January 11, 2009
By Our Reporter
HARARE - When the governor of a central bank anywhere in the world stands up
in public to deliver a speech his audience usually falls silent promptly.
Not so in Zimbabwe's north-eastern Mutoko District, apparently. Angry
villagers there, who were attending the burial of the father of a top aide
of President Robert Mugabe, recently heckled the all-powerful governor of
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon Gono, into silence.
The central bank governor is a close confidante of the Mugabe family. He has
for long been keeper of the State House purse. He has generally been accused
of making a major contribution over the past five years towards the current
collapse of Zimbabwe's economy.
When Gono stood up at Chitekwe Village to be introduced before speaking at
the burial of Amon Chimiti Kajese the villagers would not hear of it. They
heckled the hapless governor and accused him of being the chief architect of
their misery. Kajese, who died at 98, was the father of Mugabe's
long-serving chief of protocol, Samuel Munyaradzi Kajese. He was buried on
An official who attended the burial told The Zimbabwe Times, that Gono who
sat among top government officials and other dignitaries, was heckled as he
was being introduced.
"Gono was heckled, booed and insulted as he stood up to identify himself
when he was introduced as one of the dignitaries speaking at the funeral.
Villagers took him to task for his ill-advised fiscal policies and accused
him of being the architect of their misery," said the official who requested
not to be identified.
He said the villagers vented their obvious anger on the governor, hurling
such insults at him that community leaders who attempted to calm them failed
in their efforts.
"They accused Gono of not paying them for agricultural produce which they
deliver to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB)," said the source. "Others said
he was causing prices to rise while others accused him of Zimbabwe's
widespread cash shortages and the suffering of the people through the
introduction of foreign currency shops.
He said Gono's name was hastily dropped from the list of speakers to
minimize the commotion.
The burial was attended by Olivia Muchena, Webster Shamu and David
Chapfika, the Ministers of Science and Technology, of Policy Implementation
and Deputy Minister of Finance, respectively, in the ougoing government.
Also on hand to witness the humiliation of a power official by villagers
were Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe
Prison Service commissioner general, Paradzai Zimondi, and Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Director General, Happyton Bonyongwe. The
three are members of the powerful Joint Operations Command, which, apart
from the central bank governor, now also wields much power in the highly
militarized administration of the country.
The villagers also accused the government officials of wasting tax payers'
money by purchasing luxury vehicles while millions of rural dwellers wallow
in abject poverty. They protested despite the fact that they had been
treated to a sumptuous breakfast which included the now scarce bread, as
well as an even more sumptuous lunch. Lunch included meat from four beasts
slaughtered to feed otherwise starving mourners.
Government dignitaries had apparently incensed the villagers by arriving in
an in an array of the latest luxury all-terrain vehicles, including top-of
the range Land cruiser VXs, Toyota Prados, Toyota Vigos and Isuzu 4×4s.
Olivia Muchena was also heckled into silence as she delivered a speech. She
had further incensed the crowd by advising villagers against heckling their
"Muchena was certainly out of touch with the sentiment among her audience,"
said the official. "Many attended the funeral just for the food which was in
abundance. Word about the slaughter of four beasts had spread quickly around
the villages. Others knew the deceased Kajese as a United Methodist Church
reverend, who was against politics. They did not take kindly to politicking
at his funeral."
President Mugabe, who once was held in high esteem around Zimbabwe, was
recently challenged openly by one of his own relatives in his rural home
area of Zvimba in Mashonaland West.
Adoman Matibiri, Mugabe's uncle, accused the Zanu-PF leader of fanning
division within the Mugabe family at the funeral of Beatrice Matibiri,
Mugabe's cousin. The senior Mugabe said the President should not accuse
fellow family members of consulting traditional healers.
Mugabe had invited the anger of members of his clan when he told them that
family members consulted traditional healers and that Beatrice's death was
not a natural occurrence.
"I don't want to hear that someone has gone to an n'anga to find the cause
of her death," Mugabe warned his relatives.
Mugabe also complained that his own people had turned against him and were
now supporters of MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai.
The President's complaint, villagers said, was aimed at Adoman Mugabe, the
village headman, who the president believes has allowed the MDC to flourish
in the village.
After Mugabe finished speaking, his uncle stood up and started by
registering concern that he, as village head and not the President, should
have been allowed to deliver the eulogy at the burial.
Mugabe, who was sitting with his wife, Grace, interjected harshly saying
that the old man should say whatever he wanted to say and get over with it.
Mugabe is said to have left for Harare the burial in a huff.
January 11, 2009
GWANDA - A storm is brewing in Matabeleland South after Zanu-PF heavyweights
in province allegedly diverted 30 tonnes of maize seed meant for poor
peasant farmers in the region to their own personal use last week .
Spearheaded by newly elected Zanu-PF provincial chairman, Andrew Langa, and
former Gwanda legislator Abedinico Ncube a number of Zanu-PF officials had
allegedly received a share from the loot.
Sources who spoke to The Zimbabwe Times said Langa and Ncube had forced
their way into the GMB depot and demanded 30 tonnes of seed maize.
Other Zanu-PF officials who benefited from this plunder include Senate
Speaker, Simon Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, Provincial Administrator David Alfonce
Mpofu, former provincial chairman Rido Mpofu, Zanu-PF politburo member
Thenjiwe Lesabe and Patrick Hove who lost his parliamentary seat to MDC's
Siyabonga Malandu Ncube in last year's elections.
This development had reportedly irked the provincial Governor Angeline
Masuku who felt the appropriation was unfair to peasant farmers who have
been struggling to acquire seed.
Masuku reportedly turned down an allocation offered to her and threatened
instead to report the matter to President Robert Mugabe when he returns to
work next month. It is not clear why she chose to wait for Mugabe's return
from leave instead of immediately reporting the matter to the police.
The region has received good rains this season. Most farmers in the region
are yet to plant, however, due to a serious shortage of maize seed.
Agricultural expert Renson Gasela says in spite of the good rains that have
generally been received the country is heading for yet another drought as
farmers have failed to acquire maize seed.
Some farmers have resorted to sourcing maize seed on the black market were
it is exorbitantly priced. In Insiza were Langa is a Member of Parliament a
25 kg bag of maize seed costs R400.
A tonne of maize seed which can be shared among 40 people would cost a
whopping R16 000.
January 11, 2009
By Our Correspondent
BULAWAYO - Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo has written to the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) parliamentary forum to challenge the
nomination of Chimanimani senator, Monica Mutsvangwa, Zanu-PF to the
position of treasurer at the forums' recent 24th plenary session held in
Moyo last week wrote to the parliamentary forum over the anomaly regarding
the nomination of Mutsvangwa to the position of treasurer that had been
allocated to Zimbabwe. He asked that she be removed from the position.
Mutsvangwa is not a member of the SADC parliamentary forum. She was only
representing the outgoing Minister of State for State Enterprises, Flora
Buka at the meeting. The circumstances remain unclear. She is the spouse of
controversial Zanu-PF spokesman, Chris Mutsvangwa, who is Zimbabwe's former
ambassador to Beijing.
The Zimbabwe Times learnt that the Zanu-PF senator allegedly lied to SADC's
parliamentary secretariat that she had been nominated by the country's
The SADC parliamentary 24th plenary session held in Arusha, Tanzania ran
from 20 to 27 November.
Tabitha Khumalo, the MDC House of Assembly representative for Bulawayo East
who was one of Zimbabwe's delegates to the parliamentary forum told The
Zimbabwe Times: "The issue of the post of treasurer was discussed with other
delegates in a committee meeting in the morning and we were supposed to
select one of the country's delegates to take up the post.
"According to our understanding, Mutsvangwa in the evening went alone to the
offices of the secretariat. It is alleged that she lied that we had selected
her to the post.
"We were supposed to come back to Zimbabwe to discuss and consult with other
parliamentarians and select our representative to take up the post and then
forward the name to the secretariat.
"We were however surprised to read in The Herald a fortnight ago that
Mutsvangwa had been nominated to take up the post.
"We therefore advised the Speaker about the anomaly and he has accordingly
written to the forum to inform them that the Parliament of Zimbabwe will
submit its official candidate for the post," Khumalo said.
Mutsvangwa and Moyo could not be reached for comment on the matter despite
However, Khumalo, who is a former top executive of the country's labour
body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said, "We always have a
problem with our Zanu-PF colleagues when we attend such meetings. They
always try to bulldoze their way into posts."
The plenary addressed issues such as electoral disputes, energy crises,
xenophobia, climate change and drought.
by Andrew Moyo Monday 12 January 2009
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is pushing for workers
to be paid in hard currency, with union leader Lovemore Matombo warning of
fresh protests by workers if employers refuse to peg wages in hard currency.
Matombo, president of the ZCTU, told ZimOnline that the union's decision
making general council will meet next Saturday "to solidify our earlier
position that we negotiate (new wages) in foreign currency".
"If authorities say they have no confidence in the (local) currency who are
we to have confidence in it," said Matombo, referring to a decision by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last year to allow selected shops to charge for
basic commodities in American dollars.
He said: "The general council will sit on January 17 to solidify our earlier
position that we negotiate in foreign currency. We have to look at what the
PDL (poverty datum line or bread line) is before we discuss.
"We will discuss our next course of action but I do see workers
demonstrating against price hikes in the near future, we will use our usual
actions to make companies pay in foreign currency."
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
A collapsed currency is the most visible sign of Zimbabwe's deepening
economic and humanitarian crisis that is also seen in acute shortages of
food and basic commodities, amid a cholera epidemic that has killed more
than 1 700 people since last August.
Zimbabweans had hoped a power-sharing government between President Robert
Mugabe and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara would
ease the political situation and allow the country to focus on reviving the
The three political rivals agreed on September 15 to form an all-inclusive
government under a power-sharing deal that retains Mugabe as president while
making Tsvangirai prime minister and Mutambara deputy prime minister.
But the agreement brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki on
behalf of the regional SADC alliance immediately stalled as Mugabe and his
main opponent, Tsvangirai, wrangled over who should control key ministries
and other top government posts.
Tsvangirai and his MDC party meet on January 18 - a day after the ZCTU's
general council meeting - to review the stalled power-sharing deal. The MDC
has insisted it will not join the unity government until all outstanding
issues on Cabinet and other top government posts are resolved.
While analysts agree that Mugabe and Tsvangirai probably resent each other
too much to be able to form a successful partnership, however they say there
is little viable option to resolving Zimbabwe's crisis outside a
power-sharing government. - ZimOnline
The President's secret bid to beef up his army with Russian troops
Zimbabwe's President and his family are officially on holiday, and currently
enjoying their usual privileged vacation in Singapore, where they have many
friends. But on January 17 Robert Mugabe is due to board a jet for Moscow,
where he will finalise plans to bring in Russian troops to defend his
According to a top government source, all the preliminary plans for a
Russian military presence in Zimbabwe have been made during the past few
weeks. In Moscow Mugabe , who hasn't visited Russia since 1987, will meet
with President Medvedev and his puppet master Prime Minister Putin, to
finalise the deal that will have hundreds of Russian army personnel landing
at Harare airport in the near future.
The arrangement is supposed to be kept quiet. The troops will come in the
guise of technicians exploring diamond mining opportunities in the country.
But diamonds are just a part of the deal Mugabe is brokering with Putin. The
troops are really there to bolster Zimbabwe's defences against possible
As I have reported here before, while many of my more outspoken readers
think the chance of a liberation force crossing the borders from Botswana or
Zambia is just wishful thinking, Mugabe and his advisors take the threat
very seriously indeed. They have listened to the calls for action emanating
from Desmond Tutu and leaders of certain Southern African states. And they
are taking the necessary precautions.
The deal will also include what might be described as Zimbabwe's friendly
neighbours, Angola and Namibia, with the three countries combining their
strength under the guidance of Moscow's military experts.
Zimbabwe's own troops, who recently rioted in the streets of Harare against
their appalling living conditions, have been pacified partly by the
distribution of substantial rations. Elephant meat, to be precise. So,
whatever the outcome of a Russian military presence in Zimbabwe may be, one
thing is certain - Putin's soldiers will experience a radical change in
Posted on Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 22:39
January 11, 2009
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - The government has blocked attempts by private schools in Zimbabwe
to open ahead of a rescheduled schools opening date for the first term.
Government last week postponed the reopening of schools for the first term
to January 27, two weeks after the scheduled date of January 13.
Stephen Mahere, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sports
and Culture said the delay was meant to allow teachers currently involved
with the marking of last year's primary and secondary level public
examinations to conclude the exercise.
The delay in the marking of Grade 7 examinations and the resultant delay in
their release means that parents cannot use the results to secure places for
Form 1 for their children in time for the opening of the first term.
Grade 7 results are usually released during the first week of December.
But private schools, which have their own internal systems of enrolling Form
1 students, decided to stick to January 13 as scheduled.
Sources revealed Sunday government has threatened with arrest any private
school authorities seeking to defy the postponed.
"We usually invite applications for Form 1 places for the following year as
early as July," said a senior official at a private school in Harare who
cannot be named for safety reasons.
"This is the time when we hold tests to choose those who qualify for
enrolment at our schools. We are not in any way affected by the delay in the
release of the Grade 7 results as our Form 1 classes are ready.
"Why should we be held back by that?"
He said the school had taken the trouble on Sunday to call every parent to
stop sending their children this Monday as they were threatened with arrest
if they did not stick to January 27.
Private schools, which are mostly attended by children from wealthy
families, are not subjected to the discredited Zimbabwe Schools Examination
Council (ZIMSEC) curricula.
When government introduced ZIMSEC a few years ago, private schools opted to
remain under the Cambridge system, whose administration is far better.
While government is yet to release ZIMSEC results, all examinations which
are being administered under Cambridge were concluded on schedule and
Some parents, who have been made to pay as much as US$3 000 to send their
kids for the first term, were infuriated by the unpopular decision.
"This is grossly unfair," fumed Andrew Chimunyu, who has a child enrolled
at Watershed Secondary School in Marondera.
"The government cannot stop private schools from opening at a date which it
had originally decided.
"We sacrifice a lot to send our children to these private schools."
Jameson Timba, the former chairman of the Association of Private Schools in
Zimbabwe chose to differ.
"While I sympathize with private schools that have been inconvenienced by
this, I still feel government is still acting within its right to determine
the schools calendar.
"Everyone knows the secretary for education determines the schools calendar
12th Jan 2009 00:31 GMT
By John Fenandes
MUTARE - The Mutare businessman, who was beaten-up by soldiers who accused
him of dealing in diamonds, has died. Maxwell Mabota died moments after
being admitted at a South African hospital where he was expected to receive
Mabota, 32, was assaulted a day before Christmas at Chiadzwa by a group of
soldiers who accused him of dealing in dimonds. His body was expected to
arrive home over the weekend for burial, according to family members.
Mabota was arrested by a group of soldiers after he had allegedly sneaked
into the Chiadzwa diamond fields last week to buy the precious gems.
Sources close to the police said he suffered severe internal injuries which
require an urgent special operation.
During the assault the soldiers are alleged to have stolen about US$11 000
and a cell phone from him. They also impounded his car.
Police sources said Mabota went to Chiadzwa after he was allegedly called by
soldiers who claimed they wanted to sell him diamonds.
But after successfully transacting with the group of soldiers and while on
his way out of the diamond fields, Mabota was waylaid and caught by a
different group of soldiers who demanded to know what a "civilian" was doing
in the diamond fields.
"From there all hell broke loose as the soldiers took turns to beat him us
using all sorts of objects and clenched fists and boots," a police officer
who spoke on condition he was not named, said.
"They started beating him up until he fell unconscious," said another police
source. "They took him to Mutare Central Police Station where he was
immediately rushed to a private hospital by his wife."
Mabota's wife and other close family members declined to comment.
Soldiers guarding the Chiadzwa diamond fields have gained notoriety for
being brutal towards individuals they suspect to be dealing with the
When they launched an operation to rid the fields of illegal miners and
buyers they were accused by human rights groups of using heavy handed
The rights groups estimate about 106 people were killed by the soldiers
during the campaign to clear Chiadzwa of illegal miners and buyers.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the soldiers were committing
During the campaign several businesspeople that were believed to have been
dealing in diamonds were beaten up and taken to the diamond fields to fill
up gullies created by illegal miners.
They were forced to use their hands to fill up the gullies.
Hundreds of previously impoverished people have amassed wealth in excess of
several hundred thousands United States Dollars during the past two years as
a result of selling diamonds.
But the government has stopped all activities on the grounds it was creating
"lawlessness" in Chiadzwa and surrounding areas.
By Akwei Thompson
11 January 2009
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
have so far been unable to agree on how to divide cabinet posts to form a
government of national unity.
Last week Mr. Mugabe sacked nine ministers and three deputy ministers who
lost seats in last March's polls. This week Zimbabwean newspaper the
"Herald" announced that a government was most likely to be in place by the
end of February when Mugabe returns from a month-long holiday.
George Katito, a researcher of African Governance and the African Peer
Review Mechanism in South Africa told VOA reporter Akwei Thompson that a
major contention in the stalemate remains the division of key ministerial
He said there did not seem to be a consensus of the two contending parties
as to which of the two main political parties would control key ministries
including the justice ministry and the department of finance. "The key
ministry which seems at the fore is of course the control of the security
forces and more specifically, the national security council.," Katito said.
The South African analyst confirmed reports that Mugabe would go ahead and
form a government upon his return from vacation, but he added ".over the
past few days as well we've had reports from within the MDC offering to
enter into some sort of talks with President Robert Mugabe."
As to what role the MDC would play if Mugabe went ahead to form a government
at the end of February, Katito said "I think certainly what we've heard from
ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe is very few encouraging signs that the MDC would
have any serious role to play within the government that the ZANU-PF would
By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION CorrespondentPosted Sunday, January 11 2009 at
Zimbabwe's feuding parties remain poles apart almost a week before a
constitutional amendment that will bring into force the proposed unity
government is introduced in Parliament
The bill, which cannot sail through parliament without the support of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will be presented to
legislators on January 20.
But developments in the past two months have dampened hopes that the long
awaited union between President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF and the two
MDC formations will materialise.
This has prompted analysts to predict another tough year for Zimbabweans
with Mr Mugabe's tight grip on power still unshaken.
Tensions have been rising over the recent spate of abductions of MDC
activists and human right defenders on allegations that they were involved
in the recruitment of people to undergo military training in Botswana.
MDC leader and prime minister designate Morgan Tsvangirai on self imposed
exile in Botswana since November has declined to be sworn in as part of the
September 15 power sharing agreement insisting there were still outstanding
issues before the deal is consummated.
"The deal might be dead in the water," said Mr Peter Makuvise, a political
analyst. "As time drags on the parties will come up with fresh demands to
suit the new circumstances.
"However, the resumption of parliamentary sittings means that the MDC has to
decide whether it still wants to be part of this arrangement.
"Mugabe is not likely to make any more concessions because his lieutenants
are already bitter that he gave in to a lot of MDC demands and this is the
biggest threat to the unity government."
Is now demanding
The Tsvangirai led MDC is now demanding that the police, army and the feared
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) should be placed under the effective
control of parties to the inclusive government after the state apparatus was
used to abduct opposition supporters and human rights activists.
In a letter to South African President Kgalema Motlanthe last week, Mr
Tsvangirai accused the police, CIO and the army of undermining the
implementation of the global agreement.
He said expectations were that security organs would have been the first to
appreciate the need for change of direction.
"This has not been the case in Zimbabwe," Mr Tsvangirai said. "Given the
fact that our national institutions have been selectively used to target MDC
and other activists it is only imperative that these security apparatus be
placed under the control of parties to the agreement.
Mr Tsvangirai is also raising fresh security concerns and has remained
holed in neighbouring Botswana for more than two months.
"We can't keep Zimbabweans guessing, we have to close the chapter on
dialogue, whether in success or failure," said MDC spokesman, Mr Nelson
Chamisa. A fortnight ago, Mr Mugabe's spokesman told state media the veteran
leader would appoint a new cabinet in February.
By Patience Rusere
11 January 2009
Children have been the most vulnerable segment of Zimbabwe's population in
the face of the cholera epidemic which has killed more than 1,900 people in
recent months, according to a spokeswoman for the United Nations Children's
Fund, a leading provider of relief.
UNICEF Communications Officer Tsitsi Singizi said her organization has not
compiled specific data on children, but said children account for a
"sizeable number" of under treatment.
The World Health Organization released a statistical update showing that
deaths from cholera in Zimbabwe totaled 1,915 through Friday with total
cases numbering 37,556.
Singizi told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
children are particularly at risk because they do not comprehend public
12th Jan 2009 00:45 GMT
By Joyce Museka
Zanu PF is living on the strength of its record of violence, aleged mass
murder and intimidation as Zimbabwe descends into total economic, social and
Since the 29th of March 2008 Zimbabwe is living on the grace of God without
a government and in total paralysis exacerbated by rampant corruption of
president Mugabe's criminal cabal.
Robert Mugabe who clearly lost the ballot to MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai but
grabbed it by force has failed to form a government in the last nine months.
He clearly knows that the only man with the mandate of the people to put up
a government is Morgan Tsvangirai, but he has failed to, save for his his
barbaric rants of hate for the opposition.
Many people would wonder why Robert Mugabe has no mercy for the suffering
masses of Zimbabwe, this is not the first time that Mugabe's government has
shown no care for the common people.
During the liberation struggle many Zimbabweans were allegedly killed by
Mugabe's forces on false accusations of selling out and witchcraft.
For those of us who were old enough to recall the activities at "pungwe"
gatherings can bare testimonies to the bullying, maiming and raping that
The early years of independence witnessed one of the most brutal times
experienced by our people with the extermination of more than twenty
thousand people in Matebeleland and Midlands.
Mugabe's lies seems to have now hit a brick wall with many common
Zimbabweans realising that they have been taken for a ride. Today the
present political impasse in Zimbabwe is a result of pure insincerity on the
part of Zanu PF.
They lost the election but they still want to control the reigns of power.
The use of violence will not bring the food on the people's tables. There
are those who believe that the MDC should falter and allow Zanu PF to rule
the country by default, this is unfortunate, as this will be tantamount to
leaving the devil running away with the gospel in the eyes of the believers.
The MDC should stand firm and unequivocally demand its right to lead the
Zimbabweans as mandated by the people in the March 2008 ballot.
The scenario that we have today is that of a greedy political party that has
run out of options. It is sad to hear that Mugabe goes around blaming
cholera on Gordon Brown, the British Prime minister.
This is a sign of madness replica of the post liberation war uncontrolled
euphoria that brought us in to this predicament. All sane Zimbabweans know
that no one else but Mugabe is to blame for the present state of affairs.
There was need to put checks and balances on Zanu PF on the eve of
independence to prevent them from trampling on the people's liberties.
12th Jan 2009 00:19 GMT
By Gift Phiri
ZIMBABWEAN journalists live not just with the crippling hardship that comes
with the state-sponsored destruction of most prospective employers - and 90
per cent unemployment caused by the collapse of the economy - but with the
knowledge that the penalty for the reporting of uncomfortable truths can be
Apart from introducing the euphemistically-titled Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, AIPPA, which would bar foreign correspondents
from working in Zimbabwe and require all Zimbabwean journalists to renew
their licenses to practice, the government has come up with yet another
bottle neck in the form of punitive accreditation fees.
The government now interprets any criticism of its failure to improve the
economy as proof of a Western-inspired plot. Understandably the Zanu-PF
government is angry because the media sees the difference between its
slogans and performance.
Journalists are under intense pressure not to step out of line in an
increasingly intolerant Zimbabwe. There is extreme concern over the new
exorbitant accreditation fees for foreign correspondents based in Harare and
local journalists filing for foreign news organisations.
These restrictive new licensing fees instituted through a government gazette
last week is clearly designed to prevent us from reporting from Zimbabwe.
Asking journalists working for foreign media to pay US$4,000 in application
and license fees for a one-year renewable license from a
government-appointed commission, clearly amounts to censorship.
These are clear financial sanctions against journalists designed to shutdown
the foreign press. The government, through the Orwellian AIPPA, is flexing
its muscles and showing who has effective veto over who reports for any
media organisation, foreign as well as domestic.
These new accreditation fees constitute blatant discrimination of foreign
and local journalists stringing for foreign media and are further steps in
the ongoing campaign to silence critical media. I doubt very much if there
are journalists stringing for foreign media that earn that kind of money
The government is simply encouraging lawlessness. Who is going to comply
with such punitive regulations? The government has forgotten that it removed
the requirement for press cards last year and also promised to make
accreditation of journalists much easier.
I am surprised with this volte face manifesting in this demand that
journalists pay punitive fees to the dissolved government-appointed Media
and Information Commission, MIC, which used to be run by government
supporter Tafataona Mahoso.
Just to remind the authorities, the MIC ceased to exist on January 11, 2008
following the signing into law of amendments to AIPPA. Who ever gazette
these fees is in contempt of parliamentary processes that disbanded MIC.
It follows therefore that these fees are illegal, set by a de facto body.
And no one should comply with illegal instructions. As we all know, the
amendments to AIPPA were made as part of democratic reforms recommended by
SADC ahead of the March 29 general election to level the electoral playing
So there is also an element of contempt of SADC by the MIC. It would seem
the MIC still relishes the power it used to wield, to refuse accreditation,
deciding who may or may not work as a journalist in Zimbabwe.
Parliament, which is set to resume sitting on January 20, has not even
constituted the standing rules and orders committee which is supposed to
handpick the nominees who will sit in the new Zimbabwe Media Coouncil which
is set to replace the MIC. It is surprising that these fees have been
constructed and put in place in the absence of a regulatory body. Surely we
cannot encourage journalists to get accredited by an illegal entity.
I have heard arguments about the "dirty-hands doctrine" that journalists
should comply with the law and then challenge it. In this instance our hands
are not dirty because we have not broken any law. We are not refusing to pay
the fees. We are saying there is nowhere to pay the US$4,000 because the law
of Zimbabwe does not recognise the MIC where we are supposed to pay the
fees. US$4000 is a lot of money.
Anyone who wishes to pay their money to MIC should do so but should not cry
foul when the proper body is constituted and demands accreditation fees from
them. We all know that under this tough media law journalists face a
two-year prison sentence for practising without accreditation. But no one
can invoke AIPPA in this instance because it does not recognise the MIC.
Some say there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe and journalists can be charged
regardless given "the vampire instincts of the regime." A colleague told me
"Vakomana handei tino accreditwa musatamba ne regime."
Some people say there is no solidarity in the media. A colleague spoke of
the 2003 ban of the Daily News, that the Independent and FinGaz sought
accreditation but the Daily News on a matter of principle refused to seek
accreditation because it argued it did not recognise AIPPA.
We all know the fate of that newspaper. So it becomes a matter of principle.
If we say lets not accredit, we all don't go for accreditation. It must be a
class action. There must be consensus. The point here is that these fees are
punitive and are a hindrance to the free flow of information. The problem we
are facing is that we have a regime which looks at foreign media as enemies.
And these fees are clearly meant to shutdown the foreign media. It also
clearly vindicates our position that statutory regulation of media is
undemocratic. No one was consulted about these prohibitive fees. ZUJ was not
consulted, MISA was consulted, MMPZ was not consulted, and the Voluntary
Media Council was not consulted. It is clear the government is trying to
arbitrarily curtail press freedom.
It's unacceptable and undemocratic. This encourages guerrilla journalism.
Freedom of expression, mass media and information is an indispensable
element of the legal democratic society, a guarantee of its stability and
Claiming that freedom of expression should be limited in order to protect
someone's rights or bring public safety is one of the typical reasons to
bring about censorship up in countries with totalitarian regimes. This
government has continued to consolidate its authoritarian power, building a
system of institutional support for its rule through censorship.
There is mounting concern that media regulation in Zimbabwe is getting more
and more entrusted and controlled by the presidential administration. There
are clear attempts to use a wide rage of financial and administrative
sanctions and restrictions to shut down the free press. We have to defend
The more control state puts over information, the shorter range of
information people can have access to at a time we are steeped in one of the
worst humanitarian crisis in the country, underlined with a cholera outbreak
that had killed more than 1800 people by yesterday.
The government would rather have Zimbabweans presented mostly with news and
opinions reflecting sunshine journalism. Censorship strives to block any
signs of criticism or critical thinking. And this regime has been quite
creative in its attempts to hinder the media. The punitive fees are just but
The regime is aware that economic pressure is more effective than
administrative or criminal pressure. This is why they have instituted
punitive import duty for foreign newspapers such as The Zimbabwean, The
Economist, The Telegraph, The Times both of London ad of South Africa, The
Mail and Guardian and others. Last year we even saw instances where
journalists press cards failed to insure protection from police. Journalists
stringing for foreign media were thrown out of the Rainbow Towers - venue
for crucial power-sharing talks. Journalists were arrested for expressing
their views and reporting events that cast unfavorable light on the
government, and so-called violation of public order.
Practically all of them fell under the heading of crimes, administrative
breaches or civic-legal delicts: Some of them were brought to administrative
justice. We need to realise that one of the component of governmental
control and self-censorship is this mandatory licensing or registration of
journalists and especially the punitive licensing fees for journalists
writing for foreign media.
We know that these fees come hard-on-the-heels of threats by the government,
pointedly President Mugabe's press secretary George Charamba, to close
foreign news bureaus for Reuters, AP, Al Jazeera and AFP following the
publication of stories that quoted President Robert Mugabe as saying cholera
had now been contained in the country in December.
The international outrage that followed those reports, which correctly
quoted the president and were beamed live on State television, gave cause
for the beginning of this governmental campaign to control the activities of
foreign media. Clearly the measures which have been undertaken by the
authorities are more than drastic.
These fees enlarges the list of bans for correspondents stringing for
foreign media and therefore of bases for applying sanctions to them. US$4000
is a staggering amount of money by any standards. This is Zimbabwe, hello!.
We should not lose focus of the ultimate objective of this, which is to
avoid unpleasant publication of articles containing criticism of leadership
and above all the President.
We need to mount a multi-pronged response to this. Firstly I suggest we
immediately institute legal action. I have consulted legal opinion and they
say we can file an urgent chamber application in the High Court seeking a
declaratory order that the MIC is illegal at law and cannot demand licensing
fees from us.
After that we can seek another order allowing us to continue practicing
until the ZMC has been properly constituted. I don't know when that will be.
We also need to mount a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court that
these fees violates freedom of expression which is enshrined in the Zimbabwe
I am told even the "unreasonableness" of these fees can win any legal test
in the High Court.There is also need to continue lobbying for the total
removal of statutory regulation of the media. We can self regulate. We are
all professionals I believe.
There is also need to petition the main political parties which made these
changes to AIPPA to take action. Parliament resumes sitting next week
Tuesday. We need to make noise there as well. We also need to petition SADC,
the guarantors of the power-sharing deal, and the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
This is the roadmap that I suggest we take.
12th Jan 2009 01:10 GMT
By Chenjerai Chitsaru
IN the world history of civil rights advocates, women's names which will be
prominent will be those of Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis and
Rosa Parks - all Americans.
There are among the people who gained International fame for their tenacity
in the campaign for the rights, not only of women around the world, but of
all people, particularly minorities.
In years to come, a number of Zimbabwean women will be included in this
hallowed roll call: Beatrice Mtetwa, Jenni Williams of Women of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA), Lupi Mushayakarara, Margaret Dongo, Fay Chung - and Jestina
Mtetwa has been defending Mukoko against charges by the government that she
and a group of others, among them men, recruited people to be trained in
Botswana for the express task of overthrowing the government of Robert
Mukoko was tortured while being held by government agents.
Many of us remember her as an unforgettably pretty, fascinating ZBC-TV
anchor person, years ago. She had an enchanting smile and was "coolness"
Recently, we have seen her on TV, under guard, being led to this or that
dark hole by people assigned to perform these disgusting chores by a
government itself engaged in the disgusting business of humiliating any of
its own citizens who dare to demand they be treated with respect and
She and Mtetwa share a common background: they have both been beaten by
government agents, whether on the orders of their "masters" or on the orders
of individuals who believe they have been a threat to the existence of this
Is this a regime of misogynists? Is this a regime which hates women, which
believes, to put women in their so-called "place", they have to be handled
with a specifically brutal and savage cruelty because they are women?
In Africa, in general, women have always been handled as if they were
second-class citizens, particularly after independence, when they would have
expected to be accorded the same rights as their men.
One recent TV documentary showed an African country in which girls are
forced to eat fattening foots to prepare for marriage. The government seems
to condone this force-feeding of the young girls, as being fat assures women
There is the horrendous custom of circumcision which, in the case of girls,
entails female genital mutilation. Advocates of the abolition of this
disgusting custom have been hounded into silence by governments and
But a government which sets out to treat women differently whenever they
raise their voices against repression courts for itself the repugnance of
all people, particularly progressive-minded Africans who believe we have
moved from those dark ages.
In Zimbabwe, they have been other examples of this unofficial degradation of
women. Men in positions of power, although legally married, have gathered
around them so many mistresses in so many "small houses", there has been
violence involving the two competing spouses, some of them ending in
But it is the image of Zimbabwe as a modern, 21st century democratic state
that we must safeguard. The Mugabe regime has already earned for us the
status of a pariah among the countries of the world.
We have been removed from the former British Commonwealth of nations,
although this was an act of personal pique by Mugabe himself, a man so proud
and so convinced of his "righteousness" he will not stomach any criticism.
Not many of the people in the regime have any appreciation of how much we
lost as a result of not being part of that grouping of multiracial nations.
In education, science, health, the law and development in general we gained
a lot when we were members. But because we are now under the terrorist
regime of a group of women-haters and people who, in general, hate criticism
of any kind, we have a situation where people are dying of hunger, disease
and poverty in basically avoidable circumstances.
The deaths from cholera, for instance, would never have occurred if our
health delivery system and if our local government structures were as
self-sufficient as they were before 2000.
Most pathetic is the state of the media: anyone who speaks of it being as
equitable as it ought to be is living in fantasy land of gnomes and fairies.
To hear George Charamba speak of what he believes would be the ideal media
situation can make you begin to wonder if the idea is to hurl us to the Dark
A story headlined Direct national interest, media told, in The Herald begins
"History will harshly judge Zimbabwean journalists for allegedly allowing
foreign media to shape and direct national interest and thinking, resulting
in the erosion of the founding values of the nation."
Charamba is fairly young and may be forgiven fore not being aware of the
real "founding values" of this nation. Certainly, none of them advocated
cruelty to women, or the debasing of the characters of citizens who protest
at the excesses of the government.
There is nowhere in the "founding values" where a "captive media" is
advocated. During the colonial period, newspapers, the radio and television
were all controlled by the regime, directly or subtly.
What the nationalists were fighting was this whole cabal of government
ownership of the media.
Yet, what happened after 1980? The same people who would not trust one word
they read in The Herald, now wanted that same newspaper to perform for them
the same function - to lie and lie and lie to the people, until even the
most innocent and gullible paused in their tracks: "Haven't we seen this
Charamba is one of the most ardent advocates of a state media. Footage of
his encounter with journalists in Egypt during last year's African Union
summit, demonstrated most graphically how contemptuous he is of journalists
who probe, question and continue to dig deep into the motives of a
government which is self-absorbed in its survival in power.
Both he and Mugabe demonstrated in their encounters with reporters at that
summit that as long as they are in power, there would not be a free press in
this country. They indicated in word and deed, that for them a malleable
media was the most ideal tool for a regime that desires to beat its people
As presumably educated and intelligent people, both men must know that
history is against them. Near home, there were regimes in Malawi and Zambia
which believed, as they do, that countries can be run like tuckshops - the
possession of one man and his wife and children, beholden to no-one except
Kamuzu Banda was beaten in an election and, by the time he died a few years
later, he didn't know what had hit him. Kenneth Kaunda survived the defeat,
but to to this day he must know that he was utterly wrong in his belief that
A Great Someone had placed him in the presidency for life.
His party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) has not won an
election since 1991 - and may never return to power again. Banda's Malawi
Congress Party suffered the same fate. It is unlikely ever to return to
power - in a free and fair election.
Both Charamba and Mugabe must know that this fate awaits Zanu PF. Once it is
vanquished this time, there will be no return to power.
The people of Zimbabwe have as long and keen memories as the people of
Malawi and Zambia. They will never forget the hell through which Zanu PF
dragged them, kicking and screaming from 1980 to this day.
Neither will they forget the misogynists who took perverted delight in
beating up and humiliating their women.
by Mutumwa Mawere Monday 12 January 2009
OPINION: On January 4, 2004, an article entitled: "The inconvenient truths
about the West and Zimbabwe" authored by MDC-M leader Arthur Mutambara was
published in which he attempted to advance the argument that the challenges
in implementing the September 15, 2008 global political agreement (GPA)
between President Robert Mugabe, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC faction leader Mutambara must be squarely placed
on the alleged unwelcome external interventions by the West and a Zimbabwean
He makes the point that the external interventions in the form of statements
made by representatives of Western governments are ignorant and un-strategic
leading to the conclusion that if only such representatives kept their
opinions to themselves an inclusive government would by now be in place and
poverty will be eliminated.
He argues in the article that the "brazen and crass" Western shenanigans
have actually undermined the opposition and strengthened Mugabe.
He submits that what he describes as "the uninformed and reckless" foreign
policy positions of the Western governments who are purported to be
Tsvangirai's principals have negatively impacted Zimbabwe's national
The same argument has been made by former South African President Thabo
Mbeki as well as Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of
state who continue to maintain that all the outstanding issues can be
resolved through the inclusive government.
SADC is at one in holding the position that the Zimbabwean parties must
proceed expeditiously to implement the GPA.
How valid is the allegation that Tsvangirai is a puppet of the West?
Tsvangirai was a contender for the position of president but now finds
himself locked out of the state house not as a consequence of an electoral
process but of negotiations held in camera from which it is evident that two
of the principals do not trust his bona fides and in so doing indirectly
question the legitimacy and authenticity of the results of the March 29
If it is accepted that only two Zimbabweans i.e. Mugabe and Tsvangirai are
the only ones with a legitimate claim on executive power in Zimbabwe and
Mutambara voluntarily excluded himself from the debate on who should be in
state house by electing not to participate in the presidential race, then it
would be difficult to dismiss Tsvangirai's concerns about an outcome that
virtually condemns him to the outhouse and not the state house.
We all may not agree on who should or should not be the head of state and
government of Zimbabwe but anyone who believes in a Republican ideology
would agree that it is the people who must govern through representatives
they select through a fair and transparent system.
This truth is self-evident and cannot be described as inconvenient.
Equally it would be wrong to attempt to suggest that the millions of
Zimbabweans who took their time to go and cast their votes on March 29 were
doing to assert the rights of the West.
What is a convenient truth is that Zimbabweans are tired of the politics of
point scoring and they really deserve a break from the past and yet through
the GPA, the future will mean more of the same bitter politics.
It would be wrong to assert that Zimbabweans who took their obligations as
citizens seriously and voted in their millions for Tsvangirai to be the head
of state and government are not concerned about the absurdity of a
negotiated outcome whose selection of participants has very little to do
with the question that the world and the majority of Zimbabweans want
answered - who of the two men should be the custodian of Zimbabwean
To Mugabe, the GPA has restored his legitimacy and, therefore, he sees its
implementation as necessary for him to remain as the head of state and
government. He has yet to accept Tsvangirai as an authentic Zimbabwean
vested with the same rights as enshrined in the constitution.
He has bought the propaganda that people like Tsvangirai must never be
trusted with the reigns of power.
Although the constitution of Zimbabwe has no provision that disables a
person like Tsvangirai from being a head of state and government, it is
evident that Mbeki,Mugabe and Mutambara are at one in holding the view that
Tsvangirai is not the kind of leader that Zimbabwe should have. This is one
of the inconvenient truths that Mutambara did not say in his article.
Whose interests are served by a speedy implementation of an agreement that
boxes Tsvangirai out of power in the transitional phase with no promise that
he will emerge from the confusion of the inclusive government intact.
An inclusive government implies that there is a shared position on what kind
of Zimbabwe the interlocutors want to see.
The kind of Zimbabwe that Mugabe wants to see is a poor but ideologically
pure where people can eat the land and not the food produced from the land.
I doubt whether Mutambara shares Mugabe's worldview to give him comfort that
day one after the formation of the inclusive government, the three
principals will converge in the understanding of what the country requires.
In framing the terms of reference of the negotiations, it was accepted that
sanctions, however, defined must be lifted. If this is the case, it cannot
be inconvenient for the very people who imposed the sanctions not to express
their opinion about their likely reaction to the inclusive government
especially if the burden of opening the Western doors is to be placed on
Is it an inconvenient truth that any government that does not respect the
rule of law and property and human rights as framed by the West is unlikely
to receive the support of such countries?
If we accept that Western intervention is not called for then we must ask
Mugabe and anyone who supports the proposition that the GPA as currently
framed will stimulate investor confidence what alternative plan is in place
to lift the country up?
Is it not ironic that working people despise their employers and yet expect
to be paid at the end of every month even if their contribution to the firm
is not commensurate with the salary paid?
Is it also not ironic that the poor want to be reach and yet spend a
substantial part of their productive time despising the rich?
If only the people in the valley could realise what it takes to climb the
mountain then they will appreciate the views of those who are at the top of
The West is at the top of the economic ladder although its business model is
currently challenged but it would be wrong for anyone who wants to be lifted
up to then create a reality in which half truths and self-serving lies are
now projected as convenient truths.
At this defining hour, Zimbabweans ought to ask themselves whether Mugabe is
capable of changing the views that have crystallised in his mind over the
last 29 years in power to give the proposed inclusive government space to
operate with the kind of flexibility and wisdom required.
He has shown by appointing Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono,
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and the Attorney General that he does not
believe that change is what the country needs. Rather it needs Tsvangirai to
change the minds of the West so that the tap of resources can continue to
flow with no inhibition.
What is not an inconvenient truth is that the West is and continues to feed
Zimbabwe while the economy is imploding and gravitating towards becoming the
52nd state of the United States (US).
Already the official currency will be the same as the US and it cannot be
denied that more Zimbabweans now know about Benjamin Franklins than they do
about the machinations in the closed doors of the GPA shenanigans.
Even teachers want to be paid in Benjamin Franklins, confirming a convenient
truth that the custodians of the Zimbabwe dollar have either abdicated or
have no alternative plan.
It would be welcome if Zimbabweans began to voice their concern as
Tsvangirai and his colleagues have been doing that without trust and a give
and take attitude there is no hope for fixing the economy.
It is not inconvenient for Tsvangirai to be cautious and apprehensive about
sharing a bed with someone who calls him a "prostitute", "puppet" and
Notwithstanding, there are many people who hold the view that the only way
Tsvangirai can assert his rights, for Mugabe is not about to go away, is for
him to take what is on the table and pray to God that he will be given room
to manoeuvre by people who hold him in low esteem.
Who is stalling the GPA? It is evident that Mbeki,Mutambara, Mugabe and SADC
believe that Tsvangirai is the bad boy and they excuse him because they
genuinely believe that he is being managed.
If Mutambara was Tsvangirai what would he do? Would he jump into bed with
Mugabe and forget the scars?
When former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere recommended that Mugabe ought
to consider former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith as a Cabinet minister
in his first administration, it was Mugabe who refused saying that water and
oil could never be united and it was too much to expect him to consider such
Can Mugabe and Tsvangirai share executive power without a permanent
mid-wife? This is a thought that needs exploration but what is instructive
is that they share very little to be trusted to work together.
Mutambara was supposed to be the mid-wife and it is normally possible in
business where a company has three shareholders, for example, A holding 49
percent of the shares; B - 49 percent and C - 2 percent for C to be the king
However, the inconvenient truth is Mutambara needs help from all of us to
recognise the urgency of the moment and the fact that he may hold the key to
unlocking the future.
There is no value in condemning Mutambara and his colleagues but what is
required is for a revised framework that is premised on the fact that
opposition as collectively defined has the confidence of the majority of the
people of Zimbabwe.
It is never too late to push for Mutambara and Tsvangirai to begin to
realise that Zimbabweans want them to work together so that the wind of
change can finally visit Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai cannot do it alone and he needs to get Mutambara firmly behind
him. Mutambara has no benefit in aligning or appearing to align himself with
What is evident is that we all have failed to lobby not SADC leaders but
Mutambara to appreciate that at this defining hour an injury to Tsvangirai
is neither in his or the national interest.
Mugabe's record of accomplishments is known so are his failures to compel
anyone interested in the future to start investing in the change they want
To the extent that the West wants to see change that is believable it is
important that Mutambara reconsiders his position on the West particularly
if he offers no alternative sustainable economic model. - ZimOnline