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Zim probes salaries of state firms’ bosses

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Friday 30 April 2010

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government has instituted a probe into
salaries of bosses of public companies as it emerged that some are earning
as much as US$14 000 a month while their companies are struggling
financially, a senior government official said this week.

The government – that has failed to raise civil service salaries from a
paltry US$240 a month to about US$650 demanded by the government workers –
has ordered the more than 80 state-controlled entities to furnish the
Ministry of State Enterprises and Parastatals with salary schedules and
unaudited financial statements so that the ministry can rationalise
remuneration policies.

The probe instituted almost a month ago has met with resistance as the
majority of the parastatals have failed to provide the government with the
required information. So far only 10 parastatals have provided the ministry
with the required information.

“The probe is on to rectify and rationalise salaries of the top brass in
public companies as some are earning salaries that do not reflect the
performance of their companies on the ground but the response is not
positive as there is some reluctance in providing the information and in
some instances we have been supplied with false details,” State Entreprises
Minister Joel Gabbuza told ZimOnline.

He said some parastatals were failing to furnish the ministry with
information due to several reasons which include lack of accounting systems,
lack of capacity while others know that a lot of things are not in order and
furnishing the details would expose them.

It also emerged that some of the parastatals’ chief executive officers
(CEOs) were providing false information for fear that their perks would be

Officials from the parastatals ministry, speaking on condition that their
names were not published said some CEOs were pocketing as much as US$ 14 000
per month in salaries.

The bosses of state enterprises also enjoy several perks that include school
fees for their children at some top private schools, paid for annual
holidays, unlimited fuel allocations for themselves and their spouses, fully
paid for domestic servants, access to free products manufactured or produced
by the parastatals and unlimited entertainment allowances.

“We have so far in our own internal investigations discovered that some
bosses of state enterprises are the most well paid in the country despite
the fact that all state enterprises in the country are in financial crises
and the vehicles used by managers at these state enterprises are top of the
range,”said one ministry official.

Gabbuza however said some parastatal heads were not complying as they have
political protection from higher offices.

“We have serious problems with parastatal heads who are protected from high
political office as they do not see any need to provide us with the
information we want but others are frantically putting everything together
for us,” Gabbuza said.

A ministry official said in some cases parastatal heads were providing
information showing that they earn less but perks and packages balloon the

There is one instance where the chief executive officer of one parastatal in
the transport sector earns a salary of US$3 500 but when you factor in
allowances such as cellphone allowance, entertainment, travel allowances,
school fees, membership into clubs, holiday allowances and incidental
allowances the earnings shoot up to US$13 500,” said the official.

The official said some boards were colluding with the CEOs to hide
information. – ZimOnline

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ZCTU slams Biti’s remarks on labour laws

by Caroline Mvundura Friday 30 April 2010

HARARE – The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on Wednesday fired a
broadside at Finance Minister Tendai Biti for saying he wanted labour laws
to be changed.

The ZCTU said it took exception to the “insensitive calls” by Biti, which it
said if effected would result in labour laws favouring business at the
expense of workers.

The main labour body said it was surprised that Biti, who comes from the
pro-labour MDC-M party led by veteran trade unionist and now Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, would suddenly shift to support business.

“More shocking is the fact that the said minister comes from a party that
has its ideals based on labour,” said ZCTU acting secretary general Japhet

“With just over a year in government, Biti is starting to sound more and
more like those who have been in government for the past 30 years.
Retrenchment of workers should be the last resort in any scenario but the
minister speaks glorifying retrenchment and this makes us wonder which
planet he has sprung from. The current laws regarding retrenchment are
inadequate hence the proposals made by the ZCTU for the amendment of labour

“Biti is indeed speaking like a capitalist hence we are inclined to believe
that he might have business interests because why else would he seek to
protect businesses so much. Biti has no right to speak on labour issues the
way he does when we have a capable labour minister who has been progressive
since taking office,” said the ZCTU.

The ZCTU said it was dsappointed with Biti who also recently proposed
freezing salaries of civil servants amid collapsed consultations with civil
service trade unions on salary adjustments.

“We are beginning to see clearly who is pro-workers and who is not. The ZCTU
is not taking lightly this matter and will be soon acting on it. The ZCTU
demands that Biti retracts his ill-informed statements and concentrate on
reviving the economy. He should be man enough to admit that he has failed
rather than using workers as a scapegoat. We will not stand by and allow him
to make a mockery of the workers, and maybe he should just shut up and go
back to the courtroom,” the statement said. – ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe does it again, beats Pakistan

Yahoonews, Yahoo Cricket, 30 April 2010

After shocking Australia by a dramatic one-run win, Zimbabwe convincingly
defeated title holders Pakistan by 12 runs in their ICC World Twenty20
warm-up match at Gros Islet. Chasing 143 runs to win, Pakistan team were
bundled out for 131 in 20 overs.

Zimbabwe skipper Prosper Utseya claimed four wickets to give his side a
massive boost ahead of the tournament. Apart from Kamran Akmal (37), Fawad
Alam (32) and Misbah-ul-Haq (21) none of the Pakistan batsmen were able to
get into the double digits.

Pakistan lost wickets as regular intervals chasing a modest target of 143

Earlier, unbeaten Elton Chigumbura (49) and Charles Coventry (30) helped
Zimbabwe to a competitive total. Hamilton Masakadza (33) gave Zimbabwe a
good start and though they lost wickets at regular intervals managed to
reach 142.

Skipper Shahid Afridi took four wickets but could not save his side from a
shock defeat.

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Zimbabwe's Economic Recovery Stalls, Burning New Class of Investors

  * APRIL 29, 2010, 5:44 P.M. ET


HARARE, Zimbabwe-Small stock investor Godfrey Matindo is a human indicator
of how swiftly the country's economic mood has soured.

Until March, Mr. Matindo, who owns a corner shop in a poor suburb of Harare,
Zimbabwe's capital, was making about $10 a day trading stocks in a rising
market. In a country where the biggest employer, the government, pays an
average of $200 a year, such profits appeared to signal a new era for one of
Africa's worst-performing economies.

Zimbabwe's unity government, formed in February last year after violent
elections, had beaten hyperinflation, revived growth and attracted interest
from foreign investors. From the government's inception to January-less than
a year-the main index for the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange rose 118%.

But political squabbling, and confusion over key economic policies, have
imperiled a tenuous economic recovery, one of the coalition government's few
achievements. Those like Mr. Matindo, who bought stocks in the belief that
Zimbabwe's economy had turned a corner, have been burnt.

"The politicians who promised us that this government is the answer are busy
fighting," said Mr. Matindo, who says he has lost more than $150 in the past
few months. "I just wonder whether they have any time and energy left to
work on the economy."

The Zimbabwe stock exchange index has fallen about 10% since February, and
turnover has shrunk to $700,000 dollars a day from about $2 million late
last year. Though the sums are tiny, the exchange appears to be a barometer
of how foreign investor interest in Zimbabwe has fallen off the table.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange chief Emmanuel Munyukwi said foreign investors
streamed into his office after the new government was formed. Now they
aren't coming. "They are taking their money elsewhere," he said.

Mr. Munyukwi and others trace the shift in sentiment to the so-called
"indigenization" law published in January that would force foreign companies
to sell majority ownership in Zimbabwe operations to local blacks within
five years. Foreign investors were asked to present by mid-April plans to
comply with the new law. The government has since pushed back that deadline
by a least a month.

President Robert Mugabe, who has run Zimbabwe for 30 years, backs the law.
The country's new prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, who ran against Mr.
Mugabe in violent and flawed 2008 elections, has opposed it. Ministers loyal
to each have offered conflicting signals about how and when the law might be

As a result, foreign investors have held off committing much-needed capital.
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently cut the 2010 growth
forecast to 4.7% from about 7%, citing in part the failure of foreign
investment to materialize in key industries such as mining.

"An economy is like a jet engine. It requires a burst of energy," he said in
an interview. "We haven't got that. We are just cruising on the runway."

Once one of southern Africa's most vibrant economies, Zimbabwe now absorbs
little of the foreign direct investment that flows to some neighbors. In
2008, Zimbabwe attracted $1.5 billion in foreign direct investment, compared
with $119 billion for South Africa, according to the United Nations
Conference on Trade & Development.

Some of Mr. Mugabe's political allies believe that some potential investors
are withholding capital in the hope of influencing Zimbabwe's policy and
perhaps rolling back the indigenization law.

One champion of the law is Zimbabwe's Indigenization Ministry. Previously
known as the Empowerment Ministry and focused on helping the disadvantaged,
it changed its name and mission-to empower blacks within industry-under the
new government.

Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, from Mr. Mugabe's ZANU PF party,
says foreign investors "have no business being here if they can't support
indigenous people. It is for this reason, as well as the Western-imposed
sanctions [by the U.S. and others for what they call human-rights abuses by
Mr. Mugabe and loyalists], that we will implement the law without fear."

Yet the lack of foreign investment has also forced local institutions to
revisit their outlook for Zimbabwe's market and economy. "The new government
expected a flood of foreign funds. That money didn't come," said Ranganayi
Makwata, research manager in Harare for Zimbabwe investment house Tetrad
Group. "Optimism has shrunk."

As shares slide amid political uncertainty, it's the overoptimistic retail
investor who has taken a beating. "The stock market was a better option than
keeping money under the pillow," said Tarisiro Kanda, a coffin-maker in
Harare's poor Mufakose suburb, who was making about $100 a week on the stock

Those returns have dried up. So has his business. People are opting for
cheap makeshift coffins now, he says.

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Zuma Facilitators Hand Talks Report To Zimbabwe Leaders

29/04/2010 19:05:00

Harare, April 29, 2010 -South African mediators arbitrating Zimbabwe's
political parties on Thursday met with the three principals to the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) and appealed to them to look at the report by
negotiators on outstanding issues as a matter of urgency.

The mediators, who have since left the country, met President Robert Mugabe,
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara
to present a report by the negotiators of the three parties.

"We met with the President, Prime minister and the Deputy Prime minister,"said
Lindiwe Zulu, spokesperson of the mediators sent by South African President
Jacob Zuma. "It was agreed that they (principals) need to look at the report
that has been given by the negotiators and then we will move from there."

Despite forming a unity government more than a year ago, Zimbabwe political
leaders are still trying to resolve outstanding issues of the GPA that
include appointment of senior government officials.

Mugabe's Zanu (PF) has been calling for the removal of sanctions against
their senior officials while the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) led by
Tsvangirai wants their treasurer general , Roy Bennett appointed deputy
Agriculture minister among some of the issues they need to be solved.

The unity government, which was meant to pave way for free and fair
elections after the writing in of a new constitution has been facing
numerous problems that include sourcing funding for constitution making and
resolving of outstanding issues.

The facilitators also held a meeting with Tsvangirai and the Speaker of the
House of Assembly, Lovemore Moyo.

Government sources confirmed that Tsvangirai and Moyo, in their capacities
as the President and National chairperson of the MDC-T met the team composed
of Zulu, Charles Nqakula and Mac Maharaj at Tsvangirai's office at
Munhumutapa building in Harare.

Finer details of the meeting could not be obtained, but the source said the
MDC-T leaders impressed upon the team their unwavering position around the
appointment of Bennett. Although the MDC-T was reported to have initially
agreed to have Bennett re-assigned to another less sensitive ministry, the
party seems to have backtracked on this position following the resistance it
received from the rank and file of the MDC-T leadership and ordinary

After the facilitation team's visit, it is understood President Zuma will
once again appraise Mozambican President Armand Guebuza, who chairs the
organ on politics, defence and security in the Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC). It is not yet clear when and where SADC leaders will meet,
but the source said the meeting would be "very soon".

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Exasperation in Pretoria as Zimbabwe Power-Sharing Negotiations Gear Up Again

The facilitators were told on their arrival that there has been no progress
and party negotiators have not written a comprehensive status report for Mr.

Blessing Zulu & Patience Rusere | Washington 29 April 2010

South Africa officials who returned to Harare Thursday to resume mediation
among Zimbabwe's fractious power-sharing parties expressed some exasperation
at the failure of the three governing parties to reach accord  on
longstanding issues and to prepare a key briefing document for President
Jacob Zuma.

The facilitators were told on their arrival that there has been no progress
and party negotiators have not written a comprehensive status report for Mr.
Zuma. President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy
Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara were to have met two weeks ago to resolve a
range of issues.

The principals must still come to grips with the most divisive issues on the
agenda including the leadership of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the
Office of the Attorney general, among other vexed questions.

South African facilitation team member Lindiwe Zulu told VOA Studio 7
reporter Blessing Zulu that they met with the three government principals
Thursday in an effort to push the process forward.

Political analyst Joy Mabenge of the Institute for A Democratic Alternative
for Zimbabwe said Mr. Mugabe is under intense pressure from ZANU-PF
hardliners not to make any compromises.

As the talks resumed, many Zimbabweans and observers were voicing impatience
at the lack of solid progress in the talks and the implementation of issues
where the negotiators had supposedly achieved a meeting of minds.

That lack of progress and visible results leads many to conclude that the
country is headed for elections in 2011 because power-sharing by then will
have run its course. However, some argue that the government for all its
faults is fairly stable and has at least brought a reduction in the human
rights violations and political violence.

For an assessment of the status of and outlook for the unity government, VOA
Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere turned National Constitutional Assembly
Director Earnest Mudzengi and political analyst George Mkhwananzi for views
on the odds for success in the talks and the likelihood of elections in

Mkhwananzi said the talks have stalled and are unlikely to yield results at
this late stage of the exercise.

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Zimbabwe Minister Says No Decision on Where North Koreans Will Train for Cup

The statement followed protests by activists who have threatened to disrupt
training in Bulawayo, blaming North Korea for training Zimbabwe's Fifth
Brigade which is accused of carrying out massacres in Matabeleland in the

Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye | Washington 29 April 2010

Zimbabwe Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said on Thursday that authorities
have not yet decided where North Korea's World Cup soccer team will train
while in the country ahead of the June kickoff.

The statement followed threats by activists who have threatened to disrupt
training if it is set in Bulawayo, blaming North Korea for training
Zimbabwe's Fifth Brigade which is accused of carrying out massacres in
Matabeleland in the 1980s Gukurahundi fighting between rival liberation

Mzembi told VOA Studio reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye it is early days
for a decision on the city to host the North Koreans.

He said the 2010 World Cup Ministerial Committee of representatives from
Zimbabwe's unity government will reach a decision on where the North Korean
squad will settle for its pre-Cup training program.

Mzembi noted however that the country has just three FIFA approved
stadiums - two in Harare and one in Bulawayo - limiting the choices of

Human rights activists have urged Harare to review its decision on putting
up the North Koreans in Bulawayo, capital of the Matebeleland region, saying
this risked opening up old wounds. Mzembi responded that there is no need to
mix politics and sports.

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Zimbabwe Pensioners Struggle to Survive on a Pittance in Dollarized Economy

Abednico Ndlovu, member of the board of the National Railways of Zimbabwe
Pensioners Association, said survivors of deceased workers are worse off,
getting just US$10 dollars monthly.

Gibbs Dube | Washington 29 April 2010

Dollarization of the Zimbabwean economy since early 2009 has worsened the
plight of pensioners living from hand to mouth with most receiving US$20 a

Abednico Ndlovu, who sits on the board of the National Railways of Zimbabwe
Pensioners Association, said the survivors of deceased workers are even
worse off, receiving just US$10 dollars monthly.

Ndlovu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that most Zimbabwean pensioners
are suffering economically and are in urgent need of food assistance.

"It's a mystery how these people are surviving but indications are that many
pensioners cannot afford to have a decent meal per day," Ndlovu said.

Government pensioner Lulu McKenzie, 80, has gotten help from a South African
organization, but said she has had to return to work to make ends meet.

McKenzie said that although she worked for the government for more than 35
years, she stopped getting her pension a couple of years ago due to
hyperinflation, which was ultimately vanquished by the adoption of a mix of
hard currencies - but which left those on the margins almost locked out of
the cash economy.

Samaritan Johannes Botha of the Zimbabwe Pensioners Supporters Fund said his
group is helping about 1,000 elderly Zimbabweans survive. His group supplies
them with food, clothing and basic medicines every three months from
Mpumalanga, South Africa.

"A lot of pensioners don't receive their pensions, some get little pensions
and the most serious problem is that the majority of these pensioners have
no means of getting dollars," he said.

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Zuma rules out farm invasions in SA

April 29, 2010

By Our Correspondent

JOHANNESBURG - South African President Jacob Zuma has reiterated that his
government will not tolerate the lawless invasions of commercial farms as
witnessed in Zimbabwe over the past 10 years.

Zuma, however, acknowledged that his administration had to move with speed
to address land imbalances in the country.

South Africa, which celebrated 16 years of independence on Monday, is
struggling to solve the delicate and often emotive issue of land reform
which seems to be gathering momentum on a daily basis with everyday protests
and farm killings.

Zuma told BUA News, the South African government's official news outlet
Thursday, that there would not be any Zimbabwe-style land invasions in South

"There will be no similar kinds of land invasions in this country, because
we do things within the law," said Zuma.

He, however, hinted at his government's frustration with farmers' reluctance
to release land for sale to the government.

Zuma said that current land redistribution method of "willing buyer willing
seller" must be revisited.

"Significant changes will need to be made to the 'willing buyer, willing
seller' model. Government is investigating less costly ways of land
redistribution," said Zuma.

"The general view is that the 'willing buyer, willing seller' model has not
worked appropriately or adequately thus far. It is very important, however,
that it's done within the ambits of the law."

Most farmers appear adamant to hold on the land. In rare cases where they
have heeded the call to the 'willing buyer willing seller' policy, they
often priced their farms way out of the government's reach.

The situation has raised fears of farm invasions with reports that white
farmers being murdered at a rate of 3000 a year, according to agricultural
organisation Agrisa.

South Africa had set a target to redistribute land to about 30 percent of
its population by 2014, a target that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development Gugile Nkwithi has already ruled out.

The resettlement exercise will need R80 billion, an amount that the South
African government - already dealing with a wide range of other problems
such as service delivery, housing, education and health problems - will
struggle to mobilise.

There are growing fears that Africa's biggest economy will deteriorate in
sporadic Zimbabwe-style land invasions if the land issue is not addressed as
a matter of urgency.

Unlike their Zimbabwean counterparts Zanu-PF, South Africa's African
National Congress (ANC) is not in danger of losing political power. But
inequalities among blacks and whites in might soon force the ANC - led
government to push through some form of radical reforms.

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Matombo, the voice of Zimbabwe’s workers

April 29, 2010

By Rebecca Davis, a member of Action for Southern Africa

LOVEMORE Matombo looks tired. It’s not surprising: it’s 9am on Monday
morning, at his hotel near Euston, and he’s had a gruelling few days
already. These trips to London are important. As the President of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), it’s his job to ensure that
relationships are maintained with the powerful UK unions, NGO allies, and
agenda-setters in Brussels.

The ZCTU has been a potent force in Zimbabwean politics for almost three
decades. Formed in 1981, it provided increasingly vocal opposition to the
regime of Robert Mugabe during the 1990s. It was the ZCTU which contributed
the impetus behind the formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change: MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai is a former Secretary-General of the

It’s been over a year since Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai’s MDC entered
into a power-sharing agreement, but the ZCTU’s scrutiny of labour practices
will not be relaxed until conditions for Zimbabwe’s workers improve. There’s
still a lot of progress to be made. Matombo talks of ongoing human rights
violations against the workforce.

“In a mining company known as Mashaba Mining, workers were not paid for nine
months last year. This was a company under state control. Workers were
contemplating striking, and police went in and shot three of them. They were
seriously injured, but they did not die.”

Matombo himself continues to experience the wrath of the government.

“In October I was arrested when I travelled to another district to hold
meetings.” He pauses, seeming to choose his words carefully. “It was
disturbing because it revealed that the MDC would allow the president of a
labour centre to be arrested.”

If he feels a sense of betrayal towards his old ideological comrades, he
doesn’t show it. Matombo has been fighting his fight for over 25 years at
this point, and has been detained and harassed on more occasions than he can
count. Even during the halcyon post-independence days, with Mugabe still
widely revered as a liberation hero, Matombo was making himself unpopular
with the state.

“Some of us could already see at that point that this government was going
to take an authoritarian route,” he says. “As early as 1985 I was removed
from my role as President of Communications of the ZCTU, in what some
claimed was a politically-induced dismissal. Then in 1989 I was arrested
when there was a workers’ strike.” According to the government and police,
the strikers were influenced by Matombo.

Looking back, Matombo places much of the blame for Zimbabwe’s economic and
political collapse on the implementation of the IMF’s Structural Adjustment
Programme (SAP).  The IMF’s conditions for loans included reducing the pay
of the civil service, devaluing the currency, and instituting retrenchments
to ensure a smaller but more productive workforce.

“The Zimbabwean government had no option but to agree to accept the
conditions, and in doing so, they created real hatred between themselves and
the workers,” Matombo explains. Strikes and collective action followed in
the mid-90s, but to no avail. “The workers realised that the government
would not listen unless they attacked them in their own political arena,
which is how the MDC was formed in 1999.”

Matombo concedes, however, that bad unilateral choices made by the
government at this time also had a disastrous effect on Zimbabwe’s economy.
In particular, the decision during the mid-90s to give the veterans of the
liberation struggle (‘war vets’, in colloquial Zimbabwean parlance) a
one-off payment of 50,000 Zimbabwean dollars each, as compensation for war
roles, was an act of political expedience which had not been budgeted for
and saw the beginning of uncontrollable inflation.  Similarly
poorly-considered was the decision to enter the war in the Congo without an
accompanying budget.

One of Mugabe’s most criticised policies has been the handling of land
redistribution, which has seen Zimbabwe’s formerly high-yielding farms
distributed to government cronies with little agricultural experience. The
results have been disastrous: Zimbabwe’s tobacco crop, for instance, once a
profitable export, has been decimated by two thirds, and the country now
struggles to feed its own citizens.

Matombo is scathing about the government’s land redistribution policies – he
says “farms were handed to people who simply did not know how to till the
land” – but has been a supporter of the principle of land redistribution of
1996. In that year, he says, the ZCTU released a document entitled ‘Beyond
the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme’, where they laid out
alternative development plans which would no longer rely on handouts from
the World Bank and the IMF. Redistribution of land, in a structured,
incremental way, formed a critical part of the document -  but it went
ignored. In 2001 Mugabe’s ZANU-PF introduced their land-grab.

“It was a revolution which went mad,” Matombo says. “And that’s when
Zimbabwe started to disagree with everyone who cared to advise them.”

He is referring primarily to Robert Mugabe’s very public attacks on the UK
and in particular Tony Blair, who was an outspoken critic of Mugabe’s

On the day we meet, it’s almost 30 years to the day since Zimbabwe gained
independence.  A day earlier, Robert Mugabe has addressed a rally in Harare.
His rhetoric is less divisive than normal: he calls for an end to political
violence, and his trademark bitter slurs about England and its leaders are
absent. He still forcefully deplores, however, the intervention of
imperialist forces in Zimbabwe. The same weekend, Graca Machel – the widow
of Mozambiquan president Samora Machel and now wife of Nelson Mandela – gave
an interview strongly critiquing Britain’s stance on Africa generally, and
Zimbabwe particularly. The UK government should stay out of Africa’s
business, was her message.

Matombo disagrees.

“It may be that Graca Machel or Mister Malema don’t know exactly what is
happening,” he says, sarcastic emphasis heavy on the ‘Mister’ he appends to
the name of Julius Malema, “or are basing their opinion on certain benefits
which they have been given.”

The firebrand leader of South Africa’s ANC Youth League, Malema recently led
an expedition to Zimbabwe where he waxed lyrical about Mugabe’s economic
programme and declared that South Africa should look to its northern
neighbour for inspiration on how to handle the nationalisation of the mines
and land redistribution.

Matombo believes that a good relationship with the UK is critical for
Zimbabwe.  He’s adamant that the West needs to apply more pressure, rather
than less, to ensure that the Global Political Agreement – which led to the
formation of the ZANU-PF and MDC unity government in February 2009  – is
implemented properly.

Matombo is also appreciative of the support rendered to ordinary Zimbabweans
by western NGOs. In particular, the ZCTU has a strong relationship with UK
organisation ACTSA, Action for Southern Africa, the successor organisation
to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the UK, which now campaigns on southern
Africa-wide issues. He specifically singles out for praise ACTSA’s ‘Dignity!
Period” campaign, which provides the ZCTU with sanitary pads to distribute
to Zimbabwean women who have no chance of affording these items on their
own. For Matombo, it’s a perfect illustration of a positive external

“This is a contribution which has had clearly observable outcomes,” he says.

In the absence of the unaffordable sanitary products, many Zimbabwean women
resorted to using unsanitary materials like old cloths or bits of newspaper,
which sometimes led to infection. The six million sanitary pads distributed
by the ZCTU on ACTSA’s behalf have largely put a stop to this.

In the past, the government’s antipathy towards foreign NGO interventions
saw the supplies of sanitary pads being confiscated, but Matombo says this
is no longer the case.  It’s not the only change he sounds upbeat about: he
expresses enthusiasm about Zimbabwe’s gradual economic improvement under the
unity government, largely as a result of the decision to dollarize the

“Businesses have started to operate, workers in the civil service have begun
to go back to work, and the supermarkets are stocking food again,” he lists.

For a country brought to its knees over the past decade, these are
immeasurable improvements. Matombo is optimistic that they’re only the
beginning of the recovery.

“I believe that the future will be bright,” he says. “It may be soon, it may
be later, but the life of an authoritarian system has always been
unpredictable. We know for certain that things will change for the better.”

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Delays in by-elections illegal, says Madhuku

April 29, 2010

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku says the delay in holding
by-elections to fill up to 20 vacancies in Parliament is illegal.

Madhuku says President Robert Mugabe is answerable for the delay, and can be
taken to court for breaching the Electoral Act and the Constitution.

Sources say by-elections will only be held by the new independent electoral

Insiders said the delay in holding the by-elections was deliberate to ensure
that the elections were conducted by the new electoral body.

Former Zimbabwean Supreme Court judge, Simpson Mutambanengwe, who was
serving as acting chief justice in the Namibian Supreme Court, was appointed
head of the new electoral commission.

Other members of the commission are Joyce Kazembe, the vice-chairperson,
Daniel Chigaru, lawyer Geoff Feltoe, Theophilus Gambe, Petty Makoni,
Sibongile Ndhlovu, Bessie Nhandara and Mukuni Nyathi

However, the commission is not yet operational.

Some of the seats in both the Senate and the House of Assembly have been
vacant for more than a year.

Senate seats to be filled include Gokwe South, Chiredzi, Chegutu,
Gokwe-Chirumhanzu. House of Assembly constituencies that are vacant include
Matobo North, Bindura North, Mutare North, Guruve North and

Three vacancies were created following the expulsion from the MDC party led
by Professor Arthur Mutambara of Norman Mpofu (Bulilima East), Abednico
Bhebhe (Nkayi South) and Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East).

Several members of the mainstream MDC have pending cases in the courts;  if
they are all convicted and sentenced to more than six months imprisonment,
the number of by-elections due could increase to more than 30.

The delay by Mugabe in calling for the by-elections is, however, in breach
of the Electoral Act and the Constitution of Zimbabwe, said Madhuku.

According to Section 39 of the Electoral Act, the Speaker or the President
of the Senate is supposed to notify the state president as soon as possible
after he or she becomes aware of a vacancy.

The state president then publishes a notice in the Government Gazette within
14 days after he has been notified of the vacancy ordering a new election to
fill the seat.

A nomination court of candidates would sit not less than 14 days or more
than 21 days after the publication of the proclamation. An election date
would then be set not less than 28 days and not more than 50 days after the
nomination of candidates.

Madhuku, leader of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), said Mugabe
could be taken to court for violating the Electoral Act and the supreme law
of the country.

The other option, he said, would be to accuse him of misconduct and impeach

Madhuku dismissed claims by the political parties that ZEC was dissolved by
Amendment No 19.

Contrary to that assertion, he said the amendment only outlined a new
selection process of commissioners.

"The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission remains in place until another one is
constituted. So it is not true that ZEC was dissolved," he said.

ZEC chairperson Justice George Chiweshe is on record as saying the
commission did not have enough money to hold by-elections, indicating that
the polls were not going to be held any time soon.

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Zimbabwe Women's Conference Ends With Call for Accelerated Media Reform

Women's Coalition Deputy Chairwoman Rutendo Hadebe said delegates agreed
meaningful change won't come unless the government opens the airwaves and
licenses new independent newspapers

Sandra Nyaira | Washington 29 April 2010

An international women's conference ended in Harare on Thursday with
participants agreeing to pressure the leaders of country's three governing
parties to step up the pace of Zimbabwean media reform.

Women's Coalition Deputy Chairwoman Rutendo Hadebe said delegates agreed
meaningful change won't come unless the government opens the airwaves and
licenses new independent newspapers.

Hadebe said women from the region and beyond taking part in the conference
agreed to support and strengthen the role of Zimbabwean women in governance
and in the ongoing - if slow - constitutional revision process.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson, the founding president of Realizing
Rights, and team members from Kenya, Liberia, South Africa, Uganda and
Zimbabwe, led a high level mission to Zimbabwe, engaging senior officials
including President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, and visiting to Mashonaland East,
Mashonaland West and Matabeleland provinces.

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Ethiopia reburies Mengistu victims

(AFP) - 12 hours ago

ADDIS ABABA - Dozens of Ethiopians marched Thursday to rebury family members
massacred during dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam's "Red Terror" purge which
claimed tens of thousands of lives some 30 years ago.

A funeral convoy of dark vehicles made its way through the capital's main
streets carrying coffins draped in the Ethiopian flag, as a military band
played sombre tunes.

Relatives observed a minute's silence at a museum where they were to be

The museum opened last month after three years of construction. It is to
honour victims of the 1977-78 campaign of state terror carried out on
Mengistu's orders to wipe out his opponents.

Only ten bodies have been identified since they were exhumed in 1994 by
Argentinian forensic experts from a former security compound in the north of
Addis Ababa.

"These young Ethiopian victims were rounded up by government agents and
strangled by rope in 1978," Ayne Tsige, the head of the victims'
association, told AFP.

Sixty-seven year-old Zeineba Seid recalled the events that followed her
brother's disappearance.

"They kept telling us he was alive and well. We only confirmed after the
bodies were found," she said, referring to local authorities.

Her brother's remains were identified in 1994 with the help of her own DNA.

"Although his loss is painful for us all, I am extremely happy that we have
finally laid him to rest," said Meaza Gulema, a cousin of the slain man.

Mengistu, now in exile in Zimbabwe, was sentenced in absentia two years ago
to death for genocide along with 17 of his henchmen following a decade-long
trial in Addis Ababa.

The former army lieutenant-colonel was a member of the Marxist junta known
as the Derg which ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991 after the ouster of
emperor Haile Selassie.

As many as 100,000 people were killed during the campaign as Mengistu sought
to transform the country into a Soviet-style workers' state.

The regime, then battling a number of insurgencies throughout the country,
used several tactics to scare opponents, one of which was leaving dead
bodies on streets as a warning.

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