by Tinotenda Kandi Saturday 21 June 2008
HARARE - Zimbabwe police on Thursday prevented a Pan African Parliament
(PAP) election observer team from witnessing junior officers forced to vote
for President Robert Mugabe at police general headquarters in Harare,
sources told ZimOnline.
Police across the country began voting by postal ballot on Tuesday this week
ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off election because they will be on
duty on the actual day of voting.
But several police officers have complained that they were forced to vote
for Mugabe by their commanders who physically watched over as their
subordinates marked their ballots to make sure they voted for the veteran
leader who is fighting for his political life after losing the first round
poll in March to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Communications chief for the PAP mission Khalid Al Dahab confirmed that a
team of observers went to police headquarters wishing to witness police
casting their postal ballots but were unable to do so. The junior policemen
who met the PAP team could not assist and instead referred the observers to
senior officers who were nowhere to be found.
Al Dahab said: "We went there and could not find anybody to talk to. There
were just ordinary junior officers who couldn't help. All the senior
officers who could help us were nowhere to be found.
"After waiting and waiting for a significant time without success out team
left. But there was no sign of voting when we were there. It seemed ordinary
However, ZimOnline can reveal that as the PAP observers were being told that
there were no senior officers to help them, Deputy Police Commissioner
General Barbara Mandizha was present at general headquarters in room 50,
keeping an eye on junior officers as they marked their ballots for Mugabe.
"Obviously allowing observers to room 50 would have spoiled the whole plan,"
said a source at general headquarters who declined to be named for fear of
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka confirmed that police cast their postal
ballots this week but denied knowledge of officers being forced to vote for
"I have no knowledge of that. A far as I am aware the process is above board
and everything is running smoothly I am not aware of the (PAP) observers
issue either," he said.
But sources said police officers voted under the watchful eyes of their
commanders at general headquarters, Harare Central police station and at
other stations across the country.
The voting, which was not witnessed by observers, took place in the absence
of both Mugabe and Tsvangirai's election agents, while a local newspaper
reported on Friday that Southern African Development Community observers who
visited Harare Central police station on Wednesday to witness the voting
process were turned away.
Selby Hwacha, a lawyer for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party said the opposition party was preparing a court application to
challenge the validity of postal ballots.
Hwacha said: "I am working on a challenge. Those votes should not count
because the whole process was clandestine and we know that police officers
were forced to vote for Mugabe."
It was not possible to get immediate comment on the matter from the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission that is in charge of elections in the country. -
by Tendai Maronga Saturday 21 June 2008
HARARE - Police have charged a street vendor for listening to a special news
programme on Zimbabwe broadcast by the Voice of America, as President Robert
Mugabe's government tries hard to limit alternative information available to
voters ahead of a run-off presidential election next week.
The vendor, Noel Tichawana, who was arrested about three weeks ago will
appear in court on July 15 to answer to charges of committing criminal
nuisance after he was caught listening to the programme, Studio 7, that
broadcasts political, economic and general news on Zimbabwe.
Tichawana, who is probably the first person to be charged for listening to
the Studio 7 programme that is considered hostile by Mugabe's government,
faces up to six months in jail if found guilty.
According to court papers a Zimbabwe army soldier arrested Tichawana after
having observed on several occasions the vendor listening to Studio 7 from
his radio set that he kept at his vending site.
"On several occasions, accused person would play his radio set at high
volume attracting a crowed as he would switch it to America's Studio . . .
informant then arrested the accused and brought him to St Mary's police
station," reads the charge sheet submitted to court.
There are no independent broadcasters in Zimbabwe.
The state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) runs the country's
only television and radio stations, all tightly controlled by Mugabe's
government, which has the final say on senior editorial and managerial
The government often uses the ZBC as a propaganda mouthpiece while the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party says the state
broadcaster has imposed a blackout on its leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of
the run-off presidential election - a charge the broadcaster denies.
Zimbabwe holds a second presidential election on June 27 after electoral
authorities said Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in March but failed to garner
more than 50 percent of the vote required to takeover the presidency.
In addition to Studio 7, there are two radio stations run by exiled
Zimbabwean journalists and broadcasting into Zimbabwe from outside the
country. However, these do not have the same reach as the ZBC while Mugabe's
government has frequently jammed the foreign-based stations.
On top of controlling the airwaves, Mugabe's government also runs the
country's largest newspaper empire after closing down four independent
papers, including the Daily News that was Zimbabwe's largest circulating
paper when it was shut down in 2003. - ZimOnline
Amnesty International (AI)
Date: 20 Jun 2008
Open letter to his excellency President Levy Mwanawasa, president of Zambia,
in his capacity as the chair of SADC
Dear President Mwanawasa,
I am writing to you in your capacity as the Chairperson of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC). I am appealing to you to convene an
emergency summit of the SADC heads of state and government to discuss the
deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
Since March 2007, Amnesty International has been closely monitoring efforts
by SADC states to ensure that the conditions in Zimbabwe enable the country
to hold free and fair elections. We welcomed the emergency summit held on 12
April 2008 in Lusaka to try to break the political impasse in Zimbabwe after
the 29 March elections. However, the current state-sponsored violence,
harassment and intimidation of people perceived to have a political
affiliation with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is undermining
SADC efforts to end the crisis. People are being killed, tortured and
subjected to other ill-treatment while the perpetrators are enjoying
Amnesty International expressed shock yesterday at the discovery of 12
people whose bodies were found dumped in various parts of the country after
their abduction. In some cases, the victims were beaten to death. This
pattern of human rights violations appears to be intensifying as the country
gets closer to the second round of the presidential election, set for 27
June 2008. African election observers who are currently in Zimbabwe have
also witnessed some of the violence.
Most of the violence appears to be instigated by soldiers who were deployed
first in the rural areas, and later in the urban centres to coordinate
President Mugabe's re-election campaign. The soldiers are working closely
with 'war veterans' and ZANU-PF supporters in intimidating and harassing
people accused of having voted "wrongly" during the first round of the
election. Reliable sources in Zimbabwe have also reported retaliatory
attacks by the MDC.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Zimbabwe Republic Police are failing in
their constitutional duty to protect the rights of all, including the right
to life and freedom from torture and other forms of ill-treatment. They have
chosen to operate in a partisan manner allowing impunity for human rights
violations and abuses to thrive.
Amnesty International is therefore calling on SADC to:
- convene an emergency summit of SADC heads of state and government to
discuss the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe;
- support the deployment of AU or UN human rights monitors to investigate
alleged human rights violations and support the full implementation of their
- urge the government of Zimbabwe to take immediate steps to guarantee the
right to life, freedom from torture and other ill-treatment and freedom of
expression and assembly for all. The government should publicly denounce all
acts of violence by ZANU-PF supporters, 'war veterans' and soldiers, as well
as by any other parties, and work with the MDC and civil society to end
political violence immediately. It should also immediately withdraw
soldiers, who have been deployed in rural and urban areas, who appear to be
instigating attacks against people perceived to have voted for the MDC;
- use the Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation within SADC
to immediately set up an independent and impartial body to investigate all
acts of political violence. The investigation's findings and recommendations
should be made public.
Opposition Leader Reportedly Considering Pulling Out of Next Weeks' Runoff
By KIRIT RADIA
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2008
First, there were reports that groups of war veterans loyal to Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe were attacking, and sometimes killing, political
opponents. And the military and police were complicit in the violence by
either ignoring attacks or taking part in them.
Now, according to a new warning by the U.S. Embassy in Harare, youth gangs
are roaming the suburbs of the capital forcing Zimbabweans to support the
president and his ruling Zanu-PF Party in next week's runoff election.
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is even considering pulling
out of the June 27 election, according to reports from the BBC and Reuters.
"This political harassment includes verbal and physical assaults, abductions
and forced attendance at Zanu-PF political rallies," the embassy warned in a
text message sent to Americans in the tense country.
The embassy blamed the latest wave of intimidation ahead of next Friday's
vote, on the Zanu-PF Party.
The embassy sent out the alert to make sure Americans avoided political
arguments or large crowds.
"The harassment is random and anyone could become a target," the message
said. "Zimbabwe Republic police have been slow to become involved and may
not offer protection from these assaults."
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, came in second in a national
election last March but won enough votes to force a runoff against
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change Party.
As next Friday's vote nears, U.S. Ambassador James McGee has vocally
complained about Mugabe's blunt campaign to intimidate the country into
voting for him.
A chorus of diplomatic and human rights groups charge Zimbabwean police have
arrested opposition leaders on charges including treason, prevented the
country's media from covering his opponent, and unleashed the veterans of
his old revolutionary army on his critics. MDC says more than 70 activists
have been killed, and thousands of others have been harassed or beaten.
Critics charge Mugabe has also banned foreign aid groups from distributing
food and fuel to the impoverished population, forcing them to seek aid from
the government's meager handouts.
But only those who have Zanu-PF identification cards are given food. Others
must surrender their national ID cards to receive food. Without a national
ID card, they won't be able to vote.
Tsvangirai, who has been repeatedly arrested or delayed at roadblocks as
he's tried to campaign, told his supporters Thursday it will take courage to
vote for him next Friday.
"The wave of brutality being inflicted upon our people is reminiscent of the
worst days of" white rule, Tsvangirai said in an e-mail, one of the few ways
he has of reaching voters.
Mugabe's tough tactics have alarmed Western countries.
The United States has called for international monitors to be allowed into
the country to oversee the election, but the Zimbabwean government has
balked so far. While some monitors will be allowed in just before the
election, U.S. officials say they will be too few, too late.
Depending on the outcome of the election, sources told ABC News the United
States may impose further sanctions on Zimbabwe's leadership.
European Union nations already have in place an arms embargo against
Zimbabwe in addition to a suspension of development aid and an assets freeze
and travel ban against Mugabe and 125 other top government officials.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
South Africans now see that the support lavished on Mugabe contributed to
Saturday June 21, 2008
In Johannesburg, Robert Mugabe was given a rousing welcome by Africans from
across the continent. As he addressed the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
Development, we ululated and sang his praises, and after his brief speech we
gave him a standing ovation. He spoke of the wonderful work he had achieved
in Zimbabwe with his "agrarian reforms" in a country where 70% of prime land
had been owned by just 4,000 white farmers.
Here was an African leader who was prepared to redress the injustices of the
past by giving land back to its rightful indigenous owners. Here was a
government doing what our own was afraid to: dealing with the problems of
inequitable distribution through one short, swift surgical action. Here was
a black man giving the former colonial masters the finger. We went into
frenzied applause when he thundered: "So, Blair, keep your England and let
me keep my Zimbabwe!"
It did not matter to us that the process was not done in a way that
respected the rule of law, or that the so-called agrarian reforms were an
election ploy to win votes from a peasantry that had been marginalised since
1980. We condemned our South African newspapers as lackeys of the west when
they reported in the previous two years that the "war veterans" (most of
whom had never fought any war) murdered black workers as well as white
farmers when they occupied white-owned farms in the Mugabe-sponsored
violence and mayhem. We dismissed as mere western propaganda reports that
began to filter into the country that the farms - confiscated not only from
whites but from those black farmers who were deemed to be supporters of the
opposition - were in fact redistributed to leaders of the ruling Zanu-PF
In any case, most of us did not read newspapers, which had exposed Mugabe
from the beginning, but got our news from the South African Broadcasting
Corporation, which did not dare be critical of Zimbabwe and even banned
independent commentators who were deemed to be anti-Zanu-PF - including the
South African president's brother, Moeletsi Mbeki.
Our unwavering support for Mugabe continued over the years, despite
outrageous acts of violence against his own people, such as Operation
Murambatsvina (Sweep Away the Filth) when he destroyed more than 700,000
homes in urban areas deemed to be opposition strongholds. We were encouraged
by the line our government was taking. Our president, Thabo Mbeki, was the
official mediator between Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, and he was engaged in what was euphemistically called "quiet
We understood that Mbeki could not be neutral because Zanu-PF was a
fraternal organisation. It had been our ally during the struggle, and as
South Africans we were well known for being loyal to those who took our
side - hence our continued close friendship with Fidel Castro and Muammar
Gadafy, despite protestations from America. We were proud of our independent
foreign policy. Despite the "mediator" title, we never expected Mbeki to be
an honest broker. We were not about to desert Mugabe in his time of need;
"quiet diplomacy" was another name for "complicity".
But last December a new leadership took over the ANC. The new party leader,
Jacob Zuma, attained his position through the support of the trade union
movement and the South African Communist Party, both of which had been vocal
in condemning Mugabe's actions as soon as the "war veterans" began their
farm invasions. And for the first time we heard the ANC publicly condemning
Mugabe for trying to hijack the electoral process, even as a lame-duck Mbeki
continued to defend Mugabe in international forums and to declare that there
was no crisis.
Two weeks ago I was in Johannesburg talking to reporters who have been
covering the xenophobic anti-Zimbabwean attacks of the past few months. It
became clear to me that the support that Mugabe used to enjoy among black
South Africans is beginning to wane. For the first time our people are
beginning to talk openly about the South African government's complicity in
the total collapse of Zimbabwe. They are beginning to say South Africa
should bear some of the blame for the millions of Zimbabweans who have had
to flee state violence only to compete for scarce resources in the poor
townships of South Africa.
Yes, the jokes about "those millionaire Zimbos" - an allusion to the fact
that a million in Zimbabwe adds up to less than one US dollar - still
abound. But there is growing recognition that the chickens are coming home
to roost, as thousands more continue to cross the border in search of a
better life and are welcomed with hate attacks.
· Zakes Mda, a South African writer, is the author of Cion email@example.com
By Mark Bellamy and J. Stephen Morrison
From the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Saturday, June 21, 2008; 12:00 AM
The crisis in Zimbabwe is now at a critical stage. Government-instigated
brutality is out of control. Regional and worldwide alarm over the brazen
and increasingly unpredictable rule of Robert Mugabe is at an all-time high.
By any reckoning, free and fair presidential elections in Zimbabwe next week
are impossible. Mugabe and his security chiefs have warned they will accept
no outcome other than his "re-election." Adding a few more election
observers or achieving a pause in pre-election violence will change little.
Faced with Mugabe's ruthlessness, Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai may
well decide in coming days to pull out of the race altogether.
The stakes are high. One of Africa's best economies is in ruins. Three
million Zimbabweans have fled to neighboring states. According to U.N.
estimates, more than 5 million Zimbabweans will need food aid by next
January. As he tramples democracy and shreds the rule of law, Mugabe exports
instability in a region where the U.S. has invested heavily to promote good
government and economic development. The chaos in Zimbabwe poses an urgent
test of Western and African resolve.
Thus far, neither the West nor Africa has risen to the challenge. The U.S.
and few other governments have enacted targeted sanctions on the Mugabe
regime, provided substantial humanitarian relief and assisted civil
organizations. Yet these ad hoc measures have not been enough to affect real
change. Until recently most African leaders have either been indifferent or,
in the case of South African President Thabo Mbeki, quietly complicit in
enabling Mugabe's misrule.
It is now possible to transcend this indifference. Mugabe's unpopularity,
his crumbling reputation as a liberation hero, the increasing savagery of
his security chiefs, and the regional economic and social costs of
Zimbabwe's meltdown -- all favor an external diplomatic push.
Change requires that the United States mount an intensive diplomatic
campaign, one where the United States is a catalyst of international action.
The purpose will be to rally international support for moving Zimbabwe
rapidly into the post-Mugabe era. To be successful, this initiative must
move forward quickly at a high level, targeting a few key audiences and
A top priority has to be ending South Africa's patronage of Mugabe through
diplomatic pressure that exploits growing regional dissatisfaction with
Thabo Mbeki's leadership. Botswana's new President Ian Khama, Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa, Tanzanian President and African Union head Jakaya
Kikwete Kikwete, as well as Mbeki's presumptive successor Jacob Zuma, all
understand the urgent need to act on Zimbabwe. Other strong African voices,
such as Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, are also now questioning South
Africa's role in Zimbabwe and calling for change. Once the South African
linchpin is removed, the other external props that sustain Mugabe -- Angola,
Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, and China -- will cease to matter.
The Bush administration should quickly designate an envoy, a distinguished
former official or public figure, to lead its efforts. It should help the
envoy assemble a small team of prominent international figures from Africa,
Europe, and the Commonwealth to travel to southern Africa for intensive
consultations on ending the crisis in Zimbabwe. That team will need to be in
the region for an extended period. Lacking internal consensus, neither the
United Nations nor the African Union can mount such a mission. From its
position in the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. should work in New York and
in African capitals to demand more African involvement in solving the crisis
The U.S. effort should be organized around four pillars.
First, it should create a shared consensus that Mugabe must leave office.
This is the sine qua non to any solution. Restoring democracy, respecting
human rights and rebuilding a shattered society and economy should be the
highest priorities. These steps cannot begin until Mugabe has left the
Second, it should create a shared determination to contain Mugabe's chief
lieutenants. As Mugabe exits, some senior security officials may be tempted
to replace him. Beginning with southern African states, support must be
summoned for possible deployment of a modest African Union or
U.N.-authorized monitoring force. Meanwhile, the Bush administration should
disclose publicly details of the extensive corruption surrounding Mugabe's
Third, it should press for resumed negotiations on constitutional reform,
cut short by Mugabe last year, and for an early date for new presidential
elections. Zimbabweans themselves will be quick to address these imperatives
once Mugabe is gone. Freed of current threats, they are capable of
establishing a workable framework for a democratic transition.
Last, if should accelerate international planning and support to rebuild
Zimbabwe's shattered economic and social infrastructure. The United States
and other donors should deploy credible, coordinated pledges of economic
assistance to reinforce the diplomatic push to ease Mugabe out.
The Zimbabwean tragedy may continue beyond the Bush administration, but that
is not a foregone conclusion. The United States has nothing to lose by
investing in a bold diplomatic initiative to fix one of the world's worst
man-made humanitarian disasters. What better legacy could George Bush leave
in Africa than to close out this terrible chapter of tyranny and restore to
a nation its lost freedoms?
Mark Bellamy is a former U.S. ambassador to Kenya and a senior fellow in
residence for the Africa Program and the International Security Program at
CSIS. J. Stephen Morrison is executive director of the HIV/AIDS Task Force
and director of the Africa Program at CSIS.
20th Jun 2008 23:50 GMT
By a Correspondent
Alarmed by the worsening political crisis in their country, Zimbabwean
journalists scattered around the globe have put together the statement below
to condemn the wanton destruction of people's lives through unwarranted
political violence. The journalists the Zimbabwe government should redeem
itself by moving fast to stop the on-going political repression that has
seen more than 65 people dying for supporting a political party of their
Alarmed Zimbabwean Journalists Condemn Political Violence, Brutality Acts,
WE, the members of the Association of Zimbabwe Journalists (AZJ), strongly
condemn the on-going human rights abuses being perpetrated on innocent
Zimbabweans. AZJ is appalled at the wanton killings, maiming, torture and
detentions ahead of next week's presidential election run-off.
Zanu PF candidate, President Robert Mugabe has declared that if his Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai wins the run-off on
June 27, not only will he refuse to give up State House, but the "war
veterans" will wage war against imperial "lackeys".
Evidently, the war has already begun in the form of horrendous beatings and
murder of both known and perceived opposition supporters in the entire
country. Daily news reports emanating from Zimbabwe point to the fact that
Zimbabwe is a country at war.
Findings by both local and foreign observers as well as family and community
accounts overwhelmingly point at Zanu PF as the sponsor of the terror that
has paralyzed Zimbabwe.
We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and we join other
organizations in expressing doubts of a free and fair election next Friday.
We as journalists are also appalled by the continuing threats, arrests and
unlawful detentions of journalists trying to do their job.
AZJ demands the following:
1.) We demand that the government immediately ceases to sponsor the terror
group who include the police and army.
2.) We demand that journalists and observers carry out their work anywhere
in Zimbabwe freely without threats to their lives or families
3.) We demand that all acts of violence be fully investigated and
perpetrators of violence be brought before the courts
4.) We demand that the government stops the continued arbitrary arrests and
detentions of all those perceived to be state enemies
By Grace Tandiwe & Trymore Magomana
Harare Tribune Correspondents
Friday, June 20, 2008 17:31
Zimbabwe, Harare – It is exactly 7 days before the run-off election on
June 27, but reports from across the country, by eyewitnesses and Harare
Tribune reporters, indicate the campaign of intimidation, harassment,
torture of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislatures, members and
supporters has substantially increased.
There is now clear evidence that the ZANU-PF government is
systematically broadening its campaign of terror against innocent
Zimbabweans as ZANU PF youth militia is now being deployed, in military
style, into the high density areas in urban areas.
All indications are that most people displaced by violence will not be
able to cast their vote in a presidential run-off whose voting is
ward-based. Tens of thousands of opposition and civic activists have been
declared persona non grata in the wards and political constituencies in
which they are registered to vote.
The escalation of politically motivated genocide, planned,
coordinated, fanned, and provisioned by the ZANU-PF government, comes in the
wake of a countrywide independent survey by a respected University of
Zimbabwe academic that showed Morgan Tsvangirai beating Robert Mugabe with a
landslide victory of 63 %.
The finding dovetails with assessments of the true support for the MDC
during the controversial March 29 election. The poll, carried last week with
a sample of 2758 registered voters, had a standard margin of error of +/-4.
Most MDC activists and their famlies in Murewa, Musana, Wedza, Mutoko,
Bindura, Kadoma, Mhondoro, Chinhoyi, Masvingo, Redcliff, Zaka, Mwenezi,
Buhera, Chipinge and Mutare have been given a weekend ultimatum to leave
their villagers and go to Harare "to their master" MDC president Morgan
As night fell Friday in Chinhoyi, ZANU-PF militia, who had wreaked
chaos in the town all day after attend a rally addressed by Webster Shamu,
who is also the Minister of State for Policy Implementation, terrorized
residents in Gadzema and other high density townships in the town.
Those who attended Shamu’s meeting with ZANU-PF ward leaders told the
Harare Tribune that they have been given the green light to “root out the
MDC evil in our midst.”
The ZANU-PF militia, traveling in twin cabs supplied by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and carrying Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) issued
guns, singled out homes of MDC members and leaders in the city, which they
proceeded demolish in the quest to reach their prey. Several homes in
Gadzema suffered extensive damage
Earlier, 11 MDC activists, aged between 22 and 43, had arrested for
allegedly removing and defacing Mugabe's campaign posters in the town.
The unabashed wave of violence by ZANU-PF is happening with SADC & AU
monitors watching. Tuesday, two MDC activists were shot dead, separately, in
front of SADC observer teams.
The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) indicated
Friday that out of 8,800 local monitors accredited to cover the March 29
poll; only 500 have been approved to monitor the June 27 presidential
The deliberate cutback in numbers has heightened fears that Mugabe's
regime is planning to rig the upcoming election. ZESN submitted the names of
23 000 monitors to the Ministry of Justice but were told the presence of
observers, 'disrupts the smooth flow of voting.
In an interview, Noel Kututwa, ZESN board chairperson said, “the idea
is to make it impossible to do what we did (in the first round). It will be
very difficult but not impossible.”
Now, according to a new warning by the U.S. Embassy in Harare, youth
gangs are roaming the suburbs of the capital forcing Zimbabweans to support
the president and his ruling Zanu-PF Party in next week's runoff election.
Morgan Tsvangirai is even considering pulling out of the June 27
election, pointing out that violence across the country was making it
difficult for his party to campaign.
"This political harassment includes verbal and physical assaults,
abductions and forced attendance at Zanu-PF political rallies," the embassy
warned in a text message sent to Americans in the tense country.
The embassy blamed the latest wave of intimidation ahead of next
Friday's vote, on the Zanu-PF Party. The embassy sent out the alert to make
sure Americans avoided political arguments or large crowds.
"The harassment is random and anyone could become a target," the
message said. "Zimbabwe Republic police have been slow to become involved
and may not offer protection from these assaults."
By night Friday, the MDC said it will decide on Monday whether to
withdraw from the June 27 presidential run-off election.
"Yes, we will be meeting on Monday to assess the situation. The
national council will meet and decide on the way forward," the MDC's Nelson
Earlier in the day, Mugabe said that "only God" could remove him from
"The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country -- never ever,"
Mugabe told local business people in Bulawayo.
"Only God who appointed me will remove me -- not the MDC, not the
Later, at a rally in Bulawayo, Mugabe said: "We will never allow an
event like an election reverse our independence, our sovereignty, our sweat
and all that we fought for ... all that our comrades died fighting.”
Western powers and human rights groups say the election has been
tainted by violence and intimidation, while Tsvangirai alleges that Zimbabwe
now is run by what is essentially a "military junta".
"The people have been subjected to violence and intimidation which are
so blatant and they are disappointed that we are not having access to the
electorate," Innocent Gonese, the MDC's secretary for legal affairs said.
"People are saying despite all that we should not withdraw and we also
believe withdrawing will not solve anything."
Even if the election is held, its outcome will not change the
precarious situation in Zimbabwe. Both ZANU-PF and MDC through their
candidates Tsvangirai & Mugabe, have already gone on record saying that they
will not accept defeat.
In view of this understanding, African leaders had pressured Thabo
Mbeki to force Mugabe & Tsvangirai to form a government of national unity,
which Mugabe rejected out of hand Wednesday this. Tsvangirai, on his part,
has said he will never accept an agreement that leave Mugabe in power.
It appears that the political stalemate in Zimbabwe will continue for
the foreseeable future. ★ -- Harare Tribune News
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
1. P MANGWENDE
Response to letter Ben & Jenny Norton, FORUM No. 540 - Dated 16 June 2008
For the life of me, I cannot understand why there are people out there who
think that Morgan should stand aside and let Makoni run Zimbabwe. Do
elections results mean nothing?
We all know why Makoni got such a high figure at the last election, so why
not ask Mutambara to take over, so Morgan can aside? After all, it was
Mutambara's people who provided the significant proportion of Makoni's
overwhelmingly massive 8% of the total vote.
Getting back to ground level, the people of Zimbabwe voted for Morgan
Tsvangirai. He got the numbers and it boggles the mind when I see the
ongoing frenzy to get Tsvangirai to stand aside and replace him with someone
who is clearly unacceptable to the voter. The reason why the people want
Tsvangirai is pretty obvious. They want change. They want freedom and
democracy. They are sick of sunup and Makoni spent the greater part of
Zimbabwe's destruction as a very senior ZANUPF zanupf politician at highest
Even today, Makoni won't apologise or come clean to the people for his
contribution to sustaining ZANUPF hegemony and Zimbabwe's destruction. He
remains silent on crucial issues and has played a carefully choreographed
game of avoidance. It seems there are a few who have fallen for it.
Fortunately the people of Zimbabwe have seen through this and voted
accordingly. They no longer want peace at all costs and they are sick to
death of appeasement. They want change. They certainly do not want any
mechanism which provides an enabler for ZANUPF to come back through the back
door. The days of Makabusi visionaries are over, it's now time to face
reality. Wishy-washy solutions are not going to help Zimbabwe or the next
generation. It has to be democracy or nothing. There is no in-between. It's
do or die time.
As regards the reconstruction of Zimbabwe with an MDC government, planning
and funding is already in place for redevelopment of our country. Zimbabwe
does not need a Makoni for this to happen. All it needs is for the people's
wishes to be respected in a free and fair democratic election. Therefore,
all energies should be directed into making this happen.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for
20 June 2008
Statement issued by Department of Foreign Affairs June 20 2008
It is Critical for Zimbabweans to have Free and Fair Elections, says
Minister Dlamini Zuma
New York- South African Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini
Zuma, says it is critical for Zimbabweans to have free and fair elections in
which the people of Zimbabwe can freely express their will.
Minister Dlamini Zuma was answering questions to reporters during her visit
to New York where she led the South African delegation to the UN Security
Council debate on Women in Peace and Security chaired by US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice. USA is the current President of the UN Security
Council. In this regard, the USA convened a round-table discussion on the
current situation in Zimbabwe [see here].
Answering to a question whether the Round Table discussion on Zimbabwe made
good progress in voicing the concerns of the global community for free and
fair elections in Zimbabwe and whether the UN is doing enough to ensure free
and fair elections, Minister Dlamini Zuma said "Well, I think that it is in
all our interests, and that of Zimbabwe and its people, to have free and
fair elections. It is important for the Zimbabwean people to be able to
express their choices and be able to express their will so that the results
do indeed reflect the true will of the Zimbabwean people. So I think we are
all at one when it comes to this. This is very important".
"Secondly, the UN has sent its Special Envoy - I am not sure whether he has
left Zimbabwe already but he has not returned to the UN yet - so he may
still be in Zimbabwe or en-route to the UN so he will be able to advise the
UN, having been on the ground and having discussed with the authorities and
the opposition in Zimbabwe to be able to brief the UN on what is going on
and what he thinks needs to be done" continued Minister Dlamini Zuma.
"And off course, it is also important to have international observers. As
you know, SADC decided to send many more observers this time and some are
already on the ground and others are en-route because SADC decided it was
important to have many observers and that they should not arrive just for
the elections but to be part of trying to create an environment that would
allow for free and fair elections and we have also encouraged other
regions - ECOWAS and so on - and whoever else has been invited to observe
the elections to send as many people as possible so that we can be off
assistance in creating an enabling environment to allow the Zimbabweans to
express themselves freely and fairly" concluded Minister Dlamini Zuma.
Njabulo Ncube and Charles Rukuni Staff Reporters
SA leader alarmed by scale of violence
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki yesterday held private talks separately
with President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai during
which he is said to have appealed to both leaders to immediately bring
political violence to an end in the run-up to next Friday's presidential
The meetings were held amid revelations that Mbeki, who was mandated by the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) in March last year to mediate
in the Zimbabwean crisis, has decided to put his push for a government of
national unity (GNU) on ice until after the June 27 run-off.
Sources privy to Mbeki's meetings, first in Harare with Tsvangirai in the
afternoon and late last night with President Mugabe in Bulawayo, said the
South African leader expressed grave concern over the scale and gravity of
They said Mbeki is alarmed that the run-off campaign has been marked by a
wave of murders, abductions, assaults, torture and arson countrywide, which
erupted almost immediately after the March 29 election results were
announced, with both sides being culpable.
He is also said to have expressed concern that the electoral playing field
remained uneven after disclosures by the MDC leader yesterday that he has
not been allowed to campaign freely since his return to Zimbabwe after a
month away during which he undertook a diplomatic shuttle to regional
countries and abroad to drum up support while President Mugabe has been
campaigning without restraint.
Mbeki arrived in Bulawayo shortly after 5pm yesterday and waited for
President Mugabe's arrival from his campaign in Gwanda at the Bulawayo
Rainbow Hotel. He then met the Zimbabwean leader for more than three hours
at State House.
President Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba told The Financial Gazette
yesterday that Mbeki's visit was part of the SADC mediation effort.
Charamba poured cold water on speculation that Mbeki had sought to bring
Tsvangirai and President Mugabe to agree on a GNU , which could have
resulted in the cancellation of the presidential run-off.
In a speech before the South African parliament last week Mbeki said his
priority was to help Zimbabwe find answers through dialogue and negotiation
rather than imposing a solution from abroad.
"They (elections) are a logical development of the harmonised elections of
March 29. You don't abort an election when you don't have an alternative,"
said Charamba. "Those talking about the GNU are from the opposition because
they are afraid of the June 27 elections," he added.
Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga confirmed Tsvangirai had met Mbeki
but could not divulge details of the meeting.
He said: "We can't walk around with our mouths wide open if this process is
On Tuesday, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) observer mission said that
violence was at the top of the agenda of the electoral process.
PAP observer Marwick Khumalo said his team had received 'many horrendous
stories,' while churches, doctors and human rights agencies dealing with
victims of the violence say members of President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party have
been overwhelmingly named as the main perpetrators.
Mbeki, widely criticised for his handling of the escalating situation in
Zimbabwe, after declaring in May that there was "no crisis," was said to be
eager to appeal to both candidates to exercise restraint in the next nine
days as he had now recognised it would be impossible to forgo the run-off
election and forge a government of national unity.
Tsvangirai recently wrote to Mbeki slamming his conduct as chairman of the
SADC-initiated talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC and accusing him of being
openly biased in favour of the 84-year-old incumbent.
It was not immediately clear if yesterday's talks touched on the
controversial letter but the sources said the MDC leader maintained that his
supporters were at the receiving end of the violence, with 70 listed as
having been killed since March 29 for allegedly voting for the MDC.
ZANU-PF has claimed that three people, one male war veteran and two female
supporters in Mutoko have died as a result of political violence.
Against a background of international outrage over the political violence,
pressure has been mounting on Mbeki in recent weeks to take more decisive
action leading to tangible results.
On Monday, three South African opposition parties refused to pass a budget
for the Foreign Affairs ministry, citing Mbeki's failure to deal effectively
with the Zimbabwean issue.
Mbeki was appointed by SADC in July last year as mediator in the Zimbabwean
crisis, whose contagion has affected the entire region.
He arrived in Harare at about noon yesterday and was driven straight to the
residence of the South African ambassador before holding talks with
Tsvangirai's spokesman, George Sibotshiwe, confirmed that the MDC leader met
with Mbeki, a few hours after holding another high-profile meeting with the
United Nations special envoy to Zimbabwe to assess the electoral environment
before next weeks presidential run-off.
"I can confirm that Tsvangirai met Mbeki but I am not privy to the
deliberations as I was not in the meeting," said Sibotshiwe.
President Mugabe and the South African leader were due to hold a press
conference after their meeting last night in Bulawayo.
Sources said Mbeki has acknowledged that while he was a proponent of a
negotiated settlement, he was cognisant of the fact that it was too late to
forge a government of national unity before the June 27 presidential run-off
due to the violence and sharp differences between the camps.
He, however, according to the sources, believes that the winner of the
run-off should embrace the idea so as to end Zimbabwe's nagging crisis once
and for all and that both President Mugabe and Tsvangirai should accept the
outcome of the run-off.
He is also understood to have been disturbed by reports allegedly emanating
from ZANU-PF that President Mugabe would never concede defeat even if he
lost to Tsvangirai, who outpolled him in the first round. Mbeki is said to
be aware that 95 percent of the violence has been attributed to ZANU-PF.
The South African leader was shocked when he was briefed on the extent and
magnitude of violence, especially in former ZANU-PF strongholds in
Mashonaland, Masvingo and Midlands, by a team of retired generals he
dispatched to Zimbabwe after the disputed March 29 elections as well as by
people on the ground, including the MDC.
The MDC is said to have kept Mbeki posted on the level of violence against
its supporters. Mbeki had dossiers sent to him by Tsvangirai on the
identities of some of the perpetrators of violence, such as state security
agents, war veterans and other culprits.
"President Mbeki knows President Mugabe is the one who has the means to stop
the violence in the country, especially in the rural areas where armed
soldiers have been spotted," said a source.
"Pretoria also says it is not wise and healthy to have violence as it
divides the people and it will eventually scupper the idea of a negotiated
settlement after the run-off," added the source.
Tsvangirai yesterday told both Mbeki and the UN envoy, Haile Menkerios, that
he was confident of winning although conditions on the ground were far from
conducive for any election, let alone a presidential one.
According to sources, he chronicled what he said were flagrant violations of
the SADC principles and guidelines on staging elections in a democracy, such
as denying a candidate the right to campaign freely.
MDC officials, such as Tendai Biti, the party's secretary general and
lawmaker Eric Matinenga, had been arrested ahead of the run-off, and the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had been militarised.
Tsvangirai told Mbeki that soldiers were being forced to vote for President
Mugabe under the watchful eye of their superiors amid threats of war against
Meanwhile, the leader of the African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma,
yesterday said he supported the sending of 1 000 election monitors from his
party to observe the presidential election.
Zuma is in line to succeed Mbeki as South African President following his
election to lead the ANC in Polokwane last year.
Yesterday, Zuma said he does not think Zimbabwe's runoff will be free.
"I don't think so," he said when asked whether the runoff will be fair. "I
think we will be lucky if we have a free election," added Zuma.
Clemence Manyukwe Senior Political Reporter
LOCAL Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has been sucked into a corruption
case that exposes the wanton looting of Harare City Council resources, after
defence lawyers suggested he should be the one to be prosecuted.
Former Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya appeared in court this week on
corruption charges stemming from allegations that as a public officer in
2006 he displayed favouritism towards then Harare Commission chairperson
Sekesai Makwa-varara by selling a council house in Highlands at an
undervalued price of $780 million instead of $5,5 billion.
However, exhibits submitted in court show that Chideya had vehemently
opposed the sale of the house to the former Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) Mabvuku councillor who defected to ZANU-PF following the sacking by
Chombo of MDC mayor Elias Mudzuri on charges of defying ministerial orders.
A valuation report prepared by Harare's acting director of housing, James
Chiyangwa on the sale of the Highlands property indicates Chombo directed
that the house be sold to Makwavarara. The report was submitted to court as
"The instruction to dispose the property to the sitting tenant came from the
Minister of Local Government and Urban Development," reads part of Chiyangwa's
Although council regulations stipulate that the house should be sold to a
sitting tenant, on Tuesday former Harare chamber secretary Otilia Dangwa
said she had occupied the house since 2003 and thus Makwavarara had never
been a sitting tenant.
During the same hearing defence lawyer Godfrey Mamvura suggested that Chombo
and Makwavarara should be the ones to be charged for corruption, not his
In his defence outline, Chideya said Chombo had directed that Makwavarara be
given a house despite that fact that she was living in a guesthouse at the
mayoral mansion compound.
He said the Minister directed in June 2005 and February 2006 that
Makwavarara was entitled to the house. "The accused believes that
Makwavarara actually paid $5,5 billion for the house despite the resolution
by the full commission to sell the house to her for $13, 750 billion,"
Chideya said in his defence outline.
"Council advertised the proposed sale of the house to Sekesayi Makwavarara
and there were more than 400 objections and over a thousand signed petitions
by Harare residents. The objections were totally ignored by council."
Chideya said he was blameless for the disposal of the house to the former
Harare Commission chairperson as the sale of the house was finalised after
he had been fired, allegedly at Makwavarara's instigation.
Minutes of a meeting between Chideya, Makwavarara, Dangwa and the then local
government deputy minister Morris Sakabuya written by the ministry's
permanent secretary Partson Mbirimi, which have been placed before the
court, also accuse the former commission chairperson of corrupt practices.
Makwavara was said to have been opposed to going to tender and in some
circumstances that council floated tenders; the majority of companies that
were short-listed belonged to her relatives.
"The acting chamber secretary agreed that all was not well at Town House in
that there were too many unprocedural incidents, which were happening,"
Mbiriri wrote in the minutes.
"Groceries for the mayor's house had become an issue because these were no
longer confined to teas, biscuits and sugar but had assumed larger
The permanent secretary also wrote that Makwavarara had been accused of
refusing to pay hotel bills, letting her spouse, identified only as Shito,
use a council house and using council resources at her Raffingora farm.
On Tuesday Dangwa told the court that during her tenure, Makwavarara would
incur expenses without approval and then demand that the council should pay.
She cited an example of how the former Harare Commission chairperson had
installed a satellite dish and equipment at her house and then brought the
matter up so that council could pay.
Ray Matikinye News Editor
DOCTORS who have been witnessing first hand the injuries inflicted on
victims of politically motivated violence since the March 29 harmonised
elections attended to more than 1 000 cases in May alone. Of the patients
attended to last month, 119 sustained fractures confirmed by X-rays. The
remainder had broken bones protruding through wounds, according to the
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR).
The rising numbers and the severity of cases of systematic violent assault
and torture last month, ZADHR says, was of a scale that threatened to
overwhelm specialist surgeons and anaesthetists' ability to cope,
particularly in managing the burden of serious physical trauma.
Zimbabwe's health system is facing a debilitating drug and manpower shortage
that has been constraining efficient service delivery to patients.
Since violence erupted in the countryside after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
outpolled President Robert Mugabe, hundreds of peasants in rural Zimbabwe
have been victims of politically induced violence perpetrated by both major
The scale of violence has alarmed regional and international leaders who
have called for steps to be taken to curb inter-party hostilities.
The violence, with a potential to surge out of control, has crept into towns
and cities in the past few weeks, as increased incidents of coercion,
threats and assaults have been reported in the capital.
ZADHR says its members attended to more than 300 displaced patients with
medical conditions such as pneumonia or asthma, or psychiatric diagnoses, in
particular anxiety and depression.
Many of the victims, whose medication had been lost or destroyed when they
were violently forced to flee their homes, by arson or threats of injury or
death, had chronic conditions such as diabetes.
"It is certain that a far greater number of patients will have been attended
to by other members of the health professions, especially nurses, but will
never have been near a doctor," the human rights doctors' grouping says.
Of the victims of assault, 36 patients had fractures of the ulna the inner
or medial bone of the forearm, 27 of the radius (the outer or lateral bone
of the forearm).
"Most of these fractures will have been sustained in attempts to defend the
face and upper body from violent blows with a weapon such as a heavy stick
or iron bar," the statement says.
It says of these 13 had fractures of both radius and ulna, four had
fractures of the ulna bones of both arms, and one patient had both radius
bones broken. Seventeen further cases of fractured wrist, forearm, or elbow
ZADR says at least two pregnant women, one 24 and the other 32 weeks
gestation, were systematically beaten on the back and buttocks, resulting in
extensive lacerations, bruising. They were among the 312 cases classified as
having severe soft tissue injury.
Although there have been reports of over 53 violent deaths up to the end of
May 2008, few postmortems are being undertaken and therefore doctors only
rarely confirm cases.
But ZADR confirmed seven deaths, which occurred in hospital following
admission for injuries sustained during violent assault or torture.
One confirmed a broken neck as the cause of death. A second died as a result
of bleeding inside the head with extensive facial injury indicative of
having been beaten on the head.
In the second case the body was found several days after abduction, and
although it was partially decomposed, the detailed post-mortem, which was
carried out did not reveal evidence of beating or torture.
The postmortem revealed that the head was forcibly extended; the face
covered and, with the victim prone, several attackers put their weight on
his back, consistent with death due to asphyxia.
ZAKA - Politicians in Masvingo are scrambling to podiums to echo threats
against the electorate of an outbreak of war if President Robert Mugabe
loses the presidential run-off election scheduled for next Friday.
Masvingo, which for years has formed the bulwark of ZANU-PF support, earned
the accolade of being a "one-party" province since independence despite
subsequent decades of intra-party factional fighting over control of the
vast province of more than 1, 5 million people.
Recently, politicians, high-ranking civil servants along with military
officers, have raised the spectre of civil war in the event of the incumbent
losing again to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai on June 27.
Addressing mourners at the funeral wake of late national hero, Retired
Lieutenant General Amoth Chimombe in Zaka East last Friday Major General
Engelbert Rugeje said ZANU-PF came into power after a protracted war and
therefore it would not let go of the country unless defeated by the MDC in a
Chimombe, who died last week after a short illness, was buried at the
National Heroes Acre last Saturday.
Rugeje said an MDC victory meant the country would go back to its former
British colonisers as MDC planned to give the land back to them, thus
"This country came through the bullet, not the pencil. Therefore, it will
not go by your X (voting mark) of the pencil. We cannot let the efforts of
such people as the late Chimombe to liberate this country just go to waste,"
Rugeje said in Shona.
He said soldiers had a duty to protect the country from "going back to the
Rugeje promised the villagers a helicopter-full of bullets when he returns
to nearby Jerera growth point, where he is due to address a ZANU-PF rally.
"Today, I came here by helicopter with the late Chimombe's body. The next
time I will come next week to Jerera, the helicopter will be full of
bullets. You know what you did," Rugeje threatened.
Other party stalwarts in the drought-wracked province have echoed similar
sentiments, saying ZANU-PF would take up arms if defeated by the MDC in the
second round of elections.
Addressing school heads at Chivi Rural District Council offices last week,
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi said an MDC victory meant war.
Mumbengegwi, who lost a senate seat to former long-serving Masvingo
governor, Josiah Hungwe, has no known liberation war credentials.
"This is up to you, if you want peace, you should vote for us. If you vote
for the MDC, we will go to war," Mumbengegwi said.
Speaking at the same function, Masvingo Resident Minister, Willard Chiwewe
said Zimbabweans had no choice but to vote for ZANU-PF.
"This is a choice with no choice. It's either you vote for war (voting for
the MDC) or peace," Chiwewe, who is former defence secretary, said.
Masvingo province recently formed a campaign committee to mobilise
independence war participants to fan out in urban areas and mines such as
Mashava and the vast sugar plantations in the Lowveld to "re-educate" the
The committee, chaired by Dzikamayi Mavhaire and provincial chairman Retired
Major Alex Mudavanhu, includes Kudakwashe Dzoro and the chairman of the
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, Admore Hwarari.
Clemence Manyukwe Senior Political Reporter
...as SADC leaders ditch quiet diplomacy
SOME members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are now abandoning the “quiet diplomacy” approach championed by South African leader Thabo Mbeki in what analysts said signified the growing apprehension over Harare’s policies and President Robert Mugabe in particular.
The Zimbabwean leader, who has been held in high esteem by his regional peers because of his elder statesman status, is blamed for reducing a once prosperous economy into a basket case. President Mugabe denies any form of mismanagement on the part of his administration and instead accuses Britain and its allies of crippling the economy by way of sanctions.
But of late critics have spoken out loud against what they see as deliberate attempts by ZANU-PF to deny the electorate its right to determine who should govern them.
Last week Botswana summoned Zimbabwe’s ambassador to that country, Thomas Mandigora, to protest the detention of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the opposition party’s secretary general, Tendai Biti.
“The repeated arrests and detentions are unacceptable and deserve condemnation as they violate the principles and objectives of the SADC Treaty,” the Botswana government said in a statement.
The SADC Treaty, which Zimbabwe acceded to, provides among other things guidelines with regard to the rule of law, democracy, good governance and human rights practices.
Botswana’s protest followed the announcement by Zambia that it had sent a diplomatic note to the Zimbabwean government taking issue with the verbal attacks the country’s President, Levi Mwanawasa, had been subjected to in the local state media.
Lusaka described as “malicious” statements to the effect that Mwanawasa had been hired by western nations to plot President Mugabe’s ouster.
The state media also accused the neighboring country’s head of state, as chair of SADC of “unprocedurally” convening a meeting in Zambia and another on the sidelines of an international summit in Japan.
“We have lodged a note-verbal, (diplomatic communication) to the Zimbabwean government to protest over the sustained malicious campaign against Zambia,” Kabinga Pande, Zambia’s foreign minister said at a press conference.
A fortnight ago Zambian Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, Mike Mulongoti berated the chairman of ZANU-PF’s information committee, Patrick Chinamasa for statements directed at Mwanawasa in his capacity as SADC chairman.
Mulongoti was reacting to statements by Chinamasa that Mwanawasa was colluding with Zimbabwe’s detractors by not calling for the lifting of sanction imposed by the West.
And early this month, Zambia announced that it had granted political asylum to 12 MDC members fleeing political violence in Zimbabwe. They will be looked after by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
In April Mwanawasa urged African countries not to allow a Chinese ship carrying armaments destined for Zimbabwe to dock in their ports in a controversy that resulted in the freighter failing to off load its cargo in South Africa, Mozambique and Angola.
In addition to governments, more and more eminent Africans are speaking out against some of the Zimbabwean government’s policies and decisions.
In a marked departure from his trademark approach, Mbeki last week described the situation in Zimbabwe as a “crisis”, adding in apparent reference to the detention of MDC leader and a number of opposition Members of Parliament: “Disruption of electoral activities of some of the parties is a cause for serious concern.”
Fourteen former African heads of state, two ex-heads of the United Nations and some civic and business leaders have also called on the Zimbabwean government to ensure that the June 27 election is free and fair.
The group, including former UN chiefs Koffi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali and former presidents Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Abdusalami Abubakar of Nigeria, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae of Botswana said the government should allow non governmental organisations to continue their humanitarian work.
“We call for an end to the violence and intimidation, and restoration of full access for humanitarian and aid agencies,” the eminent Africans said.
Annan was more blunt when he said: “Blame for inaction in the face of serious human rights violations can be shared among those who value abstract notions of sovereignty more than the lives of real families; those whose reflex of solidarity puts them on the side of governments and not of peoples; and those who fear that action to stop the violations would jeopardize their commercial interests.”
President Mugabe has said he does not regret suspending the operations of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) because they were campaigning for the MDC, a charge they deny.
He accused some NGOs of collecting villagers’ ID cards, after promising to bring them food but disenfranchising them by never returning the documents.
Ray Matikinye News Editor
HUNDREDS of employees, working for humanitarian organisations and other
private voluntary organisations risk becoming redundant owing to a
government decree issued last week suspending the operations of these
A political impasse that unfolded soon after the March 29 elections has
mutated to entrap civic organisations in a political whirlpool as government
ratchets pressure on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in a fresh
crackdown after accusing them of political involvement in support of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Last week, Public Service, Labour and Social Services Minister Nicholas
Goche suspended the operations of NGOs and private voluntary organisation in
a fresh clampdown. He decreed that they register afresh
According to the National Association of Non Governmental Organisations
(NANGO) current register there are more than 1 000 non-governmental
organisations engaged in various activities ranging from poverty
alleviation, health, food provision and security to those that deal with
NGOs employ support staff, mostly Zimbabweans, at various levels, and it is
these jobs which are at risk at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing high
levels of unemployment and critical shortages of skilled personnel.
Each of these organisations has a sizeable complement of staff in some
instances running into hundreds.
Concerns have been raised about the financial impact of the suspension, in
terms of the foreign currency inflows that NGOs generate.
Fambai Ngirande, advocacy and public policy manager for NANGO estimates that
Zimbabwe could lose more than US$50 million that international donors used
to remit through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for use by
non-governmental organisation in their humanitarian operations.
"At the last meeting we had with the RBZ following delays by the central
bank in releasing these remittances, our members estimated that US$50
million was outstanding but this figure represents only a fraction of the
global foreign currency that the country could lose because of the
decision," Ngirande said.
The cumulative losses include skills transfers facilitated by NGO experts
who have been seconded to Zimbabwe alongside the expertise they impart to
communities they have been working in.
It is also difficult for NGOs to re-establish offices in this country once
they have relocated elsewhere in the region.
"The sheer economic impact can be translated into a loss of business for
service providers and manufacturers alike," Ngirande says.
"Manufacturers provided the food that humanitarian organisations distributed
to the needy, while others transacted business worth billions of dollars
with the various NGOs. All these will feel the impact of the suspension."
Maria Saldanha, the reports officer for the World Food Programme said
although her organisation was not affected by the decree because it provided
food aid to NGOs for them to distribute, the suspension was a major setback
"It is a setback because about 314 000 people are dependant on NGOs for
food. There are also the disabled, orphaned, elderly and people living with
HIV/Aids who will be adversely affected," Saldanha said.
"Without food, treatment is impossible for people that need to take
medication and drugs," she added
She said despite this not being the peak hunger season, estimates were that
at least 300 000 people needed assistance in one form of the other.
According to reports, Zimbabwe has started importing food from South Africa
The South African Grain Information Service, a company providing market
information says a 300,000 metric tonne (mt) order of 'unbagged' maize for
Zimbabwe had been placed.
President Robert Mugabe, who squares off against MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in the June 27 runoff has told supporters during his campaign
rallies that Zimbabwe had imported 600 000 mt of maize to feed starving
villagers in rural areas and reduce the impact of a mealie-meal shortage in
At current prices of about R1, 800 (US$231) per metric ton for white maize,
a 300,000mt white maize consignment would cost Zimbabwe about US$70 million,
before transport costs are factored in.
President Mugabe insists he has nothing to apologise for after suspending
the operations of NGOs he accuses of using food handouts as a weapon to
"effect illegal regime change".
International donor agencies provided food aid to 4.1 million people, more
than a third of the population, between October last year and March this
Critics say government has descended so heavily on private voluntary
organisations so as to wobble their efforts to expose human right abuses.
Police have raided the offices of several organisations and detained a
number of the organisations' executives for interrogation on allegations of
involvement and meddling in politics and abetting the West's regime change
In a statement on Monday, American Democratic party presidential candidate,
Barrack Obama said the Zimbabwean government was once again denying Zimbabwe's
citizens food donated by the international community, including the United
States, to punish the people for voting peacefully for change.
"This egregious abuse is part of a broader campaign of intimidation and
repression designed to manipulate the results of the June 27 presidential
run-off elections," Obama, who could become the United States' first black
Sources told The Financial Gazette that the NGOs were engaged in delicate
talks with the government to try to persuade it to reverse its decision.
"We are still compiling information and for now we have made a collective
decision not to speak to the media. But it's a challenge that is getting
darker and thicker," an official who declined to be named said.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
New political status sticking point
BULAWAYO - A storm is brewing among former ZIPRA fighters over the ownership
of properties that belong to their company Nitram Holdings following the
cross-over by the chairman of the Board of Trustees Dumiso Dabengwa from
ZANU-PF to Kusile/Mavambo.
Some of the former fighters say Dabengwa should have handed the properties
back to them before making move because it was now not clear whether the
properties belong to them or to Dabengwa and the Mavambo Movement.
Dabengwa brushed off the complaints saying nothing had changed. The
properties still belong to Nitram, which is a private company and, as such,
The properties, which include Castle Arms Motel in Bulawayo, Woodglen Farm
in Mguza, Ascot and Nest Egg farms near Khami, Hampton Farm in Gweru and
Black Cat Removals in Bulawayo, were seized by the government in 1982 during
a crackdown on ZAPU after the alleged discovery of arms on these properties.
The government seized 13 properties all together but some of them were
liquidated leaving only six, which were handed back to senior ZIPRA command.
It is not clear when the properties were handed back, but it could have been
just before the presidential elections of 2002 as reports about the
properties only surfaced in 2003. The properties have, however, not yet been
officially transferred back to the owners.
Nitram bought the properties with funds contributed by former ZIPRA fighters
who each chipped in with $50 (then more than US$50) while they were still at
Members of the Board of Trustees have been reluctant to talk about the
properties and what they are doing to resuscitate them or to get title deeds
for the properties back.
Some of the former combatants complained that they were afraid that they
could lose the properties because of Dabengwa's political decision,
especially if there was a change of government. They said things would still
be complicated even if ZANU-PF remained in power because Dabengwa now
belonged to the opposition yet the owners of the properties were members of
Dabengwa, however, said he did not belong to any political party. Mavambo
was not a political party but a movement. Besides, the properties belonged
to Nitram, which is a private company, and not a political party.
One of the former combatants who preferred anonymity, however, said Dabengwa
could not divorce the properties from ZAPU and ZIPRA because they were
seized solely because they belonged to ZAPU though Nitram owned them.
"These are politically sensitive properties," the ex-fighter said. "Dabengwa
cannot therefore claim that they are apolitical. He should have done the
sensible thing and should have stood down from the board of Trustees and let
us takeover our properties."
"There is also a general feeling that members of the Board of Trustees have
outlived their term of office because they should have held elections two or
three years ago but they have hung on, and, we suspect, they have been
blocking the transfer of the properties for their own selfish reasons."
Clemence Manyukwe Senior Political Reporter
THE government has fired the head of another state controlled media entity,
Transmedia, who ruffled the feathers of legislators last year when he told a
special parliamentary committee hearing that there was nothing wrong with
villagers listening to Studio 7, the Voice of America programme beamed into
Zimbabwe from Washington.
The government deems Studio7 a "pirate station", and has listed it as one of
a number of "hostile" stations it says are part of a Western "regime change
Primrose Kurasha, the acting board chairperson of Transmedia, announced
yesterday that Alfred Mandere was no longer the parastatal's chief executive
"The board of directors of Transmedia Corporation (Pvt) Ltd kindly advises
that Mr Alfred Mandere, the former chief executive officer, is no longer an
employee of the corporation," Kurasha announced in a terse advertisement.
She refused to elaborate on the reasons behind Mandere's departure.
Mandere could not be reached for comment.
The dismissal of the Transmedia boss comes weeks after the government sacked
Henry Muradzikwa, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings chief executive, on
allegations of failing to prop up ZANU-PF by undertaking through the public
broadcaster, a more robust campaign in the run-up to the March 29 elections,
resulting in the ruling party and its presidential candidate, President
Robert Mugabe, losing the poll to the Movement for Democratic Change.
Eight senior ZBC journalists, including general manager Robson Mhandu and
news editor Patrice Makova, have also been suspended on full benefits.
But media analysts say the suspension is a first step towards their imminent
departure from Pocket's Hill.
During a hearing by the parliamentary committee on Transport and
Communi-cations last year, Mandere stunned ZANU-PF legislators by suggesting
that ZBC should encourage the use of shortwave in areas not covered by its
"But they would end up listening to Studio7," said then ZANU-PF Chitungwiza
Senator Forbes Magadu, to which Mandere replied: "There is nothing wrong
Mandere subsequently placed advertisements in the state media denying saying
it was alright for villagers to listen to Studio 7.
But Harare lawyer Chris Mhike, who is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe
Association of Community Radio Stations, wrote an opinion article in The
Financial Gazette in which he insisted Mandere had indeed said what he
sought to deny subsequently.
Mhike had attended the committee hearing where Muradzikwa and Information
and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu were present.
"Although Mandere now denies. the truth of the matter is that he did make
statements relating to Studio 7.
"He could now be in trouble about it, hence the publication of the
'self-cleansing' advert," Mhike wrote.
"Ndlovu and Muradzikwa were not amused by Mandere's frank speech. Some
members of the audience, in hushed voices, observed that Mandere could lose
his job after the hearing."
Shame Makoshori Senior Business Reporter
Move set to worsen shortages
THE National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) has discontinued the
approval of price increments to millers and producers of other basic
commodities as government commenced its battle to win the hearts of an
agitated electorate ahead of June 27 presidential elections.
But the move is expected to further worsen commodity shortages in the
President Robert Mugabe squares up against opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai on June 27 in a poll in
which the economy could play a major part in deciding who is likely to be
elected to lead the country for the next five years.
"The NIPC will not grant further price increases on any basic commodity
until the end of June 2008," a source told The Financial Gazette.
"However, operational costs remain on the rise and a crackdown on millers by
the NIPC is underway. Some persons of no particular origin masquerading as
NIPC officials and of violent disposition are raiding millers demanding
products and beating up personnel," added the source.
The Financial Gazette understands that while millers were bleeding from
rapid increases in overheads, they had, however, agreed to comply with the
government directive to stop price increases unless requisite approvals were
granted by the NIPC.
"We have agreed that all millers must comply with NIPC prices and we will
not submit new price increases unless invited to do so," our source said.
Milling companies, that have battled to break even due to acute shortages of
mealie-meal and price controls, say they are producing at a loss.
Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis in history, characterised
by acute food shortages and escalating commodity prices.
President Mugabe's critics have blamed the crisis on mismanagement, but the
government blames the crisis on drought and targeted economic sanctions from
Meanwhile, the executive committee of the Grain Millers Association of
Zimbabwe (GMAZ), a grouping of mainly small millers, has given an emphatic
nod to proposals that they merge with the Millers Association of Zimbabwe
The merger, which was proposed last month, is expected to cement networks
between milling companies and perhaps improve strained relations with the
Blue Ribbon Industries financial director Jose Manzira and National Foods
Limited managing director Chipo Nheta, key members of the MAZ, have been
co-opted into the National Executive Committee of GMAZ.
NAMIBIA this week increased power imports from Zimbabwe under a US$40
million loan agreement signed with Zimbabwe last year for the refurbishment
of the Hwange power plant.
Reports from Namibia indicated that NamPower, Namibia's power utility,
increased power imports from Zimbabwe on Sunday to 80 MW as it battled to
secure its own supplies.
NamPower had started receiving 40MW of electricity supplies from Zimbabwe
under the deal, for which an additional US$10 million was extended to the
country at the end of 2007.
The deal, described by NamPower as "one of the best power supply deals ever
secured by the company in the interest of the country", involved a firm
power supply agreement in terms of which NamPower would receive electricity
from Hwange, which should start flowing as early as this month.
Firm electricity exports to Namibia would be increased on a pro-rata basis
once Hwange rehabilitates all its units.
NamPower will then start receiving firm supplies amounting to 150 MW with
effect from July 2008 for a minimum of five years.
The power would come cheap for the Namibians.
From the four rehabilitated units, NamPower would draw the 150 MW and pay
for the drawn power at US0.21 per KWh. Forty percent of the payment would go
towards serving the US$40 million loan.
The Financial Gazette reported in August last year that Zimbabwe's power
supply situation remained precarious, despite the US$40 million deal signed
with NamPower for the refurbishment of the Hwange Thermal Power Plant.
In fact, investigations by The Financial Gazette had revealed that Zimbabwe's
power utility, ZESA, was unable to start producing increased electricity
from Hwange in January as scheduled, and had been forced to start exporting
electricity to Namibia from the scant local supplies under the deal.
Synodia Bhasera Staff Reporter
Elections should restore the dignity of women, say groups
WITH eight days to go before the presidential run-off elections, Zimbabwean
women are looking for nothing short of a government, which will implement
measures to make it possible for their lives to return to normal, gender
lobbyists say. Since the March 29 elections whose inconclusive outcome
sparked widespread violence, women have borne the brunt of the upheavals and
become victims of political intimidation.
About 6 800 girls are raped annually in Zimbabwe, but with the on-going
displacements, the number is expected to treble, according to the Women's
Coalition of Zimbabwe.
Most female teachers have been displaced, resulting in many fleeing to other
countries and hundreds seeking refuge in cities and towns in Zimbabwe.
What is poignant about the violence, which first flared up in the
countryside, but has been spreading into towns and cities is that women are
being beaten not because they voted or campaigned for the opposition, but
because their husbands and male relatives are alleged to have voted for the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"We are looking for restoration where the humanitarian issues are solved,
where everybody's security is guaranteed, where there is the rule of law and
the economy is working again," said Netsai Mushonga, coordinator for Women's
Coalition of Zimbabwe.
"As Zimbabwean women, we want to be proud to be Zimbabweans," Mushonga said.
In the run-up to the March 29 elections, the Women's Trust lobbied political
parties vigorously through radio and television for the inclusion of women
candidates for election as councillors, senators and Members of Parliament.
"The election should be violence free. Any form of violence will affect us
more as women," said Fiona Chimombe, communication officer with Women's
Trust, a lobby group campaigning for the inclusion of more women in
"Women from all corners of the country should go and vote. It is our right
as women to participate in the electoral processes of our country and
determine our destiny."
Lobbyists complain that for most of the 28 years of independence, very
little was done about women's empowerment and emancipation until the advent
of the Gender and Domestic Violence Act and when organisations began raising
issues affecting women.
Up to then, government had not been overly concerned about women's issues or
about women as a group. Politicians were only interested in exploiting women
as campaign agents during elections when they cheered and sang at rallies.
The government has dealt with women's issues only when it was convenient to
exploit them so as to spruce up its image. But lately, political parties
have made strides in incorporating women into positions of authority through
Says Fanny Chirisa, senior programme officer for Women in Parliament Support
Unit: "We are still on the pledge we made on March 8, that as women we
should vote in peace for peace." But she admits that her organisation has
not spoken out about the widespread violence in the country, in which women
have been caught in the crossfire.
"We have not done much to assist women who have been victims of political
violence. The parliamentarians have not contacted us, so we cannot go into
their constituencies without their permission."
Mushonga says women want the government to implement international
conventions, which it has acceded to.
"We want international conventions like CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination
of All forms of Discrimination Against Women) to be implemented at the local
level so that they protect women's interests in a holistic manner. The
constitution we currently have allows discrimination based on culture,"
Zimbabwe is a signatory to CEDAW, which requires governments to root out
discrimination against women in political and public life. But years after
signing the convention, the government is yet to incorporate CEDAW into
national laws. Every month, thousands of women cross the border into
neighbouring countries like Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, South
Africa and some go as far abroad as Dubai and China to sell and buy goods to
support their families.
"We no longer want to be beggars. We no longer want to be the laughing stock
in the region. This election should restore our dignity as women," Mushonga
With the country's inflation racing towards the two million percent mark,
women have become victims of the nine-year economic recession.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
As ZANU-PF gears up to reverse the March 29 electoral defeat
Government has intensified its crackdown on civil society organisations and
human rights lawyers as it gears up to reverse the March 29 electoral defeat
in the June 27 presidential run-off against opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai, who MDC insiders claim is under pressure to forge a government
of national unity with the incumbent, outpolled President Robert Mugabe by
almost 200 000 votes in the March 29 elections, but has not been allowed to
roll-out his presidential campaign while the incumbent campaigns countrywide
Reports released by non-governmental organisations and human rights
defenders since the beginning of June, indicate that these organisations are
under siege, with scores of them having been raided and their officials
either assaulted or arrested.
Information at hand shows that, to date, armed state security agents have
stormed the offices of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the Christian
Alliance, Zimbabwe Human Rights, Zimcet, the Progressive Teachers' Union of
Zimbabwe and the National Constitutional Assembly, among others.
On Thursday last week police closed the offices of the Gweru Agenda and
Gwanda Agenda on the grounds that they were operating illegally.
Fambai Ngirande, the advocacy and public policy manager for the National
Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO), said the pressure
group was concerned about the onslaught against the generality of its
members. He denied these organisations were meddling in politics as
"NANGO reiterates that the NGO sector has meticulously endeavoured to remain
non-partisan and to adhere to international humanitarian standards and
principles," Ngirande said.
"Further, NANGO does not regard the said investigations into NGO operations
to be sufficient grounds to jeopardise the humanitarian needs of millions of
Zimbabweans who are being supported by NGO field operations or as a basis
for the continued victimisation of civil society activists, human rights
defenders, aid workers, election monitors or other personnel linked to the
Ngirande said an appeal challenging the closure of an organisation in Gweru
on the basis of the government's suspension circular has been lodged with
the Bulawayo High Court.
Two prominent human rights lawyers, Andrew Makoni and Harrison Nkomo, who
have represented human rights defenders, MDC officials and activists,
including the slain Tonderai Ndira, have been forced to flee to South
Africa, because of threats to their lives, according to Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights (ZLHR).
"These are the most recent examples of a deeply disturbing clampdown on the
legal profession, but are not the only cases to have been reported recently
to ZLHR," the organisation's national director, Irene Petras, said.
"ZLHR wishes to warn of the dire consequences ahead for human rights
defenders, civic organisations and legitimate political party leaders and
members as a result of the clampdown on lawyers. Such targeting of lawyers -
even the mere allegation that there exists a 'list' of lawyers for
elimination - has a chilling effect on all members of the legal profession
and, by implication, on the affected individuals whose rights they seek to
protect," she said.
Petras added that ZLHR was "bitter" over the manner in which the Attorney
General's Office, allegedly working in cahoots with state security agents,
has handled the case of MDC Buhera West House of Assembly member-elect, Eric
Officials at other non-governmental organisations told The Financial Gazette
that state security agents had for the past week been visiting their offices
demanding registration certificates, names and individual addresses of board
members of their respective organisations.
Last week, a number of civic society organisations in Harare were, according
to officials, temporarily forced to close and send employees home for fear
of being arrested. Sources said state security agents were on the prowl
countrywide to identify pressure groups suspected to be sympathetic to or
drumming up support for the MDC.
In some cases, it was reported; the state security agents seized documents,
computers, laptops and hard-drives, before arresting some officials.
In the remote town of Binga in Matabeleland North, a rural stronghold of the
opposition MDC since the historic 2000 elections, state security agents on
June 8 arrested 14 members of public groups organised by the Media
Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ).
They were released without charge after spending three days in police
holding cells in Binga.
The NCA said two of its regional offices were closed and members were
assaulted in the crackdown the organisation described as state-sponsored
Tsvangirai said last week, 66 MDC members had been killed since March 29, a
statement, which has not been publicly disputed by the police.
On Sunday, while addressing presidential campaign rallies in the Midlands,
President Mugabe said his government had no qualms about suspending the
operations of non-governmental organisations because they were using food
handouts as a means to effect illegal regime change.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
. . . but inflation set to keep galloping
ZIMBABWEANS have welcomed new withdrawal thresholds and the introduction of
higher denomination bearer cheques by the central bank last week, saying it
was now easier to transact.
But they decried the escalation of prices on the domestic market, saying the
erosion of value on the local currency would soon require the introduction
of even higher denomination notes unless the central bank lopped off zeros
from the country's currency.
They said this week cash was now readily available from financial
institutions because of the higher denomination bearer cheques, mitigating a
six month cash crunch that triggered long queues in banks, as depositors
battled to make withdrawal.
However, the queues have again started forming in the banking halls,
signalling the unprecedented decline in value of the local currency and the
increasing demand for cash in the economy.
In May, Zimbabwe introduced special high-value agro-cheques, which the
central bank said were meant to ease transaction problems for farmers during
the current agricultural marketing season.
The agro cheques, which are in $5 billion, $25 billion and $50 billion
denominations, are now widely circulating in the economy and joined other
bearer cheques, with the highest in the denomination of $500 million.
"In terms of handling large piles of money, the agro cheques have alleviated
our plight," said Never Kazembe, a commodity broker.
"But the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) could soon be forced to introduce
more denominations in a short space of time. The real solution is the
solving of the underlying causes of the hyperinflation, not printing money,"
Stella Machipisa, an accountant with a local insurance company, said the
problems had been temporarily solved but she was worried long queues were
already returning to the banks.
"Go to the banks and see how long the queues have become despite the
introduction of the higher notes," she said.
"When they were introduced people's salaries were increased and inflation
has not stopped, so people are always flooding banks.
"The agro bills' positive impact is slowly being overtaken by the sad events
in the economy," she said.
Reports have suggested that official inflation is estimated to be around 1,7
million percent, based on what they described as leaks from the Central
Statistical Office, but analysts said the inflation figure could be well
beyond 2,5 million percent. The Zimbabwe dollar had significantly weakened
on the official exchange market ever since the currency was floated in April
to stop parallel market trade.
The parallel market rate of the Zimbabwe dollar has also weakened in line
with the depreciation of the currency on the official market.
The effect of this has been to push prices up almost on a daily basis.
A visit to banking halls around the central business district area indicated
that queues were getting longer each day.
The country's main industry body, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(CZI) recently said traders were beginning to reject Zimbabwe's fast
depreciating currency because of the severe economic crisis.
"We need to act as a matter of extreme urgency to reduce money supply
growth," CZI president Callisto Jokonya said, blaming the currency's erosion
of value on money supply growth.
"If we continue with the policy of injecting massive amounts of liquidity
into the economy we will continue to see continous depreciation of the
currency," Jokonya said.
"Already, we are seeing in both urban and rural areas a phenomenon where
small traders, landlords and individuals are refusing payment in local
currency and insisting on either barter deals, for example payment in
cooking oil or foreign currency. Our number one enemy is the excess of the
Zimbabwe dollar on the market," said Jokonya.
But RBZ governor, Gedion Gono, dismissed the CZI's assertions as "overly
simplistic", saying the current situation made it imperative to continue
injecting more money into the economy.
"Merely shrinking the money supply belt will not do. Any suggestions to the
contrary will be patently simplistic and naive," said Gono.
Zimbabwe is currently battling its worst economic crisis in history,
characterised by acute food, fuel and electricity shortages triggered
largely by biting foreign currency shortages triggered by the suspension of
balance of payment support from international financiers.
While the country is endowed with vast mineral resources, these have not
been aggressively tapped to earn the country enough foreign currency and
salvage it from the crisis, now in its 10th year.
The crisis has resulted in a break down of infrastructure, which was once
the envy of many African nations.
I REFER to Marumenjeya's article "The media, academics turn into political
activists" in The Financial Gazette of May 29-June 4.
Marumenjeya sanctimoniously asks: "How many have bothered to find out why
Zimbabwe has loomed so large in Western international campaign for
"Isn't it suspicious that the United States and the United Kingdom want to
champion democracy in Zimbabwe when during the armed struggle they
considered ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU as terrorists?"
He/she goes on to highlight that Nelson Mandela was only recently removed
from the list of terrorists.
This may come as a disappointment to Marumenjeya, but this is as old a
thesis as it can ever be.
Many academics and journalists have highlighted the hypocrisy of the West.
Last year the New African Magazine, for example, dedicated a whole issue to
(President) Mugabe's cause, emphasising the double standards of the West.
Our own academics, (e.g. Mararike, Chivaura, Kurebwa and Mupepereki),
highlight the hypocrisy of the West on our television on a daily basis. Yes,
even we ordinary Zimbabweans are very much aware that the West's foreign
policy has always been guided by national interests and the strong belief in
the superiority of the white race.
There is therefore nothing suspicious about the US or the UK supporting the
cause of white Zimbabweans. Should we not, in fact, be learning from them.
This is where I find Marumenjeya's analysis rather shallow. If we, as
Africans were even half as proud in ourselves and valued African lives to
the extent that the whites value white lives, Africa would long have ceased
to be the continent of wars, hunger, poverty and disease.
Whining about colonial ills and playing the victim has become a favourite
pastime for us, the African people. We are chronic underperformers
consistently on the lookout for scapegoats and conspiracy theories.
I honestly did not know whether to laugh or cry when Marumenjeya
rhetorically posed the questions: "Who brought democracy to Africa? Who
brought dignity to Africans? Who empowered Africans? Who brought mass
education to the masses?"
He actually believes that there is democracy on the continent, that Africans
are an empowered and dignified group of people. The reality is that the
number of democratically elected governments on the African continent does
not even exceed 10 and 50 percent of Africans cannot afford one decent meal
Ninety percent of Zimbabwe's population lives below the poverty datum line.
Even in the face of xenophobic attacks, Zimbabweans have vowed to stay in
South Africa because they still feel safer and more economical secure in
South Africa than would be the case back home. Where is the dignity in that?
The fact that indigenous Africans wrested political power from colonialists,
has brought neither dignity nor empowerment to ordinary Africans. The
liberators have been more disdainful to their own people to an extent that
would make former colonialists green with envy.
How dare Marumenjeya talks about dignity to Zimbabweans when a quarter of
the population has fled hunger, unemployment and political persecution?
Zimbabwean professionals clean floors and do other menial jobs in South
Africa, Botswana and western capitals so as to look after themselves and
families back home.
I am sure Marumenjeya has seen the horrific images of torture victims
emanating from his home country. Many have died. President Robert Mugabe,
the liberator, has now turned on his people, once again as he did in
Matabeleland for daring to exercise their democratic rights - something
which, ironically, he claims to have ushered in.
From Page 27
How does that bring dignity to Africans? The mass education that happened in
the first decade of independence whose foundation lay in donor funds is now
a thing of the past. Half the rural schools have closed as teachers flee
both political violence and a collapsed economy.
There is a real danger that we will have a generation of children who will
seek the assistance of their parents to read and write letters.
Marumenjeya disparagingly claims that the US and the UK want to maintain
control "through an MDC vassal state". That is very insulting to the
intelligence of the long suffering Zimbabweans, who have been dehumanised
and pauperised by ZANU-PF's policies.
President Mugabe himself was a darling of the West for two decades. This
partly explains why 20 000 people were callously murdered in Matabeleland
and the Midlands with impunity between 1982 and 1987. To try and blame the
West for ZANU-PF's defeat at the polls is to imply that Zimba-bweans need
the West to tell them that they are suffering. If that were the case why did
Zimbabweans vote for President Mugabe and not the pro-West Muzorewa in 1980?
Indeed, the West turned a blind eye to the Rwanda genocide. "Contrast it"
says Marumenjeya, "with the West's keen interest in Zimbabwe where ONLY (my
emphasis) 10 whites died in 2000 during the fast track land reform.
Incidentally, what kind of land reform displaces more people than it
benefits? But I digress. For me the more pertinent question is why Africa
did nothing to save African lives.
For goodness sake it was Africans killing fellow Africans! Why did we expect
our erstwhile colonizers whose disdain for the black race has never really
been a secret to come to the rescue of the Rwandese when we had no such
expectations from the Organisation of African Unity? While racism and
hypocrisy should never be condoned, evidence points to us Africans being our
With a great deal of annoyance, Marumenjeya goes further to say, "within a
few weeks Zimbabwe came to dominate the headlines of major international
media organisations such as BBC,CNN and even Hello magazine following the
death of white farmer David Stevens". Interestingly he/she forgot to mention
that over 200 black lives were lost.
Should we not as Africans hang our heads in shame? The white world mourned
and highlighted the death of 10 of their kith and kin while the death of 20
times more blacks (at the hands of their own African government) was a
non-event to us Africans. Where is our pride and dignity as a people? Why do
we disrespect ourselves so much?
Marumenjeya also argues that Western attempts to remove ZANU-PF from power
are motivated by President Mugabe's "intention to lessen his country's
dependence on the West by strengthening economic and military ties with
This is laughable. Firstly, if the US had genuinely wanted President Mugabe
out, they would have removed him a long time ago as they have done with many
regimes, which stood in the way of US interests around the globe. Zimbabwe
is not of sufficient economic and strategic interest to the US, which is why
the verbal condemnations are not accompanied by action.
Secondly, President Mugabe is in no position to forge economic and military
ties with Asian countries.
Zimbabwe is bankrupt. Our industries are operating at 5 percent of capacity
and even tobacco production has fallen to a mere 83 million kilogrammes from
over 200 million kilogrammes before the land invasions. We have nothing to
offer other countries. None of our Asian friends have come to invest in
Our Chinese friends have demonstrated their disinterest by bypassing us on
their numerous trips to Africa. The bottom line is that it is not just the
West, which needs a stable environment, where the rule of law prevails and
property rights are protected by law.
As a matter of fact, why was ZANU-PF still seeking to lessen its dependence
on the West more than two decades after it took power? Icharumurika riini?
(When will it be weaned?) When is he going to find it shameful to beg? Even
as President Mugabe lambasts the West on a daily basis, Zimba-bweans are
being fed by America and Britain. We should be ashamed.
It is also quite tragic for Marumenjeya to seek to blame the West for
Zimbabwe's economic collapse. Surely, he knows about the government's
relentless onslaught on the economy starting with the unsustainable free
education and health services, which were not matched with increased
Our unproductive cabinet is one of the biggest on the planet and its perks
are unprecedented - an unrelenting drain on the fiscus. We also know about
corruption (the plunder of the war victims compensation fund among other
things), the Democratic Republic of Congo adventure, which cost us in excess
of a million US dollars a day, never mind the severe depletion of our
Then there was the 1997 massive payout of $5 billion to the so-called war
vets. Only President Mugabe can explain why he did it.
It is amazing that although there were no more than 27 000 ex-combatants in
1980, payouts were made to 50 000.
These continue to receive monthly pensions that exceed salaries of a large
percentage of civil servants.
Some of the best entrepreneurial brains have been hounded out of the country
where their skills benefit other countries. Strive Masiyiwa had to take his
own government to court in order to be allowed to create employment for his
fellow country men!
The closure of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday, among other
papers, resulted in the loss of over a thousand jobs. We now read South
African newspapers. How twisted is that? What did the madness that
Marumenjeya calls the fast track land reform programme do to our economy?
Wherein lies the hand of the West in all this recklessness?
Marumenjeya talks about droughts and regionwide energy shortages having
contributed to Zimbabwe's misery but fails to explain why in the last eight
years our economy shrank by 50 percent, while all SADC economies achieved
annual growths of over 5 percent on average. What happened to Zimbabwe's
legendary irrigation infrastructure, which used to keep us well fed even
during drought years?
Perhaps the most puzzling part of Marumenjeya's article is where he seeks to
discredit NGOs for pushing for voter registration, the improvement of the
quality of the voters' roll and a representative electoral commission.
What is wrong with pushing for these basic essentials for a fair election?
The writer does not want foreigners to fund our elections but in the same
breath bemoans their unwillingness to fund other economic activities.
A question of beggars being choosers, huh? The question to ask is, how come
our government is not interested in an accurate voters' roll? When will
African governments take full responsibilities over the gaps that end up
being filled by NGOs, including feeding their own people?
Marumenjeya concludes by appealing to the "media and academia not to
sacrifice the integrity of our hard won freedom for pieces of silver".
Please! Obviously his/her definition of freedom differs from that of other
Zimbabweans get incarcerated for seeking to practice basic freedoms such as
the rights to free expression, freedom of assembly and association and
holding peaceful demonstration. Has he/she not heard of such infamously
retrogressive pieces of legislation as the Public Order and Security Act,
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting
Services Act? Wherein lies the freedom in a country where there are no
independent radio and TV stations and daily papers?
On a daily basis we are forcibly fed the propaganda, drivel and hogwash
churned out by the state media and have to turn to the foreign media for
news of events happening in our own country. Currently, rural inhabitants
need passes authored by ZANU-PF officials to travel from one village to
Sadly, until such a time as we are ready to take full responsibility for our
situation and stop our very well renowned victim hood, there will not be
significant improvements in our lives. While the war of liberation claimed
an estimated 30 000 lives, an estimated 20 000 were lost after independence
within a space of five years in Matabeleland and the Midlands at the hands
of our own government.
Add to this number those who have died and continue to die through
government instigated political violence, malnutrition, lack of medical
services and HIV/AIDS, then you can only wonder what kind of people we are.
Where is our humanity?
I am sorry Marumenjeya, I do not see the hand of the West in all this. I see
a corrupt, incompetent, cruel, populist, greedy ruling elite, which has long
ceased to care for the welfare of its people but is only concerned about its
The Asian tiger countries were colonised just like us but have since moved
on. Now we want to take our begging bowls to them too!
THE financial services sector is grappling with the resurgence of zeros on
the country's beleaguered currency, barely two years after the central bank
lopped off three zeros from the currency.
Bankers said there were so many zeros in local currency transactions that
computer systems were failing to cope, overwhelming bank employees who have
had to compile some of the transactions manually.
Bank executives said some Information Technology (IT) systems had crashed
and IT experts were battling to come up with ways of avoiding a major
catastrophe in the sector.
Major supermarkets have already improvised. A number of them have slashed
six zeros from their transactions to deal with the most basic food commodity
prices now starting at $1 billion.
A bank executive said this week: "We have created sub accounts called 19
Accounts for customers who handle larger amounts of money. Our systems
failed to cope two months ago
"With this type of account, once an account reaches $400 billion, the system
automatically transfers the money to the (next of the) 19 accounts, which
limit the number of zeros on an account to five, which our systems can
accommodate. With inflation going up, more accounts will need these sub
accounts," he said.
With many companies and even individuals now handling more that $1 trillion
from their daily business, bankers are in a quandary as systems are
rejecting transactions. Some account holders have been asked to open
multiple accounts where their deposits are exceeding $900 billion.
Last week, the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) expressed concern at
the developments in the country's monetary system, warning the financial
services sector was sitting on another time bomb.
Shame Makoshori Senior Reporter
CHICKENS from Argentina have flooded the local market following a sharp
decline in supplies of poultry meat from local companies.
In the past few weeks, chicken cutlets, gizzards, chicken heads and chicken
offals have flooded the Zimbabwean market and are selling like hot cakes
than local meat products because they are cheaper, even after the importers
incurred shipping and storage costs.
The local poultry industry has been haemorrhaging from an economic crisis
that has hamstrung operations, with shortages of feedstock and escalating
prices wreaking havoc on the sector.
One of the country's major chicken producers CFI Holdings said in its
results for the half year ending March 31 that a strategic decision had been
taken to breed more Hubbard chickens, a new breed imported from France, at
the expense of the popular broiler chickens due to shortages of feedstock.
CFI said this had negatively affected throughput at its broiler farms and
the abattoir while the price control regime in Zimbabwe had made it
extremely difficult to do business.
And with the hyperinflation affecting consumers' pockets, many had turned to
chicken and pork that are cheaper than beef.
Industry and International Trade Minister, Obert Mpofu told The Financial
Gazette that the increased presence of foreign meats in Zimbabwe was not the
result of reduced output by local producers.
He said local companies had resorted to imports following the floatation of
the Zimbabwe dollar by the central bank in April, leading to the increase of
meat and other products from South America.
He however, did not explain why supermarkets could find it easier and
cheaper to import chicken when local producers were providing enough.
"With the liberalisation of the currency many companies have been able to
import what they want," Mpofu said on Monday.
"Just because there are more foreign products on the market does not mean
there is a shortage. It is just a business strategy by the supermarkets. It
is not just chicken but there are many other products that we are importing
from that region, including from Brazil and Venezuela. We have been to that
area to explore areas of cooperation and we are very encouraged by the
response, especially from Brazil. We are trading with whoever wants to do
business with us," Mpofu added.
BULAWAYO - Workers in the pharmaceutical industry have threatened to embark
on a full-scale industrial strike that could severely affect the dispensing
of drugs in the country's hospitals and drug stores countrywide.
The warning of an impending strike comes after demands for a 1 000 percent
increment by the workers were rejected by employers who are said to have
refused to sit down with workers for negotiations.
The industry faces a critical shortage of foreign currency to import drugs
and has been devastated by a mass exodus of staff among other problems.
Speaking to The Financial Gazette this week, Pharmaceutical Retailers and
Medical Allied Workers' Union (PRMAWU) secretary-general Misheck Tsholuwa
said workers were already bracing for strike action, indicating that
employers were unwilling to start negotiations with workers.
PRMAWU wants a minimum wage of $150 billion for this month as well as a
review of transport allowances.
"If our employers continue to refuse negotiations for a new salary and
allowances all our members in the pharmaceutical industry are going on
strike with effect from Monday next week since the recent increments, which
we were awarded are too low," said Tsholuwa.
Tsholuwa said the recent increments setting the minimum wage for the
commercial sector workers, including those in the pharmaceutical industry at
$12 billion, from $3 billion, and transport housing allowances at $6 billion
and $1 billion respectively was unrealistic.
"Our members at the moment spend more than $40 billion on transport alone
and it does not make sense to award an employee transport allowance of $6
billion," he said. The PRMAWU secretary general also took a swipe at
employers in the pharmaceutical industry for refusing to form an employers
association to facilitate the setting up of a national employment council to
undertake collective bargaining with workers' representatives.
"Since the PRMAWU was registered in February this year, employers have been
refusing to form an employers organisation preferring instead to hold wage
negotiations under the auspices of Commercial Workers' Union of Zimbabwe
(CWUZ) which we are no longer part of after the formation our union." Said
He said the reason for breaking away from CWUZ was that workers in the
pharmaceutical industry did not have a voice in National Employment Council
for the commercial sectors.
A national employment council comprises representatives of employers and
I NEVER thought I would be working for the
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). My e-mail has been flooded with
messages from patriots and CIO operatives, who want me to state their case.
They are ready for a compromise, but they would prefer "kedu Buhera" to be
prime minister in a Kenyan-type of compromise.
I sense some deep desperation on their part as
the water in the Zambezi runs out under the bridge.
Decorated veteran Tongesai Rugara says a
government of national unity can spare Zimbabwe some bloodshed.
"If the MDC wins (which they won't) Jongwe
will never hand over power to them. So it is a waste of time this run-off.
Buhera should understand that being power hungry will put him in trouble.
The country needs unity now."
I believe that Tongesai represents a widely
held view in Zimbabwe, but that view has already been overtaken by time.
Imperialists are already celebrating Mukuru's demise. With inflation at 1,7
million, grocery stores empty, electricity unavailable, roads pot-holed and
hunger affecting four million people, they have Mukuru by the throat.
His Pan African base, starting with South
African President Thabo Mbeki is eroding fast. Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and
Zambia's Levy Mwanawasa are no longer on the Pan Africanist train. He is now
being sustained by violence.
Even if Morgan Tsvangirai accepted such an
arrangement, the Anglo-Americans cannot certify it. In their book the
departure of Mukuru is non-negotiable. Tsvangirai would be a fool to accept
such an arrangement because Mukuru has entered into similar arrangements
with PF-ZAPU to their detriment.
However, a compromise in which the old ZANU
has a place is still acceptable. The British and American ambassadors in
Zimbabwe will play a crucial role. Even though the United States Ambassador
James McGee has been in Zimbabwe for a short time. I was surprised to be
informed that he is a "good man with a good heart".
His work with Howard Hospital and the victims
of violence in Bindura has earned him a reputation as straightforward. You
will need his goodwill in any settlement. At the moment, US President George
Bush has done miracles in Africa.
Tanzania has received more than US$700 million
in development grants for malaria, HIV-AIDS and other projects. Uganda has
similarly benefited form Bush initiative. There is a huge hospital project
in the Democratic Republic of Congo aimed at HIV-AIDS, which may become a
model for the rest of Africa.
McGee's thrust in relation to victims of
political violence, disease and ignorance, is very much in line with the
Bush initiative. South Africa needs US capital for their antiquated
electrical generation. Any association with Mukuru makes their development
plans more difficult.
If Senator Barrack Obama becomes US president,
US policy towards African dictators will become even more uncompromising and
aggressive. This all works in Tsvangirai's favour. He can wait a few more
months, and the apple will fall into his mouth.
Another war veteran, Comrade Fungisai, says
"Kedu Buhera" is unacceptable because he has sold out the country to foreign
That argument is also too late in the game.
Tsvangirai was being flown from one part of the country to another in a
twin-engine jet. Recently, an American-style bus has been delivered to him
for campaign purposes.
Tsvangirai lived for a month in Botswana as a
guest of the government. His expenses were paid for by (a) the British (b)
the Americans (c) by the Botswana government (d) by Zimdollars from MDC
Give yourself an A if you find the correct
The complaint of foreign sponsorship is a
non-starter. Developing countries like Zimbabwe use public institutions and
tax payer's money to support the ruling political party. Opposition parties
can level the playing field by going extra-territorial.
The issue in this election, which everybody is
circumventing, is the fear of retribution upon those who have committed
The demise of Mukuru is now inexorable.
Secondly, the land issue was the basis on which the Second Chimurenga was
fought. How much of that will be returned to white farmers and how much will
be retained by the natives is the issue.
This land issue will also need the approval of
the Anglo-Americans because it was the loss of white farm land that brought
Anglo-Americans into the Zimbabwe struggle in 2000.
There is worse news for your brothers. Judge
Anthony Gubbay may very well be recalled to finish his term. The brother
judges have proved all too political and self compromised by presiding over
farm cases after they themselves had acquired some choice properties.
Another veteran raises the issue of
sovereignty and interference by foreign powers in Zimbabwe's business. There
is no absolute sovereignty. As we speak, Mukuru has twice accepted
interference from the United Nations, first on Murambatsvina.
As we speak, a UN envoy is in the country to
investigate pre-election violence. In any event, because of the humanitarian
conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe, the big powers can interfere under the
umbrella that they are saving lives from starvation or from government
Here are simple solutions. The army can pledge
not to interfere in politics if a new government leaves the army hierarchy
in place for one year. The land issue will be audited. Veterans who have
committed extra-legal activities can appear before Judge Gubbay for review.
I'm afraid a few of you brothers may face the
Mukuru has said that he will never surrender
power to Tsvangirai.
Zaire's General Mobutu, Federal Prime Minister
Sir Roy Welensky and Rhodesian Ian Smith said the same words. Nobody gives
up power. Power is taken away by force of events.
Ken Mufuka is a professor at Lander
University (USA). He can be reached at: email@example.com
THE business of writing a weekly column where one is expected to meet the
editor's deadline and at the same time pen articles that can maintain
readers' appetite is indeed a job and a half. The task is even made bigger
if one is writing about specialist subjects, similar to the one discussed
here that requires prior research, because any slight slip up may expose one
to serious ridicule, especially by others of my kind who follow my writings.
A columnist's agony, is the great desire to remain relevant by avoiding
monotony, since such a blunder can have the effect of alienating one from
readers. Literary vigilance is thus the order of the game, for any lack of
attention may render one's work as boring as a flat beer to the obvious
displeasure of both the editor and readers.
However, in these extremely hard times, having to keep the mind well
conditioned for weekly installments is a huge challenge. The general
atmosphere, that is dominated by violence, murder, arson, plunder,
propaganda, abductions, shortage of foodstuffs, a valueless currency and
uncertainty about the future is deeply distressing and thus a major hurdle
to any author's quest to dish out mind scintillating contributions. It is
even worse when professional colleagues like Tendai Biti and Advocate Eric
Matinenga are guests of a marauding police force that is accused of bias,
abuse of power and political activism that has seen some of its members
declare their allegiance to some political candidates instead of an
allegiance to the country and its laws.
At times, the shear force of the hopelessness and disgust at the failure by
some politicians to open up democratic space, and allow our nation to thrive
leaves one at the point of resignation. What then awakens me to the need to
continue adding my voice to the Zimbabwean debate, and to informing and
educating readers about law, is my deep sense of justice, the love for my
country, and the motivational feedback that I receive weekly from readers
around the globe. It is this last factor - my love to remain in conversation
with my countrymen that has been my last source of inspiration. I am not
alone in noticing the unmitigated lawlessness that appears to be escalating
as we draw nearer to June 27 2008; a date that has so much significance to
the way our country's political landscape may likely shape itself. What has
become of concern to all and sundry is why some politicians cannot open up
their eyes and see the tragedy that has become of our country. Thus one
reader wrote to me last week and shared his feeling by saying the
"I have just read your article in last week's Financial Gazette with regard
to the above issue.What you said is the plain truth. I don't know who can
knock hard some sense into this crowd".
"Sometimes you mistake them for kindergarten kids fighting over a torn
plastic ball. I just don't know what goes on in their minds. It's a real
"In my young days, when someone became educated to "A" level, people would
gather around him or her to listen for advise and information which in
almost every instance was right. Such young people where highly respected in
those days. Not the present breed of the so called educated elite. You have
got among them holders of PHD's, MBA, Masters in this and that, Doctorates
in this this and that. They have just brought misery onto the population.
"Brother, can you imagine it's this very crowd that has plunged us into this
horrible mess. Liars all the time. They are not even shy. They don't even
see the level of suffering the population is experiencing. It's a really
pathetic lot. The judges were at the polling stations during voting. All
they are doing is preparing to fabricate lies hoping the judges will believe
"If I was God, I was going to obliterate the whole lot because they are not
of any use of mankind".
The voice of this reader is not alone in calling for a halt to the on-going
anarchy. Millions more of Zimbabweans whose voices cry out for political
sanity are wishing that the present bickering and murderous crusade come to
Such strong sentiments are also shared by some across our borders who have
had to carry the heavy responsibility of nursing and caring for victims of
our economic and political plight on their shoulders. I do not know what it
will take for our politicians , especially some of those in Zanu-PF to
realise that Zimbabwe is overdue for political and economic healing.
This country now needs a new constitutional order that can only come about
through a negotiated settlement. It is now more than apparent that elections
alone are not going to bring about a political outcome acceptable to all
competing political players and thus only dialogue holds the key to unlock
the present political logjam.
I wonder at times, if Zanu PF towards the end of 1979 could agree to sit
down and negotiate with its bitter enemy, the colonial government, why it
cannot today talk to one of its on kind in an independent Zimbabwe. Worse
still, the same Zanu-PF of yesteryear had to go into bed for a ten year
period in the same government, with whites who they had been at war with.
What I then notice is that the Zanu-PF of yesteryear had the national
interest at heart while that of today is composed of individuals driven by
an obsession for protection of their personal interests.
The perpetration of anarchy and violence in which, violation of citizen's
rights has become the order of the day is exposing our country to huge shame
and ridicule. Zimbabwe is on a knife urge. It is going through a mild
conflagration and it will only take a little more political irresponsibility
by some for it to experience a full fledged civil war. There is need for
restraint by political actors, because history has taught that after every
conflict of whatever nature, parties will still have to sit and talk. So why
not talk now rather letter when more damage has been done.
ZANU-PF has stuck to its tradition of waving the clenched fist ahead of the
June 27 presidential run-off pitting its candidate President Robert Mugabe
against former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
The fist is not a "fist of fury", but rather one for the emancipation of
Zimbabwe's restive population, so the ruling party says in advertisements
admonishing voters to cast their ballots for its leader, who is seeking to
extend his rule beyond 28 years.
ZANU-PF has pitched its campaign around the issue of black economic
empowerment with the theme "100 percent Empowerment, Total Independence".
In a desperate bid to win the contest, ZANU-PF has gone to the extent of
disregarding SADC guidelines on the conduct of elections by closing every
little space available for the MDC leader to campaign be it on radio,
television and government-run print media.
Violence is being unleashed countrywide with reckless abandon to intimidate,
eliminate and inflict pain on those who voted for the opposition on March
29, displacing thousands of MDC supporters in the process.
We fear ZANU-PF might overshoot the tarmac. Companies perceived to be
working against the government and foreign-owned ones might become targets
for take-over in the event of a ZANU-PF victory.
Not that we are against black economic empowerment, No.
The economic empowerment of previously marginalised blacks is indeed a very
noble initiative, but one which needs to be conducted in a thoughtful and
systematic manner, taking into consideration the law of unintended
After an emotive agrarian reform that displaced hundreds of white farmers
and replaced them with blacks, ZANU-PF is now campaigning for re-election
based on a pledge to empower Zimbabweans by taking over white or
foreign-owned companies, particularly those in the mining sector, on behalf
of indigenous black people.
This will be done through the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, rushed
through parliament last year despite spirited resistance from captains of
industry and lawmakers concerned about its impact on the wobbly economy.
Foreign-owned companies will be compelled to give up at least 51 percent
shareholding to local people under the new law, signed by President Mugabe
in early March.
At various campaign rallies around the country, the government has made the
argument that Zimbabweans should not own just land, but even the "resources
in its bowels".
This, inevitably, has signalled that the mining sector will be the key
target of the empowerment drive. The banking sector is not being spared
The sixth parliament, dissolved to make way for the March 29 elections,
passed amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act to allow government to take
over a 25 percent stakes in foreign-owned mining companies for free in part
fulfilment of the 51 percent indigenisation quota.
According to a document prepared by the Chamber of Mines in 2006, Zimbabwe's
mining industry is valued at more than US$20 billion. This puts the value of
the 51 percent indigenisation threshold across the sector at more than US$10
The 25 percent stake to be taken over forcibly by government would amount to
Government argues that the new law creates an environment for greater
participation in the country's economy.
Under the law, a fund will be created to finance the acquisition of shares,
working capital and other forms of finance for indigenous people.
The National Investment Trust, which has failed to raise cash for the
purchase of a 15 percent stake reserved for locals in platinum miner
Zimplats, will be constituted as a special account for the planned
Market analysts said the Bill would effectively seal Zimbabwe's fate as a
pariah to international capital.
But our worry is that the latest empowerment drive could be as disastrous as
the land reform programme, which benefited largely ruling party bigwigs and
For example, the Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment will be
empowered to review and approve all indigenisation arrangements, and can
order the licensing authority of any business to cancel the licence if
he/she is not happy with the empowerment transaction, or the beneficiaries
of the transaction.
Most ruling party politicians and their families picked up choice farms
under the A2 model, while the peasant farmers, those supposed to have been
the major beneficiaries of the exercise, as well as politically unconnected
landless Zimbabweans, received nothing or were given smaller pieces of land
under the so-called A1 or subsistence model.
Several government audits established that most members of the ruling party
elite became multiple farm owners.
Consequently, because the reforms were hurried and unplanned, the country
was plunged into an unprecedented economic crisis after Zimbabwe slid from
being the regional breadbasket into a basket case.
We believe ZANU-PF should opt for a non-disruptive indigenisation programme,
one that takes cognisance of the fact that there is need to promote
investment inflows into the country.
As Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono noted when this new law was
initiated, and eventually passed through parliament, ownership transfer
should be done in a manner that recognises private property rights and
"In the light of the new laws, requiring that 51 percent of the shares be
owned by indigenous Zimbabweans, it is our considered view as monetary
authorities that such transfer of ownership to indigenous citizens should be
done on a gradual basis to ensure a smooth and non-disruptive transition of
ownership to locals," Gono said.
He said the process should be strictly on a willing-buyer willing-seller
"As a country, we must promote and defend investment inflows through
preservation of the sanctity of private property rights and investment
protection," Gono said.