Harare, November 10, 2012 - Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya has
unveiled a Bill that seeks to dislodge the notorious Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and some provisions of the Official
Secrets Act, seen as criminalising the journalism profession.
Chikwinya, who chairs parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Media,
Information, Communication Technology, presented the so-called Media Freedom
and Transparency Bill for close scrutiny before media stakeholders in Harare
Chikwinya intends to push through the envisaged law under the Private
Members Bill which allows non members of the executive to formulate laws.
The Bill retains the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) while creating the more
professional Media Council of Zimbabwe, a voluntary organisation.
Journalists blame the ZMC and its predecessor Media and Information
Commission (MIC) for forcing the closure of four private newspapers in the
past decade and the continued arrest of some of their colleagues.
The MDC-T lawmaker said the Media Freedom and Transparency Bill shall
sanitise the media environment and provide media practitioners with better
access to information within public and private entities.
“The Bill seeks to repeal Aippa and create a media environment which is
free,” Chikwinya said, “ Under Aippa, we have had journalists who have been
criminalised for alleged offences during their tour of duty. So this Bill
seeks to decriminalise the work of journalists and actually promote civil
proceedings in the event that anyone feels that a journalist would have
“This Bill also seeks to enable citizens to discuss national issues freely
and to read and hear different opinions in a non threatening environment.
“The Bill seeks to introduce openness and transparency in both public and
private bodies while at the same time putting reasonable restraints on media
freedom in order to protect legitimate interest such as personal privacy
legitimate to the right to a fair trial.”
But media practitioners who attended the workshop criticised the document
for its attempt to provide for both state and voluntary regulation at a time
the fraternity is fighting to free itself from
Some said the Bill was a very ambitious proposal that seeks to bring a lot
of issues affecting the media under one roof while others say the decision
to retain the ZMC altogether was another way of bringing back Aippa under
Pedzisayi Ruhanya, a journalist and PhD candidate in media and democracy,
feels Chikwinya was desperately trying to balance the wishes of Zanu PF,
which favours state regulation and those of his party, which advocates
“This Bill is trying to balance the views of Zanu PF and MDC, yet it is
supposed to govern journalists and the entire media. The views of the media
are what are supposed to be emphasised. These are two positions of Zanu PF
and MDC that must be disregarded,” said Ruhanya.
Chikwinya conceded the document was not perfect in its current form adding
that he was going to take it for “realignment” with the concerns of media
He said he is aiming to see the proposed Bill becoming a full law in March
He was optimistic that the Bill was going to receive the support of Zanu PF
MPs in spite the current polarisation in the house.
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), one of the non-profit groups in the diamond
watchdog group, the Kimberley Process, is on Monday expected to release a
damning report showing Zimbabwe has since 2008 lost over $2 billion in what
it says is the continuing plunder of the country’s gems by the military and
a clique from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
Sources in the PAC told VOA Studio 7 that the alleged theft of Marange
diamonds is perhaps the biggest single plunder of diamonds the world has
seen since Cecil John Rhodes arrived in southern Africa.
The report titled ‘Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s
Marange Diamond Fields’ will be released to coincide with the opening of an
international diamond conference in Victoria Falls.
Insiders said the report is particularly concerned with the lack of
transparency in diamond revenues in Harare.
The report, the insiders said, would prove that despite government
pronouncements to the contrary, the illicit trade of Marange diamonds is
alive and well with a parallel trade in Marange diamonds continuing to
thrive, with the full knowledge and complicity of top government officials
and the military.
Sources said the report also singles out Mines Minister Obert Mpofu as one
of the beneficiaries of the Marange diamonds.
Partnership Africa Canada would also claim that Mpofu allegedly siphoned
about $20 million from the diamond industry in Zimbabwe using his company,
Three Waters Investments operating from one of his Bulawayo properties.
Partnership Africa Canada is also expected to challenge the minister to
reveal his sources of wealth which the non-profit organization would
directly link to the pilfering of diamonds by top government and army
Mpofu vehemently denied the allegations. He dismissed the report as the work
of a group sponsored by countries that slapped Harare with sanctions and
bent on tarnishing the country’s image ahead of the Victoria Falls
conference next week.
“I will not dignify those baseless accusations with a response,” said Mpofu.
“This is pure madness, rank madness really from a group that is sponsored by
countries that do not want to see us benefiting from our diamonds. They can
continue to talk but we will not look back, Zimbabwe’s diamonds are the best
and they are hurting that they are not mining in Marange that’s all. We are
used to this – they release reports ahead of major conferences and Kimberley
plenary sessions but we are not fazed at all.”
PAC research director Alan Martin confirmed the report will be released on
Monday and looks specifically at lack of transparency in Zimbabwe’s diamond
“PAC has found that while the mismanagement of Marange remains primarily a
Zimbabwean problem, the global dimensions of the illegality has metastasized
to compromise most of the major diamond markets of the world,” said Martin.
“Previously most of the illegal trade primarily involved South Africa,
Mozambique, UAE and India. This remains the case, but greater vigilance by
enforcement authorities should now extend to other centres, particularly
Meanwhile, the United States will at the end of this month host the
Kimberley Process plenary session to look at issues concerning the
international diamond trade and related issues.
Mbizvo Central Member of Parliament, Settlement Chikwinya, is expected to
present a Private Members Bill, The Press Freedom and Transparency Bill,
which seeks to decriminalize insults on President Mugabe.
by Staff Reporter
Speaking in Harare at a stakeholders’ workshop on Friday, Rose Zigomo, a
legal expert who assisted Chikwinya draft the bill, said the proposed law
seeks to make it illegal to insult a President only in his capacity as head
In the Bill, it would no longer be possible to be charged criminally if one
utters or writes statements that are aimed at Mugabe in his capacity as Head
of Government, head of a political party or in his personal capacity,
according to Zigomo.
She said the Bill will also decriminalize defamation as defined in Section
31 of the Criminal Law Codification Act, which she said was too wide and
difficult to understand.
“Sections 33 and 96 criminalize the publication of false statements against
the president and statements that cause harm to others, and we are saying
why criminalise? So the Bill also seeks to abolish the aspect of criminal
defamation and leaves room for the defamed party to seek civil remedies,”
Chikwinya said the bill was a result of the realization that the Executive
was not responding to the quest to address the issue of media reforms in the
“Ordinarily, the bills would come from the Executive but since the formation
of the GNU, we have been taking advantage of the Private Members Bill and we
hope the Executive will ride on this chance to give MP’s an opportunity to
carry out their mandate,” he said.
The Bill seeks to replace the stringent Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA) as well as some provisions of the Official Secrets
“As we are all aware the Global Political Agreement states that media
reforms should be done in the country but up to now nothing to that effect
has been done. We also thought that the Executive or the Principals were
going to level the media environment as per their commitment they made four
“This has motivated this proposed Bill,” Chikwinya, who chairs parliament’s
Portfolio Committee on Media Information Communication and Technology, said.
He said: “This Bill will not only give the public an enhanced right to
information, but will also ensure that governmental institutions publish
information about their structures and activities, thereby becoming more
transparent and accountable.”
But media practitioners who attended the workshop criticised the document
for its attempt to provide for both state and voluntary regulation at a time
the fraternity is fighting to free itself from state meddling.
The Bill also seeks to establish an institutional framework for freedom of
expression, access to information and a free press in Zimbabwe, whilst also
introducing openness and transparency in both public and private bodies.
by Staff Reporter
BULAWAYO police are holding two men after they allegedly blocked President
Robert Mugabe’s motorcade in Bulawayo on Friday.
Mugabe, whose motorcade usually averages 12 vehicles, was travelling in an
extended convoy with cabinet ministers attending a graduation ceremony at
the National University of Science and Technology.
Bulawayo police spokesman Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo said Newton Mlotshwa,
58, and Prayer Gavhanga, 27, had been charged with “disobeying lawful
instructions from a uniformed police officer”.
Mugabe’s motorcade was hurtling towards NUST along the Bulawayo-Esigodini
Road, opposite Ascot Shopping Centre, shortly before 11AM when it was
brought to a brief halt.
Inspector Moyo said: “Gavhanga, who was driving, was rude and refused to
clear the road for the motorcade.
“Officers took the vehicle ignition keys to stop him from fleeing. While
they were doing so, the vehicle’s owner, Mlotshwa, who was a passenger,
rushed to a police bike and removed the bike’s ignition keys demanding to be
given his keys back.
“In the process of restraining him, a police officer was assaulted. Mlotshwa
will be additionally charged with assault.”
Inspector Moyo said motorists should co-operate with the police, adding:
“This incident could have been avoided. It was public knowledge that the
President was coming to Bulawayo for the NUST graduation and motorists
should just follow police directives.”
Mlotshwa and Gavhanga are due before magistrates on Monday.
Saturday, 10 November 2012 13:20
HARARE - Facing a fast-approaching election without reforms, Zimbabwe’s two
beleaguered ruling MDC parties have made a desperate appeal to South Africa
to stop President Robert Mugabe from forcing a snap election in March
without implementing an election roadmap.
South Africa’s parliamentary committee on international relations and
cooperation says it is swamped by a wide range of requests for assistance by
The MDC parties and civil society cemented their requests for support at a
meeting with the South African parliamentary committee at a meeting in
Pretoria last week.
The Zimbabwean delegation comprised spokesperson for Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’s party Douglas Mwonzora and policy coordinator for Welshman
Ncube’s MDC Qhubani Moyo.
Other members of the delegation were Zimbabwe Election Support Network
national director Rindai Chipfunde, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
executive director Irene Petras, Solidarity Peace Trust’s research and
advocacy chief Brian Raftopolous and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
spokesperson Thabani Nyoni.
The Zimbabwean delegation, which met their South African counterparts for
several hours in Pretoria on Thursday, emphasised the need for pro-active
involvement of regional bloc Sadc and the African Union (AU) in the
implementation of the power-sharing Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The delegation urged South Africa, Sadc’s mandated facilitator in the
Zimbabwe dialogue, to strengthen its hand in the mediation to respond more
forcefully to attempts by the 88-year-old to unilaterally go for fresh polls
by March without fundamental reforms.
The team said Zimbabwe needs a new, democratic constitution, harmonisation
of the current laws with the new constitution, a peaceful environment, a
credible Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) secretariat, demilitarisation
of the electoral processes and respect of the GPA before going for fresh
Moyo said his MDC was not concerned about the election date but wanted
conditions to be conducive. The party wants a clear roadmap with sign posts
for a free and fair election.
“In terms of the law, the life of Parliament comes to an end on 29 June
2013, five years to the day the President was sworn-in,” Moyo told the SA
“This means that the elections should be called by 30 June — to be held in
90 days — which means by 29 September 2013 we must go for fresh elections.
This is significant also because you need to create new institutions created
by the constitution.”
Mwonzora said polls were process-driven, adding his party would contest in
polls only if minimum requirements are met.
Chipfunde told the SA committee that the creation of a violent-free
environment where freedom of assembly, association and speech among others
are upheld is critical.
She called for the opening up of election observation to all interested
stakeholders and for observers to be invited by Zec not the minister of
Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa, a member of Mugabe’s Zanu PF.
She highlighted to the SA committee the need for a fresh voters’ roll, and
that Zec should be independent of executive influence and report to
Parliament, be well-resourced and be given its full mandate in the
management of the election.
Raftopolous said Sadc must stand by the agreement that it has facilitated
“In the process, the regional body needs to fortify its position against the
clear intention of Zanu PF to destroy the GPA,” he said.
“The purpose of such a strategy is once again to subject Zimbabwean citizens
to fraudulent election under a constitution that has been repeatedly amended
to suit the distortions of executive power that have played so large a role
in bringing about the country’s current predicament.”
Nyoni said Sadc and the AU must send in observers six months before the
elections and the observers should stay for six months after the elections.
“Hargreaves Magama, the chairman of the parliamentary committee, said the
Zimbabwean people have suffered “so much, for too long” and that the SA
Parliament has a responsibility to pursue a sustainable solution.
He pledged that South Africa will make a minimum demand before the next
election for the creation of an environment free of violence and
“If Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is not 100 percent free, it will muddle
the waters even more,” he said.
“That process needs a credible Zec, if you don’t have credible institutions
you will go the Sierra Leone way,” he said referring to the forthcoming
November 17 poll in the war-torn country that has been marred by divisive
electoral rhetoric and brinkmanship.
“Zec must be credible so that the electoral outcome is believable to the
majority of Zimbabweans,” Magama said.
The SA legislative committee promised the Zimbabwe delegation that they will
engage the South African facilitation team, Sadc and Zanu PF to seek a
lasting solution to the crisis.
Saturday, 10 November 2012 13:13
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, ZESN ballot update reports
that while the Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference finally took place last
month — though devoid of overt violence and intimidation — it faced a number
ZESN identified the exclusion of political parties not in the Government of
National Unity, (GNU).
The constitution making process has excluded all parties that are not part
of the inclusive government such as Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD), Zapu and Zanu
Ndonga among others yet they do represent particular constituencies.
Copac also limited the number of observers that were allocated to
organisations that had requested to observe the process. Interested
organisations such as ZZZICOMP were allocated 10 observers and this was
inadequate given the number of chapters that were under discussion.
In addition, civil society was asked to attend Copac under the auspices of
This has been the trend since the beginning of the constitution making
process and it is exclusionary as some groups want to maintain their
neutrality and impartiality so that they could independently air their
Civil society groups refused to be subsumed under political parties as
political parties had coached the people and they were split between
protecting the draft and pushing amendments in the draft.
In addition, there was a lack of cognisance that the positions of political
parties do not always coincide with civil society positions and goals.
The inclusion of Professor Arthur Mutambara as a Principal brought confusion
as Professor Welshman Ncube boycotted the opening citing their exclusion as
Mutambara was said not to represent any party in the GNU.
Mutambara during his speech reminded delegates, Copac leadership and the
Principals that crafting a good constitution will not be the panacea to the
country’s problems when such a document is disregarded and flouted at will
by the leaders.
He stressed the importance of “constitutionalism” which entails respecting
the constitution and governing within its limits.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s speech traced the history of
constitution-making in Zimbabwe up to the current Copac led exercise which
he called a “people-driven process”.
The speech made by President Mugabe emphasised the need for a new
constitution and how the process needs to be done in peace.
However, it could have disempowered and caused despondency among delegates
as they were informed that the final decision on the constitution lay with
the Principals not the delegates, hence making a mockery of the whole
The statement also run contrary to the spirit and letter of Article 6 of the
constitution which calls for a people driven constitution not a principal
driven constitution. - Staff Writer
by Everson Mushava/ Nduduzo Tshuma 7 hours 31 minutes ago
ZANU PF has all but admitted its grassroots structures have collapsed
prompting the party to plan the deployment of politburo members and other
senior party officials on a nationwide drive to revive them ahead of polls
expected in March next year.
Commenting after Wednesday’s politburo meeting, party spokesperson Rugare
Gumbo told NewsDay that the party would hold inter-district meetings
countrywide to be addressed by politburo members and other senior officials
to mobilise voters ahead of the elections.
“What we talked about was the revamping of the party structures throughout
the country that will see the introduction of new party cards. Every
politburo member from the respective districts will be involved in
mobilising supporters,” Gumbo said yesterday.
“We will hold district meetings to be addressed by politburo members
throughout the country. Senior party officials will help
in revamping the structures from cells, branches to the districts.”
Gumbo said the party would also introduce new cards as it intensifies its
mass mobilisation drive.
Zanu PF rivals allege the cards are being used to identify the party’s
members so that they access government services, aid and ancillary services
ahead of non-Zanu PF supporters.
According to a 2011 central committee report, Zanu PF has 579 312 members
out of Zimbabwe’s estimated 14 million people, with provinces struggling to
recruit new supporters.
Matabeleland North only sold 8 639 cards against a target of 35 000 for the
War veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda claims he has already told President
Robert Mugabe, the party’s leader, of Zanu PF’s waning support even in his
home province, Mashonaland West and other former party strongholds.
He claimed imposition of candidates and factionalism had killed the party’s
In June this year, Zanu PF was forced to disband its district
co-co-ordinating committees (DCCs) structures responsible for mobilising
supporters at grassroots level owing to divisions and factionalism.
However, some believe the disbanding of the DCCs left a huge gap in the
mobilisation of supporters.
Critics allege the party has since roped in the army to take over the role
of DCCs, triggering fears of a recurrence of the 2008 violent polls.
As March draws near, the party has been embarking on several campaign
strategies, most of them bordering on vote-buying to mobilise support.
Only last week, Mugabe rolled out a $20 million farm inputs scheme which is
set to benefit over 800 000 families, in a move described by his opponents
in government as vote-buying using revenue from the Marange diamonds,
although Zanu PF claims the money was raised from local well-wishers.
Meanwhile, a handful of Zanu PF supporters turned up to welcome Mugabe at
the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport yesterday, a development attributed
to the growing factionalism especially within the Bulawayo provincial
Mugabe was in the city to preside over the graduation ceremony at the
National University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Uncharacteristic of his numerous previous arrivals in the city, the
President’s plane touched down just after 10am only for the veteran leader
to be welcomed by a few party members, transported in three kombis.
Without interacting with them like he usually does, Mugabe headed straight
to his motorcade, accompanied by Bulawayo provincial governor Cain Mathema.
During last year’s official opening of the Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair, Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu, who is also Umguza
MP, reportedly bussed around 6 000 supporters from his constituency to
welcome Mugabe and Zambia President Michael Sata, who was guest of honour.
A party insider who spoke on condition of anonymity attributed the low
turnout to infighting within Zanu PF.
“There are divisions in the party especially among the youth that is why you
see few people. The commissariat department had to make last-minute
arrangements so that these people could come, otherwise the situation was
going to be more embarrassing,” the party insider said. - NewsDay
ACCUSED of being opaque, corrupt and murderous, Zimbabwe's diamond sector
wants to polish its image.
Beneath Zimbabwe's soil lies wealth that could help transform the country's
Zimbabwe is home to the Marange diamond fields - one of Africa's largest in
Africa - and has the potential to supply 25% of the world's diamonds. Yet
very few investors have been willing to cross the Rubicon.
That is because the sector has become synonymous with graft, torture and
murder that has been linked to some of the highest powers in the land.
Rights groups say 200 people were killed in 2008 at Marange when the
Zimbabwean army and anti-riot police cleared small-scale miners.
Zimbabwe was consequently banned from the Kimberley Process, a watchdog for
the diamond trade. The ban was only lifted when the government said it had
pulled out security forces out of the area.
Natural resource extraction watchdogs accuse President Robert Mugabe's party
of funnelling profits to senior military officers and party leaders as hush
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a member of the anti-Mugabe MDC party, has
complained that of the $600m in diamond revenues expected this year, only
$46m has materialised.
He admits a "parallel government" may be raking in much of the cash.
But from next Monday, at the Victoria Falls, the country will try to
convince 300 foreign mining experts and industry leaders that change is at
Officials are not bashful about the aim of the conference.
It has been organised "to manage perception of the Zimbabwean diamond
industry and lure more investment to the diamond industry", according to the
ministry of mines.
"We are now a diamond-mining country so we want to share with experts who
are ahead of us in order to improve our systems," said Prince Mupazviriho,
the permanent secretary at the ministry.
But observers wonder whether they are being sold the real deal or a cubic
The real test will be the government's support for a law that would force
mining companies to account for their production and sales.
"There are too many loopholes in the way the diamond mining companies are
reporting their production and revenue," analyst Charles Mangongera told
"We don't even know how much they are producing as there is no independent
mechanism to verify."
"What we need is for the conference to push for legislation that compels the
state and companies in the diamond sector to become accountable in a manner
that will benefit the treasury and all citizens."
But such legislation would run counter to the interests of Mugabe's Zanu-PF
party, according to Mangongera.
The legislation would particularly affect firms like Anjin, which is a joint
Chinese venture with the Zimbabwean state.
"I doubt that Zanu-PF would support such legislation. The key characters in
the diamond sector have linkages with Zanu-PF and obviously the party is
benefitting from these linkages," Mangongera said.
Saturday, 10 November 2012 13:20
HARARE - Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda has told residents to forget about
cancellation of their bills accumulated between the hyperinflationary
environment of 2008 and 2010 period, as demanded by Harare Residents Trust
HRT director Precious Shumba, leading about 200 residents, on Tuesday
descended on Town House demanding the cancellation of bills falling with
that period, improvement in service delivery and timely delivery of
Deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto, following a request by the residents to have
their bills slashed on Tuesday, on Thursday during the full council meeting,
tried to modestly narrate that day’s event saying: “They were not a crowd
here to make noise but to present their petition peacefully. I could not
give them a position as I realised the issue requires full attention of the
However, mayor Masunda queried the basis on which the bills should be
“Taking due cognisance of the representation made, I would like to find out
if any of the petitioners had their bills annulled by Econet and Net-one,”
Masunda described Chiroto’s summation as too toned down arguing the crowd
was not peaceful.
He said the behaviour displayed by Shumba does not tally with his christian
background while some councillors begged the mayor to disregard the petition
as they feel resident groups are now usurping their role.
Councillor Herbert Gomba accused resident organisations of being used by the
donor community in return for funding and engrossed on the need for council
to constantly engage residents.
“Even if we do well they have to criticise because if they clap hands no
money will come into their coffers. Who represents residents more? Me or
trusts? These trusts have an insatiable appetite to criticise us. The
petition should not be considered,” said Gomba.
Masunda however revealed that government has released some money to clear
the debt. - Xolisani Ncube and Wendy Muperi
Saturday, 10 November 2012 12:59
HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) billing system is set to improve
following a $500 000 injection by the World Bank (WB).
Council’s billing system has been in shambles with most bills based on
estimates, leading to serious defaulting among residents who feel the
authority has been short-changing them.
Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said at a council meeting on Thursday water
provision is set to improve in Harare after the utilisation of the availed
“The money is meant to bankroll water initiatives to be spearheaded by
engineer Christopher Zvobgo and town clerk Tendai Mahachi. The World Bank
also availed a water specialist who held a meeting with the two which looked
at how we can stretch the little water we have to meet the needs of our
residents,” Masunda said.
“The money will among other things be used to improve ICT (Information,
Communication and Technology). Our billing system will be improved,” he
Many residents in Harare’s various suburbs constantly have to do with
erratic water supplies as the city fathers grapple to keep up with demand.
HCC is currently able to produce about 620 mega litres of water but the
demand stands at 1 200 mega litres a day.
Also the funds from WB are likely to provide improved information flow
between council and its various stakeholders through a functioning website.
Masunda said eight council functionaries, five of which their travel bills
will be provided by WB, are set to benefit from skills exchange in South
Africa. - Xolisani Ncube and Wendy Muperi
Posted On : November 9th, 2012 | Updated On : November 9th, 2012
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is using constant election talk as a ruse to prevent
Zanu PF from discussing his succession, with the unintended consequence of
the ploy being the scaring away of investors and sluggish economic growth,
MDC leader Welshman Ncube said.
Report by Owen Gagare
In a wide-ranging interview in which he spoke about his relationship with
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, their continued support for
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, the stalled constitution-making
process and his prospects in the next elections, Ncube said he did not
anticipate polls in March as repeatedly claimed by Mugabe.
Ncube suggested Mugabe may not be serious about early polls given that he
has been calling for elections “tomorrow” since 2010.
“Mugabe has said to us there will be an election every year for the last two
years,” said Ncube.
“There should have been an election before the end of last year. There was
supposed to be an election before the end of this year; now there is
supposed to be an election no later than March next year … Look, there is a
method to that madness and the method is simply to say if I’m having an
election around the corner there is no issue about who is the Zanu PF
Ncube said Mugabe’s antics had kept the country’s economy stagnant for the
past three years as investors adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
“It is a damaging and selfish strategy to make sure the economy does not
grow so that others do not get the credit. So you can go into an election
and say all these others have also been in government with me but they also
Given outstanding processes needing completion before polls, Ncube said it
is likely elections would be held around June 2012. He confirmed he would
contest the presidential poll, but would not forge alliances with the MDC-T
out of which his formation split in 2005 because the MDC-T reneged on an
electoral pact on the eve of the 2008 harmonised elections.
Although he did not share the same values, policies and ideology with
Tsvangirai, Ncube said he had a good working relationship with him in
government. He had also managed to find “comfort zones” to work together
with Mugabe on government business despite having a “disrespectful
disagreement” over the way Mugabe had handled the principals’ issue.
Ncube insisted Mugabe and Tsvangirai were interfering in the internal
affairs of his party by disregarding a High Court ruling and the Sadc Maputo
resolution which declared Mutambara was not a principal.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai’s argument that the matter was still in court after
Mutambara’s appeal to the Supreme Court does not hold water because the
High Court judgment stands until the Supreme Court rules otherwise, said
“If they didn’t want to interfere in the internal affairs of MDC, they would
accept our communication from the party that says the MDC had its congress
and it elected so and so as its president …,” he said.
“Read (Justice) Kamocha’s judgment; it’s clear that the legal position is
that the congress is valid unless there is a court of law which has
overturned it. So what Mugabe and Tsvangirai have done is to say the
congress is invalid unless and until the matter is finalised in the Supreme
Ncube also said Tsvangirai was shooting himself in the foot by siding with
Mugabe, who want a dysfunctional government so he could implement very
little of the Global Political Agreement.
Read the full interview next week.
Land Reform devastated Zimbabwe’s economy for a number of reasons, the main
one being that the commercial farming sector was not simply a few thousand
farmers; it consisted of thousands of companies that made up the largest
business sector. It was also the largest employer, largest foreign exchange
earner, largest supplier of inputs to local commercial and industrial
companies and largest customer for banking, insurance, transport and
by John Robertson
New evidence suggests that Zanu (PF) hopes to win the next election by
forcing yet another massive change of ownership.
But government chose to close it down. And when the commercial farmers were
evicted, often violently, the land was declared to be the property of the
state. This eliminated its market value and collateral value, and when it
was allocated free to war veterans and to any other indigenous Zimbabweans
who had the right political credentials, they did not get security of tenure
or any form of title that might have encouraged them to invest time or money
Successful farming in Zimbabwe’s uncertain tropical climate was always
difficult, but challenges had been overcome by the development of complex
management techniques and capital-intensive cultivation procedures. These
amounted to very demanding and expensive methods, so the replacement of the
skilled farmers with inexperienced, undercapitalised and poorly motivated
beneficiaries of political patronage had little prospect of success.
The country’s largest business sector had been forced through a change of
ownership, but the new Owners were denied the property rights that might
have helped them to keep it working. The people given the farms did have a
few skills, but because they were not permitted to acquire ownership rights,
they could not use the land as collateral for the loans needed to run the
A sharp downturn in food production and export revenues was quickly followed
by shortages of fuel and other essential imports. Before long, Zimbabwe’s
credit rating collapsed and loans from abroad disappeared. Downturns soon
followed in every other sector.
Tax revenues fell, investment stopped, exchange and other controls were
restored and all the moves to liberalise economic policies were reversed.
Zimbabwe became dependent on food aid and was soon experiencing a level of
hyperinflation that placed it in the record books.
Today, the government remains under the control of President Mugabe, even
though his party did not win the most seats in the last election. He
adamantly rejects any obligation to stand down and all the evidence shows
that he deeply resents the disaffection shown by the voters.
However, new evidence suggests that he hopes to win the next election by
forcing yet another massive change of ownership. This time the target is the
companies that are still in the hands of non-indigenous people. And this
time, he says, the transfer will really enrich and empower his supporters.
To bring this about, laws have been enacted that empower the government to
demand that all non-indigenous business owners must transfer 51 percent of
the shares in their companies to indigenous shareholders.
By acquiring controlling interests, the indigenous shareholders will then be
empowered to replace boards of directors. Most probably, they will be
required to work from lists of people that the party wants to see rewarded.
Other descriptions of Zimbabwe’s recent history can easily be constructed,
but the more difficult challenge is to explain why policies that are so
damaging would be chosen, defended and even repeated. This explanation is
specially difficult when nobody doubts that the economy has declined
steeply, that thousands of Zimbabweans have suffered terrible trauma and
that millions have had to leave the country to earn a living.
The feudal Mugabe’s hostility towards property rights, his eagerness to
impose controls on successful businesses and his repeated demonstrations
that loyalty to him will yield recognition and enrichment, strongly supports
the already expressed contention: Mugabe has re-established a feudal State
and is determined to remain entrenched as feudal Head of State. For
appearances sake, he has pretended to aspire to democratic ideals. But while
he is required to say that voters are free to elect somebody else, he has
gone to great lengths to ensure that most would not dare do so. Typical
pre-election tactics over the years have included widespread intimidation
that has cost many lives, and after elections whole communities have been
punished for appearing to have been in sympathy with opposition candidates.
Measures taken to ensure the failure of competitors have also included
attacks on journalists, the physical destruction of opposition newspaper
premises, and attacks on independent radio stations as well as opposition
party headquarters. Mugabe’s vote-catching strategy mainly takes the form of
reminders to everybody that those showing disloyalty to the party face the
real prospect of being victimised by party militia whose members have been
authorised to act with impunity.
Zimbabwe’s politicians have attacked and looted entire productive sectors
for short-term political or financial gain. As of now, for lack of any
effective reaction, they appear to remain free to do so again, anywhere.
Zanu PF has surely done more than enough to attract the opprobrium of every
world body that holds to high standards. But a more powerful reaction is
called for, and not only because the authorities clinging to power in
Zimbabwe have shown themselves to be callously indifferent to the effect
their policies have had on the welfare of the country’s ordinary citizens.
Another fact that ought to be of concern to all outside Zimbabwe’s borders
is that the country’s slide into deeper poverty has turned the country into
a burden on international humanitarian aid resources and will have it
draining finite aid supplies for years to come. This will continue for as
long as it takes to restore the country’s ability to provide adequately for
its own population.
This same long-suffering population also has already had difficulty
surviving the economic devastation caused by the confiscation of the assets
of thousands of farming businesses, which in turn affected the viability of
thousands of other businesses. At independence, Zimbabwe’s new leaders saw
an opportunity for an alternative path; “liberation theology” and the
politics of claiming entitlements in compensation for the wrongs of the past
seemed a much more certain path to prosperity.
The country’s many accomplishments were belittled, its investors and
wealth-creators were ridiculed or accused of achieving success by climbing
onto the backs of the “exploited masses”, their investment in education,
health, housing and other social services was condemned as self-serving and
inadequate and Zanu PF claimed that the entire physical infrastructure was
created to serve nobody but the colonial regime. They tried to ensure that
each real or imagined facet of the country’s colonial history should be
portrayed in terms that would destroy any prospect that things would fall
comfortably into place when, as has now happened, the chances came to make
big changes for the better.
But, concentrated as these efforts have been, most of them have not worked.
Indications suggest that most of the population knows better than to believe
the alternative history presented and most have accurately identified the
reasons for the dramatic decline in their standards of living. So even if
they have to continue working quietly and politely, it seems they will
continue working for change.
Don’t miss Part 4 next week: Zimbabwe has paid a staggeringly high price for
the political leaders’ beliefs that its resources should be up for grabs by
the heroes of the liberation struggle.
November 9, 2012, 12:56 pm
I read the following quotation recently, ‘Truth only reveals itself when one
gives up all preconceived ideas.’ That is not an easy thing to do,
especially in Zimbabwe where the country is now so sharply divided between
two very opposing views. If you are a Mugabe supporter you will
automatically believe every word that falls from Zanu PF lips; conversely if
you support the MDC, you will tend to doubt every word the Mugabe party
says. In the end the only way to determine the truth is to use common sense
and your own judgement based on past experience.
Not for the first time, Zanu PF this week upturned the truth into a
story that was so patently ridiculous, you would have to be ‘intellectually
challenged’ to believe it. It wasn’t the first time they had turned a story
on its head to make them look like the innocent victims of MDC machinations;
we all remember how Zanu PF claimed that a white farmer had trashed his own
home in order to bring disgrace on the former ruling party. This week it was
the vicious attack on a white couple, John and Jackie Kinnaird that led Zanu
PF to claim that the assault was actually perpetrated by the MDC themselves
in order to bring blame on Zanu PF. It so happens that John Kinnaird is the
MDC treasurer for Kadoma and the attack took place at night by youths who
were said to be wearing Zanu PF regalia and using wheel spanners and iron
rods to assault John Kinnaird. The MDC immediately condemned the attack and
blamed Zanu PF; in response, Zanu PF’s spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, remarked
that he thought this was a stage-managed affair in order to tarnish his
party. “The MDC” he said, “is capable of sending its own youths to attack
fellow members as part of a well-orchestrated plan by the former opposition
party to create noise all over the country that there is violence in
Zimbabwe and therefore elections cannot be held in a free and fair manner.”
One clue to help determine the truth is the fact that, despite a police
report being made, there have been no arrests. Past experience tells us that
the avowedly partisan police are known never to take action against Zanu PF
supporters even when there is clear evidence of guilt.
Then came the police raid on the Counselling Services Unit, an
organisation that provides medical and psychological counselling for victims
of torture. Twenty police officers armed with a search warrant raided CSU
offices in Harare. They were looking for ‘offensive and subversive material’
they claimed but all they found were three cans of spray paint. Using the
criteria of common sense and judgement, it seems clear that what the police
were really looking for was the names of their own officers involved in
torture. Incidentally, the police team raiding the CSU offices was headed by
Detective Inspectors Dowa and Makedenge; both of whom have been involved in
previous torture cases. Five men were arrested in the course of the raid but
two have since been released. No charge has been made against the remaining
three and yesterday they were illegally transferred from Harare to Bulawayo
where a magistrate granted them bail. There has been widespread condemnation
of the police raid on the CSU offices but past experience tells Zimbabweans
that the current crackdown on NGOs is connected with the forthcoming
elections. In this atmosphere of political tension it is likely that the
truth will once again be lost in a welter of political propaganda where
finding the actual truth becomes almost impossible, even without
Yours in the (continuing) struggle Pauline Henson
November 10, 2012, 11:24 am
Dear Family and Friends,
When I received the news of the death of an old family friend this week I
felt drawn to the cemetery. It had been a swelteringly hot week and even at
six in the morning the thermometer was in the mid 20’s and heading upwards.
After just a short walk my arms and face were clammy and I was brushing
flies away. Despite the early hour, people were already working on roadside
cultivation plots, uprooting the last of the reeds, bullrushes, red hot
pokers and sedges that once grew in abundance here. Apparently the
diplomatically correct term for this is ‘self apportioned, peri-urban
agriculture,’ in reality it’s the illegal, uncontrolled eradication of
precious wetlands that has gone unchecked for the last decade.
I deliberately turned my gaze away from the asbestos waste, oil filters,
drink cans, broken glass and litter that has been dumped in piles all along
the roadside on the way to the cemetery. My feet should have been walking on
tar but in many places this has been covered by sand and colonised by grass
because there have been no road repairs or storm drain clearing here since
2007. I passed street lights we pay for every month in our utilities
accounts but which haven’t worked since 2004.
Arriving at the cemetery I forced myself not to look at the sweet potato
beds that have been dug up and planted inside the cemetery boundary wire. I
forced myself to walk around and not over the diamond mesh fence that lies
rusting in the grass where it has been for over three years since it was
pulled down but never put back by municipal workers when they cut down the
pine trees that lined the cemetery.
Under the spreading arms of an old Musasa tree are the graves of the family
of Margaret Tredgold. I had hoped to be able to sit on the small bench near
the graves but it has collapsed completely, so I just stood quietly for a
few minutes, remembering. Margaret passed away last week, in England, on the
1st November, aged 102. Lady Margaret Tredgold lived most of her life in
Zimbabwe and was known to so many people for her botanical paintings, stamp
designs, children’s books and her well loved and often consulted books on
wild flowers and food plants of Zimbabwe. Margaret made the most exquisite
‘paper- cut’ cards, inked silhouette drawings, hand-made paper butterflies
and illustrated letters that will always be treasured by those that received
them. More than this, Margaret loved Zimbabwe and its people, especially the
children. Weeding around the edges of the graves I noticed the new stem of a
single flame lily. It couldn’t have been more appropriate as it is two
beautiful flame lilies, painted by Margaret that adorn the front cover of
her book on wild flowers.
Walking home from the cemetery I didn’t see the squalor of half an hour
before, this time I saw the first wild flowers of the new season at my feet.
All are flowers that are so beautifully portrayed in Margaret’s books and
paintings: creeping pink Stud thorns; snowball Sedges; red dwarf
Combretums, early blue Thunbergias and a single, bright orange Lions eye.
What a tribute to a lady who always saw the beauty in Zimbabwe and the gave
it back in her words and art. The new summer wild flowers gave hope, the
same kind of hope described by Barack Obama in his victory speech this
week: “Hope is the stubborn faith inside us that something better exists so
long as we have the courage to keep reaching.” Fambai zvakanaka Margaret.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.