President Robert Mugabe back in government action this week following media
reports he was severely ill, analysts and opposition activists now worry for
Zimbabwe, which they say is further unraveling under his rule.
Mugabe - in power since the 1980s - is now in a rush to have a promised constitutional reform finished and new elections held as soon as possible.
Steve McDonald, the Africa director at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said he believes poor health is guiding the president's survival strategies.
"His health is flagging. He may be concerned about his longevity, his mortality and wants to unfold this very quickly," he said.
The chairman of the U.S. chapter of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change [MDC], Den Moyo, agreed.
"It clearly has got to do with his health as he knows that he still wants to run for the presidency, and that with his deteriorating health that might not be possible if the elections are not held this year," said Moyo.
Moyo fears the upcoming elections will be even worse than the last cycle in 2008, when they were marred by violence and rigging, even as the MDC ended up winning more lower-house parliamentary seats than Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.
"ZANU-PF now knows the power that MDC is commanding among the Zimbabwean voters and therefore they will go all out to ensure that they are not only going to do whatever it takes to rig the elections, but they are going to do whatever it takes to intimidate the voters through violence," said Moyo.
Todd Moss, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, said Mugabe is relying on a small group of military officials who, in his words, "squelch out" any challenge to their hold on political and economic power.
Moss worries about Zimbabwe's black empowerment ministry's recent announcement to give the government majority ownership of all foreign-owned mining companies.
"The opportunities for stealing from the country and handing out to cronies as part of ZANU-PF's patronage network, they have mostly been depleted now so they are going after the few remaining businesses that are out there, and really the mining companies are the last big prizes out there," said Moss.
The Wilson Center expert, McDonald, who said he was a big Mugabe admirer when he emerged as Zimbabwe’s leader, said what he views as a tragic turn of events continues.
"I never saw this coming. What began to happen toward the end of the 1980s, but particularly when the mid-90s rolled along and this last decade has just been horrific," said McDonald.
Many analysts blame Zimbabwe's economic decline on Mugabe's land reform policy, which confiscated and redistributed white-owned commercial farmland.
The 88-year-old president has defended his policies, as well as his ongoing rule, saying he refuses to bow to outside interference and agendas.
This week, Zimbabwe's information ministry blamed Western media for spreading "false rumors" about his health.
Under a regionally-brokered power-sharing deal between the ZANU-PF and the MDC, Zimbabwe needs to have a new constitution approved before new elections can be held.
13 April 2012
Blessing Zulu | Washington
Calls by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party for
elections this year continue to run into hurdles, with opposition parties -
backed by South Africa - uniting in their insistence for democratic reforms
The National Council of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai met on Thursday and reiterated that Mugabe
cannot unilaterally call the vote without consulting other parties in the
rickety government of national unity.
Smaller parties such as Zapu and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn have also joined ranks
with the MDC in calling for major reforms before any polls are held.
Regional powerhouse, South Africa - the Southern African Development
Community’s appointed mediator in Harare - has also called for a raft of
changes, including a clear election roadmap, a revised voter register and an
end to violence.
On its part, the Tsvangirai MDC said on Thursday that liberalization of the
media, security and electoral reforms are needed in the country to enable a
democratic election without violence, intimidation and voter fraud.
But the party expressed frustration at the slow pace with which SADC is
moving to appoint three officials to work with the Joint Monitoring and
Implementation Committee in policing the Global Political Agreement and
Party spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora said the holding of polls is subject to
the ironing out of outstanding issues, including the installation of a new
Some analysts have argued that South African President Jacob Zuma is
currently too pre-occupied with internal squabbles in his African National
Congress party such that the Zimbabwean crisis is no longer his priority.
But Mr. Zuma’s facilitator in Harare and international relations adviser,
Lindiwe Zulu, emphasized the need for fundamental reforms, telling VOA
reporter Blessing Zulu that Zimbabwe remains top on her boss’ agenda.
ZANU-PF officials have over the past accused Zulu of meddling in the
country's politics, for insisting on reforms and compromise in efforts to
navigate the troubled country towards a lasting solution.
And true to form, party spokesman Rugare Gumbo dismissed Zulu’s remarks on
Friday, saying that Zimbabwe is a sovereign state that should be left to
make its own decisions.
Political commentator and director of the Bulawayo-based civic group,
Habakkuk Trust, Dumisani Nkomo told VOA that Mr. Mugabe may not prevail
against the overwhelming opposition to a vote without reforms.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:19
Njabulo Ncube and Tinashe Madava, Staff Reporters
ZIMBABWE’S proposed new constitution threatens to wreck President Robert
Mugabe’s faction-riddled ZANU PF, which has thrived on tribal and regional
shenanigans to preserve the Unity Accord signed with the late vice-president
Joshua Nkomo’s PF ZAPU in 1987. While critics argue the Unity Accord, signed
to end bloodletting in the Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands provinces,
was a paper tiger, ZANU-PF has clung to the agreement in a desperate bid to
curtail the disaffection of the electorate in the two provinces where it has
significantly lost ground to its opponents.
Now, the unity deal faces an unyielding danger from the planned new
constitution, which is likely to reverse a number of concessions made
between ZANU-PF and PF ZAPU under a power-sharing agreement that saw the
latter’s members joining ZANU-PF and abandoning their cherished party brand.
It has emerged that unsettled members of the former revolutionary party,
particularly its hawkish elites, are now scrambling to establish a foothold
in the constitution-making process in order to determine its trajectory.
But sources indicated this was likely to be a difficult task given that the
other two parties in the inclusive government, formed under a so-called
Global Political Agreement, have an overbearing influence on the
Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC), which is spearheading
the constitution-making process.
In fact, the combined Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations enjoy
a numerical advantage in COPAC over ZANU-PF.
Specifically, the former liberation war party, which signed a unity pact
with the late Nkomo’s PF ZAPU about 25 years ago — bringing to an end
bloodletting political disturbances in Matabeleland and some parts of the
Midlands provinces — is worried about the likelihood of the new constitution
doing away with the two vice-presidents (VPs) rule, the presidential
appointment of service chiefs as well as bringing on board devolution of
Since the singing of the Unity Accord, one of the two VPs has always come
from the former PF ZAPU as is the current case with Vice-President John
Nkomo who stepped into the shoes of the late Joseph Msika.
The late VP Msika replaced the late Father Zimbabwe, Nkomo, who succumbed to
prostate cancer in July 2001, in accordance with the Unity Accord.
But if the draft constitution is adopted in its present form after the
referendum, it would bring to an end this arrangement which has ensured that
former ZAPU and ZIPRA cadres were accommodated in the ZANU-PF administration
for the past two and half decades.
There are also jitters in ZANU-PF over the clause on the appointment of
service chiefs under the proposed new constitution.
Under the proposed new supreme law of the land, the appointments of services
chiefs would no longer be done by the President, but by an appropriate
commission set up by Parliament.
The appointed service chiefs, under the draft, would serve a maximum of 10
years, paving the way for new appointees.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T formation accuses the present
service chiefs of being partisan, arguing that they have explicitly declared
their allegiance to ZANU-PF.
But ZANU-PF insiders have alleged that the appointment of services chiefs by
an independent body would weaken the security sector, hence, the party's
vehement opposition to the draft constitution, whose completion was expected
In recognition of the Unity Accord, President Mugabe usually plays a
balancing act by selecting service chiefs from both ZANLA and ZIPRA, the
former military wings of the two liberation parties.
There is concern that if the appointments were left to an independent
commission, war veterans, an integral component of ZANU-PF politics, were
likely to be sidelined, a move that might create problems for the party's
Devolution of power, which COPAC says has been partially completed as the
three parties agreed that the majority of the people want it, is also
unsettling the party.
President Mugabe has reportedly spoken out against this type of government
system, which sources claim would make it difficult for ZANU-PF to maintain
its hegemony in Zimbabwe's tribal and regional politics.
However, there is yet to be a structure of the devolved state of the
But sources maintained this week that these three issues had combined to
make ZANU-PF hardliners moot moving a motion to reject the new constitution
when it is brought before a referendum, possible in September this year.
ZANU-PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, on Wednesday told The Financial Gazette
that his party would declare a stalemate if the three issues are not dealt
with according to their wishes.
Gumbo admitted that his party position was aimed at preserving the 1987
Unity Accord signed with PF ZAPU.
"Yes, it is partly to preserve the Unity Accord but also, during the Kariba
Draft, these people (MDCs) agreed to these issues, now they are changing. We
can't have that," charged the ZANU-PF spokesperson.
He hinted that devolution of power would not see the light of the day and
that the posts of the two VPs must be maintained.
"We have said there is no way devolution will come into play. We have a
central government and it must remain that way. Our position on the
vice-presidents' posts is that we maintain the two VPs. Appointment of the
security chiefs is done by the President," said Gumbo.
He declared that if the ZANU-PF position is not taken into account, a
stalemate would have to be declared and elections called for under the
current Lancaster House Constitution as indicated by President Mugabe.
MDC-T spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora, said ZANU-PF was running scared, claiming
it was getting increasingly clear that the peoples' views were contrary to
what ZANU-PF expected in the draft, hence, the opposition to the two issues.
"The MDC is pleased to note that most of the issues that came out of the
public outreach are contained in the draft constitution after months of
misunderstandings," said Mwonzora.
He added that it was not surprising that the MDCs' "triumph" has riled
ZANU-PF to "the extent that the party feels betrayed by the members it
seconded to COPAC".
Political analyst, Charles Mangogera, said: "Obviously, if the draft settles
for one vice-president, that would present political headaches for ZANU-PF
in terms of dealing with the internal dynamics of the Unity Accord. This is
a perfect example of the pitfalls of fusing national institutions with party
In a sign ZANU-PF is determined to scuttle devolution in the new
constitution, a ZAPU official in Umguza was "arrested" by war veterans and
handed over to the police for distributing flyers calling for the rejection
of a constitution that does now include devolution.
COPAC is on record saying the issue of devolution of power came from the
people and, hence, it has been included in their draft.
Harare, April 14, 2012 -Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s formation of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) should urgently appoint the proposed three-member committee
to work with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC),
citing the slow pace of the implementation of the Global Political Agreement
At its Maputo Sadc meeting last year, regional leaders resolved that a
three-member committee drawn from the SADC Troika be seconded to Zimbabwe to
help JOMIC. But the appointment of the team has been stalled largely due
alleged Zanu-PF’s intransigence, nearly a year after the SADC
After the meeting of the MDC-T national council on Friday, the MDC said in a
statement, SADC should move with speed to appoint the three-member team to
assist JOMIC which presently is inundated with complains regarding the
resurgence of political violence in the country.
“The Party notes the slow pace of movement and urges SADC to urgently
appoint the three person committee from the SADC Organ Troika to work with
Jomic and also to ensure that dialogue on the roadmap is concluded,” reads
part of the MDC-T resolutions.
It further expressed its disappointment with the slow and the
non-implementation of the GPA, the post Maputo agreement and agreed portions
of the roadmap and the Review Document and urges the urgent creation of an
implementation and oversight mechanism, insidegovernment and within SADC.
Tsvangirai’s party, however, said it appreciated the role of all SADC
leaders in finding sustainable solutions to the Zimbabwe crisis particularly
President Zuma and his facilitation team for remaining engaged with the
crisis in Zimbabwe.
Written by Bridget Mananavire, Staff Writer
Saturday, 14 April 2012 12:18
HARARE - Zanu PF secretary for lands Ignatius Chombo says his party is ready
for a land audit, although it has previously shown reluctance to use funds
availed by the European Union (EU) to bankroll the programme.
Chombo yesterday said his party was willing to embark on a land audit but
was waiting for government to release funds.
“As soon as we get the money, the audit will begin,” Chombo said.
The planned land audit is supposed to address the issue of multiple farm
ownership by Zanu PF top officials who took over farms from white farmers
under the chaotic land reform spearheaded by war veterans and party foot
According to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), President Robert Mugabe and
his inner circle allocated themselves more than two farms each while the
populace was left to suffer without accommodation.
As part of the Global Political Agreement concessions, Zanu PF and the two
MDC formations agreed to conduct a land audit to solve the issue of multiple
But since the 2008 political settlement, Zanu PF has been dragging its feet
accusing the MDC of trying to use the land audit for witch-hunting.
Chombo took the opportunity to blame travel restrictions imposed by Europe
on Mugabe and his cronies over allegations of human rights abuses for the
poor performance of people resettled under the land reform programme.
The European Commission in Zimbabwe said the block was ready to fund an
“inclusive, transparent and comprehensive land audit” but said no one had
come forward to claim the $31 million it had offered.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the international community soured after the
EU accused Mugabe of human rights abuses, electoral theft and embarking on a
“ruthless land grab.”
However, Chombo denied that he and his colleagues had more than one farm
each saying the accusations are just a ploy by coalition partners to
discredit the land reform.
“No one has more than one farm. Previous audits have proved that.
“The allegations are a result of our opposition who feel they should oppose
everything,” he said.
Despite Chombo’s denial, the CFU claims that Mugabe and his wife Grace, now
own 14 farms, at least 16 000 hectares in size.
13 April 2012
Violet Gonda | Washington
Zimbabwe's former finance minister and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party leader,
Simba Makoni, has warned President Robert Mugabe that he’s in for a rude
awakening in the country's next elections.
The warning followed statements by President Mugabe repeating his long-held
view that his former protégé has no support base in the country. Makoni also
put Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC formation on notice.
Mr. Mugabe told a meeting of his ZANU-PF Central Committee recently that he
once asked Makoni if he had any following, and replied that “people will
support me because I’m Simba Makoni.”
But Makoni told VOA Mr. Mugabe was recalling a conversation he had with him
four years ago when he had no party and no way of measuring the support he
had in the country.
The opposition leader insists the situation is different today and that he
has become a force to reckon with.
“It just shows that President Mugabe lives in the past,” said Makoni, adding
that he is leading a young vibrant and growing party. Those dismissing him
can only do so at their own peril, he said.
The former Southern Africa Development Community executive secretary also
took a swipe at Mr. Tsvangirai, charging that he has lost touch since
joining the coalition government.
“He had a strong support base but it’s weakening. So all political
contestants at the next elections will have a rude awakening,” said Makoni.
“We are bringing values and a vision that no other political player is
offering in Zimbabwe at the moment.”
But political analyst, Rejoice Ngwenya differed with Makoni. He said the
former finance minister has failed to market his brand in the country.
“Simba Makoni’s organization has proven that it has no staying power because
he has been having problems with his structures and office bearers,” said
“I don’t even see the Mavambo brand anywhere. We only hear about Makoni
saying something but there is nothing on the ground, not even any
paraphernalia on that has Makoni. I think he is involved in self-delusion.”
Saturday, 14 April 2012 08:59
Police denied Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and members of the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign (SCZ) permission to commemorate the death of MDC-T
activist Gift Tandare who was shot dead by police in 2007.
Tandare was killed while Tsvangirai and other members of the civic society
were severely beaten up by anti-riot police for organising a prayer meeting
at Zimbabwe Grounds.
SCZ is a group of civic society groups that include Christian Alliance,
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions, Zinasu and MDC-T.
It had scheduled the memorial for the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield today.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora confirmed police had denied them
permissions, claiming they would be busy with Independence Day celebrations.
Police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau said they were treating SZC with
suspicion as they now believe the group had other motives.
“They applied to hold the commemoration on March 31 but they did not do
that,” he said.
“We did not deny them (permission) but they gave us a four day notice
instead of the required five days.
“These people applied to hold their rally on March 31 and they were granted
“After that they didn’t hold that commemoration and never notified the
police, then on April 10 they went with the letter dated March 31 saying
they will gather on the 14th of April giving the police a four-day notice.”
This is not the first time Tsvangirai and members of his party have been
barred from holding meetings or rallies.
Last year, Tsvangirai was denied permission to address people at Zimbabwe
Grounds and at one time Zanu PF youths said they had booked the stadium for
a football tournament.
MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa was recently barred from
addressing a gathering in Ruwa as police said they were booked for a match
between Dynamos and Motor Action at the National Sports Stadium.
Mbare MP Piniel Denga and Southerton MP Gift Chimanikire recently complained
that it was becoming increasingly difficult for the MDC-T to organise
meetings in the city. Newsday
Saturday, 14 April 2012 00:00
Takunda Maodza in Zvishavane
CABINET has resolved to declare five provinces hit by drought national
disaster areas, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said
The PM made the remarks at Maglas Stadium during commemorations to mark
World Health Day.
The commemorations are running under the theme: “Ageing and Health. Good
Health Adds Life to Years.”
Zimbabwe is facing a food deficit of almost one million tonnes as a result
of poor rains experienced this farming season.
“There are problems here in Zvishavane. The first one being food shortages,”
said PM Tsvangirai.
“As I was coming here, I noticed along the way that there are food
challenges. Government yesterday in Cabinet resolved to declare certain
provinces disaster areas.
“These are Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and
PM Tsvangirai said Government will ensure that no person starved.
“We want people to have food so that they do not die of hunger,” he said.
“We have food in the strategic grain reserves and what is left is for it to
be ferried to those areas (which experienced drought).”
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made
on Thursday said Zimbabwe will suffer food shortages as a result of drought.
“Forty five percent of maize that was planted this season is a write-off,”
said Minister Made.
He said the country had 600 000 tonnes of maize in stocks but these needed
to be complemented by imports.
The country consumes 2,2 million tonnes of maize annually.
PM Tsvangirai said the closure of Shabanie-Mashava Mines was a major concern
for Government and assured residents that efforts were underway to revive
the asbestos mines.
“We are at a mine, this mine of Zvishavane whose closure has caused
destitution to families that used to work here,” he said.
“I want to assure you that Government wants the mine to be reopened. This is
the only asbestos mine and we are also concerned with the welfare of
Government, through its mining arm the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation, took over the Shabanie-Mashava Mines in a bid to revive their
ZMDC has since started paying workers part of their outstanding salaries.
But Government efforts to revive operations at the asbestos mines are being
frustrated by businessman Mr Mutumwa Mawere who is challenging the takeover
in the courts.
Mr Mawere argues that the mines belong to him and blames their collapse on
PM Tsvangirai condemned the Government’s indigenisation and empowerment
programme, declaring that he will not support any policy he claimed was
“It would be remiss of me to leave this podium without addressing the sad
loss of jobs in this town,” he said.
“While Mimosa and other mines have accommodated some workers made redundant
by the closure of Shabanie-Mashava Mines, job creation is imperative in this
“My priority as your Prime Minister is job creation. Jobs, jobs, jobs must
be the watchword for any caring government, unfortunately policy discord has
resulted in shrinkage of job opportunities rather than their expansion.
“Any policy that destroys jobs and investment prospects will not have my
But any policy that creates jobs is good for the people of Zimbabwe.”
Saturday, 14 April 2012
Nomathemba Ndlovu, the MDC Matabeleland South Women’s Assembly chairperson, was yesterday arrested in Gwanda while distributing the Prime Minister’s newsletter in the town.
Ndlovu is being charged under the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
Reports from Gwanda say Ndlovu was distributing the newsletter and was summoned to Gwanda Police Station by one Assistant Inspector Machingura. She was immediately arrested upon her arrival at the station.
At the time of writing, Ndlovu’s lawyer was still trying to secure her release.
Police have intensified their persecution of MDC members in recent weeks. This week, police in Gweru arrested Abisha Nyanguwo, MDC Chief of Staff for frivolous charges bombing Zanu PF Gweru offices in December 2011. He appeared before a Gweru Magistrate and was given an outrageous $500 bail.
The harassment of MDC members is meant to cow them by a panicking Zanu PF ahead of the next elections.
The people’s struggle for real change: Let’s finish it.
MDC Information & Publicity Department
Harare, April 14, 2012 - While President Robert Mugabe has managed to fly to
Singapore and other Far East countries several times for medical checkups,
local health facilities continue to deteriorate.
Statistics from Zimbabwe's health officials reveal that about 100 children
are dying every day after succumbing to different diseases. Neo-natal
causes are and still remain the leading cause of death among children under
five years of age in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's health system which used to be the best in Africa has completely
collapsed over the years of misrule by President Mugabe, forcing the 88 year
old leader to frequently travel to Asia to seek medical treatment.
According to the 2010 Global Systematic Analysis of National Causes of Child
Mortality report: At least 100 children are dying every day in Zimbabwe
after succumbing to different diseases while neonatal diseases are the
leading causes of death in children under five years of age.
The report shockingly reveals that around 10,758 newborns die each year in
Zimbabwe, primarily due to three major causes: preterm delivery (37 per
cent),asphyxia (27 per cent) and infection (19 per cent).
Several international organisations have helped ease the crisis through
financial donations into the health sector either directly to the government
or indirectly via international health institutions for transparency
reasons. Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) is one such organisation with their
US$431 000 financial support for new born health care for Zimbabwe to
Speaking during a signing ceremony of the US$431,210 Dr Gibson Mhlanga the
principal director for Preventative Services in the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare bemoaned lack of basic equipment as the major cause of the
“There is a shortage of basic equipment and basic skills to ensure that we
do not lose any of our babies, partly due to brain drain but also because in
terms of numbers the workers that we have on the ground are still way below
our expectations,” said Mhlanga.
UNICEF Country Representative Dr Peter Salama concurred with Mhlanga saying
the deaths rates could be lowered.
“We are talking about things that are quite simple to prevent, quite simple
for even a basically trained health worker to do. We are talking about
warming the baby so these are simple things basic equipment required, basic
training required and we can work together to prevent the loose of life.”
In Zimbabwe, most of the delivery rooms and maternity wards at major and
government run health centres and district hospitals have limited capacity
to provide optimal newborn care immediately after birth.
The few delivery rooms or maternity wards that are currently practicing
essential newborn care are gravely limited by lack of the necessary supplies
and lack of well trained health workers.
The one year project to be implemented in 20 district hospitals in Zimbabwe
will ensure that every newborn baby has access to Essential Newborn Care and
neonatal basic life support immediately after birth.
“Absolute Return for kids is happy to collaborate with the Inclusive
Government and UNICEF to scale up efforts to save the lives of newborns in
Zimbabwe,” said Absolute Return for Kids managing director, Mr Chris Abani.
The Study of Maternal Mortality (2007) says nearly half of neonatal deaths
(that is occurring in the first 28 days of life) were caused by preterm (49,
1%), followed by intra partum asphyxia (20,3%), infection (18%) and multiple
President Mugabe is not alone on the continent among leaders who resort to
medical attention abroad; the late Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua spent
most of his last days abroad for medical reasons. Former Tanzanian
President , Benjamin Mkapa, after having been involved in an auto accident
in 2008 while, former Ghanaian President John Kufour flew abroad for a
thorough medical check-up.
Recently, the late Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika had to be flown to
South Africa after suffering a cardiac arrest. And the list is endless.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:15
Shame Makoshori, Senior Business Reporter
AGGRESSIVE power disconnections by cash-strapped power utility, ZESA
Holdings, has sparked intense bickering in government amid revelations
ZANU-PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
are at odds over the issue.
This week, Agriculture, Mechanis-ation and Irrigation Development Minister,
Joseph Made, a member of ZANU-PF lashed out at his MDC colleagues for
supporting the disconnection of power particularly to farmers.
A fuming Made said the arbitrary power cuts had “decimated” crops, a few
hours after Energy and Power Development Minister, Elton Mang-oma, an MDC-T
legislator, had declared that the debt-ridden electricity generator and
distributor would escalate power cuts.
The clashes highlighted sharp policy inconsistencies in the fractured
power-sharing administration formed in 2009, which has disagreed on almost
everything initially agreed in the Global Political Agreement, the founding
pact of the unity government.
Policy inconsistencies have become the biggest hurdles against foreign
direct investment into Zimbabwe, and the smooth flow of government business.
Last week, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had to reassure investors that
their enterprises would be safe after Empowerment Minister, Saviour
Kasukuwere, announced a forced takeover of foreign-controlled mines that had
failed to comply with a controversial law forcing them to sell 51 percent of
their shares to locals.
Kasukuwere had declared that profits accruing to the 51 percent expropriated
by government must be remitted into State coffers and threatened to
prosecute “defrauding” investors.
At a business conference in Harare, Made, who complained about high power
tariffs and a payment system unfavourable to farmers, said the extent of
power cuts had killed agriculture. Farming is among the four sectors
expected to spearhead the recovery of Zimbabwe’s fragile economy.
At least 700 000 hectares of maize has been written-off this season due to
“Agriculture is a real life science,” Made told the conference organised by
“If you switch off (electricity from) the plants and animals they will die.
Our farmers used to pay for electricity bills through a stop order system.
That is why there were marketing boards like the Dairy Marketing Board and
the Cotton Marketing Board where the stop orders were effected. The
agriculture industry used to pay electricity bills once or twice a year. You
can sustain a power bill of US$700 per hectare. So when you see the farmer
asking for an arm and a leg for his crops, or if they say we will not
produce don’t cry,” said the agriculture minister.
He said power tariffs had gone up by about 55 percent since 2009.
“I want you to show me the crops that clearly show 55 percent extra
earnings. The total write-off of maize is 700 000 hectares this year. The
key and critical sector in our case (agriculture) is electricity,” said the
Made spoke as Mangoma, who has been under tremendous pressure to settle part
of a US$76 million debt owed to Mozambican power giant, Hydro Cahora Bassa
(HCB) to enable the resumption of constant power supplies from that country,
had told the State media on Wednesday that he would intensify disconnections
to raise at least US$40 million urgently required by Maputo.
“Where will we get the money?” Mangoma asked. “We are not able to offset the
debt at once as the economy is struggling and we will continue mobilising
money through various forms which include disconnections,” he added.
Last month Mozambique temporarily halted power exports to Zimbabwe to force
the debt-ridden ZESA to settle part of the debt. Zimbabwe imports 35 percent
of its power requirements from three regional producers. These include
Mozambique’s HCB, the giant power plant that generates 2 075 megawatts of
ZESA has intensified its load shedding across Zimbabwe with industries and
domestic consumers, who owed the power company about US$550 million,
enduring extensive blackouts.
The troubled power company is undertaking a programme to add 600 Megawatts
and 300 Megawatts in new generation capacity at its Hwange and Kariba power
Written by Xolisani Ncube, Staff Writer
Saturday, 14 April 2012 12:10
HARARE - Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo claims the six Matobo
residents who are challenging his appointment of five Zanu PF activists as
special interest councillors are mere MDC activists masquerading as
Chombo, who has been firing MDC elected councillors, said it was impossible
for mere villagers to drag him to court and would only do so at the
instigation of educated MDC officials.
“I know villagers very well, you can tell that this is the MDC that is
looking for a new way just to take me to court,” said Chombo who did not
give any evidence to support his claims.
In their urgent High Court application, the six villagers argued the Zanu PF
special councillors did not have specialised skills which could be utilised
Bulawayo-based lawyer Job Sibanda is representing the villagers; Garikai
Dhliwayo, Henry Ncube, Themba Dube, Priscilla Sibanda, Morinah Sibanda and
Chombo is cited as the first respondent in his capacity as the appointing
authority of special interest councillors in all local authorities.
Using the controversial Urban Council Act currently under parliamentary
review, Chombo has handpicked people he wishes to be in council as special
This has resulted in him crossing swords with the MDC, a party that enjoys
control of almost all local authorities since its formation over a decade
In a press conference held at his offices at Makombe building yesterday, the
minister said he would defend his decision to appoint Never Khanye, Jane
Phuthi, Pilate Dube, Sithembile Ndlovu and Sanders Siziba to Matobo Rural
District Council in Matabeleland South Province.
“The Act simply says it is me who has the power to look for a person to be a
special interest councillors, I also determine what are the needs of each
and every council, I do it myself, I then choose councillors whom I think
will improve debate in this council. That is what I do in each and every
council countrywide,” said Chombo.
In their court application, the villagers claim that no value will be added
by the activist to council.
“I submit further that the fifth to ninth respondents (the appointed special
interest) add absolutely no value to the welfare of the fourth respondents
(council), do not represent any identifiable interest group and have been
rewarded for their political inclinations,” the villagers said.
Turning to the recent suspension of the Gwanda mayor, Chombo said Lionel De
Necker should get his house in order or risk being sacked.
Chombo suspended De Necker on allegations of defying his directive to hire a
Zanu PF activist as chamber secretary.
The smaller MDC faction say Chombo is abusing his powers but the minister
says his actions serve the interests of people and justice.
The country’s sole electricity firm, ZESA Holdings’ legendary incompetence
that has often resulted in deaths could come at a cost to the company, whose
negligence has largely been met with impunity.
by The Legal Monitor
The latest bungling by ZESA Holdings led to the death of 10-year-old
Takudzwa Nyandoro, who became a victim of power cables left in the open by
Nyandoro’s family has now begun taking measures to make ZESA pay, and with
the help of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is preparing a lawsuit
to force the firm to pay compensation.
After Takudzwa’s death, ZESA’s response was inhuman, offering the family a
measly $300 to meet funeral expenses.
ZLHR, a grouping of lawyers spread countrywide dedicated to promoting and
fostering a culture of human rights, says it is taking the matter seriously
given ZESA’s history.
Several people have lost their lives, while others have seen property
painstakingly bought from life savings reduced to ashes because of the power
But it is the death of Takudzwa, a grade four pupil at the police Tomlinson
Depot Primary School that has touched nerves, with human rights
organisations and ordinary people accusing ZESA of taking human life for
Takudzwa, of Harare’s Eastlea suburb, was severely burnt on the 29th of
March 2012 after falling into a ditch with naked ZESA power cables. He later
died at Parirenyatwa Hospital the next day, due to the extent of the
injuries caused in the electrocution.
“This case brings into sharp focus the dangerous levels of negligence
prevailing at ZESA which have resulted in the deaths and injuries to
numerous Zimbabweans,” said Belinda Chinowawa, a ZLHR lawyer handling the
Lawyers and the family are still working on the quantum of the damages, and
stress that such action is necessary as a deterrent against future impunity
“It is shocking that such a young life was lost because a company known for
reaping off customers acted so negligently by failing to secure the live
cables. For three months the cables were in the open and ZESA only saw it
fit to rectify the problem after Takudzwa’s death. We shudder to think about
the potential of many other cables lying naked and still posing grave danger
to people in other parts of the country,” said Chinowawa.
“It is time organisations such as ZLHR and ordinary citizens take the fight
to ZESA and force the company to do its job,” she said.
According to the family, the cables were left unsecured by ZESA workers who
were carrying out maintenance work three months ago at the corner of Samora
Machel Avenue and Leitrim Crescent in Eastlea, and despite persistent calls
to ZESA to cover them, the cables remained exposed until the day after the
The deceased’s mother, Ms Constance Sinachinge has expressed anger and deep
sorrow at the passing away of her son, in what could have been an avoidable
“I don’t think I will ever forgive Zesa. I have lost Takudzwa. It is a very
painful loss and right now my son could have been at school,” she told
reporters last week.
“No official came to the burial to offer a public apology. They came today
(yesterday) with $300 which they said was for food,” she said. Chinowawa
said the family had stressed to ZLHR that justice must be done.
“As such the family has retained the services of ZLHR in order to assist the
filing of a delictual claim against ZESA, and it is our hope that punitive
damages will be awarded against the power utility so that such acts are not
repeated in future,” said Chinowawa.
A resident in the area told The Legal Monitor in the aftermath of Takudzwa’s
death that people in the neighbourhood had told ZESA about the danger posed
by the naked cables. Still ZESA chose to ignore until death struck.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has taken its community awareness
programme to Umguza, in Matabeleland North province.
by The Legal Monitor
A recent situational human rights training workshop convened by ZLHR
attracted 83 villagers eager to know more about their rights.
Mthombothemba Primary School in Umguza’s Ward 1 was the venue of the one-day
human rights workshop, conducted as part of ZLHR’s campaign to empower
marginalised communities in the country through imparting human rights
Through the workshop, ZLHR created a platform for the community to engage in
human rights dialogue and interrogate State and non State actors’ actions
where violations would have been committed.
The workshop exposed the legal instruments available for recourse to human
rights defenders, where their constitutionally guaranteed human rights have
been violated and the community strategies which they can exploit to curtail
The workshop also presented the participants with an opportunity to hear and
appreciate ZLHR’s interventions since the organisation was formed 16 years
ago, with emphasis on ZLHR’s mandate to foster a culture of human rights in
Zimbabwe, the region and the rest of the continent.
Addressing the gathering, Prisca Dube of ZLHR talked about how access to
national identity cards such as children’s birth certificates and national
identification cards has become a perennial problem in Matabeleland North
“Failure to access identity cards limits a person’s access to education,
curtails his or her freedoms as a citizen and limited participation in
national processes,” Dube said.
Speaking after the workshop, Dube said participants “amassed enhanced
awareness of human rights and the role of communities in the promotion and
protection of human rights. The training also empowered participants with
increased appreciation of the legal remedies available to redress violations
so as to negate the culture of impunity”.
One of Zimbabwe’s most fearless women, Jenni Williams (pictured) continues
to bag international recognition, even though her human rights work at home
has often invited violent reaction from the police.
by The Legal Monitor
Williams, leader of pro-poor human rights group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA), is this year’s recipient of the Ginetta Sagan Amnesty International
The award, which adds to Williams’ already impressive collection, comes at a
time when the fiery human rights activist is fighting criminal charges in
“WOZA is proud to receive this award along with Jenni. The legacy of Ginetta
Sagan is one familiar to the activists of WOZA. The award comes at a time of
great trials and tribulations for Jenni and WOZA therefore Ginetta lives on
to inspire WOZA members as they commemorate turning 10,” said WOZA in a
statement of the award Williams received last week.
With more than 2. 8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in over 150
countries, Amnesty International, a Nobel Peace Prize winning grassroots
organisation is one of world’s most influential groups.
Williams travelled with her WOZA co-leader and founder Magodonga Mahlangu to
receive the award. She adds the Ginetta Sagan Amnesty International USA
award to WOZA’s already rich cabinet, which has the US Secretary of State
International Woman of Courage (2008), Amnesty Germany Human Rights Award
(2008), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award(2009) and the French National
Order of Merit.
In its citation, Amnesty International USA said it honoured Williams for
“inspiring Zimbabweans to stand up for freedom and basic rights”. Over the
past decade, Williams and WOZA have held peaceful marches on issues ranging
from poor electricity supplies and plummeting standards in the education
sector to State sponsored violence and selective application of the law.
“WOZA has inspired tens of thousands of women and men to stand up for their
rights to free speech and assembly and the fulfillment of basic needs like
food and education,” read the Amnesty International statement.
The 49-year-old Williams described the award as “wonderful and timely news”.
“It reached me on another rough day fighting fabricated kidnap and theft
charges. When I first heard the story of Ginetta, I was filled with such
admiration for the work she did and it inspired me to keep going,” she said.
Back home, arrests, assaults and detention by police are part of what
Williams and WOZA members have come to constantlyexpect. But that has not
deterred them from standing up for the poor, who are suffering erratic
service delivery and selective application of the law, a feat that moved
Amnesty International USA to honour Williams.
“She has been beaten, imprisoned without food or medical supplies and
threatened with execution. Williams’ September 2011 arrest – her 39th--
resulted in charges of kidnapping and theft being preferred against her and
WOZA program coordinator Magodonga Mahlangu.
As of February 2012, they were still fighting the charges in a Zimbabwe
court,” reads the Amnesty International USA citation. The Amnesty
International Award is named after Ginetta Sagan, a resistance fighter who
was arrested and tortured during World War II. Sagan was an early supporter
of Amnesty International and a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She died in 2000 at the age of 75.
April 14, 2012, 1:41 am
In the absence of real news, reporters the world over have been known to
create their own stories. This is particularly true in the case of Zimbabwe
where there’s very little hard news as the two sides settle ‘comfortably’
into the third year of the GNU. Zimbabweans in the diaspora have become
accustomed to read stories from home with a very large pinch of salt but
this week the pinch turned into a bucket of the stuff!
It started with the death of Malawi’s President Mutharika and the dispute
over who should succeed him. Much to Malawi’s credit the issue was settled
in accordance with the Malawian constitution and there was a peaceful
handover of power. The Vice President, Joyce Banda succeeded to the office
of President, thus becoming the first African female head of state. Perhaps
it was this talk of death and succession in a country so close to Zimbabwe
that set the rumour mongers’ tongues wagging afresh and there was much
speculative comment about Mugabe’s failure to return from Singapore in time
for a politburo meeting. One of the more ‘fanciful’ newspaper accounts
claimed that President Mugabe was ‘battling for his life’ in Singapore.
Apparently adding credence to that account was the postponement of a cabinet
meeting from Tuesday to Thursday. Zanu PF of course denied that Mugabe was
on his deathbed. Jonathan Moyo, with his usual flair for the language of the
gutter described all the rumours as ‘hogwash’ but the rumours have
persisted. Of course, it’s not the first time an African president has died
and his compatriots have been kept in ignorance of the news; Joseph Kabila’s
name springs to mind. At 86 years of age it’s natural that death is not far
away but it is perfectly possible that rumours of Mugabe’s illness and
near-death have been greatly exaggerated. His mother lived to 101 years
after all; longevity is in his genes. Press reports speak of his family
flying to his bedside in Singapore and amidst all this avalanche of rumours
it is difficult to know what to believe. Personally, I’m a natural pessimist
and it will be no surprise to me to see the Old Man alive and kicking when
he returns all ‘rejuvenated’ from Singapore. The rumour mongers will have to
eat their words when they see – and hear - him once again doing the honours
at Zimbabwe’s Independence celebrations next week.
Even the return from rumours of near-death has not silenced the speculation
about Mugabe’s successor. The Telegraph reported last Sunday that Mugabe had
struck a secret deal with Emmerson Mnangagwa that he would take over the
reigns of power should Mugabe leave the scene. This, despite the fact that
the present constitution clearly states that the Vice President, Joice
Mujuru, succeeds in the event of the Presidents death or incapacity. By
early Thursday Mugabe had been out of the country for over ten days and the
general public was still in the dark as to the reason. A good friend of
mine, a Zimbabwean and an opposition supporter, argues that even Mugabe’s
brand of stability is better than the bloody struggle for power that will
inevitably follow his departure and she may be right. Given the violent and
militant nature of some of the presidential contenders, is it too much to
hope that they will quietly accept the constitutional requirement that the
VP takes over? Malawi has set an example of how power in Africa can be
peacefully transferred but will Zimbabwe follow that example? If that
happens and Joice Mujuru becomes president, Zimbabwe would have the second
female President in Africa. A peaceful handover of power would do much to
restore the world’s belief in Zimbabwe’s democratic credentials.
And then, on Thursday came the news that the rumour –mongers had once again
got it all wrong! Mugabe arrived back in Zimbabwe, looking – depending on
the news-source – ‘frail and needing a helping hand’ or ‘fit as a fiddle’.
He is said to have immediately called a cabinet meeting. So, it’s back to
business as usual and all the would-be presidents have slunk back into their
lairs to prepare for the next round of rumour-mongering. Keep the salt
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH
April 14, 2012, 8:57 am
Dear Family and Friends,
When there was a loud roaring noise and then a big explosion late one
afternoon this week, most of the neighbourhood ran outside to see what had
happened. It was one of those rare occasions when the electricity was on
during the day but that didn’t deter people’s curiosity. It’s school
holidays at the moment so there was soon a good crowd of people standing
around on the road. From the left a man came running out of the bush,
doubled over and with his hands over his head. To the right we could see a
man perched high up a tree with an axe cutting branches off a big old Musasa
tree. Almost as one, all the spectators on the road took a few steps back
when the frightening noise started again. There was another explosive crack
and we watched in horror as a burning fireball ran up and down the overhead
electricity cables. White acrid smoke drifted down amongst the spectators
and we stood in shocked silence for a moment while we worked out what was
happening above our heads.
The two men, one who had run out of the bush and the other who had been up
the tree, were wearing blue overalls with the words ZESA printed on their
backs. They were electricity company workers and had been cutting branches
that were too close to the overhead cables. Inexplicably they had not
switched the electricity supply off beforehand. When a branch fell it hit,
bounced and then got tangled in the overhead cables causing a massive
explosion and burning fireball. All eyes turned to the two electricity
workers. Like parents interrogating errant children the first question was:
“Are you OK” and the second was “why on earth didn’t you switch the mains
off first?” They didn’t answer and as the overhead cables dipped and
bounced and the fireball sizzled up and down the line, the two workers
walked off up the road. Unbelievably they didn’t have any support team,
vehicle, ladders or even a radio to alert their colleagues. “What about
these damaged cables?” someone called out to the retreating men. “Later”
came the reply, thrown over a shoulder, the single word hanging in the
smoky, stunned neighbourhood. It seemed miraculous that no one had been
hurt, electrocuted or killed and with damaged, slack cables sparking and
smoking overhead, people started pulling out cell phones and calling the
No one came from the electricity company that day or the next. The next two
nights were like sleeping in a night club . Every gust of wind caused the
overhead cables to touch and then followed a buzz, hum and a roar followed
by a crack, bang and sizzling fireball. Countless phone calls followed
until, two days later, the electricity company finally came to re-tension
Our neighbourhood fireball had at least provided a bit of a distraction
from the massive rumour that engulfed Zimbabwe this Easter. For days
everyone’s nerves had been on edge and it became impossible not to get
caught up in the frenzied whispers about the health of President Mugabe. The
88 year old President was either unwell, seriously unwell or fighting for
his life in a hospital in Singapore depending on which story you listened
to. It all came to a shuddering halt when Mr and Mrs Mugabe finally emerged
from an unmarked aircraft and showed no obvious signs that anything was
wrong. Like the fireball on the overhead cable, that rumour fizzled out in
a puff of smoke and Zimbabweans were severely castigated by Zanu PF’s
Webster Shamu who said we were: ”pandering to the agenda of imperialists.”
Like naughty children Zimbabwe went quiet again, until next time, thanks for
reading, love Cathy