BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Sobusa Gula-Ndebele's arrest last week on allegations
of conduct contrary to the duties of a public officer was unconstitutional,
leading constitutional law experts have said.
Gula-Ndebele is accused of secretly meeting former NMB Bank deputy
managing director, James Mushore, who was on the police wanted list for
allegedly externalizing foreign currency.
The police last week charged Gula-Ndebele with contravening section
174 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act), which deals
with the conduct of public officers.
Mushore fled the country to the UK in 2004, where he had been living
until his return and subsequent arrest.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment
yesterday, but constitutional law experts pointed out the AG's arrest was
Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku described the arrest as
"unconstitutional, unprocedural and unthinkable" in any democratic country.
Madhuku, a University of Zimbabwe law lecturer, said the Constitution
of Zimbabwe grants the AG the exclusive power to determine whether or not to
prosecute any person.
"If it were true that the AG met Mushore and made the alleged
assurance it would be unconstitutional to arrest him because doing so would
be usurping his powers to determine prosecution," he said.
Madhuku said the correct procedure when police believe the AG has
committed a crime would be to institute proceedings for his removal from
office through the President, before arresting him.
What happened, he said, was "unthinkable" in a properly functioning
"Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is not one," he said.
Madhuku added: "If the AG meets someone over a drink in a restaurant
and the next day he is in police custody what concept of independence is
Another constitutional law guru, who asked not to be named, said what
the police did was tantamount to trying to influence the way the
Attorney-General carries out his official duties, which is unconstitutional.
The police failed to do their homework, he said, or it might have been
deliberate malice to harass him "to settle whatever old scores there might
be", he said.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe states that the AG shall not be under the
authority of any person in the performance of his duties and that no person
shall be able to issue instructions on the exercise of his functions.
Section 76 (7) of the Constitution says: "In the exercise of his
powers under subsection (4) or 4 (a), the Attorney-General shall not be
subject to the direction or control of any person or authority."
The law expert said if the police felt that the AG had committed a
crime, the Commissioner of Police was supposed to approach the President,
who would appoint a tribunal, composed of lawyers and reputable civic
The tribunal would investigate and make recommendations.
"If there is a prima facie case, the President would then give the
green-light by suspending the AG. After that the police can arrest him
because he will no longer be in the office," he said.
Another constitutional expert, Welshman Ncube, who is representing
Gula-Ndebele, yesterday refused to comment.
"I am representing Gula-Ndebele, so it would be very inappropriate for
me to comment at the moment," Ncube said.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick
Chinamasa, who has on several occasions clashed with Gula-Ndebele, said he
could not comment as he was still mourning the death of his son who died in
the United States two weeks ago.
Gula-Ndebele sanctioned the prosecution of Chinamasa, accused of
trying to obstruct the course of justice in a case involving the Minister of
State for Security, Lands and Land Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa.
But Chinamasa was acquitted.
The Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, the acting Minister of Justice, could not be reached for comment.
Gula-Ndebele's arrest has taken a political dimension, with some
analysts saying it was designed to curb the influence of General Solomon
Mujuru's faction, to which Gula-Ndebele is reported to belong.
By Davison Maruziva
THERE is a painful moment in her life that brings tears welling up in
Memory Gwishiri's eyes. It is the realisation, she says, that her husband
could be alive today had doctors not gone on strike at the end of September.
Parirenyatwa Hospital says the tragedy is being investigated, but
point out the doctor on duty denies failing to attend to Hillary Chiike
before he died in the Casualty section.
Chiike (27), a victim of an army hit-and-run accident, was buried at
Manica Bridge, south of Mutare, on 25 September. But his family insists he
needn't have died.
Gwishiri (24), and two young children, Yolanda in Grade One and
Simbarashe, aged two years and nine months, survive Chiike.
On 22 September, towards evening, Chiike was struck down by an army
vehicle near King George and Lomagundi roads. While the driver of the Puma
fled in his vehicle, Chiike was able to tell passers-by to call his home and
inform his wife about the accident.
When Gwishiri and relatives arrived, Chiike was still conscious and
could explain how he was knocked down and what happened subsequently, as
well as to indicate his condition.
City of Harare documents show the ambulance crew of Musumbu and
Chamunorwa (Call 10588Z) ferried Chiike from Lomagundi Road to Parirenyatwa
Hospital Casualty section.
It is the alleged failure of the doctor and nurses on duty on the
fateful evening that Gwishiri and at least four separate witnesses say
contributed to Chiike's death.
"The doctors that were there," said Gwishiri, "spent almost two hours
without attending to him. When we asked the doctor, she shot back by saying
she had her own stresses."
The doctors were on strike.
Three of the four witnesses have lodged separate complaints with the
Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, over the
conduct of the staff at the Casualty section on the evening of 22 September.
Parirenyatwa, according to his secretary, was not immediately available to
comment. He was said to be out of town.
Joyce Mtshani, N G Mukurazhizha and Ronna Sibanda, the witnesses,
complain that the medical doctor on duty and five nurses were uncaring
because from the moment Chiike was delivered to Parirenyatwa hospital by the
ambulance crew, which was shortly after 7PM, until 9.30PM, when he died,
no-one had attended to him, in spite of the pain he said he felt.
"The five nurses," Mtshani said, "remained seated and were not even
bothered by my pleas, save to say that the doctors were on strike and they
were also going to join the strike the following Monday (24 September).
"I pleaded with the doctor to please attend to the patient brought in
by the ambulance. She told me that as far as she was concerned, Chiike was
in a stable condition and there were more critical patients to attend to."
Mtshani said when she pleaded with the doctor on duty, the doctor
"screamed" at her, warning her not to exacerbate her stress by such demands.
Meanwhile the clock was ticking for Chiike. Shortly after 9.30PM, he
died - before any medical staff at Parirenyatwa's Casualty section had
attended to him. Chiike is probably the first documented statistic of a
medical doctors' strike. But his wife and the three witnesses say he needn't
Thomas Zigora, the Chief Executive Officer of Parirenyatwa Hospital,
told The Standard: "Yes, we are aware that there's a case where these
allegations are being made. Some of the people who were there have put these
allegations in writing to the Minister (of Health). I have put the
allegations to the doctor (on duty on 22 September) and she denies ever
making that statement (she is alleged to have made to the witnesses)."
But Zigora said as a result of the complaints, the matter had been
referred to a clinical audit committee.
The function of the committee is to review the outcome of a case such
as Chiike's and arrive at some conclusion. As part of its work, the
committee is expected to interview the ambulance crew, the nurses on duty on
that evening in question and the doctor concerned.
Zigora did not say when the audit committee is expected to report on
At 24, Gwishiri had not thought she would be left to face the future
on her own, trying to guide their two young children's lives, single-handed.
What will she do next? She says these are tragedies one is never fully
prepared for. She scans the horizon, tears welling up in her eyes. The
future is one vast unknown and the thought of it can be very unsettling.
"I am trying to sort out my papers," she says, suppressing the urge to
cry in front of a stranger. "Probably, I will try to start a new life in .
Botswana." Gwishiri is a hairdresser. It's the thought of starting afresh
that keeps her going. The other alternative would be to allow her grievous
loss to overwhelm her.
Do the children understand what has happened? Did she explain to them
about their father?
"What they know," Gwishiri said, "is that they will not see their
father anymore. Whether they understand the concept of death yet, I can not
Even she too must struggle to come to terms with death. The pledge
she, like all Zimbabweans, believed was sincere at the time, to achieve
"Health for all by the Year 2000", must sound hollow and even dishonest
By Our Staff
THE banking sector has joined the current "queue" phenomenon in
Zimbabwe, if what was witnessed in the past week is anything to go by.
A snap survey by The Standard in Harare yesterday showed the return of
long queues for cash in many banks, some of them stretching to the pavements
outside the banks.
A banking executive said the queues were a result of the high demand
for cash as people bought scarce groceries in preparation for the festive
He said the challenge was that ATMs could only dispense a maximum of
$8 million in one transaction.
"What it means is that if you want to withdraw $20 million, you have
to conduct three transactions at the machine," he said. "If you are number
20 in the queue and the people ahead of you are withdrawing $20 million
each, it means you are actually number 58."
He said the introduction of higher denomination notes of $1 million
would result in the queues moving faster.
The central bank recently announced it intended to introduce a new
currency before the end of the year, but abruptly made an about-turn,
deferring the move to next year.
It was speculated that the RBZ governor Gideon Gono was feeling the
hyper-inflation heat and intended to lop off the zeros as he did in August
Analysts said the queues reflected the devastating effects of
"It is a repetition of the situation we had 18 months ago," said
economic commentator Eric Bloch. "We have to slash the zeros to stabilize
the currency because very soon cash registers will not cope."
Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world - 7 982.1%,
eroding the purchasing power of the currency.
Analysts say without putting in place sound economic measures, the
country will continue to fail to contain the hyper-inflation, whatever
monetary or fiscal gymnastics are implemented to tame the scourge.
Questions sent to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had not been responded
to at the time of going to press.
Meanwhile, in the central business district of Harare yesterday,
people had to make withdrawals inside the banking halls, instead of using
the Automated Teller Machines, as only
$1 000 notes were available.
The ATMs dispense the higher denomination $200 000 and $100 000,
although the limit is $8 million a transaction.
"Some businesses no longer accept these $1 000 notes," said Ignatius
Phiri, lugging two heavy bundles of the notes, totalling the maximum $20
million he had withdrawn. "I know I will have problems with kombi crews and
Bus fares can now cost as much as $500 000 for one trip.
Nyarai Chimhanda of Belvedere urged the banks to take urgent steps to
avert a looming crisis ahead of the festive season.
"Imagine one's mood if they queued for the money to buy groceries and
then from there start queuing for each and every item for their Christmas
basket?" she said. "That would be enough to kill the Christmas spirit."
Efforts to get comment from Bankers' Association of Zimbabwe president
Pindie Nyandoro were all in vain.
BY SANDRA MANDIZVIDZA
SINIKIWE Nyikayaramba, a Nyanga Miss Rural contestant whose picture
appeared on the front page of The Standard, alleged last week how she was
indecently assaulted and photographed naked after being promised "big
international modelling contracts".
In the picture, she appears dressed only in shorts, with her breasts
barely covered by leaves.
Angered by the publication, the 18-year-old last week said she felt
betrayed and abused by the pageant organiser, Sipho Mazibuko-Ncube.
Nyikayaramba said she felt she had no option but to expose the
circumstances in which the picture was taken. She said there were many other
pictures, including one where she posed in the nude in front of a Chinese
man introduced to her as "Mr Wang".
Nyikayaramba said she had "run away" from Mazibuko, having joined the
Miss Rural pageant in 2005 at 15 years, while at school in Nyanga.
She had never fancied herself as a model, her preferred career being
that of a lawyer. All that changed when she met Mazibuko. She says Mazibuko
told her she could become an international supermodel if she joined the Miss
"What Mazibuko wants, Mazibuko will get. I did not want to be a model
but I ended up being a disciple of hers for the past two years," she said.
Though she did not win in the Miss Rural finals held in 2005,
Nyikayaramba said she kept "hanging on" with Mazibuko because she kept
reminding her of the big, major international contracts awaiting her.
During 2005 and 2006 she did not pose naked for pictures, until
October 13 this year. She said while at a house in Avondale, a Chinese man
identified only as Wang, reportedly from the Chinese embassy, arrived with a
She said she and other girls were told they had to be photographed if
they hoped to land fat contracts in China. She said they were assured by
Mazibuko the pictures would never be published in Zimbabwe.
At first, she said she was photographed wearing shorts, with her
But Mazibuko insisted she be photographed in the nude if she wanted
that big contract in China, she said.
"Mazibuko said I was too dark and if I wanted the pictures to be 'nice'
I should remove all my clothes and not be shy. She would tell me how to pose
and 'Mr Wang' would fondle my breasts while pretending to tell me how to
pose," said Nyikayaramba, near tears.
"She told me the pictures would never be published in Zimbabwe and
that I was going to be paid," she said.
"I was never given this money," she said.
Nyikayaramba said despite the abuse she remained with Mazibuko.
"My mother is in South Africa and my father in Mozambique and I had no
one to turn to. I was relying only on Mazibuko who had come to collect me in
South Africa where I was staying with my mother."
In Bulawayo, she said she and the other girls slept in the garage at
Mazibuko's house and most of the time would spend the whole day loitering in
town without eating anything.
But after The Standard exposed the abuse of the girls in Masvingo,
Nyikayaramba and a Chinhoyi contestant, Tariro Chiguvi, ran away from
Mazibuko in Harare and sought help from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
"We want to go home but we can't, knowing that Mazibuko is out free
and is continuing to abuse other girls. We want her to be questioned,"
The girls are now living with the former patron of the pageant, Susan
Jason, in Harare.
Jason said she wanted to put the girls in the "right hands", so they
could go home safely.
"They have been abused enough. What I want for them is to be under the
right people, so that they can safely go home. I have also talked to Girl
Child Network who came here and talked to the girls. I hope something will
work out," she said.
Mazibuko told The Standard last week that she was looking for
Nyikayaramba and Chiguvi because she wanted to take them back to their
She admitted having hired a Chinese man to take pictures of
Nyikayaramba, claiming the pictures secured her a modeling contract in South
Nyikayaramba has said she refused to accept the alleged contract.
Efforts to get a comment from Wang were fruitless.
An official at the Chinese embassy said on Friday: "There are many Mr
When Mazibuko and her contestants came to The Standard offices seeking
to prevent the publication of the story exposing the pageant, a Chinese man
arrived later asking to see her. He left shortly afterwards.
BY WALTER MARWIZI
THERESA Makone declared yesterday no one in Morgan Tsvangirai's
faction of the MDC could stop her from assuming the leadership of the Women's
A defiant Makone acknowledged there were problems caused by the
dismissal of Lucia Matibenga but stated her controversial election was
"water under the bridge".
She said she was aware there were youths and men in the party who
opposed her election but stressed that the issue only concerned "women".
The party's national executive deferred discussion on her
controversial election over a week ago amid protests from senior party
The officials were unhappy at the way an extraordinary congress for
women was held at a restaurant in Bulawayo.
Party chairperson, Lovemore Moyo, is expected to explain to the
national executive how Makone's election, slammed by women's observer groups
as falling far short of SADC principles and guidelines, was handled.
But Makone said yesterday she had already started working in her new
post, despite pressure from party officials disgruntled by her appointment.
She told journalists the pending discussion on her election by the
national executive was a mere "formality" and described suggestions that her
election could be reversed as "pie in the sky".
She said no organ in the MDC could decide her fate, adding this was
purely an issue of women.
But a party official warned yesterday the national council had power
to reverse Makone's election if it was found to be flawed.
Her rival, Matibenga said yesterday Makone was free to declare that
she was in charge of the Women's Assembly but her legitimacy remained in
doubt until the issue of the violation of the constitution was addressed.
BY OUR STAFF
POLICE on Friday morning arrested two newspaper chief executives in
connection with price increases, in a move slammed as "vexatious
interference", The Standard can report.
The CEO of the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard newspapers, Raphael
Khumalo, was taken to Police General Headquarters by two detectives to
answer questions in connection with price increases at the newspapers.
Jacob Chisese, the CEO of the Financial Gazette, was also taken in for
At PGHQ they were interviewed by Superintendent Nzombe and eight other
officers. They were asked why they were charging cover prices (Z$600 000)
not approved by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission.
They explained that the cost of newsprint, film, printing plates and
fuel made it impossible for the papers to survive without increasing their
cover prices. They pointed out that the State-owned Herald had been given
permission to raise its price even though it received subsidised fuel and
was located in the Central Business District, where there were no power
Independent newspapers have to carry the cost of diesel for generators
during increasingly frequent power cuts at their printers and buy fuel for
vehicles at the market rate of $1.3 million a litre.
The two CEOs were then told to sign a "memorandum of warning" saying
they should not increase their cover prices unless given permission to do so
by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission.
If they refused to sign, they were told, they would be incarcerated
over the weekend and brought before a magistrate on Monday who would order
their prices to be slashed to those charged before the latest increase. They
signed after taking legal advice and were released.
Iden Wetherell, Group Editor, Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard,
said: "This is a vexatious interference with the business of publishing and
a threat to the viability of our newspapers given the rapidly escalating
print costs which the government has done little to control."
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Dr Gideon Gono, advised the
government a fortnight ago that newspaper prices should not be controlled
because they were not basic commodities whose prices are gazetted.
The assault on independent newspapers comes in the wake of the
appointment of Godwills Masimirembwa to chair the National Incomes and
Pricing Commission. Masimirembwa is a regular columnist of the
government-controlled Herald newspaper.
BY WALTER MARWIZI
DIDYMUS Mutasa has admitted he spent time with Nomatter Tagarira, the
alleged spirit medium, but denied performing bizarre rituals to help him
succeed President Robert Mugabe.
The Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement in the President's Office said it would be "stupid" for him to
want to be president, as he had "privately and publicly" supported Mugabe's
candidature in the 2008 election.
"As (Zanu PF) Secretary for Administration, which is a very important
post in the ruling party, let me categorically state that there is no
vacancy in the Presidency, that is the seat of President and the two
Vice-Presidents . . ." Mutasa said.
He said Jeremiah Mambo Jenami, a member of the spirit medium's crew,
who alleged Mutasa performed the rituals in Rusape "knows deep down his
heart why he is telling such lies".
"Those who wish to brew political storms by propagating lies are doing
so at their own peril and should channel that energy instead to productive
use," Mutasa said.
As to his alleged involvement in Maningwa, Mutasa confirmed he was one
of the ministers who visited the "oil mountain" where Tagarira, a Grade III
dropout, hoodwinked government officials into believing diesel could gush
out of rocks.
Mutasa said while it turned out the diesel claims were a "hoax", it
was unfair to criticise him for entertaining the alleged spirit medium.
"The Chinhoyi diesel hoax was not a personal expedition by me," he
said. "Rather, it was a national exercise mandated by the ruling party's
politburo and I was one of those selected to be on that research team."
He said he had to be a participant observer if he was to come up with
an informed decision that would be communicated to the politburo which set
up a task force to look into the claims by Tagarira. That involved working
judiciously, Mutasa said.
"As a research team we did not manufacture that spirit medium; we saw
her there . . . So, for others to blame us for the spirit medium's
shortcomings is unfair."
Asked why he never doubted from the start that diesel could not gush
out of the rocks, Mutasa said he did right to listen to the alleged spirit
From the days of the liberation struggle, he said, spirit mediums
offered guidance and counselling to freedom fighters and "could manage
miracles and strange happenings" during the war.
"Anyone who was or claims to be part of this country's liberation will
tell you of the very important roles performed by our spirit mediums,"
"So, personally when the diesel issue first came to mind, I dedicated
myself to being the proverbial doubting Thomas. I wanted to see in order to
believe and paid particular attention to detail during the whole exercise
for the nation expected nothing but gospel truth on the matter. That truth
could not be ascertained if I had developed half-heartedness or if I had
dismissed the spirit medium at a glance."
Mutasa said the alleged spirit medium performed all her rituals in
their presence and different people had different perceptions. Some believed
them, others did not, he said.
But Mutasa said after "a strict observational and participatory
methodology" they came to the conclusion that there was no diesel in the
Maningwa hills. This led to the arrest of the alleged spirit medium and her
"I will continue to serve this country and the ruling Zanu PF party as
long as I can breathe and will not shy away from performing duties assigned
to me by His Excellency (Mugabe) or the country, lest detractors think
otherwise. To me Zimbabwe and Zanu PF come first, personalities later,"
BY OUR STAFF
BULAWAYO - A government minister last week blamed the poor performance
by beneficiaries of the chaotic land reform programme on the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC)'s refusal to endorse the resettlement exercise,
which he said amounted to sabotage.
Economic Development Minister, Sylvester Nguni, claimed the spirited
opposition by the MDC had affected the new farmers' confidence to produce
for the nation.
He said this amounted to sabotage.
Zimbabwe has suffered food shortages after the government embarked on
the controversial land reform programme, which disrupted agricultural
But Nguni told a pre-budget seminar that the "success" of the land
reform programme had been reversed by the MDC, which "demoralised the
"The reason why the nation is facing food shortages is because of
opposition to the land reform programme by the MDC," Nguni said to bursts of
laughter from MPs.
"This resulted in beneficiaries losing confidence to produce food for
The United Nations World Food Programme last week announced it had
bought more than 35 000 tonnes of maize for the country, to feed the
Zimbabwe has said it is importing thousands of tonnes of maize from
Zambia, Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania while negotiations with several
other countries in Southern Africa for more maize imports were underway.
But the maize imports seem to be failing to satisfy the rising demand,
which has sparked countrywide maize-meal shortages, especially in the
southern parts of the country.
Nguni's presentation was on National Economic Development Strategy:
Challenges for Economic Turnaround.
He said: "The MDC opposition to it (land reform) demoralized most
farmers and this is viewed as sabotage since we now face a food crisis . .
The US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service earlier
this year forecast Zimbabwe's maize harvest at 850 000 tonnes in 2007, less
than half the amount needed to meet domestic consumption.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Food
Programme have said that more than four million Zimbabweans, about a third
of the population, would need food aid this year.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
VISIBLY frail and coughing persistently, Sheila Gomo* (12), sat on the
pavement looking at her colleagues as they begged for alms from motorists at
the traffic lights.
She had neither the strength nor the zeal to join them, although she
too was hungry. Untouched by the girl's sorry state, people passed by
carrying on with their own business.
Most of them believe it is the government's responsibility to look
after such children.
The government admits this, but a spokesman says the relevant
department is woefully under-funded. "To be honest with you, it has
collapsed. It's not functioning any more," he said of the Department of
Since 2000 most of the government's key sectors have been deprived of
much-needed funding as the economy has suffered in the wake of the land
To most adults, Sheila was no different from the hundreds of street
kids of the city, now dismissed as a nuisance by shoppers and the few
tourists visiting a country considered by a number of Western states to be
an unsafe destination for their citizens.
Yet one sympathetic passer-by picked up Sheila and took her to Streets
Ahead, a welfare organisation that helps abused and disadvantaged children.
At the centre, it was established she had lost her virginity through
sexual abuse and was infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Duduzile Moyo, director of Streets Ahead, said Sheila is now being
kept at a "safe house" in an upmarket suburb in the city. She is being
treated at the Harare Central Hospital.
"She is recovering well," said Moyo. "She has been going to the
hospital for the past three weeks."
Her case was reported at Mbare police station and the alleged
perpetrator - a 22-year-old living rough on the streets - was arrested.
Police investigations are still underway.
Sheila's case is a drop in the ocean of the many cases of sexual abuse
of street children, estimated at 12 000 countrywide, according the Child
Protection Society (CPS).
Moyo said cases of the physical and sexual abuse of street children
were prevalent as people, mostly those in influential positions, take
advantage of their desperation.
She said although girls were more susceptible to abuse, boys were
being sexually victimised as well.
"This year alone, there were at least three Aids-related deaths on the
streets," she said.
Moyo claimed prominent businesspeople and politicians took advantage
of the darkness of the night to abuse both boys and girls roaming the
streets in search of comfort and help.
"The problem is that the children do not want to name their abusers
because they are paid a lot of money to keep quiet," she said.
CPS advocacy manager, Reuben Musarandega, confirmed the high
prevalence of sexual abuse of street children.
"Of great concern to us is that we don't have the actual figures," he
There has been no proper survey to determine the extent of the
problem, he said.
Ellen Simati (16), operating around a hotel, said she could not afford
to report her "lovers" to the police because they paid her well.
"The police don't give us money," said Ellen, who claim-ed her parents
were in Epworth. "At times I go home to Epworth but I like it here because I
can get good food every day."
Moyo of Streets Head said most of the children do not see sexual
exploitation as abuse because of the money and food they receive in return.
"To them it's a way of life. It's normal," she said.
Between June last year and June this year, Streets Ahead has assisted
and counselled at least 1 040 street children.
But some, she said, ran away after a few days because they enjoyed the
"liberty" of the streets.
"You give them shelter and good food but they always run away. We need
a more comprehensive and all-encompassing approach to address the problem,"
Without addressing the root causes, she said, children, driven by
extreme poverty, would continue to fill the streets of the cities and towns,
harassing shoppers for food and money.
A number of street children have graduated into "street adults" and
have started their own families on the streets.
The families gather during the evenings and disperse to their various
"working points" in the morning.
Social commentators say the solution to the street children problem
lies in addressing the social and economic crisis forcing them onto the
Sociologist and former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor, Gordon
Chavunduka, said the abuse children suffer inflicts permanent "scars" on
Reactions to street children, said Chavunduka, have tended to be
"punitive", while their anti-social and delinquent behaviour is not viewed
in its proper social and psychological context.
"The children need rehabilitation," he said. "Then, they should be
reunited with their families and relatives. Taking them into homes, as is
the current scenario, will not help."
Although there are several laws and conventions that protect children
from abuse, they are never implemented. The laws enable the prosecution of
parents, relatives or guardians who mistreat or abuse children.
The Children's Act of 2002 criminalizes the neglect of children as
well as protecting them from any form of labour that interferes with the
normal development of a child.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of Children and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
"But there is a gap in the implementation of the laws and policies,"
says Musarandega of the CPS. "The laws are not being implemented. They are
just on paper."
Chavunduka blames the breakdown of the social fabric for the increase
of street children.
"It is society which is at fault and, the government in particular,"
Chavunduka said .
Efforts to get a comment from the Department of Social Welfare
director, Sydney Mhishi, were fruitless as he was said to be attending
meetings last week.
An official with the Department of Social Welfare in the Ministry of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare said the unit had neither the
staff nor the resources to carry out its duties effectively.
"The department is under-funded and most of the social welfare
officers have left for greener pastures," he said. "To be honest with you it
has collapsed, it's not functioning any more."
It appears the government under pressure from the worsening
socio-political and economic situation, has shifted focus to other pressing
issues than that of the welfare of children.
Unless government implements its laws, children like Sheila will
continue to be abused without recourse to justice. Even if justice prevails
later, it would not replace lost virginity and the trauma of sexual abuse.
* not her real name.
By Bertha Shoko
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children's
Fund (UNICEF), together with government has launched a strategy to prevent
maternal deaths and neonatal deaths in response to the high mortality
figures in Zimbabwe.
According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS), compiled
by population experts in UNFPA, there are 555 maternal deaths for every 100
live births recorded in Zimbabwe in the period 2005-6.
The lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy related complications in
Zimbabwe is one in 16 compared with one in more than 4 000 in high income
UNFPA defines maternal death as the "death of a woman while pregnant
or within 42 days after termination of pregnancy from any cause related to
or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management".
This includes death as a complication of abortion at any stage of
Neonatal mortality rate was standing at 24 deaths per 1 000 live
births in 2005 and these are infant deaths that occur within 28 days after
In response to these high maternal and neonatal deaths the Ministry of
Health and Child Welfare came up with a strategy, contained in a 40-page
booklet, Zimbabwe Maternal and Neonatal Health Roadmap (MHN Roadmap).
The period of implementation for this strategy will be 2007-2015.
The MHN roadmap is a national framework for planned activities aimed
at "significantly improving maternal and newborn health services at
institutional and programme levels".
The roadmap is also a build up on the agreements and objectives of
international conferences and meetings that sought to address the
shortfalls in the health systems of many countries where maternal and infant
health is concerned.
These agreements include the Safe Motherhood Initiative (1987), the
International Conference on Population and Development Programme of
action (1994) and the Millennium Summit, which led to the birth of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Improving maternal health and reducing child mortality are MDGs four
and five respectively. The Four Pillars of safe motherhood and newborn
health concepts will, among other issues, guide health workers in the
implementation of the MHN road
These are: access to; family planning for mothers to help them space
their children, depending on their health, antenatal care where high risk
pregnancies can be monitored closely, clean and safe delivery for the mother
and new-born and essential obstetric and neonatal care.
Speaking at the recent launch of the road map, UNFPA Zimbabwe
Representative Bruce Campbell, said more than half of maternal and neonatal
"We know what needs to be done," said Campbell. "Even countries with
limited resources can afford what needs to be done."
"We need to do three things: first we must support every woman in
making and exercising her choice to be pregnant.
"Secondly we need to provide every pregnant woman with access to clean
and safe delivery. Lastly we must make sure that every woman and every
new-born has access to emergency life-saving care when needed."
Delivering the keynote address, the Minister of Health and Child
Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said it was commendable that Zimbabwe was
one of the few countries that have managed to come up with concrete plans to
reduce maternal and neonatal deaths.
Parirenyatwa said maternal and new-born mortality "constitutes a
silent emergency" in Zimbabwe and called on government's "key partners" to
support the road map.
Said Parirenyatwa: "For us to obtain positive gains as we implement
the country specific road map, we will need a strong determination on the
part of the government, the key partners willing to come on board to support
the interventions agreed, the professional groups themselves in their
various settings to lead the way in investing in the health of the women and
BY Jennifer Dube
THE failure by the government and business to agree on a pricing model
has undermined wage negotiations since the third quarter, raising the
spectre of a year without a 13th cheque for workers.
Last week, in an interview, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
acting secretary general Japhet Moyo, said all current indications were that
most companies might not pay out the 13th cheque.
"Negotiations have been very difficult since the third quarter and
most of our affiliates are yet to conclude negotiations for the fourth
quarter," he said. "Employers have so far been failing to award wage and
salary increases. Workers do not think they will get any bonus this year."
In a written response to questions from Standardbusiness, the
Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe president Johnson Manyakara, said most
employers had embraced the idea of a productivity bonus in place of the 13th
cheque or a Christmas bonus.
"By definition, a productivity bonus is a 'Thank you for a job well
done'. It therefore gets paid when a company has performed satisfactorily.
"Productivity and viability are two sides of the same coin (and) yes,
many businesses are facing serious viability problems due to a myriad of
Among others, he cited non-viable pricing, inability to re-stock
following the price blitz, acute foreign currency shortages and poor
capacity utilization due to an acute shortage of foreign currency for key
inputs and spare parts, disruptive power outages, erratic supply of coal,
water shortages, particularly in Bulawayo, erratic supply and the high cost
"Individual businesses have been affected differently. It therefore
follows that some businesses will be able to pay a Productivity Bonus while
others will not be able to afford it since they are battling with survival
issues," Manyakara said.
He said employers were committed to paying out the 13th cheque and
workers deserved it, but only where businesses were performing well.
Traditionally, employers pay out the bonus, equivalent to one's
monthly salary, along with the November salary in appreciation of workers'
Moyo said the fact that most workers' contracts did not specify
entitlement to a bonus made this month-end look even bleaker.
"We negotiate for the 13th cheque every year and that can spell
disaster this year, given the difficulties encountered in negotiating for
salaries during the year," he said.
Since the beginning of the year, the majority of workers clamoured for
a living wage, one pegged on the poverty datum line.
But most employers failed to award better remuneration citing the
deteriorating economic environment.
The situation was worsened by the government's price blitz in July.
Employers said they could not award hefty pay hikes because the blitz meant
they were operating at a loss.
"We hope employers will not try to use the price blitz excuse again
this time," said Moyo.
"We believe companies were operating profitably before the blitz and
have reserves to dip into and award bonuses to their workers who managed to
make them survive when things were so tough."
By Our Staff
THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority plans to re-engage European buyers who
pulled out of the recent edition of the Zimbabwe International Travel Expo
In an interview last week, ZTA marketing and communications director,
Givemore Chidzidzi, said the authority planned to re-engage the buyers
during the oncoming World Travel Market to be held in London from tomorrow.
"We have to reassure them that Zimbabwe is the safest destination in
the world and allay whatever fears they may have had," he said.
About 70 European international buyers, particularly from the UK last
month withdrew their participation from the ZITE for "political reasons".
ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, criticised the buyers
then, saying Zimbabwe would not die on their behalf.
"It is he who eats poison that dies. So it is wrong to assume that
Zimbabwe will die. We should not mourn either because this suicidal death
shall not be our own funeral," he said. "We love them, of course, but our
love for them shall not make us die on their behalf. So we say rest in peace
Chidzidzi will lead a 20-member tourism delegation to the show which
runs until Thursday this week.
The delegation will include representatives of the ZTA, Air Zimbabwe
and the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
Other members of the delegation are private sector companies involved
in various tourism services, including car hire, tour operators, activity
and accommodation services.
Chidzidzi said the ZTA would follow up on buyers who attended the
recent edition of Travel Expo.
"We will use the opportunity to showcase our tourism product to
international tourists in attendance and hope to persuade them to visit
Zimbabwe, through presenting the country in our own way and creating
awareness about the real situation prevailing in the country", he said.
He said ZTA also hoped to conclude lucrative deals which may translate
into groups of people visiting the country, conferences and flow of foreign
investment into the embattled industry.
Fondly regarded as The World's Biggest Travel Show, the WTM attracts
exhibitors and tourists from all over the world.
By our staff
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe Governor's Number One enemy, inflation, seems
to be getting the better of him, with indications that it has wiped out the
value of his recently unveiled gold support price, leading to fresh cries of
discontent among miners.
Gideon Gono last month became popular with miners when he increased
the gold support price from $3 million a gramme to $5 million.
But the Zimbabwe Miners' Federation last week said the facility was
"now worth nothing".
In an interview, ZMF president George Kawonza said his organisation
would soon return to the negotiating table in anticipation of another upward
"The $5 million is no longer enough and this is posing serious
viability problems." he said. "The way the value of the dollar is going
down, we may have to close shop and look for other ways of survival."
Miners constantly pressed for a better support price for the greater
part of this year, something which necessitated a successive review from
$350 000 a gramme to $1 million, then $3 million during the first half
Presenting his mid-year monetary policy statement last month, Gono
also announced that backdated to last August, the support price increased
from $3 million a gramme to $3.5 million while that for September was raised
from $3.5 million to $4 million a gramme.
"As monetary authorities, we call upon all gold producers to take
advantage of these raises and increase their deliveries to the Reserve
Bank," Gono said then.
His call came against a record of constantly declining deliveries to
the central bank amid speculation that some miners were resorting to
side-marketing in search of better returns.
BY NDAMU SANDU
HALF of the country's registered tourist accommodation facilities have
applied for grading by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) as the date
draws near for the 2010 World Cup soccer showcase in South Africa.
Karikoga Kaseke, ZTA group CEO said of the 600 registered facilities,
only 50% had applied for grading when the exercise began this year.
"To date at least 140 facilities have been graded. Some made the grade
and others have been given time to upgrade their standards," said Kaseke.
The grading consists of inspection, assessment and evaluation of the
physical structures, the equipment and, more importantly the quality,
diversity and standard of services.
Factors considered when grading include the physical environment;
general outlook; public areas; guest room size and facilities; general
services; and management and staff.
The grading comes at a time when MATCH, the accommodation company
owned by FIFA, soccer governing body, has said it will offer accommodation
contracts to facilities which are graded in line with international
"They (MATCH) will only contract graded facilities. We therefore urge
the accommodation providers to apply for grading so that they benefit when
2010 comes," said Kaseke.
MATCH requires 55 000 rooms for the 2010 World Cup. South Africa has
said it will provide 35 000 rooms, leaving a deficit of 20 000 rooms to be
shared by neighbouring countries.
MATCH has finished the inspection of hotels in Botswana and South
Africa. In Zimbabwe, the hotels in Victoria Falls were inspected but the
FIFA accommodation company will inspect hotels in Harare and Bulawayo.
ZTA last Monday awarded grades to 61 accommodation facilities,
including lodges, self-catering accommodation and hotels.
Tourism experts say the grading of the facilities is "a step in the
right direction for the industry
"It's a step for us in the industry, said Chipo Mtasa, president of
the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism. "Quite a number of establishments were
waiting anxiously to know what their status is."
Mtasa, who heads Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG), said graded facilities
have to maintain standards.
"Grading is one thing; maintaining the standards is something else,
let's maintain it," the RTG boss said.
Cornelius Nyahunda, the newly-elected president of the Hospitality
Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) told Standardbusiness last week the grading
was welcome as it ensured that standards were maintained.
"It (grading) helps in managing standards of destinations. It makes
the whole experience in all our hotels standard," he said.
Nyahunda took over the reins at HAZ last week, replacing Fungai
Mutseyekwa who is moving out of the hospitality sector in a career change.
BY our staff
HEADS will roll at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) as the
parastatal embarks on another restructuring exercise to conform with
Dr Gibson Mandishona, the agency's board chairman, told a
parliamentary portfolio committee last week that Zimra was abandoning a
restructuring barely a year after it had been put in place.
Mandishona told the Public Accounts Committee that a restructuring
introduced in February was defective and top-heavy.
The restructuring brought in five commissioners - Operations, Human
Resources and Administration, Investigations and Technical, Corporate
Services and Finance and Planning. Mandishona said this was a joke in the
region as the revenue collection agency had an organogram based on support
"We are the joke of the region," he said. "We were doing something
which was out of context, not only in the region but also internationally."
Mandishona said the management had "misled the board" on the new
structure, claiming it was in line with regional trends.
He said: "We had full trust in the management. The board had no
expertise in customs, we were depending on the technical expertise of
Mabvuku-Tafara legislator Timothy Mubawu disagreed: "In all
truthfulness and fairness, you were acting as a board. I think we have to be
honourable and take our creation ."
Mandishona was asked how many workers would be retrenched when the
agency reverted to the pre-February 2007 status. The chairman said the
number was low.
When Zimra restructured to five commissioners from the original three,
21 workers lost their jobs.
Gershem Pasi, the commissioner-general said reverting to the old
structure would pose many human resource challenges.
He said as of March, 93 managers including himself, were put on fixed
term contracts while non-managerial staff were graded as revenue officers.
Pasi said in line with the old structure non-managerial staff would be
graded into customs and taxes departments.
Lawmakers said changing the contracts of workers would result in
mounting legal suits.
"Unfixing a fixed contract is costly," said Fortune Charumbira,
President of the Chiefs Council. "There is going to be interesting
Zimra is set to revert to the old structure where there will be two
departments - Taxes and Customs - headed by commissioners. The two
commissioners will report to the Commissioner General.
Zimra was formed in 2001 following the merger of the Department of
Taxes and Department of Customs, in line with international trends.
Analysts say the retrenchments would chew up what remains of in Zimra's
coffers which reportedly dried up in August.
Zimra workers went on strike in September over a 5 000 percent salary
By Alistair Thomson
DAKAR - Africa needs more investment in farming to cope with soaring
food prices due in part to growing biofuel production in the West, but it
could profit from rising demand for alternative energy, an IMF official has
The explosion of biofuels production from food crops, subsidised by
some Western countries as a less environmentally damaging alternative to
fossil fuels, has contributed to a surge in food prices with grains and
other crops at record highs.
"The priorities for Africa are adapting to this new situation,"
Charles Collyns, deputy director of the International Monetary Fund research
"The reality is that food prices are going to be higher going forward
than they have been in the past. This creates both problems and
opportunities," he said.
Collyns was speaking after presenting the IMF's regional economic
outlook to government officials and civil society representatives in Senegal's
capital Dakar, several of whom expressed concern over rising food prices in
Africa despite generally benign economic fundamentals.
"These problems are not given adequate attention in the West, but when
one comes to Senegal and one visits Africa then it becomes very clear that
this is a major issue," he said.
Besides demand from the biofuels industry, record high oil prices were
also driving up food costs due to transport and other related costs, and
this was hitting consumers in poor countries the hardest, he said.
African governments should focus more on developing farming, which not
only provides food but helps improve incomes in rural areas where many of
Africa's poor live, Collyns said.
"It's important to build up infrastructure, to build up institutions
to allow these people to participate in the global economy, to take benefit
from the higher prices that are coming from agricultural goods to produce
new products, both for domestic consumption but also for export," he said.
Collyns criticised Western governments who subsidise biofuels
production, saying some operations did not significantly reduce emissions of
greenhouse gases, and hurt poor countries by contributing to food price
"In the IMF we are also worried about the impacts of policies to
produce biofuels. A third of the increased demand for grains in recent years
is coming from the use of grains for biofuels," he told delegates.
"This is very inefficient because in fact there are other ways of
producing biofuels. . . using lower-tier agricultural crops," he said.
With adequate investment, African countries could benefit from new
biofuels technologies by growing sugar or possibly the jatropha plant,
He urged Western governments to open up their markets to biofuels
imports rather than subsidising domestic production.
THE University of Zimbabwe is apparently in no hurry to speed up
renovations of halls of residence to enable students to return and live on
the campus, fuelling speculation there is more to the closure of the
accommodation than meets the eye.
Student accommodation at UZ was closed at the beginning of July
following disturbances. The crisis the closure of the eight halls of
residence has precipitated is unprecedented. More than 5 600 students, most
of them with no immediate families in Harare or from poor rural backgrounds,
were thrown out of student accommodation on the campus and are in a
While the students' determination to pursue their studies is
remarkable as evidenced by the hardships they endure daily, the conditions
they have been condemned to, will have an enormous adverse impact on their
There are disturbing reports that as many as 1 200 students are
sleeping rough, in night clubs and at the railway station waiting rooms in
The majority of them can be seen along Sam Nujoma Street every morning
or evening walking to and from the UZ in groups.
Anyone with the interests of the students' education at heart would
have moved speedily to renovate the accommodation so that those housed at
the campus would move back in the shortest possible time.
But that has not happened and a tour of the UZ shows there is no
renovation activity, especially around the halls of residence. The absence
of any heightened work suggests several things. It is possible that the
administration at the UZ is using the excuse of damage to the student
accommodation when they have no money to pay contractors. General telephone
lines to the UZ have not been working for some time and the explanation is
that services were cut because of non-payment.
It is ironic that no funds could be made available for essential work,
when the institution has just taken delivery of a new white Toyota Prado. An
argument could be raised that the vehicle was budgeted for a long time ago,
but it would have been important that the issue of student accommodation was
attended to expeditiously so that it does not appear that the administration
is preoccupied about looking after itself at the expense of students'
By ignoring the plight of students, the UZ is denying them the right
to shelter and a conducive learning environment.
What is of concern is that the Minister of Higher and Tertiary
Education, the political opposition, civil society organisations promoting
students' rights and education, as well as parents of the affected children
appear to view what is happening at the UZ as acceptable. Nothing could be
further from the truth. It is as if the administration would be happy if the
closure of the halls of residence continued.
But students paid for their accommodation, and presumably for meals.
It is doubtful whether the UZ has reimbursed the students for services the
institution is not providing.
What is happening at the UZ is a disgrace. The oldest institution of
higher learning in the country does not deserve this. It should be providing
exemplary leadership to other universities. Instead, it is punishing
students, the majority of them innocent. At what point is the government
going to intervene, or is it comfortable with dispersal of students because
this serves its political interests?
The government has always suspected students of being sympathetic to
the opposition. It is tempting to believe students are being punished for
sundayopinion by Bill Saidi
ASKED who, from world history, they would most like to interview, a
couple of Americans chose Jesus Christ and Albert Einstein.
And what would you ask Jesus of Nazareth? Personally, I would ask Him
if He had any help He could offer us to recover from the excesses of this
And how to resist temptation without spending 40 days and 40 nights in
the wilderness, as I am slightly claustrophobic.
Nothing I have read in the Bible has helped so far. The sermons with
which we are bombarded every Sunday on state television are as effective as
an ancient fly swatter.
I suppose one reason could be that some of it sounds too soppy. You
wonder if the authors believe they are already in The Hereafter.
I would ask Einstein, the father of Relativity, how we could apply his
theory to end poverty in Africa, and force its leaders not to gorge
themselves on the fat of the land.
For Marx and Engels: Weren't their theories of equality as haywire as
the Bible's proposition of a life of plenty only after death?
For Zimbabwe's famous departed: Mbuya Nehanda, for instance, could be
asked if being a spinster hardened rather than hindered her resolve to fight
the white settlers, which war her side lost dismally?
Also, does she believe the Domestic Violence Act conforms to our
culture, which teems with so many male chauvinist elements even the passing
of this law was accompanied by the most scurrilous comments from a number of
Would she be terribly upset if women were given the legal right to
punish their husbands, physically, if they strayed? Would she support their
I would personally be very eager to interrogate Charles Mzingeli about
his brief flirtation with communism.
The 2007 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Doris Lessing, in her
autobiography, Under My Skin, devotes a section of the book, on her stay in
the then Southern Rhodesia, to her membership of the Communist Party.
She speaks glowingly of Mzingeli's attendance at some of their
meetings in "white" Salisbury.
I met Mzingeli long after he and Lessing met at those clandestine
meetings, and Lessing a few years before the country she wrote of in her
first novel, The Grass Is Singing, had turned into Zimbabwe.
The book was made into a riveting film, starring Karen Allen. Vincent
Mijoni, a colleague with whom I worked in Salisbury and Lusaka, had a small
role in the picture, filmed in Zambia.
After independence, Lessing paid regular visits to Zimbabwe, some of
them recalled in her fascinating non-fiction book, African Laughter.
Like many others who expected the new Zimbabwe to be a model of
tolerance among races, she was critical of the ham-fisted manner in which
all races were being treated by the new government.
Lessing met with Zimbabwean writers during her visits, including an
address to the Zimbabwe Writers' Union in Harare.
Still sprightly at 88 years, Lessing was reportedly "out shopping"
when the announcement was made that she had won the Prize.
Those who know her were relieved she had won the prize - at long last.
What I would ask Mzingeli, with whom I had many useful chats at his
shop in Harare Township in the 1950s, would be whether he cringed at
communism because it was not exactly African, its ideology of equality
seeming to ignore the work ethic of the African peasant: you reap what you
Others I would want to talk to: Herbert Chitepo, Joshua Nkomo,
Masotsha Ndlovu, Josiah Maluleke and Kufakunesu Mhizha.
My question: Are you proud with what the country has become? Who do
you blame? How do we get rid of this lump of dirt on which we are sitting?
An introspective look would not necessarily be a morbid exercise
culminating in an indictment of the leadership. It would be a cold,
calculated and candid analysis of how our dream turned into this nightmare.
There would be an acknowledgment of culpability: we cannot blame it
all on outsiders.
After 1980, we were in charge. Can any external force be blamed for
Gukurahundi? A number of outsiders may have decided to score their own
points through that bloody internecine conflict, but they had not created
Others I would talk to about all this would include Eddison Zvobgo and
Garfield Todd: if they had somehow managed to be influential after 1980,
what would they have done to avoid the disastrous pay-out to the war
veterans and the equally catastrophic use of the ex-fighters in the bloody,
chaotic and politically perilous land reform programme?
My final question would be to the spirit medium and prophet Chaminuka
himself: "Can you get us out of this mess quickly - or are you too scared of
sundayview by Judith Todd
THE possibility of attacks by our powerful neighbour South Africa
seemed ever increasing, and so was Zimbabwe's state of anxiety. One night I
suffered vivid and frightening dreams of falling upon the preparations of an
imminent South African attack.
There were scores of young whites, male and female, in camouflage
uniform, heavily armed, drinking and eating braaivleis before the sortie. At
first I came upon them rather as if I were in a boat looking down into the
water, where I could see them clearly below.
Then I found myself amongst them, and knew that all was lost. But they
started quarrelling and disagreeing amongst each other, and I felt slightly
hopeful of escape. Then I woke up.
That day I went to see someone at Harare Central Prison. He was in a
bad way, and so was the man in the next booth. Maybe a lot of the prisoners
were in a state of shock or special dejection because of the seven hangings
in the past fortnight. Prisoners were now day by day, night by night, living
a nightmare from which, unlike me, they were unable to wake-up. I wondered
if, post-independence, they still stand to be condemned en route to the
gallows as they used to under Smith.
Thursday 21 May was full of sombre moments. Allister Sparks called
from Johannesburg and said everything was absolutely terrible. I thought he
was referring to the bombings in Johannesburg the day before, the probable
aftermath and of course the heightened risk for us all in the Frontline
States. But he wasn't. He had returned home from Zimbabwe to be absolutely
shattered, as he put it, by the news that his wife Sue had cancer. She was
to undergo surgery the following Tuesday.
In the evening, the ANC's Kingsley Mamabolo brought more supplies of
food for Katherine Gardiner and Richard Jurgens, and we persuaded him to
stay and eat with us. He cheered them up, as they had quite understandably
been suffering from what Richard called "the heebies" after South African
attacks in Harare. So had I.
On Sunday 17 May, there had been an enormous explosion at 5.10AM.
As I woke, I could just imagine a building lifting up in the air and
then settling down again, full of crushed people. I was anxious about some
friends, including the Brickhills, but knew it would be unwise to speed off
in my car when the security forces themselves would be rushing around. I set
off at about 6.45 and checked on a number of houses, which were all right,
and then went to the ANC offices just up the road from where the Brickhills
lived, and realised that was where the attack had taken place. Not much
damage was done and no one was hurt.
Tim Leech and two other journalists were arrested. I was slightly
amused about Tim. He had been telling others that I was to be detained for
passing information to Amnesty International. Now he was in, not me, but
there was no need to worry. He was well connected, had lots of support and
his many friends were arranging for gourmet food to be taken to him from
The ANC husband of the woman blown up by a TV bomb in Harare had also,
unbelievably, been detained. I didn't know the man, Mhlope, but mutual
friends said they could hardly recognise him after his wife Tsitsi was
killed, he was so thoroughly psychologically smashed and miserable. To put a
man in that condition into solitary confinement was beyond my understanding.
One evening, as I walked into 18 Masefield Avenue, the telephone rang.
I rushed and answered. The voice on the phone was white, quite pleasant, and
belonged, I thought, to a middle-aged man. The accent was Rhodesian or South
African, which was perhaps why I was worried.
Is that 35209?
Who is that?
Just hold on a minute. I want to put on the light. (This was to give
myself time to think.) Yes. This is 35209. Who would you like to speak to?
Well, I was just trying to find out who lives there. You see . . . the
last digit of my number keeps slipping and. . . well. . . someone keeps
getting 35209 and I was just trying to find out who lives there. I know it
sounds a bit funny
. . .(laughter)
Yes, it does. But sometimes these 35 numbers can be difficult, so if
you're having problems just ring 90 - that's telephone faults and they'll
Yes. Thanks . . . sorry . . .
Not at all.
I was troubled by the call because of having had several ANC people
billeted with me, the last group leaving just the day before.
On a trip from Harare to Bulawayo, my little Citroen turned 100 000
miles old. A policeman on the Bulawayo side of Gweru flagged me down for a
lift, and I invited him to watch the milometer with me, as I didn't want to
miss the event. But we reached his destination, a roadblock, at 99 999
miles, so he didn't witness the moment.
The policeman had been chasing a car in which he thought he had left
his clipboard. He had found the car but not the board, but didn't seem much
worried. As we took leave of one another, he asked for my name and gave me
his - Masunga. Mr Masunga was obviously an absent-minded policeman, for he
had almost shut the door and I was nearly on my way when he said: "Oh, oh."
He had placed his firearm on the floor under his feet on the passenger
side and left it there when he got out. What he or I would have done if he
hadn't remembered, I don't know. I probably wouldn't have noticed it for a
couple of days; someone else may have found it; I may have thought it was
planted. Oh, oh, indeed!
"Zapu Rallies and Meetings Banned" read the headline in The Sunday
Mail on 21 June 1987. I wondered how a "meeting" would be defined: Where two
or three of you are gathered in Nkomo's name? It was also announced that in
the recent Beitbridge district council elections, Zapu had won eight of the
12 contested seats. Minister Nkala was furious, and was reported as saying:
"If the current wave of killings is intended to intimidate the government,
both Nkomo and the dissidents should think again. I am not threatening
anybody, but as soon as things appear to go well, Comrade Nkomo poisons the
atmosphere. This kind of thing we cannot allow."
An ANC representative passing through Harare called in and it was very
late, well after 2AM, when we managed to persuade him to spend the night. He
was so tired he could hardly move. He gave me his car keys and asked me to
collect some special cigarettes he had in his glove box and to please put
them in the room he was going to use. I guessed exactly what was happening.
I collected his gun from the car and put it under my jacket so as not
to startle my guests when I walked through the lounge, and then placed it in
the drawer of the bedside table in his room. I didn't enjoy handling the
weapon, but I couldn't see what else he could have done. If he had gone out
himself, the guests may have accompanied him.
In the morning, I was glad that no one had asked what was so special
about those cigarettes. How terrible to live with the knowledge that any
minute an attack may be made on you. The former ANC representative to
Zimbabwe, Joe Nzingo Gqabi, was shot dead outside his house in nearby
Ashdown Park in August 1981. He was shot 22 times.
Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness; A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from www.zebrapress.co.za.
sundayview with Brilliant
I have been following stories and some interesting renditions about
the state of affairs in Zimbabwe. Some make interesting reading while others
indeed seek to address the crux of Zimbabwe's criminalized state. I also had
an opportunity to follow closely President Robert Gabriel Mugabe's speech
delivered at the United Nations 62nd general assembly in New York.
I noted that a generally uncritical mind would take it for a strong
Pan-African voice. It is my wish to submit that those who might have
accepted Mugabe's speech as a script hinged on addressing the post-colonial
disorder by blaming the western world are not to blame that much. It is just
the state of their minds.
This falls within the same rhetorical ambit with the statements we are
always subjected to from some colleagues, either from the West or Africa,
who when sympathizing with us say, 'God knows whatever happened to Robert
Mugabe'. These people have a tendency of presenting Mugabe as if he was once
a great leader and promising fellow for Africa. I am not sure whether these
assumptions are based on ignorance of how Mugabe ascended into power, and
how he has always maintained his grip on power. These people have always
tended to annoy me as they portray the same mistakes and miscalculations the
West has always made when dealing with the Zanu PF government.
History has it that when Robert Mugabe was being knighted and offered
honorary degrees by various universities in the West, it was at the height
of the Matabeleland/Midlands massacres (the Gukurahundi genocide). The
international community and some sections of the Zimbabwean population
deliberately chose to ignore it when the man was seized by one of his
moments of madness, as he himself once acknowledged sometime ago.
This is generally characteristic of human beings to ignore potential
problems for as long as they do not affect us. It is only recently that we
have all had to sing with one voice that this man and his party, Zanu PF are
bad, and that they have always been. It is quite easy to tell that. The best
way to know it is reading a simple history of the party, particularly, how
after hob-knobbing from one place to the other they later captured the
state, and now they are in the process of writing history claiming that they
alone fought the struggle, only with the help of Zipra, when it is even
common knowledge that this is not strictly true.
At least the problems we are now facing require that we engage in a
concerted effort to unseat this group of kleptomaniacs and thugs. We are all
aware of the bizarre policies they have implemented by way of operations,
ranging from Operation Diamond, Gukurahundi to the most recent one on price
controls. Now is the time for Zimbabweans to have a united progressive
movement, made up of well meaning Zimbabweans.
We cannot afford to even lose this opportunity as we all know that the
MDC and many other progressive colleagues in the opposition and the civil
society movement are not Godly ordained. They are bound to make mistakes,
some of which they have already made. But always dwelling on the past will
never save us.
Having followed Mugabe's speech at the UN 62nd general assembly I
quickly realised that his speeches make for good reading when one's belly is
full. Yes, at least one would in general see some sense regarding the
western views of Africa. It would be prudent to further state that the
generality of the people in the West have little or no knowledge of Africa.
It therefore must not surprise anyone to be asked questions like; do you
know so and so, he comes from Africa like you, in fact from Cameroon? Are
your countries not neighbours? This smacks of a mixture of both ignorance
and 'I do not care' attitude of most people in the West.
But we cannot blame them for that; it is because their respective
states are progressive and not criminal like ours. Unfortunately, most
people who have either lived long in the West or are not well informed of
the goings on in Zimbabwe have tended to see Mugabe and many other dictators
as great leaders of Africa. Little do they even know that most of Mugabe's
talk is generally a mixture of common sense and naivety, and in particular
Little do they know that the same Westerner he now accuses of being an
oppressor and detractor used to fund Zanu PF and even rigged elections for
them in 1980.
I am not really sure whether for all these years Robert Mugabe and his
psychophants had been hoodwinked into believing that the West is benevolent,
particularly in the eighties when they were giving him all those accolades
or not. He has simply forgotten that these are the same people who watched
in silence when he killed his own people in Matebeleland and Midlands; an
issue which has haunted him to this day.
I am not sure whether he was properly advised or not; if at all he
was, then his advisors had misjudged the nuances surrounding geo-politics.
Surely, the world we live in has no permanent friends and permanent enemies.
It only thrives on permanent interests. It follows therefore that naivety
must never be taken seriously or for some kind of Pan African sentiment!
An African who claims to have liberated his people by day and starts
hacking them down by night is not worth taking seriously. In fact, in Africa
such actions are taken as some kind of witchcraft. This has been the nature
of the ruling party in Zimbabwe. Western intransigency during and in the
post-colonial period has always been known. It is a known fact that the
Western world watched during the cold war period when African liberators
turned against their people and started butchering them.
Firstly, it is common knowledge that at the time the West was too busy
seeking ways of fighting the threat posed by the Soviet Communist block.
Secondly, it was just Africans killing each other after all, so they said.
Immediately after the cold war period they watched in silence the Rwandan
genocide taking place. While Africans where busy killing each other in
Rwanda, the West was busy debating the semantics of what to call the event
taking place in Rwanda.
Africa must have learnt this lesson long back and not to be lectured
by Mugabe today, now that his power is being threatened. Taking the screams
of a man who is about to fall from a tree for advice is always dangerous and
might put you in a serious quandary.
Touts in Mafia-style extortion at Harare's Mbare Musika WHAT I witnessed at
Mbare Musika while waiting to board a bus from Harare to Mutare on Sunday 28
October 2007 was extremely disturbing.
I had heard about it in the past but I did not take it seriously,
until I saw it first hand.
I encourage the Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, and the police
national chief spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena, to go undercover and visit
Mbare Musika to see what ordinary innocent travellers have to endure at the
hands of touts.
The touts roam Mbare Musika bus terminus at will, without fear of the
law because they work hand-in-hand with some of the bus drivers, conductors
and corrupt police officers, whose role, I believe should be to ensure order
and the safety of travellers.
The touts openly solicit money from travellers so that the passengers
can secure tickets and seats in buses. The amounts solicited/demanded start
from $500 000. This is done in the full glare of police officers on duty. At
the end of the day, the money is shared. This is daylight robbery. It is as
if the Mafia is operating freely in this country. This is shameful.
On this particular Sunday the teams of bus drivers and conductors
featuring in these corrupt activities were employed by Zupco and Tenda.
Passengers who tried to resist the unlawful "fee" were pushed out and fell
off the buses.
Police officers on duty just watched as if nothing was happening. It
is shameful for Chihuri's boys to allow such criminal activities to take
place in their full view and do absolutely nothing.
If the police commissioner has a heart for the poor and downtrodden
citizens of this country and if he has time to go to Mbare Musika
"incognito" he will see how travellers are being arm-twisted.
To the passengers who board buses at Mbare Musika, I would have loved
to say: "Stop paying these touts and make a stand against them because they
do not own the buses." But I realise that is not so easy when one is faced
with bus drivers, conductors and touts who are united and determined to
D R Mutungagore
Municipal billing system suspect
THERE are issues that the new chair of the
commission running the city of Harare needs to investigate as a matter of
The first is that nearly every household is being billed based on
"estimates" that frankly defy logic. Figures are being plucked from the air
and unfortunately the majority of residents pay up without contesting the
Those that do query the charges inevitably have them reduced - for me
that is a profound admission of the guess work and Dr Michael Mahachi needs
to address it before residents resort to demonstrations. It is totally
unacceptable that charges can be based on "estimates" for months on end.
If they do not have the capacity to undertake physical readings, they
should educate residents - through a public campaign on how they can read
these figures and present them when they go to pay their bills.
The other issues have to do with people paying at district offices but
still getting services cut off. Residents should not be penalised for
failure of the council to ensure that its network is linked throughout so
that they have up-to-date information on how payments are coming to the City
Of concern also is the system of debt collectors. I believe that not
only should Dr Mahachi investigate this, but that the Anti-Corruption
Commission and the Combined Harare Residents' Association could uncover a
can of worms if they probed how the City Council is farming out collection
of "overdue" payments to debt collectors.
In their investigations they could find out whether residents were
ever contacted by the Council on "overdue" bills. My experience, which was
confirmed by other ratepayers, is that one is suddenly presented with a
demand from the debt collectors, without any correspondence from the
My suspicion is that there is corruption taking place and that someone
is benefitting by farming out these "overdue" payments to debt collectors,
by getting a "commission" for every "debt" collected.
We should not always fault the postal services, because the letters we
received had wrong addresses, whether this was deliberate or incompetence or
both it is hard to say. But nevertheless I suspect there is something fishy
Both the Anti-Corruption Commission and CHRA could invite residents to
submit written evidence of their experiences.
Was Spencer Banda cleared?
WE the undersigned are all middle-aged mothers of nine teenage
girls. We have noted that ZTV has brought back Spencer Banda, whom we learnt
earlier had been facing charges from last year of sexually molesting two
underage teenage girls.
Our concern is: Has he been cleared of those charges? If he has,
could the relevant authorities make this public knowledge since Banda works
for a public institution? We have made enquiries with organisations working
with children and it is their understanding that Banda's case is still to be
All we are saying is that if the case has not been concluded but
Banda is allowed back at work at the public broadcaster, how safe are our
daughters? Let the girl child be protected by us all.
Norma Masenda, Edna Maswaya,
Valerie Mahara, Fungi Zvindira
Msika wrong on Sibanda
I do not understand the point Vice-President
Joseph Msika is trying to make in his bid to discredit war veterans' leader,
Msika says Sibanda went to Angola for training but was never
deployed into the bush and therefore should not be considered a war veteran.
With all due respect, I think we could find ourselves in a right
mess if we started scrutinising who did what. The fact that Sibanda was not
deployed is no fault of his own. He underwent training period.
A lot of the leadership that today claims the tag of freedom
fighter did so from the comfort of Lusaka, Maputo, Dar es Salaam etc.
Others, however, were at the frontline, being bitten by mosquitoes - for
Goodness sake let's not start splitting hairs in our quest to score points
against each other.
The past is best forgotten. If anyone has real issues against
Sibanda then let's hear them. Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the war veterans
are a voluntary organisation and can therefore do what they want, but Msika
and company are scared that these "little boys" as he calls them disrespect
the elders! May be the elders should respect the youngsters to earn the
respect of the young generation.
Disagreements are very healthy and promote freedom of
expression. The MDC may have problems, but at least its members were able to
tell their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, that they would not stand by and watch
him violate the party's constitution. Imagine Zanu PF members telling that
to Robert Mugabe!
November 10, 2007
At least Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) have finally abandoned any pretence at being
a representative, democratic institution. Like the regime in functions
under, it has eschewed all but the charade of being accountable, and those
running it have this week shown two fingers to the dwindling band inside the
country who still care.
The news that the board's Annual General Meeting takes place this weekend
only broke when Peter Chingoka's predecessor as chairman, Dave Ellman Brown,
called the ZC offices and found out, during the course of a conversation,
that he was no longer a life president. It then emerged that all such life
appointees - honorary posts awarded for a lifetime of contributions to the
game - had been stripped of their positions without even being notified.
On the face of it, this is a callous and cowardly move. It also is another
blow to what remains of the tarnished reputation of Chingoka. As chairman
this decision has to rest with him, yet even though he knows all of these
appointees closely and has worked with them for years, he couldn't bring
himself to face them and tell them in person why they had been treated so
The real reason for the decision is clear when seen in connection with the
AGM. It has traditionally been the one public forum where the board can be
held to account, where officers can be questioned and where the finances can
be scrutinised. In recent years it has been a fairly harrowing experience
for the executive. But this year ZC has ruled that only delegates from the
newly created provinces can attend. Strictly speaking, under the rules any
presidents or vice presidents can also demand to be present. ZC has removed
that potential embarrassment by taking them out of the equation.
So the AGM will be a farce. Only delegates from provinces created by the ZC
board in 2006 will be present; and those appointed to run the regional
boards were hand-picked acolytes. All dissenters and those whose faces did
not fit were cleansed then. It was a cynical ploy to appease the
international community and pretend there was a vibrant and democratic
domestic set-up. There is as much chance of a delegate questioning the ZC
executive on Saturday as there is of a Zanu PF conference asking Robert
Mugabe to justify his economic policy.
What ZC fears most is that its accounts will be scrutinised internally.
Already the ICC-appointed accountants have been sniffing round the books. In
June, Malcolm Speed said that it was "clear that the accounts of ZC have
been deliberately falsified to mask various illegal transactions". So no
accounts have been circulated and it seems only the hand-picked will be
privy to them at the AGM. Even so, what they get might not matter. As Speed
said of previous offerings: "It may not be possible to rely on the
authenticity of its balance sheet."
What this latest contemptuous move suggests is that ZC believes it has
weathered the international storm and that it no longer needs to maintain
the veneer of accountability. Chingoka is shrewd enough to know that other
boards, and as a result the ICC, don't really care what happens. It's all
about votes and behind-the-scenes deals. If Zimbabwe supports the right
people when it matters, nobody will rock the boat.
Cricket limps on in the country, and despite Speed's reservations, ZC
received US$11 million from the ICC in the last year and has nobody to
account to about how that money is spent. It's a criminal reflection of the
priorities of the modern game.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo
10 Nov 2007, 14:26
The following is an announcement from the Royal Commonwealth Society:
As the crisis in Zimbabwe deepens, Commonwealth organisations, NGOs
campaigners are calling on Commonwealth leaders to act.
Spearheading the campaign, the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS),
backed by a number of Commonwealth organisations, has launched a
Commonwealth People's Charter on Zimbabwe, calling for Commonwealth leaders
to re-engage with Zimbabwe.
The RCS position is that although Zimbabwe is no longer a member of
Commonwealth (having withdrawn in 2003), it is wrong for the
Commonwealth to ignore such an important issue, especially considering the
action the Commonwealth took over former member countries such as South
Africa and the former Rhodesia.
All citizens of Commonwealth countries, who feel solidarity with the
Zimbabwean people, are encouraged to sign the Charter. Civil Society
Organisations, religious groups and any other interested parties are
welcome to contact the RCS to express their support. The hope is that
Commonwealth governments will be persuaded to act if Commonwealth
citizens sign the charter in great numbers.
The Charter, with a list of signatures, will be presented, at the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), to Don McKinnon, the
Commonwealth Secretary General and President Museveni of Uganda, the CHOGM
host. You can find the Charter at: www.commonwealth-action-for-zimbabwe.org
Commonwealth Press Union, 10/11/07.
SW Radio Africa (London)
9 November 2007
Posted to the web 10 November 2007
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (SA Chapter) has denied media reports that
its office is closing down following a withdrawal of funding by donors.
Nixon Nyikadzino an advocacy officer with the group says the office will
remain open despite a restructuring exercise that carried out an evaluation
of both its projects and personnel. A report in the Zimbabwe Times website
said Media Manager Elinor Sisulu, Coordinator Reverend Nicholas Mkaronda,
Advocacy Manager Emmanuel Hlabangane, Projects Officer Sifiso Dube and
secretary Precious Dube had all been retrenched.
The website however linked this to allegations that the office was being
used to launch a new political party and was undermining the MDC in the
process. Nyikadzino said a group of people who are eager to start up their
own project are feeding the reports and view the coalition as a stumbling
block. He went as far as pinpointing the journalist who wrote the story
saying he was an interested party in the proceedings. Asked to explain the
departure of staff from the coalition Nyikadzino said all those leaving had
done so by mutual consent and had no qualms with the restructuring.
Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe coordinator Jacob Mafume told the Zimbabwe
Times that reports of financial irregularities were untrue and that the
office had simply run out of projects. 'I would like to place it on record
that the office is open and will remain open, we are restructuring only to
deal with some problems and some of our staff have left the office because
of other commitments. Crisis is a critical component in the fight for a
democratic Zimbabwe, and therefore has many enemies working against it.
These rumours are their work," Mafume said.
Meanwhile the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition 'Rock the Vote' concert moves to
Bulawayo on Saturday. The cream of Zimbabwean music artists will be
performing at the White City arena while promoting the group's voter
education campaign. Programmes Manager Pedzisai Ruhanya said they were
taking the concerts to all parts of the country in the run up to elections
Saturday 10th November 2007
Tragedy came to my home area this week and I write this letter for a family
represented by three generations who have worked to save an endangered
species for Zimbabwe. More specifically I write this letter for D.J., Amber,
and Gomo who were shot and killed one night this week.
These three Black Rhino were saved from rampant poaching that was ravaging
Zimbabwe in the mid 1980's. Seven young Black Rhino calves, three males and
four females were sent to Imire Game Park where they were hand reared.
Standing chest high they were bottle fed on a carefully worked out milk
formula from five litre plastic bottles fitted with calf teats. You have to
see this to really appreciate it, the pushing and shoving, the loud
schlurping noises and contented glugging, the vast streams of silver dribble
and the look of contentment and pure delight in the eyes of the young
These seven Black Rhino were part of a grand scheme by farmers and
Government to save a species. Private Game Parks and Conservancies, at
entirely their own risk and expense, would rear the animals, allow them to
breed and then return the offspring to National Parks so that all
Zimbabweans could share in this wonderous heritage.
Over 20 years those seven Black Rhino thrived at Imire. This was a superb
achievement - for man and animal. The Rhino had to be guarded from poachers,
day and night; they had to be fed on massive amounts of purchased
supplementary feed and they had to be contented enough to breed and for the
females to carry their calves for the full 450 day gestation. Vets and
experts came in when needed and de-horned the Rhinos, removing the matted
hair-like structure which was the lure to the poachers and the very cause of
their persecution. Over two decades the Travers' family returned more than
half a dozen Black Rhino reared on Imire to the Department of National Parks
and gave a great gift back to our country.
Four poachers came to Imire at around 9.30 in the evening this week. D.J.
was shot and killed. Her calf, just a few weeks old, survived. Amber,
heavily pregnant, was shot and killed. Her unborn calf, almost at full term,
did not survive. Gomo, a male, was shot and killed. The horn stump from one
rhino, perhaps one handful, was taken by the poachers.
D.J.'s calf will be hand reared on Imire with two other young rhino. Already
that precious milk formula has been sought and the ingredients searched for
in this time of madness when our shops are empty and almost all goods are
I do not know the details of the crime, the slaughter and the perpetrators
but I feel a great sadness inside me. It is many years since I had first
hand encounters with elephants and rhino but they are memories ingrained in
my heart: the feel of their skin, the look in their eyes, the sounds they
make and the smell of them and knowing that their lives and their future
depended on us. We must not give up.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 10 November
Mail & Guardian reporter
Just four months before scheduled elections, and with a breakthrough in
talks brokered by President Thabo Mbeki in sight, Zimbabweans are watching
in dismay as the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
disintegrates and Zanu PF tweaks electoral regulations in its favour.
Recently, there have been violent clashes between supporters of the MDC,
reflecting bitter divisions between Morgan Tsvangirai and some of his most
senior officials, partly over his refusal to keep secret details of meetings
the MDC has been holding with Zanu PF since April. But Tsvangirai's
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa this week sought to play down fears of a further
split in the MDC: "The MDC as a democratic institution has sufficient
mechanisms to deal with both the internal and external challenges that are
fairly inevitable in such a mass-based organisation." But the row has added
currency to debate about the emergence of a "third way", a new movement made
up of disgruntled elements from both the MDC and Zanu PF, where anger
remains over President Robert Mugabe's decision to stand for a sixth term
next year. Mugabe had previously stated that he would retire in 2008, but
now says he can no longer trust his top lieutenants to preserve the unity of
his Zanu PF party. But critics doubt there is any real prospect of the
emergence of a third party and have instead slammed the opposition for
allowing internal fighting to blind it to what they say are moves by Zanu PF
to pad its own nest as elections draw closer. This week Mugabe ignored a key
agreement with the opposition on the formation by Parliament of a new
electoral body to run the elections, quietly stuffing the existing Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) with a new batch of loyalists.
Both parties had agreed to provisions, under Constitutional Amendment 18,
which was enacted in September, establishing a new body that would register
voters, demarcate constituencies and oversee preparations for elections. But
Zanu PF appears to be willing only to go as far as changing a few faces in
the important body. New appointments to the ZEC include figures previously
employed as senior civil servants, including in the Registrar General's
office, which has run a voters' roll so inefficient it has even been
criticised by Zanu PF itself. Ian Makone, head of elections for Tsvangirai,
and Paul Themba-Nyathi of the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC faction, said they
will now press for the urgent enactment of an Electoral Laws Amendment Bill,
which would effectively transfer all operations of commission to parliament,
as agreed. This week ZEC chairperson George Chiweshe rejected the
opposition's demands to be included in preparations for elections, saying
his commission was independent, as "the Constitution says we shall not be
under anyone's influence ... that is exactly what we will follow". But a
spokesperson for the National Constitutional Assembly, a group allied to the
opposition that is campaigning for a new constitution, said the recent
senior appointments to the ZEC were "a clear testimony of Zanu PF's
intention to run a controversial election next year. It also shows the lack
of seriousness on the part of the government to guarantee a free and fair
election in this country." He said the opposition parties needed to stop the
infighting and concentrate on blocking Zanu PF from taking any further
action that will undermine the credibility of next year's election.
Tsvangirai himself has dismissed suggestions that his fight with internal
rivals has taken his attention away from elections, but he has repeated his
doubts that the government really wants a free poll. "The level of suffering
of the majority of our people cannot be postponed any longer. People have no
food, jobs, transport, drugs, water and power. The list is endless. We need
to resolve the national crisis now, rather than later. This can only be done
by creating the necessary environment for a free and fair election where
Zimbabweans can freely choose a government of their choice, which can then
immediately resolve the myriad economic problems besetting the country," he
was quoted as saying this week. In spite of the internal battles, there
appears to be some acknowledgement from the opposition that they face a big
battle if elections next March are to be free and fair. Eddie Cross, a
policy adviser to Tsvangirai, said: "The talks in South Africa are almost
concluded - five months later than originally intended, the date for the
elections is yet to be decided and then we get into the issue of the
transition and the management of the election itself. Believe me, this is
going to be a fight to the finish."
SW Radio Africa (London)
9 November 2007
Posted to the web 10 November 2007
An agricultural expert in the country said on Friday a big percentage of
farmers have failed to get maize seed and fertiliser amid fears this would
contribute to very low yields next year.
Renson Gasela, a former Grain Marketing Board chief executive told Newsreel
the situation was getting critical because it was getting late into the
farming season. Last month, the Zanu-PF led government said it was launching
an ambitious plan to revive the country's agricultural production. As part
of this drive, the government has been distributing hundreds of tractors,
combine harvesters and planters
'Even with the state-of the art equipment that these farmers have, what do
you produce when you don't have the maize seed and fertiliser. Government is
saying they have distributed 30 000 tonnes of seed but where is it. We don't
see it, we see absolutely nothing,' Gasela said.
He said pronouncements by government that they would have a 'the mother of
all farming seasons' was fantasy and wishful thinking. Farming, he added,
was a matter of detail that if you got one thing wrong, it would affect
'We have had good rains, and we are in the second week of November and what
it means is each day planting is delayed, it would result in lost yield. I
will give you an example, a 15-day delay can contribute to a 35 percent
reduction in yield,' added Gasela.
Analysts, including Gasela blame the government's fast-track land reform
programme for destroying the agricultural sector, which was the backbone of
the country's economy before the farm evasions.
'These shortages are all consequences of the fast-track land reform
programme. Before the invasions, commercial farmers would produce enough
seed for sale and you can imagine it's no longer the case now, he said.
Gasela remains pessimistic the country would not be able to produce enough
food to feed itself from this farming season, and expected food shortages to
continue after the harvest and well into 2008.