The ZIMBABWE Situation
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MDC-T Boycotts GNU Over Bennett
Thursday, 15 October 2009 20:15
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Thursday cancelled a council of
ministers meeting in protest against the incarceration of MDC treasurer Roy
Bennett, amid reports that the premier and ministers from his party were
mooting a suspension of government business until the embattled politician's
Sources in the MDC and the donor community said Tsvangirai and his
ministers would boycott government business until Bennett is released and
sticking issues of the global political agreement are resolved.
Senior MDC officials, the sources said, had on Wednesday briefed
members of the donor community on that decision.
The MDC national executive is expected to meet today to endorse the
Bennett, who is facing charges of possessing arms for the purposes of
terrorism and banditry and inciting acts of insurgency, was on Wednesday
indicted for trial to the High Court and locked up by Mutare provincial
magistrate Lucy Mungwari.
Bennett has to apply for fresh bail as the law states that when one is
indicted he or she automatically loses bail granted by a lower court.
However, the MDC said transferring Bennett's case to the High Court
was a "sinister move meant to scuttle his appointment as deputy Agriculture
Tsvangirai's spokesperson James Maridadi yesterday confirmed that the
council of ministers meeting was cancelled by the premier after the MDC
summoned him to deal with the Bennett issue.
"The council of ministers meeting did not take place today (yesterday)
because the prime minister postponed it to attend to urgent party matters -
the issue of Roy Bennett," Maridadi said.
He said Tsvangirai had since Wednesday tried in vain to meet President
Robert Mugabe over the Bennett issue.
"Up to today (yesterday) the prime minister has been trying to meet
the president because the Bennett issue is pertinent," Maridadi said.
He declined to comment on reports that Tsvangirai and ministers from
the MDC had resolved to boycott government business until Bennett and other
outstanding issues were resolved.
However, Maridadi was quoted in online publications confirming that
Tsvangirai has suspended going to his government office and would work from
the MDC headquarters - Harvest House - until Bennett's issue was resolved.
"The council of ministers (meeting on Thursday) has been cancelled.
The prime minister has suspended his coming to the office until the issue of
Senator Bennett is resolved. He wants that matter resolved immediately,"
Maridadi was quoted as saying.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa denied that they were boycotting
government business saying it was just "speculation".
He, however, said the party's national executive was going to meet
today to discuss the way forward on Bennett's case and other outstanding
The MDC top leadership yesterday held a crisis meeting at Harvest
House and they are expected to make their decision today, after which
Tsvangirai is expected to brief the media and later diplomats.
Bennett's lawyer, Harrison Nkomo of Mtetwa & Nyambirai Legal
Practitioners yesterday, said they filed an urgent bail application at the
High Court and the matter would be heard today.
"The hearing has been set down for tomorrow (today) at 9am at the High
Court," said Nkomo.
Meanwhile, Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe Sten Rylander whose country
holds the European Union presidency yesterday said the renewed indictment
and subsequent detention of Bennett was nothing less than provocative given
the on-going political processes in the country.
"This action - taken just prior to very important donor discussions on
Zimbabwe, together with other negative developments recently, such as the
implied threats against independent media practitioners and the intense
attacks on Finance minister Tendai Biti in his efforts to pave the way for
continued macroeconomic reforms and debt relief - does not facilitate the
on-going dialogue to normalise relations with Zimbabwe," Rylander said.
The US embassy acting public affairs officer Andrew Posner said his
government is very concerned about the state of the rule of law in Zimbabwe
and ongoing politicised arrests and prosecutions.
Posner said: "Zanu PF's leadership has repeatedly failed to implement
provisions in the global political agreement, an agreement President Mugabe
himself signed. Mr Bennett has been awaiting swearing-in as deputy minister
of Agriculture since the start of the transitional government in early
"This is a blatant example of the absence of rule of law in Zimbabwe
and is a transparent attempt to prevent Roy Bennett from being sworn-in as
deputy minister of Agriculture." He added: "We note that the prosecution
has never presented any credible evidence against Mr Bennett. We understand
that he has complied with all court requirements, including presenting
himself to police on a regular basis, during a lengthy pre-trial period."
Posner further called on the Zanu PF leadership to act in good faith
and end the harassment of members of the MDC, Bennett included.
The MDC on its website described Bennett's imprisonment as "yet
another serious attack on the credibility of the inclusive government". The
move would poison both the letter and the spirit of the inclusive
government, it said.
Tsvangirai Meets Biti, Gono Over Conflict
Thursday, 15 October 2009 20:10
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has taken dramatic steps to resolve
the conflict between Finance minister Tendai Biti and Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono which has partially paralysed government operations as the two
battled for control of the financial levers of the state.
Tsvangirai's move could bring an end to a long drawn-out struggle
which has been going on since February while disrupting the smooth running
Biti and Gono have been fighting over a wide range of issues. Their
turf war spread to reforms of the central bank, including amendments to the
Reserve Bank Act designed to rein-in Gono. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Amendment Bill is expected to be tabled when parliament resumes sitting on
A bruising fight is expected in parliament across party political
lines unless Tsvangirai defuses tensions between the two beforehand. MDC MPs
are likely to support the amendments while Zanu PF legislators could resist
them, creating a potentially explosive situation in the delicately-balanced
lower house and a stumbling block in the Zanu PF-controlled senate.
Biti and Gono have also been fighting over the International Monetary
Fund (IMF)'s US$512 million funds given to Zimbabwe, government loans, debt
clearance strategy, control of central bank assets, correlation between
fiscal and monetary policies and even the distribution of Reserve Bank cars
and other official vehicles to MPs and ministers.
Informed sources said Tsvangirai, who has been exploring ways of
resolving the issue for months now, met Biti and Gono yesterday for lunch at
his Strathaven house in Harare. The prime minister had initially met the two
at his Munhumutapa offices on Tuesday and Wednesday before yesterday's
Tsvangirai's spokesman James Maridadi confirmed the meetings. "What I
know is that the prime minister met them separately yesterday (Wednesday)
and was further supposed to meet them today (Thursday) as well," Maridadi
Biti was not available for comment. His cellphone was repeatedly busy
at the time of calling before it became unreachable.
Gono would neither confirm nor deny the meetings.
"Which meetings exactly am I said to have attended with the prime
minister? When and where? To discuss what? If indeed I met him what's wrong
with that? Am I not part of the inclusive government?" Gono said.
"Is your paper trying to say it must be consulted first about my diary
or that of the prime minister before people could hold meetings or do
business? Is the prime minister or myself prohibited from holding meetings
and which law says that?"
The battle over IMF funds has been damaging. Although Biti got the IMF's
backing, most of the money remained in Gono's custody. The minister argued
as head of treasury and fiscal authority, he was empowered in terms of the
constitution to assume control of IMF funds, while the central governor said
he had jurisdiction as chief policy advisor to government on monetary
Biti said the bulk of the money would go to infrastructure
development, lines of credit for exporters and budgetary support. Gono
wanted the money directed into mining, manufacturing, tourism,
recapitalisation of public enterprises and repayment of government debts.
Tsvangirai is said to have proposed a plan of how the money should be spent.
Chanakira Quits KML
Thursday, 15 October 2009 20:06
EMBATTLED Kingdom Meikles Ltd (KML) chief executive officer Nigel
Chanakira has quit the blue chip company after reaching an agreement
yesterday with his bitter rival and largest shareholder, John Moxon, to
conclude the firm's demerger. The agreement renders today's extraordinary
general meeting (EGM) a non-event.
Chanakira and Moxon have been entangled in a boardroom fight for the
control of KML since shareholders agreed to demerge the firm in June. The
spat resulted in the specification of KML, Moxon and his family members.
In a joint statement last night Moxon and Chanakira said they reached
an agreement to resolve outstanding issues related to the demerger.
Under the agreement, Chanakira ceases to be the chief executive with
immediate effect while his board nominees Sibusisiwe Bango and Callisto
Jokonya will also exit KML.
"These developments effectively render the EGM scheduled for tomorrow
(today) a non-event," the joint statement read.
The Moxon family represented by John, according to the agreement,
would at the time of the Kingdom Financial Holdings Ltd (KFHL) listing swap
their KFHL shares for Meikles Africa Limited (MAL) shares and thereafter in
time sell their balance in KFHL to Valleyfield Investments and its nominated
companies, represented by Chanakira.
"This will result in Valleyfield becoming a significant shareholder in
KFHL," the statement added. "The Moxon family companies will retain their
significant shareholdings in the Meikles Ltd post de-merger."
Moxon and Chanakira said KFHL and Meikles would advise the relevant
regulatory authorities about the agreement and apply to have the
specification of KML and other parties lifted.
"Both companies will also apply to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange for the
re-listing of their shares. We the undersigned confirm that the negotiations
were amicable and showed goodwill which ends the inordinate delay to the
de-merger of KML," the statement said Chanakira should head now KFHL as the
current chief executive officer Onias Makamba is expected to leave the
financial institution after finally agreeing on a package.
Nestlé Threatened Over Cancelled Milk Deal
Thursday, 15 October 2009 20:03
NESTLÉ Zimbabwe has in the past fortnight received threats from
various quarters, among them Zanu PF youths and government officials, after
it stopped buying milk from First Lady Grace Mugabe's Gushungo Holdings. The
threats came amid revelations that Nestle had no direct contract to buy milk
from Mugabe's farm.
This comes a week after the Reserve Bank temporarily froze the firm's
bank accounts and ordered forensic audits.
The freeze was lifted last Friday but the central bank did not
disclose to Nestlé what it wanted to probe.
Sources at Nestlé told the Zimbabwe Independent that on Friday the
police visited the firm's factory where they asked a number of questions
before they left without explaining what they wanted the information for.
"It is true that police officers visited the factory and asked the
members of staff about the operations of the company," one of the sources
said. "They made enquiries about the directorship of the company and other
general questions before they left. What is worrying is why they chose to
visit the factory and not the head office which is in the central business
Apart from the police, the sources said, the firm received telephone
calls from Zanu PF youths threatening to take over the company.
"We have also been receiving a number of threats from some interested
parties and some are even saying they would come here (to the head office)
and deal with us," the source said. "This is not something we are taking
seriously mainly because we have realised that these are people who are
getting angry on behalf of someone else."
Information gathered by the Independent has shown that the supply of
milk to Nestlé by Gushungo Holdings was through a third party contract
earlier this year and it was not meant to be a permanent arrangement.
Gushungo Holdings was not at first directly contracted to Nestlé as it
supplied its milk to Dairibord before it abandoned the company after it
failed to pay for deliveries on time.
Eight other milk suppliers were affected by the decision to stop
accepting milk from Grace's farm.
Gushungo Holdings together with the other affected farmers were under
the category of non-contract farmers on Nestlé's list of milk suppliers.
Nestle has seven permanent milk suppliers.
Nestle won the 2009 Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries exporter of
the year award and it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nestlé which is
headquartered in Switzerland.
The Swiss Confederation on behalf of the milk processing company
entered into a bilateral agreement with the government of Zimbabwe signed 13
The milk processing company was put under international pressure to
stop accepting milk from the First Lady's farm.
Last week's freezing of Nestlé's bank accounts sent negative signals
to potential investors.
This has been compounded by the withdrawal by Shoprite from a R167
million proposed deal which would have seen the South African retail giant
buying a significant stake in OK Zimbabwe.
Battle Lines Drawn Over VP Selection
Thursday, 15 October 2009 19:55
THE absence of a clear senior leader from former PF-Zapu is hampering
the nomination of a potential candidate to fill the vacant post of
vice-president, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said
yesterday. Mutasa said the decision by the politburo to task the three
Matabeleland provinces to nominate a candidate was reached after realisation
that there was no clear senior leader to take up the second vice-presidency
of Zanu PF.
However, this was dismissed by senior Zanu PF officials in the party's
provinces who said it was Mutasa who was unaware of former PF Zapu's leaders'
An irritated Mutasa told the Zimbabwe Independent that when
Vice-President Joshua Nkomo died, it was clear that the late Joseph Msika
would take over.
"In fact the nomination is going to come from all the 10 provinces. We
never said we wanted a nomination - what we wanted was a selection of a
candidate and that is different from nomination," said Mutasa. "All we are
saying is that in the past "mukuru wavo aizikanwa" (it was clear who the
senior leader is).
"It was clear who the leader was after VaNkomo died and it was also
the same when VaMsika took over, they were not challenged."
But now, he said the situation was different and because of the
absence of a clear leader to succeed Msika, there was a scramble for power
in the provinces.
"Currently, which we never did in the past, we have got to engage.
There is need for this exercise to select one person from Matabeleland
provinces who will take over," said Mutasa.
Senior members of the party based in Matabeleland are opposed to his
views, saying the position of vice- president should not be regionalised.
One politburo member based in Bulawayo, who preferred not to be named,
said the way the selection was being done was causing unnecessary conflict
in the region and in the party.
He said such statements by Mutasa were dangerous and uninformed.
"Statements by Mutasa are coming from someone who is not clear himself
about who is senior or not. It is him who is not clear, not us," the
The Matabeleland provinces resolved recently at a meeting in Bulawayo
attended by central committee members from the region that the nomination
should be done by all the party's 10 provinces.
Mutasa refused to reveal which provinces had submitted names, saying
he would release such information to his boss, President Robert Mugabe and
He said as far as he was concerned the politburo decision still stood
and the provinces' decision to go national had not been communicated to him.
"I am not going to tell you. Are you my president, are you in the
politburo? Why should I tell you (names submitted by provinces)?" Mutasa
demanded to know. "They (Matabeleland provinces) have not told me.
(Richard) Ndlovu (acting political commissar) is not the secretary for
administration. He is not in the provinces in Matabeleland. He is just a
member of the politburo and he has not communicated to me. Zvinhu Zvataurwa
nepaper (these are newspaper reports) - that is not our position. Our
position remains the same."
Another politburo member in Bulawayo said Mutasa cannot speak on
behalf of the politburo without convening a meeting.
"He is speaking on his own behalf. Has he convened a meeting with the
politburo? It is the politburo that makes that kind of pronouncement. Our
position is very clear, that this position is that of a national leader not
a regional leader and the nomination has to be done nationally," the
politburo member said.
"We convened a meeting with all people involved, central committee and
politburo members. We don't want to tribalise Zanu PF because there are
other PF-Zapu members in other provinces, why just members from Matabeleland
provinces? We, as the region, are just going to play an advisory role,
whilst we go national."
Mutasa has warned that the politburo would select a candidate for
nomination to the post of vice-president if the three provinces fail to
agree on a single candidate by Wednesday.
The provinces failed to meet the Wednesday deadline for the selection
process and the three provinces are still to submit their names.
Matabeleland North has not yet met but is said to be backing politburo
member Obert Mpofu, whilst politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu has confirmed
that Bulawayo's choice is John Nkomo and reports say Matabeleland South has
also thrown its weight behind the party chairman.
The politburo member was adamant that Mpofu should not even be up for
consideration because he was not a member of PF-Zapu at the time when the
Unity Accord was signed in 1987.
"That person was never in PF-Zapu since Independence. He is just
someone who just emerged after PF-Zapu and he now wants to be Vice-President
representing PF-Zapu. When was he in PF-Zapu?" he said.
In terms of the 1987 Unity Accord, the Vice-President's position is
reserved for former PF-Zapu and in an unwritten understanding so is the
Extended Exam Deadlines Wreak Havoc
Thursday, 15 October 2009 19:53
ZIMBABWE Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) yesterday said only 139
000 out of 380 000 Ordinary and Advanced Level students had registered for
this year's public examinations that have been marred by chaotic
preparations. The council said 120 400 Ordinary and 18 500 Advanced Level
candidates registered for the examinations compared to 239 430 and 138 000
The low number of registered candidates was as a result of the
exorbitant examination fees, which were pegged at US$10 and US$20 per 'O'
and 'A' Level subjects, which most parents could not afford.
David Coltart, the Education minister, recently said government was
working on modalities to ensure that students who failed to raise the fees
sit for the examinations and pay later.
Zimsec director Happy Ndanga told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday
that the council was in a quandary as to how many question papers to print
and send to each examination centres after the government directive.
"Without the actual entry figures we cannot tell what numbers to pack
per centre per subject. We cannot issue a timetable, print attendance
registers and order mark sheets," Ndanga said.
The deadline for registration was extended last month to today.
On the printing of the examination papers, Ndanga said this was
"progressing well" but he lamented the decision to extend the registration
He said if they had stuck to the original deadline, the "printer would
have finished printing and packing and sent the full consignment by Monday
21st October enabling examinations to begin by the second week of November".
Ndanga added: "Until we know that information and supply it to the
printer, he will not know how many question papers to pack.
"We therefore cannot issue a realistic timetable (of the examinations)
until we are certain that the packing lists are available and the packing
can be done in the available time."
An unnamed South African company has been contracted to print the
There are fears that the writing of public examinations could spill
over to early next year, a situation that will further prejudice candidates.
Results of all public examinations written last year were only released late
into this year.
Tsvangirai Secures Agric Inputs
Thursday, 15 October 2009 19:46
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office has secured inputs for the
summer farming season to be distributed through a three-tier programme
targeting all groups of farmers. According to the latest edition of the
Prime Minister's Newsletter, Tsvangirai was working with line ministries,
farmers organisations, multilateral financial institutions such as the World
Bank and communities to ensure adequate inputs to farmers.
Communal farmers, the newsletter said, would benefit from a
smallholder inputs scheme supported by the Multi Donor Trust Fund through
the World Bank, while the Zimbabwe Farmers Union who have received support
from the European Union will coordinate support for small scale farmers.
The Ministry of Agriculture would work with commercial banks to fund
commercial farmers, and these include A2 farmers.
A planning document from the prime minister's office, the newsletter
reported, projected that over one million rural households would access free
seed, fertiliser and expertise in the smallholder inputs scheme funded by
Rural farmers produce the bulk of grain consumed locally hence the
priority in offering them free input to jumpstart production after years of
poor harvests caused by drought and inputs shortages, the newsletter said.
"In this programme government and donors will provide free seeds,
fertiliser and agricultural extension services while communities will plant
at least 500 000 hectares of maize and sorghum nationally. The programme is
aimed at ensuring food self-sufficiency at household and national level in
Zimbabwe from 2009 onwards," read the planning document.
Under the programme, 630 000 households would receive seed and
fertilisers (Compound D and Ammonium Nitrate) and another 370 000 households
will get top dressing fertiliser only.
"The goal of the programme is to plant at least 500 000 hectares of
maize in the 2009/2010 summer cropping season in Zimbabwe. This means that
each small scale farmer should plant at least 0,5 hectares.
With the seed, fertiliser and extension support, government
anticipates that each farmer will get a harvest of at least one tonne/0,5Ha
of maize or 20 bags if there is normal rainfall as has been predicted," the
document said. "This means that if there is good rainfall, we will harvest
at least 100 000 tonnes of maize. This will be adequate to ensure both
household and national food security."
Beneficiaries of the inputs would be selected by their community's
management committees. -- Staff Writer.
Kurebwa Sings a Different Song at ZHRC Interview
Thursday, 15 October 2009 19:36
UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe political scientist Joseph Kurebwa may be known
for toeing the Zanu PF party line but when it comes to interviews he seems
to know that making partisan remarks could cost him an esteemed post.
After making his way to the senate chambers where a panel of five
interviewers led by MDC-T senator Obert Gutu where ready to fire seven
structured questions to would-be commissioners of the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Commission, Kurebwa maintained his composure and made startling remarks for
a man often associated with Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe.
About a dozen people, who included Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
director Irene Petras, closely followed the interview from the public
gallery where they had a bird's eye view of Kurebwa who made a controversial
pre-election survey tipping Mugabe to score a "majority win" in last year's
Mugabe, however, lost to his long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai in the
first round of elections. Tsvangirai failed to garner the mandatory majority
to form a government.
A presidential run off that was marred by human rights abuses forced
Tsvangirai to pull out of contestation and resultantly Mugabe became
"victorious" in a one man race.
Kurebwa's survey was labeled by the MDC-T as a Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) project after it was disowned by the University of
Zimbabwe's political science department. Kurebwa was one of the senior
editors of the defunct Daily Mirror after it was wrestled away from academic
Ibbo Mandaza by the CIO.
"The game", as Gutu explained the rules of engagement, was ready to
It's Monday morning and 34 of the 37 short-listed candidates are
eyeing to become one of the eight commissioners of the long awaited Zimbabwe
Human Rights Commission. Constitutional law expert Geoff Feltoe and Jester
Charewa, chairperson of Women's Land and Water Rights in Southern Africa,
withdrew from the race.
Petronella Nyamapfene, the first candidate scheduled to be
interviewed, failed to make it on time despite a two-hour delay in
commencing the interview.
When asked what experience he had on human rights issues, Kurebwa
claimed that he had played a role in documenting human rights violations
committed during past elections.
"I am an educator by calling, lecturing in the political science
department. I was also involved in investigating cases of political violence
in past elections,"
Kurebwa -- who has penned several articles in state media in support
of Mugabe and Zanu PF, said: "I have also worked with the youth and
refugees. I am competent not only on the theoretical level but practical
level as well."
On whether the commission would remain autonomous he said: "One should
not succumb to political pressure from the executive or judiciary."
People, Kurebwa added, have "tended to lose interest in the justice
system" and it would be the duty of the commission to help people whose
rights have been violated to find redress.
When further questioned to explain his understanding of the watchdog
role of the commission, the University of Zimbabwe political science
department chairman said the commission should be "alert to the challenges
of society" and must exercise impartiality and competence.
He added that the commission should be very "visible".
All 34 short-listed candidates generally agreed that Zimbabwe's human
rights record was appalling. Next on the list of interviewees was Zimbabwe
Doctors for Human Rights chairman Douglas Gwatidzo.
"Human rights are not really understood in this country," Gwatidzo
Government's perception of human rights as an "imported culture", he
argued, could stifle the efficiency of the commission if not addressed.
Information gathered by the Zimbabwe Independent suggests that 16
finalists that include lawyers Ellen Sithole, Elasto Mugwadi, Stewart
Nyakotyo, Kucaca Phulu, Sethulo Ncube, Jacob Mudenda, former legal officer
in the attorney-general's office Irene Sithole, former Bulawayo mayor Japhet
Ndabeni Ncube and National University Science and Technology lecturer Temba
Caroll Khombe had been nominated to become commissioners.
Other contenders included Eunice Velepini, Benhilda Makomva, Neseni
Nomathemba and Kwanele Jirira
Former Zanu PF MP Mavis Madzonga, retired Anglican Archbishop
Sebastian Bakare and Zanu PF politburo member Joshua Malinga were among some
of the candidates who failed to make it to the final list.
Bakare, according to parliamentary sources, failed to make it after he
proved unable to distinguish the difference between women's and children's
rights. Malinga and Madzonga also reportedly performed poorly during the
President Mugabe will appoint eight from the prospective candidates
short-listed by the parliamentary Standing Rules and Orders Committee. But
what is clear is neither Kurebwa nor Gwatidzo are eligible to chair the
commission as dictated by law.
The chairman should be a qualified lawyer who has practised for at
least five years. The Human Rights Commission, the constitution further
reads, will have the power to take over and continue any investigation that
has been instituted by the public prosecutor.
An Act of parliament is however yet to be passed to give teeth to the
"An Act of Parliament may confer power on the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Commission to secure or provide appropriate redress for violations of human
rights and for injustice," reads part of the Supreme law.
That Zimbabwe needs urgent reforms to meet basic human rights standard
is in the public domain. An interview with a white commercial farmer or
pressure groups who have faced the brutality of Zanu PF functionaries or
state agents reflects the dire human rights conditions in the country.
Conflicting Views on MDC-T Constitution Amendment
Thursday, 15 October 2009 19:32
AN organisation, be it in business or politics, that does not have a
succession plan is a danger to itself and its members.
When the MDC included in its constitution of 2000 a maximum of two
five-year terms for its leaders, it was seen as a democratic force walking
in the footsteps of South Africa's ANC, which has provided the best form of
democracy in Africa so far. It has had four presidents in a space of 15
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai at his party's second congress in 2006
promised to hand over power once Zimbabwe was restored to full democracy.
He said he had no intention of holding on to power, adding that a new
Zimbabwe had no room for life presidents.
However, the MDC has since amended its constitution, dropping clauses
limiting the president and his deputy's terms in office.
While sources revealed to the Zimbabwe Independent last week that the
amendments were done without the approval of congress, as they were never
brought before the people at the last congress in 2006, MDC legal secretary
Innocent Gonese and secretary-general Tendai Biti refute this.
Gonese told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the amendments
were discussed at the congress and approved as stipulated by the party
According to the MDC constitution, any amendments to the constitution
require approval by at least two-thirds of delegates present and voting at
Asked why it was not on the list of amendments brought before the
congress, which were widely publicised by the media and how the media could
have missed such an important development, Gonese maintained that it was
done at the congress.
He said while the party constitution did not have time limits, the new
national constitution if approved -- for which they are proposing two
five-year terms of office for the president -- safeguarded the country
against those that might want to cling to power.
Biti said in a recent interview with The Standard that: "the
constitution was amended at our last congress in 2006. The understanding was
that when you are in a struggle, you do not concentrate on terms of office.
But in government, our position has always been very clear; the terms of
office for the members of the executive have to be limited."
However, the MDC's decision to drop the clause limiting the party
president's term of office has irked some political analysts, who believe
that such a move was retrogressive, while others felt that the amendment was
Political analyst and newspaper columnist Alex Magaisa who is based in
the UK said: "I think the strategy is clear -- Tsvangirai represents the
face of the struggle being waged by the MDC; he is the prime minister in
this coalition arrangement and removing him as the leader of the party at
this stage would probably not serve its ends within the context of the
"It was necessary to retain him as leader but they could have made
their task easier if their constitutional term limit had qualifications that
would allow him to remain in office in the given circumstances, so long as
the supporters were happy with that position."
Eldred Masunungure, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist, did
not share Magaisa's view, saying: "It just does not make any sense. In my
household I am father for life, we can't transpose that Mugabe is the
biological father of Zanu PF and Tsvangirai father of the MDC-T. Why should
we start disaggregating only at national level (limit in the Zimbabwe
Masunungure said the term limits were a good thing and the deletion of
that clause was wrong.
"I have expressed displeasure at the deletion of that clause," he
said. "Whether it was done unilaterally or by the congress, that is not the
point. The limit of two terms was a good thing. What is disturbing is the
inherent goodness that is being disposed of."
However, Masunungure strongly believes that Tsvangirai, whom he
described as the "face of MDC, who symbolises democracy" would not be that
reckless as to order that deletion.
When the constitution was written after the formation of the party in
1999, one of its authors said no one dreamt that Tsvangirai would not be in
power 10 years later.
"So the two five-year terms made sense then. No one ever thought that
10 years on, Tsvangirai would not be ruling this country," said the source.
"Now that the two terms are about to come to an end before the next
elections, MDC found itself in a dilemma. The question was, who else could
take the MDC into government if Tsvangirai stepped down."
Magaisa concurred when he said MDC was too ambitious when they wrote
their constitution with term limits.
"I think in future any party or organisation needs to appreciate that
the bigger picture is the goal that is sought to be achieved and that such a
goal should not be derailed by technical issues," he said.
Musunungure pointed out that any organisation that falls on one person
is a weak institution.
"Are we saying there is not a single person out of the let's say 200
000 that is capable. No, no, no -- that statement is tragic and mortal. That
means that the leaders are weak. It is the task of the leaders to create new
leaders out of followers," he said.
Magaisa differed when he said when a party is in a struggle it needed
resolute and experienced leadership, hence the need for continuity in order
to achieve its goal, which is to be in power.
"It is unlikely that a party that is engaged in a struggle for power
would want to deal with problems attendant upon leadership changes. There
can be little doubt that Tsvangirai is the figurehead of the MDC struggle
for power, indeed recognised across the world as the face of the
pro-democracy struggle," said Magaisa.
Masunungure criticised the media and civic society for failing to play
the watchdog role, without bias.
He pointed out that the MDC should not be allowed to get away with
such things just because the media and civic society, which are supposed to
play the watchdog role, are suffering from a "founders syndrome".
Not criticising or highlighting mistakes made by MDC, Masunungure
said, would not help Zimbabwe and if not careful, might end up creating a
"monster" in the long term.
"Autocracy comes in small doses - that is the nature of autocracy. If
we accede to this cumulatively you will have a monster. Zimbabwe was not a
dictatorship in 1980, 1990 and in 1995. It comes in small doses and accedes
to this. The media was quiet when this was happening," he said.
"There is something wrong, other people are cheering - but we must
remember that what we cheer today, can be poisonous tomorrow. There are very
few people that surrender power, Nelson Mandela (of South Africa) was an
exception. Power is the forbidden fruit. If you eat it you will not want to
Masunungure said it was never too early for any political party to
start discussing its succession plan or policy.
"In Africa, there is a tendency to treat certain individuals in
politics as cult heroes or demi-gods, who can never do any wrong and
Zimbabwe is no exception. Former legislator Paul Themba Nyathi wrote in 2008
in his article 'Zanu PF, MDC cross-pollination cultures' that it is because
of such tendencies that Africa is littered with thousands of mass graves.
"Large elements in the media -- and civil society - are now portraying
Tsvangirai as an untouchable in the Zanu PF succession race, who is to be
protected at all costs," he said.
Econet Evades Specification
Thursday, 15 October 2009 17:22
BY selling Econet Wireless' 10% stake in Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd
(KMAL), the country's largest mobile phone operator avoided government
specification a fortnight ago, businessdigest has established. Sources said
Econet Wireless chairman Tawanda Nyambirai would also have faced the same
fate had the group not sold its shareholding in KMAL.
The sources said although investigators did not finger Nyambirai in
the KMAL saga, he was facing imminent specification by mere virtue of being
chairman of Econet. Following the specification threat, Nyambirai reportedly
opted to sell Econet's stake to avoid the action. Earlier, government
appointed investigators - BCA Consulting - attempted to seize hard drives
from Nyambirai's computers hoping the hardware would have key information
that would assist them in their probe.
Econet sold its shares to Loakcape Investments, a consortium of local
Philip Chiyangwa, Temba Mliswa, Chipo Mtasa, Langton Nyatsambo and
Rugare Chidembo make up the consortium, but the market has been questioning
whether the businesspeople would be able to raise US$17 million in the
current environment for the stake. Analysts believed that lack of liquidity
on the market could present an onerous task on the group's ability to come
up with the funds.
No cash has exchanged hands yet but the consortium has to raise US$17
million inside a year, sources said.
The consortium, according to sources, is essentially holding Econet's
shares in trust until cash changes hands. Should the individuals raise the
cash, US$4 million apiece, the deal would be sealed.
The same sources said the deal was a deliberate strategy by Econet to
lay low until the KMAL dispute dies down.
In the event that an amicable settlement is found in KMAL, Econet
could still call the deal off. But there is respite for the consortium,
according to the sources. Should things calm down at KMAL, the consortium
would walk out with some cash in the bag.
The parties agreed that in the event that KMAL dispute is settled
inside a year from sale, the consortium would get 10% fair value of Econet's
KMAL shares on the day of trade, a handsome deal should the share price move
above 70cents - the agreed price at the time of the deal.
The sources added that there was no conflict of interest on Chipo
Mtasa's part saying she got the nod from Rainbow Tourism Group chairman
Patterson Timba - a close business associate of Econet founder Strive
Analysts said the deal also exposed unusual relations between the
corporate and political worlds when the stakes are up.
As part of the arrangement, Mliswa and Chiyangwa, political princes,
would also look out for Econet and KMAL's interests and pull political
strings should the need arise. Mliswa is a former fitness trainer and has
listening ears in the old order of Zimbabwean politics.
He has interests in the tobacco industry and recently sold his 8%
stake in Premier Banking Corporation, while Chiyangwa, on the other hand, is
said to be President Robert Mugabe's nephew.
According to the same sources, government had also targeted KMAL
chairman Much Masunda, who has a rocky relationship with investigators.
BCA Consulting clashed with Masunda over the latter's bid to block a
planned Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) last month. Masunda differed on
the interpretation of the law with the investigators and accused them of
The investigators also said that there was evidence that there were
cases of "bad faith, connivance and outright misrepresentation on the part
of some board members of KML.
Investigators accused Masunda of communicating with John Moxon without
In his response, Masunda said these accusations were defamatory to
himself and to other persons who were mentioned in the notice.
"I record my resentment of the suggestion that I have, at any time,
acted other than in the interests of the company, or in a manner likely to
promote the interests of any group of shareholders to the exclusion of the
interests of the company, or other shareholders," said Masunda.
The KMAL EGM is expected to take place in the capital today.
LonZim Eyeing a Harare Five Star Hotel
Thursday, 15 October 2009 17:19
LONZIM, the investment company owned by Lonrho, is eyeing an unnamed
five star hotel in the capital. This would add to the investment company's
portfolio which already includes Leopard Rock Hotel in Mutare and another
one in Beira.
LonZim announced yesterday that they were looking at the possibility
of an "acquisition and development of a new five star hotel property located
in the prime area of Harare to complement the current LonZim hotel
There are two five-star hotels in Harare; Rainbow Towers and Meikles.
Apart from the proposed acquisition of the hotel, the company also
intends to purchase a large industrial warehousing complex in Harare.
LonZim raised US$46,5 million at its initial public offer two years
ago with the specific aim of acquisitions and investments into Zimbabwe.
To date, the company has completed seven transactions and built a
portfolio of businesses in Zimbabwe that are well positioned to benefit from
LonZim was created to establish a strong portfolio of businesses in
Zimbabwe and the Beira corridor that geographically delivered a London Stock
Exchange-quoted conglomerate soley focused on Zimbabwe.
The company has so far committed US$36,61 million (80% of the amount
raised during the IPO) into various sectors with the largest chunk, 38%
going towards hotels.
Other sectors such as information technology/telecommunications and
printing also had allocations of 24% while a further 16% has been allocated
LonZim has invested in an option to acquire 51% of FMNA (Africa) a
company that provides software solutions for mobile telephone handsets that
facilitates two way instant messaging and email technology. This permits
even the most basic mobile handset to be able to send and receive emails,
secure messaging (banking) and other information services.
"With a successful trial with Econet Lesotho and a subsequent full
rollout, plans are under development following the stablisation of the US
dollar economy for a significant trial with Econet Zimbabwe.
"A series of other African countries are also establishing trials for
the FMNA technology," said LonZim.
LonZim purchased Leopard Rock Hotel for US$8,5 million and it is
undergoing a US$1,7 million refurbishment expected to be completed in March
The company also owns 60% of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchangelisted Celsys
which has obtained the distribution rights for Diebold automated teller
machines and is installing these state of the art ATM's at Kingdom Bank
branches along with 2 000 Point of Sale machines across the country.
Other operations where LonZim has interests include Fly540 a
commercial airline which should have started flying last month before it
However, this does not mean that they have abandoned this venture as
they have continued to allocate resources to it.
Tourism Expo to Draw in Investors
Thursday, 15 October 2009 17:16
THE five-day international tourism investment marketing exhibition,
Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair, opened in Harare
on Wednesday with deals worth between US$1,5 and US$2 billion expected to be
sealed. Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Karikoga Kaseke
said he was optimistic that most of the investors and buyers invited would
invest more than US$1 million in the country as the future of tourism was
"We are looking at deals of between US$1,5 and US$2 billion to be
clinched after the fair. We are expecting about 500 exhibitors this year.
Other uninvited guests we understand are in the country visiting major
tourist attractions," Kaseke said. "We have 29 investors and exhibitors from
the United Kingdom and we are happy about that. We have another group from
Brazil, coming for the first time, and we expect arrivals from West Africa
as the day progresses. Overally, we have managed to get what we expected in
terms of participation."
Kaseke said tourism should be used as a vehicle to bridge political
The ZTA chief executive said out of the 500 exhibitors at the fair, a
quarter are from Namibia, Tanzania, Brazil, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa
and were keen to lure Zimbabweans to consider visiting their countries.
"I am optimistic that some of the investors and buyers we invited
will, in the long run, invest their money in this country," he said.
More than 100 invited and about 60 uninvited international buyers and
investors from England, Japan, China, Indonesia, Singapore and Iran are
already in the country visiting places of interest as well as seeking
investment opportunities.The fair has also attracted international media
houses such as BBC Travel, Beijing TV of China, the Sowetan of South Africa,
SABC and others.
"We have 100% participation by Sadc countries. It is encouraging and
we are happy about the positive developments," Kaseke said.
World tourism, among the fastest growing industries globally, is
expected to register positive growth in 2009, notwithstanding the global
Statistics: Mining Figures fail to add up
Thursday, 15 October 2009 17:08
ECONOMIC data and statistics are often available in Zimbabwe but when
they do come through the numbers often do not add up. Elsewhere, market
players and investors rely on government data to take financial positions
and in making key decisions.
But in Zimbabwe, the markets and investors take government data with a
pinch of salt.
For instance, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) refused to publish
the numbers after inflation spiralled out of control. When they came
through, the numbers were understated.
In serious economies, it would have stoked controversy.
In mining for instance, the central bank says Zimbabwe has 13 million
tonnes of gold in reserves. At Zimbabwe's current extraction rate of 20
tonnes, it will take 650 000 years for the reserves to be exhausted.
With platinum reserves of 2,8 billion tonnes, it will take 1 200 years
to exhaust the reserves at an annual extraction rate of 2,3 tonnes per year.
Copper resources of 5,2 million tonnes is said to be still in the
Diamond deposits are estimated to be sitting at 16,5 million tonnes.
The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe is worried that the central bank has
been pulling numbers from the air and presenting it as fact.
Chamber chief Victor Gapare says the central bank's numbers are
misleading because there has been no exploration to back such estimates.
He says: "From a geological point of view, the above figures are
highly misleading as there has been no exploration to back up the resource
estimates. There is no scientific data to back up the figures and there is
confusion in the use of the measuring units."
So just where did the figures come from?
Gapare says neither the Geological Survey Department nor the chamber
have done any work "to come anywhere near estimating the amount of mineral
resources in Zimbabwe".
In fact, according to Gapare, all organisations that would have been
involved in the process have disputed the data.
He says Zimbabwe is "hugely under explored" and coming up with a
global resource figure without the "requisite" exploration drilling presents
"very questionable numbers" that leave mining investors wondering if the
authorities know what they are talking about.
Even if the data was correct, Gapare feels it is not classified.
Either way not all known resource finds warrant investment unless a cheaper
mining method is found to extract the deposits.
He said: "In any case, even if the data was correct, most of the
resource would be unclassified and these may not necessarily be economic to
mine. The figures have obviously been put together with no consideration of
the universal definitions of reserves and resources. Mines in Zimbabwe have
traditionally operated with very little reserves and some resources.
However, even if one was to consolidate the reserves and resources of
existing mines and exploration projects, there is no way one would get
anywhere near the figures given by the RBZ."
While the central bank suggests that the country has 13 million
tonnes, the chamber feels there could a small mix-up between authorities
understanding of ore and gold.
Diamonds are normally measured in carats and virtually no exploration
has been done to justify the figure of 16,5 million tonnes of the resource.
Gapare questions why Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation shut down
its Mhangura Copper operation if the company had an economic resource as big
as 5,2 million tonnes of copper available.
"Why on earth did they close the mine?" asked Gapare.
"The table (below) suggests that Zimbabwe has an estimated resource of
13 million tonnes and an annual extraction rate of 20 tonnes. It appears the
writer might have confused tonnes of ore with tonnes of gold. In any case
gold resources are normally given in ounces and not tonnes. Since 2000, none
of the gold mines have been doing exploration and development and the
reality is that the industry has been extracting without replacing the
ounces of gold."
Former Zimplats owners - BHP - in 1994 estimated an inferred platinum
resource of 114 million ounces. According to Gapare, it is an uphill task to
quantify resources because the success rate in exploration rate is low in
In greenfields exploration the success rate worldwide is around 3%
while in brownfields it may be around 10% depending on stage of exploration.
Zimbabwean gold mines could not sink funds in the last decade into
exploration owing to an economic crisis characterised by high inflation, a
skewed exchange rate and an acute foreign currency shortage.
Namibians to Assess Business Opportunities
Thursday, 15 October 2009 16:58
A NAMIBIAN business delegation is expected in Harare on Monday to
assess investment opportunities in the country. The visit by the delegation
follows a resolution taken in September during the Association of Sadc,
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI) annual general meeting (AGM) in
It was resolved that all member chambers should engage with their
governments to lobby for investment support for Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Obert Sibanda
told businessdigest in Bulawayo that the Namibian business delegation is the
first of the regional chambers to take the initiative after the AGM.
"We are expecting the delegation next week and they are on a
fact-finding mission to explore business opportunities in the country. The
visit is a direct result of the resolutions taken in Namibia by all Sadc
chamber associations" Sibanda said.
Sibanda, who was elected vice president of ASCCI, said members of the
delegation attended the recent mining investor conference in Harare.
"The delegation comprises businesspeople from various sectors of the
economy and some of them were at the mining investor conference in Harare
recently. They would also visit Bulawayo on Wednesday for talks with the
local business community" said Sibanda.
Zimbabwe is desperately seeking foreign investment. In mid-September,
President Mugabe told foreign investors at a mining-industry meeting in
Harare that the country respected property rights and the rule of law.
Any delay in investment could have a negative effect on the economy
and on the country's shaky power-sharing government.
Zimbabwe is only now pulling itself out of a 10-year economic decline
characterised by 80% unemployment and high inflation.
Several foreign business delegations have in the recent past visited
Zimbabwe to explore business opportunities only to say the country has "vast
Recently, a German delegation said it was impressed by the country's
business potential but raised concern over property rights and the rule of
A German embassy statement said the business delegation expressed
concern about new threats to owners of farms.
"There are questions that remain open. These questions relate to law
and order," the statement quoted delegation leader, Andreas Wenzel, as
having said. "It is an absolute necessity for any investor that property
rights are guaranteed."
In May, Botswana business delegation under the leadership of Botswana
Confederation of Commerce, Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) embarked on a
similar mission and concluded that "generally, the economy is weak. Although
the main infrastructure is still in place, there is an urgent need for
refurbishment and maintenance...
"Overall, opportunities in Zimbabwe are abound and these cut across
all sectors of the economy. From the one-on-one meetings that were held
between the Botswana delegation and the Zimbabwe business community, sectors
identified as having immediate potential are agriculture, mining, ICT,
tourism, manufacturing, commerce, construction and professional services,"
read the statement.
HCCL Fails to Attract Investors
Thursday, 15 October 2009 16:42
COAL producing firm, Hwange Colliery Company Ltd (HCCL), is failing to
attract investors because of low coal reserves. Reserves at Hwange are
projected to last 25 years.
Sources at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company said during a
recent board meeting dwindling coal reserves were cited as a threat to
"The current reserves can last the mine about 25 years and that's not
good news for potential financial backers," one of the sources said.
"Colliery urgently needs close to US$200 million for operations."
The source said potential financiers had expressed concern about the
levels of reserves.
"They want concrete re-assurance that the company will be in a
position to fully pay back loans with interests during the lifespan of the
coal reserves," the source added.
The short-term solution, according to the source, was for government
to offer them new coal mining concessions to boost reserves.
HCCL applied to government for a mining grant for the Lubimbi and
Entuba coalfields and was approved by the Ministry of Mines and Mining
Also another application has been lodged with government for coal bed
methane exploration at the Gwayi/Halfway House area, which geological
surveys have indicated to be rich in coal and methane gas.
HCCL managing director, Fred Moyo, could not be reached for comment.
During the board meeting, it was noted that of the US$200 million
required, US$75 million would be for the first phase of capitalisation and
US$100 million to develop new coalfields.
Several foreign companies have shown interest in funding HCCL with the
most recent being the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the
Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa.
Output at the colliery declined to about 1,7 million tonnes in 2008
from just above 2 million tonnes a year earlier.
Coal is a key source of energy for sectors which anchor the economy
such as agriculture and manufacturing.
Rhetoric will not win Media Freedoms
Thursday, 15 October 2009 19:07
WHILE cases of media violations, arrests and harassment of journalists
have comparatively declined following the formation of Zimbabwe's inclusive
government, the environment is nevertheless still not conducive for free
journalistic enterprise. The decline is perhaps attributable to commitment
by Zimbabwe's leading political parties to democratise the media landscape
following the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which gave
birth to the inclusive government.
However, political commitment alone will not suffice in securing an
environment that fosters media diversity, pluralism and independence. This
oft-repeated commitment - a year after the signing of the GPA in September
2008 - should be underpinned by extensive consultations with critical
players towards policy formulation and implementation of the envisaged media
Without that, the existing repressive media laws will continue to
receive piecemeal reforms that will in the final analysis pose an even
greater threat to media freedom and freedom of expression.
Political commitment without requisite reforms will not curb the
harassments of journalists. This is evidenced by the outstanding criminal
cases against Vincent Kahiya, Constantine Chimakure and Davison Maruziva,
editors with Zimind Publishers.
The other cases involve freelance journalist Andrisson Manyere and
former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) bureau chief for Manicaland,
These four cases for which the journalists are charged with
allegations of breaching the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act were
still pending before the courts as of September 2009.
While the separate charges against Maruziva who is the editor of the
weekly Standard newspaper, and Neshamba, pre-date the signing of the GPA, it
is trite to note that Kahiya and Chimakure (editors with the Zimbabwe
Independent), and Manyere were arrested and detained after the signing of
the agreement despite pledges by the new government to foster media freedom
and freedom of expression. Kahiya and Chimakure are being jointly charged
with publishing or communicating falsehoods. Manyere is appearing on
separate charges of banditry, terrorism and sabotage under the same law.
The fact that Maruziva is being jointly charged with Deputy Prime
Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara - a signatory to the GPA - on the basis
of an opinion piece penned by the latter which appeared in the Standard,
speaks volumes about the undemocratic nature of Zimbabwe's media and freedom
of expression environment.
The two are being jointly charged with the publication of falsehoods
in violation of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa) and contempt of court in terms of the Criminal Law (Codification and
This untenable situation is the result of the continued existence of
repressive media laws compounded by the entrenched culture of intolerance to
criticism, dissent and opposing views by the authorities, and the slow pace
of envisaged media reforms.
Thus journalists and the citizens at large will continue to be haunted
by the caged mentality arising from fear of falling foul of these laws,
notably the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa),
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Interception of Communications
Act, Official Secrets Act and Censorship and Entertainment Act which impact
negatively on media freedom, the free flow of information and access to
While the repealing of these laws might not necessarily result in the
overnight curbing of media violations without the requisite and accompanying
paradigm shift from the politics of hate and intolerance, the envisaged
reforms will nevertheless mitigate against the same, and chart Zimbabwe
towards a new democratic dispensation and reaffirm its pride of place among
other progressive nations.
The first step towards that eventuality entails fulfilling the
obligations of the GPA, more so as it pertains to its Article 19 on Freedom
of Expression and Communication.
Under Article 19.1 of the agreement, the parties agreed among other
The government shall ensure the immediate processing by the
appropriate authorities of all applications for re-registration and
registration in terms of both the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) as well as
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Sadly, this is still to materialise a year after the signing of the
agreement. The media environment remains restricted with no new private
players licensed to enter both the print and broadcasting sector in an
environment in which the ZBC continues to enjoy monopoly of the airwaves.
While the government pledged to process application for re-registration and
registration of media houses, this might not be immediately achievable given
the restrictive nature of the licensing regime, more so in the context of
the restrictive provisions of the BSA.
Misa-Zimbabwe is of the firm view that this restricted media
environment in so far as it pertains to media diversity, pluralism and
independence ostensibly arises from the absence of a constitutional
provision that explicitly guarantees media freedom as this leaves room for
the enactment and continued existence of restrictive legislation such as
Aippa, the BSA, Official Secrets Act and the Interception of Communications
Act, among others.
The answer therefore lies in repealing of these restrictive laws;
entrenchment of media self-regulation as demonstrated by Zimbabwean
journalists when they established the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe,
as well as transformation of ZBC into a truly independent public
The quest for a free media environment should therefore be underpinned
by a constitutional provision that explicitly guarantees media freedom and
the establishment of an independent broadcasting and telecommunications
regulatory authority as espoused under the African Charter on Human and
Peoples Rights, Banjul Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of
Expression and African Charter on Broadcasting, among others.
Political commitments to free the media environment should therefore
be backed by extensive consultations and engagement on the task at hand
every step of the way towards meaningful and sustainable media reforms.
Nyasha Nyakunu is the Senior Programmes Officer with Misa-Zimbabwe.
By Nyasha Nyakunu
Muckraker: Zanu PF must lift its sanctions on Zim
Thursday, 15 October 2009 18:18
ZIMBABWE has some 134 202 people over the age of 90 on its voters'
roll, and 74 000 voters over 100, we are informed. Thirty thousand of these
have a birth date of January 1 1901.
A report by the Research and Advocacy Unit titled 2013 Vision, Seeing
Double and the Dead, provided this useful testimony to the role of the
Other curious statistics include the 182 564 instances of entries
relating to people with the same identification number who appear on the
roll twice or more.
"Prior to the 2008 elections the office of the Registrar-General
conducted (a) programme to register voters using mobile registration
centres," RAU reports. "There is convincing evidence that this programme was
carried out in a manner that favoured Zanu PF in its timing, advertising and
the areas concentrated upon."
The figures for geriatric voters are baffling given that the average
life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 37 for men and 34 for women. The figures
could explain, RAU says, why the percentage poll in some wards in the March
2008 election exceeded the number of registered voters.
These figures were published by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
in the Standard last weekend.
Zesn played a key role last year in giving the public accurate results
in the form of notices pinned to polling-station doors. They also paid a
price in seeing some of their officers arrested for providing unwelcome
Don't we also recall Tendai Biti being charged for providing
President Mugabe's coterie were convinced the Americans had
manipulated the outcome. The nationalist gang supporting the president
couldn't believe they had lost, even though every survey ahead of the
elections pointed to defeat. It was all a conspiracy against the
revolutionary government of President Mugabe, they fatuously claimed.
A survey by the Mass Public Opinion Institute undertaken in May this
year suggests that only a fraction of the population would endorse Mugabe in
the next election.
What is significant about the MPOI report, observers say, is the
number of rural folk who say they won't vote the same way as last year. The
report said Tsvangirai is clearly the key beneficiary of the inclusive
government: About 78% of the total respondents said they trusted Tsvangirai,
compared with 36% whose trust lay with Mugabe.
Tsvangirai's work in the government was approved by 81% of respondents
while only 24% backed Mugabe. The report however makes it clear that at the
time of the research Tsvangirai was riding high on a wave of support and
trust, and it remains to be seen whether he would be able to maintain it.
Biti has become a favourite target for state-run newspapers and their
columnists. These are the same papers which prior to the GNU published a
so-called "transition strategy" document, allegedly authored by Biti,
suggesting how the MDC should proceed with regime change. It was a patent
forgery including misspelling of the names of people Biti knew well. Most of
the "proposals" were simply laughable. Like bringing back service chiefs
from Australia. But Biti was nevertheless charged with treason for making
"false statements prejudicial to the state".
Now the same people who cooked up that nonsense are hurling abuse at
him for real or imagined sins. His refusal to pretend the country is rich
when Zanu PF has transformed it into a basket case is one such "sin". He had
a good name for them two weeks ago. "Nationalist fascists", he called them.
That's exactly what they are.
The transition document claimed the MDC-Tsvangirai rigged the 2008
harmonised elections by bribing election officers with amounts ranging
between Z$3 billion and Z$50 billion.
This is what Justice Ben Hlatshwayo had to say about the document: "To
be honest, this document makes good reading for someone who is in bed. It's
a good document for bedtime reading. I have seen a lot of glaring
shortcomings in this document because some of the issues and charges are
based on assumption of things that did not or will not occur."
The document was hawked around at the Sadc extraordinary summit for
heads of state in Zambia last year. None of them appear to have bought it!
What we have now is the claim by Herald columnists that President
Mugabe is generously giving the MDC time to have sanctions lifted. What
these publicists don't realise is that the root cause of sanctions - such as
the ordeal Jestina Mukoko went through and the violent farm seizures - need
removed before the international community will come to Zimbabwe's
The only reason Zanu PF entered the GNU was to have sanctions against
them lifted. They are in denial about the election results. And they have
not changed their ways. The unilateral appointments to media boards reveal
just how unwilling the party is to work with their GNU partners. In a
transitional situation such as ours consultation is essential at every
level. But we have unilateral behaviour by last-ditch reactionaries who are
working to sabotage the GNU project. Then you see whining columns and
officially inspired letters to the editor about how awful the West is in
keeping sanctions in place.
These guys are slow learners. All they have to do is stop behaving
badly and sanctions will evaporate. Get rid of repressive legislation,
clean up the voters' roll, drop spurious charges against political, media
and civic activists, stop threatening to restore the damaging Zim dollar,
stop stealing farm produce, and open up the
public media to full national participation. Also stop blocking the
independent media. Why is the minister unable to make a simple statement
assuring Zimbabwean journalists in the Diaspora a safe and unhindered return
as required by the GPA?
Meanwhile, gullible ministers such as Giles Mutsekwa should avoid
manifestly naive claims that the ZRP was "a shining beacon of best policing
practices in the region and internationally".
Would Jestina Mukoko or Shadreck Manyere agree with this? Was it their
experience that the police were applying "best policing practices"? One
former and one current opposition leader currently face charges arising from
last year's election campaign.
Arthur Mutambara has been prosecuted under the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act and Simba Makoni under Posa. A number of
editors face charges under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
What has the government done to repeal repressive legislation of this sort?
Please, no more whining about sanctions until Zanu PF's sanctions have
Monday evening saw Spain's national day. It was a lovely balmy evening
in the grounds of the ambassador's residence.
There were no speeches. But Muckraker recalls a wonderful valedictory
speech by a Spanish ambassador a few years ago. He said he wanted to talk
about a country for many years isolated and out of step with the region of
which it was a part. An elderly dictator held sway, he said, backed by a
military and party junta, while the people looked forward to a new era of
growth and prosperity. They wanted to catch up with their neighbours who had
pursued successful policies in a democratic environment.
"I speak of course of Spain," the ambassador said to applause from an
audience who immediately got his point.
Indeed, once the dictatorship came to an end, Spain progressed to
becoming one of the world's 10 richest states. Today it has the most
extensive high-speed rail network in Europe and a high standard of living.
And it is a flourishing democracy.
It can be done.
By the way, we hear senior officials in the Foreign Affairs ministry
are telling ambassadors based here that they should not make speeches on the
occasion of their national days.
This is nonsense. Ambassadors are entirely free to make whatever
remarks they like on their national days or at any other time. Their homes
are sovereign territory. They do not need the permission of pompous local
officials to communicate the views of their governments.
We hope ambassadors will not feel intimidated by officials who exceed
their authority. Nobody misses the predictable wooden speeches they used to
stumble over in reply to their hosts. They made Zimbabwe look bad.
Let's see some of our new ministers attending these functions and
saying something appropriate to the changed circumstances. The fresh air of
change should be blowing through the corridors of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. Let's see some sign of that.
Eric Bloch: Growing Employer, Labour
|Thursday, 15 October 2009 18:13 |
ZIMBABWE’S economic recovery is confronted by innumerable constraints.
Although it is indisputable that there has been some tentative progress
towards the recovery intensely yearned for by virtually all Zimbabweans,
progress has been relatively minimal as compared to that so critically
needed. Much is needed to accelerate that recovery, and amongst the many
necessary developments to bring about a substantive economic upturn is a
unity of purpose and constructive interaction between employers and
labour. Regrettably, not only does that not presently exist — save in a
few exceptional instances — but the actuality is that there is an
increasing divide between them.
Reactive to the pronounced hardships which afflict almost all
Zimbabweans, most of the approximately 10% of the employable population as
is engaged in formal sector employment have regard virtually exclusively
to the quantum of their remuneration.
Not only do they need to provide for themselves and for their immediate
families, but also for very many other dependants. Poverty is so
widespread in Zimbabwe, with more than four-fifths of the population
battling to survive on incomes below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), that
those who are in gainful employment have vast numbers reliant upon them
for some sustenance.
The very great numbers of dependants of the employed include thousands
of Aids widows and orphans, many persons who are very aged, and large
numbers whose health has been grievously eroded, often as a result of
malnutrition and inadequate access to healthcare.
As a result, with rare exception, employees’ focus is centred
almost in the entirety upon the extent of their wages or salaries, with a
primary determination that the amount thereof must exceed the PDL.
Not only is there no regard for the ability or otherwise of employers
to pay remuneration matching the employee needs and expectations, but
concurrently employee performance levels are generally declining.
This is unsurprising, for the employee is continuously mindful of
financial needs, to the exclusion of virtually all else. In all
probability, he (or she) has walked a considerable distance to work,
having been unable to afford public transport, and has had done so without
preceding that extended walk without any nutritional meal.
Throughout that tedious and stressful journey, and thereafter
throughout the day, the employees’ thoughts are centred almost wholly not
upon employment duties, but upon how to fund essentials.
The concerns centre upon how to feed themselves, their families and
dependants, how to pay residential rentals and utility charges, funding of
children’s education, meeting essential healthcare needs, and much
So intensively are the endless thoughts upon the desperate cost of
living burdens afflicting them, that minimal focus is upon their
employment duties, with consequential inadequate productivity, and low
Concurrently, a very great number of workers, and especially the
trade unionists that represent them, are convinced that employers have the
resources with which to pay markedly greater wages and salaries, and
refrain from doing so only because of lack of concern for the wellbeing of
the workers and their families, and because they are driven by
determination to realise ongoing “super profits”.
Whilst undoubtedly there are some instances where these perceptions
have some substance, the realities are that most employers are doubly
concerned for the wellbeing of their workers, and that far from making
vast profits, their enterprises are struggling to survive.
Almost all employers are conscious of their employees’ grievous
financial stresses, and attendant pressures, and are highly desirous of
addressing and alleviating those stresses and pressures, insofar as
possible. But, at the same time, the employers are very necessarily
anxious to ensure the survival of their businesses, and restoration of
viability to the enterprises.
Employers and workers alike must appreciate each other’s
circumstances, and at one time that was so. But now, with very rare
exception, labour does not, and this is especially so in the case of many
(but not all) of the trade union leaders who represent the workers in wage
The hardships that constantly torment the workers are so great that
the need to minimise those hardships renders labour oblivious to business
and economic realities, and motivates disbelief of any employer
And, although business strives to be understanding of labour’s
circumstances, that understanding is being progressively eroded by
recurrent labour confrontationalism, by obduracy and dogmatisation, and by
frequent threats of industrial action, as well as by the consequences of
the diminishing productivity, and by labour’s resistance to recognise
If the prevailing stance of trade unionists and other negotiations
on behalf of labour is not to reverse the recently commenced economic
recovery, and is not to preclude the further recovery so very greatly
needed by all Zimbabwe, then they need to give recognition to:
- The mutual need of employers and employees alike for the businesses
survive, develop and grow;
- The harsh fact that most businesses are struggling to survive. Their
resources have been massively eroded by losses sustained during the
2006 to 2008 hyperinflation era, and thereafter by the demonetisation of
Zimbabwean currency, albeit that that demonetisation was necessary.
Moreover, because of the magnitude of present financial sector
illiquidity, recourse to new working capital inflows is very minimal
indeed, intensifying the survival vulnerability of very many
- As an inevitable result of limited consumer spending power,
exacerbated by the pronounced insufficiency of currency in circulation,
consumer spending power is minimal, as a result of which there is
minimal demand for most products marketed by commerce and
industry, which considerably minimises sales volumes, and therefore
business revenue inflows, which in turn restricts ability to enhance
- Industry’s sales volumes are also markedly contained by extensive
price competitiveness, as most manufacturers external of Zimbabwe are
able to be very price competitive, enjoying the benefits of
economies of scale, attained from high production volumes, and of very
greatly lower costs of wages, and of utility charges, as well as very much
lesser interest rates on financial sector borrowings;
- Productivity enhancement would facilitate payment of higher
In addition, the trade unions need, very belatedly, to recognise that
as distressing as their members’ circumstances are, the members are
nevertheless better off earning some income, however inadequate it may be,
than to earn nothing, as a result of loss of employment. It is better to
earn too little, than to earn nothing!
Continuing demand for unsustainable wages can only result in many
businesses downsizing, and many more closing down (as has recently been
the case of Cotton Printers and of David Whitehead, amongst many others).
That results in further contraction of numbers employed, with
consequential intensification of poverty.
To all intents and purposes, by their obdurate and dogmatic,
uncompromising negotiating stance, many of the trade unions are not only
doing a disservice to their members, but concurrently are committing
suicide, for the magnitude of membership loss due to diminished members
employed must bring about the financial and operating collapse of those
Parties to GNU Stalling new Constitution - Analysts
Thursday, 15 October 2009 18:06
SADDLED by lack of funds and bickering between the three parties in
the inclusive government, the country's constitution-making process is
almost three months off the rails and analysts predict that more problems
lie ahead. The analysts believe that political power relations in the unity
government are also at play in the process.
The process, which was envisaged to be completed in 18 months after
the formation of the unity government, has been stalled by financial
constraints as well.
There are disagreements between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations on
the Kariba draft constitution, which President Robert Mugabe's party insists
should be used as the only reference point in the current process. The MDC
formations are adamant that the process should be people-driven.
Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur
Mutambara have met over the Kariba draft, but are yet to agree on its fate
apart from saying that the current process should consider the people's
The new constitution will pave the way for free and fair elections and
the longer it takes to craft the supreme law means the longer the stay of
the inclusive government.
Despite clear evidence that the process has stalled, principals of the
global political agreement (GPA) that ushered in the unity government
continued to claim that everything was on course.
Officially opening the second session of the seventh parliament last
week, Mugabe told the nation that "work is in progress towards a new
constitution for the country".
To expedite the process, Mugabe said, the three principals of the GPA
had agreed that the six negotiators of the unity pact - Patrick Chinamasa
and Nicholas Goche of Zanu PF; Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma of MDC-T; and
Welshman Ncube and Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga of the MDC-M - would
form the constitution-making organ's management committee together with
three members of the 25-member select committee of parliament. The
management committee would have an independent secretariat.
"This enhanced committee will be responsible for formulating the
policy direction of the process, while a steering committee will be the
implementing arm," Mugabe said. "Thematic sub-committees which have now been
established will extensively garner the views of all our people, for
consideration in the drafting of the new constitution."
The enhanced management committee was expected to "enhance efficiency,
capacity and exclusivity" in the constitution-making process.
But Justice minister Chinamasa said a new constitution could only be
drafted if there were adequate resources in place and added that the 2000
draft constitution outreach programme was well-funded by organisations such
as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
He said the debate on whether or not the Kariba draft should be used
as a reference document was diluted by the ignorance of most people,
including parliamentarians, on the contents of the document.
"The problem is that most people including MPs and you journalists
have not read the (Kariba draft) constitution. People should not concentrate
on process but content of the constitution," Chinamasa said.
Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga this week said besides
resource constraints, the latest setback on the constitution-making process
is the demand by the new management committee of the process to reconfigure
the 17 thematic committees agreed on during July's chaotic first
In July, the parties agreed that Zanu PF and the MDC-T would chair
seven committees each, MDC-M two and the traditional chiefs' council one.
"This has now changed. A new committee set up recently to manage the
reforms has asked us to reconfigure the party representation to ensure that
all parties in the inclusive government chair an equal number of thematic
committees," Matinenga said.
He said as such the MDC-T, MDC-M and Zanu PF will now chair five
thematic committees each, with the other two chaired by traditional chiefs.
These thematic committees will lead the consultative phase of drawing up a
The representation of people in the committees will remain the same.
Civil society, chiefs and other stakeholders still maintain a 70%
representation, while parliament will remain with 30%.
This move, analyst observed, would further delay the process.
Veritas, a group of lawyers who monitor political developments in the
country, in their analysis last week said while it was obvious that the
outreach programme was over two months behind schedule, the principals were
yet to be asked to set new timelines for the crafting of the supreme law,
"but have indicated that the GPA dates should not be considered as set in
Premises to house the independent secretariat have not yet been found
and recruiting of key staff has not started, while Matinenga's ministry is
reportedly working on a project document for UNDP to raise donor funding and
would be seeking funds from treasury and from the business sector.
Political analysts said there seemed to be a deliberate ploy by the
inclusive government to delay the constitution-making process to prolong its
stay in power.
UK-based Zimbabwean lawyer and newspaper columnist, Alex Magaisa, said
the delay in the constitution-making process mirrored the slow pace at which
things were developing and changing in the country.
"It also demonstrates the differences between the governing parties
and also involving civil society and politicians," Magaisa said. "The
problem is that it is this new constitution which is supposed to pave the
way for a new dispensation in terms of governance. It's supposed to lay the
framework for free and fair elections since holding elections under the
current system will be nonsensical as it will likely produce more disputed
What the delays mean, he added, was that it would be a long time
before the elections are held thereby prolonging the lifespan of the shaky
coalition arrangement currently governing the country.
"It seems to me that this means the unity government is here to stay
for quite some time," Magaisa predicted.
Political scientist Michael Mhike said there appeared to be a
deliberate ploy by the inclusive government to delay the process.
He said the two MDC formations and Zanu PF were not prepared for fresh
polls in the near future for various reasons.
The MDC-T, Mhike argued, was confident of winning the elections, but
worried that without security reforms a coup would be staged against its
government, while Zanu PF and the MDC-M were aware they would be humiliated
at the polls.
"Every party in the inclusive government intends to buy time until
they think they will be in good stead to win the elections," Mhike said. "By
dragging their feet on the constitution-making process, the parties are
prolonging their stay in government and at the same time working on
strategies to position themselves for the elections."
Magaisa said the parties to the GPA accepted that a new constitution
was inevitable, but judging their commitment was another thing altogether.
"What we can deduce from the circumstances is that Zanu PF has thrived
under the current constitution so it does not lose anything by retaining the
present constitutional regime," he argued. "On the other hand the MDC
formations have faced great challenges under the current constitution given
the way in which it gives power to the executive president so that even
under this unity government real power still lies with Mugabe and Zanu PF."
He said the three parties in government seem to be happy for the
moment and would like to maintain the inclusive government.
"They are in no hurry to hold elections, given the risks associated
with that process. That is why in my view there could be an invisible and
perhaps involuntary pact and understanding between the three parties that
this unity government should continue for quite some time, thereby allowing
room for stability, perhaps regeneration and in some ways personal benefit
of those with their hands in the pot of power," Magaisa averred. "Greed,
unfortunately, is a human trait which affects all men and women and I doubt
that many of the new ministers will be too happy to leave the party at this
point or in the near future."
The Case for Abolishing the Death Penalty in Zimbabwe
Thursday, 15 October 2009 17:34
"YOU are killing an innocent man and ." These are recorded as the
final words of death row inmate Roy Roberts as he was executed in Missouri,
USA in 1999. Discomforting evidence later emerged that cast doubt on his
conviction for murder. Then last week there was a gruesome botched execution
of Romell Broom in Ohio, USA.
It is reported technicians tried but failed to find a vein to
administer the required mortal fluids and at one time Broom lay on his side
trying to help them find the vein.
On March 25 1997 in Florida, Pedro Medina was on the electric chair
awaiting his fate. With the first jolt of 2 300 volts blue and orange flames
sparked from the mask covering Medina's face. Flames up to a foot long shot
out from the right side of Medina's head for 6-10 seconds. The execution
chamber was clouded with smoke and the smell of burnt flesh filled the
We all remember the sorry sight of Saddam Hussein as he was led to the
gallows with a very strong barbaric rope round his neck, with taunts echoing
in the background. Doesn't society have better methods of dealing with its
The death penalty remains a controversial sentencing sanction. The
debate on its merits or lack thereof is probably as old as the sanction
itself. It is with great interest that the MDC-T last week published their
red zone on constitutional reform issues in Zimbabwe. Inevitably the party
stated that it was advocating the abolition of the death penalty in
Zimbabwe - the subject of this article.
The death penalty has been on Zimbabwe's statutes for a long time.
Probably some of the most celebrated death row victims are the spirit
mediums Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi who were hanged by the colonialist
regime in 1898. Capital punishment is provided for by Section 12 of the
Zimbabwean constitution which states "it shall be lawful for a person to be
killed following a death sentence imposed on him/her by a court".
Various offences can attract the death penalty in Zimbabwe including
first-degree murder and treason. The Zimbabwe Prison Service reports that 76
African male prisoners were executed between April 1980 and December 2001.
In the same period 244 inmates were sentenced to death by the High
Court of Zimbabwe. Approximately two thirds of those sentenced had their
sentences quashed by the Supreme Court or commuted to life imprisonment.
Chidhumo and Masendeke are probably the latest high profile inmates executed
This does not imply that there has been universal support for
executions in Zimbabwe. Two former Chief Justices are noted to have voiced
their concern over executions. Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutshena is noted as
having told the Herald (December 7 1987) "I believe that many people we
sentence to death for killing somebody should not be sentenced to death but
given a life imprisonment term". His successor Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay
is recorded as having said: "what may not have been regarded as inhuman or
degrading a few decades ago may be revolting to new sensitivities which
emerge as civilisation advances".
He was ruling on whether delaying executions and appalling conditions
of incarceration were not contrary to Section 15 (1) of the constitution
(CCJP v AG and others (1991) (1) ZLR 242. More significantly the draft
constitutions produced by the Chidyausiku Commission and the National
Constitutional Assembly in 2000 did not contain the death penalty, neither
does the controversial Kariba Draft.
At international level it can safely be said that we are moving
towards abolition of the death penalty. Legally speaking the death penalty
is not prohibited by international law, nor is abolition yet a norm of
The celebrated International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR) which is binding on most countries of the world actually does not
prohibit the death penalty. Article 6 (2) of the same merely restricts its
use to the "most serious crimes". "Most serious crimes" is aptly unqualified
and subjective to each country and region. However the Second Optional
Protocol to the ICCPR adopted in 1989 does prohibit the death penalty to
state parties to the protocol (Article 1). Henceforth it remains optional.
Efforts have been made through the United Nations to adopt resolutions
In 1971 through Resolution 2857 and 1977 through Res 32/61, the UN
took the first steps towards declaring abolition of death penalty as a
universal goal and calling for restrictions on its use. However it was only
in 1989 that the UN GA adopted the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.
In addition both instruments instituting UN International Tribunals
for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR) did not carry the death
penalty as a sanction. These tribunals were formulated to prosecute very
serious crimes of interest to the international community: that is genocide,
war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
About 96 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes,
eight for ordinary crimes and 43 are de facto abolitionist. In Africa there
are at least 15 abolitionist states and 21 de facto abolitionist (those who
have the death penalty but haven't used it in the last 10 years and have
committed not to use it).
Sadly for Africa as of November 2008 Amnesty reports only six of the
53 states had ratified the second optional protocol to the ICCPR on
abolition of the death penalty. Ninty percent of all world executions are
carried out by six countries: the US, China, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan.
Drawbacks have been encountered as some states have reinstituted the
death penalty after abolition. Eg the Philippines abolished it after the
overthrow of President Marcos in 1989 but brought it back in 1993.
It is the progression of the human rights movements that have had a
major impact on abolishing the death penalty.
The Council of Europe has made abolition a prerequisite for
membership. In April 1983 it adopted Protocol No 6 to the European
Convention on Human Rights which abolished the death penalty in peacetime
only. However in 2002 Protocol No 13 was adopted which abolished capital
punishment in all circumstances.
As a result Europe is a death penalty free zone and there has not been
an execution since 1997. In 1990 the General Assembly of the Organisation of
American States adopted Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights
to abolish the death penalty.
However this protocol only calls for restriction of use rather than
erasure. The African Charter does not mention the death penalty. However in
1999 the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights adopted a
moratorium on the death penalty. Very few states have observed the
Crucial to these human rights instrument is the provision in most that
prohibits subjection to inhuman or degrading treatment, (European Convention
on Human Rights Article 3, American Convention on Human Rights Article 5,
African Charter Article 5, ICCPR Article 7).
Various court judgements from these regions have expanded on what
"inhuman and or degrading treatment" is to attack most methods and process
In Soering v UK the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the
death row phenomenon in the US constituted inhuman and or degrading
treatment fouling Article 3 ECHR. The same judgement was found in Zimbabwe
by the Supreme Court in Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace v Attorney
General and others 1993.
Other judgements have centred on the methods of execution. The UN
Human Rights Committee ruled the use of gas chambers constituted cruel,
inhuman treatment in Ng v Canada. It found also public executions
incompatible with human dignity.
What are the merits or demerits of the death penalty? Most Muslim
states argue that their Islamic laws and religion allows executions for
The Islamic Council adopted a Universal Declaration of Rights which
guaranteed the right to life but also provides for the death penalty under
authority of the law under article 1(a). Some Christians also argue that the
Bible prescribes executions as just. Jesus Christ was crucified on the
cross apparently for being blasphemous. Leviticus 24:17-21 says "he who
kills a man shall be put to death". Genesis 9:6 reads: "Whoever sheds blood
of man; by man shall his blood be shed."
However the same Bible provides that "Vengeance is mine, I will repay,
says the lord"' in Prov 25; 21.
Retributionists have argued that the death penalty deters criminal
behaviour and recidivism.
Scientific studies have consistently failed to find evidence that the
death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments.
A report in the Wall Street Journal of June 21 2002 stated that in the
past 10 years the number of executions in the US had increased while the
murder rate had declined. Still the report noted murder rates in non death
penalty states were found to have remained consistently lower than states
with a death penalty. However South Africa has seen an increase in rape and
murder since abolition.
Prof Hag argues "execution of those who have committed heinous murder
may deter only one murder per year. If it does, it seems warranted. It is
the only fitting retribution for murder I can think of". John MacAdams
remarked: "If we execute murderers and there is in fact no deterrent effect,
we have killed a bunch of criminals. If we fail to execute murderers, and
doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed the
killing of a bunch of innocent victims. I would rather risk the former".
Very retributionist indeed.
These arguments seem to accept that the deterrent effect of the death
penalty is at most minimum. To some extent I sympathise with this reasoning.
A woman with her 14-year -old daughter are victims of a crime. The offender
first rapes the daughter as her mother watches in anguish.
He chops off both arms and lets her bleed to death slowly as the
mother watches. He rapes the mother and then shoots her with a pistol
through her private parts. He hacks off her breasts and lets her bleed to
Graphic and horrendous indeed. These are the stories of the genocide
in Rwanda, of Foday Sankoh's exploits in Sierra Leone. I watched in 2001 as
Zanu PF thugs led by Joseph Mwale burnt to death my two colleagues Tichaona
Chiminya and Talent Mabika in Buhera. Premeditated, cold-blooded murder.
What rights do these criminals have to claim violation of human rights, that
execution is inhuman and degrading? What of the methods they used to execute
their victims for unlawful reasons?
However it is the realisation that criminal justice systems the world
over are shrouded in imperfections that makes the death penalty undesirable.
Execution is a totality - irreversible. A recent study by the Columbia
University Law School found that two thirds of all capital trials in the US
contained serious errors.
When cases were retried over 80% were not sentenced to death and 7%
were actually acquitted. The Innocence project in America notes since the
reinstitution of the death penalty 176 people on America's death row have
been found innocent. The most telling was the discovery in 2003 that 13
Illinois death row inmates were not guilty as charged.
Developed countries have top resources for their judiciary and yet
errors abound. In Zimbabwe most of those sentenced to death are very poor
citizens who cannot afford private legal representation.
The human rights movement in Zimbabwe has noted that most are
represented by pro bono lawyers supplied by law firms as a social service.
However the downside is that law firms mostly make available their most
junior practitioners thereby compromising the quality of representation. It
is not farfetched then to conclude that a great number could have been saved
if the representation was right.
It has been argued that the cost of life sentencing is far greater
than executions. However in the US, because of the never- ending appeals and
spoilation litigation, death row inmates cost more to the state than those
who have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Besides imprisonment without
prospect of release is as punishing as any sanction and has an equally
deterrent effect. Most lifers actually go insane during their incarceration
and the constant thought of guilt, shame, and loss of liberty is more
painful than execution.
It is for these reasons that I support abolishing the death penalty.
There is an advantage to international cooperation, especially in the field
of extradition. Abolitionist states would not extradite a suspected criminal
to a country which has a death penalty.
Rwanda learned it the hard way when leading genocide suspects fled to
Europe and most European countries refused to extradite because Rwanda still
had a death penalty. Cooperation only resumed when it was abolished.
The writer is cognisant of the fact that most data used for analysis
is foreign and some might not apply to the Zimbabwean context. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Sanderson Makombe
Regime Change in Zimbabwe Legitimate
Thursday, 15 October 2009 17:29
WHEN citizens are schooled and empowered it is difficult to oppress
them. It becomes even harder for state actors to break the fortress created
when such enlightened minds work in non-governmental organisations.
Therefore President Robert Mugabe would, like any other Machiavellian
convert with a DNA of autocracy embedded in his psyche, naturally condemn
all NGOs as "vulgar" elements bent on regime change. And this notion is
In Zimbabwe, we have many Community Based Organisations (CBOs) with
community knowledge workers (CKWs) who preach the gospel of regime change,
because in a healthy democracy, regimes have to be changed!
The country therefore is desperate for more CKWs with life skills that
relate to civic, economic and political rights. This is the only way the
progressive forces of democracy in Zimbabwe can deal a mortal blow to maniac
It matters very little where monetary support for regime change agenda
comes from as long as such support is not ill gotten or from the benevolence
of terrorist organisations.
Regime change costs money, so it is perfect for CBOs to request
international think tanks for intellectual, moral and monetary support to
dispense knowledge. Knowledge is power. The more power we Zimbabweans have
the less power is available for Mugabe and his cronies.
But like all dictators that rule in the world, Mugabe is surrounded by
ministers who court external support only when it is not channelled to civic
enlightenment. The reason why he is screaming his lungs out on sanctions is
that he only wants fungible "development" and "humanitarian" aid from
Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo perfectly describes the likes of Mugabe
in her book Dead Aid: "If the world has one picture of African statesmen, it
is one of rank corruption on a stupendous scale. There hardly seem any
leaders who haven't crowned themselves in gold, seized land, handed over
state businesses to relatives and friends, diverted billions to foreign bank
accounts, and generally treated their countries as giant personalised cash
By Zanu PF standards, any CBO labelled a conduit for "political and
human rights" aid is repulsive, since such aid is beyond reach of patronage
Yet Mugabe's cronies sing a different tune in the same choir: "We are
in the process of engaging the corporate world and donors like Unicef to
solve most of the problems facing the schools," trumpets a former Zanu PF
Minister of Information and Publicity. The converse holds true: if donor aid
can solve Zimbabwe's education problems, it can equally help us restore our
political dignity through peaceful, democratic regime change!
Perhaps it is over simplification to assume that informed Zimbabweans
have a higher propensity to neutralise dictatorship, considering that the
middle class has evaporated in the heat of economic meltdown.
Mugabe has a slight advantage over the rest of us mortals other than
his curiously cumbersome salutation as "the commander-in-chief of the
defence forces, president, head of state and government and first secretary
of Zanu PF".
His party controls most local newspapers and all broadcast stations.
His men are in charge of police, prisons, justice and the central bank. In
most "independent commissions", Zanu PF military operatives maintain
vigilance. What this means is that at any one time, Mugabe has the capacity
to press a button that can snuff the life out of even the subtlest of all
The moral of this line is that whenever a dictator is at the helm of a
destructive military juggernaut, common principles of democratic regime
change may not apply.
Wrong. I will re-phrase this: the moral of this line is that whenever
a dictator is at the helm of a destructive military juggernaut, those who
seek to apply common and universal principles of democratic regime change
must be prepared to die.
However, the chances of careless application of the principles of
democratic change are less when citizens are more enlightened and cunning in
As a convert of liberalism, my shrine of democratic regime change does
not permit violence. This is because we liberals believe that violence
begets violence; that is why we should partner with progressive think tanks
that supply knowledge as opposed to bullets, guns and anti-demonstration
tankers. But of late I have been observing Mugabe's pre-electoral body
The man is completely persuaded that nothing on this side of heaven
can remove him from power, especially "invisible" liberals like us. More
importantly, our CKWs are faced with a reality that if they so much as shift
in their seats, Mugabe's machinery can tumble on them like a ton of bricks.
So we look like we have completely run out of options of peaceful democratic
regime change. Wrong!
In my repertoire of regime change techniques, it is very possible to
evict a dictator from State House without so much as breaking a single drop
If oppression is part of autocratic DNA, then The Neighbours Action
(TNA) is the answer to peaceful regime change. In this respect, CKWs play an
important role in empowering their constituents with capacity to persuade
individuals who sustain the daily life of a dictator to withhold their
The rationale behind TNA is that every person knows someone with a
neighbour, relative or friend who works in a dictator's kitchen, garden,
house, office or clinic. Dictators have drivers, messengers, bankers,
barbers, tailors, doctors and dentists. They also boast gigantic informal
and corporatist infrastructure that supports them. If CKWs can identify such
entities and persuade them to withhold their services, this can isolate the
dictator and keep them in a life-threatening state of perpetual anxiety.
When dictators get suspicious of everything, they become recluse and
eventually wither away in a dust storm of paranoia. Our experience with the
Nestlé scandal is that every move that a dictator makes is eventually
Thousands of Zimbabweans must be able to expose at least one person
who either does business with a dictator, or owns a business that is
connected with a dictator's political party. Progressive citizens must now
volunteer this information to CKWs to publish Internet lists of all these
companies and organisations, so we can mount a massive campaign to boycott
their products or services. TNA is now or never.
Ngwenya is a columnist for African Liberty and president of Coalition
for Liberal Market Solutions, a think tank based in Harare. - Afrik.com.
Comment: Farming Disaster Looms
Thursday, 15 October 2009 18:59
Spin-doctors have already started to look for an excuse for the
impending failure of this current farming season. Finance minister Tendai
Biti beware! The litany of excuses in the past has ranged from droughts,
floods, and economic sanctions to poor funding. The government has never
really admitted to failure to plan adequately as a factor in agricultural
The latest assessment by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organisation says that the country should produce about 25% of the staple
FAO's operations officer Michael Jenrich said Zimbabwe is expected to
reap 450 000 tonnes of maize during the next harvest in May, against 1,5
million tonnes this year. The government estimates that the country needs
1,8 million tonnes to feed its people. Most of the anticipated maize will be
grown using inputs made available by donors. The government has started to
move the inputs to GMB depots where farmers are expected to access them.
But not all farmers will be able to access the inputs. There are
administrative hurdles and issues to do with security before inputs are
released. In other words, it's not business as usual for farmers who have
been raised on a make-lazy diet of freebies, most of which they resold in an
orgy of arbitrage.
Meanwhile Agriculture minister Joeseph Made had until yesterday gone
cold. He had said little or nothing on plans for this farming season.
From his cocoon, he can only contemplate the frenzied activity of
years gone by when - together with RBZ governor Gideon Gono and the
military - he played a benevolent grand dad of farming, dishing out
tractors, animal-drawn implements and seed.
In this frenzy government forgot to put fertilisers on the shopping
list and sort out land-use issues. The result was a disastrous season, a
creation of poor planning. Because the game has changed communal and
resettled farmers have to be educated on how to run their farms as
businesses. The era of patronage is over. It is incumbent upon the ministry
responsible for farming to banish from the mindset of farmers the "dai
hurumende (if only government can help with.)" syndrome.
This basic process to facilitate change has not taken place because
the powers that be have not seen the need to do so. What they will
definitely do is to blame failure this time on the paucity of agri-finance.
The most obvious fall guy this time around will be Biti, to whom a lot
of failures in government are currently being attributed. He stands accused
of "blocking" lines of credits and procrastinating in the disbursement of a
loan facility provided by the IMF. Gono has lately been pushing for the
immediate disbursement of the funds, and at a recent press briefing to
discuss funding for this season's crop put in motion the process of putting
Biti through the wringer.
"The Reserve Bank wishes to advise that from this agricultural season
(going onwards), the central bank will not be able to support the farmers,"
said Gono. "This is a result of government's change of policy which clearly
states that the responsibility now lies with the Ministry of Finance, the
Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and the
Focus will soon be on Biti who will stand accused of failing to fund
new farmers. All this will be pitched in the all-too-familiar mantras of the
MDC trying to reverse the land reform programme.
This policy of retrogression will however ensure that we remain poor
as a nation. Financing is not the only problem in agriculture at the moment.
The bigger picture on the land is dominated by an apparent aberration in
land-use in this country which can only be put right by a proper
non-partisan land audit.
We have at the moment a poor land husbandry scenario where rural areas
which are supposed to produce the bulk of the maize crop are still congested
despite the so-called resettlement programme.
Prime land in natural regions one and two where new farmers were
resettled has remained fallow because of multiple farm ownership and
On the other hand, there are farmers invading and being resettled in
dry semi-arid conservancies in regions four and five where they have cut
trees and poached game on the pretext of trying to grow food. The net effect
of this state of affairs on the land is poor crop yields even in the event
of farmers accessing funds.
Poor land-use is a major threat to food security in this country.
Government must initiate a land audit immediately to ensure that mistakes
made during redistribution are corrected. Lands and Resettlement minister
Herbert Murerwa has said US$30 million is required to carry out the audit. G
overnment has said it does not have that kind of money but the EU
recently said it is willing to assist government carry out "an inclusive,
transparent, and comprehensive land audit . . . which should be aimed at
resolving the land issue.
"This is the bigger picture," it said, "which cannot be ignored if
Zimbabwe's agriculture is to become highly successful again."
But there is a proviso to such assistance: "Government has to take its
responsibilities," the EU said. "The decline in the agricultural production
is indeed related to failing government polices. These need to be addressed
by government." Our rulers have refused to admit mistakes were made in land
The offer from the EU might not be taken up for narrow political
reasons. That would be disastrous. We will be importing maize this time next
Candid Comment: Govt Must Continue to Initiate Reforms
Thursday, 15 October 2009 18:56
TWENTY years ago, the world was shaken by exciting good news. The
Berlin Wall collapsed overnight as Germans requested their fundamental
rights and their freedom.
Berlin became one again, and so did Germany. Today, Europeans live in
unity and peace, and borders have almost disappeared.
Germans all over the world will never forget this happy moment. We
have worked hard to overcome the legacy of partition, and many wounds have
been healed. Today we find it hard to explain to our children what the wall
was about. We have finally become a nation at ease with itself.
Welcome to the Day of German Unity!
Today one year ago, Véronique and I arrived in a town previously
unknown to us. We took a room at its most renowned hotel, and sat down for
dinner, at the end of which we were charged 32 million dollars.
The head waiter, smiling regretfully, was unable to explain to us what
this meant in real terms. We looked at each other and began to realise that
we had arrived in a country where real terms had been temporarily suspended.
That country, Zimbabwe as you will have guessed, has since changed
profoundly. Many of its real terms have been re-established. Zimbabweans
have all made new plans, something they are particularly good at. Life has
improved considerably, and we all know why.
Confidence is growing among Zimbabweans, their African neighbours, and
their friends on other continents that the darkest hour may now be behind
us. One of the many consequences of the fresh wind blowing across the
country is the renewed interest of foreign traders and investors in
exploring new business opportunities. And they don't just come from down
south, but also from up north.
After an unwarranted interruption of 12 years, the Afrika-Verein,
Germany's prestigious association for promoting trade with, and investment
in this continent, has organised the trip by 25 German business
representatives and found a lot of interest among its member companies.
Three weeks from today, I myself will be touring my country's major
cities, speaking at a number of chambers of industry and commerce in order
to report about opportunities for German re-engagement.
Re-engagement, my dear guests, is the flavour of the day.
International aid, not only humanitarian in nature, is now flowing into key
sectors of public services. The courageous economic measures taken by Prime
Minister Tsvangirai and his team since February have convinced donors that
the inclusive government is serious about Zimbabwe's recovery.
Europe as a whole, and Germany as a bilateral partner, are assisting
in many ways. Support from Europe represents the bulk of the funds now made
available to ensure that seeds and fertiliser are in place for the coming
Europe's contribution to the new Education Development Fund is
considerable. The health sector, as well as the constitutional process, are
being supported both by European countries bilaterally, and by the
EU-Commission. As far as Germany is concerned, I am happy to tell you that
bilateral transitional aid has kicked in since February in a number of
areas, but first and foremost in the water sector where my country is about
to assume a leading position.
German engineers have analysed the water situation in 10 of Zimbabwe's
30 urban municipalities, and these rapid appraisals are now serving as a
basis for immediate repair and renovation, funded by various donors. Cholera
should never again make headlines in a country which used to have, and
should soon have again, the best medical services in southern Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen, I for one fail to see where there are economic
sanctions as we see substantial re-engagement across the country, in direct
response to the most urgent needs of the Zimbabwean nation.
International confidence could return even faster with more signs of
Zimbabwe's determination to settle a number of issues which continue to be
Political interference in boardroom battles, new violent farm
invasions, some of them affecting German property, the imposition of
unwelcome partners on the owners of privately owned wildlife conservancies,
lack of respect for the jurisdiction of international tribunals -- to
mention only the most disturbing recent examples -- are not exactly the good
news the outside world is eager to hear from Zimbabwe.
Let me put it in the words of the president of a neighbouring country
who, during his recent visit to Harare, praised the pursuit of better
governance, the respect for human rights, and the rule of law.
In this respect, he spoke of shared African values. I would go one
step further, and call them universal values. Zimbabweans, as every other
nation on the globe, have a right to see them respected by their rulers.
While the road back to normal life may be bumpy at times, it is the
greater picture which matters in the long run. After one year of demanding,
but fascinating work in this country, I am firmly convinced that Zimbabweans
will get their act together, and surprise the world yet again as they did in
It is, and will continue to be, a privilege for me, my embassy staff,
and all my fellow countrymen living and working in this country, to walk
this road alongside our Zimbabwean friends.
Dr Conze is the German ambassador to Zimbabwe. This is an edited
version of his address on German Unity Day (October 3), observed this year
on October 2.
Editor's Memo: GNU: MDC Must Stay put
Thursday, 15 October 2009 18:21
THE MDC's national council on September 13 in Bulawayo cornered party
president Morgan Tsvangirai and resolved to engage its structures and
Zimbabweans at large to "ascertain the sustainability and worthiness of the
inclusive government as a vehicle for real change and democracy" in the
country. The buzz-word during the heated council meeting was that the party
should "disengage" from the unity government with the ageing President
Robert Mugabe because of the veteran leader's naked violation of the global
political agreement and the adamant refusal to find a closure to the
outstanding issues of the pact.
Tsvangirai was stunned by the candidness of his fellow council members
and their willingness to walk out of the inclusive government and ended up
gingerly giving in to the demand for a referendum on the government.
Since then, the party has held several consultative rallies throughout
the country where its leadership has been unequivocally told to remain in
government, albeit to restore economic stability, democracy and peace at the
expense of the MDC's ultimate goal - attaining power.
It is quite evident that most Zimbabweans do not want to relive the
suffering they endured in the past decade, especially last year, when the
economy almost ground to a halt. They went for days on end without food and
bore the brunt of political violence.
A poll on the MDC website on whether or not the party should walk out
of the inclusive government yesterday showed that 61,1% of the 244 voters
wanted the party to remain in government. The poll on the website started on
It is clear from the preliminary results of the consultations and
website poll that the majority of MDC supporters and Zimbabweans at large
want this inclusive government to continue in operation despite the hurdles
it is facing. The hurdles are mainly to do with power relations between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
The reality is that Mugabe still retains power given his control of
the security organs of the state and information. It is common cause in
politics that the one who controls the security, information and financial
apparatus of the government is at the helm.
Tsvangirai has the financial portfolio under him, but without security
and control of information, he does not have real power. Senior members of
his party, among them, secretary-general Tendai Biti and incarcerated deputy
treasurer Roy Bennett have since conceded that they signed a bad deal last
September which gave birth to the unity government.
Biti told the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe at their
annual general meeting in Nyanga in July that the agreement was "an
So the fight which Zimbabweans are refusing to be part of at this
moment in time is one of power between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. People are
more concerned with bread and butter issues and are of the opinion that the
inclusive government has thus far delivered.
In any event, does the MDC have any other option to pursue if it quits
the inclusive government?
Eddie Cross, MDC national council member and one of Tsvangirai's
trusted advisors, writing on his website recently said the other option for
his party would be elections.
Cross wrote: "Zanu PF has to ask itself now, 'what happens if the
transitional government collapses?' Make no mistake; it will not be back to
normal business and looting for the Zanu PF thugs. Sadc would have no
alternative but to become engaged and this time there would be no Mbeki to
protect Zanu PF interests.
MDC's position would be quite simple - let's go back to the people and
settle this once and for all.
"For Zanu PF that is the very last thing they want - they and
Mutambara want the present transitional arrangement to last for five years
in the hope that MDC will screw up and they can benefit from the gradual
recovery that is under way.
They also hope that by the end of the five-year term new leadership
might be in place in Zanu PF and they might be able to reenergise the party.
There is no hope for Mutambara unless the present arrangement persists,"
If this is the thinking among MDC leaders pushing for disengagement
then they are targeting the trees and missing the forest.
The party should remain in the inclusive government as they stand a
better chance of changing things from within the government.
Calling for early polls is not an option before a new people-driven
constitution is crafted. Any election under the current supreme law -
whether there are international observers and monitors or not - would result
in Zanu PF resorting to its old dirty tricks: violence and rigging.
Let me conclude my advice to Tsvangirai and the MDC by quoting
University of Zimbabwe political science professor and a noted critic of
Mugabe, John Makumbe: "It is important for the MDC to remain in government
because all the democratic space they are currently occupying is not in the
hands of Zanu PF.
Withdrawing from government will not be good for democracy and the
country and will be a negation of everything that the people have fought for