By MOSES CHAMBOKO
Published: Saturday, February 07, 2009
It was quite interesting to see and hear some African leaders (including The Emperor) competing for public attention in the past few days, calling for a blanket and immediate lifting of targeted sanctions imposed by the European Union, America and other members of the democratic community, on selected individuals and organisations largely in Zimbabwe and others based elsewhere.
The common position adopted was that the Zimbabwe crisis is ostensibly a product of "illegal sanctions".
This scapegoat, which has been recycled for the umpteenth time, is as monotonous as Gono's desperate lopping of the zeros. Can one of those leaders please tell us how "legal sanctions" look, feel or smell like?
It takes very short memory to forget that ZANU PF misgovernance over the past 28 years, particularly since the 2000 watershed referendum defeat, is the primary source of our misery.
Who doesn't recall that the so-called black economic empowerment, in essence, a sponsored looting project which benefited those well connected, contributed significantly to this mess?
Were we under sanctions in the late 80s when both Tekere and Zvobgo openly criticised the government for its neglect of democracy and violation of the so-called leadership code?
Did anybody listen to Didymus Mutasa when he once boldly declared something like "I don't support ESAP, this idea of borrowing left right and centre will never work"?
This was well before he started believing in the miracle of rocks and diesel; a statement that relegated him to the political dustbins of Shake Shake House for nearly a decade.
One thing those leaders who masquerade today as the voice and greatest sons of Africa conveniently forget is that these sanctions were literally invited by those targeted through certain actions and misdeeds of their own.
Mostly, it was to do with lawlessness, violation of basic human rights, disregard of property rights, state sponsored violence, corruption and other forms of economic crime.
Some were placed on the notorious list for their ambitious, shameless, preposterous, divisive and inflammatory propaganda against innocent Zimbabweans whose only crime was a cry for freedom and justice.
Now we hear that Tsvangirai should start campaigning for the lifting of these sanctions. Have we suddenly forgotten the "inconvenient truth" (to borrow from a popularly modernised but old phrase) that Zimbabwe does not have the monopoly of sovereignty?
Europe and America, among other nations, have their own leaders who make decisions for their respective territories within the confines of their constitutions, beliefs and history.
My understanding is that Tsvangirai will be Prime Minister of Zimbabwe and not Foreign Secretary for America, Britain, Europe or any other country.
It would be improper for anybody to expect him to direct policy formulation for Western countries that were recently, albeit untimely, ordered to "shut up" by one of our most learned but seemingly unwise or politically naive brothers. Kuruma zamo rinosisa mukaka!
Most of these countries have representatives in Zimbabwe who will be making progress reports to their principals from time to time regarding the way the GNU will be unfolding.
Journalists will also be keen to beam the Zimbabwean story far and wide. The decision to review or revise sanctions, therefore, rests squarely with the nations that imposed them in the first place.
Such a decision will be informed solely by the results of the new government, particularly the positive participation and sincerity of all three parties involved.
What the transitional administration in Harare should do is to immediately put in place genuine and strict measures so that, like the prodigal son, Zimbabwe can immediately embark on its long awaited journey back into the fold of the democratic, peaceful and prosperous community of nations.
One such measure is to move swiftly in offloading one of the greatest liabilities, Gideon Gono.
Like the biblical loving father, these nations will embrace us with open hands, as one of their own. It is then that we could start making pleas for the balance of payments support, access to line of credit, increased humanitarian aid, donations for reconstruction, debt relief or cancellation (not odious debt) and many other measures that have a direct bearing on the broader economy and well being of common Zimbabweans.
Travel restrictions and asset freeze for individuals must be at the very bottom of the new government's "to do" list.
Those who invited sanctions for themselves must work hard to earn their removal from the same list in their individual capacities before they could start planning their next holiday in America, Europe, Canada Australia or New Zealand, most likely, using looted money.
The sanctions list must be reviewed progressively in line with tangible developments on the ground.
Passage of Amendment 19 or swearing in of the Prime Minister, cannot be an automatic passport for the lifting of targeted sanctions.
By RUMBI MUNDIMBA
Published: Saturday, February 07, 2009
Reuben Barwe, the partisan political correspondent of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) has reportedly echoed that he does not recognise MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister further branding him a sell-out of the West.
Barwe who is in the habit overdoing things especially when he is praise-singing his master Robert Matibili Mugabe was said to have clearly made his position that he cannot come to terms with having Tsvangirai in the high political limelight.
Tsvangirai will be sworn in as Prime Minister on 11 February and Barwe is likely going to give coverage to the grand occasion at Zimbabwe grounds.
Sources say Barwe has echoed that he would rather pass the button to his accomplice Judith Makwanya on the day so that he watches from the sidelines.
Prior to the chaotic and violence marred March 2008 harmonised elections Judith Makwanya and Rueben Barwe were the only journos who were allocated a personal BT50 vehicle while their ex-editor Patrice Makova was overlooked for such perks.
During that time they were said to have been reporting to themselves and Makova was even afraid to assign them any duty as they had just become glaringly arrogant with the support of the president’s office.
Barwe was not reachable for comment as he was said to be at his farm in Norton about 40 Kilometres West of Harare.
Prior to the serious negotiations with the MDC last year, Mugabe was said to have sounded to his lieutenants that the country will remain ungovernable if MDC is not given space in the high seat of governance.
Political commentators have said that Mugabe has a terrible task ahead to do psychological counselling of his subordinates and praise singers like Barwe that are still basking in the dim light of the old system of government.
They said that if Barwe cannot recognise the new order of things, the better he resigns into farming because the MDC leader is here for some time.
They alleged that Barwe cannot be employed by any sane organisation owing to his partisan political line of thinking.
In the 1990s, Barwe once failed to pass his probation period when he was engaged by the Red Cross Society as a public relations officer and he shipped out
By Tichaona Sibanda
6 February 2009
New governors for the country’s ten political provinces are set to be sworn in, on the same day as ministers and their deputies.
This follows an agreement in South Africa between ZANU PF and MDC negotiators that Robert Mugabe must reverse the appointment of all current ten governors from his party. The appointments made late last year were in contravention of the Global Political Agreement, signed on 15th September by all the parties.
Party negotiators who met in South Africa on Wednesday have now agreed to use the results of the 29th March harmonised elections to allocate the governors’ posts. This formula now needs to be ratified by the party principals.
Under this formula, according to the Zimbabwe Independent, the MDC-T would get five posts, ZANU PF four and MDC-M one. The paper added MDC-T would appoint governors in Harare, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Manicaland. ZANU PF will have the three Mashonaland provinces and Midlands, the MDC-M would appoint a governor in Matabeleland South.
Morgan Tsvangirai is due to be sworn in as Prime Minister on Wednesday together with his two deputies, Thokozani Khupe and Arthur Mutambara. Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us all political appointees who will serve the new government will be sworn in next week Friday.
‘When the government is in place, all ministers will be given the task of restructuring the government, starting with permanent secretaries and ambassadors. This is a big task because it also involves the restructuring of all government controlled parastatals,’ Muchemwa said.
A source also told us that the National Security Council Bill, which was also agreed to by the parties, will be tabled in parliament on Tuesday and is expected to sail through without a glitch. We understand from our sources that all state security organs, such as the army, police and the Central Intelligence Organisation, will fall under the NSC and will be chaired by Mugabe, with Tsvangirai deputizing him.
David Coltart, the Senator for Khumalo and a representative of the MDC-M, said in the senate on Thursday that institutions like the CIO have been used as partisan institutions to entrench Mugabe’s rule, and that should change. ‘There are institutions such as the CIO and the AG that have to be liberalized if we are sincere about forming a unity government.’
‘In the new government, people who have committed crimes must be prosecuted and face due process of the law,’ Coltart added.
By: Leandi Cameron
Published on 6th February 2009
Zimbabwe has the second-largest platinum resource in the world, and a host of other metals and minerals, which makes South Africa’s troubled neighbour an attractive mining destination.
Some, like the world’s second-largest platinum company, Impala Platinum, of Johannesburg, and junior Aquarius Platinum, which is listed in Johannesburg and Australia, grasped the Zimbabwe nettle years ago and had been reaping rich rewards until recently, when the platinum price collapsed.
Others, like platinum and chrome explorer Kameni, are very recent entrants, and then there are still others, like South Africa’s black-owned African Rainbow Minerals, that make no bones about being attracted by Zimbabwe’s prospectivity, have still not made any investment announcements and are presumably awaiting a globally acceptable political settlement, which several politicians, analysts and corporations believe may be only a stone’s throw away.
Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai, which is the frontrunning political entity that holds a key to a possible acceptable political outcome, has been vocal about mining companies investing in Zimbabwe.
The Johannesburg-based MDC treasurer-general, Roy Bennett, suggests that any new Zimbabwe government would need to scrutinise the mining investments that have been made to ensure that they are all able to withstand the full glare of the most rigorous of modern-day corporate-governance scrutiny.
Bennett says, in an exclusive interview with Mining Weekly, that there will be a “day of reckoning”.
He says that, should the MDC come into power, a committee will be formed to review all mining investments in Zimbabwe.
“Anything that has been done transparently, accountably and according to the legitimate laws of Zimbabwe will be respected,” Bennett says, but there will be a low tolerance level for anything untoward.
Many in the mining industry, who have studied the risk-and-reward ratios, believe that there is a growing weighting towards reward.
Kameni CEO Stephen Gorven late last year told Mining Weekly that the company sensed a “near-term” political settlement in Zimbabwe.
In a more recent interview, Gorven reiterated his contention even more stridently.
“I think Zimbabweans increasingly realise that there has to be some kind of settlement. It’s hard to see how they can go backwards from here,” Gorven expounded further to Mining Weekly.
As there is a risk of losing dormant Zimbabwean assets on the basis of the ‘use or lose’ principle, Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll revealed that her iconic company had given the go-ahead for infrastructural development to start at Anglo Platinum’s Unki prospect, which happens to be not that far from where Kameni is undertaking exploration drilling in the hope of creating a dual chrome- and platinum-mining operation.
However, Anglo American, with its corporate office in London, has not escaped criticism, in the light of the overwhelming low regard that the world has for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
Anglo American had been mining in Zimbabwe for more than 50 years, and started drilling in the area in the 1970s. Carroll made the point that Anglo Platinum was, at that stage, not producing any platinum in Zimbabwe, nor was it paying taxes to the government, but was developing the prospect into a future mine.
African Rainbow Minerals chairperson Patrice Motsepe did not hide his attraction to Zimbabwe as an exciting mining destination when questioned at a recent results presentation, describing Zimbabwe as “a very, very important country”, but his company has still to make any firm announcements of Zimbabwean intentions.
His CEO, André Wilkens, said last year that the company was considering “a number of platinum opportunities”.
But it is Impala Platinum that has been the most communicative about its Zimbabwean mining activities, over the longest period of time.
Impala Platinum CEO David Brown is invariably open to media questioning at results presentations and has engaged in transparent transactions and ‘indigenisation’, the Zimbabwe equivalent of South Africa’s black economic-empowerment policy.
Brown has expressed particular concern about the obligation that Impala Platinum has in Zimbabwe to continue to provide the employment that its activities at its 87%-owned Zimplats and Mimosa offer to the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
Brown is on record as praising the diligence and can-do approach of the employees of Zimplats and Mimosa, a view often also expressed by Aquarius Platinum CEO Stuart Murray.
Aquarius is also a shareholding in the Mimosa mine and there have been occasions where quarterly results have shown the high productivity levels that the Zimbabwe workforce is able to achieve.
Carroll says that Anglo American is still developing the infrastructure, roads and water supply at Unki, and, if the poli- tical environment improves, expects to break ground and start producing platinum in 2010.
“It’s a very big ore-body. We have to keep investing to hold onto it. We have responded to some of the media by saying that we are absolutely not propping up the Mugabe regime. There are no taxes being paid into that government today and we are bringing capital equipment in from outside the country. That’s the state of affairs and we continue to watch it very closely,” Carroll was quoted as saying last year, when questioned by journalists on the company’s activities in Zimbabwe.
But the troubled global economy and financial meltdown are resulting in pain.
In December last year, Impala’s Zimplats discontinued its opencast mining owing to low metal prices. The company also ran up a $ 16-million loss in the September quarter, despite its platinum price averaging a relatively high $ 1 551/oz.
There have been instances in which companies have signed over a portion of their mineral resources to the government in return for indigenisation or empowerment credits, and Bennett questions some of these, especially in instances where there are allegations that the mineral resources have allegedly been passed on to Zanu-PF functionaries who have, in turn, allegedly sold these resources to companies whose corporate-governance records have been challenged by some.
Bennett’s reading between the lines is that certain of these transactions need to be thoroughly scrutinised, particularly those that may have involved businesspeople whose reputations were already known to be dubious.
Cadiz Corporate Solutions mining analyst Peter Major believes that, risk aside, Zimbabwe’s platinum prospects are “fabulous”.
“The price to obtain mineral rights in Zimbabwe is so low now that everyone is jumping to get in. Virtually every mine there has closed down, accept platinum, and, currently, these mines are not operating at the capacity they could be. Fifty per cent of the Chinese are saying that there is a better future in Zimbabwean mining than in South Africa.
“If you invest in Zimbabwe now, in five or seven years, there will be good money to be made,” Major adds.
He disagrees that Zimbabwe is hardest hit when it comes to corruption. “Zimbabwe’s corruption isn’t worse than ours in South Africa,” and he rallies behind those who are investing in the country, commenting that “companies should hold on to their mines - everyone knows it cannot get worse”.
“It’s similar to the apartheid era in the late 1980s - investors knew that the African National Congress would come into power and that apartheid would not last, and they took the ‘pain’ and hung onto their assets, and the upside was so much better. However, the worry is how strong the companies investing in Zimbabwe’s permits are, and whether they will survive a regime change.”
Major does concede, however, that investing in Zimbabwe does involve “walking a fine line”, noting that companies should consider how much they are, in the process, assisting ‘Bob’.
Because of the difficulty in remaining apolitical in Zimbabwe, Bennett advises companies to play it safe and withdraw now.
He says they should not fear the ‘use or lose’ aspect, as he believes that withdrawing concerns are unlikely to lose their assets, “because Zanu-PF does not have the technology or the money to continue operating those assets”.
Bennett urges companies to “remain on the moral high-ground”.
Major says, however, that companies must try to be trans- parent in their dealings in Zimbabwe.
He comments that the current Zimbabwe government cannot just throw established players out of the country if they refuse to do what it says - “it’s too risky” - and newcomers have nothing to lose as the Zimbabwe government will not have much “collateral” on them.
But some are leaving. Aim-listed Central African Gold (CAG) ceased all its operations in Zimbabwe in December, saying that the closure was “due to the adverse political and economic climate”.
CAG says that it will continue to maintain its Zimbabwean assets “pending resolution to such turbulence”.
CAG operates the Dalny mine, the Rix tailings treatment operation, the Golden Quarry underground mine, the Camperdown quarry and the Old Nic underground mine in Zimbabwe.
Other gold producers have also shut down owing to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ’s) failure to pay millions it owes the industry. While the RBZ holds the sole gold dealing licence in the country, it does not have the same hold on platinum-miners.
The RBZ is said to owe gold-miners US$ 30-million for gold deliveries.
The African Institute of South Africa’s chief research specialist, Dr Norman Mlambo, says, however, companies that leave Zimbabwe create room for companies that are willing to risk investing there. “It’s better to go into Zimbabwe now while there is still a crisis, because it’s possible to negotiate cheaply.”
Mlambo adds that most companies entering the country in a moderate way are hoping that they will be able to go into full operation when things turn around.
“When Zimbabwe stabilises politically, there will most likely be a flood of investors and not all of them will be accommodated. To go in now is basically about avoiding the scramble,” he says.
“Zimbabwe is not as volatile as other regions where there is actual war, such as Angola and Nigeria, where people are actually being killed while mining,” he says.
But Bennett laments that the world just stands by and watches, while the people of Zimbabwe continue to suffer.
Editor: Creamer Media Reporter
Former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu, who faces a trial over allegations he assaulted a leading cricket official, has pledged to use his day in court to blow the lid on "corruption" in the game, his lawyer said.
Taibu has been accused of assaulting Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) general manager Esther Lupepe last year.
She claims that he grabbed her by the collar and jostled her during a confrontation over outstanding salary and expenses payments.
He was due to appear at Rotten Row magistrates court, but because he is on tour in Kenya, the trial has been put back, probably until mid-March, according to his lawyer Jonathan Samkange.
Mr Samkange is reported to have stated at an earlier hearing that Taibu would take the opportunity to "expose corruption" in ZC.
The national cricket body, led by controversial chairman Peter Chingoka, were stunned when the magistrate ordered ZC to produce all accounts relating to players for audit.
ZC have protested that this was irrelevant to the legal proceedings.
Taibu, the country's leading run-maker and long-established wicketkeeper, was the spokesman for a striking group of players in 2005 and he declared he would not perform in Zimbabwe colours while Chingoka remained in charge.
He was eventually persuaded to return to the team after pursuing his club career in South Africa and Bangladesh.
Taibu told the earlier court hearing that the assault charge is an attempt to discredit him after he made claims that there had been dubious financial dealings within the national body.
February 6, 2009
Dr Simba Makoni fighting back.
By Our Correspondent
Dr Simba Makoni, the leader of the Mavambo / Kusile / Dawn (MKD) movement was on Friday officially suspended by his party’s National Coordinating Committee on charges of embezzlement of funds and withholding of party property
Makoni’s spokesman immediately dismissed the suspension and the allegations, revealing that the MKD leader, a former member of the politburo of President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, was taking legal action against the people making what he described as scurrilous allegations.
The stand-off is getting messy, with the anti-Makoni group threatening to file an official police report Monday to have Makoni arrested and charged with corruption.
The Zimbabwe Times can report that Makoni was handed his letter of suspension Friday in his offices on the 9th Floor of Old Mutual House by one of the NCC executive members, Kindness Paradza. Paradza is the former publisher of the now defunct Tribune newspaper and a legislator for Makonde in the last Parliament.
The letter, seen by The Zimbabwe Times, cites abuse of assets and other resources of the movement as the grounds for Makoni’s suspension.
Next Monday, the NCC claims it is furnishing the police with full details of Makoni’s alleged plunder so as to immediately institute investigations against the MKD leader. Makoni came third in presidential elections held on March 29 last year.
“This letter serves to notify you that following consultations in and among members of NCC, of the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn movement, preliminary decision has been passed to suspend your mandate to speak and act on behalf of the movement pending the outcome of the investigations,” said Makoni’s suspension letter, jointly signed by Major Kudzai Mbudzi and Paradza.
“The suspension came about on account of allegations that:
a) You have failed and/or neglected to account fully and transparently for the funds and assets of the movement.
b) You have abused assets and other resources of the movement,
c) You have disregarded decisions of the NCC of the movement,
d) Generally, you have conducted yourself in a manner which is not in the interests of, and which is inconsistent with the objectives and vision of the movement.”
Documents to hand reveal that Makoni allegedly received US$ 3 million from donors, but has allegedly refused to openly account for the funds.
He is alleged to have opened bank accounts in South Africa and Botswana where he has moved some of the money.
US$ 1.5 million is reported to be lodged with a bank in Harare.
US$ 100,000 worth of stationery was allegedly moved from Mavambo’s official offices at the Old Mutual Building next to Africa Unity Square to a factory owned by Chipo Makoni, the besieged MKD leader’s wife. The stationery allegedly disappeared thereafter.
Makoni is also accused of unauthorized expenditure on personal and family security “despite the clear absence of any threat”.
There have also been allegations of abuse of the movement’s vehicles and fuel by Makoni.
The MKD leader is further accused of having allocated to his family use of two luxury Jeep Cherokee vehicles, 5 Mazda BT50 and two Nissan 1-Tonner trucks.
Makoni’s spokesman Godfrey Chanetsa told The Zimbabwe Times: “Dr Makoni is putting out a statement clearly saying the allegations are libelous and he intends to take legal action, that’s the position.”
Makoni’s suspension letter makes a number of demands.
“Your suspension pending investigation is with immediate effect,” says the letter, dated February 6.
“In order to facilitate a proper investigation, you are required immediately to:
-make a full declaration, in writing, of any and all assets and finances of the movement
-surrender all financial and other records of the movement
-make a full declaration in writing of any and all trusts formed in the name of the movement or using its resources
-vacate the offices of the movement,” the letter concludes.
A top official in the MKD, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the allegations were fabricated ostensibly because Makoni had refused to share the movement’s resources before a fully-fledged political party had been formed.
He said Mavambo was not a political party and was not even registered, adding the people agitating for the ouster of Makoni did not even have membership cards because Mavambo was just a creature created to back the MKD leader during the presidential race in March, where Makoni polled 8.3 percent of the vote.
“Dr Makoni’s Mavambo is not a political party, there are no membership cards,” the official said. “Where is the membership?
Who are these people representing?
Mavambo is not even a registered party. So how do you suspend Dr Makoni?”
The official alleged that the group spearheading efforts to stage a “palace coup” wanted to unjustly reward themselves before any proper structures had been put in place.
“They want resources which Dr Makoni doesn’t want to release,” he said.
Asked why Makoni was refusing to share, he retorted: “He is not refusing to share. The idea is that resources will be released to the official party.
“Some of the characters (in the anti-Makoni lobby) are known and have been dismissed from everything they have done in their lives. No one is taking them seriously,” said the official in thinly-veiled attack on Major Mbudzi, who was sacked from Zanu-PF where he was Masvingo party spokesman before joining MKD movement.
Asked what stage preparations had reached in transforming MKD into the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD), the delay which has prompted shrill calls for Makoni’s ouster, the top official said: “That process of forming a party is taking place.
“The whole idea of forming a party is crystallizing. The likelihood of a party being announced in this quarter is very high. We want to form a formal and credible party.”
The anti-Makoni lobby is also accusing him of taking instructions from Retired General Solomon Tapfumaneyi Mujuru, alleged to be his handler from Zanu-PF. The wealthy retired general is the husband of Vice President Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru has declined to comment on his association with Makoni or on whether he is the brains behind the Mavambo movement.
By Lance Guma
06 February 2009
MDC MP and lawyer, Douglas Mwonzora, has denied press reports suggesting MP’s are now allowed to switch political parties in parliament without losing their seats. On Thursday both ZANU PF and the MDC united to pass a constitutional amendment in parliament to give legal life to the shaky power sharing deal signed last year in September. Reports quoted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa saying, ‘floor-crossing will now be a permanent feature in our constitution.’ Mwonzora however told Newsreel Amendment 19 had actually resolved an anomaly that arose between rules that applied to senators and those that were meant for MP’s.
Under the old constitution MPs who switched parties, automatically lost their seats, but that same clause was silent on whether this applied to Senators as well. Thursday’s amendment closed that loophole and barred even Senators from crossing the floor. What this means is that before Thursday, Senators from both parties could have actually switched parties without losing their seat. Mwonzora explained that when former ZANU PF heavyweight Edgar Tekere left ZANU PF to form his own party he took his Mutare parliamentary seat with him. This is what led to the floor crossing law being introduced and it is referred to in legal circles as the ‘Tekere Amendment.’
A Tsvangirai MDC insider said they would be comfortable with any floor crossing allowance, because they are confident none of their MP’s will be willing to risk their political careers by joining a tainted ZANU PF party. But others expressed worries it would open the door for ZANU PF to use ill-gotten wealth to bribe impressionable MP’s in the MDC. Last year an MDC MP in Bulawayo claimed she had been offered a luxury vehicle and money to run her business, if she agreed to vote for a ZANU PF backed, speaker of parliament.
Newsreel sources say both ZANU PF and the Tsvangirai MDC could use such a provision if it existed ‘to fish for MP’s from the smaller Mutambara MDC.’ Last year a rebellion by MP’s in the faction threatened to sink the party. Seven out of 10 MP’s threatened to quit the party over allegations Mutambara was on the verge of a bilateral unity deal with Mugabe. The story on the unity deal turned out to be untrue, but the acrimony created tense relations between the party leadership most of whom lost parliamentary elections. MP’s also felt they were being sidelined from important decisions.
South Africa had a similar system of floor crossing which proved disastrous. In April 2006 the Democratic Alliance and Inkatha Freedom Party both pointed to the system as being prone to bribery and corruption. The then DA party leader Tony Leon said, ‘floor crossing has alienated voters who feel that their vote can be used and abused by unprincipled politicians and political parties. Patronage politics, one-party dominance, opposition fragmentation and the betrayal of voters' wishes are all factors that contributed to the DA's decision to submit a bill to repeal floor-crossing in its entirety,’ he said.
Whether Zimbabwe is now treading on the same path already traveled by neighbouring South Africa remains to be seen.
February 6, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE, MDC secretary-general, Tendai Biti, could find himself out in the cold amid revelations he could be assigned to party duties outside the envisaged unity government between his party and Zanu-PF.
Biti and MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai have, of late, not been the best of friends, differing on whether the party should join in the unity government with the Mugabe regime or not.
The firebrand lawyer has been opposed to the idea of “going to bed with the Mugabe regime” while Tsvangirai now appears happy with the resolve to join the unity government, sources within the party’s national executive have said.
Biti, the sources add, fears a situation where after the formation of the unity government, Zanu-PF could destroy the MDC from close range as it would now be able to dictate the pace and direction of policy issues in the new government.
There is also fear that Mugabe, desperately seeking recognition of his government through retaining the presidency in the new establishment, could use the MDC to persuade Great Britain and her allies to lift sanctions and then dump the party afterwards.
The sources said while Biti was trying by all means to advise Tsvangirai to be cautious in engaging and going to bed with Zanu-PF, the MDC leader was convinced Mugabe had backed down on his former hostile stance towards the party, hence it would be ideal to enter into a partnership with him before he changes tack.
“The crisis that our party leadership faces at the moment is the difference of opinion between the president and a number of his backers, on one hand, and Biti and his backers, on the other hand,” said a source close to deliberations at national executive council level.
“There seems to be a yawning gap between the two because their approaches in dealing with Zanu-PF have proved to be far different. The two are no longer the best of friends and this is likely to cause further divisions within the party.”
Another source revealed that already, there were pointers the differences between Biti and Tsvangirai had reached boiling point.
The source disclosed Biti’s name had been excluded from a list of the potential MDC ministers to sit in the new envisaged government.
The list, however, is said to be kept under lock and key as Tsvangirai was still playing his cards close to his chest on who was likely to be part of the new establishment.
Under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed in Harare last September, Zanu-PF will provide 15 ministers, while the Tsvangirai-led MDC will appoint 13 ministers, with three reserved for the Mutambara-led MDC.
Mugabe, under the agreement, retains his executive presidency, while Tsvangirai becomes the country’s prime minister with Mutambara one of two deputy prime ministers. The other deputy prime minister is Thokozani Khupe, Tsvangirai’s deputy in the mainstream MDC.
Said the source: “Everybody waits with bated breath to hear who will be a minister and who will be out. As of now, the (MDC) president is working on these names obviously with his trusted lieutenants and it will take time for the names to be known.
“One assurance that party members who have been following events at the party are aware of is that Biti could find himself in the cold or could walk out of the whole thing completely. He still has time on his side to start a new life elsewhere.”
But Biti told The Zimbabwe Times: “The onus is on the party to decide who goes into the animal called a government of national unity with Zanu-PF. I am not at liberty to dictate what the party thinks is best for this country. Let the process (of forming the new government) take place and let us see who will be part of it.”
Party spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa also said there was need for patience as the government formulation process was not an easy task.
“People should wait. We are a few days away from the (SADC) deadline of forming a new government. What is the rush about names and who will be part of it. That is a process and we should all be patient for the outcome,” Chamisa said.
Should he be left in the cold, our sources say, Biti would be expected to lead the reform of party structures which the sources argue could be the only opportunity availed to him to maneuver his way towards being the best candidate to being the next leader of the MDC.
by Nokuthula Sibanda Saturday 07 February 2009
* * * * * * * * *
RAYMOND MAJONGWE . . . wants the least paid teacher to earn US$ 2 200 per month
The Zimbabwe government has called on all teachers who have not yet reported for duty to do so or face replacement.
Secretary for Education, Sport and Culture Stephen Mahere on Thursday said teachers who do not report for duty by Monday next week would be replaced.
"Where there may still be vacancies after 9 February such vacancies should be filled by engaging student teachers on teaching practice, retired teachers and other temporary teachers," Mahere said.
Thousands of Zimbabwean teachers went on strike demanding better working conditions, and lately remuneration in foreign currency as the new school term started on January 27, highlighting the country’s deepening crisis.
Mahere, who two weeks ago directed school heads to take disciplinary action against teachers who failed to report for duty, expressed disappointment that critical time meant for student development was being lost due to lack of teaching at most schools.
"Given the importance of education to the development of the child and the importance of a strong bond between the teacher and learner, the education system cannot afford to lose anymore time," he said.
He said of concern was the low turnout of teachers at former Group B and council schools.
Mahere said government was aware of the teachers' concerns and was doing everything possible to address the challenges.
He advised teachers experiencing specific challenges to approach their school heads or responsible authorities for assistance.
Very little learning took place at public schools in 2008 as teachers spent the better part of the year striking for more pay or sitting at home because they could not afford bus fare to work on their meagre salaries.
Political violence that swept across the country following the defeat of President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party in elections in March further disrupted learning, particularly in rural areas as teachers fled to the safety of urban areas.
The militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), one of two unions representing teachers in the country, has said it wanted the least paid teacher to earn US$ 2 200 per month, claiming that army generals and top government officials were being paid in hard cash.
The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) has also said it had since last October lobbied the government to pay teachers in US dollars because nearly every basic commodity or service provider is charging in hard cash.
Paying teachers in forex would also help stem a severe brain that has seen thousands of teachers leave the country for better paying jobs abroad, according to ZIMTA chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu.
Since schools opened on January 27 this year, attendance of both teachers and pupils has been low at most rural and high-density schools as most parents are failing to raise the required fees in foreign currency while some teachers have left the profession.
With its value eroded daily by the world’s highest inflation of more than 231 million percent, the Zimbabwe dollar is nearly worthless, and both consumers and traders are increasingly shunning the currency in favour of hard cash.
A collapsed currency is the most visible sign of Zimbabwe’s deepening economic and humanitarian crisis that is also seen in rising acute shortages of food and basic commodities, amid outbreaks of killer diseases such as cholera and anthrax.
The crisis has triggered a severe brain drain with thousands of skilled professionals, among them teachers, bankers, lawyers, doctors and engineers fleeing Zimbabwe to go abroad seeking better pay and living conditions.
The PTUZ said more than 35 000 teachers left the profession last year in search of greener pastures in neighboring countries, especially South Africa and Botswana.
The union says the country requires 150 000 qualified teachers for effective teaching but has plus or minus 75 000 teachers with nearly half of them untrained.
Zimbabweans hope a government of national unity between Mugabe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, who heads a breakaway faction of the MDC could pull the country from its crises.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) last week directed Zimbabwe’s rival political parties to urgently form the unity government, ordering that outstanding issues be dealt with between the parties’ negotiators before a unity government is put in place by February 13.
by Own Correspondent
Saturday 07 February 2009
Zimbabwe's new coalition government may not extradite Ethiopia's former Marxist ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam, an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party official told reporters on Friday.
The MDC, which has agreed to form an inclusive government with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party, said it would seriously consider extraditing Mengistu if it were forming a government by itself.
"But what we are going to have is a government of national unity, and decisions there will have to be reached through some consensus and I don't know whether that's going to be possible," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
Mengistu fled to Zimbabwe in 1991 following an armed uprising against his rule and was granted political asylum by his old friend, Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe government last year said it would not extradite former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu who was sentenced to death by his country’s supreme court for human rights abuses during his 17-year reign.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Mengistu would remain under the protection of the government, pointing out that the former dictator gave valuable support to nationalists fighting for Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain.
Mengistu, a former army colonel who ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991 with an iron fist, was last May sentenced to death alongside 18 of his former senior officials.
The Ethiopian Supreme Court quashed a life sentence imposed on Mengistu by a lower court saying the sentence was not commensurate to the gravity of the crimes committed by the former dictator and his cohorts.
Mengistu, a self-styled Marxist driven from power by Meles Zenawe’s armed rebels, has ever since his overthrow spent his time in the lap of luxury in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.
Some experts say 150 000 university students, intellectuals and politicians were killed in a nationwide purge by Mengistu's regime, though no one knows for sure how many suspected opponents were killed.
Human Rights Watch described the 1977-78 campaign known as the Red Terror as "one of the most systematic uses of mass murder by a state ever witnessed in Africa".
Mengistu, who now reportedly works as a security consultant to Mugabe, is said to have advised the Zimbabwean leader to pre-empt a possible mass revolt by depopulating opposition-supporting urban areas through the controversial slum-clearing exercise in 2005.
The slum demolition exercise, condemned by the United Nations as a violation of poor people’s rights, left at least 700 000 Zimbabweans without home or food while another 2.4 million people were also indirectly affected by the clean-up exercise.
Zimbabwe’s political rivals are in the process of forming a unity government as directed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) last week.
Mugabe will remain President in the coalition government while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai becomes Prime Minister and rebel opposition faction leader Arthur Mutambara takes up one of the two Deputy Premier’s post.
The extent of the MDC's influence in the new administration remains unclear.
Yoseph Kiros, the special prosecutor during the trial of Mengistu and other senior officers, welcomed any chance that prospects for extraditing Mengistu could have improved, saying any such decision by Zimbabwe "would bestow great honour on that country".
2009 02 07
Crossborder transport operators in Beitbridge have over the past few days reported a slump in business following the recent introduction of payment of duty in foreign currency for all imported goods by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
Transport operators said the number of crossborder traders going to South Africa had since the latest development gone down, resulting in a drop in business.
"We normally rely on these people who cross into South Africa daily to buy groceries, building materials and other goods for resale back home, but since the introduction of duty in foreign currency the number of these people has since gone
down and we are no longer getting meaningful business," said Mr Muvhuso Muleya, one of the transporters.
Zimra and the New Limpopo Bridge Company last week also switched to foreign currency, the road access fees and toll bridge fees.
All motorists entering Zimbabwe are now required to pay 100 rand road access fee, which until recently was $ 500 billion.
However, light vehicles either entering or leaving Zimbabwe are now supposed to pay 100 rand toll fee for using the bridge while heavy vehicles are to pay 150 rand.
Prior to the latest development, motorists were paying between $ 500 billion and $ 1 trillion depending on the day’s inter-bank exchange rate.
In the past, only foreign-registered vehicles were required to pay in foreign currency. - Beitbridge Bureau.
2009 02 07
A driver with the United States Agency for International Development, who is accused of attempting to assassinate Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, has been denied bail.
High Court judge Justice Alfas Chitakunye yesterday dismissed the application for bail by Frank Muchirahondo.
He was arrested on January 22 at Forbes Border Post in Mutare en route to Mozambique. In his ruling, Justice Chitakunye accepted the State’s contention that if Muchirahondo was granted bail he would abscond.
The court also noted that Muchirahondo was facing a serious charge that attracted a lengthy term of imprisonment, which could induce him to flee.
Muchirahondo was denied bail by the Bindura Magistrates’ Courts where he appeared last month facing charges of attempted murder.
Through his lawyer Mr Bernard Chidziva, Muchirahondo petitioned the court to release him on bail saying he was innocent.
Mr Chidziva cited the weakness of the State’s case as the basis to warrant the court to grant him bail.
He argued that the affidavit by the investigating officer contained unsubstantiated allegations that made it impossible to create a reasonable suspicion warranting the incarceration of Muchirahondo.
But the prosecution insisted Muchirahondo was the only person seen leaving the scene after the shooting and was driving a high-powered Toyota Land Cruiser. To allay the prosecution’s fears, the lawyer suggested that his client be granted bail coupled with stringent conditions.
But Mr Beaven Marevenhema of the Attorney-General’s Office urged the court to reject the defence’s application saying there was overwhelming evidence against Muchirahondo.
He said Muchirahondo was facing a serious offence that attracted a lengthy jail term upon conviction.
Mr Marevenhema said Muchirahondo’s employers displayed an intention to facilitate his departure from Zimbabwe and said Muchirahondo was not co-operative with the police.
The State alleges that Muchirahondo shot and injured Air Marshal Shiri on the night of December 10, 2008 as the AFZ chief was driving to his farm in Shamva, hitting him in the right palm at around 8:30pm.
2009 02 07
HEALTH professionals across the country have started receiving allowances in foreign currency as an emergency measure to keep the health sector going, the United Nations Children’s Fund has said.
Unicef spokesperson Miss Tsitsi Singizi said her organisation budgeted enough for all health employees in Zimbabwe but that payments were being made only to staff reporting for work.
"We would like to re-emphasise that this is only a top-up allowance to health workers’ salaries and that it is not our responsibility to pay them. It remains Government’s responsibility to pay salaries for its employees," Miss Singizi said. The payments, which began on Tuesday with Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals staff, are expected to extend to other parts of the country by next week.
Miss Singizi said the allowances were worked out using the salary scale provided by Government.
"We did not come up with our own figures. Instead, stakeholders, in conjunction with Government, agreed to use the Government salary scale to come up with the figures," she said.
Miss Singizi was responding to concerns about some of the amounts received by employees, which are as low as US$ 10, while some nurses and junior doctors who last reported for work in November did not receive anything.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association president Dr Kudakwashe Chimedza described the development as "unfair" and likely to worsen the situation in public health institutions.
"We were not coming to work because we did not have money. When we resolved to call off the strike, it was after a promise that we would be given allowances. But now that they have neglected us, we have no option but to stay at home," Dr Chimedza said.
He said most of those who had benefited from the allowances were administration staff.
"It’s not fair. Most people who got the allowances were from administration and none from nurses or junior doctors," he said.
Junior doctors and nurses returned to work on Monday last week, but most of them had not started work as they were still setting up equipment in the departments which had been closed due to the strike.
6 February 2009
A United Nations humanitarian mission will be going later this month to Zimbabwe, where the worst ever cholera outbreak in the country's history has now claimed almost 3,400 lives, the world body announced today.
The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said that as of 5 February, nearly 68,000 cases of cholera have been reported since the outbreak began last August, and of those, 3,371 people have died.
The mission, led by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will visit the southern African nation from 21 to 25 February and will also include the participation of WHO, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had announced on Monday that he would send such a mission to Zimbabwe, following his meeting with President Robert Mugabe on the margins of the recent African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
Mr. Ban had urged Mr. Mugabe to take immediate steps to address the humanitarian and economic crises plaguing the country, uphold the human rights and democratic freedoms of all Zimbabweans, and promote national reconciliation, as he welcomed the power-sharing deal reached by the Government and the opposition.
Ecumenical News International (Geneva)
6 February 2009
In its release from Zimbabwe it stated, "We realise that this is not a triumph of African solutions and principles but a reproach because it indicates that the voice of the people as stated democratically through the ballot box in March 2008 has not been recognised or respected.
"It is our sincere hope and prayer, however, that God Almighty will intervene and this transitional arrangement will lead to real democracy and consequently to justice, reconciliation, peace and prosperity to our troubled land. At present the people of Zimbabwe are rather suspicious and anxious. They need confidence building measures to be put in place to indicate sincerity and the political will to transform the country."
On 6 February, a Zimbabwean judge dropped charges of treason against the secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change party's, Tendai Biti, who had had faced a possible death sentence after being accused of plotting a coup against President Robert Mugabe.
On the same day in Geneva, the World Health Organization, citing figures from Zimbabwe's health ministry, said that a cholera outbreak in the southern African country has killed 3371 people and infected 67 945 since it began in August.
The ZCA said it was anxious to see success for the national unity government agreement hammered out in Pretoria.
"The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough," said the Christian grouping. "We would, therefore, like to see a number of actions by the inclusive government to prove that they hold the welfare and the interests of the people of Zimbabwe above their own political power."
The alliance's demands included:
- Establishment of the rule of law established in the country immediately and all political prisoners released forthwith.
- Measures be taken to ensure agencies of government are be apolitical in their delivery of services.
- That NGO's be free to distribute food and other commodities without interference from government.
- That the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe returns to its original mandate of keeping the resources and distributing them as directed by the government, "instead of meddling in politics and serving partisan interests".
- That the framework of issues of transitional justice and reconciliation be worked out together with the Church to heal the "cancer at the heart of the nation".
- That the constitutional reform process begins according to the schedule agreed to and that the process will allow all Zimbabweans to contribute meaningfully to the process.
From The Times
February 7, 2009
Martin Fletcher in Harare
Winfilda Potoroya’s family could not begin to afford two or three hundred dollars for a proper funeral when the 36-year-old mother died of Aids last week.
So they improvised: they paid the police a Z$ 40 bribe to avoid the costs of transporting her body to the mortuary, having a postmortem examination and obtaining a death certificate. They cut a wardrobe in half for a coffin and put a mattress beneath her decomposing corpse when it began leaking fluids. They rented a street vendor’s trolley for another Z$ 10 and wheeled the makeshift coffin eight miles (12km) to a patch of common land that has become an unofficial cemetery for Zimbabwe’s poorest. There they paid Z$ 1 for a plot and laid their mother to rest - mattress and all - in a hole they dug themselves.
The whole affair cost Z$ 51 (less than 1p), raised largely through donations from friends and neighbours, but it was hardly a dignified send-off. Mrs Potoroya’s body was wrapped in old blankets, not the customary shroud. Barely a dozen mourners attended the burial because the family could not afford food for a wake. Her headstone will be an old wooden board.
The manner of her burial has merely compounded her family’s grief. “I’m very upset . . . The way she was buried is giving me nightmares,” said her daughter, Memory, 14, who fears that her mother’s spirit will be angry. “It’s very painful, but when you have no money what can you do?” asked Edisi Masarambani, 74, Mrs Potoroya’s grandmother.
Such stories are common in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, where 3,000 people a week die from Aids alone, life expectancy is the lowest in the world and 94 per cent are unemployed. It has become a country where millions can barely afford to live but the cost of dying is even more prohibitive. “For many a death in the family is financially an absolute disaster,” said Oscar Wermter, a Jesuit priest who works in Mbare, one of Harare’s poorest districts, and often receives desperate appeals for help from the bereaved.
In happier times Zimbabweans clubbed together to form burial societies, paying monthly dues into a common pot that would finance funerals, but with saved money halving in value almost daily most have long since collapsed.
An official told The Times that each month roughly 50 adults and 180 children receive paupers’ burials in mass graves at Harare’s municipal Granville cemetery. Father Wermter said that such conduct showed “the depth and enormity of [Zimbabwe’s] present disaster . . . Shona culture believes in the ongoing relationship between the living and the dead, and not to bury a person properly would cause people to be gripped by terrible fear that their ancestors might take revenge.”
Roadside vendors sell flimsy coffins for Z$ 50 but even if they had the money there is another reason why Zimbabweans might hesitate to spend lavishly nowadays. The graveyards attract thieves. Expensive coffins have to be covered in concrete so that they are not plundered for their brass handles. Slabs of plain granite vanish within days. “It’s rampant,” the owner of a gravestone company said. On the rare occasions when he sells a tombstone he makes sure that its surfaces are all covered with inscriptions.
Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System (RSA)
Date: 06 Feb 2009
Title: Zimbabwe's senate passes Constitution Amendment Bill
Zimbabwe's Senate has passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 19, paving the way for the establishment of an inclusive government.
The Bill now awaits the signature of President Robert Mugabe to enact it into law after 72 senators who were in the House Thursday voted for its passage with no votes cast against it.
The Lower House had earlier on Thursday endorsed the deal which will see the country's main political parties forming a coalition government, expected to be in place by the end of next week.
President Mugabe will retain the presidency under the power-sharing deal, while Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction, will be appointed Prime Minister, and Arthur Mutambara of the breakaway MDC faction the deputy prime minister.
The parties will, among other things, also share Cabinet posts.
Presenting the Bill in the Senate, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the passage of the deal would be historic as it would usher in a new era in the way Zimbabwe was governed.
A lot of hurdles had been faced and compromises made for the Bill to be acceptable to all parties, he said.
"It has been a long, frustrating, erratic, bumpy and quarrelsome journey characterized by animosities, disagreements, mutual dislikes, name calling, mutual demonisations, vilifications of each other's policies and leaderships," Mr Chinamasa told the Senate.
"But, notwithstanding the negatives, what is important and significant is that we have managed to reach this far and for that we remain forever grateful to our people and for their resilience, understanding and support."
Mr Chinamasa gave a brief account of how the negotiations between President Mugabe's Zanu PF and the MDC factions began way back in 2002 but had met various setbacks until finally an agreement was signed last year.
Following the passage of the Bill, he said "it is now time for the inclusive government train to leave the station" to applause from senators.
A representative of the Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC, Sekai Holland, traditional chiefs' representative Chief Fortune Charumbira as well as David Coltart, a representative of the smaller MDC faction, told Senate it was vital for all parties to the deal to support it, as it was one instrument which would take the country forward.
Admitting that the Bill was imperfect, they all agreed that it was the only viable solution to addressing the seemingly insurmountable challenges Zimbabwe was facing.
"The Bill is flawed and has many potential pitfalls but that is inevitable because what we are debating is a product of compromise," said Mr Coltart.
"This process will not work unless we listen to each other."
The Bill has both permanent and temporary amendments of the Zimbabwe Constitution.
The temporary amendments would only be in effect for as long as the inclusive government is in place.
Formation of the inclusive government has taken more than five months after the initial signing of the agreements as a result of hardline stances taken by both Zanu PF and the MDC over issues that the latter wanted addressed before joining the envisaged government.
The Tsvangirai-led MDC finally agreed to participate in the government last Friday. - BuaNews-NNN
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
2009 02 06 ~
Another week of waiting for an end to the nightmare that is Zimbabwe in 2009. When I wrote last week we thought we were on the verge of a solution - however imperfect it was. After all SADC in their wisdom had even given us the precise dates when all the various steps would be taken that would install a so-called Government of National Unity. Surely nothing could be easier; rather like a kids’ picture book game, all the politicians had to do was to join up the dots and the picture would emerge. The cameras showed us hundreds of people waiting on the streets outside Harvest House for Morgan Tsvangirai to tell them that he had done his part. He had agreed to join the GNU subject to the settlement of outstanding issues. Was Zimbabwe at last on the way to a settlement that would bring Zimbabwe back into the community of democratic nations?
As the week progressed, it became very clear that Zanu PF were playing their usual childish but deadly games. First, they delayed the necessary tabling of the Constitutional Amendment that would install Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister and Arthur Mutambara as his Deputy. Zanu said it had no mandate to take such a step; what they really meant was that Robert Mugabe was out of the country and without his presence they were unwilling to act. And where was the Dear Leader at this crucial time in the country’s history?
No sooner had Morgan Tsvangirai announced he would join the GNU Robert Mugabe had flown off to the AU summit in Addis Ababa where his old comrade, Muammar Gaddafi was installed as the new head of the AU. In reality, of course, Mugabe was touting for support - or was it for fuel and arms - from his African brothers. Meanwhile, at home the police and the courts continued to act as if nothing had changed: Jestina Mukoko and the other activists were refused bail again; students were arrested for demonstrating against the announcement by the University of Zimbabwe’s announcement that they would all have to find $ 400 US entrance fee to sit their end of semester exams. MDC’s Star Rally, due to be held last Sunday was cancelled by the police and even more significantly, Tendayi Biti’s treason trial was postponed. Biti faces two charges: one, that he pre-empted the announcement of election results by announcing that the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai had won the March election. This was after the ZEC had delayed announcing the results for five weeks and two, that Biti had written and published a letter calling for the unconstitutional overthrow of Robert Mugabe’s government. It is no coincidence that Tendayi Biti is one of the chief negotiators in the MDC’s team. By holding the threat of a treason trial over his head and by refusing bail for the other activists it is clear what game Mugabe and Zanu are playing. Once again they are using the judiciary and the police to ensure they have the upper hand; it is in effect blackmail: play the game according to our rules or your people will face capital charges which, incidentally, carry the death sentence in Zimbabwe.
However much people, and I include myself, want to believe that the GNU will bring peace to our troubled land, what is abundantly clear is that we are dealing with a vicious and corrupt regime that simply does not know the meaning of the word ‘Truth’. All along the state-controlled media have sought to portray the MDC as a party of western puppets bent on bringing back colonial rule to Zimbabwe. The truth is that the only unity Zanu PF is interested in is one that will allow them to get their hands on international investment. Here’s what Bright Matonga said to the BBC, “We will respect property rights, we will respect the issue of declaration and repatriation of dividends. So really we are inviting people in manufacturing, in tourism, in farming, in mining.” And in the very week Matonga made this remark, the President’s wife seized the farm of one Judge Ben Hlatshwayo.
The learned judge had himself seized the farm from a prominent and highly successful white farmer and is said to be furious at Grace Mugabe’s action. She apparently wants the farm as a gift for her son from her first marriage. So much for respect for property rights; rumour has it that Judge Hlatshwayo will sue Grace Mugabe. How will they ever find an honest judge to preside when we all know the judges have themselves been guilty of similar thefts! No honour among thieves is the phrase that comes to mind.
Finally, on Thursday the Constitutional Amendment was passed unanimously in the Lower House and subject to its passing through the Senate, Morgan Tsvangirai will be sworn in as Prime Minister on Wednesday February 11th. Despite this, the US and the EU will not lift sanctions or resume financial aid until they are convinced that there is genuine power sharing. They say that a week is a long time in politics; in Zanu PF politics it can be a death sentence and who knows what dirty tricks they may still have up their sleeves before this next week is out. As Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC prepare to share power with Zanu PF the ‘political analysts’ will be out in force no doubt, predicting doom and condemning Tsvangirai for ‘selling out’ but for the suffering masses it is a tiny glimmer, no more, of hope. “ Let us make no mistake,” said Morgan Tsvangirai in his statement announcing his party’s decision, “by joining an inclusive government, we are not saying this is the solution to Zimbabwe’s crisis, instead our participation signifies that we have chosen to continue the struggle for a democratic Zimbabwe in a new arena…We have the majority in parliament, we control all the main urban councils and many rural councils, we will have control of 13 ministries and a presence in the key decision-making bodies of the executive…The struggle continues.”
If this is not the end of Zimbabwe’s nightmare it is perhaps the beginning of the end?
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH. aka Pauline Henson author of Countdown a political detective story based in Zimbabwe and available on Lulu.com.
6 February 09
The peer review sessions of the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council are being misused by countries to praise allies and criticize enemies instead of highlighting genuine cases of abuse, a non-governmental human rights group said today.
According to a 124-page study by the Geneva-based U.N. Watch, entitled “Mutual Praise Society,” only 8 of the 47 member states of the Human Rights Council, including Canada, France and Britain, took a constructive approach to scrutinizing each other’s human rights records.
U.N. Watch rated the performance of 32 other countries-including Russia, Iran, China and Cuba-as detrimental to destructive. The report evaluated 300 speeches made by 55 countries, including several that participate in the council as non-voting observers.
“While the U.N. promised to reform itself with a procedure that would hold all countries to account on an objective and equal basis, and help human rights victims worldwide, instead the council has turned into a mutual praise society, giving a free pass to the world’s worst abusers,” said U.N. Watch director Hillel Neuer.
“This week alone, we saw Libya praise Cuba for ‘promoting freedom of thought and expression,’ when Havana continues to keep human rights defenders and journalists behind bars,” said Neuer. “And today China praised Saudi Arabia for its record on women’s rights, when they can neither vote nor drive a car.”
“But it’s not just repressive regimes protecting each other. Many democracies, too, are failing to review countries seriously, with some-like India, South Africa and Uruguay-undermining the process by congratulating countries for practices that deserve condemnation,” said Neuer.
The Saudi representative told the council today that, “We do not have a religious problem with women driving, but our polls shows 80 percent do not believe that women should drive cars, and we respect the wishes of people and respect gradual developments.”
Key Findings and Recommendations
1. The primary innovation of the UN Human Rights Council is its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, which is meant to review the human rights records of all 192 UN member states, once every four years. According to the Council’s Institution-Building Package of 2007, UPR’s objectives are to achieve “the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground” in the country under review, and “the fulfilment of the State’s human rights obligations and commitments.” Reviews are to be conducted in an “objective,” “non-selective” and “non politicized” manner.
2. The substantial data compiled in this study reveals, however, that the reviews conducted by the vast majority of countries participating in the UPR process are failing to achieve its stated purpose. More than 300 UPR interventions were analyzed and evaluated, as detailed in 12 country charts. Out of 55 countries examined-including all 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council-only 19 had average scores indicating that they contributed positively. Tragically, a majority of 32 out of 55 countries acted as a mutual praise society, misusing the process in order to legitimize human rights abusers, instead of holding them to account. (Four were neither positive nor negative: two with average scores of 0, and another two having made no interventions in any of the country reviews examined.)
3. As shown in Table 1, of the 19 countries with overall positive scores-who properly used the UPR process to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms-Canada was the only country that ranked as VERY CONSTRUCTIVE. It was the most consistent in vigorously challenging countries on specific human rights issues, with strong interventions that support the UPR’s purpose of reminding countries of their responsibilities in order to help victims and address human rights violations wherever they occur. We recommend that Canada continue to hold all countries to account, particularly the world’s worst abusers, and that other countries follow.
4. Close behind were France, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, all of whom were rated as CONSTRUCTIVE. We recommend that these nations-which include some the world’s leading democracies-undertake to do better. While it is in the nature of governments to balk at confronting other countries for fear of affecting friendly diplomatic relations, human rights cannot be neglected, and countries must live up to their obligations as participants in the UPR process. The UN member states that conduct UPR will only engender accountability from the country under review, and thereby protect human rights victims, to the extent that they pose tough and specific questions for each country under review.
5. Another 10 countries were found to have made contributions to the review process that were positive, yet WEAK: Argentina, Australia, Bosnia, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, South Korea and Zambia. That so many respected democracies choose to ask soft questions, shying away from pointedly addressing violations and ensuring scrutiny, is unacceptable. We urge a dramatic shift in approach by countries that should be leading by example. (Included also in this same category were two countries whose contributions were neither positive nor negative: Cameroon and Ukraine.)
6. The rankings in Table 1 reflect only the average quality of interventions made. They do not measure the quantity of statements, the statistics for which are available in Tables 2 and 3. Switzerland, for example, spoke only in 6 out of the 12 country reviews examined in this report. Similarly, the United States spoke in only 7 of the 12 reviews, and of late has been silent at UPR sessions. Argentina, Bosnia, Chile and Slovakia spoke only a handful of times. We recommend that all countries-in particular, those who are members of the Human Rights Council-fulfill their duties by participating meaningfully in the UPR process.
7. Regrettably, a majority of the countries examined in this report not only failed to fulfill the stated objective of UPR, but acted to undermine it. Their interventions praised and covered up for the country reviewed, effectively blocking, undermining and spoiling genuine scrutiny of violations. When violators are granted impunity, victims are let down. This group includes five countries whose interventions were rated as DETRIMENTAL: Bolivia, Ghana, Russia, South Africa and Uruguay. Even worse, 11 countries were rated in their performance as VERY DETRIMENTAL: Angola, Egypt, Jordan, India, Iran, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.
8. The 16 worst UPR performers of all, however-countries that specifically praised, legitimized and encouraged country policies and practices that violate human rights-were rated as DESTRUCTIVE: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Syria, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
9. The report demonstrates that bloc affiliations played an important role in determining how countries reviewed each other. For example, as a rule, members of the 57-strong Organization of the Islamic Conference strongly praised each other’s records. As a result, some of the poorest overall reviews were those performed on Algeria, Bahrain, Morocco and Tunisia, closely followed by Pakistan and Uzbekistan. We urge all UN members states not to allow bloc politics to override their obligation to conduct UPR reviews in an objective, non-selective and non-politicized manner.
10. While almost all of the countries that acted positively in UPR rank as free democracies under the annual survey by Freedom House, not all free democracies acted positively. On average, the UPR interventions of Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mauritius, Senegal, South Africa and Uruguay undermined human rights, while those of Ukraine were neither negative nor positive. It is time for democratic countries at the UN to act like democracies.
11. Each of the 12 country charts in this report begins with a list of human rights violations committed by the country under review, as documented by respected human rights NGOs, along with a link to the official UN compilation of NGO submissions on that country’s record. Regrettably, as the charts show, most country interventions failed to consider this NGO information, and failed to address the most prevalent human rights violations.
12. We urge the Human Rights Council to allow reliable NGO information to play a far greater role. We recommend an end to the exclusion of NGOs from the oral debate of review sessions. Moreover, in the modest time currently allotted to NGOs during the Human Rights Council’s plenary sessions that treat each UPR report, the freedom of speech of NGOs must be protected. States that frivolously interrupt NGOs on one or another pretext should be disciplined by the council President. At the same time, the UN secretariat should beware of submissions by “GONGOs”-phony, government-controlled NGOs-that seek to subvert the system.
See online: Full Text of the Report at -
Claudio Schuftan, Laura Turiano and Abhay Shukla
6 February 2009
Over the last two years, the People's Health Movement (PHM) campaign has advanced significantly in Africa.
It now has active, funded campaigns in the DR Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo and Cameroon, with Zimbabwe and South Africa also involved (without receiving PHM funding), as well as advanced negotiations to launch the campaign in Senegal and Djibouti. Elsewhere, new PHM circles have been formed in the last three months in Mali, Kenya, Morocco and Uganda, where representatives will be submitting campaign proposals shortly. The countries that are on the verge of completing the assessment are now eligible for small, additional funding to hold national workshops through which to present the results to their respective governments, along with UN agencies, international and national NGOs and the media.
To put the People's Health Movement campaign in perspective, we wanted to share with Pambazuka readers the principle in which it is based. The progressive weakening of public health systems, the growing privatisation of healthcare and the erosion of universal access to healthcare are worldwide phenomena. The health sector globally is still dominated by vertical and technocentric approaches, often supported by 'public-private partnerships' active at several levels.
There is therefore an urgent need to replace this dominant discourse with a process aimed at universally achieving the 'right to health and to healthcare' as the main objective. In this way, we can hope to achieve more equitable healthcare systems in both developing and developed countries. To counter and reverse the tide promoting 'healthcare as a commodity', there is a need to establish a global consensus on 'healthcare as a right'. Human rights violations are not accidents, they are not random in distribution or effect and are acutely linked to social conditions. It is the socio-political forces at work that determine the risk of most forms of human rights violations. Our understanding of human rights violations is thus based on broader analyses of power and social inequality and their social, economic and political determinants. The promotion of equity is the central ingredient for respecting human rights in health. It is mostly the poor who are the victims and they have too little voice and no influence, let alone rights. It is inequities of power that prevent the poor from accessing the opportunities they need to move out of poverty. Structures and not just individuals must be changed if this state of affairs is to change.
Since laws designed to protect human rights and the right to health are mostly not applied, what additional measures have to be taken?
This is what the People's Health Movement's 'Right to Health and Health Care Campaign' (RTHHC) sets out to explore. It is not enough to improve the situation of the poor within existing social relationships. Rights are claimed through social action and the latter depends on how power is distributed and used to address health issues. Human rights legislation alone - without enforcement mechanisms - is not up to the task of relieving suffering already at hand. Rights are not equal to laws, they are realised through social action and by changing prevailing power relations. Rights cannot be advanced but through the organised efforts of the state and of civil society. To work on behalf of the victims of violations of the right to health invariably means becoming deeply involved in pressing for social and economic rights.
Public health must be linked to a return to social justice. Denial of care to those who do not pay is simply legitimised in the free-market system. The commoditisation of healthcare changes people from citizens with rights to consumers with (or without) purchasing power. This leaves those who are economically marginalised also marginalised from accessing comprehensive healthcare. The global campaign proposed by the PHM is a step in the direction outlined above, seeking the social transformations indispensable to resolving the current inequities found in health.
THE RIGHT TO HEALTH: A HOLISTIC OVERVIEW
The right to health has been defined as the 'right to the enjoyment of a variety of facilities, goods, services and conditions necessary for the realization of the highest attainable standard of health'. This right includes both the right to all the underlying determinants of health (such as water, food security, housing, sanitation, education, and safe and healthy working and living environments), and the right to healthcare itself and the entire range of preventive, curative and rehabilitative services including education and activities around promoting good health.
In practice, this suggests two types of tasks for the global health movement: tackling the right to all the underlying determinants of health, and strengthening the right to healthcare. Tackling the right to the underlying determinants of health includes supporting and even co-initiating campaigns or initiatives addressing key health determinants (for example, campaigns for water, for food security, and for housing). There are initiatives already underway on behalf of these rights, initiatives which are not necessarily spearheaded by health activists. We contend that the focal point for each of these initiatives should be the organisations with the most experience and commitment to a particular issue, be it water, food security, housing, or the environment.
This recognition places an obligation on health activists to actively support and strengthen such initiatives, though not necessarily to take up the responsibility of primary leadership of such groups. When liaising with these groups, PHM will bring the health perspective to their campaigns. An additional important role that has to be played by health activists is to help document violations of the right to the underlying determinants of health, for example, by showing how the denial of food security leads to worsening malnutrition, increased morbidity and mortality. Health-based arguments can significantly strengthen the demands of claim-holders to tackle these determinants from a right-to-health perspective.
STRENGTHENING THE RIGHT TO HEALTHCARE
The global health movement has a primary and unquestionable responsibility to take the lead on the right to healthcare. We are all witnesses to the often catastrophic consequences of the lack of economic access to adequate healthcare and the poverty trap that leads to avoidable mortality.
What then does the right to health imply and what is the added value of the human rights-based approach?
In every development process, there are three types of actors: Claim-holders, duty bearers, and agents of accountability. When the state does not respect human rights, claim-holders have to demand their rights directly from the duty bearers in government, all the while interacting with agents of accountability in the form of human rights commissions, ombudsmen, and human-rights-oriented NGOs who oversee the procedures being put in place by government and make sure duty bearers fulfil their obligations, including remedies and restitutions.
If claim-holders do not do this, they are partly responsible for their situation. One can thus say that it is also the duty of those of us who are aware of human rights to generate awareness about the bases of these rights, in partnership with the marginalised and underserved groups we work with. When the right to health is violated and when the poor, the marginalised and the discriminated, as claim-holders, do not have the capacity to effectively demand their rights, these rights themselves are also violated because duty bearers do not have the capacity or the will to fulfil their obligations (technically called 'correlative duties'). Therefore, in a human rights-based approach one has to carry out three types of analyses: 1) Situation analyses in which one determines the causes of the problems by placing them in a hierarchical causality-chain of immediate, underlying and basic causes or determinants; 2) Capacity analyses in which one determines who are the individuals and institutions that bear the duty to do something about the causes identified by calling on them to fulfil their duties (as per their country's obligations as signatories of the UN human rights convention); and 3) Analysis of and liaison with accountability agents.
Herein lies the call for human rights activists to carry out rights awareness work, for instance to educate and inform broader society about what these rights mean and what accountability mechanisms should be put in place and made to work. These three types of analyses have to be carried out in conjunction with representatives from local communities and the beneficiaries of the health system so that the rights being violated can be jointly identified and those responsible also be jointly confronted in order that problems be effectively tackled. Note that the rights activist's ultimate goal is not to look for health policies that favour the poor as such; what is sought is significant poverty reduction policies that directly address the social determinants of health. As rights activists, we are no longer going to go and beg for changes to be implemented; we are now going to demand them based on existing international law already in force in most of the countries where we work.
Disseminating this concept is in itself empowering. We should note that people in countries that have not ratified these conventions have the same rights; their problem is simply that their governments have not made a commitment to honour them. PHM seeks to overcome the culture of silence and apathy about the human rights violations in health that we all know are happening, because human rights and the right to health will never be given to poor, marginalised, discriminated and indigenous persons. Rights are never given, they have to be fought for!
Fighting for these rights is precisely what PHM's global RTHHC campaign is attempting to do. As regards the added value of adopting a human-rights-based framework, several advantages come to mind: 1) A RTHHC campaign possesses big potential for social mobilisation, and this is an indispensable part of any campaign; 2) The human rights approach is backed by international law; 3) The right-to-health approach demands - from a position of strength - that decision-makers take responsibility; 4) Human rights imply correlative duties that are universal and indivisible; and 5) The human rights approach is focused on processes that lead to specific outcomes, and not simply setting goals like those underpinning the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
WHAT MAY BE REALISTICALLY ACHIEVED?
PHM has no illusion that systematically raising the issue of the 'right to health' will, by itself, lead to the complete implementation of this right in countries across the globe. The universal provision of even basic healthcare services involves major budgetary, operational and systematic changes. In addition to shifting to a rights-based framework, major political and legal reorientations are needed, and such major changes cannot be expected to happen in full in the near future, given the political economy of healthcare in most countries of the world today. PHM expects, however, to be able work on a number of more achievable objectives, objectives which can take us towards a broader human rights goal. Some of these achievable objectives to be considered are: 1) The explicit recognition of the right to healthcare at country level; 2) The formation, in some countries, of health rights monitoring bodies (accountability agents) with PHM and civil society participation; 3) A clearer delineation of health rights at both global and country levels; 4) The shifting of the focus of the World Health Organization (WHO) towards health rights and universal access systems and the strengthening of groups within the WHO that will work along these lines; 5) Putting the right to healthcare firmly on the global agenda by making it a central reference point in global health discourse; and (6) Strengthening human rights activists' networks in as many countries as possible so that all their members work around a common and broad rallying point while continuing to build partnerships.
* The People's Health Movement (PHM) is firmly committed to expanding the Right to Health and Health Care Campaign (RTHHC) in Africa. Any country not mentioned within this article is welcome to inquire with us how they can get a PHM circle going. Please contact us at email@example.com .
* Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at http://www.pambazuka.org/