By Violet Gonda
21 May 2010
The Attorney General's office has finally returned Roy Bennett's passport,
after seizing it illegally on March 29th. Bennett is the MDC-T
Treasurer-General and Deputy Agriculture Minister-designate, who was
acquitted on terrorism charges two weeks ago.
Although currently a free man, the State has applied to the Supreme Court
asking for 'leave to appeal' the acquittal. Bennett's defence team is
opposing this appeal.
Bennett's passport had been surrendered to the Mutare Clerk of Court as part
of his bail conditions. When he went to collect it, it had 'gone missing.'
The Clerk of Court entry book in Mutare showed his passport had been
unlawfully taken in March by Michael Mugabe, a prosecutor who works in the
Attorney General's (AG) office.
Bennett told SW Radio Africa that his passport was finally returned to his
lawyers in Mutare on Friday, after lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa had filed an
urgent application in the High Court for the immediate release of the
passport. He said the AG's office had written to his lawyers, asking them to
withdraw the application as they would return the passport.
A frustrated Bennett said there was no explanation as to why they had in the
first place taken his document without a court order. The MDC official said
Michael Mugabe had revealed to the defence team that he was following
instructions from the AGs office when he went to seize the passport. He
claimed he was unaware that there was no court order allowing him to do so.
Bennett said Mutare provincial magistrate and ZANU PF apologist, Billard
Musakwa's name, also came up as having played a role in the disappearance of
his passport. He said he was told by the Clerk of Court in Mutare that
Michael Mugabe had been ordered by Musakwa to take the passport, on behalf
of the AG's office.
The passport was seized just a couple of days before High Court Judge
Chinemberi Bhunu was initially set to deliver his ruling on whether or not
to acquit the MDC official at the end of March. The judge later deferred the
ruling to May 10th.
"It was obviously pre-planned and premeditated that I'd be acquitted on the
31st March and therefore they will have my passport in their possession.
Totally illegal what they have done and absolutely out of procedure,"
"I know the orders are coming from Augustine Chihuri (police commissioner)
through the Attorney General's office where they don't care what the law is.
They rule supreme."
The MDC-T has called for the immediate swearing-in of Bennett as the Deputy
Agriculture Minister. Mugabe has consistently refused to swear him in,
claiming it was because he was facing serious terrorism charges. Now that
Bennett has been cleared by the courts, Mugabe is running out of excuses.
Bennett said it is clear that ZANU PF is calling the shots as far as his
trial is concerned, as the prosecution team had initially said it was not
going to challenge his acquittal. But they made a dramatic u-turn when the
MDC-T announced that he remained their candidate for the controversial
By Lance Guma
21 May 2010
Controversial former St Mary's MP, Job Sikhala, was arrested Friday
alongside two other officials from his recently launched political party the
MDC-99. He says the arrest was carried out in the morning by heavily armed
Speaking to Newsreel from Waterfalls police station in Harare, Sikhala told
us they are charging him under section 20 of the 'discredited' Public Order
and Security Act (POSA). Police claim Sikhala launched his party on the 8th
May this year, without police clearance for the meeting.
'They should not have expected us to invite them because they are not
members of the MDC-99 executive and never shall they be members of the
MDC-99 executive.' This month Sikhala, and other disgruntled members who
defected from the Mutambara MDC, formed the MDC-99, saying this represented
the original MDC which was formed in 1999.
Sikhala, whose voice sounded subdued, said; "This oppressive law is a
discredited piece of legislation. We are going to ask our lawyer to write to
the co-Home Affairs Ministers asking them why people can't hold meetings in
this day and age." He said they were also going to challenge ZANU PF to
produce clearance letters for their weekly politburo meetings that are held
A statement from Sikhala's party accused the Officer Commanding Mbare
District, one Chief Superintendent Mahachi, of ordering the arrest. Sikhala
says when he launched his party many people thought it was a joke, but; 'Now
they saw the thousands of people who came to the elections for the Harare
Provincial Assembly yesterday and they can see we have tremendous support
from disgruntled people. This arrest is an attempt to break our spirit.'
By Lance Guma
21 May 2010
Any pretence that the coalition is working smoothly was buried this week
Robert Mugabe appointed a new Supreme Court judge and four High Court
judges, without the knowledge of his MDC partners in government. To
emphasize his powers Mugabe also promoted Retired Brigadier General George
Chiweshe as the new High Court Judge President. Chiweshe is the former
chairperson of the discredited Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, that kept
Mugabe in power in 2008 by withholding election results for a month while
massaging the figures.
The unilateral appointments have seen outgoing High Court Judge President
Rita Makarau being propelled into the Supreme Court, while Nicholas Mathonsi
(brother to MDC-M secretary-general Welshman Ncube), Andrew Mutema and
Garainesu Mawadze, become judges in the High Court based in Bulawayo. Even
Deputy Justice Minister Jessie Majome from the MDC-T had no clue what was
happening. She expressed shock at the developments and said she was only
invited to the swearing-in ceremony at the last minute.
MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa reacted with outrage, saying Prime Minister
Tsvangirai had not been consulted. "We're gob smacked. This is another act
in addition to the catalogue of GPA violations and President Mugabe's
unilateralism. ZANU PF pretends inclusivity, but acts exclusively," Chamisa
said. MDC-T Secretary for Legal Affairs, Innocent Gonese, said the promotion
of Chiweshe was a clear reward for helping to rig the elections in 2008.
ZANU PF meanwhile claimed that under the constitution Mugabe does not need
to consult anyone, except for the Judicial Service Commission, before
appointing judges. Minister Majome however disputed, this telling Newsreel
on Friday that Article 20 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which was
incorporated under Constitutional Amendment 19, makes it clear all
appointments have to be made by the President in consultation with the Prime
Turning to the Judicial Service Commission, Majome told us she asked
questions about its composition, regularity of meetings and when they last
met, and she was asked to write a letter to the Master of the High Court.
That letter was written on the 3rd May this year and she still has not
received an answer. Newsreel understands the commission is composed of Chief
Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku; th chairman of the Public Service Commission;
Attorney General Johannes Tomana; and two other people selected by Mugabe.
The only person who could even remotely be regarded as independent is lawyer
Sternford Moyo, but it seems even he was unaware about the selection of new
Sympathy for the MDC however is running thin. Supporters have expressed
frustration that one day top officials are singing the praises of the
coalition government and on others crying foul about violations of the
agreement. This inconsistency is driving sympathy away, with one commentator
saying 'they made their bed they must now sleep on it.' National
Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku was more direct,
telling the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that "Tsvangirai is to blame, he
is the one who claims that all is well in the inclusive government."
Also highlighting the unworkability of the coalition were recent remarks by
Mugabe that the MDC "had remained stooges and bootlickers of the country's
former colonizers." Speaking to his ZANU PF party newspaper The People's
Voice, Mugabe claimed the MDC 'upholds the interests of imperialists and
colonialists" and were "in the same camp as the enemies of the people." And
only last week ZANU PF pushed for a state appeal of the acquittal on
terrorism charges of MDC treasurer Roy Bennett. The move was seen as a
deliberate attempt to prolong Mugabe's refusal to swear him into office as
Deputy Agriculture Minister.
Little wonder the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for
fresh presidential elections monitored, by SADC, the African Union and the
international community. The ZCTU said the coalition government had been
dogged by disputes since it was formed in February last year and has not
made any progress since. Acting Secretary General Japhet Moyo said "The GNU
has been characterized by impasses, name calling and mistrust among the
political parties, while the majority of Zimbabweans continue to suffer."
Bulawayo, May 21, 2010 - Bulawayo residents have alleged that officials from
the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) are demanding bribes from
them to attend to faults.
At a residents meeting, Waterford (ward 4), residents said ZESA officials
were soliciting for bribes to attend to faults. They indicated that some
areas, like Locke View, had gone without electricity for more than two
months because residents refused to bribe ZESA officials or contribute money
to buy fuel for these officials.
Residents agreed that parastatals were not adding value to their lives and
there was need for a monitoring mechanism that will provide checks and
balances for officials in these companies. This move would curb corruption
and make sure that parastatal leaders who were paid fortunes delivered and
were accountable to the residents, the consumers.
In another development, residents in Nketa 9 (ward 25) have told the Mayor
of the City of Bulawayo, Cllr Thaba Moyo, that they will not recognise any
special interest councilors imposed to the city of Bulawayo.
At a meeting to provide a platform for engagement between the residents and
the Mayor organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association,
residents indicated to the Mayor that if the same partisan councilors
announced in 2008 by local Government Minister Igantius Chombo were forced
into the council chambers, residents would resort to legal action.
Residents said special interest councilors should either posses special
skills needed by the local authority or should represent special interest
groups like people living with disabilities, youths and women.
Chombo announced a team of special interest councilors made up of losing
Zanu (PF) councilors.
Residents in Bulawayo also asked the local authority to intervene in solving
the looming disaster at Cowdray Park - Hlalani Kuhle Project.
The government has failed to provide resources for sewer and water
reticulation at Cowdray Park. The Hlalani Kuhle Project that was meant for
the victims of the chaotic and ill advised operation Murambatsvina only
benefitted a few poor people and the beneficiaries have since been asked to
pay for their sewer and water reticulation.
By Alex Bell
21 May 2010
Conservation groups, elephant experts and biologists around the world have
united in their condemnation of Zimbabwe’s plan to ship an ‘Ark’ of wild
animals to North Korea.
The plan, handed down by Robert Mugabe in a Presidential Decree, is to send
two of each species of mammal found in the Hwange National Park to North
Korea. Wildlife authorities, who last week denied the deal, on Wednesday
moved to defend the sale. Addressing a press conference in Harare, National
Parks director Vitalis Chadenga said the shipment was a “legitimate business
“It’s not an illegal shipment. From our professional judgement, these people
have the capacity to handle these animals,” he said.
The animals include two eighteen month old elephant calves that Mugabe is
said to be giving as a ‘gift’ to his Korean counterpart, although Chadenga
told reporters that North Korea had paid US$10 000 each for the calves.
Zimbabwean conservationists have warned that the babies will not survive
that trip to Korea, with elephant experts stating that elephants so young
cannot survive without their family group.
BornFree is one of more than 50 organisations that have joined together to
protest the plan of the ‘ark of death’. On Friday they said they are fearful
that the capture, transport and incarceration of these wild animals in North
Korea “will lead, for many of the animals, to an untimely, and entirely
Despite the global condemnation of the plan, reports suggested that five
other countries are now requesting a similar transfer of animals from
Will Travers, President of the Species Survival Network (SSN), stated on
Friday that the general public “cannot sit back and watch this tragedy
unfold. We ask everyone to join us in the condemnation of this terrible act
of injustice for wild animals.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Joyce Poole, Co-Director of the animal rights group Elephant
Voices, and a world authority on elephants, has written a letter to the
Zimbabwean authorities, outlining the reasons why the practice of elephant
capture must be abolished. Her letter has been endorsed by these 50
organisations from around the world, plus numerous individuals.
“We simply know too much about the social, emotional and cognitive lives of
elephants to ignore the suffering caused by the abduction, capture and
incarceration of individuals. Capturing and shipping baby elephants around
the world is inhumane and unacceptable,” Dr. Poole said.
You can read and download the open letter through this page on the
To show that you condemn the live export of elephants and other wild animals
from their natural habitats, please sign the Pledge on the Born Free
By Violet Gonda
21 May 2010
South Korea has become the first country in East Asia to invite Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the region, since the formation of the
inclusive government last year.
The Prime Minister is leading a high level government delegation to South
Korea this weekend, to discuss business opportunities, climate change,
eradication of poverty and optimal use of natural resources, among other
The Prime Minister's office said: "The visit will be marked by the signing
of a bilateral agreement that seeks to open a new chapter of active
cooperation between Korea and Zimbabwe in all sectors of the economy, paving
the way for more targeted Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) that will be
formally negotiated between Zimbabwean and Korean partners, to the benefit
of both countries."
Those accompanying the PM include the MDC-T Minister of Economic Planning
and Investment Promotion Elton Mangoma; the MDC-T Minister Energy and Power
Development Elias Mudzuri; ZANU PF's Small and Medium Enterprises and
Cooperative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni, plus members of the
By Alex Bell
21 May 2010
Police in Gweru have clamped down on a community radio station by denying
them clearance to hold a road show this weekend, as any independence of the
airwaves remains restricted.
The Nkabazwe Community radio initiative made an application for police
clearance on Tuesday for the road show, that was scheduled for Saturday, but
that clearance was denied the following day. Executive committee
representative Timothy Mpofu said the police denied them clearance for
According to the Zimbabwe branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA-Zimbabwe), the police defended their decision by saying that the
political environment was "not conducive," and that other people with
political interests might attend the event since it was an open show. The
police also said that the community radio initiative should apply for a
licence to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe if they wanted to operate.
"This was despite the fact that the intended road show was specifically an
awareness roadshow on what community radio is," MISA-Zimbabwe said in a
The Broadcasting Authority has not yet called for applications for
broadcasting licenses, and it is also not possible for community radio
initiatives to put in applications with the statutory Zimbabwe Media
Commission (ZMC). According to MISA-Zimbabwe they are hopeful the ZMC will
issue newspaper licenses next week, after many delays.
It is widely understood that although daily independent newspapers would be
welcome, the urgent need is for independent radio, which has a greater reach
across the country.
Currently Zimbabwe has nine community radio initiatives in Harare, Bulawayo,
Gweru, Kwekwe, Hwange, Kariba, Masvingo, Mutare and Kadoma; all of which
await broadcasting licenses. Papers that await licensing include the banned
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe Daily News and its sister paper, The Daily
News on Sunday, The Newsday, published by Alpha media and The Daily Gazette,
which will be published by Modus publications that also publishes the weekly
The ZMC last week allegedly postponed a crucial workshop that was also
expected to issue licenses to applicants. The postponement was allegedly due
to 'financial problems' and reports of alleged disagreements among
commissioners on resource persons to the workshop.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai dismissed the allegation of a lack of
funding for the commission, stating that the Ministry of Finance had
provided them with funds.
Norway is to increase its humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe in 2010 by NOK 10 million, to NOK 30 million. This increase is due to the situation in Zimbabwe, which is cause for grave concern. Despite an increase in grain production in 2009, up to 2.5 million people in the country are expected to need food aid in 2010.
"The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is still very grave. Even securing access to food is a major challenge for the majority of the population," Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented.
The decision to increase humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe comes in response to an appeal from the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. The funds are primarily intended for improving food security, and will be channelled through organisations such as the Red Cross, Norwegian People's Aid, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Médecins Sans Frontières. These are organisations that have a long-term involvement in Zimbabwe. They have implementation routines and monitoring systems to minimise the risk of the funds being misused.
In addition to the humanitarian assistance, Norway is providing well over NOK 100 million to development projects in Zimbabwe via the UN system and civil society organisations.
"Norway continues to support Zimbabwe's unity government, but we are disappointed over the lack of progress in implementing the cooperation agreement. The persistent violations of human rights are also cause for concern. It is now important to work for free and fair elections," Mr Støre said.
There will be a meeting of the informal donor group Friends of Zimbabwe in Oslo on 1 June. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe and a common approach for the way ahead.
Friday, 21 May 2010 15:23
In April 2009 6,252 bed nights were booked in Victoria Falls for the month.
In April 2010 a total amount of 11,675 bed nights were booked, signifying a
staggering recovery of 86.74% from the previous year. April 2010 has seen
the highest number of bed nights booked in over a decade.
Victoria Falls was hard hit by the recession and also given the perception
of Zimbabwe as a politically unstable destination tourists have mostly
stayed well clear since Mugabe's farm invasions.
Since the power sharing agreement was brokered between the MDC and incumbent
Zanu-PF in 2009, Zimbabwe is slowly beginning to claw its way back onto
travel agent's brochures overseas. The World Cup in South Africa should have
a halo affect of creating some awareness of Zimbabwe as a travel destination
Operators in Victoria Falls remain positive and says Martin Vaughan of Ilala
Lodge, 'The World Cup will be a positive thing for Zimbabwe tourism and
hopefully some cameras will swing our way to showcase the abundance of
Publicity remains Zimbabwe Tourism's toughest challenge and off the back of
a busy Travel Indaba 2010 operators and hoteliers remain positive. Shaun
Macdonald of Southern African accommodation website Venues4Africa.com
commented on his fifth year running at the show, 'the South African ICC Hall
was quieter that previous years and international buyers were scarcer than
recent years. The recession has seen a lot of smaller overseas operators go
out of business although the African stands, and in particular Southern
Africa, seemed exceptionally busy in comparison.'
It remains to be seen what the World Cup hangover will mean to business in
the tourism industry but until then its business as usual and the mood is
Harare, May 21, 2010 - Zimbabwe's constitutional making process faces more
hurdles as it has emerged that an outreach team cannot yet commence work
because it is waiting for the purchase of recording equipment such as tape
and video recorders, including laptops.
The Constitutional Parliamentary Committee was informed that a tender had
already been awarded. Dates to commence the outreach programmes will only be
announced after this process.
The constitutional making process has been delayed by more than eight months
due to lack of funding and infighting among others. Zimbabwe needs a new
constitution to pave way for fresh elections.
The Committee also said the outreach talking points had been reduced to 30
questions to make them user-friendly and that these would be translated into
It also came to light during the hearing that most outreach team members
were not happy with the daily per diem rate of U$15. Hence the three parties
were set to hold a joint caucus meeting to discuss the matter.
The outreach team is already in a quandary over a budget of US$2.9 million
which has been demanded by the police in order to provide security.
Chairmen of the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee, Paul Mangwana,
Douglous Mwonzora and Edward Mkhosi revealed this when they appeared before
the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs on Tuesday.
The Portfolio Committee had invited the three to brief it on the security
measures that had been put in place to ensure that the constitution making
process was a success.
The Committee said the initial budget did not cater for the police as it was
assumed that since the constitution-making process was a national event, it
was therefore the statutory duty of the police force to provide security to
The Committee said it was not in a position to meet the police demand as it
did not have legal powers to vary a budget which has already been submitted
to and agreed with the donors. The Co-Chairpersons further argued that they
did not have the financial muscle to fundraise for a government department
let alone recapitalise it by buying it 29 landrovers as was demanded by the
ZRP. Furthermore, they did not want to give the impression that they were
buying security when the ZRP was statutorily mandated to provide it.
The constitutional committee said it was praying treasury would provide the
required financial resources to the ZRP, otherwise it would not make sense
to approach donors with such a request. The committee said if there was no
solution in sight, the co-chairpersons would take up the issue with the GPA
Principals as a last resort.
There have been reports of violence in several parts of the country where it
is alleged Zanu (PF), through its youth militia and war veterans, have set
up torture bases warning people against contributing to the constitutional
outreach team. Zanu (PF) is advocating for the Kariba draft, written by the
three parties before the Inclusive government. The Movement for Democratic
Change want people to contribute to the draft, to make it a more people
Some civil society members have been threatened with death if they engage in
civic education about the constitution in the rural areas. Some
organisations such as the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) have boycotted the constitutional
making process, saying it was being dominated by politicians and are running
a parallel process.
The NCA successfully camapigned, for a rejection by the people, of a
constitutional referendum in 2000.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi said the
apostolic sect leaders who attended the high-level meeting agreed to work
with the government to make sure that their children are vaccinated
Jonga Kandemiiri & Brenda Moyo | Washington 20 May 2010
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Thursday received assurances
from leaders of apostolic faith sects that they will cooperate with the
Ministry of Health and international partners to see that their children are
immunized against measles and other diseases in a forthcoming campaign, a
spokesman for the prime minister said.
Mr. Tsvangirai called the high-level meeting on immunization to engage
apostolic faith sect leaders aiming to persuade take part in the national
immunization campaign set to begin on Monday and run through June 2. The
United Nations has provided US$5.6 million to help the country vaccinate an
estimated 5 million children.
The immunization summit was also attended by representatives of the United
Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, the Ministry of
Health and traditional chiefs.
Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri that the different apostolic sect leaders present agreed to work
with the government to make sure that their children are vaccinated.
Health workers will vaccinate children between the ages of six months and 15
years against a range of diseases - in particular measles which has claimed
more than 300 lives since September of last year. Outbreaks of measles
spread in part because of religious objections to immunization by members of
the apostolic sects.
UNICEF nutrition specialist Thokozile Ncube, who attended the immunization
summit, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo that the meeting was an
eye-opener and very productive.
Published: May 20, 2010
Harare - The Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) through station
officers-in-charge has returned part of the funds which were looted by the
then depot commandant Chief Superintendent Muzanechita from 840 recruit
Prison officers who completed training at Ntabazinduna Training Depot
outside Bulawayo in April 2009.
Muzanechita forced the recruits to each contribute US$45 which was nearly
half their salaries towards hosting a pass-out parade party that never took
He was later transferred to the organization's national headquarters where
he is now heading the security department.
Muzanechita who is a retired soldier was never interrogated internally or
arrested for the offence.
According to officers based at Harare central, Remand and Chikurubi prisons
who were given back part of their money said they were given US$25 early
this week, instead of US$45 which they were robbed of by Muzanechita.
"We were called in the administration office where we were handed over part
of our monies. No explanation was given by the OIC when he gave us back part
of the money, "a Harare central prison officer said
"We wanted Muzanechita to be arrested because he stole our money when he was
supposed to guide us.At the time he forced us to contribute he threatened to
deploy us to the remote stations. We ended up borrowing from friends because
he had taken almost all of our salaries. We want the case to be taken
further, "a Chikurubi based officer said.
Muzanechita in the process collected at least US$36000 from the officers who
he was taking care of.
Insiders say Muzanechita was being favoured by ZPS Boss Paradzai Zimondi
because he is an ex-soldier.
Zimondi is being accused of favoritism by senior officers who say he
promotes ex-soldiers while sidelining them.
Since his appointment as the ZPS Commissioner in 1997 Zimondi has employed
ex-soldiers who retired holding junior ranks and given them influential
positions in the organization.
Recently a Chikurubi Prison based Chief Prison officer Chiwakaya wrote a
strong worded letter to the Ministry of justice and the two vice Presidents'
offices complaining that Zimondi was sidelining senior prison officers.
In the letter Chiwakaya accused the ex-soldiers cum-prison officers of
corruption and incompetence.
The development has reduced moral in the security government department
leading to an increased number of prison escapes.
Efforts to get an official comment from ZPS public relations officer
Priscilla Mtembo so as to establish if the funds were indeed reimbursed to
the deprived officers were fruitless.
Zimbabwean Regional Integration Minister Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga's
case illustrated a common dilemma facing widows who find themselves unable
to assert their rights to communal property
Patience Rusere | Washington 20 May 2010
Zimbabwe's inheritance laws and legal system were in the headlines this week
as Minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation Priscilla
Misihairambwe-Mushonga told reporters in a surprise news conference that she
would no longer battle her in-laws over control of the estate of her late
husband, Dr. Christopher Mushonga.
Mishairambwi-Mushonga said a bitter dispute had developed over the property
she had jointly held with late doctor, who succumbed in August 2009 to
injuries sustained when he was attacked in his home in June 2009.
Misihairambwi-Mushonga said her in-laws became abusive and threatening,
though she declined to go into details. She said it was ''unfortunate" that
Zimbabwean society could not protect her and other widows from such abuse.
The case illustrated a common dilemma facing widows who are unable to assert
their rights to communal property.
For a closer look at this question of interest to so many Zimbabwean women,
VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere turned to Esther Mutama, a former
member of the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association, which defends women's
rights, and traditional healer David Ngwenya of Bulawayo.
Mutama said that while inheritance laws in principle are written to protect
widows, social attitudes and traditional values nonetheless leave many
women, especially those in customary marriages, at the mercy of in-laws.
Harare, May 21, 2010 - National Association of Non Governmental Organisation
(NANGO) said on Thursday it was considering pulling out of the country's
constitutional making process because politicians had taken over the
"Debates are taking place around the civil society on whether to continue
with this process which has a lot of pot holes. What we are
saying is that we cannot allow politicians to go ahead making the critical
law of the country on their own, and there are critical preparations going
on around the issue of the constitution," said NANGO's chief executive
officer Cephas Zinhumwe.
"What we want to tell the nation is that as civic society...we want is to
find ourselves prepared for any eventuality. We are preparing our sword
meaning that we preparing ourselves around such critical issues. We are
having committees, think tanks, which are focusing on these issues "he said.
The civil society is currently divided over the constitution making process
with non governmental organisations such as the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) led by Dr Lovemore Madhuku, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe National Students Association of Student
Unions (ZINASU) running a parallel campaign called "Take Charge."
The Global political Agreement (GPA), which gave birth to the inclusive
government a year ago, provides for the crafting of a new constitution to
pave way for fresh elections. However, the constitution making process has
been marred with delays, confusion, infighting and lack of funds.
Zinhumwe said he was worried by statements by some politicians who were
calling for elections even before the new constitution had been put in
President Robert Mugabe is on record as having said elections were going to
be held next year whether a new constitution was written or not. This has,
however, been contradicted by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, who has insisted that fresh elections in Zimbabwe can
only be held under a new constitution.
Idi Amin Dada was the military dictator of Uganda from 1971 until 1979. He was a soldier in the King’s African Rifles and came to power through a military coup, deposing Milton Obote. Amin gave himself the rank of Field Marshall.
“By 1978, the number of Amin’s close associates had shrunk significantly, and he faced increasing dissent from within Uganda. After the killings of Luwum and ministers Oryema and Oboth Ofumbi in 1977, several of Amin’s ministers defected or fled to exile.
Later that year, after Amin’s vice president, General Mustafa Adrisi, was injured in a car accident, troops loyal to him mutinied. Amin sent troops against the mutineers, some of whom had fled across the Tanzanian border. Amin accused Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere of waging war against Uganda, ordered the invasion of Tanzanian territory, and formally annexed a section of the Kagera Region across the boundary.
Nyerere mobilised the Tanzania People’s Defence Force and counter-attacked, joined by several groups of Ugandan exiles who had united as the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). Amin’s army retreated steadily, and despite military help from Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi, he was forced to flee on 11 April 1979 when Kampala was captured. He escaped first to Libya and ultimately settled in Saudi Arabia where the Saudi royal family paid him a generous subsidy in return for his staying out of politics.”
Amin died in 2003.
There have been numerous comparisons of Mugabe’s rule to that of Adolf Hitler, not helped by Mugabe’s own comment, “if I am a Hitler, let me be a Hitler tenfold“.
His is paranoid to the point that, having likened himself to Hitler, had his judiciary prosecute, convict and jail a woman for agreeing with him, and calling him “Hitler“...
Mugabe believes that the West is intent on deposing him and stealing Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth. Almost every time that he is near a microphone, he will makes all manner of allegations that the West is conspiring against him and his party and often accuses the Movement for Democratic Change as being sponsored by the West.
Mugabe’s hands are drenched in blood. He first came to power having fought the Rhodesian security forces in a bloody bush war in the 1970s and then with the aid of the West who assisted in the beginning of black rule in the new Zimbabwe.
It didn’t take long for Mugabe to start to change things in an independent Zimbabwe, and within two years, the Gukurahundi began. Until 1987, the Ndebele tribe were the target of the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade who committed some heinous atrocities, leaving between 20 and 30 thousand people dead. Mugabe refuses to apologise for the operation, saying that it was a ‘moment of madness’.
In the last thirty years since Mugabe took power in Zimbabwe, there have been numerous unexplained deaths on Zimbabwe’s roads and elsewhere, which effectively took some of Mugabe’s fiercest critics out of play, and put an end to many a person who had developed a taste for power.
Christopher Ushowekunzwe (road accident), Maurice Nyagumbo (drowning), Peter Pamire (road accident) - just to name three.
In 2000, enraged by the public rejection of a new constitution, Mugabe ordered the war veterans to begin the land grab. Even as I type, ten years later, that operation continues. White commercial farmers have been murdered together with numerous farm workers. In many cases, the killer is known, but Mugabe refuses to have the person tried in criminal courts for their deeds.
Land, ostensibly seized to be handed to the landless blacks, is now in the hands of Mugabe’s ZANU PF loyalists. And the majority of that land lies fallow.
The country’s population relies on aid to feed the 4 million that are starving.
In 2005, in an attempt to break what he perceived as a building MDC enclave, Mugabe ordered the destruction of the homes of well over one million people.
Those people today still live with inadequate shelter – and many have lost their jobs as a direct result.
Unemployment runs into the 95th percentile and the economy barely works.
Since 1980, Mugabe has systematically rigged all and every election and without his interference in the 2008 Presidential election, he would have lost – soundly – to the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe had himself sworn back into office with surprising alacrity.
Entering into a power-sharing coalition with the MDC, Mugabe has done whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whoever he wants, and he refuses to hand any significant power to the MDC despite losing the parliamentary election.
Is Mugabe the new Idi Amin?
No – he is worse. Worse insofar as his reign is much longer, worse insofar as resistance to his rule is minimal, worse insofar as his rule seems without end.
Many people have died because of Mugabe’s rule, and instead of doing an Amin and running for shelter elsewhere in the world, he is content to remain in Zimbabwe and continue with his ruinous, violent reign.
Idi Amin was just a curtain raiser to what Mugabe has become.
Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man
Friday, 21 May 2010
Watching the Chanel Four documentary 'Mugabe and the White African' during
the week raised many questions in my mind.
Seeing the violence and horror experienced by Ben Freeth and his young
family, I found myself repeatedly wondering if the farmer was right to
expose the family to such danger. The innocent faces of the children
revealed how little they understood of the mayhem that was going on around
them; not once did the viewer see those beautiful children smile. Perhaps,
when they are older they will understand that their parents were doing what
they believed to be 'the right thing'. Does the cause justify the suffering
it must inevitably involve for the families and - in Freeth's case - all the
500 workers he employs? The answer depends on each individual's commitment
and in Ben Freeth's case it was his conviction - naïve some would say - that
what he was doing in taking his case to the SADC Tribunal in Namibia would
ultimately clear the way for all the farm invasions to be declared illegal
and the white farmers being allowed to continue on their farms.
In essence, Freeth was asking "Am I, as a white man, a Zimbabwean citizen
entitled to the same rights and duties as all other citizens as enshrined in
the Constitution?" The answer, of course depended on the Mugabe government's
commitment to the rule of law. The terrible beating that Freeth and his
father-in-law received from Mugabe's thugs on the ground showed very clearly
what the answer would be. While Mike Campbell and his wife lay in their
hospital beds, too desperately injured to be moved, it was a bandaged and
bruised Ben Freeth who returned to Namibia for the final verdict of the SADC
Tribunal. The sight of the Government legal team stalking out of a properly
constituted African court simply proved they recognised no law but Zanu PF
and Robert Mugabe. When the SADC Tribunal eventually issued their verdict
that the invasion was illegal and there was in fact nothing to stop Freeth
and Campbell from returning to their land it seemed at first like a historic
victory. Tears of joy all round, but within days Mount Carmel was burned to
the ground and Freeth, his family and his workers had lost everything. That
was how 'Mugabe and the White African ended'.
So, had the question been answered? Clearly not, in fact the film raised
more questions than it answered. Are white people in Zimbabwe true citizens
of the country or not? Is there such an entity as a 'White African', someone
born and bred in Africa who knows no other home and whose roots are deep in
African soil? Is colour the criteria by which we judge identity, what about
mixed race people and those of Indian descent?
Fast forward to May 2010 and consider the case of another 'White African',
Roy Bennett, the MDC's choice for Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Despite
his recent acquittal, Zanu PF hardliners are still maintaining that Bennett
cannot be sworn in because he was a fighter with the Rhodesians. The logic
of this argument appears to be that anyone who was allied to the Rhodesian
'cause' cannot be considered a Zimbabwean and qualified as such to serve in
the government of the country. This argument takes no account of the
thousands of black and mixed race Zimbabweans who served in the Rhodesian
security forces or the British South Africa Police as it then was, many of
whom have since risen to positions of power and wealth in the independent
Republic of Zimbabwe.
Now, we hear that another farmer is about to take his case to the SADC
Tribunal to gain compensation for the loss of his properties. In a related
development comes the news that Zanu PF has stipulated that only ten white
farmers will be chosen to operate in the agriculturally rich province of
Mash Central. The 'chosen ones' have been informed by the authorities;
apparently their skin colour was no bar but perhaps large donations to the
party have smoothed the way? You have to wonder why these 'White Africans'
are any more acceptable than Freeth, Cambell, or Bennett? Zanu PF politics
is the only explanation; race is simply being used as an excuse to pursue
the political agenda of the Mugabe regime and their inalienable right, as
they believe, to own all Zimbabwe's rich resources. Speaking at the G-15
Summit in Tehran last week, Robert Mugabe was in no doubt, "At the end of
the day," he said, "black people must be able to say the resources are ours,
our people own the mines, our people own industry." Mugabe wants what he
calls 'aggressive indigenisation' particularly of the mining sector. If
'aggressive' means a repeat of the brutal land invasion techniques then
Zimbabwe is in for some very troubled times ahead. The war vets too want a
piece of the action; they have a right they say to share the spoils because
they fought for Zimbabwe's freedom- though it's hard to believe that men who
deliberately block food aid to AIDS orphans are genuine friends of the
people they claim to have liberated.
As for the 'White Africans' - it seems they are paying and will continue to
pay for the 'sins of their fathers' one and a half centuries ago. Speak out
in their defence and you will be condemned as a 'stooge and bootlicker of
the former colonizers' to quote Robert Mugabe; say nothing and the greed and
vengeance will continue unchecked.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.