By Byron Dziva in Harare
Last Updated: 2:18am BST 14/06/2007
Seven serving and former officers of the Zimbabwe army have been
charged with planning a coup d'etat against President Robert Mugabe.
The men were arrested in stages, beginning on May 29, and appeared
twice in closed hearings at Harare magistrates' court earlier this month.
Journalists and family members have been barred from the hearings and
the case has now been referred to the Harare high court, where the accused
are expected to apply for bail today.
A police record of the arrests said that the officers were accused of
"treason" over a plot in which they aimed to overthrow Mr Mugabe and install
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the rural housing minister, in his place.
The police statement accuses Albert Mugove Matapo, 40, of recruiting
six others "who conspired to plot a coup to overthrow the Zimbabwe
Mr Matapo wanted to "recruit as many soldiers as possible to take over
the government and all camps and be in control of the nation after which he
will announce to the nation that he was in control of government and would
invite Minister Mnangagwa and service chiefs to form a government", the
police record said.
Another former army officer, Albert Rugowe, is accused of conspiring
with his co-accused and recruiting members of the army, the air force and
the police "to whom he gave some tasks in preparation of a coup".
Others named are serving officers, among them Capt Shepherd Maromo and
Olivine Morale, whose rank and age have not yet been established.
There have been rumours of coup plots in Harare for months as Mr
Mugabe, 82, has faced growing criticism for a spiralling economic crisis and
crackdowns on opposition activists.
This is the first case in which soldiers have been arrested and if
proved, would constitute the first credible coup attempt in Mr Mugabe's
But there are suspicions that rather than being a genuine coup plot,
the case may have been trumped up by rival members of Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party as they jostle for position to succeed him, should he ever retire.
Beatrice Mtetwa, the president of the Zimbabwe Law Society, said that
she had not heard about the case. "I am surprised that we have not heard
about it if the accused have appeared at the magistrates' court."
Sidney Sekeramayi, the defence minister, did not respond to phone
inquiries about the case.
Sources at Zimbabwe's special forces barracks, near Harare
International Airport, where the seven are being held, said that they had
all been subjected to long periods of torture.
The lower house of Zimbabwe's parliament passed a Bill yesterday
allowing the government to monitor phones, mail and the internet to protect
Opposition members said that they feared the Bill would pave the way
for Mr Mugabe's government to curtail freedom of speech and breach privacy.
The Interception of Communications Bill passed the lower house without
amendments and will now be sent to the upper house, where it is expected to
face little opposition. Mr Mugabe's party has a majority in both houses.
Chris Mushohwe, the transport and communications minister, said that
the Bill was necessary to combat criminal activities that could threaten
Similar legislation existed in the United States, Britain, Canada and
South Africa, he said.
A nation is dying, its leader a tyrant, its neighbors indifferent
Thursday, June 14, 2007
WASHINGTON - When I talked earlier this week with David Coltart, a
Zimbabwean member of parliament and human rights lawyer, his office in
Bulawayo had been without power for five hours. The central business
district of Zimbabwe's second-largest city, he said, was "a ghost town,"
with "hardly anyone on the streets" and "signs everywhere of total economic
Michael Gerson is a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post
Four days previously the price for a liter of gasoline had been 55,000
Zimbabwean dollars; that morning gas stations were advertising 85,000
dollars. Inflation, by conservative estimates, gallops at 3,700 percent.
Perhaps 31/2 million people -- about one-fourth of the population -- have
left the country, in a massive drain of youth and ambition. "Land reform"
has been a land grab for ruling party elites, who are proving that
intimidation and brutality are powerless to make the corn grow. Orphans,
many with the signs of childhood malnutrition, have begun coming to Mr.
Coltart's parliamentary office for help.
Zimbabweans have discovered with horror that their founding father, Robert
Mugabe, is an abusive parent, as if George Washington had grown mad with
power, expropriated Monticello and given Jefferson a good, instructive
With elections for president and parliament set for next year, Mr. Mugabe
can hardly run on his record. So he has kicked off the campaign season by
attempting to destroy his opposition and rig the election in his favor. In
early March, his police crushed a protest rally and began arresting and
torturing political opponents. In response to international criticism, Mr.
Mugabe coolly replied, "We hope they have learned their lesson. If they have
not, then they will get similar treatment." Constitutional changes are
moving forward that will allow Mr. Mugabe to handpick his successor. Next
week parliament will debate measures that permit the interception of e-mails
and the suppression of democratic groups, with the excuse of fighting
Mr. Mugabe, having spent a lifetime consuming his country, now seems
determined to drink it to the dregs.
For years, nations in the region did nothing in response, and called their
silence "quiet diplomacy." More recently, those efforts have progressed from
nonexistent to inadequate. After the recent round of beatings and arrests, a
summit of the Southern African Development Community -- a 14-country
regional organization -- appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki to
mediate the political conflict in Zimbabwe. Yet the summit refused to
clearly criticize the regime's human rights violations. "We got full
backing," boasted Mr. Mugabe, "not even one criticized our actions."
South African diplomats tell American officials that there is no serious
alternative to the regime -- that the opposition is weak and divided. But
perhaps that opposition is dispirited because in March and April of this
year, 600 of its leaders were arrested or abducted, 300 hospitalized and
three killed. Any hope of "mediation" in this atmosphere is a sham. How do
you sit down at the negotiating table when one side is using a truncheon on
The precondition for mediation is an end to beatings and torture on Mr.
Mugabe's part -- and the South Africans should insist on it. They should
also start considering more muscular options if Mr. Mugabe continues on his
current path. South Africa has tremendous leverage if it chooses to use it.
A cutoff of energy, fuel and trade could end Mr. Mugabe's regime in a matter
The hesitance of many democracies to confidently promote democracy is one of
the great frustrations of recent years. The South Korean government does its
best to downplay massive human rights abuses in the North. India and Japan
do business with the brutal regime in Burma. It would be progress if South
African diplomats even raised the issue of human rights in Zimbabwe and
began showing the kind of moral clarity that once benefited their own cause.
In Zimbabwe, a collapsing economy, malnutrition, high rates of disease and a
failing health care system have produced some of the lowest life
expectancies in the world -- 34 years for women and 37 years for men.
So Mr. Mugabe, at age 83, has achieved a rare distinction in the history of
tyranny -- living twice as long as his citizens are expected to live.
According to Mr. Coltart, the most vivid image of Zimbabwe is found in the
cemeteries, which "are filled to overflowing." "There are burials at any
time of the day," he told me, "row after row of fresh dirt, with no
headstones, because the poor can't afford them ... It is the way," he said,
"that I imagine the Battle of the Somme."
That terrible battle during World War I lasted 142 days. Zimbabwe has
suffered for years -- and the burials go on.
Thu 14 Jun 2007, 5:07 GMT
THE HAGUE, June 14 (Reuters) - African nations agreed a deal on Thursday to
extend a 1989 ivory export ban for nine years to safeguard elephants after
one-off sales from stockpiles by southern African states, delegates said.
The accord, reached overnight at U.N. wildlife talks, was a compromise
between countries led by Kenya and Mali who wanted a total ban, and
Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa who favoured limited sales.
Julius Kipng'etich, head of the Kenya Wildlife Service who led the Kenyan
talks, said the deal was a "proud moment for the continent" after days of
June 14, 2007 Edition 1
The Zimbabwean government's plan to change the constitution ahead of 2008
elections undermines efforts to broker an end to political turmoil,
according to the country's main opposition leader.
President Robert Mugabe's government has proposed a bill that would pave the
way for joint presidential and parliamentary polls next year and amend the
rules for electing a new president if the post becomes vacant before an
The bill is expected to be debated in parliament next month.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
said yesterday the amendments were "pre-emptive and contemptuous" of
President Thabo Mbeki's bid to bring the MDC and the ruling Zanu-PF to the
Mbeki took on the mediation role in March at the request of the Southern
African Development Community, which met at a summit to discuss the crisis
"The message that Zanu-PF is sending out is loud and clear. It is oblivious
and blind to the SADC negotiations," Tsvangirai told journalists in Harare.
He noted that the MDC and the ruling party had not agreed on an agenda for
"It is simply not ready for genuine dialogue," he said, adding that the MDC
would continue to press for dialogue with Zanu-PF but would also look at
other options to press Mugabe's government to undertake reforms.
Part of the constitutional changes include giving powers to parliament to
choose a new president should the incumbent die, resign or be unable to
serve a full term. Currently, a vote should be held within 90 days of a
president leaving office.
Critics say the changes would allow Zanu-PF, which dominates parliament, to
pick the president.
The lower house of parliament also would be expanded to 210 members from
Tsvangirai, who was among dozens of opposition members arrested and beaten
in a violent government crackdown earlier this year, repeated calls for a
new constitution to guarantee free and fair elections next year.
He also urged SADC leaders to continue pressuring Mugabe to change his ways.
The 83-year-old leader has rejected calls for a new constitution since his
government lost a national referendum on a draft treaty in 2000.
The cost of living for an average urban family in Zimbabwe rose by 66% last
month, the country's consumer watchdog said in a report yesterday.
The following report demonstrates again the regime’s continuing denial of any culpability for the extreme hardship they inflicted upon our people during Op Murambatsvina.
Personally nothing the criminals who occupy our state say is of any importance except to illustrate their gross contempt for the truth, for our rights and for the community. Amnesty never, accountability always.
I have highlighted the Zimbabwe bits bt the whole document is interesting, not only because it demonstrates how out of sync the regime is with the rest of the world.
The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteurs on the right to food, the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, and adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and the Independent Expert on the question of human rights and extreme poverty.
In concluding remarks, Jean Ziegler, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said 12 billion people could be fed by the food production in the world today – so a child dying from hunger now was a victim of assassination and murder. On Darfur, the Council had carried out remarkable work and an agreement was achieved for a resolution on an expert group working on different ways to ensure the humanitarian situation in Darfur could be improved. Concerning Zimbabwe, he had asked to visit the country and thought that the mission was going to take place. The question of bio fuels and selling food products for bio fuels represented a danger to the right of food.
Okechukwu Ibeanu, the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, thanked all for their interventions which had convinced him that his mandate was a human rights issue and that only a rights-based approach could tackle the problem. In this regard, and in line with the recommendations in his report, this required continued recognition of the responsibilities of both State and non-state actions; careful tracking and monitoring of hot spots outlined in the text; full recognition of the need to provide information to communities that may be at risk; and other steps.
Miloon Kothari, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, said his report on his mission to Australia was based on a very wide range of sources, and he did not think that these credible organizations could be dismissed as being interest groups. He stood by his conclusion that the continuing problem of homelessness in a developed country was deplorable and needed to be credibly addressed. He welcomed the efforts of Spain to tackle corruption and to protect vulnerable groups.
Arjun Sengupta, the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, said his main motivation was that poverty had for long been recognized as a scourge to human dignity. A social consensus had to be to implement policies. Poverty existed in most developing countries and also in some developed ones. The obligation was to adopt minimum policies to fulfil basic rights. There should be mechanisms to tackle the problem. The idea was to accept the best efforts to be made to accept this human right as a binding condition.
Speaking on the four reports were Representatives of India, the Philippines, Germany on behalf of the European Union, Cuba, Canada, Indonesia, Finland, Bangladesh, Mexico, Venezuela, Switzerland, Senegal, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Chile, Nigeria, Argentina, Algeria, the Russian Federation, Morocco, Norway, Tunisia, Nicaragua, Thailand, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Uruguay, China, the African Union, Ecuador and Bolivia. The National Human Rights Commission of India also spoke.
Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also took the floor:
Food First Information And Action Network International, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples in a joint statement with Europe-Third World Centre and International League for the Rights and Liberation of peoples, International Education Development, International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Watch, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, European Union for Public Relations, Mouvement International ATD Quart Monde, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, National Association of Community Legal Centres, Colombian Commission of Jurists, and Commission to Study the Organization of Peace.
Speaking in right of reply were Japan, Zimbabwe, Angola, Australia, Algeria, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and China.
The Council today is meeting non-stop from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Immediately after the Council concluded its morning meeting, it started its midday meeting during which it will debate the situation of human rights in Belarus, Cuba and Cambodia.
Interactive Debate on Right to Food, Toxic and Dangerous Wastes, Adequate Housing and Human Rights and Extreme Poverty
SWASHPAWAN SINGH (India) said the report of the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Arjun Sengupta, provided a useful insight into the link between human rights and extreme poverty. The eradication of extreme poverty should be seen as a human right entitlement in itself, and the conditions of extreme poverty could be considered as a denial or violation of the right to development. A rights-based approach to development would not only seek development for those in need, but also placed corresponding obligations on those responsible for such development. It was clear that eradication of extreme poverty required efforts both at national and international levels.
The right to food was a basic human right. The Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, had raised an extremely important and topical issue in the form of hunger refugees. In the era of globalisation and increasing economic disparity, international migration was a natural phenomenon which needed to be addressed in a comprehensive and multi-dimensional manner. The efforts should be to turn international migration into a win-win situation for all; this could only be achieved by increased cooperation among States. While irregular migration and its negative effects needed to be mitigated, migrants should not be criminalized based solely on their migratory status.
JESUS ENRIQUE GARCIA (Philippines) said that with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, the Philippines agreed that an alarming rise in malnutrition and hunger around the world required urgent efforts from all international partners in order to ensure it was reduced. The Government of the Philippines welcomed a constructive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur. The Government had embarked on a vigorous information campaign on the necessity of breast-feeding.
With regard to the report on adequate housing, the Philippines thanked Special Rapporteur Miloon Kothari for his comprehensive report. The Philippines especially welcomed the study undertaken by the Special Rapporteur on women and housing, which gave the needed gender perspective to this right. The National Housing Agency of the Philippines had developed and put into action a plan that placed the needs and rights of the beneficiary at its core. The Philippines was glad to note that certain aspects of its recent relocation experience were embodied in the basic principles and guidelines of the report.
The Philippines wanted to thank the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Arjun Sengupta, for his report. Any conceptual determination of extreme poverty would have to be agreed on later in the process.
ANKE KONRAD (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union attached great importance to the issue of adequate housing, and valued the need to look at monitoring indicators and principles and guidelines on forced evictions. The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, was asked how the principles on forced evictions could be disseminated and applied, and what steps could be taken to this end. The European Union also asked for an update on further steps taken in relation to the Zimbabwe Government over the violation of housing rights in Zimbabwe, associated with reconstruction projects there.
The European Union welcomed the work of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, and asked if there had been new developments on the right to food in Darfur, and whether in Zimbabwe, where the poor were faced with increasing shortages, any steps were being taken to make representations to the Government of Zimbabwe facilitate provision of food to all the people of Zimbabwe.
On poverty reduction programmes, the European Union asked the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty whether concrete involvement of civil society would be taken into account in future reports, and how human rights would be mainstreamed into existing poverty reduction programmes.
JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) said the four Special Rapporteurs were to be thanked for their presentations. With regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, this report focussed on two very important thematic thrusts: children and their human right to food; and refugees fleeing from hunger. With a huge amount of human sensitivitiy, he had revealed the true day-to-day tragedy, which was ignored by the mainstream media, which preferred to focus on sensational news. The figures were however staggering - more than six million children died of hunger every year before reaching the age of five, and yet the world was richer than ever before.
Millions of human beings went to bed every night hungry, and millions of children who were malnourished were condemned to a life characterised by stunted growth and limited intellectual development. As though this were not enough, there was an approach to convert food into fuel, due to the economic line of the United States. Food was being transformed into fuel in order to make viable the irrationality of a system which aimed to preserve the advantages of the few and by attacking the environment with this aim. A mass euthanasia of the poor, especially of those in the South, which had the greatest reserve of bio-fuels, would be the result. The Special Rapporteur should pronounce himself on this issue of conversion of food to fuel, which was a sinister idea.
NADIA STUEWER (Canada) thanked all the Special Rapporteurs for their reports and especially welcomed the one on adequate housing by Miloon Kothari. The report pointed out some normative gaps. The Special Rapporteur would be undertaking a country visit to Canada in autumn of this year, which the country was looking forward to. Canada asked with regard to indicators as a practicable tool, whether there were among them were any key indicators the Special Rapporteur wanted specifically to draw attention to.
BENNY SIAHAAN (Indonesia) said figures on those suffering from hunger in the world were appalling, and urgent action was needed to preserve dignity and guarantee the right to food and development of the world's poorest and hungriest persons. Addressing the problem of violations of human rights resulting from neglect of starving populations was a crucial first step. Indonesia urged the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to make hunger relief a focus of all out international efforts, engage destination States in dialogue and renounce the fortress attitude adopted by many developed countries. Indonesia wanted information on measures deployed, including financial institutions like the World Bank and scientific agencies handling water, irrigation and climate.
Indonesia complimented the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, for his work and took note of his remarks on normative gaps, indicators and the questionnaire submitted to States. It endorsed the idea of a seminar on legal recognition of land as a human right, and safeguards for women. Addressing the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Arjun Sengupta, Indonesia noted the recurrent notions of eradication of extreme poverty and increasing human rights entitlements, a strong contention that should be broadened to reflect the methodology for incorporation into international legislation.
KATRI SILFVERBERG (Finland) said with regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, he had mentioned two important examples: the promotion of breastfeeding for infants and free nutritious school meals for school children. The positive effects of these measures were widely recognised and had life-long implications for the child. What were the trends and latest developments in this regard, and did the Special Rapporteur see progress in these fields as a reflection of a rights-based approach or rather as a public health issue.
With regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, apart from the very important work on the indicators and guidelines, which were welcomed, Finland inquired about concrete cases of forced eviction, and whether the Special Rapporteur had received any communications to address urgent or large-scale situations, how these had been solved, and how well the human rights aspect was reflected when addressing these issues. Further, were there any outstanding visits that would be particularly important to undertake from the point of view of forced evictions?
MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh) thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, for his report, which provided an agonizing picture of people suffering from the scourge of malnutrition, hunger and starvation. Bangladesh was gravely concerned that the number of people suffering from hunger was rising every year and had now reached 854 million. In a world that was richer than ever before, it was inconceivable that children, women and men continued to suffer from hunger and famine. The eradication of hunger should be the urgent priority for the international community. Hunger would also continue to force people to flee their own countries. Bangladesh fully shared with the Special Rapporteur that a programme should be launched for the 140 million children under 12 who still had no access to school. The extraterritorial obligation of all Member States to respect the right to food of all human beings, regardless of their citizenship, must be fulfilled.
Regarding the question of extreme poverty, the Independent Expert Arjun Sengupta had recalled that the international community had declared the eradication of poverty as a priority, yet it was still present. Extreme poverty was about lack of human resource capacities, among other factors. It was a deprivation of economic, social and cultural life. The Independent Expert had reflected on extreme poverty in Bangladesh. The situation in the country was well reflected in the report. The Independent Expert also commented on the level of participation of the civil society in the country. The Government of Bangladesh had undertaken many steps in this direction. The challenge was one of resources, among others. Increased financial assistance would be needed.
VICTOR GENINA (Mexico) said the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, had made a commendable contribution with his report. The methodology developed in the 2002 report on women and the right to adequate housing was an ideal practice. It focused attention on the rights of women, and developed a questionnaire stating the elements of these rights. This questionnaire focused on the relation between civil and political rights and economic and social rights in the framework of housing, land and women's heritage. This was a very useful tool for gathering data. Women suffering from disabilities were especially likely to benefit from a study of indicators. It was a key tool in surmounting poverty and offsetting gender discrimination. This study could be widely disseminated to make it more accessible. Mexico called for the gender perspective to be included in the day-to-day institution building process of the Council.
GABRIEL SALAZAR (Venezuela) said the right to food was a fundamental right, closely linked to the right to life. There should be accessibility, availability, and proper pricing. In the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, he referred to the issue of access to land. The Government of Venezuela had been implementing a range of programmes aiming at providing access to food to all citizens, in particular the most vulnerable. Food was made available at affordable prices, and there were strategic programmes to provide proper services to farmers. Around 9.5 million people had benefited from these programmes. Funds had also been set up to ensure the distribution of food.
With regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, States should give priority to land reform, with the distribution of land and wealth. Land should not be the privilege of a limited few, but should be the right of all. Large land holdings should be broken up and the lands distributed. There should be a collective and cooperative system set up in this regard.
MURIEL BERZET KOHEN (Switzerland) said Switzerland wished to address the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari. In the report on the right to food, an alarming problem was raised concerning the migration of African people towards Europe. The Special Rapporteur talked about creating new international instruments. The recognition of such a right triggered the question on how objective criteria could be established to determine when a person was under such a threat to receive asylum to escape hunger.
With regard to the report on adequate housing, the achievement of this right implied many elements. Switzerland had committed itself to the universal implementation of human rights. The right to access of property was an important component of achieving other rights, like the one of adequate housing. Switzerland raised the question on how the right of achieving property could be protected and implemented on an international level.
CHEIKH TIDIANE (Senegal) said Senegal wished to congratulate the Special Rapporteurs and the Independent Expert on their presentations. The report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, had offered an especially important contribution. Voluntary guidelines were adopted in 2002 for the progressive right to food. These were highly relevant and should be disseminated and applied to allow States and all stakeholders to be inspired by them in complementing this basic human right. Hunger and malnutrition were worsening around the world. The Special Rapporteur also tackled illegal migration and behaviour dictated by hunger. Senegal wished to underscore that this could be mitigated when dealing with clandestine migration where this was a direct consequence of fleeing from hunger. Those who took to the sea to seek their fortune paid high sums of money to the smugglers who profited from their naivety. Many abandoned stable jobs to take this risk, attracted by dreams of Eldorado. Co-development should be insisted upon, looked at from a global perspective, through joint partnerships adapted to realities.
NICHOLAS THORNE (United Kingdom) said with regards to the situation in Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom had asked the Special Rapporteurs on torture and on freedom of association to visit Zimbabwe and report back to the Human Rights Council. The Special Rapporteur on the right to food should also visit Zimbabwe, to investigate reports that the Government was denying the right to food to all citizens, and was distributing food based on political allegiance. The seriousness of the overall human rights situation in Zimbabwe clearly warranted the broadest possible coverage.
JEAN FEYDER (Luxembourg) said that with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on food, Jean Ziegler, Luxembourg associated itself with the German statement on behalf of the European Union. Luxembourg thanked the Special Rapporteur for the report on the right to food, which provided more information compared to the report in 2006. It was unacceptable that every day 25,000 children died of hunger and malnutrition. It was unaccepted that 845 million did not have enough to eat in a world that had never produced such a wealth. Hunger in the world was worsening. The Special Rapporteur was congratulated on the activities he had carried out, especially with civil society. On the issue of hunger and migration, the Special Rapporteur suggested to tackle the root cause of migration. Luxembourg asked, among other issues, whether African countries should not protect their agricultural products against food imports.
On the report on extreme poverty by Independent Expert Arjun Sengupta, three components were indicated. The objectives of the Millennium Development Goals were restricted to a purely monetary and economic definition of poverty. In his report, the Independent Expert mentioned the multidimensional character of poverty. The question was raised whether one should revise the definition of poverty, which was at the centre of the Millennium Development Goals and the international strategy of the fight against poverty.
EDUARDO CHIHUALIAF (Chile), said the Group of the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights – which was led by José Bengoa - on the principal causes of extreme poverty and human rights had been instrumental in defining poverty as central to human rights. The Human Rights Council had approved a resolution on human rights and extreme poverty in November 2006, calling for a focus among States, non-governmental organizations and international organizations on the guiding principles governing relief of extreme poverty.
Since democracy was restored in Chile, social themes such as education, health and housing had been important priorities alongside the fight against poverty. Recent figures showed that poverty in Chile had fallen between 2003 and 2006. However, there were still many in Chile living in conditions of extreme poverty and the report by the Special Rapporteur showed how important it was to tackle extreme poverty. This should be arrived at in a spirit of freedom and democracy.
OZO NWOBU (Nigeria) said with regards to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, Okechukwu Ibeanu, it was both critical and important for articulating and exposing the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, with particular focus on the implications for human rights. The nefarious activities of toxic and dangerous waste dumping were particularly heinous, among other reasons due to the severe harm they brought to bear on fragile environments and the eco-system as a whole.
This negative dimension was amplified by the exponential risks that resulted from the stockpiles of toxic products coupled with the dangerous chemicals sometimes used to destroy the products, either before or during the post-conflict era. By stockpiling toxic products and thereafter releasing them, terrestrial and marine habitats were imperilled and sometimes totally destroyed, with severe consequences for the economy and health of the surrounding population. Protracted international conflicts, by destabilising societies affected by wars, could abridge Governments and compel rogue regimes to import and utilise toxic wastes in exchange for weapons or money to buy weapons.
SERGIO CERDA (Argentina) thanked the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, for his report. The Special Rapporteur proposed to look at the deep root causes of migration and armed conflicts. Argentina also saw the roots of conflicts there. Such an investigation was necessary to have a good governance and rule of law. Regarding the report on adequate housing, the integration of women's rights was mentioned by the Special Rapporteur, Miloon Kothari. The question was raised if the Special Rapporteur considered whether this perspective could be transferred also to other Special Procedures. Regarding the report of the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty, Arjun Sengupta, Argentina agreed that the phenomenon of social exclusion had its own characteristics. It was asked how this problem could be solved?
IDRISS JAZAÏRY (Algeria) said the cycle of export subsidies from the European Union to other parts of the world put African smallholders out of work and they sought to survive by migration, though this was portrayed as though they were invaders. Industrialised countries expected the countries of origin to be responsible for controlling this phenomenon. Hunger was growing and the Food and Agriculture Organization summit of 1996 had mentioned the increase in populations and the difficulty of reducing hunger against this background. It was important to distinguish between material and immaterial poverty. The most extreme form of poverty was found in the paucity of policy among decision makers, unable to help control poverty. Poverty also represented a wealth of human potential that could be realized if it were viewed in that way.
Algeria thanked the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, adding that new approaches were introduced in Algeria to provide housing through financial assistance, a rental sale approach, and others, and the Government continued to make this issue a priority. Help for single women was available through the Family Code, and for persons with disabilities as well.
GALINA KHVAN (Russian Federation) said there was responsibility to all parties of a conflict with regards to the distribution of toxic waste. The right to adequate housing as an individual human right required further consideration. With regards to the right to food and the fleeing of migrants who were searching to escape famine, the responsibility of the Government of that particular country required further examination. With regards to the report on extreme poverty, this made vulnerable groups even more vulnerable and susceptible to violations of human rights.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco) thanked all the Special Rapporteurs and the Independent Expert for their presentations and their efforts to fulfil their mandate. With regard to the report on extreme poverty, the King of Morocco had undertaken an initiative to fight extreme poverty with respect to the Millennium Development Goals. This was being done by improving access to infrastructure and helping people who were highly vulnerable. This strategy implied a sum close to $ 1 billion, which was allocated to the 2006–2010 period from the state budget and local government as well. Efforts had been made to secure the economic, social and cultural rights of the citizens through a planning code where the focus was on major reforms of the housing situation.
As an example, amongst the major programmes already implemented, Morocco had a city without slums programme sponsored by the King for the period 2004–2010. The programme would be mobilizing $ 2.5 million. There was a guarantee fund for people with low income to access decent housing. Some 18,000 requests had already been recorded for this programme. All these measures would be increased and were seeking to achieve an important aspect of the development goals which Morocco had on the international agenda.
HELGA FASTRUP ERVIK (Norway) said the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, had touched on the needs of children. It was noted that the Special Rapporteur had established close cooperation with the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Could the Special Rapporteur give updated information on the Food and Agriculture Organization guidelines to support progressive realization of the right to food?
MOHAMED CHAGRAOUI (Tunisia) said the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, was to be congratulated for his recommendations to try to remedy this tragedy of children dying from hunger. Aware of this challenge, Tunisia had developed an approach based on food security and the need for sustainable development. This had shown a qualitative leap forward with the satisfaction of material needs and production surpluses. There was an excess of major consumer foods. This assurance of the human right to food had been due in particular to the training of those in the agricultural sector, in the vocational sector, and programmes for the dissemination of agricultural advice. There was a national observatory on agriculture which aimed to help improve agricultural policies both nationally and internationally.
ALICIA MARTIN GALLEGOS (Nicaragua) congratulated the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, for his report. It was worrying that hunger had become a threat to humanity. Hunger was something that could be avoided because the world had double the amount that would be necessary to feed everyone in the world. Efforts must be intensified to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Nicaragua was happy that Latin America was at the head of the countries that took an initiative to this end. This implied nutritional programmes and feeding programmes in primary school, among other initiatives.
The President of Nicaragua had recommended measures to fight against poverty and hunger. Nicaragua drew upon the experience of other countries, for example like Brazil and the zero-hunger programme. The main responsibility for the eradication of hunger fell on the shoulder of governments. The Council could also contribute to this objective. The Special Rapporteur was called upon to have a more global approach in his next report. The right to food could not be unlinked to global economic policies.
SIHASAK PHUANGKET KEOW (Thailand) welcomed the report of the Independent Expert on extreme poverty and human rights, Arjun Sengupta, and concurred that the issue should be viewed from both a development and a human rights perspective. It was equally important to give consideration to different circumstances in each country and refrain from a universal set of standards. Poverty represented a denial of the most basic human rights and impacted on human security. Looking at the issues of human trafficking, migrant workers, even extremism, it was clear that they had root causes in poverty. There was a shared responsibility to tackle the problem through closer cooperation. Thailand had tried to address poverty by empowering people, improving access to information, communication and capital, achieved through micro-credit and community development schemes. The eradication of poverty should be a regional and global priority, and Thailand had embarked on initiatives with neighbours and partners, especially in the context of South-South cooperation, including technical assistance and financial aid.
DONG-HEE CHANG (Republic of Korea) said with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, it was now imperative for the international community to address the issue of refugees from hunger by revisiting existing international instruments on refugee protection. It would be instrumental to make comparison research with other refugee types such as de facto refugees, economic refugees or refugees sur place, behind which was the rationale that they were not protected by the country of origin, and were thus entitled to international protection.
With regards to the report on adequate housing, fully guaranteeing the legal recognition of the right to land could be difficult to attain in reality when taking into consideration, for example, the long history of the privatisation of land. The Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing should explain his views on which country set the best example today or had done so in the past in terms of completely recognising the right to land.
CARLOS EDUARDO DA CUNHA OLIVEIRA (Brazil) congratulated the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, for his report. To put into effect the right of adequate housing was noteworthy. Brazil wanted to single out the question on women's rights with relation to adequate housing. The importance given by the Special Rapporteur to the legal framework to promote the right to adequate housing was clear. The priority given by the Brazilian Government to the housing needs of low income and disadvantaged groups was known. The Government had launched a housing programme. The social housing national fund aimed at the urbanisation of slums and would invest $ 500 million in 2007 in most needed areas.
The Brazilian strategy encompassed a range of actions. The objective of a conference taking place in November 2007 on this topic was to enlarge the political discussion and see how to reduce social disparities. The Brazilian Government had continued its fight by establishing benchmarks with regard to human rights obligations. Brazil was looking forward to the cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and would like to welcome him on a second mission to the country.
LOURDES BONE (Uruguay) said Uruguay agreed that poverty was a severe violation of human rights and eradication depended on ensuring access to resources. Development must be sustainable. Uruguay had embarked on numerous programmes to ensure this. Measures had been applied in the redistribution of wealth, overhauling the tax system to provide more tax income for health and education. There was a national emergency plan for those suffering extreme poverty (10 per cent of the population) including food coupons and community schemes.
DONG ZHIHUA (China) said the four reports were appreciated, and they had enriched the work of the Council in the protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights, and contained some useful recommendations. With regards to the right to food, the Special Rapporteur, Jean Ziegler, only mentioned a few isolated cases which gave rise to serious concerns; however, it was well known that the phenomenon of hunger was not rare in developing countries. The root cause of hunger was the issue of development. Countries should develop their domestic economy, and developed countries should use various channels to provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries in order to increase their ability to resist natural disasters and develop their economies.
With regards to the impact of armed conflicts on the exposure to dangerous and toxic materials and wastes, it was hoped the Special Rapporteur, Okechukwu Ibeanu, would continue to follow the issue of dumping by developed countries of such materials in developing countries, assessing its impact on human rights and issuing recommendations in this regard.
KHADIJA MASRI (African Union) said that with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, it dealt with an important topic that touched the very core of the enjoyment of human rights by all. It was paradoxical that while the world was getting richer by the day, poverty and hunger were rising exponentially. The statistics in Mr. Ziegler's report were also less reassuring. It was a regrettable fact that more than 90 per cent of the world's hungry lived in developing and least-developed countries. All attempts by these countries to ensure fair and equitable international trade had failed. Promises and commitments made to Africa for increased assistance and greater access to markets were yet to be realized. Under these circumstances, it was difficult to envisage a successful initiative against hunger in the region.
The situation had been exacerbated by drought and conflicts. Forced migration was also taking its toll on African food productivity as able-bodied men and women left their homes in search for greener pastures elsewhere. Much as efforts at ensuring liberalization of trade and access to markets were important, priority at this time must be given the most pressing problem at hand – combating world hunger. A concerted international action was required both to find lasting solutions to them, and to provide immediate assistance toward their amelioration. An important prerequisite to the comprehensive addressing of this problem was the establishment of conditions of peace in the regions affected by unrest and conflict.
JUAN HOLGUIN (Ecuador) said the Special Rapporteur on Toxic and Dangerous Products and Wastes, Okechukwu Ibeanu, mentioned the use of herbicides in his report. The dusting (imprecise spraying) of herbicides on coca plantations on the Colombian border destroyed the crops of Ecuadorian farmers, damaged human health, and threatened contamination of water. The Special Rapporteur's observations on this accurately reflected the situation that Ecuador faced and the delegation wished to request a halt to this crop dusting.
ANGELICA NAVARRO (Bolivia) apologized for not being able to attend yesterday's meeting to talk as a concerned country with regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, and wished to make its statement now. The Special Rapporteur had visited Bolivia in May, and had carried out a number of meetings with Representatives of the Government. He was able to observe the measures the Government was carrying out with regards to the right to food. Privatisation of water resources had given rise to an increase in the cost of water in Bolivia, causing water wars in which people had perished. On natural resources, 82 per cent of the resources had gone to private companies without having contracts ratified by the Congress. However, the situation was changing in Bolivia, as reflected in the presentation made by the Special Rapporteur.
There had been a nationalisation of resources, which had increased the income of the State, which had made it possible to create more than 600 health centres, and to implement nutritional health programmes, as mentioned by the Special Rapporteur in his report. The Ministry of Water Resources had been set up programmes to help protect the population, in particular the most vulnerable. There was also agrarian reform, making it possible to achieve objectives of development and food safety. Bolivia appealed that multilateral and bilateral commercial negotiations comply with the rights to food and to water. Bolivia extended heart-felt thanks to the Special Rapporteur and commended his report, which clearly reflected the great efforts that the country was making with regards to the right to food.
ANNA SHARMA, of National Human Rights Commission of India, said that the focus of the institution was a paradigm shift of welfare. This paradigm shift should go from welfare to a more rights approach, including a level of zero-tolerance. A large percentage of starvation and malnutrition remained and required a high level of management. A constant dialogue was also needed. Framing guidelines for internally displaced persons were needed. A meeting in September would be focusing on the right to environment. Constant interaction with the respective governments was important to have a regular feed back trough their mechanisms.
THEODOR RATHCEBO, of Food First Information and Action Network International, said the Network supported the work done under the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. It was prudent to address violations of this right. Special Rapporteur Jean Ziegler had highlighted lack of progress against hunger and malnutrition, especially among small and marginalized peasants. The Network urged the Human Rights Council to consider the issue of the rights of peasants as a vulnerable group, and to consider the issue of food safety as related to economic and social rights, and to follow developments in the field of human rights based monitoring including the development of indicators and the Food and Agriculture Organization voluntary guidelines. These should be taken into account as part of the Universal Periodic Review.
GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples in a joint statement with Europe-Third World Centre and International League for the Rights and Liberation of peoples, said in this period of intense negotiations, the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food deserved particular attention, for many reasons. Once again, he reminded all that whilst the planet could feed twice its current population, millions were going to bed hungry. This was a violation of a fundamental right, but it did not appear to move many. The report deserved particular attention as it fully played its role of prevention, stressing particular situations of concern, and gave the Council a possibility to rapidly establish its moral authority.
KAREN PARKER, of International Education Development, said that since the organization had submitted a written statement to this session about the continuing genocidal crisis in Sri Lanka addressing the mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on housing, food, extreme poverty, international solidarity and racism, the situation had further deteriorated. The Special Rapporteur on the right to food should be aware of the withdrawal plans of the World Food Programme from the Tamil areas, and the implications in relation to food security for Tamils. Blocking food and medicine was an element of the crime of extermination under the provisions of the International Criminal Court. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, should also undertake an on-site visit now on an emergency basis.
DOMIANOS SEREFEDIS, of International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, said the problem of adequate housing should be addressed from two angles: violations of the right to housing through forced evictions, and the housing of populations who find refuge in neighbouring countries because of direct or indirect forced evictions. The situation of Iraq's Assyrian minority was an example of the combination of the two situations. They had been forced to abandon their homeland and flee because of the fragile situation. Strong geo strategic interests in the area had limited the elaboration of frameworks towards harmonious ethnocultural coexistence. The housing of Assyrian refugees in Jordan and Syria, facing high rents, inadequate and substandard housing, showed that in conflict situations there might be multiple violations of the rights to housing.
SEBASTIAN GILLIOZ, of Human Rights Watch, said there was particular concern with regards to the situation concerning the right to adequate housing in Angola, where there had been 18 mass evictions carried out by the Government between 2002 and 2006 in the capital Luanda, evicting an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in violation of national and international law. Angola had been elected as a new member of the Council, and as such it should fulfil its obligations under international human rights law regarding the right to adequate housing as well as its commitments as a member of the Council.
TOBY FRANKENSTEIN, of United Nations Watch, commended the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, for his report. The weekend's events were a tragic reminder of it. The incident of Libyan migrants underscored the violation by Libya of the right to migration of people suffering from hunger. Between 2003 and 2005, more than a 140,000 people were forced to return to their home countries. The Special Rapporteur was asked about his plans to talk with the Libyan Government to address the needs of the hunger migrants.
JULIA FEDERICO, of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, said the illicit dumping of toxic material in the context of armed conflict nearly always began in what was regarded as legitimate business. The cycle of military protection created a toxic legacy, impacting on the environment, and the rights to health and food. Nuclear weapons impacted mostly on the human rights of those in proximity to nuclear plants, notably indigenous peoples. Those who lived near weapons facilities had a right to health at all times, and a right to know the risks they were exposed to. Depleted uranium was a toxic weapon, illegal under existing standards, and States should immediately stop developing, trading and using these weapons.
NAZIMA MUNSHI, of European Union for Public Relations, said with regards to the question of involvement of children in armed conflicts, there was one aspect regarding their role that should be highlighted. There were countries where the educational system itself bred child warriors, for example Pakistan, where the madrassa culture flourished, and reports about the conditions in the madrassas suggested that the curriculum in these institutions focused on teaching young children the virtue of armed jihad against so-called non-believers. The shaping of impressionable minds to undertake militant activity had been part of the curriculum of these madrassas. The Council should commission a study to analyse what percentage of those graduating from these madrassas ended up being killed in armed conflicts.
XAVIER VERZAT, of Mouvement International ATD Quart Monde, thanked the Special Rapporteurs and Independent Expert for their reports but wanted to focus on the report of the Independent Expert on human rights and extreme poverty. The proceedings would be important when it came to achieving the goals. The report converged with the report of the Secretary-General in 2006 on the eradication of poverty. The poorest people of a society had to be identified since their voice was hardly heard. The organization thanked the countries that provided interesting comments on the report. It was asked what the key points were concerning the guideline elaborated by the Commission on which consultations were on the way, to see that the eradication of poverty could be part of international law.
CLAUDE CAHN, of Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, said the visit to Australia by the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, and his recommendations on a national housing policy, were welcome. In Greece, a hundred Romany families had been evicted in 2006 without proper legal procedure. In the Philippines, more than 145,000 people had been evicted during the building of a national railway system, and access to services and livelihoods were unsatisfactory. In China, displacement in preparation for the 2008 Olympics had been documented. Victims of displacement and their legal counsels were intimidated and harassed. In the United Kingdom, large-scale displacement was anticipated in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. Further concerns were expressed over Zimbabwe's mass eviction campaigns in 2005. A proposal by the African Group on "codes of conduct" could hinder the mandate holders in pursuing their work, shackling the Special Procedures under a series of formalities.
ABDULHADI AL-KHAWAJA, of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said in Bahrain, more than half the people lacked adequate housing, due to corruption and unfair distribution of land. Migrant workers suffered more than others. The housing issue remained a main problem in the country, despite the boom and rise in national income due to oil revenues. Some applicants for housing had been waiting as long as 12 years, and there were thousands of families that could not apply for social housing as they did not have fixed incomes. The shortage of lands was a main obstacle to housing projects, as 90 per cent of Bahraini lands were privately owned. The problem of transparency and engagement of civil society remained as a main concern, resulting in misleading information, even in United Nations reports.
KRISTEN HILTON, of National Association of Community Legal Centres, said that the Association was an Australian legal service that provided freedom of opinion and expression advocacy for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The Australian Government recently announced a budget surplus of $ 10.6 billion. It was unacceptable, that given the country's wealth and its formal commitment to the right to adequate housing, that there were still over 100,000 people that experienced homelessness on any given night. The Australian Government was called upon to establish a national ministry dedicated to housing and homelessness which worked collaboratively with civil society to devise and implement a national affordable housing plan informed by human rights principles, among other initiatives. The visit of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing had been critical in exposing the failure of the Australian Government to meet its human rights obligations.
GUSTAVO GALLON, of Colombian Commission of Jurists, agreed with the premise that adequate housing and rights to land were essential to the human rights of vulnerable populations, and especially women. Colombia faced poor standards of food security, housing and health, and 80 per cent faced indigence. The Government had failed to adopt measures to alleviate the problem of internal displacement. Victims of forced displacement lacked guarantees to enforce return of homes and land sequestered by paramilitary groups. The Colombian Commission of Jurists invited the Special Rapporteur to look at the situation of displaced people and consider a mission to Colombia.
SARA PAPAJEWSKI, of Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, said the majority of the population of Pakistan lived in slums, and Government policies did not address this crucial aspect. Poor people lived in conditions which any civilised society would find abhorrent and repulsive. They not only had no access to shelter, but no access to safe drinking water and medical facilities. The military dictatorship was primarily responsible for the dismal state of affairs, diverting funds meant for the poor towards enriching itself. Even donations given by international aid agencies were being diverted to buy arms and support for the dictatorial regime. The Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing should take steps towards ensuring adequate funds for the development activities, and the Council should ensure that funds meant for the poor actually reached the intended beneficiaries.
JEAN ZIEGLER, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said that he apologized not to answer each question in detail due to time constraints. It was true that the combat against hunger launched in South America in 2005 had become continent-wide. This initiative should be welcomed as well as the fact that it had spread internationally. The campaign of zero-hunger was at the forefront of implementing measures to fight hunger. Twelve billion people could be fed by the food production today – so a child dying from hunger now was the victim of assassination or murder. The Supreme Court in India was exemplary and should be a model for the whole world.
Mr. Ziegler said Germany on behalf of the European Union raised the questions on Darfur and Zimbabwe. On Darfur, the Council had carried out remarkable work. An agreement was achieved for a resolution on an expert group working on different ways to ensure the humanitarian situation in Darfur could be improved. Diplomatic success could be seen here; it gave a glimmer of hope to Darfur. The Special Rapporteur also wanted to thank Bernard Kouschner with regard to the refugee camps in Chad. The international community was divided on the initiatives in Darfur. Concerning the question on Zimbabwe, the Special Rapporteur had asked to visit the country. He thought that the mission was going to take place. The urgent appeal to Zimbabwe was listed among the other urgent appeals in the annexes. The question of bio fuels and selling food products for bio fuels represented a danger to the right to food.
Concerning the question from Switzerland asking about how a person could be determined as being a hunger migrant, indicators existed defining the regions where the population's survival was in danger, Mr. Ziegler said. Concerning the breast-feeding combat, multinational companies like Nestle were not respecting the international recommendations from the World Health Organization. It was urgent to tackle the tragedy that was currently taking place in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Famine refugees must receive the human rights of non-refoulement from the European countries.
OKECHUKWU IBEANU, Special Rapporteur on Toxic and Dangerous Products and Wastes, thanked all for their interventions which had convinced him that his mandate was a human rights issue and that only a rights-based approach could tackle the problem. In this regard, and in line with the recommendations in his report, this required continued recognition of the responsibilities of both State and non-state actions. It also called for careful tracking and monitoring of hot spots outlined in the text. It called for a full recognition of the need to provide information to communities that may be at risk, and the need for continued clean up in situations in which toxic and dangerous materials may have been used in situations of war. It also called for adequate assistance to States which were not in a position to deal with such situations and to help victims. He welcomed a call to develop a framework of guidelines to monitor the impact on human rights of toxic and dangerous products and wastes, particularly in countries that were undergoing rapid socio-economic transformation and political instability.
MILOON KOTHARI, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, said with regards to the intervention by the Ambassador of Australia, the report was based on a very wide range of sources, and he did not think that these credible organizations could be dismissed as being interest groups. A large part of the work done by civil society in Australia was to cover the gap with regards to the homeless. He looked forward to continuing to work with the Government of Australia, but stood by his conclusion that the continuing problem of homelessness in a developed country was deplorable and needed to be credibly addressed.
Mr. Kothari welcomed the efforts of the Government of Spain to tackle corruption and to protect vulnerable groups. His next report would focus on the implementation of the right, and the mission would have adequate time to contribute to the report. A number of interventions had been made with regards to Zimbabwe, where he was following the situation closely. He had made a request to visit the country two years ago, and had repeated the request. He hoped that the Government would agree to this. He was also aware of the situation in Angola.
The reaction of delegations with regards to the guidelines on forced evictions was appreciated. They aimed to minimise impact on the evicted, and were already in use by civil society organizations. It was hoped they would be integrated into national legislation and policies and adopted at a national level. There had been a number of communications on urgent situations of forced evictions. The Special Rapporteur was in the process of compiling a study on women and housing, and considered the issue of land and property rights were very important for women, and the Council could consider institutionalising the issue as it was linked to others such as women's right to health. The right to housing could not be effectively realised without strategies for the legal recognition of land, he concluded.
ARJUN SENGUPTA, Independent Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, said that he was grateful for the discussion. He wanted to concentrate on a few issues to clarify his approach. The main motivation was that poverty had for long been recognized as a scourge to human dignity. A social consensus had to be to implement policies. Poverty existed in most developing countries and also in some developed ones. The international consensus on multinational poverty was mentioned. It was important to accept the notion that extreme poverty was a denial of human rights.
The obligation was to adopt minimum policies to fulfil basic rights, Mr. Sengupta said. The debate on whether extreme poverty was an issue of society should take the direction of accepting extreme poverty as a norm. It was a matter of social contract. The world should accept the eradication of poverty as a universal obligation. A human rights obligation had to be binding. The non-performance of the duty should be regarded as a violation of human rights. There could be mechanisms to tackle the problem.
This was particularly relevant to the international community, the Independent Expert said. The idea was to accept the best efforts to be made to accept this human right as a binding condition. Bangladesh, Brazil and India had gone a long way in this regard. Concerning the German question, the issues would be more elaborated in the next report. The guidelines should be accepted as binding international obligations.
Right of Reply
ICHIRO FUJISAKI (Japan), speaking in a right of reply, said that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had made yesterday a totally unfounded statement. Japan was determined to combat racial discrimination and hoped the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would stop making false arguments.
ENOS MAFEMBA (Zimbabwe), speaking in a right of reply, said Zimbabwe had a strategy with regards to land and housing, and it had been a great success. Some of the so-called victims had been resettled in farms. If it were not for the sanctions, the success of this strategy would have been great. Zimbabwe would never politicise food - what it had politicised was the declaring of land. Those who pointed fingers at Zimbabwe were known, as were their records. The British would never get it right in Zimbabwe - their foreign policy blundered all the time. Zimbabwe was not for re-colonisation. Britain should look at its record today, in particular with regards to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment in Basra.
JOSE MARIA CAPON DUARTE E SILVA (Angola), speaking in a right of reply, said Angola noted with concern the allegations on the so–called expulsions in Luanda. Angola was emerging from a lengthy war and was still in a state of reconstruction. The Government was making considerable efforts to improve the living conditions of the population and to set up several social housing programmes to meet demand. Angola felt the Special Rapporteur did not base his report on credible sources. In the Government programme, housing for displaced persons was a priority and the country was prepared for constructive cooperation with UN representatives. Regrettably there were some who felt that Africans should not benefit from modern construction.
CAROLINE MILLAR (Australia), speaking in a right of reply, said with regards to the comments made by Zimbabwe on 11 June that Australia should contribute funds to the development of human rights in that country, Australia remained committed to helping the ordinary people through human rights oriented policies that had a direct impact on the people on the ground. It did so through channels which ensured that the funds would arrive at their destination. The Government of Australia expected to commit further funds in the future, including to promote democracy, media freedom, civil society organizations and human rights, as well as to food security.
IDRISS JAZAIRY (Algeria), speaking in a right of reply, said Algeria was puzzled to hear a Western based non-governmental organization demonising the code of conduct proposal presented by Algeria on behalf of the African Group, which was not, as incorrectly stated, an Algerian proposal. It was a cliché to say that the measures proposed were aimed at undermining the independence of the mandate holders. It was normal practice to suggest that work within the UN system should abide by UN rules, for efficiency and responsiveness. There should not be any attempt to establish a parallel system.
CHHEANG VUN (Cambodia), speaking in a right of reply, said that Cambodia categorically rejected the lying and politically-motivated account of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and asked for its correction. The Special Rapporteur had the intention of giving false information to the Council. The unhealthy speech of the Special Rapporteur could encourage and incite racial violence between the Cambodian population and the Vietnamese minority of a certain area of the royal capital. The report should be corrected and the Special Rapporteur apologise for his unacceptable mistake.
CHOE MYONG NAM (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), speaking in a right of reply, rejected again the allegations of Japan. It was well known that measures existed to discriminate against Korean nationals in many walks of life in Japan. The arguments referred to by Japan could be construed as nothing more than an excuse to get rid of criticism of human rights violations committed by Japan. Japan should immediately end all violations against Korean nationals in Japan.
LA YIFAN (China), speaking in a right of reply, said the statement of a non-governmental organization with regards to the Beijing Games was totally groundless. The reallocation of the Olympic sites affected nine projects and 6,037 households which had been removed. Inhabitants had received financial compensation and had been resettled, with the improvement of their living conditions. Their right to judicial remedies and aid had been fully respected and protected. The allegation that so-called victims of the relocation and their lawyers had been harassed was totally unfounded.
ENOS MAFEMBA (Zimbabwe), speaking in a second right of reply, thanked the delegate from Australia for information on aid for Zimbabwe, but the money given was being given to effect regime change. Prime Minister Howard himself had said $ 18 million had been committed to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
For use of the information media; not an official record
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
ZANU PF bigwig implicated
A GROUP of former military officials has been arrested for allegedly
plotting a coup to oust President Robert Mugabe from power in a closely
guarded development that could embroil an unnamed senior ZANU PF official
who is said to be the mastermind of the failed rebellion.
The group's defence counsel, Charles Warara, of Warara and Associates,
confirmed in an interview with The Financial Gazette yesterday that he was
representing the alleged plotters although he could not say how many they
"Yes, we can confirm that we are handling that matter," said Warara. "We are
making every effort to secure their freedom," he added.
In a sensational case shrouded in secrecy, the alleged coup plotters have
appeared in court twice and have been denied bail on each occasion.
Their legal counsel revealed yesterday that they have denied planning to
overthrow the government, saying they only intended to form a political
party that would take power through the ballot.
The court hearings are being held in camera.
Warara said he was in the process of investigating claims by his clients
that they had been tortured in police cells.
"We are trying to verify these claims that they have made in court. As you
know, it may either be true or not. We are in the process of trying to
protect their interests," Warara said.
When asked if the accused persons were soldiers, as widely speculated,
Warara said: "No, but some of them have a background in the army." He
declined to comment further.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa said he was not aware of the alleged
plot when contacted for comment yesterday, referring questions to Defence
Minister Sidney Sekeramayi, who was said to be out of the country.
Godwin Matanga, the deputy police commissioner, also professed ignorance of
the alleged conspiracy. He said he has been out of the office for the whole
The Financial Gazette could not confirm speculation that a number of serving
officers had also been arrested in connection with the alleged coup plot.
Names of the plotters and the ZANU PF bigwig who is supposed to have
recruited them are being withheld for security reasons, the lawyer said.
The suspected coup plotters are said to be detained at Chikurubi Maximum
Security Prison, where they have been denied visits by their families.
"We have turned away their families. Security has also been beefed up with
some members from the army and the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation),"
a prison guard, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday.
The inclusion of a ruling party heavyweight among the suspects tends to
confirm speculation that the alleged conspiracy is one of the intrigues
surrounding the ZANU PF succession race.
The alleged involvement of the senior ZANU PF official in the plot could be
an indication of how nasty the factional fights in the ruling party have
Last week, The Financial Gazette quoted a South African Foreign Affairs
Ministry report, which said a bitter tussle for power within ZANU PF posed a
threat to a bid by the Southern African Development Community to bring the
ruling party and the opposition to the negotiating table.
The report, tabled before the foreign affairs committee of the South African
parliament, suggested that the divisions had hamstrung ZANU PF from agreeing
on major policy issues.
"The ongoing infighting within ZANU PF, if not contained, would pose
challenges for mediation efforts . . . Energy within the party would be
consumed in efforts to come out on top in the succession battle," part of
the SA document reads.
"In the absence of party unity, it might be hard for the mediator to extract
firm commitments from the (ruling) party during the dialogue process," the
report said in reference to President Thabo Mbeki.
ZANU PF's own security department conceded in a report to the party's
conference last year that figures involved in the infighting "have largely
remained inactive, but continue to instigate counter productive activities,
which are motivated by their selfish and leadership ambitions."
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
SPECULATION was rife yesterday that Attorney General (A-G) Sobusa
Gula-Ndebele could be throwing in the towel because of differences with
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is reportedly preparing new
legislation designed to give him direct control of government's legal
Sources in the A-G's office said Gula-Ndebele, who did not return calls from
The Financial Gazette, informed senior officers who work under him on Monday
that he was going on leave with effect from yesterday (Wednesday) until July
Since his appointment in 2004, Gula-Ndebele has clashed repeatedly with
Legal sources also say the government and the police have clashed with
Gula-Ndebele over his handling of cases involving opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and other civic society leaders viewed as enemies of
The state recently dropped charges against 18 opposition supporters and
officials accused of petrol bombing police stations and other public
To deal with what government regards as loopholes in the prosecution of such
suspects, plans are afoot to introduce new legislation to combine the post
of the attorney-general and that of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Such legislation would also introduce the new post of prosecutor-general, a
position sources say Gula-Ndebele would find hard to accept, as he believes
it would be tantamount to a demotion.
"The draft bill has been prepared. It could be gazetted this Friday, or in
the next few weeks. It is unlikely the A-G is going to accept that," said a
source privy to the developments, speaking strictly on condition of
Clashes between Chinamasa and Gula-Ndebele have reportedly delayed the
tabling in parliament of the Attorney General Bill, which sought to give the
A-G's office greater independence from the minister.
A number of names are already being bandied about as Gula-Ndebele's possible
replacements, in the event that he turns down the proposed post of
Among those being cited as possible candidates are Johannes Tomana, who has
represented the government in a number of cases and Gerald Mlotshwa, a young
but sharp legal mind who has previously represented State Security Minister
In addition to clashes with government authorities, prosecutors in the A-G's
office have allegedly complained about Gula-Ndebele's leadership style and
the packing of the law department and the administration wing of his office
with personnel with a military background.
Gula-Ndebele is a war veteran and a former military man. He introduced a
controversial policy last year to send prosecutors to the Zimbabwe Staff
Chinamasa did not return calls when The Financial Gazette phoned to seek
clarification over Gula-Ndebele's fate.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
SOUTH Africa's Metallon Corporation, whose key assets are domiciled in
Zimbabwe, postponed a planned London listing last month because of
operational problems and power outages experienced at its local gold mines,
international media reports indicated yesterday.
Metallon had planned listing in London since 2004 but had failed do so after
encountering several obstacles, among them a lawsuit by local partners it
ditched in the process of a transaction to acquire its gold mining assets in
Zimbabwe from Lonmin.
The local partner, Stanmarker, owned by businessman Lloyd Hove, had been
awarded damages amounting to US$7,5 million plus interest by the High Court
for alleged breach of contract by Metallon but the South African company won
an appeal in the Supreme Court, which dismissed the award by the lower court
A preferred empowerment partner Metallon had chosen after buying local
mining assets, Manyame Consortium, was ditched after alleged failure to
raise cash for a 30 percent stake in the company.
The Manyame Consortium comprised of businessmen John Mkushi, Albert Nhau and
Mthuli Ncube who fled the country at the height of a banking crisis in 2004
and settled in South Africa where he is the director of the Wits Business
"We haven't done anything on the IPO (Initial Public Offer) at all.
We're standing by, waiting
for consistent, sustainable production and foreign exchange supplies,"
Bloomberg quoted Mark Wellesley-Wood, Metallon's chief executive officer,
Metallon Zimbabwe is the biggest gold producer in the country in terms of
Its five mines - How, Redwing, Shamva, Arcturus and Mazowe have a combined
output of at least 180 000 ounces of gold annually.
Wellesley-Wood, currently driving the group's ambitious listing plans, said
output was likely to slump to 100 000 ounces of gold for the year to
September, from 140 000 ounces achieved during the prior year.
A listing in London, through an IPO, is earmarked to raise cash to repair
and expand production to 200 000 ounces a year at the Zimbabwean mines.
Vancouver-based Canaccord Capital, a London-based law firm Norton Rose and
public relations firm Brunswick Group, are advising Metallon on the planned
The company's gold mines should ideally yield 175 000 ounces a year,
Zimbabwe's mining operations are grappling with an acute foreign currency
crisis and delayed payments for gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and
Refineries, a central bank subsidiary with the exclusive right to mined gold
in the country.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
THE state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has run out of wheat, prompting
fears of a crippling bread shortage.
Milling industry sources told The Financial Gazette this week that the grain
monopoly had failed to pay for two wheat consignments of which one had
docked in Beira, Mozambique and the other in South Africa.
The size of the consignments could not be immediately established.
However, industry officials say part of the wheat is stuck at the Mozambican
port of Beira because the state granary is yet to secure the foreign
currency needed to pay for the consignment.
Millers, who are now charging between $7,5 million and $9 million per tonne
of flour, have now been forced to shut down their milling plants.
"We have not received any allocations this week. Last week, our allocations
were halved. But this week, nothing has come through at all," said one
miller who refused to be identified as he is not authorised to speak on
behalf of the Millers Association of Zimbabwe.
GMB acting chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti was adamant yesterday that
all financial obligations had now been honoured.
"We sent our inspectors to check on the wheat stocks and they have already
come back. We should expect it (wheat) anytime from now," Muvuti said.
But bakers warned of a bread shortage because of worsening problems relating
to flour supplies.
Bakers that were still manufacturing bread using imported flour this week
increased the retail price of a loaf to between $24 000 and $30 000, from
about $15 000 last week.
The informal de-regulation of the price of bread, has helped improve the
quality of bread, its packaging and scaling, which had declined from the
required 700grams to 400grams per standard loaf.
It has also killed off the trading of bread on the parallel market, which
had triggered health concerns while fuelling prices beyond the reach of
"Millers have indicated to us that flour supplies could be compromised
because of the wheat shortages," said one baker.
Zimbabwe, which has battled severe food shortages over the past seven years,
has been importing wheat from countries such as Argentina and South Africa
since late last year following poor yields in the previous farming season.
But the foreign currency crunch is limiting the country's ability to import
enough grain to meet demand. Zimbabwe needs more than 350 000 tonnes of
wheat for national consumption per year.
David Govere, the chief executive officer of Harambe Holdings, which owns
baking subsidiary Superbake, said GMB had reduced wheat allocations to the
milling industry from 6 000 tonnes to 3 000 tonnes per week before running
out of stocks.
He said the quickest way to resolve the crisis would be to arrange for
payment of the wheat held in bond at National Foods and then pay for one of
the external consignments.
"What is even more worrying is that the winter wheat forecasts now need to
be revised downwards because of the ZESA electricity power cuts, which have
made it difficult for the farmer to irrigate the crop," said Govere. "Those
that installed generators are finding it hard to source the fuel to do
irrigation continuously. Developments in wheat and maize seem to suggest
that this year will be the most trying year since independence in terms of
food security putting more pressure on the already rapidly devaluing
currency," he added.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
CIVIC society groups, eager to play a role in the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) effort to break Zimbabwe's political impasse,
have set up a committee of seven organisations to engage South African
President Thabo Mbeki over the regional dialogue.
SADC appointed Mbeki in March to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis. To date,
Mbeki has held closed-door discussions with representatives of the ruling
ZANU PF and both factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
Civic society organisations are now pressing for a role in the process.
At a meeting on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) was
asked to chair the committee, which has been tasked to arrange a meeting
Other groups included in the proposed drive are Save Zimbabwe, the Centre
for Peace Initiatives in Africa (CPIA), the Ecumenical Peace Initiative
(EPI), the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), and the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO).
"The committee will report to civil society from time to time. Most
organisations that sent representatives to the meeting stressed that while
they agreed to participate in the dialogue process, they would not stop
other programmes to open up democratic space, as the government of Zimbabwe
was not showing any sign of willingness to open up democratic space in
Zimbabwe," the organisations said in a joint statement to The Financial
The planning meeting was attended by representatives from Bulawayo Agenda,
CPIA, the National Constitutional Assembly, Crisis Coalition, ZESN, NGO
Human Rights Forum, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Media Institute of
Southern Africa, Zimbabwe National Students Union, the Catholic Commission
for Justice and Peace and NANGO.
"The civil society paper shall be presented in due course before President
Mbeki's preliminary report to SADC heads of states," reads part of the civic
Mbeki, who was mandated by SADC to engage ZANU PF and MDC on the nagging
crisis in Zimbabwe, appointed a mediation team led by Sydney Mufumadi, South
Africa's housing minister.
Frank Chikane, director-general in the Presidency, deputy foreign affairs
minister Aziz Pahad, and legal advisor Mojanku Gumbi make up the team.
President Robert Mugabe has in turn appointed Justice and Parliamentary
Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, Minister of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare, to be his point men.
Mbeki has indicated that progress will have been made in the mediation
effort by the end of this month.
Critics' are, however, sceptical after ZANU PF snubbed a scheduled meeting
in Pretoria last month without giving any explanation.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
HOME Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi does not have the right to issue orders
to the courts directing them to deny suspects bail, a High Court judge has
The judgment, issued by Justice Anne-Marie Gowora, deals a blow to a series
of cases in which police have relied on certificates issued by the Ministry
of Home Affairs to bolster allegations against opposition members accused of
perpetrating petrol bombings that hit the country in March and April. The
certificates order the courts to deny particular suspects bail.
In a ruling granting bail to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) member
Ishmael Kauzeni on Monday, Justice Gowora said that although the statutory
provisions empowering Mohadi to issue certificates came into force in 1996,
they had never been ruled on by the courts.
"In casu, the statutory provision under, which the certificate was issued
does not give the Minister authority to issue a certificate requiring that
bail be denied. All it provides for is for the Minister to certify that it
is his intention to charge the accused person with an offence specified in
the third schedule of the Act," the judge observed.
Justice Gowora criticised the issuance of certificates by Mohadi directing
that accused persons be denied bail without first affording them a chance to
"The certificate would affect a suspect's personal liberty and constitutes a
most serious and fundamental inroad into his rights and the right to
personal liberty. Consequently, it is fair and just that he be heard before
a document that has the effect of depriving him of such liberty is issued."
Alec Muchadehama represented Kauzeni, while Tawanda Zvekare represented the
Justice Gowora's ruling came as the government's claims that the MDC was
involved in terrorist activities fell flat after terrorism charges against
18 out of 32 party members were withdrawn. The fate of the remaining 14 will
be decided tomorrow.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
BUBYE Minerals has lodged a High Court application claiming that retired
army general Solomon Mujuru and former High Court judge George Smith are
manipulating the judiciary system to win control of River Ranch diamond
In papers filed on Monday, Bubye also claims that the Master of the High
Court, Charles Nyatanga, was the point man in the alleged plot.
Bubye's claims are only the latest twist in a long running legal battle
between itself and River Ranch Limited, a company in which Mujuru is a
shareholder and to which Smith is legal advisor.
River Ranch Limited is yet to file opposing papers, but has previously
denied any wrongdoing.
In an affidavit, Bubye director Adele Farquhar says the way River Ranch
Limited associated with Nyatanga had amounted to "naked corruption."
Bubye's latest court application was filed on the same day that Farquhar,
her husband and fellow director Michael, appeared in court in a criminal
trial for allegedly stripping River Ranch assets, a charge they deny.
In their defence outline, the couple insisted they have rightful title to
the mine, charging River Ranch Limited seized the mine from them at
Court papers show that the latest application was triggered by a letter
dated May 24, signed by Nyatanga and addressed to Bubye Minerals, saying the
latter's Supreme Court appeal on the mine's ownership had lapsed as they had
failed to inspect a record of proceedings in the lower court.
Nyatanga's letter was written after High Court judge president Rita Makarau
had quashed an earlier attempt by a High Court clerk to declare the appeal
as having lapsed.
"The Fifth Respondent (River Ranch Limited), which is the alter ego of a
Saudi millionaire, Mr Adel (Abdulrahman al) Aujan, Retired General Solomon
Mujuru, ZANU PF central committee member Mr Tirivanhu Mudariki and, at one
time, Advocate Adrian de Bourbon, passed a resolution on 26 April 2004, to
seize the mine from the applicant. This was subsequently done at gunpoint,"
part of the affidavit reads.
"The letter of Mr Nyatanga dated 24 May 2007 gives the impression that he is
not bound by the directions of this court, but in fact that the judges are
subordinate to him. He is comforted in this stance by his close association
to a former judge of the High Court and the spouse of the Vice President of
The Farquhars added that Mujuru and Mudariki were using their political
influence to ensure Bubye's claim to the mine disappears.
Bubye claims that the prosecution was aimed at exhausting them "financially
and emotionally" in the hope that they would abandon their bid to reclaim
"The manipulation does not end there. One month ago, the first respondent
(Nyatanga) acting at the behest of (River Ranch Limited), fast-tracked a
criminal prosecution against my husband and myself. (Nyatanga's) staff have
confirmed the frequent caucusing that takes place between Mr L G Smith and
Mr Nyatanga over this matter, including writing the letters that are
patently illegal," she stated in the affidavit.
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
MOST local authorities in Zimbabwe are headed for collapse and will continue
to depend on credit from central government to finance basic operations,
says the head of one of the last urban centres still being run efficiently.
Alois Chaimiti, executive mayor of Masvingo, told The Financial Gazette in
an interview that development of new infrastructure and improvement of
existing networks has stagnated due to a worsening lack of funding.
Chaimiti said given the prevailing situation where the Zimbabwe National
Water Authority, was in the process of taking over water provision to
residents in all towns and cities, local authorities were facing serious
financial constraints that disabled their operations.
Chaimiti said since independence, municipalities had been sustained by
revenue from water and sewerage tariffs.
"Now that government has embarked on a plan to take over water provision, it
means that local authorities have to find other means of survival and, in
this current situation, there are no other feasible means except for them to
be allowed to retain water and sewerage reticulation services," Chaimiti
He said given the current economic crisis, the only route to survival for
the local authorities was to borrow from a dwindled national fiscus.
The state of the economy, he said, makes it difficult for the government to
make municipal funding a priority.
"I am afraid that most of our members (local authorities) could find
themselves in the most difficult of circumstances, which may, in the long
run, affect their operations because they may not be able to find anyone who
can guarantee them funding.
"It becomes tricky when the local authorities try to pass on the cost to the
ratepayers, because residents will also resist the burden that we will be
placing on them. So it has become a complex situation."
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
SHE spent three days in a filthy Harare Central Police Station cell, but she
has no qualms about continuing her risky trade.
Talitha is a foreign currency trader who regards the activity as her
full-time occupation and does not mind living with the constant threat of
But after spending a year on the streets of Harare exchanging currency, she
was arrested for
the first time along
with hundreds of other foreign currency dealers during a police raid last
The traders have taken over parts of Harare's central business district,
cashing in on chronic foreign currency shortages on the official market.
Critics blame the government for running down the country's economy,
destroying the real sector in the process, which is supposed to generate the
The police have responded by arresting foreign currency dealers
but that has done little
to scare off traders.
Although Talitha has spent three nights in a crowded and squalid police
cell, she has vowed to return to the streets.
"I will not abandon the trade just because of the police. Where there is a
high risk, there are high returns," said Talitha as she made her way to
Ximex Mall in her sleek new car.
She spends the better part of her day buying and selling foreign currency at
the mall, which is ironically adjacent to a money transfer agency.
The dealers are making millions of dollars in
a single day from the margins creamed in United States dollars, Botswana
Pulas and South African rands.
"It's hard for me to think of a day when I will prepare a curriculum vitae
and apply for a formal job. I can't think of a better paying job," Talitha
Looks can be deceiving and at first glance she looks innocent, but she is a
hardcore, streetwise dealer who knows no other profession. She has never
held any other job.
She is so used to the informal language spoken in her line of business that
she now seems to struggle with "proper" Shona.
"I use slang because that's the only language that I am comfortable with.
Those I deal with understand it. The good thing is that if there are any
police officers on patrol they cannot understand some of the things we will
be saying," said Talitha.
As I interviewed her, I was exposed to a strange form of communication among
foreign currency traders.
They have unique ways of sending different messages; such as alerting each
other about the presence of the police or giving information about
fluctuations in exchange rates.
The traders raised their fingers in the air in a certain way to convey the
But how do the dealers come up with an exchange rate?
"It's easy, anyone can set the exchange rate. Usually desperate people who
are prepared to buy at a higher rate set the rate. But basically anyone with
loads of Zimbabwean dollars can determine the exchange rate," said Talitha.
"It is now also an unwritten rule that rates have to go up everyday, so if
we end the day on US$1 to $80 000, it means that the following morning it
has to go up. As long as the Zimbabwe dollar is in abundance on the market
the rates will continue going up."
At Fourth Street bus terminus, flashy cars are a common sight. They come in
different shapes and colours. Although there is always a heavy police
presence, foreign currency traders are unfazed.
They are extending their tentacles to the Avenues area, beyond their
traditional Samora Machel Avenue "boundary" at the Holiday Inn Hotel.
They have cheekily suggested that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon
Gono should seek their advice on monetary policy.
"When Gideon Gono makes his monetary policy at the glass building, he should
also come and address us here, where the real rates are set," said a trader
identified as Nigel Rand.
Despite her arrest last week, Talitha said she did not forfeit anything to
the police. She, however, paid a $2 500 fine and suffered a loss of dignity.
The police raid on hundreds of traders has not affected black market
exchange rates, which continue to soar.
By the end of the day last Saturday, when the police clampdown took place,
the exchange rate against the South African rand was R1: $9 500. By Monday,
when the dealers were released, it had shot up to $10 000.
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
KIDNAP allegations against Fortune Charumbira, head of the Zimbabwe Council
of Chiefs, have once again exposed ZANU PF's factional fights in Masvingo,
with the ruling party provincial leadership accusing the traditional leader
of trying to cover up his alleged misdeeds by claiming that his political
rivals are plotting against him.
Police in Masvingo are investigating charges that Charumbira was behind the
kidnapping and assaulting of village headman Boniface Manzungu, after he
reportedly denied water to illegal settlers at the Mushandike irrigation
Charumbira says the charges are part of a plot against him by members of the
ZANU PF Masvingo provincial executive.
However, the ruling party's Masvingo provincial spokesperson, Kudzai Mbudzi,
has hit back, saying Charumbira should draw a distinction between criminal
and political matters.
"I am not sure of the politics, which the chief referred to when asked to
comment. This case has nothing to do with the politics of the province, but
is all about
the abuse of power and corruption. It appears to me that this is a criminal
matter between Charumbira, Manzungu, and the courts of law. As a party we
believe that justice should prevail at all times, and it is our hope that it
will be allowed to prevail in this case.
"Politics of adversity rule do not involve the courts of law," Mbudzi said.
Masvingo has long been the scene of internecine fighting between two
factions of the ruling party. A faction that includes former Masvingo
governor Josaya Hungwe and legislator Shuvai Mahofa accuses another led by
provincial party head Alex Mudavanhu of involvement in plotting to oust
President Robert Mugabe.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
Mines halt planned growth programmes
GOVERNMENT'S plan to lure foreign direct investment in the country's
resources sector appears to have been derailed by apprehension over its
indistinct ambitions of empowerment in the sector as well as acute foreign
Mining industry players said several mining operations had put on hold
planned expansion programmes, suggesting that international financiers,
previously keen on underwriting projects in the sector, had become
tight-fisted due to increasing risk and security concerns.
Several mining houses pledged to pour in millions of dollars in the sector
after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono unveiled in
2004 a cocktail of proposals he said were meant to trigger growth in the
mining sector through fresh investments.
Gono had proposed to allow mining companies with foreign shareholders easy
access to foreign currency for the repatriation of dividends, as well as a
guarantee to pay back investors their capital if they decided to pull out of
The RBZ had also pledged to liase with the Ministry of Mines to explore the
best way of ensuring that mining companies could be protected from forcible
South Africa's Mzi Khumalo's Metallon Corporation had submitted its
investment proposals amounting to US$100 million after assurances that the
guarantees were likely to be in place before 2005.
Metallon anticipated floating its Zimbabwean and South African gold assets
on the London stock market and use the proceeds from the float to augment
its asset base, which is currently too dependent on Zimbabwean mines.
Khumalo's proposal was to invest close to US$15 million in the acquisition
and expansion of Metallon's Zimbabwean mines.
Impala Platinum pledged about US$700 million to develop its platinum mines
in Zimbabwe over a five-year period.
Additionally, its Zimbabwe subsidiary, Zimbabwe Platinum (Zimplats), in
which it holds
an 87 percent stake, also sought to spend US$2 billion over 20 years to
exploit its platinum deposits on the great dyke belt.
Zimplats' ambitious project - which would be the biggest ever in Zimbabwe -
involved the construction of a thermal power station at its current
operations in Selous, that would help alleviate Zimbabwe's power crisis.
The government was going to be offered surplus power, and even a stake, in
the power plant.
The US$2 billion project
also involved expansion over 20 years, which would
boost platinum output to well over one million ounces per annum, from
of around 85 000 ounces per year.
Eight new underground mines would be opened during the first phase of the
expansion covering the area at the Ngezi Complex, according to details of
the project, whose approvals have also not yet been granted by the
But besides government approvals, sources said the ambitious projects had
delayed taking off because of concerns over government's targets for
empowerment as well as the failure by Zimbabwe to sign a bilateral accord
with South Africa that would protect the rights of South African
The accord has not yet been signed although reports suggest it was ready to
be signed two years ago.
Industry players said several projects were grounded because of increasing
investor concern over government's planned legislation on mining sector
Gono indicated in January that successful attraction of regional and
intercontinental capital required "freeing the economy of any apprehensions
on the security of private and foreign investments".
"The progress on the implementation of bilateral investment protection
agreements has not been encouraging, notwithstanding the explicit
aspirations and directions long given to the relevant authorities in
government by the country's leadership," Gono said.
He has repeatedly called for the enactment of legislation related to
the mining sector to create certainty among investors and unlock investment
currently held because of lack of clarity on mining sector empowerment.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
ZANU PF's rush to tinker with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, for the 18th
time could torpedo the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
initiative to find a lasting solution to the country's political and
economic crisis, analysts say.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, last
Friday gazetted the Constitutional Amendment (Number 18 Bill), which is due
to be debated in the House of Assembly next month.
The Bill, endorsed by Cabinet last Tuesday, seeks to turn an expanded House
of Assembly into an almost entirely elected chamber with all chiefs and
provincial governors being moved to the Senate.
It will also facilitate the establishment of an "independent" Human Rights
Commission, which analysts say is unlikely to have the clout to censure
state human rights abuses.
The proposed Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission will have nine members,
appointed by the President jointly with Parliament, dominated by his party.
Critics fear President Robert Mugabe will fill the commission with loyalists
to camouflage his government's abuses against perceived enemies in civic
society and the opposition.
The Bill proposes to expand the House of Assembly from the current 150 to
210 members, and the senate from 66 to 84.
Other proposed changes include shortening the six-year term of the next
elected president by one-year.
Under the provisions of the proposed Bill, if a sitting president dies or is
unable to continue performing his or her duties, the legislature will
appoint a new president.
At present, if the presidential seat falls vacant, an election must be held
within 90 days.
Other proposals include making the Delimitation Commission the sole body
that decides constituency boundaries, with the President's power limited to
simply asking it "to reconsider".
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is pushing for a complete overhaul
of the constitution, including reforming all electoral laws before elections
This is one of a plethora of demands the opposition wants included on the
agenda of the proposed inter-party talks for the resolution of the crisis,
whose contagion has spread to neighbouring SADC states.
Observers say with elections less than eight months away, a new
people-driven constitution is out of reach.
President Mugabe told the London-based New African magazine that a new
constitution was out of the question after the country voted against one
proposed by the government in February 2000.
To be enacted into law, the draft Bill must be approved by a two-thirds
majority of both the House of Assembly and the Senate, which the ruling
party can easily command.
Noel Kututwa, chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, said by
forging ahead with the amendment, the ruling party had shown the world it
had little regard for the outcome of the SADC initiative.
"The most unfortunate thing is that there has not been consultation with the
generality of the people of Zimbabwe," said Kututwa.
"Our position has always been that all the people of Zimbabwe should be
involved in the amendment of the constitution of the country. Some of the
problems of this country have to do with the constitution and the electoral
laws, and this is something that Mbeki has mentioned regarding his mandate
in solving the crisis."
Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the MDC,
described the proposed amendment as piecemeal and cosmetic reform designed
to perpetuate President Mugabe's grip on power.
"People are asking for a new constitution, yet what they are getting is a
piecemeal and cosmetic constitutional-making process. The whole thing flies
in the face of the SADC initiative. There is a general consensus that the
present constitution is a problem, including among the parties involved in
the Mbeki initiative. In short, what is happening is a negation of the SADC
initiative," said Chamisa.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) last week successfully
pressured the International Labour Organisation to take note of Zimbabwe's
human rights record, citing the assault of trade unionists by police last
Consultative meetings over the rights commission have been surrounded by
Last year, rights groups such as the National Constitutional Assembly, the
ZCTU, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights (ZLHR) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa, boycotted an
inaugural meeting on the commission organised by the United Nations
Development Programme, citing state violence against labour leaders.
Activists have also demanded the repeal of repressive legislation such as
the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, before the setting up of the rights commission.
Irene Petras, acting director of the ZLHR, said it would be very difficult
for the public to accept the independence of the proposed commission
considering that the President and Parliament would be charged with
appointing members of the commission.
"This has been a bone of contention during our deliberations with the
government and other stakeholders over the human rights commission," said
Petras. "We are concerned it will be a partisan project. We would rather
have a process where people to serve on the commission are appointed on
experience and merit rather than on political affiliation."
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - Council this week started shutting down water supplies to its
suburbs, in some cases for up to eight hours a day, to avert a crisis which
could see some suburbs receiving water only once in every three days.
This follows the decommissioning of Umzingwane Dam, one of the five that
supply the city.
An analysis of the water situation carried out by the council on May 26
indicated that the city's supply dams were only 26.5 percent full.
Umzingwane was only two percent full while Upper Ncema was worse at 1.6
percent of its capacity. Inyankuni, the second largest supply dam was 11.7
percent full while Lower Ncema, the smallest, was 18.3 percent full. Insiza,
the biggest supplier was 47 percent full.
The council said that Lower Ncema and the Criterion raw water reservoir
would be decommissioned in August. This would leave the city with only 69
000 cubic metres of water a day against demand of 119 000 cubic metres a
Since consumers would only be receiving half of their water requirements,
this implies that they would only be supplied with water once every two
Inyankuni was likely to be decommissioned in October if the situation did
not change. The supply would then be reduced to 46 000 cubic metres a day,
meaning that consumers would be entitled to receive water once in every
Those in high lying areas would not receive any water at all and would have
to rely on bowsers.
Bulawayo residents have been experiencing water rationing for years now. The
council tightened rationing in January but it says demand still remains high
at 119 000 cubic metres instead of the targeted 90 000 cubic metres or less.
It had, therefore, been decided that instead of leaving it to individual
compliance, rationing would be effected from the source.
Most of the suburbs in the low-density suburbs will have water shutdowns of
eight hours from 7.30 to 15.30 three days a week. They have been grouped
into two, with some having shutdowns on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the
others on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
High-density suburbs will have shutdowns everyday from Monday to Saturday
from 1pm to 5 pm.
Bulawayo's salvation lies in the Zambezi Water pipeline, which is taking
ages to come on stream. It could also have benefited from the
Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipe link but there is no money for the project, which
has been tossed between the council and the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (ZINWA) for years.
ZINWA is planning to take over water supplies to the city, but the
organisation is said to be broke.
BULAWAYO - A council committee last week objected to the planned takeover of
the urban section of trunk roads but gave the thumbs-up to the renaming of
Main Street after former Vice-President, Joshua Nkomo.
Two important institutions are already named after Nkomo who was also known
as Father Zimbabwe. These are Bulawayo's international airport and the
polytechnic in Gwanda.
Several name changes had been proposed but only two went through. The other
change approved was that of the Old Victoria Falls Road, which will now be
known as Kenneth Kaunda Avenue Extension.
The proposed changes would have seen Fife Street being named after
liberation fighter Nikita Mangena; Fort Street after King Mzilikazi;
Conaught Avenue after Chief Sigombe Mathema; Lady Stanley Avenue after King
Lobengula; Coghlan and Athlone Avenues after King Lozane; and Batsch Avenue
after liberation fighter Lookout Masuku.
Lady Rodwell Maternity Hospital and Richard Morris Hospital, both part of
United Bulawayo Hospitals, were to be renamed Amhlope and Mehlokazulu while
White City Stadium would have been renamed Hugh Ashton Stadium after a
respected former council employee.
Members of the council's street naming sub-committee argued that some of the
names that were supposed to be changed were not offensive because they
related to people who had contributed to the welfare of society.
They also said some of the proposed new names already had infrastructure
named after them. Since Bulawayo was growing it would be better to use the
proposed names on new buildings and roads as some of the roads in new
suburbs had no names.
The resolution to adopt only the name changes for Main Street and Old
Victoria Falls Road was adopted at the full council meeting last week. The
same meeting, however, objected to the government takeover of the urban
section of trunk roads from the city, saying this was likely to result in a
deterioration of the roads as the government had a poor record of
The councillors, however, decided to shift debate on the takeover to
council-in-committee, which is not open to the public.
ZIMBABWE'S gold output is poised for another tumble as mining companies
continuously fail to secure inputs for mining the precious mineral, Chamber
of Mines president Jack Murehwa told The Financial Gazette.
Recent reports have indicated that the country's gold production had fallen
to a record eight metric tonnes for the 12 months to March 2007.
Effectively, Zimbabwe has failed to capitalise on the firming global mineral
The gold price surged from around US$275 an ounce in 2001 to more than
US$600 last year.
"Gold output in the immediate short term may fall because of curtailed
production due to lack of inputs without the requisite revenue," Murehwa
said, indicating the plunge in production had not yet touched a bottom.
Murehwa said several mining companies were increasingly failing to secure
inputs because of a shortage of foreign currency. "Mines continue to fail to
secure inputs, mainly cyanide, required in the processing of gold ore. They
may be forced to close their processing plants and therefore fail to produce
any gold," Murehwa said.
Last month, Murehwa said the country's gold mines were still owed in excess
of US$20 million for bullion delivered to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a
subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the only legal buyer of gold
in the country. Some of the gold had been delivered as far back as November
Murehwa also reiterated the Chamber's stance on the government's proposed
legislation to force foreign-owned mining firms to give up at least 51
percent of their shareholding to local investors.
"The Chamber for some time has been waiting and urging for the finalisation
of the process," he said.
Unfortunately, Murehwa said, the delay by the government had "meant that
investors already in the country remain apprehensive about how the whole
process will pan out and affect them."
Chris Muronzi & Tawanda Karombo Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed RioZim is in talks with government to create
a "conducive regime" necessary for the investment of over US$200 million in
Murowa Diamond Mine, chairman Eric Kahari said last week.
Kahari, however, did not give details on how far the talks had progressed.
He said operations at the country's largest diamond mine changed relatively
in the first quarter of this year owing to the exhaustion of a soft and
richer surface layer but installation of a crusher had allowed tonnage
throughput to be maintained.
The company was now mining the hard underlying kimberlite at the long- term
ore reserve grade, said Kahari in a statement to shareholders given at
RioZim's annual general meeting.
He said the group had currently employed stopgap measures to continue mining
while negotiations continued.
"Operations at Murowa changed during the first quarter. The soft, enriched,
surface layer has largely been exhausted. Installation of a crusher has
allowed tonnage throughput to be maintained. However, this is now the hard
underlying kimberlite at the long-term ore reserve. This impacts on diamond
production," said Kahari.
"This is a stopgap development pending the implementation of the expansion
project. A two million tonne per year operation (approximately 10 times the
size of the existing activity) is the optimum size for the mine. This issue
is being vigorously pursued with the relevant government authorities with a
view to obtaining the conducive regime necessary for a US$200 million plus
investment," said Kahari.
RioZim hopes to expand Murowa's output tenfold to two million tonnes per
year but this largely depends on whether the government guarantees security
for the investment.
RioZim has previously managed to win concessions on its investments in
Zimbabwe, whose government is pushing for legislation to compel
foreign-owned mining firms to cede at least 51 percent shareholding to local
Last year RioZim engaged government after Mines Minister Amos Midzi
announced plans to take controlling stakes in mines.
The group was given a reprieve by government and assured its investment was
Kahari also confirmed renewed interest by his company in setting up a
thermal power station but said talks to set up an independent power producer
in the country were crucial for the project to proceed.
The Financial Gazette recently reported that RioZim was courting unnamed
foreign investors in London to revive its US$1.6 billion thermal power
project conceived in the late 1990s in the wake of disruptive power cuts
that are currently troubling local industries.
Power outages have dimmed prospects of the long-sought-after recovery in the
mining sector, a significant contributor to both the country's foreign
currency earnings and gross domestic product.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S troubled retailers, accused by politicians of profiteering, have
joined forces against unscrupulous manufacturers and suppliers to demand
rational pricing of goods.
In a desperate bid to exonerate themselves from longstanding accusations of
profiteering from both the government and consumers, retailers have begun
turning down quotations from manufacturers and suppliers they deem
"Retailers have gone to suppliers telling them that we will not buy from
them at that price because there is another competitor offering the same
product at a lower cost," Retailers Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) chairman
Willard Zireva told The Financial Gazette recently.
Zireva said the rejection of the costly quotations had resulted in some
suppliers applying brakes on frequent price increases while others had
opened up on payment terms.
"In May there was a lower increase in prices in terms of percentages. Prices
are going up at a slower rate," Zireva, who is also chief executive officer
of OK Zimbabwe, one of the country's largest supermarket groups, said.
Retailers and manufacturers have in recent years been on the receiving end
of unkind criticism over price increases, with President Robert Mugabe
sharply rebuking them for rampant profiteering and accusing them of
increasing prices on a daily basis to foment anger among restless consumers
and turn them against his trouble government.
However, retailers and manufacturers have denied charges of plotting to
create social upheaval in the country and have blamed the massive price
increases on the steep fall of the Zimbabwe dollar against major foreign
currencies like the greenback and the British pound.
The high cost of fuel and electricity had also resulted in higher input
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
"ZANU-PF RETAINS ZAKA EAST", announced the official press on Monday after a
by-election in which the ruling party, as usual, virtually competed against
itself in disputed circumstances.
The seat, which fell vacant after the death of Tinos Rusere, was won by
Retired Brigadier General Livingstone Chineka who polled 11 162 votes "to
romp to victory", as the official press enthusiastically put it. It is an
appropriate description considering that the retired army man "shrugged off
the weak challenge of Mr Nicholas Shanga of the little known United People's
Party, who polled 1 117 votes", the state daily reported. The paper said
Lameck Batari of the "equally unknown" Zimbabwe People's Democratic Party,
received 662 votes in polls that the paper said were designed to give the
political parties a chance to gauge their strength ahead of next year's
landmark harmonised elections.
Naturally, the winner, Brig Chineka was elated, commenting: "Firstly, I am
happy because it was a peaceful election and a clear indication of maturity
between ZANU PF, UPP and ZPDP and I also thank the people of this
constituency for their support and I promise that I will work tirelessly to
serve them whether they are from MDC, ZANU PF and the other party".
The ruling party and Brig Chineka are evidently pleased with the outcome
although it was a pyrrhic victory. It reminds me of the time when a friend's
daughter was small. She loved to play games such as chess with older members
of her family and would throw tantrums whenever she lost.
To keep the peace, members of the family agreed that whoever was playing a
game with her should deliberately go easy to let the little girl win. But
one day when she was older and had become quite good at chess, she caught
her mother gesturing to someone the child was playing a game with to let her
win. The youngster hit the roof, declaring that she did not need to be
mollycoddled but wanted to win fairly and squarely.
It is deplorable that in an analogous situation adult men and women who
contest elections as ZANU PF candidates are always pleased to win in
circumstances in which conditions were undemocratically skewed in their
favour. They should be embarrassed but Brig Chineka's comments after his
"romp" to victory show he thinks everything is hunky-dory. He steers clear
of discussing the circumstances that resulted in him squaring off with
"obscure parties" instead of the main opposition party, the MDC.
He knows that the MDC boycotted the polls because of an uneven electoral
field and unfair conditions pertaining to the entire process. Even the
"obscure parties" that fielded candidates in the Zaka East by-election
expressed disgruntlement over the conditions and atmosphere in which the
polls were conducted. The UPP's Daniel Shumba is reported to have protested
over the intimidation of voters in the run-up to polling day. No one would
begrudge ZANU PF its foregone "victories" in elections if it were clear to
everyone that this party plays by the rules. This is not the case.
The ruling party has been persistently accused of intimidation, vote buying
and using state machinery and resources to tilt the outcome of polls in its
favour. It is no secret that the rural areas, which are said to be ZANU PF's
strongholds, have been declared "NO-GO" areas for the MDC with allegations
being rife that youth militias are deployed to these areas to cow the people
ahead of elections. Brig Chineka and other ZANU PF election winners are also
aware of persistent complaints about the controversial role of chiefs, some
of whom have been known to ban the holding of opposition rallies in their
The ruling party and government have done nothing to address these concerns.
They have instead been quite happy to beat their chests and gloat about
election victories achieved in such disputed circumstances. After the Zaka
East by-election, Utoile Silaigwana of the government-appointed Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) typically declared the by-election to be a true
barometer of the wishes of the people.
How can he come to such a conclusion when turnout was a negligible 10
percent of registered voters? That the ZEC and the ruling party are not
disturbed by the increasing apathy as shown by the 90 percent registered
voters who gave the Zaka East polls a miss is confirmation that holding and
winning elections by hook or crook are now officially considered ends in
It would be easy to denounce those who do not turn up to vote as being lazy
if the "stayaway'' rate was, say, in the region of 33 percent. But when the
proportion is a whopping 90 percent and the trend is prevalent throughout
the country, the ruling party should ask itself whether it is genuinely
getting its mandate from the people of Zimbabwe as it is often too eager to
declare. When millions do not bother to turn up to vote it could be because
experience has taught them it is not worth the trouble. They may feel that
the "system" does not reflect their interests and the government does not
respond to their needs and aspirations.
The ruling party and the government may not like it, but after persistent
allegations of election rigging, most people may conclude that with or
without their votes, the outcome of polls is predetermined and the ruling
party will always win. Wittingly or unwittingly, the authorities have tended
to confirm this perception through the heavy-handed manner in which the
opposition has been thwarted at every turn in the electoral process.
If they are to be honest, ZANU PF election strategists should advise the
chefs that Brig Chineka's victory on the basis of a 10 percent turnout in
circumstances in which all opposition parties have accused the ruling party
of intimidation and vote buying is not a sign of its strength for next
year's harmonised elections. South African President, Thabo Mbeki who is
mediating in the Zimbabwean dispute, has declared his determination to
ensure that those polls are free and fair. But what happened in Zaka East
shows that the ruling party is as determined as ever to win at all costs.
Gauging its strength by letting Brig Chineka stand against candidates from
two obscure parties is tantamount to a "boxing" champion (a pun intended
there) preparing for a major bout by sparring with a schoolboy. Victory
under such circumstances is not a true reflection of realities.
ONE critic once remarked that despite all the good the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) has done in fighting to keep the country's shrinking
democratic space open, its biggest shortcoming is that it is at sixes and
sevens when it comes to mounting any serious challenge against the ruling
party, fingered for ruining one of Africa's most promising economies.
While the confusion in the party first reared its ugly head in 2005, when
the MDC split right through the middle, its roots could be traced to its
lack of an ideology that binds the alliance. In as much as one might not
want to buy this argument in its entirety, it would be naïve not to
acknowledge that there is a grain of truth in it.
A few months after its formation in September 1999, the MDC almost
red-carded ZANU PF when it polled 57 seats, only five short of the ruling
party's 62 in the 2000 general elections. Similarly in 2002, it almost
succeeded in shuttling its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, into State House, but
again, it remained a tale of so near, yet so far.
It would appear that after the disputed March 2005 polls, the alliance
suffered a crisis of expectations, leading to the October split.
Indeed, the ruling party's reluctance to create conditions conducive for the
holding of free and fair elections and its obsession with frustrating the
opposition using all sorts of tools at its disposal has conspired to slow
the momentum in the MDC, in the same manner it did to Joshua Nkomo's
PF-ZAPU, Ndabaningi Sithole's Zanu (Ndonga) and Edgar Tekere's Zimbabwe
And yet conditions on the ground lay a fertile ground for the MDC to tap
into a deep well of public disenchantment. What with rising anger against
the establishment, institutionalised corruption and an unprecedented
economic meltdown that has left ZANU PF's propagandists with no plausible
explanation to offer except to recite their mantra about sanctions repeated
True, the catastrophic economic collapse authored by ZANU PF has proved to
be President Robert Mugabe's biggest opponent. Sadly, the opposition could
still fail to capitalise on this because of internecine fights. Whereas a
united opposition could have had it easy under the circumstances, this might
not be the case unless the feuding MDC factions begin to look at the bigger
Reports suggest that efforts to mend the rift within the MDC have come
unstuck. The reason: the factions are in disagreement on the appointment of
a Cabinet in the event of an election victory next year. It does not end
there. There are also fights over the selection of candidates to represent
the party in constituencies to be created by ZANU PF via the controversial
enlargement of the House of Assembly, so we are told.
Talk of building castles in the air. This is nonsense! The MDC has
completely missed the point - it is not about who gets what, it is about the
The country's economy is gasping for breath because the establishment thinks
of its survival first before anything else. In ZANU PF's scheme of things,
people only become a factor at election time. We fear this contagious
disease has spread to the opposition. For want of a better word, the
opposition now looks like a bunch of opportunists.
Zimbabweans yearn for a government that puts people's interests before
anything else. A government that would free them from the scourges of hunger
and poverty, a government that accepts criticism and not brand those it
differs with as traitors, one that would restore their long lost civil
The MDC ought to have a rallying point, and therein, lies the ideological
fly in the ointment. With the 2008 elections only about 10 months away, the
MDC cannot afford to confront a determined ZANU PF while in disarray. The
feuding factions cannot even afford to spend a day longer squabbling.
The short time left should see the opposition vigorously push for conditions
guaranteeing free and fair elections; a new constitution, equal access to
the media, access to resources, an independent electoral commission and the
removal of restrictive laws that continue to be applied selectively by the
ruling party. It is only once in government that the MDC can preoccupy
itself with the sticking issues. Even then, it should be about doing the
right thing for the people. It should be about choosing the best from the
Despite the ugly internal fights in ZANU PF, the end has always justified
the means. Amidst all the confusion in the MDC, the ruling party is stopping
at nothing in its quest to cling to power. It is not even devoting time to
the Southern African Development Community initiative, which it subscribed
to in March.
It means, therefore, that unity, come what may, is a must for the MDC if it
is serious about dislodging ZANU PF. Bruised and battered as it is, selfish
interests will not help the opposition, as these can only drive it further
from the centre of power.
Let's not make them turn in their graves
EDITOR - Zimbabwe is a land of contrasts. This has long become a textbook
phrase. Yet, not since the days of colonial rule has its meaning been so
ominous as now.
While Zimbabweans are used to luxury - it does have its limits after
all -poverty and despair are limitless and cannot but cause a good deal of
concern. Over 90 percent of the population is living below the poverty datum
line, the worst recorded since 1980.
The gap between the haves and have-nots has widened to an alarming level.
Most employers are insensitive to their workers' plight and farm workers,
who should spearhead the recovery of the economy, are paid wages which
cannot buy them a 10kg packet of mealie-meal or a kilogramme of beef.
Corporates prefer to pay over $300 000 per day for dinner for their workers
who put in overtime yet they are taking home a taxed salary of about $1.5
If ever there is a "Domestic Violence Bill" surely there should be a "Labour
Abuse Bill", which would ensure that the workers are treated fairly.
The government, as it looks into the composition of corporate shareholding
in the mining sector, should also look into the gap between the salaries of
the bosses and workers and come up with a meaningful ratio between the
Zimbabwe is not as bad as is being portrayed, it's only that it has been
sabotaged by greedy mercenaries who are enjoying the status quo!
The reason why those who lie at Chimoio and Nyadzonia's blood was spilt is
because the gap between the rich and poor was too wide. Let us not make them
turn in their graves.
Lovemore A Magaso
To err is only human . . .
EDITOR - I have found it appropriate to formally write to you and extend my
personal apology over the erroneous reference to your paper in a statement
(May 31) from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) regarding recent
media claims that MDC leaders had gone to South Africa to meet outgoing
Prime Minister Tony Blair.
I have read your article on the issue and, indeed, nowhere did you ever make
reference to the so-called meeting in question, and neither did you
indirectly suggest that.
Please kindly accept my sincere and unreserved apologies over the discomfort
this matter may have caused to yourselves and your paper.
Secretary of Information and Publicity MDC (Mutambara)
Our liberators have become tormentors
EDITOR - I was surprised and shocked a few months ago when President Robert
Mugabe declared that he would seek re-election despite all the evidence
around us that the people are fed up with his party, ZANU PF. What is clear
is that ZANU PF can never win a free and fair election that is preceded by a
complete levelling of the playing field. This is the reason why the state is
determined to suppress basic democratic rights through outright torture and
the closure of newspapers.
The reason why the liberation struggle was waged was to make sure that a
democratic society was created in which respect for human rights would be
the cornerstone. Instead of upholding this legacy the ZANU PF government has
It is sad that our so-called liberators have become our tormentors. State
resources are now being used to crush all avenues through which Zimbabweans
can assert their rights. There is a real danger that our country will soon
become the worst violator of human rights in the whole world. This is the
legacy that ZANU PF shall leave long after its demise.
Once bitten, twice shy
EDITOR - I recently purchased eight small containers of 'Beatrice healthy
milk' butter. The butter was of poor quality and four of the containers
turned out to be cottage cheese.
On phoning the number on the container, I was told to take the containers to
a bottle store in Newlands where they would be replaced. I was told by
Steve, who answered the cell phone, that they would replace two for one. He
also told me that he would let the bottle store know.
Needless to say, the bottle store knew nothing about the replacement
containers and would only replace with an equal number. Steve was phoned
again and he insisted that I should only receive one for one.
I live in Mazowe and normally shop in the Mount Pleasant area to save fuel.
It cost me a considerable amount of fuel and time to drive to Newlands
because of their lack of quality control.
Is this what passes for service in Zimbabwe now? I will not be buying any
more of their products.
Documents dilemma for diasporans
EDITOR - I wish to make a contribution to the ongoing debate about the 18th
Constitutional Amendment, which is likely to be tabled anytime before the
March 2008 elections.
As pointed out in other fora by others like Professor Jonathan Moyo, we need
to work within those constraints imposed by ZANU PF rather than demand some
things we all know we will not achieve with this government.
For example it is almost impossible to have a new constitution ready by
March 2008, but we should ask ZANU PF to include reforms like allowing
Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote and granting dual citizenship to
children born in the diaspora.
We are facing serious problems in obtaining birth certificates for children
born in the diaspora, let alone passports. Even renewing passports for
ourselves is a nightmare. We end up taking our host countries' birth
certificates and passports as Zimbabwean documents are very hard to acquire.
As I write I have just read somewhere that a Zimbabwean passport now costs
US$220. How many can afford to pay that much, say you are a family of four?
We also end up taking up citizenship in our host countries to enhance our
chances of better employment opportunities, which require citizens only to
The Zimbabwean authorities have said it many times and a case in point is
when Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono launched the Homelink
Project. He said that the world is now a global village, therefore, Zimbabwe
has to accept that its nationals can now move across boundaries in search of
other kinds of life, live and work anywhere in the world, just like any
However, Zimbabwe is now encouraging its nationals to obtain citizenship of
their host countries. If you go to the Zimbabwean embassy here, you will be
given a form, which asks you if you are eligible to apply for citizeship of
the country you are living in, and why you have not applied for that
citizenship if you are eligible. So in other words, why apply for a
Zimbabwean passport if you can change your citizenship?
The irony is that you are not allowed dual citizenship, but they want to
know why you have not applied for your host country's citizenship. Why does
the Government of Zimbabwe want to denationalise people in the disapora but
at the same time wants us to send our hard-earned money to them through
Homelink? Which home will they be referring to if I am no longer allowed to
claim Zimbabwe as my home country?
This farce has gone too far and we need to stop it. How, you may ask? Stop
being cry babies, let's close ranks and ensure we fight this evil practice.