By Tererai Karimakwenda
29 April, 2011
A High Court in Harare has granted permission to the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) to conduct their traditional May Day celebrations over
the weekend, over ruling an earlier ban by the police.
The umbrella labour group had notified the police that their members
intended to march in 4 districts around the country on Sunday, to celebrate
workers’ day. But earlier in the week they were denied permission to march
in the Midlands and Manicaland. Then on Friday morning, a day before the
event, they received a police notice banning the Harare march as well.
“We intended to march from the city to the stadium as we always do,” the
ZCTU Secretary General Japhet Moyo, told SW Radio Africa. But the police
banned the march citing “security reasons”.
Moyo said the group’s lawyers decided to appeal the ban at the High Court in
Harare and a decision granting the ZCTU permission to march in all 4
districts was handed down late on Friday.
“We have now asked our members to gather where the processions start on
Sunday,” a jubilant Moyo announced. But he would not reveal the exact
locations where members are to gather, fearing that police would disrupt the
marches before they got underway.
Moyo criticicized the security forces for ignoring the communiqué issued by
SADC leaders after their Summit last month, which instructed them to create
a peaceful environment and respect the spirit of the GPA.
Harare, April 29, 2011 - Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga says his country
is prepared to help Zimbabwe complete its constitution making process that
has been constantly marred by chaos.
“We in Kenya are slightly ahead of Zimbabwe and we have something to share
with Zimbabwe particularly in the process of constitution making. So we have
offered that we will share some of the information that we have with
Zimbabwe so that there is no need to re-invent the wheel. They can use
whatever is useful for them here because circumstances are never the same,
they differ,” Odinga told journalists at State House Friday afternoon while
emerging from a brief meeting with President Robert Mugabe.
The Kenyan Premier flew into Zimbabwe mid morning Friday where he went
straight to pay a courtesy call on the Zimbabwean leader. The two emerged
from the meeting holding arms and for almost five minutes, were chatting
while holding arms.
Odinga, a strong critic of President Robert Mugabe, is in Zimbabwe at the
invitation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s mainstream MDC formation
and is set to grace the party’s on-going elective congress in Bulawayo.
Odinga refused to comment about Zimbabwe’s coalition government saying the
matter was for Zimbabweans.
“That is the issue for Zimbabweans he said,” eliciting a loud giggle from
President Mugabe. “We had a very useful meeting. I am very thankful to his
Excellency for meeting us,” he said while commenting about his meeting with
“We had a very good meeting with his excellency, President of Zimbabwe. I
brought with me greetings from his counterpart President Mwai Kibaki in
Kenya. We have basically been comparing notes about developments in Zimbabwe
and in Kenya, as you know that Zimbabwe and Kenya share a number of things
in common plus we have the colonial legacy between us,” Odinga said.
Mugabe did not speak to journalists but only shook his head and nodded in
agreement to what the Kenyan premier was saying after their meeting.
Odinga arrived at the State with his wife and entourage with Deputy Prime
Minister, Thokozani Khupe who received him at the Harare International
Opening the congress on Thursday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the
president of the MDC said Zimbabwe will hold elections in a year's time,
contracting Mugabe, who had said elections will be held this year.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
29 April, 2011
It has been reported that several vehicles owned by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) were towed away this week after the bank failed to settle a
debt with the SeedCo company. According to the NewsDay newspaper, vehicles
were towed away by a Deputy Sheriff on Thursday.
The report said senior bank officials warned others who had not yet driven
into the bank’s parking lot, to stay away, as the Sheriff was waiting there
to take more vehicles.
The amount owed to SeedCo by the RBZ is believed to be $4.2 million, which
reportedly went to purchase seeds that were to be distributed to help
farmers. An additional $1.1 billion is owed to other local companies and
civic groups whose foreign currency accounts were raided by the bank between
2004 and 2008.
The SeedCo debt is reported to be just one of many incurred by the Reserve
Bank over the years as it embarked on projects that had nothing to do with
its core mission. Legislation passed by parliament last year after the
formatin of the unity government, forced the RBZ to refocus its efforts on
The bank has since dropped some of its special projects and downsized
others. Hundreds of employees lost their jobs in January.
by Edward Jones Friday 29 April 2011
HARARE – Personal security in Zimbabwe can no longer be guaranteed as
lawlessness continues in the troubled southern African state, rights group
Zimbabwe Peace Project has said, highlighting the urgent need for political
Opponents of President Robert Mugabe say the 87-year-old leader’s supporters
are guilty of human rights violations as part of a wider campaign to cow
opponents and keep the octogenarian leader in power.
The ZPP said in its latest report that police stood accused of siding with
ZANU-PF, which is fingered for most of the rights violations.
“The security of person is no longer guaranteed as lawlessness is slowly
becoming the order of the day,” the rights group said. “Zanu PF has been
viewed as the only legitimate party and as such people are forced to join
it. Police officers have been reported to be incarcerating victims of
political violence instead of the perpetrators.”
Zimbabwe has a turbulent rights record since independence in 1980 but
criticism against human rights violations have only increased over the last
decade as Mugabe has desperately sought to fend off a threat from Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to end his
The MDC say Mugabe has used state security agents, youth militia and
veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war to crackdown on its followers.
The ZPP said although there had been a decline in cases of politically
motivated human rights, the 1120 cases that were recorded remained too high.
“Cases of harassment and intimidation have remained very high as more people
continue to have their rights violated for either refusing to sign the
anti-sanctions petition or refusal to attend ZANU-PF meetings,” the ZPP
Mugabe’s party has started a campaign to get two million people to sign a
petition against sanctions imposed by the European Union, United States,
Australia, New Zealand and Canada on Mugabe and his ZANU-PF allies and there
have been reports that the party was forcing villagers to sign the petition.
The leadership of non-governmental organisations has continued to come under
attack from the government, the ZPP said, after the continued arrest of some
heads of NGOs.
Mugabe has previously threatened NGOs, especially those providing food aid
in the country’s rural areas, accusing them of working with his opponents to
unseat him from power.
But critics have accused ZANU-PF of denying opposition supporters food aid
in the past.
“Preliminary signs of a drought this year and the ever increasing political
tension throughout the country, are most likely going to see an increase in
the number of politically motivated human rights violations,” the rights
Zimbabwe faces food shortages this year after a mid-season drought destroyed
crops in the Matabeleland Provinces, Masvingo and Manicaland Provinces and
will likely increase the number of vulnerable people to three million,
according to aid agencies. -- ZimOnline
By Sydney Saize
Friday, 29 April 2011 16:08
CHIPINGE - Five MDC members in Chipinge East’s Musilizwi village about 40km
south east of the town were allegedly abducted on Wednesday by suspected
state security agents at midnight as violation of the Sadc demands continue.
Chipinge East MP, Mathius Matewu Mlambo told the Daily News that the five
women were kidnapped at their homes at midnight by people who were driving a
Nissan Hardbody twin-cab truck.
“The women were abducted at midnight by people who are suspected to be
linked with the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation). We have made a
police report on the incident at Grassflats (police station) and we have not
yet heard anything on the whereabouts of the five women,” said a visibly
He identified the missing women as Chiedza Simango, Joyce Penzera, Wedzerai
Bhachi, Esther Chindawande and Sarah Soto.
Mlambo said the abduction could be linked to their husbands who had a
misunderstanding with the village headman, Abel Jenya over the payment of
goats towards a rain making ceremony and they fled the area after getting
information that Zanu PF people were after them.
“The five men refused to pay the goats towards the ceremony arguing they had
lost their livestock during the June 2008 presidential run-off to Zanu PF
supporters and had not been compensated.
“This angered the village headman who then made a report to Zanu PF
officials who ganged with suspected state security agents to raid the homes
of the defiant individuals with a view to fix them for undermining the
authority of the village head,” said Mlambo.
He said when the defiant five men got wind to the plan to raid their homes
they ran away.
Headman Jenya could not be reached for a comment yesterday.
David Sibiya, the MDC district chair for Chipinge added that the men could
have escaped to South Africa on hearing that the state agents were looking
Sibiya said the villagers who lost their livestock to Zanu PF supporters in
the June 2008 violence felt they could not donate any of their livestock to
the headman since they lost some of their livestock to Zanu PF supporters in
“During the 2008 violence the families lost six goats each and this made
them refuse to take the orders of the headman. They have not been
compensated for their loss,” he said.
Police at Grassflats police post could not be reached for a comment as their
telephones are out of order. Manicaland province police spokesperson
inspector Brian Makomeke said he was unaware of the incident.
The Human Rights Institute of Southern Africa said the breakdown of the rule
of law in Zimbabwe has made it difficult for people to obtain justice or
enforce judgments, especially those against the state
Blessing Zulu | Washington 28 April 2011
The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has been urged to
investigate alleged torture and other human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and
In a statement to the commission, which met in Banjul, Gambia, on Thursday,
the Human Rights Institute of Southern Africa said the continental body
should appoint special rapporteurs to investigate alleged human rights
abuses in the two countries.
The organization said the breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe has made
it difficult for people to obtain justice or enforce judgments, especially
those against the state.
Though the Southern African Development Community has urged President Robert
Mugabe to accelerate democratic reforms, rights activists say little has
changed. The Zimbabwe Peace Project reported that his ZANU-PF party is still
coercing people to sign a petition against Western travel and financial
sanctions on him and others.
ZANU-PF has been accused of using the state security apparatus to silence
Human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba, executive director of the Zimbabwe
Exiles Forum in South Africa, told VOA Studio 7’s reporter Blessing Zulu
that the call by the Human Rights Institute for the AU commission to
investigate rights abuses is encouraging.
Sources estimated that each time President Mugabe travels to Singapore for
medical care accompanied by a large retinue aboard an Air Zimbabwe craft it
costs the country around US$3 million
Gibbs Dube | Washington 28 April 2011
Zimbabwean economists agree with Finance Minister Tendai Biti's complaint
that foreign junkets by government officials are unnecessarily draining the
Treasury with a likely cost of US$50 million this year contributing to a
projected deficit of some US$150 million.
They said Biti’s acknowledgment in his quarterly financial review this week
that the trips are not productive and waste precious funding should be taken
seriously by the Cabinet and the executive branch. President Robert Mugabe
is estimated to have spent millions on foreign travel including trips to the
Far East for medical care in Singapore.
Sources estimated that each trip to Singapore with a large retinue aboard an
aircraft of state carrier Air Zimbabwe costs the country some US$3 million.
Mr. Mugabe, who is said to be under treatment for prostate cancer though his
office has dismissed such reports as speculation. According to semi-official
accounts he traveled to Singapore recently to visit his wife Grace, said to
be under care there, then proceeding to the Rome summit of the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
Economist Eric Bloch said the government should divert funds set aside for
foreign trips to the benefit of poor Zimbabweans. "These trips should be
controlled through Cabinet and any trip that is not necessary should be
canceled so that funds saved will be channeled towards programs for the
disadvantaged," Bloch said.
Vatican City, April 29, 2011 — The Vatican said Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe will attend Sunday's beatification ceremony for late pope John Paul
II, despite being banned from travel to the European Union.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Friday that Mugabe was on the
list of world leaders who have confirmed their presence.
"Zimbabwe is a state with which the Holy See has diplomatic relations. There
is therefore nothing to hide," he said.
The Vatican is a sovereign state that is not part of the European Union,
although Mugabe would have to transit through the Italian capital of Rome.
Mugabe, a Catholic who has been widely condemned for human rights abuses,
also attended John Paul II's funeral in 2005 despite the 2002 travel ban --
a visit that drew controversy because Britain's Prince Charles shook hands
Travelling under United Nations auspices, Mugabe also came to Rome in 2008
for a summit of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.
Twenty-two world leaders are expected to attend the ceremony that will put
John Paul II on the path to sainthood, the Vatican said.
Lombardi said a total of 87 international delegations would be attending and
the leaders would include 16 heads of state and six government leaders.
Five royal families -- Belgium, Britain, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and
Spain -- will be represented and the heads of state will include Poland's
Bronislaw Komorowski, Mexico's Felipe Calderon and Italy's Giorgio
The Vatican said it had given out 2,300 accreditations for the ceremony,
including 1,300 for television stations.
There will be journalists from 101 countries around the world, it said. AFP
By Roadwin Chirara, Business Writer
Friday, 29 April 2011 16:20
HARARE - The Grain Marketing Board (GMB)’s pension fund has been rocked by
serious allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds, and company
assets by senior managers.
Although company chief executive Taona Munzvandi defended his contentious
acquisition of a Borrowdale house and the payment of hefty allowances as
above board, a preliminary report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) queried a
number of transactions by the fund’s top hierarchy.
The audit particularly singles out extravagant expenditure and non-taxable
allowances to George Magosvongwe’s board, where the likes of Munzvandi drew
US$12 000 in December 2010.
However, the GMB pension fund boss denied the existence of a report
detailing such perceived plunder, saying the allowances were “in line with a
human resources consultant recommendation”.
“I have not seen that report, but most of the information that has been
forwarded to the auditors. There is nothing wrong with the amount paid as it
is line with a report of what non-executive directors and the chairman
should be paid,” Munzvandi said.
An outgrowth of GMB, the contributory fund had over 2 500 members and assets
worth US$2,8 million as at December last year.
Like its parent company — GMB, which has always been dogged by allegations
of corruption and dodgy deals — the fund is now facing a class action or
suit from 17 ex-employees for underpaying pensions and at a time Munzvandi
and other company bosses received hefty sums of money from December to
January this year.
The state-run grain procurer, for instance, has been subject to numerous
investigations over the years, with such former managers as Martin Muchero
being arraigned before the courts for bilking the strategic food reserve
company of millions of dollars in 2002.
Apart from Muchero, a raft of successors and other smaller depot officials
countrywide have also been fingered in shady dealings.
“Allowances amounting to US$46,002 (for the CEO) and US$11 780 (for the
chairman) as well as other allowances for the board were not taxed.
The value of the allowances is not specified in amount, as expected, in
minutes of the board meetings,” the audit firm said.
Crucially, the audit firm noted that some benefits paid out in 2010 were not
submitted to Zimra for tax assessments, as is the norm with any termination
benefits payout process and as recommended by the fund’s actuaries.
“Actuary advice should be sought when payments are to be made to members
that seem to qualify for such payments if the amounts differ from the
financial valuations,” PwC said in the report.
Discrepancies were also found in pension payouts with some members being
overpaid, while those not recorded in the funds books made claims.
“Members with almost nil/low balances as per the most recent actuarial
valuation were paid amounts which differ significantly from the ones
recommended by the actuary. Claims were accrued/paid to persons that do not
appear on the actuarial valuation,” PwC said.
The fund chief executive was also fingered in a ploy to alter deeds of sale
documentation or papers for six Charlotte Brook stands, in a bid to reduce
liability development and levies to the Goromonzi Rural District Council
PwC also noted that the stipends paid, particularly cellphone allowances,
were above normal rates and were not supported by board resolutions for them
to be paid.
In the real estate saga, the accountancy firm recommended that the fund
reverts back to the original deeds arrangement to avoid reputational risks
or damages and penalties for the action.
“Deeds of sale altered should be corrected and the appropriate amount paid
to the Goromonzi Rural District Council (GRDC).Other intentional actions or
fraudulent activities may be initiated by any of the staff member if such a
culture is maintained.
“Exposure of the Fund on such an ill note resulting in at least reputational
damage,” the audit report said.
The GMB pension fund is also found to have had workers on its payroll, but
who did not have any documentation to back up or support their employment.
In the meantime, Albert Mandizha’s GMB has repeatedly failed to pay farmers
for crop delivered in recent years.
Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:00pm GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (Reuters) - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai tried to
breathe new life into his floundering MDC party on Friday with plans for a
leadership shake-up and a rousing speech in which he called his rivals
Tsvangirai is seeking to strengthen his party's base as he prepares for
another campaign to unseat Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in elections,
expected this year or next.
"The MDC will win the next elections and we will form the next government
and we will take Zimbabwe into a new era of peace, prosperity, dignity and
hope," Tsvangirai said at a
congress of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Mugabe, forced into the unity government with Tsvangirai after a disputed
election in 2008 marred by violence, has called for a fresh vote this year.
MDC officials have said a vote this year would violate terms of the unity
government, end a nascent recovery and could lead to a bloodbath reminiscent
of the 2008 vote.
Tsvangirai, whose leadership is not being challenged, aims to use the
two-day congress to reshuffle senior posts, heal a party hit by internal
fights and reassure supporters he is still capable of ending Mugabe's three
decades in office, MDC officials said.
"Each of us has felt the weight of the oppressor's baton or the feel of his
fist or booted feet. We carry the emotional scars from grieving for our
fallen comrades and the trauma of seeing the sacrifices of our liberation
heroes desecrated on the altar of political plunder and exploitation,"
Support for MDC dropped to 38 percent last year from 55 percent in 2009,
according to a survey in Zimbabwe by U.S.-based research body Freedom House.
Support for Mugabe's ZANU-PF's popularity rose to 17 percent in 2010 from 12
percent in 2009, the survey said.
The power-sharing government formed in 2009 has stabilised an economy that
was crushed by hyperinflation three years ago. But it has been hit by
squabbles over top posts and reforms.
In an indirect attack on Mugabe, visiting Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga
told the MDC congress that although colonialism had damaged Africa, the
continent's current problems were caused by poor governance.
"This has led to human rights abuses, the breakdown of the rule of law, the
over-centralisation of power, particularly as vested in imperial
presidencies and the accompanying cultures of corruption and impunity," he
Mugabe has worried overseas investors in the resource-rich state by pressing
ahead with plans to force foreign mining companies to surrender 51 percent
of their local equity to local blacks in the next six months.
Mugabe, 87, may be doing this to secure cash quickly to help fund his
The West has tried to isolate Mugabe, imposing sanctions on him for
suspected vote rigging and rights abuses.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
29 April, 2011
A newspaper vendor selling copies of the Daily News has reported that she
was assaulted on Wednesday by a group of ZANU PF youths, who also robbed her
of money from the sales.
Alice Murwisi from Kuwadzana township said she was attacked by six men who
had warned her on Tuesday that the Daily News was an “unpatriotic” newspaper
and they would stop her from selling it.
“They kicked me in my back and punched me in the face and took away the
newspapers and the money from the sales,” Murwisi was quoted as saying. She
added the youths identified themselves as ZANU PF members.
Murwisi reported the incident at Kuwadzana police station. It is not clear
whether any action has been taken but experience in Zimbabwe has shown that
ZANU PF members can commit violent acts against perceived enemies with total
“I was beaten heavily by them as they wanted to stop me from doing my work
of selling the paper, but I am not going to stop since it is a legitimate
business,” a defiant Murwisi told NewsDay newspaper.
The attack on Murwisi comes in the same week that the NewsDay newspaper
reported that a laptop and several hard drives containing sensitive
information had been stolen by a “suspected thief” who broke into their
offices. The theft took place just days after a senior reporter at the paper
was summoned by army chiefs who wanted to know her sources for a recent
story on General Constantine Chiwenga.
29/04/2011 19:21:00 Nkululeko Ndlovu
HARARE - Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga Friday held talks with Zimbawe’s
President Robert Mugabe before flying to Bulawayo were he was the guest of
honour at the MDC-T Third Congress.
Speaking to journalists after a closed door meeting with Robert Mugabe, Mr.
Odinga who was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister, Ms Thokozani Khupe told
journalists that he had a fruitful meeting with the President as they
discussed the rough and tough terrain the two countries travelled.
He said Zimbabwe and Kenya share a common history adding that among issues
discussed was how the two countries can assist each other in dealing with
the current constitutional and other reforms.
Asked about his view on the inclusive government in Zimbabwe, Mr. Odinga
said Zimbabwe is a sovereign state which should make its own decisions not
to be dictated to by foreigners.
Mr Odinga arrived in Harare Friday on his way to Bulawayo, where he is to
open the third National Conference of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The talks focused on the similarities in the history of Kenya and Zimbabwe,
the struggle for the liberation of Africa, the continent’s place in world
politics, reforms in the two countries and global affairs.
Mr Odinga conveyed greetings from President Mwai Kibaki to President Mugabe.
Reforms in politics
President Mugabe showed strong interest in political developments in Kenya,
particularly the unveiling of the new constitution and said Zimbawe looked
up to Kenya for a model in reforming the constitution.
He said Zimbabwe had always learnt from Kenya, from the liberation struggle
to date, adding that he spent years studying the history of the Mau Mau war
President Mugabe invited Mr Odinga to stay in the country for a longer
Mr Odinga said Kenya and Zimbabwe had links imposed by history and should
together work towards reforms in politics.
Mr Odinga promised that Kenya would donate a book on constitution-making to
Zimbabwe to guide the southern African nation in its quest for
The Prime Minister left Harare shortly after 3pm for Bulawayo.
Zimbabwe’s state media have launched a vicious attack against Kenyan Prime
Minister Raila Odinga after he accepted an invitation to be a guest at a
congress for a party led by his Harare counterpart Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Odinga will officially open Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party congress in the second city of Bulawayo
State media propaganda against the PM’s party has gone into overdrive in
what analysts say is reflection of widening cracks in Zimbabwe’s coalition
The state owned Herald newspaper, which usually reflects the thinking in
President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, described Mr Odinga as a merchant of
“Who then is this Raila Odinga,'' wrote George Rugare Chingarande in the
paper’s opinion pages.
“Raila Odinga is a political schizophrenic.
“His rhetoric oozes with refined contemporary democracy dogma, but his
actions reveal a very violent and dictatorial streak.
“The exorbitant nature of this obsessive preoccupation with violence is
rivalled by a few in modern day African.
A stumbling block
“His proclivity for violence can be traced to his student days.”
President Mugabe’s sympathisers have never forgiven Mr Odinga for calling
for the 87-year-old leader’s ouster in a 2008 interview with BBC.
In the interview, Mr Odinga called on African leaders to push Mugabe out of
power because he was a stumbling block to political reform in Zimbabwe.
The MDC congress started on Thursday afternoon and ends on Saturday.
Early this month, acerbic comments in the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper
precipitated a diplomatic row between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
One of the paper’s columnists and a former Information minister in Mugabe’s
previous government attacked South African President Jacob Zuma saying he
was not a suitable mediator in Zimbabwe’s crisis.
President Mugabe had to send emissaries to apologise to Zuma following the
(AFP) – 2 hours ago
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe — Multi-party elections alone are not enough to save
Africa from authoritarian rule, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said
Friday as he urged Zimbabwe to pursue deeper reforms.
"We have seen that the mere re-introduction of multi-party politics in
Africa, after decades of single-party and military dictatorships, has not
solved the governance problem," Odinga told supporters of Zimbabwean Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party.
"We have seen that multi-party elections alone will not propel us from
institutionalised authoritarian systems to more democratic modes of
governance," he said, speaking as the guest of honour at an MDC congress in
the second city of Bulawayo.
Both Odinga and Tsvangirai came to government through power-sharing deals
signed in the wake of disputed and violent elections.
The pacts have been credited with restoring stability in both countries, but
critics say the forced marriages have done little to resolve underlying
Odinga, who has shared power with President Mwai Kibaki since 2008, urged
Zimbabwe to move "quickly" toward reforms.
Zimbabwe is currently in the middle of drafting a new constitution as part
of Tsvangirai's 2009 power-sharing deal with long-time President Robert
The process was supposed to pave the way to new elections but has been
repeatedly delayed by outbreaks of violence.
"Zimbabwe must move quickly to resolve its democratic challenges, so that it
can take its rightful place as a potential centre for economic growth in
this part of the continent," Odinga said.
"You will have to dig deep into your reservoirs of tolerance and compromise
to ensure that this happens, for the alternative would serve neither the MDC
nor its partner in government. It would only cripple the nation."
Odinga earlier met with Mugabe in the capital, Harare, describing the
encounter as "very good".
by Edward Jones Friday 29 April 2011
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s largest platinum miner Zimplats said yesterday
politicians and business leaders were jockeying to get a slice of its shares
under the government’s controversial indigenisation drive and will conclude
talks on how it intends to comply with the empowerment law in a fortnight.
Impala Platinum (Implats), the second largest producer of the metal used in
the automotive industry, is majority owner of Zimplats and is one of the
foreign-owned companies that is under pressure to surrender more than 51
percent shares to blacks under President Robert Mugabe’s indigenisation
“There is a big appetite for a stake in Zimplats by people in business and
political office," said chief executive Alex Mhembere. "We expect to
conclude discussions on our proposals in two weeks," Mhembere said in
response to questions from journalists during the company’s presentation of
Foreign investors have been rattled by the indigenisation drive, which
critics say will likely benefits those close to the veteran leader and that
this will see foreign investment dry up in the country.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has already denounced the mine
nationalisation plans as "looting and plunder" by a greedy elite, in a sign
of sharp divisions in the unity government formed by the coalition partners
Foreign mining companies in Zimbabwe were given up the end of September to
comply with the law forcing them to surrender at least 51 percent of their
local equity to black investors. The miners have up to May 9 to comply with
Mhembere said Zimplats would publish the list of all people seeking a stake
in the company, in what could be viewed as part of the company’s strategy to
name and shame those seeking to get a windfall from the platinum miner.
Impoverished Zimbabwe with an estimated $6 billion GDP does not have the
money to buy majority stakes in the mining firms, which has left many
wondering how this would be achieved. The government has previously said it
plans to set up a sovereign wealth fund for the purpose but analysts say
this is unworkable.
The market capitalisation of Zimplats is around 1.2 billion Australian
dollars and purchasing the 51 percent stake would cost a sum about equal to
10 percent of GDP.
Implats, together with number one platinum miner Anglo Platinum and global
miner Rio Tinto are some of the foreign mining companies that have
operations in Zimbabwe and will be targeted by the local ownership rules.
Zimplats also announced that output of its metal concentrate had dipped to
84,000 tonnes for the quarter to March 2011, down from 92,964 tonnes the
previous quarter after maintenance work on its mine.
This saw revenues declining to $130.5 million compared to $139.8 million the
previous quarter. -- ZimOnline
By Tichaona Sibanda
29 April 2011
Co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone has been re-elected chairperson of
the MDC-T Women’s Assembly, after trouncing her rival Editor Matimisa, the
Kadoma central MP, by 634 votes to 221.
Makone beat Matamisa by 413 votes with six spoiled ballots, in an election
that analysts had predicted would be tight. But in the end Matamisa was
soundly beaten in a poll that started on Thursday evening and went right
through to Friday morning.
In another poll held Thursday, Harare based Solomon Madzore won the national
youth chair contest after romping to victory against Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya,
by 432 votes to 364. Madzore takes over as the new Youth Chair from
Thamsanga Mahlangu, who stepped down to contest for the deputy organising
secretary’s post in elections slated for Saturday.
The congress entered its second day on Friday with party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai appealing to members to bury their conflicts and keep faith with
the MDC, in order to clinch power in the next general election.
He cautioned delegates that, ‘it was important for members to stop internal
wrangling to enable them to close ranks and forge a united front against
ZANU PF in the next poll.’
Tsvangirai also warned party members against violence, following a spate of
ugly scenes that characterized provincial elections.
‘Let me once again state that there will be no tolerance of violence in the
MDC. There will be no sanctioning of corruption in the MDC,’ he said, adding
‘it is these traits that our party was born to eradicate.’
Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us guest speaker, Raila
Odinga, the Kenyan Prime Minister, told delegates that it is high time the
African continent embraced the culture of constitutionalism.
Odinga was officially opening the congress at Barbourfields stadium in
Bulawayo and he called on Africa to invest in the building of institutions
that ‘promote and compel sound leadership’.
Just like Tsvangirai, Odinga was forced to share power with incumbent
President Mwai Kibaki, following a disputed 2007 election. In 2008
Tsvangirai beat Robert Mugabe in a presidential poll, but the ageing ZANU PF
leader refused to cede power and instead went on a bloody campaign of murder
and torture to cow opponents into submission.
In his keynote speech at the MDC-T Congress Odinga said; ‘One-party rule
might have withered and died with the introduction of political pluralism in
the 1990s but its ugly monolithic vestiges linger. In particular, our
ballots have yet to be free and fair. A long list of African leaders with
questionable democratic credentials has used the pretension of promoting
state unity as an excuse for excess, intolerance, repression, and illegal
tenure of office’.
HARARE, April 29, 2011 - SOUTH Africa's business mogul and former African
National Congress (ANC) boss, Cyril Ramaphosa, will grace this year's
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
The National Economic Consultative Conference (NECF) told Radio VOP that it
has already lined up five top local and international business leaders to
address its International Business Conference which will run parallel to
The ZITF will be held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city in the
Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre beginning on May 4.
A ZITF spokesperson told Radio VOP that this year's focus was to create an
open forum for public and private sector discussion on how to develop and
exploit Zimbabwe's competitive advantage.
This is intended to make Zimbabwe the "Premier Investment Destination".
She said top speakers who had already confirmed to participate included SA
tycoon, Cyril Ramaphosa, currently working for the Shanduka Group Limited in
South Africa, Engineer Josh Chifamba, the new Chief Executive of struggling
parastatal, the Zimbabwe Electricity Authority Holdings Limited (Zesa),
Douglas Mboweni Chief Executive of telecommunications giant, Econet Wireless
Holdings Limited (Econet), the largest mobile network operator in the
country with more than five million customers connected, Dr Donald Kaberuka,
President of the African Development Bank (ADB), and Richard Mbaiwa, Chief
Executive of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA).
The ZIA recently opened what it said is a One Stop Shop" in Harare to
quicked project approvals from about three months too six days after
Once rated as the largest and most influential gathering of local and
international business leaders in Zimbabwe, the annual ZITF is now very
mediocre and has been overshadowed by other international events such as the
Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).
Many foreign exhibitors have pulled the plug on the ZITF saying Zimbabwe is
not a good investment destination, has lopsided investment regulations and
its government under President Robert Mugabe does not respect property
rights, among other problems.
So far no Head of State or Government has agreed to officially open the
The ZITF Chairman is consultant, Nhlanhla Masuku, Managing Director of USK
Marketing and Consultancy (Private) Limited.
By Thelma Chikwanha, Staff Writer
Friday, 29 April 2011 17:22
HARARE - Zimbabwe’s army, which has a constitutional mandate of defending
the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security of the country
has been accused of practising partisan militarisation, which is derailing
the political transition of the country.
The military are accused of strategically positioning ex-military personnel
in positions of authority within state institutions like the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB), Air Zimbabwe, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), and Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) among others.
Constitutionally, the military of any democratic nation has the powers to
provide military assistance to civil authority in times of need in order to
maintain essential service delivery in the event of national disasters like
floods and during civil disorders.
The heavy presence of army personnel in several parastatals has raised
concern that Zanu PF, which has no real support outside the security organs
was trying to manipulate the people ahead of next year elections.
Analysts who spoke to the Daily News said while there was nothing wrong with
soldiers playing their role in civil life, they expressed concern regarding
the extent to which key civic offices and economic installations had been
handed over to serving army personnel.
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said that ex-army officials just like any
ordinary citizen, had the right to look for employment at an organisation of
He said the army did not deploy and personnel to work at the parastatals
saying those in key positions were qualified and had personally applied for
“Are they not citizens of this country? Where they get employment after they
leaving the army is not our business. If other people can be heads of
parastatals, why can’t they? No one was born a head of parastatals,”
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News revealed that while it was not criminal
to employ ex-army officials to head state institutions, there was need to
disentangle the military from Zanu PF to ensure that the military was
totally independent from the party which liberated the country from white
Civil society has been calling for reforms in the security sector which it
says is partisan to ensure that they revert back to their constitutional
role of protecting Zimbabweans.
They also argued that partisan militarisation was also derailing political
transition in the country.
In the period before the controversial June 27, 2008 presidential run-off
between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
military personnel were deployed in many parts of the country where they
unleashed terror on civilians.
Tsvangirai later pulled out Mugabe participated in a one man election which
was described by Sadc and the international community as a sham.
A report produced by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) on politically
motivated rape revealed that most women were raped by either soldiers or
Mary Pamire, a rape survivor narrated a heart rending story of how 10
soldiers had taken turns to rape her in Chitungwiza.
In 2002 and in 2008, there was pre-emptive coup by the military when they
declared that they would not salute anyone without liberation credentials in
order to protect the vote during elections.
Human Right Researcher Pedzisai Ruhanya said the militarisation of state
institutions responsible for governance such as the judiciary, ZEC and the
Delimitation Commission was undemocratic.
He said he was not against the employment of persons with military
background as long as they managed to execute their duties in a non-partisan
manner, which fostered development.
“We are not against the employment of former military personnel in public
institutions, but we are vehemently opposed to the pollutant behaviour of
some of them in those institutions particularly their undemocratic practice
in ZEC,” said Ruhanya.
Written by Own correspondent
Thursday, 28 April 2011 06:43
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): It is a pleasure to have this debate under your
chairmanship, Mr Robertson, and I am grateful to the Speaker for granting
this opportunity to discuss the political situation in Zimbabwe. The
Minister will know that for many years I have been visiting Zimbabwe, and
have done so during the current serious political crisis. I was there during
the dark days of Operation Drive Out Rubbish, when hundreds of thousands of
homes and small businesses were demolished, and many people, particularly
trade union activists, were singled out for beating and arrest.
I visited Zimbabwe again last month, and I was pleased to be accompanied by
two other members of the all-party group, of which I am pleased to be the
chairman. We were there particularly to see what was happening with the
parliamentary situation. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport
(Oliver Colvile), who will contribute to the debate, was returning to
Zimbabwe for the first time since 1979. His background as a trained election
agent was valuable when we looked at political processes in Zimbabwe.
Lord Joffe was the other member of the delegation, and has an eminent record
in southern Africa. He was the defence lawyer for Nelson Mandela when he
faced the death penalty at the Rivonia trial, and defended many other
leaders in the struggle against apartheid. He also defended a very young
Jacob Zuma, so he is no stranger to political oppression. He was chairman of
Oxfam at one time, so he has seen development and aid close up in many parts
of the world. The delegation was very strong.
We came away from our visit with many anxieties, particularly about
harassment of parliamentarians, but I also felt hopeful about Zimbabwe’s
future. Given the high-profile events connected with Parliament in Zimbabwe
during our stay, it was appropriate that our visit was funded by the UK
branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. That was the first of
my many visits during the past 10 years that was funded. I am grateful for
that, and pay tribute to the CPA, particularly Andrew Tuggey, for continuing
to engage with Zimbabwe, even though Mugabe withdrew from the Commonwealth
in 2003. It is very much in line with the Commonwealth principles set out in
Harare and Millbrook in New Zealand that such engagement continues. I hope
that before long, Zimbabwe will be able to rejoin the Commonwealth family. I
know that many Zimbabwean members of Parliament are waiting for that to
Despite the hope, there are huge difficulties to be overcome. When the
inclusive Government was formed, and particularly now with events in other
parts of the world, especially in north Africa, attention was and is being
diverted from what is happening in southern Africa, and there is a risk that
that will continue. Mugabe and his strategists in ZANU-PF have for decades
relied on a combination of regional intransigence and international
indifference to neutralise anyone who opposes their monopoly on power. I am
glad that the UK Government have not allowed Zimbabwe to fall off their
agenda, and I pay tribute to the tremendously hard work and commitment shown
by the Minister with responsibility for Africa, the Under-Secretary of State
for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for North West Norfolk
(Mr Bellingham), who, unfortunately, cannot be here today, but we are
delighted to have the Minister for Europe, the right hon. Member for
Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), here to respond to the debate. The Under-Secretary
has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors in recent years.
We are also being well served by our ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mark Canning.
He and his team could not have done more to make our visit useful and
productive. The Minister will understand that because we have had
conversations about Europe, and he knows how pleased I was to see our flag
being proudly flown not just at the embassy well above the European Union
flag, but from the ambassador’s car as it drove through Harare. That was an
important symbol of the United Kingdom’s continuing engagement in trying to
help that country.
I also pay tribute to Dave Fish, head of the Department for International
Development in Zimbabwe. He has won huge admiration in the country for his
understanding of the context in which our UK aid programme is delivered. It
is not an easy job, and we saw at first hand his outstanding commitment to
getting it right.
We witnessed a real unity of purpose binding together the courageous men and
women who are at the forefront of the struggle to bring reform and progress
to Zimbabwe, whether they are active in politics or in civil society. Above
all, it is a tribute to the people of Zimbabwe and those who have led the
struggle for democracy that the process of transition is still on track, and
that the long march of reform is continuing. It is important to remember
that despite appalling provocation, the Movement for Democratic Change has
remained a peaceful political party, and has not reacted in the way that
Mugabe presumably wanted it to react in the face of the tremendous violence
Of course, the vast majority of Zimbabweans would like the process to move
more quickly, as would members of the all-party group. We are impatient, and
we wish that reforms could be implemented much more speedily. It is
frustrating to see opportunities being missed, and people’s lives passing by
with promises unfulfilled. The process is fragile, and there are still
powerful elements who want it to stall or be reversed. They are from the old
political establishment, and have a vested interest in maintaining a system
that makes them rich, and consigns the mass of the population to disease,
destitution and dependency. It is a shameful irony that those who shouted
loudest about independence and sovereignty and condemned the role of the
British colonial Government have driven their once-proud country to hunger
There is still massive resistance to political and economic reform from
those in the political and military establishments. They see their personal
position of wealth and privilege threatened. We were all angry to see the
blatant dishonesty of those who are intent on protecting their own power. It
was tragic to drive through Zimbabwe and see factories lying idle, farmland
lying uncultivated, and the people who should be working them cast aside and
During our visit last month we went to Chegutu, and I pay special tribute to
two people from that area who have helped to show the world not just what
has gone wrong in Zimbabwe, but what can be done to make things better. I am
sure that many hon. Members saw the striking film “Mugabe and the White
African”. The all-party Zimbabwe group arranged a screening at Westminster
when the film was launched nearly two years ago. It features Ben Freeth and
his father-in-law, Mike Campbell, and their attempts to keep farming at
Mount Carmel in Chegutu. ZANU-PF bigwigs with their armed thugs were
determined to take control of the farm, and to drive Ben and Mike off the
land, even though it had been purchased legally in the relatively recent
past, and with no expression of interest from the Zimbabwe Government.
Mike Campbell decided to challenge the seizure of his farm through the
courts not only in Zimbabwe, but going right up to those of the region, and
to the South African Development Community tribunal. Bringing a court case
in Zimbabwe requires courage, and Mike Campbell, his wife Angela, and
son-in-law Ben all suffered dreadful beatings and violence for daring to
challenge ZANU-PF. Their farmhouse was ransacked and burned, and the police
failed to take any action against the perpetrators. The SADC tribunal ruled
that the actions of the Government of Zimbabwe were illegal. At that point
the lawyers representing the Zimbabwe Government promptly walked out and
declared that they did not recognise the tribunal, although for weeks they
had appeared before it, argued their case and delayed the process by asking
The response to the SADC tribunal ruling showed up Mugabe and his ZANU-PF
colleagues and demonstrated that their fight is not only with reformers in
Zimbabwe, not only with the British Government, and not only with the
Commonwealth and the EU, but with anyone who dares to stand up to their
violent and destructive policies. ZANU-PF’s intransigent and dishonest
response to the tribunal helped leaders of SADC Governments to recognise the
true nature of what they are up against with the old guard in Zimbabwe.
Sadly, Mike Campbell paid a high price for his battle, and just three weeks
ago he died. He never really recovered from the beatings he suffered at the
hands of Mugabe’s thugs, but I hope that his death will not be in vain.
We were also able to visit the constituency of Chegutu West, and its member
of Parliament, Prince Matibe. He is the second person from that area to whom
I want to pay tribute, and he is an example of a promising young generation
of Zimbabweans who are determined to play their full part in restoring
Zimbabwe and making the country work again. They want a Zimbabwe that can
stand proudly on its feet, feed its people and provide them with jobs. It
was uplifting to travel around that constituency with the young MP, and hear
not only what he wanted to achieve for the people of his home town, but to
see some scenes of hope. Despite having slender resources, and in the face
of constant harassment and violence, Prince Matibe and his colleagues in the
MDC have worked on projects that are making a real difference to the people
of Chegutu. We visited a newly built primary school for which funds have
been raised, and we met the headmaster and some of the children. We also met
the local councillor, a member of ZANU-PF who praised the project and, I am
glad to say, was fully engaged with it. We visited a new market established
by the MDC so that local people can buy and sell local produce. It was a
small but confident beginning towards reviving a town where the biggest
local employer, a cotton ginnery that a few years ago employed 5,000 people,
now stands empty and derelict.
We had a full morning’s meeting with many Zimbabwean MPs, and we were struck
by the fact that they described themselves as “engines for development” in
their constituencies. As Lord Joffe pointed out, there are not many
countries where MPs would describe themselves in that way. One thing that
came to light during our discussions with MPs, particularly those from the
MDC, was that they did not feel sufficiently engaged with or consulted by
the implementing agencies of aid programmes that are funded by donor
Governments, including the UK. Those responsible for aid programmes are of
course anxious for their work not to be seen as interfering in any way with
the internal politics of the places in which they operate. However, there
can be dangers if local circumstances are not acknowledged.
Normally, aid agencies will consult local officials who are seen as being
professional rather than political, but that is not the case in Zimbabwe. A
deliberate ploy of ZANU-PF has been to politicise every level of life and
government in Zimbabwe, meaning that district officers and officials in
health care and education are all likely to represent the views of ZANU-PF.
To counter that, it is important that elected MPs and councillors who have a
mandate from the people be consulted. Otherwise, there is always the risk
that the views of ZANU-PF are fed into the consultation by the officials,
and the alternative MDC view is excluded because it is regarded as
political. That happens at the openings of new aid projects, for example,
when the elected MPs would not be invited because they are seen as
political. Those present are the officials, who are seen as not political,
despite actually being even more political than the MPs but without a
mandate. I know that Dave Fish took that on board as a result of some of our
discussions with MPs.
The different experience of MDC MPs and ZANU-PF MPs was brought home to us
very starkly. Although ZANU-PF representatives seem to be above the law, MDC
MPs are frequently arrested and detained in custody. One of those was
Shepherd Mushonga, who is an MDC MP for the Mazowe Central constituency and
chair of the parliamentary legal committee. We met him just after his
release on bail and he is a lovely, cheerful man. The charge against him was
that he had stolen $700-worth of excess quarry stones donated for building a
nurses home in his constituency, and used them to build a primary school.
There is a widely held perception that the rise in arrests of MPs was part
of the plan to change the voting strength of the parties in the House of
Assembly and facilitate the election of a ZANU-PF Speaker.
The Zimbabwean Speaker currently holds the chairmanship of the Southern
African Development Community Parliamentary Forum. ZANU-PF does not like the
fact that the MDC Speaker chairs that body because it plays a crucial role
on behalf of the SADC in planning, deploying and reporting on election
monitoring programmes for the whole region.
We arrived in Zimbabwe on 13 March. Three days earlier, the Supreme Court
had ruled by a majority of three to two that the election of the MDC
chairman, Lovemore Moyo, as Speaker of the House of Assembly in 2008—he has
been Speaker since then—was null and void. That ruling overturned an earlier
High Court decision that declared the election valid. The Supreme Court
decided that, of the 208 MPs voting, six had displayed their marked papers
before depositing them in the ballot box, and that the secrecy of the ballot
had been compromised. That seems a peculiar decision. On that basis, a few
voters in one of our general elections could display their marked voting
papers before depositing them in the ballot box, and render the entire
election null and void. The ballot box is secret to protect voters. If
people choose to disclose how they are voting, that is their business.
The good news, however, is that after a period of having no Speaker and no
Parliament, Lovemore Moyo was reinstated as Speaker of the House of
Assembly— many hon. Members will have met him when he visited this country.
The voting figures showed that he had been backed not only by colleagues in
the mainstream MDC and the tiny breakaway faction, but by some MPs from
ZANU-PF. That shows that the longing for reform and for a country that works
is spreading to the ranks of Mugabe’s own party, and we came across that
attitude in some ZANU-PF MPs whom we met. Although they were less robust in
their support for democratic processes than their MDC counterparts, we
gained the clear impression that they too are weary of living in a country
that is paralysed by failed policies and an intransigent leadership. Whether
he really believed it or whether he said it simply as part of the diktat
that is continually put forward, it was depressing to hear one ZANU-PF MP
state clearly that Zimbabwe is in such a mess because of sanctions, which
are stopping even medical supplies from entering the country. That is
complete and utter nonsense, but that MP believed it with a fervour that
could have come only from total indoctrination.
Another MDC MP under arrest while we were in Harare—again, someone known to
many hon. Members—was Elton Mangoma. He is the Minister responsible for
energy and power development and the co-negotiator with Tendai Biti in the
talks on the implementation of the global political agreement, facilitated
by President Zuma of South Africa under the auspices of the SADC. His arrest
and detention in custody not only had a serious impact on the working of the
inclusive Government, but exacerbated the already protracted delays in
making progress with Zuma’s facilitation team on a road map towards the full
implementation of the GPA. While we were in Harare, Elton was granted bail,
but he was then rearrested on another charge. When he was granted bail, the
state prosecutors invoked section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence
Act, which suspends bail orders for seven days, thus allowing him to be kept
in detention. He was subsequently rearrested on a further charge, but that
time the attempts of the state prosecutor to deny him bail were dismissed by
the High Court.
There is an attempt by ZANU-PF and the establishment to smear MDC MPs, and
it is continually suggested that they lack the capacity to be Ministers or
form a Government. That line is less strong now, but over the years it has
unfortunately been picked up and repeated far too easily by some of the
eminent academics involved in commentary on Africa. That is dangerous. There
are many capable and talented men and women in the MDC, and if we look at
what ZANU-PF has done to the country over the past 31 years, it is
ridiculous to say that the MDC could not do better. The economic progress
that has been made since Tendai Biti became Minister of Finance is
encouraging, and it was such a change from my previous visits to see
well-stocked shops. However, until there is the rule of law, an end to
violence and intimidation and free and fair elections under a new
constitution, investment will be scarce.
It is amazing what can be achieved with scarce resources. Paul Madzore,
another energetic and impressive MDC MP, showed us around his constituency
of Glen View South, which is a high-density suburb on the south-eastern
outskirts of Harare. We were warmly welcomed by the staff and pupils of Glen
View high school, which has brilliant O-level and A-level results—the hon.
Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport suggested that perhaps one of our
Education Ministers might like to visit that school. Despite having hundreds
of children and very few resources, that school’s results are fantastic, and
I am sure we could learn something from it.
Unfortunately, the new textbooks paid for by taxpayers in the UK and donated
to Zimbabwean schools via the Education Ministry had not yet arrived at
either of the two schools that we visited. However, the good manners and
smart uniforms were, despite all the poverty, a delight to see. What a shame
that for many pupils, their hard work and dedication will not be rewarded by
jobs when they finish their education.
I could list all the MPs who have been arrested, but I will not go into all
the details. I will simply say that just a month before our visit, another
MDC MP, Douglas Mwonzora, who is co-chairman of the constitutional
parliamentary committee, or COPAC, was arrested outside Parliament. He went
to the police to make a formal complaint after a meeting that he held in his
constituency was disrupted by a gang sent by a ZANU-PF MP, but ended up
being charged himself. His arrest clearly had a serious impact on the
timetable for the COPAC consultation programme for a new constitution. That
consultation is vital under the GPA and must be completed before new
parliamentary or presidential elections can be held.
That was strongly reinforced shortly before our visit, following the claim
by President Mugabe that he would call for elections whether or not a new
constitution was ready. He was contradicted by Marius Fransman, South Africa’s
Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, who said that
“any calls for elections without the finalisation of the constitution-making
process are in breach of the GPA as well as the constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment number 19, which gives legitimacy to the inclusive government.”
A number of people were arrested, including Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 other
social and human rights activists, who had simply brought people together to
watch some of the videos coming in about the uprising in Egypt and revolts
in Tunisia. They were arrested because watching those videos was apparently
a move to subvert a constitutionally elected Government. We can therefore
see the difficulties that people have when they want to organise.
The fighting talk that we have heard from ZANU-PF about clamping down
mercilessly on plotters of any revolts is entrenched in the thinking of the
ZANU-PF old guard. Just this week, Stan Mudenge, who is a member of the
ZANU-PF politburo and the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, vowed
to search out all the people who vote against ZANU-PF and mete out
retribution. Addressing Mugabe directly, he said:
“President, I want to tell you that some people in my constituency have
rebelled and they voted against you in 2008. They are now supporting the
puppet party MDC but I want to say that we will fish them out and deal with
them until they come back to us and do things our way.”
He went on to threaten:
“We have a very forceful and vigorous youth wing and our members of the
armed forces who will make sure that no one loses direction again like what
happened three years ago.”
There is clearly a severe attempt to intimidate and frighten people in the
lead-up to what eventually will be, we hope, free and fair elections.
That sort of talk and those threats show how important it is for
international monitors to be in place well in advance of the next election.
It underlines the fact that they should be widely deployed during polling
and that they should remain on the ground afterwards to observe the
aftermath and to deter any attempts at retribution.
It is good to see that South Africa also recognises that. Deputy President
Motlanthe recently said:
“The conception is that these elections would be a watershed like the 1980
elections that happened when the old Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. There would
be a need for an international presence of the same scale, to ensure a
bridge with the past”.
He went on to say:
“The next elections are viewed by all parties as watershed elections, and
therefore they have to prepare for them thoroughly to ensure that there will
not be any more violence or intimidation during the course of the election
I know that monitors and observers cannot simply be imposed on a country,
but as British taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for much of the
electoral infrastructure, I hope that the Minister will agree that, working
with the SADC, we should surely be setting some conditions now in the
framing of the electoral road map. Can he tell us what exactly the current
state of affairs is as far as election monitors from donor nations are
concerned? UK taxpayers have very gladly given substantial amounts of money
to provide ever increasing aid to Zimbabwe, but they cannot be expected to
do that without some freedom of access to see how these important affairs
inside the country are being run, so we do need to put conditions on some of
I am reassured that a new consensus is developing in the SADC that the
crisis in Zimbabwe is dragging down the region and compromising social
stability and economic progress. As many hon. Members know, I was a great
critic of the previous President of South Africa, Mbeki, because of how
little he seemed to do or how little he seemed to care, but President Zuma
has adopted a robust approach and the recent SADC troika meeting in Zambia
seems to have made it clear to Mugabe finally that he can no longer get away
with his old tricks of duplicity and reneging on undertakings. Indeed,
Mugabe was very angry about what he was told. I hope that the Minister will
give us his assessment of current attitudes in Governments throughout the
SADC region and more widely in the African Union.
In his report to the summit, President Zuma said that it was time for the
SADC to “speak with one voice” in impressing on all the parties concerned
the fact that the situation can no longer be tolerated. He said:
“The focus that Zimbabwean parties have placed on elections without creating
the necessary climate for those elections is an unfortunate sidetrack.”
He referred to delays in reform of the mass media, saying that there was a
“lack of political will” to implement reform.
I hope that Zuma and his SADC colleagues will pay equal attention to the
need for security sector reform. I hope that the Minister will be able to
tell us what we in the UK are doing to support the SADC in that important
area, because historically we played an important role in the integration of
the Zimbabwean army after independence and I am sure that at more junior
levels there is still a desire for the police and military to resume a
professional rather than a political role.
The Joint Operations Command is composed of the high command of the
military, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation. Many regard
it as a de facto ruling junta with the ability to overrule and countermand
any decisions of Ministers that run counter to the vested political and
business interests of the ZANU-PF political and military oligarchy.
During our visit, we were honoured to meet Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
shortly before he left on a tour to meet Heads of Government in the SADC
region, including President Banda of Zambia, who chairs the SADC troika on
politics, defence and security, as well as leaders of Botswana, Swaziland
and Mozambique. On his return, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said:
“While I was away in the last four days, it appears the civilian authority
is no longer in charge and dark and sinister forces have engaged in a
hostile takeover of running the affairs of the country, with or without the
blessing of some leaders of the civilian authority.”
That underlines the fragility of the situation and the real threat to
progress, particularly in the light of the threats made just this week by
ZANU-PF Ministers such as Mudenge. It shows why President Zuma is anxious
about the threat of serious upheavals in the region following the trend that
we have seen in north Africa.
We in the UK have close ties with Zimbabwe. There are social, political and
diplomatic links. Despite all the talk of Africa’s new connections with
China, India, Russia and other parts of the world, it is to the UK that
Zimbabweans come for asylum. It is in the UK that Zimbabweans feel most at
home if they need to live or work away from southern Africa. The diaspora
have a crucial role to play in the new Zimbabwe, and I hope that we are
giving the diaspora in the UK as much help and support as we gave those in
exile from South Africa under apartheid.
I am very proud of the role that successive Administrations in the UK have
played as advocates for change in Zimbabwe. The international response would
have been far more feeble without resolute leadership from successive Prime
Ministers and Foreign Secretaries. I think that the EU continued with its
sanctions partly because the UK Government played a very important role in
those discussions. I am glad that in this Parliament we have been able to
play a part in keeping Zimbabwe in the spotlight and in giving a voice to
the oppressed people of Zimbabwe. Many of those who lead the struggle for
democracy and freedom there have given me their heartfelt thanks for the way
in which their plight has been kept on the agenda in the House over recent
years. I look forward to hearing from the Minister about our current
engagement with our counterparts in the region
North Africa and the middle east may be in the headlines, but the UK has a
particular responsibility for Zimbabwe and our job as parliamentarians is to
ensure that the Government continue to give support and help wherever they
can to bring about a clear timetable and a road map towards democracy,
freedom and prosperity for the people of Zimbabwe and of southern Africa as
Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Con): May I begin by
thanking you, Mr Robertson, for calling me in the debate and giving me the
opportunity to serve under your chairmanship? May I also congratulate and
thank the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) for securing this debate on
Zimbabwe, a part of the world with which I have had a long association since
I was 19? I lived in southern Africa for several months in 1979, and I was
there when, following the Lusaka Commonwealth conference, this country’s
Conservative Government announced the setting up of the Lancaster House
conference. In 1994, I spent nearly a month in neighbouring Malawi with my
hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) observing the campaign
that saw Hastings Banda lose the first presidential election he had ever
contested. That experience taught me that fighting elections in Africa is
very different from fighting elections in the United Kingdom, because the
roles of the chief and the village leaders, as well as access to balanced
radio, are vital if the Opposition are to triumph.
Having spent 13 years as a Conservative party agent in south London, I found
the trip with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to strengthen
parliamentary links most stimulating and rewarding, but it was also deeply
worrying. Last month, while the eyes of the world were focused on Libya and
the middle east, I, the hon. Member for Vauxhall and Lord Joffe, who was
Nelson Mandela’s and Jacob Zuma’s lawyer during the apartheid years, spent
three days in meetings with the Prime Minister, MDC and ZANU-PF MPs, human
rights lawyers and members of Zimbabwe’s civil society. I should say that at
one stage during a dinner with some of the human rights lawyers I asked what
they would do for a living should the whole situation be cleared up, and
they did not have too much of a response. The trip also gave me an
opportunity to have a refresher course in Zimbabwe’s politics, and I am
grateful to the hon. Lady, Lord Joffe and David Banks, who is the all-party
group’s convenor, for all their briefing and advice.
As many Members might be aware, the Chinese are investing heavily in Africa,
particularly in Zimbabwe. They are financing the building of the Robert
Mugabe national school of intelligence, a military academy just outside
Harare, which is likely to contain communications equipment similar to that
which one might find at GCHQ.
Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): The hon. Gentleman raises a most
interesting point about Chinese investment in Africa. Does he agree that our
Government should do all they can to ensure that any Chinese investment
overseas is used for good, not for bad?
Oliver Colvile: I thoroughly agree, and I will come to one or two points
about that in the next few moments.
There is a real danger that Zimbabwe, sitting on South African borders,
could become a Chinese-compliant nation. It should be noted that the Chinese
are now South Africa’s largest trading partners. Unless we are careful, the
Chinese could easily have access to the submarine base in Simon’s Town and
therefore have an opportunity to control the all-important cape routes,
which we need to send our trade to the far east. That is why what happens in
Zimbabwe matters, and why it is important that there are free and fair
Fairly soon after my colleagues and I arrived, we grasped the fact that two
campaigns were going on in Zimbabwe: the air war to place pressure on SADC
and President Zuma to encourage peaceful, free and fair elections; and a
ground war to ensure that the MDC and other Opposition parties can campaign
on a level playing field in the general election expected this autumn. The
first process, which is intended to encourage SADC and the African Union to
support the efforts of President Zuma and his facilitation team to plan and
implement a road map towards credible and internationally recognised
elections, will be much easier said than done.
It is part of African culture always to be deferential to leaders, who are
seen as heroes and warriors. Whatever else we might feel and think, I am
afraid that President Mugabe is seen as one such warrior and as someone who
successfully fought for Zimbabwe’s independence after years of colonial
rule. During his recent visit to a South African football stadium, he gained
a standing ovation from the general public. Jacob Zuma’s desire to find ways
of returning the 2 million Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa is being
hindered by the fact that he faces local council elections in the summer and
is likely to suffer some fairly heavy defeats, especially in some of the
If we are serious about creating an environment for fair and peaceful
elections, we must provide Mugabe and his supporters with a face-saving
solution. Mugabe’s disappearance as President will not be the end of the
matter, as too many people around him, especially those in the army,
including senior army officials, have too much invested in his presidency.
ZANU-PF sees him as its greatest asset in the forthcoming election. Whatever
happens, the role of the army and the high command will be important,
because they will be keen to hold on to their investment, especially their
farms and other assets. They want to use Mugabe to secure their future for a
few more years.
Within minutes of arriving in Harare, my colleagues and I were astonished to
learn that 26 MDC MPs had been arrested, that the Speaker, Lovemore Moyo,
was being forced to face re-election, and that beatings had started again in
rural communities in the run-up to the general election expected later this
year. Hon. Members can imagine what the outcry in this country would be if
27% of MPs from one political party were arrested, placed in prison and
forced to raise funds to pay their bail. That would be the equivalent of 83
Conservative MPs or nearly 60 Labour MPs being arrested. I have no doubt
that there would be an absolute outcry about that in this country and
throughout the world—and rightly so.
Stephen Twigg (Liverpool, West Derby) (Lab/Co-op): It would depend on which
MPs were arrested.
Oliver Colvile: I recognise that some in the Chamber might wish a number of
those 83 Conservative MPs to be arrested, and that some of my hon. Friends
might want some of those 60 Labour MPs to be arrested.
Little international attention is being paid to the plight of those
Zimbabwean MPs, to the beatings or to how the proceeds from the Marange
diamond fields, which are said to be the largest in the world, are being
managed. Some 97% of those diamond fields are under the military’s direct
control, and it is thought—I say it no more strongly than that—that the
proceeds are being used to fund ZANU-PF’s political activities.
On preparing for the elections, many of those whom my colleagues and I met
during our brief stay made it clear that there is a real need to allow
outside observers into the country to follow the registration process at an
early stage. The need for a new list of electors was underlined by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which reckons that 27% of the names on the
existing list are those of dead people.
Overseeing the elections will cost money, and the EU and the UK will be
asked to make a significant contribution. I quite understand that the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office feels that it cannot observe the elections
unless it has received an invitation. However, the Mugabe Government have
been keen to drive a wedge between themselves and the MDC so that the MDC
will walk out and the Government can say, “There we go. They couldn’t
stomach it.” We need to encourage SADC and President Zuma to place pressure
on President Mugabe and ZANU-PF to begin registration soon and to allow our
observers in. Observers must be allowed into the country at the start of the
process, not in the last few weeks of the campaign. If European and British
observers are allowed in only at the end of the election campaign, the
damage and intimidation will already have taken place.
There are, however, other practical things that we in Britain can do through
our established political parties or the highly respected Westminster
Foundation for Democracy, which is chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for
South West Devon (Mr Streeter). During our visit, my colleagues and I talked
to a number of MDC MPs and looked at the equipment in their constituency
offices and at what they can spend on campaigning. We also met moderate
ZANU-PF MPs, who may well be needed in a future MDC-led Government. When
visiting Paul Madzore’s Glen View South constituency on the outskirts of
Harare, we were struck by the lack of duplicators to produce leaflets and by
the lack of access to broadband. During a visit to one of the markets,
however, I was fortunate to be able to liberate one or two of the ZANU-PF
leaflets lying around.
We need to impress on SADC that if it is serious about credible elections,
something must be done to make sure that, during the campaign, ZANU-PF is
not allowed to deploy state resources, as well as the proceeds of illegal
diamond sales and illegally seized commercial assets, while the MDC is
under-resourced and unable to produce leaflets and to inform the electorate
of a country in which 97% of children can read and write. Is not that
statistic a fantastic result? It is certainly something about which there
should be great pride, and perhaps we can learn some lessons from it.
We need to ensure that there is balance in the electronic media and that the
non-ZANU-PF Opposition have the opportunity to broadcast their message via
radio. Although there has been some freedom in parts of the written press,
there is no freedom on television or radio. Perhaps the Department for
International Development could consider funding a transmitter in a
neighbouring state, such as Botswana or Mozambique, to provide balance.
I hope that our useful debate has done much to raise the profile of some of
the issues that face a country that was once the breadbasket of Africa. I
urge the Minister to consider further ways to encourage SADC to bring about
fair and free elections, and to ensure that there is a level playing field
for all the political parties.
Several hon. Members rose —
John Robertson (in the Chair): Order. We should be able to fit in all
colleagues wishing to speak, but I intend to call the Front-Bench spokesmen
no later than 10.40 am, so will Back Benchers please use the time as best
Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I congratulate the hon. Member for Vauxhall
(Kate Hoey) on bringing this topic to the Chamber today. I also congratulate
the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) on his
speech. I shall make only a couple of quick points because I am conscious
that other hon. Members wish to speak. My interest in Zimbabwe—or Rhodesia,
which probably puts me an older age bracket—comes from my constituency and
from those who left Rhodesia, as it was called when they were residents, due
to persecution, discrimination and because they wanted a different life for
their children and families.
Previous speakers have commented on the need for elections, about which I
have some concerns. Will they be fair? Will they be called too soon? Worry
has been expressed about holding the elections this year, because they could
be construed as unfair because of the nature of the electoral list. I make
that comment because perhaps a third of the 5.5 million people in Zimbabwe
who are registered to vote are not even in the land of the living, which
makes predicting how an election will go very interesting. If a third of
those 5.5 million people have passed on to the next world but can reach from
the grave to cast their vote, there must be suspicions about whether the
elections will be fair and give the result that they should.
Some figures indicate that if someone wants a long life, they should live in
Zimbabwe, because some people on the voting list are between 111 and 120
years old. In one area of Zimbabwe alone, 503 people on the voting list have
passed on. Will the elections be fair? Will the Minister indicate how he,
through his Department and his contacts with Zimbabwe, will ensure that fair
elections take place? Only when there is a credible electoral list can we be
sure that the elections will be fair and will give the result that they
I wish to comment on the views expressed about ZANU-PF and its treatment of
the MDC. I am concerned about the trumped up charges and the spurious
allegations, which undermine the democratic process that is being taken
forward in Zimbabwe. I hope that the Minister will indicate how he sees
change being brought about to secure the democratic process and ensure that
the electorate in Zimbabwe has the chance to speak.
I commend MDC members for their contribution in their ministerial posts.
They have been able to change a bankrupt economy into one that is showing
growth. That is good news, and it shows what can happen in what was once the
breadbasket of southern Africa, as the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and
I have the same concerns as the hon. Gentleman about Chinese imperialism—I
use that term honestly and factually, because that is exactly what it is.
China has armed Zimbabwe with planes, weapons, artillery and everything that
a modern army needs. It has ensured that Zimbabwe has modern communications
equipment, as he indicated. China clearly has a path and strategy on
Zimbabwe. Given our close relationship with Zimbabwe, I hope that we will
use our political and diplomatic channels to ensure that we bring about
change. Such change can happen only with the support of Zimbabwe’s
neighbours, which I hope they will give.
I conclude with a comment made by Ian Smith when he was the Prime Minister
of Rhodesia, as it was then, at a time of change. Looking back now, the
change that he was looking at was never the change that we all would like.
The change we need today is the same as the change that we needed in Ian
Smith’s time. His statement was taken from Winston Churchill, who was a real
hero of mine as a schoolboy:
“this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is,
perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
We hope that Zimbabwe will reach that stage from which it can move forward.
I look forward to the Minister’s response, and I hope that we can make the
changes necessary in Zimbabwe.
Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): I congratulate the hon. Member for
Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) and all the members of the all-party group, including
the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile), on
securing the debate and on keeping the issue high up the political agenda.
The hon. Lady is right when she says that there is a risk of indifference at
times, especially as more exciting political events on the international
stage seem to take people’s attention, but it is important that Zimbabwe
remains on the agenda.
We may take different views on which reforms we want and when we want them,
but whatever our coalition’s disagreements over constitutional reform and
its progress, at least my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for
Energy and Climate Change has not ended up in chains in court, and at least
my hon. Friend the Minister for Equalities has not had to go into hiding,
which is what their opposite numbers in the Zimbabwean Government have had
to endure. Elton Mangoma and Theresa Makone deserve enormous credit for the
courage with which they have faced appalling abuses not only of public
freedom, but of parliamentary, political and even governmental and
ministerial freedom. It is extraordinary, but they are of course only the
tip of the iceberg. The hon. Member for Vauxhall and many others pointed out
the level of abuse in Zimbabwe, which unfortunately seems to be increasing
again as the elections draw closer after it had seemed to subside.
The situation in north Africa, particularly Libya, holds lessons for various
people, but sadly the lesson for some dictators might be that if they treat
rebellion and dissent with sufficient violence and determination, they might
have a chance of surviving and succeeding. That is obviously a lesson that
we do not want ZANU-PF to be able to draw, so there is an interest in this
for the international community, and the same lesson could be drawn from the
situations in Yemen and Syria as we speak. We need to make it clear to the
international community that that must not be the lesson drawn, and it must
act with resolution in all those situations.
Luckily or unluckily, any thought of military intervention in Zimbabwe,
despite what some constituents might occasionally call for, is absolutely
out of the question, as I am sure the Minister will confirm. The important
thing is that we should work not only with the international community but
with regional organisations. Others have referred to the lead role of the
Southern African Development Community, but the African Union is a
co-guarantor of the global political agreement. I would be interested to
hear from the Minister the latest intelligence from the African Union and
others, and what position they are taking to guarantee that the
constitutional process is going forward.
Of course, one country has an absolutely key role: South Africa is the
leading political and economic force in the region. It is interesting that
President Zuma has taken a robust line on the constitutional process. In
gratitude, he is coming under attack from the state media in Zimbabwe, which
recently described him as a “dishonest broker”. The language is becoming
quite fierce, but in a funny sort of way that is an encouraging development.
It is a sign that the southern African political community as a whole is
becoming more realistic in its treatment of Robert Mugabe’s regime, and that
it is prepared to make enemies within the ZANU-PF movement. South Africa’s
historic position in the region is inevitably one of moral and political
leadership. We should give President Zuma all possible support in that role,
and I would be interested to hear what the Minister has to say on his latest
contacts with the president.
With the onset of elections in Zimbabwe, we are in a sense putting the cart
before the horse. The constitutional reform process was supposed, ideally,
to precede the next round of elections, but that now seems to be in doubt. I
would be interested to hear the Minister’s latest take on that aspect.
We are in a difficult situation with all countries where violent and
dictatorial forces are in play. In many countries around the world—I look at
East Timor, the former Yugoslavia and, I hope, Côte d'Ivoire—these
dictatorial and violent forces have ultimately been defeated. We see clear
defeat there, rather than compromise, yet our urge to avoid confrontation
obviously leads us to suggest political solutions, with compromises and
deals. Indeed, that was the source of the global political agreement in
Zimbabwe, but it has not served the purposes that we hoped. Perhaps we
should encourage the regional community to take a more robust political
approach in Zimbabwe.
The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport was right to mention
China. It is clearly investing a great deal of money in Africa. It is not
generally clear where that money is going, but some of it is certainly going
in less than helpful directions, such as armaments and intelligence and
communications capacity. China’s hand is being seen in some of the least
savoury regimes around the world—we can add Sudan and North Korea and
various other countries to the list—and that has the potential to do China’s
international reputation a great deal of harm. Commercial logic alone should
show the Chinese that investing in regimes that are inherently unstable
because they rely on violence and coercion will not be a good long-term
strategy for China.
Oliver Colvile: One reason that the Chinese are interested in Africa is that
it is wealthy in mineral rights and such things. If the Chinese can have
some control over that, they will be very happy. They are not particularly
interested, as I understand it, in what takes place in the country; they
tend to bring in their own workers, who do everything that they have to do
and then leave. That is a big problem. Some may say that they are acting in
an imperious manner—they most certainly are, and in a very big way—and we in
the UK have to be most concerned about that as it could be another sparking
point. We may have trouble at the moment in the middle east, but it could be
significantly worse elsewhere.
John Robertson (in the Chair): Order. Interventions should be short.
Martin Horwood: The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. The risk is that the
Chinese will not leave once the resources have been exploited but that its
interests will continue in many of these countries. It is imperialism on the
model of the East India Company, I suppose.
Imperialism is a strong word to use, but there is certainly a risk of
Chinese political and commercial dominance in some of these countries, and
exploitation of the political vulnerability of these unsavoury and
undemocratic regimes. That, of course, raises uncomfortable political
questions for China itself, but the democratic international community needs
to make a stand on that question. There certainly seems to be potential for
an alliance between the UK, the European Union and the democratic west and
the democratic nations of southern Africa.
I turn briefly to Mozambique. It is a democracy and a member of the
Commonwealth. However, the exploitation of the Marange diamond fields is
allowing diamonds to be smuggled or illegally exported to avoid Zimbabwean
taxation. Revenue clearly passes back to the military and the coffers of
ZANU-PF. It seems to me that the Government could make representations to
the Mozambique Government to take a stronger attitude to controlling the
Zimbabwean border, as it is a vital financial link in the chain that
supports the regime.
I shall be encouraged if the Minister has good news for us, but I realise
that it is a difficult situation. However, I believe that our instinct to
take a robust line on human rights and democracy and to seek internationally
based co-operation as a solution to problems of dictatorship and violence
will serve us well.
Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): I thank the hon. Member for
Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) for securing this debate, and I thank my hon. Friend
the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) and others
for their contributions. I believe that Zimbabwe has a place in all our
hearts. I am a former farmer. I visited Zimbabwe as an election observer for
the European Union in 2000 and fell in love with the country. Its politics
are a disaster. It is not about race or creed; it is about politics—and the
man, basically a madman, who is destroying the country. I find it amazing
that over the years the people of Zimbabwe have been able to stand the
pressure, yet there is still some semblance of what is right and wrong, of
what is law, despite all that ZANU-PF and Mugabe have done.
I emphasise the need for election observers to be in Zimbabwe quite early in
the process. I was in Zimbabwe in 2000, when MDC first came to the fore; it
would have won the election, no two ways about it, had it not been for the
fear and intimidation. We should not forget the re-education camps out in
the countryside; basically, they get hold of a population and re-educate
them to ensure that they vote for ZANU-PF. They dig trenches and put coffins
in them, and then make the people walk across them saying, “If you don’t
vote for ZANU-PF, that’s where you’ll land up—in that coffin.” The guys that
have been doing all this beating up and intimidation are then found sitting
in the polling stations on election day, watching people come in to vote. I
cannot believe what the people of Zimbabwe have to go through.
I remember that one of the returning officers in Harare in 2000 was a school
headmistress. She went along to the polling station and hoiked out all the
ZANU-PF polling agents. In those days she would have had the power and
audacity to do that, but ever since, of course, it is being broken down.
That is why we have to get election observers in there, and we have to get
them in reasonably early so that we can see what is going on.
The electoral roll will be completely manipulated, as it was back in 2000.
Then it had been worked out that most of those who would vote for the MDC
were more educated and moved around Zimbabwe a lot, so no one was allowed to
re-register. In that way, they managed to exclude an awful lot of the
population. Not only were 25% or 30% unable to vote, but they found reasons
to exclude anyone that they thought would vote for the MDC.
We are rightly giving aid to Zimbabwe, but we must put some conditions on
that aid. There must be some form of governance. We in the UK are in a
coalition, are we not; but how on earth would a coalition work in Zimbabwe?
We in the Conservative party might think, “Right, we don’t like what the
Liberal Democrats are doing, so we’ll arrest them all and put them in jail,
especially if there’s a vote and we think we’re likely to lose it in
Parliament. Let’s lock ‘em all up. It’s a very good form of democracy, isn’t
it? You make sure you win the vote by arresting the opposition.” It is not
any form of coalition or democratic Government as we know it. That is where
things are going horribly wrong in Zimbabwe.
Then there are all the farms in Zimbabwe that are being given to the
so-called “war veterans”. Some of them look remarkably young if they are war
veterans from the 1970s. Most of them are probably in their 30s or 40s—there
is no way that they are war veterans. I will be quite blunt: they are a
bunch of thugs, basically, hired by Mugabe to go round and destroy these
farms. Of course, once they get the farms, there is another problem. They
drive off not only the farmers themselves but the farm workers, and we
should not forget that these farms are homesteads that include a school and
a medical centre. These farms are communities in themselves and everyone is
driven off them, leaving nobody to farm them. The machinery is destroyed and
the cattle are killed, and the whole process just brings about a degradation
of agriculture. Instead of Zimbabwe being the bread basket of Africa, it is
now receiving food aid. That is just impossible to believe.
I know the Minister will say how difficult the situation is, and it is very
difficult. I am fairly hawkish about these matters. Let me be blunt: if we
had enough armed forces I would be quite happy to see some of them sent to
Zimbabwe, but that is not going to happen and I am a realist in that
respect. Nevertheless, we must face up to the fact that the Chinese are
going into Zimbabwe with their own work force. If they want to take out
minerals, they take away the hill that the minerals are in and it just
disappears from Zimbabwe and goes back to China. That is what the Chinese
are about. They are not investing in Zimbabwe for the right reasons and we
must be clear about that, because what we need is investment—good
international investment—in Zimbabwe. However, who will provide that
investment while the farms are being repossessed? In fact, the thugs are now
fed up because there is not enough wealth to find on the farms, so they go
into the cities, such as Harare and Bulawayo, and that is the problem. They
are destroying the businesses that people should be investing in.
I say to the Minister with all sincerity that, however difficult it is to do
so, when we give support to Zimbabwe let us actually try to bring about a
democratic change, because when we can get some form of reasonable
governance in Zimbabwe the people of Zimbabwe will be more than ready for
it. They will work together. That country, which is a highly educated
country, will prosper. Perhaps in some way, that is where Mugabe went wrong:
he educated people in Zimbabwe, and they could then find out that there was
a better way to run and rule their country. I urge the Minister to bring
about genuine change in Zimbabwe, and we will give him all the help we can.
Stephen Twigg (Liverpool, West Derby) (Lab/Co-op): Thank you very much, Mr
Robertson, for calling me to speak. I join other hon. Members in
congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) on
securing this important and timely debate. I pay tribute to her tenacity and
long-standing involvement in this cause, in her role as chairman of the
all-party group on Zimbabwe. She and other Members have spoken eloquently
today about the tragedy of what has happened in recent years in Zimbabwe,
and about the courage of those in the country who have stood up to Mugabe.
She mentioned the Movement for Democratic Change, the trade union movement
in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean civil society.
Debates such as this are an important opportunity for Parliament to
demonstrate on a cross-party basis our commitment to and solidarity with the
people of Zimbabwe in these difficult times. On 10 March there was a debate
in the other place, secured by Lord Avebury, in which a number of important
contributions were made, again on a cross-party basis. One was from Lord
Chidgey, who placed great emphasis on the importance of security sector
reform in Zimbabwe, an issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for
Vauxhall this morning. In that debate, Baroness Kinnock, a former Minister
with responsibility for Africa, placed great emphasis on the important role
that the European Union can play, a point echoed in a number of this morning’s
My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall referred to the tendency of ZANU-PF
to smear the MDC and other critics and opponents. In February, I had the
opportunity to meet Zimbabwe’s Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe, and
the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jameson Timba, here in
London. Both are members of the MDC and, like my hon. Friend, I was very
impressed by their dedication and professionalism, which give the lie to the
smears against them that she described.
I also want to put on the record my appreciation for the work of a number of
organisations in and around Zimbabwe, such as the Open Society Foundation.
Here in the UK there is Action for Southern Africa, which arose out of the
former Anti-Apartheid Movement, and the British Trades Union Congress. I
also echo the thanks and appreciation that my hon. Friend expressed to the
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and I support her in saying that we
look forward to the eventual return of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth.
I know that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth
Affairs, the hon. Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham), who is the
Minister with responsibility for Africa, is in Africa today, and I welcome
the Minister for Europe to his place in Westminster Hall to respond to the
debate. Last month, I tabled a question to the Under-Secretary asking him
what recent discussions he has had on the role of the Southern African
Development Community in monitoring progress towards the 24 goals in the
global political agreement. I want to take this opportunity to thank him for
his response and to put on the record on the Opposition’s behalf that we
absolutely share the Government’s concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe,
and that we appreciate the strong and real personal commitment to Africa
that he has demonstrated since he took office almost a year ago.
I also want to put on the record that we welcome the statement in February
by the Foreign Secretary supporting the European Union’s rolling over of
restrictive measures—travel restrictions and asset freezes—for those who
have perpetuated human rights abuses and political oppression in Zimbabwe,
and of course the continuation of the arms embargo on Zimbabwe. These
measures from the EU offer an important bargaining tool with which we can
apply pressure on Mugabe’s regime. As a number of hon. Members have said
during the debate, we cannot and must not leave unchallenged ZANU-PF’s
claims that the EU’s targeted measures are in any way undermining the
humanitarian aid that is needed to assist the people of Zimbabwe. As the
hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) said, those
measures are only needed because of the policies of Mugabe.
As the hon. Gentleman also said, Zimbabwe was formerly the bread basket of
Africa, but in recent years we have seen a very significant increase in the
UK’s bilateral aid to Zimbabwe. I am pleased that the previous Labour
Government increased that aid to £67 million in the last financial
year—2009-10—and I very much welcome the fact that this Government have
decided to maintain that bilateral aid. However, I agree with hon. Members,
from all parties, who have said that that aid should be an opportunity for
us to exert more leverage on Zimbabwe in this crucial period. My hon. Friend
the Member for Vauxhall made the very important point that, in the case of
Zimbabwe, consulting officials rather than elected politicians is perhaps
not the best route, and certainly should not be the only route in terms of
the implementation of aid; and that we should also consider consulting
elected members of Parliament and councillors in Zimbabwe on a cross-party
Martin Horwood: We need to treat the conditionality of aid very cautiously.
The hon. Gentleman’s Government—the last Labour Government—were right to
grant aid to Zimbabwe through the UN and NGOs exclusively, rather than
giving aid from Government to Government, and we have been right to follow
that policy. It is important to understand that point.
Stephen Twigg: I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. What I sought to do
was to echo an important point made by my hon. Friend the Member for
Vauxhall about the specific circumstances right now in Zimbabwe. An approach
that relies on officials, which may well make sense in the vast majority of
countries, does not make sense in the case of Zimbabwe, for the reasons my
hon. Friend set out earlier.
I echo what a number of hon. Members have said about the robust approach of
President Zuma, which, as my hon. Friend has said, stands in stark contrast
to the lamentable record of his predecessor. I also agree with the hon.
Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport. I happened to be in South Africa
in 2003 when Walter Sisulu had just died, and I saw the pictures of Mugabe
at Sisulu’s funeral. Mugabe got exactly the sort of response then that the
hon. Gentleman described in his speech today, and we need to remember that
public opinion in Africa, particularly southern Africa, is a challenge, and
that we should give whatever support we can to President Zuma and to other
Governments in the region who are now prepared to stand up to Mugabe’s
We have seen some progress in recent years towards economic improvements in
Zimbabwe—my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall referred to visiting shops
that were full of produce—but clearly, as this debate has demonstrated,
political developments have fallen well short of what we would expect.
Targeted measures remain an essential lever at our disposal, but we also
need to press a number of issues that require immediate and intensive
political and diplomatic pressure.
First, there is the need for a new constitution that is endorsed by the
people of Zimbabwe, and I press the Minister to respond to the points made
by almost all this morning’s speakers about the vital importance of getting
election monitors on the ground as soon as possible. Secondly, there is the
importance of opening space for a free media to publish. The hon. Member for
Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport spoke about access to balanced radio and the
possibility of securing Department for International Development funding for
that. Thirdly, there is the crucial importance of an independently verified
electoral register. The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) spoke about
people who are on the register but are no longer with us, and about fairness
in the electoral register being important in there being a free and fair
election. The hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) spoke about
the experience of manipulation of the register in Zimbabwean elections.
Fourthly, there is the crucial role that we can play in securing the
root-and-branch reform of the security sector.
Progress, as this debate has demonstrated, has been painfully slow. I
welcome the establishment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Human Rights
Commission and Media Commission, but it is demonstrable that those bodies do
not have sufficient resources to operate effectively, and there is a real
danger that what should be independent bodies might serve no purpose other
than the objectives of Mugabe and his supporters. Any election that is held
ahead of an agreement to a new constitution, the opening of space for free
media, an independently verified electoral register and security sector
reforms, will not be acceptable, and it is vital to restate that throughout
The hon. Member for Cheltenham (Martin Horwood) spoke about the escalation
of abuse in the run-up to elections, and I want to highlight the very
concerning recent escalation of violence in Zimbabwe, and to refer to an
excellent but disturbing report from Human Rights Watch, “Perpetual Fear:
Impunity and Cycles of Violence in Zimbabwe”, which documents the context of
impunity within which ZANU-PF activists have perpetrated systematic violence
against other Zimbabweans, whose only aspirations are for a free and
democratic Zimbabwe. Human Rights Watch has observed the active and passive
forms of impunity that are fostered by the democratic deficit in Zimbabwe,
and as long as fear and intimidation are either encouraged or ignored by the
state apparatus, democratic developments will not be achieved.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall said, SADC has an increasingly
important role to play. She said that there are reasons to be hopeful, but
the situation is fragile. What today’s debate has demonstrated once again is
the very real cross-party agreement in this House in standing up for the
people of Zimbabwe. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport
talked about the important role that the Westminster Foundation for
Democracy could play, and I echo those words.
A number of hon. Members have referred to events elsewhere in Africa and the
middle east, and there is clearly a danger that the world, and the UK in
particular, will take its eye off the ball. We have a unique influence and
we need to use it, as has been said, both directly with South Africa and
with the other SADC countries, the wider African Union, which has its own
responsibilities, and our European Union partners. I am keen to hear the
Minister’s current assessment, as the Minister for Europe, of the
perspective at a European level, and also at an African level, with the role
that SADC and the African Union have to play.
My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall paid tribute to Mike Campbell, and
said that we must hope that his death was not in vain. Too many lives have
been lost in Zimbabwe; too many people have suffered through the tyranny and
thuggishness of the Mugabe regime. We must not take our eye off the ball. I
again congratulate my hon. Friend and the other members of the all-party
group, and I look forward to the Minister’s response, which I am sure will
demonstrate that the Government maintain their absolute commitment to the
people of Zimbabwe, and the absolute commitment of the British people to
securing a democratic future for the country.
The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): I thank the hon. Member for
Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) for initiating the debate and for giving the House the
opportunity to express views upon Zimbabwe this morning, and I also thank
all those who have taken part: the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby
(Stephen Twigg), my hon. Friends the Members for Plymouth, Sutton and
Devonport (Oliver Colvile), for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) and for
Cheltenham (Martin Horwood), and the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim
Shannon). All of their contributions spoke from a mixture of heart and head.
What came through to me was the profound commitment, and love—I do not think
that too strong a word—on the part of those Members for Zimbabwe and its
people, coupled with an appreciation of the complexity and difficulty of the
challenges that the country faces, and of the efforts by successive United
Kingdom Governments to do what is best to try to make it possible for the
people of Zimbabwe to decide upon the destiny of their own country. I thank
the hon. Lady also for her kind words about the Minister for Africa, my hon.
Friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham), and about our
ambassador to Zimbabwe and the head of the DFID team in that country.
In discussing Zimbabwe, it is right to focus on not only the deep-rooted and
abiding problems that afflict the country, but, as the hon. Lady did in her
opening speech, on the progress that has been made in the face of difficult
odds, since the formation of the inclusive Government in 2008. There has
been a marked economic recovery, illustrated by a robust 8% growth rate in
2010, although it is also fair to remind ourselves, as has been said, that
some sectors, most notably agriculture, are failing to perform at anything
like their full potential because of the disastrous economic policies
pursued by Zimbabwean leaders.
Reports of human rights abuses since the formation of the inclusive
Government have fallen well below the peak, but there has been a worrying
trend in the early months of this year of a reverse in those promising
signals. There has been greater freedom for the print media, and the
constitutional review process, despite its frailties, has helped to open up
democratic space. The important point to note is that those achievements,
both economic and political, are a tribute to the courage, dedication and
persistence of reformers of all stripes in Zimbabwe. I pay tribute to all
the reformist politicians, civil society groups, free trade unionists,
churches and others in Zimbabwe who express their hopes for and work their
utmost towards a better future for their country. Those people and
organisations are not the creatures of any foreign power; they are the
authentic expressions and voices of the people of Zimbabwe.
However, those efforts by many in Zimbabwe risk being undermined by a few
who wish to sacrifice their own country’s prosperity and political
development in order to hang on to power and the opportunity for plunder.
Resisting those efforts and reinforcing Zimbabwe’s progress with a process
for free, fair and credible elections will demand still greater courage and
commitment from reformers in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the region
and those members of the wider international community in Africa and
elsewhere, including the United Kingdom, that support Zimbabwe’s transition
to full democratic freedom.
Rightly, much of this debate has focused on the great concerns about the
increase in reports of politically motivated violence since the new year.
The Government share that concern. The high-profile arrests and threatened
arrests of senior members of the inclusive Government in March and April
signalled a stepping up of the partisan politicisation of the legal process.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham was right to pay tribute to the
courage and endurance of leading democratic politicians in Zimbabwe in the
face of such treatment. We remain equally concerned by ongoing reports of
rising intimidation targeting civil society groups and political activists.
Several hon. Members asked about the Government’s view of the regional
approach to the political challenges facing Zimbabwe. South Africa and the
Southern African Development Community more generally act as the
facilitators and guarantors of the global political agreement and play the
lead role in brokering an agreement on a road map to free and fair
elections. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham pointed out, it is
somewhat ironic that the global political agreement should have been fully
implemented by now, yet Zimbabweans and the SADC are trying to agree on a
path to the next round of elections before the GPA has been implemented
anywhere near fully.
President Zuma of South Africa has shown in the creation of the elections
road map that he is prepared to demonstrate strong and active leadership in
the region. We hope that that critical document will address the many
individual points raised by hon. Members during this debate, including the
quality of the electoral register, the reform of the electoral commission,
access to media and provision for the presence of international observers at
the elections. The United Kingdom is certainly ready to support
international observers in any way possible, yet it remains the case that we
can send observers only in response to an invitation from the Government of
On the points made about this country’s programme of bilateral aid,
following the bilateral aid review, our programme of aid to Zimbabwe has
been increased further to £80 million for 2011-12, the largest amount yet.
That is crucial. Our aid provides vital support, in particular for primary
education and basic health treatment inside Zimbabwe. For example, last year
we provided essential medicines to 1,300 primary care clinics and rural
hospitals. The nature of that aid and the fact that it is distributed via
the United Nations and non-governmental organisations rather than through
the Zimbabwean Government means that I am cautious, to put it lightly, about
calls for greater conditionality in the provision of aid, although I
guarantee to the hon. Member for Vauxhall and my hon. Friend the Member for
Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport that I will report to my right hon. Friend
the Secretary of State for International Development on the points they made
Kate Hoey: I thank the Minister. I think we are all conscious of the issues
involved in aid. Our point is that it is not necessarily the Department for
International Development but the agencies themselves—the big charities
working in countries such as Zimbabwe—that need to be much more aware. They
try so hard not to be political that they end up being political in how they
operate on the ground.
Mr Lidington: The hon. Lady has made her point well. I will ensure that my
right hon. Friend is made fully aware of the case that she makes.
The EU targeted measures on Zimbabwe remain in force. This Government remain
committed to them, and the European Union has made clear its commitment to
the continuation of those measures. We remain willing to revisit them within
the year, but only if further concrete developments take place on the
ground. We will not be shifted by coerced signatures on a partisan petition.
On behalf of the Government, I make it clear again that we need to lay to
rest the delusional nonsense that the EU targeted measures, which apply to
163 individuals and 31 entities in Zimbabwe, are somehow responsible for the
widespread deprivation and suffering endured by the people of Zimbabwe. The
right way to help with the economic plight of the people in Zimbabwe is for
Zimbabwe’s leaders to pursue the kinds of economic policy and give the
commitments to good governance that will attract investment and add to
Zimbabwe’s trade relationships with the region and the rest of the world.
Given the time, I will write to my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth,
Sutton and Devonport about the Kimberley diamond process and Marange, and I
will copy the letter to other Members who have taken part in this debate. As
my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for Africa has made clear on
numerous occasions, we continue to take a firm line within the EU, which
acts on our behalf in the Kimberley process, insisting that Zimbabwe should
comply fully with the rules laid down in the process before diamond exports
China has an important role in the growth and development of Africa, and
considerable progress has been made in areas such as infrastructure as a
result of Chinese financing. Like China, we see trade as vital to helping
African economies to grow and escape poverty, but one lesson of the
developing world is that as countries grow and develop, they require not
just physical infrastructure but skills, improved health services and,
critically, better governance, better public institutions and a clear
commitment to the rule of law rather than arbitrary government. We believe
that it is vital that donors, including China, be open about their
investments and make clear what they are spending and what results they
achieve. That enables people to hold Governments to account and ensure that
donors co-ordinate their work effectively.
Interestingly, some of China’s recent experience, for example in Zambia or
Libya, might give pause for thought to those who have assumed that China can
maintain an economic relationship with African nations without regard to
issues of governance and the rule of law. Where those prove lacking,
investment and the safety of expatriate workers can sometimes turn out to be
at considerable risk.
I express once again my gratitude to all those who have taken part in this
debate. The Government remain determined to pursue the course on which we
are set, and we hope to see Zimbabwe reach a more prosperous and democratic
Friday 29 April, 2011
Members of the National Standing Committee
Members of the National Executive and Council
Representatives of the Trade Unions and Civil Society
Members of the Diplomatic Corp,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Comrades and Friends,
It is with great pleasure that I stand before you today at this historic Congress. This is our Party’s final congress before the next watershed elections. Those elections will represent the culmination of the hard work, sacrifice and dedication to democracy exhibited by millions of Zimbabweans over the past 11 years.
For, the MDC will win the next elections, we will form the next Government and we will take Zimbabwe into a new era of peace, prosperity, dignity and hope. We will achieve this because we are together, united winning and ready for real change.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends, everyone one of us gathered here today carries the scars from the struggle that begun with the formation of the MDC in 1999. Each of us have felt the weight of the oppressor’s baton or the feel of his fist or booted feet. We carry the emotional scars from grieving for our fallen comrades and the trauma of seeing the sacrifices of our liberation heroes desecrated on the altar of political plunder and exploitation.
Since our last congress we have lost leaders and we have lost warriors for peace and democracy. Let us remember those men, women and youths who have paid the ultimate price to deliver real change to the people of Zimbabwe.
Our founding Vice President and a dear colleague in the struggle, Gibson Sibanda, is no more. Our founding national chairman, Isaac Matongo died a year after our historic Congress of 2006 and I would like to thank all of you for the support you gave me and family during our most trying moment following the death of my beloved wife, Susan, on 6 March 2009.
I also wish to thank fellow Standing Committee members with whom I have led this party for the past five years. We did our best and led this party to victory in March 2008. We confounded our critics and we have become the largest political party in the country in the last five years.
At this historic congress let us honour their sacrifice. Let us treasure their memory and let us ensure that their legacy is a New Zimbabwe that is truly free, democratic and prosperous. This is what they stood for and this is what they were fighting for. We owe it to them to carry on the struggle courageously, peacefully and relentlessly.
In light of this, I wish to repeat what I said at the Women’s Congress and the Youth Congress by addressing the allegations of factionalism, conflict and corruption that have preceded this Congress. We are aware that Zanu PF is a stakeholder in this Congress. They want a certain outcome but we have survived infiltration before and we will overcome forever.
But let me once again state that there will be no tolerance of violence in the MDC. There will be no sanctioning of corruption in the MDC; And there will be no reward for patronage in the MDC. It is these traits that our party was born to eradicate. It is these traits that condemned an entire generation to poverty and repression and there can be no room for them in the New Zimbabwe.
The MDC I am proud to lead has got character and culture. It is a pro-poor, people-centred social democratic, non-racial and non-sexist movement.
It is inclusive, tolerant and against any forms of discrimination, it supports the emancipation of women and considers democracy as a core value. It is against all forms of factionalism, fronticism, rumour mongering, slander and character assassination.
This is the character that has made our brand such an appealing one in the last decade. It is the brand that will define our elections tomorrow and the national elections whenever they are held. Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends, it has been a long five years since our last congress.
That Congress was held in the aftermath of a vicious and bitter split that we deeply regret. However we soldiered on and rebuilt this party. Through the most vicious of all forms of violence and the most aggravated form of dictatorship on the African continent at the moment, we survived and won an election.
From those sad ruins of the party at its Congress in 2006, I stand here before you not only as President of a proud movement but also as Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
I stand here as leader of a ruling party with majority seats in Parliament and with a Speaker of the House of Assembly.
A party that has mayors in all the urban areas and controls the majority of local authorities throughout the country.
A party that has had a positive impact in this transitional arrangement and has given every Zimbabwean the reason to hope once again.
It is at this Congress that we must develop the roadmap to take this party and our nation forward, to complete the change that our people demand and deserve. Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and Friends, although we have much to be proud of, we must also acknowledge that there is much we must learn from the last five years and much work still to do.
Our time in Government has shown us that securing real transfer of power will be no easy task. Any failure on our part to adhere to our principles, to drive forward our peaceful, democratic revolution will be seized upon by the enemies of progress in an attempt to reverse the gains our nation has made. We must remain vigilant as these enemies attempt to distract us with ill-gotten trinkets, false promises of empowerment and continued threats of violence.
It is lack of respect for our national security institutions that has led to this sad state of affairs; the police, the army and the intelligence service must be empowered to act professionally, impartially and abide by the Constitution of Zimbabwe. This will be achieved under our new Government.
National institutions serve the people and not certain political parties and once the people lose confidence in the security sector, the onus befalls on those institutions to prove that they are worthy of the people’s trust.
We must stay true to our principles of ensuring that our nation’s riches enrich the many and not the few. That we are the masters of our own destiny and do not allow Zimbabwe to be recolonised by any nation, whether it hails from the West, the East, North or South.
This Congress must set the tone for the next lap of the people’s struggle. We have fought a good fight but we need to complete this journey for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.
We are heartened by the brave stance of our colleagues in the region and by the facilitator, President Jacob Zuma.
The region has given us reason to believe that SADC and the AU are ready to prevent the circus of 2008 that began in Kenya, was perfected in Zimbabwe but backfired with disastrous consequences in the Ivory Coast.
This is the circus where losers of national elections are accommodated through power sharing arrangements. We applaud the position of SADC in ensuring that the process towards a free and fair election in Zimbabwe is fully supported, enhanced and consolidated.
The AU and SADC, as the guarantors to the GPA, have shown that they are ready to nurse this process and to ensure that a credible government is put in place through a free and fair election. Thus, the next months are going to be critical in ensuring that we put in place the necessary mechanisms and building blocks to guarantee and protect the people’s vote and the people’s will.
We are in the last mile of our democratic struggle to create a New Zimbabwe but we all know that the last kicks of a dying horse are vicious. Let us therefore work together in unity of purpose guarding against violence and coordinated attacks by those who have been rejected by the people.
We face in the next phase of our development as a nation not only a political transition but also a generational transition. The liberation generation has taken this country over the past 30 years from a vibrant economy to its knees where the currency was worthless, savings wiped out and general sustenance became a daily struggle for survival.
It is our responsibility as a new generation taking this country forward for the next 30 years to move this country from a Third world country to First world status. Yes, it can be done with the human and natural endowments that we possess. With political stability and confidence of our people in a credible and legitimate government, it is possible to lay the foundation for a New Zimbabwe.
The outcome of this congress must deal therefore with the transformation that is necessary in our party and in our nation.
We must have a clear five year programme as a party that will deal with massive unemployment and poverty that we currently face, a clear programme underpinned by political reforms, a commitment to the rule of law, defense of property rights and reward of individual effort. This programme must set out clear economic plans, focus on infrastructure rehabilitation, resuscitation of our manufacturing potential and increasing our mining and agricultural productivity.
This New Zimbabwe beckons to every citizen.
I can see that new Zimbabwe.
From the Zimbabwe Vigil
Swazis in UK to picket King’s reception
MEDIA NOTICE – 29th April 2011
The Swaziland Vigil will picket the Four Seasons Hotel in London on Saturday when King Mswati III holds a reception at the end of his visit to attend the Royal Wedding.
The King’s attendance drew much critical comment in the British media because of his human rights abuses. He was grouped in Westminster Abbey along with guests such as the Zimbabwean ambassador Gabriel Machinga in what the Times newspaper called ‘the pew of evil’. The British government cited protocol for not cancelling their invitations as demanded by the Swaziland Vigil and the Zimbabwe Vigil, which stage regular human rights demonstrations in London.
After the Saturday Vigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy (30th April), Zimbabweans will join the Swazi protest outside the Four Seasons Hotel from 6.30 – 8.30 pm.
Swaziland Vigil co-ordinator Thobile Gwebu said ‘we want to show the British people and the world that Mswati does not represent the people of Swaziland’.
Date: Saturday, 30th April 2011 from 6.30 – 8.30 pm.
Venue: Four Seasons Hotel, Hamilton Place, Park Lane W1J 7DR. The protest will be located outside the Royal Aeronautical Society, 4 Hamilton Place W1J 7BQ across the road from the hotel. (The police ask that we do not obstruct the public footway or enter on to property owned by the Four Seasons Hotel.)
Tube: Hyde Park Corner.
Contact: Thobile Gwebu / Fungayi Mabhunu 07746 552 597
Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinators
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, 29/04/11
The publication of the ‘Draft roadmap for Zimbabwe’ by the Newsday on
Thursday 28th April 2011 confirms our worst fears about the so-called
‘agreement reached by the GPA negotiators’. There is nothing on the Diaspora
vote or monitoring by the UN, EU or AU. While SADC is mentioned, Zanu-pf has
other ideas on international observers.
How a document with certain parts in ‘bold and shaded areas representing
deadlock’ can be described as ‘a breakthrough’ and an ‘agreement’ defies
logic. To me the whole draft roadmap for Zimbabwe is a big joke, to put it
mildly. There was no need to bury the bad news for cheap news headlines.
A complete analysis of the document is constrained by the difficulty in
demarcating the agreed areas from the deadlocked ones because the published
copy does not show the ‘bold and shaded areas’ at least according to the one
on the Newsday website which is the only one available online since the
so-called agreement was reached.
A curious inclusion in the ‘agreed road map’ is where ‘it calls upon the
governments that are hosting and/or funding external radio stations
broadcasting into Zimbabwe to cease such hosting and funding’. That is
unbelievable. This is hypocrisy in its worst form. All the parties in
Zimbabwe use these external stations for interviews and leaked news items.
On sanctions the negotiators say a re-engagement committee and SADC should
lobby for the removal of sanctions. Now they are no longer referred to as
targeted sanctions against Robert Mugabe and his inner circle for human
rights abuses which are continuing to the preset day.
Strangely MDC-T negotiators ‘agreed’ to that when on their party’s website
there are shocking pictures of victims of political violence, the
perpetrators of whom have not been brought to book up to now. SADC needs
some self respect on this matter, after failing to get the targeted
sanctions lifted before, what has changed since then?
On the rule of law, that is not an agreement obviously. Although the
suggestion of enacting an Act of Parliament to regulate the operations of
the CIO makes sense, we have been urging in vain all along for MPs to keep
their eyes on the ball. The chances of such a piece of law being assented to
by Zanu-pf President Robert Mugabe are 1 in a trillion in view of the fact
that the President’s Office budget is ring fenced.
No outsiders will ever know what the money voted every year is used for
unlike in other countries where the basic structures and operations of
intelligence services are not black boxes but are conducted within the rule
It’s amazing that there are still people who have faith in POSA even as
amended and hope for free and fair elections under that law’s jurisdiction.
It is hard to understand why the negotiators ‘agreed’ to leave out the
Diaspora Vote from their so-called roadmap altogether. At least if they had
become deadlocked on that issue, that would make them credible.
The main provisions for the Diaspora or Expatriate Vote are well captured by
Zimbabwe Democracy Now in their paper on The Minimum Requirements for a
Free, Peaceful, and Credible Election in Zimbabwe’ available online. In
• Citizens residing outside Zimbabwe should be able to cast their vote by
• A new expatriate voting system with fraud-proof mechanisms must be set
• Temporary balloting stations to be set-up in every country hosting a
significant number of Zimbabwean citizens;
• Criteria to be determined urgently beforehand via the Diaspora civic
• Expatriate voters to use their Zimbabwe ID or Passport for
• Diaspora vote count to be verified (in the same way as for inland
votes) on site with results posted on the outside of each voting station at
the close of balloting for public inspection; the document to be
photographed by an official monitor, the image and results MMS’d and/or
radioed to a central monitoring post for immediate public broadcast from a
national tabulation centre
• Diaspora vote count to be verified and results faxed directly to the
central counting facility in Zimbabwe as well as to the independent central
Other foreign nationals have used the same methods to vote in their
countries’ national elections while abroad.
That is the input we are expecting in the roadmap for elections in Zimbabwe.
Short of that, we will cross the river when we get there.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,