Poet faces jail after ridiculing
Mugabe From Michael Hartnack in Harare
A YOUNG Zimbabwean
faces a one-year prison sentence and £250 fine under draconian new
legislation for writing and reciting a poem ridiculing President
Mugabe. Sikumbuzo Dube, 25, is one of thousands of illegal Zimbabwean
migrants who have been deported from Botswana. He was being held after
repatriation last week at Plumtree Prison, on Zimbabwe’s western border, when
warders overheard him reciting a composition entitled Cry, the Beloved
This is the first case of its kind. The Public Order and
Security Act was signed into law by Mr Mugabe shortly before this month’s
presidential elections. It not only bars criticism of the 78-year-old head of
state but has empowered police to break up opposition briefings for diplomats
Prince Butshe-Dube, the Plumtree prosecutor, said the
poem triggered a furore in cells, dividing inmates into two camps: those who
enjoyed it and those who felt offended.
The title was taken from Alan
Paton’s novel set in South Africa in the 1940s, but the full text was not
disclosed in court.
Mr Dube, who was remanded in custody for trial on
April 3, told Jabulani Sibanda, the Plumtree magistrate, that he thought it
was not a serious crime to ridicule the President as newspapers printed worse
criticism than his poem and nothing was done to them.
Legislation allows Zimbabwe to nationalise mines that
stand idle Sherilee Bridge March 26 2002 at 12:03AM Johannesburg -
Mining companies that fail to keep their Zimbabwean operations in production
run the risk of being shut down and nationalised, according to that country's
mining and mineral laws.
But mining companies, savaged by an inflation
rate of 120 percent and a critical shortage of foreign exchange, said
yesterday that it was near impossible to run mines profitably.
are already surfacing that Zimbabwe's gold industry has
The latest casualty is Falcon Gold, which said
yesterday it would close three of its gold mines and fire 300
Falcon told Bloomberg that Zimbabwe's fixed foreign exchange
rate had cut profit so it could not spend money on finding new
Mine closures by global gold producers such as Australia's
Aurion Gold and Canada's First Quantum have reduced the output of Zimbabwe's
second-biggest export earner by one-third.
The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe said last month gold production had fallen by 35 percent in two
years from 27.7 tons in 1999 to 18 tons last year.
Now even those gold
producers adopting a wait-and-see attitude by putting operations on care and
maintenance could lose their investments.
Zimbabwe's mines and minerals
laws advocate the use-it-or-lose-it policies the South African government is
pursuing in the new Minerals and Petroleum Development Bill.
Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe said yesterday that mines had to be in continual
production to ensure licences were not revoked.
Dave Murangari, the chief
executive of the Zimbabwe chamber, said mining companies planning to halt
production for any extended period were compelled to inform the
"In the short term gold mine closures have been stemmed by a
support system put in place by the government to help companies break even,"
Pegged to an artificial gold price, the support system
allows gold companies to have 20 percent of their earnings paid in hard
currency rather than Zimbabwean dollars.
Murangari said 98 percent of
the country's gold production came from 10 of the largest producers; of
those, only two had shut down.
THE controversy of
over the recent presidential election in Zimbabwe is one which has opened a
political Pandora’s box of historical and contemporary relevance, especially
with regard to Africa’s historically lopsided relationship with the West and
what some analysts now point out as the West’ s double standards in giving
legitimacy to elections held in different parts of the world.
apparent North-South split in the Commonwealth’s reaction to pre-election
violence in Zimbabwe and in the international reaction to the “victory” of
Robert Mugabe in the recent election, indicate changing trends in North-South
power relations and contemporary international relations.
Prior to this
incident, the South has more or less found it more expedient to toe the line
of the Northern countries or at least offer some pacification in view of much
needed aid from the wealthier North.
However, what is emerging from the
ongoing Zimbabwe debacle is a somewhat defiant stance by some African leaders
towards the North and a kind of African solidarity reminiscent of the waves
of nationalism and Pan-Africanism that bolstered the anti-colonial
independence struggles in the Fifties and Sixties.
analysts have been at loss as to why eminent democratically elected African
leaders would come out in support of a government which is deemed to be
oppressive, repressive and highly undemocratic as that of Mugabe. However,
one of the reasons that has made a coherent explanation elusive is the
inability or refusal of some Western analysts to put these events in the
historical context which provides the backdrop to the
While the Western focus has primarily been on the
issues of the flawed presidential election and violent seizing of land from
white farmers in Zimbabwe, the African position can be located mainly in the
continuum of historical events such as colonialism, apartheid and
contemporary fears of neo-colonialism which have culminated in the present
debacle; as well as the somewhat skewed attitude of some Western governments
and the media towards issues African.
Therefore, for a wider
understanding of these issues, it is pertinent to revisit several questions
which haunt the current state of North-South relations with particular
reference to the recent suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth; obvious
double standards in measuring democracy by Western governments and the role
of the media.
The suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth was
inevitable in view of the several incidents and occurrences that clearly
highlighted the detraction of the Zimbabwean government under Mugabe from the
democratic values and principles espoused in the Commonwealth’s
The credibility of the recent presidential poll was undermined
by incidents of systematic violence and intimidation mostly against
opposition members and supporters. This clearly created an environment that
was not conducive to a free and fair election to take place. This is
unacceptable by all standards and is clearly undemocratic
What can be commended, however, are the sensible terms and
conditions of the suspension, which will not see aid towards humanitarian
relief dwindle and states that the Commonwealth will still assist in seeking
solutions to the many problems that plague the troubled country. Presidents
Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo are suspected to be the engineers behind
these less severe terms which indicate a “constructive engagement” approach,
as opposed to total isolation which usually does more harm than
As for the ordinary person in rural Zimbabwe - which is where you
will find the majority of Zimbabweans - who is asked what the suspension of
Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth means, a likely answer would be: “What wealth?
And what is so common about it?” The pressing issue for them is poverty and
not necessarily politics.
The point that needs to be highlighted here
is how we allow the media’s sensationalist antics to push international
politicking into centre stage while the lives of the needy are either
relegated to the back stage or totally ignored. Western media focus has been
more on if, or if not, Zimbabwe will be suspended from the Commonwealth, than
what can be done for the people of Zimbabwe who face harsh economic and
One-sided, selective and agenda-driven reporting and
the “demonisation” of unpopular political candidates does harm to consumers
who assume they are being supplied with balanced and objective information
and can on this basis make informed decisions. Lopsided news reporting itself
is undemocratic behaviour and undermines the credibility of the institutions
of democracy, which the free Press, otherwise known as the Fourth Estate of
democracy, is an essential component of.
A few hours before Zimbabwe
was suspended, a former Labour cabinet minister and myself participated in a
panel discussion broadcast by the BBC 2’s Westminster Live TV news programme.
Having listed the evils of Mugabe’s government and how the country should be
dealt with, he was later asked about the duplicity of the Western response in
light of the new Western partnership with the Pakistani military dictator,
General Pervez Musharraf, in the war in Afghanistan. He said: “That is
different.” The question here is if the Western view is so fundamentally
devoted to the principles of democracy, why should one country be different
from the other? Why should different standards apply? Is this duplicity
itself not undemocratic?
Musharraf did not only overthrow a
democratically elected government dangling a death penalty over the deposed
President’s head, but went as far as to test nuclear weapons breaking several
international conventions. Is this not worse than Mugabe, with all his
apparent faults? Now United States sanctions have been lifted on Musharraf’s
government, aid money has been injected and Musharraf has become the darling
of the West. Is this not a clear double standard?
Another vestige of
this duplicity is the last American presidential election, which raised much
What happened in Zimbabwe is wrong and unacceptable, but
compared with the events in Pakistan and the American election any objective
analysis will conclude that the Western standards for judging “freedom and
fairness” of elections and the legitimacy of governments are selective and
These duplicitous contradictions in Western reaction to
elections and the selective conferring of legitimacy on governments bring to
mind the Orwellian phrase in the book Animal Farm: “All animals are equal,
but some animals are more equal than others.”
* 'Dapo Oyewole is
Special Projects Officer at the Centre for Democracy and Development, London,
THE Registrar-General, Tobaiwa
Mudede, is still to publish a breakdown of the results of the Harare City
Council elections held at the same time as the presidential and mayoral
elections two weeks ago.
On Tuesday last week, Mudede only published the
names of the winning candidates, 44 of them MDC and one Zanu PF. He also
announced the number of votes polled by the winning candidates but,
strangely, did not include the figures polled by the losers.
same day, Mudede proclaimed Elias Mudzuri as the new mayor for Harare after
he polled 262 275 votes.
The figures polled by other mayoral candidates
were, out of keeping with normal practice, not published.
the RG’s office referred all questions to Mudede himself, who has since last
week not been available for comment.
An official at the Elections
Directorate of the MDC said the RG’s office had not supplied the party with
the numbers and they were still compiling the figures from the information
they received from their polling agents.
THE bright lights of
the city are mesmerising! I made a trip to the city of Harare on a courtesy
call to my relative who is recuperating from politically inflicted wounds.
The fortunate brat is at a private hospital in the city.
spending most of my time wishing my relative a speedy recovery, I also took
it upon myself to gauge the spirits of the people. I was appaled by what I
saw. I hate what I saw. I shall try to relate on all I saw in a manner it
happened, and not in a manner I would have liked it to happen.
about the people and their dire plight for a decent meal.
lights of the city could not out-shine the bleakness caused by the dire
economic state. The very fast cars in the fast lanes of the city's streets
could not fly away with the people's sorrows.
Inflation seemed to match
metre for metre the tall and imposing edifice where the country's money
people are headquartered. Even a non-rocket scientist like me could easily
conclude that for inflation to come down, someone should come down to the
reality of life from his or her lofty heights in the
The dimmest of the lights that took my heart were
somewhere in the dark alleys of the supermarkets. This, my dear countrymen,
is a reference to the long, fat, windy, noisy, dusty and dangerous queues
that are formed by desperate people in search of mealie meal. Maize meal has
now become the most elusive commodity in the country, coming only second to
the scarcity of peace.
I saw the queues. At first I thought some
miracle was about to be witnessed, hence the large number of onlookers. A
hungry looking town-fellow, uninvited and unsolicitated, felt he should
confide with me. In a manner filled with a lot of mischief, he whispered that
“it will be coming tomorrow”.
He did not elaborate what was going to come
tomorrow. In my ignorance, I asked him why then should the people jostle for
some miracle that was going to happen the next day.
The hungry fellow
was not amused by my ignorance. He hit back by asking noisily and angrily,
perhaps in a manner that was meant to incite the rest of the people against
"Asi iwe unarwo upfu? Kana une GMB yako kumba kwako usa uye kuzvo
wanzira vamwe vari pa-tight!"
The hungry fellow was angry that I was
not being sensitive to the people's plight. He actually accused me behaving
as if I had my own Grain Marketing Board at my place.
In a sense the
people in the queue were actually waiting for a miracle to happen. There is
no maize meal in the shelves, so people wish that one day a miracle will
bring back the staple food to our supermarkets.
If a mad man shouts from
a dark corner, "Upfu huri kuuya kwa Blah Blah Supermarket nhasi", sensible,
sane and very hungry Zimbabweans will give him the benefit of doubt. They
will queue up an in orderly manner and hope that the mad man knows what he is
Maybe I am mad! Who made me mad then?
I did not need to
look any further to see that there is a new war being waged in the city.
(Excuse me for not including the rural areas, but they have the land to
plough). Having been forced by the settlers to fight and easily win the war
of the land as in “hondo yeminda”, I thought that food insecurity would be a
thing of the past. I was wrong. The war continues.
Now it is the real
war. The war of food is on. Welcome countrymen to “hondo yesadza”. I can
safely say that in this war, I am a seasoned ex-combatant. I have been
through many hungry stomachs. Now whole communities face the grim future of
That is the new way of life in the city of lights. The
people of the city have to queue for maize meal days earlier. They are
required by their hunger to sleep in queues with the hope of leaving the shop
the next day with a bounty of maize meal. Police officers have to marshal the
noisy queues as they know that the situation is definitely
This is the modern city and its people. This is the modern
country and its warlords. I would like to point out that he who denies people
food is a warlord. He who lies about the availability of food is a scheming
He who misinforms the people on the country's food stocks is
mad. No sane man would see an empty granary and claim that it is full of
In my quest to get the truth, I met a partyman who was willing to
talk. I asked him if it was not folly to claim that the residents of the city
were unruly, seeing that the people acquiesced to that much
The partyman agreed that the people were very docile. He had
heard of citizens of some countries going on riots over the lack of food.
He mentioned the food riots in Zambia and reminded me that they were the
final nail in Kenneth Kaunda's political coffin.
The partyman was full
of praise for the people of the city of bright lights, fast cars and empty
stomachs. He was aware that for many years, the people have been hood-winked
into believing that food security was assured, yet a few days down the line,
food supplies disappear from supermarkets. He agreed that there was so much
insincerity from those entrusted with reigns of power.
asked me how it was where I spend most of my time. I told him straight that
in the land of bondage, people are not surprised to see acres upon acres of
I told him that in that country, there was no hurry to make
villages out of the farmlands. I also reminded him that the maize meal that
was being queued for by the people was imported from the land of
The partyman's party would rather have villages from
Harare all the way to Marondera. This, as far as the partyman's party is
concerned, would assure food security.
The visit to the city also gave
me an insight to the thinking of some partymen. I have seen the light. I now
know that inside their human hearts, most party-people know the
They know that the country's economy has collapsed. They know who
is responsible for the economic malaise. They remain where they are because
the party is looking after them.
They receive generously from the
party. They know that one day the party will not be able to provide for
Meanwhile, it is worthwhile for them to make the hay while the sun
To the party, the sun still shines brightly. To the ordinary
people of Harare, the sun burns their weary backs.
Zanu PF’s copycat campaign against terror’ wins no
3/25/02 8:27:14 AM (GMT +2)
AT NO time since 1980 have Zimbabweans lived through such a
stressful two-year period as they are now. They have been constantly nettled
by having to sift for the truth from a menu of vicious propaganda churned out
by State mandarins.
Zimbabweans have been given huge doses of
foreboding rhetoric, overshadowing other pertinent, topical issues needing
urgent attention such as an economic recovery plan, a plan for rescuing the
ailing health system and assurances of how to make the future of their
Some have learnt to massage the stress by chuckling at
obvious bids to stretch the truth beyond its trading limit, meant just to
satisfy the mandarins’ jagged appetite.
An attempt by Zimbabwe’s
governing elite to elicit sympathies from the American government by
imitating its “campaign against terror” in the presidential campaign, failed
to capture the imagination of the Zimbabwean electorate, except the most
Countless hours were used up on State television in an attempt
to equate Zimbabwe with the American experience, to portray a siege mindset.
But the terror had been directed at ordinary citizens themselves by State
The imitation has done little to hoodwink the world and the
electorate into accepting the purported state of siege by unfriendly
imperialists, which the governing Zanu PF party tried to
Neither has it swayed the American government, which has paid
back the copycats by imposing selective sanctions against 20 top politicians
for their part in refusing to restore the rule of law.
slurs though temporarily silenced the British, who saw no profit in trading
insults with an ageing 78-year-old former guerrilla leader, whose forte has
been to see no evil and hear no evil when it comes to his party’s predatory,
“When acts of terror are committed against blacks it is
not terrorism. Tell me, Mr Bush, what is your definition of terrorism?” an
exasperated President Mugabe posed the question to thousands of Harare
residents at Domboramwari, Epworth.
Recently, Mugabe has disparaged
the American president and British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, whom he
likened to a Zimbabwe prototype latrine the “Blair toilet”.
PF has been roundly disappointed by the British and American government’s
reluctance to accept his yarns on terror. “ The MDC is a murderous party,” he
told party adherents at a rally in Epworth. Mugabe’s obsession with Bush and
Blair in his election speeches left the electorate wondering whether the
contest had now shifted from the opposition MDC to one between him and some
Aided by his junior Information and Publicity
Minister, Jonathan Moyo, who can be credited with doing a sterling job in
conjuring up diversionary antics and setting the agenda for the State media
to deflect attention, Zimbabwe’s leader put on a brave face at each
The Cain Nkala incident roundly failed to arouse intended
sentiments from the electorate in Matabeleland, particularly that in
Bulawayo. This was despite a media blitz to whip up the people’s
The people in Matabeleland paid back the State by voting
overwhelmingly for the opposition, to show their disdain for being taken for
granted for too long, in the presidential election.
It is not the
first time Mugabe has tried to divert the electorate’s attention from
discussing his skewed blueprint for economic recovery, by harping on fringe
Founder and veteran Zanu leader, Ndabaningi Sithole, took an
assassin tag to his grave, courtesy of a plot hatched by State agents to
discredit him ahead of the 1995 presidential election.
accused of sponsoring Chimwenje, a partisan militia from neighbouring
Mozambique, to topple the government. In similar circumstances, Ian Smith
hauled Sithole to court from a detention centre, over an alleged
assassination plot, when he realised nationalists were upsetting his claim
that “blacks in Rhodesia were the happiest in Africa” by demanding universal
When an anthrax scare broke out in the United States weeks
after the bombing of the Trade Centre’s twin towers on September 11 last
year, Zimbabwe hastily capitalised on the plum opportunity to fashion their
A suspected anthrax attack was “detected” at Causeway Post
Office in Harare, involving two mail sorters who fell sick. It did not take
long for medical experts to disprove the political hoax.
tests carried out by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare trashed the
State-sponsored bio-terrorism stunt. The alert public was quick to notice
that while the American incidents involved members of the public who received
and opened mail addressed to them, the Zimbabwean version involved mail
sorting department workers.
“Either our mail is opened before delivery or
the whole thing smacks of fabrication,” wrote a reader to the Daily News
letters page. Undeterred by the initial setback, there was another anthrax
stunt at a Bulawayo post office, as there was yet another involving mail sent
to the editor of a State-controlled paper in the same city.
telling incident to authenticate the bio-terrorism hoax was when a Daily News
newspaper vendor was taken into police custody for allegedly delivering a
newspaper laced with anthrax spores to Vice-President Joseph Msika at his
home. The vilification campaign all started with a strategy to arouse
the nationalistic spirit among the electorate just before the June
Parliamentary election, following a referendum debacle that left the ruling
party smarting from a rare nationwide rejection.
historian, Ali Mazrui, made an important observation when describing the rule
of some post-independent African leaders in his book The African.
coined a catch-phrase to describe their type of rule: “exogenous determinism”
- commonly referred to as political scape-goating. “We have perfected the art
of blaming everyone else except ourselves for our economic, social and
political problems,” said university lecturer Dr John Makumbe during a
seminar on corruption last year.
And maverick politician, Eddison Zvobgo
could not have described Zimbabwe’s economic policy better when he said “We
have behaved as if the whole world owes us a living.”
independence, Zimbabwean problems were blamed on apartheid rule in South
Africa and the regime’s destabilisation campaign in the region, using Renamo
insurgents. Now problems stem from a recolonisation by the British, unwilling
to accept a skewed land reform programme.
At no time have Zimbabwe’s
current problems been attributed to its involvement in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, where the ruling elite is said to have considerable
And the worldwide condemnation of the way
presidential elections were conducted seems to have brought home the reality
that "hogenous determinism” does not always work.
though, could find comfort in the reassurances contained in President
Mugabe’s inaugurauration speech - there is need for Zimbabweans to close
ranks and work for the common good of the nation.
THE country’s banking sector has added its weight behind
industrialists who have pleaded that President Mugabe approach the
international community to help solve some of the economic problems
Richard Wilde, the chairman of the Commercial Bank
of Zimbabwe Limited, said the country’s economy was in a bad shape and a
turn-around was “absolutely necessary.”
Wilde is the former deputy
governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the organisation mainly responsible
for the country’s monetary policies.
Wilde said such a turn-around could
involve “diplomacy over confrontational approaches in dealing with a host of
domestic and international issues.”
He said this would be a key success
factor in “harnessing support and going forward”.
Zimbabwe has been
isolated by the international community. The country has had its balance of
payments support system suspended by organisations such as the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and it has been suspended from the
Commonwealth for a year.
Furthermore, the United States of America and
the European Union have slapped targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his
Last week, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)
also asked the government to co-operate with the international community for
The CZI said the government should take immediate action in
search of external debt relief as well as debt rescheduling.
to materialise, we expect Zimbabwe to re-establish good relations with the
donor countries and international financial institutions,” the
Wilde said the government should also address the foreign
currency crisis in the country through both domestic efforts towards growing
more exports and engaging the international financial markets and community
in a direction that drew their support for and confidence in the
He said the government should restore “personal confidence and
security in the political, social and the corporate governance of the
The chairman said the government should also strive to arrest
unemployment and accelerate economic empowerment through indigenisation as
well as addressing health and education related challenges facing
“Above all, a nationally shared vision emphasising one great
and prosperous Zimbabwe for all will go a long way towards rebuilding our
economy, healing wounds of disunity and the polarisation that has affected
this great nation,” Wilde said
THE debt-ridden Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) has gone to the market to raise $250 million to import maize in a
desperate move to avert starvation in Zimbabwe.
The GMB, the sole
importer and exporter of grain, through the First Banking Corporation and
Interfin Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe, issued grain bills guaranteed by the
The GMB has failed to import adequate stocks to feed the
nation. The government says that it has so far acquired 200 000 tonnes of
maize at a cost of US$25 million (Z$1,375 billion) to cover a deficit which
arose as a result of disruptions to farming activities and also a drop in the
country’s output in the 2000/2001 season, due to the poor rainfall
Most of the maize has been sourced from neighbouring South
Africa. The maize is, however, insufficient for the nation and there are
reports of people starving in the Hwange area.
There could be serious
under-reporting of the food crisis in Zimbabwe. In Zambia, 33 people from
only three constituencies have died so far, while in Malawi more than 300
have died due to starvation. The beleaguered Zimbabwean government has become
adept at masking anything that may portray it in a negative light.
least two people in Hwange have starved to death, while queues for maize-meal
have become the order of the day in most urban centres. The situation is no
better in the rural areas.
The GMB failed to attract farmers to grow
maize because of the low producer prices it offered.
“We are trying to
raise the funds so that we can import essential maize stocks,” a senior GMB
official said, “but grain bills have not been a better way of raising
Grain bills have been shunned by investors because they attract
high interest. The GMB has a debt worth more than $10 billion.
the years, it has failed to pay farmers for their deliveries, resulting in
farmers selling directly to the public.
Zimbabwe is facing a severe
drought that has hampered maize production and whose yet to be felt effects
will exacerbate an already desperate situation.
The Minister of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Dr Joseph Made, who is largely held
responsible for the food crisis, said maize would also be sought from Kenya,
Brazil and Argentina to beef up the country’s reserves.
Dry spell forces SA to stop further maize exports to
3/25/02 8:36:31 AM (GMT +2)
THE government will now have to source maize imports from
countries other than South Africa after Pretoria said its stocks could not
permit further exports.
Zimbabwe is facing an acute shortage of grain
and at least two people have already died of starvation in Hwange.
government says it has so far imported 200 000 tonnes of maize for
US$25 million (Z$1,375 billion) to cover a deficit resulting from
farm disturbances on most commercial farms by war veterans and supporters of
the ruling party since February 2000.
The current dry spell is said to
be behind the decision by the South African government to stop further maize
On Tuesday, South Africa also turned down an appeal from
Swaziland to export maize to the kingdom, which is in the same predicament as
Nana Zenani, the official spokesperson for the South African
Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs, said Zimbabwe might have to import
from individual businesses.
“We have to first see if the quantities we
are left with are enough for our needs after that we will be in a position to
tell how much we can export,” Zenani said.
“Moreover, we answer to
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) if we can export to Zimbabwe.
We do not just resume exports as a government, we will resume depending on
what the Sadc will have ordered us to do.”
Ironically, Zimbabwe has the
responsibility for food security in Sadc. Contacted for comment, Dr Joseph
Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement, said: “I do not
want to be abused. Do your usual thing. There is nothing I can do for you.
The minister then switched off his mobile phone.
year, Made on several occassions, including in Parliament, claimed
the country had enough maize stocks and would never import maize.
minister was responding on why he had not started importing maize when the
Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) was almost depleted.
The Ministry of
Finance and Economic Development is reported to have already begun requesting
quotations for maize supplies from Brazil.
“It is going to be tough for
us to compete for suppliers in Brazil because South Africa is also eyeing the
same country,” a Treasury official said.
“Given our financial position we
can go in the same hunting ground with South Africa. The drought in the
region has left us with no choice.”
On Thursday, Made told journalists
that Zimbabwe was now looking at importing maize from Kenya, Brazil and
He did not give reasons why South Africa was missing from the
supply list - yet it has been the major supplier of both maize and maize meal
to Zimbabwe, its largest trading partner.
NINE and 10 March 2002 go down in
Zimbabwean history as the days that heralded the most controversial election
in the history of southern Africa.
The same days go down in Zimbabwean
history as days that failed to have a significant meaning to a lot of
Zimbabwean citizens who sought the ushering-in of a new democratic
The end result did not please many and indicated greatly a point
that we had stated categorically in previous articles: that the election was
bound to be a technical one decided by sheer numbers of votes cast for or
against. The bigger picture of the painful struggle for democracy was lost to
this technical point and, sadly, Zimbabwe now awaits, as it did prior to
the election, steps by the international community.
And in the thick
of this action and anticipation, one can only speculate as to where Zimbabwe
is headed in light of its own domestic political and economic situation. It
will suffice to add that this speculation is of the utmost importance in
trying to create options for the Zimbabwean people as they trudge along the
all-too-familiar path of a one-party state system that shows itself
relentless in its quest for power.
To begin with, the presidential
election left a lot of urban citizens traumatised by the obvious impunity
with which the Election Directorate refused them their right to vote, whether
in the high-density areas of Harare and Chitungwiza, where queues were too
long to keep all potential voters patient with the process, or in the rural
areas, where literate men and women were compelled by ruling party supporters
to vote for the ruling party on the false assertion that they could not read
and, therefore, needed to be accompanied into the polling booth.
electoral system by itself, without taking consideration of who eventually
won the election, became fairly meaningless to the Zimbabwean voter by the
second day of polling. In essence, therefore, Zimbabweans learnt that
elections were not a fair option in order to express their opinions and
choose a new leader unless the electoral process was literally free and fair
to the letter of a democratic Electoral Act.
Zimbabweans were reduced to
a serious feeling of powerlessness against the ruling regime. Whether they be
urban-based or in the rural lands, the same feeling of having been outdone
once again by the ruling Zanu PF left a strong feeling of anger in the urban
voter and a serious feeling of resignation in the rural voter.
of these sentiments, however, could not be translated into
anything political, primarily because there was no clear course of action on
the part of the opposition in the event of an electoral loss, and also
because too much emphasis had been placed on the election itself at the
expense of other broader democratic struggles such as that for a new
constitution or that of democratic electoral laws. The election to many had
been the biblical River Jordan and, as always, the euphoric optimism on the
possibility of a change of government clouded the serious possibility of
defeat at the hands of an unfair electoral system.
As expected, the
reaction of the opposition to the unfair electoral defeat was one of obvious
disappointment and anger at the unevenness of the political playing field.
The opposition, in our view, did not quite come to grips with the political
precedent that was set by the Zambian presidential election for the
sub-region that incumbent regimes can retain power and be recognised in the
sub-region over and above what the Western countries say.
In this sense,
the opposition would have learnt to keep a plan of non-violent mass action at
the ready in the event that a victory is snatched from them. This plan would
have of necessity been built up before the election and prepared the voter
for any action to be taken after the election.
reacted in a fairly non-committal manner about the election. There was
limited activity in terms of mobilisation around the non-partisan theme of
the need for a free and fair election.
Coalitions of civic society
organisations tended to place too much emphasis on lobbying the international
community as opposed to taking the government head-on. The Southern African
Development Community Parliamentary Forum observer team and the Commonwealth
observer mission were more honest than others in their assessment of the
election as not meeting the standard prerequisites for it to be declared
unequivocally free and fair.
The other groups from Africa, however,
pronounced the election either as “legitimate” or as “transparent”. These
latter positions are indicative of the general attitude that Africa has
toward the Zimbabwean crisis: that of an anti-neo-colonial struggle that is
under siege from Western interests.
The short-term effect of this is to
legitimise regimes that are dictatorial in nature in the name of
Pan-Africanism at the expense of the expression of people’s will. It further
aggravates the confidence of the Zimbabwean people in international
organisations that claim to speak on behalf of the
What then become the options of Zimbabwe in the
polarised dispensation that has been ushered in by the
Firstly and primarily, it would have been preferable if the
possibility of a government of national unity had been accepted by both the
MDC and the ruling Zanu PF. But since both have openly ruled it out for fear
of legitimising each other, it is imperative that national focus and
consensus be exemplified in the Parliament of Zimbabwe when it next resumes
Admittedly, the probability of this coming into fruition is
extremely low, but it should be a start for the two parties. What is,
however, self-evident is that this impasse cannot continue indefinitely. If
there can be no consensus, then we say without hesitation that there must
clearly be a winner out of this conflict.
In order to guarantee that
the people do not end up the losers of this very real conflict between the
two parties, the initiative must come from civic society in the form of the
drive for a new constitution. This will not repeat the events of the 2000
constitutional reform process that ended up in a shock defeat for Zanu PF.
This level of the struggle for democracy will serve to consolidate the
strides made so far by the Zimbabwean people in seeking to achieve their goal
of a democratic Zimbabwe.
Naturally this struggle will need to have a
multi-facet but coherent political presence in the country and once this is
achieved the people will be able to challenge the ruling party ideologically
(revolutionary thought) as well as on the political terrain
A regime bent on violence, corruption won’t get
3/25/02 12:35:21 PM (GMT +2)
THE statistics are not
encouraging. Although the fight against poverty has been long and arduous,
that scourge is still with us today: some 1,2 billion people still live in
extreme poverty in the world, many Zimbabweans being among these.
many people still live in obscene opulence would not be an
appropriate subject for a conference. It might be criticised as an attack on
Yet most of the countries that have overcome
poverty have deliberately promoted personal initiative among their
They have made this possible by putting in place the mechanisms
that have always made free enterprise so rewarding.
They have not, as
has happened in many African countries, favoured only those entrepreneurs
with the politically correct affiliations.
To some extent, the Zimbabwean
political system has been burdened with that impediment as well, and Zanu PF
has been extremely guilty of this offence.
But poverty is a good subject
to bring together heads of state from all over the world, as they did at last
week’s conference in Monterrey, Mexico.
By the end of the talks last
Friday, both the United States and the European Union had promised to give
billions of dollars more to alleviate world poverty.
conferences in the past have ended on an equally high note.
Yet as far as
Africa is concerned, the poverty seems to be increasing, according to some
statistics. The continent remains the poorest on the globe.
be another conference on poverty next August in Johannesburg, organised, like
the Monterrey one, by the United Nations.
At that one, the UN
Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, hopes to lay out the specific programme
required to achieve the goals set out in Mexico, such as reducing the number
of people living on less than a US$1 (Z$55 at the official rate or Z$350 on
the parallel market) a day.
In Monterrey, President George W Bush of the
United States linked aid to good governance.
He was told that an end
to poverty around the world could reduce terrorism such as the one which
resulted in the outrage in New York and Washington on 11 September last
Clearly, world poverty has to be tackled with the full knowledge
that unless a country governs its people with fairness, it cannot expect to
attract much help to reduce poverty.
Unless a country can ensure that
whatever money it is given is used for the specific purpose for which it was
intended by the donor, then it should not complain when aid is cut
Like many other African countries, Zimbabwe has not always
behaved responsibly with other people’s money, particularly for poverty
There has been an arrogance which has displeased many donor
Moreover, the country’s rating on corruption has not endeared
it to donors. Corruption in high places has been so high many rich countries
have balked at giving aid to Zimbabwe.
But today we have hit
The conduct of the presidential election has been so
overwhelmingly condemned as a travesty of fairness and justice that the few
friends who had stuck with us after the killings of the 2000 election
campaign have decided they have had enough.
What is good governance if
it does not promote the good health of the people, the freedom to move in
their own country, the freedom to belong to a political party of their
choice, the freedom to get a job of their choice, the freedom to three square
meals a day, to a good education?
What is good governance if it prevents
people from freely choosing their own president?
On its present record
of violence against its own people, the government of President Mugabe is
unlikely to find too many countries willing to help it end poverty among its
As long as the killings continue, no conference on poverty is
likely to help a regime so committed to violence.
THOUSANDS of MDC
supporters, including two MDC Members of Parliament in Manicaland province,
have fled their respective constituencies amid allegations of death threats,
harassment and post-election violence by suspected war veterans, Zanu PF
youths and the police.
Evelyn Masaiti, the MP for Mutasa, and Leonard
Chirovamhangu, the MP for Nyanga, were some of about 17 000 MDC members who
were displaced immediately after the presidential election result was
Similar reports of a reign of terror have been received from
around the country.
Speaking from a safe house outside the province,
Masaiti said: “I ran away from my constituency because I was receiving
constant death threats over the phone from people who claimed to be Zanu PF
activists and policemen.
“I also received reports that the police were
looking for me. I don’t know why. I decided to disappear because of the
threats. It’s now difficult for me to communicate with people in my
Efforts to get a comment from Chirovamhangu were fruitless
Two days before the presidential poll began, Masaiti was
severely assaulted by soldiers at Ruda Police Station near Hauna growth point
in Honde Valley.
She was there to investigate a case in which 10 MDC
polling agents were arrested under unclear circumstances.
she was kicked all over her body, slapped in the face and struck on the neck
with a rifle butt.
She sustained a stiff neck and bruises to her
“Because of the nature of the injuries I sustained, I was unable to
turn my head for a week. As a result, I failed to monitor the election
However, on the day of counting I was present at the command
centre because that is where rigging is highly
Post-election violence has rocked the province since the
announcement of the poll results on 13 March.
In Chipinge South, 35
MDC polling agents are staying under the Save Bridge after they were
displaced by violence allegedly being perpetrated by Zanu PF youths and the
Six teachers and two businessmen were severely assaulted
by Zanu PF youths after they were accused of being sympathetic to the MDC,
whose presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai lost the vote to President
TsvangiraI has refused to accept the result, which has also
been internationally rejected as having been unacceptably flawed.
HARDLY a fortnight after the National
Alliance for Good Governance (NAGG) lost dismally in the presidential
election, the party’s disgruntled executive members have formed a splinter
party known as NAGG Democratic Front.
Members of the breakaway group
alleged in a statement yesterday that they could no longer work with their
leader, Shakespeare Maya, because he “is operating as an appendage of Zanu
The statement reads in part: “Maya has personalised the party,
preferring to plan and work only with relatives and company employees. NAGG
has become a briefcase political party.”
Maya, however, dismissed the
allegations, saying the disgruntled members were just fortune-seekers with an
agenda to make money and not to serve the interests of Zimbabwe.
said: “These are just people looking for money and I have no hard feelings
with the formation of the new party.
“They should explain new policies
instead of attacking me personally. I would really be happy if they come up
with new policies that will benefit the people of Zimbabwe. I believe
everyone has a democratic right to form as many political parties as they
Maya dismissed as false allegations that he was an extension of
Maya’s party polled 11 000 votes, the least number of any
candidate, during the presidential ballot.
About 10 MDC youths guarding the party’s
Harvest House headquarters in Harare’s Nelson Mandela Avenue were arrested on
MDC information officer, Percy Makombe, yesterday said the youths
were still in police custody at the Harare Central Police Station but had not
yet been charged.
He dismissed a statement by Wayne Bvudzijena, the
police spokesman, to the State-controlled Herald newspaper on Friday that the
youths were probably arrested for violence and criminal cases perpetrated
over the last few months.
Makombe said: “They were just
indiscriminately arrested and thrown into police trucks.”
He said the
party was arranging for a lawyer to represent them.
NELSON Chamisa, the MDC national youth
chairman, yesterday said his party fully supported the resolution passed by
the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) to stage a series of peaceful mass
demonstrations next month in protest against the government’s abuse of the
constitution to manipulate the electoral process in favour of Zanu
Chamisa said it was clear that President Mugabe was enjoying a stolen
term of office, while his supporters had embarked on a massive
retribution campaign against perceived MDC supporters throughout the
“We cannot accept a situation where Mugabe and his people
continue to harass our MPs and ordinary people in rural areas. The homes of
our Honourable MPs have been turned into refugee camps for displaced people,”
Chamisa said thousands of people from all over the country
had been displaced by Zanu PF hooligans in the aftermath of the
presidential election. The displaced people were now refugees at all the
offices of the MDC.
He said the MDC would mobilise its supporters to
rally behind the NCA’s call for mass demonstrations.
“We fully support
the NCA agenda to redress the flawed Constitution because we see this as a
way of permanently addressing the problems in this country,” said
Chamisa said Mugabe’s government no longer had any fresh ideas
to run the country, hence the deliberate onslaught against MDC
“If Mugabe’s victory was genuine, why should his supporters
continue to beat up people?” asked Chamisa.
His statement came as Zanu
PF supporters went on the rampage in Mbare, Budiriro, Highfield and
Chitungwiza, where they severely assaulted MDC supporters.
ZANU PF supporters operating torture camps in Muzarabani last
week burnt down several houses belonging to MDC polling agents and
supporters, for allegedly supporting and voting for Morgan Tsvangirai, the
party’s president, in the recent election controversially won by President
Biggie Chigonera, the MDC vice-chairman for Mashonaland Central
said on Thursday last week, nine houses were burnt down in Mudoka, Machingura
and Mahwenda villages by Zanu PF and war veterans at some bases in the
“Some of the youths who are doing this are camped at Utete Primary
School. We are told that they have refused to leave the base until they get
paid for their role during the campaign,” Chigonera said.
He said most
victims reported the incidents to Muzarabani Police Station but have since
fled to Bindura, Mvurwi and Harare after the police failed to protect them
and arrest the suspects.
“They told me that the police said they have not
received instructions from their superiors to arrest Zanu PF supporters,”
The officer-in-charge of Muzarabani Police Station, who
identified himself as Sergeant Jajada, confirmed the incidents but refused to
Jajada said: “You should get clearance from our
headquarters in Harare for that information. Tell them that I have asked you
to do so.”
The police have been accused by the MDC of failing to deal
with Zanu PF supporters involved in violence mostly in the rural areas before
and after the presidential election.
The ruling party functionaries
have set up illegal bases which they use to abduct and torture their
So far six people have been killed in post-election violence
targeted at MDC supporters.
Mugabe and his security ministers have so
far not commented publicly on the violence
The Commonwealth's decision to
suspend Zimbabwe for 12 months and to provide assistance to the country laid
the basis for it to extricate itself from the political and economic crisis
it confronted, President Thabo Mbeki says.
In a letter published in the
latest issue of the African National Congress' online newsletter ANC Today
and entitled "Chance for Zimbabwe to turn over a new leaf", Mbeki also
stressed the need for SA to learn from the experiences of
"At the same time, we have to continue to strive to ensure that
the negative consequences of such mistakes do not spill over to any of the
countries of our region, including ourselves.
"Our approach to any
adverse matter that might arise in Zimbabwe must ensure that we do not
encourage the emergence of similar adverse responses in our countries, " he
Mbeki said the evolution of the situation in Zimbabwe held
important lessons for SA. "These relate, among others, to the challenges of
building a non-racial society and issues of social transformation. The fact
that Zimbabwe has been independent for 22 years points both to the fact
that these are not easy matters to deal with ," he said.
Commonwealth committee consisting of Mbeki, Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo and Australian Prime Minister John Howard decided, in
addition to suspension, to support Zimbabwe in its process of
reconciliation, facilitated by SA and Nigeria, and to help it improve its
THE National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) has resolved to stage a series of peaceful mass demonstrations
next month in protest against the government’s abuse of the Constitution in
order to rig the recent presidential election and to demand the introduction
of a new constitution.
In an interview yesterday, Lovemore Madhuku, the
NCA chairman, said a meeting attended by all the 25 members of the
organisation’s task force and four representatives from each of the 10
provinces had resolved to stage the first demonstration nationwide on 6
April. This will give its members ample notice.
“Our meeting agreed to
hold the first demonstration on 6 April and another one seven days later. We
might stage more demonstrations, depending on the circumstances. We are going
to notify the police, as is required by law, and it will be up to them to
sanction it or not.
But the peaceful demonstration will definitely go
ahead,” said Madhuku. Asked if he was not afraid of possible arrest by the
police, Madhuku, a constitutional law expert and lecturer at the University
of Zimbabwe, said the NCA was aware that the government might invoke the
repressive and controversial Public and Order Security Act (POSA) to arrest
the demonstrators, but that would not deter its members.
clear that POSA will apply but it will not stop the people of Zimbabwe from
demanding their constitutional rights. We must stress that the government has
refused to accept our draft constitution but continues to use a flawed
constitution to oppress the masses. We will simply not have it,”
On 15 February, an NCA march through the streets of Harare
calling for a new constitution before the presidential election, was broken
up by riot police under POSA. Several NCA members were arrested.
NCA has listed 10 ways in which it says the constitution was manipulated by
the government to ensure a Zanu PF victory in the presidential
In a statement, the NCA said it was convinced that the will of
the people of Zimbabwe was subverted because of the defective nature of the
The 10 ways in which the constitution was
manipulated include voter registration, which the NCA says was not
transparent, the arbitrary use of presidential powers to legalise the
Supplementary Voters’ Roll, which was “a mere list of Zanu PF supporters” and
the draconian POSA, which was used to ban campaign meetings of the opposition
The NCA also lists the lack of access to some areas by the
opposition during the election, due to Zanu PF-sponsored violence, and the
abuse of the public media, especially the electronic media, to churn out only
Zanu PF propaganda, as other ways in which the constitution was manipulated
by the government.
“The Registrar-General, a Zanu PF official and
appointee of the President, deliberately designated polling stations in a way
that favoured the ruling party. Ridiculously few polling stations were
designated for opposition strong-holds like Harare and Chitungwiza, while
more polling stations were designated for rural areas,” the NCA
It also said President Mugabe used his powers to override court
orders and to declare tripartite elections in Harare and dual elections
in Chitungwiza, so as to make the voting process longer in order to
frustrate the voters.
In the process, thousands of voters were
disenfranchised as polling stations were closed before they could
The NCA also cited the abuse of presidential powers to
reinstate undemocratic provisions of the nullified General Laws Amendment Act
that favoured Zanu PF. Postal voting was open only to soldiers, policemen
and government officials on diplomatic missions.
“The deliberate poor
accreditation of local observers was done by the Electoral Supervisory
Commission, whose chairperson is a presidential appointee, to facilitate
rigging. The elections were also conducted, monitored and supervised by civil
servants, whose master is the president and who was one of the contestants in
the election,” the NCA said.
THE Media Ethics Committee has finished compiling its report
on journalism in the country and is expected to present its findings to the
Government this week.
Chaired by Harare Polyte-chnic's Department of
Mass Communication head Dr Tafataona Mahoso, the committee was set up in July
last year by the Department of State for Information and Publicity to
formally look into professionalism in the local media.
Information and Publicity, Mr George Charamba, yesterday confirmed that the
committee had indicated to the department that it had finished compiling its
"We met with the committee on Friday and they said they are ready
to present their findings to the Minister of State for Information and
Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo," Mr Charamba said.
presentation of the report is expected on Thursday.
Other members of the
committee included legal practitioners Mr M. G. Ndiweni and Ms Nyaradzo
Priscilla Muna-ngati, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president Matthew Takaona
and the president of the National Association of Freelance Journalists,
They were tasked to determine the level of
professionalism and ethical awareness in the media during news gathering,
news processing and news presentation, paying particular attention to skills,
news values and level of advocacy.
The Media Ethics Committee was also
tasked with evaluating the news supply chain and implication to the
development and communication of national opinion and viewpoint, copy
integrity and copyright and to costs and profitability of newspaper
Its terms of reference involved establishing relationships with
news sources or subjects, fairness and respect for the public, market
pressures and their impact on the integrity of journalism, paying particular
attention to "advertorial" power, ownership and funding.
committee also looked into politics and polarisation within the media
industry and any other matters relevant to the development of a sound media
During their outreach programme, the committee went around the
country interviewing various stakeholders in the media, including media
owners, journalists and the public.
It is understood that the
committee's report would pave the way for the establishment of a Media and
Information Commission that would regulate operations of the profession as
required by law.
President Mugabe recently signed the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act that stipulates, among other
things, the setting up of a commission to regulate the media.