By Tichaona Sibanda
16 June 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai capped off a busy two day visit to Sweden
on Tuesday by addressing the Swedish parliament in Stockholm.
James Maridadi, spokesman for Tsvangirai told us the Prime Minister had
spent a busy 48 hours in the Swedish capital. Apart from his address to
parliament, Tsvangirai also had talks with the Prime Minister Fredrik
In the morning he had a private audience with the crown Princess Victoria of
Sweden and also held talks with the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt.
According to Maridadi, the highlight of Tsvangirai's visit was his meeting
with Prime Minister Reinfeldt. The Swedish PM told journalists that
increased democracy in Zimbabwe will be a priority for the European Union
when his country takes over the bloc's leadership from the 1st of July.
Reinfeldt said the EU wants to halt political violence in Zimbabwe and
increase the responsibility for human rights and democracy. The Swedish
Prime Minister said he saw positive signs in the country but did not offer
any aid; rather, he urged the inclusive government to push through economic
and political reforms.
'Politically motivated violence needs to be stopped, the rule of law and the
freedom of media must be established,' Reinfeldt said.
In response Tsvangirai said the country was 'on the road' to democracy and
that further reforms were needed to provide political stability.
'We are making a case for reengagement because we as Zimbabweans have
decided, not for the sake of the international community but for our own
sake, that we need the freedoms, the reforms and we need economic recovery,
whether President Mugabe is there or not,' Tsvangirai said.
Dewa Mavhinga, a human rights lawyer said the new government must
demonstrate to the world that they are on an irreversible path to democracy.
'What is worrying us is that the West is telling the leaders of Zimbabwe to
reform. These calls should be coming from Zimbabwe, and not from outsiders
to champion the human rights cause in the country,' Mavhinga said.
'We are still lagging behind in terms of all tenets of democracy. Nothing
has changed on the ground and we are still a long way back. We need
wide-spread reforms, changes to the army, police, media and judiciary,'
Tsvangirai was in Sweden as part of an international tour to secure pledges
for economic aid and was due to visit Oslo, Norway on Tuesday night.
So far, western donors have said aid will only begin to flow when a
democracy is created, and economic reforms are implemented. Aid is now
slowly beginning to trickle into aid agencies, bypassing the government.
Germany pledged $30million on Monday, and U.S. President Barack Obama
promised last week to give $73 million to help fight AIDS and promote good
Zimbabwean PM Morgan Tsvangirai was not given any promises about new aid when he visited Sweden today. But that was most likely what he expected.
|Fredrik Reinfeldt and Morgan
irai. Photo: Regeringen
No western country is ready to other commitments than strictly humanitarian
aid. No one is ready to hand out money to the Zimbabwean government until the
democratic institutions are fully functioning and it is able to make sure the
money are used correctly.
This is something that Tsvangirai seemed to be aware of.
“We must earn the respect of the international community”, he said on today’s joint press conference together with the Swedish Prime Minister.
Reinfeldt welcomed that Tsvangirai at least indicated a will to enforce changes in Zimbabwe.
There have not been any apparent progress since the start of the Zimbabwean coalition government in march this year. Political violence, lock-up of dissidents, crackdown on media and occupation of farms have continued.
“I would be the last one to say that everything is rosy”, Tsvangirai said in a moment of self-irony.
He claimed that the work with writing a new constitution, a precondition for democratising the country, follows the time-plan. A conference on the constitution will be held in July and another one in November.
But Tsvangirai did however not leave wholly empty handed, at least Reinfeldt promised to politically support the democratisation of Zimbabwe.
“We are determined to do as much as we can to support the transition to democracy and increase the respect for human rights in Zimbabwe. This will be an important task during the Swedish EU Presidency”, Swedish PM said.
Jun 16, 2009, 16:36 GMT
Harare - The European Union's refusal to grant visas to ministers from
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's party to accompany Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai to Brussels this week has deepened rifts in Harare's
coalition government, it emerged Tuesday.
Tsvangirai is on a tour of the United States and several European countries
to try to repair relations damaged during the past decade of Mugabe's
autocratic rule and secure aid towards rebuilding Zimbabwe's battered
After meeting last week with US President Barack Obama, the former
opposition leader, who took his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) into
coalition with Mugabe's Zanu-PF in February, is continuing his trip in
Europe this week.
On Wednesday, he and six members of his cabinet, two from each of the three
parties in the coalition government, are scheduled to meet senior EU
officials in Brussels for what is being called a re-engagement meeting.
Three ministers, from each of Zanu-PF, the MDC and a breakaway MDC faction
led by Arthur Mutambara, are accompanying him throughout the trip, with
three more supposed to join the Brussels meeting.
From Zanu-PF, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was due to attend, but the
EU is refusing him entry because Chinamasa is one of the scores of Zanu-PF
members and allies, including Mugabe, barred from travelling to the EU and
US under targeted sanctions going back years.
Sources in Zimbabwe's cabinet said Mugabe on Tuesday instructed that the
trip should be aborted if Chinamasa was refused entry.
Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, a leading member of deputy prime minister
Mutambara's MDC faction, told the German Press Agency dpa he would not be
attending unless the EU relented on his Zanu-PF cohort.
'We are supposed to go tomorrow but it depends on whether the other members
can get the visas.'
Refusing entry to Chinamasa would mean 'no launch of reengagement (with the
EU),' Ncube warned.
But Finance Minister Tendai Biti from Tsvangirai's party, the third minister
awaited in Brussels, had disregarded Mugabe's instruction and already left
Tuesday to attend the meeting.
Because there is no Belgian embassy in Harare, the ministers had to apply to
the French embassy for visas to visit Brussels. France and Belgium are part
of the visa-free Schengen area, meaning a French visa covers travel to
In a separate incident, Britain has refused to issue a visa for Mines
Minister Obert Mpofu, also of Zanu-PF, who planned on attending a mining
conference in the country this week.
The cabinet sources say Mugabe dispatched Mutambara to try to intervene with
the British and French ambassadors in Harare on the issue.
Obama's decision to exclude the one Zanu-PF minister in Tsvangirai's
delegation, Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi, from the Oval Office meeting
last week already drew angry allegations from Mugabe-loyal state media of
5 hours ago
STOCKHOLM (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe's presence in government should
not deter the international community from donating direct aid to Zimbabwe,
the country's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Tuesday.
The one-time opposition leader told reporters in Stockholm that the
impoverished African country was "on the road" to democracy and that further
reforms were needed to provide political stability.
"We are making a case for re-engagement because we as Zimbabweans have
decided, not for the sake of the international community but for our own
sake, that we need the freedoms, the reforms and we need economic recovery
whether President Mugabe is there or not," he told a joint press conference
with his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Tsvangirai, who has been in coalition with his arch-rival Mugabe since
February 11, said that "benchmarks" such as increased media freedom and an
improved economy would inspire confidence in the five-month-old government.
"I am not here to defend President Mugabe's past record... but we have
agreed in the national interest to work together to ensure that Zimbabwe's
problems are resolved," he said. "The time to move the country forward is
Swedish premier Reinfeldt said "positive steps" had been taken in
stabilising the economy, but stopped short of pledging any direct economic
"Politically motivated violence needs to be stopped... the rule of law and
the freedom of media must be established," he said.
Tsvangirai was in Sweden as part of an international tour to secure pledges
for economic aid and was due to visit Oslo later Tuesday.
Last week, US president Barack Obama pledged 73 million dollars (52 million
euros) in indirect aid for the impoverished African country, while Germany
has said it will donate 20 million euros via the World Bank to help
Under the fledgling government's watch, more than 800 million dollars in
credit lines have been secured to rebuild the shattered economy, and the
International Monetary Fund has said it will resume technical aid to Harare.
But that is still a fraction of the 8.5 billion dollars the government says
Private businesses say meanwhile they want more guarantees that the rule of
law will be respected before they invest.
The country is seeking to emerge from years of hyper-inflation and a
breakdown in basic services that has forced millions of Zimbabweans to flee
By Violet Gonda
16 June 2009
MDC Director General, Toendepi Shonhe was arrested on Tuesday on perjury
charges in connection with the case of the three MDC activists Lloyd
Tarumbwa, Fani Tembo and Terry Musona who were 'taken' by the state agents
from their homes in Banket two weeks ago for interviews at the Attorney
General's Office. They are among the group of MDC activists abducted from
their homes in Mashonaland West last year, and were kept incommunicado for
The MDC CEO is accused of lying under oath when he swore to an affidavit
that the three members of the MDC had been re-abducted two weeks ago by
State security agents. He is being charged under the Criminal Law Act.
However, MDC Director of Information Luke Tamborinyoka told SW Radio Africa
that these are trumped up charges, saying Shonhe wrote the affidavit to try
to make a High Court interdict stopping the Attorney General's Office from
using the three people who had been re-abducted, as state witnesses.
Tamborinyoka said: "If the court wanted to subpoena these people to act as
State witnesses it was supposed to do this civilly. You don't just send CIO's
in unmarked vehicles to take people, threaten them, abduct them, bring out
guns, and take them to the Attorney General's office. There is an element of
cohesion in this whole thing which means these people were abducted."
The MDC official said the arrest of the Director General is very worrying
especially at a time when Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is trying to
engage the international community. He said there are residual elements in
ZANU PF who continue to violate people's rights with impunity. "The MDC is
trying to indicate left, ZANU PF here is indicating right - telling the
whole world that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe," Tamborinyoka said.
Tarumbwa, Tembo and Musona, were initially detained for more than four
months without being charged. Tamborinyoka said despite being held as
'so-called state witnesses,' they were tortured and intimidated during their
illegal incarceration. They are being forced to act as state witnesses in
the case of another group of MDC activists who were accused of plotting to
overthrow the Mugabe regime. The three were taken again when a group that
includes Concillia Chinanzvavana and 70 year old Fidelis Chiramba were about
to appear in court for their trial two weeks ago.
By Lance Guma
16 June 2009
Parliament resumed sitting Tuesday with several MP's slamming the slow pace
of reforms by the country's coalition government. Mbizo legislator
Settlement Chikwinya moved a motion decrying the lack of any meaningful
progress in opening up the media. He called on the Executive arm of
government to comply with the provisions of the Global Political Agreement
signed by both ZANU PF and the MDC which calls for independent players to
operate in the media environment.
Chikwinya also took a swipe at Information Minister Webster Shamu for
failing to comply with a High Court that barred him from interfering with
journalists who wanted to cover the recent COMESA summit. The court ruled
that the Media and Information Commission was now defunct and no journalist
should have to be accredited by the body. Shamu however ignored this and
went on to give a list of accredited journalists to security details manning
the conference venue. The journalists who refused to accredit with the
defunct MIC were eventually barred from the summit, despite the court order.
The motion by the MP also raised concerns about the continued abuse of the
State media by ZANU PF. Chikwinya is calling on the Standing Rules and
Orders Committee and the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity to
constitute the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), which 'should start
granting licenses to other players by 6 August 2009.'
Makoni West MP Webber Chinyadza also moved a motion in parliament
criticising the lack of development in the rural areas. Both his and
Chikwinya's motion will be debated on Wednesday. Another motion already
previously debated but adopted Tuesday was that of Nyanga North MP Douglas
Mwonzora. He is calling for a transparent system of distributing inputs to
disadvantaged rural farmers. In the past army officers and ZANU PF officials
have been manipulating the system to reward their supporters. Mwonzora is
suggesting that elected officials should oversee the process.
Newsreel spoke to MDC Chief Whip Innocent Gonese and asked him why
parliamentary sessions were few and far in between. He said this was because
there was no government business coming to parliament. 'The sitting schedule
of parliament depends on government business,' he told us. He said this is
why the MDC at its annual national conference criticized the slow pace of
reforms. Gonese said parliament's main business is the crafting of laws yet
they were mainly debating motions. He said they hoped the next session of
parliament will start repealing repressive legislation.
By Staff reporter
16 June 2009
Zimbabwe Independent editors, Vincent Kahiya and Constantine Chimakure on
Tuesday appeared before magistrate Moses Murendo applying for a referral to
the Supreme Court where they seek to challenge the constitutionality of
section 31 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which they are
Media watchdog, Misa-Zimbabwe, reports the two appeared along with Michael
Curling who is representing the Zimbabwe Independent. The matter has however
been postponed to 9 July to enable the prosecution to file its response.
Their lawyer Innocent Chagonda asked the magistrate for a referral to the
Supreme Court stating that section 31 of the Criminal Codification Act,
which attracts a maximum sentence of 20 years, is unconstitutional. The
defence team say the penalty of a 20 year sentence imposed by section 31 is
so heavy and disproportionate to the offence that it infringes section 20 of
the bill of rights. Section 20 of the constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees
the right to freedom of expression.
Chagonda also filed a second application in which he wants the Supreme Court
to determine whether two law officers from the Attorney General's Office,
namely Michael Mugabe and Morgan Dube, cited as State witnesses, can act as
both complainants and prosecutors at the same time in the case.
Chimakure and Kahiya are being charged for the publishing or communicating
of falsehoods when they published a story in May revealing the names of law
enforcement agents involved in last year's abductions of MDC and civic
The story titled, Activist abductors named - CIO, police role in activists'
abduction revealed, stated that notices of indictment for trial in the High
Court served on some of the activists revealed that the activists were
either in the custody of the CIO or police during the period they were
The Media watchdog said in a statement: "The two journalists submitted that
as journalists, the very nature of their job obliges them to write on a
regular basis, a task which they cannot safely or efficiently execute if
they live in constant fear of arrest for their writings. This is a hindrance
to free expression and it therefore violates the Constitution, the
By Peta Thornycroft
15 June 2009
Lower-ranking police officers and army troops in Zimbabwe say they are
better off under the country's new inclusive government. But they quietly
say they fear there is too much political involvement in the security
Zimbabwe's army has about 30,000 soldiers who earn $100 a month. It was
reported that lower ranking soldiers carried out most of the beatings of
Movement for Democratic Change supporters during last year's elections.
A private with four years service told VOA he beat MDC supporters because
senior officers loyal to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF, forced him to.
The soldier, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said he
is relieved an inclusive government is now in place, because those pressures
are now gone.
He is critical of top officers in the Zimbabwe National Army, who he says
are unprofessional because they openly support Zanu PF, the former ruling
Zimbabwe's top generals have refused to salute Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, who won more votes in the March 2008 election than President
"As a soldier, I am not happy with the attitude of our bosses [with] Morgan
Tsvangirai and the inclusive government, because when they say they will not
support anyone who is not Zanu PF, then it means the army is any extension
of the party," he said.
An off-duty policeman, who also asked not to be named, said a senior group
in the Zimbabwe Republic Police loyal to Mr. Mugabe does not recognize Mr.
Tsvangirai. He said top policemen had made what he described as "enormous
fortunes" during the past few years of Zanu PF rule.
He also said the force of about 20,000 is no longer professional. He said
many untrained Zanu PF youth militia were recruited into the force since
last year's elections, lowering the standards in the Zimbabwe Republic
He said many police spend days harassing motorists at road blocks to extract
bribes to boost their salaries instead of enforcing law and order.
"As for me, I am not actually happy that $100 dollars is very little for me
to survive for a month long . You need about $500 to survive for a month in
Zimbabwe. In police we are no longer policing. The manner in which police
must police, this is creating more and more corruption. We are no longer
working as police officers on duty," he said.
Despite this, and a core of senior officers in the army and police
fanatically loyal to Mr. Mugabe, many people in Harare's western townships
who were hounded by the security forces last year, say they are better
behaved since the inclusive government was sworn in in February.
A former member of the army, now a businessman said people are no longer
scared of the security forces, even though he did not want his name
"Considering how they were behaving before the inclusive government and how
they are behaving now there is a major difference. They are no longer
harassing people in bars," he said. "They are no longer traumatizing people
like they used to do. They used to be bullying people whenever they see
people gathering, even at shops. They used to harass people, but right now
their behavior has changed, really."
VOA was unable to get comment from the Zimbabwe government. Defense
minister Emmerson Mnangagwe mobile phone was not on, and George Charamba,
spokesman for President Robert Mugabe ZANU-PF in government, declined to
Meanwhile, word is spreading in the security forces that coinciding with Mr.
Tsvangirai's visit last week to Washington, the Senate said the United
States may assist with salaries for Zimbabwe's teachers and health workers,
but not members of the security forces.
Lower-ranking officers in the police and army said the United States was
making a mistake.
"As a policeman and a civil servant we should be treated equally. We are
all coming from the government and we are suffering the same things that
affect teachers, those are the same things that affect us also," he said.
A soldier in central Harare, who did not want to be identified, says if any
difference in salaries is made between the security forces and other civil
servants there could be consequences.
"It may destabilize the country, because we may be viewed as people
belonging to the party instead of being viewed as professional," the soldier
Political commentators also agree the security forces, by and large, are
behaving better than they were before the inclusive government.
An exception is police working in districts of Zimbabwe where white farmers
are being harassed by Zanu-PF loyalists trying to take over their farms.
The Commercial Farmers' Union says the police usually fail to respond to
farmers calls for help.
By Fanuel Jongwe - 4 hours ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's once-deserted supermarkets are full again, after
the country reined in its world-record hyperinflation. But there's no wait
at the tills -- most people simply can't afford to buy anything.
"It a luxury for those who have money to buy," said Marian Chituku, a
36-year-old mother of three, holding a loaf of bread as she walked out of a
supermarket in the working-class suburb of Chitungwiza, outside the capital.
"The shops are full, but to us there is no difference because we cannot
afford the goods. They are as good as non-existent. We only see them on the
Chituku said her family has tea -- without milk -- in the late morning,
skips lunch and then eat dinner as their only meal in order to stretch her
income from a vegetable stall in the township.
But in Harare's leafy suburbs, supermarkets are a shopper's paradise for the
select few deciding between imported haddock fillets or full-shell mussels.
"You can get everything you want here," Josephine Marucchi, a housewife from
the posh suburb of Mount Pleasant, said pausing to choose from the various
brands of cheese before completing the sentence: "as long as you have money.
"It's completely different from last year when people had money and the
shops were empty," she added.
The centre of the shop looked like a gym, stocked with modern exercise
gadgets, where an assistant explained to a customer how to operate a
Last year supermarkets across Zimbabwe resembled empty sheds as local
manufacturers either pulled down the shutters or operated at less than half
their capacity because of hyperinflation, which rendered the local currency
The shortages were exacerbated after the government launched a blitz
ordering businesses to slash prices, with long-ruling President Robert
Mugabe accusing some businesses of colluding with his western foes to try to
Things improved after Mugabe and his one-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai formed
a unity government in February. The local currency has been abandoned and
import restrictions lifted, which has erased the hyperinflation estimated in
multiples of billions last year.
Now prices, all in US dollars or South African rands, are actually
declining, but more than half the population still depends on international
"The major challenge is affordability," Harare-based economist Prosper
Chatambara told AFP.
"The majority of workers are earning 100 US dollars a month, and yet the
poverty datum line is put conservatively at 437 dollars, so there is a
deficit of nearly 350 dollars.
"Most families have to reprioritise their needs. In most cases basic have
Zimbabwe's biggest employer is the government, which is paying workers only
100 dollars a month while it tries to win international support for its plan
to revive the economy and the civil service, including schools and
Until the government finds a way of increasing wages, the gap between rich
and poor is unlikely to change. The painfully obvious disparities have
become a fact of life, seeping even into local music.
"Some die from over-eating," goes a hit song by Chiwoniso Mararire. "Others
die of hunger."
By MATTHEW LEE - 4 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration on Tuesday expanded the U.S.
watchlist of countries suspected of not doing enough to combat human
trafficking, putting more than four dozen nations on notice that they might
face sanctions unless their records improve.
The State Department's annual "Trafficking in Persons Report," the first
released since President Barack Obama took office, placed 52 countries and
territories - mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East - on the watchlist.
That number is a 30 percent jump from the 40 countries on the list in 2008.
Several previously cited nations were removed from the list, but new
countries cited for human trafficking problems include Angola, Bangladesh,
Cambodia, Iraq, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar,
Senegal and the United Arab Emirates.
The report also placed the Netherlands' Antilles, a self-governing Dutch
territory in the Caribbean, on the watchlist.
"With this report, we hope to shine the light brightly on the scope and
scale of modern slavery so all governments can see where progress has been
made and where more is needed," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
said as she released the 320-page document.
Inclusion on the watchlist means those countries' governments are not fully
complying with minimum standards set by U.S. law for cooperating in efforts
to reduce the rise of human trafficking - a common denominator in the sex
trade, coerced labor and recruitment of child soldiers.
If a country appears on the list for two consecutive years, it can be
subject to U.S. sanctions.
Seventeen nations, up from 14 in 2008, are now subject to the trafficking
sanctions, which can include a ban on non-humanitarian and trade-related aid
and U.S. opposition to loans and credits from the International Monetary
Fund and World Bank. The penalties can be waived if the president determines
it is in U.S. national interest to do so.
Those 17 countries include traditional U.S. foes like Cuba, Iran, Myanmar,
North Korea, Sudan and Syria, but also American allies and friends such as
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Malaysia, another U.S. partner, was added to the list of worst offenders as
were Zimbabwe, Chad, Eritrea, Mauritania, Niger, and Swaziland.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
VAST swathes of the country were last night plunged into darkness after Zesa
lost power supplies from Hwange and Kariba power stations.
The utility said supplies from Mozambique's Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa
and from the Zambian power grid had inexplicably gone out, leaving large
chunks of the country without electricity.
Zesa chief executive Engineer Ben Rafemoyo last night said they had fallen
back onto emergency supplies from South Africa's Eskom to power the southern
region, which remained unaffected by last night's blackout.
He said the emergency supplies were enough to power parts of the country up
to the Midlands only.
He, however, said near normal service could be expected sometime this
morning once Kariba Power Station was back on line.
At the time of going to Press, much of the capital, Mazowe, Norton and
Chitungwiza, and large parts of the country going east up to Mutare were
still in darkness as Zesa engineers tried to restore normal power supplies.
Supplies had, however, been restored to Harare's central business district
and a few suburbs in the city.
Chinhoyi also did not have electricity, but the blackout occurred about two
hours before the power outage that hit Harare and its environs around
"We are still trying to recover, but suffice to say that there has been a
system failure that has affected Hwange and Kariba power stations.
"The supply from Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa is also down and we have
also lost supplies that come from the Zambian power grid.
"We are using emergency supplies from Eskom in South Africa and so there is
no power from just after Midlands Province up to the eastern border.
"Once we recover supplies from Kariba, because Kariba does not take time to
bring back on line, we will know what exactly has happened.
"I am at the control centre right now and we are also in darkness, but once
Kariba is back we will be able to determine what took place.
"We are rushing to bring Kariba back right now and we should be near
normalcy by morning," Eng Rafemoyo said last night.
He said the restoration of power to Harare's CBD was part of the process of
recovery and more areas would have normal supplies as work progressed.
The loss of supplies from key regional partners like Mozambique's HCB and
the Zambia Electricity Supply Company raised fears that Zesa had been cut
off because of a mounting external debt.
The utility owes its regional suppliers over US$57 million that has accrued
since March this year.
This is on the back of average monthly revenue collections of US$5 million
as Zesa struggles to get customers to pay their bills, which the latter feel
are unduly high.
This has prompted the utility to threaten to cut off supplies to defaulters.
Zesa last week announced that Government had given it the green light to
disconnect those who have not paid their bills since February this year.
The power utility has announced that defaulters will be cut off from June
There were also fears that the blackout could be linked to threats by Zesa
workers to go on strike over a management decision to slash their
The workers gave the company up to June 20 - the same date that Zesa said it
would switch off defaulting customers - to reinstate the conditions of
service that were unilaterally trimmed last month.
However, Eng Rafemoyo was quick to assure the public that the blackout had
nothing to do with internal administrative issues affecting the utility.
"No, it has nothing to do with that. A blackout of this magnitude cannot
have anything to do with internal and domestic matters such as that.
"If Mr Rafemoyo fails to pay his bill, that cannot take out the power
supplies to such large sections of the country," the Zesa boss said.
By Alex Bell
16 June 2009
The Chair of the Parliamentary select committee on the media on Monday made
a verbal stand against the inclusion of 'media hangmen' in the Zimbabwe
Information Commission, saying the government will not allow the likes of
Jonathan Moyo or Tafataona Mahoso to be involved.
Tongai Matutu, the urban legislator in Masvingo, told a news briefing that
Moyo and Mahoso are responsible for the dire state that Zimbabwean media is
in because of their records of stifling media freedom. He told journalists
there would be no place for either of them on the new media regulatory
Moyo, who is the controversial former Minister of Information and Publicity,
was the architect of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA). He presided over the closure of independent newspapers
such as The Daily News and The Tribune through the now defunct Media and
Information Commission (MIC), which in turn was headed by Mahoso.
"We are not going to allow media hangmen to find themselves on the new
commission," said Matutu.
"The likes of Moyo and Mahoso will not be considered for any post because
they are responsible for the mess in which we are," he added.
The High Court has already ruled that the MIC is now null and void, but in a
sign that media reform is still a long way off in Zimbabwe, a group of
journalists were turned away from the opening of the Comesa summit earlier
this month. The four, who won a landmark case against the government on the
legality of the MIC, were refused entry to the event for not having
accreditation, despite the High Court order declaring the MIC illegal being
granted two days before.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered in Harare on Saturday for a concert
aimed at raising awareness about the importance of freedom of expression and
freeing the airwaves in Zimbabwe. The event was hosted by the Media
Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe chapter (MISA Zimbabwe) in conjunction
with Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe Trust (ADZ Trust), Savanna Trust and
Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights. The 'Free Our Airwaves' concert was
attended by more than 500 people who came together under the theme: 'freedom
of expression + access to information = people empowerment.'
During the event ADZ Trust national Coordinator, Felix Machiridza, called on
the inclusive government to open the airwaves and allow community radio
stations to operate so as to allow 'diverging and converging views to gain
access in the media.' Machiridza emphasised the need to have an alternative
voice in the media and he highlighted that Zimbabweans are tired of being
exposed to what he referred to as the 'one and only media choice,' which is
16 June 2009
On Sunday 31 May 2009 the Standing Rules and Orders Committee placed an
advertisement in The Sunday Mail calling for applications from suitably
qualified individuals wishing to be considered for appointment into the
Zimbabwe Media Commission, setting into motion plans to set up the long
The ZMC is set to replace the now defunct Media and Information Commission
(MIC). In terms of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) as amended in January 2008, Section 38 of the statutory instrument
notes the creation of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) which replaces the
Media and Information Commission. Section 38 reads: . established is a
commission to be known as the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which shall be a
body corporate capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name and,
subject to this Act, of performing all acts that bodies corporate may by law
On the other hand, Zimbabwe Constitutional Amendment 19, which clearly takes
precedence over any provision of AIPPA that is inconsistent with it,
stipulates the following: There is a Zimbabwe Media Commission consisting of
a chairperson and eight other members appointed by the President from a list
of not fewer than twelve nominees submitted by the Committee on Standing
Rules and Orders. That the ZMC now exists at law, cannot be disputed
vis-à-vis the controversy pertaining to the continued existence of the MIC
which was, however, finally put to rest in the High Court case of Stanley
Gama and Others v Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, where
Justice Bharat Patel ruled that the MIC is now defunct by virtue of the 11
January 2008 amendments to AIPPA which replaced the MIC with the ZMC.
In terms of Section 100 N the functions of the newly created, but yet to be
constituted ZMC shall include; (a) to uphold and develop freedom of the
(b) To promote and enforce good practice and ethics in the press, print
and electronic media, and broadcasting; and
(c) To ensure that the people of Zimbabwe have equitable and wide access
to information; and
(d) To ensure the equitable use and development of all indigenous
languages spoken in Zimbabwe; and
(e) To exercise any other functions that may be conferred or imposed on
the Commission by or under an Act of Parliament.
The constitutional Amendment No 19 further notes that, an Act of Parliament
may confer powers on the Zimbabwe Media Commission, including power to
(a) Conduct investigations and inquiries into
(i) Any conduct or circumstance that appears to threaten the freedom of
the press; and
(ii) The conduct of the press, print and electronic media, and
(b) The disciplinary action against journalists and other persons employed
in the press, print or electronic media, or broadcasting, who are found to
have breached any law or any code of conduct applicable to them.
MISA Zimbabwe Opinion
There are a number of aspects that arise from the advertisement calling for
nominations to the media commission. There are a number of grey areas
pertaining to the appointments and the processes leading to such
One apparent defect with the advertisement clearly lies in the fact that
there is no set process envisaged of receiving recommendations for the
commissioners from the public or civil society through a defined
consultative framework in the selection process. Yet, the supposedly
independent media commission ought to be an essentially public body serving
the public interest and should come into being through public participation.
There is also a missing link in terms of the transparency of the process
between the time of lodging the applications in question and the final
appointments as there is no provision that obliges the Standing Rules and
Orders Committee (SROC) to publish the names of those who submit their
applications, those eventually interviewed or those nominees that are
subsequently short listed for presidential consideration. It would also be
in the public interest for the SROC to publicly make known justifications
regarding the rejection or subsequent selection of short listed nominees
subject to presidential consideration.
While the SROC derives its legal authority in terms of Constitutional
Amendment No 19 there are no statutory regulations that establish the
framework for the appointment of commissioners to the anticipated ZMC.
Statutory instrument 185 of 2008 which is cited as the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy (Amendment) Regulations that had existed hitherto
were only in respect of appointing commissioners to the MIC. These
regulations have since fallen away with the demise of the MIC and are no
longer applicable with respect to the ZMC as the two bodies are separate
legal entities. What this implies is that, unless this position is sooner
rectified the resultant commission will be legally defective as there is no
legal basis that sanctions the appointment of the Commissioners to the ZMC.
Additionally, the nomination of candidates for appointment to bodies outside
parliament is a relatively novel function for the SROC that is only coming
into force with the advent of Amendment No.19. Traditionally, the preserve
of the SROC is to appoint members to Parliamentary Portfolio Committees and
the Select Committee on the Constitution.
However, at face value as per the advertisement in question, the process
being employed does not preclude the SROC from choosing [or not choosing]
applicants on partisan grounds to consolidate and further their influence
within the transitional arrangement. Also worth noting is the fact that in
terms of section 100N there is a provision that reads: To exercise any other
functions that may be conferred or imposed on the Commission by or under an
Act of Parliament". The import of this provision is actually quite scary, as
it essentially means that the other provisions can be read from outside
those expressly stated by any Act of Parliament because there is no specific
Act that is cited although this presumably refers to the amended AIPPA. In
addition parliament can actually sit and craft another Act that materially
alters or amends one or a number of provisions that have already been
defined within section 100N and it would still be legal and constitutional
because the present law is too open ended so as to allow such encroachment.
It is MISA- Zimbabwe's considered view that these issues of concern should
be revisited and considered in the public interest and to foster
accountability on the part of public bodies and institutions. MISA-Zimbabwe
reiterates its position that the setting up of the statutory ZMC should be
taken as a temporary measure that will ultimately give way to
self-regulation of the media as the best way forward and as espoused under
the Banjul Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression in
HUNDREDS of Zimbabweans will mass at a London church on Saturday to listen
to a key speech by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Prime Minister is expected to tell Zimbabwean exiles it may be time to
return home and join the rebuilding effort after a 10-year political and
economic crisis stemmed only by the establishment of a unity government on
The Prime Minister will emphasise that the situation is not perfect, but
transformation could be expedited if Zimbabwean professionals returned to
support the reconstruction effort, an aide said.
Tsvangirai, making his first visit to the
UK as Prime Minister, will also sell the unity government with President
Robert Mugabe as an imperfect but necessary union in the speech at the
Anglican Diocese of Southwark.
In a statement, the church said: "The Diocese of Southwark is closely linked
to four of the Anglican Church's Dioceses in Zimbabwe. It is, therefore, a
natural and appropriate venue for Tsvangirai to use. "
Tsvangirai's chief secretary Ian Makone has told the MDC party in the
UK that the Prime Minister is on government business and will not be
engaging in party politics.
Britain is now home to thousands of Zimbabweans - many of them
professionals - driven to turn their backs on their country by a decade-long
crisis. The new government sees the exiles as a key constituency whose
skills are needed as the country lumbers out of recession.
Tsvangirai, accompanied by a ministerial team of Walter Muzembi (Tourism),
Elton Mangoma (Economic Planning and Investment Promotion) and Priscilla
Misihairabwi (Regional Integration and International Co-operation) arrives
in London on Friday for talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and senior
The Prime Minister is on a world tour to drum up support for the fledgling
unity government but has so far received little direct support for the
government. In stops in Holland, the United States, Germany and Sweden,
Tsvangirai has bee told his government needs to carry out more democratic
reforms before government-to-government aid is restored.
The Prime Minister will speak at the Southwark Cathedral in London Bridge
(SE1 9DA) from 1PM on Saturday, June 20
June 16, 2009
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai address a press conference after talks on June 15 in Berlin.
By Our Correspondent
WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has vehemently denied that he was sent by President Robert Mugabe to beg the West to remove sanctions imposed against him and his top lieutenants by countries in the European Union and the United States of America.Speaking in an interview as he prepared to leave the United States where he met President Barack Obama and senior Senate and Congress leaders, Tsvangirai said reports emanating from Harare that he was tasked by Mugabe to come and seek the removal of the targeted sanctions were far from the truth.
“I was not sent by anyone, it was my own initiative,” he said. “I told the President that it was time to reengage with the rest of the world following a cabinet resolution on reengaging the EU and other western countries. I took the initiative – I would have stayed at home, no-one would have sent me so I think it’s just a myth cultivated to promote a certain position which is not the objective of the inclusive government.”
The Prime Minister said the problem with some elements in Zanu-PF was that when they think of the biting targeted sanctions against them they think that I am the one responsible for them being put in place in the first place.
“The sanctions came because of the gross human rights situation in our country – the killings, the torture, the wanton destruction of people’s properties, the violence – they know that the violence – we cannot go back there now – but the world could not just sit and watch people being killed and maimed. Did they expect the world to applaud them.
Yes we have the issue of the sanctions or restrictions but when there is no rule of law and people’s rights are being trampled on, the whole world cannot just watch.”
On being only the second African leader to meet Obama, who gave him a book written by Martin Luther King Jnr, Stride Toward Freedom, Tsvangirai said: “It was quite a profound experience, we had talked over the phone but we had never really met so as we met I think there was a degree of convergence and I think the discussion was very productive, it was very informative about where the United States stands and what we need to do as a country in order to earn the full confidence of the international community.”
He said the objective of his trips abroad were two-fold, the first being to seek re-engagement after Zimbabwe’s 10 years of isolation.
“Yes one of the reasons was to try and seek transitional support apart from just humanitarian support and we set to do and the American government has made a commitment – over 75 million dollars committed to the short-term transitional support until there is definitive progress on a number of issues.”
Tsvangirai said the overall objectives of his trip had been met though the initial meetings were very tough with many being skeptical about the current political arrangement in Harare.
He later addressed a meeting organized by the MDC in Virginia. He took questions from skeptical Zimbabweans whom he urged to come back home and help rebuild the country.
One asked how Zimbabweans in the Diaspora could trust the unity government when Zanu-PF was not even committed to fulfilling the conditions of the GPA.
Tsvangirai, tried to assure the skeptical audience, and even told them he had refused to eat with Mugabe on the first night they had a meeting together. He said the acrimony between him and Mugabe was legendary – ‘ as you know, he would call me Chematama and say namai vangu vaBona hazviite and all sorts of things and I would say, “Kamudhara aka kasingadi kusiya power, kauraya nyika (this old man does not want to step down from office yet he has ruined the country)” and all that.
“That is legendary and you all know it and the scars I have sustained in the process but we have both realized that acrimony does not bring food onto the tables of Zimbabweans, medicines, education and all so it is now all in the past and we are all committed to working towards a better Zimbabwe”.
Tsvangirai told his audience that Mugabe laments to him that his politburo was saying that he had sold out. He said he had told the President that he too was being subjected to accusations of selling out.
“So we have a position where we are being blamed by our parties for this inclusive government so I said then it means we have both sold out. But everyone in Zimbabwe knows that this inclusive government is the only way we can get to set our country back on the right track again and we need the Diaspora support to do that.
“You are very important to us – like the Ghanaians who send billions back home every year – we expect to come up with programs to see how best we can harness such resources through the estimated four million of you living in the Diaspora so you can all play a part in rebuilding Zimbabwe because I know, some of you came here single and are now married, have children and are not ready to go back. But we want many of you to ride on the train with us because you risk being left behind because things are changing in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe will never be the same again.”
He assured the dual citizenship problem had been resolved through Amendment Number 18 so no-one would be asked to renounce their Zimbabwean citizen once they became citizens of their new chosen countries.
Tsvangirai has since been to German where he was given full military honours. He is now in Sweden and goes to Norway tomorrow evening. He is expected to visit Denmark, Brussels, France and Britain before going back home.
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's proposal that autocratic African leaders step down in
return for immunity on prosecution is a savvy proposal which illustrates his
understanding of the realpolitik of our continent.
Zuma, quoted in weekend press reports, said: "The world has changed,
therefore let us do things differently and not emphasise punishment.
"If you are saying: 'Okay move out, but tomorrow we are going to deal with
you', then you are causing a problem with somebody saying: 'Why should I
leave when I still have power? I had better remain here'."
Zuma's observation is simple and accurate and, although he did not name any
leaders who might be offered such a deal, his comments were immediately seen
as alluding to the possible exit of Robert Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe.
Of course, such proposals are unpalatable and few would want leaders
responsible for terrible crimes, such as Mugabe's role in the deaths of some
20 000 in Matebeleland in the 1980s, to be able to walk away from their
grisly legacy untouched.
But Zuma appears to understand that there is a greater good to be served by
such a deal, which would unlock intractable situations and allow democratic
and economic reforms to take place in countries desperate for them.
He shows an understanding of African politics where power and self-interest
are often more important motivators for political leaders than the ideals
generally subscribed to in the Western world.
His comments also indicate that South Africa's foreign policy may begin to
take on a new flavour. South Africa's democratic government has, since 1994,
religiously pursed a course of multilateralism, appearing unwilling to sail
an independent course on international issues.
President Zuma's remarks suggest that a more forthright approach may
develop; a move which is certain to be welcomed by many major powers who
have long criticised South Africa for its apparent reluctance to assume its
natural leadership role on the continent.
Zuma's remarks are in stark contrast to his predecessor Thabo Mbeki, whose
obsessive pursuit of quiet diplomacy did little to advance South Africa's
A final resolution to the problems of Zimbabwe are vital to the national
interest of South Africa and it is encouraging to see signs that our new
President appreciates this fact.
Of course, there is a long road to travel before a deal can be offered to
any of the continent's less palatable leaders.
Zuma's suggestion is clearly a toe in the water as he gauges the tolerance
of his fellow African leaders to the idea. We can only hope they embrace
this new message from the continent's southern power.
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
jag@mango JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM - No..zw with "For Open Letter
Forum" in the subject line.
1. Dear JAG,
We hear endlessly from various sources that the sanctions against
Zimbabwe are only against a specific targeted elite, who roundly deserve
such punitive measures, and equally endlessly from said targeted elite
that sanctions are to blame for the economic destruction.
The reality is that for many years prior to 2000, the Zimbabwe government
had only met its obligations in terms of education, water supply, health
care, infrastructure development etc etc.. with massive support from
bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors. For example, the DDF Rural Water
Supply program costs were covered 96% by donor funds and 4% by government
of Zimbabwe in the 1990s. The Pungwe pipeline water supply for
Mutare..etc etc.. the list of donor supported programs is endless.
From 2000, the most donor nations suspended / cancelled their support to
Zimbabwe for almost all programs. A few "humanitarian only" programs
survived; mostly feeding schemes for the vulnerable and HIV support.
This withdrawal of donor support, combined with the destruction of
agriculture, mining and the rest of the economy by Zanu PF, has lead to
the complete collapse of the Zimbabwe state's capacity to provide for its
citizens. This is what is referred to as sanctions by Mugabe and Zanu PF.
To some extent they have a point; if your economy is 50% donor funds, and
these funds are withdrawn, the effect is similar to extreme sanctions.
Why Zanu PF persist in identifying the collapse of donor support as
"sanctions" is presumably because it would be embarrassing, even for such
practiced self-deceivers, to whine about the West not donating money to
them, especially in light of the continuous stream of anti-Western
vitriolic invective from Mr Mugabe. Imagine whining that the West won't
give us money with one breath and calling Blair a toilet in the next!
Much wiser to call it sanctions.
2. Dear JAG,
I am so touched and concerned whenever i read these accounts of farm
invasions and stuff. I am Zimbabwean and i have been here ever since and
knowing Zanu Pf i know what these guys are going thru.
Mugabe and co. are just playing games with us and especially the white
farmers and i sympathize with them . At the same time i am concerned
about the impact this is having on the image of the country.
Zanu Pf wants to dispossess white owned farms few at a time just to score
stupid little points and for political purposes.
What we the general populace and the MDC need is a strategy to beat
Mugabe at his game.
Lets mobilise for funds and compensate all the white farmers and even
those on the farms right now, i mean adequate compensation and then deny
these Zanu Pf the land reform gimmick.
We avoid the noise we get our country on track and consign Zanu Pf to
where it belongs - dustbin of history and once that is done am sure we
will have our politics right and those who want and can farm will always
get a piece of land to do so .
Because those whites left on their farms will always be abused by Mugabe
and mark my words as long as their political careers(Zanu Pf) are at
stake the white farmers will never know peace . They are being
sacrificed. The so called land reform is nothing but a racist scandal.
Believe me i am a black Zimbabwean but what is happening now is not about
land reform its political survival . I truly believe in land reform but
this is not it. Imagine something that has gone for 9 years yes nine bad
years but still we can't get it right!!! What a shame.
So let's think and debate about this issue and let's not make
Mugabe and co think they are the only clever people around.
3. Dear JAG,
The abyss in which our country has fallen into started a long while back.
We should have started our reconciliation process in 1980 but instead we
found ourselves both Black and White determined to undermine our hard
earned independence. We simply became greedy and the only way for the
powers to be to get forward was to play the racial game. They succeeded
in their ploy but for most who saw through this façade, they left the
country for greener pastures in the hope that all would improve sooner or
later. Unfortunately that was to be later and now in 2009, we are back to
where we started only this time, the powers that be are determined not to
share with anyone else given their intransigence to vacate the seats they
lost fair and square. What bloody sore losers they have always been.
4. Dear JAG,
I think he has just about hit the nail on the head here!
"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy
out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another
person must work for without receiving.
The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does
not first take from somebody else.
When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work
because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other
half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is
going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of
any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
~~~ The late Dr. Adrian Rogers , 1931 to 2005 ~~~
by Mufaro Gunduza Tuesday 16 June 2009
OPINION: It is an undeniable fact that globalisation and the rapid emergence
of the digital age have drastically transformed the educational landscape
the world over in every aspect. The knowledge industry has witnessed a
charming and magical face-lift in terms of the production, distribution and
consumption of skills products.
At the centre of these developments is the deep-rooted quest for sustainable
learning which recognises the convenience of embracing dynamic multimedia
articulated learning platforms.
It is a fact that the contemporary digital revolution, weird and mesmerising
as it may seem, is here to stay. Educational skeptics who initially thought
that this phenomenon was just a hype which, with time, would dissipate have
suddenly woken up to a rude awakening and found themselves outpaced by this
Old learning systems have been outpaced by new and dynamic trends. The
traditional concept of schooling inside the walls of brick and mortar has
been superseded by the phenomenon of schooling without walls.
Conventional learning set-ups have been overtaken by digital environments
and the face-to-face mode of tuition delivery is fast being challenged and
replaced by online articulated methods.
Paper environments have been eclipsed by "green-friendly" paperless
platforms which are environment sensitive and hence sustainable in the long
Straightjacket and rigid set-ups are fast giving way to flexible and
creative e-habits of knowledge making and knowledge dispensing never seen
The world has witnessed a massive showdown between physical infrastructure
(where governments have poured massive funding thus making it difficult to
let go) versus the ubiquitous multimedia learning formats and platforms,
hard learning spaces versus soft learning spaces, tangible texts versus
virtual texts, printouts versus cyber resources and pedagogics versus
webagogics in the new knowledge ecosystem.
As educationists we have realised, these developments are as fast as they
are stunning. We either have to shape up and embrace the phenomenon or ship
out into our cocoons of cowardice.
It is true that Africa was a lame duck when the historic Agriculture
Revolution took place. Likewise when the Industrial Revolution took place
Africa had no barley harvest to showcase or industrial charm to write home
It is painful to realise that despite the enormous unquestionable benefits
that the digital revolution posits Africa is somewhat still caught up in
mesmerasia and wonderment whilst other nations are busy wielding their
sickles to a bumper barley harvest!
The lack of clarity in understanding which way the digital winds are
blowing, coupled with the intransigent demon of technophobia dressed in
jeans and jackets of skepticism and afro-pessimism has not done us any good.
Whenever there is a dance we are quick to abstain because for us we are
conditioned to think that every dance is a monkey dance. We are too smart to
get entangled with monkey tails.
Academics, curriculum planners and even the wielders of the flag are
collectively guilty of this habit.
We should instead realise that yesterday's mishaps should not jeopardise
today's endeavors. In any case we are not the first or last to be at the
receiving end when it comes to slings and arrows of outrageous historical
Multimedia articulated learning platforms have effectively become the
creative launch pads in to the vast and inexhaustible expanse of potential
in the global village today.
Through these platforms some have become "chiefs" and without these
platforms some have become mere spectators and "commoners", scrounging for
their bearings at the fringes of the global village.
These virtual platforms make information readily available for anybody in
need of it in ways that make it easier to use, share, store, retrieve and
access with ease by the click of a mouse.
The world has become an information supper highway which requires digital
literacy and webagogics.
Marshal McLuhan foresaw this phenomenon in the 1970s. Critics and skeptics
dismissed him as overly ambitious and a futurist of the madness category.
Today his pronouncements have become the cornerstone of the digital terrain.
Virtual multimedia platforms such as e-libraries, e-journals, e-lectures
among others have offered us compelling and unquestionable advantages in the
production, surfing, distribution and utilisation of knowledge products.
For the first time in history the information highway has been overly and
dynamically portable, easily retrievable and readily accessible with the
magical click of a mouse.
In the past, researchers would torturously plough through mountains of
archives as well as frighteningly shelved libraries.
As an academic foot solder who has summered and wintered in this knowledge
industry I am convinced that the only way for Zimbabwe to extricate itself
from the morass of digital illiteracy is through the adoption of the
multimedia educational route. - ZimOnline
Mufaro Gunduza is a Professor of Business Ethics and Strategic Leadership.
He has taught at Zimbabwe Open University, University of Zimbabwe, Walter
Sisulu University and UNISA. He is currently developing and establishing
multimedia articulated blended learning platforms at Mount Carmel University
Without Walls. He can be contacted on email@example.com
DAVID SMITH - Jun 16 2009 07:59
The poster on the wall had an evocative black and white photograph of a man
driving a locomotive. "Zimbabwe", it said, "Africa's paradise". Handing over
an American $20 bill to the ticket seller, I asked him how old the poster
was. "Er, 1986," he replied, "The tourism office gave it to us."
I was entering Victoria Falls, described with pride by a local guide as one
of the seven natural wonders of the world. It wasn't a letdown. Standing on
the cliff top, I beheld a curtain of water turned foaming monster, an
awesome force of nature on the scale of gods and giants.
The torrents rage down more than a hundred metres into the Zambezi Gorge,
generating furious mists that swirl and soar so high they can be seen from
up to 50km away. The smoke that thunders, as it is known locally, slices the
sunlight into the perfect arc of a rainbow.
A Zimbabwean turned to me and said: "You've come to a country with constant
power cuts, and which can't feed water to its own people. Yet look. We have
On my way out, I saw a herd of seven elephants making the hoovering up of
water look stately and majestic, impervious to a surrounding flock of white
birds. Men in yellow bibs watched anxiously from afar, wondering if these
monumental creatures would encroach on the railway tracks. Zimbabwe's train
operators have been known to apologise for delays due to elephants on the
With farming still a comatose industry, tourism is an economic plank being
grabbed at by the unity government like a drowning man. Accordingly,
Zimbabwe is now trying to muster a facade of normality. Harare has just
hosted a jazz festival, Mamma Mia! has opened at in one of the theatres --
though few can afford the $20 ticket -- and the newspapers carry headlines
such as: "Deputy Prime Minister single and not searching!"
The country hopes to bask in the reflected glory of the Soccer World Cup,
starting a year from now in neighbouring South Africa. The World Cup trophy
itself is heading here in November, when Fifa must be praying President
Robert Mugabe doesn't hold it aloft before the world's cameras. Mugabe has
even invited the Brazilian national team to base its training camp here.
Perhaps he realised Harare's shopping markets would not meet the needs of
the players' wealthy spouses and partners.
But the Zimbabwe tourist board -- which still uses that slogan, "Africa's
paradise" -- has one of the hardest sells in the world. In the last year it
has endured a lot of "bad PR": politically motivated beatings and murders,
the worst national cholera outbreak since the 1930s and economic catastrophe
driving people to poverty and starvation.
If there is to be revival, it will begin at Victoria Falls, the country's
star attraction. Just as Canada has the better view of Niagara Falls than
America, so Zimbabwe has the lion's share of this spectacle at the expense
of Zambia. Last weekend, a steady trickle of tourists -- Americans,
Europeans, Japanese with their interpreter -- had decided that, despite what
they'd heard about Zimbabwe, it was worth the risk.
They posed for photographs beside a giant statue of David Livingstone, who
discovered the falls, or rather, ensured they'd be named after his queen.
The plinth is engraved with the words "explorer" and "liberator". The people
who erected the statue, for the centenary in 1955, pledged to "carry on the
high Christian aims and ideals that inspired David Livingstone in his
The hotel where I stayed continued the theme of deference to the old
colonial masters. There might have been the requisite portrait of Mugabe
above the front desk, but otherwise the walls were festooned with hunting
rifles, pictures of Henry Stanley and his prey, Livingstone, and lithographs
of thick-lipped "Africans" with titles such as: "Livingstone reveals the
Dark Continent." Perhaps the idea is to reassure white guests that nothing
has really changed since the 19th century after all.
As in so many holiday destinations, Victoria Falls exists in a cosy
self-contained bubble, away from the perils ravaging the land, making it
hard to imagine anything bad happening there. There are safaris, river
cruises, helicopter flights, twee arts and crafts shops and posh lodges
serving warthog tenderloin.
Yet you don't have to travel far for the mask to slip. Holidaymakers find to
their frustration that cashpoints are out of order and credit cards not
accepted. Drive towards Bulawayo and you are assailed by a billboard that
warns: "Cholera alert! Wash your hands with soap or ash under running
water." In every town there are long queues of people standing at the side
of the road, raising a forlorn hand in the hope of hitching a lift.
So, why would anyone come here when they could be playing safe in the first
world cities of South Africa? I asked a taxi driver if, like many other
Zimbabweans, he had considered emigrating to the big country south. "No
way," he said. "South Africa is a very violent place. Someone I knew went to
a bar there, knocked over a beer and got stabbed to death. Killed for a one
dollar beer! It doesn't go with me."
He added: "Zimbabweans don't do that. Zimbabweans are quieter and more
And from my experience, it was hard to disagree. If judged by the generous
spirit of its people alone, Zimbabwe would be a tourism magnet. But of
course it won't come down to that alone. "The notion of some infinitely
gentle/ infinitely suffering thing," wrote TS Eliot. Much gentleness, but
much suffering too. - guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2009
CONSTITUTION WATCH 3
[15th June 2009]
Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution – Work Plan
The Select Committee on the Constitution has outlined its work plan for producing a draft new Constitution by the middle of March 2010, following the mandate given to it by the Inter-party Political Agreement [IPA], Article 6. [Note: this part of the IPA has not been incorporated into the Constitution, so there is no legal back-up to the process – it is an agreement between three political parties.] To help achieve this task the Select Committee has appointed four administrative sub-committees, all chaired by members of Parliament:
· Budget Committee
· Management Committee
· Media Committee – [advertisements have already been flighted in the press for PR firms to tender to Parliament to provide media and publicity services for this committee]
· Committee to Organise First All-Stakeholders Conference
There will be other, “thematic”, sub-committees that will work on the content of the new Constitution. They will be appointed after the First All Stakeholders Conference [see below]. The Select Committee will be appointing a spokesperson, but in the meantime this role is being carried out by the 3 co-chairpersons: Paul Mangwana [ZANU-PF], Douglas Mwonzora [MDC-T] and David Coltart [MDC-M] or his alternate Edward Mkhosi. [Note: there was talk that this co-chairing arrangement would be temporary, while the principals decided whether there could be a non-Parliamentary chairperson. There has been no news on this question – it looks as if the answer is negative by default.]
Phases of Work Plan
1. Preparing for First All Stakeholders Conference
2. Country-Wide Consultations following First All Stakeholders Conference
3. Drafting of Constitution and submission to Second All-Stakeholders Conference
4. Legitimisation – debate of draft and Select Committee Report by Parliament; gazetting of draft; Referendum; [if Referendum vote “Yes”] gazetting of Bill; passage through Parliament; signature by President.
Phase 1. Preparing for First All StakeholdersConference
Identification of delegates for Stakeholders Conference
To identify the delegates to attend the Conference, the Select Committee will hold consultative meetings at provincial level, on 24th and 27th June. The Select Committee will divide into teams, backed by Parliamentary staff, which will hold a meeting in each province. The Select Committee has said that invitations to the meetings will go to groups such as traditional leaders, local councillors, churches, farmers, etc. [Comment: who gets these preliminary invitations is very important, as this will largely determine who gets to be a delegate. It would be important for civil society to submit lists of who they feel should be invited in each Province.] There will also be advertisements in the media inviting stakeholders to attend the meetings, so that any organisation or individual who has not been invited in advance can also attend. The Select Committee has said: “All Stakeholders are invited and encouraged to attend the consultative meetings as these are critical and pivotal in shaping the entire process of constitution making. The Select Committee looks forward to engaging with all Zimbabweans in the crafting of a new Constitution.”
There will be a formal registration process: recording attendees’ ID numbers, organisational details, including number in organisation and who they represent, and in the case of individuals, information about their qualifications and skills. The final selection of delegates to the Conference will be done when data from all provinces is in and when the number of delegates that can be handled has been finalised [the number will depend on funding – see below]. Organisations and individuals selected as delegates will then be notified.
Comment: There are several concerns about this process – (1) the final selection is still in the hands of Parliamentarians – it would be more transparent if they would invite civil society monitors to oversee this process; (2) it has been reported that these provincial meetings have been delayed to enable MPs to mobilise their party supporters to attend them and “people in their constituencies to their views”– whether or not this report is true, there is a fear that it could happen; (3) a large number of youth have in recent years had difficulty in obtaining ID’s; (4) about 25% of our population are in the “Diaspora” and there is no real provision for their representation; (5) a large number of farm workers with citizenship rights were disenfranchised in 2000 because they were of Malawi or other origin and although they were later entitled to reregister as citizens, because of continual displacement, many have not been able to get ID cards; (6) women find it more difficult to attend these meetings than men do because of all their other responsibilities and therefore they may be under-represented.
Agenda of Provincial Consultative Meetings
According to a statement by the Select Committee these meetings are meant “to provide stakeholders at grassroots level with an opportunity to input into the agenda of and selection of delegates to the First All Stakeholders Conference.”
Dates and Venues for the 10 Provinces
Wednesday 24th June at
Harare – Rainbow Towers; Mashonaland East – Mbuya Nehanda Hall, Marondera; Mashonaland Central – Bindura [venue to be announced]; Manicaland – Queen’s Hall, Mutare; Mashonaland West – Chinhoyi Hall
Saturday 27th June at
Matabeleland North – Lupane
to be announced]; Midlands – Gweru Theatre; Masvingo
– Civic Centre;
The Select Committee said it “has secured the resources to successfully carry out the provincial consultations”, but would “welcome any additional support as it has a mammoth task ahead”.
The First All-Stakeholders Conference
Tentative Dates: 9th – 12th July 2009 [the IPA time frame says it must be held before 13th July, three months after the setting-up of the Select Committee.]
The Agenda: The purpose outlined in Article 6(1)(a)(iii)] of the IPA is to consult stakeholders on:
· stakeholder representation in the subcommittees. [The Select Committee has decided that these will be thematic committee and is thinking in terms of 10 to 12 subcommittees, each with 30-40 members drawn from both inside and outside Parliament. The tentative themes have not been announced, as these will be finalised at the all stakeholders conference.]
· “such related matters as may assist” the Select Committee in its work. [The Select Committee has said it will be seeking assistance in planning the next stage – the public consultation process.
Civil Society could ask that the agenda includes drawing up and adopting
principles outlining what should be in a Constitution, a procedure followed in
Number of Delegates: The Select Committee proposes a conference attended by 5000 delegates, 500 from each of the country's ten provinces. [This number will be dependent on funding.]
Chairperson: The chairperson is likely to be a suitable person from outside Parliament. [The Select Committee are debating who to appoint – it is to be hoped that they will consult civic society in a transparent manner and not impose a decision.]
Phase 2. Public Consultation Process
After the First All-Stakeholders Conference, Article 6 allows 4 months for the completion of a public consultation process. The Select Committee envisages taking up 3 of those 4 months in consultations at constituency and ward level throughout the country. There are 210 constituencies and 1958 wards, and it is intended that an “outreach team” would spend 30 days in each constituency and hold 3 meetings in each ward. These teams would be appointed by the Select Committee in consultation with stakeholders and would consist of members of Parliament and members of the public. Details of how teams will be selected and how they will operate have still to be worked out. Presumably the teams would need some training and perhaps use questionnaires. [The process of selecting these teams and training them is very important – answers will depend on the calibre of the teams, the questions asked and how they are asked.]
The information collected by the outreach teams will come in to the Select Committee in the form of “raw data”. This will be sorted into relevant categories according to the thematic teams that are set up. [It is unlikely that Parliament will have the capacity to do this exercise, and civil society could offer expert technical help. It is important too that the records or the raw data coming in from wards is kept and made publicly accessible]. As the raw data from the wards is collated into themes, each thematic committee will debate the data and work on it to produce their contribution to a report – this is estimated to take a month. Each thematic committee will keep a copy of their report as a record, one copy will go to the Select Committee and another copy to the legal drafting team. [We have requested that these reports should also be make public.]
The public consultation process should end by mid-November this year.
Phase 3. Drafting
After the conclusion of the public consultation process, the IPA allows three months for the preparation of the draft Constitution [Article 6.1(c)(iii)]. The legal drafting team will be appointed by the Select Committee. [Comment: It would be against the spirit of the new Constitution process for members of the drafting team to be drawn solely from the Attorney-General’s Office. Some of our most expert legal drafters are not in Government service, so it is hoped that they will be drawn in.]
The draft Constitution must be tabled to the Second All-Stakeholders Conference before the expiry of the three months period. It is very puzzling that the IPA does not state the role of this Second Conference. The Select Committee sees this Conference’s task as being to check the draft Constitution against the data resulting from the public consultation process and to correct errors in the draft, but not to introduce new content.
Phase 4. Legitimisation
1. Tabling of Select Committee’s Report and Draft Constitution in Parliament
Within one month of the Second All Stakeholders Conference, the draft Constitution must be tabled in Parliament together with a report from the Select Committee on whether they feel they have carried out the mandate as given to them in the IPA. The draft Constitution and the Select Committee report will be debated. Presumably MPs and Senators will be free to express their views on the draft Constitution, but the draft Constitution cannot be changed – because Article 6.1(b) states that it is “the draft Constitution recommended by the Select Committee” that must be submitted to a Referendum [see below]. The debate must be concluded within one month.
2. Gazetting of draft Constitution
The draft Constitution emerging from Parliament must be gazetted “before the holding of a Referendum:” [Article 6.1(c)(vii)]
The Referendum must be held within three months of the conclusion of the debate in Parliament.
4. Passage through Parliament
If the Referendum results in a “Yes” vote, the draft Constitution must be tabled in Parliament not later than three months after the Referendum [Article 6.1(c)(ix) and (x)]. [This delay seems extraordinary – the IPA time-frame allows a month for printing and gazetting the Bill, even though, because the draft will have been typeset for the referendum, this could be done in a few days.] Then there has to be 30 days between the gazetting of the Constitutional Bill and its tabling in Parliament [Constitution, section 52]. Then the IPA allows a further month before the Bill has to be tabled. [It is astonishing that an administrative process that could be accomplished in just over a month is allowed 3 months – exactly the same period allowed for consulting the whole country about what they want in the Constitution.] Once the Bill for the new Constitution is tabled in Parliament for debate the IPA timeframe comes to an abrupt halt. Parliament can take as long as it likes over passing the Bill. [Perhaps the Stakeholders Conference should try to get Parliament to commit themselves to a time-frame. Also, there is nothing to prevent Parliament from amending the Bill. Legally, the power of Parliament to make changes to the Bill remains unaffected by Article 6 – because the Article was not included in Constitution Amendment No. 19. But it would in breach of the intention of the IPA for the parties to countenance any change to the draft approved in the Referendum. This issue should be clarified at the First All Stakeholders Conference.]
4. President’s assent and gazetting of new Constitution as law
The final stage will be the submission of the Bill approved by Parliament for signature by the President and its subsequent gazetting as law. In theory the President would be free to withhold his assent. [The IPA committed the President to signing Constitution Amendment No. 19, but not the new Constitution. This is also an issue that should be clarified at the First All Stakeholders Conference.]
Further details on the Process will be distributed as they become available.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.
For those who have not experienced the peculiar perspective of Zimbabwe’s state-controlled media, here’s an example in the form of ZBC coverage of the legal struggle for Mount Carmel farm (published on Friday 12 June). Please note, this farm is protected by a SADC ruling. Follow the links at the end of this blog for full details and background on the Mount Carmel situation.
White farmers cause chaos at Dr. Shamuyarira’s farm
White farmers have regrouped themselves at Mount Carmel, a farm allocated to Zanu-PF Politburo member Dr Nathan Shamuyarira in Chegutu where they are causing chaos in clear desperate attempts to reverse the land reform programme.
The situation at Mount Carmel and Tyford farms in Mashonaland West Province was tense when ZBC News arrived.
The white farmers Bruce Campbell, Ben Freethe and Meredith had regrouped in their battle to try and evict ZANU PF politburo member Dr Nathan Shamuyarira and the party’s Central Committee member Cde Jimayi Muduvuri.
Dr Shamuyaria’s farm manager Cde Landmines Madongonda said on different occasions, the white farmers escorted by foreign journalists came to the farm to provoke the farm workers so as to create ugly scenes which could then be used to create false stories.
He said on Thursday the white farmers came and took away the farm workers’ food, clothes and a DDF tractor which was later recovered in Chegutu after being dumped there.
Cde Muduvuri who is facing the same problem said he is now worried about the constant visit and resistance by the white farmers and foreign journalists and says they are bent on stage managing events within the farms so as to come up with stories that tarnish the inclusive government.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Justice National Co-ordinator Advocate Martin Dinha warned the white farmers to stop playing games reminding them that the Global Political Agreement signed by the three political leaders has clearly stated that the land reform is a closed chapter that cannot reversed.
The new wave of farm disturbances by white farmers who are now working in cahoots with hired foreign journalists have been described by observers as blatant attempts bent on discrediting the inclusive government by stage managing some form of chaos within the farms.
Some sections of the western media have claimed that there are fresh farm invasions in Zimbabwe reports which have been dismissed as untrue by the inclusive government.
Archived blogs on Mount Carmel Farm