Zimbabwe's Opposition Offers New Constitution to
Parliament By Peta Thornycroft Harare 24 August
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has submitted a proposed a new constitution to parliament Wednesday. The
proposed constitution comes as President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF
party is busy amending the present constitution in a way that critics say
will further curtail fundamental freedoms in Zimbabwe.
legislators were taken by surprise Wednesday when the opposition MDC
presented a new and very different constitution to parliament for
The opposition party says the new constitution could be
the basis for a new beginning for Zimbabwe.
MDC spokesman Tendai Biti
said the document presented to parliament was a combination of the best of
two draft constitutions, one prepared by ZANU-PF in 2000 and rejected in a
referendum, and the second written by civil rights groups after years of
countrywide consultations with the people.
He said the suggested
constitution was similar to the most progressive in the region, such those
in force in South Africa and Namibia.
The proposed MDC constitution would
abolish the executive presidency and instead have a prime minister elected
by parliament with limited powers, who would only be allowed to serve two
Under the present constitution, President Mugabe can, and often
does, make laws by decree and he has been in power for more than 25
Mr. Biti said the MDC constitution had a wide bill of rights and
would create oversight bodies such as a human rights commission and another
fully independent body to run elections.
All legislators would have
to be elected. At present Mr. Mugabe appoints 30 legislators in addition to
120 elected to parliament.
Mr. Biti acknowledged the opposition-backed
document presented to parliament has no chance of being adopted now, as the
MDC is the minority party. He said if ZANU-PF were serious about ending the
political and economic crisis it would use this document as a starting
Next week, Mr. Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF intends to finalize
procedures to fast track changes to the present constitution. Those changes
would make it possible for the government to assume ownership of farmland
more quickly, by barring the owner's right to appeal the takover in court
and to confiscate passports from citizens who the government says pose a
threat to national security.
Critics say the ruling party is abusing
all notions of democracy with its rush to make constitutional changes. The
government says the changes are needed and will help complete the Mugabe
government's land reform program.
UNICEF staff members personally help Zimbabweans affected
by evictions 24 August 2005 - In the absence of enough funding to cover the
urgent individual needs of those who have been hard hit by the recent
Zimbabwean Government evictions from housing and businesses, United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF) staff members have appealed to donors to look
beyond the country's politics to the suffering of its children and are
personally giving money to the most vulnerable.
Two months ago the
Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order) campaign left more than 225,000
children homeless, forcing many of them to seek shelter with their families
in "'transit camps," temporary accommodation for homeless people, and
destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of parents and
caregivers, the agency said in a news release.
An informal poll taken in
the UNICEF office in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, found that most employees,
touched by the plight of the children and inspired by the resolve of their
families, have opted to help children out of their own pockets, offering
support for areas ranging from education to health care and career
"Empathy for those we seek to serve is imperative in our
work. Taking that emotion and translating it into financial support is
highly admirable," UNICEF's Representative in Zimbabwe, Festo Kavishe,
Orphaned 9-year-old Edward has become one of the many
beneficiaries. The demolitions forced him and his grandmother to sleep in
the open for six weeks at a camp called Caledonian Farm, far from the school
where she had struggled and sacrificed to send him.
If a child does
not attend school for eight days and the school is not notified, however,
the child's enrolment is cancelled.
A UNICEF staff member who met him and
his grandmother at the camp arranged for him to re-enrol, paid his tuition,
paid for his books and helped Edward's grandmother get back into
"I couldn't afford to do this in my own country, but here I
can. And so I don't expect thanks. . Rather I think it's an honour to be in
a position to help educate a child," said the UNICEF staffer, who preferred
to remain anonymous, but who was overwhelmed by their gratitude.
Zimbabwe loan not finalised yet - Mboweni August 24 2005
Pretoria - South Africa's central bank has not yet
finalised a loan deal to help its struggling northern neighbour Zimbabwe,
although talks are continuing, Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni said on
"The discussions are ongoing. There is no conclusion
that I am aware of as far as the Reserve Bank is concerned," Mboweni said in
reply to a question at a news conference.
Mboweni said media
reports that South Africa would be prepared to lend President Robert
Mugabe's government as much as $1-billion (about R6,5-billion) were
exaggerated, but did not give any other details.
cabinet this month agreed in principle to help Zimbabwe, which is in a dire
economic crisis which Mugabe's critics blame on his policy of seizing
white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.
institutions such as the International Monetary Fund have withheld financial
aid over policy differences with Mugabe's government, and the IMF could move
to expel Zimbabwe next month for unpaid arrears of
Mboweni said there had been regular meetings
between officials from the South African treasury and central bank and their
Zimbabwean counterparts on many issues, including the proposed
"The discussions have centred on what policies need to be
undertaken in Zimbabwe to help boost economic performance, contain
inflation, bring about a more stable exchange rate and improve
productivity," he said.
Discussions have also examined ways of
preventing Zimbabwe's expulsion from the IMF, Mboweni said.
South Africa's main opposition party has criticised the proposed loan,
saying Pretoria would be propping up a government accused by critics of
rigging elections and clamping down on human rights.
Thabo Mbeki's government has defended the plan as a way to help ease the
suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans and prevent the country collapsing into a
When I was a young girl, one of my grandmother's
neighbours always borrowed stuff from us. One time it was washing powder.
The next it would be sugar or vegetables or cooking oil. But, almost every
month, she would ask for salt. Salt. Over the years, she became too
embarrassed to come herself. So she would send her daughters, and eventually
she sent her grand-daughter who was my age. Nyarai was her name. I remember
her quite well. Sweet-faced, bright, talkative and very self-assured. Nyarai
could beat (physically and intellectually) anybody in our
But, when she came to ask for that salt, Nyarai was a
different person. Walking the 500m between our two homes would take her an
hour. I would see her coming, slowly, down the path. Shrugging her
shoulders. Sitting down in anger or shame or both? And finally summoning the
courage to come through the ramshackle gate to say in a very low voice,
"Kwahi nambuya tokumbirawo sauti [grandmother is asking for some
Nyarai spoke hardly above a whisper on these errands.
She would fidget with her skirt hem or put her fingers in her ears or her
nose, sniffle, shuffle about, anything just to get this to pass
Sometimes, my grandmother would be in such a bad
temper and she would shout at poor Nyarai: "Will your grandmother return
what she borrowed last month? Is she borrowing or just asking for free salt?
What do you people do with it, bathe in it?" For a whole week after she had
come to borrow salt, Nyarai would avoid me in class or on the playground.
Similarly, her grandmother would not pass by our yard on her way to the
fields, preferring to take the longest route around the
So here I am in 2005 and I am trying to understand
how and in what words, exactly, my country's president is trying to borrow
his own measure of "salt" from next door? I want to know how he and our
country have become like Nyarai's grandma? The latter were poor. Very poor.
Disenfranchised by colonialism, Nyarai's family had a non-productive piece
of land just like most of us in the village. But, in their case, they had no
one working in town or on the mines, no cattle, no goats, nor any other
productive resources. Each day was a struggle.
grandmother, in her anger, continued to support the family because she knew
their problems and what was causing them.
Now how does an
entire nation with productive resources, a highly educated and skilled
citizenry such as Zimbabwe get to the point where it borrows salt from next
I want to know how the conversation takes place in
Pretoria or with Beijing: "Uuuhh ... Mr President, we are here to ask for a
small loan. Well, not exactly small, but just enough to tide us over. We are
in a bit of a rough spot ... things are not really going well for us. You
know these British and their opposition ... they are really messing up our
economy. So we are just asking for a loan to enable us to pay our fuel
bills, what we owe for our electricity and other such odds-and-ends. We
promise we will repay you very, very soon. Just as soon as things settle
Nyarai had the advantage of twigs and shrubs to
pull at back in our village in Nhema to distract herself from the
humiliating task at hand.
So what was the governor of my
Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, pulling on -- his cuff links? His pen? Or his
mobile phone? What was the body language of the minister of finance? A whole
grown up doctor of a man, in a Saville Row suit, engaging in a conversation
about borrowing money. As we ask in Shona, "Vanenege vakatarisa pai mizvinda
yevarume yakadai [where the hell do these big men look?]." Or, more rudely,
we'd want to know, "havanyari [Are they not ashamed?]."
But I have never seen a more rude and unashamed bunch of borrowers than our
leaders. They even have the gumption to harangue their supposed lenders at
rallies and on television. If Nyarai's grandmother had done this she would
have known that was the end of salted vegetables. Although I know,
sometimes, Nyarai told some of our classmates that my family were a bunch of
stuck up misers, she never did say this to my face or in public. Our bunch
of borrowers are behaving as if they are still in a position to be so
I am an ordinary Zimbabwean and I feel, like Nyarai,
dreadfully ashamed and gutted by us asking for salt from South Africa and
I am not the one doing the asking, yet I feel
personally implicated. I don't know where to look when people discuss on the
bus, on the streets and on television this issue of our massive begging
bowl. I am like Nyarai now.
Everjoice Win is a Zimbabwean
journalist based in South Africa
HARARE (Reuters) - A week-long impasse over a new tax on
Zimbabwe's bourse has cost the country critical revenue and shows the
government is still pursuing controversial policies likely to keep away
international donors, analysts and traders said on Wednesday.
was no trade on Wednesday on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) -- for the
sixth day running -- with no buyers to take up shares on offer after Finance
Minister Hebert Murerwa last week introduced a 10 percent tax on all shares
"Investors are resisting, saying it is too expensive to buy shares
because the tax is charged on gross sales and not profit. This is costing us
and the government a lot of money," a trader with Harare-based Interfin
ZSE officials said a continuance of the stand-off
would cost the government about Z$17 billion in stamp duty which it collects
every month from the 79-stock bourse.
Analysts say Mugabe's
government can ill afford the lost revenue as it grapples with an economic
crisis widely blamed on its mismanagement of the once prosperous country
since independence from Britain 25 years ago.
The crisis has shown itself
in triple-digit inflation, unemployment of above 70 percent and shortages of
foreign currency, food and fuel.
This week, an
International Monetary Fund (IMF) team began week-long talks with the
government before a board meeting on September 9, which is likely to decide
whether to expel the southern African country over debt arrears of $295
Mugabe's government now relies heavily on the domestic market to
finance the national budget after a fall-out with international donors over
differences on policy, including the government's controversial drive to
forcibly redistribute white-owned commercial farms among blacks.
Tuesday, Murerwa also issued an order that effectively requires that pension
funds, the biggest investors on the ZSE, increase government bonds and bills
as a proportion of their portfolios.
Pension funds are required by law to
invest 35 percent of their total assets in bonds and Treasury
Previously they calculated that percentage using the book value of
their investments as a basis, but Murerwa said they must now calculate these
assets on the market value, a move traders said would force companies to
offload shares to raise money for the required increased quota of government
"This was not a well thought-out policy ... it's backfiring
and not yielding the intended results. The government is sending wrong
signals out there, and worse still when the IMF is in town," John Robertson
economic consultant said on Wednesday.
Hit hard by foreign exchange
shortages, Zimbabwe has approached neighbouring South Africa for a loan,
which local media estimate at around $470 million and part of which analysts
say would go towards settling the IMF debt.
But South African Reserve
Bank governor Tito Mboweni said on Wednesday the loan had not yet been
Zimbabwean officials want custom duties to be paid for
about 6 000 blankets given by South Africans to victims of the government's
recent mass demolitions campaign, an aid organisation said on
Christian Care director Reverend Forbes Matonga
said aid workers have been barred from distributing the blankets donated by
South African churches until the matter is resolved.
are trying to get in touch with senior people in the revenue ministry to
strike an understanding," Matonga said, adding that the amount demanded is
South African churches donated the
blankets and sent two other trucks loaded with maize, beans, cooking oil and
other food items to Zimbabwe two weeks ago to help hundreds of thousands
left homeless and destitute in the campaign.
South African Council of Churches (SACC) said on Monday it was still waiting
for clearance certificates from the Zimbabwean government for the trucks
carrying relief food to that country.
"All the paperwork has
been submitted ... we are waiting," said SACC spokesperson Ron
Zimbabwean police demolished shacks, houses, market
stalls and shops during the 10-week campaign dubbed Operation Murambatsvina,
which ended in late July.
Matonga said the revenue
ministry is demanding payment of custom duties on some of the food items
that were on the two aid trucks that have remained at the
"It's unusually complicated," said Matonga. "But we
still think we will get these things in. We are not thinking of sending them
Zimbabwe has defended the demolitions as a campaign to
rid cities of squalor and crime and has since launched a reconstruction
programme to house those displaced.
SACC leaders, who
visited Zimbabwe twice to report on the evictions, have criticised the
government, saying conditions in transit camps set up for the displaced were
The church leaders have also twice met with South
African President Thabo Mbeki to discuss the aftermath of the government's
campaign that left 700 000 Zimbabweans homeless or without livelihoods, or
both, according to United Nations estimates. -- Sapa-AFP, Sapa
South African government urged to intervene in clearance of donated
By Tererai Karimakwenda 24 August
We reported Tuesday that Zimbabwean officials are
demanding that a surcharge be paid in order to release blankets donated by
the South Africa Council of Churches. The blankets are in a bonded warehouse
in Harare and they are part of a shipment meant to help victims of operation
Murambatsvina. After almost a month of delays caused by Zimbabwean
officials, the South African churches are now urging their own government to
SACC officials say they have requested Reverend
Frank Chikane, director-general of the presidency for help. Chicane is
reported to have made assurances Tuesday night that the necessary documents
will be processed soon.
"the South African government to
intervene. ..to.. 2 truckloads of food that are part of this shipment
are still in Johannesburg waiting for a duty free certificate from
Pastor Ron Steele, who has been working closely with the
aid mission, told us officials are being sent from one office to another
with no results. After almost a month of delays in getting relief food
to Zimbabwe, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) has asked
the "The SACC has said Rev Ron Steele on behalf of the SACC on
Tuesday. Relief aid for Zimbabweans affected by the government's
controversial crackdown on illegal settlements and the informal economy was
expected to leave South Africa two weeks ago. Two trucks carrying
37 mt of food aid, including white maize, sugar beans and cooking oil, have
been waiting in a depot for clearance since the first week of August;
another truck laden with blankets is currently in a bonded warehouse in the
Zimbabwean capital, Harare. Initially the food relief was stalled when
the Zimbabwean government requested assurance that the maize was not
genetically modified (GM); the documents declaring the maize's GM-free
status were submitted the following week. According to sources, the
SACC is now attempting to get an exemption from duty for the relief
aid. The NGO Christian Care is to distribute the goods for the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches to the displaced. A report by UN Special Envoy
Anna Tibaijuka said more than 700,000 people had been affected by the
demolitions of shanty settlements in and around urban centres, which
"breached both national and international human rights law provisions
guiding evictions" and had created "a humanitarian
The European Union (EU) has added
6 more names of Mugabe's cronies to its sanctions list that now comprises a
total of 126 individuals. 3 top police officers are on the updated list that
was decided by the EU Council on 29 July 2005.
list includes: Sekesai Makwavarara - Acting Mayor of Harare, and 3 assistant
police commissioners- Edmore Veterai, Munyaradzi Musariri, Wayne Bvudzijena,
Partson Mbiriri, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government,
Public Works & Urban Development and Melusi Matshiya the Permanent
Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The EU measures,
first introduced in February 2002, consist of a ban on entry into the
territory of the EU member states and a freeze on financial assets. An
embargo on the supply of arms and equipment intended for military operations
is also imposed. The police spokesman, Wayne Budzijena refused to comment
when he was contacted by us.
On June 13 this year, the EU council
had extended the list of targeted sanctions from 95 to 120 to include newly
appointed ministers and their deputies in Mugabe's government. The latest
list is an update which includes persons seen to have been responsible for
the human rights abuses violated under the controversial Operation
Murambatsvina. A damning UN report labelled this clean up exercise a
"disastrous venture which affected the lives of 2.4 million
Targeted sanctions mean that individuals on the list would
be barred from travelling to EU member states as a result of their
engagement in activities which seriously undermine democracy, respect for
human rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe. Their funds in those countries
would also be frozen. Responding to the targeted sanctions, Acting
Minister of Information and Publicity Chen Chimutengwende said, "The
sanctions don't mean anything and won't change anything. It does not improve
the EU's position or weaken our position."
In a wide ranging
interview with SW Radio Africa the minister denied that thousands of people
had been made homeless after the government's clean up exercise. And echoing
Mugabe's line, the minister remained adamant that people are not starving
and that the government is managing to feed the nation with food sourced
from the region.
NGO taking South Africa Home Affairs department to court
Tererai Karimakwenda 24 August 2005
There have been
some dramatic developments at The Lindela Repatriation Centre in South
Africa where 2 Zimbabweans died in July.
Arthur Fraser, who is the brother of a cabinet minister, director of
deportations Ricardo Abrahams, and the chief director of the inspectorate,
Gcinumzi Ntlakana were suspended over the 2 deaths and a host of other
serious allegations. These officials have been suspended with full pay
The suspensions come as The Zimbabwe
Torture Victims Project, an NGO that assists exiled Zimbabweans who were
victimised back home, is initiating a court case against the Home Affairs
department of South Africa. The ZTVP is suing on behalf of 50 of their
clients who they believe qualify for legal status, but like thousands of
other Zimbabweans, have no access to the application process. The processing
centre in Johannesburg was closed in April and Pretoria accepts a limited
number of applicants each week. The issue of access is also part of the
investigations at Lindela.
In the first 7 months of this year
alone, at least seven people have died at Lindela, and 21 others at nearby
Leratong Hospital where they had been taken for treatment. In July as we
reported, pregnant Zimbabwean Alice Chumba, 18, died of complications and
Mcabangeli Mlambo, 22, died the next day after vomiting
Piers Pigou, a researcher at ZTVP said there was great
relunctance in South Africa to accept Zimbabweans as being bonafide exiles
who need legal status until the United Nations Human Rights Commission
intervened in 2003. Since then there has been a small but steady increase in
the numbers accessing the application process. But Pigou noted that
logistical problems, corruption and some ineptitude have kept the numbers
still very low. This leaves Zimbabweans with no access extremely vulnerable
to arrest by South African police.
And as for Lindela,
which is run by Bosasa, a privately owned security and risk management
company, a ministerial commission has been appointed to investigate the
situation there. The detention centre has been widely condemned by human
rights groups for the conditions to which detainees are subjected as well as
for the lack of procedures for refugees to seek
ICC to reject British proposal on Zimbabwe ban Wed
Aug 24, 2005 9:20 PM IST
DUBAI (Reuters) - The International Cricket
Council (ICC) is to reject a proposal by the British government to ban
Zimbabwe from playing international cricket because of its human rights
"We do respect their views, but we don't make decisions on
political grounds and neither are our decisions on playing cricket based on
the human rights record of a country," Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief
executive, told Reuters on Wednesday.
"I haven't had a chance to
speak with our president (Ehsan Mani) but our stand on such matter is pretty
clear. It's up to the teams to decide whether they honour the
Speed said the ruling body's position was the same when
India and Pakistan refused to play each other for political
"If the countries want to play it's fine and if they don't we
don't interfere in the foreign policy of any government," Speed said before
the ICC's scheduling summit to discuss a six-year programme of international
cricket on Thursday and Friday.
The summit will be followed by a
meeting of the Chief Executives' Committee (CEC) on August 28 and
The inclusion of cricket in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi
will be one of the major issues to be discussed, and recommendations will be
sent to the ICC Executive Board meeting to be held in Sydney in
"The format of the game will be a key topic whether it be the
50-over or Twenty20 matches, we will have to see," Speed said.
inclusion of Twenty20 game in the international calendar will also be
debated," said Speed, who disagrees with the notion that it would threaten
the existence of the 50-over format.
"The idea is to add value to the
game and not to take anything away," he said.
DEREGULATION prompted by Zimbabwe's economic
crisis could show the way forward for the embattled nation, according to one
of the leading Harare-based financial service companies.
Legat, Chief Executive Officer of Imara Asset Management Zimbabwe, this week
(August 24) welcomed fuel market deregulation and hoped it presaged a policy
shift toward greater liberalisation within the economy.
out: "The fuel situation inside Zimbabwe is widely regarded as the worst
ever, with workers having to walk to work because there was no fuel for
commuter buses. These pressures have forced the government to deregulate the
"Fuel deregulation may have been prompted by
Zimbabwe's troubles, but all positive economic change is to be applauded.
The fact that government is starting to deregulate is a step in the right
The Imara financial services group retains a strong
Zimbabwean presence, with full stockbroking, corporate finance and asset
Despite the economic crisis, Zimbabwe
still has a relatively well diversified stock market, with 88 listed
companies. Imara maintains a staff of 70 in Harare. The asset management
company has a client-base of 90 pension funds and 500 private
Links are also strong with neighbouring Zambia, where
Imara works in tandem with Lusaka-based Stockbrokers Zambia, aa leading
securities trader in the copper-rich nation.
example over a decade or more provides a close-hand demonstration of the
value of deregulation, said Legat.
He explained: "Zambia began to
deregulate in the early '90s and the process has continued under President
Mwanawasa. It has been a key factor in Zambia's revival and we now see
Chinese and Canadian investors taking a stake in the country's mining
"The lesson should not be lost on the Zimbabwean
authorities. Zimbabwe will have to deregulate if we are to attract foreign
direct investment on a significant scale.
prospects for Zimbabwe are not as problematic as some may think. The key
issue for potential investors revolves around the timing of a credible
economic reform programme."