"I don't know if these have been produced for the truckers because so many drivers have HIV," said the man who asked not to be named. "But I'm not sure people will tear these open anyway, because the joke is just too good."
BY WILF MBANGA
LONDON - If the 26 MDC members who have registered for the forthcoming
senatorial elections have not withdrawn their candidature by Saturday this
week they will be deemed to have expelled themselves from the party.
In an exclusive telephone interview with The Zimbabwean, MDC President
Morgan Tsvangirai said a duly constituted meeting of the National Council
was convened at the weekend and took decisions that were binding on the
"Anyone who goes against these decisions will face the disciplinary measures
provided for in our constitution," said Tsvangirai.
The meeting gave the candidates seven days in which to withdraw from the
"If they choose to go ahead and contest the Senate elections they will have
expelled themselves and, in effect, be standing as independents," explained
Tsvangirai. "We do not have a split personality. The MDC decided not to
participate in the elections - so how can the MDC field candidates?"
He rebutted allegations that his intransigence in refusing to dismiss a
'mafia cabinet' of personal advisers was the reason for the split. "These
people are managers in the president's office. They do not usurp the powers
of the elected executives," he said.
Last weekend's meeting was attended by 52 of the 66 council members, with
party chairman Isaac Matongo, who was initially one of the pro-Senate group,
in the chair.
Most members of the dissenting group, who had threatened to boycott the
meeting on the grounds that the President had no powers to call it, sent
their apologies - thus recognising its legitimacy. The rebels, who include
four members of the national executive, appear to have the support of party
executives in the two Matabeleland provinces as well as some districts in
The council meeting decided that a party congress would be held in January,
at which a new executive would be elected. Judging by the mood of the people
in the country at the moment, the congress will, no doubt, endorse the
decisions of the council meeting.
"The whole nation is behind us," asserted Tsvangirai. "This crisis has given
us the opportunity to re-focus. Let Mugabe be the focus of our struggle. Not
Ncube or Sibanda. It is unfortunate that some individuals have resorted to
personal attacks - we should be above that. There is too much at stake."
However, the Ncube camp said the meeting was unlawful because it was not
held in terms of the party constitution. They said its decision was
'fraudulent and thus null and void'. The faction has accused Tsvangirai of
violating the MDC constitution 'willy-nilly' and of being a 'dictator in the
Meanwhile, High Court Judge President Paddington Garwe this week nullified
the suspension of Job Sikhala, National Executive member and MP for St
Mary's (Chitungwiza) on the grounds that the party's constitution does not
give the party president that power. He ordered Tsvangirai to pay the costs.
The MDC President had suspended Sikhala for making false allegations that
the party had received funds from Ghana, Nigeria and Taiwan, in breach of
the law. The party and the three countries denied the allegations and
Sikhala then apologised and withdrew the statement.
Political observers have remarked at the speed with which the High Court has
moved in this case, considering its normally sluggish dealings. For example
several electoral fraud cases from 2000 have still not been heard and there
is a huge backlog on the court roll.
BY MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, MDC PRESIDENT
CHITUNGWIZA - The MDC is gravely concerned about the deteriorating services
in Chitungwiza caused by constant government interference in the running of
Similar moves were taken against the work of the councils in Harare, Chegutu
and Mutare. Ignatius Chombo, the Minister responsible for local government,
interferes with our efforts to work in local government every day. Harare is
in a mess because of that. The same picture is developing in Bulawayo,
Masvingo and other local authorities.
Zanu(PF)is not interested in co-existence. In Chitungwiza, the council
inherited a mess characterised by huge historical service backlogs, a
collapsing sewage system and a shrinking revenue base. Attempts by the MDC
council to rectify these anomalies were sabotaged almost on a daily basis by
a regime which has declared war on its own people.
Take the case of garbage collection, for instance. The city paid Noczim, a
state fuel procurer and distributor, two months ago for diesel. Nothing has
come the city's way, so is the Mayor expected to clear the rubbish?
The money allocated for upgrading the sewer system was diverted by a council
official to support Zanu (PF)'s election campaign. The campaign failed to
bear fruit as its candidates in the March Parliamentary election were
rejected by the people. The council then suspended its official for misusing
the money. Chombo insists that the official be reinstated, lest he fires the
We urge the people of Chitungwiza to organise themselves and confront this
form of unproductive interference. We are against violence in Chitungwiza.
We are against violence against the people. Our party structures must rally
the people and support the Mayor and the council in this struggle.
BY LITANY BIRD
Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe in November is a spectacular country. Young men and women are
graduating from our senior schools and their poise, enthusiasm,
determination and love of Zimbabwe is exemplary. Listening to and watching
these future leaders of our country makes me know, without a doubt, that
there will be change in our land and it will be a change for the better.
Every day, as the rainy season draws closer, the sky gets darker and heavier
and the temperatures take you to melting point. The trees are glorious in
these last hot days before the rain: Msasas coming into pod, Acacias covered
in new leaf, Jacarandas bathed in hot purple flowers and Flamboyant trees,
almost too beautiful for words, draped in spectacular red flowers. Many of
the streets and avenues are lined with Bauhinia trees, alternately pink and
white flowering and now covered in long curling pods.
The Bougainvilleas planted on the outskirts of many of our towns years ago,
are also in full flower at the moment, covered in great cascading streams of
gold, white and purple blooms. The birds at this time of year are a delight
too; paradise flycatchers showing off their long orange breeding tails,
nightjars calling for mates and trailing exquisite white breeding pennants
and orange-eyed glossy starlings patrolling sunburnt, termite infested
Some evenings as the flying ants stream out of dry dusty holes in the
ground, it is just breathtaking watching birds arrive from all directions,
swooping and swerving, gorging on the fat, buttery insects. The European
migrants have started arriving, with swifts and swallows regularly visible.
It does not bear thinking what will happen if bird flu arrives here where
experts are few and far between, travel nearly impossible due to fuel
shortages and where people are so hungry they will be hard pushed not to eat
dead birds if they find them.
And this week there is a feeling of blessed relief in our town. Because the
MDC here did not nominate candidates for the approaching Senate elections,
we will not have any voting. For a rare change we are not being harassed and
intimated and forced to attend rallies and meetings. We are not being
visited by large-chested women wearing clothes decorated with the President's
Women who bang on our gates, write our names down in their little exercise
books and scare us into giving donations for ruling party rallies. Our
streets are quiet these evenings, we greet neighbours and strangers happily
and the talk is of growing food and of rain. This time, thankfully, our town
is spared from election madness, spared from the indignity of trying so
hard, risking so much and then having to watch the manipulation afterwards.
There is much to be thankful for this November. Until next week, Ndini
When you have a healthy constitution you hardly notice it. But if you are
sick you're aware of it all the time. So it is with the Constitution of a
country. It is there to enable people to grow and develop. It is there to
open doors. It is not there to impede and restrict. Drafting a constitution
means harmonizing my freedom with yours, balancing rights and duties,
openings and constraints. When it works, as I say, you do not even think of
it. It is like bodily health.
In Zambia today they are working on a new constitution. There are verbal
battles as different interest groups grapple to get their view across. It is
a battleground where selfishness and magnanimity fight it out. Constitutions
inherited from colonizers have not protected citizens; have not opened doors
to growth and development. They have been easily manipulated by selfish
interests. Leaders have ignored them without being called to account. The
struggle now is to formulate a constitution that binds everyone and for that
to happen it has to have everyone's consent.
It is impossible to achieve this consent if there is no freedom to debate,
where one side wants to write the constitution and every one else has to
just go along with it. Where there is no consent it is like building on
In Zimbabwe the debate was closed in February 2000 when the people rejected
the government's plans. Instead of addressing the issues underlying that
rejection the whole process came to a halt. Now we are realizing that a
constitution that really has everyone's consent can be a way forward. The
search for it can unite people of different interests.
Some of the fiercest words in the gospel are reserved for those who block
the freedom of others to grow and flourish. 'They tie up heavy burdens and
lay them on people's shoulders but will they lift a finger to move them? Not
they!' (Matt 23). You can sense the anger of Jesus against those who oppress
others and block their freedom. In many countries it is taken for granted
that you can live where you choose, start your own business, speak your mind
and associate with whom you will. The constitution is there to protect the
basic freedoms of people. It is a kind of adaptation of the Ten Commandments
to suit a particular environment. It is like an irrigation channel that that
both restricts and frees at the same time.
The American Ambassador Chris Dell has been personally vilified for his
straight talking about the causes of Zimbabwe's crisis. Mr Dell's recent
official address at Africa University was a breath of fresh air.
We are all sick to death of foreign diplomats who pussy-foot around the real
issues and hide behind diplomatic-speak in an effort to avoid Mugabe's
It's about time the Mugabe regime was told a few home truths. Shooting the
messenger is its classic knee-jerk reaction to the unpalatable truth. And so
far, fear of being shot has silenced the vast majority of would-be critics.
Shame on them.
Instead of addressing the issues raised by Dell, the authorities resorted to
a clumsy smear campaign, revealing their true nature as a bunch of thugs who
use fear and intimidation to silence their critics.
It is interesting to note that the ministry of information has been leaking
like a sieve to the government media about Mugabe's intention to summon Dell
to a meeting. Why has this not come from foreign affairs? And why threaten
the man through the press? Why not just summon him and let the press report
We hope neither Dell nor his government will allow themselves to be bullied
by these thugs. Almost all the points contained in his paper have been
covered by this newspaper during the past 10 months. Every Zimbabwean knows
them to be true. And if they don't they are deluding themselves. Studies and
statistics can back up everything he said.
Censoring Zimbabweans is one thing - and the Mugabe regime is a past master
at that. But censoring diplomats is quite another. Dell comes from a free
country where people are used to speaking their minds. Zimbabwean diplomats
in the United States and elsewhere have been critical of western
governments - but they have not been summoned to the President's offices to
be scolded like naughty schoolboys.
Concluding our series of extracts from The Feasibility of Democracy in
Africa by Claude Ake in which the author considers the future prospects for
democracy in Africa.
Considering the difficulties of democratization even in the best of
circumstances, the spread and the intensity of the struggle for
democratization has been remarkable. The idea of democracy is seriously
engaged in Africa in a manner which will not only be decisive for Africa but
also for democracy. It is clear enough from these country experiences that
democratization is not just a fad in the way that some development
strategies have been, or a reaction to political liberalization in Eastern
Europe, or an expression of the contradictions of westernization or the
product of political conditionality. It is expressing a very deep need for
self-realization, a need so deep as to elicit arduous effort and monumental
risks. Without exceptions the democratization processes reviewed briefly
here attest to this.
If there is no doubt about the commitment and the intensity of the struggle,
the question of the achievement of this commitment is less clear. At first
sight the achievement looks impressive. To begin with, while in assessing
what the commitment has achieved in substantive democratization, it should
not be forgotten that the very commitment itself is an achievement, not only
because it is sustained in the face of formidable obstacles and dangers, but
also because it contributes a great deal to the feasibility of democracy.
Democratic behaviour does not come naturally to most people, and the
existence of democracy can never be taken for granted; it has to be defended
in daily struggles, at any rate, in 'eternal vigilance'.
The commitment has also yielded concrete results. The surge of
democratization is changing the legacy of dictatorship, military regimes and
single-party rule in Africa. . By the end of 1994 virtually every country in
Africa, except some like Sudan, Liberia and Sierra Leone which were fighting
a civil war or virtually in a state of anarchy (Zaire) or just recovering
from a civil war (Uganda), had held multi-party elections or were on the
verge of doing so.
It is tempting to read too much into these developments. Welcome as they
are, they suggest rather more progress towards democracy than the realities
on the ground. To begin with, the democratization process in contemporary
Africa is largely an urban phenomenon. It has hardly engaged the rural areas
where 60 to 80 per cent of Africans live. This relative exclusion of the
rural areas is not only due to the physical isolation and economic
marginalization of the rural areas, it also has to do with the sociology of
It is problem enough that the new democratic politics is largely confined to
the urban areas. But, worse, it has tended to be dominated by the
Westernized elite, especially university teachers and students, labour
leaders, business leaders, human rights lawyers and activists, and prominent
politicians some of whom had collaborated with the rulers against whom they
now agitate. The influence of this leadership is moving the democracy
movement from its social base and to a shallow form of democratization. The
tendency to reduce democratization to multi-party election is not so much an
imposition of Western supporters of democratization in Africa as a
reflection of the social base of the leadership of the democracy movement.
It is disturbing that in too many countries in Africa, democratization is
little more than an opening for elites who were previously excluded from
power to compete for it.
But in so far as democratization is limited to the competitive selection by
political society at large of those to control the state, what has been
gained in the end is only the right to choose between oppressors, not the
right to choose between liberty and oppression. Democratization should offer
much more than what it appears to be offering now, namely, electoral
competition which conceals the illusion of voting without choosing. ..
It is going to be extremely difficult to find political arrangements, values
and practices which enable expression of the democratic will of the people
in the African context. Existing political arrangements and their
assumptions are quite alien to the cultural experience of rural Africa. .
The democracy movement in Africa does not appear to reflect sufficiently the
fact that for most people in rural Africa the national political society is
really an incomprehensible abstraction. Their sense of political community
tends to be localized, as does the focus of their primary political identity
and loyalty. Having very little sense of affinity and the sharing of common
concerns with the national political society, existing forms of democratic
participation tend to make little sense.
Africa has come a long way with democratization but there is still a very
long way to go.
- Thanks to the publishers for permission. Source: Ake, Claude, The
Feasibility of Democracy in Africa. Dakar: Council for the Development of
Social Science Research in Africa, 2000, pp.72-74.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
BULAWAYO - Just days after Voice of the People VOP listeners thought their
favourite radio station was back on air using a different frequency, jammers
managed to disrupt the powerful Radio Netherlands transmitter in Madagascar
Sources at the station told The Zimbabwean of their frustration as they
alleged CIO operatives and Chinese experts were celebrating their success.
But they are determined to go on fighting. "Journalism to us is like
revolution and we see ourselves as revolutionaries who should be part of
change in Zimbabwe," said the sources.
BY WURAYAYI ZEMBE
It is now beyond question that the Zanu (PF) regime of Robert Mugabe has
completely failed to run the business of state. The constitutional base,
too, has collapsed. Zimbabwe is now plagued by rampant corruption and
dictatorship that have devoured millions of lives.
A new, people-driven, democratic constitution is the only peaceful solution
to the country's problems.
A democratic constitution is an open declaration of self-determination that
represents an expression and embodiment of 'people power'. It enshrines
fundamental principles of public governance, by a political authority, based
on people's democratic values, transparency and fair play. Simply put, a
democratic constitution is the main instrument at the centre of state
In the Zimbabwean context, historically a democratic constitution marks the
beginning of real independence, self-determination and legitimate democratic
A democratic constitution will put an end to the current political
dictatorship that has destroyed our country. Among other things, a good
constitution provides for democratic rules and regulations governing
elections. Competitive free and fair democratic elections give birth to
legitimate governments that govern on the basis of 'constitutional rule or
law.' Zimbabwe desires to be a multi-party constitutional democracy.
On 12 February 1994 the Democratic Party (DP) passed a grand resolution
demanding, inter alia, a native constitution and democratic electoral rules
and administrative mechanisms as preconditions for the holding of democratic
free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. The party then resorted to a political
strategy of boycott and civil disobedience to counteract bogus elections
called and organised by the Zanu (PF) regime. In 1995 and 1996 the people of
Zimbabwe resoundingly boycotted both parliamentary and presidential bogus
elections respectively. Thus the illegitimate despotic regime had been
isolated and its tyrannical nature fully exposed!
The DP's constitutional demand was given impetus in 1997 when a civic body,
the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), was established initially under
the auspices of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. Automatically the party
became a founding institutional member of the NCA and the only political
party that participated in the NCA's first public demonstration demanding a
new democratic constitution for Zimbabwe.
NCA as a civic constitutional movement was able to harness and marshal
democratic forces represented by institutional and individual members
towards the call for a people-driven constitution in the country.
In 1999 the Mugabe regime succumbed to pressure and decided to hijack the
constitutional issue by establishing a Constitutional Commission (CC) to
which Mugabe appointed his political stooges and sycophants as
commissioners, 400 of them. The purpose of the Commission was to prevent the
people from producing a democratic constitution. Mugabe's commission
authored a document which the regime offered to the people through a bogus
referendum in February 2000. People rejected it. Mugabe's regime made an
acrobatic u-turn to re-adopt the long expired Lancaster House constitution
(kudzokera kumarutsi sombwa).
Since then, the regime has been holding bogus elections. The DP boycotted
all these elections, constituent with its 1994 resolution. All other
political parties participated in the fraudulent shameless elections thereby
giving false legitimacy to the brutal regime.
The people of Zimbabwe must make their demand for a democratic constitution
by confronting the Mugabe regime through open demonstrations and civil
- Zembe is the president of DP and a member of the NCA Taskforce and the
chairperson of the NCA's Political Parties Liaison Committee.