SW Radio Africa Transcript
HOT SEAT: (Part 2) Heated debate on national healing programme
Synopsis: Concluding segment of the debate between National Healing and Reconciliation co-Minister Sekai Holland, analyst Rejoice Ngwenya and church leader Dr Goodwill Shana. Is there a real intention to create an effective national healing program, or is this a toothless process that has nothing to offer the hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who have suffered so badly from the political violence?
BROADCAST: 21 May 2010
VIOLET GONDA: We bring you, on the programme Hot Seat, the concluding segment of the heated debate between National Healing and Reconciliation co-Minister Sekai Holland, political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya and Dr Goodwill Shana, the current chair of the Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe . Last week the Organ on National Healing and Reconciliation came under fire for leading a toothless ministry that is also spearheaded by some of the perpetrators of the political violence Zimbabwe has seen over the years. Continuing from the last discussion, I first asked Dr Shana if politicians should stay out of the national healing programme.
GOODWILL SHANA: I think the truth is in between. I think it’s not going to be possible to do national healing without the inclusion, without the participation of politicians, it just won’t work. The fact that we are in this transitional period is a creation of the political process. So I think what we need to do is to understand that their role is important in creating the environment in which national healing can take place but their role is to provide this political context and the legislative context - but the actual process of facilitating national healing must be left to people who are not going to raise more questions than answers, who are going to be perceived to be objective, who are not going to subordinate national building principles like national healing to political expedience.
So the problem is that if the politicians are running everything, they are going to subordinate national healing or national building processes like national healing to political expedience. Those things that are inconvenient to them, they are not going to do them. Also I think it’s an unenviable task that the Organ of National Healing has because it has to deal with the reality of violence and the perpetrators and so on who are part of the inclusive government, but if you go along that path you are going to run into the risk of unravelling the inclusive government which we are trying to heal. So it’s a dilemma, it’s a Catch-22 situation. So you have these people who have created this environment…
SEKAI HOLLAND : Anyway Violet…
SHANA: …in which we can produce healing but they are also part of the wounds that were created - so how do you manage that? I think it’s a very tricky situation. We have suggested a way out of that dilemma ourselves but we don’t know whether anyone is listening.
GONDA: And just to reiterate, what is the way out in your view Dr Shana?
SHANA: I think it is to be very clear about the role of the politicians, let them stay in that place and then allow the church, civic society to work out short term, medium term and long term processes. A short term process would be just for instance the process of acknowledgement, the nation needs to acknowledge that certain things were done wrong and then secondly the process of conflict mapping, because it’s not the same wounds that were inflicted across the country like Rejoice was saying. Various sectors of our community were wounded differently – Gukurahundi is not national, neither is Operation Murambatsvina or March 28 or June etc etc. So we have to say which sections of our nation need what healing and then we sit down and say what processes can we work through. The other thing is to engage those victims of the situation and say what is it exactly you want before we even start name calling, what do they want out of the process and then it can help us to heal them where they are hurt.
GONDA: Mai Holland do you agree with what Mr Ngwenya’s said that the Organ is not representative and that this is also a problem?
GONDA: But what about his point Mai Holland that he (Ngwenya) said the Organ is not representative in that you have three Ndebeles who are heading this Organ, is it not a problem?
HOLLAND : I just wanted to go back to saying the legislative framework comes when we have come out with a picture that has come from the people which gives us a national framework for peace in Zimbabwe . We can then get the National Code of Conduct and then we can actually get our legislative agenda. We are very clear about that. Though we are struggling…
SHANA: Violet can I…
GONDA: Let me bring in Dr Shana.
HOLLAND : …we are really making progress.
GONDA: Dr Shana?
SHANA: Yah Violet I think the role of politicians is necessary but is insufficient. I think like I said for me the truth exists in both what is there right now and what Rejoice is talking about. I think the politicians need to create this political context, but underneath that and this is what the churches and civil society has suggested - create a different organism so to say that has inclusivity, that has representatives from all sectors of society. Those are the people who then facilitate and oversee the national healing process, not the politicians. So I think the truth is on both sides; we do need that political legislative context which the politicians bring in but in order to facilitate this healing process, it can’t be that structure, or those three people, it has to be another…
HOLLAND : Dr Shana we are not involved in doing the programme!
SHANA: Let me finish.
GONDA: Let him finish.
HOLLAND : I’m saying we are not involved in what you are saying. I have to clearly say that. We are facilitators…
SHANA: …no, no, Mai Holland, for the time being you are everything, you are the politicians, you are the Organ -, because we are not getting any feedback, any traction of the ground…
HOLLAND: I think Dr Shana what we should agree on the programme now is that urgently, we have NANGO and the Church Coalition to another meeting so that we update one another because it seems to me that a lot of what is happening is not reported to people. We have meetings where…
SHANA: No but if you…
HOLLAND : …where we update one another. It seems to me that your claim that nothing has happened really is quite incorrect because there is a lot that is happening between and among the partners.
SHANA: If someone like me who is the chair of the Churches, doesn’t know what is happening, what can we say is happening?
REJOICE NGWENYA: Exactly.
HOLLAND : But what I’m saying is can we have an urgent meeting so that we can hear one another and you tell us…
SHANA: We have had those meetings.
HOLLAND : … what you want to do which you have not been able to do because we are in the way.
SHANA: We have had those meetings and we have told you what we want to do, exactly what I’m saying now…
HOLLAND : But you are doing that now.
GONDA: OK let me…
HOLLAND : You are doing that now!
GONDA: Mr Ngwenya, can you come in please?
REJOICE NGWENYA: The principle I think is very simple. I don’t understand why this Organ is trying to reinvent a principle that has already been tested and practised in South Africa . Create a legal environment, create an institution and let the victims come out; they can come out for themselves and say exactly what has happened. Perpetrators also come out for themselves and say what they did, then there are reparations, then there’s forgiveness, those who committed crimes then are incarcerated. I think the principle is very simple, I don’t think this is rocket science, what this Organ needs to do now. I’m glad that Mai Holland is talking about convening a more sensible all stakeholders conference, what they simply need to do is propose a policy framework from which legislation can be institutionalised, then this Organ can then release civil society and independent institutions to run truth and reconciliation. The moral support of politicians is understandable but their role is only as far as instigating a legislative process that can legitimise and give this Organ teeth so that we can proceed from there. Otherwise we’ll keep on talking about it until the cows come home. There are more…
HOLLAND : Can I just say…
HOLLAND : Can I just say here that the South African model, the Rwanda model, Sierra Leone , Liberia are at our faces to see. Zimbabweans must actually look at how they can produce a Zimbabwe specific programme of national healing and that’s what the Organ is trying to get Zimbabweans to understand and many do understand…
NGWENYA: Which comprises of Mugabe’s perception of national healing.
HOLLAND: …and many as we speak are coming with their suggestions and at the all stakeholders meeting which is what we have started to work towards and we are still on course. We have also developed that what we need to do is to focus on entry points with every ministry, with every institution in this country to get them to align their programmes with national healing…
NGWENYA: Violet, can I ask one question?
HOLLAND : … I’m just saying things are developing and they are happening…
GONDA: OK let’s…
HOLLAND : … we cannot say we want to actually copy what South Africa did because even in South Africa there are big shortcomings with what they did.
NGWENYA: Mai Holland, can I ask you one question?
HOLLAND : Yes.
NGWENYA: Has Robert Mugabe ever confessed to the Gukurahundi massacres? Has he ever personally said I am sorry and I am submitting myself to the public courtyard of scrutiny for the people of Zimbabwe ? Have you ever heard him say that?
NGWENYA: You are not going to answer my question Ambuya?
HOLLAND : …has made us who we are in our history so that we actually come up with a proper re-healing process.
GONDA: Mai Holland, the question is has Robert Mugabe ever apologised for what happened during the Gukurahundi period? This is what…
HOLLAND : Are you aware that he has done that yourself? Why are you asking me that? It’s something you can answer yourself and I’m trying to tell you that here we do not see that one act as something that actually at this moment will bring peace…
GONDA: Why not?
GONDA: Dr Shana?
NGWENYA: Absolutely, Absolutely.
SHANA: So the dilemma is how do you do national healing with people who created the atmosphere for national healing having been part of the violence and the perpetration? It’s an unenviable task for the Organ for National Healing. And I don’t think it was designed actually to deliver the goods in the lifetime of this transitional process, it cannot because if it does, it has to dismantle the inclusive government because it has perpetrators and victims in there. So I think perhaps we have to reconcile ourselves with the fact that we have to live with this inconvenient reality of national healing being a pending agenda for the next democratically elected government.
GONDA: Right, and before we go, unfortunately I’m running out of time, since I’ve got Amai Holland on the panel, I wanted to hear it from her because we have been receiving a lot of e-mails from people who read an article in the Herald a few weeks ago, quoting Amai Holland dismissing reports that violence is still taking place in the rural areas and also dismissing reports that ZANU PF has set up bases for purposes of violence. Can you respond to this?
GONDA: But is violence still continuing?
SHANA: What has the Organ for National Healing done about the resurgence of violence?
SHANA: Is it functional, is JOMIC functional?
GONDA: Now you said…
HOLLAND: …and we are getting there because we are starting to get together in small coalitions where people are starting at very, very elementary levels – my cattle was stolen by that person and returning them. We know exactly where this is happening well, where it is not, we also know that there are communities in Zimbabwe where chiefs and traditional leaders refuse to allow violence to take place. We are looking at those to understand how can the patterns of behaviour there be transferred to areas where there is this kind of behaviour, where the fear now prohibits people from opening up so they have an enabling environment where they can start talking about was has happened.
GONDA: Amai Holland, Dr Shana’s question was: is JOMIC functioning because you brought in JOMIC…
HOLLAND: Yes it is working.
GONDA: But JOMIC is just like what people are saying about the ORGAN, that it’s non-existent.
HOLLAND: JOMIC is starting to really be functional and if you look at the meetings they’ve had, they are a more coherent group now than they were at the beginning and it is an institution that as we go is going to be quite crucial as a peace monitor.
GONDA: A final word Mr Ngwenya.
NGWENYA: Any overtures or olive branch that smacks of ZANU PF content have absolutely no credibility in the eyes of the people of Zimbabwe. There is no movement towards peace and reconciliation that can be initiated by an institution whether it’s a GPA or coalition government that has a ZANU PF content. The people of Zimbabwe are never going to accept it until all the perpetrators come out of the open, say out what they did to the people of Zimbabwe, the issues are documented and publicly the victims can then decide whether to forgive or not forgive. As long as ZANU PF is in the formula for reconciliation and justice, nobody’s going to accept that as a credible olive branch, it is a poisoned chalice. Those are my concluding remarks.
GONDA: Dr Shana, a final word?
HOLLAND: The church Dr Shana is not at peace itself. You need to understand also that the church is part of society and what is required in national healing is every Zimbabwean, whoever they are, whatever they are…
SHANA: We know that, we know that…
HOLLAND: …inside and outside of the country.
SHANA: And part of the reason why the church is not at peace is because of the interference of politicians and we know that and we have suggested, and I think there was a misleading statement that you made that the church is proffering religious principles, no, we are proffering principles that deal with national healing that have been extracted from documentation like…
HOLLAND: Hang on I missed that. You said I said what?
HOLLAND: No, No, I am saying can you tell me what I said wrong so I’m with you?
HOLLAND: No, no, no, no – I said faith-based organisations must also make their contribution to national healing, they are an entry point.
SHANA: Yah but…
HOLLAND: Everything in Zimbabwe is an entry point.
SHANA: But we were saying the civic society and church forum took care of those two extremities where other people can air their own views which are not necessarily church so we were dealing with universal principles of national healing and peace building…
HOLLAND: OK, I’m hearing you.
SHANA: You don’t have to go and reinvent the wheel on that, the data is there, the principles are there…
HOLLAND: We are not reinventing the wheel! We want to understand a Zimbabwe specific national healing programme and process. It comes from the people.
SHANA: And we have given this to you but nothing has happened from…
HOLLAND: Every Zimbabwean can give their understanding of how it is to be done, not just the church.
SHANA: It was not just the church. It was civil society and other players.
HOLLAND: You were saying you gave it to us and we’ve done nothing, I’m saying we are still talking to everybody.
SHANA: OK, that’s why I think it cannot happen in the substantive life of the transitional government.
GONDA: OK, I guess we have come to the end of this very interesting debate on the national healing programme. We hope that we can invite Minister Sekai Holland again to the programme with Dr Shana…
HOLLAND:(laughing) After we have a meeting together to see what he wants us to do which we have not done. So a letter is coming to you tomorrow…
SHANA: (laughing) I am willing to have that meeting.
HOLLAND: …to which you have to say yes.
GONDA:(laughing) Now, I hope I can be allowed to finish my concluding remarks? And also thank you to political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya for participating on the programme Hot Seat.
ALL : You are welcome Violet.
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By Alex Bell
27 May 2010
An international diamond expert tasked with monitoring Zimbabwe’s diamond industry, is set to recommend that the country be allowed to sell the gems, despite reports of ongoing abuses at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
Abbey Chikane was appointed by the international trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), as part of a set of guidelines to bring Zimbabwe in line with international trade standards. He told reporters in Harare on Thursday that the country was “on track” to meet basic human rights standards, adding that he will recommend that diamond sales be approved and certified by the Kimberley Process.
“Zimbabwe is on track to meet the minimum KP requirements,” Chikane said. “I will write a report making my recommendations for Zimbabwe to start trading very soon.” He argued that concerns that he raised during a preliminary tour of the Chiadzwa diamond fields in March had been “adequately covered,” despite reports of smuggling and abuses still occurring. His recommendation also put to bed pleas by civil society groups not to clear Zimbabwe’s diamonds for sale because of ongoing abuses. Farai Maguwu, the director of Mutare-based Centre for Research and Development (CRD), which has exposed the level of abuse at the diamond fields, met with Chikane on Tuesday to explain his concerns.
“I gave him evidence showing how Zimbabwe has not moved an inch in meeting KP requirements. Soldiers are still involved in illegal mining. They recruit civilians for labour and torture those who refuse to toe the line,” Maguwu said.
The CRD has warned that at least 2000 carats of diamonds are smuggled out of the fields every day, without certification, with the prime suspects being employees of the government approved Canadile mining firm. Diamonds are also illegally being sold to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, according to a Zimbabwe Independent report. That report detailed that the government has exported over 153 000 carats of diamonds worth US$11.2 million through “shady state-controlled entities,” owned by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
At the same time Global Witness, a British-based group that monitors the exploitation of natural resources, has warned that the military was still in control of the Chiadzwa fields. All of this has contravened the KP’s guidelines, which clearly stated that an independent monitor oversees any diamond sales and that the military be pulled out of the fields. Chikane told reporters on Thursday that he spoke with parliamentarians this week about the role of security forces in Chiadzwa.
“The general consensus is that the army should remain until government creates a conducive environment for investors,” he said.
Global Witness campaigner Elly Harrowell told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that Chikane’s comments are “worrying”, given the evidence of ongoing abuses in Chiadzwa. She said the KP’s handling of the diamond crisis in Zimbabwe has been disappointing, and that there has been no commitment from Zimbabwe’s side to improve human rights conditions at the diamond fields.
“The government needs to show this commitment and critically needs to pull the army out of Chiadzwa,” Harrowell said. “If the KP continues to not take action on Zimbabwe then we will continue to call for the country’s suspension from the KP.”
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu meanwhile has moved to stop the future export of all of Zimbabwe’s diamonds until Chikane gives the ‘all-clear’ for sales from Chiadzwa to go ahead. The blanket ban also affects diamond firms mining elsewhere in the country, including Australia’s Rio Tinto group. Observers have commented that this is a tactic by Mpofu to get into the good graces of the KP, and force them to approve Chiadzwa sales.
“As government we view Zimbabwean diamonds as Zimbabwean diamonds regardless of where they are mined. We have a clear distinction where certain diamonds can be viewed as acceptable while others are not.
“We cannot continue as government to facilitate that kind of misguided approach to our diamonds by our detractors,” Mpofu told the state-owned Herald newspaper.
Chikane is now set to report back to the KP, which meets next month in Israel, where the Zimbabwe diamond issue is set to top the agenda. However, the group is only set to make a decision on Zimbabwe’s trade future at its plenary session in November.
SW Radio Africa News
By Violet Gonda
27 May 2010
The two members of the gay rights group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, who were arrested last week after a raid on their offices, were finally released on $200 bail each on Thursday by a magistrate’s court.
Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Muhambi, who are facing charges of ‘insulting the office of the President’ and for allegedly possessing ‘pornographic material’ are expected back in court for their remand hearing on June 10th. Lawyer David Hofisi said they also filed an urgent High Court application to see if the long period they stayed in custody was lawful, and the State now has 10 working days to file opposing papers.
Hofisi told SW Radio Africa that Chademana and Muhambi accuse the police of using torture and beatings to try and extract information about their organisation’s membership.
The lawyer said: “We are working with our clients so that they can be medically examined so that we can pursue an action against the people who were responsible for the beatings and torture.”
Homosexuality is not illegal in Zimbabwe but the ‘act’ of sodomy is criminalised. Human rights lawyers say there is also no constitutional guarantee to protect gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe.
The police, who claim were working on a tip off, say they confiscated images and a booklet that amount to articles that are indecent or obscene in terms of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act. But the defence lawyer said the police have failed to provide a ‘comprehensive list of all the materials that they claim to have confiscated from the GALZ offices’.
In opposing bail on Thursday the State unsuccessfully told the court that the GALZ officials were in possession of articles which are against the natural order of things and that the articles were ‘abhorrent to our society’ and therefore it would not be ideal for the two to be granted bail.
Hofisi said: “It was in response to this that the magistrate was very extensive in his judgement, because he went as far as to point out how the South African jurisdiction is more liberal, whereas the Malawian jurisdiction is more conservative and harsh. The magistrate said the court itself would not be sucked into an argument based on morality but will only stick to the legal issues in question.”
There are disturbing reports this week of the arrests, harassment and torture of members and employees of GALZ, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe. Romeo Tshuma in California is a former Programme Officer with the group. He gives his thoughts on the current situation and says how, like so many others, he feels badly let down by the MDC. And, General says the case against Roy Bennett by the government ‘was illegal,’ and they must now do what is right and swear him in as Deputy Agriculture Minister.
SW Radio Africa News
By Tichaona Sibanda
27 May 2010
The Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe group (ANZ), publishers of the Daily News, promised the newspaper will come back onto the market with a bang. The Daily News is one of four daily newspapers granted a licence to operate by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which was set up by the inclusive government to implement media reforms. Among the publications approved on Wednesday was Newsday, to be published by Alpha Media Holdings and which promises to hit the streets in 10 days time, according to its chief executive officer Ralph Khumalo.
The other papers are The Mail owned by ZANU PF youth organisation, Footlink Ventures, The Daily Gazette by Modus Media, which runs the Financial Gazette and The Worker, a weekly publication run by the trade union body the ZCTU. Jethro Goko a director of ANZ, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday; ‘Now that we’ve an operating licence, we’ll concretely begin to move ahead with plans to re-launch the paper.’
‘The Daily News is an established brand in Zimbabwe and we are hugely confident we will come back with a bang. It will take us time before we hit the streets, but rest assured we will be back,’ Goko said. He added; ‘We are not worried about those already playing in the market or those who intend to come into the market next week. It’s never who starts the race, its how people finish the race that’s very important.’
NewsDay will launch its first edition early next month. AMH chief executive Raphael Khumalo told their online version of the paper that NewsDay would strive to provide balanced news to Zimbabweans and ‘tell it as it is.’ ‘We are excited. We are ready. We think in 10 days’ time we should be able to be on the streets. Obviously, these are exciting developments,’ Khumalo said.
By granting these media outlets licences to operate, the ZMC has set in motion a domino effect that could see independent papers break the government’s hold on the media.
Since 2000 the former ruling party has forcibly closed several independent newspapers and the country’s first independent radio station. Local journalists have been forced into exile or been tortured, arrested, routinely harassed and some have just disappeared. Journalist and writer Wonder Guchu said while some form of media freedom may be on the horizon, the biggest challenge facing the newcomers is survival.
‘Obviously these are exciting times to all those in the media fratenity and it will bring with it stiff competition. In terms of news content, I’m sure we will be reading quality and well balanced stories unlike the current trend we see from some newspapers,’ Guchu said. But the biggest question, according to Guchu, is whether the new dailies will stand the test of time in a very limited market with few advertisers, due to Zimbabwe’s economic collapse. ‘This is where good journalism and editorial policy will come into play. Advertisers will look at the wide distribution of a paper and its editorial slant, before deciding to jump onboard,’ Guchu added.
While the ZMC was set up to spearhead media reforms, including the licensing of new press, there has been no movement on the issue of independent radio and TV outlets, which fall under the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. Deputy Information Minister Jameson Timba has said an assessment done by the ministry showed that there was room for 31 radio licences in urban areas and 60 country-based licences. He added that there was also the capacity for an additional two FM stations. There are no independent broadcasters in Zimbabwe and the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) runs the country’s television and radio stations, all tightly controlled by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF. Although new newspapers will be welcomed by Zimbabweans there is an urgent need for independent broadcasters, including community radio stations. It is radio that has the capacity to provide information across the country, whereas the uptake of newspapers is often limited, due to cost.
Additionally real media freedom can only be achieved when the draconian media laws have been removed. Local journalists are still subject to severe restrictions because of AIPPA, which prescribes heavy fines or jail for journalists who publish stories on ‘protected information or news likely to cause alarm and despondency.
There is concern that journalists may end up self-censoring, to avoid trouble with the authorities. The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and other media bodies are advocating a Voluntary Media Complaints Council, which would see the media regulating itself, rather than being regulated by the government, as the case is now.
SW Radio Africa News
By Lance Guma
27 May 2010
A prophet from the Jowani Masowe we Chishanu Apostolic church, who fled state sponsored political violence in 2006 and relocated to Mozambique, was allegedly abducted Tuesday morning by ZANU PF thugs who went into that country. A senior member of the church told Newsreel that Obey Wevalai Mapuranga was abducted from his home in Bairro Canongola by three men driving a Nissan 4x4 vehicle. ‘They left a message to Obey's wife that if she wants her husband back she can come to the ZANU PF headquarters,’ he said.
It was not immediately clear which ZANU PF headquarters they were referring to, although the main one is in Harare. The wife who is said to be traumatized has already made it clear she will not be following the instructions. The 24 year old Mapuranga fled from Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central province in 2006 and secured a job as a trainee leaf classifier with Mozambique Leaf Tobacco. He has been living with his wife Gertrude and one year old son Denzel.
‘The least we can suspect is that ZANU PF has been hunting down Obey from the time he came to Mozambique. He was a member of the MDC party and was openly critical of the Mugabe government,’ an official based in the Mozambican town of Tete told us. The official, who refused to be named for fear of victimization, said they hoped publicizing Mapuranga’s plight would help secure his release.
‘We are still trying to gather more information about his whereabouts and we hope that this case will come out for the world to look and see what the government of Zimbabwe is still doing to innocent citizens of that country.’ He said Mapuranga was a ‘reserved’ person and ‘dedicated member’ of their church and they wanted him ‘returned to his family in one piece.’
The Jowani Masowe we Chishanu (Friday Apostles) was formed in 1931 by Father Sixpence, a shoemaker from Gandanzara in Zimbabwe. Although the church has its roots in Zimbabwe it now has a presence in the Mozambican areas of Maputo, Chimoio and Tete.
SW Radio Africa News
Thursday, 27 May 2010 20:42
COMMERCIAL farmers evicted during the land reform programme say the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe owes them close to US$20 million taken from their accounts during the foreign currency crunch.
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Deon Theron told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the money was in export proceeds due to farmers but was diverted by the central bank to fund quasi-fiscal activities before the formation of the coalition government in February 2009.
“We are compiling the information and already from the few farmers who have come forward we have established that the amount looted from their accounts is about US$20 million and our projection is that the amount will more than double once we have got everyone coming up with information,” Theron said.
Theron said the farmers would resort to legal action because efforts to recover the money had failed.
“Once we have finished gathering information from affected CFU members we will launch a legal suit against the RBZ and the lawsuit will be a joint court action on behalf of all our members,” Theron said.
Farmers and businesses involved in the export market lost their savings with the RBZ in 2007 and 2008 when the central bank diverted funds from export accounts to fund controversial quasi-fiscal programmes at the height of the economic crisis. Funds to support HIV/Aids programmes were also diverted by the central bank during that time.
The lawsuit by CFU will add pressure on the RBZ which has lost property worth millions of dollars through auctions. The RBZ has failed to pay debtors resulting in the debtors resorting to legal action in a bid to recover what they are owed by the central bank.
The government through the Finance ministry has said it will put in measures to stop the auctioning of RBZ properties by those owed money by the RBZ. –– Staff Writer.
Thursday, 27 May 2010 20:43
ZIMBABWE faces a new cholera threat after an international humanitarian body revealed that 23% of the country’s districts are facing a second surge of the disease.
The United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef) said in a report released on Wednesday that it required US$17 million to respond to the most acute emergencies in Zimbabwe. Such emergencies include measles and typhoid outbreaks. The second cholera outbreak for the 20009/10 season commenced in February and 453 cases and 13 deaths had been recorded, said Unicef, adding that six million Zimbabweans remained vulnerable to a humanitarian crisis because of fragile social service delivery systems.
“Cholera outbreaks have been limited significantly this year compared to the 2008/9 outbreak, due to massive humanitarian interventions and increased general awareness. However, an outbreak in the last quarter of 2010 would pose a serious threat,” reads part of the report.
Cholera killed over 4 000 people at its peak in 2008 following the breakdown of sanitation, water and health systems. On measles, Unicef said it had recorded 6 215 cases of the disease, including 384 deaths.
“The outbreaks, the first of which commenced in September 2009 and the second in February 2010, are of a national scale. Fifty seven out of the country’s 62 districts have at least confirmed one laboratory tested case, while 61 districts have reported suspected cases,” read the report. “Though measles epidemics have been mostly contained during the past 20 years, the steady decline in social services, particularly regular immunisation programmes, has placed children in a vulnerable state.”
Thursday, 27 May 2010 20:46
DEPUTY Prime minister Thokozani Khupe has said President Robert Mugabe and top officials of the military and his previous government should acknowledge and apologise for the 1980s state-sponsored ethnic killings in Matabeleland. Khupe told people attending a photo exhibition of the massacres –– code-named Gukurahundi –– that the previous government should “clean up the mess they made” before a national healing process initiated by the coalition government startead.
Such statements by a top government official like Khupe show how issues of reconciliation and national healing remain emotive because of government’s lethargy in dealing with such matters. “Old wounds need to be healed before we start national healing but some people feel it should not be talked about,” said Khupe.
“It is important that the previous government acknowledge the injustice suffered by the people of Zimbabwe as that would prevent human rights violations,” said Khupe, a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party, which is in a 15-month-old coalition government with Mugabe’s Zanu PF party. “The previous government should admit that it made mistakes in the past and use those mistakes as a stepping stone for success,” said Khupe. The coalition government has set up a fully fledged organ chaired by the three parties in government to deal with national healing issues. The process has faced credibility questions because of Mugabe’s refusal to openly apologise for the military-led onslaught and the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Reintegration’s failure to address political tensions caused by decades of state-sponsored conflict.
A report by the Catholic Commission on Justice and Peace released in 1997 estimated that a North Korean-trained army brigade killed 20 000 people in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions between 1983 and 1987. Mugabe has never publicly apologised for the atrocities. The only time the 86-year-old leader came near to acknowledging his culpability in the massacres was in 1999 when he referred to the period as “a moment of madness” in 1999. The exhibition, held in Bulawayo on Monday, showed 18 paintings and 10 sculptures depicting Zimbabwe’s darkest moment since the country gained independence in 1980.
Police did not interfere with the exhibition as they did in March when internationally-acclaimed artist Owen Maseko was arrested a day after he launched an exhibition of paintings depicting the Matabeleland massacres. Police however, arrested three men this week in Bulawayo for possessing a documentary on the massacres, a sign that state authorities are still determined to keep the issue away from public debate.
Effie Ncube, a survivor of Gukurahundi, spoke of the harrowing experiences suffered at the hands of the military. He expressed sadness at the arrogance of perpetrators who were refusing to acknowledge their actions.
“As I viewed the paintings and pictures, there was a strong flashback of a bitter past, cruelty done on innocent people by fellow Zimbabweans and I was close to crying,” Ncube told the Zimbabwe Independent on the sidelines of the exhibition.
Ncube said he witnessed some of the killings as a young boy, and recounted how some of his family members disappeared and were still unaccounted for.
Now a human rights activist, Ncube said the exhibition vividly showed how innocent people, including pregnant women and children were “burnt alive and thrown into mineshafts, women gang raped and villages burnt down” by a marauding brigade commanded by Perrence Shiri, now the Air Force of Zimbabwe commander and a fierce defender of Mugabe.
“They should just wholeheartedly apologise for the injustice done,” said Ncube. “Surviving victims are not ready to forgive when people behind the violence are not willing to apologise. The national healing is just a ploy to fool the West to lift sanctions saying ‘Zimbabwe is remedying its past evil deeds’,” said Ncube. Another survivor present at the exhibition, Sanele Sibanda of Lupane, said medical experts should be allowed to use forensic tests on bodies buried in mass graves to ascertain the identity of victims.
“We cannot forgive the perpetrators when we have not been told who to forgive or what crimes we are supposed to pardon,” she said. “There must be a full and open investigation, and part of this will come from forensic evidence at the murder sites,” she said.
Thursday, 27 May 2010 20:48
AUSTRALIA has taken a tough stance on Zimbabwe, demanding that President Robert Mugabe must “move off the stage” before the international community can bankroll the country’s reconstruction and revival.
This is the first time Australia has publicly stated that it wanted to see the back of Mugabe. The country sees Mugabe as the “major obstacle” to democratic reforms in Zimbabwe.
Australia’s move comes ahead of a meeting on Zimbabwe on June 1 in Oslo, Norway, of a group of Western donors led by the United States (US) and Britain, known as the Fishmongers.
America, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Holland, Norway, Canada and Australia make up the Fishmongers Group and their meeting on Tuesday will deliberate on the state of the inclusive government, debt relief, public finance administration and the controversial economic indigenisation regulations.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent in Canberra on Tuesday, Australia’s Foreign Affairs minister Stephen Smith said Australia wanted Mugabe to go before financial aid for reconstruction can be extended to Zimbabwe.
“Our position is that Mugabe should move off the stage to allow a new beginning,” he told the Independent on the sidelines of Africa Day commemorations at the Botswana high commission. “Zimbabwe has no elected government. The coalition government has failed to implement the global political agreement in full because of Mugabe. He should move off the stage if the country is to reengage with the international community.”
Smith said Australia wanted democratic reforms to take root in Zimbabwe, leading to free and fair elections. In a recent ministerial statement in parliament, Smith said Australia was looking forward to seeing “a full and fair” election in the southern African nation.
“Despite Zimbabwe’s modest recent progress, Australia remains deeply concerned that Zanu PF is not motivated to adhere to its obligations under the global political agreement,” Smith said. “Many of its actions are designed not merely to frustrate but to sabotage key aspects of the agreement. For that reason, Australia’s long-standing position on financial and travel sanctions will not change.”
The sharp-talking minister was adamant that Zimbabwe would not “move forward”.
“Much more significant progress will be required before the Australian government undertakes any broader review of Australia’s sanctions with respect to Zimbabwe,” Smith said. “Australia places the utmost importance on the need for real and demonstrated improvement in economic and political governance. The modest progress made so far is fragile.”
The fractious unity government is haggling over outstanding issues of the GPA, among them the re-hiring of central bank governor Gideon Gono, appointment of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and provincial governors, and the refusal by Mugabe to swear-in MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett as deputy Agriculture minister.
Like Australia, the European Union and the US say more improvements were required before Zimbabwe’s relations with the international community could be normalised.
Smith said his government was alarmed by the January gazetting of economic indigenisation regulations and described them as a “scheme designed only to benefit Zanu PF and its cronies. Its effect will be to unravel recent reforms and to cripple Zimbabwe’s economy”.
“As I have said, at some point in the cycle President Mugabe will leave the stage, removing the major obstacle to the reforms that Zimbabwe so desperately needs,” Smith said. “The international community, including Australia, will then be able to fully assist with the difficult task of rebuilding Zimbabwe’s economic social and political fabric.”
He said his government had a responsibility to support Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and ministers from his party in their efforts to bring change to Zimbabwe.
“We have a responsibility to bolster the cause of reform,” said Smith, who met Finance minister Tendai Biti in London on January 28 to discuss ongoing reconstruction efforts in Zimbabwe. “Late last year, Australia decided it would consider opportunities for ministerial engagement on a case-by-case basis with those Zimbabwean ministers making a genuine contribution to the country’s social and economic recovery.”
Australia had since the formation of the inclusive government offered humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe. In March it announced that it would look beyond emergency relief to longer-term measures to help restore capacity in essential services, such as water, education and health care.
Diplomatic sources in both Harare and Canberra told the Independent that the Fishmonger group at their Tuesday meeting were likely to increase humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe.
The Fishmongers, also known as Friends of Zimbabwe, the sources said, would not extend any financial help to revive the comatose economy “unless and until” the country returns to democracy.
Smith confirmed the Tuesday meeting and predicted that the group would not move on its stance on Zimbabwe as long as the GPA is not fully consummated and democratic reforms not undertaken.
The group is chaired by German ambassador to Zimbabwe Albrecht Conze who is expected to hand over the chairmanship to Barbara Richardson of Canada at the end of the Oslo meeting.
The meeting would be attended by ambassadors of the respective countries, among other senior foreign affairs officials.
Constantine Chimakure in Perth, Australia
Thursday, 27 May 2010 18:48
RENOWNED US tele-evangelist Joyce Meyer accompanied by acclaimed Australian gospel music group Hillsong will be heading for Zimbabwe in June for a series of Festival of Life Campaign shows.
Meyer jets into Bulawayo next Thursday — barely 24 hours after the arrival of Hillsong fronted by Darlene Zschech. Only a few members of the Hillsong Worship band will travel to Zimbabwe. According to Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe president Goodwill Shana, Meyer would be in Zimbabwe on the Festival of Life Campaign.
“The Festival of Life is a partnership between Joyce Meyer and the church in Zimbabwe, represented by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe as the co-coordinating local partner. We believe that the presence of two leading international ministers of the gospel in Zimbabwe has come at a very crucial and historic moment in the development as a nation,” said Shana in Bulawayo.
Shana said during their stay in Zimbabwe, Meyer and Zschech will visit prisons, distribute over one million books and hold musical shows.
“The Festival of Life is more than just the preaching but will also include a visit by a team of doctors and other qualified to treat the disadvantaged and the poor. Visits will also be carried out to prisons where prisoners will receive much needed personal hygiene products as well as literature and ministry,” added Shana.
In Bulawayo, Hillsong will hold one concert at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair arena on Thursday before travelling to Harare till June 6.
Zschech, who is Australian, is acclaimed the world over as a singer, songwriter, worship leader and speaker, most notably for spearheading the music that comes from Hillsong Church.
As a songwriter, Zschech is most famous for Shout to the Lord and has written over 80 songs that have garnered international acclaim. Apart from music, Zschech has written three books which include Extravagant Worship, The Kiss of Heaven and a new book titled The Great Generational Transition.
By Xola Potelwa
PRETORIA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday Zimbabwe elections will go ahead next year, despite infighting that continues to hamper the government's power-sharing agreement.
Zimbabwe's unity pact between President Robert Mugabe and long-time rival Tsvangirai has helped stem the economy's decade-long tumble, but squabbling within the coalition has held back progress and stood in the way of elections. "When we emerge from the constitutional reform program an agreed timeframe for elections will be outlined," Tsvangirai told a news conference in South Africa, during a trip to meet with supporters.
Tsvangirai is scheduled to meet with Mugabe for the first time in more than a month on Friday, and the two are due to discuss problems with the power-sharing agreement.
A date for the elections will be set after a referendum is held, Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai said his Movement for Democratic Change party was "in a marriage of convenience" with Mugabe's ZANU-PF, but the experience had allowed them the opportunity to halt "Zimbabwe's plunge toward a failed state."
He also dismissed allegations of divisions within his own party, saying it was trying to adapt to being in government and running a party at the same time.
"The struggle for a democratic end is still in place," he said.
"The ideal arrangement is to respect, conduct an election with a clear winner."
(Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)
Thomson Reuters 2010
Thursday, 27 May 2010 22:36
Feluna Nleya and Wongai Zhangazha
KIMBERLEY Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) monitor Abbey Chikane has urged government to put in place proper security measures at Chiadzwa diamond fields to facilitate the withdrawal of soldiers accused of gross human rights abuses.
Chikane said although there was need to remove the military, the process would have to be gradual to avoid the flooding of the diamond fields by panners and smugglers.
Pressure is mounting on government to demilitarise Chiadzwa diamond fields in a move that human rights activists say would stop gross rights abuses and stem the smuggling of gems by security forces and their cohorts.
The demilitarisation process could however be slowed down by official fears that the removal of soldiers, whose presence at Chiadzwa has been widely criticised amid accusations of serious human rights violations, could open the floodgates for panners to invade the area again.
Moves to demilitarise Chiadzwa came as more than 10 families from Chirasika Village in Marange face eviction without compensation to pave way for mining activities. Mutare Rural District Council last week gave the families a verbal two-week notice. This is contrary to KPCS’s recommendations that evicted families should be compensated and moved to adequately resourced areas.
Chikane told journalists yesterday that he had convinced authorities that Marange diamond fields must be demilitarised, although gradually.
He said removing soldiers at once from unsecured areas would create a free-for-all situation. Gradual withdrawal was therefore the best option, he said.
“The general consensus was that although the area should be demilitarised, the army would have to remain until a conducive environment for Canadile and Mbada who have mining rights in the area has been created,” said Chikane.
Chikane, who has been in the country since Monday to assess whether diamond mining in Marange met minimum KPCS requirements, said demilitarising Chiadzwa was under serious consideration, an issue which he said was critical to ensure Zimbabwe fulfils KPCS procedures.
“There has been a debate regarding the demilitarisation of Marange and I posed a question to the parliamentary portfolio committee (that) should the area be demilitarised or not? And if they did what should be put in place?” Chikane said.
“Issues raised were there might be a need for
training of soldiers so that their activities are consistent with what is required of a professional defence force. There is a possibility that if the army is withdrawn, panners and illegal dealers would move in. That is the general consensus. The army will remain in Marange until and after government has put in place proper security measure,” he said.
Marauding panners swarmed Chiadzwa in 2007 after news of the prevalence of alluvial diamonds broke. They dug and extracted diamonds, creating a diamond black market which engulfed the country and the region.
Last year the World Diamond Council urged government to end human rights abuses at Marange following allegations by Human Rights Watch that the army was engaged in forced labour, smuggling, beatings and even killings. The organisation accused the military of killing at least 200 people, a claim government has denied.
Human Rights Watch insisted that during the 2008/9 period, soldiers went on a rampage throughout Manicaland assaulting people and looting property from terrified villagers, business people and travellers whom they accused of amassing wealth through illegal diamond mining.
Under pressure government is now moving towards gradual withdrawal of soldiers from Chiadzwa.
Chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy, Edward Chindori-Chininga, said the army needed re-orientation to ensure rights abuses stopped in Marange.
“The army should be removed at the right time, however there is need for reorientation and training of the army,” he said.
However, pressure is mounting on government to remove soldiers who are now intensely disliked by villagers in Chiadzwa for their abuses.
In his report after a visit to Zimbabwe in March, Chikane said 4 207 households were identified for resettlement to pave the way for diamond mining operations.
Total costs of resettlement was calculated by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing to be almost $12 million and investors showed willingness to share the cost equally while the government identified Arda Transau farm for resettlement of affected households.
According to Chikane, each household would get one hectare for a homestead and half a hectare for crop farming.
MP for Mutare West Shuwa Mudiwa yesterday confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that families in his constituency were facing eviction without compensation.
A lawyer with Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) Shamiso Mtisi said the evictions were unjust and did not meet international standards on relocation of people
Thursday, 27 May 2010 22:21
AIR Zimbabwe executives, including
CEO Peter Chikumba, have come under parliamentary investigation for alleged
questionable payments to suppliers and poor management.
Chikumba will on Monday appear before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development. This follows allegations made by workers facing retrenchment to the same committee last Monday that Air Zimbabwe management blew millions of dollars on questionable payments and almost doubled the airline’s workforce in two years by hiring associates at a time when business was down, according to evidence from workers’ representatives presented to the committee.
Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the committee, said Air Zimbabwe management was under investigation for running the national airline down and possible corruption.
“We have taken a serious interest in Air Zimbabwe,” said Chebundo. “The allegations being brought against management are serious and we want to get to the bottom of the matter.”
The committee will interview Chikumba on Monday.
“Poor controls of spare parts procurement resulted in the company over-stocking and some (parts) becoming obsolete,” the workers’ document said. “The company procures most parts from companies listed below which may show favouritism: American General Suppliers, Jet International, Aero Industrial Sales, Flight Products, Smith Industries, Aviation Air Motive and Avio Interiors.
“The last company (Avio Interiors) was paid US$250 000 for aircraft seats which were not supplied,” the document said.
The workers questioned why some companies were prioritised on payments ahead of workers.
They said some senior managers were seen driving around in vehicles owned by companies contracted by Air Zimbabwe to supply utilities and spare parts, raising suspicion of kickbacks. The workers told the committee that they would provide names of managers and companies suspected of siphoning Air Zimbabwe.
Chebundo said his committee would investigate whether a link existed between companies being prioritised and Air Zimbabwe executives. Parliament will also investigate Air Zimbabwe’s spare parts procurement and payments system.
Cronyism characterised the hiring of staff, they said. The company had hired 500 extra people between 2007, when Chikumba joined Air Zimbabwe, and 2009 against the advice of the workers’ committee, which saw no reason in increasing staff at a time when business was shrinking.
A recovery plan crafted in 2004 that would have resulted in increased routes through bilateral partnerships is in a shambles and has missed targets, it was alleged.
The 2004 plan, crafted under Mike Mahachi, who was later fired as CEO, had targeted an increase in market share on regional routes from 19% to 49% by December 2008 as well as increasing the airline’s international market share from 46% to 56% by December 2008.
Instead, Air Zimbabwe’s route network has shrunk and bilateral agreements with other airlines discontinued resulting in other airlines cashing in on where Zimbabwe could have made money, according to the document presented to the portfolio committee by the workers.
“Withdrawing from the Dubai route which has resulted in Ethiopian Airlines increasing its frequency into Harare connecting to Dubai from once a week to seven times a week, and withdrawing from Nairobi whilst Kenyan Airways increased its frequency seven times a week into Harare,” the workers said.
The workers cited partnerships with Aero Zambia, Air Malawi, Air Mauritius and Lignes Aeriennes du Congo of the DRC as having been discontinued.
Chikumba was unavailable for comment. — Staff Writer.
Thursday, 27 May 2010 20:06
EVERY day the
Herald carries notifications from the City of Harare of “change of use”
applications for suburban properties. Often these are applications for
residential premises to be converted into churches, crèches and restaurants.
The purpose of the Harare City ads is to provide neighbouring property owners
with an opportunity to object to the proposed change in terms of the Regional
Town and Country Planning Act.
Residents may well object where the intention is to open a restaurant that will attract traffic and parking problems for neighbours or a crèche or place of assembly that is likely to be noisy.
Those seeking change of use are sometimes less than candid about intended use. For instance, a Cimas clinic and dispensary in Milton Park obtained change of use permission on the basis that it would be a quiet and unobtrusive treatment centre. In fact Cimas runs a busy dispensary on the premises with anything up to 20 vehices parked outside. Visitors don’t hesitate to deposit their litter where they park. Residents in Mount Pleasant have objected to a medical centre being developed in a clearly residential zone. Their objections have been brushed aside as building proceeds apace.
Then there is the problem of unauthorised restaurants. These generate mountains of waste. Some proprietors pay for rubbish to be collected. Others don’t and dump it nearby.
Most of the premises where the city is advertising change of use applications are residential and clearly not designed for commercial purposes. But when residents exercise their right to object they are ignored by the Director of Urban Planning Services. This has led to changes in the character of suburbs where businesses take the law into their own hands and the city authorities disregard the unapproved changes. This costs the city revenue because rates are charged on residential scales and not business scales. It also leads to anarchy as the city loses control of the change of use process and becomes an unregulated and unattractive place to live in.
It would be useful to know how many applications the Director of Urban Planning has approved in the course of a year and how many have been turned down. It would seem that he can refuse no one!
Permanent secretary in the Media ministry George Charamba has been telling us recently how important it is for the Zimbabwe Media Commission to be independent of political pressures.
This arose because Morgan Tsvangirai said he would be summoning the ZMC to his office to tell them much the same thing –– that they should operate independently as required by the GPA and that they should get on with their business of licensing publications instead of running to the permanent secretary every five minutes.
Tsvangirai should have spoken to the Media minister and not the commission, Charamba officiously complained in the Sunday Mail.
“The PM is also misleading the nation that the Ministry of Finance has released funds to the ZMC,” Charamba admonished after Tsvangirai said the Finance minister had made funds available.
While Charamba was at pains to point out that nobody had stepped forward to fund the commission, he admitted that Nordic countries, the US and Germany had offered to help. But the problem seems to be that they are reluctant to channel funds through government.
And so they should be.
Then to illustrate the problem we had Chris Mutsvangwa joining in to reprimand Tsvangirai. The PM was being “misdirected” by “mischievous elements in his office”, Mutsvangwa suggested in the Sunday Mail article.
Let us recall the political context here. Zanu PF is having difficulty accepting the terms of the GPA and seeks to subvert the PM at every turn. It uses and abuses the state media to pursue this objective so we have the extraordinary situation where a defeated party is able to hang on to the public media to propagate its discredited message, attack the PM, and resist reform.
It is not just Tsvangirai who has a problem with this. None of us want to see a suborned media, so let’s hope the PM gets his message across.
Evidence that the Sunday Mail is a crude Zanu PF mouthpiece was provided by a story last Sunday headed “Roy Bennett in contempt of court”. It was based on an interview that Bennett had given to the Guardian. But nowhere were we told who had said that Bennett faced contempt of court charges except of course the Sunday Mail.
It looked very much as if the newspaper was bringing the charges. Which might be rather difficult given that the Guardian is published in the UK.
By the way, which of the following headings looks more ridiculous: “No Mr Prime Minister, you have gone offside”; or “Bennett just can’t”?
Can’t what? And is the Sunday Mail deciding who can and who can’t join the GNU? That’s definitely offside!
Meanwhile, has Herald columnist Alexander Kanengoni (the Herald, May 22) discovered yet what year Zambia got its independence? We would have thought such a distinguished freedom fighter would have been on top of that one (It was 1964, not ‘65)!
And Sir Alec Douglas-Home’s visit to negotiate a political settlement was November 1971. The Pearce Commission to test its acceptability arrived in early 1972.
If you have any further difficulties with dates, Alex, just give Muckraker a call. We would be delighted to help.
Constitutional Affairs minister Advocate Eric Matinenga has “lashed out” at the independent media’s “negative coverage” of the constitution-making process, we are told by the People’s Voice. He was speaking at an editors’ breakfast.
“During the Smith regime we learnt one thing,” Matinenga said. “When you write you cannot cause alarm and despondency.”
We are surprised to hear Matinenga passing on advice from the Smith regime. The obsession with “spreading alarm and despondency” surely emanates from Zanu PF’s oppressive legislation. But if Matinenga is intent upon citing such barren sources who are we to stop him?
In the same edition of the People’s Voice, reporter Radmass Mazodze describes Roy Bennett as “a former Selous Scout” whose hands are “dirty and dripping with innocent blood of the thousands of people that he together with his colleagues massacred in cold blood at Nyadzonia, Tembwe and Gonakudzingwa to name a few”. We don’t recall the raid on Gonakudzingwa!
Last Friday Bennett said his lawyers would be dealing with reporters who persist in repeating the lie that Bennett was a Selous Scout. It is quite obvious that Zanu PF’s semi-literate publications have been instructed to repeat the lie because it suits their bankrupt agenda to do so. They are not in the least bit interested in the truth.
Bennett admits to serving in the BSAP but says he was never in the Selous Scouts or any other military unit. The People’s Voice has evidently decided to ignore this statement. It instead attacks “our own local lawyers”.
“The integrity, professionalism and effort exerted by our own local lawyers on some of these dubious and national development-derailing issues are of great significance if it was diverted to denounce the Western imposed sanctions,” the newspaper suggests. “The so-called high-calibre lawyers and human rights defenders are awarded prestigious honours and praises in Western countries for defending culprits who are to face the full grip (sic) of the law and social misfits in our societal set-up.”
So, what does Matinenga make of all this, particularly the attack on the legal fraternity? He condemns the independent press for failing to live up to its billing as the
fourth estate. But will he allow the People’s Voice to get away with such unprofessional and pernicious journalism without a single word of rebuke?
It should also be noted that the Herald declined to publish a single word of Minister Webster Shamu’s remarks at the ZMC workshop about our publisher Trevor Ncube’s “discipline” in his application for a licence. They also omitted Shamu’s comments on his visit to our company’s press last November and his statement that his ministry would be the first to defend the independence of the ZMC.
Let’s hope selective reporting of this sort will soon be “a thing of the past”.
We were surprised by claims made by Rugare Gumbo, Zanu PF’s politburo secretary for information that his party believed in peaceful solutions in solving conflicts.
The Herald quoted Gumbo speaking at Palestinian “Catastrophe Day” commemorations in Harare last week where he claimed: “We, in Zanu PF, believe in peaceful solutions to conflicts and we therefore urge the people of Palestine and Israel to find a lasting solution through negotiations.”
He took the opportunity to blast the United States and its allies for the continued support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.
Gumbo was obviously not being honest about Zanu PF’s record.
He spoke as soldiers were reportedly beating up villagers in Makoni South in Manicaland forcing them to attend Zanu PF meetings.
Jabulani Sibanda was reported to have weighed in, forcing villagers, traditional leaders and government workers to attend Zanu PF campaign meetings in parts of Manicaland ahead of the constitutional outreach programme.
Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe, a human rights advocacy group, has in the meantime documented incidents of organised violence in Muzarabani.
Can Gumbo seriously tell us that these are the “peaceful” solutions Zanu PF sincerely want us to believe they embrace?
We have our own catastrophe unfolding here. We don’t need to commemorate somebody else’s.
ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has finally seen the light.
He now feels betrayed by certain individuals in the ANC who he was relying on when he defiantly rebuked President Jacob Zuma and publicly pronounced that the ANC was in full support of President Mugabe’s land grab and black economic empowerment drive.
The chickens are now coming home to roost.
“One of the things I have learnt is never rely on any individual who is in politics,” he told a BBC correspondent.
But Malema, despite suggesting he was not his own man, refused to admit he had done anything wrong and brushed aside measures against him. He had not yet been to the anger management classes he had been instructed by the party to attend, he said.
We hope Malema has not seen the light too late because we hear there is a revolt against him within the ANC Youth League. Below are remarks made by Inkatha Freedom Party youth brigade chairperson Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi. This was in response to Malema’s attack on the IFP.
“While we find it flattering that Malema would devote some of his time to the IFP at an ANC Youth League conference, we want to remind him that we are of the opinion that he is nothing more than an ill-bred brat with verbal diarrhoea.....”
“His behaviour is not only un-African, but crude by the standards of any culture, which makes him the only ‘factory fault’ amongst us,” Lebenya-Ntanzi said. Malema had earlier referred to “factory faults" in the ANC.
“We were hopeful that by going back to school for anger management classes, he would have been taught some manners, but his
latest attack on the IFP proves that he is incapable of changing his ways.
“Malema might not think that the IFP will ever reclaim the province of KwaZulu-Natal, but his style of politics –– based on denigration and insults –– is already yielding results for the IFP as ANC members turn their backs on him,” Lebenya-Ntanzi said.
Finally, is it true that Job
Sikhala was arrested for forming a political party without police permission, as claimed by Wurayayi Zembe? It sounds a tad improbable!
Thursday, 27 May 2010 20:04
ALTHOUGH very belatedly, Zimbabwe
finally set forth on the road to economic recovery in 2009. Progress on
that road was distressingly slow, but inevitable in view of the debilitated
state to which the economy had been reduced over the preceding 12 years, almost
wholly attributable to a combination of abysmal governmental policies and gross
Nevertheless, real progress was being achieved, with the gargantuan hyperinflation of 2008 being reversed (and in contrast to the zillions per cent annualised inflation in late 2008, deflation of 7,7% being achieved in 2009). The previously barren shelves of almost all shops were suddenly full of goods, although most of the populace were still poverty-stricken to an extent that they could purchase little of that which they needed. Industrial output rose from 8% of productive capacity to almost 40%. Mining production increased, and even agricultural output rose marginally. The extent of ongoing increases in number of unemployed diminished. Exchange controls relaxed, and foreign investment began to be forthcoming.
Nevertheless, many businesses continued to struggle to survive. Their working capital resources had been pronouncedly decimated by the 2008 hyperinflation, which had markedly increased the working capital requirements of every business, concurrently with fuelling immense operational losses which eroded such working capital as was available.
Then, in early 2009, the Zimbabwean currency was demonetised, which destroyed most of the residual working capital of the businesses. Concurrently, many of the enterprises were confronted with a massive escalation in unjust import competition, with Zimbabwe being flooded with vast quantities of textiles, clothing, footwear and other products produced in countries which subsidise their exports at levels far beyond those permitted by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Other products were gaining unfair competitive advantage by being disguised as supposedly manufactured in Sadc, and thereby qualifying for tariff concessions, but actually produced outside of Sadc.
As a result, despite the economic progress being achieved, innumerable manufacturers and other enterprises were battling to continue operations, one of the resources to which they sought to resort being access, from the money market, to working capital enhancement facilities. However, throughout the period, that market was in very straitened circumstances, with extremely limited capacity to meet the needs of intending borrowers. What little funding as could be made available was extremely costly, again jeopardising the viability of the businesses requiring that funding. Government compounded the working capital pressures by severely contracting the payment periods of Value Added Tax, PAYE, and other direct and indirect taxes.
Despite these circumstances, there were very many notable indications of continuing progress along the road to economic recovery. However, with its unmitigated skill at undermining the economy, in February, 2010 government created a crater-sized pothole in that economic recovery road. It gazetted the most foolhardy, disastrous, intensely counterproductive, and economically destructive indigenisation and economic empowerment laws. Not only did it do so with its consummate skill at undermining the economy, but since then it has recurrently sought to prevent even a partial contraction of that pothole, instead repeatedly rejecting the good faith advice of the private sector, and confrontationally reiterating the absoluteness of the laws.
Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere endlessly and confrontationally states that the laws are absolute. The result has been a massive curtailment of foreign investors’ interest in Zimbabwe, further minimisation of access to international lines of credit and supplier credit facilities, decimation of business confidence, partial reversal of the economic gains of 2009, and intensifying the jeopardy of many businesses. It has also brought about completely unrealistic demands from labour, war veterans, and others for equity allocations in existing businesses.
Those making such demands include the general-secretary of the Zimbabwe Textile Workers’ Union, Silas Kuveya. His union recently proposed that arrears and wages due by textile companies be converted into equity participation in those companies. He said, and rightly so, that the workers should not “lose out”, stating that “It’s high time that every company owing salaries and wages to workers should turn the salary arrears into shares so that workers will end up with shares in those companies”. Concurrently, he stated that his union was initiating litigation against those textile operators in payment default to workers.
Any rational person must deeply sympathise with such workers, and be conscious of their horrendous circumstances. They leave home in the early morning, without having had a meal, for they could not afford it, walk vast distances to their places of employment, for public transport charges are far beyond their means. They sit all day at their workbenches worrying about how to fund the accommodation, food, utilities, education, health-care and other essential survival costs. At the end of the day they have another very extended walk home to be confronted by hungry, crying children and wives embittered by the appalling family circumstances.
However, as justified as the workers’ concerns and stresses are, the harsh fact is that, with very rare exception, those employers failing to pay prescribed wages do not do so in disregard for their obligations, or out of a lack of concern for their workers’ needs and distresses. It is because they cannot pay that which they do not have. Instead, employers and workers need to collaborate to ensure maximised productivity, minimised operational costs, intense constraint upon losses due to extensive product theft and pilferage, so as to procure eventual business viability as will enable payment of fair and realistic wages and progressive settlement of agreed wage arrears.
The call for equity participation does not resolve the poverty of the workers, or the viability of the enterprises. In the absence of operational profits sufficient to service debt, to pay fair wages, and settle liabilities, the companies cannot declare dividends and, therefore, worker equity participation conveys no meaningful benefits to the workers at this time. In addition, any and all facilities that are, or may be, forthcoming from the money market, now and in the future, essential for the survival, recovery and growth of businesses, are conditional upon shareholder guarantees being given as security for repayment of the facilities. Few, if any workers, have the resources to support such guarantees and, therefore, equity dilution in favour of workers at this time would be a yet further hindrance to accessing funding needed for that recovery as is in the best interests of all stakeholders, inclusive of workers.
The constrained financial circumstances of employers and workers are creating an ever greater divide between them, yet further jeopardising the survival of businesses, restoration of worker wellbeing, and Zimbabwean economic recovery. Efforts of employers, workers, national employment councils, and trade unions should be targeted at minimised confrontation, maximised productive collaboration, and progressive closure of the divide between employers and labour.