June 30, 2009
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says the mainstream MDC that he
leads will not pull out of the government of national unity with President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
But the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said his party would not
be obliged to remain in the coalition government if its partners were not
willing to abide by the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement
"At this moment, there is no thinking in MDC to pull out of the agreement,"
Tsvangirai told a news conference in Harare Tuesday afternoon.
He was briefing journalists following his three week long tour of Europe and
America where he raised $US500 million to be channeled towards humanitarian
assistance through local Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Although falling far short of the US$8, 3 billion required by the new unity
government to repair the bartered economy, he maintained his trip was a
Tsvangirai said, "There is no pulling out of the agreement. That is why we
have to follow-up on our letter to SADC so that they can come and talk over
".There is no reason to fear that the government will collapse or that the
MDC will pull out of the agreement."
The MDC has written to SADC asking the brokers of the GPA to arbitrate on
so-called sticking issues to the agreement.
Tsvangirai said he met President Mugabe Monday and put it to him that the
failure to fulfill some pledges in the GPA was "the underlying complaint
wherever I went".
He was referring to the stance by Western governments that have refused to
disburse crucial financial assistance to Zimbabwe while insisting on broader
political and economic reforms by the Mugabe led government.
MDC MPs, led by the party's deputy President Thokozani Khupe walked out of a
cabinet meeting Monday chaired by President Mugabe.
The walk out, the first act of defiance by the MDC against Mugabe since the
formation of the unity government, evoked fears the shaky coalition
government between the former rivals could be headed for collapse.
The MDC ministers were protesting the Zimbabwean leader's resolve to break
tradition by calling forward a meeting which should be held every Tuesday.
They saw this as a ploy by President Mugabe to avoid the prospect of Prime
Minister Tsvangirai, who is the deputy chair of cabinet, chairing cabinet
during his absence.
Mugabe is now in Libya to attend an African Union summit.
Tsvangirai was adamant he remained deputy chair of cabinet and would chair
such meeting in the absence of the incumbent, President Mugabe.
During Monday's pull out, the MDC said it reserved its right to "disengage
from the unity government".
"This means there is no one tied up to the agreement for ever and ever and
ever," said Tsvangirai, "There is always an opportunity for divorce."
Tsvangirai said he supported the stance by ministers from his party to
boycott the cabinet meeting.
"What the ministers acted on yesterday (Monday) was an expression of
frustration and I understand how they are frustrated with the delay in the
implementation of these issues.
".I endorse the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Khupe, that the greatest
challenge Zimbabwe faces is one of old attitudes that refuse the new order.
"The residual elements in our midst must decide whether or not they are
going to honour the commitments they made or they are going to continue to
attempt to impede the progress of our nation."
Tsvangirai also said he understood the concerns expressed by the
international community which is channeling its aid through Non Governmental
He said, although the funds will be co-managed by government and civic
bodies, the credibility of the central government in handling public funds
was long dented by the previous government
China has stepped in to bail out Zimbabwe with a £600 million loan, despite
fears the coalition government is in danger of collapse.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Published: 6:32PM BST 30 Jun 2009
Beijing has long been accused of ignoring human rights concerns in its
dealings with African governments, and is a longstanding ally of the
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.
The credit line was secured by Tendai Biti, the finance minister of the
unity government and one of the most senior members of the former opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
It is several times more than the total pledged to Morgan Tsvangirai, the
prime minister and MDC leader, on a three-week fundraising tour of Europe
and America he has just completed.
The West is holding back on promises of huge amounts of reconstruction aid
until the coalition proves that it is able to implement change from the
policies of Mr Mugabe, which ruined the country.
"The international community is ready and willing to help Zimbabwe, but they
need us to help ourselves by standing by the political commitments we have
undertaken," said Mr Tsvangirai, sitting under a portrait of Mr Mugabe.
However, the unity government is coming under pressure from continued abuses
by Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Mr Tsvangirai said that while the MDC would not withdraw from the unity
government "divorce" could not be ruled out if "outstanding" political
issues were not quickly resolved.
He described an MDC boycott of a cabinet meeting as "frustration" at
"peaceful protesters being beaten by our police, innocent individuals
arrested on trumped up charges and continued vilification of the MDC by the
Such issues would have to be resolved within days of Mr Mugabe's return from
Libya, where he is attending an African Union summit, he added.
By Alex Bell
30 June 2009
The unity government has this week been urged to initiate moves to
compensate tens of thousands of farm workers, who have lost their jobs as a
direct result of Robert Mugabe's 'land reform' scheme.
The visiting Netherlands President of the Trade Union Confederation, Agnes
Jongerius, told reporters at the end of a five-day trip to Zimbabwe that
thousands of former farm workers had been left struggling to survive as a
result of the land-grab. The Trade Union Confederation chief and a
delegation were in Zimbabwe since last week, assessing trade union and
workers rights. Her visit was also meant to assess the political and socio
economic conditions of workers and see if they were consistent with
internationally recognised standards.
During her visit, she met workers from both the formal and informal sectors,
NGOs, and some workers who lost their jobs for various reasons. She
described to reporters the 'horrible' cases of unemployed former farm
workers camping by the roadside and 'in needless suffering.'
"The land reform programme which took place in the name of addressing the
historical injustices, has made hundreds of thousands of farm workers
unemployed and homeless," Jongerius said.
She added: "Farm invasions have intensified since the inclusive government
was formed and thousands of workers lost their income and have no roofs
above their heads."
"The land audit, which is mentioned in the GPA, has not yet started,"
Jongerius continued. "The compensations, which should be paid to former
workers of expropriated farms, have not been paid."
The plight of Zimbabwe's farm workers has been largely overlooked, as the
campaign to remove the remaining commercial farmers from their land
continues. Hundreds of farm workers have lost their jobs this year alone,
adding to the already staggering unemployment rate of 94%.
BRITAIN has no legal or moral obligation to compensate white farmers for
land seized by the Zimbabwe government, the former colonial power's outgoing
ambassador has said.
Evicted white commercial farmers' "requirement for compensation from the
Zimbabwean government is probably the right legal process," says Andrew
Pocock, but "whether it has any practical impact is another matter."
Winding down his three-year posting to Zimbabwe dominated by allegations of
meddlesome diplomacy by President Robert Mugabe's government, Pocock used an
interview with SW Radio Africa to revive a decade-long debate around
Zimbabwe's controversial land reforms which played a massive part in a chill
of diplomatic relations between Harare and London.
He said: "In the fairly recent past, the Zimbabwean government has said that
compensation rests with the United Kingdom. Well it does not - either
legally or morally.
"In Lancaster House, sovereignty was transferred to the Zimbabwean
government. The disruption on the farms was not caused by anything to do
with the United Kingdom, it was driven by Zimbabwean government policy .
therefore we have no legal obligation for compensation. We've never accepted
that, and we won't."
Pocock's comments are a direct rejection of the position of the Zimbabwe
government - chiefly that Britain agreed to fund land reform at the 1979
Lancaster House talks where the white minority rulers agreed a cessation of
hostilities and a surrender of sovereignty.
At Lancaster, Britain agreed to fund land reform on a 'willing buyer,
willing seller principle', where farmers who were unwilling to stay in
Zimbabwe would be bought out by funds provided by the British through the
Under the agreement, the new Zimbabwean government could not seize
European-owned land for the first ten years of independence. Britain
provided £44 million to the government for land resettlement projects.
In the same interview, Pocock appeared to shift slightly when he alluded to
Britain's "obligations", while insisting that his country did not have
"unlimited liability" to compensate farmers.
He said: "During the period of the 1980s, the UK spent £44 million on land
reform which was a substantial sum at the time. We did it on a willing
seller, willing buyer basis as had been agreed and we only stopped funds for
land when it was clear that land was not being passed to the poor and the
"That is not reneging, that is simply pointing to the evidence and it's also
resisting the proposition that has crept in that the UK somehow has
unlimited liability forever and a duty to fund land reform in Zimbabwe. The
Lancaster House never said anything like that.
"What Lancaster House said and what we undertook then was (a) to do
everything we could to help with land reform (b) to contribute substantially
ourselves and (c) to seek support from others in the international
community. Now, we did all that, so this is really again another urban or
rural myth that we need at some early stage to lay to rest."
In a now infamous letter to the Zimbabwe government in 1997, Britain's
former International Development Secretary Claire Short said she did not
accept that "Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land
purchase in Zimbabwe".
"We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links to former
colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were
colonised not colonisers . It follows from this that a programme of rapid
land acquisition as you now seem to envisage would be impossible for us to
support," Short said in the letter now seen as a turning point in relations
between the two countries.
Three years after Short's letter, white farmers were under siege from
independence war veterans and President Mugabe's supporters who marched on
their properties, triggering an outpouring of international condemnation
which would lead to Zimbabwe's international isolation until recently when
Western countries agreed to government-to-government talks following the
formation of a unity government.
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), representing 400 white land owners,
recently demanded US$15 billion compensation from the cash-strapped Zimbabwe
government for farm "improvements, damages and interest".
The CFU says most of the country's remaining white commercial farmers are no
longer interested in farming and will give up their land if the government
gives them fair compensation.
According to the CFU, Zimbabwe expropriated 11,600 out of the 12,000
white-owned commercial farms since 2000.
Pocock said there may be a moment in the future when Britain could assist in
the settlement of the land dispute but warned that such an arrangement would
not be on the "old paternalistic basis".
He said: "I hope as we move into the future, as we reach a situation where
the restoration of commercial agriculture is possible, it won't be on the
old paternalistic basis, it will be on some new foundation but when we reach
that point, as part of the natural justice, as part of building confidence
for future investors, some element of compensation for people
unconstitutionally displaced might be considered.
"I think we haven't got anywhere near the mechanisms and we certainly
haven't decided who would pay for that compensation or indeed how much it
would be but I think in natural justice, some form of address to this should
be considered and I hope in due course will."
Britain recently named Mark Canning as its new ambassador to Zimbabwe to
replace Pocock who is set to accept a new diplomatic assignment.
It’s cool and dry in Zimbabwe at the moment, but when the rainy season
ensues, and the weather turns hot, the threat of a massive cholera epidemic
looms large again. This footage, and the images included in this post, clearly
show that unhygenic conditions persist. ZimOnline, in an
article titled ‘Zim
at risk of more deadly cholera outbreak’, noted that health
professionals are still very concerned about the health risk facing Zimbabweans,
“chiefly because underlying causes remained unattended to“: Zimbabwe remains at risk of a fresh and more deadly outbreak of cholera once
the next rainy season starts in about five months time, health experts have
said, adding that the infectious disease had become endemic in a country where
sewer and water facilities broke down years ago. International relief agencies and local health officials who coordinated
efforts to combat a cholera outbreak that began last August and was only brought
under control several weeks ago, said the disease could probably not be
completely eradicated in the near future chiefly because underlying causes
remained unattended to. “We are afraid that we will have a resurfacing of cholera once the first
rains start,” UNICEF communications officer Tsitsi Singizi told ZimOnline in an
interview. “Water supplies are still erratic in areas such as Budiriro and Glen View
(Harare suburbs), which were the epicentres of the cholera outbreak. Sewage is
still flowing in and the government must repair infrastructure and correct the
water supply,” said Singizi. The still images in this post were taken in Makokoba, one of Bulawayo’s
oldest high density areas. Bulawayo was the province least affected by the
cholera epidemic, reporting a total of 445 cases to date (Harare reported 19,550
cases and Mashonaland West was the worst affected with 22,753 cases).
Nevertheless, conditions in Makokoba are dire. Even though Bulawayo was less affected by the epidemic than other regions,
the health conditions in Makokoba are horrific. It is a densely populated area
with many of blocks of flats built creating the type of environment where
disease can rapidly spread. The latest report from the World Health Organisation (7-13 June
2009) on the cholera crisis in Zimbabwe quantifies the crisis since the cholera
epidemic started in August 2008: Since August 2008
Rubbish left uncollected alongside a road in Makokoba, a high density residential area
Rubbish left uncollected alongside the road in Makokoba
Backed up sewage system pushes sewer contents to the toilet surface
Children playing near overflowing sewage
Makokoba is a densely populated area.
It’s cool and dry in Zimbabwe at the moment, but when the rainy season ensues, and the weather turns hot, the threat of a massive cholera epidemic looms large again. This footage, and the images included in this post, clearly show that unhygenic conditions persist.
ZimOnline, in an article titled ‘Zim at risk of more deadly cholera outbreak’, noted that health professionals are still very concerned about the health risk facing Zimbabweans, “chiefly because underlying causes remained unattended to“:
Zimbabwe remains at risk of a fresh and more deadly outbreak of cholera once the next rainy season starts in about five months time, health experts have said, adding that the infectious disease had become endemic in a country where sewer and water facilities broke down years ago.
International relief agencies and local health officials who coordinated efforts to combat a cholera outbreak that began last August and was only brought under control several weeks ago, said the disease could probably not be completely eradicated in the near future chiefly because underlying causes remained unattended to.
“We are afraid that we will have a resurfacing of cholera once the first rains start,” UNICEF communications officer Tsitsi Singizi told ZimOnline in an interview.
“Water supplies are still erratic in areas such as Budiriro and Glen View (Harare suburbs), which were the epicentres of the cholera outbreak. Sewage is still flowing in and the government must repair infrastructure and correct the water supply,” said Singizi.
The still images in this post were taken in Makokoba, one of Bulawayo’s
oldest high density areas. Bulawayo was the province least affected by the
cholera epidemic, reporting a total of 445 cases to date (Harare reported 19,550
cases and Mashonaland West was the worst affected with 22,753 cases).
Nevertheless, conditions in Makokoba are dire.
Even though Bulawayo was less affected by the epidemic than other regions, the health conditions in Makokoba are horrific. It is a densely populated area with many of blocks of flats built creating the type of environment where disease can rapidly spread.
The latest report from the World Health Organisation (7-13 June 2009) on the cholera crisis in Zimbabwe quantifies the crisis since the cholera epidemic started in August 2008:
Since August 2008
By Lance Guma
29 June 2009
Five MP's from the Mutambara MDC are due to appear before a disciplinary
committee this weekend, Newsreel has been told. Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi
South), Norman Mpofu (Bulilima East) and Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East) were
suspended from the party several months ago on charges of campaigning for
the main wing of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Two other MP's, Thandeko
Mkandla (Gwanda North) and Maxwell Dube (Tsholotsho South), were not
suspended as reported by other news organisations, but have been asked to
attend the disciplinary hearings to answer similar but different charges.
The hearings were initially meant to start on Saturday 27th June but were
later postponed because of various reasons, including the ongoing
constitutional hearings around the country. Newsreel was not able to confirm
whether suspended party officials like former St Mary's MP Job Sikhala,
national chairman for the Youth Assembly Gift Nyandoro and commercial farmer
Alex Goosen would attend the hearings. Sikhala has hinted in the past that
the suspension was a blessing in disguise as he believed the party had lost
direction under the leadership of Arthur Mutambara. Nyandoro meanwhile
claimed he quit the party a year ago and thought the suspension was an
'April Fools joke.'
Nkayi South MP Bhebhe refused to give Newsreel an interview, saying he would
only do so after the hearing. He however said, "Let those who think I am
wrong dream on." Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme reports that
there is a lot of disharmony within the camp. He told us the suspended MP's
have already engaged the services of a lawyer who will challenge the
procedure followed in dealing with their cases. The MP's we are told will
argue that there are no 'complainants' in the matters raised, and that the
top leadership is seeking to impose their wishes on the supporters. They
will argue that only the branch, ward, district or province can refer a
matter to the National Executive, which has not happened in their case.
Newsreel received copies of the suspension letters issued to the MP's and
all of them accuse the MP's of campaigning for the main wing of the MDC led
by Morgan Tsvangirai. Bhebhe, for example, is facing a total of 6 charges
while the other MP's face 3 to 4 different charges. One of the legislators
confirmed to us that the Mutambara MDC top leadership was heavily divided
over the suspensions. Party president Mutambara and his deputy Gibson
Sibanda are opposed to the disciplinary action, while Secretary General
Welshman Ncube, his deputy Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga and
treasurer-general Fletcher Dulini Ncube are in favour.
30 June 2009
Statement by the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, The Right Honourable Morgan
Tsvangirai, Upon His Return to Zimbabwe from Europe and The United States,
Harare, 30 June, 2009
Members of the Diplomatic Corp, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Three weeks ago, I undertook my inaugural international visit as Prime
Minister of Zimbabwe, visiting the United States, Scandinavia and Europe
This visit was initiated by my office as part of the implementation of the
100 Day Plan and the commitments Government made at the Victoria Falls
Ministerial retreat, where it was agreed that we need to reengage the
international community at a political and economic level.
The visit was an essential step in the process of repositioning Zimbabwe in
the family of nations and redefining our national foreign policy agenda. The
primary purpose of the visit was to begin Zimbabwe's re-engagement with key
international donors whose support of the people of Zimbabwe goes back many
In this respect, the visit was an overwhelming success. Every one of the
countries I visited expressed their unequivocal support for the direction
our country is taking, for our democratisation agenda and for the people of
Zimbabwe. In addition, in Brussels I launched the formal re-engagement
process with the European Union as outlined in the Cotonou Agreement.
The response from the EU was immediate and encouraging. The EU committed
itself to availing us with transitional and humanitarian support to the tune
of more than US$150 million. They also pledged more support which will be
guided by the way in which we meet our own political commitments as outline
in the GPA.
As a nation, we should be humbled by the number of friends we have
internationally and for their desire to work with us to rebuild our country.
As part of the re-engagement process, I discussed with the leaders I met,
the opportunities that Zimbabwe has and the obstacles that we still face to
realise those opportunities. In this regard, I also raised the issue of the
transitional support that we require to move towards delivering the
freedoms, services and society that Zimbabweans demand and deserve.
In this respect as well, the trip was a success. In every country I visited,
each leader that I met expressed their desire and ability to help us during
this transitional phase.
The pledges we received, for both humanitarian and transitional assistance
totalling almost US$500 million. My office is in the process of finalising
the amounts pledged and their allocations and details will be released in
due course. At this point, I would also like to state that in our drive to
rebuild Zimbabwe, we are not limited to a "look west" or "look east" policy,
but rather we are committed to engaging our friends in all parts of the
While I was away, Government, through Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, also
secured lines of credit from China totalling US$950 million. Ladies and
Gentlemen, the amount of assistance that was raised on my visit to Europe
and the United States does not reflect the enormous support we will be able
to utilise if we are to fulfil all our political obligations.
In every country, each leader I met expressed reservations about the delays
in the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement. They asked,
why, after almost five months, had fundamental obligations undertaken by the
respective political parties not been implemented?
Both in Europe and the United States, leaders stated that they had concerns
about the success of the new, transitional political dispensation as the
Government has not yet been fully constituted due to the outstanding issues.
These issues are not foreign benchmarks imposed from outside Zimbabwe, but
are our own conditions that we committed ourselves to meeting when we signed
the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
As such, the concerns of the international community are legitimate and the
three political parties as the signatories to the GPA, and particularly the
leaders of those parties, must take responsibility for the failure to
implement fully the obligations we have signed up to.
As a nation, if we want outside assistance, we must first prove that we are
able to fulfil the obligations we have undertaken within the agreement that
was brokered by SADC.
In this regard, we will be judged by what we do and not by what we say.
Actions speak louder than words and while I was away there were instances of
peaceful protestors being beaten by our police, innocent individuals
arrested on trumped up charges and continued vilification of the MDC by the
state media. What do these actions say about our commitment to building a
Ladies and Gentlemen, those parties and individuals that are blocking the
full implementation of the GPA are blocking national progress and
The outstanding issues that must be resolved, and resolved immediately, are
a matter of record and were articulated clearly yesterday by Deputy Prime
The Ministers from my party disengaged from the Cabinet meeting held
yesterday. I understand their frustrations and concerns. It is the same
frustration expressed by Zimbabweans in general and the international
community that we wish to reengage with as a nation. These frustrations
emanate from the slow pace of the implementation of the GPA.
As a principal in the inclusive Government, I have taken it upon myself to
engage my two partners, President Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister
Mutambara, to address these issues and bring finality to the formation of
the inclusive Government. This engagement includes the referral to SADC of
some of the outstanding issues.
I endorse the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Khupe, that the greatest
challenge Zimbabwe faces is one of old attitudes that refuse to accept the
new order. We all have a responsibility as Zimbabweans in general, and the
three political parties in particular, to simply implement what we agreed.
Zimbabweans do not want a half-implemented agreement that brings with it
more disappointment than hope and more frustration than progress. My party
is committed to the GPA and committed to taking our country forward, with
the support of our people.
Those residual elements in our midst must decide whether or not they are
going to honour the commitments they made or whether they are going to
continue to attempt to obstruct and impede the progress of our nation.
It must be understood by all today, that any individual, or group of
individuals, who are standing in the way of progress in the implementation
of the GPA, are also standing in the way of Zimbabwe's rebirth and
reengagement with the family of nations at a political and economic level,
including the removal of any restrictive measures..
Those who are serious about fulfilling these commitments will work to
immediately resolve the outstanding issues in a matter of days, not weeks.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my recent trip confirmed that the international
community is ready and willing to help Zimbabwe, but they need us to help
ourselves by standing by the political commitments we have undertaken. The
time for talking about our commitments is now past and we must implement
those obligations for the betterment of our nation.
The MDC expects, and the people deserve, only true partners in progress who
are prepared to put the best interests of our nation above all other
considerations. As Prime Minister, I am committed to Zimbabwe's
re-engagement. I am committed to rebuilding our nation and I call upon all
patriotic Zimbabweans to join me on this irreversible journey to a new
people-driven constitution and free and fair elections.
I thank you.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
29 June 2009
Nearly a dozen Zimbabwean human rights groups are urging the country's unity
government to enact legislation that would make torture an unpardonable
They are also urging the government to include language in the new
constitution that would ensure perpetrators of torture could be brought to
book without political protection.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
and other organizations said the so-called inclusive government comprising
the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the long-ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front should subscribe to the
United Nations charter against torture.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association National Director Okay Machisa told
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such a
constitutional provision combined with enabling legislation are needed as
some in the judiciary are politically influenced.
HARARE, June 30 2009 - The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
has criticised the Kariba Draft, which is being pushed forward as the basis
for a new constitution by ZANU PF, indicating that it is based on the
Constitutional Commission Proposal, a document that has already been
rejected by the people of Zimbabwe.
The organisation indicated that the view is reflected in the Zimbabwe
People's Charter, which calls for a "people-driven, participatory" process
of constitutional reform spearheaded by an inclusive All Stakeholders
"The Kariba Draft should be rejected because it is based on the
Constitutional Commission Proposal, a document that has already been
rejected by the people of Zimbabwe. Moreover, as described below, the ways
in which the Kariba Draft differs from the Constitutional Commission
Proposal generally reflect compromises of democratic principles of
governance and further divergence from the will of the people.
ZLHR pointed out that the content and structure of the Kariba Draft
are closely tied to the content and structure of the Constitutional
"Over half of the articles in the two documents are identical, and
most of the changes that have been made are extremely minor. Therefore,
nearly all of the weaknesses that led to the rejection of the Constitutional
Commission Proposal are replicated in the Kariba Draft. Despite the broad
similarity of the two documents, a number of major changes to the
Constitutional Commission proposal were made by the framers of the Kariba
"In many cases, these changes involve the replacement of a provision
of the Constitutional Commission Proposal with one from the current
Constitution. In some places, changes have been made which clarify or
strengthen provisions in the Constitutional Commission Proposal. However,
there are many places where changes have been made which weaken the Draft,"
The organisation saoid extremely worrying are many small changes that
appear to be insignificant but may open the door for political manipulation
of government structures.
"For example, the Kariba Draft makes the removal of a member of
Parliament automatic after he or she is absent from 21 consecutive sittings,
whereas the Constitutional Commission Proposal makes removal contingent on a
vote of the Senate or House of Assembly. This change appears inexplicable,
but given Zimbabwe's history of violence and intimidation in the political
arena, it is possible to imagine that the change was crafted to allow the
expulsion of opposition politicians after they have been arrested or forced
into hiding. Many seemingly minor changes reflected in the Kariba Draft
raise similar questions about the intent of the drafters," said ZLHR.
Under the Kariba Draft, all executive authority rests in the
President, who "takes precedence over all other persons in Zimbabwe," and
Alternatively, the Constitutional Commission Proposal suggests that
the President share executive authority with a Prime Minister. ZLHR
indicated that although the Prime Minister's role under the Constitutional
Commission Proposal is relatively weak, the complete absence of this office
in the Kariba Draft removes a vital check on the power of the President.
Under the current Constitution, the President enjoys expansive,
unchecked powers that can be used for political advantage. These powers are
not diminished under the Kariba Draft.
The Draft allows the President to unilaterally declare a state of
public emergency and suspend human rights protections. Even if Parliament
fails to approve such a Declaration, the President may cause the state of
emergency to remain in effect for up to 21 days.
"The Kariba Draft also maintains the President's ability to grant
pardons or reprieves to those convicted of criminal offences. It eliminates
many of the checks on presidential power that were included in the
Constitutional Commission Proposal. For example, the Kariba Draft removes
the need to consult with another office or gain Senate approval when
carrying out many executive functions.
"Moreover, the Draft adds a section from the current Constitution
which limits the ability of courts to inquire into the manner in which
Executive powers are exercised. In addition to these deficiencies, the
Kariba Draft allows the President to unilaterally appoint many public
officers and provides for the structural dominance of the other branches of
government by the President," said the organisation.
The Kariba Draft has been noted to retain the current Constitution's
framework for presidential appointments.
The lawyers organisation indicated that appointments are most often
made after "consultation" with some other individual or body. In most cases,
that person or body is also appointed by the President, whereas the
Constitutional Commission requires the Senate to approve most presidential
appointees, the Kariba Draft contains very few limits on the President's
power to appoint individuals of his choice.
ZLHR noted that the Draft also eliminates checks on the President's
power to appoint by eliminating the office of Prime Minister and that for
these reasons, very few public institutions would operate independently
under the Kariba Draft.
"In addition to presidential appointments to the legislature and
judiciary under the Kariba Draft, no individual or body has the authority to
block a President'sappointment to the following offices or bodies:
Vice-Presidents, Ministers, Cabinet members, Diplomats, ambassadors and
"principal representatives of Zimbabwe abroad", Judicial Service
Commission1, Attorney-General and Deputy Attorney-General, Chairperson of
the Public Service Commission, Permanent Secretaries, Commander of the
Defence Forces and commanders of particular services of the, Defence Forces,
Defence Forces Service Commission, Commissioner-General of Police, Police
Service Commission, Commissioner of Prisons, Prison Service Commission,
Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Chairperson of the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission," said
It also noted that under the Kariba Draft, the Legislature is
dominated by the Executive, whereas the Constitutional Commission Proposal
suggests a Senate comprised of 60 elected members, the Kariba Draft
replicates the current structure of the Senate, with its presidential
"This provides an almost insurmountable senatorial majority for the
President's party. The Kariba Draft, like the Constitutional Commission
Proposal, permits the President to dissolve Parliament at any time, allowing
him to override proposed legislation that he opposes and perhaps escape
impeachment. He may also unilaterally extend a term of Parliament during
times of war.34 Moreover, the Draft makes it very difficult for Parliament
to pass a vote of no confidence".
ZLHR noted that the Draft removes the subsection in the Constitutional
Commission Proposal that specifies that if a President fails to comply with
the requirements of a vote of no confidence he must resign, allowing a
President to simply ignore such an action.
The Kariba Draft is also accused of departing from the Constitutional
Commission Proposal in a number of significant ways that do not directly
touch upon executive power.
"For example, the Draft envisions a National Assembly composed
entirely of members elected by a single constituency. This eliminates the
Constitutional Commission Proposal's establishment of 50 seats for members
elected under a system of proportional representation, a provision which may
have helped minority groups in Zimbabwe gain parliamentary representation'.
Additionally, the Kariba Draft makes it easier to alter some
provisions of the Constitution, noted ZLHR.
"Many of the departures from the Constitutional Commission Proposal in
the chapter on Parliament seem inexplicable, except that they may be
evidence of efforts by politicians to open the door for manipulation of the
legislative system for political gains".
Lawyers have noted that the Kariba Draft, like the current
Constitution and the Constitutional Commission Proposal, fails to ensure the
independence of the Judiciary.
"Whereas the Constitutional Commission Proposal requires Senate
approval of the President's judicial appointments, the Kariba Draft only
requires that the President select an appointee from a list provided by the
presidentially-appointed Judicial Service Commission or gain approval of his
own choice from that group".
"The President closely controls the procedure for removing judges from
office. The President may initiate an inquiry into a particular judge and
personally appoint a three-member tribunal to consider his or her removal.
The Kariba Draft in many places adds to the provisions on the Judiciary
contained in the current Constitution and the Constitutional Commission
Proposal. In some instances, the changes give the President or a
presidential appointee additional control over the structure of the
judiciary," ZLHR said.
The organisation noted that the Kariba Draft, the current Constitution
and the Constitutional Commission Proposal establish frameworks for
elections which are very similar.
"Where the Kariba Draft differs from the other two documents, it is
usually for the purpose of filling in procedural details rather then making
significant substantive changes.42 What all three constitutions have in
common is the establishment of an electoral commission that is
insufficiently independent. Each one gives the President ultimate authority
in selecting commission members.
"Whereas the Constitutional Commission Proposal requires approval of
appointments by the Senate, the current Constitution and the Kariba Draft
only require insignificant "consultation" with the presidentially-appointed
Judicial Service Commission and the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders,
or in some cases, appointment from a list provided by the former group".
It indicated that the Kariba Draft maintains the structure and most of
the content of the Constitutional Commission Proposal in regard to the
protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.
"Therefore the weaknesses of that proposal are replicated in the
Kariba Draft. Specifically, the Kariba Draft fails to protect many vital
rights, such as the freedom of the media and the right of workers to strike.
"Moreover, social and economic rights such as the right to housing,
education and health are dealt with in a "National Objectives" section that
is merely "directory in nature," meaning that compliance is not mandatory.
The Kariba Draft strengthens a few of the rights contained in the
Constitutional Commission Proposal. For example, pregnant women are added to
the classes of persons protected from unfair discrimination. However, most
of these changes are relatively minor and just as often the Kariba Draft
weakens rights protections by including additional exceptions or
limitations," said the organisation.
Of particular significance, ZLHR said, is the Kariba Draft's
word-for-word incorporation of the sections in the current Constitution that
deal with the right to property.
"This portion of the current Constitution has been scarred by numerous
amendments and fails to protect anything except the state's unchecked
ability to acquire and distribute land. The complete reproduction of this
text demonstrates that the Kariba Draft is a hastily negotiated document
that reflects narrow political considerations rather than a rigorous
analysis of rights protections or consideration of the will of the people.
"The Kariba Draft provides for the establishment of provincial
councils and local authorities. The functions assigned to these bodies,
though very limited, are greater than those provided in the current
Constitution or the Constitutional Commission Proposal. However, these
powers are not guaranteed and can be taken away by the central government at
any time. Provincial and local bodies may be manipulated by the central
government, which, through an Act of Parliament determines their
composition. Furthermore, Provincial Governors, who chair provincial
councils, are presidential appointees," said ZLHR.
The lawyers body noted that the Kariba Draft opens the door for the
establishment of a bloated, inefficient government and that compared with
the Constitutional Commission Proposal, all three branches of government are
"The Constitutional Commission Proposal contains a clause limiting to
20 the number of Ministers that the President can appoint. This clause is
dropped in the Kariba Draft, allowing the President to appoint as many
Ministers as he chooses and create a Cabinet of any size.
"Both the Senate and National Assembly have more members than are
provided for in the Constitutional Commission Proposal. The Kariba Draft
provides more detail than the Constitutional Commission Proposal on the
composition of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, but unlike that
proposal allows the President to appoint as many judges as he likes to the
High Court," said ZLHR.
By Violet Gonda
30 June 2009
The quest for a new constitution has begun in Zimbabwe and many exiles are
demanding that they be allowed to make a contribution to the formulation of
the constitution. It is understood that the Diaspora population is around
four million - a figure that now exceeds the population of some of the
provinces in Zimbabwe. It is because of this that groups like the Zimbabwe
Exiles Forum (ZEF) has started a campaign to ensure that the voices of those
abroad are reflected, especially on issues regarding dual citizenship and
While the former ZANU PF government encouraged the Diaspora community to
send much needed money home through the 'Homelink Money Transfer' system,
the regime didn't set up facilities to allow the exiled community to vote.
ZEF Executive Director Gabriel Shumba said any constitution outcome will not
be legitimate, if there is no Diaspora contribution, as a third of the
Zimbabwean population would have been neglected. Shumba was speaking after
a 'Diaspora Constitutional Symposium' held in South Africa at the weekend.
Scores of Zimbabweans and organisations attended and it was resolved that
they are an indispensable player in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe. The ZEF
pressure group organised the conference, which was graced by the Minister of
Constitutional Affairs Eric Matinenga, labour leaders and other
According to the ZEF, Minister Matinenga acknowledged the importance of
those who live outside the country in the constitution making process.
Shumba said resolutions formulated at the end of the one day symposium
included the setting up of a Diaspora representative structure to engage
with the Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution and the
Minister; the setting up of a website to put forward ideas regarding
expectations; and emailing submissions to the Parliamentary Select
Pressure groups like the National Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions insist the formulation of the new constitution must
be people driven and the weekend forum also called for extensive civic
education on the proposed new constitution. Delegates said a new
constitution should decentralise the powers of the Executive, ensure there
is an independent judiciary, a free media and a truth and justice
Shumba said what was key for the stakeholders was the issue of dual
citizenship, as many in the exiled community want to continue to work abroad
but still remain Zimbabwean and able to contribute to the political process
back home. Currently Zimbabweans also lose their rights to vote if they
stay outside their constituency for two years and the feeling among the
participants was that the Diaspora should be allowed to cast their votes in
general elections from outside the country.
Currently there is no consensus on the issue of using the Kariba Draft
Constitution, crafted by the political parties in 2007, as a reference
point. In this document there is no provision for dual citizenship. Legal
experts like NCA Chairman Dr Lovemore Madhuku have described the Kariba
Draft as a dangerous document that should not be used as a basis for any new
Shumba also said this draft does not recognise the Diaspora vote and
entrenches too many powers in the President. He said: "Any new constitution
that comes out as a product of the Kariba Draft will be rejected. The Draft
was created by three political parties to the exclusion of civil society,
church groups and other interested groups."
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum plans to hold similar symposiums in
Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and possibly the United Kingdom.
Monday 29 June 2009
29 JUNE 2009
For a long time the MDC has made issue of the unequivocal lack of paradigm
shift on the part of ZANU PF as an actor in the Transitional government. For
a long time we have remained the polite and subservient Upholders of the GPA
against clear evidence of the absence of a reliable & honest partner.
At the epicenter of our disappointment has been the unwillingness of ZANU PF
to timeously resolve the unfinished issues of the inclusive government under
the GPA. In particular, despite five months of endless meetings amongst the
Principals, the central issues of the Reserve Bank Governor, the Attorney
General, the Provincial Governors, the swearing in of Roy Bennett and the
appointment of ambassadors remain unresolved as such the inclusive
government is yet to be fully constituted.
These issues continue to affect the health of the GPA. They are structural
issues that are at the root of the GPA. Any breach of the same and any
failure to resolve the same is fundamental. Part of the problem lies in the
fact that ZANU PF has not woken up to the reality of the MDC as an equal
partner in the agreement following the March 29 result. More importantly
they have not accepted that in the constitution, the GPA, Mr Mugabe and
President Tsvangirai are placed on par, and that the former cannot do
anything without the latter.
Further evidence of the lack of a paradigm shift, is the deliberate refusal
to convene the National Security council. The National Security Council
became law in February 2009 and demands that the Security council meets once
every month. Four months later, it has not met simply because a few elite
securocrats do not recognise the authority of the new order.
The lack of recognition of the fundamental principle of equality has given
rise to a persistent and corrosive culture of unilateralism. That
unilateralism includes unlawful redefinition of the mandate of ministries,
executive appointments and a pervasive reproduction of a business-of-the old
order mentality. The same unilateralism is being reflected in the nascent
constitution making process where suddenly and contrary to the provisions of
the GPA, the Kariba draft constitution is now being sought to be imposed
lock stoke and barrel on the people of Zimbabwe.
Over and above this we have protested at the persistent abuse of the rule of
law, the cynical disrespect of the countrys' laws and flagrant insensitivity
to the multiplier effect of all acts of lawlessness. We remain concerned
about the persistent victimization, arrest and violence against our MPs,
activists, civil society members, and members of staff. We have remained
abhorred by the continuous incidents of farm invasions and virile
prosecution of farmers. We have remained abhorred at the selective
application of the rule of law. Equally of concern is our disenchantment at
the continued frustration of the democratisation agenda by ZANU PF. Media
reforms remain aborted whilst state media, in particular the Herald and ZBC
continue to churn out vitriol and propaganda. Equally, there is no movement
on key legislation on fundamental issues such as the promotion of freedom of
speech, assembly and expression.
This morning, we were advised that Cabinet had been shifted from its
mandated day of Tuesday to Monday at 10am. Innocent and innocuous as this
decision may be, the fact of the matter is that it underpins everything
wrong about the present agreement. The decision seeks to deny the
recognition of the Prime Minister as chair of Cabinet when the President is
away. Mr Mugabe has indicated that he will not be present on Tuesday and
hence the unilateral decision to move Cabinet forward to today. This
reflects unilateralism, disrespect, contempt and refusal to recognise
reality and the letter and spirit of the GPA, the reality of 29 March 2009
and the reality of now to the extent that Cabinet is held on Tuesday, we
will not attend an informal unilateral meeting.
However whilst we remain fundamentally committed to the GPA in the interests
of our people, it is our constitutional right to consider disengagement. It
is time that for Christ's sake toxicity and insanity are removed from the
GPA. It is time that the irreversibility of our change became a living
reality not just to ZANU PF but to the people of Zimbabwe at large.
June 30, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - The newly constituted National Security Council (NSC) is still to
sit, five months after the establishment of Zimbabwe's shaky government of
national unity.The maiden meeting of the NSC failed to take place in May
ostensibly because key members of the council were absent, according to
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
On Monday Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe told a news conference that
the failure of the NSC to sit was a reflection of the contempt of the
security chiefs for the global political agreement.
"Further evidence of the lack of a paradigm shift is the deliberate refusal
to convene the National Security Council," Khupe said. "The National
Security Council became law in February 2009 and demands that the Security
Council meets once every month. Four months later, it has not met simply
because a few elite securocrats do not recognise the authority of the new
In May Tsvangirai told journalists at his Munhumutapa offices that some of
the key members whom he did not name - but who government insiders say are
the security chiefs opposed to the unity government - were out of the
"On May 15, we were supposed to hold the inaugural meeting, unfortunately we
did not have key members of the sector," Tsvangirai said. "Some were out of
the country. But we have to regularise the meeting of the National Security
Tsvangirai did not say why the absentee members could not second their
deputies to attend the council meeting on their behalf or why they were out
of the country on that crucial date. He also did not give the date when the
council was scheduled to meet next.
Under its rules the NSC must meet once a month but can be summoned to meet
at any time as and when President Robert Mugabe or the Prime Minister deems
The NSC consists of Mugabe as chairperson, his two deputies Joice Mujuru and
Joseph Msika, Tsvangirai and his deputies Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani
Khupe, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa,
and the two Home Affairs ministers Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi.
Significantly, the service chiefs are relegated to the role of ex-officio
members of the council.
The service chiefs are Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine
Chiwenga, army commander Lt Gen Phillip Sibanda, Air Marshall Perrence Shiri
and Commissioner-General of Police, Augustine Chihuri.
Commissioner of Prisons Rtd Major-General Paradzai Zimondi and the
director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Happyton
Bonyongwe, also sit on the council.
May's meeting was scheduled to be the first NSC meeting since both houses of
Parliament passed the National Security Council Bill on February 10 to give
legal and constitutional force to the council.
Mugabe reportedly sat on the bill for two months, and finally signed it into
law late last month amid spirited resistance from the service chiefs.
The signature of the Bill into law by Mugabe last month paved the way for
the formation of the NSC, itself a creation of the Global Political
Agreement signed between Zanu-PF and the two MDC parties on September 15
The NSC is set to replace the shadowy Joint Operations Command (JOC) - a
committee of securocrats said by analysts to be the real power behind
Top government officials say there has been fierce resistance to the formal
constituting of the NSC among the service chiefs, who see the establishment
of the new security organ as a threat to their hitherto unchallenged power.
By Alex Bell
30 June 2009
Robert Mugabe is set to take centre stage at the African Union Summit of
heads of state this week where he will, ironically, be speaking about food
security in Africa.
The summit of African leaders, which is set to get underway in Libya on
Wednesday, is gathering under the theme: 'Investing in Agriculture for
Economic Growth and Food Security.' Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will
not be attending after just completing a whirlwind tour to Europe and the
US. Mugabe instead will be representing the unity government leadership at
the summit, where it's understood he will be addressing leaders about food
security, despite Zimbabwe being the most food-aid dependent country in the
Mugabe, as orchestrator of the devastating land invasions under the banner
of so-called 'land-reform,' has crippled Zimbabwean agriculture. The
country, which was once viewed as the breadbasket of Africa, now relies on
aid and food imports as there is barely any meaningful food production
taking place on farms in the country. At the same time, and further
exacerbating the problem, productive farms have been forcibly taken over by
land invaders as part of this year's renewed offensive against commercial
farmers. The result is that even less food is being produced, despite the
Global Political Agreement, which saw the formation of the unity government,
stating that food production would encouraged.
Justice for Agriculture's (JAG) John Worsley-Worswick said on Tuesday that
it is "totally ludicrous" that Mugabe will be addressing African leaders on
food security. He expressed concern for the worrying precedent being set for
the continent by African leaders who turn a blind eye to the atrocities
committed by their counterparts.
"Mugabe was the architect of the total destruction of agriculture in
Zimbabwe, and the fact that he will be addressing these leaders as an expert
in agriculture is ludicrous," Worsley-Worswick said.
Also topping the agenda at the meeting will be the indictment by the
International Criminal Court (ICC) of Sudanese leader Omar al Bashir for war
crimes. AU Summit host Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi has urged his
counterparts to consider withdrawing from the ICC over al Bashir's
indictment, saying the court is handing out 'warped justice in favour of
Europe.' Gaddafi and other leaders want the ICC democratised, all the while
calling for the charges against al Bashir to be dropped.
Meanwhile, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose disputed re-election as
President earlier this month led to widespread bloodshed, will be joining
the high level meeting in Libya this week. Ahmadinejad is joining fellow
dictators and human rights abusers in Libya to investigate Agricultural
investment in Africa.
June 30, 2009
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Harrison Mudzuri, the legislator for Zaka Central representing
the MDC, has attacked his party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, saying he is
pretending all is well in Zimbabwe when violations continue despite the
establishment of the inclusive government.
Addressing journalists in Masvingo, Mudzuri said Tsvangirai, now Prime
Minister in the inclusive government, was not listening to complaints from
party members over harassment and political violence.
"Our Prime Minister and party leader is just pretending that things are
right in the country when nothing has changed," said Mudzuri.
"In fact our members are being harassed and arrested everyday, and when you
try to tell the Prime Minister, he will say that such complaints will
undermine the inclusive government.
"Our people, particularly in Zaka, are being beaten up everyday, and we have
nowhere to complain because the Prime Minister says such information
undermines the spirit of inclusiveness."
Mudzuri is the younger brother of MDC national organising secretary Elias
Mudzuri, who is also Minister of Energy and Power Development.
Turning to the issue of national healing, Mudzuri said those who killed
people during the run-up to the June 27 presidential election runoff should
all come out in the open in order for them to be forgiven.
Zaka district experienced some of the worst violence during the run-up to
the presidential election runoff boycotted by Tsvangirai because of
widespread violence against MDC supporters.
In one of the incidents three MDC supporters were burnt beyond recognition
at Jerera Growth Point after the safe house in which they were living was
set ablaze by known Zanu-PF supporters.
Five other MDC supporters in the house were seriously injured during the
inferno and are still in hospital, almost a year after the incident.
"It is true that we want to forgive," said Mudzuri, "but who do we forgive?
Those who know that they need to be forgiven should first of all come out in
the open and admit that they need forgiveness; then we will forgive."
Mudzuri's criticism of Tsvangirai comes about a week after the Prime
Minister was booed in London for urging Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora
to come back home.
The audience, which forced Tsvangirai to cut short his speech, dismissed his
call and told the Prime Minister that they would only return after the
removal of President Robert Mugabe from power.
Tsvangirai told US and European leaders during his international tour that
he had a good working relationship with Mugabe, and that Zimbabwe was on an
irreversible path to recovery and democratic reform.
Critics say his optimism was premature.
Back at home, events presented a contrast to Tsvangirai's positive message.
On Monday, his ministers boycotted a cabinet meeting, arguing Mugabe had
moved the date of the meeting forward to prevent Tsvangirai from chairing it
Tsvangirai returned from his tour on Monday as Mugabe was preparing to leave
for an African Union meeting on Tuesday, the traditional day of the cabinet
Zanu-PF and the mainstream MDC that Tsvangirai leads have bickered over the
full implementation of the so-called Global Political Agreement (GPA) which
ushered in the new government.
The MDC is demanding that the appointments of Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana by Mugabe be revoked, among other
The party insists the appointments were unilateral and violated the GPA.
The MDC also wants Zanu-PF to stop harassing its supporters, and the
unconditional release of all political prisoners.
To date, four MDC legislators have been jailed after being convicted of
charges which the party says are trumped up.
MDC deputy president Thokozani Khupe, announcing the boycott of the cabinet
meeting, said her party had the right to disengage from the coalition
government if the host of grievances was not resolved.
The MDC has since referred the outstanding issues in the GPA to SADC and the
June 30, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE -The Herald newspaper was at the weekend forced to eat humble pie and
retract a story in which it accused MDC ministers of absconding from
official duty during the COMESA summit held early this month in Victoria
The paper carried an anonymously written retraction on Saturday apologising
to the MDC for the falsehoods it published. The withdrawal served to fuel
long-held suspicion that the paper is used by Zanu-PF officials to tarnish
the image of the party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Herald had carried the story under the headline "MDC-T snubs Summit
The retraction read: "We retract the story we published on June 8, 2009
under the headline 'MDC-T snubs Summit delegates. It has since emerged that
there was a communication breakdown with Ministry of Foreign Affairs
"Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted."
The withdrawal statement which was written by an unidentified person at the
paper was tucked away on the second page of the paper's Saturday issue,
where it was much less prominent than the original story.
The MDC responded by saying the paper should henceforth desist from the
practice of seeking to besmirch the character of it officials and carry out
its public mandate in a professional manner.
"The retraction is consistent with the circumstances which were present when
the summit took place. Yes, there are some MDC officials who failed to
attend the summit for various personal reasons but their failure was not a
collective MDC position, therefore, we view the Herald story as a deliberate
attempt to besmirch and tarnish the image of MDC officials in various
positions in government," said Nelson Chamisa, MDC party spokesperson.
"We call for facts to be thoroughly checked before stories are published."
In the story carried by The Herald, the impression was created that all MDC
officials had absconded from performing their assigned duties at the COMESA
(Common Market for East and Southern Africa) summit. According to the
procedures of the COMESA summit, selected ministers were asked to act as
guides for the heads of state who attended the summit. For example Zanu-PF's
Youth Secretary and Minister of Youth Saviour Kasukuwere was attached to the
Sudanese leader Omar Hassan al Bashir.
Kasukuwere travelled with the International Criminal Court-blacklisted
leader on his chartered Air Zimbabwe flight to Victoria Falls and back to
Despite Herald's accusations, there were several MDC ministers at the summit
in Victoria Falls. Ministers such as Henry Madzorera, Health and Child
Welfare Minister, Jameson Timba, Deputy Minister of Information and
Publicity, Evelyn Masaiti, Deputy Minister of Women and Gender Affairs and
David Coltart of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture were a permanent feature
at the Victoria Falls Airport as they ushered the numerous heads of state
who attended the COMESA summit in Victoria Falls.
The MDC has since the formation of the all-inclusive government complained
about shoddy coverage of its activities by The Herald.
The most recent example of the negative coverage was the treatment of Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's visit to Europe and the United States of
America. The Herald routinely published articles aimed at tarnishing his
image under headlines such as "Obama-Tsvangirai head for a clash'', "Dutch
snub Tsvangirai" and "Political goblins in driving seat."
Tuesday 30 June 2009
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) - The new archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,
said he will focus on poverty relief and development rather than trying to
fill the gap left by his predecessor, who was arguably Zimbabwe's most
outspoken critic of human rights abuses under President Robert Mugabe.
"My priority is people, and here they need spiritual and material help,"
said Archbishop-designate Alex Kaliyanil, superior of the Divine Word
missionaries in Zimbabwe.
The Indian archbishop-designate, named to Bulawayo June 20, has worked
mostly in rural parts of the archdiocese since he arrived in the southern
African country in 1989.
Since a unity government was formed in February, "the country has moved
forward, with humanitarian aid coming in, and people are more hopeful of
positive change in their lives," Archbishop-designate Kaliyanil said in a
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, has an unemployment rate of more
than 90 percent, and most people in the archdiocese need international food
The archbishop-designate, who has been an adviser to the Catholic aid agency
Caritas Zimbabwe, said challenges he faces in his new job include "poverty,
underdevelopment, unemployment and HIV/AIDS."
Joseph Buchena Nkatazo, Bulawayo coordinator of the Catholic Commission for
Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, said psychological and spiritual wounds in
the Bulawayo Archdiocese are "very deep."
Part of the church in Zimbabwe's efforts to aid the country's move to peace
is a nationwide reconciliation program, run by the justice and peace
commission, to bring together perpetrators of violence and their victims.
Based in the commission's head office in the capital, Harare, the program
was established to bridge the gap between supporters of different political
parties in the country as well as to heal the wounds of violence that
followed 2008 elections. The commission in Bulawayo has found that people
attending their workshops "weep as they tell the stories of what happened to
them and their loved ones in Gukurahundi," Nkatazo said in a June 26
In the 1981-87 Gukurahundi campaign, government troops were responsible for
the murders of about 20,000 people, as well as torture and human rights
abuses in the western Matabeleland province, which includes the archdiocese.
"It is still as fresh as if it had happened yesterday," Nkatazo said.
As well as addressing the issue of restitution, "which is a big issue raised
in our program countrywide," the archdiocese is training counselors in an
attempt to meet the need of its people's trauma, he said.
Bulawayo has been without an archbishop since September 2007 when Archbishop
Pius Ncube resigned in the midst of a sex scandal.
BD ONLINE Published: 2009/06/30 04:22:58 PM
JOHANNESBURG - The Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT), a grouping of church
leaders, says that the Zimbabwean political system is a battleground mainly
because the agreement was forced onto the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change and the ruling ZANU-PF.
Director of Research for SPT, Professor Brian Raftopoulos, says both parties
were forced by Southern African Development Community members to reach an
"There are a number of challenges facing Zimbabwe. One of the problems
facing the Zimbabwean government is to move the political situation into a
greater normalisation around the rule of law, the judiciary and the
reduction of violence. They need to open up enough spaces for people to
engage in normal political activity."
The SPT says restructuring the economy is one of the biggest challenges
facing the government. Raftopoulos says that getting the public sector
going, health, education services, civil services and the private sector on
the investment side.
"This clearly presents the dilemma, because as things stand the sanctions
remain on key members of the state, but also they impact on the capacity on
international institutions like the World Bank to engage with this
government," Raftopoulos said.
Now he says both parties are vying to control the Zimbabwean government -
leading to his comment that the country is becoming a battleground.
HARARE, June 30 2009 - Embattled Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
national treasurer, Roy Bennett (52) is back in the courts Wednesday and is
expected to be furnished with a trial date on charges of terrorism.
MDC National Treasurer Roy BennettTrust Mhanda, lawyer to the
agriculture minister designate, told RadioVOP on Tuesday that the State had
maintained its promises to indict him for trial.
"I went to see the prosecutor yesterday (Monday) and he promised to
furnish us with his trial date. Anything short of that we will apply for
refusal of remand," said Mhanda.
The matter will be heard before a regional magistrate in the border
town of Mutare .
Bennett, a close ally to MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai, faces
charges of possessing weapons for the purposes of insurgency and banditry.
He once served a one year jail term for assaulting justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa in parliament.
Following charges of terrorism, he fled the country to seek asylum in
South Africa in 2006 after the police quizzed him over the discovery of an
arms cache at a house belonging to Mike Peter Hirschman, an arms dealer.
Bennett returned to the country early this year after he had been
advised by some MDC officials it was now safe to come back home.
He was on 13 February this year seized by the police and some
intelligence agents as he was just about to fly back to South Africa to
visit his family.
He spent a month at Mutare remand prison amid fierce attempts by his
lawyers and the MDC to have him released.
The former Chimanimani legislator is currently out on US$5 000 bail.
The continued refusal by President Robert Mugabe to swear him in as
minister has brought apprehension within MDC.
The matter is among the myriad issues the MDC wants to take to SADC,
brokers of the unity agreement between Zanu PF and the two MDCs, for
Hot Seat Transcript: Journalist Violet Gonda interviews Andrew Pocock, the outgoing UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe.
The Ambassador gives the UK ’s position on the targeted sanctions issue, which he says has been over-used by ZANU PF to deflect blame from their failed domestic policy. Ambassador Pocock also says the accusation that Britain reneged on the Lancaster House agreement to fund land reform in Zimbabwe are not accurate, and is just one of ‘the convenient myths’ that has dogged the British/Zimbabwean relationship.
Broadcast: 26 June 2009
Violet Gonda: My guest on the Hot Seat programme this week is Andrew Pocock, the outgoing UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe . Hallo Ambassador Pocock.
Andrew Pocock: Violet, how are you?
Pocock: Well, we are in an interesting position. There are
winds of change but there’s still quite a long way to go.
|UK Ambassador to Zimbabwe Andrew Pocock|
Gonda: Right, has there been a significant shift though in the political situation in Zimbabwe ?
Gonda: Can you tell us a bit more about that – what progress have you seen so far and what have been the failures of the coalition government?
But I think it is perhaps a little bit too early for full rejoicing – there’s a very long way to go on restoring trust and confidence. There’s still too much about the systems here that are not transparent or accountable and that leads us to areas where there hasn’t been I think yet success or enough success and that’s the politics. In almost all the areas that are traditional here – human rights, the justice system, the media, land invasions, corruption – there’s still a great deal of work to be done. I think the new government is trying to address this but it is heavy sledding.
Gonda: What about in terms of the leadership itself – do you think Robert Mugabe has relinquished sufficient powers?
Gonda: What about some of the accusations that Robert Mugabe has made against western countries especially Britain where he believes that Britain is responsible for the crisis in Zimbabwe . What are your thoughts on this, do you think Mugabe really believes that Britain is responsible for the crisis or is it a matter of convenience to blame the old colonial master?
Pocock: Well I think it is certainly a convenient thing to say. It’s hard to know whether Zanu-PF really believe that the United Kingdom is responsible for the crisis or whether as you say it is a matter of convenience. It’s probably a combination. If one repeats something long enough, enough people begin to believe it including oneself. The truth is, as we see it, that the crisis is as a direct consequence of very bad policy choices, of the unrestrained exercise of executive power and a pretty complete disregard for the impact of all this on Zimbabwe ’s people and economy. I’m being direct about it because I think it needs to be said. So what we do need to see is a change of mindset. I’m quite happy to accept that it needs to be on more than one side, but a change of mindset is needed.
Gonda: On the issue of a change of mindset do you think that western countries are ever going to be able to trust a party like Zanu-PF?
Gonda: I was going to ask that for the sake of progress should Zimbabwe and western countries forget the past.
Pocock: No I don’t think we should forget the past. I mean forgetting the past usually condemns us to repeat it. I think we must learn from the past and try jointly to move on. Learning from the past means a genuine recognition on all sides of mistakes; mistakes in policy, mistakes in analysis, mistakes in implementation. And to begin the process of moving on I think we need a genuine dialogue and that hasn’t fully started yet and of course there are elements of the inclusive government we talk to very freely. There are other elements we don’t yet do but that process is beginning and the joint visit to London last week, which included the Zimbabwean Foreign Minister I think is a potentially important first step in sitting down and looking very carefully at the balance of accounts. But this is not a question of forgetting the past as I say, it’s a question of learning from it.
Gonda: What do you think should be done to people who are guilty of human rights violations?
Gonda: But as an observer? You wouldn’t have any views on this?
Pocock: Well I think it’s very difficult for the nation to move on without some accounting for what has happened and it goes back to the 1980s in Matabeleland as well, not just recent history, so there does need to be an accounting. How that’s done, what mechanisms are chosen, what process is used is as I say very much for Zimbabweans, it is not something that either the United Kingdom or indeed Zimbabwe ’s western friends would wish to insert themselves into. That’s for people here to decide.
Gonda: Right. Let’s talk a bit about the land issue. You mentioned earlier on that that the invasions are carrying on, but just a bit of background, Mugabe has always accused the British of reneging on provisions of the Lancaster House agreement - on the issue of compensating white commercial farmers. Is this accurate in your view?
But we did meet our obligations. During the period of the 1980s the UK spent 44 million pounds on land reform which was a substantial sum at the time. We did it on a willing seller, willing buyer basis as had been agreed and we only stopped funds for land when it was clear that land was not being passed to the poor and the landless. That is not reneging, that is simply pointing to the evidence and it’s also resisting the proposition that has crept in that the UK somehow has unlimited liability forever and a day to fund land reform in Zimbabwe . The Lancaster House never said anything like that. What Lancaster House said and what we undertook then was (a) to do everything we could to help with land reform (b) to contribute substantially ourselves and (c) to seek support from others in the international community. Now we did all that so this is really again another urban or rural myth that we need at some early stage to lay to rest.
Gonda: But I understand that (former) Minister Claire Short actually wrote a letter and I think it was in 1997 saying that Britain no longer has any obligation. Now do you think that letter could have, to some extent, influenced the events which resulted in the land invasions?
So one of the misunderstandings to put it no more strongly of the past, one which we’ve tried to revisit on occasions and not had the political contacts in which to do it. So again, something that needs to be looked at in its proper context and moved on from.
Gonda: Is this something that the two governments have started working on?
Pocock: Yes it is. Not solely on issues of land, they’re important but they’re not the only issue on the agenda - but in terms of looking at how we might begin reconstructing a relationship. Zimbabwe ’s important to the UK and vice versa. So although we’re at a very early stage we have begun that process and that is a good thing.
Gonda: Now the white commercial farmers want compensation and they’re demanding US$5 billion from the Zimbabwean government. What are your thoughts on that?
And I think and I hope as we move into the future, as we reach a situation where the restoration of commercial agriculture is possible, it won’t be on the old paternalistic basis, it will be on some new foundation but when we reach that point, as part of the natural justice, as part of building confidence for future investors, some element of compensation for people unconstitutionally displaced might be considered. I think we haven't got anywhere near the mechanisms and we certainly haven't decided who would pay for that compensation or indeed how much it would be but I think in natural justice, some form of address to this should be considered and I hope in due course will.
Gonda: That’s what I was going to ask – is it possible to ever see the United Kingdom actually providing compensation directly to the white commercial farmers for land that had been taken by the Zimbabwe government - so it’s not completely or totally off the table, it is possible that the UK could provide compensation directly to the white farmers?
Gonda: And of course the Prime Minister is denying the severity of farm invasions, but the commercial farmers say the invasions are continuing. Now is it of concern to the diplomatic community when they hear Mr Tsvangirai saying the reports of farm invasions have been overblown?
Gonda: But does it concern the diplomatic community that it’s the Prime Minister who’s also saying the situation is not as bad as it sounds and there are no fresh farm invasions that are happening right now?
Gonda: And what is his response?
Gonda: What is the UK ’s position on lifting restrictive measures that have an economic impact?
And in the international financial institutions for instance where there’s recently been publicity that the UK has raised its ban on IFI lending – well we never had a ban so we couldn’t raise it. The reason why there is no lending from the international financial institutions is because of Zimbabwe ’s arrears. If a country fails to pay its debts to the international financial institutions they stop lending and I’m afraid Zimbabwe owes 1.2 billion dollars or thereabouts, mostly in arrears.
So there is no block, it is simply a question of Zimbabwean debt which is a complicated one. But let me say the UK and indeed our international friends are helping Zimbabwe and the new financial minister to re-engage with the IFIs which is a lengthy process but a crucial one. The IFIs are responding. They are sending teams, the IMF has sent Article Four mission, the World Bank has a mission here at the moment and they are also contributing technical assistance. But there will be no new resource until the debt issue is addressed but continued engagement will continue even though that is subject to sustained policy change. But as I said earlier, we’re seeing policy change on the micro economic side so there is some progress here.
Gonda: Has the UK been trading with Zimbabwe in the last few years?
Gonda: But there have been reports saying that the British government has been putting pressure on UK companies, for example those that buy produce from farms that were taken over from white farmers. Is this the policy of the British government?
So far from looking at sanctions, which as I say economically have never existed, we are looking at ways in which we can incentivise reform in Zimbabwe and indeed reward it. So the debate about sanctions, certainly from the Zimbabwean end, has always been misleading and an attempt to defer, deflect blame for domestic policy. It is an old-fashioned debate, we really need to move on from it for the sake of Zimbabwe’s recovery.
Gonda: Why was the Mines Minister, Obert Mpofu denied a visa to attend these investment conferences in the UK with the Prime Minister?
Gonda: The Herald newspaper this week claims that the decline in food production in Zimbabwe was due to global warming. What do you think about this?
Gonda: And of course, sticking with the Herald, there was an outcry when the paper published a story saying that sanctions hit local British pensioners and that the UK had started to airlift its citizens from Zimbabwe to the UK. What is the position of your government on this?
Gonda: And the paper went on to say that the repatriation showed shocking double standards as it showed that London was acknowledging the ruinous nature of the sanctions yet it was keen to maintain them against black Zimbabweans.
Pocock: Well Violet you simply mustn’t believe everything you read in the Herald, and of course they would say that, wouldn’t they? They base their premise on the wholly erroneous proposition that Zimbabwe’s economy has been ruined by sanctions. As I have said repeatedly, it hasn’t. That was domestic policy driven. And secondly, it’s not as if we are ignoring black Zimbabweans, the United Kingdom is now going to put $100 million of assistance into Zimbabwe this year. When you combine it with the money that we have put in at least since 2000, we’ve probably put in almost half a billion dollars in humanitarian and now transitional support assistance for Zimbabwe. That is to tackle everything from food insecurity created again by domestic policy, to HIV, to orphans and vulnerable children. We’re now moving on to a range of infrastructural areas including education.
If we and our international partners had not done that then I fear a great many more Zimbabweans would either have died or left this country than the three or four million who have already done so. So the Herald is full ofagitprop but none of it makes sense and no responsible adult believes it.
Gonda: So do you feel that the diplomatic community in Harare has been effective during the last eight years of the crisis?
Gonda: And of course you have concluded your term. What do you think you have achieved and do you have any regrets?
And I’ve also been lucky here to meet many very brave and patriotic Zimbabweans who are dedicated to the revival of their country and to have worked with friends and colleagues including, may I say, a very dedicated and professional British Embassy team. So I’ve not contributed to any of it in a particular way but I’m very happy to have been associated with it and oh by the way, we’ve just, the British Embassy moved to a new building which is a symbol of long term commitment here. So I’ve been glad to have been associated with that.
But regrets as the song says, I’ve had a few. I’ve regretted the unnecessary suffering of so many and the treatment of human rights defenders and frankly the impoverishment of a nation. None of that has been pretty. I’m not sure if there was a great deal we could realistically have done about that other than supporting the people in the way I’ve described but I leave here with a degree of optimism and looking forward I hope to a new Zimbabwe.
Gonda: Has you replacement been named yet?
Gonda: He’s coming from Burma.
Pocock: He is.
Gonda: Quite interesting…
Pocock: Very interesting.
Gonda: And a final word Ambassador.
Pocock: Well it has been a pleasure talking to you and going over these issues. I think that the winds of change are stirring in Zimbabwe, it’s important that they be given all the help they can and the point I would make just to end is the international community is helping. We hear a great deal of criticism about conditionalities and about waiting and seeing. Of course there will be some conditionalities, we would be unreasonable to expect there to be none but we are already as an international group, putting as I say $700 million a year into Zimbabwe. We are taking risks, we are trying to be innovative, we are trying to support change and fundamental reform. So we are not sitting on our haunches, we are not letting the reforming elements of the new government twist in the wind, we’re doing the opposite. The reason that we haven’t sailed straightforwardly to success is because things still are very difficult and there are many impediments and 30 years of under-investment and political difficulty are not solved overnight but we’re addressing it and we’re on the case.
Gonda: And where are you going from
Gonda: Well Ambassador Andrew Pocock, we wish you well and thank you very much for talking to us.
Pocock: Violet, a great pleasure, thank you.
For comments and feedback please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
By Phyllis Kachere
HARARE, Jun 30 (IPS) - With half her body immersed in a muddy red pond,
Esther Nyarambi closely inspects the contents of her wooden panning dish,
locally known as zamba. Having spent the entire day pounding gold-bearing
rock, she hopes her efforts will be rewarded with even the smallest nugget
As most other artisanal gold miners in the Nyamahumbe and Chishapa areas of
the gold-rich Shamva district in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland Central province,
Nyarambi carelessly adds a cap of mercury to the zamba to extract the
She knows little of the toxicity of mercury and the huge health risks she
exposes herself to. With her bare hands, the 26-year-old mixes the contents
of the wooden dish until the fluid mercury wraps itself around tiny
particles of gold dust, making a nugget.
Dr Cleopas Sibanda, an occupational health expert, says mercury destroys a
person's nerve endings and causes mood swings. "People exposed to it show
signs of irritability, mood swings, a nervous body system and bleeding gums.
Failure to concentrate has also been reported on those exposed to the
metal," he told IPS.
"Mercury is a particular threat to pregnant women and their unborn babies."
Desperate to find gold and a way out of poverty, Nyarambi and her fellow
illegal miners are not bothered by potential health risks.
"Mercury is easy and fast to use when extracting gold dust from the ore.
After crushing the stones that hold the gold ore, mercury makes the job
easier and removes all impurities from the gold," explains Nyarambi.
"I have heard it causes ill health if you inhale it, but I don't do that. I
only use it to gather tiny gold specks. I have been using mercury for the
past five years and never had any problems," she added.
Thousands of poor and unemployed youths and adults have trekked to Shamva
district, which is reported to have rich deposits of alluvial gold, hoping
to strike it rich. In the past, a number of illegal panners have managed to
accumulate easy wealth here and set up transport and retail businesses from
the money made from the gold.
Despite the launch of a police operation coded Operation Chikorokoza Chapera
(Operation End Illegal Panning) two years ago, police have not managed to
stop panners, or makorokoza, as they are called in Shona. With a gram of
gold fetching $20, while an ounce, or 23.3 grams, fetches anything above
$900 on the international market, panners say they will do anything to find
"It is called making money. Money comes first, health second. It's simple,
either money or health," said Pfimbikai Mate, one of the makorokoza, who has
been making a living from gold panning for the past six years.
In January, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) said only six percent of Zimbabweans are formally employed,
down from 30 percent in 2003. This sharp decrease is mainly due to the
country's unstable political and economic situation, combined with repeated
droughts, which have caused widespread food insecurity.
Mate explains that private gold buyers in Zimbabwe create a market for the
panners by smuggling the precious metal to China, South Africa and Angola.
They supply panners with mercury to increase production without explaining
the health hazards associated with using the metal.
Mercury is listed as a highly hazardous substance by Zimbabwe's
Environmental Management Agency (EMA). Agency director Phillip Manyaza
acknowledges that the agency has so far failed to control and regulate the
import of mercury from South Africa and Europe, identified by the United
Nations Environmental Programme as the major points of origin for mercury
used in Zimbabwe. He says existing legislation against the unsafe use and
unlicensed import of the metal has not been easy to enforce.
The law calls for imprisonment of individuals and companies that bring
mercury into the country without a license, but smugglers find it easy to
bring in the toxic substance, he explains.
"We have good legislation against use of harmful substances, but the
enforcement has been difficult. Police do not have adequate expertise and
equipment [and enough vehicles] to police these rampant gold panners. It is
a problem," admitted Manyaza.
Gold panning also has a negative impact on the environment. Just a few
kilometres from the main digging site in Shamva district, Chief Bushu, the
cultural custodian of the area, says entire homesteads have been collapsing
because panners dig up soil and boulders in search for gold, excavating
unstable underground caves.
The devastated environment is testimony to the makorokozas' handiwork, which
creates deep craters from collapsed caves that have become deadly traps for
livestock and human beings. The panners also destroy a variety of protected
flora and leave soil vulnerable to erosion.
According to UNEP, small-scale gold mining and panning is the second highest
source of mercury environmental pollution globally.
Even the culturally-revered fig tree, the cutting down of which is taboo in
Shona culture as it is regarded as the dwelling-place of ancestral spirits,
has not been spared. Its trunk is used to carve the wooden panning dishes,
The unpalatable fact is that the Republic of Zimbabwe is virtually bankrupt. As at December 1, 2008, Zimbabwe's external debt stood at US$ 5,255 billion, with a current account balance of - US$597 million. As at May 31, 2009, Zimbabwe owed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) US$138 million and the World Bank US$676 million. As at April 30, 2009, Zimbabwe owed the African Development Bank US$438 million. These statistics are startling and there is, therefore, an urgent need to interrogate Zimbabwe's debt crisis and firstly ascertain how such a colossal debt was incurred and then strategise the way forward as to how this debt crisis is to be resolved. Put alternatively, the legitimacy or lack of it, of Zimbabwe's debt has to be placed under the microscope if our country is to avoid being perpetually placed under a debt trap. The main thrust of this paper is therefore to attempt to provide an objective analysis of Zimbabwe's debt situation and then to propagate the need to have an apolitical, scientific and objective debt audit as a way of charting a new dispensation regarding how the debt crisis has to be handled henceforth.
Odious debts are defined as those debts, incurred by the State, which debts are not for the needs or interest of the State but merely to strengthen the State's despotic power as well as to repress the population that fights against despotism. The legal doctrine of odious debts is essentially derived from the writings of Alexander Nahum Sack, the world's pre-eminent legal scholar on public debts. Sack authored two major works on the obligations of successor states and these are: “THE EFFECTS OF STATE TRANSFORMATIONS ON THEIR PUBLIC DEBTS AND OTHER FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS'' and “THE SUCCESSION OF THE PUBLIC DEBTS OF THE STATE.'' The doctrine of odious debts is not per se favourable to the interests of emerging economies and also to the developing countries (hitherto contemptuously referred to as the Third World.) This is so because the doctrine of odious debts was created to further the interests of international finance by limiting the ability of governments to repudiate debts. Under this doctrine, three conditions must be present before a State can repudiate a debt:
i) the debt must have been incurred without the consent of the people of the State;
ii) the debt cannot have benefited the public in that State and;
iii) the tenderer must have been aware of these two conditions.
The overwhelming majority of the developing world's foreign debts are odious in law. Being part of the developing world, Zimbabwe is thus inevitably caught up in this odious debts fiasco. My earlier humble submission was that Zimbabwe is bankrupt. This is mainly so because Zimbabwe has no capacity to service the afore-mentioned debt. In his inaugural address after being sworn into office on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 , Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai advised the nation that the inclusive government's main priority was to heal the broken economy and supply food to the hungry millions of Zimbabweans. He stated that: “For too long, our people's hopes for a bright and prosperous future have been betrayed. Instead of hope, their days have been filled with starvation, disease and fear. A culture of entitlement and impunity has brought our nation to the brink of a dark abyss. This must end today.'' It is, without doubt, obvious that Prime Minister Tsvangirai was acutely aware of the state of despair, poverty, destitution and hopelessness that prevailed throughout the Zimbabwean society immediately prior to the formation of the inclusive government in February, 2009. At its formation in February, 2009, the inclusive government inherited approximately US$ 4,7 billion external debts owed to bilateral, multilateral and commercial creditors.
This paper adopts the view that by the time the inclusive government was formed, Zimbabwe was virtually a failed State. The de facto government had ceased to operate as a normal functional authority. The economic challenges facing the country were such that the de facto government was clearly unable to meet essential State obligations such as the payment of civil servants' salaries as well as the general running of public institutions such as government ministries, public schools and public hospitals. Zimbabwe's economic collapse is not to be solely located in and restricted to the ineptitude, corruption and misgovernance of the previous government coupled with the chaotic and violent “land reform'' program that began in earnest in February, 2000. There is a combination of several factors that eventually led to Zimbabwe becoming a failed state by the time the inclusive government was formed in February, 2009.The reasons behind Zimbabwe's economic decline are numerous, complex and historical. The general assumption that the land distribution program that gained momentum from the year 2000 is the sole reason for the country's economic decline and food insecurity is flatly inaccurate. According to a study by the Trans Africa Forum, there are several factors that brought about Zimbabwe's economic collapse. In a Congressional Testimony to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health on Thursday, May 7, 2009 submitted by Nicole C. Lee, Esq; the Executive Director of the Trans Africa Forum, many political economists identify Zimbabwe's unresolved structural weaknesses and systematic inequality built into the apartheid -like system constructed by the Rhodesian settlers as the primary root cause. A South African-based scholar, Patrick Bond, points to the related crises of Rhodesia's “over-consumption'' of the early 1970s.Analysts agree that at the time of Zimbabwe's independence in 1980,the country's economy was skewed, for example:
i) The entire national economy was designed to support the maintenance and enrichment of a small white minority. At independence in 1980, fewer than 7000 white farmers each owned, on average, more than 100 times the land available to the average African peasant.;
ii) Industry, mining and the manufacturing sector were in the hands of multinational corporations and the white settler economy:
iii) The majority of the population had been systematically excluded from the pool of skilled labour as well as the formal economy through a variety of legal and abusive measures.
In present-day Zimbabwe, economic distortions continue. Mining, manufacturing and most industry remain in the hands of external corporations, the white minority and a small clique of black indigenous Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe is at the crossroads. The country is caught up in a debt trap. Zimbabwe is burdened by both short and long-term external debts that inevitably militate against the inclusive government's concerted efforts to jump-start the economy. Zimbabwe has no choice but to adopt the modern approach to international relations; which approach essentially dictates that developing countries should be given a platform where they can challenge the legitimacy of their debts to creditors with a view to ensuring that their development is not stifled by otherwise odious and/or illegitimate debts which militate against sustainable development.
The inclusive government should come out clearly in the open and join the global voice that seeks the establishment of an international debt arbitration mechanism. The Zimbabwe government should promptly utilize the doctrine of odious debts by establishing a judicial debt arbitration panel, preferably composed of respected and eminent Zimbabwean and international jurists. This panel would then invite creditors to submit claims, including documentation that the loans were indeed used in the interests of the Zimbabwean people and, not, in the words of the US Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolforito, “to buy weapons and to build palaces and to build instruments of repression.'' It is pointless to take the alternative route of going to the Paris Club. The Paris Club is composed of die-hard capitalists whose major interest is to remain the world's economic giants at the expense of the developing world. Put bluntly, the Paris Club will never push the agenda of developing and highly-indebted countries. The Paris Club is an informal grouping of the world's largest creditor nations. This club uses Western taxpayer dollars to rescue misplaced loans by public lenders. Zimbabwe should never approach the Paris Club; at least before establishing the legitimacy or otherwise of its colossal external debt. Recent news reports are to the effect that France is mulling the possibility of cancelling Zimbabwe's debt to that country which is in the region of €400 million. This is a very encouraging starting point.
The World Bank's article of agreement imposes a fiduciary duty on the bank to ensure that the proceeds of any loan are used only for the purposes for which the loan is granted. If the World Bank breaches this fiduciary duty it should be held liable and the debtor nation must be entitled to challenge the odious debt at international law. In his paper: “CRIMINAL DEBT IN THE INDONESIA CONTEXT'', Northwestern University Professor Jeffrey Winters provides shocking insight into the World Bank's weak supervisory practices. Winters presents overwhelming evidence that the World Bank breached its fiduciary duty to Indonesia by granting loans which, it knew, would be used for corrupt purposes. As a result, Indonesian legislators have since asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to write off the country's foreign debts, including those to other donors recommended by the IMF. The Indonesian government had a foreign debt of around US$67 billion as at July 13, 2001. The breach of its fiduciary duty by the World Bank is ordinarily a legal basis to challenge the legitimacy of the debts. The hurdle to be encountered by the inclusive government in Zimbabwe is to prove that the lending institutions knew or ought to have known that the funds would not be used in the interest of the people but solely for the benefit of the ruling regime's members in their personal capacities.
A classic scenario on odious debts is demonstrated when officials are indicted on corruption charges relating to funds from the multilateral lending institutions. Examples are cases like CROWN v HAHMEYER INTERNATIONAL CIMBA where a Lesotho senior public servant was bribed to influence his decision on a major construction project undertaken by the appellant corporation. There was ''reasonably sufficient'' evidence to indicate that Acres International engaged in a corrupt practice by paying monies to Mr. Mosupha Sole to influence him in connection with the work performed by Acres International for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. This trial is important because it may open the door for the government of Lesotho to challenge the legitimacy of loans tainted by corruption. Another case involves an action by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal to strike out a lawsuit against the Kenyan government over a contract after it discovered that the contract had been secured illegally through a US$2 million bribe paid to the former President Daniel Arap Moi. Although the complainant alleges that the payment was a “personal donation'' made to Mr. Moi for public purposes, the ICSID tribunal ruled that this constituted a breach of international public policy as well as both English and Kenyan public policy. Mr. Ali, the complainant, could, therefore, not turn to a legal body as a means to enforce his rights secured through a breach of international public policy or in the tribunal's words, he could not “found a cause of action on an immoral or illegal act.'' The tribunal ruled that “claims based on contracts of corruption or on contracts obtained by corruption cannot be upheld by this arbitral tribunal.” As aptly noted by Jeffy King of the Canadian Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), the tribunal's ruling is an important one for the global campaign and “adds to precedent such as the Tinoco Arbitration (1924) and numerous international conventions in clarifying that contracts for personal enrichment, or those procured by bribery, are against international public policy and are thus, unenforceable.” By distinguishing between the acts of the Kenyan President and those of the Republic of Kenya, the ruling contributes an important precedent to the odious debts jurisprudence. The decision by the World Bank-established tribunal upheld the principle that the President of Kenya was acting as an agent of the state and thus, his actions are automatically deemed to be the acts of Kenya. This decision thus, dissolves the fiction that a head of state is capable of binding the state to any sort of contract.
In July 2000, the Argentine Federal Court set out a landmark ruling that is supposed to have far-reaching repercussions for odious debt campaigners worldwide. The court held that a substantial portion of Argentina's foreign debt is rooted in fraudulent and illegitimate loans abused during the military period. In his decision, Judge Jorge Ballestro held that many loans to Argentina were part of “a damaging economic policy that forced Argentina to its knees through various methods....and which tended to benefit and support private companies- national and foreign-to the detriment of society and state companies.'' Judge Ballestro's ruling puts blame on the shoulders of corrupt civil servants as well as international financial institutions such as the IMF. In his speech to the International Jubilee 2000 Conference in Bamako, Mali, debt activist Alejandro Olmos Gaona, argues that the court's decision exposes how international creditors helped ensure that money lent to Argentina was not used in the interest of the state. As such, the court's ruling is an invaluable resource for campaigners in other countries who are trying to challenge the legality of their own odious debts.
It is, therefore, imperative for the inclusive government in Zimbabwe to urgently institute a debt audit as suggested in this paper. It would be pointless for the inclusive government to move around with a begging bowl, asking for about US$8, 2 billion to jump-start Zimbabwe's comatose economy whilst remaining deafeningly silent about the need to interrogate the country's colossal external debt. Zimbabwe should not honour any debts that have not been properly audited and proved to be lawful and legitimate. Honouring debts that are clearly odious will be the inclusive government's kiss of death.
PAPER PRESENTED BY SENATOR O.C.GUTU AT THE “ECONOMY IN TRANSITION DIALOGUE CONFERENCE: TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE PUBLIC DEBT FOR ZIMBABWE''
BRONTE HOTEL, HARARE
TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2009
CONFERENCE ORGANISED BY THE ZIMBABWE COALITION ON DEBT AND DEVELOPMENT (ZIMCODD)
BILL WATCH 22/2009
[29th June 2009]
The House of Assembly has adjourned until Tuesday 14th July,
and the Senate until Tuesday 21st July
MDC Statement Expressing Frustration with ZANU-PF
At a press conference this morning the acting President of MDC and Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe, made a statement outlining MDC-T’s frustration with ZANU-PF failure to honour the Interparty Political Agreement [IPA]. “This morning, we were advised that Cabinet had been shifted from its mandated day of Tuesday to Monday at 10am. Innocent and innocuous as this decision may be, the fact of the matter is that it underpins everything wrong about the present agreement. The decision seeks to deny the recognition of the Prime Minister as chair of Cabinet when the President is away.” She said the MDC-T have been forced into the role of a “polite and subservient” partner. “The lack of recognition of the fundamental principle of equality has given rise to a persistent and corrosive culture of unilateralism.”
The statement went on to list the failures to resolve issues which are at the root of the IPA:
· central issues of the Reserve Bank Governor, the Attorney General, the Provincial Governors, the swearing-in of Roy Bennett and the appointment of ambassadors remain unresolved.
· deliberate refusal to convene the National Security Council.
the threatened imposition of the
Kariba draft constitution lock, stock and barrel on the people of
· persistent abuse of the rule of law
· persistent victimization, arrest and violence against our MPs, activists, civil society members, and members of staff.
· continuous incidents of farm invasions and prosecution of farmers.
· selective application of the rule of law.
· frustration of the democratization agenda by ZANU-PF
· no movement on key legislation on fundamental issues such as the promotion of freedom of speech, assembly and expression.
· media reforms remain aborted while State media continue to churn out vitriolic propaganda
“However whilst we remain fundamentally committed to the GPA in the interests of our people, it is our constitutional right to consider disengagement ... It is time that the irreversibility of our change became a living reality not just to ZANU-PF but to the people of Zimbabwe at large.” [Full text of statement available.]
MDC-T Refer Outstanding Issues to SADC
MDC-T and MDC-M have already referred the appointments of the Attorney-General and the Reserve Bank governor, and the lack of movement on sharing of provincial governorships, to SADC. [Letter of 29th May to SADC Chair SA President Zuma available.] The MDC-T National Council resolved on 23rd June that SADC should expeditiously deal with the RBZ governor and Attorney-General issues and also with continued arrests, detentions and human rights violations. [Full text of resolutions available.] Press reports have suggested that a SADC Summit to discuss the outstanding issues has been tentatively scheduled for early July
Commenting on the referral of issues direct to SADC by-passing JOMIC, an MDC-T spokesman said that reference to JOMIC would have been futile, as JOMIC is ineffective. A JOMIC member, however, has said they are working quietly in the background trying to mediate in problems and are surprised that the MDC-T and MDC-M leaders had gone straight to SADC.
It is odd that the National Security Council [NSC] issue was not also referred to SADC. Although the passing of the National Security Council Bill was part of the SADC-approved pre-conditions for the formation of the inclusive government and the NSC is supposed to meet monthly, it has not yet met. [Off-record sources say that the Joint Operations Command, comprising defence and security “chefs”, which the NSC should have replaced, is still meeting with the President.]
Differences Highlighted by PM’s Tour of Western Bloc Countries
· The PM was well received and began the process of opening up contacts and diplomatic ties
· Humanitarian aid – about US$200 million was pledged and will be dispensed through UN agencies and NGOs
· There were promises of more aid, depending on political and economic reforms.
· The EU have started the process of normalizing relations under the Cotonou Agreement
· A newsletter was launched publicizing the PM’s tour to counteract the lack of publicity in the State media
· The PM’s mission was undermined by the State press running down Western countries and their leaders, ZANU-PF’s delaying reforms and the continuing persecution of human right activists, journalists and lawyers, and violence against farmers and farm workers
The President/ZANU-PF perspective
· Disappointment that “sanctions” were not lifted
· Aid raised was less than the US$8.4 billion needed for the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme
· Objections to money promised by Western governments mostly coming in through UN agencies and NGOs, by-passing government
· Aid will go mostly to “social ministries” run by MDC Ministers
· The President of the “inclusive government” is not received by Western countries and their leaders, yet the PM is accorded full honours
· PM’s newsletter regarded as MDC-T propaganda
To counter the PM’s tour, the President has called for the renewal of a “Look East” policy and sent a team headed by Defence Minister Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF Women’s League Chairwoman Muchinguri to Russia, China, Malaysia and other Eastern countries to seek financial and material assistance for economic recovery.
Conflicts Emerging over the Constitutional Process
President Mugabe in his speech to the ZANU-PF National Consultative Assembly on Thursday said that the Parliamentary Select Committee on the new constitution must base the new constitution on the Kariba Draft. "Our people have got to be very careful and take precautions not to be derailed, not to be led away from the Kariba Draft." When ZANU-PF hardliners suggested pulling out of the Constitutional process unless there was endorsement of the Kariba Draft, Mr Mugabe was reported to have replied that ZANU-PF “had a good opportunity to block the process in Parliament” if MDC-T “hijacked the agenda”. [Note: this was reported in the Independent as coming from “informed sources”.] Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa on Friday insisted the Kariba Draft would form the basis of the new constitution.
MDC-T National Council resolved on 23rd June to "reject any attempts to have the “Kariba draft”, one of many drafts available, adopted as the Alpha and Omega of the Constitution-making process. Tsvangirai recently said that using the draft as the only reference point will render meaningless the ongoing consultations on the draft constitution.
Update on Parliament
Committee Meetings: Neither House of Assembly portfolio committees nor Senate thematic committees met last week because MPs and Senators were involved in the Select Committee’s provincial consultative meeting programme.
Parliamentary Legal Committee: The committee has still not met.
Update on Legislative Reform
No sign of new Bills – at this rate there will be no Bills ready for introduction in Parliament when it resumes next month. No Bills are being printed for gazetting ahead of introduction. [Standing Orders require that all Bills be gazetted at least 14 days before tabling, although this requirement can be waived by resolution of the House concerned when Bills are “fast-tracked”.]
Update on Legislation
Bills – none.
Ministerial Responsibilities for Acts of Parliament – these have still not been gazetted. The absence of readily accessible gazetted statements of which Minister is responsible for an Act has serious implications for governmental transparency and accountability.
Statutory Instrument – gazetted on 26th June was SI 100/2009 which specifies the charges applicable to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange [brokerage fees, Securities Commission levy and investor protection levy] and fees payable to the Securities Commission.
General Notice – also gazetted on 26th June was GN 86/2009 listing public holidays for 2010. [Electronic version available.] [Note: the GN omits the extra holiday that will fall on Monday 27th December 2010 because Boxing Day will be on a Sunday. Presumably this error will be corrected in due course.]
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.
Andrew E. MathisJune 30, 12:48 PM
Having returned from a tour of the United States and Europe to raise funds
for his financially strapped country, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister, Morgan
Tsvangiri, has hit up the People's Republic of China for nearly a billion
dollars in loans, and China has elected to provide them.
The relationship between China and Zimbabwe goes back to China having
trained the guerrillas that ultimately were responsible for ending white
minority rule in what was then known as Rhodesia. Zimbabwe's leader since
majority rule began, Robert Mugabe, has kept good relations with China while
he has managed to put off most of the rest of the world.
Indeed, Zimbabwe's financial crisis is largely one of Mugabe's making. When
majority rule came in 1980, Mugabe had urged the country's white farmers,
many of whom came from families that had been there for generations, to stay
and continue to work the land. The country thrived for a decade, shining not
only as a model of peaceful coexistence, but also as an example of how newly
independent or emancipated African countries could overcome the burdens of
colonialism and become prosperous.
Then Mugabe changed: An economic downturn in the early 1990s caused Mugabe
to turn on the white farmers. Farmers had their land expropriated and were
often violently attacked in the process. The farms were then handed over to
untrained workers who failed to produce enough food to feed the population.
White farmers became scapegoats for all the country's ills, including the
country monumental inflation, as well as a shield against criticism of other
Mugabe policies, including involvement in foreign wars.
Mugabe's latest display of dictatorial flourish came with last year's
presidential election, when, as happened recently in Iran, the results were
(by most people's accounts) tampered with. Despite violence since that
election, in February of this year, the challenger, the aforemenioned
Tsvangiri, has taken the seat of prime minister and Mugabe has remained
president. This "compromise," however, has been tainted with further abuses
of power by Mugabe, which, again, is why Tsvangiri's fundraising efforts
were less than successful - until now.
If the thinking behind the U.S. and Europe's refusal to provide larger
amounts of aid to Zimbabwe was that reform was still needed (and, while they
don't say it out loud, the U.S. and Europe's leaders are all in almost
universal agreement that Mugabe has to go), then it's possible that China's
billion-dollar loan has given the régime in Zimbabwe as it is currently
consisted a new lease on life.
And, frankly, that's a shame. While, on the one hand, ongoing humanitarian
crises in Zimbabwe need to be addressed and financial aid is one of the only
ways to do this, while Mugabe remains in power, it's likely that corruption
will continue and any aid given to Zimbabwe will be misappropriated. The
Obama administration's strategy seems to have been to keep pressure on
Mugabe through sanctions while giving Zimbabwe's government enough money to
prevent collapse but still keep the heat up. China has attached no such
conditions - it would be foolish to think they would have. China's aid to
Zimbabwe, in the end, is the extension of the people of Zimbabwe's sentence
under the iron heel of Mugabe.
From The Cape Argus (SA), 28 June
The image that stuck was the boy pumping water from a well in the middle of
a desiccated maize field - a trickle of life in a landscape of ruin. In
early June, Weekend Argus photographer Skyler Reid spent five days in
Zimbabwe with South Africa-based NGO Passop (People Against Suffering,
Suppression, Oppression, and Poverty). He visited rural schools in
communities outside Harare and in Masvingo Province. At first glance, Reid
saw the relative stabilisation of the political and financial systems. But
his lens captured the persistence of strife, particularly in the rural areas
where advancement has been tenuous. "You get the feeling that things are
better than it's been for years. The general assumption was things were
working," said Reid. "All these improvements we've heard of - to some extent
they're true, but it has a very temporary feel." In February, amid the
crisis of a cholera outbreak, rampant hunger and runaway inflation,
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai joined a unity government with President
Robert Mugabe. In recent months, inflation has cooled since the switch from
devalued Zimbabwean dollars to US dollars and South African rands. Maize
production is up and civil servants are receiving monthly allowances of
$100. Despite this progress, Reid said the situation still appears dire for
many in Zimbabwe. "Once you got out of the centres it was clear there's
really not much currency going around. The new currency is better but it
doesn't seem to be supporting people." Reid said even for those receiving
government allowances, the prices for goods remained excessively high.
"You'd go into clothing shops and children's shirts would be about $8. If
you've got a family of four to clothe that's almost half of your allowance
for the month."
At a school in Masvingo Province, Reid said half of the 200 pupils were
without shoes. Many of them had to walk up to six hours to get to and from
school, where it appeared the grounds had been abandoned to decay. Windows
were left smashed, doors had holes rusted through them, and textbooks were a
scarce commodity. "Often the teacher would have the only book and they were
in terrible shape - pages torn and yellowed. Kids were using torn off book
covers as exercise sheets." A school outside Harare was in better shape, but
even there many students carried their desks between classrooms. In previous
decades, Zimbabwe's education system was considered one of the best in
Africa, achieving literacy rates of 90 percent. But since the 1990s that
rate has decreased steadily as conditions in the country have deteriorated.
"I talked to a 15-year-old girl who was the oldest of her family still
alive. Everyone older than her is dead so she can't afford to get an
education," said Reid. "What choice does she have?" Schools that were once
free must now charge a fee, although few students are able to pay. "One of
the teachers said the school fees were about $20 a year and of all the kids,
only two had paid in full." Reid visited two young boys who were looked
after by a young teenage girl who was "skinny as a rail". They had a small
pot of food, but their distended stomachs and glassy eyes made Reid wonder
how thin things had been stretched. "Part of you screams to take them back
and take care of them, but you know you can't do that for everyone. They
need the support of the system right now and the system isn't there."
30/06/2009 06:06:00 Rajendra Prasad
US President Barack Obama made a profound statement while speaking at the
Cairo University in Egypt on June 4.
"There are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power;
once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No
matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets
a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your
power through consent, not coercion. You must respect the rights of
minorities and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise. You
must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the
political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections
alone do not make true democracy".
I have not known of any other contemporary leader who spoke with such valour
and candour as Mr Obama did before a testy audience.
Around the world, he won the hearts and applause of people who heard or read
However, his concluding statement resonates across a sick world where
democracy is being used and abused willy-nilly in a majority of countries,
giving the ruling elites an opportunity to ride the gravy train while the
masses remain yoked perennially to struggle under poverty.
Most of these ailing and sick democracies suffer from post-colonial
The Post-Colonial Syndrome
During the colonial era, the largely illiterate masses were massively
exploited, as the colonial authorities chose a few from the masses to aid
and abet their cause, both discreetly and blatantly, to exploit the
indigenous people and/or their resources.
Wherever they found the tribal communities that had established chiefs in
the hierarchy of tribal control and governance, the latter became a part of
the colonial institution.
It facilitated furtherance of colonial hegemony quickly and effectively.
The chiefs became the collective voice of the colonial administration and
exercised authority and control over their people.
The tribal conflicts eased gradually, as the traditional tribal boundaries
were transgressed and the tribes 'unified' politically for ease of colonial
domination and governance.
While the chiefs feasted on the colonial 'crumbs', the ordinary people were
relegated to living subsistence lifestyle, allowing the colonial robbery to
At the time of independence, the colonial lapdogs were groomed to takeover
power, except in cases where independence was given at the behest of local
uprising against the colonial masters.
In such cases, those dominant inherited the mantle of leadership but
wherever possible, the leadership was given to those who were allied to the
The people had the right of franchise at the sunset of colonial rule and
they reacted to sudden devolution of power, as people were blinded by sudden
exposure to light.
Uninitiated in exercise of their democratic powers, they leaned on their
chiefs and leaders, groomed in the colonial stables, and voted for them en
In most cases, the remnants of the colonists propped the government and
retained dominance until they reduced to insignificance.
Domination and exploitation
The post-independence leaders soon learnt the ropes of governance,
domination and exploitation but the colonial spirit was never exorcised.
Soon the local elites emerged, possessed with the colonial spirit of
discrimination, domination and exploitation. With the wealth of the nation
at their feet, they indulged in corruption, nepotism and vices that became
the mainstay of their hold on political power.
In order to retain their power and dominance, in many countries, the Army
became the rogue element to prop the political leaders and share in the
In Zimbabwe, the Army is so strongly embedded in politics that it is
impossible to remove President Mugabe from his perch, as Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangarai, from the opposition camp, attempts to rebuild a country
that was wrecked by Mugabe.
The old rooster, who should be charged for crimes against humanity, has
forced his re-election and the world knows that he does not deserve to be
there but in jail to pay for his crimes.
The United Nations acquiesced to his excesses and remains, to this day,
ambivalent towards him, allowing him to reign and ruin his country.
Mr Tsvanagarai has people on his side but Mugabe has the Army, which he
ruthlessly uses to beat his opponents into submission.
Mugabe claims himself to be a democratically elected leader.
Democracy underwent rapid degeneration in the third world countries.
It has become a huge decoy to elect leaders some of who should be in jail
and definitely not in parliament.
Even India, the world's largest democracy, is reported to have one-fourth of
its lawmakers who have been convicted or are under investigation for various
It is not the size of democracy but the quality that truly matters.
Surely, those who invented it would never have intended or even envisaged
that it will one day be hijacked to allow criminals to be elected to
However, despite such doom and gloom there is a glimmer of hope.
It is heartening to note that the US has accepted the existence of rogue
democracies and President Obama has warned the leaders of such democracies
that they would no longer be judged by the cover but by their content.
Sadly, these so-called democracies have embedded themselves with those that
uphold the values of democracy.
Rogues and decoys
By allowing such rogues to be part of them, politicians across the world are
reviled and perceived to be corrupt, untrustworthy and even dangerous.
Yet, they are ritually elected and expected to be protectors of democracy.
Is it then to be accepted that the world leaders cannot distinguish between
goat and sheep?
Is the warning by President Obama beginning of an era where the rogues will
be identified and disabled from their insidious incursions into the temples
There are opposing views on this issue, as skeptics warn that such rhetoric
is meant to excite and stimulate people and President Obama excels in this
Will he walk his talk? Politicians normally do not! But there are many who
have faith and believe that he is the Messiah who will transform the world.
Indeed, the ship of democracy is now in the dire straits and needs to be
salvaged and restored to its former stature, ensuring that the processes do
not allow people who should be in prison to slip into parliament.
When they do, they easily consolidate their positions and emerge as the
elites, using immoral means to ride the train of democracy that is fuelled
by the blood, sweat and tears of poor.
Their groan and sighs that echo from their struggles are their trumpets that
remain inaudible to the elites. They live in hope but reside in the house of
The democratically elected elites, purportedly being of the people, for the
people and by the people, provide them hope aplenty.
Today, the rapid change in the global climate, caused by global warming, has
rightly caused much alarm. Yet, few have detected that the gravest problem
that we have is not rapid climate change and its consequences but that of
Like the melting of the polar ice, the quality of leadership, selected
through democratic processes has diminished dangerously, particularly in the
third world countries.
The climate change is a serious challenge to humanity and only leaders with
honesty, integrity, vision, wisdom and courage can guide us out of this
But such political sheep shy away in front of the restive political goats,
who get elected, leaving the proverbial sheep out while the goats,
understandably, take their flock to the edge of the cliff!
Rajendra Prasad is our columnist who analyses current affairs and world
issues with ferocious frankness and at times heart-rending poignancy.