Eyewitness News | 8 Hours Ago
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said President Jacob Zuma is
being handed a report on troubled unity talks but the haggling is not over
The MDC insisted its treasurer Roy Bennett should be sworn in as Deputy
Agriculture Minister but President Robert Mugabe's party said he has a
criminal case pending.
There was speculation Bennett may have been shuffled over to another
ministerial post but the MDC is sticking to its guns. Spokesperson Nelson
Chamisa told the Sunday Mail that Morgan Tsvangirai's party would not accept
Bennett being given anything less than a junior agriculture portfolio.
Chamisa said it's a matter of principle. "We want him sworn in," he said.
This case has proved to be one of the sticking points in the smooth
implementation of the unity deal. Critics said the MDC choice of a white
ex-farmer for a deputy agriculture minister was confrontational at the very
Bennett's still waiting for a ruling on his treason trial but he has had
charges that he hoarded maize dropped.
By TAPIWA MAKORE
Published: April 11, 2010
IN a bid to restore credibility to the country's education sector, the
Minstry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture has hired a German based
chattered accountant to rehabilitate the Zimbabwe School Examinations
Council (ZIMSEC) which has over the years faced allegations of mismanagement
Education Minister Senator David Coltart confirmed the development, saying
there was a need to restore the institution's credibility which has been
underperforming over the past years.
"GTZ, a Germany-based donor, funded the ministry to hire the independent
chartered accountant who is now operating with other officials from the
ministry and Zimsec.
"The expert, who has been in the country since September last year, has made
quite significant progress in improving the management, accounting system
and credibility of the institution, almost to the same level as that of the
Cambridge exam system," said Sen Coltart.
He said the results and findings by the accountant were expected in June and
that could help in restructuring the examinations body.
"Results and findings by the accountant will be expected in June and this
will determine how the exams body can be funded, restructured and
rehabilitated," said Sen Coltart.
Zimsec has in recent years come under fire from educationists, parents and
students for loopholes in the administration of public examinations. There
have been complains from educationists that the body would issue exam
results to students who would not have seated for it.
Zimsec faced numerous challenges in organising last year's public exams with
some students failing to register because they could not raise the required
fees that were pegged at US$10 and US$20 per subject for O and A-level exams
Sen Coltart said there was a need to appoint a new board to run Zimsec after
the current board's mandate officially ended in 2006.
Operational problems and diminished credibility in the last 10 years have
seen some parents opting to have their children sit for Cambridge exams.
Zimbabwean exams used to be run with efficiency by the Cambridge University.
The Ministry of Education just like other ministries have been starved of
qualified staff as the former Mugabe regime favored the military trained
infamous Border Gezi graduates who had infested almost the whole civil
Sunday, 11 April 2010 10:32 Editor News
By Admore Tshuma in Johannesburg, South Africa
AN outspoken Zimbabwean journalist and anti-Gukurahundi activist Zenzele
Ndebele has survived an abduction attempt in Bulawayo after he was
confronted by two strangers in dark suits and glasses, The Zim Diaspora can
He escaped and outran the suspected members of President Mugabe's hit squad.
His life is undoubtedly in danger as many opposed to Mr Mugabe have died
under simillar circumstances, for example Capt Edwin Nleya.
Survivor: Zenzele Ndebele
The incident happened today at the Bulawayo Centre where he was confronted
by two mysterious men who tried in vain to grab him by his hand - possibly
in an attempt to shove him into a waiting car. The two strangers only spoke
to him in English language with a heavy Shona accent.
Mr Ndebele has since reported the matter to local political leaders. A
senior member of the MDC in Bulawayo confirmed having received a report from
Ndebele on the botched kidnapping bid.
"We will be meeting Mr Ndebele possible late today to try and get to the
bottom of this unfortunate incident," the politician who declined identity
The incident comes days after President Mugabes' government announced that a
North Korean football team would camp and train in Bulawayo before heading
for the world Cup in South Africa, yet it is the same North Koreans who
trained the genocidal 5 brigade resulting in the senseless killing of 20 000
Ndebele speaking people during the 1980s.
President Barrack Obama of the United States has become the first powerful
leader of a super-power to speak strongly about Gukurahundi atrocities
which he described as a crime against humanity.
Bulawayo civil society has declared that the North Koreans would come to the
city at their own risk as victims of Gukurahundi some now living in South
Africa have declared a war against the visiting North Koreans. They are
expected in May.
Ndebele who is still in a state of shock, told The Zim Diaspora that:"It all
started as a strange telephone call from Harare. The caller said he would
like to meet me and discuss certain issues which he did not disclose to me.
I agreed to meet him at a public place in Bulawayo centre".
"When I met this stranger today he was in the company of another man and
they were all in dark suits and glasses. They asked me about my film on
Gukurahundi which I simple told them there was no need to ask as it was in
the public domain. While I was being kind of interrogated by one of the two
chaps, another one kept on texting - possible communicating with a third
person," he said in a telephone interview from Bulawayo.
"I secretly recorded everything and I will send you the recording for you to
publish if you wish to," he said
Mr Ndebele added that: "Then suddenly one of them lunged to me and tried to
grab my hand, but I just ran away. They did not try to pursue me largely
because it was in daylight and there were many people around," he said.
"I am not sure what would have happened to me by now, was it not for my
quick thinking for sensing danger. But I will not be silent. Never.
Gukurahundi was a crime against humanity. And justice should be," he said.
For the first time ever, Ndebele courageously put together a video
documentary, titled "Gukurahundi: A Moment Of Madness" documenting Mugabe's
5 Brigade murders of 20 000 Ndebele speaking people in the south-west of the
country during the 1980s. In the documentary, Ndebele says: "At last the
truth is being told - and that truth is terrible".
In his film seen around the world Ndebele documents appalling massacres in
Matabeleland in which pregnant women were bayoneted to death, men and women
Archive footage shows a youthful Mugabe promising to "crush completely"
civilians in Matabeleland he called dissidents. Then some of the so-called
"dissidents" who survived reveal the ordeals they were put through.
One man describes scores of youths being pushed down a mine shaft. Any who
resisted were shot. The mine-shaft became filled to the brim with bodies,
and a second one had to be found for the killings to continue.
Another interviewee describes how, as a young boy, he was ordered to set
fire to a house in which soldiers had locked 30 of his family. But when the
soldiers left a rain-storm occurred, and the people were saved.
The production of such a video documentary coupled with Ndebele's campaign
to free artist Owen Maseko also arrested for showcasing Gukurahundi
operations in Matabeleland could be the cause of his persecution.
On his face book page, Ndebele writes: "Guys it was scary. When I met the
guys, one of them said he wanted to know about my Gukurahundi film. I told
him it's in the public domain and it's not new. The conversation was not
getting any where .One of the called me and said "come see this message in
my phone". I refused and he tried to grab me by my hand. When he missed me I
run for dear life".
11 April 2010
TEHRAN - Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mirkzemi discussed energy ties with
Zimbabwean Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Didmus Mutasa here on
""Iran is ready to cooperate in the renovation of Feruka Refinery in
Zimbabwe and supply it with feedstock, the Mehr News Agency reported.
Based on a memorandum of understanding which was signed in 2006, Iran agreed
to take part in the Feruka refinery's renovation project.
The Zimbabwean official, accompanied by a delegation, also expressed his
country's interest to implement joint refining projects with Iran in other
African nations. Mirkazemi declared Iran's readiness to export engineering
services to Zimbabwe.
"Iran is one of the greatest oil exporters of the world and can play an
important role in meeting Zimbabwe's oil demand," Didmus Mutasa said
© Tehran Times 2010
Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:29am IST
BEIJING (Reuters) - China has handed over a revamped national stadium to
Zimbabwe after refurbishments costing $10 million, state media said on
Sunday, in a further sign of Chinese support for a government reviled in the
China first built the 60,000-seat stadium in 1987, but it has been closed
for renovations for the past three years, the official Xinhua news agency
"The construction and refurbishment of the stadium cement the traditional
friendship between our two countries," it quoted Chinese ambassador to
Zimbabwe, Xin Shunkang, as saying.
Zimbabwe's Vice President Joyce Mujuru "thanked China for renovating the
stadium and assisting other areas of the Zimbabwean economy", Xinhua added.
The stadium has been "transformed into a world-class stadium that met the
standards of the Confederation of African Football", the report said.
Hailed as a saviour by fanatical supporters and praised throughout Africa
for standing up to what many see as bullying by the West, Zimbabwe President
Robert Mugabe is hated in equal measure by opponents who accuse him of being
Mugabe denies charges of human rights abuses and insists the West has
withheld aid mainly in protest over his controversial seizure of white-owned
commercial farms for resettlement among blacks.
Mugabe has tried to boost economic ties with Asian countries such as China
China's embassy in Zimbabwe in February threw a birthday party for Mugabe.
Beijing and Chinese companies have pledged tens of billions of dollars to
Africa in loans and investments, mostly to secure raw materials for the
world's fastest-growing major economy.
Rights groups have repeatedly criticised China for propping up dictatorial
and corrupt African nations. China counters it offers no-strings aid and
that its pledge not to interfere in any country's internal affairs is
welcomed by African nations.
Last Updated: 12:10 PM, April 11, 2010
Posted: 2:45 AM, April 11, 2010
A New Jersey congressman says he will demand a government inquiry into Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire poised to buy the New Jersey Nets, for his extensive business dealings in Zimbabwe -- a bombshell that could blow up the $200 million team deal and threaten the future of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, The Post has learned.
Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, wants to know if companies controlled by Prokhorov in Zimbabwe violate federal rules that forbid American citizens and companies, and subsidiaries set up in the United States, from doing business with brutal strongman Robert Mugabe, his regime or associates.
"This is disgusting," Pascrell said. "Obviously, the Board of Governors of the NBA didn't do their job properly when they vetted this deal."
He said the project received tax-exempt bonds.
"It's being financed partly by the taxpayer, and the public has a right to know," he said.
Prokhorov's Renaissance Capital investment bank has interests in the Zimbabwean stock exchange, banks, a cellphone company, mining and a swanky, private big-game reserve. The company is intertwined with Onexim, the $25 billion Prokhorov-controlled investment fund behind the deal to bring the struggling NBA team to Brooklyn.
Pascrell said he will ask the Treasury Department, which oversees the sanctions, to investigate Onexim. In 2008, Onexim became a 50 percent owner of Renaissance Capital, which has been actively investing in Zimbabwe since 2007.
According to its Web site, Renaissance Capital has offices in Manhattan and was the financial sponsor of an economic forum in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare that provided foreign investors special access to government ministers in June 2009 -- which experts say is a violation of the sanctions.
In February, the company's Africa-based CEO, Andrew Lowe, participated in a business panel with a Zimbabwean official banned from entering the United States.
"Looks like sanctions-busting to me," said Usha Haley, an expert on US sanctions at the Economic Policy Institute.
She said companies find administrative loopholes, which include setting up a web of corporations, to get around the sanctions.
"It looks like this company is setting up administrative layers that are obfuscating the effects of the sanctions. It's done all the time," she said.
If the department steps in to block the Net deal, it could cause major problems for developer Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards development project.
The plan is already being held up by a handful of holdouts battling eminent-domain evictions from their Brooklyn homes and businesses. Two long-shot lawsuits remain in play -- one that argues some eviction notices were issued before the court gave the go-ahead to seize their property, and another that contends Ratner's plans so radically changed that the condemnation process must start all over again.
These delays have stalled the NBA's vote this coming Friday on Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets. Thursday, the league abruptly announced it was putting off the vote until the state of New York can take full possession of the arena site.
Prokhorov is seeking a majority stake in the Nets and a 45 percent stake in the Barclays Center arena, future home of the team and centerpiece of the Atlantic Yards plan.
The 44-year-old Russian would also become the first non-North American owner of an NBA team. When he came forward in September to buy the NBA's worst team, he was widely regarded as the savior for Ratner's long-delayed development dream.
Prokhorov's estimated worth is more than $13 billion. The 6-foot-8 bachelor is a former amateur basketball player who leads a lavish lifestyle.
"Mr. Prokhorov went through a very extensive and stringent vetting process," a league spokesman told The Post yesterday. "The background and financial investigations have been completed, and there was nothing that was disclosed that would cause us not to move forward with his application for Nets ownership."
But a spokesman for Renaissance Capital in Moscow told The Post that the question of Prokhorov's dealings in Zimbabwe did not come up during the NBA security checks.
The United States slapped sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2003 in response to gross human-rights abuses and government-backed land grabs. Sanctions were strengthened by President George W. Bush in 2008.
The State Department's 2009 human-rights report, released last month, detailed state-sanctioned torture and politically motivated killings by government agents linked to Zanu-PF, Mugabe's party.
10 April 2010
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
At the meeting of the ANC's National Executive Committee last month, we
spoke out strongly about the need for discipline among the members of the
organisation and more generally for all to respect the rules of political
As the organisation's leadership we were drawing the line, and that there
would be consequences for anyone who crossed that line.
Matters relating to the conduct and statements of the ANC Youth League which
are totally alien to the culture of the ANC have made it necessary for us to
emphasise a few fundamental principles today.
This is an appropriate moment to do so, particularly since it is the
anniversary of the brutal assassination of one of the outstanding heroes of
our struggle, Comrade Chris Hani.
On this anniversary, we recommit ourselves to uphold the values and
traditions to which he and scores of the country's national heroes dedicated
We commit ourselves to continue working tirelessly to build a non-racial,
non-sexist, united and democratic South Africa, founded on the positive
values that are enshrined in the Constitution.
We urge all South Africans to work with us in achieving these goals.
But ANC cadres must lead in this process.
We also wish to underscore the following important points:
FREEDOM OF THE MEDIA
The country's Constitution enshrines the principle of freedom of the media.
An independent and free media is one of the cornerstones of democracy.
It is an important barometer of the extent to which the people are freely
able to express themselves.
While in a democracy there will inevitably be times of contestation between
the media and other sections of society, the fundamental principles should
be adhered to at all times.
We must accord journalists the freedom to do their work unhindered.
We should engage them professionally and with dignity.
Should there be a need to take issue with anything that is being reported,
it should be done in a manner that promotes frank and open engagement.
The manner in which a BBC journalist was treated at an ANC Youth League
press conference is regrettable and unacceptable, regardless of any alleged
provocation on his part.
RESPECT FOR THE LAW
We place a high premium on order, stability and the rule of law in the
That is why the ruling party took the step this week of calling for
restraint from all its structures and members.
Anyone who then goes against that statement is undermining the leadership
authority of the ANC, and that cannot be accepted.
When the ANC has made such a statement, it is totally out of order for us to
continue as if such a statement was not made.
Certainly there must be consequences for such behaviour.
We have done this because of the need to respect a high court ruling
relating to a particular liberation song.
We also recognise that this song, in the current environment, could be
misunderstood by those not familiar with the context and content of our
In making this call, we do not intend in any way to diminish the proud
history of struggle against apartheid.
We do recognise that we have a responsibility to act in a way that reduces
the potential for tension, and encourages unity.
Our Constitution enshrines the independence of the judiciary and the rule of
We must recognise the role of the judiciary as the final arbiter in disputes
The dignity and decorum of the institution must always be protected and
There are procedures that one should follow to challenge court decisions.
Defiance of these procedures should not be tolerated.
It would make mockery of our judicial system.
It should be noted that to appeal a court decision is not to defy it.
South Africa is a respected member of the international community.
The country has certain responsibilities and obligations in the regional and
broader international spheres.
One of these is to facilitate the implementation of the Global Peace
Agreement in Zimbabwe.
We undertake this task with the necessary seriousness and sensitivity, and
have to ensure impartiality at all times.
We will continue to facilitate the resolution of the impasse in Zimbabwe and
to treat all parties with respect.
We cannot and will not side with any one of the parties to the exclusion of
We received a report from the last round of talks held last week.
We will work with the parties again to take the process forward.
2010 WORLD CUP
The 21st of April will mark the 50 days until the start of the 2010 FIFA
Initial research indicates that South Africa is likely to receive 450 000
international fans between June 11 and
South Africa remains ready to receive visitors from all walks of life and
from all parts of the globe.
We are now putting final touches to our plans on security, logistics,
hospitality, transport and others.
We urge international soccer fans to continue buying tickets and to prepare
themselves to enjoy South African hospitality and experience the first
African World Cup ever.
SOCIAL COHESION AND UNITYRecent events have raised concerns in some quarters
about social cohesion.
Some people have spoken of heightened racial tension.
We should not be dismissive of such concerns, and should be prepared to
engage in dialogue to address them.
But we must acknowledge that South Africans remain united in their support
for the Constitution, the values it enshrines, and the democratic
institutions it has established
South Africans are clearly committed to work together to address the legacy
of our divided past.
Our history tells us that there is no challenge we cannot overcome.
Among other things this requires responsible leadership.
The ANC Youth League is not an independent body.
It exists within the umbrella policy and discipline of the ANC.
The organisation will deal with these matters internally as it deems fit.
We reiterate that leaders should think before they speak, as their
utterances have wider implications for the country.
I thank you.
Apr 11, 2010 7:34 PM | By Sapa
Speaking at a press conference at the ANCYL’s Limpopo conference, Malema
said he would not take any personal responsibility for his remarks made on
Zimbabwe last week.
He said he “can’t understand” why he was rebuked on his statements on
Zimbabwe, as the views expressed was not his, but those of the ANCYL.
He also said he was shocked about the way he was rebuked in public on
television by Zuma, the ANC and South African President.
Zuma said at a news conference in Durban on Saturday Malema’s conduct was
“alien to the ANC”.
Zuma rebuked Malema for his insistence to sing the “shoot the boer” song,
his statements about the killing of Eugene Terre’Blanche, leader of the far
right Afrikaanse Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), and his intervention in the talks
on Zimbabwe, as well as his attacks on journalists..
Malema this week interfered with the Zimbabwe peace process, siding with
Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and verbally attacking the Zimbabwean opposition the
Movement of Democratic Change (MDC).
The ANCYL conference was hotly contested on Sunday. Delegates who were
forcibly removed from the conference vowed never to recognise newly elected
chairman Frans Moswane, the SABC reported.
The delegates, who supported Lehlogonolo Masonga in the elective conference,
said that the election of Moswane was not democratic after they were removed
from the conference by police.
They have accused ANCYL president Julius Malema of orchestrating their
removal to ensure that his preferred candidates were elected.
“He instructed police to take us out from the conference yesterday. We are
going home because we are tired of the agendas of Malema, “ one delegate
told the broadcaster.
“We are tired of the dictatorship of Malema.” Another angry delegate was
quoted as saying: “We wont recognise, we don’t recognise and we will never
recognise this new leader”.
Moswane was elected the new chairman of the youth league in the province.
He was due to make his first public address at the closing of the conference
A special correspondent
11 April 2010
Lecturers at the National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe's
main science university, have gone on strike over unpaid allowances.
Meanwhile, the state has renewed its crackdown on students resulting in
countrywide arrests, court appearances, abductions, disciplinary hearings
and expulsions over demonstrations staged on 29 March in protest against
continuing deterioration of higher education standards.
The lecturers at the state-run NUST in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest
city, went on strike after the authorities stopped paying them transport and
food allowances amounting to US$180 per month, citing financial constraints.
The industrial action began just days after students embarked on nationwide
demonstrations on 29 March, the second anniversary of elections that nearly
toppled the regime of autocratic President Robert Mugabe following 29 years
of uninterrupted rule.
Mugabe barely hung on to power after defeat by his main rival Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Tsvangirai
did not however gain more than the 50% of the vote required by law to win
the presidency, forcing a run-off. Mugabe was later declared the winner of
the second round of voting after the MDC leader pulled out of the race
citing widespread murder and torture of his supporters.
The electoral impasse ended only after South African-led mediation between
the two warring sides resulted in the formation of an inclusive government
last year, in which Mugabe remained as President while the MDC leader was
sworn in as Prime Minister.
In the students' latest countrywide demonstrations, held under the theme
'Igniting Students' Voices - My vote spoke 29 March 2008 elections', police
retaliated against the protesters with water cannons, batons and even bare
Following the demonstrations, 30 students from Great Zimbabwe University
were summoned for disciplinary hearings at the college for participating in
At Midlands State University in Gweru, student Obert Masaraure was suspended
for contravening section 3.1.4 of ordinance No 2 of 2009 by allegedly
engaging in conduct likely to be harmful to the interests of the university.
A letter of suspension written to Masaraure by the institution's
Vice-chancellor Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe, reads in part: "The brief
allegations against you are that you are the ringleader of a group which
calls itself the Orange Revolution...
"The group printed and distributed to other students posters inciting them
to demonstrate against what you called 'satanic fees, unpalatable plate of
Sadza and astronomical rentals'. In my view your actions were calculated to
incite the students' body to be violent."
In Harare, 10 students, including Joshua Chinyere, President of the Zimbabwe
National Union Students (Zinasu), appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court
and were remanded out of custody until 15 April because of the
There was also an abduction by suspected state agents of student leader
Zivanai Muzorodzi, the Zinasu Treasurer General, on 1 April. Muzorodzi was
severely assaulted and later dumped at Lake Kyle after leading a student
demonstration on 29 March.
His abductors warned him against interfering in national politics and
threatened him with death if they ever heard that he had organised more
programmes against Zanu-PF, Mugabe's political party.
Following the crackdown on the students, Zinasu issued a statement saying it
"strongly castigates the increase in the number of cases of student
victimisations by the state apparatus. They are intimidating, harassing and
assaulting dissenting voices in colleges with the aim of silencing them."
Zinasu said it was compiling data on all cases of student victimisation
since the beginning of the year and will present them to Tsvangirai at a
meeting scheduled for this week.
The student body added that the brutality inflicted on its members signified
the re-emergence of lawlessness in the country, coinciding with a visit from
South Africa of Julius Malema, the controversial president of the African
National Congress Youth League who has been accused of fanning hatred in his
It described Malema's visit as "unacceptable, inciteful and politically
Meanwhile, law students have clashed with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
after he told a parliamentary inquiry that students who were graduating were
"half baked lawyers".
The Zimbabwe Law Students Association dismissed the minister's assertions,
saying the law faculty at the University of Zimbabwe had produced successive
teams between 2007 and 2009 that had won the annual International Moot
Competition organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross in
Arusha, Tanzania, beating 14 teams from various law schools across Africa
including South Africa and Kenya.
The association added that Zimbabwean lawyers worked for a number of
prestigious organisations such as the International Criminal Court at The
The students said the justice minister was not aware of the situation on the
ground - and neither were some of the country's leaders who opted to send
their children to study abroad to escape run-down facilities at home, such
as Mugabe and Tsvangirai whose daughters were studying at Hong Kong and
"Since the minister and other privileged people in our society educate their
children in the US, the UK and other exotic places under the sun, he might
genuinely be unaware of the dire straits the students at the faculty find
themselves in," said the Zimbabwe Law Students Association.
"Lastly, we would like to commend the law faculty staff for their sterling
contribution towards quality legal education in the face of the most trying
of situations. We find the honourable Minister's comments unhelpful, hurtful
Vigil supporters discussed plans to
We intend that small groups of Vigil
supporters will at intervals carry tealights around the corner from the Zimbabwe
Embassy to the South African High Commission in
We hope the demonstration will be joined by Lovemore Matombo – President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Irene Petras – Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, and Gabriel Shumba – Executive Director of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, who will be attending a conference ‘Zimbabwe 30 years on: Rights, challenges and opportunities’ in London that day organised by Action for Southern Africa, the successor to the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
One of our founders Ephraim Tapa
spoke at the Vigil and said the MDC had forgotten it had won the 2008 elections.
There was no freedom or justice in
Another founder member Patson Muzuwa
said attempts to deport Vigil supporter Charles Ndelemani on the grounds that he
Hundreds of oddly-dressed cyclists
rode past us along the
Vigil management team meeting before the Vigil the 2009 financial statement was
approved and we were briefed on the progress of ROHR in
· Thanks to Sue for bringing another batch of ‘Mugabe must go’ wristbands. She is such a good customer (in fact the only one for these wristbands) that they gave her 40 for free.
· It was good to welcome back founder member Bonny now recovered from being kicked by a cow. Bonny, who’s a farmer, was bitten by a pig the previous year. Thank goodness we don’t have lions here.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. For the latest ZimVigil TV programme check the link at the top of the home page of our website. For earlier ZimVigil TV programmes check: http://www.zbnnews.com/home/firingline.
FOR THE RECORD: 177 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
Workshop on Transitional Outreach to
Thursday 15th April from 11 am – 4 pm. Venue: The Royal
‘Lights for Freedom’:
· ‘Zimbabwe 30 years on: Rights, challenges and opportunities.’ ACTSA
· ROHR South
Zimbabwe Association’s Women’s
Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30 am – 4 pm. Venue:
The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre,
· Strategic Internship for Zimbabweans organised by Citizens for Sanctuary which is trying to secure work placements for qualified Zimbabweans with refugee status or asylum seekers. For information: http://www.citizensforsanctuary.org.uk/pages/Strategic.html or contact: email@example.com.
Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: April 10, 2010
VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe
Why is Africa poor?
Is it a legacy of colonial exploitation? Tropical diseases and parasites? Or
is it that local mammals, like the zebra and the African elephant, were
difficult to domesticate and harness in agriculture?
There's truth in each of these explanations. But a visit to Zimbabwe
highlights perhaps the main reason: bad governance. The tyrannical,
incompetent and corrupt rule of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, has
turned one of Africa's most advanced countries into a shambles.
In a village less than a day's drive from Victoria Falls, I stumbled across
a hut that to me captured the country's heartbreak - and also its resilience
and hope. The only people living in the hut are five children, orphans from
two families. The kids, ages 8 to 17, moved in together after their four
parents died of AIDS and other causes.
The head of the household is the oldest boy, Abel, a gangly 10th grader with
a perpetual grin. He has been in charge since he was 15.
At one time, the two families reflected Zimbabwe's relative prosperity. One
mother was a businesswoman who traveled abroad regularly. A solar panel that
she brought back from Zambia lies in the courtyard.
One of the fathers was a soccer coach who named his son Diego Maradona.
Diego may have inherited some of his father's talent, but he has no soccer
ball and no soccer shoes - indeed, no shoes at all. And here, as in much of
Zimbabwe, a once-impressive system of schools and clinics has pretty much
collapsed, along with tourism, agricultural production and the economy
The household stirs to life each morning when Abel rises at 4 and sets off
barefoot on a nine-mile hike to the nearest high school. He has no watch or
clock, so he judges the time from the sun, knowing that it will take three
hours to get to school.
Abel and the other children have no money to pay school fees or buy
notebooks. But the teachers allow them to attend class anyway, because they
are brilliant students who earn top grades. They're a reminder that talent
is universal, although opportunity is not.
After Abel leaves for school, responsibility shifts to Diego Maradona, who
is 11. He wakes the three younger children, feeds them cold cornmeal mush
left over from the previous night's dinner, and walks with them to the
elementary school they all attend a few miles away.
When Diego and the younger children return in the afternoon, they gather
firewood, fetch water, tend the chickens and sometimes search for edible
wild plants. Abel returns by about 7 p.m. and cooks more cornmeal mush for
dinner. He dispenses orders and affection, nurses the younger ones when they
are sick, comforts them when they miss their parents, spanks them when they
are naughty, coaches them with their schoolwork, begs food from neighbors,
fixes the thatch roof when it leaks, and rules the household with tenderness
Abel's goal is to graduate from high school and become a policeman, because
the job will provide a steady salary to support his siblings. He does not
know how he will come up with the modest fees to take graduation exams.
I asked Abel what he dreams of. "A bicycle," he said. Then he would be able
to get home from school more quickly and manage the household better.
"Life was a lot better when I was younger," he said, a bit wistfully. "From
what my parents used to tell me, life was a lot better under white rule.
There was a lot more food and clothes, and you could afford to buy things."
But Abel insisted that he was optimistic that life would eventually get
Westerners sometimes think that Africa's problem is a lack of initiative or
hard work. Nobody could think that after talking to Abel and Diego
Maradona - or so many other Zimbabweans who display a resilience and courage
that left me inspired.
I found Zimbabwean superheroes like Abel often in my week of surreptitious
reporting in Zimbabwe. (Mr. Mugabe subjects journalists to imprisonment, so
it seemed best not to advertise my presence.) Parents sacrifice meals to
keep their children in wretched schools (one teacher showed me his two
textbooks for a class of 50). And a growing number of Zimbabweans risk
crocodiles, drowning and violence to sneak into South Africa in search of
So Zimbabwe's tragedy isn't its people, but its leader. Likewise, Africa's
failure has been, above all, one of leadership. It is telling that Africa's
greatest success story, Botswana, is adjacent to one of its greatest
failures, Zimbabwe. The difference is that for decades Botswana has been
exceptionally well and honestly managed, and Zimbabwe pillaged.
April 10, 2010, 10:05 pm
By NICHOLAS KRISTOF
In my Sunday column, I cite Zimbabwe as evidence that Africa's basic problem
has been bad governance. So here's your chance to weigh in on the larger
question of why Africa has been left behind.
Clearly colonialism - and the disastrous colonial borders left behind - have
been a problem. Some people think colonialism is the central problem, and it's
certainly true that the lack of investment in human capital, the way roads
and railways were just built from the interior to the coasts, the way
certain ethnic groups were favored - all these left huge problems behind.
But then again look at those countries that were not colonized. Thailand
wasn't colonized, and it's no better off than Malaysia or Singapore next
door. Liberia wasn't formally colonized, although the immigration of former
American slaves and the Firestone plantations were reminiscent of
colonialism, and it's no better off than Ivory Coast or Sierra Leone next
door. Ethiopia was only lightly colonized, and it didn't obviously benefit
either from the limited colonial imprint. More broadly, Portugal barely
touched areas like the interior of Mozambique, and yet they are no better
off than French colonies that underwent a huge French imprint. Indeed,
French colonies arguably benefited from the strong legacy of a unifying
French language and the ties among Francophone Africa, not least the CFA
Another theory that I allude to is Jared Diamond's belief that Africa (and
Australia) were harmed by the lack of large mammals that could be
domesticated and then harnessed in agriculture. It certainly was a huge
advantage for Asia and Europe that a livestock culture arose there (along
with immunity to disease). But I think Diamond may overdo the intractability
of African mammals. Years ago when I read his book "Guns, Germs and Steel,"
I was impressed by his arguments about how zebras were untrainable - and
then a few days later took my son to the circus, where zebras performed
amazing tricks in the center ring. I've been skeptical ever since. And while
Asian elephants probably are more docile than African elephants, on this
trip I spoke to Zimbabwean elephant trainers who insisted that it is easier
to train African elephants than Indian elephants.
In any case, it is clear that African countries can register enormous
economic growth when they are well-governed. Botswana is a great example of
that. Sure, Botswana is helped by its diamonds, but diamonds haven't done
anything for Congo. The difference is that Botswana since independence has
had a series of wise, honest rulers, and partly as a result no conflict.
What distinguishes the fastest-growing economies in Africa, also including
Rwanda, is simply their good governance. And what distinguishes the
worst-performing countries tends to be a combination of bad governance and
(often related) incessant conflict.
The silver lining is that good governance is as contagious as bad
governance. As it becomes evident that African countries can grow rapidly,
there is more pressure from within and from outside for more transparent and
efficient rule. The time is waning for Robert Mugabe and the other Big Men
of Africa. In more countries we're seeing the rise of smart, honest and
efficient technocrats. (In Zimbabwe, Arthur Mutambara is an example of one,
and he may well be a future leader of the country after Mugabe is gone.)
East Asia went quite quickly from disaster area to a center of global
economic dynamism, and it's not impossible that the same could happen in
Africa if it gets the kind of leaders it deserves.
In any case, this is a long aside from my Sunday column on Zimbabwe. Read
the column and post your thoughts. Africans and people living in Africa
BILL WATCH 16/2010
10th April 2010
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission
The Commission was sworn in by President Mugabe at State House on Wednesday 31st March. It consists of a chairperson plus 8 members.
Chairperson: Professor Reg Austin: Lawyer, former Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe and former head of Commonwealth Secretariat’s Constitutional and Legal Affairs Division.
Deputy Chairperson: Dr Ellen Sithole: Lecturer, Law, University of Zimbabwe’
Dr Kwanele Jirira: Lecturer, Institute of Development Studies, Agrarian and Labour Studies, University of Zimbabwe.
Professor Carroll Khombe: Lecturer, Animal Science, National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo.
Joseph Kurebwa: Lecturer, Political Science, University of Zimbabwe.
Jacob Mudenda: Lawyer and businessman, member of ZANU-PF Politburo. Former Provincial Governor for Matabeleland North, former ZANU PF Matabeleland North chairman.
Elasto Mugwadi: Lawyer. Former Chief Immigration Officer in Ministry of Home Affairs.
Dr Japhet Ndebeni-Ncube: Businessman. Former MDC Mayor of Bulawayo.
Nomathemba Neseni: Social worker. Executive Director, Institute of Water and Sanitation Development.
Commission’s Composition Not Constitutional
Under section 100R(3) of the Constitution stipulates the number of members excluding the chairperson as 8 of whom at least 4 must be women. But there were only 3 women sworn in and 5 men. Presumably this was an oversight. [Is it an indication that some of the members were not well known human rights activists?] But, it means that the Commission is not properly constituted. This defect will have to be put right as a matter of urgency, to ensure the validity of acts performed by the Commission. Presumably one of the male members will have to resign to allow for a fourth woman to be appointed.
What the Constitution says about Qualifications and Method of Appointment
All members must be chosen for their “knowledge and experience in the promotion of social justice or the protection of human rights and freedoms”. In addition the chairperson must be someone who has for at least 5 years been qualified to practise as a legal practitioner in Zimbabwe. The chairperson is appointed by the President after consultation with both the Judicial Service Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. The 8 other members are appointed by the President from a list of 16 nominees submitted by the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders [Constitution, section 100R(1) and (3)]. [The Committee on Standing Rules and Orders submitted its nominees to the President in October 2009. On 21st December it was officially announced that the three principals had agreed on the 8 members and chairperson and that the necessary consultations would take place on the chairperson, who was not named in the statement.]
Background to the Commission
The Commission is set up under section 100R of the Constitution, which stems from Constitution Amendment No. 19. The section states the qualifications for members of the Commission and the procedure for their appointment, and the functions and powers of the Commission. It also provides for additional powers to be conferred on the Commission by Act of Parliament; as yet there is no such Act. The Constitution had contained similar provision for a Human Rights Commission since 2005, but no steps were ever taken to appoint its members or to pass the necessary supporting Act of Parliament. So the new Commission starts with a completely clean slate, unhampered by the sort of transitional problems that may complicate matters for the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission – and free to advise the Government on what should be included in any Bill designed to supplement the constitutional provisions [see below].
Ministerial Responsibility for Commission
Responsibility for the Commission currently lies with the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs. This is illogical, given that the President has assigned responsibility for the Constitution, which enshrines human rights and under which the Commission is appointed, to the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.
Functions and Powers
Functions [section 100R(5)]:
· to promote awareness of and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of society
· to promote the development of human rights and freedoms
· to monitor and assess the observance of human rights in Zimbabwe
· to recommend to Parliament effective measures to promote human rights and freedoms
· to investigate the conduct of any authority or person, where it is alleged that any of the rights in the Declaration of Rights has been violated by that authority or person
· to assist the responsible Minister to prepare any report required to be submitted to any regional or international body constituted or appointed for the purpose of receiving such reports under any human rights convention, treaty or agreement to which Zimbabwe is a party.
Powers [section 100R(6) and (7)]:
· to require any person, body, organ, agency or institution to provide the Commission annually with such information as it may need for the purpose of preparing and submitting any report required to be submitted to any regional or international body under any human rights convention, treaty or agreement
· to take over and continue any investigation that has been instituted by the Public Protector, where it determines that the dominant question in issue involves a matter pertinent to its own functions
· refer to the Public Protector for investigation any matter in respect of which it determines that the dominant question in issue involves a matter pertinent to the functions of Public Protector.
Additional powers to be conferred by Act of Parliament [section 100R(8)]:
· to conduct investigations on its own initiative or on receipt of complaints;
· to visit and inspect prisons, places of detention, refugee camps etc. to ascertain the conditions under which inmates are kept, and to make recommendations regarding those conditions to the Minister responsible for those places;
· to visit and inspect places where mentally disordered persons are detained to ascertain the conditions under which those persons are kept, and to make recommendations regarding those conditions to the Minister responsible for those places; and
· to secure or provide redress for violations of human rights and for injustice.
The Estimates for 2010 provide no funding for the Commission. Presumably provision will be made in the mid-year Supplementary Estimates.
Human Rights Commission Act Needed Urgently
An Act of Parliament is urgently needed to flesh out the very bare bones of the Constitutional provisions. Apart from conferring the additional powers envisaged by section 100R(6) and (7) of the Constitution, aspects that need to be covered: are the legal capacity of the Commission, the conditions of service of the members, the appointment and conditions of service of its staff, financial and accounting procedures, power to compel the attendance of witnesses and production of documents for the purpose of its investigations, and general housekeeping matters.
When opening Parliament on 6th October 2009 President Mugabe said a Human Rights Commission Bill would be presented to Parliament for enactment during the present session. No such Bill has been presented. The Bill is also mentioned in the Government Work Plan for 2010 due to be launched shortly by the Prime Minister. Any Bill cannot now be presented until at least mid-June, when the Senate is due to resume.
It is to be hoped that the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs will carry out wide-ranging public consultations before finalising the Bill. Civil society organisations have already done research in this field which could assist in the process. Such a Bill should among other provisions empower the Commission to secure or provide appropriate redress for violations of human rights and for injustice, as this provision is not included in its constitutional powers.
The Bill should also aim at ensuring that the Commission will comply with the Paris Principles relating to the status of national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993. Compliance will enable the Commission to be accredited to take part in the proceedings of the UN Human Rights Council. [Paris Principles available on request]
A Positive Development or a Delaying Mechanism?
There are great expectations of this Commission – that it will contribute to reducing the human rights abuses Zimbabwe is experiencing by promptly investigating and securing redress for victims of human rights abuses – thereby rendering resort to international bodies unnecessary. There is, however, also the fear that getting it off the ground and its ability to work effectively could be delayed by the same party political squabbling that has dogged other inclusive government initiatives. In which case its existence as an extra domestic remedy may delay the processes of seeking regional or international redress. [International human rights bodies empowered to deal with complaints of human rights violations by member States – e.g., African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, UN Human Rights Council and UN Human Rights Committee – do not entertain complaints before “domestic remedies” have been exhausted, unless such remedies would be “unreasonably prolonged”. The Zimbabwe government has in the past used the “exhaustion of domestic remedies” rule to avoid dealing with the merits of complaints against it before such bodies.]
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