Updated at 9:50 pm on 26 July 2012
Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he has to maintain mutual
respect with President Robert Mugabe to help run the country.
Dr Tsvangirai has been visiting New Zealand to ask it to lift or suspend
financial sanctions it imposed 10 years ago.
He says he has worked well with Mr Mugabe in their first two years of shared
power to stabilise Zimbabwe's economy and improve its education, health and
However, talk of free and fair elections has led to them both falling back
into political opposition, he says, and things have not gone so well in the
past six months.
But Dr Tsvangirai says that will not stop elections from going ahead.
He says a referendum on a new constitution, which will set up a road map for
elections, will take place in the next two months.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
26 July 2011
The inclusive government has been strongly criticised for approving a plan
to spend nearly half a billion dollars on the construction of a new
parliament building, at a time when government says it has no money for
basic pay rises for civil servants who are desperate.
Raymond Majongwe, Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ), described the development as “shocking”, saying Zimbabwe
needs water treatment chemicals, schools, hospitals, electricity and pay
increases for people earning below the minimum wage.
The state run ZBC news said local government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who
chairs an inter-ministerial committee tasked with locating a site for the
parliament building, had identified Mt Hampden in Harare as the place where
the new parliament would be built, and cabinet had approved it.
It has not been revealed just how government plans to fund this project.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced in his mid-term policy review this
month and said government needed to cut spending to cover a $600 million
deficit. Biti said funds from diamond sales are not being remitted into
national coffers and the police and registrar general are also guilty of not
“It is clear this is money these guys are stealing from the sale of diamonds
and other minerals. It has become a club, a cartel, a mafia that is showing
the world they don’t care about us anymore,” Majongwe told SW Radio Africa.
He added: “People want to look at ZANU PF as the bad guys but the MDC is
also baptizing these processes. Just look at the deafening silence coming
the MDC. They have agreed to bring in a new crop of MPs, for what?”
The move to replace the old parliament building, which has served as the
legislative seat for 112 years, follows the controversial decision to
increase the number of parliamentarians in the country from 210 to 270. This
will make Zimbabwe’s parliament one of the largest in the world.
Majongwe said: “This is a bold statement by ZANU PF that they are not going
anywhere. They have built their intelligence and defence school and bought
new cars. Now there is this new parliament building. It is sickening.”
Thursday, 26 July 2012 00:00
GOVERNMENT has identified a new site to construct a Parliament Building in
Mt Hampden Kopje, a Cabinet Minister has said. Local Government, Rural and
Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo
said the Mt Hampden Kopje site came out the best compared to Oldberry Farm,
Merryvale Farm, Muguti Farm and Nyabira Rural Service Centre.
In an interview on Tuesday, Cde Chombo said the new Parliament Building on a
240-hectare plot, would be the beginning of another satellite town for
Villas, flats, a hotel, a restaurant and a nine-hole golf course would
surround it. Minister Chombo said Parliament needed more land for future
“Originally, Harare Kopje area was recommended and identified as the
appropriate site, but it is a plan we had more than 10 years ago,” he said.
“At that time, the Senate was introduced and the number of parliamentarians
increased to 210. It was recommended that a new Parliament be built and two
months ago the President put up a six-member committee with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management
and the Ministry of
National Housing and Social Amenities, among others, to choose the ideal
“On the Harare Kopje, we identified that it is the most congested area,
close to obstructions, close to heavily built areas which provide little
room for expansion,” said Minister Chombo.
The new Parliament complex will be conceived in an integrated way with
restaurants and modern-day structures placed in close proximity. Minister
Chombo said the complex would have houses for the Speaker of the House of
Assembly and the Deputy and for the Senate President and the Vice-President.
“There would be recreational areas, banking malls, shops for artworks and
Internet facilities for the legislators and boulevards will develop towards
it,” he said.
Minister Chombo said the new Parliament complex would stand out as the
legacy of President Mugabe and Zimbabwe. He said the total cost of the new
building will be arrived at in due course. The new site is the original site
where colonisers wanted to hoist the Union Jack and establish Harare.
“They got lost after returning to South Africa where they wanted to consult
their masters prompting them to hoist the Union Jack on Harare Kopje,” said
Transport, Communication and Infrastructure Development Minister Nicholas
Goche said in the event that the site was approved, Government would ensure
that state-of-the-art roads were constructed to ensure accessibility.
By Tichaona Sibanda
26 July 2012
Harare and Chitungwiza have this week reported a combined 112 new cases of
typhoid and the contaminated water supply was seen as the culprit in this
outbreak of the water borne disease.
The director of Health Services in Harare, Dr Prosper Chonzi, said a team
has been deployed to take samples from patients and to test water sources in
The medical director said the origin of the latest contamination is still to
be determined but advised residents to boil their water before drinking it.
Dr Chonzi added that the large number of cases in such a short span of time
is characteristic of a common source outbreak. He explained that typhoid
fever is transmitted by contaminated food or water.
‘We are here to help not just in controlling the problem but to prevent its
re-occurrence and we will continue to educate communities on good sanitation
and hygiene,’ he said.
Officials from Harare and Chitungwiza have attributed the outbreak to water
shortages, owing to the excessive contamination of Lake Manyame. The council
had stopped supplying residents with water because of the lake
The lake is the main water source for both Harare and Chitungwiza and there
are confirmed reports that the town of Norton has been discharging its raw
sewage into the lake. Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said this has
been an ongoing problem facing Harare city council for years.
‘As indicated by the Town clerk, Tendai Mahachi, the latest water problems
have been traced to Norton. They have been discharging 10 million litres of
raw sewage close to Harare’s raw water abstraction point. Even the Norton
chief executive officer Winslow Muyambi confirmed that his council was
discharging raw sewage into Lake Manyame,’ Muchemwa said.
He said a lot of people suspect this has been happening for years, taking
into account the number of outbreaks that have hit Harare and Chitungwiza in
the last five years alone.
City officials said the water crisis would continue throughout the whole of
this week, causing major problems for the millions of residents in the
Companies that provide water in bowsers have been very busy in the more
upmarket areas. Residents are paying US$50 for a 5,000-litre tank and a
2,500 litre tank costs US$40.
But the water delivery companies don’t work in the high density areas,
creating major difficulties for the one million residents who live in
By Tichaona Sibanda
26 July 2012
Bulawayo’s City Council declared a water emergency on Wednesday, as
lower-than-usual rainfall continues to plague the country’s second largest
The city’s main dams and reservoirs are close to empty after going for two
seasons without sufficient rainfalls. Bulawayo gets its water from Insiza,
Inyankuni, Lower Ncema and Umzingwane dams.
Our correspondent in Bulawayo, Lionel Saungweme, said the council decided to
declare an emergency after water levels fell to their lowest.
‘The council has announced its decision to impose water rationing in the
city that will see residents going for a day without water, twice a week.
Having declared an emergency the council will seek urgent government funding
to replace old and leaking water pipes,’ Saungweme said.
The central business district will not be affected by the proposed
Simela Dube, the city’s director of engineering services, indicated that its
supply dams had only 90,000 cubic meters available daily, against demand of
140,000 cubic meters.
The council has also set up a stakeholders’ crisis committee to devise ways
of addressing the city’s deepening water crisis. On Monday this week they
wrote to the major stakeholders, inviting them to provide volunteers to be
part of the committee.
‘The terms of reference for the committee shall entail monitoring the water
crisis, recommending possible solutions, contribution of material, finance
and expertise towards the management of the crisis,’ the letter said.
Of course the water crisis in Bulawayo is nothing new and has been ongoing
for decades, because the government has not prioritized dealing with the
Written by Staff Writer
Thursday, 26 July 2012 14:36
HARARE - Germany and Australia announced this week that they will provide
over $36 million towards the improvement of water supply and sanitation.
The three-year programme will enhance access to safe water and sanitation
for the residents of Bulawayo, Kadoma, Norton, Chinhoyi, Gweru and Kariba.
The programme, to be managed by GIZ, will improve access to water and
sanitation services through the rehabilitation and repair of critical water
assets in the short-term.
The cooperation with the urban municipalities will also develop medium term
investment plans for improved water, sanitation and hygiene resource
The support will also improve local council’s institutional capacities,
especially their financial management, accounting, billing and revenue
Australian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Matthew Neuhaus said: “Australia’s
contribution to the programme is a clear demonstration of our commitment to
help improve the lives of Zimbabweans through better access to clean water
and sanitation services."
“Without the restoration and strong recovery in the water sector, Zimbabwe
will continue to face the danger of further cholera outbreaks with more
deaths and illnesses and negative impacts on livelihoods.”
German ambassador to Zimbabwe, Hans Gnodtke said: “Everybody knows how
important it is to have access to safe water and sanitary facilities. With
poor access to these essential services, life is not only quite miserable,
but your health and even your life is at risk."
“Germany is committed to provide clean water which is considered to be a
basic human right. Therefore, the programme is addressing one of the most
burning issues of Zimbabwe’s urban population, especially of the women and
the less well off, who do not have the means to protect themselves against a
breakdown of public water supply and sanitation systems.”
This partnership between Australia and Germany is the third collaborative
programme in the water sector in Africa.
It follows Australia’s contribution to Germany’s Transboundary Water
Management Programme in Sadc since 2011, and Australia’s contribution to
Germany’s programme to increase access to clean water and sanitation in
urban and peri-urban areas in Zambia.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 00:00
Michael Chideme Municipal Reporter
Most parts of Harare will be without water until the end of the week. City
officials said this was caused by Norton that discharged 10 million litres
of raw sewer
close to Harare’s raw water abstraction point.
The freezing temperatures are also “solidifying sewer effluent,” affecting
Town clerk, Dr Tendai Mahachi, yesterday confirmed the increased pollution
of Lake Manyame by Norton Town Council was part of the problem.
He showed the news crew clarifier ponds that were being cleaned to remove
the blockages during a tour of water works yesterday.
He said Harare was buying pumps to ensure the Norton sewer was pumped into a
nearby plantation instead of Lake Manyame.
“I am going to seek the mandate of council,” he said.
At least US$400 000 is needed to resuscitate the Norton sewer plant.
The water situation is worse in the satellite towns of Chitungwiza, Ruwa and
Epworth with Chitungwiza reporting three cases of typhoid.
Residents were seen scrounging for water in Warren Park, Westlea,
Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Norton yesterday.
In Highlands, Borrowdale, The Grange, Chisipite and Glen Lorne areas,
companies that sell water in bowsers are recording brisk business.
Residents are paying US$50 for a 5 000-litre tank, while a 2 500 litre tank
costs US$40 to fill up.
The water delivery companies do not serve high-density suburbs, a situation
that forces residents to resort to shallow wells and boreholes.
Women are the hardest hit as they walk long distances to fetch water.
Mrs Henrietta Muyambo of Greendale suggested the city should deploy water
bowsers each time there were water “challenges”.
Mr George Rashirai said the water shortages had affected his daily
operations as he had to wake up early to look for water for his children.
Mrs Netsai Chinyuku of Belvedere said the suburb had not experienced any
water shortages despite the city’s depressed supplies.
The Herald news crew yesterday visited the Morton Jaffray Water Treatment
Plant to verify reports that the water clarifiers were blocked.
Harare Metropolitan requires 1 200 million litres a day.
Whittling supplies to around 311 million litres means only a few residents
have access to water.
About 45 percent of the treated water is lost either through leaks or
This implies that very little of the 311 million litres reaches the people.
“Our raw water quality is bad.
“Normally we get 70 percent of our raw water from Lake Manyame.
“But because Norton is discharging its raw sewer into the lake we have had
to cut back on the amount of raw water we abstract,” said Harare Water
director Eng Christopher Zvobgo.
He said the city had been forced to revert to the heavily polluted Lake
Chivero, which is upstream of Lake Manyame.
The effect of the heavy pollution is that the city has increased its
chemical dosage into the water, attracting a huge monthly bill in excess of
Norton chief executive officer, Mr Winslow Muyambi, confirmed his council
was discharging raw sewer into the lake and that the sewer had affected
Harare’s raw water abstraction.
“It is true we have a problem. Our plant collapsed,” he said.
He said the council has drafted a work plan which cannot be implemented
because of cash-flow problems.
Norton owes Harare over US$1,2 million in unpaid water bills while its own
residents owe it US$1,7 million.
Failure to pay by both Norton and its residents has serious repercussions on
reinvestment in the water sector.
Mr Muyambi said besides council, industry was also directly off-loading its
untreated wastewater into the lake.
He said such activities were not only affecting potable water availability
but other water-related activities like farming, fishing and rowing.
By Tichaona Sibanda
26 July 2012
Finance Minister Tendai Biti on Wednesday told Senators in Parliament that
next time civil servants staged a demonstration against government for
better pay, he would join them.
Civil servants on Tuesday demonstrated against Biti after he last week
failed to address their calls for a salary hike during presentation of his
Mid Term Fiscal statement in Parliament.
Fielding questions from Senators on Wednesday, Biti threatened to join civil
servants next time they went on strike. He said: ‘I notice there was a
demonstration yesterday for pay increases by civil servants; I want them to
‘There is no question about that, but the problem is that 73 percent of the
budget is going towards 235,000 people, leaving only 27 percent for 14
million people. Next time they demonstrate, I am going to join them so that
we can go together to the Ministry of Mines to bring money for diamonds and
also to the Ministry of Defence to ask why they are over-employing.’
Last month, the government admitted that it is not receiving any money from
Anjin, an army/Chinese controlled diamond firm in Chiadzwa, which was meant
to be a joint venture cash-cow for the state.
The Anjin mining company was formed in 2009 as a joint agreement between
Zimbabwe and China, after the original claim owners in Chiadzwa were booted
off the site.
The agreement was theoretically meant to ensure that a sizeable portion of
profits from the lucrative alluvial mine went to the Finance Ministry,
through the state owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
The estimated remittances from the Chiadzwa diamond fields were US$600
million, but half-way through the financial year, Biti said he had only
received US$25 million.
By Alex Bell
26 July 2012
ZANU PF’s top decision making body is set to debate the draft constitution
and come up with an official position regarding the new charter, which has
revealed more splits in the party.
Critics say that ZANU PF is at is weakest point in years, with serious
factionalism and infighting casting a shadow across all its decisions. The
draft charter has proved again that all is not well in Robert Mugabe’s
party, with some members expressing their dissatisfaction with the document.
A critical Politburo meeting was called for Wednesday to deal with some of
the issues that have left the party in this state. That meeting is set to
continue until the end of Friday, when the constitution will be discussed.
The meeting was meant to be the start of a “purge” by the Politburo ahead of
elections, with the party trying to get to grips with the factionalism that
soured relations among the top officials. Secretary for Administration
Didymus Mutasa said earlier this week that anyone responsible for “fanning
the flames” would face the “axe.”
But instead of announcing that anyone was being booted out of the party, it
was announced that two previously expelled members were being welcomed
Back in the party is Daniel Shumba, the former ZANU PF Provincial Chairman
for Masvingo, who was implicated in the so-called Tsholothso scandal of
2004. He went on to form his own party, the United People’s Party, which saw
him being kicked out of ZANU PF.
The second member re-admitted is Godwills Shiri, who violated the rules of
ZANU PF by competing as an independent candidate in the 2005 elections in
Mberengwa East Constituency.
|by Taffy Nyawanza|
BRITAIN’S Supreme Court has emphatically ruled in RT (Zimbabwe) & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 38 (25 July 2012) that people should not be forced to lie about their true beliefs or lack of them in order to avoid persecution in brutal and despotic regimes such as Zimbabwe.
In a fairly brief decision, a full bench of seven lord justices upheld the correctness of the Court of Appeal decision in RT (Zimbabwe).
“Is it an answer to a refugee claim by an individual who has no political views and who therefore does not support the persecutory regime in his home country to say that he would lie and feign loyalty to that regime in order to avoid the persecutory ill-treatment to which he would otherwise be subjected?”
And writing the majority opinion, Lord Dyson puts the discussion in the context of the current Country Guidance case of RN (Zimbabwe) which confirms that anyone who is not loyal to Robert Mugabe’s regime will be at risk upon forcible return to Zimbabwe. He crystallises the issues before the court as:
# Whether the HJ (Iran) principle – which says that homosexuals do not have to lie about their sexuality to avoid persecution – can apply to an individual who has no political beliefs but has to pretend to support a political regime in order to avoid the persecution?
# Whether there is a real risk that such a person would face persecution on the grounds that he would be perceived to be a supporter of MDC, even though he may not be an MDC supporter?
Relating to the first issue, the Supreme Court states that the Refugee Convention gives equal protection to the right to express political opinion openly as it does to the right to live openly as a homosexual. There are no hierarchies of protection.
This applies equally to someone who actually has
no political beliefs but who is forced to pretend he does have them to avoid
persecution. This is because under both international and European human rights law,
the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression protects non-believers
as well as believers and extends to the freedom not to hold and not
to have to express opinions.
In other words, “freedom to express one's opinion necessarily includes freedom not to express one's opinion”. More to the point, “Refugee law does not require a person to express false support for an oppressive regime”.
The judges said that this is because the idea "if you are not with us, you are against us" pervades the thinking of dictators. “From their perspective, there is no real difference between neutrality and opposition.”
As for the second issue, the Supreme Court confirms that even though a person may not in fact hold any political opinion, he may be perceived to hold them. As this leads to persecution, such a person is worthy of protection because it is the perspective of the persecutor which is determinative in this respect.
However, the more important enquiry relates to situations where people may pretend or lie that they in fact support a repressive regime. It is therefore crucial to assess whether they would be believed. In the context of Zimbabwe, for instance, a person may lie that they support Mugabe. But would the militias necessarily believe them?
The Supreme Court answers this by confirming that, on the current evidence, there is a high likelihood of being stopped at roadblocks and being interrogated in Zimbabwe except for those living in more affluent low density urban areas or the suburbs. And upon interrogation, it is highly likely that they would be disbelieved if they stated that they support Mugabe.
In a concurring speech, Lord Kerr emphasises that as a general principle, the denial of refugee protection on the basis that the person who is liable to be the victim of persecution can avoid it by lying is deeply unattractive, if not totally offensive.
This decision comes hard on the heels of yet another welcome development regarding the Country Guidance position by virtue of a Court of Appeal Consent Order which means that EM (Zimbabwe) is no longer good law.
RN (Zimbabwe) is now the current applicable law. RN (Zimbabwe) simply says that any Zimbabwean who has been in the UK for some time (the threshold in RN is 2 years) and who has claimed asylum should succeed in their claim if they have been found to be generally credible. This is because they will find it very hard to demonstrate that they are loyal to the Mugabe regime.
It should be possible to make a successful asylum claim on the basis of these developments, and for failed asylum seekers, to lodge fresh asylum applications simply on the basis of this decision, especially where someone was refused on the basis of EM (Zimbabwe).
All this will become even more relevant as the general elections draw nearer. We understand that the D-Day will either be late this year or early next year – which is more probable. What is beyond any shred of doubt is that this election is the big one and anyone who believes that Mugabe is ready to cede power to Tsvangirai is smoking something very strong.
Taffi Nyawanza is the principal of Genesis Law Associates, a specialist immigration and asylum law firm in Birmingham. He can be contacted on email@example.com or ph. 0121 212 0451 or visit Genesis Law Associates’ website at www.genesislaw.co.uk
Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on immigration law. It is not intended to replace the advice or services of a solicitor. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information
By Alex Bell
26 July 2012
A group of City Councillors in Harare are planning a legal bid to halt the
construction of a mall in Borrowdale, with more questions being asked about
the legality of the agreement that led to the land being handed over as a
The mall project has been shrouded in controversy and marred by public
protest, with conservationists leading the call for the building site to be
moved elsewhere. Currently, the plans are to build the mall in a wetlands
area of Borrowdale, which conservation groups have warned will have a
serious environmental impact.
The Elected Councillors Association of Zimbabwe is now also planning to step
in, amid reports of shady deals and corruption. The Association has
finalised papers it plans to lodge with the Administrative Court to halt the
construction, as part of a wider investigation into unscrupulous business
dealings in Harare involving Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
The Association’s Worship Dumba told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the
matter goes back to a 2008 deal secured by Chombo for the construction of
the Harare Airport Road. That project saw an agreement being signed by
Chombo and Augur Investments, the company now also involved in the mall
The land now being used for the mall in Borrowdale is understood to be part
of the payment plan for the airport road, which was priced at US$80 million.
That figure is seventy million more than what independent estimates pegged
the cost of the road to be. A councillors investigation in 2010 meanwhile
said that the agreement formed part of a scam to “fleece the council out of
millions of dollars and vast tracts of prime land.”
Dumba told SW Radio Africa that the irregularities are vast, including the
fact that Augur Investments was a company set up by Chombo back in 2008.
Among the companies board of directors are Harare City Council Town Clerk
Tendai Mahachi, and the director of urban planning services Psychology
Chiwanga, who are all Chombo placements. Dumba said this is a clear
“conflict of interest.”
He also explained how the proper procedures for the selling of council land
were also not followed in the deal for the mall, including the fact that the
land was seriously undervalued.
“It is very queer that the land which is worth 15 dollars per square meter
was sold at just three dollars fifty per square metre,” Dumba explained.
He added that other legal requirements, like residents being legally allowed
to register their complaints about council land plans, were not followed. He
said these procedural problems, plus the clear conflict of interests in the
deal were enough to table a legal challenge.
“We think it is best that that the administrative court looks into it and
brings everyone to book who is involved in shoddy deals. Our paperwork is
finalised and we are waiting for a council decision on the future of the
mall before deciding to file the application,” Dumba said
The Harare City Council is still to give its full approval for the project
at a meeting in the city next Tuesday. Already, Harare Mayor Muchadeyi
Masunda has given the plans the ‘thumbs up’ while the council’s environment
committee has said it approves of the plan.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
26 July 2012
The co-chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC)
for Mashonaland Central is reported to be in police custody after being
abducted by officers on Wednesday.
Godfrey Chimombe of the MDC-N, who co-chairs Mash Central’s JOMIC team with
Henry Chimbiri from the MDC-T, is being held by Law and Order officials in
Bindura. Chimbiri told SW Radio Africa that police had initially refused to
specify the charges and are being “extremely rude”.
Chimbiri explained that the police eventually accused the MDC-N official of
making a statement regarding the death of the late army general Solomon
Mujuru. No other details were given about the charges but an unnamed police
officer told Chimbiri the case would go to court next week.
Chimbiri said this is a plot by the partisan police to because they want to
curtail Chimombe’s movements in Mash Central, where JOMIC are making
progress with their peace-building initiatives.
JOMIC was established by regional leaders who negotiated the inclusive
government, to assist the political parties with implementation of the
Global Political Agreement (GPA). Their mandate includes monitoring
political violence and mediating in the conflicts between the parties. But
the Committee has no powers to make arrests.
Chimbiri said the police in the province have made it clear they support
ZANU PF and are the ones sabotaging JOMIC’s efforts to create an environment
free of political violence. He added that a faction within ZANU PF is making
moves to undermine JOMIC and the MDC formations.
“Most of the farms that were seized in this province are occupied by people
who are the most brutal within ZANU PF. It is some of the best farmland and
it is occupied by military officials and brigadiers who want to destroy the
GPA,” Chimbiri said.
The MDC-T official warned the police to stop the harassment, saying
Zimbabweans are tired of being pushed around and will retaliate when
elections are held.
Professor Matodzi Harare, July 26, 2012 - The State on Wednesday withdrew
summons issued against Abel Chikomo, the executive director of the Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum, to stand trial on charges of running an
Chikomo was served with summons early this month by two police officers only
identified as Sergeant Ndawana and Detective Chipwanya to stand trial at the
Harare Magistrates Court on Wednesday 25 July 2012.
But the trial could not commence after State prosecutor Innocent Chingarande
withdrew summons issued against Chikomo after he advised that the State was
not ready to proceed with the matter.
It was agreed that should the State intend to proceed with the matter they
would have to serve fresh summons on Chikomo to initiate the case.
Chikomo was represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights board member
Selby Hwacha and Jeremiah Bamu.
He denied the charges which came after the forum conducted a survey on
transitional justice in Harare’s Highfield suburb. The State said the survey
was illegal since the organisation was unregistered.
by Staff Reporter
RESTIVE legislators this week blasted political squabbling and policy
confusion in the coalition cabinet as concern increased over country’s
faltering economy with the 2012 national budget now off the rails, rendering
initial growth projections overly optimistic.
The MPs demanded the cabinet come up with serious policy interventions as
they debated last week’s Mid Term Fiscal Policy review in which Finance
Minister Tendai Biti admitted the US$4 billion revenue projection for the
year would fall 10 percent short and cut growth forecast from the initial
9,4 percent to 5,6 percent.
“We have failed to come up with indicators just to say there will be
something in two years and in two years this country will have enough
energy. Yet Cabinet meets every week, Ministers are in their offices every
day and one wonders what is really happening,” said Goromonzi North MP Paddy
Zhanda (Zanu PF).
“We are appealing to the Government to be serious in addressing the economic
situation in the country. We cannot allow for politics to continue taking
centre stage in the country.
“The (Finance Minister) has attempted to do something like trying to repair
a battered vehicle - the chassis is burnt, the engine is oozing out oil, the
radiator is leaking, it has no cap, it is boiling, it is showering water
out, the tyres are worn out, it has no lights, it has no starter, the window
screen is shattered, the boot, the bonnet and all doors are secured by wire.
“The vehicle will not go anywhere and the first thing that the unlicensed
driver wants to do is to fix the number plates. The economy has got a host
of problems and sincerely we have to start with first things first.”
Zhanda said it was inconceivable that the government had failed to address
perennial energy supply problems which have hit the country’s productive
sectors such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
“How do we turn around the economy with energy shortages? Mining,
agriculture . . . all need energy. We are dealing with an economy that
hinges its turnaround on agriculture and mining all need energy yet this was
Zimbabwe does not generate enough electricity to meet its needs and efforts
to plug the gap with imports from the region have been undermined by the
lack of funds. Supplies are currently being rationed between both commercial
and domestic users.
The legislators said political squabbling in the cabinet had taken
precedence over sensible economic planning, citing the public spat between
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu and his Industry counterpart Welshman Ncube over
ZISCOSTEEL which has stalled a deal to resuscitate the collapsed company.
“The minister brought a budget that was approved by Cabinet and then after
the presentation another minister comes the following day in newspapers
lampooning the same budget,” said Bulawayo East representative Ms Tabitha
“What are you saying to us backbenchers, what are you saying to the ordinary
people when we expect you to be a team.”
Biti admitted that the cabinet was largely dysfunctional and told MPs his
mid-term fiscal policy review was effectively a “crisis statement”.
“There is absolutely no exaggeration at all the inclusive Government is
dysfunctional; it has failed to transcend the make-up of party politics and,
as a result, half-baked statements continue to be made, illiterate
statements continue to be made, cheap points scoring continue to be made in
the end who suffers, is not the person who sits in Cabinet but the ordinary
people,” he said.
Biti said Zimbabwe needed foreign direct investment adding the cabinet had
agreed key changes to the country’s indigenisation legislation under which
foreign companies cannot own more than 51 percent of their local operations.
Critics claim the policy, mainly pushed by President Robert Mugabe and his
Zanu PF party, will harm prospects of attracting much-needed foreign
“I went to the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Cde Robert Mugabe and we agreed on this and we are
going to implement it because without FDI we cannot grow this economy, we
cannot create jobs FDI is the oxygen we need,” Biti said.
By A Correspondent
Published: July 25, 2012
ZIMBABWE’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti has ruled out a return of the
Zimbabwean dollar saying that the country’s central bank is still
incompetent to print the infamous currency.
Responding to questions by Senators led by Matobo Senator, Sithembile
Mlotshwa, Biti said the reserve bank’s imports are still outweighing the
exports a situation that would bring automatic detriment to a locally
printed currency. Biti resounded memories of economic disaster in recent
years when toilet tissue paper became more expensive than the country’s own
“Another tsunami” if Zim Dollar is reprinted
Biti said that the balance of payments account would immediately trigger
more disaster if the dollar were printed soon.
“The Zimbabwean dollar is going to come back – there is no question about
it, but there are factors for government to determine when it is coming and
these are the relationship between imports and exports and that relationship
“Our exports are around $3 billion, but our imports are around $8 billion
and that equation is not balancing and so you cannot bring back the Z$ until
we narrow the current account and until this country is able to export goods
of at least $10 billion. Both our capital and current accounts are in the
negative and our balance of payment position is in the negative and if we
bring the Zimbabwean dollar today, it will be hit by tsunami such that those
trillions will even be more,” he said.
High interest rates
Biti also stated that the current high interest rates are due to the fact
that people are viewing the US currency as the Zim dollar, causing
exhorbitant interest rates.
People are trying to bring down the US$ to the level of the Z$ and banks are
putting 10% to 15% interest rates on lending yet this is a US$ economy. In
America if you are given a 3% interest rate they will say there is something
wrong with that bank, yet in Zimbabwe just to get a plumber to fix your
geyser they will charge you $400,” he added.
On other issues, Mr Biti lamented the condition of government parastatals
and their bosses who he charged for living lavish lifestyles and allegedly
bleeding the companies through corruption.
“We have refused to give them money and we have not financed any parastatal,
but we are also sitting on the value of money because these parastatals like
the GMB can be valuable companies,” he said.
CDF FUND more money
Legislators received good news that the minister will soon set aside another
$20 000 and $30 000 for the Constituency Development Fund but in view of
past abuses, added that a proper legal framework should be set up.
The latest debates about the Zim dollar have been triggered after Reserve
Bank govenor Gideon Gono called for a return of the local currency despite
concerns about viability.
Harare, July 26, 2012 — President Robert Mugabe will launch the Marange
Zimunya Community Share Ownership Thursday as government presses ahead with
the indigenisation programme which analysts say scare away foreign
The trust, the fifth to be launched since last year, will see the diamond
producers contributing to the trust.
In May government launched the Gwanda community share ownership trust.
Last year the Mhondoro-Ngezi-Zvimba community trust was launched in which
Zimplats gave 10% to the community.
Unki launched the Tongogara trust while Mimosa also launched the Mimosa
Under the Indigenisation Act a company can be compliant it it sets up
community trust, employee trust or sell shareholding to the National
Indigenisation Economic Empowerment Fund.
Government’s indigenisation programme has been mired in controversy as
officials offer conflicting statements on how the policy would be
Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently said that cabinet had agreed to
exempted new investors from complying with the 51% threshold. Youth
Development Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere and
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono recently traded barbs over
implementation of the programme in the financial sector, the heart beat of
Old Mutual, Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited and Meikles Limited have already set
up employee trusts.
25 July 2012
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington
Barely a day after staging an hour-long protest against the government for
failing to increase their salaries, Zimbabwe civil servant unions were
battling each other Wednesday over leadership of their umbrella body, the
Tensions were already simmering even as they united in Tuesday's march
demanding a salary hike.
Some unions falling under the Apex Council, notably the Progressive Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe and the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, are against the
appointment of one Cecilia Alexander as the Apex Council's new chairperson.
She was set to take over Wednesday from outgoing chair Tendai Chikowore
whose term of office expired in February. Alexander was secretary general
Chikowore's outgoing Apex Council executive.
The PTUZ and the ZTU do not want Alexander to head the union saying as an
outgoing secretary general, she should give the opportunity to new faces.
Unions in the Apex Council rotate the chairmanship post, so it is now the
PSA's turn to second its candidate but other unions do not agree with its
choice of Alexander.
Chikowore’s should have handed over to Alexander and her team Wednesday but
in-fighting and squabbles made it impossible.
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo says they
are rejecting Alexander because they are tired of having "recycled leaders".
General secretary Raymond Majongwe of the PTUZ agrees with Nyawo, adding
they are not against the PSA’s chairmanship, but its choice of candidate.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu says his
organization will not interfere with the running of the PSA, whose
secretary, Emmanuel Tichareva, told VOA a meeting would soon be called to
discuss the divisive issue.
by JASON SMITH, Plus other sources 1 hour ago
LONDON - The United Kingdom government has raised concerns with Virgin
Islands officials about VI-registered companies that are allegedly involved
in allowing members of the Zimbabwean “secret police” to profit from the
country’s diamond trade.
The UK’s House of Commons hosted a debate on Zimbabwe’s “blood diamonds” on
July 17 to discuss the link between the country’s minerals trade and alleged
human rights abuses.
During the debate, members discussed a report published in June by the
non-profit group Global Witness that alleged members of Zimbabwean’s Central
Intelligence Organisation had used a network of companies, including some
registered in the VI, to disguise funding the group had reportedly received
from Sam Pa, a Chinese businessman.
Alistair Burt, a Conservative Party MP, said that discussions about the
matter, and about the identity of the beneficial owners of the VI-registered
companies, are ongoing.
“The question of governance and transparency in diamond revenue flows
therefore remains genuinely difficult to answer,” he said, adding, “We have
discussed this with partners. … We have raised concerns about the handling
of diamond finance with the British Virgin Islands.”
This week the Zimbabwe Independent, which has over the years been
investigating the goings-on at Marange diamond fields, carries the third
instalment of the latest Global Witness report, Financing A Parallel
Government?, which makes interesting revelations about Chiadzwa.
This week the report by the UK-based non-governmental organisation which
campaigns against natural resource-related conflict, corruption and
associated environmental and human rights abuses exposes how Zimbabwe’s
security forces direct shadowy companies as a means to fund their agenda
off-budget. The Global Witness reports sheds light on activities unfolding
at Marange diamond fields, detailing who is involved and the intricate
networks comprising the Chinese and Zimbabwe’s security forces, the army,
police and intelligence services dealing in diamonds, cotton and property
Members of the CIO are directors of three interlinked companies:
Sino-Zimbabwe Development (Pte) Ltd, registered in Singapore on June 12
2009, with directors: Lo Fong Hung, Veronica Fung Yuen, Jimmy Zerenie, Gift
Kalisto Machengete and Pritchard Zhou;
Strong Achieve Holdings Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands on
March 23 2009, with authorised signatory: Masimba Ignatius Kamba;
Sino-Zimbabwe Development (Pvt) Ltd, incorporated in Zimbabwe on May 14
2010, with directors: Masimba Ignatius Kamba and Lo Fong Hung.
Global Witness, through information obtained from several sources within the
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), has identified three of the
Zimbabwean directors of these companies as members of the CIO.
The first, Gift Kalisto Machengete, is a director of the Zimbabwean company
Sino-Zimbabwe Development (Pvt) Ltd, and holds 51% of that company’s shares,
according to records held at the Zimbabwean company registry. Multiple
sources from within the secret police identify Dr Machengete as a director
of finance and administration in the CIO. Machengete is also currently a
board member of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), and on its website he has
publicly listed his career history as including employment as a research
economist in the President’s Department (parent department of the CIO) from
He was also Head of Coordination and Secretariat in the President’s
Department in 1998; Acting High Commissioner at the Zimbabwean High
Commission in Malaysia; and from 2006 he was appointed as deputy director
Administration and Finance in the President’s Department.
Further, there is a company called Sino-Zim Diamonds Ltd, registered in Hong
Kong on April 15 2010. This shares a director, Jimmy Zerenie, with
Sino-Zimbabwe Development (Pvt) Ltd, but Global Witness has no information
to suggest that the CIO has any role in this Hong Kong company, nor that the
directors or staff of Sino-Zim Diamonds Ltd had any knowledge of any CIO
involvement in “Sino-Zimbabwe Development”.
The second, Pritchard Zhou, is a director of Sino-Zimbabwe Development (Pvt)
Ltd. According to Zimbabwe’s company register, Zhou has been identified as a
CIO operative by several sources within the secret police. In 2005 he was a
minister counsellor at the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa. He is
presently director of the Zimbabwe National Heritage Trust.
The third, Masimba Ignatius Kamba, is identified by one source as holding a
leadership position within the Zimbabwean company, Sino-Zimbabwe Development
(Pvt) Ltd, although he does not appear in the Zimbabwean company register.
He is, however, listed as a director of Sino-Zimbabwe Development (Pte) Ltd,
registered in Singapore, and as the authorised signatory for Strong Achieve
Holdings Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands. Several credible
sources within the CIO identified Kamba as another CIO member.
In addition Kamba was named in the media as a senior member of the CIO when,
in 2010, he was the beneficiary of the unlawful seizure of Silverton Estate,
a commercial farm. During the seizure of the farm, Kamba told the owners he
was director of finance in the President’s Office. This claim was publicly
repeated in 2010 in the newsletter of the Office of the Zimbabwe Prime
Minister (MDC), which alleged that Kamba is the director of administration
in the CIO.
In some of the court documentation surrounding the farm seizure Kamba is
sometimes described as Ignatius Kamba, and once gives his address as Private
Bag 0095, Gaborone, the address of the Sadc secretariat in Botswana.
There are also several public reports of men named Ignatius Kamba, Masimba
Kamba or IM Kamba, who may be the same man, but Global Witness has not been
able to confirm they are one and the same person. In 1998 Kamba was a
counsellor in Zimbabwe’s Mission to the European Union. In 2004 in a list of
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s governing board an IM Kamba was publicly
listed as acting director of Economics in the President’s Department. A man
named Masimba Kamba was appointed to the board of the National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe in 2006. Finally, in 2011, a Masimba Kamba attended, as a Sadc
representative, an Asean-EU High Level Expert Workshop on Preventive
Diplomacy and International Peace Mediation, held in Indonesia.
Sino-Zimbabwe Cotton Holdings, a company which Global Witness believes to be
in effect the same firm as Sino-Zimbabwe Development (Pvt) Ltd, is accused
of being represented by senior Zanu PF politicians and serving and retired
CIO officers during a 2010 dispute over the company’s behaviour in the
cotton industry. In court documents senior Zanu PF government officials are
alleged to have “spearheaded” the entry of the company into Zimbabwe. These
officials include Saviour Kasukuwere, the Minister of Youth Development,
Indigenisation and Empowerment, Nicholas Goche, Minister of Transport and
Assistant Commissioner Martin Kwainona, a police officer and member of
President Mugabe’s personal bodyguard.
Goche and Kasukuwere are on both the EU and US sanctions lists, while
Kwainona is on the EU sanctions list.
Global Witness interviewed some of the parties to the dispute. They alleged
that during meetings between the parties, Sino-Zimbabwe Cotton Holdings was
represented by former members of the CIO. On one occasion, a currently
serving senior member of the CIO represented Sino-Zimbabwe Cotton Holdings.
At district level Global Witness interviewees identified local Sino-Zimbabwe
Cotton Holdings representatives as CIO officers, who were permanently based
in the areas where they operated and were well known to locally-based cotton
Sam Pa’s apparent financial support for the CIO undermines Zimbabwean
democratic processes and institutions. By its very nature, off-budget
financing of the security sector undermines Zimbabwean democratic processes
and institutions. The GNU should decide its spending priorities through
collective agreement in cabinet. Zimbabwe’s National Security Council should
set a national security strategy, and the GNU should raise taxes to fund
these priorities. The process of managing expenditure and raising revenues
should be carried out by the Ministry of Finance, overseen by the cabinet of
These processes should be scrutinised by parliament. Off-budget financing
undermines democracy by allowing security forces to set, and fund, their own
July 26, 2012
HARARE, Zimbabwe — The U.S. government has pledged an additional $39 million
to fight AIDS in cash-strapped Zimbabwe, bringing its total contribution to
nearly $100 million. The funds come through the President's Emergency Plan
for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR.
Announcing the increase in PEPFAR funding this week, outgoing U.S.
Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray said that with the new U.S. support,
non-governmental organizations now will supply anti-retroviral medication to
140,000 HIV-positive patients.
"We will be looking [at] an increase of about $15 million in the area of
voluntary medical circumcision, which is a proven safe and effective
intervention measure for HIV prevention," said Jillian Bonnardeaux, acting
U.S. spokeswoman in Harare while describing how the new PEPFAR funds will be
used. "We will see $18.6 million to allow the government of Zimbabwe to
increase anti-retroviral medications and the third area is toward
accelerating the prevention of mother-to-child transmission."
According to U.N. figures, Zimbabwe has about 1.2 million people living with
the HIV virus. The country is already familiar with anti-retroviral
medications and the concept of preventing mother-to-child transmission. But
the idea of male circumcision appears to be getting some resistance.
Since June, when some members of parliament underwent voluntary medical
circumcision, the Zimbabwean media has been downplaying the effectiveness of
the method. Media reports say circumcision is a dangerous distraction in the
fight against HIV/AIDS, claiming the procedure only reduces female-to-male
HIV transmission rates by no more than 1.3 percent.
The U.N. World Health Organization WHO, however, says male circumcision
reduces female-to-male HIV transmission by up to 60 percent.
Bonnardeaux said the negative perception will disappear in time.
"I think anything that is new deserves a closer look. This male circumcision
is something that has been proved safe and effective. We need to look at the
science behind it. I think part of it is our job and part of it is the job
of the Zimbabweans of how it can be effective here," said Bonnardeaux.
Zimbabwe journalist Tinashe Farawo was circumcised last month. He endorses
all three initiatives to achieve what the Obama administration has called an
"AIDS-Free Generation." That includes male circumcision.
"People are dying because of this disease [HIV/AIDS]. But if people get
circumcised and use all other methods: condomize, be faithful to their
partners, getting tested, I think it will be OK because it was proved," said
Farawo. "Of course, you still remain exposed because 60 percent is not 100
percent, so you are still at risk like anyone else."
HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe has dropped steadily during the past 15 years,
falling from an estimated 26 percent in the late 1990s to about 14 percent
25 July 2012
Sithandekile Mhlanga | Washington
Women from various African countries, including Zimbabwe, have formed a
coalition to fight HIV/AIDS, at the ongoing International AIDS Conference in
Washington, urging prevention and treatment to focus mostly on young women
still at child-bearing stage.
The Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition was officially launched amid
ceremony on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, current president of the
Global Power Africa Women Network, urged women to fight the stigma
associated with HIV/AIDS, and focus on improving their lives.
Khupe gave a personal account of how she bravely fought breast cancer
without giving in to negative comments and attitudes.
“Some people were saying 'look she is thin, she is dying' but I fought on,"
she said to thunderous applause. "I went bald during treatment, refusing to
wear a wig. I stood tall and was proud of myself. Today, I stand in front of
you alive and kicking.”
The organization’s convener, Tendai Westerhorf, also a Zimbabwean and
publicly living with HIV, outlined the aims of the organization, which has a
membership of 24 African countries.
She said the group will work with civic organization at country level and
international groups to implement policies.
Delegates from other African countries complimented the newly-formed group
and delivered messages of solidarity. A moment of silence was observed to
honor the late Ghanaian president John Evans Atta Mills, who died Tuesday.
Speaking to Studio 7 on the sidelines of the conference, ending Friday,
lawmaker Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians
Against HIV/AIDS said the global focus of the conference will energize
people from all countries to fight the epidemic.
At Wednesday’s plenary session, experts told the International AIDS
Conference that women still bear the burden of HIV/AIDS three decades into
the epidemic, adding females therefore, needed to be a priority in research,
care, and treatment.
Chewe Luo, Senior Advisor on HIV/AIDS at UNICEF said the global aim is to
eliminate new HIV infections by 2015.
Luo added a research is being done to test and treat HIV positive pregnant
women regardless of their CD4 count to optimize their health and reduce
mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and spreading of the virus among
The bungling Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority is set to lose the
Bulawayo Power Station to the Bulawayo City Council if current negotiations
between the government and the local authority materialise.
by Zwanai Sithole Harare
“We want ZESA to bring back the Bulawayo Power Station to the council so
that the city electricity’s high costs can be reduced. Representations have
already been made to government,” said the Mayor, Thaba Moyo.
“The issue of transferring the power station has been debated in parliament
.It was decided that local authorities which owns power station should
repossess them and generate their own electricity,” he said.
Last month, the Harare City Council also demanded the Harare Power Station
back from ZESA. The city council accuses the power utility of running down
the power station. The Bulawayo thermal power station became part of ZESA in
1987 after the amalgamation of all the Local Authority Electricity
The council’s decision was hardened early this after ZESA disconnected
electricity to Tower Block and the city council over a debt of more than $20
Bulawayo, July 26, 2012 - Electricity blackout marred the official opening
of the mine show which kicked off in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), the venue of the expo had no
electricity, resulting in exhibitors failing to demonstrate their equipment
to clients and also failing to make power point presentations.
Both foreign and local exhibitors who spoke to Radio VOP blasted the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) for the black out and the
organisers for failing to have a backup plan.
George Huggigs, whose company is exhibiting underground mining locomotives,
said his stand had no electricity for most of the morning despite assurances
that power would be restored within minutes.
His sentiments were also echoed by George Moyo, the general manager of Bolt
Gas an international industrial mining company.
“Since morning we have been doing nothing. We cannot show our clients videos
of what our company offers. This is an international event which did not
deserve electricity interruption. We are very disappointed,” said Moyo who
is based in South Africa.
He said the blackout was unfortunate as the show had attracted several
Over 6,500 square metres of space was taken up by exhibitors to the show
that is expected to be officially opened by Vice President Joice Mujuru on
Thursday but ends on Friday. A total of 200 foreign and local exhibitors are
Although ZESA's spokesperson, Fullard Gwasira, could not be reached for
comment, officials at the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution
Company (ZETDC) stand claimed that the electricity blackout was caused by a
by Staff Reporter
FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti has again laid into the China-controlled
diamond mining firm, Anjin Investments, claiming the company was ripping the
country off adding its murky operations were reminiscent of settler-colonial
Biti told legislators that although diamond production had increased from
2,5 million carats to 4,5 million carats this year, revenues had been
stagnant at US$41 million and singled out Anjin for particular criticism.
He claimed that the Chinese firm, the largest of the five companies
operating in the reputedly rich diamond fields at Marange, was taking most
of the revenues out of the country.
“It can’t be a one way traffic of extraction (without benefits to Zimbabwe)
that would make Cecil John Rhodes look like an angel…we are going to
continue speaking about diamonds,” he said.
Biti said while Mbada Diamonds – a much smaller company - had contributed
US$2 million in Pay As You Earn, Anjin brought in just US$200,000.
“Where we got US$41 million we should have got US$285 million. To accept
US$41 million it means we are stupid, we are fools; we are idiots,” he said.
“The Chinese are saying to themselves that we found our fools in Zimbabwe.
In other countries they are building freeways, dams, real development and
not these hotels they are building here.”
Biti was reacting to concern from MPs over the state of the country’s
economy after he was forced to cut his growth forecast for the year and
concede that the US$600 million expected from diamond sales would no longer
But Anjin has previously dismissed Biti’s criticism, accusing the Minister
of over-estimating potential revenues from diamonds when he presented his
“It is either he is untruthful, incompetent or illiterate. He made the
blunder and miscalculated. He must be man enough and admit that he made a
mistake,” Anjin board member Munyaradzi Machacha said last month during a
visit to Marange by EU envoys.
“He (Biti) is scapegoating companies like Anjin for his miscalculations. He
is persecuting a cash cow because he made a blunder.”
Still, MPs urged the government to find ways of ensuring diamond revenues
were not diverted away from Treasury.
Said Bulawayo East MP Tabitha Khumalo: “The money from Chiadzwa must go to
Treasury, Chiadzwa must be owned by the State, We have money but we have
“If the Cabinet does not want to deal with the question of Chiadzwa then I
am going to urge the people of Zimbabwe to go and invade Chiadzwa.”
Anjin Investments is one of the five companies presently operating at the
Marange diamond fields.
Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire recently revealed that the Zimbabwe
Defence Industries (ZDI) has a 40 percent interest in the company while the
state-run mining firm, ZMDC, owns 10 percent. The balance is controlled by
the Chinese Defence Industries.
23 July 2012
INTRO: Zimbabwe's long-awaited draft constitution is finally out, after four years of bickering between the coalition government parties. The management committee, comprising negotiators from the three political parties in the unity government, worked through the night until they agreed on the final draft on July 17. Each one had to append their signatures to the final copy to avoid backtracking problems in the future.
Kent University law lecturer Dr. Alex Magaisa was an expert adviser for the MDC-T to the Parliamentary Select Committee, or COPAC, which was responsible for crafting the draft.
Magaisa tells the Voice of America's Violet Gonda that the final draft has some positive changes from the current Lancaster House Constitution. However, the law expert says there are some clauses that were in the first draft that appear to have disappeared in this last document that was finalized by the management committee. The changes include the disbanding of the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee, which was supposed to recommend or vet appointments made by the President.
He began by talking about a proposal for an American-style election system with presidential running mates.
MAGAISA: This is something new in Zimbabwe. My understanding is that there will be a President who will have not just one but two running mates. The person who runs for the presidency will have to nominate two running mates if he or she wins there will be a first Vice President and a second Vice President. So there will be a clear hierarchy of power. I think there will be criticism that there is no need to have two running mates but I suspect the negotiators were looking at it from the specific dynamics of Zimbabwean politics.
GONDA: So what are the implications of having two running mates?
MAGAISA: The issue of the two vice presidents is one that emerged in the Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF ZAPU but I think its fairly well known that in Zimbabwean politics there is always the dynamic of trying to balance the regional concerns, in particular between the southern and northern regions so that you have two vice presidents.
Personally I am not in favor of it because it’s a sheer waste of money, I think it will be useful simply to have one Vice President and deal with it that way but this is what we have. The implications –you have a large presidium but at the same time I think it also means that you are going to have a clear line of succession. Persons who are running for presidency, whether in Zanu PF, the MDCs or any other political party are going to be forced to nominate who they favor to be their Vice President and this is what the system is going to do. The constitution does not say the political party chooses the running mate, it say the person nominates the persons who are going to be running mates. So I think for all those people who were arguing so hard about who is going to succeed who, in the different political parties, the signal will be shown by who is selected as a running mate in the elections. So that is important for Zimbabwe.
But finally the issue of succession in the event of the death or generally the vacation of office by the President then the Vice President automatically succeeds to become the new President – like in the Malawi situation – so it becomes more certain, more clearer than the present situation, which is mired in confusion.
GONDA: What happens if the presidential candidate loses … does this mean the running mates lose out on parliamentary seats?
MAGAISA: That’s correct. If you choose to be a running mate you take the risk that if the President loses - in fact it’s both of you who are losing because you are being elected jointly. So you have to take the risk that if you lose you don’t have political office. But I suspect that there maybe ways of dealing with it because if you look at the way the parliament is going to be structured there will be opportunities for persons to come, perhaps, through the backdoor as non-constituency MPs – like persons elected by proportional representation or through the provinces themselves because there will be a provincial government as well.
GONDA: What does this draft say about the composition of cabinet ministers and deputies.
MAGAISA: The President will appoint the ministers and deputies. Unfortunately there is no cap on the numbers, which might have been expected. I think this was an issue, which was discussed over some time, but the final draft does not contain a cap on the numbers of ministers and deputy ministers.
GONDA: What do you make of that?
MAGAISA: It does have its challenges. If you cap the number of ministers and deputy ministers there is always the risk that you are tying the hands of the government but also at the same time it means that the concerns of those who felt the government should not be too big would not have been addressed and people may raise questions about that.
GONDA: What was finally decided on the issue of dual citizenship and the diaspora vote?
MAGAISA: This was one of the very contentious issues from the very beginning because there was controversy as to whether dual citizenship should be allowed. There were a number of clauses that came up but I think that in the end it was felt that it was not necessary to put in clauses relating specifically to dual citizenship in the constitution except for citizens by registration.
So what this means essentially is that every person who is born in Zimbabwe is a citizen by birth and a person who is born outside Zimbabwe to a citizen by birth is a citizen by descent, and the constitution is saying that all citizens are equal – whether by birth or by descent are entitled to the same rights. So there is no discrimination. Which effectively does away with the debate over dual citizenship.
The only point at which the issue of dual citizenship is discussed is in relation to citizen by registration and it is at that point that an act of parliament may deal with the issue of whether or not the person should be allowed to take dual citizenship.
But what it means is that for the bulk of Zimbabweans who are natural citizens, to use that word, descent by birth - then there is no issue as to whether or not they can hold dual citizenship. I think that matter is now settled and I think it is a good conclusion to what was a contentious issue.
GONDA: What about on the issue of voting – especially on the diaspora vote?
MAGAISA: The Bill of Rights provides for political rights. Now we did not always have a clause dealing specifically with political rights in our constitution. But we have had a number of decisions that have been decided by the courts including the case made last year – the Piroro case – which dealt with this issue of citizenship. The point is our constitution now is recognising the fact that every citizen is entitled to the right to vote. If you are in the diaspora and you are a citizen then you are eligible to vote but of course there may be challenges because what is happening is that the government – through the Electoral Act – may decide that residency should be one of the qualifications for registration as a voter for example. And to the extent that this should be allowed in the constitution I think that may pose a serious risk to the ability of people in the diaspora to vote, unless if they can successfully challenge this provision. Because personally I think it is contradictory to the right that is provided for under the Bill of Rights.
The other point of course is that there is a provision in relation to the presidential election that says the President and the Vice President shall be directly elected by registered voters. Now instead of ending there it says by registered voters throughout Zimbabwe. This would suggest that you would have to be present in Zimbabwe, in the geographical space of Zimbabwe, in order for you to vote. Which, if interpreted in that restrictive manner it would mean that persons who are outside the borders of Zimbabwe will not be able to vote in a presidential election.
I think that will be a disaster and I think that the right should be interpreted more broadly to say that every citizen who is eligible to vote should be allowed to register and should be allowed to vote regardless of their location.
GONDA: Electoral reform has been one of the contentious issues over the years. Does this draft adequately deal with the issue of reforms?
MAGAISA: There is an entire chapter devoted to electoral systems and there are a number of other provisions that deal with elections – it’s impossible to cover all of them within this short space of time. However, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will have the power to register voters, to compile the voters’ roll and so forth. There may be a slight concern which is that this power is given in the alternative - in that it also says the ZEC may supervise another authority to do so and I think that this must not be read so as to give anyone beyond the ZEC the authority. The ZEC should take up the power and authority to register voters and to maintain the voters’ roll because as we know the registrar general’s office has not been able to maintain a proper and credible voters’ roll over the years. So I think that this is an important thing that the ZEC should really take and exercise their authority over.
There are also other issues including the dabbling into politics by the security services sector. I think the constitution does a very good job in trying to reign in the security forces from engaging in politics. There are a number of extensive provisions, which require political accountability of the security forces, which require the political neutrality of the security forces.
I can appreciate that people will say we want more but I think this is a step in the right direction in promoting a culture of political neutrality for those who are not supposed to be involved in politics.
GONDA: How does the constitution deal with that exactly?
MAGAISA: There are quite a number of provisions, which deal with the issue of political accountability for the security forces. For example the requirement for political neutrality - the requirement that they be apolitical and so forth. There may be concerns by other observers, perhaps when they say the appointments of commanders of the security forces should not have been left solely to the President and that there should have been more parliamentary control and oversight over that – I would agree with them but I think what is important is that provisions by themselves are not the solution. What is more important is the change in the culture of the country, the culture of the security services sector. You don’t need to have the bulk of the constitution that you have if peoples simply behaved themselves and did the right things.
GONDA: This leads us to the issue of presidential powers because one of the key issues has been the issue of separation of powers between the President, parliament and the judiciary. Do you think this constitution does enough to enhance that sense?
MAGAISA: We haven’t had the opportunity to go into great detail to assess this so my comments are generally preliminary on this point. My understanding is that there was a serious attempt to try and curb the powers of the President at least to make the presidency accountable to other institutions including parliament and so forth. There may be other points of concern where, perhaps, people might argue that the President’s powers have not been curbed and there is need to do a little bit more on that. But as I said, in any democracy it is not so much what the constitution gives it is more about the manner in which the character of the people who are governing matters – because even if you were to give them less powers they could easily ignore those constitutional provisions and do as they please.
What I am happy about is that you do see instances where there is a desire to constitutionally provide for a limitation of presidential powers.
GONDA: Can you give us some examples because I understand that in the first draft, for example, if the President wanted to deploy troops he would have been required to seek parliamentary approval or notify parliament but that this is not the issue in this final draft.
MAGAISA: Yes, it’s slightly complicated. The easiest thing would have to simply have a provision, which says whenever there is a deployment of troops you require parliamentary approval but unfortunately the draft does not deal with it in that way. It says that when the President wishes to deploy troops outside Zimbabwe then he would require to notify and getting approval of parliament within a particular period of time.
But then there is also deployment of troops within Zimbabwe and in that circumstance there is no requirement for parliament approval. All that is required is for the President to promptly inform parliament that this is what he or she has done and the place in which those persons have been deployed. So you can think of it in instance like Operation Murambatsvina - soldiers have been deployed in Harare’s high-density areas or in the 1980s in Matabeleland – what is famously known as Gukurahundi where the Fifth Brigade was deployed to the southern regions.
Ideally you would want there to be a check on the power of the President to ensure that there is parliamentary approval in as much as you want parliamentary approval for deployment outside the country. I am not sure why there is a distinction has been made there but I think the idea situation would have been to require parliamentary approval in both situations.
GONDA: Is this a toning down of what the President is required to do?
MAGAISA: Well I am sure they have got their reasons for the way in which they have structured this and it will be useful perhaps to listen to why they have made a distinction between deployment within the country and deployment outside the country.
GONDA: How does it deal with the issue of appointment of senior people and commissions?
MAGAISA: This is obviously a very critical issue because the appointment of senior government officials impacts on the independence of those institutions and this includes judges, independent commissions like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the appointments of ambassadors or permanent secretaries. Originally the way in which this was going to be dealt with was, there was created a particular board called Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee – and I am sure those who have read the initial draft will understand or appreciate what I am talking about here.
Unfortunately this is no longer the case. The Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee is no longer in the final draft. What you have is a different appointment mechanism for different offices, which in some ways is useful because not all offices are the same. So for example the appointment of judges will be done by the President in consultation with the Judicial Services Commission and the Judicial Services Commission will go through hopefully a rigorous public interview process before recommending names to the President for appointment. I am reasonably satisfied by the manner in which the appointment of judges is going to be done – I think it’s similar to the way South Africa does it and as long as the Judicial Services Commission will be independent then I think it’s a fair method.
GONDA: What about the appointment of ambassadors?
MAGAISA: There may be a few concerns there because I think originally the idea was to subject the appointment of ambassadors and permanent secretaries to parliamentary approval but I just observed that the final draft does not seem to have the same provision for requiring parliamentary approval. Again I think the negotiators at the management committee level probably had some very good reasons for coming to this conclusion so it’s not easy for us to pre-judge before they give us information as to why they have decided to say that parliamentary approval is not necessary for those particular offices.
But there is also commissions such as the Electoral Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Gender Commission – the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee would have conducted the interview processes or the approval processes but because it’s no longer there this role is going to be taken up by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, which is an important committee of parliament. So essentially parliament is still going to be involved in the appointment process but through the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. And to be fair this is the same process that is being used currently by virtue of constitutional amendment no. 19. So all the commissions that we have currently like the Zimbabwe Media Commission and so forth were appointed in accordance with the procedure that is now being recommended for in the draft constitution.
GONDA: So this Committee on Standing Rules and Orders can work?
MAGAISA: I would like to think that it can. I think it has worked in the last three years. I don’t think that there has been a serious dispute over its ability to conduct the interviews. What it is going to do is essentially what the Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee was going to do. Like I said we have not studied the differences in much detail yet we may come to different conclusions but it will seem to me that the principle is the same - that you want the President to appoint persons from persons who have been chosen by another body.
So essentially the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders is recommending. The only concern is for the chairpersons of the different commissions – I think the President appoints in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission or in consultation with the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. The trouble with that is that there is a difference between appointing after consultation or in consultation and appointing on the advice of. For me it would have been much better if appointments were on the advice of because on the advice of means the President cannot ignore the advice. He or she has to follow the advice - whereas if he appoints after in consultation with he can listen to all that the person has to say and can decide to ignore it - so essentially makes a nonsense of the whole process.
VIOLET: I understand that this constitution has a clause on presidential immunity?
MAGAISA: Yes this is not unusual. Every other constitution in the world will have a clause on presidential immunity, which means that you don’t what the President to be subjected to personal litigation during the tenure of office. This does not mean that the President exercise of powers that are conferred by the law cannot be challenged - they can be still challenged. The immunity relates to his personal issues while he is in office. So civil and criminal cases cannot be brought against him or her during that time.
There is also an addition I have noticed – a clause which says the person who was President can prove good faith as a defense for his actions. Now I am not particular sure what this means except to say that perhaps the suggestion is that if the President did something during his tenure of office and he is being challenged after he or she has left office, he could argue that yes he or she did it but he was acting in good faith. And that could be a defense for him.
Now it’s an unusual provision. I have not seen it in other constitutions as yet and it is rather odd, in my opinion, because I don’t think good faith is a defense to criminal offenses such as murder, genocide, corruption and so forth. There may be situations in civil litigation where you might argue that you were acting in good faith but I am a little bit surprised that the good faith defense seems to have been put in the constitution at this point.
VIOLET: Or could it be that the politicians are trying to protect themselves?
MAGAISA: I suppose the cynical would say that I think but there might be a very good reason for putting in a defense of good faith, but like I said it’s an issue that would be debated over the coming few weeks - whether or not you want to state that particular defense in the constitution or it’s something you can leave to the common law.
VIOLET: Moving on Devolution what did they agree on?
MAGAISA: This is probably one of the better aspects of this constitution in terms of the way that it’s been structured. I know that it will not please everybody. People had different dreams and desires in regards to the model of devolution that they wanted but I will tell u some of the positive aspects that I think are in this particular constitution. The structure of the provincial government itself - in the first place it is important to appreciate that Zimbabweans have got to this stage where they have gone beyond decentralisation and accepted devolution as a principle of government. I think it’s a huge achievement for the people of Zimbabwe and those who have been advocating for this type of government. It will give more power to the local authorities, to the provincial government to deal with issues as they uniquely see them in their own regions.
In terms of the structure - this is where there are arguments. There is going to be 10 provinces - eight of them, which are going to be in accordance with the provinces we have currently but two of them will be metropolitan provinces, Harare and Bulawayo. For the other eight there will be provincial governors. The way they are going to be appointed is an interesting one because it tries to accommodate two extremes. One extreme is where the governor is directly elected by the people in the province, and the other extreme is where the governor is appointed by the President - as is the current case.
I think there has been a compromise that has been struck here, which is that the President will appoint the governor but he can only appoint from two persons who would have been put forward by the political party with the highest political representative in the province. So essentially this is the people’s choice insofar as they represent the political party with the highest number of votes or MPs in that particular province. But this is only tempered by the fact the President would then have to appoint from those two persons. So is it a sensible compromise? I think it is a compromise that was going to best achieved in the circumstances where there were those two extreme positions.
Then the mayors of Harare and Bulawayo, I understand, will be the chairpersons of those metropolitan councils because there won’t be provincial councils. Now the people who are going to constitute the provincial councils will include the MPs for those provinces, they will also include ten persons who are elected by proportional representation in that province - based on the votes to the National Assembly. So it’s going to be a mixture of senators and MPs from that province and persons who are elected by proportional representation. And they will have powers generally to deal with socio-economic issues, development and so forth within the particular provinces.
But what I really liked most about this is that the councilors, the mayors, the provincial governors and so forth have been protected in a way that we have never seen before in regards to local and provincial government. If you recall the Minster for Local Government has had extensive powers, which have been used extensively over the past few years to remove councilors or mayors who are not necessary in agreement with the Mister of Local Government. One of the key concerns was to remove this facility because it causes abuse of power. Now the councilors and all the mayors and so forth will be protected in terms of their tenure of office - just like all the MPs are protected in terms of their tenure, which I think is an important improvement from the current situation where they have been perennially at risk from the Minster of Local Government.
VIOLET: Some people were worried that the country is too small for this separation of powers and that it would led to the division of regions on tribal grounds. How can you respond to this?
MAGAISA: I think people are entitled to have those fears and concerns but I’m afraid this is a horse that has already bolted – it’s gone. The issues of devolution - whether or not to have it - should have been discussed a long time ago and people had an opportunity to discuss this issues and essentially the country agreed that there is need for devolution. At least that is the overwhelming view that came up and now the major political parties have come to an agreement on it.
I think that the principles that have been put in place in the constitution including principles of non-discrimination, principles that subordinate provincial governments to the national government, principles that ensure the integrity of government - the unity, the sovereignty of the country as a whole, I think they are important to ensure that you don’t have those challenges that people fear. But I accept that people talk about the smallness of the country but unfortunately what people have never bothered to consider is also that regardless of the smallness of the country we have had very unequal disparities in development in that small country, which really is not about the size of the country it’s about the quality and nature of the government in the country.
VIOLET: And what does the constitution say about the truth and reconciliation?
MAGAISA: They have not called it the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but essentially that’s what it is. It’s called the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. Essentially it’s going to be established – again the chairperson is going to be appointed by the President in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission but the other commissioners will be appointed from a list submitted by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders like all the other commissions. It will have the duty or the power to ensure there is national peace and reconciliation to deal with these issues. There is not much detail on it. I think the mass of it will come out in legislation but I think laying the constitutional foundation has been an important step in the right direction on this issue.
VIOLET: Let’s talk about the Attorney General’s office and the National Prosecution Authority. How is the issue of the administration of justice handled in this constitution?
MAGAISA: You know the issue of the Attorney General’s office was one of the critical issues under consideration and it has been during the life of the GNU. What the draft constitution does is to separate the two offices. There will be the Attorney General’s office, which will be restricted to legal advisory roles to the government. It will be involved in civil matters as far as the government is concerned. So the AG is like a lawyer to the government. He advises the government, and then there will be a National Prosecuting Authority, which will exclusively handle all criminal matters on behalf of the state.
So there will be a new office called the Office of the Prosecutor General who will be responsible for prosecuting - with officers who will assist him in that office. What we can see from the provision is that there has been an enhancement of the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority compared to the Attorney General’s office the way it is at the moment. The Prosecutor General will be appointed the same way as judges are appointed - that is through the Judicial Service Commission and any removal of the Prosecutor General will have to follow the procedures that are used for judges. So the mechanisms are robust and are designed to protect the independence of the office, but what’s important is that there are specific provisions, which guarantee the political neutrality of the Prosecutor General. I think this is absolutely important. And finally unlike the current constitution where the Attorney General has an unlimited term of office, the Prosecutor General will only have a maximum of two terms in office - of six years each.
VIOLET: What about on the issue of the arrest of people?
MAGAISA: One of the beautiful things, I have to say about the draft constitution, is that it goes to great lengths to safeguard the rights to personal liberty - but not only that but also the rights of persons who are arrested or detained. So there is an entire provision, which deals with issues relating to the rights of persons who have been arrested or detained. So for example, whereas in the old constitution a person could be arrested and the requirement was that he should be informed of the reasons for the arrest as soon as is reasonably practicable. Now this was very indeterminate because it could mean several days. The draft constitution says the person must be informed at the time of arrest - so this is very specific.
Another example is that whereas under the current constitution a person who has been detained is required to be brought to court without undue delay. Now without undue delay could also mean any number of days. It is very fixable, very vague. The draft constitution changes this and says that the person must be brought before a court within 48 hours after the arrest. And now when it comes to the issues of bail, the constitution specifically deals with the issue requiring that a competent court must deal with all issues of applications for bail. Unless there are specific reasons requiring a person to be kept in custody the person should be released on bail. So I think its going to be very difficult to sustain the abuse or misuse of the Section 122 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which has been used routinely unfortunately in the last few years mainly against political activists.
VIOLET: How are the police and intelligence services dealt with?
MAGAISA: The police - there is a Commissioner General who is appointed by the President and the Police Service Commission also appointed by the President. It would have been better if these appointments were subjected to greater scrutiny by a parliamentary body, which was what was envisaged but I think this seems to have been kept within the domain of the President, which might be problematic. But I think what is important is that there is also reemphasis, just like the defense forces, reemphasis on the political neutrality of the Police Commissioner General.
There are also provisions which require the Police Commissioner General to comply for example with orders from other bodies like the Human Rights Commission, the Anti Corruption Commission and the Gender Commission in the investigation of offences. So this, I think, will help those bodies in their ability to enforce their orders against the Police Commissioner General.
But there is also the issue of the terms of office – there will be a maximum term of office. There will be two terms of five years each just like the commanders in the defense forces. So I think these reforms are going to be important in trying to reduce this habit of staying in office for as many years as one is able to leave.
VIOLET: And the intelligence services?
MAGAISA: For the first time, and I think this is the big improvement, is that the intelligence services have been brought within the domain of the constitution, which is different from the manner in which the intelligence services are currently regulated and there is a requirement that they should be established under a law, an order or a directive. I think this is also absolutely fundamental - the head of the intelligence services is also going too have a maximum term limit. He or she can only serve for a maximum of ten years that is two terms of five years each - just like the commanders of the defense forces and the Commissioner General of the police.
VIOLET: I understand that the clause on the death penalty is somewhat gender sensitive?
MAGAISA: Yes. First of all I think the point we should celebrate is that the death penalty is effectively going to be abolished accept where parliament passes a law in regards to cases of aggravated murder. Now unfortunately aggravated murder does not seem to have been defined. I think its important that there be some guidance and definitions as to what constitutes aggravated murder. But I would suggest these are situations where murder is so gruesome, where murder is premeditated, where there is extreme use of violence, where the whole episode is so repugnant and despicable. I think that would constitute aggravated murder. It needs to be defined in the constitution so that it’s clear. It’s only in those cases where the death penalty may be allowed.
But even then the court has discretion to pass a death sentence or not, which I think is useful because the courts are minded not to use the death penalty then I think it will effectively be abolished. There are however specific people who are exempted from the imposition of carrying out of the death penalty. It is persons who are under the age of 21 years or who where under 21 years at the time of the offense because they are considered to be youth, then a person who is over 70 years also is exempt from the death penalty, and third – rather controversially I have to say, all women are exempt from the imposition or carrying out of the death penalty.
VIOLET: Why is it controversial?
MAGAISA: I think it’s going to be a point of controversy between the men and women because if you consider it one of the key issues that has been raised over the course of the debate is the issue of gender equality between men and women. Now here the constitution seems to be taking a specific discriminatory approach in favor of women as opposed to men. You can consider a situation where two people - a man and woman - might commit aggravated murder. You are going to have an absurd situation in which the man is going to be sent to the gallows but the woman, who may have done equally the same despicable act as the man, will be spared the gallows.
VIOLET: What is your understanding as to how they came up with that decision?
MAGAISA: I have no idea. My understanding is that usually the clause is that the death sentence cannot be imposed or carried out on a woman who is pregnant. Now we understand the moral basis for this but what I am not so sure about is the basis – moral or legal - of the distinction between men and women in regard to the imposition and carrying out of the death sentence generally. I think this is a point where there will be a lot of discussion.
GONDA: That leads us to the issue of women’s rights. What is the constitution saying about this?
MAGAISA: I have to commend the women’s lobby. I think all the women’s rights groups in Zimbabwe did a lot of fantastic work over the years to raise the issue and to put the issues of women’s rights on the agenda because it’s one of the issues, which I believe is dealt with in a very beautiful way by the constitution.
From the first section up to the end there is a recurrence of the emphasis on the issue of gender equality; the objectives towards promoting women and ensuring that affirmative action procedures are taken if required in order to raise the status of women. For example the issue of non-discrimination – one of the key problems under the current constitution and under the old regime was that there was legalized discrimination against women on the basis of customs traditions and so forth under Section 23 of the old constitution. But this is going to change because there is not going to be any discrimination that will be allowed – whether it’s in relation to customs or tradition. Everything will have to conform to the constitution and to the idea of gender equality and none discrimination between men and women.
There are specific rights given to women, for example the issue of guardianship. A lot of women have had challenges in regards to issues of guardianship of their children which the law has traditionally given to men at the exclusion of the women and the constitution remedies this by saying that women have the same rights of guardianship as men. I think this is very important in so far as promoting gender equality is concerned.
There are also issues of protection of women in marriage – insofar as property is concerned in regards to inheritance where there has been discrimination against women and widows.
One of the key things is that without political power women are always going to be on the back foot – they are always going to be at a disadvantage. So the constitution tries to deal with the issue of political power. I am not sure that all women will be entirely satisfied because the idea was that there should be 50-50 representation in parliament, in cabinet, in everything else. But it is not quite like that but you can see that there are positive steps that have been taken to recognize that women should get more space in the political environment in Zimbabwe.
So for example in the election of the Senate, it will be done through a system of proportional representation. The method that has been chosen is a closed party list where the men and the women will alternate on the list of every party. So that women will be at the top and men second. But what will essentially be the case is that you will have a situation, which allows better representation of women at the Senate level.
At the National Assembly level there is a specific provision for 60 seats, which have been specially reserved for women. So parliament will have 270 seats and 60 of them will be specifically given to women who will be chosen on the basis of a proportional representation system. I think this will be important because it enables women to gain space in parliament and hopefully over the future elections they would have gained the knowledge, they will have become familiar faces in politics that it will become normal for women to be voted into politics and it’s not going to be a big issue whether or not a person is a woman or not. People have to get used to the system that women can also hold political power.
But I just wanted to emphasize that this special reservation of 60 seats is not going to be there forever. It’s only going to be there for the first two parliaments after this constitution comes into force. So it is a window, which has to be used by the women to gain space and to be able to assert themselves to gain the mileage and to represent the women in such a way that in future it will become normal to vote a woman into power.
GONDA: Since we are on the issue of rights – gay rights activists have been pushing for recognition under the new constitution so what is this proposed law saying on this controversial issue?
MAGAISA: I think that the gay rights lobby will be disappointed with the draft constitution because I do not think that the draft provides protection for gay rights. I think this is one issue that has been dealt with in a way that has put to the fore in favor of the anti gay rights lobby.
GONDA: So what does it actually say?
MAGAISA: As far as the Bill of Rights is concerned there is no positive clause, which protects gay rights in Zimbabwe. The non-discrimination clause – I will just give you a brief account – there was controversy at the beginning. For example a no-discrimination clause will say that no person may be discriminated on such grounds as race, sex, age, disability and if it wanted to protect gay rights it would have said sexual orientation. The constitution does not say that. It has completely omitted the reference to sexual orientation as a ground upon which discrimination is prohibited – which leaves it in the open. You recall that at the beginning of this process there was controversy over the issue of the word ‘natural difference’ because natural difference had been used as one of the grounds for non-discrimination, now the anti gay rights lobby argued that this was a backdoor attempt to bring in the gay rights into the constitution. That phrase was removed.
Rather controversially later on there was another phrase ‘circumstances of birth’, which has been inserted into that clause as another ground for non-discrimination. Now the anti gay rights lobby, again exhibiting the phobia over the issue of gay rights, decided that this was another backdoor attempt to bring in the issue of gay rights and that phrase was removed. This is not withstanding the fact that phrase was brought in by the women’s lobby as a way of protecting children who are normally referred to as illegitimate children – children who are born out of wedlock. The idea was that the circumstances of a child should not be a reason for discrimination, say in property distribution at inheritance. So that was removed at the insistence of the anti gay rights lobby because it was felt that it was another way of bringing in the gay rights issue, which was not the case.
Rather interestingly, I noticed also that the phrase ‘any other status’ has been removed from this clause. I will just explain what it means. In a non-discrimination clause you say ‘no person shall be discriminated on grounds a, b, c, d…’ then you end by saying ‘or any other status’. Now I suspect that what the anti-gay rights lobby argued here is that ‘any other status’ is a phrase, which can also be used as another backdoor attempt at bringing in gay rights into the constitution, and I noticed that it has been removed, which is unfortunate because ‘any other status’ is not just about gay rights. I think it refers to ‘any other status’, which may not be mentioned in the list – in the non-discrimination clause. So that is a loss, which I think, is based on the phobia over the issue of gay rights.
GONDA: What do you mean by the anti-gay rights lobby? Wasn’t this decision made as a result of the general anti-gay rights sentiment during the public outreach program?
MAGAISA: Oh ya. Absolutely. The point is this is information that was derived from the public, which generally seemed to suggest opposition to the issue of gay rights in the constitution. That is how it was interpreted but the difference is that anybody looking at the data might say there was also information which came from other sources which might have said otherwise and that is why the issue has been controversial. I have to say that this issue was made into a controversial issue because some people thought that there were those who were supporting gay rights and others who are not supporting gay rights but in reality I think there was convergence on the issue of how to deal with this particular matter.
When I say the anti-gay rights lobby I am just talking about the specific - you know there has been the insistence over everything that has been dealt with as if the constitution is about protection of gay rights, which it is not. And I am just saying that lobby seemed to have asserted itself. I can understand the phobia over the other issues but frankly the point about the phrase ‘any other status’ in a non-discrimination clause, you go and read any constitution, any international human rights instrument, which refers to a list of factors for non-discrimination – it will always end with the phrase ‘any other status’. And if they wanted to specifically prohibit gay rights they could have done so without necessarily removing the words ‘any other status’ because they could cover anything else that we do not, at the present moment, know as grounds for non-discrimination and that is why I am saying it went a bit far.
But at the end of the day the point that comes out of this draft constitution is it does not protect gay rights. No.
GONDA: The politicians have decided that instead of three official languages, Zimbabwe will now have 16?
MAGAISA: Absolutely. The policy on official languages was a heated issue during the discussions because on the one hand you want to be able to recognize people’s culture and people’s culture is captured through their language. You want people to be able to self determine to be able to express themselves better and I think to take pride in their local languages and it’s important that Zimbabwe recognizes, like South Africa, that all the local languages are official languages. What this constitution does is it lists specific languages – now the only problem that I foresee is that if someone or a group of people crop up from somewhere in Zimbabwe who have not been known before or who have been perennially ignored for many years come up and say we have our own language but it’s now not stated in the constitution then of course that might be an issue.
The other issue of course is the practicality. It's one thing to have an official language but it’s an entirely different thing to have a language of record. A language of record means, for example, if you go to a court of law it is the language, which the records are kept. If you are going to have multiple languages, as languages of record, then you might have a very serious problem. Let’s assume you go to Chipinge and Ndau is used there as a language of record, but someone else – perhaps the accused -does not speak Ndau and only speaks Tonga, and someone else might want to get a record in English – it means you have to prepare the record in three languages and that is going to be a practical nightmare.
So I think the issue will have to be dealt with more specifically at the policy level of legislation. I am all for recognizing Zimbabwe’s languages as official languages but I think we need to take a sensible and practical approach in regards to the issue of the language of record.
GONDA: Can you tell us what these 16 languages are because Ndau is among the 16 and some would say is that not a dialect. If it is why isn’t Chimanyika for example also one of the official languages?
MAGAISA: This is a controversial subject - whether one is a language or simply a dialect. I remember there was a lot of controversy in the discussions. I am not sure how they reached this final decision but I will just read to you the languages that are there. Firstly there is Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa. These are the languages that are the official languages of Zimbabwe.
Now I can assure you that there will be a lot of noise over, for example, Chimanyika or Karanga with people arguing that like Ndau this is a language, whereas others might say these are dialects. So I think we are going to have serious controversy over these issues. My preference would have to simply say the indigenous or local languages of Zimbabwe are official languages in addition to English. For me that would have worked because then you keep the list open. What we have here is a list, which appears to be an exclusive list, and I think it is going to annoy a lot of people and I suspect this is going to change before the referendum.
GONDA: So bottom-line does this draft constitution meet the minimum conditions to hold free and fair elections?
MAGAISA: This is a very difficult one. I think that the impediment to holding free and fair elections is not just a matter of law it is also a matter of culture, the political culture. The question that we should be concerned with is whether Zimbabwe has advanced politically in terms of their culture to hold free and fair elections. Will the constitution assist in doing that? I think it will. I will not say that it is the most perfect document that we have – you never have a perfect constitution. There will be lots of criticisms over a number of provisions in the constitution. There will be a lot of comparisons with the previous draft. There will be a lot of comparisons with the other constitutions across the region but I think we have what we have and there is room to improve it if it has to be approved before adoption – there are still processes to be taken through and I think we have to be honest with ourselves. And if there are things that are not good enough and need improvement they need to be improved. But I think we have a basic starting point to discuss this very important national document that should take us through to the future.
GONDA: So what will be your main criticism of this document? You talked about room for improvement so what would you say is the main issue that needs to be improved on?
MAGAISA: From a very quick browse I think the issue of presidential powers vis-à-vis parliament all needs some revisiting to ensure that the checks and balances that the people demanded are put in place - are enhanced. They are some but I think it will be useful to do a little bit more in terms of looking at that particular aspect. And of course there will be a lot of editorial challenges. There are some sections, which may be all over the place, which are not expressed perhaps in the best way possible. There may be some contradictions here and there which we will pick up and I think those things will need to be improved.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should have all the powers to do with elections. There should be no ifs or buts or alternatives. If it is there to register voters and to maintain a voters roll it must have that power. It can delegate it but it is not necessary for the constitution to say that it could be done by someone else because I think it opens up room to allow other bodies to deal with elections when the ZEC should be moving towards a more consolidated system of running elections. I am glad that ZEC is going to deal with delimitation, which is better than what the original draft was doing but I think that we need to have a more robust approach to the issue of running elections and ZEC should be given the place that it deserves and it should be the one to conduct all these processes without any room for anyone else to interfere.
GONDA: The current constitution was amended a record 19 times so how solid is this final draft so that, if passed, it wont be abused?
MAGAISA: There is this view that a constitution is for posterity but it is also countered by the fact that we cannot decided what the future is going to be like. Future generations should have the opportunity to change what they think is right and we cannot put a cap on how many amendments are going to be. It will depend on the time and will depend on the political culture. However as far as we are concerned this may be the final draft from COPAC but it is not the final document that will necessarily be adopted at the referendum. People are now going to have an opportunity to scrutinize this draft and to make suggestions on how it can be improved and enhanced and I think people must take this opportunity before the referendum to really engage with the detail of the constitution and to make suggestions to make it better so that we minimize any efforts at amendments in the aftermath of passing it into law.
GONDA: And a final word?
MAGAISA: We have come very far as a nation. We have had a challenging three years – stable but challenging. We have gone through a constitution making process, which has not been perfect, which has had its hiccups, but I think we are almost there – like a man who is waking in a desert and the oasis is very close by. I don’t think we should die of thirst when the oasis is so close by. We must walk and get to the oasis and see what happens.
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Born on 21 July 1944 (68), Ghana’s President, Prof John Mills is no more. He
died on 24 July 2012; his illness has yet to be disclosed. Described by
Ghanaians as academician sportsman and astute politician, President Mills
saw GDP growth for his 25 million reach 14% in his first term in office. He
contested and lost a record 3 times before finally winning in 2009 by the
slim margin, he was due to contest for a second term this December 2012.
Messages of condolences continue to pour from all corners of the world.
Through the messages and from Ghanaians comments we have started to find
jigsaw puzzle for this man otherwise known as “Asmodweehen” or simply king
of peace in his native land. He seemed to be adored by his people for being
a peace maker and astute politician, a rare occasion where education was put
to good use, for the benefit of the people of Ghana. Educated in Ghana, UK
and USA, he graduated with a PhD at the age of 27 years before curving a
career as a lecturer. He was a peace maker, President Obama said of him,
“President Mills tirelessly worked to improve the lives of the Ghanaian
people” Obama further acknowledged, “He helped to promote economic growth in
Ghana in the midst of challenging global circumstances and strengthen Ghana’s
strong tradition of democracy” I am not sure whether the same can be said to
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe given his hand in destroying the once
jewel of Africa Zimbabwe.
Why is it so important to reflect on Ghana, this is the first African
country to gain independence in 1957. It has its up and downs since its
first President Kwame Nkuluma with a couple of coups the last being by Jerry
Rawlings in 1979 who became popularist yet controversial. Since then Ghana
has consolidated peaceful democratic system of governance, with peaceful
elections term after term in contrast to Zimbabwe’s violent elections. Of
late Ghana has discovered offshore oil, but this has not ignited a fear of
re-colonization. Ironically Mugabe wants Zimbabweans to believe that he is
the custodian of a country at the verge of re-colonization by the British
Government. He sees this as national duty to protect us from the British
ghostly Imperialism of the 21st century. The prospect of a British
government colonizing Zimbabwe in the 21st century is as remote as having a
2 year President in Zimbabwe. The Britain of today does not have any
capacity to colonize even the smallest country of the size of the football
pitch. Mugabe’s fear should be the invasion of technology which has the
power to unmask dictatorship as it has a transboundary effect of influence.
I am not a prophet but I can see within the next 20 years governments
becoming lean as MPs will be replaced by technology, requiring only fewer
Super MPS to coordinate, commission and syntheses data from constituencies
delivered by state of the art technology. Constituencies will have MP
digital Kiosks where people can directly communicate with Central Government
via video link face to face with Super MPs, Super Cabinet Ministers and a
Super Presidential team. The world will be ruled by technology and
technology will be the determining factor in being elected MP, Cabinet
Minister or the President. The world will be reclassified from the current
developed and developing countries into Digital and Super Digital, the lack
of it will be the difference between growth and inflation. We haven’t seen
the digital age 10% capacity as yet, although we all have been touched by
its effect in one form or another. There is no moral benefit in colonizing a
country anymore when countries can colonize safely and to their economic
advantage the digital space beyond the sky. Mugabe as you can see, the world
has moved on without you and we are not looking back, we have got the
technology to take Zimbabwe to new heights.
R.I.P President Prof. John Mills of Ghana.
Those with the proclivity to label MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai a puppet or creation of the West were left with egg on their face especially in the past few days as the Asia-Pacific region opened up to his imminent ascendancy to the presidency of the new Zimbabwe.
Not long ago, the MDC president was accorded an honorary doctorate in South Korea. Those who think that North Korea and China are more significant than South Korea and hence saw this development as a non-event, were again forced to do some serious introspection when China, a giant of the region, extended a convivial invitation to Morgan Tsvangirai a few weeks ago.
Not to be outdone, other notable regional players have recently fallen over each other in dishing out state invitations to the Prime Minister. Japan was the first stop, followed by Australia and finally New Zealand. While some people in ZANU PF believe that New Zealand and Australia are in the West, the geographical reality is that they are not. Their economies, values and systems might resemble that of some Western countries but that does not make them an appendage of that part of the distant globe.
When Nelson Mandela made the unexpected decision to exit active politics during his first term as president, he identified Thabo, the son of liberation luminary and flamboyant nationalist, Govani Mbeki as his successor. Some might argue that Cyril Ramaphosa should have been considered ahead of the Oxford Economics graduate but Madiba had other ideas. By allowing Mbeki to be the face of South Africa on the world stage while he enjoyed most of his less hectic weekends in Qunu with grandchildren, Madiba demonstrated the kind of strategic leadership that shall forever be the envy of many. Once asked what he thought about the Zimbabwe crisis, Madiba had only four words for an answer “tragic failure of leadership”
President Robert Mugabe’s most tragic failure despite his undoubted intellect has been his unwillingness to groom a successor in more than three long decades. Inadvertently, he has now anointed someone from the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, as the ultimate successor but only in terms of presidential office and nothing else. Given this unfolding reality, the world has been left with no option but to warmly embrace Zimbabwe’s next leader.
Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, New Zealand’s John Key and the Japanese business community, did not hide their affection of this great successor to the extent that Morgan Tsvangirai was actually equated to one of Africa’s greatest sons, Nelsom Mandela and the Burmese democratic champion, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Taking a cue from Suu Kyi when she recently delivered an historic address to Britain’s two houses of parliament, the future President of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, implored the international community not to dwell in the past but to look to the future. He urged his hosts not to be overly pre-occupied with President Mugabe because “not only is he part of the problem but of the solution as well”. He emphasized the need for re-engaging Zimbabwe not as “a pariah state but an equal member and partner of the international community”. Subsequently, the Prime Minister made an appeal for the suspension of all forms of sanctions on Zimbabwe as a way of encouraging reform and demonstrating that intransigence has no reward.
Some media houses deliberately misquoted the Prime Minister as having campaigned for a carte blanche on sanctions. There has to be a difference between conditional suspension and total lifting of the embargo a point that the Prime Minister stressed in every interview.
Those who closely followed the Prime Minister’s recent visit would probably agree that this was one of his best international trips in recent times. He had very progressive discussions with political and business leaders of the three nations. He reminded investors of the abundance of opportunities in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean residents in this region as well as embassy staff and of course Ambassador Zwambila, were excited to see how welcome the Prime Minister and his entourage were in this territory. Unfortunately, given his tight schedule, it was not possible for him to meet the generality of Zimbabweans but extensive media coverage plugged the gap.
Moses Chamboko writes from Western Australia. He can be contacted email@example.com