|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- Former Rhodesian premier Ian Smith, who defied the world in 1965 when he declared self-rule from Britain, has been denied a new Zimbabwean passport until he renounces his British citizenship, a minister said on Wednesday.
Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo denied claims by Smith that the government had stripped him of Zimbabwean citizenship, saying the country's last white leader was free to stay in Zimbabwe pending the normalisation of his citizenship status.
"In terms of the laws of Zimbabwe, if one or both parents are born outside the country, you need to renounce your right to the citizenship of their country of birth," Nkomo told Reuters.
"I understand he has not done that yet. He can still do that, but while he is doing that he is not entitled to a Zimbabwean passport. We have not stripped him of his citizenship," Nkomo added.
Smith, whose Zimbabwean passport has expired, accused the government of President Robert Mugabe of taking away his citizenship by refusing to renew his passport.
"I just learnt yesterday (Tuesday) that my citizenship had been confiscated. It has been taken away from me. This is totally unacceptable to me. After all I was born here 83 years ago," said Smith, who turns 83 next month.
Smith said in the absence of a Zimbabwean passport, he would be making alternative arrangements to travel to Britain and the United States, where he had prior engagements, this week.
He termed the government action illegal and said he would be challenging the move in courts of law.
"In these circumstances, I believe the actions the authorities have taken are illegal. If they don't restore my citizenship, which I am entitled to my birthright here, then I will be forced to go to the court," he added.
The move to deny Smith a passport comes just over a week after controversial presidential elections in Zimbabwe, widely condemned as unfair by the opposition, many local and foreign observers and Western nations.
Smith said he supported calls for fresh elections in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe, in power since 1980, is accused of blatantly rigging the polls pitting him against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. He said the international community must help set up a transitional government.
"We are really in a state of total disarray," Smith said.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth for a year last week after the group's election observers accused Mugabe of electoral fraud.
Zimbabwe's government has dismissed the fraud accusations as being made by Western powers who want to see Mugabe ousted because he was seizing white-owned farms for distribution to landless blacks.
The Zimbabwe government ordered citizens with dual nationality to renounce their British citizenship in 1984, a measure London never recognised.
Smith endorsed main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March elections won by Mugabe.
Smith took what was then Rhodesia into white-run isolation in 1965, refusing black majority rule.
But a brutal seven-year guerrilla war led to a political settlement in 1979, which culminated in black majority independence in 1980.
Zimbabwe: Top musician, Mapfumo, slams election
allAfrica.com, 22. March 2002
By Joy Mutare and Sean Barlow
Singer, composer and bandleader, Zimbabwe's world famous musician, Thomas
Mapfumo, has a thirty-year career of prolific recording and performing in
Zimbabwe. His chimurenga songs are identified with the liberation struggle
against the white minority regime in Rhodesia of the 1970s.
Post-independence, Mapfumo's songs have addressed head-on, serious issues
such as corruption, land reform and now the conduct of the presidential
elections, much to the displeasure of President Robert Mugabe's ruling
ZANU-PF party. On March 18, one week after Zimbabwe's disputed presidential
election, Joy Mutare, a Zimbabwean radio professional living in New York
City and Afropop Worldwide Producer Sean Barlow, interviewed Mapfumo in
Oregon where he now lives with his family.
-We want to know what you think happened with the elections in Zimbabwe
Well, well, well, well, well... this is quite a sad story. You heard from
the news what happened. I don't think this was a free and fair election.
They were NOT free and fair. They were rigged from the very beginning.
-Why would you say that?
Because a lot of people did not vote. You heard from the news always that
people were being harassed. People were being beaten up in the pubs,
everywhere, in the townships. People were asked if they had ZANU-PF cards...
When I went to Zimbabwe myself (over Christmas holidays 2001) I went to see
my folks in the rural area. I met a young group of people. They started
asking about ZANU-PF membership cards. What has that got to do with the
people? What is ZANU? ZANU is not Zimbabwe.
-What do you think about us Zimabweans living abroad not being allowed to
vote? Not having an absentee ballot?
This is something. You have to fight for your rights. Everyone has the right
to vote for whomever he wants or she wants. So this is ridiculous. I mean
you are a Zimbabwean citizen. And to be denied the right to vote, I don't
think that's good enough.
-What do you think should be the first step for us Zimbabweans living
abroad? Should we go the embassies?
You should be united. You must add your voice to what happened. If you just
keep quiet... it's like what is happening today back home. A lot of people
are grumbling but that does not help. You have to go out in the street and
protest and show everyone that this was not a free and fair election. Yeah,
you really got to do that. Just by sitting at home and feeling bad does not
help at all. You have to act.
-We need leadership, and for a very long time you have been one of our
biggest leaders through your music. You have been able to fight unfairness
within the government... now the government has effectively banned some of
your music. How are we going to continue the fight when our leaders are
leaving the country?
Myself, I'm not running away from anything. I'm not even afraid for my own
life. I'm not afraid of them. Zimbabwe is still my home. I could fly there
tonight and I could be there tomorrow. No one is going to stop me. Because I
know the people are behind me. So if the people are behind me, why should I
be afraid?! I'm not afraid of anyone.
-Congratulations on your latest cassette "Chimurenga Rebel" which has sold
over 30,000 copies in two days. Is that a correct figure?
It is very true, but now the people (in Zimbabwe) have been intimidated.
Some people who had been seen buying this type of music were warned. People
are just afraid just to play the music because of the violence which is
going on there. This record should have sold more than 100,000 copies but
because of the intimidation which is going on there people are afraid to buy
the music. Because they are afraid of being victimized.
-Is the song "Marima Nzara" on "Chimurenga Rebel" a political statement?
What is it saying?
"Marima Nzara" is a song about the situation. What is happening today. The
situation has started deteriorating. People are now suffering from hunger
because there are food shortages. And a lot of things are missing in the
country. There is no foreign currency. People are suffering. I mean this is
only the beginning! If people don't realize where they are headed then they
are in deep waters. They are in deep waters.
-So "nzara" means hunger,yes?
Yeah, by fighting against the commercial farmers and harassing them, what
are we creating?! We are inviting hunger.
-So that is your stand on the land issue?
Yes. That is my stand. I'm not saying our people don't need land. Our people
need land. But it must be done in a proper manner where everyone should be
-What do you think about the fact that the international community is
telling Zimbabwe what to with their policies, as far as imposing sanctions.
Do you think they are justified or not justified?
They are justified. Because as you can see, we're saying the elections were
not free and fair. The EU monitors left the country because there was no
fairness in these elections. They were actually rigged a long, long time
ago. Before we even started talking about them, they had started rigging the
-What do you think about the support that Mugabe is getting from all... the
fact that (South African President) Thabo Mbeki is not saying anything
against what happened in Zimbabwe?
Because they are the same. Birds of a feather flock together. I'm talking
about certain African leaders who do not want to let go of the power. Those
are his (Mugabe's) friends. They act like him. You can look at people like
Moi (President of Kenya). He does not want to let go of power. He's just the
same. That country Kenya. What do you get from Kenya or Namibia? Namibia can
not feed Zimbabwe. But those European countries. They were the donors. They
were helping Zimbabwe to develop. And today we don't want to talk to them,
we don't want to see them. So who is going to help us?
-So what is the way forward?
The way forward is for every Zimbabwean to be united and fight against this
Thomas, I'm interested in what you said a while back in the interview, you
said you're a musician concerned with the events of his country, and you're
even considering yourself as a politician. Do you mean that you may be
thinking of running for a political office in Zimbabwe?
I want to work for the people of Zimbabwe. Maybe I'm not going to join any
political party, but I just want to work for the people of Zimbabwe, for
their better tomorrow, for a better Zimbabwe. That's exactly what I want to do.
-What is the song "Huni" on your new cassette "Chimurenga Rebel" about?
"Huni" is about the harassment that is going on in Zimbabwe . You can't play
around with the people. They have got the mandate and the power to choose
-Well how do we have the power if the power is seemingly being taken away
from us? If millions of people who want to vote are not allowed to vote?
You've got to find a way to fight against the system. We have to do
something. We have to be united, to find a way forward... like I said you
have to go out in the streets and protest. Show the world that this was
indeed wrong. Show the world. You have to show the world! And the outside
world cannot just sit back and look at you people suffering. They will do
something about it.
-Do you think Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC would have been the better option
than the government of Robert Mugabe?
You can never tell. You can never know what happens with these politicians.
They can say something today and tomorrow they will be speaking a different
language. You have to be very careful with a lot of these politicians. They
promise you something today and tomorrow they don't do exactly that. You
remember when Zanu-PF came into power. They were promising people lots of
things like our children having free education, free medical aid, and things
like that. Is that happening today? It's not happening. So you can't trust
the politicians. You have to trust yourself and trust the people. Trust the
people because they are the majority. Whatever they say - If the people are
satisfied with (Morgan) Tsvangirai (presidential candidate in recent
elections), give him a chance to rule... And another thing, why isn't
Tsvangirai given a chance to speak to people on the television? Or even
through the radio? Because they (Zanu-PF and the government) know that
Tsvangirai might have something that is actually going to upset them.