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
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.
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
“I am not sure what argument the President is going to pursue,
now that the issue of 29th June has been abandoned,” Mhike said.
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.
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
“This is a tip of the iceberg country wide,” Bennett
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.
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
“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.
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 Mberengwa.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
“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.
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
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
“We have become more and more aware of their machinations,” he
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
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
“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
Legal experts dismiss the charges against Mtetwa as spurious, but
right groups also warn that more such arrests can be expected.
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
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
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 convicted.
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
The nation now depends on food imports and the United Nations
estimates that 1.5 million Zimbabweans are currently in need of emergency
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
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
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.
WASHINGTON DC— The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice
and Human Rights says the electoral environment in Zimbabwe has been “severely
compromised” due to a lack of compliance with the Global Political Agreement, as
well as increased systematic intimidation, threats, violence and arbitrary
detention of human rights activists and civil society leaders.
statement after a high-powered delegation of human rights activists, civil
society and community leaders concluded a week-long visit to the country, the
RFK Center says the international community and Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders should engage the inclusive government and civil
society to stop the degenerating situation.
It says the engagement will
be designed to expedite the implementation of agreed GPA reforms and actively
cultivate an electoral environment that is consistent with the SADC Principles
and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
“Though the agreement was
signed over four years ago, the necessary reforms that were expected to address
a host of pressing institutional and human rights issues have either not been
introduced or are not being implemented,” said the RFK Center.
“The president continues to command an unchecked monopoly on the military and
security forces. In addition, amendments to repressive laws have stalled with
little change of reforms before elections.”
Some of the most feared
intact laws include the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act, and Private Voluntary Organization Act (PVO), which places
onerous registration requirements on Non-Governmental Organizations.
RFK Center considers the pattern of intimidation, violence and detention of
ordinary employees of civil society organizations and human rights leaders to be
a serious obstacle that undermines the current electoral process.”
says some of organizations that have been targeted are Women of Zimbabwe Arise,
the National Youth Development Trust, Counselling Services Unit, Zimbabwe
Electoral Support Network, Zimbabwe Peace project, Zimbabwe Human rights
Association and Radio Dialogue.
The RFK Center also cites as “very
worrisome”, the arrest of prominent lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, accused of
allegedly attempting to defeat the course of justice after she tried to block
the arrest of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s staffers. They were accused of
illegally investigating some state officials allegedly to be involved in shady
RFK Partners for Human Rights director, Santiago A. Canton, is
quoted in the statement as saying: “The fact that the police are targeting these
vital and necessary organizations in the months leading up to the elections
should be of international concern. This systematic assault must cease
immediately so as to guarantee the active participation of civil society
organizations during this critical point in time.”
The RFK Center also
notes that the violations of the rights to freedom of expression and access to
information are an ongoing and grave concern in Zimbabwe.
'The pattern of suppression, including the criminalization of
human rights defenders, represents clear violations of the rights to freedoms of
expression, assembly, and association, and imperils the rights of all
Zimbabweans to participate freely in the governance of their
Last month, the Zimbabwe Republic Police “banned”
shortwave radios, prompting raids on private homes and community radio stations
like Radio Dialogue, which is working to raise levels of civic and political
awareness in the lead up to elections.
Radio Dialogue was accused of
“smuggling illegal goods” and for allegedly using radios to incite violence and
disseminate propaganda. The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) was also raided by
armed police, who confiscated a number of solar-powered, handheld radios and
other office equipment, stating that ZPP was engaging in “espionage” and
“activities that threatened national security.”
civic organizations, youth groups, and independent media, including community
radio stations, are necessary to cultivate a democratic conscience and instill
democratic values throughout the world. It is reprehensible and highly
unfortunate that authorities in Zimbabwe are actively working to counteract this
necessary building block for long-term, genuine democracy,” says RFK Center
President Kerry Kennedy.
The RFK Center is profoundly concerned about the
systematic repression of civil society in violation of its international human
rights obligations under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and
the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). “The pattern
of suppression, including the criminalization of human rights defenders,
represents clear violations of the rights to freedoms of expression, assembly,
and association, and imperils the rights of all Zimbabweans to participate
freely in the governance of their country”.
The RFK Center says it
recognizes the significant advances made towards the protection of human rights
in Zimbabwe’s new constitution. It says a progressive Bill of Rights that
accurately reflects international consensus on the importance of both protecting
and promoting human rights – from political to socio-economic and the right to
development – is particularly encouraging and most welcome.
delegation organized by the RFK Center comprised Kerry Kennedy (United States),
President, RFK Center; Santiago A. Canton (Argentina), Director, RFK Partners
for Human Rights; Alfre Woodard (United States), actor and activist; Maureen
White (United States), former Senior Advisor on Humanitarian Issues in the
Office of the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan; Jorge Taiana
(Argentina), Director General of the International Centre for Political Studies
at the San Martin University in Argentina and former Minister of Foreign
Affairs; Scott and Christy Wallace (United States), Co-Chairs, Wallace Global
Fund; Jeffrey Smith (United States), Advocacy Officer, RFK Center; and Stephanie
Postar (United States), Advocacy Assistant, RFK
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
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 remand.
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.
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 ministers.
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 sentencing.
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
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
“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
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
Mugabe has refused to tinker with the security sector,
which is widely regarded as the real power behind his continued
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
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
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
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
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
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 completed.
The crucial meeting will also tackle
mobilisation of supporters in provinces, districts and wards.
electronic membership card is expected to be officially unveiled, as the
liberation party moves to align itself with current trends.
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
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
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
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.
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 Chikohwero.
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 authorities.
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
“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.
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.”
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
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.
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
Other sources at the Zanu (PF) district offices said the two
had been ditched.
“We believe that the youths were coached to disrupt
the MDC-T rally but when they did not succeed, they were ditched,” said
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
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
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
Mr. Mutambara, told delegates that Zimbabwe is ready for
investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, information and
communication technology, tourism, agro-business, financial services and
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
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.
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.
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
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
“These laws are meant to benefit investors without
empowering Africans,” he commented.
Mashakada emphasised, however,
that any legislation would aim to move Zimbabwe towards a regime of
protecting investors and their interests in the country.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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: email@example.com
EU Sanctions Suspended As Zanu PF Steps Up Pre-Election Harassment - Ben Freeth
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SADC Tribunal Rights Watch
4 April 2013
sanctions suspended as ZANU PF steps up pre-election
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
PF’s strategic moves in the run-up to the elections replicate strategies that
have served the party well for the past four decades.
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
Mtetwa has described her arrest as a ploy to intimidate human rights activists
and pro-democracy groups ahead of the elections.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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 neocolonialism.
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.
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
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
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
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
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).
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
referendumon March 16 approved a relatively
progressive constitution that includes a theoretically strong bill of rights,
and presidential elections willlikely be
heldlater 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 partyunleashed a wave
of violent intimidation and repressionafter 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.
tribunal's 104-page ruling reads as a damning survey of misplaced priorities and
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 andcurrentlythe UN Development
Program's Resident Coordinator in South Africa, decided that his own closeness
with ZANU-PFoverrode 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'sbulletproof
legal immunitynecessitates 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's104-page
rulingin 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.
"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
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
eventuallykilled over 4,000
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
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
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 theOil for
Foodrevelations in the early 2000s,
then-Secretary General Kofi Annan convened ahigh-level
panelandsummitfocusing 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 theFoundation for Defense of
Democracieswho 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 andauthor of a
bookon 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 theCenter 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
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 areco-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
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, agentsbroke into
the officesof 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." Policeraided 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 werearrestedin 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 theRobert 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
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.