By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2:06 AM
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s prime minister said Wednesday that the nation’s
“bad and poisonous politics” have held back recovery and investment in the
Morgan Tsvangirai said the three-year coalition government “has bickered
more than it has collaborated” to spur economic growth. He also is a sharp
critic of a zealous black empowerment program by President Robert Mugabe’s
Mugabe’s party has vowed to seize 51 percent control for blacks of foreign
and white-owned businesses. Tsvangirai, visiting a trade exposition in the
second city of Bulawayo, said discord and “toxic” policies over the control
of businesses frightened off investors willing to rebuild collapsed
industries and power and other utilities.
A decade of economic meltdown followed seizures of thousands of white-owned
Tsvangirai said traveling across the country was “a sorry sight — closed
factories, old equipment, retrenched workers and ghost towns have been the
story of Zimbabwe.”
He said his party opposes any policies that lead to job losses and send the
wrong message to potential investors.
He wanted benefits to go to all Zimbabweans through improved business
confidence and direct foreign investment. He said he wanted “machinations”
by a minority in taking over foreign firms to end.
“The basis for establishing international confidence in our economy is sound
economic management,” Tsvangirai told business leaders in Bulawayo.
Mugabe’s party insists the black empowerment program — and farm seizures
that saw prime properties handed out to loyalists and cronies that still lie
idle — is to correct colonial-era imbalances in the ownership of land,
minerals and natural resources.
Zimbabwe is a former regional breadbasket that now is heavily indebted and
depends on food imports.
In Bulawayo alone, once the nation’s industrial heartland of steel,
engineering and railroad plants, 80 large businesses have recently closed
down with the loss of at least 20,000 jobs, Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai said economic reconstruction needs to be underpinned by peace and
stability, a return to the rule of law and the protection of property
ownership rights. He acknowledged his party lacks powers in the coalition to
implement its visions for development and renewal of the country’s former
status as a jewel of the region envied by many.
Mugabe has called for elections this year to end the coalition.
“Only a legitimately elected government and not a coalition ... can deal
with the massive unemployment and poverty that Zimbabwe currently faces, “
By Tichaona Sibanda
25 April 2012
A deadlock on three contentious issues contained in the draft constitution
remains, with no sign of an agreement emerging.
MDC-T MP and co-chairman of COPAC, Douglas Mwonzora, confirmed to SW Radio
Africa on Tuesday that discussions in the last few weeks have ended with no
The issues in dispute are dual citizenship, devolution and the structure of
the executive. Last week the president of the smaller formation of the MDC,
Welshman Ncube, said the three principals had failed to break the
constitutional logjam and called on South African President Jacob Zuma to
However, Mwonzora said they will wait for the management committee, which
comprises chief negotiators from the three political parties in the unity
government, to meet again and look at the outstanding issues.
“One of the problems we have been facing is that members of the management
committee have been busy with government commitments and have been outside
the country in the last week. I understand they are all back now and we hope
they’ll meet soon,” Mwonzora said.
Blessing Vava, the information officer for the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), said an alternative approach to resolve the deadlock would
be to publish views received during the outreach program on the issues in
“As the NCA we have always said the draft Constitution should reflect the
people’s views as captured during the outreach program. Every party involved
with the new constitution has said the same and so we are saying let’s not
divert from the views of the people,” Vava said.
He added: “Let’s go back to what people said and see what they said about
devolution, dual citizenship and structure of the Executive. As it is, the
stalemate confirms our fears that the new constitution will not reflect the
wishes of Zimbabweans, but of the politicians.”
Vava said he hopes the new constitution will guarantee human rights,
strengthen the role of parliament and curtail the president’s powers, as
well as guaranteeing civil, political and media freedoms.
Harare, April 25, 2012 - The three principals in the inclusive government on
Tuesday gave the parliamentary committee leading the constitution making
exercise up to next week to produce a draft of the supreme law.
According to a statement issued by Media, Information and Publicity minister
Webster Shamu, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said the position was taken at a
“The principals directed that the Minister of Constitutional and
Parliamentary Affairs, Advocate Eric Matinenga should work closely with both
the Select Committee and the Management Committee in order to conclude the
drafting process by next week so as to deliver the draft constitution to the
principals,” Shamu said.
“Advocate Matinenga was directed to brief Cabinet regularly on progress in
the constitution making process. Cabinet unanimously agreed with the
He said the three complained about the delay in concluding the constitution
making process by both the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee
(COPAC) and the Management Committee.
Shamu added they also “expressed concern at the failure by both the Select
Committee and the Management Committee to brief the principals on any
challenges they may be facing in the constitution making process.”
Mugabe told the Zanu (PF) central committee last month that if the
referendum on the new constitution was not held by May, he would announce a
date for the new elections.
Following increasing reports of people being unable to register to vote, the
Election Resource Centre did a quick assessment of accessibility to voter
registration in Harare. It says its findings “point to a very disturbing
pattern in the voter registration process”.
by Staff Reporter
The Electoral Act says voter registration must be conducted continuously,
but the ERC receives numerous reports of registration centres being closed.
The ERC found that some registration centres, like Hatfield, were closed and
officials gave unsatisfactory reasons to the effect that the registration
process had not yet started.
It also found inconsistencies in the provision of services, with most
centres allocating an average of four hours a day for the process –
frustrating potential registrants who are often forced to wait for long
“The voter registration exercise is treated as a peripheral issue in the
centres visited,” says the report.
ERC also discovered an emerging pattern of vote buying through housing
cooperatives. “Those responsible for allocating land demand the intended
beneficiaries to be registered voters first. This exposes potential voters
to manipulation by certain political parties and threatens their freedom of
choice and association,” it said.
The assessment also established that access to registration services was at
times administered in a partisan manner with suspected supporters of some
political parties and young people facing frustrating hurdles when
attempting to register.
Mabvuku - obscurely located at Chizhanje Village, poor road linkages
worsened by lack of clear information highlighting the availability of voter
Kuwadzana - right next to a Zanu (PF) office. Potential registrants
prominently see a ZANU (PF) sign on the building before realizing the
existence of a registration centre - potentially discourages and inculcates
fear in registrants.
The election management body, ZEC, and the Registrar are mandated to provide
unhindered access to registration to all potential voters. The ERC urged
them to ensure that continuous registration of voters is possible at all
designated centres and that centres are situated at accessible, neutral
By Alex Bell
25 April 2012
Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has confirmed fears of
ongoing military involvement in the country’s diamond industry, which human
rights campaigners have for years linked to abuses in the Chiadzwa diamonds
Mnangagwa reportedly told an audience at Midlands State University in Gweru
that army deals were struck with diamond companies from China, Russia and
other nations as part of efforts to counter Western targeted sanctions. He
said the trade deals “to a large extent, stabilises industry and eliminates
chances of internal economic sabotage.”
Mnangagwa, widely believed to be the chosen ZANU PF successor when Robert
Mugabe dies, has always denied succession claims. But according to analyst
Clifford Mashiri, his admitted involvement in the diamond industry puts him
in a strong position to ensure his place in the power hierarchy. Mashiri
said the profits from the militarised diamond trade would ensure a ZANU PF
victory, with Mnangagwa holding the reins of power.
Mashiri meanwhile said there is little surprise that China and Russia have
been linked to the Zimbabwean army, saying it justifies concerns already
raised about their dealings in the local diamond industry. Russia is
believed to be forging ahead with mining activities in Chimanimani, after
forming a joint venture company with the Development Trust of Zimbabwe,
another ZANU PF stronghold.
In 2010 it emerged that Robert Mugabe’s loyal security forces and the
equally notorious Chinese People’s Liberation Army, had entered into a
diamonds-for-arms deal, with millions of dollars worth of industrial
diamonds being mined and airlifted to China. The stones, which are not pure
enough for commercial sale, are believed to be flown directly out of
Chiadzwa where an airstrip was built in 2009. In return Zimbabwe’s military
is said to be given weapons to keep propping up Mugabe’s regime.
The deal between Zimbabwe and China was reportedly set up by General
Constantine Chiwenga, A senior intelligence chief who was quoted by the UK
Daily Mail after an undercover investigation, said that weapons supplied by
the Chinese were being handed out to the military in preparation for a
brutal new crackdown against Mugabe’s opponents. As well as paying a share
of the diamond profits to Mugabe’s regime, he confirmed that China has
agreed to supply military hardware to Zimbabwe. The official said: “Beijing
supplies weapons to us, and we allow them to mine diamonds.”
The military involvement in Chiadzwa has for years been raised as a major
area of concern, so much so that the demilitarisation of the diamond fields
was listed as a key requirement before the country was allowed to resume
This was stipulated by the trade watchdog grouping, the Kimberley Process
(KP), who have, nonetheless, given Zimbabwe the green light to resume sales.
This is despite ongoing concerns about human rights abuses and rampant
Analyst Mashiri meanwhile told SW Radio Africa that the 2008 ‘clean-up’
operation at the Chiadzwa diamond mines must be used as an example of what
happens when the military is involved. That operation, codenamed Operation
Hakudzokwi (no return), resulted in the deaths of hundreds of diamond
panners and secured the military grip on the area. No investigation has ever
been launched into the deaths there, or reports that the military’s control
led to forced labour and abuse.
“You can seen why the military involvement is such a disturbing issue
because their operations are so brutal,” Mashiri said.
By Staff Reporter 2 hours 32 minutes ago
HARARE - The Israeli pilot, Shmuel Kainan Klein, who was facing charges of
smuggling 1300 diamond pieces worth US$2 million, has been acquitted for
lack of su
Klein was facing charges of unlawful possession of diamonds and contravening
Section 12 (1) of the Immigration Act Chapter 4:02, which criminalises entry
Handing down the ruling, the presiding magistrate, Mr Clever Tsikwa noted
that all evidence presented failed to prove that the accused was illegally
He further indicated that the state had failed to prove its case beyond a
reasonable doubt hence it would be unfair to put the accused to his defence
as it is the onus of the state to prove its allegation.
Meanwhile, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Dan Shacham, Israel’s non-resident
ambassador to Africa, President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe, who is considered one of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s
closest associates, has been slapped with harsh sanctions by Egypt and the
European Union for grave human rights violations and “blood diamond” trade.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor noted that the ambassador was aware
of the sensitive timing of their meeting and therefore invited the Zimbabwe
Jewish community’s rabbi, Moshe Silberhaft, to the credentials ceremony.
“Throughout the ceremony, the two told President Mugabe of the special
meaning of Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the latter even discussed the
matter in great lengths,” said Palmor.
Zimbabwe’s Jewish community is made up of only 250 people, after most
members of the community left the country in the 1980s after its
independent, when white residents were harassed by Mugabe’s regime. On the
eve of Yom Kippur in 2003, the central synagogue of Bulawayo was torched in
an anti-Semitic attack.
In an interview with the local magazine of Zimbabwe’s Jewish community,
Silberhaft said the subject of Holocaust Memorial Day indeed came up at the
meeting, and that he himself informed Mugabe that the government does not
interfere with the lives of the country’s Jewish community, which is given
free exercise of religion.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
25 April 2012
The High Court on Wednesday set aside a ruling by a traditional chief, who
had imposed a fine on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after accusing him of
breaking traditional laws by marrying in the month of November last year.
Chief Luscious Chitsinde Negomo of Chiweshe was attempting to attach
Tsvangirai’s property from his Harare residence, but the judgment by High
Court Judge Bharat Patel said Negomo’s ruling was “null and void”.
Chief Negomo, who is known to be loyal to ZANU PF, accused the MDC-T leader
of marrying Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo in November last year, saying
traditional laws forbid this. Tsvangirai dismissed the chief’s interference
and insisted he had paid “damages” but had not married.
Negomo demanded a fine of two cattle, two sheep, a piece of cloth and a ball
of snuff , then attempted to attach Tsvangirai’s property, despite the fact
that the Prime Minister does not even come from the Chief’s area.
The case ended up in the magistrates courts in Bindura where conflicting
verdicts were handed down by magistrates on two different occasions. It was
finally referred to the High Court earlier this month.
“Chief Negomo’s uncalled for actions have put the important role played by
traditional leaders into disrepute after he allowed ZANU PF to use him in an
attempt to tarnish President Tsvangirai’s image,” the MDC-T said in a
statement after the ruling.
Harare, April 25, 2012 – Zambian President Michael Sata is expected to touch
down in Harare on Wednesday afternoon to officially open Zimbabwe's premier
trade show in Bulawayo on Friday.
Officials from the ministry of media, information and publicity, said in a
statement Tuesday, Sata would make a stop- over in Harare to meet President
Robert Mugabe before proceeding to the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair
There will be state banquet at State House in his honour on Wednesday
evening before the Zambian president leaves for Bulawayo on Thursday
together with Mugabe.
Meanwhile South Africa’s Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Elizabeth
Thabethe, on Tuesday urged companies in her country to invest in Zimbabwe
which she described as 'a leading and key strategic partner’ in Southern
Thabethe said at the launch of South Africa’s pavilion at ZITF:
“Zimbabwe presents a developing market for a wide range of goods and
services, such as mining, retail food and beverages, construction,
agro-processing, chemicals, banking, medical services, hotels and leisure.
South Africa is strategically placed to do business with Zimbabweans in
Businesses pleaded with the power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (ZESA), to shelve power cuts during the trade showcase to woo
“Investors need assurance that their businesses would not be affected once
they pour in their money," said Obert Sibanda, the former chairperson of the
Zimbabwe national Chamber of Commerce,in an interview.
Thirteen foreign countries are exhibiting at this year’s trade showcase with
China as the largest exhibitor. The Chinese have also organised an
investment seminar with locals to identify viable investment projects.
The Asian country is one of the major sources of foreign direct investment
(FDI) for Zimbabwe and has one of the fastest growing economies.
Masvingo, April 25, 2012 – Germany Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Hans Guenter
Gnodkte, on Tuesday said German and the European Union (EU) will not
consider total removal of sanctions before free and fair elections are held.
Gnodkte who was speaking to journalists in Masvingo, after donating
literature books to Great Zimbabwe University, said Germany was very
optimistic about reforms underway and remained committed in the country’s
“I don’t want to speak about travel restrictions because thus not what I
came here to do but in brief, I am sure there will be no removal of those
travel bans before a free and fair election is held in Zimbabwe,” said
The books will support the university’s African Language department which
has just introduced the German language.
Gnodkte said he attached a lot of value to the university’s programme which
had opened ways for other co-operations such as cultural exchanges.
Great Zimbabwe University Vice Chancellor, Professor Obert Maravanyika, said
the relationship between his institution and the Germany Embassy would help
students overcome language barriers.
24 April 2012
Gibbs Dube | Washington
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti says the government has granted
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu a license to run the struggling state-controlled
Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group.
Biti told reporters in Washington that Mpofu is expected to start operating
the bank as soon as all the payments are made to the government.
The bank had been struggling to raise the minimum $12.5 million
capitalization required by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
ZABG, reserve bank officials and the board of the central bank confirmed
that Mpofu has bought the commercial bank for $10 million. Minister Mpofu
declined to comment.
Biti said Zimbabweans willing to venture into the banking sector should
approach his ministry.
But economist John Robertson immediately questioned Mpofu’s source of funds
and his ability to run the bank.
“People venturing into the banking sector must be fit and proper and in this
case since the ZABG buyer is a government minister, it raises a lot of
questions,” said Robertson.
Zimbabwe has 23 commercial banks with at least three of them owned by
According to the Zimbabwe Banking Act, individuals are expected to have a 25
percent shareholding in such banks.
By Alex Bell
25 April 2012
A strike by council workers in Bulawayo entered its third day on Wednesday,
after attempts to resolve the dispute over unpaid wages failed.
Workers, including striking workers include nurses, staff from the ambulance
services and even gravediggers, have been on strike since Monday saying they
have not been paid for four months.
On Tuesday, a negotiating team met with the workers trying to come to some
agreement on the way forward. But those talks collapse, and the sit in by
hundreds of the striking workers outside Revenue Hall continued Wednesday.
The workers claim that they have not been paid for four months now and that
the council owes them over $700 000, which consists of four months wages and
allowances. They’ve insisted that they will continue their strike until
their demands are met. Officials from the council meanwhile have complained
that the workers did not give them notice of the industrial action, which
has left council operations paralysed.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme reported that Bulawayo Mayor
Thaba Moyo was due to meet the workers sometime on Wednesday to try and
negotiate a way forward. But Saungweme said Moyo was only a “ceremonial
mayor,” with little power to meet the workers’ demands.
Saungweme also reported that tension is rising among the workers, who he
said are furious that the MDC-T led council spent millions on cars for
officials in the City. The council reportedly received a multimillion dollar
loan from Kingdom bank last year to help pay salaries for its workers.
But, instead, about $4.5 million from the loan was reportedly used to
purchase the cars.
“The strike is getting a lot of attention and today (Wednesday) there was an
army official taking pictures and documenting what was happening. The strike
will have a serious affect on the different social amenities in the city so
it’s not surprising that it has drawn the attention of the arm,” Saungweme
By Tererai Karimakwenda
25 April 2012
The Prime Minister has pledged increased support for struggling businesses
in areas that are distressed, particularly those in Matabeleland province
where relocations and closures have intensified.
Speaking at the opening of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he had toured many “ghost towns” and seen
old equipment, retrenched workers and towns with closed companies that need
to be resuscitated.
The Prime Minister’s comments come a day after civic society and labour
groups from Matabeleland province met in Bulawayo to discuss the critical
lack of development funds and how the government’s Distressed and
Marginalised Areas Fund (DiMAF) was ignoring Bulawayo.
Talking about Bulawayo Tsvangirai said: “In this town alone, 80 companies
were closed, leaving 20,000 workers jobless. I am aware of the concerns from
various stakeholders regarding the disbursement of this money and I pledge
to ensure that this money is immediately disbursed for its intended
The groups, including Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, National
Constitutional Assembly and Zimbabwe Election Support Network, resolved to
pressure government to channel to Bulawayo most of the $40 million that had
been set aside for distressed areas, because the majority of the money
disbursed so far had ignored the region.
Tsvangirai said he would make sure there was more emphasis on assisting
companies in Bulawayo and other underdeveloped areas. The groups that met on
Tuesday said they would be demanding that a representative from the ZCTU be
appointed to the DiMAF committee. They also plan to organise demonstrations,
if Harare continues to be the main focus of government’s development plans.
By LYDIA POLGREEN
Published: April 24, 2012
HARARE, Zimbabwe — When Zimbabweans say they are waiting for change, they
are usually talking about politics. After all, the country has had the same
leader since 1980.
But these days, Robson Madzumbara spends a lot of time quite literally
waiting around for change. Pocket change, that is. He waits for it at
supermarkets, on the bus, at the vegetable stall he runs and just about
anywhere he buys or sells anything.
“We never have enough change,” he said, manning the vegetable stall he has
run for the past two decades. “Change is a big problem in Zimbabwe.”
For years, Zimbabwe was infamous for the opposite problem: mind-boggling
inflation. Trips to the supermarket required ridiculous boxloads of cash. By
January 2009, the country was churning out bills worth 100 trillion
Zimbabwean dollars, which were soon so worthless they would not buy a loaf
of bread (the notes now circulate on eBay, as gag gifts).
But since Zimbabwe started using the United States dollar as its currency in
2009, it has run into a surprising quandary. Once worth too little, money in
Zimbabwe is now worth too much.
“For your average Zimbabwean, a dollar is a lot of money,” said Tony
Hawkins, an economist at the University of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans call it “the coin problem.” Simply put, the country hardly has
any. Coins are heavy, making them expensive to ship here. But in a nation
where millions of people live on a dollar or two a day, trying to get every
transaction to add up to a whole dollar has proved a national headache.
Still, the new predicament is an improvement. By virtually wiping out
inflation, analysts say, use of the United States dollar saved Zimbabwe from
total economic collapse and brought the country back from the brink. The
country’s political future remains deeply unsettled since the disputed 2008
election gave way to a shaky power-sharing government. But its economy is
growing, if from a very low base.
Zimbabweans have devised a variety of solutions to get around the change
problem, none of them entirely satisfactory. At supermarkets, impulse
purchases have become almost compulsory. When the total is less than a
dollar, the customer is offered candy, a pen or matches to make up the
difference. Some shops offer credit slips, a kind of scrip that has begun to
But for small merchants who sell handfuls of tomatoes, onions and lemons to
poor people, customers may not always have the luxury of buying a dollar’s
worth of merchandise.
Christine Mhalanga, 27, a hospital orderly, went to buy tomatoes from Evelyn
Chikandiwa, who runs another vegetable stall. She selected a stack of
tomatoes and some onions for stew. Mercifully, her purchase was exactly a
dollar because Ms. Chikandiwa had no coins in her gingham apron to break any
“I already had to buy clothespins I don’t need today,” Ms. Mhalanga said. “A
dollar is a lot of money for me. I need every bit of it. Trust me.”
According to the United States Federal Reserve, at least five countries have
officially adopted the United States dollar as their currency. Several more,
like Zimbabwe, use it almost exclusively but hold on to a national currency,
even if it is not in circulation.
But United States coins seldom circulate more than 100 miles beyond the
country’s borders because of their weight and high shipping costs.
Most countries that use the dollar get around this problem by minting local
coins: Ecuador uses the dollar as legal tender but mints centavo coins. The
government guarantees that anyone who wants to exchange 100 Ecuadorean
centavos for a genuine United States dollar can do so.
But that requires confidence in the local government, something that is in
even shorter supply here than coins. Zimbabweans say they want no legal
tender issued by their government.
“I won’t accept any Zimbabwean money,” said Ms. Chikandiwa, the vegetable
seller, who saw her life savings wiped out by hyperinflation. Back then, the
value of the currency dropped so fast that prices for milk, cigarettes,
sugar and flour would change by the hour, if not the minute. These days, Ms.
Chikandiwa keeps all her earnings in cash, not trusting her precious dollars
to the bank. “We can’t trust these people,” she said, referring to the
Many Zimbabweans use coins from neighboring South Africa. But that presents
its own difficulties. South African coins — the currency is the rand — are
in short supply. Complicating matters, the rand, like most currencies,
fluctuates against the dollar, making prices tough to fix.
Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s finance minister and a senior politician in the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said that he had tried, to no
avail, to find a solution.
“We have been seeking help from the Fed in the States, but we haven’t got a
lot of joy,” he said, an edge of frustration seeping into his voice.
Supermarket cashiers are frustrated, too, and they devise their own ways to
defuse the tension. Every transaction is a miniature drama of anticipation,
annoyance and negotiation. The shopper tries to add up purchases to avoid
needing change. And at the register, shoppers must make up their minds on
how to compensate for failure.
As Lydia Zhuwawu worked the cash register at the Classic Supermarket in
Harare during the evening rush this week, she tried to size up her customers
to guess what they might accept in lieu of change.
A basket full of tomatoes and onions comes to $2.80. Ms. Zhuwawu has two
well-worn singles for the $5 note, but no nickels or dimes.
“Sorry, no change,” Ms. Zhuwawu said, waving a hand at her assortment of
The customer chooses a packet of four aspirin, 5 cents apiece.
Next up: a customer with $3.90 worth of groceries. Ms. Zhuwawu offers up a
steel bottle opener.
“This is for 10 cents?” the customer asks, wearily. She takes it.
With single dollar bills in heavy rotation, they tend to suffer a lot of
wear and tear. Many are filthy — almost black. Ms. Zhuwawu takes note of the
cleanliness of the legal tender each customer hands her. Two-dollar bills,
rare in the United States, circulate widely here.
Most people, she said, have a sense of humor about the problem. After all
that Zimbabwe has been through, it is not that big a burden, she said. It is
A man comes in to buy staples. A box is 30 cents; he has only a dollar. Her
change drawer is empty.
“Just take it,” Ms. Zhuwawu said. “It’s your lucky day. Nothing is free in
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
The MDC applauds the decision made by the Cabinet on Tuesday instructing the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to immediately start moving grain to deficit
areas in the country.
The grain loan scheme directive comes at an opportune time when most parts
of the country are facing severe food shortages due to drought.
However, as a party, we demand that the grain be distributed to every needy
citizen with impartiality.
Already, there are reports in most parts of the country that some officials
at the State-run GMB and traditional chiefs are working with Zanu PF members
in denying deserving people grain, as they are not supporters of the former
We demand an immediate stop to this. There should be no opaqueness and
exclusion in the allocation and distribution of the grain loan.
The inclusive government should give the mandate of distributing grain to
councillors at the ward level since they have the mandate to represent the
people at a local level.
The MDC further demands that GMB officials be professional when handling the
grain loan distribution amid reports that Cabinet was forced to call for
full investigation on how agricultural inputs were distributed at GMB depots
in the 2011/12 farming season after reports of massive looting by Zanu PF
politicians at the expense of villagers who were the targeted beneficiaries
of the scheme. Those found guilty of abusing the facility should face the
wrath of the law.
In addition, Zanu PF has over the years manipulated the operations of GMB
for political gain and has gambled with people’s lives.
Every Zimbabwean has a right to food and it is the mandate of the government
to ensure this right is met and people must demand it.
The people’s struggle for real change – Let’s finish it!!!
MDC Information & Publicity Department
24 April 2012
Blessing Zulu & Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington
Zimbabwe's cabinet was on Tuesday pre-occupied with the unfolding hunger
crisis in the country following complaints by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's MDC formation that most needy families were being denied food
aid by ZANU-PF activists.
The MDC says the situation in most rural communities is becoming untenable
with allegations that President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party activists were
politicizing food aid ahead of elections that Mr. Mugabe wants this year.
After intense debate, the cabinet mandated its task force on food security
to ensure there is no politicization of food aid on the ground as details
emerged the food crisis had also been underestimated.
Reports also indicate that ZANU-PF officials are using food aid to lure
voters in their on-going restructuring exercise that has seen district
coordinating committee elections being called around the country.
Some officials in the agriculture ministry and rights groups have also
alleged that ZANU-PF officials are hijacking maize from the Grain Marketing
Board that is meant for the poor and giving it to their supporters.
The task force is expected to report back to cabinet as soon as it finishes
its probe in the communities.
Two weeks ago cabinet resolved to declare five provinces disaster areas
following a disastrous farming season. These are Manicaland, Masvingo,
Midlands and the two Matebeleland provinces.
But technical staff on the ground say hunger is wide spread, adding cities
like Harare may need to import more food to avert shortages.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made told the state media early this month that
nearly 45 percent of the maize crop that was planted this farming season is
a complete write-off.
The country needs at least 2.2 million tonnes of maize to feed itself
annually but Made said Harare currently has only 400,000 tonnes of maize
Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC formation of Prime Minister Tsvangirai
told VOA's Jonga Kandemiiri his party took the matter to cabinet because it
was concerned some families were suffering due to the politicization of food
aid, adding such reports were growing by the day.
ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo dismissed the MDC claims as cheap propaganda.
But political analyst Trevor Maisiri says ZANU-PF has a long history of
abusing food aid.
Harare, April 25, 2012 - Vice President Joice Mujuru at one time exploded to
President Robert Mugabe as she tried to emphasise to him she was independent
of her husband, the late Solomon Mujuru, latest Wikileaks cables show.
This was disclosed by Central bank governor Gideon Gono during private
discussions with former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher
“Gono maintained Mugabe had personally disclosed to Gono his doubts about
Vice-President Joice Mujuru's capacity to hold the country together. Gono
confided further that Joice herself had recently exploded to Mugabe,
complaining about perceived slights and asserting her independence from her
husband, ex-army chief Solomon "Rex" Mujuru,” the former US ambassador said
in the cable.
Solomon Mujuru, former army commander, died in a mysterious inferno at his
farm in Beatrice.
Gono also told Dell that the squabbles within the inner circle of the Zanu
(PF) were increasingly getting more difficult for Mugabe to control.
The former ambassador said Gono told him wild-card Didymus Mutasa was at
odds with ambitious Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was countering kingmaker Solomon
Mujuru, who didn't get along with Defence Forces Chief Chiwenga.
In the cable, Gono disclosed that his frustrations with negative economic
developments led him to submit his resignation on February 6.
“He had spent much of the week meeting with Mugabe, the presidium, Mutasa
and other cabinet officials, finally being persuaded just the morning of his
meeting with the Ambassador to stay on,” Dell said.
Dell said while in Gono’s spacious 22nd floor office atop the glistening
Reserve Bank building the Central Bank governor portrayed himself as a man
under attack from all sides for the honesty of his policy prescriptions.
“The ruling elite all "accuse me of carrying the water of the IMF, the white
farmers, the Americans; only the man in the street embraces me," he
reportedly maintained during the meeting with Dell.
According to the cable Gono said his principal offense was to boldly attack
corruption at the highest levels publicly and privately.
He said the mining sector's corruption was "out of this world" and showed
the former ambassador a confidential report on gold that implicated senior
officials (unnamed) in siphoning off production sufficient to reduce
official output from 22 tonnes in 2004 to 12 tonnes in 2005.
According to Gono, his "Operation Tell the Truth" was meant to underscore to
the Zanu (PF) leadership that high-level corruption was glaringly obvious to
the public and severely damaged the party leadership's credibility across
He went over a long list of ministers, governors, senior police/military
officials, NGOs, and private sector players with whom he had consulted and
sought support. Many had expressed support and yet key policies were never
carried out, he said.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority exceeded its revenue target for the first
quarter of 2012 by $58.3 million, representing an 8% surplus, owing to
improvements in compliance levels from clients. ZIMRA has been sensitizing
its clients to “pay taxes, not bribes.” The taxman collected $773.7 million,
against a target of $715.4 million.
by Clemence Machadu
The sectors that performed above target were VAT, corporate tax, excise and
other taxes. But individual taxes and customs duty performed below budget.
The overwhelming performance by VAT and corporate tax has been largely
attributed to improved local industrial capacity utilisation. Capacity
utilisation has been growing since 2009, given the financial support the
industry has received in recent years, through facilities that enabled
companies to acquire new capital, carry out machinery repairs and secure raw
materials. Growth is expected to continue with the launch of the industrial
policy. The upward review of the tax free threshold and upward review of
salaries by some companies gave some consumers increased spending power. The
Buy Zimbabwe Campaign, aimed at stimulating the demand for local products,
might also be starting to bear fruit.
Individual tax did not perform well because employees earning between $226
and $250 are now exempt. Customs duty did not meet its target largely
because of import substitution.
The taxman has introduced tax registers with a view to boosting tax revenue
from retail sales. But there is need to curb corruption among some ZIMRA
officers, especially at the border posts, as this continues to prejudice the
taxman of huge sums of money.
A quarterly surplus of $58.3 million is quite a lot of money for an economy
grappling with liquidity challenges. The responsible authorities should
therefore employ their wisdom to make sure that the surplus is allocated to
productive areas with the potential to trigger positive action in other
Posted on Wednesday 25 April 2012 - 07:38
Problem Masau, AfricaNews reporter in Harare, Zimbabwe
Scores of stumps could be seen in a once densely populated area along
Tengwe River in this area and the situation promise to be worsening as the
tobacco is ready for reaping and curing. Most farmers here have since
abandoned maize cropping citing low prices and viability challenges and have
adopted tobacco farming which is fetching high prices on the market.
However, most of the small scale farmers cannot afford to buy coal to
cure their tobacco and have since turned to indiscriminate cutting down of
the indigenous trees to process their tobacco.
“Firewood is the only available source of fuel we can secure to cure our
tobacco, we know the government policy on indiscriminate cutting down of
trees but we are left with no choice. The advantage of indigenous trees is
that they are flammable and last long,” said one farmer.
The effects of the deforestation are starting to be witnessed as soil
erosion is starting to take its toll on what used to be densely populated
Vian Bhachi (77) said he had witnessed the forests being reduced into
“Our culture preserved forests by labeling them sacred, no one ever
dared to cut down trees but tobacco farmers in this area have wrecked havoc
and if nothing is done to stop them our trees will become extinct,” said
He added that herbalists in the area where now walking long distance in
search of herbs.
“Indigenous trees are very helpful in many ways, parents are struggling
to find certain trees for herbs when children experience stomach ache,”
Among the trees which are under siege include Musasa and Mupfuti trees
which are known to be flammable.
Hurungwe is fast becoming a desert and according to a non-governmental
organization statistics more than 1000 indigenous trees are felled each year
by tobacco farmers in the area.
A rural councilor in the area Bigboy Mutimusakwa said the situation is
worsening each year.
“Farmers are cutting trees and vast tracts of land have now been turned
into near deserts because of the indiscriminate cutting down of trees.”
“The policy is that a person should report to Volunteer Efforts for
Developments Concerns (VEDCO) if they want to cut down the trees but most
farmers go overnight and deforestation is imminent if the situation is not
addressed urgently,” said Mutimusakwa
Government and environmental organizations are encouraging farmers to
plant exotic trees which are quick to grow but the call seems to be falling
on deaf ears.
Environment Friends, a non-organization has embarked on the awareness
campaign to educate tobacco farmers on the need of conserving indigenous
trees. The pilot project is aimed to be translated into all tobacco farming
regions in the area.
Project Coordinator Arnold Chideme said they provide tobacco farmers
with tree seeds of fast growing trees such as gum trees.
“We have noticed that Hurungwe used to be densely populated with
indigenous trees but the trees are fast becoming extinct hence the need to
educate the farmers the need of not cutting the trees. It takes decades for
indigenous trees to grow so farmers should learn to subsidize,” said
“We are teaching them not to be myopic, if they cut trees without
replacing them, in the long run they will fail to trees to cure their
tobacco,” said Chideme.
The Forestry Commission is spearheading the crafting of a legal
instrument that will force farmers to plant trees.
Stakeholders at the Africa Environment Day asked whether it was possible
to levy tobacco farmers in order to replenish trees cut down to cure the
crop. Forestry Commission General Manager, Darlington Duwa, said they were
working on a legal instrument to prevent against deforestation.
“The instrument will force farmers to set aside land for the growing of
trees to be used during tobacco curing and these will be fast growing
trees,” said Duwa. “Our research division is working on fast-growing tree
varieties and the law we are talking about is almost 80% complete and should
come into effect very soon.”
An official from the Ministry of Agriculture blamed the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) for the behavior of new farmers.
“They resort to cutting down trees because ZESA switches them off at a
very critical stage of preparing their tobacco crop and they are left with
no option. We also are aware that they are poor and do not have the
resources to use best practices so we are not looking at levying anyone,”
the official said.
IN an interesting twist of events which could probably rile local
politicians, prominent economist and University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Business
School Head, Professor Anthony Hawkins, says Zimbabwe should bite the bullet
and declare itself a Highly Indebted and Poor Country (HIPC).
by Ngoni Chanakira Harare
Hawkins said this would, however, not go down well with politicians who were
not telling "each other and the world" the truth.
"Zimbabwe must declare itself a Highly Indebted and Poor Country (HIPC),"
Hawkins said in Harare.
"We will, however, have to bite the bullet sooner rather than later. But our
politicians say we are not poor because we are rich with lots of mineral
wealth such as diamonds."
Diamonds were recently discovered to be awash in Chiadzwa Communal Lands and
Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, says the diamonds could earn the
cash-strapped nation about US$600 million annually for his empty coffers.
He has already pledged this amount for various projects including US$30
million for the forthcoming elections and referendum.
Declaring a country and HIPC status would mean several benefits for the
nation but politicians including Minister Biti says this is out of the
"Declaring ourselves and HIPC country is already out of the question," Biti
told journalists in Harare when he launched the country's debt repayment
The strategy shows and is meant to inform international creditors how
Zimbabwe intends to give back outstanding cash to them.
As at the end of December 2010, Zimbabwe's unvalidated external debt
positition was estimated at US$6,9 billion, of which almost US$4,8 billion
was accumulated arrears.
Minister Biti said this amounted to about 103 percent of Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) and about 72 percent of GDP, respectively.
"There are four major issues that Zimbabwe must deal with for its economy to
get back on track," Hawkins said.
"We must deal with our balance of payments position and stop importing so
"We must deal with our huge and soaring debt. We must also deal with the
imbalance between consumption spending and savings and investment.
"We must also make attempts to restructure our economy. How can we call
ourselves capitalists without capital. No country can call itself capitalist
when there is no capital and this is the case with Zimbabwe."
Professor Hawkins said the sustained rate of about 7 percent "won't be
""There will be recovery and not growth," Hawkins said. "We are getting
better but getting better far too slowly though.
"Those who favour the GNU (Government of National Unity) probably are
overlooking the economic paralysis that will result thereafter."
The GNU came into place after the country's economic malaise in 2008 when
hyperinflation took centre stage and there was political unrest in the
Maternal deaths claim 960 women out of every 100 000 women giving birth in
the country. This should be declared a national disaster, an activist for
women’s rights said last week.
by Talent Bhachi
“When a bus is involved in an accident and claims 21 people it is declared a
national disaster, but when 960 for every 100 000 die delivering babies it
is ignored,” saidZimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network executive
director, Naomi Chimbetete.
Speaking at the launch of a campaign for improved health services in rural
area held in Domboshawa, Chimbetete added: “The government should declare
this a national disaster and look for ways to reduce the rate at which the
people are dying. No woman should die giving birth.”
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Douglas Mombeshora, said the
government was alarmed by the increasing maternal deaths.
“In 2007 the rate was 750 women die in giving births per 100 000, and in
2010/11 the figure rose to 960 and since 1990 the figure has risen by 21%.
We are facing challenges in reducing the figures,” said Mombeshora.
High maternity fees of $30 contribute to the death rate because most rural
mothers cannot afford them. A free health service policy for pregnant and
lactating mothers, children under five and the elderly (60 or more years of
age) is not benefitting many because of implementation challenges.
HellenMachikaire, the Adolescent, Sexual and Reproductive health programme
officer at Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council, said her organisation
was lobbying for the removal of maternity fees.
MUREWA, 25 April 2012 (IRIN) - Thousands of poor Zimbabweans have turned to
illegal panning for precious minerals, but environmental and water experts
say their activities are contributing to the drying up of rivers which many
communities rely on for their livelihoods.
“Siltation of rivers is becoming endemic in the country, particularly in
regions where there is acute illegal panning of minerals, especially gold.
Rivers have been reduced to rivulets,” said the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (ZINWA) in a November 2011 statement aimed at drawing attention to
the country's "dying rivers and water bodies" and their impact on downstream
Illegal gold mining is common along rivers that run close to the Great Dyke,
a hilly mineral-rich belt which cuts across most of the country, and is
concentrated in Mashonaland Central, West, East and Midlands provinces.
Diamond panning is associated with the Chiadzwa District of Manicaland.
According to John Robertson, a Harare-based economic consultant, people
began turning to gold panning in large numbers in the early 1990s when the
country was hit by poor harvests due to droughts and job layoffs resulting
from the government's economic structural adjustment programme.
“The damage caused by illegal mining is enormous. It is a vicious cycle as
people are taking to panning in order to earn a living, but in the end their
activities are causing untold degradation,” Robertson told IRIN.
Monica Mapeka, a 24-year-old single mother of two from rural Murewa
District, about 100km northeast of Harare, the capital, regularly visits the
banks of Mazowe river, a tributary of the River Zambezi which passes through
the area, in search of alluvial gold. Armed with a pick, shovel and
container, and clad in muddy overalls, she joins hundreds of other illegal
gold panners popularly known as `makorokoza’ in digging up the riverbed.
From dusk until dawn, she and two other women work together to mix the earth
they have dug up with water and move it in circular motions in containers
until they are left with small quantities of mud containing shiny yellow
particles of alluvial gold.
“On a lucky day, we get something like two ounces that we sell for US$40 and
share the money. If you work hard enough, it’s easy to get rich,” said
Mapeka. “We are single mothers and have to do something to fend for our
children and other members of the extended family, otherwise we will starve
and walk in rags."
In an effort to concentrate their yield, the `makorokoza’ often mix the
residual ore with mercury, a practice that Steady Kangata, the education and
publicity manager for the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), said
created a health hazard for people and animals downstream.
“Mercury has the tendency to accumulate in the bodies of animals and humans
who consume it, and in the case of people, if it gathers to a certain level,
it can cause hair loss and the breakdown of the nervous system,” he said.
In recent decades, Mairosi Mangwende, 60, also from Murewa, has witnessed
Mazowe river degenerate from a fast-flowing waterway which was too deep to
cross during the raining season, to a muddy trickle. The activities of the
illegal miners have marked the river bed with deep holes and gullies where
the water collects in small rivulets that quickly dry up. The large amount
of soil they dig up is eventually washed away by rain, silting up the river
“Almost throughout the year, we would get fish to eat at home and sell but
that is no longer the case,” said Mangwende. “The cattle and goats are
suffering because they cannot drink this muddy water.”
He added that households used to own as many as 50 cattle, but that it had
become rare for a family to have even eight beasts, partly because of the
scarcity of drinking water for livestock.
Vegetable gardens that used to dot the river banks had also virtually
disappeared, said Mangwende, and households could no longer rely on the
income they earned from selling produce from riverside gardens.
Zimbabwe's largest river, the River Save, which flows east towards
Mozambique and the Indian Ocean, is another victim of illegal mining.
Diamond mining at Chiadzwa, where thousands flocked after the discovery of
alluvial diamonds in 2005, has contributed to the drying up of the river and
the many communal livelihood activities it supported such as gardening,
smallholder irrigation projects and bricklaying.
ZINWA has called for stiffer penalties for illegal mining and urged greater
joint action with the mines ministry, EMA and the Wildlife Management
Authority, while EMA has carried out joint operations with the police to
arrest the illegal panners.
According to Mapeka, such efforts have had little effect: “There is so much
poverty and some of these police officers take bribes to let us continue.”
According to a 2010 report on climate change vulnerability and adaptation
preparedness in Southern Africa commissioned by the German organization,
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, rising temperatures and droughts are also playing a
role in the drying up of Zimbabwe's rivers.
The report predicted that rates of evapo-transpiration from river basins
will continue to increase as temperatures rise while runoff was projected to
decline, with the Zambezi Basin the worst affected.
“It is often the case that when people’s livelihoods are threatened, as has
happened in the case of rivers running dry, they tend to look for
alternative survival opportunities that the environment can provide,” said
Unganai. “For instance, they invade the forests and cut down trees, leading
to deforestation that in turn causes massive runoff that further silts up
Robertson said siltation was reducing water volumes in downstream dams and
would eventually affect agriculture. “We still have commercial farming
activities that are fed by existing dams but siltation will finally affect
them, leading to hundreds of families losing their sources of income when
breadwinners lose their jobs,” he told IRIN.
Communities that have been heavily dependent on rivers for their livelihoods
need to be helped to look for other sources of income away from the river
courses, said William Nduku of the Forum for Environmental Education.
“Faced by dying rivers, the best option is to relocate livelihood activities
from those water bodies to the homesteads through the provision of communal
water points such as boreholes which can be effective in communal or
smallholder market gardening while also providing water for livestock and
other uses," he said.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
April 25th, 2012
A report by Derek Matyszak, Research and Advocacy Unit: Mugabe’s ZANU PF party has presented the “economic empowerment” of Zimbabweans as its key policy component and the main theme around which it intends to campaign for the next elections. Although the indigenisation of Zimbabwe’s economy is ostensibly a programme of an inclusive government, comprising both ZANU PF and the erstwhile opposition MDC formations, the MDCs and ZANU PF are sharply divided on how this programme should be implemented in practice.
This division is an echo of a starker disjuncture between the actual legal framework establishing Zimbabwe’s “indigenisation” policy and the framework which ZANU PF wishes to present and impose as being the legal regimen. ZANU PF’s loss of its majority in parliament in 2008 and constitutional constraints prevent ZANU PF amending the legislation so as to align its desired legal regimen with the actual. It has thus, with remarkable success, instead sought to alter the perceptions of the actual legal regimen to accord with its policy objectives. This has been achieved through its absolute control over all electronic media in Zimbabwe and the state owned press in which all programmes and articles on the indigenisation of the economy are carefully managed; through its control of the Government Ministry tasked with the implementation of the programme; and through the complicity of the non-ZANU PF aligned media which seems to prefer the ZANU PF version of the legal regime as the more likely to sell copy. The result is that a succession of myths has come to be accepted as fact. Each myth has built upon the one preceding, so that addressing the last requires considerable unravelling.
The myths that this article addresses are as follows:
COURT WATCH 8/2012
[25th April 2012]
Release of Accused on Bail Repeatedly Thwarted by State
Misuse of the Law [Section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act]
Section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [CPE Act] enables the Attorney-General or his representative to have an accused person who has just been granted bail by a judge or magistrate kept in detention for up to seven days simply by telling the court that he or she wishes to appeal against the grant of bail. This provision has been misused so often that there is now a move to have it repealed by Parliament. The motion for permission to introduce a Private Members Bill to do this is currently in the House of Assembly. It is timely therefore to look at this part of the law, how it has been misused and how it has detracted from the justice system.
What Section 121(3) Says:
Section 121(3) provides that if a judge or magistrate reaches a decision to grant bail to an accused person, this is automatically suspended if, immediately after the decision, the judge or magistrate is notified that “the Attorney-General or his representative wishes to appeal against the decision”. The effect of this suspension is that the accused person must remain in custody for a further seven days while the Attorney-General or his representative decides whether or not to appeal.
· If an appeal is lodged within 7 days, the accused person continues in detention until the appeal is decided
[Note: Where an appeal is lodged, it should, because it concerns personal liberty, be decided by the judge dealing with it, whether in the High Court or the Supreme Court, within a few days of its lodging. The relevant rules of court require expeditious processing of such appeals. In practice, unfortunately, appeals can take far longer than a few days; for examples, see below.]
· If an appeal is not lodged within 7 days the accused person must then be released on bail.
· If, before the 7 day period expires, the prosecutor notifies the court that the State has decided not to appeal, the accused person must be released immediately, i.e., before the end of the 7 days.
An Abuse of the Justice System
The way section 121 (3) has been used by prosecutors has amounted to an abuse of the justice system:
· Usurpation of the judicial role Section 121(3) in practice has taken a judicial function away from judges and magistrates and allowed the Attorney-General representing the State, which is an interested party, to arbitrarily overrule, albeit temporarily, a judicial decision arrived at after hearing evidence and submissions from both accused and the State prosecutor.
· Violation of right to liberty Frequently the effect of the section in practice is that an accused person remains an extra seven days or more in gaol on the prosecutor’s mere say-so.
· Violation of the principle of equality of all before the law The statistics also show that since April 2008 this largely groundless use of section 121(3) has been almost invariably directed against:
o human rights activists, and
o political activists who are either members or supporters of MDC-T or proponents of views opposed to those of the former ruling party.
Comment: Any statutory provision that lends itself to arbitrary application is contrary to principles of good law. That section 121(3) has often been used arbitrarily without any real thought having been given to whether or not there is any basis for a State appeal is indicated by the number of cases in which the State has not even gone through the motions of lodging an appeal – and by the State’s abysmal, near-zero success rate on appeal – see figures below.
[Veritas thanks ZLHR for permission to make use of their copyright material.]
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights documented the use of section 121(3) in cases that came to their attention over the period April 2008, just after the March 2008 general election, through to February this year. The figures show that:
· out of the 30 cases listed by ZLHR in which section 121(3) was invoked, the State actually appealed in only 7
· of those 7 appeals, 6 were entirely unsuccessful, resulting in the release of the accused persons on the conditions originally granted
· in the single case in which the State had a partial success, its application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court succeeded in respect of only one the three accused persons involved.
Note: Far more than 30 individuals were involved in these cases, because some of them featured multiple accused, e.g. the case involving Hon Douglas Mwonzora MP and 22 co-accused from his MDC-T party.
Origin of Section 121(3)
Section 121(3) first appeared in the CPE Act in 1975, before Independence. It is widely perceived therefore as a colonial hangover originally designed to empower prosecutors to take oppressive action against accused persons from the oppressed majority during the liberation struggle.
The constitutionality of section 121(3) has been raised in at least two cases, both of which still await set-down for hearing in the Supreme Court after referral to that court by magistrates in terms of section 24 of the Constitution:
· MDC-T Director-General Toendepi Shonhe fell victim to the provision in June 2009. He appeared before a magistrate charged with perjury and was granted bail. The prosecutor invoked section 121(3) and Mr Shonhe was kept in remand prison for an additional eight days until a judge dismissed the State’s appeal and he was released. Meanwhile, Mr Shonhe’s lawyer had applied to the magistrate for the constitutionality of section 121(3) to be referred to the Supreme Court and the application was granted by the magistrate. Nearly three years later the Supreme Court is yet to deal with the case.
· MDC-T MP Douglas Mwonzora and 22 co-accused MDC-T members were arrested in February 2011 on charges of public violence allegedly committed following an MDC-T meeting in Nyanga. When the Nyanga magistrate granted them bail a few days later, the State invoked section 121(3), resulting in all 23 remaining in custody for 25 days until their release following the dismissal of the State’s appeal by a High Court judge. In this case, too, the magistrate acceded to a defence request to refer the constitutionality of section 121(3) to the Supreme Court.
Section 121(3) Most Frequently Used in Magistrates Court
Inevitably section 121(3) is invoked far more frequently at magistrates court level. This is because in most cases accused persons first appear in the magistrates court following arrest by the police, and magistrates have power to grant bail on most charges [except for certain particularly serious offences]. If after invoking 121(3) in the magistrates court, the Attorney-General follows up by lodging a formal appeal – then that appeal is heard in the High Court.
Also Used in High Court
The Attorney-General has also used section 121(3) where bail has been granted by High Court judges. For example:
· After MDC-T Minister of Energy and Power Development Elton Mangoma was arrested on 25th March 2011 on a charge of abuse of public office, Justice Kudya granted him bail. The prosecutor immediately invoked section 121(3) and followed this up with an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court [when bail is granted in the High Court a State appeal against it has to be heard in the Supreme Court]. On 4th April the prosecutor’s application to leave to appeal was heard by Justice Musakwa, who threw out the application as having no merit and ordered Mr Mangoma’s immediate release. As it was Mr Mangoma had remained in custody for 11 days. If leave to appeal to the Supreme Court had been granted, it would in fact have meant Mr Mangoma being detained for much longer.
· Section 121(3) was also invoked against a decision of Justice Ndou granting bail in the Mthwakazi Liberation front treason case in Bulawayo.
The December 2011 remarks of Justice Mathonsi, dismissing a State appeal against bail granted to three Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe staffers arrested in Gwanda, are instructive: ‘Section 121(3) ... gives the appellant (the Attorney-General) power to veto the grant of bail to an accused person ... To the extent that it interferes with the liberty of a person who has been admitted to bail, that discretion should be exercised judiciously because the legislature, in its wisdom, entrusted the appellant with huge powers. For that reason, it is unacceptable for any representative of the Attorney-General to shoot up the moment bail is pronounced and invoke section 121 without applying his/her mind to the basis for such invocation. I have said that there is no merit in the grounds of appeal, which do not show any misdirection at all on the part of the court a quo. In fact those grounds are legendary by their lack of merit. One is therefore left wondering whether the appellant’s representative did apply his mind at all. The abuse of section 121 to keep persons in custody who have been granted bail has tended to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. It must be discouraged by all means and the time has come to announce to law officers prosecuting on behalf of the Attorney-General that section 121 should be invoked only in those situations where there is merit in the appeal ... Persons who have been properly granted bail should not be kept longer in custody merely as a way of punishment. That is an improper exercise of the discretion given to the Attorney-General by section 121.” [Text of full judgment available from firstname.lastname@example.org].
Impact on Accused
Incarceration in remand prison involves much more than loss of liberty. Conditions in Zimbabwe’s prisons are so notoriously bad that a spell in remand prison routinely exposes a prisoner to appallingly unhygienic conditions, the risk of disease, overcrowding, lack of proper diet, lack of adequate medical treatment, etc. – there have been numerous protests about inhuman conditions in the country’s prisons. Often there is a loss of income, particularly in the case of the self-employed. And the disruption of a detainee’s normal family life inevitably leads to worry and stress for parents, spouses and children, and friends. After the relief to the accused, their family and colleagues of being granted bail, to have this relief immediately cancelled by a spurious invocation of section 121(3) can be devastating.
Some High Profile Cases where the State Invoked Section 121
Bennett Case Senator Roy Bennett was arrested on sabotage and weapons charges on 13th February 2009. He was granted bail by a High Court judge 11 days later, but remained in custody when the prosecutor invoked section 121(3). The State’s appeal to the Supreme Court went ahead but was dismissed by the Chief Justice on 11th March. Mr Bennett had spent nearly four weeks in custody, with a gap of 15 days between the initial decision to grant him bail and the dismissal of the State’s appeal. He described the conditions in the Mutare Remand Prison as “the worst I have ever experienced”. [Note: In May 2010 Mr Bennett was acquitted on the sabotage and weapons charges at the close of the State case in his High Court trial.]
Hon Elton Mangoma A side-effect of Hon Mangoma’s extended stay in remand prison was his inability to carry out his duties as an MDC-T negotiator in important GPA talks; because of the timing, some have suggested this was the intended effect of the action taken against him.
Christmas in gaol for Lynnette Karenyi MP In a more recent case Hon Lynette Karenyi, MDC-T MP for Chimanimani West, had eight days in custody courtesy of section 121(3), missing Christmas with her family. Arrested on 19th December on a charge of insulting the President, she was granted bail by a magistrate on 20th December, and only released on 28th December after the prosecutor failed to lodge an appeal.
Gandhi Mudzingwa and 6 other abductees In April 2009, Mr Mudzingwa and 6 of the other abductees were finally granted bail by a High Court judge after over three months in remand prison [and varying periods of unlawful State detention as “disappeared” persons before they were initially taken to court]. The prosecutor ensured another 7 days of detention by invoking section 121(3) – and then failing to lodge any appeal.
Cases of long delay before release There are several examples of prolonged detention pending hearing and decision of appeal:
· Eric Matinenga  Shortly after the March general election, Eric Matinenga, newly elected MDC-T MP for Buhera West [later to be Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs in the Inclusive Government] found himself was arrested on allegations of public violence shortly after he had obtained a High Court order directing the Zimbabwe Army to stop harassing people in his constituency. A magistrate granted bail and the prosecutor invoked section 121(3). As a result Mr Matinenga was kept from his busy practice as a leading advocate, and from his party duties, for some four weeks. It took that long for the State’s appeal against his bail to finalised; the appeal was dismissed. At his later trial on the public violence charge Mr Matinenga was acquitted.
· Douglas Mwonzora MDC-T MP for Nyanga North, and 22 co-accused MDC-T members . This group was in custody for 25 days until a High Court judge dismissed the State’s appeal. One of the accused, Headman Nyakauru, aged 82, was denied access to private medical practitioners and his health deteriorated rapidly, resulting in his death a few weeks after his release. Mr Mwonzora’s prolonged absence from his duties as COPAC co-chairperson for the MDC-T undoubtedly slowed progress in the constitution-making process at a crucial time.
The cases show that magistrates and judges, having heard evidence and argument from both prosecutor and defence, are better able than prosecutors to make a balanced, rational decision on the merits of granting bail and any risks attached. It is the prosecutors who have frequently been shown to have acted hastily, arbitrarily or unwisely and unfit to wield the power given them by section 121(3). The reality seems to be that section 121(3) is both unnecessary and irredeemably open to abuse.
Magistrates and judges should be trusted to make responsible use of their powers to grant or withhold bail to accused persons. And prosecutors should be deprived of their present power to block release on bail by simply saying the State wishes to appeal.
MP’s Bid to Introduce Bill to repeal Section 121(3)
When the House of Assembly adjourned on 28th March for a six-week recess, it was only part of the way through debating Hon Gonese’s motion asking the leave of the House to introduce his Private Member’s Bill to repeal section 121(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Debate is due to continue when the House resumes sittings on 15th May. The House has yet to hear the views of the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, who is the Minister responsible for the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, on Hon Gonese’s proposal. Only if the motion is approved will Hon Gonese be permitted to hand in his Bill for official printing and gazetting and subsequent consideration by the House.
A chance to lobby MPs to support the repeal bid The present Parliamentary recess – through to 15th May – presents an opportunity for lobbying MPs. Now is the time to make sure that when they come to vote on Hon Gonese’s motion as many MPs as possible are aware of the feelings of their constituents and civil society organisations on whether this much-criticised statutory provision should be retained on the statute book. At this point in the debate MPs seem to have split along party lines – with MDC-T MPs supporting Mr Gonese and giving numerous examples illustrating the State’s abysmal record in its use of section 121(3) and the consequential injustice suffered by the individual citizens concerned; and ZANU-PF defending it as in some way essential to prevent anarchy and chaos and the commission of serious crimes, but without giving any examples of cases in which section 121(3) has actually been effectively used for these purposes.
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