|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
The chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Lovemore Madhuku, announced the move after a meeting of the NCA, which is a coalition of local churches, unions and human rights groups, on Saturday.
We think we need change of the constitutional framework before you can go into an election, and we want to make that point in January
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly
He said the government should expect mass protests and work boycotts if it rejected a new constitution drafted by the NCA.
President Robert Mugabe has predicted he will win a convincing victory at the election, due before the end of March, while the opposition accuses him of changing electoral legislation in his favour.
An estimated 2,000 people attended Saturday's meeting on the proposed new constitution, which stipulates the separation of powers between a non-executive president elected by parliament and an executive prime minister elected by popular vote.
The new constitution would also abolish the death penalty for treason, though not for murder.
The opposition will never win the elections under whatever circumstances
President Robert Mugabe
"We think we need change of the constitutional framework before you can go into an election, and we want to make that point in January," Mr Madhuku said.
The BBC's Rageh Omar reports from the South African city of Johannesburg that the NCA meeting shows resistance to Mr Mugabe's rule is not confined to his political opponents, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"This weekend's threat of a widespread national campaign of disobedience by civic organisations has highlighted other focal points of disaffection to the current Zimbabwean government policies," he says.
The Zimbabwean authorities last week briefly detained Mr Madhuku and 32 other NCA members when they tried to demonstrate against new election rules they consider undemocratic.
The MDC has accused Mr Mugabe of trying to steal victory by changing the electoral laws in his favour.
The opposition is outraged by a bar on postal voting for millions of Zimbabweans living abroad voting and rigid new rules demanding multiple proof of residency for urban voters.
It has launched a campaign to persuade millions of its supporters living in South Africa to return home and claim their right to vote.
The MDC estimates that about three million Zimbabweans live there and most are opposition supporters.
"You must fight for Zimbabwe," MDC Deputy President Gibson Sibanda told a rally in Johannesburg on Sunday.
"You must go home and claim your voting rights. We want you to prepare yourselves to go back and vote."
From The Sunday Times (SA), 2 December
SADC to pile on pressure as patience wears thin with Mugabe
President Thabo Mbeki is leading a charge by Southern African leaders to pile pressure on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on the eve of the Zanu PF congress at which he is expected to seek nomination for another term in power. In a dramatic shift in approach this week, Mbeki: Abandoned his kid-gloves approach to Mugabe and criticised him publicly three times; Phoned Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi and asked him to convene a meeting of the Southern African Development Community's special task team on Zimbabwe; and Briefed the ANC's National Executive Committee on the government's tougher stance on the Zimbabwean crisis. Government officials told the Sunday Times that the deterioration in Zimbabwe's political situation in recent weeks had "triggered" Mbeki to speak out more frankly against Mugabe. He was receiving reports that hundreds of refugees were streaming across the border every day. Mbeki was also feeling under pressure as Western leaders were regularly phoning him whenever they wanted to "get a message through to Mugabe". "He wants Mugabe to know that he should not expect protection any more. Up to now we have rallied behind him," said a senior official. Another official said Mbeki's patience was "wearing thin" because the Zimbabwean crisis would not let the New Partnership for Africa's Development get off the ground.
Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo said Mbeki was "really keen to ensure free and fair elections" in Zimbabwe. "If the elections are not legitimate, the situation will be far worse than it is now. The President therefore wants to double the efforts to seek a resolution to the crisis," said Khumalo. Mbeki's call to Muluzi was made before his three public statements warning of a deepening crisis in Zimbabwe unless other countries made "urgent" interventions. Political leaders from around the region have been urging Zanu PF to use its congress in two weeks to find a successor to Mugabe. It is believed that Mbeki asked that the regional heads of the task team meet again in Harare to read the riot act to Mugabe. The SADC task team, comprising the leaders of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi, was mandated at the regional summit in Blantyre earlier this year to help Zimbabwe out of its turmoil. However, state-sponsored land invasions and violence have continued. This week, Mugabe's government passed a law that will effectively ban foreign journalists. It is planning laws to silence the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. This week a defiant Mugabe also unveiled the first batch of 1 000 youthful soldiers who have been given the task of reversing "the effects of colonial legacy".
Mbeki, speaking at a meeting of the World Association of Newspapers on Tuesday, said that the SADC had to intervene urgently to halt the disorder in Zimbabwe before it spilt over into other countries in the region. He also condemned the harassment of journalists and absence of press freedom in Zimbabwe. At another meeting that evening, Mbeki said misguided economic policies over the past two decades were responsible for the upheaval. When quizzed by the Foreign Correspondents' Association on Thursday, Mbeki expressed his frustration that efforts by the SADC and Commonwealth committees had not produced results. The youth brigade unveiled by Mugabe this week completed a three-month course at a former army barracks north of Harare. "We realised that we have beaten the snake [whites], but left out the head. What is left is to finish off the head," Mugabe told the youths. He said national youth service would be mandatory for anyone applying for work in the government or entering university.
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 2 December
Mugabe digs in against critics for 2002 poll
Harare - A violent resolution to Zimbabwe's crisis drew closer this week as President Robert Mugabe continued to reject all efforts to ensure a free and fair presidential election next year. Mugabe once again defied international insistence that he stick to the promise he made in Abuja, Nigeria, in September to conduct land reform under the rule of law and to allow freedom of the press. Since then he has introduced legislation to allow the seizure of white farms to bypass the courts, and to control the independent press through compulsory registration. Mugabe and his lieutenants are increasingly referring to the land resettlement programme as the "third revolution" that will finally realise the goals of the country's liberation struggle by returning all land to blacks. This suggests he will not be amenable to anything that might frustrate this objective - including his victory in the election, which is scheduled for March. This week, as further evidence that Mugabe is preparing for the Armageddon option, plans to construct bunkers under State House were revealed.
Many observers are pinning their hopes on a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) mission that is currently reviewing Zimbabwe's land reform policies. The mission is trying to establish a just and sustainable land reform process that both the Zimbabwean government and international donors can subscribe to. But analysts and stakeholders said this week that the UNDP team was unlikely to resolve the land crisis as long as Mugabe remained focused on winning the presidential election at all costs. "European Union and Commonwealth delegations recently left Zimbabwe empty-handed," said Lovemore Madhuku, a political analyst. "What magic will this UNDP mission use to force Mugabe into co-operating with the international community and into implementing a just and acceptable land reform exercise?"
Meanwhile, President Thabo Mbeki criticised Mugabe's policies at three separate venues this week. Speaking to an influential group of businesspeople in Sandton on Tuesday night, Mbeki mentioned Zimbabwe by name and was highly critical of the economic policies of the Mugabe government, describing them as "unsustainable". And in off-the-cuff remarks at the gala banquet of the World Association of Newspapers, Mbeki criticised the Zimbabwean government's crackdown on the media, saying that it was "unacceptable". He told 50 of the world's top newspaper publishers that he had asked for a meeting of the Southern African Development Community task group on Zimbabwe to deal with the deteriorating situation in that country.
Addressing foreign correspondents on Thursday, Mbeki called for urgent action to be taken to ensure that the presidential election in Zimbabwe was free and fair. He warned that the crisis in Zimbabwe would deteriorate further unless countries in the region and the Commonwealth intervened. "All of us must act urgently to persuade the government and the population of Zimbabwe to move in a certain direction. It is critical that elections should be free and fair." He also said that a joint committee consisting of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change should be set up to ensure mutual satisfaction with the result of the poll.
From The Zimbabwe Standard, 2 December
Tuesday D-Day for Zanu PF chefs and families
The United States House of Representatives is expected to pass the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act on Tuesday, paving the way for President George W Bush to sign it into law later this month, The Standard has established. The Bill, among other issues, seeks to impose punitive personal sanctions against President Mugabe, his cabinet ministers and service chiefs, as well as their immediate family members, for crimes against humanity. Since February last year, when Zimbabweans rejected a government-sponsored draft constitution in a referendum, the country has been in a state of lawlessness, as security forces and Zanu PF thugs terrorise defenceless citizens for supporting the opposition. The Bill’s transition to the full House of Representatives follows Wednesday’s unanimous endorsement of the Bill by the Subcommittee on Africa, a body within the House International Relations Committee. Sources in Washington yesterday told The Standard: "The Bill is certainly moving closer to the president’s signature. Before that happens, it must go to a vote by the full House. It appears that the Bill will be voted on Tuesday, December 4. The reason we are rushing the Bill through the House next week (Tuesday) is that the current rumour is that the House will go into recess next Thursday."
"The real meat of this Bill is the personal sanctions portion. Personal sanctions are very rare and have been historically reserved for war-criminal type dictators. This Bill was created to ensure that the average Zimbabwean man on the street will not be harmed by the sanctions. The House will take up the Bill under "suspension of the rules", a very common parliamentary procedure used to pass non-controversial Bills. It should be highlighted that this Bill is so non-controversial that it will not require a roll call vote, it will not be debated. It simply will be passed by a routine voice vote. That is significant in showing that Mugabe has no support and that virtually the entire House of Representatives is so appalled at events in Zimbabwe, that the passage of the Bill will be easy," said the sources. Once the House has passed the Bill, it will still have to go back to the Senate - whose current session goes into December – for endorsement before it proceeds to President Bush. The reason for this is that it was slightly amended by the House International Relations committee making it necessary for the Senate to vote again on the House version. "The House committee amendment was for purposes of denying the establishment of a regional headquarters of the Southern African Development Bank in Zimbabwe. The amendment was co-sponsored by Rep Barbara Lee (Democrat-California), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. So even the CBC was aggressive in its desire to make the Bill less favourable to Mugabe," said the sources.
The latest passage of the Bill proves that all efforts by the Zimbabwean government to derail it have failed. The government hired the influential former Atlanta governor, Andrew Young, and the obscure Coltrane Chimurenga-led December 12 Movement, to spearhead a campaign against the Bill. The sources have however, acknowledged that the impact of the campaign has been felt: "The efforts to persuade the CBC, and indeed, the rest of Congress to go against the Bill has been tremendous. The government of Zimbabwe has spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of US dollars on lobbyists to defeat the Bill. Those efforts are in addition to similar efforts by the Zimbabwean embassy to dissuade lawmakers from the Bill." "Rep Donald Payne (Democrat-New Jersey), the ranking Democrat on the Africa subcommittee, was the main leader in bringing the CBC to our side. With Payne in the lead, most of the CBC followed and supported the Bill. In the end, Andrew Young and the government lobbyists could not cover up the fact that the Mugabe government is one of the worst anti-democratic regimes in Africa."
Commenting on the Zimbabwe Bill before the House subcommittee on Wednesday, Payne said: "Zimbabwe is too important to ignore and the legislation offers a credible policy option to deal with challenges in Zimbabwe. Mr Chairman, the situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating by the day. Dozens of people have been killed, the rule of law is non-existent, and authoritarian tendencies have reached a very dangerous level. I strongly believe that it is in our interest and the interest of Zimbabwe and Africa, not to allow another African country to go down the drain." Payne added that anarchy in Zimbabwe could threaten the entire sub-region and set a wrong precedent for the rest of Africa. "Some people have portrayed this legislation as punitive sanctions legislation. I must admit they almost succeeded in defining the debate in such a way as to confuse the real intent of the legislation. The objective of the Zimbabwe Democracy Act is not to punish the people of Zimbabwe or Mugabe. Rather, it is to ensure a secure, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe." "Those who object to this legislation hide behind the race card. This is not about white versus black farmers or racism; it is about fair and transparent elections; respect for human rights, fair and transparent land reform; and to provide real help to those who need it most. More blacks have been killed by Mugabe’s security forces and ruling party thugs than white farmers. Those who have suffered most under Mugabe are not white farmers, but poor blacks," said Payne. MDC shadow minister for foreign affairs, Tendai Biti, welcomed the forthcoming passage of the Bill. "For years, knowledge of Zimbabwe in the US, has been poor. As a party, we embarked on a serious process to raise awareness on the situation in Zimbabwe and the appreciation of the demonic Mugabe has been a result of that process," Biti told The Standard.
From ZWNEWS: An article entitled 'Zimbabwe press vows to fight Mugabe' in yesterday's ZWNEWS was incorrectly sourced to the New York Times. The correct source is Associated Press.