|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has told his
treason trial the state's key witness entrapped him after promising to
arrange a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Tsvangirai, who leads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
has denied charges of plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe and stage a
coup ahead of the southern African country's controversial 2002 elections.
The state's case against Tsvangirai, who could face a death sentence if
convicted, hinges mainly on a videotape of a meeting he held with
Canadian-based political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe where prosecutors say
Mugabe's "elimination" was discussed.
Wrapping up his evidence on Wednesday after 10 days in the witness stand,
Tsvangirai said he had hired Ben-Menashe as a political lobbyist and had
gone to a meeting in Montreal after promises that it would be attended by
top U.S. officials.
"Mr Menashe was suggesting a higher official to the level of Colin Powell,"
he said to a question of whether he was expecting one particular official.
Tsvangirai said Ben-Menashe had promised to win him U.S. political and
In his evidence at the beginning of the trial last year, Ben-Menashe -- who
has been called an unreliable witness by the defence -- said there was a
U.S. official at the Montreal meeting, but Tsvangirai's lawyers say he was
Last week Tsvangirai said he was "trapped" into using the word "elimination"
and he only meant it in the political sense, "after it had been explained to
me that it means the president would not participate in the elections".
On Wednesday, during cross-examination Tsvangirai maintained that there was
no plan to assassinate Mugabe and the only thing he discussed were
suggestions that Mugabe might accept a plan for him to retire months before
the March 2002 polls.
Tsvangirai, a 51-year-old former trade unionist, and his MDC have emerged as
the most potent challenge to Mugabe since independence from Britain in 1980.
Tsvangirai says he won the March 2002 presidential elections but Mugabe was
declared the victor despite claims of vote-rigging and electoral fraud
lodged by both the MDC and a number of international observers.
On Wednesday, Tsvangirai said he had "no grave dispute" with the sequence of
the videotape of the Montreal meeting as the audible parts had helped him to
recollect what transpired, but some gaps in the video and transcript had
distorted the spirit of the discussions.
Mugabe, 79, has called Tsvangirai a pawn of Western powers opposed to his
policy of seizing white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.
The case was postponed to February 11, when Tsvangirai's lawyers are
expected to call witnesses for the defence.
African and Asian nations are most at risk for genocide, international
forum is told
By Amiram Barkat
STOCKHOLM - The danger of genocide exists in five
countries in Africa
and Asia, according to an American expert who yesterday addressed the
Stockholm International Convention on the Prevention of Genocide.
Barbara Harp, of the U.S. Center for
Conflict Management, said there
was a high risk of genocide in Sudan, Myanmar, Burundi, Rwanda and the
Democratic Republic of Congo.
She told the forum that eight other countries - Somalia, Uganda,
Algeria, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ethiopia - were also at
Asked by Haaretz about the dangers in Israel, Harp said that experts
at the center did not believe there was a strong likelihood that Israel
would carry out genocide against the Palestinians. Some of the central
indications for genocide and, in particular, the ideological basis, did not
exist in Israel, Harp said.
"Israel behaves badly at times, and even very badly," she said, "but
it is a normal country."
Zimbabwe is the most likely candidate
The question of where genocide was likely to take place in the world
today was the main concern of the experts at the Stockholm meet. Samantha
Powers of Harvard University and the U.S. Center for Conflict Management
said that in her opinion, the most likely candidate was Zimbabwe. Most of
the experts agreed that at present, the African continent was the most
likely breeding ground for genocide.
The international forum concluded its deliberations yesterday with a
resolution taken by the 55 participating countries.
At Israel's request, incitement to genocide was added to the phenomena
mentioned in the resolution on the prevention of genocide. Israel did not
object to the Swedes' request to include Islamophobia alongside
anti-Semitism and xenophobia in the resolution.
The Swedish media reported yesterday that the United States and Israel
had prevented an initiative to have the resolution include a mention of the
International Criminal Court at The Hague as the main body designed to
prevent genocide. Israeli delegation sources denied this.
The court was currently studying complaints of genocide in five
countries, its chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, told the gathering. He
said one of the countries was Congo, but refused to reveal the other names.
Israeli delegates expressed satisfaction with the international
forum's outcome. The fact that there was no criticism of Israel at such a
large international gathering was unusual, Foreign Ministry official Nimrod
Ministry officials also praised the Swedes for not inviting prominent
pro-Palestinian speakers such as Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
Israel was especially pleased that Prof. Yehuda Bauer, the academic
adviser to the forum, and Dr. Yigael Carmon had been invited as genocide
A call by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to set up a special UN
supervisory mechanism to prevent genocide was not included in the final
resolution, which spoke in general terms of examining the various options to
prevent genocide, including the one raised by Annan.
Zimbabwe judge quits, goes into exile
By Staff Reporter
A TOP Zimbabwe judge whose judgements in favour of the Associated Newspapers
of Zimbabwe (ANZ) were ignored by the government has been driven into exile,
it has been learnt.
Justice Michael Majuru, the Judge President of the Administrative Court quit
the bench two weeks ago after the government threatened him with an
investigation following claims that he was biased towards the ANZ,
publishers of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Majuru had cited illness in his
resignation letter faxed from South Africa, but a relative of the judge who
spoke to newzimbabwe.com from America said the judge had been put under
undue pressure and feared his career could be wrecked by a pre-determined
"If you are a judge and your judgements are routinely ignored then you know
your services are unwanted and you are blocking someone's will in the
corridors of power. It was best for him to leave with his reputation
intact," said the relative who cannot be named.
Majuru follows in the footsteps of several senior judges who have left the
country, either after being forced out or being targeted by the government
with spurious claims of bias. These include former Chief Justice Anthony
Gubbay, Justice Fergus Blackie and Justice James Devittie. Most are now
serving on Australian and British immigration courts, assisting in the
handling of asylum claims.
Majuru's problems with the government began late October when he authorised
the then banned Daily News to publish after it had been denied a licence by
the government appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC).
Majuru found that the MIC was in fact improperly constituted and was
therefore, not in a position to refuse an application by The Daily News for
an operating licence after the Supreme Court had rejected to hear the paper'
s constitutional challenge on disputed media legislation.
He also ordered the MIC to approve ANZ's registration by 30 November last
year after ensuring it is properly reconstituted in line with the Access to
Information and the Protection of Privacy Act. The Act is being challenged
in the Supreme Court.
"We order that the applicant be issued with a certificate of registration by
the respondent," said the judge. "The Daily News appeal succeeds given the
findings of bias that we have made. This is a unanimous decision."
The paper's lawyers had argued that the head of the media commission,
Tafataona Mahoso, was biased against the paper, as reflected in his
statements to the media and the articles he wrote in a column in the
state-run Sunday Mail.
But a day after the ruling, the police raided The Daily News offices again,
with information minister dismissing the judge's ruling as "academic".
Following another Daily News appeal to the same court, the state-controlled
Herald newspaper came up with sensational claims that Justice Majuru had
been overheard saying he would again rule in favour of The Daily News,
forcing him to recuse himself from the case.
The case was then heard by another Administrative Court judge, Justice Selo
Nare who on 19 December again gave the Daily News the green light to
publish. He merely upheld Majuru's earlier ruling.
But information minister Jonathan Moyo railed against both Nare and Majuru,
calling their judgements "scandalous", "political" and "unacceptable". The
government again ignored Nare's judgement and the police kept The Daily News
Still in December, The Daily News petitioned the court again and Nare still
ruled in favour of the paper but received threats through a letter delivered
to his chambers. The letter accused him of bias "against our good
government" and of having been "bought to sell out our mother country."
It warned a ruling in favour of The Daily News "will result in serious
suffering by you personally and members of your family."
"Take this as a mere threat at your own peril," said the letter purporting
to be from a hitherto unknown group calling itself "War liberators and sons
and daughters of the soil."
Nare and Majuru are not the only judges who have suffered as the government
sought to undermine them. High Court Judge Benjamin Paradza was arrested in
chambers and detained in police cells on allegations of corruption. He
appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled that his arrest was
What if Mugabe was a white man?
January 29, 2004
I refer to your article "Tutu lambastes SA's stance on Zimbabwe",
which appeared in The Star on December 16.
Our government says it cannot put too much pressure on Mugabe because
Zimbabwe is a sovereign state. Tutu says apartheid South Africa too was a
sovereign state and where would we be today if other countries had chosen a
He also argues that "human rights are human rights and are of
universal validity. There are no peculiarly African human rights".
I don't know how many people fully grasp what Tutu is saying here, but
I hear silent messages in the background.
I hear him say that Mbeki would have acted differently if Mugabe was
I hear him say that when black Zimbabweans cross into South Africa,
they are hoping that we have already heard about their plight and expect us
to welcome them with open arms. Instead, we call them many ugly names. We
complain they are taking our jobs. On the streets, they live in constant
fear because our police round them up and dump them at the notorious Lindela
camp to be shipped back.
In contrast, their fellow white countrymen obtain citizenship within
days of arrival in this country. In fact, it is home from home for them.
A similar scenario involving black and white Mozambicans occurred in
the '80s. The whites were embraced. As for the black man, you can guess what
happened to him.
Truth is, you are much safer from police if your are a murderer than
if you are black and foreign. Police seem to turn a blind eye to crime.
Their main target on the streets is black foreign nationals.
turn, encourages violence against foreigners among the black
locals because we assume that if police can do it, it must be acceptable.
Can we imagine what it would have been like if countries like Angola,
Botswana, Ghana and Zimbabwe - just to mention a few - had agreed to deport
black South Africans into the jaws of BJ Vorster and PW Botha?
The reality is that Zimbabwe is in flames. As is typical of a house on
fire, you cannot successfully extinguish the fire if you are inside because
you will be overwhelmed by the fumes. You have to be on the outside, and
this is exactly where South Africa is.
When action was taken against Charles Taylor, I thought Africa had
come of age, but I was terribly wrong. When one remembers the Matebeleland
killings, one finds it increasingly difficult to understand why Mugabe's
case is different.
I hear we can learn a lot from him. I beg to differ. We must be
careful. We must not be perceived as protecting him.
Unfortunately, this is the widely held perception right now. We must
be seen to be helping to restore order and stability but, at the same time,
giving moral support to people on the ground.
We do not know who is going to call the shots in that country 10 years
from now. It could be someone we have dumped at Lindela.
The question is: how many Bin Ladens are we creating for ourselves?
Where would be without the sober mind of Tutu?
What's Wrong with Africa?
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
By Marian L. Tupy
Driving from the far reaches of Western Cape to Cape Town during a recent
holiday in South Africa, I switched on the car radio to listen to the news.
That morning, the news included only three items that did not concern
cricket or rugby. The stories, however, illuminated what I think are among
the most important problems facing Africa: misguided foreign policy,
corruption and disrespect for human rights.
According to the broadcast, the South African government "acknowledged"
Saddam Hussein's capture by American forces, but "ventured no opinion." The
announcement was a sample of the way the South Africa Broadcasting
Corporation would report on Saddam's detention for days to come. According
to the SABC, the Iraqi "president" refused to cooperate with his American
"captors" and so on.
There is legitimate disagreement among people in the United States and
elsewhere about the wisdom of expending America's blood and treasure in the
deserts of Iraq. Nonetheless, most people welcomed the demise of one of the
world's most bloodthirsty and corrupt dictators and, unlike many African
governments--including South Africa's--those people "ventured" an opinion.
So, why do some African countries pick meaningless fights with the United
States and engage in grandstanding on issues that win them no friends and
make many Americans question whether Africa is worth caring for?
The case of South Africa is illustrative. Over the past 10 years, relations
between South Africa and the United States cooled considerably. Nelson
Mandela, for example, claimed that President Bush "cannot think properly"
and "wants a holocaust." During his address to the Non-Aligned Movement in
2000, South African President Mbeki singled out the United States as a
country of increasing racism and xenophobia. During the U.N. Conference
Against Racism in Durban, the anti-American and anti-Israeli hysteria ran so
high that the United States pulled out. The list goes on.
South African anti-Americanism has deep roots in the ideological background
of the African National Congress, which President Mbeki heads. But it serves
no useful purpose today. The ANC should recognize that it no longer is a
Marxist revolutionary movement, but a governing party, which should act in
the best interest of South Africa. Making Americans mad is hardly the wisest
of policies, especially because President Mbeki's plan for African renewal
(NEPAD) depends, in large part, on American investment.
Concomitant with growing anti-Americanism is the increasingly
interventionist South African foreign policy. The ANC government has
recently made commitments to spend over 100 billion rands ($16 billion) on
upgrading the South African armed forces. Considering how poor most South
Africans are, that expenditure is a waste--especially when one considers
that South Africa faces no foreign threat.
Greater military spending is, however, essential for Mbeki's vision of
himself as the leader of Africa. Because the United States has (wisely)
decided to stay away from African conflicts, Mbeki assumes that it is his
responsibility to bring an end to African civil wars. But if U.S. taxpayers
are unwilling to pick up the tab for solving the perpetual conflicts in
Africa, why should South Africans do so? Has anyone asked them if they want
to pay for peacekeeping in Burundi and Congo? Let us hope that 20 years
from now we will not look at misguided foreign policy as a contribution to
South Africa's economic collapse.
The second item on the news show was the following bizarre story: A
policeman on patrol in Johannesburg noticed a fully loaded police car, which
he then followed into an industrial suburb. When the car stopped, he
approached it and was shot in the chest. The heroic policeman somehow
managed to return fire and killed his assailant. The assailant turned out to
be a high-ranking police officer who supplemented his income by stealing
sheep from surrounding farms and selling them in the city.
That story reminded me of the jubilation of Kenyans after the long rule of
Daniel Arap Moi --a corrupt dictator--which came to an end in 2002. As many
Kenyans remarked, their neighborhoods became much "safer" because policemen
were called back into their barracks. They weren't harassing the populace. A
year later, I participated in a conference in Mombasa, Kenya. One of the
participants came from Uganda. She told me how difficult it was for her to
get to the conference--policemen routinely stop travelers along the road and
demand bribes. They are, in effect, Africa's highwaymen.
Of course, corruption among Africa's officials is endemic. A reason why
Americans should be suspicious of President Bush's decision to spend $15
billion on fighting AIDS in Africa is ... corruption. Consider a South
African estimate that approximately 50 percent of all drugs delivered to the
country's government-run hospitals are stolen.
Politicians are the most corrupt members of African societies. Joseph Mobutu
of Zaire-- who changed his name to the more widely recognized Mobutu Sese
Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (which translates to "the earthy, the
peppery, all-powerful warrior who, by his endurance and will to win, goes
from contest to contest leaving fire in his wake") -- stole about $8
billion. Famously, he enlarged the airport in his hometown to accommodate
landings by Concordes-- which he leased from Air France-all the while his
people starved. Nigeria's Sani Abacha stashed away $4 billion. Zimbabwe's
Robert Mugabe just moved into a $6 million villa in Harare, even though 50
percent of his countrymen face famine. The list is inexhaustible.
According to the last item on the newscast, the Nigerian government declared
that it would arrest or "kill" anyone who tried to kidnap Charles Taylor.
Taylor, who resides in Nigeria, is the former strongman of Liberia and a man
responsible for much bloodshed in that country. He has also been indicted by
the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone, which accused him of "the greatest
responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious
violations of international humanitarian law" in Sierra Leone's 10-year
civil war. An international warrant for his arrest carries with it a $2
The Nigerian attitude epitomizes the way African leaders, even those who
commit gross abuses of human rights, continue to be gently treated. Take the
supposedly reformist government of Mwai Kibaki in Kenya. One of the first
things Kibaki did after coming to power was to declare that Daniel Arap Moi,
a corrupt dictator, who ruled Kenya for two decades, would be left alone.
Mengistu Haile Mariam, otherwise known as the "Butcher of Addis Ababa,"
lives happily in Zimbabwe under the protection of Robert Mugabe. Famously,
Idi Amin and Mobutu Sese Seko escaped, or were allowed to escape,
The exception to the rule is Frederick Chiluba of Zambia. Having replaced
Kenneth Kaunda by promising to stamp out corruption, Chiluba proceeded to
embezzle millions of dollars during his 10-year rule. As he famously
declared only two weeks after coming to power, "power is sweet." Chiluba
currently faces corruption charges in Lusaka. But, the case stands. African
leaders, treated with utter deference while in power, seldom have to answer
for their actions when they are out of power. That too has to change.
Marian L. Tupy is assistant director of the Project on Global Economic
Liberty at the Cato Institute.
ECB trapped by Zim tour muddle
By Ben Hunt
Published: January 28 2004 20:22 | Last Updated: January 28 2004 20:22
The England and Wales Cricket Board, like former UK
Robin Cook before it, is fast discovering that the introduction of an
ethical foreign policy is as likely to lead to a muddy quagmire as a field
We will not know for certain
until next month if England are to tour
Zimbabwe in November, but it seems almost inevitable that the ECB will
decline to play cricket in a country facing a humanitarian catastrophe
caused by its own government. But the ECB's arrival at the right conclusion
cannot mask the mistakes that have led it there and left English cricket
with its weak international standing further undermined.
There is no doubt that the ECB is unenviably caught between the rock
of government and public opinion and a hard place in the world cricket
community that insists that sport be divorced from politics. But its
difficulty has been exacerbated by its inability to navigate the narrow
water between the two.
The problem essentially lies with an agreement that ECB chairman David
Morgan made with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union last year following England's
refusal to play a World Cup fixture in Harare. Morgan persuaded ZCU
president Peter Chingoka not to retaliate by cancelling Zimbabwe's 2003 tour
of England, which would have left the ECB facing a financial black hole. He
assured his counterpart that, provided the situation did not change, the
reciprocal 2004 tour would not be cancelled on grounds other than security.
There is no reason to doubt that Morgan's intentions were anything
other than honourable, but few believed that the tour could proceed with
Mugabe still in power, and it was only a matter of time before the ECB began
to seek an escape route. Last week it appeared to have engineered that with
the proposal by ECB board member Des Wilson of a new framework for decisions
over tours that would include criteria such as human rights and government
The ECB board meets today to decide whether to accept that policy, and
had planned to follow it with a final decision on Zimbabwe. But faced with a
fierce international backlash that threatened a multi-million pound lawsuit
and the distant, but nonetheless real, possibility of reciprocal tour
postponements by other nations, it has postponed the decision until next
Belatedly, the ECB is now considering the full ramifications of the
decision facing it. The options with which it might extricate itself from
the hole it is in include making a compensation payment to Zimbabwe of $1m
(£555,000), moving the tour's fixtures to a third country or simply
How much better it would have been for England to have recognised the
impossibility of its position last year and taken the decision to postpone
all cricketing contact with Zimbabwe, rather than making an agreement it
must have known would be difficult to adhere to.
But having eschewed that opportunity, surely it would have been
preferable to negotiate a solution privately with the ZCU, rather than
presenting it with what is effectively a fait accompli. By bringing the
issue into the open the ECB has left Chingoka with a severely impaired
ability to reach a compromise.
The ECB must move on from this deeply damaging affair and rebuild its
international reputation. Yet it may find that doing so with the same
executive cast that has presided over the muddle of the past 12 months is
Nyambuya wants to grab my farm: Bennet
CHIMANIMANI Member of Parliament Roy Bennet
has accused Mike Nyambuya,
the newly appointed Governor of Manicaland, of spearheading a violent
campaign to remove him from his farm and to wipe out the opposition from the
The Daily News understands that Nyambuya declined to attend a Mutare
City Council all-stakeholders’ meeting last week in order to address senior
ZANU PF officials in Chimanimani.
Bennet, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), claims that it
was at this meeting, held at Chimanimani Hotel that Nyambuya told the senior
ruling party officials of his intention to remove Bennet from the province
and to deal decisively with all opposition members in the province.
“All hell broke loose on Thursday when Nyambuya called for a meeting
at Chimanimani Hotel. He openly told ZANU PF activists at that meeting that
he wanted to remove me violently and wanted me out of the province urgently.
“Nyambuya has been on a mission to use his military experience to
violently remove me from my farm and from the province. Early this month he
drove a group of war veterans, CIOs (State security agents), soldiers and
ARDA (Agricultural Rural Development Authority) workers onto my farm and
they are still camped there,” said Bennet.
Bennet said following Thursday’s meeting chaired by Nyambuya, a group
of 15 ZANU PF youths terrorised suspected MDC activists, who included David
Munengwa, the MDC district chairman for Chimanimani, Jasper Gabaza, Douglas
Gebe and Takesure Chironzo.
Property worth about $4 million was destroyed during the alleged
violent incidences and MDC members were harassed.
Nyambuya, a retired army lieutenant-general, would yesterday neither
deny nor confirm Bennet’s allegations.
“Bennet can continue saying whatever he wants and he can go on
dreaming. I won’t stop him from talking nonsense,” said Nyambuya.
Last year President Robert Mugabe challenged the Manicaland provincial
leadership to ensure that Bennet and another farmer, only identified as De
Klerk, were removed from the province.
Despite a High Court ruling last year barring the government from
taking over Bennet’s farm, several government officials and ruling party
supporters have either illegally camped or stayed on the farm.
Early this month, Nyambuya is alleged to have driven members of the
army and government supporters on a violent looting spree at Bennet’s
Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani.
According to Bennet, a mob of about 100 people which included senior
army officers and officials from the State-run ARDA, invaded his estate.
The group allegedly fired shots to intimidate farm workers before
Several workers had to be rushed to hospital after they were beaten up
by the soldiers and a farm worker is believed to have been shot in the
Bennet said the invaders claimed that they were acting on the
instructions of the new governor, retired Lieutenant-General Nyambuya.
“Zanu PF is using violence and intimidation because it is aware that
there is resistance on the part of Chimanimani people because the
constituency relies on my estate for a living and they have benefited so
much from the projects that I have initiated,” said Bennet.
Over 90 percent of prime commercial farms belonging to white farmers
have been acquired by the government since 2000, when Mugabe embarked on a
controversial and often violent land reform exercise, purportedly to
redistribute land among landless blacks.
Farming organisations have warned of serious famine next year
following the failure by most newly resettled farmers to plant enough crops
due to a crippling shortage of seed, fertiliser and other agricultural
ANZ case postponed
CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku yesterday said he would
provisional ruling in the next few days on the legal position of Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of The Daily News and The Daily
News on Sunday.
The chief justice made the order in chambers when he postponed to 18
February the case between ANZ and the Media and Information Commission (MIC)
and another case between the two parties which was set for Monday next week.
On Monday, the full Supreme Court bench, sitting as a constitutional
court, was supposed to make its determination as to whether or not the ANZ
was in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling of 11 September 2003.
ANZ lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu told The Daily News that if they filed
their papers concerning the company’s legal position by Friday, Chidyausiku
would any time thereafter deliver his ruling on the status of ANZ, which
will determine whether or not The Daily News and its sister paper should
continue publishing before 18 February.
“The Chief Justice ruled that the two appeals from the Administrative
Court be consolidated and put into one case,” he said.
“These consolidated cases will be heard on 18 February. What he did
not deal with is the restraining order which we expect to be delivered any
time after our submissions.”
Mahlangu said during their deliberations before Chidyausiku, MIC
lawyer Johannes Tomana indicated that the MIC was withdrawing its two
appeals pending before the High Court but he was still to receive the notice
of withdrawal from Tomana to be certain it had been withdrawn.
On Monday, the MIC wanted the appeals before the court consolidated
into one case, an order directing the registrar of the court to expedite the
hearing of the matter and an interdict stopping the publication of The Daily
News and The Daily News on Sunday.
But Chidyausiku denied the MIC appeal to bar the publication of the
ANZ challenged the constitutionality of some sections of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act in the Supreme Court.
But on 11 September 2003, the Supreme Court, sitting as a
constitutional court, ruled that it would not hear the matter because the
ANZ had approached the court with “dirty hands”.
Hungwe summons Masvingo mayor
MASVINGO – Masvingo provincial governor Josaya Hungwe on
summoned Masvingo’s executive mayor, Alois Chaimiti, and two other council
officials to his office to explain why they had hiked rates and tariffs in
The Masvingo City Council this year unveiled a $16 billion budget
which saw rates and tariffs going up by 400 percent.
Hungwe confirmed yesterday he had quizzed the city fathers after
receiving several complaints from residents over the new rates.
Said Hungwe: “I just wanted to know why they have increased these
tariffs because people have been approaching my office complaining that they
are no longer able to pay the money. They have to tell us how they came up
with these figures.”
Masvingo executive mayor Alois Chaimiti yesterday confirmed that
Hungwe had called him to his office over the issue of rates.
“We were called to the governor’s office to explain our budget and we
told him that because of the economic environment, that was the best we
could do,” said Chaimiti.
“We want to be able to continue providing good services to our
residents – that is why we increased the rates.”
The council, dominated by the opposition MDC has vowed not to bow down
to pressure from Hungwe arguing that the budget was done after consultations
A Masvingo councillor who spoke on condition he was not named said the
governor was imposing himself on the council.
“The governor just wants us to be dismissed by residents after failing
to provide them with services. According to the Urban Councils Act, the
governor has no powers to intervene,” he said.
Last week, a group of about 50 people took to the streets protesting
against the new rates.
Can Dialogue Save Zimbabwe or is Armed Struggle Inevitable?
interpret human rights to mean you must curb the power of
the state, which is the wrong view. You must curb the abuse of power by the
state.’ South Africa’s transport minister and former minister of justice
Dullah Omar made this comment in an interview this week. He is being
honoured with an award for his lifelong contribution to human rights.
This year South
Africa celebrates 10 years of democracy which will
culminate in festivities on 27 April, marking the date of the first
elections in which citizens of all skin colours could cast their vote.
Voters will also go to the polls to elect a president in the next few months
in the country’s third democratic elections.
South Africa’s transformation has been hailed as a
wide-spread fears, the country did not slide into anarchy. While blood was
shed, these incidents remained isolated and did not lead to full-scale civil
war. Internal and external pressures played their part, but essentially,
South Africa’s democracy grew out of a long series of negotiations.
Instruments were put in place to ensure that the power of the state could be
curbed and that human rights would forever be protected by the country’s
Circumstances today are different
than 14 years ago when then-state
President FW de Klerk un-banned the African National Congress, setting in
motion the transformation process. Internationally and regionally, no
country argued for the upholding of the apartheid regime. Thus it can’t be
argued that what worked in South Africa must necessarily work in Zimbabwe.
For one, there is no international consensus, particularly not among African
countries, on the need for a change in Zimbabwe’s leadership.
Where certain parallels between South
Africa and Zimbabwe can be
made – or, perhaps more appropriately, where Zimbabwe might be able to draw
from South Africa’s experience – is in the combination of particular
elements, specifically in the roles played by the armed struggle, the courts
and international pressure.
treason trial against the leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) has resumed in the Harare High Court and the MDC’s
legal challenge against the outcome of the presidential elections in 2002
remains in the courts. The case against three journalists of the Zimbabwe
Independent newspaper on criminal defamation charges may also be tried in
the coming months. Against the backdrop of all these legal battles, the call
for more protests and even for more violent measures to force a change of
government have frequently been made by civil society and ordinary citizens.
The MDC has always argued that its legal challenges are part of its strategy
to push for change within the legal framework of the country’s laws and
constitution. It is also a strategy the government has used: passing often
draconic laws in order to be able to strike against opposition voices while
maintaining that it is operating within the law.
Many in and outside Zimbabwe have argued that the ‘legal way’ is
futile given the manipulation of the courts by government. A case can be
made, however, for continuing on this path. Just as the apartheid government
used the laws and the courts to build its apartheid framework, some
opponents were able to strike blows against the system in the courts of law.
Others have further argued that armed struggle is inevitable, just as the
ANC and other liberation movements in South Africa at one point concluded
that the time for armed insurrection had come. This poses the question: is
there an alternative to violence?
of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa recently
tried to answer that question. Zimbabwe’s economy is crumbling, hunger is on
the rise and shortages of basic food items continue. Repression in this
context leads to despair and anger, Jenkins writes. In response to the
launching of the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, a new revolutionary group, he
quoted Paul Themba Nyathi of the MDC: ‘violence becomes an option when all
other avenues are closed.’
Jenkins relates this to apartheid South Africa and the
wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (‘spear of the nation’). ‘Umkhonto we Sizwe and the
African Resistance Movement emerged where all normal democratic discourse
was closed. It provoked much the same reaction among informed commentators
at the time: while repudiating the use of violence, and objecting to the
violence of the South African state, most warned that this would be the way
of the future if change did not occur.’
continues: ‘This is the implication of the MDC commentary, and has
been the frequent comment of many Zimbabwean civic leaders over the past
three years. In South Africa, the failure of the apartheid state to address
the legitimate demands of ordinary citizens and the thwarting of normal
peaceful action led to a long and violent process, and eventually to
mutually hurting stalemate...The push for dialogue was the final answer to
There have been assurances (and denials followed by
that dialogue is taking place in Zimbabwe, that negotiations could still
become a reality. However, given the continued repression of opposition
voices, the hope that these negotiations could not only take place but lead
to a peaceful transition is diminished. Jenkins argues: ‘While there should
be calls for all to repudiate violence, these should be allied explicitly to
demands that ‘open space’ is created. This means that normal democratic
activity and processes should be allowed by the Zimbabwean government. A
free press, the right to peaceful protest, demobilisation of militia forces
and an absolute end to partisan use of state resources are essential.’
Many commentators, analysts and politicians have
unconditional dialogue must take place. The court challenges and the calls
for increased protest action are not contradictory to this desire for
dialogue. Jenkins echoes the view held by those who want change in Zimbabwe
but hope for one that will occur with little or no bloodshed and one that
will bring lasting change. ‘An inclusive process of dialogue leading to
constitutional, electoral and economic reform, must be the final way
forward.’ This has been said before, but at the start of a new year, must be
said again. Without inclusive negotiations, Zimbabwe is likely to continue
to sink into the economic, political and social morass.
.. This column is provided by the International Bar
organisation that represents the Law Societies and Bar Associations around
the world, and works to uphold the rule of law. For further information,
visit the website www.ibanet.org