ZANU PF SHUNS ELECTION CONFERENCE Tue 5 October
††††† PRETORIA - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party has shunned a
conference to discuss minimum standards for free and fair elections in the
country which opened here yesterday.
††††† The two-day conference was
organised by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) in partnership
with the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), the Centre
for Policy Studies (CPS), the Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South
Africa ††††† (Idasa) and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
††††† Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and ZANU PF secretary for
information and publicity Nathan Shamuyarira had confirmed participation but
cancelled at the last minute, according to conference
††††† However, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
deployed a high-powered delegation led by its deputy president Gibson
Sibanda and party secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
civic groups including the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Catholic
Commission for Justice and Peace, Human Rights Forum, Crisis Coalition
Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions and many others were also in attendance.
††††† SACC general
secretary Molefe Tsele described the absence of Shamuyarira and Chinamasa as
regrettable but refused to acknowledge that they had in fact shunned the
††††† "It (their absence) limits the circumstances in which
we wanted the debate here to take place," said Tsele. "But I cannot say they
have shunned the conference since they acknowledged its importance and had
expressed their commitment to attend."
††††† He said the two had
cited scheduling and diary problems as their reasons for not attending.
Shamuyarira had promised to nominate another person to attend the conference
but failed to fulfill the promise.
††††† MDC secretary general Welshman
Ncube said ZANU PF's absence was hardly surprising as it was consistent with
the ruling party's unilateral approach to issues.
††††† "They (ZANU
PF) always know it all, they always want to dictate, they despise dialogue,
they despise consensus building, they don't consider themselves accountable
to anyone," said Ncube.
††††† "So it doesn't surprise us that they are
running away from debate and they are running away from dialogue in terms of
important conferences such as this one."
††††† Respected South
African civic society groups had hoped to use the conference to foster
consensus on what Zimbabwe needs to do to hold free and fair elections.
Because of the excellent reputation of the organisers of the conference,
particularly the churches, many had ††††† hoped that ZANU PF would indeed
attend. However, this was not to be.
††††† South African Deputy Foreign
Minister Aziz Pahad opened the conference with a call for Zimbabweans to
ensure that the elections are held in line with the new norms and standards
agreed to by SADC leaders at their last summit in Mauritius.
said free and fair elections were in the interests of all Zimbabweans. Pahad
said it was heartening that President Robert Mugabe had promised to hold the
elections in line with the SADC protocol.
††††† But delegates at the
conference said ZANU PF's failure to send representatives to this important
meeting proved that it had no such bona fide intentions.
Landsberg of South Africa's Centre for Policy Studies summed a popular view
at the conference when he said the electoral reforms so far proposed by
President Mugabe seemed to have more to do with technical compliance with
the SADC norms rather than ††††† the substance of the issues
††††† The government has proposed to set up an "independent"
electoral commission to run the elections, reducing polling from two to one
day, counting ballots at polling stations and using translucent ballot
††††† Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa tore through the proposed reforms
saying they do not go far enough in fostering free and fair elections in
Zimbabwe. She said the proposed electoral commission would not be free and
fair at all as it would be appointed by President †††††
††††† She said a proposed provision for Mugabe to appoint the
electoral commission in consultation with the Judicial Services Commission
(JSC) was not a peremptory one and so the President was not legally bound to
consult the judicial commission.
††††† Even if a firm provision had
been made, Mtetwa noted that the commission was already stuffed with
government loyalists who would only serve to help Mugabe in appointing "yes
men" to the electoral commission.
††††† MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi
detailed to the conference the continuing harassment of the opposition, the
lack of access to public media, the draconian security and media laws, among
other problems he said would render the elections not free ††††† and
fair. - ZimOnline.
Chamber of Mines seeks clarification on Mugabe threats Tues
5 October 2004
††††† HARARE - Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines president Ian
Saunders has met government officials and sought clarification on President
Robert Mugabe's recent statements that he intends to take over 50 percent
equity in major mining houses in the country.
††††† "We sought
clarity on the statement and we were told that although 50 percent was not a
definite number, the government and President Mugabe want to see the
industry moving to that number," Saunders said.
††††† "We were also told
that the government would be coming up with an indigenisation policy which
would address some of their concerns. We do not know when the policy would
be completed," he said.
††††† Saunders would not elaborate what the
indigenisation policy would entail. He said although government intends to
increase the stake for locals, it was still to indicate the size of the
stake to be allocated to indigenous players in the mining
††††† Zimbabwe's mining sector is still heavily dominated by
††††† Mugabe's announcement to seize 50 percent equity in
major mines and allocate them to marginalised† blacks caused a stir in the
international community with jittery investors expressing fears that they
stood to lose their investments in the country.
††††† Mugabe is not
new to courting controversy.
††††† In 2000, he sanctioned the seizure of
vast farmland from the largely white commercial farmers in what he said was
a correction of historical injustices in land allocation.
often violent farm seizures caused an international outcry with critics of
his land reforms bemoaning the trashing of property rights in the
††††† Saunders said the chamber expressed fears that the
proposed move would scare away foreign investors. He said they suggested
that 25 percent local ownership within 10 years would be more
††††† "There are a number of on-going projects from the
international community but there are six projects, which are at an advanced
stage. Investors are seeking clarification from authorities," he
††††† The mining sector, like all sectors of Zimbabwe's economy is
on a free-fall blamed on government mismanagement. Mining sector
contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which stood at 8,8 percent in
1980, has declined to an all-time low of 1.4 percent. - ZimOnline
Riot police descend on evicted settlers Tues 5 October
††††† BULAWAYO - Riot police descended on evicted farm invaders,
mostly women and children, at Mfazimithi Farm in Bubi/Umguza district at the
weekend and severely assaulted them after accusing them of trying to
re-occupy the farm.
††††† The villagers were evicted from the farm in
a fresh wave of evictions that hit the country two weeks ago. They have been
staying on the roadside for the past two weeks. More than 160 families were
evicted from the farm which lies on the 40km peg along the †††††
††††† The latest farm evictions are targeting
peasants who were used to occupy white farms when the often violent land
seizures and occupations began in 2000. The peasants are now being evicted
to pave way for influential government officials to occupy vast
tracts ††††† of land.
††††† According to villagers who spoke to
ZimOnline, an armoured police vehicle arrived at the place at about 11am on
Sunday and ordered the villagers to leave the farm.
officers ordered us to leave the area and go to where we came from. But most
of us used to stay on this farm working for the former white owner. We have
nowhere to go.
††††† "When we told them that, they accused us of trying
to defy a lawful order. They then started beating us up until we had to flee
into the bush, leaving our belongings behind," said 43-year-old Fortune
Dube, showing ZimOnline reporters bruises she allegedly ††††† sustained
from the assault.
††††† She said the police took away some of their
††††† Contacted for comment, police spokesman, Assistant
Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said: "We do not just beat up people who are
not violent, maybe they tried to confront officers carrying out a lawful
order," he said.
††††† The evicted families say they occupied the farm at
the height of the country's fast-track land reform programme in 2000. The
families have now been pushed off the land to pave way for top government
and ZANU PF officials under the A2 model scheme. Government ††††† says
the new occupiers hold the key to reviving the agricultural sector as they
have access to government loans.
††††† The often violent farm seizures,
largely blamed for disrupting the once-vibrant agricultural sector, were
spearheaded by veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war since 2000. Top ZANU PF
officials are accused of parceling out land seized from the settlers
who ††††† occupied the properties four years ago. - ZimOnline
††††† SADC urged to set up grain reserves †††††
October 5, 2004
††††† Lilongwe - Southern African nations were discussing
setting up strategic grain reserves to tackle food shortages that, according
to experts, were becoming endemic in the region, officials said
††††† At a meeting of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), officials in Malawi's capital said the lack of a strategic
reserve prevented countries with food shortages from benefiting from
††††† "The potential for development in southern Africa
is enormous. The SADC region can be the storehouse ... for food-deficit
regions to turn to," said Susan Sikaneta, the executive secretary of an
African Union (AU) regional office.
††††† The UN World Food Programme
said almost 2 million people in Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland would need
food in the first half of 2005.
††††† In 2002, 14 million across the area
faced hunger after poor rains. Now aid agencies say shortages mean many
people are finding it difficult to cope.
††††† Countries in southern
Africa have some of the highest occurrence rates of HIV/Aids in the world,
and experts say the pandemic has been killing farm workers, preventing them
from passing on agricultural knowledge to the next
††††† Despite its recent history of severe food
shortages, southern Africa has several grain exporting countries, including
Zambia and South Africa.
††††† Zimbabwe's government has said it expected
a bumper crop this year, although farmers and international grain analysts
doubt that projection.
††††† Sikaneta said the AU and its partners had
been stimulating agricultural production through irrigation farming, among
other measures, and these were starting to have an effect.
know for sure that our region is not poor. The region is potentially rich,"
††††† "We have every reason to feel confident that the region
will sooner than later start experiencing good harvests, with surplus for
††††† The Lilongwe meeting follows the Sirte declaration in
February, which called on Africa's leaders to ensure food security and to
eliminate hunger and poverty by 2015.
When the Pan African Parliament (PAP) drew to a
close last week after its first session, South Africans joined other
ordinary Africans across the continent asking whether it showed any signs
that it would one day make the continent a better place. Will it accomplish
anything? Or will it remain just a talk shop and an excuse for African
parliamentarians to spend a few weeks a year shopping in South
Cynics remain suspicious that these 255 MPs were basically on a
paid holiday. In the two weeks that the parliament was in session the
question which most often came up was what difference a parliament that has
no powers to enforce its decisions can make to the governance of the
Under the protocol which established it, the PAP will only
have "advisory" powers for five years after which it may acquire real
legislative powers. Many observers regard that as an optimistic
PAP President Gertrude Mongella was repeatedly called on to
defend the organ. She said that in the first phase it would be fruitless to
have legislative powers when the PAP was still being
"And most of the work of a parliament has to do with
advising anyway," Mongella insisted.
Therefore, the main order of
business was adopting the rules of procedure, discussing the vision, mission
and strategy for the African Union, as well as poverty alleviation, gender
equality, peace and security on the continent, and possible ways of funding
the AU and its organs.
And the MPs did go about this work, albeit in a
stop-start fashion which revealed as much as anything their inexperience.
Long rambling debates often exposed the failure of the MPs to do their
homework, such as reading the basic documents on which PAP is grounded, the
AU Constitutive Act and the PAP Protocol.
There were lots of teething
problems as President Thabo Mbeki had warned there would be when he
addressed the opening session.
When it was asked during one session how
many parliamentarians had the incorrect copy of a draft in front of them,
nearly half the house raised their hands. And that was already the sixth
Some members asked that the PAP guarantee their five-year terms,
for the sake of continuity.
As things stand in the PAP Protocol,
members are mandated to serve in the house unless they are recalled by their
parliament, resign, die or cease being members of their own
This continuity was a point of concern for many
parliamentarians. But the idea was rejected as impractical, as an MP cannot
continue to serve if he or she loses their own national seat.
MPs suggested that the house split up into four language groupings, English,
Arabic, French and Portuguese, in order to expediently move through the
issues under discussion.
This idea too was rejected by Mongella, who said
such a division would only lead to regionalism and defeat the objective of
pan-Africanism enshrined in the very title of the
Despite these arguments, the decisions to lay the
foundation for PAP were agreed to without too much delay - in fact a week
ahead of schedule.
The early finish was in part due to the fact that the
organ ran out of money for translation costs, which were said to be the
greatest expenditure. One of the more vibrant debates was on the crisis in
Darfur with agreement being reached to send a fact-finding mission to the
area. But Zimbabwe was not discussed, to the disappointment of some, but not
One important achievement was to confirm that PAP
representatives be given immunity from arrest or prosecution in any country
in Africa. During this last session, the MPs confirmed this and gave the
assembly the right to vote to waive this immunity if an application is
received from a member state to do so.
But whether or not this
immunity will be respected remains to be seen. By the end of the
deliberations it was still unclear exactly how representative this
parliament is of the diversity of political interests on the continent - and
mainly for administrative reasons.
PAP officials were unable to provide a
sufficiently comprehensive list of parliamentarians to enable observers to
ascertain whether opposition parties are truly represented at Gallagher
And of course in some countries in Africa, there is no real
opposition while in others the parliament is but a rubber stamp for the
decision of a president.
But the hope remains that the experience
will infect national parliaments until it reverberates throughout the
continent and inculcates a truly pan-African culture of democracy.
return to the question of whether PAP is but another talk-shop or will
actually create real change, it is probably too early to tell. But on the
face of it there was enough energy and commitment present at Gallagher
Estate these past few weeks to keep the hope alive that it will one day
achieve its ambitious goals. - Independent Foreign Service
.. This article was originally published on page 13 of The Star on October
Mathuthu Last updated: 10/05/2004 08:53:06 A ZIMBABWEAN doctor facing SIX
sexual assault charges in New Westminister, Canada, is Defence Minister
Sydney Sekeramayi's son, New Zimbabwe.com can reveal today.
Sekeramayi, 33, is due before a Canadian court Tuesday for the beginning of
A source close to him said last night: "He is really scared
that if his relationship with the Minister is disclosed in court or outside,
the jury may be swayed to find against him."
We left him several
messages on his mobile phone and e-mail. No reply had been received by the
time of going to press. Officials at Zimbabwe's Ministry of Defence refused
to talk to New Zimbabwe.com, or make the minister available for an
Sekeramayi worked at the Royal Columbian Hospital in Canada
but was suspended in November last year after hospital authorities received
complaints from female workers who said they had been
Although his father cannot travel to Canada due to travel
restrictions placed on him and several lieutenants of Zimbabwean tyrant
Robert Mugabe, he was allowed into the country in 1999 before the sanctions
Sekeramayi, a former St Ignatius student graduated from
the UZ's medical school in 1995. In order to qualify to practise medicine at
Royal Columbian starting in July 2001, he passed the necessary examinations
at the University of B.C to ensure his qualifications were equivalent to
those of a B.C. graduate medical student.
One of his former
classmates at St Ignatius told New Zimbabwe.com this week: "He was a very
quiet boy....very reclusive. Up to this day I can never really describe his
character because he didn't reveal much.
"Although his father was a
minister, I remember him being bullied at the swimming pool, and he never
really made much of it. He was just a quiet guy."
originally charged with three counts of sexual assault on December 15 last
year, but more women came forward to complain about being "groped" by the
doctor while at work.
Police spokesman Staff Seargeant Casey Dehaas
confirmed to New Zimbabwe.com that Sekeramayi will appear in court
The alleged assaults occurred between July and November 2003, and
all the alleged victims are hospital employees, according to New Westminster
One of the alleged victims is a nurse with nearly 20 years'
experience at the hospital. Another is a nurse's aide and a third is an
orderly. No details were immediately available on the other three
----- Original Message ----- From: "Jenni Williams" Subject: WOZA update
4 Oct 2004
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) Press
At 1:30 pm, on Wednesday 29 September, 9 members of WOZA walked
into Africa Unity Square in Harare Zimbabwe. Ten days earlier 35 women had
begun a 440-kilometer sponsored walk from Bulawayo to Harare. They were
joined for 60-kilometer stints by up to 120 women from Bulawayo and Harare.
The walk objectives were to raise funds for women's rights activists due to
be affected if the NGO Bill becomes law and to protest against the passing
of the Bill.
On Tuesday 28th September, just 60 km from Harare, Police
arrested 52 activists as they walked towards their lunchtime base just 15 km
from Norton. They were arrested by Norton Police and taken to Selous
Police Station. Some of them were moved to Chegutu and Kadoma where they were
held in custody for 3 days before a magistrate ruled that they had no case
to answer and ordered their release. The fifty-two, comprising 48 women and
4 men who had volunteered to drive and guard the women were
harassed, intimidated, threatened by Police officers. They had money stolen
from them and Police even looted their supplies. A bowser carrying water for
the group was drained of water and searched for any hidden documentation -
none was located. Most of the 52 had their homes searched as Police attempted
to find 'inflammatory or subversive material prejudicial to the security of
On a positive note many Police officers whispered their
admiration for the work of WOZA with one recommending the opening of a WOZA
branch in Chegutu for his wife to attend. Many Police officers said they
listen to the independent radio stations and that they had been monitoring
After the arrest of the 52, only 2 WOZA women remained out
of custody, Jenni Williams and Siphiwe Maseko. Later that evening when
Siphiwe went to deliver food for the prisoners, she too was arrested leaving
just Jenni Williams. Siphiwe was assaulted by Police officers but was
released on Thursday without being charged. She was assaulted by a
plain-clothes officer called Dhliwayo, PISI Norton. He stooped so low as to
use vulgar swear words to the women.
As Wednesday morning dawned,
Jenni Williams began to complete the walk to Harare. WOZA women had agreed
that no matter what, the walk was to be completed. She walked alone for 25 km
before she was joined by Harare women in Kuwadzana and Warren Park. One woman
had her 4-month daughter Tafadzwa Trish with her. As the group arrived in the
outskirts of Harare to women living with HIV/Aids joined the walk.
Unfortunately, one lady only managed half a city block before fainting. The
other would spend 3 days in custody with the WOZA women.
group arrived at Africa Unity Square they thanked the almighty for the work
and sacrifice of the WOZA women and they prayer for those arrested in Chegutu
to be quickly released. After singing a religious song, they dispersed only
to be arrested less than a block away. They would be charged under Section 19
of the Public Order Security Act (POSA) and are due to appear in a Harare
magistrates court on 13 October 2004. Police said they had committed an
offence by 'praying in public'. Three of the women were allegedly beaten
during interrogation by a plain-clothes officer called Mhondoro. Affidavits
are being prepared for legal recourses.
WOZA wish to declare that the
sponsored walk was a victory for freedom loving Zimbabweans. We wish the walk
to be entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the longest protest walk
conducted under draconian legislation like POSA. We wish to announce that
there were two undeclared objectives of the walk. One was to set an examples
to Zimbabweans that they must be prepared to sacrifice if they want freedom,
this is explained well by Nelson Mandela in his Rivonia speech - he described
the freedom fighters as 'Amadelakufa' - those willing to sacrifice. The
second objective was to demonstrate to Zimbabweans that democratic space must
be fought for. Many a demonstration in Zimbabwe has been measured in terms of
meters; WOZA just set a new standard - kilometers. Administrators of the
Guinness Book of Records will shortly be receiving correspondence from
Meanwhile the women of WOZA are in the final stages of planning the
visit to Parliament to lobby legislators. Women will walk to Parliament in
silence and request to see the Speaker to hand over their petition. They will
risk further arrest to do so.
WOZA thank members of the press for
their reportage of the Walk and arrest of activists.
I will not tell you about The Bill The Bill that will kill
the will Of the free spirits of this land Encouraged to till the
land Till the silos burst in abundance.
I will not tell you about the
folly Of many who today can still fill a trolley With basic necessities
using their taxed takings Woodwinked, Blindfold, they still hope to receive
earnings When the Bill comes to kill.
I will not tell you about the
Bill That will deem your family gathering or burial society illegal That
will kill the spirit of togetherness That forbids elevation of living
standards And smiles when professionals are turned to peasants
not tell you about the pig-headed Bill, which Puts pride ahead and rejects
foreign aid The Bill, which will send hunger to raid Your peasant hut,
Zvobgo khaya, boys khaya and yes your mansion As you get fast -tracked to
join the peasantry.
Kill Bill was a trained brilliant sniper I will
tell you about the movie She was ruthlessly cold-blooded To Kill Bill, I
liken the killer Bill For many a people will die
The hit list is
endless: Agriculture Banks Governance Hotels Human
I will not tell you about the moron The
brilliantly stupid author of the Bill I will not tell you there are potential
morons Who will fuel Kill Bill and give him Ammunition to eliminate those
on the hit list.
WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE - WOZA (A registered
Trust) P.O. Box FM 701 Famona Bulawayo Mobile 011 213 885
By Women for
Women and with Women, across Race, Colour, Creed, Class or Political
Persuasion.† Empowering Women to be Courageous, Caring, Committed and in
Communication with their Communities.
PETITION TO: THE SPEAKER OF
PARLIAMENT ALL MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FROM: MEMBERS, WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE
ARISE - WOZA
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) is a registered Trust. Our
objectives are: To develop the capacity of Zimbabwean women to: Y express
their views on issues relating to their upliftment; Y develop strategies for
economic survival; Y network with women internationally; Y participate and
take leadership roles in public life;
Further objectives detailed in the
Trust Deed and directly related to the just ended Sponsored Walk from
Bulawayo to Harare are: v to administer funds received from donors on behalf
of women who are to benefit under approved development schemes; v to
establish an organisation that promotes a positive image of women
in Zimbabwe. v to receive gifts and donations for the Trust, providing
that all donations accepted by the Trust shall be irrevocable and the Trust
shall not accept or be party to any agreement or arrangements for any
donation which directly or indirectly may be revocable by the donor or any
person, and to undertake activities designed to raise funds to be utilised
for the purposes of the Trust.
The women of WOZA heard about the
proposed Non Governmental Organisation Bill due to come before parliament on
the 5th October 2004. We looked through the proposed bill and we realised
that if the Bill is passed in it current form it will strike at the very
existence of us and our families. Most of the members of WOZA are widows,
informal traders; some are 'living positively' with the virus. We do try to
survive independently but without help from NGO's our families and those of
us who are ill shall surely fade away and die.
We have walked 440
kilometers to deliver this petition to parliament and hope and pray that you
will hear our cries and not pass this Bill. Over 60 of us were arrested along
the way but we have decided to risk another arrest just to deliver this
message into your hands. Please hear our cries!!!
There is a Zulu saying
- Uthinte Umfazi Uthinte Imbokodo - 'You strike a woman and you have struck a
rock'! We regard the NGO Bill in its current format, as an attempt to strike
women through WOZA. The women of WOZA are saying we will not be struck in
††††††††† HARARE, Oct. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Uganda and Zimbabwe have
patched up their differences over the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC),where they support opposite sides, and re-established old ties, local
media reported Tuesday.
††††††††† Speaking at a banquet hosted for
him by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at State House on Monday evening,
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Zimbabwe and Uganda enjoy good
relations despite being on opposite sides in the Congolese
††††††††† "In spite of this little misunderstanding, we have
always worked together. I come here to show to you that we are brothers.
Historically speaking, we are on the same side, we must work together," he
††††††††† Museveni noted that Zimbabwe was among some of the
Southern African Development Community member states that have understood
and supported Uganda's concern at Sudan's policies in the southernpart of
that vast country.
††††††††† Speaking at the same occasion, Mugabe
said with the Congolese conflict now behind, the challenge was now to have a
stronger bondin the region to promote economic integration and
††††††††† Mugabe said although at present there was little
trade between Uganda and Zimbabwe, there was huge potential for economic
co-operation between the two countries. He said co-operation could also be
extended to the health sector, including the fight againstHIV/AIDS.
††††† Pahad chides critics of SA policy regarding
Zimbabwe ††††† October 5, 2004
††††† By Basildon Peta
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad has chided detractors of the government's
quiet-diplomacy approach for failing to come up with alternative strategies
in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.
††††† Pahad was commenting after the
opening of a conference in Pretoria yesterday on electoral standards in
††††† The conference was organised by various South African
organisations and attended by the who's who of Zimbabwean opposition
political and civic- society circles, but the delegation supposed to
represent President Robert Mugabe's government were absent.
Pahad said that all the detractors were good at was criticising the
government's policy, without proffering a single piece of advice on what
they thought the magic formula was to end the crisis.
somebody can give us an alternative of what they think will work, then we
will listen and accept it, if it is indeed workable. But nobody has come
forward and given us any suggestion that goes contrary to what we are
††††† Pahad defended the government's approach,
saying diplomacy, by its very nature, was quiet. But he emphasised that such
diplomacy did not mean that those engaged in it did not raise their concerns
††††† He said a free and fair parliamentary poll in March
was in the interests of all Zimbabweans and that South Africa had stepped up
efforts to help its neighbour achieve this.
††††† President Thabo
Mbeki was prepared to go to Zimbabwe "every day", if necessary, to help
Zimbabweans find a solution to their problems, Pahad said.
"President Mbeki has already said he is willing to spend all his time in
helping Zimbabweans find a solution. We can help, but in the end Zimbabweans
must resolve the Zimbabwean problems themselves."
††††† The two-day
conference opens at a time when Mugabe's government has declared that it is
not bound by the new Southern African Development Community (SADC) standards
and norms on free and fair elections, claiming that they are merely
††††† But Pahad said Mugabe had stated publicly in New York
last week that Zimbabwe would hold elections in line with the SADC protocol
adopted in Mauritius last month. Pahad said Zimbabweans should thus be
helped to ensure that Mugabe's statement was implemented. - Independent
Wake up Zimbabwe!! - More Passion. More Fire Amanda Atwood
leaders of this struggle have lost their passion, is it any wonder that the
rest of the population does not engage?† Passion is like a fire.† A match in
isolation is easily blown out by the wind.† But when a hundred matches
together light a patch of dry grass, the earth combusts, and the wind just
blows the flames higher.† Our NGO leaders need to rekindle their passion,
activate their outrage and inspire one another.† And if they are too
comfortable or too afraid to do that then they need to make way for a new
generation of fiery activists to lead the charge.
For the past 10 days,
50 women have been walking from Bulawayo to Harare, a 440 km journey,
participating in a sponsored walk to raise awareness about the looming NGO
They left Bulawayo on Sunday 19 September, and expected to arrive
in Harare on Wednesday 29 September.† As they neared Harare, the women were
ebullient. They had never expected to make it as far as they did, and they
were in Selous, just one days walk from Harare, when 48 of them were
arrested.† Two had gone ahead to buy food for the group, and when they
returned, the other women had already been arrested and taken to Selous and
Chegutu police stations. The next morning, one of the women went to bring
food to the others, and she was also arrested.
And so, in the pre-dawn
darkness of Wednesday 29 September, Jenni Williams began a solitary walk from
Lake Chivero to Harare.† She carried a small torch to light her way, and
doubtless was seriously questioning the purpose of her journey.† However, she
gathered her conviction and decided to complete what she had set out to do.†
As she came into Harare, she was joined by a few other women, and eventually
made it to Africa Unity Square, where the group of 10, including one baby
strapped to her motherís back, said a prayer of thanks and concluded the
march.† But as they left Unity Square, these women were also arrested and
taken to Harare Central.
Obviously, the arrest of these women violates
both the spirit and the letter of the SADC Protocol on Free and Fair
Elections.† And of course, their arrest is just one more example of the
paranoid, repressive, dictatorial nature of the Zimbabwean ruling regime.†
But in many ways, it is consistent with the over-enthusiastic policing we
have come to expect in this country. While this behaviour is brutal, absurd,
and undemocratic, I do not want to waste space here and now restating the
obvious: that we live in a police state where the ruling party will use its
machinery in whatever way necessary to crush dissent and stifle individual
And I do not want to use this space to detail the hideous
implications of the NGO Bill for the ordinary Zimbabwean, for Zimbabwean
society, or for the NGO sector itself because a great deal of attention has
already been paid to these very serious concerns.
I am angry that this
Bill can even be proposed.† It is a senseless, disgusting, repressive piece
of legislation that will do as much if not more damage to our society than
POSA and AIPPA are already doing.
I am angry with a dictator who has lost
any respect for human rights or the rule of law, and who governs Zimbabwe as
his personal fiefdom, regardless of the needs or wishes of the rest of the
But most of all, I am angry with myself, with the 12 million
other Zimbabweans, and particularly with those in NGOís, and in civil
society, whom this walk was most directly, benefiting, and yet were [with a
few notable exceptions] nowhere to be seen on the walk, or even in the few
final kilometres into Harare.
The women who walked from Bulawayo to
Harare are not NGO leaders, or even NGO employees.† Their organisation, Women
of Zimbabwe Arise [WoZA], already operates semi-covertly, and is subject to
routine harassment and intimidation by the authoritarian authorities.† They
have no salaries, no offices, no company cars and none of the trappings so
often associated with the NGO sector.† Out of all the NGOs who stand to lose
so much of their own comforts, much less their programme activities when
[not, I despair, if] the NGO Bill is passed, WoZA is probably the best
prepared.† And yet, they alone decided to organise and participate in the
exhausting, painful walk to Harare from Bulawayo in protest of this
Admittedly, the event was largely cloaked in the beginning††
.Perhapsinan effort to forestall their inevitable arrest the organisers were
vague about their departure date, and their expected arrival date.† Some may
argue that this diminished their purpose.† Perhaps with greater outreach or
publicity or organisation, the participation might have been greater, the
outcome might have been different, and the arrival into Harare would have
been a victory celebration, not a shadowed, lonely trip to Africa Unity
Square followed by a ride in the back of a police vehicle.
I am not in
a position to critique the organisation of the event, or to know what
communications did or did not occur between WoZA and other NGOs or within the
NGO sector about this event.† There are always many sides to a story, and no
doubt many individuals and organisations who are much more in the know about
this whole event will come forward to defend themselves.
But what I do
know is that, on Jenniís arrival in Harare, the hundreds of people who had,
supposedly, been mobilised for this event, and who did, supposedly, know
enough about it to understand that their participation was crucial, were
nowhere to be found.† Perhaps all of them had watched the Dead BC coverage
the night before, announcing that the walkers had been arrested. Perhaps they
were put off by the hate speech of our national broadcaster and feared for
their own safety too much to be willing to make even a small sacrifice of
In the meantime, 50 women sacrificed their homes, their
families, their security and their health and WALKED from Bulawayo to
Harare.† Why?† For all of us.† They represent all of us.† But particularly,
they represent the board members, leaders, staff persons and members of NGOs
who stand to be closed when the NGO Bill is effected into law.† And when they
arrived at the end of their journey? There was next to no one there to
welcome them.† Sure, a few cars drove past and hooted in encouragement.† Yes,
a few people phoned in regularly to check on the progress and find out how
they were doing. But, in theory at least, these organisations do not consist
only of chairpersons and secretariats.† Many of them have members.† Members
whom they exist to assist.† Members whom they supposedly inform, educate
and mobilise.† Where were these members?† Where were these staff members?†
And where were these chairpersons?
After the remaining women had been
arrested, the cell phone activists went wild - a call went out for people to
come to Harare Central to bring food and show support.† And when we arrived
for jail solidarity?† Only 11 people were there.
Where were the
hundreds of people who had been, I was told, prepared to meet the walkers and
join the victory procession into town?† Perhaps there was confusion as to the
timing or status of the walk.† But there was no confusion as to the status of
the women in detention, their location - Harare Central, or the time to bring
them food - 5:30.† I was told that many of the organisations were busy trying
to co-ordinate donations of bail money from their own funds.† This is a
worthy and commendable effort. But does it take the entire board, secretariat
and membership of the hundreds of NGOs who are about to have their lives
turned upside down by this Bill?† I was also told that there was no time to
organise people for jail solidarity as hundreds of women were already being
organised to take buses to Soweto for a prayer service this Sunday.† Again,
this activity is admirable.† And certainly prayer is a valuable first step
for many people involved in the struggle.† But it implies to me a sorry
misunderstanding of priorities if an organisation can go through the mammoth
effort involved in transporting hundreds of people to Johannesburg and back,
surely they can organise even a few dozen to go to the police station in
Harare, if not Chegutu, for even one hour?
Where is the passion, the
drive, and the commitment in the rest of civil society?† The story of these
womenís bravery, dedication and resolve is deeply, personally moving.† It is
a story not of statistics or petitions or politics but a story of individual
humanity, and a courage that transcends articulation or understanding.† And
yet, when it came time for the individuals who both stand to lose the most
and who know the most about their story to step forward in solidarity,
support, and conviction, they did not step forward.† Is this what Zimbabwe
has become?† A nation where even the so-called leaders of the pro-democracy
movement are so tired, so jaded, or so disillusioned that they are not moved
by these inspirational act of singular determination.† A nation where these
leaders place more emphasis on international activities or securing their own
narrow minded vision of the future than they do on our own united resistance
at home.† Where is our conscious?† Where is our humanity?
from the gates of Harare Central onto the Charge Office commuter rank, we
watched thousands of people waiting for transport.† It was easy to feel
frustrated. What are we missing in explaining the struggle?† What would it
take to bring even a fraction of these thousands away from their queues for
just an hour to demonstrate in front of the police station?† What shift in
consciousness do we need to better inform, outreach and mobilise?†† What is
missing in the explanation of the struggle that makes it so much easier for
people to ignore, get by, and avoid confrontation?
Yes it is hard to
confront.† It is frightening and lonely and difficult. Someone once said,
people will only change the way they do things if the existing reality
becomes too difficult and so they are desperate for something new, or if the
new reality you are proposing is so powerfully compelling they cannot resist
it.† Iím sure there is truth in that. But is the solution to just sit back
and wait for things to get even worse in Zimbabwe so that we finally feel the
burn enough to want to do something about it? Perhaps.† But that is too
depressing and disempowering a strategy for me.† Surely the solution lies in
articulating a clear, powerful, and convincing vision of the Zimbabwe we
deserve, the Zimbabwe we can all have, the Zimbabwe that we all know can
And maybe that is exactly the problem.† Because the people who are
supposed to be articulating that vision - the pro-democracy civil
society organisations, do not seem to believe in it themselves.† With
few exceptions, they do not practise the ideals of participation,
collective action, or solidarity.† They cannot explain, and perhaps do not
even see how each of their own activities fit into a larger picture of a new
Zimbabwe. They have no unified understanding of the broader struggle, and the
critical importance of not only each of their individual programmes, but
the desperate need for unity.† They have no vision of the Zimbabwe they
are fighting for, or the new reality they are trying to achieve.† They have
no creativity, no innovation.† They are too tired, or too afraid of trying
new things to find new ways of communicating with and inspiring people.†
They are bureaucrats, not activists. They are as comfortable with their
salaried jobs, their leave days and company benefits, as any corporate
officer is with hers.† And they have lost the ideals, the vision, the passion
for the struggle that they are supposed to be not just fighting, but also
If the leaders of this struggle have lost their passion, is it
any wonder that the rest of the population does not engage?† Passion is like
a fire.† A match in isolation is easily blown out by the wind.† But when a
hundred matches together light a patch of dry grass, the earth combusts, and
the wind just blows the flames higher.† Our NGO leaders need to rekindle
their passion, activate their outrage and inspire one another.† And if they
are too comfortable or too afraid to do that then they need to make way for
a new generation of fiery activists to lead the charge.
is an activist for a new Zimbabwe and a new world order.† She welcomes any
comments or responses on† email@example.com