition
with Zanu PF because
"it is important to have an opposition for democracy to function
effectively". The poll said 36,1% do not trust Zanu PF and fear the MDC
could be "swallowed".
However, the research says people expect
Zanu PF and the MDC to resolve the
nation's crisis through dialogue.
"At least 80,0% of respondents say the two parties should
(while) 35,3% view both parties as currently not genuine in the negotiating
process. (Nearly) 39,7% of the respondents feel there should be no
conditions to these talks while 32,8% specifically say both parties should
strike a compromise," it says.
"With 38,9% and 36,8% opting
for external and internal mediators
respectively, it would appear that for most people the success of the talks
lies in commitment from both parties."
The survey points out that people are concerned about
"People want a democratic
process in the Zanu PF succession issue. (About)
60,4% want the party to choose a successor as opposed to 14,5% who want
President Mugabe to appoint one," it indicates.
"If presidential elections were to be held today,
Simba Makoni would be the Zanu PF candidate who would fare better against an
Farmers cautioned over fake seed
REPORTS have been received of some unscrupulous traders selling fake
seed and farmers are being warned that they risk losing their money and
their livelihood,by buying imitation seed.
Seed Co marketing manager Brien de Woronin said Police had been
informed of the bogus seed traders and the industry was embarking on an
exercise to advise farmers on how to check on the genuineness of seed.
"Farmers should be
wary of imitations. A bag of seed should have a
visible reputable company design, with a product description; a weight
declaration; and either have a machine printed label on a 25-kilogram unit,
or machine printed number directly on the plastic bag," said De Woronin.
than 25 kilogram units should not be hand sewn, but sewn
by a machine that is evenly stitched. Plastic bags should be heat sealed,
not stitched. Protective seed dressing, usually green for hybrid maize, is
an insecticide that should not rub off the seed easily."
He said farmers are strongly
advised not to purchase seed from an open
hybrid maize seed is always in a sealed bag, since this is
a legal certification requirement, and part of the guarantees and process of
certifying seed," he said.
Farmers buying bogus seed face
certain risks of crops not performing
to expectation. Such seed has no germination assurance; is not graded for
size and is susceptible to diseases. Certified seed maize produced by a
reputable seed company, has a guaranteed germination of 90%.
Fake seed found in the market place is
probably normal grain, which is
not a hybrid combination of inbreeds, covered with coloured dust.
"Yield will definitely suffer and the
farmer is likely to encounter
unnecessary disease pressure like grey leaf spot or maize and mottle streak
virus along with impure varietal traits, or a mixture of irregular plants,"
Seed houses, though
they are breeding work, are constantly evaluating
improved inbred seed maize combinations to provide farmers with better
focuses on improving yield, better disease tolerances and
greater agro-ecological adaptability of new products.
appealed to traders to take a responsible approach to the
products they buy for resale.
"Purchases should only be made from reputable
sources of supply such
as a seed company, wholesaler or retailer. Buying seed off the street at
unrealistically low prices needs to be avoided," said De Woronin. -
Call is ringing for the youth
MY heart goes out to Wilf Mbanga, Geoff Nyarota and all the other pioneers
of the great publication, the Daily News which was loved, read and had
become part of the daily lives of many. My heart goes out too to the
journalists who stand to lose their jobs, and bread for their families. Most
of all I feel greatly for all true lovers of freedom and justice within
Zimbabwe and in the Diaspora as we mark the escalation of Zanu PF's assault
on people's right to self-determination.
Zimbabwe remains entangled in crisis after crisis. Aids crisis. Cash crisis.
Fuel crisis. Food crisis. Higher education crisis. Governance crisis. Crisis
crisis. The nation is engulfed by depression and the violent seizure of one
of the few outlets of the people's frustrations must surely lead to the
boiling over of pent-up emotions.
it to Capital Radio and we all stood aside and looked. They bombed
the VOP and ostracised its workers and we remained quiet.
Then they switched
off JOY-TV, harrased and deported Mercedes Sayagues and
lately Andrew Meldrum and still we did not notice the covert but devious
machinations aimed at silencing the people's voice of dissent.
Now their guns are cocked and aimed at the Standard and the Zimbabwe
Independent. History though is littered with examples of how nations turn to
the youth in times of crisis. The liberation struggle here was carried on
the shoulders of young people, as it was in South Africa. Fidel Castro and
Ché, Mao Tse-tung and even contemporary revolutions like the one in
Indonesia have seen youths and students take the mantle to free their
In the Old
Testament, the Bible shows clearly that in times of crisis God
turns to the youth as was the case when He called on Moses to lead His
people from Egypt. Prophets like Jeremiah, Daniel and Samuel and great men
like David and Samson were called by God, by name to deliver His people from
both political and spiritual bondage.
The same call must ring in the ears of every young
Zimbabwean under the sun
to stand up and be involved in organising for a better Zimbabwe now. From
Mbare, Warren Park, Highfield, Mbizo, Rimuka, Sakubva, Mpopoma, Mucheke,
Zengeza etc, young people must conquer fear and work for their future if
ever there is going to be such. Zinasu, ZSCM, YMCA, YWCA, church youths and
all other countless youth movements must move up a gear in their quest for
justice, peace and healing and provide the engine for mass-mobilisation,
because when push comes to shove it's a game of numbers.
We cannot afford to be remembered as the generation without
generation that failed the country.
As we remember one
hero of our generation, Learnmore Judah Jongwe on October
22, let's all stand up to defend the little dignity we have left. Let us
stand up to Zanu PF, to the partisan police, to our rural brothers - the
Green Bombers, to Johno, Mahoso and the MIC-assassins of the free press at
Mkoba, UZ and wherever their places of work are (thanks for publishing their
names!). As we remember Judah Jongwe and many others who died or were driven
from their homes in the line of duty for freedom from hunger, violence and
Zanu PF let us gather in our twos and fours, organise, mobilise and stand up
for press freedom for soon there shall be noone left to say our story.
May God help us all.
The game plan
I HOPE a statement by our publisher, Trevor Ncube, in today's issue (see
local news) will have cleared up some of the disinformation being propagated
by the usual suspects in government about the future of the Zimbabwe
Independent and Standard.
A report appeared this week in the Sunday Mail claiming the Standard would
be going daily and that it would take on the Daily News' staff while dumping
its own. This was part of a deal between Ncube and the ANZ's Strive
Masiyiwa, it was suggested.
The evidence for this
front-page story headed "Underground forces move to
Daily News" was a discussion that was said to have taken place between John
Moeketsi of the Daily News and "Langton Nyakwenda of the Zimbabwe
was a little surprised to learn of this discussion because nobody by
name is on the staff of this newspaper. After a few enquiries I learnt that
Langton Nyakwenda is in fact a cub reporter on the sports desk at the
Standard. John Moeketsi is a trainee attached to the Daily News.
Nyakwenda, I should add, denies ever having held such a
points out that as a sports reporter he is hardly privy to whatever Trevor
and Strive may or may not be saying on the phone in Johannesburg!
But that's not the point. No such conversation between
the two media heads
took place. This was clearly a fabricated story, significantly without a
byline, designed to incriminate this paper and the Standard.
Which explains why I am taking the trouble this week to
refute such obvious
falsehoods from such a familiar source which the public is anyway unlikely
to take seriously!
Very simply this is part of
a strategy by the state to warrant moving
against our newspapers. Assuming in the unlikely event the journalists
involved would be prepared to take up such an offer, employing the
unaccredited Daily News' staff would obviously give the Media and
Information Commission the pretext it needs to act against the Standard. So
would increasing the frequency of either of our papers without notifying the
I recall the lies told about for-eign correspondents Joe Winter, Mercedes
Sayagues, and Andy Meldrum before they were pounced on. And the way the
Daily News was threatened and pilloried in the period leading up to its
Jonathan Moyo was reported to have said last Friday at
the launch of New Ziana that the Independent and Standard, along with the
Daily News, were "running dogs of imperialism" that published "trash".
"If we were serious people who do not want to apologise for who we are…
really we would shut these papers down because they are trash, they injure
the national interest," he was reported to have said.
Obviously much of this terminology was
not designed to be taken seriously.
Nobody expecting to command respect from his audience would revert to the
redundant language of the Chinese Cultural Revolution! He was playing to
some other gallery. But given the record of this regime for vindictive and
violent behaviour towards its critics, we would be foolish to dismiss Moyo's
threats as the overripe rhetoric of a minister livid with newspapers that
challenge his political pretensions.
His reported remarks that "Studio 7 will die", directed
at the Voice of
America's Zimbabwe service, were a reliable indication of the depth of
hostility that exists in government circles towards its growing list of
critics at home and abroad. Let us not forget that the people who planted a
bomb at the Daily News' printing press in January 2001 still walk free. So
do those who abducted and tortured Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto.
That tells us all we need to know about the government's
commitment to the
rule of law which Moyo endlessly recites. When ministers talk about the
"national interest" they are usually referring to their own!
The South African National Editors Forum has raised the ANZ
issue with South
Africa's deputy Foreign minister Aziz Pahad. He has in turn said he will
raise it with his counterparts in Harare. We don't expect them to take any
notice. But the South Africans are beginning to drop the mantra that the
Daily News has broken the law and therefore there were no grounds for
Did the ANC say in the 1970s and 80s that it was
obliged to obey apartheid
laws? Is it the South African view that laws that oppress Zimbabweans in
violation of constitutional guarantees have to be respected?
We hope not. The African Union and Sadc are facing the
litmus test of peer
review which President Olusegun Obasanjo says will be up and running in
Zimbabwe's friends have been saying to us
in respect of the Daily News case:
"What can we do?"
My answer is
very simple. Don't let them get away with it. Don't let
Obasanjo and President Mbeki claim the goodwill of donors and investors
while refusing to address the democratic needs of millions of Zimbabweans.
Don't let the authorities in Harare get away with criminal misrule including
attacks on newspapers.
For far too long now the South African authorities - and
other governments -
have swallowed hook, line and sinker assurances they have been given by
their counterparts in Harare. They have then repeated these assurances to
the international community. President Obasanjo was even persuaded to send a
letter to John Howard that he now appears to accept contained serious
distortions about the situation here.
leaders, especially those opposed to megaphone diplomacy, must stop
being megaphones for Mugabe.
It is a fundamental tenet of the Sadc Treaty
signed by all member states
that voters can only make an informed choice if they have access to a
diversity of views. That in turn can only come with press pluralism. A Misa
delegation which recently visited states in the region to clarify events at
ANZ pointed out that the African Commission on Human and People's Rights has
adopted a Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.
Principle VIII states that "any registration system for the print media
shall not impose substantive restrictions on the right to freedom of
Aippa clearly violates that tenet.
Sadc leaders are not living up to their international
Nepad peer review, they will need to be reminded of that.
Judiciary must not be too timid
By Alex Tawanda Magaisa
IN terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe there are three arms of state,
namely the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. While most members
of the executive and legislature are elected, members of the judiciary are
appointed by the president.
The judiciary is
important because it is considered as the last bastion for
the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. Chapter 3 of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms for all.
Section 3 of the
constitution stipulates that the constitution is the
supreme law of the country. Any legislation that is enacted by the
legislature must comply with the constitution, otherwise it is void. If any
person feels that a law violates the constitution they are entitled in terms
of s. 24 of the constitution, to bring a constitutional challenge in the
Supreme Court, the highest court in the land which also acts as the
Since the constitution provides that right, the court must
people have access to it without unnecessary limitation. A right that the
constitution guarantees must not be limited except in exceptional
In a democracy there is always a need
to balance the claims and rights of
the majority with those of minorities or individuals. Invariably the rights
of the majority are served through their control of the legislature and the
executive arms of the state. The majority can, through their control of
those arms of the state, enact legislation and make policies that serve
In executing its
constitutional role of judicial decision-making, the court
can sometimes find itself in situations where there are potential clashes
with the executive. The executive is always concerned when it considers that
the judiciary is intruding into its policymaking role. Similarly the
executive through the legislature is always protective of its law-making
role, insisting that the courts have no power to make law but only to
interpret it. While it is important that the judiciary takes care in its
decision-making so that it does not exceed its powers, it is also equally
important that it does not become too restrained, especially when policy or
legislation negatively affects fundamental rights.
The judiciary may fail in the execution
of its duty as the protector of the
constitution and fundamental rights when it loses its independence. The
independence of the judiciary is often under threat from the executive arm
of government. If judicial independence is undermined, it will be difficult
for citizens to protect and enforce their rights against the state. That is
why it is necessary in any democracy to ensure that conditions are conducive
to maintain the independence of the judiciary.
The independence of the judiciary hinges on a number of
factors that include
the nature of their appointment, security of tenure, remuneration and
political influence. In terms of the constitution judges are essentially
appointees of the president and Judicial Service Commission. Statements by
ministers that they were getting rid of the old judges and appointing their
own judges who would understand the agenda of the government do not help to
create an image of an independent judiciary.
is not to say that problems with judicial appointments are exclusive
Zimbabwe. In countries such as the US, there have also been problems when it
comes to the appointment of Supreme Court judges.
necessary however to always make the process of appointment clear
credible otherwise people lose confidence in the bench. Despite
constitutional provisions guaranteeing secure tenure of office for judges a
number of judges have either resigned or been forced out due to political
pressure during the current crisis in Zimbabwe. Whatever the case, it must
be worrying when so many members of the bench leave within a short period of
time. It is necessary to ensure that security of tenure of office exists in
The harassment of judges such as the
unconstitutional arrests of Justice
Blackie and Justice Paradza can also bring pressure on the judiciary. The
public and other judges have cause to worry that harassment is rooted in
political motives. Such actions undermine judicial independence as judges
will live in fear that if they make decisions that are not favourable to the
executive they will be humiliated in similar fashion. The judiciary has
consistently failed to attract talented lawyers, partly because it does not
offer good remuneration. Since judicial remuneration is in the hands of the
executive arm, there is always the danger that if the judiciary appears to
make decisions against the state, even if constitutionally their
remuneration cannot be reduced, it may never be raised in real terms. That
would leave them in a position in which they are too dependent on the state
and such a situation is not conducive to judicial independence.
In conclusion, the judiciary needs to inspire
confidence and trust among the
general population. Courts must be efficient and ensure that matters are
dealt with timeously. As they say, justice delayed is justice denied. The
fact that so many political cases have been pending before the High and
Supreme Courts long after they were brought to court makes people lose
confidence in the law as an institution that can assist them in times of
The judiciary cannot fulfil its role as the last bastion for the protection
of fundamental rights if its independence in the current political climate
is at risk. Some of the decisions that have been made in recent months do
not inspire confidence. Government legislation and policy must not come
before the rights of citizens.
theoretical separations of power are not sufficient. We should note the
words of an eminent US jurist who stated: "I often wonder whether we do not
rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These
are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies
there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it."
Alex Tawanda Magaisa
is a law lecturer at the University of Nottingham, UK.
Mugabe exposes own failure as a leader
By Chido Makunike
THE continuing multilayered crisis and decline in Zimbabwe are not just sad
because of the considerable suffering they are causing to the citizens. Nor
are the elite who are benefiting from skewed economics spared from the chaos
that is so abundantly obvious.
While most struggle to afford the minimal basics of a decent life that was
available to them just a few years ago, even the well-to-do have experienced
a marked diminution in the quality of life.
Service delivery across the board has
deteriorated, many things are in short
supply and even if one has the money, the process of getting those things is
often degrading. One has to queue for many basic services and so forth.
There is no one who can honestly claim they do not experience the
precipitous decline in the prospects of Zimbabwe.
But it is not just in the daily deprivations and
decline as a properly functional society has caused that is pathetic. Even
in the ways that we respond to the crises that present themselves to us as a
nation, we show ourselves to be embarrassingly immature. For all President
Mugabe's talk about "sovereignty," we are simply not managing it very well,
unless you reduce that concept to merely having citizens occupying certain
positions like Mugabe does, and separate it from what is accomplished for
the good of the nation with that sovereignty.
It would be naive and silly for a nation in transition
on so many fronts not
to have problems, even crises. What is lamentable is our clear lack of
seriousness to address the source of our problems and set about dealing with
them. It is astonishing how much of our national, and particularly
government energy, is squandered on things that are of little or no
Recently Mugabe went to grandstand at the United
Nations in New York as he
has loved to do for many years, naturally accompanied by Mrs Mugabe and a
few others. It is an opportunity to show the defiant pretext under which he
can sneak into the US that has imposed a travel ban on him and his cronies.
He can strut and pontificate before a world forum about his pet issues, and
countless luxury shops are within walking distance for any of the
presidential party who get their sense of worth from buying trinkets.
Mugabe gave a long rambling speech about
unequal global power relations that
had a lot of truth in it. He mentioned the unipolar world in which the US
can do as it pleases without any checks and balances, and how there is one
standard of conduct for the rich powerful countries, and another for the
weak poor countries. What was bizarre about Mugabe's antics were not so much
the veracity of much of what he had to say, but his choice of points to make
at this juncture in his career and in the life of his nation.
He wore his best suit and read his speech as well
as he always does, but I
was fascinated and appalled by how irrelevant the substance of his speech
was to the needs of his nation. One did not have any sense that this was a
man who was painfully aware that his country was in freefall on many fronts,
and that he was taking this opportunity to address the world to help stem
and reverse that decline. The many valid points he made about the world
power set-up had no chance of helping him move his country forward in any
One had the sense of a man who was
quite satisfied to score a few debating
points to the already converted than of one who chose his national
priorities well and chose to focus on them, leaving the grand worldly
visions for another time. He appeared to be completely oblivious of the fact
that it was most incongruous for a man who has presided over the failure of
his country in so many areas to be speaking so authoritatively about such
distant, disparate issues. Any authority to address the global issues that
he loves to do would best be from his having his own country as an example
of how to improve citizens' prospects for others to follow, and Zimbabwe
today is far from that.
defensive counter to the present sad state of the country he
incompetently presides over is to talk incessantly about the land reform
programme, and how it will solve all the various problems he likes to
lecture the world on. Yet there is virtually not one single parameter of
that programme that can give any neutral, objective observer hope that it
will any time soon restore the standard of living of the recent past, much
less empower any substantial proportion of Zimbabweans as he likes to
pretend is happening.
has openly admitted that his greedy, corrupt cronies have
disproportionately benefited from the programme, but he is too afraid and
compromised himself to do anything about it. But look at how eloquently he
waxes about the cynical behaviour of the US in Iraq, as if that is a
legitimate counter to his own shocking uselessness as a ruler!
There are many other examples of how
his confused regime simply bungles from
day to day, with no cohesive plan for moving the country forward. Look at
the amount of energy expended on trying to get Mugabe invited to the
December Commonwealth meeting in Nigeria after Zimbabwe's suspension last
year from that body. At that time his regime's response was that the
suspension was of little consequence, now they are desperate to go to the
summit. Their efforts so far seem to have come to naught, but suppose
Mugabe's pals Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki find a way to sneak him into
the meeting, so what?
The only "success" it
would exemplify would be at defying his opponents like
Britain and Australia, much like his "defiance" of the US travel ban by
still being able to enter that country under UN auspices. But honestly, has
statecraft been reduced to these kinds of childish games? Is this the kind
of embarrassing, irrelevant trivia we have in mind when we boast of
independence and sovereignty? Where is the joy in defying perceived or even
real enemies in these inconsequential ways when those enemies can have the
much greater satisfaction, if they are so inclined, to point at all the ways
that your country is not working even as you pose and grandstand at world
fora in your favourite suit?
Mugabe's antics are shocking and sad, not just in how they show
of a once great individual, but also how they show our sad lack of
seriousness in tackling problems for our own best interests.
Chido Makunike is a Harare-based writer
Press freedom light years away in Africa
"IN the shifting relationship between the press and the presidency over
nearly two centuries, there has been one primary constant: the
dissatisfaction of one with the other. No president has escaped press
criticism, and no president has considered himself fairly treated."
This observation was made about the relationship between the press and the
presidency in the United States. For Zimbabwe, it is merely two decades, and
for other African countries with an obsession for muzzling the press it has
been less than half a century. That is counting from 1957, the year of
In The Gambia, the government
earlier this year set up its own version of
the Media and Information Commission,and much like the Zimbabwean version,
it was met with criticism and resistance by the Gambia Press Union.
It seeks to license journalists from the independent press. That is the
stinking thinking of Africa's information czars: put newsmen and women from
the private press in a straitjacket and you solve all of the country's woes!
Olusegun Obasanjo has called for a "patriotic press" after
winning what the opposition called a flawed poll. International new agencies
were not accredited to cover the event. In Ethiopia, press laws are just as
restrictive and, as has become the norm on the continent, they are aimed at
journalists from private newspapers.
Last year two promi-nent
Ethiopian journalists were held by Meles Zenawi's
government for allegedly "disseminating false information that could incite
people to political violence". The Ethiopian Information minister then
"reaffirmed" that "journalists who publish false information would be
That could have happened in Zimbabwe! It is safe to
say that in Africa,
being a journalist is just as hazardous as being a member of the opposition.
African politicians view criticism by the press as
inimical to democracy -
and this is defined by the ruling parties. In the absence of an unfettered
press, would the world have known about the sins of Richard Nixon for
In the absence of intrepid news hounds, would the world have known about a
man called Pol Pot, a despot called Joseph Mobutu, or an alleged cannibal,
Idi Amin Dada?
The exposé on the
high crimes of Nixon was only possible through brilliant
investigative journalism by two men who are now regarded as among America's
finest sleuths. But does Africa have a place for investigative journalism?
relationship between the private press and African governments has
always bordered on belligerence on the part of governments, with laws
promulgated solely to throw critical journalists into the slammer. And if
not stinking prison cells, then death itself is not too distant as seen by
the murder of Carlos Cordoso in Mozambique. His death has been linked to the
greed of the rich and powerful. What is acceptable then becomes what the
legendary Willie Musarurwa called "sunshine journalism" - nothing critical
of the regime, just puff pieces to make sure you grow corns on your lips
kissing those in power!
The polygamous Swazi king has been in the international papers
times with his attempt to criminalise criticism of the royals. But looking
at the treatment the royals in Britain have received from the tabloids, it
shows we are worlds apart as far as journalistic freedom is concerned.
Societies cannot flourish when information highways are
littered with the
government's thought police bent on controlling what people can and cannot
read. If society has sacred cows, it means that though they rape, commit all
sorts of banditry, they would still share a cup of coffee with you with a
clear conscience. Why? Because nobody knows.
Evildoers should be exposed for what they are, and that is the
role of the
press, both private and public. As John Keane puts it his essay Democracy
and Media: Without Foundations (1995), "the redefinition of the public
service model (of the press) requires the development of a plurality of
non-state media of communication which both function as permanent thorns in
the side of political power - helping to minimise political censorship - and
serve as the primary means of communication for citizens situated within a
While the continent has come up with what
would appear to be Africa's
antidote to its perennial woes in the form of Nepad, which makes demands of
good governance, how is that good governance possible in the absence of a
free press? How will the leaders know how their peers are behaving?
It would be absurd in the absence of a free press
to expect governments to
monitor themselves! The contagion of African governments not willing to ease
their stranglehold on power has formed the anti-people thinking of many
information ministries across the continent. Everything in Zimbabwe has been
personalised by the regime, and it is no longer about the interest of the
people here, but the whims of politicians. The regime has become
If media are to flourish in
Zimbabwe, a new thinking that defines the role
of the press in a democracy should be demanded. And this can only be
realised when the men responsible for drafting the draconian press laws give
way to other compatriots who do not suffer from paranoia. But, this being
Africa, the age of an unfettered press could still be many years away.
Those in power are not yet ready to be accountable to the people who elected
Marko Phiri writes
Zimbabwe farm union forecasts even smaller harvests
October 10, 2003, 05:41 PM
Zimbabwe faces further losses in food and tobacco production this season due
to disruption from land seizures, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) says.
Aid agencies say 5.5 million Zimbabweans will need food aid by year-end
because of continuing shortfalls in domestic grain output.
Doug Taylor Freeme, the president of CFU, told Reuters at a farmers' union
meeting in South Africa that harassment of white farmers was continuing in
Zimbabwe, and areas devoted to key tobacco, wheat, maize and soybean
cultivation had been reduced.
The CFU represents the majority of Zimbabwe's white farmers, who have borne
the brunt of a land reform programme blamed by many for economic collapse as
farmers were turned off their land by government officials or bands of civil
Taylor Freeme said the CFU accounts for virtually all Zimbabwe's tobacco,
soybean and wheat production, as well as nearly half the 1.8 million tonnes
of maize consumed each year, the rest being produced by small farmers.
He said CFU farmers grew 800 000 tonnes of maize in 2000, but last season
harvested only around 80 000. He forecast CFU maize production in the
current season at 50 000 to 60 000 tonnes.
Separate data show small-scale black farmers produced around 800 000 tonnes
of maize last season, leaving a national shortfall of nearly one million
Taylor Freeme said tobacco production, a major source of foreign exchange
for the cash-strapped country - would drop to less than 50 million kilogram
this season, from 230 million kilogram three years ago.
The crop is now being planted and is due to be harvested in 2004.
The harvest just in was estimated at around 75 million kilogram, which he
said compared with a government forecast of 200 000 tonnes.
Taylor Freeme forecast the current wheat harvest at just 25 000 to 30 000
tonnes, a fraction of the 360 000 tonnes produced in the 2000 season.
Soybean production was expected at 30 000 tonnes in the current season, down
from around 175 000 tonnes in 2000, he added. - Reuters
Environment Debated in US Congress
United States Congress
October 10, 2003
Posted to the web October 10, 2003
An International Conservation Caucus has been set up
in the United States
Congress in the hope of promoting conservation projects in developing
countries. A bill was recently passed in the House of Representatives
supporting the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, an initiative piloted by
Secretary Colin Powell on his trip to central Africa last year. While
debating this bill the desperate situation surrounding Zimbabwe’s
environmental destruction was also mentioned and recorded. Below is the
relevant excerpt from the debate.
CONGO BASIN FOREST PARTNERSHIP ACT OF 2003 -- (House of Representatives)
Mr. ROYCE. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill
(H.R. 2264) to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2004 and 2005 to
carry out the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) program, and for other
The Clerk read as follows: H.R. 2264 Be it enacted by the Senate and House
of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Congo Basin Forest
Partnership Act of 2003''.
Mr. ROYCE. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from California
(Mr. Doolittle), who has traveled to sub-Saharan Africa to see how Africans
can better protect their endangered species.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Madam Speaker, I join with my colleagues and commend the
gentleman from California (Mr. Royce), the gentleman from California (Mr.
Lantos), and the authors of the bill, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Shaw)
and the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Payne), for this legislation.
Africa has obviously some tremendous natural resources. They have enormous
problems. They have a lack of freedom in that continent and throughout most
of the countries indeed of the continent, and this legislation will help
those people help themselves by conserving their forests.
Let me say, I am a strong logging advocate, but logging has to be done
right; and this legislation will help set that up so that we will have
logging and replanting, so that we will have sustainable forest practices so
that this natural resource is available for the present generation and for
generations to come. This is a goal that we seek to have here, and we do
have it here in the United States; and we would like to help the people in
the Congo River Basin to enjoy this as well.
I am sad to tell my colleagues that when we do not have good practices,
devastating results can occur. We see that, for example, in the country of
Zimbabwe, which was once my pleasure to visit, presently we have a brutal
dictator, anarchy reigns, and a ruling elite has taken over safari parks for
their own personal hunting grounds. We have settlers invading privately
owned game preserves and decimating the remaining stock of protected animals
such as the black rhinoceros. We have poachers setting on fire places like
the Matobo Hills in the south of the country. Indeed, this year that area
was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization; and yet these illegal poachers are
destroying not only thousands of acres of national park there but killing
vast stocks of wildlife, many of which are endangered species.
Madam Speaker, this area of the Congo is different than Zimbabwe, but the
principles are the same. We seek to apply good principles to help the people
lift themselves and to grow and to develop and to achieve better health and
longer life spans, and it will help them do it using their natural
resources. In like fashion, we hope that other enlightened policies around
the continent can be applied so that people will be able to enjoy in a
better fashion the rights that God has given them.
I am delighted to join with my colleagues in supporting this legislation.