16/03/04 THE Supreme Court, sitting as a full bench, declared
last week as unconstitutional legal provisions that gives the president
powers to eavesdrop, including the powers to intercept mail, telephone
conversations and other such electronic telecommunications
The superior court upheld contentions by the Law Society of
Zimbabwe (LCZ), a grouping of lawyers who had filed the constitutional
application arguing that the presidential powers provided for by the Posts
and Telecommunication (PTC) Act violated section 20 of the
The lawyers were challenging section 98 and 103 of the PTC
Act, which gives president powers to intercept mail, telephones, e-mail and
any other form of communication. The Act also gave powers to the president
to give any directions to a licensee requiring him or her to do or not to do
a particular specified action.
Section 20 of the Constitution provides
for freedom of expression, freedom to receive and impart ideas and freedom
from interference from one's correspondences.
LSZ's lawyer, Advocate
Adrian de Bourbon had argued that the PTC Act allowed the president to act in
his opinion in the interest of "national security" and "in the maintenance of
law and order" and need only to consult his Minister, whose views he is not
obliged to take into account.
"In effect, the legislation gives to the
President an unfettered ability to intercept mail and communications with
absolutely no safeguard whatsoever to protect the innocent," said De Bourbon.
"The absence of any restrictions and in particular the absence of any
judicial determination points beyond doubt to the over-breathe of the power
given to the president. There is no arbiter as to whether a matter is subject
to national security other than the subjective view of the
It was also submitted that the norm was so imprecise that no
person could regulate his conduct to avoid running the risk that the
president would subjectively form the opinion that mail or other
communication from that person should be intercepted in the interest of
The lawyers submitted that the provisions under
challenge interfered with the lawyer-client privilege, which would put at
risk the privilege of such communication.
They said they feared that
legal practitioners could prejudice their clients and betray confidence if
they used the postal system and yet the legal practitioner-client privilege
was fundamental in the proper administration of justice.
Yvonne Dondo of the Attorney General's Office submitted that while it was
conceded that the provisions interfered with one's enjoyment of the freedom
of expression, it was a permissible derogation.
She submitted that the
Constitution authorised derogation of freedom of expression in the interest
of defence, public safety, public health, economic interest, public morality
and public health.
She said the test for constitutionality of permissible
derogation in terms of section 20 of the Constitution was whether they were
reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
Dondo had drawn the
court to observations once made by the court with regard to what was
reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, where the court had this to
"What is reasonably justifiable is an elusive concept. It is one
that defies precise definition by the courts. There is no legal yardstick
save for the quality of reasonableness of the provision under attack is to be
adjudged on whether it arbitrarily or excessively invades the enjoyment of
the guaranteed rights according to the standards of a society that has
proper respect for rights and freedoms of the individual."
submitted that the present case passed the test set out above. "The
legislative objective to allow the president to intercept mail or
give directions to licensee in terms of the Act is to ensure that
national security is preserved," she said.
preservation of national security is sufficiently important to justify
limiting a fundamental right."
The case was heard before Chief Justice,
Godfrey Chidyausiku, Vernanda Ziyambi, Misheck Cheda, Luke Malaba and
Elizabeth Gwaunza - Daily Mirror
Reporter 16/03/04 PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's atrocious human rights record
will come under the microscopic gaze of the UN Human Rights Commission which
is meeting in Geneva for the next six weeks.
It will be the second
time that the UNHRC considered the crisis in Zimbabwe after South Africa in
2002 blocked an attempt by the British to pass a resolution calling on
President Mugabe to reform.
The move comes in the same week that the US
State Department released a devastating report detailing extra judicial
killings and government-sanctioned violence in Zimbabwe.
report seen by New Zimbabwe.com accuses police, the army and intelligence
services of participating or providing transport as well as other logistical
support to the perpetrators of political violence
committed extra judicial killings..government youth militias tortured, beat,
raped, and otherwise abused people and some persons died from their
injuries," said the report titled Country (Zimbabwe) Reports on Human Rights
Practices - 2003 and released by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and
The UN commissioners' 60th annual meeting in Geneva will home-in
on the situation in Zimbabwe and a strong statement of condemnation is
expected after human rights groups warned the body risked irrelevance if it
continued to ignore Zimbabwe.
"Time and time again, the Commission has
turned a blind eye to human rights violations and allowed perpetrators to
operate with impunity," Amnesty International secretary-general Irene Khan
said ahead of the meeting which opened Monday.
"And if it is not
willing to confront the major human rights challenges of the world, it will
be sidelined," she said.
Adrien-Claude Zoller of the Swiss NGO, Geneva
for Human Rights said the UN body - which is charged with upholding and
denouncing human rights violations - had lost sight of its
"The Commission has become a chamber of impunity, with the
judges and the accused sitting on the same bench," Zoller
But Zoller worries that suggestions put forward by developing
countries to move away from "naming and shaming" countries - in favour of a
slap on the wrist and more technical and cooperative assistance - could
weaken the Commission's position.
"Condemnation is a must when massive
human rights abuses have been committed. Without it, the Commission will no
longer have a raison d'Ítre," Zoller said.
"It's ridiculous that
members of the Commission might even consider no longer adopting resolutions
on countries," he added. "The only way for them to uphold their mandate is to
denounce violations, while at the same time providing support."
human rights groups have demanded a debate on the human rights record
of several other individual countries.
"When you look around the
world, you see a battering of human rights in Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo,
China, Chechnya, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and now Haiti," Khan said.
"And where is the Commission in all of this?"
The British Conservative
party led by its foreign secretary Michael Ancram has urged the government
there to make another attempt at getting a resolution on Zimbabwe. But while
the response from the UK government has been lukewarm, the US quietly
released its damning report to coincide with the UNHRC session which opened
The report also accused Mugabe's government of restricting
freedom of the Press by shutting down the country's sole independent daily
paper, The Daily News, academic freedom, right of association for political
organisations and viola-ting worker rights.
During the course of the
year, a number of journalists, mostly from the privately-owned media and
foreign correspondents, have been harassed and arrested for publishing
articles perceived to be anti-government.
"The government continued to
restrict freedom of speech and the Press; closing down the only independent
daily newspaper, beat, intimidated, arrested and prosecuted journalists who
published anti-government articles," it said
The report said the
judiciary was not spared as judges and magistrates have been attacked for
handing down judgments against the ruling party while detained persons were
not allowed prompt or regular access to their lawyers.
were denied access to their clients during the course of the year ... They
complained that police officers were obstructive and verbally and physically
abusive," it says.
The report notes that during the year, Zanu PF
supporters and war veterans, with material support from the government,
expanded the occupation of commercial farms, "and in some cases killed,
abducted, tortured, beat-up, abused, raped and threatened the farm owners,
including anyone believed to be sympathetic to the opposition".
farm invasions by war veterans and Mugabe's supporters are largely blamed for
the current food crisis facing the country, once the breadbasket of Southern
††††††††† BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhuanet) -- The
Chinese army will continue its efforts to enhance the friendly cooperative
relations with Zimbabwe's armed forces, said Chinese Defense Minister Cao
Gangchuan here Tuesday.
††††††††† Cao, also vice-chairman of the Central
Military Commission and a state councilor, made the remark in a meeting with
C.G. Chiwenga,commander of Zimbabwe's defense forces.
said China and Zimbabwe had carried out fruitful cooperation in various
fields since they forged diplomatic relations.
appreciates the Zimbabwean government's adherence to the one-China policy and
its consistent support for China on the humanrights issue and other
††††††††† Chiwenga said the Zimbabwean government
and people will continue to adhere to the one-China
††††††††† Earlier, Liang Guanglie, chief of general staff of
the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), held talks with
††††††††† Liang, also a member of the Chinese Central
Military Commission,said the Chinese army attach importance to its
friendly cooperative relations with the Zimbabwean army, and will actively
promote the exchanges and cooperation between the two sides in various
Our Correspondent 16/03/04 ABOUT 40 workers have fled from a farm owned by
Manicaland governor and retired army general General Mike Nyambuya citing low
salaries, poor working conditions, hunger and substandard
The mass exodus of staff from the Nyamagura farm in Odzi
follows a demonstration by the workers on Wednesday during which workers
complained that they were repeatedly assaulted by the general's bodyguards
each time they complained.
The events in Odzi come barely a week after
workers at a farm in Norton nearly beat up their employer, Masvingo governor
Josiah Hungwe for underpayment of salaries and poor working
Speaking to our correspondent in Odzi Sunday, some of the 40
workers demonstrated said they had resolved to leave the farm after Nyambuya
refused to up their salaries from the $38 000 he has been paying
The farm workers said they were buying maize from Nyambuya at $10
000 per bucket when the Grain Marketing Board is selling a 50kg of maize at $
8 500. They complained that the houses at the farm were substandard and
not suitable for human habitation. The houses have no roofs and water
pipes, which were damaged during the scramble for occupation of the
There is a shortage of books and furniture at the farm school and
pupils are asked to work in the fields in exchange of books from Nyambuya,
"Nyambuya is always guarded by about 10 soldiers who are
usually asked to beat us when we complain about any ill treatment on the
farm," one of the ex-workers Leonard Pangani said. "When I enquired the issue
of better wages Nyambuya asked his men to beat me up as a way of intimidating
the whole community. Everything at this farm is definitely wrong, as there is
no electricity, water, and roofs on the houses."
On Friday last week,
Nyambuya held a field day at Machiri plot where he addressed his audience to
the fact that GMB has lowered the price of maize per bag to $8 500. He
further indicated that wages for farm workers have been hiked from $38 000
although that is not the case on his farm.
Initially there were about 70
families at Nyagura farm, the majority of whom were taken from Clare farm,
formerly owned by a Mr Bannard. The workforce at the farm has been severely
depleted with the exodus of about 40 workers to neighbouring
Skeleton staff had been put in place when a New Zimbabwe.com team
visited the farm. Efforts to get a comment from Nyambuya failed as his
office repeatedly said he was in meetings.
Tobacco at Nyambuya's farm
has ripened and is ready for reaping. However with the current developments
the Governor is likely to face problems and probably a huge loss due to the
poor grade his tobacco is likely to get.
The many black workers, the
eviction of white commercial farmers should have heralded a new era of
fairness and equality. But government officials have been accused of abusing
the land resettlement programme by seizing vast expanses of land and
exploiting workers to maximise their profits.
IMF team in Zimbabwe for economy review Tue Mar 16, 2004 02:03
PM ET WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - An International Monetary Fund team is
in Zimbabwe for a routine economic assessment and consultations with
the government, struggling to pay overdue debts to the global lender, an
IMF source said on Tuesday.
The visit is part of Article IV economic
consultations, the source said, which refers to annual reviews of IMF member
country's to assess economic and financial stability and
"The discussions with the authorities will cover everything,"
the source said.
In December the IMF began procedures to expel the
southern African state as a member for failing to pay its debts to the fund.
It also said President Robert Mugabe's government had not adopted
"comprehensive and consistent policies" to address Zimbabwe's growing
The IMF said Zimbabwe has been in continuous arrears
since February 2001, with arrears amounting to $273 million or about 53
percent of its IMF quota as of November 2003.
The IMF source said
Zimbabwe had resumed quarterly payments to the fund since the December
meeting of the 24-member executive board. According to the IMF Web site,
Zimbabwe made $1.48 million in payments to the fund this year.
payments have not been at a level that can change the course of action," said
one IMF official said.
The IMF and the World Bank led Western donors in
halting lending and balance of payments support to Zimbabwe in protest
against government policies, including its seizure of white-owned land for
redistribution to landless blacks.
The IMF said in December that
economic and social conditions in Zimbabwe, once the region's breadbasket,
had deteriorated, with gross domestic product falling by about 40 percent
between 1999 and 2003 and inflation at about 526 percent in October
Mugabe has accused the financial institutions of pandering to the
whims of the West, which he says have sabotaged Zimbabwe's economy over the
land reforms, leading to record inflation and unemployment, as well as
shortages of foreign currency, fuel and food. (Additional reporting by
Stella Mapenzauswa in Harare)
††††† Zimbabwe Central Bank Closes Major Financial
Institution ††††† Peta Thornycroft ††††† Harare ††††† 16 Mar 2004,
††††† Zimbabwe's Central Bank has closed down one of the
country's oldest building societies, leaving tens of thousands of depositors
uncertain about the status of their money. The building society is the most
significant financial institution to be closed since the Central Bank pledged
economic reforms last December. ††††† The Intermarket Building Society has
been lending money to homebuyers for more than 50 years. It has branches all
over Zimbabwe and is a major processor of salary deposits for civil servants,
in particular teachers. The Central Bank closed the Society on Monday, and
lines of people formed outside its main branch in central
††††† Several people in the line, although reluctant to talk to
reporters, said they were trying to access their salaries. Others said they
are due to be paid on Friday and wanted to speak to company officials to find
out if alternate arrangements have been made. They got no answers because no
one from Intermarket was in the office and its telephones went
unanswered through Tuesday.
††††† The Central Bank says it has placed
Intermarket Building Society under the control of a special curator to
protect depositers' money, and that it hopes to be able to sort out the
company's problems as soon as possible.
††††† Experts say Intermarket,
like many banks, appears to have loaned large sums of money to speculators,
rather than putting it into safer investments. With interest rates now
between 250 and 300 percent, the speculators cannot repay the
††††† As part of its reform drive designed in part to crack down
on currency speculation, the Central Bank has closed at least two asset
management companies in the last three months, and some of their executives
now face accusations of massive fraud. Several other banks have been forced
to lower interest rates. But Intermarket is the first major consumer bank to
have its doors closed.
††††† Many Zimbabwean banks are in trouble due
to the plunging economy and the shortage of cash. Economist John Robertson
says the daily cash shortfall in the banking system is about $Z100 billion,
or $US30 million.
††††† Analysts blame Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation,
super-high interest rates and high unemployment and poverty on a series of
government policies, including political repression and a disastrous land
reform program. The government blames foreign countries for interfering in
its internal affairs.
††††† On Tuesday, a seven-member team from the
International Monetary Fund arrived in Zimbabwe to review the economy.
Zimbabwe owes the IMF almost $300 million, and its membership has been
suspended. Zimbabwe could be forced out of the fund by June 3 if its economy
does not stabilize by then.
THE Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe will institute an investigation into the fuel industry to
ascertain whether the different pump prices being charged by oil companies
The RBZ Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, said the central bank
was interested in those companies that were securing their foreign currency
through the auction system.
"We are not seeking to reintroduce price
controls but we are simply going to check whether a fair price is being
charged for fuel," he said.
Dr Gono was responding to inquiries by army
officers when he addressed them at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare last
Friday. They had queried the different pump prices that are being charged by
different companies in the fuel industry.
Fuel prices shot up last
year following the deregulation of the fuel industry, which resulted in oil
companies sourcing their own fuel.
The deregulation saw fuel prices
initially rising to above $3 000 per litre before they stabilised between $2
500 and $2 800 per litre after the fuel supply situation improved during the
first two months of the year.
However, the prices shot up again to above
$3 000 per litre late last month, after uncertainty over a possible increase
The oil companies reduced their fuel prices below $3 000 after
the Government announced a reduction of duty on petroleum products from over
40 percent to between 0 and 5 percent.
††††† Mugabe could set 'coup plot' punishment ††††† March
††††† The maximum sentence at present faced by 67 alleged
mercenaries in Harare is two years' jail - but a state newspaper reports
today that they could be tried under an obscure law that would allow
President Robert Mugabe to decide their fate.
††††† They will be
photographed and fingerprinted today. Tomorrow they would appear on
immigration and firearms charges, their lawyers said.
††††† They are
accused together with three alleged ringleaders of planning a coup in tiny,
oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
††††† Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge has said
they could face the death penalty. But none of the charges mentioned so far
are ††††† serious offences.
††††† The flight crew and passengers are
accused of making a false declaration about the number of people aboard the
Boeing cargo jet seized at Harare airport, and its destination.
They also face charges of "attempting to conspire to acquire firearms", while
their alleged accomplices were accused of attempting to acquire the weapons,
a charge with a possible 10- year penalty, their lawyer, Jonathan Samkange,
††††† But the state-owned Herald reported yesterday the group
could also be charged under a law banning activities of "foreign subversive
organisations" in Zimbabwe.
††††† A conviction would carry a penalty
of up to five years in jail - or a more severe punishment as decreed by
Mugabe on the advice of law officers, the paper said.
government is investigating whether it has jurisdiction to prosecute the
suspects for conspiring to destabilise a sovereign government other than
††††† The investigators allege Equatorial Guinea's exiled
opposition leader, Severo Moto, offered the group $1.8 million and oil rights
for helping to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Ngeuma.
Fifteen other alleged mercenaries were arrested in Equatorial Guinea last
week, also on suspicion of plotting a coup.
††††† But lawyers say the
suspects were headed to the eastern DRC to handle diamond mine
††††† One of the alleged coup leaders, Nick du Toit, appeared
on TV in Equatorial Guinea to "confess". - Sapa-AP
Stellenbosch - Inkatha Freedom Party
leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Wednesday it had been suggested to him
that he visit Zimbabwe to talk to President Robert Mugabe, but he had
At a joint rally with official opposition Democratic Alliance
leader Tony Leon at the University of Stellenbosch on Tuesday - as part of
their joint "Coalition of Change" - Buthelezi was asked about his party''s
stance on the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe.
Buthelezi said one
should have no illusion that South Africa's economy "is strong and the most
developed country in Africa", but Zimbabwe too had been viewed as "a jewel"
of Africa "until recently".
He did not spell out the metaphor further,
but he said it was easy "to (go down) the slippery path taken by those who
are running a country... very easy to destroy a country as is the case in
"Some people suggested to me when people were to-ing and
fro-ing from Zimbabwe that because I was at university (Fort Hare, Eastern
Cape) with (President) Mugabe I should go and see him, too (to help mediate
in the economic and political crisis)."
Loud roar of
"I declined. I said I did not want to go to Zimbabwe and be
feted by the president.
"I said I did not want to return to say to the
press at the airport: 'The president (Mugabe) explained to me and I
understand'." There was a loud roar of approval from the crowd.
was specifically asked by an English-speaking student if he thought South
Africa "would go the same way (as Zimbabwe)" if there was no change
of government in South Africa.
The opposition leader said conditions
in South Africa and Zimbabwe were different.
However, when the
opposition led by Joshua Nkomo's Zapu PF (the Zimbabwean African People's
Union) - joined to form one party with Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union (Zanu-PF) "at that moment the opposition died in
This had followed on the heels of the bloody massacre of
Matabeleland "instigated by Mugabe and the (parliamentary seaker) Emmerson
It had taken 17 years after democracy in Zimbabwe for
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to leave the trade union movement and
form the Movement for Democratic Change.
'Been in power too
Leon said the transition from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe "was a
positive affirmation of what reconciliation was about" at the time of
independence in 1980.
But, Mugabe and Zanu-PF had been in power too
"What I can tell you is give one man and one party power for too
long, it ends up in a one-party situation. (If a similar situation occurred
in South Africa) the Zimbabweanisation of South Africa becomes a possibility.
But, he pointed out that African National Congress MP and deputy
general secretary of the South African Communist Party, Jeremy Cronin, had
already warned against the "Zanufication" of the ANC - the strangulation of
debate within the ruling party''s ranks.
††††† The England and Wales Cricket Board
was urged by a minister today to "shoulder the responsibility" of withdrawing
from this autumn's tour of Zimbabwe.
††††† Foreign Office Minister
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean said: "The Government is not on a fence. If
it were our decision, we would not go. That is quite clear.
we have no power to stop this tour. It is a matter for the ECB to reach a
decision. That is their decision. In all these issues there
are responsibilities and we all have to shoulder a
††††† "It's too easy just to turn aside and say, 'That's
nothing to do with us because we are a cricket association.' There are
responsibilities for everybody."
††††† Tory Earl Peel had spoken of
the board's "intolerable dilemma". He urged the Government to "get off the
fence and to make it clear with an unequivocal statement to the effect that,
due to the deeply unsatisfactory political situation in that country, the
tour should not go ahead".
††††† Lady Symons told him: "If you feel as
passionately about it as you clearly do, I hope you will get in touch with
the cricket board and tell them what your views are.
††††† "And I am
perfectly prepared to say what our views are. I have been unequivocal about