From The Daily News, 29 January (evening)
Mystery of bomb truck
The Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) in Harare yesterday described as "highly sensitive" the ownership record of the cream-coloured Mazda truck, registration number 336-518, seen before the bombing of The Daily News on Sunday morning. CVR officers, at the request of the newspaper, eagerly retrieved information on the car yesterday. But they quickly developed cold feet after perusing the document. This triggered a series of whispers and hurried, hushed meetings until a security officer, identified as Nduku, came out to the registry reception. He called the reporter to his office to say: "The issue is very sensitive. If it was something else, we would have assisted. Not on this one."
Questions on the vehicle had been put in writing at the registry's request. One officer quickly found the details which he passed on to Nduku. After about 15 minutes, Nduku apologised and confessed he lacked the guts to divulge the details. "If it was the police officer investigating the matter - and only him seeking that information - we would give it to him," said Nduku. The police refused to say anything new, preferring to stick to the standard: "We are investigating." Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango, the acting officer commanding Harare, referred questions to Wayne Bvudzijena at Police General Headquarters. "Premature disclosure will affect the investigations," said Bvudzijena. An officer in the law and order section said: "We don't have anything new." No arrests had been made by yesterday.
Sunday's bombing of the newspaper was the second in nine months. The first was on Saturday, 22 April 2000 when a powerful bomb, aimed at the newspaper's head office, destroyed an art gallery below the office of Geoffrey Nyarota, the Editor. Again, no arrests were made, except for an innocent South African journalist who was detained, harassed and later released when the charge became too wobbly to hold. Since then, the police, through Bvudzijena, have been reluctant to entertain questions related to that subject.
James Makwaza, a security guard at The Daily News printing factory in Lochnivar, Harare, said he saw the Mazda truck at about 1am before the press was bombed. The explosives went off between 1.30am and 1.45am, destroying the $100 million printing press. Stuart Mattinson, the chairman of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of The Daily News, said: "This cowardly act of destruction will not silence The Daily News. "If anything, it will stiffen the resolve of the staff at the paper and, indeed, every independent media organisation within Zimbabwe to ensure that every Zimbabwean has access to the truth," he said.
Comment from The Independent (UK), 30 January
Has Mugabe exploded the myth of press freedom?
When a bomb attack destroyed the presses of Zimbabwe's foremost independent paper, the finger of suspicion pointed straight to the top
An unpopular and authoritarian regime, led by an aged, semi-paranoid revolutionary, is fighting for its survival at Presidential elections due next year. There could not be a more certain recipe for an attack on the freedom of the press. And so it is proving in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. In the early hours of Sunday morning a bomb attack, clearly mounted by professionals, expertly and almost totally destroyed the printing presses of the Daily News, the most outspoken and widely read independent paper in the country.
Launched in early 1999, the News has surged ahead of the state-controlled Zimbabwe Herald. Circulation leapt 23 per cent as the President was defeated in the February 2000 referendum that would have further strengthened his constitutional powers, and overtook that of its rival as Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party (thanks to largescale intimidation and vote-rigging) narrowly retained its parliamentary majority in the general election four months later. This was not the first time the News has felt the wrath of Mr Mugabe and his henchmen - most notably Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, leader of the Zanu-PF "veterans," a lawless militia operating as Mr Mugabe's private army.
The Mugabe campaign to crush the independent press has two prongs. One is pseudo-legal: an array of planned measures including a registry of journalists, tougher libel laws and stiffer sanctions against papers that attract persistent complaints and a bill giving the government the power to read any citizen's e-mails - in other words to find out who in the country's small but influential wired community is propagating anti-Mugabe material. The justification is always the same, to protect "national security". In October the government shut down what would have been Zimbabwe's first independent radio station, Capital Radio, on precisely those grounds. "We will not allow it," Jonathan Moyo, the Information Minister said as the station was running merely test transmission of music.
The other prong is harassment, both verbal and physical, but invariably dressed up as defence of the national interest. Pressure on foreign media is mainly of the first kind. Journalists, especially from Britain and the United States, who criticised the occupations of white farms and the adventure in Congo are attacked as agents of a conspiracy by the former colonial power to deny Africans their rights. For the local press, however, the intimidation is often physical and brutal. Daily News reporters have been assaulted. During the election campaign Chengetai Zvauya of the Sunday Standard went to cover a speech by Mr Hunzvi, only to be dragged away and beaten for two hours by a gang of Zanu-PF "veterans". Two other Standard journalists, Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto, who in 1998 ran a story about a possible attempt at a coup by disaffected members of the army, were kidnapped and tortured for several days by government security agents and then told they would be killed if they spoke of their ordeal.
Mr Moyo has now ordered a probe into the Daily News bombing - but don't hold your breath. A few days before, Mr Moyo had been condemning the paper for its cynical and negative view of all things African, warning that it was "only a matter of time" before Zimbabweans acted to defend their "cultural interest and national security". Many will, therefore, be exceedingly doubtful of his promise to bring to account those responsible "in the interest of justice, democracy and the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression" - three virtues not commonly associated with Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
However, the country's independent press has not been cowed into silence. Mr Zvauya is back in action. So are Messrs Chavunduka and Choto, who have named their torturers. And yesterday the News was back on the streets. "It does not take a rocket scientist to speculate on the identity of the perpetrators of this dastardly and cowardly attack," wrote the News. Bombs or no bombs, criticism of the Mugabe regime will continue.
From The Daily News, 29 January (evening)
Liberators say bombing was barbaric
The Zimbabwe Liberators' Platform, a group of former freedom fighters opposed to Chenjerai Hunzvi's faction, yesterday condemned the bombing of The Daily News printing press as barbaric. Dzinashe Machingura, their spokesperson, said the bombing of the printing press should be seen as one of the desperate attempts to muzzle the country's small but vibrant independent media. He said it was surprising that the police "watched with glee and stood by idly as the war against The Daily News raged on". "The unfolding war against the independent press should be viewed against the background of scurrilous and inflammatory attacks on The Daily News by none other than the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President's Office, Professor Jonathan Moyo," he said.
Editorial from The Guardian (UK), 30 January
Bombs are mightier than presses, for now
Who will rid me of this turbulent press? If the thought was not expressed in Robert Mugabe's entourage, the Zimbabwe president's henchmen - who last week had besieged the offices of the Harare Daily News - picked the suggestion up somewhere close to the throne. In a carefully planned attack by experienced bombers, the paper's printing plant was wrecked early on Sunday.
The protocols through which newspaper-government relations are conducted in this country matter, but they pale before the picture we printed yesterday showing two Daily News editors standing in front of the wreck of their rotary press. For them freedom to report and comment in newspapers is not a vanity of writers, but a bolster and precondition of democracy. Freedom of public dissent, which the Daily News represented, is no affectation of affluence, but a means of securing the good and honest government on which, in turn, economic progress depends - however the ownership of land is distributed.
On the face of it the bombing of the Daily News is another instance of intimidation by Zanu-PF to maintain Mr Mugabe's position and its hold on power. Perhaps the death of Laurent Kabila made Zimbabwe's government even more fearful of awkward questions about its role in Congo and the regime's private interests, pointing its thugs to seek to silence a vehicle of public information. Our Zimbabwe correspondent quoted Trevor Ncube, the editor and publisher of another Harare paper, saying that the Mugabe government had explosive weapons, but in the end the pen would be mightier than the sword. For Zimbabwe the end may only be reached after further violence, economic degradation and tyranny. Zimbabwean journalists who do seek to speak truth to power can at least take comfort from knowing their pens - and rebuilt presses - will be needed to remake their country as a law-abiding, plural and prosperous state.
From The Star (SA), 29 January
Mbeki's DRC visit back on track
South African President Thabo Mbeki will visit new Congo President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa on Tuesday to explore options to revive a stalled peace plan, Mbeki's office said on Monday. "President Mbeki will fly to Kinshasa on Tuesday...on his way back from Davos to meet with Joseph Kabila," his office said in a statement. Officials had said on Saturday that Mbeki would visit the DRC on Tuesday and then, less than 12 hours later, announced that the visit had been postponed indefinitely. On Monday, however, the president's office said he would stop in Kinshasa on his way back from the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where he lifted the veil on Sunday on a home-grown Millennium African Programme to lift the continent out of poverty and conflict. Mbeki will be the first foreign leader not involved in the Congo's 30-month multi-national war to visit Kabila, who was inaugurated on Friday, replacing his father Laurent Kabila, who was assassinated by one of his own soldiers.
From allAfrica.com, 29 January
Kabila To Visit US
Washington, DC - Joseph Kabila, the new president of the DRC will make a two-day visit to the United States the Department of State said Monday. The official reason for the private visit is a national prayer breakfast to be held in Washington Thursday. That breakfast will be attended by president Bush, congressional leaders and other foreign dignitaries, including the president of Rwanda, which neighbours Congo. Rwanda has been backing the rebels that opposed Mr Kabila's assassinated father, Laurent Kabila. Joseph Kabila was appointed successor to his father.
Concern for the violently unravelling situation in the Congo hovers over Mr Kabila's visit and will lead to meetings with National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and other top White House and State Department officials who are concerned that the Congo's turmoil will lead to general instability throughout the region. The State Department press office refused to say whether Secretary of State Colin Powell would be meeting with Mr Kabila. Mr Kabila will travel to New York for meetings with the UN Security Council before returning home. It is not clear, however, whether the Congo president will meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who is in Europe but due back in the United States Friday. Rebels and the Congo government agreed to a cease-fire in 1999, but it has never been implemented.
Analysis: Zimbabwe's failed revolution MARTIN WALKER, UPI Chief International Correspondent WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- There are a number of tragic and intriguing features about tomorrow's scheduled departure for the United States of an African rock star. The first is that Thomas Mapfumo was the minstrel of Zimbabwe's revolution in 1980 with songs that celebrated the struggle against white rule, like "Fight of the People" and "Send Your Children To War." The songs were banned by Rhodesia's ruling white regime of Ian Smith, and Mapfumo was jailed in 1979. Mapfumo was finally hailed as a hero of the liberation by independent Zimbabwe's first elected African leader, Robert Mugabe. On the eve of his departure this week to join his family in the United States, a heartbroken Mapfumo declared: "Our revolution was in vain -- there is disaster in this country." The second striking feature of his departure is that Mapfumo's papers were in order. The U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe has begun rejecting 30 to 40 percent of applications for American visas because of the mounting number of forged passports and documents. Sophisticated forgery syndicates that charge up to $22,000 for a false passport are the immediate problem, but the underlying cause of the sudden flood of forgeries is the impending sense of disaster looming over the country. The third striking feature of Mapfumo's departure into voluntary exile is that -- against all the odds -- he will be able to take a copy of his favorite newspaper. The Daily News was back on the streets of the capital Harare today, barely 24 hours after its printing press was blown up by what police reports said was thought to be a military land mine. The emergency edition was down to 16 from the usual 32 pages, but its production was a remarkable -- and courageous -- achievement. The Daily News editorial accuses either the government of President Mugabe, or the "war veterans," former members of Mugabe's guerilla forces who now act as a paramilitary wing to carry out the dirty jobs for which the government would prefer to deny responsibility. "They say they are war veterans," commented Mapfumo, in an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph. "But many of them are about 20, and the war ended 20 years ago, they are just thugs, paid to do the government's dirty work." When white farmers are beaten and killed by "squatters" for objecting to the confiscation of their land -- with property rights guaranteed by the 1980 agreement which gave birth to Zimbabwe -- the war veterans are to be found helping the squatters. When students and others protest Mugabe's increasingly incompetent and dictatorial rule, war veterans beat them up in the name of "the people." When newspapers criticize, like the Daily News, they get blown up. And yet the war veterans are not to be found in the real war that Mugabe has decided to wage. Some 12,000 Zimbabwean troops are currently deployed in Congo, where Mugabe was one of the strongest supporters of the late and unlamented President Laurent Kabila. If Mugabe's word can be trusted, there may be another 1,400 Zimbabwean troops on the way to help shore up the shaky inheritance of Kabila's son -- and secure a return, whether in Congolese diamonds or mineral rights, on Zimbabwe's costly investment. The investment has not been costly in the lives of Zimbabwe's soldiers. But the Congolese adventure has proved to be the final straw that is breaking the back of Zimbabwe's economy. Costing at least $20 million a month, it now threatens Zimbabwe with bankruptcy. Inflation averaged 56 percent last year, and the International Monetary Fund warns it could reach over 150 percent by the end of this year. The official exchange rate is 55 Zimbabwe dollars to the U.S. dollar; the black market rate is almost double that. Mugabe's answer defies all the laws of economics. He has simply ordered interest rates to be cut far below inflation. Banks have been instructed to cut their lending rates to 40 percent, when inflation is raging above 60 percent. Devaluation and disaster both lie ahead. The auctions for tobacco -- the main export crop -- opens in April, and little will be sold unless the currency is devalued and the exchange rate fixed. Zimbabwe has already faced a serious threat of sanctions from the United States. After the violence and fraud deployed by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and the "war veterans" before last June's general election, Sen. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, drafted a sanctions bill which passed the Senate but ran out of time last year in the House of Representatives. It could be revived, but much will depend on the secretary of state Colin Powell, who has already declared Africa a personal priority. Potentially one of the richest and most hopeful countries in the continent, and now one of the worst led, Zimbabwe will be high on Powell's agenda because of its pivotal role in the unending Congo war. The first American secretary of state of African ancestry could get a useful insight into the Zimbabwe disaster from listening to "Disaster," the song Thomas Mapfumo wrote last summer, during the violence around the elections -- a song that was banned by the state broadcasting network. "It was a political message," said Mapfumo. "I wanted to say to the people that if they don't bring in change, they will not recover." -- Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.
By Stella Mapenzauswa
HARARE (Reuters) - The Zimbabwe Supreme Court declared null and void on Tuesday a decree banning challenges to last year's parliamentary election, which President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party won by a slim margin.
The ruling was a victory for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which will now be able to press ahead with its legal challenge to ZANU-PF's win.
In the decision, Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay said that Mugabe's Electoral Act of 2000 infringed on candidates' right to seek legal recourse when election results were disputed. ``It is declared that .... Notice 2000 SI 318 of 2000 is null and void,'' Gubbay said.
``(The applicants) have a civil right to challenge the result of an election which is claimed to have been tainted by corrupt and illegal practices. It is the existence of such civil rights that the applicants are seeking to have determined by the High Court,'' he added.
The MDC had asked the Supreme Court to overturn Mugabe's December decree that courts could not nullify the results of the June 2000 polls ``even if corrupt or illegal practices were committed.''
The decree had effectively invalidated the MDC's legal challenge in 39 of the 62 seats won by ZANU-PF on the grounds that the ruling party -- in power since independence from Britain in 1980 -- cheated and ran a violent campaign to ensure victory in the face of an unprecedented opposition challenge.
The government said the MDC was being used by external forces to destabilize the country by challenging ZANU-PF's election victory in some seats.
Decision Opens Way For Court Hearings
The Supreme Court decision opens the way for the High Court, which had postponed hearing the MDC appeals pending the Supreme Court ruling, to proceed with the case. The hearings are expected to run until May.
The MDC, led by former trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai, won an unprecedented 57 of the 120 parliamentary seats, while a smaller opposition party took one seat in the stiffest election since Mugabe came to power when Zimbabwe became independent from Britain in 1980.
The government said court-ordered recounts in three of the 39 constituencies challenged by the MDC -- which saw ZANU-PF candidates emerge with even bigger majorities than at the first count -- had proved the MDC was pursuing a ``frivolous and vexatious'' case.
Mugabe sparked controversy in October when he gave immunity from prosecution to all those who had been arrested for violence during the election campaign.
At least 31 people, mostly MDC supporters and five white farmers, were killed during the campaign violence, which was accompanied by the invasion of white-owned farms by independence war veterans.
|Mystery of bomb truck|
1/29/01 9:58:14 PM (GMT +2)
THE Central Vehicle
Registry (CVR) in Harare yesterday described as “highly sensitive” the ownership
record of the cream-coloured Mazda truck, registration number 336-518, seen
before the bombing of The Daily News on Sunday morning.
CVR officers, at the
request of the newspaper, eagerly retrieved information on the car yesterday.
But they quickly developed cold feet after perusing the document.
This triggered a series of whispers and hurried, hushed meetings until a security officer, identified
as Nduku, came out to the registry reception.
He called the reporter to his office to say: “The issue is very sensitive.
If it was something else, we would have assisted. Not on this one.”
Questions on the vehicle had been put in writing at the registry’s request. One officer quickly found the details which he passed on to Nduku.
After about 15 minutes, Nduku apologised and confessed he lacked the guts to divulge the details.
“If it was the police officer investigating the matter - and only him seeking that information - we would give it to him,” said Nduku.
The police refused to say anything new, preferring to stick to the standard: “We are investigating.”
Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango, the acting officer commanding
Harare, referred questions to Wayne Bvudzijena at Police General
Headquarters. “Premature disclosure will affect the investigations,” said Bvudzijena.
An officer in the law and order section said: “We don’t have anything new.”
No arrests had been made by yesterday.
Sunday’s bombing of the newspaper was the second in nine months.
The first was on Saturday, 22 April 2000 when a powerful bomb, aimed at the newspaper’s head office, destroyed an art gallery below the office of Geoffrey Nyarota, the Editor.
Again, no arrests were made, except for an innocent South African journalist who was detained, harassed and later released when the charge became to wobbly to hold.
Since then, the police, through Bvudzijena, have been reluctant to entertain questions related to that subject.
James Makwaza, a security guard at The Daily News printing factory in
Lochnivar, Harare, said he saw the Mazda truck at about 1am before the press was bombed.
The explosives went off between 1.30am and 1.45am, destroying the $100
million printing press.
Stuart Mattinson, the chairman of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe,
publishers of The Daily News, said: “This cowardly act of
destruction will not silence The Daily News.
“If anything, it will stiffen the resolve of the staff at the paper and, indeed, every independent media organisation within Zimbabwe to ensure that every Zimbabwean has access to the truth,” he said.
Zimbabwe's Supreme Court has overturned an amendment to the electoral law passed by President Mugabe in December.
This clears the way for the opposition to challenge some of the results of last year's general elections.
The court said the modification of the electoral law to prevent any legal challenge to last June's election results contravened the constitution.The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says it will now press ahead with its efforts to have the results declared null and void in 38 constituencies - two-thirds of the total won by the ruling party.
The MDC argues that the violence which preceded voting in June rendered the poll unfair.
The general elections in June were the bloodiest in Zimbabwe's 20 years of independence.
More than 30 people were killed and an estimated 13,000 fled their homes, the vast majority of them opposition supporters.
The violence will form the basis of the legal challenge to the results in the 38 constituencies identified by the MDC.
Had it won just three of those it seeks to challenge, the opposition would have gained a majority of the elected seats in parliament.
So far, there has been no word from the government on the court decision.
But ministers are not unwilling to fight new by-elections, as the ruling party has won both seats which have been contested since last year's general elections.
In each case, violence and intimidation were a feature of the campaigns. Zimbabwe can expect more of the same if the courts order fresh elections.
BBC: Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 02:24 GMT
Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi, leader of Zimbabwe's war veterans, is being sued by a traditional healer who claims that he has not paid her fees.
Sarudzai Isaya told a court that Chenjerai Hunzvi had asked her to give him charms, so that President Mugabe "could love him" and appoint him a cabinet minister.
The 36 year-old traditional healer, or ng'anga, also claims to have used her mystical powers to help Mr Hunzvi obtain bail 2 years ago, when he was in prison on charges of fraud.
Isaya went to court claiming that Hunzvi never paid her $6,000 fee they had agreed.
The war veterans' leader denies ever requesting any services from the ng'anga and says she's trying to extort money from him.
However, he did admit that she had once sprinkled water at his house and performed a ceremony which he says he did not understand.
Mr Hunzvi has complained to the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association about Ms Isaya, which has expelled her for charging exorbitant fees.
Last year, there was widespread speculation that Mr Hunzvi would be named Minister for War Veterans but despite playing a crucial role in Zanu-PF's election victory, he was not appointed to cabinet.
Isaya claims that Hunzvi gave her a grinding mill as part of the fee, but Mr Hunzvi says that he only gave it to her for safe-keeping.
According to local newspaper reports, he told the court that when he asked for his grinding mill back, she threatened to send hares, fish and baboons to bewitch him.
Mr Hunzvi even issued a challenge to the ng'anga, saying that if she was the one who had got him released from prison, she should send him back.
Hitler Hunzvi is a man who is rarely out of the news.
Last year, he spearheaded the violent invasion of white-owned farms in support of President Mugabe's policy of land reform.
Elected to Parliament last year, he is currently waiting for judgement to be given on charges that he defrauded a state fund of the equivalent of US$40,000.
Last week, he led demonstrations against The Daily News which was bombed over the week-end.
With judgement still to be handed down in his fraud case, Mr Hunzvi jail challenge to Ms Isaya seems to be the statement of a man supremely confident of his innocence.
Unless he no longer believes in her powers, after he was left out of government
BBC: Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 11:14 GMT
Reports from Zimbabwe say the former president, Canaan Banana, has been released from prison after serving one year for sexual assault and sodomy.
The official Herald newspaper said Mr Banana left the Chikurubi maximum security prison yesterday.
He'd been receiving medical treatment for the past month.
Mr Banana was sentenced to ten years in prison, nine of which were suspended.
Last year, the Supreme Court overturned Mr Banana's appeal against his conviction after a highly publicised trial in which one of his former aides, Jefta Dube, said he was forced into a homosexual relationship with the president in the mid-1980s.
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service
CNN: (January 29, 2001), - [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Recent intimidation of Zimbabwe's top judges coupled with government's growing tendency to ignore their rulings spells disaster for the country, observers told IRIN on Monday. "The judiciary is being battered into becoming a compliant arm of the executive," Douglas Mwonzora of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), an umbrella organisation campaigning for constitutional change, told IRIN.
After issuing verdicts in favour of white commercial farmers, the judiciary has incurred the wrath of the government and so-called "war veterans" who want judges out of office for alleged racism. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said the judiciary has placed itself on a collision course with other arms of government and earned itself the "notoriety that it constitutes the main opposition to the ruling party." Following a series of verdicts last year against the government's controversial land reforms, the judiciary has come under persistent fire and even threats of physical harm from war veterans who have told them to resign or be forced out of office.
Composed of two white judges, two black judges and one Indian judge, the Supreme Court has been accused of racism and bias. The accusations over the past year have degenerated into anger, leading to war veterans invading and disrupting a Supreme Court session and issuing threats of violence to the judges if they do not resign. "We must begin to exorcise from all our institutions the racist ghost of (former Rhodesian leader) Ian Smith and we do so by phasing out his disciples and sympathisers," said the justice minister.
But the Supreme Court judges have not taken the barrage of criticism lying down. They've hit back at government saying that it is breaking its own laws. "It's absurd that the government is now crying foul over its own laws. It is parliament itself, dominated by ZANU-PF, that made the laws regarding the procedure for land acquisition. Yet the same government is not following its laws in acquiring land," said Mwonzora. Observers say that the government's "fast-track" land acquisition programme is illegal because it does not supply farmers with sufficient notice, the right to appeal or compensation as laid down in the 1995 act.
The country's top courts have ruled against the current land-grab on three occasions, but there has been no let-up in the occupation of white-owned commercial farms. "We've only broken one teeny-tiny law and that's the law of trespass," presidential spokesman George Charamba told IRIN. He added that: "We're not going to let that law get in the way of us fulfilling our historical destiny as Zimbabweans." But a top Harare attorney said that the government has not only broken its own laws, but was clearly acting in breach of the constitution. "Section 16 of the constitution guarantees property rights, these are being violated in Zimbabwe every day by government-sanctioned land invaders," he said.
The relationship between the judiciary and President Robert Mugabe's government deteriorated further on 18 January when a cabinet minister accused the country's most senior judge of "kangaroo" justice after he censured another judge regarded as a key Mugabe appointee. Jonathan Moyo, the minister of information, launched a vitriolic attack on supreme court Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, one of the most highly regarded judges in the Commonwealth. Moyo said Gubbay's rebuke on Wednesday to the head of the high court, Judge-President Godfrey Chidyausiku, "smacks of a kangaroo type of reprimand".
A week earlier Chidyausiku stunned lawyers when he accused British-born Gubbay of "promising" white farmers that "victory in the courts was assured" for them in their battle against the government. Delivering the formal speech to open the new high-court session, Chidyausiku also attacked the Supreme Court because, in November, it overturned his own judgment setting aside an earlier Supreme Court ruling against state-organised land seizures. Chidyausiku also accused other judges of obstructing Mugabe's political campaign to hinder the president's "revolutionary land programme".
Then, in an unprecedented move, Gubbay hit back, saying Chidyausiku had made "an astonishing and quite unwarranted attack" on him and the other judges who had delivered judgments against the government on the land issue. He pointed out that in each case, the government's own lawyers had agreed with attorneys for white farmers that "their position was legally indefensible".
Last week the constant pressure on judges began to tell. On Monday they met the government to discuss how it can protect them from threats from the war veterans. Two of the country's five Supreme Court judges - Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay and Justice Wilson Sandura - met Vice President Simon Muzenda to see if the executive could persuade the war veterans to stop intimidating them. "We heard their case and we'll be working to protect the judges," said Charmaba. But he added that the war veterans were not part of government and that he could not offer any gaurantees of safety to members of the judiciary.
With the executive and judiciary at loggerheads, eyebrows are being raised abroad. Last week, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Dato' Param Cumaraswamy, expressed grave concern over threats to the independence of the judiciary. "The deterioration in the rule of law and the undermining of the independence of the judiciary is a matter of grave concern to the international community," Cumaraswamy said. He drew the Zimbabwean government's attention to Principle 2 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary which obliges the judiciary to decide matters before them impartially.
Some observers say that the government is now choosing to disregard any land that it disagrees with. "The Supreme Court recently upheld the eviction of 25 families from a farm in Mashonaland, but the government told them to stay on," Mwonzora said. "I had a labour dispute, some workers were lawfully dismissed, but the Ministry of Labour then intervened and ordered them to be reinstated," a top attorney said. According to Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), this wholesale disregard for the law by the executive is undermining the very fabric of society. "Zimbabwe is headed for chaos and the law of the jungle unless the independence of the judiciary can be rapidly re-asserted," LHR's spokesman Tawana Hondoro said.
Copyright 2001 UN Integrated Regional Information Network. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
HARARE (Jan. 30) XINHUA - At least 74,000 people in Chilombedzi communal lands of Masvingo in southern Zimbabwe are facing starvation after their crops failed to germinate because of a severe drought, The Herald reported on Tuesday.
Because of lack of rains, another 100,000 people are facing starvation in Chiredzi, Mwenezi and Bikita, the report said.
About 35,000 hectares of planted maize, mainly in Mpapa, Malipati, Gezani and Matibi failed to germinate after it only rained once since the onset of the rains.
Having suffered from the adverse effects of excess water caused by Cyclone Eline early last year, the families now have a completely different situation and have to cope with a drought that is also threatening to wipe out their livestock.
Cyclone Eline-induced floods left the villagers without food after destroying the crops early last year. The families were expecting to recover this year, hoping that they would get good rains.
Some villagers are also going to neighboring Mozambique in search of food, although that country seems to be facing similar problems.
HARARE, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's Daily News accused the government on Monday of conspiracy in the bombing of its printing press 24 hours earlier and vowed to carry on publishing.
Zimbabwe media and human rights groups also called on the government to guarantee the safety of journalists after the attack on the Daily News which wrecked the press.
The privately owned newspaper, which has often criticised President Robert Mugabe's government, appeared later than usual with an apology for the unusually slim edition.
"As a result of the bombing of the Daily News press early yesterday, we are only able to produce a 16-page newspaper today," editor Geoff Nyarota said in a front page notice.
"Arrangements are under way to ensure that the frequency of publication and size of the newspaper are maintained at normal levels."
An editorial accused the government of conspiracy in the bombing. "There are neither foreigners nor criminal elements involved," it said without naming any suspects.
"What cannot be denied is that the government, in seeming to stand idly by while the saboteurs hatched and carried out their evil plot, is being branded as a co-conspirator."
The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) condemned the bomb attack, saying it was getting increasingly difficult for journalists to work in the country.
"There is no doubt that the bombing of the Daily News printing press was a calculated attempt to silence the newspaper," chapter chairman Tim Nyahunzvi said in a statement.
The Daily News has published wide-ranging allegations of corruption and mismanagement by Mugabe's 20-year-old government, since its appearance in 1999 ended a government monopoly over daily newspapers in Zimbabwe.
No one was injured in Sunday's bombing.
It followed the brief arrest on Friday of three senior Daily News journalists and a threat by Chenjerai Hunzvi, the self-styled leader of Zimbabwe's independence-war veterans, that his pro-Mugabe followers would "ban" the newspaper.
Muchadeyi Masunda, chief executive of Associated Newspapers Zimbabwe which publishes the Daily News, vowed at the weekend that the newspaper would carry on.
"This is all part of this concerted effort that is being made to discourage us from publishing the Daily News, but that will not deter us," he told Reuters.
In a statement read on state radio, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association also condemned the bombing and any suggestions its members were involved.
"This was the work of Rhodesians (Zimbabwe's former white rulers). They are trying to divide the people of Zimbabwe and to incite public violence. They must be punished for this," it said.
Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo, who has recently criticised the Daily News, said the attack threatened freedom of expression.
A bomb destroyed a gallery adjacent to the Daily News editorial offices last June after officials criticised its coverage of politically linked violence in Zimbabwe before parliamentary elections. No arrests were made.
|Resilience has always been our middle name|
1/31/01 7:47:02 AM (GMT +2)
BREAD is back on the
tables of many households. Walking to the bus stop last week, I saw first half,
then a full loaf.
It made me heave a mighty
sigh of relief. That indomitable spirit, this thing called resilience had saved
the day again.
For the first few days after the price rise, all I met were long faces, returning from the tuckshop empty-handed. Then I saw a boy with half a loaf.
The next day, he had a full loaf and was not walking lugubriously, his shoulders slumped the way George Foreman slumped when he lost The Rumble in the Jungle.
He was buoyant, bubbling, leaping up and down like a gazelle, Rudolph Nureyev after his defection from the then Soviet Union.
How do they manage it?
They always have these ingenious methods of stretching the dollar until you begin to believe it has a life of its own, independent of the manipulative talents of the Governor of the Reserve Bank or the Minister of Finance.
But when I met the same boy last Monday, he didn't smile, even though he now struggled with two loaves. His shoulders were slumped again.
"So, are you going to leave the country too? Are you going to America, then?" He spoke with quiet maturity - he is nine going on 10 now - without even the customary greeting.
"No . . . why would I do that?"
"Look, I know what they did to your printing press. Next time, you may not be so lucky. You must leave the country, the way many other young people are doing . . . ." Then he paused.
"Perhaps you are not so young, huh?" I nodded dumbly. "But I would like to leave this country when I grow up." He looked thoroughly agitated now. "Can you imagine living in the same country, breathing the same air, with people like Chenjerai Hunzvi and Joseph Chinotimba? Or their grandchildren? I'd prefer Greenland . . . Timbucktoo or Outer Mongolia."
"What do you know about those two gentlemen?" I asked, as we stood studying the mouth-watering bread.
"I see them on television. They can't even spell."
We laughed and I left for the bus, wondering why some people wrote ingenious instead of ingenuous, or pathetic instead of apathetic. But leave instead of live?
There is something peculiarly "Hunzvi and Chinotimba" about that, like some jokes are vintage Laurel and Hardy.
The resilience of the people is not something fictitious, or something to be mouthed only on soapboxes by tired, old men on the verge of losing their marbles. It is real.
This government, for instance, has thrown everything at the ordinary person insults, inflation, low wages, lousy prices, expired drugs, war veterans, exhausted politicians and incredibly boring TV programmes.
And bombs at newspapers.
Yet most people have survived. They have survived Zanu PF - well, after a fashion. Foreigners have not always appreciated how resilient the Zimbabwean spirit can be. In the early days of the struggle, when many political leaders had fled to Zambia - Mozambique was still a Portuguese colony then -there was The Curse of the Chicken in the Basket.
The nationalists loved to lunch at the then most fashionable hotel in Lusaka, The Ridgeway, and tuck into loads of chicken in the basket.
The Zambians were furious. They were independent, but they couldn't afford chickens in the basket, not even the "egg a day" which their president, Kenneth Kaunda, had promised them.
But showing their customary resilience, the Zimbabwean leaders soon got over their love for the good life and started shooting at each other in the streets of Lusaka. Again, the Zambians were confused: what was wrong with their aim? The target was not in Lusaka, but in Salisbury, Bulawayo anywhere else, but not in Zambia.
Eventually, they set their sights on the right target, long after Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland had achieved their independence from the British.
It took 15 years and the assassination of Herbert Chitepo, Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, Nikita Mangena and Josiah Tongogara to achieve independence.
The man eventually left in charge is Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who is today the patron of one faction of the war veterans' movement.
I doubt that Margaret Dongo, a pioneer of the movement, is still a member of that faction.
Wearing the mantle of the Chitepos, the Tongogaras and the Moyos is Chenjerai Hunzvi.
Those heroes must be turning in their graves every night.
Unwittingly, he too is testing the resilience of the people. Will they give him enough rope to hang himself, or will they leave it to Mother Nature or Father Time to take care of business?
As to the bombing of the press last Sunday morning, it seemed to be the logical culmination of a week in which everything, including the kitchen sink and the broken down cistern, was thrown at the newspaper - by the government and the war veterans.
My own intelligence, much more resourceful than the CIO, gathered whispers on the grapevine of celebrations an hour after the bombs had gone off. Who was celebrating?
I was given one guess.
I always think back to the early days of the struggle, at these troubled times.
Struggling against colonialism was not exactly a walk in the park, but compared with struggling against your own black government, born after the death of 50 000, can be like waging thermonuclear warfare with a catapult.
There is a morbid comparison which has always fascinated me. It's like one's daughter being raped by a stranger, and another by your own blood relative.
You can deal with the stranger without any philosophical or moral compunction. With your blood relative . . . where do you start?
Rega ndirambe ndinyerere (Let me just keep quiet) is a line from an Oliver Mtukudzi song on child abuse by adult relatives. The hope of many is that this Zimbabwean girl who has been abused by her own relatives for so long will not keep quiet any more. She will bite and scratch until she draws blood. Which is the resilience I am talking about.
|Whodunnit? A question for political sleuths|
1/31/01 7:45:04 AM (GMT +2)
THE chronology of events
leading up to the bombing of the printing press of The Daily News last Sunday
morning features vicious attacks on the newspaper by the war veterans and
Professor Jonathan Moyo.
In language that eerily
seemed to have been rehearsed at the same venue (Shake Shake House perhaps?),
they both warned of the imminent demise of the newspaper.
Yesterday, the war veterans denied they had any part in the bombing. The government, for its part, has condemned the bombing, as have many other people, all of them genuinely outraged that the level of intolerance in our country has now reached this literally explosive level.
Of course, it is very difficult not to relate the virulent attacks on this newspaper by both the war veterans and Moyo to the bomb explosions at the printing press. To suggest that foreign agents or garden variety criminals took advantage of this outpouring of vitriol against the paper to carry out their own nefarious, but seemingly profitless plot, is to stretch things a little.
Let's look at the war veterans, for a start: they staged two noisy demonstrations outside Trustee House, where the editorial offices of the newspaper are located. During one of them they threw stones which broke a number of windows. They also beat up a member of the staff, without provocation of any sort.
The purpose of both demonstrations was quite clear: to strike fear in the hearts of everyone working at the newspaper, to make them tremble.
Then there was the Press conference, during which it was announced that the paper would be "banned". The hostility towards the newspaper suggested that its very existence was under threat.
Moyo did his bit to let the world know that his government was so fed up with the newspaper, it was time for it to be dealt with, once and for all.
People can be forgiven for believing that what Moyo meant was that the government had a plan to "neutralise" the newspaper.
Then in the early hours of Sunday morning, four powerful explosions ripped the tranquillity of the areas around Lochinvar, Southerton, Lincoln Green and Belvedere. By all accounts, this was not an amateur job, put together by the same ragtag group which had demonstrated outside Trustee House.
No. This was an A-Team assignment. Nothing was left to chance. There had been meticulous planning and the plot was executed with the meticulous attention to detail that only trained professionals can bring to their work.
Any suggestion that nothing was co-ordinated - that it was all coincidental, or a result of happenstance - is a little hard to swallow. We are not suggesting here that the war veterans and Moyo sat down in some dark corner in Munhumutapa Building and carefully worked out a plot to blow up the printing press.
What is very difficult to believe is their sincerity when they express "regret" at the blowing-up of the press. We will not speak of crocodile tears, but it might be a good idea for such people to be more careful with their statements, lest they give the impression they believe only they have a monopoly on wisdom.
The investigations into the explosions are now in progress and we sincerely hope that the police are sparing no effort in trying to establish who hates the work of the newspaper so deeply that they are prepared to blow its printing press to smithereens to make sure it ceases to exist.
Of course, we are sceptical of the political capacity of the police to conduct a thorough investigation.
It has to be remembered that the attacks on this newspaper - both physical and verbal - have been political. In other words, the decisions to launch such attacks have had a political element and that can only mean that even the police, who have recently been accused of political bias in their operations, are going to view their investigations in that light.
In practical terms, this boils down to a case which may not be probed as diligently or enthusiastically as one which has no political element at all. The decision to arrest the culprits, assuming they are actually identified, may have to be taken at the highest political level.
Most people must know that what this means is that our country is no longer run by a government committed to the rule of law. This lawlessness is no longer confined to a defiance of the Judiciary. It is definitely the beginning of the end of all the freedom we thought we won in 1980.