By Tichaona Sibanda
21 June 2012
Some ‘significant progress’ was made during three days of talks to finalize
a draft of the new constitution by COPAC, the Constitutional and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister said on Thursday.
Eric Matinenga said following a tense round of talks in Nyanga between
parties to the GPA, it was encouraging that the management committee had
recorded success on some of the issues that had previously threatened the
completion of a draft constitution.
‘Unfortunately there was not sufficient time to enable us to finish the task
on hand, that is why when we adjourned yesterday (Wednesday) we had not yet
completed our task,’ Matinenga said.
The lawyer-come-politician told SW Radio Africa that because of the delicate
nature of the process he was not at liberty to say what was agreed and how
far they’d gone in revising the draft.
‘As I said, significant progress has been made, but as management committee
we are keen to finalize this process, and we certainly want to see to it
that we deliver that document to the people of Zimbabwe.
‘We are fully aware of the expectations of the people of Zimbabwe and we
want to meet their expectations,’ the Minister said.
The management committee will resume talks on Monday next week with the aim
of sealing an agreement before the end of June. The Nyanga meeting was
attended by Matinenga as chairperson of the management committee.
Party negotiators were Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, ZANU PF, Tendai
Biti and Elton Mangoma MDC-T; Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses
Mzila Ndlovu, MDC.
COPAC co-chairs Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana ZANUPF, Douglas Mwonzora MDC-T and
Edward Mkhosi MDC were in attendance at the secluded lodge. However, the
area surrounding the Ruparara lodge was teeming with aides representing the
parties and state security agents, all keeping a close watch on the events
from a distance.
While Matinenga was reluctant to divulge what was agreed, SW Radio Africa
was informed there was some sort of agreement over devolution.
A source told us that while they agreed in principle on devolution, there
was no information on how they settled the matter, amid suggestions its
inclusion in the new charter would be enacted by an Act of Parliament.
‘In principle, they (management committee) could argue that they resolved
the devolution issue by agreeing to have it finalized by a full parliament.
Others may disagree and say it has been parked until it has been dealt with
by Parliament, which is what ZANU PF wanted,’ Dewa Mavhinga, a lwayer and
pro-democracy activist said. Other contentious issues were not discussed
owing to the manner in which the revision of the draft was structured.
‘We went through quite a number of chapters and what we were doing was not
to pick on issues but just to start from page one and going through the
whole draft, chapter by chapter. Ideally we were not looking for outstanding
issues or issues in contention. We tackled issues as they came up from page
one going forward,’ Matinenga added.
It is believed a positive outcome of the talks would open the way for the
release of a final draft of the constitution that has taken three years to
compile. Following the formation of the inclusive government in 2009 there
was optimism the country would have a new constitution by 2010.
But political bickering among the parties in the shaky government derailed
this time frame. Continuous disputes between ZANU PF and the MDC-T have
complicated the process, a spectacle that Zimbabweans are observing with
‘They are bickering mostly over the issue of executive structure, devolution
and dual citizenship not for the benefit of Zimbabwe as a whole, but for
their own satisfaction,’ remarked Munjonzi Mutandiri, a South African based
‘They are wasting time on these issues instead of agreeing and moving ahead.
We may not be surprised if the 12 months set by SADC to resolve issues
arrives without the country having a new constitution,’ he said.
The executive structure that Mutandiri referred to is a proposal to reduce
presidential powers. Under the present constitution Robert Mugabe enjoys
by Fanuel Jongwe I AFP
DRAFTERS of the new constitution are this week combing through hundreds of
points of contention, an exercise that is deepening the uncertainty over the
Officials crafting the charter are reviewing more than 200 issues, according
to Paul Mangwana of Zanu PF.
“Some of the issues where we are disagreeing are serious and some are
trivial. In some cases it is just political posturing by certain
individuals,” he told local media this week.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change was
“They no longer want the constitution to provide for an independent
prosecution. They no longer want a constitution which says the army should
not participate in politics. They no longer want the devolution of power.
“In short, it's a rewrite of the whole draft constitution and departing from
the views that came from the people during the outreach,” said Jessie
A new constitution is a key condition of reforms agreed in 2008 when
President Robert Mugabe was forced into a unity government with his
arch-rival, Tsvangirai, to avoid a descent into conflict after a bloody
After three years of work, the process has yet to wind up, with a referendum
of approval constantly postponed.
“Disputes over the drafting of the new constitution are likely to intensify,
stalling the referendum and the likelihood of progressive legal and security
reforms,” said London-based risk analysis agency Maplecroft.
The main disputes centre on the devolution of power to provinces, dual
citizenship, gay rights and the role of the military in politics.
Ordinary Zimbabweans contributed their thoughts during an outreach
programme, “but there is an invasive proposal to change the draft coming
from Zanu PF,” Majome said.
“They are proposing so many changes,” she said.
Feuding on the charter comes on top of other political clashes.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a Tsvangirai ally, raised alarm bells last
week after it emerged that the Mugabe-controlled ministries of defence and
home affairs had gone on an unbudgeted recruitment spree.
Biti said the hiring of 4,600 army and 1,200 police recruits had created
“serious problems”, with food shortages in military barracks forcing the
diversion of pension and customs funds to feed the recruits.
A meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which
brokered the 2008 post-electoral peace, early this month told the country's
political rivals to set specific deadlines for the completion of political
Facilitators from South Africa are expected in Harare next week to check on
Completing the constitution would mark a crucial milestone toward elections
to replace the shaky unity government.
Once the document is out, it will be translated into major local languages
before going to a public conference for discussion.
Parliament would then debate it before it is put to a referendum. If
approved, elections would soon follow.
With the haggling ongoing, elections are unlikely to take place before June
next year, leaving Zanu PF in an uncomfortable position, according to Dewa
Mavhinga of the Crisis Coalition Zimbabwe, which gathers more than 300 civil
Mugabe, who has dominated politics for 32 years, is already his party's
He wants to exit the power-sharing deal as soon as possible -- with or
without a new constitution, while Tsvangirai insists that key reforms be
“They (Zanu PF) are investing in Mugabe as an individual and he is 88 years
old, and they don't want to leave too many things to chance,” Mavhinga said.
“Will Mugabe be able to campaign next year when he will be 89?”
Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Troubled Air Zimbabwe has been given 90 days to
comply with international air safety standards or risk losing its membership
of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the organisation said
IATA said contrary to media reports that Air Zimbabwe’s membership had been
revoked, the troubled airline was still a member but risked losing its
membership if it failed to comply within 90 days.
"IATA remains committed to developing aviation on the African continent.
Safety is a key component in ensuring that Zimbabwe can benefit from all
that safe skies can bring,” said Mike Higgins, IATA Regional Vice President
IATA conducts a biennial Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which measures an
airline's system of operations, covering the operation of flights, boarding
procedures and other aircraft safety issues.
“In order to retain IATA membership, Air Zimbabwe, like all other IATA
member airlines, must submit to and pass the IATA Operational Safety Audit
(IOSA),” IATA said in a statement sent to PANA Thursday.
Since the introduction of the IOSA certification, the airlines body says
there have been improvements in the hull loss rate, an issue it said was of
significant importance in the building of safe and sustainable aviation in
“As always IATA is ready to assist Air Zimbabwe wherever possible in
renewing its IOSA certification and continuing to benefit from the financial
and other services IATA members participate in," said Higgins.
The Zimbabwean carrier has faced difficulties, including management of its
debts from aircraft leases and acquisitions among other operational
-0- PANA AO/VAO 21June2012
21 june 2012 18:26:24
DOZENS of lawmakers on Thursday underwent HIV tests at parliament, with many
pledging to undergo circumcision the following day, at the start of a new
At least 60 members of parliament from the country's two main political
parties took turns to receive counselling, before getting tested in a
makeshift clinic set up inside the parliament building.
"Tomorrow we will proceed with circumcision. So far about 60 MPs have been
tested," said Patience Dube, spokeswoman for Population Services
International, the organisation conducting the tests.
Zimbabwe has made gains in fighting HIV, which infected 14 percent of the
population in 2009, down from 23 percent in 2003, according to the United
"The response has been very overwhelming as the MPs came out in large
numbers," said Dube.
More lawmakers were expected to undergo tests on Friday when they take the
campaign to a public square in the capital.
Blessing Chebundo, an MP from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T
party, said taking part in the campaign was his way of leading from the
"By knowing my status, I am trying to fight discrimination. What we are
doing here is unique," said Chebundo.
"This also inspires the people we represent to follow suit," he said, adding
that the campaign will help the government to formulate better policies to
fight the pandemic.
Zimbabwe has 1.1 million people living with HIV, including 150,000 children,
according to the National AIDS Council.
"I tested negative and I am very happy. The sad thing is that although women
MPs are here in full force, our male counterparts have been slow in having
tests," said Sarah Mahoka, a Zanu PF MP.
In March, Mugabe told parliament that some of his political allies had died
of AIDS, in a rare open talk about the disease.
By Lance Guma
21 June 2012
ZANU PF’s Shamva North MP, Nicholas Goche, is today exposed as having led
violent and murderous campaigns in his constituency that led to the deaths
of dozens of opposition activists and serious injury to hundreds of others.
According to a dossier supplied to SW Radio Africa, the transport minister’s
trail of brutality “stretches as far back as the 2000 elections when scores
of people where butchered in and around the Shamva Gold mine areas.” Goche
and his gangs used so-called ‘pungwe’ (re-education) sessions to carry out
After MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the March 2008 presidential
election the Joint Operations Command (JOC), a grouping of all the state
security agencies, responded with the brutal Operation Mavhotera Papi (where
did you vote). Over 500 perceived MDC-T supporters were killed, while tens
of thousands were tortured and maimed.
Goche was busy playing his part in Shamva. On the 11th May 2008 his mob
descended on Elias Kahari Madzivanzira’s homestead. “They accused the family
of being MDC supporters and they started randomly beating up everyone in
sight and destroying whatever they could lay their hands on.”
Elias was struck on the head with an axe and witnesses said his head split
in two and he died on the spot. His wife Erica was also beaten up but
survived. The perpetrators are well known in the local resettlement area and
had been seen in the company of Goche during the day, drinking beer and
singing Mugabe’s praises.
Five days later on the 16th May Goche addressed a campaign meeting at
Chidembo School in the morning where he instructed all youths in the area to
“guard their land jealously” against what he called “the whites
re-invasion.” He told them to wipe out all MDC supporters in the area.
In his speech that day Goche mentioned Edson Zaya as a “known sell out in
the area” and the mob captured him at Chidembo Shopping centre in Shamva.
Zaya was heavily assaulted for more than an hour and was badly injured. He
died shortly after the assault on the same day.
On the 27th May Goche’s gang of ZANU PF youths dragged Kidwell Zvavamwe from
his bed during the night. They assaulted him badly and he died from the
injuries a week later. Kidwell’s wife Lucia Mukaru said that the youths
barred her husband from seeking medical help.
In other incidents the youths “dragged Roy Barwa from his hut with a wire
tied around his neck like a leash and his face covered with a red cloth,
which they said represented death. They destroyed his homestead burning all
what was inside the huts. His entire family was assaulted, including the
children and the mother.”
The mob was also responsible for the abduction of Florence Muponya from her
home. They also beat up her husband before burning all the huts, kraals and
a car. Showing the impunity with which Goche and his gang operated, the
incident was reported to the police but Goche ordered the police to arrest
his victims instead.
Muponya and her family were made to face political violence charges before
the court in Bindura. The charges were subsequently thrown out.
It is remarkable given this background that Goche is one of ZANU PF’s key
negotiators of the Global Political agreement (GPA), and in fact he was part
of the team that crafted the GPA that shaped the coalition government.
By Lance Guma
21 June 2012
Almost two years ago the neglected widow of revered national liberation war
hero Josiah Tongogara approached Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for
assistance. In that meeting Angeline Kumbirai Tongogara revealed how she and
her five children were struggling to make ends meet and wanted the
government to assist.
This week on Monday the director for War Veterans’ Affairs in the Ministry
of Defence, Retired Major General Richard Ruwodo, told parliament that the
families of war heroes who died before 1997 were not entitled to get any
assistance because they (the heroes) were not physically present to prove
they fought for the country.
Ruwodo appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and
Home Affairs and said: “Our (War Veterans) Act has discrepancies in that it
does not recognise war veterans who died prior to 1997 before vetting took
place and it means national heroes like Tongogara are not catered for.”
While other war veterans received Z$50,000 lump sums in 1997, monthly
pensions of US$160 and medical and educational benefits, this technicality
left widows like Angeline Tongogara in the lurch. Ruwodo said: “The heroes
who died prior to 1997 are catered for through the Department of Social
But clearly that arrangement is not working. Relatives close to Tongogara’s
widow say she has received no help from ZANU PF leaders, especially Robert
Mugabe who she met several times. “Angeline is living from hand to mouth and
was not even given a farm like others to sustain herself,” one relative
The plight of Tongogara’s family will only add to the suspicion surrounding
his mysterious death in a car accident in 1979 in Mozambique, on the eve of
Zimbabwe’s independence. Most speculation has alleged that he was killed as
part of a vicious plot within ZANU PF to get rid of potential leaders.
The neglect of family members of war heroes blows open the hypocrisy of ZANU
PF in continually using the liberation war to claim a right to rule the
country forever. Commentators say there is more focus on the rhetoric around
the struggle than in actually respecting and looking after the welfare of
those who contributed.
This has prompted the Zimbabwe Liberators’ Peace Forum (ZLPF) to demand that
the coalition government appoint a minister to represent their interests.
Spokesperson Max Mkandla spoke to the NewsDay paper and told them:
“We are different from other organisations in the country. We are demanding
to represent ourselves in Parliament or have a minister who deals with the
maintenance of the aims and objectives of the armed struggle to represent us
in cabinet,” he said, adding that they had been overlooked for many years.
By Alex Bell
21 June 2012
Zimbabwe’s mines ministry is being accused of ‘encouraging’ the ongoing
destruction of the environment, after it emerged it is handing out
explorative mining licences in forestry areas.
This was revealed by the head of one of the country’s largest timber
companies, while raising concerns about the onslaught of illegal settlers on
Dr Joseph Kanyekanye, the CEO of Allied Timbers, was quoted in the Herald
newspaper this week saying that many people were coming into forestry areas
with mining permits, handed out by ZANU PF led Mines Ministry, because it is
believed there could be gold and diamonds in timber forests.
“The government does not allow any settlements on forestry land, any offer
of land is given by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement only,” he said,
adding that ‘special grants’ were being issued by the Mines Industry.
Kanyekanye said: “People are coming in with letters and these include
Chinese, Russians and many others.”
Zimbabwe’s timber federation has said it will petition the government over
the destruction of forestry areas, which has included the invasion of land
by illegal settlers. Thousands of people have moved into the areas, burning
down the trees to make room for crops. Kanyekanye has said that more than
4,000 families across the country had invaded 12,000 hectares of forestry
“US$200 million has been lost because of these culprits, these people are
destroying our economy,” he said.
Meanwhile the impact of mining operations on Zimbabwe’s environment has
already been red flagged, with reports of devastating pollution levels at
the Chiadzwa diamonds fields and the destruction of conservancy land due to
coal mining operations.
The Gwayi Valley Intensive Conservation Area has complained about the
growing number of coal mining companies operating in the conservancy,
fearing their operations would destroy tourism. During a consultative
stakeholders meeting last month it emerged that open cast coal-mining
activities have affected 32 farms in the conservancy where more than 1,000
Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
(ZCTF), told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that, combined with the government’s
‘blind eye’ towards illegal settlers, the environment was on the verge of
“This is a big problem and it is all linked to impending elections. The only
way the ZANU PF regime can win is to let people do whatever they want and
give them whatever land is available,” Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues also warned that the failure to conduct proper environmental
impact assessments during mining explorations was contributing towards a
very bleak future.
“If the corruption and lawlessness continues then we will soon have a
massive problem, and we are leaving a legacy of destruction,” Rodrigues
by Staff Reporter
THE government has so far received about US$25 million from diamond sales,
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai revealed in Parliament Thursday.
Tsvangirai told legislators Cabinet was concerned with the performance of
diamond revenues adding funds received to date had been very disappointing
and far short of budgetary estimates.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said in his 2012 budget that he had been
promised US$600 million from diamond sales by the Mines Ministry with most
of the money already allocated to various infrastructure development
However, mid-way through the financial year only US$25 million has been
remitted to treasury, according to Tsvangirai.
The cabinet recently held an emergence meeting over the economy as it
emerged the 2012 national budget was way out of whack, with revenues falling
far short of projections.
Biti claims funds are being diverted from Treasury by the diamond companies,
allegations denied by the firms.
Five companies are currently operating in the Marange diamond fields, all of
them joint ventures between private investors and state entities.
“We are also deeply concerned that the ZMDC, which is supposed to be
government’s representative in Anjin, is actually not a shareholder in
Anjin, but some other body which we do not know,” Biti said last month.
“We, in the Ministry of Finance, now fear that there may be a parallel
government where these monies may be going and not coming to us.”
Mps asked Tsvangirai if it was not possible for the government to cancel its
agreements with the companies mining at Chiadzwa and re-tender the
concessions in a more transparent process.
But the Prime Minister said the problems were not so critical as to warrant
cancellation of mining licences.
He said measures needed to be taken however, to ensure accountability and
transparency in the mining operations at Chiadzwa.
by Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has ruled out a wage freeze for civil
servants and insisted the government was still looking at ways of improving
salaries for state employees.
State workers have been fighting for a wage increases for much of the year
and reacted with fury to reports Finance Minister Tendai Biti would impose a
wage and recruitment freeze in his economic review statement next week.
Biti reportedly hinted at the wage freeze during a special cabinet meeting
which discussed the country’s economy as it emerged the 2012 national budget
was way off track with revenues falling far below projections.
But Tsvangirai told legislators Wednesday that there was government policy
for a wage freeze adding the cabinet was still exploring ways of meeting the
demands of state employees.
“I do not know whether the Government has adopted the policy of wage
(freeze). There is no such policy,” The MDC-T leader said.
“But let me say that Government is committed to upgrade salaries of civil
servants and other Government departments.”
Tsvangirai said while the economy had failed to perform to expectations the
Finance Ministry could not take unilateral decisions regarding the salaries
of civil servants.
“The issue is if we continue to have an economy which is not performing, we
face a fiscal squeeze because the Minister of Finance will always say there
is no money,” he said.
“It is malicious to try and blame the Finance Minister alone for those
actions. An individual minister cannot make a decision to increase or do
otherwise on salaries. It is a collective Cabinet position.
“It is not Tendai Biti’s money, it is Government money and that money is
distributed according to budget and Government decisions. In this case,
there is no policy position regarding salaries or any increase or otherwise
pertaining to civil servants.”
Written by Fungi Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Thursday, 21 June 2012 17:03
HARARE - Evidence in the trial of 29 MDC activists accused of murdering a
policeman last year in Harare’s Glen View suburb could have been tampered
with, sixth witness Spencer Nyararai admitted yesterday.
Nyararai claims he picked a broken police radio which was in two pieces,
which is one of the state exhibits beside the lifeless body of inspector
Petros Mutedza on May 29 last year at Glen View 3 Shopping Centre.
“I picked the radio near the deceased’s legs,” claimed Nyararai.
However, Mtetwa disputed his claims saying the police radio in court is in
three pieces and not two as claimed by Nyararai.
“That could not have been the police radio in court because it has three
pieces, so they must have been interference with exhibits,” said Mtetwa to
which Nyararai agreed.
Nyararai contradicted another state witness Victor Mugutarima who claimed to
have been handed a broken police radio by a child close to Munyarari Bar on
the tragic day.
“You could not have picked up the radio because one of the police officers
said he was given the radio by a child,” questioned Mtetwa.
Like other five witnesses before him, Nyararai made contradictory statements
about circumstances which led to Mutedza’s death.
For instance Nyararai admits he did not see the persons who pelted them with
stones but claims they are the MDC activists in custody.
“I can confirm that I didn’t see any of the accused throwing stones or
missiles. I did not see how deceased was injured. I did not see his fall on
the tarmac,” admitted Nyararai.
“With this lack of knowledge how then do you say (MDC activists) they are
responsible,” questioned Mtetwa to which Nyararai replied “I saw them at
Following the denial of bail by High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu, the
defence team led by Mtetwa is now seeking leave for appeal in the Supreme
The case has been adjourned to Monday next week following the death of
Master of High Court Charles Nyatanga.
The inspection in loco that was also set for Glen View 3 Shopping Centre
today has been postponed to Tuesday next week.
Harare, June 20, 2012 ---- Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has
accused police commanders of forcing their subordinates to support President
Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
Tsvangirai on Wednesday told Parliament that he had obtained recordings of a
meeting of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) where police were told to
support Mugabe alone.
Kwekwe Central MP Blessing Chebundo (MDC) had asked him to comment on
reports that army and police commanders were actively campaigning for Zanu
“I want to quote minutes of a meeting recently held at one of the district
police meetings where police were told every member of the force should be
aligned to Zanu PF,” he said.
“They were told there was only one Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces,
President Robert Mugabe and the army and police were expected to pay
allegiance to him and be aligned to Zanu PF.
“If such an attitude becomes the norm, at the end of the day then why go for
elections when people have made such declarations,” he said.
There were reports last week that police recruits at a pass out parade in
Harare that was reviewed by Mugabe chanted slogans declaring that the
veteran ruler was the only God chosen leader for Zimbabwe.
Service chiefs have come under fire for openly supporting Mugabe in
violation of the constitution.
They have also issued statements vowing never to salute Tsvangirai even if
he beats Mugabe in elections claiming that the MDC leader does not have
liberation war credentials to lead the country.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
21 June 2011
An official from the MDC-T party in Bulawayo has denied allegations by the
smaller MDC-N party that 84 MDC-T members from Makokoba district defected
last week, accusing their MP Thokozani Khupe of abusing them and secretly
working with ZANU PF.
The defections first appeared in recent press reports, in which the alleged
defectors accused Thokozani Khupe of neglecting her constituency, causing
divisions and promoting violence ahead of the MDC-T 2011 congress.
The MDC-T insists the members alleged to have defected were not known to
them and did not belong to their structures. Mandhla Sibanda, spokesperson
for the MDC-T in Bulawayo, described the allegations as “very unfortunate”
and “simply politicking” by the MDC-N.
“We have done a critical analysis of our structures and none of the names
claiming to be defectors were known to us. They are total strangers and were
probably found on a street somewhere,” Sibanda told SW Radio Africa on
But the MDC-N spokesperson for Bulawayo, Edwin Ndhlovu, said that the
defections had taken place and 84 MDC-T members had been welcomed on Sunday,
after buying party cards and t-shirts. Ndhlovu said the members had even
refused to meet MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai next Saturday.
“He has been trying to set up a meeting with them through his security staff
so they can meet on Saturday when he comes to Bulawayo. But it is too late
because the youths are now card-carrying members and they refused,” Ndhlovu
Sibanda said it was “unreasonable” to suggest that the MDC-T President
Morgan Tsvangirai would request a meeting with just 84 ordinary members who
have defected, given his busy schedule and the number of party members he
Sibanda also dismissed suggestions that MP Khupe visits ZANU PF officials
when she travels to Bulawayo and even dines with them. “Everyone knows how
resolute she has been against ZANU PF. It is very unreasonable to insinuate
she would even work with them,” Sibanda stressed.
The allegations are serious because Khupe is not only a legislator, but she
is also the deputy Prime Minister in the coalition government and deputy
President of the MDC-T.
The MDC-T National Executive announced last week that a Commission of
enquiry set up to investigate violence that rocked the party ahead of the
2011 congress had concluded that infiltration by ZANU PF was to blame. The
party also said officials implicated in the violence would be dealt with.
Trusted sources have told SW Radio Africa that Thokozani Khupe is one of the
names implicated in promoting that violence. The co-Home Affairs Minister
Theresa Makone and provincial leaders in Manicaland were also named by our
We were unable to contact Thokozani Khupe for comment, as she was said to be
in parliament most of the day Thursday. We will continue to try.
By Professor Matodzi, HARARE, June 20, 2012-The Law Society of Zimbabwe
(LSZ) has asked judges to report acts of misconduct committed by legal
practitioners during the execution of their duties as it intensify efforts
to police the legal profession.
The LSZ reported lawyers to the judges early this month alleging that some
of them were conducting themselves in an unprofessional manner which
warrants the judges to raise complaints against them.
In a memorandum addressed to Judge President George Chiweshe, the LSZ
appealed to judges to report acts of misconduct in order to nip misbehaviour
among the legal practitioners.
“A realisation has been made through various platforms of interaction
between the LSZ and the judiciary that some of the conduct being displayed
by legal practitioners as officers of the court is below professionally
acceptable standards. The LSZ Council would like to enlist the support of
the judiciary in curbing instances of professional misconduct,” reads part
of a letter written to Chiweshe by LSZ executive secretary Edward Mapara
entitled “LSZ request for judges’ complaints against members of LSZ”.
Mapara said the LSZ would take action against lawyers once the regulatory
body receives alerts about any delinquencies.
“I therefore write to kindly request you and all judges of the high court to
assist by referring all the complaints of unprofessional conduct by legal
practitioners for actioning by the LSZ. I further highlight the long held
practice of judges mero muto referring all cases of prima facie misconduct
to the LSZ for noting and taking appropriate action,” Mapara said.
In response to the LSZ request, High Court Judge Lavender Makoni, who heads
the court’s civil division advised all judges in the court’s civil division
to pass on their “views, comments and actions” emanating from Mapara’s
20 June 2012
Chris Gande | Washington
Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party is denying press
reports that it is intimidating former members who have defected to a rival
faction led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube.
At the weekend, 84 activists claiming to have deserted the Tsvangirai MDC
formation for the Ncube wing, were paraded in Bulawayo.
Another 24 youths from the second city's Pumula surburb have since followed
their 84 counterparts, it is said.
State media reported Wednesday that some of those who crossed the floor are
now leaving in fear, claiming former colleagues in the Tsvangirai MDC were
The Bulawayo-based Chronicle newspaper quoted one Ruth Ngwenya as saying:
“Some of the people that I used to work with before I left the MDC-T came to
warn me on Monday. They said the party was mobilizing youths to teach those
who left a lesson.”
But deputy spokesperson, Thabitha Khumalo, of the Tsvangirai MDC, told VOA
her party has not received any news about the defections, adding they do not
“Our party is implementing recommendations from a commission of inquiry that
addresses the question of violence," said Khumalo. "So it does not make
sense for anyone to accuse the party of violence, we are a party of
Organizing secretary, Qhubani Moyo of the Ncube MDC formation said his party
is expecting more defections in the province regardless of the alleged
“The people of Matabeleland have seen that the MDC-T has nothing new to
offer," said Moyo. "They have since seen that MDC and Zanu PF are two sides
of the same coin.”
Thursday, 21 June 2012 10:46
The MDC registers serious concern over increasing road accidents across the
country, resulting in unnecessary loss of life.
More worrying is the loss of life and injury to civilians by Robert Mugabe’s
motorcade which has been involved in three separate accidents in two weeks
leaving three people dead and 15 others injured.
It is a known fact that Zimbabweans are hassled out of the road when the
motorcade is approaching, so one wonders how these accidents have been
happening if it was not just pure negligence by those driving and riding in
If for nothing else, the drivers in this ridiculously long motorcade should
go for retesting so that other road users are not endangered. While at it,
the powers that be would do us all suffering Zimbabweans a favour by
reducing the motorcade’s size and saving thousands of dollars in the
The MDC is saddened to note that on Tuesday, 13 people were killed in a
fatal kombi crash along the Bulawayo – Fort Rixon road in Matebeleland
On the same day, six people died after a Wedza – Harare kombi was involved
in another accident.
The two accidents come just a month after 13 other people were killed in
another fatal accident which occurred along the Harare-Bindura highway when
a mini-bus driver lost control and veered off the road.
On Wednesday, nine people perished and 18 others were hospitalized after a
Gweru-bound Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) bus rammed into a
broken-down heavy goods truck in Kwekwe.
Since March, 50 people have died in road accidents across the country in
accidents that could have been avoided if due care had been taken.
The MDC encourages all police officers manning our roads to perform their
duty religiously in order to avoid road carnage. The accidents should
therefore be a wake up call for the Zanu PF Police Commissioner, Chihuri to
realize his incompetence and quit the police force.
The MDC recognizes road safety as a priority in the quest to build a safe
and secure nation based on the effective enforcement of traffic laws, road
safety education, better driver training and licensing as well as the
reduction in incidents of drunken driving.
The people’s struggle for real change – Let’s finish it!!!
Following reports of the third accident by Zimbabwe’s presidential motorcade in two weeks, Kubatana sent an SMS to our subscribers asking their opinion: Should the motorcade slow down, or should we get out of the way.
We received nearly 200 responses, with about 2/3 of opinion arguing in favour of the motorcade slowing down, and 1/3 arguing that the rest of us should get out of the way. Where possible, we’ve mapped responses here. Other opinions are shared below. What do you think? Submit your opinion as a report on this site or via twitter – hashtag #zwmotorcade.
Written by Xolisani Ncube, Staff Writer
Thursday, 21 June 2012 17:05
HARARE - The mainstream MDC has vowed not give Local government minister
Ignatious Chombo a probe report on allegations of corruption by their
councillors because he is not sincere to service delivery.
Sesel Zvidzai, Chombo’s deputy, said as long as Chombo did not act on their
previous investigations, the party will not cooperate with him.
“He should first deal with our Chitungwiza report, because as far as we
know, he is a hypocrite and his demands are in bad faith,” Zvidzai said.
The MDC in 2010 probed allegations of corruption in Chitungwiza city council
and dismissed all elected councillors after convicting them of being
corrupt. But Chombo, through the Urban Council’s Act, protected them.
Zvidzai said Chombo should be transparent when dealing with local
authorities because the MDC will not tolerate corruption within its ranks
“Why is he interested in our probe report today when in the past he has
refused to act on our advice to dismiss the whole Chitungwiza council? This
is not how we do things,” said Zvidzai.
The former opposition party, that enjoys control of all urban local
authorities in the country embarked on a probe to ascertain claims that some
of their councillors are corrupt and have contributed to poor service
According to sources in the MDC, close to 11 councillors from Harare risk
dismissal as they were found guilty of being corrupt.
The report is yet to be tabled before the party’s leadership.
Zvidzai also lashed out at Chombo saying he is the chief culprit of poor
service delivery through his handpicked commissions that once controlled
most councils a decade ago.
Chombo after the MDC had taken over all urban councils went on rampage
dismissing them and replacing them with his handpicked commissions.
According to Zvidzai, the current messy affecting Harare is because of
Chombo’s disregard of rule of law and anti-democracy.
On Tuesday Chombo heaped praise on former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri, a man
he hounded out of town house on allegations of insubordination and
disregarding his authority.
He claimed Mudzuri was better and productive than Muchadeyi Masunda.
In response Masunda said; “If he indeed thinks that Mudzuri was better than
me, then why did he hound him out of office and replace him with a series of
“He allowed these commissions to remain in place in contemptuous defiance of
the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe which had ruled them illegal.”
Thursday, 21 June 2012
The MDC-led Bindura Town Municipality is fighting a Harare based
construction company to recover a total of US$1, 5 million that was meant
for road maintenance in the town last year.
Bindura last year received US$1, 5 million from the Zimbabwe National Road
Authority (Zinara) to carry out maintenance on the town’s roads.
The town’s mayor, Ivory Matanhire, said a total of 40km was to be covered
but the contracted company, Twalumba Contractors only managed to surface a
road, which is less than a kilometre long.
The council is angered that Zinara and the Mashonaland Central provincial
administrator, Josphat Jaji imposed Twalumba on the council to carry out the
work without going for tender, which is against the Road Authority Act.
Jaji even threatened the Bindura Council that he would pressure Zinara to
take back the funds if the council refused Twalumba the right to carry out
the work but the contractor failed to do the work although the company was
paid its money in full.
However, the Bindura Town Council has since moved in and sacked the town
engineer, Batsirai Musona for allowing such shoddy work to be carried out
and agreeing to the payment of Twalumba for the unfinished job.
The council has also blocked another attempt by Zinara to bring in a new
contractor, Heingate which is owned by Danny Kasukuwere. Kasukuwere is the
elder brother to Saviour Kasukuwere, a Zanu PF Politburo member who hails
from the province.
Mayor Matanhire said the council would not allow Jaji, the provincial
administrator to continue approving dubious companies and not engaging the
council as this was not procedural. He said council would take further steps
to recover money that was given to Twalumba.
Meanwhile, an MDC activist Dickson Kazingizi (69) who is the Secretary for
Musana, Bindura South district, has died. Kazingizi succumbed to a long
illness following his assault by Zanu PF thugs during the bloody election
re-run of 2008. He died at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.
Kazingizi will be buried at Mumhurwi School in Musana village tomorrow.
In Maramba-Pfungwe constituency, Maria Maworera, the MDC Women Assembly
Chairlady for Ward 6 on Tuesday had her hut torched by suspected Zanu PF
thugs in the area.
She lost valuable household goods and this year’s yield.
The incident took place during the night after a warning by Cleopas Kufuka,
the Zanu PF district chairperson for Maramba-Pfungwe that they were out in
full force to crush the MDC in Mashonaland East.
She reported the incident to Mutawatawa police who opened a docket under RRB
1089906 and Constable Kufa is investigating the case.
Political violence in Maramba-Pfungwe constituency in Mashonaland East
province has continued unabated despite numerous pleas by political leaders
for people to stop.
Last month, Mai Kazembe a provincial member of the MDC Women’s Assembly had
her hut destroyed by fire after another arson attack by Zanu PF.
The people’s struggle for real change: Let’s finish it!!
20 June 2012
Tatenda Gumbo | Washington
Residents in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, claim employers and officials from
the country's power utility are targeting bill defaulters, seeking backhand
payments to bypass disconnections.
In a new report the Harare Residents Trust says it has received numerous
complaints from residents saying ZESA employees were threatening and abusing
them and asking for bribes to by-pass disconnections for customers who are
failing to cope with huge bills.
Also worrying residents is ZESA’s billing system, which they say is
The power utility recently warned consumers and businesses to brace for
increased load-shedding as it works to recover nearly $500 million in debts.
Many consumers argue ZESA has been over-estimating the power they are using
and are angry at the long load shedding periods and poor debt management by
the power utility.
HRT coordinator, Precious Shumba, says the most concerning has been the
sub-par response from ZESA officials when it comes to dealing with residents’
"Residents particularly in Glen Norah, Highfield, Kuwadzana Extension are
saying when ZESA employees visit those areas, they move around in two
groups, the other group is threatening and hurling abusive statements at the
affected residents and the other one trying to negotiate and get bribes,"
"They have actually raised money they demand in bribe, they used to demand
around $15 to 20 now they are asking for $30."
ZESA spokesman Fullard Gwasira told VOA residents must work directly with
utility officials to avoid losing hard-earned cash to fraudsters.
"While I am not exonerating our staff, the issue of corruption is a two-way
street, somebody must offer and somebody must accept," said Gwasira.
"I would like to urge our customers to pay and do the right thing, if you
been asked to pay your bill, pay your bill to ZESA and not just any
individual," said Gwasira.
Gwasira said no customer should be disconnected if they have made their
by Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE is set to introduce an indigenisation levy with all companies
expected to pay the new tax, a senate empowerment report has revealed.
The report tabled in the senate on Tuesday added that the introduction of
the levy is a requirement of the country’s empowerment law. The Finance
Ministry was said to be responsible for the gazetting of the levy.
“The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board also indicated
that it had been unable to collect the Indigenisation and Empowerment levy
from all companies operating in Zimbabwe in terms of Section 17 (1) of
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act,” reads part of the report.
Under the country’s economic empowerment legislation, foreign companies are
required to transfer control of 51 percent their Zimbabwe to locals.
The levy is one of the ways through which the government hopes to raise
funds for the acquisition of shares in the foreign companies with the bill
estimated to run into billions of dollars.
Meanwhile the report also expressed concern over the disbursement of the
government’s Youth Development Fund which is being handled by CABS bank.
Some 162,816 applications for funding had been received by February this
year but only 76 have been approved to date with US$99,206 so far released
at an average loan size of US$3,400.
Legislators also expressed concern over the fact that most of the
beneficiaries were from Harare but CABS officials have since pledged to
ensure that at least US$1 million is allocated to each province.
The report also commended the structure of the indigenization programme
under which shares are allocated to employee and community trust schemes.
Part of the shareholding making up the 51 per cent threshold is also
allocated to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund as
well as an envisaged Sovereign Wealth Fund.
By Alex Bell
21 June 2012
Zimbabweans around the world on Thursday gathered for the sixth round of the
Free Zimbabwe Global Protests, aimed at pressuring Southern African leaders
into ensuring real democratic change in Zimbabwe.
The monthly demonstrations, dubbed the 21st Movement, are organised by the
international structures of the MDC-T and have been taking place outside
Zimbabwean and South African embassies and consulates around the world.
The protests for the last five months have been primarily targeting South
Africa, as the mediator in the ongoing political stalemate in Zimbabwe, as a
way of putting pressure on Jacob Zuma to ensure real change before a fresh
But for the sixth round the focus has shifted to Zambia, with the organisers
of the demonstrations saying they are “dismayed” by recent comments and
actions of Sata, Zambia’s president.
Most recently Sata chanted ZANU PF slogans at a regional summit of Southern
African leaders in Angola, while referring to Mugabe as ‘sekuru’
(grandfather). He has also previously denigrated the MDC-T, accusing it of
being a ‘puppet’ of the West.
Thursday’s protest action got underway in various cities across the world,
including Johannesburg, London and Washington. Demonstrations were organised
to get underway outside Zimbabwean embassies in the different cities, before
moving to Zambian embassies.
City Treasurer Albert Zingwe, who was suspended last year on allegations of
corruption, has been fired.
by Brenna Matendere Munyati
Government minister Ignatius Chombo made a dramatic U-turn and fired Zingwe,
10 months after he ordered the council to unconditionally reinstate him with
Zingwe was in August 2011 relieved of his duties after a four-member
investigating commission found him guilty of corruption. However, Chombo
wrote to the council insisting that the treasurer be reinstated. The move
caused an impasse with the city fathers who refused to take Chombo’s
According to minutes of a recent full council meeting held at town house,
The Zimbabwean can reveal that the council and local government ministry
have fired Zingwe.
Part of Chombo’s letter to city mayor Shadreck Tobaiwa reads: “The said team’s
report also indicated that indeed Zingwe as head of department was liable
for the infringements in his department and therefore guilty as accused, it
is therefore against this background that I wish to uphold council as well
as Local Government Board decision that Zingwe remains dismissed.”
20 June 2012
Gibbs Dube | Washington
Despite the formation of an inclusive government in 2009 and the
establishment of a one-stop investment center, Zimbabwe remains one of the
most difficult places to conduct business compared to 183 other nations.
According to the World Bank’s latest report on doing business globally,
Zimbabwe was this year ranked 171 out of 181 countries – three places down
from 168 in 2011.
The bank said some of the difficulties are caused by serious challenges in
business power connectivity, delays in the issuing of construction permits
and intricate procedures in getting credit information.
It takes about 125 days to get electricity connection and at least 614 days
to deal with construction permits in Zimbabwe, a situation which is viewed
as not being business friendly.
The country scored highly in the collection of taxes and legal rights index.
Bulawayo businessman Bulisani Ncube said doing business in Zimbabwe is
further complicated by corruption in state corridors.
Economist John Robertson concurred, adding that political tension in
Zimbabwe promotes bad government and business procedures.
The ‘Doing Business’ analysis provides qualitative measures of regulations
for starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting
electricity, registering property, taxes, trading across borders, enforcing
contracts and resolving insolvency.
According to the World Bank, policy makers often keep an eye on relative
rankings that compare economies at a point in time. In the past six years,
policy makers in 163 economies made domestic regulations more business
The bank said they lowered barriers to entry, operation and exit and
strengthened protections of property and investor rights.
“Only a few economies moved in the opposite direction … Venezuela and
Zimbabwe went the furthest in making business regulation less
business-friendly,” it said.
June 22, 2012 1:21AM
ZIMBABWE failed to build on their stunning win over South Africa and fell by
six wickets to Bangladesh overnight in a non-cap Twenty20.
Much was expected of Brendan Taylor and his team after they shocked strong
favourites South Africa by 29 runs on Tuesday, but a total of 8-149 off 20
overs proved insufficient at Harare Sports Club.
Bangladesh, needing a win to retain a chance of making the final this
Sunday, responded with 4-153 off 17.3 overs to give recently appointed
England-born coach Richard Pybus his first win in charge of the Tigers.
South Africa play Bangladesh today and Zimbabwe tomorrow and the top two
finishers in the table qualify for the final of an unofficial tournament as
it falls outside the future tours schedule.
"I am much happier now," said Bangladesh skipper and batsman Mushfiqur
Rahim, "because today our batsmen and bowlers clicked whereas one department
or other let us down in previous matches."
Zimbabwe skipper and batsman Taylor cut a dejected figure as victory would
have assured the hosts of a place in the final of a tournament blessed by
good mid-winter weather and lively crowds.
"We were off the boil today and lost too many wickets, making it hard for us
to come back. The boys let themselves down and I got the sense that
Bangladesh wanted the win a little bit more," he admitted.
Opener Hamilton Masakadza (56) top scored for the hosts with Taylor and
Stuart Matsikenyeri (27 each) the only other notable run contributors while
Mashrafe Mortaza (2-28) was the most successful Bangladeshi bowler.
Nasir Hossain (41 not out) led the run chase with Rahim (31) and Mohammad
Mahmudullah (29) lending most assistance while Kyle Jarvis (1-18) was the
pick of an attack that did not recapture the form shown against South
Solidarity Peace Trust
by Marc Epprecht - Dept. of Global Development Studies and Dept. of History, Queens University, Canada
Two flags fly side by side over the corner of a quiet tree-lined street and a busy thoroughfare in one of Harare's inner northern suburbs. There is the red, gold, black and green of Zimbabwe's national standard (let's not talk of the splash of white just now). But beside it flutters something even more colourful: the international symbol of gay pride. The rainbow flag signifies the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity within the unity of the whole, humanity, democratic rights and freedoms for all citizens.
It is a remarkable statement of self-confidence by GALZ (formerly Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe), the owner of the property from which the flags have been hoisted. The association itself has been around for over two decades providing social and legal support, counselling, sexual health education, research, and lobbying for sexual minority rights. Its social centre dates from 1996 courtesy of the courage of its founders and the generosity (and discipline) of its principal funders, HIVOS and the Atlantic Philanthropies, notably. GALZ maintains a website and puts out a well-written, sometimes quite combative newsletter/magazine. Among GALZ' numerous other publications is an overview of the history of same-sex sexuality in southern Africa from pre-colonial times (that is, within traditional African cultures), and a thoroughly referenced legal brief that argued for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the proposed (but eventually aborted) 1999 constitution (GALZ 1999).
I was at the centre recently to chat with members, and I have to admit my expectations coming in were not all that high. GALZ' long-time director and resident dynamo Keith Goddard, had died suddenly a couple of years ago, while many of the other movers and shakers from the early days had left. I'd heard that following the last police raid, the library and archives had been moved away for safety. Harare in general is a mess, people are close to starving in the rural areas, and I had frankly never seen a tobacco leaf as pathetic as the ones hanging from spindly stalks in the new resettlement farms I had passed through. The press was meanwhile once again full of bile, stereotypes and mockery of homosexuals and the very concept of gay rights.
The prospect of elections always seems to bring out this nasty streak in Zimbabwe's political discourse, although of course Zimbabweans are not alone in that regard. From Uganda to Senegal to Burundi, sexual minorities have been the target of increased demagogic attacks and quite explicitly, expansively oppressive legislation in the last few years. Uganda's proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill would criminalize mothers who didn't report their own children to the police if they suspected homosexual behaviour, among other insanities justified in the name of protecting the nation from immoral foreign influences.
Yet in all my years of visiting, GALZ has never looked quite so ... solid. It was not just the flag. The grounds of the centre were neat, the computers new-ish, the staff professional and efficient. And the members who came to my event were all black by the usual measure of these things. They ranged from mature Shona women to nattily dressed young puppies (male "queens"), from articulate and well-informed professionals to somebody smoking mbanje in the back row. I was informed that membership is well above the levels of the late 1990s. There now affinity groups in most of the major cities of the country with outreach projects extending even into the rural areas.
My visit to GALZ this time was to present my perspectives as an academic researcher on the current state of the struggle for sexual minority rights on the continent, and in the process to take the pulse of opinion on the topic. More than 100 people turned up on a chilly Friday afternoon to listen, and respectfully to contest my basically optimistic view of things. After a lengthy Q and A, we broke for bread and some enthusiastic dancing. I was not convinced that lgbti (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) people are as oppressed and fearful today as they were in the mid-1990s when the political homophobia (and my own involvement) began. To be fair, no one really tried all that hard to persuade me that they were.
Not to say that GALZ is strong, per se. Like most such associations in the region, it remains heavily dependent on foreign donor support. Acts of violence, blackmail, and dehumanizing speech against members are common, while the temptation to gap it to the West or South Africa for asylum or simply to make ends meet is powerful. Yet GALZ has not only survived with growth through the devastating last decade. It has also been able to build bridges with other civil society groups working towards a democratic Zimbabwe. In May, GALZ joined with representatives of several of those groups to present their anxieties about the current situation to the visiting UN envoy on human rights, Navi Pillay, an outspoken supporter of the seamlessness of sexual minority rights with gender equality and all the other rights and freedoms enshrined in the vast array of international declarations, treaties and convenants to which Zimbabwe is signatory.
Human rights in a general sense are indeed back in public discourse as Zimbabwe prepares for the end of the Government of National Unity next year. Part of that process is the drafting of a new constitution that would enable free and fair elections - and the rule of law thereafter - in accordance to the high standards enunciated by SADC. A committee of parliament comprised of representatives of all three parties known as COPAC was struck and started gathering public input in 2010. COPAC presented its first draft in February of this year, with further revisions suggested in May.
Negotiations are currently stalled, however, and it is not hard to see why. A truly democratic constitution would have dire consequences for the ruling party's grip on power. It would prevent the many layers of human rights abuses, cheating and looting by which ZANU-PF has entrenched itself while driving the economy into the ground over the past decades. No one doubts that the stakes are high, not least of all the security apparatus. Members of the latter have hinted darkly at they would not allow the forces of colonialism to re-take the country, a not-too-subtle threat against the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai, and a gesture of contempt towards SADC. SADC has nonetheless insisted that the process must be adhered to, while Pillay directly chastised the military for intervening in the discussion. She warned all parties, but with most obvious allusion to ZANU-PF, that human rights are not negotiable or divisible.
Unsurprisingly, ZANU-PF has shown little enthusiasm for the constitutional process and has sought to derail it by whatever means it can. It lodged no less than 90 objections to the first draft of the constitution, including over such huge political questions as the devolution of power from the national to provincial jurisdictions and limitations on the executive powers of the president. Judging from coverage in the state-controlled (sycophantic) Herald, however, the biggest threat posed to the nation would seem to be "the gays." On the day of my arrival, a front page story worried about language in the draft that called for no discrimination based on "circumstances of birth." This was a rewording of the original February draft ("natural difference or condition or [...] other status," which had already been rejected by ZANU-PF. The problem? It was too open to interpretation that it included sexual orientation. In case readers didn't get the point, this story was followed by another of a brutal paederastic rape and a warning from visiting American evangelists on how much they love homosexuals as people but hate the sins that homosexuals allegedly commit.
The "circumstances of birth" clause was not the only one to raise the alarm for various ZANU-PF critics. Attack dog Jonathan Moyo, for example, denounced COPAC (despite having ZANU-PF members on it!) for using "trickery and deceit" to sneak gay rights into the constitution against the democratic wishes of the mass of the population. Unlike Zambia's new constitution, for example, the draft does not explicitly define marriage and family as based upon opposite-sex unions only. COPAC was hence almost inviting "the gays" to use the document's other generous equality and human rights provisions, or its respectful mentions of international obligations, to press their "scandalous" demands. Competing ZANU-PF factions are meanwhile assiduously courting traditional chiefs and popular evangelical Christian leaders using barely coded language of hate that would be prohibited under the proposed constitution's definition of what would not allowed under freedom of speech.
As it happens, gay marriage is not a priority for GALZ, which also adamantly rejects any connection between sexual minority rights and pederasty, rape and bestiality, common misleading associations made by its enemies. GALZ further rejects the notion of gay rights (that is, rights specific to lgbti). It insists, rather, that all it seeks are equal protections against discrimination, violence, and hate speech to those offered (at least theoretically) to the rest of the citizenry. To that extent, the present draft of the constitution is promising.
People have of course come to expect abuse and misinformation from ZANU-PF and its fellow travellers, while few were surprised last year when MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai sided with Mugabe on the need to exclude sexual orientation as a category requiring constitutional protection on the grounds that it would be against Zimbabwean culture. Tsvangirai has since stated that he would, after all, accept a clause protecting sexual minority rights but that these were an extremely low priority for his party. Unsurprisingly, therefore, confidence both in Tsvangirai's leadership on this issue and that the present draft of the constitution will be adopted, appears to be low among GALZ members.
As for the American "friends" of Zimbabwe who propose to show their love for African homosexuals by offering to cure or convert them back to God's supposed plan, they are a new and worrisome development. The so-called ex-gay movement lends a cloak of moderation or pseudo-scientific validity to the denial of human rights to lgbti. Yet it has been directly linked to the rise of extremist homophobia in Uganda, and has been used as a justification for vigilantism that serves opportunistic politicians well.
It is a fraught situation given the other very strong appeals that evangelical Christianity has among Zimbabwe's struggling population. I would nonetheless like to argue that there is greater hope for thwarting the ex-gay movement than might first appear. A new report by the World Bank is a good starting point. That institution is not normally given to strong statements on matters of religious faith or psychological theory. In this case, however, it states rather forcefully that:
"An overwhelming body of evidence supported by the international community of professional organizations who have reviewed the extant literature on the efficacy of conversion therapy has rejected it as ineffective, unnecessary, potentially harmful, and ethically controversial. On the basis of expert consensus in combination with a lack of biologic plausibility and efficacy data, reparative or corrective therapy is given a Grade 4, or inappropriate recommendation" (Chris Beyrer et al 2011, xxxiii).
The World Bank report, coming on the heels of similar statements from the UNAIDS, WHO, the US government and other weighty international bodies, is a good point to begin critically assessing the commonly-held view that homosexuality and gay rights are a form of Western cultural imperialism, a fad or new religion being foisted upon Africa (hypocritically, since many jurisdictions in the West themselves do not enshrine or consistently enforce said rights). This is a point where ZANU-PF and many of its opponents seem to basically agree. Even if reluctantly accepted as a legitimate extension of human rights, the protection of sexual orientation and gender variance is a luxury that Africans can ill afford, "elitist" in Tsvangirai's terms. In this view, African leaders who do more than pay lip service to the principle are spinelessly kowtowing to donor pressures rather than defending the cultural integrity and other supposedly real interests of their people. Indeed, Malawi's new president Joyce Banda has already received a lot of grief from African critics for her quick and unambiguous denunciation of her predecessors' homophobia.
No one disputes that many Africans are sincerely upset by the challenge to traditional culture posed by the emergence of openly gay identities in Africa. And few would deny that there are clear ties between this new-ish kind of sexual politics and "the gay international" (as one Arab critic put it). It is a big mistake, however, to go from there to denying the African-ness, including the patriotism, of African sexual rights activists. Yes, there is sometimes discomfiting pressure from Western donors these days, with no small sums of hypocrisy in their human rights discourse. But my reading of that discourse is that human rights are in fact often rather understated in the broader foreign policy or development priorities. The main thrust of the World Bank report, for example, is to calculate the economic costs of continuing to ignore the HIV pandemic associated with African msm. Using various models, it comes up with dollar and lives-saved figures for different levels of public health interventions. Even the cheapest options (for example, educational materials, partial coverage of the most-at-risk msm with condoms and lubricant) would save tens of thousands of lives each year. The most expensive option would include full coverage of msm with anti-retroviral medications. While it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars continent-wide, it would save billions of dollars depending on how much value is attached to the lives of young adults and children infected at birth.
The World Bank report draws on recent data that show up to 15-20% of all new infections in places like Kenya and Senegal involve msm either infecting each other or, more commonly, the wives and girlfriends with whom they also maintain relations. Why would msm also have sex with women? No doubt some enjoy the variety for what they experience as its inherent pleasures. For many, however, wives and girlfriends are a strategy to hide their "real" sexuality from public exposure and the risk that such brings of ostracism from family, loss of employment, violence, and social disgrace. This secretive de facto bisexuality means that a high percentage of the victims of homophobia in Africa are heterosexual women and the children they bear who may carry the infection passed to them from their fathers, something which GALZ has been warning its own members about for many years.
How to achieve 100% coverage of msm and the consequent economic benefits? It is an impossible target if men are afraid to be identified due to homophobic laws and social stigma. Human rights are thus strongly implicit in the World Bank argument, however clumsily economistic it may sound.
Any leader who wilfully ignores such evidence in the name of supposed African culture (while at the same time wearing Saville Row suits) would be criminally negligent, no? Tsvanigirai's recent lukewarm, if not token nod in favour of the principle of sexual minority rights takes on a new light in that perspective. Terming them "elitist," he is clearly not aware of the overwhelming evidence that connects human rights for all citizens to public health and economic development. Since this connection is clearly stated in Zimbabwe's National AIDS Strategy, he is also clearly unaware of his own government's official (albeit in practice almost totally disregarded) policy.
GALZ members on the whole do appreciate the public health argument to the extent that it puts their concerns forward in an ostensibly apolitical, scientific, and morally neutral manner. A range of euphemisms and acronyms (like msm and MARP or most-at-risk-population) is also useful for getting a foot in the door for interventions that might otherwise not make it past the guardians of public virtue. But medicalizing the debate is also highly problematic. How will women who have sex with women be included in an approach that necessarily emphasizes the high risk nature of many current msm practices? How can a stigmatized population avoid further stigmatization if publicity focuses on the health dangers they pose to the general population? How are the goals of self-esteem and political confidence nurtured among young lgbti when the main association representing them prioritizes disease and practices mild deception? And who wants to trust the World Bank?
A question then is how to make the case for human rights for sexual minorities without submerging it in medical or pathologizing language while at the same time avoiding the appearance of being "elitist" or simply aping the West? Armed with good research, this is actually not as difficult a task as people often assume. For example, one reason people justify discrimination against gay men is because they do anal and oral sex which are supposed to be against nature. Those practices are widely assumed to be exclusive to gay men (indeed, this was often flatly asserted in the early biomedical research on HIV in Africa). Yet new research shows that anal and oral sex are common among heterosexual couples in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere in Africa. If heterosexuals can do these acts, why can't same-sex couples? If they should not do those act, will, and how will the state then intervene to stop heterosexual couples from their unnatural behaviour?
The Western cultural imperialism argument is also getting easier to refute. Is South Africa part of the West? Brazil (where last year for the first time the majority of the population identified as African)? Those two countries co-sponsored last year's UN resolution to include sexual orientation in the list of reasons not to torture, kill or otherwise cause harm to people. Interestingly, the South African ambassador to the UN justified his country's newly assertive foreign policy on this issue by reference to the struggle against colonialism. He pointed out how most of the African countries that persecute lgbti (including Zimbabwe) do so on the basis of laws inherited from the colonialists (he could have added shoddy science, racist ethnography, and colonialist interpretations of scripture). African liberation thus requires decriminalizing sodomy laws, among other inherited discriminatory legislation, as South Africa and Cape Verde have already done and several other countries are currently mooting (eg., the Botswana High Court is considering that application as I write).
The turn in South African foreign policy on this issue is important to the Zimbabwean case as South Africa is the "point man" for SADC's monitoring of Zimbabwe's political reform process. President Jacob Zuma has his critics and no doubt holds fairly deep personal reservations about sexual minority rights even in his own country. But he deserves credit for apologizing for homophobic statements he has made in the past, and for supporting the move to square South Africa's foreign policy with the principles laid out in its domestic constitution. It is difficult to see how his party could now accept a public back down to appease ZANU-PF on this file.
There has meanwhile been a veritable explosion of new research, art, literature, and film about and by African lgbti. New social media make this material more available to Zimbabwean citizens than ever in history. GALZ members and their allies in civil society can now read about lesbian sangomas in South Africa, legal victories by lgbti in Uganda (Argentina, Mexico, Jamaica, India, and so on in the Global South), an openly gay candidate for senate in Kenya, gay-friendly churches and ministers in Nigeria, queer support groups and networks for Muslims, and much, much more on their (ubiquitous) mobile phones. In short, GALZ members, family and allies need no longer fret that they are alone in Africa or somehow un-African for their beliefs and practices.
Nor need African lgbti always and necessarily remain on the defensive. On the contrary, another noteworthy development over the past year is that African activists are no longer passive recipients of the fruits of rights victories in the West. They are taking the fight directly to the West. A suit filed by Sexual Minorities of Uganda earlier this year in a federal court in Massachusets will be a case to watch. SMUG is using US federal law to hold US ex-gay minister Scott Lively and four Ugandan "co-conspirators" accountable for the homophobic violence they are alleged to have fuelled with their activities in Uganda. Should SMUG win it will have done an important service not only for Africans who are anxious about the spread of US-style bigotry, but also for Americans anxious about the role of Christian fundamentalists in fomenting homophobia in the US. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the case was well-known to the GALZ membership.
Given all that President Mugabe has said since 1995 about lgbti as avatars of colonialism and continental moral decline, and given Prime Minister Tsvangirai's obvious lack of understanding and commitment to sexual minority rights, it is hard to believe that those rights will be accepted in the constitution as long as these two leaders remain key players in the constitutional debate. The tide, however, is clearly shifting under their feet.
Rights reserved: Please credit the author, and Solidarity Peace Trust, as the original source for all material republished on other websites unless otherwise specified. Please provide a link back to http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org This article can be cited in other publications as follows: Epprecht, M. (2012) 'The Constitution Process and Sexual Minority Rights in Zimbabwe', 21 June, Solidarity Peace Trust: http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org/1226/the-constitution-process-and-sexual-minority-rights-in-zimbabwe/
GALZ. 1999. Sexual Orientation and Zimbabwe's New Constitution: A Case for Inclusion. http://www.kubatana.net/html/archive/sexual/090702galz.asp?sector=SEXUAL
Zimbabwe: Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee http://www.copac.org.zw/
For further information, please contact Selvan Chetty - Deputy Director, Solidarity Peace Trust
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