By Tichaona Sibanda
28 January 2013
Any complaints and allegations of misconduct against the members of the
notorious armed forces will be investigated by an independent body to be
created through an Act of Parliament in the new constitution.
It is hoped this new law, contained in the final draft of the charter to be
presented to Parliament next week, will help curtail the type of human
rights abuses that have defined Robert Mugabe’s rule since independence in
Chapter 11 (208) of the draft stipulates that members of the security
services must act in accordance with the constitution and law.
‘No member of the security services may, in the exercise of their functions
act in a partisan manner, further the interests of any political party or
cause or prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause.
‘Members of the security services must not be active members or
office-bearers of any political party or organisation and serving members of
the security services must not be employed or engaged in civilian
institutions except in periods of public emergency,’ said one of the
chapters on the conduct of members of security services.
Roy Bennett, the exiled treasurer-general of the MDC-T and a victim of a
‘malicious political vendetta’ by hardliners within the military, said the
new set of rules on the conduct of the security services was a step in the
Bennett told SW Radio Africa on Monday that he thought the country was
falling in line with all respected constitutions in the world, saying he
believes every single member of the security forces must be loyal to the
constitution and not any political party.
‘It is a fundamental constitutional right to be protected by the armed
forces of your country and not to be abused by them just because of your
political beliefs,’ he said. ‘Though this new constitution is not perfect,
one thing is clear on the armed forces. Its either they’re part of the
solution or they will remain part of the problem. If they’re part of the
solution there is a very sound future for Zimbabwe.
Part of that solution is sitting down and working these things out for
peace, justice and healing in the country. If they’re part of the problem,
they will be going against the constitution and in the same process breaking
the laws of Zimbabwe and will be dealt with by the laws of the country,’
United States based political analyst Dr Maxwell Shumba said under the new
constitution, most of the armed forces’ operations will be closely monitored
‘Besides their operational duties, Parliament, through this complaints body
will be able to monitor their behaviour especially in public. When this
constitution becomes law, utterances we have heard from generals openly
supporting ZANU PF or defending Mugabe will be seen as violating the laws of
the country,’ Shumba added.
Staff Reporter 4 hours ago
HARARE - Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa says the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces have a pivotal role to play in the implementation of the
indigenisation and economic empowerment policy, by ensuring socio-political
stability in the country.
Mnangagwa was addressing senior officers attending the Joint Command and
Staff Course Number 26 at the Zimbabwe Staff College in the capital.
He said it is in the interest of the nation to ensure that Zimbabweans
benefit from their natural resources.
He said cases of local people living in poverty when foreign companies are
profiteering from resources found within their communities should now be a
thing of the past.
“The indigenisation policy is a noble move that seeks to ensure that locals
enjoy a fair share of the country’s resources,” the minister said.
Mnangagwa said the ZDF as an institution is also a stakeholder in the
indigenisation and economic empowerment policy and should therefore benefit
under the programme.
He also noted that the country’s National Defence Policy is tailor-made
ensure that security forces jealously defend the sovereignty, territorial
integrity, independence and national interest of the country
By Godfrey Marawanyika - Jan 29, 2013 12:45 AM GMT+1000
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe will be allowed to try and extend his
33-year rule for another decade, according to a new constitution agreed to
between his party and its main opponents to pave the way for elections.
While the constitution limits the holder of the office of president to two
five-year terms, the measure is not retroactive, according to a copy of the
document obtained by Bloomberg News from an official who helped negotiate
the law. The position of Prime Minister, currently held by Mugabe’s
political opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, will be abolished.
“A person is disqualified for election as President or Vice-President if he
or she has already held office as President under this Constitution for two
terms,” according to the document. The official confirmed that this means
that terms served under the existing constitution will be disregarded for
the purposes of eligibility for the next election.
The agreement of a new constitution between the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front party of Mugabe, 88, and Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Democratic Change, announced by the two leaders on Jan. 18, paves the way
for a referendum on the new law to be followed by an election. Still, the
clause allowing Mugabe to compete for the presidency represents a setback
for the party of Tsvangirai. An initial draft of the constitution proposed
by the MDC had disqualified Mugabe from further rule.
“We will definitely campaign for a yes vote at the referendum,” Rugare
Gumbo, a spokesman for Zanu-PF, said in an interview today. “We’re happy
with this constitution.”
Mugabe and Tsvangirai have ruled Zimbabwe in a coalition government since
2009 when the 15-nation Southern African Development Community compelled the
leaders to form a government together to end a decade-long political dispute
and economic recession. Mugabe and his party won a series of elections
between 2000 and 2008 that were described by observers including those from
the European Union as flawed by violence and irregularities.
In the last election in 2008 Tsvangirai won a first-round presidential vote
without taking the more than 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a run
off. He withdrew from the run-off, citing violent attacks on his supporters
by backers of Mugabe.
“It’s clearly a compromise document, but I think its clearly the basis for a
move forward,” said Brian Raftopoulos. director of research at the
Solidarity Peace Trust, a Cape Town- based human rights group, in an
interview. “It’s likely to pass through a referendum.”
Eric Matinenga, the country’s constitutional affairs minister, declined to
discuss the contents of new constitution at a Jan. 26 press conference in
the capital, Harare. He said he expects it to be endorsed by parliament next
month and said the document would be released to the public soon. Tsvangirai
told Bloomberg in Davos on Jan. 18 that the president would be limited to
two terms without giving further information. He said a referendum will
likely be held in March and election later this year.
The constitution also bars members of the security services from furthering
the interest of political parties.
In addition clauses regarding land ownership mean that the ownership of
white-owned commercial farms, seized in a program begun by Mugabe in 2000
and given to mainly black subsistence farmers, will not be restored. Mugabe
has maintained that as the land was taken from its original black owners
during British colonial rule the U.K. should pay compensation for any seized
“The former colonial power has an obligation to pay for land compulsorily
acquired for resettlement, according to the constitution. ‘‘The Government
of Zimbabwe has no obligation to pay compensation.’’
The seizures slashed exports of tobacco, then Zimbabwe’s biggest export, and
cut flowers and turned the country into an importer of its staple food,
Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome deposits after
South Africa and also has reserves of coal, diamonds and gold. Impala
Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS) operate
platinum mines in the country while Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) runs a diamond mine.
Units of Barclays Plc (BARC) and Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) operate in
Mugabe helped lead an armed struggle and subsequent negotiations that led to
the end of whites-only rule in 1980. He later consolidated power by merging
his party with the rival Zimbabwe African People’s Union in 1987 after a
crackdown on the Ndebele ethnic group from which that party drew its
‘‘Given the balance of political forces in Zimbabwe it was predictable that
his influence, his continued support from the armed forces for him meant
that his continued presence there was always going to be a factor,”
Monday, 28 January 2013 11:37
ADDIS ABABA - Zimbabwe's civil society groups have asked African leaders to
step up pressure on Harare to stage free and fair polls.
In a petition presented to the 20th ordinary session of the assembly of
heads of State and government of the African Union (AU) here, a coalition of
over 300 Zimbabwean civil society groups urged the AU to use the summit to
re-emphasise to the government the need to expedite the reform agenda before
polls due in the second half of 2013.
“As the 20th AU ordinary summit draws to an end we are beaming with
confidence that the AU will be able to remind the government of Zimbabwe to
take corrective measures in ensuring that the forthcoming elections will be
decisive, free and fair,” reads the statement.
“2013 is a definitive epoch which will also determine the democracy of
Zimbabwe in future.”
The summit was officially opened yesterday with key speeches by outgoing
chairperson of the AU, Benin President Boni Yayi, his successor new Ethiopia
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and chairperson of the AU Commission
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who noted that only 33 African countries have
participated in the African Peer Review Mechanism.
Zimbabwe remains one of the 21 African countries who are yet to join this
voluntary scheme to offer itself up for scrutiny by a panel of outside
experts to improve transparency and democratic accountability.
“We have institutionalised good governance and accountability in many
countries through the African Governance Architecture and with 33 countries
having participated in the African peer review mechanism,” Dlamini-Zuma
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told the summit that development and
security on the African continent demand democracy, accountability, shared
responsibilities and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
“The African Charter of Human and People’s Rights and the African Peer
Review Mechanism — which is now 10 years old — show this continent’s
commitment to protect people from abuse and deepen democratic governance,”
Zimbabwe has slid off the agenda of the summit, with heads of State seized
with resolving armed conflicts in Mali, the two Sudans and Central Africa
Nixon Nyikadzino, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition programmes manager, said
their hope was that the AU would include Zimbabwe on the list of unstable
countries and begin a robust process of ensuring that the next elections in
Zimbabwe will be credible.
“This is the AU’s last and critical opportunity to put the Zimbabwe house in
order by ensuring that requisite reforms are implemented in letter and
spirit before the next election,” he said.
In their petition, Zimbabwe civil society groups reported to the leaders
about the recent resurgence of a crackdown on civil society by State agents.
“We contend that the unashamed attacks by the state on civil society are
indicative of a closing of democratic and electoral space and based on
current form, all and any organisation involved in election related issues
would be criminalised and attacked,” reads the petition.
“As civil society organisations, we have documented a well-calculated and
intensified long running assault on our freedoms and activities including
those of human rights defenders, human rights lawyers, arts and media
practitioners, by both State and other non-State actors through slandering,
intimidations, raids, arrests, prosecutions and persecution.
“We take such harassment, which recently culminated in the arrest,
prosecution and detention of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights)
director Okay Machisa, who is also the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
chairperson, as meant to scare and silence organisations that have been
advancing genuine people’s development.
This development follows the earlier incarceration of another Zimrights
employee, Leo Chamahwinya, on trumped up charges of forgery, fraud and
Similar charges and actions have been taken against other organisations like
the Yidez, and the Elections Resource Centre (ERC).”
“2013 is a watershed year for Zimbabwe where Zimbabweans are likely to hold
two plebiscites in the form of a constitutional referendum and election,”
the civil society groups said.
“We reiterate our position that Zimbabwe cannot hold elections without key
reforms that are necessary in ensuring that citizens can express themselves
freely and choose a leader of their choice without undue influence.”
Key demands tabled at AU Summit
- Expeditious finalisation of the constitution-making process according to
the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) so that Zimbabweans
can decide on the draft constitution presented by Copac in a referendum.
- Elimination of State-sponsored violence and the creation of a peaceful
- Disbanding of all violence related militia groups such as Chipangano and
- Immediate cessation of raids and harassment of civil society organisations
and other pro-democracy movements.
- Immediate release of all political prisoners who are in prison on trumped
- Full implementation of electoral reforms which will pave way for the
holding of a free and fair election in Zimbabwe and peaceful transfer of
- A non-partisan security sector that prioritises the security and safety of
citizens and restricts itself to the barracks.
- Transparency in the management of natural resources so that they benefit
the majority of Zimbabweans.
The control of diamonds by the military elite breeds ground for funding
conflict not only in Zimbabwe but also to our neighbours. - Gift Phiri,
By Fungai Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Monday, 28 January 2013 11:30
HARARE - The ongoing probe into alleged diamond money looting in Manicaland
has rattled Zanu PF with the party now barring members from seeking
donations ahead of President Robert Mugabe’s birthday.
Manicaland provincial chairperson Mike Madiro along with four other Zanu PF
provincial officials are embroiled in a $750 000 diamond fraud case after
they allegedly sourced cash from diamond mining firms and pocketed the
Mugabe has already asked the police to investigate the matter.
With Mugabe’s birthday a few weeks away, the 21st Movement on Tuesday last
week launched its fundraising campaign but has barred other party
functionaries from collecting donations on behalf of the movement following
the Manicaland debacle.
Annually Zanu PF youths are dispatched around the country to help raise
funds for Mugabe’s bash, but the diamond probe has put a stop to the old
custom amid fears that the party could be exposed even more, analysts have
Teachers in rural areas are often forced to make donations to Zanu PF
members for occasions such as Mugabe’s birthday bash.
Absalom Sikhosana, Zanu PF’s secretary for youth says party activists are
now barred from seeking donations on behalf of Zanu PF.
“We want to have it as tight as possible because we do not want to bring the
name of the movement into disrepute.
“In order to instil confidence in the exercise, only those who have been
identified will spearhead the fundraising. This year’s fundraising committee
will be chaired by Comrade Johnson Masawi while each of the 10 provinces is
expected to have one focal point coordinating the fundraising,” said
Analysts say Zanu PF is rattled by the display of dirty linen in public and
is now seeking to preen its image ahead of a watershed election.
They said if junior members in Manicaland can extort such huge amounts from
companies, politburo members and cabinet ministers should be getting far
“Not only is the party rattled by the revealing probe, but the collection of
money is extortion because in the majority of cases Zanu PF activists will
be intimidating companies.
“In relationship with Marange, it is not only about Zanu PF but the exposure
of these companies. If low ranking officials could collect such amounts how
much then will politburo members or cabinet ministers get?,” asked Pedzisai
Ruhanya of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute.
By Violet Gonda
28 January 2013
Scores of people from all walks of life continue to pay tribute to one of
Zimbabwe’s most prominent political affairs commentators, UZ lecturer
Professor John Makumbe, who passed away in Harare on Sunday after suffering
a heart attack, aged 63.
In civil society Makumbe was known as a fearless and courageous leader who
tutored Zimbabweans to stand up for their beliefs and principles and exhibit
moral courage in their pursuit for a better Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights said he did so with, “humour, empathy and non-violence ,
qualities which exhibit the true nature of his leadership and serve as an
example to all.”
Historian Diana Mitchell said: “I join all other admirers of John Makumbe in
mourning his death and testifying to his greatness of spirit. Above all, in
the serious and often forbidding climate of politics in Zimbabwe he brought
us the greatest gift of all – the gift of laughter. He was able to make us
laugh when we would have cried. Dear John, rest in peace. You will not be
The Combined Harare Residents Associations said he was a champion of good
governance, human rights and a foot soldier who fought for the rights of the
marginalized especially the albino community. “Throughout his entire life,
he made great strides towards the realization of a better Zimbabwe with good
leadership that respects the will of the people.”
For those working in the media Makumbe was invaluable for providing
reliable, well informed comments, that were not only relevant to the
situation but funny as well. He was always a joy to talk to, even with a
deadline looming and telephone problems. He will be greatly missed by the
staff here at SW Radio Africa who relied on him for his wisdom and sometimes
called him just for inspiration.
In one comment on SW Radio Africa, Makumbe said this about President Mugabe
around the time of the 2008 elections and run off: “90 days will give Robert
Mugabe a lot of time to plan and manipulate the electoral process; it will
also give him time to deploy the war veterans, the ZANU PF militia, the
soldiers, and the CIO back into the field to whip up support. Above all it
will give him time to rest. We understand he is really very tired after
campaigning for the past 3-4 weeks; he is very tired. The man is 84 years
old, here sometimes we say 84,000 years because here we talk mainly in
thousands, but he’s 84 years old and he gets tired so he needed 3 months to
do it again and that will be a real violation of the law.”
He was also not afraid to put his name to any story, no matter how
controversial or sensitive it was. Commenting on reports of serious
corruption in the MDC-T, Makumbe told SW Radio Africa:
“Many people again fail to realise that all of us in Zimbabwe are a product
of a very corrupt regime called the Rhodesia Front. The Ian Smith regime was
corrupt to the core; it was succeeded by the Robert Mugabe regime, the
Zanu-PF regime which is corrupt to the core. The corruption in the MDC is a
fraction of the corruption in Zanu-PF, but we are all victims of these
regimes so corruption has almost become a culture. It would be naivety on
anyone’s part to think that the MDC comprises only saints who are not
touched by these things.”
When asked to comment on reports of divisions between MDC-T Secretary
General Tendai Biti and the party president Morgan Tsvangirai, Makumbe said:
“I have heard lots of that. You know one thing Violet you will find in
political parlance is that they say if you leave two Zimbabweans on the moon
overnight, when you get back to the moon the following day you will find
that they will have formed three political parties! Zimbabweans are very
good at drawing lines, drawing factions here and there… a lot of it is
imagined rather than real.”
When robotics scientist Professor Arthur Mutambara first joined politics,
Makumbe jokingly said Mutambara (who is now Deputy Prime Minister) would be
useful if he used his experience to invent new counting machines that could
handle the huge piles of Zimbabwean dollars.
Commenting on the obscure new United People’s Party in 2006, Makumbe told
the Financial Gazette: “There is a real danger that if UPP doesn’t work hard
between now and 2008 to attract numbers it will end up like the Ndande,
Ndinde and Ndous.” Journalist Kumbirai Mafunda said Makumbe was referring to
other fringe political parties that have emerged in the past but failed to
garner any meaningful support.
Mafunda said Makumbe was a man who was always available any time and would
tell it like it is.
Tony Reeler, who worked with Makumbe on many NGO projects, said: “I remember
John sitting in the Sheraton with a group of us waiting to see the
Commonwealth Foreign Ministers, and the Zimbabwe Government delegation
walking out of the meeting, led by John Nkomo. They greeted John – mainly
because he had deliberately placed his chair close to their path and the
watching cameras – and he responded by alternatively showing the closed fist
and the open hand, and saying loudly, “which team are you”? Everyone
laughed, even the Government delegation, but whom else in Zimbabwe in 2000
would have dared tease ZANU PF in that way.
The outspoken critic of Mugabe and ZANU PF announced late last year he was
taking a break from teaching so he could “walk the walk” and contest in the
parliamentary election for the MDC-T, in polls expected this year.
Makumbe said he was venturing into politics because “the way this country
has been misgoverned, any idiot can do better if they take over from
Critic of his style accused him of being a spin doctor for the MDC-T and
being partisan in his analysis, but Makumbe, made no apologies for having an
“It is fiction to think that academics are neutral politically. There is
always a preferred side, particularly in a country like Zimbabwe where you
actually have a highly polarized society. Whether people admit it or not
everyone is either ZANU PF or MDC-T.”
Rest in peace professor, we will miss you.
By Alex Bell
28 January 2013
The head of a former Chiadzwa based mining company, who was sued over
information contained in a previously confidential diplomatic report, is
being described as a ‘sacrificial lamb’ after losing his case.
African Consolidated Resources (ACR) boss Andrew Cranswick was sued in 2011
for US$10 million by the head of the CIO, Happyton Bonyongwe, over
previously confidential comments published in a WikiLeaks report, which
linked Bonyongwe to diamond looting. ACR property has since been attached
for auction to cover these costs.
The comments about Bonyongwe were contained in a diplomatic cable from the
US Embassy, created by the then Ambassador James McGee in November 2008. The
cable contained details of a meeting between Cranswick and the US embassy,
with Cranswick allegedly warning: “High-ranking Zimbabwean government
officials and well-connected elites are generating millions of dollars in
personal income by hiring teams of diggers to hand-extract diamonds from the
Chiadzwa mine in eastern Zimbabwe.”
The cable goes on to claim that Cranswick told the US Embassy that Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono, Grace Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru, the
then Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi, General Constantine
Chiwenga and wife Jocelyn, CIO Director Bonyongwe, Manicaland Governor Chris
Mushowe, and several white Zimbabweans, including Ken Sharpe, Greg Scott,
and Hendrik O’Neill, are all involved in the Marange diamond trade.
Bonyongwe launched his lawsuit after trying to force Cranswick to pay
damages over the information in the WikiLeaks cables, insisting the claims
were false and a defamation of his character. A judge last year said this
held up in court and ordered Cranswick to pay the US$10 million damages
Bonyongwe is not the first ZANU PF individual to file a lawsuit over
WikiLeaks revelations. His lawsuit was filed at the time that Grace Mugabe
filed her own US$15 million defamation claim against The Standard newspaper,
which also published news articles about the WikiLeaks report. Gideon Gono
has also filed a US$12.5 million suit against the same newspaper over the
Political analyst Clifford Mashiri said the case against ACR has now set a
worrying precedent that will further silence any dissenting voices in
Zimbabwe. Mashiri also said that Cranswick has been made “the sacrificial
lamb”, in a show of “intimidation” by the CIO.
“This could open up the floodgates of cases of alleged wrongdoing because of
information in WikiLeaks,” Mashiri warned.
He added: “WikiLeaks information should not have any merit in court and this
case should never have gone this far. The judgment itself was at fault
because Cranswick wasn’t there to defend himself.”
By Alex Bell
28 January 2013
A demonstration has been planned to protest a contentious new book about
ZANU PF’s land grab campaign, which is painted as a ‘success’ by the book’s
“Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land” was written by three scholars and aims to
counter “the dominant media narratives of oppression and economic stagnation
The authors are Dr. Joseph Hanlon, Jeanette Manjengwa from the University of
Zimbabwe and Dr. Teresa Smart. The book’s blurb reads that a decade after
the land grabs started, “the land reform story is a contrast to the dominant
media narratives of oppression and economic stagnation. Zimbabwe Takes Back
its Land offers a more positive and nuanced assessment of land reform in
Zimbabwe. It does not minimize the depredations of the Mugabe regime; indeed
it stresses that the land reform was organized by liberation war veterans
acting against President Mugabe and his cronies and their corruption.”
The authors are this week in London discussing their research findings,
collated after spending a month in the country last year.
London based protest group the Zimbabwe Vigil has now planned a
demonstration outside one of the events where the authors will be speaking,
insisting that the information is misleading and the book “sanitizes” a
devastating decade of abuse. The demonstration will take place on Thursday
evening at Chatham House.
The Vigil’s Dennis Benton told SW Radio Africa on Monday that, after reading
the book, he found the information to be “contentious,” and “misleading,”
saying the book is written from an inherently “racist basis.”
“It is full of statistics that are impossible if you have spent such a short
time researching the details. It is also written from the basis that if you
are white, you are not Zimbabwean,” Benton explained.
In its open letter to Chatham House, the Vigil said: “We believe the illegal
and violent seizure of commercial farms is an abuse of human rights. British
courts have found this to be the case.”
“If, as claimed in the book, agricultural production is returning to former
levels, the Vigil warmly welcomes it. But this assertion does not square
with the statement by the UN that 1.6 million Zimbabweans are facing
starvation – some 12% of the population – and for yet another year Zimbabwe
needs international food aid.”
The letter adds: “Whether or not the agricultural situation is improving,
and it could hardly fail to, the land seizures were illegal under
international law and the SADC treaty. This has fatally undermined
agriculture sector finance, especially since Zimbabwe has yet to meet its
legal obligations to pay compensation.”
By Jeffrey Muvundusi, Own Correspondent
Monday, 28 January 2013 11:38
BULAWAYO - Police in Bulawayo have banned commemorations on Gukurahundi
massacres on the “feeble” excuse that the meeting would cause disharmony and
The “emotional” commemorations were supposed to take place on Saturday
afternoon at the Presbyterian Church in the city.
Organisers of the event, Bulawayo based pressure group, Ibhetshu Likazulu,
had earlier in the week notified the police as required under the harsh
Public Order and Security Act.
The event was meant to mark the annual World Genocide Day, which falls on
In this case, the commemorations were meant to remember the butchering of
over 20 000 innocent civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces by a
North Korean trained military brigade in the early years following
independence in 1980.
In a written response to Ibhetshu Likazulu’s notification, the Officer
Commanding Bulawayo District, only indentified as Chief Superintendent L.S
Maninge, cited two reasons for banning the event.
“This office acknowledges receipt of your notification dated the 21st of
January 2013 in which you intended to commemorate the so-called World
Genocide Day on the 26th of January at Presbyterian Church from 1300 to 1700
hours,” reads the police letter.
“I regret to inform you that this office cannot sanction the event due to
the following reasons. Firstly, the agenda of the meeting is likely to cause
disharmony and division among the society. Secondly, the district is
overstretched with other commitments on the day,” reads the letter.
The Daily News witnessed scores of people flocking to the venue only to be
Speaking to the Daily News, Ibhetshu Likazulu secretary Mbuso Fuzwayo said
the police action was uncalled for.
“I still don’t understand why the police will deny us a clearance just for a
commemoration. After all, these kind of commemorations are taking place
across the world since it is World Genocide Day.
“Besides we have been doing these commemorations for years, why not now?”
“Gukurahundi was unquestionably one of the worst genocides ever in the world
hence our move to remember the innocent souls who perished in this part of
the world,” he said.
Minister of Water Resources, Development and Management Samuel Sipepa Nkomo,
National Healing minister Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Matabeleland Civic Society
Forum spokesperson Dumisani Nkomo were due to speak at the commemorations,
which had the theme “Transitional justice towards peaceful elections”.
By Fungai Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Monday, 28 January 2013 11:01
HARARE - Firebrand socialist leader Munyaradzi Gwisai has scored yet another
victory against the Attorney General (AG)’s office after a High Court judge
threw out the State’s appeal contesting his sentence in a public unrest
Gwisai, along with five others, were convicted on charges of conspiracy to
commit public violence on March 21 last year.
His accomplices were Antonater Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, Edson Chakuma,
Hopewell Gumbo and Welcome Zimuto.
Magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini ordered the six to pay a $500 fine, failure
of which they were to spend 10 months in prison.
In addition, Jarabini sentenced each of the six to 24 months in prison
before suspending 12 months on condition of good behaviour for the next five
The remaining 12 months were set aside on condition that the activists were
to perform 420 hours of community service.
Unhappy with the “lenient” sentence, the State filed a counter application
against Jarabini’s ruling.
However, High Court judge Charles Hungwe dismissed the application for lack
“In my opinion, the test to be applied when considering an application for
leave to appeal under section 62 (1) of the Magistrates Court Act is whether
the Attorney General has a reasonable prospect of success on appeal. If he
has, then, leave to appeal should be granted. If he has not, the leave to
appeal should be refused.
“Applying the above principles to the present application, I am satisfied
that the Attorney General’s appeal does not enjoy any prospect of success,”
Hungwe said the application for leave to appeal was not timeously made as
stipulated by the law.
“The application for leave to appeal was out of time. Notwithstanding this
anomaly no application for an extension of time within which to apply for
time was made nor was an application for condonation of the late filing of
the application for leave to appeal as is required by the rules,” said
“If the Attorney General wishes to ensure that a particular convicted person
should serve a longer sentence of imprisonment than that imposed by the
magistrate, he must act quickly and take the matter up as a matter of
urgency,” said Hungwe.
Hungwe said the AG’s grounds of appeal failed to encompass matters set out
under the Magistrates Act.
Gwisai was arrested in February 2011, together with 44 other social and
human rights activists, while 39 were later freed, leaving the other six in
Initially police charged Gwisai for treason but later downgraded the charges
to inciting public violence.
In response to media reports concerning the transfer of military helicopter
airframes and spares from South Africa to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF),
Amnesty International’s southern Africa director Noel Kututwa said:
“With Zimbabwe heading to the polls this year such a transfer would be
ill-timed and ill-judged.
“The South African government is a SADC appointed facilitator on the
Zimbabwean crisis and has a moral responsibility to avoid any transfers of
military equipment that may be used to commit or facilitate human rights
“Members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces were implicated in organising the
wave of human rights violations that followed the March 2008 elections. To
be transferring arms of any kind to Zimbabwe at this critical time, and when
the defence forces continue to resist key reforms to avert another violent
election, is wrong and irresponsible.”
“The South African government should strictly implement the human rights
criteria in its own arms export law.
“This development underlines the need for a robust Arms Trade Treaty which
would make it illegal under international law for any transfer of arms to be
made when it is likely that they could be used to commit or facilitate human
Southern Africa Press Officer,
Southern Africa office
- For three weeks Tavonga Kwidini and his wife Maria had no tap water in their home in Glen View, one of the many dry suburbs in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
The couple was just about at the end of their tether when heavy rains came like a gift from the heavens.
“We now harvest rainwater and that’s what we use to bathe, drink and flush our toilets,” Kwidini told IPS as he lined up his buckets underneath the roof of his house in anticipation of the January showers.
Such has been his life since the second week of December 2012, which was the last time he had tap water. Surprisingly, he still receives the council water bill averaging around 80 dollars every month.
“Water problems are not new here — in 2008 some of my neighbours died of cholera because of these shortages but the (city) council is not doing anything to make sure that we have safe household water,” according to Kwidini.
U.N. assistance still needed
In the past the problem was largely blamed on shortages of water treatment chemicals, but for nearly half a decade this excuse has been inadequate, as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provided these chemicals to the country’s 20 urban councils free of charge.
U.N. assistance came in response to Zimbabwe’s 2008 cholera epidemic that killed about 4,000 people. It was not until last April, when local authorities indicated that the situation was under control, that UNICEF discontinued its support, according to UNICEF Chief Communications Officer Micaela Marques de Sousa.
However, experts and locals agree that the current status quo might force the aid agency to rethink its position, given that access to safe water is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose 2015 target is fast approaching.
Until the UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme withdrew in 2008 the situation had improved visibly, with greater numbers of people in Zimbabwe’s 20 urban centres able to access safe water and sanitation services.
Now it is common to see many people in urban Zimbabwe carrying buckets and walking in search of water, a sight that had hitherto been limited to rural areas.
“We have no option but to move from one area to the next in search of boreholes with clean water. These days we are lucky because of the rains, otherwise I would be carrying a 20-litre bucket to my work place to bring drinking water home,” said Kwidini, who works at a wholesale shop in central Harare.
Residents seek alternatives
As with many crises, women and children are shouldering the lion’s share of the burden.
Women who have now resorted to doing their washing in water bodies that are often used as dumping areas by industrial companies are vulnerable to several health hazards.Meanwhile, children are being forced into the role of “water bearer”.
“My day starts at five a.m. as I join a queue at the local borehole to get bath water for my father, myself and for household use,” fourteen-year-old Thelma told IPS.
Like many of her peers Thelma has to join the long water line early or else she will be late for school.
The number of functioning boreholes is inadequate to service the urban population, and when they break down – a common occurrence – they are often left in a state of disrepair.
A borehole at the Tichagarika Shopping Centre in Glen View suburb, which serviced hundreds of residents, broke down in June last year and remained dormant until its components were stolen.
The government assisted Harare in sinking 250 boreholes across the capital but residents say most of these have either broken down or only provide contaminated water.
According to the Health and Child Welfare Ministry’s disease monitoring report, an estimated 50 typhoid cases are reported each day in Harare and its satellite towns. Roughly 500,000 people in Zimbabwe suffered from diarrhoea in 2012; of these, 460,000 were serious cases and 281 were fatal.
Statistics from an advocacy group, the Harare Residents Trust (HRT), suggest that only 192,000 households in Harare, a city of two million people, are connected to the water system, while the rest depend on boreholes or rainwater.
To make matters worse HRT says the city is losing 60 percent of its treated water to leakages in the old infrastructure. Harare needs 1,300 mega litres of water daily but the current supply per day ranges from 600-700 mega litres, approximately half of the demand.
On top of this, Zimbabwe spends 27 million dollars a month to treat the water supply.
HRT Director Precious Shumba told IPS that the problems facing the city are a sign of local councils’ failure to adequately provide its residents with the most basic services.
“We are most disappointed with the level of service provision — the quality is atrocious and residents are complaining of stomachaches and diarrhoeal diseases like typhoid. Most of the time, the water coming out of taps is smelly and has visible impurities,” said Shumba.
“In areas like Crowborough, Dzivarasekwa and Glen Norah, Budiriro, residents have witnessed sadza (cooked cornmeal) and vegetable particles flowing out of their taps, raising genuine fears of the safety and sustainably of this water for human consumption,” Shumba added.
A recent study from the University of Zimbabwe indicated that one in every 1,000 people in the capital is at risk of developing colon or liver cancer due to continuous consumption of unsafe water pumped from polluted sources.
Christopher Zvobgo, a Harare city engineer, strongly disputed these findings, though he admitted that the city undoubtedly faces water-related challenges.
“We test water on a daily basis and we take samples from different points. Every month we send (the samples) to two independent laboratories for testing and they meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard,” he said adding that the biggest problem lies in the aged water infrastructure.
But back in Glen View, residents like Alois Chidoda and his children are forced to rely on boreholes because the water coming out of their tap is “brown in colour” and simply not fit for consumption, he told IPS.
“Using it will be inviting disease,” Chidoda added.
President of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ), Femias Chakabuda, blames the water shortages in the country’s urban areas on mounting government debts.
“The problem is our government wants to use water for free. That makes it impossible for us to repair water infrastructure and pay our own service providers,” he told IPS, adding that the government currently owes Harare City Council over 10 million dollars, Masvingo City Council over seven million dollars and Bulawayo City Council four million dollars in back-payment for water services.
on January 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm
By Lance Guma
HARARE – As the battle for votes in the 2013 elections intensifies, Finance
Minister Tendai Biti has described the empowerment model being pursued by
their rivals in Zanu PF as the “predatory accumulation from the rich to the
The MDC-T Secretary General said the indigenisation policies being pushed by
Mugabe’s party were “not empowerment; but an ‘an elite predatory transfer.’
Biti said there was a need to expand the national cake so that all
Zimbabweans can benefit from it and not just a few in Zanu PF.
“The starting point is to recognize fundamentally that Zimbabwe is a very
small economy, less than 3% of the entire SADC economy with a mere budget of
US$3.8 billion and Southern Africa’s 3rd smallest economy after Lesotho and
Swaziland, nominal GDP about US$11 billion so the cake is very small.
“The challenge is how do we expand the cake. The point of departure between
MDC and Zanu PF is that Zanu PF starts from the starting point that let’s
distribute this tiny economy which is a rat, lets distribute this tiny rat
to over 14 million people,” he said explaining the MDC counter policy called
“The MDC’s position is that fundamentally, let’s expand this economy. Let’s
have supply side reform that expands the cake so that it becomes an
elephant. And in that way, we can have more economic players than when you
have a tiny population participating,” he said.
Biti argued that the Indigenisation Programme was not nationalisation as
“nobody is getting shares for free. You have to buy them.”
He said in a situation “where the per capita income of the average
Zimbabwean is US$370.00, and in a situation where 85% of the people are
living below the poverty datum line it means only a very few people, a tiny
elite can afford to buy shares in Barclays bank, Zimplats,” he added.
Zanu PF MP and Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere hit back this week
by suggesting that MDC-T policies were borrowed from Abel Muzorewa, the
short-lived Prime Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
“It is clearly accepted by the whole world that Zanu PF is going to win the
elections because it has empowered Zimbabweans. The MDC-T is regurgitating
what Muzorewa used to say that ‘leave the whites alone, we just want jobs’
because that is the same mantra that the MDC-T is repeating.
“They are talking about employment creation only, but we in Zanu PF are
talking about decent jobs and empowerment of the people. Who says if I am a
farm owner I am not employed? We want to support our own young people to
create jobs,” Kasukuwere said. Nehanda Radio
BY TOM NEVIN, JANUARY 28 2013, 08:33
DISPOSSESSED Zimbabwean farmer Mike Campbell was able to take his case to
the judiciary in South Africa because of the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) Tribunal decision, pronounced before it was dissolved,
which found Zimbabwe to have been in violation of the Sadc Treaty.
Zimbabwe was in contempt of court for refusing to adhere to that ruling.
"The petitioners, Campbell and Co, sought to have the Sadc judgments
enforced in a South African court," says Nicole Fritz, director of the
Southern Africa Litigation Centre.
"They could do so because of longstanding traditions that allow it," she
"If the implications of the ruling need to be enforced outside the territory
of the state in which the order was given, you can seek to have the judgment
enforced in the other state. The petitioner did not have to be a South
African and enforcement of the tribunal ruling can be effected in South
Africa, and because Zimbabwe has certain property holdings in South Africa."
Does this presage a slew of cases to be taken up by South African courts?
No, it does not, says Jeremy Gauntlett, a senior counsel in South Africa.
This was because the tribunal issued only a few judgments before it was shut
In South Africa, the Campbell case was won in the Pretoria High Court by the
petitioners and this was challenged by Zimbabwe in the Supreme Court of
Appeal. It lost the appeal and announced it would seek a hearing at the
Constitutional Court, stalling the sale in execution of its South African
commercial properties. Leave to appeal and merits are expected to be heard
on February 28.
Zimbabwe’s attorney-general, Johannes Tomana, expressed disappointment at
the outcomes of the hearings in South Africa. "We have spent a lot of money
fighting in the South African courts and it all comes down to the fact that
South Africa is disrespecting the diplomatic immunity that governs relations
between sovereign states and is defying a directive by regional leaders to
stop the work of the tribunal. The South African courts are just playing
Mr Tomana opted for a final fling of the South African judicial dice by
taking the matter on appeal to the Constitutional Court.
"Zimbabwe’s intention to appeal in the Constitutional Court means that the
sheriff will wait for the outcome of Zimbabwe’s approach to the court," Ms
Fritz points out. "If the court decides it is not a constitutional matter
and that there will not be a hearing, that will then be that and the
execution of property order will be carried out."
Zimbabwe was ordered by the tribunal to pay the legal costs only. Why this
limitation? What about compensation for the seized farms? Ms Fritz hazards
the supposition that "while the Sadc Tribunal ordered that just compensation
for the confiscated land be paid, it did not determine what such
compensation would be.
"This is in line with deference afforded sovereign executives and
jurisdictions by supranational courts. They would be loath to make an order
not knowing what the budgetary implications for the applicable state would
And that is where the legal battle in South Africa now rests. It will end if
the Constitutional Court declines to hear Zimbabwe’s appeal or joined once
more if it does.
Meanwhile, the erstwhile judges of the tribunal have registered their anger
and distress at not receiving their outstanding and severance remuneration
after the court’s dissolution.
Justice Ariranga Pillay has demanded that the Sadc council and summit
"should face up to the consequences of their acts and do the decent and
honourable thing in the circumstances and pay fair and adequate compensation
for the prejudice, both material and moral, caused to the president and
members of the tribunal whose term of office was not renewed".
Disagreements over such compensation, he says, must be referred to mediation
or arbitration in the interests of justice.
I am writing in response to Jonathan Steele’s article of the 23rd January
regarding the “good news from Zimbabwe” in relation to agriculture.
Mr. Steele quotes from a new book which asserts that agricultural production
in Zimbabwe “is now back to the levels of the late 1990’s.” He praises the
authors because “they have the courage to criticize Amnesty International
for exaggerating the plight of the farm workers.”
With approximately 1.7 million people needing to be fed – partly by the
British tax payers – yet again in Zimbabwe in 2013, why does Mr. Steele not
try to account for the factual discrepancy? If production was really back to
where it was in the late 1990’s, Zimbabwe would be exporting food rather
than needing food aid.
Is it ethical in the British journalistic world to quote propaganda that is
not factual – and praise the propaganda writers for their courage? If it is,
I would suggest Zimbabwean and British journalistic ethics are perhaps very
Maybe Mr. Steel would like to come on a tour and see with his own eyes what
is happening on the ground. I would be very happy to take him to Mount
Carmel Farm where we were evicted from 3 years ago by a “new farmer” [an
octogenarian former Cabinet Minister] – to see our burnt houses, our broken
tractors, our looted sheds, our dying orchards and our victimized farm
Ben Freeth [author of “Mugabe and the White African”].
Britain’s Mugabe-phobia has obscured the good news from Zimbabwe
With elections looming the media will resume their old crisis lines,
ignoring the positive results of the land occupations
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 23 January 2013 19.30 GM
Elections will be held in Zimbabwe later this year, leading with grim
predictability to another bout of Mugabe-phobia in the British media. The
trigger for the presidential and parliamentary poll was the deal struck last
week between the 88-year-old president and the leader of the rival Movement
for Democratic Change, the rime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, on a new
After months of wrangling the two men, who have been running the country in
an uneasy coalition for the last four years, agreed on a text. It has not
yet been published, so doubt remains on whether it reduces the president’s
power in favour of parliament, as the MDC wanted. But whatever it contains,
the document will have to be put to a referendum.
Then follow elections, and there are already strong hints that they could
again be marked by violence. Mugabe seems determined to stand once more,
admitting he is vulnerable but saying he will fight like “a wounded beast”.
Meanwhile, a group of 58 civil organisations last week condemned what they
called a “well-calculated and intensive” assault on human rights activists
and journalists as voter registration gets under way.
As passions risk becoming inflamed again and the old battle positions resume
in Britain’s media as well as Zimbabwe’s, the danger is that long-term
trends get overlooked. Good news has just emerged from Britain’s last former
African colony that shows that the land occupations and evictions of white
farmers by angry veterans of the liberation struggle that was the big
Zimbabwe story of a decade ago did not destroy the country’s agriculture, as
so often claimed. Far from it, production is now back to the levels of the
late 1990s and more land is under cultivation than was worked by white
The evidence is contained in Zimbabwe Takes Back Its Land, a book based on
several research studies in various parts of the country. The authors look
at Zimbabwe’s first land reform right after independence in 1980, which was
not so fiercely contested, as well as the changes sparked by the veterans’
occupations in the late 1990s, which Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party originally
ignored but later took over and turned into a political weapon.
The authors criticise Mugabe’s economic mismanagement, which led to
hyperinflation between 2005 and 2008. It was not the land reform that caused
hyperinflation, but bad economic decisions. They say the introduction of the
US dollar by the unity government four years ago brought a quicker economic
recovery and hence greater benefits for farm producers than anyone expected.
They have the courage to criticise Amnesty International for exaggerating
the plight of farm workers who were forced off formerly “white” land taken
over by Africans, and say that by 2011 the number of people working on
resettlement land had increased more than fivefold, from 167,000 to over a
They have a go at a prominent BBC report which, they say, fell for the myth
of a cornucopia when white people ran most of commercial agriculture and a
“black disaster” thereafter. White farmers never used all the land they had
taken. In the years just before minority rule collapsed, in spite of
generous government subsidies, 30% of white farmers were insolvent and
another 30% only broke even. Some 66% of arable land was lying fallow.
After the occupations in 2000, although some new African farmers reverted to
subsistence agriculture, a growing number have been moving into commercial
farming and there has even been a healthy return to the land by urban black
people. In part this is because land is still highly prized in Zimbabwe and
the desire to recover it was so crucial an element, ideologically and
emotionally, in the struggle against white settlement. Indeed, the authors
start their book with an arch reminder of an earlier generation of war
veterans who evicted farmers and burnt their houses. They included the
former Rhodesian white minority leader Ian Smith and other champions of
white minority rule who got their economic start in life in 1945 by defining
African farmers as squatters and throwing them – without compensation – off
land that the foreign settlers’ government designated as the exclusive
preserve of white people. “Regaining the land was central to the
independence struggle in a way that was never the case in Mozambique and
South Africa … Mozambique’s urbanised elite simply do not think of farming,”
In spite of the progress of recent years the book argues that Zimbabwean
farming still faces major challenges of investment shortages and training.
It takes a generation for farmers to master their land and 10 years is too
short a period to judge the complete success of the occupations. But the
record is far better than the outside world gives credit for. While Zimbabwe
Takes Back Its Land focuses on a specific controversy, its challenge to
conventional wisdom and stereotyping offers wider lessons. It is a reminder
that crisis coverage, even when accurate, is only a part of what the media
should be about. Follow-ups and reports on long-term trends are equally
• Jonathan Steele covered Zimbabwe’s elections in 2000 for the Guardian
28 January 2013
Vince Musewe says Zanu PF is doing exactly what they denounce
I just wish I could educate Zimbabweans that, as long as they continue to
import cheap goods from China, they are effectively shifting jobs and
employment to China.
If I were to become the President of Zimbabwe, one of my first decisions
would be to rescind all deals done by ZANU (PF) with the Chinese. I am
disgusted and quite angry to learn that Anjin, one of the companies mining
diamonds in the Marange fields in Manicaland province in Zimbabwe, is 90
percent owned by the Chinese and 10 percent by the army and is clandestinely
diverting huge diamond revenues that effectively belong to Zimbabweans. How
could we be so stupid to get into a relationship where the army merely owns
10% of a very valuable national asset? Interestingly enough, they are the
very ones talking about how they will defend 100% indigenization of the
As far as I am concerned, the extraction of national assets and revenues
from Zimbabwe by the Chinese is no different to Western imperialism that
resulted in the underdevelopment of Africa. This time, we have Chinese
imperialism happening with the consent and participation of our so called
Our politicians continue to tell us how the imperialists want to destroy
Africa and keep it underdeveloped, but right on our door step is de facto
Chinese imperialism. I think our liberation struggle political parties have
been na´ve to believe that looking East will create a advantageous economic
relations compared with the West. Personally, I have not heard of any
African country, which has developed rapidly because of the involvement of
the Chinese. Yes, they have built infrastructure in Africa, but the cost to
our future generations is unimaginable. Their economic agenda is that of
extracting as much wealth and value out of Africa as possible. Its all about
I cannot believe it that, as Zimbabweans, we have allowed the Chinese to
ride roughshod over locals in almost every sector of the economy that they
are involved in. There are many disturbing instances reported, not only
about the ridiculous quality of their products, but on how they badly treat
workers in Zimbabwe and how they boast that they are untouchable. In
addition, their utter disreagrd of our environment is evident in Harare.
Remember that, despite China's wealth, the Chinese are one of the most poor
and rural populations in the world. Those who end up in Africa are not
necessarily the best of breed there. This was also the same pattern during
colonialism, where Africa was the dumping ground of those who were escaping
Chinese products that have flooded the Zimbabwe market are certainly cheaper
than local ones or those products imported from South Africa, but their
quality and durability is atrocious. All one has to do is to walk around
Harare shops and witness Chinese imperialism in action. Our factories are
closed and unemployment is high because we have allowed the Chinese
unfettered entry into our markets and yet, worldwide, countries are
protecting their economies and the livelihoods of their people from Chinese
In my books, the Minister of Trade and Industry, has responsibility to
protect Zimbabwe's borders from unfair trade practice and cheap imports.
Unless I am misinformed, I have not heard of him aggressively addressing
this issue. This is a national security issue.
Unfortunately, Zimbabwean consumers are also na´ve participants in their own
underdevelopment. Whatever happened to the buy local campaign? I wish I
could educate Zimbabweans that, as long as they import cheap goods from
China, they are shifting jobs to China. Of course right now, we have a
fundamental problem in that, our factories are unable to meet local demand
and prices are quite high due to the cost of capital. However, unless we
protect our economy with a very aggressive local industrialization policy
that builds local capacity; we cannot expect this economy to rebound.
Each day, I sit and think the economic and social costs that have been
caused by the ill conceived policies of ZANU (PF) over the last couple of
years. From a land reform program that affected 2 million families and
created serious food insecurity that Zimbabweans could not feed themselves,
to operation murambatsvina that affected 700,000 families to their
disastrous monetary policy in 2008 that effectively made every Zimbabwean
poor and now to the indigenization policy that will destroy viable entities
and further discourage foreign investment which we desperately need.
Everything these black men have touched has been a disaster. Now we have a
case where, billions of US dollars that we need to develop our country are
going to China on the pretext of fighting imperialism. That is unacceptable.
This makes me really angry because, it is the poor Zimbabweans that I see
every day that are suffering while the ‘chefs' are getting fat.
I shall definitely be writing a book soon on the underdevelopment of
Zimbabwe by ZANU (PF) in partnership with the Chinese, so that our future
generations may know the truth and hopefully not repeat the same mistakes.
Wake up Zimbabwe!
Vince Musewe is an economic analyst based in Harare. You may contact him on
by Tony Reelers
• John Makumbe – a true hero
Very few people can be described as heroes. It is a term that should be used
to describe a person who overcomes enormous adversity for the common good:
such a person was John Makumbe. To be born an albino in Zimbabwe 63 years
ago, and to die being remembered for being one of the most tolerant,
non-discriminatory, peace-loving, and open persons in the nation is to be a
hero. Others will describe his contribution, but I wish to honour the
remarkable man that John Makumbe was.
John once told me that this gift of his for being tolerant and loving did
not come easy. Until a caring pastor showed him that he was not a freak, he
dealt with the mocking and ridicule through violence, and through the
support of his loving family. The first he gave up, but he never lost the
gift of loving: his caring and understanding of the trials faced by people
carried him into a special place in the hearts of the nation. More than
anyone alive today, John Makumbe showed the qualities of the true democrat
because he knew that the way in which democracy should develop depended on
tolerance and respect for others. He lived this more than any other person
that I have ever met.
He was also the most courageous man that I have ever met. He turned
adversity into strength, and strength into love. No one that I have ever met
was less daunted about speaking truth to power. John, in the hearts of tens
of thousands of Zimbabweans, is the person we will all remember as the
person who said what no-one else would dare to say, who would speak the
words we all wished to say, and it always would be the words that could
carry us forward into a better place. When he spoke, the words resonated in
all of us.
John also had another extraordinary gift. He could take very complex
problems and then make them simple, and, even better than this, then make
the very simple funny. Laughter was very close to the surface in John: he
could so easily have been a sarcastic and cynical commentator, after all he
was a deeply respected academic and academics have this training in the art
of debate and criticism. John was no less a critic, but he delivered the
criticism with wit and immense good humour. The stories that described this
gift are legendary.
I remember John sitting in the Sheraton with a group of us waiting to see
the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers, and the Zimbabwe Government delegation
walking out of the meeting, led by John Nkomo. They greeted John – mainly
because he had deliberately placed his chair close to their path and the
watching cameras – and he responded by alternatively showing the closed fist
and the open hand, and saying loudly, “which team are you”? Everyone
laughed, even the Government delegation, but whom else in Zimbabwe in 2000
would have dared tease ZANU PF in that way.
He was an outrageous political tease: in the House of Lords, Brussels,
Washington – in fact everywhere – John would push the high and mighty
through his unique gift of allying humour to clear political analysis. In
the House of Lords, I have a vivid memory of him teasing the Lords attending
a briefing, suggesting that they visit Zimbabwe to see things for
themselves, and, when one eminent Lord pointed out that they might be
deported or arrested, John told them, straight-faced, that this was the
point. Their faces were a sight to behold, but were relieved when John burst
into his inimitable laughter.
But whilst he debunked and teased the high and mighty, he had a touch for
the ordinary person, for these were the people he understood and fought for
his whole life. From the formation of FODEZI through his chairmanship of the
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition to his final acceptance of joining a political
party, John always kept close to his heart (and his expression) his deepest
beliefs in democracy, citizen power, and, above all, his deepest belief in
the family and the community as the bedrock for both of these.
But John’s greatest strengths were his zest for life and love, expressed
with his inimitable humour. Even those who disagreed with him, and found his
opinions often outrageous, would find themselves laughing in spite of
themselves, and later seeing his point. This was why he was our greatest
teacher, one of the very few who could get us to see the important things in
life, the ways in which we could be better than we are, the ways in which we
could overcome adversity, and then see the deeper message.
John Makumbe lived life to the fullest. He lived his beliefs to the fullest.
He was the best example to our nation of how an ordinary person can become
extraordinary. His legacy to Zimbabwe is immense, not because he enjoyed
power, but because he showed as all by example that we can be personally
powerful. He was clever, brave, honest, compassionate, and caring, and the
only sadness is that he did not live to see the democracy for which he gave
so much of his living. We must remember his legacy, but never forget the way
in which he lived that legacy: principle and love were his greatest gifts.