Jul 22, 2009, 13:06 GMT
Harare - Controversy over the perceived selective prosecution of prime
minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MPs by officials loyal to President Robert
Mugabe intensified this week after another parliamentary deputy was
sentenced to a jail term that could see him ejected from parliament.
The state-controlled daily Herald reported Wednesday that MP Ernest
Mudavanhu was jailed Tuesday for 18 months on charges of selling 20 tons of
fertiliser given to him last year in a state programme to boost agricultural
He was the fourth MP of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change
to be sent to jail in the last month, while a total of 16 have been charged
with a variety of crimes since Tsvangirai and Mugabe set up a coalition
government in February.
No senior officials of Mugabe's former ruling Zanu-PF party have been
prosecuted, despite about 200 MDC supporters being murdered and thousands
tortured and displaced during his campaign for re-election last year.
'It is total victimisation,' said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa. 'Zanu-PF is
determined to erode the MDC's majority in parliament by using the coercive
apparatus of the state. It is a case of the guilty ones prosecuting the
The MDC currently holds 99 seats in the 210-seat house of assembly, four
more than Zanu-PF.
That number includes two recently convicted MDC MPs, who were suspended from
parliament because of their convictions, even though both are appealing
against their sentences. A sentence of six months or more earns an MP
ejection from parliament.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights head Irene Petras said the suspensions
carried out by parliament's chief clerk, a Zanu-PF member, were unlawful,
given that the MPs appeals had yet to be heard.
'The MPs should immediately be permitted to continue attending parliament,'
Elsewhere, state prosecutors were accused Wednesday of ignoring court orders
to produce documentary evidence against Jestina Mukoko, a leading human
rights defender, who was among 16 activists and MDC officials abducted last
year on charges of insurgency.
The allegations by the state last year of a conspiracy to oust Mugabe by
force were discredited by Zimbabwe's neighbours.
'The judge told the state on Monday to provide their documents immediately,'
her lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said. 'And still nothing. They have produced no
Via MDC-T Press Release - The well-orchestrated plot to persecute MDC MPs
continues, with the latest purge on the MPs being the sentencing to two
years in prison of Zaka North MP, Hon. Ernest Mudavanhu, on Tuesday.
Hon. Mudavanhu was convicted by a Harare magistrate on trumped-up charges of
abusing subsidised farming inputs distributed under the Government's Farm
Hon. Mudavanhu's conviction brings to five the number of MDC MPs convicted
of various crimes while several others continue to face various trumped-up
charges that are still before the courts.
The plot to convict the MPs is a well orchestrated plan by Zanu PF and other
mischievous conspirators in the inclusive government to decimate the party's
majority in parliament.
In its latest plot, Zanu PF, assisted by the Attorney-General's office, has
also targeted five other MDC MPs on spurious charges ranging from kidnapping
to public violence.
As a party of excellence, the MDC does not condone any form of corruption.
We believe that the guilty should face the music but we remain concerned
that only MPs from the MDC are criminals.
The bedrock and home of corruption is in Zanu PF but the wheels of justice
have never moved in that direction. Moreover, even though it is public
knowledge that Zanu PF was at the centre of the political violence that
rocked the nation after the 2008 elections and led to the death of over 500
MDC members, no one from Zanu PF has been arrested.
This selective application of the law is clear testimony that the conviction
of MDC MPs is politically motivated.
Together to the end, marching to a new Zimbabwe
This entry was posted by Sokwanele on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 at 7:06
By Alex Bell
22 July 2009
Two MDC MPs, who were sentenced on trumped up charges this month and who
were both suspended from parliament as a result, will challenge their
suspensions in court, arguing the move is unlawful.
The Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, last week suspended Chipinge East MP
Matthias Mlambo after he was recently sentenced to 10 months in prison by a
Chipinge magistrate, on trumped-up charges of public violence. The following
day, Zvoma also suspended Mutare West MP, Shuah Mudiwa, following his recent
sentence of seven years imprisonment on a charge of kidnapping. Both MPs
have since appealed against their sentences and both are out of prison.
The executive director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Irene
Petras, explained the pair's suspension from parliamentary duties was "null
"The suspension has been ordered despite the fact that both MPs have
appealed against their convictions and sentences and these appeals have yet
to be considered by the courts and/or finalised," she said.
Petras said the Clerk of Parliament had no authority under either the
Constitution of Zimbabwe or the Standing Rules and Orders of the House of
Assembly to suspend any Member of Parliament.
"As such, his actions are null and void," Petras said. "We will be
challenging the unlawful suspensions in court."
Section 42 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe says upon the sentencing of a
legislator to death or a jail term of six months or more, 'such member shall
cease forthwith to exercise his functions . and his seat shall become vacant
at the expiration of 30 days from the date of such sentence.' But because
Mlambo and Mudiwa both won the right to appeal against their sentences, this
allowed them to continue their duties in Parliament, until the matters were
Petras said the action taken by the Clerk of Parliament "usurped the
functions of the judiciary" and violated the principle of separation of
"The unilateral action also violates several fundamental rights and freedoms
which are protected under the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution and
which the State is obliged to ensure, both on behalf of the individuals, and
the constituencies they represent," she said.
The MDC's secretary for Legal and Parliamentary affairs, Innocent Gonese,
voiced his support for the MPs' court challenges over their suspensions,
saying, "The whole process smacks of double standards." He explained that
other MPs, namely from ZANU PF, have escaped the same measures despite
charges being laid against them.
"The law is being applied selectively and it is not in our (the MDC's)
favour," Gonese said.
The MDC's parliamentary majority meanwhile is fast diminishing after another
legislator was jailed for corruption this week. Ernest Mudavanhu was handed
a two year jail term after he was convicted of corruption involving the
diversion of agricultural inputs from the government. He will serve a year
in jail after a Harare magistrate Olivia Mariga suspended half of the
sentence, with six months for good behaviour and six months on condition he
pays a hefty restitution.
In a statement, the MDC said: "The MDC is concerned by the continued
persecution of its MPs, officials and party activists. The plot to convict
the MPs is a well orchestrated plan by ZANU PF and other mischievous
conspirators in the inclusive government to decimate the party's majority in
By Alex Bell
22 July 2009
Cracks of disunity in the coalition government have continued to appear more
than five months after the unity formation came into being, and there is
still no word from the South African Development Community (SADC) on
Serious human rights violations, including assaults and arrests, as well as
what appears to be a deliberate plot to whittle down the MDC majority in
Parliament, are said to be creating serious and understandable discord in
the unity formation. Yet another MDC legislator was jailed this week on
spurious charges, while two MDC MPs were unlawfully suspended from
parliament. At the same time, the fight over the reformation of the
constitution has now sparked fears of a resurgence of violence, after it
emerged that ZANU PF had deployed youth militia and war veterans to lead a
campaign for support of the Kariba Draft, favoured by Mugabe. Youth militia
in schools have already seen teachers flee their posts out of fear of
renewed persecution, after what happened during last year's political
So while the government leaders have slowly come to agreement on a few
issues - most recently an agreement to convene the National Security
Council - critical reforms are clearly still a long way off.
The MDC earlier this year sent a letter to SADC to intervene on the
outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), a role SADC, as
guarantors of the deal, is meant to fulfil. The MDC also presented a
document detailing more than 700 incidents of breaches of the GPA by Robert
Mugabe and ZANU PF, but to date there has been no move by SADC to address
A summit that was mooted to begin at the end of this month is now widely
believed to have been set down for September. It is understood that despite
the plea for intervention from the MDC, the regional body is waiting for its
first report from the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC),
which is expected in mid-August, more than six months after the government
was formed. JOMIC, a tripartite group of high-level party members, is
supposed to ensure that the unity government adheres to the GPA in full.
JOMIC is comprised of four members of the Mutambara MDC (Professor Welshman
Ncube, Frank Chamunorwa, Edward Mkhosi and Priscilla Misihairambi-Mushonga),
four members of the Tsvangirai MDC (Elton Mangoma, Elias Mudzuri, Tabita
Khumalo and Innocent Changonda) and four members from ZANU PF (Nicholas
Goche, Patrick Chinamasa, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Oppah Muchinguri.)
MDC national spokesperson Nelson Chamisa on Wednesday explained there has
been no response from SADC and there is an urgent need for the regional body
to intervene. He also said there was frustration and anger within the party
over what he called the 'non-existence' of JOMIC, saying the group had done
nothing to ensure the implementation of the GPA.
"JOMIC is toothless, comatose even, and they have let people down," Chamisa
said. "If they report back to SADC it will only be about JOMIC's death and
Tony Blair has called for Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe to be "toppled"
as soon as possible.
By Sebastien Berger, Southern Africa Correspondent, and Allan Hall In Berlin
Published: 5:04PM BST 22 Jul 2009
In an interview with German news magazine Stern he said: "If you can do,
then you should do it.
"I think whoever has the possibility should topple Mugabe - the man has
destroyed his country, many people have died unnecessarily because of him."
Mr Blair's comments do not specifically refer to military action but he
hinted that intervention may be needed.
"My idea of foreign policy is that if you can do something, you should do
it," he said.
"But of course you have to operate carefully within precise boundaries."
Britain did not take direct action against Mr Mugabe during Mr Blair's time
in office, aside from the imposition of targeted sanctions against the
A unity government was formed in Zimbabwe with the former opposition
Movement for Democratic Change earlier this year but critics say Mr Mugabe
has no intention of genuinely sharing power.
A spokesman for Tony Blair said: "These are comments which Mr Blair has made
many times before. His answers were in response to a question on the case
for intervention against brutal dictators. He also went on to make it
absolutely clear that it was obviously something that we couldn't do in
practice everywhere, and so didn't."
July 22, 2009
HARARE – The all-powerful security chiefs have finally agreed to attend the inaugural meeting of the Zimbabwe National Security Council that has now been slotted for Thursday next week, July 30.
Official sources have told The Zimbabwe Times that all the commanders have confirmed their attendance of the maiden meeting, also expected to be attended by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, whose authority the generals have steadfastly refused to recognize so far.
The generals had previously boycotted three meetings starting on May 15 in open contempt for Tsvangirai’s leadership.
The new security think-tank will replace the shadowy Joint Operations Command, an informal group of top army, police, Central Intelligence (CIO) and Air Force commanders.
Confirmation of this first meeting signals a major step-forward for the Prime Minister and his deputy Arthur Mutambara, who are said to have met with Mugabe on Monday over the issue.
Tsvangirai and Mutambara are said to have reinforced their demand for the conclusion of implementation of all outstanding issue in the government of national unity, a demand that also ran through Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s supplementary budget.
The two principals were said to have told Mugabe that the failure to regularize the meeting of the Security Council was sending wrong signals to the donor community and precluding Zimbabwe from desperately needed financial assistance, official sources said.
James Maridadi, the Prime Minister’s chief spokesman said he would check with security staff on confirmation of the council’s maiden meeting and get back to The Zimbabwe Times, but had not done so at the time of publishing.
An official source close to the talks said Mutambara had told Mugabe that the generals were violating the law and the Constitution by their continued refusal to recognize the Prime Minister’s office which is enshrined in the Constitution through Amendment No. 19, which gave birth to the inclusive government.
“It’s a significant achievement by the Prime Minister and a clear realization by the residual elements that they can’t stop the momentum,” said a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office. “If you can’t beat them, join them.”
Official sources say Mugabe had by implication continued to approve the holding of JOC meetings, despite the implied disbanding of the committee by the inclusive government through the establishment of the Security Council.
The Global Political Agreement does not expressly state that the JOC has been dissolved, however, a pretext reportedly cited by the army generals as they continued to meet Mugabe on JOC business.
The National Security Council is widely expected to be a much more democratic outfit than its predecessor the JOC and is expected to eradicate the excesses of the country’s security forces.
The Security Council is expected to supervise the operations of the army, police and the CIO, following the murderous reign of the JOC last year.
The JOC, which was chaired by Emerson Mnangagwa, violently overturned President Mugabe’s devastating electoral loss in the historic March general election through mass deployments of army personnel throughout the countryside to intimidate the electorate ahead of a presidential run-off election which was eventually boycotted by Mugabe’s rival Tsvangirai on June 27. The MDC leader cited violence and restrictions on his campaign as reasons for the pullout.
The senior security personnel coordinated violent attacks and assassinations of opposition figures, leaving over 200, mainly MDC supporters, dead.
There has been fierce resistance by the generals to the establishment of the Security Council, and the confirmation of next week’s meeting marks a dramatic climb-down by them.
The National Security Council Bill sailed through Parliament on February 10, but Mugabe sat on the bill for three months before signing it into law as sparks flew between him and security chiefs over sharp differences on the council, which the generals saw as stripping them of all their power.
After the bill was signed into law, service chiefs boycotted at least three monthly meetings.
Next week’s meeting is important, official sources say, because it sets new rules for the country’s security forces. The council is widely expected to ensure that security forces comply with the Constitution, in the way they discharge their duties. The new council will receive and consider national security reports and provide direction on how the country’s security forces operate.
President Mugabe will chair the council, which will also include the two Vice Presidents, Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru, as well as Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his two deputies, Thokozani Khuphe and Mutambara. The ministers responsible for Finance, Defence and Home Affairs as well as one minister each nominated by the three political parties are also members.
The Commander of the Defence Forces, the Commanders of the Army and Air Force, the Commissioner-General of Police and the Commissioner of Prisons, the Director General of the Department of State for National Security will all be ex-officio members of the Security Council.
July 22, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his partners under the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) will on Friday come together to commission three days which
have been set aside by government to observe national healing in Zimbabwe.
This follows a Presidential proclamation last week which designated the
period between this Friday and Sunday as the days to mark the dedication of
The three days, which shall not be public holidays, will see church groups,
traditional leaders and spirit mediums leading rituals all in the name of
"This process would be led by the signatories to the GPA at a ceremony that
has been scheduled for Friday, July 24 at the Rainbow Towers ," John Nkomo,
one of the three co-ministers in charge of Zimbabwe's organ on national
healing, integration and reconciliation told journalists Wednesday.
Nkomo, a Zanu-PF minister, said the national healing process would focus on
the pre- and post-independence period, and would be followed by a programme
in which the ministers will visit provinces to reinforce the spirit of
He refused to outline the programme saying they were still trying to engage
experts to study the mindsets of Zimbabweans on how they wanted the emotive
subject to be dealt with.
Nkomo said since their appointment as ministers in charge of national
healing, they had met church representatives, traditional leaders, trade
unionists, war veterans civic organizations to gauge their opinion on how
they want the process to be conducted.
He said the national healing organ, which was incepted at the formation of
the unity government in February this year, will not give in to pressure by
groups agitating for the incorporation of justice on perpetrators of
He said justice would be done in a Zimbabwean way where emphasis would be on
"We will concentrate on addressing the causes and not the symptoms," he
"Virtually no one has not suffered some form of injustice," said Nkomo. "No
one has not been a victim at one time or another. They may be very few who
have not been perpetrators at one time or another.
"All of us have gone through injustices. We have been victims and probably
we are the best people to oversee this process."
Sekai Holland, co-minister from the Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) said conflict resolution in Zimbabwe would be done
in the true African way.
"In the traditional African society, the concept of justice is different
because it is all inclusive.
"When the pre-colonial period started, there were no jails. That did not
mean there was no crime. There was a way of dealing with conflict together.
"Our form of justice does not separate people. Rather, it forces them to
come together and to deal with the problems decisively.
"The environment has to promote the togetherness of the people so together
they can look for solutions to the problems without any discrimination."
Gibson Sibanda, the third co-minister who comes from the Arthur
Mutambara-led MDC, said those calling for justice were people who had
ironically benefited from the 1980 blanket amnesty which was announced by
Mugabe, then newly elected Zimbabwean leader.
The ministers, however, conceded the continuation of violence in some areas
in Zimbabwe but said the problem was not serious enough to derail the
national healing process.
But some observers have criticized the secretive manner in which the three
ministers have elected to handle the crucial matter.
Victims of political violence are calling for some form of compensation for
deaths, injuries, theft of livestock and some transgressions that they were
repeatedly subjected to by the perpetrators.
Thousands of Zimbabweans have, since independence in 1980, been subjected to
recurrent acts of State-sponsored political violence mostly on supporters of
Victims variously estimated at up to 20 000 died at the hands of President
Mugabe's North Korean-trained Five Brigade in the early 1980s in the
Matebeleland and Midlands provinces.
The country witnessed a recurrence of political violence following the
rejection of a government-sponsored constitution in the 2000 constitutional
Between 200 and 300 mostly MDC supporters were killed by vindictive Zanu-PF
militants who were out to punish Zimbabweans for voting against Mugabe in
the 2008 presidential elections.
But as government unveils its national healing programme, some MDC
legislators are still being taken to court for cases which the MDC says are
By Tichaona Sibanda
22 July 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is set to meet SADC chairman and South
African President Jacob Zuma over the weekend, in an attempt to push the
regional bloc to convene an urgent meeting and deal with the remaining
issues in the Global Political Agreement.
Zuma, who holds the rotating chairmanship of SADC, was sent a letter by
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara two months ago, asking for assistance in
resolving outstanding disputes in the inclusive government.
A SADC meeting was mooted for the end of this month but reports suggest it
might be deferred until some time in September, forcing Tsvangirai to seek
an urgent meeting with Zuma.
James Maridadi, Tsvangirai's spokesman, confirmed the Prime Minister was
expected to be in Johannesburg by Friday evening for a scheduled meeting
It is understood Tsvangirai is hugely frustrated by the lack of progress in
solving the thorniest issues in the GPA, after Robert Mugabe on Monday
apparently refused to budge on his re-appointment of Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana. The three principals have
since declared a deadlock on these two issues, meriting intervention from
SADC as guarantors of the deal.
Meanwhile the three principals, during their Monday meeting, agreed that the
National Security Council, which had still not met since the formation of
the government will convene for the first time next week Thursday and
thereafter on a weekly basis.
Ambassadors from the MDC-T and MDC-M will be appointed on the 1st September.
According to MDC sources Roy Bennett, the deputy minister of Agriculture
designate, will finally be sworn in, together with governors from the two
MDC formations in September.
The MDC accuse Mugabe of not being serious and not moving on any of the main
outstanding issues in the GPA. On Wednesday Tsvangirai met members of his
parliamentary caucus who expressed concern over the high number of arrests
and convictions of MDC MPs in the last two months.
The MDC MPs warned their party President that illegal acts by militia and
security forces against MDC supporters and officials could provoke a serious
deterioration in the situation in the country.
Mathias Mlambo, the MDC MP for Chipinge East, said that various legislators
told Tsvangirai they were very concerned about the increasing number of MP
arrests and emerging acts of violence by ZANU PF.
By Violet Gonda
22 July 2009
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, the Minister for Public Service, announced on Tuesday
an increase in allowances for civil servants starting this month. Teachers
will see their allowances go from $100 a month to $145 (after bank charges
and taxes) while doctors will receive $170.
However, the salary increases have not been received well by the Progressive
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), which has described the increases as an
insult to the teaching profession. PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou said
teachers have now been put in grade D with a gross salary of US$165, which
is a net salary of $155 and that is reduced further to $145, after bank
charges. He said teachers feel betrayed as the salaries are still
unreasonably low. The union has resolved to continue with its weekly Friday
Furthermore the teaching fraternity is not happy that the pay day has been
changed from Tuesday to next Monday. Zhou said many teachers had travelled
to the cities to get their salaries, only to be told that they will receive
their money on 27th July.
Leaders of the union have lashed out at Finance Minister Tendai Biti and
Mukonoweshuro, as they say they are maintaining the ZANU PF hard-line stance
PTUZ Secretary General Raymond Majongwe is quoted by the website Kubatana
saying: "Tendai Biti has continued and perpetuated the Zanu PF way of doing
things . . .that he sits with whoever he sits with and he makes his
presentations like Father Christmas without prior consultations with
relevant stakeholders like trade unions."
Zhou said it is on the basic principles of social engagement that his union
is criticising the Finance Minister who went on to announce 'a budget
insulting to teachers' without consultation.
With respect to Professor Mukonoweshuro, Zhou said: "We were hoping that
this was a man, coming from a labour background and representing the MDC-T,
would perhaps operate a new system. Unfortunately he has maintained the
status quo and continues to run the Public Service as if it was run by ZANU
We were not able to reach the Public Service Minister, but Zhou claimed
Professor Mukonoweshuro 'only consults' trade unions that are perceived to
tow the government line - such as the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA).
He said: "On Tuesday the Public Service Commission met with the Apex Council
(which engages with unions and civil servants) and unfortunately we were not
even invited and we were not even privy to the discussions that took place."
But the teachers' body did have praise for their Education Minister, David
Coltart. Zhou said Coltart is like former Education Ministers Dzingai
Mutumbuka and Fay Chung, who listened and engaged all parties. "But
unfortunately he is not getting the compliments he should be getting from
the Public Service Commission, from Professor Mukonoweshuro as well as from
his permanent Secretary Dr. Steven Manyere," said the PTUZ President.
by Cuthbert Nzou Wednesday 22 July 2009
HARARE - The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
said on Tuesday that Zimbabwe remained at risk of a fresh outbreak of
cholera once the next rainy season starts in less than five months time.
The OCHA said in a report released yesterday that structural causes at the
root of the current epidemic that killed more than 4 000 people over the
past 11 months had not been addressed and could trigger another outbreak
during the approaching rain season.
"As the next rainy season approaches, there are, however, fears of another
cholera outbreak because the structural causes of the current epidemic have
not been fully addressed," the OCHA report said.
It added: "These include broken down and anachronistic water and sanitation
infrastructure characterised by burst sewer systems and water pipes, often
resulting in sewerage contaminating water before it reaches household
The OCHA said the current epidemic had reached its tail end as indicated by
the lower number of cases and deaths being reported.
By 15 July 2009, the cumulative number of cases of cholera infections
reported since August 2008 was 98 592, an increase of 61 new cases from the
98 531 cases recorded by the same time in June.
The number of cumulative deaths was 4 288 representing an increase of six
from the 4 282 reported at the same time last month, with 2 631 community
deaths in mid-July, which shows an increase by one from 2 630 in mid-June,
according to OCHA.
The UN humanitarian arm said most Zimbabweans had no access to safe water,
raising the risk of catching cholera in the event of an outbreak.
"The challenge of limited safe water and frequent water cuts that force
people to resort to unsafe sources including shallow wells, ponds and dams
among others, has not been addressed," the agency said.
"The revised Consolidated Appeal for 2009, partners in the water, sanitation
and hygiene (WASH) cluster estimate that six million people in Zimbabwe have
limited or no access to safe water.
"Further, some rural areas have extremely low latrine coverage, resulting in
unhygienic practices that lead to the contamination of water sources during
the rainy season. A combination of these factors increases the risk of
populations contracting cholera."
The organisation said weaknesses in water and sanitation services were
further compounded by a fragile health delivery system.
"Although the health system has improved since the onset of the outbreak,
with more services being available and accessible, it still needs further
strengthening. In addition, despite an improvement in health information
delivery including the weekly rapid disease notification system, many health
facilities still lack quick and easy access to communication equipment for
reporting," the OCHA said.
Given this scenario, the UN agency said, the humanitarian community's focus
was on preventing another large-scale cholera outbreak. - ZimOnline
by Cuthbert Nzou Wednesday 22 July 2009
HARARE - A Zimbabwean magistrate will next week decide whether to refer the
case of two editors of a privately-owned weekly newspaper - facing charges
of publishing or communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state - to the
Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure, the editor and the news editor of
the Zimbabwe Independent, want their case referred to the Supreme Court that
hears constitutional matters for a determination of the constitutionality of
provisions of the Criminal Law under which they are charged.
Magistrate Moses Murendo yesterday said he would make a ruling on July 30 on
the application by the journalists and their newspaper's finance director
Michael Curling who is representing the company in the matter.
In their application, the journalists are arguing that Section 31 of the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which attracts a maximum of 20
years in prison, infringed Section 20 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which
guarantees freedom of expression.
The scribes said it was important that the country's highest court decides
on the constitutionality of the provisions as it was a matter of public
The law, they averred, was a hindrance to the practice of journalism and was
not necessary in a democracy.
"The issue for determination by the Supreme Court should be whether Section
31 in its present construction contravenes Section 20 of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe. It is respectfully submitted that this is a fundamental question
in the development of our constitutional law and in particular it has a
fundamental impact on the activities of our media," the journalists argued
in their application.
The state has asked the magistrate to dismiss the application by the
journalists saying it was "frivolous and vexatious".
Charges against the two journalists arose on May 8 this year when they
published a story claiming that a group of political activists from Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party who were abducted and severely
tortured by unknown people last year where in fact in the custody of state
security agents during the time they were reported missing.
The MDC activists are accused of committing acts of banditry, terrorism and
plotting to overthrow Mugabe - charges widely seen as trumped up.
The Zimbabwe Independent said in its story that indictment papers for trial
of the activists in the High Court showed that the activists were either in
the custody of the state's spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) or
the police during the period they were reported missing. - ZimOnline
by Cuthbert Nzou Wednesday 22 July 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's largest labour movement yesterday criticised the
government for approving a scheme to import vehicles for parliamentarians
instead of buying locally assembled vehicles.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said it was "perturbed" that
the Ministry of Finance would facilitate the importation of vehicles for the
over 300 lawmakers.
"This is at a time when the country is going through a rough period and
government cannot afford to pay civil service decent salaries," ZCTU acting
secretary-general Japhet Moyo said in a statement.
"Members of Parliament should have led by example to promote local auto
industry. If all this money was poured into the local auto industry,
thousands of workers would have been ensured of an income and a certain
degree of job security," said Moyo.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti reportedly told a parliamentary caucus meeting
last week that government has approved a scheme for lawmakers to import
vehicles from suppliers of their choice.
Biti reportedly said the legislators were free to approach any dealer other
than the local Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries.
Minister Biti and the legislators have been at loggerheads on the sourcing
of vehicles with the former insisting that they should get the Mazda BT50
model from local assembler WMMI, which the lawmakers opposed arguing that
the vehicle was ill-suited for rough terrain.
After a standoff that lasted more than a month, Minister Biti convened a
joint caucus meeting last week where he told the MPs they were free to
obtain vehicles from sources of their choice.
But he told them the WMMI deal had the advantage that they would also be in
a position to import another vehicle duty-free.
This irked the ZCTU.
The union said: "On behalf of the Zimbabwean workers, the ZCTU is dismayed
that legislators are not concerned about promoting the local industry
more-so at a time when the country is going through an economic crunch.
"Workers at car making and assembling plants are facing a bleak future and
our lawmakers choose to promote and secure jobs for workers in foreign
lands. Local workers have been put on forced leave while others face
retrenchments because companies are failing to generate enough business,"
Moyo said. - ZimOnline
By Brenda Moyo & Sandra Nyaira
21 July 2009
The formation of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change led by Deputy
Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said Tuesday that its expulsion of three
parliamentarians from its ranks would strengthen the party, though others
saw the move as destabilizing.
The party's disciplinary committee on Monday expelled Abedniko Bhebhe, who
represents the Nkayi South constituency, Njabuliso Mguni, representing
Lupane East and Norman Mpofu of Bulilima East for alleged indiscipline and
subordination. All of the constituencies concerned are in the western region
of Matabeleland, a stronghold for the MDC formation.
Party spokesman Renson Gasela told reporter Brenda Moyo of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that officials tried to reason with the expelled lawmakers
before expelling them.
The newly revived Zimbabwe African Patriotic Union, or ZAPU party meanwhile
said it is eyeing with great interest the three seats which seem likely to
be vacated, and is ready to contest by-elections, said ZAPU Communications
and Marketing Director Methuseli Moyo.
Meanwhile analysts concluded that the turmoil in the Mutambara MDC formation
poses a major challenge to the stability of the national unity government -
the deputy prime minister is one of the three signatories to the September
2008 Global Political Agreement which formed the basis for the national
unity government assembled in February.
Political sources said that shortly before the expulsions, party Secretary
General Welshman Ncube and Vice President Gibson Sibanda apologized to party
faithfuls in Bulawayo for naming Mutambara president of the formation. They
said ethnic Ndebeles have for too long held secondary positions and promised
to address this in the next elections.
Political analyst John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe described those
statements as unfortunate, unbecoming of national leaders and contrary to
the unity government spirit.
Makumbe said chaos in the Mutambara MDC reflected poor management within the
party and could cost the two MDC formations - the dominant grouping is led
by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai - its parliamentary majority of about 10
Three legislators from Tsvangirai's MDC risk losing their seats due to
convictions on charges which the party says were trumped up by officials in
the judiciary loyal to ZANU-PF.
Commenting in his personal capacity, Fambai Ngirande, a spokesman for the
National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, said the expulsions
show there is trouble not only in the MDC formation but in the broader
national unity government.
Reached for comment, Mutambara told VOA that he only wanted to discuss the
future of Zimbabwe, not internal party issues.
By Jonga Kandemiiri and Chris Gande
21 July 2009
Many Zimbabwean teachers became agitated Tuesday to find that neither their
accustomed US$100 monthly allowances or the increased salary promised by the
finance minister last week had been posted to their bank accounts as
An emergency meeting was called between Education and Public Service
ministries and representatives of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association. But the
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, the main union, was not represented
in that meeting, sources said.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said last week that state employees as of this
month would see an increase in their monthly allowances, though he did not
indicate the exact amount.
Teachers have been demanding a base salary of US$454.00 a month.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association General Secretary Richard Gundani told VOA
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that government officials promised salaries will
be paid next Monday.
Education Minister David Coltart told reporter Chris Gande that delays were
unavoidable because the re-introduction of salaries meant more
administrative work to provide for taxes and other deductions, promising
salaries would be paid within a few more days.
By Patience Rusere
21 July 2009
U.S. diplomat Charles Ray, nominated by President Barack Obama to be the
next ambassador to Zimbabwe, appeared Tuesday before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee which held nomination hearings on appointments of envoys
to a number African posts.
The career diplomat fielded questions from Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold,
chairman of the committee, and ranking Republican John Isakson, touching on
China's relationship with the country and the transitional unity government
now in place in Harare.
Ray said that if confirmed, "I will continue our efforts to assist the
people of Zimbabwe in their pursuit of a representative, democratically
elected government that respects human rights, adheres to the rule of law,
and undertakes the economic reforms necessary to bring prosperity back to
Zimbabwe and and contribute to growth and stability in the region."
Queried by Feingold on China's role in Zimbabwe, Ray said he would draw on
his experience as a diplomat in Asia - including four years in Beijing - to
develop understanding of China's role in Zimbabwe "and how that can
complement what we are doing."
Isakson asked for Ray's thoughts on the unity government in Harare and
President Robert Mugabe's role in it. He responded: "I'm not sure that we
can depend on Mr. Mugabe being cooperative. The key is to help the
reform-minded members of all parties in Zimbabwe to develop the capacity...a
certain level of economic stability and progress despite his presence and to
watch that progress closely to see if it is real progress or just fake
In the same hearings Tuesday the committee heard from ambassadorial nominees
to Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Guinea, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania,
Uganda and the African Union.
Ray served as U.S. ambassador to Cambodia from 2002 to 2005. A member of the
State Department Foreign Service since 1983, following his retirement from
the U.S. Army a year earlier with the rank of major, he has also been posted
to China, Thailand and Vietnam.
The African-American diplomat served as deputy chief of mission in Sierra
Since 2006 Ray has been deputy assistant secretary of defense for prisoners
of war and missing personnel affairs.
By KING SHANGO
Published on: 21st July, 2009
HARARE - At a recent meeting with the MDC legislative caucus, Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai was briefed about the humanitarian crisis in the
countryside where-in access to cash and poverty was said to be drastically
The MDC Parliamentarians and Senators told the MDC president about the
suffering of the people in the country and the struggle to get US dollars.
The situation was grim, they told a miffed Tsvangirai, sources said.
The President was also briefed by the MPs on the humanitarian crisis and
transport shortage that has seen transport operators and other business
people raising charges for their goods and services in US dollars and the
critical shortage of fuel.
This, the MDC President was told, was just a telling reminder on how
untenable and unbearable life had become in the country as everything was
being charged in foreign currency which the ordinary people in the
countryside did not possess.
Tsvangirai, who met the MPs secretively to sound them out on the ongoing
convictions and the determination to slash the party's parliamentary
majority, said it was only through the full implementation of the global
political agreement that the current problems facing the country could be
zim NET radio heard by an official who attended the meeting that members
were in concert that there was an apparent attempt by Zanu-PF to downsize
the MDC's slim but crucial parliamentary majority as evidenced by suspension
of MPs from Parliament well as the continued harassment and arrests of MDC
Tsvangirai was said to have warned and advised the parliamentarians to be
vigilant in light of Zanu-PF machinations to target them, councilors and MDC
structures through legal and extra-legal means.
The MDC President also said the continued refusal to fully implement GPA
issues such as the RBZ governor and AG's appointments, the swearing in of
Roy Bennett and provincial governors as well as farm invasions were a slap
in the face of the GNU, saying it had proved beyond any shadow of doubt that
Zanu-PF was not sincere in sticking to the letter and spirit of the GPA.
Recently the MDC National Executive reiterated the party's position that
there has to be finality on the outstanding issues in the GPA, whether in
success or in failure.
Updated on 22 July 2009
By Channel 4 News
New evictions of farm workers and the vulnerable are forcing an estimated
150,000 out of work and the problem is going unnoticed, writes Helen.
Isaac was wearing patched, grey cotton trousers and a very thin red jersey
and I could see he was cold. I greeted him and we stood on the road chatting
for a few minutes, both trying to absorb a bit of warmth from the weak
I first met Isaac four years ago in the winter of 2005 when his wooden
cottage had been demolished by government bulldozers in what was called
Operation Murambatsvina (clear out the rubbish).
Isaac was one of an estimated 600,000 people who were made homeless around
the country in the government's cruel winter demolition and he had arrived
in the neighbourhood desperately looking for somewhere to stay - a room,
shed, the back of a garage, anywhere.
Isaac found the friend of a distant relation who cleared out a garden shed
for him and he moved in.
That was the second time Isaac had lost everything.
Isaac was originally a farm worker. He grew up on a commercial farm where
his parents lived and worked. After attending the farm school but not doing
very well, Isaac started working on the farm and stayed with the same farmer
on the same property for over twenty years.
A lifetime of caring for the environment and producing has been turned
into destruction by necessity.
Isaac lost his job, home and security in 2004 when the farm was taken over
by a senior government politician and the farmer and all the farm workers
Isaac knows all about growing maize and tobacco and about horses and rearing
cattle - but nothing about living in a Zimbabwean town where 90 per cent of
people are unemployed.
For a year he pushed a wheelbarrow into the bush every day, chopped trees
and sold firewood - it was all he could find to do to survive and pay the
rent for the one room cottage.
Isaac said he often didn't have enough to eat but he resisted the urge to
follow others who went gold panning - that was just too dangerous. Isaac
came back with his loaded wheelbarrow one afternoon and his cottage was
gone - demolished by the same government that had evicted him from the farm
he had lived on all his life.
The ex-farm worker, twice a victim, shook his head sadly as we talked about
the latest evictions of workers from commercial farms. None of us can
understand why, six months after the MDC entered government, the nightmare
on farms is still going on.
"They've got no power," Isaac said, referring to the MDC and the obvious
stranglehold Zanu PF still has over the country.
Since February 2009 an estimated 150,000 farm workers and ex-farm workers
have lost their jobs and been forced to leave their homes on commercial
These are new evictions which are going virtually unnoticed by the new
government and they include not only farm workers but women, the elderly,
orphans and people in poor health according to a recent report by the
Refugee Council. On one farm in Odzi, (north east Zimbabwe) 114 men, women
and children have been camped out in the bush for three weeks since being
evicted from a farm by a Zanu PF government official.
The secretary general of GAPWUZ, the farm workers union, Gertrude Hambira
has described the evictions as: "a cruel attack on helpless people.' In a
recent independent newspaper, Hambira said: "This so called land reform is
just a political game with no genuine desire to give land to landless
Isaac and I parted company both saying nothing has changed. He doesn't hold
out any hope of ever being able to do what he knows and does best: growing
food and rearing livestock.
If anyone should have benefited from land seizures, it should have been the
farm workers but the one million like Isaac now chop trees, dig for diamonds
and pan for gold. A lifetime of caring for the environment and producing has
been turned into destruction by necessity.
moonlight as criminals
Rampant inflation, unofficially estimated at trillions of percent annually, saw the local currency withdrawn from circulation in April 2009 and officially replaced by foreign currencies, such as the South African rand, Botswana pula and US dollar.
A serving Zimbabwe National Army officer, who declined to be identified, told IRIN that junior soldiers and police officers were being driven to crime by desperation, as they suffered the same economic hardships as most of the population. However, unlike non-uniformed Zimbabweans - 94 percent of whom are thought to be unemployed - soldiers and police, like all public servants, enjoy a US$100 monthly wage.
"They have observed how senior security officers drive luxury cars, get free fuel for their multiple farms, and other benefits. Soldiers and police officers have no other skills which they can use to raise extra money - all they can do is to use guns, but when they get used to that lifestyle, they can easily become warlords," the army officer said.
"From a security point of view, what this means is there are underground armies, which can even be a danger to national security because nobody knows how many there are, and how many weapons are in their hands," he commented.
In late 2008, at the height of hyperinflation, soldiers embarked on a looting spree in the capital, Harare, over poor pay and non-payment. They were being paid in local currency, but maximum daily bank withdrawals were pegged at Z$500,000 (US$0.25). Soldiers also attacked Roadport, a regional bus station in Harare used by money changers, and robbed them of local and foreign currency.
Political journalist Dumisani Muleya told IRIN that since the beginning of 2009, local newspapers have been awash with headlines like: "Four detectives face robbery charges", and "Bank Heist: Two cops in court", which illustrated the trend among security force personnel to resort to crime.
The dollarized economy has made goods and services more freely available, but at high prices, which was "causing some rogue elements within the security ... [forces] to use armed robbery as a way of raising extra income ... and that creates a climate of insecurity and instability," he said.
The numerous wars fought in the region, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring Mozambique, have made it easier for criminals to access weapons, as have the policies instituted by President Robert Mugabe's government prior to the power-sharing deal that led to the formation of the unity government in February 2009.
Giles Mutsekwa of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who heads the home affairs ministry with a counterpart from ZANU-PF as part of the deal, told IRIN that rogue elements were using government-issue guns to commit armed robberies, but the government was "getting on top of the situation, and there is no need for the population or visitors to get worried".
Handing out guns
During the violent 2008 presidential election period, guns were issued to government security personnel to intimidate people into voting for the ruling ZANU-PF.
"We have started a process to ensure that all guns that were issued are brought back, and that a complete
We believe that when all the
guns are surrendered, then we will be able to manage and control the upsurge of
armed robberies involving serving and ex-servicemen and -women
Mutsekwa said there were also concerns about National Youth Service graduates, a pro-ZANU-PF youth militia who received "national values" education and military training, which was believed to include firearms instruction.
"We long identified the potential danger posed by former members of the youth service to communities if they continue to be unemployed while living in abject poverty, and those are areas that we are also looking into as a security ministry."
By Ish Mafundikwa
21 July 2009
Zimbabwe's wildlife conservation reputation has taken a knock in the past
few years and there are fears the recent surge in the poaching of the black
rhino will lead to the animal's extinction in the country.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species [CITES] says
there has been an increase in the poaching of the rhino for its horn
wherever the animal is found, but the situation is particularly bad in
Zimbabwe. VOA asked Raoul du Toit of the Lowveld Rhino Trust, a rhino
conservation organization what is driving the poachers.
Du Toit says, "Part of it is obviously the national situation in Zimbabwe
where there is reduced law enforcement and part of it is the growing demand
for rhino horn, the growing Chinese foot print in Africa, Vietnamese
footprint in Africa and the fact that the markets are now really fueling
poaching in a very aggressive way."
The rhino horn is believed to have medicinal properties in some Asian
countries where it is used as an aphrodisiac and in the Middle East as
handles for ceremonial daggers.
Du Toit added that Zimbabwe had seemingly got on top of the situation when a
similar surge in poaching happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He
said the rhino population had actually increased, but all the good work is
being undone and the falling rhino numbers are once again a cause for great
concern. He put the number of rhino poached in Zimbabwe since 2006 at as
high as 250.
National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Director General Morris
Mtsambiwa agreed the situation is a cause for concern, but said an Emergency
Rhino Protection Plan has been put into place to counter the poachers. He
says his department; the police, the army and rangers from wildlife
conservancies are involved in the program, which he says has been
He pointed to the killing of six poachers since the beginning of the year as
proof of action being taken, but he said the country's economic problems are
hindering a more effective response to the poaching.
Mtsambiwa says, "You can hear that poachers have come into an area and you
want to deploy whether by aircraft or by road but if fuel is not available
you have difficulties."
Organizations such as du Toit's Lowveld Rhino Trust are also involved in the
relocation of rhinos to areas where it is easier to protect them.
Mtsambiwa said despite all these efforts some Zimbabweans, including those
in position of authority, are involved in the poaching. He admitted some
rangers from his own department were arrested for their involvement.
A recent article in The Standard, a local weekly newspaper said two Cabinet
ministers from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF Party are being
investigated for poaching. The reports said Environmental and Natural
Resources Management Minister Francis Nhema admitted senior ZANU-PF
officials were implicated in the rhino poaching.
Lowveld Rhino Trust's du Toit also blamed the courts for not being harsh
enough on those poachers captured alive for sentences to act as a deterrent,
but Mtsambiwa says his department is continually engaging judicial officials
and the situation is changing.
Mtsambiwa explains, "We have just had fines for poaching rhinos increased to
$120,000 from a mere $1,500. You know when someone does not understand
something, they even put more weight than the endangered rhino so these are
things that we are explaining to them."
Du Toit and Mtsambiwa agree that while the rhino gets most of the attention
because it is endangered, wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe in general is
facing many challenges. Du Toit said Zimbabwe once had what he described as
a proud record in conservation, but the country is compromising some of its
He said wild dogs, which are also endangered, are also under threat as they
get caught in snares set up by people hunting for meat. Of the animals that
do not seem to be attracting that much attention he singled out the zebra.
He explains, "What we have seen particularly in southern Zimbabwe is growing
commercial poaching of zebra for their hide. Those hides are smuggled across
the Limpopo river to South Africa and marketed in South Africa and exported
from South Africa to European markets at pretty high values."
Conservation groups also blame the settlement of landless Zimbabweans in
wildlife conservancies under the country's land-reform program for the
decline in wildlife conservation. Mtsambiwa admitted this had caused
problems, but it is now being remedied.
Mtsambiwa says, "At the beginning of the land reform, huge populations of
wildlife were decimated as people moved in and they were just killing
wildlife wantonly. But now they are beginning to understand the value and
they are assisting in its protection."
But Mtsambiwa cautioned Zimbabwe cannot deal with the poaching problem on
its own. To this end, he said, Zimbabwe is collaborating with other
countries in the region and beyond to ensure poaching is checked.