The sundaytimes uk
Dan McDougall and Robin Hammond
Mutare, Zimbabwe – Published: 17 June 2012
VIOLENCE still haunts the Marange diamond fields of Zimbabwe despite a deal
that allows President Robert Mugabe’s regime to sell gems free from the
taint of being called “conflict diamonds”.
Witnesses have described continued shootings, beatings and the use of dogs
by soldiers, police and private guards against illegal miners in the remote
east of the country, where geologists uncovered the largest diamond reserves
in modern history, a find thought to be worth £2 billion-a-year to the
An impoverished victim from Mutare, the closest big town to the fields,
described being shot in the face by soldiers. He said he had seen four
friends murdered and others beaten after digging for diamonds near a gem
The 35-year-old man claimed he had been recruited to dig for stones by the
soldiers who had later killed his colleagues and disfigured him for life.
“We agreed to share the proceeds,” he said. “They said for every five
diamonds that we get, we give them one or give them two.
“But when we were digging there was a change of officers — soldiers that
were not used to seeing us. They came to surround us and started firing on
us, using live bullets, and as we were running away they then fired on us
using big guns. There was no warning given.”
He had escorted the four bodies of his friends to a mortuary and then taken
them home for burial, he said. The witness, whose face bears the scars of
the attack in August last year, claimed the soldiers had been trying to
eliminate them all so there would be no witnesses to the atrocity.
Other accounts suggest the violence has persisted. Two former diamond miners
who fled to South Africa said they had been assaulted by police and private
guards at Marange.
One victim, who has the scars of dog bites on his shoulder and thighs, said
the pair had been shot at and guard dogs set on them as they attempted an
illegal dig. According to both exiles, now living in the Western Cape, they
were attacked as they took advantage of a strike at a Chinese-run mine.
“We had been digging to the west of the complex when a private patrol came
through on a pick-up truck with searchlights and they started shooting at
us,” he said. “They weren’t aiming across us as a warning. They didn’t care
if we were killed.”
He added: “Another patrol came in with dogs and we were bitten on the legs
and buttocks and some of us in the head. I saw two other miners being
stabbed with bayonets before I escaped. We don’t know if they made it out.
We were worried the men who were captured would talk and the police would
come for us. So we fled.”
Since Mugabe’s government seized a British company that owned the Marange
fields at gunpoint in 2006 hundreds of lives have been lost there.
As the scale of the diamond deposits emerged, illegal miners were driven off
by the army, with helicopter gunships deployed in a massacre in 2008. That
led to a ban on exports of diamonds in 2009. Under the United Nations-backed
Kimberley Process, which monitors the world trade in diamonds, Marange gems
were allowed back on to markets in November last year.
Global Witness, an environmental pressure group in London, withdrew from the
certification scheme in protest. Britain and the US are trying to expand the
organisation’s definition of “conflict diamonds” to include those mined amid
human rights abuse.
Zimbabwe and other African nations want to keep the original remit, which
prevents rebel groups using the proceeds of diamond sales to fight
According to Alan Martin, of Partnership Africa Canada, which campaigns
against human rights violations in Marange, the violence makes a mockery of
the official definition of conflict diamonds. “The main perpetrators of
violence in the diamond industry today are no longer rebel movements, but
government forces and private security companies,” he said. ”
HARARE, June 17, 2012—Deputy minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Obert
Gutu had questioned Obert Mpofu’s source of wealth after the Mines minister
concluded the acquisition of troubled bank, ZABG.
Mpofu recently bailed out the bank after agreeing to invest in an asset
backed transaction that involved the transfer of assets to the bank. The
assets include York House, one of the tallest buildings in Bulawayo.
Mpofu’s investment rescued the bank from closure after it had battled to
meet the US$12,5 million minimum capital requirements.
Writing on the social networking site, Gutu who is the MDC-T spokesperson
for Harare province said it was impossible for a government minister to
splash US$22 million on a bank.
How a Government Minister in a struggling economy like Zimbabwe can ''raise
'' US$22 million and buy a whole bank surely boggles the mind..... Am I
missing something here? Whither the diamonds of Marange and Chiadzwa. I will
call this a festival of looting,” Gutu wrote.
The posting drew the ire of Gutu’s followers who accused Mpofu of looting
the country’s resources.
Gutu became the second MDC-T official to question Mpofu’s wealth after the
party’s secretary general said last month it was unbelievable that civil
servants earning US$800 were now buying jets.
“There is no doubt that a small coterie of individuals is benefitting from
Zimbabwe diamonds. Some of us who are benefitting are not afraid to flaunt
our monies. We are buying all kinds of assets,” Biti told stakeholders
attending a diamond workshop last month.
“I am a government minister and earning US$800. How do I buy some of the
assets that we are buying?”
“People are now buying private jets because of our diamonds.”
Mpofu has in the past said his wealth is not ill-gotten and has evidence to
Bulawayo, June 17, 2012- A senior Zanu (PF) official aligned to the Emmerson
Mnangagwa faction is being investigated for illegal printing party cards
which were dished out to faction members during the District Coordinating
Committee elections (DCC).
Addressing the party’s women’s league seminar in Darwendale on Friday,
President Robert Mugabe said he heard received reports that a senior party
official was clandestinely printing party cards which were distributed in
Masvingo, Manicaland and the Midlands provinces.
Mugabe said police were investigating the matter and the official would be
named and corrective action taken in due course.
Sources in the party told Radio VOP on Saturday that the counterfeit cards
were discovered during a recent DCC election audit carried out by the
party’s commissariat department in some provinces where the elections were
marred by allegations of rigging.
“Most people who voted in the DCC election in Manicaland did not have valid
cards .They voted using the fake cards. Some of the cards were recently
discovered stashed in a Toyota twin cab belonging to a senior Manicaland
party official who is closely linked to the Mnangagwa camp,” said a party
source that refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
The disgruntled members of the Mujuru faction who lost most of the DCC
elections are said to have raised the issue at the party’s last politburo
Bulawayo, June 17, 2012- Chiefs are likely to get all terrain 4x4 vehicles
soon under a loan scheme from the cash strapped government, Local Government
Minister, Ignatius Chombo has said.
Chombo said the loan scheme is similar to the Parliamentary Vehicle Loan
Scheme for legislators and Senators, adding that chiefs deserve the cars to
upgrade their status.
Parliamentarians were last given close to US$30 000 under the vehicle loan
“We are contemplating a car scheme for chiefs similar to that of MP’s
because they are also politicians,” Chombo said in an interview.
Chiefs last got vehicles from the government in 2004.
Chiefs have been demanding 4×4 vehicles like Toyota Land Cruisers, saying
the vehicles befit their status.
The Local government Minister said “chiefs should also be paid more because
they are getting peanuts.”
The statements by Chombo follows revelations by Finance Minister, Tendai
Biti that treasury is crippled by huge expenditure like salaries and debts
Traditional leaders early this year demanded an array of “perks” including
diplomatic passports, control of the Constituency Development Funds that are
given to parliamentarians to develop their constituencies, guns, boosters,
electricity, cellphones, and money for booking at hotels when they travel
outside their areas of jurisdiction.
Some chiefs have been instrumental in Mugabe’s victory in previous elections
as they coerced their subjects to support him, threatening villagers with
expulsion and violence.
In past general elections, Zanu PF doled out incentives, which critics have
described as vote-buying.
Written by Chengetai Zvauya and Mugove Tafirenyika
Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:41
HARARE - MDC MP for Hurungwe West Severino Tall Chambati has been suspended
by his party following intra-party violence which left several members
injured in Zvipani district in Mashonaland West last weekend.
Chambati who is the chairperson of MDC Zvipani district was suspended and
barred from doing any political activities in his constituency on behalf of
the party until investigations into the matter are concluded.
The decision to suspend Chambati was passed by MDC Mashonaland West Province
during the provincial executive committee meeting held in Chinhoyi last
Japhet Karemba, chairperson of the MDC Mashonaland West Province confirmed
“We have suspended him for inciting public violence in breach of the party’s
code of conduct. He is suspended from conducting any political activity in
the constituency. We are going to inform the national executive of the
decision we have reached as a committee on Chambati,” said Karemba.
Karemba said they were waiting for Nelson Chamisa, the party’s National
Organising Secretary to visit the province this weekend to investigate the
incidences of political violence in Hurungwe West Constituency.
Chambati said he was not surprised by the decision taken by the province as
it was their intention to politically unseat him.
“I was not at the meeting and I have not been given the chance to explain
myself on what happened last weekend. But I did not cause any violence in my
constituency, it is all fabrication.
This is part of the political problems we are facing in our province,”
Chambati told the Daily News on Sunday.
MDC supporters clashed in Hurungwe West Constituency last week resulting in
several members getting injured in the ensuing mayhem.
There were ugly scenes particularly in Zvipani district between members
aligned to provincial organising secretary Wilson Makanyaire and Chambati.
Chambati accuses Makanyaire of seeking to elbow him out of the race to
represent the party in the forthcoming general elections likely to be held
MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told the Daily News on Sunday that his
party has since deployed a team to investigate the fracas.
The district has of late become a political hotbed with violent clashes
between supporters of the MDC.
In the run-up to the party’s national elective congress held in Bulawayo
last year, supporters of rival factions clashed in what the activists termed
the Zvipani Declaration in which they drew up a list of their preferred
candidates to national executive posts.
Written by Thelma Chikwanha, Deputy News Editor
Sunday, 17 June 2012 13:40
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has castigated beneficiaries of the land
reform programme who are not utilising the land allocated to them warning
they risk having their land re-distributed.
Speaking during the Women’s Assembly meeting held at the Zimbabwe Institute
of Public Management (Zipam) on Friday, Mugabe said he was disappointed by
some of the beneficiaries who are now leasing out the land to commercial
“Land is not being utilised fully, some of the land is being farmed by
whites. We shall sit down with them and warn them. If you are not interested
in the land we will take it back,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe’s remarks come at a time when the country once regarded as the
continents' bread basket has literally become a basket case as it is failing
to feed its own people.
After the chaotic land reform programme which started in 2000 more than 4
000 white commercial farmers lost their land which was redistributed to
about 160 000 people, the majority who are Zanu PF card-carrying members.
According to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), during its peak,
agriculture employed over 20 000 people, but after the land reform programme
16 000 jobs were lost.
The manner in which the land reform programme was carried out crippled the
sector which used to contribute significantly to the country’s economy.
At its pick Zimbabwe was able to export its surplus grain to other countries
in the region but now the country which consumes 1,8 million tonnes of maize
is failing to feed its people and has to import from countries that it used
to supply with grain such as Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.
The country needs to import 500 000 tonnes to avert hunger this year.
Mugabe who has been asked to intervene on behalf of farmers whose
electricity was cut off by Zesa after failing to settle their bills, blamed
the MDC for the problems bedevilling the agricultural sector.
“Electricity bills are a problem to everyone. These delays are because the
MDC does not want to promote agriculture. They want it to appear as if
blacks are not good farmers so that they can bring back the whites. That
will not happen. We will never again allow our land to be in their hands,”
On 15 April 2010 Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leaders Jenni Williams,
Magodonga Mahlangu, Celina Madukani and Clara Manjengwa were arrested and
spent six days in detention in filthy conditions in Harare Central Police
holding cells after a protest over Electricity supply and high costs. Upon
their release on 20 April, instructed their lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights (ZLHR) to petition the Supreme Court as the conditions
constituted inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of draught order
by Staff Reporter
They were also seeking an order compelling the government to ensure that
holding cells at Harare Central Police Station meet basic hygienic
conditions. Part of the petition was that their detention also resulted in
gender discrimination and called for alterations in structure and procedure
to cater for women prisoners.
WOZA cited the co-Minister of Home Affairs, Police Commissioner-General
Augustine Chihuri and Attorney General Johannes Tomana as the respondents.
The state respondents were represented by Advocate Goba and Ms Mashiri from
the AG's Civil Division.
Advocate Lewis Uriri, Advocate Taona Sibanda, all member lawyers of ZLHR,
Dzimbabwe Chimbga and Bellinda Chinowawa of ZLHR represented the activists.
The activists spent their time in custody in a dark smelly corridor
surrounding 10 cells that that they could not occupy due to human waste
scattered all over the floors.
Five Supreme Court Judges namely, Justice Vernanda Ziyambi, Justice Rita
Makarau, Justice Paddington Garwe, Justice Yunus Omerjee and Justice
Anne-Mary Gowora convened the court in Harare Central police stations and
conducted the inspection of the police cells. The inspection was to provide
visual verification as to conditions and during the inspection the 4
activists were called upon to respond to questions. After an hour long
inspection the court reconvened with a reading out of the observations and
presentation of the Heads of argument and state response. After the lengthy
arguments the court reserved judgement at 4:20 pm. Current trends indicated
that a ruling will be granted within 6 months.
WOZA leaders observed that great attempts had been made by the Police to
remove the 'human waste bomb' that had been apparent on the first floor cell
unit during their arrest. But the respondents who ordered this clean up as a
way to 'rig' and tried to make Harare central suddenly 'habitable' should
realise that no amount of floor polish can dignify the undignified
conditions that prevail. However the cleaning up has gone a long way to
remove the offensive smell that permeated not only the cell chambers but
wafted its way into the charge office.
WOZA recognise this as a significant victory for activism but wish it would
not have been at the behest of a legal battle but out of common decency.
Nevertheless WOZA thank the police for this clean-up effort which will be
felt by staff and detainees alike. As the police continue to disrespect
constitutional right to freedom of assembly and arrest WOZA members it is
most likely that during these visits members will continue to check that the
new standards of cleanliness observed with the Supreme Court judges
inspection continue to be adhered to.
Ruling will decide if Britain is right to expect deportees to protect
themselves by dissembling
Emily Dugan Author Biography
Sunday 17 June 2012
Attempts by the British Government to force asylum-seekers to return home
and lie about their political allegiance to avoid persecution will be
challenged in the Supreme Court tomorrow. Thousands of people sheltering in
Britain face deportation to some of the world's most brutal regimes if the
Government wins the landmark legal battle.
The test case, to be heard over two days, focuses on the experience of a
31-year-old Zimbabwean woman known as RT, whose asylum claim was rejected in
2009. The Government argues that she can hide her opposition to the ruling
party Zanu-PF and the country's despotic leader Robert Mugabe.
But the Appeal Court ruled in October 2010 that if RT, and others like her,
are sent back to a country such as Zimbabwe and face interrogation about
their politics, Britain could not require them to lie. The Home Office
appealed, asking the Supreme Court for a final decision.
Jawaid Luqmani, RT's solicitor, said: "It is an issue of principle. If you
are effectively saying, 'it's all right, you just go back and lie', you have
the UK condoning lying as a means of self-preservation, and that smells
He said that the case would have an impact beyond Zimbabwean asylum-seekers,
as the same arguments would apply "to a number of autocratic regimes".
RT comes from an area of Zimbabwe that is a stronghold for the opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). She left the country 10
years ago and came to Britain on a student visa, later seeking asylum in
2009, saying she was afraid to go back.
Dave Garratt of the charity Refugee Action said it was a matter of principle
that "a person should not be expected to lie about their political belief in
order to avoid persecution upon return to their country of origin". He
added: "Even if they were willing to do so, individuals may struggle to
convince the authorities of their loyalty to the regime. This may be for
reasons of length of time spent in the UK, or their unfamiliarity with the
political messages, activities or even campaign songs that they may be
required to recount."
The challenge to the Home Office stems from a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that
gay asylum-seekers should not be deported if their safety is dependent on
them lying about their identity. But the ruling could also apply to other
cases where Britain is deporting people on the expectation that they can lie
about other issues, such as their politics or religion.
Dakarayi Mtisi, an immigration solicitor, said: "There are thousands of
people from countries with oppressive regimes waiting on this case. Once the
decision comes the reasoning behind it will be equally applicable to other
The Border Agency said it is appealing "to clarify the extent to which the
strength of an individual's political beliefs should be taken into account"
when considering their claim.
But legal experts say the Government is trying to set a precedent that will
force people to go home and pretend that they support unpalatable regimes so
the UK can reduce immigration numbers.
Mr Mtisi said: "You can't compel someone to lie. Britain is saying you must
lie so that you can go back safely. It means the UK is trying to run away
from its international obligations under the UN convention."
Molly Ngaivambe is one whose fate could rest on the outcome. The 50-year-old
Zimbabwean is a member of the opposition MDC who fled to Britain in 2001.
Last year she was told that she could be safe if she returned to a different
part of Zimbabwe and simply kept quiet about her politics.
"It doesn't work at all. I can't pretend to support Zanu-PF," she said.
"They'd need you to have a card and do their slogans. Everything we are
suffering is because of Zanu-PF, so how can I pretend I support them? People
are dying because of them. The Home Office said I would not be at risk if I
went to Matabeleland, but I'm not from there and I can't even speak the
Judith Dennis of the Refugee Council said: "We're very worried that
government asylum policy is geared towards keeping people out. If people are
going to be persecuted then they have to be recognised as refugees. We have
to provide protection.
"The refugee convention says you must not return people to a country where
their life or freedom would be threatened. Asking people to lie threatens
that – and the principle of what it means to be free. It would be very
concerning if as a result of this case people were forced to choose between
persecution and freedom."
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: "The UK has a proud record of offering
sanctuary to those who need it, and carefully consider each individual case.
But where they do not qualify for protection they must return to their home
June 17, 2012 10:16 AM ET
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -A half-century by opener Hamilton Masakadza set up an
11-run win for Zimbabwe over Bangladesh in the opening match of the Twenty20
tri-series on Sunday.
Masakadza hit four sixes in his 62 off 35 balls at Harare Sports Club to
kick-start Zimbabwe's innings of 154-6. Captain Brendan Taylor added a
measured 38 off 47.
Fast bowler Chris Mpofu then took 2-20 to help restrict Bangladesh to 143-5.
Tamim Iqbal (38) and Mohammad Ashraful combined for a 61-run opening stand,
but Bangladesh lost 4-38 afterward to fall short.
Seamer Kyle Jarvis dismissed Mahmudullah in the last over to seal victory,
with Nasir Hossain stranded on 29 not out.
Bangladesh plays the other team in the series, South Africa, in the next
game on Tuesday.
Vigil supporters are disappointed that South Africa is still harping on about removing sanctions at a time when all pressure should be focused on getting intransigent Zanu PF elements to stop impeding the reforms Mugabe signed up to in the Global Political Agreement.
President Zuma’s foreign policy advisor Lindiwe Zulu says the restrictive measures are not working (http://www.swradioafrica.com/2012/06/15/zulu-criticised-for-supporting-removal-of-zim-sanctions/ – Zulu criticised for supporting removal of Zim sanctions). It was the same line taken by the South African former judge, Navi Pillay, the UN Human Rights Commissioner after her visit to Zimbabwe last month.
The rationale for their call is obscure. Yes the sanctions are not working because they are not ending human rights abuses for which they were imposed. But do they think that if the sanctions are lifted Zanu PF will suddenly be willing to implement the GPA?
We do not believe this is the case and neither apparently does the MDC’s Treasurer-General Roy Bennett who spoke in an interview on SW Radio Africa (see: http://www.swradioafrica.com/2012/06/15/transcript-of-roy-bennett-on-question-time/ – Transcript of Roy Bennett on Question Time). Roy was asked whether he thought Zanu PF would honour the GPA. He said Zanu PF was divided but those in control were not going to walk away from the immense riches in their hands. He said ‘there is a serious battle ahead for the people of Zimbabwe and at the end of the day it is the people of Zimbabwe that have to stand up and claim their future and claim their rights’.
As to the riches he is talking about, informed sources speak of billions of dollars a year in unaccounted revenue from diamonds and gold.
What we want to hear from the South Africans is not Mugabe propaganda but how exactly they propose to deal with the threatening situation in Zimbabwe, chillingly recounted in Cathy Buckle’s latest letter (Already in the barracks? – http://www.cathybuckle.com/index.php?id=86).
For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.
FOR THE RECORD: 76 signed the register.
EVENTS AND NOTICES:
· Official launch of ROHR Slough Branch. Saturday 23rd June. ROHR Founder Ephraim Tapa will be present. Meeting at 2 pm for the election of an interim Slough Executive and new member registration (venue to be advised). Fundraiser from 6 pm. Venue: 100 Lounge Bar, 100 High Street, Slough SL1 1HL. Music, food (including BBQ) and drink available. For more information: Mary 07946 072 989, Ernest 07989 859 427, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook: www.facebook.com/RohrZimbabweSlough. For flyer check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/sets/72157630113563426/detail/. Please call, text, email or facebook to confirm attendance.
· Zimbabwe Action Forum. Saturday 30th June from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
· Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 30th June from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB. Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria. www.swazilandvigil.co.uk.
· Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/the-vigil-diary/363-vigil-highlights-2011. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.
· The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.
· ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.
· The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: www.imusicafrica.com and to watch the video check: http://ourvigil.notlong.com. To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: http://Shungurudza.notlong.com and http://blooddiamonds.notlong.com.
· Vigil Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8157345519&ref=ts.
· Vigil Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/zimbabwevigil.
· Useful websites: www.zanupfcrime.com which reports on Zanu PF abuses and www.ipaidabribe.org.zw where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk.
CONSTITUTION WATCH 2012
[16th June 2012]
After SADC Summit Constitution-Making Process Speeded Up
The communiqué of the SADC Heads of State Extraordinary Summit of 1st June in Luanda, urged the GPA political parties “to finalise the constitution-making process and subject it to a referendum thereafter”. The communiqué also made it clear that SADC expect the process to be complete before the country goes to elections, as it called on the parties “ to develop an implementation mechanism and to set out time frames for the full implementation of the Roadmap to Elections”. The Roadmap [available from email@example.com] stresses that the constitution must be in place before elections.
This pressure from SADC has had an impact on both the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee [COPAC] and the Management Committee who seem to be making a determined effort to expedite their work. It has also had an impact on all other stakeholders in the process, in whom confidence has been restored that the process will be completed. With all the President’s rhetoric of elections this year with or without a constitution, many people had started to think that the process might just be dragged out until elections were proclaimed and would then be abandoned.
Position at 1st June
On 1st June [as recorded in Constitution Watch of 1st June] the position was that COPAC had – on 31st May – successfully completed its “audit” of the first draft of the constitution for compliance with the instructions given to the three lead drafters, but had been unable to reach consensus on new demands for substantial changes to the draft made by ZANU-PF in a 29-page document commenting on the draft, a document which was “totally rejected” by MDC-T – causing a problem needing referral to the Management Committee.
Progress from 1st June to Date
The Management Committee did not meet last week to discuss the 31st May deadlock over the ZANU-PF demands, because the Select Committee decided to resume meetings to have another look at them – presumably taking into consideration the SADC pressure to finalise the constitution-making process.
On 6th June the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs told the House of Assembly that the Select Committee had been meeting to consider the comments submitted by the political parties and that two documents were being prepared for the Management Committee: “a document of agreed issues and a document of disputes”. The object of the exercise was for the Management Committee to know precisely which issues needed their attention.
On June 7th a COPAC press statement said “we would like to inform the nation that drafting is almost complete”.
On 11th and 12th June – Monday and Tuesday this week – the full Select Committee finalised its documents for the Management Committee. This set the stage for the Management Committee to meet [see below].
In fact the final draft is not almost complete. The Select Committee did not during its meeting resolve all the issues. They managed to agree to compromise on some of ZANU-PF demands but there are still major disagreements between the parties in the process. A major sticking-point is still devolution.
Management Committee and Drafters to Meet 17th to 20th June
The Management Committee has set aside from the evening of Sunday 17th to Wednesday 20th June for a “retreat” at a venue outside Harare, during which it is intended to resolve the issues that have been holding up the finalisation of the second draft of the constitution. The three lead drafters [Justice Chinhengo, Mr Crozier and Mrs Madzonga] have been summoned to be there.
Reminder: the Management Committee consists of:
· the negotiators of the three GPA parties – Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche for ZANU-PF, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila Ndlovu, who replaced Welshman Ncube, for MDC, and Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma for MDC-T. [As they are all government ministers, they have sometimes had stand-ins if out of the country on government business; for example Emerson Mnangagwa has stood in for Mr Chinamasa, and Jameson Timba for Mr Biti.]
· the COPAC co-chairs, and the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.
The three lead drafters will be expected to modify the first revised draft, which has been widely publicised [available from firstname.lastname@example.org]. The drafting will start immediately, using the COPAC document of agreed revisions. Simultaneously, the Management Committee will be meeting to iron out the disputed issues. As each issue is ironed they will give further instructions to the lead drafters. It is hoped by the end of the “retreat” to come up with a second draft. Whether they will be able to do this remains to be seen. If issues are still unresolved they will be taken to the party principals.
Next stage: Second All Stakeholders’ Conference
If a final draft does emerge after the Management Committee and drafters’ “retreat”, then the next stage is the preparations for Second All Stakeholders Conference.
In their 7th June press statement the COPAC co-chairs said that as drafting was “almost complete” the Committee was now “seized with preparations for the next stage of the process, which is the convening of the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference”.
But, no date for the Conference was mentioned in the statement. This is not surprising because the date will obviously be dictated by when the second draft of the constitution is completed and approved by the principals.
Nor did the statement go into detail about the preparations for the conference. Important pre-Conference actions that have been mentioned in previous COPAC press statements include the following:
· translation of the draft into all vernacular languages and into Braille – a considerable undertaking in itself
· printing of the draft in large numbers for distribution to participants in advance of the Conference – presumably in time to permit them to study it, consult their constituencies and formulate positions to be aired at the Conference
· a “mini-outreach” to explain the draft and help people familiarise themselves with it – an obviously desirable exercise.
In March COPAC announced that the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference would be limited to 2 500 delegates – 1 500 fewer than the 4 000 that attended the First All Stakeholders’ Conference in July 2009. It is to be hoped that the reduction in numbers will assist COPAC to avoid the confusion that characterised so much of the First All Stakeholders’ Conference – when pre-Conference registration of delegates was inordinately slow and inefficient, there were failures in accommodation and catering arrangements, and the opening, when it eventually happened very late, was disrupted by a noisy and violent invasion of the conference hall, and proceedings had to be aborted. The second day also started with continuing logistical problems. All in all, the Conference was not generally conducive to meaningful contributions from delegates.
Civil Society Needs More Information on 2nd Stakeholders Conference
Civil society organisations have been meeting to strategise for the Second All Stakeholders’ Conference. But it is difficult for them to finalise their submissions until the draft is out. Also, numbers of sectoral and provincial representation need to be made known to them. It is hoped that, as numbers are limited, Parliament and political parties will not swamp the process. Civil society draws on a large constituency of educated and informed Zimbabweans, some of whom have been considering constitutional issues for twenty years or more. But such people – academics, practising lawyers, judges, prominent business people, senior NGO officials etc – cannot be expected to drop their other commitments at very short notice. And they will be reluctant to participate in the sort of disorganised scrimmage that occurred at the First All Stakeholders’ Conference. Many were deterred from participating at outreach meetings because of late notice, noisy disruptions especially in Harare, etc. Those attending will also need sufficient time to study the draft constitution and formulate positions and submissions for the Conference. Organisations to be represented at the Conference will need to be given adequate notice of the date and numbers of delegates so that they can make proper preparations.
For a process that is supposed to be for the people, the people have been kept in very much in the dark. There have not been enough official statements explaining the long delays in the process since COPAC was set up on 12th April 2009. It is understandable that there are behind-the-scenes disagreements with three disparate political parties at the helm, and no doubt COPAC wanted to maintain confidence that the process was proceeding smoothly, but in the face of a four-year delay COPAC’s overly optimistic and bland press reports have resulted in a certain cynicism. It would have been more encouraging to keep the public accurately informed all the way. A big problem for the public has been the contradictory interviews given by COPAC members to the press to explain the delays. The latest COPAC signed press release illustrates this: “The Select Committee also takes this opportunity to correct reports in some sections of the media that the process has stalled because of bickering amongst the political parties.” But COPAC co-chairs and spokesperson had stated individually to the media that there was this problem. It would also have helped the public to gauge whether the draft really does capture “what the people said” if the National Report on the outreach stage and the Diaspora and written submissions had been made public.
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