in Harare Tuesday May 6, 2003 The Guardian
In a move hailed as the
first step towards solving Zimbabwe's deepening crisis, President Robert
Mugabe came under concerted pressure from three African leaders to begin
negotiations with the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria
and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi met Mr Mugabe for two hours yesterday to
encourage his ruling Zanu-PF party to hold talks with the MDC.
meeting Mr Mugabe, the leaders met the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, for 90
minutes. "The three presidents agreed with me that Zimbabwe is in a dire
state," said Mr Tsvangirai. "We agreed that we have to work out a solution.
The fundamental issue is that the MDC and Zanu-PF must get down and
The inter-party negotiations would aim to establish a transitional
period in which Mr Mugabe would retire and an interim government including
both parties would be installed to pave the way for new, free and fair
elections according to international standards, say African diplomats close
to the talks.
However, Mr Mugabe has not welcomed the pressure from
his fellow African leaders. The state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper questioned
whether the presidents were coming "as African brothers or as agents of the
Speaking after the talks, Mr Obasanjo said: "It
appears as if this country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. That might be an
exaggeration, but things are definitely bad."
Mr Mugabe stuck to his
demand that before any talks the MDC had to drop its legal challenge to his
2002 re-election, which the Commonwealth dismissed as rigged.
said they don't recognise me alongside the British, the Americans and the
Europeans. Does the MDC now say they recognise me? That is the issue," he
told reporters. "If they do, well, that means that the action now in court
has to be withdrawn and we start talking."
Mr Tsvangirai has stated that
the MDC is not willing to abandon its case. The court case, alleging
widespread state-sponsored violence and vote-rigging, is the opposition
party's only legal recourse.
Mr Tsvangirai has put forward his own
conditions to the inter-party talks. He said that all state-sponsored
violence and torture against MDC supporters must stop and that the repressive
Public Order and Security Act and the anti-press laws must be
"It may be a halting step but this is none the less the first
step in the movement towards a democratic government," said Iden Wetherell,
the editor of the Zimbabwe Independent. "It may be a protracted and messy
process, but it has now begun. The visit of the three leaders represents a
significant chink in the hitherto solid armour of African solidarity
John Makumbe, the chairman of the Zimbabwe in Crisis
Coalition, was cautious. "I believe Mugabe has a few more tricks left up his
sleeve," he said. "The process has begun but I fear there will be... more
blood spilled before Mugabe actually steps down."
The visiting leaders
were welcomed by about 300 female MDC supporters who gathered in the centre
of the capital, Harare. Jubilantly singing and dancing, they waved placards
saying: "Please advise Mugabe to step down", "Tell Mugabe to go now" and
"Women are being tortured".
Armed police charged the crowd and dragged
away about 10 women, including some with babies. But the action did not
dampen the protesters' spirits. "They can arrest us, but they cannot stop
us," said one woman after fleeing police.
Africans' attempt to resolve Zimbabwe crisis
fails By Tim Butcher in Johannesburg and Peta Thornycroft in
Harare (Filed: 06/05/2003)
A concerted African effort to resolve
Zimbabwe's crisis appeared to have collapsed last night as the presidents of
South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi failed to persuade Robert Mugabe and his
political opponents even to sit down for talks.
president said he would negotiate with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, only if it recognised that his
re-election had been legitimate. But Mr Tsvangirai said he would talk only if
no conditions were attached.
Last year's presidential election, which was
derided by western observers as a travesty of democracy, is being challenged
in the courts by the MDC. It says Mr Mugabe's regime has no democratic
The failure to reach agreement last night paved the way for
further industrial action organised by unions allied to the MDC. This will
doubtless be met with a new round of repression by Mr Mugabe's
The African leaders' mission was so unsuccessful that President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa did not attend the official press conference in
Harare, instead flying to the Democratic Republic of Congo on an
South African government sources had inflated
expectations over the visit to Harare by Mr Mbeki, President Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi.
close to Mr Mbeki had hinted at a "historic day for Zimbabwe" and a "good day
for Africa" as regional powers, rather than white, western governments, would
end Zimbabwe's political crisis and economic slump. But Mr Obasanjo admitted
It was the first face-to-face meeting between Mr
Mbeki and Mr Tsvangirai, raising hopes that Pretoria's lukewarm attitude to
the opposition might change.
Some South African sources had predicted
that Mr Mugabe would stand down after 23 years of de facto dictatorship, but
this proved optimistic.
Instead he came out fighting, using the visit to
put pressure on his MDC opponents.
Mr Mugabe told reporters: "Does the
MDC now say they recognise me? That is the issue. If they do, that means
action in court has to be withdrawn, and we start
AN INITIATIVE by three African leaders to bring President Mugabe to the
negotiating table with Zimbabwe's pro-democracy Opposition was blocked
yesterday at the very first
After more than two hours with President Mbeki of South Africa and President
Muluzi of Malawi and Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's President-elect, Mr Mugabe
declared that he was willing to negotiate with Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the Movement for Democratic Change
However, the MDC would first have to recognise his legitimacy to govern the
country by dropping its court challenge to his controversial victory in
presidential elections last year, he said. The MDC is applying for the
election result to be overturned because of the ruling Zanu (PF)'s campaign
of violence, fraud and manipulation of the electoral process. Most Western
governments and the Commonwealth ruled that the election was not free and
Mr Obasanjo said that the three Presidents were delighted that Mr Mugabe was
anxious to talk with the MDC. However, in a reference to Mr Mugabe's demand
that the MDC drop its legal challenge, he said: "There is a little point
which we can work out. We will work on it as quickly
A statement from the MDC later did not mention the blockage. It said that the
three leaders had stated that there was a "pressing need for Zimbabweans to
open dialogue" to deal with the country's
Mr Tsvangirai told them that the MDC was "ready for unconditional dialogue
and was ready any time, anywhere to engage in
Mr Mugabe's obduracy appears to have undone a long, carefully planned
international diplomatic strategy. Widespread expectations that Mr Mbeki and
Mr Obasanjo would finally be blunt with him have evaporated. The Harare
meeting was a major test for the leaders of Africa's two most powerful
countries and it appears that they were easily pushed aside by Mr Mugabe,
diplomats said. The regime gave no sign yesterday it was sensitive to the
presence of the three leaders. Outside the hotel where they met
Mr Tsvangirai, police dispersed a group of 30 MDC demonstrators and
arrested ten of
Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo brokered talks between the MDC and Zanu (PF) a year
ago, but they fell apart after five weeks over Zanu (PF)'s refusal to
continue unless the MDC dropped the court case. MDC officials confirmed that
the party would drop the case, but only after Mr Mugabe gave a "cast-iron
guarantee" that he would resign soon.
Zimbabwe Fail to Break Political Crisis By GINGER
OHANNESBURG, May 5 - At the end of an afternoon of whirlwind
diplomacy in Zimbabwe today, three of Africa's most powerful presidents
failed to break a stalemate between President Robert Mugabe and his leading
opponents that has pushed the country to the brink of economic
The visit to Zimbabwe by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi had been the
focus of intense speculation by news organizations. The meeting had raised
hopes across southern Africa for the start of a peaceful resolution to
Zimbabwe's worst crisis since the end of white-minority rule more than two
Zimbabwe has been ravaged by soaring inflation
and unemployment, shortages of food and fuel, and cycles of state-sponsored
violence against those thought to be government opponents. Two weeks ago, the
tensions gave way to mixed hope and confusion when Mr. Mugabe, 79, made
veiled comments to news organizations that he could be ready to retire,
ending 23 years in power.
As they traveled back and forth across Harare
today, the three visiting heads of state appeared beaming, sometimes arm in
arm, presenting a formidable image of African unity.
But they were
careful to avoid any public talk of a change in leadership in Zimbabwe. Their
aides emphasized that the high-profile visit was aimed only at helping to
mediate the differences between Mr. Mugabe and the leading opposition party,
the Movement for Democratic Change, or M.D.C. But, after hours of meetings
with Mr. Mugabe and the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, there was
little sign of concrete progress.
Mr. Mugabe has said he will only agree
to meet with the opposition leaders on condition that they drop a lawsuit
challenging the legitimacy of presidential elections last year in which Mr.
Mugabe narrowly defeated Mr. Tsvangirai.
The opposition party,
international human rights groups, and several foreign governments, including
the United States, have charged that the elections were marred by fraud and
Political analysts speculate that the current Mugabe
government needs international recognition in order to shield the president
from future prosecution for human rights violations.
"I am the
president of this country and I have legitimacy," Mr. Mugabe said at a news
conference in Harare today. "The M.D.C. doesn't recognize me, that's the
issue. If they do, that means now the M.D.C.'s court challenge has to be
withdrawn and we can start talking."
Meanwhile, Mr. Tsvangirai said he
would be willing to meet with Mr. Mugabe if the government disbanded militias
that have been accused of systematic brutality against opposition supporters
and restored the rule of law. But it appeared that Mr. Tsvangirai refused
today to agree to drop the lawsuit.
"The underlying issue is that the
M.D.C. and Zanu-PF must meet," Mr. Tsvangirai said, referring to the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, Mr. Mugabe's party. "The
country is in a dire state."
Mr. Obasanjo put a positive spin on the
talks, calling the issue of how the election was conducted "a little point we
can work out.
"On both sides we saw one common factor," he added,
"earnestness for negotiations to be resumed."
British Foreign Secretary Mr Jack Straw and
United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr Walter
Kansteiner, are expected to meet in Botswana next week where the American
military has an air base.
Well-placed sources said the British Foreign
Secretary was expected to arrive in South Africa on Monday next week for a
two-day visit before touring the region.
Mr Straw was expected to
spend several days in Botswana where he will join Mr Kansteiner at an
undisclosed venue for discussions suspected to centre
South African media reports last week were saying
American President George W. Bush was sending Mr Kansteiner to the region to
persuade African leaders to back its strategy to effect a regime change in
Mr Kansteiner last year said his government was working with
South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, the EU and other countries throughout the
world, civil society and independent journalists' groups in Zimbabwe to
remove President Mugabe and the Government from office.
Africa, Botswana and Mozambique distanced themselves from Mr Kansteiner's
statement saying they were not aware of any such plans.
Fresh from their
invasion and occupation of Iraq, the United States and British officials'
meeting in Botswana, where the US has a military base, was being interpreted
as a tactic to scare the Zimbabwean Government to comply with a new American
strategy to have President Mugabe replaced by a new leader from
This comes in the wake of yesterday's visit to Zimbabwe by the
presidents of South Africa, Nigeria and Malawi to resuscitate talks between
Zanu-PF and the MDC, which were postponed following the opposition party's
court application to declare the election of President Mugabe null and
MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said his party and
Zanu-PF must meet as a matter of urgency to discuss the problems affecting
Speaking to journalists after meeting Presidents Thabo Mbeki
of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi,
Mr Tsvangirai stressed that the two parties should meet.
underlying concern is that MDC and Zanu-PF must urgently convene and discuss
the issues affecting the country because the country is in a dire strait," he
told journalists at Sheraton Hotel where he met the three leaders to find
ways of resuscitating dialogue between Zanu-PF and MDC.
would, however, not comment further but showed he was keen
ERRATIC fuel, coal and electricity
supply has affected the tobacco selling season and preparations for the
The shortage of fuel, especially diesel, has left most of
the farmers behind schedule.
There has been low activity at the
country's three auction floors as the farmers are still curing their crop.
Others have also failed to ferry their crop to the auction floors.
deputy president of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Mr Wilfanos Mashingaidze,
said the farmers had already exhausted the money allocated to them from the
Tobacco Growers' Trust.
"We are already anticipating money for this
season which would be allocated to us by the Reserve Bank through TGT.
Farmers are aware that the money collected last season has all been
exhausted," said Mr Mashingaidze.
He added that it is only after they
have received the money that they would be able to facilitate fuel supplies
to the farmers.
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association on its website has also
pointed out that diesel and coal shortage has affected
"Of the estimated +/- 500 commercial farmers a fair portion
have started some land preparations for 2004 in form of pre-discing or
harrowing of the their lands. However, the shortage of diesel may hamper
further progress and increases in hectares in all sectors," ZTA
There are fears that the shortage of inputs may dent next season's
Players in the tobacco industry are bitter that they are
not given the priority when diesel, coal and electricity are being
They argue that they are the cash cows of the country's
economy and denying them some of the basic inputs would affect production of
TGT get 20 percent of the total foreign currency earnings of
the crop from the farmers which is then used for inputs.
supplies of inputs were characteristic throughout the 2002/2003 tobacco
"Coal deliveries to farms have stabilised and most growers have
sufficient stocks to complete curing their crop.
haulage was the only option available to farmers to avoid leaf losses," said
The shortage of coal has seen farmers relying on wood leading to
Discussions on re-afforestaion programmes are
currently in progress between tobacco associations, affiliates and local
Re the article "Rain but no parade" posted yesterday....about
the two man protest at the cricket:
Attached is a BBC photo of me and a young lad called Hari in our
two man demo at Edgebaston. I froze my behind off in the rain and wind - luckily
a few years of experience made me varnish my posters so they wouldn't sag and
smudge. One can always extract a bit of humour from the situation. The
Coventry branch MDC arrived after most of the press went except SKY TV. That
quadrupled our numbers to 8.
PRESIDENTS Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, Bakili Muluzi of Malawi and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria yesterday
urged President Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to resume dialogue to
resolve Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic
Tsvangirai dismissed a ZBC/TV
report last night that he had accepted Mugabe as the legitimate leader of the
He said: "ZBC is totally out of
context. Our position is clear that we have not accepted him as the
legitimate leader. We have never made any undertaking apart from saying that
because of the current crisis we are willing to speak to him, but without any
But Mugabe insists that the
MDC recognise him as the legitimate Head of State before dialogue
"The MDC said they don't
recognise me alongside the British, the Americans and the Europeans. Does the
MDC now say they recognise me? That is the issue," Mugabe told
"If they do, well, that means
that the action now in court has to be withdrawn and we start talking, and I
now talk to them knowing that they recognise
The three visiting heads of state
made their views clear to Mugabe and Tsvangirai at separate meetings in
Harare as it emerged that the troika acknowledged that there was a governance
crisis in Zimbabwe.
government source said yesterday: "They were told in no uncertain terms that
they should go back to the negotiating table as a matter of urgency without
"The three leaders want
the political impasse to be unlocked. So the first hurdle is to bring the two
to the negotiating table before any substantive issues are
The issue of the MDC to
recognise Mugabe as the President was also raised, as well as for the MDC to
withdraw its High Court petition challenging Mugabe's presidential election
victory last year.
The three leaders
expressed concern that the Zimbabwe crisis was impacting negatively on the
southern African region.
that no aides were present at the two-hour closed meeting with
The visiting leaders then went to
a Harare hotel and met Tsvangirai, who is on trial on charges of plotting to
assassinate Mugabe, effectively placing Tsvangirai at the level of a head of
state. The MDC leader denies plotting to kill
South African officials said the
one-day visit sought to facilitate dialogue between Mugabe and MDC, which has
accused the veteran leader of a harsh political crackdown following his
victory in the disputed presidential poll last
Tsvangirai agreed with the three
African leaders that there was an urgent need for dialogue without any
conditions to stop gross human rights abuses and resolve the
Last year, similar talks
facilitated by Obasanjo and Mbeki flopped after the MDC leader petitioned the
High Court over Mugabe's re-election, largely condemned as flawed by the
left Harare for Kinshasa late yesterday after the meeting with Tsvangirai,
while Muluzi and Obasanjo returned to State House to brief Mugabe on their
talks with the MDC leader.
The Daily News
was barred from entering State House where a media briefing was made by
Muluzi and Obasanjo.
told the three presidents that he hoped Zanu PF would "summon sufficient
courage to put the interest of the country above its partisan quest to retain
In a statement, Paul Themba
Nyathi, the MDC spokesman, said: "The three visiting leaders sought to find
out whether the MDC was committed to dialogue as a way of resolving the
Zimbabwe crisis. Tsvangirai explained the depth of the crisis as it manifests
itself in the political, economic and social
"He agreed with the expressed
view of the three statesmen that there was a pressing need for Zimbabweans
themselves to open dialogue with a view to addressing all their problems. The
MDC reiterated that it was ready to unconditionally dialogue and was ready
anytime, anywhere to engage in
accompanied to the talks by Welshman Ncube, the MDC's secretary-general, and
Gift Chimanikire, Ncube's deputy.
Meanwhile, Priscilla Musihairabwi-Mushonga, the MP for Glen Norah (MDC), said
six placard-carrying women were arrested outside the Harare International
Conference Centre while the three presidents were in closed discussions with
The MP lambasted the police
action saying: "I am upset that human rights are being violated right outside
the venue where the presidents are meeting to discuss human rights abuses. A
truckload of policemen arrested women who came here holding placards urging
the visiting presidents to bring sanity to the
"The message was that we need a
peaceful solution to the Zimbabwe crisis and the women were urging the
presidents to be honest brokers.
State can't respect that, then there is no need for them to meet. It's such a
The NCA sent an open letter to
the three presidents advising them that the best way to solve the Zimbabwe
crisis was through a
statement, NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said: "While welcoming their
interest in resolving Zimbabwe's crisis, we have made it clear to the three
heads of state that the real solution to the country's problems lies in the
authoring of a people-driven democratic Zimbabwean
The NCA said there could
never be free and fair elections in Zimbabwe under the present
The Gwanda branch of the MDC
will this weekend start mobilising its urban structures in preparation for
the municipal elections which due to be conducted in
Petros Mukwena, the MDC deputy
provincial secretary for information and publicity, said in an interview that
the party would hold a public meeting at Jahunda Hall on
He said the meeting would mark the
official launch of the party's campaign for all the nine wards and the
Said Mukwena: "We will
basically be mobilising our supporters for the elections. We want to explain
to them why they should have a say in who governs
He said the party would use the
meeting to mobilise all urban ward and district structures with the
assistance of the party's provincial and national executive
The MDC, he said, would field
candidates in all the nine wards and in the race for the mayoral seat. He
however refused to give the names of the candidates they are planning to
The MDC meeting will mark an
intensification in the battle for the support of Gwanda residents as Zanu PF
has also stepped up its preparations for the same
Zanu PF's preparations took off
on a chaotic note with Lloyd Siyoka, the provincial chairman nullifying the
results of secretive primary elections which sources said were conducted by
individual councillors without the consent of the provincial leadership last
Zanu PF has divided the town into
two districts. Gwanda East includes wards 6-9 while Gwanda West districts
encompasses wards 1-5.
Commenting on the
allegations that the party had conducted secret primary elections last month,
Siyoka said: "Primary elections have not been held and we have not discussed
anything like that at provincial level.
"We are still working on that and we want to handle them with care because
they are very divisive. What you have heard is possibly the wishes of the
people in those wards which may not exactly be the party's
Although Siyoka refused to give
the names of their candidates, inside sources said the provincial executive
was of the opinion that all the sitting councillors should bid for
re-election as there were no
Most of the Gwanda
councillors, including the mayor, were elected unopposed in
ARMED riot police descended on
Town House yesterday morning and forced Elias Mudzuri, the executive mayor of
Harare, to vacate his office and surrender the keys to Sekesai Makwavarara,
the deputy mayor.
Mudzuri was suspended by
Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing on Tuesday last week for alleged incompetence but defied the
He went into hiding
during the Zimbabwe International Trade fair in Bulawayo last week after he
was alerted that the police were hunting
He resurfaced in Harare on
Sunday and reported for duty yesterday.
The police besieged him in his office demanding that he surrender
Mudzuri said: "They said they
had been ordered to take the keys. After resisting, I decided they might
manhandle me so I gave the keys to the deputy mayor and just walked
"I am saying this is harassment.
There is no legal basis for their action. Where has this ever
Last night the council resolved
to reject Mudzuri's suspension.
Combined Harare Residents' Association is preparing a High Court challenge.
Their lawyer, Sheila Jarvis, said the application was not
Mudzuri's lawyer, yesterday responded to Chombo's suspension letter to
Mtetwa said Chombo's letter dealt
with generalities and it was very difficult to know what "the precise and
particular" allegations were.
Chombo was required by law to fully particularise the allegations forming the
basis for a suspension but had not done
She said: "For this reason our client
cannot be expected to give specific responses as he obviously cannot be
expected to know that which has not been communicated to
Mtetwa said Section 54 (2) of the
Urban Councils Act, under which Chombo suspended Mudzuri, required that there
be reasonable grounds for the suspension but Chombo had failed to
She said: "In our
view, you have failed to properly comply with provisions of the law, with the
result that the purported suspension is null, void and of no effect. In the
result, our client is not bound by the unlawfully executed purported
Mtetwa said Chombo had
totally misconceived his powers as set out in the Act, "in addition to
failing to understand the very clear differences between council powers and
the functions of the mayor".
She said it
was not the mayor's function to produce a strategic turnaround plan for the
city and he had taken appropriate action against the official who had failed
to do so as set out in the Act.
said the ministry had refused to grant the council authority to borrow money
for capital projects, resulting in it failing to discharge its duties
On Chombo's accusation that
Mudzuri had suspended and dismissed staff, Mtetwa said the accusation was
based on an improper reading of the Act.
She said Mudzuri was not obliged in terms of the Act to liaise with Chombo's
office in the exercise of functions given to him by
Mudzuri's actions had
at all times been in accordance with the council resolutions and in terms of
"Our client and council, having
been duly elected by residents of Harare, cannot surrender their lawful
functions to your office, particularly where your actions are meant to
subvert the ratepayers through their elected representatives," Mtetwa
She said if Chombo genuinely
believed that there was a basis for Mudzuri's suspension, this could only be
sanctioned by the residents through a ballot.
THE criticism of the government's land
tenure system by Daniel Mackenzie Ncube is
In a report that he presented
recently to the South African Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Agriculture, Ncube, the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Lands, Agriculture, Water Development, Rural Resources and Resettlement, said
the present centralised land tenure system was
Ncube said the problem was
more serious for communally-held land and the State land occupied by
communities under customary rights.
Basically, the people under such a system cannot use land as collateral, for
instance, if they wanted to borrow money from the
One has to go back in history to
fully appreciate the anomalies inherent in the present land tenure
In 1925, a land commission set up
by the colonial administration recommended the racial segregation of land
settlement. This culminated in the Land Apportionment Act of 1930, one of the
most radical and repressive pieces of legislation to be passed in this
In essence, the racial law gave
the whites, who were a small fraction of the total population, 20 million
hectares of the 40 million hectares of arable land, leaving the blacks, who
outnumbered the whites by 25 to one, with 12 million hectares of largely
That Act created what were
called African Reserves for blacks, later to be called Tribal Trust Lands in
which the land was owned communally.
Act allocated land to white settlers on the basis of freehold tenure, giving
them absolute ownership. The blacks, who were uprooted from the rich land,
did not have individual ownership of the poor land they were forced onto as
the African reserves were governed by administrative discretion, while their
land rights were held in trust by a State body justified by colonial
In 1980, when the
present government came into power, it inherited a dual, unequal and
hierarchical system of land tenure characterised by
Freehold lands, ie,
large-scale commercial farms, were held by the whites and the barren tribal
lands occupied by blacks.
trust lands were renamed communal lands and their control vested in the
President of the country, thus perpetuating the colonial set-up which has not
been amended up to this day.
traditional leaders - the chiefs - have the final say on the land under this
A National Land Policy Framework
workshop organised by the government in 1999 drew up a number of proposals
that could be considered to remedy the colonial anomalies in our land tenure
It proposed that all land be
classified under a two-fold tenurial regime, customary and
"All forms of tenure under
received law will fall under the statutory regime while customary forms of
tenure will fall under customary regime," a report produced at the end of the
The report also recommended
the establishment of a National Land Board (NLB) as a statutory trust with
corporate personality in the Constitution. It also proposed the establishment
of Village Assemblies which would be given corporate
It said village lands would be
held under the Village Assemblies under customary tenures by individuals,
families or any other recognised body, while freeholds and leaseholds would
be held under the NLB.
The report said the
relationship between the State and freehold owners is governed by civil laws
and is carefully weighted in favour of land owners, while that between
customary owners and the State is dominated by the granting of discretionary
powers on State functionaries.
government introduced the Land Acquisition Act in 1992, it should have looked
at some of these pertinent issues instead of addressing only the acquisition
for Mugabe, Tsvangirai but to sit down and
5/6/03 7:06:53 AM (GMT
No one can successfully deny that
dialogue remains the cheapest and most effective way to address our pathetic
situation. It is through dialogue that lasting peace seems a reality in
Burundi. Also, is it not of talks between Joseph Kabila and the rebels that
we have witnessed a promising silence from
Now that Presidents Olusegun
Obasanjo, Thabo Mbeki and Bakili Muluzi are in the country, can we prepare a
smile marking good days to come? It is clear that these African leaders know
fully well that the impasse between President Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai is so grave that staring at it would bring the whole of our
continent into inexcusable shame.
two elephants are having a tug-of-war and there seems to be no end in sight.
The longer they fight, the more the country and Africa at large perishes. So
they are here to help Zimbabwe have a reconciliation - that we may work
together as a people and bring sanity to our
But what is the nature of the
impasse that exists between Tsvangirai and our dear Mugabe? To some, why
should there be talks if Mugabe claims he is the legitimate leader? Why,
after all, is Tsvangirai given all such recognition, yet he was hammered in
the last presidential election by our theatrical Mugabe? If Mugabe agrees to
the talks, does it mean he has conceded to failure? If so, why can't he just
throw in the towel? Numerous questions can be drawn from the issue of
It is a fact that we have two
leaders who are proud - politically - because each one of them boasts of
certain volumes of influence from different angles. It's a case of two proud
elephants who are in a brawl and, as it appears, they wield more or less
equal power and influence. Mugabe knows he is the incumbent and he is proud
that Tsvangirai would need supernatural powers to unseat him as he has a say
to all forms of organised violence - the army, police and the CIO. He boasts
of his control over the public media. Professor Jonathan Moyo knows this.
With all this, Mugabe has managed to entrench his hegemony. He is confident
of his background.
On the other hand, the
courageous leader of the opposition is a very proud man. He knows that all
the suffering people of this country are behind him, even the business
people. He is well aware that with the people you can triumph over every
Tsvangirai enjoys the
all-needed international support. So to him there is no other wish an
opposition leader can think of which excludes support from a country's
majority coupled with international support. These two gave us liberation
The two leaders (Mugabe
and Tsvangirai) are both at a vantage point and only time can tell which one
falters first. This has been the basis upon which our country has reached
such a stalemate. It is a case of no one moves, no one goes, thus it has no
winner. Mugabe has used his source of influence - the army, police and war
veterans - to ensure at all costs that Tsvangirai never tastes the smell of
You know why you are being
flogged and harangued on a daily basis, don 't you? This has kept him afloat
and he sees his life going on. He knows that he cannot bring any more good
into the country, but he is not ready to adhere to what comes along with such
failure - quitting. So he has remained adamant that he won't
But Tsvangirai cannot rest and he
has also used all his influence to cause sleepless nights to Mugabe. The
stayaways, the smart sanctions and the all fearsome link to Tony Blair and
George W Bush.
Mugabe keenly followed how
Saddam Hussein faced his demise, so like a normal being he remembered how he
is Blair's worst political enemy and how easily "Tsvangson" can convince the
Britons to invade State House.
factors have finally forced these two colossal figures in our land so far to
roll back a little, so that they try the option of
Mugabe sees no future for himself
if things take another six months in this decayed situation. Even his wish to
complete his term of office is slowly becoming a fallacious as it can't be
achieved as long as the constant menace of Tsvangirai is with us. He knows
Tsvangirai keeps on gathering more influence as long as the economic malaise
is worsening. Minus a better economy there is no
His degrees also tell him that
without foreign currency injection there is no iota of improvement that can
come along to our country and the only face that is relative to the sources
of foreign currency is that of the opposition. So he convinces himself that
at least to avoid a humiliating exit he should talk with Tsvangirai. The
opposition leader is apparently the only hope our dear leader has for a
better Zimbabwe. He can deny this publicly, but his conscience tells him
On the other hand, Tsvangirai knows
that he has all the necessary arsenal to remove Mugabe, but it is a tedious
and cumbersome task especially dealing with a cunning dictator like
Hence, he has seen that maybe
dialogue may fast-track him into State House as it would in the end eliminate
Mugabe gracefully which would inevitably see the crumble of Zanu PF and he
would not face any formidable challenge from anyone in the ruling party. That
is how he hopes to swallow Zanu PF this time
It's still early to say what the
talks will bring us, but as for now all indications are that our two leaders
now appreciate that dialogue can at least bring a win-win situation without
the shedding of innocent blood.
Is POSA being applied more
vigorously in Matabeleland?
5/6/03 7:04:06 AM (GMT +2)
Gande in Bulawayo
IS the Public Order and
Security Act being applied more vigorously in Matabeleland than it is among
high profile politicians in other regions to cow people into
Or are police and law officers
in the region more enthusiastic to suppress dissent than their Harare
These are questions that
have been haunting politicians in Zimbabwe's second largest city which has
emerged as the bulwark of opposition to Mugabe 's
When the MDC organised a mass
stayaway that paralysed the country more than three weeks ago, the police in
Bulawayo were swift in their response.
Within a space of two weeks, they had arrested and detained four MDC MPs
including the party's vice-president, Gibson
Just recently, the ZCTU organised
another successful stayaway.
police in Bulawayo were swift in their response: three ZCTU officials were
arrested a day before the job action.
selective application of POSA on Matabeleland-based politicians and trade
unionists has sent a wave of concern among the people who feel that the law
is being applied selectively.
trade unionists, journalists and even poets from Matabeleland have been
victims of the widely condemned and draconian
The second highest bail that has been
paid under POSA is in Matabeleland, where Sibanda was made to pay $1 million
for his freedom. MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai paid $1,5 million bail for
the treason allegations he is facing.
"What is shocking about the arrests is that politicians in Harare who would
have committed the same crime are not being arrested. Even if they
are arrested they are not detained and denied bail," said Paul Siwela,
an opposition political leader.
in Harare, for example, there were reports that buses were bur nt during the
stayaway yet the police were not as brutal to the MDC leadership in the
capital as they were in Bulawayo where there were no reports of
"We expect the MDC MPs to raise
such concerns in Parliament but they appear afraid because they will be
branded tribalists. It is for such reasons that we are calling for a federal
state," he said.
Siwela was last year
arrested and detained for more than two weeks under POSA after he had
addressed a public meeting that was discussing the controversial 1979
The document, which was
circulated in Matabeleland, encourages the promotion of Shona superiority
over the minority Ndebele.
an MDC councillor in the Bulawayo City Council, said it would appear the
police are more ruthless in Matabeleland because it is perceived to be an MDC
"The reason could also be that
Zanu PF is implementing the dictates of the 1979 document," he
Pastor Raymond Motsi, a Baptist
Church clergyman, said there were a number of reasons why police were being
high-handed when dealing with Matabeleland-based
"We have so many people who
are paranoid. The stayaway caused so much consternation and the people of
Matabeleland are more pro-active," he
Josphat Tshuma, a lawyer said it was
surprising that some leaders facing treason charges were granted bail without
being detained yet Sibanda was being denied bail for a lesser
Tsvangirai, Renson Gasela and
Welshman Ncube are facing treason charges for allegedly plotting to
assassinate President Mugabe.
this during Sibanda's bail application hearing. Felix Mafa, the national
vice-chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said the problems
lay squarely on the constitution.
in Bulawayo have repeatedly denied permission for the NCA to hold public
meetings yet in Harare the same organisation has been allowed to hold the
meetings with a similar agenda.
Mkwananzi of the pressure group Imbovane Yamahlabezulu said: "It appears that
there are two laws for Zimbabweans. The government appears more offended than
the people of Matabeleland"
Gorden Moyo, a
member of Bulawayo Agenda, an advocacy group, said the government was in a
vengeful mood against the people of
Bulawayo Agenda has had 11
applications to hold public meetings spurned by the police in a space of two
"The people of Matabeleland are
being punished and the government is targeting political and civic leaders in
the region. The people of the region are being silenced and the government
wants to instill fear," he said.
who is also the head of the Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said the
government appeared to be afraid that the international community could use
the minority to gain control of the
He gave an example of the United
States and British invasion of Iraq in which the coalition forces used the
minority Kurds in their campaign for the fall of
Signs are that President Mugabe
is finally considering retiring. I say this based on two reasons, the first
being his advanced age and, secondly that he feels he has successfully
pursued his land reform agenda.
pointer to Mugabe's departure is the national dialogue which is being
facilitated by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of
Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi.
the three factors I have mentioned above could be reasons enough for Mugabe
to leave the stage, there is one other strong reason, at least to himself,
which can make him stay on. It is his belief in conspiracy theories that
people are ganging up against him to eliminate him from the
We hope that the
intervention of these presidents would yield positive results by the
dialoguing parties to find common political
This is Mugabe's best chance to
retire with a secure future. He must grab the opportunity with both
Canadian Prime Minister Jean
Chretien was in a similar dilemma. After taking his federal liberal
government to three consecutive majority governments he steadily lost command
of his caucus to his ex-minister of finance, Paul Martin. Chretien had been
accused of sidelining his caucus in the decision-making
Instead civil servants in the
Prime Minister's Office were alleged to be running the show. Martin is widely
respected and is a hot favourite to be the next PM having taken Canada out of
a budget deficit of about US$35 billion (Z$19,25 billion) in 1993 to eight
years of consecutive budget surpluses.
There was a wide-scale call in 2001 from the media, politicians
and colleagues for him to step down for a new person to lead the party.
Opinion polls found out too that Canadians wanted Chretien to resign. The
calls were louder when Martin quit the cabinet, reportedly fired by
In August 2001 Chretien, who had
been reluctant to shed his political future, was finally forced to announce
his retirement date, February 2004. He has been in parliament for 40 years
and the last 10 years of those as Prime
In the run-up to the retirement
announcement, his popularity had sagged and there was scepticism that he
would not even see through his time to retirement. However, now it seems most
likely. His popularity has surged for two reasons. Firstly, the declaration
of his retirement date and, secondly his social
Chretien unveiled his last budget
in February laden with high spending on a range of social programmes;
reduction of child poverty, health, infrastructure, environment and
affordable housing, among a whole host of other programmes. This was Canada's
biggest spending in decades.
number of these social programmes had been unfulfilled since the 1993
election promises that brought Chretien into
So the combination of announcing
his retirement date and his social agenda has again increased his popularity.
He even has had the audacity to tackle controversial, but necessary
legislation, which would normally be left untackled for its delicacy like
introducing legislation that prohibits corporate donations to political
He has pushed the Kyoto Protocol
despite stiff resistance from business. And most recently, he has even
managed to refuse to grant the United States assistance in invading Iraq. The
lame duck PM, as the media called him then, is, after all, in full
Analysts and the media both agree
that Chretien is firmly in control of the government agenda. He is an
emancipated man less beholden to undue influences and freer to pursue his
agenda with minimum hindrances.
Mugabe could seize this opportunity to accept retirement. I would assume that
there would be a brokered deal that would offer him impunity from the vast
crimes that he committed.
announcing his retirement date, it would make a majority of the people
It would also set Mugabe
free to address several programmes that will facilitate the success of the
transitional period and establishment of a new country order. He could do
this in several ways.
He could rally his
hawks and counsel them into accepting a new country order. Not only would he
counsel his hawks, but also all the other Zanu PF connected persons so that
they appreciate the dawning new era with a positive outlook and avoid
Secondly, the President
could engage civic organisations and court their support in bringing about
the new order by preaching the word of reconciliation. He could also urge
them to outlive the era of political extremism and violence, but dedicate
themselves to working with whomever for a new Zimbabwe based on agreed
Thirdly, Mugabe could
assist in pulling down the Zanu PF terror networks, and with the help of
civic organisations integrate them into the society. This will help in
minimising or eliminating the potential reprisals this group of people could
get from revenge-seeking victims. If reprisals were allowed to happen, then
intra-party conflicts would continue, thus denying Zimbabwe a new peaceful
While Mugabe has frankly no more use
for governance, he has a very great role in shaping up a new Zimbabwe by
acting as a middleman in healing the great rift that has occurred along the
However, this role is
not ascribed to him alone.
of the MDC should also be involved in assisting Mugabe in healing the rifts
by mutually preaching conciliatory messages. These two men have a great deal
of work to do in building common ground
is a social and political commentator
The United Nations
Resident/Humanitarian Co-ordinator, on behalf of the UN Country Team in
Zimbabwe placed an advertisement in The Daily News on Friday April 25 2003
expressing condolences over the death of Stephen Nkomo, the Matabeleland
While there is nothing
inherently wrong with consoling a family over their loss, why has the UN not
issued any statement of condolence to the family of Tonderai Machiridza, who
died in hospital on Independence Day from injuries he sustained when he was
assaulted while in police custody?
the UN not offered its sympathies to the family of Professor Masipula
Sithole, a renowned political commentator and academic, who died last
And why has the UN not expressed
its sympathies to any of the over 200 people who have been murdered in
political violence over the past three years or advertised its concern over
the welfare of the thousands of Zimbabweans who have been beaten up,
tortured, raped, displaced and harassed in politically-motivated violence in
This advertisement in the
face of the UN's silence in such cases as described above brings into
question the willingness and capacity of the UN to serve as a non-partisan
actor in Zimbabwe.
jeopardises the credibility of the UN's Country Team in Zimbabwe, and its
ability to serve as an apolitical provider of humanitarian