Apr 21, 2011 3:05 PM | By Sapa-AP
The pilots reported for duty after reaching "an amicable agreement" with Air
Zimbabwe managers and the transport ministry, chief executive Innocent
Mavhunga said. He refused to give details of the deal.
The airline's 49 pilots were demanding $4 million in unpaid salaries and
allowances. They grounded the airline March 22 in the second strike in the
past six months.
Chartered carriers were hired to fly domestic and regional routes. Long haul
flights to London and Asia were abandoned.
Striking pilots complained to a panel of lawmakers last week that poor
salaries made them unable to meet their family and financial commitments and
that their financial worries led to stresses that impaired their abilities
at the controls, putting passenger safety at risk.
Senior captains at the airline earn just $2,600 a month, well below salaries
of their regional counterparts.
The airline also failed to pay most crew allowances over the past two years
that include school fees for their children and other benefits.
Pilots called on the airline to replace its aging fleet that could become a
safety risk and accused executives of not honoring their contracts and
heading up "dishonest and poor management" of all the airline's operations.
The last strike in September cost the airline an $3.5 million in lost
Striking pilots have twice been called up for what the airline described as
"national duty" to fly President Robert Mugabe, 87, to Singapore where he
received medical treatment.
by Staff Reporter
THE Attorney General is set to drop treason charges against former Highfield
MP Munyaradzi Gwisai and five others, but they could still face prosecution
for the lesser crime of holding an illegal gathering.
At a routine remand hearing on Wednesday, Edmore Nyazamba of the AG’s office
indicated the five men and a woman would stand trial before a regional
magistrate on July 18.
But only the High Court can try an individual for treason, a clear
indication, said legal observers, that prosecutors were climbing down from
the heavy charge of treason which carries the death penalty.
Gwisai was originally arrested and charged with 45 others after they
attended a lecture in Harare on February 10, organised by the International
Socialist Organisation (ISO), at which prosecutors say they watched videos
of uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
Prosecutors accused the 34 men and 11 women of “attempting to circumvent a
sitting government” through unconstitutional means, namely by engaging in
Egyptian-style illegal street protests.
But a magistrate dropped charges against 39 of the group, while indicting
Gwisai, Hopewell Gumbo, Eddison Chakuma, Antonater Choto, Tatenda
Mombeyarara and Welcome Zimuto to stand trial for treason.
The magistrate found that there was a prima facie case that the six had
uttered “treasonous statements”, but said the group of 39 had committed no
crime by simply “listening to treasonous utterances”.
By Alex Bell
21 April 2011
ZANU PF has continued its efforts to make amends for outbursts against
leaders in the region, with Joice Mujuru reportedly being dispatched to
apologise to South African President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma in particular has faced the brunt of ZANU PF’s anger, following the
surprisingly stern rebuke by the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) last month. During a meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence
and Security in Zambia, Zuma and other leaders cornered Mugabe over his
refusal to fully implement the coalition agreement that kept him in power.
The grouping later issued a statement demanding an immediate end to
violence, intimidation, hate speech and harassment, and pledged to develop a
roadmap towards credible elections.
It’s widely understood that it was a scathing report by Zuma on the state of
Zimbabwe’s political crisis that spurred SADC to change its tone towards the
situation. The report, which was handed to the SADC Troika as well as the
principals in the unity government, has not officially been made public.
But according to South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, which saw the
document, Zuma had harsh warnings about the political stalemate.
Zuma reportedly admonished all three parties in the coalition government for
not implementing the Global Political Agreement (GPA). He also warned that
public revolts and “unprecedented upheavals,” seen in North Africa recently,
would happen in Zimbabwe if there weren’t major reforms. It was on the back
of this warning that SADC then took a hard line with the unity government,
leaving ZANU PF noticeably angry.
A furious Mugabe launched a scathing attack after the summit, accusing SADC
of trying to interfere in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. He claimed Zuma was
just a facilitator to the dialogue and "cannot prescribe anything,” while
saying that SADC has no business ‘meddling’ in Zimbabwe’s affairs.
The state owned Sunday Mail newspaper then took its cue from Mugabe and
published an editorial branding Zuma 'erratic' and 'disaster-prone'. They
described him as a "liability, not only to South Africa, but also to the
rest of the continent". An opinion piece by ZANU PF spin doctor, Jonathan
Moyo, was also published in the same paper, saying: “Zuma is now tainted
beyond recovery by the Libyan situation”, after his country voted on the UN
Security Council in favour of imposing a no-fly zone.
ZANU PF has since backtracked, apparently worried about being isolated in
the region. Moyo was summoned by Mugabe’s deputy Joice Mujuru and sharply
reprimanded for his opinion piece that blasted Zuma. Mugabe's spokesman,
George Charamba, was also tasked with making amends, taking out a full page
supplement in the state owned Herald newspaper, claiming the views of the
Sunday Mail editorial did not reflect the views of the government.
Mujuru has since reportedly been deployed to apologise to Zuma on her party’s
behalf, and it’s understood that she traveled to South Africa to do so. ZANU
PF’s spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, has however said he knows nothing of such an
apology. Mugabe meanwhile has also been back-pedaling from his attacks on
SADC. He told thousands of people during Independence Day celebrations on
Monday, that he appreciates SADC’s role in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis,
and that he remains ‘committed’ to the unity government.
The apparent pandering to SADC and Zuma has coincided with more talks by the
party negotiators in the unity government who, together with facilitators
from South Africa and SADC, are trying to form a roadmap towards fresh
elections. That draft roadmap is set to be delivered to SADC leaders at
their next Heads of State Summit, scheduled for May.
ZANU PF has been pushing for an election to take place this year, but South
Africa has now made it clear it will not endorse any election plan that is
drafted unilaterally by Mugabe’s party. A source within the South African
Presidency has reportedly said that Zuma will not give his blessing as the
regional mediator in Zimbabwe, to any poll that is not agreed to by the
entire unity government.
According to the Daily News, the source said; “Zimbabwe’s inclusive
government is a creation of the region and South Africa played a key role in
the crafting of that GPA, culminating in Pretoria being asked by the region
to be the chief facilitator of the conversations that are still taking place
in Harare. To that extent, South Africa would never endorse an election that
is not an outcome of negotiations within the GPA framework.”
There has been a very cautious welcome to SADC and Zuma’s apparent change
from their usual policy of quiet diplomacy towards the Zimbabwe situation.
But observers have pointed out that the region is still reluctant to take
real action, after not singling out ZANU PF as the primary reason for the
crisis in Zimbabwe.
Athol Trollip, from South Africa’s main political opposition, the Democratic
Alliance (DA), told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that SADC’s position is
still not good enough. Trollip has been calling for a tough stance on
Zimbabwe since former President Thabo Mbeki was the regional mediator. He
said Zuma, Mbeki’s successor, has made no difference to the situation in
“The status quo remains. There is an escalation of violence, Mugabe
continues to ignore the GPA. What admonishments there have been from SADC
and from Zuma have been entirely limp wristed,” Trollip said.
By Tichaona Sibanda
21 April 2011
The MDC-T is seeking to make changes to its constitution, ahead of the next
election in Zimbabwe.
Informed sources told SW Radio Africa on Thursday there is general consensus
within the top leadership that the party needed ‘serious’ revamping.
A legal committee in the party has been working on the proposals which will
be tabled before a national council meeting, before the Bulawayo congress.
The congress will be held from 29th to 30th April.
‘The MDC is teetering on the brink of winning an election through the ballot
box and has thus decided to have a full time director of elections who will
be a member of the standing committee. There will also be an additional
seven portfolio secretaries who will shadow ministries that are not directly
under the MDC in the inclusive government. These positions are for
technocrats who will be the engine room of the party,’ the source said.
A new position of deputy party spokesperson is to be created and the office
bearer, to be elected at the congress, will also sit in the expanded
standing committee. The standing committee is the highest decision making
body of the party.
Additionally, anyone elected into office, from the standing committee right
down to district executives, will only be allowed to serve two five year
The legal team has floated a proposal to keep intact a clause allowing the
party President to seek re-election at every congress. A senior MDC insider
told us this clause was introduced at the time of writing a new
constitution, just after the split MDC split in two.
‘People were emotional and looked at personalities rather than principles.
It was then agreed under that environment, that to put limited terms would
be to victimize the already victimized Tsvangirai. But I remember him
personally saying be mindful of creating a monster after people had actually
suggested that he be made life president.
‘The idea for now is to let Tsvangirai challenge Robert Mugabe in a
presidential election and make changes once he’s in office because he’ll
only be allowed to serve two five year terms as Head of State,’ our source
Political analyst Mutsa Murenje told us another school of thought was that
deputy party leader Thokozani Khupe and Secretary General Tendai Biti needed
more grooming. This would enable them and others to get to Tsvangirai’s
level of national leadership, before the party thinks of making changes to
With an amended constitution in place the MDC is also expected to overhaul
the way it makes policy, with reforms expected to be announced at the end of
the congress in the hope to reverse a steady fall in membership.
Following ZANU PF’s terror campaign in 2008, that saw the army and police
implement a strategy of killing, torturing and creating an atmosphere of
fear, many MDC supporters went underground. Many Zimbabweans are still
scared to be openly associated with the MDC for fear of reprisals from war
vets and ZANU PF militia.
Some in the party want to give district and provincial structures greater
influence over how policy is drafted and put them at the forefront of an
aggressive recruitment drive to target community groups, young voters, and
It is believed these new positions will help bring in several young and new
faces into active roles in the party. This comes as the MDC is set to roll
out a new campaign to present a compelling, fresh vision for Zimbabwe and a
renewal of the party’s purpose.
Murenje said many Zimbabweans believe ZANU PF is vulnerable and lacking in
new ideas and credibility.
‘It is for this reason that the MDC has decided to radically overhaul its
political policies, its own image, and arguably its political philosophy in
order to win over the support of Zimbabweans to beat ZANU PF in an election,’
SADC and South African sources involved said they had to read President
Robert Mugabe’s former ruling ZANU-PF party the riot act after it continued
to stall on reforms required to hold new elections
Blessing Zulu | Washington 20 April 2011
Negotiators for the three political parties in Zimbabwe's national unity
government are close to completing a long-mooted road map to the next
elections in the country amid pressure from the Southern African Development
Community to finish the job.
SADC and South African sources involved said they had to read President
Robert Mugabe’s former ruling ZANU-PF party the riot act after it continued
to stall on reforms.
ZANU-PF hawks say just three tasks must be completed before new elections
can be held: the completion of a draft constitution, a national referendum
on that document and reform of the electoral process as agreed by unity
government party negotiators.
Sources close to Wednesday's talks said issues on the agenda include
guarantees of personal security for all Zimbabweans, an end to violence,
creation of an accurate voters roll, redistricting along transparent and
impartial lines and participation of SADC monitors from six months before
elections to six months after the ballot, among others.
Particularly problematic is proposed reform of the national security
establishment to prevent further abuses by the military, security agencies
and youth militia. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, mediator for SADC
in Harare, will present the road map to regional leaders in Namibia on May
20 at an extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
ZANU-PF sources say the party is worried SADC might isolate it
Furious at an unexpected rebuke at a SADC mini-summit early this month in
Livingstone, Zambia, President Mugabe launched a sharp attack, accusing the
regional body of trying to interfere in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. He
contended that Mr. Zuma was just a facilitator to the dialog in Harare and
"cannot prescribe anything.”
Such sentiments were echoed in in a full-page opinion piece by ZANU-PF
Member of Parliament Jonathan Moyo, who suggested that Mr. Zuma wanted to
use the road map to overthrow Mr. Mugabe in the same way the South African
leader voted for last month’s United Nations Security Council resolution
imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.
ZANU-PF has now dispatched Vice President Joice Mujuru Pretoria to apologize
to Mr. Zuma over attacks on him by party hardliners, sources said.
Even Mr. Mugabe has been back-pedaling from his attacks on SADC. Addressing
thousands of people in a Harare stadium during the Independence Day
celebrations on Monday, the president said he appreciates SADC’s role in
resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.
But ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he knew nothing of an apology to
Crisis in Zimbabwe Regional coordinator Dewa Mavhinga said a great deal
remains to be done before elections can be held in Zimbabwe.
Elsewhere, prospects of elections this year as demanded by Mr. Mugabe and
ZANU-PF looked more remote following indications by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission that it cannot afford to revise the voter roll
Blessing Zulu & Ntungamili Nkomo 21 April 2011
Negotiators for the three parties in Zimbabwe's troubled national unity
government failed this week to agree on whether and how to overhaul the
national security apparatus as a critical component of the road map to the
next elections they are drawing up.
Sources close to the discussions said South African President Jacob Zuma is
expected to step in soon to break the deadlock over how to ensure the army,
police and intelligence services do not interfere in the elections as they
have often been accused of doing.
The sources said both formations of the former opposition Movement for
Democratic Change said the chiefs of the military branches and the police to
publicly declare that they will respect the constitution and election
ZANU-PF negotiators responded that this would only drag security officials
into politics - though several top military officers and Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri have for much of the past decade been publicly declaring
that they would not recognize Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as president
if he were to be elected.
In 2000, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, now deceased, vowed that the country's
security organizations would only support political leaders who "pursue
Zimbabwean values, traditions [and] beliefs for which thousands of lives
were lost in pursuit of Zimbabwe's hard-won independence, sovereignty,
territorial integrity and national interest."
He continued: "We will, therefore, not accept, let alone support or salute
anyone with a different agenda that threatens (the) very existence of our
sovereignty, our country and our people." Zvinavashe made those comments on
national television flanked by Air Marshal Perence Shiri and Prison Chief
Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa made similar remarks this year.
The two MDC formations also wanted the Public Order and Security Act to be
amended along with legislation governing the Central Intelligence
But ZANU-PF would not discuss this or a proposal to remove army officers
allegedly deployed in all provinces to promote the re-election of President
But the unity parties noted progress on electoral reforms and the
constitution. The three unity government principals have been given the
current draft of the road map, which has also gone to President Zuma as
mediator in Harare for the Southern African Development Community, which is
pressing the negotiators for progress.
Mr. Zuma’s facilitators are expected in Harare on May 5 to try to broaden
agreement ahead of the SADC summit on Zimbabwe May 20 in Namibia.
Retired Zimbabwe Army Colonel Martin Rupiya, Director of the African Public
Policy and Research Institute, told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that
ZANU-PF's over-reliance on the military makes it difficult for the former
ruling party to accept reform
Elsewhere, prospects of elections this year as demanded by Mr. Mugabe and
ZANU-PF looked more remote following indications by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission that it cannot afford to revise the voter roll, or address other
important tasks at hand. It said its own staff needs training and major
reforms are required before elections.
Electoral Commission Chairman Simpson Mutambanengwe said his panel will
start work on the voters roll and other logistical projects when funds are
Mutambanengwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the
Referendum Act also needs revision as it still says the registrar general
presides over elections though that mandate was shifted by the
constitutional amendment creating his panel.
Political analyst Bhekilizwe Ndlovu commented that he does not think ZANU-PF
wants elections any time soon despite the demands from President Mugabe.
by Tobias Manyuchi Thursday 21 April 2011
HARARE -- Zimbabwe will resist attempts to appoint British national Simon
Gilberts as the Kimberley Process (KP)’s new monitor for the country’s
controversial Marange diamond mines, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said on
"I have heard about him (Gilberts) but he will never come to Zimbabwe as a
monitor …. he is welcome as a tourist," said Mpofu, adding that as far as
Harare was concerned South African diamond executive Abbey Chikane was still
the KP monitor because he has not formally resigned the position.
"Chikane is a KP employee and as far as I am concerned he is an employee of
the KP and he has not resigned as an employee of the KP," said Mpofu.
Harare fears that should Gilbert, a former employee of diamond giants De
Beers, become KP monitor he might come under pressure from his home country
Britain to produce negative reports about Marange to buttress calls by
London for a ban of gemstones from the notorious Zimbabwean mines.
Britain is among several Western countries that have called on the KP, that
regulates the world diamond industry, to ban diamonds from Marange citing
human rights abuses allegedly committed by Zimbabwe army soldiers guarding
the mines to the east of the country.
The fate of the Marange diamonds remains uncertain with KP chairman Mathieu
Lapfa Lambang Yamba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said to have
last month unilaterally gave Zimbabwe permission to export the stones. The
KP takes decision by consensus
Several countries among them the US and Britain as well non-governmental
organisations that are KP members have said they will not recognise Zamba’s
decision to authorise exports of the Marange gems.
Top diamond trade groups such as the World Diamond Council, Jewelers of
America and the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America
have also refused to recognise Yamba’s decision and have instructed their
members to stay away from Marange diamonds.
The KP banned Zimbabwe from selling diamonds from Marange in 2009 over
allegations of human rights abuses in the extraction of the gems and failure
to meet minimum requirements for trading in the precious stones.
But the organisation allowed Zimbabwe to conduct two supervised sales which
took place in August and September last year following a report by Chikane
that said Harare had met all KP conditions.
However subsequent KP meetings failed to reach agreement on whether to
permanently lift the ban on Marange diamonds. The monitoring group had said
the stones would remain prohibited until there was consensus on the matter –
a position which Yamba has apparently overturned by his decision last month.
The issue of Zimbabwe selling the Marange diamonds has divided the KP along
political lines, with Western countries led by the United States, Britain,
Germany and Australia calling for the extension of a ban.
African and other countries, including Russia, have however opposed the
calls to ban the diamonds. -- ZimOnline
Highlighting tensions inside the Kimberley Process, African diamond
producers led by South Africa boycotted a recent Kimberley working group on
monitoring in Dubai
Sandra Nyaira | Washington 20 April 2011
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for supervision of diamond
markets faces mounting internal divisions following the recent pronouncement
by new chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of Congo
authorizing Zimbabwe to sell all the diamonds from Marange it wishes without
Western members of the watchdog group dismissed the decision as illegitimate
as there was no consensus on the question among Kimberley members. But a
fissure has opened with African members - including most significantly South
Africa - backing Yamba.
Highlighting Kimberley internal tensions, African producers led by South
Africa boycotted a Kimberley working group on monitoring in Dubai last
Thursday. The working group met to draft an agreement now being circulated
among Kimberley members for approval.
But Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said any new agreement authorizing
Harare to sell is moot and unnecessary as Yamba has already given Harare a
green light to sell.
The draft proposes Harare be allowed to export diamonds from Marange. Though
major diamond importing countries like the United States, China and India
attended the meeting, sources suggest Washington is not happy with the
Sources say controversy deepened as members haggled over country compliance
as opposed to mine site compliance, which would ensure more scrutiny over
new mining concerns.
Five companies from South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and China – all
members of the working group on monitoring – now operate in Marange in joint
ventures with Harare.
Kimberly sources said the draft is confidential, but indicated that a
controversial clause on the handling of complaints relating to violence,
which Mpofu had previously dismissed as ‘nonsensical,’ has been dropped from
the latest draft.
This has incensed Western human rights groups. But despite the concession,
Mpofu says Harare will not bother to look at the new agreement.
The absence of the violence clause is of special concern to Kimberly
non-governmental organization observers.
Executive Director Farai Maguwu of the Center for Research and Development
in Mutare, a prominent critic of the government's Marange policies, was in
Dubai for the meetings. He says civic groups may not back the agreement
without the violence clause.
Though represented in Dubai, the United States has threatened to veto the
agreement even if Harare eventually signs off on it. The Kimberly Process in
theory works on a consensus basis, so such turmoil threatens to continue and
potentially paralyze the group.
Cecilia Gardner, general counsel of the U.S. Kimberley Process Authority,
says the Marange issue has been “taking up a lot of our time” which she says
could be put to better use to deal with more pressing Kimberley matters.
Maguwu says that if Harare does not accept the new proposal, this would send
things back to the drawing board meaning more disarray within the
Mpofu dismisses the entire process saying Harare will remain a member but
will not endure further scrutiny by the working group on monitoring.
Sources say participant countries will vote soon on the new agreement. Lack
of consensus could leave Zimbabwe on the agenda at the next Kimberley
plenary meeting in June.
Meanwhile the clashes within the respected organization seem to be much to
the satisfaction of some in Harare.
By Oscar Nkala
Thursday, 21 April 2011 11:59
BULAWAYO - President Robert Mugabe must apologise and compensate victims of
the Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and Midlands in the 80s, if
national healing was to be successful, a survey by the Daily News has
Wide ranging interviews held in Matabeleland yesterday revealed that the
victims also want Mugabe, cabinet ministers, security agents, and soldiers
involved in the massacres to apologise and compensate the victims with
projects to sustain their families.
During the deadly operation conducted by the North Korean trained Fifth
Brigade, at least 20 000 innocent civilians were killed, some were buried
alive while others had body parts bayoneted in acts similar to acts in
sadistic movies. The Fifth Brigade then was headed by Air Marshall Perence
Shiri, Emmerson Mnangagwa was State Security Minister while Enos Nkala was
Government, then claimed that they wanted to deal with less than 200 “Zapu
dissidents” claiming they were planning an insurgence.
Mugabe has refused to apologise for the massacres only saying it was “moment
The victims in Matabeleland have been angered by a police crackdown on
senior government officials and rights groups who are leading the national
healing programmes in the provinces.
Police has launched a fresh onslaught on the church and pro-democracy groups
in the region in a move that provoked deep seated anger from the Gukurahundi
victims who view it as a sign to silence them.
In interviews held in Matobo South, the victims and survivors said it was
disheartening to note that the government of Mugabe, which fully understands
the extent of the catastrophe and its continuing effects on entire
communities, has chosen to make political gimmicks out of the very wounds it
inflicted on its own people.
“We hear about the national healing programme but it will never work here
unless it starts with Robert Mugabe leading a delegation of his ministers
here to apologise and give our communities the developmental redress they
“While it is true that Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, it was only in
1988 that the people of Matobo South started to feel it," said granny
She said communities were struggling because the NGOs were afraid to carry
work in the region.
"NGOs are afraid even of talking about and let alone, helping Gukurahundi
victims. Some even remove people from their food registers simply because
they mentioned that word.”
“Communities, through the extended family and traditional welfare structures
are trying to make ends meet but it is proving difficult. Most families are
now headed by young people as both parents were killed or and old people who
lost spouses or entire families and remained living solitary lives."
“They need food, clothing and psycho-social support because some of them,
especially those that endured long detentions in Bhalagwe, still scream and
hallucinate over the gruesome events they witnessed," Moyo told the Daily
"To us, Gukurahundi never ended. It is continuing and even those who were
not yet born when it happened are born as victims because the destruction
Gukurahundi brought cannot be measured on any normal scale.
“It was sheer brutality on people who died without knowing why they were
being butchered. We have the orphans, if you look outside you will see
hovels of homesteads and ruins where huts were razed to the ground,” said
villager who lost his wife and two brothers when Gukurahundi set up in
Homestead in 1984.
In Gohole, community members told the Daily News that they fear discussing
Gukurahundi because the police do not tolerate it.
"The healing will be difficult because we are not allowed to speak about
Gukurahundi. Many people are arrested and silently cautioned against it at
various police posts in the affected areas.
“You can't just say Bhalagwe; you need to check who is around first. I don't
think we can be healed by being silenced.
“President Mugabe must apologise, not on television but face to face with
us. From there we will demand to be allowed to rebury the people who still
lie like dogs in mass graves and then ask the perpetrators to pay for the
damage. Justice can come later," said Jealous Thusi, a war veteran who
operates a shop at Gohole Number 2 business centre.
Their concerns come amid the arrest and detention of co-home affairs
minister Moses-Mzila Ndlovu and Catholic priest Father Marko Mnkandla of the
Roman Catholic Church at St. Lukes over remarks they allegedly made at a
healing and reconciliation meeting with Gukurahundi survivors in Lupane two
In the last seven days, repression has spiked on Gukurahundi related
activists with the police in Lupane detaining Gukurahundi activist Mbuso
Fuzwayo over a T-shirt inscribed - Gukurahundi - a moment of madness.
Police in Hwange also detained three members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights (ZLHR) and four MDC officials who were on their way to see and
represent Mzila and Mnkandla.
Another national healing and reconciliation meeting that was supposed to
address Gukurahundi issues were disrupted by police in Kezi.
Economist James Wade says international donors have seen fit to channel
funds to specific projects and target areas, but the underfunding has left
some vulnerable communities at risk
Tatenda Gumbo | Washington 20 April 2011
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in
Zimbabwe has warned that developments in health, food security, and rising
political violence could have a negative impact on the humanitarian
situation in the country.
The report says the UN annual appeal to donors for around $415 million has
only brought in a total of $54 million. At the moment, UN officials say new
pledges total just $500,000.
Food shortages in many parts of Zimbabwe and a resurgence of cholera in some
areas signal a continued need for humanitarian assistance.
In the OCHA monthly report, officials say the food security situation is
alarming at a time when major donors are shifting focus from humanitarian to
a transitional aid - the 2011 appeal is structured to provide funds for
recovery projects as well as humanitarian aid.
Officials say various population segments have slipped back into
humanitarian need since the agency adopted the transitional strategy in the
Economist James Wade says donors have seen fit to channel funds to specific
projects and target areas, but the underfunding has left some vulnerable
communities at risk.
21 April, 2011 13:26
Economic analysts in Zimbabwe have expressed dismay at the manner in which
the Chinese and their Asian cousins from India have been allowed to take up
major businesses in the country.
Chinese companies have also entered the property sector, where they have
reportedly been pushing up office and other property rentals in Harare.
At it stands, Chinese companies command a significant presence in Zimbabwe's
mining, retail, manufacturing, construction and other sectors of the
economy, and this trend is set to continue as the embattled country
continues to get shunned by western and other international investors.
Zimbabwe's relations with traditional investors from western and other
international countries, including South Africa, have soured in recent weeks
following the gazetting of final regulations to govern the implementation of
the controversial economic indigenisation and empowerment law. Investor
sentiment has been dented while other firms have halted expansionary
projects in protest to the law, which analysts say is likely to benefit only
the well-connected and wealthy.
“There are growing concerns over Chinese aggressive investments in Africa,
and Zimbabwe is no exception. [President Robert] Mugabe has found a willing
partner to replace western companies with Chinese investors, but he seems to
be unaware that the Chinese are very cunning and are only interested in
growing their businesses,” said economic commentator Jeffery Kasirori.
Other investment analysts said China's foray into Africa had brought little
benefit to the continent's economy in general as Chinese companies were only
interested “in the potential for huge returns” that African economies
Last month, Zimbabwe and China signed a loan agreement worth $585 million.
The loan agreement, which followed similar investment packages with Botswana
and South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation - which invested in
the country's Agribank - showed that some investors were prepared to weather
the storm despite a call for early elections by Mugabe and his Zanu PF
The business sector is opposed to early elections, saying early polls would
plunge the country into a crisis.
" for China there is certainly a huge commercial potential, especially
with western companies pulling out or being pushed out, for China and other
countries such as Korea and India to move in instead," Africa analyst Robert
Besseling is quoted as saying. He added that Zimbabwe might have given China
guarantees that investments from the Asian fastest growing economy would be
protected from expropriation.
China has become a major importer of goods and products ranging from
sanitary ware, detergents, electrical goods and appliances, power
generators, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles and plant and
machinery equipment. However, concerns have been expressed over the
durability and poor quality of these products, prompting a debate over
China's genuine interest in its investments into Zimbabwe.
“Chinese companies now have a presence in just about all sectors of the
economy, but what is of concern is the quality of their products, which is
below standard and this gives us the idea that Chinese companies are
bringing backdoor industry manufactured goods to Zimbabwe and making a
profit at the same time,” said one local retailer whose business has had to
fight stiff competition from cheap Chinese manufactured products.
With Zimbabwe's unemployment levels at a high of around 70%, Chinese
companies have become the new employers in town. But workers employed by
Chinese and Indian businesses complain of ill treatment and poor
remuneration with those in retail and construction being the most affected.
"Chinese employers should take people seriously. Locals are fired any time -
there is no labour law practiced in Chinese-run projects," said Muchapiwa
Mazarura, secretary general for Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades
Workers Union (ZCATWU).
Zimbabwe's Indigenisation Minister, Savior Kasukuwere was not immediately
available for comment, but he has previously said that Chinese mining
companies would be exempt from the controversial Indigenisation law, which
seeks to force foreign owned companies to cede majority shareholding stakes
amounting to 51%.
Sinosteel Corporation, a Chinese company, has acquired a 67% stake in
Zimbabwe's leading ferrochrome producer Zimasco Holdings, while Chinese
state-owned firm, China International Water and Electric, has been
contracted to farm 250,000 acres in southern Zimbabwe. Chinese mining
companies have also entered into joint venture partnerships with the
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation for the mining of platinum in the
plush Great Dyke region.
Partnerships have also been forged with Chinese companies for the mining of
diamonds in the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields in the east of
Zimbabwe. This shows the growing trend in which Chinese investors, riding on
the back of rising demand for minerals at home, could be the new mining
sector investors in Zimbabwe should the government stick to its plan to
expropriate majority shareholding stakes in foreign mining companies, a move
analysts say could push out investors such as Impala Platinum and Rio Tinto.
by Tobias Manyuchi Thursday 21 April 2011
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s largest mobile phone operator has invested US$270
million in network infrastructure over the past year, bringing total
investment over the previous two years to more than $400 million, it
reported on Wednesday.
In a statement accompanying its financial results for the full year to
February 2011, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe said the massive investment in
network infrastructure helped grow subscriber numbers 55 percent to 5.5
million customers by February.
Econet’s capital investment contributed the bulk of the impressive growth in
Zimbabwe’s mobile penetration rate, which rose from 40 percent last year to
66 percent in February this year.
The major network upgrade programme that has been a key focus at the company
over the past two years is scheduled for completion this year. This will
allow Econet to continue focusing on improvement and creativity in the areas
of service quality and value added services.
“The universal access to voice telephony services has largely been achieved.
Econet is now focused on providing subscribers with access to pervasive data
and value added services in line with international trends,” Econet CEO
Douglas Mboweni said.
“The business will now focus on optimising the current capital investments
to enhance network quality and boost its data capacity and value added
As a result of the network expansion, Econet boasts the widest coverage in
Of the SIM cards recently deactivated due to regulatory requirements, over
half have already been reactivated, the company said.
Econet declared a dividend of 12.21 US cents per share. Earnings per share
rose 27 percent from 66 US cents last year to 84 US cents.
Revenue grew 36 percent to US$493.5 million from US$362.8 million, while
post tax profit rose to US$140.9 million from US$113.2 million last year.
Total assets increased by US$243.9 million, or 62 percent, to US$636.6
million. -- ZimOnline
By Xolisani Ncube, Staff Writer
Thursday, 21 April 2011 15:46
HARARE - At least 3 000 workers at the Harare City Council, HCC, face the
axe as the council moves to implement recommendations made by the World Bank
to restructure the local authority.
Most of the workers joined the HCC during the tenure of Sekesai Makwavarara
who made an inglorious exit from the municipality following an indictment on
the competence of her commission.
The council has more than 9000 employees and is mulling a massive lay off of
workers, especially casual and contract employees.
Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda told the Daily News that a leaner structure would
fire the city council to perform better.
“We can run the city with at least 6000 workers especially if they are well
resourced and qualified for the job,” said Masunda.
He said that most of the workers who compose the ‘excess’ workforce in the
local authority do not have the indispensible qualifications to be with the
City of Harare.
“This was a dumping ground for political parties, they brought their
supporters to work here with some even getting responsible positions and
this has to be dealt with.
“The human resources general council will soon be looking at the
recommendations made by the World Bank and we are going to ensure that we
blot out all unnecessary workers from the municipality,” Masunda told the
He said the city fathers are working flat out to ensure that service
delivery is improved but warned some pressure groups that are campaigning
against the payment of rates by residents.
“Since we took over the management of the City of Harare, in July 2008, we
inherited a number of serious problems chief among them the deteriorating
infrastructure, excess work force and political polarisation but we have
managed to tackle important issues even though we are still far.
“We are currently producing 600 mega litres of water at the back drop of a
demand of 1200 to 1400 mega litres a day, this is all because the government
has in the past been focusing on the education development, neglecting
infrastructural development,” said Masunda.
“It is surprising that someone can tell residents not to pay rates but
expect service delivery. This is where I differ with people like Precious
Shumba (of The Harare Resident Trust). How can they say pay only US$15, when
they want service delivery?”
Masunda said the city authority was not getting any help from the central
Freedom House says Internet usage has grown rapidly in the country from 0,3%
of the population in 2000 to 12% by 2009 - but the medium is still
relatively expensive and erratic because of frequent power cuts
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 20 April 2011
Washington-based think tank Freedom House says obstacles to Internet access
in Zimbabwe make it questionable whether the World Wide Web can be a means
for activists to mobilize the masses to press for immediate democratic
In a report on the Internet and democracy in 2011, Freedom House said that
although the Internet is nominally free from government interference, the 11
percent of Zimbabweans with access to the Web mainly use it for social
purposes by visiting sites like Facebook.
Titled "Freedom on the Net 2011", the report notes that although there is no
clear evidence the Zimbabwean government blocks access to digital media,
there were structural constraints suggesting indirect blocking. Many
hesitate to engage in Web activism because most users messages under their
own names so they can communicate with family and friends.
Freedom House said the most worrisome move in Zimbabwe was the adoption of
the Interception of Communications Act in 2007, allowing the state to
monitor mail, phone and Internet messages, and obliging access providers to
cooperate in this.
“Debates on the country’s political and socio-economic issues and reactions
to Internet stories on Zimbabwe are mostly confined to chat rooms and
feedback sections of online news sites,” the report said.
The roles of Facebook, Twitter and other websites played a key role in
upheavals witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere this year, but Zimbabwe
has not followed suit.
Freedom House says Internet usage has grown rapidly in the country from 0,3%
of the population in 2000 to 12% by 2009 - but notes that the communications
medium is still relatively expensive and erratic because of frequent power
Freedom House Program Officer for Southern Africa Megan Shaw told VOA
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that Internet usage will increase with the
introduction of new technologies.
Political analyst John Makumbe disagreed with the Freedom House report,
noting at many Zimbabwean youths spend large parts of their day in Internet
By Pindai Dube
Thursday, 21 April 2011 17:07
BULAWAYO - Bulawayo's only HIV/Aids nursing home, run by the First Lady
Grace Mugabe, faces closure after allegedly running out of funds.
Thembelihle Nursing Home in Mpopoma High density-suburb of Bulawayo is
designed to provide terminally ill HIV/Aids patients with enough food to
regain their strength.
It was opened in October 2006 and was adopted by Grace.
Thembelihle Nursing Home can accommodate more than 70 HIV/Aids patients at a
time, but at the moment, only six are left and no new admissions are being
Thembelihle board chairperson Ellen Nzimande, confirmed that the only
HIV/Aids nursing home in Bulawayo is facing closure, due to a shortage of
drugs and medical supplies, rising cost of food and the growing poverty of
Zimbabwean citizens, which are making it a lot harder for them to run it
“We don’t have funds to buy drugs and food, we don’t have funds to pay our
workers, and we have don’t have funds to pay our utility bills. So, the only
option left for us is to close this nursing home,” said Nzimande.
She said “most of the donors pulled out in February this year and since
then, we have been depending on some well-wishers, especially churches.”
Grace has not been seen in public for more than a month now and is believed
to be in China pursuing studies at a Chinese university.
The First Lady also has problems with her hip, as revealed by the Daily News
According to research scientists, Zimbabwe used to have the highest number
of people infected with HIV/Aids in the world, but the figures decreased
Today’s findings strongly show that people in Zimbabwe have primarily been
motivated to change their sexual behaviour because of improved public
awareness of Aids deaths and a subsequent fear of contracting the virus.
The researchers found that other important drivers have been the influence
of education programmes that have shifted people’s attitudes towards having
multiple concurrent sexual partners in extra-marital, commercial and casual
relations and have increased the acceptability of using condoms for casual
Written by Zimbabwe Watch
Thursday, 21 April 2011 14:51
Hugo Knoppert spoke last month in Harare with Alec Muchadehama about his
work and motivations, winning the Laywers for Laywers Award and about how
Zimbabwe Watch can help. An interview.
Why did you decide to study law?
When I grew up I wanted to be a medical doctor or an engineer, but when I
went to highschool they didnt offer sciences to provide medical or
engineering. I was in highschool in 1986 when I visited the local university
for an open day.
I saw from the prospectus which studies were offered and how many points you
had to score to get in. Law was the one where you needed the most points, so
I figured that would be the most challenging. I didnt know anyone who
studied law and I didnt know what law was, but I went for the biggest
And what happened then?
I went to the university and studied law, but I had no clue what I wanted to
do when I would be finished. In the 4th year I did a research with respect
to whether or not the 1990 elections in Zimbabwe were free and fair. During
that research we also got to visit court cases where I saw court officials
in action. To me there was one particular character that was quite
interesting, it was the public prosecutor; he appeared to be the most active
and in control of things, so I said 'I want to be that guy.' It was a
coincidence that I was about to finish my studies and then saw this guy, so
after I graduated I became a public prosecutor myself in 1991.
And was the position of public prosecutor as nice as you expected it to be?
Yes very much. The courtroom is run by the public prosecutor, if you are
organized the witnesses, the accused and the magistrator will not have a
problem, so you can contribute positively to the judiciary system.
It exposes you to a variety of issues. In terms of going to court,
legislation, adminstration, as well as learning how to organize yourself and
other people. It teaches you to be self reliant. I went all over the
country, and in some remote areas I would be alone. I was able to appear in
all courts of the country, and was exposed to the whole criminal system.
After one year as a public prosecutor I went to the Attorney Generals
Office. There I would also do reviews, handle applications, and do
misconduct enquiries; anything that involved the State. It again exposed me
to a lot of issues.
I stayed in the Attorney Generals office for seven years, but in 1997 I was
again looking for a challenge. I said 'I think I want to develop myself.' At
that stage I had appeared in all courts of the country up to the highest
level, but there were still many subjects I hadn't worked on. I wanted to
expose myself to some of these subjects, that was the only avenue open to me
Prosecution was limiting my exposure, some cases felt repetative, so I
joined an established firm in Harare and started a private practice. There I
did labour law, criminal law, commercial law, and all kinds of other things
I missed in prosecution.
And how did you then get involved in defending human rights activists?
In February 1998 we had the food riots in Zimbabwe, which were started by
women who were protesting against the rise in price of bread. During these
protests some shops were looted and the state responded by massive arrests,
it was a serious crackdown. They arrested anyone who had looted, but also
people who were just there. If you were found with a handful of sugar and
you did not have a receipt, you were arrested. The cells were literally
By chance I represented one of the people who was arrested, it was a lady
who had been detained. I went to the police station to take instructions and
I saw the place was overflowing with women who were arrested. There were
even pregnant women and women with babies.
I found the woman I was representing was innocent, as were almost all of
these women, so I decided to appeal for bail. I then discovered that the
police, the Attorney General and the magistrates had sat down and contrived
to deny anyone arrested bail, everyone was supposed to be detained.
However I had done my own investigation and still applied for bail. I told
the magistrate that I had information that they had already decided that no
one was going to get bail. I told him he couldnt do that, as the judicial
office is expected to follow the law. It appeared that he panicked and didnt
want to be associated with what I said, so he granted bail. I was so happy,
I will never forget that day.
It opened a floodcase of bail applications, everyone thought I had performed
a miracle. It were no valid arrests, they had simply taken people, abused
them, assaulted them, and denied them food. It was the first time I came
face to face with the violent state, that was targeting innocent people.
What did this experience do to you?
From that day I never looked back, I was convinced that the state faced a
crisis. I decided that I in my own small way would defend those people.
Since then, the violations of human rights has not stopped.
After those events the opposition party MDC was formed and the political
field became polarized. President Mugabe was staring defeat right in the
eye, and he reacted with intimidation and violations of human rights. Since
then every election is characterized by a lot of violence, as a way of
reacting to a possible defeat. There was violence in 2000, 2002, 2005 and
2008, and now as we see the rhetoric of elecitons, the violence is again
flaring up. In all these periods there have been a lot of arrests, in 2000
many MDC people were arrested, in 2002 MDC called for a mass stay away and
Tsvangirai was facing treason charges, and in March 2003 there was also a
lot of violence.
That was also the first time I was arrested. I was acting as a consultant
for a newspaper, explaining the legal side of the Tsvangirai case. A
journalist was arrested and I was called to defend him. When I arrived his
fingers were broken. They brought in more people, which were harassed and
assaulted in my presence.
The wife of the current army general was there with armed soldiers. She
asked me what I was doing there and she was very authorative. She came to
ask me who I was and all hell broke loose when I said I was a lawyer; she
said 'you are representing them and you want to sell the country!' I was
manhandled under a tree. I thought 'how can this happen?' Another lawyer was
After three hours I was released, the army generals wife said 'after what
they did to you, you can become a refugee, why dont you go?' They said they
could help me get a visa. However, when I was released I went to look for
the other lawyers. When I asked the police officers whether there was a
lawyer they confirmed. They said they couldnt tell the reason, but said they
were ordered by the army general's wife. The police detained someone on
orders of a civilian! The army general's wife followed what was going on and
then became very angry, but I was just not ready to leave my colleague
Do you have any idea how many people you represented?
Oh, countless, it were so many.
Which of these cases has had the most impact on you?
The largest number of people I ever defended were the 384 women of NCA, I
will never forget that case. They were accused of chanting MDC slogans
during an NCA protest march. I said 'what offence is that?' They were
detained at Warren Park Police Station, some even with their children. The
women didnt fit in the cells, so they were put in the open court yard. It
was May and very cold, but they were given no clothes.
The police was abusing them, for example by pouring water over them despite
the cold. I have never seen such an abuse of women. Innocent souls were kept
for two days in the open, with no food, no blankets, and no sanitation. I
was horrified, these people were treated worse than animals.
What do you tell colleagues from Europe about Zimbabwe's judiciary system?
It used to be okay, but it is very slow in the protection of human rights.
Once a person goes to court and claims that his or her rights are violated,
they refuse to take the case in order to give a strong message. The
judiciary is very slow, and they are generally seen as not independent. Some
of the judges received farms, and some received money from the Reserve Bank.
You will visit the Netherlands to receive the Lawyers for Lawyers award,
what did you think when you heard about it?
I was pleasantly surprised, and at the same time shocked.
Yes, I thought 'what have I done to deserve an award?' Especially since this
is an international award. In my view, the majority of the clientele that I
deal with, are ordinary people from the street. They are the unknown, about
whom noone want to write home about. Those are the most important to me, the
vulnerable and innocent who are exposed to arrests.
Incidentally, I also came to defend people who some people regard 'more
people than other', but I don't think so. I am not worried about those, I am
more worried about 'the ordinary people'. I think the award should be for
these people; I want to dedicate the award to the many victims of the
violent repression, to the people who survived against all odds.
The fact that lawyers can give them protection is something I want to be
associated with, to me there is no greater thrill than to get an innocent
ordinary person acquitted or out on bail, preventing false trials, false
convictions, and false imprisonments. That is something I will do forever if
I have it my way. I don't accept human rights violations and I dont
understand it either, and I hope the perpetrators will also face their day
And is it special to receive an award from colleagues?
Its such an honour, but it frightens me too actually. Lawyers are know for
quarreling and arguing, so it means something if there is some consensus of
some sort. It is good to know that lawyers in the international community
value the work of lawyers here, it is an encouragement for lawyers in
Zimbabwe. We always find comfort in their support. Some might not even know
where Zimbabwe is. Its quite great, and I am so appreciative. I don't know
if Zimbabwean lawyers know what Lawyers for Lawyers is doing, but I hope
this will lead to more interaction between Zimbabwean lawyers, not only in
Zimbabwe and the Netherlands, but also worldwide. We lawyers should protect
This has now become my main pre occupation; this is how I, in my own small
way, try to help the situation in Zimbabwe. There are so many active lawyers
who are doing it, not only here in Zimbabwe, but also in the rest of the
world. This award is also an encouragement to all those lawyers, to not give
up under whatever circumstances. When it comes to defending human rights
defenders, lawyers must remain the last bastion of offence, even at risk of
their own arrest or dead. If lawyers run away we have no-one to stand up for
What do you expect from your visit to the Netherlands?
I have been there before, in 2006 after being released from prison Zimbabwe
Watch arranged a visit for me. I am now retracing my journey, but on a
happier note than before. The Netherlands has done a great deal for this
country, especially in the field of human rights. The former deputy
ambassador for example was such an excellent personality. She actually gave
me refugee when I was being pursued by Central Intelligence Officers. People
like her, in a very big way and without realizing, give the people here in
Zimbabwe a lot of hope. We might be oppressed here, but there are people who
care, and with all the good intentions.
The new Dutch Government is cutting in its development assistance, this
might also have implications for the Dutch presence in Zimbabwe, how do you
feel about this?
That would be most unfortunate. In terms of supporting civil society they
have done a lot, people here know what I am talking about. The Dutch Embassy
and Dutch organizations, like the members of Zimbabwe Watch, are
knowledgeable about what happens in this country and their programs have
been very effective. The fact that they are being targeted in some of the
state media, actually means that you are doing the right thing. If some of
these programs would have to be stopped that would be very unfortunate.
What can organizations such as Zimbabwe Watch mean for human rights
defenders in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe Watch should lobby on human rights, and alert the international
community when something happens here. They should monitor cases and report
them, as a defense mechanism for the vulnerable in Zimabwean society. They
could also engage with the police and the Attorney Generals Office to demand
Further, they should work with progressive civil society forces in Zimbabwe
to bring to the fore issues about human rights, so that the environment here
will become better. In my view, there is no one solution, no one individual
or organisation that can solve this. It requires a number of people and
organizations from in- and outside Zimbabwe.
Written by SW Radio Africa
Thursday, 21 April 2011 14:40
MDC-T Treasurer General Roy Bennett is the guest on Question Time and joins
SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma to answer questions from their
listeners. He responds to questions on his call for Old Mutual to withdraw
controversial investments in Zimpapers and Mbada Diamonds. He also reacts to
the SADC Troika summit held in Zambia. Does he plan on returning to Zimbabwe
Interview broadcast 06 April 2011
Lance Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to the first ever live session of the
programme Question Time. My guest this week is the exiled MDC-T Treasurer
General Roy Bennett. Thank you for joining us Roy.
Roy Bennett: Pleasure Lance.
Guma: Now you are currently in the United Kingdom – business or pleasure?
Bennett: Well I’m basically here to continue with the struggle and to
represent the MDC in London for a global advocacy campaign Lance.
Guma: OK and we see the web site – freezimbabwe.com – which you have
endorsed. Tell us more about this.
Bennett: Well basically Lance if you look at all the violence and repression
taking place in Zimbabwe, it’s driven by resources and it’s resources that
are being illegally acquired through the natural resources of Zimbabwe – the
diamond fields, the platinum fields.
If you look at the totally corrupt Ministry of Mines and how it’s handled,
it is those resources that are fuelling that violence and paying those
people to carry out that violence. So for us as the MDC to be able to fight
an election, it is based on resources and resources for democracy to free
Zimbabwe and so we have launched that web site to hopefully touch the
Diaspora who want to go home, to touch everybody across the length and
breadth of Zimbabwe.
If each person put one dollar into that web site, to free Zimbabwe that
would be able to assist the democratisation of Zimbabwe.
Guma: Now talking about resources, you recently stirred controversy at an
investment conference in Cape Town when you blasted Old Mutual and what you
called its seedy role in the illicit diamond mining that is occurring in the
Marange diamond fields. Let’s start off with that. Most of our listeners
want you to explain your criticism of Old Mutual.
Bennett: Well it’s quite simple, it’s very simple Lance – that is a totally
shady deal with Mbada Diamonds and the Mineral Marketing Board. You have the
community of Marange that has been displaced, that have been killed, that
have been brutalised around those diamond fields.
Where Marange is situated, it’s across the road from Hot Springs; Hot
Springs used to be in my constituency Kwa Hoti and the people there live in
natural region five, it is incredibly poor area and if anybody should
benefit from those resources, firstly it’s the people of Marange.
Secondly that investment has not met the standards of transparency and the
monies out of those diamond mines basically ends up fuelling the violence
against the people of Zimbabwe to endorse an autocratic dictatorship.
Guma: Now another company that you pointed out that Old Mutual should not be
involved in – Zimpapers.
Bennett: Well absolutely – if you look at Old Mutual and why I have
mentioned Old Mutual, it’s got nothing to do with me being against Old
Mutual; what I am against is the credibility that Old Mutual carries as a
London-listed company and as a company that has always been involved with
ethics and standards across the length and breadth of its investments and
insurance investments around the world and are very well known for that.
So for them to be involved in a seedy deal and a shady deal like Marange
through a mixer which is their investment company, it is questionable Lance.
At the same time, their stake in Zimpapers is seriously questionable.
Whatever the reasons for them remaining there, Zimpapers is basically the
Herald, it’s the Manica Post, it’s the Chronicle and if we look at the most
hatred that is spewed out and fanning the violence and fanning every –ism
that’s possible it is those dirty little rags.
And basically, Old Mutual on ethics, whatever it takes, whatever they lose,
should disinvest from those particular investments. And again it’s
opportunities like this where I speak out truthfully and for the people of
Zimbabwe and for the country of Zimbabwe that should be benefiting from
those natural resources and also where a company like Old Mutual should be
with the people and with what is right.
But ZANU PF take a spin on these things and say that I’m discouraging
investment from Zimbabwe – far from the truth Lance. The truth is that
ethical investment is welcome, has happened in Zimbabwe, will continue to
happen in Zimbabwe and will be there for the long term future of Zimbabwe.
Unethical investment at the expense of the people, at the expense of human
rights, that fuels hatred, violence and anything against the people is very
Guma: I suppose there you are touching on some reports that had given the
impression that you were calling on investors to stay away from Zimbabwe.
Bennett: Well absolutely, the first time you saw it was on Gideon Gono’s web
site New Zimbabwe because Gideon Gono himself happens to be one of the major
partners in Mbada, together with Grace Mugabe, so these are the people that
are benefiting from the natural resources of Zimbabwe to fuel and fan the
violence against the people, not the poor people of Marange, the poor people
vekwa Hoti and the people of Zimbabwe as a whole where we’re battling to
We’re battling all across the board and those diamonds – if they were
transparently done and done in the best interests and the social
responsibility was there and the country benefited from them and that the
investors that were involved in that investment had Zimbabwe at heart –
everybody would be clapping and applauding because that is what we want and
that is what we expect nothing less for Zimbabwe and for the people of
Guma: Now we have Jimmy Malunga Chasafara who sent us a question via
facebook and he says how can the MDC call for the withdrawal of these
investments when they are part of the government? What do you intend to
Bennett: Well again I’ve explained that. We’re not calling for any
disinvestment from any ethical company. We are exposing unethical
investments that are benefiting people who are using those resources to
carry out human rights against the people of Zimbabwe and I don’t think any
government in its right mind or anybody in their right mind would ever
endorse such investments or such abuse of the natural resources of Zimbabwe.
Guma: A recent update by Veritas who monitor legal and parliamentary affairs
says your seat as a senator is now at risk. They say without the leave of
the Senate you have missed more than 21 sittings during the current
parliamentary session. Are you aware of this?
Bennett: Yah I am aware of it Lance and again it is very obvious of the
lengths that ZANU PF goes to victimise and to control the process within
Zimbabwe. So yes, that is what they do, they obviously want to victimise me,
they want to kick me out of the Senate so that I’m not appointed as the
Minister of Agriculture because their spurious charges of treason have
The reason I am in exile is there are two warrants for my arrest; there’s a
warrant of arrest for me for perjury, there’s a warrant of arrest for me for
contempt of court – so the persecution is relentless and we must never
forget that the big picture is to deliver freedom to the people of Zimbabwe
and to stand with the people of Zimbabwe.
It is the people of Zimbabwe that will deliver change to Zimbabwe. Those
holding the guns, their time is short-lived; those using and exploiting the
natural resources of Zimbabwe to repress the people of Zimbabwe, their time
is short-lived. The big picture is Zimbabwe, the people of Zimbabwe who will
not give up on their quest for a free and fair and a new Zimbabwe.
Guma: We have a listener from Honde Valley who wants to know – you in the
past have fought these charges, been acquitted while in Zimbabwe – what has
changed that has made you decide I’ve had enough of this and I’m going to be
Bennett: Well it’s basically two issues: as the Treasurer General of the
MDC, we have an election coming up. It’s a crucial election and it is my job
to be able to use whatever ways and means I have to raise the resources for
the party for that election.
At the same time I am here in London, deployed by the party as a global
advocacy coordinator, to coordinate advocacy of a representative that will
be based in Brussels, a representative that will be based in Washington and
a representative that will be based in South Africa and it is all towards
the next election.
London is the financial capital of the world, it is the media capital of the
world and with my direct line back to the leadership of the party, I am here
for them to use and at their disposal.
Guma: OK. From Mutare we have a text message from Samantha. Samantha says
the MDC will be having its Congress at the end of April; will your absence
have any impact on your position as Treasurer General?
Bennett: Well again Lance, that is for the MDC people to decide. I’ve always
said that I’m there, I’m available for as long as they want me. If they don’t
want me I will move aside. I never entered into politics for myself; I
entered into to represent and to deliver to the people of Zimbabwe so I’m
there, I’m available to stand if the people want me; if they don’t want me,
I’ll take a back seat and get on with my life.
Guma: But obviously your absence doesn’t affect anything – you can still,
your name can be put forward as a candidate and people vote on that?
Bennett: Absolutely Lance, as far as I understand, yes.
Guma: Now the recent SADC Troika Summit held in Livingstone Zambia – it
surprised everyone with an unprecedented robust approach to the Zimbabwean
crisis. Mugabe’s regime responded by hurling insults at Jacob Zuma’s
presidency and at SADC. What is your reading of the situation particularly
given you’ve spent quite some time in South Africa?
Bennett: Lance it’s a very clear position and I’ve always been very clear in
line with the party message and the president has always been very, very
clear- we won an election in 2008; because of the difficulties and the fact
of the de facto military coup took place and a junta took control of
Zimbabwe and used Robert Mugabe for legitimacy.
The whole issue around that is one of democratisation, it’s one of moving
things forward and when President Tsvangirai sacrificed his political
capital to go into the Global Political Agreement, do you think he didn’t
know what ZANU PF are? Do think he didn’t know that they would never agree
But the MDC entered in for very strong reasons – at that time and people
have not forgotten, people in Zimbabwe, living in Zimbabwe are very aware of
the economic state of affairs; the inflation was at trillions of dollars,
the health system had collapsed, the schooling system had collapsed and it
was on that basis, for the basis for the people and also for the trust of
the guarantees of SADC that our President Tsvangirai sacrificed his
political capitol and went into this Global Political Agreement.
Have we achieved what we went out to achieve? On the major front – yes. The
macro-economics of Zimbabwe have completely stabilised. Yes, we might have
given ZANU PF a second chance but they were going to take that chance anyway
because they are in control of the military and as I said to you, a de facto
coup has taken place but we certainly delivered a better life for the people
of Zimbabwe through the macro-economics.
The health system has definitely improved, the education has definitely
improved – so these are areas that have definitely delivered to the people
of Zimbabwe. Where we have not been able to deliver and that’s where SADC
has to come in is on the Global Political Agreement and the transfer of
The military are still fully in control; they’re still fully in charge; they
don’t respect the will of the people; they don’t respect the fact that the
MDC are part of the government but SADC guaranteed that process and we’ve
always said that we will remain in there. We’ve been criticised – why haven’t
we pulled out of this thing? Why do we remain there?
The very reason we remain there is the fact that SADC guaranteed the
process; the facilitator has been there to monitor this process and the
truth eventually comes out and the process that was supposed to have ended
on the 11th of February was when the two years of the Global Political
Agreement was up.
It’s now very, very obvious and very, very plain to see the lengths that
ZANU PF has gone to sabotage that Global Political Agreement, to remain in
power, to snub SADC, to snub the facilitator and that’s all coming home to
roost now as we sit here Lance.
Guma: We have a question, I suppose it’s a good follow-up to that – Lindiwe
Moyo in Hwange says – in hindsight, do you think it was a mistake to form a
coalition government with Mugabe and ZANU PF? In hindsight?
Bennett: No I don’t think so Lance, I think it was the only option available
at the time taking into account the suffering of the people. Yes we could
have sat back, we could have refused to go into that, ZANU PF would have
just turned their wrath onto the people.
Already people were dying by their thousands to cholera, people were
suffering with the macro-economics, more people were leaving the country, so
for the sake of the people, I don’t think it was a bad thing to go into that
and all these things, when you’re dealing with dictatorships and you’re
dealing with military juntas who rule by the gun, it is a process – it takes
It is not something that happens overnight and it’s to be there, to be true
to the people, to be true to your policies as a political party and
represent them honestly and fairly and try to move the process forward
without violence and democratically.
Guma: Prime Minister Tsvangirai recently said dark and sinister forces have
taken over government. Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga from the other MDC
formation said - a smart coup had taken place in Zimbabwe. What’s your
reading of the situation?
Bennett: Lance I’ve always been of the opinion and very, very solid on that
opinion was that in 2008 when the MDC won the elections, the five weeks it
took ZANU PF to release those results, they were busy altering the results
in order to force a run-off.
At the same time I do believe that Mugabe was ready to retire and move aside
and that he was approached by the junta, by the generals and chiefly
Mnangagwa being one of the principal ones with Sekeramayi, then Chiwenga –
these are the guys that went to Mugabe and said that there’s absolutely no
ways he can leave them, he has to remain there, they will guarantee and
ensure that there’s a run-off and that he wins that run-off – which the rest
Guma: Why is Mugabe important to this regime? In a sense he is old?
Bennett: Well basically Mugabe confers legitimacy onto ZANU PF’s rigging,
violence to get into power. Take Mugabe away, because of his stature and
standing within Africa and as a previous liberation hero – the fact that he’s
gone back on everything that liberation stands for is neither here nor
there, he is somebody, that if he’s elected as a president can carry the
Take him out the picture – there’s no way that somebody like Mnangagwa or
Chiwenga will ever carry that legitimacy or will ever have been able to pull
the wool over the peoples’ eyes or anybody’s eyes in Africa or the world
that they won an election.
Guma: We all saw pictures of Mugabe in Zambia failing to walk on his own,
using a golf cart to travel everywhere. I’m sure you saw those also. What
did you make of that?
Bennett: Well again Lance, if we look at the process that we are in in
Zimbabwe and we look at all the pain and suffering the people of Zimbabwe
have gone through, from the liberation war, from colonial days through to
now – every country, God has a hand in the future and the developments of
that country and God has His hand on Zimbabwe.
He knows exactly where we’re going and what the end result will be and
Robert Mugabe is not immortal, he’s not there forever. He’s an old man – 87
is definitely not a young man in anybody’s book so time is catching up with
him and his day of judgement will come where he will stand in judgement for
all the atrocities and violence that he has released on the people of
Zimbabwe so basically I think basically that is what is happening – there’s
nobody who can stop the ageing process and nobody can stop the will of God
and the plans that God has for Zimbabwe.
Guma: From Glen Norah comes a question from Elton Madzimure – his question
basically is why does the Mugabe regime hate you so much? We were given
various excuses why you couldn’t be sworn in as the deputy Agriculture
minister – first it was that you had a case that you needed to be cleared of
first and when you were acquitted, still you are not sworn in. Is there an
element of hatred and if so, why do they hate you so much?
Bennett: Lance ndinobva kuvanhu, handisi munhu akazvimirira ega (Lance I
come from the people, I don’t stand on my own). I was put where I am by the
people of Zimbabwe, I represent those people as honestly and as
transparently and as accountably as I can.
I’ve gone the whole mile to stand by the people in our quest for democracy
and good governance in Zimbabwe and so therefore I have support especially
within my home area, Chimanimani, of people who have lived side by side with
me and worked with me and no amount of intimidation or threats from Mugabe
has been able to silence or suppress those people and I suppose I stand for
everything that he detests.
I’m white, I’m a farmer, I was in the Rhodesian, the British South Africa
Police – so all these things bring hatred to him. Unlike the rest of us in
Zimbabwe – in 1980 we embraced a new Zimbabwe, we put our hearts into
building a country and move on.
He has remained in the past, remains an inherent racist, is filled with
hatred and one must pity him because all this hatred destroys a person.
Turns you into a sort of wreck which he is today and that’s about the hatred
that’s filled inside him.
Guma: Some have suggested Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa whom you pushed
in parliament a few years ago is behind this campaign of harassment. What do
you make of that?
Bennett: Well I’m not sure Lance. That was again a very unfortunate
incident, it’s past, he never accepted my apology. Everybody has a breaking
point, it’s not something I’m proud of but it happened and for him to hold a
grudge and continue – you know the biggest thing - you can tell someone from
ZANU chero anywhere – they are filled with hatred, they are aggressive,
there’s no love in them, it seems to be a culture within inside ZANU PF and
it’s very unfortunate because it’s the biggest destructive force that they
have inside their own party.
Guma: Well Zimbabwe that was the MDC Treasurer General Roy Bennett joining
us on this first ever live session of the programme Question Time. Roy,
thank you very much for joining us.
Bennett: My pleasure Lance thank you.
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In this two part series SW Radio Africa journalist Lance Guma speaks to
Munyaradzi Gwisai, the radical leader of the International Socialist
Organization in Zimbabwe. The former MDC MP is one of 6 activists facing
treason charges for addressing a meeting at which video footage of protests
in Egypt and Tunisia was screened.
Gwisai answers questions sent in by listeners including his treason case,
factionalism in civil society, past problems in his own organization and the
perennial question of whether he will rejoin the MDC.
Interview broadcast 20 April 2011
Lance Guma: Hallo Zimbabwe and thank you for joining us on the programme
Question Time. My guest this week is Munyaradzi Gwisai, the leader of the
International Socialist Organization in Zimbabwe.
The former MDC MP is one of 6 activists facing treason charges for
addressing a meeting at which video footage of protests in Egypt and Tunisia
was screened. We asked listeners to send in their questions via Facebook,
Twitter, Skype, email and also text messages. Va Gwisai, thank you for
joining us on the programme.
Munyaradzi Gwisai: Maita (thank you) Comrade Lance it’s always a pleasure,
kunga tiri pamwe chete (to be together with you).
Guma: Let’s go back to February, the meeting in Julius Nyerere Way. A lot of
questions from our listeners centred on trying to find out what happened,
what exactly was the meeting for?
Gwisai: Yah obviously taking into account that this is a matter still before
the courts so there are areas we can comment on and there are others that we
are unable to but in general terms, in terms of the charges that we are
facing – firstly we are facing charges for organising a treasonous meeting
or alternatively a meeting to subvert a constitutional government.
But our defence outline is very clear – this was a meeting called by the
International Socialist Organisation and were our members were invited along
with guests from social movements, trade unions, to discuss the implication
of the revolts in Egypt, in Tunisia and North Africa for ordinary people on
our continent including Zimbabwe, in particular the struggle for democracy
of our society as well as in Zimbabwe.
We’ve had a ten year crisis of lack of democracy, tyranny and
authoritarianism so the question is what lessons can we learn from other
ordinary people on our continent in terms of fighting for democracy.
Especially taking into account the fact that we are in a constitutional
process which is designed to create a constitutional and democratic
government. So it was a lecture, it was a meeting, a consciousness-raising
exercise amongst forces of ordinary people, the left and working people.
Guma: Now in terms of the way the meeting was disrupted, we were told
everyone in the building was arrested including those who were just in the
building, who were not taking part in the meeting. You were made to line up
at the Harare Central (police station) car park and somebody was pinpointing
the alleged ring leaders and we understand you took some rough treatment as
the alleged ring leaders of this particular meeting. Just briefly talk us
through what you went through.
Gwisai: Yah after watching a video which was a video made out of transmits
from Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC and so forth – very public material – people were
discussing that, that is when police moved in. But as the magistrate pointed
out, magistrate Mutevedzi and one of the reasons why 39 of the 45 who were
originally accused, were released and the magistrate refused to place them
on remand was the reason that this was a bamba zonke exercise where any and
everyone who was in the complex at Cross Roads House was picked up and
So that was that and then including some vendors who were selling their
things outside but obviously what then also transpired once we went to court
is that the police had placed a spy in, they’d placed a plant in the meeting
who was then pointing out the people who are alleged to have been speaking
at the meeting and these are the few people who were brutally assaulted on
the Saturday and the Sunday that we were arrested, the 19 th and 20 th of
When there was people like Hopewell Gumbo the former president of the
Zimbabwe National Students Union, people like Welcome the current deputy
General Secretary of ZINASU as well as others from the ISO including myself,
Tafadzwa Choto and Tatenda Mombeyarara. So these were some of the people who
were picked up for severe and serious assault once we were in police hands.
Guma: I covered this story and the one thing that stood out was the great
lengths to which the state went towards delaying; at one time the magistrate
didn’t show up, we were told he had a meeting with the Chief Justice and at
every turn excuses were brought up. While you were locked up, were you aware
this was what was happening in terms of the regime throwing spanners in the
Gwisai: Yeh, our lawyer Alec Muchadehama gave us constant updates as well as
his team of assistants including Mandevere and Edzai Matika from the
Zimbabwe Labour Centre but obviously, and some of it was happening just
right in front of our eyes. We were able to see that clearly, delaying this,
in order to prolong pre-trial pain was one of the objectives of this. But
look, we as people who are confident of our position and so forth, it did
not break our spirits and our resolve.
Guma: We have a question from Edina who sent us an email from Mutare, they
want to know from your own assessment how did you rate the sort of
solidarity you received from the broader civil society, the political
parties and everyone else involved in the pro-democracy movement?
Gwisai: Well every time we were in court we had quite a lot of people who
were coming through as well as outside the court, many organisations, many
civic groups gave us support in Zimbabwe, including but obviously not
limited to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights which has provided us the
We’ve also had support from those who were able to look after many of our
comrades who are positive and who needed drugs and things like that. The
CSU, the Crisis Coalition was also quite supportive, the ZCTU, the unions
but we are quite inspired I must say by the support that we received
internationally, regionally I think which continues up to this day, to the
various solidarity marches we had in South Africa, Australia, America, the
What it shows is the struggle against dictatorship, the struggle against
tyranny is now an international affair. Dictators can no longer hide under
their legal perches and say this is my country, I do what I want. It is this
spirit of international solidarity that is going to break the resolve and
stubbornness of every dictator on this continent.
So we would want to really commend the various working people, the
socialists, trade unionists who have supported this struggle because it’s a
struggle for all in the sense of building a better world and a better
society out there and we would want to continue urging people to make this
level of support, to continue with it as we move towards trial but also
generally in terms.
We hear the sad news of the 82 year old headman who was charged along with
(Douglas) Mwonzora who has died from wounds received from his assault so we
have to continue with this solidarity and with this fight. And indeed as we
know, events in Tunisia it was Mohammed Bouazizi who started it but this was
able to spread regionally precisely because the ordinary people of the world
today are able to offer each other solidarity and move forward.
So we really wish to thank the various individuals, organisations, I not
mentioned some, all of them here who stood with us and we hope that they
continue standing with us because this trial is on and the issue of lack of
democracy and dictatorship remains a real issue in our society.
Guma: I just want to pick on one issue that in a previous interview with
Hopewell Gumbo he raised where on one occasion you were taken on what was
called a honeymoon drive through Rhodesville or some other suburb and
ostensibly this was because Finance Minister Tendai Biti had come over to
try and visit you. Can you talk us through that?
Gwisai: Yah I wouldn’t know whether it was thing, but definitely they were
going to move us, we were not told where but rumours were saying they were
going to move us to Chikurubi but fortunately at that very moment Tendai
Biti arrived and that is part of also the solidarity we received, we
appreciate the solidarity that was offered by people like Biti and Nelson
So whether or not they had any nefarious plans up their sleeves which they
were then afraid to put into action because there was a high ranking
official of the government, we don’t know but that’s what, yah they took us
around and eventually brought us back.
But still you must know that two, three days later, they pushed us back into
solitary confinement at the prison, at the Harare prison so their effort was
obviously clearly aimed at trying to break our spirits and to divide us but
luckily that did not succeed.
Guma: From Masvingo we have a listener who calls himself Mr Dube – his
question is basically an update on what’s the latest regarding this matter?
He’s saying are you still facing treason charges?
Gwisai: We’ve just come from court; we were in for remand today; we now have
been placed for trial on the 18 th of July. That’s when the matter will come
for trial. According to the prosecutor the matter is going to be before the
regional magistrate court but our lawyer has already pointed out that that
doesn’t make sense because the regional magistrate court does not have
jurisdiction under the Magistrate Court Act specifically Section 49 thereof
to try treason matters or matters that carry a death sentence or anything
beyond ten years because the maximum jurisdiction of a regional magistrate
is ten years, as far as I understand the law and I don’t really think it has
So this could either be one of those delaying tactics again or if it is
going to be before a regional magistrate then it would have to mean that it
is no longer a treason matter, but then there’s need to formally advise the
court. So given what has been happening, we hope that’s not one of the
We, are far as we’re concerned and what the prosecutor said is that the
treason charges still stand as well as the subversion of a constitutional
government charge so it that’s an issue that still remains: 18 th July in
Harare and we hope that all democrats and those who support real change will
come to support us at court on that day because it is only by showing that
the people of Zimbabwe are not intimidated and that they are not going to
cower under and go under the carpet, that is what is going to ensure that we
bring democracy to our society.
It is the constitutional, the legal and fundamental right of citizens to be
governed by a democratic political authority and that is why thousands of
people lost their lives in the liberation war, that is why we took on the
colonial regime to ensure that our governance is based on the true will of
the people and that people are not faced with treason for merely watching a
video. So we are looking forward to the 18 th of July because we believe we
have no case to answer but obviously that’s for the courts to decide.
Guma: From Gokwe comes a text message from Noel. Noel wants to find out,
given what you went through, what’s your attitude to the current coalition
or unity government?
Gwisai: Well look, what we’ve gone through is nothing in isolation. I’ve
already given the example of what Mwonzora is facing, the co-chairperson of
COPAC and they treat him the way they have, and an 82 year old headman, this
is what our society has come to – no respect for the elderly, no respect for
I think we currently have a minister in charge of Reconciliation, National
Healing again being arrested for very similar things for holding a meeting,
so I think what it shows is that this is not an inclusive government at all.
This is just a dress-up for continuation of the old dictatorship and
authoritarian regime and that the struggle for democracy in this country has
to continue and that hopefully colleagues in that, indeed I think in many
ways if we’d not had this kind of thing, the struggle for democracy would
have travelled much further than what we have now.
What has allowed, what has happened in the last two years is that this
pretence that things are changing has in many ways delayed change but be
that as it may, the reality is that the people are suffering; thousands of
workers have lost their jobs, prices of basic goods have gone down, millions
of young people do not have jobs.
This government is only really serving the interests of the wealthy, the
rich and the business people. This is why therefore when you talk of
government civil servants, they take their instructions from the IMF and the
World Bank which has instructed that there should be no pay increment for
teachers, for our nurses but what we know is that the rich are able to
charge prices that they want, you go into the streets of Harare, you see the
kind of vehicles that they drive, you look at the kind of salaries that top
managers are earning and so forth.
So it’s not yet uhuru for ordinary people, economically or politically and
what must therefore be clear is that I think it is important for people to
accelerate, we must be inspired by events that are happening across north
Africa, across Africa, to move forward and now finally push for a true
democratic transformation of our society politically as well as
So I hope that the colleagues in the GNU must not fool themselves to think
that they’ve got real change. They must be ready to be at the forefront of
the struggle, they must be ready to go into the trenches. If it means that
people are being arrested and being taken, filling the jails – so be it –
because democracy and true independence for working people is a costly
thing, it’s not going to come on a silver platter.
So as we move to the new constitution, if it does not bring about provisions
that allow real change, that bring an end to a dictatorial executive
president, that does not bring about socio-economic rights, labour rights,
living wage for workers, the right to strike, inputs and land for farmers
and so forth, we must have the guts and courage to be able to fight for
And as we move to elections we must be ready to defend the people’s right in
elections, the people’s will and not just accept the imposition of a leader.
So it is a very important time for our people, the major political party in
this country, the MDC-T will be holding a Congress very soon and we hope
that they use that as an occasion to build their forces and that the
ordinary people use it as a basis for ensuring that we fight for real change
in our society.
So it’s a very crucial critical time for our society. Dictators across
Africa and the world are on notice now that they will not be able to get
away with butchering their people, with imposing their will. So we hope that
the struggle for change can only move forward. Its aluta continua as far we’re
concerned in the ISO.
Guma: Well Zimbabwe that concludes part one of our interview with Munyaradzi
Gwisai, the leader of the International Socialist Organization in Zimbabwe.
The former MDC MP is one of six activists facing treason charges for
addressing a meeting at which video footage of protests in Egypt and Tunisia
Don’t forget to join me next week for part two of this interview.
Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org http://twitter.com/lanceguma
SW Radio Africa is Zimbabwe’s Independent Voice and broadcasts on Short Wave
4880 KHz in the 60m band.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, 21/04/11
Britain would be justified to withdraw the Royal wedding invitation that has
been extended to a representative of Robert Mugabe’s regime as the Evening
Standard has revealed. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know
that rights abuses are continuing in Zimbabwe in the wake of distressing
press reports that despite SADC rebuke, Zanu-pf violence against opposition
supporters has not stopped.
Of particular concern is the tragic death on Saturday 16th April of Rwisai
Nyakauru, the 82 year-old headman of Nyamaropa who was arrested, brutally
assaulted, tortured and incarcerated for 25 days by Zanu-pf youth militia
and war veterans. His attackers allegedly kicked him all over the body
especially the chest area and when he got to prison he was very sick and at
one time collapsed vomiting blood, according to Douglas Mwonzora, MDC-T MP
for Nyanga North who was imprisoned alongside him and 23 other villagers
(Swradioafrica, 18/04/11). As if that is not enough, the thugs who assaulted
Nyakauru are allegedly taunting villagers in Nyanga about his death and the
assailants are roaming free in accordance with the culture of impunity.
It would be in very bad taste for Britain to ignore protest voices of
Zimbabwe’s human rights activists and civil society. International isolation
of Mugabe’s regime has proved effective in getting political reforms albeit
a case of too little, too late.
It could be argued that the justification of the invitation by Britain that
it has diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe is a lame excuse for wanting to
warm up to dictator Robert Mugabe who has threatened to seize UK businesses
in retaliation to targeted sanctions slapped on him and his inner circle for
Another disturbing development suggesting a thawing of relations with the
Mugabe regime is the curving in of the UK and the US on the ban of the sale
of Marange ‘blood’ diamonds. It remains to be seen whether the West lifted
the KPC ban as a concession to the threatened company seizures or to
catch-up with China which has launched a massive ‘investment’ campaign in
the country before it’s too late.
One hopes Western countries will not use the excuse of Mugabe's
anti-sanctions petition as another convenient opportunity to appease the
regime by lifting targeted sanctions before internationally supervised, free
and fair elections are conducted in Zimbabwe after a referendum on a new
It does not require a UN resolution for the Right Honourable William Hague,
the British Foreign Secretary to withdraw the invitation to the royal
wedding. It is not too late to act. It would be a great symbolic gesture of
solidarity with the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, civil society organisations in Zimbabwe would be justified in
launching a protest demonstration at the British Embassy in Harare should
the invitation not be revoked. Similarly, the Vigil outside the Zimbabwe
High Commission in London against the invitation is justified too.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,