By Alex Bell
20 May 2011
A group of civil society activists, including top lawyers and a journalist,
were on Friday arrested and ‘violently ejected’ from the Summit of Southern
African Development Community (SADC) leaders underway in Namibia.
Among those picked up by police in Namibia were Irene Petras from Zimbabwe
Layers for Human Rights, Joy Mabenge of the Institute for Democratic
Alternatives for Zimbabwe (IDAZIM), and freelance journalist Jealousy
Mawarire. The three were being detained and questioned on Friday evening,
while another nine civil society leaders were being held under heavy police
guard. Zimbabwean CIO agents were leading the interrogations of the
activists, along with Namibian police.
The civil society groups, including representatives from the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition, traveled to Namibia to keep the pressure on SADC to lay
out a clear plan for democratic change in Zimbabwe.
On Friday afternoon, the groups were set to deliver a position paper to SADC
leaders, calling on them to “urgently lay out in clear terms, firm
pre-conditions to ensure democratic elections in Zimbabwe that are without
violence and intimidation and that fully comply with SADC principles and
guidelines governing democratic elections.”
But according to the Crisis Coalition’s Dewa Mavhinga, who contacted SW
Radio Africa by SMS on Friday, about 20 civil society leaders were
‘violently ejected’ from the Summit by Namibian police. Mavhinga said that
the group’s vehicle was also impounded, explaining how Namibian police,
together with Zimbabwean security agents, were ‘harassing’ the group. He
said equipment like cameras was also confiscated.
Crisis Coalition director Mcdonald Lewanika and Mavhinga, Philip Pasirayi,
Pedzisai Ruhanya and Dadirai Chikwengo, along with five other activists,
were guarded by armed police on Friday evening. Petras, Mabenge and the
journalist were questioned.
The group was finally released late Friday evening, after the heads of state
at the Summit had left. Mavhinga said the group was interrograted by more
than 16 Zimbabwean CIO agents. He also slammed the involvement of Namibian
security officials, saying "Namibia is hostile to democracy."
20 May 2011
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemns the malevolent and illegal actions of unidentified Zimbabwean state security agents who on Friday 20 May 2011 harassed Civil Society Organisation (CSO) representatives at the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit in Windhoek, Namibia.
Some Zimbabwean state security agents who refused to identify themselves, accompanied by some Namibian law enforcement agents under unclear circumstances interrogated some CSO leaders who were attending the SADC summit.
The CSO leaders had on Thursday 19 May 2011 shared their position concerning the road map to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe at a press conference organised by the Southern Africa Development Community-Council of Non Governmental Organizations (SADC-CNGO) in partnership with NANGOF Trust, Namibia.
The CSOs also attended another press conference that had been organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition focusing on CSOs input into the Zimbabwean election debate.
First to be targeted were about ten representatives including National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO) chairperson Dadirai Chikwengo, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition officials MacDonald Lewanika, Pedzisayi Ruhanya and Dewa Mavhinga and other representatives from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network who had been distributing statements with key demands from Zimbabwean CSOs at Safari Court hotel, the venue of the Summit.
The CSO’s representatives were whisked away by Namibian law enforcement agents while state security agents watched. During that time state security agents asked Lewanika some questions on his personal details, his business in Namibia, where he was residing, how long he had been in Namibia and how he had arrived in the country.
The CSO representatives were then told to leave the premises of the hotel after some interrogation by the Zimbabwe state security agents.
The state security agents also briefly detained Jelousy Mawarire for allegedly capturing pictures and chased away Shastry Njeru of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum from the venue of the SADC Summit.
Mawarire, who had his pictures deleted from his camera, was later released after the intervention of Namibian human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe.
Also targeted were ZLHR Executive Director Irene Petras, Joy Mabenge of Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe, Lloyd Kuveya of Southern Africa Litigation Centre, Makanatsa Makonese of SADC Lawyers Association who were having a meeting at the hotel. The four CSO representatives were force-marched into the hotel’s parking area by two armed Namibian police who took them to the Namibian Chief Inspector dealing with security at the Summit and the Zimbabwean security agents.
The Zimbabwean state security agents were very hostile and proceeded to profile Petras, Mabenge, Kuveya and Makonese. They refused to identify themselves.
The CSO representatives were interrogated by the state security agents for more than one hour and the questions centered around their personal details, their mission in Namibia, their place of residence in Namibia, and their residential addresses in Zimbabwe while officials from the Zimbabwean embassy were observing.
ZLHR strongly condemns this despicable conduct and reminds the state security agents and the government that civil society has the right to have its voice heard that is why there is a strong delegation drawn from various networks in Zimbabwe and the region. The actions of the state security agents highlights the need to urgently reform the security sector players as enunciated in the Global Political Agreement as they continue to be a law unto themselves even beyond the borders of Zimbabwe.
By Alex Bell
20 May 2011
ZANU PF has demanded that recent strong resolutions on Zimbabwe, adopted by
the regional security organ the Troika, be overturned, calling on the Summit
of Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders to reverse the
The summit of regional leaders got underway in Namibia on Friday. The
meeting was unlikely to include any substantive discussion on Zimbabwe,
after the regional mediator in the political crisis, South Africa’s Jacob
Zuma, pulled out of the event. However, it is understood that Zimbabwe did
feature on the agenda of talks.
Dewa Mavhinga from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, which is attending the
summit, told SW Radio Africa on Friday that SADC leaders were set to discuss
recent resolutions adopted by the SADC Troika in March.
That summit in Livingstone, Zambia, had condemned the lack of progress in
the unity government, in the first meaningful criticism of ZANU PF the
region has ever issued. The Troika called for an end to violence and
intimidation, and called for the drafting of an election roadmap towards a
credible and violence free poll in Zimbabwe.
ZANU PF had been left visibly stung by the Troika’s position, which has been
praised for being much tougher than the usual SADC policy of quiet
diplomacy. Robert Mugabe’s party this week also launched a regional
offensive trying to get support, and a contingent of party members have
since called for these SADC resolutions to be overturned.
Mavhinga explained that the party has been on a “massive propaganda drive,”
trying to “mislead the region that conditions are right for an election this
year.” The party brought in a mob of supporters and members, who were been
handing out copies of a dossier said to contain ‘evidence’ of MDC violence.
Mavhinga explained that “much work needs to be done to counter this
propaganda.” He added that civil society hoped the SADC Summit would, none
the less, endorse the Troika resolutions and put on public record a clear
timeframe of its plan of action in Zimbabwe.
SADC has since officially deferred the Zimbabwe issue until June. The matter
will now be discussed on the sidelines of the Common Market for Eastern and
Southern Africa (Comesa) summit, scheduled for June 11 in Johannesburg.
Mavhinga meanwhile said that the fate of the SADC Tribunal was also up for
discussion, with ZANU PF urging that the court’s ruling on Robert Mugabe’s
land grab campaign be overturned. The court ruled in 2008 that the exercise
was unlawful, but the Mugabe government has refused to honour the rulings,
insisting the court has no jurisdiction in Zimbabwe.
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 contempt. 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 the Tribunal’s
rulings must be overturned.
20/05/2011 19:22:00 Staff Reporter
WINDHOEK, Namibia - The increasingly frustrated and isolated Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe has again clashed with the SADC Troika Chairman and
Zambian leader Rupiya Banda and the pair are said to have exchanged harsh
words in front of other heads of State at the SADC Summit in Namibia, The
Zimbabwe Mail can reveal.
Ahead of the summit, SADC issued a Comminique saying that the the Zimbabwe
issue had been removed from the agenda, but the boisterous Zimbabwe State
media loyal to Robert Mugabe insisted that the summit was going to fully
discuss the progress that had been made by the political parties in the
inclusive government in implementing the GPA and the roadmap to the holding
of elections in the country.
Zanu PF insisted that it was going to come out armed with a favourable
resolution to call for elections this year and, in that spirit, a full
delegation of a high powered delegation arrived in Windhoek bubbling with
confidence, but the truth began to unravel at the airport as the Namibian
President Hifikepunye Pohamba failed to turn up to welcome his Zimbabwean
counterpart, preferring to delegate his Foreign Minister Utoni Nujoma
Discussions on the Zimbabwe issue at the SADC Summit in Windhoek, Namibia,
was never of the agenda following the failre of the SADC facilitator on
Zimbabwean talks, South African President Jacob Zuma's failure to attend due
to pressing domestic issues.
However, the face-saving Zimbabwe State media is now honking on spin saying
the issue have been deferred and will now be held at the Tripartite Summit
in South Africa next month.
Sources close to the deliberations said Robert Mugabe failed to salvage the
issue back on the agenda as he was rebuffed by his regional peers and
complained of what he called inaccuracies in the Livingstone report
presented by SADC Troika Chairman, President Rupiya Banda of Zambia.
Heads of State present also told him that some of the issues he raised on
the report needed a response by the facilitator, President Jacob Zuma of
Mugabe also complained that procedures were not being properly followed as
he was not was never given a chance to see the report and at that point
Banda told him that his he was on an equal footing with his coalition
This sparked an angry exchange of words between the two leaders with Mugabe
saying he was the Head of State and entitled to that privilege, but the
feisty Zambian President was having none of it.
The other reasons cited was that the other parties in the GPA were not
present for a full discussion.
Zanu PF was armed with bags of Dossiers of DVDs of MDC Congress violence
which it planned to present to SADC heads of States but all was in futile as
the Zambian leader prevailed with indefatigable authority, leaving Robert
Mugabe and his mob frustrated.
Meanwhile, the embattled former ruling party Zanu PF’s Chairman, Simon Khaya
Moyo, has distributed a statement of defiance reiterating his party’s
position regarding the political situation in Zimbabwe and the holding of
elections, amid reports of escalating frustration and tensions from the as
they struggled to get their way at the summit.
The Zimbabwe Mail correspondent, in Nambia, reports that the Moyo said the
only way forward for the parties in the Global Political Agreement, is to
speedily conclude the constitution-making process and allow Zimbabweans to
participate in a referendum and in polls.
He said the current delaying tactics employed by the MDC formations is a
recipe for political and economic instability in Zimbabwe.
Moyo added that as a party, Zanu PF is totally against an idea of a new
roadmap to elections as it means re-negotiating the GPA.
The two MDC formations have of late been advocating for a fresh election
road-map, divorced from the dictates of the GPA. They are both united on
full implementation of the outstanding GPA agreements.
The Zanu PF chairman said he hoped the on-going SADC summit in Namibia will
review the position taken at the last summit in Livingstone, Zambia and
facilitate the full implementation of the PGA, particularly the holding of
elections this year, without further delay.
He also said the GPA parties should, in unison, call for the removal of
travel restrictions on Zanu PF leaders and against what he called the
illegal broadcast by western radio stations into the country.
Moyo’s said the three parties in the inclusive government have clearly
failed to bust travel restrictions together and to support the agrarian
reform as well as the indigenisation and empowerment thrust together.
He said Zanu PF will stick to the letter and spirit of the GPA, which
stipulates that elections should be held after the completion of the
Commentators at the summit said Moyo’s statement seemed to be an act of
desperation as no one was listening to Zanu PF’s plea at the summit to get
the Zimbabwe agenda back on the table in the absence of the facilitator.
SADC mediator and facilitator on the Zimbabwean crisis, South African
President Jacob Zuma, is not attending the Namibian Heads of State Summit
due to domestic commitments.
A South African embassy official in the Harare has said Zuma would be
overseeing the local government elections in his country and SADC had seen
it fit that the Zimbabwe crisis problems could not be discussed without the
This has left Robert Mugabe clutching at straws because he and his party
wanted the summit more than the MDC formations.
Zanu PF had bands of hired party mobs and thugs in Namibia ready for
legendary defiant chant at the Summit venue in demand for elections this
year in support of its beleaguered leadership, today The Zimbabwe Mail has
met some of them loitering in the streets of Windhoek doing shopping clad in
One Zimbabwean journalist attending the summit said, “things have turned the
corner for Zanu PF. A few months back it was the MDC demanding SADC summits,
and now it is Zanu PF’s turn, I hope they write a headline, “SADC Ignores
Zanu-PF” in the Herald, like they used to do in the past”, he said in a
burst of laughter from the joint.
GLENDA DANIELS JOHANNESBURG - May 20 2011 00:00
The Mail & Guardian's three-year battle to gain access to a report by two
senior judges on Zimbabwe's 2002 presidential election finally reached the
Constitutional Court this week.
The report was commissioned by former president Thabo Mbeki, who sent judges
Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Khampepe to Zimbabwe to investigate
"constitutional and legal challenges" in the build-up to that country’s
disputed and highly controversial 2002 poll (See accompanying story below).
The M&G requested a copy of the report under the Promotion of Access to
Information Act in 2008, but was turned down by the presidency.
The newspaper then won a high court victory, subsequently confirmed by the
Supreme Court of Appeal, ordering President Jacob Zuma to disclose the
report.The Constitutional Court hearing on Tuesday represented Zuma's final
appeal against this order. Judgment was reserved.
Questioning by a panel of nine judges (Deputy Judge President Dikgang
Moseneke and Judge Sisi Khampepe recused themselves as they were the authors
of the report) threw up the question: Did their two colleagues travel to
Zimbabwe as "special envoys" on a diplomatic mission, as "the embodiment of
the president", as claimed by the presidency?
Marumo Moerane, senior counsel for the presidency, told the court that all
the democratic presidents of South Africa had mediated in Zimbabwe's
turbulent political climate, lending sensitivity to the judges' report.
The presidency has maintained that the judges' assessment was a "Cabinet
report", which was exempt from disclosure under the Act. The M&G disputes
this because, among other reasons, the president is far more than the head
The paper also argues that the judges' role cannot be regarded as that of
special envoys on a diplomatic mission, which would also make their report
exempt from disclosure under the Act, because such a mission would conflate
the functions of the executive and the judiciary.
Jeremy Gauntlett, senior counsel for the M&G, said the case raised "the
worrying issue of the separation of powers".
Pretending they were presidential envoys, he said, was a case of trying to
"squeeze into a tiny Cinderella's slipper to make them envoys", when, in
reality, "they are judges".
In an affidavit before the court, M&G editor Nic Dawes said: "What is
concerning is that the presidency prioritises its relations with the Mugabe
regime over its clear constitutional and statutory obligations [to
disclose]. It is this attitude which would fracture international relations,
not the disclosure of 'innocuous' (the president assures this court)
"Should the international community come to view the presidency's loyalties
as lying not with the rule of law but with pariah regimes, the world’s
confidence in South Africa’s democratic commitment would be destroyed."
The sequence of events in the case, highlighting government's determination
not to disclose the contents of the judges' report, is as follows:
In September 2008 the M&G lodged an internal appeal as provided for in
Paia. It was dismissed by the presidency in November that year.
In June 2010, after the M&G had applied to the North Gauteng High Court,
Judge Stanley Sapire ordered the presidency to hand over the report within
seven days. He ruled that there was no evidence that the report contained
information that was obtained in confidence.
In December that year, following an appeal by President Jacob Zuma, the
Supreme Court of Appeal again ruled in the M&G’s favour. Judge Robert Nugent
said that the travails of Zimbabwe and "the consequences for South Africa
were so notorious that it would be myopic not to accord them judicial
Nugent also cited the matter Brümmer v Minister for Social Development,
emphasising the importance of grounding South Africa in the values of
accountability, responsiveness and openness. And he cited legal academic
Etienne Mureinik, who captured the essence of the Bill of Rights when he
described it as "a bridge from the culture of authority … to a culture of
justification" and a "culture in which every exercise of power is expected
to be justified".
Zuma's appeal was dismissed with costs.
Victory is in the eye of the observer
Robert Mugabe's victory in the 2002 presidential election ended all doubt
about the extent to which his party was willing to use violence and defy
world opinion to keep him in power.
Mugabe's inauguration, on a Sunday morning in the gardens of State House,
was boycotted by Western diplomats. A pall hung over much of the country.
Citizens' hope for change had been snuffed out by a combination of violence
and cynical electoral laws.
The first foreign visitor to arrive in Harare to congratulate Mugabe was
Jacob Zuma, then South Africa’s deputy president.
According to a dispatch from the country’s foreign affairs department, Zuma
"congratulated President Mugabe on his re-election, based on the preliminary
reports" of a South African election observer mission that described the
election result as "legitimate".
But it was an election rejected by much of the world. The European Union
sanctions, which Mugabe's party has now made the centre of its anti-Western
propaganda, were imposed in the run-up to the 2002 polls after Zimbabwe
kicked out the head of the union's observer mission, who had entered the
country on a tourist visa. Mugabe would also later withdraw from the
Commonwealth, which suspended Zimbabwe in 2002 over the conduct of the
He won with 56% of the vote, 400 000 more votes than Movement for Democratic
Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
There were various observer groups overseeing that election, but their
verdicts followed old alliances, with African missions mostly backing the
outcome, whereas Western observers rejected it.
The Organisation of African Unity said that "in general the elections were
transparent, credible, free and fair". An observer from Namibia, which has
been one of Mugabe's most dependable allies, said the poll had been
"watertight, without room for rigging".
But rights groups pointed out that more than 30 people were killed in
political violence, more than a thousand polling agents and monitors were
detained and regulations on the eve of voting made a free poll impossible.
Apart from the violence, Zanu-PF set about reversing the voting trends of
the 2000 general election, when it lost virtually every urban seat in the
first poll contested by the MDC.
Zanu-PF drew up a raft of regulations deliberately designed to throttle the
urban vote. In 2002, aware that it could not regain support in the urban
areas, it made sure that votes in these areas would be whittled down.
A report on the elections by ZESN, a coalition of local election observer
groups, recalls how the government had slashed the number of voting stations
in urban areas and other MDC strongholds by up to 50% since the 2000
At the same time, about 644 new voting stations were opened in rural areas.
In almost half the rural constituencies the opposition was denied the
opportunity to monitor voting and their agents were attacked and harassed.
Only about 400 of the more than 12 000 monitors who applied for permission
to oversee the polls were accredited -- not enough for the more than 4 500
polling stations across the country.
Despite laws allowing voters still in the queue at the close of the polls to
vote, polling stations in urban centres were shut down and thousands turned
away by police.
Urban voters, many of them either tenants or residents of informal
settlements, were forced to produce passports and utility bills to prove
they had lived in their constituencies for at least 12 months.
In Zanu-PF’s rural strongholds villagers hoping to vote had to be registered
by traditional leaders, who were firm Mugabe supporters.
A law was passed on the eve of the elections stripping people of foreign
ancestry of citizenship, effectively denying many people, mostly in urban
areas and farming districts, their voting rights. -- Jason Moyo
By Tichaona Sibanda
20 May 2011
There was pandemonium in Warren Park on Thursday when overzealous police
swooped on a group of mourners and arrested 35 of them, following
disturbances with ZANU PF youth.
Among those picked up by the police was the father of the deceased who died
in a car accident on Wednesday in Harare. The MDC-T confirmed the arrests in
a statement but did not release the name of the deceased or that of the
Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa said since both father and son were staunch
MDC-T supporters, most of the mourners at the funeral wake wore party
regalia and were singing and chanting MDC songs and slogans.
‘We are being told that at some point there was clash between mourners and
members of ZANU PF’s notorious Upfumi Kuvadiki group (a shadowy so-called
empowerment group). This group threw stones at the mourners and some
vehicles were damaged.
‘The group quickly fled the scene only to phone the police that they were
attacked by MDC activists. So when the police came they just picked up the
mourners and took them to Warren Park police station,’ Muchemwa said.
The MDC said the 35 detainees were transferred to Harare Central Police
station on Friday and charged with assault and theft, adding that the police
are yet to identify the assault victims or the stolen property.
In related issues of MDC-T harassment, Midlands North Province Lazarus
Zviito, the Zhombe Ward 6 chairperson, and Tafadzwa Muchakagara, who were
arrested and remanded in custody since February 7th, were released by the
Kwekwe Magistrate’ court on Thursday.
The party said Zviito and Muchakagara were arrested on trumped-up charges of
public violence and had been in remand prison then. The two are facing
charges of threatening ZANU PF ward vice chairperson, Ishmael Sibanda and
intimidating Chief Samuel Samambwa.
There has also been another death this week from an MDC-T official who was
badly beaten in 2008. In the run up to the presidential run-off election
Edward Tseka Tandi, vice chairperson for Nembudziya in Gokwe, was savagely
attacked by ZANU PF thugs in Nembudziya and had to undergo major surgery. He
never fully recovered from his injuries.
The 54 year old died at his Avondale home on Tuesday and has been buried at
his rural home in Mutora, Nembudziya. Hundreds of MDC-T supporters bid
farewell to this strong ward leader who braved the assaults of ZANU PF to
continue fighting for democratic change.
by Thulani Munda Friday 20 May 2011
HARARE – There has been a sharp increase in arson attacks against supporters
of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party since the former opposition’s
congress two weeks ago, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
In the latest of its ‘Political Temperature Bulletins’ the ZimRights said it
has received several reports that suspected ZANU (PF) militia in the eastern
Manicaland province have raided scores of homesteads belonging to MDC
supporters and burnt them down as punishment for not backing President
“There has been a sharp increase in cases of arson attacks in Manicaland
province since the MDC-T held its congress in Bulawayo almost two weeks
ago,” Zimrights said in the bulletin made available to ZimOnline on
The rights group gave the example of two families from the rural Mutasa
Central constituency whose houses were burnt down as the militias warned the
families that they would return to kill them should they continue supporting
Tsvangirai and the MDC.
Members of the two families have since gone into hiding in fear for their
lives, according to ZimRights.
“Houses belonging to two MDC families in Mutasa Central families were set
ablaze last week,” the rights organisation said.
“The suspected ZANU (PF) attackers left a note which partly read ‘if you
continue to talk about Tsvangirai, you will continue to do so in heaven,’
implying that they would be all killed). All the property of the victims was
destroyed and they are currently in hiding,” it added.
Police were not immediately available for comment on the matter, so was ZANU
(PF) spokesman Rugare Gumbo.
But ZANU (PF) has in the past denied its members commit political violence,
while accusing non-governmental organisations of falsely accusing the party
of perpetrating violence and human rights abuses in a bid to tarnish its
name and that of its leader, Mugabe.
Political violence and human rights abuses are on the rise in many parts of
Zimbabwe amid growing tension between ZANU (PF) and the MDC-T over when to
hold elections to choose a new government to end their tenuous power-sharing
Mugabe is fighting to have elections this year, which ZANU-PF is confident
it will win after the party’s loss to the MDC in 2008.
The 87-year-old leader was forced into a unity government with Tsvangirai
after a flawed run-off vote but two years down the line ZANU (PF) says it
now wants to go it alone.
The MDC has warned that a rushed election will lead to violence, while
Tsvangirai has warned he could boycott any election hastily called either
without a new constitution or without giving the proposed new charter time
to take root.
Tsvangirai has repeatedly urged the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to craft a "road map" that will set benchmarks for credible free and
fair elections to end the tenure of the coalition, while avoiding the
bloodbath of 2008 when more than 200 opposition members were killed in
But today's summit of SADC leaders is not going to discuss Zimbabwe because
South African President Jacob Zuma is not going to attend the conference
because of other pressing commitments.
The SADC is the guarantor of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing agreement while Zuma
is the bloc’s chief mediator between the Zimbabwean parties. Zuma was due to
present a report to regional leaders on Zimbabwe’s troubled transition
process. – ZimOnline.
By Xolisani Ncube, Staff Writer
Friday, 20 May 2011 15:56
HARARE - Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has warned that the city could be
hit by an outbreak of cholera yet again as critical water treatment
chemicals for the city are perilously close to running dry.
Speaking at a media briefing in the capital yesterday, Masunda said the
United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) was terminating its water treatment
chemicals partnership with the Harare City Council (HCC) end of next month.
Unicef had been providing the council with water treatment chemicals since
the outbreak of a cholera epidemic that killed over 4 000 people at the
height of Zimbabwe’s economic and political tumult in 2008.
“If we don’t do something about the problem we risk going back to the
cholera era. If we don’t take any measures we risk going back to the 2008
period,” said Masunda.
He added: “Unicef wrote to us in November telling us that they would stop
assisting local authorities with chemicals for water purification. We had to
negotiate for the extension which they gave us until June 30 and they have
since written to us reminding us that the deadline is approaching so we need
to find a solution to that issue.”
The looming crisis comes at a time when the local authority is burdened with
financial problems, which it claims are a result of huge unpaid debts by
residents, government and industry.
Masunda said it was time the local authority changed its thinking and
started making use of local resources for survival.
“We are alone and not getting any funding from the central government. So it
is important that we stop this reliance on other people’s tax money to
sustain us,” said Masunda.
Harare has been experiencing water shortages for the past decade with some
areas such as Mabvuku having gone for years without a drop.
The problem has been worsened by continued power cuts and low revenue being
collected by the local authority.
Residents groups have described the continued water situation as
unacceptable. They argue that the city cannot force residents to pay
exorbitant charges for water that is unavailable for most of the time.
“Council should focus on improving service delivery as opposed to enjoying
the salaries which are coming from rate payers for no service delivered.
We are warning them that we need better water and good roads,” said
Simbarashe Moyo of the Combined Harare Residents Association.
Harare Residents Trust coordinator Precious Shumba said the local authority
should start looking for other revenue sources rather than rely solely on
“The City of Harare should devise new ways of raising revenue in order to
pay its huge workforce than continue to expect residents of Harare to fund
their huge salaries and administration bill, yet service delivery remains
depressed,” said Shumba.
Posted Friday, May 20 2011 at 20:11
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has rejected security sector reforms as
proposed by his partners in the inclusive government, saying the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces (ZDF) was an exemplary and reputable force.
Mr Mugabe termed the proposals “nonsensical” and motivated by ignorance of
the operations of the defence forces by the two MDC factions led by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry minister Welshman Ncube.
“It is nonsense. Our security forces are well-established, they are
reputable,” Mr Mugabe said in an interview with The Herald published
newspaper, The Southern Times.
The President, who is also the commander in chief of the ZDF, said the unit
did not need any transformation as it had successfully fought colonialism
and had been the vanguard of local independence for the past 31 years.
“What reform is required? They are a force that has a history, a political
history. I am Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces; I know how they are
organised,” he said, adding that the ZDF was an acclaimed unit that had
earned the respect of the UN. (Xinhua)
By Lance Guma
20 May 2011
Education Minister David Coltart has revealed that each child in Zimbabwe
has been allocated just under US$2 per month in the budget towards their
education. Coltart made the shocking revelation on Tuesday during an Open
Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) roundtable discussion.
The figure represents a slight improvement on the US$1 per child, previously
cited by the minister last year, but will do little to pacify critics who
point to government leaders and ministers blowing tens of millions of
dollars on foreign trips.
Last month Finance Minister Tendai Biti warned that foreign trips by Mugabe
to Asia for medical treatment, plus trips by ministers, may blow up to US$50
million this year alone if they are not curbed.
“The situation is out of hand. It’s alarming. It’s frightening. It’s
criminal that you can spend $12.5 million on travelling and you can’t put
that money either into health or education,” he said. Biti was referring to
the US$12 million reportedly used by Mugabe, just for his Asian trips. Last
year’s travel bill was US$28 million.
In the first two decades after independence between US$4 to US$6 was
allocated per child for textbooks and other expenses, but years of
corruption and mismanagement under the ZANU PF regime has seen that figure
Coltart appealed to the international community to support the struggling
education sector, arguing that such support would not prop up the regime
responsible for gross human rights abuses but would instead be an investment
in the future and help the transition.
Meanwhile the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has slammed
the chasing away from school of children who have failed to pay their fees.
Since Tuesday numerous schools in the city have been sending children home,
contrary to the announced government policy.
Coltart has repeatedly said school authorities should not disrupt children’s
education for failing to raise fees, but headmasters claim they have not
received this instruction in writing. Roderick Fayayo from the BPRA told SW
Radio Africa that there was a clear disconnect between statements by Coltart
and the reality on the ground.
The BPRA has even claimed some children are being “chased away from school
for non-payment of teachers’ incentives.”
By Reagan Mashavave, Staff Writer
Friday, 20 May 2011 16:03
HARARE - Close to 700 constitution-making process officials have squandered
US$4 million-plus while camped at expensive hotels during the past two
weeks, the Daily News can reveal.
The officials booked into several Harare hotels since May 02 ostensibly to
analyse data collected at more than 4 500 outreach meetings held last year.
However, they have been haggling over petty issues at the expense of process
that is key in laying the foundation for credible future elections in
Paul Mangwana, the Zanu PF Copac joint chairperson, confirmed that the
constitutional-making process was an absolute waste of resources because of
continued haggling and bickering, which hampered progress.
“We reviewed our work yesterday (Wednesday), and identified our challenges.
We lost a lot of time when we had disagreements. That chewed our resources,”
“We had 10-11 people sharing a computer and most of the time these people
will be arguing. We decided to streamline our staff because some of the
people didn’t have the skills in using computers” he said.
Mangwana said he could not guarantee that further disagreement could
harmstring the exercise in future.
Yesterday – after negotiating modalities to proceed with the process – main
parties to the project agreed to trim the number of officials by almost
The delayed process will then start afresh on Monday requiring more money,
according to top sources within the Constitution Select Committee.
The parties, Zanu PF and the two MDC formations, agreed to chop the deadwood
and discard officials that were not adding value to the process.
Most of the officials, including some MPs, were so illiterate that they
lacked basic knowledge in using computers yet were part of a highly
But that was after they had already squandered taxpayers and donor money
painstakingly poured into the process, which has often suffered delays
because of lack of funding.
Resources were wasted in hotel accommodation, daily allowances, lunches and
transport fees for the 676 officials. Only 350 will remain.
The exercise has been extended by another fortnight, according to Edward
Mkhosi, joint Copac chair.
Copac in the last two weeks forked out between $120 to $130 in accommodation
fees at hotels such as Meikles, Rainbow Towers, Cresta Oasis and Holiday Inn
Officials received lunch worth $27 daily at the Rainbow Towers.
Daily allowances for the officials were: $100 for rapporteurs, team members
$80, team leaders $100 and technical officers or researchers $150 each.
All the staff got transport fees with legislators getting fuel allowances to
and from their constituencies. Ordinary members were given transport
allowances ranging between $30 to $50 for those from outside Harare.
Harare delegates were given $10 each.
“We spend slightly over $4.2 million in the past 16 days. Absolutely nothing
took place in all these days. We are going to start from scratch,” a source
said. “The three parties will submit the names of the people to remain in
the exercise tomorrow. We are expecting to start on Monday.”
The three parties’ major disagreement was on the methodology to be used by
the thematic committees.
Zanu PF preferred to use quantitative methods while the two MDC formations
demanded the use of qualitative methods.
The parties eventually agreed to use both methods but could not proceed
because of other disagreements.
“Most of the time people spent time arguing and waffling over nothing. At
one time we spent about three days not agreeing on the methodology that we
were going to use,” Mkhosi said.
As the Daily News was speaking to Mangwana, Zanu PF members were taking
aptitude tests to screen the illiterate ones. Copac in January requested
over $6 million to complete the constitution-making process.
In March treasury reportedly released $5 million dollars after the exercise
had been delayed by over two months.
Commercial Farmers Union Agricultural Recovery and Compensation manager Ben
Gilpin said his organization will channel the food packages to the farmers
who are mostly over the age of 65, have no source of income and are no
longer able to work
Gibbs Dube | Washington 19 May 2011
Millions of Zimbabweans have received food aid over the past decade as the
country's agricultural sector collapsed under the impact of a chaotic land
reform program, but now South African churches are collecting food to send
to what might seem an unlikely group of recipients: aging white commercial
farmers left destitute in the process.
Commercial Farmers Union Agricultural Recovery and Compensation manager Ben
Gilpin said his organization will channel the food packages to the farmers
who are mostly over the age of 65, have no source of income and are no
longer able to work.
The union will also urge the British government, which has scaled back such
assistance, to step it up again, and ask the Zimbabwean government to lend a
Gilpin said former commercial farmers receiving such aid lost their
financial assets in the seizure of their farms, saw their savings wiped out
by the hyperinflation that ravaged the Zimbabwean economy through early
2009, and have no pensions.
He said some farmers sunk large amounts into farm improvements only to be
driven off their farms by liberation war veterans and other supporters of
President Robert Mugabe who launched land reform in 2000. Most large farms
ended up in the hands of senior officials of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party -
Mr. Mugabe's own family holds several.
Development worker Liberty Bhebhe said food handouts from South African
churches should also go to the thousands who lost their livelihoods as a
result of land reform.
“We understand that the General Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union is
currently assessing the needs of ex-farm workers who also need help in terms
of food aid and other basic necessities,” Bhebhe told VOA Studio 7 reporter
A former member of Robert Mugabe's feared secret police in Zimbabwe who
admitted kidnapping dozens of his political rivals and carrying out acts of
torture "too gruesome to recount" has been granted asylum in the UK under
European human rights legislation.
By Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg 12:19PM BST 20 May 2011
Phillip Machemedze, 46, came to the UK in 2000 along with his wife because
he had "enough of the torture", but waited eight years to apply for leave to
He was originally turned down by the Home Office in March this year because
he had committed crimes against humanity.
But on May 4, he was granted asylum on appeal under European human rights
laws because a tribunal ruled he would be killed by his former Central
Intelligence Organisation colleagues if he returned to Zimbabwe.
According to sources close to the case, he and his wife are living on social
support benefits in Newport, south Wales.
An estimated 800 people were kidnapped or disappeared, 80 were killed and 90
more tortured in the run-up to the 2000 elections in Zimbabwe, which saw
Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF beat the rival Movement for Democratic Change party
by a slim majority.
The CIO, along with the police and armed forces, was widely blamed for the
worst of the violence – and there are fears that it could be preparing
another crackdown ahead of elections planned within the next year.
Mr Machemedze spent four years in the CIO and admits smashing the jaw of an
MDC activist with pliers before pulling out his tooth and stripping another
naked and threatening to force him to rape his daughters if he did not give
He also confessed to electrocuting, slapping, beating and punching "to the
point of being unconscious" a white farmer suspected of giving money to the
MDC, and to "putting salt into the wounds" of a female MDC member who
imprisoned in an underground cell before being stripped naked and whipped.
But he claims he tried to leave the CIO and was supplying information to the
MDC. He said his wife was tortured after he left the country, prompting her
to leave behind their three children and follow her husband to the UK.
Mr Justice David Archer, of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber in Newport,
said there was no doubt that Mr Machemedze was "deeply involved in savage
acts of extreme violence".
"Some were killed slowly and their bodies disposed of. He witnessed people
with their limbs cut off. Other acts of torture were too gruesome to
recount," he said.
But he said that under the European Human Rights Convention, he himself
should be protected from torture and threats to his life.
"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," he ruled.
The Home Office has said it will not appeal the ruling.
by Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has dismissed claims that he is protecting Deputy
Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara who is clinging onto power despite being
deposed as leader of his party.
Mutambara, then leader of the MDC, was appointed deputy prime minister in
2009 at the establishment of the coalition government.
But Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, insists Mutambara must
now relinquish the post after standing down as party leader at a congress
held in January this year.
However, President Mugabe has refused to have the MDC leadership changes
reflected in government in changes that would see Ncube taking over as
deputy prime minister.
Mugabe maintains he is not refusing to recognise Ncube as the leader of the
MDC and says he has held lengthy meetings with him over the issue.
“We have not refused to recognize Welshman Ncube as president of the party
(and) we have not protected anyone in any way,” Mugabe said in an interview
with a regional newspaper.
“Mutambara … himself says firstly, that there was an agreement between him
and Ncube that should there be a change at the congress, that change would
not affect the principals and he would continue (as deputy prime minister).”
Mugabe also said his hands were tied as the matter was before the courts.
A faction of the MDC led by its former national chairman is challenging in
court the legality of the leadership changes made at the January congress.
Mugabe said the dispute was unfortunate but insisted he would abide by the
decisions of the courts.
“We also feel that the change is unfortunate in that he is the man they gave
to us, with whom we have signed signatures, we have sown seeds, and the
fathering of the GPA was with him,” he said.
“So, to unravel that is an unfortunate thing. But if they succeed in their
quest to have him dropped, we cannot contest the decision of the court.”
May 20th, 2011
CNN Correspondent, Robyn Curnow
When you buy a 50 cent newspaper in Zimbabwe, you don’t receive change in
coins. Instead, you get a small, round, grey token, which you redeem at the
same newspaper vendor when you buy from him another day.
When your supermarket bill is rung up and the total is $5.21 the cashier
offers you some sweets to make up the 69 cents change difference.
When you buy a pizza or a burger at a Harare fast-food center, your change
is a thin paper voucher, which you’d better cash in quickly because within
days the ink has rubbed off in your wallet. All you are left with is a grimy
blank piece of paper.
When you hop off a local minibus taxi be sure get your change from the
driver. Sometimes he hands it over, other times he rounds up the cost of
trip, leaving passengers shortchanged. Mostly, he hands over a dollar note
to two strangers exiting his taxi at the same place – telling them they have
to divide the change.
Sometimes, frustrated, poor commuters come to blows on the side of the road
over how to split taxi-fare change.
Taxi passengers – like shoppers and newspaper vendors – can’t receive their
change because there are no coins in Zimbabwe. The smallest denomination is
a $1 U.S. note.
The country adopted the U.S. dollar two years ago after the collapse of the
Zim dollar. Since then, rampant, record inflation has stabilized but the
realities on the streets indicate there are still very challenging economic
realities for Zimbabweans.
Firstly, the price of produce and goods has become more expensive because
the country now has to import most foodstuffs. A chicken at a supermarket
costs around $10 U.S.
Secondly, because there are no coins, many shops and restaurants
automatically round up the price of their goods and services – so ordinary
Zimbabweans find themselves footing the bill for an ad hoc “change tax.”
Zimbabweans say proudly that they are a resilient people, that they survived
even tougher economic times in the past decade. Indeed, that seems true
because from what I have witnessed this week on the streets of Harare, they
seem to have stoically adapted to an economy that is run on dollars and
sweets, not dollars and cents.
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/20/2011 11:35 -0400
A week ago we presented the idea floated by once hyperinflationary Zimbabwe,
oddly jeered by most, that the country is seeking to move to a gold-backed
currency, adding, somewhat surrealistically, that the "days of the US dollar
as the world's reserve currency are numbered." And if anyone should know a
hyperinflationary basket case, it's Zimbabwe. Well, today this bizarre story
just went fuller retard, after the country announced that it may exchange
diamonds for gold "so that it can have a gold-backed currency, according to
a recent proposal from the governor of Zimbabwe’s central bank." Indeed we
speculated previously why: "Zimbabwe, a country rich in natural resources,
took so long to figure out that it was nothing but a puppet in the hands of
western monetary interests." Well, others are now getting this idea -
Commodity Online reports that "The country is a resource hub: It sits on
gold reserves worth trillions. It has the world’s second largest reserves of
platinum, has got alluvial diamonds that can fetch the nation $2 billion
annually and even boasts of chrome and coal deposits." And since Zimbabwe is
now fully on board this whole "pioneering" thing perhaps it should just go
ahead and create the first diamond-platinum backed currency. Just don't give
China and Russia ideas about floating a new reserve currency that actually
has real commodity backing. What's that, you say? They are launching one
soon? Oh well.
From Commodity Online:
The Zimbabwean dollar is no longer in active use after it was officially
suspended by the government due to hyperinflation. The United States dollar,
South African rand, Botswanan pula, Pound sterling, and Euro are now used
instead. The US dollar has been adopted as the official currency for all
government transactions with the new power-sharing regime, says Wikipedia.
But the central bank of Zimbabwe—Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)—believes
that the US dollar is no longer stable.
According to Dr Gideon Gono, RBZ Chief, the inflationary effects of
United States’ deficit financing of its budget may impact foreign countries
and would lead to a resistance of the green back as a base currency; cited
Writing in a blog in New Zimbabwe, Gilbert Muponda, an entrepreneur
based out of Zimbabwe has welcomed the proposal of a gold-backed Zimbabwean
currency. He has applauded the proposal of the central bank governor to sell
diamonds for gold.
On the other hand, for the country to move to some semblance of a gold
standard, it may wish to consider shifting form a despotic dictatorship
controlled by Robert Mugabe to something a little less "centrally planned."
The government’s protectionist measures have kept the mining companies
at bay. The government wants the foreign miners to sell controlling stake in
ventures to local blacks, which is obviously frowned up on by all. The
companies, given the uncertain situation, have refrained from investing
further in expansion activities in Zimbabwe.
The country cannot access foreign credit as the ZIDERA Act passed by the
United States in 2001 blocks US entities from trading with certain
Zimbabwean institutions and individuals This has forced the US
representatives in lending agencies like World Bank, IMF, IFC, and ADB to
take a favorable stance when it comes to Zimbabwean credit requests.
That said, where there's a will there's a way. And since this story refuses
to go away, it probably means that Zimbabwe will definitely give it the old
college try. Once again, the question is not what happens in Zimbabwe, but
elsewhere, should the experiment prove to be even remotely successful.
News - Africa news
Zimbabwe-Diamond Institute - The Braitwood Institute of Gemology, a diamond
cutting and polishing school based in Harare, is set to open two additional
schools in Bulawayo and Mutare before year-end. Braitwood group chief
executive officer Mr Bernard Mutanga said the opening of the two schools was
part of the institute's plans to spread its wings all over the country and
accommodate more students who want to study diamond cutting and polishing.
"We opened our learning centre in Harare last year with the co-operation of
MMCZ and due to the demand of such institutes we have decided to open other
centres in the two major cities by September," he said.
"We felt that it is better to equip the youths in Zimbabwe so that they
learn about the uniqueness of local diamonds and be able to distinguish them
from those found in other countries. The institute is keen on equipping
youths with skills that they can use to get jobs," he said.
Mr Mutanga said they were working with the Minerals Marketing Corporation of
Zimbabwe in their training programmes.
According to Mr Mutanga students who enroll at the institute would be
equipped with diamond cutting and polishing skills that would maximise gem
quality and value.
"Raw forms of the gem are less valuable than the finished product and it is
imperative that the country acquires skills to cut a comprehensive
competitive product that would be well received in the market," he said.
He added that students would also receive diamond-grading skills, as gems
have to be classified into different grades after they have been worked on.
Mr Mutanga said there are four factors that affected diamond value and they
comprised the carat, colour, cut and clarity of the stone and students need
to be taught the importance of each factor.
"Such centres are vital to the country's economic growth as they create
employment while adding value to products. Our aim is to train entrepreneurs
who, after acquiring their certificates, would go on to establish other
centres and employ other people.
"For every unpolished carat that is exported, the country is losing 10 hours
of labour. Once we have trained the youths all those jobs that we are
exporting to India will benefit our own people," he related.
Mr Mutanga said in future they expect to have at least five classes in
Harare of students +/-200 and expanding their enrollment to three intakes
The classes are divided into two sections that of rough diamond cutting
evaluation and diamond cutting and polishing.
On the whole, it takes three years to complete the course including
ALAN MARTIN: BLOOD DIAMONDS May 20 2011 17:31
Why is South Africa enabling corrupt and thuggish elements of Zimbabwe's
government to benefit from ill-gotten diamond revenues? The question is
being asked after South Africa snubbed a recent emergency meeting in Dubai
of the Kimberley Process, the initiative that regulates the trade in the
world's rough diamonds and ensures they are "conflict free".
Zimbabwe has since rejected the agreement reached there in April.
The meeting was called to find a way forward on regularising diamond
production in Marange in eastern Zimbabwe, where state-sponsored human
rights abuses and smuggling have been rampant since 2007. Late last year
legal exports of Marange diamonds were restricted because of a lack of
consensus within the Kimberley Process in measuring Zimbabwe's progress in
meeting agreed benchmarks.
South Africa's absence from Dubai was a departure from its past role as an
anchor nation of the Kimberley Process, including having chaired it in 2003.
Its absence was also sharply at odds with its rebuke of Zanu-PF at the
recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Livingstone.
There President Jacob Zuma's tough position was informed by some hard
truths: Zanu-PF's failure to keep its side of the global political agreement
that underpins the national unity government, increasing evidence of Zanu-PF
leading the intimidation and attacks on the opposition, and a concern shared
with other SADC countries that, if left unchecked, Zanu-PF's lawlessness
could spill over Zimbabwe's borders.
Diamonds underlie much of Zanu-PF's misbehaviour. The finance ministry is
now controlled by the Movement for Democratic Change so Zanu-PF found a
game-changer in Marange -- it provides riches to a coterie of military and
political insiders with which they can fund off-budget activities such as
intimidating political opponents.
Hence the disconnection in South Africa's diplomatic logic. It criticises
Zanu-PF's misdeeds but looks the other way when it comes to what fuels much
of that behaviour.
Perhaps one reason for this is that South Africa's Kimberley Process
representation has been politicised. South Africa was represented by civil
servants from the department of international relations until earlier this
year when they were replaced by Susan Shabangu, the minister of mining. She
immediately took to parroting her Zimbabwean counterpart, Obert Mpofu. Both
insist that diamond production in Marange has been deemed compliant with the
"minimum requirements" of the Kimberley Process and should be given the
green light for export.
The result has been to confuse South Africa's message and diminish its
resolve to rein in Zanu-PF -- Zuma's facilitation team reads them the riot
act, Shabangu offers them a tissue and sympathetic words of encouragement.
Shabangu's defence of Zanu-PF's operations in Marange is also a selective
interpretation of the facts. A Kimberley Process review mission last August
did find evidence of some progress (notably a drop in state-sponsored
violence against artisanal miners and improvements in the internal
operations of two South African companies in joint-venture agreements with
the Zimbabwe government) but it was far from a clean bill of health.
Military and police involvement in mining syndicates and smuggling remain a
serious problem. The compliance of one of the joint ventures, Canadile, was
also thrown into doubt late last year after it imploded amid allegations of
corruption involving Mpofu and many of the company's directors. Compounding
matters were revelations by Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's finance minister, that
as much as $300-million in diamond revenues failed to make their way to
government coffers in 2010.
Which brings us back to efforts to regularise mining activity in Marange.
One Zimbabwean told Partnership Africa Canada during a recent visit there:
"The poachers are in charge of the zoo. Unless the Kimberley Process gets
serious with Zim, its reputation will be destroyed and the entire African
diamond trade will go down the toilet."
Unlike other examples of rogue behaviour that the Kimberley Process has
faced, Marange is not just a matter of weak internal controls, corruption or
even violence in the diamond fields. Ultimately, it is a political problem
that demands a political answer. In this respect, the Kimberley Process
should not be the only, or even primary, vehicle to adjudicate the issue.
South Africa needs to step up its political engagement with Zimbabwe over
the matter. The parallels between the Kimberley Process and SADC's long,
frustrated experience with Zanu-PF are instructive. Left to its own devices
Zanu-PF will stall, obfuscate and do business as usual.
South Africa and SADC cannot ignore the tight link between Zanu-PF's
political behaviour and its control of Marange. South Africa cannot turn a
blind eye to the murky role its citizens are playing in Marange's joint
ventures and in smuggling. For Zuma, the stakes are high -- failing to
accept these realities will derail his new-found activist policy on Zimbabwe
before it gets away from the station.
Alan Martin is the director of research for Partnership Africa Canada, which
undertakes research and policy dialogue on natural resources, conflict,
governance and human rights. In 2003 it was co-nominated for the Nobel Peace
Prize for its work in exposing links between conflict and diamonds in
several African countries
By Tererai Karimakwenda
20 May, 2011
Church officials at the Vatican have been strongly criticized for the warm
welcome they extended to Robert Mugabe when he attended the beatification
service of the late Pope John Paul II.
Mugabe travelled to Rome for the ceremony on May 1st and was seen on
television being happily welcomed by Vatican clergy. An editorial in the
latest edition of the Southern Cross (a Catholic publication) said;
"Zimbabwe's bishops have been undermined and the faithful have been
scandalized. Now that damage requires correction."
Editor of the publication, Gunther Simmermacher, defended the Vatican for
allowing Mugabe to take communion at the ceremony but stressed that the warm
embrace given to him did undermine bishops in Zimbabwe, whom Mugabe has
Simmermarcher wrote that televised images of “the tyrant being warmly
embraced by a broadly smiling prelate was embarrassing for the courageous
bishops of Zimbabwe, and to the clergy, religious and laity who strive for a
peaceful transition to an equitable and accountable democracy."
The editor has said he was compelled to do something after receiving
passionate letters from Catholics who were “upset, hurt, confused and
scandalized” by Mugabe’s Vatican visit and the welcome he received.
One such letter talked of reading the reports "with such utter disgust that
my 54 years as a practicing Catholic have been ripped from within me, and I
do not know what to believe anymore."
Father Nigel Johnson, based in Zimbabwe, spoke to SW Radio Africa and said;
“For the past 20 years all sorts of people have floated the idea of
ex-communicating Mugabe”. Ex-communication would mean that Mugabe would no
longer be able to receive communion or be allowed to be buried in a Catholic
cemetery. But more importantly it would send a very strong message to Mugabe
that his actions were considered completely unacceptable.
Officials at the Vatican are fully aware of the horrific crimes that have
been perpetrated by the Mugabe regime over the years. Catholic clergy in the
country, including Father Oskar Wermter and former Matabeleland Archbishop
Pius Ncube have been outspoken critics of the Mugabe regime. And it was the
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace that produced the detailed report
on the Gukurahundi atrocities of the mid-eighties.
The church’s mandate to welcome all sinners, including murderers and
dictators, has been defended even by those who were upset by Mugabe’s visit.
But it is the level of warmth that was shown to the ZANU PF leader that has
been of great concern. Observers have said this sends the wrong message to
May 20th, 2011
Six members, all women, were arrested along Khami Road in Bulawayo and detained at Western Commonage police station between 8 and 9pm Wednesday. The women are from Iminyela and Pelandaba suburbs. The members were arrested by police officers who accused them of painting messages on the road. The messages read- ‘power to poor people’ ; ‘no lengthy load shedding’ ; ‘prepaid meters now!’; focus on the electricity crisis in Zimbabwe.
WOZA fear torture of members, 14 members were tortured while in custody in March 2011. This morning, food brought by relatives and lawyers access was denied by Assistant Inspector Purazeni, the officer-in-charge at Western Commonage police station whose officers arrested the six, he is said to have indicated that the orders came from above.
Please help save our activists from torture by calling +263 9 403996 up to 8 speak to Assistant Inspector Purazeni, the officer-in-charge at Western Commonage police station or call the Law and Order Dept on +263 9 72515. Please remind them to conform to international standards of detention and ask them to allow WOZA members to lobby for and power for all to enjoy.
WOZA, a women’s movement identify electricity supply as directly targeting the role of a woman in the home. As a result WOZA have lobbied the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) for close on 5 years to provide an affordable and regular service. A multi faceted protest strategy is used peacefully targeting local and city based company officials.
These arrests follow a 10th May protest to the Bulawayo electricity power station to launched a 6 week ‘Power to Poor People’ Campaign to ‘discipline’ the ZETDC for its daylight robbery to consumers. Members are also continuing to engage suburban office of the power company with consumer deputations to deliver ‘yellow cards’ with their demands. The campaign demands are:
The campaign includes obtaining signatures to a petition dubbed the ‘Anti Abuse of Power’ Petition; completing of a time sheet of power cuts and the delivering of a ‘yellow card’ to the company. WOZA has campaigned for affordable and available electricity since 2006 with its ‘power to the people’ campaigns. In response to a campaign demand the company have just advertise power cut schedules but have indicated that there will be longer cuts as this is winter in Zimbabwe.
By Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, 20/05/11
When SADC leaders eventually discuss the Zimbabwe crisis sometime in June,
it is hoped they will tackle the issue of citizenship and nationality
because the new constitution seems a pipe dream at the moment. For instance,
do SADC leaders know that Mugabe scorns descendents of foreign nationals as
‘totem-less aliens’ and denies them the right to vote?
Mugabe told a rally in Bindura in 2000 that people from Mbare were
totem-less elements of alien origin and accused them of supporting the
opposition MDC. After the rejection of the new constitution in the
referendum held in 2000, thousands of displaced farm labourers were made
destitute if they survived the brutal assaults, rapes and murders.
Others were forced to leave the country having lost their citizenship thanks
to Zanu-pf which paradoxically propounds a Pan-African, liberation ideology.
Ironically some of the people who were once branded “sell-outs” and
“totem-less aliens” are now singing Zanu-pf’ praises through Mbare
Chimurenga Choir (Zimbabwe Standard, 29/01/11). Probably that is what
encourages Mugabe to use political blackmail against his opponents.
However, Mugabe’s insensitive remarks did not go down well with some people.
For example a reader’s email published by The Zimbabwe Standard’s Wood
Pecker in 2005 summed the anger:
“I am sure you recollect a few years ago our President castigating the
urbanites for supporting the MDC. He used the now infamous term ‘totemless
people from Mbare’. I was hurt as I am of Mozambican origin. I know my
fellow totemless people from Zambia and Mozambique were hurt taking into
account the sacrifices made by them in support of the liberation of
“I was taken aback when I heard that the President has a nephew called
‘Patrick Zhuwao’. Zhuwao, by any stretch of imagination, cannot be of
Zimbabwean origin. I wonder how Patrick Zhuwao felt when the President
insulted all Zimbabweans of foreign origin” (www. thestandard.co.zw,
Totemless nephews and dogs of war, 21/02/05).
The marginalisation of farm workers comprising mainly Malawian, Zambian and
Mozambican immigrants and their descendents has been well documented for
instance by Blair Rutherford in Amanda Hammar, Brian Raftopoulos & Stig
Jensen’s Zimbabwe’s Unfinished Business (2003).
In a review of the book, Dr James Muzondiya says Blair Rutherford argues for
a different kind of imagination of farm workers and discourse of citizenship
and nationality which allows their full incorporation into the post-colonial
nation state and increases their access to jobs, education, land and other
SADC leaders are expected not to marginalise farm workers and the urban poor
of Epworth, Porta Farm and so on during their deliberations on Zimbabwe’s
future because they also need a decent future.
Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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1. Cathy Buckle - Don't use the lifts
2. Letter from Annette Croshaw
3. In response to Sarah - Australia
1. Cathy Buckle - Don't use the lifts
Walking out in the early mornings there are two things you can almost
guarantee this winter. One is the delicate, rosy-pink glow at sunrise,
announced by the voices of scores of roosters all over the neighbourhood.
The other is the thin blue spirals of wood smoke that rise from cooking
fires in all directions and fill the dawn air.
Yet again winter has bought gruelling power cuts back to Zimbabwe making
marathons out of the smallest of chores. It's always the Mum's that carry
the heaviest burden and you don't have to go far to see the proof. Looking
out of a small prefabricated wooden cabin I caught a glimpse of a young
teenage girl and her Mum one morning this week. It was a cold morning and a
thick blanket of white mist was lying in the nearby vlei and across the
grassland, waiting to be dissolved by the sun. Through the open door of the
cabin I could see that the place was full of smoke and Mum was bending into
the flames stirring the contents of a pot. The door and walls of the cabin
were covered in black soot and the girl emerged from the smoke to pick up a
few branches of firewood that were stacked in a pile outside. It was a
little after six in the morning but already the girl was dressed for school,
a bright green uniform, brown shoes and a thin green jersey. After
breakfast, cooked on a smoky little fire eaten in a smoke filled room, she
would set out on her walk to school and later, when she got home, she would
undoubtedly have to go and help her Mum collect more firewood and carry it
Every afternoon lines of women and girls trudge out of the bush with huge
piles of sticks and branches on their heads, balanced on a small cloth ring.
It's not from choice they do this but from necessity. From little wooden
cabins to big brick houses and blocks of high density flats - all have the
same struggle with cooking food and heating water. Visiting a friend in an
upmarket Clinic in Harare this week, I noticed a sign stuck onto the silver
doors of the lift. "Due to erratic power supply, we advise you not to use
the lifts to avoid the risk of getting stuck."
When a couple of thousand women in Bulawayo tried to protest to electricity
supplier ZESA , they were met with a brutal response from riot police. WOZA
estimated that 40 women, unarmed and singing, were beaten by riot police
when they tried to present a yellow card (a football warning) to ZESA and
tell them to improve their services. WOZA were asking for fair load
shedding, an end to 18 power cuts, transparent billing and pre-paid meters.
' No more luxury cars, we need transformers ' they said. Undaunted by the
truncheons of police whose wives, mothers and daughters also go out and
collect firewood and cook over smoky fires, WOZA have promised to continue
their campaign until their demands are met. The main one being: "ZERO
service, ZERO bill." A slogan that could as well apply to any number of
other parastatals and municipal councils around the country.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love Cathy
2. Letter from Annette Croshaw
I read with great interest the letters 3 & 4, wishing to express my opinion
as well as expressed by Sarah! Perhaps you could forward my two pennies
worth to her.
We were evicted in 2002, when it happened I asked my husband whether we stay
and fight and risk the possibility of being murdered or do we give up the
fight and leave. Having three young daughters we decided it was not worth
the risk, so we decided to leave Zimbabwe, realising that there was no
support or protection for us from anyone, including the CFU. In fact we left
whilst our fellow farmers turned their heads, I guess no one knew what to
say or do - this is probably what happened to most of us....
I know there was an element of rule and divide at the time and the object of
the exercise was to let some farmers stay and continue and kick others out
and tell them to go 'back to where you come from'. As a white African you
don't have a home to go to - except your African home where we were being
chased from..... Over the years we have heard of farmers who suffered the
same fate as most of us and decided to leave.
On the social net work site some farmers that were 'lucky' to have stayed
have post beautiful photos of their current bumper corps for all of us
unfortunate farmers, who were evicted from our beautiful productive farms,
to see. I questioned this and said it seemed bizarre that from all the
mayhem we have been through, having lost our businesses and homes and in
some instances where friends and family have died through the stress of
being evicted, that these fortunate people are carrying on as if nothing has
happened! It is so very strange. Further comments to mine, from other
evicted farmers, were "wow! fantastic to see you are doing so well,
beautiful crops, good luck with the harvest!!!!" I was gob-smacked!! Was I
the only one to notice the strangeness of it all and perhaps feel a little
upset that we have lost everything and will probably be destitute in our old
age as we have nothing to fall back on?
The remark to my little comment was 'We kept a low profile!!!!' I cannot
believe it, when the farm in question was right on the main road for all to
see just outside our town where we lived! It sticks out like a sore thumb!!!
I thought I was the only evicted white farmer who is a LITTLE annoyed with
the insensitive photos of the elite Zimbabwe farmers who are allowed to
continue farming with absolutely no issues other than electricity cuts!!! -
showing off their success with their family, smiling happily at the camera.
A couple of questions:
Am I being stupid and paranoid about this?
Am I only the third person to have the guts to vent my irritation!
Are we allowed to vent our opinions or is it also politically incorrect as
it is all over the world if you are a white European!!!
It is just as hard here in the UK to earn a living after spending all my
life on the farm in Zimbabwe, I was the product of the English, Dutch and
Portuguese settlers who sailed to the Cape of Good Hope (I think they need
to change that name). It is a different culture, it is a different job, a
total life change as so many of us have had to face!! Some who left Africa
have not settled very well and are struggling to block out the past. And
then we see pictures that could have been taken 10/15 years ago. We dried
our tears and carry on the best we can but please, a message for those still
doing well on their farms, do not rub salt into the wounds of our
One other thing, I don't, for one minute apologise for what I have written
and how I feel - I am tired of being told to be politically correct and mind
what I say. I don't care two hoots for those who do not like it, and for
those who greased their way into staying on the farms - it is immoral.
Perhaps they need to be named and shamed, and I don't think we will be at
FYI. Our farm is being abandoned by the occupier because he says it is not a
productive farm. He has been told by his wife to return to the farm they
bought which she is farming. My husband was one of the best tobacco farmers
in the country year after year and also a good cattle producer on that very
farm. I am speaking on his behalf.....
This letter to you is not necessarily intended for publication, because it
is probably not savoury to the general public as Kathy Buckle's is. I just
thought I would get on the 'band wagon' and vent my frustration in true
African style but by all means forward it to Sarah and send her my best
wishes and I hope her and her family are doing OK in Australia.
Alias: Dry your tears and get on with it...............................
3. In response to Sarah - Australia
It must be pretty nice to have had the bux to be able to settle in Aus after
losing your farm. What about the poor ex farmers who couldn't do that
(excluding the main mannas you were talking about). Some farmers have had
to make a deal with the "new owners" to be able to feed their families and
send them to school. Not all of us who have been looted, lost farms and
threatened with death can watch from a safe distance!! So, have some grace
to those who are less fortunate than you and have no options! Patronage!
What a joke - it's survival!!
Ex looted, defarmed and surviving
4. Letter from Sarah - Australia
Dear "Ex looted, defarmed and surviving
Firstly, let me assure you, our family didn't have the 'bux' to relocate to
Australia. We had to beg and borrow to get here, especially so on the back
of paying out our workers extortionate severance packages. Our relocation
to Australia was not a matter of choice but necessity with kids to educate
and we were fortunate to have the required marketable skills.
Secondly, no one can severely criticize anyone who makes a plan to stay on
their own properties where that plan is confined to a deal exclusive to that
property. But, where such deals extend beyond the boundaries of one's
property and displaced neighbours rights are infringed, this is another
matter altogether and not only immoral but also illegal, especially in the
light of those farmers not having been compensated a cent for their life's
The real issue here though is, where people in leadership positions in
farming organizations have through paying homage to and through patronage
from the regime, feathered their nests and expanded their farming operations
at the expense of those who have been sacrificed and lost their properties
in the process. This is a MAJOR issue for those of us who have been
displaced and rendered destitute.
I sincerely hope that the President of the CFU comprehensively addresses the
numerous issues that arise out of "Cautious and Conservatives" excellent
letter that raised similar concerns to mine, but dealt with them more
5. Letter from Roland Klug
I was farming in the Headlands area.
I remember the CFU coming to a farmers meeting and telling us we had to form
a farm identification committee for the government to acquire farms. It has
been troubling me, we as farmers were supposedly paying the CFU's bills but
they wanted us to point out farmers who should lose their homes and
businesses. Why didn't the CFU ask us to rather form farm protection
committees? Let the government identify the farms and let the farm
protection committees fight in our corner. I was unhappy about them.
I believe since then there are ex- farmers like me who have a deep mistrust
of the CFU. Now with the stories of ex and current members of CFU still
farming I believe now is the time ALL who are paying subs etc to the CFU
should stop. CFU is behaving no better then the Zanu-pf government.
How is the CFU managing to stay afloat? Who is funding them? I know I am not
and I never will again!! I ask myself this, was CFU ever on the farmers
side? I don't like what my answer is. What other organisation doesn't
support the very people who pay their bills, unless the bills were been paid
by an outside source.
When the elections used to come and if ever a minister said anything about
the farmers supporting the opposition the CFU always gave answers that we as
farmers were supporting Zanu even when Zanu said they will be taking the
farmers!! Why didn't they answer not supporting Zanu because of Zanu's land
Sorry for my rant
All letters published on the Open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
May 20, 2011, 10:50 am
Is it too much to hope that Zanu PF – locked into the past as its leader and
its members are – can learn anything from events in other parts of the
Acknowledging the bloody history between their two countries on her historic
visit to Ireland this week, Queen Elizabeth 11 said we should “bow to the
past but not be bound by it”, adding that Ireland’s example gives hope to
other peace makers around the world.” In an eight minute speech, the Queen,
herself an octogenarian, showed that it is possible despite advancing years
to move away from the past and to understand, with head and heart, present
realities. Without denying the pain and suffering for both sides of the past
conflict, the Queen’s speech was a model of restraint and sincere humility
and for that she received a standing ovation from the gathering of Irish
dignitaries. From her very first words in Gaelic addressed directly to the
Irish Head of State, President Mary McAleese, the Queen demonstrated that
she is indeed a peacemaker. “There were things we could have done better and
things which with historical hindsight we might not have done at all.” After
her speech, the Irish papers and even the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams who
was opposed to the royal visit, had warm praise for her sincerity and open-
The comparison between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Mugabe is not intended to
convey the notion that - though he may think otherwise – the Zimbabwean
President is a royal personage entitled to an inherited royal prerogative.
As Morgan Tsvangirai remarked this week, Zanu PF does not have the ‘divine
right’ to rule Zimbabwe. I am no royalist myself but the Queen’s speech in
Dublin was everything one hopes Mugabe will one day bring himself to admit:
that the past is just that, past, and old enmities must be forgiven and
forgotten in the light of the new realities of a Government of National
Unity where, one hopes, the national good comes before narrow party
interests. Sadly, despite his apparent admiration for the British royal
family, there are no signs that Mugabe is about to embark on the path of
peace and reconciliation even though he has sent his emissaries around
Africa to convince fellow leaders that all is peace and stability in
Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s party has apparently sponsored a group of young Zanu PF
‘heavies’ to lobby the SADC Summit. Their stated intention is to disrupt
proceedings if the Summit attempts to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe and
in particular the land question. That may explain why fresh farm invasions
are going on even now. And in Bulawayo, a group of Zanu PF youths have once
again invaded and taken over a block of flats owned by an Indian family.
“Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans” the group told the Indian family. How many
times have we heard that in the past decade from Mugabe himself and his
fanatical followers? Strange how in Zanu PF’s racist ideology, a brown skin
or a white skin disqualify one from being Zimbabwean while oriental
colouring is perfectly acceptable – especially if it comes with very large
sums of cash. The Chinese are financing a new military intelligence HQ in
the Mazowe Valley at a cost of $ 98million we hear. Rumour or truth, no one
knows. With Zanu PF’s stranglehold on the media, it’s hard to differentiate.
Did Mugabe collapse on Tuesday evening, for instance, and was he revived by
his medical team? Is he being given regular injections of adrenalin just to
keep him alive? Or are these just stories dreamt up by journalists desperate
for news? One inevitable result of a media clampdown is the proliferation of
wildly exaggerated stories.
This Friday morning brings the news that President Zuma will not attend the
SADC Summit in Namibia and Zimbabwe will therefore be off the agenda.
Meanwhile Mugabe continues to insist that he will hold elections this year
using the combination of an utterly discredited Voters Roll and pre and
post-election violence that we saw in 2008. Yesterday saw CNN journalists
arrested in Harare for filming in the city and Woza women arrested in Byo
and detained for demonstrating about power shortages. Nothing changes or
will change in Zimbabwe while Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF continue to
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.
CONTENT SERIES 5/2011
[19th May 2011]
Executive Powers Part IV
In Part I of this series of Constitution Watches on Executive Powers, we set out the powers that can be exercised by the Executive and explained the need to restrain those powers. In Part II we dealt with restraints that can and should be imposed on the nature and extent of the powers. In Part III we dealt with restraints that can and should be imposed on the persons who exercise them. In this Part we shall go on to examine the restraints on the manner in which the powers are exercised.
Restraints on the way in which Executive powers are exercised
Although section 31H of the present Constitution states that the President has a duty to uphold the Constitution and the law, the Constitution does not develop this by specifying how the President should exercise his powers. Section 31K, indeed, provides that courts cannot enquire into the way in which the President has exercised his discretion, nor can they enquire into whether any advice was given to him. The new constitution should not contain a provision like section 31K. Executive decisions of Ministers, on the other hand, are generally subject to review by the courts and may be set aside if they contravene a statute or are grossly unreasonable or if the processes by which they have been arrived at are illegal or unfair.
Section 18(1a), which was inserted in the Constitution by Amendment No. 19, goes a little further by stating that “Every public officer [a term which includes the President and Ministers] has a duty towards every person in Zimbabwe to exercise his or her functions … in accordance with the law and to observe and uphold the rule of law.” This provision not only requires all public officers to observe the law, but seems to give all Zimbabweans a right to take legal action to ensure that they do so.
The new constitution should develop the idea behind section 18(1a) by specifying measures to ensure that all public officers observe the section and through which Zimbabweans can enforce their rights under the section. These could include the following (the first two are taken from the Law Society’s model constitution):
· A provision should be inserted in the Declaration of Rights guaranteeing Zimbabweans the right to administrative justice, including the right to be given reasons for all decisions affecting them, and requiring Parliament to enact a law that allows judicial review of all administrative decisions, including those made by the President.
· The mechanisms for enforcing the Declaration of Rights should be strengthened, by specifying that all courts (not just the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court) may issue orders protecting fundamental rights and freedoms and extending the classes of people who may apply for such orders to cover associations acting in the interests of their members and people acting in the public interest.
· Decisions of all public bodies, including the Cabinet, and parastatals should be published subject to safeguards to protect national security. If public officers know their decisions will be published they may take more care to ensure that the decisions are lawful.
· Parliamentary control over public expenditure should be strengthened:
· All Government expenditure and revenue should be subject to scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and should be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. At present some funds of the President’s Office are not scrutinised or audited. Such lack of accountability encourages unlawfulness.
· Government officials who delay submitting their accounts to the Public Accounts Committee or who are responsible for over-expenditure by their Ministries should be subject to automatic disciplinary action and possible dismissal.
· Parliament’s power to impeach members of the Executive should be extended. Under sections 29 and 31F of the present Constitution it requires a two-thirds majority of both the Senate and the House of Assembly to impeach the President or to pass a vote of no confidence in the Government. The new constitution should allow Parliament, by a simple majority, to pass a vote of no confidence in individual Ministers and require the President or Prime Minister to replace the Minister concerned if such a vote is passed. The new constitution should also reduce the majority needed for a vote of no confidence in the Government — a government that can no longer command a majority in Parliament should not remain in office.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied
CONTENT SERIES 4/2011
[19th May 2011]
Executive Powers Part III
In Part I of this Constitution Watch we set out the powers that can be exercised by the Executive and explained the need for restraints to be imposed on those powers; in Part II we dealt with restrictions on the nature and extent of those powers. In this Part we shall examine the restraints on those powers that may be directed specifically at the persons who constitute the Executive.
Restraints on the Persons who constitute the Executive
Regular, free and fair elections make President and Ministers accountable to the electorate and constitute the most important check on their conduct. Politicians who know that within five years or less they will have to account to the people for what they have done will tend to moderate their excesses. Elections are an essential component of democracy and that is why section 23A of our Constitution, taken from the South African constitution, makes the right to participate in free, fair and regular elections a fundamental human right. Nevertheless, elections are not in themselves an adequate safeguard against dictatorship, the perpetuation of a political elite or corruption:
· Electoral procedures are easily manipulated. Voters’ rolls, for example, can be filled with the names of fictitious or deceased people so as to facilitate vote-rigging. State resources can be used to ensure the return of a incumbent President and ruling party.
· For an election to be free and fair, the political atmosphere must be conducive to participatory democracy. Hence there must be freedom of conscience, so that people are not persecuted for their beliefs; there must also be freedom of speech and freedom of association, sufficient to allow opposing views to be given a full hearing and for opposition parties to flourish. To the extent that the law restricts these freedoms (for example, to prevent defamation, obstruction of the streets and armed insurrection) the law must be moderate and clear so that everyone knows precisely what they can and cannot do. In brief, there must be tolerance for the views and attitudes of other people, and an acceptance that the incumbent President and party can lose an election and opposition candidates can be returned and take over the reins of government.
In the absence of a tolerant political atmosphere, elections will do little to curb the excesses of the Executive.
Restricting the number of times a person may hold a particular post is another important check on the exercise of Executive power, and this has been recognised since the days of ancient Rome. If politicians know that their time in office will come to an end within a relatively short period, they are more likely to moderate their conduct so as to avoid retribution when they cease to hold office.
Because term-limits are so effective in curbing one-man rule, rulers have frequently tried to abolish them. In the SADC region, Zambia’s President Chiluba tried unsuccessfully to abolish presidential term-limits in 2001, while President Museveni of Uganda succeeded in having the constitutional limits to his term of office removed before the 2006 elections.
To be truly effective, therefore, term-limits must be firmly entrenched in the Constitution. [It should be noted that, strictly speaking, term-limits are undemocratic in that they prevent voters from re-electing a person whom they wish to continue in office. While this may be true, the beneficial effects of term-limits in preventing permanent one-man rule and moderating the conduct of rulers while they are in power far outweigh any technical quibbles about their democratic nature.]
3. Diffusing Executive power
Many of Zimbabwe’s problems have stemmed from the concentration of Executive power in the hands of one person. Although section 31H(5) of the Constitution requires the President to carry out most of his functions in accordance with the advice of a Cabinet of Ministers (and, since the inception of the Inclusive Government, in some cases with the consent of the Prime Minister) in practice he has tended to make most decisions himself. Some of the reasons for this are:
· The President appoints Cabinet Ministers, and he does so without having to take advice from anyone (though under the GPA Ministers appointed from the two formations of the MDC are nominated by those formations). Ministers therefore owe their appointment and political futures to the President and are naturally reluctant to cross him.
· By virtue of a dubious convention, Cabinet’s advice is officially conveyed to the President through documents that are signed by only two Ministers, and the advice is presumed to be that of the Cabinet. There seem to be no safeguards to ensure that the documents do indeed reflect the decision of the whole Cabinet, nor is there provision for the Cabinet to ratify advice given in the documents. As a result, it is possible for the President to by-pass his Cabinet.
· The President heads a former liberation movement with a limited tolerance for internal dissent. Power within the party is wielded by the President and a circle of close associates chosen by himself. Ministers who are appointed from such a party are unlikely to risk their careers by resisting the President’s ideas.
A new constitution must try to diffuse Executive power by requiring Executive decisions to be taken collectively rather than by a single individual. Some ways in which this might be done are the following:
1. Increasing the powers of the Cabinet: This can be done by reducing the President’s ability to act unilaterally, i.e. by reducing the number of decisions that the President can make on his own initiative. For example, the power to dissolve or prorogue Parliament, if it is to be vested in the Executive at all, should not be given to the President alone. He should have to do so on the recommendation of Cabinet. Parliament should be elected for a fixed term, as in the United States, and should be able to fix its own sitting periods during that term.
2. Ensuring that Cabinet decisions are really made by the Cabinet: The convention mentioned above, whereby Cabinet decisions are conveyed to the President by documents signed by two Ministers, should be scrapped. A transparent procedure should be evolved for transmitting Cabinet’s decisions to the President, and for reporting back to Cabinet how and when the decisions were transmitted to the President and the action he has taken on them. The new constitution should forbid the President from acting without the authority of the full Cabinet. If the Cabinet is to be allowed to delegate its advisory function to any of its individual members, the circumstances in which it may do so should be spelled out in the Constitution and any such delegation should be reported to Parliament.
3. The size of the Cabinet should be limited by the Constitution: It may seem paradoxical to suggest reducing the size of the Cabinet in order to make Executive decisions more collective, but if the Cabinet were reduced to, say, ten members it would be a more efficient decision-making body than Zimbabwe’s present large unwieldy Cabinet. A smaller Cabinet would be able to reach decisions promptly and ensure that its decisions were carried out; in brief, it would be more businesslike. It would not be easy for the President to circumvent such a Cabinet. It would also be less easy for the President to establish a “kitchen cabinet” or “inner cabinet” of a few trusted Ministers and advisers, to make decisions which should properly be made by the full Cabinet.
4. Executive powers should be divided between different people: Rather than vesting all Executive power in one person, even if that person has to act on the advice of a body such as the Cabinet, it would be better to divide Executive powers between, say, a President and a Prime Minister. This, at least nominally, is the position in Zimbabwe under the GPA but the division of powers is so vaguely expressed as to be meaningless (the GPA simply says that both the President and the Prime Minister “exercise executive authority”). Creating two or more centres of Executive power would prevent a concentration of power in the hands of one person. The French Constitution, for example, divides power between the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. There are at least two ways in which this could be done in Zimbabwe:
· The President could be given limited powers to be exercised on his or her own initiative, for example the power to dissolve Parliament, call a general election and choose a Prime Minister. The other functions, for example the selection of Ministers and the right to preside over Cabinet meetings, would be conferred on the Prime Minister.
· Responsibility for the Defence Forces and the Police could be given to an independent Defence Service Commission and Police Service Commission established by the constitution.
3. Subordinating the Executive to the Legislature
In the original Lancaster House constitution, Executive power was vested in the Prime Minister, who was a member of the House of Assembly chosen by the President as the person best able to command a majority in the House — usually the leader of the majority party in the House. The President himself was elected by Parliament. This arrangement went some way to ensure that the Executive was answerable to Parliament because neither President nor Prime Minister had an independent mandate from the people.
The South African constitution has a variant of this idea. The State President, who is an executive President, is elected by Parliament so he too does not have an independent mandate from the people.
Both these arrangements give Parliament, at least nominally, the ability to rein in the Executive, but they need to be backed up by further procedures (such as impeachment against individual members of the executive and votes of no confidence in the Government) if Parliament is to be truly able to curb Executive power.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied
PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE SERIES
[20th May 2011]
No Parliamentary Committee Meetings 23rd to 27th May
The current suspension of ordinary House of Assembly portfolio committee and Senate thematic committee meetings will continue from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th May. Veritas will notify the resumption of meetings when the suspension is lifted.
The suspension does not apply to public hearings approved before the commencement of the suspension. This includes the series of five public hearings on social protection programmes being held by the Thematic Committee on MDGs from 20th to 23rd May, as follows:
Friday 20th May: Rushinga
Rushinga District Administrator’s Office: 9.30 am
Saturday 21st May: Bubi
Inyati Council Hall: 2.30 pm
Sunday 22nd May: Masvingo [two hearings]
Mucheke Hall: 10.30 am
Nyika Growth Point (Council Offices): 2.30 pm
Monday 23rd May: Mutasa
Mutasa District Council – District Administrator’s Office: 9 am
[For details see Bill Watch Parliamentary Committee Series [Public Hearings on Social Protection Programmes] of 19th May.]
Any further public hearings to be held by committees will be notified in separate bulletins as soon as Veritas has the necessary details. Confirmation is awaited of a possible public hearing by the Education Portfolio Committee into the impact of teachers’ incentives on the education system, pencilled in for Thursday 26th May at Parliament in Harare.
Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.