Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:41
HARARE - Rights groups in Zimbabwe have resolved to engage regional power
broker, Southern African Development Committee (Sadc) and the African Union
(AU) over the detention of ZimRights director Okay Machisa accused of
tampering with the voters’ roll.
Machisa’s detention has raised fears within the pro-democracy movement that
government is moving in to criminalise the work of civil society, discredit
it and showcase civic leaders as unpatriotic and devoid of national
In a joint statement to the media yesterday, 56 Zimbabwean Civic Society
Organisations (CSO) said they would take up the matter with Sadc and the AU,
guarantors to the Global Political Agreement which gave birth to the
inclusive government in 2009.
The rights groups also demanded a meeting with leaders of the political
parties in the coalition government to raise their concerns.
“We contend that these attempts to criminalise Non Governmental
Organisations, and discredit their work are wholly associated with impending
elections and thus call upon Sadc, in line with their earlier summit
resolutions and the AU to urge the government of Zimbabwe to allow CSOs to
operate without being criminalised, intimidated and harassed as key
prerequisites to the holding of free and fair elections which can pass the
credibility test,” Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum director, Abel Chikomo
told a news conference yesterday.
“From now on we will present our issues with Sadc and the AU as well as the
facilitation team on the attacks on CSOs because this is related to
The organisations also chided the police and prosecuting authorities for
deliberately misleading public opinion about their activities.
“We are certain that Zimbabwean authorities particularly the police and
prosecuting authorities are well aware of the role of civil society but
often times wilfully mislead public opinion about our legitimate activities
as they do the bidding of political masters,” Chikomo said.
“In this respect, we note with regret and consternation, the resolution from
Zanu PF December congress where the party resolved to de-register so-called
‘errant NGOs operating outside their mandate’.”
The CSOs said Zanu PF was using doublespeak and that “errant NGOs” was a
euphemism for organisations such as ZimRights and others of its ilk working
on human rights, governance and election issues.
Meanwhile, Raymond Majongwe of the concerned ZCTU affiliates and Progressive
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) urged civic society leaders to be more
proactive in solidarity with Machisa.
“I think our main thrust now should be to be more proactive and organise
ourselves as civic leaders to go to Harare Central Police Station to ask
them to lock us all up,” Majongwe said.
“They are actually making it a habit that they pick us up one by one knowing
that we would congregate here and give press statements. They must just take
us all for once.” - Mugove Tafirenyika
Sunday, 20 January 2013, 9:30 am
Press Release: OHCHR
OHCHR Press Briefing Note - 1) Mali 2) Sri Lanka 3) Zimbabwe 4) Iran
18 January 2013
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Subjects: 1) Mali
2) Sri Lanka
The crisis in Mali has led to various human rights violations, including
extrajudicial killings, rape and torture. These have been documented in a
report requested by the Human Rights Council which was published by our
Office on January 14, along with the growing ethnic tensions in the country
which raise very serious concerns.
Our report* presents the findings of a human rights mission deployed to
Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger from 11 to 20 November 2012. The
8-person team included two staff from the offices of the Secretary General’s
Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and his Special
Representative on Children in Armed Conflict.
The report shows that the current human rights situation is linked to
long-standing and unresolved issues, and that human rights violations have
been committed both in the North, and in the area under government control.
In Northern Mali, serious human rights violations have been taking place
since January 2012, including summary executions and extra-judicial
A year ago, on 24 January 2012, armed combatants identified as members of
the MNLA (Mouvement national de liberation de l’Azawad) allegedly used
students as human shields to force military forces to surrender and later on
allegedly executed 94 of the 153 captured and disarmed soldiers.
Several Tuareg soldiers were also reportedly victims of reprisals by members
of the Malian army in the North. Incidents of this nature include the
killing of nine soldiers in Timbuktu on 4 February 2012.
Civilian deaths were also reported, including of people who tried to resist
the looting of humanitarian warehouses by armed groups in April 2012, and a
young unmarried couple who were stoned to death in Aguelhok.on 29 July 2012
by members of Ansar Dine and the MUJAO group (Mouvement pour l’unicité et le
jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest).
Ten amputation cases by extremists groups in the North were also documented,
including the case of a 30-year-old man whose right hand was cut off with a
kitchen knife for allegedly stealing cattle following a summary trial set up
by MUJAO militia.
Human rights experts also found that civilians in the North suffered from
degrading treatments by extremist groups, based on an extreme interpretation
of Sharia. Women, in particular, have suffered from harassment, abuses and
sexual violence, for example after being accused of being improperly veiled
or dressed, or for riding on a motorbike. On April 3, a 22-year- old woman
was raped by six armed men allegedly belonging to the Ansar Dine extremist
group for not wearing her veil in her own home.
Rapes of women and girls, at times in front of family members and often
apparently carried out on an ethnic basis, have been repeatedly used in the
North to intimidate people and break any form of resistance, in a culture
where rape is considered as taboo and victims often suffer from social
exclusion. Young girls, sometimes as young as 12 or 13, are reported to have
been forcibly married to members of Ansar Dine, MUJAO and AQMI (Al-Qaida au
Maghreb islamique) and gang-raped for days, the report says.
Our report also highlights cases of arbitrary detention in Gao, Timbuktu and
Kidal, as well as cases of sexual violence against female detainees. The
recruitment of child soldiers, sometimes as young as 10, by extremist groups
was also documented during the mission.
The human rights team also highlighted human rights violations in
territories under the control of the Malian government, including the
extra-judicial killings of several soldiers of the Malian army and at least
21 cases of forced disappearances following a failed reverse coup on 30
April 2012. Members of the police and the military suspected of supporting
the coup were also arrested and allegedly abused, tortured and subjected to
inhumane treatment in Kati camp. Malian soldiers also allegedly executed 16
pilgrims on 9 September 2012.
The OHCHR mission highlighted the increasing presence of self-defence
militia and expressed its alarm at the growing ethnic tensions in Mali,
which could also lead to possible acts of revenge against the Tuareg and
Arab communities perceived as being linked to the armed groups.
We call on all parties to abide by international human rights and
humanitarian law standards and we welcome the announcement by the Office of
the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on January 15 that it
will open an investigation into the Mali situation, following the referral
of the situation to the ICC by the Mali authorities in July. This is an
important step for victims of human rights violations, and also sends an
important message to perpetrators of human rights violations that they will
be held accountable for the crimes committed.
We also call for the initiation of a reconciliation process to address
current human rights challenges as well as long-standing unresolved issues,
and urge the Malian army and its supporters to take extreme care not to
carry out further reprisals as and when they retake territory in the North.
OHCHR stands ready to provide assistance to the Malian Government by
supporting the establishment of a transitional justice mechanism to
facilitate national reconciliation.
2) Sri Lanka
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is deeply concerned
that the impeachment and removal of Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice has further
eroded the rule of law in the country and could also set back efforts for
accountability and reconciliation.
The removal of the Chief Justice through a flawed process -- which has been
deemed unconstitutional by the highest courts of the land -- is, in the High
Commissioner’s view, gross interference in the independence of the judiciary
and a calamitous setback for the rule of law in Sri Lanka.
Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was served notice of her dismissal and
removed from her chambers and official residence on Tuesday (15 January), in
spite of a Supreme Court ruling that the parliamentary procedure to remove
her violated the Constitution.
Sri Lanka has a long history of abuse of executive power, and this latest
step appears to strip away one of the last and most fundamental of the
independent checks and balances, and should ring alarm bells for all Sri
The jurist sworn in by the President as the new Chief Justice on 15 January,
the former Attorney-General and Legal Advisor to the Cabinet, Mr. Mohan
Peiris, has been at the forefront of a number of government delegations to
Geneva in recent years to vigorously defend the Sri Lankan government’s
position before the Human Rights Council and other human rights mechanisms.
This raises obvious concerns about his independence and impartiality,
especially when handling allegations of serious human rights violations by
We are also concerned that the impeachment process has caused bitter
divisions within Sri Lanka, and that it sends an ominous signal about the
Government’s commitment to accountability and reconciliation. It flies in
the face of the strong calls by the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation
Commission, and by leaders of Sri Lanka’s civil society and legal
profession, to rebuild the rule of law which has been badly eroded by
decades of conflict and human rights violations.
Just this morning we have received alarming reports from the Independent Bar
of Sri Lanka of a series of death threats, acts of intimidation and even a
couple of reported murder attempts against lawyers who have been supporting
Chief Justice Bandaranayake, and the rulings of the Supreme Court and Court
of Appeal on her case.
The High Commissioner will be issuing a report on Sri Lanka at the
February-March session of the Human Rights Council, focusing on the
engagement of UN mechanisms in support of the accountability and
We condemn recent attacks against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe,
including arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment.
In the latest case, on January 14, the police charged Okay Machisa, the
director of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and chairperson of
the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, for allegedly publishing false statements
prejudicial to the State, fraud and forgery after allegedly conducting
illegal voter registration. Machisa handed himself to the police on January
14, accompanied by his lawyer, and remains in detention.
In a previous incident, ZimRights Education Programmes Manager, Leo
Chamahwinya, and ZimRights Local Chapter Chairperson, Dorcas Shereni, were
arrested by the police on 13 December 2012. They were both denied bail by
the High Court and remain in detention.
We are concerned about the crackdown on non-governmental organisations and
dissenting voices seen as critical of President Robert Mugabe's rule and
apparently politically motivated prosecutions, ahead of the elections which
are expected to take place later this year.
We welcome the temporary release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, the well-known lawyer
and human rights activist who is serving a six-year sentence in Tehran’s
Evin Prison. Ms Sotoudeh was granted a three day temporary leave and it has
now been confirmed that she joined her family yesterday.
The travel restrictions imposed on her family – the issue that caused her to
go on hunger strike in the autumn -- were lifted in December, so her
temporary release marks a second improvement in her case. We hope that the
temporary leave will be extended, and that Ms Sotoudeh will soon be
By Fungai Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Sunday, 20 January 2013 11:30
HARARE - A Zanu PF probe into alleged diamond money looting in Manicaland
and President Robert Mugabe’s December confession that his ministers were
demanding bribes of up to $10 million have certified the 50-year-old party
as inherently corrupt.
As first reported by our sister paper the Daily News on Wednesday, the
investigation centres on the alleged plunder of nearly $1 million worth of
diamond money clandestinely donated by gem mining firms for the party’s
With many of Mike Madiro’s provincial executive at the centre of the probe,
which further threatens to tear Zanu PF apart along factional lines,
analysts say the unravelling drama confirms a long-held view or perception
about the depth of the graft cancer in the ex-majority party.
Despite the outturn of solid evidence — a fact Mugabe himself has
acknowledged — party functionaries and cadres still engage in large-scale
thieving with impunity, they said.
Pedzisayi Ruhanya, a Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director and strident
critic of the Harare regime, says there is no political will in Zimbabwe to
“There is no political will because those people who are being arrested are
small fish. We will only know that the government is against corruption when
a minister is arrested. The Cabinet is the biggest pond and we wish to see
officials from Zanu PF arrested,” he said.
Charity Manyeruke, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, however, says Mugabe
is ready to tackle corruption and blames a docile Parliament and an
ineffective ACC for high levels of corruption.
“I think there is political will to deal with corruption if we take a cue
from what the president said last year at the conference. When a leader of a
political party speaks against corruption at that level, that shows
commitment,” she said.
Manyeruke said the country’s low ranking is a cause for concern, calling on
parliamentarians to be more vigilant.
“The issue of corruption is very worrying and we really have to work hard to
improve our standing. We need to keep checking on ministers in order to
monitor corruption and our MPs should raise these issues.
However, the MPs are also a problem because there are also corrupt and are
not playing their oversight role,” the UZ political science lecturer said.
Another socio-economic commentator, who requested not to be named, said:
“Zanu PF is to blame for the cancerous corruption within the party and in
the country in general. Firstly, the leadership of the party and in
government has failed to institute mechanisms to decisively deal with
corruption and hold those responsible to account for their crimes.”
“Secondly, Zanu PF has created a perception in society that the party
routinely demands bribes, this is why diamonds companies in Mutare gave
around $700 000 believing it to be meant for party business,” said a local
So bad is the culture of corruption in Zanu PF that national chairperson
Simon Khaya-Moyo has called it: corrupto-neurship.
At the conference, Mugabe repeated concerns by ex-South African president
Thabo Mbeki about some of his top aides, who are bilking the state for
Although the octogenarian leader’s shocking disclosure was aimed at
exonerating himself from rampant graft or vice gripping the party — to an
extent that those soliciting for bribes have been using his name — the net
effect of that admission or public-washing of dirty linen as well as
unfolding bung scandal is that Zanu PF is corrupt as a movement, analysts
With party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa confirming the $750
000 diamond cash probe last week, those facing a roasting include: youth
secretary for security Admire Mahachi, information head Masimba Kangai,
ousted Tawanda Mukodza and former district coordinating committee member
For instance, Madiro’s lifestyle is under the spotlight after allegedly
building a 36-roomed mansion.
The beleaguered Manicaland provincial chairperson — at some point suspended
for allegedly siding with Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in what is now
known as the Tsholotsho debacle — is still considered an ally of the
Midlands supremo in his ambitions to succeed Mugabe.
In this long-standing power duel, the Chirimanzu-Zibagwe legislator’s
opponent has been touted as Vice President Joice Mujuru.
And in the latest turf war in Manicaland, Madiro and company stand accused
of allegedly soliciting money from diamond firms, including Chinese-owned
Anjin, for Zanu PF’s December jaunt or outing, which found its way into
their own pockets. And as the party’s brand continues to suffer at the hands
of corrupt elements within its ranks, the eastern border probe comes amid
growing concerns about Chiadzwa diamond cash abuse.
Last year, Partnership Africa Canada (Pac) said nearly $2 billion worth of
diamonds had been looted out of Zimbabwe — a charge vehemently denied by
Mugabe’s side of government.
In its shocking revelation, the Western-based non-profit organisation says
these gems have been stolen through a network of Zanu PF officials and
international diamond criminals.
The claims — and Zanu PF confirmation of sickening corruption in its ranks —
also comes as a Transparency International (TI) report has shown Zimbabwe
declining in global ratings.
In particular, TI’s local chapter says the country’s newly-found mineral
riches are fuelling this scourge, where Zimbabwe has slipped further to 163
out of 176 surveyed countries. Even, though, the report has urged public
institutions, including Parliament and the Anti-Corruption Commission to
probe corrupt officials, they remain hamstrung by lack of political will to
tackle the scourge.
As such, critics not only continue to point in Mugabe’s way for his lack of
political will and muscle to tackle this vice, but say it is the route in
which his party was also able to build a $6 million “Hall of Shame” in Gweru
as well as fund a $20 million agricultural input scheme.
Whereas Zimbabwe can produce a massive 30 to 40 million carats worth $2
billion per year, according to Belgian diamond expert Filip van Loere,
Finance minister Tendai Biti has had to cut his revenue forecasts after only
receiving a paltry $40 million in diamond remittances — a source of constant
clashes in the inclusive government.
And while Mugabe, and his party apparatchiks are fond of crying sanctions
and blaming “phantom western enemies” for their waning political support, it
is these undemocratic tendencies, if not syndrome, which have cost Zanu PF
For the men and women, meanwhile, who live on crumbs in a land of vast
mineral wealth, they angrily look at the eye-watering riches of Mugabe’s
On the other hand, the probe of five party bigwigs in Manicaland not only
remains a tip of the ice-berg, but offers a glimpse into the ostentatious
lives of some of Zanu PF’s big men, analysts say.
By Richard Chidza, Staff Writer
Sunday, 20 January 2013 11:30
HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has paid homage to the generation
of liberation fighters who established a constitutional order that delivered
the 1980 independence in the wake of the finalisation of a new draft
In a statement following the historic pact by the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) principals on Thursday, Tsvangirai said the Lancaster House
Constitution had played its part.
“The achievement at Lancaster House must never be underestimated, we will
forever be indebted to the sacrifices that were made to achieve that key
moment,” Tsvangirai said.
“But we all recognised that the Lancaster House Constitution was not a
home-grown document and that is why it failed to answer critical questions
for the majority of the people. Although we tried, over the years, to
reform the Lancaster House Constitution, the result was a patchwork that was
unpleasant to the eye. It is this unpleasantness that drove the clamour for
a new, home-grown and people-driven constitutional dispensation.”
Tsvangirai led calls for constitutional and political reform as leader of
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions at the turn of the century through the
National Constitutional Assembly, before spearheading the formation of the
labour-backed MDC in 1999.
Efforts to craft a new charter were still-born after Zimbabweans rejected a
government sponsored draft in February 2000.
Mugabe last year described the Lancaster charter as a “torn pair of jeans
that needed to be thrown away” but his party has in the past also threatened
to call for elections under the same constitution.
Tsvangirai, called for a new culture of constitutionalism in Zimbabwe.
“Unless there is serious commitment to implement and uphold its basic tenets
and values, we will have achieved nothing,” he said.
“It is important that we uphold the provisions of this constitution even if
the outcome does not favour those who hold the reins of power, the rule of
law should be supreme but better still the principles and values that
underpin the law are even more supreme.
“We must build a culture, not of changing the constitution at willy-nilly to
suit our whims, but of allowing the constitution to transform our political
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister paid tribute to the resilience of Zimbabweans.
“This is, without doubt, a defining moment in our nation’s political, social
and economic trajectory.
There were occasions when it seemed there was no light at the end of the
“However, true to their nature, the people of Zimbabwe demonstrated grit,
determination and will power to create this landmark moment in the country’s
history, demonstrated by our capacity for resilience and endurance and
fuelled by an intrinsic desire to change our circumstances for the better.”
Tsvangirai said through the new draft constitution, Zimbabweans had
expressly revealed how they want to be governed.
“Zimbabweans identified and ring-fenced their cherished fundamental rights
and freedoms, which they demand to be guarded jealously. The running thread
in this relationship is the separation of powers and a system of checks and
balances to ensure transparency, accountability and responsible government.”
Paying homage to Mugabe and other GPA principals, Tsvangirai said the
economic and social challenges facing Zimbabwe today are a product of a
“We should collectively be mindful of the fact that what we have is a
product of multiple and sometimes divergent views, all of which demanded
accommodation, people do not always sing a chorus of agreement on all
issues,” he said.
“But we have worked hard to find each other; and ultimately, to produce a
document that is mutually agreeable. What we have is a true testament of the
fact that it is possible to achieve your goals without using violence but
relying purely on peaceful means and the power of persuasion.”
He also paid tribute to Sadc and South African leader and facilitator Jacob
“They have patiently and calmly helped us to navigate the murky waters of
negotiation, reiterating, time and again, the need to ensure completion of
the process,” he said.
A parliamentary committee commonly referred to as Copac has spent the
greater part of the last four year heckling over the crafting of a new
constitution with sceptics predicting that they would fail.
By Fungai Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:26
HARARE - The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC party is overwhelmed
by CVs of people who want to stand on the party’s ticket as either
councillors or legislators.
Nelson Chamisa, the party’s organising secretary, said his party has a “rich
menu” of candidates who include lawyers, journalists, bankers, economists,
the old and young.
“We have a rich menu and an excellent combination of young and dynamic,
tried and tested leaders, experienced senior citizens and skilled
Zimbabweans who want to be MDC candidates come elections,” said Chamisa.
The impending national election have been spiced by the emergence of youth
candidates who are clamouring for a seat at high table and the Diasporans
who have for over a decade financially supported the party.
However, the old guard, some of whom have been MPs for more than a decade
now, is miffed by the emergence of the young Turks or foreign-based
Zimbabweans like former disc-jockey, Eric Knight.
There is also disgruntlement within the rank-and-file as some of the party
activists are against the returning Diaspora who have the means to buy their
way to power.
Chamisa, however, said there was no foreigner in the MDC as the party “has
structures across the world and there is nothing like Diaspora, those people
are Zimbabweans who have every right to stand as party candidates.”
He denied that the party was imposing candidates saying even though dates
for primary elections have not been set, hundreds of people have already
submitted their CVs.
“Democracy is second nature to us and we will not impose candidates,”
“In fact democracy is our symbol and we are going to demonstrate that,” he
Millions of Zimbabweans are scattered across the world having fled political
persecution and harsh economic conditions.
Both Zanu PF and the MDC have structures in some countries such as the
United Kingdom and neighbouring South Africa.
People in the Diaspora also took part in the just-ended constitution-making
process but sadly will not participate in the referendum as the current
legislation prevents them.
The government, which has already resisted on-line voter registration and
claims it does not have resources to reach out to the Diaspora.
by Staff Reporter
PROVINCIAL governors are set to be scrapped and replaced with elected
chairpersons under a deal reached by President Robert Mugabe and his
coalition partners this week.
Devolution was one of the sticking points holding up completion of the new
constitution with Zanu PF insisting the country was too small for devolved
government and also concerned it might encourage division and secessionism.
But Mugabe met with MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and
Welshman Ncube Thursday and thrashed out compromises over the disputed
COPAC co-chair, Paul Mangwana told reporters Friday that provincial
governors, currently appointed by the President, would be replaced under the
“We agreed that there will be no provincial governors with provincial
chairpersons coming into effect,” he said.
“The provincial chairperson will come from the party with majority seats in
that particular province. The chairperson will be elected by the provincial
The appointment of the governors was one of the so-called outstanding issues
in the implementation of the coalition agreement with Tsvangirai accusing
Mugabe of reneging on an agreement for the parties to share the ten
A new prosecuting authority would also be introduced, splitting the office
of the Attorney General who will now concentrate on advising Cabinet.
“We split it into two and the Attorney-General will be the advisor to
Government. He will sit in Cabinet and the office of the prosecuting
authority will be led by the Prosecutor General,” Mangwana said.
The parties also endorsed the proposal for Presidential running mates
although this would only come into effect after ten years.
“On running mates, the parties resolved that they would only be effected
after 10 years from the day the new Constitution comes into place,” Mangwana
“Before those 10 years, if a presidential vacancy arises, the party of the
departed president will provide a successor within 90 days. After those 10
years, the issue of running mates will come into play.”
The Zanu PF official however dismissed claims that the powers of the
Presidency had also been significantly reduced.
“The President retains his powers and on the issue we came with a clause
that stated that the executive powers of the Republic (of Zimbabwe) vests in
the President who, subject to this constitution, shall exercise the same
powers through his Cabinet,” he said.
“It means the President can exercise power on his own and sometimes does
that through his Cabinet. Nothing has been taken away from the President
because he is the one who appoints his Cabinet and can hire or fire a
Cabinet member anytime.”
But Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Eric Matinenga,
added: “There should also be checks and balances on what the President does
and thus we agreed that there are instances where the President should not
act alone but should do so with the approval of a two thirds majority of
The draft constitution will now be finalised before being put to a
referendum, leading to new elections.
By Richard Chidza, Staff Writer
Sunday, 20 January 2013 11:30
HARARE - The lawyer representing a teenage girl who sensationally claimed
that she had been raped at gun point by former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
senior staffer Munyaradzi Kereke two years ago, says police and prosecution
authorities are developing cold feet.
In an interview with the Daily News on Sunday last week, Charles Warara also
said the attorney general’s office must provide official reasons why they
This will allow the victim’s family to proceed with a private prosecution.
He claimed despite a promise to provide details in December, authorities had
suddenly changed tact and sought to prosecute him (Warara) for what he
described as an obscure abuse case.
“We had expected Kereke to be brought before the courts in December. My
understanding from briefings by my clients is that the police had promised
to take the matter to court during the school holidays to give the girl a
chance to testify.
In fact the attorney general had promised they would move ahead and bring
Kereke to justice. Instead, the police concentrated their efforts on trying
to construct a case against me of abuse. They actually wanted me to persuade
my client to give a statement against me,” Warara said.
In October last year, Warara was briefly arrested and released but not
before being forced to provide a warned and cautioned statement.
“Now I realise the police have no case against me because how do they intend
to record a statement from a supposed complainant after the accused’s
statement. They should have had the complainant’s statement first,” Warara
Warara opened a Pandora’s box last year when he wrote to police chief
Augustine Chihuri late last year expressing his disgust at what he called
denial of justice after prosecution authorities refused to charge Kereke
“even though the investigating officer had indicated it was a serious case
and had forwarded it to the AG as normal procedure for guidance.”
Warara claimed lack of proper investigation by the police and tardy
prosecution by the attorney general resulted in his client being denied
justice. The girl’s paternal grandparents, who enjoy a good relationship
with Kereke hit back by lodging a 14-page complaint with the Law Society of
Zimbabwe stating that Warara frequently took the girl to all-night prayer
sessions in Glen Forest at which he abused her.
They demanded an investigation.
“Our clients submit that both Mr Warara and the legal custodians of the
children... must be thoroughly investigated for child abuse for seeking to
achieve other unclear objectives using minor children,” the grandparents’
alleged through lawyer James Makiya.
They further claimed Warara was “long fully briefed, in writing, and on many
occasions , on the true status of the case and why it was discarded as a
false report, yet, somehow he continues to go public with his unfounded
protestations, further infringing the welfare of the minor children.”
Warara has retorted that Kereke’s theatrics will not intimidate him, adding
he has obtained iron-clad evidence to nail him.
He said investigators have been shielding Kereke but maintained the raped
girl, who was 11 years at the time the offence was committed, would
eventually get justice. Warara has stood his ground and is now seeking an
order from the High Court to force Johannes Tomana and the police to indict
According to Warara, the “horrible” case is now with the police after the AG
returned the docket to the law enforcement agents.
“He insisted that the authorities must prosecute or show cause why they
“We are not sitting back. We will soon be lodging our heads of arguments
with the High Court seeking an order to compel the AG and the police to do
their job,” Warara said.
Kereke has maintained that allegations of rape against him were a smear
campaign by his enemies to tarnish his image.
Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:37
MASVINGO - Masvingo provincial governor, Titus Maluleke has issued fresh
threats of banning civic organisations he accuses of interfering with the
electoral process ahead of the make-or-break general elections expected this
Maluleke, who banned 29 NGO’s last year accusing them of refusing to comply
with government regulations to register, on Thursday summoned 45 local civic
organisations and threatened to ban them if they interfered with elections.
“We were summoned by the governor and warned not to interfere in politics or
the election process,” said Gamuchirai Mukura, coordinator for Community
Tolerance and Reconciliation Development (Cotrad).
“He said he will ban any organisation found dabbling in politics ahead of
the polls expected this year.”
Maluleke accuses the civic society of mobilising support for Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.
Cotrad said operating in the province would be very difficult as the
governor, who was accompanied by members of the security sector, from the
dreaded spy agency, CIO, warned they would be watching every activity of the
National Association of Non Governmental Organisations, southern region
chairperson, Sylvester Chin’anga said the national leadership was dealing
with the issue.
Other NGO’s who spoke to this paper but declined to be mentioned for fear of
victimisation said Maluleke and his Zanu PF party were trying to stifle
“I think Maluleke and his party are not happy with the programmes of voter
registration and education that some organisations have started in
preparation for the referendum and the general elections,” said a local
civic society leader.
At the meeting, 43 organisations were forced to make presentations on their
activities last year.
Efforts to get a comment from Maluleke were fruitless as he was said to be
out of office while his mobile phone was not reachable. - Godfrey Mtimba
Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:32
HARARE - Two police officers, who were at large for allegedly conniving with
a night club owner to extort money from Israeli businessman Gilad Shabtai,
finally appeared in court yesterday.
Victor Makoni, 30, and Richard Majome, 28, who are sergeant and constable
respectively, appeared before magistrate Tendai Mahwe facing extortion
The two allegedly connived with Edmore Zviitwa, who runs Kebbab Night Club
Zviitwa is out on bail. Another accomplice is still at large.
The court heard Zviitwa sent Makoni and Majome together with their
accomplice to Meikles Hotel where Shabtai was booked.
Upon arrival, the court heard Makoni and Majome introduced themselves as
police officers, while the other said he was a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
According to State papers, the three were escorted to Shabtai’s room by a
The cops allegedly accused Shabtai of failing to pay his workers and
threatened to close his Chegutu mine.
They allegedly demanded $20 000 from Shabtai, before threatening him with
detention if he failed to pay the money.
Shabtai, the court heard, advised his friend Jacob Shwarts, who was booked
in the same hotel, to call Zviitwa to come and assist him.
Zviitwa took the three aside purporting to negotiate and later told Shabtai
that they had agreed to reduce the amount to $12 000, the court heard.
According to State papers, Zviitwa offered to help Shabtai since he had no
money in person.
The following day, Zviitwa allegedly lied to Shabtai that he had paid the
money to the “cops” and wanted his refund.
Shabtai gave Zviitwa $1 000 as a token of appreciation, according to State
Shabtai became suspicious of the purported police officers and Zimra
official and filed a police report leading to Zviitwa’s arrest.
The cops were later arrested after police investigations.
Magistrate Mahwe released the cops on a $100 bail each.
They will be back in court on February 1. - Ivan Zhakata
Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:24
HARARE - Police in Chivhu have arrested an official in Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’s MDC party on allegations of waving his party symbol to a senior
MDC deputy district chairperson for Chikomba West Patrick Chipo Gwini was
arrested in Chivhu and was detained for about four hours.
Gwini said the police alleged that on Tuesday he provoked a Dispol minor
only identified as Superintendent Mutasa by waving the open palm MDC salute
He has not been formally charged but was ordered to report again to the
Gwini denies the allegations claiming the police had a bone to chew with him
after he accused them of being partisan at a recent meeting with political
“They are accusing me of gesturing an open palm at Mutasa but I was just
greeting him,” Gwini said.
“At the station they accused me of not respecting senior police officers
because I had told them as a party we were concerned by their partisan
approach when they deal with political cases.
Officer commanding Chikomba district Lameck Tsoka said Gwini was cautioned
to create a harmonious working relationship in view of the forthcoming
“The issue is that the guy is an MDC activist and attended an inter-party
liaison meeting that we had called for early this month. He had a negative
attitude towards us and he behaved like he had a personal grudge with Mutasa
and yesterday he waved his party symbol at him.
“It is true the accused raised the issue at the Pennfather meeting where we
admitted as police that we were found wanting but he particularly took aim
at Mutasa despite that we had eventually solved the matter amicably.
“He has not been arrested per se but we just wanted to caution him because
we want to create a good working relationship with political parties ahead
of elections,” said Tsoka.
The arrest of MDC activists for what the party says are trumped up charges
ahead of elections is on the increase in Mashonaland East Province.
The party’s chairperson in the Province Piniel Denga and other party
activists yesterday jointly appeared before the Chivhu Magistrates’ Court
on allegations of holding an illegal meeting at Chikwidibire in Chivhu late
last year. - Mugove Tafirenyika
Sunday, 20 January 2013 10:23
MASVINGO - Treasury is stopping bankrolling the National Youth Fund this
year amid transparency concerns in the manner the cash has been disbursed by
the ministry of Youth, a junior minister has said.
Deputy Youth Minister Tongai Matutu told the Daily News government, through
the ministry of Finance, was contemplating stopping the partisan allocations
of the funds amid reports youths who have benefited from the fund were
failing to pay back to the revolving fund.
Matutu said the fund, meant to give youth loans to engage in self help
projects, was hijacked by Zanu PF.
“This year, chances of getting the fund are slim as the Finance ministry has
indicated that it is not willing to avail it because of the manner in which
the funds were handled and distributed last year,” Matutu said.
“The process lacked transparency and accountability so the Finance ministry
is not happy about it.”
Last year, government availed $10 million for youths, with each province
getting $1 million.
Matutu said other provinces were sidelined and could not get their
“The other thing is that the fund was not shared equally in all the
provinces,” he said.
“Mashonaland provinces, central east, west and Harare Province were the
beneficiaries at the expense of others like Masvingo, Matabeleland and
Manicaland so there was regionalism,” he added.
Matutu alleged there was partisan allocations.
“It was not important how viable your project was in disbursing of the fund
but which party card you carried; that is why a few MDC youths got the funds
while Zanu PF youth looted it,” he said.
Youth minister Saviour Kasukuwere admitted youths were failing to pay back
the loans when he addressed a party youth conference at Victoria High School
He threatened to name and shame party youths who were giving banks headaches
to get loans paid back.
“We are having problems with beneficiaries who are not willing to pay back
the loans. This should be a revolving fund and we will not hesitate to name
and shame them, we will do so even in the press,” Kasukuwere said. - Godfrey
Sunday, 20 January 2013 12:00
HARARE - A major Chinese mall and hotel project — built on a Harare wetland
near the National Sports Stadium — is under military guard, in what could be
a first for commercial assets in Zimbabwe, the Weekend Post can reveal.
With Chinese firm Anjin reportedly behind the mega Long Cheng Plaza, the gem
mining company from Asia has also gone into numerous joint venture
partnerships with the Zimbabwean army under Emmerson Mnangagwa and
From the murky diamond mining operations in Manicaland’s Chiadzwa area, Zanu
PF’s Hall of Shame in Gweru, the Zimbabwe Defence College just outside
Harare and now the “frog Hotel” in the capital, the military’s hand is
The property got its name following comments by Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
(ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke who said they would not
sacrifice a lot of jobs to save 23 trees and a few frogs.
His comments were in reaction to Environmental Management Agency (Ema)’s
demands to stop construction on environmentally sensitive grounds. Army
spokesperson Alphios Makotore requested questions in writing.
However, the mall is probably the only commercial property outside
government buildings that are guarded by the military.
Even cabinet ministers’ and the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s residence
are under police guard.
An official with the Chinese company identified as Zhuo Rui told the Weekend
Post, the company possessed licences for both a hotel and mall.
“We have licence for both and the hotel should be coming on stream later
this year. The shopping mall is ready and you can also come in to check,”
Officials from the Harare City Council told the Weekend Post there had not
been any changes in the approved plans and land use.
“As far as I know there was no change of land use. It is a hot potato. There
are lots of people involved and some not so friendly people,” said an
insider who refused to be identified.
Kaseke had said over $300 million will be invested in the new 300-bed hotel.
He said already, over 500 locals were working on the site, while over 3 000
jobs would be created once the hotel and shopping malls are complete.
“So some people wanted us to sacrifice thousands of jobs and forgo these
massive investments in order to protect frogs and 23 trees. Why did they not
complain when the National Sports Stadium was built?” he asked.
Another official said the Chinese wanted to raise money for the hotel using
rentals from the mall.
“The hotel will be built behind the mall, they want to raise money first,”
the paper heard.
Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi could not confirm whether they had been
any land use licence changes.
“I would not know but I am sure they do have. If they are saying they are
licenced to do what they have done then lets run it like that,” Gwindi said.
Personnel in the company’s shop leasing office told the Weekend Post that
most of the shops at the new complex have been snapped up by prospective
tenants with rates pegged depending on the location of the shop.
“The only areas left now are the nite-club, a bar and cinema. We should be
open for business early May,” an official who identified her name as Munatsi
She said rains had disturbed its finalisation.
“The shops are already fully booked and we had hoped to open for business in
April but because of the rains we will have to do it in May. The rates vary
depending on where the shop is located. We charge $8 per square metre for
the top shops and between $22 and $25 per square metre on the ground floor,”
The smallest shop is 36 square meters while the biggest are 100 square
The current heavy rains that have lashed Harare in the past two weeks have
presented the Chinese with a drainage nightmare.
When the Weekend Post crew visited the new shopping complex workers were
busy draining water, by digging trenches to divert water gushing out of the
Ema spokesperson Steady Kangata warned nature might revenge the invasion of
“People must listen when experts speak. The problem is we always have this
behaviour of concentrating on the immediate economic gains without regard to
ecological and social implications. When nature fights back nobody can stop
it and these people might have big problems as time goes on,” Kangata said.
Construction of the multi-million dollar “hotel” which began early last year
was mired in controversy after Ema tried to stop the building arguing they
could not build on an ecological wetland.
Ema threatened legal action against the Chinese firm and even approached
Environment minister Francis Nhema but the Asians have become untouchables
The environmental body then backed down reportedly to political pressure but
not after reportedly fining Harare City Council for the same offence.
Zimbabwe’s military particularly the top brass has been fingered in murky
deals with the Chinese chief among them the contentious Chiadzwa diamonds
that came within a whisker of being identified as blood diamonds by the
Kimberley Process. — WeekendPost
Sunday, 20 January 2013 11:58
HARARE - Residents in one of Zimbabwe’s oldest suburbs sang hallelujah just
around Christmas when their local council deployed a contractor to deal with
recurring sewer problems.
Two weeks into the New Year, residents from St Marys and Zengeza suburbs in
Chitungwiza town were gathered along Rufaro Road, the epicentre of their
sewer problem and the place where the repairmen were working just days back.
And they were not there to pop the bottles for a job well done.
Residents smelt a rat after it emerged council made a mess of the job and
they are now up in arms.
Irate residents who thought the days of hop, skip and jump were gone last
week gathered near the burst sewer pipe on Rufaro Road demanding the head of
Chitungwiza public works department boss Alfonse Tinofa, an engineer.
They said it was a clear dereliction of duty on council’s part that sewage
problems persist. They allege funds for the project pumped by donors have
gone to waste.
The residents blamed council management for incompetence and corruption.
“We are tired of this mess, now this is not even money from our rates but
from donors. This (sewage problem) is certainly not about a lack of funds,
Tinofa just does not care,” said resident Farayi Kagudu.
Kagudu and other residents had hoped the sewage problems were over after the
work done by a reputable construction company over the festive season.
Tinashe Kazuru, a councillor for the ward, said he was disappointed that the
residents were still enduring sewage-related problems.
Workers from the construction company and residents blame council for
messing up the sewer project at Rufaro Road.
“We are surprised that we have been called back yet council said they can
finish the job. Council hired a new contractor to finish the job. Another
reason could be the pipes we laid are small in width,” said a worker, who
could not be named because he was unauthorised to speak on behalf of the
Asked why they had not used the appropriately-sized pipes, he said: “It is
the council engineer who decides on the size of pipes, we just lay them.”
Tinofa did not respond to week-long efforts to get his side of the story.
Work on relaying the pipes by the private and “reputable” construction
company in December last year had fed hope to the sewage-stricken residents
of St Marys and Zengeza.
The company has successfully relayed sewer reticulation pipes in Seke and
other areas in Chitungwiza.
Project engineer Herbert Nyakutsikwa said a “live sewage situation” meant
the downstream needed cleaning but this was not done.
“Council should have done that for sewage to have a thorough flow before
commissioning the sewer line”.
The construction company workers have been milling around along the road
since Tuesday waiting for further instructions from council.
In an interview with the Daily News on Sunday the construction company’s
managing director said the only problem is that Chitungwiza did not unblock
the downstream side of the sewer line along the road before commissioning
‘We can’t take responsibility it was not within our scope of work, we
received an instruction in November to start work on that site and completed
it before shut down.
“We then wrote them a letter that they must ensure the downstream is
unblocked before any connection can be made because this was not within our
scope of works”.
A meeting between council and the contractors was later held on Thursday
resolving to hire a subcontractor chosen by council.
A source close to the goings-on has said the council has since resolved to
engage only management in its procurement committee.
The situation in St Marys mirrors the situation in the town, the country’s
third most populated urban area with a million plus residents.
It has fallen from being a model dormitory set-up to a wretched habitat.
Back in the day — when Chitungwiza was still Chi-Town — residents would
regularly complain how cows from nearby Seke village fouled their hood.
Today, they barely take notice when their own waste flows freely along
Residents here, 30km south of the capital Harare, do not blink at the sight
of small, street dams of their own waste forming on the potholes on roads a
few metres from fireplaces where meals are prepared.
Electricity is now a rarity and fireplace meals are the forced in thing.
In Zengeza, where residents are more pro active in fighting council, a stink
that blasts one’s nostrils passes for the welcome sign to St Marys, the
oldest suburb in Chitungwiza.
A kilometre down the main road linking to the Town Centre, which only a
decade ago stood as the pride of the town, a raw sewage rivulet had been
running through the lanes.
The rivulet appears a permanent feature of the road after the latest botched
Its actual name is Rufaro Road but only the old timers remember this name.
Parwizi (The river) is the name coined by residents who are enduring a life
of dirt and neglect.
They are so used to the stench of raw sewage, the unsightly crusts of human
waste at the dry “banks”, the incessant buzz of flies that coining their own
names helps make light work of their grave situation.
Residents say it also helps “give life” to their conditions and without a
caring council, they can only watch enviously as other creatures feast at
Road runner chickens — a favourite meal for many urbanites missing their
rural upbringing — feast on the flies. The flies are feasting on the human
For the humans, a new generation has been born, the “sewage generation”.
While it is hope, skip and jump for adult folk who have seen better times,
innocent children play their games on the streets, the human waste in the
mix. They are comfortable and see no problem at all. - Albert Masaka
Zimbabweans in the diaspora have appealed to South Africa to ensure that international observers are sent to Zimbabwe for the upcoming elections. The appeal came in a letter and petition delivered to the South African High Commission in London, which also called on President Zuma to get tough with Mugabe.
The letter from the Vigil read:
‘Zimbabweans in the diaspora wish South Africans a peaceful and prosperous new year.
As we begin the run up to elections due by October, we fear 2013 will not be peaceful and prosperous for Zimbabweans.
President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party continues to obstruct the Global Political Agreement and shows no sign of allowing free and fair elections. Indeed, it has recently stepped up its harassment of human rights organisations.
We urge you as the SADC facilitator to call President Mugabe to account. We are particularly worried by reports that Zimbabwean diamonds are being bartered for Chinese weapons when our country faces no external threat.
We beg you to press for international observers to be sent to Zimbabwe as soon as possible to deter election violence.
This appeal has been delivered to the South African High Commission in London by the Zimbabwe Vigil and MDC members in the UK. It is part of the monthly 21st Movement Free Zimbabwe Global Protest. We enclose a petition from the Global Protest.’
The petition was drawn up by our friends in the United States and the text is available on our campaigns page (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/468-pertition-to-president-zuma-).
On a bitterly cold day when snow disrupted travel, the Vigil was glad to have some 20 people outside South Africa House with posters reading: ‘Election observers for Zimbabwe now’, ‘Zuma kickstart Global Political Agreement’, ‘Zuma end Mugabe foot-dragging’, ’ Zanu PF readies for election violence’, etc.
Vigil founder member Ephraim Tapa said international observers must be in place six months before the elections and six months after them. He went on to say people in the diaspora were the victims of South Africa’s failure to broker peace. South Africa must live up to its principles and deal with the crisis in Zimbabwe. He added that all those who had done wrong must be brought to book.
· A dozen or so people went on to the first Zimbabwe Action Forum of 2013. Among the subjects discussed was a possible demonstration outside the Chatham House think tank in London on Thursday 31st January when they will be launching a new book on the Zimbabwe land issue ‘Zimbabwe takes back its land’. The book claims to counter ‘the dominant media narratives of oppression and economic stagnation in Zimbabwe’. the Vigil wishes to make the point that, more than a decade after the seizure of commercial farms, 1.7 million Zimbabweans are in need of food assistance from international donors. The proposed new constitution was also discussed. Ephraim Tapa said the three principals had hi-jacked the process leaving Zanu PF in control. Ephraim and David Kadzutu of our partner organisation ‘Zimbabwe We Can’ outlined the aims of the movement, which they said was envisaged as an umbrella group like the Anti-apartheid Movement embracing all Zimbabweans working for freedom and democracy. It was agreed to hold the next meeting of ZAF on 2nd February – see events and notices for full details.
· The Vigil was refreshed to read the straight talking by the MDC’s exiled Treasurer General Roy Bennett, who disagreed with the hypocritical tributes to the late Vice President John Nkomo. He said: “How can anyone with any sense say that John Nkomo dedicated his life to Zimbabwe's prosperity? Since the 1980s, he has sat at the heart of the beast that has destroyed Zimbabwe's economy. He has held the hand of the dictator that has obliterated our hopes and freedoms. He must now be remembered by the choices he made. He chose to oppose the people, rather than serve them. He walked around in tailor-made suits while Zimbabweans walked in rags. He received private medical treatment in South Africa, while Zimbabweans in South Africa were dying in the townships’.
· A pom pom for the valiant supporters who managed to make the difficult journey to the Vigil today: Lindiwe Bare, Dennis Benton, Rose Benton, Vimbai Bhanhire, Makaza Chizinga, Simbarashe Dziruni, Thandiwe Gwarumba, David Kadzutu, Christopher Kamuzonde, Jonathan Kariwoh, Rosemary Khumalo, Juliah Magidivani, Ishmael Makina, Cephas Maswoswa, Victoria Matewere, Febbie Mpofu, Allen Msoko, Chigwedere Muchineripi, Lucia Mudzimu, Grace Munyanyi, Tafadzwa Mushakwe, Beverly Mutandiro, Wish Mutasa, Mary Muteyerwa, George Ncube, Allan Njanji, Xoliso Sithole, Ephraim Tapa, Dumi Tutani, Tendayi Vheremu.
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.
FOR THE RECORD: 30 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
· ROHR Birmingham Branch Meeting. Saturday 26th January from 1 – 4 pm. Venue: All Saints Centre, Vicarage Road, King’s Heath, Birmingham B14 7RA. Contact: Anne Chikumba 07857528546, Lorraine Manenji 07854801250, Petronella Mapara 07903644612, Jane Mary Mapfumo 07412310429.
· Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF). Saturday 2nd February from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. The meeting will take place straight after the Vigil. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
· Launch of the ROHR Coventry Branch. Saturday 2nd February. Further details as they become available.
· Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 2nd February from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB. Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria. www.swazilandvigil.co.uk.
· ROHR Leicester Branch meeting. Saturday 9th February from 12.30 – 3.30 pm. Venue: The Brite Centre, Braunstone Ave, Braunstone, Leicester LE3 1LE. Contact: Christopher Kamuzonde 07449150041, Enniah Dube 07403439707
· Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2012 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/467-vigil-highlights-2012. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2012 Highlights page.
· The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.
· ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.
· Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
· Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil.
· Useful websites: www.zanupfcrime.com which reports on Zanu PF abuses and www.ipaidabribe.org.zw where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
By Guthrie Munyuki
HARARE – Daily News senior assistant editor Guthrie Munyuki (GM) talks to self-exiled MDC treasurer-general Roy Bennett (RB) about his struggle for social justice, democracy and his frustrations.
GM: How much support have you been getting from your party since you went into exile?
RB: Like hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who have been victimised by Zanu’s murderous regime there has been no support forthcoming from our party. We all got involved in the people’s project to bring true change and get rid of Zanu’s murderous mafia.
So, instead, I would look at it from the opposite perspective: how much support have I given the party since I have been in exile? True cadres of the MDC joined to give not to take or expect something back; they joined to serve not to eat.
As time goes by the core of the party, which is the people, will hold us all accountable. No leader would have a position if it was not for the people; the MDC brand, the Tsvangirai brand, is the project of the people of Zimbabwe.
They supported the MDC/Tsvangirai brand, died for the MDC/Tsvangirai brand, had their property looted destroyed for the MDC/Tsvangirai brand, beaten and raped for the MDC/Tsvangirai brand and so on and so forth. Let us leaders never forget that.
I do not expect any support from my party, rather I give my support unconditionally. My party is me, my party is the people’s project. Together to the end. The last mile.
GM: When Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai accepted President Robert Mugabe’s refusal to have you sworn as deputy Agriculture minister and instead appointed the late Seiso Moyo, how did you take this, considering that at first Tsvangirai had spiritedly held a collective party decision not to budge on any other candidate other than yourself?
RB: I never joined the MDC for a position. I was disappointed that this decision was not communicated to me directly and that I had to hear it from a journalist, but as the MDC is in government with absolutely no power, I understand that difficult decisions in the interest of progress have to be taken to move things forward.
I trust this was a collective decision within the party and therefore as a true and disciplined member of the party I accept that which I may not agree with and move on. Having said this, I was relieved not to have to try and do anything meaningful under the regime which is still fully in control.
Agriculture is the ministry where the most crooked and destructive policies were implemented and I would more than likely ended up delivering to (Agriculture minister Joseph) Made the same fate as I dished out to Chinamasa (Bennett was jailed for one year for assaulting Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa in 2004 during a parliamentary debate).
GM: How much of a contribution are you making to the party while you are domiciled outside the country?
RB: Being outside (the country) obviously creates its problems, but there are also considerable advantages. For one, I can operate without being harassed by Zimbabwe’s mafia, otherwise known as Zanu PF.
It has given me the opportunity to pass on what the people at grass roots level want the world to know. I have a very deep personal responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe, many of whom I communicate with daily, both inside and outside the party.
It has also meant I can raise resources for the party for the elections and other projects, tasks that would have been more difficult from inside Zimbabwe.
GM: The MDC has been slammed for failing to curb corruption among its councillors and senior officials. What impact does this corrupt party image have on the performance of the party in forthcoming elections?
RB: There have been problems with corruption in the party. Any intelligent person can see that. The councillors in Mutare are one example. I am not surprised because Zanu PF has a long history of passing the HIV of graft on to those whom they deal with. Those they don’t kill, they will try to corrupt.
However, its rubbish that MDC are already as corrupt as Zanu PF. And the most important issue is this: what are we going to do about it? There will always be rotten apples — it’s human nature and you get crooks in every country, in all walks of life — but we need to create a culture of intolerance towards such people and such practices. No politicians can be above or beyond reproach.
We must also look to create truly independent institutions that will have the power to root out corruption wherever it is. So, internally, the party must renew its commitment to create the right culture and, externally, it must look to create independent bodies free from political interference that will deal ruthlessly with problems.
At the end of the day, these are criminal matters and I hope that the police and other anti-corruption bodies will be restored to their rightful place in Zimbabwe. Zanu PF has stripped our judiciary and law enforcement agencies of their integrity but we need to reverse this.
GM: The MDC is accused of not having done enough to expose corruption, and instead, some key party members are accused of accumulating wealth over a short period of time. Isn’t it in the best interests of the party, in the eyes of the electorate, to have a lifestyle audit?
RB: In the longer term, measures such as lifestyle audits conducted by independent international auditing firms will be absolutely critical.
They should be paired with other measures like anti-corruption hotlines and so on. Still, there are challenges in the short term that make full transparency a problem — for example, many party members are wary of exposing all their assets to Zanu PF because this is an invitation to have them stolen.
But I think that an aggressive audit should be done immediately should the MDC take power.
This is not an option but an absolutely essential measure. In the meantime, a confidential internal audit should be conducted by independent auditors and anything that cannot be explained should be tabled in the Standing Committee and then publicly.
GM: It has been said but dismissed, that Tsvangirai is facing a rebellion if he does not win the next elections yet he remains popular. Why would some of your colleagues even think of such a plan instead of galvanising the party for electoral victory?
RB: Regardless of what polls or so-called “experts” say, I don’t think there’s any chance of MDC losing a free and fair election. Why would the majority of Zimbabweans vote for a party of drunken geriatrics that has run the country into the ground? Rather, the question is what will happen if terror and vote-rigging result in a Zanu “win”?
And what will happen if MDC wins but the Joint Operations Command (Joc) continue their coup and refuse to step down? These are the real questions on the lips of Zimbabweans. In that situation, the MDC will face some very tough problems that go well beyond whether Morgan or myself or any other MDC leader stays in position.
GM: How much suffering have you had for being a Tsvangirai-led MDC senior official?
RB: I have suffered, of course — and most of these things are well-documented (see http://freezimbabwe.com/resources.php). But this is what happens in a dictatorship and many Zimbabweans have suffered much more than me.
Many have died; others have seen their families slaughtered. The only way we are going to have a chance of a normal life is to get rid of Zanu PF. While those people have the fingers of their right hand on the triggers and fingers of their left in the till we will never see real rusununguko. Let’s not forget that.
Anyone who says otherwise is sticking their head in the sand.
GM: Will you ever recover?
RB: I am fine. I am strong and I am fighting on. It is normal, everyday (it is) Zimbabweans who give me strength, who encourage me daily, and I am pressing on for them. My re-election at congress is a request from the people that I keep fighting — that I keep fighting for ordinary Zimbabweans, keep fighting for the principles that drove the formation of the MDC in 1999, and I take those responsibilities very seriously.
I also have a loving family and a loving God, so I am far from being down-and-out.
GM: What’s next for you? Do you intend to participate in next elections, how and where?
RB: Some of those decisions will have to be weighed further down the track. I will do what is strategic and what is in the best interests of the people.
GM: Lastly, what has your party not done which it should have done, to make sure that Mugabe is forced to institute sweeping reforms as spelt out and agreed in the GPA?
RB: There is always more that could have been done. It is unfortunate that things like Posa are still on the statute books. This is based on repressive legislation that is more than 40 years old. But the main problem is Zanu PF itself. It is foolish to think any little pieces of paper will stop them from doing what they want.
No amount of changes to the constitution or the law will stop Zanu PF from being Zanu PF. Root-and-branch surgery is required. The MDC was formed to bring about democratic change and it is only when a democratic government takes power that life will change for the better in Zimbabwe.Daily News