By Lance Guma
03 May 2012
As Zimbabwe commemorates World Press Freedom Day, SW Radio Africa chronicles
the trail of broken promises made under the 3 year old coalition government
and, in particular, ZANU PF’s stubborn reluctance to free the airwaves.
The power sharing deal that came about after Mugabe lost elections in March
2008 promised far reaching media reforms. Zimbabweans hoped to see
independent radio and television stations, in addition to the newspapers
that were licensed. But ZANU PF made it obvious they will continue
monopolising the broadcasting sector.
After licensing a string of independent newspapers, including the previously
banned Daily News, many were fooled into thinking the same would happen with
broadcasting. But newspapers have a limited circulation due to their cost
while, radio and television reach a wider audience and pose a threat to ZANU
Despite statements by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that the broadcasting
authority was going to be reconstituted it became clear the ZANU PF
Information Minister Webster Shamu was taking different instructions from
Last year the same illegally constituted body called for commercial radio
licence applications. Packed with ZANU PF cronies the broadcasting authority
awarded the two licences to the ZANU PF controlled Zimpapers Talk Radio and
AB Communications, owned by the ZANU PF apologist, journalist Supa
Making a further mockery of the whole affair was the fact that both stations
were already buying equipment and recruiting staff before the winning bids
were made public.
Nothing highlights the close link between Mandiwanzira and ZANU PF more than
reports that ZANU PF wanted him to stand as their parliamentary candidate in
Nyanga. The awarding of the radio licence might have changed this position
but Mandiwanzira remains a blue-eyed boy of the regime and is trusted to tow
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) this week said: “The
controversy surrounding the licensing authority, the licensing process and
the licensees, engender doubts on whether the development would enhance
access to alternative view points for the majority of Zimbabweans who rely
on radio for information.”
MISA added: “While there has been a decline in the number of arrests and
harassment of journalists following the inauguration of the coalition
government, there is no guarantee that the situation will continue as long
as the repressive laws remain in place and could be used as and when those
in office are subjected to robust media scrutiny.”
Last Saturday riot police disrupted a road show organized by a local
community radio initiative, Radio Dialogue. The police strangely claimed
there was a ‘lack of space’ and the road show had to end. This is despite
Radio Dialogue holding the road show for the past 6 years without any
MISA noted that since November 2011, six cases of media violations were
reported. In four of the six cases journalists were charged under criminal
law, including three who were charged with criminal defamation.
Targeted by the regime over stories they wrote were Standard journalists
Nqaba Matshazi, editor Nevanji Madanhire, Daily News editor Stanley Gama and
journalist Xolisani Ncube. “Criminal defamation has become the weapon of
choice against media freedom and freedom of expression,” MISA said.
US based NGO Freedom House has meanwhile ranked Zimbabwe 172 out of 197
countries in terms of Press freedom. Last year Zimbabwe was ranked 173
alongside Gambia, Congo and Russia. Reporters Without Borders also released
a statement putting Mugabe among the predators of freedom of information.
Emmanuel Ndlovu from the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association said:
“The citizens and residents of Zimbabwe continue to bear the brunt of a
highly restrictive media landscape that ostracises, harasses and prosecutes
journalists for criticising politicians, the government and other powerful
In another example of the repressive environment Robin Hammond, a New
Zealand journalist, was arrested in Beitbridge on the 16th April for
allegedly breaching media regulations.
According to his sister he is still locked up there: “We’ve heard from his
lawyer that he is expected to be moved to Harare at some stage and the
intention is to deport him from there. Apart from that we have heard
nothing,” his sister told journalists. Hammond was said to be working on a
story on irregular migration between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
In his World Press Freedom Day statement Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
said: “We marked Workers’ day in a country with no workers to speak of and
today I am here with you to “celebrate” Press Freedom day when we all know
that press freedom is a scarce commodity in this country.”
Tsvangirai said the power sharing deal made it clear “that Zimbabwe is
“desirous of ensuring the opening up of the airwaves and ensuring the
operation of as many media houses as possible. The GPA is clear on the role
of the public media and how it should behave in order to reflect the new
dispensation of inclusivity.”
“The responsible Ministry has chosen not to make the pubic media reflect the
new inclusive dispensation and to provide a platform for divergent views in
line with the dictates of the GPA. We have a Ministry that spends more time
thinking about how it should curtail information rather than how it should
The MDC-T leader said: “The regional trend should leave us embarrassed as a
country. The DRC has 381 radio stations and 93 television stations. (41
radio stations and 51 television stations in Kinshasa alone!). South Africa
has about 1, 000 radio and television stations combined.”
Tsvangirai warned journalists peddling hate speech, saying they “shall be
personally liable on the day of reckoning. The Rwandan example shows that
you will be alone, without any institutional support, when history asks you
to account for your role in standing between the people and their
inalienable rights and freedoms.”
Cris Chinaka, Reuters May 4, 2012, 3:37 am
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe on Thursday threatened a crackdown on the media
over what it called sensational and inaccurate reporting, following stories
over the health of 88-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
However critics said the warning from the country's information ministry,
controlled by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, could be an attempt to intimidate
journalists ahead of elections expected next year.
Senior ZANU-PF officials last month were forced to issue statements
dismissing reports that Mugabe was seriously ill in Singapore, saying the
stories were lies meant to destabilize Zimbabwe.
Addressing journalists at an event to mark World Press Freedom Day on
Thursday, information minister Webster Shamu said: "If the clearly
anti-African and anti-Zimbabwe frenzy we have experienced through some media
outlets and platforms in this country continues, and if the conspiracy of
silence within the media industry and profession also persists, the gloves
may soon be off here as well."
Mugabe was forced into a power-sharing deal with his rival and now Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change,
after a disputed 2008 poll which Western powers said was marred by ZANU-PF
violence and intimidation.
Under the terms of the deal, elections must be held by next year.
Brian Mangwende, chairman of the Zimbabwe National Editors' Forum, said of
Shamu's remarks: "He must be under pressure from those ZANU-PF ministers who
want to tame the media before we get to the next elections.
"I hope he has no reason to take off his gloves for a fight with the media."
The MDC accuses Shamu and Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba of stalling
reforms to open up Zimbabwe's state-run television and radio broadcasting to
the private sector.
Mugabe has ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.
The president has been the subject of several newspaper health stories in
recent years, with some reports saying he has prostate cancer.
In interviews with state media in February he laughed off suggestions he was
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has accused Information Minister Webster
Shamu of blocking media reforms but conceded he could not prevail over the
Zanu PF minister because he enjoys “tacit support from a higher office”.
Speaking on Press Freedom Day on Thursday, Tsvangirai said little progress
has been made in implementing a power sharing agreement signed in 2008 which
calls for the licensing of private broadcasters to break the monopoly of the
Zanu PF-leaning Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
“Zimbabweans have justifiably asked why we have failed to implement reforms
when we are part of the coalition [government],” he said.
“The answer is simple. Those who see reforms as conceding power have dug in
and the nature of our coalition is such that political parties second people
into government and even a Prime Minister who is in charge of implementation
has no powers to fire any minister seconded by another party.”
While a number of privately-owned newspapers have been allowed to operate,
only two private radio stations have been licensed with the ZBC’s television
monopoly remaining unchallenged.
But Tsvangirai said the granting of licences to two national radio stations
by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe was a ruse since they were both
owned by individuals and organisations with links to Zanu PF.
“New voices have to be just that - new voices!” he said. “That is why the
granting of licences to Zanu PF-aligned radio stations such as Zimpapers’
Talk Radio and AB Communications does not in any way reflect pluralisation
as envisaged in Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement.
“It is a case of old wine in new bottles; those old voices in Zanu PF
finding more media with which to complement the ZBC and Zimpapers. There is
The MDC-T leader also accused information minister Webster Shamu of ignoring
directives by the coalition principals to reconstitute the management boards
of public media institutions such as the BAZ and the ZBC.
“The responsible Ministry has also chosen not to comply with the
instructions of Cabinet and the Principals of the inclusive government to
reconstitute the boards of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, the ZBC
and the Mass Media Trust,” he said.
“We have a Ministry that spends more time thinking about how it should
curtail information rather than how it should disseminate it! [But it is]
clear that those ministers refusing to implement reforms are getting tacit
support from a higher office.”
He also insisted that his party would not take part in new elections unless
the media reforms were implemented and warned that those blocking the
changes would be made to account for their actions under a future MDC-T
“We will continue to press for media reform as part of the key reforms that
we agreed should take place during the tenure of this transitional
government,” he said.
“In fact, a free and fair election is not possible in this country without a
free press; without a multiplicity of radios, television stations and
newspapers to provide a platform for people to express themselves and to
make informed choices.
“We will demand it. We will insist on it because a free press is enshrined
in the SADC minimum conditions for the conduct of free and fair elections.
“[Again those] ministers and their handlers, as well as those journalists
that have chosen to peddle hate speech and to sow seeds of conflict shall be
personally liable on the day of reckoning.”
02 May 2012
Tatenda Gumbo & Mavis Gama | Washington/Harare
Zimbabwe joins the international community Thursday in commemorating World
Press Freedom Day with very little gains on the ground in terms of press
Commemorations will be held under two themes with Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai addressing one gathering sponsored by the Media Institute of
Southern Africa, Zimbabwe chapter, and Information Minister Webster Shamu,
gracing another event backed by the Zimbabwe Media Commission.
'Media Freedom Now or Never - 20 Years in Defence of Media Freedom' and the
global theme: 'New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies' are
the two themes.
The day comes against a backdrop of a bleak media terrain characterized by
repressive legislation, slow pace in the implementation of media reforms and
a shackled public media that has failed to reflect the inclusive nature of
the new unity government.
Meanwhile the media community today celebrated the life of the late veteran
journalist Bornwell Kidson Chakaodza, who died early this year.
Speaker after speaker lamented the state of the media landscape in the
country saying the information ministry, instead of aiding the growth of
independent reporting, has been a major stumbling block in efforts to
unbundle the airwaves, among other issues.
Media experts called for the disbandment of the ministry. They said media in
the country should be allowed to regulate itself, adding the former ZANU-PF
government had failed to deliver on its press freedom promises.
Renowned journalist William Bango, who was the guest of honor at the event,
said the former ruling ZANU-PF government had failed the country as a whole.
"The government ministries of information should disband and turn into
repositories of public record as regulatory bodies together with their
sidekicks, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Media
Commission and others," said Bango. "Their performance history leave a sour
taste in mouths."
Chakaodza’s widow, Emma Julie, told Studio Seven she felt honored that her
late husband’s colleagues had decided to celebrate his life.
Koliwe Nyoni-Majana of the MISA-Zimbabwe said this is a time for media
practitioners, civil society and the government to reflect and take stock on
issues that need to be dealt with urgently in the country.
"Despite the fact that there's been highlights through out the year - which
is the licensing of two commercial licenses - still media activists are
clamoring for more freedom and diversity within the broadcast sector," she
Matthew Takaona of the Zimbabwe Media Commission said the organization, in
its activities Thursday, will focus on strides taken throughout the year in
trying to improve the media landscape in the country.
He said the commission had managed to give 70 new licenses to print
newspapers, but had failed to institute a media council as mandated by the
law, among other issues.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
03 May 2012
Excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga has made headlines again, after
reportedly unleashing a hateful, verbal attack, describing Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T as “satanic”, while praising Robert Mugabe
as a “Holy” man and encouraging more farm invasions.
According to The Zimbabwean newspaper, Kunonga made the comments while
preaching to a small “disinterested” group of ZANU PF supporters at a
primary school in Mashonaland East, in Chief Svosve’s area. The congregation
was said to be mostly state security agents and army officers wearing
Ranting about the MDC-T Kunonga described party leader Morgan Tsvangirai as
a “western puppet” and his followers as “agents of doom” who are fighting to
reverse the land reform programme and are against the black empowerment
Kunonga reportedly urged Zimbabweans to grab any land still owned by white
commercial farmers, saying: “Whites like other aliens should not be allowed
to own land and other properties in the country as they are strangers.” He
then praised Mugabe, calling him “the Biblical Daniel, sent to suffer for
the cause of his people.”
Political analyst Professor John Makumbe told SW Radio Africa that Kunonga
commands no respect from ordinary Zimbabweans on the ground and is regarded
as ZANU PF’s “spiritual clown”. According to Makumbe, services conducted by
Kunonga these days are very poorly attended.
Makumbe said Chief Svosve is located near Marondera in the area where the
farm invasions first began. The population there is made up mostly of ZANU
PF supporters that would listen to anyone, if they were ordered to.
“Kunonga was there singing for his supper and they were listening because
they know where their supper comes from too. He himself is an agent of the
devil. The things he has done can only have been authored in hell, not
heaven,” Makumbe said.
The professor was referring to the seizure of Anglican church properties by
Kunonga after he split from the main church in 2009, when failing to be
appointed Bishop of Harare. Kunonga has illegally taken many church run
schools, clinics and orphanages, using ZANU PF thugs and support from the
Makumbe also criticized political parties that use churches and religious
sects as political “fishing grounds”, in order to increase their share of
supporters. “It’s an act of desperation for political parties to go that
route. People go to church to hear biblical messages, not political
slogans,” Makumbe explained.
UK based Reverend Lameck Mutete agreed, saying Zimbabweans always turn to
religion when life is hard but this should not be abused by those trying to
recruit for political parties.
“It’s up to these religions to realize that Jesus was not in cahoots with
the political leaders of the day. These political parties fish out
supporters and off they go. You never see them at another service after
elections,” Reverend Mutete said.
Regarding Kunonga’s comments, Reverend Mutete said the language itself
“indicates he is no longer a man of God.”
By Alex Bell
03 May 2012
An Australian businessman embroiled in a legal battle over the ownership of
a gold mining claim in Kwekwe, has explained how a ZANU PF MP has been
paying the police to “get rid” of him.
Lee John, Chairman of Kwekwe Consolidated Gold Mines (KGCM), recently spent
more than two weeks behind bars after being arrested on what he calls
‘trumped up’ charges. His arrest formed part of his ongoing fight with a
ZANU PF MP for Buhera North, William Mutomba, who has refused to vacate a
gold mining claim leased to him by John’s company.
More than six years ago Mutomba entered into a joint venture agreement with
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to mine at the claim owned by KGCM. This
was a short term lease that expired in February this year.
When the lease came to an end, the RBZ pulled out as agreed. But according
to John, Mutomba has refused to leave and has ignored High Court eviction
orders to vacate the property.
John told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the MP has since been threatening
him and his directors, trying to force them to hand over the full rights to
the mine. John added that Mutomba has also been paying thousands of dollars
to the police to have him arrested, “and they are still trying to have me
“I have been reliably informed that about US$80,000 has been paid to the
police to arrest me, and I have been informed that I could be arrested once
again so I am constantly worried,” John said.
He explained that Mutomba’s interests in the Kwekwe mine are purely selfish,
dismissing other reports that the MP’s interests are protected by Zimbabwe’s
indigenisation policies. ZANU PF has been spearheading the indigenisation
drive, which requires foreign owned firms to handover 51% of their
shareholding to local Zimbabweans.
“This has nothing to do with empowerment or indigenisation. This is straight
up someone trying to steal 100% of the property,” John said.
John’s release on bail last month garnered international headlines after it
was reported that his sixteen day incarceration was ended by the
intervention of Robert Mugabe. John admitted that his business connections
saw the matter being handled at a high political level. But he insisted his
interests in Zimbabwe are apolitical and completely above board.
“There was NO corruption and NO racism in prison and I told all who would
listen that I was happy to stay there until the corruption, outside in Zim,
was sorted out,” John said.
He added: “I am hoping that I will soon be exonerated because there is no
basis for the charges against me.”
He will be back in court on Friday.
By Alex Bell
03 May 2012
Observers have expressed doubt that a new constitution will make any
difference while ZANU PF remains in power in Zimbabwe, with concern being
expressed that it will be one more promise the party will fail to keep.
The parliamentary team tasked with developing the new charter finally
presented a draft to government this week. The COPAC team has reportedly now
been given until the end of this week to ‘clean up’ the draft, with a
meeting scheduled for next Monday to finalise the document.
So far the document has failed to impress, mainly because contentious issues
like dual citizenship have been ‘parked’. The COPAC team has said these
issues have been referred to parliament, which rights activists have said
means exiled Zimbabweans won’t be able to vote in a new election.
The new constitution is expected to pave the way for an election to bring to
an end the coalition government. But, as one observer told SW Radio Africa,
the constitution cannot physically protect people against Robert Mugabe’s
loyal security services if their commanders decide ZANU PF will remain in
Exiled Zimbabwean journalist Tano Whande said Thursday that the contents of
a new constitution will mean nothing if the proper reforms are not in place
to protect Zimbabweans.
“We are concerned that we will have another election like in 2008 and in
that case it will not matter what it says in the constitution,” Whande said.
He added: “We can only accept a new constitution that goes hand in hand with
key reforms, like security sector reforms, like media reforms. Only then can
a truly free and fair election be possible.”
Harare, May 03, 2012 - Zimbabwe will scrap the Prime Minister post if a new
draft constitution is passed into law, a smuggled draft constitution shows.
Meanwhile the Parliamentary Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) has
disowned the draft constitution document.
The state-owned Herald on Wednesday published a draft it said was the COPAC
final constitution draft while the privately-owned NewsDay is serialising
what it says is the Zimbabwe Draft Constitution.
But COPAC officials told Radio VOP, the document in circulation, was
fraudulent and did not belong to COPAC.
Jessie Majome, the COPAC spokesperson, said the document could be
information stolen from COPAC offices.
“We have not published a draft. It is not yet available. We urge members of
the public to be wary of any purported draft of the new Constitution of
Zimbabwe and wait and rely on the proposed draft to be officially released
by COPAC as soon as it is available and ready."
Zanu (PF) and the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations are
failing to agree on the draft constitution before it goes to a referendum.
The draft constitution shows that the country will remain with the powerful
executive President post and two Vice Presidents.
The President will have a maximum of two five year terms and must be at
least 40 years of age. There is no maximum age limit of the age of the
Presidential candidate or a clause that prevents a former president to run
The President must be guided by ethnic and regional balance. Matebeleland
regions, which have been advocating for devolution of power, have been
calling for decentralisation saying that over the past 32 years they had
"In appointing ministers and deputies the President must be guided by
ethnic, regional and gender balance considerations," the draft reads.
The draft constitution calls upon media's self regulation but the government
appointed Media Commission will continue to exist.
"What people are reading in newspapers is not legit at all,” said Majome.
President Robert Mugabe has demanded that the draft be handed to the
principals before the end of this week.
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has said it will advocate for a
no vote during a referendum saying the process did not allow people to air
their views on the new constitution freely.
By Staff Reporter 2 hours 4 minutes ago
HARARE - Zanu-PF Political analysts say the draft constitution is a
dangerous tool that is meant to weaken the country’s security system and
limit the executive powers of the President so that external forces using
its local conduits can have control of the country.
When the people of Zimbabwe participated during the outreach programmes of
the constitution making process, hopes were high that the supreme law of the
land would protect the country’s sovereignty and also strengthen the
security of the nation.
However it has emerged that the new constitution is now being manipulated
for use as a regime change tool after the West has failed on numerous
Zanu-PF Political analyst, Dr Tafataona Mahoso says the constitution is
meant to dismantle the state institutions making the country vulnerable to
He noted that the new constitution should be rejected totally as adopting it
would be tantamount to committing strategic suicide.
He said: “The Anglo Saxon forces using the MDC-T are trying to achieve what
they failed in 1997 that is the regime change plan. If they weaken the key
state institutions it means we have freely given them an opportunity to do
whatever they want with our country. So we should reject this piece of
Another Zanu-PF analyst, Mr Goodson Nguni says by limiting the executive
powers of the President through putting in place various commissions to
appoint key security sector personnel, the MDC-T and its allies are trying
to institute their security sector reforms which have been rejected by many
“The MDC-T had an agenda of the reforms of the security sector and if the
constitution is allowed to pass as it is then its very dangerous.
“It limits the executive powers of the President by putting place other
structures to appoint the judges and service chiefs. The attempts to smuggle
the issue of dual or mono citizenship is glaring. All these efforts are
aimed at derailing the gains of the liberation struggle,” Mr Nguni said.
Confusion continues to reign supreme in the constitution making process as
it has emerged that a larger percentage of what is contained in the draft is
not what the people said, a clear attempt to subvert the will of the people
which has resulted in many stakeholders calling for the halting of the
constitution making process which has since been turned into a money
by Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been sucked into an unseemly power
struggle for the control of Zimbabwe’s biggest labour union.
May Day celebrations on Tuesday dramatised a raging battle to control the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) – the union that catapulted
Tsvangirai to the leadership of the MDC after over a decade as its secretary
Now the union is split into two camps: one led by former Tsvangirai ally,
Lovemore Matombo, and the other by George Nkiwane, who now seems to enjoy
Nkiwane’s backers called a congress late last year and elected him leader.
Matombo – whose term was up as per the ZCTU constitution – boycotted the
congress and suggested it was illegally convened.
The two organisations held competing Workers’ Day celebrations, with
Tsvangirai addressing more than a thousand workers who convened at Gwanzura
Stadium under Nkiwane’s leadership.
Matombo, meanwhile, organised celebrations at the Harare Gardens which
attracted some 300 workers and were attended by MDC leader Welshman Ncube
and Mavambo-Kusile leader Simba Makoni.
Matombo warned Tsvangirai he risks alienating a large body of his
traditional supporters in the workers’ movement by wading into the
Raged Matombo: “If you are a father, and you make choices of which child you
are going to support, then you cannot be regarded as the best father.”
Tsvangirai went to the Gwanzura celebrations with MDC-T secretary-general
Tendai Biti, deputy chairman Morgan Komichi, organising secretary Nelson
Chamisa, deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma and party spokesperson Douglas
Matombo claimed the MDC-T leader had defied a party resolution that senior
officials would not attend any of the commemorations so that they would not
be seen to be taking sides in the dispute.
“Even if Tsvangirai did not like Matombo, he was not supposed to take sides
because what he did is contrary to an MDC-T resolution made three weeks ago
that they were not going to attend both meetings,” he said.
“The people who are going to suffer most are the workers because our agenda
has been hijacked by the MDC-T and yet Tsvangirai is a former trade unionist
who is being used by some MDC-T elements who want to settle scores and are
using him to destroy the workers organisation which he formed.”
Tsvangirai deplored the divisions and called for an end to the factionalism,
which he said were harming the country’s oldest and biggest labour body.
“I want to start by expressing my displeasure at the fact that there are two
or more celebrations taking place today because labour has chosen to
factionalise,” he said.
“Factions are in politics, not in labour unions and the working class cannot
be divided on the basis of personalities. As labour, we have to unite and it
is imperative to note that this day should unite us and not divide us, and
so I want to appeal to the leaders to unite.”
David Chidende/Jeffrey Moyo
MUTARE-There was drama at Bakorenhema Hospital in Mutare on Tuesday last
week when a traditional chief aligned to Zanu PF hijacked a ceremony
organised by Plan International and started chanting Zanu PF slogans before
forcing everyone at the gathering to join in the milieu.
Chief Marange and Shuah Mudiwa, legislator for Mutare West pushed and shoved
each other, exchanging verbal insults, nearing a fist-fight.
The chief had implored people to visit Chimoio, where scores of liberation
fighters and refugees perished during the war.
Marange insulted Mudiwa, saying he was against legislators of Mudiwa’s
caliber without liberation war credentials.
But MDCT MP Mudiwa called for non-partisan speeches at the gathering, which
was ignored by the Zanu PF-aligned traditional chief and other rowdy Zanu PF
“We don’t want these kinds of gatherings to be politicized, this is a
humanitarian event,” Mudiwa said.
Manicaland Province is on record experiencing acute food shortages as talks
of elections this year intensify by Zanu PF politicians, sparking fears that
the situation in the eastern province may worsen.
These reporters witnessed activists from Zanu PF and MDC formations engaging
in running battles, threatening to confront each other in fist fights,
throwing rocks and empty beer bottles at each other.
The event had been earmarked for the handover of hospital equipment donated
by Plan International (Canada Office) meant to benefit less privileged
pregnant mothers and children.
Impeccable sources from Plan International said Zanu PF’s actions in Mutare
were a replica of the party’s Masvingo Provincial Governor Titus Maluleke
when he banned NGOs in the drought-stricken province two months ago.
The National MDC-T Youth Assembly has castigated Zanu PF’s actions at the
“We have got some elements used by Zanu PF to abuse the people of Zimbabwe
and that is the reason why even on non-political forums we end up having
people chanting party slogans,” said Oliver Chikumba, Youth Assembly
National Secretary for ICT.
May 3, 9:07 AM EDT
By ANGUS SHAW
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Prosecutors in Zimbabwe said Thursday they have
dropped charges against three women accused of raping men to collect their
semen for tribal rituals after DNA tests failed to link them to 17 men who
claimed they were victims.
Prosecutors said Thursday that DNA evidence cleared the women, who will now
face prostitution charges.
The women, aged in their 20s, and a male companion were arrested in November
on charges of "aggravated indecent assault" amid allegations they lured men
into a car and forced them to have sex at gunpoint, knifepoint or using
drugged drinks to collect semen for tribal rituals. Police said 31 condoms
containing semen were found in the car.
In a case that has fascinated the nation, the women denied the allegations,
saying they had sex for money and didn't throw out the condoms.
Prostitution is rife in Zimbabwe after years of economic meltdown and
Sophie, 26, and Netsai Nhokwara, 24, who are sisters, and Rosemary
Chakwizira, 28, had faced lengthy prison sentences on the charges of
aggravated sexual assault, equivalent to the penalty for rape committed by
Soliciting and prostitution charges carry a small fine.
According to court papers, 17 men stepped forward with claims they were
victims of women said to be in a syndicate preying on men flagging down cars
or minibuses for lifts along the nation's highways since 2010. One said he
was sprayed with and forced to drink a pungent liquid.
Local media reports have suggested some men alleging they were abducted and
sexually assaulted used it as an excuse for spending nights away from home
The arrests of the three women in the provincial city of Gweru after their
car was involved in an accident fueled intense rumors that a syndicate was
collecting semen for rituals. There is a local belief that the semen is more
powerful if obtained through sexual coercion, and that it is not so potent
if gathered voluntarily.
by Moses Matenga I NewsDay
PROPHET Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family International Church (UFIC) has
admitted to irregularly acquiring huge tracts of land from Chitungwiza Town
Council and has asked the local authority “to regularise the state of
This followed the adoption of a probe report by the joint meeting of the
public works, town lands and environment management; education, housing and
community service; and general purpose committees on how UFIC acquired the
The committees on Tuesday recommended the arrest of housing and community
services director Jemina Gumbo for allegedly facilitating the illegal
transactions. Gumbo, the committee recommended, should be “prosecuted for
criminal abuse of office as a public officer”.
The report by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s special
investigating team on land also unearthed a litany of clandestine land deals
which resulted in council allocating UFIC three stands instead of one stand
the church had paid for.
The stands’ land use was not meant for church building.In one of the deals,
council purportedly claimed to have sold a 2,000-square-metre (sq m) stand
to UFIC when in reality it was over 92,000 sq m.
“A Lease Agreement on the stand was signed on the 12th of July 2011 and
indicated as measuring 2,000 sq m . . . The measurement is not correct
because the actual stand size is 92 130 sq m,” reads the report.
“This stand does not exist on the Chitungwiza Town Centre Layout Plan (ref
E591 03/02/1987) produced by the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and
Urban Development’s Department of Physical Planning because all land
administered by Chitungwiza Municipality is State land.”
The report further said: “According to available records, stand 19,770,
whose size is 182,725 sq m belongs to Chenjerai T. Madamombe and it is
adjacent to 19,769.
"It is on stand 19970 that UFIC is constructing, not on the stand on the
file and plan.”
In view of these, and numerous other alleged indiscretions, the team
recommended Gumbo’s arrest, saying:
“The Director of Housing and Community Services, Ms Jemina Gumbo, should be
charged and prosecuted for criminal abuse of office as a public officer. (a)
She usurped council authority or powers in the allocation of stands in
particular to UFIC and signing the deed of settlement with Chenjerai
Madamombe without council authority for the same stand. (b) She did not seek
any council resolution on allocating the stands to different persons. (c)
She made multiple allocations for the same stands without any good reason.
(d) She also disregarded the mandatory provisions of section 26 (3) of the
Regional, Town and Country Planning Act and allocated stands for purposes
other (than) those permitted in terms of the approved layout plans.”
In an apparent admission to the irregular way the church acquired the
stands, UFIC lawyers Mushangwe and Company in a letter to acting town clerk
Fungai Mbetsa dated April 13, asked council to “rectify the state of affairs
and relinquish its right, title and interest in stand number 19,769 which
property is being surrendered back to council”.
The letter further reads: “Our client hereby relinquishes its right, title
and interest in stand number 19,769 which property is being surrendered to
“Further to our agreement, we would like to seek the indulgence of the
council to rectify the state of affairs by allowing our client to apply for
permission to use and develop stand number 19,770 which is 180,000 square
metres in extent.
"They are already building a mega church on the stand which will sit 17,000
people and the project is currently 80% complete with the administration
block, ablution facilities and structure of the church already complete.”
The letter added: “Our clients wish to proceed to apply for change of use at
the property they are constructing should you be amenable to their
Mbetsa confirmed that the resuscitation team’s recommendations were adopted.
“The report was discussed and we recommended that UFIC should comply with
provisions of the law for change of use, then council would consider their
application,” he said.
The UFIC matter is due for deliberations by the full council soon.
By: Terence Creamer
3rd May 2012
Implementation of a one-stop border post at Beitbridge, the congested
crossing between South Africa and Zimbabwe, is “imperative” to reducing
trade-restricting transactions costs that are currently estimated to be as
high at $35-million a year, African Development Bank chief economist
Professor Mthuli Ncube argues.
In a paper entitled ‘Border Posts, Checkpoints and Trade in Southern African
Development Community (SADC) Countries’, Ncube says chronic delays,
congestion and inefficiency at Beitbridge are costly in both time and money.
Waiting times range from 33 hours to 45 hours, while yearly transaction
costs are estimate to be between $29.3-million and $35-million.
By implementing a one-stop solution, similar to the one that has already
been deployed at the Chirundu crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Ncube
believes the flow of commercial goods and services, as well as the movement
of people, will improve significantly, helping to facilitate further trade
At Chirundu, northbound trucks are inspected and cleared by the Zambian
authorities, while Zimbabwean officials clear southbound vehicles, reducing
the duplication associated with two checks. Average waiting times have
reportedly fallen from around two days to two hours, while those using the
fast-track preclearance procedure are now crossing within 15 minutes.
The reduced transaction costs associated with the one-stop solution have
stimulated trade, which has increased revenues for Zambia by 30%.
Ncube believes the solution should be replicated at Beitbridge, which is one
of the busiest border posts within the SADC, with more than 3 500 vehicles
and 12 000 people crossing daily during peak periods.
The paper also makes the case for a more generalised roll-out of one-stop
border solutions across the region.
Trade liberalisation efforts, Ncube notes, have helped raise trade volume
within the SADC from $12.4-billion in 2000 to $34.5-billion in 2010, after
peaking at $36-billion in 2008. However, the large number of border posts
and roadblocks along key SADC corridors are costing the region about
$48-million a year.
“The customs environment in the regional grouping is characterised by a lack
of coordination among the multiple government agencies on both sides of
borders. This raises the common challenge of the duplication of procedures
at each border, which increases the potential for risk management and
There is also a lack of computerised customs management systems, while such
systems are not compatible when they do in fact exist.
The solution, Ncube states, lies in one-stop border posts, whereby people
and products make a single stop and pass through simplified and harmonised
customs and immigration procedures.
“One-stop border posts do not only facilitate the movement of goods and
persons by reducing the bureaucracy and clearance times at the borders, they
also enhance trade by reducing the high cost of trading emanating from
delays, bribes, and cumbersome procedures at border posts.”
02 May 2012
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington
Zimbabwe's Labor Minister Paurina Gwanyanya-Mpariwa says the government is
taking allegations of worker abuse by Chinese firms seriously, charging
culprits will be prosecuted under the country's labor laws.
The minister said Wednesday her office will deal decisively with growing
complaints once investigations by a team set-up last year were completed.
The government put together a team to probe the abuse allegations last year
but it seems not much progress has been made since then.
The committee comprises officials from the labor ministry, the National
Social Security Authority (NSSA) and the construction sector. It has been
visiting Chinese construction and mining companies and is yet to submit a
Workers have been complaining of physical abuse, being forced to work long
hours without being paid overtime, among other issues.
Mpariwa-Gwanyanya told VOA the government is taking the allegations
seriously and will leave no stone unturned, adding culprits will be punished
according the the country's labor laws.
Commenting, University of Zimbabwe lecturer John Makumbe said he does not
think the government will punish the Chinese firms found abusing workers.
Thursday, 03 May 2012
Issue – 348
Blessing Rukowe, the MDC Ward 18 chairperson who was facing false charges of
assaulting two Zanu PF youths, Wilson Chaderopa and Hilton Ndawana was
yesterday acquitted by a Kadoma Magistrate.
Dismissing the case, the magistrate said Ndawana and Chaderopa are well
known for terrorising MDC supporters in Sanyati and surrounding areas as
indicated in several police and court reports.
According to a medical report Rukowe was attacked with a sharp object on his
hand causing him to be hospitalised for more than a fortnight.
After the attack, the assailants rushed to make a false police report
against Rukowe who was at that time receiving treatment in hospital alleging
that he had attacked them.
The people’s struggle for real change – Let’s finish it!!!
Reporters Without Borders
Press release – World Press Freedom Day
3 May 2012
Read the article on Robert Mugabe
It is thanks to its president that Zimbabwe’s privately-owned print media
are constantly harassed and that the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation (ZBC) has a monopoly of radio and TV broadcasting. Robert Mugabe
blocks everything, prevents the national unity government from functioning
properly, makes sure the independent media are unable to express themselves
freely and, with the help of his closest aides, keeps the state media under
Mugabe stepped up the pressure on the media after his government’s electoral
setbacks in 2008. Editors were placed under electronic surveillance to check
their loyalty to the party, while opposition activists were abducted and
tried for “terrorist plots” in grotesque trials.
Despite being hailed as a “liberator” when he came to power in the 1980s,
Mugabe has no problem with the arbitrary arrests and harassment to which
most of the country’s journalists are exposed. In 2002, he was the architect
of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the sole
aim of which was to finish off the privately-owned press, above all The
Daily News, then the country’s most widely-read daily. In 2012, “the old
man” was preparing for the next elections – for which a date has yet to be
set – by continuing to curtail free speech. While foreign news organizations
are not welcome, the harassment of local journalists continues.
A journalist killed every five days, six new “predators” brings total to 41
See the complete list of predators: http://en.rsf.org/#trombiPredateur
Today, World Press Freedom Day 2012, Reporters Without Borders condemns the
furious pace of physical attacks on news providers and reports that a total
of 21 journalists and 6 netizens and citizen journalists have been killed
since the start of 2012, many of them in war zones such as Somalia and
Syria. This is a rate of one news provider killed ever five days.
Reporters Without Borders is today also releasing an updated list of its
“predators of the freedom to inform,” a list that has grown in size and now
has 41 members.
“Let there be no witness to our crimes” and “let there be no voice but
ours” – these are the watchwords of authoritarian regimes and armed groups
that are hostile to freedom of information. What with crackdowns on protest
in Arab countries, and suppression of political opposition, criticism and
reporting in other parts of the world, the first four months of 2012 were
especially violent for those who try to provide news and information.
New predators of the freedom to inform
The first quarter of 2012 has clearly shown that the world’s predators of
the freedom to inform, led by Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad and Somalia’s Islamist
militias, are capable of behaving like outright butchers.
The 2011 revolts toppled several despots who were on the predators list such
as Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdallah Saleh but they
unfortunately did not reduce the overall number of these enemies of
Six new predators have joined this evil “club” in 2012: Boko Haram, an
Islamist group that spreads terror in Nigeria; Egypt’s Supreme Council of
the Armed Forces, which has regrettably taken over from deposed dictator
Hosni Mubarak as regards violating freedom of information; the Somali
federal government’s information minister, who is responsible for harassment
and intimidation of the media; Vasif Talibov, the all-powerful leader of
Azerbaijan’s “Autonomous Republic” of Nakhchivan; Pakistan’s intelligence
agencies; and Kim Jong-un, who perpetuated North Korea’s predatory
dictatorship on the death of his father, King Jong-il.
There is a growing trend for countries to have more than one predator. Six
countries now have two. Somalia has as the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab as
well as the information minister. Pakistan has the Taliban as well as the
intelligence agencies. Azerbaijan has President Ilham Aliev as well as
Nakhchivan’s strongman, Talibov, who has turned his fiefdom into a
laboratory for the repressive methods that Aliev applies in the rest of the
Russia not only has Vladimir Putin but also his Chechen “guard-dog,” Ramzan
Kadyrov, who shares his master’s taste for forceful words and gestures. The
Palestinian Territories have both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank
and Hamas in Gaza, both of which use their security forces to harass
journalists. And finally, the Islamic Republic of Iran has both Supreme
Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad, who – despite their rivalry –
agree on gagging the media. Iran still ranks with Eritrea, China, Turkey and
Syria as one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists.
Other presidents, such as Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh, Sudan’s Omar
al-Bashir and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, could be added to the predators list
soon. Yemen, which had a particularly trying 2011, continues to be under
close scrutiny since President Saleh’s departure. Burmese President Thein
Sein, on the other hand, could be removed from the list if he proves to be
the president of reform and democratization in 2012.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were on the list for many
years, like Colombia’s paramilitary groups, which are still on it. The FARC
guerrillas were dropped from the list some time ago because they cut back
targeted actions against journalists. But now the FARC are being blamed for
French freelance journalist Roméo Langlois’ disappearance since 28 April,
when FARC guerrillas attacked a military anti-drug operation that Langlois
Reporters Without Borders is following the case closely, and with the
appropriate caution, as the claim that Langlois has been kidnapped by the
FARC has not yet been clearly confirmed. But the organization intends to use
World Press Freedom Day to pay tribute to his professional courage and to
voice its support for his family and colleagues.
See the complete list of predators: http://en.rsf.org/#trombiPredateur
Vulnerability of cameramen, news photographers and citizen journalists
Freelance journalists, a growing number of whom are covering wars, have paid
a high price in the past four months. Reporters Without Borders pays
particular tribute to citizen journalists, the last bastion of the freedom
to inform when governments want to crush opposition without the outside
world looking on. Cameramen and news photographers are also favourite
targets for repressive regimes that understand only too well the impact of
images and their power of providing information.
In view of the turmoil resulting from the Arab springs, Reporters Without
Borders has decided to accompany the region’s new governments during their
progress towards democracy. After opening an office in Tunisia, Reporters
Without Borders is now about to open one in Libya to encourage the
government’s efforts to build a free and pluralist press. However, the Arab
springs have fallen far short of keeping all their promises and we must
remain on our guard, on the one hand, for manipulative attempts by new
governments to brand protest movements as “terrorist” and, on the other, for
the anti-freedom tendencies of certain protest groups.
Journalists’ safety and international agreements
Because of the growing dangers to which journalists are exposed, Reporters
- Urges the news media to begin a debate about the protection of the
stringers, fixers and local journalists they use, and about the protection
of their sources and the people they interview.
- Calls on governments to implement international provisions on the
protection of journalists in an effective manner. Five years after the UN
Security Council adopted Resolution 1738, a status report is urgently needed
on the specific steps taken to implement it. Governments must accept their
responsibilities and obligations under paragraphs 6 and 7 to do their utmost
to prevent violations of international humanitarian law against journalists
and to end impunity for such violations.
- Requests a revision of the International Criminal Court’s statutes in
order to provide specific protection for journalists, as a special civilian
category, similar to the specific protection they provide for humanitarian
- Urges governments to quickly adopt the Plan of Action on the Safety of
Journalists and the Decision on The Safety of Journalists and the Issue of
Impunity that were drafted by UNESCO in March.
Tsvangirai’s Statement on World Press Freedom day
Harare, 3 May 2012
It is with sadness that I join you on what is supposed to be a celebration
of Press Freedom day.
On Tuesday, I joined the workers on May Day to mark another hollow day and
expressed my fear that most of these days have become meaningless.
We marked Workers’ day in a country with no workers to speak of and today I
am here with you to “celebrate” Press Freedom day when we all know that
press freedom is a scarce commodity in this country.
In 2008, we signed the Global Political Agreement and one of the critical
articles contained therein is Article 19, which deals with Freedom of
Information and Communication.
The article makes it clear that Zimbabwe is “desirous of ensuring the
opening up of the airwaves and ensuring the operation of as many media
houses as possible.” (pp12).
The GPA is clear on the role of the public media and how it should behave in
order to reflect the new dispensation of inclusivity.
Article19.1. (c) (ii) calls upon the government to “take the necessary steps
to ensure that the public media provides balanced and fair coverage to all
political parties for their legitimate political activities.”
The same Article calls upon the government to ensure that “the public and
private media refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility,
political intolerance and ethnic hatred or that unfairly undermines the
political parties and other organisations.”
Sadly, the responsible Ministry has chosen not to make the pubic media
reflect the new inclusive dispensation and to provide a platform for
divergent views in line with the dictates of the GPA.
The responsible Ministry has also chosen not to comply with the instructions
of Cabinet and the Principals of the inclusive government to reconstitute
the boards of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, the ZBC and the Mass
In short, media reforms remain in limbo regardless of the fact that they are
part of those key reforms that are necessary in creating a democratic
society especially as we go towards an election that must produce an
This means that as a government, we have not only failed to deal with the
battery of repressive laws that stand in the way of media freedom such
AIPPA, POSA, The Broadcasting Services Act, the Censorship and Entertainment
Control Act, the Interception of Communications Act, but that we have also
failed to bring in the necessary legislation that would have promoted press
freedom, such as the Freedom of Information Act.
Just like any reforms, there are those in this government who think that
implementing any reform is conceding power, and they have stood in the way
of key reforms including those reforms that would have changed information
management and dissemination and brought in alternative voices.
We have a Ministry that spends more time thinking about how it should
curtail information rather than how it should disseminate it!
It is clear that those ministers refusing to implement reforms are getting
tacit support from a higher office. But the ministers and their handlers, as
well as those journalists that have chosen to peddle hate speech and to sow
seeds of conflict shall be personally liable on the day of reckoning. The
Rwandan example shows that you will be alone, without any institutional
support, when history asks you to account for your role in standing between
the people and their inalienable rights and freedoms.
I notice that the global theme for this year’s event is New Voices: Media
Freedom Helping to Transform Societies.
New voices have to be just that—new voices! That is why the granting of
licences to Zanu PF-aligned radio stations such as Zimpapers Talk Radio and
AB Communications does not in any way reflect pluralisation as envisaged in
Article 19 of the GPA.
It is a case of old wine in new bottles; those old voices in Zanu PF finding
more media with which to complement the ZBC and Zimpapers. There is no
There is no diversity and ordinary Zimbabweans still do not have alternative
media platforms to speak their minds and to make alternative expression.
Those small satellite dishes dotted around the country and mounted even on
pole-and-dagga huts are a big statement from the people of Zimbabwe; indeed
a rebellion from the diet of mono-information relentlessly churned out by
the public broadcaster.
The regional trend should leave us embarrassed as a country. The DRC has 381
radio stations and 93 television stations. (41 radio stations and 51
television stations in Kinshasa alone!). South Africa has about 1 000 radio
and television stations combined.
Zimbabweans have justifiably asked why we have failed to implement reforms
when we are part of the coalition. The answer is simple. Those who see
reforms as conceding power have dug in and the nature of our coalition is
such that political parties second people into government and even a Prime
Minister who is in charge of implementation has no powers to fire any
Minister seconded by another party.
So I am here to register my solidarity with you in your quest for true press
freedom in Zimbabwe.
There cannot be true press freedom when there are moves to ban the
circulation of foreign newspapers!
There cannot be true press freedom when a vendor selling the Prime Minister’s
newsletter is harassed in Gwanda for no apparent reason!
There cannot be true press freedom when journalists are harassed and when we
have political parties that make resolutions to the effect that social media
are a threat and not an opportunity!
In fact, a free and fair election is not possible in this country without a
free press; without a multiplicity of radios, television stations and
newspapers to provide a platform for people to express themselves and to
make informed choices. We will demand it. We will insist on it because a
free press is enshrined in the SADC minimum conditions for the conduct of
free and fair elections.
I want to assure you that we will not allow the frustrations of our present
circumstances to blight us from our historical obligation of creating a new
Zimbabwe with a new culture, a new ethos and a multiplicity of information
platforms so that we develop an informed citizenry.
So we are in this together, in this struggle together!
Some of us value the role of the press in unleashing a new impetus because
information is power!
Information is knowledge!
Information is the key driver for growth and economic development!
That is why a year ago, my office began monthly press briefings with
journalists in order to provide a platform for people to understand the
challenges and progress in this inclusive government.
We began those briefings because we believe that a government is not a cult
movement that should operate outside the public glare and we pledge to
continue holding those briefings in the public interest.
In the new Zimbabwe that we envision, information will play a critical role
because the right to information and freedom of expression are a core
element of democracy.
We believe that an informed society is able to participate in the design and
execution of public policies and is more resourceful and creative in
addressing its social challenges.
There is no law in Zimbabwe that obliges public officials to supply relevant
information when requested to do so by the media or to respond to questions
put to them. It is necessary to come up with a national information policy
that deals with these issues.
Our present circumstances notwithstanding, some of us are staunch believers
in self-regulation in the media with the full understanding that the media
themselves have to act responsibly and to appreciate their potential to make
or unmake a nation, to cause division or unity and to incite war or national
This is our vision of the new information society in the new Zimbabwe but we
will continue to press for media reform as part of the key reforms that we
agreed should take place during the tenure of this transitional government.
May you celebrate this day, well aware that we are solidly behind you in
your quest for true press freedom, but freedom exercised within the context
of responsible journalism.
I can assure you that we are committed to achieving media freedom well
within our lifetime.
I thank You
3 May 2012
This year’s World Press Freedom Day commemorations mark a significant
milestone for the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) as they coincide
with the organisation’s 20th anniversary.
Of equal significance is the fact that the commemorations come on the
backdrop of last year’s 20th anniversary of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration
from which MISA, and inherently MISA-Zimbabwe, derives its brief and mandate
as a freedom of expression advocacy and lobby group.
These two historical milestones offer immense opportunity to SADC
governments and Zimbabwe in particular, to reflect and take stock on how far
the region has gone in fulfilling the obligations of the Windhoek
The Declaration encourages member states to allow for the emergence of an
environment that fosters the establishment and maintenance of an
independent, pluralistic and free press, which is essential to the
realisation of democracy and economic growth.
Sadly for Zimbabwe, the seven-year ban on The Daily News and The Daily News
on Sunday (prior to resumption of publication in 2011) and the holdup in
liberating the airwaves, spoke volumes about the government’s commitment to
the Declaration and let alone, the African Charter on Broadcasting.
MISA-Zimbabwe is nevertheless encouraged by the opening of the print media
sector, which saw the licensing of more than 30 publications. However, the
country’s legislative framework remains a threat to the sustainability of
the very same publications.
We also witnessed the licensing of two commercial national radio stations in
November 2011. However, the controversy surrounding the licensing authority,
the licensing process and the licensees, engender doubts on whether the
development would enhance access to alternative view points for the majority
of Zimbabweans who rely on radio for information.
While there has been a decline in the number of arrests and harassment of
journalists following the inauguration of the coalition government, there is
no guarantee that the situation will continue as long as the repressive laws
remain in place and could be used as and when those in office are subjected
to robust media scrutiny.
Our theme: Media Freedom Now or Never – 20 Years in Defence of Media
Freedom, was deliberately coined mindful of the ongoing constitution making
process and the fact that Zimbabwe does not have constitutional provisions
that guarantee media freedom and citizens’ right to access to information.
It is against this background that journalists and citizens continue to be
harassed and arrested under undemocratic legislation such as AIPPA and the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, among others.
For instance, during the period between November 2011 to date, six cases of
media violations were reported. In four of the six cases journalists were
charged under Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Of the four, three
were specifically charged with criminal defamation.
The cases involved charges against Standard journalists Nqaba Matshazi and
editor Nevanji Madanhire, The Daily News editor Stanley Gama and journalist
Criminal defamation has become the weapon of choice against media freedom
and freedom of expression.
This is despite spirited calls by the African Commission on Human and
Peoples Rights’ Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to
Information, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, for the repeal of all criminal
defamation laws and provisions which are antithetical to a democratic media
In celebrating our 20-years in defence of freedom of expression and media
freedom, we hereby reiterate and reaffirm our commitment to the ideals,
principles and visions of MISA as espoused in terms of the Windhoek
Declaration, African Charter on Broadcasting and the Banjul Declaration on
the Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa.
On its part the government should fully comply with these instruments and as
a matter of urgency:
- license more independent players in the broadcasting field and transform
ZBC into a true public service broadcaster
- institute fundamental media law reforms and comply with the African
Commission’s recommendations to amend some provisions of AIPPA
- present before parliament the much talked about Freedom of Information
- ensure that there are explicit constitutional provisions that guarantee
the right to freedom of information and press freedom
CONSTITUTION WATCH 2012
[3rd May 2012]
Latest Draft Constitution Published
On 1st May Newsday published its first instalment of the text of the latest draft of the constitution, i.e., the draft that was approved by the COPAC Select Committee and then delivered to the Management Committee last week. [Note: In our last Constitution Watch Veritas, referred to this as the second draft – to distinguish it from the first draft published by the Herald on the 10th of February. But although that draft has now been thoroughly revised by the lead drafters and the COPAC Co-chairs Forum, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs chairing the Management Committee has insisted that it should be called the “first draft” because it is the first official draft to reach the Management Committee and be accepted by the Management Committee as a foundation for progress. Veritas to avoid confusion will call it the revised draft]
This first Newsday extract covered the Preamble and Chapter 1 [Founding Principles]. Newsday of 2nd May followed with instalment 2. This extract covers Chapter 2 [National Objectives], Chapter 3 [Citizenship] and part of Chapter 4 [Declaration of Rights]. Today’s Newsday continues with Chapter 4 up to clause 22.
Veritas does not usually circulate drafts that are not complete or have not been finalised. But as the latest draft is now in the public domain and needs to be widely discussed, and as we believe it may be helpful to do so, we make it available in electronic form for those who do not have access to a hard copy or otherwise need a soft copy. We thank Newsday for providing the document. [Copy of draft constitution available from firstname.lastname@example.org - 140 KB zipped Word document.]
Yesterday’s Herald had the complete draft as a supplement, but the very small print makes it difficult to read.
First Draft (Revised) Still Not Complete
As pointed out in Constitution Watch of 26th April, this revised draft is not a complete draft. There are issues that were still to be decided by the Management Committee and/or the principals or political parties. Also to be borne in mind when reading the draft is that, as well as later inclusion of issues still to be resolved, there may be further revisions even of this text by the Management Committee and/or the principals/party presidents or political parties. It is only when it has gone through all these levels that a final draft will be translated and made available countrywide for debate before the Second Stakeholders’ Conference. So any comment on or objection to the first draft (revised) may also have to be revised. Nevertheless, as the new constitution requires study and analysis, the sooner this is started the better – with the caveat that there are still changes to come.
Result of Management Committee Meeting on 30th April
The COPAC Management Committee met as planned on Monday 30th April to consider the revised draft delivered to them by the COPAC co-chairs last week. Press reports of the meeting’s outcome have been somewhat contradictory, but according to the chairperson of the Management Committee, Hon Eric Matinenga, Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, the decisions taken at that meeting were:
· the Management Committee will remain seized with the “parked issues” and will meet again next week with a view to resolving them, the only really troublesome remaining issue being what provision should be made for implementation of devolution of power to the provinces
· the draft must be referred to the three GPA political parties for their comments. [This has now been done.]
· the draft, even though incomplete, must be given to the “party principals/party presidents”, i.e., it must go to Professor Ncube as well as to Mr Mugabe , Mr Tsvangirai and Professor Mutambara. [It has already been received by Professor Ncube, Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai.] [Note: Professor Ncube’s MDC is represented on the Select Committee and the Management Committee. Professor Mutambara’s MDC is not.]
· the Select Committee members, under the leadership of the co-chairs, must endeavour to make the necessary editorial corrections arising from discussions that have taken place so far and must revisit the provisions on citizenship to make the changes agreed on by the Management Committee regarding dual citizenship. [The management committee had at a previous meeting resolved the “parked” issue of dual citizenship by leaving it to be regulated by Act of Parliament, but at the same time ensuring special protection of the rights of citizens by birth and descent, and those currently classed as aliens but who by virtue of birth in and family residence in Zimbabwe can be said to belong to Zimbabwe.]
· the political parties must submit their comments no later than Friday 4th May. [Mr Biti has said that MDC-T has already made its comments.]
· the co-chairs must also submit the tidied-up draft no later than Friday 4th May, to facilitate a fruitful Management Committee meeting on Monday 7th May.
Two out of Three Previously Parked Issues Resolved
Number of Vice-Presidents This formerly parked issue [see Constitution Watch of 26th April 2012] has been resolved by not specifying whether there would be one or two in the Constitution, and instead saying there can be “up to two Vice-Presidents’.
Dual citizenship This issue has been resolved [see above] – though there is still a strong opinion that it should not be left to an Act of Parliament because correctly all the important parameters of citizenship should be covered in the Constitution.
Devolution and its modalities This still remains an unresolved and contentious issue and the Chapter of the revised draft headed Provincial and Local Government is still “parked”. [Note: The present constitution has a certain measure of devolution but there is pressure for more devolution of power from the MDC parties and strong resistance to this from ZANU-PF.]
How Long to an Agreed Final Draft?
Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga said today he hoped the remaining issues could be satisfactorily resolved and the final draft wrapped up by the end of next week.
Comment: Wrapping up the draft by the end of next week – 11th May – is a tall order. Things could still be delayed or derailed – for instance, by one of the GPA political parties failing to come up with agreed comments on the draft for submission to the Management Committee. Reports suggest that there is a strong body of opinion within ZANU-PF that is vehemently opposed to the draft. The ZANU-PF Politburo is due to meet on Thursday 3rd May.
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