23 May 2012
Violet Gonda | Washington
Zimbabwe's Attorney General Johannes Tomana has filed a lawsuit against the
European Union seeking the removal of sanctions targeting President Robert
Mugabe and his close allies, charging the measures are illegal and violate
At least 120 Zanu PF members on the sanctions register are part of the suit,
which the EU says is surprising given recent bilateral talks between Harare
and Brussels to normalize ties.
The EU slapped Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle with travel and financial
restrictions in 2002 over allegations of human rights violations and voter
Tomana's suit was filed with the European Union General Court of Justice
where a similar action was taken a few weeks ago by David Matsanga, a
prominent supporter of Mugabe's Zanu PF party based in London.
The sanctions issues has long been a divisive factor in Zimbabwe with Zanu
PF demanding their removal while the two MDC formations have somewhat been
indifferent, insisting they were not affecting ordinary citizens.
But a power-sharing agreement reached in 2009 has forced the MDC to actively
lobby the EU and the United States to ease the measures against Mr. Mugabe,
arguing they are having a ripple effect on all Zimbabweans.
The EU has recently removed some entities and individuals from its list
deemed no longer deeply involved in human rights breaches.
A Zimbabwean inter-party ministerial delegation, comprising ministers
Patrick Chinamasa, Elton Mangoma and Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga
pressed the EU in a meeting in Brussels two weeks ago to remove the
And in Washington Tuesday, Education Minister David Coltart of the MDC
formation led by Welshman Ncube told U.S officials the measures have
"outlived their purpose."
Coltart told the U.S. Foreign Policy Journal: “The sanctions were always
symbolic in many respects and their primary purpose was to stigmatize those
responsible for human rights abuses.
"That stigma will not be removed with the removal of sanctions. Ironically,
sanctions are being used by hardliners as an excuse for ongoing economic
woes. Of course, it’s a lie. But for a country that’s starved of
information, it’s a lie that people sometimes believe.”
EU parliamentarian Geoffrey Van Orden told VOA he was shocked by the
“That is only two weeks ago and it strikes me as rather bizarre. That team
included Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and now just two weeks later we
have the attorney general, presumably who works in an office not too far
away from the Justice Minister, coming up with this ludicrous idea," he
London-based analyst George Shire said Zimbabwe has a case to make in the
European courts. He added that the sanctions were in violation of the
Cotonou Agreement, which governs relations between the European Union and
“Political violence in Zimbabwe is not generated by insistence of one
political party. It is within that political network or that culture and
people who generate violence against each other are connected to all
political parties," said Shire.
“The position that the West takes on Zimbabwe in itself adds to that picture
of violence and it does not urge people to live together peacefully.”
HARARE May 24 Sapa-AFP | 24 May, 2012 19:50
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday lashed out at the "selfish"
West for denying Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala the
opportunity to head the World Bank.
Okonjo-Iweala, a respected economist, last month lost the World Bank
president post to Korean-American Jim Young Kim, in a first-ever challenge
to US domination of the job.
"We were very saddened that you didn't make it," Mugabe told a women's
conference in Harare, which the Nigerian minister was attending.
"You know the Europeans are very selfish, they want to retain power in these
"The World Bank, no African can head it. The IMF, no African can head it. So
it will take us time to be equal," said Mugabe.
Under a tacit agreement since the Bretton Woods institutions were founded
nearly 70 years ago, the United States has always picked one of its citizens
for the helm of the World Bank while Europe has held control of who leads
the International Monetary Fund.
The US nominee faced a challenge for the first time in 66 years from two
strong developing country candidates.
Okonjo-Iweala meanwhile said her candidacy for the World Bank president has
proven that developing countries can lead global institutions.
"I think they (World Bank) have absolutely no choice, they have to evolve,"
"It was a game changer that we cannot have the same processes that have gone
on for 60 years going on in future, therefore I am confident that going
forward there will be a more level playing field, more competition will be
Meanwhile, UN rights chief Navi Pillay, who is on a five day visit to
Zimbabwe, also attended the conference.
"The lack of respect for women's rights remain entrenched in our society,"
"In sub-Saharan Africa alone young women 15-24 years are as much as eight
times more likely than men to be living with HIV," noted Pillay, calling on
countries to address the problem.
By GILLIAN GOTORA, Associated Press – 1 hour ago
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's president said Thursday that
homosexuality doesn't belong in Zimbabwe and it violates women's rights by
denying the union of men and women needed to bear children.
Robert Mugabe, 88, speaking at a women's HIV/Aids and gender rights
conference in Harare, said the "gay world" goes against nature.
After earlier remarks by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay referring to the
criminalization of homosexuality in some countries, Mugabe said Zimbabwe and
Africa won't recognize same-sex marriage because it leads to human
He said male homosexuality took away women's traditional rights of being
Homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, who has repeatedly described same-sex partners as "lower than dogs
and pigs," has vowed not to allow gay rights to be included in a new
constitution being drafted.
"Mothers were given the talent to bear children. That talent doesn't belong
to men," he said.
"When God created Adam ... if Adam had desired a person like him it would
not have made him any happier," Mugabe said.
"When a man says he wants to get married to another man, we in Zimbabwe
don't accept it. We can't talk of women's rights at all if we go in that
direction. It will lead to extinction," he said.
On demands for women's equality, Mugabe said he doubted women will get equal
representation as lawmakers in Zimbabwe.
"Our customs look down on women as inferior. Men pay cattle and money to get
a wife and expect women to obey them. Women will surely lose. Men say that
women are not as knowledgeable as us. The attitude of men still despises
women," he said.
Pillay told Thursday's GlobalPower Women Network Africa meeting on women's
rights that decisive leadership was needed to craft fair laws and policies
on property rights for widows, early marriages, sexual violence, marital
rape, homosexuality and commercial sex work.
She arrived Sunday to assess human rights in Zimbabwe. It is the first visit
of a UN human rights chief to the troubled southern African nation.
Thursday's women's rights meeting coincided with the release of Amnesty
International's annual global rights report.
The report cited one of its concerns over the past year as "worsening
discrimination in Africa over people's sexual orientation or gender
It said in October that two allegedly gay men were arrested in Harare after
being assaulted by Zimbabwean mobs. Mugabe's party militants then repeatedly
threatened violence against the men's lawyers when a court cleared them of
engaging in homosexuality.
Amnesty also said Thursday that police in Zimbabwe have continued to harass,
intimidate and assault perceived opponents of Mugabe's ZANU PF party.
It said in the past year "security elements" had arrested senior politicians
aligned to the former opposition in the nation's three-year coalition
government and disrupted their political activities.
Human rights defenders were also arrested, detained and tortured, Amnesty
Mugabe's party has denied the existence of state-sponsored political
violence in meetings with Pillay.
She ends her weeklong visit Friday.
Imagen de muestraHarare, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe told the UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, this country will hold
elections in 2012, although no exact date has been set for this process.
According to the daily The Herald, Mugabe told the UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights, in official visit to Zimbabwe, that the national unity
government does not have popular mandate to continue expanding the Global
Political Agreement (GPA).
Mugabe, leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front
(Zanu-Pf) and in power since 1980, formed in 2009, after the 2008 elections,
a government of national unity with the current prime minister, Morgan
During the meeting between Pillay and Mugabe on Wednesday, the president
explained how the West's illegal sanctions damanged the economy of Zimbabwe
and gave the example of Bulawayo (south) where there are closed industries
as a result of these punitive measures.
Mugabe told the UN official how the North Americans entities frustrated
diamond sales, although the country was granted permission to export their
gems by the Kimberly Process certification scheme.
Modificado el ( jueves, 24 de mayo de 2012 )
by Staff Reporter
THE United Nations’ top envoy on human rights was given a history lesson
during a meeting with President Robert Mugabe in Harare on Wednesday.
Navanethem Pillay praised Mugabe’s strong message against political violence
and urged him to work harder to ensure future elections were free of
intimidation and coercion.
Pillay told reporters part of their talks, lasting two hours, had involved a
monologue by Mugabe in which he “linked some of the current problems to the
She admitted to being an admirer of Mugabe, the liberator, during Zimbabwe’s
bush war for independence in the 1970s. She had celebrated his release from
detention by the racist colonial regime, she said.
The ZBC, citing sources, reported last night that Mugabe walked the UN
envoy – in Zimbabwe at the invitation of the ruling coalition partners –
through “the colonial history of Zimbabwe and the post independence era
which has been a frustrating period of destabilisation of the country by the
west who embarked on the regime change agenda following the country’s land
Mugabe also told the envoy that “the powerful western media has been abused
to peddle falsehoods about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe”, the ZBC
Mugabe also reiterated that elections must be held this year, despite
opposition by his coalition partners.
The 88-year-old leader also brought up familiar themes including western
sanctions imposed on the country since 2001.
“In the context of human rights, President Mugabe said the economic
hardships brought about by the illegal sanctions have denied the majority of
Zimbabweans the enjoyment of their economic rights,” the report said.
Mugabe told Pillay that the United States was intercepting payments for
diamond exports, hurting Zimbabwe’s efforts to stabilise its economy.
Pillay told reporters: “I commended the President for making a call that
there should be no violence in future elections and I urged him to continue
to make such calls.”
Pillay, who arrived in Harare on Sunday, met Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai on Tuesday. Tsvangirai told her violence was on the decline since
the condemned June 2008 presidential election run-off which saw Mugabe
agreeing to share power under regional pressure.
“There has been progress on the country’s human rights situation although
more still needs to be done. We hope to have a free and fair election,”
Tsvangirai said after meeting Pillay, taking a different line from his MDC-T
party which said in a statement that he would brief the envoy about “the
deteriorating human rights situation in the country”.
23 May 2012
Jonga Kandemiiri, Mavis Gama | Harare, Washington
Youths of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party declared Wednesday that
Zimbabwe will never be governed by anyone else besides the 88-year old
leader, adding in the event he stepped aside, the military should take
Singing revolutionary songs at a World Federation of Democratic Youth
conference in Harare, the youths vowed they will never allow the MDC to take
over power, even if the party won an election.
Addressing more than two hundred youths from countries with liberation
backgrounds that were in attendance, Zanu PF national chairman, Simon
Khaya-Moyo told the activists to "resist imperialism."
Khaya-Moyo condemned Western sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe
and his close allies in Zanu PF saying they were undermining the land reform
program, under which white-owned farms were compulsorily seized and parceled
Moyo's speech came at a time Zimbabwe is hosting the United Nations Human
Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay.
The conference was attended by youths from Mozambique, Venezuela, Cuba,
Zambia, Angola, Democratic Republic of Korea, Vietnam, South Africa,
Namibia, Palestine, Tanzania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Lebanon,
Russia, Cyprus, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo and
The Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe represented the communist nation while
the Pakistani deputy ambassador stood in for his country.
The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai said it was not invited.
Many other local youth organizations were also not attending as they were
not invited to the conference whose participants were drawn from countries
that fought for independence from former colonial powers.
Tsvangirai MDC youth secretary Promise Mkwananzi dismissed assertions by
Zanu PF youths that only Mugabe should rule Zimbabwe as “day dreaming.”
by Staff Reporter
THE Zanu PF politburo has warned President Robert Mugabe’s would-be
successors that no leadership challenge would be entertained until the party’s
next elective congress in 2014.
Zanu PF is struggling with deep divisions over its next leader, made worse
by concerns about Mugabe’s age and speculation over his health.
Mugabe turned 88 this year but has repeatedly dismissed media reports of
failing health, insisting his is in more than fine fettle for a man his age.
The assurances have not stopped ambitious lieutenants from positioning
themselves for the top job leading to bitter divisions in the party which
have cascaded down to the districts.
But spokesman Rugare Gumbo warned on Wednesday: “If there is anyone who is
interested in the leadership of the party, they should wait for the party’s
congress in 2014, where they should express their interests.
“They should mobilise support following laid-down party procedures rather
than threatening people. That is not democracy and it is retrogressive to
Despite recently distancing themselves from a challenge for the party
leadership, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice President Joice
Mujuru are said to be the main contenders to take over from Mugabe.
The two lead bitterly opposed groups in the party that have been blamed for
deepening divisions which were recently exposed in the recent district
committee elections in Masvingo and Manicaland which were marred by clashes
between supporters and allegations of vote buying.
Gumbo said the politburo had made it clear that the current leadership
structure should be respected until the party’s next elective congress.
“We have the presidency where we have President Mugabe as the first
secretary of the party and Vice-Presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo as
second secretaries,” Gumbo said.
“We also have the presidium which includes the national chairman (Simon
Khaya Moyo) and the secretary for administration (Didymus Mutasa). Any other
person claiming to lead the party outside that hierarchy is just a
And in remarks that suggest Mujuru probably suspected senior officials were
trying to undermine her position, Gumbo said the Vice President had reminded
last week’s politburo meeting that she was elected with the unanimous
support of the party’s provinces.
“She talked about the protocol of the party and that she was elected by all
the party’s 10 provinces, and that is not a secret,” he said.
Mujuru’s could be trying to shore-up her position after her succession
prospects were dealt a serious blow with the death of her influential
husband and former army chief, General Solomon Mujuru.
A privately-owned weekly claimed that she had been like “a tiger” during the
stormy meeting and spoke strongly against those trying to undermine senior
leaders and destabilise structures through ambitious agendas.
Meanwhile, Gumbo said senior party officials should set aside their personal
ambitions and work towards ensuring victory in elections which Mugabe
insists must be held this year.
“Let us focus on strengthening the party rather than destabilise it, that is
the position of the Politburo ... Our role is to strengthen the party to
ensure that it is strong ahead of the elections,” he told the state-run
By Tererai Karimakwenda
Workers at Zimbabwe’s national railway company have made desperate appeals
to Transport and Communications Minister Nicholas Goche to appoint a board
of directors, so that they can receive wages after nearly six months.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is struggling with a financial
crisis that has left workers unpaid for most of this year, with management
claiming there is no money. A decision on the outstanding salaries can only
be made once a new board is appointed.
“I talked to the Transport Minister Nicholas Goche sometime last week and he
said there will be a board very soon,” SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel
Saungweme said, referring to Goche’s appearance at the ICT Conference in
Bulawayo last week.
The ailing parastatal is being run by the Retired Air Commodore Mike
Karakadzai, who as chairman and General Manager also employs many former
military officials and war vets who were allegedly hired because of their
affiliation with ZANU PF.
Just last week in parliament Karakadzai and his former military colleagues
were accused of destroying the NRZ through mismanagement and corruption, in
the same way other parastatals have been run down by former military chefs.
Saungweme said the allegations have merit. “In November and December
management ensured that perks like school fees for their children was
actually paid in advance. The workers in lower grades did not even get
salaries,” Saungweme explained.
Railways workers went on strike a month before the Christmas holidays last
year, demanding their outstanding salaries. But they were ordered back to
work by government, with threats that those who did not comply risked losing
NRZ workers can only hope the Transport Minister appoints a board of
directors by the end of the week, so that a decision on their salaries can
finally be made. It is a mystery just how they have managed to stay at their
jobs without salaries for nearly six months.
By Tichaona Sibanda
24 May 2012
During the last month, police in Masvingo have deployed riot squad officers
to every ZANU PF meeting held in the town to keep warring factions from
coming to blows, SW Radio Africa learned on Thursday.
Die hard supporters of party strongman Emmerson Mnangagwa and pro-Joice
Mujuru loyalists have been fighting each other since the controversial
District Coordinating Committee elections last month.
The factions, while allied against the MDC in their quest to hold on to
power, have been wrestling over control of the party. Ideological and
personal fault lines are growing, especially in Masvingo district where
there were ugly scenes of intra-party violence following another round of
disputed DCC elections in Nyajena, Masvingo South.
Armed police called in to quell clashes are said to have fired shots to
disperse the warring parties. Other party supporters fought running battles
at Shumba Primary School in Masvingo South, after members aligned to the
Mujuru faction accused their rivals of manipulating the elections.
Supporters pelted each other with stones, causing injuries and damage to the
school classrooms with windows shattered. Webster Shamu, the party’s
political commissar has visited Masvingo three times to try and contain the
deepening rift. On each occasion riot police were present.
‘There have been dozens of party supporters from around the district
descending on chief’s hall in Masvingo to see Shamu, and there have been
counter-protests by both factions and war vets, all ingredients for scenes
of mass violence,’ a freelance journalist said.
The journalist told us on all the occasions, heavily armed riot police
managed to keep the factions at bay but were not able to stop members of the
army from booing Shamu during a ZANU PF meeting in ward 10 near Zimuto. The
soldiers, from 4.1 barracks and in civilian clothes embarrassed Shamu when
they openly demanded the reinstatement of former army colonel, Daniel Shumba
back into party structures.
Shumba, the former ZANU PF Masvingo provincial chairman, was suspended from
ZANU PF in December 2004 after he was accused of taking part in an illegal
meeting held in Tsholotsho.
Shumba had recently been co-opted into ZANU PF structures but the politburo
resolved in its extra-ordinary meeting last week that he remain expelled,
because he stood against party sponsored candidates in past elections.
This decision has irked members of the armed forces in Masvingo, considered
to be Shumba’s power base. A source said Shamu was told they wanted Shumba
back as parliamentary candidate in ZANU PF, and no other candidate.
By Lance Guma
24 May 2012
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has denied claims by the ZANU PF controlled
state media that he was travelling with a bloated delegation of 31 people on
his maiden trip to China. The PM heads to China on Friday at the invitation
of the Chinese government for what have been described as ‘high-level
Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka however dismissed the reports on
the size of his delegation as ‘mischievous’ telling SW Radio Africa the PM
was in fact travelling with 11 people from the Ministries of Finance, State
Enterprises, Water Resources Management and other officials from the Harare
Tamborinyoka said the PM “will engage in high-level meetings to resuscitate
several stalled projects in Zimbabwe. Several projects funded through the
China Exim Bank in the fields of energy and water, among others, have
stalled due to several reasons including the country’s failure to service
In China, Tsvangirai is expected to hold meetings with his Chinese
counterpart, Wen Jiabao, attend the official opening of the China
International Fair on Trade in Services (CIFTIS) and then address a Zimbabwe
Promotion conference, among several other engagements.
According to Tamborinyoka the trip will also seek Chinese support in
completing the rehabilitation of Harare’s water and sewerage systems.
Tsvangirai is expected to return next week.
In March 2011 Mugabe arrived at the SADC Troika Summit in nearby
Livingstone, Zambia with an entourage of over 60 people. This contrasted
sharply with South African President Jacob Zuma, who had less than 12 people
around him, and Prime Minister Tsvangirai who travelled with six people.
In October 2011 Mugabe and 62 members of his delegation cancelled a trip to
Switzerland after his wife Grace, spokesman George Charamba and four other
people were denied visas under targeted travel restrictions. Although the
visas were later issued Mugabe and his aides did not travel in protest.
Last year it was reported Mugabe is the biggest spender in government in
terms of foreign trips. This was after he overshot his annual foreign travel
budget by a massive 133 percent in just six months. The 88 year old chewed
up US$20 million in those months including his many trips to the Far East
By Tichaona Sibanda
24 May 2012
Vice-President John Nkomo has been admitted to hospital in Cape Town, South
Africa as he continues to battle cancer.
SW Radio Africa understands that the 77 year-old Nkomo was flown to South
Africa as part of his treatment and rehabilitation. The Vice-President has
been receiving chemotherapy following his diagnosis some two years ago.
Reports from Harare said Nkomo had been missing several crucial government
and ZANU PF meetings this month due to illness. He was absent from Tuesday’s
cabinet meeting and last week’s extraordinary politburo convened to deal
with deepening infighting within ZANU PF following the controversial
District Coordinating Committee elections countrywide.
Sam Sipepa Nkomo, the MDC-T minister for Water Resources Development and a
relative to the Vice-President said it is now in the public domain that his
cousin has not been well, although he added that he is recovering well.
Nkomo is one of three cabinet members receiving cancer treatment in South
Africa. Deputy Prime Minister and MDC-T vice President Thokozani Khupe was
in Johannesburg recently for her cancer radiation therapy treatment.
Khupe underwent a successful operation for breast cancer in November last
year and is back at work in the country. Lands and Rural Resettlement
Minister Herbert Murerwa has also been to South Africa where he also is
receiving treatment for cancer.
The former diplomat and Finance minister has been unwell for some time and
occasionally flies to Johannesburg to undergoing chemotherapy.
Cecilia Jamasmie | May 24, 2012
Zimbabwean miner RioZim Limited is negotiating with global giant Rio Tinto
(LON & NYSE:RIO) in an attempt to acquire the now jointly own Murowa diamond
mine in the in south central region of the country, reports Reuters Africa.
The world’s third largest miner announced in March that it was reviewing its
diamond business, potentially selling it all off.
According to some analysts, the diamond business seems to be "simply too
small" for mining giants such as Rio Tinto, which diamond mines contribute
less than 2% to its earnings.
Rio owns 78% of Murowa, which produced 324,000 carats in the last financial
year, while RioZim controls the outstanding 22% of the mine.
The African company move came as a surprise for the market as RioZim is
facing some financial hassles. On Monday, the company postponed its annual
general meeting scheduled for May 22 to an unspecified date, saying it
needed to finalize its annual report and do “possible adjustments” due the
changes it went through in its bid to recapitalize its operations.
However, Zimbabwe Independent reports the postponement had nothing to do
with the reason given by RioZim, but more to do with the figures over the
external liability, which the auditors had refused to sign for.
Well-placed sources also said as the losses at the mining company
continued to mount, workers were receiving salaries irregularly. Market
commentators have questioned the ability of the recapitalisation partners to
fund the revival of the company, given that only a small percentage of
funding has been released to pay off the company’s debts, which were in
excess of US$50 million as at the end of December 2011.
Rio Tinto operates three diamond mines including Argyle in Australia, Diavik
in Canada's far north and Murowa in Zimbabwe. The miner also has an advanced
diamond project in Bunder, India.
RioZim also mines coal, gold and nickel.
Two other reporters and I were arrested while interviewing villagers about mining pollution.nuisance.” Those charges are still pending.
The company noted that it was less expensive to pollute and pay fines than pay for pollution controls.expensive to pollute and pay the fines in Marange than to pay for the installation of pollution controls.
A health official reported a surge in cases of skin rashes since large-scale diamond mining started.Marange. But she said that until testing of river water and effluent from the processing plants is carried out, it is difficult to link the mining and processing with the rashes.
by Staff Reporter
A COUNCILLOR carved up land reserved for a secondary school into 388
residential stands which he then sold and pocketed the money, a court heard
Boniface Manyonganise, an MDC-T councillor in Chitungwiza, will face a
separate trial with two other councillors – Brighton Mazhindu and Ernest
Muridzi – for allegedly making 24 residential stands out of a road buffer –
a green zone reserved for trees which acts as a noise shield between the
road and housing developments.
Manyonganise is charged with criminal abuse of office – the third official
to be brought to court since a commission appointed by the Local Government
Minister moved in to take over the management of the council when the MDC-T
took the extraordinary step to expel all 24 councillors for corruption.
Prosecuting, David Magwegwe told the court that between January 2010 and
January 2012, Manyonganise caused the creation of 388 residential stands on
land in St Mary's which had been designated by the council for the
construction of a secondary school.
Manyonganise sold the stands at exorbitant prices to desperate residents who
had waited for years on the housing list.
Prosecutors are also charging Manyonganise, along with Mazhindu and Muridzi,
of partitioning a green zone along Chaminuka Road in St Mary’s into 24
residential stands and selling them for personal profit.
Magwegwe strongly opposed bail, but magistrate Anita Tshuma set bond at
US$500 with restrictive conditions, including the surrender of his passport.
He must also report three times to the CID’s Commercial Crimes Unit.
Manyonganise’s arrest follows that of the former Chitungwiza Town Clerk,
Godfrey Tanyanyiwa, over corrupt deals involving more than US$3 million and
Housing Director Jemmina Gumbo.
Investigators say they expect to file more charges in the coming weeks.
Thu, 24 May 2012 15:07 GMT
By Katie Nguyen and Maria Caspani
LONDON (TrustLaw) - For someone who has been arrested 43 times while protesting for social justice in Zimbabwe, the prospect of elections in her homeland evokes a special kind of fear in campaigner Jenni Williams.
The 50-year-old is the executive director and a founding member of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), formed in 2003 to encourage Zimbabwean women to stand up for their rights.
The group of some 80,000 activists has held peaceful demonstrations to highlight issues ranging from access to sanitary pads to the right to education and making electricity more affordable.
"The word 'elections' in Zimbabwe is a word that strikes fear," said Williams who was in London this week to attend the launch of Amnesty International's annual report.
"It is a horrible word for me because, since the election of 2008, the government decided that, during any election period, mobilisers like myself and my colleagues should not be allowed to do their work," she told TrustLaw in an interview.
At Zimbabwe's last election in 2008, critics and opponents say President Robert Mugabe hung on to power by rigging polls and allowing independence war veterans and the youth brigade of his ZANU-PF party to attack the opposition.
Forced into a power-sharing deal with rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe wants elections to be held this year. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), however, says the next vote should come after a new constitution and electoral, security and media reforms are adopted.
Often speaking softly, Williams described how she had been detained three times since the last election.
"The word 'election' immediately means some day I'm going to be back in ... remand prison," she explained.
"Since 2011, I think, related to the impact of the Arab Spring, suddenly our government have realised the work we do to put people on the streets is dangerous and we seem to have become classified as a national security threat. And so, it's very nervous eyes that look towards the immediate future in Zimbabwe."
In its annual report released on Thursday, Amnesty said human rights activists in Zimbabwe continue to face arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, politically motivated charges and even torture in police custody.
It said activists face harassment and intimidation by ZANU-PF members, which increased as ZANU-PF started making pronouncements of a possible election in 2011.
Williams urged U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay, on a rare visit to Zimbabwe this week, to push for the implementation of measures to protect human rights campaigners - as outlined in the pact establishing Zimbabwe's power-sharing government.
"Our lives are at stake," she said. "I've spent many years at the top of a hit list, and I know that I'm probably on the hit list, and I would really like to live to see my grandchildren."
PUT IN A CAGE WITH DOGS
It's with weariness that Williams speaks of being arrested and detained, and the barrage of insults she endures from police and prison officers as well as filthy conditions in jail.
The verbal hounding of women in detention is incessant, Williams said, with running commentary from security forces along the lines of: 'What are you women doing here? You're just trouble-making. You don't have any rights to do these things. You're just being used.'
"You know? (Like) we cannot have our own agency. We must always be assigned to being used by someone else. And so the insults become significant. We are 'prostitutes', 'you women smell of fish'," Williams said.
She also described how male prison guards were allowed to walk in and out of a prison where she had been detained as they pleased, and which had a shower without a door. "You always feel very vulnerable as a woman to those conditions," she said.
There is also the threat of physical and sexual violence.
"Every prisoner is always prone to being beaten and abused by prison officers and police officers. That is a fact. Many of the prostitutes I've been in prison with - because we share the same cells - will be forced to give sexual favours to buy their release. They openly talk about those things," Williams said.
"The one I was with last time said she was trying to refuse to do that and she was then put in the cage with the police dogs until she was forced to give sexual favours, and she said they refused to use condoms."
The role of many women as the head of their households means their involvement in protests may come at a higher price than men.
Williams said many Zimbabwean men had crossed over into neighbouring South Africa and Botswana in search of jobs - leaving their women and children at home.
"Each family is living on a meal-to-meal basis, so if a (human rights) defender is arrested, her family becomes very vulnerable. It's quite a significant thing to be arrested and put away for 48 hours," she said.
Yet Williams is adamant that women must lead the struggle for their rights, despite the personal price they pay.
"We feel that women have to be the leaders of their own emancipation," she said.
She was more cautious about the involvement of men, recalling how WOZA opened its doors to them in 2006 and how they quickly wanted to come and take over. "We said, 'no, no, no - now we're going to give you quota systems and we're going to limit your level of leadership'".
Men and women activists have very different styles, she noted: "We found that women are much cleverer and quicker to understand the power of a placard and standing back and allowing them to beat you without retaliating, whereas men have a different ego. They must be a man and respond."
"Part of strategic non-violence is that you have to create the dilemma, put yourself in the position and then if you are beaten, arrested, tortured, you expose that injustice without retaliating. It's been easier to train the women than it is to train the men," Williams said.
Overturning entrenched sexism is a big challenge.
Williams said during many of her arrests police officers would turn to her husband, saying 'oh Mr Williams, shame, we feel sorry for you'.
"I'm being tortured and abused by these police officers and it's my husband who is getting the sympathy. (They say) 'try and buy a sjambok (whip) and beat her, do us all a favour' - that's the attitude of these guys," Williams said.
"It's a very important thing that we are women doing the work we're doing. Whether men listen or not (now), they'll listen."
Click here to watch a video
introduction by Roy Bennett
Click here to download the full report
Zimbabwe’s politicised security services are the main obstacle to a new life for our nation. It is also true that the success of any attempt to rebuild Zimbabwe after Zanu-PF will depend on the extent to which the security services are democratised and professionalised. These institutions must be thoroughly depoliticised and reformed if we are to begin afresh and if we are to sustain change over the long term.
As such, I commissioned professional consultants to research and write a detailed paper on what a democratic security sector could look like. The resulting document represents my vision of what a new government could do to align the army, air force and CIO with international best-practice. This is not an official policy statement, but rather an ‘icebreaker’. My main aims in publishing the paper are to:
The key proposals in the paper are as follows:
Zimbabweans are an
intelligent, capable people. Together we can build a new security sector and a
new nation out the ashes left by Zanu-PF. I commend this paper to you and ask
that you give me your considered thoughts through the secure feedback form on
I believe firmly that we have the intellectual ability and determination to democratise our security services - but all freedom-loving Zimbabweans need to think and work together on this project if we are to see it become a reality.
Draft Constitution 2012 - The preceding blog presented the first part of the comparison between the provisions of the current Constitution and the Draft Constitution in respect of the Office of the President.
I indicated that the powers vested in that office and the limitations of those powers form major points of contestation. Between 1980 and 1987, Zimbabwe had a ceremonial Presidency and a Prime Minister who exercised executive powers. The structure was modelled along the lines of the Westminster model in the Great Britain, the former colonial power. Therefore, like the British monarch, the President was the Head of State with largely a ceremonial role. The Prime Minister, like his British counterpart, was the Head of Government.
Constitutional Amendment No. 7, fundamentally transformed the legal structure of the state with the introduction of the office of the Executive President. The ceremonial Presidency was abolished as was the Prime Minister’s position – the two being replaced by a powerful office of the Executive President, which combined the ceremonial functions of the President and executive functions of the Prime Minister.
There was always a risk of conflating the ceremonial functions and the executive functions with the risk of having ceremonial functions being exercised as if they were executive functions.
The major problem though was that the creation of an all-powerful Executive Presidency impacted on the other the other arms of the state, particularly Parliament. Its subservience, underwritten in the Constitutional provisions, was exacerbated by the fact that with the Unity Accord between ZANU PF and PF ZAPU in 1987, Zimbabwe was in all but name effectively a One Party State.
When you have a Parliament that is almost exclusively held by one party with the party also holding the Presidency, it means that the Executive, through the agency of the Office of the President is able to dominate Parliament and Parliament will struggle to exercise its role of checking and balancing the Executive.
This series of papers demonstrates attempts through the proposed Constitution aimed at redressing this imbalance between the Office of the President and Parliament. This is Part 2 of the series that commenced in yesterday’s blog:
|Issue 8||Presidential Veto on
|Current Constitution||Section 51 of the
Constitution allows the President a facility to dissolve Parliament if it
insists by a two thirds majority on passing a Bill that he has vetoed.
|Draft Constitution||Clause 7.16 states that if
the President is not happy with a Bill passed by Parliament he may return it to
Parliament for reconsideration but if Parliament approves the Bill by a
two-thirds majority, then the President must either sign it into law or present
it to the Constitutional Court for an advisory opinion on its constitutionality.
If the Constitutional Court says that the Bill is constitutional, the President
has no choice but to sign it.
|Change||The difference is that
whereas under the present Constitution the President can basically dissolve
Parliament if it disagrees with him or her on a Bill, the new Constitution would
take away this power and obligate the President to sign the Bill into law if any
of the circumstances stated is satisfied. In other words, the new Constitution
would limit the Presidential veto on legislation, making it consistent with best
practice. It is undemocratic and absurd that under the current Constitution, the
President can actually dissolve Parliament if there is a disagreement over a
Bill. It gave the President too much power.
|What they don’t want:||The limitations of the
Presidential veto on legislation.
|Issue 9||Justiciability of
|Current Constitution||Section 31K limits the
justiciability of the exercise of certain Presidential powers. It means that the
power of courts to make judgment on the exercise of such powers is limited.
|Draft Constitution||The proposed Constitution
will not place specific limitations on justiciability of Presidential powers.
|Change||The limitation on
justiciability was introduced through Amendment No. 7 in 1987, which introduced
the Executive President’s Office. The difference is that whereas the current
Constitution limits the power of courts to determine the exercise of certain
Presidential powers, the new Constitution will to specifically do that.
The limitations on judicial powers under the current Constitution creates a moral hazard in that the President can abuse his powers or fail to observe the requirements of the procedural Constitution comfortable under the constitutional protection that such powers cannot be challenged before a court of law. This is particularly absurd where the President is required to act on the basis of consultations or advice or recommendation of other persons. Surely to place this beyond the jurisdiction of the courts is to give undue power to the office of the President and reduces the accountability of that office.
There must be a facility to ensure that the President exercises his powers within limits as provided for by the law. The only limitation that might be expected is in respect of the subject matter – where some areas are non-justiciable for example whether or not a President should sign an international treaty. Otherwise the courts should generally have the power to determine whether the President is exercising his powers constitutionally and lawfully.
It would be absurd if it were otherwise given that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land and it obligates the President to observe its terms and defend it. To make the President’s exercise of those powers non-justiciable is to place him above judicial scrutiny and potentially above the Constitution which he is expected to uphold. The new Constitution would ensure that the President’s exercise of his powers is justiciable depending on the subject matter. If the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, then the President should adhere to it and everyone, including the President who is given power by the Constitution must be subjected to judicial scrutiny.
|What they don’t want:||That the President’s
exercise of powers can be challenged before a court of law and made accountable
to the people and the Constitution.
|Issue 10||Power to Appoint Ministers
|Current Constitution||Section 32 gives the
President the power to appoint an unlimited number of Ministers and Deputy
Ministers (This has been qualified by the provision of the GPA which has not
been adhered to and will lapse when the GPA comes to an end)
|Draft Constitution||Clause 6.16 6 provides for
specific limitations on the number of Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
|Change||The difference is that
whereas there is no limitation on the numbers of ministers and deputy ministers
under the current Constitution, this will change under the new Constitution
which makes specific limitations on the number – 25 and 15 respectively. Any
change would require the consent of Parliament. This curbs the power of the
President and minimises the risk of ministerial appointments on the basis of
patronage. Importantly, it avoids the risk of a bloated Cabinet and the costs
that come with it.
|What they don’t want:||Limitations on the number
of ministers and deputy ministers that may be appointed by the President.
|Issue 11||Assumption of Office by new President|
|Current Constitution||Section 28 allows for the
immediate inauguration of the President on the day upon which he is declared to
be elected or within forty-eight hours.
|Draft Constitution||Clause 6.7 states that
where there is no challenge to the election of a President, the new President
will be inaugurated on the ninth day after the date of the declaration of the
result of the presidential election but if there is a challenge, he or she will
be inaugurated within forty-eight hours after the date on which the
Constitutional Court makes its final decision.
|Change||The difference is that
whereas the current Constitution allows immediate inauguration and fails to take
into account challenges to the Presidential election, the new Constitution would
provide for an orderly inauguration that accommodates potential challenges and
allows for finality in the resolution of any dispute before inauguration.
The problem with the current system is that it encourages a rush to inauguration, a situation whereby even where there is a disputed result, the declared winner nevertheless assumes the Presidency. The person challenging the result is forced to fight the election result from a position of weakness while his opponent is already serving the new term. Experience shows that it is extremely difficult to fight a person who has already been sworn in to office. It is fairer and better to have the matter resolved before anyone assumes office and this is what the new Constitution proposes to do.
It will mean that if there is a dispute to an election result it must first be resolved by the Constitutional Court before the winner is inaugurated. The new Constitution accommodates a presidential election challenge before inauguration which the current Constitution does not do. The new system would be fairer than the current one.
|What they don’t want:||A fair system that
provides for orderly, fairer and democratic transition and inauguration taking
into account electoral challenges. They prefer a system that permits the
phenomenon of the rush to inauguration which facilitates the stealing of
elections and places the challenger at an unfair disadvantage.
|Issue 12||Resolving Presidential
|Current Constitution||Disputes over the
Presidential election are subject to the Electoral Act.
|Draft Constitution||Clause 6.6 specifically
provides for a procedure to resolve disputes of the Presidential election
result. It sets out clear time limits and ensures that there is finality to
litigation before the Constitutional Court, which will be the highest court in
|Change||The difference is that the
new Constitution will provide a for a clear, expeditious and efficient method
for resolving Presidential election disputes. The current system is problematic
because matters are handled under the Electoral Law by the Electoral Court and
experience has shown that the procedure under the Electoral Act is painfully
slow and inefficient. Unlike the new system it does not provide for time limits
on resolving such disputes.
It also involves serious delays because even if the Electoral Court makes a decision it will still be subject to an appeal. The absurdity of the current system is illustrated by the fact that judgment on the 2002 Presidential election petition is yet to be delivered by the court – 10 years and almost two terms after the event. The new procedure under the Constitutional Court, together with the time limits provides for finality in dispute resolution.
|What they don’t want:||A fair, quick and efficient method of resolving disputes over the Presidential election result leading to finality in litigation.|
|Issue 13||Presidential Appointments
|Current Constitution||The President has wide
discretion to appoint senior government officials, including Commissioners,
Ambassadors, Governors, etc. Even the provisions for consultations and advice
under the GPA have been given short shrift.
|Draft Constitution||The new Constitution
provides for the creation of a Parliamentary Public Appointments Committee which
will approve Presidential appointments and also select candidates for other key
|Change||The key difference is that
the President’s power to appoint senior public officials will not be subject to
Parliamentary checks and balances compared to the present system where
Presidential discretion is excessive and almost unfettered.
|What they don’t want:||Provisions to check and
balance the power of the President in the appointment of senior public
|Issue 14||Voters’ Roll
|Current Constitution||Under the Electoral Act,
the Electoral Commission shares responsibility with the Registrar General’s
Office which, in fact, is in charge of the voter registration process and the
|Draft Constitution||Clause 13.8 (c.) states
that the Electoral Commission will be solely in charge of registering voters,
the compilation and maintenance of the voters’ rolls and registers and to ensure
|Change||The difference is that
whereas the Registrar General is in charge of the voters’ roll and voter
registration, under the new Constitution this power will be held exclusively by
the Electoral Commission. The Registrar General’s Office has been severely
criticised for its inefficient handling of voter registration and a voters’ roll
whose integrity and credibility has been questioned. It is important that the
body in charge of running elections must have complete control of the voter
registration process and the voters’ roll.
|What they don’t want:||Provisions for a safer,
secure and more credible institutional mechanism for registration of voters and
compilation and maintenance of the voters’ roll. They prefer instead to retain
the much criticised and inefficient system over which the Registrar General
|Issue 15||President’s accountability
|Current Constitution||No specific provision for
accountability to Parliament
|Draft Constitution||Clause 7.4 (2) states that
Parliament must ensure that the provisions of this Constitution are upheld and
that all institutions and agencies of the State and Government act
constitutionally and in the national interest.
Clause 7.4 (3) also states that all institutions and agencies of the State and Government are accountable to Parliament.
|Change||The difference is that
whereas the current Constitution does not make specific reference to the
executive’s accountability to Parliament, the new Constitution would
specifically make all state and government institutions and agencies directly
accountable to Parliament. The Presidency is an institution and agency of the
state and government and must therefore be accountable to Parliament.
|What they don’t want:||A system that makes the
President accountable to Parliament, which comprises of the representatives of
|Issue 16||Deployment of Defence
|Current Constitution||No specific constitutional
requirement for the President to inform Parliament.
|Draft Constitution||Clause 12.8 specifically
requires the President to inform Parliament within seven days of the deployment
of Defence Forces to defend Zimbabwe.
There is also a specific requirement for prior approval of Parliament for the deployment of the Defence Forces within the country to support the police to maintain public order and other civilian agencies in the event of an emergency or disaster or outside in fulfilment of international commitment of defence of national interest.
Where it is not reasonably possible to seek prior approval, it must nevertheless be obtained within fourteen days. In that case the President has onerous obligations to give sufficient detail of the deployment including,
“(a) the reasons for the deployment;
(b) the place in Zimbabwe or the country where the Defence Forces are deployed;
(c) the number of people involved; and
(d) the period for which the Defence Forces are expected to be deployed”.
|Change||The difference is that
whereas the current Constitution provides almost unfettered powers to the
President for the deployment of Defence Forces, the new Constitution would
require accountability to Parliament depending on the nature of the deployment.
The President would be constitutionally required to inform Parliament in in
other cases to seek prior approval of Parliament.
This accountability prevents or at least minimises the abuse of the Defence Forces and facilitates accountability of the President and the Defence Forces to the people through their parliamentary representatives. If this rule applied, the 1980s deployment of the Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland during Gukurahundi or the use of the defence forces during Operation Murambatsvina, for example, to be lawful would have required Parliamentary approval if this constitutional requirement existed at the relevant times
|What they don’t want:||Making the President accountable to Parliament and ultimately the people in regard to the use of the Defence Forces.|
|Issue 17||First Siting of Parliament
|Current Constitution||Under the Electoral laws,
MPs who have been elected in a General Election must wait to be called by the
President before they can be sworn into office and commence business.
|Draft Constitution||Clause 7.30 gives
Parliament the power to commence business if the President fails or refuses to
call MPS to their First Sitting after a General Election.
|Change||The difference is that
whereas under the current laws the President holds the power to determine when
Parliament first convenes and starts business, under the new Constitution
Parliament would have the power to commence business on its own. The fate of
Parliament is no longer in the hands of one person in the form of the President.
|What they don’t want:||Provisions that enable MPs
to convene and commence the business of Parliament in the event that the
President fails or refuses to call them to their First Sitting after a General
As I stated at the start of this series of papers comparing the current and the draft constitutions, in creating a new Constitution, it is important to separate the individuals from the institutions. Reform of the President’s Office should be seen as institutional reform because that office will be occupied by different types of characters. Of course, reforms cannot ignore our experience – a country that does not learn from its errors is likely to repeat those mistakes in the future. Experience is not a bad teacher.
My own conclusion is that even though the Draft Constitution might require improvements in some respects, it makes important improvements that enhance accountability and transparency in the conduct of the affairs of the state.
The Constitution may have retained the Executive Presidency but it has done so with important checks and balances to ensure that the risk of abuse of power is minimised. But of course there are those who would rather these changes never see the light of day. But at least the public deserves to know the difference between the current and the proposed constitutions. You be the judge.