By Tichaona Sibanda
12 April 2012
President Robert Mugabe returned to Harare early on Thursday, amid fresh
rumors about his health after spending almost two weeks on a private visit
Despite the long haul flight from Singapore, via Johannesburg, Mugabe
chaired a cabinet meeting that started soon after 10am.
He went to Singapore on 31st March on what was officially described as a
visit related to his daughter’s education. But analysts believe he was
continuing treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer.
SW Radio Africa is reliably informed Mugabe may have had an ‘episode’ at his
home and was flown to Singapore as a matter of urgency. His decision to
cancel two cabinet meetings, as well as a special ZANU PF politburo meeting,
fueled speculation that he had encountered health problems.
During his absence there was also a flurry of claims that he had secretly
agreed to a succession deal that would see him hand over power to Defence
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, something the ZANU PF strongman denied.
Rumours have been rife after an online publication, The Zimbabwe Mail,
claimed that Mugabe was battling for life in a Singapore hospital. Citing
what it called a credible senior ZANU PF source, the publication went as far
as reporting that the 88 year-old leader was on his ‘deathbed’ surrounded by
However as it became clear that Mugabe was back in Harare, looking fit, the
publication issued an apology and went as far as making changes to its
The visit to Singapore was the tenth by Mugabe in the last eighteen months,
costing tax payers about $3 million a trip.
A significant break in tradition was that Mugabe did not address the state
media on his return as he usually does.
‘The state radio bulletins were reporting that Mugabe was apparently running
when he got off the plane, but it’s clear from pictures and TV footage that
he was being aided to walk to his car.
‘From the plane the first lady, Grace, held his hand firmly and helped him
negotiate the stairs. Once on the tarmac Vice-President Mujuru helped him
walk to his car and the only time he walked unaided was when he greeted the
service chiefs, which was a mere three metres from his presidential
limousine,’ our correspondent Simon Muchemwa said.
Meanwhile Information Minister Webster Shamu on Wednesday summoned editors
from private newspapers to complain about reports on Mugabe’s reported
The Chegutu West ZANU PF MP and party commissar ordered scribes from NewsDay
and the Daily News to his office on Wednesday morning and gave them a
dressing down, according to reports.
Why Shamu targeted the independent media is yet another example of how badly
his ministry is fumbling its public relations,’ a PR expert said.
‘The silence has been deafening in itself. In today’s world, silence is
perceived as arrogance. And the more the public was kept in the dark, the
more frenzied the speculation,’ the expert who asked not to be identified
He said Shamu and ZANU PF spokesman George Charamba should take cue from
former South African President Nelson Mandela’s media team.
‘In 1994, soon after Mandela’s inauguration, his office informed the world
he was undergoing surgery to remove a cataract. When he received
radiotherapy for prostate cancer in 2001, his office assured the nation that
his life span is unlikely to be reduced.
‘As Mugabe is head of State, I think it is also is regrettable and
inexplicable that his party insist that anything to do with his medical
condition should be treated as private and confidential. This fosters
rumour-mongering, like what has just happened,’ the expert added.
Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:36am GMT
Print | Single Page
By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe returned home on Thursday,
looking fit after a trip to Singapore that had ignited speculation the
veteran Zimbabwean leader was seriously ill.
The 88-year-old President, who has ruled the southern African country for
more than three decades, landed at Harare's main airport in a chartered
plane accompanied by his wife Grace.
Information minister Webster Shamu blamed western media for spreading
rumours about Mugabe's health. Media had speculated that Mugabe went for
vital medical attention in Singapore where he travelled for check-ups eight
times last year.
"As you can see, he is fit as a fiddle. Why do we spread rumours? It's all
lies told by a press driving an imperialist agenda," Shamu told a group of
reporters at the airport.
Three hours after his arrival just after 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), Mugabe was
chairing a weekly cabinet meeting that rescheduled from Tuesday, senior
government officials told Reuters.
Mugabe went round the cabinet room greeting and laughing with ministers,
including those from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by his
bitter rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the officials said.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai share power in a fragile coalition formed three years
A Reuters reporter had earlier seen Mugabe at the airport joking and
laughing with Vice President Joice Mujuru, a possible successor.
The former guerrilla leader has been the subject of several health scares,
with some reports saying he has prostate cancer, but in February interviews
with state media he laughed off suggestions that he was seriously ill.
Mugabe and close aides have kept his health a closely guarded secret.
Some members of his ZANU-PF party are afraid that, should Mugabe die in
office without settling a bitter succession battle, the party could erupt in
internal conflict and destabilise the country.
Although ZANU-PF officials rally behind Mugabe in public, in private many
want him to retire and pass the baton to a younger person as they fear his
advanced age may cost the party victory in an upcoming election.
But while some ZANU-PF members see Mugabe as a political liability, they
recognise him as the only person able to control the highly partisan
Zimbabwean army led by veterans of the 1970s independence war.
Many are also unsure whether his potential successors can defeat ZANU-PF's
most formidable opponent, Tsvangirai, in a free election. Elections must be
held by next year under the terms of their power-sharing deal.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 11:13
By Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Mail has fired one of its editors for writing a story basing on
rumours that President Robert Mugabe was on a deathbed in Singapore.
The sacking comes as Mugabe returned home Thursday morning, looking frail
although his close officials say he is as fit as a fiddle.
The Zimbabwe Mail offered a public apology to Mugabe and his family for
Written by Xolisani Ncube, Staff Writer
Thursday, 12 April 2012 14:55
HARARE - Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa says it will be
abnormal and not possible for Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed
President Robert Mugabe ahead of the party’s two vice presidents and
Mutasa, who is also minister of State in Mugabe’s office, refuted claims by
a London newspaper The Sunday Telegraph that Mugabe had reached a “gentleman’s
agreement” with the Midlands “godfather” to hand over power to him if he
manages to successfully campaign for the 88-year-old in the next
Constitutional experts have also said it is not possible for Mnangagwa to
take over from Mugabe ahead of many other aspirants and constitutional
The tough-talking Mutasa, who as secretary for administration in Zanu PF
holds the equivalent of Tendai Biti’s secretary general’s position in MDC,
is fifth in the party hierarchy while Mnangagwa is believed to be a distant
Mutasa said Mnangagwa was no way near the throne — placing vice presidents
Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo as better candidates both in seniority and
capacity to lead the former ruling party.
Mutasa said it would be abnormal for Mnangagwa to be catapulted to the
presidency ahead of Mujuru or Nkomo as the two have better chances than the
“We have a hierarchy that we follow as a party, Mai Mujuru is better placed
as well as John Nkomo or even SK Moyo, and those are the people who can take
over today. But why are we talking about this when the President is still
there?” Mutasa told the Daily News yesterday.
Mutasa is a powerful figure in Zanu PF. Mugabe himself has occupied the same
position of secretary- general as was the late fiery national hero Edgar
The secretary-general’s post was scratched and replaced by secretary for
administration. Mnangagwa has in the past occupied the position.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, Mnangagwa is being groomed to take over
both as party and state leader after the next polls, whose date is yet to be
He has long been touted as a favourite front-runner ahead of Mujuru, who
with her late husband, were reported to be leading another faction gearing
to replace Mugabe.
Mujuru’s husband Solomon, died last year in a mysterious fire at his
Beatrice farm house — leaving the first female vice president in the country
without a shield and a helper to rise to the top.
Mutasa said if it was Mnangagwa who is funding the “baseless” succession
agenda, he was putting unnecessary political pressure on the octogenarian
“Whoever is funding that agenda, has a wrong motive he should not be allowed
to continue doing so, because it is against our culture as Africans,” Mutasa
"The president is still there and we as Africans are well cultured such that
we don’t talk about replacing someone when he is alive. It is a Western
Political analysts said the Chirimanzu-Zibangwe MP has no national appeal to
turn around the flagging fortunes of the ex-ruling party which is currently
battling to win hearts and minds of the majority.
Mnangagwa has been accused of using state machinery including a military
helicopter to travel to rural areas to pursue factional politics.
John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer told this
paper that Mujuru could actually give the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai a run
for his money than Mnangagwa.
A few weeks ago, he travelled to Bikita to attend a ceremony at which
Munyaradzi Kereke, the former advisor to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor, Gideon Gono was launching a mobile clinic and donating food.
A few days later, Mnangagwa was in the air again with the helicopter
travelling to Chivi to attend the graduation ceremony of a granddaughter to
former Masvingo governor, Josiah Hungwe. This has riled the Mujuru faction.
John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political science lecture told this
paper that Mujuru could actually give the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai a
good run for his money than Mnangagwa.
“I think it will be unwise for Mugabe to hand over power to Mnangagwa
because he is not popular within Zanu PF and he can’t win the hearts and
minds of the people at large.
“I would advise Mugabe to give Mujuru as she has no history of violence and
she is one person who is democratically minded, she hates violence and has
an open door policy to other political players,” Makumbe observed.
Harare, April 12, 2012 - Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on
Wednesday dispatched an envoy to Angola to brief its leader on problems
dogging Harare’s inclusive government.
Jameson Timba, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, is
expected to meet Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos and other government
This comes amid a widening rift in the coalition government with Zanu (PF)
ministers openly defying Tsvangirai.
Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Saviour Kasuwere
openly called the PM a puppet and led a boycott of a Council of Ministers
meeting last week.
Dos Santos is the current chairperson of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC). The regional body is mediating in the political
disagreements between Zimbabwe’s three governing parties.
Zanu (PF) has been threatening to abandon the SADC brokered inclusive
government accusing its coalition partners of delaying a constitution making
Timba is also expected to meet the Angolan Foreign Affairs ministry
officials including the State secretary Manuel Augusto.
“Angola, as a brother country, we will inform on the current political
situation in Zimbabwe,” he told state media on arrival.
He said Angola must be kept abreast of political and economic developments
in Zimbabwe as the current SADC chair.
SADC is likely to challenge President Robert Mugabe’s insistence to hold
elections without reforms as it is contrary to the power sharing agreement
that established the inclusive government.
by Staff Reporter
THE recent hike in various mining fees and royalty payments by as much as
8,000 percent was unconstitutional, Parliament’s legal committee has said.
Industry executives were outraged by the fee hike announced in January which
among other things saw registration charges for platinum and diamond claims
rise to $2.5 million and $5 million, respectively.
In its latest report, the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) which gives a
legal opinion on the constitutionality of all laws and statutory instruments
gazetted in the country said the statutory instrument giving the increases
legal force was also illegal.
“It is pertinent to note that in the case of application fees, they are non
refundable,” the committee said.
“There is no regard to whether the application would succeed or not; yet
they range from a minimum of $5 000 for an application for registration as
an approved prospector to a maximum of $1 million for an application fee for
“Generally, the fees imposed by the statutory instrument are very hefty.
They impose a heavy financial burden on citizens and non-citizens alike who
opt to invest in the mining sector.”
Industry executives warned that the steep hikes would seriously hurt
companies and undermine growth in a sector which has since overtaken
agriculture as the main foreign exchange earner, contributing $2.6 billion
to its $4.4 billion total export earnings in 2011.
"It's estimated that 60 percent of every dollar earned in revenue goes to
the government, making Zimbabwe one of the most expensive countries to
mine," Chamber of Mines vice president, Allan Mashingaidze, told parliament
Meanwhile, the PLC also deplored the lack of consultation by Mines Minister,
Obert Mpofu before gazetting the regulations.
“These hefty fees have been imposed through a statutory instrument, with
little, if not nil, input from ordinary Zimbabweans through their elected
representatives, the committee added.
“Legal instruments that impose hefty financial burdens are more appropriate
for legislative enactment to the extent that this is the only way that
ordinary citizens would be able to have an input into the process through
their elected representatives.”
The Mines Ministry recently said it was reviewing the increases following
complains by the industry.
"The ministry is presently reviewing the impact of these fees on the mining
sector," Prince Mupazviriho, the Ministry’s permanent secretary told a
mining conference in Harare.
He offered no details on whether the ministry might reduce the fees.
By Alex Bell
12 April 2012
ZANU PF has seized another of Zimbabwe’s few remaining conservancies after a
four year legal battle, despite warnings from parliament about the
destruction of these areas.
Magistrate Jabulani Muzinyati last week ordered Terry Andres, John Taylor
and Grant Hudson to surrender the Bikita based Savuli Conservancy to former
ZANU PF deputy Minister for Gender and Youth, Shuvai Ben Mahofa.
Mahofa originally grabbed the conservancy under Robert Mugabe’s land grab
campaign in 2007 after she and former Bikita west ZANU PF legislator,
Retired Colonel Claudius Makova, got an ‘offer’ letter to take over the
land. The conservationists have been fighting ever since to try and keep the
But their appeal against the land seizure was dismissed last week and it is
understood that they have now been evicted from the land.
This court decision follows a recent damning report by a parliamentary
committee, which slammed the inclusion of conservancy land in the land grab
campaign. The report, compiled by MPs and other government officials, warned
that this has led to the destruction of important conservation areas.
The report singled out top ZANU PF and military officials as being
responsible for this destruction, stating that Zimbabwe’s conservancies were
supposed to be restricted to indigenous ‘investors’ with demonstrable
“interest and experience in wildlife conservation (as well as the) capacity
for business development and ability to contribute to the asset base.”
Johnny Rodrigues, the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
(ZCTF) said the takeover of Savuli Conservancy has “nothing to do with
conservation,” warning that the first thing that will happen is all the
animals will be killed.
“She (Mahofa) will kill all the animals and make money off that and then
what? Then it will be something else. This is all based on greed,” Rodrigues
He explained that Mahofa already has several properties that were awarded to
her “for supporting the regime.” He also said the takeover of Savuli is
“Even the Minister of Environment has agreed that conservancies like Savuli
should be exempt, but nothing is being done. These ministers and MPs say one
thing in parliament, but nothing happens on the ground and it is
frightening,” Rodrigues said.
The President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) Charles Taffs meanwhile
told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the ongoing seizure of land under the
pretence of either ‘reform’ or ‘indigenisation’ was destroying Zimbabwe’s
“We have seen and continue to see the consistent pull out of investment and
unless someone steps in stops this, then Zimbabwe has no future,” Taffs
By Tererai Karimakwenda
12 April 2012
A student activist at Masvingo Polytechnic College has been ordered to pay
$150 after a magistrate convicted him on assault charges, in a case that has
shocked the student community.
Prosper Tiringindi was arrested back in February along with four other
students who had demanded their money back for a course that was cancelled
by the College. The students were initially charged with public violence
which was later changed to assault and have always insisted they were
But according to Darlington Madzonga from the Students Solidarity Trust
(SST), Tiringindi never made it on to the campus grounds on the day in
question and three witnesses testified they were with him.
“His defense is that he went with the others but was stopped by security
guards at the gate,” Madzonga told SW Radio Africa. He explained that
Tiringindi was targetted by the Principal at Masvingo Polytech because he
speaks out for students and is a popular leader.
Madzonga said that the other four students, Brighton Ramusi, Zivanai
Muzorodzi, Godfrey Kurauone and Brian Chimwayi were acquitted last week
after the court ruled there was no evidence linking them to any violence.
On Thursday a Masvingo magistrate ordered Tiringindi to pay a fine of
$150.00 before the 31st April. He was also “warned not to commit another
offence” otherwise he would be sent to prison.
The school had advertised a course in Tourism and Hospitality which was
later cancelled and students who had already paid were not refunded. The
five students approached the Dean demanding that all students who paid be
refunded, but they were arrested and charged with assault.
Madzonga said the activist will pay the fine but his lawyers will appeal the
decision by the magistrate. The students who paid for the Hospitality course
have still not been refunded and the school says the course starts “sometime
Bulawayo, April 12, 2012 - Stanley Ncube, the opposition Zapu’s organising
secretary for Umguza constituency in Matebeleland North was arrested on
Wednesday for campaigning for “devolution of power” to be included in the
A group of Zanu (PF) youths spotted Ncube distributing Zapu flyers at a
funeral in the area, calling people in Umguza constituency to vote “Yes” for
a new constitution which includes “devolution of power” in a referendum
expected in June. The Zanu (PF) youths then grabbed Ncube and handed him
over to two police officers who were also at the funeral, who then took him
to Inyathi police station.
Umguza constituency is under Zanu (PF) legislator, Clifford Sibanda.
“Stanley was at a funeral in Inyathi area of Umguza, and then he started
distributing flyers with Zapu logo calling people in the region to vote a
constitution which include devolution power. The next thing some men
believed to be Zanu (PF) grabbed and handed him over to police officers who
were around, accusing him of causing alarm and despondency,” said Mark
Mbayiwa the Zapu Matebeleland Regional Coordinator.
Ncube was detained at Inyathi police station before taken to Lupane police
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Siphiwe Makonese said she was not in
Zimbabwe human rights organisations, civic society groups, pressure groups
and other opposition political parties have called for the urgent
implementation of “devolution of power” in Zimbabwe to stop the continued
marginalisation of some provinces.
They are saying “devolution of power” is the only way of uplifting some of
the country’s provinces that have remained marginalised since Independence
Some civic groups accuse the central government of robbing resource rich
regions to develop preferred provinces, notably Matabeleland which lags
behind in terms of development.
However President Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have dismissed “devolution of
power” saying it will divide people of Zimbabwe and should not be included
in the new constitution.
Thursday, 12 April 2012
Abisha Nyanguwo the MDC Chief of Staff has been remanded in custody in Gweru
after the magistrate ruled that he will make a ruling on his bail
application tomorrow. Nyanguwo is facing flimsy charges of malicious damage
to property. The State is accusing him of bombing Zanu PF offices in Gweru
He was arrested earlier this week and has been detained at Gweru Central
Today the magistrate postponed the initial remand hearing as the State files
did not include any witnesses. It was only in the afternoon when one
Archford Tambare was included as the State witness. The State is claiming
that Tambare, a police officer from Zhombe district witnessed Nyanguwo
ferrying explosives from Mvuma which he used to blow up the Zanu PF Gweru
On 22 March 2012 heavily armed police officers raided Nyanguwo’s residence
in Harare, claiming to search for weapons of war and mass destruction before
they impounded his Isuzu double cab truck alleging that it was used in the
Surprisingly early this year, police in Gweru arrested three MDC members,
Shepherd Marange, Douglas Tsuro and Silas Mutendeudzwa on charges of bombing
the same Zanu PF offices but they were released later.
The people’s struggle for real change – Let’s finish it!!!
MDC Information & Publicity Department
12 Apr 2012 16:37
By Madalitso Mwando
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (AlertNet) – Zimbabwe’s lack of preparedness for the
impact of climate change is coming under increasing scrutiny, as the nation
faces another year of drought and the government admits it has done little
to mitigate the crisis.
Smallholder farmers, the main producers of maize, the country’s staple food,
are suffering poor harvests because of sparse rainfall and rising
temperatures. With the threat of food insecurity being felt across the
country, the government is under pressure to formulate a comprehensive
climate change policy.
The agriculture ministry said last year that sufficient crops had been
planted to feed the nation. But rain expected in late December came only in
March, forcing a revision of the projected output.
“No one knows anymore when the rains will fall. We are only seeing the rain
now after having planted last year,” said Thembiso Mkhwebu, a smallholder in
rural Gwanda, some 100 km (63 miles) south of Bulawayo.
“Our maize wilted a long time ago and this rain is useless now,” she added.
“We cannot start planting now.”
REQUEST FOR FOOD AID
Despite previously insisting that Zimbabwe was able to feed itself, the
government last month appealed to international humanitarian agencies for
help. The US government’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network estimates
that up to 2 million people will require food assistance.
The international community has yet to respond to Zimbabwe’s appeal, which
comes after scores of non-governmental organisations were banned from
operating in the country because government officials claimed they were
meddling in politics.
At the commemoration of World Water Day in March, President Robert Mugabe
noted the huge impact of climate change on agricultural production and said
that the scarcity of rain posed a threat to the country’s food security.
Zimbabwe’s agriculture is heavily rain-fed, and irrigation schemes are too
expensive for most rural smallholder farmers.
Mugabe’s acknowledgement presents fresh challenges to the government’s
agrarian reform programme. The country’s inadequate grasp of how to deal
with changing weather patterns is typified by the Meteorological Services
Department, which over the last year has had to revise its forecast for the
coming of the planting season rains a number of times when prior predictions
The government last year began broad consultations to map out a climate
change policy in partnership with the Climate and Development Knowledge
Network (CDKN), an international non-governmental agency that supports
climate-smart development and policy making.
CDKN-supported research suggests that Zimbabwe will have to cope with
changing rainfall patterns, temperature increases and more extreme weather
events such as floods and droughts. According to CDKN, longer and more
frequent droughts could substantially reduce crop yields, including maize.
LACK OF POLICY
The Zimbabwe Regional Environment Organisation (ZERO), a local NGO, says
that for a long time there have been no comprehensive programmes to address
the crisis presented by changing rainfall patterns.
“What we have seen is little attention to climate change by (the)
government,” said Tyson Machingura, a climate change researcher with ZERO.
“For example, smallholder farmers are still clueless about when to plant and
when not to plant as they continue following traditional seasons, yet so
much has changed in climate patterns.”
Machingura called for a ministerial taskforce to plan proper adaptation
measures that would benefit ordinary people.
Government officials admit they need to do more to ease the frustration of
smallholders like Mkhwebu who at present lack reliable information about
when to plant their crops.
“Government is working on climate change programmes designed to address
concerns of rain-fed agriculture where poor harvests could mean the whole
nation starves,” said Abiatha Ndlovu, an extension officer with the
“But we still (have) a lot of convincing to do as many smallholder farmers
ignore advice to shift their planting seasons,” Ndlovu added.
Madalitso Mwando is a journalist based in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Written by Staff Writer
Thursday, 12 April 2012 14:45
MUTARE - A fifty-year-old Marange villager has vowed to defy government and
mining firms’ move to relocate him to Arda Transau and allow diamond mining
at Chiadzwa diamond fields.
In an interview with the Daily News on the sidelines of a workshop organised
by Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (Zela) last week, villager
Malvern Mudiwa poured his heart out.
“I was born in Marange and I do not want to be relocated to another place. I
have an emotional and special attachment to that place at 50, for me it’s
time to retire and not to be uprooted,” Mudiwa said.
He added: “We had thought the discovery (of diamonds) would change our
livelihoods for the better, we receive very little rainfall and the
discovery should have been an answer by our ancestors and God to our plight.
“But alas it’s been the other way round, I am told to move, our relatives
have lost life and limb at the hands of our own government and its
apparatus,” a tearful Mudiwa said.
Although Mudiwa understands he has to make way for the mining of the
precious stones he is baffled as to why he has to be moved far from Marange.
“Why should I be moved away from my ancestral land to a foreign land, they
should at least move me some few hundred metres, and still we should benefit
from these diamonds. How am I supposed to benefit when I am hundred
“I can assure you I am not going anywhere I would rather go to prison than
be moved to Odzi, they should tell me how much I am worth first, buy me out
and I will have to be consulted on where I want to move to,” Mudiwa
He bemoaned the fact that people from far and wide were getting employed
while their children remained jobless.
“We just want to be listened to, they are using headmen and giving them
gifts, so they will not challenge the removals but we are ready to fight.
“Even so there are rumours that gold was discovered in Transau so we will
probably have to move again later, while the houses the companies built
there remain their property. I will not go,” Mudiwa said.
The discovery of diamonds in Marange in early 2000 has created acrimony with
political leaders at each other’s throat for control of the diamond fields
while the ordinary people in the area have been forced to move.
Written by Staff Writer
Thursday, 12 April 2012 15:00
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe should shut up and stop displaying
political intolerance which has become the hallmark of his disastrous
three-decade rule, Simba Makoni, a political rival whom the Zimbabwean
leader once branded a “prostitute” said yesterday.
Mugabe hurled insults at former finance minister Simba Makoni in his address
to the Zanu PF Central Committee on Friday, March 30, 2012, where the
octogenarian leader impliedly told delegates that the Mavambo Kusile Dawn
(MKD) interim president was languishing in the political wilderness because
he had no following.
Makoni, who walked out of Mugabe’s Zanu PF on February 5, 2008 and garnered
eight percent in the 2008 presidential vote, has emerged as one of the
serious political challengers to the 88- year-old ruler, at a time when the
veteran leader is struggling to convince Zimbabweans he can ease their
While speaking about the subject of disunity in his party in general and the
exit of Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa from Zanu PF, Mugabe said:
“Ndakamubvunza kuti una ani? Ko une party here? Iye akati aah! Vanhu
vanondivhotera, hanzi vanhu vanonditeera nekuti ndinonzi Simba Makoni. (I
asked him, ‘do you have any supporters at all? Do you have a party at all?’
And he said, ‘ah, the people will vote for me, the people will follow me
because I am called Simba Makoni’),” Mugabe told his lieutenants.
The 60-year-old Makoni yesterday rubbished Mugabe’s remarks as the rumblings
of someone in power for far too long.
Makoni said he had the full support of his National Management Committee
(NMC), which is the highest decision making body of MKD, and said his team
was working hard to search for a permanent solution to the country’s
problems which he said the “shaky” inclusive government has failed to solve.
Makoni said MKD had countrywide structures in the provinces, adding his
party commanded “a strong backing from multitudes of Zimbabweans across the
“We are satisfied with the party’s pace of growth and have no reason
whatsoever to be apologetic to President Mugabe,” he said.
“Any political competitor who elects to underestimate MKD and its leader is
not respecting the people of Zimbabwe and will be doing so at his or her own
He said his team had “the overwhelming support of enlightened Zimbabweans”
and vowed that he will form the next government.
“We do not need the endorsement of intolerant political competitors,” Makoni
“We would be worried if such remarks were coming from 13 million
“President Mugabe’s utterances do not reflect a popular sentiment and MKD
will give him a rude awakening come next elections, which we hope will be
conducted in an environment that guarantees a free and fair outcome.”
Mugabe, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, is seen in the Western
world as a ruthless dictator, but regional African leaders tout him as a
liberation icon with the stamina to challenge global powers such as United
States and former coloniser Britain.
Makoni, unlike Mugabe, proposes restoring ties with Western donors to revive
the economy that economists say needs at least $10 billion injection.
Analysts say Makoni could be a dark horse in the forthcoming polls.
Makoni, who is challenging Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the
forthcoming polls scheduled before June 2013, says he is currently working
towards a better Zimbabwe for tolerance, inclusion, transparency,
accountability, democracy and equal opportunities for all.
“We are a serious game changer and neither an easy pushover nor cry baby in
this field,” he said.
“We will stand our ground with equal measure. MKD has all it takes not only
to contest, but win elections, govern effectively and efficiently and make
this country work again.”
Mugabe has frantically tried to shift attention for his appalling handling
of the economy over the past decade by alleging the MDC had enlisted the
services of Western foes to oust him and destabilise the country, analysts
Makoni said he and his party were here to stay and were not going anywhere.
“We cannot be wished away just like that,” he said. “By now, at least
President Mugabe should know better.
“He would not have been so jittery if Makoni was not an issue in the country’s
“We urge all Zimbabweans to ignore such statements and remain focused. We
sympathise with the majority of people during the painful phase that our
nation is going through. The furnace of affliction produces refinement in
the country and its people."
“A new beginning is nearing. Zimbabweans need to usher in a new
administration of leaders willing to serve and not be served; leaders with
people at heart.”
Written by Taurai Mangudhla, Business Writer
Thursday, 12 April 2012 15:41
HARARE - Zimbabwe's budget deficit swelled to $93 million at the end of
March this year compared to $61,2 million prior month as diamond revenues
continue to underperform.
This comes as Obert Mpofu’s Mines ministry — parent to the Minerals
Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe — has failed to publicly account for the
stones and at a time where concerns have been raised over possible leakages
of the gems into neighbouring Mozambique.
Finance minister Tendai Biti yesterday told a press briefing that he was yet
to collect a total $92 million expected from the mining activity in the
period under review.
“There is now a shortfall of $92 million from diamonds alone,” he said,
adding that the economy was reliant on the contribution from its natural
Revenue trickling from the Marange mining operations — in which government
has a 50 percent shareholding in four of the five mines — is critical to the
country’s budget, pegged at $4 billion on the assumption that diamond taxes
would account for up to $600 million.
Diamonds and non-tax revenues received amounted to a paltry $5 million and
$7,4 million for January and February 2012, against targets of $41,5 million
and $10,5 million respectively.
Biti, who was expecting to collect a combined $58 million from the precious
stone proceeds for January and February, said poor collections as at
February were compounded by the depressed Zimra collections during the month
where $215,3 million was collected against a target of $218 million.
The poor diamond proceeds have left Zimbabwe suffering an albatross of
escalating employment costs while frustrating the country’s plans to clear
intra-governmental debt which Biti says is stifling the few productive
“We hope to liquidate domestic indebtedness in the next few weeks; we want
to break the cycle of intra-government indebtedness.”
According to the Finance minister, government owes $20 million to Zesa, $20
million to Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and a whopping $60
million to state owned mobile telephone provider NetOne.
Another $20 million is owed to TelOne.
Thursday, 12 April 2012
The District Administrator for Goromonzi, who was only identified as Rupiya
is barring the councillor for Ward 20 in Goromonzi South, Romeo Mugadza from
collecting his monthly maize allocation from the Grain Marketing Board
The grain loan scheme is a government initiative to provide food to drought
affected households across the country. Only elected councillors are allowed
to be involved in the distribution. Instead, Rupiya has sidelined councillor
Mugadza preffering Assan Seremani, the Zanu PF’s district coordinating
committee chairperson to do the distribution.
Assan Seremani is now doing the distribution on partisan lines with a bias
to benefit only Zanu PF sympathisers.This month 29 tonnes of maize, meant to
benefit over 500 families was distributed Zanu PF supporters only.
Mugadza was elected councillor on an MDC ticket in 2008.
The people’s struggle for real change – Let’s finish it!!!
MDC Information & Publicity Department
Is the music stopping for Zimbabwe’s octogenarian president?
Apr 14th 2012 | HARARE | from the print edition
THE buzz from Zimbabwe’s whirring rumour mill had Robert Mugabe, the country’s
88-year-old president, fighting for his life in a Singapore hospital. His
hardline defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, known as “the crocodile”, was
said to be hatching a deathbed succession deal. A coup by the defence chief,
said fearmongers, could mean renewed chaos.
Hogwash, retorted loyalists. The president had flown to Singapore on a
private holiday, and would soon be back. In fact, Mr Mugabe did rush home to
quash the rumours. Yet everyone knows that the president visited Singapore
no fewer than eight times last year. This was said to be for check-ups
following an eye operation. But according to WikiLeaks, a top Mugabe
confidant told American diplomats in 2008 that the president was suffering
from prostate cancer and was not expected to live for more than three to
Despite all the hair-dye, Botox and revitalising drugs pumped into him by
his doctors, Africa’s oldest leader has appeared increasingly doddery of
late. While he continues to play his public role reasonably well, everyone
knows he could pop off at any time. The sudden death of nearby Malawi’s
president, Bingu wa Mutharika, from a heart attack on April 5th, has helped
to focus concern.
Mr Mugabe’s mortality terrifies the security bosses and hardliners in his
Zanu-PF party. The wily president, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence 32
years ago, is widely seen as the only person capable of holding the
fragmented party together as battles rage between rival factions over his
succession. He is also seen as the party’s only chance, in a genuinely free
and fair election, of defeating Morgan Tsvangirai, his popular prime
minister and leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has
been Zanu-PF’s partner for the past three years in a power-sharing
Many in the party are pressing Mr Mugabe to call for a snap election, before
it is too late. This he has done, repeatedly, demanding new elections first
in 2010, then in 2011 and now before the end of this year, whether or not
electoral reforms and a new constitution are in place by then, as required
under the power-sharing pact, drawn up in 2008 under the auspices of the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), a 15-member regional club,
following the MDC’s victory in the polls earlier that year. “The dance we
have had for the past four years is over!” Mr Mugabe cried last month,
declaring it was time to “put an end to this animal called the inclusive
Since the power-sharing government came in, the situation in Zimbabwe has
certainly improved. Rampant inflation, officially measured at 500 trillion
per cent in 2008, has been cut to under 5%. Schools and hospitals, long
closed for want of funds, are now operating more or less normally.
Once-empty shops are now stuffed with imported goods. The output from
factories, mines and farms, though still only a fraction of what it was just
over a decade ago, is rising. The economy, which shrank by more than half
between 2000 and 2009, has been expanding by more than 7% a year since then,
with growth forecast to top 9% this year.
Yet the main cause of such progress has not been good government, but
Zimbabwe’s abandonment of its worthless currency and adoption of the
American dollar, coupled with a massive increase in Western aid that came as
a reward for the power-sharing deal. The mixed government has brought more
stability and a drop in political violence . But the MDC has been outwitted
and humiliated. Few of the reforms agreed upon as part of the pact have been
implemented, rampant human-rights abuses continue, and many ministries
Under the 2008 deal, Mr Mugabe is supposed to consult his prime minister on
important decisions, including setting a date for elections. The dictatorial
president has never bothered with such niceties. A year ago his SADC
colleagues accused Mr Mugabe of obstruction, insisting that all reforms
including a new constitution be brought in—a process that might take two
years—before elections could be held. Mr Mugabe was apoplectic. Since then,
however, little has been heard from either the ineffectual regional group or
its “facilitator” on Zimbabwe, Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president.
Some say that Mr Zuma has been busy behind the scenes concocting a deal
between Mr Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru, Zimbabwe’s vice-president and Mr
Mnangagwa’s bitter rival. Under this, Zanu-PF moderates, led by Mrs Mujuru,
would join forces with the MDC to form a new, nicer coalition government,
leaving Mr Mugabe and his generals to retire quietly with promises of fat
pensions and non-prosecution. That could be an ideal outcome. But as is so
often the case in Zimbabwe, predators lie in wait.
Following last year’s split in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma hosts Part 1 of a debate between rival Presidents Lovemore Matombo and George Nkiwane. Both explain why the ZCTU split and what it would take to unite the two factions. They also answered questions from SW Radio Africa listeners.
Interview broadcast 28 March 2012
Lance Guma: Good evening Zimbabwe and thank you for joining me on Question Time, my name is Lance Guma. Following last year’s split of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions we have decided to host a discussion between the two rival factions of the ZCTU. Joining me tonight are rival presidents – Lovemore Matombo and George Nkiwane.
We asked SW Radio Africa listeners to send in their questions in advance using Face Book, Twitter, Skype, email and text messages and I’ll be posing some of these questions during the discussion. Let me start with Mr Nkiwane – how did the ZCTU find itself in this mess?
George Nkiwane: Ah you know it’s a long story but I think I need to be very brief as to how it all happened. We held our Congress in August last year which was disputed by some of our colleagues who are now siding with Mr Matombo and the bone of contention was that some of our unions, four in particular, were not verified according to them.
The verification exercise did not come out clearly, it had gaps that they thought should have been ratified before we went for that Congress. And when we went for that Congress they made an urgent chamber application to try and stop the Congress from proceeding but the High Court then saw that, decided that no, the matter was not urgent and then the Congress should proceed and we did hold that Congress which led to my election as the president of the ZCTU.
Guma: Okay let me quickly go to Mr Matombo – would you dispute that narration of events? Is that what happened?
Lovemore Matombo: Well he made it quite brief but I think it’s quite a long story which started around 2004 when I was dismissed from employment for having attended a conference of the Organisation of African Trade Unions in Khartoum in Sudan where some of my colleagues started to play around with some form of innuendos that I was not fit at the time to lead the ZCTU because my employers had dismissed me.
And during that process, fortunately what happened was that some of those undermining my position as ZCTU president caught up in the fiasco and we were grouped together and during that time it appeared we worked together up until the 2006 Conference and during the 2006 Conference, the same colleagues went behind my back, behind the back of the General Council to go and seek the nullification of my position to the Congress.
So what they did was they used the lawyers to sound an opinion, whose opinion they were going to use, that because Matombo is longer subscribing to a union because he’s dismissed, can he still be allowed to contest the position of president in 2006? And the lawyer in their wisdom clearly stated that Matombo had every right to stand as president because he was elected by Congress and on that part, my colleagues felt defeated.
As we went by, as time went by and as we approached this other Congress last year, they then started to craft what they termed as a constitution which then was supposed to limit my term and yet this constitution was supposed to be discussed in 2006 and the question of the limits in terms of the office bearers was never an issue at all.
So well, it went on like that up until this last time when in fact every, it should be understood that every organisation has a constitution and every constitution has got some norms and standards and what is required by the ZCTU constitution is that for every one thousand subscribing members, you need one delegate and as we prepared to go for Congress, three days before Congress when all these delegates were then announced, it was discovered that 52% of those people who went to attend the Congress were not legitimate delegates and that became the bone of contention.
It became the bone of contention because ZCTU has stood for democracy, ZCTU has stood for, to uphold the principles of democracy; we have said time and again that we shall never ever tolerate any electoral process, whether national or in civic organizations, we will not tolerate electoral fraud. So basically this is the whole process it’s about electoral fraud and nothing more, nothing less.
Guma: Okay before we get to questions that we’ve got from listeners, I’ll just ask Mr Nkiwane to respond to those allegations from Mr Matombo. What’s your take Mr Nkiwane?
Nkiwane: I did not want to dwell into history because he’s correct that in 2004 he was dismissed from his employment and we stood by him. The reason why we referred the matter to our lawyers when we went for the 2006 Congress was that we did want to be found wanting when it comes to his nomination because some of the delegates were questioning his locus standi as to whether he was able to lead the ZCTU when he was dismissed from his employment.
So we did seek of course the advice from the lawyers and for us it was a victory because the lawyers came up with an advice that suited our ideas because we wanted to support him and if he had not got our support at that particular Congress in 2006, he was not going to be elected.
It’s true in 2004 when he was dismissed, that is when we suggested and proposed to the General Council that we pay him a salary equivalent to what he was supposed to be getting from his employment and every year when they bargain I mean the industry that he was working for, whenever they bargain, we would match that salary, so that we did not want to lose him at that particular time because we thought we could army the system that had dismissed him from employment by allowing him to go.
So we supported him and said let’s pay him a salary so that he remains our president. Never at one time did we as a group or his subordinates then decided or wanted to work against him. We were supporting him through and through, that is why he was elected in 2006.
Guma: Okay, now Mr Matombo, we have a question from Guruve, this question comes from Edwin who says it is reported that Mr Matombo’s faction has the support of eight ZCTU affiliates out of 33, so his question is you do not seem to have the majority support there, so why do you not rally behind your colleagues?
Matombo: Ah well of course that has been the propaganda that has been produced by some of our colleagues but let me state quite clearly that it’s not about the number of unions, it is about the volume and that is what is critical. I’ll take an example of the railway union; the new union has got four, I mean the railway company has got four unions – for the artisans, for the locomotive drivers, for the general workers and so on and so forth.
And what this means is that in the union I belong, we could have one union for engineers, a union for technicians and a union for the post of managers and union for the general workers and in fact that is a colonial set up. What we said after independence was that we need one union in one industry so when you look into, if you give an example of railways, you can now see the type of unions you are talking about.
And some of the unions have got 300 members, some have got 400 members, 600 members and so on and so forth. So you don’t examine the number of unions but rather go for the volume, the number, the membership itself. So the membership that we have is even larger than this other union; it’s not about the number of unions in the centre but rather the number of members in that centre.
Guma: I have a question for you Mr Nkiwane and it’s based on allegations that have been made by Raymond Majongwe who is the Secretary General in Mr Matombo’s faction – now he says Mr Chibebe, the out-going Secretary General wanted to destabilize the union and he accused him of trying to be the godfather of trade unionism in Zimbabwe. And several questions from listeners also on this – why is it these problems came to a head when Mr Chibebe left? That’s a question for Mr Nkiwane.
Nkiwane: I don’t think this problem came about when Mr Chibebe had left. We have had problems and we’ve dealt with them. From 2001 we have had problems, 2006, after each and every Congress we have had problems but I think at that particular time then we managed to resolve the problems.
It is only this past Congress that we have had a problem that went out of hand and some people, of course to us, we term them individuals, decided after having noted that they will never, they were not going to be elected, they are not going to make it to be elected into any position, decided to pull out at the last minute because all these allegations that are being leveled against ZCTU right now by this faction, they should have been discussed by the General Council then which was chaired by Mr Matombo and we dealt with all the matters that occurred before the General Council then and it’s not true that these problems came about when Mr Chibebe had left the organisation.
Guma: Okay on a separate matter would you agree with that, just coming to you Mr Matombo, would you agree or disagree that problems came to a head when Mr Chibebe left? Your former colleague?
Matombo: No, no, no. No, no, no. In fact it’s because you are discussing and obviously each party wanted to score points like what Mr Nkiwane is saying that they are the ones who supported me in 2006 and so on and so forth – that’s a question of scoring points.
They had their candidate which they wanted to back and it was through the voice of the delegates at Congress who clearly stated that the moment Matombo is dismissed from the position of president because he was dismissed from employment, then the rest of the factor, the trade union factor would suffer the same consequences and that’s how we came to that point.
And to suggest that I was not going to win, had they not supported me, that is wrong, in fact that is very untrue. Mr Nkiwane is quite aware, that when they went to Congress with him, the so-called CWUZ Union (Commercial Workers Union of Zimbabwe), CWUZ Union got the highest delegates and don’t have even a single membership. They don’t have the membership. The CWUZ they are talking about does not have the membership, there’s no register there is literally nothing and yet they went to Congress with the highest number of delegates. What is that supposed to mean?
Guma: Isn’t the problem though that it is created by this whole situation and it’s a question that a lot of our listeners are directing at you Mr Matombo, being the incumbent at the time, the perception is that you are hanging onto power and you do not want to let go. How would you answer that?
Matombo: Precisely, in fact that was, I would want to believe and I did admit that my colleagues were quite clever enough because what they had to do was to change the constitution without the Congress and then use the two-term mantra because it could resonate and that if that is used obviously we can give a very bad face in front of Matombo. That they tried to do that was quite clear.
But those who are quite clear about what has been happening in our Union would know precisely that we were dealing with certain issues which some of us are afraid to talk about, even up to now if the truth be said, at some stage and we want to unveil as to what has been happening. I think certain faces will be even dirtier than Matombo’s face.
So really yes, people can say that but to me and my colleagues, they even know when I am stepping down. In fact when we went to Congress, they asked me to stand up until the next term and I said if the condition is about the next term and I said if the condition is about the next term, then I won’t stand. And then we agreed that I will be there for a time and I will see, after all, I can do certain things, other things, I’ve got certain things that I can do in my life so really all I am doing is for the benefit of the ZCTU and for the benefit of the working people of this country.
Guma: Okay we’ll give Mr Nkiwane a chance to respond before we get to the next, probably final question. Would you like to react to that Mr Nkiwane?
Nkiwane: Yes Lance my brother. I think what I’m talking about is not about scoring points, it’s about fact. The constitutional amendment that he is referring to, records are there for all to see, all those that are interested can come to the ZCTU offices, we’ll give them the records about the constitution’s amendment that was done in 1995 and then the Congress that was held in Masvingo in 2001 is the one that questioned the leadership that was there then as to why the constitutional amendments that were done in 1995 in Mutare were not incorporated in the constitution.
Those are the amendments which also included the two-term period for any presidium position. So when that Congress directed the new leadership that came into office then, that was in 2001 and the leadership was led by Mr Matombo and Mr Chibebe became the Secretary General, they were directed by that Congress to effect the constitutional amendments that were done in 1995 in Mutare.
And they were done and the 2006 Congress, amended that constitution and ratified those amendments and adopted the amendments. And it became no issue when we met as General Council as to when then was the effective date of those amendments.
We said as General Council, the constitution was for us and it was ours, we can waver that and look at the effective date and we agreed in the General Council that was chaired by Mr Matombo that the effective date of that amendment was 2006 and what I’m talking about baba is there for anyone who would want to verify the records and that is what I’m talking about. It’s not about scoring points, but it’s about facts as to what happened.
Guma: Okay there’s a question on issues of…
Matombo: Okay I think I just want to react to that aspect…
Matombo: …because we don’t want our listeners to miss some of these facts he’s trying to put across. We all have the 2006 resolutions, they are available and we have said if my colleague is prepared to discuss this issue, we put across to the journalists, everybody so that we start to discuss the issue, we are discussing it from the air, let’s be practical, we discuss that particular issue.
In fact on the 20th of July last year, Mr Moyo and Mr Chibebe and myself went to the then Secretary General of the ZCTU, Morgan Tsvangirai and we met him at his office and we asked him whether there was any debate of a two-term by the 1995 Conference. He laughed at us and said well if indeed there was such a thing, it could not be hidden from anybody.
That was supposed to be a public, it was supposed to be public knowledge really because ZCTU is a public organisation. And we went further to ask some of the delegates who attended the 1995 Conference and they said no such issue was discussed.
And really perhaps what might be required here is for people to come together and say yes this is what happened, where are the documents, where is the documentation, who has got the documentation, we all have the documents, the documents are available so that’s really not, it’s not a problem really.
Guma: But is there anything wrong in having a two-term limit? That seems to be pretty much the standard world over in politics, people generally view that as a good requirement to have. Would you have any objection to that Mr Matombo?
Matombo: Objection to?
Guma: A two-term limit?
Matombo: No I wouldn’t object to that definitely. In fact this is what we stated even at our latest Congress that was held on the 16th and 17th of December last year. We wouldn’t, in fact that’s the way to go. That’s the way. We know we have not had that so far in many unions around the world, I just want to correct you. In the union level that has not been an issue really but in the context of Zimbabwe I think that is the way to go. We need to practise what we preach, that’s very important to us, yes.
Guma: Well that brings us to the end of Part One of this programme where we are hosting a debate between the two rival presidents of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Mr Lovemore Matombo and Mr George Nkiwane. Join us next week for Part Two as we continue this debate between the two gentlemen.
To listen to the programme:
COURT WATCH 7/2012
[11th April 2012]
Code of Ethics for the Judiciary
The Launching Ceremony
The launching ceremony for the Code of Ethics was presided over by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and attended by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Hon Patrick Chinamasa as guest speaker, judges of the Supreme Court and High Court and presidents of the Labour and Administrative Courts, members of the Judicial Service Commission, magistrates, members of the diplomatic corps, and the heads of the Police Force and the Prison Service.
Chief Justice’s address Speaking as chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission, the Chief Justice outlined the enhanced mandate of the Commission following the coming into force of the Judicial Service Act on 10th June 2010 which he described as the “date of our full judicial independence”. From that date the Commission became the employer of all magistrates and court staff and assumed responsibility for maintaining the entire Judicial Service [judges, special court presidents, magistrates and supporting staff] taking over employer responsibilities from the Public Service Commission and administrative functions from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. In addition to seeing to the staffing and budgeting necessary for such a change the JSC has been working on producing the Code of Ethics provided for in the Judicial Service Act.
Minister of Justice’s address The Minister expressed satisfaction with both Code of Ethics and Strategic Plan. He reminded those present that the Code had taken an unduly long time to complete. He said he had first mooted the need for a Code in 2001 because as Minister he receives on a daily basis complaints about the shortcomings of the justice delivery system, ranging from inordinate delays and lost court records or disappearing documents, to corruption.
Acknowledgement of support by the Danish Embassy Both the Chief Justice and the Minister paid tribute to the Royal Danish Embassy and its charge de affaires for financial support to the Commission without seeking to influence or interfere with the operations of the Zimbabwe judiciary. The Embassy has also donated computers, generators and motor vehicles, meaning that now all 54 magisterial stations round the country have a library computer with internet facilities and access to statutes and case summaries.
About the Code of Ethics
The Code was developed by members of the Zimbabwean judiciary, modelled on the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct.
Note: The Bangalore Principles are an internationally accepted set of principles of judicial conduct developed by a representative group of Chief Justices and senior judges within the framework of the United Nations Global Programme Against Corruption. The objective was to address the problem manifested by evidence that, in many countries, across all the continents, people were losing confidence in their judicial systems because they were perceived as corrupt or otherwise partial. After adoption at a meeting of Chief Justices at The Hague in November 2002, the principles were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Commission in 2003.
Present legal status of the Code The Code will not have full legal force until it has been gazetted in the form of regulations made by the Judicial Service Commission and approved by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs in terms of sections 18 and 25 of the Judicial Service Act. Gazetting of the necessary statutory instrument is expected to take place soon. Meanwhile, the authentic text of the Code, as approved by the Minister, has been officially released by the Commission and posted on the Commission’s new website.
Scope of the Code Throughout the Code the phrase “judicial officers” is used but in fact this refers only to, and the Code applies only to, the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court and the Presidents of the Labour Court and the Administrative Court. The Code does not apply to magistrates or to the chiefs or other traditional leaders who preside over customary law courts – but it is intended that they, too, will have their Codes of Ethics in time.
Structure The Code has five Parts:
· Part I covers preliminary matters such as definitions and scope of application
· Part II spells out the values and standards that attach to judicial office
· Part III provides for enforcement procedure
· Part IV provides for an Ethics Advisory Committee
· Part V contains one brief section dealing with complaints about reserved judgments already more than 90 days overdue [see below].
Standards and values Part II obliges all “judicial officers” to uphold, maintain and promote the following values:
A. Independence This refers to the independence of the judiciary and the authority of the courts and says “judicial officers” must not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamour or fear of criticism.
B. Integrity This calls for every “judicial officer” to ensure that his or her conduct, in and outside court, is “above reproach in the view of reasonable, fair-minded and informed persons”, and not to allow “family, social, political, religious or other like relationships to influence is or her judicial conduct or judgment”.
C. Propriety This requires “judicial officers” to avoid improper behaviour, and the appearance of improper behaviour, in all their activities, whether in our outside court and to avoid any conduct that may bring the judiciary into disrepute. The following are dealt with in detail.
· Gifts Acceptance of “gifts, bequests, loans or favours” in relation to anything done or to be done or not done by the judicial officer in connection with the performance of judicial duties is prohibited. If a “judicial officer” becomes aware that a family member or associate has accepted a gift from a litigant in a case before him or her, the “judicial officer” must require the litigant to disclose that fact to the other party to the case.
· Out of court activities “Judicial officers” are allowed to write on legal matters, teach and give lectures on legal matters and accept honoraria for doing so, and to speak publicly on non-legal matters and participate in civil, cultural, religious education or charitable activities. But participation in outside activities must not detract from the dignity of the “judicial office” or interfere with judicial duties.
· Business dealings These must not reflect adversely on “judicial officers’” impartiality; interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties or exploit or give the appearance of exploiting their judicial position; and must not involve frequent dealings or relationships with legal practitioners or other persons likely to appear before them in court.
· Practising law is forbidden But free legal advice may be given to family members or associates as long as the “judicial officer’s” judicial position is not exploited.
D. Impartiality A “judicial officer” must so conduct himself or herself as to minimise the occasions on which it will be necessary for him or her to be disqualified from hearing cases, and must refrain from public comments liable to be construed as affecting the fairness of proceedings.
· Recusal is required where a “judicial officer” has personal knowledge of disputed facts in any proceedings, where he or she has previously served as a legal practitioner in a case, has a financial interest in the matter in dispute or that might be affected by the outcome of the case, or is personally biased or prejudiced against a party.
· Political activities Political activities, attendance at political meetings, office-holding and membership in political organisations, and soliciting funds for or making contributions to political organisations are prohibited.
E. Equality This requires “judicial officers” to avoid showing bias or prejudice based on “immaterial grounds” such as race, colour, gender, religion, national origin etc when carrying out judicial duties and to require the same standards from court officials and legal practitioners appearing in their courts.
F. Competence and diligence This requires “judicial officers” to be efficient, fair and reasonably prompt in the performance of their judicial duties, giving those duties precedence over all other activities. They must also maintain and enhance the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their duties, including keeping themselves informed about international law developments and international conventions and instruments establishing human rights norms. Where judgment is not given as soon as a hearing ends, they must use their “best efforts” to give judgment within 90 days and must in any case do so within 180 days. Where the 90-day limit cannot be met, they must inform their head of court, who will make arrangements to assist the “judicial officer” to give judgment within the 180-day limit. The Chief Justice is empowered to issue practice notes reducing these time-limits. Judgments already overdue before the advent of the Code must be given within the next 90 days.
G. Efficient and expeditious conduct of judicial business This requires “judicial officers” to maintain order and decorum in court, showing patience, dignity and courtesy, and to require the same from officials and legal practitioners. It also prohibits them from assigning work to themselves or permitting litigants to choose which judicial officer will deal with their cases. Their work in both court and chambers must be attended to timeously.
Enforcement procedure The enforcement procedure applies to all “judicial officers” except the Chief Justice; a complaint about the Chief Justice is a matter for the President to deal with under the Constitution. The Code does not specify who can complain about breaches of the Code or what procedure should be followed, but complaints received from members of the public by the Commission or the Minister will be directed, through the appropriate head of court, to the Chief Justice. If the Chief Justice thinks the complaint merits consideration, he will appoint a disciplinary committee of serving or retired judges to investigate and report to him. Where a complaint is upheld, the Chief Justice has the power to issue a reprimand, or a severe reprimand or a final reprimand. [Complaints meriting consideration of removal from office will not be dealt with under the Code, but under the disciplinary procedure laid down in the Constitution.]
Ethics Advisory Committee The Chief Justice will appoint an Ethics Advisory Committee to “render advisory opinions” to “judicial officers” about the propriety of contemplated judicial or non-judicial conduct. Its opinions will not be binding on a disciplinary committee dealing with a particular case, but may be taken into account in a “judicial officer’s” favour as evidence of good faith. The Committee will have 3 to 5 members, the majority to be judges and the remainder legally qualified persons nominated by the Commission.
Comment: No provision for declaration of assets: It is a pity that the judges did not give a lead to other holders of high public office by making compulsory periodical declaration of assets part of the Code of Ethics. That would increase the esteem in which the judiciary is held and make the question of disclosure of interest more transparent. It might also prompt Parliamentarians and other public officers to declare their assets thus enhancing public ethics, leading to more transparent governance and reducing corruption.
Documents available from firstname.lastname@example.org
Judicial Code of Ethics [pdf document]
Judicial Service Act [MS Word 97-2003 document]
Chief Justice’s Address [pdf document]
Minister’s Address [pdf document]
Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct 2002 [pdf document]
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