Wednesday 17 October 2007
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition on Tuesday demanded the prosecution of
police officers and state security agents for allegedly torturing its
activists arrested last March on charges of plotting to overthrow the
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said the 34 activists were
also suing Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri for Z$4 trillion in damages, vowing to end what it called
the "the culture of impunity in state institutions."
"Apart from the $4 trillion that our members are demanding in damages from
the state, we demand the immediate investigation of the heinous acts of
torture against the detainees and the consequent prosecution of individual
police officers and state security agents involved in the same," the party
said in a statement.
Mohadi and Chihuri were not immediately available for comment on the matter.
However, the Harare administration has in the past rejected charges by
churches and human rights groups that the police and other state security
agents routinely target MDC activists for illegal arrest and torture.
The MDC activists spent up to three months in jail facing charges that they
received training in warfare and insurgency work in neighbouring South
Africa and planned to overthrow President Robert Mugabe and government.
The MDC denied plotting military insurgency, dismissing charges against its
activists as politically motivated and trumped up, a claim upheld by the
High Court in July when it freed the opposition party's activists, saying
the police had lied and fabricated evidence against them.
Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, representing the activists who all belong to
the larger faction of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, said the money the
activists were claiming was for unlawful arrest and detention without trial,
assault, torture, denial of food and lack of medical attention while in
"We have served the Minister of Home Affairs, the Police Commissioner and
several other police officers fingered in the detention and torture of our
clients," said Muchadehama.
The Z$4 trillion being demanded by the MDC activists amounts to more than
US$127 million on the official foreign exchange market but less than US$5
million on the illegal parallel market rate where the dollar trades at 750
000 to one greenback, and where most foreign currency is traded in Zimbabwe.
Some of the MDC activists held by the police for up to three months are
Member of Parliament Paul Madzore, deputy organising secretary Morgan
Komichi, director of elections Ian Makone and information officer Luke
The MDC, which is in talks with ZANU PF that are in part aimed at ensuring
free and fair elections next year, claimed the arrest of its activists and
continuing acts of violence against the opposition party were meant to
cripple the party ahead of the presidential and parliamentary polls in 2008.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki under the auspices of the Southern
African Development Community brokered the talks between the ruling ZANU PF
party and the MDC.
The talks, that are aimed at finding a permanent settlement to Zimbabwe's
eight-year political and economic crisis, saw the two political parties
agreeing last month on constitutional reforms that will see parliamentary
elections brought forward by two years to be held together with presidential
elections in 2008.
But the MDC insists political violence was continuing in Zimbabwe and that
suppression of the freedoms of assembly and movement had not stopped,
although the opposition party says it will not pull out of the South
African-led talks with ZANU PF. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 17 October 2007
By Hendricks Chizhanje
HARARE - Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Zimbabwe slumped by
61.1 percent in 2006 after peaking at US$103 million the previous year,
according to the latest World Investment Report released by the United
The report - titled Transnational Corporations, Extractive Industries and
Development and released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD) - showed FDI inflows into Zimbabwe plunging to US$40
million in 2006 from US$103 million in 2005.
The average FDI inflow into Zimbabwe between 1990 and 2000 was US$88
The UNCTAD report attributed the slump in investment to Zimbabwe's economic
climate, characterised by a government assault on property rights and the
recent crackdown on money transfer agencies.
The Harare authorities have compulsorily acquired farmland from former white
owners under a controversial and often violent land reform programme that
resulted in an unprecedented flight of foreign investors since 2000.
"In some countries, however, governments adopted policies that were less
favourable to foreign investment ... Swaziland closed its retail sector to
foreign investors and Zimbabwe prohibited money transfer operations by
foreign or domestic agencies and main banking institutions," read part of
the UNCTAD report.
Zimbabwe's legislators recently railed through parliament a controversial
Economic Empowerment and Indigenisation Bill that forces foreign investors
to cede 51 percent of their shareholding to blacks.
The government says the controversial legislation is meant to give control
of the country's natural resources to the majority blacks.
But the legislation has drawn criticism from economic analysts and central
bank governor Gideon Gono who fear it would scare away foreign investors at
a time Harare desperately needs support from the international community.
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, an umbrella body representing the
interests of the country's commercial sector, has warned of a 30 percent
slump in foreign investment if President Robert Mugabe presses ahead with a
controversial indigenization law.
United States food giant H J Heinz has already sold its 49 percent stake in
Olivine Holdings for US$6.8 million to government-controlled agro-processing
company Cotton Company of Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 17 October 2007
By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri
HARARE - Police on Tuesday severely assaulted and injured more than 30
members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) political pressure
group for attempting to march to Parliament to protest against
constitutional reforms agreed between President Robert Mugabe and the
opposition last month.
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party agreed in Parliament to amend Zimbabwe's
Constitution to bring forward parliamentary elections by two years so they
will be held together with presidential elections in 2008.
The NCA and other civic society groups have opposed the constitutional
changes, saying any process to amend the country's governance charter should
include all stakeholders and that what is needed are not piecemeal changes
but wholesale constitutional reforms to produce a new and democratic
constitution for the country.
In a statement, the NCA said its activists were on a peaceful march to
Parliament to show their disapproval of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment
Bill No. 18 when the police pounced, beating up and injuring 34 of the
"We wonder why the regime still believes in bloodshed. We were merely
exercising our right to demonstrate against something we abhor," the group
said, adding that those injured were taken to a private hospital for
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the police had clashed with the
NCA demonstrators but denied excessive force was used.
He said: "They were asked to disperse. Some took the orders but a few tried
to resist the orders and some minimum force was used. It was not anything
serious but just to make them disperse."
However a ZimOnline reporter who was monitoring the NCA march witnessed
dozens of riot police, some who carried guns, round up the demonstrators and
ordering them to lie on the tarmac, not far from the offices of the
government's flagship Herald newspaper.
Then a police officer, who was referred to as Marondera by his colleagues
and who appeared to be their commander, ordered the police to assault the
"Give them what they deserve and let them go," thundered Marondera, upon
which the police began beating the NCA activists with baton sticks before
ordering them to disperse.
Meanwhile, Women of Zimbabwe Arise official Jenni Williams said she and
scores of other activists from the group who were arrested by the police on
Monday afternoon for demonstrating against police brutality were released
later in the night.
They were not charged.
"We were released around midnight without any charge," said Williams "We
know the tactic is to frustrate (us). It will not work. We will continue
fighting until we get what we want."- ZimOnline
Wednesday 17 October 2007
By Lizwe Sebatha
BULAWAYO - Mining companies in Zimbabwe have started receiving direct
uninterrupted power supplies from Mozambique's Cahora Bassa to avert total
collapse of a sector battling constant power blackouts.
The Chamber of Mines said yesterday that mining companies started receiving
direct uninterrupted power this month from Mozambique after signing
individual contracts with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
to pay for power supplies in foreign currency.
ZimOnline revealed last month that the Chamber of Mines and ZESA had signed
an agreement to allow mining companies to start paying for power supplies to
the power utility in foreign currency after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) authorised the move.
The arrangement is an attempt to save the mining sector, one of the main
casualties of the constant power outages that have hit Zimbabwe since
foreign currency shortages started in 1999.
Chamber of Mines chief executive Douglas Verden said mining companies that
signed individual contracts with ZESA started receiving power supplies
direct from Mozambique this month.
"They pay in foreign currency and receive 220 megawatts of power per month
from Cahora Bassa to increase production output," said Verden yesterday.
This comes as a relief to the mining companies, coming at a time when most
of Zimbabwe's regional power suppliers have reduced supplies to ZESA over
The Chamber of Mines has already predicted a 23 percent decline in gold
production from 11 tonnes to six tonnes per annum because of the country's
Gold producers, in the first half of the year, only managed to produce a
total volume of three tonnes and 612 kilogrammes of gold against the
projected output of eight tonnes and 715 kilogrammes.
Last year Zimbabwe's mining output dipped by 14 percent, while gold
deliveries to the central bank - the country's sole buyer of the metal -
were down to 11 tonnes from 14 tonnes the previous year.
Last week one of the country's largest foreign mining investors, South
Africa's Impala Platinum (Implats), announced it had reached a tentative
agreement with Mozambique to import power from Cahora Bassa to cushion its
Zimbabwean operations against rolling blackouts.
The South African-based mining giant - majority shareholders in Zimbabwe's
largest platinum producer Zimplats Holdings - said an agreement had been
reached in principle with Mozambique to import power directly from
Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa.
The group, which runs platinum mining operations at Selous, Ngezi and Mimosa
near Bulawayo, also announced plans to build a 330-kilovolt sub-station near
Selous to power its operations.
Mimosa is jointly owned by Implats and Aquarius.
Zimbabwean companies have been subjected to rolling blackouts blamed on an
eight-year economic crisis that has seen ZESA failing to keep pace with
demand for electricity.
Zimbabwe imports more than 40 percent of her power from neighbouring
countries. - ZimOnline
Wednesday 17 October 2007
By Simplisio Chirinda
HARARE - Miss Rural pageant founder, Sipho Mazibuko has sensationally
claimed that a senior Zimbabwe government official was throwing spanners
into her business plans after she turned down the official's sexual
Mazibuko told stunned journalists at a press conference on Monday that
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) boss Karikoga Kaseke was blocking the
hosting of her pageant's finals after she refused to sleep with him.
"I have called you so that you understand why we are postponing the finals
of the Miss Rural Zimbabwe pageant.
"We have been having problems with the ZTA which wants to take over my
pageant and is blocking the holding of the finals because I refused to be
Kaseke's girlfriend and to sleep with him," said Mazibuko.
Mazibuko, who was surrounded by more than a dozen burly bodyguards, refused
to take questions from the floor.
Kaseke is the chief executive officer of ZTA, a quasi government body that
promotes tourism and has the power to licence the hosting of all beauty
pageants in Zimbabwe.
The former Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief executive
officer is not new to controversy. Last year, he was forced to resign from
his post after he was accused of bedding an under-age orphaned girl, Nyasha
Contacted for comment on the latest allegations, Kaseke dismissed Mazibuko's
allegations as the rantings of a mad woman.
"This woman is mad, I don't know what she is talking about and I don't even
know where it's all coming from. I am surprised that she called the press to
tell all these lies," said an emotional Kaseke yesterday.
"This talk about the ZTA refusing to bankroll her because she refused to
sleep with me is ridiculous. I am actually weighing my options but I will
certainly have her arrested for criminal defamation," he added.
The Standard weekly newspaper last weekend accused Mazibuko of abusing young
girls after scores of this year's finalists were paraded and exposed to
lurid scenes at night clubs in Masvingo town.
There have also been allegations that senior government officials were
abusing the young girls taking advantage of their desperation. - ZimOnline
The Czech Republic is considering joining Britain's Gordon Brown in
boycotting an EU-Africa summit if Zimbabwe's controversial leader Robert
Mugabe shows up, a deputy prime minister said.
Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 21:59 (BST)
BRUSSELS - The Czech Republic is considering joining Britain's Gordon Brown
in boycotting an EU-Africa summit if Zimbabwe's controversial leader Robert
Mugabe shows up, a deputy prime minister said.
EU president Portugal is planning to host the first summit of EU and African
leaders in seven years in December but Brown has said neither he nor any
senior member of the British government will attend alongside Mugabe. He had
been alone so far in announcing a boycott.
"Boycott the summit? It's an option," Czech Deputy Prime Minister for
European Affairs Alexandr Vondra told reporters. "We have not made a
decision yet but it's an option to downgrade our participation," he said in
embargoed comments during a trip to Brussels last week.
The EU and Africa have failed to organise a summit for years because Britain
and other EU states refused to attend if Mugabe did, and African leaders
would not attend if he was barred.
Critics accuse Mugabe of rigging elections, human rights abuses and
presiding over the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy, now marked by the world's
highest inflation rate of about 6,600 percent and joblessness of about 80
But, pressed by increasing competition from China in the resource-rich
continent, the EU seems determined this time for the summit to take place.
The 27-nation bloc is Africa's largest trading partner with trade totalling
more than 200 billion euros ($283 billion) last year. But China leapt into
third place in 2006 with 43 billion euros and has stepped up investments.
Portugal has said it will invite all leaders, including Mugabe. It has yet
to send the invitations.
Officials said EU states backed Portugal and want the summit to take place,
though the Czech Republic, some Nordic countries and the Netherlands take a
hard line on Mugabe's human rights records, along with Britain.
Mugabe blames Western powers for the economic crisis and accuses them, and
former colonial ruler Britain in particular, of plotting with the opposition
to oust him. African leaders see him as an independence hero.
Mugabe is subject to an EU travel ban but the ban can be suspended to allow
him to attend the Dec. 8-9 summit Lisbon.
SW Radio Africa (London)
16 October 2007
Posted to the web 16 October 2007
A report by seven key organisations on Zimbabwe's agricultural situation
says most people have resorted to barter trading to acquire basic
commodities, as shops continue to be empty.
Details in a paper entitled: Agricultural Coordination Working Group -
September 2007, portray a dire picture of how millions of people in the
countryside are trading their staple maize for casual labour and other basic
needs such as laundry soap and sugar.
It also highlights the plummeting levels of wheat production on farms,
underscoring the warped land reform policies of the Robert Mugabe regime
that has seen 70% of commercial agriculture being destroyed in the past
Among the organisations involved in the compilation of the report are the
Food and Agriculture Organisation, Environment Africa, Oxfam, the Ministry
of Health and the Department of Agricultural Research and Extension (Arex).
In the report, the state-controlled Arex admits: "The prevalence of barter
trade is high in all (rural) districts with a wide range of commodities
being exchanged for grain (for example sugar, laundry soap, green vegetables
and casual labour).
Arex adds: "An analysis of the barter trade activities indicate that the
terms of trade are favouring basic commodities over grain. The observed
worsening terms for trade of maize grain is the result of the acute
shortages of basic commodities and high prices on the parallel market."
The practice of barter trade has also extended into cities and towns
according to journalist, Shakeman Mugari.
Mugari said: "Everyone is feeling the pinch and we are witnessing this even
here in Harare. People are indeed pawning their assets for basic commodities
and formal business is collapsing.
"Its all a direct result of the government's price blitz policy and this has
had an obvious domino effect on the poor showing of the economy," Mugari
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
16 October 2007
A spokesman for the World Food Program said on Tuesday, World Food Day, that
its logistical pipeline of food assistance Zimbabwe has been bringing
nutrition to the most vulnerable groups since last month and that the agency
will continue to gear up its provision of food aid looking to feed 4 million
people by March of 2008.
The United Nations agency is continuing to appeal to donors for assistance
on behalf of the country although Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in September that his government had
matters in hand.
WFP Southern African Regional Information Officer Richard Lee said the
agency has been feeding vulnerable rural dwellers through a program launched
Lee told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
his agency is scaling up operations anticipating the period of most critical
need in the first three months of 2008 when Zimbabwe will be deep into its
Meanwhile, British nongovernmental aid provider Tearfund launched its own
appeal on Monday to raise funds for food assistance for Zimbabwe and to
support churches in the country which are involved in advocacy work on
behalf of the poor.
Tearfund Zimbabwe Desk Officer Nick Burn said the organization, which has
worked in Zimbabwe before, felt compelled to help those at risk of going
International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: October 16, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Around dawn, Susan lights a fire of wood and garbage in
the yard to boil tea. There's no sugar, and sometimes no tea either - just
mugs of tepid water for her two boys to drink before they head to school.
It's the start of a typically desperate day in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe,
where the economy is so crippled that households across the country often
awake without power or running water, and a soft drink can be a luxury.
Those who suffer most appear so burdened by the effort of living from day to
day, they have little energy left to fight for change - and little hope for
a better future.
Susan's is a world in slow-motion meltdown.
The first dim wash of daylight at 5 a.m. brings the clatter of chores on
treeless Rakgajani Avenue in western Harare, in a crowded district where
some homes are no bigger than a household garage. Firewood comes into the
city from outside, on buses, on women's heads, or trundled in on pushcarts
to be sold on street corners.
Susan's boys, 9-year-old Paul and Dumi, aged 7, are walking to school when
their mother takes up her spot on the sidewalk. Here she'll spend most of
the day selling maputi, a popcorn-like snack of roasted maize kernels, and
sometimes vegetables and children's clothing she has foraged at the district
She sits on the concrete paving outside her house, a tall lean woman aged
32, wearing a faded cotton head scarf. The weather forecast on state radio
says it will be 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) by noon. She
displays just one small plastic bag of maputi in case the police come on a
confiscation raid and accuse her of illegal vending. The rest she hides
inside her house until customers request it.
"We have no money, but still the police chase us," Susan said.
With food and hard currency scarce, and inflation running at nearly 7,000
percent for this year, Mugabe's government seems to have decided that the
vendors share the blame - that they are price-gougers and black-marketeers
and the sources of worsening crime.
Those were the official reasons given for a brutal slum clearance operation
in 2005 that left tens of thousands of people homeless and saw makeshift
markets flattened by bulldozers in urban strongholds of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.
The government called it "Operation Clear Out the Filth."
On a good day, Susan earns 300,000 Zimbabwe dollars (60 cents at black
market exchange rates). Her husband recently lost his job as a driver at a
small engineering factory that went broke. When he was working, he brought
home less than Susan earned as a street vendor.
Now that the central bank has struck three zeros off the inflated bank
notes, Susan no longer has to wrestle with armfuls of banknotes.
But no matter what shape the money takes, it can't buy Susan's family the
basics. She says they manage on one daily meal of sadza, or corn meal
porridge, with scraps of boiled vegetables but no cooking oil, salt, meat or
bread. She last drank a Coke at a relative's wedding in April and can't
remember when her sons last had cookies or candy.
"Now we say that's good - it rots your teeth," she said.
The young play street soccer with a ball of plastic bags held together with
rubber bands. But they have little will or energy left for play, said Jane,
Susan's sister. Both women asked that their surnames be withheld, saying
they fear retaliation by Mugabe's agents.
As power and water outages worsen, linked to shortages of coal, spare parts
and hard currency, sales of generators and water storage tanks in affluent
suburbs of Zimbabwe have soared. But a water tank would cost Susan seven
years of her highest earnings as a street vendor.
In her district, Some water is drawn from streams and drains. But there
isn't enough for regular bathing and laundry.
By around 2 p.m., the boys are back from school. They immediately shed their
uniforms. To keep them uncreased, Susan wipes them down with a damp cloth,
then covers them with books, old magazines, her Bible, a tea tray of saucers
and cracked china plates and an old wooden footstool. No matter how hard
life is, the children must look neat.
Uniforms are obligatory, and Susan would have to sell 400 packets of maputi
to afford a new school blazer for Dumi.
When children weaken and get sick, "we can't afford to go to the clinic,"
said Jane, the sister. "We use plants taught to us by the old people and the
n'angas" - herbalist healers.
Many trace the economic collapse to the program Mugabe launched in 2000 to
seize white-owned farms and hand them over to blacks to right the wrongs of
the murungu, the whites who founded this corner of the British empire and
ruled it until it won independence in 1980.
The chaotic and often violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms
disrupted the agriculture-based economy of what used to be a regional
The government has cracked down hard on Mugabe's critics, arresting and
beating opposition leaders. Mugabe himself has declared his "police have a
right to bash" dissidents.
Susan, Jane and their neighbors say they are too busy trying to survive to
engage in politics - and they know the risks. Jane tells of a woman who
participated in a demonstration, was assaulted and spent a month in the
Harare Central hospital.
"You know what happens, so you just draw away," she said.
Still clinging to the remnants of the democracy it inherited from the
whites, when the black majority had no vote, Zimbabwe is holding
presidential and parliament elections in March. Past elections have been
marred by violence, intimidation and allegations of rigging.
Mugabe, 83, the only ruler since independence, is to run again next year. If
he wins "we will die of hunger," Jane said. "If anyone else wins, we will be
beaten. It will be war."
By 6 p.m., dusk is falling over Susan's brick home of three small rooms. The
acrid smell of cooking fires and burning garbage settles over the street.
The wood Susan has bought won't last long enough to cook cornmeal porridge.
She adds paper cartons to the flame and then the stuffing from a piece of
mattress she found in long grass past the church.
The darkening shroud of night is broken by the sweep of the headlamps of the
occasional passing car or taxi, lit on bright to avoid the deepening
potholes. The vibrant nightlife of Rakgajani Avenue has died. Candles
flickers behind some of the broken window panes in a hostel where families
Kerosene lamps are useless. There has been no kerosene in five years of
chronic gasoline shortages.
Paul and Dumi go to sleep behind a curtain. A cousin visiting from Susan's
home village in rural Mutoko, 90 miles (145 kilometers) away, rolls out a
blanket on the kitchen floor. She says she was afraid to bring corn from the
village harvest lest it be confiscated when the bus was searched at police
The family turns in by 9 p.m. Susan is already fretting about tomorrow.
"What are the kids going to eat?"
The TV set is covered with a hand-crocheted white cotton doily and family
photos in plastic frames. The sole channel is a government mouthpiece. The
set is switched off. There is still no power.
"We don't miss it," Susan said. "All they want us to see is they are strong,
we are free from the British murungu, and things are getting to be OK."
17 October 2007
By Grace Kwinjeh
The Standing Committee of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has just suspended its women's league leadership in a top-down coup. This
makes me step back and consider two views of women's liberation.
'The emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a
humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a
fundamental necessity for the revolution, the guarantee of its continuity
and the precondition for its victory', said Samora Machel, the founder of
For Machel, 'to destroy the system of exploitation and build a new society
which releases the potential of human beings. is the context within which
women's emancipation arises.'
Here is another context and quotation: 'Feminism is the radical notion that
women own their vaginas', according to an anonymous sister, with vagina
meaning an expression of feminism, womanhood, strength, resilience,
struggle, as well as our body and reproductive capacity.
The female body is a site of struggle which is why in war situations,
opposing parties take pride in raping women. A Congolese feminist, Christine
Schuler Deschryver , estimates that in the conflict-ridden eastern DRC,
'more than 200,000 women, children and babies are being raped every day, and
right now, thousands of women and children are being taken into forests as
In Zimbabwe, where I was jailed and tortured for peacefully participating in
a protest last March, patriarchy has resulted in some democracy activists
temporarily losing the value system that helped us to stand against Robert
Mugabe's tyranny in the first place. We are seeing regular instances of
sexism and misogyny, sadly perpetrated by would-be liberators whose
leadership is now marked by moral decadence.
Sexism is immoral and should be treated as such.
We would have short changed ourselves as women if we agree to yet another
reproduction of the debauchery, unfairness and inequality that we inherited
at independence, and that soon reared its head in Mugabe's ruling party he
authorised mass arrests of women for being on the street alone at night in
That which united democrats in civil society and the MDC when we went to
battle against Mugabe's regime was a common understanding of what we want to
achieve in a new Zimbabwe. That included a clear vision of the positioning
and placing of women, who have endured decades of patriarchal oppression
passed on like a baton stick from one system to another, from the settler
colonialists to the nationalists - and now sadly to the present-day
Even before the MDC was formed eight years ago, Zimbabwean women made great
strides in fighting for their emancipation. We took on Mugabe before the
boys even woke up to their own oppression. The women's struggle was led by
women like Everjoice Win, Shereen Essof, Priscilla Misihairabwi, Nancy
Kachingwe, Yvonne Mahlunge, Isabella Matambanadzo, Thoko Matshe, Janah
Ncube, Lydia Zigomo, Rudo Kwaramba, and Sekai Holland, fellow torture
survivor and head of the Association of Women's Clubs.
Our first fight was for recognition as equal human beings to our male
counterparts. The Legal Age of Majority Act now recognises us as adults, we
can vote, open bank accounts and even marry should we choose to - none of
which were possible without the consent of a male connection, be it brother
father or uncle. We were perpetual minors.
The Matrimonial Causes Act now recognises our right to own property
independently of our husbands or fathers. After we challenged physical
abuse, parliament passed the Domestic Violence Act. This background made
some of us suitable candidates for leadership in the MDC.
At what point, then, did we women become minors once again, answerable to
male authority, becoming subjects of agendas that have nothing to do with
our empowerment or liberation for that matter? With the MDC's attack on its
women's league, we are relegated once again to second class citizen
The first contact women like Lucia Matibenga (former head of the MDC women's
league), Sekai Holland and myself have with our bodies each morning after we
wake up and take a bath, is the scarring inflicted by Mugabe's police.
These scars are deep, physical and psychological, but their political
significance is that they can be the source of our liberation. They are our
badges of honour, marking us as comrades who have been on the frontline
facing the enemy head on.
Zanu PF has a military history and what Mugabe calls 'degrees in violence'
that we all know of. However, we have been too slow to address other forms
of violence perpetrated against us by our brothers in the democratic
We are told by MDC men, 'It is taboo, it causes unnecessary confusion,
divisions, we have one enemy'. If we keep believing this, it means that like
our sisters in Zanu Pf we may find ourselves on the eve of independence in
the same position they were in at Lancaster House.
Their leading woman in the state, Joyce Mujuru, was suddenly elevated to
Vice President but served merely as a place holder, for as the succession
battle rages it is clear she is not Mugabe's natural successor. She has not
pushed any women's agenda beyond party politics and sloganeering.
Everjoice Win, gender officer at ActionAid, insists that we will not unite
with Mujuru for the sake of biology. Having a vagina does not necessarily
mean we are the same.
Says Win, 'Whatever "deal" is worked out to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis, women
and their rights should be at the centre of it. We want feminists-women who
care about the rights of other women and who are prepared to rock the
patriarchal boat-to be in leadership positions and to be there when the deal
But of the top six dealmakers from two MDC factions and the government, only
one is a woman.
For a long time, women have been bashed into silence: 'If you speak out he
will beat you up more'. Yet whether we speak or not we still take a beating.
Now, at what may become a time of renewed patriarchy under the mantle of the
democratic opposition, it is a historical obligation for any woman to stand
up against the kind of bigotry that is being forced on us, even by our own
brothers in the new liberation movement, a movement still not mature enough
to treat us with respect.
Grace Kwinjeh is an MDC official and writes this article as a Visiting
Scholar with the Center for Civil Society.
By Carole Gombakomba
16 October 2007
Facing an incipient rebellion by the women in its ranks over the dissolution
earlier this month of a women's assembly, the leadership of the faction of
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan
Tsvangirai has called a special congress of the women's assembly on October
28, party sources said.
The dissolution of the assembly by a steering committee of the faction was
interpreted by many as a roundabout means of ousting its head, Lucia
Matibenga. The language used to announce the decision was also unfortunate,
as officials referred to an "audit" of the assembly, which some took as
suggesting financial improprieties. However, the term "audit" was used to
describe a general review of the assembly's effectiveness.
Faction Secretary General Tendai Biti, who is said to have signed the letter
dissolving the women's assembly, confirmed Tuesday that the party will hold
the extraordinary congress at the end of the month - but refused to disclose
National Chairman Lovemore Moyo was said to have signed the letter calling
for the extraordinary summit - the next ordinary summit was not due until
Some members of the MDC faction's national executive said the standing
committee headed by party President Morgan Tsvangirai failed to follow the
proper procedure in dissolving the assembly. Sources said the national
executive has scheduled an emergency meeting one day before the women's
Political analyst John Makumbe, a senior lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the faction needs to call a special meeting if there are disagreements
within a party organ, but added that current problems in the faction go well
beyond the Women's Assembly.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that Theresa Makone, wife of
faction elections director Ian Makone, was the top contender to become
national chairwoman of the women's assembly. VOA could not reach Makone for
National Director Ernest Mudzengi of the National Constitutional Assembly
noted in an interview with reporter Patience Rusere that the dissolution of
the women's assembly was closely followed by that of the faction's United
Kingdom executive, reflecting a fundamental unease with MDC compromises in
crisis talks with ZANU-PF.
The Rt. Rev. Norbert Kunonga must go, leaders of the Anglican Province of
Central Africa said, calling upon the controversial Bishop of Harare to
relinquish control of diocesan assets by Oct. 16 or face a civil lawsuit.
"There is no justification for your continued conduct of episcopal duties as
diocesan Bishop" of Harare, lawyers acting on behalf of the province told
Bishop Kunonga last week.
In a letter to Archbishop Bernard Malango dated Sept. 21, Bishop Kunonga
said that Harare had quit the province over the issue of homosexuality,
citing the Aug. 4 passage by the diocese of Pastoral Motion 8c which he said
However Harare diocesan chancellor Robert Stumbles told The Living Church no
such resolution was adopted. Bishop Kunonga's purported secession resolution
"appeared after synod" and had "not been on the agenda." At no time did the
Harare synod give Bishop Kunonga "absolute authority to drag the diocese out
of the province," he said.
Bishop Kunonga's actions were "tantamount to a schism," Bishop Trevor Mwamba
of Botswana told TLC on Sept. 22.
"The next logical step is for the Bishop of Harare to resign," he said. "The
See of the Diocese of Harare will then be declared vacant and a new bishop
elected to replace Bishop Kunonga. The schismatic group should not be under
any illusion in thinking that they have title to the properties and various
trusts legally vested in the Diocese of Harare."
The letter to Archbishop Malango by Bishop Kunonga followed a
controversy-plagued provincial synod on Sept. 10. The province consists of
15 dioceses in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In their letter to Bishop Kunonga, the province's solicitors, Gill,
Godlonton & Gerrans of Harare wrote "that despite your withdrawal from our
client [the Church of the Province of Central Africa] you continue to
conduct episcopal duties in the diocese of Harare and administrative
business at our client's premises at Paget House."
He was asked to surrender the diocese's automobiles, bank accounts, books of
account and real estate which were "held in trust by the diocesan trust for
the benefit of the Diocese of Harare but remain the property of our client,
Church of the Province of Central Africa."
Should Bishop Kunonga fail to comply with the province's request, the letter
said the province would pursue civil legal remedies.
(The Rev.) George Conger
By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 10/17/2007 07:18:55
THE deposed opposition MDC UK executive has vowed to defy the party's
national chairman, Lovemore Moyo, who dissolved the structure over the
weekend citing ceaseless in-fighting.
Moyo is the national chairman of the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
Moyo was accused of "nepotism" and abuse of the MDC constitution by Ephraim
Tapa, the chairman of the deposed executive.
Tapa blasted: "We are talking here of a chairman who came to save the
political lives of his acquaintances. We are not accepting that and the
manner in which it was done was unconstitutional.
"This whole thing was a cooked up thing and that is why the membership of
the MDC in the UK is saying 'No'."
Tapa claimed a revolt was imminent among the MDC membership in the UK, even
suggesting that some were calling for the formation of a new party.
But Moyo, in an interview with AfrosoundsFM's Zimbabwe Today programme, said
he had the constitutional authority to make the changes.
He said: "I didn't just come to dissolve the UK structure. I met the youth
executive first to find out their views and also their concerns. I also met
the women's executive and also they expressed their concerns, and also had
their own point of view about problems here in the UK. I then met what I
would say are the owners of the party, that is the branches themselves,
where again I engaged them in a consultative meeting.
"At the end of the day, together with the branches, we chatted the way
forward. It was never a Lovemore Moyo decision, but it was a decision that
came from the contributions and concerns made by the branches themselves.
"Out of the 42 branches that we have here in the UK, 37 debated on the issue
whether to dissolve the executive or to reform the executive and out of the
37 who deliberated, 33 favoured dissolution citing their reasons and only
four favoured a reformation, that's where we rehabilitate them.
"So it was a clear indication that the former executive had lost the mandate
and trust of the membership here, I never came here with a specific mind
because this is my first encounter with this structure. I don't have a
friend; I don't have anyone whom I know. For anyone to say I came to
dissolve is not true. I came to understand their problems and to give them
But a furious Tapa told the same programme that Moyo had been invited to the
UK by five former members of his executive who quit two weeks ago, led by
Matthew Nyashanu, the organising secretary.
In damaging claims, Tapa said after the dissolution of the UK executive,
Moyo had been see in a pub in the company of Nyashanu "congratulating each
Tapa said: "Up to now a lot of us don't understand what has happened. We are
at a loss really, but I am aware that two weeks ago, five members of the
executive broke away and formed what they called a new province of MDC UK.
"I called for a council (sic) which was attended by over 45 branches and
they endorsed my leadership and the executive unanimously. They also voted
to fill in the gaps that were left by the departed.
"When those people who left discovered that their positions were going to be
filled up, they then hastily arranged for the chairman to come over and
dissolve the executive, that's the only explanation I can give."
While Moyo said the UK MDC had 42 branches, Tapa insisted they were 55,
adding that most were not represented as members were involved in a
demonstration at the Zimbabwe embassy in London.
Moyo, also the MP for Matobo, said the MDC leadership in Zimbabwe had "grown
tired" of constant factional fights in the UK executive.
He said: "We are faced with a dictatorship back home and we can't afford to
waste time and have a scenario where people spend 90 percent of their time
harassing and insulting each other on the internet. We are not going to
"It is unfortunate if people see these positions as a way of uplifting
themselves individually, to us these are challenges and also when you are a
position holder we expect you to do the will of the majority and implement
the party programme.
"I am saying if you have a difference with your national leadership and if
you are a disciplined cadre and you have a respect of the leadership,
obviously there are channels to express your dissatisfaction, but certainly
media is not the appropriate channel to attack your leadership.
"To me, it's serious indiscipline, and there is no MDC cadre who can attack
and insult the leadership in public. Once you do so, to me you are Zanu PF,
you are part of the dictatorship we are fighting."
Moyo said John Nyamande would lead a coordinating committee for the next six
months "until the dust settles".
"I hope that at that time, we will be ready for an extra-ordinary congress
here in the UK and people again would be able to choose their leadership.
Those who have also been asked to step down are also free to campaign as
long as they remain behaved and adhere to the constitution of the party."
Zimbabwe's Oliver Mtukudzi tackles tough issues with jubilant beats
By Bob Young
Tuesday, October 16, 2007 - Updated 6h ago
As a national hero in a nation wracked by drought, violence and runaway
inflation, Oliver Mtukudzi has a choice. He can act like everything is fine
in his native Zimbabwe, roar disapproval through his music, or find a middle
"I have to sing about things that give hope to people," said the Afropop
star, who performs Friday with his Black Spirits band at the Somerville
Theatre. "I don't sing about what's bad. (People) already know all about
As is his fashion, Mtukudzi (pronounced em-too-kud-zee) overstates his
aversion to tackling difficult issues, which is why he has been called an
artist with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Or as Bonnie Raitt, who covered
one of Mtukudzi's songs on her "Silver Lining" album, described it to a
reporter, "The juxtaposition of what Mtukudzi sings about and his raw,
imploring, vocal reminds me of Otis Redding, Toots Hibbert and some of my
favorite reggae, an odd pairing of agonizing, thorny lyrics over basically
That's the approach he takes on his new CD, "Tsimba Itsoka" ("No Foot, No
Footprint"), in which he views the issues in Zimbabwe through a broader,
Which isn't easy, particularly in a country where recently inflation topped
a whopping 7,000 percent. Earlier this week, most bakeries were closed
because flour was in such short supply. Bread, meat and other staples are
nowhere to be found on most Zimbabwean store shelves.
"The economy of the country is bad," said the performer, known
affectionately to his countrymen as Tuku, from a tour stop in the Midwest.
"How much a loaf of bread costs changes almost every day. You can't plan."
Nor can you turn on electricity for extended periods or buy milk some days
except on the black market.
But rather than dwell on the negatives of daily life and invite the ire of a
repressive government, Mtukudzi makes his points on the new album in
reflective songs that aim to enlighten, not preach.
"When I write my music, I don't write it with Zimbabwe in mind," he said. "I
write with people in mind."
In a gently swaying style called tsava that recalls the bright rhythms of
Paul Simon's "Graceland," Mtukudzi uses his sand-and-honey voice to
celebrate the virtues of self-discipline and hard work while demonizing
pedophilia, gambling and self-deception.
Mtukudzi started learning these lessons at an early age. After his father
died when he was an adolescent, he left school to look after his mother and
six younger siblings, whom he learned to entertain with song.
He eventually joined a band called the Wagon Wheels with the fearlessly
political Zimbabwean star Thomas Mapfumo. After several years he left with
some band mates to create the Black Spirits. Now, more than two decades and
45 albums later, Mtukudzi is an international success, but his troubled
homeland is never out of mind, even if his live shows are festive affairs.
"I translate our experiences in Zimbabwe so that other people will hopefully
learn from our mistakes," he said. "Zimbabweans are very welcoming, happy
people who love life, and I represent my people. So the music's tempos are
strong enough to get people up off their feet. People should bring their
Oliver Mtukudzi and Black Spirits, at the Somerville Theatre, Friday at 8.
Tickets: $28; 617-876-4275.