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Nation faces risk of retributive violence
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE – Visiting Amnesty International Secretary General, Irene Khan says
Zimbabwe faces the risk of plunging into retributive violence if government
continues to ignore calls to prosecute perpetrators of last year’s political
Irene khan, Amnesty Internaional
She described the human rights situation in Zimbabwe as “precarious” while
socio-economic conditions remained desperate for ordinary Zimbabweans.
“The government is advised to inaugurate a plan for national healing,” she
said, “but Amnesty International is convinced that without justice there can be
no real healing in a country deeply polarized by decades of political
This she said was being caused by the continued failure by police to
investigate violence cases involving Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
supporters who were victimised by vindictive Zanu-PF supporters last year.
Khan was speaking to journalists at the end of her six-day tour of
Her visit was aimed at assessing the country’s human rights situation and the
commitment of the government to end human rights abuses.
Khan who met top government officials, civic society groups and victims of
political violence, said she had an “open and frank dialogue” with government
officials who allowed her “full and free access” to places she wanted to
Khan said that during her tour she had met junior police officers who said
they had been instructed by their superiors not to accept reports from MDC
“Impunity remains unaddressed,” she said.
“The culture of impunity remains deeply entrenched at every level of the
state. No major investigation or prosecution has been brought against those
responsible for State sponsored political violence.
“Despite the pledge in the Global Political Agreement to bring all
perpetrators of political violence to justice, senior ministers from both
parties told Amnesty International that addressing impunity was not a priority
for the government.
“Police officers had been instructed by the superiors not to investigate
cases involving MDC supporters.
“The failure of the state to respond increases the risk of retributive
Khan said government’s “blatant disregard” of impunity was in sharp contrast
to the demand for justice, redress and reparations from the victims of violence
she met in Bulawayo and Harare.
The Amnesty International boss also bemoaned the continued arrest of
journalists, human rights and MDC activists for “malicious persecutions”,
commercial farms invasions by Zanu PF supporters, the “grave” education crisis
She continued, “The conditions in Zimbabwe’s prisons are deplorable with
serious food shortages and lack of medical care leading to high levels of
“The government informed us that out of a prison population of 15 000, 970
prisoners died between January and May 2009.
“We see no progress on security sector reform. Elements in the police, army
and other security features have been key perpetrators in human rights
“Reform of the security sector is urgently needed yet we have got no clear
indication from the government as to whether, how and when such reform will
“This lack of clarity has led to many human rights activists and ordinary
Zimbabweans to fear that should violence erupt again, the State security
apparatus will fail to protect them and might even be used against them.”
The human rights activist met Vice President Joice Mujuru, Defence Minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa and Home Affairs co-ministers Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo
She also met David Coltart (Education); Didymus Mutasa (Minister of State in
the President’s Office); Sekai Holland (National Healing); Jessie Majome, deputy
minister of Justice and Lovemore Moyo, the Speaker of Parliament.
A scheduled meeting between Khan and President Robert Mugabe failed to take
place for unexplained reasons.
But she is expected to meet Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is
currently on a tour of Europe, in London on Monday next week.
She will take her recommendations to government and the international
community who will prescribe the way forward.
It is the first time that the head of Amnesty International has visited
Without justice there can be no real healing in Zimbabwe
Amnesty International General Secretary Irene Khan listens to testimonies of
political violence victims, Zimbabwe, 16 June 2009
© Amnesty International
Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan (right), with Zimbabwean
human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, 14 June 2009
© Amnesty International
18 June 2009
Amnesty International has a long and consistent record of campaigning on
human rights issues in Zimbabwe, going back more than 40 years.
Amnesty International mission comes at a critical juncture in Zimbabwe's
history, nine months after the adoption of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)
and four months after the setting up of the inclusive government, following a
decade of political crisis marked by high levels of human rights violations. The
purpose of the Amnesty International mission has been to assess the human rights
situation and the commitment of the government to end human rights abuses and
bring about reforms in line with the GPA, and to make recommendations to the
government and to the international community on the way forward.
with the Vice- President Joice Mujuru, Minister of Defence Emmerson Dambudzo
Mnangagwa, Minister of Education David Coltart, Minister of State in the
President's Office Didymus Mutasa, Deputy Minister of Justice Jessie Majome,
Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi, Minister of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa,
Minister of State (National Healing) Sekai Holland, Speaker of the House of
Assembly Lovemore Moyo. The delegation met with Minister of Housing Fidelis
We did not get an appointment with the President although we had
requested a meeting with him. I will meet with the PM in London on Monday 22
We appreciate very much the open and frank manner with which the
government has engaged with Amnesty International and the full and free access
that we enjoyed.
We also met with a wide range of civil society
representatives in Harare and Bulawayo, and with men, women and children in
urban and rural areas, including survivors of political violence and other human
rights abuses. We visited a rural community near Bulawayo, urban settlements for
displaced people and a primary school in Harare. We also met with
representatives of the diplomatic community from African and western
Our findings are based on extensive research just prior to the
mission as well as on the meetings and discussions we had during this
Our overall assessment
• Although the
level of political violence is significantly less compared to last year, the
human rights situation in Zimbabwe remains precarious, the socio-economic
o Human rights defenders, journalists, teachers
and lawyers continue to be intimidated, harassed, threatened, detained and
charged, often for malicious prosecutions.
o Prosecutions are being
pursued against 15 political activists and human rights defenders who were
abducted last year while their complaints of torture during the disappearance
has not been investigated.
o Seven MDC activists who "disappeared" in
2008 have not been found. When we raised their cases with the two Home Affairs
Ministers, they assured us that the individuals are not in police custody but
could not say what has happened to them.
o The right to peaceful protest
continues to be severely restricted. As recently as yesterday, we received
reports that a number of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) activists were beaten by
the police and at least eight of them were arrested for carrying out a peaceful
demonstration in Bulawayo.
o Despite public commitments, four months into
the inclusive government, no broadcast license has been issued to independent
media. Instead, several journalists have been threatened, arrested and are being
prosecuted for exposing police misconduct.
o Farm invasions persist, with
violence affecting both farmers and farm workers. According to the UN, during
2009 more than 2,800 farm worker households have been affected by the
o The desperate economic conditions have led to severe denial of
economic and social rights of millions of Zimbabweans who are suffering from
food shortages, serious health threats and a crisis in the education system.
o Four years on, most of the victims of Operation Murambatsvina are still
without adequate housing and redress.
o The conditions in Zimbabwe's
prisons are deplorable, with serious food shortages and lack of medical care
leading to high levels of deaths. Out of a prison population of 15,000, 970
prisoners died between January - May 2009.
The culture of impunity is deeply entrenched at
every level of the state. No major investigation or prosecution has been brought
against those responsible for the state-sponsored political violence. Despite
the pledge in the GPA to bring all perpetrators of political violence to
justice, senior ministers from both parties told Amnesty International that
addressing impunity is not a priority for the government. [Except for one
reported case against three ZANU-PF supporters in Chiredzi in April this year,
Amnesty International is not aware of any investigation or prosecution to
address the political violence.] Low and middle ranking police officers told us
that they have been instructed by their superiors not to investigate cases in
which MDC supporters were victims. Victims have confirmed that when they have
approached the police, their complaints have gone unaddressed.
tolerance of impunity is dangerous because it is seen by the perpetrators,
whether police, security officials or political party activists, as a license
for continuing to threaten, attack and intimidate opponents.
government's blatant disregard of impunity is in sharp contrast to the demand
for justice, redress and reparations from the victims and survivors of violence
that our delegation met. The failure of the state to respond increases the risk
of retributive violence. [This has led some people to take it upon themselves to
retrieve their stolen chickens, goats and other property from those who had
attacked them in 2008, increasing the threat of violence and violations of human
The government is about to inaugurate a plan for national
healing but Amnesty International is convinced that without justice there can be
no real healing in a country deeply polarized by decades of political violence.
• No progress on security sector
Elements in the police, army and other security officials
have been key perpetrators of human violations in Zimbabwe. Reform of the
security sector is urgently needed, yet we got no clear indication from the
government as to whether, how and when such reform will happen.
of clarity has led many human rights activists and ordinary Zimbabweans to fear
that should violence erupt again the state security apparatus will fail to
protect them and might even be used to against them.
sense of urgency to implement the GPA
The Global Political
Agreement provides a framework for major human rights changes but the commitment
to implement it is neither strong nor consistent in all parts of the Government.
The National Security Council has not met since March. The Joint Operational
Monitoring and Implementation Commission – the key oversight body of the
government on the GPA - is not functioning properly. Some elements of ZANU-PF
see the use of violence as a legitimate tool to crush political opponents and
retain power. They are either resisting or undermining efforts to introduce
human rights reforms, or paying lip service to human rights and simply biding
time until the next elections. There is also an inclination on the part of some
parts of the MDC to ignore human rights concerns for the sake of political
expediency. The effort the MDC makes to locate the disappeared activists will be
a test of its commitment to human rights.
Persistent and serious human
rights violations, the failure to introduce reform of the police, army and
security or address impunity and lack of clear commitment amongst some parts of
the government are real obstacles that need to be confronted by the top
leadership of Zimbabwe.
The government must give as much attention to ending human rights violations
and securing human rights reforms as they are giving to seeking economic
resources or ending sanctions.
• The lack of resources is no excuse for
human rights violations. Ending attacks on human rights defenders, teachers,
lawyers and journalists or political opponents, lifting restrictions on the
media, allowing peaceful public protests do not require money. They require
• For the climate of intimidation to end, President Mugabe
and Prime Minister Tsvangerai must make public statements instructing their
respective party activists to stop harassing, intimidating, and threatening
political opponents, teachers, lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders.
• The constitutional reform process is potentially a vehicle to create a
new culture for diversity. The creation of the inclusive government means that
Zimbabwe has no political opposition. The voice of civil society becomes all the
more important in the absence of political opposition. Civil society has to be
given space to debate, discuss, protest and mobilize different points of view,
to participate fully in the constitutional consultations and in the creation of
the National Human Rights Commission and Media Commission.
• No meaningful
debate can take place without a free media. Licenses should be issued to
independent newspapers and the airwaves must be liberalised as a matter of
priority. National and international media should be allowed to operate freely.
Such actions require neither additional money nor new laws.
• Freedom of
assembly, association and expression are recognised in the GPA and must be
• Amnesty International is not naïve. We fully realise that
these measures are unlikely to be respected without external support and
pressure. The polarization that exists within Zimbabwean politics is mirrored in
the polarization in the international community towards Zimbabwe and that is
reducing the impact of external pressure on Zimbabwe.
• We call on the
international community – both African governments as well as western ones – to
work together to develop a common human rights strategy on Zimbabwe. The
universality of human rights demands that both regional and international actors
treat the human rights situation in Zimbabwe not just as a regional concern but
as an as a matter of international concern and support. More specifically,
o We call on President Zuma of South Africa as the Chair of SADC, to
provide leadership by broadening the range of international actors and adding
more effective accountability and oversight measures on human rights progress
under the GPA.
o We call on all governments – African and western – to
develop a commonly agreed set of criteria and process for measuring the human
rights performance of Zimbabwe and for supporting the Zimbabwean government to
deliver against those criteria.
o We call on the Zimbabwean Government
to invite the High UN Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a presence in
the country to support human rights reforms and monitor progress.
human rights assessment is grim but it should not be used by donors as an excuse
to withhold funding that could make a critical difference to humanitarian needs
or major human rights reforms. We believe humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe
should be expanded but should be done in a way that is transparent, accountable
and enhances human rights.
o A recurring theme during our meetings with
Zimbabweans in poor rural and urban communities was education: poor parents
cannot pay the levies on education, they are being forced to make impossible
choices – between food and schooling; between educating their son or their
daughter. International assistance must be provided in a way that allows the
government to abolish all primary school fees and levies, and to invest both in
retaining teachers but also in providing teaching material and improving
schools. The children of Zimbabwe must not be made to suffer for the political
failure of their government or to political differences between their government
and international donors.
Progress on human rights has been slow. Words
have not followed action. Nevertheless the adoption of the Global Political
Agreement and the setting up of the inclusive government has changed the
political dynamics, and there is an opportunity for all parties, national and
international to build on that development.
As head of state, commander
in chief of the armed forces and leader of the country for the last three
decades, President Mugabe and those around him have a special responsibility to
rise to the challenge of delivering on the GPA and particularly on the hardcore
human rights issues.
The international community must overcome its
polarization and find common ground, based on human rights, to help Zimbabwe
back on its feet.
Progress on human rights has been woefully slow. The people must not be held
hostage to the political ambitions of their leaders.
Khan talks about Zimbabwe
(Audio clip, 18 June 2009)
Tsvangirai's away, spin doctors play
The Zimbabwe PM's trip to Europe and the
US has been a triumph - not that
you'd believe it reading the pro-Mugabe
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 June 2009 15.30
Press coverage of the current visit of Zimbabwe's prime minister,
Tsvangirai, to Europe and the United States in the slavishly
Zimbabwean media makes interesting reading.
Penned as it
is by die-hard Zanu (PF) loyalists, it gives an insight into
the workings of
the mind of a power-crazed monster - intent only upon
winning the next
election, no matter what.
Tsvangirai's trip has been a triumph. It marks
the welcoming back into the
fold of the international community of a pariah
state. He has been feted,
honoured, saluted and lauded by the world's most
powerful leaders. Much has
been made of his personal courage and democratic
credentials. Millions have
been pledged for humanitarian aid.
Herald has done nothing but criticise the trip - making much of the
Tsvangirai's "failure" to fill the state coffers with western money. A
recent opinion piece by The Herald's political editor - The rise of a
predatory state - accused Tsvangirai of touring western capitals rather than
sorting out the problems at home. It also claims the new government is doing
little to get agriculture back on its feet and is putting human rights and
democracy ahead of putting food on the table.
government would have us believe that if [Johannes] Tomana
General) is fired and [Jestina] Mukoko (a human rights
activist) is freed
then we will have food on our tables and money in our
pockets," said The
Herald. "Where is the state while farmers scrounge around
for resources so
that they can feed the nation?"
This is a fundamentally flawed argument,
say analysts, given that the
previous Zanu (PF) government oversaw the
destruction of the country's
agricultural production, the collapse of the
economy and the ruination of
relationships with the west.
the constant sniping at Tsvangirai and his officials demonstrates
(PF) is keener than ever to see the unity government fail.
Tsvangirai's trip has raised millions in new money. For obvious
none of this money is going directly into government coffers. This
Zanu (PF) hawks, whose survival depends on the party patronage
directly from the Reserve Bank under Gideon Gono, are out of
Mugabe and his generals, Zimbabwe's survival has nothing to do
survival of Zimbabweans.
Therefore Tsvangirai is of no use
to them. They successfully used him to
regain legitimacy for Mugabe as
president of Zimbabwe, and thought they
could use him to get the west to
withdraw targeted measures against him and
his cronies. But it
And now, the next election is uppermost in their minds.
they need to portray Tsvangirai as a failure. The spin is fascinating:
Tsvangirai has failed to get money for the new government (because Mugabe
continues to refuse to honour the power-sharing agreement they signed in
February); Tsvangirai has failed to get sanctions lifted (because Mugabe
persists in human rights abuses); Tsvangirai has failed to put food on the
table and medicine in the hospitals (because Mugabe maintains a stranglehold
on all economic activity through the patronage system); Tsvangirai has
failed to attract foreign investment despite swanning about in the global
corridors of power (because Mugabe continues with the land invasions and
nationalisation of mines and refuse to allow a return to the rule of
And so it goes - laughable from a free press vantage point;
believable to the relatively unsophisticated voting populace who
the country after an estimated four million with any form of
skill and expertise have voted with their feet.
detained WOZA members, badly beaten and denied medical treatment
It has been established that five WOZA members and three
arrested after six peaceful protests were violently broken
up by police in
Harare today. Four women, including Clara Manjengwa and
Maria Majoni, remain
in custody in Harare Central Police Station. One woman
who had been arrested
with her baby, and the three journalists, have been
The four women who remain in custody have all been badly beaten
and are in
severe pain. All had been processed to be taken to Parirenyatwa
when Law and Order officers instructed that they were no longer
receive medical treatment. The women's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa,
by Law and Order officer, Mundondo, that is was because
Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights (ZLHR) had "stage-managed" the peaceful
protests to embarrass
the authorities during the visit of Amnesty
Irene Khan. Ms Khan had been giving a press
conference just prior to the
start of the protests before leaving the
The peaceful protests had been held to commemorate International
Day, held annually on 20th June. WOZA traditionally marks
Refugee Day as we believe Zimbabweans are refugees in their
own country -
displaced, unsettled and insecure. The aim of these peaceful
Bulawayo and Harare was to remind the inclusive government and
that the people of Zimbabwean remain the victims of this crisis.
Zimbabweans deserve to enjoy the full rights of citizenship; amongst
the right to earn a living, the right to personal security and the
adequate shelter. The actions of the police in both Harare and
Officer Mundondo in particular, are further evidence that the
authorities have no intention of treating Zimbabweans as citizens
rights and continue to act with impunity.
The three journalists,
including one from the state-owned Herald newspaper,
were arrested for
covering the protests and the brutal beatings that ensued.
established that one of the journalists was from The Herald,
they tried to
release only him. The other two (independent) journalists
refused to accept
this and all three were released without charge.
Having established that
all four arrested members were in severe pain,
defence lawyers arranged for
them to be taken to hospital. The women had
been processed to be taken and
were informed that the delay was only due to
waiting for an appropriate
escort when police abruptly changed their mind -
punishing the women for
"embarrassing the state".
Ms Mtetwa was also warned that police are
considering bringing charges
against ZLHR for "stage-managing" the
It is thought that the women are being charged with disturbing
the peace -
Section 37 1 a of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
the fact that WOZA leaders recently appealed these charges at
Court and had been informed that the charges do not apply to
The members still in custody in Bulawayo are facing
the same charges and are
expected to be taken to court tomorrow
Please phone Harare Central Police Station on +263 4 777777 to
the four women be released immediately so that may receive
treatment. Ask Officer Mundondo why these innocent women are being
for asking to be treated with dignity.
among arrested group as police crackdown on WOZA demo
By Alex Bell
A journalist, in Harare for a press conference by rights
Amnesty International, was arrested along with a group of
of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), after police launched
a brutal crackdown
on the peaceful demonstration on Thursday.
WOZA members were marching through the capital as part of the group's
traditional commemoration of International Refugee Day on Friday. During
similar protests in Bulawayo on Wednesday, eight WOZA members were arrested
and scores of others beaten when police set upon the peaceful group with
brutal force. The same situation was repeated, but with more brutality on
Thursday, when hundreds of WOZA members and supporters took to the streets
Six simultaneous protests had been organised to march to
Thursday afternoon, but police who had been patrolling the
streets in the
city centre used force to immediately stop three of the six
WOZA members and supporters that had gathered were beaten with
then dispersed. Riot police then intercepted the fourth protest
offices of The Herald newspaper, violently beating the peaceful
As the last two protests were nearing their target, Parliament,
again descended and began to brutally beat the group. Police
demonstrators as they dispersed, continuing to randomly beat
and detain them
as they moved away.
SW Radio Africa's Harare
correspondent, Simon Muchemwa explained on Thursday
that eyewitnesses to the
brutality included scores of media representatives
who had gathered for the
Amnesty International press conference. It's
understood that the journalist
who was arrested was busy recording the
vicious beating of a WOZA member,
and by Thursday evening it was still
unclear if the journalist had been
released. WOZA officials by the evening
were still trying to complete a
headcount of their members involved in the
demonstration. WOZA leader Jenni
Williams confirmed that at least four
members who were arrested were being
transferred under police guard to
hospital, because of the injuries
sustained during the police beatings.
Meanwhile, only one WOZA member who
was arrested in Bulawayo on Wednesday
has been released, on medical grounds.
The remaining seven are being held at
Bulawayo Central Police station and
the whole group is set to appear in
court on Friday to face charges of
disturbing the peace.
Director General granted bail, but remains in police custody
18 June 2009
MDC Director General Toendepi Shonhe, who was
arrested on allegations of
perjury on Tuesday, was on Thursday granted bail
by a Harare magistrate. But
he remains in police custody as the State
immediately opposed the magistrate's
The Director General had
been granted bail of US$500 with stringent
reporting conditions. But rights
lawyer Charles Kwaramba said, as has become
the norm in Zimbabwe, the State
prosecutor invoked Section 121 of the
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act,
which suspends a bail order for seven
days. The State does not have to give
a reason for invoking this Section.
However, the accused person's lawyer
Alec Muchadehama immediately challenged
the constitutionality of this
Section, saying the Attorney General's office
is abusing a court process to
punish individuals. Muchadehama said this
Section has no place in a
democracy and he wants the matter taken to the
Kwaramba said since the inception of the law in 2000, "Statistics
in all the cases where the prosecutor has invoked Section 121,
either not appealed to the High Court, or no appeal has succeeded
High Court. So what is the reason for using this section? It is
Magistrate Jackie Munyonga is expected to make a ruling on the
by the MDC lawyers on Friday.
The MDC CEO is accused of
'lying under oath,' when he swore to an affidavit
that three members of his
party had been re-abducted early this month.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights said the three, Terry Musona, Lloyd
Tarumba and Fanny Tembo, who the
State has listed as State witnesses in the
pending trial of several MDC
members and civic activists abducted in 2008,
were reported missing from
their homes in Banket in early June. They were
later located and Shonhe
withdrew his application from the High Court.
Muchadehama said the Director
General had filed the application in the High
Court to simply protect the
'disadvantaged persons of his party,' who had
already been abducted, held
incommunicado and tortured for several months in
2008. However, State
Prosecutor Allen Masiya opposed bail, even though one
of the 'state
witnesses' confirmed Shonhe's testimony.
Kwaramba told SW Radio Africa:
"One of those members confirmed before the
Judge President that 'yes, we are
being forced to testify in court. We are
actually victims of abduction'. How
then do you say Shonhe has lied under
oath? As far as we are concerned it's
just continued harassment."
MDC Minister Nelson Chamisa and MP Paul
Madzore were in court on Thursday.
The defence lawyer said he hoped they
will go to Parliament and tell their
peers that the Attorney General is
abusing the law.
Meanwhile the MDC said in a statement on Thursday it is
dismayed by the
continued detention of Shonhe on trumped-up charges of
perjury and demanded
the immediate release of its senior employee.
Lawyers challenge constitutionality of draconian law
Harare Magistrate, Jackie Munyonga, will tomorrow make a ruling on
application made by MDC lawyers challenging the constitutionality of
121 sub section 3 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, which
invoked suspends a bail order from the
Tomorrow's ruling comes after the State had
denied the granting of bail to
MDC director-general, Toendepi Shonhe.
Shonhe, had his bail ruling on
trumped-up charges for perjury reserved to
today, but the State opposed the
ruling by the magistrate on granting him
bail after it invoked the draconian
Section 121 sub section 3.
been granted a US$500.00 with stringent reporting conditions. The MDC
lawyers, however, challenged that the Section derogates the provision of the
Constitution and cited that it was being abused by the Attorney-General's
The lawyers then applied for the matter be referred to
the Supreme Court on
the premise that it ultra vires the
The MDC is contesting that since the inception of that law
in 2000, there
has been no appeal that has been successfully prosecuted by
the State. The
AG's office is not using the Act professionally or
objectively against those
it perceives to be political
Shonhe, who is being charged for perjury under Section 183 (1)
Law and Codification Reform Act, is accused of having lied under
he swore to an affidavit that three members of the MDC had been
by State security agents.
The three activists, Lloyd
Tarumbwa, Fani Tembo and Terry Musona, had been
taken by the State security
agents from their homes in Banket for interviews
at the Attorney General's
Office. The MDC calls for the immediate release of
Media lawyer's trial deferred to an unspecified date
The trial of media and human rights lawyer, Alec
Muchadehama which was
scheduled for 17 June 2009 failed to commence after
the Attorney General's
office indicated that it could not continue with the
The Attorney General's office through its
prosecutor Andrew Kumire,
communicated that it intended to join another
unspecified person to the
proceedings and therefore needed more time to
gather the requisite evidence
where after the trial proceedings would then
resume upon notification to the
Commenting on the new
developments, Beatrice Mtetwa who was representing the
Muchadehama said that
this was an apt sign of abuse of the Attorney General's
for purposes of persecution. She further noted that
Kumire was not even
appraised as to the correct factual position of how the
Muchadehama is being charged under section 184
of the Criminal Evidence and
Procedure Act for obstructing the course of
justice. The charges arise from
allegations that Muchadehama connived with
Justice Bhunu's clerk in
facilitating the release on bail of freelance
Andrison Manyere from Chikurubi Maximum Prison and
Movement for Democratic
Change activists Kisimusi Dhlamini and Gandhi
Mudzingwa who were under
hospital detention at the Avenues Clinic.
re-engages EU for first time in seven years
By Tichaona Sibanda
The Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was in Brussels, Belgium on
where he re-established contact with the presidium of European
These were the first official talks between the EU and Zimbabwe in
years. The EU delegation was headed by Javier Solana, the EU foreign
chief and included several commissioners.
Solana assists the
Council in foreign policy matters, and also acts on its
behalf in conducting
political dialogue with third parties. The EU
commissioner for development
and humanitarian aid Louis Michel said, after
talks with Tsvangirai, that
the meeting laid the foundation for a renewed
relationship between the
European Union and Zimbabwe.
Michel warned however, that clear progress
was needed on 'certain sticking
points.' A number of sticking points remain
in the Global Political
Agreement; mainly the reappointment of Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono and
the hiring of Attorney-General Johannes
Last month Tsvangirai said the negotiations on the outstanding issues
'slow and frustrating process.' The EU on Wednesday waived a travel
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and two other ministers on the eve
major meeting in the Belgian capital.
The EU slapped a travel ban on
Mugabe and over 150 of his senior lieutenants
following a contested
presidential ballot in 2002 which, it said, Mugabe won
brutalising his opponents.
Chinamasa was expected to join Tsvangirai's
delegation, which also includes
fellow ZANU PF member and Foreign affairs
Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi,
Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Economic
Planning Minister Elton Mangoma,
on Thursday morning. They are set to meet
with EU Ministers for further
Commenting on the
visa waiver for Chinamasa and Mumbengegwi, Stephane
Toulet, the French
Deputy Ambassador to Zimbabwe said the arrangement was
"It was a decision made after a consultation of all EU
partners in Zimbabwe
and Brussels. The decision is meant to promote human
rights and good
governance in Zimbabwe and to re-engage Zimbabwe with the
EU," Toulet said.
Christian leaders to warn Zimbabwean PM on Mugabe links
By Trevor Grundy,
June 18, 2009
[Ecumenical News International, London] Zimbabwe's prime
Tsvangirai, is to address Zimbabweans living in exile in
Christian leaders, when he visits London on June 20 to
brief them about the
situation in the beleaguered southern African
Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister of Zimbabwe in February.
after a bitterly contested presidential election in 2008 with
Robert Mugabe that eventually led to an agreement to form a unity
In an interview with Ecumenical News International, the
Rev. Qobo Mayisa,
secretary general of the London-based Council of
Leaders, said, "We want to tell our new prime minister
that people here
believe he is trying too hard to please Robert Mugabe. We
Tsvangirai has good intentions but there can be no healing in
without truth and justice."
The CZCL describes itself as "a
body of Christian leaders and professionals
in the United Kingdom who are of
Zimbabwean heritage." The group adds that
it seeks "to promote justice and
peace within the Zimbabwean community."
Tsvangirai is presently on a tour
of the United States and Europe to raise
the image of his bitterly divided
and close-to-bankrupt country. In Britain,
he is to speak at Southwark
(Anglican) Cathedral in south London.
The Diocese of Southwark has links
to four Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe,
which gained its independence from
Britain in 1980.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party won a
parliamentary election, and at the same time also won the first
round of the
presidential election but the government's electoral commission
there should be a run-off poll because Tsvangirai had not achieved
sufficient majority. Tsvangirai pulled out of the run-off, and cited
violence against his supporters for this decision. Mugabe went on to
presidential election that the international community has not
Subsequent mediation by former South African president Thabo
in the power-sharing agreement.
"Justice must prevail,
and as Christians we are simply not interested in
reconciliation between Tsvangirai and Mugabe -- all the
shaking hands and
pictures of them smiling in the papers," said the CZCL's
chairperson of the group, the Rev. Levy Moyo, said most Zimbabweans in
respected Tsvangirai. "But he must not be seen as the man who saved
Mugabe," said Moyo.
"Thousands of ordinary people have been tortured by
the army and police
under the regime of Robert Mugabe," added Moyo, who is
an Apostolic Church
minister long resident in Britain. "They must never be
On June 26, also at Southwark Cathedral, the CZCL is to hold
a service of
solidarity with victims of torture in Zimbabwe.
launches newsletter to counter state propaganda
By Lance Guma
Fed up with negative publicity emanating from state owned media
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office has launched a weekly
updating people on the 'progress and problems' in government. The
of the newsletter, made up of 40 000 copies, was distributed on
"This is in line with the new governance culture of transparency
accountability, which is one of the key commitments of the global
agreement," the newsletter read.
The Prime Minister's
office said the newsletter was an opportunity for
people to air their views
and opinions about the new inclusive government.
The development however
highlights the inability of the state owned media to
embrace ZANU PF's
partners in the coalition government, and to report
objectively on their
efforts. Tsvangirai's world tour, for example, has been
projected as an
'assignment from Mugabe' for the Prime Minister to go and
sanctions against the ruling elite removed.
Even after the unity deal was
sealed in February this year the MDC has
continued to receive negative
coverage from the state media. Last week the
MDC had to issue a denial after
the Herald newspaper falsely reported that
their Ministers had snubbed the
recent COMESA summit. "The malicious
fabrications betray the reality that
there are some people in certain
political parties who continue to abuse the
state media to mislead the
nation," a party statement read. The MDC added
that this was coming from
people who wanted to derail the
This week MDC legislator for Mbizo, Settlement Chikwinya
tabled a motion in
Parliament calling on the Executive to bring before
Parliament a repeal or
amendment of any pieces of legislation that curtail
media freedom. Chikwinya's
motion also raised concerns over the continued
abuse of the state media. He
called on Parliament and the Information
Ministry to immediately constitute
the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe,
and grant licences to other players
in the field.
Newsreel spoke to
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director Mcdonald Lewanika
who noted that it
was a bit strange for the Prime Minister to have to use a
counter media that was owned by the state. He however said the
plus side of
the move was that it showed Tsvangirai was pursuing a policy of
transparent in his work, something Lewanika felt was commendable.
the state media continued to paint a negative image of the MDC, he
was all about the next election and ZANU PF was not willing to build
still stand - McGee
June 18, 2009
HARARE - The outgoing United States ambassador to Zimbabwe,
James McGee said
sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe will remain in force until
respects human rights, the rule of law and private
McGee was speaking to journalists after paying a courtesy call
President Joice Mujuru to bid her farewell after being recalled by
"America's position regarding sanctions still
stands, until such a time as
when certain reforms such as the rule of law,
human rights and private
property are observed," McGee said outside Mujuru's
McGee said the global economic recession had eroded America's
country no longer had the capacity to give substantial
financial aid not
only to Zimbabwe but to other developing countries. He
said the US was
struggling to feed its own people.
experiencing an economic crisis. America has not been assisting
countries as much as it would have loved to," he said.
"Because of the
global economic crisis, America is at a situation were it is
why it should give priority to Zimbabwe or Asia when its own
financial assistance," McGee said.
The outgoing ambassador had a stormy
relationship with the Zimbabwean
government which accused him of alleged
"undiplomatic outbursts and meddling
in Zimbabwe's political
McGee said he was going back to the US military where his
specialty would be
When pressed to explain what he meant,
his response was curt: "You'll find
The US ambassador who was
taunted in the state media when news of his
imminent departure was announced
slammed President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party
for what he termed "their continued
mismanagement during the move to a unity
"We want to see
all the Government of National Unity partners observing the
letter of the
agreement," said McGee.
"That means improvements in the rule of law,
which is not happening. Farm
invasions are continuing; in fact, two farm
workers were shot by police two
days ago two black farm workers trying to
make a living. Now what kind of
rule of law is that? You're told by one
group of authorities you can return
to the farm and you're shot by another
set of authorities."
McGee is less optimistic about the role of the MDC
party in the inclusive
government. He said that party did not have enough
clout in government to
push for more reforms.
"Zanu-PF controls the
Central Bank and the security apparatus, and that's
very important. The MDC
controls Parliament, finance and local government.
"Zanu-PF still has the
ability to say 'we will do what we want', and there's
nothing the MDC can do
about it. This is where I talk about the lack of
political will. And what
can the MDC do about it? Their options are
McGee said in
spite of all criticism that the US was not forthcoming in its
support of the
inclusive government, his country had poured in billions of
assistance to Zimbabwe.
"We have put $1, 5 billion into Zimbabwe since
2000 and donor countries
combined have brought in a total of $5 billion. In
the last year alone the
US gave $250 million to Zimbabwe and we want to
increase that funding this
year. So it's not fair to say the US is not doing
enough to assist Zimbabwe.
We are doing a hell of a lot."
Saturday, Obama said he would give US$73 million to the people of
not to their government.
The outgoing ambassador also said comments in
the media that he was friends
with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai were
Media reports suggested that because the MDC leader played
golf with McGee,
the ambassador was a partial figure in Zimbabwean politics
to the MDC.
McGee said there were a number of
Zanu-PF officials that he plays golf with.
"A lot has been said about Jim
McGee playing golf with Morgan Tsvangirai.
But I have relationships with
senior Zanu-PF officials," he said.
so many police?
Zimbabwe is a small country with thousands of police
who are not protecting
people. I have never before seen such a country which
has got such a big
number of police and soldiers!
If you walk around
Zimbabwe you can find that every corner where you walk
there is police and
soldiers. On one day I saw quite a number of young boys
heading to Mukwati
Building. When I asked one of these youngsters 'where are
you going', he
said, "We are going to Mukwati to collect our salary". He
also told me he is
a soldier. Now, I think that the boy I was talking to is
maybe 17 to 19
Why is the government still employing so many army and
police while the
country has no money? Where are they getting the money to
pay these people?
Every 20 to 30 kilometres you find a roadblock . what is
the use of
roadblocks? The security is one sided. There is no opposition
brings arms into the country, it is Zanu PF who brings in arms
friend China. Pliz SADC bring election to save the poor people of
What is needed now is to rebuild the country which he had
destroyed with his
company Zanu PF. Every Zimbabwean I talk to we says
should go for elections
which must not be monitored by people from both
parties. We all know there
is no way Mugabe will release all the ministries
which are so important to
him. He makes sure he keeps his thugs with
The militias are now deployed in rural areas. The people believe
mission is to intimidate old people so that when election comes
vote for Mugabe. The attendance of people at MDC rallies is also
fear in Zanu PF so people think they want to re-start the violence
during 27 June 08 run off where they killed so many people. Zanu PF
totally lost stratagy of campaigning. SADC should tell all parties to
free and fair elections which will save the people of Zimbabwe.
should be monitored by SADC, AU, EU and UN so that it will be fair
everyone. No one from should be seen close the
This entry was posted by Harare activists on Thursday,
June 18th, 2009
Can I Have a Dollar, Please?
Jun 2009 14:41 GMT
By Alex T.
MY COUSIN, Bessie died last week. She was only 37. She had
not been very
well for a long time. She had been away for a lengthy
Her husband, our mukuwasha brought her back to the village in her
state. She stayed there, in her place of birth until her final
cared for by maiguru, her mother and the extended
There is very little in the village. Things are tough. It is here
forgotten tribe of Zimbabweans reside and try to eke out a living -
tribe of the rural dwellers.
As usual funerals are the rare
occasions when the city-types meet with this
forgotten tribe. They come to
pay their last respects. They also come with
provisions to cater for the
mourners. The city types come face to face with
the sad reality of rural
life. There is no US dollar here. There is no Rand.
But the sense of
community remains intact. You have to admire the spirit.
Men and women come
from all corners to bury one of their own. And so on this
came together to bury their daughter for everyone here is
An uncle from the city went down to the village cemetery. There he
usual types - the men who whenever communal duty calls, drop
attend to the chores attendant upon a funeral. These were the
taking turns to dig the dry and hard earth with their basic
If they are lucky in these days someone gets them some opaque beer
them going. That is why they are happy when they see the city boys -
one of them can spare a dollar or two to get a few litres of the good
waters. They were happy to see uncle; even happier with the alcoholic
beverage they had been waiting for.
One of the diggers called uncle
away for a private conversation. It took a
while for uncle to recognise him.
They had been together in primary school
centuries ago. But a combination of
the elements and time had registered
heavily on uncle's
Here was a man who had clearly had to bear the heavier
load of life's
burdens and they had left him a broken man. He reminded uncle
about the old
days. He chuckled and laughed as he told uncle how large he
had become over
the years. He was pleased to see his old mate. His name is
Champion. No one
knows why his father had chosen that title for
As the conversation progressed he apologised. Champion apologised
request that he was about to make. Like every man here, he is proud
tries hard to work his way through life so even the thought of making
request made him uncomfortable. Uncle urged him to feel
"Shamwari," Champion started "Ndinokumbirawo dhora. Dhora chete"
friend, can I please ask for one US dollar. Just one US Dollar.") He
pleading. He wanted a dollar; a single US dollar. Uncle asked why just a
dollar and what he wanted it for.
Champion explained, "Shamwari,
zvinhu zvakaoma kuno kumaruzevha. Hatina mari
iyoyi yakauya iyi. Ini nemhuri
tapedza two weeks tichidya mangai because
hatina mari yacho yekugaisa
chibage. Saka hatikwanisi kudya sadza" ("My
friend, things are tough for us
here in the rural areas. My family and I
have been surviving on a daily diet
of boiled maize because we have no money
to process the maize into
maize-meal. So we haven't had Sadza for ages").
Sadza, a thick porridge made
from maize-meal is the staple diet in Zimbabwe.
But tell me Champion, how
have you survived all along, uncle enquired. He
was keen to know more about
how the rural folk have been surviving since the
introduction of the new
money and Champion seemed to be a willing source.
"Well, in the beginning the millers accepted barter
trading. To process a
bucket of maize into maize-meal, we would give the
miller a smaller bucket
of maize as payment. It worked for a while. We got
maize-meal and he got
some maize in return. At least we could cook sadza and
have a decent meal"
He paused for moment as he lit his chimonera (rolled
cigarette) and took a
quick pull, then shook his head as he continued. "But
now the miller has
changed. Perhaps he now has too much of the maize. So he
now demands either
US dollars or Rands. Trouble is, us folks don't have that
kind of money. I
have never seen a US dollar. I do not even know what it
looks like. But, my
friend, my children also want sadza. It's embarrassing
my friend to be in a
position where the children cry and you, as the man of
the house you cannot
provide for them. That is why I ask for a dollar. Just
one dollar will do
because I can go to the miller tomorrow to process some
maize-meal. Just one
dollar, shamwari. At least the family will eat sadza
for a few days", he
Uncle felt pity for Champion, his old mate. He took out two
handed it to Champion. The man was grateful - almost going down
on his knees
to dramatically register his gratitude. To have asked for just
and then got two dollars seemed like a miracle. He looked long
and hard at
the two, wrinkly notes - they have been exchanged so much
between so many
hands they are barely recognisable. He was pleased. He was
happy to have
finally got a US dollar in his hands. "I am probably the
richest man among
my friends at the moment", he quipped, pointing to his
"I bet none of them has ever seen a US dollar, let
alone used it!" he said
with a chuckle; the laugh of a very relieved man. He
offered uncle a
bucketful of maize but uncle declined. He said the two
dollars was his gift.
There are many 'Champions' in the rural areas of
Zimbabwe. They are the
forgotten tribe of Zimbabweans; a tribe of the
economically impoverished for
whom dollarization of the currency was a
catalyst for a harsh displacement
from the formal economy. Whatever little
they had in the zillions of
Zimbabwe dollars was lost when the conversion
occurred without adequate
notice or the facility for exchange. Of course
even Zimbabweans in the urban
areas where affected, particularly pensioners.
But at least in the cities
the 'kiya-kiya' culture (wheeling-dealing)
facilitates opportunities for
urban-dwellers to get access to the new
currencies. The situation is
markedly different in the rural areas where the
opportunities are severely
It is here where Zimbabwe's
poorest reside. It is in these rural areas where
the harsh effects of a
severely broken economy have registered more vividly.
They have little, if
any, access to the multi-currencies in use elsewhere.
They are virtual
spectators; bystanders whose options are severely limited.
They have been
reduced to the basic barter-trade economy where you exchange
one good for
another. It may work sometimes as Champion explained but it is
in the long run.
Champion may have earned two dollars from his begging
enterprise but it is
not enough to serve him and his family for the long
Meanwhile, they buried my cousin. They say by the time she passed
was in a bad state. They had cared for her in the village. There was
else that could have been done. They could do no more at the local
So at 37, sisi Bessie was liberated from this world - a young life
away. She leaves young children. Our mukuwasha had stayed on in the
after he brought her back. He is a man of limited means. He could
mobilise bus fare to return to his home. So the family put together
little that was available and sent him away.
Scenes like this are
not isolated. They are a daily occurrence across
Zimbabwe; especially in
rural Zimbabwe, where the US dollar is still to
arrive. There are many who,
like Champion are asking for nothing more than
just a dollar. There are many
who like sisi Bessie are departing in the
prime of their lives; many like my
community, who continue to plod on toward
an uncertain future. They are the
forgotten tribe of Zimbabwe - the rural
Muguti loses son, sister in one day
June 18, 2009
JOHANNESBURG - Exiled Zimbabwean opposition politician, Noel Muguti
struggling to raise money for the burial of his son and his sister who
on the same day back in Zimbabwe last week.
Muguti (33), who now
living as a political refugee at Johannesburg's Central
told The Zimbabwe Times Thursday that his two-year-old
son, Democracy and
sister, Belinda (24) died under suspicious circumstances
on the same day -
Belinda died of alleged food poisoning in Harare's sprawling
density suburb, while Democracy died in Muguti's rural home
Muguti stood as a candidate for
parliamentary elections in Gokwe-Nembudziya
Constituency last year and lost
to Zanu-PF's Flora Bhuka.
"Belinda was the closest relative that I had
and she was the one who was
taking care of Democracy," said
"A close friend, who told me of the deaths and their causes, said
sister left for Harare on May 26.
"She left the child with
some neighbours in our home village - Tiki, but
they both died two days
Muguti said that his son was found dead at the neighbouring
what appears to be a fatal assault on the child.
was found with a spilt skull and that can only suggest that he was hit
a heavy object," he said.
"I suspect that whoever killed them was out to
hurt me and that clearly
shows that my enemies are still on a mission to
spill my blood. This was a
way for them to hurt me even further, or to have
me come home so that they
can finish me off.
"My sister could also
have been killed as a way of silencing her, as she
knew a lot about what has
happened to my family since persecution began on
me and the
Muguti added that his sister's body was still in a mortuary in
that of the child was in the mortuary at Gokwe hospital, as he
struggling to raise money for their funerals.
have been made for the two deaths, which have been reported to
"I am trying to raise between R6 000 and R8 000 so that I can
send it home
for their burial, since I cannot go back to Zimbabwe myself,"
"It is very painful for me to be in this situation, where you
lose two loved
ones on the same day and not only can you not raise money for
but can also not attend the burial yourself."
says the MDC South Africa chairman, Austin Moyo had contacted him
"He called me last week and promised to come and see what the
party could do
for me, but he has not come back yet."
Muguti, who now
spends most of his time confined to bed due to ill health,
stood as a
candidate for the Tsvangirai-led MDC in parliamentary elections
March 2008 and lost.
He fled to South Africa in July 2008, three months
after his 21-year-old
wife, Nashawu Mpofu, was allegedly abducted from the
couple's homestead in
the Tiki area. The six armed men involved were
suspected to be members of
the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), with
the assistance of
identified local Zanu-PF youth militants. This happened
during the period of
brutal violence that preceded the presidential election
re-run in June 2008.
Nashawu, who was also an active member of the MDC,
has not been seen since
then and her abductors have not been arrested,
despite Muguti having
reported the matter at the Nembudziya police station
and identified them.
Muguti says that he was abducted and tortured on
five occasions, being left
for dead in the bush on some of the occasions.
The couple's homestead was
razed to the ground.
An asthmatic and
diabetic, he sustained a broken rib and was left
semi-disabled after the
brutal attacks, which began in April, soon after the
announcement of the
Muguti, who was assisted by the MDC to seek exile South
Africa, has remained
unemployed since his arrival.
Address: “Stair number four, Fourth Floor, Central Methodist
I was not really sure exactly what I would find at the Central Methodist
Church in the dreaded Smal Street in Johannesburg CBD.
“Its unsafe to go there, a woman on her own ? You are crazy! At least leave
your handbag behind, and drive an old clapped-out car.”
Well, I did none of the above, and I chose possibly the worst time of the day
- 3 p.m. on a Friday - to drive into the Johannesburg CBD. It was not an
experience I would like to repeat - the traffic I mean - but as far as the visit
to the Central Methodist Church, I felt quite safe and comfortable in the midst
of hundreds of my countrymen.
It was nothing like I expected. It was much much worse: the squalor, the
misery, the deprivation is like nothing I have ever experienced, and I have been
in some sad places in my time.
I met with the legendary Bishop Paul Verryn, a man of the cloth who has
stood for the poor and oppressed against the might of the South African
Who wants an eye-sore like this in central Johannesburg right next to the
once famous Carlton Hotel? Which city needs pavements clogged with thousands of
Zimbabwean refugees, month after month, year after year? Paul Verryn has stood
his Christian ground against all odds to care for Zimbabwean refugees for many
One steps gingerly as one climbs the steps to the office on the third floor
of the Centre methodist Church. One steps carefully because you are likely to
stand on a desperate, probably ill, refugee, asleep on the stairs.
I shuddered sadly as I stepped over two tiny children asleep on a thin
mattress, right in the middle of the draughty stairwell. What an address to give
if ever asked “Where do you live”: “I live on the fourth floor, fifth stair from
the top, of the stairwell at the Central Methodist Church”. Please God none of
mine ever have to give an address even remotely similar.
I did have three “bodyguards” accompanying me, kindly arranged by a friend to
guide me through one of Johannesburg’s unsafe areas, but I did not need them. I
was among friends in this place. They knew me instantly, by my handshake, by the
look in my eyes, by our shared language: it does not take long to recognise a
fellow Zimbabwean. I do not know what the intrinsic qualities are, but believe
me they are there in all of us. Maybe it is that haunted look, yet disguised
with compassion and love…. There are certain gestures, inflections, innuendos
that Zimbabweans have, and they recognise one another instantly.
Everyone in this place was ill: colds and flu, HIV and maybe TB? Illness went
with the territory.
The Church does its best and it does it brilliantly under the circumstances.
There is a simple creche for the 100 children, many of them born right there in
There is a computer room where students are taught daily, in preparation for
life beyond the CMC. And of course there is the Church, after all, in times of
trouble, that is all that is left to call one’s own.
There is a “couples” room where mounds of those Treger’s striped
polypropylene bags are piled up waist high in minute squares, just the size of a
single mattress, where couples co-exist with each other. My one bodyguard Grace
lived in the “couples” room, she smiled frequently and never once complained
about her lot. In fact conversation was polite, carefully phrased, but always
took a turn towards those three much cherished words “going back home .”
The main hall of the church was where the single men and women lived, a vast
squalid hotch potch of possessions “Mphala” interspersed with thin beds.
Back with the Bishop I was forced to purloin a tissue from a tissue box on
his coffee table, as my nose was already running in anticipation of a ferocious
cold I knew I would catch as everyone was ill. His coffee table was festooned
with books all pertaining to the Zimbabwean “struggle”: books by Judith Todd,
books by Peter Godwin, and a book entitled “Go Home or Die Here” by David
Ansara and fore-worded by Paul Verryn. This is a book about the Xenophobia which
struck SA last year.
The Bishop had queues of people waiting to see him. As we spoke, people
walked in offering blankets, food, assistance. There were medical students
waiting for interviews for jobs, there were people waiting for finance to start
a project. Downstairs Medicines Sans Frontiers were conducting a clinic and
there was a long line of patient people waiting for treatment.
Maybe thats the problem with Zimbabweans: maybe we are too patient, always
waiting. I edclude myself: I am of the opinion that we should MAKE things
happen. But my lot, thank you God, is so much easier than that of these pain
filled people, three thousand of them, who have no home other than “Stair number
four, Fourth Floor, Central Methodist Church Johannesburg.
This entry was posted by Freedom Writer
on Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 1:34 pm.
Bill Watch 17th June 2009 - Legislative Reform Series[ No.1. AIPPA]
WATCH LEGISLATIVE REFORM SERIES
1. Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Part 1. Should AIPPA be
AIPPA is divided
into three parts:
1. the first part deals with access to
2. the second prohibits misuse of
databases containing personal information;
3. the third imposes restrictions on the
press and journalists — this is the part that has incurred the most
This part of AIPPA purports to give
everyone a right of access to “records” [i.e. recorded information] held by the
government and public bodies, but the right is severely
a vast area of information is
excluded from disclosure. For example the following cannot be
advice and recommendations given to
the President or to Ministers or public bodies [section 14];
information that would prejudice law
enforcement processes in any way [section
17(1)(a)] or compromise the effectiveness of investigation
techniques, e.g. a defence lawyer cannot obtain correct information before a
trial if such information might weaken the state case.
information that would prejudice the
“interests of the country” [section
17(1)(b)] – an extremely wide term that would allow virtually any
information to be withheld;
whose disclosure may affect relations between the government and a local
authority [section 18(1)(a)(i)] –
so the Minister of Local Government could refuse to disclose his reasons for
appointing certain councillors to local
that may result in harm to the planning, financial or economic interests of the
State or a public body – so information that may reveal mismanagement or fraud
in the Government or parastatals may be withheld.
the procedures for disclosure are
unnecessarily cumbersome and lengthy:
a request for information must be in
writing, giving “adequate and precise details” of the requested information
[section 6] – so one cannot
expect to get information by simply phoning a
a response to a request for
information can be delayed for 60 days or, with the consent of the Zimbabwe
Media Commission [ZMC], for even longer [section 8 &
anyone aggrieved by a public
officer’s refusal to disclose information can request the ZMC to review the
refusal under Part X of the Act. There is no time-limit for the ZMC to complete
a review, and even if the ZMC does decide that the information must be
disclosed, the public officer has a further appeal to the Administrative Court
[section 52B]. So in practice
information may never be obtained – or obtained too late to be of any practical
above all, there is no general
provision requiring the government to be open and transparent and to assist the
public by publishing information regularly and making it widely accessible e.g.
land reports, etc.
Should this part of AIPPA be
To measure the
effectiveness of this part of the Act, one only has to ask the question: has
Zimbabwe become a more open society
in the seven years since AIPPA was enacted? The obvious answer is: no, it
hasn’t. Therefore this part of AIPPA has not served its purpose and should be
repealed. It should be replaced by another Act giving a real right to
information held by government, making access to that information easier, and
compelling the government to publish information and to keep the public informed
about its processes and decisions.
The next part of AIPPA restricts the
collection of personal information and the uses to which personal information
collected may be put. Essentially this part is intended to control the misuse of
computerised databases of personal information collected by bodies such as the
government, parastatals and insurance companies. The term “public body” is
widely defined to cover the government, statutory bodies and various
professional bodies, but it does not include commercial organisations unless
they are public companies.
Should this part of AIPPA be
This part of AIPPA is
It prevents the misuse of computerised
databases but does not deal generally with invasions of privacy, for example, by
The misuse of databases is not yet as
serious a problem in Zimbabwe as it is in other
countries. But world wide it is a serious problem and the provisions of this
part are outdated.
Provision for protection of privacy
should be far more carefully thought out and a balance found between the need to
reveal information for the public good and an individual’s right to privacy [or
this could be protected in the new Constitution]. This should be a separate
piece of legislation.
Control of the
Under this part of
no one may operate a mass media
service, e.g. a newspaper or a broadcasting station, in Zimbabwe unless it has been
registered by the ZMC [section
66(1)] and no mass media service or news agency may employ a
journalist unless he or she has been accredited by the [sections 78(4) & 79(7)].
only citizens are allowed to own mass
media services [section
only citizens and permanent residents
can be employed as journalists [aliens and non-residents may be accredited for
up to 60 days) [section 79(3) &
journalists and owners of mass media
services who publish false information can be imprisoned for up to two years, in
the case of journalists [section
80] or three years in the case of mass media owners [section 64].
journalists and mass media services
can be disciplined and stripped of their accreditation or registration by a
media council consisting entirely of persons appointed by the Zimbabwe Media
Should this part of AIPPA be
The arguments for retaining it boil down
to this: left to themselves, news media and journalists are intrusive and
abusive and are disrespectful towards such hallowed national institutions as the
President. They are also liable to invade the privacy of people who appear in
the public eye. They must therefore be controlled by the government. The
arguments for repealing this part of AIPPA are:
The Constitution guarantees freedom of
expression, which includes freedom of the press. Without that freedom, a
democratic society cannot exist.
No public officer, from the President
through the Governor of the Reserve Bank down to the must junior clerk, should
be immune from criticism and questioning by the press. Even unfair criticism is
beneficial to the democratic process, so long as the person who is subjected to
criticism is allowed to rebut it.
A free, vibrant and questioning press is
so vital to democracy that any restrictions on it should be no more than are
needed to prevent egregious abuses such as intrusions into personal
AIPPA goes far beyond anything that is
needed to prevent abuses. There is no justification whatever for banning mass
media services if they are not registered, or for preventing journalists from
working if they are not accredited. The arrest and prosecution of journalists
for publishing “false” information has a chilling effect on investigative
journalism. [It should be noted,
incidentally, that though many journalists have been arrested for this offence,
no journalist has yet been convicted of
And there is a further overwhelming
argument: AIPPA is widely regarded as a cornerstone of the repressive
State. Its repeal will
send a clear signal to Zimbabweans and to the world that the new government has
turned decisively from the past and is leading the country towards an open,
Not enough to
repeal AIPPA but also clauses in Criminal
AIPPA is not
the only statute that imposes undue restrictions on journalists. In the
Criminal Law Code:
makes it an offence punishable by an unlimited fine or imprisonment for a period
not exceeding twenty years or both, if
“any person, whether inside or outside Zimbabwe … publishes or
communicates to any other person a statement which is wholly or materially false
with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of
(i) inciting or promoting public disorder or
public violence or endangering public safety; or (ii) adversely affecting the
defence or economic interests of Zimbabwe; or (iii) undermining public
confidence in a law enforcement agency the Prison Service or the Defence Forces
of Zimbabwe; or (iv) interfering with, disrupting or interrupting any essential
service.” NB this is an offence whether or not the publication or
communication results in one of those consequences, and even if the person who publishes
the statement does not know it
criminalises the making of false statements that may engender feelings of
hostility towards the President, and the making of “abusive” statements about
the President. Again, the person who makes the statement does not have to know
that it is false.
makes “criminal defamation” an offence punishable by an unlimited fine or
imprisonment for up to two years or both. The offence consists of the
publication of intentional false statements causing, or with the potential to
cause, serious harm to another person’s reputation. The criminalisation of
defamation is widely regarded as unacceptable as the civil law of defamation
gives sufficient protection. The African Commission of Human and Peoples Rights
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression has recently reiterated that
criminal defamation laws in African states should be repealed.
These sections of the Criminal Code
should be repealed at the same time as AIPPA is repealed. [The first two of
these sections had their parallels in the Rhodesian Law and Order Maintenance
Act which was carried over by the Zimbabwean government until
There is a current appeal to the Supreme Court for section 31 of the Criminal
Code to be struck down for inconsistency with the
right to freedom of expression. Two Zimbabwe Independent journalists, and
the newspaper’s owners, currently face trial under this section. They have
requested the magistrates court to refer their case to the Supreme Court for
constitutional adjudication, describing the section as “too nebulous and the
penalty oppressive and savage”. Their lawyer pointed out that this section can
be traced back to the very similar section in the notorious Law and Order
(Maintenance) Act – a section struck down by the Supreme Court in the 2000 Mark
Chavunduka case for inconsistency with the Constitution’s freedom of expression
clause, because it was far too vague and wide and had a “chilling effect” on the
practice of journalism that was unacceptable in a democratic society.
Extracts from Criminal Law Code setting
out sections 31, 33 and 96, and commentary on those sections from the Commentary on the Code by Professor Geoff Feltoe, Professor of Public Law, University of Zimbabwe
Declaration of Principles on Freedom of
Expression in Africa [adopted by the African
Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in 2002]
Extracts on freedom of expression from
Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international and regional
The Camden Principles on Freedom of
Expression and Equality [issued by Article 19 in April
are the next steps to achieving media reforms and protection of the
constitutional right to freedom of expression
the new Constitutional Zimbabwe Media Commission relate to
every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal
responsibility for information supplied.