By Lance Guma
27 January 2010
An attempt by the state to use the testimony of an arms dealer, wrongfully
imprisoned over 3 years ago, is spectacularly backfiring in the High Court.
On Wednesday Peter Hitschmann told the court that MDC Treasurer-General Roy
Bennett was not involved in any terrorism plot against Robert Mugabe's
regime. Only a few days ago a judge ruled that the confession from
Hitschmann in 2006 was obtained through torture by state security agents.
Soon after his release in 2009 Hitschmann told SW Radio Africa in an
interview, "I was kicked in the testicles a few times and then they resorted
to using cigarettes on my buttocks. But more effectively they arrested my
wife and my son." He was told that if he didn't confess, his family would
join him at the army barracks where he was detained.
This week Hitschmann was declared 'a hostile witness' meaning the state can
cross examine him even though he was meant to be their star witness. But he
shot more holes through the state case when he told the judge that Bennett
had nothing to with the firearms he kept and that he did not provide any
funding for any plot to topple the government. The state insists Bennett
deposited funds into Hitschmann's Mozambican bank account and produced two
printed e-mails printed as evidence.
The defence however questioned the authenticity of the e-mails, saying they
could have been written and printed from anywhere. The judge now has to rule
on whether the e-mails are admissible as evidence in court.
Hitschmann, who is a former policeman and licenced arms dealer, had
collected guns from displaced white commercial farmers. He said during the
farm invasions he acted as a conduit for firearms for the police. The
receipts he got when he handed the weapons to the police mysteriously
disappeared when he was arrested. According to testimony he provided to the
court, one of his clients included the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, who bought
arms from him, allegedly for their security needs.
Hitschmann became a convenient tool for the state to use in its attempts to
harass and frustrate Bennett who, as a farmer, was forced off his
Charleswood Estate in Manicaland. The State has been relentless in its
harassment of Bennett and in 2004, when Bennett pushed Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa in Parliament after a heated argument, he was jailed for a
year with hard labour by a ZANU PF dominated parliament. It's thought
because of the incident the Justice Minister remains determined to make his
life a living hell.
In this latest case Bennett is charged with committing terrorism, banditry
and sabotage. The state case is that he wanted to assassinate key government
figures and also blow up a major communication link in Bromley. But
originally Pachedu, as he is affectionately known in MDC circles, did not
hang around to be tried by a compromised judiciary. He fled to South Africa
where he was to spend some time in exile. Hitschmann however remained behind
and was tried and convicted in a farcical process that saw him spend 3 years
and 4 months in prison.
When the coalition government was eventually formed Bennett returned to
Zimbabwe, only for the supposed new partners in the government, ZANU PF, to
turn on him and arrest him a few days before he was to be sworn in as Deputy
Agriculture Minister. The current co-Home Affairs Minister, Giles Mutsekwa,
was another MDC official arrested in 2006 over the same alleged plot but
Bennett remains a key target, with some analysts suggesting Mugabe is
desperate to block a displaced former white farmer from becoming Deputy
On Wednesday, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the party was firmly behind
Bennett and his nomination as the Deputy Agriculture Minister. He said
events in the case so far, including Hitschmanns' testimony, had vindicated
the party position that Bennett is an innocent man.
January 27, 2010
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - High Court Judge, Chinembiri Bhunu, has reserved judgement on the
application by the State to bring in email evidence allegedly downloaded
from the laptop of Peter Michael Hitschmann, a key witness and alleged
accomplice in the terrorism case of MDC treasurer general, Roy Bennett.After
the court had ruled as inadmissible evidence sourced through the so-called
confessions from the firearms dealer, the prosecution, led by Attorney
General Johannes Tomana now seeks to have the emails messages in question
used as evidence of communication between Hitschmann and Bennett.
But the defence has challenged the production of the emails which it says
could have been created by State security agents.
The State says the emails contain details of the alleged conspiracy between
Bennett and Hitschmann to commit acts of insurgency and banditry.
"The State, My Lord, has been barred from relying on the admissions which
were specified in this court, namely handwritten statements by Peter Michael
Hitschmann, video evidence and the sworn statement by the witness," said
"For that reason, it has abandoned the use of those three admitted
"These (emails) are documents separate from any admission that Peter Michael
Hitschmann placed. These are documents which were found independently and
separately from the admission. The objection by the defence counsel is
ill-founded and must be dismissed."
Tomana said the State was producing the printed emails as evidence to prove
that there is such evidence.
Tomana was adamant the emails were "verifiable evidence" which must be
treated separately from the other pieces of evidence which were ruled as
inadmissible by the court.
"The emails contain relevant executive statements between the witness and
the accused person and there is no rule of admissibility that bars this
court from accepting them," said Tomana.
The State on Wednesday called one Precious Nyasha Matare, a Central
Intelligence Organization (CIO) operative, who works as a typist.
Matare told the court she was summoned by the police in Mutare soon after
Hitschmann's arrest on March 6, 2006, to assist them download the emails
from Hitschmann's laptop. The laptop is among the items which are being held
by the State as exhibits.
On her part, Matare said she found Hitschmann in the office of the then
Officer Commanding Manicaland Province, Senior Assistant Commissioner Ronald
Muderedzwa. She says she was asked to print the emails following directions
from Hitschmann, who was in handcuffs and leg irons.
Matare told the court she recognized the documents when they were produced
before her through the email addresses which were there.
"My Lord," said lead defence counsel, Beatrice Mtetwa, in her submissions,"
the witness says that she is a typist. I do not believe that gives her the
expertise to give evidence as to the origins of the emails.
"From her emails," she added, "she clearly does not know the addresses of
the various parties and she clearly cannot say the emails came from whom
"The witness says she found the laptop on the table but does not tell us how
the laptop came to be there.
"What was done by persons from the President's office without following the
proper procedure cannot be ruled admissible. My Lord, there can be nothing
independent about emails that were printed in the same unfree circumstances
as the other statements.
"This is particularly so, My Lord, as Hitschmann has already said that such
emails were shown to him and does not know their origins."
Mtetwa further contends the police should produce expert evidence to prove
the emails were, indeed, an exchange between Hitschmann and Bennett.
"There is nothing, My Lord, which indicates that without a proper foundation
and we respectfully submit that they remain prejudicial to the accused,"
Said Mtetwa. "We, therefore, remain resolute to their production."
After both submissions were made, Justice Bhunu reserved his judgement to
Wednesday February 3, 2010.
Should Bhunu rule against the production of the emails, the State's case
will further crumble. The emails have become the last piece of evidence at
the disposal of the State as it seeks to link Bennett to the offence, which
carries a death penalty in the case of a conviction.
After adjournment the previous day, the matter opened Wednesday with
Hitschmann telling the court that he was not the owner of all the weapons
produced as exhibits in court.
Hitschmann further said the exhibits produced in Bennett's trial were half
of those produced in his own trial. In that case Hitschmann was acquitted on
that particular charge but convicted on a lesser one.
The firearms dealer further said he did not know why the State summary in
his case was different from that of Bennett, who is being charged of the
He also told the court that during his own trial in 2006 there was no
mention of any email communication and bank deposits allegedly made by
Bennett and that police did not seek his assistance in accessing his
Mozambican account which he says is for his normal business transactions in
the neighbouring country.
Hitschmann told the court he was not present when the emails were being
downloaded from his laptop. He said he did not know the origins of a CD or
of a desktop computer hard drive that were allegedly recovered from him.
The court also heard that the police did not highlight in their
investigation log that they had recovered a laptop from him or that they had
downloaded any emails, something that is a requirement during police
Asked if this was normal, Hitschmann, a former police officer responded, "It
is not only abnormal, it is also dangerous, My Lord."
Hitschmann also told the court he did not consider himself a hostile witness
as has already been declared. He said he had tried to cooperate with the
Hitschmann further said he was only made aware he was being treated as
co-accused with Bennett in October 2009 when he was being sub-poenaed to
testify in the MDC official's trial.
"It was never very clear whether I was the chief conspirator or deputy chief
conspirator," he said. "What I know is that I was not a conspirator."
By Alex Bell
27 January 2010
The shock decision this week by the High Court to dismiss a 2008 regional
ruling on the unlawful land 'reform' programme has sparked an angry outcry,
with some observers calling it a 'travesty of justice'.
Justice Barack Patel on Tuesday dismissed a finding by the human rights
court of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which ruled that
Robert Mugabe's land grab campaign was unlawful. Justice Patel said the
regional Tribunal's ruling would have no effect in Zimbabwe because of the
political upheaval reversing 10 years of land seizures would cause. He added
that enforcing the Tribunal's ruling would be against Zimbabwe's domestic
laws and agrarian policies, noting that "the greater public good must
"Apart from the political enormity of any such exercises, it would entail
the eviction, upheaval and eventual relocation of many, if not most, of the
beneficiaries of the land reform programme," Justice Patel said.
The SADC Tribunal's ruling in 2008 came as a hard won victory for a group of
79 commercial farmers who had all either lost land, or been targeted for
land invasion, under the chaotic land grab campaign. Led by Chegutu farmer,
Michael Campbell and his son-in-law Ben Freeth, the farmers took their
battle before the Tribunal in an effort to secure their property rights. The
Tribunal ordered that the government respect those rights and compensate the
farmers who had already lost land. As a SADC member state, Zimbabwe was
meant to adhere to the Tribunal ruling.
But the farmers' battle did not end there and the often violent drive to
remove the remaining commercial farmers from productive land in Zimbabwe has
continued to intensify. Campbell is no longer on the property which was
violently invaded last year by thugs working for top ZANU PF official,
Nathan Shamuyarira. All the crops were stolen along with much of the farming
equipment. Both the Campbell's and the Freeth's properties were burnt down,
as well as the homes of their workers, who were also beaten and brutalised.
At least 80 other properties have also, since the SADC ruling in late 2008,
been forcibly taken over, in direct contravention of the Tribunal's orders.
The government has previously dismissed the SADC ruling as 'null and void',
and last year announced it was no longer abiding by the Tribunal's orders.
The farmers meanwhile have not been able to have the ruling enforced,
because the courts have on different occasions refused to register it. SADC
treaty law states that enforcement of the Tribunal's orders must take place
in accordance with local laws. In 2008, an urgent application filed by
Campbell to have the Tribunal's ruling registered was deemed 'not urgent' by
the High Court.
Tuesday's ruling by Justice Patel was in connection with yet another attempt
to have the SADC Tribunal ruling registered and enforced. But in a decision
that has shocked supporters of the SADC ruling, Justice Patel dismissed it
as a threat to 'agrarian reform' in Zimbabwe.
Justice Patel concluded by saying that there is an "overwhelmingly negative
impact of the Tribunal's decision on domestic law and agrarian reform in
Zimbabwe, and not withstanding the international obligations of the
Government I am deeply satisfied that the registration and consequent
enforcement of that judgment would be fundamentally contrary to the public
policy of this country."
A rights group set up to actively campaign for the support and enforcement
of the SADC land ruling, reacted with shock and anger on Wednesday. The
group, SADC Tribunal Rights watch, is led by Ben Freeth. Speaking to SW
Radio Africa on Wednesday he said that "it is a sad day for any country rife
with human rights abuse, when a member of the judiciary entrenches the
future possibility of human rights abuse." Freeth added that far from being
for the 'public good', the land reform program has 'indisputably' been a
programme of violent, forced eviction that has resulted in the total
collapse of agriculture in Zimbabwe.
More than 4,000 farming families and at least a million of their workers and
their families have been driven off the land and out of their homes since
Mugabe launched the land grab campaign a decade ago. The country's leading
agricultural workers' union, GAPWUZ, has said that at least 60% of workers
evicted in the land reform exercise were beaten and brutalised by land
invaders. Farmers, who kept in contact with their staff after eviction, have
reported that 40% have died since losing their homes and jobs. Meanwhile
most of the beneficiaries of 'land reform' have been top ZANU PF officials,
who now own multiple properties. These farms have mostly been left to run
barren, leaving the 'breadbasket' of Africa almost wholly dependent on food
"The judge, in his attempt to legalise a programme of ethnic cleansing, has
joined the ranks of other judges under dictatorial regimes such as in Nazi
Germany or Stalinist Soviet Union and left Zimbabweans more exposed than
ever to further abuse by the Zimbabwe Government," Freeth said.
Within hours of the ruling, rights groups such as the SADC Tribunal Rights
Watch, as well as observers and supporters of the SADC ruling, were
expressing their outrage, but surprisingly there has been no comment yet
from SADC. They have remained completely silent throughout the entire time
that the Zimbabwe government has ignored its ruling. This latest High Court
ruling effectively dismisses the legal powers of the SADC Tribunal that
Zimbabwe, as a signatory to the SADC Treaty, is bound to respect. One would
also assume that other SADC member states, like South Africa, would have
expressed some concern that the region's statutes of human rights were being
publicly flouted by Zimbabwe. But no country in the region has commented
There has also been no criticism or response from the MDC, which recently
indicated that ongoing land attacks could be added to their list of
outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). The party last
week said it was 'concerned' by ongoing land invasions, but it has not
commented on this latest development.
SADC TRIBUNAL RIGHTS WATCH
SADC Tribunal Judgment of 28 November 2008 in favour of 78 Zimbabwean farmers: Case in the Zimbabwe High Court – 26 January 2010
In the case in the Zimbabwe High Court, Justice Patel delivered judgment yesterday, 26 January. In his judgment he was “more than satisfied” that the SADC Tribunal had been constituted properly and had jurisdiction within the SADC states, including Zimbabwe, although he was “not entirely persuaded” that the Tribunal could “entertain and adjudicate alleged violations of human rights which might be committed by member states against their own nationals.”
SADC Tribunal Rights Watch finds it hard to understand the reasoning here where the broad principles of the SADC Treaty on which the Tribunal finds its guiding principles as being “human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” are very specific.
Justice Patel goes on to say that despite accepting the Tribunal's rulings, the said individual rulings should be “subject to a consideration of the facts of each individual case.” The Constitution of Zimbabwe is quoted which says that “the Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.”
Justice Patel says it is contrary to public policy in Zimbabwe to go against the Constitution. SADC Tribunal Rights Watch believes that by saying this, he is opening the door wide to allow the Bill of Rights to be trampled by any dictatorship that may spring up to change constitutions in conformity with dictatorial demands of the executive.
The judge goes on to state that the land reform program “is quintessentially a matter of public policy in Zimbabwe, conceived well before the country attained its sovereign independence.” He says that “the greater public good must prevail.”
Justice Patel concludes by saying that there is an “overwhelmingly negative impact of the Tribunal’s decision on domestic law and agrarian reform in Zimbabwe, and not withstanding the international obligations of the Government I am deeply satisfied that the registration and consequent enforcement of that judgment would be fundamentally contrary to the public policy of this country.”
He dismissed the matter with no order as to costs.
SADC Tribunal Rights Watch believes that it is a sad day for any country rife with human rights abuse, when a member of the judiciary entrenches the future possibility of human rights abuse.
By dismissing international treaties in favour of laws that fly in the face of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Zimbabwe authorities have brought about the direct suffering of over 2 million farmers and farm workers, most of whom have been left homeless or jobless.
The people of Zimbabwe are now totally dependent on international food aid. The land reform program has resulted in a net de-settlement of people and has brought the vast majority of Zimbabweans into poverty.
Far from being for the “public good,” which the judge has evidently deceived himself into writing, the land reform program has indisputably been a programme of violent, forced eviction without compensation and has resulted in the total dereliction of the majority Zimbabwe’s commercial agricultural properties.
The judge, in his attempt to legalise a programme of ethnic cleansing, has joined the ranks of other judges under dictatorial regimes such as in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Soviet Union and left Zimbabweans more exposed than ever to further abuse by the Zimbabwe Government.
Spokesman for SADC Tribunal Rights Watch
Cell: +263 913 929 138
Harare, 24 November, 2009 and 26th January 2010
Facts of the Case
This case was an application for the Registration of the SADC Tribunal Judgement in the matter of Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd and others versus the Republic of Zimbabwe by 2 out of the 77 applicants in that case. This case found that the rights of white farmers to approach a court for redress and not be discriminated against on the basis of race in Zimbabwe were unreasonably denied by Constitutional amendment number 17 which provides the entire legal basis for the Land Reform Programme. (The SADC treaty, whilst holding that the decisions of the Tribunal are final and binding, prescribes that enforcement and domestication of inter alia, judgments of the Tribunal must take place in accordance with the local laws of the relevant member states. Member states are obliged to ensure that their local laws provide for the domestication of SADC Tribunal decisions.) Zimbabwean common law allows for applications for the registration of international judgments not covered by the Civil Matters (Mutual Assistance) Act [Chapter 8:02].
Questions to be determined by the Court
The Court summarised the questions before it as follows:
1. Whether the SADC Tribunal was endowed with the Jurisdictional Competence to rule over the case before it in the Campbell matter; and
2. Whether the enforcement of the SADC Tribunal decision in that case would be contrary to public policy in Zimbabwe.
With regard to the first question, the court held that the SADC Tribunal did have the jurisdictional competence to adjudicate over the Campbell case and further recognized the legitimacy of the SADC Tribunal.
With regard to the second question the application for registration was dismissed. The court held that this was contrary to public policy in Zimbabwe.
Reason for the court’s decision (ratio dacidendi)
Interestingly, the court cited the fact that Zimbabwe as well as other SADC member states had fully participated in the Toika system and the business of this newly constituted organ whose legal basis is the same as that of the Tribunal (namely the Amendment to the SADC Treaty of 2001)
The rationale behind dismissing the application for registration seems to be that foreign judgments could not be recognized if they were contrary to “public policy” and “prior judicial precedent” (referring specifically to a judgment by the Supreme Court in the Campbell case). The court held that it was not good public policy to undermine the authority of the Courts in Zimbabwe.
Addressing the argument that the applicants had a reasonable expectation that the Zimbabwean Government would abide by its international obligations the court held that the beneficiaries of land reform had a reasonable expectation that Government would effectively implement land reform which outweighed the other conflicting expectation.
 Gramara (Pvt) Ltd. 27th Applicant in the landmark court case heard by the SADC Tribunal in Windhoek, Namibia
High Court Hearing for Registration of SADC Tribunal Farms Judgment on 24 November 2009
SW Radio Africa
Almost exactly a year after the SADC Tribunal made its landmark
the Campbell case on 28 November 2008, the High Court of Zimbabwe finally
set down a date for registering the Judgment in Zimbabwe. Mike Campbell*
had initially made an urgent application in December 2008 to have the
judgment registered but it was not deemed by the High Court of Zimbabwe to
After that his farm was invaded and he had all his crops
almost all his equipment stolen, and has had his house burnt down with
almost all his personal belongings. His son and daughter- in-law’s house
was also burnt down on the farm and some of his workers lost their homes and
were severely brutalised. ZANU PF political heavy weight, Nathan
Shamuyarira, has taken over. A visit to the farm today will show it in a
state of virtual dereliction.
Richard Etheredge** then tried to get the judgment registered in an
application when Senator Edna Madzongwe, the Speaker of the House, invaded
his property. The High Court of Zimbabwe again did not deem the application
to be urgent. Mr. Etheredge has since had his entire orange crop of 6000
tons stolen as well as his houses broken into. His tractors and farm
equipment was also stolen and his houses broken into. Various people have
met violent deaths on the farm since Senator Madzongwe took over and the
Etheredges were forced to flee.
After that Gramara Pvt. Ltd.*** put in an
application to have the SADC
Tribunal Judgment registered on the normal court roll. It was finally set
down for the 24 November 2008 and Advocates Jeremy Gauntlett and Frank
Pelser came up from South Africa to argue the case. Inexplicably, Zimbabwe
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa refused to issue a certificate to allow
them to argue it. A similar application had been approved for Advocate
Pretorius in a different matter, and this had been put in the same day.
Advocate Gauntlett, a former chair of the Bar Association in South Africa
and one of Africa’s leading advocates, has fought many cases in Zimbabwe.
The last certificate he was granted for Zimbabwe was on the 25 June 2009.
He represented Campbell in the case from its outset in the Supreme Court of
Zimbabwe, so to not be admitted was unprecedented.
In the Chamber application asking the Judge to exercise his
jurisdiction to allow Advocates Gauntlett and Pelser to appear, it was
argued that Gramara Pvt. Ltd. had a right to choose its own council and that
there was a legitimate expectation that Advocate Gauntlett should be allowed
to represent his client. This application was turned down and Advocate
Lewis Urere had to step into the breach with very little preparation.
Representing the Government of Zimbabwe, Gerald Mlotshwa tried to then put
an intervener application in for an offer letter holder. He argued that the
offer letter holder would be adversely affected if the Judgment was
It was argued by Advocate Urere that the offer letter holder
question did not have a direct interest in the registration as the
registration would not nullify the offer letter directly; and that the offer
letter in question had never been formally accepted by the offer letter
Advocate Urere went on in the main case to state that the Minister
that Zimbabwe is bound by the SADC Treaty and that the only substantial
argument that the Zimbabwe Government came up with for not registering the
Judgment would be if the 2001 amendment to the SADC Treaty [which finally
established the Tribunal as the Supreme Court of Appeal in SADC] was deemed
to have not been done procedurally.
The Zimbabwe Government through State
Prosecutor Fatima Maxwell argued that
the SADC Tribunal had no jurisdiction because it needed each individual
state to ratify the amendment to the Treaty. She also stated that the
registration of the SADC Tribunal Judgment would lead to a public outcry and
that it would undermine the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. .
Advocate Lewis Urere argued that all the Heads of State in the
community had signed the amendment to the Treaty that established the
Tribunal except for the Angolan head of state. As it only needed three
quarters of the SADC Summit to sign, the SADC Tribunal had been properly
established according to what was laid down in the SADC Treaty agreement for
amendments. He said that the definition of the Summit was clearly laid out
as the heads of state, and it did not need individual states to then ratify
the treaty amendment subsequently.
As a result the SADC Tribunal clearly had jurisdiction in the case
and that the Judgment should be registered under procedural and common law. He
said that the Government could not avoid International law which was there to
uphold rights and ensure that where municipal laws infringed on rights, they
could be struck down. He
gave the example of the genocide in Rwanda, which could have been allowed by
municipal law, but which international law could not clearly condone.
Justice Patel reserved judgement on the case.
SW Radio Africa
By Alex Bell
27 January 2010
The South African government is set to come under renewed pressure to
release a potentially explosive report on post election violence in
Zimbabwe, which has been kept hidden from public scrutiny for well over a
The South African History Archive and the Southern African Centre for the
Survivors of Torture is set to ask the Pretoria High Court to force the
government to release the report. The two groups, with the support of the
Southern African Litigation Centre, last week filed papers in court asking
that the Presidency be 'compelled' to release the contents of the report
which is believed to have been given to former president Thabo Mbeki.
In May 2008 Mbeki commissioned four retired SA generals to visit Zimbabwe
and report back on the violence which erupted after the March 2008
presidential elections. But that report was never released. The presidency,
under Jacob Zuma, has made claims that former President Thabo Mbeki never
received a written report, but only oral feedback from the retired generals.
The Centre for Survivors of Torture, the Litigation Centre and the official
opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, last year invoked the 'Promotion
of Access to Information Act' to force the President's Office to release the
report. This request was turned down, with the Presidency claiming that no
such report existed. A subsequent internal appeal was also denied. The
Presidency was again approached by the History Archive, which this time
requested any of the supporting documents on the generals' mission. This
request was also denied and the Presidency continued to insist that no such
The court will now be asked to review all these refusals and to force the
government to release documents relating to the generals' report. No date
had yet been set for the hearing.
The groups have insisted that the report paints a 'devastating' picture of
state-sponsored violence, which apparently shifted Mbeki's perceptions on
the situation in Zimbabwe.
"The report is believed to have been hard-hitting and instrumental in the
evolution of subsequent negotiations leading to the September Global
Political Agreement," they said in a combined statement last year.
This is not the first time that the South African government has refused to
publicise reports related to the crisis in Zimbabwe. In 2002, then President
Mbeki appointed Judge Sisi Khampepe and current Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang
Moseneke to observe the Presidential election in Zimbabwe, but their report
has never been released. More recently, the government asked the
Constitutional Court not to publicly release a secret 60-page report
containing correspondence between the South African and Zimbabwean
By Violet Gonda
27 January 2010
South African President Jacob Zuma is coming under increasing pressure to
help break the political deadlock in Zimbabwe. Despite claims by the
partners in the power sharing government that progress was being made,
Finance Minister Tendai Biti told journalists in Washington DC on Tuesday
that the shaky coalition could collapse if fundamental outstanding issues
are not addressed.
The Finance Minister, who is also a negotiator for the MDC-T in the
inter-party talks, reportedly called for the intervention of Zuma as they
had failed to break the impasse. Zuma is the SADC appointed mediator in
However Biti is quoted by Voice of America saying he was optimistic about
the future of the country, in spite of the disputes, adding: "This equation
can only work if those fundamental foundational cornerstones which brought
the Zimbabwean parties involuntarily together are addressed. If there is a
fear that there is arrested development on the things that gave rise to (the
government) such as democratization, writing of a new constitution and
economic reforms, it will collapse. This is the time for President Zuma to
show leadership and intervene."
Meanwhile a UK based Zimbabwean pressure group, Zimbabwe Vigil, said South
Africa holds the key to a better Zimbabwe and warned it will embark on a
series of protests during Zuma's official visit to the UK in March, if
Zimbabwe's neighbour failed to act.
"Zuma said the MDC should park their issues about Gideon Gono (Central Bank
Governor) and Johannes Tomana (Attorney General). That is saying park your
issues about corruption and the rule of law and to us that seems an
extraordinary thing to say. Why doesn't he ask Mugabe to park some of his
issues which are far more important to get rid off?" asked Rose Benton, the
She added: "Zuma is coming here and we are watching to see what pressure he
puts on this unity government to honour the terms of the Global Political
Agreement. If he seems to be just supporting Mugabe then we will come out
Kate Hoey, an outspoken British Labour MP and chairman of the All Party
Zimbabwe Group, echoed the same sentiments. In an opinion piece titled 'It's
time to cry foul on Mugabe and show him the red card' she wrote that South
Africa must now make it clear to Mugabe that it will no longer accommodate
his refusal to implement the terms of the GPA - an agreement he signed up
"In the world of international diplomacy, the regional superpower South
Africa has been given the job of referee in Zimbabwe. What Zimbabweans can't
understand is why, in footballing terms, Mugabe has played foul for so long
and never been shown a yellow card, still less been sent off," said the
"They can't understand why Morgan Tsvangirai won the game and yet Mugabe
still seems to be allowed to hang onto the trophy. My advice to
President Zuma is to be bold before he comes to London in March. He must
tell Mugabe his game is up and show him the red card."
(AFP) - 7 hours ago
HARARE - Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has ordered the central bank to safeguard
millions of dollars' worth of diamonds from a mine where the military is
accused of killings and forced labour, a lawyer said Wednesday.
The latest ruling stems from an ownership battle over the mines in eastern
Zimbabwe, with a British firm and a government mineral corporation locked in
a tug-of-war over the valuable deposits.
"The chief justice said the diamonds should be kept by a neutral party
pending the resolution of an ownership dispute which is before the court,"
said Jonathan Samkange, lawyer for British firm African Consolidated
"The Supreme Court court ordered that the all the diamonds extracted from
African Consolidated Resources by the the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation be returned," Samkange told AFP.
The company is embroiled in a legal fight with the government-owned Zimbabwe
Mining Development Corporation over the ownership of Chiadzwa diamond fields
in the country's eastern Marange districts.
The government mining corporation began mining diamonds in Chiadzwa while
ACR was contesting the cancellation of its mining licence in 2007.
Samkange said the court order affects 129,000 carats of diamonds, including
gems mined by ACR and seized by police as well as all the precious stones
The minefields attracted the attention of rights groups after reports of
beatings and deaths of illegal gold panners by security forces.
Rights groups have been lobbying for a ban on Marange diamonds, after a team
from the Kimberley Process against "conflict diamonds" rebuked security
forces deployed at the minefields for gross human rights violations.
January 27, 2010
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - At least 15 people have died of measles in Bikita District,
bringing the national death toll to 55 since November last year, health
officials here have said.
The 15, all believed to be members of the Bikita District, religious sect,
died this month after they refused to receive treatment, citing their
Members of the Apostolic Faith sect countrywide have over the years refused
to have their children immunized on religious grounds, resulting in a high
infant mortality rate in the country.
Masvingo provincial medical director Robert Mudyirandima confirmed the
deaths on Tuesday.
"We have dispatched health personnel in the affected areas ", said
Mudyirandima."The situation is under control since we have enough drugs to
deal with the outbreak."
"Most of the 15 who died were children below the age of 10. We are
encouraging people to make sure that their children are immunized to avoid
unnecessary loss of human life".
It also emerged yesterday that the police have since been deployed to the
affected areas to force people, especially members of the Apostolic Faith
sect to have their children immunized.
Sources within the police force yesterday said that they were just assisting
the health officials to control the disease but were not arresting anyone in
connection with the deaths.
"We just moved in to assist health personnel after they requested assistance
from us," said a senior police officer who requested anonymity.
"We have deployed officers in the affected areas to ensure that they force
people to have their children immunized but we are not going to arrest
The hardest hit area in Bikita is Murwira Communal Lands where at least ten
deaths were recorded in less than a month.
Measles has also killed about 40 people in Mashonaland Central Province
since the beginning of November last year.
The death toll has since risen to 55 amid strong fears that more lives could
be lost as members of the Apostolic Faith sect continue to resist moves to
have their children immunized.
Zimbabwe's health delivery system has been facing serious challenges over
the last decade, among them a shortage of drugs and qualified health
The government of national unity formed in February 2009 is battling to
bring the health sector back into shape, following years of neglect by
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government.
By Tichaona Sibanda
27 January 2010
There are revelations that the working conditions of Zimbabwe's diplomats
rank among the worst in the world and this has rekindled debate over the
inclusive government's commitment to financing foreign missions.
Reports say that since the formation of the unity government in February
last year, the disgruntled diplomats have not received their salaries. SW
Radio Africa understands that staff at the diplomatic missions, the symbol
of the country's sovereignty in the family of nations, survives on
To add to their woes, embassy staff in Rome, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal
and Sweden has reportedly been given notice to vacate residences, due to
rent and utility arrears. The Ambassador to Maputo, Agrippa Mutambara, walks
to work after his official vehicle broke down last year.
The battered and old vehicle used by the Ambassador in Nigeria has become a
laughing stock in diplomatic circles there. European based Zimbabwe
diplomats with children have resorted to sending them to live with relatives
in the United Kingdom, where education is free up to secondary school level.
'In the past government used to pay school fees for the dependents, and
spouses used to get allowances, but those facilities were cancelled at the
height of the economic down turn. Better pay is hardly the crux of the
matter. The entire state of our diplomatic image is a shambles as
underfunding paralyses the operations of missions,' the diplomatic source
It's also alleged by a diplomatic source that the Foreign Affairs Ministry
has been unable to recall ambassadors and other senior and junior officers,
who completed their terms as far back as 200,8 citing lack of relocation
There is also frustration among those stationed at the Foreign Affairs head
office at Munhumutapa offices who have waited for years to be posted to the
'This leads to a situation where a diplomat abroad is forced to remain at
station for eight to ten years instead of one five year term,' our source
While it is true some career diplomats have not been recalled owing to cash
shortages, others have been rooted at their posts as a result of Robert
Mugabe's patronage system. Political appointees like Simon Khaya Moyo spent
almost a decade in Pretoria as Ambassador and Boniface Chidyausiku has been
in New York as Permanent Representative for ages because they defend Mugabe
and ZANU PF's interests there. Zimbabweans have long complained that they
don't get help from embassies abroad that seem to represent interests of
people with links to ZANU PF.
Ideally, according to our source, diplomats are supposed to serve a term at
any mission and in between periods they are either rotated or recalled back
home to serve time at head offices before being posted to another station.
As it is the diplomatic servce has been stagnant for years, owing to lack of
There was disquiet among the diplomats after the government spent $28
million in foreign travel when foreign mission staff are nearly destitute.
Zimbabwe has nearly 38 ambassadors, high commissioners and heads of mission
worldwide. Each mission has an average staff of eight officers. Eyebrows
were raised when Robert Mugabe traveled with an entourage of over 60 people
for a United Nations food summit in Rome, Italy, last year when the huge
cost of that trip could have been used to pay some diplomats.
Late last year, the business community asked government to reduce the number
of its embassies, consulates and missions abroad, as a first step towards
containing expenditure in the 2010 national budget.
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) also proposed that
government reduce foreign trips and use alternative methods to conduct
business with international partners. ZNCC drafted a paper titled 'Voice of
Business' calling on the government to cut embassy staff abroad.
'In order to fund state expenditure wholly from revenues and also balance
recurrent and non-recurrent expenditure, that is, without recourse to
borrowing, the government should work towards the reduction in the number of
Zimbabwean embassies, consulates and missions abroad while consolidating
representation in various regions,' ZNCC said in the document presented to
Finance Minister Tendai Biti.
We could not contact Biti for comment as he was in Washington, USA on
government business while Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi is
in Ethiopia preparing for the forthcoming AU summit.
Public Service Minister Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro told us that once a
civil servant is appointed as a diplomat, they cease to fall under his
'The Public Service Commission is responsible for recruiting staff for the
Foreign Affairs Ministry but once an official is posted abroad, they no
longer fall under civil service conditions. Their salaries are transferred
from the Finance Ministry to Foreign Affairs without us being involved, so
you will need to speak to Biti or Mumbengegwi,' Mukonoweshuro said.
Wednesday 27 January 2010
A diplomatic row could erupt between Zimbabwe and neighboring Botswana after
three armed officers from the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National
Parks (DWNP) were arrested for straying into Zimbabwe.
The three armed scouts were nabbed last week in Kazungula close to Victoria
Falls after they crossed into Zimbabwe by "mistake while tracking lions that
had killed two cows in Lesoma village along the border".
By this morning, they were still locked up at Victoria Falls police
The Botswana High Commissioner in Harare, Gladys Kokorwe said her office has
been notified of the arrest and that she is working 'flat out to secure
A defence lawyer to represent the scouts was being sought this morning.
Zimbabwe officials say the three should appear in court as "there is a
possibility that they could have been carrying dangerous arms of war".
Bostwana President, Ian Khama, is a staunch critic of his Zimbabwe
counterpart and has openly called for Mugabe to resign.
Kazungula Police Station Commander, Assistant Superintendent Chakalisa Nkoni
said that the three men were caught along Kazungula/Lesoma.
Ass. Sup. Nkoni explained that the men aged between 27 and 34 were on duty
tracking down lions which had earlier killed two cows at Lesoma.
"They where driving a Botswana government vehicle and had with them two
government firearms. The men are reported to have got lost on their hunt and
were caught by Zimbabwean police," he said.
He also said the scouts are due to appear in court in Victoria Falls on
Thursday and they appear to be "too traumatised by the ordeal".
The detention of the three officers follows another incident mid last year
when several Batswana women and children were detained in Zimbabwe for
entering the country illegally.
The group was collecting thatching grass when they found themselves in
The borderline between the two countries is difficult to identify because
there is no fence or markings.
Botswana deports close to 3 000 illegal Zimbabwe immigrants per week.
Subsistence farmers struggle to reach water as more wells run dry
Published 2010-01-27 17:37 (KST)
At a public borehole in Zviyambe, a village in the backyard of Zimbabwe,
approximately 250 kilometers away from Harare, the capital city,
butterflies, goats, cattle and human beings mix and mingle in edenic
fashion, all in search of the precious liquid: water.
Under a blazing sun, Sekai Mabika (not her real name) and her sister take
turns to fill up buckets with water all the while shooing the goats away
while the butterflies flutter, sipping at the water spilled to the ground
and the cattle standby for their turn to drink water.
According to Sekai, she makes three trips to fetch water at the public
borehole each day. It's approximately four kilometers away from her
"It's a painful trip, but it has to be done otherwise we will have no
drinking water at home," she said. "All our homestead wells are dry and,
tomorrow, I have to do this again."
The mid-afternoon sun, casts a shadow across her face as she balances the
bucketful of water on her head and walks towards her homestead, her sister
Throughout the day the sun blasts across the landscape in this area
literally skyrocketing daytime temperatures, and in the process, wilting
young crops and drying up water sources, making subsistence farming very
difficult. Many homesteads in this smallholder farming area are usually
serviced by a private borehole or well, but these have dried up in recent
months forcing villagers to people to trek long distances to available
sources of water.
"It last rained a long time ago, and it seems this didn't have an impact on
the water table," said Cleopas Jeche, a subsistence farmer, "If the rains
don't come, we will definitely face a drought this season."
The rainfall pattern in Zviyambe, as in many parts of rural Zimbabwe, has
changed over the past two decades making the predictability of the rainfall
pattern a thing of the past, yet smallholder farming patterns have not
For subsistence farmers in this remote area, the whole debate on climate
change is ivory tower gibberish, yet the impact of climate change on their
lives is a clearly visible matter of life and death.
In the past, Zimbabwe used to experience the rainy season from October to
January but, now, a blazing sun graces the sky for most days instead of rain
clouds. Sometimes clouds gather in the sky, but they quickly dissipate --
dashing hopes and livelihoods.
Subsistence farming, which provides most people of the area with their food,
depends on sufficient rainfall, but as the heavens continue to be elusive,
poor smallholder farmers will either have to adapt to new livelihood
patterns or face starvation.
No-one calls the phenomena unfolding here climate change. In fact, many
people think that God is laughing at them by withholding the rains.
Communities are so desperate, that they engage in both Christian and
traditional prayer ceremonies in an attempt to invoke rainfall.
To complicate matters, there is actually no terminology for climate change
in the local language, despite the fact that people are aware that the
rainfall seasons have been jagged in recent years.
The fact of the matter is that if the rains do not fall, people will not
have food in Zviyambe, as in many parts of rural Zimbabwe. The ripple
effects will be disastrous in a country that has experienced an economic
fallout over the past few years. Zimbabwe, as many other southern African
countries, is already over-burdened with HIV and AIDS, malaria and
tuberculosis. And food insecurity will only serve to compound these
In Zviyambe, the wells and dams that are drying up are signs that something
is amiss yet not much is being done to make people aware of the problem of
climate change. Naming a problem is a key step to finding solutions.
In many parts of rural Zimbabwe, identifying the recurrent erratic rainfall
patterns as effects of the global impact of climate change would be welcome
to help smallholder farmers who rely solely on rain-fed agriculture find
alternatives to sustain their lives and livelihoods. For many of the
smallholder farmers finding the right name for the phenomena of changing
weather patterns that have resulted in water sources and wetlands drying up
is an urgent imperative.
Harare, January 27, 2010: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing 50,000 personal protective clothing kits for influenza preparedness for use by health care workers in Zimbabwe and throughout Southern Africa in the event of an outbreak of H1N1 virus. The kits are worth approximately US$465,000. USAID is collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO), which will store the stock in its warehouse until the materials are needed.
The new shipment follows an earlier delivery of protective clothing, worth US$27,121, that arrived in Zimbabwe in 2007. “This equipment will be critical to the people of Zimbabwe in the event of an outbreak of H1N1 virus,” commented USAID Director Karen Freeman. “We are committed to helping Zimbabweans combat the H1N1 flu and other diseases at the community level.”
The handover of the kits from USAID to WHO will be marked by a ceremony on January 27, 2010 at Parirenyatwa Hospital. The Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr. Henry Madzorera, WHO Inter Country Support Coordinator Dr. Oladapo Walker, U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray, and USAID Mission Director Karen Freeman will be in attendance.
USAID, in collaboration with WHO, is in the process of pre-positioning 200,000 personal protective equipment kits in African countries in order to provide adequate and appropriate protection for preparedness, training, surveillance, and outbreak response activities. The kits are part of a larger Humanitarian Pandemic Preparedness Initiative (H2P) now in place across 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East that are considered the most vulnerable to the effects of a pandemic. The initiative builds on critical capacities USAID developed to fight H5N1 avian influenza and to support pandemic readiness. Since 2005, the USAID Avian and Pandemic Influenza Response Unit has overseen the programming of US$658 million in support of pandemic preparedness and response programs in 54 countries.
For more information on USAID programs in Zimbabwe, please visit www.usaid.gov/zw.
Issued by Tim Gerhardson, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy, Harare
145 Robert Mugabe Way, Exploration House, Third Floor; Website: www.chra.co.zw
Residents suspicious of Minister Chombo’s sincerity 27 January 2010
…as the Minister threatens to fire Councils on allegations of corruption
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) and the residents of Harare are suspicious of Minister Chombo’s sincerity in his insistence on firing Councils that are being accused of engaging in corrupt activities. Residents have argued that the Minister seems to be targeting Councilors only and yet there are also Senior Council employees who have a track record of corruption but the Minister has tirelessly protected them and has even interfered with investigations into such cases.
It defies logic to note that the Honorable Minister is actually worried about corruption after he has thwarted the many attempts by the Harare City Councillors to unearth acts of corruption that were committed by the appointed personnel at Town House. Residents have not forgotten how the Minister rescinded the decision by the Harare City Councillors to halt the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Express Road so that investigations could be carried out into the controversial awarding of tenders that was done on the project. The Minister also vehemently resisted the Harare Council’s decision to temporarily close the Mbare Musika, Mukuvisi Business Units and Machipisa market stalls so as to ensure that the stalls are re-allocated to people with genuine needs as it had emerged that the stalls are owned by a few political bigwigs who sublet to desperate residents. It is against this background that residents have voiced their suspicions at the Minister’s sincerity.
CHRA sought the views of some residents from Mabvuku and Kuwadzana and one resident (who requested anonymity) revealed her fears at what she called ‘the minister’s persistence to defy the tenets of democracy’ by firing democratically elected Councils and replacing them with commissions. Residents are clearly not amused by the Minister’s threats and they are not convinced that the only reason why he mulls the idea of firing the Councils is solely on the grounds of corruption but also on political grounds. The history of Harare and the successive commissions that were appointed by the Minister following the dismissal of the Mudzuri-led Council is still alive in the memories of residents. It is not a secret that the sorry state of the service delivery system in Harare and other cities like Mutare is a direct product of the incompetence of the Commissions that the Minister appointed. Up to this day, the present Harare City Council is still struggling to resuscitate the service delivery system that had virtually collapsed due to maladministration and mismanagement of the ratepayers’ money.
The Chairperson for Chitungwiza Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (CHIRRA), Mr. Arthur Taderera also raised the same concerns saying that a commission appointed by the Minister would never be acceptable in Chitungwiza due to the poor performance of all the other previous commissions. He said that although residents are cognizant of the fact that corruption should not be condoned, residents should be consulted on the issue as they are well capable of deciding who should and should not go since they were also responsible for voting the Councillors into office. Mr. Taderera pointed out that not all Councillors are corrupt and the idea of firing a whole Council is not fair. Mr. Mojapelo from the Greater Kadoma Residents Association echoed the same sentiments saying that residents should also have a say in that issue. He pointed out that senior Council employees are the major culprits in engaging in corrupt activities and the Minister should not focus his attention on Councilors only. The investigations should also be inclusive of Senior Management staff like the Town Clerks and city directors.
CHRA believes that the key to a democratic local government system is the maximum participation of residents in key decision making processes. The Association remains committed to fighting for the residents cause and advocating for democratic, transparent and accountable local governance as well as lobbying for quality municipal services on a non-partisan basis.
Week ending 25 Jan 2010
Posted by ZDN on January 26, 2010
Source: Zimbabwe Democracy Now
|SW RADIO AFRICA TRANSCRIPT|
HOT SEAT: Violet Gonda speaks to Dr. Blessing Miles Tendi, a Zimbabwean researcher in African Politics at Oxford University.
|Dr. Tendi has co-authored an
academic article on the Kenyan and Zimbabwean unity governments. Is a unity
government really the way to solve problems, or just a way of shelving them? Can
it even be called a ‘power sharing government’ if one party still controls the
state machinery? Tendi talks about similarities, differences and future
prospects. He also gives us his views on the implications of statements made by
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband that the European Union will be ‘guided
by the MDC’ on whether or not to remove targeted sanctions.
VIOLET GONDA: My guest on the programme Hot Seat is Dr Blessing Miles Tendi a Zimbabwean researcher in African Politics at Oxford University. Miles is the author of the forthcoming book entitled: Making History in Mugabe's Zimbabwe - Politics, Intellectuals and the Media. He has also co-authored an academic article on the Kenyan and Zimbabwean Unity governments. On the programme Hot Seat Miles will give us his findings on the similarities, differences and future prospects. Welcome on the programme Miles.
MILES TENDI: Thank you for having me.
GONDA: Power sharing in Kenya and Zimbabwe – are they one and the same?
TENDI: Well there are some similarities but similarities on small issues. On the fundamental matters these are very two different countries, two different dynamics playing out.
GONDA: So can you elaborate on this? What are the similarities and of course the differences between the two countries?
TENDI: The Kenyan election was in December 2007 and the Zimbabwean one followed in March 2008 and within the media there were a lot of comparisons between the two, people drawing similarities, often portrayals were that Zimbabwe had gone down the path of Kenya. Certainly there were similarities as I was saying earlier on, an incumbent loses an election and refuses to give up power. That was the scenario in Kenya or the scenario in Zimbabwe. After this, strong violence followed in both countries and again external mediation was required to resolve the electoral conflict that arose in both countries - and to resolve these electoral conflicts, power sharing was brokered as a solution and this occurred in both countries. And again we found in Kenya and Zimbabwe, the losing incumbent who was President, Kibaki in Kenya and Mugabe in Zimbabwe retained power through power sharing, retained the presidency which is more powerful and the Opposition figure, candidate Raila Odinga in Kenya secures a Prime Minister post - much weaker. In Zimbabwe Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai secures a position of Prime Minister as well - much weaker position. Those are the similarities between both countries.
GONDA: And the differences?
TENDI: The differences are where it’s really weighty. I think to start off I think probably the most fundamental difference between both countries is the involvement of the military. In Kenya, post election violence that occurred and during the power sharing talks there is a clear absence of military involvement - violence was not orchestrated by the military and the military has less if none at all of a political role. In Zimbabwe it is strikingly dissimilar. Zimbabwean military heavily involved in national politics; orchestrated much of the violence that occurred between March 2008 and June 2008. So that’s a major difference between the two countries. But again the violence in Kenya was waged by both Kibaki and Odinga supporters, a range of ethnic groups, local militia and a few State actors were involved. Odinga’s ODM, that’s his political party – the Orange Democratic Movement and there was a coalition of ethnic groups which shared a common belief that ‘it was their turn to eat’, so to speak, after prolonged monopolisation of political power, land and the economy by Kibaki Kikuyu ethnic group. This has underpinned the decision of some ODM supporters to back the violence. Kibaki responded to the violence by ordering a campaign of State repression which resulted in many casualties in ODM strongholds but then in contrast in Zimbabwe - completely different.
Violence in Zimbabwe was extremely centralised and overwhelmingly one way. In Kenya, Kibaki supporters, Odinga supporters fighting each other where in Zimbabwe it’s just one way, it’s organised by Zanu-PF and the military as mentioned before to crush MDC support before the June run-off. So unlike in Kenya where you had a legion of historical differences based on patterns of ethnic inclusion and exclusion, in Zimbabwe, ideology was the key driver of Zanu-PF propaganda since 1999 sought to portray the MDC as a British controlled political party. To support Tsvangirai, to give Tsvangirai victory in the election was prevented as tantamount to losing Zimbabwe’s sovereignty to Britain. So its ethnic differences, none of them historical, underpinning the motives for violence in Kenya. In Zimbabwe the reasons, underlying are ideological, that’s another key difference between both countries.
GONDA: So can you really call it a power sharing government if one party still controls the State machinery?
TENDI: Sadly not. There is no real power sharing in Zimbabwe nor in Kenya, this is where both countries are similar. It was part of the ideological differences, the involvement of the military that made it so much harder for Thabo Mbeki to broker a deal in Zimbabwe than it was say for Kofi Annan to do so in Kenya. Because as I said earlier, violence in Kenya was on both sides so in a sense both sides were both guilty of violence that was a stronger incentive so to speak for both sides to come together, work together and show that there’s no prosecutions, a new government is formed there. But going back to your question, I think in Zimbabwe at the time of the negotiations there was a lot of debate going back to the Unity Accord of the ‘80s between Zapu and Zanu about how the MDC must not go down the same road Zapu did and that was swallowed by Zanu-PF, the Unity Accord of the ‘80s. So what I’m getting at here is that the MDC was very much aware of the possibility that it might be sold an unfair deal so to speak and knew that it had to hold out for a more fair deal, which I think it did. But I think a lot of factors, even though they tried, a lot of factors seemed to have converged here - the conditions were worsening at the time, there was a cholera outbreak, there was immense pressure from SADC for the MDC to sign on.
GONDA: In your research you said in Kenya a number of leaders and supporters from both parties were implicated in post election human rights abuses and so it was in their mutual interest that past abuses are not investigated.
GONDA: So can you have a successful coalition government without serious human rights abuses being investigated or talked about?
TENDI: No. I think you’ve made the Kenyan point clearly - Zimbabwe one way, very much one way where Zanu-PF and the military have largely perpetrated violence against MDC supporters and some of their own Zanu-PF supporters. But again in Zimbabwe because the military has a strong political role, it emerged as an important political player deeply entrenched in the economy as well. So to get the powerful military to accept the power sharing arrangement, you have to take the possibility of prosecutions off the table, to get them to accept this. So in a sense in both countries there’s impunity - perpetrators of violence are free today, and this is a deep seated problem because what happens is, in the case of Zimbabwe for instance, much of the violence we see around every single election has to do with this culture of impunity that has persisted since 1980. The primacy of the cause is the State and the power sharing agreement today doesn’t address these fundamental issues.
GONDA: What about this Organ (National Healing) that has been created by the government to deal with such matters and even issues to do with reconciliation, how important is this and do you think it will be successful given what you’ve been telling us?
TENDI: It’s been important in name but not practically on the ground. It doesn’t have enough funding to carry out its stated goals, it doesn’t command the authority from key political players within the country and there’s just no political will to see its endeavours go through. So it’s important in name but practically little has been done towards reconciliation, healing. And this is the problem because if you don’t address these there’s a strong likelihood that in the next election we will see violence again. And even in the unity government period, violence against the MDC, civil society, journalists, lawyers has not stopped. Violence is continuing though at a lower level, but has not stopped. Going back to Kenya violence has stopped there but there were reports like last year, BBC investigation late last year showed that the various ethnic groups that fought against each other over the 2007 election had begun rearming, collecting weapons in preparation for the next Kenyan election. So if you don’t resolve these issues, when the next election comes you’re likely to see more violence and this is what we stand to see repeating itself in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
GONDA: You have said that Odinga’s ODM was a coalition of ethnic groups who shared a common belief that it was ‘their turn to eat’ and this was after prolonged monopolisation of political power, land and economy by Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group. You went onto say under the guise of unity government, anti-reform elements within both parties conspired to eat together blocking democratic reforms. Now in the Zimbabwe situation, do you see this happening? What are the similarities and differences here?
TENDI: Well in Kenya as you rightly describe, because both sides were guilty of violence, there’s the sense in which some groups had been cut out, they didn’t get the opportunity to come into government, they’ve sort of banded together in what would best be called the politics of collusion. They’ve gone together decided that the elite in government will share the national cake, avoid prosecution and they collude to block reforms. In Zimbabwe it’s quite the opposite. Kenya has a long history going back to the ‘60s. There was a one party state at some point and there’s a long history of relatively inclusive elite relations. In Zimbabwe you’ve never had that. The example of Zapu in the 1980s stands out in this regard. Zapu existed, so did Zanu-PF. Zanu-PF felt threatened by Zapu and waged the Gukurahundi to crush Zapu and in effect Zapu had to dissolve itself and become a part of Zanu. You wouldn’t call that inclusive or elite relations based around co-existence.
So in Zimbabwe politics has very much been dominated by Zanu-PF. Where an opposition has arisen strong violence has been used to stamp out that opposition. So unlike Kenya the lines in Zimbabwe, there’s a really deep, deep line in the ground because of that, one, and two the ideological description I gave earlier about how Zanu has consistently sought to cast the MDC as a ‘sell-out party’, ‘they’re not indigenous to Zimbabwe’, ‘they’re a British party’, ‘they seek to cede our sovereignty to the West’, such issues – so there’s a deep divide between Zanu-PF and the MDC. So unlike Kenya where this politics of collusion has occurred, in Zimbabwe very much Zanu-PF has sought to retain its hold on power, sought to maintain the status quo regardless of there being a power sharing arrangement. And I think it would be best to describe events today in Zimbabwe as the politics of continuity.
What do I mean by the politics of continuity? I think four things. Number one; the point you’ve been bringing up throughout this interview that there’s been no real power sharing. The Presidency held by Mugabe remains strong, Prime Minister weak, so in a sense we’re still where we were before the unity government - we still have a strong Presidency occupied by Robert Mugabe. Number two; the military, police, CIO heads have come together as the Joint Operations Command - their enduring intransigence. I think since 2002, they made it very clear that they would not support any party or leader without liberation war credentials and consistently they’ve waged violence on behalf of Zanu-PF, in support of Zanu-PF. And today, there’s evidence to show that the JOC still does not recognise the MDC as an equal player in the unity government. They do not attend National Security Council meetings for instance, so that’s the second reason for continuity. And then the third one goes back to another point I made earlier – the uninterrupted use of violence by Zanu-PF, right, so nothing has changed either there, violence continues. And then fourthly; there’s also evidence to show that Zanu-PF has gone out of its way to obstruct and subvert the implementation of GPA reforms. So it’s those four things because if the old order is maintained they have a better chance of winning in the next election.
GONDA: And so from your observations is a GNU really a way of solving problems or just shelving them?
TENDI: Very much shelving not solving at all. But another question we must ask is, it’s easy for you and I and many others to sit there, we can deliberate, criticise power sharing in Zimbabwe and in Kenya but there’s a big elephant in the room which is the alternatives. Had we not had power sharing in Zimbabwe, had we not had power sharing in Kenya, flawed as it is I submit, I’d be the first to say that in both countries the arrangements are flawed but outside of that, what other option did we have? That’s a hard question.
TENDI: Very hard, there was talk about military intervention to solve, to end the violence in Kenya, to end the violence in Zimbabwe, that was played up in the media and I’m sure some policy makers around the world may have considered this but you’d have to ask – who would have conducted such a venture? After what we’ve seen in Iraq since 2003 I think many countries are reluctant to be sending their armies elsewhere. Moreover in Africa, sovereignty is a jealously guarded ideal or concept. So it seems unthinkable to even think that African states would put together troops to say invade Zimbabwe or be it Kenya - so that was out. Threats and condemnation? Those don’t work either and Zimbabwe is a very good example of this. The Zanu-PF regime has been threatened, condemned since 2000 but these threats and condemnations have either fallen on deaf ears or Zanu-PF has manipulated them to their advantage.
GONDA: I was actually going to ask you about sanctions, do they really work in situations like this?
TENDI: Sanctions, well I don’t think so either because the key things to consider first of all was, this was violence in both countries. When there’s a situation of violence the State is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens. The first thing you want to do is to be able to protect the citizens who are being brutalised. Be it Kikuyu groups or supporters of Odinga’s party or the Tsvangirai MDC supporters being beaten up and victimised, you want to protect, that’s the first port of call - protect the brutalised citizens. But sanctions can’t do that. You apply sanctions but that doesn’t give the people on the ground security. So that wouldn’t have worked either right. So I’ll be the first to say power sharing is flawed in both countries but in terms of alternatives it’s very hard to propose what else could have been done and I guess this is something everybody out there could think about, deliberate.
GONDA: I’m always asking this question but it seems to be a bit difficult to actually get a proper answer on this. And many people I’ve talked to have said that it will also be ridiculous for the MDC to actually pull out now, so we go back to the same issue - what is the way forward?
TENDI: The way forward, I think first we can all acknowledge that the arrangement is flawed in Zimbabwe, but flawed as it is it’s the only train in the station right now. This is what we have and we have to work with this. If it is on the MDC side for instance then they are within the State there is still much that they can do being in the State to push for democratic reforms, economic reforms - I think particularly Tendai Biti’s position as Finance Minister, that’s quite pivotal. And SADC as well, keep pressing SADC to keep up the pressure on Zanu-PF to implement its side of the Agreement and to see through all the GPA reforms. I think the answer, flawed as it is, is around this power sharing government. You have to work with it, there has to be a strong battle of wits by MDC, civil society to get certain reforms implemented, a new constitution. And for the international community as well, particularly the West, to work towards having the GPA agreement fully implemented.
I think in essence though public statements that are made, I think it was David Miliband a few days ago in the House of Commons proclaiming support for the GNU I think largely these are untrue. Their mindsets are pretty much set out here in the west. They did not want to see Mugabe stay on, they were against the power sharing arrangement, and it was SADC that put this together really. So very much there was tension there, SADC putting together a power sharing arrangement that leaves Mugabe still in charge with most of his powers retained. And the international community, the west more specifically, was against this arrangement because in many ways the Zimbabwe crisis had become about Mugabe - deeply personalised.
GONDA: And since you’ve just brought in the issue of David Miliband, the British Foreign Minister, what did you make of his comments when he was taking questions in parliament, in the House of Commons and he said that the EU would be guided by the MDC on the issue of sanctions. What are the implications of such a statement?
TENDI: I think for a long time since the EU sanctions were first imposed, along with ZEDERA from the United States end, Zanu-PF has sought to portray the coming into being of these targeted sanctions as having been instigated by the MDC. You’ve heard this consistently since 2000, that it is the MDC that went out and campaigned for the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe. So that has been Zanu-PF’s depiction of the sanctions saga since that time. Now the MDC joins the unity government along with Zanu-PF, one of the proclamations they make immediately after the Agreement is signed along with SADC, they call upon all forms of sanctions or restrictive measures against Zimbabwe to be lifted right. The United States and the EU have not done that to this day. This sort of plays into what Mugabe has been saying all along that actually sanctions were never about say conditions in Zimbabwe but about an imperialistic agenda. And as long as these sanctions continue to exist it undermines the position of the MDC in the unity government. Zanu can continue to point that the MDC campaigned for these sanctions, it is their fault this has occurred and we will not implement our side of the GPA reforms until the MDC ask Britain or and the United States to lift these sanctions that these countries campaigned for.
And then for Miliband to come out and then say we will take the cue from the MDC, we will wait for the MDC to tell us when to lift them, this is kind of what Mugabe has been saying all along. So Britain has to conduct itself very, very carefully with regard to the Agreement in Zimbabwe particularly to sanctions.
And another thing if I may go on a bit, I think the Obama Administration - we all remember when Obama campaigned before he was elected. He made it very clear that he would not seek to polarise, he would seek to bring people together, unlike Bush he would talk to his enemies, so he said if the North Koreans want to speak with him they would conduct diplomacy, with Iran there would be diplomacy, he made all these proclamations. He comes into power and has been seen to be doing this, the diplomatic relations, negotiations going on with Korea, with Iran, with Bashir in Sudan, all these leaders of these countries - gross human rights violators. But with Zimbabwe, that direct line between the White House and State House in Zimbabwe has not been reopened. ZIDERA still exists today so immediately again there is a double standard there. Mugabe can then turn around and say ‘oh yes Bush had put together ZIDERA for regime change purposes and because Obama has come along and hasn’t repealed ZIDERA either it means that the regime change agenda on Zimbabwe still exists’. So again this plays into Mugabe’s construction and this is what I’m trying to get at – the West really has to rethink their foreign policy, strategy and utterances toward the goings on in Zimbabwe and particularly what Miliband had to say in the House of Commons, I think pretty disastrous.
GONDA: I’m running out of time but I wanted to ask you more on that. Do you think that they are sanctions against the country or certain individuals in the government and also what about the demands that have been made by the West that Zanu-PF should put its house in order first, especially the issue of implementing democratic reforms before sanctions can be removed? Can you give me a brief answer to this?
TENDI: I think what we have to ask is that, because Zanu-PF may argue this was a regime change agenda, this is why sanctions were implemented in the first place but if you go through human rights reports by local NGOs and those from outside it is clear that since 2000 there’s been a systematic, State orchestrated campaign targeting the human rights of Zimbabwean citizens. So there was a strong human rights case against the Zimbabwe government, we have to be clear about that. But I think the danger has become that because these sanctions have existed and the way that Zanu-PF has used its rhetoric around the issue of sanctions being a regime change agenda and the MDC on the other hand, the MDC’s message on sanctions was never as consistent and coherent as that of Zanu-PF so this has allowed Zanu-PF to argue the way it has all these years.
And added to that because of the existence of sanctions Zanu-PF can now argue that it is not Zanu-PF’s adoption of an economic structural adjustment programme in the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s that caused Zimbabwe’s economic destruction; Zanu-PF can argue that it’s not the payouts to war veterans in the late ‘90s that caused the root of Zimbabwe’s economic problems or the fact that the DRC war cost us heavily. Zanu-PF can now argue this is all about sanctions, sanctions have caused economic disaster then they can ignore completely all the errors they made since the late 1980s that caused the economic catastrophe that Zimbabwe sees today. So the sanctions issue, very, very complicated, I know we’re running out of time but I think today the situation in Zimbabwe GNU and in terms of countering Zanu-PF propaganda, Zimbabwe would be better off without the existence of these targeted sanctions. They allow Zanu-PF to apportion blame for its economic fall elsewhere and then at the same time it allows them to continually cast the MDC as the campaigners for these sanctions for regime change purposes.
GONDA: It’s a pity that I’m running out of time because I would have wanted to find out from you how then would you put pressure on regimes that continue to brutalise their own people, but just finally Miles you say in your paper that power sharing governments threaten to become the new coups and you said that moreover the peace and stability delivered by power sharing governments in Kenya and Zimbabwe may simply represent the calm before the storm. Can you elaborate on this?
TENDI: I guess what I was trying to get at is the fact that we say, in the past if a government was unpopular the military could simply stage a coup. But now we’re finding that, yes there’s been a spate, a resurgence of some coups on the continent but we’re also finding that when a leader unwanted by the status quo gets elected, the status quo, i.e. the President, and if the security people in Zimbabwe, does not want the elected opposition leader to take over they simply refuse to give up power. And the result is a power sharing arrangement in which the incumbent still retains most of the power. That’s what I was trying to get at there and that’s worrying because it’s a violation of citizens’ rights to elect leaders of their own choice.
And then secondly the calm before the storm goes back to the point I made earlier about how in Zimbabwe, violence continues although at a low level, it is clear from human rights reports that many of the military bases that waged the violence in 2008 have not been disbanded, these are still ready to go so that’s the calm. Come the next election we’re likely to see more violence and it’s still not clear that Mugabe can win an election under free and fair condition - they’d have to rely on violence again to be able to win. And going back to Kenya as I was saying earlier, investigations late last year by the BBC found that rival ethnic groups were already beginning to stock up, pile up weapons in preparation for the next election. So it’s the calm now but come the election again, if there’s no outright winner, no clear winner, we’re right back to where we started.
GONDA: OK and I’m afraid we have to end here. That was Dr Blessing Miles Tendi who’s a Zimbabwean researcher in African Politics at Oxford University. Thank you very much.
TENDI: Thanks for having me.
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Written by The Editor
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 13:39
Zanu (PF) needs to realise that it is wasting breath in continuing to insist
that the MDC campaigns for the removal of the targeted measures against its
corrupt and abusive hierarchy. And it will not succeed in blackmailing the
international community into removing these measures in exchange for
so-called power sharing.
The measures, which in essence are nothing more than travel and banking
restrictions aimed at preventing the thievocracy from stashing away their
ill-gotten gains, were put into place because of the past behaviour of these
individuals. (In any case why would a patriotic African leader want to bank
his money in Europe?) The reasons why those measures were put in place still
exist. These include, to mention but a few: extra judicial killings,
kidnappings, no rule of law, repressive legislation such as the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA), use of the security forces and the judiciary to harass,
abduct, torture and kill those considered to be opponents, violent invasions
of commercial farms, police intimidation and harassment of MDC and human
rights activists, and failure to conduct a comprehensive and transparent
land audit - which is being fiercely resisted.
Independent observers such as Human Rights Watch have correctly pointed out
that the "power-sharing" government has largely failed to end rights abuses
or to institute fundamental reforms. In particular, they mention the
continued persecution of elected MDC activists through frivolous,
politically-motivated prosecutions. At least 17 MDC-T legislators face
various trumped-up criminal charges, with at least five legislators already
convicted by the courts. For its part, if Zanu (PF) is serious about turning
over a new leaf, and returning Zimbabwe to the rule of law, they need to
implement fully all the terms of the GPA to which Mugabe appended his
signature. If they cannot even be trusted to implement something they signed
up to, why should the world reward them?
Only when all these have been fully met can the people of Zimbabwe agree
that the international community be asked to reward Zanu (PF) officials by
removing the targeted measures.
The MDC has been patient in the face of extreme provocation. They are
vilified daily on state radio and television and in the state-controlled
media. They cannot be expected to campaign for the lifting of punitive
measures against those who continue to abuse them in this fashion.
Written by John Robertson
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 10:39
Despite all its problems, Zimbabwe still looks robust on the surface. And
that superficial evidence has led to errors of judgement by observers and
analysts, writes JOHN ROBERTSON. The real picture, he says, is one of
devastated production and massive unemployment.
These observers are often people who spend time in many other African
countries and, in their comments, they always point out how much better off
Zimbabweans are than the citizens of wherever else they have been.
Unfortunately, the superficial impressions are misleading, and even more
unfortunately, some of the most misled people are Zimbabweans, not visitors.
They also know that most of Zimbabwe's neighbours do not have the extensive
industrial sites and cannot boast of anything like the extent of Zimbabwe's
development in schools, hospitals, commercial properties, up-market suburbs
and golf courses, but they also misjudge their current status.
Assuming that its installed capacity is still in place, many of these
analysts have decided that Zimbabwe's prospects of recovery are so good that
only slight changes in direction and a couple of years would be enough to
see the country regain its former ranking, second only to South Africa's.
Zimbabwe's politicians, of whichever stripe, have enthusiastically embraced
this belief, so much do they want it to be true. Their conviction that it is
true has been vigorously fed into the short-term and medium-term recovery
plans, which all hinge on forecast recoveries in investment inflows,
employment, export revenues and tax revenues.
In their efforts to force obedience and compliance from the business sector
as well as from ordinary citizens, government brought productive sector
investment almost to a halt. This has been immensely costly because, in a
competitive world, continuous investment is needed in industrial plant, in
production methods, in staff training, in market research, in design
engineering and in establishing sources of material supplies as well as
sound destinations for finished goods. In Zimbabwe, all this investment
Government interference in the business sector, through its adoption of
fixed exchange rates, price controls, interest rate controls, import
controls and state-controlled buying monopolies for fuel as well as staple
foods, brought an end to inflows of new ideas that would have kept
Zimbabwean goods competitive.
They even made the maintenance of existing production facilities impossible
to fund, or even to justify. They also brought massive handicaps to bear on
those who became responsible for tens of thousands of industrial workers,
but who could be far too easily blamed for business failures for which they
were in no way responsible.
Now, Zimbabwe's manufacturing capacity has fallen to a fraction of its
former size and the country has become more dependent on imported finished
goods than at any time since it started building its own industrial base.
Few companies can afford to offer apprenticeships or training courses, and
very few are even planning for the expansion of their workforce.
This accounts for the Zimbabwean diaspora. Years ago, many of those who had
good jobs in Zimbabwe realised that their career development paths had
either become indistinct, or they had disappeared completely. For many of
their younger counterparts, the prospects of even getting onto a career path
were evaporating as employers, constrained by price controls, absurd
exchange rates and enormous difficulties in acquiring foreign currency,
found it impossible to work to business expansion plans. For many workers
and work seekers alike, their best option was to leave the country.
As many of the same constraints affected the state-run services, the skilled
technicians and administrators who knew how to make railways, hospitals or
water purification plants work properly, or knew how to maintain aircraft,
power stations, traffic lights or roads, decided that their own careers
would progress faster somewhere else. With their departures, the services
infrastructure has fallen into disrepair.
Loss of expertise
The roads are crumbling, power supplies are erratic, water no longer reaches
many suburbs and now it cannot even be relied upon to keep flowing in
business areas. The railways and airways can cope with only a fraction of
traffic handled ten years ago, the health services collapsed in most parts
of the country and the quality of teaching has left most children incapable
of passing school examinations.
One of the most telling of the estimated national statistics is that the
number of people in formal employment is now put at little more than 800,000
people, including the civil service. It has fallen to that level from more
than 1,300,000 in 1997. The last time a figure as low as 800,000 was
recorded in the country's statistics was in 1970, 40 years ago, but at that
time, Zimbabwe's population was about half the size it is now.
Fleeting observers who note the bustling business activity and all the
vehicles on the roads would not easily see the underlying weakness of the
economy, partly because it is disguised by the huge numbers now seeking some
kind of income from the informal economy.
The informal economy includes the communal land farmers, where this year
almost all of Zimbabwe's farming activities are taking place. The land
confiscated from large-scale commercial farms lies uncultivated throughout
the country. Subsidies are needed to replace the loans the banks used to
offer when the farmers owned the land, but no such funds are now available.
So the quick recovery is not on its way. And it will not be able to start
before a great deal of headway is made in fixing the infrastructure,
updating the manufacturing plant, winning back lost markets, overcoming
dependence on imports and rebuilding government's tax base.
Every step of the way calls for people. But the people concerned are not on
their way either, and won't be until the needed political changes have
restored their confidence.