Mugabe's mobs in new terror campaign By David Blair Foreign
Staff (Filed: 05/04/2002)
MOBS loyal to President Robert Mugabe
have launched a wave of attacks, forcing tens of thousands of Zimbabweans to
flee their homes since the widely-condemned election last month.
renewed terror campaign, which compares with the worst violence before the
poll, coincided with the opening of negotiations between senior figures in
the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
Envoys from South Africa and Nigeria have brokered the highly
sensitive talks and Western diplomats forecast that the MDC will come under
severe pressure to join a government of national unity that could strengthen
Mr Mugabe's grip on power.
Working from a network of 120 base camps
spread across Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF gangs have hunted down MDC supporters. In the
three weeks since the election human rights groups have recorded 13 murders
and hundreds of cases of torture, abduction, rape and assault.
offences have been committed by the 30,000 members of the National Youth
Service Force, a paramilitary outfit made up of unemployed
Anyone who worked as an MDC polling agent or campaigned for
Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Mugabe's defeated opponent, has been singled
Many have been unable to return to their homes since the
announcement of Mr Mugabe's victory, while the ranks of the displaced have
been swelled by black farm workers. Thousands have lost their jobs and homes
following the seizure of white-owned farms.
A spokesman for the
Zimbabwe Crisis Group, a coalition of civic organisations, estimated that
50,000 people had become refugees since the election. He appealed for
international assistance for the victims.
In Mashonaland East province
alone the Commercial Farmers' Union said that 19 landowners had been
"illegally evicted" and there had been 31 cases of looting since the
SCORES of innocent Zimbabweans are being brutally attacked for
holding different political beliefs virtually each day since the March
9-11 presidential vote and the madness is rising dangerously and spreading to
yet more areas.
In some areas, law-abiding citizens are reportedly
being denied the chance to buy desperately short maize unless they produce
the membership card of the ruling ZANU PF party.
In other areas,
thousands have become refugees in their own "free" country, forced to flee
their homes and belongings by the marauding terrorists.
Some of the
victims of the insidious war have paid the supreme price:
As the witch-hunt is stepped up, we see no condemnation
nor action from the government to stop the terrorism but virtual warnings of
further steps against those who chose to back opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in the presidential ballot.
For ZANU PF and its leaders, it
is as if it is business as usual.
Let it be said that Zimbabweans have
shown extraordinary patience in the face of naked provocation but their
anguished silence should not be construed to mean that they will continue to
tolerate unmitigated madness and chaos.
The witch-hunt is clearly
aimed at obliterating Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from
the face of the earth, but it will fail because no one can ever extinguish
the human being’s yearning for true freedom.
The MDC is not just a
momentary fluke that will pass but a reality born out of the government’s
total and repeated failure to address the people’s dire suffering.
sooner the government wakes up to this reality and co-exists with
the opposition party, the better for all Zimbabweans.
No amount of
demonising the MDC or of accusing it of all manner of crimes, real or
imagined, will make the party vanish from the earth.
For the government,
time is running out to put an end to the reign of plunder and murder being
waged by common criminals who have been given carte blanche to cow the entire
nation as a political survival tool.
Unless the government acts against
the terrorism and does so rapidly and visibly, Zimbabweans will draw their
own conclusions and they will certainly be forced to defend
In time, all these terror mobs and their sponsors will be
held fully accountable for their crimes against humanity and that time is not
ZANU PF’s campaign of violence, lies and deceit is not
sustainable and the governing party must surely know that.
later, the moment of reckoning will come. When that happens, let us not hear
pleas or cries that those responsible for so much human suffering were not
warned or aware of their dastardly crimes.
Peace-loving Zimbabweans and
the entire civilised world cannot and will not allow this travesty of justice
and challenge to the world’s conscience to stand.
It’s just a question
of when this nonsense will be ended.
THE erosion of democracy in
Zimbabwe has over the years resulted in a depleted civil society. The
Zimbabwe government has been progressively destroying democratic
There is no longer a clear separation of power between the
pillars of democracy. This has clearly manifested itself in the sustained
suppression of competition for state power in the form of any opposition
The oppressive rule of the Zimbabwe government has
witnessed the enactment of draconian laws to counter the vibrancy of civic
society. Lately the Electoral Amendment Regulations and the Public Order and
Security Act were meant to completely paralyse civic society members and
relegate them to spectators in any election.
A clear manifestation of
the disempowerment of civil society has been the hesitant and muted response
of civil society to the outcome of the March 9-11 presidential
While the Zimbabwe Election Support Network condemned the
election as being marred with violence, among a host of other electoral
misdeeds unconscionable in a democracy, the organisation did not take its
findings to the logical conclusion of what the alternatives are when a
democratic process fails.
What we have not seen or heard in Zimbabwe
is a united and determined voice from Zimbabwean civil society.
prevailing silence cannot be explained in any other way except to say that
the election outcome has left civil society numb, confused and, above all,
shocked. Worrisome is the surrendering of the responsibility to deal with an
illegitimate government to the international community.
In the political
discourse at the international level, particularly at the Commonwealth and
regional consultations of heads of states, there seems to be a misguided
consensus that sees a solution to the present crisis as dialogue between the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling ZANU
The problem is beyond the two parties. It is the destruction of
democratic institutions that needs to be addressed and civil society is well
placed to address these issues.
This, therefore, means that civil
society has to be inserted into this equation for any transition to be
successful. Locating the crisis as a difference between two parties will not
address the crucial issue of destruction of the democratic
It is important to recognise that because of the high
degree of polarisation, there is a substantial number of Zimbabweans who are
not affiliated to either ZANU PF or the MDC.
This, therefore, calls
for nurturing lobby groups of specific interests, which both political
parties have not given significant attention.
While there has been
reference to issues of human rights when discussing the Zimbabwean crisis, it
also seems that this factor has not been a consideration. In any given
society human rights are a fundamental concept to be protected irrespective
of state resources or the political environment.
Human rights are not
simply well-sounding legal terms initiated by the West as some African
leaders have suggested. Human rights go to the root of society, its identity,
understanding, participation, and so forth.
Indeed human rights have not
been a consideration of ZANU PF throughout its 22-year rule. It is the
business of civil society to make it impossible for political parties to push
issues of human rights off the agenda.
The Zimbabwe crisis is a watershed
moment for democracy in the region. The present repressive climate makes
healthy debate, analysis and reflection impossible. It is times like these
that civil society in the region is called upon to play an important role in
providing solidarity, resources and skills to civil society organisations in
Zimbabwe as they consolidate their space and role in building a
It is imperative that in coalitions of this nature, it is
Zimbabwean civil society that must take the lead.
situation says it all; there is complete absence of commitment to democratic
principles. The pressure to build these institutions must come from civil
Eunice Mafundikwa is a Zimbabwean journalist currently
on a Transitional Justice and Human Rights Fellowship Programme at University
of Cape Town, South Africa.
MORE than 10 countries have
intensified warnings against travel to Zimbabwe by their citizens until
further notice as growing international pressure mounts on the Harare
authorities to improve the country’s human rights record and solve a
deepening political and economic crisis.
In a move expected to further
dent the recovery prospects of Zimbabwe’s key tourism sector, countries such
as the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, Australia and Sweden have
advised their citizens against all holiday and non-essential travel to
Zimbabwe until the political situation in the country
According to information released in Harare yesterday, other
countries that have also imposed bans on non-essential travel to Zimbabwe on
their citizens are Denmark, Finland, Italy and Belgium.
The US, which
had initially told its citizens to avoid travelling to Zimbabwe before March
31, this week extended the warning by a further four months to July, pending
an improvement in the political climate.
Britain, the target of vitriolic
attacks by the Zimbabwean authorities in the past few months, has told its
citizens to exercise great care when visiting Zimbabwe.
of the ruling (ZANU PF) party regularly single out Britain for fierce
criticism, alleging British interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs," the
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in one of its travel
"British travellers may therefore be exposed to particular
Canada, one of the first countries to denounce last month’s
disputed re-election of President Robert Mugabe by severing all economic ties
with Harare, has ordered Canadians to avoid all travel to Zimbabwe unless
they have critical or compelling business and family matters to attend
"These travel warnings are further compounded by sanctions being
instituted by other countries," Mark Collins, a board member of the Zimbabwe
Council for Tourism (ZCT), told tourism operators at a meeting organised by
ZCT in Harare yesterday.
Several countries, including the US and the
15-nation European Union (EU), have imposed smart sanctions against Mugabe
and his ruling elite, accusing them of gross human rights abuses and of
plundering the resources of the once-prosperous country.
The EU is
expected to meet next week to consider widening the smart sanctions against
Mugabe and his officials.
The travel warnings are expected to hit the
recovery of Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, whose hard cash earnings have declined
by more than 40 percent in the past year due to a sharp drop in tourist
The countries that have issued travel warnings are the major
markets of visitors to Zimbabwe and their actions could cut the number of
tourists coming into the country.
According to information released
yesterday, occupancy at major Harare hotels has declined from 61 percent in
1999 to about 40 percent last year and is projected to tumble further to 37
percent in 2003.
Occupancy at hotels in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe’s
premier tourist destination, has also nosedived from about 66 percent three
years ago to 34 percent in 2001 but is seen edging up to 39 percent by the
end of 2003.
The tourism sector, which contributed about eight percent to
Zimbabwe’s annual gross domestic product at its peak four years ago, is one
of the industries widely expected to contribute to the recovery of the
country’s tottering economy.
Air Zimbabwe hard-hit by decline in tourist
arrivals Godfrey Marawanyika
NATIONAL carrier Air Zimbabwe, which had
weathered the decline in tourist arrivals and remained competitive through
charging airfares in local currency, has succumbed to the decline and been
forced to resort to a 14-seater instead of its normal 120-seater plane on the
Harare-Victoria Falls route.
So serious is the decline in arrivals
that the airline was predicting the trend might continue.
on travel to Zimbabwe by most European Union countries and the United States
to their nationals have contributed to the decline.
The reduction in
numbers had affected business operations in Victoria Falls and Hwange
The decline in arrivals had forced Air Zimbabwe to
charter a 14-seater plane in place of the usual Boeing 737 which ferries at
least 120 passengers.
Last month Air Zimbabwe thrice serviced the
Victoria Falls route using the smaller plane due to the reduction of paying
passengers. At one stage it was forced to cancel some flights
Air Zimbabwe spokesman David Mwenga confirmed they had
been forced to charter small craft last month to service some of their routes
and said they might continue doing so this month.
"We did charter
a smaller craft last month due to the decline in numbers because we did not
have enough passengers to fill our normal aircraft,"
"It is very likely that even this week we might have
to charter a smaller plane as it would not be economical for us to fly a
Fear of politically-motivated violence has seen most European
Union countries warning their citizens to avoid visiting Zimbabwe. The
warnings, issued in the run-up to the March 9/10 presidential election, still
stand. Australia and New Zealand have also issued similar warnings to
Last month several people were injured in
Victoria Falls as Zanu PF hoodlums went on the rampage assaulting suspected
opposition party supporters. Some of the victims were admitted at Victoria
Falls General Hospital.
The country's prime tourist attraction Hwange
National Park and the Victoria Falls are currently being sustained by small
groups of tourists coming via South Africa.
Mwenga said Air
Zimbabwe had this week been forced to cancel the Johannesburg/Victoria Falls
flight due to low numbers. The passengers were transferred into South African
Although the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism met this week to
map the way forward for resuscitating the once-thriving industry, players in
the sector have warned of a daunting task ahead.
Tourism Authority has predicted the tourism sector will only improve from the
current slump next year.
The ZTA has so far received a $260 million
grant to spearhead an international marketing drive by appointing tourism
attaches to perceived key markets around the world.
Falls hotel managers confirmed they were seriously affected by the decline in
"One of the lodges in Hwange with a 400-room occupancy had
less than 10 guests during the second week of March, yet this is supposed to
be our peak period for international arrivals," said one Victoria Falls-based
"We have been forced to ask some of our employees
to go home until the situation improves."
Zimbabwe has seen a
marked decline in the tourism sector whose receipts fell by 38% in 1999 in
US$ terms, to US$124,7 million.
During the first half of last year
the country realised US$43,40 million in tourism receipts compared to
US$75,80 million for the same period in 2000.
The rate at which authorities should devalue the
dollar By Nhlanhla Nyathi
THE crucial presidential elections, which
had been dubbed a milestone in Zimbabwe's political and economic climate have
finally come and gone. Politicians, who had shifted their focus 100% to
wining the presidential elections and to a certain extent, neglecting the
state of the economy, should now stop politicking and get down to rebuilding
the battered economy.
Business people, who had also adopted a
wait-and-see attitude should change their strategy and engage in active
business that will help resuscitate this once-vibrant economy again. Coming
out of this election, one of the key fundamental issues which should be a
priority for the government is the re-pricing of the mis-aligned exchange
rate relative to Zimbabwe's major trading partners.
proposed adjustment of the exchange rate can only have the desired impact on
the economy if it is partnered by the return of multilateral organisations
such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support Zimbabwe's perennial
balance of payments deficit. Before we engage in this process, the question
we should be asking ourselves as a nation is: Given Zimbabwe's strained
relationship with the US and the EU, stemming from events leading up to the
elections, will it be possible to convince the IMF and other multilateral
organisations to assist Zimbabwe at this point in time?
If it is
possible, then steps to negotiate their return should be taken as soon as
possible. If not, then it is possible the government will maintain the
current over-valued fixed exchange rate.
Problems with the exchange
rate surfaced in 1994 when authorities adopted a managed float exchange rate
system. Inflationary conditions, which later followed soon after the adoption
of this system, did not warrant the exchange rate to remain floating between
the initially promulgated levels of 8,387-9,311 against the US dollar.
Consequently, the Zimdollar had become well overvalued by August
However, the negative effect of the overvalued currency was not
felt until November 1997 when the gross foreign exchange reserves which were
used by the Reserve Bank to defend the currency, became depleted considerably
and the central bank could no longer continue to defend the overvalued
Following the failure by the central bank to defend the
Zimdollar, in 1998, a fixed exchange rate was adopted despite an over-bearing
inflationary environment. Between February 1997 and August 2000 the local
unit was fixed at $38 to the US dollar and thereafter at $55 until now.
Inflationary conditions and other parity indicators have made it quite
evident that the local unit is overvalued at these levels.
assertion has been further strengthened by the emergence of a
thriving parallel market, trading well in excess of the official exchange
The parallel market
The parallel market emerged in 2000 when
the fixed exchange rate remained unchanged at $55 against the US dollar
despite an over-bearing inflationary environment. Demand for foreign currency
far out-stripped supply, leading to the development of an alternative market
offering rates well in excess of the official rate.
buyers of foreign currency who had no access to sources at the official rate
had no choice but to trade in this market. Similarly, sellers of foreign
currency preferred to trade in the same market purely to take advantage of
the lucrative rates. Consequently, due to these supply and demand patterns
which could not be satisfied through the official channels, a thriving market
now termed the parallel or black market, emerged.
The dominance of
the parallel market has been fuelled further by the participation of a number
of corporate entities and bona fide banking institutions.
rates ruling in the parallel market depend heavily on the same supply and
demand characteristics governing a free market, as well as on the premiums
charged by black market dealers to compensate for additional risks taken in
facilitating trade in an illegal market. Specifically, in Zimbabwe, black
market dealers face penalties in excess of $1 million per transaction if
apprehended by the authorities and these risks have to be offset
against clients in the black market through excessive premiums over the
hypothetical equilibrium exchange rate. As a result, the black market rate
tends to grossly undervalue the Zimdollar. The existence of these penalties
and the fact that some transactions go through at the official rate means
that the parallel market rate is not influenced by exactly the same set of
supply and demand forces as that which influence the free market
Therefore, the parallel market rate in itself cannot be
regarded as indicative of the true equilibrium rate that would prevail in the
absence of controls. Normally, for an over-valued currency such as the
Zimdollar, the hypothetical equilibrium rate lies somewhere in-between the
official and parallel market rate.
The usefulness of the parallel
market rate is that it is a good indicator of where the official rate is
likely to go if the monetary authorities give in to market pressures. For
example, the fact that there is a positive correlation of 0,96 between the
black market rate and consumer price index shows that, similar to the free
market rate, the parallel market rate is partly driven by changes in the
purchasing power of a currency. Figure 1 shows the relationship between the
parallel market rate for the US dollar and the consumer price index (CPI)
from year 2000 to January 2002 on a monthly basis.
although the official rate can be expected to move toward the parallel market
rate, it is not expected to coincide with that rate because of the bias
induced by government sanctions and specific risks associated with dealing in
the black market.
The hypothetical equilibrium
exchange rate for the Zimdollar can be determined by analysing a set of
economic parity conditions that should exist between nations globally. The
basic premise of the equilibrium exchange rate is based on the law of one
price or that exchange adjusted prices for identical tradable goods and
financial assets should have the same prices, inclusive of transaction costs,
worldwide. If this dictum is not upheld, the state of equilibrium is upset
and adjustments will take effect through the exchange rate via international
arbitrageurs who work on the concept of "buy low, sell high". Parity
conditions that should exist between nations are as
Inflation rates (purchasing power parity).
interest rates (interest rate parity).
Real interest rates (Fisher
For Zimbabwe's case, purchasing power parity (PPP) theory is the
most credible for determining the hypothetical equilibrium exchange rate.
The Fisher effect and interest rate parity theory would not work due to
a deliberate manipulation of interest rates by the Reserve Bank that
were meant to benefit the government and the productive
The equilibrium exchange rate under purchasing power
The PPP theory rests on the assumption that free trade will
equalise the price of any good in all countries. The relative version of PPP,
uses the CPI as a measurement of inflation between trading nations based on
a specified base year. However, the theory does not acknowledge the
existence of government erected barriers, product differentiation,
transportation costs and relative weights placed in the CPI basket which
could be different between nations. For purposes of this illustration, the
hypothetical equilibrium exchange rate for the Zimdollar to the US dollar
will be calculated from PPP theory. Data used to calculate the equilibrium
exchange rate is based on information sources from the Central Statistical
Office and the US Embassy. As shown below, the equilibrium exchange rate is
based on figures for 1995 for the following reasons:
exchange rate in 1995 was allowed to float to market changes; therefore, it
is a better estimate of the equilibrium exchange rate.
The CPI index for
Zimbabwe is calculated on the basis of 1995 as the base year.
for United States has been adjusted from the original (1982=100) base year to
(1995=100) base year by subtracting the cumulative index from 1982 to
Based on PPP, the equilibrium exchange rate should be at $112
against the US dollar. At the current level of $55 to the US dollar, the
Zimdollar is grossly overvalued by 105%. This rate is also lower than that of
the black market rate of $320 to the US dollar by 183% primarily because of
excessive premiums charged for risks taken by traders in facilitating trade
on an illegal market. As a result, exports have become less competitive
overseas while imports are more price competitive relative to domestic
products. The resulting deficit in the nation's balance of trade has put
considerable downward pressure on the spot exchange rate. This downward
pressure can only disappear when Zimbabwe's currency has depreciated relative
to its foreign competitors' currencies by the inflation differential as
indicated above. Only then, will the activity of the black market cease to be
- Nhlanhla Nyathi is an investment analyst with a local
financial services firm and holds a Bachelor Of Commerce Honours Degree in
Finance from Nust. He is also a stage one candidate in the Chartered
Financial Analyst (CFA) programme. Contact numbers - 091272116 or (04)
Inflation set to reach 150% Loughty Dube
economy and the inflation rate will not improve in the coming six months but
will worsen unless government brings about radical and immediate national
A leading Bulawayo-based economist, Eric Bloch, told the
Zimbabwe Independent that an about-turn in the country's economic fortunes
was impossible in the near future and warned the economy would decline
further if government continued with its scorched-earth
"The economy will continue to decline further in the coming
six months and inflation is set to worsen during that period until and unless
government introduces fundamental national policies that address the economic
issues," Bloch said. "If that is not done soon the economy will suffer more
He said the country's inflation rate would rise to an all-time
high of 150% by the end of the year from the current 116,3% at which it is
"If the government does nothing to change the
course of the economy urgently, then inflation will be hovering around 150%
by the end of the year," he said.
The increased shortage of
foreign currency, spiralling inflation and a pronounced shortage of basic
items on the market, Bloch said, were worsening the country's economic
Zimbabwe's economic environment remained volatile last year as
a result of government-sanctioned farm invasions, failure to attract
investment, a general decline in business confidence and the exponential rise
Government's ineffective monetary and fiscal
policies have resulted in the deterioration of the macro-economic climate
Zimbabwe's domestic debt is currently $226,93 billion
whilst the foreign debt is over US$720 million.
Bloch said it was
vital for government to restore the rule of law before embarking on a
comprehensive national reform policy.
He said government should
embark on a restructuring of the land programme, pursue market-related
policies instead of regulating the market and devalue the dollar to restore
"Government should embark on a restructuring of the
land programme where there will be no further redistribution but a programme
that will not destroy the viability of the agricultural sector," said
Zimbabwe is currently facing its worst drought since
The United States government says it is poised to deliver
the first consignment of a 34 430 tonne contribution of maize meal to help
feed thousands of Zimbabweans facing severe food shortages. "The United
States is providing 8 470 metric tons of fortified maize meal and the
associated transport and handling costs," the US embassy in Harare says in a
statement. "The food is now on its way to Zimbabwe from Tanzania." The
embassy says the first consignment of the maize, part of the US contribution
to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) emergency project for
Zimbabwe will be delivered in Bindura, 88km northeast of Harare tomorrow.
"Current US government plans also provide for an additional $7 million worth
of assistance for the UN food programme over the coming months. This
assistance will provide for an additional 11 650 tonnes of food, including
transport and handling costs," the statement adds. The US is also finalising
an agreement with aid agency World Vision International to provide 14
310 tonnes of maize meal and other food commodities for some 75 000 people
in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the coming year.
"The total US contribution is expected to be 34 430 tonnes. This amount will
meet the needs of approximately 170 000 vulnerable people in rural
Zimbabwe during the next 12 months," the embassy says.
southern African food security unit said regional countries including
Zimbabwe face widespread hunger as food imports were arriving too slowly in
areas hit by drought. The Southern African Development Community's (SADC)
Early Warning Unit said in its latest quarterly update that only 36% of
planned regional imports had been received, exacerbating already dwindling
food supplies in land-locked Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Slow deliveries
were mostly due to poor infrastructure, derailments of freight trains and
congestion of routes arising from competing demands on freight services from
here (South Africa). Zimbabwe is normally self sufficient in food but drought
and the invasions of white-owned farms since February 2000 by militants loyal
to veteran President Robert Mugabe have slashed maize output. With output
from the 2001/02 crop season seen at 1 million tonnes of maize at best,
against domestic demand of 1,8 million tonnes, industry officials says
imports of up to 600 000 tonnes of the staple grain are needed. Last week the
WFP said it urgently needed $69 million for 145 866 tonnes of food to ward
off an imminent break in food supplies for people in Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
MEDIA MONITORING PROJECT ZIMBABWE Media Update # 2002/9
March 25th - March 31st 2002
Summary 2. Food security and economic recovery 3. Post
election developments 4. Post election violence 5. Media
issues- post election govt. blitz on journalists 6. From our
dominated the media in the week under review: food security, the economy
and the legitimacy of the presidential election. How the media dealt
with these issues was predictable; the government-controlled print and
electronic media sought to promote government's land reforms as the
engine of economic recovery and to ensuring national food security in
the future. By contrast, the private Press reported the continuing
shrinkage of the country's economy and provided some analysis of the
likely economic effects of Zimbabwe's political isolation following
the controversial poll results. This community of papers also
reported the growing body of evidence to support claims that the
election was rigged and the on-going public debate that there should be
an election re-run. The private press also reported on what is
now evidently a nationwide campaign of violent retribution against those
who were perceived to have supported the opposition MDC during the
election. The national public media ignored all these important
developments, although they reported government's intolerant response to
calls for fresh elections. Notably, all sections of the Press failed to
report Saturday morning's riots in Bulawayo's Sizinda suburb. And none
of the media corrected the false and inaccurate information broadcast by
ZBC of the arrest and five-day detention of a Zimbabwean journalist over
the Easter holiday.
2. FOOD SECURITY AND ECONOMIC
The public media failed to inform their audiences about
the stark realities of Zimbabwe's precarious food status or its
worsening economic crisis, preferring instead, to maintain its narrow
focus on shallow stories promoting the achievements of the
country's controversial fast-track land reforms. ZBC made
spirited attempts to create the impression that government is
formulating a workable agri-based economic recovery plan in spite of the
country's international isolation. ZTV (26/03, 8pm) and 3FM (26/03, 6am)
reported that government was formulating an "agriculture-based" economic
recovery programme that is expected to create more than one million
jobs. The programme, according to ZBC reporter Faith Zaba, is set
to address low export earnings, foreign currency shortages and
food security. Explaining the programme she said: "Government
has already embarked on a fast-track land reform programme.
Already, there are 210 000 new farmers resettled under Model A1 which
involves the decongestion of communal areas and another 54 000
small-to-medium scale commercial farmers under Model A2. This is in
addition to 71 000 resettled between 1980 and 2000. The ultimate goal is
to create between 1 and 2 million jobs." The report was an
attempt to put a positive economic face to government's controversial
land reforms. ZBC provided no critical analysis of its own unsupported
claims. Apart from quoting figures for those said to have been
resettled, there was no meaningful detail on the new programme. It was
not clear how the 1 to 2 million jobs would be created, nor did the
reporter even explain the achievements of the farmers resettled between
1980 and 2000 as a yardstick to give some substance to the figures and
the practicality of the programme. The public broadcaster
avoided saying that Zimbabwe's economy has always been agro-based with
commercial farming as its backbone. But the story in the The
Herald (28/3), added the voice of authority missing from ZBC's
report. The article, State revises land budget upwards: Infrastructure
to chew up US$1.8bn, quoted Agriculture Minister, Joseph Made,
providing impressive statistics about the effects of the reforms,
including the claim that between 1.5 and three million new jobs would be
created in the agricultural sector. However, the paper failed to pin him
down on how he had arrived at such a figure, or indeed, on the vagueness
of it. Nor did it question him on the number of workers already
employed by what he said were 500 000 families settled under the Model
A1 scheme or the 100 000 families settled under Model A2. Made
is on record admitting that government does not have the $3 billion
needed to finance the resettlement programme. Like ZBC's report, the
print version made no attempt to explain the programme beyond quoting
Made promising vaguely that government would "mobilise its own resources
through the sell (sic) of crops and forward contracts as we look to the
East and the Asian markets". The wildly differing figures over
the numbers of those resettled quoted by ZBC (using the word 'farmers'
as a yardstick) and The Herald (using 'families' as the measure) would
also have confused state media audiences. Can the state media please
tell the nation what the official figures are for those resettled under
the fast-track land reform programme - using the same measure?
Another article in the same edition of The Herald, Agrarian reform set
to succeed, was equally superficial, subjectively concluding that
everybody would make a successful farmer once given a piece of land. It
claimed, without providing any evidence, that "thousands of commercial
farmers (are) all raring to make a mark.and turn around.their economy."
adding: "The capability and zeal of the new farmers to produce enough
and even a surplus for export cannot be doubted." The Daily News
story, Government publishes shocking land acquisition list (27/3)
dismissed the myth that government was only targeting under-utilised
farms or white commercial farmers with more than one farm. Rather,
government's new list of acquisitions included conservancies, church
properties, major agricultural estates, and even a University of
Zimbabwe research farm, Thornpark. The paper however,
editorialised its story by speculating why the government had taken
these properties. The private Press carried more than 14 stories on the
country's economic situation and the coverage was generally thorough
and straightforward, ranging from informative hard news stories,
follow- ups to analyses of political and economic developments,
patterns and trends. More importantly, the stories embraced a spectrum
of issues that have or are likely to influence economic
development, such as Zimbabwe's continued international isolation,
state- sanctioned lawlessness, the shortage of foreign currency and
new government policies. ZBC's television and radio stations
painted a grim picture of the food situation in the country. 3FM (25/03,
6am) quoted Agriculture Minister Joseph Made saying government had
declared the drought a "national disaster". At the same time however,
the public broadcaster sought to demonstrate that government was
working hard to ease the crisis. The overall impression was that the
drought was solely responsible for food shortages without considering
other factors, such as the invasion of commercial farms and the
subsequent paralysis affecting their production. Radio Zimbabwe (27/03,
1pm) and ZTV (27/03, 8pm), quoted Finance Minister Simba Makoni saying
government was reviewing the 2002 budget "to take money from some
expenditure lines to put into food. ." because the country needed
between 1,5 and 2,2 million tonnes of maize for the period up to May
next year. But the minister was not asked to explain where the cuts
would be made or how this would affect government development plans.
Nor was he asked to give a time frame for implementing the plan in
view of the fact that people are already starving. The Herald's story
the next day was equally uninformative and also blamed the
drought. Despite a report that day in The Zimbabwe Independent
quoting agricultural experts dismissing government plans to grow
winter maize as "harebrained", ZTV and 3FM (28/03, 8pm) carried
a follow-up story reporting that "stakeholders" in Masvingo were
planning to convert part of the irrigated Lowveld sugar estates into
winter maize fields as a temporary measure to avert food shortages. Dr
Simbarashe Mbengegwi was quoted as saying the plan is "to grow maize
either twice or thrice a year so that in the end we will be harvesting
maize every month". ZBC presented the report as if the idea was a
foregone conclusion when in fact it is still a request to the sugar
estates' management, which is still under consideration. The reporter
did not even ask whether such an unlikely scheme was possible, how much
could be grown and at what cost, or what impact this might have on
Among the most significant developments of the
week was the release of a preliminary report by the opposition MDC
providing further evidence of massive electoral irregularities during
the presidential election as reported in The Financial Gazette
(28/3). While the public media have consistently suppressed
growing public criticism of the election, the private Press continues
to report this, as it has civic society's plans to publicly
protest against the result (The Daily News 25/3) and to query
the legitimacy of Mugabe's Cabinet (Daily News 28/3). This
growing chorus of dissent has provoked responses from government
reported in the state media that would barely make sense to those who
had not seen the reports in the private Press. In one of these reports
which clearly demonstrates the ruling party's concern for its
candidate's legitimacy, ZBC television and radio (27/03, 8pm) covered
the party's Politburo meeting at which the issue of re- running the
elections was considered, among other topics. Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo was quoted on ZTV saying that the "whispers and small
talk" about an election re-run from within and outside Zimbabwe was out
of the question because the president had been elected democratically
and the will of the people had been expressed peacefully. He
said: "ZANU PF, as resolved by the Politburo.will not tolerate this
small talk and these whispers from anyone. We will simply.not tolerate
this." In response to the planned NCA demonstration for a new
constitution, Moyo said ". It is not possible for a donor-funded outfit
led by ex-convicts to mount a mass stay-away." ZBC (all stations 31/03,
8pm) also covered President Mugabe's victory celebration in Zvimba where
he too vehemently rejected the idea of an election re-run.
Challenging civic organizations' call for another election Mr. Mugabe
declared: "We are the government. What can they do?.This is a
post-election period and no nonsense will be tolerated. Anyone who wants
to rebel and cause lawlessness we will deal with them firmly. We will
thoroughly deal with them. We will not negotiate with them anymore.
That's gone. It's finished. We are in a new.chapter and there will be
firm government. Very firm." ZBC did not seek to analyze this
poorly veiled threat to unleash the security forces on anyone who
questioned the legitimacy of the president. While the Financial
Gazette and The Daily News (29/3) reported the expansion of the US
government's ban on Zimbabweans travelling to America, The Herald (29/3)
provided Minister Moyo with front-page space to attack the publication
of this news in the private Press and The Financial Gazette in
particular, as "a gross violation of human rights". The paper
quoted Moyo accusing the "opposition press" of publishing stories about
"the so-called expanded blacklist" of Zimbabweans under "trivial
sanctions" and described the US government action as smacking of
"disgusting racism unworthy of a country that wants to be seen as the
only remaining superpower." It was not surprising that the paper
omitted to include in this piece of propaganda the reasons for the US
action. The public media also continued to attempt to undermine the
MDC with a false, unsubstantiated story claiming that Tsvangirai
was losing his grip as pressure mounted within the party for a
Congress to select a new leader (The Herald 26/3) and others related to
the same issue. All the media reported the new MDC council in
Harare trying and failing to offload the ZANU PF flotsam most recently
employed by the previous administrators. The Herald and The Daily News
(29/3) both reported Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
reversing the council's decision to sack 300 workers still on probation.
They also noted that Chombo had declared that council could not make any
decisions relating to labour and financial issues without first
obtaining government approval, thus effectively emasculating the council
in its first week of operation. But The Herald (and ZBC) made no effort
to analyse this blatantly authoritarian government
4. POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE
television and radio, (31/03, 8pm) reported two incidents of
post-election violence - one in Bulawayo and the other in Harare. Radio
Zimbabwe and 3FM (6am 31/3) only reported the Harare incident. The radio
reports did not name the perpetrators but said the victim was a ZANU PF
supporter and that the police were treating the case as politically
motivated. However, ZTV did identify "MDC youths" as being responsible
in both incidents and reported that 13 of them had been arrested,
two in Harare and 11 in Bulawayo. In the Bulawayo incident ZTV
reported that ZANU PF youths had "retaliated and destroyed" a Durawall
and property at a house in Sizinda suburb where "they thought" gunshots
from alleged MDC youths had come from. But the TV report only mentioned
the arrest of what it called MDC youths and made no mention of the ZANU
PF supporters who had actually caused the damage. Other media,
including the British Broadcasting Corporation (and later the private
Press) reported that ZANU PF youths had initiated the violence by
attacking residents' homes in the early hours of Saturday morning. This
provoked retaliation from the residents themselves, who were said to
have tried to attack a ZANU PF youth base in the suburb where the youths
responsible for the damage had taken shelter. According to the BBC
(30/3), running battles ensued when the riot police were called in to
prevent the attack. None of this though, came out in the ZTV
report, which relied on selective police information and the initial
misrepresentation that ruling party youths had 'retaliated' against
unexplained gunshots. No evidence was given to link these to the MDC and
ZTV evidently didn't want to ask the police for an explanation. Its
failure to do so or to ask why there had been no arrests of those
responsible for damaging property suggests that ZBC is covering up the
partiality of the police in dealing with such incidents of
violence. Short Wave Radio Africa (SWRA) reported 10 incidents of
post- election violence in the monitored bulletins. Of these, Zanu
Ndonga supporters in Chipinge were said to have been responsible for
one incident, another by soldiers in Redcliff, Kwekwe, and the rest
from different parts of the country in which ZANU PF supporters
were said to have been responsible. The station also reported
that three MDC supporters were reported killed as part of ZANU PF's
retribution for their support of the opposition. Most of the incidents
were not verified by alternative sources, and although ZBC did report
two deaths, it was more reticent about attributing their political
affiliation - a sure sign they were MDC supporters. SWRA pointed out
that the police were complicit in some of the incidents of violence by
their refusal to investigate and/or arrest the perpetrators. The
private Press too, continued to provide some idea of the nationwide
extent of the violent post-election retribution campaign being conducted
against those who were suspected to have voted for the opposition MDC or
who supported that party. The private press published 31 stories of
politically motivated violence in which 29 incidents were reported, one
of which was the murder of an MDC polling agent, Donald Jeranyama, in
Ruda, Honde Valley, allegedly by members of the army and police force.
This was the only death reported by the print media in the week.
However, The Zimbabwe Independent (28/3) and The Financial Gazette added
to The Daily News reports of extensive violence nation-wide with
their own reports; 42 People Killed Since January and ZANU PF
reprisals displace 18000 MDC supporters (The Independent), and Violence
Rises as Witch-Hunt for MDC Supporters is Intensified (The Financial
Gazette). News too, began to emerge of a new wave of violence and
intimidation on commercial farms. In contrast, the public press carried
nine stories and recorded 11 incidents of political violence. It is
notable however, that most of these were follow-ups or on-going court
cases of crimes committed before the election. The public media is
ignoring most post-election violence. The private press named
ZANU PF, war veterans or state security agents as the main perpetrators
of the violence. They relied on the victims of political violence
themselves, members of the MDC and civic organisations as their primary
source of information.
5. MEDIA ISSUES:
The Daily News editor-in-chief, Geoff Nyarota, and the local
correspondent for the British Daily Telegraph newspaper, Peta
Thornycroft, were the latest victims of a post-election government blitz
on journalists using new draconian laws fashioned to stifle
democracy. First to be threatened with legal action under the notorious
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was
Nyarota. The Daily News (27/3) and The Herald of the same day
published stories on Minister Moyo threatening to invoke section 80
(1)(a)(b) of AIPPA to deal with Nyarota for allegedly a falsehood,
namely that the joint African Caribbean Pacific-European Union
Parliamentary Assembly had called for a re-run of the presidential
election at its meeting in Cape Town. Although there did seem to have
been some procedural flaws during the voting at the meeting, there was
no evidence, according to both The Daily News and The Herald that any
group had subsequently failed to pass a resolution acknowledging the
need to have a fresh election in the country. Thornycroft was
reported by both The Daily News and The Herald (29/3) to have been
charged for publishing "false information" under the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA) after she was arrested while investigating reports
of a campaign of retribution against members of the MDC in Chimanimani.
While both papers alleged that Thornycroft had been charged and
released, MMPZ notes that neither had happened and that she remained in
custody until Sunday evening. In fact, while government used
repressive legislation to curb journalistic freedom, the public press
was bolstering such persecution through propagandist material
denigrating the operations of the private press (The Sunday Mail
31/3). The paper also liberally awarded acres of spaces to New
African editor, Baffour Ankomah, to expound on the role of
African journalists, which included a defence of AIPPA "because
even Britain has stringent laws which govern the operations of
the media". But both stories fail to analyze how the public press
has been reporting news
The week also saw all of ZBC's
stations reporting government efforts to undermine the credibility of
the private media for the manner in which they covered the election.
Describing the private press as "anti-government" newspapers, Radio
Zimbabwe (25/03, 1pm) quoted unnamed analysts who said if the papers
"did not report negatively on Zimbabwe they would have nothing
to report on". ZTV chief correspondent Rueben Barwe (8pm) also presented
a report on the role of the media in nation-building since
independence. However, the report was a blatantly biased criticism of
the private media, which he said was "predictable" because of "Mugabe
bashing". He went on to cite headlines, especially in The Financial
Gazette and The Daily News as examples of the papers' unpatriotic
stance. By contrast, he described The Herald as having been "very
consistent in its defence of the sovereignty of this country, its
history, struggles and aspirations". Rather than discredit the private
press Barwe's story demonstrated the blatant partiality of the public
broadcaster in favour of government. ZTV (25/03, 7am and 8pm),
Radio Zimbabwe (28/03, 8pm) and 3FM (28/03, 1pm) also quoted ZANU PF
apologist Baffour Ankomah, in an attempt to justify the draconian Access
to Information Act. Ankomah argued that there was nothing wrong
in The Herald parroting the government line because that is what
the BBC does. In his superfluous analysis of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act he was also quoted as saying
that apart from the clause on accreditation of journalists "I can't
see anything wrong with it..." ZBC television and all radio
stations (26/03, 8pm also used the findings of the so-called Media
Ethics Committee led by Dr Tafataona Mahoso to discredit the private
press albeit indirectly. The findings of the committee did not really
have much to do with media ethics. It's findings were that ". the media
should build upon the experience of liberation movements who used
all available media to win their liberation struggle, . that the
media in the country has not been successful in inculcating and
sustaining a strong sense of history and patriotism .and that
white-owned and white-sponsored media remains anti- African,
anti-government and euro-centric." Whatever that meant it did not seem
to have anything to do with media ethics, but was more related to
reinforcing ZANU PF's view of the private press as "liars" (Mr. Mugabe)
6. FROM OUR SUBSCRIBERS
WONDERED IF YOU WERE AWARE of this media watch internet site http://www.MediaLens.org. This is their
comment on Nick Cohen of the Observer and indeed Mainstream journalism
"... the rule for mainstream journalism.
Serious debate is not welcome in the mainstream; dissent is
treated with derision and contempt, or ignored. There is no sense that
ideas are to be proposed and challenged, debated and discussed - we the
public are supposed simply to listen to your wise words and shut up. To
dare to do anything else is deemed outrageous by journalists who seem to
view themselves as celebrities to be feted, rather than public servants
doing a job that +demands+ vigorous challenge if it is to be done
well." I can't imagine what their view would be about our own
media coverage- either 'independent' or 'public'. Keep up the good
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE GREAT EFFORT
you put to reveal the real statistics of the media coverage of the
elections, which was very biased in favour of the ruling party. ZBC
acted unprofessionally and it only take a blind and deaf man to
believe all those lies they wanted us to believe. The reporters are not
even ashamed of saying such nonsense after ZANU PF has made such
a merce in our country. I wish all Zimbabweans and the whole world could
have a glance on the report you inserted and I kindly ask if you could
also insert it in the other papers apart from the Mirror from where I
saw it. Zimbabwe must be a free state and I wonder if the people like
Judith Makwanya and Ruben Barwe really believe a true democracy because
I am even ashamed to call them ZBC reporters. They are ZANU PF reporters
and hence they should rent or pay for every flighting of their
reports. Once again, thank you guys.
THANK YOU VERY much for the updates. They are
quite helpful and l am looking forward to receiving more. Nare,
L (Miss) Media and Communications Student, University of
The MEDIA UPDATE is produced and
circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue,
Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: email@example.com. Previous
copies of MMPZ reports can be accessed at http://mmpz.icon.co.zw/ Feel free to
circulate this message
HARARE, April 4 (Xinhuanet) -- The United States
is urging its citizens not to travel to Zimbabwe until what they perceive
as violence abates, according to local newspaper the Herald
on Thursday. Spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Harare Bruce
Wharton confirmed that the U.S. State Department had issued the
notice because "there has been retaliatory violence in the wake of
the Zimbabwe African National Union -- Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) victory." But he did not explain how the American citizens,
if any, had been affected by the so-called violence. "We are a
responsible country and we are being prudent in forewarning our citizens.
These warnings come on a regular basis and the latest one was reviewed from
January 1 to March 31. We are thinking about the safety of our people,"
Wharton said. The United Sates has imposed travel restrictions on
President Robert Mugabe and members of his government. Individuals
deemed to benefit from ZANU-PF have also been included on the list of
restricted persons. The Zimbabwean government has denounced the U.S.
sanctions, saying the "alleged widening of a United States sanctions
list targeting individual black Zimbabweans is a gross violation of human
rights and smacks of disgusting racism unworthy of a country that wants to be
seen as the only remaining superpower in the post- cold war." Enditem
ZIMBABWE is one of 52 countries
named by the United States government this week for maintaining trade
barriers against American exports.
The southern African country is cited
in the 2002 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers released
by the United States Trade Representative on Tuesday, together with 51 other
countries as well as the Arab League and the European Union.
mentioned by the report include import policies, service and investment
barriers as well as the slow pace of privatisation and the Zimbabwean
government’s land reforms under which commercial farms have been invaded by
ruling ZANU PF supporters or seized by the state.
"Zimbabwe is currently
engaged in an aggressive, chaotic land occupation and resettlement programme
that has economic consequences that are yet to be fully understood," the
"For example, for the first time since the 1991/1992
drought, the country is experiencing shortages of maize, at least partly due
to the land invasions, and the prospects for the next growing season are dire
for both food crops and export crops."
Lack of transparency in the
implementation of the land reforms has discouraged donor assistance for the
programme, the report noted, adding that Zimbabwe’s political crisis was the
country’s major investment barrier.
The report noted political violence
and intimidation perpetrated by ZANU PF supporters against the opposition in
the period before last month’s presidential election and which led to the
poll being branded a fraud and said:
"Until the political crisis is
resolved and the economy starts to recover, foreign direct investment likely
will continue to decline."
Zimbabwe was the United States’ 147th largest
export market in 2001, with US exports to Zimbabwe falling 41 percent to
US$31 million ($1.7 billion) and imports decreasing 19 percent to US$91
million ($5 billion).
"The political crisis surrounding the 2002
presidential election in Zimbabwe, combined with a sharp economic decline,
has severely impacted investment and trade," the report said.
NGOs seek help as political refugees swell to 50 000
Nqobile Nyathi Assistant Editor 4/4/02 1:20:52 AM (GMT +2)
non-governmental organi-sations (NGOs) have approached international
humanitarian agencies for help in dealing with more than 50 000 internal
refugees displaced by worsening political violence, but analysts yesterday
said comprehensive aid might not materialise unless the government
acknowledges the growing refugee problem.
Andrew Nongogo, spokesman for
Crisis in Zimbabwe, a coalition of civil society groups, said his
organisation was not ready to divulge the names of the international agencies
involved because the negotiations were only just beginning.
official at a Harare-based NGO, who attended discussions held yesterday with
one of the agencies, said there were also fears that negotiations might be
sabotaged by the government, whose supporters are blamed for the
violence that has displaced a large number of people from their
"We are in negotiations and we will also write to the UNHCR
(United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the UN," Nongogo told the
"This is an effort by a conglomerate of
coalitions. There is an agreement by the major coalitions that something
needs to be done and we are having a coordinated effort so that we don’t have
little groups making separate approaches."
Solutions suggested to
international agencies include the establishment of a tented "city" in
Harare, where most displaced people have fled to, and the provision of food
and other necessities.
NGOs yesterday made submissions detailing the
extent of the internal refugee problem and the magnitude of the humanitarian
crisis brewing in Zimbabwe, where over 70 000 were estimated to have fled
their homes between January 2001 and February 2002 because of violence blamed
on ruling ZANU PF supporters.
The number of internal refugees has
swelled in the aftermath of last month’s disputed presidential poll, which
has been followed by a campaign of retribution by ZANU PF militia against
members and perceived supporters of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
"There have been massive numbers of displaced
people in the wake of the election," Amani Trust, an NGO assisting victims of
political violence, said in a report detailing violence during last month’s
"Some estimates place the number at between 10 000
and 30 000 people nationwide — people who have fled from rural areas of
persecution to the cities, mainly Harare. Those on the run are those accused
of having voted from the MDC."
Nongogo, who said the numbers of
internal refugees were increasing daily, put the figure at over 50 000. But
the Commercial Farmers’ Union says at least 53 000 farm workers have been
displaced in Mashonaland West alone, which analysts say indicates that
current statistics are underestimates.
"The extent of the problem is
huge," an official at a Harare-based aid agency said. "But there’s not much
the international community can do without a mandate from the government.
Only then can the kind of assistance needed be put in place."
analysts said the government would first have to acknowledge that Zimbabwe
faced an escalating internal refugee problem before international agencies
could come forward with comprehensive assistance packages.
does not acknowledge the widespread violence forcing people from their homes,
dismissing it as a ploy for international sympathy by the MDC after losing
the presidential election.
"For any of these (international)
organisations to play a part, they are going to have to approach the
government and, with the government saying there is no problem, they can’t
move," Nongogo said.
"We will have to figure out a way we can pressure
the government to acknowledge that there is a problem."
said they would otherwise have to continue trying to cope with a problem that
is already straining their resources and which has been worsened by food
shortages and the spectre of mass starvation.
In an update on
poll-related violence, Amani Trust said there had already been unconfirmed
reports of two deaths from starvation in Tsholotsho
"We as NGOs are going to have to look at funding and
come up with programmes, but it’s extremely difficult to manage that number
of people," an NGO official said.
"A refugee is a very psychologically
disturbed person who has enormous needs. The size of the problem is beyond
the scope of most local organisations."
SEVERAL of Zimbabwe’s civic
leaders will be holding a post-election bash in the resort town of Kariba
while thousands of Zimbabweans take part in a National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) mass protest against the government’s alleged rigging of last
month’s presidential election.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN), an affiliate of the NCA, has organised an evaluation workshop in
Kariba from today that is likely to clash with a planned mass protest in the
streets of Harare on Saturday.
The Kariba meeting ends on Saturday and
participants are only expected back in Harare on Sunday, well after the NCA
Sources in the civic society this week urged the ZESN to
postpone the Kariba meeting to participate in the mass march because its
absence could give an impression that there was friction between the two
Other sources said the voluntary electoral supervisory
body’s plans to go to the resort town during the march would create
suspicions that it did not attach much importance to the street protests
planned to address the same issues that might come up in Kariba.
chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove however said his director Rindai Chipfunde
had assured him that there had been wide consultation with affiliates before
the dates for the Kariba workshop were agreed.
"I only read about the NCA
march in the papers. In any case, this (Kariba) meeting should have taken
place at the end of March," said Matchaba Hove.
"I’m told there was also
a lot of pressure from the donors for the meeting to be held at a particular
time, with the money for the meeting being spent by a particular time," he
said, adding that there was no bad blood between the ZESN and the
The NCA march was announced two weeks ago while sources in the ZESN
say they received communication of the Kariba meeting on March 22, days after
the NCA march had been planned.
The ZESN has more than 30 civic group
affiliates, some of which are also members of the NCA while the NCA has 61
groups and 65 000 individual members.
NCA head Lovemore Madhuku said
the weekend march is going ahead and that he expected a very large
"Even though the police have already started announcing through
the radio that marches are banned, we will go ahead," he said.
the Public Order and Security Act, all we need to do is inform them of our
intention to march but we don’t need permission because
that’s unconstitutional," added Madhuku, a constitutional law expert.
FEAR has gripped Zimbabwe’s public service after
reports that the governing ZANU PF party has launched a witch-hunt to flush
out civil servants suspected of supporting the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
President Robert Mugabe has warned that he
intends to purge government ranks of suspected supporters of Morgan
Tsvangirai, the MDC leader whom he defeated in a close election last month
which most Zimbabwean and international observers say was
Mugabe told dignitaries at his swearing-in ceremony at State
House last month that he would rid his new administration of lazy civil
servants and those perceived to be opposed to ZANU PF’s policies.
senior civil servants told the Financial Gazette this week that
they suspected ZANU PF had already launched a witch-hunt in key ministries
such as Foreign Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs and Economic Development
to identify and punish those suspected of having supported Tsvangirai or
are thought to be sympathetic to the MDC.
One middle-level official
said those targeted were expected to be thrown out soon as part of
wide-ranging efforts to trim the bloated civil service and cut runaway
Many civil servants were so scared of the impending
purge that they had cancelled annual leave applications to stay at their
desks to defend themselves should they be accused of failing to support
government policy, official sources said.
The sources said among those
targeted for the chop are many middle-ranking police officers, diplomats that
were seen to waver during the election and planning officers who might have
in the past voiced concern about some of the government’s
Analysts say Mugabe’s threat to fire MDC supporters from the
government flies in the face of his supposedly reconciliatory speech made
after his controversial win when he invited the opposition to talks to revive
the economy and end the current political crisis.
THAT Zimbabwe is writhing in
agony, given the volatile political situation in the country today, is
No doubt the outcome of the presidential election has left
many Zimbabweans shocked, and it is foreseeable that the socio-political
turmoil that characterised the pre-election period will worsen in the months
It is against such a background that the clergy should
play a pivotal role in restoring order in the country.
religion should not just sit and pretend as if all is well when Zimbabwe is
degenerating into a shambles. The quiet diplomacy traditionally associated
with the clergy is not only obsolete but can also be destructive in the
No one on this earth can claim to be apolitical; we all live
politics. Church ministers are no excerption; they preach and associate with
a congregation whose involvement in the politics of the day is direct
and visible to anyone. Ironically, some of the people responsible for
the suffering of Zimbabweans are born-again Christians.
It is no use
for church ministers to sit and watch while God’s people bleed to death in
this severely economically and politically wounded country.
Of note is
the fact that civic organisations in Zimbabwe have been silenced and hardly
have any voice on key issues affecting the nation. If priests and pastors are
"chosen" religious leaders who speak to God on behalf of his people, then it
is only logical that their voice should be well above that of the common
The position that has been held by the Roman Catholic Church
since time immemorial is worth emulating. Yes, churches have different
philosophies and doctrinal stances, but there is a common denominator which
is well acknowledged even by hard-core atheists — respect for human
The criticisms levelled against Archbishop Pius Ncube of
the Roman Catholic Church by the state media because of his pastoral
activities is telling. Even some "highly regarded" statesman has openly
called him names. This is because he stands for the truth that is inclined to
the will of God.
At a national pastors’ conference held in Gweru in
mid-February, Ncube made a statement that I feel should inspire church
leaders. He unwaveringly said: " I am not living on an ivory tower — I get
first-hand experience of the difficulties in Zimbabwe. Pastors ought to
encourage people in this depressed society. Pastors are sent by God to defend
Ncube made reference to the Old Testament prophets who rebuked
kings when they went wrong. King Saul was rebuked by Samuel, King Jeroboam
was condemned for abusing his power by the prophet Nathan — the list is
The point is that no man born of a woman is infallible; we all
stand to be corrected when we go wrong.
The church cannot merely be a
gathering for prayer; it should be a church of action and the clergy should
play a pro-active role which is not aligned to violence and general suffering
of the populace.
Assuming a neutral stance as advised at the national
pastors’ conference does not entail indifference to the key issues affecting
people. Unfortunately this is a stance that has been adopted by most
" Stern-faced ministers stand on pulpits every
Sunday to heap loads of blame on people for their thieving, house-breaking,
stabbing, murdering, adultery, etc. No one attempts to relate all these vices
to poverty, unemployment, over-crowding and, above all, the draconian
leadership that is ‘blind’ to the suffering of the common man." (Steve Biko:
It is necessary for ministers of religion to analyse situations a
little bit deeper than the surface suggests.
Against the background of
a silenced civic society, it is imperative for men of God to speak out. There
is absolutely nothing wrong in telling the truth for what it is. There is
nothing wrong in advising a fellow countryman to have respect for human
Perpetrators of any form of violence need to be assisted, to be
reminded of the key commandment that says " love your neighbour as you love
A language which does not show respect for humanity does not
acknowledge God and is not expected of anyone. Men of God must not allow the
devil to take centre stage in the hearts of our leaders. Unless church
leaders assume a firm role with regards to the "bread-and-butter issues of
the day", the future is too bleak to contemplate.
religion who choose to be indifferent assist in perpetuating the current
crisis in Zimbabwe by omitting to condemn evil. One is shocked by the
appalling irrelevance of interpretation given to scriptures.
This, undoubtedly, is the worst sin of some church ministers.
church should be more concerned than anyone else about the current problems
bedevilling Zimbabwe. This is so not only because most churchgoers are
politically active in one sense or another, but also because they are the
silent victims of the hostile socio-political situation in the
Time has come for churches to move away from quiet diplomacy.
"Prayer alone" is a futile undertaking; it is time that practical action
should accompany the word.
It is disturbing to note that there are
some members of the clergy who underestimate the dignity and responsibility
associated with their office to the extent that they allow themselves to be
waylaid by the "system".
In a country teeming with injustice and with a
leadership fanatically committed to the practice of oppression, intolerance
and blatant cruelty, church ministers surely cannot be expected to have the
guts to support the "system".
Some church ministers severely condemn
activism associated with the struggle for the good of humanity as unholy and
secular and therefore mis-placed in Christian faith. Under such influences,
church members develop into virtual neurotics and abuse of power by the
leadership becomes to them a temporal phase that will culminate in their joy
in heaven. Hoping for a better future in heaven surely does not entail being
passive, subservient and excessively meek in the face of
Pastoral challenges in Zimbabwe today are quite immense — well
beyond the beliefs of most church leaders. It is high time that ministers of
religion broke out of the cocoon of indifference engulfing the pastoral
domain. Fear, which breeds a culture of silence" and has turned the church
into "a turn the other cheek" institution, should be
Through divine intervention and our own practical efforts,
Zimbabwe can make a difference. It has to be borne in mind, however, as was
suggested by Biko, that "God is not in the habit of coming down from heaven
to solve people’s problems on earth".
Hayes Mabwe-azara is an
independent Zimbabwean political commentator based in Harare.