parliamentary by-election last weekend, won by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu
PF amid accusations of violence and bribery, could be a harbinger of things
to come during next year's general election. Analysts said the election,
which was also marred by coercion and the inducement of people to vote
through "gifts" or "donations", proved Mugabe's regime was still rigidly
determined to cling to power by fair means or foul. Voters were allegedly
bribed with, among other things, free medication. A number of voters who
reportedly requested help from polling officers to cast their ballots,
claiming to be either illiterate, sick or suffering from "blurred vision" or
"unsteady hands", were allegedly part of the Zanu PF strategy to ensure they
voted as instructed. An opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
supporter, Francis Chinozvinya, was shot and killed on Sunday, allegedly by a
senior Zanu PF official and minister. The Zanu PF candidate in the
by-election, Chris Chigumba, won the poll by 8 447 votes compared with 6 706
votes for the MDC candidate, James Makore. Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan
Shamuyarira said the result heralded the end of the MDC. "It signals the end
of the MDC's dominance in urban areas. It's a turning point in the political
system in this country," he said. "We are now ready to challenge the MDC and
romp to victory in the 2005 general election."
MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai said the poll showed that elections remain a "bloody affair" in
Zimbabwe. "We condemn the continuous descent into thuggery, lawlessness and
mayhem in the general body politic in Zimbabwe," he said. "Elections, which
should reflect the exercise of our sovereignty in the selection of our
leaders, should never become open season for murder, torture, beatings and
violence." Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe should revamp its electoral system to
ensure legitimate polls. The MDC has produced a list of 15 electoral reform
demands that include the need for independent electoral agencies and equal
access to the public media. Mugabe currently appoints members of election
agencies such as the Electoral Supervisory Commission, the Election
Directorate and the Delimitation Commission. A flood of condemnation followed
the by-election. University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe said
the Zengeza by-election was a precursor of things to come in the general
election, scheduled for March next year. "It means next year's election will
be characterised by bloodshed unless there are dramatic changes in the
electoral system and political climate," Makumbe said. "The by-election also
proved that Zanu PF has now really perfected the art of electoral fraud."
Makumbe said that without a fundamental overhaul of the electoral system
Zimbabwe would continue to hold fraudulent elections that subvert the popular
will and produce illegitimate regimes. "Unless there are radical reforms to
the Electoral Act and the management of elections in this country, it would
be futile for any opposition to think it can win," he said.
reaction local election monitoring body, the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network (ZESN), said Zanu PF secured its victory through coercion by youth
militias. ZESN head Reginald Matchaba-Hove said the poll was badly marred by
widespread irregularities and intimidation. "Free and fair elections can only
take place in a tolerant political environment," he said. "It is also
worrisome that lawenforcement agents are mentioned among the perpetrators of
violence." ZESN said Zanu PF was accused of paying Z$10 000 each to thousands
of people in exchange for votes. Crisis in Zimbabwe, a coalition of civic
groups, slammed the entrenched culture of electoral violence, saying it was
"perturbed by the continued killing of innocent citizens during election
times." The United States State Department condemned "violence, intimidation,
and irregularities" during the by-election.
This man has been called
Zimbabwe's Che Guevara. Did Mugabe have him murdered?
In a divided land, Josiah Tongogara is a hero claimed by both
sides. Mark Olden traces an inspirational life and mysterious
You have probably never heard of Josiah Magama Tongogara, but
he is Zimbabwe's Che Guevara, a liberation icon with streets named after him
in almost every town in the country. Tall, bearded and charismatic, it was
he who, as commander of the guerrilla army Zanla, towered over the
Lancaster House conference that led to Zimbabwe's independence and the end of
white minority rule. Many expected him to be the first president of the
free Zimbabwe, with Robert Mugabe, head of Zanla's political wing, Zanu, as
prime minister. But six days after the Lancaster House agreement was
signed, Mugabe, on the Voice of Zimbabwe radio station, conveyed "an
extremely sad message" to "all the fighting people of Zimbabwe": the
41-year-old Tongogara was dead, killed in a car accident in Mozambique on
Christmas Day 1979. Two questions have haunted Zimbabwe ever since. How
different would the nation have been had Tongogara lived? And did Mugabe have
As a child, Tongogara worked on the farm owned by the
parents of Ian Smith, Rhodesia's last prime minister and the man whose racist
regime he took up arms against. When he couldn't get a secondary school
place, he left for neighbouring Zambia, where he later abandoned his job as
bar manager at a white amateur dramatics club to join the struggle. His
people's need for "land, land, education, land" was what drove him, he said
in his last interview. In 1966, he led a group to China for military
training. Zanla's first Rhodesian prisoner of war, Gerald Hawksworth, said
after he was released that Tongogara was always smiling, referred to him as
"Comrade Hawksworth" and plied him with cigarettes during his captivity. He
was fighting the system, he told Hawksworth, not a racial war.
Harare last month, I met Wilfred Mhanda, a former high-ranking
Zanla commander who knew Tongogara and who today heads the Zimbabwe
Liberators' Platform (ZLP), a group of ex-guerrillas who claim that the
struggle's ideals have been betrayed. Tongogara, he says, was "a very
strong charismatic leader" and "the epitome of a freedom fighter, with all
the recruits aspiring to be like him. You felt safe and secure under
his command. He believed in the empowerment of his junior officers, and
allowed them to implement policy as they saw fit." He was also highly
ambitious. "By the eve of independence, he'd manoeuvred himself into a very
powerful strategic position, where he could say: 'This is what the fighters
want' to the Zanu leadership and 'This is what the leadership want' to the
fighters. He had the best of both worlds and took advantage of it." At
Lancaster House, Tongogara was a crucial "moderating" force, according to
Lord Carrington, the then British foreign secretary, who chaired the talks.
On the first day of the conference, he surprised Ian Smith by revealing
how Smith's mother gave him sweets on their family farm as a child. "If I
get home and the old lady is still alive that would be one of the
greatest things for me - to say hello, ask her about the sweets and whether
she has still got some for me," he later told an interviewer. And at a
press conference when the taciturn Mugabe started telling Carrington to "go
to hell", Tongogara reached over and calmed his diminutive colleague
By then, Tongogara was openly favouring unity between Zanu and
Zimbabwe's other nationalist movement, Joshua Nkomo's Zapu. He reportedly had
private meetings with Nkomo during the conference. But Mugabe was opposed.
"[Mugabe] referred to unity with Zapu as sharing the spoils with those who
had not shouldered the burden of fighting," says Mhanda. As Lancaster
House concluded, Tongo-gara returned to Mozambique, where Zanla was based,
to inform his soldiers of the ceasefire. Margaret Dongo was among them. At
15, she had crossed into Mozambique to join the guerrillas, adopting
the chimurenga (liberation war) name of Tichaona Muhondo ("prepared to
face trouble"). Once a ruling Zanu-PF MP, she later became disillusioned with
the party. Now she is president of the small opposition Zimbabwe Union
of Democrats and a thorn in the sides of her erstwhile comrades. "Tongogara
was principled," she says. "He was unwavering in knowing what he was
fighting for and could not easily be driven into corruption. I believed in
him." Dongo was one of the last people to see him alive. "We were 18 girls
who were having a function and he came to say a few words to bless
the occasion." But did Tongogara die as Mugabe claimed? There are
several mysteries. He actually died on 26 December, not 25 December. His body
took two days to reach a mortuary. And though Zanu released an
undertaker's statement saying his injuries were consistent with a road
accident, no autopsy results or pictures have ever been
The CIA and US State Department reports from the time,
which I obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, add to the doubts.
"There will inevitably be speculation that Tongogara was killed either by
enemies within Zanu or by the Rhodesian security forces," states the CIA
intelligence briefing of 28 December. "In addition to [Tongogara's] military
command, he was a political force behind the scenes and a potential political
rival to Mugabe because of his ambition, popularity and decisive style." On
the same day, the US embassy in Zambia reported: "Almost no one in Lusaka
accepts Mugabe's assurance that Tongogara died accidentally. When the
ambassador told the Soviet ambassador the news . . . yesterday evening, the
surprised Soviet immediately charged 'inside job'. His capsule reaction
parallels the opinions of the great majority of the diplomatic corps." Ian
Smith, admittedly hardly an impartial source, also insisted in his memoirs
that Tongogara's "own people" killed him, and that he had disclosed at
Lancaster House that Tongogara was under threat. "I made a point of
discussing his death with our police commissioner and head of special branch,
and both assured me that Tongogara had been assassinated," Smith wrote. Then
there are the claims that surfaced in the Zimbabwean magazine Moto a few
years ago. Four of Tongogara's former bodyguards had died in
suspicious circumstances since independence, it alleged. One was said to have
been hit by a car outside a Harare hotel after telling friends that when he
retired from the army he would "sell the BBC the true story of Tongogara's
One woman professes to know the truth: Oppah Muchinguri, a
former cabinet minister in Mugabe's government, whose close relationship with
him - and fractious relationship with his wife Grace - has long been the
subject of local rumour. She was a 21-year-old Zanu secretary when Tongogara
died, and it was only years later that she announced - not entirely
convincingly - that she'd been in the car with him when it had crashed into
the back of a truck. I called her. "I don't give interviews to UK
journalists," she said. "Tongogara is a Zimbabwean and as a Zimbabwean I am
not interested in colonialists." Then she hung up. But while the facts of
Tongogara's death remain obscure, its meaning in present-day Zimbabwe is
clear, with both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and ruling
Zanu PF claiming his legacy, and legitimacy, for themselves. Three years ago
a report claimed that Mugabe believed he was being haunted in his
presidential home by an angry Tongogara, who berated him for destroying the
revolution. As in Macbeth, the popular (in Tongogara's case, future) king had
been supplanted by his killer, who became steeped in greater bloodshed as he
rose to power, and was now haunted by the ghost of his deeds. Mugabe, it was
said, had even taken to having a place laid for Tongogara at his dinner
In the poor township of Mabvuku East, ten miles from Harare
and surrounded by lush countryside dotted with spectacular granite rocks,
they sing: "Tongogara is dead/Don't cry/You killed him." Tonde, a local MDC
activist who has been arrested 19 times and tortured three times, says: "We
call Mabvuku a liberated zone because we've got networks in every corner. As
soon as the police arrive, the people inform us and we can move." Liberated
zones were part of Tongogara's strategy. "He was the true leader," says
Tonde. "The current ones are thieves." Meanwhile, almost every hour on ZBC,
the government-owned, propaganda-swamped television station, a different
story is being pumped out under the slogan: "The land is our prosperity."
Footage of Zimbabwe's great heroes, Mugabe and Tongogara, is intercut with
joyful people dancing on their newly acquired land and pictures of the
country's enemies, Tony Blair and the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The
message is that Zanu-PF is the true custodian of Zimbabwe's sovereignty and
revolution. Churchill High School in Harare was recently renamed Josiah
Tongogara High. War veterans who invaded a farm on the edge of Harare renamed
it Tongogara. Maybe Tongogara was not quite the paragon that many now
believe: as Mhanda acknowledges, he was ruthless at settling internal
disputes. But he is a symbol for both sides in Zimbabwe's struggle. "We got
hold of political power," says Mhanda. "But we failed to transform the
instruments of power to serve the people rather than the elite."
Errant banks get amnesty Vincent Kahiya CENTRAL
bank governor Gideon Gono has granted banks caught dealing in foreign
currency on the parallel market amnesty on condition that they do not commit
a similar offence this year, the Zimbabwe Independent learnt
The amnesty was offered in January to build trust between
banks and the Reserve Bank, as enunciated in Gono's monetary policy statement
in December last year.
This revelation comes as three more banks
are in trouble for dealing in foreign currency and are set to appear in
court, the police said. The banks affected are Barclays, Kingdom and
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the three
financial institutions were set to appear in court soon.
charging them with dealing in foreign currency. However, we will not be
charging the directors but the companies themselves," he said.
were supposed to appear in court yesterday (Tuesday) but there was
The banks' representatives should appear before a
regional magistrate today or after the Easter break.
sources yesterday said the provision of the amnesty would be a key defence
for the banks against prosecution.
A letter to one commercial bank
from Reserve Bank director in the supervision and surveillance division,
Stephen Gwasira, stated the conditions of the amnesty.
with the approach taken by the review authority, we are now granting your
bank a qualified and conditional amnesty from payment of the loca1 currency
financial penalty," Gwasira said.
"This means you are relieved of the
necessity to pay us the local currency
financial penalty. The condition
attaching to this is that your bank should not, within any period of 12
(months) reckoned from 13 January 2004, contravene provisions of any exchange
control legislation in respect of which a further direction is imposed to
cease dealings in foreign currency for a period in excess of six months," he
Banks which had been fined for selling foreign currency on the
parallel market were subsequently refunded the principal
"Please note that the granting of this conditional amnesty
does not amount in any way to a pardon, and your guilt status still stands,"
The Independent established yesterday that when the latest
batch of banks were charged with dealing in foreign currency this week, they
immediately responded by informing the police of the amnesty. Sources said
government lawyers at the Attorney-General's office on Tuesday told the
police that it would be difficult to prosecute the cases because of the RBZ
The lawyers said they would ask officials from the central
bank to explain the nature of the amnesty and how it would relate to the
cases at hand.
Last week mobile telephone service provider Telecel
was fined $375 million by the courts for dealing in foreign currency.
New twist in Paradza case Staff Writer THE trial of
High Court judge Justice Benjamin Paradza by an international tribunal took
an unexpected twist this week when the accused jurist sought a court order to
halt proceedings of the tribunal on grounds that his rights had been
The application threatens the hearing of the case by a
three-member team of Supreme Court judges from Zambia, Tanzania and
Justice Lavender Makoni, who heard the application, yesterday
reserved judgement until today when she will decide whether or not the
tribunal should reconvene. Cited as respondents in Paradza's application are
the three judges, Justice minister Patrick Chanamasa and President
The tribunal, which was sworn in by Mugabe two weeks ago
started work on Monday at the Sheraton Hotel, albeit in camera which
Para-dza's lawyers immediately challe-nged. The lawyers led by Jonathan
Samkange also expressed disquiet over the manner of the appoint-ment of the
tribunal led by Justice Dennis Kamoni Chirwa of Zambia.
two jurists are Justices John Mroso and Isaac Mtambo of Tanzania and Malawi
respectively. Members of the tribunal have agreed to adjourn temporarily
pending the High Court ruling.
Court documents show President Mugabe
originally (February 12) issued the advice that the case should "not be held
in public". However, the Independent heard yesterday that Mugabe has now
amended the advice to ensure the trial is open to the public.
Tuesday Chinamasa told the Independent that "the government had no problem
allowing the case to be opened to the public".
On Monday the defence
lawyers indicated that they wanted to file an application challenging the
constitutionality of the tribunal and the presidential advice. The judge is
also challenging the method used by the state to gather the evidence that the
tribunal was set to use. The state's evidence-in-chief is a transcript of a
taped conversation between Paradza and another High Court judge, Justice
On Tuesday Paradza's lawyers filed papers in a High
Court application seeking to halt the tribunal from hearing the case pending
an application in the Supreme Court where they want to raise constitutional
Paradza's lawyers said corres-pondence between Chinamasa and
the governments of Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania showed that the minister had
exercised the powers of the president in appointing the tribunal, which they
aver was unconstitutional.
He would also like to challenge the
secret recording of the con-versation with Cheda, which he said infringed on
his rights as it was "unconstitutionally obtained".
recording Paradza alle-gedly sought to influence Cheda to make a ruling on
his business partner Russell Labuschagne whose passport had been seized by
the state as part of bail conditions in a murder trial.
alleges that Paradza wanted Cheda to alter Labuschag-ne's bail conditions so
that he could get his passport back and travel to Europe where he was set to
collect hunters for a safari.
Byo's death toll shoots up to 63 Loughty Dube THE
number of people who have succumbed to hunger in Bulawayo has shot up to 63
in the month of March alone.
The new figure is a sharp increase from a
conservative 27 people who died from hunger in February.
Health Services director, Zanele Hwalima, explained that poverty, food
shortages and inability to access nutrients contributed to malnutrition and
the subsequent deaths.
The worst-hit age group are those under four,
where a total of 48 children died due to malnutrition compared to 20 the
According to figures from the City Health department,
a total of five children in the five to 14 age group died of malnutrition
while three people between the 20 to 49 age group also succumbed to
Three adults in the 50 to 59 category also died of
malnutrition while another four elderly people in the 70-plus age group
These are not the first deaths in the city due to malnutrition.
Late last year, 43 people died in Bulawayo while a further 27 deaths were
recorded earlier this year.
The majority of Zimbabweans in rural
areas survive on food handouts from international food agencies while people
in urban areas have been left out of major feeding programmes.
survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee late last
year indicated that a large number of people in the urban areas were in dire
need of food aid.
Milk shortages resurface Shakeman Mugari/ Rodwin
Chirara SEVERE milk shortages that hit the country last year have bounced
back with news that the retail sector has not received the product since last
Retail outlets in Harare have started rationing milk to customers.
A snap survey carried out by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that there is
no milk in most outlets in the city. The few outlets that have the product
have started strict controls on the amount of milk available per
Dairibord, the largest milk processor in the country,
blamed the shortage on erratic supplies from dairy farmers. Total milk output
from dairy farmers has been in decline since the land redistribution exercise
The land reform, which started four years ago, led to a
serious plunge in milk production as farmers went out of business. Dairibord
reported that its milk intake slumped by 31% last year.
chief executive Anthony Mandiwanza attributed the milk shortage to a fall in
supplies from dairy farmers.
"The shortage has nothing to do with the
Dairibord. We are only processors. We are just not getting enough milk from
the suppliers," said Mandiwanza. "Milk production has been drastically
reduced. The volumes of milk we are receiving for processing have gone
"It is important to note that there is a cyclical reduction in
milk supply this time of the year due to calving and the very wet and humid
conditions that affect lactation in the milking herd."
of dairy cows has been reduced by over 50% in the last four years due to
culling which occurred as commercial farmers were pushed off the land. New
farmers who have taken over dairy farms do not have the skills required to
manage dairy herds.
The Agricultural Rural Development Authority
(Arda) has started to move into the milk industry. It has already begun an
evaluation of some dairy farms.
Meanwhile, Dairibord has confirmed
that it is facing viability problems in its export ventures due to the
foreign currency exchange regulations. Mandiwanza said the problems affected
"Every exporter is facing viability problems," he said
"We are getting 25% of our forex at US$1:$824 but we are expected to buy our
imported inputs at the auction rates."
He said industry had
already made representations to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono to address
the plight of the exporters.
Eight political parties demand new constitution Itai
Dzamara EIGHT opposition political parties yesterday submitted a petition
to President Robert Mugabe demanding a new constitution before next
year's general election.
"We demand a homegrown people-driven
democratic constitution as a precondition for the holding of the March 2005
general election in Zimbabwe," the parties said.
The petition was
signed by the National Alliance for Good Governance, the Zimbabwe African
People's Union-Federal Party, Multiracial Open Party Christian Democrats, the
Zimbabwe African National Union, United Parties, Zimbabwe African People's
Union, Democratic Party (DP), and the Movement for Democratic Change
The parties drafted the petition under the auspices of the
political parties liaison committee, which falls under the structures of the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and other civil society
"We state strongly that the amended Lancaster House
currently in force in Zimbabwe, is colonial and
illegitimate. The continued use of this illegitimate foreign constitution by
you and your government is by default and needs to be terminated forthwith,"
the petition to Mugabe said.
"Its use has caused, and is still
causing, untold misery and suffering among the people of
The political parties proposed a roadmap "to a homegrown
people-driven democratic constitution in Zimbabwe by March
The submission of the petition yesterday was seen as a first
step, to be followed by the dissolution of parliament. Public consultation
would follow to gather people's inputs which would culminate in a draft
document. A referendum would then follow before the
Chairman of the political parties' committee Wurayayi Zembe
said they were waiting for Mugabe's response. Zembe said they could not rule
out protest action to pressure Mugabe into constitutional
A Zanu PF-backed draft constitution was rejected by
Zimbabweans at a referendum in February 2000 and was followed by farm
In a televised Independence day interview last year,
Mugabe dismissed calls for constitutional change citing the rejection of his
government's draft in 2000 as evidence that the issue was not among the
Debate has dominated the political scene over
whether opposition parties should contest next year's election under current
electoral laws. Differences have emerged among opposition parties and civil
society with some calling for electoral amendments whilst others demand a
The MDC leadership is also divided over
participating in elections under the current framework. The dilemma has been
worsened by its defeat in the recent Zengeza by-election marred by violence
Govt grabs 49 Hippo Valley properties Augustine
Mukaro FORTY-NINE properties that form part of the Hippo Valley Estates have
been listed for compulsory acquisition as government begins to put into force
its latest amendments to the Land Acquisition Act.
notice for compulsory acquisition published by the Herald on Wednesday placed
the 49 individual properties under Section 5. The properties constitute about
24 838 hectares of the 60 165 hectares which make up the Hippo Valley
The original Hippo Valley Estates agreement was drawn up in
1964 between the Rhodesian government and Sir Raymond Stockil representing
the company. The government, through a Crown Charter, ceded 70 872 morgen of
land to Hippo Valley to develop an irrigation scheme.
morgen is about 0,85 hectares.
In the agreement, Hippo Valley was to
pay the government £286 425 for 14 321 acres of irrigable land. The Act also
gave the company water rights in the Kyle (now Mutirikwi) and Bangala
Government earlier this year repealed the Hippo Valley Act and
empowered itself to acquire the land and processing infrastructure and
equipment on the farms.
The company is already involved in a
dispute between resettled A2 farmers and commercial farmers over payment for
the sugarcane delivered to its mill.
Both parties are claiming ownership
of the sugarcane resulting in the company instituting interpleader
proceedings in the High Court.
The company is currently depositing
proceeds for the disputed sugar at the High Court.
Police hunt Zvakwana Itai Dzamara POLICE have
launched a massive hunt to locate Zvakwana, a pro-democracy group that is
calling for the removal from power of President Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe
Independent heard this week.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvu-dzijena yesterday
said they were worried about the activities of Zvakwana.
speak about the hunt for them off hand. I will have to confirm," said
"These people (Zvakwana), whoever they are, have been
hiding and spreading material and literature aimed at inciting members of the
public to lawlessness. We would be interested in talking to
Sources revealed that a team of senior investigators from the
Criminal Investigation Department's Law and Order section was assigned to
track down Zvakwana in January.
The team has however failed to
establish the whereabouts of the group despite having raided opposition party
offices as well as interrogating civil society members.
been political pressure on the investigating team to produce results, sources
Zvakwana last month released a 14-track music CD with songs
critical of Mugabe and his government.
Police raided Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and National Constitutional Assembly offices in
Harare and Bulawayo in February in the hope of tracing the group's
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi yesterday said his party was
not linked to Zvakwana but supported its calls for political
"We are not linked to Zvakwana. But to the extent that the
group fights for political change, democracy and human rights, we share the
same values and we support its efforts," Nyathi said.
raided our offices hunting for Zvakwana because they believe that any group
that advocates change and democracy is linked to the MDC."
or Sokwanele, meaning "it's enough" in Shona and Ndebele respectively, has
been distributing pamphlets across the country with anti-Mugabe messages.
Graffiti such as "Mugabe Zvakwana - It's Enough" or "Zvakwana to human rights
abuses" now dominate bus termini and walls in towns and cities.
Zvakwana monthly news-letter circulates in Zimbabwe inaddition to a website
Moyo challenged to take paternity test Staff
Writer WOMEN'S organisations and human rights groups have deplored the arrest
of a woman who claims she had a son with Information minister Jonathan Moyo
and have challenged the minister to take a paternity test to prove that he
was not the real father of the child.
The civic groups this week
challenged Moyo to go for a DNA test that would prove whether he is the
father or not of the 22-year old man, Ntuthuko Mwendini, who a Kadoma woman,
Irene Ali, claims was fathered by Moyo in the early 1980s.
has denied the claim pointing out he was in the United States at
The civic groups accused the police of overzealousness
and of being used to advance the interests of Moyo in a case where recognised
channels of solving the matter were available.
"The police had no
right to arrest the woman and the question that needs to be answered is would
this woman have been arrested if the man involved was not a minister?" said
Qonda Moyo, Co-ordinator of the Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe
She said the minister should have been asked to take a
paternity test that would prove he was not the father of the
"Even if the test proved that Moyo was not the father of the
child, I do not see under which laws the woman could have been arrested,"
said Qonda Moyo. "What Moyo can only do in those circumstances is to sue for
defamation if he feels that the allegations raised have injured his
reputation," she said.
Ali was arrested on Saturday and is facing
charges of criminal defamation arising from allegations she made against
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights executive director Arnold
Tsunga said police jumped the gun on the matter.
jumped the gun by arresting the woman and this sends a wrong message to the
community," he said. "What the police have done says you cannot make such
claims against ministers and powerful politicians and we are saying that is
Tourism industry remains subdued Staff
Writers DESPITE the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)'s claim this week that
tourist arrivals have increased, hotel occupancies, one of the major
indicators of tourist arrivals, have remained largely
Figures from Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) and Zimsun Leisure,
two of the country's leading hotel groups, show that the tourism industry
Zimsun Leisure chief executive officer, Shingi
Munyeza, said occupancies had remained depressed at around 41% in most of the
hotels over the past two years.
"They have not improved (hotel
occupancies), contrary to some statistics we are getting," said
"The data capturing technique is just not right. That is why
we as an industry donated computers to the immigration department. We want to
improve the statistical generation method."
RTG said although
business was getting better in their city hotels, occupancies in the resort
hotels had remained static. Occupancies at RTG resort hotels are currently at
30% while city hotels have a 60% rate.
This is in stark contrast to
the ZTA figures released last week indicating that the ailing tourism sector
was on a recovery path.
The numbers from the hotels have thrown into
doubt the ZTA's figures, which show a marked rise in tourist arrivals in the
ZTA was quoted in the state media as saying tourist arrivals
in Zimbabwe had increased to 2,2 million last year from 2,041 million in
ZTA chief executive Tichaona Jokonya said he could not comment
as he was in a meeting.
Councillors bribed to resign claims MDC Munyaradzi
Wasosa THE Movement for Democratic Change has accused the ruling Zanu PF
of offering opposition councillors in urban areas "huge bribes" to induce
them to resign, the Zimbabwe Independent has been told.
In a statement
last week, the opposition party said Zanu PF was bribing its councillors so
they would resign from the party.
"The MDC has established as fact
that the Zanu PF regime has put in place packages that include housing stands
and cash amounting to as much as $10 million each in an effort to bribe MDC
councillors to resign from the party," said the statement signed by MDC
spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi.
In an interview with the Independent,
the MDC's secretary for local government, Jobert Mudzumwe, who is
investigating the matter, said Zanu PF wanted to discredit his party before
next year's general elections.
"This is clearly Zanu PF 's strategy to
tarnish the image of the MDC ahead of the 2005 elections so that the urban
electorate votes against the party," he said.
The MDC claims to
have "irrefutable evidence" that some of its councillors have received
"We have irrefutable evidence that some councillors are now
on Zanu PF's payroll," Mudzumwe said. "We cannot reveal the names of the
corrupt councillors because it will jeopardise on going
However, the MDC has to date not provided any of the
"irrefutable evidence" it claims to possess.
It claims bribery of
its councillors has spread to the MDC-led Kariba and Gweru town
"Zanu PF, through a CIO agent whose name we have, offered
to pay a monthly income of $400 000 and in addition pledged to pay rent and
other service charges to one of our councillors (name supplied) in Kariba,"
The councillors do not get a salary but receive
monthly allowances which the MDC says have made some of them get "tempted to
Harare city councillors are given monthly allowances of
$70 000, Kariba councillors get $10 000 while Gweru councillors get a paltry
$6 000 a month.
The MDC criticised Local Government minister Ignatius
Chombo for refusing to approve an increase in the councillors'
"As long as Chombo does not review the councillors'
allowances, they will remain vulnerable to bribes, which suits the regime
well," Mudzumwe said.
Chombo could not be reached for
The MDC has lost three councillors in the past few weeks.
Tapfumaneyi Jaja (Ward 38, Kuwadzana), Grandmore Hakata (Ward 4, Mbare), and
the controversial deputy mayor, Sekesai Makwavarara (Ward 21, Mabvuku) have
quit the party and are now serving the Harare City Council as
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira
could not be reached for comment as he was said by his secretary to be out of
Govt to move settlers from game parks Augustine
Mukaro ENVIRONMENT minister Francis Nhema has reaffirmed his ministry's
position that people should not be resettled in game parks.
to questions in parliament last week, Nhema said government held a
stakeholders' workshop where a lot of suggestions were made on how best
to run conservancies or private land where animals are kept.
document titled "Wildlife-based Land Reform Policy" produced by
the government states that the government would like to take control of
all private game farms. However, in parliament last week Nhema said his
ministry was yet to come up with a policy document.
government would soon evict all people who occupied national parks and
"The policy of government is that there is no
resettlement in either national parks or conservancies," Nhema
Responding to a question from Edwin Mushoriwa (MDC) on what the
government was doing about the Chitsa people who had settled in Gonarezhou
National Park, Nhema said they would be resettled.
leadership is working with the Chitsa people including any other people that
might have moved into Gonarezhou with a view of resettling them where we
think it is appropriate and not in the national parks."
people invaded Gonarezhou at the peak of fast-track land reform and have
since destroyed an estimated 20 kilometres stretch of game fence. The people
have apparently received support from senior government officials in the
area. Their activities threaten the Gonarezhou-Gaza-Kruger Transfrontier
Nhema's comments come at a time when an estimated 85% of
Zimbabwe's registered game farmers have been forced off their properties
since the inception of the chaotic land reform programme four years
An Action Forum lobbying to resist government plans to
natitionalise all wildlife and game ranches said the land reform programme,
which kicked off with violent farm invasions in the year 2000, saw an
estimated 90 registered game farmers being reduced to around
"Most of the game farmers were forced to leave their farms to
pave way for mostly the ruling party leadership," one of the farmers said
The Commercial Far-mers Union has been forced to close its
wildlife division as all its members were forced off their
"The person who was in charge of our wildlife production
section has since left the country," a CFU official said. "Virtually all
members in wildlife production have been affected by the land invasions and
have found it difficult to operate."
The farmers said the chaotic
land reform programme has resulted in an estimated 90% of the animals in
privately owned ranches being lost to poachers. The newly resettled farmers
re-sorted to poaching to supplement their food when they failed to produce
One of the farmers who spoke to the Independent said
government had already started visiting provinces to correct the serious
damages caused by the invasions.
"Last weekend a group of MPs
together with Special Affairs minister responsible for land reform John Nkomo
were in Chiredzi to access the damage," one of the farmers said.
Zanu PF's firms under spotlight Dumisani Muleya THE
current probe of Zanu PF's business empire is expected to lift the veil of
secrecy over the party's murky corporate affairs.
A report published in
2000 by South Africa's Helen Suzman Foundation says Zanu PF has over the
years not only become a strong political party but also a vast conglomerate
controlling a chain of companies.
However, the ruling party's
business activities have been as opaque and controversial as its dictatorial
rule has been repressive, the report says.
It points out that Zanu PF
has never produced audited books for the past 20 years, except for one
announcement in 1992 to the effect that its assets then were worth $486
It says the men at the heart of the Zanu PF business empire
have been the party's current secretary for administration and Speaker of
Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa and Defence minister Sydney
Mnangagwa in particular is identified as the key figure in
the party's business concerns. The report says he wielded influence as
chairman of M&S Syndicate until the end of 1990.
It also says
he was a director of Oporto Investments, Galant Distribution, Galhold
Investments, Treasure Holdings and National Blankets.
The report says
as treasurer of the party, Mnangagwa is said to have enjoyed considerable
influence over other Zanu PF firms that include Zidco Holdings, Treger
Holdings, Ottawa (a property management firm), Catercraft,
Zidlee Enterprises, and First Banking Corporation.
The report also
says the key figures in Zidco included members of the Joshi family. The
Joshis, who reportedly fled the country last week after Zanu PF announced an
investigation into its own companies' finances, were said to have been
brought into the party's business network over 23 years ago.
says they were given a free rein to run Zanu PF businesses together with
Mnangagwa because they had supported the ruling party in the struggle for
Independence during the 1970s.
The report says Jayan Joshi gave Zanu
PF financial assistance and scholarships to Britain from the guerrilla camps
"After Independence (then Prime Minister Robert)
Mugabe invited Jayan and his brother Manoo to run Zidco," the report says.
"Through their offices Rambhai Patel, a Kenyan Asian who now lives near
Chislehurst in Kent, put up the equity capital for Zidco, of which he still
The report says Patel owned the London-based Unicorn
Export-Import which has shares in Zidco.
In 1984 he visited
Zimbabwe and made a US$50 000 contribution to Zanu PF funds, the report says.
Jayan Joshi's daughter Heena is a close friend of the president's wife,
Grace, and sits on the board of Grace's pet charity, the Children's
Rehabilitation Trust, the report says.
Having played a key role
during the construction of the Harare International Airport, a project
plagued by controversy, Heena left to join Oryx Diamonds.
This firm was
formed in 2000 after Oryx Natural Resources bought Petra Diamonds and
re-named it Oryx Diamonds - in which Zidco holds 237 000 shares, according to
Efforts to contact Mnangagwa for comment this week were
The government press announced on April 1 that Zanu PF's
politburo had set up a high-powered committee headed by the party's secretary
for finance David Karimanzira to take stock of the party's portfolio of
companies, investigate their financial operations, directorships,
shareholding structures, business performance and benefits.
work of the committee is likely to spill beyond Zimbabwe's borders as some of
the companies are said to be international and registered elsewhere," the
official press said, pointing out that the move came against the background
of a shake-up in the financial sector "in which a number of companies had
been found on the wrong side of the law."
Youth training centres slammed Augustine
Mukaro/Shakeman Mugari THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Gender
and Employment Creation has slammed living conditions at national youth
training centres which they describe as a health hazard.
its report to parliament last week, the committee said it found the living
conditions of the trainees deplorable, especially at Guyu Training Centre
The committee visited three training centres - Border
Gezi in Mt Darwin, Mushagashe in Masvingo, and Guyu.
The tour was
prompted by allegations made by the Panorama documentary made by Britain's
The report revealed that the trainees at all government-run
youth training centres were living in squalor.
conditions of trainees leave a lot to desired, especially at Guyu," the
"The committee found that the trainees had no training
kit or uniform. The diet of the trainees does not reflect a balanced diet as
there is no variety and in some cases, the amounts are
The committee also said that there were problems with
the provision of clean water and the girls were not adequately provided for
in terms of sanitary wear.
"The water for Guyu is a cause for
concern to your committee. The drinking water is from a dam and is stored in
a reservoir tank. The water needs to be boiled first before use and the
trainees indicated doubt as to whether the water is fit for human
consumption," the report said.
The committee was distressed with the
conditions at Guyu Training Centre where the barracks did not even have
"The roof on one of the male dormitories was blown off by
wind, and it has not been repaired. Your committee toured the toilets and
found them very dirty and a health hazard to the trainees," the report
During the tour it was also discovered that the curriculum was
a mere duplication of the vocational training centres and there were no
uniform qualifications for the lecturers.
One of the committee
members, Evelyn Masaiti (MDC), blasted the programme as one designed for the
poor, used to oppress people and a tool to force loyalty to the
"Let me say the principle of national youth service is a noble
idea in countries where there is democracy, for example, in Switzerland,"
"However, here in Zimbabwe the way it is used is
that of oppressing people."
The committee could not find enough
information to dismiss allegations made by the BBC Panorama documentary of
sexual abuse of girls and the high prevalence of STD and HIV in the
"I would like to inform the august House that it was
difficult for us as a committee to get the truth because by the time we got
to the training centres it was only a month after enrolment of the students,
so it was difficult to ascertain the allegations," Masaiti said.
OF all social-movement tactics, the most successful and powerful
is mass organisation. Not only does it improve the chances for accomplishment
but also it multiplies success by the number of participants. Large
movements grow most easily where large sectors of the population feel an
identical, pressing need.
The current debate within the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change on whether or not to contest the 2005 general
election under the current electoral law brings into focus the role of civic
society to mobilise and debate a subject of key national
There have been complaints from the MDC leadership that the
general public and other social players believe that the push for democratic
electoral reform is an agenda for the party, hence they have sat back
while politicians have their say.
Groups led by the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (ZESN) last month came up with a draft electoral law bill,
which encompasses the 15 MDC demands. The MDC wants Zimbabwe's electoral law
to conform to the 2001 Sadc protocol on electoral standards. This would
entail radical amendments to the current Electoral Act, which Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa has ruled out.
ZESN would like to push its
white paper as a private member's bill before the election but this could
turn out to be an exercise in futility as government has already tabled
another bill to effect cosmetic changes to the electoral law.
only takes two days but those are crucial as they determine the fate of the
nation for the next five years and beyond. There is the feeling within the
MDC that it has been let down but on the other hand there are those who
believe that it is the role of the party to cultivate public support for its
Writing in the Independent last year political commentator
Wilbert Mukori said vote-rigging was above party politics. "It was not only
Morgan Tsvangirai who was cheated by Mugabe but the whole nation," said
"It is in the interests of even the most passionate Zanu PF
supporters that Mugabe should not be allowed to rig elections. If the ruled
cannot hold the rulers to account - and elections are the ultimate expression
of democratic accountability - then those rulers are free to do as they
please irrespective of the suffering and death their acts are causing on the
ruled. The MDC should have sought the active participation of civic society,
other political parties, those who voted for them as well as those who voted
for Mugabe," he said.
In an interview with the Independent in
February, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was leaving options open to
either contest the election or drum up popular resistance to the undemocratic
electoral laws. Direct action as an option to force Mugabe into effecting
reform has been tried before and the results were predictable.
tested that route last year in the "final push" but this turned out to be a
huge failure which exposed the enervated political attitude of the populace
wrought by government brutality and intolerance as well as falling living
standards. The MDC's plan was a simple enough call for mass demonstrations.
Armed with the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and spurred by its
history of crushing dissent the government deployed hundreds of police and
party thugs armed to the teeth with instructions to deal with the
This brutal machinery even followed victims to hospitals
to inflict more pain.
Political scientists say direct action creates a
history from which future movements can learn. They also believe that it
demonstrates the power of united action. When successful, it inspires new
movements and encourages authorities into earlier or even preemptive
concessions with civic society.
The Zimbabwean story at the moment is
different, as popular discontent has not translated into judicious
organisational aptitude by civic society to resist unpopular policies. There
have been successes though in the past but this was before the emergence of
the strong political opposition to Mugabe's rule.
For almost two weeks
in mid-1996, a strike by civil servants paralysed the government. Current MDC
leaders Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda, as secretary general and president of
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions respectively, threatened a general
strike in solidarity with the civil service. Nearly 100 000 private sector
workers were involved in strike action in mid-1997, even extending to poor
agricultural workers. Well-organised general strikes and demonstrations in
December 1997 and March and November 1998 won nearly universal worker
In the high-density suburbs, days of rioting over food and
petrol price hikes left several people dead in both January and October
Amidst these events, other political voices rose. In February
1998, university students inspired by their Indonesian counterparts, also
took to the streets, prematurely predicting a Suharto-type endgame for
Mugabe. But there was no semblance between the anti-Suharto marches and local
students' protests, which were centred mainly on the demand for bigger
grants. The general public did not join the marches and protests, which were
crushed by riot police
The further degeneration of the economy and
ill-thought-out political policies gave birth to a cross-class alliance
composed of organised labour, the constrained petit-bourgeoisie, church-based
critics, students, sympathetic business leaders, academics and various other
activists. The alliance, which became the MDC, emerged around issues of
accountability and abuse of public funds. It fuelled a growing sentiment that
after two decades in power, Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF could quite
possibly be voted down in the 2000 general election.
"An uneasy blend
of divergent ideologies might coalesce to (at least) threaten such a feat,
though most likely without an ideology sufficiently influenced by a broader,
deeper constituency of workers and the poor," wrote leftist political
scientist Patrick Bond in 1999. "Nor would it have much prospect of either
denting the state-owned broadcast and daily press monopoly's hackish support
for Mugabe or breaking the apparent lock Zanu PF enjoys on traditional rural
He added: "President Robert Mugabe, after all, has hunkered
down in an extremely defensive mode, replete with the fierce tools of
repression he inherited from white Rhodesia (supplemented during the early
1990s by US military cooperation) and his own brand of opposition-bashing, in
which radical rhetoric (regular, paranoid accusations of counterrevolution,
and even a promise in late 1998 to resurrect "socialism") features but no
longer confuses quite so much."
He was right. Since the disputed 2000
general election won by Zanu PF and the 2002 presidential poll won by Mugabe
unemployment has soared to over 70%, mass retrenchments and joblessness have
increased while an estimated 75% of the population now live below the poverty
line. But this has not spurred any mass mobilisation against President
The deterioration of the economy and the
degeneration of governance have corresponded inversely with the increase in
repression and bigotry by Mugabe 's government. As elections draw closer the
machinery of subjugation and coercion is being oiled to deal with any
Political commentators have also said any mass
action now could be used by Mugabe to obliterate the opposition on the
pretext that it is trying to take over power through unconstitutional
The MDC will find it difficult to rally support for its push for
electoral reform before next year's general election as long as government
uses Posa to stop people from gathering, meeting and organi-sing.
the absence of critical mass, the opposition will have to devise other means
of mobilising its followers but nobody seems able to articulate what these
ZIMBABWE'S economy has been very severely bruised, battered and
beaten over the past seven years. The economic assailants have been many,
including government's destruction of agriculture, rampant inflation
primarily driven by excessive spending by the state, pronounced scarcities of
foreign currency, and numerous other enemies of economic wellbeing. However,
in the last six months, the foremost assailant, clearly bent upon total
economic destruction, has been the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
So vigorous are Zesa's endea-vours, to bring mining,
manufact-uring, horticulture and other economic sectors to their knees, that
notwithstanding that a portion of this column was devoted to recounting some
of Zesa's misdeeds only a few weeks ago, it is necessary to do so yet again,
and in greater detail.
That necessity is detailed partially by the
very parlous situation to which Zesa has reduced its major customers, and in
addition by Zesa's continuing arrogance whereby it fails to extend even the
common courtesy of a response to correspondence. In like manner, it
contemptuously disregards representations by economic representative bodies
such as the Chamber of Mines, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce and others, ignores appeals from entities such
as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and accords the same treatment to
government, despite its supposed accountability to the state.
harsh fact appears to be that Zesa is so determined to concert the magnitude
of its fiscal and operational mismanagement over recent years that it is
resolutely set upon extorting unsustainably great sums from all
major consumers of electricity to fund the vast debts accumulated from what
can only be assumed to be managerial incompetence or profligacy (or
a combination of both!).
The fact that in so doing it is destroying
the very customer base that would be its future support is apparently
irrelevant. So too is the fact that its actions are forcing the cessation of
operations and closure of many enterprises, with consequential massive
creation of unemployment, product shortages, and economic collapse. And Zesa
cannot possibly be oblivious to the catastrophe which it is causing, for
there have been repeated attempts by many to make Zesa aware thereof. But
there are none so deaf as those who will not hear, and Zesa is very evidently
determined not to hear.
That this is so is evidenced by its continuing
actions of withdrawal of services to consumers whose circumstances are
identical to others who have obtained High Court injunctions against Zesa
disconnecting them. That this is so is further evidenced from its disregard
for representatives so high as from the President's Office.
indebted to Ian Saunders, president of the Chamber of Mines, for
some comprehensive research which demonstrates the magnitude of
Zesa's escalations of charges, totally disparate from charges elsewhere in
the region, the consequences thereof, and its unwillingness to
interact constructively with its consumers.
In a letter written by
him, widely distributed to members of the chamber, to government and others,
he drew attention to information received from the Reserve Bank that Zesa had
advised the Foreign Currency Auctions' advisory board that its tariffs were
regionally benchmarked, and that any producer in distress "could come and
talk to Zesa and they would receive a sympathetic hearing".
letter then proceeds to record how false those representations had been. His
very informative letter states that "We understand that Zesa has repeatedly
insisted that the power tariffs that they charge are the same as our regional
partners. They also contend if they did not charge such tariff levels, they
would be non-viable and unable to continue to supply the country with power.
Over five neighbouring countries with which we should be benchmarked, as they
are demographically similar in terms of geography, infrastructure, manpower
skill etc are probably South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and
Botswana." He continues by recording the electricity tariffs for these
countries, based upon a peak-demand of 2 500 kva and a load factor of 80%. In
February 2000 the tariffs (in US cents/kw hour) were 2,2 in South Africa, 2,5
in Namibia, 3,3 in Mozambique, 1,9 in Zambia, and 3,5 in Botswana, yielding a
regional average of 2,7. Zimbabwe then compared favourably with that average,
with a tariff of 2,3, and with the third lowest tariff in the region, well
below the average, Zesa attained a pre-tax profit of Z$723
However, by April 2003 the situation had changed markedly,
insofar as Zesa was concerned. With four of the five regional tariffs having
declined, and the regional average having fallen sharply, Zesa's tariff
virtually doubled. At April 2003 the comparable tariffs were 1,7 in South
Africa, 1,8 in Namibia, 2,1 in Mozambique, 2,2 in Zambia and 2,6 in Botswana.
The regional average was 2,1. In contrast, as of February 2004, Zesa's
comparable tariff was 4,5, or more than twice the regional average. It is
incontrovertible, therefore, that there is no substance to Zesa's contentions
that its tariffs are regionally benchmarked. Nothing could be further from
Saunders comments: "Zesa is not setting its current tariff
ratings based on the average regional charges for a similar consumption in a
particular industry. This unreasonably high tariff that Zesa is now charging
is having a material and damaging effect on the short, medium and long-term
viability of our industry in particular, and all consumers of power in
Zimbabwe in general."
He continues by querying: "If Zesa was able to
make a profit in the year 2000, based on an average tariff rating of
USc3,21/kwh. why now does it require USc4,5/kwh? He suggests that as Zesa has
substantially restructured over the last four years, in preparation for
privatisation, it should be more cost-effective than in 2000, and therefore
"should be able to make more profit at the same tariff rating, or should be
able to reduce the tariff ratings to make the same profit."
states that: "We believe that the cost of imported power, as of April last
year was... (a weighted cost average) of USc2,6/kwh - some 42% lower than the
USc4,5/kwh Zesa is claiming they require to maintain viability. In Zesa's
discussions with the (mining) industry, they indicated that we could not use
South African tariffs to determine where Zimbabwe should be as. the SA
electrical system is also relatively well developed and maintained, resulting
in lower cost of supply."
Such a justification for higher Zimbabwean
tariffs is blatantly fallacious for, on the one hand, the Zimbabwean tariffs
are not only markedly higher than South Africa's, but are also very
considerably higher than those of all other countries in the region. And, on
the other hand, using such an argument or justification is an outright
admission that the Zimbabwean electricity supply system is not well developed
and maintained. Whose fault is that? It can only be the fault of Zesa, but it
is the economy which is being forced to bear the brunt of Zesa's impliedly
At the end of his letter, Saunders highlights
the impacts of Zesa's horrendous charges upon the mining industry (and the
same is applicable to most other economic sectors). He says: "The continued
survival and indeed growth of the industry require the continued access to
relatively low cost power. The cost should at the very most be equal to what
our regional neighbours are paying. Not the current, almost double rates we
are being hampered with. If we do not have this, the industry will not be
able to contribute fully to the economic recovery we are all currently
working towards. If our power costs are not rationalised soon our industry
will continue to falter, whilst our neighbours will see investment and
growth within their industry."
Zesa needs to be held accountable for
the destruction it is inflicting upon much of the economy. It needs to be
held accountable for a near-doubling of tariffs, in US dollar terms (which
substantially compensate for inflation), whilst ceasing to generate profits
previously achieved, lowering its service, and dispensing with any sense
whatsoever of "customer care". It needs to be held accountable for its
disdainful dismissal of all representations, for it's jeopardising the
wellbeing and health of thousands of the population, and for its indisputable
abuse of its monopoly.
Muckraker is surprised at the interest the Herald has
taken in fighting what on the surface looks like a personal problem for
Professor Jonathan Moyo. On April 3 the paper ran a front-page story headed
"Knives out for Prof Moyo" in which it was claimed there were "some
detractors" trying to "soil" Moyo's name ahead of the parliamentary election
next year. There was a "smear campaign" by politicians who did not want Moyo
to win the Tsholotsho constituency, the paper claimed.
could these "detractors" have done to warrant all this attention, readers
must have wondered? They had found an "illegitimate child" for the
professor, it transpired.
In typical empty-headed fashion, the
Herald was quick to find "political analysts" who specialise in
"illegitimate" children to comment on the discovery of what these
"detractors" claimed was Moyo's 22-year-old son, one Isaac Ntuthuko
"Political analysts say this is part of a spirited attempt
to derail Professor Moyo's campaign in Tsholotsho," the Herald helpfully
explained to its readers.
The comments stem from the mere fact
that somebody had helped the young man travel to Moyo's rural home in
Tsholotsho. It is not obvious how this private matter turned out to be a
campaign strategy to elicit the comment of any self-respecting political
analyst. Whether Moyo is the father or not remains a family matter. At the
very most, this can only be a civil case between Moyo and the woman making
When he was contacted for comment, Moyo had a good
"The time they are talking about (when the child was
conceived) I was in America. They should go to Los Angeles and come up with
some woman who will claim that I fathered her child, not Silobela or any part
of Zimbabwe," he said. "They must find a barrack near
How this became Las Vegas in the Sunday Mirror's
Behind the Words column we are not sure. But the story has certainly
Perhaps Tazzen Mandizvidza could tell us the "story
behind the story". And why is the Herald angry on Jonathan Moyo's behalf?
Indeed, why was the nation's police force mobilised on the minister's behalf
with Wayne Bvudzijena saying criminal defamation charges were being
considered against the boy's mother. Do the circumstances warrant any of this
and will other candidates confronted with spurious reports about them be
afforded the front page of the Herald to rebut them?
intrigued us most was the Herald's claim that this was "the latest stunt in a
chain of smear campaigns against Prof Moyo" with "some politicians" cooking
up the latest.
Why are we not told the identity of these
"politicians"? And what previous "stunts" have there been? The Herald didn't
President Mugabe was in a confident mood when he
addressed the Zanu PF Central Committee last Friday.
now fear elections and are giving all sorts of lame excuses for boycotting
elections. We dare them. Boycott or no boycott, well you are ripe for burial
and we will put you to eternal sleep in March next year.," he declared
What shocked Muckraker of course was that Mugabe was not
reported as condemning the violence that claimed one life in the
constituency. While he was talking about burying the MDC, the Chinozvina
family was still preparing to bury their son, Francis, a victim of the
violence that accompanied the Zengeza election. Francis was buried at
Granville cemetery on Sunday.
In a graveside address, MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said he was saddened that people were being killed because
of power. "The culture we now have in the country where a black brother is
now killing another brother just because of political power is a sad
situation," said Tsvangirai. "We wonder what lessons our youngsters will
learn when people are just being killed because of power."
a serious indictment of our politics that Zanu PF spokesmen, writing in the
Herald, can blithely claim that "violence in such highly contested elections
The Prince Edward geography teacher Caesar
Zvayi would do well to stick to what he knows. In Monday's Herald he claimed
people were "subscribing to Zanu PF policies". Apart from violence and
intimidation, he didn't say what those policies were.
spokesmen like Zvayi, elated that their Apostolic Faith voters and "assisted"
youths managed to fix things for them in Zengeza, now claim that "at this
rate" Zanu PF is bound to score a "landslide victory" in next year's general
"Analysts point out," Zvayi suggested, "that the 2005
polls will prove to be the Waterloo of the opposition which has managed to
retain seats in only one city, Harare, where the electorate is notorious for
politics of the stomach".
Significantly no analysts could be
found to point out any such thing. And describing voters who you seek to
attract as "notorious" is not a good electoral ploy, Zvayi should be
Zanu PF's claim that voters should not be influenced by
hunger is an extraordinary one. Should they not judge governments by their
capacity to create conditions for economic growth and employment? Why is this
assumed to be an unacceptable dimension to electoral politics when the world
over people vote according to whether governments have raised or diminished
their standard of living?
If the voters of Harare find Zanu PF
to be tall on promises but short on delivery, are they not allowed to express
their dissatisfaction? Perhaps Zvayi, who is evidently easily persuaded of
many things, seriously believes that voters can eat sovereignty!
Meanwhile, we all have a clear record of why Zanu PF won the
Zengeza by-election. MDC supporters might have been angered by the
alleged imposition of a candidate by the leadership. But why did Zanu PF
deploy its youths near polling stations? Why were they taking down the names
of voters? Why did we discover a free medical centre just before the
Why are the likes of Zvayi not keen to talk about the
shooting incident at the home of MDC candidate James Makore in which one
person was killed and two others injured? It took up to Monday this week for
the police to find a suspect.
Brickbats are flying dangerously
between Ibbo Mandaza's office and that of the Information department. It's
all about the Daily Mirror exposing delinquent cabinet ministers who don't
attend parliament to answer legitimate questions about government
The Department of Information felt it was impertinent for
the paper to chide ministers for truancy. The Information department claimed
the Mirror story was full of distortions and misleading assertions. They were
sent a statement, perhaps to make them quail in their boots and run it in
full as an apology.
Muckraker is happy that the Mirror stood its
ground against a haughty and almost imperial department that claims to know
everything simply because it makes ZTV reread its nauseating tirades without
The Mirror responded to the department's bullying with a
resounding smack on the nose: "Why should party meetings compromise
parliamentary business which is more national in scope anyway?" retorted the
Mirror through its Behind the Words column.
"We find the
department's attempt to seize the exclusive right to define the parameters of
'professional' and 'acceptable' journalism quite disturbing. May we remind
the department that it is not the final authority on journalism, nor is it
the exclusive bastion of defence for the national interest in this country.
There are many other factors and its failure to recognise and accept this is
quite unfortunate. We will therefore not be proscribed into a little circle
of 'acceptable' journalism by the department, and let that be clearly
The message was long overdue.
the Sunday Mail reported what it called a scam involving looting of farm
equipment and abuse of tractors across the country by civil servants and
politicians. It said equipment being looted from farms, instead of being
surrendered to government, was being converted to own use by corrupt
politicians and civil servants using fake documents.
instinctive response was almost to say "but haven't we been saying the same
thing"? Along with the grabbing of productive farms went the looting of
property from cattle to tractors and irrigation equipment to force farmers
off their land. But more than that, it was reported that there were greedy
Zanu PF politicians conniving with civil servants and taking more farms than
even the party itself could tolerate.
When this was reported the
rehearsed response was always "they want to derail the land reform". So long
as one repeated that mantra and chanted a Zanu PF slogan, it was open season.
That was how corruption was allowed to ravage the War Victims Compensation
Fund and the Pay for Your Home Scheme.
Have those who stole more
than one farm during the fast track land grab returned them despite all the
noise about fighting corruption? Why are so-called "top politicians" involved
in gold scandals being protected if the anti-corruption jihad is not meant as
selective punishment for wayward small fish? As both the Herald and ZTV have
repeatedly reported, illegal gold panning has caused serious damage to
schools, homes and the railway line in Kwekwe. Would this be possible without
the involvement of these "top politicians", whatever top means?
Has Zanu PF finally severed its umbilical ties to the Joshi family? Despite
talk about indigenisation and the fight to have locals assume leadership in
foreign-owned companies, we are surprised Zanu PF would have none of that.
Almost 24 years into Independence, it now emerges that the leading Zanu PF
holding firm, Zidco, was still headed by Jayant Joshi whom the Herald now
tells us didn't even have a Zimbabwean passport.
It was announced
last week that the party's politburo had decided to take full stock of its
business empire, "investigate its financial operations, directorships,
shareholding structures and benefits to the party in the last five years".
That reportedly alarmed the low-profile managing director of Zidco Jayant
Joshi who quickly boarded the next plane to the UK. Which is to say nothing
of substance will come out of the investigations now that slippery Joshi has
According to the Sunday Mirror, the only other person who
knows anything about the benighted Zanu PF corporate empire is the
party's secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa. Let the game
Joke of the week? Tafataona Mahoso calling somebody else
In his rambling weekly column in the Sunday Mail he
reverted to an evidently sore point. The reception he got last year when he
appeared on ZTV's US/UK Invasion of Iraq. MDC activists called the programme,
Mahoso complained, to "make arguments which demonstrated their belief that
they were progressive merely because they had abandoned and even
criminalised African nationalism".
Imperialism wasn't the enemy,
the callers were reported to have said. It was "only a Zanu PF conspiracy and
invention meant to detract (sic) citizens of Zimbabwe from daily
These are no doubt the people Mahoso regards as "born
senile" because they declined to swallow the redundant effluent he churns
"African stooge movements are born senile because they must
also live in denial," he charged. His evidence for "the reality of
imperialism"? The arrest of the 70 mercenaries. The role of ZDI was of course
nowhere to be found in this shallow analysis.
It's just as well
he didn't invite us to identify any other stooges - such as those
regurgitating the state's threadbare propaganda when called upon to do so,
busy attributing to "imperialism" the evidence of economic and social
devastation all around them!
yesterday that government was now moving in on the country's
largest financial institution, Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe, accusing it of
dealing in foreign currency, will provide another shock to the already
From the look of things every bank and business
which has been involved in the country's economic life over the past few
years could be dragged before the courts soon.
Holdings and Interfin are also due to appear in court accused of trading on
the parallel market. This comes despite an amnesty offered to banks by the
Reserve Bank in January.
Others already named for allegedly breaching the
Exchange Control Act include NMB Holdings whose directors Julius Makoni,
James Mushore, Otto Chekeche and Francis Zimuto skipped the country before
they could be interviewed.
Last week, however, prominent lawyer and
former Minister of Justice Advocate Chris Andersen raised some interesting
points when he told a court, while defending Telecel Zimbabwe, that it should
take into account the circumstances which led the company into dealing on the
He pointed out that the current situation in Zimbabwe
had been caused by the state which until recently had cast a blind eye to the
parallel market and also benefited heavily through revenue which was being
paid by Telecel monthly.
"The state benefited by the sum of $24
billion and after this is now asking for a mandatory sentence to be imposed.
How can this be justified?" Andersen asked.
He submitted that
Telecel's dealings on the parallel market were entered into because of
Zesa, Air Zimbabwe, Noczim, and even the Reserve Bank had been
obtaining hard currency on the parallel market, Andersen pointed out. People
would have lost their jobs and there would have been all sorts of problems in
the business sector if companies had not obtained foreign currency from
the parallel market.
Andersen asked the court how it could be moral to
impose a mandatory sentence on Telecel while Zesa, Noczim and other companies
in both the private and public sectors were not being prosecuted?
has denied any involvement in such transactions.
It is common cause that
for the past three years Zimbabwe has faced an acute foreign currency
shortage. The country's balance-of-payments position has remained precarious
largely as a result of poor export performance coupled with the absence of
external capital inflows.
Exports of goods and services are estimated to
have fallen by 3,9% from US$1, 6 million in 2002 to US$1,5 million in
The capital account deficit is estimated to have declined from
US$345 million in 2002 to US$309 million in 2003.
background of the weak balance-of-payments position, gross official foreign
currency reserves for 2003 are estimated at US$175 million, which represent
approximately one month of imports, while usable reserves were much lower at
just under US$40 million.
Zimbabwe now has a very poor credit rating so
companies are finding it extremely difficult to source foreign currency for
imports. Many have resorted to keeping their earnings in offshore accounts so
that whenever they need spares they simply utilise these funds.
RBZ's new monetary policy statement in December however
introduced significant changes in the foreign currency market.
ushered in the new offence now known as "externalisation".
Control Act lays down as a mandatory penalty a fine equivalent to the
currency involved unless the court finds special circumstances.
the period of drought the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was allowed to import
grain from neighbouring South Africa using parallel market rates.
the fuel crisis the cash-strapped Noczim also benefited from parallel market
rates as fuel was secured using those rates. The country would have ground to
a halt had it not done so.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon
Gono must be aware of the parallel market deals at Noczim because he was at
the centre of fuel negotiations. Andersen cited the RBZ itself as having been
a major player on the parallel market.
NRZ, Air Zimbabwe and Zupco are
no strangers to the parallel market either.
While we don't doubt that
many deals on the parallel market enriched individuals making them, it would
be instructive to calculate how the country would have survived in its daily
needs without these deals.
As Andersen remarked of Telecel: "Even though
they dealt on the parallel market they did not willfully do so. They did it
because of the situation that was prevailing."
He made the point that
there would have been company closures and that people would have lost their
jobs. That is happening now that companies cannot access external funds
without the axe of state retribution hanging over them. We can expect to see
new shortages and the black market those shortages will
Meanwhile, so long as there is a failure to acknowledge
government's role in encouraging state companies to survive as best they
could, on whatever market they could find, in the first three years of this
decade and allowing the private sector to do the same, the current purge will
appear unfair and even vindictive.
That is not calculated to restore
confidence in the country's financial sector.
Judicial system under siege By Beatrice
Mtetwa Judicial system under siege By Beatrice Mtetwa I READ Alex
Magaisa's excellent article in the March 12 businessdigest on the effect of
manifestly unconstitutional laws being used to deal with persons who are
alleged to be economic saboteurs and I agree that such laws should not be
selectively used to instill good corporate governance.
think he left out one of the crucial reasons why the majority of people who
are suspects will feel anxiety about being subjected to the legal system as
I believe that one of the main reasons why
suspects are reluctant to subject themselves to the country's legal system is
the perception that they won't get a fair trial. The operations of the
judiciary have been compromised in a number of respects in the past four or
so years to an extent where basic administrative rules have been changed
without the formal rules of court being amended. This includes the process by
which cases are allocated.
The control of the judicial process by a
few has affected such mundane things as the entry into the High Court
building after normal court hours. Lawyers and court staff are no longer
allowed to enter the High Court building when bringing urgent applications
after hours unless they have been cleared by the President's
A colleague and I recently had to spend hours sitting outside
the High Court building whilst awaiting clearance from the President's Office
and the arrival of a clerk who was to issue and stamp the papers that we
were bringing in an urgent application. When the clerk finally arrived
that Saturday morning, he was equally not allowed into the court building and
was instead taken across the road to the President's Office for
No one knows what such "clearance" consists of. Does it
include being told which judge to call for the particular case? Does it
include instructions to pretend that no judge can be found?
equally difficult to understand why a duly registered legal practitioner, who
holds a valid practising certificate, must be "cleared" by the President's
Office each time he or she brings an urgent application outside court hours.
This is particularly so as none of the laws relating to the administration of
justice fall under the President's Office. It is therefore generally
perceived, rightly or wrongly, that these "clearances" are meant to influence
the choice of judge in the particular case, and that such influence may have
a bearing on the result at the end of the day.
I believe that all of
these elaborate rules have been introduced to interfere with the judiciary's
right to fairly and impartially discharge the functions of an independent
judiciary. It is in such light that the actions of those suspects who have
taken flight must be considered. I have no doubt that regulations such as the
ones under which James Makamba was detained, coupled with the judiciary's
apparent reluctance to openly declare them unconstitutional, could influence
a suspect to flee rather than face the uncertain prospect of being shunted
from one court to another without one's basic rights being considered. We
have already seen a Supreme Court judge expressing an opinion that the
regulations are "patently unconstitutional", yet no steps have been taken to
restore the suspect's fundamental right to liberty and freedom of
One would expect that once a Supreme Court judge has
expressed an opinion that the law is patently unconstitutional, the judiciary
would take immediate and urgent steps to ensure that rights that are being
violated under such a law are immediately restored. Indeed, one would also
expect the state to take steps to ensure that persons whose rights have been
taken away under such a law have them restored.
Even where the
courts order the release of accused or detained persons, there is of course
the now all too familiar disregard for court orders. Even before the latest
regulations were gazetted, we all know that court orders are routinely
selectively enforced. The police and prison authorities no longer consider
the courts as final arbiters of basic rights: politicians and the police now
determine which court orders are to be respected and which are to be ignored.
The courts have regrettably shown a reluctance to have those flouting court
orders locked up for contempt.
How many of us would want to submit
ourselves to a system without rules which would result in the accusers
ultimately deciding one's fate and having the final word? Why go through the
charade of a legal process that is unable to enforce its own decisions? If
the policeman who effects the arrest in the first place is the one whose
opinion counts at the end of the day, why go through the pretence of court
I believe that the perception that the courts,
especially the superior courts, are now there largely to rubber stamp
executive decisions, has contributed to the fear that once one is arrested,
he will serve a "sentence" for as long as the authorities want him to remain
in custody. Indeed, the fact of one's arrest is now interpreted as meaning
that the establishment wants you in custody for as long as possible. We have
seen how many of those who were arrested and locked up for long periods of
time without bail hardly ever face trial in the courts at the end of the
It has also become common practice to subject judgements that
are not in favour of the government to vilification by the state media. The
criticism of such judgements is normally directed to the judicial officer in
language that is not only intemperate, but is meant to belittle, humiliate
and intimidate the judicial officer.
There is absolutely nothing
wrong with criticising the reasoning of a court in a particular judgement so
long as this is done in language that is not personalised and is not seeking
to attack the person of the judicial officer.
The attacks and
vilification by the state media are always justified as these being the
opinions of legal "experts" or people who claim to be lawyers but who are at
all times anonymous. If a lawyer believes he is castigating a judgement on
sound legal basis, I have difficulty in understanding why he cannot put his
name to his beliefs and opinions. The perception that the "legal experts"
that are routinely quoted by the state media are in fact politicians
masquerading as lawyers becomes reinforced when such legal experts routinely
give their views not only anonymously, but in a one-sided
But what does the public bashing of judicial officers do, not
only to their confidence, but to their constitutional right to interpret the
laws of the land without fear, favour or being called names in the state
media? There can be no question that the state media bashing of judicial
officers is meant to intimidate them into making judgements that are
favourable to the state.
We saw clear attempts at intimidating
judicial officers in the Administrative Court in the Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe case, and we have once again seen it in the Makamba case where
judicial officers have been castigated for making a decision in favour of the
accused person. What is most unfortunate in the bashing of judicial officers
is the behaviour of government lawyers who immediately don political garb and
make statements that are meant to please the politicians.
judgement is made against the state and the politicians criticise it, the
Attorney-General's office immediately issues statements that it will appeal
against the judgement and it then invokes every other law to ensure that the
suspects remain in custody. These protestations are rarely followed by
appeals that are argued in court, as most of the so-called appeals are not
Whilst one understands that officers in the
Attorney-General's office also operate under difficult conditions
characterised by a lack of independence and fear of the political
consequences, law officers must be reminded that they are officers of the
court who have a duty to represent the rights of all the people of Zimbabwe.
Law officers have as much a duty to secure the liberty of an individual
against whom there is no reasonable suspicion, as the lawyer representing
that individual. Law officers must therefore be encouraged to exercise the
right to have the ultimate say on whether or not a case should be taken to
court, which right they are now perceived to have surrendered to members of
the ZRP and politicians. It is the duty of every law officer to take to court
only those cases that deserve to be taken to court, regardless of political
considerations that might exist. It is equally the duty of every law officer
to ensure that state officials comply with court orders, even if the
politicians do not like such court orders.
On March 10, one of the
state newspapers carried a most scurrilous attack on judges alleging that
they are corrupt and that they are taking bribes from members of the public.
Despite the article being factually baseless, no one has pointed out that no
judge has been convicted of a crime of corruption and that no judge is in
fact accused of taking a bribe. The failure to protect the integrity of
judges can only serve to intimidate judicial officers into making judgements
in favour of the state for no other reason than to avoid being publicly
attacked. If there have been any inducements at all, these have arguably been
from government as we have seen judges being allocated farms in circumstances
where it might be perceived, rightly or wrongly, that such allocations are
meant to induce judges to make judgements that are in favour of the
In my view, it is these perceived irregularities and
uncertainties in our legal system that will persuade suspects to leave the
country as the legal system is so compromised as to offer little justice to
members of the public once politicians have determined that a particular
individual must be locked up.
-Beatrice Mtetwa is a practising
lawyer. This article was written in a personal capacity.
Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2004 3:23 PM Subject: Paul
Paul Temba Nyathi is a tall, impressive
man, he was in the Rhodesian war working with Zipra and Zapu in the 70's and
is now in the MDC National Executive. He sits as an MP in the standing
committee on local government and was telling me at a recent MDC Executive
meeting, that he had been in a meeting of the committee in Parliament when
the Civil Servants declared that they were going to open up housing stands
for 2 million families in the next 12 months. Paul thought this was so
ridiculous, he laughed.
As this government has developed less than 30 000
housing units in the urban areas in the past 5 years, his immediate reaction
was perfectly understandable. But underneath this bald statement by the civil
servants is a sinister and stunning intent.
When we examine the
actions of post transition governments in Africa we should never
underestimate the lengths to which they will go to hold onto power. In their
eyes, they fought for that right and they would only relinquish this if they
absolutely have to. Look at Angola and Mozambique. There, the political
minority that effectively controlled the new governments are still in power
30 years on and are now wealthy beyond the imagination of the ordinary people
of those countries. It has worked for them - if no one else and that is what
In Zimbabwe we first saw this when the Mugabe regime decided in
1983 that it could not tolerate the political opposition represented by Zapu.
Zapu was predominately Ndebele and in a no holds barred campaign against them
up to 30 000 people were murdered and hundreds of thousands injured.
Thousands fled the country to South Africa where they are now settled. (This
is thought to be double the casualties that occurred in the 8-year
military struggle against Ian Smith.) Eventually Mugabe got his way - Nkomo
gave in and accepted a minority roll in a unity government. Zapu disappeared
and Mugabe got his "one Party State" for a short while.
Then came the
MDC and for a while the Mugabe regime thought that this was just another
upstart attempt to threaten the status quo and could be dealt with just as
they had in the case of several other earlier attempts to mount an effective
opposition. But the MDC is made of sterner stuff and when Zanu was defeated
in the February 2000 referendum it suddenly appreciated that it had a real
fight on its hands.
Ever since this event, Zanu has thrown everything it
has in its armory at the MDC. It has killed 400 activists - not one of these
murders has been investigated and brought to trial, even when the
perpetrators are known and have been publicly identified. They have closed
down all access to the mass media leaving only a token element of the
independent press for the sake of claiming that they allow press
Democratic space has been progressively restricted until today
it is virtually impossible to win an election run against a Zanu
candidate. Electoral violence is endemic and conducted by State agents with
impunity. The electoral process itself is controlled by the military and is
totally manipulated to produce a desired result. Not a single principle in
the SADC Convention on electoral process is being adhered to.
they discovered that commercial farmers held the middle ground between the
MDC (urban) vote and the Zanu PF (peasant sector) vote, they simply wiped out
the commercial farming industry. This represented half of all exports, 60 per
cent of food supplies and over 65 per cent of all industry and a third of all
employment. It made no difference - the farmers were driven off their land,
their assets confiscated and their staff dispersed so that they could not
vote or influence elections.
Now they are preparing for yet another
electoral challenge - the March 2005 parliamentary elections. In addition to
intensifying all the measures already in place they are now also planning
massive social engineering which will change the face of our urban areas
It first came to my attention when a small team of us from
the MDC visited every MDC controlled town in the country. That is no small
task as we now control (technically at least) 85 per cent of all urban areas.
We found that Zanu was carefully planning an exercise which would involve
taking the commercial farms (now abandoned by and large) on the outskirts of
the main urban areas. On each of these properties they are establishing a
control point and manning this with Youth Militia and War veterans (many are
not real war veterans - this is just a cover for Zanu thugs).
to the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government. Clearly what is intended
is to open up these abandoned farms for illegal, informal squatter camps
which will be made up of stands allocated to homeless urban families. Some 40
per cent of all urban dwellers are homeless - they live in crowded tenements
as lodgers. In many cases living in one room crowded with up to 6 people.
This accommodation is not cheap - people are paying high rentals to landlords
and others. Many of these people are also now unemployed - 500 000 workers
have lost their jobs in the past 5 years.
So to this target population -
some 3 million people, the offer of free vacant land on which to build a
shack and live rent-free is very attractive. But to do so they will have to
join Zanu PF and attend Zanu meetings and vote for Zanu in carefully
controlled elections next year. This will drain out of the urban areas
millions of people who would otherwise vote MDC. Zanu will register all these
new urban settlers on the voter's roll at the same time as they take their
details for the purpose of Zanu PF membership. This will then also give
justification for the massive reduction in genuine urban seats that is being
planned - the Governor of Harare has already intimated his goal is a 50 per
cent reduction in the number of seats in the Harare metropolitan
Far fetched? Not at all - it may be ambitious but we have learned
never to underestimate the people who run Zanu PF. They may not be able to
run a country, but they sure know how to run an election and how to destroy
all vestiges of political opposition in the process - ask any former member
So how do we deal with this situation? This week Mugabe again
stated that he would not talk to the MDC. Ignore his public rationale - he
knows full well that talks will be about creating conditions for free and
fair elections and that would be suicide for Zanu PF.
There are two
ways of achieving change in this situation - someone launches an armed
struggle against Zanu PF - and in the process does even more damage to the
country and its battered economy, or the international and local community
combine forces to engineer a free and fair election.
That would not be
difficult - we all know what is needed, an independent electoral commission,
a free and independent media. A halt to state sponsored violence and a voting
system that will be secret, allow all adult Zimbabweans to vote wherever they
live and a counting system that is transparent and reliable.
outlandish demand? An unachievable goal? Not at all! Why is Zanu so afraid of
such an event? I think it is obvious, they would be buried alive by the
people of this country. The impossible would happen - they would lose power,
privilege and protection. For Zanu, that is no laughing matter, for the rest
of us, it would mark the start of a new beginning and for the majority, a
better life. Then we could all learn to laugh a little again.