MDC, ANC end row Dumisani Muleya THE opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and South Africa's ruling African
National Congress (ANC) yesterday moved to contain the election observer row
triggered by a senior South African minister this week.
which had threatened to boycott South African observers over remarks by the
official South African Election Observer team head Membathisi Mdladlana,
engaged the ANC to limit the damage.
Mdladlana sparked controversy by
claiming the electoral process leading to the March 31 general election
would be smooth soon after meeting President Robert Mugabe on Monday
Official sources said MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube
spoke at length to his ANC counterpart Kgalema Motlanthe yesterday in a bid
to avert a fallout.
Ncube, who had accused the South African
observers of an "appalling lack of objectivity" after Mdladlana's statement,
also engaged the ANC poll observer mission head James Motlatsi as part of
the damage control exercise.
South Africa currently has government
and ruling-party teams in the country. It also has an ANC-dominated
Sources said after speaking to Motlanthe,
Ncube wrote a letter to Motlatsi informing him of what had transpired.
Motlatsi replied immediately. It is said he assured Ncube his team would be
"objective and impartial".
In his letter to Motlatsi, Ncube said
Motlanthe had told him the ANC team was not in any way linked to Mdladlana's
Ncube told Motlatsi that Motlanthe had assured
him the ANC team would "act independently and produce a final report based
on its own objective assessment of the conditions on the
"He further assured me that the ANC observer mission is
under strict instructions to discharge its mandate in an impartial and
transparent manner," Ncube wrote to Motlatsi.
Ncube said on the
basis of Motlanthe's "personal assurances" the MDC would "fully cooperate"
with the South African observers except Mdladlana's team. The MDC said
yesterday the government delegation had "compromised its
"Unless someone else leads the mission we will not
cooperate with it," Ncube said. There was speculation Mdladlana's departure
yesterday was linked to the row, but South African ambassador Jerry Ndou
said he had gone to attend a labour meeting in Geneva.
between the MDC and Mdladlana's group was threatening to draw into its
vortex other South African-led observer groups. In addition to its three
teams in the country South Africa also heads the Southern African
Development Community (Sadc) mission.
parliamentary delegation is led by ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe. The Sadc
team is led by South Africa's Minerals and Energy minister Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka told journalists yesterday her team
would observe the poll with "neutrality and impartiality". She said the
team, which so far comprises South Africans and Mauritians, had already met
various interest groups, including Zanu PF and MDC, and would continue to
"We have started consultations with different
political parties, non-governmental organisations and electoral bodies to be
briefed on developments, state of readiness and areas that require
attention," she said.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the MDC complained about
"unfair treatment by the police" and "privileges" given to Zanu PF.
Mugabe's attack on judge draws fire Gift
Phiri PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday came under withering fire from
political and civic organisations for again threatening the independence of
the judiciary by criticising a ruling by the newly created Electoral
In the ruling this week the court allowed jailed Movement for
Democratic Change MP Roy Bennett to contest the forthcoming legislative poll
in Chimanimani constituency.
The judgement, handed down by
Justice Tendai Uchena on Tuesday in the first case to be heard by the court,
said Bennett was not a criminal as his offence, that of pushing Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa during a parliamentary debate last year, was not
covered in the criminal statutes.
Mugabe described the ruling as
"nonsense" at a rally in Chipinge. He said his government would appeal
against it. He told his supporters to proceed as if nothing had
"That is absolute nonsense," Mugabe was quoted as saying in
the official press yesterday.
The International Bar Association
(IBA) immediately blasted Mugabe for the slur advising the ageing leader to
respect the independence of the judiciary.
reaction to the first decision of the newly established Electoral Court
gives particular cause for concern, given the deep culture of threats and
intimidation of the judiciary and precarious state of the country's judicial
institutions, whose independence has been severely undermined by years of
sustained assaults led by the executive," Tim Hughes, deputy executive
director of the IBA, told the Zimbabwe Independent
"The Zimbabwean government should be mindful of the
fact that the world is monitoring their compliance with the Sadc guidelines
on democratic elections which enjoin member states to guarantee
inde-pendence of the judiciary and impartiality of the electoral
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change
described Mugabe's statement as an "indecent assault on the judiciary". MDC
spokesman Tendai Biti said Mugabe's utterance was as "tragic as it was
"For a state president to describe a ruling by a competent
court of law as 'madness' is not only outright contempt of court but an
indecent assault on the judiciary," Biti said. "Whilst legitimate criticisms
of judgments is essential in any jurisdiction, circumspection and
objectivity are always required, particularly when it is the executive
making the criticism."
Biti said the MDC was eager to see what action
Attorney-General Sobusa Gula Ndebele would take.
rights lawyer Sternford Moyo of Harare-based law firm Scanlen &
Holderness said Mugabe's criticism of the judicial decision was not "couched
in temperate, respectful or restrained terms".
"One can only express
the hope that an appropriate intervention by the Chief Justice,
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice will take place in order to
minimise the negative impact of the remarks on the due administration of
justice," Moyo said.
However, Johannes Tomana of Harare-based
legal firm Mandaza, Muzangaza & Tomana said Mugabe was exercising his
constitutional right to criticise the judicial decision.
ZBH panel 'partisan' Staff Writers CANDIDATES
involved in the March 31 parliamentary election have slammed the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings' panel which interviews contestants in the month-end
poll for acting as ruling Zanu PF "political commissars".
said the ZBH Newsnet current affairs panellists, who include publisher Ibbo
Mandaza, Supa Mandiwanzira and Happison Muchechetere, were behaving like
"semi-literate political activists" in their professional
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate
and economic affairs secretary Tendai Biti said the panellists were
"If there has to be genuine national debate Zanu
PF must not bring political imbeciles like Mandiwanzira and Muchechetere who
masquerade as journalists to interview us," he said.
has to be inter-party debate then there has to be proper individuals not
these semi-literate and ill-informed youth brigades posing as television
panellists," Biti said.
Another MDC candidate, Priscillah
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, said the ZBH programme has turned out to be a Zanu PF
"They ask irrelevant questions which they do not
allow us enough time to respond to before their clumsy interjections," she
Candidates say the majority of the screened programmes so far
have turned out to be a farce with the panellists disrupting and
interjecting before the interviewees have responded to
Political analysts said the panellists were doing a
disservice to the candidates and viewers.
Candidates Solidarity Network coordinator Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni said the
interviewing panel was biased because it was composed of "known Zanu PF
"Those people are there to serve one purpose and that is
to belittle everyone who is not Zanu PF and give the impression that
non-Zanu PF candidates are shallow-minded, unorganised and useless," Ndiweni
"What they are doing is not acceptable in journalism and as for
Mandiwanzira, he is just practising politricks (political tricks). Mandaza
should not even be in that panel discussing what the opposition thinks about
the land reform when he himself has been exposed by Matabeleland governor
Obert Mpofu to be a multiple-farm owner."
Jethro Mpofu said he was alarmed by the unprofessional conduct of the
"The panellists are conducting the interviews like they
are engaged in beerhall arguments," he said.
President of the
Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative, a local group assessing the conduct of
elections, Max Mnkandla, said the three panellists were not behaving like
interviewers but interrogators. "They are like CIOs and CIDs, not
interviewers," he said.
However, Mandiwanzira said: "I am surprised
that the same Biti who congratulated me for asking President Mugabe tough
questions is himself so naïve to expect me to pay him back by asking
wishy-washy questions. He is displaying political immaturity."
said politicians must expect tough questions on issues they promise to
"My duty is to probe people and not glorify them or to
ask questions they would like to be asked so that they appear intelligent to
viewers. I do not represent any political party but I play the devil's
advocate," Mandiwanzira added.
Mandaza defended the panel,
arguing that interrogation to a certain extent was necessary to get the best
out of politicians. "We want politicians to reply beyond rhetoric for the
benefit of the voter because sometimes people make empty promises," he
Mawere slams Mugabe Gift Phiri/Chris Goko PRESIDENT
Robert Mugabe this week broke his silence on the extrajudicial expropriation
of self-exiled tycoon Mutumwa Mawere's agro-processing business, FSI Agricom
(FSI), alleging that the businessman was a front for wealthy Chinhoyi white
commercial farmer, Clive Nicole.
Mawere yesterday shot back at Mugabe in
a damning letter seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, accusing "small-minded"
people of taking over his properties illegally. He said the farms were
bought on a willing-buyer/willing-seller basis.
In the letter
Mawere accused Mugabe of telling supporters at a rally in Chinhoyi that he
was working with the "racist Nicole family" to reverse the gains of the land
The Nicole family used to be a large-scale farming
dynasty, operating its own silos and producing about 30% of the country's
wheat in the Banket area before the government's sullied agrarian reforms.
Mugabe accused Mawere of using FSI as a personal enrichment
The official line is that government has taken over FSI as a
result of mismanagement and corruption.Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
even issued an order in terms of the Reconstruction of State-Indebted
Insolvent Companies regulations last year, asserting state control over the
company, among other SMM Holdings' firms. Chinamasa not only cited
mismanagement, but said government was moving in to save over 5 000
However, Mawere's letter shows that government's black
empowerment rhetoric was not matched by actual support for commercial
agriculture. The asbestos and financial mogul says he was arraigned several
times before Agriculture minister Joseph Made and later before Mugabe to
answer charges of colluding with white commercial farmers.
says in 2003 he was summoned to Mugabe's office where he was quizzed about
FSI's interests in agriculture and whether the company was a front for white
commercial farmers. Jailed Finance minister Chris Kuruneri also attended the
"We explained to you the history and background of FSI
programmes but the meeting was inconclusive principally because your
understanding of the role of commercial agro-processors in agricultural
transformation was at variance with commercial reality," Mawere wrote to
"We pointed out that without property rights, it
was unlikely that the land reform could succeed. To this end, FSI had chosen
to purchase its own farms and cooperate with former white commercial farmers
in its programmes.
"You raised the issue of the Nicole family and how
it was possible for you to reconcile our collaboration with this family
knowing their alleged racist past. However, we explained that without the
Nicole family agreeing to sell their equipment, FSI's mechanisation
programme would not have taken off. In other words, without equipment, there
is no prospect for commercial agriculture to succeed," he
In a telephone interview from Johannesburg yesterday, Mawere
said the land reform programme was a farce, pointing out that ruling Zanu PF
fat cats had helped themselves to FSI equipment.
He said senior
government officials had expropriated Allan Granger and Old Citrus farms,
both owned by FSI Agricom. He said the rest of the FSI farms and operations
had been taken over by government.
"Taking over my businesses
illegally may be in the national interest for small-minded people," Mawere
wrote to Mugabe.
"I am not sure whether nationalisation of businesses
furthers the national cause but it is up to the public to judge. I hope that
one day, a day will come when government respects its citizens to an extent
that the highest office in the land can be used for promoting good corporate
citizenry and governance. If the office is now being used to displace the
judiciary and parliament then we have a cause to be concerned."
Zimbabweans face grim poll prospects Gift Phiri THE
outcome of the parliamentary election set for March 31 is crucial to the
future of the country and that of the entire southern African region, the
Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
Analysts said Zimbabwe stands
on the brink of a catastrophe and the international community must act to
prevent total collapse and a humanitarian crisis in the region.
volatile mix of factors renders the current situation in Zimbabwe highly
dangerous, they said.
"Should President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF
declare itself the winner of the March legislative poll in the face of clear
evidence of vote rigging and subversion of the electoral process, these
elements risk causing an explosion with devastating consequences," National
Constitutional Assembly chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku, said.
said over the preceding months, President Mugabe has erected a highly
repressive system of governance to ensure his continued grip on
He said Zanu PF had created an atmosphere of fear throughout the
country, it had subverted the law and forced through parliament legislation
that undermines basic freedoms of speech and assembly. In particular,
Madhuku said, the recently amended Public Order and Security Act prescribes
criminal sanctions for a variety of forms of peaceful political
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change insists that
all indicators demo-nstrate that popular support for President Mugabe's Zanu
PF party is at an all-time low. Recent polling shows that the vast majority
of Zimbabweans are fed up with Zanu PF, the opposition says.
spite of ongoing incidents of political violence, there is still a high
expectation that peaceful change can occur in the country through the
democratic process, Brian Kagoro, chairman of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
"If the outcome of the election is perceived as
unfair, there is likely to be deep frustration among the population and this
frustration may be expressed through violence," Kagoro said. "Protests and
expressions of dissatisfaction are also likely to be met with increased
government-sponsored violence. Moreover, the subversion of democracy in
Zimbabwe will likely influence other countries where democracy is under
threat, such as Zambia and Malawi."
Kagoro said the international
community must recognise that this combination of factors threatens not only
Zimbabwe, but also the entire region.
"The flow of refugees will have
a serious impact upon South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia," he
"In addition, destabilisation will have extremely negative
consequences for investment in southern Africa, damaging the economies of
"In Zimbabwe, very real fears are already being
expressed about vote-rigging and subversion of the electoral process. If the
election is seriously flawed, it is imperative that the entire international
community responds immediately and all states refuse to recognise the
results," he said.
Madhuku said African states must take the lead in
speaking out clearly to condemn any failure by the Zimbabwean government to
afford its people the right to choose their legislators through free and
fair elections in accordance with national, regional and international norms
Probe Moyo's funds - Msika Loughty
Dube VICE-PRESIDENT Joseph Msika has alleged that Tsholotsho independent
candidate Jonathan Moyo and Independent Candidates Solidarity Network
co-ordinator Sikhumbuzo Ndiweni are receiving funds from the same people who
are funding the MDC and should be investigated and dealt with as a matter of
urgency, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
Msika made the
allegation when he addressed members of the Zanu PF politburo and central
committee from Bulawayo province at the party's regional offices last
Msika is said to have alleged that Moyo, together with Ndiweni,
who is running the independent candidates' secretariat in the city, were
being funded by the same people and organisations that are funding the
"Vice-President Msika said Moyo and Ndiweni were
supporting independents because they want an alternative to the ruling Zanu
PF and he said they should be investigated on where they are getting their
funding from," said a source.
When contacted to comment on
Msika's remarks, Ndiweni said people who attended the meeting informed him
of the threats made by Msika against him and said he now feared for his
Ndiweni said as a former Zanu PF cadre himself such threats
from Zanu PF should be taken seriously.
"At the moment I am very
much concerned because Msika is a senior man in Zanu PF and has the state
machinery at his disposal. Knowing Zanu PF since I am a former member of
that party, you can't take such threats lightly," Ndiweni
Sources said state security agents were already investigating
local business people in a bid to nail those alleged to be funding the
campaigns of the independents.
Ndiweni was the Zanu PF secretary
for Information and Publicity for Bulawayo province but res-igned his post
to pursue private interests.
Ndiweni said if anything happened to himself
and to Moyo then Msika would be responsible.
Msika has given that warning, anything that happens to us, our blood is on
his hands," Ndiweni said.
The alleged threats against Moyo and
Ndiweni come hard on the heels of newspaper reports that the government is
investigating all independents to ascertain where they are getting their
Under the Political Parties (Finance) Act, all
political parties in the country are barred from receiving funding from
outside the country.
Zim dims chances of donor support Augustine
Mukaro ZIMBABWE'S prospects of getting donor support for its consolidated
appeal is in jeopardy because of the controversy that has rocked the NGO
A seemingly irreparable rift developed last week when government
demanded that all NGOs account for monies they received from the donor
community. Government alleges that about 37 NGOs operating in the country
received US$88 million under the UNDP's Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP)
for humanitarian assistance.
At a meeting convened by the UNDP
last Friday, it turned out that the majority of the listed NGOs had nothing
to do with humanitarian assistance and were not recipients of CAP
NGOs which received funds under CAP are now expected to
accounts by April 11.
The development comes at a
time when government is expected to send an appeal for assistance to the
UNDP to avert a humanitarian crisis caused by poor harvests. UN officials
said the request for agricultural-sector revival and food assistance
constitutes over 50% of the country's appeal to the donor
Zimbabwe has been rated as the most hunger-prone country
in the Sadc region with an estimated six million in need of humanitarian
assistance this year.
NGOs and donors who attended the Friday meeting
said the appeal was likely to get a tepid reception from donors because of
government's spirited efforts to interfere with NGOs'
They said donors who are willing to help would channel
funds directly to NGOs and not through the UNDP office. NGOs with running
projects signed programme agreements with donors, some running up to
"Our budget system has no provisions for basket funding," one
of the donors who attended the meeting said. "We will continue supporting
running projects with resources going through our implementing partners.
However, CAP-specific projects could be considered from time to
Japan, as one of the key donor countries, funded the World
Food Programme and Unicef programmes to the tune of US$2 million over the
past year. The programmes included school-children feeding and irrigation
In January last year, government approached the UNDP
requesting renewal of the June 2003 CAP and to ask for more
The then resident representative Victor Angelo informed
government that the donor community would only avail aid through NGOs
already operating in the country. He reportedly submitted a list of NGOs
that were going to benefit, giving a breakdown of the money they would
Government now alleges the money could have been used to
political activities instead of the intended humanitarian
Last week government wrote to NGOs demanding that they
account for their funds or risk prosecution and deregistration.
US tourists divert to Uganda Staff Writer THE
American Travel Bureau (ATB) is set to divert over 3 000 American tourists
who had been visiting Zimbabwe yearly to Uganda on the back of a
deteriorating political situation and the possibility of violence ahead of
the March 31 parliamentary election.
The ATB announcement comes as a
direct response to the US State Department's warning against travelling to
Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
ATB chief executive officer, John W Smith,
revealed his organisation's intention to divert the tourists during a
cocktail party in Kampala. The ATB, which incorporates America's 10 leading
tour operators, was in Uganda at the invitation of President Yoweri
The tour operators inspected Uganda's major tourist sites,
including the source of the Nile at Jinja, Sezibwa Falls in Mukono, Tororo
Rock and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
In its advisory warning,
the US cited Zimbabwe's history of violence before elections. It warned
American citizens that they risked harm if they travel to Zimbabwe on the
eve of the March 31 parliamentary poll.
The US government urged its
citizens living in Zimbabwe to take appropriate steps to ensure their
personal safety and to avoid political rallies and
"Reports of violent incidents are running well
below levels prior to previous elections, but the possibility of increased
violence before elections, including parliamentary elections scheduled for
March 2005, cannot be excluded," the State Department said in its
The US warned its citizens to avoid farms occupied by
"so-called war veterans" who are mostly young government supporters "acting
with impunity outside the law".
The statement said the
humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe also made travel to the country
Meanwhile, human rights watchdog, Amnesty International,
charged in a report on Wednesday that a climate of intimidation and
harassment had made free participation in the election
President Robert Mugabe's government has rejected
criticism of its human rights record, calling it part of a propaganda
campaign waged by Western powers opposed to its land reform programme.
Food factor could hold sway in poll Loughty
Dube "ZIMBABWEANS should know that no one formed the MDC but Mugabe's
failures that have ruined this once beautiful country. But the MDC is here
to deliver Zimbabweans to freedom."
That is the message MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai took to Matabeleland South in his campaign to garner
support for the party's parliamentary candidates in the March 31
The opposition leader last weekend addressed four rallies
in Matabeleland South province where his message to the electorate was the
restoration of Zimbabwe to the pre-2000 era of peace and
"As the MDC we do not abhor Mugabe but we are against him
has brought hunger and famine to the people of Zimbabwe. The
MDC will move Zimbabweans from 'Egypt to their new Canaan'," Tsvangirai told
thousands of cheering supporters at Dulibadzimu stadium in
Tsvangirai, who was travelling in his bulletproof vehicle
with a single security vehicle, on Sunday addressed rallies in Insiza and
Insuza before travelling the following day to Ntepe in Gwanda and to
At Ntepe, Tsvangirai addressed over 5 000 people,
composed mainly of youths whom he told the MDC would bring back
non-governmental organisations if elected to power.
killing people in the country but Mugabe has been saying he does not want
people to be fed by international donor agencies. Once the MDC is in power,
the NGOs will come back and operate normally in the country," he
Mugabe last year stopped donor agencies from giving out
food aid and ordered that they take their donations elsewhere saying the
country had enough food.
The food factor is likely to play a crucial
role in the current election as people who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent
on the sidelines of the rally said they were angry with Mugabe's forced
withdrawal of food aid.
"As we speak right now there is no food in the
rural areas and the shops have no food. I travelled all the way from Shashe,
40 kilometres away, to buy mealie-meal because there is nothing in the rural
shops," said Linah Muleya, a mother of three.
"We were getting
the mealie-meal for free from World Vision and the World Food Programme
(WFP) before Mugabe banned the food handouts. We are now forced to fork out
money from our little resources," she said.
Muleya said people in
rural areas would punish Mugabe by voting for the
"WFP and World Vision food was free but now we are
forced to buy expensive grain from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and
sometimes the grain does not arrive for a long time," she
She said the GMB visited an area once every two months and in
some cases after three months.
"As we speak right now, we have
not seen the GMB in the area for close to two months. And they allow a
family to buy only one bag of maize and the bag lasts two weeks," she said.
Muleya said apart from her three children and husband, she was also
supporting an extended family of eight.
"Adults can fend for
themselves but the children suffer because when the
grain is about to run
out we reserve the little for porridge for the children," she
Themba, a teacher in the area, said life was becoming difficult
for villagers as grain stocks were scarce due to poor harvests in the
"Children do not come to school these days
because of hunger. Most people are angry with Mugabe and it is going to
translate into votes for the opposition," Themba
Tsvangirai, who was travelling with the MP for Mbare West,
Tichaona Munyanyi, said the MDC would restore law and order in the country
and ensure that Zimbabweans enjoyed peace.
He said the MDC would
draft a new constitution that would limit presidential terms to
"Mugabe keeps attacking Tony Blair but shockingly he is still
using a British constitution 25 years down the line. The MDC will draft a
new Zimbabwean constitution once in power," Tsvangirai said to applause from
about 5 000 party supporters who packed Dulibadzimu
"President Mugabe thinks the country is Zimbabwe Private Ltd
and that is why he refers to it as 'my Zimbabwe' and that is wrong,"
He said the MDC would revive the economy as a matter of
urgency once in power and create jobs for thousands of unemployed youths in
"The first option is to revive tourism and agriculture and
once that is done, the next option is to bring in investors and everyone
should know that only the MDC can bring investors into the country,"
Turning to the land issue, Tsvangirai said if the
MDC had not been formed Zimbabweans were not going to be given land by
"If the MDC was not formed, Mugabe was not going to
give people land but the MDC is saying the manner the exercise was carried
out was barbaric. Once in power, we are going to implement the one-person
one-farm policy where all Zimbabweans with the agricultural expertise will
The MDC leader said there was need to repeal repressive
laws that were
enacted in parliament. He also took a swipe at the
nationwide computer donations being done by President
"The president is not a donor but we see him giving out
computers to schools that do not even have electricity and proper
infrastructure. It is clear that this is a campaign strategy." He said there
was need to compensate all those who lost parents and dependants during the
1980s Gukurahundi campaign, as a form of reconciliation.
Desperate locals vote with their feet Gift Phiri
recently in Beitbridge LESS than two weeks before Zimbabwe's legislative
election, Clever Tarindwa (24), a poor farm worker from Chipinge near the
Mozambican border, voted with his feet to seek a new life in South
Driven into penury by five years of political turmoil that has
brought Zimbabwe's once prosperous economy to its knees, he jumped onto a
bus heading for the border town of Beitbridge.There, he met the gumha-gumha,
a group of extortionists who take people across the swirling waters of the
Limpopo at night for R100.
Tarindwa, unlike some Zimbabweans who
get swept away or eaten by crocodiles, made it to the other side. Within
hours he was picked up by a South African National Defence Force (SANDF)
patrol and handed over to the police in the nearby town of Musina for
immediate deportation."I left home because there is no work and no food," he
told the Zimbabwe Independent in the border town of Beitbridge last
Wednesday. "I came here in search of a job. Everyone says that life in South
Africa is good. It used to be good in Zimbabwe, but that's all gone
According to a SANDF officer involved in border patrol
operations, the gumha-gumha use cellphones to organise transport with
mini-bus drivers on the South African side of the Limpopo River. In a series
of short hops, the immigrants are transported to the border town of Musina,
and from there they travel south to South Africa's major cities looking for
"Only the very poor walk," the officer
Sibongile Moyo (22), who was picked up after leaving her
village near Bulawayo, told the same story.
"Work is hard to come
by in Zimbabwe," she said. "There is not enough food. It is expensive and we
don't have enough money to buy. The people are frightened. They get
Tarindwa and Moyo are two of thousands of Zimbabweans
fleeing President Robert Mugabe's misrule.Everyday a police lorry leaves
Musina with 30 to 40 "undocumented migrants" for the 12-kilometre trip back
to the border, where they are dumped on the other side. Most are picked up
while trying to hitch a lift on the main road to
Others are caught while trying to make their way
through local game or hunting grounds, or are turned in by people who fear
the migrants might take their jobs and women.Hundreds of South African
soldiers patrol the three razor-wire fences along the border with Zimbabwe
that were erected during the apartheid era to keep out African National
"They wrap themselves in blankets and crawl under
the fence," Godfrey Mathabatha, a private on one of the border patrols,
said. "When we catch them, their clothes are torn. They are tired and
thirsty and often have gone for a week without something to
An old army base at Artonvilla on the banks of the Limpopo has
been set aside by the South African government as a holding camp for
migrants, should the situation in Zimbabwe reach "meltdown". It can hold up
to 1 000 people while they await deportation.
Colonel Tol Synman,
the officer in charge of the regional SANDF, said: "We arrest up to 2 500 a
month. But we have no idea how many get through."
Some estimates put the
figure as high as 500 a day.
"We are getting more and more
undocumented migrants now because of the shortage of food in Zimbabwe,"
Colonel Synman said.
"They cross the river even when the water is
chest high. Our troops have reported some of them being swept away or eaten
by crocodiles."He said unless the illegal migrants were granted refugee
status, "our job will remain to hold the line".
In January, 2 600
people were arrested and handed over to the police, a figure lower than last
year, the officer said. He noted that increased activity by the Zimbabwean
police had impacted on the illegal crossings. The border jumpers are
eventually deported to Zimbabwe.
The South African military, through
an agreement with Zimbabwe, has the authority to intercept would-be illegal
immigrants in what is technically Zimbabwean territory, the officer said. He
pointed out that a man found wading in the Limpopo River would probably be
arrested before he reached the South African bank.
South Africa, the concern of the authorities is the damage that illegal
immigrants can cause to farms and properties. Farmers complain that snares
are set and crops damaged as the border jumpers cross their fields.
political violence in the run-up to Zimbabwe's legislative election leads to
a large influx of asylum seekers, "our first priority will be to look after
our own people, the farmers", the officer said. "If hungry Zimbabweans strip
property on farms, there is going to be conflict with the farmers."
recent report by the Solidarity Peace Trust stated that Zimbabwe's largest
export was now its people.
NRZ commits $6b to new ticket machines By Susan
Mateko THE loss-making National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has embarked on a
$6 billion programme to replace obsolete ticket machines with
state-of-the-art equipment imported from the United Kingdom, the Zimbabwe
Independent has learnt.
The portable Almex Micro 3 and Almex A90
machines were sourced from Britain late last year and were delivered in the
country earlier this year.
The Almex Micro 3 machines, which are
fitted with a rechargeable battery, will be used by mobile conductors while
the Almex A90 will be used by ticket-issuing staff at major stations
throughout the country.
The ticket office A90 type machines are powered
NRZ corporate and public affairs manager, Misheck
Matanhire, this week confirmed the acquisition of the machines which he said
were a replacement of the outdated ticket machines that were purchased in
"The new machines were acquired at a cost of £229 000, although
there are some ancillary equipment such as the modems and computers which
were also acquired at a cost of $250 million for the same
"The new system was recently tested between Bulawayo and
Harare and has produced satisfactory results," Matanhire said in a
Matanhire said the machines would enhance revenue
collection system since they were fitted with tight audit control
"These machines, which are designed for use in today's
changing public transport industry, will immensely benefit the travelling
public, as well as the NRZ, because they are simple to use and should bring
to an end the long queues that have been experienced at railway stations,"
He said the machines are capable of producing highly
detailed tickets that are easily understood by staff and
In another development, the NRZ says it has embarked on a
programme to rehabilitate all its coaches that have been
"The NRZ has embarked on a programme to upholster all its
coaches which have been vandalised by saboteurs. Zimbabweans can certainly
look forward to a new passenger train service to be offered by the NRZ,"
Arda fails to pay workers Godfrey Marawanyika THE
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has failed to pay
workers at two of its estates in Rusitu and Middle Sabi. This has affected 2
600 employees amid speculation that the organisation's funds were diverted
to other uses.
At Rusitu, located in Chimanimani, the parastatal has
failed to pay its 200 employees for the past two months, while in Middle
Sabi 2 400 workers have been affected.
Employees at the Arda
headquarters say they only received their January salaries in
In the Middle Sabi, Arda grows wheat, cotton and seed maize
whilst in Rusitu one of the major products is coffee.
executive Joseph Matowanyika could not be reached for comment as he was said
to be out of the office attending a meeting.
By the time of going to
press Matowanyika had not responded to this paper's
Officials at the parastatal however said the issue of
salaries was being addressed.
They said that a fortnight ago,
Matowanyika convened a meeting with staff at head office to proffer his
apologies but there was no "solution".
The officials said a number of
farm workers had been affected because of the change of ownership of the
farms as a result of the land reform programme.
clinched a deal with a Chinese company to produce and export
Under last year's agreement, Arda is during the 2004/5
marketing season expected to sell two million kg of the golden leaf, with
the bulk of it going to China.
Matowanyika last year said under
the deal, they had agreed to increase output to 10 million kg this year, and
between 20 and 30 million kg next year.
Zimbabwe and China have
signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding although nothing much has come
of them as Chinese companies insist on cash upfront for their services and
is beginning to disprove ministerial claims that last season's maize crop
stood at a record 2,4 million tonnes. It has upset official assertions that
this windfall would propel the country to regain its breadbasket status as
the spectre of serious food shortages now loom large across the
A combination of factors such as failure by the state to provide
new farmers with adequate tillage units and the shortage of fuel, which
together with the late delivery of seed and fertiliser to smallholder
farmers, has gradually taken its toll on the projected harvest. A
shortage of tractors and rains that petered out prematurely were other major
constraints. In addition, wheat farmers could not clear their fields in time
as the cost of hiring combine harvesters shot through the roof while a
clutch of harvesters imported by the government fell far short of
requirements. Government through Arex reported that 977 694 hectares had
been tilled but commercial farmers' organisations say only 328 248 hectares
was put under crop, constituting 41% of the area normally planted before the
invasion of commercial farming areas.
Richard Chitanha of Selous
farming area, one of the country's prime agricultural areas, bemoaned his
shattered hopes of a bumper harvest due to erratic rains. "As it stands, the
situation is hopeless. After all the planning and commitment we put into our
preparations the rains let us down," he lamented. Some farmers in the
area have invested their hope in pumpkins that seem to have weathered the
dry conditions which occurred late into the season. Agricultural minister
Joseph Made and his Labour counterpart Paul Mangwana seem resigned to the
disaster that is unfolding before their eyes while government battles to
import food covertly from neighbouring South Africa and Zambia where some of
the dispossessed white commercial farmers have found refuge.
last week discontinued food exports to Zimbabwe to safeguards its national
stocks. But more problematic than anything else is government's stubborn
refusal to openly admit the existence of food shortages and the mistakes it
made in preventing non-governmental organisations from assisting. Food aid
agencies in Zimbabwe now need to find fresh ideas, acceptable to both
government and the donor community, to expand the limited working space in
which they are currently forced to operate.
At the same time social
protection programmes established to address the food needs of the aged,
orphans, chronically ill and other social welfare cases, have become grossly
inadequate. The targeted feeding programmes currently allowed by government
cannot adequately address the food shortages facing both urban and rural
communities in Zimbabwe. Economist Eric Bloch says Zimbabwe's dire need to
import grain to bridge the widening food gap will undoubtedly increase the
prices payable by the consumer. "The foreign currency required for food
imports will reduce the availability of foreign currency necessary for other
essential imports in 2005," he says.
An unreliable railway transport
system and intermittent fuel supplies will hobble efforts to provide food to
the needy communities. As controversy rages over government accusing NGOs of
failing to account for funds donated under the Consolidated Appeal Process,
a looming food crisis threatens the livelihoods of millions of peasants in
There are now serious fears that a Zimbabwe appeal for
humanitarian assistance through the United Nations office in Harare would
not attract enthusiastic reaction from western donors who have been
reluctant to work with the government of Zimbabwe. Last week acting United
Nations Development Programme resident representative in Zimbabwe, Benard
Mokam, said the move by government to threaten NGOs in Zimbabwe was sending
a wrong signal to donors. The government has sent letters asking donors
to account for monies it purports was availed to government by donors
through the UNDP for humanitarian assistance. NGOs that fail to account for
the funds would be deregistered. The NGOs however contend that the money was
for on-going projects funded by donors and not for the government's
consolidated appeal through the UNDP. With disaster looming, World Food
Programme spokesperson, Makena Walker, said Zimbabwe has not yet approached
her organisation for food assistance.
"We are continuing with
programmes we started in 2003 in collaboration with other donor
organisations in running supplementary feeding schemes. The programme caters
for about a million pre-school children a month in addition to assisting
home-based family support programmes in all parts of Zimbabwe covering 100
000 households," Walker said. WFP was also running supplementary feeding
schemes for children under the age of five in Bulawayo and Harare, she
said. According to a Fewsnet report on the state of food availability among
households staple cereals are increasingly becoming unavailable in most
Maize prices on the parallel markets continue to rise,
limiting the ability of poor households to buy enough food to satisfy their
needs. By mid-January this year, only markets in a relatively small area
covering six of the country's 57 rural districts were selling maize grain
for below $830/kg. The highest maize prices, between $1 660/kg and $2 225,
were observed in parallel markets in Manicaland, Masvingo and Matabeleland
povinces. Fewsnet says high inflation in food prices is worsening the
situation with a smaller proportion of urban households unable to purchase
sufficient food due to the continued erosion of real incomes. Levels of
malnutrition and related diseases could rise.
Vulnerability Assessment Committee presided over by the Department of
Agricultural Research and Extension Services (Arex) estimates that about 3,3
million rural people would not be able to obtain all the food they
Two months ago government reportedly released $12,1 billion for
the purchase of maize from the Grain Marketing Board as part of a $48
billion drought relief package. It disputed its own estimate the number of
people in need of assistance, pegging the figure at 1,5 million. However,
given current prices of maize grain on the parallel market, and little
evidence of improved incomes or income generating opportunities in rural
areas, the population in need of food assistance is expected to be well
above the ZimVac's estimate of 3,3 million people, the report adds. In
January United Nations Development Programme executive director James Morris
challenged Zimbabwe's claims of a bumper harvest saying the turnaround from
one million to 2,4 million tonnes "would be staggering if true". Yet
Zimbabwe has yet to approach donor agencies for assistance.
react to the appeals on humanitarian grounds as our executive director James
Morris has said in the past. But until such time that the government has
approached us we will only continue with the programs we are currently
undertaking," Walker said.
Walker said Arex were still in the field
assessing the situation and WFP would respond accordingly. Fewsnet says
while on-going targeted feeding programmes being run by NGOs and the
government are considerably helping the needy population in both urban and
rural areas, the scope and geographic coverage of these programmes are
insufficient to reach a significant proportion of the food insecure
I RECEIVED this
somewhat crazy joke last year from a former colleague who has since migrated
to the cold climes of the north. It goes something like this: Three world
leaders, an African, an American and a Japanese were in a bar quaffing away
after a long anti-corruption conference where they had all supported the
resolution that leaders must declare their assets.
After the booze had
gotten the better of them an argument erupted over declaration of
"There is no way you can declare all your assets," said the
American. "That is why African leaders are always hiding some of them in
"We Africans do not have anything to hide. We are
setting up anti-corruption commissions in our countries to deal with graft
at all levels," shot back the African leader.
The Japanese guy
then came in: "It's you two guys who have problems. Leaders should just bare
it all like we do."
"Then do it," chipped in a man seated at the next
table who had listened to the animated discussion with
The Japanese guy jumped onto the bar table and stripped to
the skin. "You see, I have nothing to hide."
The other two also
shed their clothes and so the three stood on the bar table to show that they
had nothing to hide. Fascinated patrons in the bar did not take time to form
a panel to judge the assets on display. The African won by a mile followed
by the American, with the Japanese coming a distant third.
it off guys. That's definitely not polite behaviour! Political leaders
should always declare their assets to show that they have nothing to hide.
That way, we, the public, can tell if they were born corrupt, or became
corrupt only after they were elected. If this helps to prevent corruption,
then I'm all for it. Two weeks ago new Mozambican Finance minister Manuel
Chang put his comrades in cabinet in an invidious position when he declared
to the media all his assets. I mean his wealth: real estate, bank balances,
earnings and motor vehicles.
In Mozambique all ministers are
obliged to declare their assets to the Constitutional Council on taking
office to safeguard against self-enrichment through corrupt means. However,
there are not many Changs in Mozambique. In fact, there is no law that
forces the ministers to declare their assets. Put simply, it is an
obligation that is not compulsory but voluntary. Do you read any sense into
Rwandan President Paul Kagame in 2002 asked members of the
newly-installed parliament to endorse the establishment of an ombudsman's
office so that government officials could declare their assets before taking
"We need to have a continuous assessment of how our leaders
accumulate their wealth," he said during the swearing in of his new cabinet,
adding that this was "compulsory" for all government
"I call upon this parliament to urgently pass the law
setting up the ombudsman's office to enable us keep track of the wealth that
our officials accumulate over time," he said.
declared his assets last year but under Rwandan law, details cannot be made
public unless the ombudsman finds discrepancies between what is officially
declared and what Kagame possesses.
The Mozambican and Rwandese cases
sum up Africa's commitment to fighting the scourge. There is always a
proviso to either ensure there is no full disclosure or there is no
disclosure in the first place.
If Kagame really wanted to lead from
the front in the anti-corruption crusade, he should have bared all and be
But at least there is something on course in these countries
whilst our own leaders here have continued to put on layers and layers of
apparel to cover their shameful bodies.
Politicians in third
world countries have been slow to pick up the practice of openness and have
been unwilling to implement it at all, which is why massive corruption
thrives without shame in Zimbabwe.
Can anyone among our own leaders
stand up and do a Manuel Chang? No, that is too rich to even contemplate.
Could you imagine if our Finance minister had declared his assets when he
took office? That would be too ghastly to contemplate for his comrades in
cabinet who live like kings on a headmaster's salary. Does anyone still
remember the Leadership Code of the 1980s?
The shunting aside of that
document was the death of any attempt to fight corruption in both the
private sector and the government. It sort of sent the signal: It's now
legal guys, let's do it.
New Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele
last week told journalists at a training workshop in Harare that public
figures should declare their assets. That is a bold statement from the
government's top lawyer.
But perhaps he should take the first step
and tell us what's in his kitty. He should be followed by Anti-Corruption
minister Didymus Mutasa who last year was asking people to confess their
If he is to play god then he has to prove that he is
spotless.If this is gonna work at all, let's bare it all guys.
ONE could be forgiven for thinking that Zanu PF's world ends on March
31. The party's mindset has been so tuned to winning the election that it
has become blind to the fact that there is April 1 and days, weeks and
months to follow.
The state of the nation after March 31 - in the
event of a Zanu PF victory - will be determined by policies being propagated
by the party now. There is no attempt by the Zanu PF leadership to devise
strategies that would rescue the country from its current isolation.
Repression and demagoguery, which have kept Zimbabwe out of the community of
nations, are being celebrated here as if they will put food on the table and
create jobs for the multitudes on the street. The Supreme Court ruling
this week upholding the constitutionality of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act was feted in the state media as an important
victory for the country. Lawyers with Zanu PF leanings were wheeled into the
TV studios to tell us that the judgement had cleared all impediments to the
application of the law and that the ruling was a confirmation that Aippa was
good legislation which did not inhibit the holding of free and fair
elections and the operations of journalists in Zimbabwe.
dangerous delusionism which has been the hallmark of Zanu PF governance. No
one will be fooled by the dross that Aippa is suddenly a good law because
our not-so-respected Supreme Court bench has upheld its dictates. Aippa
remains a patently anti-democratic law and an instrument to stifle public
discourse. It will not receive international acceptance because Chief
Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has declared it constitutional.
Commission on Human and People's Rights in its recently adopted report on
Zimbabwe recommended the amendment of Aippa because it is not in sync with
regional and continental conventions to which Zimbabwe is a signatory. Of
late, there has been a spirited defence by the police of the Public Order
and Security Act, which the African Commission also recommended should be
amended because it is bad law. Our rulers will not take heed because
demagoguery is often built on a connecting web of bad laws.
has advertised its ill-famed credentials to the international community long
enough but the Zanu PF government still believes in strutting its stuff as
the tough guy standing up to international bullies. This, unfortunately, is
foolish bravado that is making us poorer by the day. As if this were not
enough, we have Labour minister Paul Mangwana threatening to prosecute NGOs
under the Private Voluntary Organisations Act for allegedly failing to
account for monies purportedly raised for humanitarian
purposes. International donors who provided the funds are not amused by this
ministerial intrusion. Local NGOs who have provided useful cover to
government in feeding the poor in rural areas are also chafing at this
attempt to label them criminals.
With widespread crop failure this
year due to erratic rains and the usual problem of poor planning, Zimbabwe
is a candidate for international assistance even if Mangwana and Agriculture
minister Joseph Made want us to believe otherwise. In the absence of
goodwill between government and international donors, the latter would
rather channel aid through NGOs. Enter Mangwana and suddenly this
arrangement, which averted a major humanitarian crisis in 2003 and 2004, is
These are the fruits of government's failure to focus beyond
an election victory against the MDC. There is no plan in place to
reintegrate the country into the international community and restore its
image as an investment destination. There is no attempt to help Zimbabwe
qualify for balance-of-payments support at a time forex shortages are about
to deepen. As things stand, we are not sure what Mugabe meant when he
declared 2005 a "year of investment". We are waiting for that to translate
into jobs, houses and a revival of the manufacturing sector. Meanwhile,
the language of hate and intolerance persists.
Our asinine neighbours
cheering Mugabe on should be reminded that Zimbabweans want to start living
a normal life again. That cannot happen when people are hostage to a
repressive system built around coercion and paranoia. If the region is to
become a zone of peace and prosperity, Sadc rulers, and particularly South
Africa, must stop abetting misrule in Zimbabwe. Nothing will change after
March 31 except for the worse. Zanu PF has no idea how to pull itself out of
the hole it has dug for the nation. Facile self-deception is no substitute
No solution to Zimbabwe crisis By Brian
Raftopoulos THRUST into yet another general election, there is little sense
in Zimbabwe that the country is moving towards a substantive resolution of
its political crisis. This feeling of the continued postponement of a
political resolution is expressed both in the ruling party's recurrent
recoil from any meaningful national dialogue and in the persistent
polarisation of the international community on the issue of an acceptable
outcome of the crisis.
Zanu PF and its affiliated intellectuals have made
much of the electoral reforms that have been introduced this year, and the
nominal opening up of the electronic media to opposition parties. In effect,
these "reforms" add up to little more than a thinly disguised framework for
continued ruling party control, while the slightly increased access of the
opposition to radio and television have been, for the most part, undermined
by the perverse barrage of Zanu PF propaganda surrounding these minimal
The structural authoritarian framework of the ruling party
remains firmly in place, just as the processes around the party's succession
debate confirmed the party's rigidities, notwithstanding the eventual
expulsion of its most odious representative. As for the much-touted reduced
levels of violence, given the history of ruling party's violence since 1980,
even the threat of violence and its symbolic presence in communities serve
as constant reminders of the punishment that awaits dissenting
It is unrealistic to pretend that voters will easily forget
the central mobilising tool of an incumbent party on the basis of the
promises of "non-violence" made by a political leadership that has on many
occasions proudly defined its character by its accomplished "degrees in
The dominant tone and message of Zanu PF's campaign once
again reveals an inability to accept the presence of a legitimate national
opposition. Casting its campaign as "anti-Blair" and demonising critical
voices as "traitors", the president and his party continue to narrow the
space for productive national debate. The exclusivist presumptions of a
dominant party set the tone for another assault on our political
However, the difference this time round is that the message
carries less force than it did in 2000 and 2002, for the language of
external blame, real though such factors are, has sounded increasingly
hollow in the face of diminished internal capacity and the corrosive effects
of political rot.
The real complexities of the relations between outside
pressures and internal dynamics cannot be flattened by the simplistic
encapsulation of blame in the figure of a foreign prime minister. One gets
the feeling that even within Zanu PF, this message has become a talisman
desperately invoked to hold back the accumulating fears in the ruling
In the hands of Zanu PF, the idea of sovereignty has been
translated into a legitimation for national repression. A nationalism that,
however problematically, once carried the broad hopes of an emerging nation,
has been transformed into an arcane authoritarianism dressed in
The Zimbabwean political landscape is
littered with the wreckage of the ruling party's clearance campaigns. Every
appeal to "the people" is not a call for popular participation, but a
rhetorical device expounded to legitimise yet another attack on democratic
spaces and individual liberties. The outcome is a greatly weakened sense of
a common national identity. Instead many Zimbabweans have a heightened
awareness of a fracturing political process in which a decreasing number of
citizens are prepared to invest a common loyalty.
One of the
major lessons of Zimbabwe's history is that a dominant party cannot coerce a
nation into unity. Neither the physical brutality of political violence nor
the symbolic onslaught of a monopolised media can create the consensual
basis for the long-term creation of national belonging. In many ways we are
witnessing traumatised subjects on hold, living daily with their anxieties,
fears, loss and omniscient material deprivations.
It is this
reality that those election observers who have been invited to the party
need to be acutely aware of. South African President Thabo Mbeki and his
Foreign minister have gone out of their way to make a favourable pre-emptive
judgement of the forthcoming election. It is likely that the South African
president is responding to US President George Bush's negative
characterisation of the regime in Zimbabwe, and that the language of regime
change has set off the alarm bells in Mbeki's African National
Certainly it appears that the former Mugabe/Blair public battle
has been transposed into a Mbeki/Bush row, and that Mbeki is responding
defensively to growing Western criticism of his "quiet diplomacy", while
desperately seeking the Zimbabwean president's cooperation for a more
formally open election process that will create new diplomatic spaces in the
post-election period. However, it must be said that while the South African
leader is attempting to address a variety of audiences, he is communicating
his messages very badly.
As things stand the script has almost
been finalised for a continuation of the political crisis in Zimbabwe. There
is unlikely to be a sufficient consensus among the regional and
international players on the outcome of the election and the stalemate,
while slightly repositioned, is likely to continue. The ball for the most
part remains in President Robert Mugabe's court, and his relations with the
South African government.
A favourable election result for Zanu PF
under the current arrangements is once again not likely to convince any but
the already converted. It may confirm that the ruling party has its hands
firmly on the levers of state, but cannot deliver the broader legitimacy
that will provide the impetus for a new political initiative in the country.
On the other hand, a good election result for the opposition will be
damaging for the present regime.
For the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) entry into this election has entailed some very serious risks,
but in my view risks worth taking. For the alternative was a nebulous
strategy, expounded by a section of the civic movement that would have most
likely resulted in an early implosion of the opposition. A disastrous
election result, notwithstanding the legitimacy obstacles that will still
confront the Mugabe government, could still precipitate a leadership battle
in the MDC and a general reconfiguration of opposition forces in the
However, the battle to at least retain existing ground and
to consolidate for a longer-term political struggle provides opportunities
for rebuilding the structures of the party, and as important, working
through the tensions and problems with the labour movement and the civic
structures. For the moment these inputs into strengthening the existing
opposition need to be maintained, while the limited spaces for such
activities still remain.
I have listened with respect to the
arguments for abstention from the election, particularly by the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), and been struck by the lack of an alternative
perspective on the way forward. In the current political environment, the
demand for a new constitution on its own cannot provide a broad enough
platform to create a political alternative. Constitutional reform is a
necessary but not sufficient requirement for a different political
Even in the formative period 1997-2000 the force of the
constitutional movement was based on its alliance with broader social forces
and political objectives. The rhythm of the constitutional process will in
my view continue to be decided by the dynamics of stronger political
In recent weeks comments by the leadership of the NCA
indicate that the organisation may be looking towards the creation of an
alternative political force. The continued barriers to electoral politics
erected by Zanu PF could well add impetus to such thinking, though at this
stage it seems unlikely that such a formation would signal any significant
advance in the political stalemate, especially if the politics of such a new
force were linked to that of the so-called independents. The latter look
more like a residual Zanu PF formation.
Thus both Zanu PF and the
MDC face major challenges with little chance of either advancing
unilaterally in the near future. More than ever before, a new national
dialogue is required, but in the current context this is the least likely
outcome of Zimbabwe's political blockage.
In the meantime the space
for democratic politics is dwindling and the opportunities for a democratic
opposition receding. This may be one of the undoubted legacies of Zimbabwe's
25 years of Independence.
*Brian Raftopoulos is associate professor
at the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development
SA must stop aiding and abetting Mugabe By Welshman
Ncube THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is increasingly perplexed by
claims by the South African government that the elections in Zimbabwe will
be free and fair and by its claims that it does not see any problems in
Zimbabwe's electoral system.
The MDC does not understand the South
African government's ignorance about the situation in Zimbabwe and the basis
for such optimism and believes that the position adopted by the South
African government is not only misinformed, but also dangerously
At present it is clear to each and every objective
observer that conditions for a free and fair election do not exist in
Zimbabwe. There is therefore nothing whatsoever to suggest that the
elections will be free and fair, or indeed legitimate. The electoral
environment is actually worse than it was during the March 2002 presidential
Contrary to the view propagated by the South African
government, its counterpart in Harare is not taking any meaningful steps to
ensure the elections will be free and fair.
The voters' roll is
in a shambles, violence and intimidation remain prevalent, equal access to
the state media is a myth and the elections will be managed and run by the
same biased electoral bodies which have manipulated the electoral process to
the political advantage of the ruling party in previous elections, not
withstanding the existence of the so-called independent Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission which so far has totally failed to impress its authority over the
old institutions who are now de-facto managing elections in
The much-trumpeted new electoral commission has no direct
role to play in this election. It was established far too late to have any
meaningful influence on the process. More importantly, anything it does do
is subject to the authority of the President Robert Mugabe-appointed
Electoral Supervisory Commission. This compromises its
The MDC and other progressive forces in Zimbabwe are
therefore deeply concerned to hear the South African government praising the
new "independent" commission and citing its establishment as proof that the
Zimbabwe government is complying with the new regional election standards.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
MDC meetings and rallies
continue to be banned or disrupted by the police under the notorious Public
Order and Security Act. Sixteen MDC candidates have already been the victims
of arbitrary arrest and police harassment and scores of MDC activists have
been arrested for such innocuous crimes as putting up posters. No Zanu PF
supporter has yet to be arrested for this "crime".
of members of the police and army in incidents of political violence casts a
dark shadow over the legitimacy of the entire electoral
The MDC urges the South African government to re-think
the wisdom of publicly expressing its confidence in the capacity of Mugabe
and Zanu PF to host free and fair elections when there is a dearth of
evidence on the ground to support such an optimistic
Positive signals from regional neighbours provide
unnecessary succour to the authorities in Zimbabwe and often serve to
galvanise those bent on engaging in anti-democratic
To the people of Zimbabwe, the optimism expressed by the
South African government is increasingly viewed as misplaced solidarity and
a deliberate attempt to frustrate the new beginning they so desperately
desire. This perception undermines public confidence in the objectivity and
impartiality of South African and Southern African Development Community
(Sadc) observer missions.
There is a growing suspicion in
Zimbabwe that the sole objective of the Sadc and South Africa observer
missions is not to ensure the full expression of the "one person, one vote"
principle but to legitimise a Zanu PF "victory", regardless of the manner in
which this "victory" is achieved.
There is an urgent need to
demonstrate that this is not the case. However, the decision by the Zimbabwe
government not to invite the Sadc Parliamentary Forum - who published an
adverse report on the 2002 presidential poll - to observe the elections, and
the public defence of this decision by South Africa, sows further doubts in
the minds of the people vis-à-vis the impartiality of the observers who have
We all fought bitter struggles to secure the right to
freely elect leaders of our choice. The people of Zimbabwe want food, jobs
and better living standards. They must be free to vote for the party they
believe is best equipped to address these basic grievances.
moves to compromise the exercise of this basic and hard-earned right would
severely damage the credibility of both the South African government and
Rhetorical commitments to promoting good governance have to be
followed up by concrete action if they are to be taken seriously. The
elections in Zimbabwe provide the first real test of this
Finally we are again appealing to the South African
government to stop aiding and abetting the Mugabe regime's denial of the
basic rights of the people of Zimbabwe to freely elect the government of
*Professor Welshman Ncube is secretary-general of the
THE government and its propagandists are vigorously enthusing
that Zimbabwe's economy is undergoing a very pronounced turnaround. They
claim that the massive economic decline that prevailed with ever-greater
intensity over the last seven years has been halted, and that it is being
progressively reversed. They proclaim loudly that the economy is now firmly
entrenched upon a path of recovery and that economic wellbeing is now
If only that were so, but tragically it is just self-induced
illusion and delusion. The harsh facts are diametrically opposite to the
contentions that the economy is fast overcoming its many ills, and that
economic utopia lies ahead. The president, his cabinet, the ministerial
minions and the state-controlled media found their recurrent heralding of
economic upturn primarily upon the magnitude of the reduction in the
consumer price index-based year-on-year inflation rate. Admittedly, that
reduction has been very impressive, with the rate shrinking from its
all-time high of 622,8 % in January 2004 to 133,6 % in January 2005.
However, on the one hand, the latest rate is still untenably high and the
trigger of intensifying poverty, hardship and misery for millions of
On the other hand, it is almost inevitable that the rate of
inflation will rise significantly in the months ahead, notwithstanding the
vigorous efforts of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to contain inflation.
The virtual certainty that inflation will once again be rising is based upon
diverse circumstances, the first of which is the intensifying dependency
upon food imports. Only a few months ago Agriculture minister Joseph Made,
strongly supported by his Public Service colleague, trumpeted that Zimbabwe
was on the threshold of near record volumes of food production.
foreshadowed harvests of such magnitude that Zimbabwe would resume its role
of southern African granary, exporting maize to neighbouring territories.
They advised the United Nations Development Programme that Zimbabwe would
not be in need of food aid in 2005, other than possibly for Zimbabwe's Aids
orphans. They were hallucinating in the extreme! Having displaced the
thousands of farmers who had the skills and resources and replaced them with
those lacking in resources and, in many instances, experience, there was no
realistic prospect of achieving the bountiful harvests that they
The prospects of those harvests were further shattered
by the failure of the government to provide the new farmers with promised
inputs. To cap it all, drought then reared its ugly head. The result is
that Zimbabwe will have to import at least one million tonnes of maize in
2005, and the transportation and other import costs must undoubtedly
increase the price of food payable by the consumer (although until the
month-end parliamentary elections having come and gone, the government will
use the Grain Marketing Board to subsidise food).
The post-election rise
in food prices will be a major catalyst of rising inflation. Moreover, the
foreign currency required for food imports will markedly reduce the
availability of the forex necessary for other critically required imports.
As a result of inadequate foreign currency resources, exacerbated by reduced
inflows from other agricultural exports due to the forecasts of tobacco
production as spurious as the food forecasts, most industries will not
access the foreign currency needed to fund their imported manufacturing
inputs. Already most factories are using minimal levels of their production
capacities, and those levels are likely to decline further. Many
manufacturers are achieving production of only 20 to 30 % of capacity due
partially to the non-availability of inputs, and partially to discontinuance
or reduction in exports, attributable to loss of export viability and price
competitiveness as a result of almost static exchange rates.
rates have been manipulated into non-responsiveness to inflation, to the
grievous prejudice of exporters and export earnings. In consequence, fixed
overheads of manufacturers have to be apportioned over the diminished
production volumes, thereby increasing unit costs and consequently forcing
prices upwards. The decrease in industrial production and of foreign
currency for imports of finished products will also intensify the shortages
of many products already existing. The excess of demand over supply will
once again stimulate black market activity, with concomitant price increases
further fuelling inflation.
Yet another stimulus of rising inflation
is looming, being the continuing upward movement in world oil prices. Those
prices have risen from about US$29 a barrel only a year or so ago to over
US$52 at the present time.
As if all those ills do not suffice, the
government is once again engaged upon a spending binge evidencing that its
declarations of fiscal discipline were hollow. For a few months the
government harkened to the calls for contained expenditure and minimisation
of the fiscal deficit, in order to assist the drive to bring down
inflation. However, with elections looming, the government has discarded all
endeavours to curb its profligacy. Suddenly it is funding fleets of costly
new motor vehicles for chiefs, distributing pensions of $1,3 million per
month to each of 10 000 "ex-political detainees", representing a fiscal
outflow of more than $15,6 billion per annum, increments for the Public
Service in excess of inflation, nationwide donations of (admittedly
necessary) computers to schools and much else. Clearly the government is
prepared to devastate the economy in order to cultivate voter support, but
in so doing it is creating yet another trigger for escalating inflation.
Although the government is trying to make mileage out of an alleged increase
in the numbers in formal employment, its own statistics demonstrate that
almost 80%t of Zimbabwe's labour force is unemployed. According to the
government, more than four-fifths of those desirous of formal employment are
unemployed. How can that be indicative of an economic upturn?
situation is likely to worsen as more and more industries are faced with no
alternatives other than to lay off contract labour and retrench much of
their permanent work forces, for they are faced with diminishing domestic
consumer demand for their products and can no longer compete in export
markets as a result of their rising production costs not being compensated
for by exchange rate movements. Further indicators of the economic
stagnation include the minimal extent of investment taking place. Foreign
investors are deterred from investing in Zimbabwe by the straitened state of
the economy, the excessively regulatory economic environment and the
non-conducive investment environment created by recurrent threats of forced
disinvestments in favour of indigenous elements, and by disregard for
bilateral investment protection agreements entered into between Zimbabwe and
other governments. The negative economic indicators also include the very
adverse international credit ratings "enjoyed" by Zimbabwe.
A Commonwealth of the margins By Stephen Chan THE
Commonwealth has long been marginal to most people's view of international
relations. There is, however, a thriving Commonwealth industry among
officials and professional groups. Some of this industry is a form of
When the Commonwealth Press Union presents the Astor
Award for Press Freedom, this is a moment of great encouragement to
persecuted African journalists and editors. The difficulty comes when each
group sees itself in isolation, and when Commonwealth officials see the
entire Commonwealth in isolation.
It is probably reasonable to
think of five great groups that constitute civil society. These are the
press, the churches, the universities, the trade unions and the legal
community. Each group, unlike single-interest non-governmental
organisations, speaks in terms of universal values and across-the-board
There are active Commonwealth associations for at least
three of these, but none would pretend that its fight is anything but an
international one that goes way beyond the boundaries of the Commonwealth.
In the world of journalism, for instance, and as the war in Iraq has
demonstrated, it really is a world of journalists sans frontieres. The
advent of Arab international media is a case in point.
in the world of media there was never a closed Commonwealth version of the
real, larger thing. The great broadcast networks of today - BBC, CNN, Fox
and Al Jazeera - are also broadcasters sans frontieres, even if some of them
have very closed ideological backdrops. The fact that the fourth of these
players, Al Jazeera, is not an English-language medium, merely reflects the
scale of change in international communication generally.
If not now,
then very soon, the main Internet language will be Chinese. It was Brazilian
media advisers who, using Portuguese, facilitated the election campaigns in
post-war Angola and Mozambique. And anyone who thinks French is losing its
international place need only observe the avid readers of Le Monde
Diplomatique in the slums of Dakar.
The real problem for the
Commonwealth as an overall world player, however, is that its official body,
the Commonwealth Secretariat, has very limited capacity to act in
international affairs. There are five great issues of today: the issue of
democracy; international violence; the great confessional or religious
divides that may be springing up; the huge issue of health, whether in terms
of HIV or Asian bird flu; and the massive backdrop problem that simply will
not go away of poverty and underdevelopment.
Commonwealth has acted, or tried to act in the facilitation of democracy.
Ironically, its foundation document on democracy is the Harare Declaration
on Human Rights, signed in Zimbabwe in 1991 - but the Commonwealth has been
unable to check the lack of democracy in the last five years of President
Robert Mugabe. The Commonwealth has set its store in what it accomplishes by
way of election observation but, frankly, the Carter Centre now does as good
if not a better job.
Similarly, the Commonwealth has tried to pose
new initiatives to grapple with underdevelopment. But not since the days of
its second secretary-general, Shridath Ramphal, from the mid-1970s to the
mid-1980s, has it proposed anything startling. The agendas are set elsewhere
- in terms that act against the Third World in the World Trade Organisation;
in terms that seek, mildly, to assist the Third World by economists such as
Joseph Stiglitz. The Commonwealth has no capacity at all in the vast fields
of health and disease, confessional violence, war and
And the world groupings, especially the power groupings,
are bypassing the Commonwealth. In the jostling to become members of an
enlarged UN Security Council, India, Nigeria, and perhaps South Africa,
would not sit as self-consciously Commonwealth members. If they sit as
conscious representatives of any group it would be the Non-Aligned
None of the great power blocs that may or may not emerge to
challenge the unipolarity of the US contains a significant, or any,
Commonwealth presence. A United States of Europe, China, a revitalised
Russia, some sort of Asian alliance built around Japan - each would view the
Commonwealth as marginal or moribund.
What can be done with this
polite club, its archaic symbolisms, its lowest common denominator
consensus? There are two stark options.
The first is simply to live
without it. Even the Commonwealth Press Union and its Astor Award would
quickly and easily morph into a different more embracive group. The second
would be to change the Commonwealth into a genuine world player. There would
be two key requirements here.
The first is that its membership must
be enlarged. Either because of the archaic tradition of some former British
rulership, countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Palestine
need to be persuaded to join. Or, as in the case of Mozambique, countries of
all historical backgrounds could be invited into membership. Why not even
In short, the group would become relevant by virtue of
strategically meaningful actors coming on board. It would mean the end of an
English-language Commonwealth. Arabic and Chinese would force the group into
a 21st-century multi-lingualism.
The second key requirement,
conversely, is to reduce the size of the Commonwealth Secretariat. At the
moment it fields several divisions, each trying to say something - even if
it does little - on the huge issues of health and underdevelopment. Their
combined technical impact is, on the ground, negligible.
governments know this, and it is perhaps why they have consistently made
their funding of the Secretariat tighter and more frugal - even though, as
international organisations go, it is already cheap to run.
Commonwealth Secretariat does best right now is illustrated by its meetings
of finance ministers, immediately before World Bank and International
Monetary Fund summits. They give Third World delegations a chance to
rehearse, to brief one another, to form negotiating alliances. It is this
sort of activity at high level, but in fields to do not only with high
finance but high politics that a streamlined Secretariat would
It may mean an end to consensus. There might even be
arguments involving more than everyone against the United Kingdom. It might
mean a moment of delayed maturity.
But, having said all that,
there is a key role that an enlarged Commonwealth, properly facilitated,
should play. This concerns the confessional divides that may plague the
world. They may plague the world only because of a lack of international
It is not enough to say, lazily, there is a clash of
civilisations. It is more important to be able to say what each
"civilisation" represents, how it thinks, what it wants, how it changes when
it is able to interact on equal terms with the West. And how the West
This all goes beyond soundbites. It goes beyond the
sub-editor's skill in punchy headlines. It places a responsibility on
newspapers and broadcasters. But it is this which would not only finally
justify the Commonwealth, it might be an effort that could save us
*This is a summary of Stephen Chan's presentation to the
Biennial Conference of the Commonwealth Press Union in Sydney, held from
February 23-25 2005. Chan is professor of international relations at the
University of London and dean of law and social sciences at the School of
Oriental and African Studies.
ON February 25 this newspaper published a story headed "Time/RBZ
negotiate deal". On March 13 Sunday Business published a story headed "Time
Bank and RBZ in negotiations". Our story in businessdigest was written by
Shakeman Mugari while the Sunday Mail's was authored by Augustine Moyo. Both
stories concerned Time Bank challenging its placement under a curator by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and an attempt to reach a less costly out-of-court
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, it is said.
But we would have expected Augustine to at least acknowledge his
indebtedness to businessdigest instead of quoting nameless sources to mask a
reproduction of Shakeman's story. Plagiarism is a serious act of misconduct
in any field of endeavour, more so in journalism. For once one is made to
feel there was merit in having the Media and Information Commission. But
then the disappointment quickly dawns when Muckraker sees MIC chair
Tafataona Mahoso turning his face the other way when such transgressions are
committed by state reporters.
Either way the MDC can't win. Zanu PF
propagandists seem determined to believe their own lies rather than face
facts. MDC economics secretary Tendai Biti two weeks ago denied that his
party was working with British prime minister Tony Blair in the so-called
regime-change agenda. This was in response to a mischievous question by Supa
Mandiwanzira during a television panel discussion. Biti's answer didn't
please Zanu PF mandarins. If he had said they were working with Tony Blair
they would have lynched his party in the state media. He denied the claim.
That has not stopped them trying to lynch Biti in person in their anti-Blair
campaign material. Their epitaph now is: "Defeat political dishonesty, vote
Zanu PF". Read between the lines to get the message, especially when the
party promises regular fuel supplies and "more foreign currency inflows".
From disenfranchised Zimbabweans in the diaspora!
What exactly is Ivy
Kombo's claim to fame? Nothing more than the myth the media has created
around her as a so-called gospel diva. The problem with our excitable
reporters is that someone becomes a diva even with just one song, and that
is also thought to reflect on the performer's spiritual values. That is
the disaster we are having with Ivy who has courted undue controversy ever
since she released her first gospel song. Her social life and behaviour are
said to be unbecoming. She has not helped matters by trying to play
holy. But last week she stretched our tolerance too far. We don't know how
she performed at the Koffi Olomide show. Her pictures in the papers were
less than flattering. A Herald caption told us she "looked tired after a
good performance" as she sat near two colleagues one of whom was holding
three cans of beer. The Saturday Mirror carried another picture of Ivy from
the same function in which she looked clearly groggy and unable to open her
eyes. She defended her role in the Ndombolo group of "disrepute" by
saying Jesus came into the world for sinners. So she was playing Jesus when
she clapped at Olomide's satanic dances. We enjoyed it when she told the
Standard in an interview that she was in a foul mood these days and in any
case hates journalists from that paper. That is a helpful disclosure. Who
would not want to know who their enemies are? She also claimed her
performance could have resulted in the conversion of one or two prostitutes
in the audience. We hope she did.
The deserter from Mabvuku has no shame
in opening up on her former boss in the Harare city council. This week she
let it be known that dismissed former MDC executive mayor Elias Mudzuri was
a big spender. Sekesai Makwavarara said Mudzuri bought beer and whisky for
councillors "which we would consume" at council meetings. If this was
abhorrent to her why did she join in the binge and never made any noise
about it? At least we didn't bother then so long as there was evidence of
work being done. We wonder what Makwavarara and her imposed commission are
doing now? In the Herald article she complained that there was no water where
she stays, that is in the mayor's mansion in Gunhill. It looks like the
spirit of grabbing lives on in the party.
Talking of political
dishonesty, VP Joyce Mujuru had some revelations for Bulawayo voters last
week. She said Bulawayo was lagging behind in development because the
political leadership in the province did not claim the money allocated for
projects. She said there was a lot of money allocated to the province which
had not been claimed. According to the Herald, Mujuru told her listeners in
Bulawayo that they had voted for the wrong people in choosing the
MDC. "The people that you elected do not come to us to tell us your problems
and sometimes we do not even know the problems that you face," said Mujuru
disarmingly. "There was a lot of money that was given to this province
that has gone unclaimed." This must come as a great relief to the people
of Matabeleland who have been fighting to have water from the Zambezi River
for nearly a century. But telling them that the Zanu PF leadership sometimes
doesn't know their problems sounds like executive arrogance and we doubt if
this claim will find many takers in the March 31 election.
has all but told white Zimbabweans to keep out of local politics. They were
largely blamed for President Robert Mugabe's humiliating defeat in the
constitutional referendum of February 2000. What followed, as they say, is
now history although most of them will lick their wounds for a long time to
We were therefore surprised to see a clever little advert in the
Herald on Tuesday this week inserted by the party's candidate for the Harare
East constituency, one Dr Mukarati Muvengwa Madonza, inviting all and sundry
to the Portuguese Association Club in Greendale for a meeting. Specifically,
it promised "black and white Zimbabwean economic empowerment". Tell that to
Chinotimba and his ilk.
When did whites become of interest to Zanu PF
when it uses them to blemish the MDC? For those who are able to read a
little further, the Zanu PF anti-Blair advert on the facing page promises
voters economic "empowerment through takeovers". That started with the farms
and they say once bitten twice shy - or once beaten twice shy as Zanu PF
would say. Zanu PF is adapting faster than a chameleon.
intrigued by President Thabo Mbeki's claim in his recent Financial Times
interview that he was "the only head of government that I know anywhere in
the world who has actually gone to Zimbabwe and spoken publicly very
critically of the things that they're doing."
Muckraker's memory may be
faulty here but it is difficult to recall which visit Mbeki is thinking of.
We do remember him at one point in South Africa saying land reform needed to
be carried out in a manner that did justice to all races, but nothing "very
critical" at all about Zimbabwe's policy of arbitrary seizures. And
certainly nothing in the last year in which those seizures have persisted
despite assurances to the contrary. It is a pity the FT interviewer didn't
pin the South African leader down to just when he made his "very critical"
Zanu PF propagandist Caesar Zvayi this week took a swing at the
Zimbabwe Independent and Standard claiming they were linked to George Soros.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba has said much the same thing in the
past so it is not difficult to conclude where Zvayi is getting his dubious
information. Needless to say, Zvayi doesn't provide a scrap of evidence to
back his silly claim.
So here's the challenge to all the state's
parrots: let's have the evidence. Either put up or shut up! As for
Zvayi's crass attempts to compare Wilf Mbanga's paper to RadioTelevision
Libre des Mille Collines that promoted genocide in Rwanda in the mid-1990s,
who is it that has been promoting race hate in Zimbabwe? Certainly not the
independent press. And don't we recall Zvayi threatening opposition voters
in more than one of his columns last year? Objecting to The Zimbabwean's
reprinting of the CCJP/LRF report on Fifth Brigade atrocities in
Matabeleland in the 1980s, Zvayi asks, "as a reminder to what?"
answer to that is simple: to a rogue state using the army and police to
crush dissent and settle political scores in the process; to the abuse of
power; to Zanu PF's unrequited ambitions to impose its tyranny on the rest
of us. But we do appreciate Zvayi's attention to detail. The Zimbabwean
was as Zimbabwean as Chelsea, Tony Blair's "only daughter", he claimed
recently. Bill Clinton may be surprised to hear that.
heading "State invests billions in new buildings", the Herald last week
carried a propaganda piece focusing on the new Makombe Complex which will
house the Central Registry, Registrar-General's office, and Passport and
Citizenship offices. This was an excellent choice for the Herald's Silver
Jubilee puff pieces because the building is emblematic of cronyism in the
award of the initial construction contracts, costly delays as a result of
those contracts not meeting requirements, and chaotic scenes at the existing
Citizenship and Passport offices as a result of the whole project being
years behind schedule. Once again, congratulations to the Herald for
advertising the incompetence, waste and inconvenience to the public that are
integral to Zanu PF rule.
In this context we were intrigued by Zanu PF's
claim that it will put an end to "racist factory closures". Does this mean
it will put an end to the party's racism that together with toxic economic
policies have led to factory closures? Or can we expect more of the same:
More unemployment and dishonest attempts to blame this on anybody but those
The author of this facile propaganda should ask the
unemployed who they think is responsible for their fate. They will say
Mugabe, not Blair! And have civic institutions drawn observers' attention to
the fact that a citizen in the back of a taxi exercising his right to
freedom of expression by saying Mugabe was responsible for the mess the
country finds itself in was subsequently charged and given a suspended
sentence - ie warned against making such statements again. So much for
T hen we had Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri making the
fatuous statement that Posa was similar to laws found in Britain and the
United States. "The accusations that this piece of legislation was designed
for one political party are false," he said. "Are all political parties not
holding rallies country-wide as we speak?" Is he seriously suggesting the
opposition has been free all this time to hold rallies wherever and whenever
it wished? That Posa has not been used to prevent rallies or
Don't we recall a Bulawayo MP being arrested for holding a
meeting in her restaurant? As for Posa resembling similar legislation in the
UK and US, Chihuri is free to advertise his ignorance but should not be
surprised if people laugh. Does he really believe Zimbabweans don't travel
and experience the freedoms available in other countries? This reminds us
of the story - probably apocryphal - of the Zimbabwean diplomat in London
who, when asked about freedom of expression in his country, said it was not
true that it didn't exist. People were completely free to denounce Tony
Blair, he said. Before we let the complacent police commissioner go, he
should be set an accountability agenda for future press conferences: Why has
Joseph Mwale not been brought to justice; why do the killers of David
Stevens and Martin Olds and his mother continue to walk free; why have the
terrorists who twice bombed the Daily News offices not been brought to
justice; why have the abductors and torturers of Mark Chavunduka and Ray
Choto not been identified despite a court order to the police to
investigate? Next time Chihuri talks about the need to carry out his
"constitutional mandate without fear or favour" he should be asked why those
criminals have been favoured by not being arrested.
SW Radio Africa jamming confirmed by BBCM Observations made on
16 March confirm the presence of deliberate jamming on all three broadcasts
made by SW Radio Africa.
The 1600gmt cast on 11845kHz was accompanied
by a continuous 1kHz tone whilst the 1700 and 1800gmt casts, on 11705 and
11995kHz respectively, were targeted by a rotary-type jammer. The
interfering signals were present only for the period of the SW Radio Africa
Source: BBC Monitoring research, 1900 gmt 16 Mar 05