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Mugabe drops 29 June election date

Violet Gonda

3 April 2013

President Robert Mugabe’s lawyers dropped the June 29th election date before
High Court Judge President George Chiweshe on Wednesday, but will continue
challenging the court case on by-elections. This appears to be a development
in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s favour, as he was rejecting attempts
by Mugabe to call elections by the end of June.

The President had gone to the High Court requesting to be excused from a
court order to proclaim by-elections by 31st March 2013. That request is
being opposed by three former legislators, Abednico Bhebhe, Norman Mpofu and
Njabuliso Mguni, who want their vacant constituencies filled through
by-elections in their constituencies.

The 89 year old leader said it would be expensive to hold by-elections and
then harmonized elections a few months later and wanted to proclaim the
dates for harmonized elections on or before 29th June. Tsvangirai rejected
this and last week filed an application in the High Court as the Fourth
Respondent, objecting to the President’s proposed timeline.

Tsvangirai said more time is needed for reforms and, as a principal in the
inclusive government, he wanted Mugabe to consult with him first before
making any proclamation relating to the dissolution of Parliament and
announcement of poll dates.

In oral submissions in the High Court the Attorney General’s office said
that the President will now only pursue the issue of the by-elections and
not proceed to refer to general elections.

“In light of that new development the judge suggested that the Prime
Minister reconsider his application for joinder,” Tsvangirai’s lawyer Chris
Mhike told SW Radio Africa shortly after the court hearing.

Mhike said the matter was then postponed to Thursday where it will be made
clearer “what the President now means,” and deal with the issue of the
by-elections.  The defence team said it has also requested a formal document
from the AG’s office confirming the fact that the President will not pursue
June 29th as a specific date for harmonized elections and to make sure “the
dates will not be sneaked in later.”

“I am not sure what argument the President is going to pursue, now that the
issue of 29th June has been abandoned,” Mhike said.

The development comes as the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube has asked
the Sothern African Development Community – guarantors of the Zimbabwe
political agreement – to block Mugabe’s attempts to call for elections
without putting fundamental reforms in place first to avoid another disputed

The partners in the inclusive government said they were also forced to make
“transitional changes” to the constitution, in order to clarify the next
process regarding the election date. The Constitutional Select Committee
(COPAC) management committee agreed that the date of the forthcoming
elections will be made by consensus and not by Mugabe alone.

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Vote rigging fears in Chimanimani

By Alex Bell
3 April 2013

The MDC-T’s Treasurer General, Roy Bennett, has raised concerns about
possible vote rigging in Chimanimani, warning that the problem is

Bennett said ZANU PF has mobilised its local youth chairman, Joshua Sacco, a
white farmer and known party supporter, to bus in hundreds of party members
to register in the area. At the same time, other residents who Bennett said
“do not support ZANU PF” are being ordered to pay a dollar at a time just to
obtain proof of residence certificates in order to register.

“This is a tip of the iceberg country wide,” Bennett warned.

He told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that this is all in preparation for the
coming election, saying last month’s referendum was a “test run for
 rigging.” He said that the voting figures released by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) do not add up to what was experienced during that
poll, and the discrepancies indicate rigging.

The MDC-T’s secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said last week that according to
his party’s own research, the referendum figures were “tweaked” by between
10 and 15%. According to Biti, less than the 3.3 million votes announced by
ZEC were actually cast. Speaking at a public discussion in Harare, Biti
expressed the MDC-T’s doubts over the ZEC figures.

“There is a 10 to 15% variance between ZEC’s figures and those collated by
our own team of agents who covered all the polling stations nationally,”
said Biti. The MDC-T however has not released its own figures.

Bennett said on Wednesday the ZEC figures cannot be accurate, because of the
“general voter apathy that was experienced on the day.”

“It is no coincidence that a day after the referendum, the Prime Minister’s
aides were arrested and Beatrice Mtetwa was arrested. Attention switched
from what was happening with the referendum and the counting that happened
that day, to the arrests. So I believe it was a test run for rigging,”
Bennett said.

Meanwhile, also in Chimanimani, anyone aligned to the MDC who worked as
police reservists have been ordered to hand over their uniforms. Bennett
said that the local police chief had made this order last month and has
since called for new applications to be handled through Joshua Sacco. It is
understood that recruits have to go to the local ZANU PF office to have a
letter stamped before they can be accepted.

“We have seen the neighbourhood watch being used in the past to carry out
acts of violence and intimidation against MDC members. This is a sure
indication of the standard ZANU PF strategy of politicising all parts of the
security apparatus and using it to perpetrate acts of violence and
intimidation,” Bennett said.

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Fear spreads as ZANU PF steps up attacks on opposition

By Nomalanga Moyo
3 April 2013

There are fears that ZANU PF is stepping up its suppression of the
opposition following the arrest of six MDC-T officials at a meeting held in

Media reports indicate that police arrested six executive members of Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party on Thursday, on allegations of holding an
illegal meeting.

Siyakwazi Moyo, Nkosilathi Gumbo, Hlupo Nkomo, Thomas Bernard, Godsave Zhou
and David Shoko are said to have been rounded up by 10 police officers in
riot gear while attending a party executive meeting at Gwayi Business

Trynos Shava, the party’s Midlands South provincial secretary for defence,
told the Daily News newspaper that the six were taken to Mataga Police
Station where they were detained. An MDC-T official on Wednesday could not
confirm if they were still being detained.

In Mashonaland West, another MDC-T supporter sustained serious injuries
after being attacked by alleged ZANU PF youths on March 25th.

Wilson Anderson, a branch chairperson in ward 35 in Zvimba East, was
assaulted at Somerby Estate, allegedly by eight ZANU PF youths led by one
Moses Sanadi, according to another Daily News report.
According to the report, Anderson, was assaulted for attending the burial of
Christpowers Maisiri, the 12-year-old boy who died in a suspected arson
attack last month in Headlands.

An MDC-T official, Wilson Makanyaire, who spoke to the newspaper expressed
concern at the escalating violence ahead of elections but could not comment

Two other MDC-T members were willing to only confirm the two incidents to SW
Radio Africa but declined to speak on the record following reports that
Trynos Shava was visited by the police after speaking to the Daily News.

Harare-based journalist Simon Muchemwa said the refusal to talk to the media
was indicative of the general fear that is gripping Zimbabweans as the
country prepares for elections.

Muchemwa said: “It is almost a culture for the state security agents in
Zimbabwe to harass and intimidate people every time there is an election.

“The arrests of opposition party supporters, the onslaught on civic society
and lately the judiciary, clearly demonstrates that ZANU PF is not going to
compete fairly in the forthcoming election.”

Muchemwa said memories of the victimisation and violence that gripped
Zimbabwe during the 2008 elections are responsible for this unwillingness to
talk:“This explains why we are getting to hear about these arrests and
attacks days after they would have happened, because people just won’t
 talk,” Muchemwa added.

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As Zimbabwe election nears, intimidation of Mugabe opponents ramps up

By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, April 4, 3:48 AM

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Elections in Zimbabwe are still months away, but already
President Robert Mugabe’s party is intimidating its opponents and
threatening violence, human rights and pro-democracy groups say.

Witnesses say Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has begun deploying youth militia
groups in some of its strongholds. A young mother in the Harare township of
Mbare said militants of a pro-Mugabe youth group known as Chipangano, or
“the brotherhood” in local slang, have started door-to-door visits in the
neighborhood and told residents to attend night meetings where names and
identity particulars of participants were written down.

“They are watching me every day,” she said, refusing to give her name
because she feared violent retribution.

If she doesn’t go to the meetings with family members and friends her
absence will be noted down on another list of suspected Mugabe opponents,
she said.

Mugabe party officials say the logging of names is merely part of regular
campaigning to keep supporters up to date with the party’s activities in the
runup to polling.

Rugare Gumbo, the party’s spokesman, denied a campaign of intimidation was
under way. He has accused Mugabe’s opponents of making “sensational”
allegations to garner sympathy in the face of electoral defeat.

“We have become more and more aware of their machinations,” he said.

The independent Zimbabwe Peace Project, which monitors political
intimidation and violence, reported in its latest bulletin Mugabe militants
are also marking with stickers the homes of their supporters and new

“There is no doubt those with stickers would be used to identify people
(without them) who would then be victimized before and after elections,” the
group said.

Mugabe’s party insists its members are free to display party loyalty and
regalia during election campaigning, a common practice in most countries.
But independent campaign monitors have reported rival fliers and posters
being torn down and destroyed, mostly by militant youth groups.

Monitors representing both local and foreign rights groups say there is now
burgeoning fear because Zimbabwe’s elections have been marred by violence
and alleged vote rigging since 2000, mainly by Mugabe’s party.

Actual physical violence this time around has been comparatively limited so
far but there has been an increase in police action against groups and
individuals seen as Mugabe opponents, including the arrests on March 17 of
Beatrice Mtetwa, Zimbabwe’s most prominent human rights lawyer, and four
senior staffers of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s main rival.

Mugabe is to announce an election date in consultation with the coalition
partners, but it is bogged down in technicalities. Under the constitution,
new elections must be held within 90 days of June 29, when the term of the
current parliament expires and the body is automatically dissolved. Mugabe
wants the poll as soon as possible. Tsvangirai says it would be late July at
the earliest but it could come as late as September.

Mtetwa, held in jail for eight days, appeared briefly in a Harare court
Wednesday on charges of obstructing justice that carry a penalty of a fine
or up to two years imprisonment. Prosecutors said they were not ready to go
to trial and the hearing was put off to Monday. She denies the charges and
says she only demanded to see a police search warrant when officers combed
through offices of Tsvangirai’s communications unit searching for alleged
subversive materials and then seized equipment and documents. She said her
arrest was a ploy to intimidate democracy activists ahead of new elections.

The police force is generally loyal to Mugabe.

“There will be many more arrests to follow as we near elections. The police
were all out to get me,” said Mtetwa after her release on bail on March 25.
“They wanted me to feel their might and power.”

Legal experts dismiss the charges against Mtetwa as spurious, but right
groups also warn that more such arrests can be expected.

“We will see more of these kinds of tactics to criminalize key activists. It
is a ZANU-PF strategy they are unlikely to stop,” said McDonald Lewanika,
director of Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition, an alliance of independent rights and
civic groups. Lewanika’s alliance also alleged that villagers where harvests
had failed were made to take part in activities of Mugabe’s party in order
to receive food aid and school places for their children.

Underscoring how security forces operate with impunity, the African Union’s
Commission on Human and People’s Rights on March 23 said Gabriel Shumba, a
well-known human rights lawyer, was arrested in Zimbabwe in 2003 while
meeting with a client and was then tortured. Police and intelligence agents
threatened Shumba with death, and subjected him to electric shocks, the
commission reported, adding that Shumba was doused in chemicals and became
incontinent, he vomited blood and was forced to drink his vomit. It said
Zimbabwe failed to open an official investigation into Shumba’s “torture and
trauma” and that it should now do so and prosecute those responsible.

For a decade, rights groups have campaigned to bring to justice perpetrators
of political killings, torture, rape, assault, death threats, the
destruction of homes and the looting of livestock and property surrounding a
series of past elections. At least five groups belonging to the alliance
have been targeted this year, with several activists arrested and alleged to
have broken a range of security and criminal laws. None has yet been

Lewanika said police and other security services apparently intend to
“disable groups that have a clear presence on the ground” which will leave
communities vulnerable to threats of a return to the violence seen before
and after the 2008 polls.

“This could have a huge and telling impact on voting. At this stage, we
think there will be rampant fear affecting the vote,” he said.

Mugabe, 89, led the nation to independence from colonial-era rule in 1980
and ruled virtually unchallenged until Tsvangirai, 60, founded his urban and
labor based opposition Movement for Democratic Change in 1997. Mugabe’s
party suffered setbacks at polls that followed and in 2000 he ordered the
often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms
crippling the agriculture-based economy of the former regional breadbasket.

Mugabe said he was correcting colonial imbalances in land ownership by the
descendants of British and South African settlers so as to hand over farms
to impoverished black Zimbabweans. But most prime farms went to his party
elite and loyalists and many still lie idle.

The nation now depends on food imports and the United Nations estimates that
1.5 million Zimbabweans are currently in need of emergency food handouts.

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Police dismiss alleged political violence

Wednesday, 03 April 2013 00:00

Senior Reporter

Police have dismissed reports in some sections of the media that political
violence had become rampant saying some parties were citing common
skirmishes and even mere assault cases at beerhalls as political violence.

Deputy national spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka urged the
media to verify and authenticate their reports with the police before
publishing unsubstantiated stories likely to cause alarm and despondency.

“The ZRP is utterly disturbed, dismayed and worried at the level and pace at
which the private media is publishing false political violence reports
calculated to portray a false picture of events and mislead the nation and
the entire world into believing that there is political violence when in
fact the country enjoys wholesome peace,” said Chief Supt Mandipaka.

His concerns followed stories published by the private media alleging that a
family was attacked in Chipinge, while another case of political violence
erupted in Zvimba.
Chief Supt Mandipaka said according to reports, the Chipinge incident in
which Cannias and Florence Mamweni were pictured with their hands in slings
was not a case of political violence.

“The story alleges that four members of the Chipinge family were on Thursday
attacked by a suspected Zanu-PF militia for supporting MDC-T as violence
escalates ahead of the forthcoming elections,” he said.

“Yet the assault was a result of a family feud which dates back to July 2006
in which Jacob Voice Makanyaka Marukani is alleged to have been assaulted to
death by Kelvin and Cannias Mamweni on allegations of stock theft.

“Cannias Mamweni was once arrested after being implicated in the murder of
Jacob Voice Makanyaka Marukani.”
Chief Supt Mandipaka said investigations revealed that the Chipinge
complainants were assaulted on March 27 at Simon Mamweni’s homestead by
Phillip Marukani, Elias Madlazi, Paidamoyo Marikani and Mazano Madlazi.

He said they arrested two of the four suspects - Mazano Madlazi and Elias
Madlazi - for the assault case.
Chief Supt Mandipaka dismissed reports that there were 10 reported cases of
political violence between last Monday and Friday in the area.

He said the Zvimba incident in which the alleged MDC-T activist, Wilson
Anderson (35) of Snake World was reported to have been attacked by alleged
Zanu-PF youths on March 25 was false.

Chief Supt Mandipaka said Anderson was attacked by Moses Sande (26) of Lion
and Cheetah Park whose political affiliation was not known to the police.
The two were drinking beer at Churu Bottle Store at Snake World when a
misunderstanding over a girlfriend ensued.

“It is unfortunate that a mere assault case at a beer drink would appear in
the print media as political violence,” said Chief Supt Mandipaka.
He said the country enjoyed total peace as it moved towards the harmonised
elections and assured the nation of safety and security.

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RFK Center: Zimbabwe Electoral Conditions Severely Compromised
Beatrice MtetwaBeatrice Mtetwa
Gibbs Dube


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Mtetwa remand hearing postponed

By Violet Gonda
3 April 2013

Human Rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa’s remand hearing has been postponed to
April 8th after the state failed to furnish the defence with the papers
regarding the charges she is facing and a trial date.

Mtetwa was arrested last month during a raid on the MDC-T offices in Harare
and charged with obstructing the course of justice on allegations she
insulted police officers who were arresting her clients.

The outspoken rights lawyer was later released on $500 bail by a High Court
judge after spending a week in detention. Judge Joseph Musakwa said Mtetwa
should not have been denied bail in the first place as she is a respected
lawyer of many years experience.

Her lawyer, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, said the State had been given a two week
period to come up with witness statements to support their charge, but have
so far failed. He said this behavior by the state goes to show that ‘they
had no case’ in the first place.

“If they had a case at the time that they arrested her and they claim that
she obstructed the course of justice, they should have their house in order
and they should have all the papers they need.

“We understand that the police officers who were present when she got
arrested are the main witnesses. That process should not take a day to
record those statements and there are no further investigations that should
be done.”

Chimbga believes what is happening is merely a deliberate attempt to delay
the acquittal of Mtetwa, “who clearly has no case to answer against the
State.” The defence team said they will be challenging Mtetwa’s placement on

The case of the four MDC members, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
chief legal adviser Thabani Mpofu, who were arrested at the same time, was
postponed to Thursday. They are charged with impersonating police officers
in order to investigate corruption by senior government officials.

In a related issue, reports say High Court Judge Justice Charles Hungwe is
facing suspension, pending the completion of a commission of inquiry headed
by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku. We have been unable to confirm these

The judge, who is accused of being sympathetic to the MDC, was heavily
reprimanded in the state controlled media when he initially ordered the
release of  Mtetwa, shortly after her arrest. The judge came under fire for
allegedly hearing the human rights lawyer’s bail application at night at his
Darwendale farm.

He also came under attack for granting search warrants to the Zimbabwe
Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the offices of some ZANU PF

In the state media Justice Hungwe has also been accused of violating the
human rights of Jonathan Mutsinze, who he had convicted of murder and
robbery but is said to have spent 10 years in remand prison awaiting

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Tsvangirai pins hope on Zuma

Wednesday, 03 April 2013 11:32

HARARE - With elections only a few months away, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai is pinning hopes on South African president Jacob Zuma to deliver
a credible poll amid heightening tensions.

In an interview with his MDC newsletter, Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe could
descend into chaos if Sadc-appointed mediator Zuma does not stamp authority.

The MDC leader, who is in a shaky power-sharing coalition government with
President Robert Mugabe, said he hopes Zuma’s “fair mediation” to the
Zimbabwean crisis would help end resistance in implementing clauses of the
power-sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA).

The GPA is the foundation of the coalition that was formed in 2009 and sets
benchmarks which should be implemented before the country holds the next
general election.

However, most of the issues enunciated in the GPA such as security sector
and media reforms are still to be fully implemented, largely because of
resistance by Mugabe and Zanu PF.

“We still see signs of resistance to change through attempts to politicise
the security sector — a circumstance that can be fatal to the realisation of
a credible and legitimate election,” Tsvangirai said.

The former trade union leader, who has been pushing for stronger Sadc action
in light of escalating tensions ahead of polls, is praying that Zuma remains
“consistent and steadfast in facilitating dialogue on the implementation of
the GPA”.

“He (Zuma) and his team have been excellent in their role and we hope they
continue to demonstrate the same kind of leadership going forward,” he said.

Recently, Zuma was quoted saying: “All matters agreed upon in terms of the
GPA are implemented speedily so that adequate preparations are made for a
level playing field for the forthcoming elections.”

Zuma’s mediation team led by his International advisor Lindiwe Zulu—has come
under attack from Zanu PF apologists who claim the regional powerhouse is
interfering in Zimbabwe’s domestic issues.

Mugabe has refused to tinker with the security sector, which is widely
regarded as the real power behind his continued rule.

Tsvangirai, who will once again battle it out with Mugabe in elections
likely to be held by July, said going to polls without security sector
reforms would spell doom for Zimbabwe, notwithstanding the recent adoption
of a new constitution. - Staff Writer

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Mugabe's hot potato

Wednesday, 03 April 2013 11:29
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe convenes a crucial politburo meeting today
which is due to set timelines and guidelines of holding primary elections
amid serious bickering and backbiting over parliamentary candidates in the
former ruling party.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed the politburo meeting would
tackle the divisive primary elections.

“We are going for our politburo meeting tomorrow (today) and I will have to
check for the agenda of the meeting with my colleagues but I can tell you
that one of the issues which is going to be discussed is the holding of the
primary elections in preparation of the harmonised elections,” Gumbo said.

“We shall also discuss the draft constitution which was endorsed by the
nation last month.”

Amid an election season, Zanu PF members in the country’s 10 provinces have
been busy canvassing for support. The meeting today is expected to discuss
the rules and regulations which are going to be used for the primary
elections. Aspiring candidates will then submit their applications for
vetting and approval and only then can primary election campaigns start.

The Daily News understands the meeting will also brainstorm on the party’s
election manifesto that includes among other things, the land,
indigenisation and empowerment, health, education and youth empowerment.

A team led by serial political flip-flopper Jonathan Moyo has reportedly
been busy working on the election manifesto, a task that has since been

The crucial meeting will also tackle mobilisation of supporters in
provinces, districts and wards.

A new electronic membership card is expected to be officially unveiled, as
the liberation party moves to align itself with current trends.

Already, there is controversy over the new electronic membership cards amid
reports that the one now being preferred is inferior and different from the
card that was launched at the Gweru Zanu PF conference in December last

But it is the divisive primaries that are set to take centre stage at today’s
special politburo meeting that is being convened to scrutinise and endorse
the rules and regulations for the internal Zanu PF elections.

The politburo convenes as Zimbabwe’s security sector is trying to perpetuate
its power through the forthcoming elections, with several top serving
commanders and scores of mid-ranking and retired officers seeking
legislative seats on a Zanu PF ticket.

In a remodelling of an unprecedented scale, senior officers in the army,
police and airforce are seeking to stand in the forthcoming parliamentary
elections in huge numbers — the first such move since independence in 1980.
The meeting today is expected to decide on that.

If approved, they will first have to contest in the Zanu PF primary polls
alongside civilians and other members of the government. Senior party
sources say they have all indicated to the Zanu PF elections directorate
their interest in participating in the next primary elections as
parliamentary candidates.

There are dozens and dozens of other retired officers also lining up to run
on a Zanu PF ticket. The Politburo is also expected to flesh out a proposal
by a cabal of so-called “Young Turks” called “Generation 40” who have
dreamed up the strategy to retire the old guard, and have been frantically
trying to sell the idea.

In order to succeed, an extraordinary number of deals with factions and
sub-factions has to be done to make it happen — with subsequent favours
having to be returned in the form of seats.

According to Zanu PF insiders, the so-called “Young Turks” are pushing for a
clinical clean-out of party dead-wood to cut a new and winning impression. -
Chengetai Zvauya and Gift Phiri

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Zim govt still to respond to Diaspora vote court order

By Alex Bell
3 April 2013

There has still been no formal response from the Zimbabwe government to an
order by the continent’s highest court, which ruled that Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora be granted voting rights.

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights ordered the government
to make provisions allowing Zimbabweans abroad to use the postal voting
system during the March referendum. The decision was made at the end of
February, but the details were only communicated to the parties involved in
the case about a week before the referendum took place.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) had filed the case before the
Commission last December, on behalf of exiled Zimbabweans Gabriel Shumba,
Kumbirai Muchemwa, Gilbert Chamunorwa, Diana Zimbudzana and Solomon

The Commission’s ruling directed the government to provide all eligible
voters, including the five mentioned in the case, the same voting facilities
it affords to Zimbabweans working abroad in the service of the government.
The court stated that the government must report back on the implementation
of this provisional measure within 15 days of receipt the order.

But members of the Diaspora, including Zimbabweans working for the
government abroad, were not allowed to vote in the March 16th referendum.
And almost a month later, there is still no word from the government about
how they will implement the Commission’s order. The ZLHR confirmed with SW
Radio Africa on Wednesday that there has been no communication from the

The only word from the government has been by way of Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa, who has repeated that the Diaspora vote will not be
allowed. He stated last week, on the back of his London ‘re-engagement’
tour, that ZANU PF would not allow the Diaspora vote to happen because his
party did not have ‘access’ to citizens abroad. He once again blamed the
targeted restrictive measures that have mostly been eased against key
members of the party.

“Because of sanctions, ZANU PF members have not been able to interface with
those in the Diaspora. To this end, it will be unfair for these people to be
accorded a vote when they have only heard one side of the story-the British
side,” Chinamasa said.

Human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba, who was one of the individuals in the
case, told SW Radio Africa that if Zimbabwe is found to be in contempt of
the African Commission, it would fall to leaders in the African Union (AU)
to take a stand.

“Of course the Commission itself has some mechanisms in place to follow up,
but ultimately it doesn’t have much power of enforcement. It will fall on
the leadership in the AU,” Shumba said.

He added: “But I wouldn’t be surprised if the government is again found to
be in contempt of a regional institution. It is not the first time. They
have been in contempt of the SADC Tribunal. Even in Zimbabwe they have been
in contempt of decisions.”

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MDC-T defections over candidates


by Nelson Sibanda

Some MDC-T councillors and district officials here have quit the party,
saying the selection of candidates for the upcoming election was

There are allegations that as election talk gathered momentum early last
year, MDC-T districts and provincial executives across the country suspended
party rivals to clear the way for allies.

The suspensions affected the eligibility of some members from running as
candidates as they are yet to be brought before disciplinary committees more
than a year down the line.

The party’s constitution stipulates that suspended cadres should be brought
before a hearing committee within 30 days of lodging an appeal.

Amos Razor (ward 9), Chenjerai Chako (ward 6), district youth Chairperson
Claude Moyo and Anold Chidodo are among those who have resigned.

Razor told The Zimbabwean he felt betrayed by the party, which denied him
the opportunity to contest as a Parliamentary Candidate and accused the
provincial executive led by Pinnel Denga of favouritism.

Denga denied handling party affairs in a biased manner, saying “The
disgruntled members were suspended by their district executive. As
provincial executive we tried our best to normalise the situation but to no
avail. No-one was denied the opportunity to contest since all aspiring
candidates were requested to forward applications to the national
 executive,” said Denga.

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Zanu disowns Biti’s assailants


by Brenna Matendere

Top Zanu (PF) officials have ditched the two activists who attempted to stab
MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti at a rally held at Mbizo 4 grounds on
March 13.

Blessing Chikwira and Libson Jaure have since been charged and dragged
before the courts. Though Chikwira was granted $50 bail by provincial
magistrate Taurai Manwere, Chikwira will be tried from the remand prison.

On the day in question, the two men in Zanu (PF) regalia gatecrashed the
event when Biti was about to take to the podium. Chikwira, who was holding
the knife, made for Biti but was stopped by MDC-T youths providing security.

Though police were in attendance, they seemed reluctant to apprehend him.
They only acted when MDC-T supporters wrestled the weapon from Chikwira.

Sources inside Zanu (PF) said the two belonged to the party.

“These two youths are the ones used by top party officials for security to
mobilise people to attend party rallies and functions in the city,” said the
source. “When they were arrested, we expected top officials to attend their
court sessions or get them legal representation but nothing like that has
happened. That’s betrayal.”

Other sources at the Zanu (PF) district offices said the two had been

“We believe that the youths were coached to disrupt the MDC-T rally but when
they did not succeed, they were ditched,” said another source.

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Zimbabwe Investment Conference Starts in Johannesburg

Benedict Nhlapho

JOHANNESBURG — The 2013 Zimbabwe Investment Conference kicked off in
Johannesburg today with both South African and Zimbabwean government
authorities calling for investment in the country’s various sectors.

Head of the Zimbabwe delegation, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara,
urged South African investors and business representatives to sign deals
before the end of the conference, which ends tomorrow.

Government ministers, senior civil servants, ambassadors, business
executives and ordinary citizens from both South Africa and Zimbabwe
converged at the Birchwood Hotel east of Johannesburg to discuss investment
opportunities in Zimbabwe.

The conference is themed ‘Invest in Zimbabwe: Building Partnership in a
Diversified Economy’ and targets institutional investors, fund managers,
private equity managers, debt equity financiers, investment banks and
multi-national corporations.

Mr. Mutambara, told delegates that Zimbabwe is ready for investment in
infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, information and communication
technology, tourism, agro-business, financial services and other sectors.

Tapiwa Mashakada, Minister of Economic Planning and Investment, said the
conference is targeting South African investors, as the country is Zimbabwe’s
largest trading partner.

Mr. Mashakada assured prospective investors that the country is reforming
its economic laws, especially those that concern investors.

South Africa praised the Zimbabwean government for intensifying its
investment drive, despite challenges faced by the country. South African
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe said her government
will support businesses ready to start operations in Zimbabwe.

She also said South African investors can take advantage of bilateral
agreements signed by the two countries.

Not all officials were so encouraging.   Minister of State in the Prime
Minister’s Office, Jameson Timba, said Zimbabwe must hold a free and
credible election before investment conferences are likely to bear any

Other delegates noted they were concerned that the Zimbabwe delegation
included no Zanu-PF ministers.

Tomorrow delegates will focus on Zimbabwe’s business environment, capital
markets, building partnerships and the role of the two governments in
supporting investment.

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Zim indigenisation laws under revision – Mashakada

By: Natalie Greve
3rd April 2013

The Zimbabwean government is currently revising its controversial
indigenisation law, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Dr
Tapiwa Mashakada told prospective investors in the country’s mining sector.

In terms of the law, local Zimbabweans must own 51% of all businesses in
which foreigners have a stake.

“We are looking to revise our indigenisation legislation so that it is
harmonised with transformation and is, at the same time, investor-friendly,”
he said at the Zimbabwe High Level Investment Conference, held in
Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

According to the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, the country recorded a sharp
fall in approved new investments to $930-million in 2012, from $6.6-billion
in 2011.

This was believed to be owing to economic uncertainty arising from the
indigenisation programme and prevailing international investor perceptions
that the country remained a high-risk investment destination.

But Mashakada said that, while investors were “shying away” from investment
in the country because of the rapid roll-out of the legislation, the law was
not intended to facilitate nationalisation, but rather to be aspirational.

“We don’t simply seize private assets under this legislation,” he

“Indigenisation is a flexible programme where a foreign company chooses
their own local partner and discusses the terms of the transfer of shares
privately. It is not based on charity, but is a transaction,” he stated.

He added that the government had embarked on a reform agenda, which had
positioned Zimbabwe in a transitional phase that would not be driven by a
political agenda.

“The Zimbabwe of yesterday and today are completely different places. As a
government, we are no longer driven by politics, but by business and
economy,” he commented.

Zimbabwe Deputy Prime Minister Guseni Oliver Mutambara further alluded to a
“reform of all African natural resource laws”, stating that South Africa’s
and Zimbabwe’s mining laws were created in the pre-independence era.

“These laws are meant to benefit investors without empowering Africans,” he

Mashakada emphasised, however, that any legislation would aim to move
Zimbabwe towards a regime of protecting investors and their interests in the

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Why I will vote for MDC


by Vince Musewe

We must unashamedly let Zanu (PF) know that they have failed us and do not
deserve to preside over our great nation

I hate to see elderly women struggling to make ends meet and having to
travel to and from South Africa in order to make a living. I don’t like it
when I see kombi drivers being harassed by the police who they must try to
dodge every day so that they can make a reasonable living.

I am disgusted when I have to listen to Zanu (PF) ministers prescribing to
us as if they alone have the solutions for our future. I detest it when I
see them driving in their gas guzzling 4x4’s, pretending that everything is
alright and that they are entitled to live off our taxes without doing any
work of value for us. And it is just outrageous that they now want golden
handshakes for the damage they have done to our country.

When I see pensioners going into town to collect a paltry $60 a month, or
when I see educated youth wondering about town with nothing to do, it
reminds me of my responsibility to change our circumstances. I loathe it
when people pretend that things are okay - because they could and should be
much better.

When I have to continually avoid potholes in our roads, which we now take as
normal, or when power goes off without notice and yet the bills keep coming.
When I smell the toxic fumes of paraffin as mothers in the townships try to
feed their families, I know that something is awfully amiss.

When a family of five must live in one room as lodgers and are continually
harassed by the landlord for rent. When taps run with unsafe drinking water
and I see lines of young girls carrying buckets of water on their heads, I
know that things must change.

I cannot stand looking at the long queues at our banks on payday as people
try to get out the little that they earn, nor the endless queues of
commuters as they struggle to get home after a hard day’s work. They must
labour for wages under the poverty datum line - that is if they get paid on
time at all. Packed in kombis like sardines, they risk their lives every
day; I know they deserve better.

I am tired of seeing rag tag young girls with malnourished kids on their
backs, wondering where the next meal will come from. When I hear that so
many mothers are dying of cervical cancer, TB and treatable diseases, I know
who is killing them; it is the incompetence, arrogance and dishonesty of
Zanu (PF). When people die at home because they can’t afford an ambulance or
a doctor, it pains me. When clinics have no medicines, power or running
water and yet we spend millions to fund frivolous projects and functions
like beauty pageants, it infuriates me.

I do not accept that we have deployed our best brains into politics and
government yet. I know that Zimbabwe can be much more than Zanu (PF) can
ever imagine, and yet they do not even have any shame about what they have
done to our country. The mind-boggling theft of our resources and public
funds by our politicians cannot be forgiven. We shall remember them not for
their sacrifices or talents, but for their selfishness, greed, cruelty,
vanity and utter foolishness.

I hate it when I see vast tracts of arable land lying idle and yet we cannot
even feed ourselves. I know that Zimbabwe has serious dormant talent in
agriculture that needs to be applied to the benefit of all and yet, because
of political egos, we must all suffer.

Regardless of what you may think, we owe Morgan Tsvangirai and all activists
who dare to challenge the status quo our respect and gratitude. They have
faced personal torment and pain for our sake. This also applies to our
honorable war veterans, who sit forgotten and despised despite risking their
lives for our freedom. The difference between us and them is that they took
personal responsibility and risk to change our circumstances. Of course, it
is very easy to criticize and point out what’s wrong with everything. We
have many “experts” out there, who comment on the problems and then sit back
and do nothing about it. We must ignore them.

The MDC and our activists have made have been architects of a new momentum
towards democracy and justice in Zimbabwe. It will be up to you and me to
participate and make that democracy a reality. Zimbabwe must never be the
same again because some good men and women decided to do what most of us
were scared to even consider.

Yes, I will vote for the MDC so that we may start a new chapter of
rebuilding our country. We must give hope to the millions of my brothers and
sisters out there who surely deserve a better shot at life. At the same time
we must unashamedly let Zanu (PF) know they have failed us and do not
deserve to preside over our great nation. That is the least that we can
do. – Join the debate. Send your comments to:

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EU Sanctions Suspended As Zanu PF Steps Up Pre-Election Harassment - Ben Freeth

MEDIA STATEMENT                                                                                                                                                                                                                          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


SADC Tribunal Rights Watch


4 April 2013


Zimbabwe: EU sanctions suspended as ZANU PF steps up pre-election harassment


SADC Tribunal Rights Watch is gravely concerned about the European Union (EU)’s suspension of travel and financial restrictions instituted in 2002 against 81 officials and eight firms in Zimbabwe in response to systematic human rights abuses and political violence initiated by President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party.


               The Mugabe government has been found to be in contempt of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal on three occasions [2008, 2009 and 2010], but has done nothing to implement any of the respected regional court’s judgments. 


          The current Zimbabwe government also remains in contempt of the judgment handed down in Paris in April 2009 by a Tribunal of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) which ruled in favour of 13 Dutch farmers whose land was seized in Zimbabwe in 2003. The farmers were awarded €8.8 million in compensation. With interest, the figure now stands at €23 million.


               In May 2012, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights found the Mugabe government was responsible for the brutal torture of human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba during 2003.  Other cases of crimes against humanity committed against the people of Zimbabwe are also being investigated.   


             The announcement by the EU comes at a time when Zimbabwe’s inclusive government has written into law in the new constitution clauses that are in direct conflict with international law, the SADC Tribunal judgment in the landmark Campbell Case and all human rights treaties. 


               These clauses are more blatantly discriminatory than either of South Africa’s apartheid constitutions of 1961 and 1983 [see Sections 56 and 72 of Zimbabwe’s draft constitution].  They pave the way for the taking of white-owned businesses, mines and other concerns in the same way that the commercial farms were taken. 


          This is not democracy, this is plain oppression.  The Nazis justified their laws of oppression over the minority Jewish race in the name of democracy but it led to genocide and some of the most terrible, inhuman behaviour in the history of humanity. 


               To expressly prevent those being deprived of their homes and livelihoods from even raising the issue of discrimination in court is more discriminatory than any constitution in the world today.


           Justice is about fairness and equality before the law.  Freedom from discrimination is fundamental to law, human rights and the protection of human dignity.  The apparent collective amnesia – or strategic bargaining - on this fundamental principle is deeply worrying.           


            The EU announcement also comes at a time when the harassment of political activists and perceived opponents of ZANU PF, civil society and non-governmental organisations as well as the legal fraternity is escalating to an alarming degree.


               Less than two weeks after Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s claim that he was not budgeting for chaos and was “bullish” about the 2013 elections, the home of an MDC village chairman and founding member of the party in the Headlands district, Shepherd Maisiri, was attacked and burnt down by ZANU PF.


               Although two of Maisiri’s children were rescued in the night blaze, his 12-year-old son, Christpower, was tragically burnt to death. At the time, Maisiri was out campaigning for the MDC.


               During the past decade, Maisiri has been imprisoned, his home burnt down several times, his arable land taken from him and given to a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and his wife raped by a ZANU PF official.  In all, Maisiri has been attacked nine times in 10 years. 


               This is a microcosm of the dangerous situation in the vulnerable rural areas and we fear for the Zimbabwean people. 


               The deployment of security forces, intimidation and punishment by a partisan police force and the unleashing of militia are key strategies for ZANU PF’s battle to retain power in the 2013 election. 


               ZANU PF’s strategic moves in the run-up to the elections replicate strategies that have served the party well for the past four decades.


               They include the arrest of staffers in the Prime Minister’s office and the arrest of a prominent human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, for allegedly obstructing justice. 


               Mtetwa has described her arrest as a ploy to intimidate human rights activists and pro-democracy groups ahead of the elections.


               We are also concerned that the large-scale lifting of EU targeted restrictions sends out the wrong message internationally.


               Despite President Mugabe’s widely publicised calls for peaceful campaigning ahead of the elections, Zimbabweans have learnt to their cost that when he calls for peace, it is in fact a signal for the violence to be unleashed.


               Furthermore, the requisite reforms necessary for a peaceful, transparent election have not been put in place, short-wave radios in rural areas are once again being confiscated to block external news reception and people are unable to speak freely without fear of persecution, arrest and intimidation. 


               Zimbabwe is once again on a knife-edge. It is therefore indefensible for the international community to imply – with the lifting of targeted restrictions on 81 ZANU PF officials and eight firms - that all is well in Zimbabwe.


               Relieving pressure on ZANU PF without reforms and, more worryingly, without instituting measures to protect vulnerable, defenceless members of the electorate will lead to bloodshed, notably in the rural areas which have in the past borne the brunt of appalling, mass-scale violence.    ENDS.

Submitted by / for further information:


Ben Freeth


SADC Tribunal Rights Watch


Cell:  +263 773 929 138





SADC Tribunal contempt rulings – Campbell case:


International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes:

Bernardus Henricus Funnekotter and others v. Republic of Zimbabwe

(ICSID Case No. ARB/05/6)


Bernhard von Pezold and others v. Republic of Zimbabwe

(ICSID Case No. ARB/10/15)


Border Timbers Limited, Border Timbers International (Private) Limited, and Hangani Development Co. (Private) Limited v. Republic of Zimbabwe

(ICSID Case No. ARB/10/25)


Zimbabwe: Assets Seizures Possible to Compensate Dutch Farmers


Dutch farmers demand €23m compensation


Zimbabwe’s Constitution – Final Document [The Constitution Parliamentary Committee, COPAC]

Section 56 is on page 38. 

Point (5) reads:  “Discrimination on any grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair, reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom.”

Section 72 is on pages 44 and 45.

This section covers the rights to agricultural land and compulsory acquisition by the State.  It also refers to the cancellation of title deeds as soon as land has been compulsorily acquired, ie there is no protection of property rights in the new Zimbabwean constitution.


These clauses are in direct conflict with international law and human rights treaties.





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The Active Pariah: Zimbabwe's 'Look East' Policy

By Jeremy Youde, on 02 Apr 2013

In 2012, Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace ranked Zimbabwe the fifth
most likely country to fail -- putting it in greater danger than
Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. World leaders frequently describe Zimbabwe
under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe as a pariah state. The
United States, the European Union and Australia have all imposed sanctions
against the Zimbabwean government for not respecting democracy and human
rights, and the United Nations has proposed sanctions against Zimbabwe
repeatedly. The country has lost many of its onetime allies and has found
itself shunned by many in the international community.

Despite all of these challenges, Zimbabwe has not collapsed, and Mugabe
continues to maintain his grip on power. With elections expected during
2013, all indications suggest that Mugabe will run for re-election and win.
How is a country whose government is seemingly so isolated from the rest of
the world able not just to survive, but to prosper?

The fact is, Zimbabwe isn’t as isolated as it may seem. Yes, travel
embargoes and asset freezes may keep prominent officials in Mugabe’s
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) political party
from visiting the Netherlands or doing business in the United States, but
those are not the only avenues for diplomatic engagement in the world.
Mugabe and his allies have cultivated an alternative diplomatic alliance by
presenting Zimbabwe as the victim of Western neocolonialism and economic
exploitation. The leadership has developed a network of support that allows
it to engage with the rest of the world. At the same time, Mugabe has
offered his experience as a cautionary tale to his allies: Zimbabwe’s
experience with the West is emblematic of the latter’s desire to recolonize
the rest of the world, and Mugabe is a bulwark against such exploitation;
therefore, supporting Zimbabwe is the same as rejecting Western exploitation
and neocolonialism.

This approach feeds into Zimbabwe’s general foreign policy themes, which
emphasize African empowerment and sovereignty, while also providing an
additional impetus for non-Western states to ally themselves with Zimbabwe.
Combined, the various elements form the basis of Zimbabwe’s “Look East”
policy, which it has used to fight back against the pariah label by creating
a new venue in which to exercise its foreign policy influence.

Shunned by the West

When Zimbabwe emerged as an independent, majority-ruled state in 1980, it
quickly became an international darling. Despite his socialist rhetoric
during the liberation campaigns, Mugabe proved himself to be a pragmatic
policymaker who employed a number of strategies to boost economic
development. Zimbabwe positioned itself at the frontline in the
international struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The country
established diplomatic relations with a broad range of states, and it took
an active role in international organizations.

By the turn of the century, though, Zimbabwe’s reputation had taken many
hits. Mugabe actively suppressed opposition political parties. He relied on
a special North Korean-trained military squad to carry out attacks against
his supposed political enemies in the Ndebele-speaking parts of the country.
He and the ZANU-PF rigged elections and took steps to create an official
one-party state. His government imprisoned and tortured its opponents.
Corruption became endemic throughout the government. The economy experienced
significant downturns, leading to large strikes and protests.

Most significantly, the government announced its intention to appropriate
property from commercial farms, owned primarily by whites, for
redistribution to landless peasants, who were predominantly black, without
compensation. Under the Lancaster House Agreement, signed in 1979 to bring
about majority rule in Zimbabwe, the government had committed to engaging in
land redistribution through a willing-buyer/willing-seller framework.
Commercial farmers would receive market-value compensation for their land,
and the British and American governments would provide the funds to support
the program. But by the late-1990s, the program had fallen apart. British
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s new Labour government declared in 1997 that it
was under no obligation to provide funds for land acquisition and raised
questions about the transparency of the program. At the same time, the
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association -- a group
representing those who had fought against Ian Smith’s white-led regime,
though some of its members were too young to have actually seen any
combat -- was applying more and more pressure on the government to
compensate its members for their service.

The government sought to rewrite the constitution to permit it to seize
farmland without compensation to redistribute it, but voters defeated those
changes in 2000. In response, war veterans and ZANU-PF supporters began
invading commercial farms with the government’s approval. Farmers were
forced off their land, and many of the invasions turned violent. Mugabe’s
government dismissed all claims that such seizures were illegal, and it
replaced judges who sought to stop the farm invasions. Opponents of farm
seizures, such as the newly formed Movement for Democratic Change, found
themselves subject to police harassment, imprisonment and violent reprisals.

The combination of decreasing democratic practices, increased human rights
violations and land seizures triggered the move toward international censure
of Zimbabwe. The U.S. Congress passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act of 2001, compelling the U.S. to oppose any new loans or grants
to Zimbabwe from international financial institutions such as the World Bank
or International Monetary Fund except those that promote democracy or ensure
access to basic needs. (U.S. government officials note that, regardless of
U.S. policy, Zimbabwe is currently ineligible for most loans from either the
World Bank or the International Monetary Fund because it is in arrears to
those organizations.) As violence continued, a growing number of countries
and organizations imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. Australia introduced a
travel ban and asset freezes against 152 individuals and four companies, as
well as an arms embargo, in 2002. The European Union implemented similar
restrictions against more than 100 Zimbabwean government officials and
allies of Mugabe that same year. The following year, U.S. President George
W. Bush signed Executive Order 13288, blocking the assets of 77 Zimbabwean
government officials in response to “the deliberate breakdown in the rule of
law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation in that
country, and to political and economic instability.” Various international
organizations raised alarms about Zimbabwe’s descent into political chaos,
urging the global community to take strong action against the Mugabe regime.

By 2003, Zimbabwe was increasingly isolated from many Western states, as
their governments mandated respect for democracy and an end to political
violence as a condition for ending their sanctions.

The Look East Policy

Mugabe’s government did not cower in the face of Western sanctions. Instead
of taking them as a sign for the need to reform, ZANU-PF interpreted the
sanctions as proof that Western states sought to recolonize Zimbabwe -- and
the rest of the Global South. Sanctions and diplomatic isolation, in this
reading, were not tools for promoting good governance, but rather deliberate
strategies to weaken the country so that the United States and the United
Kingdom could exploit its natural resources.

Zimbabwe responded by essentially thumbing its nose at the West’s attempts
to diplomatically isolate it. The logic that inspired Zimbabwe’s Look East
policy was based on the belief that it was better to find a new group of
allies that would engage with Zimbabwe without worrying about its domestic
politics, rather than try to curry favor with states that seek only to
weaken the country.

The Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has never released any formal
document outlining the tenets of the Look East policy, but its basic thrust
is clear in government pronouncements and the international travel patterns
of Zimbabwean officials. In implementing the policy, the government has
primarily, but not exclusively, cultivated closer ties with Asian states,
including China, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and North Korea. Outside of Asia,
the government has strengthened its relations with other outcast states,
such as Venezuela and Gadhafi-era Libya. What unites these countries is that
they tend to have ambivalent or hostile relationships with Western states.
Mugabe has claimed that their similar colonial histories make these states
better allies for Zimbabwe than Western states. He has also emphasized that
these states have prospered despite -- and, by his argument, because of -- 
rejecting the economic and political advice of the West. Rather than having
been weakened by the experience, these states have emerged as significant
economic competitors to the West by challenging it.

Most Western states have seen this policy as a move of desperation:
Zimbabwe, they reason, has turned to its Eastern allies in the hope that
they will provide assistance without seeking to meddle in the country's
internal affairs. The Zimbabwean government tells a different story. The
Herald, a state-owned newspaper, asserts that the policy is a direct result
of the British government's failure to support Zimbabwe's
land-redistribution program as promised in the 1979 Lancaster House
agreement. The Zimbabwean government sees land redistribution as crucial to
its identity as a self-reliant and autonomous state, and it views the
British refusal to fund the program as evidence of an attempt to sabotage
that identity. Zimbabwe’s allies, by contrast, sympathize with its plight
because they share a history of exploitation and misallocation of resources
at the hands of British, French and American interests. They are therefore
willing to support the Zimbabwean government's efforts to take corrective
actions and bolster its identity.

China has played a particularly significant role in Zimbabwe’s foreign
policy and making the Look East policy a reality. Trade between China and
Zimbabwe has increased significantly over the past decade. ZimStats, the
government’s official statistics agency, reported that trade between the two
countries topped $800 million in 2011 -- double the amount of trade it
reported the year before. The Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe has
53 members with more than 1,200 employees, and those figures largely exclude
Chinese state-owned companies that have pledged large amounts for
infrastructure and resource extraction. Anjin Investments invested $460
million in Zimbabwe in 2011 to develop the Marange diamond fields in
conjunction with the Zimbabwean military. The Shandong Taishan Sunlight
Group has announced plans to invest $2 billion to develop coal mines and
energy production capabilities in the western part of Zimbabwe, while the
China Development Bank intends to invest $10 billion in the country over the
next 5 years. China has also sponsored health care initiatives, like the
2010 China-Africa Brightness Action in Malawi and Zimbabwe, which provided
cataract surgeries to more than 600 patients in need.

Other countries in the alternative international alliance that Zimbabwe has
built have also engaged with the country in significant ways. Iran has
pledged to help Zimbabwe modernize its defense forces as a sign of
“consolidating and deepening” the relationship between the two countries.
Zimbabwean officials have hailed this cooperation as important for allowing
Zimbabwe to protect its land and culture and resist threats from Western
countries. The Herald rejected accusations that aligning itself with an
international pariah like Iran would be dangerous, countering, “The West’s
neocolonial agenda should only make us stronger.” Zimbabwe and Russia
recently signed an agreement, the Bilateral Investment Promotion and
Protection Agreement, to facilitate trade and economic investment in
Zimbabwe. Russian oil and gas companies have expressed particular interest
in using the agreement to develop resource extraction opportunities.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed an agreement between his government
and Mugabe’s to encourage greater cooperation on energy, agriculture, and
economic and social affairs. The Singapore Business Federation has described
Zimbabwe as “one of the most promising countries on the African continent.”

The economic benefits of the Look East policy are perhaps the most tangible,
but the strategy has also given Zimbabwe greater protection within various
international forums. Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential election featured
incredibly high levels of political violence. The MDC reported that 193 of
its supporters were killed in the run-up to the elections, with another 200
or so missing and presumed dead. MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai eventually
withdrew from the run-off after saying that he could not in good conscience
ask his supporters to risk their lives by voting for him. In the face of
this violence, the United Nations Security Council introduced a resolution
that would have put an arms embargo on the country in addition to
instituting a travel ban and asset freeze against Mugabe and 13 senior
government officials most responsible for the violence. However, the
resolution failed when both Russia and China vetoed it. Russia’s United
Nations ambassador argued that the situation in Zimbabwe posed no threat to
international peace and stability and therefore did not fall under the
Security Council’s mandate. China’s representative echoed this theme, saying
that it was entirely a domestic matter and that United Nations involvement
would make it harder to resolve. This fits with China’s general policy of
noninterference in domestic Zimbabwean politics. (The political crisis was
ultimately resolved through a power-sharing government brokered by
then-south African President Thabo Mbeki, with Tsvangirai becoming prime
minister in February 2009.)

Zimbabwe’s strategy has worked to generate support among regional partners,
too. Zambian President Michael Sata has criticized his predecessors for
trying to pressure Mugabe to change his policies, charging that they did so
only because Western states forced Zambia to do it as a precondition for
receiving aid. Sata also took a swipe at Tsvangirai and the MDC, saying that
they “should not fight President Mugabe on behalf of the imperialists.”
Mugabe has also managed to win support from the African Union and the
Southern African Development Community by emphasizing that other African
states are vulnerable to the same challenges and threats that Zimbabwe faces
from the West. In these same forums, he has criticized “cowardly” African
leaders who have chastised his government, alleging that they are being
manipulated by Western interests and acting as midwives for Western

With the support of its allies, Zimbabwe has found the strength to fight
back against and rebut its Western critics. Mugabe and his allies have
lambasted Western states for supporting the MDC, saying that it was proof
that their interest in Zimbabwe was premised entirely on regime change and
neocolonial aspirations. And on the occasions when two of its neighbors,
Botswana and South Africa, did express discomfort with Zimbabwe’s policies
in recent years, the government has responded forcefully, describing
Botswana as a proxy for U.S. interests and South African President Jacob
Zuma as selling out Africa’s liberation. Through its forceful denunciation
of its critics, Zimbabwe has managed to cow other states into supporting it,
convincing them that the benefits of standing with Zimbabwe were far greater
than those of appeasing Western interests.

Through the Look East policy, Mugabe has essentially tapped into new centers
of power within the global community. Rather than being isolated and
shunned, Zimbabwe has created a parallel diplomatic track that largely
ignores the demands of the West.

Is It Working?

At its most crude level, Zimbabwe’s Look East policy has proved successful.
Zimbabwe seems to have found a way to consolidate an alternative network of
international political and economic support in the face of strong Western
opposition. Mugabe is still in power, and it is highly unlikely that ZANU-PF
will lose the next elections. Zimbabwe’s economy is rebounding. Mugabe
remains highly popular throughout Africa, and critics like Zuma have failed
to convince either Mugabe or his supporters to change their ways. The
European Union, Australia and Canada have either taken steps to relax some
of their travel bans and asset freezes or have indicated their willingness
to review them. As Michael Holman argued in New African magazine in 2009,
Mugabe’s ability to persevere, and indeed prosper, in the face of Western
sanctions proves both their lack of efficacy and that they were “motivated
by pique” on the part of countries “seeking revenge on the man who has
outwitted them, rather than acting in the long-term interests of Zimbabwe.”

All that said, there are reasons for concern about Zimbabwe’s foreign policy
strategy. First, Mugabe is 89 years old. He has repeatedly claimed that God
wants him to be president and is the only one who can remove him from
office, but his age raises questions about succession. Are Zimbabwe’s
foreign allies committed to the country or to the man occupying State House?
The answer is not clear.

Second, the tangible benefits from Zimbabwe’s Look East policy are
questionable. There are many announcements about big projects and
substantial investments from the country’s Look East partners, but such
proclamations are not always followed by results. A 2012 newspaper report
trumpeted that China Railway would invest $1.2 billion to develop a
high-speed train route between Harare and Bulawayo, but senior officials
with China Railway in Zimbabwe knew nothing of the project. The operations
at the Marange diamond fields, a collaboration between China’s Anjin
Investments and the Zimbabwean military, are producing approximately $600
million in earnings, but the country’s treasury has only received $30
million. The announcements may look good, but they will provide little
benefit to the country if nothing comes of them.

Third, Zimbabwe’s foreign policies could provoke domestic backlashes.
Sweetheart deals with allies deprive Zimbabwe of much-needed revenue from
its abundant natural resources. Complaints about shoddy goods and foreign
workers taking scarce jobs that could be filled by unemployed Zimbabweans
have led to an uptick in xenophobic attacks and rhetoric. ZANU-PF has
charged the MDC with being in the pocket of Western powers, but at the same
time there is growing concern among Zimbabweans that ZANU-PF is largely
serving foreign interests at the expense of domestic needs.

Finally, Zimbabwe needs its allies more than its allies need Zimbabwe. Talk
of creating an anti-imperialist bloc to counter Western aggression may
feature in some of the rhetoric of Zimbabwe and its partners, but
fundamentally Zimbabwe needs these allies for basic infusions of cash.
Moreover, for all the talk of Western neocolonialism, Zimbabwe still engages
in significant trade with the United Kingdom, the United States and other
countries that it has labeled predatory. Trade between the United States and
Zimbabwe doubled between 2003 and 2008, even as the United States imposed
targeted sanctions against members of the Zimbabwean government. The United
Kingdom remains Zimbabwe’s second-most-important trading partner, importing
$1.62 billion in goods from Zimbabwe in 2011. The trade balance between the
European Union and Zimbabwe was $271 million in Zimbabwe’s favor in 2011. By
contrast, its trade balance with China that same year was $320 million in
China’s favor. This all suggests that the rhetoric from ZANU-PF and Mugabe
is more about whipping up nationalist support and building political
credibility than about making any forceful stand against imperialism or

Zimbabwe’s efforts to create a parallel diplomatic track based on some
shared notion of an anti-imperialist and anti-neocolonial alliance against
the West seems to have borne fruit in the short term. The Look East policy
has helped Mugabe stay in power and challenge his opponents. Whether it can
work in the long term or transcend the narrowly defined commercial interests
of its allies remains to be seen.

Jeremy Youde is an associate professor of political science at the
University of Minnesota Duluth. His previous research on Zimbabwe has
appeared in International Journal and Africa Today, and his most recent book
is “Global Health Governance” (Polity, 2012).

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How the UN Covered Up a Cholera Epidemic in Zimbabwe
A country chief got too close to the Zanu-PF and fired an officer who was trying to stop a deadly disease.
zimbabwe cholera banner.jpg
Cholera patients hold cups of sugar solution as they rest inside a ward Budiriro Polyclinic in Harare on March 18, 2009. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

Zimbabwe, a potential economic powerhouse ruined at the hands of one of the most restrictive and longest-tenured dictatorships on earth, is heading for a potential turning point. A mostly peaceful, popular referendum on March 16 approved a relatively progressive constitution that includes a theoretically strong bill of rights, and presidential elections will likely be held later in the year. But the current president is the 89-year-old Robert Mugabe, who took power in 1980 and has shown no subsequent appetite for giving it up. In 2008, his ZANU-PF party unleashed a wave of violent intimidation and repression after Mugabe lost the first round of a presidential election to the Movement for Democratic Change's Morgan Tsvangarai, a crisis that only ended when the opposition agreed to a power-sharing scheme in which Mugabe essentially remained in charge. The upcoming election is another chance for the MDC to score an electoral victory over Mugabe -- but also a chance for ZANU-PF to violently cement its control.

The U.N. tribunal's 104-page ruling reads as a damning survey of misplaced priorities and institutional rot.

The past couple months have seen another, less noted development that adds an additional layer of ambiguity to the country's future. On February 26th, a UN tribunal in Johannesburg determined that Georges Tadonki, the head of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe in 2008, had been wrongfully fired from the UN after he attempted to warn headquarters of an oncoming cholera epidemic, whose severity was compounded by the ongoing electoral violence. He was fired after Agostinho Zacarias, then the UN's country chief in Zimbabwe and currently the UN Development Program's Resident Coordinator in South Africa, decided that his own closeness with ZANU-PF overrode his responsibility to the UN's missions and values. Yet Zacarias was actively abetted by officials in Turtle Bay, who gave into his demands, which included the marginalization and eventual firing of Tadonki, even as conditions inside Zimbabwe deteriorated. The case raises the question of just how the UN will perform in Zimbabwe if the events of 2008 repeat themselves -- or in the event that the country finally experiences its long sought-after democratic transition.


Tadonki brought a wrongful termination claim against the UN after the organization effectively fired him in early 2009. The UN's bulletproof legal immunity necessitates an unusual system for adjudicating such cases. Because the UN cannot be sued, tribunals convened by the UN itself deal with employment claims, pseudo-courts that don't adhere to several important aspects of accepted U.S. and European legal procedure.

So it's significant the tribunal's 104-page ruling in this case is such a damning survey of misplaced priorities and institutional rot.

The UN-appointed judges found that Tadonki's firing was the result of concentric layers of favoritism and bad faith, tendencies that defined not only the country head's relationship with Mugabe's government, but Turtle Bay's apparently-backward view of the UN's entire mission in Zimbabwe. This case involves more than just a single UN bureaucrat enjoying a disturbingly close relationship with one of the most oppressive governments on earth. The UN system also actively abetted a toxic organizational status quo in Zimbabwe, even when it meant running the career of an employee who the tribunal found to be a talented humanitarian professional and a courageous whistleblower -- and even if it meant putting thousands of Zimbabweans' lives in danger.

According to the tribunal, in addition to upholding the egalitarian values of the UN Charter, Zacarias's job charged him with "speaking out about humanitarian issues and defending humanitarian principles." In these respects, he was a clear failure. He had a tight relationship with members of the ruling party. According to Robert Amsterdam, who was one of Tadonki's lawyers, Zacarias's testimony revealed that he had known various ZANU-PF leaders when what was then an anti-apartheid rebel movement was based in Mozambique. According to the decision, during his posting in Zimbabwe, Zacarias "would spend most of his social time with a Mr. Nicholas Goche, an old ZANU-PF politburo member and former head of the Central Intelligence Organization from 2000 to 2004." This closeness spurred a willful ignorance of the country's deteriorating conditions. In the run-up to the disastrous 2008 vote, "Zacarias seemed to not take cognizance of the fact that there was likely to be widespread and unprecedented violence," despite the mobilization of pro-ZANU-PF paramilitary. Even as pro-Mugabe thugs savaged the opposition MDC and its supporters, Zacarias did his best to shield himself from the ruling party's scrutiny, even if it meant discarding commonly-held humanitarian protocol:

According to the Applicant, the United Nations could not use the term Internally Displaced People (IDPs) as is the international practice. They were called "mobile and vulnerable population" in order to "protect" RC/HC Zacarias because he had the job of dealing with the government, and the government did not want to hear certain things. It did not want to hear that there were forcibly displaced Zimbabweans and such language mentioned in a report would embarrass RC/HC Zacarias. The Applicant said that there were about two million IDPs in the region of Murabantsvina...The use of "mobile and vulnerable population" would make it easier for Mr. Zacarias.

"The bottom line," the tribunal concludes, "is that the political agenda that RC/HC Zacarias was engaged in with the Government of Zimbabwe far outweighed any humanitarian concerns that OCHA [Tadonki's office] may have had." There were tangible costs attached to Zacarias's accommodation of Mugabe's government. In the report's most scathing section, the judges explain that Zacarias's closeness to the ZANU-PF made it impossible for Tadonki to carry out his duties as the head of OCHA -- a stance which had deep consequences for Zimbabweans counting on the UN's assistance in the midst of a cholera epidemic and political emergency:

There was a humanitarian drama unfolding and people were dying. Part of the population had been abandoned and subjected to repression. The issue between [Tadonki] and the HC [Zacarias] was to what extent these humanitarian concerns should be exposed and addressed and the risk that there was of infuriating the Mugabe government. Matters started to sour when the Applicant started doing his job. RC/HC Zacarias preferred that the Applicant remain quiet. If he remained quiet, OCHA at headquarters would say he was not doing his job. Therefore while silence would bring him trouble from OCHA, noise would infuriate the RC/HC. When the Applicant started organizing a forum made up of the NGOs, the United Nations and the donors to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe with the approval of RC/HC Zacarias and to achieve a common understanding of the humanitarian situation, the RC/HC became angry.

Tadonki didn't stay silent -- he "had the courage to inform the OCHA Headquarters in New York that Zimbabwe was on the brink of a humanitarian crisis while RC/HC Zacarias was pretending to the contrary." Zacarias had undermined Tadonki at other points during the OCHA head's brief yet eventful stint in Zimbabwe, most notably by convincing the Zimbabwean government not to approve residency accreditation for Tadonki's wife and children, who were living in South Africa during his period of employment (covered in paragraph 163 of the ruling). But Tadonki paid an additional and even deeper price for his willingness to warn Turtle Bay about Zimbabwe's humanitarian plight -- he was fired in January of 2009, after he had warned of the potential ravages of the looming cholera outbreak, which was worsened by the electoral chaos and eventually killed over 4,000 people.

None of this would have been possible without the cooperation of Turtle Bay, which seemed to care more about protecting its man in Harare than it did about the UN's vital mission in a country badly in need of the organization's assistance. Tadonki was investigated by a UN bureaucrat at Zacarias's behest, even when there was no proof of professional malfeasance. One of the decision's more significant subplots was the active role that assistant UN secretary General Catherine Bragg, who is still a high-ranking official with OCHA, played in Tadonki's dismissal -- indeed, it was Bragg herself who informed Tadonki that his contract wouldn't be renewed. Amsterdam believes that the UN was intent on protecting Zacarias at all costs. "Part of the reason nobody could take on Zacaraias was that his role was unassailable," explains Amsterdam. UN headquarters was convinced that in terms of their Zimbabwe operations, "Zacarias was the absolutely critical pivot, and everything could be sacrificed to him."

"The bottom line," the tribunal concludes, "is that the political agenda that RC/HC Zacarias was engaged in with the Government of Zimbabwe far outweighed any humanitarian concerns that [Tadonki's office] may have had."

At one point in the report (paragraph 189), the tribunal flatly wonders why the UN even bothered having an OCHA head in Zimbabwe at all. It's a reasonable question: Tadonki's two predecessors were also fired after brief and tumultuous postings to Harare, and Amsterdam believes that the UN knowingly sent his client into an extremely hostile work environment. "That they could have put anybody into the situation after Zacarias had savaged the prior two occupants of that post was just inhumane. It was like they were setting him up for exactly what transpired."

The UN and Zacarias's chief responsibility should have been to Zimbawe's embattled civilian population. Instead, both failed to live up to their obligations -- even as they were conspiring against someone who had exceeded them. That campaign even seeped into the tribunal proceedings, as Zacarias and the UN made specious and unsupported claims in court that Tadonki had been accused of sexual harassment while based in Harare. It didn't work, but the UN's efforts are continuing even now: the UN has stated that it is appealing its own tribunal's decision, and according to Amsterdam, the World Body has taken the first procedural steps necessary to retry the case. At a March 6 press conference, a UN spokesperson refused to comment on the case -- except to say that "judgments of the UN Dispute Tribunal are not final until they have been confirmed by the UN Appeals Tribunal," and that "the Organization intends to file an appeal of this judgment."

At times, the UN has taken reform quite seriously. For instance, after the Oil for Food revelations in the early 2000s, then-Secretary General Kofi Annan convened a high-level panel and summit focusing on ways to improve the organization, which, among other changes, led to the dramatic step of dissolving the UN's troubled Commission on Human Rights. Yet for Amsterdam, the decision to appeal reveals just how little the UN has learned from the Tadonki affair. "If you had a normal organization, heads would roll," he says. "Structures would change. But clearly this is not a normal organization. This is an organization that's pathological in its respect for its employees."

The events in the Tadonki case mostly happened in 2008, but they are less distant than they seem -- and not just because of the UN's plans to appeal. According to Dawit Giorgis, a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who was a consultant for various UN missions in Africa throughout the 90s and 2000s, the Tadonki case is an extreme example of a more general problem. "It happens regularly in many countries where officials get too close to a government," says Giorgis, "and cross the line of working with people, officials or policies that are contrary to the larger policy of the United Nations."

Giorgis says that the UN "generally does a good job at field level." Yet the UN is a sprawling and perhaps ungovernably vast organization, consisting of scores of large, semi-autonomous offices and agencies. "It is beyond the capacity of the headquarters to coordinate this body," says Giorgis. For reasons of bureaucratic expediency -- and perhaps necessity -- there's an organizational incentive not to micro-manage from Turtle Bay, and to resolve cases like Zacarias's apparent conflict with Tadonki as quickly and easily as possible.

That's hardly the only structural issue that might make another Tadonki-type case likely. Joshua Muravchick, a fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and author of a book on UN reform, says that the UN is largely administered by entrenched bureaucrats who benefit from the organization's current governing structure. The few countries with the influence to change that structure -- like the U.S.-- would rather dedicate their energies to peace and security issues, like the Iranian nuclear program, or the Syria conflict. "Our people at the UN see this endemic corruption around them, but it's very understandable that they don't have an interest in raising Hell about it," says Muravchick. "On the contrary, they prefer, for good reasons, to want to make people happy so that we can spend our capital on big issues that really matter to us... it's very rarely in anyone's interest at the UN to blow the whistle on anyone else within the UN system."


In a plausible worst-case scenario, this coming year will bear a similarity to the crisis of 2008. With elections planned for an as-yet unannounced date later in the year, the country could be heading towards another inflection point, or even another explosion -- situations in which international organizations would take on heavy humanitarian and moral responsibilities. "The UN was being asked, and will be asked in the future, to play a key role in the transition in Zimbabwe, and they have been completely contaminated by their behavior," says Todd Moss, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, and an official in the State Department's African Affairs office during the 2008 election crisis. "It comes down to trust. Who is the UN supposed to be working for? The signals were pretty clear that parts of the UN office in Harare were working very closely with ZANU-PF."

If this year's election starts to resemble the 2008 crisis, lives will depend on the UN doing a better job of upholding its values and responsibilities than it did the last time around.

The next election will give the UN the opportunity to demonstrate just how much its approach to Zimbabwe has changed. At the moment, the successful constitutional referendum raises the possibility of an election that is at least procedurally sound. But ZANU-PF had the opportunity to yield power when it was defeated in the 2008 vote. Instead, it chose to intimidate its opponents into submission. Zimbabwe and Zambia are co-hostingthe UN World Tourism Organization's general assembly in August of this year, raising hopes that an influential faction within ZANU-PF genuinely wants to reintegrate their country with the rest of the region and the international community more generally. A clean vote would be an ideal place to start. But Moss sees little reason to believe that the party's brutal electoral calculus has changed. "There's no prospect of an opposition victory as long as Mugabe is alive," says Moss.

There's evidence that ZANU-PF is already going after opposition and civil society organizations in the run-up to an election that hasn't even been scheduled yet. In January, agents broke into the offices of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which keeps a database of police malpractice, and arrested its director; in December, police arrested members of the independent Zimbabwean Electoral Support Network for holding "an unsanctioned public meeting." Police raided the studios of Radio Dialogue, an influential community broadcasting project, on March 1; in some rural communities, security forces have gone door-to-door confiscating short-wave radios. Most notably, human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa and four Tsvangarai aides were arrested in late March.

"There's an impressive level of political direction and assertiveness by ordinary citizens, human rights defenders, and civil society," says Jeff Smith, an advocacy officer for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. "What's worrying is that the ZANU-PF regime has really been able to keep these social forces in check." Widespread fear and resentment of ZANU-PF might convince the MDC that they can win when elections are held. But the question is still whether Mugabe will allow the opposition to win - and whether it's possible to have any kind of democratic process in a country where the government is so determined to hold onto power.

This year's vote could be no more legitimate than 2008's. Five years later, UN still boasts the largest and most capable humanitarian operation on earth. If the election starts to resemble the 2008 crisis, lives will depend on the UN doing a better job of upholding its values and responsibilities than it did the last time around.