By Irwin Chifera & James Butty
Harare & Washington
28 July 2009
A member of parliament for the formation of Zimbabwe's Movement for
Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday urged
the House of Assembly to pass a motion demanding an investigation of
Attorney General Johannes Tomana for abuse of the judicial system in
bringing politically inspired charges against MDC legislators.
Parliamentarian Tongai Matutu of the Masvingo Urban constituency in Masvingo
province tabled the motion saying Tomana, whose appointment late last year
has been a main bone of contention between the MDC and President Robert
Mugabe's long-ruling ZANU-PF, was clearly pursuing a strategy intended to
whittle down the MDC's House majority.
Correspondent Irwin Chifera of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.
The MDC formation, meanwhile, was demanding an investigation of what it says
was a death threat against Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who received a
letter containing a bullet.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the MDC formation told VOA reporter James Butty
that the party is taking the threat seriously & expects the police to follow
Elsewhere, In the Midlands province capital of Gweru lawyers for Mayor
Shadreck Tobaiwa and attorney Tapera Sengweni urged a magistrate to dismiss
charges they face of obstructing the course of justice. Defender Prayers
Chitsa said there was no evidence for charges against his clients in
connection with a rape case against Kwekwe lawmaker Blessing Chebundo.
Prosecutors say the two men approached the father of a girl allegedly raped
by Chebundo seeking an out-of-court settlement. Sengweni was then
Chitsa said the girl's father - unnamed to protect the girl's
identity -admitted that he had not been offered an inducement to drop the
The father showed the court a text on his mobile phone allegedly sent by
Chebundo pleading with him to withdraw the charges. Chitsa argued that
Sengweni as a lawyer would not have tried to improperly influence the girl's
father in the matter.
The defender said the father of the alleged victim is a war veteran and a
ZANU-PF supporter, maintaining that the charges against his clients are
State Prosecutor Emmanuel Muchenga argued that the fact the accused did not
deny meeting the girl's father supported the charges.
Magistrate Evia Makura said she will announce Thursday if the two must stand
1 hr 10 mins ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's deputy youth minister was arrested Tuesday over a
stolen cellphone prompting a warning by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's
party that its lawmakers were being harassed.
Thamsanqa Mahlangu, who is also the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party's youth leader, was arrested at his offices and taken to Harare
Central police station in connection with the theft.
"The circumstances are mysterious but we are noticing a disturbing trend of
MDC people being detained and prosecuted on dubious and trumped up charges,"
party spokesman Nelson Chamisa told AFP.
The party claims that President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is trying to
reduce the MDC's slim parliamentary majority.
Tsvangirai joined Mugabe in a unity government in February.
Malangu's arrest came in the wake of a renewed clampdown on MDC lawmakers
and ministers with at least seven members of Parliament facing "trumped-up
charges", the MDC said in a statement.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the deputy minister was identified by
two women as the man having given the stolen phone to them.
"I confirm Mr Thamsanqa Mahlangu was picked up by the police in connection
with the theft of a cellphone," he said.
The MDC has complained that its supporters continue to be targeted and is
also treating as a death threat the sending of a live bullet to Finance
Minister Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary general, on Monday.
The power-sharing government was formed nearly a year after presidential
polls in a bid to rescue the country from its severe political and economic
By Tichaona Sibanda
28 July 2009
The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will meet his party's Parliamentary
caucus in Harare on Wednesday to discuss their concerns over the recent
arrests and convictions of MDC MPs.
Mathias Mlambo the MDC MP for Chipinge East confirmed that Tsvangirai will
be meeting the MPs in the morning. Mlambo was himself suspended from
Parliament after he was recently sentenced to 10 months in prison by a
Chipinge magistrate on trumped up charges
"We met the President (Tsvangirai) last week but only briefly, so tomorrow's
(Wednesday) meeting is expected to look at all the concerns raised by the
MPs in recent weeks," the Chipinge East MP said.
Mlambo has appealed against his jail sentence and was been granted bail. He
described his suspension from Parliament as 'null and void.'
The MP maintains he is innocent of any wrongdoing and claims the charges he
faced were concocted by ZANU PF with the help of the police. He said his
lawyers last week lodged an appeal at the High court, against the suspension
"I'm meeting with my lawyers tomorrow to get an update on the appeal but as
far as I know we haven't received any word from the High court," he
The MDC accuses Robert Mugabe of using the Attorney General Johannes Tomana
to get back ZANU PF's Parliamentary majority by using trumped-up criminal
charges to drive out elected MDC MPs.
Mugabe's ZANU PF lost its grip on the legislature for the first time in its
history after the 2008 March elections when the MDC took control of the
Lower House and drew level in the Senate.
At least seven MDC MPs have been convicted this year, or are facing
trumped-up charges for various allegations. They include Mutasa Central MP
Trevor Saruwaka, Chimanimani West legislator Lynnette Karenyi, Senator Roy
Bennett, Mutare West MP Shuah Mudiwa and Chipinge South MP Meki Makuyana.
Tsvangirai is expected to fly out to Johannesburg on Friday for a meeting
with SADC Chairman Jacob Zuma to try and push the regional bloc to convene
an urgent meeting to deal with the remaining issues in the Global Political
The MDC leader is hugely frustrated by the lack of progress in solving the
thorniest issues in the GPA, after Mugabe last week refused to budge on his
re-appointment of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, and Attorney General
Johannes Tomana. The three principals have since declared a deadlock on
these two issues, meriting intervention from SADC as guarantors of the deal.
Zuma, who holds the rotating Chairmanship of SADC, was sent a letter by
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara two months ago, asking for assistance in
resolving the outstanding disputes in the inclusive government.
Sox Chikohwero, the militant Chairman of the MDC Veterans' Activists
Association told us that when Zuma was campaigning for the South African
Presidency he promised to deal with the Zimbabwe issue if he was elected.
"It's almost three months after he was elected but we've not heard a thing
from Zuma. It appears he has adopted the 'quiet diplomacy' posture more
robustly than Thabo Mbeki the creator of this monster. All we are asking him
to do is to deliver on his election promises," Chikohwero stated.
The South African Democratic Alliance's Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip
said on Tuesday Zuma should uphold his word to stand strong against Mugabe.
In his statement Trollip said Zuma should use the meeting with Tsvangirai to
make good on the tough stance against Mugabe that he publicly advocated in
the run-up to his election as ANC President.
"President Zuma's public position on Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF is well
documented. In April last year, after Mugabe had failed to timeously release
the results of the Zimbabwean elections, Zuma stated that ZANU PF's
behaviour was - not acceptable," Trollip said.
Trollip said Zuma should stand by his statement because if he does not he
will be implicitly endorsing the actions of Mugabe and, in turn, creating
the appearance that he was aligning himself with the approach of former
President Thabo Mbeki.
JULY 28, 2009, 3:48 P.M. ET
Prime Minister Risks Losing Majority as Lawmakers Are Jailed
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party is one seat
away from losing its majority in parliament, threatening what little power
his Movement for Democratic Change has in this shaky coalition government.
Five MDC lawmakers -- all convicted for instigating violence after last
year's presidential election -- have been jailed in the five months since
Mr. Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe agreed to form a coalition
government. Members of parliament sentenced to more than six months in jail
are required to step down unless their sentence is overturned on appeal.
The MDC has accused Mr. Mugabe's party of politically motivated trials aimed
at eroding the party majority. That would consolidate the president's power,
and allow him to pass laws or block legislation without consulting Mr.
In addition to the five already convicted, 16 more MDC legislators,
including Finance Minister Tendai Biti, have cases pending before the
courts. Mr. Biti faces treason charges, while others are accused of
political violence. All deny the charges.
No one from Mr. Mugabe's party has been prosecuted for violence that raged
last year before the presidential election. During the campaign, army
soldiers and police beat, raped and tortured MDC party members and
supporters, and stole their property, according to human-rights groups who
reported on the situation at the time. An estimated 163 people died, and
thousands were injured.
The minister of justice and legal affairs, which oversees the court system,
is Patrick Chinamasa, a veteran Mugabe ally.
Ephraim Masawi, a spokesman for Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front, said his party doesn't interfere with the courts.
"Doing so will jeopardize the inclusive government and we have no desire to
see the collapse of this government," Mr. Masawi said. "The fact that people
from our side are not being prosecuted might just explain and underline the
truth; which is that ZANU-PF was not responsible for last year's violence."
Witnesses say violence has flared again in the countryside. These witnesses
report seeing gangs of young people loyal to Mr. Mugabe harassing and
beating MDC supporters ahead of by-elections to be held in coming months to
install successors to the imprisoned lawmakers.
Ebba Katiyo, a 31-year-old from Uzumba, a district that saw some of the
worst of last year's violence, said a local ZANU-PF leader summoned her
recently to a public meeting and ordered her to be be beaten, because of her
support of the MDC.
"I was beaten all over the body," said Ms. Katiyo from a Harare hospital
where she was recovering from the attack. "He called for another meeting
last week and ordered a second beating, because he said I had not repented."
Mr. Mugabe last week acknowledged the rising violence at a ceremony to
launch a national reconciliation program. He said he and Mr. Tsvangirai had
a good working relationship and that it was taking time to convince
grass-roots supporters to back the coalition government.
By Patience Rusere & Thomas Chiripasi
Washington & Harare
28 July 2009
The Zimbabwean politicians who negotiated the Global Political Agreement
that underpins the country's national unity government have agreed to use
the so-called Kariba draft as a key reference point for the new constitution
the country recently began drafting.
A declaration signed by all but one of the negotiators says the select
parliamentary committee charged with revising the constitution will present
the Kariba draft to the Zimbabwean people and consult them on which aspects
of it they approve or disapprove.
The declaration reached late last week appeared to reflect a compromise
between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, which was insisting the
1007 Kariba draft it formulated with both groupings of the Movement for
Democratic Change be the basis for the constitution, and the MDC which was
saying the Kariba draft should have no special status.
Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma, who is also deputy treasurer of
the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told reporter
Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Kariba draft won't
be forced on the people.
Elsewhere, the leadership of the Zimbabwe National Students Union has split
over whether to support the official revision process directed by the
parliamentary select committee, or to throw in its lot with the National
Constitutional Assembly, which rejects that process.
Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.
By Violet Gonda
28 July 2009
An advert in the weekly Standard newspaper on Sunday, which was placed by
the negotiators of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), revealed the six
member group representing all three parties in the coalition had agreed to
use the controversial Kariba Draft as a point of reference for a new
constitution. This is in sharp contrast to statements made by the MDC-T last
month saying it was deeply concerned by attempts by ZANU PF and Robert
Mugabe to impose the Kariba draft as the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The negotiators said: "We hereby place it on record that the Agreement of
the parties was that the Kariba Draft, which was negotiated, agreed to and
initiated by all the three parties to the GPA would be used by the parties
through the Parliamentary Select Committee to consult the people on the
content of a new constitution for Zimbabwe."
"The Select Committee would take the Kariba Draft to the people and consult
them on which provisions of the draft they agreed with and accepted and
which ones they did not agree with. In respect of those they did not agree
with, the people would be asked what alternative provisions they wanted in
their place," the statement read.
However, the statement that appeared in the newspaper was signed by all the
members of the negotiating teams, except for the MDC-T Secretary General and
Finance Minister Tendai Biti. But his colleague in the party and Economic
Planning Minister Elton Mangoma signed the document.
The others who co-signed the newspaper notice, dated 23 July, were ZANU PF
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa & Transport and Infrastructural
Development Minister Innocent Goche; Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman
Ncube & Regional, Integration and International Co-operation Minister
Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga from the MDC-M also signed the document.
The negotiators said they wished to clarify and explain what the three
parties agreed to be, 'the place and role of the Kariba Draft Constitution
within the constitution making process.'
"We do this so as to restore, reaffirm and defend the co-operative spirit
among the parties to the agreement, which co-operative spirit is absolutely
essential and indeed is a pre-condition for a successful conclusion to the
agreed constitution-making process."
We were not able to reach the Finance Minister for comment but sources close
to the MDC leader said Biti may not have put his signature to something his
party does not agree with. We also failed to reach Mr Mangoma to find out
why his signature is on the document, contrary to his party's position.
The MDC has said it rejects the imposition of the Kariba Draft and would
reject any attempt by ZANU PF to foist this draft on the people. The party
had said in a statement on June 26: "The Kariba Constitution was a
compromise document drafted by three political parties and initialled on 30
September 2007 to minimise the possibility of a contested election result in
2008, in line with a SADC resolution that had given birth to the dialogue.
It was an interim Constitution that was meant to be used only for the 2008
election, but on 4 December 2007, ZANU PF refused to implement the Kariba
draft. Its function and intended purpose therefore died on 4 December 2007
because of ZANU PF intransigence."
"ZANU PF cannot resurrect a document meant for the 2008 election, which they
rejected and turned down in December 2007. They must not be allowed to sneak
it through the backdoor when Zimbabweans have ample time to make their own
Constitution," said the MDC.
Meanwhile MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa reiterated on SW Radio Africa on
Tuesday that his party does not endorse the Kariba Draft, and want a people
driven constitution. He acknowledged that the MDC was initially part of the
Kariba Draft, which was meant to 'facilitate a framework' for the 2008
elections, but that ZANU PF 'surreptitiously disappeared' from the
negotiating table, and went to declare the election date without the
constitution being replaced.
He added that the Kariba Draft was brought back during the second
negotiations mediated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. "We
agreed to acknowledge its existence in the GPA but not that it would be
taken to the people as a document upon which people are supposed to comment
on. That is not in the agreement and in fact it is not anywhere written in
the GPA. It is ZANU PF's interpretation."
However, the statement by the five negotiators appealed to the political
parties to 'honour the agreement both in words and in deed, so as to
preserve the integrity of the GPA.' They insist the agreement did not seek
to 'foist the Kariba Draft on the people, but merely to provide a structured
way of consulting the people as to determine what exactly was acceptable and
not acceptable to them.'
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
From Caesar Zvayi in MUNYONYO, Uganda
ZIMBABWE may soon reconsider the advisability of letting non-governmental
organisations operate in the country as most of them are exceeding the terms
of their registration by posing as shadow governments that threaten the
viability of the inclusive Government, President Mugabe has said.
Addressing the Global 2009 Dialogue on the theme of ''Inclusivity and
National Visions'' here, yesterday, President Mugabe took a swipe at the
plethora of Western-sponsored NGOs in Zimbabwe, that now number an estimated
2 500, whose conduct, he said, left a lot to be desired.
''We have now a phenomenon of NGOs, or shall I call them phenomena for they
really are a type of government in the background of a formal government?
"I don't know whether this creature is for the better or for the worse, but
in our country we have seen a situation where they have exceeded, really,
their terms of reference and perhaps we might have to reconsider the
advisability of having NGOs,'' the President said to applause from the
delegates drawn from various fields.
The NGO community in Zimbabwe has been accused of disrupting the recent
All-Stakeholder People's Conference in Harare that saw some of the
organisations led by the Lovemore Madhuku-headed NCA announce that they
would hold their own constitutional convention as they ''did not want
constitution-making to be left to politicians''.
President Mugabe took a swipe at the West for maintaining its illegal
economic sanctions regime on Zimbabwe despite the fact that Zimbabweans
themselves and their brothers and sisters in Africa had condemned the
sanctions and endorsed the inclusive Government.
"We do not understand why the outside world should be more concerned than
the African entities, the African Union, the various regional organisations
we have. We do not understand the motives of those who continue to impose
sanctions on us and this is affecting our ability to proceed with the
turnaround, and even as we plan a way forward.''
During Prime Minister Tsvangirai's recent six-nation tour of Western
capitals to call for the lifting of the economic sanctions and restoration
of Zimbabwe's lines of credit, Western governments made it clear that they
would not extend any financial assistance to Zimbabwe.
They said the US$202 million they pledged was to be directed to the NGOs
they sponsored as part of their regime change agenda.
President Mugabe, however, said despite this destabilisation, the inclusive
Government was working well as shown by the Zimbabwean delegation that is
made up of representatives of the three main political parties in
''We had to come as an inclusive Government to this forum and demonstrate
indeed that we are one, not out of a display but as a reality.
''We are now not just a single child of mother Zimbabwe, not even just two
children, we are triplets and as triplets we move together. So there we are,
and this is how we are working, very, very smoothly,'' President Mugabe said
to applause and cheers from the delegates.
The Zimbabwean delegation has been hailed here for setting a unique example
in Africa, particularly in a Great Lakes Region that has been plagued by
internecine conflicts over the years.
Zimbabwe, the President said, was enjoying great peace and harmony and had
never been at war but had quarrels and conflicts between its political
Quarrels had negatively impacted on the economy and national vision document
the country drafted and launched a decade ago.
''We in Zimbabwe worked on a national vision nearly 10 years ago and we
called it Vision 20/20.
"It has run for some 10 years now, through difficulties, situations of
difficulty, and the situations of difficulty have not made it possible for
us to achieve the targets that we had set ourselves stage by stage towards
the complete attainment of the totality of the objectives of the national
Zimbabwe, he said, had, however, been fortunate that its national vision had
worked alongside the national visions of others in the region who had helped
the country withstand the Western onslaught of the past decade.
''Fortunately for us, we are in a context where our vision was working
alongside the visions of others. We are a member of Sadc, we are a member of
Comesa, we are a member of the African Union, and so what was our problem
became the problem of Sadc, became the problem of the African Union, became
a problem of all our members within that context, and in the wisdom of all
of them, the proposal was that there should be an inclusive Government. So
the idea of inclusivity is an important one,'' he said.
National visions can only thrive in an environment of peace and stability,
he said, and in light of the measure of stability brought by the inclusive
Government, Zimbabwe had since embarked on a new process of crafting a
national vision document, a process being led by Deputy Prime Minister
Mutambara, and which will also draw from Vision 20/20.
''National visions can only operate in an environment of political stability
and peace. It is necessary to have that environment and then, of course, you
must have the ability of the government plus other parties.
''It is not just the Government that drives things in Zimbabwe. Government
is a facilitator, yes, but Government is also an actor. You have to consider
the employers, the various entities, the workers, labour,'' the President
The leaders and delegates later jointly launched the Munyonyo Peace Hub at
the conference centre here, with each leader and former leaders receiving a
spear that was to be buried at the sight as a sign that they had chosen
peace over conflict.
Host President Yoweri Museveni said the Munyonyo Speke Resort had thus been
consecrated as a ground for peace and all the feuding parties in Africa were
welcome to use the ground to find each other.
President Mugabe, in his capacity as Head of State and Government and Comesa
chairman, is today scheduled to address delegates on the topic, ''Achieving
Global Equity Among Regional Trading Blocs'', that he will tackle together
with the host and patron of the 2009 Dialogue, President Museveni.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
28 July 2009
Non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe are voicing concern following
comments from President Robert Mugabe saying NGOs are acting as a kind of
Speaking at the Global 2009 Dialogue conference in Uganda, Mr. Mugabe said
Harare might have to reconsider whether such organizations are desirable.
''We have now a phenomenon of NGOs, or shall I call them phenomena for they
really are a type of government in the background of a formal government?"
Mr. Mugabe said.
"I don't know whether this creature is for the better or for the worse, but
in our country we have seen a situation where they have exceeded, really,
their terms of reference and perhaps we might have to reconsider the
advisability of having NGOs,'' he told the gathering.
His remarks for many brought to mind the order issued by his former
government in 2008 in the approach to a presidential runoff election barring
non-governmental organizations from carrying out most humanitarian field
operations. His government accused NGOs of backing the Movement for
Democratic Change, then in the political opposition.
Chief Executive Officer Cephas Zinhumwe of the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organizations told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that member organizations are prepared to discuss any
issues the government may have.
Tuesday 28 July 2009 / by Alice Chimora
Zimbabwe Finance minister Tendai Biti on Monday morning received a live
bullet and a written note enclosed in an envelope addressed to him at his
The note that accompanied the 9mm bullet advised Biti to "prepare your will".
The bullet and the note enclosed in an envelope was dropped at his house and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was informed of the incident.
Biti's aid Nqobizitha Mlilo said 'He's a bit low and shaken up as a result
of this episode,'
Biti made a report to the police as he viewed this threat seriously but the
Central Intelligence Organisation, which is charged with protecting cabinet
ministers has taken charge of the investigations.
The bullet, note and envelope have since been sent for forensics in the
Meanwhile, sources close to the investigation today said Defence Minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa is bitter over Biti's declaration that he would seek to
overhaul the country's mineral laws.
Mnangagwa and his business partner Billy Rautenbach have embarked on a grand
plan to take over all of the country's 600 mines in dodgy deals involving
some International Western companies bursting sanctions prescribed by their
"Biti's statement irked Mnangagwa's as a result of his ruthless traits hence
the latest full scale war (with) him (Biti)," said the source.
July 28 2009 at 01:05AM
Harare - Zimbabwe's Finance Minister and deputy leader of the former
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Tendai Biti, on Monday received a
bullet and a written threat in the post at his home in Harare.
Biti, a lawyer by training and outspoken critic of President Robert
Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, confirmed receiving a brown envelope with a
live 9mm round.
"Violence is the language of the intellectually defeated," Biti told
the German Press Agency as he proceeded with his ministerial duties at his
offices at the government buildings, adding: "I am undeterred."
The note, written in the local Shona language, read "raira nhaka",
meaning "Prepare your will".
Biti said he had handed over the bullet and mail to the police for
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he could not confirm the
incident because he was having communication problems but could "probably"
provide confirmation on Tuesday.
Biti said he had informed Tsvangirai and acting president Joice
Mujuru, who is filling in for Mugabe while the president is away at a summit
of African leaders in Uganda.
Violence against, and harassment of, MDC members has continued in
Zimbabwe despite the party joining Zanu-PF in an inclusive government in
As finance minister, Biti is embroiled in a fierce battle for control
of government finances with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, an appointee
Biti accuses Gono of having contributed to the demise of Zimbabwe's
economy by printing money to fill holes in government coffers, causing
hyperinflation and forcing the new government to ditch the virtually
worthless Zimbabwe dollar for hard currency earlier this year. - Sapa-dpa
by Nqobizitha Khumalo Tuesday 28 July 2009
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's coalition government will name former opposition
officials to head diplomatic missions in five countries, in line with last
year's power-sharing agreement signed by the southern African country's
three main political parties.
A top government official said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC
party will be asked to provide candidates to serve as ambassadors in
Germany, Australia, Sudan and Nigeria, while an official from the MDC
formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara will be appointed
ambassador to Senegal.
"The ambassador designates are going to go for three weeks training on
diplomacy, they will start training on August 3 and they will be posted
after they complete the training and we expect them to be in their stations
by the beginning of September," said Gorden Moyo, who is Minister of State
in Tsvangirai's office.
The appointments would put to an end one of the outstanding issues
from the power-sharing agreement signed September 2008 by President Robert
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
Under the agreement appointments to key public posts should be shared
among the political parties but Mugabe had refused to dismiss serving
ambassadors aligned to his ZANU PF party in order to make way for MDC
The veteran leader only agreed at a later stage to allow Tsvangirai
and Mutambara's MDC parties to fill up any ambassadorial posts that may fall
vacant. The five posts that will be filled up by the two MDC parties had
been vacant for some time now.
Zimbabwe's three principal political leaders remain divided on the
issue of central bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes
Tomana who the MDCs say Mugabe re-appointed and appointed respectively
without consulting them as is required under the power-sharing pact.
Tsvangirai and his MDC have written to South African President Jacob
Zuma to convene a summit of the regional Southern African Development
Community (SADC) to discuss the appointment of Gono and Tomana as well as
other issues pertaining to Zimbabwe's shaky unity government.
Zuma is current chair of the SADC that facilitated formation of the
Harare unity government and together with the African Union is guarantor to
Zimbabwe's power-sharing pact. - ZimOnline
by Tendai Maronga Tuesday 28 July 2009
CHITUNGWIZA - The National Constitution Assembly (NCA) has called on the
government to abandon the ongoing Parliament-led constitution making process
threatening that they will reject it since it is not people driven.
Speaking during a one-day second people's constutional convention in
Chitungwiza on Monday NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said as civil society
they must talk to politicians and demand that they drop the constitutional
making process which is led by MPs and replace it with an independent
"This whole process is a Kariba process and I think we should reject it. We
don't want the politicians to give us a politicians-driven constitution. A
defective process yields a defective outcome. We are going to reject an
outcome that comes from this process," said Madhuku referring to the Kariba
constitutional draft which will be used by the parliamentary select
committee during consultations.
The NCA - a coalition of several civic society groups and smaller opposition
political parties - will hold countrywide consultations in the next four
months before the findings are consolidated into a draft constitution.
The group has for years campaigned for a new and democratic constitution for
The group and its labour and student partners have been traditional allies
of both Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara's
But a potentially costly rift has emerged between the allies after the
former opposition MDC parties agreed with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF
party to put Parliament in charge of drafting a new constitution for
Madhuku said a people-driven process does not mean one that is led by
"We did not vote for our MPs to write the constitution for us. For how long
do we want our politicians to treat us like fools? Right now the government
process has no leader. There are so many politicians who claim to be leading
the process. This process has no leader," he said to wild applauses from the
2 000-plus crowd.
Madhuku said for the people of Zimbabwe to freely write a constitution for
themselves, Mugabe must retire first since he is the one who caused all the
problems that the people of Zimbabwe are facing today.
"Mugabe must retire first then we write a new constitution for Zimbabwe.
After that we will hold free and fair elections to elect our new leaders,"
said Madhuku adding that his constitutional movement does not intend to form
a political party.
He said the only problem they are going to face in their quest for a people
driven constitution was MDC leader Tsvangirai and his party.
"We were together 10 years ago advocating for a people-driven process but
now we don't know what has happened to that objective. When we criticise
Mugabe it's because he is being undemocratic and when we also criticise
Tsvangirai it's because we want him to practice genuine democracy," he said.
Other organisations that attended the convention include the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe National Students' Union
ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe said their main problem with the
government process was that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) only
recognises civil society when it comes to assistance and not as active
participants to the constitutional making process.
"Article 6 of the GPA allows for the calling of the civil society to assist
the Select Committee only when it is necessary in fulfilling its mandate.
The Select Committee is made up of only three political parties and we don't
know how that is global," said Chibebe, declaring full support for the NCA
agenda of a people-driven process.
ZINASU president Clever Bere reminded the MDC of it resolution of 2000 that
rejected the appointment of the constitutional commission led by Justice
Godfrey Chidyausiku and called for an independent commission to lead the
constitution making process.
"It is indeed naive, parochial and stupid for our colleagues in the MDC to
expect us to follow them in this process. We are further disappointed by the
continued insult to out intelligence by the drivers of this process, who
continue to blatantly lie to us that this process is people driven," said
ZANU PF has been accused of frantically trying to throw spanners into the
constitution-making process and the party's supreme-decision making body,
and Mugabe have declared that the Kariba Draft - negotiated by ZANU PF and
the MDC in Kariba in 2007 - would be used as a working draft.
Article 6 of the global political agreement (GPA) signed by the country's
three main political parties last September provides for the drafting of a
The draft constitution would be put before the electorate in a referendum
expected in July next year and if approved by Zimbabweans will then be
brought before Parliament for enactment.
Once a new constitution is in place, the power-sharing government is
expected to then call fresh parliamentary, presidential and local government
Zimbabweans hope a new constitution to replace the one inked in 1979 at the
Lancaster House talks in London would whittle the president's powers,
strengthen the role of Parliament and guarantee civil liberties and
The existing constitution has been amended 19 times since the country's
independence in 1980 and critics say the changes have only helped to
entrench President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF's stranglehold on power. -
27 July 2009
By GRAIL KUPAKUWANA
HARARE - Justice and Legal affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has claimed
that he is the sole author of the Kariba Draft constitution. Chinamasa told
journalists at the Chinhoyi Press Club recently that he had crafted the
Kariba Draft in the comfort of his lounge over a long period beginning in
2001 - not at Lake Kariba or in a houseboat as previously reported.
He said he later took the draft to the secret Kariba houseboat meeting for
"baptism" with the aid of Welshman Ncube, Secretary General of the breakaway
faction of the MDC. He said if he had his own way he would have called the
document the "Chinamasa Draft" as it was the result of his efforts alone.
Chinamasa said he was therefore surprised why some politicians and civil
society organisations like ZCTU and NCA were denouncing the document. He
vowed that the Kariba draft would be used as a working document. He also
said Zanu (PF) had adopted it and urged the MDC to follow suit. "We drafted
the Kariba Draft from late 2001 with Welshman Ncube before the split of the
MDC. In 2007 we were joined by Tendai Biti and Nicholas Goche and went
formally to Kariba to baptize it.
"We cannot throw seven years of hard work down the drain. Zanu (PF) has
adopted the document and we expect the same from the MDC," said Chinamasa.
Chinamasa is also believed to be the brains working behind the scenes with
the blessing of top party officials on an exit strategy for Mugabe. He was
trying to get rid of Mugabe while Welshman Ncube was trying to get rid of
Chinamasa survived Mugabe's purge of the party following the infamous
Tsholotsho Declaration, widely seen by many as an abortive palace coup and
Ncube failed to oust Tsvangirai.
There were numerous unconfirmed press reports at the time that Ncube had
been holding several secret meetings with Chinamasa.
Ousted former South African President Thabo Mbeki is widely believed to have
played a significant role behind the scenes. Insiders say he knew all the
secret meetings and deals agreed between Chinamasa and Ncube, the ultimate
goal of which was keeping Zanu (PF) in power by hook or by crook.
Goche came in at the last minute after Zanu (PF) hardliners aligned to
Mugabe were no longer comfortable with Chinamasa. The Tsholotsho declaration
revealed the machinations of six Zanu (PF) Provincial Chairmen. Chinamasa
was working with Mugabe's disgraced spin doctor, Jonathan Moyo.
The Tsholotsho plotters wanted to install Emmerson Mnangagwa as heir to
Mugabe's throne. If they had had their way, Mugabe would have been eased out
of power by now. Chinamasa was Mugabe's top negotiator during the
SADC-sponsored talks which culminated to the Global Political Agreement
signed on 15 September 2008. He remains Mugabe's top negotiator today.
Chinamasa's revelations have emerged as the ZCTU and NCA commence their
parallel constitution-making process with a Peoples' Convention in
Chitungwiza, threatening to spearhead a NO vote in the constitutional
referendum unless the proposed constitution is not "people-driven".
By Alex Bell
28 July 2009
Harare residents are up in arms this week after the City Council started
disconnecting water supplies to both domestic and commercial users on
Monday, because of unpaid water bills.
City officials said this week, they had resorted to water disconnections
after residents failed to respond to letters of final demand and to Press
notices released earlier this month. Residents, who have refused to settle
their bills in the absence of services, reacted with anger when they started
receiving the final letters of demand from the local authority. According to
one of the letters sent to a Highlands resident, who owes US$131, the
council warned that failure to pay within seven days would result in 'legal
action being effected without further warning to you, with costs charged to
your account.' It's understood in total more than US$20 million in unpaid
water bills is outstanding.
But the city services have been dismal and the council has not even
collected refuse in many parts of the city for years, saying it could not
repair the broken down equipment that it uses. At the same time, areas such
as Hatcliffe, Orange Grove, Greendale, Vainona, parts of Mabelreign and
Goodhope, Mabvuku, Tafara and suburbs in satellite towns of Chitungwiza,
Norton and Ruwa have not received water for very long periods. Budiriro
residents have not had water for almost a year. Last year, poor water and
sewerage systems led to a massive cholera outbreak in various parts of the
country, including Chitungwiza, which eventually became the epicentre of an
epidemic that claimed thousands of lives.
The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has previously spoken out
in defence of the city's residents, who said they would fight back because
of the city's dismal service delivery record. CHRA Chief Executive Farai
Barnabas Mangodza explained on Tuesday that most residents are justified in
not paying their bills, saying the bills 'are exorbitant and do not reflect
the level of service in the city.' He expressed anger that the city has the
manpower to physically disconnect water services, 'but they claim they don't
have enough manpower to collect the refuse or other services.'
"Are they after money or are they actually after providing real services?"
Mangodza asked, and added: "Most residents are prepared to go to court to
Posted on Tuesday 28 July 2009 - 12:36
AfricaNews ICT desk
Zimbabwe's TelOne, has been hit by a wave of cable thefts that has
crippled its operations. According to an official of the telecom company the
situation is impacting badly on measures to resuscitate the country's sole
fixed landline operator.
The spokesperson Collins Wilbesi told the media, "Theft of
telecommunication cables and equipment in the country has reached
unprecedented levels. The cost of replacing stolen cables is prohibitive."
Years of economic turmoil characterized by shortage of foreign currency to
import vital equipment as well as vandalism of its infrastructure have seen
the company's operations take a knock.
Meanwhile, Wilbesi told media that the new billing system will cut costs
and improve service delivery. "The system will enable us to account for
revenues generated. In addition, there will be a significant reduction of
operational costs as the system will come with an enveloper machine that
will reduce the amount of time spent packaging and dispatching bills," he
July 29, 2009
Zimbabwe Notebook: you can pay for a bus ride with a scrawny chicken
Slowly the corpse of the banking system begins to rise from the morass it
was buried in by Robert Mugabe's spectacular misrule. I was able to open a
new bank account a week ago.
I hadn't used mine for three years. The personal finance adviser said that
it was in Zimbabwe dollars, now demonetised, and I could forget it. You can
have one in US dollars, she said. Fine, I said.
What about a cheque book? She laughed. There are electronic transfers, she
said, but it has been a week since someone paid me several hundred US
dollars, and still there is only the $10 I deposited to open my account.
What about an ATM card? That was also funny. The machines have been dead for
most of the year. You can't use your international credit card. I could have
a debit card. But only about three shops in Harare have card machines, and
they usually tell you that the system is offline because the power is down.
The disaster of 500 billion per cent inflation has left banks moneyless. So
no loans, no mortgages. You can put money in and, sometimes, with great
frustration, take it out, less 1.5 per cent. It is nothing but a vast and
spiteful piggy bank.
No staff to speak of, either. Last week, in the well of desks behind the
counter where normally dozens of people scurry, there was no one. Three
tellers were serving a queue of 200 waiting to draw money.
The wretched Zimdollar survives in the stuffed, strong-smelling minibuses
that serve Harare commuters. A single trip costs 50 US cents, but you still
see passengers with puzzled expressions peeling off great sheaves of
officially untenderable notes they are stuck with. There is no US coinage,
so you pay the equivalent with three trillion worth of Zimdollar notes.
If you don't have any kind of money, kind will do. Irene saw a poverty-worn
old woman offer a barely feathered chicken to the conductor. He weighed the
struggling bird in his hands. "That'll do," he said.
In a hole
The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Commission is also on the perilous road to
recovery as it now charges in US dollars. But as I write, we haven't had
electricity for 26 hours and the lights are flickering as my battery-charged
inverter slowly dies. No explanation, but we know that coal supplies have
been cut off for non-payment by the equally bankrupt state-owned Hwange
colliery that sits on the largest coal deposits in Southern Africa but can't
get at them because the digging machinery is broken. Freddie has been cut
off for six weeks because someone stole the oil from the transformer cooler
on his block. He has a verruca from constantly using the Harare Sports Club
Great holes and mounds of earth have begun to appear in the roads as Harare
begins to replace colonial-era water pipes. My part of town has been dry for
five weeks. I no longer have to feed neighbours from my borehole - a
charitable new neighbour who also has a supply has set up a tap outside his
house. But I still do community service for Darryl over the road who comes
From the top of Stanley Hill above my house at dusk I admired the wonderful
panorama of Harare west. It is a vision of a modern city, with water
reservoirs, streetlights, electricity cables and radio masts among the
neatly subdivided tree-lined suburban homes.
This week Tracey was elated to hear the roar of a refuse truck. But no one
had put out their bags because the rubbish hasn't been collected for years.
The vehicle sped down the road.
The rest of this urban infrastructure also works sometimes - but not enough.
Down the road a man dragged heavy boughs for firewood from the top of a tree
with a five-metre pole with a metal hook wired to the end. Around the
corner, a woman was peeling bark off a tree for kindling. At a municipal
water inspection point where the water was burbling out like an abundant
spring there was a gaggle of women with buckets on their heads, the biblical
women at the well.
Dim your eyes and all the brick and steel erected by the Rhodesians in a
bygone colonial age melts away. You could be in the bush, centuries before
the Rhodesians ever came.
The kindness of strangers
You wonder how the cruelty and hate of Mr Mugabe's militias takes root in
Zimbabwe's people. Last week I exchanged greetings with a boy of about 10
playing in a heap of sand at the side of the road. I had tripped in one of
the hundreds of potholes that pit my road and shrieked in pain. I tried to
steady myself by flinging out my left arm, still tender a month after a
As I staggered, I felt a gentle touch on my elbow. "Oh sir, oh sir, are you
not feeling well?" he cried.
If you were in Streatham he would have laughed at you, a friend said.
By Alex Bell
28 July 2009
Top ZANU PF official and Registrar General, Tobiawa Mudede has escaped
prosecution, despite being implicated as an 'interested' party in a diesel
fraud case, which this weekend saw the conviction of a Chinoyi medicine
Mudede, who has repeatedly denied falsifying voting records to ensure Robert
Mugabe stayed in power, was implicated in the case against the medicine
woman, who conned the government out of an estimated US$1 million through a
diesel fuel scam in 2007. The woman, Rotina Mavhunga, who goes by the alias
of Nomatter Tagirira, bamboozled a government delegation by convincing them
she could procure diesel out of a rock. In March 2007 Mavhunga found an
abandoned fuel tank in the bush near the northern town of Chinhoyi, filled
it with diesel and concealed a connecting pipe at the top of a rock.
The Chinoyi Magistrates Court heard during her fraud trial that Mavhunga
then summoned top government officials to witness her 'discovery.' At a
signal, a hidden accomplice would apparently open the tap on the pipe
connected to the fuel tank, leaving the officials to gasp in amazement as
refined diesel poured down the side of the rock. The cabinet 'task force'
that was dispatched by Robert Mugabe to investigate the claim returned to
declare that Zimbabwe's persistent fuel shortages were at an end. Government
officials and businessmen then lavished money and vehicles on Mavhunga, to
the tune of an estimated US$1 million, until several months later, when a
second group of Ministers began to express doubt in her claims.
Over the weekend, Judge Ignatius Mugova found Mavhunga guilty of defrauding
the government, and named Mudede as an 'interested party' in the fraud. The
judge revealed that Mudede had supplied 125 litres of the diesel used during
the scam. It was also revealed that Mudede provided shelter for the woman
when she went on the run from the police. But while finding his behaviour
was 'disturbing,' the judge said he was not convinced Mudede was acting out
The judge told the court that people who visited Mavhunga's 'shrine' were
'gullible' and were clearly frightened of her alleged spiritual power,
referring to reports that members of the investigating cabinet task force
took off their shoes in her presence. During the trial, Mavhunga would
reportedly start growling in the dock before the apparently terror-stricken
public gallery. But the judge said she had been faking a trance to try and
have herself declared unfit for trial.
Her conviction was passed 'in absentia', as she had repeatedly failed to
arrive at court despite being served the summons, and it is believed she is
By Lance Guma
28 July 2009
Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
are holding firm in blocking the return of the Shabani Mashaba Mine
conglomerate to its owner the South African based businessman Mutumwa
Mawere. The companies were seized from Mawere in 2004 under the pretext that
they were indebted to the state. But a chance meeting between Mugabe and
Mawere engineered by South African President Jacob Zuma at his inauguration
in May this year has opened up a can of worms. Mawere handed a pile of
documents on the matter to Mugabe who in turn sought the advice of Gideon
Gono the country's controversial Central Banker Governor.
In a stunning u-turn Gono advised Mugabe that the takeover of Mawere's
companies was done illegally. This is despite Gono himself leading the state
case against the businessman back then. Gono's latest report to Mugabe says
the 'Reconstruction Order' used to take Mawere's companies was based on the
false premise that they were 'insolvent,' and owed money to the state. He
now says they were not 'insolvent,' and the companies which were owed money
at the time were not state entities. "It is recommended that your Excellency
approve the de-specification of Mr. Mawere and his companies, so as to pave
the way for a new beginning, particularly in the context of investment
promotion and empowerment in Zimbabwe," Gono's report stated.
A source close to the story, however told Newsreel Mnangagwa and Chinamasa
have already told Mugabe any u-turn will undermine his regime. The two have
also reminded Mugabe he was re-elected on the back of a violent and
murderous election campaign last year which was chaired by Mnangagwa under
the notorious Joint Operations Command. Chinamasa as Justice Minister is key
to shutting out any attempts to prosecute ZANU PF villains behind the
violence campaign, while Mnangagwa as Defence Minister and JOC Chair holds
influence in the army and security sectors. The source also told us the
matter has exposed Gono as being a mere pawn used by different principals at
different times for different ends.
On Tuesday Mawere confirmed to Newsreel that negotiations were indeed taking
place but declined to give us details. Chinamasa meanwhile splashed out on
adverts last week denying the negotiations. He insisted that Arafas
Gwaradzimba, appointed administrator of the companies several years ago will
remain in charge. A commentator told us the matter ultimately will be
determined by 'who Mugabe needed more.' The 85 year old leader needs
Mnangagwa to stave off any challenge from the MDC and this looks set to be
his main consideration.
When elections are over, and the media isn’t being flooded with images of violently battered bodies, things feel like they go quiet in Zimbabwe. The power-sharing government provides a shelter from the storm of doubts and misgivings that most Zimbabweans have, even when it is quiet. We are willing to believe that because the good guys are occupying some of the seats of power, that it can’t possibly be as bad as it was before. Food is back on city shelves, tangible evidence giving truth to the faint hope that we’re well on the road to recovery.
But are we? Frankly, I’m feeling scared again.
We’ve blogged many times about the police and roadblocks in Zimbabwe (e.g. here, here and here), the way the police manning these rickety structures use them as a tool for extortion - a way to earn an alternative income, by bribing tired travellers and threatening them with delays and possible arrest: all that hassle can be averted with few crisp Rands. But IRIN reported on a much more sinister aspect of the police recently:
A serving Zimbabwe National Army officer, who declined to be identified, told IRIN that junior soldiers and police officers were being driven to crime by desperation, as they suffered the same economic hardships as most of the population. However, unlike non-uniformed Zimbabweans - 94 percent of whom are thought to be unemployed - soldiers and police, like all public servants, enjoy a US$100 monthly wage.
“They have observed how senior security officers drive luxury cars, get free fuel for their multiple farms, and other benefits. Soldiers and police officers have no other skills which they can use to raise extra money - all they can do is to use guns, but when they get used to that lifestyle, they can easily become warlords,” the army officer said.
“From a security point of view, what this means is there are underground armies, which can even be a danger to national security because nobody knows how many there are, and how many weapons are in their hands,” he commented. [Link]
It’s a scary reminder for those of us who look at the shelves in the shop, heave an internal sigh of relief because the product we travelled for, burning valuable fuel to get there, is actually on the shelf and fortunately the purse has just enough Rands needed to buy it. All very well for the few to be able to reach up and buy the product, but what happens when the majority, who also want to buy that product, who a few months ago were filled with optimism that they too would be able to afford it if they gave the new government a chance, are slowly becoming disenchanted and angry and frustrated. Where do the angry turn to now?
Before, the anger was quite rightfully against the regime who took us down this road to nothingness and hunger. All hopes for the future pinned on the two MDC formations. But if the MDCs are now in power, and the majority perceive that nothing has changed; what next? Is it likely, as the IRIN article points out, that those who can take power into their own hands will?
I wrote a few days ago about the incredible finding by Foreign Policy magazine and The Fund for Peace that Zimbabwe is the second most failed state in the world - after Somalia. I flippantly quipped about the way we see media footage of the Somali warlords’ foot-soldiers shooting from the hip and spraying bullets crazily and lethally all around them, with no thought for collateral damage. I re-play that image in the context of the IRIN article, and this time picture it happening outside a Chicken Inn, or a TM supermarket, or down a road lined with jacarandas in bloom. Those potential images break my heart and fill me with unease and uncertainty.
IRIN had another article yesterday, this one pointing to growing political violence in the rural areas and recounts the experience of Katiyo, who we wrote about a few days ago, and goes on to cite a senior MDC-T official:
Morgan Komichi, a senior MDC official involved in rural organization, told IRIN that ZANU-PF violence was increasing as the party went about shoring up its support ahead of the elections expected to take place once a new constitution has been agreed.
“What is happening is that ZANU-PF is rolling out its machinery of violence in order to intimidate the population ahead of the constitution making-process; it is a constitutional battle,” Komichi said.
“Mugabe has said he wants the new constitution to be based on a draft … crafted during the inter-party negotiations [which led to the formation of the unity government], while the MDC is for a people-driven process,” he commented.
“The reports of violence that we are receiving at our offices are extremely shocking and barbaric. MDC supporters are being axed, while in some instances members of the military are viciously assaulting our members. ZANU-PF is now actively pushing the agenda of national healing so that perpetrators of violence find an escape, so that they don’t [have to] account for their actions.” [Link]
Sokwanele has been involved with monitoring projects since 2004. In 2004 and 2007 we spent months leading up to the elections in 2005 and 2008 flagging to SADC over and over again the complete contempt that the Zanu PF government had for the regional standards and guidelines governing elections in the SADC area. Now that there is a power-sharing government, we are laboriously monitoring compliance with the Global Political Agreement. Underneath these projects is the underlying belief that elections are a process, not a one-day event. The same goes for the new power-sharing government where moving towards change will be a process.
So the same is also true for those in Zanu PF who do not want to see change happen, where hanging onto power is also a process, something that has to be worked at - each positive development patiently whittled away and returned to autocracy.
This power-sharing government is a set-back for those democracy-fearing people, but not one they plan to allow to stay forever. So the constitution process is a threat, just as elections are a threat. They want the people to support the Kariba draft, but why bother to win their support by going for heart and minds through debate when they believe - as Zanu PF has always believed in the past - that the most direct route comes via the barrel of a gun or at the end of stick or axe handle wielded by a crazed goon who hopes to get some kind of reward for his violent efforts?
On the weekend we blogged a map of by-elections. Elections: more of those special days that give us both incredible hope but also make our blood vessels thrum with fear. My colleague said to me dryly after he saw the map, “… and Zanu PF ALWAYS wins by-elections”. I don’t have the stats to hand to know if this is totally true, but it is true to say that those who have to suffer through by-elections, the electorate I mean, can expect to see the massive Zanu PF violence machinery visited on one small teeny-weeny area. My heart goes out to those in those areas; how unbearable it must be to know the full force of terror is probably about to be unleashed in your neighbourhood.
Finally, to add the glossy cherry on top of my mounting unease, I saw an article reported in my daily zwnews mailing this weekend which pointed out the following about the trials underpinning the by-election map:
So far, five MDC MPs have been convicted of and sentenced to more than six months in prison for a variety of “crimes” - which is the minimum sentence that allows them to be thrown out of parliament. All have appealed against their convictions but appeals can take forever, so while they may have won freedom on bail, their exclusion from the house of assembly reduces the MDC’s tiny majority won in last year’s elections. Two MPs have already been expelled and when parliament sits again, it is almost certain that the other three will also be barred. And despite a legal challenge by Zimbabwe Lawyers’ for Human Rights, most legal opinion holds that the Zanu PF-aligned clerk of parliament, Austin Zvoma, will be within his rights to deny them entry. Most of these trials took place a six-hour drive or further from Harare and were not covered by journalists because of the staggering costs of reporting in Zimbabwe. Frustrating efforts to piece together the circumstances of these “trials” via a fractured and expensive cellphone service suggest that Tomana has a crew of prosecutors working industriously in outlying areas to prosecute MDC MPs. [emphasis added]
If the trials cannot be covered by the few journalists who operate independently and carry the full weight of responsibility for impartial and neutral reporting, how can we possibly know how much is happening in the rural areas?
One thing is for sure, to assume that “no news is good news” in Zimbabwe is catastrophically short-sighted.
Despite the lack of news, history and experience have to warn us to prepare for the worst and to assume the worst. So this is why I feel a deep creeping unease; why the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up again, and why I feel I need to run through mental check-lists: are we ready for this, can we cope, will this next storm be one we can get through? When I’m in this state of mind, the waiting before hell breaks loose is unbearable.
From The Independent (Uganda), 28 July
We journalists write stories, the big, the small, the controversial and
sometimes the inconsequential. But we rarely make news unless we have been
abducted, arrested or killed in political battles. Today the New Vision
published a story on a reversal exercise at the Smart Partnership Dialogue
at Speke Resort Munyonyo, where the Heads of State in attendance got to ask
the journalists questions. The Presidents seemed to focus on why journalists
report bad stories about Africa. The most notable question came from
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his no holds barred attack on the
Western media. "There are agencies like BBC, CNN. When you act as agents
(correspondents) of those kinds of media, do you have the option of being
impartial?" he asked. "If they are pursuing a hostile attitude, do you
protect the interests of Africa because you are Africans? Can you report
truthfully or factually or do you fear losing your jobs?" He urged African
journalists not to serve neo-colonialist or imperialist interests.
Well Mr. Mugabe should know that the media, despite the times when their
reporting may be flawed, don't owe their allegiance to these leaders. When
he talks about imperialist interests, Mugabe should know that the media
serves the public and not him or any other leaders. To an ordinary person
and indeed to the media, Mugabe and imperialists are the same. He sends
goons to kill miners, arrests opposition members for simply opposing him,
and uses violence as a tool of oppression. Like many other African leaders,
he believes he is the only one with a vision for the continent and thus
continues to stifle debate and proper political participation. Similarly
many leaders give the shares in the best companies to their relatives and
cronies, and appoint leaders on tribal lines. So how is all this different
from imperialism? The difference is that the colonial imperialism was
foreign and this is homegrown. I happen to believe the homegrown imperialism
is actually more painful.
Mugabe and other African leaders actually owe their rise and their prolonged
stay to imperialism. They were students of imperialists and they continue to
benefit because just like imperialists they believe they are never wrong and
that they know what is best for us. They profit from this western
imperialism because it is their ever-present excuse for failure to move
Africa forward. So the media must treat leaders like Mugabe the same as they
do to any other kind of imperialism. Of course he has a point on the ability
of African journalists to change the whole coverage of Africa as a continent
of disease, despair and poverty but he cannot expect positive coverage when
he continues to spread mayhem and fails the unity government. Where there's
good being done it indeed deserves attention but the media cannot be uses as
a tool to downplay the impact of bad rulers. Indeed the coverage has little
to do with whether African journalists are putting Africa first or not.
Mugabe should know that bad news travels faster, as a saying in my village
Zimfest - September 5th 2009
What Glasto is to the Brits, Zimfest is to the Zimbabweans! Without doubt, there is no other fixture on the international summer calendar that elicits such passion and excitement. Perhaps the secret is that every penny raised goes to helping people in Zimbabwe? Or after years of humiliation, Zimbabweans take this chance to celebrate what’s great about their people? Whatever… as soon as the word goes out, literally thousands of Zimfestniks and others nail the date into their diaries.
Zimfest is an event that brings together Zimbabweans from across the cultural spectrum and truly welcomes non-Zimbabweans who are mad about Zimbabwe. It is the biggest international celebration of Zimbabwean arts, music, sport, great food and culture in one field.
Every year Zimfest improves in depth and quality and this year is set to have the most depth, be the best organised and greatest ever. Last year 5000 people of all ages turned up and the vibe was truly a one-love experience.
Every year, we prove that Zimbabweans are resilient and that when we work together we create miracles. With this in mind, we are working globally to produce a Worldwide Zimfest movement, the flagship festival being held in Raynes Park, on the 5th of September.
For media interested in a range of stories, from music, to culture to human resilience. It’s all here.
- ### -
1. Licensing limitations keep the festival to a respectable but boutique 5000 people.
2. Festival images and band biogs available on request.
3. WEZIMBABWE is a registered charity (charity number 1111282) and Zimfest has been running for 9 years. The majority of the money goes to investing into the future youth of Zimbabwe. For example we are currently building a school in Zimbabwe.
4. This year Zimfest began to spread its wings and within 3 years the vision is to have festivals in: London, Cape Town, Perth, Brisbane and most importantly Zimbabwe.
5. Zimfest is a proudly multi-ethnic festival started by a group as diverse as a Benetton ad would ever wish!
6. This year we have invited a range of Zimbabwean personalities who have a special connection with the country: Current England Coach, Andy Flower, Thandi Newton, Jamelia, The Noisettes, Rosalla, Benjani Mwaruwari, Bobby Skinstad, and many more. There are no guarantees, but this is the sort of festival that surreptitiously attracts people under the radar, good people who love the most beautiful country in the world. (Chelsy Davy is of course from Zimbabwe…but there’s no telling where she’ll end up on the night).
Zimbabweans are doing something.
Anyone who has turned on the news recently is aware of the hardship of Zimbabweans at home. However, some may not be aware that in the Diaspora, Zimbabweans are pulling together through music, sport and dance to build a unified community and help back home.
Get a Grip on the music
From Afro-beat, to Kwaito, to Indie Rock, Jazz, Traditional and Hip Hop it’s an amazingly diverse African line-up:
And Very Special guests Africa's
DJ OTIS "The Flow" FRASER & KIMBLE "Double K" ROGERS
Every festival claims is it the best, but there is something about the warmth and mischievous humour of Zimbabweans themselves that makes it really special. Ask yourself this: Of all the Zimbabweans you’ve ever met have there been any that you really didn’t like? (And no… Makosi doesn’t count!)
For further information contact:
Sylvester Mutsigwa - 07958591338
Sinead Parsons - 07879894762
Mike Tashaya – 07876430182
WEZIMBABWE is a registered charitable organisation dedicated to the empowerment of Zimbabweans through the development of a strong and united global Zimbabwean community and to the provision of access to formal education and non-formal life skills training for children and young people throughout Zimbabwe. Website: www.wezimbabwe.org
Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Zimbabweans applying for asylum
IOM spokesman Nde Ndifonka told IRIN: "it's not just a case of [a migrant] going once [to South Africa]; they are going back and forth repeatedly."
The report, Migrants' Needs and Vulnerabilities in the Limpopo Province, Republic of South Africa, is based on a study of the nature and trends of the exodus, and details both the ebb and flow of the migration and the threats encountered by migrants.
"The intention to stay in South Africa over the longer term did not mean that respondents were unwilling to go back to Zimbabwe. While many intend to stay in South Africa for longer than six months, the reality is [that] barely 12 percent actually stayed for more than six months," the report said.
The nature of the migration provides criminal gangs operating along the South African and Zimbabwean borders, known as malaishas (smugglers) and mgumagumas (thieves), with repeated opportunities to rob and rape migrants.
"Many of them experience violence at the hands of malaishas or mgumagumas, and because of the unequal power relations between the perpetrators and the victims, many migrants were unable to defend themselves or seek retribution. On the other hand, perpetrators committed these acts of violence and crime with impunity and little fear of authorities," the report noted.
Many of them experience
violence at the hands of malaishas or mgumagumas, and because of the unequal
power relations between the perpetrators and the victims, many migrants were
unable to defend themselves or seek retribution
Of the unaccompanied minors, 18 percent told of experiencing violence or robbery on the border crossing and showed "signs of deep psychological trauma from the horrendous experiences they went through", Ndifonka said.
About 60 percent of the respondents were young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, and came from Zimbabwe's central and southern provinces of Masvingo (34 percent), Midlands (19 percent), and Matabeleland South (18 percent), while the northeastern and northwestern region, including the capital, Harare, accounted for just over a quarter.
About 84 percent of interviewees cited their economic situation as the main reason for migrating - mirroring Zimbabwe's estimated 94 percent unemployment rate - while 6 percent said they had fled Zimbabwe because of political, religious or ethnic persecution; 41 percent were in possession of asylum seeker permits.
"In the absence of other legal migration channels, it would appear as though the asylum process remains the only available option to many," the report commented.
South Africa was on the verge of introducing a special entry permit for Zimbabweans, but after the April 2009 general elections the African National Congress government, which was returned to power with a slightly diminished majority, decided to put the initiative on hold.
Although the desire to find a job drove most Zimbabwean migrants to cross the border, South Africa's stubbornly high levels of unemployment, despite having the continent's largest economy, meant 55 percent of respondents were earning less than R1,000 (US$130) per month.
A consistent thread running through the interviews was the need to send money to Zimbabwe, which was used overwhelmingly to buy food. Nearly three-quarters said at least one person in Zimbabwe was dependent on their income, while more than half said four or more people relied on their remittances to survive.
Among the survey's recommendations were that counselling and support services be set up in Musina for migrants who suffered violence during the border crossing, particularly women and unaccompanied minors.
These services should also be extended to Makhado, a town about 100km south of Musina, and to private farms, where large numbers of migrants were employed as farm workers.
Forward to what?
The food prices are coming down, but when are we going to see the prices for
electricity, water and rates and particularly the basic charges.
A decrease of 25%, to USD0.21 per unit in the cost of telephone calls is
very little when one compares the peak charges of USD0.04 and the off peak
of USD0.019 for landline calls in South Africa. The same applies to cell
Zimpost rentals for boxes exceed costs in South Africa and the United
States. Their service is poor but their charges are high.
Perhaps we could have a system whereby the City of Harare increases rates
annually in line with an improvement in the Municipal services. As there
has been no rubbish collection during the last year, should we not pay a
nominal amount until we receive a regular service?
If this country is to go forward we need affordable utilities. We cannot
have a situation where the lowest level employee at Harare Municipality
receives the same as a long distance heavy lorry driver in South Africa.
The productive sector does not generate enough USD to enable its employees
to pay accounts of a size which will enable the parastatals and
municipalities to rectify years of maladministration in one, two or three
I look forward to seeing a list of basic charges.