5 May 2010 - Some 5 million children in Zimbabwe will receive urgently
needed protection from a growing spread of measles thanks to $5.6 million
from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
Despite an initial vaccination of more than 148,000 children in 23 districts
since the beginning of the outbreak in September, the disease has been on
the rise with more than 6,200 cumulative cases, including 384 deaths,
reported in 57 of the 62 districts across the impoverished southern African
"The CERF contribution will allow for urgent programmes to immunize children
against this deadly disease," UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes
said today. "Halting the spread of measles now should avert a number of
In conjunction with Zimbabwe's Health and Child Welfare Ministry, the UN
Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UN World Health Organization (WHO) plan to
immunize 95 per cent of children between the ages of six months and 14 years
during a 10-day campaign. The two UN agencies will provide further technical
assistance in planning, coordinating, implementing and monitoring the
measles outbreak response.
Some $3.5 million in CERF funding will allow UNICEF to provide logistical
support to the nationwide campaign, including ensuring that all measles
vaccines, and the equipment to keep them cold, are delivered quickly to all
62 districts. CERF funds will also help UNICEF to produce and distribute
educational materials ahead of the campaign, to inform the population.
WHO will use $2.1 million to support critical micro-planning activities and
refresher training of some 14,000 people including health workers needed to
carry out a campaign of this scale.
In March the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
reported that aid agencies in Zimbabwe were appealing to donors to support a
$378 million appeal launched in December to support humanitarian and early
recovery efforts in a country has been plagued by widespread humanitarian
suffering in recent years, driven in part by long-running political strife.
At the time the appeal was launched, some 6 million people lacked access to
safe water and sanitation due to the erosion of basic services, while
livelihoods were threatened by the prolonged economic downturn.
CERF was established in 2006 to make funding for humanitarian emergencies
faster and more equitable. Since then, more than 115 Member States and
several private sector donors have contributed $1.9 billion to the Fund,
which is managed by OCHA. Humanitarian agencies in Zimbabwe have received
$57.3 million since 2006.
by Caroline Mvundura Thursday 06 May 2010
HARARE - Zimbabwe's largest platinum producer Zimplats Holdings has said
commencement of a US$445 million project to ramp up production to nearly 300
000 ounces annually was dependent on finalisation of "compliance issues"
regarding the country's controversial black economic empowerment laws.
Zimplats, majority owned by South Africa's Impala Platinum - the world's
second largest platinum producer - said it had won board approval for its
Ngezi phase II expansion project that will see platinum output rising to 270
000 ounces from 180 000 ounces per annum.
The project will among other things include development of an underground
mine, construction of a 35 000 megalitre dam, 1 125 employee houses and
creation of 1 000 new jobs in a country battling to emerge from a 10-year
recession that saw unemployment skyrocketing to about 90 percent according
to some estimates.
But Zimplats said in a quarterly statement released earlier this week that:
"Project commencement is dependant on finalisation of compliance issues
regarding the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act and the
accompanying regulations that were recently gazetted."
Zimplats said it was awaiting response from the government on its proposals
on how it plans to sell stake to local blacks in line with the empowerment
However Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who has given
foreign-controlled companies a May 15 deadline to submit plans of how they
intend to sell 51 percent stake to indigenous Zimbabweans, last month
publicly criticised Zimplats' empowerment plan which he described as
The Harare coalition government has said it is reviewing the empowerment
But analysts have warned that any plan to force foreign-controlled
businesses to sell shares to locals - especially in the absence of a scheme
to assist impoverished indigenous Zimbabweans to buy stake from foreigners -
will only help scare away potential foreign investors whose money the
country badly needs to rebuild its shattered economy.
Zimplats, which last September completed the first phase of its expansion
programme at a cost of US$350 million, said commencement of the second phase
also depended on the firm and the government reaching a "mutually acceptable
arrangement" regarding US$34 million that it is owed by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe and a review of taxes.
Meanwhile Zimplats said operating profit rose 14 percent to $57 million in
the March quarter compared with the December quarter.
The company said metal prices continued an upward trend in the quarter in
line with the global economic recovery and also increased investor interest
in platinum group metals.
Revenue for the first quarter was nine percent higher than the previous
quarter, reflecting the higher sales volumes and improved metal prices.
Operating costs increased by four percent in line with the higher sales
volume, the company said. - ZimOnline.
Harare, May 06, 2010 - Zimbabwe's Education and Health Ministers said the
two sectors were still in a shocking condition due to lack of political will
among the warring political parties in the country.
During a presentation on the social services sector; infrastructure
resuscitation and rehabilitation of education and health services in the
first year of the inclusive government, Education minister David Coltart and
his Health and Child Welfare counterpart Henry Madzorera said although donor
response had been very positive, lack of political will among the government
parties was thwarting progress.
Coltart said Zimbabwe's education system was still in a "free fall", and
most schools in the country were still in a "profoundly shocking" state
despite various interventions since the formation of an inclusive government
This had been worsened by the government's failure to develop a new
curriculum, forcing schools to rely on one developed over two decades ago,
which was out of sync with the demands of modern education. In addition most
schools did not have the textbooks to complement the curriculum.
"The situation at schools is profoundly shocking, but we are working with
our partners and local communities to rehabilitate schools," said Coltart.
"There has not been comprehensive curriculum review for over two decades.
Our hope is that by 2011 we would have come up with concrete areas for
curriculum reform. We are currently working with experts in curriculum
reform to identify areas that can be improved. Our idea is to make the
curriculum more vocational. Most children come out of school with academic
but useless qualifications."
"The fact of the matter is that the education sector has been grossly
neglected by successive governments, and we are now reaping the effects of
that," added Coltart.
In health, Madzorera said the situation had been worsened by erratic
disbursements from treasury, which were much lower than internationally
"Donors are also not willing to put money into the ministry directly. The
health system is still grossly under funded with about $12 per capita
instead of the recommended $34 per capita," said Madzorera.
Former government minister Fay Chung said the government should develop ways
of productively using such natural resources as minerals to fund health and
by Patricia Mpofu Thursday 06 May 2010
HARARE - Five prospective mass media houses have submitted applications to
operate new newspapers in Zimbabwe, among them NewsDay owned by media mogul
Trevor Ncube, Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) officials said on Wednesday.
ZMC chairman Godfrey Majonga said the commission, which called for
applications on Tuesday has been overwhelmed by enquiries from prospective
mass media providers and journalists seeking application and registration
"Its been a hectic two days. The response has just been overwhelming,"
Majonga said, adding; "People are coming to renew their licences,
accreditation, while some are coming to find out the requirements before
applying. One new media house has so far completed its forms and submitted
Majonga declined to disclose the media house that had submitted its
application but ZMC officials privy to the process, speaking on condition
that their names were not published, said the NewsDay and four others had
submitted their applications.
Owners of the Daily News, a popular independent daily newspaper which was
closed in 2003 by the now defunct Tafataona Mahoso-led Media Information
Commission (MIC) using the draconian Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA) were also in town yesterday, according to the officials,
finalising their application.
The Daily News was Zimbabwe's biggest circulating daily newspaper when it
was shut down by the government in 2003 for allegedly violating AIPPA. Three
other newspapers were also banned during the period and scores of
journalists charged as the Harare authorities cracked down on independent
newspapers that the government accused of backing the then opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
The ZMC, a constitutional body created last February as one of the key
reforms to open up the country's political space after President Robert
Mugabe and long time rival but now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a
unity government last year following a dispute over general elections in
March 2008, replaced the state-appointed MIC that used the government's
tough media laws to police the newspaper industry.
Under AIPPA, newspapers could not publish unless they had a licence from the
MIC, with papers that breached the rule forced to close while their
equipment was seized by the police. Newspaper company executives could also
be jailed for publishing without permission from the commission.
The ZMC, which on Tuesday distributed guidelines of establishing a newspaper
or magazine to prospective media houses, has slashed application and
registration fees, resulting in the flood of prospective applications.
According to a gazette published last Friday local journalists will pay a
total of US$30 to work in the country while local journalists working for
foreign media will be required to pay a total of US$120 down from the US$3
000 that the MIC used to charge.
Local media houses will pay an application fee of US$500, registration fee
of US$1 500 and a renewal fee of US$1 000. Application and registration for
news agencies will be US$1 300 per year and the renewal of registration will
Foreign media organisations or news agencies who are willing to set office
in the country are expected to pay US$2 500 down from about US$30 000 per
year while those from the Southern African Development Community will pay
The deadline for all applications and registrations is June 4 and late
applications will attract a penalty of US$1 daily.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a unity government last year following a
dispute over general elections in March 2008 and have promised a raft of
reforms, including freeing up the media by allowing more players.
Western donors, whose aid is essential to Zimbabwe's economic recovery from
a decade-long downturn, have demanded broad political reforms before funding
the unity government, which says it needs at least $10 billion for
The southern African state has been urged to scarp legislation that bars
foreign journalists from working long-term in the country. - ZimOnline
May 5, 2010
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO - Violent clashes involving supporters of the mainstream MDC and
Zanu-PF erupted in parts of Masvingo this week as politically-motivated
violence resurfaced, hampering efforts by the fragile inclusive government
to bring unity among the citizens.
Police in Masvingo on Wednesday said they had this week arrested 10 people
in connection with politically-motivated violence in Bikita and Mwenezi
districts after supporters of the two parties clashed over crimes committed
during the run-up to the March 2008 elections.
MDC supporters clashed with Zanu-PF members at Zimbudzi Village in Bikita.
According to sources, known Zanu-PF supporters who terrorised people in the
district during the run up to the elections had moved around the village
boasting that they committed politically-motivated crimes during that period
and were never arrested.
It is alleged that a family that supports the mainstream MDC, which lost
five herd of cattle during the run-up to the 2008 polls, was angered by the
Zanu-PF supporters' actions.
Tempers flared as the group of Zanu-PF supporters allegedly moved around the
village several times singing songs and chanting slogans boasting they were
above the law since they could commit crimes and go scot-free.
In an act of revenge, the MDC supporters then allegedly ganged up resulting
in violent clashes.
"We have arrested five people after they were involved in fighting over a
herd of cattle that was slaughtered way back in 2008," said police spokesman
Inspector Tinaye Matake.
"Our investigations have revealed that a family which lost cattle during the
run-up to the 2008 elections mobilised people and clashed with a group of
Zanu-PF supporters accusing them of have stolen their cattle.
"We are warning people against taking the law into their own hands because
they risk being arrested."
In Mwenezi police also arrested five people, including a 15-year-old boy who
allegedly murdered a Zanu -PF supporter after accusing him of killing his
father during the run-up to the elections.
A group of MDC-T supporters clashed with a group of Zanu-PF members at
Zimbudzi Village after the boy allegedly fatally stabbed Robert Machacha, an
aide to Zanu-PF politburo member Kudakwashe Bhasikiti.
The boy accused Machacha of having killed his father in the pre-election
period. In retribution for Machacha's alleged murder, Zanu PF supporters
teamed up and heavily assaulted suspected MDC supporters in the area.
Despite the setting up of a government arm responsible for national healing,
some Zimbabweans continue to clash over political allegiances. The clashes
have been partly blamed on the failure by the state to prosecute
perpetrators of crimes.
Critics have say the policy of national healing will never succeed unless
all people who committed politically motivated crimes are brought to book.
The MDC claims that over 500 of its supporters were killed during the run-up
to the 2008 elections, although human rights organisations put the figure at
about 300. To date, most of the suspected murderers are still freely roaming
Meanwhile, Zimrights, a human rights watchdog, says there are gross human
rights abuses in the country despite the formation of the inclusive
government in February last year.
"There is still no rule of law in the country because people are committing
crimes without being arrested," said Mabel Sikhosana, a Zimrights official
"All people are equal and should get equal protection from the state, but
this is not happening. In some cases we are shocked that victims are
arrested at the expense of the perpetrators of crime."
"There are gross human rights abuses in the country despite the formation of
the inclusive government."
Source: The Zimbabwean
Date: 05 May 2010
MASVINGO - Three girls emerge from the bushes near Neshuro service centre in
Masvingo and wave desperately for a lift on the highway that links Zimbabwe
with neighbouring South Africa.
A car pulls off the road a few metres away. Without hesitation, the girls
jump on board a car that gets back on the road with a slight screech and
proceeds in the direction of the border.
As Zimbabwe's southern regions begin to feel the pinch of a drought that
rendered the bulk of the staple maize crop a write-off, many youths,
including school dropouts, are trekking to South Africa in search for jobs
to feed their families back at home. Among the worst affected is the Mwenezi
According to the United Nations, 1.6 million people are in need of emergency
food relief in Zimbabwe. "Food aid partners led by WFP have been feeding
about 1.6 million people during the period January to March 2010," Elizabeth
Lwanga, the United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Zimbabwe, said. "The
WFP-led Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) will scale down in April, which is
the harvesting month when most households start consuming own production.
However, the programmes can be extended based on need and this will be
ascertained through the assessments." New figures are being worked on to see
how many will need food assistance this year. The Federation of Red Cross
Societies has indicated that up to four million people, or a third of
Zimbabwe's population, will need food handouts this year.
In March, donors suspended food supplies in much of Masvingo province and
most parts of the country prompting desperate villagers to trek to South
Africa in search for jobs, mainly on the farms. Explaining the food aid
suspension, Lwanga said: "Food aid partners usually suspend the Vulnerable
Group Feeding (VGF) Programme in April because of the harvest, which enables
households to feed on own production. "The expectation this year is that
there may be pockets of communities which will be affected by crop failure
and hence may need food assistance beyond the peak hunger season which runs
from January to March. However, food aid partners are confident that they
have enough stocks and resources to address these needs. "Food aid partners
are currently monitoring the situation following the protracted dry spell
that affected crops in part of the country to establish if there will be
need to extend their programmes." Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who
chairs the government humanitarian committee, has gone around the country to
assess the food security situation and to reassure people that they will not
But the reassurances mean little for those who are not eligible for free
food, such as the youths who are expected to work and earn their own food.
In a country where unemployment is estimated to be above 90 per cent, jobs
are scarce. Some of the youths claim that food aid lists are manipulated by
politicians soliciting for support and the able-bodied are often told to
find ways to fend for themselves. For many, the only alternative is to skip
the border and search for jobs in neighbouring countries. The trek has left
many villages without an entire generation of the young people who should
till the land when the region gets good rains. While some of those on the
food lists will be fed, for the rest, the nightmare of finding food is
According to the Famine Early Warning System (Fewsnet), Zimbabwe has a
shortfall of 800,000 tonnes of the staple maize this year. The usually
well-stocked produce market in Masvingo was virtually empty of maize on a
The few shops that had maize meal in stock were cashing in on the shortages
and had doubled prices since December. The state grain company, GMB, had
long run out of supplies.
Masvingo Central MP Tongai Matutu said the city was swamped by people from
neighbouring rural areas who came looking for food, as they had harvested
nothing because of the drought.
Matutu also warned that the GMB had not undergone what he termed
"institutional reform", meaning that, even if the food came, it was likely
to be distributed along partisan lines, benefiting supporters of President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party at the expense of the rest. Evidence of this
was seen by The Zimbabwean. A senior Zanu (PF) official had several rooms
full of maize seed from the GMB, while many people in the villages had
nothing. The seed was being offered for sale, although the government
expected it to be given free.
May 5, 2010
By Our Correspondent
HARARE – Police in Harare were on Wednesday left with egg on their faces
after detaining Paul Madzore, an MP for the mainstream MDC, accusing him of
absconding from court three years ago when he was in their custody at the
time he was supposed to attend the hearing.
Madzore was detained for more than two hours at Harare Central Police
Station on allegations that he failed to attend court over allegations he
assaulted two police officers in May 2007.
Police said Madzore, the MP for Glen View South, absconded from court on May
27, 2007 after he had allegedly committed the offence.
However, the police were embarrassed upon revelations that they were at the
material time, in fact, holding Madzore at Harare Remand Prison on separate
allegations of bombing police stations.
To their further humiliation, it was made known to the police that the
assault charges had, in fact, been dismissed.
Madzore told The Daily News he was forced to clear his name once again
“We had to go to the Harare Magistrates’ Court’s administration to verify
that the case had, in fact, been thrown out as I was in prison as from the
28 April 2007 to June 2007,” Madzore said Wednesday.
Three years ago, Madzore was arrested at his home together with his wife,
child and several MDC activists, on allegations of petrol bombing several
police stations in Harare and of possessing firearms.
His wife and child were later released from Harare Central Police Station.
Madzore was reportedly tortured while in police custody and subsequently
moved to a private hospital, where he was put on a life support system.
The police, however, reportedly moved him forcibly back to his remand prison
cell in Harare and denied him access to medical treatment. As a result,
Madzore collapsed twice in his prison cell.
On April 13, 2007, High Court judge Tedius Karwi refused Madzore’s
application for bail, reportedly on the orders of the Minister for Home
Affairs, who issued a certificate of denial on security grounds.
Madzore and others were accused of training as petrol bombers. They were
At the time of the arrests, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) based in
Switzerland said it was deeply concerned at the allegations of torture of
Madzore while in police custody and the denial of the medical treatment he
The IPU also expressed deep concern that the Judge in the case had refused
bail at the behest of the Home Affairs Minister.
Popularly known as “The Singing MP”, musician Madzore is one of Zimbabwe’s
youngest legislators. The charismatic MP has stolen the hearts of thousands
of Zimbabweans with his music.
However, his music has also led him into trouble. Madzore was once
imprisoned for six months when his music was deemed to be an attack on the
person of President Robert Mugabe.
CZI Chief Executive Officer Kumbirai Katsande acknowledged that there is
tension in the workplace around the issue of wages and salaries, but said
Zimbabwean businesses face many challenges including erratic electric power
Patience Rusere | Washington 05 May 2010
The head of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries said Wednesday that
while the economy has mended since the unity government was formed in 2009,
neither companies nor government can afford to increase pay.
CZI Chief Executive Officer Kumbirai Katsande acknowledged that there is
tension in the workplace around the issue of wages and salaries, but said
Zimbabwean businesses face many challenges including erratic electric power
supplies which are hurting production, revenues and profitability.
Civil servants are demanding a base wage of US$600 while the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions has given employers until July of this year to pay
salaries no lower than the poverty line of US$500.
The ZCTU has also called for a consumer price freeze if wages are to remain
Katsande told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that workers must accept
that the economy is not stable enough to meet their demands considering the
dismal condition of the economy just over one year ago.
Paul Themba Nyathi, a former fighter with the Zimbabwe People's
Revolutionary Army, said the fact that the government invited the North
Koreans suggests some politicians are not committed to healing and
Gibbs Dube | Washington 05 May 2010
A former Zimbabwean freedom fighter said Wednesday that civic organizations
should press the Harare government to shelve a proposal to invite North
Korea's soccer team to train in Zimbabwe during the 2010 World Cup period.
Paul Themba Nyathi, a former fighter with the Zimbabwe People's
Revolutionary Army or ZIPRA, the armed wing of the late Vice President
Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union, said the fact that the
government's World Cup committee invited the North Koreans suggests some
politicians are not committed to healing and reconciliation. He said the
presence of the North Korean team would revive hurtful memories of 1980s
suffering in the so-called Gukurahundi conflict in Matabeleland pitting
rival liberation parties, in which many civilians died.
Nyathi, a member of the national executive committee of the Movement for
Democratic Change formation led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara,
told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that civic groups should organize to
reverse the invitation extended to the North Korean team. "I expect all
people to pull together to ensure that the North Koreans will be barred from
training in Zimbabwe," Nyathi declared.
Zimbabwe's unity government Cabinet is expected to discuss the North Korean
visit next Tuesday after failing to meet this week because President Robert
Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara
were in Tanzania attending the World Economic Forum and an African
By Sanderson N Makombe
Is Christianity the most practised religion in Zimbabwe? If so, does that
make Zimbabwe a Christian nation? Should Zimbabwe be declared a Christian
nation in the new constitution or should any other religion be adopted as a
The impetus to contribute on this topic came when i was going through the
Kariba draft constitution. So far it is the only constitutional document
that has a clause asserting a religious belief. Both the NCA and the
Chidyausiku draft constitutions have no clauses linking the state to a
particular religion directly or indirectly. The preamble to the Kariba draft
opens by stating ‘We acknowledge the supremacy of the Lord’. Inevitably such
a constitutional provision is bound to raise controversy and is subject to
different legal and theological interpretations and implications. In this
discussion the word Lord is applied as referring to the Christian God.
The current Zimbabwean constitution does not proclaim ‘the supremacy of the
lord’ anywhere; neither does it attempt to link a particular religion to the
state of Zimbabwe. Reference to God is found only in the Oath of loyalty
with the words ‘So help me God’. The oath is taken by senior public
officials when taking office and is only an oath of allegiance. It is not
compulsory to pronounce ‘So help me God’ as it is only taken in affirmation.
However aspects of the Christian religion are evident in the sphere of
Zimbabwean public life. In our courts of law before giving evidence
witnesses are required to swear by the Bible the truthness of their account.
Prominent Christian festivals, Easter and Christmas, are public holidays in
Zimbabwe, even though the holidays are better known for social pleasure than
the celebration of a religious event .In most schools Bible Knowledge has
been a common subject nationwide but its importance has been greatly
reduced, with some schools actually scrapping it. On most funeral occasions
church leaders preside over the burial of the deceased, just as most do on
weddings and marriages .Archbishop Chakaipa presided over President Mugabe’s
first inaugural as Prime Minister in 1980 as well as over his wedding to
Grace Marufu in 1997.However the absence of official prayers and other
religious procedures and leadership at any official government function or
meetings points to the fact that religion is not integral to the function of
Historical facts point to the fact that before the arrival of the
colonialists, present day Zimbabwe practised some form of traditional
worshipping, with emphasis on spirit mediums. Christianity was brought about
by early missionaries. There is not much written about the role played by
main wing Christian establishments during Zimbabwe’s struggle for
indepedence.In contrast, reference is made of the role of spirit mediums,
notably Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, and roles played by traditional
chiefs like Chief Rekai Tangwena.This does not mean though that religious
leaders did not offer any form of support leading to the birth of
Zimbabwe.Abel Muzorewa,Rev Ndabaningi Sithole were appointed to lead the
struggle when nationalist leaders were incarcarated.Mugabe himself benefited
through the works of Fathers Dieter Scholz,Emmanuel Ribero and Sister Mary
Acquina who were sympathetic to the nationalist causes. They would
eventually also help him to hide and later cross into Mozambique.
Answering the first question in my introduction, it could be very true that
Christianity is the dominant religion in Zimbabwe. That fact however does
not in itself qualify Zimbabwe as a Christian nation. Neither does the
inclusion of the proclamation of the supremacy of the Lord in the Kariba
draft. To have a nation founded in a particular religion means that
particular religion is the primary and probably the sole basis upon which a
national government exists and is structured. It also recognises that there
is a higher law than man made law and that law is God’s law, or Biblical
Law, which is recognised as supreme in that republic. Christianity becomes
the life and soul of the nation, its practise and its existence. To be a
Christian is not just by declaration, it is also by deeds. 2 Chronicles 7;14
says ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, pray
and seek my face and turn way from their wicked ways, I will forgive their
sin and heal their land’. There is a reward promised by God for a nation
that identifies itself with him. Psalm 33; 12 states ‘Blessed is a nation
whose God is the Lord’. It is evidently clear that it is not the
constitutional provision that makes a nation Christian, neither the
empirical numbers of a practising Christianity.
A nation where a majority statistically are Christians and are in power
seeking to emblemish Christian beliefs with government policy can aptly be
described as a Christian democracy. However this description does not
describe its form of government. Alternative to Christian democracy could be
establishment of a theocracy, that is, a nation headed by GOD. It is
evidenced that a theocracy is more likely to be autocratic than democratic.
Probably the nearest of the existence of such a form cite ancient Israel as
the epitome of a theocracy. There is biblical evidence that Israel as a
nation was created by God and he excised civil rule over it through his
anointed prophets Exodus 24.8. God had a contract with Israel and Psalm 105
vs. 8-10 states ‘he remembers his covenant forever.......the covenant God
made with Abraham and his oath to Isaac and confirmed to Jacob for a
statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant.’ Luke 1; vs. 31-33 makes it
clear that only Jesus has the present right to rule as king of Israel as its
national civil head concluding ‘he will reign over the house of Jacob
forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end’.
There were times that the people of Israel actually rebelled against God’s
rule over them and God was well aware of that. In Samuel 8; 7 it is written
‘and the Lord said to Samuel ‘heed the voices of the people in all they say
to you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I
should not reign over them’. In a theocracy like ancient Israel the nation
had a legally prescribed religious faith and its civil law prescribed what
people must believe about God.In a theocracy, civil punishments are meted
out for religious offences, and the national welfare is founded on the
maintenance and preservation, or avoidance of a particular faith. Civil
privileges are accorded to those who profess the specific religion. No
wonder in Zambia just after its proclamation a minister banned non
Christians from appearing on national television.
The covenant that Israel has by God is not evident in any other society
today and no nation can claim that God rules over its national affairs as
its personal civil head of state like in ancient Israel before the monarch.
The nearest we have currently to a theocracy is the Islamic State of Iran.
Iran might seem a secular democracy but is not. Power does not reside in the
elected officials of the government. The Guardian Council appointed by the
Ayatollahs are the supreme leaders. The Council can overturn any law it
deems contrary to Islamic laws and tradition. The president is not the most
powerful person in Iran; it is the Grand Ayatollah, who remains in charge of
the military and the works of the Council. The legal structure actually
requires leadership of the government to be muslim.Al Quran and associated
Muslim traditions play the role of constitution for the state-the final
authority on what is permitted or forbidden. Thus religion is at the
cornerstone of the establishments’ life and soul. Civil liberties like
sexual preferences, freedom of speech, expression, media, are all
interpreted in strict adherence to Islamic law and that law is supreme.
In June 2007 Barack Obama said of the USA ‘Whatever we once were, we’re no
longer a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a
Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of
non believers’. Suffice to say, the USA constitution is secular. There is no
mention of God or Christianity. Even the Presidential oath does not contain
the phrase So Help Me God. However facets of the Christian faith are very
evident in the founding of the USA.Sunday is still observed as a Christian
Sabbath, the Ten Commandments are still on the wall behind the Supreme Court
Justices when they take the bench and the USA coins still proclaim the motto
In God We Trust. Of greater significance is the declaration by President
Eisenhower that ‘Without God there could be no American form of government,
nor an American way of life. Recognition of the supreme being is the first,
the most basic expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of
America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be’.
Independent of an express declaration, does that make the USA a Christian
nation? Probably not.
In Zambia on 29 December 1991 Frederick Chiluba officially declared the
country a Christian nation at State House. The constitution was duly amended
in May 1996 declaring the republic a Christian nation, at the same time
upholding the right of every citizen to enjoy freedom of conscience or
religion. The same president was later arraigned before the courts for
embezzlement of government coffers. The extend of his lavishness was aptly
evidenced by his contract with a supplier to furnish him with personalised
footware.Nothing he ever did exemplified Christian beliefs of self
sacrifice, honesty, truthfulness and integrity.
The legal significance of declaring a nation a Christian nation are vast.
One of the dilemna faced is what happens when a non Christian is elected as
president? Or does that imply practising Christianity is a requisite for
running for office? A president is elected to uphold the constitution, that
very constitution which could potentially be discriminatory against his
faith or lack of. The interplay of religious teachings and criminal law can
be very controversial in an established theocracy. Not every sin is a crime
in the ordinary sense. Man made law generally prescribe what is a criminal
conduct whereas the bible would prescribe what is a sin .Thus consensual sex
by adults outside marriage is not a criminal offence but the same act is a
sin according to the bible [fornication].In a society based on theocracy the
act will be both a sin and a crime. At the same time homosexuality is a sin
according to the bible and would therefore be outlawed in a theocracy. At
present homosexuality is not a crime in Zimbabwe though the practise of
sodomy is. In a Christian theocracy that act will be outlawed. Blasphemy or
any insult towards the state religion will in most cases be a crime, so are
a host of other forbidden acts in the holy book. There will be a close
relation between morality issues as prescribed by the religion and enforced
by law as can be seen in the development of English common law, an aspect
likely to cause discomfort in a democracy.
Another problem is how to accommodate a state religion with anti
discrimination provisions in the Bill of Rights. Most human rights
instruments contain the requirement that no one should be discriminated on
the grounds of sex, race, tribe, colour and religion. The current Zimbabwean
constitution has this on Section 23.No doubt then that an express provision
for a particular faith could be interpreted as discriminatory.
What is the essence of proclaiming God’s supremacy without actually
intending to establish a state religion? Sceptics will also point out that
the parties to the Kariba draft are not founded on Christian principles
which makes the inclusion of the clause astonishing. If ‘Lord’ in that sense
mean the Christian God, is that proclamation not discriminatory to other
faiths? It is a fact that Zimbabwe is a multi faith society and there is a
large populace of those who do not practise any religion at all. Cynics will
always argue that there is nothing more fatal in the world than religion and
politics mixed together. Therefore to accommodate both in a constitutional
clause is actually prescribing chaos and can actually breed fundamentalism.
There are those who hold the opinion that state and religion should always
be separated. They argue religious leaders should remain impartial and
apolitical for them to retain the respect of the nation. A pro active faith
can be an effective voice of the oppressed and provide checks and balances
on executive excesses. The danger lies when religious leaders of a
particular state religion fail to stand on high moral ground because of the
fear of upsetting their political friends, thereby diminishing their role
Ethiopia seems to have realised this fact despite its rich historical
connections to both Muslim and Christian faith. Its constitution provides
for the separation of religion and politics by article 11 which provides:
1. State and religion are separate.
2. There shall be no state religion.
3. The State shall not interfere in religious affairs and religion shall not
interfere in state affairs.
Australia’s federal constitution on Section 116 provides ‘ The commonwealth
shall not make any laws for establishing any religion, or for imposing any
religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion,
and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or
public trust under commonwealth. This provision heavily borrows from the USA
constitution 1st amendment Sec 116 which states ‘Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise off’.
This provision has been interpreted by the US Supreme Court to require
separation of church from state.
It is proposed here that similar provisions be adopted to clearly separate
the state from the church expressly in the constitution and remain secular
as it is now.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by The Zimbabwean
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 07:09
'What a wretched state of affairs when one becomes suspicious of everyone
and everything connected with Zimbabwe.' I have just received this lament
from a friend in the UK who is trying his utmost to help a small group of
people in Harare to market their produce. He finds himself all the time
pushing on closed doors.
It is not just the communications; it is the regulations and the fact that
at every stage of the way people seem to be intent on finding some reason
for blocking progress rather than facilitating it. They spend time poring
over documents to see if they can find something, anything, which would
allow them to say 'no'; something that would be an expression of their
power. Where did all this come from? How did this futility arise?
It is true, when you go to other countries you find people willing to help,
looking for ways to solve problems, opening the channels. That is the way to
make things move and in the process create wealth for the individual and for
the country. But here we are with a collapsed economy - blocking anyone who
tries to show initiative. There is a malaise, a paralysis, where people seem
to positively choose to prevent progress.
So where does it come from? Is it jealousy? You look as though you are going
to succeed and get ahead of me so I am going to use my power to pull you
down. I have often heard of this spirit.
Someone plants more maize or increases their number of cattle or starts a
business. We don't like it and try to harm the enterprising person. Or is it
a spirit of parasitism by which we hang on to those who are going ahead in
the hopes that we too will gain something.
But when a drowning person hangs on to another he or she drags the other
down and they both sink. Or is it a spirit of 'self-destruct'? This country
is so disappointing that I no longer care and just enjoy making life hard
for others. It is like the horrific account of someone who is HIV positive
and says: I don't care any more and goes around infecting others.
Whatever it is it is blocking the efforts of those who want to 'do something'
with their lives and do something for the country. We have created an
environment hostile to enterprise - unless you are a big person with money
and connections. Then you can push your way forward. But most people simply
want to make a decent living, feed their families and send their children to
As things are, it requires colossal sustained efforts to do this, even
though it should be a relatively manageable thing to do in a country blessed
with a wide variety of resources and with people who are creative and
energetic. We are like people in a prison dreaming of freedom. And every
time we try to escape we are pushed backed behind locked doors.