By Thelma Chikwanha, Staff Writer
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 08:38
HARARE - Zimbabwe’s partisan securocrats, the real power behind President
Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, have allegedly taken steps to have a greater say
in the floundering Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiations.
This information came to light yesterday as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
MDC was said to be meeting to discuss the involvement of the security
structures in the GPA negotiations and how to handle the situation.
Sources in the military claimed that securocrats were so bewildered by both
the pace of change in the country since the formation of the inclusive
government and the positions being agreed to by Zanu PF GPA negotiators that
the top brass of the military were now reserving the right to veto all
decisions that they did not like, even if these decisions had been agreed to
by all GPA negotiators.
“The chefs (top brass of the police and military) are frightened by the pace
of change in the country and how easily Zanu PF negotiators are being pushed
into positions that disadvantage Zanu PF.
“They are now demanding that they have the final say on what is adopted by
the GPA principals, and they are getting their way with President Mugabe.
They no longer have any confidence in (justice minister Patrick) Chinamasa
because he is agreeing to the powers of the military being usurped.
“This uneasiness is also the reason why (defence minister Emmerson)
Mnangagwa is currently acting as if he is foreign minister ahead of the
crucial Sadc extraordinary summit planned for this weekend in Windhoek
(Namibia),” the source said.
Mnangagwa, by far Mugabe’s most trusted lieutenant despite being linked to
the Tsholotsho Declaration which was allegedly organised by serial political
flip-flopper Jonathan Moyo and others to oust the octogenarian leader from
power six years ago, spent most of last week on a regional diplomatic charm
offensive ahead of the Sadc meeting.
Among others, Mnangagwa met Angolan Vice President Fernando da Piedade Dias
dos Santos in Luanda to deliver a special message from Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Speaking after the meeting, Mnangagwa was quoted saying Zimbabwe was
peaceful – claiming further that Mugabe had “very good” working relations
But contacted for comment yesterday, Mnangagwa dismissed the allegations
that the securocrats were giving orders to Zanu PF negotiators.
“It is nonsense. The security chiefs are not involved in any talks. The GPA
is a civil issue which the security forces cannot get involved in. People in
the press create issues which they want to become real,” Mnangagwa said.
Negotiator for the smaller faction of the MDC Priscilla
Misihairambwi-Mushonga said although the securocrats did not sit on the
negotiating table, they were an important stakeholder in the process.
“We should look at what the role of security forces should be in peace
building. Determining how engagement is going to take place in the process
is the million dollar question. What could be dangerous is if all of us
begin to speak about them in a fearful language,” she said.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo to comment on the issue, saying: “Go and
ask them (securocrats and negotiators”.
Meanwhile, there is confusion around whether the Namibia Sadc meeting will
go ahead this weekend as planned, even though Foreign Affairs officials said
last night that the meeting was still on.
If the extraordinary summit on the Zimbabwe crisis goes ahead, it will look
to consolidate the positions taken by its troika team on politics and
defence – in a desperate quest to end the anarchy in Harare.
Specifically, South Africa is expected to push for the implementation of all
outstanding issues specified in the GPA, ahead of a much-anticipated
national election to be held either next year or in 2013.
However, analysts expect Mugabe and Zanu PF to fight to win back their
favoured position in the region as indicated by Mnangagwa’s visit to
Angola – a duty that would ordinarily fall on the foreign ministry.
“It is not a coincidence that Mnangagwa is shuttling from one country to the
next in the region. It is because he wants to warn all Zanu PF’s friends
that they are under siege from the South Africans in particular.
“Crucially too, he wants to send the powerful message that the military won’t
accept regime change (Zanu PF euphemism for the removal of Mugabe and the
party from power) in Zimbabwe,” our source in the military said.
Although GPA negotiators have agreed that credible elections could only be
held as from next year only, Mugabe and Zanu PF – backed by the military –
have insisted that the ballot will be held later this year.
(AP) – 7 hours ago
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The failing health of Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe could jeopardize efforts to resolve his nation's political crisis,
South Africa's ruling party said Tuesday.
Mugabe, 87, has traveled to Singapore five times since December to undergo
medical treatment there.
The African National Congress, which serves as the chief mediator on
Zimbabwe, said in an official newsletter that its mediators reported
concerns that "should Mugabe die or retire" before constitutional reforms
are complete, rivalry over his succession could delay elections meant to end
the nation's troubled two-year coalition.
Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, has said
despite his age, he is fit to govern. He called for elections this year, but
regional mediators say that would be too early for free and fair polling.
The ANC said progress was made in recent negotiations over outstanding
disputes between Mugabe's party and the former opposition party, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. A power sharing
deal between the two parties was brokered by the Southern African
Development Community after disputed, violent elections in 2008.
But the timing for the adoption of a new constitution ahead of elections has
remained an obstacle, the ANC said.
A referendum on constitutional reform is slated for September. Tsvangirai
insists fresh polls cannot be held before May 2012 at the earliest.
It was not clear Tuesday if a regional summit on Zimbabwe will go ahead as
planned Friday in Namibia's capital, Windhoek.
The South African foreign ministry said Tuesday its officials were waiting
for the date to be confirmed.
The Windhoek meeting was not on the routine weekly schedule for South
African President Jacob Zuma who heads regional mediation efforts. But
Mugabe's office said it received an invitation to go to Windhoek on Friday.
At the last regional summit in Zambia in March, Mugabe and his party
received a stern rebuke over the slow pace of reforms in Zimbabwe and
continuing political violence.
A frail Mugabe was transported around that summit venue in an electric golf
The state media loyal to Mugabe on Tuesday quoted George Charamba, Mugabe's
spokesman, saying Tsvangirai misled the regional bloc by alleging Mugabe was
incapacitated and unable to hold office and that a "silent coup" had taken
place, leaving generals and security chiefs in charge of the country.
Tsvangirai and Western nations intended to turn the regional grouping
against Zimbabwe and divide its leaders, Charamba said.
"Our objective ... is to ensure that the correct and accurate situation in
Zimbabwe is communicated" to regional leaders, he said.
GLENDA DANIELS - May 17 2011 20:18
The Mail & Guardian's efforts to gain access to a report on Zimbabwe's 2002
presidential election reached the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.
The report was commissioned in 2002 by then-president Thabo Mbeki, who
requested that justices Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Kampepe undertake a
mission to Zimbabwe to investigate that country's "constitutional and legal
challenges" prior to the 2002 election.
Allegations of vote-rigging and reports of violence and intimidation marred
the elections, which President Robert Mugabe won.
The Mail & Guardian has argued in both the high court (2008) and the Supreme
Court of Appeal (December 2010) that widespread reports of electoral
irregularities made the report commissioned by Mbeki of vital public
interest, and that it should be released in terms of the Promotion of Access
to Information Act (Paia).
The newspaper argues that, although several years had passed since the
election, the report might provide information about whether the elections
were free and fair, as South Africa at the time declared they were. This had
a bearing on both the legitimacy of Mugabe's presidency and the 2011
Zimbabwe presidential elections.
Opposing the Mail & Guardian, the Presidency has argued that Moseneke and
Khampepe had gone to Zimbabwe as diplomats and were received as such and
that diplomacy allowed for information to be exchanged "in confidence".
The Presidency is challenging in the Constitutional Court the appeal court's
December 2010 ruling that there was no factual evidence that the judges were
acting as diplomats; a role not in keeping with the independence of the
judiciary and the seperation of powers.
Arguments were heard from senior counsel Jeremy Gauntlet for the Mail &
Guardian, and Marumo Moerane for the Presidency.
The judges who heard the matter included Chris Jafta, Edwin Cameron, Johann
van der Westhuizen, Sandile Ncobo, Bess Nkabinde, Johan Froneman and Mogoeng
Justices Kampepe and Moseneke, who compiled the Zimbabwe report for Mbeki,
The Presidency's insistence that the report ought not to be released rests
on several arguments.
The first is that it was a "Cabinet report", and so not within the ambit of
the Promotion of Access of Information Act.
Second, it argued that it should not be released in order to uphold the
neutrality of the presidents of South Africa who have been engaged in
mediating between the opposing parties in Zimbabwe's turbulent political
climate, and that the judges were the president's "special envoys" in this
Third, the Presidency maintained that the judges' mission was a diplomatic
mission and that information gleaned during such activities, and received in
confidence, should therefore remain classified.
Fourth, it argued that the report was being used by the president in the
formulation of executive policy.
In terms of Paia, it is up to the party declining to make requested
information available to supply proof as to why a particular record should
not be released.
For the Presidency, Moerane submitted that the "burden of proof had been
Moerane argued that to disclose the report would be to reveal information
that was supplied in confidence and that the purpose of the report was to
assist in formulating policy.
The purpose of the visit was vigorously interrogated by the bench.
While it is common cause that the two judges who went to Zimbabwe were on a
presidential mission, Chief Justice Ncobo noted: "What is at issue is
whether that report was for the purposes of formulating policy."
Moerane said the two judges who compiled the report were special envoys
whose function was to inform then president Thabo Mbeki about constitutional
and legal challenges in Zimbabwe. The presidency was therefore not obliged
to release the report.
However, Gauntlett said: "They went as judges, they are judges. They could
never stop for a moment to be judges."
He argued that the judges could not have gone as "special envoys" on a
diplomatic mission nor been the "embodiment of the president", as this would
have had serious implications for the separation of powers.
The bottom line, Gauntlett argued for the Mail & Guardian, was that the
Presidency had put in the public domain no detailed evidence to prove that
the report ought to remain confidential.
Judgment was reserved, as the bench adjourned to consider the arguments
presented. -- Additional reporting by Sapa
Harare, May 17, 2011 - Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform programme is set
to take centre stage in the upcoming Southern African Development Community
(SADC) special summit on Zimbabwe to be held on Friday, a SADC official has
told Radio VOP.
The summit to take place in Namibia will discuss Zimbabwe's land reform
programme and a report prepared by the sub-region's Justice Ministers and
Attorney Generals when they met in Swakopmund, Namibia last month.
“A report on the operations of the court and the issues around the land
reform in Zimbabwe that were handled by the court will be discussed,”
Charles Mkandawire, the SADC Tribunal Registrar told Radio VOP from
Mkandawire added that, “the report will be tabled by the Namibian Minister
of Justice who is the chair of the committee which came up with the report.”
Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the state media on Monday
that the committee of Ministers and AGs had acknowledged that the regional
court was improperly constituted and its decisions were null and void.
The report is yet to be presented before SADC leaders who will have a final
say on the future of the regional court.
The Windhoek-based court which has issued various judgments in favour of
displaced white commercial farmers was put under review last year after
complaints from the Zimbabwean government that it was not properly
constituted and its operations were usurping powers of national
The tribunal has not been entertaining any cases from the region during the
time that the committee of Ministers and Attorney Generals has been
reviewing its operations. The Tribunal has been a thorn in the flesh of
President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party after it ruled in November
2008 that the controversial land reform programme was discriminatory, racist
and illegal under the SADC Treaty.
The regional court ordered the Zimbabwe government not to seize land from
the 79 farmers who had appealed to the Namibia-based court and said Harare
must compensate those it had already evicted from their farms.
State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi met on Saturday with Mozambican
President Armando Guebuza, a member of the SADC troika on politics, defense
and security which in an April session in Livingstone, Zambia, admonished
Mr. Mugabe to curtail political violence and urged him to institute
democratic reform at top speed
Ntungamili Nkomo | Washington DC 16 May 2011
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has launched a major diplomatic offensive
ahead of a summit on Friday of the Southern African Development Community
that will focus on the situation in his country and prospective new
elections, sources said Monday.
State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi met on Saturday with Mozambican
President Armando Guebuza, a member of the SADC troika on politics, defense
and security which in an April session in Livingstone, Zambia, admonished
Mr. Mugabe to curtail political violence and urged him to institute
democratic reform at top speed.
Sekeramayi told journalists he briefed Mr. Guebuza on the political
situation in Zimbabwe which he characterized in those discussions as
Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangangwa was in Luanda, Angola, where he met
with Vice President Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos.
Vice President John Nkomo met with the President of Botswana, Ian Khama, one
of Mr. Mugabe’s fiercest high-level critics in the region.
All the envoys delivered the same message: that Zimbabwe is enjoying
relative peace despite persistent reports of political violence.
Observers said Mr. Mugabe hopes to prevent SADC from echoing the findings
and recommendations of the SADC troika’s tough communiqué last month.
Negotiator Moses Mzila Ndlovu of the Movement for Democratic Change
formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said he expects SADC to keep
pressure on Mr. Mugabe, whose ZANU-PF politburo last week called for
elections this year.
SADC officials including South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in
Harare for the regional grouping, have strongly recommended putting off
presidential, general and local elections until 2012 at least so that
much-needed reforms may be put in place.
Commenting, political analyst Effie Dlela Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter
Ntungamili Nkomo that ZANU-PF through its regional diplomatic offensive
seeks to divide SADC leaders - but added he does not believe it will succeed
in doing so.
Peta Thornycroft | Harare May 17, 2011
Zimbabwe's main political parties are at odds again, this time over the
process of transferring public opinion into 17 clauses of the proposed new
constitution. About a million people attended some 5,000 public meetings
last year, and President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party says its supporters’
views dominated this outreach program and should therefore determine the
content of the new charter.
A last-minute compromise between ZANU-PF and MDC was negotiated last week so
that both the quantity and quality of views expressed at the outreach
program will be represented in the new constitution.
Crispen Mutungwazi, a supporter of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
Movement for Democratic Change, the largest political party in Zimbabwe,
said the constitution is for all the people of Zimbabwe, not just ZANU-PF,
even if more of its supporters contributed to the public outreach program
“As MDC we are a democratic party," said Mutungwazi. "The constitution is
supposed to represent the wishes of the people not of a particular party,
whether your view is ZANU-PF and whether your view is MDC.”
He said he hoped the new charter would represent the people’s views, from
both MDC and ZANU-PF, and the constitutional clauses, such as a bill of
rights, would not end up "being hammered out at the negotiating table.”
Paul Mangwana, ZANU-PF’s co-chairperson of the parliamentary committee which
has run the constitution-making process, said ZANU-PF prepared carefully for
the public outreach program to be sure the party’s views dominated the
“ZANU-PF thoroughly planned for the outreach, we started by crafting a
document of their views, and the views they hold dear, this they
disseminated to their structures engaged in pre-outreach meetings where
people understood the views of the party,” said Mangwana.
The MDC co-chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora, who is also a legislator in the
27-month-old inclusive government, says the quality of the public’s input at
the outreach program was more important than the numbers of those who
attended. He said many from ZANU-PF were forced to attend the public
meetings, but conceded that the MDC had not mobilized its supporters to
“This exercise was not a quantitative exercise, so the numbers didn’t really
matter, it is a qualitative exercise," said Mwonzora. "After seeing that
people were being coerced we then said there is no voting at the meetings.
We recorded the views that came out, it is impossible to say this is a
majority view or a minority view in important questions, so the MDC position
was not as dominating as it should have been because they didn’t take it
seriously, but there were a few brave people who spoke and their position is
The constitution-making process was delayed in February when Mwonzora was
arrested and charged with public violence, charges he denies.
Phineas Zimuto, a supporter of the small MDC, the third political party in
the inclusive government, says ZANU-PF supporters who attended the outreach
program had been instructed to present their party’s views by their leaders,
particularly in rural areas.
“The main advantage which ZANU-PF wants to take is that during the outreach
programs when we were visiting the rural areas they used to bus people and
they also used to tell people what to say as compared with what happened in
the urban areas.” said Zimuto.
He said the outreach meetings were not elections on what to put into the new
“So for us having a quantitative approach will not work, because this is not
a voting process. What we just want to hear is to take the views of the
people, what they said, no matter who said that or the number of people who
said the same statement,” added Zimuto.
A ZANU-PF supporter, Newton Matutu, who lives 250 kilometers south of
Harare, says more ZANU-PF supporters, particularly in the rural areas,
contributed opinions about what the party wants in a new charter, than the
MDC. He said if the ZANU-PF views were not included in the new charter, it
would be unfair.
“Our party has got so many supporters in the rural areas so their voices
were supposed to be heard and not just the people in the urban areas," he
said. "We don’t care what MDC is going to say at the end of the day, because
it is what the people said that we are really concerned about.”
The multi-party political agreement which brought the inclusive government
to power in February 2009 spelled out that a new constitution must be
created before the next elections.
The process has been delayed by shortage of funds, political party
squabbles, some violence in Harare last year, and complex logistics of
arranging thousands of meetings around the country.
Some analysts say at the end of the day, the new charter will emerge from
negotiations. Currently, 17 multi-party committees are meeting to thrash
out each of the 17 clauses which will make up the new constitution.
Few expect a draft to be ready for a referendum before September this year.
If a majority of people reject the new constitution, Zimbabwe will carry on
under its present, much amended charter which came into operation at
independence in 1980.
By Alex Bell
17 May 2011
The future of the regional human rights court remains uncertain, amid
reports that Justice Ministers from across Southern Africa have agreed that
the court’s decisions are null and void.
A Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is set to get
underway in Namibia on Friday, where it is hoped that the future of the
human rights Tribunal will be decided. The court was effectively suspended
over Zimbabwe’s refusal to honour its 2008 ruling that Robert Mugabe’s land
grab campaign was unlawful. . The court ordered the then ZANU PF government
to protect farmers from further attack, but Robert Mugabe and his party have
repeatedly snubbed the court.
The government has argued that the Tribunal was not properly constituted and
therefore has no jurisdiction in Zimbabwe, despite Zimbabwe being a
signatory to the SADC Treaty that established the court. Controversially, a
SADC summit last year decided to review the role and functions of the court,
rather than be forced into taking action against the Zim government for its
That review has since been concluded, and has upheld the court’s decision
and has further stated that the Tribunal was properly constituted. The
report was presented to a SADC Council of Ministers meeting last month, who
were said to have endorsed it.
But according to Zimbabwe’s state media the Ministers reportedly agreed that
the Tribunal’s rulings were null and void. Zimbabwe’s Justice Minister and
ZANU PF top dog, Patrick Chinamasa has in recent days insisted that this is
the position the Council of Ministers have adopted, ahead of the SADC Summit
Nicole Fritz, the Director of the Southern African Litigation Centre, told
SW Radio Africa’s Diaspora Diaries series on Tuesday that credible reports
and sources show that the Council has endorsed the independent report. She
explained that the recent reports suggesting otherwise have only come from
one source, and are at odds with what is being reported elsewhere.
“What is worrying and of concern is that Zimbabwe may use the upcoming SADC
Summit to try and manipulate events and alter the determination of the
Council of Ministers,” Fritz said.
Fritz added: “We hope that the SADC leadership will keep the long term
interests of the region at heart when it makes a decision on the Tribunal.
Decapitating the court at this point will be a critical blow to the region.”
Ben Freeth, from the SADC Tribunal Rights Watch group, meanwhile told SW
Radio Africa that it appears that the fate of the Tribunal will rest on
whatever decision the SADC leadership decides to take on Zimbabwe. The
regional bloc is meant to be endorsing a roadmap towards a credible election
in Zimbabwe, to end the political crisis.
However there is doubt that South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, who is the regional
mediator in the crisis, will attend the Summit, meaning Zimbabwe will not be
on the agenda. It is understood that Zuma will either be in his own country,
where municipal elections will be taking place, or in India. Sources have
said that the Zim issue will be postponed to a later meeting in Johannesburg
Freeth said that SADC will likely delay making a decision on the Tribunal
too, while the Zimbabwe issue remains unresolved. But he explained that the
Tribunal would be a critical tool for SADC if it remains committed to
democratic change in Zimbabwe.
“A fully functioning Tribunal would work in SADC’s favour, because they can
use the court to enforce the rule of law in Zimbabwe,” Freeth said.
By Pindai Dube
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 17:31
BULAWAYO - Matabeleland-based human rights organisations have rejected the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill saying it has no capacity to deal with
Gukurahundi massacres that occurred in the 1980s.
Last week, Cabinet approved the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill which
will be gazetted before it is presented to Parliament.
The Bill seeks to make provisions for the powers and operation of the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
If adopted, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Act would empower the
commission to investigate people in their individual capacities, State and
Patrick Chinamasa, the Justice and Legal Affairs Minister, said the
commission would only carry out investigations into acts of violence that
occurred after February 2009.
However, speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Mbuso Fuzwayo, chairperson of
Ibetshu Likazulu, a pressure group fighting for the compensation of
Gukurahundi victims, described the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill as
a useless law saying it is meant to protect Zanu PF perpetrators of
massacres and violence that occurred from 1982 to 2008.
“We were hopeful that this unity government will use this Human Rights
Commission Bill to deal with the burning issue of Gukurahundi.
“But if there are now saying it will only investigate cases that occurred
from 2009 up to now then it’s just useless.
“Actually it means this Bill will protect people in Zanu PF who killed
thousands of Zimbabweans since 1982 up to 2008 when MDC supporters were
terrorised,” said Fuzwayo.
He said his organisation will continue fighting for compensation of
The Zimbabwe Victims of Organised Violence Trust (ZIVOVT) co-ordinator
Bhekithemba Nyathi said the decision by Cabinet to declare that Zimbabwe
Human Rights Commission will only deal with cases that happened from 2009 is
“This a clear aversion of justice, as a trust which represents victims
of political violence, we were expecting all perpetrators of violence in
the country since 1980 up to 2008 to be investigated by this Human
Rights Commission,” said Nyathi.
During the Gukurahundi massacres in the 1980s, thousands of civilians were
killed while others disappeared. They were buried in mass graves while some
were thrown alive into disused mines. The Gukurahundi operation was
conducted by the notorious Fifth Brigade unit of the army.
The Washington DC-based Genocide Watch last year called for prosecution of
Mugabe and his allies for genocide and crimes against humanity for the
Harare, May 17, 2011 - A group of Germany parliamentarians visiting the
country have expressed concern over continued violence in the country just
over two years after the country's governing parties signed a unity pact .
The group expressed concern soon after meeting the Speaker of Parliament,
Lovemore Moyo, Tuesday that an upsurge in violence was a worrying
Stefan Liebich, head of the delegation told reporters that they discussed
progress on the constitutional making process with the Speaker.
The delegation also met with the group facing treason trial arrested in
February for allegedly organising Egypt style uprisings on Monday evening as
part of their consultative process.
The group will also meet several government officials, political parties and
civic society. The visit comes a few days before a crucial SADC summit on
Zimbabwe and in the middle of discussions between EU and the regional
grouping on the controversial “sanctions” imposed on President Mugabe and
The visit is the first by Germany parliamentarians since the 1990s. Germany
imposed travel and business related sanctions on Mugabe and his Zanu (PF)
party officials in response to the party’s reluctance to promote democracy
and respect for human rights.
The group is scheduled to travel to other SADC countries for further
Harare, May 17, 2011 - The newly elected Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC–T) Deputy Chairman Morgan Komichi has warned that his
office will act decisively on all pending disciplinary cases in the party
and instil a culture of discipline and sanity without fear or favour.
Incidents of intra-party violence were reported in the just ended national
congress, bringing to disrepute a party that is known to be promoting a
"Conflict management in the party is the most critical area which my office
is going to look into. At any place or gathering where different activities
happen there are people who feel disgraced, some claiming that they have
been treated unfairly, It is the duty of the chairman’s office to quickly
deal with those issues so that people are explained to and given a fair
judgment so that divisions do not occur", Komichi told Radio VOP.
"My office has recommended the party to embark on a massive disciplinary
programme not only punishing wrong doers but educating even our supporters
what it costs the party if we are not disciplined", said Komichi.
The deputy chairman also said the issue of discipline was going to be rolled
throughout the party from leadership down to supporters.
Tsvangirai is being accused of dragging feet into addressing the issue of
violence within the party. The MDC-T announced last week that it had
established a commission of enquiry which would thoroughly investigate
violence which happened prior to its national congress.
MDC-T blames ZANU (PF) for infiltrating it and causing violence.
Harare, May 17, 2011 - Freelance journalist Andrison Manyere and six other
activists facing charges of banditry and sabotage are set to appear before
the country's Supreme Court to seek a stay of prosecution until
determination of the violation of their rights has been made.
According to a letter in the possession of the Radio VOP reporter, Manyere
and other six accused's lawyers have been asked by the Supreme Court to file
heads of arguments within two weeks.
Manyere, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) director of security Kisimusi
Dhlamini and other abductees that included Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
former personal aide Gandhi Mudzingwa are facing charges of banditry and
sabotage for allegedly plotting an insurgency against President Robert
Mugabe’s government in 2008.
Manyere, Dhlamini, Mudzingwa and other abductees successfully applied for
the matter to be referred to the Supreme Court in 2009.
The accused argue that their kidnapping and torture in 2008 violated their
right to liberty, and right to full protection of the law. They further
argue that evidence obtained from them by the police was inadmissible in
court because it was sought through unconstitutional means of torture.
The abductees’ lawyers want the Supreme Court to determine on the violations
of their rights before the High Court presides over charges of committing
banditry and insurgency.
In 2009 the Supreme Court made a ruling of stay on Zimbabwe Peace Project
Director, Jestina Mukoko who was also arrested in an unconstitutional manner
in December 2008.
Other abductees include Banket Town councillor Manuel Chinanzvavana and his
wife Concillia who are yet to be entertained by the Supreme Court.
Manyere and co-accused are being represented by lawyers, Mbidzo, Muchadehama
and Makoni partners.
by Irene Madongo
17 May 2011
The trial of the MDC’s Deputy Treasurer General, Elton Mangoma, has been
postponed to Wednesday, after the State claimed it needed to obtain
additional information for cross-examination purposes.
Mangoma, who is also the Energy Minister, is facing charges that he abused
his office by flouting tender rules in the procurement of fuel. He was
arrested in March and was granted $5,000 bail at the Harare High Court and
released. But he was re-arrested shortly after, this time in connection with
an electricity tender award. He was eventually released on bail.
On Tuesday when the trial resumed, the State’s lawyer asked the judge for
permission to bring into the case a list of oil suppliers which he will use
to question Energy and Power Development permanent secretary, Justin
Mupamhanga, whom he had just cross-examined.
However Mangoma’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, argued that this new request by
the State was in fact an attempt to amend its charges against Mangoma.
The judge will decide on Wednesday whether to grant the State permission to
use the list of oil suppliers.
In Bulawayo meanwhile, jailed Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) leader, Paul
Siwela, is understood to be very distressed after he was remanded for a
further two weeks in prison on Monday.
Siwela is being held at the notorious Khami Prison in Bulawayo, on treason
charges. He was arrested in March with two other MLF leaders, John Gazi and
Charles Thomas, after the state alleged they were attempting to stir up
Egypt-style uprisings. All three deny the charges.
Gazi and Thomas were released on $2,000 bail each, but Siwela was denied
bail. However in his bail application last week the judge ordered that he
first sign an affidavit stating that he promises not to commit treason
offences if released on bail. The affidavit was presented to the court but
deliberate bureaucracy continues to delay the case.
On Tuesday Lucas Nkomo of the Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers’ Network told SW
Radio Africa that his client was going through a difficult time.
“He is worried and distraught about his continued detention at Khami prison,
pending trial, and he was complaining that because his co-accused persons
were released, he spends most of the time by himself, almost like solitary
confinement. So it’s really depressing and distressing to him.”
“The conditions are unbearable, especially now when the temperatures
dropping. Generally the hygiene conditions are not up to standard,” Nkomo
said. “You have to rely on the food that is brought from outside.”
By Tichaona Sibanda
17 May 2011
Senate debate on the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) Amendment Bill
will only commence in July, after completion of thematic committee meetings
of the constitution making process.
MDC-T chief whip in the Senate, Gladys Gombami-Dube, told SW Radio Africa on
Tuesday that business in the Senate has been seriously affected by the slow
pace of the constitutional reform process.
Most lawmakers from all three parties have been heavily involved in efforts
to draw up a new constitution for Zimbabwe, since the process began two
The proposed amendments to POSA were introduced as a private member’s Bill
by Mutare Central MP and MDC-T Chief Whip in Parliament, Innocent Gonese, in
It sailed through Parliament in December 2010 where the MDC-T holds a slight
majority in the Lower House, while ZANU PF has a huge majority in the Upper
House which it uses to block legislation.
‘ZANU PF has a majority because of traditional chiefs and provincial
governors who always toe the party line. If there are progressive forces in
ZANU PF we will ask them to help us make the Bill sail through.
‘But they’re (ZANU PF) unpredictable and remember they are advocating for
elections this year and I know it’s one way they’ll try to close us down as
a party and civil society organisations from meeting with the people,’
POSA was made a much more restrictive law by a ZANU PF dominated parliament
in 2002. The draconian legislation gives untold powers to the police and the
Ministry of Home Affairs and the police are responsible for the
administration of the Act.
‘Its an open secret that the partisan police uses the Act to harass, arrest
and detain ZANU PF opponents and pro-democracy activists wanting to have
public meetings or participate in demonstrations,’ the Senator added.
The police, headed by fierce ZANU PF loyalist Commissioner-General Augustine
Chihuri, has used POSA over the years to arrest and detain hundreds of
people but has so far never successfully prosecuted anyone. Not
surprisingly, the Act has never been used to arrest any ZANU PF officials or
Amendments to the Bill therefore aim to ensure that public gatherings are
regulated in a manner that will allow Zimbabweans to fully exercise their
democratic right to express themselves through peaceful assembly and
Speaking in Parliament last December Gonese, the originator of the amendment
to POSA, explained that other amendments would seek a reduction in police
powers and give magistrates the power to prohibit meetings instead.
For now, the MDC can only work towards amending POSA because the party does
not have the required two thirds majority in Parliament to repeal the Bill
By Chengetai Zvauya, Staff Writer
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 17:53
HARARE - As exposed by the Daily News, the two key witnesses in the $1
million botched deal between First Lady Grace Mugabe and shadowy Chinese
businessman Ping Sung Hsieh have been accused of lying under oath and face
President Robert Mugabe has in just two weeks inadvertently confirmed that
police commissioner Olga Bungu and one of his farm managers Stanley Nhari,
work for the First Family contrary to court affidavits in which Bungu said
she was unemployed.
Nhari claims in court papers that he is a general manager of the transport
company Bungu wanted to start. The Daily News has gathered that Bungu,
working as a front of the First Lady and her son from the first marriage,
Russel, transferred $1 million to Ping’s account in South Africa for the
purchase of six trucks, but the Chinese businessman failed to deliver them.
He was arrested in South Africa and is awaiting extradition to Zimbabwe, if
the courts decide so but after revelations that Bungu and Nhari lied under
oath, the case is expected to crumble.
In March this year, four South African drivers who delivered three old South
African registered trucks in a bid by Ping to hoodwink the First Lady into
believing that he was now delivering the trucks which were paid for in 1998.
They were arrested and are holed up in Zimbabwe after their passports were
confiscated until Ping either refunds the money or travels to Harare to be
charged with fraud.
Two weeks ago, Mugabe promoted Bungu to the post of commissioner which was
announced in the state media and exposed her cover.
At the weekend Mugabe officiated at the wedding of Nhari’s daughter in
Harare and again exposed his cover. Investigations by the Daily News had
already confirmed that both Nhari and Bungu were lying until Mugabe
confirmed their real jobs and lawyers representing both the drivers and Ping
in South Africa now say they have a strong case to have their clients
Beatrice Mtetwa, the lawyer representing the South African drivers holed up
in Zimbabwe confirmed the perjury and said this now information strengthens
the defence’s case.
“The court documents signed by the two witness shows that they were lying
under oath, they gave false information to the courts in South Africa,
seeking to extradite Ping, this has been revealed by their affidavits,” said
by Mduduzi Mathuthu
A FORMER Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agent who admitted smashing
an MDC supporter’s jaw with pliers, and then pulling out their tooth, has
been granted asylum in the UK along with his wife.
The 47-year-old ex-CIO man, identified by his initials PM, was originally
turned down by the Home Office which said he had “committed crimes against
But Mr Justice David Archer of the First Tier Tribunal of the Immigration
and Asylum Chamber allowed his and his wife’s appeals in a judgement
delivered on May 4, 2011. The Home Office is not appealing.
At the appeal hearing held in Newport in April, the Tribunal heard how PM,
who joined the CIO in 1996 and quit in 2000 before fleeing to the UK, had
TORTURED and KILLED President Robert Mugabe’s political opponents.
Despite finding that he was “deeply involved in savage acts of extreme
violence”, the judge said deporting him to Zimbabwe would breach his rights
under Articles 2 and 3 of the European Human Rights Convention.
“Those rights are absolute and whatever crimes PM has committed, he cannot
be returned to face the highly likely prospect of torture and execution
without trial,” the judge ruled.
The finding means PM is not recognised as a refugee as per the Refugee
Convention which has an exclusion clause for individuals involved in crimes
against humanity, but qualifies for protection under the Human Rights
PM’s 40-year-old wife, FM, was however granted refugee status after the
judge allowed her appeal on the finding that “she has been active in the MDC
and ROHR [Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe] in the UK”.
“She has a significant profile,” said Mr Justice Archer. “It is highly
likely that she will be targeted in Zimbabwe by the CIO because of her links
to her husband or more generally because of her activities and length of
stay in the UK.”
The former CIO operative, who admitted he was HIV positive, said he joined
the spy agency in 1996. His first assignment was as a bodyguard to the late
cabinet minister, Enos Chikowore.
PM admitted that before rallies, he would go to the homes of opposition
activists and detain them without trial.
In 1999, he “tortured a person by hitting their jaw with pliers and pulling
out a tooth”. In the same year, he went to the house of an MDC supporter who
was forced to sit naked in front of his daughters and told that if he did
not provide information, he would be forced to have sex with them.
In 2000, he tortured a white farmer only identified in court as “Mr
Thornhill” after hearing rumours that he was providing financial support to
the MDC. Thornhill was “electrocuted, slapped, beaten and punched to the
point of being unconscious”.
On another occasion, PM admitted taking a female MDC member to an
underground cell where she was stripped naked and tortured with whips made
of hide. PM “put salt to her wounds”.
He stated that he was involved in the kidnapping and torture of dozens of
MDC supporters. “Some were killed slowly and their bodies disposed of. He
witnessed people with their limbs cut off. This was a slow way of torture.
Other acts of torture were too gruesome to recount,” the judge said.
PM stated he quit the CIO after he had “enough of the torture”. He took
leave before fleeing to the UK on July 1, 2000. He was granted six months
leave to enter as a visitor but overstayed. He claimed asylum on October 16,
2008. His wife arrived in the UK on June 13, 2001, and claimed asylum on
September 29, 2008.
On the evidence, the judge said the Home Office had presented a “compelling
case that PM committed crimes against humanity”. He also rejected PM’s claim
that he was acting under duress.
On PM’s claims that he passed information to the MDC while still actively in
service, the judge said this was not a defence to crimes against humanity.
But despite his “savage acts” of violating others’ rights, the judge said
deporting him to Zimbabwe would be a death sentence.
“He has seen too much and said too much about his colleagues to be allowed
to live,” the judge added.
Norwich-based Zimbabwean lawyer Masimba Mavaza, of IEI Solicitors,
represented the couple.
By Lance Guma
17 May 2011
The number of people using mobiles phones in Zimbabwe since the inception of
the coalition government has risen sharply, from 12 to 56 percent, setting
it up for huge political and commercial benefits. Add the completion of a
fibre optic cable link to Mozambique in the mix, and the future has huge
Commemorating World Telecommunications and Information Society Day,
Information Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Nelson Chamisa
attributed this growth to the fact that ICT products are getting into the
country duty-free, after a change in government policy.
Chamisa announced that “the government has completed the fibre optic cable
lining from Harare to Mozambique in a bid to improve connectivity in the
country. US$15 million will be directed towards the setting up of the cable
linking Beitbridge as ICTS are the backbone of national development.”
The 261km fibre optic cable from Harare to Mozambique, via Mutare, will form
the nerve centre of a broadband infrastructure that will wire Zimbabwe to
the rest of the world through an undersea cable. Chamisa believes by 2014
Zimbabwe will be ‘internationally networked’ with 1,340 km of cables.
Should the country manage to complete this cabling work “massive amounts of
mobile phone, television, internet and other telecommunication signals” can
be carried while many jobs in the sector are expected to be created. The
ultimate objective Chamisa said was to ensure ICT networks are “available
and affordable anywhere and anytime.”
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates that there are
1.5 million internet users in Zimbabwe and with a growing increase in the
number of people using mobile phones, that figure is set grow as people also
access the internet using their phones.
For democracy activists in a country run by a repressive regime, mobile
phones and the internet could offer an opportunity to mobilize, especially
via social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. Recent events in Egypt,
Tunisia and Libya have shown the importance of such social media in
mobilizing people to topple repressive regimes.
Recently Rwandan President Paul Kagame went toe to toe with a British
journalist who had called him ‘despotic’ on Twitter. Reports say “for an
hour, the two men tussled back and forth in 140 characters or less, jabbing
at each other in furious tweets in an unprecedented battle between a head of
state and a social media user.”
The report said the duel between the two “illustrates the growing political
impact of Twitter – and the extraordinary sensitivity of the Rwandan
President, whose government has expelled human-rights researchers,
imprisoned opposition leaders, shut down newspapers, and often chased its
enemies beyond its borders.”
Although only 3 per cent of Rwandans have access to the internet, Kagame
joined Twitter in 2009 and has tweeted more than 900 times gathering more
than 13,000 followers.
A few politicians in Zimbabwe like Welshman Ncube have also opened Twitter
accounts and are trying to build up a following.
And one thing is for certain, repressive regimes can no longer control the
information flow in their country – no matter how hard they try.
By Lance Guma
17 May 2011
Every Tuesday SW Radio Africa will be looking at some of Zimbabwe’s unsolved
and deliberately ignored cases of political violence, torture, murder and
other forms of abuse, by people in positions of authority. Last week we
looked at co-Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and the murder of Strover
This week we focus on notorious state security agent and ZANU PF
functionary, Joseph Mwale. Eleven years after being implicated in the brutal
murder of MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, Mwale continues
to walk free and enjoys high level protection from the Mugabe regime.
In the run up to parliamentary elections in 2000 Chiminya and fellow
activist Mabika, who worked as campaign aides to Morgan Tsvangirai, were
brutally murdered when Joseph Mwale and Kainos ‘Kitsiyatota’ Zimunya petrol
bombed their election campaign vehicle during an ambush in Buhera.
Sanderson Makombe who survived the ambush told SW Radio Africa he escaped
into the bush and watched as Zimunya and Mwale threw petrol into the car and
set it alight. Vastly outnumbered and faced with thugs armed with AK-47
rifles he watched powerlessly as his colleagues Mabika and Chiminya got out
of the car and ran ‘across the fields burning like balls of flames.’
When the mob left he ran to Chiminya who was already dead, but Mabika was
still alive and shouting out the names of her attackers. She was to die
later in hospital.
In 2004 the regime charged Mwale’s co-accused, Webster Gwama, Bernard Makuwe
and Morris Kainos (alias Kitsiyatota). All three were indicted on two counts
of murder. Tsvangirai at the time expressed reservations over what he saw as
a “token prosecution” since the gang leader Mwale was being left out. He
said the move was calculated to “confer future impunity by facilitating
acquittals rather than ensure justice". The trial never took off anyway.
In 2006 we reported how police were too scared to enforce a written order
from the Attorney General’s office to arrest Mwale. Then High Court Judge
James Devitte ordered Mwale be brought to trial for the murder. But instead
of Mwale being brought to justice he was promoted within the Central
Intelligence Organization (CIO).
Reports suggested he was put in charge of the President’s Office for
Manicaland Province and lavished with several posh cars for his use. Nelson
Chamisa who was then MDC-T spokesman told us; “Violence is perpetrated and
coordinated by the state and that’s why Mwale is roaming free.”
The advent of the coalition government in 2009 gave hope that something
would be done. Then co-Home Affairs Minister from the MDC-T, Giles Mutsekwa,
announced in November 2009 that; “We have directed that all people with
criminal cases should be arrested, Joseph Mwale included.”
Mutsekwa expressed confidence Mwale’s “honeymoon should now come to an end”.
But like all things to do with the coalition government ZANU PF maintained
their grip on the army, police and state security agency and SW Radio Africa
understands that the docket relating to the Mwale case has vanished.
Meanwhile Sanderson Makombe who survived the Mwale attack told SW Radio
Africa on Tuesday that it was important for the MDC to conduct memorials for
people killed in state sponsored attacks. He pointed to the recent memorial
for murdered activist Tonderai Ndira as another way of reminding people of
pending cases that needed justice to be done.
Press freedom is still a pipe dream in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe CorrespondentMay 17, 2011 06:24
HARARE, Zimbabwe — “Publish and be damned” is more than just an expression
in Zimbabwe today, where the news media is restricted and under threat.
President Robert Mugabe's government has issued licenses to a raft of new
newspapers, as a result of agreements between the major parties following
flawed elections in 2008.
Among the new batch of publications are NewsDay, a daily published by Alpha
Media Holdings which also publishes the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard.
Another prominent new publication is the Daily News, owned by Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe, which was closed down in 2003 for failing to comply
with the registration clauses in the most notorious of Mugabe’s media laws,
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa). Prior to
that, the company’s printing press was destroyed in a bomb attack. Despite
the state’s ubiquitous intelligence service nobody was ever charged.
The new privately owned newspapers have provided a measure of diversity but
the “public” media remains in the tight grip of the state’s unforgiving
“Zimbabwe’s media environment remains threatened by legal and
~United States ambassador to Harare, Charles Ray
Government-owned papers have exploited their hitherto dominance on the
market to act as cheerleaders for Mugabe, 87, and to denigrate Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The two are currently locked in
South African-backed talks on a new constitution. But Mugabe has used the
negotiations, now in their third year, to block agreed upon changes and claw
back power lost in the 2008 poll. Most notably he has used the police, army
and intelligence service to prop up his unpopular regime.
Journalists have been arrested and detained for “undermining the authority”
of the president and for publishing the names of state officials responsible
for torturing civic detainees, names that had already appeared in court
Despite the proliferation of new publications, Mugabe's regime has refused
to open up the airwaves. As a result the only voice heard across the land is
Mugabe’s. There also remains on the statute book a host of measures that
impinge on press freedom.
“Zimbabwe’s media environment remains threatened by legal and administrative
impediments,” United States ambassador to Harare, Charles Ray, told a
gathering on Press Freedom Day, May 3. “Journalists and publishers continue
to be under threat for doing their work with increased self-censorship for
fear of criminal defamation suits.”
Zimbabwe’s criminal defamation laws are a relic of empire, designed to
muzzle voices of insurgent nationalism throughout Britain’s far-flung
dominions. Most former colonies have repealed such legislation on the
grounds that it is inconsistent with democratic norms. Currently, senior MDC
official Roy Bennett is unable to return to Zimbabwe to take up his
government post because the threat of prosecution hangs over him.
Mugabe's Media and Information Minister Webster Shamu has called on
Zimbabwean journalists working in the diaspora to return home. He has also
urged what the government calls “pirate” radio stations transmitting to
Zimbabwe from abroad to close down. But editors have said the state must
guarantee a speedy and unobstructed passage for those who want to return and
an end to hate-mongering in the state media.
Currently MDC leaders are subject to vitriolic attacks by the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and are denied the right of reply. The
national broadcaster has in recent weeks been attempting to shift
responsibility for violence to the MDC. But Bennett has rejected this claim
“What we have in Zimbabwe,” he told a business meeting in London, “is a
ruthless coterie of thugs, bullies and incompetent individuals masquerading
as a political organization.”
Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa believes ZBC is incapable of
reform. Focus should instead be on newcomers, she said.
“I doubt that ZBC in its current state and in our current political
environment can be transformed,” she said on Press Freedom Day. “The route
we ought to be taking is not transformation of ZBC but providing serious
competition to ZBC.”
Media practitioners want the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which is responsible
for the licensing of newspapers and broadcasters, to be more proactive in
removing media laws that obstruct new players. They point out that it is now
two years since state and private media representatives met at the lakeside
resort of Kariba to thrash out reforms. There was consensus that Aippa
But that brief "Harare Spring" has fizzled out as the state confines itself
to licensing a handful of papers ahead of elections next year, and refuses
to permit independent voices on the airwaves.
What is clear from all this is that the public will be unable to make an
informed choice at the ballot box. As that is what democracy is all about,
Zimbabwe’s future remains bleak in the short term.
By Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, 17/05/11
The late Senator Chief Rekayi Tangwena who resisted forced removal of his
people from Gaerezi Ranch must be turning in his grave at the news of what
has befallen Chiadzwa people of Marange. What is astounding is the rich
irony and Zanu-pf hypocrisy in the whole saga.
In its tribute to Chief Rekayi Tangwena who died aged 74, Zanu-pf says: ‘He
was Chief of the Tangwena people of Nyanga who resisted removal from their
land in the Gaerezi area during the illegal Smith regime era…All attempts to
break his iron will, all efforts to terrorise the old man and his flock were
However, on the flip side, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu was quoted last week
as saying: ‘Where do you think we will get the money to compensate them
(about 300 villagers from Chiadzwa) when the same people who are advocating
for the ban of sales of our diamonds are the same who are pushing for the
government to compensate villagers?’ (Zimeye, 14/05/11). To add salt to
injury, the villagers’ representative Malvern Mudiwa was recently arrested
and charged with criminal nuisance for influencing the community.
As if that was not enough, the Herald reported Monday that ZMDC was going to
‘probe’ Sino-Zimbabwe, a joint venture mining company in which it is a
partner with China on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe after it
suspended operations and laid-off most of its workers for what ZMDC says
were difficulties in selling their diamonds due to ‘unfounded human rights
abuses’ (The Herald, 16/05/11).
It appears the villagers are now being used as ‘human shields’ in the
politics of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme following reports
Tuesday that scores of disgruntled villagers were removed from Chiadzwa on
Saturday and Sunday to pave way for mining operations amid disagreements
over compensation and corporate responsibility activities (Newsday, ‘More
Chiadzwa relocations spark row,’17/05/11).
Those who were relocated a year ago to ARDA Transau in Odzi have complained
that they were living in abject poverty after promises by Zanu-pf
authorities of decent accommodation, proper health and education facilities
failed to materialise (The Zimbabwean, 13/02/11). They were promised a new
China town which never was.
The villagers were given US$1000 per family by a Chinese mining company
Anjin as compensation, but regard it as a mockery after being ‘dumped’ at
the 12000 hectare farm which has been looted and stripped allegedly by
Zanu-pf top officials.
Nobody would be convinced that the Chinese cannot pay the villagers
US$50,000 compensation per family following revelations that China is
‘pumping’ US$98 million (The Zimbabwean, 15/05/11) into the completion of a
spy centre at Chitamba Farm in Mazowe Valley. The spy centre’s coincidence
with elections is worrisome.
Chiadzwa villagers may not even know what is happening in the world after
Robert Mugabe’s regime resumed jamming news broadcasts from SW Radio Africa
in August last year. In 2005 Mugabe’s regime began jamming the UK based
station’s frequencies using equipment and expertise provided by China
It is therefore, safe to conclude that Zanu-pf has imposed targeted
sanctions on Chiadzwa villagers. I remain to be proved wrong.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,
CONTENT SERIES 2/2011
[16th May 2011]
Executive Powers [Part I]
In an earlier Constitution Watch we outlined the doctrine of separation of powers between the three branches of government, namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. We noted that although the doctrine shows how important it is for the three branches to be autonomous, it does not deal with the nature and extent of the powers that each of those branches should exercise within their own spheres. In this and subsequent Constitution Watches we shall deal with the powers of the individual branches, starting with those of the Executive.
The Executive, which is the branch of government headed by the President, is currently the most powerful of the three branches. The President and his Ministers control the Defence Forces, the Police and the civil administration; they represent the country in its dealings with foreign governments; and generally they are responsible for running the day-to-day affairs of the country. The Executive is the branch of government which impinges most frequently on the lives of ordinary people.
What are the Powers of the Executive?
Under the present Zimbabwean Constitution, the Executive’s powers can be grouped roughly into the following categories:
· Power over the Legislature, namely the power to summon, adjourn and dissolve Parliament, and the power to appoint members of Parliament.
· Power over the Judiciary, namely the power to appoint judges and other members of the judiciary.
· Power to appoint members of the Executive, namely Cabinet Ministers and administrative officers such as public servants.
· Power to appoint ambassadors and members of constitutional Commissions.
· Power over the security forces, namely the Defence Forces and the Police.
· Legislative power, namely the power to enact legislation.
· Power to declare war and make peace
· Miscellaneous powers, such as the exercise of the prerogative of mercy and the power to confer honours and precedence.
In addition to the specific powers mentioned in the Constitution, the President is vested generally with “the executive authority of Zimbabwe” by section 31H(1). This seems to give him power, through his Ministers, to run the general administration of the country.
The Global Political Agreement [GPA] has not altered the nature of these powers, though it has made some changes to the persons who can exercise them [i.e. the President or Prime Minister or the Cabinet] and the way in which they are exercised [i.e. with or without consultation].
Need for restraints on Executive’s powers
The fundamental issue facing the Constitution Select Committee [COPAC] in its preparation of a new constitution for Zimbabwe is how to limit the powers of the Executive so as to create a real democracy with a proper balance between the three branches of government, while at the same time ensuring that the country is run efficiently. The question of who should be vested with executive powers — President or Prime Minister — though an important one, is not so crucial.
If there are too few limits or safeguards on the exercise of executive power then the country may develop into a dictatorship, whether the power is exercised by a President or a Prime Minister; too many restrictions, on the other hand, may lead to governmental paralysis and anarchy.
It is obvious, particularly in the light of Zimbabwe’s history, that constitutional restraints must be imposed on the powers of the Executive, whether those powers are exercised by a President, a Prime Minister or a Cabinet of Ministers. The reason is clear: power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The fewer restraints there are on Executive powers, the more likely it is that those powers will be exercised corruptly or in such a way as to violate peoples’ rights, and the more likely it is that the Executive will try to extend its powers unlawfully.
On the other hand, it is unwise to restrain the Executive too much. The Executive must be able to govern the country, which means not only managing its day-to-day affairs but also coping with crises when they occur. The Executive must be able to act promptly and effectively in a crisis, though not necessarily unilaterally or in such a way as to violate peoples’ fundamental rights and freedoms. Crises have overwhelmed even old-established democracies such as France: in 1958 the French Fourth Republic proved incapable of dealing with the Algerian war and had to give way to General de Gaulle and the current Fifth Republic. Crises are particularly dangerous for a young democracy such as Zimbabwe, and the institutions of State must be strong enough to overcome them.
Where the constitution requires the Executive to co-operate with other branches of government, it should contain provisions that facilitate such co-operation in order to avoid the governmental paralysis or gridlock that has occurred recently in the United States, where President and Congress cannot agree on a budget to deal with the financial crisis of 2008.
So a balance must be struck between an Executive whose powers are limited to prevent it evolving into a dictatorship and one which has enough power to govern effectively.
Nature of restraints needed
What sort of restraints should the new constitution impose on the Executive, to give Zimbabwe an effective government while preserving democracy, separation of powers and the rule of law?
There are several possible restraints, which may be grouped very roughly under three broad headings:
· Restraints on the nature of the powers that may be exercised by the Executive.
· Restraints directed at the persons who exercise Executive powers.
· Restraints directed at the way in which Executive powers are exercised.
We shall deal with each of these topics in turn in Part II, Part III and Part IV of Executive Powers
Constitution Watch 4/2009 of 27th June 2009 outlined the President’s powers in the Kariba draft constitution. Soft copies of the Kariba draft constitution are available on request. Soft copies of the NCA draft constitution and the Law Society model constitution in which the powers are much less extensive are also available on request. Please send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied