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Leaders slam unity govt

Article By:
Fri, 07 May 2010 15:38

African leaders on Friday criticised the formation of coalition governments
on the continent following flawed or disputed elections.

Two African countries - Kenya and Zimbabwe - are now ruled by power-sharing
governments following contested polls which also sparked political crises.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga - named to the post in a 2008 deal with
President Mwai Kibaki whom he accused of rigging his re-election the
previous year - said their agreement should not be replicated.

"The Kenyan example is not a model to be followed. It is a compromise that
has been reached as a result of a crisis," Odinga said during the World
Economic Forum on Africa being held in Dar es Salaam.

"It is not an example for Africa to follow. Zimbabwe followed because it was
seen that the incumbent has lost and refuses to leave power (and) there is a
danger of disintegration of the state," he added.

South African President Jacob Zuma - whose predecessor negotiated the
Zimbabwe deal - defended the agreement, but said lack of implementation was
undermining it.

'Very painful exercise'

"It is the only route to peace and stability in Zimbabwe," Zuma said. "The
problem is at the level of implementation. You cannot have an agreement and
not implement it."

On Thursday, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he would not
agree to a coalition government again, terming it a "very painful exercise."
"Would I do this again? I don't think so. I think it is a bad precedent," he

Kenya's Odinga blamed the African Union of failing to instill democracy in
its 53 member states.

"It is also the ineffectiveness of the African Union to take the lead and a
firm stand on issues where democracy is in danger," he said.

"That's the reason why we end up with such kind of compromises.

They are basically examples of how not to do it." Salim Ahmed Salim, former
secretary general of the Organisation of African Unity, since renamed the
African Union, criticised Africa's inability to crack down on leaders who
cling to power.

Africa "has been unable to deal decisively with the phenomena of leaders
trying to perch themselves to power perpetually without eny possibilities of
change," he said. "Coalition governments are not a solution."

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ACR diamond company official locked up at Matapi police station

By Violet Gonda
7th May 2010

Ian Harris, the Financial Officer of African Consolidated Resources (ACR),
who was 'abducted' in Harare on Thursday, is in police custody and is being
held at Matapi police station in Mbare.
Harris is being charged with fraud and accused of operating an ACR
subsidiary in Chiadzwa, without registration.

ACR's local subsidiary is fighting for its mining rights in Chiadzwa, but is
accused of not being registered when the company claimed ownership of the
diamond fields four years ago.
ACR deny these allegations saying the subsidiary was in the process of
registering at the time and it had followed standard practices.

ACR CEO Andrew Cranswick said on Friday: "I cannot comment on the latest
developments because my colleague's safety and release is the most important
thing and I don't want to compromise this."
Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, say Cranswick, currently in
South Africa, has also been threatened with arrest if he goes back to

The source said: "Harris is a suburban white accountant and has been
deliberately taken to Matapi because it has one of the filthiest holding
cells in Harare, where inmates are held under appalling conditions. They
will keep him in there all weekend to intimidate him. (Mines Minister Obert)
Mpofu is trying to dig out dirt on ACR to elbow them out completely from

ACR is fighting the government and trying to assert its legal right to the
diamond mine claim in Marange. A Zimbabwe court has already ruled that ACR
is the legal owner and has the right to mine the alluvial diamonds in
Chiadzwa. But this is being blocked by Minister Mpofu, who has contracted
two 'dubious' companies, Canadile and Mbada, to mine the gems. ACR has been
fighting in the High Court to bar the sale of diamonds by the two companies.

The Mines Minister is accused of awarding mining rights to his cronies and
recent reports say a very dangerous situation is being created by Mpofu, who
has also said he is going to give mining concessions to the police force.

Mpofu is quoted in the media saying at a police passing-out parade for new
recruits: "We will give you mining licences just like anyone else who
applies. We are not bothered by people who say our diamonds are blood
diamonds because you defended the resource from being plundered by
unscrupulous foreign dealers."

In a recent interview Cranswick said the Zimbabwean authorities had given a
bunch of South African 'crooks and smugglers' permits to mine Chiadzwa, and
his fears that the unrest created by the diamonds could lead to war, as has
happened in other parts of Africa.

Mpofu himself reportedly admitted to a parliamentary portfolio committee
probing abuses and irregularities at the diamond mines, that some officials
at Mbada and Canadile might be crooks.

Meanwhile, analysts say this arrest of the ACR official sends entirely the
wrong message to foreign investors and completely contradicts a statement by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, on the sidelines of the World Economic
Forum on Africa, where he said Zimbabwe was no longer an investment risk and
that the political crisis was over.

The diamond fields in Marange are estimated to be worth US$1 billion a year
to Zimbabwe. Civic groups say if that money was used for the benefit of the
country the last 10 years of ZANU PF destruction could be completely turned
around. Unfortunately it is just being used to make the ruling elite even
richer and to keep the security forces onside.

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Police Bar Journalists March

07/05/2010 10:51:00

Masvingo/Bulawayo, May 07, 2010 - Police in Masvingo and Bulawayo barred
journalists from holding peaceful marches organised by the Media Institute
of Southern Africa (MISA) to mark the belated World Press Freedom Day

Worldwide, journalists commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

Scribes in Masvingo had applied to the police for permission to march from
Croco Motors garage to the Civic Centre. However, their application was
turned down by police citing 'security' reasons. In Bulawayo journalists
were told by police that all  all public  processions and demonstrations had
been suspended until after the World Soccer Cup to be held in South Africa
next month.

In Masvingo Chief Superintendent Joseph Nyapfuri wrote a letter to the MISA
chairman Energy Bara saying the march could not be held because of security

However, it was suspected that the march had been banned because Vice
President John Nkomo was having a rally in Mwenezi district here.

"This is a sad development which shows that media freedom in the country is
yet to come. This was intended to be a peaceful professional march. How
could they stop us from expressing our views? I am actually baffled," said

The march in Bulawayo was intended for Saturday. It had been jointly
organised by journalists under the banner of the Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists (ZUJ), MISA and the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio
Stations (ZACRAS).

"We applied for police clearance last week to hold a belated a peaceful
procession in commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day but the police
said they are under instructions not to issue clearances for any public
demonstrations and processions until the World Cup in South Africa is over,"
said Henry Masuku, the National Coordinator of the ZACRAS.

Masuku said the journalists in Bulawayo could not commemorate the day on May
3 as the day was a working day and most journalists were engaged.

"Right now we are in a fix because of the ban. We had already paid for a
public address system and printed T-shirts for this important occasion. The
police's argument that they want to maintain peace and stability in the
country ahead of the World Soccer Cup does not hold any water because this
is a day celebrated everywhere in the world by journalists," said Masuku.

When reached for comment the Co- Minister of Home Affairs Giles Kembo Mohadi
said: "I am attending a meeting."

The other Co- Minister Giles Mutseyekwa's mobile phone was nor reachable.

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Over 500 MDC youths protest for justice in Bulawayo

By Lance Guma
07 May 2010

Over 500 MDC-T youths demonstrated in Bulawayo on Friday, demanding the
prosecution of individuals behind the Gukurahundi massacres and the election
related violence and murder in the country. MDC-T provincial youth Chairman,
Bekithemba Nyathi, told Newsreel that police had initially refused to
sanction the demonstration and only the intervention of co-Home Affairs
Minister Giles Mutsekwa made it possible to go ahead.

The youths marched from their party offices to Mahlahlandela government
offices which house the Provincial Governor Cain Mathema. The governor is
said to have 'hurriedly left his office and left his personal assistant to
attend to the youths.' The demonstration was the second attempt by the
youths to air their grievances, after a previous one was thwarted by police.
Nyathi told us they had successfully 'put the lid on the pot' by managing to
place the issue of transitional justice on the 'national agenda.'

Other grievances articulated by the youths include a demand for affordable
education, an open media environment and concerns that the recently passed
empowerment legislation would scare away potential investors and was only
designed to benefit the elite in ZANU PF. It is the issue of transitional
justice however that has exploded into prominence. MDC-T youths have held
similar demonstrations in Harare, Masvingo and now Bulawayo and signs are
that the campaign is gaining momentum.

A national healing organ, set up under the coalition government, has been
accused of doing nothing except hold endless workshops. Sanderson Makombe, a
victim of violence in the 2000 parliamentary elections, says the organ is
operating 'without any enabling act of parliament, does not have a specific
mandate to investigate past atrocities, to hear and record testimonies, to
compel victims and offenders to own up, neither does it have a package of
restitution and compensation as required by international law.'
Recently a 15-year old schoolboy in Mwenezi retaliated and killed a well
known ZANU PF thug who was behind the murder of his father in the June 2008
election. Commentators say that in the absence of a proper system of
transitional justice such attacks will increase, as victims are forced to
interact daily with their tormentors.


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Chaos As Government Recuits Teachers At Night

07/05/2010 17:37:00

Masvingo, May 07, 2010 - Hundreds of prospective relief teachers stormed
Masvingo Provincial Education Director (PED)'s office and staged a sit-in
for almost two hours demanding to know the criteria being used to recruit

This followed allegations that the Ministry of Education had recruited 50
relief teachers on Thursday night. Those recruited were said to have paid
US$ 20 each.

Masvingo provincial education director Clara Dube admitted over the phone
that hundreds of prospective relief teachers stormed her offices on Friday
but denied to explain why they gave her the unexpected visit.

"Yes they came to my offices, they wanted their issues to be clarified and
they left my office after they got what they wanted. I can not comment
further than that, thank you," said Dube.

A source told Radio VOP: "It was painful yesterday as they went to
unrealistic levels through recruiting during the night. That was our first
time to see them opening offices up to 22 00 hours."

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Zimbabwe Econet to spend $300 mln on network

Fri May 7, 2010 3:39pm GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe's largest mobile phone
operator, will spend $300 million this year to expand its voice and data
services as it aims for more rapid growth, the company's chief executive
said on Friday.

Douglas Mboweni also told Reuters in an interview that the Econet will
continue to increase its subscriber numbers, helped by Zimbabwe's low mobile
penetration rates.

"The bulk of investments will go into expanding our infrastructure for both
data and voice," Mboweni said.

Telecom firms are keen to expand in fast-growing Africa, where mobile phone
use still lags well behind more developed countries.

MTN, Africa's largest mobile phone company by subcribers, is currently in
talks to buy assets from Egypt's Orascom Telecom. Indian firm Bharti Airtel
recently acquired the African assets of Kuwaiti firm Zain.

Mboweni said that Econet, which competes with Orascom's Zimbabwe unit, will
fund the improvements through a combination of loans, internal cash and
vendor financing.

The company will also continue to add subscribers, as Zimbabwe's mobile
penetration remains low at about 40 percent, he said. Econet currently has 4
million subscribers, or 73 percent of the market, up from 1.2 million last

Mboweni said the introduction of multi-currencies in 2009, following the
formation of a unity government between President Robert Mugabe and his
rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, had helped Econet's operations.

Multi-currencies replaced the Zimbabwe dollar, which had been eroded by
hyper-inflation that made business planning difficult.

Zimbabwe's economy grew for the first time in a decade last year but
businesses still struggle to access credit from overseas. Econet, however,
was able to secure foreign financing, because one of its major shareholders
is a South Africa-based firm, Econet Wireless Group (EWG).

EWG runs mobile networks in Burundi, Lesotho, Botswana and is a minority
shareholder in Kenya's Essar Group.

Econet is Zimbabwe's largest mobile operator by by both subscribers and
revenue ahead of Telecel, the Orascom unit, and state-owned NetOne.

The company's earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and
armotisation (EBITDA) for the year ending February 2010 stood at $179
million. There were no comparative figures for 2009 when the country was
using the Zimbabwe dollar.

Revenues jumped to $362.7 million, up from $87.9 million the previous year.

The company had the highest share price of $4.92 on the stock market on
Friday, with a market capitalisation of $496.68 million.

"We believe that for as long as the penetration in Zimbabwe is below that of
our regional peers, there is plenty of opportunity to get a healthy return
from further investment," Mboweni said, adding that the Econet no immediate
plans to seek foreign shareholding.

Mboweni said Econet, which is a majority shareholder in a large beverages
company, would continue to review that investment and would divest when it
can get a fair price.


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Opposition infighting raises spectre of violence

Photo: IRIN
Finance minister Tendai Biti
HARARE, 7 May 2010 (IRIN) - A public disagreement between Zimbabwe's Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, and Finance Minister Tendai Biti over pay increases in public servants' salaries is being seen as evidence of greater divisions between two of the most senior leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Biti said salaries had been frozen, while Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told a May Day rally that public servants, including medical staff and teachers, would be in line for salary adjustments that currently range from US$165 to US$250 a month.

Although the salaries are low by international standards, they were used to entice public servants back to the workplace when hyperinflation had reduced their pay to less than a dollar a month.

Replacing the Zimbabwe dollar with a basket of foreign currencies - including the US dollar, the South African rand and the Botswana pula - eliminated hyperinflation, but fuel and electricity remain scarce, and although food is available, many cannot afford it.

The MDC became the first party to seriously challenge Mugabe's rule since he came to power after independence from Britain in 1980 by winning a parliamentary majority during the violence-plagued 2008 elections.

The Global Political Agreement - brokered by the Southern African Development Community, a regional body - was signed in September 2008, paving the way for the formation of the unity government in February 2009 - a fragile coalition between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC, and an MDC splinter party led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

However, the performance of the unity government has not greatly altered the living conditions of most Zimbabweans. Political violence has picked up in recent months and has been largely attributed to Mugabe's ZANU-PF party attempting to reclaim political support and punish those seen as supporting the MDC, particularly in rural areas.


However, Tsvangirai supporters were recently held responsible for an attack on the MDC's national director, Toendepi Shone, who is seen to be aligned with Biti, who is also secretary general of the MDC.

Shone's car was "impounded" at Tsvangirai residence and he was accused of touring the provinces to campaign for Biti in a bid to challenge Tsvangirai's position at the party's 2011 elective congress.

''We have always said that Tsvangirai has some violent bodyguards and young followers around him, but nobody has believed us''
Tsvangirai supporters have also barred the MDC's director for security, Chris Dlamini, from the party headquarters as he was also seen as a Biti supporter. Biti still has access to the party's headquarters, but his security detail has been increased.

"We have always said that Tsvangirai has some violent bodyguards and young followers around him, but nobody has believed us," a former senior MDC official who declined to be identified, told IRIN.

The politics of division

"It would be in the interests of ZANU-PF to have a weaker MDC in the next elections in order to avoid the defeat that it experienced in 2008. ZANU-PF would want an MDC candidate who does not have national appeal, such as Morgan Tsvangirai, and they would happily fund destabilization processes within the MDC," political analyst and academic Eldred Masunungure told IRIN.

"Tsvangirai is the face of opposition politics ... and has national appeal; anybody coming out to oppose or disturb his programmes would be shunned by the people, who are thirsty for change in the country."

Another election is expected in 2011 or 2012, ratcheting up the political temperature and raising the spectre of violence between competing parties and factions that often lies just beneath the surface.

Tsvangirai has admitted to tension within the MDC but downplayed it. "The secretary general [Biti] and myself have been comrades in this struggle for many years and have stood together throughout this time, and we will not allow the enemies of real change to succeed in derailing the people's cause," he said.

"The attempt to divide us has been expressed through violence and disturbances, dubious teams sent to provinces, preaching gospels of division, and baseless and defamatory documents being manufactured and distributed to the press."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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N Korea in Zim 'a problem'

Article By:
Fri, 07 May 2010 15:54

North Korea's insistence on staying in Harare in the build-up to the 2010
Soccer World Cup has created "a problem" for South Africa's security
officials, police national commissioner General Bheki Cele said on Friday.

Cele told Parliament's portfolio committee on police that the North Koreans
insisted on staying in Harare in the run up to the tournament and had
created a situation which was "a bit of a juggle to work around".

"The only problem we are trying to deal with is the North Korea team that
will be based in Zimbabwe," he said.

"In that regard, we must have very close cooperation with forces in
Zimbabwe, as they will have the responsibility of protecting North Korea,"
added Lieutenant-General Andre Pruis.

"We have close cooperation in place with Zimbabwe. If they want our support
we can supply them," he said.

Pruis said the North Koreans would move their base to South Africa for the
tournament itself, as this was a Fifa requirement.

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De Doorns refuge camp to be cleared

    May 07 2010 at 11:14AM

Authorities want to clear the De Doorns refugee camp before the soccer World
Cup starts, Breede Valley mayor Charles Ntsomi said on Friday.

He was speaking at a media conference called in Cape Town to announce
details of the closure, scheduled for the end of this month.

He said it was vital to reintegrate the occupants "because South African law
does not allow us to keep people in the camp".

"We felt it is now urgent we do it even before the World Cup," he said.

"We don't want to see people in camps during the World Cup. That's the crux
of the matter."

The tented camp, on a sports field in the Hex River Valley town, was
established in November last year to house several thousand people, mostly
Zimbabweans, fleeing threats of xenophobic violence.

Most of them worked as casual labour on farms in the area, a centre of grape

NGO workers said on Friday they believed there were only some 600 people
still in the camp.

Director for human rights support in the office of the Western Cape premier,
Sifiso Mbuyisa, said officials met a group from the camp on May 5.

"The bulk of them... indicated a willingness to leave the camp," he said.

Residents of the camp were in fact constantly interacting with the
community, moving in and out of the townships.

"We feel that's an indication they are willing to be reintegrated," he said.

The International Organisation for Migration, an NGO, had said it would
provide financial assistance for those who wanted to return to Zimbabwe.

The municipality's media spokesman Manfred van Rooyen said officials would
go with refugees who wanted to reintegrate in order to see whether landlords
were ready to take them back.

Where homes had been demolished, the refugees would be given a starter kit
of poles and black plastic.

The province's head of disaster management Hildegarde Fast said the
possibility of having to go through the courts to secure evictions was at
the moment "not even on the agenda for us".

Following the xenophobic violence in Cape Town, the vast majority of people
had reintegrated voluntarily.

"We feel confident that with the current processes this isn't even on the
radar," she said.
- Sapa

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Mbete fails to mend fences in Zimbabwe


ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete's visit to Zimbabwe has done little to persuade
the Movement for Democratic Change that her party disagrees with youth
leader Julius Malema's public support for President Robert Mugabe.

Mbete flew to Bulawayo on April 30 to attend a party thrown to celebrate
Simon Khaya Moyo's election as Zanu-PF chairperson.

She briefly met MDC-Tsvangirai chairperson Lovemore Moyo in an apparent
attempt to mend fences after Malema's utterances, but MDC insiders said her
visit did nothing to move Zimbabwe's warring parties towards a settlement.

They were quietly frustrated that Zanu-PF had again used her visit to drive
home their key demand for the removal of Western sanctions.

State media also made much of her statements that "we are one" and that "we
are each other's keeper".

An MDC official said the party expects Zuma himself to clarify whether
Malema's sentiments were mandated by the party or were his personal view.
"He must come himself and make it clear to us whether he supports Malema in

Although MDC insiders believe Zuma has been more even-handed than former
president and mediator Thabo Mbeki, they believe the ANC will never be fully
on their side.

Said one: "This is just more of the same. People going in and out of
Zimbabwe but the political will to address the real issues is not there. The
issue at hand is getting the military out of the process so we can have free
and fair elections."

During her visit Mbete stuck to Zuma's line on Western sanctions, saying
they had contributed to Zimbabwe's economic collapse. She put pressure on
Tsvangirai to take a more visible stand in having the measures lifted.

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Rodents pose new health threat in Zimbabwe's towns

By Fanuel Jongwe (AFP) - 4 hours ago

HARARE - A stray cat paws through a heap of refuse between blocks of flats
in Harare's upmarket Avenues area, sending rats squealing and scurrying for
cover among the rubbish.

Across the road, cars take turns to skirt a swelling mound of garbage nearly
blocking one of the two lanes.

Informal dumpsites have become a familiar sight in sections of Harare where
residents are resorting to emptying bins in open spaces as the municipal
authorities fail to collect refuse, causing residents to fear disease

The ubiquitous heaps are breeding grounds for rats and mice, posing a health
threat as the rodents sometimes find their way into homes.

Combined Harare Residents' Association has warned of possible disease
outbreak if the refuse problem is not addressed.

"In areas such as Mabvuku, residents say refuse was last collected in
February 2009," the association said in statement, referring to a township
in eastern Harare where five people died in a typhoid outbreak in February
which affected scores of residents.

"The piles of refuse have provided conducive breeding grounds for mosquitoes
and rats and residents fear for their health."

Rats can spread diseases through droppings, some of which could be life
threatening, including salmonella, diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

Humans can also contract ratbite fever from a rat.

"You can't blame the people who are dumping the rubbish here," Jennifer
Mazhawidza, a street vendor said pointing to a heap of garbage blocking a
sanitary lane.

"The municipality should do something about it. They charge levies for
collecting refuse but they don't provide the service. Now there are rats
everywhere because of the rubbish and we may have another disease outbreak."

Municipal authorities collect a monthly levy from residents and companies
for refuse collection.

But residents like Tapiwa Ndenda from the populous township of Chitungwiza
cannot recall the last time municipal dumptrucks did rounds in his

"If the trucks came this year, it's not more than three times," he says
after looking to the sky trying to remember when he last saw the dustmen in
the now-rare orange trucks in action.

"We sometimes have these big rats which can easily be mistaken for kittens."

Chitungwiza recorded the first cases of cholera during an outbreak in 2008
which claimed at least 4,000 lives and affected around 100,000 people across

The outbreak was contained last year with a heavy injection of international
aid, although sporadic cases are still reported.

A woman who works for a pest-control company said demand for rat-baiting
services has surged.

"We get more calls from people wanting to rid their houses of rats than we
used to. It's because of the rubbish that's everywhere," said the woman who
declined to give her name.

"At my own house I put rat poison and a few rats die, but I keep seeing one
every time."

Godfrey Chikwenhere, a rodent control specialist at the government's
research and extension services said his department was receiving frequent
requests for help to get rid of rats.

"We are receiving reports that rodents are on the increase," said
Chikwenhere, who was part of a research team that undertook a study in the
southern Africa on the problem of rodents.

"How that relates to incidence of human disease still needs to be researched

Let down by the authorities, residents and civic groups are teaming up in
clean-up campaigns to clear away the informal dumpsites.

"However the dumpsites are sprouting again as the city has not complemented
the efforts of the residents by collecting refuse," the residents'
association said.

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Opinion: Mugabe retains grip on foreign affairs

By Zimbabwe Correspondent (author cannot be identified because of Zimbabwe's
press restrictions)
Published: May 7, 2010 08:27 ET

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, right, and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, left, are welcomed at Harare International Airport, April 22,
2010. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)Enlarge Photo

HARARE, Zimbabwe - When European nations in the 19th century wrested
accountable governance from their monarchs by putting in place parliamentary
systems, one area remained outside their scope. Foreign policy, it was said,
was the "domain of the king."

That view is alive and well in today's Zimbabwe. The Ministry of Foreign
Affairs might as well close down. It is a mere cipher. President Robert
Mugabe, 86, exercises sole power and despite the formation of a government
of national unity (GNU) he brooks no interference from his purported

This has led to predictable resentment. Recently President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad of Iran visited Zimbabwe as Mugabe's guest. He was met at Harare
International Airport by a 21-gun salute as jets screamed overhead. Cabinet
ministers lined up to greet the honored guest.

But something was missing in this otherwise warm welcome. Mugabe's partners
in government, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, were conspicuous in their absence.

Neither Tsvangirai nor his ministers put in an appearance. They were all in
Bulawayo attending the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, which the Iranian
leader would later open.

The word "snub" was put to good use in both the private and official media.
An MDC statement made it clear this was not a visitor that the party would

"As a party we feel that a country is defined by its friends," the statement
said. "We want to place it on record that judging by his record Ahmadinejad
is coming, not as a friend of Zimbabwe but as an ally of those who
unilaterally invited him.

"Choice of friends defines character," the MDC said, "and inviting the
Iranian strongman to an investment forum is like inviting a mosquito to cure

This, needless to say, incensed Mugabe's followers who claimed the MDC was
taking its marching orders from Washington and London.

But the episode underlined the fragility of the unity government.

Mugabe remains wedded to the postures of an earlier era when Zimbabwe was
part of an international network subscribing to Marxist-Leninist values.
Part of that structure remains intact in the form of the Non-Aligned

But the days when the Zimbabwean despot could strut upon the international
stage with authority have long since passed. The collapse of the Communist
bloc tore away the struts underpinning international support for regimes
such as Mugabe's.

Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's visit in 1983 was a high-water mark
for Zimbabwe's post-independence diplomacy but nowadays even Chinese leaders
give Harare a wide berth.

Mugabe's unilateral invitation to Ahmadinejad has once again focused
attention on the shortcomings of the GNU. Senior officials appointed by
Mugabe recently declared they were under no obligation to attend meetings of
the Council of Ministers that Tsvangirai chairs. A "Government Work Plan"
drawn up largely by MDC ministers to plan for the year ahead had not been
approved by the cabinet and was therefore unconstitutional, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa declared last week. Chinamasa lost his seat to the MDC in
the 2008 election.

Observers are waiting to see what impact this obstruction of government
business will have on a forthcoming visit to Brussels of several cabinet
ministers, including Chinamasa, to get European Union sanctions lifted.
Despite suggestions that some concessions may be forthcoming, it is
difficult to see what tangible progress the GNU can point to as warranting
their removal.

The heads of Zimbabwe's bloated state-owned corporations recently refused to
give the MDC minister responsible for parastatals accurate estimates of
their incomes. Only 10 out of 85 submitted the information required. Others
submitted false information, according to local reports.

The chief executives of the state-owned corporations enjoy hefty incomes and
generous allowances, including entertainment allowances running into
thousands of dollars. Their children's education and payment of domestic
staff are also paid for by their companies, many of which are in financial
difficulties. The companies include fuel and power providers.

The minister, Gabuza Joel Gabbuza, said he was "only trying to rationalize
salaries of chief executives and at the same time rectify anomalies where
the top brass are earning unrealistic salaries while their companies are
constantly applying for government bail-outs." Most CEOs in state companies
are the beneficiaries of Mugabe's patronage.

Mugabe continues to be the chief obstacle to change, clawing back as many
powers as possible, and threatening to do to the business sector what he has
done to agriculture. South African negotiators appear not to have made much
impact, with President Jacob Zuma giving the impression he is out of his
depth. British officials had no difficulty rebutting his attempt to get
sanctions lifted when he visited London earlier this year.

With over a year of tenure behind it, the GNU's report card reads "could do

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Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Minister answers questions from the public

During the month of April, Kubatana opened up the phone lines, SMS receivers and email addresses to solicit questions about the Constitution making process from across Zimbabwe. Throughout May, Advocate Eric T. Matinenga, Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, answers these questions.

Every weekday, we will be posting a new question for people to listen to – phone 0914 186 280 up to 7 to listen to the answers now, in English, Shona and Ndebele.

Each week, we will also be posting the answers on

1. What is the purpose of the Constitution of Zimbabwe? How does the Constitution of Zimbabwe differ from an organisational Constitution – e.g. a youth group

Now, when we are talking about a Constitution, we are talking about a law which overrides any other law in the country. In legal parlance, it is called the Supreme Law of the Land. Because it is the supreme law of the land, everybody resident in that country is obliged to obey it. And anything or any law which is inconsistent with that Constitution is invalid. So you can see that whilst a Constitution should be obeyed by everybody in the country, the Constitution of a voluntary organisation only binds those members who belong to that organisation.

I notice that this question came from Mutare. So if you’ve got maybe the Sakubva choral society, it means that that society has got a Constitution which only binds the members of that organisation. I stay in Harare, and I’m not in their choir. So I’m not bound by the Constitution of that choral society. But, whether you’re a member of that choral society, or whether you are Minister Matinenga who is in Harare, if you are a resident of Zimbabwe, we are all bound by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

2. Today’s question came from Kudzie, who asked How long is the Constitution making process going to take? When will the outreach programme start, and why has it been so delayed?

Firstly, Constitution making is a process. It is not an event. So when we hear people saying that there is nothing happening in the Constitution making process, one needs to know what is happening on the surface and what is going on in the background, so as to know whether we are still on track, or have gone off track.

We go back to February 2009 to start the Constitution making process in this country. And we go back even further to September 2008 to the agreement between the political parties as to how the Constitution making process should be conducted in this country. After February 2009, with the swearing in of the inclusive government, we were then obliged to put in place the Select Committee. That was done. We were then obliged to hold the first All Stakeholders Conference. That was done in July 2009. I think a lot of you, particularly those of you who have access to television, remember the real disturbance we had in July, and some of you will remember that after that disturbance, the three principals addressed a joint conference, and stated in very clear terms that the Constitution making process was not negotiable, and that this process will be seen to its very end. I am glad that the indications up to now are that we are on our way to fulfil this important requirement of the GPA, even though we are a bit slow.

Now after the First All Stakeholders Conference, we were able to establish Constitutional Themes, in respect of which persons identified are to address these themes. The persons who are going to address these themes have been identified. These are the persons who are going to take part in the outreach programme which will get under way very shortly. We have also trained the rapporterus, who are the persons who are going to be reporting what each and every person says during the outreach meetings.

The outreach programme will be rolled out, I believe, around the middle of May. It may be towards the end of May, but I am confident that come mid-May we will be able to roll it out.

After the outreach, the draft Constitution will then be crafted by the experts, and I can assure you that it is not going to be the Matinenga Draft. Nor is it going to be the Tsvangirai or Mugabe or Mutambara Draft. It is going to be a draft which is going to be crafted by experts who are going to be looking at what you said during the outreach, and who will then gather what you said into a draft Constitution.

After that draft has been done, we are going to go to a Second All Stakeholders Conference. From there, we go to a referendum, which gives you the people the chance to see whether what you said in the outreach is contained in the draft and is what is being presented to you in the referendum. I am sure that that will be in order and that what the people say is not going to be tampered with. I foresee, in terms of time table, that by April 2011 we should have a Constitution that has passed through Parliament and has been adopted by Zimbabwe.

3. Today’s question came from Philebon, who asked: What is the role of the Kariba Draft in the Constitution making process?

People must not fear. They must not be taken in when people say the Kariba Draft will determine the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Let me assure people that there is no special place for the Kariba Draft in the Constitution making process. What we have agreed as the three political parties is that the outreach team should be gathering information on the basis of talking points. These talking points have been agreed by the political parties, and whilst the persons involved are obviously not going to be too particular about these points – because they need to be as inclusive as possible – nobody is going to be waving the Kariba Draft, nor any other draft for that matter, in the outreach meetings. So people should feel free, when they attend these outreach meetings, that they need to contribute to the making of the Constitution for Zimbabwe.

4. In Matabeleland and Midlands, if there is no devolution of power we will vote no in the referendum. What is the position on devolution of power?

This comment is about how the people of Matabeleland and Midlands will respond if presented with a Constitution which they believe does not provide for devolution of power.

Now let me clarify this point. When you talk about devolution of power, we are not talking about devolution to particular provinces. When you talk of devolution of power, you are talking about devolution to every province, to every local authority. So it is not an issue which should only be a concern for Matabeleland or Midlands, it is an issue which should be a national concern. What is important is that the people in the Midalnds and Matabeleland provinces, and the people in all the other provinces, must understand what devolution is, and what they want for devolution in the Constitution, and then must articulate this position when the outreach programme comes to their area.

When you talk about devolution, you must talk about meaningful devolution. You must talk about both economic and political power at the local level. People talk about devolution and they say we have it now. But when you look at the type of devolution we have now, we have got a devolution which unfortunately answers to the central authority. Your governors are appointed by the President. Your local council answer to the Minister of Local Government. And when you look at economic devolution, you will find that there is really nothing at local level which builds local institutions. So when we are talking about devolution, we must know what we are talking about, and proceed to articulate positions for meaningful political and economic devolution.

5. Today’s question has come from a number of people, including Malile, Marlene, Peter and Cicely, who asked: What are the provisions for citizenship? How will citizenship by birth be determined?

When you talk about citizenship, you are talking about belonging – not in terms of a club, but in terms of the country. So if you belong to Zimbabwe, then you are a citizen of Zimbabwe. But you are only a citizen of Zimbabwe if you can trace that belonging, that citizenship, by birth – either because you were born here, or because your parents or grandparents were born in Zimbabwe. You can trace your citizenship by descent – because your parents or grandparents were Zimbabwean. Or by registration, whereby you have sufficiently stayed in Zimbabwe that the laws of Zimbabwe consider you as somebody who already is a Zimbabwean.

I know that this issue is a major concern in regards to two types of person. Firstly, this issue is a concern for those persons who come from neighbouring countries, or whose parents come from neighbouring countries, like Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique. These people were born in Zimbabwe, but in the last elections were rudely told that, because they claim another citizenship, they are not allowed to vote.

I also know that this issue arises for persons who were born in Zimbabwe, who have been in Zimbabwe for quite a bit of time, but who have been forced by circumstances to leave Zimbabwe and stay in other countries. This is what we call the Diaspora.

Now I have always held the view that it is very unfair that in 1980, the people whom we now call non-citizens were allowed to vote. And they voted for certain political parties. But because we now believe that maybe those persons are going to be voting differently, now those persons should not be allowed to vote because those persons are considered non-citizens.

I think this Constitution should address this very critical issue, and I think this Constitution should seek to make it possible for persons who are born in this country to enjoy all the benefits of citizenship, to enjoy the right to vote, and the right to hold a passport. Also, when you look at the Diaspora, I think it is also important that, until such time that we get our politics and our economics right, that we should allow for what we call dual citizenship so that these people in the Diaspora are able to participate in the political and economic activities of this country.

You can listen to the Minister answer these questions here and view pictures too.

If you have a question on the Constitution that you’d like him to address, please leave a comment on this blog.

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A letter from the diaspora

7th May 2010

Dear Friends.
The apparent tragedy of some five million Zimbabweans exiled from their own
country may not be as great as it appears if those of us in exile are able
to gain something from the experience. Providing one has an open mind,
seeing how thing are done in another country can be a positive learning
experience and something that will ultimately benefit Zimbabwe when or if
the exiles return to the motherland.

Watching the electoral process in the UK over the last few weeks has
certainly made me think about the nature of democracy and how it works. The
one factor that was very clear was the huge influence of the media. From the
television debates to the daily discussion programmes on radio, to the print
and electronic media, it was very clear that the media was a crucial part of
the democratic process, allowing people from all walks of life to
participate in discussion of the issues involved. By the time UK voters went
to the polls on Thursday they were reasonably well-informed about the issues
thanks to a relatively free press and broadcast media. Each of the political
parties had been given the opportunity to air their views and it was then up
to the electorate to choose which party they supported and where they would
place their crosses on the ballot papers. (How different it is in Zimbabwe
where a state-controlled media ensures that only one point of view is heard
and where only this week Robert Mugabe re-appoints Tafataona Mahosa as CEO
of the Media Commission!).

While the UK was gripped by election fever, something was happening in
Greece which was profoundly worrying for democracy. Literally thousands of
Greeks took to the streets of the capital to demonstrate their anger at the
Greek government's decision to cut jobs and wages and increase taxes. All
this was the condition the Greek government had to agree to in return for a
massive loan from the EU to rescue the bankrupt country. People on the
streets vented their anger at the politicians demanding to know why they,
the people, should pay for the corruption and misgovernance of their rulers
which had been going on for over thirty years. The people blame the
politicians, not only in Greece but all over the world. "We voted for you"
the people say, "but you have failed us". Nothing illustrates better the
truth that democracy does not end at the ballot box. Voting is merely the
start of the democratic process. Democracy requires that the electorate
remains constantly vigilant that the politicians they vote for behave
properly. If politicians are corrupt and dishonest then the people need to
let them know in no uncertain terms that their behaviour is being closely
monitored by the electorate and civil society. In a true democracy, the will
of the people remains paramount.

Sadly, as we see in Zimbabwe, democracy cannot flourish where a political
party is led by a dictator who refuses to relinquish power - despite losing
an election. In this regard, the comments this week of Stan Mudenge, the
Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, are very revealing. "Zanu PF" he
said, "is still in and will remain in control of the country's affairs. The
set(ting) up of the inclusive government does not mean we surrendered power
to the MDC. T. The inclusive government was just administrative" and he
added that "his party would never hand real power to the MDC." Mudenge was
clearly echoing his master's voice but he would do well to remember that, as
in Europe, it is the economy and the hardships of ordinary people that will
light the fire of public anger in the end. This week the CCZ calculates that
a family of six needs $492.34 merely to provide their basic food needs. Add
to that the $344 for rent, water electricity health and education and you
have a total which is way out of the average wage earner's reach. As for the
90% unemployed, God only knows how they survive. While in this year of 2010,
children of the poor are still being turned away from school for non-payment
of fees, Zimbabweans well remember that it was Robert Mugabe, a teacher
himself, who promised free education for all. That was before he and all his
faithful party parasites had grown rich at the country's expense and
forgotten - if they ever knew - that they rule, not through the barrel of a
gun but through the democratic mandate of the people.

For Zimbabweans in exile all over the world in countries with very different
cultures and beliefs, it is sometimes hard to hold onto hope that our
country will ever become a democracy. It is indeed a long road to freedom
and for the present, Morgan Tsvangirai is our only hope. Every struggle has
its iconic face, commented an MDC official this week, for South Africa it
was Nelson Mandela and for Zimbabwe it is Morgan Tsvangirai. "He is the face
of the struggle against Zanu PF." It's hard to believe that a face alone is
enough to deliver democracy to Zimbabwe but if it is the face, mind and
spirit of a genuine democrat, a genuine man of the people who has the
whole-hearted support of ordinary Zimbabweans, then perhaps our hope is not
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.

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