By Alex Bell
23 May 2013
The new Constitution that was formally gazetted by Robert Mugabe on
Wednesday makes his desired June election date technically unlawful, with
months worth of preparations constitutionally required.
Mugabe and his ZANU PF party have been pushing for elections to be held as
soon as the current Parliamentary term comes to an end on June 29th. This is
the official date that marks the end of the fragile unity government between
ZANU PF and the two MDC factions.
But according to the new set of laws, which Zimbabweans voted for in a
referendum in March, a number of key amendments, national processes and
other prerequisites are needed between now and the announcement of an
According to a position paper published by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights (ZLHR), aimed at trying to clarify when an election could be held,
the timing of elections is “difficult to estimate and essentially depends on
when Parliament will complete election-related amendments and when those
amendments become operational.”
The lawyers explained that certain electoral processes have changed in the
new Constitution, and therefore the current Electoral Act, regulations, and
other laws related to elections “must be amended so that they comply with
the new Constitution.” At the same time, the new charter states in section
157(5) that all amendments to the Electoral Law and any other law relating
to elections must be made before an election date is proclaimed.
“Once an election date is announced, absolutely no amendments can be made to
the Electoral Law or other laws relating to elections, either by Parliament,
or by the President using his executive powers under the Presidential Powers
(Temporary Measures) Act. The President therefore has to wait for all
electoral amendments to be adopted by both Houses of Parliament and he must
sign them into law before he can announce an election date,” the lawyers
For ZANU PF’s June election date therefore to be legal, all these amendments
need to happen almost instantly. On top of that, a mandatory 30 day voter
registration and inspection exercise is required after the gazetting of the
new Constitution. The lawyers said that the failure to carry out this
exercise “will be a violation of the new Constitution.”
The lawyers explained that at the very earliest, Mugabe could announce an
election date half way through the registration exercise, but only if all
the previously mentioned amendments have been finalized and are operational.
The lawyers also stated that once an election date is proclaimed, “a minimum
of 44 days (14 days between proclamation of the date and the sitting of the
Nomination Court, and a further 30 days between the sitting of the
Nomination Court and Polling Day) must elapse before actual voting.”
“If the above processes are not complied with there will be a constitutional
crisis that would give rise to the real probability of protracted
constitutional litigation,” the lawyers warned.
Blessing Vava from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), which
campaigned against the adoption of the new charter, said on Thursday that
such constitutional regulations might not make any difference if Mugabe
wants an early election.
“ZANU PF has a history of not respecting the constitution and the President
has repeatedly made unilateral decision regardless of the laws. We already
see the agitation of ZANU PF to have an election in June, when Parliament
expires, and it is likely they are going to push a bit to have the election
sooner (than the constitution stipulates),” Vava told SW Radio Africa.
President Robert Mugabe
may be able to extend his 33-year-old rule over Zimbabwe for another ten years
after signing a new constitution today.
The law, which was
overwhelmingly approved in a referendum in March, clips the powers of the
president and imposes a two-term limit.
However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe could technically extend his three decades in office by another ten years.
replaces a document forged in the dying days of white minority rule and paves
the way for an election later this year.
A beaming Mugabe, flanked by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his main political rival, and Deputy President Joice Mujuru signed multiple copies of the charter at State House in the capital Harare to cheers and applause from aides.
The constitution was formed as part of a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai after disputed and violent elections in 2008.
The five-year coalition
government formed under the same agreement expires on June 29, and
Mugabe has vowed to
hold fair and open elections and a presidential vote could be held as early as
Zimbabwe is hosting a
worldwide United Nations tourism summit in mid-August, suggesting that
nationwide polls would take place in September after what is expected to be the
world's largest tourism exposition.
President Robert Mugabe has vowed that
clean and fair elections will be held after allegations of vote rigging in the
previous elections in 2008 when he beat rival Morgan Tsvangirai,
However, many obstacles remain, including finding the estimated $130million needed to pay for the election and reaching agreement on outside monitors.
Harare has turned down
offers of United Nations or donor assistance.
Mugabe said: 'This is a
happening of joy, great joy indeed,' according to Sky News.
He said today that the new constitution shows that Zimbabweans are united, regardless of political affiliation and without outside interference.
Mugabe accused some in the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has been mediating in the crisis, of trying to impose their will on Harare.
'We rejected this,' he told reporters after the signing ceremony, adding that any vote would be fair and peaceful.
'We will ensure that there won't be any violence, that there won't be any rigging.'
Robert Mugabe, pictured in 1978, was named Zimbabwe prime minister two years later after peace talks following the dissolution of white-minority rule
Mugabe, pictured with Margaret
Thatcher, left, and Queen Elizabeth, right, was voted into power in
In brief remarks, Tsvangirai said the charter had set the southern African country 'on a new path' after nearly a decade of economic decline and political violence that started in 2000 with the seizure of white-owned commercial farms by Mugabe supporters.
He said: 'As Zimbabweans we are proud that we are setting on a journey that is based on a new governance system.'
They did not take questions from reporters.
State media said today
that Mugabe was pressing for a vote before July.
His rivals want it delayed to allow for the opening up of broadcast media, registration of new voters and reform of the military to ensure it stays out of politics.
Several parts of the new constitution are effective immediately with others set to come into force after the swearing in of the next elected administration.
Mugabe was voted into
power in 1980 after the British brokered peace talks in London following a civil
war that saw the end of white minority rule.
leader Mugabe and his Zanu party win the elections.
Mugabe held the post of prime minister until 1987 when he became president
By Nomalanga Moyo
23 May 2013
Two more judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court bench in line with
the country’s new constitution which was gazetted this week.
Justices Ben Hlatshwayo and Bharat Patel were sworn in by President Robert
Mugabe at State House on Wednesday, bringing the total on the bench to nine.
The new judges were said to be elated at their promotion from the High Court
to the superior court, with both saying they were looking forward to
dispensing their duties under the new constitution.
Welcoming his new role, Hlatshwayo told the state media: “It is an
appointment that I accept with humility because it is an appointment with
public trust and is something to look forward to especially in light of the
Co-appointee Patel said: “It is a wonderful day for me. I hope that both of
us will add something to the Supreme Court especially with the new
It was always expected that, when the time came, Mugabe would appoint a safe
pair of hands, especially in view of the forthcoming make-or-break
Since the threat posed by the MDC party in 2000, Zimbabwe’s benches have
been staffed with judges with discernible political connections.
Former university lecturer Hlatshwayo played a prominent role in pleading
the ZANU PF government’s case during earlier attempts at a new constitution,
which was rejected during the 2000 referendum.
Since his appointment to the High Court in 2000, some of Hlatshwayo’s
notable controversies include sitting on a case in which MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai was challenging the 2002 presidential result, won by Mugabe,
until it was overtaken by the formation of the coalition government in 2009.
In 2002 Hlatshwayo invaded Gwina Farm in Banket, evicting its old white
owner Vernon Nicol, in defiance of a High Court order. He was later on
pushed off the same farm by First lady Grace Mugabe, who acquired it for his
In 2008, the judge ruled in favour of Mugabe supporter and excommunicated
Anglican Archbishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga, giving him control of the
church’s regional assets.
Hlatshwayo was later reprimanded and overruled by Chief Justice Luke Malaba
for “shutting his mind to the other evidence which had a direct bearing on
Justice Patel joined the High Court in 2004 after years serving as the
deputy and acting attorney general at the ZANU PF-controlled agency.
Although less controversial than Hlatshwayo, it remains to be seen whether
Patel will be able to exercise appropriate professional independence on
matters directly involving President Mugabe or ZANU PF.
Hlatshwayo and Patel join Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, his deputy Luke
Malaba, Vernanda Ziyambi, Elizabeth Gwaunza, Paddington Garwe, Yunus Omerjee
and Anne-Marie Gowora at the Supreme Court.
WASHINGTON DC — The country’s controversial indigenization program was back
in the news at the weekend with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai threatening
to reverse the Zanu-PF backed empowerment drive if elected president in
fresh polls this year.
Today parliament heard the empowerment drive is failing to attract the
country’s youth with very few applying for funds under the $10 million CABS
youth fund known as Kurera or Ukondla.
Brian Mpofu, head of the fund, told Senate’s indigenisation and empowerment
thematic committee there was a general low uptake of the fund throughout the
country. He said since last year only $2.7 million has been disbursed.
Some districts in the country did not even apply for the funds to start
income generating projects, Mpofu said.
He said the institution has so far received 16,367 applications and about
3,535 were approved.
Most of the applications so far have been for capacity building, failing to
meet set criteria for funding.
CABS, he said, provided $1 million to the youth ministry to train the youth
before they could apply for the loans.
Some applications, at least 5 percent, were rejected because applicants were
over the 35-year age limit, said Mpofu.
Thirty-three percent of the applications came from young women while 66
percent were male.
Mpofu failed to explain why there was a low uptake of the fund as it was
widely publicised through the media, the youth ministry, CABS branches and
the Zimbabwe Youth Council.
He said lawmakers should also advertise the fund in their constituencies.
Mpofu said disbursement was not done along political party lines, adding the
bank only considers the viability of the projects.
He said most of the funding has gone to projects in the agriculture sector.
Successful youths get $5,000 per project with a maximum repayment period of
The Youth Empowerment Fund was established last year as part of Old Mutual
Zimbabwe’s contribution to the country’s indigenisation and empowerment
Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said the youth empowerment fund
has been facing some challenges though the programme is progressing well.
by Nelson Sibanda
The office of prime minister will remain functional after parliament has
dissolved on 29 June 2013, PM Morgan Tsvangirai told journalists at a Press
Conference held at Harvest House in Harare on Wednesday.
Section 15 of the constitution prescribes that the executive arm of the
state would run affairs of the country until a new government comes into
The Zimbabwe state executive is comprised of the state president and his
deputies, the prime minister and his deputies and cabinet.
Tsvangirai made the clarification following media reports that he would
leave office at the end of parliament’s five year term in June 2013.
“I think our constitution clearly states that the prime minister’s office
and his deputies will remain in office after the term of parliament expires
since we are part of the government executive,” said Tsvangirai.
The PM said the signing of the constitution Bill by President Robert Mugabe
does not mean elections will be held soon.
He said the signed Constitution Bill has 30 days to become law as there is a
month window period of publication.
The 30 days will be followed by another month of voter registration. After
the voter registration there will be another 30 days of voter inspection.
“In this respect, we cannot talk of elections in August given the United
Nations World Tourism Summit to be held in Victoria Falls,” said Tsvangirai.
He said after the coming 90 days there could be a further proclamation of 45
days which is within the provisions of the GPA.
Tsvangirai said the legal parameters in the constitution cannot be avoided.
So elections will be anytime after October.
He reiterated that corrupt party councillors will not stand as MDC-T
candidates in coming elections. The same would apply to other party members
found on the wrong side of the MDC-T code of conduct.
“Corrupt councillors and other members who betrayed the trust invested in
them by residents and the party will not contest on MDC-T ticket. MDC-T says
no to corruption which has become a national disease,” said Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai said if MDC-T allows corrupt party officials to contest elections
under its ticket, it will be betrayal of people’s aspirations and the
struggle for democracy.
Zimbabwe is set to hold elections later this year after agreed benchmarks on
the election road map have been met.
on May 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm
ETHIOPIA – Zimbabwe Civil society organisations who are on a regional
advocacy blitzkrieg in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia have urged the African Union
(AU) to exert pressure on Zimbabwe to implement critical and credible
reforms before the watershed elections expected to be held after the
adoption of a new constitution.
The revelations were made at a Discussion Forum focussing on the forthcoming
watershed elections in Zimbabwe held under the theme ‘the African Union-
enforcing implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)’ on Monday,
May 20 at Radisson Blu Hotel in Central Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Presenting the Briefing paper to regional civil society representatives and
Journalists at Radisson Blu Hotel in Central Addis, Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition Spokesperson and Bulawayo Agenda Director, Mr Thabani Nyoni told
the gathering that he hoped that civil society in Africa will be able to
help Zimbabwe hold credible, peaceful, free and fair elections.
“We are here in Addis Ababa, the Capital City of Africa to raise our
concerns as civil society in view of the pending watershed harmonised
elections. You are our brothers and sisters and we are confident that your
voice will put pressure on our leaders to insist on the implementation of
reforms which will enable Zimbabwe to hold credible elections”, Nyoni
“ We would like to take advantage of the AU Summit to highlight the good
work the AU has done to bring peace and stability in Zimbabwe”, Crisis
Mr Nyoni informed participants that Zimbabweans were concerned that if
reforms as stipulated in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) are not
implemented, Zimbabwe risked skidding back to social, economic and political
“It is against this background that SADC and AU as the guarantors of the GPA
are urged to adopt a more pro-active role in ensuring the implementation of
the said reforms, and other measures that have been mooted by SADC through
several resolutions and at other fora”, emphasised Nyoni.
A participant from Kenya asked why Zimbabwe did not allow the Diaspora to
vote in the March 16 Referendum since there was a standing African
Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) decision which directed
Zimbabwe to allow its citizens living abroad to vote during March 16
Constitution referendum and elections expected later in 2013.
In response, Mr Nyoni told the participants that the failure by the
Government of Zimbabwe to comply with ACHPR decisions was a clear indication
that Zimbabwe needs to be incubated by SADC and the AU in order to deliver a
“The non-compliance by Zimbabwe is one of the reasons why we are here in
Addis Ababa as Civil Society to urge the AU to put pressure on its member
state to comply both with its own agreements and those made by SADC and AU”,
A Zimbabwe Embassy representative, who also attended the Discussion Forum,
Mr Machigere claimed that as a Government they had not yet received
communication from the African Commission.
Ms. Roselyn Hanzi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and a
prominent Human Rights Lawyer dismissed the Government of Zimbabwe’s
assertion and said that it was one of the strategies used by Zimbabwe to
“It is disheartening that the Government of Zimbabwe expressed ignorance
despite the fact that this decision was made by the ACPHR having heard civil
society and government representatives during the hearing of the petition
submitted by Civil society on behalf of Zimbabwe citizens living in the
Diaspora in March 2013.This only helps in exposing their bag of tricks which
they often use to maliciously and clandestinely evade important decisions
which have a bearing on the future of Zimbabwe”. Hanzi quipped.
Civil Society from Kenya urged Zimbabweans to learn from the recently
concluded Kenyan elections.
“Kenya held national elections in April 2013 to bring to an end a government
of National Unity which was a product of a disputed election in 2007.
Unfortunately the 2013 election brought about another disputed election as
it was pregnant with irregularities and allegations of vote manipulation.
Zimbabwe must learn to put in place mechanisms which will guarantee a free
and fair election to avoid bloodbath”.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson urged the AU to urgently
deploy its observer mission in order to ensure the smooth conduct of
elections in Zimbabwe.
“In the spirit of democracy, peace and stability in the region in general
and Zimbabwe in particular, we directly appeal to the AU in its capacity as
the Guarantor of the GPA to urgently deploy its election observer mission to
Zimbabwe so as to comprehensively observe the whole electoral process”, Mr
The Discussion forum was attended by members of Civil Society from Kenya,
Zambia, Uganda and Ethiopia.
The 23rd ordinary session of the Executive Council is expected to meet at
the AU headquarters from 22- 23 May in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The session is
being held as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the African Union
which will be held on the 25th of May, 2013 under the theme ‘Pan Africanism
and the renaissance’.
The Civil society regional Advocacy mission comprises of representatives
from ZESN, ZLHR, MMPZ, Bulawayo Agenda and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
Thursday 23 May 2013
The Zanu PF Joint Organising Committee is reported to have taken Augustine
Chihuri to task for sanctioning the well attended MDC rally held at the
Zimbabwe grounds on Sunday, 19 May 2013.
The rally attended by over 30 000 party supporters was addressed by
President Tsvangirai who was accompanied by the MDC top leadership.
However, the MDC is well aware and has learnt that a high powered Zanu PF
meeting was held on Tuesday, 21 May 2013, where General Constantine Chiwenga
quizzed the police commissioner general over his sanctioning of the MDC
rally which was well attended.
According to sources who attended the meeting, Chihuri’s response was that
he wanted to test the MDC’s popularity. The service chiefs were shocked by
the overwhelming attendance at the rally despite heavy police presence
around the venue.
The service chiefs were further incensed by the fact that the MDC, as a
Party of Excellence, had before the Zimbabwe Grounds Star rally, managed to
hold a colourful national policy conference in Milton Park, Harare where it
launched its policies on how it will govern the country after winning the
This development by the service chiefs, signals the intention of the service
chiefs and Zanu PF to unleash violence on the people ahead of the coming
elections scheduled for later this year.
As a party, the MDC notes that even before the announcement of the dates for
elections there are already indications of possible violence in the upcoming
election as Zanu PF is sensing heavy defeat at the hands of the MDC in the
local government, parliamentary and presidential elections.
Despite Zanu PF preaching a message of peace in the upcoming elections, the
MDC notes that senior officials in Zanu PF are already strategising on how
they will create alarm and despondency in the upcoming elections and
consequently make the environment conducive for them to rig the upcoming
The MDC strongly condemns the plots by senior Zanu PF officials to use the
military to instigate violence on MDC supporters before, during and after
the harmonised elections.
The behaviour of the securocrats puts paid the MDC’s call for security
sector reforms before holding of elections. The MDC will not be deterred
from its agenda of bringing real transformation to Zimbabwe and would like
to warn the service chiefs from engaging in acts aimed at creating mayhem
and anarchy in Zimbabwe.
MDC remains vigilant and would seriously follow any development meant to
destabilise the peaceful existence of the Zimbabweans with keen interest.
YES together we can complete the change!!!
By Violet Gonda
23 May 2013
A rights activist, who is living with HIV, filed a test case in the newly
constituted Constitutional Court on Thursday to highlight the challenges and
ill treatment facing people living with the virus in the country’s prisons.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said Douglas Muzanenhamo’s landmark
legal application becomes the first case under the new constitutional
dispensation, which was passed by President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday.
Muzanenhamo’s case was heard before new nine Constitutional Court judges,
two of them Justices Ben Hlatshwayo and Bharat Patel, sworn in by Mugabe on
Wednesday, in line with the country’s new constitution. The constitutional
court becomes the highest court of the land after the Supreme Court which
has now been converted to a court of appeal.
Muzanenhamo decided to seek redress with the Constitutional Court after he
was allegedly denied access to life prolonging HIV treatment while in
detention in 2011, when he was incarcerated on treason allegations.
The activist was part of a group of 44, including International Socialist
Organisation leader Munyaradzi Gwisai, accused of plotting “Egyptian-style”
tactics to topple President Robert Mugabe from power. The case was later
thrown out, but the activists had already suffered much while in detention.
One of his lawyers, Tawanda Zhuwarara, told SW Radio Africa that not only
was Muzanenhamo deliberately denied medical attention but he was denied
access to his cellphone so he couldn’t call his family to bring the anti
“While in prison he was placed in solitary confinement for complaining that
they were not treating him well. He also wanted to have access to his own
medication while he was in a remand prison under the Zimbabwe prison Service
but they were refusing to give him his own medication.”
The lawyer added: “The State objected to our application stating that there
were quite a number of disputes of facts. So we managed to air out those
particular issues as well as issues relating to the law – relating to how
individuals are supposed to be treated in custody.”
The State denied withholding treatment and argued there are medically
trained officers who are always available to make a determination of what
type of drugs inmates are supposed to take. But Zhuwarara said his client
was denied the ability to interrogate the qualifications of the medical
officer in prison.
“In fact we don’t even know if that individual was a medical doctor but they
actually gave him medication without taking his medical history. They gave
him medication without making a prescription. They also gave him medication
that he could not verify if they were ARVs because they were markedly
different from the type of drugs that the was taking,” pointed out the
A statement by the ZLHR said that this is not an isolated case as many other
detainees are denied medical care if they are perceived to belong to certain
Muzanenhamo had been living with HIV for almost two decades but the ZLHR
said: “Due to improper administration of ARVs, Muzanenhamo’s health
condition deteriorated rapidly and his CD4 count dropped from the normal 800
to 579. Had he stayed longer in the custody of police and prison
functionaries, he would have suffered more damage to his health and
The Constitutional Court reserved its judgment to a later date.
by Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has lashed at journalists for practicing what he
termed “filthy journalism”, characterised by character assassination and
Speaking soon after appending his signature on the country’s new
Constitution Mugabe said he was saddened by the standards of local
journalism saying (it was) “as if we are not educated at all”.
“Vemapepa journalists, aha, kunongova isu vaviri ndisu tinongonzi nemi nemi.
Herald yakananganawo naTsvangirai (Prime Minister); ininiwo my Mugabe papers
all the time,” he said.
“They (papers) should pay me because they use my name, ‘Mugabe this, Mugabe
that’ so their papers can sell. I am going to acquire those Mugabe papers
and demand that they pay me for promoting them, but don’t tell lies ka,
“Our journalism must be journalism of high standard. Ah, filthy journalism.
Mavakushorwa zvinotondinyadza. It’s as if we are not educated at all.
“Anyway let’s correct ourselves and perhaps sometimes the levels dzevana
vanongoda zviri emotional zvekutukana, zvekudii, nhasi tonyora chii, tichiti
chii. That’s not it.
“We want now to build the nation and build the country, develop our
resources, ensure there is wealth that is shared by the people.
President Mugabe said journalists need to uphold the highest standards of
ethical practice and project the events in a truthfully and professional
Frustrated by partisan political coverage and continued attacks in the State
media, Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party have been pressing for media reforms
before new elections can be held.
Addressing supporters at a rally last week, Tsvangirai warned the MDC-T
would institute sweeping changes in the State media if it takes over power
in elections due this year.
“Those who want to go on a negative drive, those who spend every-day and
night writing negative issues about us, we say it’s your right to abuse us.
But it’s not a monopoly,” he said.
“You can’t have a newspaper which has six articles about Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai this Tsvangirai that - everyday! Regai vakadaro. But umwe musi
rava rakadambura musungo. That kind of media has no future in a democratic
Zimbabwe. I want to tell you this - muchadya izvozvo!”
By Alex Bell
23 May 2013
The Zimbabwean newspaper has launched a new campaign that urges Zim nationals around the world to unite and share their views and hopes for the future of their country.
The ‘My Zimbabwe’ campaign is described as “a call to action to Zimbabweans everywhere to look forward into a future filled with hope.”
People who want to join the movement are encouraged to do so by spreading the word about the campaign online, and sharing the ‘viral’ videos already on YouTube. The videos contain messages of what people want to see in the future, and it is hoped the messages will encourage other people to share their views too.
The ‘My Zimbabwe’ campaign is also on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where people can join the online conversations and share their hopes. The Zimbabwean, as the campaign leaders, are also offering artwork and images that people can share online or print and share at events, to help keep spreading the word.
- The campaign can be followed on Twitter and people can tweet their hopes using #myzim,
- They can also join the campaign on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thezimbabweanonline
- The videos can also be viewed on YouTube. www.youtube.com/thezimbabweanonline
The Zimbabwean says that “through these platforms the voices of the voiceless will be heard right across the world. We are Zimbabweans. We have a future and a hope. The aim is to unite us all behind a single cause – bringing Zimbabweans, wherever they might be, together around a single powerful idea.”
by Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has urged China to help the country
re-build key infrastructure such as roads and railways which have fallen
into disrepair due to underinvestment.
Speaking during a meeting with visiting Chinese vice Premier Wang Yang in
Harare Wednesday, Tsvangirai said: “we are keen to have Chinese investors in
Fledgling economy, albeit, on a win-win basis.
“Areas where we need assistance include investment in the development of key
infrastructure such as roads, rail and other sectors which would go a long
way in improving the business environment in our country.
“We are also keen to learn how China has done it, especially in respect of
private-private partnerships which we think would go a long way in
addressing the many challenges that we face as a nation.”
Zimbabwe is working to improve its pot-holed road-network after years of
neglect as the country battled a serious economic crisis in the last decade
while analysts have also warned that the rail system is near collapse.
Tsvangirai assured Wang that Zimbabwe would respect property rights, an area
of concern among investors as the country implements its indigenisation
“On our part, we pledge to respect property rights as part of the many
rights that are now protected by our new Constitution which Zimbabweans
recently endorsed overwhelmingly,” said.
“We respect property rights and we hope to receive FDI from China which will
work as a catalyst to the development of our economy and lead to improved
livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe and the sustainability of Chinese
The Chinese leader urged the government to ensure peace and political
stability ahead of elections this year to safeguard economic growth.
"A peaceful and stable political environment is the pre-requisite for
economic development," Wang told journalists after the meeting with
By Nomalanga Moyo
23 May 2013
The dysfunctional Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has approached
parliament in a bid to get funding for its operations, a few months before
the end of its tenure.
The commission was set up in 2009 under the current inclusive government, to
investigate human rights abuses following the bloody 2008 elections.
But four years later and a few months from the expiry of its life on June
29th, the body exists only on paper, with its operations hindered by a lack
of financial support from government.
Last Thursday, the commissioners appeared before a senate thematic committee
on human rights where they pleaded for resources from the government,
according to a Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights report.
Commission chairperson Jacob Mudenda told the parliamentary committee that
the human rights body was handicapped by a lack of proper offices, vehicles
Mudenda also asked parliament to amend the law governing the Commission’s
work, saying that sections of the ZHRC Act infringed on the independence and
impartiality of the body.
The commissioners apparently told shocked senators that so far funding for
their work has come from the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Danida),
while the Norwegians are expected to provide the money for the vehicles.
The commissioners also indicated that they would like to be remunerated in
the same way ministers and judges are rewarded.
The extent of the commission’s empty coffers was revealed when Mudenda told
senators that the human rights body had to borrow $500 to open a bank
Despite the challenges, the Commissioners reportedly pledged not to resign
in protest over clauses that compromise their independence and impartiality
but resolved to press for the amendment of the offensive sections.
In December 2012, former Commissioner Professor Reginald Austin resigned as
head of the statutory body, citing ‘inhibiting laws’ and a lack of
Austin said at the time: “The critical reason for my resignation is the
legal framework … within which the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission is
expected now and in the future, to carry out its mandate. As a national
human rights institution the commission must be independent and properly
Although Austin’s resignation had been expected to be a wake-up call for the
government to address the issues he raised, nothing was done, with questions
being asked about the state’s commitment to upholding human rights.
South Africa-based human rights lawyer Daniel Molokela, said he is not
surprised that ZHRC is suffering from a lack of funding and support from the
“The situation at the commission is reflective of the human rights context
in Zimbabwe, where the post-independence government has always struggled
when it comes to dealing with the human rights violations.
“The Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and the election violence of 2008 all remain
unresolved issues and for as long as the government set up remains polarised
and compromised, we won’t see much support being given to the commission.
“Perhaps if there is a change of government in the next election we may
begin to see an effective human rights commission.
“Currently, even if the Commission is fully funded, they will not have any
impact because the very nature of government funded human rights
institutions, including the police force, are rooted in the political
dynamic,” Molokela said.
He called for the institutional overhaul of the ZHRC, saying it would be
more effective if it was embedded in parliament rather than the political
WASHINGTON DC — South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has
recommended that Zimbabwe sends its election funding appeal to the Southern
African Development Community for consideration, contradicting remarks by
the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, last week that
Pretoria was willing to help fund Zimbabwe’s elections.
Gordhan was responding to questions in the South African parliament on
reports that Harare had requested funding from Pretoria.
Reached for comment by VOA, Ebrahim refered all questions to Gordhan, whose
office said he was unavailable. Cash strapped Zimbabwe needs about US$132
million to finance elections expected later this year.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti is on record saying Zimbabwe has appealed to
regional giants, South Africa and Angola, for election funding. A senior
South African foreign ministry official told VOA though that biti is yet to
officially request the country’s southern neighbour for money.
VOA could not reach Biti who is said to be in China. Zimbabwe had initially
requested election funding from the United Nations. But Zanu-PF rejected
what it called “conditions attached to the aid”.
Political analyst Blessing Vava of the National Constitutional Assembly said
that if SADC funds the election, it will have more leverage in pushing for
reforms in Harare.
This is Just the Beginning of a Long Journey
Prof. Arthur G.O. Mutambara, Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe
22th May 2013, Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s new constitution has been signed into law. This is a great day
for our nation as we crafted this document on our own as Zimbabweans without
the supervision or interference of foreigners. It is a dramatic improvement
on the Lancaster House constitution. Well done Zimbabwe. We are now masters
of our own destiny as this new legal dispensation defines the trajectory of
our nation into posterity. As we celebrate this outstanding achievement, let
us pick up some lessons as a polity and as a nation.
We must clearly understand why we were successful in the crafting the new
constitution. We accomplished this feat because we worked together as Team
Zimbabwe, concentrating on those things that unite us and de-emphasizing our
differences. We put Zimbabwe first, above partisan and personal aspirations.
Nation building values such as unity of purpose, peace, tolerance, national
interest, emphasis on national sovereignty, inclusiveness, strength in
diversity, and dignity of difference, are what got us here. We disagreed
without being disagreeable. Our differences and variation in views and
thoughts were not antagonistic. No one challenged the sovereignty of
Zimbabwe. The key lesson is that we are all Zimbabweans. No one group of
persons is more Zimbabwean than the other. No political party has monopoly
over patriotism. Going forward, we must maintain the spirit and values that
we deployed in crafting the new constitution. This enabling national
disposition exercised by the citizenry should become our way of life and
define our perception of, and commitment to, nationhood. Specifically, as
we prepare and march towards our next elections let us clearly understand
and deploy the spirit, value system and modus operandi that allowed us to
deliver this great document. If we sincerely do that, it actually means that
it should not matter which political Party wins in those elections. Zimbabwe
and its people would have won.
The second message we must grasp as we embrace this new constitutional
dispensation is that we must believe in, and start living, the ideals and
provisions of the document. We must cultivate and build the culture, the
behavior and the tradition of respecting and adhering to the constitution.
This is called constitutionalism. This is harder than crafting a
constitution, which is ostensibly a piece of paper. Developing a national
value system rooted in constitutionalism, requires social mobilization,
civic education and leading by example. It requires time and cannot be
proclaimed into existence by a signature. If we look at our short history as
a sovereign nation from 1980 to now, we have done things that are not
provided for in that flawed, and amended several times, Lancaster House
constitution. In other words we as Zimbabwean individuals and institutions
have in various ways violated the Zimbabwean constitution in the past thirty
three years. Laws and rules did not stop us from misbehaving. The message is
that in addition to this piece of paper we have signed, we must develop a
new value system that puts constitutionalism at the center of our thoughts
and actions. That journey starts today. All this must be complemented and
enabled by transformational leadership, innovative institutions and learning
organizations. In fact, constitutionalism is more important than the
The last message on this great occasion is that a good constitution must be
a basis to improve the quality of life and the material conditions of
citizens. We had animated debates and great conversations throughout the
country when we were crafting the new constitution. We must now have the
same level of excitement and vigor about the national economic agenda,
through the crafting of a shared national economic vision and national
economic strategy; all rooted in effective implementation. We are a
massively resource rich nation. How can we leverage our natural resources in
pursuit of shared and inclusive economic development and growth? These are
the next challenges of an economic nature that demand the active
participation of the government, the private sector, the civic society, and
the generality of the population. For example, let us see a mobilized
citizenry thoroughly engaged in the discussions to develop a new mining
policy leading to a new Mines and Minerals Act. We have civic organizations
such as the NCA whose primary focus has been to champion the debates around
the crafting of a new constitution. While their work must be acknowledged
and saluted, we need to see more NGOs whose focus will be on the economy,
challenging Zimbabweans to develop and implement economic blueprints and
frameworks. We must never forget matters of sustainable national economic
development and shared economic prosperity. The stomach, the stomach, the
stomach is more important than the constitution.
With the signing of this constitution we have begun our long and arduous
journey towards a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe.
I thank you
Arthur G.O. Mutambara
Deputy Prime Minister, Republic of Zimbabwe
22 May 2013
CLEARING THE MIST: ZLHR POSITION PAPER ON ELECTIONS AND THE NEW CONSTITUTION
WHICH CONSTITUTION WILL GUIDE US ON ELECTORAL PROCESSES?
On 22 May 2013, President Robert Mugabe assented to the Constitution of
Zimbabwe (Amendment No.20) Bill (hereafter referred to as “the new
Constitution”). It was gazetted on the same day. This is the “publication
day” of the new Constitution, on which various of its Chapters have come
into operation. This includes Chapter 7, which deals with elections. The
only sections of Chapter 7 which have not become operational, are section
158 (timing of elections), section 160 (number of constituencies and wards),
and section 161 (delimitation of electoral boundaries).
In all matters relating to the upcoming electoral process, therefore,
Chapter 7 of the new Constitution will be the supreme and binding law.
However the timing of elections will be done in terms of the current
Lancaster House Constitution (hereafter referred to as “the old
Constitution”), whilst constituency and ward boundaries will remain as they
were for the 2008 elections, and there will not be a fresh delimitation
So the new Constitution and the old Constitution will be operating
simultaneously for purposes of the timing of elections. They must be read
together with the Sixth Schedule of the new Constitution which contains
provisions to assist during the transition from the old Constitution to the
TIMING OF ELECTIONS
The timing of elections is difficult to estimate and essentially depends on
when Parliament will complete election-related amendments and when those
amendments become operational (when the President assents to the
amendments), as well as when the voter registration and inspection exercise
is carried out. What follows is the minimum time-frame for various
1. President Limited in when he can Announce the Date of an Election
Part 3, Section 8 of the Sixth Schedule stipulates that the first elections
must be conducted in terms of the Electoral Law in conformity with the new
Constitution. All action taken must therefore comply with the provisions of
the new Constitution. As certain electoral processes have changed in the new
Constitution, the current Electoral Act, regulations, and other laws and
regulations related to elections must be amended so that they comply with
the new Constitution. Additionally, there will be need to amend the Local
Government Act and the Provincial Councils Act. It would also be folly to
proceed to elections without addressing key reforms of legislation relating
to media, access to information, public order, criminal procedure and the
justice delivery system (including the mandate and operations of the
Electoral Court). All of these relate to elections and have been affected by
the new Constitution.
The new Constitution clearly sets out in section 157(5) that all amendments
to the Electoral Law and any other law relating to elections must be made
before an election date is proclaimed. Once an election date is announced,
absolutely no amendments can be made to the Electoral Law or other laws
relating to elections, either by Parliament, or by the President using his
executive powers under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act. The
President therefore has to wait for all electoral amendments to be adopted
by both Houses of Parliament and he must sign them into law before he can
announce an election date. It should be noted that the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) must be consulted on all proposed amendments relating to
elections. If this process is not followed, the President will be violating
the new Constitution.
2. Mandatory Voter Registration and Inspection Exercise
Section 6(3) of the Sixth Schedule specifically states that there shall be a
special and intensive voter registration and inspection exercise for at
least 30 days after the publication of the new Constitution. This does not
have to start immediately after the publication date, and will also be
dependent on preparedness, as well as adequate human and financial
resourcing of ZEC, which will supervise the Registrar-General’s (RG) office
during this exercise. There is also a possibility of extending this 30-day
period if it does not satisfy the needs of people wishing to register to
vote or inspect the voters’ roll. The 30-day exercise is mandatory and
failure to carry out this exercise after the new Constitution comes into
effect will be a violation of the new Constitution by ZEC and the RG’s
3. Proclaiming an Election Date
At the very earliest, the President could proclaim the date of the election
15 days before the end of the voter registration and inspection exercise,
but only if all the amendments to the Electoral Law and other related laws
have been finalised and are operational. This would mean that, the day after
the exercise ends, the voters’ roll would close and 14 days later,
Nomination Court could sit in terms of section 157(3) of the new
Constitution. Polling can then occur – at the very earliest – 30 days after
Nomination Court has sat.
4. Date by which Elections must be Held
Section 58(1) of the Old Constitution states that a general election must be
held within a period not exceeding 4 months after Parliament is dissolved.
If Parliament runs its full course, an election would therefore have to be
held before 29 October 2013. If Parliament is dissolved earlier by the
President, elections must be held within 4 months of the date on which he
dissolves Parliament. In other words the country has four months to announce
an election date, convene nomination courts, and hold the polls.
THE PREREQUISITES BEFORE AN ELECTION DATE IS ANNOUNCED
Particular national processes must occur in terms of the new Constitution
before an election date can be announced.
(a) All amendments to the Electoral Law and election-related legislation
must be finalised and operational.
(b) A 30-day voter registration and inspection exercise has been carried
out. [If a date is announced after (a) but still during the voter
registration exercise, the announcement can only be done 15 days before the
end of the voter registration exercise.]
(c) Once an election date is proclaimed, a minimum of 44 days (14 days
between proclamation of the date and the sitting of the Nomination Court,
and a further 30 days between the sitting of the Nomination Court and
Polling Day) must elapse before actual voting.
(d) The polls must be held within 4 months of the dissolution of
Parliament. [At the latest elections must be held by 29 October 2013, if
Parliament runs its full course, or alternatively within 4 months of the
date on which the President dissolves Parliament.]
For Parliament to extend its life, and/or for the current government to
extend itself beyond 29 October 2013, there will be need for a
constitutional amendment, possibly together with a new political agreement.
If the above processes are not complied with there will be a constitutional
crisis that would give rise to the real probability of protracted
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
by Tawanda Majoni
I kick myself for choosing Zanu (PF) as my subject matter once again.
It would seem as though I am obsessed with the party. Yet, if you have lived
your life in Zimbabwe since Zanu (PF) took power, you will understand how
that party has pervaded our lives.
So, I beg the reader’s indulgence as I try to unpack its suicidal and
contradictory, if not self-defeating, insistence on a hurried general poll.
As I have pointed in the past, President Robert Mugabe publicly declared
election dates on five separate occasions since 2010. But none have seen the
light of day.
Last December, for instance, the party resolved at its annual conference
that it wanted the harmonised polls held by March this year, a date as
untenable as earlier ones, and certainly not more feasible than the June 29
that Mugabe and his party are touting at the moment with the verve of a mad
drummer who does not when people stop dancing.
At the onset, let me clear a possible untidiness. It is a fallacy to refer
to Zanu (PF) as though it were a homogenous formation. That party is as
unitary as is our current Government of National Unity, if you see what I
mean! There is a largely progressive faction, forgive it its own spots, and
there is the exact opposite, comprising mainly a militant, die-hard coterie
that you would safely blame for most of the trouble we have endured.
The relatively sober faction, I dare say, is made up of people who many have
slotted in the so-called Mujuru camp, with one or two extras. The other
camp, you have guessed, is the hard core that has always been pushing for
all the wrong things in this country. This grouping goes beyond the
hard-line politicians ordinarily huddling in the Mnangagwa faction. It
consists also of the securocrats, kleptomaniacs and opportunists who do not
necessarily love Emmerson Mnangagwa or Patrick Chinamasa.
The only thing that unites the two complex groups is their amazing tendency
to find solace in history rather the present and future. They are also
united by their belief that the only person who can guarantee their survival
is Robert Mugabe, hence the Old Man is always smiling all the way to the
bank as the groups grovel at him to ensure their preservation.
So, when I mention Zanu (PF), I am referring to the second group, the one
made up of hardliners who can easily go to sleep after chopping off the
hands of a grandmother whose only sin is bearing a child with a non-Zanu
(PF) way of thinking.
This is the grouping that has always wanted to fast track post-2008
elections, and for a good number of bad reasons. Never mind the fact that
Mugabe has been making the public pronouncements. That is illusory because,
he has no choice but to play along with the hardliners.
He is walking a tight rope - forced to do whatever he can to ensure he does
not fall off, especially in his twilight lap. The hard core is full of
clever spinners who have somehow managed to make him say what they believe
I am firmly convinced that the hard core has, all these years, been busy
weaving a rigging system that it thought would ensure an easy victory for
Zanu (PF) and themselves. Thus, the longer we go without elections, the more
exposed that system becomes.
Of course, a cooked voter’s roll is part of the machinery, but there should
clearly be others that are visible to the ordinary eye. But, the longer it
takes, the riskier their game becomes. I am not sure if Mugabe knows this,
but, as a politician who wants to retain power, there are slim chances of
him dismantling the evil machine willingly.
The hardliners know very well that their fortunes hinge on Mugabe’s
presence, and, as other analysts have already pointed out, they want to make
hay while the Old Man is still agile enough to rally the party. Because most
of the people in this group lack grassroots popularity, a disintegrated Zanu
(PF) would be their surest nemesis because it would expose them. This group
would not survive a minute longer if Mugabe were to get out of the picture
in one way or another.
Yet there could be another reason. Obviously, an election victory will not
come on a silver platter for the larger Zanu (PF), less still for the
hardline Zanu (PF).
There would therefore be no sane reason why some people from within would
want to rush a level election. It could therefore be possible that the hard
core is just putting up a façade and testing the ground. - For feedback,
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