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MDC dismisses constitutional conference report

by Andrew Moyo Thursday 23 July 2009

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party on Wednesday dismissed
a report by parliamentary clerk Austin Zvoma that blamed non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) for disrupting last week's constitutional conference.

In the report Zvoma claimed that an NGO called the Non-State Actors Forum
had paid over 500 delegates to attend the conference without the knowledge
of the organisers.

This is despite the fact that there were many witnesses ZimOnline reporters
who attended the constitutional conference and saw ZANU PF leaders among
them youth minister Savious Kasukuwere leading the mobs that disrupted the

The MDC said in a statement: "The MDC is shocked by reports that Clerk of
Parliament Austin Zvoma has (reported) that the chaos that disrupted the
first day of the all stakeholders constitution-making process was a result
of unaccredited delegates from NGOs.

"The report presented by Zvoma is a typical report concocted at ZANU PF
headquarters. It misses by miles the truth that ZANU PF senior officials and
rowdy youths were the authors of the chaos."

Zvoma, who like most senior public servants is widely regarded as
sympathetic to President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party, was not
immediately available for comment on the matter.

The constitutional conference only resumed the following day on Tuesday
after Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara spoke
strongly against the mobs that had disrupted the first day of the meeting
that had been called to map out the course of constitutional reforms.

But the three leaders said there would be no witch-hunt to find out those
who had disrupted the first day of the conference. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe's Attorney General Embroiled in Land Grab Saga

MWENEZI, July 23, 2009 - Controversial Attorney General (AG) Johannes
Tomana is embroiled in a property dispute after he allegedly snatched a
conservancy from its former white owner in Mwenezi.

Sources say Tomana, a ZANU PF loyalist, grabbed Malingani Ranch in
Mwenezi after getting a "fraudulent" offer letter from Governor Titus
Maluleke in clear disregard for property rights in Zimbabwe.

"He snatched the conservancy from its former owner, Kenned Hood, after
he forced himself unto the conservancy and declared it his using an offer
letter from Maluleke. He is among other ZANU PF heavies like Paul Mangwana,
Hungwe and Maluleke, who are on a final looting spree before a new MDC
governor is appointed," a source within ZANU PF said.

Mangwana is said to have taken Dyres Ranch, while Hungwe grabbed
Mwenezi Block. Maluleke looted Piplings Conservancy as part of his "self
given exit package" following the appointment of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) second vice president, Lucia Matibenga as Governor.

Hood confirmed the takeover of his conservancy-which had ten giraffes,
50 kudus, 60 antelopes, 30 buffaloes, ten horses, five lions, two cheeters,
60 cattle and other small animals-by the AG. "Yes, I have been chased off my
property by Tomana. He had an offer letter and they said my farm is now
state land, if I fail to vacate, they would put me into jail."

Tomana, who is at the centre of controversy from as he declared that
he is a ZANU PF supporter, could not be reached for a comment.

The Movement for Democratic Change wants Tomana to be relieved of his
duties due to his partisan stance. His fate-together with that of RBZ
governor Gideon Gono-has since been referred to the Southern African
Development Community, who are the guarantors of the global political
agreement signed between president Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara, leader of the smaller MDC party.

President Robert Mugabe has defended both Tomana and Gono's
appointments, saying they were above board. Mugabe has also said government
will continue to take land and has i gnored SADC tribunal rulings that
ordered that some white farmers be given back their farms.

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Chihuri sacks cops for probing Zanu (PF) atrocities

22 July 2009

By Taurai Bande

MARONDERA - More than 1000 police officers have been sacked by Police
Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, for investigating perpetrators of Zanu (PF)'s
terror campaign. Some of them were detained and badly brutalised while still
in the force.

(Pictured: Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri)

Co-minister of Home Affairs, Giles Mutsekwa, said the affected officers had
the right to appeal for reinstatement. "The officers should launch appeals
against unfair dismissal to the police service commission stating how they
were discharged. Then I will hear from the commission about the complaints.
I only knew of a few cases of politically motivated dismissals, I did not
know the alleged victimization was so wide spread," said Mutsekwa.

The officers were allegedly dismissed from work, and in some cases assaulted
or murdered, by Zanu (PF) militia. The thugs teamed up with CIO agents and
the army at the behest of police assistant commissioners Everisto Pfumvute,
Bobby Murwira, Makodza, Mthambeni and Chihuri.
"Police officers stationed at Headlands were severely assaulted by police
riot squad and the army last year, allegedly for refusing to rig elections
through the postal ballot. All police officers at the station including the
Officer in charge were assaulted, arrested and sentenced to various terms of
detention at Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) before they were discharged
from the force," a highly placed source at the PGHQ revealed.
Constable Admire Takawira of Macheke police station was fired from the force
after he had attempted to investigate Zanu (PF) youths who burnt down
suspected MDC supporters' houses.
"The trial officer Chief Superintendent Mutema told me that my trial was a
formality as Chihuri wanted a conviction leading to dismissal. I spent 31
days in detention barracks before dismissal from the force without benefits.
The conviction indicated that I was found guilty of participating in
politics,' said Takawira.
According to sources, Zanu (PF) youths in Mashonaland East made lists of
police officers who stopped them from abducting MDC supporters during the
election period.
"The names of the officers were forwarded to Zanu (PF) Provincial
Headquarters and Assistant Commissioner Mthambeni of Marondera district
before they were submitted to Chihuri for further action. Chihuri would
immediately order the arrest of the policemen and eventual dismissal," said
an Assistant Commissioner at PGHQ.

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Gun toting soldier scares residents

22 July 2009

By Taurai Bande

MARONDERA - A soldier based at the Marondera offices of the Maguta farm
programme has threatened residents with death should they publicly say
President Robert Mugabe's political fortunes have waned.

The soldier, only identified as Sox, is a member of the army intelligent
unit. He recently wielded a pistol at youths who spoke badly about Mugabe.
"We were discussing politics freely, not realizing soldiers were armed to
foil freedom of association and expression. With the inclusive government
people thought they could express their political views freely," said Arnold
Mbirimi of Dombotombo Town Ship.

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Zimbabwe pleads not to blacklist its diamonds

Moses Mudzwiti Published:Jul
23, 2009

ZIMBABWE is on its knees, begging the Kimberley Process not to blacklist its
diamonds over non-compliance of trading rules.

A Kimberley Process team visited Zimbabwe earlier this month to probe
allegations of non-compliance. The team made recommendations before it left,
but none has been fully implemented.

Zimbabwe was given two weeks to remove its soldiers from its diamond mines.
The deadline has come and gone, but the army remains put.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu blamed delays in concluding a deal with a
possible foreign investor. He said once the deal was done the investor would
have to secure the area itself.

Finance Minister Tendayi Biti has implored the organisation to give Zimbabwe
a chance to right its wrongs before taking stern action. He said profits
from diamond sales could fund most of the country's envisaged recovery
plans, estimated at US10-billion.

But sources in the local mines ministry fear the worst. The government was
not able to convince the visiting team that it was in complete control of
its diamond trade. Allegations of forced labour, murder and diamond
smuggling still linger .

The Kimberley Process, which oversees trade in conflict-free diamonds, was
expected to make its findings public this week.

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PM challenges Cabinet's role

Herald, Thursday, July 23, 2009

Deputy News Editor Hebert Zharare

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has challenged the role of Cabinet
and is seeking to strengthen the functions of the Council of
Ministers, which he chairs, The Herald has learnt.

It is also understood that the changes that the PM is seeking could
result in him having the authority to craft a national budget that
would be administered by his office rather than by the Ministry of
Finance and Treasury.

In a report entitled "Comments and Suggestions Alterations" that he
forwarded to the Cabinet Office recently - a copy of which is in the
possession of The Herald - the PM seeks to make sweeping changes to
the Cabinet Handbook that guides the operations of the Executive and
its various committees, organs and ministries.

The changes will see ministers reporting to the PM and not the
President - who, as Head of State and Government, chairs Cabinet - a
development observers said was an "affront to the tenets and
principles of the Global Political Agreement and the Constitution of

Reads part of his report: "Ministers are required to report to the
Prime Minister, not to the President, and the Prime Minister, in
turn, reports to the President.

"And an Acting Minister should consult the Prime Minister rather than
the President in matters involving policy initiatives or legislation
since it is the Prime Minister who is responsible for overseeing
initiatives and legislation."

He argued that acting ministers were supposed to be given the full
authority of substantive ministers and should act only after
consulting the PM.

All the proposals fly in the face of the Cabinet Handbook, the
Constitution and the GPA, which make it clear that ministers report
to the President as the Head of State.

The Cabinet Handbook, which, among other things, is derived from the
Constitution of Zimbabwe, defines the operations of Cabinet, its
committees and the organs, which fall under the Chief Secretary to
the President and Cabinet.

Cabinet is the supreme administrative tool of Government and is
constituted according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The handbook also draws up Cabinet's agenda as drafted by the
President "mindful of the flow of Government business in the Cabinet".

PM Tsvangirai argued in his paper that because executive powers were
shared equally between Cabinet, the President and Prime Minister, it
was inappropriate to refer to President Mugabe as "Head of State and
Government", but simply as "President" or "His Excellency the

This is despite the fact that the GPA makes it clear that although
executive powers are shared, President Mugabe is Head of State and
Government by dint of appointing the Vice Presidents, Prime Minister
and all other ministers, in addition to being Commander-in-Chief of
the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

Other changes PM Tsvangirai is seeking are that ministers be entitled
to make public statements on policy issues without Cabinet approval.

He said Cabinet's agenda was not supposed to be approved by the
President alone - even though he chairs the body.

He also wants to strip the Media, Information and Publicity Ministry
of its role as Government's official public communicator by allowing
every portfolio head to make his/her own announcements without any
central co-ordination.

He added that the Council of Ministers was "Cabinet in all but name",
while hinting that it was his duty to assign ministers which Acts of
Parliament they should administer.

Oddly enough, while trying to strip the Presidency of all its powers,
PM Tsvangirai claims in his report that his own powers have been

He said he had no obligation to report to Cabinet.

Government spokespersons were not in a position to comment on the
report last night.

However, observers said PM Tsvangirai's suggestions were "tantamount
to usurping the powers of the President", adding that there was "a
need to educate new members to Government on the operations of the

"What these people must know is that President Mugabe and Cabinet are
one . . . the President is Cabinet.

"They should know that there is a difference between the Government
and political parties. Their constitutions and value systems regulate
political parties.

"They are also affected and regulated by any agreement or
understanding they may enter into with other parties in pursuance of
shared or coincident interest.

"But parties as citizens of the country must submit themselves to the
Constitution of the country," said an observer yesterday.

He elaborated that Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu united based on shared
interests "whereas the unity between Zanu-PF and the MDC formations
was driven by a need to solve the country's political, economic and
social problems".

He said the GPA only bound those that were party to it and when it
came to Government, all party functionaries were supposed to abide by
the country's Constitution.

The observer said in Zimbabwe's case, those portions of the GPA
affecting the composition and operations of Government were
consolidated in Constitutional Amendments Number 18 and 19.

"It is a mistake to try and invoke the GPA to reshape the Cabinet
Handbook. If the handbook is seen to be out of sync with the
political parties, the correct approach is to write into the national
constitution the appropriate sections of the GPA," he said.

A Government official close to the developments, who requested
anonymity, said it was "fatal to raise issues that were outside the
Constitution", adding that the Cabinet Handbook was a legal document
and the operations of Government were based on it.

The official said the report looked like "part of an MDC-T grand plan
to weaken ministries that do not fall under its portfolios".

"MDC-T is trying to smuggle into Government issues it failed to have
factored into the GPA and this is a wrong way to go about it because
it shows that the party is not sincere about what it signed up to.

"This is a deliberate attempt to kill the Presidency and strengthen
the Prime Minister's Office. Strictly speaking, the Premier is a

"He is the most senior minister, but a minister all the same. And
this report tries to place a minister above the constitutional Head
of State."

This is the second time this week that MDC-T has been accused of
trying to undermine the President.

Earlier this week it emerged that Information Communication
Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa had drafted an ICT Bill that seeks
to re-assign ministerial duties and leave the Media, Information and
Publicity, and the Transport and Infrastructure Development ministers
without any relevance.

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Headman cleanses torture base

22 July 2009

By Zwanai Sithole

CHIMANIMANI - A local headman has ordered families to supply him with rapoko
to make beer that will be used in a traditional cleansing exercise. Willie
Chanhuhwa of Biriiri area, plans to cleanse a local training centre which
was used as a torture base during the run up to last year's presidential

The headman and his sons, who were ironically involved in the terror
campaign, have already started collecting the grains.

The torture base, the Manicaland Development Association (MDA) training
centre, was where two suspected MDC supporters from Nyamusundu area were
allegedly murdered by Zanu (PF) thugs.

Scores of villagers were also severely tortured at the base.
"This place has bad memories for the villagers. We hope the headman is
sincere when he is talking about cleansing this place. At times you see
strange things if you pass the centre during the night," said a villager.

The villagers said that although the headman was involved in the terror
campaign, they applauded his efforts of trying to restore peace in the area.

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Prices soar as fuel shortage bites

22 July 2009

By The Zimbabwean

MUTARE - The continuous increase of petrol prices in and around Mutare has
forced prices of almost everything to skyrocket. In a survey carried by The
Zimbabwean this week, a litre of petrol and diesel was selling at US$3. The
black market fuel dealers have been selling a minimum of five litres for

The few service stations that have fuel are charging as much as US$2 per
litre instead of the stipulated US$1.03 a litre.

The fuel shortages have forced the public transporters to withdraw their
services, while those still operating have doubled their fares.

About 15 service stations have closed shop following a government directive.

Bigboy Muchemwa, a transporter, said: "The government made a very big
mistake. They failed to realise that these small service stations managed to
keep the country on its feet. Now that they have been closed the country is
now dry. We do not want to get back to that situation again where petrol
became gold."

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Policemen living in stables?

22 July 2009

By Fungi Kwaramba

HARARE - Police in Harare are living in sub-human conditions. Some are
stationed at the horse breeding camp along Bulawayo Road while those at
Morris Deport share rooms separated by curtains or furniture.

A recent visit to the camp showed that stables have been turned into houses.
A police officer at the farm said the accommodation woes started as early as
2005 when police officers were among the thousands forcibly removed from
their homes by Operation Murambatsvina.

"We were the ones at the forefront of destroying houses, but we were only
pawns. We did not have our own houses, so we moved to the camps and even up
to now we are still sharing flats," he said

At Morris Depot, the police live in squalid conditions sharing the same roof
that is separated by curtains and furniture or cardboard. "There is no
secrecy at Morris Depot - you hear everything that takes place in the next
room," added the officer. Windows are broken and there is dirt everywhere,
including rivulets of sewage.

The situation duplicates itself at most of the police camps dotted around
the capital. The Magaba police camp shows signs of age and neglect. Roofs
are soot covered and the toilets are dirty or closed. Most of the police
flats, which were built long before independence, have not been renovated
and then were meant for bachelors. But, with nowhere else to go, families of
up to five now live squashed in one bachelor flat.

Harare Police spokesperson, Inspector James Sabau, said that the camps in
question were not under Harare jurisdiction even though they were in Harare.
"I have no idea about what you are talking about. Morris Depot is not in
Harare Province and the Horse Breeding Farm is in Mashonaland West," he

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FULL TEXT: Right to food and Zimbabwe
Thursday 23 July 2009

Human Rights Bulletin, Number 42 2009

The right to food and Zimbabwe

The last decade has been characterised by different periods of food crises in Zimbabwe. A food crisis can be broadly defined as the occurrence of serious food shortages across a country but where hunger deaths are rare and the incidences of chronic malnutrition are significant, where the country is still unable to achieve food self-reliance and is significantly dependent on international aid.

Cases of hunger and malnutrition have been recorded in Zimbabwe over the past years and these are consequences of lack of access to adequate food. A combination of factors ranging from poor government policies, adverse weather, lack of timely availability of inputs and severe economic constraints to underutilization of land have contributed to these episodic food crises in Zimbabwe.

These food crises have grossly undermined the right to adequate food for most people both from the urban and rural settings in Zimbabwe.

This edition of the Human Rights Bulletin focuses on the right to food in Zimbabwe. It discuses what the right to food entails, the Government of Zimbabwe's obligations in the realisation of this right, how previous government policies have undermined the realisation of this right and recommendations on what measures the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe can take in order to respect, protect and fulfill the right to food.

The right to food explained

The right to adequate food is a basic right and is a binding obligation enshrined under international law, recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), as well as a number of other instruments.

According to Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”

Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing. Moreover, article 11(2) recognises the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger”

The right to food has been well defined in General Comment No.12 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). This defines the right to food as:

“the right of every man, woman and child alone and in community with others to have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement in ways consistent with human dignity.”

At the crux of the right to food is the issue of access to adequate food which must be adequate in terms of quality and quantity. Although there are precise medical indicators that are used to measure adequacy of food through daily nutrient, calories and protein intake, these indicators are not always necessary in determining whether people have access to adequate food.

Practical indicators such as non-availability of food in the shops, long queues for basic foodstuffs and occasional food riots are normally used to determine food shortages in a country. The 1998 food riots and the recent food shortages in the retail outlets of Zimbabwe are a clear indication that access to adequate food has been severely compromised in Zimbabwe.

Government's obligations under the right to food

Governments worldwide are obliged to make sure that

their citizens do not starve. According to the General

Comment No.12 of the CESCR, the right to food implies

three types of obligations - the obligations to respect,

protect and to fulfil.

  • The obligation to respect: Governments are obliged to respect existing access to adequate food. In this regard, governments are required not to take any measure that results in preventing such access. Governments must not take actions that result in increasing levels of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
  • The obligation to protect: Governments are required to take measures to ensure that enterprises or individuals do not deprive individuals of their access to adequate food.
  • The obligation to fulfil: Governments are obliged to pro-actively engage in activities intended to strengthen people's access to and utilisation of resources and means to ensure their livelihood, including food security. Whenever an individual or group is unable to enjoy the right to adequate food by the means at their disposal, governments have the obligation to fulfil (provide) that right directly.

Governments must protect people from the actions of others that might violate the right to food.

Under article, 2(1) of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, States have agreed to take steps, to the maximum of their available resources, to achieve progressively the full realisation of the right to adequate food. Under article, 2(2) of the same Covenant, States have agreed to guarantee that the right to food will be exercised without discrimination. Finally, under article 3 of the Covenant, States agreed to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of the right to food.

Zimbabwe's policies and how they have affected the right to food

The first 10 years of Independence (1980-1990) were characterised by deliberate government policies that were meant to stimulate food production. This resulted in Zimbabwe being referred to as the “breadbasket” of Southern Africa. According to the Labour Economic Development Research Institute Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ), the government subsidised commercial food production, provided agricultural infrastructure, inputs and credit, mainly for maize production.

Government's policy on agriculture was affected by the introduction of the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP). Under ESAP the government liberalised the market, decontrolled the food prices, drastically reduced expenditure on agriculture and reduced subsidies. These measures had a huge impact on food production in Zimbabwe. Most farmers moved from production of food crops to cash crops such as tobacco because of the foreign currency that came after the export of such crops. The net effect of this was reduced food production consequently undermining the right to food for most Zimbabweans, particularly the poor.

In January 1998, Zimbabwe witnessed food riots. Labour and the general populace reacted angrily to sharp increases in the price of food items. The 1998 food riots were an early indication of how government policies for the previous years had seriously undermined access to food especially for the poor. In subsequent years, the country experienced severe food shortages. Long queues for basic food commodities were the order of the day across the country. These shortages were as a result of poor economic policies by the government and some bad weather resulting in droughts.

Land Reform in Zimbabwe

As a result of highly skewed land ownership pattern in Zimbabwe, the government embarked on what it called “Fast Track” land redistribution program in July 2000.

The primary aim of this programme was to increase access of indigenous people to arable land. The “Fast Track” programme is said to have been initiated as a means of expediting the land reform exercise. Since independence, the government had tried to redistribute land under the 'willing buyer willing seller' programme. This, according to the government, was a slow process. The government, through parliament also enacted and made amendments to laws such as the Land Acquisition Act and Constitutional Amendment No 16 to facilitate for both acquisitions and resettlement of previously commercial white farms.

Although access to resources such as land is crucial for the realisation of the right to food especially for the poor and marginalised in society, the fast track land reform in Zimbabwe has been blamed for the food shortages that ensued thereafter. Former large-scale farms have been converted into A1 model farms (small subsistence farmers) and A2 model farms (commercial medium and large farmers). Many of these A1 and A2 farmers lack access to capital and other inputs, contributing to severe under-utilisation of land resource and low production. In addition, there has been a significant decline in the national dairy and export beef herds.

Food aid and distribution

In response to the growing food crisis and pressure from humanitarian aid agencies, the government declared a state of disaster thereby calling on international aid agencies to help. Organisations such as World Food Programme (WFP) rolled out programmes to feed those in need. WFP had a target of feeding 5,1 million people in February 2009. Humanitarian aid organisations are still conducting their programmes and are helping millions of starving Zimbabweans to access food. There were however some reports over the past years that the government has been meddling in the distribution of food particularly in the rural areas. There were also reports that government was distributing food along political lines. This is highly unacceptable as it violates article, 2(2) of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights under which States agreed to guarantee the exercise of the right to food without discrimination.

Economic development policies

In order to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security, States should promote broad-based economic development that is supportive of their food security policies. States should establish policy goals and benchmarks based on the food security needs of their population.

States should consider adopting a holistic and comprehensive approach to hunger and poverty reduction. Such an approach entails, inter alia, direct and immediate measures to ensure access to adequate food as part of a social safety net; investment in productive activities and projects to improve the livelihoods of the poor and hungry in a sustainable manner.


States, as appropriate and in consultation with relevant stakeholders and pursuant to their national laws, should consider adopting a national human-rights based strategy for the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security as part of an overarching national development strategy, including poverty reduction strategies, where they exist.

Access to resources and assets

States should facilitate sustainable, non-discriminatory and secure access and utilization of resources consistent with their national law and with international law and protect the assets that are important for people's livelihoods. States should respect and protect the rights of individuals with respect to resources such as land, water, forests, fisheries and livestock without any discrimination.


States should take measures to promote and protect the security of land tenure, especially with respect to women, poor and disadvantaged segments of society, through legislation that protects the full and equal right to own land and other property, including the right to inherit. As appropriate, States should consider establishing legal and other policy mechanisms, consistent with their international human rights obligations and in accordance with the rule of law, that advance land reform to enhance access for the poor and women.


Access to food has improved slightly in Zimbabwe. Most retail outlets are now stocked with food items. This has been attributed to the use of a multiple currency system and some confidence is being restored in the economy because of the Inclusive Government that came into effect in February 2009. Furthermore, some people have begun the process of harvesting their grain from the fields.

These developments are a huge relief to the millions of Zimbabweans who had endured years of hunger and lack of adequate food. It should be noted however, that there is an urgent need to address issues of food productivity to avoid this cycle of food shortages in the country.


Although the right to food falls under Economic, Social and Cultural rights that are said to be realised progressively by States, it should be borne in mind that food is of paramount importance to the survival of human beings. Thus, the Government of Zimbabwe should take several measures to insure that it fulfils its international obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food. The Human Rights Forum recommends that the government be guided by some of the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realisation of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security. The following are some of the most relevant guidelines to Zimbabwe:

Democracy, good governance, human rights and rule of law

States should promote and safeguard a free, democratic and just society in order to provide a peaceful, stable and enabling economic, social, political and cultural environment in which individuals can feed themselves and their families in freedom and dignity. – ZimOnline

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Education without civilisation

July 22, 2009
Abigail Mphisa

THIS past week I had to take an emergency trip home. Whilst waiting for a
friend at a Harare hotel I heard whispers of "There is Kasukuwere". At that
juncture almost every head in the hotel lounge turned to look at the

In no time the general conversation focused on the unruly and thoroughly
uncouth behaviour of the honourable Member of Parliament and Cabinet

People talked not just about the latest barbaric act where Saviour
Kasukuwere allegedly threw a water bottle at Speaker of Parliament Lovemore
Moyo, but about the reign of terror he allegedly routinely engages in or
supervises in his constituency during every run up to elections since 2000.
Several deaths by shooting were reported in his constituency where it was
alleged that he personally pulled the trigger.

How is it possible for a Cabinet Minister to allegedly behave in such
despicable fashion and still hold his head high as he walks the streets?

We Zimbabweans are a highly educated lot. Every analyst who talks about
Zimbabwe's prospects for economic recovery lists as one of the assets our
very admirably skilled human resources. At independence President Mugabe's
cabinet ministers were hailed as among the most educated on the African
continent, led by a man with seven university degrees.

Zimbabwe boasts of an adult literacy rate of 89.4 percent, which is higher
than that of Malaysia (88.7) and Brazil (88.6). Regional economic power
house, South Africa, has an adult literacy rate of 82.4 percent. Malawi and
Zambia are on 64 and 68, respectively, while Botswana's rate is 81.2
percent. Why then do we have the singular honour of being the most barbaric
in the manner that we run elections within the SADC region?

None of our brothers and sisters in SADC brutalise each other during
election related violence to the same extent that we do. Zambia, South
Africa and Malawi held elections not so along. There were no body bags
counted in these countries during the campaign periods, and yet our
education statistics are more impressive.

Before we messed up our country, Malawians preferred Zimbabwe as a shopping
destination rather than South Africa. The first thing my landlord asked me
when I came to Malawi three years ago was how it was possible that even
vendors on Harare's streets spoke good English. He told me how after the
opening of Westgate shopping complex he and a friend drove to Harare to
sample the new centre. Not knowing how to get there, they asked for
directions from a teenager who was trying to sell them a pocket of oranges.
They were very much impressed after being given accurate directions in
perfect English.

It would appear while we have been learning history and geography,
civilisation, that which some people refer to as an advanced stage of social
development, has eluded us. We have a president with seven degrees. He does
not boast about them much. He prefers the one he has lived by for a bigger
part of his life -violence. He boasts of having degrees in violence.

Without an aorta of shame, after the formation of the MDC during the run up
to the 2000 parliamentary elections he thundered during an election rally,
"To those who are bent on opposing us, death shall befall you!"

Following Vice President Nkomo's death, the family had wanted Archbishop
Pius Ncube to officiate at the ceremony. Mugabe reportedly told the family
Ncube was unsuitable. During the opening of the Catholic University, Mugabe
skipped Ncube's outstretched hand when he shook hands with the other
dignitaries. Ncube's crime was that he was a vocal critique of Mugabe's
murderous regime. Now, by any standards, that is the height of incivility.

Karikoga Kaseke, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority boss was, not too long ago,
served by a waiter whose shoes were torn. After shouting expletives at the
hapless fellow, he further humiliated him by making him remove the offending
shoes there and then, making him walk bare foot. This happened at a time
when workers could not even afford bus fare to and from work.

Kaseke also hit the headlines for threatening to beat up the teachers at his
children's school, Watershed. In one instance the source of his displeasure
was that his children had been sent home for failing to pay fees. On the
second occasion it had to do with the fact that a copy of the Zimbabwe
Independent which carried the story of his many antics had been placed in
the school library amongst other papers. He figured he was so special that
the school should have taken the initiative to hide the said paper from the

In yet another instance Kaseke reportedly called a Standard reporter a
"whore". Her crime was that she had sought comment from him on how it was
that some Miss Tourism contestants had been housed full board at the Holiday
Inn Crown Plaza for long periods on end at huge expenses to the Tourism
Authority. How is it possible that such crude behaviour is acceptable among
people holding such high positions?

Then we have Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, academic, author and one time Minister
of Information and Zanu-PF's secretary for information and publicity. When
the MDC was beginning to show signs of popularity in 2000 and beyond, Zanu
PF went on a predictable smear campaign. Among other things, an attempt was
made to pin the murder of Cain Nkala on the MDC. The late Justice Sandra
Mungwira threw out the case and had the unfortunate MDC activists released.

In the meantime, Dr Shamuyarira had not wasted time in issuing a stern
warning. The MDC, he said, should not even consider taking the route of
violence. He reminded the new party that the area of violence was one in
which Zanu-PF's skills could never be matched. You need to be uncivilised in
order to be able to utter such statements, without shame, on behalf of any

I was recently introduced to a 21 year old man with one arm. In the process
of discussion I established that he hailed from Mutoko and, according to
him, had lost his hand to the Zanu-PF youth militia during the run up to the
June 27 presidential election. He said the thoroughly stoned youth went from
door to door asking test questions to establish people's party affiliation.

Apparently, one of the questions had to do with an old cockerel. The youth
would start by asking if the family raised any cockerels. They would then be
asked what they did once a cockerel got very old. The natural response would
be that an old cockerel ended up being slaughtered for the pot because if it
died naturally it would then have to be thrown away.

This kind of response, shocking as it may sound, solicited severe beatings,
destruction and confiscation of property. The argument of the youth militia
was that cockerel, which is the symbol of Zanu-PF symbolised President
Mugabe hence a true Zanu-PF cadre would never ever suggest the slaughter of
a cockerel. Instead, the response, illogical though it may be, should always
be that the cockerel should never be slaughtered, but rather, receive tender
loving care forever. As they say, fact is stranger than fiction.

The constituency in question, the very one where the 21 year old lost his
arm, belongs to none other than one of Zimbabwe's world renowned
agricultural research scientists and gender activist, Dr. Olivia Muchena. In
this very constituency, among others, teachers were hounded out of
classrooms and children stopped attending school altogether. I always used
to beam with pride at the University of Cape Town's African Studies Library
because Dr Muchena's work here was held in such high regard.

She has numerous publications to her name.

I recall how soon after the 2005 parliamentary elections Muchena appeared on
the programme "African Review" which used to be run by SABC Africa. The
topic under discussion was election related violence in Zimbabwe. Among the
panellists were MDC activists who told harrowing stories of their close
shave with death at the hands of the infamous Green Bombers.

Muchena, a former official of Bishop Abel Muzorewa's United African National
Council, did a sterling job of toeing the usual Zanu PF line of victimhood,
sanctions and Western propaganda. The embarrassing moment for her came when
a caller, displaced by political violence from Muchena's constituency,
stated in a very calm and collected manner "SABC, you are giving a voice to
a perpetrator of political violence."

He then went on to mention by name some who had died. In a very thin voice,
obviously drained of its previous confidence, Muchena tried her best to
mount a very unconvincing defence, denying that the listed names of the
deceased were from her constituency but rather from a neighbouring one. It
was as if by merely suggesting that the dead were not from her constituency
their brutal killing became acceptable.

She ended up cutting some very pathetic figure indeed.

Then there is our very own rocket scientist, Arthur Mutambara. A Rhodes
Scholar with a PhD in Robotics and Mechatronics from Oxford University,
Mutambara is ranked among Africa's top scientists. Sadly, on his journey to
acquire impressive academic qualifications, the exposure he received did
little for him in the area of social etiquette.

In one interview he boasted that he was more intelligent than most of these
Western leaders because he had studied at Oxford while they had not. Now,
that is just way too coarse even for a third world Deputy Prime Minister. In
his desire to remind the world of his high intelligence quotient, it even
escaped him that it was these very less intelligent people who could get us
out of our economic quagmire.

In a recent interview with one Maureen Isaacson in Johannesburg, South
Africa, Mutambara is quoted; "I am a very different kind of politician. I
don't suffer fools. You understand? I might have to do so in politics..I am
an independent thinker. I challenge conventional wisdom". Wow! We are still
waiting for the independent thoughts to manifest themselves in the GNU for
the benefit of Zimbabwe.

Sometime last year, one of the Herald's key hate columnists, Caesar Zvayi,
was deported from Botswana where he had secured a lecturing post.
Surprisingly, Zvayi had run away from the very economic meltdown which he
argued did not exist. Apart from the vitriol and scorn poured by Zvayi on
that country's head of state in response to his deportation, Jonathan Moyo
joined the fray. Of all the vulgar and foul-mouthed remarks he directed at
Botswana, the one that I found most despicable was "What can you expect when
a country has more goats than people." All this because the Batswana did not
want Zvayi in their country and from a man who preaches sovereignty ad

They say Moyo is a Professor of Political Science and yet he is still to act
in a civilised manner. In fact, the man is so uncivilised that he believes
the practice of journalism, the profession of reporting on events, should be
made more stringent than the practice of medicine, which has the potential
of costing lives if not conducted properly.

How weird is that?

Perhaps it is the late Dr Chenjerai Hunzvi who should occupy one of the top
spots in the area of incivility. The Polish trained medical doctor, a true
disciple of Zanu-PF barbaric politics, believed that coercion was the answer
to Zanu-PF's declining popularity. Yes, a doctor who took the Hippocratic
Oath to save lives reportedly converted his Budiriro surgery into a torture
chamber. In this the 21st Century, he believed that people should not be
allowed the right to choose their own political parties. He was just so
primitive, though armed with a medical degree.

We also have Chief Fortune Charumbira, a graduate of the University of
Zimbabwe where he studied sociology. He is the president of the Council of
Chiefs. One would have imagined that his superior education would also make
him understand issues of citizenship and human rights. Not so. He is on
record as having issued a statement to the effect that those who support any
other party besides Zanu-PF would be expelled from his area.

It is as if one will be reading from a prehistoric script.

Recently, it was reported in the media that daggers are out against the
Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi. The culprits are members of his own party.
While the man making the loudest noises over the issue, Joseph Chinotimba
can be ignored - being the ignorant buffoon that he is, the other players
are said to be the highly educated Zanu-PF loyalists. Mzembi's crime is that
he agreed to be part of Prime Minister Tsvangirai's delegation to Europe.

He therefore betrayed the party and his assignment was indicative of the
fact that he is now gravitating towards the MDC. This is considered so
serious a crime that the man ought to be expelled from the party. It is
issues of this nature that highlight the tragedy of being uncivilised. How
is it possible that travelling with the country's PM can be considered an
act of betrayal simply because he is from a different political party? Has
our former ruling party not yet learnt how people from different political
parties relate to each other in civilised countries?

Out of all the many heartrending videos that were beamed around the globe
during the early days of the land invasions, there are a couple I will never
forget. One of them showed invaders holding communication radios, issuing
commands to the effect that those undertaking the arduous task of burning
down property should speed up the operation.

In this particular video, the militia had set alight the premises of farm
labourers - the most vulnerable and downtrodden of Zimbabwe's workforce.
While the inferno was raging ferociously, the property owners were trying to
salvage whatever little property that they could. The militia was unwilling
to give them time to remove their property from harm's way.

We all know that farm workers have always been and continue to be exploited.
It would have taken years for them to save enough for beds and other
rudimentary items. For a start, the infrastructure that was destroyed could
have been useful to the new occupants. Secondly, how does anyone at all,
even those whose barbarism has become legendary, justify burning down beds
and mattresses of fellow black workers? Do we perhaps need to be exorcised
of some evil spirits that possess us? This goes beyond lacking civilisation.

The behaviour often displayed by our highly educated politicians and at
times the generality of the Zimbabwean public shows that it is time to
interrogate the appropriateness of the kind of education being offered in
our schools. Granted, a lot of the rot that set in our country has to do
with Zanu-PF's survival strategies. However, it is also time to incorporate
issues of human rights and citizenship in the school curriculum.

I remember former education Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi frothing on the
mouth, furious because some NGO had highlighted the necessity of introducing
human rights courses in the school syllabi. He made it clear such
"misadventures" would not be tolerated by the government because the hidden
agenda of the NGO was "regime change".

He could see the hand of the British in it too!

Sometimes one has to wonder when our country will start to move into the
21st Century.

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Zimbabwe’s Rhino Poaching Crisis Compounded by Lack of Law Enforcement

Edangered Black Rhino

Zimbabwe is currently home to the world’s fourth largest population of critically endangered Black Rhino. Although rhino killings in Zimbabwe have more than doubled in the past year, poachers continue to walk away without punishment for their crimes.

In a recent IRF press release, rhino conservation experts called upon international agencies and the Zimbabwe government to take immediate action against poaching of endangered species and to crack down on trade in wildlife products.

Tackling the situation in Zimbabwe is especially challenging because the rhino poaching in this area is planned and carried out by organized gangs. The attacks have become increasingly brazen - not only are rhinos being slaughtered, but the criminals have begun firing at the people protecting them.

Earlier this year, Raoul du Toit warned that Zimbabwe’s rhino poachers were not villagers desperate for food, but organized criminal gangs - people with “cars, cell phones, and expensive lawyers.”

And when poachers are apprehended, they are not punished.

Law enforcement inadequate; involvement of officials “covered up”

The escalation in rhino poaching is compounded by the lack of consequences for poachers who are caught:

Earlier this month, a park ranger charged with having killed three rhinos in Zimbabwe’s Chipinge Safari Area, was acquitted without any satisfactory explanation for the verdict, according to the three conservation groups who say there was “overwhelming evidence against him.”

In September 2008, a gang of four Zimbabwean poachers who admitted to killing 18 rhinos were freed in a failed judiciary process.

Recently, reported that police investigations have implicated two politicians in the illegal rhino horn trade - but that a “cover-up” is most likely under way:

Officials keen to see the prosecution of the senior government officials yesterday expressed frustration at the way the matter was handled.

They said a heavy lid slammed on the case could discourage detectives who were keen to stamp out poaching activities …

While Attorney-General Johannes Tomana could not be reached to explain circumstances surrounding the case, Environmental and Natural Resources Management Minister, Francis Nhema admitted on Thursday that senior Zanu PF officials had been implicated in the resurgent cases of rhino poaching.

“Growing purchasing power of Asian countries” driving the demand for rhino horn

According to the International Rhino Foundation:

The growing purchasing power of many Asian countries, combined with organized gangs of poachers who have an outlet for selling rhino horn on has kept the poaching threat great.

Lowveld Rhino Trust’s Raoul du Toit also stated recently to VOA that the reduction in law enforcement in Zimbabwe, coupled with the growing Chinese and Vietnamese footprints in Africa, were driving forces behind the recent increase in poaching.

And it’s not just the horns of Zimbabwe’s rhinos that are making their way to demanding Asian wildlife markets.

It has now become apparent to the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa that poachers had been posing as trophy hunting clients in order to gain access to rhino horn and have it shipped to Asia for illegal sale.

Earlier this year, conservationists reported to the Standing Committee of CITES that there is

… growing evidence of involvement of Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai nationals in the illegal procurement and transport of rhino horn out of Africa.

Along with rhino horn, ivory and tiger parts are highly prized in illegal wildlife markets

Poaching of elephants has now resurfaced in Kenya, and the total number of wild tigers has been reduced to approximately 4,000.

Rhino horn is in demand because it is believed to treat fever and other common conditions, not as an aphrodisiac, as widely believed.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the horn, which is shaved or ground into a powder and dissolved in boiling water, is used to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders. According to the 16th century Chinese pharmacist Li Shi Chen, the horn could also cure snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting, food poisoning, and “devil possession.” (However, it is not, as commonly believed, prescribed as an aphrodisiac).

Despite the wide availability of inexpensive, proven products available to treat all of the aforementioned ailments (and I’m confident there is even an alternative to “devil possession”), the myth persists, and demand for rhino horn continues to grow.

And when the last rhino is exterminated from the wild, what will we have to say for ourselves?

Image source: / CC BY-ND 2.0

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