|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Zimbabwe this Week.
It seems quite clear now that Zanu PF is disintegrating – I do not think there will much left of the former colossus by the time we get to the presidential elections in March 2002. Mugabe himself looked very wan and old this week and their performance on May Day was dismal. With Border Gezi gone, the new Zanu leadership has lost a key player – virtually the only one who could get a crowd swinging. He was a man of great energy and complete commitment to the Zanu cause.
In many respects Border Gezi was desperate to get his master back into office next year to prolong the life of the gravy train on which he was conductor – great jump up from being a simple linesman up an electricity pole in all weathers. He also epitomized Zanu leadership – ruthless in the pursuit of power (his election campaign in Bindura was one of the most violent); free with our money (he has been going around giving away millions of taxpayers money to Zanu members in key political areas without any regard to monitoring what they do with the money or if it will ever be repaid); and he has been faithfully singing the songs written by his master voice – Jonathan Moyo.
In doing this he paid no cognisance to the growing crisis in the country, studiously ignored the aching poverty in the towns and cities, the signs of decay everywhere and the evidence of an economic collapse. If he understood the full implications of what he was doing, he showed little evidence of such an understanding.
Our economy is on its last legs, there are widespread shortages, but most serious of all, many are losing any hope that things might get better. All across the country, key people with skills and knowledge are looking for new pastures, thinking about voting with their feet as people have done through all of history when faced with tyranny. The sad thing about this is that it is the very poor, the poorly educated and illiterate who cannot move who will suffer most from this exodus. It is on these people that Mugabe relies to try and win a 5th term of office at the age of 78. The reality is that he cannot offer them anything now except slogans, platitudes and handouts. He will be even less able to offer them anything next year when we run out of food and the formal sector descends into a pit from which it will be a mammoth task to get it out. Recovery will take years, like Mozambique, Angola, the Congo and many other states in Africa today. The tragedy is that it is all a question of leadership and choices.
On Saturday we had two pieces of god news – Nkosana Moyo resigned and called for a government of national unity to tackle the problems of the country and Chiluba decided not to run for a third term. I was particularly pleased with Moyo’s decision, he is a fine man and very capable, his decision to go into government was on the basis that he might be able to influence events. He was wrong in that judgement but you cannot fault him for trying. As for Chiluba, it might be that he decided to do the right thing after it became apparent that if he could not command a majority in his own party on the issue, he could not carry the country. He has done quite a good job in Zambia, but they need change – just like Zimbabwe.
Both of these decisions were good for Africa – a Minister deciding to pull out of a regime that was doing all the wrong things and a State President deciding to quit as required by the constitution of his country. Perhaps we are growing up – slowly, but it is happening. What we need now is a peaceful, democratic transition in Zimbabwe. Incidentally it says something that Nkosana sent his family out of the country before he resigned and he is also off to the USA as soon as is possible.
Morgan goes to court on Monday charged with "treason" under the Law and Order Maintenance Act. This notorious Act was passed many years ago by the previous white government to suppress political opposition and curb the growth of black political parties. It was used to suppress dissent and to remove leaders from the civil rights movements of the day. It is really strange to see this same Act being used to achieve the same ends 21 years after the victims of the Act came to power. How can Mugabe sleep at night?
Morgan could go to jail for life – but we do not think that the Courts will consider what he did as "treason". If the High Court finds him guilty – it will go on appeal to the Supreme Court who will certainly throw it out. I was there when Morgan made the statement on which he is being charged and can remember it well – what he said was that Mugabe must go, if he does not go peacefully, the people will throw him out with violence. The MDC is clearly a democratic movement – if we were not then we would have taken to the streets and to hang with the consequences. Morgan said to us once in an Executive meeting, "if one person is killed as a result of a decision in this body, I could not sleep at night."
This week also saw the start of the Zanu PF campaign to regain support in the cities – the Zanu thugs were unleashed against business and civil organisations in several cities. The diplomatic and NGO community were threatened and in one or two cases, attacked. They also tried to take over the May Day celebrations and this was a dismal failure. What they will do next is anyone’s guess.
As for the MDC we are getting on with the task of developing a complete spread of policies for a new administration. The Economic Recovery Programme is well on the way – the early indications are for a three-year recovery phase followed by rapid growth and low inflation. The programme for Agrarian Reform is also under way – this looks very exciting and will transform the rural economy in a way that will lead Africa. The Education and Health Policies are well advanced and will improve the lives of all Zimbabweans and give our children an equal start in life with real opportunities for the future.
Morgan is out campaigning – and this is yielding very encouraging results. In Beitbridge last weekend he held rallies in two centres – both well attended and the staff in a business I run in Beitbridge is still talking about the meetings and the speeches. We are not attacking Zanu PF – simply saying that Mugabe has no answers to the problems of the country anymore and then spelling out what we stand for in terms of policy. We are accepting and welcoming all to the rallies and even allowing the Zanu stalwarts to speak – we want people to know that we respect their right to differ from us politically. The people are responding to this approach and we hear of a positive response also from the security services.
I started this weekly review on the 25th March 2000. It gets into the hands of the security people here on a regular basis and I have been advised to stop sending it out. I know that many of you will miss this weekly update but we have to be clever and prudent in what we do and how we do it. I am going to see if I can get another, less engaged, individual to continue with this and if you get a weekly update next week it will be from this new source. However, if you have any queries on anything – please drop me a line and I will respond.
6th May 2001.
Please note that this note is personal and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Movement for Democratic Change.
|War veterans attack envoy|
5/7/01 7:54:47 AM (GMT +2)
JAMES Wall, the Canadian
High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, was assaulted by rowdy war veterans when he tried
to stop the abduction of Dennis O’Brien, the Canadian director of an aid agency
CARE International, from his Harare office.
Wall said he was pushed,
shoved and ordered to clear the way for the veterans to deal with O’Brien over a
labour dispute with one of the non-governmental organisation’s former workers.
O’Brien has since protested to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the assault.
Another complaint was also lodged with the police.
“They didn’t listen to me, they pushed me aside and forced O’Brien into a pick-up truck and drove to the Zanu PF provincial office,” said Wall. “I followed the truck and on arrival I tried to follow O’Brien into an office but I was physically stopped.”
Wall’s protest followed a similar one from the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer who has written to the government, highlighting the raids on the offices of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the theft of food aid owned by a charity, HELP, and threats to a German flower company.
“These events may negatively impact on the good and friendly relations existing between Germany and Zimbabwe,” he said.
Wall said he rushed to the CARE offices after a distress call from workers who told him that two veterans were about to abduct O’Brien.
On arrival, he said, he advised the war veterans that it was wrong to force a Canadian to the Zanu PF office.
They pushed him aside, bundled O’Brien into a truck and drove off to the Zanu PF office. He was held there for about two hours.
Contacted for comment, Joseph Chinotimba, chairman of war veterans in the Harare province, said it was unfortunate that Wall was assaulted. He said the veterans failed to appreciate who they were dealing with.
“Baboons are the same,” said Chinotimba, speaking in Shona. “If you see them destroying your maize field you just beat them up indiscriminately. Not that I support what they did, that was bad because it reduces the dignity of the High Commissioner.”
CARE is one of the largest aid agencies in Zimbabwe, with a mostly Zimbabwean staff of about 120 working on poverty alleviation, health, nutrition and emergency relief programmes.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Boyland, the managing director of the Avenues Clinic in Harare, together with his family, have gone into hiding because of excessive demands from war veterans.
Boyland said the clinic has already paid out $6,3 million.
“The war veterans came to us in April together with some ex-workers,” said Boyland.
“We negotiated with them and signed an agreement in the presence of an official from the President’s Office that we were paying the workers. They came back last Wednesday and demanded that the 30 ex-workers be reinstated and be paid their bonuses for the past six years. We said enough was enough. We were not going to do that.”
Boyland, 48, said on Friday he received a telephone call ordering him to report to the Zanu PF headquarters by 4.30pm.
Yesterday, Boyland said he was still considering going to work today because he feared for his safety.
Chinotimba said the labour dispute at the clinic was to be resolved today.
Boyland of Brighton, Britain, came to Zimbabwe last year to take over the running of the clinic.
|Police officer refuses to board Zanu PF gravy train|
5/7/01 9:05:38 AM (GMT +2)
THE Zanu PF train is
ignoring speed limits as it sways dangerously towards the high-stakes
presidential election next year, carrying frightened and dazed passengers with
no guts to tell the driver to apply the brakes on the steep descend.
Among the passengers are
partisan civil servants in the police, defence forces and the intelligence
service who feign they are enjoying the ride lest they antagonise the train
Cheering from the railway siding is the captive stooge-audience led by praise-chanting Zanu PF women’s league members resplendent in their President Mugabe-portrait attires.
Passengers on the hurtling train include Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, who has openly declared that he is a card-carrying member of Zanu PF.
The passengers, ensconced on the dusty seats of the aged and squeaking Zanu PF train, include a host of civil servants who have swopped their “standard class” seats of professionalism and booked “first class” tickets to the feeding trough of corruption.
But, as the chorus of praise-singers reaches fever pitch ahead of the presidential ballot, one man decides to disembark from the train.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Emmanuel Chimwanda, the former officer commanding Masvingo province, has refused to compromise his professionalism by opting out.
He resigned a fortnight ago because, he said, he could not risk his professional integrity by remaining in the now partisan police force.
Chimwanda's resignation came barely a month after he and Solomon Ncube, the officer-commanding CID Fraud, were transferred to Police General Headquarters to an obscure desk called the Commissioner’s Pool.
Their crime: they had done their job professionally and in a non-partisan way, at a time when police officers are expected to pander to Zanu PF’s whims in the wake of increasing political violence.
The Commissioner’s Pool does not exist in the police handbooks.
Sources say it was specially created as a frustration desk for policemen accused of not toeing the party line.
Ncube submitted his letter of retirement soon after he was transferred to the Commissioner’s Pool.
He will now retire at the end of June after 26 years in the force Ncube was unwilling to disclose his reasons for quitting the force.
“I wouldn’t want to discuss that,” he said.
Under Ncube, the fraud squad last year arrested a number of high-profile senior Zanu PF officials and ministers, including Kumbirai Kangai, the former Minister of Lands and Agriculture and a Zanu PF stalwart, Tobias Takavarasha, the former permanent secretary in the ministry, and Solomon Tawengwa, a top Zanu PF official and former Mayor of Harare.
“I totally refused to swim in that pool,” Chimwanda told The Daily News. “I handed back their uniforms and their tools.
“I am at home.”
Chimwanda fell out of favour with the authorities when a Zanu PF member died in Budiriro in the run-up to the parliamentary election last year.
Party zealots had politicised the death, alleging that he was killed by MDC supporters.
But Chimwanda, the then officer-commanding Harare province, said police had established that the deceased was actually a victim of a hit-and-run accident.
Chimwanda also stepped on the toes of party zealots when he sanctioned the destruction of illegal structures built by war veterans in Warren Park and Kambuzuma.
He was subsequently transferred to Masvingo where he was in charge of law and order in the period leading up to the Bikita West by-election in January.
In Bikita, he angered party stalwarts in and out of the police force by arresting both Zanu PF and MDC supporters for public violence in the run-up to the by-election.
Chimwanda was supposed to know, so the logic goes, that Zanu PF supporters were sacred cows exempted from the laws of the land. War veterans' leader, Chenjerai Hunzvi, publicly chastised Chimwanda for his alleged bias against Zanu PF.
Chimwanda later told journalists that he was a professional and would not be bullied by politicians.
Last week, the former senior police officer told this newspaper: “I felt they should have their job and I keep my professionalism. I felt like a heavy load had been removed from my head. It is heavy to work unprofessionally.”
Chimwanda’s principled stance can only be described as bold as it comes against the backdrop of alleged harassment of opposition supporters by the police, especially in volatile constituencies such as Chitungwiza, Mabvuku, etc.
Testimonies abound in the suburbs in Harare that policemen have suddenly become notorious for their unbridled support of Zanu PF, with the riot squad being unleashed at the slightest opportunity to deal with voices of dissent, real or imagined.
As the drama unfolds towards the presidential election, it remains to be seen how many civil servants will take a cue from Chimwanda and disembark from the squeaking Zanu PF train.
The above by-elections are due to take place in MATABELELAND SOUTH
THE POLLING DATES ARE SATURDAY 26TH JUNE AND SUNDAY 27TH JUNE 2001
There are 7 contested seats.
It is important that MDC gains a foothold in all District Councils whenever they are contested
|Tsvangirai denies terrorism charges|
5/7/01 7:58:00 AM (GMT +2)
Morgan Tsvangirai, the
MDC leader has rejected charges of state terrorism, saying they were politically
inspired to ensure he did not challenge President Mugabe in the presidential
election next year.
He appears in the High
Court today charged with committing acts of terrorism and sabotage under the
notorious Law and Order Maintenance Act.
The trial will determine if Tsvangirai will be able to oppose the ageing Mugabe, 77, who is seeking another six-year term in a presidential poll early next year.
Tsvangirai faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if found guilty under the Act used by the Rhodesian government to harass and jail several senior Zanu PF officials before independence.
If convicted and sentenced to more than six months in jail, Tsvangirai would be barred automatically from running for the presidency.
“By fraud they would like to prevent me from contesting and for being the main competitor and main challenger to Mugabe. They realise I have built a credible base in the country and he stands no chance in a free and fair poll,” Tsvangirai told reporters.
“I don’t believe that I was engaged in any sabotage or unpatriotic actions,” he said.
Even if he lost the High Court case, Tsvangirai said he would appeal to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the Constitution defended his rights of freedom of expression.
If he was not eligible to run for the poll, the MDC would choose another candidate rather than boycott the presidential poll, he said.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe and Zanu PF were committed to a “scorched earth” policy to hold onto power at any cost.
A Mugabe election victory would have devastating consequences for Zimbabwe’s democracy and its international image, Tsvangirai said.
“Then we will be written-off as a country. It will put the final nail in any chance to have democratic advance in the country. He has overstayed his welcome.
“Mugabe is emphasising racial polarisation which I thought we had moved away from when he declared national reconciliation after attaining independence in 1980. He now wants to revive that again.
“We have now been turned from a very credible African state, from a bread basket to a basket case. It confirms Afro-pessimism that no African country can do anything correct,” he said.
|Moyo’s resignation has serious implications|
5/7/01 9:47:40 AM (GMT +2)
IF President Mugabe
refuses to put an end to the lawlessness sweeping across the country, after the
resignation of Nkosana Moyo, then Zimbabweans must brace for more international
isolation and a steep decline in their living standards.
They can look forward to
more Joseph Chinotimba-inspired raids on companies and the closure of more such
companies, bled into bankruptcy by the demands of workers blinded by the
short-term gains of “golden packages”.
Moyo’s resignation last week as Minister of Commerce and International Trade is bound to have serious repercussions on the future of Zimbabwe’s economic and political relations with the outside world.
Here was a well-respected international banker with a reputation for a hard-nosed attitude towards the rewards of a tough, no-nonsense fiscal policy.
He accepted a job in Mugabe’s new cabinet after the historic 2000 election in the full knowledge that he was not a Zanu PF “player”, that he could, for all practical purposes, be a square peg in a round hole.
The private sector applauded his and Simba Makoni’s appointments to the new cabinet in the hope, which turns out to have been a forlorn, that they would bring a much-needed realism to the nitty-gritty details of running an economy rendered rickety by a government obsessed with cronyism and wild public expenditure.
Only if the President could give them the political clout to perform the urgent surgery so necessary to heal the running economic sores of the country would they have an effect.
He and Simba Makoni, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, were expected to be given free rein by Mugabe so that they could guide the economic fortunes of this country away from the stultifying straitjacket of wild public expenditure on stupid wars in foreign lands and grandiose white elephants.
How they could perform this miracle in the midst of the unprecedented lawlessness unleashed by the so-called war veterans soon became their challenge.
Makoni, with his background as a Zanu PF cadre, was probably better able to acclimatise to the quirky politics of that party than Moyo, who constantly sniped at The Establishment for not putting in place the conditions necessary for a wholesale assault on the enemies of economic reform ‹ among them a strict adherence to the rule of law.
Makoni is unlikely to copy Moyo’s drastic step to register his disenchantment with his job. He cannot possibly believe, as his recent public statements have suggested, that Zimbabwe has turned the corner to economic recovery.
His signing last week of an agreement on investment with the French government is hardly a signal to the rest of the European Union that
Zimbabwe can be accepted back into the international arena as an equal trading partner, as committed to the rule of law as they all are.
President Mugabe must surely realise that even if Moyo’s resignation does not result in a virtual haemorrhage of his cabinet, it must give the other members a cause to pause and ponder their future. They are on a runaway train heading for a dead-end.
The driver made a wrong turn and is now helpless as the monster speeds towards its disastrous crash with destiny.
The lawlessness which Mugabe has allowed to sweep through the country has only one objective: to prepare the ground for his victory in the presidential election next year. Once Zanu PF decided that only Mugabe could provide them with a realistic chance of winning the election, they pulled out all the stops in a campaign whose lynchpin is the violence by the so-called war veterans.
These people are going to destroy this country. Mugabe may win the election but what will remain will not be the Zimbabwe for which thousands died for.
It will be a ramshackle regime steeped in violence, run like the worst
The country must return to the rule of law urgently. The re-election of one man cannot justify the dashing of all the hopes the people of this country placed in their future at independence.
President Mugabe should show the same statesmanship as Frederick Chiluba of Zambia did over his foolish attempt to run for a third term as president.
At the last minute, Chiluba decided he would end his presidency legally.
Obviously, it took the little man a lot of courage to accept this virtual surrender to the forces within his own Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and the people of Zambia in general - all set against his third term aberration.
It is time for Mugabe too to bite the bullet.
|Moyo wants nation to know why he resigned|
5/7/01 8:29:17 AM (GMT +2)
NKOSANA Moyo wants
President Mugabe to tell the nation why he resigned as the Minister of Industry
and International Trade last week.
Yesterday, Moyo told The
Daily News from South Africa he would ask the President today to make public the
contents of his resignation letter.
“I will ask if he has any problem with making the contents public,” said Moyo.
“I wrote him a personal letter in which I went into detail on the issues of concern to me. In that letter, I was making proposals on the issues that needed to be tackled.
“I respect the fact that I wrote a letter to an individual and the release of the contents of that letter is dependent on that individual, who is the President. If the President is happy about it then he will ask Jonathan Moyo to make it available to the nation through the Press.”
Jonathan Moyo is the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the President’s Office.
What if Mugabe decided to keep the letter under lock and key? Moyo was asked.
“I am not anticipating that. I don’t want to anticipate but let’s be more positive. I think he is the one who should decide what he wants to do with the letter because it is a personal letter,” Moyo said.
He said his working relationship with Mugabe was good and he would not want to antagonise him because he still wanted to be able to talk to him, listen to him and contribute to the development of Zimbabwe.
Speculation is rife Moyo resigned in protest against rampant lawlessness which he had publicly denounced.
He deplored hate-mongering and confrontation, saying the two maladies had destroyed the country.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, praised Moyo for his “principled move” in resigning.
Tsvangirai said: “He has done the right thing . . . I hope people in the government who still have some integrity and credibility, will follow his example.”
From The Times (UK), 7 May
Mugabe's opponent on trial for treason
Harare - The treason trial of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition MDC, begins today as President Mugabe tries to block his most formidable opponent from standing against him in presidential elections expected next year. The State is to bring charges of terrorism and sabotage against Mr Tsvangirai under the Law and Order Maintenance Act, which was passed in the 1960s by the former Rhodesian Government to stifle black opposition to white rule. The offence carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Lawyers said that it was more likely that the Government hoped that he would be sentenced to at least six months in jail, which would prevent him from standing as a candidate.
Mr Tsvangirai’s alleged crime is that last September he told 20,000 supporters at a rally in Harare: "We say to Robert Mugabe, if you don’t want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently." Almost immediately he retracted his statement. It took the Government five months to decide to bring charges against him. The offence is so serious, lawyers said, that people charged are usually held in custody before and during their trial. Mr Tsvangirai has been asked once to come to the police station to make a statement and has been unhindered over the affair since then. "It’s very difficult to believe they are serious with this," a senior human rights lawyer said. "You’ve got to prove a full-scale plot for charges to stick. All they have is a single statement, which was withdrawn within an hour."
However the 48-year-old former trade union leader holds out the prospect of defeat for the 77-year-old dictator in the presidential elections. In parliamentary elections last year, Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF party managed to win a narrow majority in the 120 elected constituencies in the first real challenge after 20 years of de facto one-party rule. The ruling party secured a comfortable majority by virtue of constitutional provisions for Mr Mugabe to choose another 30 seats. In the total number of votes cast, the MDC and Zanu PF were separated by a few thousand. Zimbabwe’s presidential elections are won only on votes cast and Mr Mugabe will have no help from the Constitution.
"He stands no chance in a free and fair poll," Mr Tsvangirai said yesterday. "They realise I have built a credible base in the country. By fraud they want to prevent me from contesting and from being the main challenge to Mugabe." Gibson Sibanda, the MDC’s vice-president, and another MP are facing the same charges as Mr Tsvangirai, also over "subversive" statements uttered at political rallies. Mr Tsvangirai said that the charges were "a clear case of the law being applied selectively". The leaders of Mr Mugabe’s mobs of so-called guerrilla war veterans and ruling party MPs regularly threaten to go back to war if Mr Mugabe loses elections.
The series of expected trials are regarded as only one piece of Mr Mugabe’s Machiavellian strategy to ensure that he wins next year’s presidential elections. Since shortly after last year’s elections, a comprehensive campaign of physical and institutional repression has unfolded to intimidate voters and to squash almost every source of support for Mr Tsvangirai. Zanu PF is trying to win back the strongly pro-MDC urban areas with a lawless campaign of invasions of mostly white-run factories and offices to force owners to pay workers exorbitant allowances.
On Friday CARE International, the aid agency, was raided by about 25 war veterans, who abducted the director, Dennis O’Neill, from his office and pushed past attempts by Jim Wall, the Canadian High Commissioner, to stop them. He was released unharmed the same day. Police took no action. Zimbabwe’s Minister of Industry and International Trade, who has publicly opposed the war veterans’ raids on businesses, has resigned and left for South Africa, reports said yesterday. Nkosana Moyo was said to feel unable to do his job while Zanu PF policies scared off investors.
From Business Day (SA) - "Should the court decide to postpone the hearing today, this too could see Tsvangirai out of the running, as a person charged under the law and order act may not participate in any political activities."
From News24 (SA), 6 May
Germany wants citizens protected
Harare - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has written to the Zimbabwean government to express concern over recent attacks on German nationals by Zimbabwean war veterans, state news agency Ziana said on Saturday. Fischer's letter highlighted recent raids by the veterans on the offices of German non-government organisations and firms and a threat by one of the veterans' leaders to target embassies in Harare that appeared to support the country's main opposition party. "I appeal to the government of Zimbabwe to ensure the safety of German nationals and institutions and the observance of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," Ziana reported the letter as saying. "These events may negatively impact on the good and friendly relations existing between Germany and Zimbabwe," Fischer said.
Gangs led by veterans who took part in the 1970s guerrilla war against white-ruled Rhodesia had occupied the offices of the educational Friedreich Ebert Foundation and pillaged food aid owned by German volunteer group HELP. Veterans, who have raided scores of businesses in the past month to demand sacked workers be reinstated, had also threatened a German flower producing company. Veterans raided the Harare offices of Dutch electronics firm Philips on Friday to demand 59 workers be reinstated, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported on Saturday.
Violence against businesses and aid groups, coupled with threats against diplomatic missions in Harare, prompted Britain and South Africa last month to summon Zimbabwe's ambassadors in London and Pretoria to urge President Robert Mugabe to uphold the rule of law. The veterans, who have the backing of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party, are apparently seeking to win support from urban workers ahead of presidential elections next year in which Mugabe will seek to extend his 21 years in power for a further six-year term. Veterans spearheaded the violent seizure of white-owned farms in the lead up to parliamentary elections last year which left 31 people, mostly opposition supporters, dead.
From The Independent (UK), 7 May
Trade minister walks out on 'divisive' Mugabe
Harare - One of President Robert Mugabe's most competent ministers, who has rejected the recent invasions of companies by self-styled "war veterans", resigned from Zimbabwe's cabinet at the weekend. Nkosana Moyo, a physicist-turned-banker, was one of three talented technocrats brought into government after elections last June, which Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF narrowly won in the face of stiff opposition from the MDC. But they have found, as the local saying goes, that there is only one bull in the kraal (cattle-pen) of the Zimbabwean government, and that sensible economic decisions fall prey to political choices aimed primarily at keeping Zanu-PF and Mr Mugabe in power.
As the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Mr Moyo was put in charge of attracting investment and helping to reverse the economic decline. At the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo, he hit out at company invasions by war veterans who support Zanu-PF. The invasions have destabilised businesses already battling to survive. A former senior state official said there was speculation that the Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, another technocrat, might quit.
Zimbabwe is in economic implosion, with joblessness at 60 per cent, interest rates at 70 per cent, and a GDP that is shrinking by 10 per cent a year. Some 400 companies that closed before Christmas have not reopened. The veterans have warned that embassies and non-governmental organisations also face invasion. Mr Moyo sent his family to South Africa, reportedly en route to Britain, before making the shock announcement. His departure strips Mr Mugabe, 77, of a confident minister who may have been able to help turn around the economy had he been given a chance and weakens further any credibility the government has left.
There has been speculation that another reason for Mr Moyo's resignation was that he had failed to persuade Zanu-PF to consider forming a government of national unity with the MDC. The former state official said. "He was keen for the parties to work together in the interests of all Zimbabwe, given the current crisis." Mr Moyo told a local newspaper yesterday: "My aim is to unite people. Zimbabwe needs unification and not division." But he refused to explain the reasons for his resignation.
Any chance of the parties uniting will be further eroded today when the MDC's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, appears in court in Harare charged with treason for warning last year that Mr Mugabe - who has been in power for 21 years -would be overthrown if he did not step down. If found guilty and jailed, the hot-blooded former trade union leader will be precluded from standing against Mr Mugabe in presidential elections that have to be held within the next 18 months. It would be disastrous for the MDC, which has been building a national profile for Mr Tsvangirai and has nobody ready to take his place.
Mr Tsvangirai told The Independent that his worries about the judiciary's independence had evaporated after recent MDC court victories. The party is challenging the results of the election in dozens of constituencies on the basis of fraud and intimidation. Last week, courts set aside results in two areas, including the Zanu-PF victory in Mr Tsvangirai's constituency. Mr Tsvangirai said: "[The judiciary] is not as compliant as government would wish it to be, although individuals on the bench might still succumb to political pressure." The case is being widely interpreted as a government bid to intimidate the MDC, erode its funds, and stop Mr Tsvangirai challenging Mr Mugabe. The opposition leader believes the action is unconstitutional. "My remark may have been undiplomatic but it is not illegal or criminal," he said.
From The American Prospect, 9 April
Herman Cohen's future prospects are rosy. After all, murder and mayhem are good for business. So, too, is a lack of conscience.
Somewhere in Africa, a dictator sits in his presidential palace, alone and forlorn. Just recently, he deployed troops to quell an opposition rally and a few unarmed civilians were killed. Nothing out of the ordinary, really; but this time the international press have descended on his capital. Foreign governments are calling for democratic reforms. And embarrassed international financial institutions, which have long subsidized the corrupt regime, are openly discussing a loan cutoff. As he ponders the gross unfairness of his current predicament, the dictator is momentarily despondent. Abruptly, though, a smile comes to his face. There is still plenty of money in his personal checking account - the state treasury - so all is not lost. Far from it. The dictator flips through his Rolodex and reaches for the telephone. Who's he gonna call?
In all likelihood, lobbyist Herman Cohen in Arlington, Virginia. In recent years, Cohen has emerged as the influence peddler of choice for African despots in need of a public relations buff-up. His access and client list are both sure to grow even more now that George W. Bush - under whose father Cohen served as assistant secretary of state for Africa - occupies the White House.
Lobbying for foreign governments almost always poses ethical dilemmas. Adwoa Dunn-Mouton, a former staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, worked as a lobbyist for several African governments after leaving Capitol Hill. She says that she tried to prod clients to take concrete steps toward democracy that would change international perceptions about their governments. "They didn't want to hear it," recalls Dunn-Mouton, who resigned after a brief career at the Washington Strategic Group, a Beltway lobbying firm. "The whole point of hiring a lobbyist was to have someone spin the situation so they wouldn't have to make real changes."
"Putting a happy face on murder and mayhem" is how Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, describes the role of lobbyists like Cohen who represent foreign dictators. "Most of the countries who hire them have virtually no money, but they need professional schmoozers to promote their regimes," he says. "They're paying for respectability and stature in Washington and, they hope, foreign aid and access to American markets."
Though a relative newcomer to the profession, Cohen has quickly become one of Washington's best-known lobbyists for foreign nations. A key to his success is the contacts he formed, at home and abroad, during a 38-year career in the State Department (where he served as ambassador to Senegal, then to Gambia, before he became assistant secretary of state for Africa). Cohen cultivated close relations with Mobutu Sese Seko of the former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). In 1992 Mobutu's power was eroding and there was a strong internal push for a transition to civilian rule. Pro-democracy forces hoped Cohen, who went to Zaire, would press the tyrant to step down. Instead, he appeared on government-run television and announced that the aging kleptocrat was "enthusiastic for democracy." In South Africa, Cohen and George H.W. Bush's administration lifted all sanctions on the apartheid regime in July 1991 - a step opposed by Nelson Mandela, who didn't become president of the country until three years later.
After checking out of government service, Cohen became head of the Global Coalition for Africa, a World Bank-affiliated organization that preaches orthodox pro-business recipes for the continent. In 1994 he and James Woods, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs under Ronald Reagan and George Bush the elder, formed the lobby shop of Cohen and Woods International (CWI). Cohen boasted to Legal Times about the wide range of contacts - from heads of state to Central Bank governors - that he and his partner enjoyed in Africa. "You can count on one hand the number of [top leaders] we don't know," he said. Randall Robinson, president of the TransAfrica Forum, asserts in Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America that Cohen failed to promote democracy while in office - something he could have done "with any competence and half a heart" - and that he seeks to collect "representation fees from the very African countries whose interests he formerly held in callous disregard."
In addition to offering clients strategic advice and chasing up foreign investment and aid, CWI staffers write speeches, arrange official visits to the United States, prepare briefing papers, testify before Congress, and spin the media. Disclosure reports reveal regular contact between firm employees and a host of Washington power centers - including the White House, the Pentagon, international lending agencies, and think tanks. CWI folks also serve as bigwig escorts: They may accompany, say, Mozambique's commercial attaché to a meeting with Edwin Barber of the Treasury Department's Office of African Nations; or they may introduce a top economic adviser of the Ivory Coast's president to Michael Newell, the country manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (to discuss "grant criteria").
Cohen has an especially easy time getting doors to open in the capital. During a four-month stretch in 1999, he attended a breakfast fundraiser for Representative Edward Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa; he lunched with Gayle Smith of the National Security Council; and he had dinner at his home with William Swing, U.S. ambassador to Congo. He's a regular on the Hill, where he meets with members of Congress and key aides. "His name carries a lot of weight, with Democrats and Republicans," says Charisse Glassman, a staffer for Democratic Representative Donald Payne of New Jersey, who also sits on the Africa subcommittee.
One of CWI's first big lobbying contracts came in 1995, when the firm agreed, in exchange for $300,000, to coordinate media relations for Omar Bongo, president of Gabon. The firm's stated mission was to present Gabon as a "politically stable and economically successful country" and to "generate awareness of President Bongo and his national and international accomplishments." Among those accomplishments was establishing the "very concrete process of democratization and democratic reforms." As the ink dried on the contract, the State Department released its annual report on human rights around the globe. This report found that Bongo's security forces were responsible for "many confirmed extra-judicial killings" and that government-sanctioned torture in Gabon was routine. ("Eyewitnesses reported seeing prisoners tied to chairs, doused with ice water, or made to crawl on their stomachs over gravel or sun-baked asphalt.")
As to "the very concrete process of democratization" that had supposedly taken place under Cohen's client - who has been in power since 1967 - the State Department said that the previous election in which Bongo allegedly won 51 percent of the vote was "marred by serious irregularities, including a secret vote count that excluded all but government observers. In Bongo's home region of Haut Ogoue, the number of votes cast for Bongo was greater than the population reported in the 1993 census." Bongo is not only a thug but a crook as well. It's impossible to know exactly how much money he has stolen from the national treasury, but a 1999 Senate report on money laundering indicates that he deposited $130 million with Citibank's private banking department. The report includes a memo that Citibank's Alain Ober, a private banking officer who handled the account, sent to several colleagues, which reads: "[I] never asked our client where his money came from. My guess ... is that in view of the importance of our client's country as a provider of cheap oil to France, it was (and still is) important that our client stayed in power and thus the French government/French oil companies (Elf) made 'donations' to him (very much like we give to PACs in the U.S.!)."
CWI's contract with Gabon lasted only a year, but there's been no shortage of business since. The firm's clients have included Tunisia, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and even Angola - despite the Bush administration's strong support for Jonas Savimbi, the guerrilla leader who has waged war on the country. Angola is stronger than Savimbi. Perhaps the most notorious CWI client was Charles Taylor of Liberia. He took power following a seven-year civil war that Kenneth Cain describes in a Human Rights Quarterly article as "a relentless campaign of sadistic, wanton violence unimaginable to those unfamiliar with the details of man's capacity to visit the abyss." According to Cain, Taylor "inaugurated the use of grade school-age children as scouts, spies, and cannon fodder [and] explicitly employed terror tactics, ethnic cleansing, and political assassinations."
Taylor brought this charming style of rule to the presidency, which he assumed in July of 1997. Four months later, security forces kidnapped prominent oppositionist Samuel Dokie, his wife, a niece, and a cousin as the family was travelling to a wedding. A week later, the four were found dead. All of them had been tortured; Dokie's eyes had been gouged out before he'd been burned and beheaded. In foreign policy, Taylor is chiefly known for his support of the Revolutionary United Front, a rebel group in neighboring Sierra Leone that routinely amputates the hands, legs, ears, and lips of anyone who opposes it. A contract signed in 1999 by the two parties provided that CWI would be paid $300,000 to assist Taylor in "overcoming obstacles to a constructive relationship" between Liberia and the U.S. government and otherwise help to ease the country's international isolation.
Targets of CWI's lobbying included government officials plus "the business community, the press, non-governmental organizations, and the academic world." A Capitol Hill staffer who asked not to be identified said that CWI adapted - understandably, under the circumstances - low-key approach on behalf of Liberia. "They never tried to say that Taylor was a good guy - they knew they couldn't get away with that," he says. "They'd talk about how cutting off Liberia would be counterproductive and would result in a lessening of U.S. influence." Despite its best efforts, CWI had only mixed results for Taylor. Bill Clinton's administration never imposed the broad sanctions sought by human rights groups, but it did shun the regime and bar all Liberian officials from entering the United States.
Among CWI's most recent clients - until he was murdered in January - was the president of Congo, Laurent-Desire Kabila, who drove Mobutu from power. He was paying the lobby shop $250,000 to build "a more constructive relationship" between Congo and the United States. Cohen was working on the project with Edward van Kloberg, who stands out, even within the amoral world of Washington lobbying, for handling accounts that few will touch. His clients have included Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, and Samuel Doe of Liberia. (Van Kloberg's exertions on behalf of the last two came to a sudden halt when they were murdered in office following years of brutal rule.)
One of Cohen's specific tasks for Congo - and for another client, Burkina Faso -is to water down legislation that would bar U.S. imports of "blood diamonds," whose sale allows African governments and rebel groups to finance their wars. Industry officials say that blood diamonds account for about 4 percent of the world's $6-billion-a-year trade, while human rights groups argue that 15 percent is a more accurate estimate. Last year Democratic Representative Tony Hall of Ohio introduced legislation that would require that diamonds sold in the United States - where two-thirds of all diamond sales take place - be accompanied by a certificate of origin, to ensure that no blood diamonds would be allowed in the country. Deborah DeYoung, a Hall staffer, recalls that Cohen came by the office to voice his opposition to the bill. "He said that our proposal wasn't workable and that we should look at other types of control measures, like monitoring ports," she says. "He was advocating an approach that wouldn't shut down an industry that's important to his clients." In addition to African nations involved in the trade, the diamond industry fiercely lobbied against the legislation. So Hall and other supporters have altered the bill in hopes of getting it through Congress.
CWI's most recent contract - a five-year deal at $600,000 per annum - was signed last September with the government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. At the time, Mugabe was in desperate need of a PR face-lift. His nation's economy was in shambles; and 32 people, mostly opposition supporters, had been killed during parliamentary elections held three months earlier. Meanwhile, Mugabe's land reform plan - which would seize 3,000 properties without compensation and give them to landless blacks - was generating criticism, partly at home but mostly abroad. The contract calls for CWI to take the "necessary steps to overcome recent negative publicity, and to restore enduring trust, confidence and mutual respect between Zimbabwe and the international community." Firm lobbyists are specifically asked to smooth relations between Zimbabwe and the International Monetary Fund, and to "counter anti-Zimbabwe content in the international media." As part of the latter effort, CWI is to establish a Web site that will provide news from Zimbabwe as well as information about business and tourism opportunities there.
CWI has been working especially hard to head off congressional passage of the Zimbabwe Democracy Act, which sailed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last June but stalled on the House side. The bill would cut off American aid to Zimbabwe and require the U.S. government to oppose any loans to Mugabe's government by international lenders. Last September, to oppose the bill, Cohen personally met with Republican Representative Amo Houghton of New York. According to disclosure forms, Cohen "expressed the view that, while the objectives of promoting democracy and respect for the rule of law were certainly laudable, Zimbabwe should be given a few months to resolve its political crisis rather than rushing to impose external sanctions." Houghton's office refused to comment on the meeting with Cohen.
In an interview with TAP, Cohen defended the role of the lobbyist in general and his firm's work in particular: "We advise clients on their situation in the U.S. and tell them that if they really want to improve relations, here are some things you have to do. We aren't able to get them any privileges that they don't deserve." He said that CWI has turned down clients - for example, the former dictatorship of General Sani Abacha in Nigeria, which he called "beyond the pale" - and that the firm resigned from the Liberia account after three months. "We saw there was nothing to be done, that the government just wanted us to wave a magic wand [to make its problems go away]." At the same time, Cohen said he'd be happy to renew his firm's contract with Congo if the new government there so desired, and he acknowledged that CWI hasn't been able to convince the government of Zimbabwe to improve its record on civil and human rights. "That's beyond our influence," he said.
Given the scope of Africa's troubles, particularly armed conflicts and human rights-abusing governments, Herman Cohen's future prospects are rosy. After all, murder and mayhem are good for business. So, too, is a lack of conscience.
|The maze in acquiring Zimbabwean citizenship|
5/7/01 9:49:02 AM (GMT +2)
THE law relating to
citizenship in Zimbabwe has recently stirred up controversy both inside and
outside the courts of the land.
The controversy took an
added dimension, occurring as it did at a time when there is publicised conflict
between the Executive and Judiciary in Zimbabwe.
In the case, Movement for Democratic Change v Mudede and Others the judgment of the High Court was to the effect that the law on the renunciation of citizenship of Zimbabwe is absurd and nonsensical.
However in the case, Robyn Anne Carr v The Registrar-General, the full bench of the Supreme Court determined that the law on citizenship in Zimbabwe was settled and admitted of no controversy.
In that case, Chief Justice Gubbay and Justice McNally recused themselves and in their respective places were acting Supreme Court judges, Korsah and Adam.
Apart from this aspect of the law relating to renunciation of citizenship, the other aspect of the law relating to the acquisition of citizenship by a child in Zimbabwe remains in a state of flux.
This aspect of the law is surrounded by uncertainty and gross ignorance especially on commercial farms where a considerable number of children are born to permanent residents or the so-called immigrants from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Malawi or Zambia.
The plight of such children is made worse by the attitude of officers in the Registrar-General’s office.
The failure by those officers to appreciate and execute properly the law relating to the acquisition of citizenship needs to be ventilated in the national media for the public good.
In terms of the Constitution any child who is born in Zimbabwe and whose father is a citizen of Zimbabwe is automatically a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.
Furthermore, a child who is born in Zimbabwe outside wedlock and whose mother is a citizen of Zimbabwe is also a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.
A child who is born outside Zimbabwe, to parents who are citizens of Zimbabwe and are serving or working for the Government of Zimbabwe as diplomats, is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.
A child who is born outside Zimbabwe and whose parents are citizens of Zimbabwe is a citizen of Zimbabwe by descent.
And finally a child who is born inside Zimbabwe and whose parents are not citizens of Zimbabwe and are working in Zimbabwe as diplomats for their government is not a citizen of Zimbabwe.
The provisions of the Constitution that I have outlined above cover the generality of children in Zimbabwe and can hardly be said to have imposed insurmountable hurdles to the acquisition of citizenship by children in Zimbabwe.
However, children who are born in Zimbabwe (and mainly on commercial farms) to parents whose citizenship of Zimbabwe is suspect usually find themselves lying between the horns of a dilemma.
In terms of the Constitution, any child who is born in Zimbabwe and whose father is not a citizen of Zimbabwe, is not a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.
This is necessarily so even if the child’s mother is a citizen of Zimbabwe.
A child, who is born in Zimbabwe and at the time of that child’s birth, the father or, if born outside wedlock, the mother was living in Zimbabwe in contravention of the provision of any law, is not a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.
However, if subsequent to the birth of the child, the father or the mother, as the case may be, becomes a permanent resident, then the child becomes a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.
And finally a child who is born in Zimbabwe and whose parents are not citizens of Zimbabwe but are permanent residents, is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.
When everything has been said and done, the gist of it all boils down to the principle that a child takes the citizenship of its father upon birth or that of its mother if born outside wedlock.
Be that as it may, such a child, upon attaining the age of majority, has a right to decide and apply for a citizenship of his or her own choice.
That child may decide upon attaining the age of majority, to retain the citizenship of his or her parents or take up citizenship of the place or country of birth.
However, such child would become a citizen of Zimbabwe by registration but not by birth.
The rights that accrue to a person by virtue of citizenship are basically the same but the two categories of citizenship are different.
Citizenship by birth can never be terminated by anyone but citizenship by registration can be terminated by Government upon occurrence of certain actions or omissions, especially the commission of specified offences.
The situation that obtains on the ground on most commercial farms is that the majority of adult workers are either immigrants from neighbouring countries or are descendants of such immigrants.
Invariably, almost all their children were born in Zimbabwe. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the so-called immigrants or descendants of such immigrants have become permanent residents by virtue of the length of their stay in Zimbabwe and may be granted such status upon application in terms of the Immigration Act. The practical problem is that quite a number of them do not have in their possession valid identity documents having been denied them when they were still minor children. And this has become a vicious circle.
Their children are, therefore citizens of Zimbabwe by birth.
Even in cases where the parents are still non-citizens their children are entitled, upon application, to be citizens of Zimbabwe by registration when they attain the age of majority.
Finally, even abandoned children or the so-called foundlings are citizens of Zimbabwe by birth in terms of our law and international convention.
The attitude of officers in the Registrar-General’s department warrants re-examination in light of the provisions of the relevant laws although the constitutional provisions are heavily weighed in favour of males as opposed to gender equality.