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Life and death a matter of cash withdrawals in Zimbabwe's crumbling hospitals
Bensen Mambo, a 40-year-old accountant, roamed the corridors of Harare's biggest hospital, occasionally stopping, moaning quietly, and waving his hands in the air when his dilemma became too much to bear.
Zimbabwe hospital - Life and death a matter of cash withdrawals in Zimbabwe's crumbling hospitals
The state of the hospital has become a metaphor for a country which is slowly dying from neglect Photo: AP

His strange behaviour hardly seemed out of place in Parirenyatwa Hospital. Once it was Zimbabwe's showpiece teaching hospital with 1,000 beds - but now it is a shell of a building, filthy, crumbling, and mostly empty.

It has almost no drugs or working equipment, and the handful of doctors who have not fled abroad have pretty much given up trying to treat the trickle of patients who still come. A blood trail from an accident victim meandered from beneath a wheeled stretcher, in a ward whose plaster walls were crumbling. Patients gazed at the ceiling in a deathly silence.

Mr Mambo's wife Mary was one of them, diagnosed with a kidney ailment and in desperate need of treatment which he could easily afford.

But in the cruel and surreal world of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe the devoted husband could not withdraw his savings from the bank in time to pay doctors for the care that could have saved her life.

The hospital told him that he had to make a Z$20 million down payment before they started treatment (the equivalent at black market rates of around £7.20) - but the banks have a withdrawal limit of just Z$50,000 per day. Then he was told to buy drugs from private pharmacies to save her at the cost of Z$30 million. By the time he got special clearance from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, hyperinflation had forced up the cost of the drugs to Z$50 million.

On Thursday she died as he knelt beside her bed. But his agony wasn't yet complete. He had to transport her body back to their hometown of Chinhoyi, 80 miles away, where their three children were waiting, this time at the cost of $40 million.

"The doctors have been criss-crossing this place, watching her waste away without care," he said. "She was not a candidate for death, I have my money in the bank but they have been cruel enough to deny me access to that money."

Mr Mambo's tragedy was barely noticed in Parirenyatwa Hospital, named after the nation's first black doctor. That man's son is now the Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa, a Mugabe crony who has been accused of orchestrating violent attacks against supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

In the hospital patients writhe in agony, begging listless doctors for help. Many lie there for days without treatment. But when The Sunday Telegraph spoke to the medical staff, they insisted that they could not help unless patients brought their own medicines.

Last week some of the remaining doctors, a dwindling and demoralised band who are themselves struggling to survive financially, told the health ministry that they could no longer work there.

"Doctors say this is not a strike, but they cannot possibly continue to try and treat people in such a degrading and unprofessional environment," one leading private sector doctor said.

No operations are being carried out and although the casualty department was open, patients were slumped in the waiting room, hoping to see doctors who never come.

The state of the hospital has become a metaphor for a country which is slowly dying from neglect, as hopes fade that a power-sharing political solution can be found to the nation's problems.

The opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has confirmed that he will attend a summit in Harare tomorrow which is aimed at saving an agreement to form a unity government with President Robert Mugabe. But Mr Mugabe's refusal to give up unfettered control of the security forces means that the deal, agreed weeks ago, looks no nearer to working.

Mr Mambo's wife was not the only patient to die last week because of lack of funds. The parents of a three-month-old girl, Natasha, arrived with a huge boil which they had tried to treat at home.

A nurse, who did not want to be named for fear of Mr Mugabe's violent supporters, said: "When she arrived her life could have been saved but her parents had exhausted all their savings on the bus fare. They could not raise the $10 million required.

"She died while everyone watched right here in the waiting room, because she could not be attended to without the required down payment."

Other patients made a long and painful journey from the countryside only to be told on arrival that the doctors would no longer see them. Among them was 61-year-old cancer sufferer, Thembile Damisa, frail and skeletally thin, who sat despairingly in a wheelchair in the hospital grounds.

"I will have to go home," she said. "I can't plant this year, so the people will have to plant for me, I am too weak. I hope I can come back to see the doctor soon. But it is hard and expensive to get to town."

Another woman was limping out of the front doors of the hospital. She said: "Everyone has been discharged. Perhaps we should go to traditional healers now."

Zimbabwe's gathering health crisis was taking on alarming new forms too. There are believed to have been hundreds of cholera cases, including many in the capital Harare. Aid workers fear hundreds more are dying unnoticed in the country's hunger stricken countryside, where social services, from education to health, are at a stand still.

City families are forced by lack of power to cook on open fires where sewerage waste clogs drains, producing swarms of flies and a nauseating stench.

At least they have something to eat. In much of the countryside a food crisis of enormous proportions is raising the spectre of famine. In many areas village people are in fierce competition with donkeys for a wild fruit known as "hacha" which thrives in arid conditions.

Every morning hundreds of villagers head for the hills to gather the fruit, which they laboriously grind and prepare for lunch and supper.

A story doing the rounds relates how a 33-year-old woman, desperate to feed her family, tricked her neighbours by undressing, climbing into a hacha tree and started plucking its fruit.

When the rest of the village arrived in the grey early morning light, they took to their heels thinking a ghost had joined the fray.

Aid workers warn that tens of millions of pounds are needed to deal with the worsening food crisis.

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Tsvangirai slams Mbeki's bias

Sunday Times Foreign Desk
Published:Oct 26, 2008

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will tomorrow formally complain
to the Southern African Development Community over what he views as former
South African president Thabo Mbeki's bias towards President Robert Mugabe.

MDC insiders told the Sunday Times on Friday that Tsvangirai has prepared a
dossier chronicling alleged incidents of Mbeki's bias, the latest being his
recommendations that Mugabe and Zanu-PF be allowed to play a dominant role
in the envisaged new inclusive government.

SADC's committee on politics, defence and security, which comprises Angola,
Mozambique and Swaziland, meets in Harare tomorrow after being forced to
abort a summit in Mbabane, Swaziland, because Zimbabwean authorities refused
to grant Tsvangirai a passport.

Insiders say Tsvangirai is angry that Mbeki never took action when Mugabe
unilaterally convened parliament, unilaterally appointed 10 provincial
governors and gazetted ministries.

"Mbeki has maintained the silence of the grave in all these matters," said a
Tsvangirai confidant. "If he (Mbeki) can't persuade Mugabe to give Morgan a
simple passport, how can he be able to coax Mugabe to give Tsvangirai the
ministry of Home Affairs, which issues the passports?"

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Zimbabwe: No Health Services To Talk Of

Saturday, 25 October 2008 20:30
THE country's two largest referral hospitals in Harare are as good as

They are turning away patients because they have run out of drugs,
equipment while health personnel, including some supporting staff, have
reportedly just stopped going to work.
For the past week, Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals, Zimbabwe's
largest health institutions, have only been attending to a handful of
critically ill patients and road accident victims.
Patients coming for regular check-ups were being turned away as there
was no staff.
When The Standard visited the two public hospitals there was very
little evidence to show that the health centres were fully operational.
On Thursday and Friday afternoon Parirenyatwa Hospital's casualty
department and the emergency centre were deserted.
Two senior nurses were advising patients in need of medical attention
to try private hospitals as nurses and doctors were on strike.
Before even presenting our case, The Standard was advised to go and
"seek treatment elsewhere".
Patients, some even critically ill, were being turned away,
although the nurses were insisting those were the one category of
patients they were treating.
"They told me to go back because there are no doctors but look my son
is dying," said 34-year-old Patience Tinarwo as she left the hospital
dejected. "No one was prepared to help him."
Tinarwo's son, four-year-old Edmond, had been referred to the hospital
from a local clinic with suspected meningitis.
He looked very weak and wasted. His mother said because of the
continuous headaches he had been crying often for the past two days.
Insiders also told The Standard that nurses and other support staff at
the two hospitals had been on strike for nearly three weeks while senior
doctors stopped work last week saying they could not cope anymore with the
workload in the absence of nurses.
The senior doctors were also protesting against poor working
conditions and infrastructure. They believe the conditions are unbearable
for them to come to work and watch patients die.
The Standard understands that late last week senior doctors reportedly
discharged a large number of patients admitted at both hospitals saying the
institutions had become "death traps".
Insiders say some of those discharged on Thursday and Friday last week
by the senior doctors were still very ill and would, under normal
circumstances, not be sent home.
"We know some are going home to die but there is nothing doctors can
do. We have tried for a long time but this hospital is now worse. They may
pick up many other infections and diseases," said one doctor, who requested
"It is better they (patients) go home or seek treatment elsewhere than
wait to die here alone."
The Standard also observed that wards in both hospitals were seriously
depleted. However, the heavy presence of student nurses - who are reportedly
spending most of their time doing nothing - was noticeable.
They are holding fort in the absence of qualified nurses. Also, in the
absence of senior junior doctors are reportedly taking care of the few
patients but say they fear liability in case a patient dies under their
Under normal circumstances junior doctors are supposed to be
supervised by senior or middle-level doctors.
Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights
(ZDHR), said the unfolding crisis was clear testimony of a government that
had failed totally to protect its people.
He called on the donor community to intervene urgently to set up a
disaster fund to save millions of lives in the country. "There is need for
urgent interventions without which many people that depend on the public
health sector, will die," Gwatidzo said. "The government and the donor
community must chip in now, not tomorrow."
Already, lives are being lost because of the collapse of the health
Since the beginning of the year, Cholera alone has killed 120 people
and more deaths could occur before year-end unless authorities act urgently
to improve sanitation and water supplies in cities and towns.
ZADHR blamed the outbreak of cholera on broken-down public
infrastructure, the result of years of unprecedented economic decline and
political turmoil in the country.
The cholera-related deaths have been cumulatively recorded this year
including cases from earlier outbreaks between February and August in
Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Masvingo.
Senior doctors said they unsuccessfully tried to engage Minister of
Health David Parirenyatwa.
Parirenyatwa was not immediately available for comment.
Chairman of the Health Services Board Lovemore Mbengeranwa said it
would not be possible to address the problems bedevilling the health sector
because of the current economic meltdown.
His board had made numerous representations in a bid to address the
nurses and doctors' concerns.
"We know doctors and nurses need better salaries and working
conditions and have made recommendations to the ministry but unfortunately
our recommendations are sometimes not taken up," Mbengeranwa told delegates
who were attending a Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) national
conference last week.
For example, he said, his board had recommended some time ago that the
lowest paid health worker get a salary of $400 000 a month but that was
slashed to $31 000.
While senior government officials fly to South Africa and other
countries with good health delivery systems for their own hospital
treatment, ordinary Zimbabweans are left wondering how much longer the
nation and international community can continue to watch as people die.

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Zapu revival gathers momentum

Saturday, 25 October 2008 20:27

Zanu PF officials pushing for the revival of PF Zapu will this
Saturday convene a mass rally at White City Stadium to decide the fate of
the Unity Accord as the looming split in the ruling party moves to the
public domain for the first time.
Vice-President Joseph Msika, the most senior surviving PF Zapu leader
following the death of Joshua Nkomo, will attend the meeting, signalling the
seriousness of the problems afflicting the party, impeccable sources said.
Last month, Zanu PF politburo and central committee members from the
region demanded an urgent special PF Zapu congress to review the accord
which joined together the former liberation movements to end the Gukurahundi
massacres in the western parts of the country.
The ruling party's provincial co-ordinating committee complained that
former PF Zapu members were not treated as equals and communicated its
concerns to President Robert Mugabe.
They said the straw that broke the camel's back was their
non-inclusion in negotiations that led to the power-sharing agreement with
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Organisers of the meeting, which might send shock waves in Zanu PF,
said although it was not a PF Zapu congress its resolutions would be
"It will be a no-holds-barred meeting," said a senior member of the
provincial executive. "Our people will be given the opportunity to say
whether they still think this marriage is still sustainable."
Sources said the open meeting might put Msika and those PF Zapu
leaders still accommodated in the Zanu PF government in a corner as there
was a groundswell for a pull out among the grassroots.
The decision to call a public forum was reportedly taken after a
realisation that some leaders harbouring ambitions of getting ministerial
posts in the inclusive government were not in favour of the split.
Information and Publicity Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu recently attacked
his colleagues from the region for calling for the revival of PF Zapu saying
instead they should take the blame for the ruling party's demise.
"The writing is on the wall," said another Zanu PF politburo member.
"Mugabe is left with three officials from Matabeleland fighting in his
corner but November 1 will be a watershed."
Effort Nkomo, a senior Zanu PF provincial member, confirmed the
meeting, which he said was a consultative forum to discuss the September 15
power-sharing agreement.
The accord is already under strain after Dumiso Dabengwa, a veteran
nationalist and former Zipra commander, campaigned against Mugabe in the
run-up to the March elections.
Former members of Zipra, PF Zapu's military wing during the liberation
war, also pulled out of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans
Association last month, saying they were not treated as equals by their
ex-Zanla colleagues.
Delays in conferring hero status on former PF Zapu members had also
driven a wedge between the two groups.

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State accused of 'Big Brother' role in Editor's case

Saturday, 25 October 2008 20:26
THE Attorney General's office last week faced the accusation of
playing a "Big Brother" role in the case involving Deputy Prime
Minister-designate Professor Arthur Mutambara and his co-accused, The
Standard Press and its editor Davison Maruziva.
Charges against Mutambara, the newspaper and Maruziva arose on 20
April this year following publication of Mutambara's Independence Day
opinion article in which he criticised the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's
delay in releasing the 29 March presidential poll results.
In his article, Mutambara lamented the irony of celebrating
independence amid a myriad of problems, among them widespread political
violence and economic collapse.
Mutambara also criticised a judgement by High Court Judge, Justice
Tendai Uchena dismissing an application by the opposition MDC compelling the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the results of the March 29 poll,
then delayed by nearly a month.
The state says Mutambara's message contained falsehoods prejudicial to
the state and was contemptuous of the courts.
But the defence argues that the contempt charges cannot stand without
a formal complaint from High Court Judge, Justice Uchena.
The state, represented by Tawanda Zvekare from the AG's office last
Wednesday said that it took it upon itself to remedy the case.
"The judiciary itself may not be aware that they have been derided or
that the statement said may be contemptuous to them," Zvekare told
magistrate Morgan Nemadire. "Realising this, the state took it upon itself
to remedy the case, that is the reason why we do not have a statement from
Justice Uchena or the High Court itself . . . This is not an anomaly, the
state just took it upon itself to remedy the case."
But counsel for Mutambara, Beatrice Mtetwa said the AG's office was
playing the role of Big Brother to the High Court.
"My learned friend here has made a startling revelation that the High
Court may not even be aware that an offence was committed," she said.  "The
AG's office is playing a Big Brother role to the High Court
. . . It is equivalent to saying Mtetwa was raped and pressing ahead
with charges saying with the way she is walking, it looks like she was raped
even if I deny the claims."
She said it was even more baffling that the state now argues that the
whole judiciary was derided yet the charge sheet only talks of Justice
"But still, the AG's is not the court and this therefore means that we
still do not have a complainant," she said. "Either way, Zimbabweans are
allowed to interrogate or comment on judgement of any court in a judiciary
system which calls itself independent."
The defence also said that there was discriminatory application of the
law, where members of the opposition are selectively prosecuted upon
commentary on legitimate matters, which Mtetwa said was a breach of the
 Mtetwa pointed out that the state media has insulted and ridiculed
opposition party members but that Zanu PF members, including President
Robert Mugabe have in the past criticised court rulings without the same AG's
office taking it upon itself to prosecute them in the same manner it was
prosecuting Mutambara, The Standard and Maruziva.
"It is quite clear that the state has excised certain parts of
(Mutambara's opinion article) in order to justify what clearly is a
malicious prosecution," Mtetwa said.
In citing the case of Mthembi-Mahanyale against the Mail & Guardian
(2004) and several other precedents, she said the Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act had not been subjected to the scrutiny by the Supreme Court.
Defence lawyers for Mutambara, the Standard Press and Maruziva have applied
for their case to be referred to the Supreme Court.
Magistrate Nemadire will on November 12 deliver his ruling on the
application for a referral to the Supreme Court.

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Ex-MP Defies Court Orders Over Farm Occupation

Saturday, 25 October 2008 20:18
Former Gutu North MP, Lovemore Matuke is in contempt of court after he
breached a court order not to interfere with activities at a farm he invaded
in Gutu.
As farm invasions and confusion continue in Masvingo, Matuke who is
also the provincial Zanu PF finance secretary is embroiled in a farm
ownership wrangle with Thomas Johannes Nel, who owns Mijn Rust farm.
Nel has since filed an application of contempt at Masvingo civil
court, complaining that Matuke had breached a peace order he was given by
the same court last year barring him from carrying out farming activities on
the farm beyond a 30 hectare plot he was given. Matuke is also accused of
assaulting the applicant's workers.
According to court records, Matuke invaded Mijn Rust farm in July last
year, again breaching a Consent Order that had been signed between Nel and
the then Minister of Special Affairs, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement,
Didymus Mutasa on May 18, 2005 in the Administrative court in Harare.
The Order was signed after Nel had surrendered his two other farms in
Gutu to the government to enable a smooth resettlement of landless people
under case numbers LA 4671/04, LA445/04 and LA 4267/04, leading to, Mutasa
granting him ownership of the farm he was left with.
In the court papers, Nel's defence Lawyer, Rodney Saratoga Makause
argues that Matuke's invasion of the farm was unlawful.
"Because of the agreement in the Administrative court between the
applicant and the minister, the occupation of the property by the respondent
(Matuke) is unlawful," said Makause in court documents.
However, Matuke also filed a notice of application arguing that the
same minister had given him an offer letter on September 3, last year but
the court granted a peace order to Nel, which barred the former from
undertaking farm activities and also not to harass the latter and his
But the latter last week told the court that Matuke had started
ploughing on his farm and had had sent his workers to assault Nel's farm
workers until the case had been finalized by the courts.
The court papers said: "The responded has breached the court order by
assaulting the applicant's employees, removing fences and ploughing some
portions of land, clearly disturbing the applicant's dairy farming
Nel, in his court papers, claims that he had also lost several cattle
and the respondent and his employees had destroyed his grazing land.
Cases of farm invasions and disturbances are on the increase in
Masvingo amid reports that eight commercial farms including one that was
forcibly grabbed by former Masvingo provincial governor, Willard Chiwewe
were invaded by war veterans and Zanu PF supporters last week.
Reports say the Zanu PF supporters and the war veterans, who have
since established temporary structures, are cutting down trees
indiscriminately and are also looting cattle.

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Farmer Sues Mudede For Refusing Him Passport

Saturday, 25 October 2008 20:17
BULAWAYO - Zimbabweans whose parents migrated from other countries are
still being denied citizenship on the grounds that they are aliens despite
changes to the country's laws, a fresh High Court case has revealed.
A prominent Nyamandlovu farmer, Sweet Sweet, born in Zimbabwe 46 years
ago but struggling to trace the origins of his father, is suing the
Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, for refusing to issue him with a
Sweet and three of his siblings say they have been denied passports on
the basis that they were aliens regardless of the fact that they were born
and raised in this country.
Their lawyer, Job Sibanda of Job Sibanda & Associates, said the case
indicated a worrying misapplication of the law by the Registrar- General's
"Imagine the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans who have no access to
lawyers," he said. "The law was changed a long time ago and it's no longer
necessary for them to renounce citizenship they never held."
Perceived aliens from neighbouring countries including their offspring
born and raised in Zimbabwe, some of whom have never been to their father's
countries of origin, were all rendered stateless in 2001.
But in 2003 the law was changed to exempt those with one of their
parents who was born in a Sadc country and entered Zimbabwe on or before
Those who have continuously stayed in the country since birth and have
not acquired foreign citizenship or foreign passports were also exempted
from renouncing their alleged foreign citizenship.
Despite the changes and several court rulings in favour of aliens'
children, the RG's office still requires them to renounce their alleged
foreign citizenship.
"The problem we have with the respondent (RG's office) is that we have
all been denied passports by the respondent's office despite having been
born and grown up in Zimbabwe," Sweet said in his founding affidavit. "None
of us has ever sought, or was granted the citizenship of any other country
and all of us have always regarded Zimbabwe to be our permanent home."
He said they believed that they were entitled to be declared
Zimbabwean citizens and to be issued with passports upon payment of the
requisite fee.

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Media Freedom Must Remain On The Agenda

Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:56
THE media in Zimbabwe remains severely grieved by the country's media
operational environment that continues to deprive citizens of their
constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression and also
dispossesses the media's professional outlook.
This sad media scenario has prompted media stakeholders under the
auspices of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe to hold an all-stakeholders
National Media Law and Policy Reform Conference to be held during the first
week of November.
The conference is aimed at bringing together a broad base of ideas
from all sectors of Zimbabwe who will chart a way forward on media freedom
and freedom of expression in light of the current sorry state of our media.
Media have a critical role to discharge in a transitional phase such
as the one that Zimbabwe is currently going through after the signing of the
power-sharing deal between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations. Zimbabweans
have been anticipating the birth of a new democratic dispensation liberal to
diverse opinion, free expression and tolerance, and one that recognises the
universality of human rights.
On the contrary, the state media have not shown any form of
appreciation of the spirit of the political agreement between the country's
political actors. Contrary to Article 19 (d) of the power-sharing agreement
that advocates for "fair coverage to all political parties for their
legitimate political activities", the state media continues to divide the
country on grounds of political ideologies that sustain the hostilities
between the political rivals.
State media have denied coverage to activities involving the Prime
Minister-designate, Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputies since the signing of
the deal. The MDC formations have been short-changed as coverage has been
the sole right for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF despite Morgan
Tsvangirai holding a political rally last weekend and recently interfacing
with the electorate in Harare's city centre during the past few weeks. These
surely are legitimate activities by the Prime Minister-designate that are
worth mentioning in the public media - at least to any objective,
professional journalists who take pride in their profession.
The conference is ideally crafted to portray a democracy that
acknowledges independent, free and pluralistic media that can successfully
fulfil their mandate in democratic processes that inform national
reconstruction and healing.
The current state of journalism in Zimbabwe, informed by the laws and
policies in place, is in no way positioned to push the agenda of national
healing, reconciliation and democracy.
The peace-building, reconciliation role of the media requires
professional, accountable, objective and balanced journalism that cultivates
and promotes   political stability as opposed to journalism that divides the
nation along political lines.
Stopgap measures such as article 19 of the agreement and several
hollow amendments to AIPPA, POSA and BSA will not democratise the media or
benefit any stakeholders. The only democratic stable solution to the current
media woes is only an explicit constitutional provision that indisputably
guarantees media freedom. This will assure the journalists of security that
the media will be firmly anchored and positioned to undertake its ethical
and responsible obligations of informing the citizenry without fear of
falling foul of AIPPA, POSA, BSA and the Interception of Communications Act
(ICA) and any other laws intended to suppress media freedom and freedom of
expression, association and assembly.
An explicit constitutional guarantee of Freedom of the Media, which is
the norm in other African democracies such as South Africa, Zambia and
Namibia, will include protection of freedom of expression, media freedom,
diversity, pluralism and access to information. The plague of repressive and
retrogressive media laws such as AIPPA, BSA, POSA and ICA will be null and
void as they do not hold a place in any democracy governed by the spirit of
Despite assurances to the 41st Session of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples Rights by the Zimbabwe government to amend AIPPA and other
repressive laws to comply with the Declaration on the Principles of Freedom
of Expression, the laws are still effective and still as repressive. The
cosmetic amendments to media laws by parties involved in the political
negotiations passed in January are not anywhere close to the expectations of
the people as espoused in the People's Charter where freedom of expression
and access to information are labelled as key to the country's movement
towards a true democracy.
The December amendments to AIPPA, POSA and BSA focus on minor
administrative issues that do not address the fundamentals of basic freedoms
such as the right to freedom of expression and media freedom. One is puzzled
by the pride of achievement and co-operation that engulfed Zanu PF and MDC
after undemocratically fast-tracking the amendments through parliament.
Now that Parliament has resumed sitting, it is imperative that MPs
focus debate on issues of media freedom and freedom of expression and their
accompanying rights on the agenda. The people's hope for democracy need to
be rekindled by articulating relevant issues of basic human rights in
Parliament. The professional face of the media fraternity characterised by
ethics, responsibility, accountability and objectivity needs to be
re-established through sound policies from the august house.
*This is the first part of a continuing article on Media Law and
Policy Reform in Zimbabwe, building up to the National Conference. Part 2
will dwell on public media and its role in a transitional phase into
democracy and the professionalisation of the media fraternity as Zimbabwe
moves forward.

Hilton Zvidzayi is the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe Project Officer.

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Mzingeli Gets His Due...At Last

Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:55
CHARLES MZINGELI is featured on the cover of a new book on the
political history of Zimbabwe.
This is as it should be. I have always been amazed at the absence of
Mzingeli's name in many accounts of the struggle against colonialism.
The book is The Urban Roots of Democracy and Political Violence in
Zimbabwe - Harare and Highfield - 1940-1964, by Timothy Scarnecchian,
assistant professor of African history at Kent State University, in Kent,
The cover features a picture of Mzingeli, in wide-brimmed hat,
glasses, moustache, dark suit, white shirt and dark tie.
The picture is almost as I remember him in the late 1950s, as a
reporter on The African Daily News, widely quoted during and after Nathan
Shamuyarira's tenure as editor.
Scarnecchia's research includes a valuable peek at correspondence
between United States diplomats in Salisbury and Washington, and a number of
nationalist leaders, including Robert Mugabe.
Without quoting the letters and conversations at length, it can be
said with certainty the impression is created that Zanu, at its formation,
begged for funds from the US government.
The author says after the split in 1963, Zanu, led by Ndabaningi
Sithole who had studied in the US, appealed for funds from the Americans.
One of Sithole's "point man" was Mugabe. The relevance of this, in the
context of the pathological dislike of US policy in Zanu PF today, is stark.
But for me, the book is most satisfying when it dwells, longer than
any book on our political history that I have come across so far, on
Mzingeli's role.
The first chapter is entitled Charles Mzingeli's leadership and
imperial working-class citizenship, and begins thus:
"Charles Mzingeli's historical legacy is complex, but one aspect of it
is in serious need of revision. The notion that he was a 'sellout' needs to
be put in the context of what came before the 1960s, and of how he felt a
betrayal by the younger leaders, particularly after the original decision to
boycott the African seats in the Federation Parliament was ignored in 1952."
The next year, federation came into being and among the MPs from
Southern Rhodesia were Mike Hove and Jasper Savanhu. There were MPs from
Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, as well, among them Scotting Chingattie and
Manoah Chirwa, Daudi Nyamba and Kumibikano, respectively.
Federation was later attacked by many nationalists as a fraud, created
to perpetuate the domination of the three countries by the white
supremacists in Southern Rhodesia.
When it was killed in 1963, nobody remembered Mzingeli's opposition to
it. But both Shamuyarira and Lawrence Vambe, my bosses at African
Newspapers, were categorical in acknowledging Mzingeli's role in the early
days of the struggle.
Brought out in the book is Mzingeli's unwillingness to engage in
confrontational politics with the rulers - perhaps his major undoing, in an
era when all over Africa, blood was being shed for freedom.
When I joined African Newspapers in 1957, Mzingeli, though far from
being a political has-been, had been overwhelmed by the radical fervour of
some of his acolytes in the Reformed Industrial and Commercial Union
(RICU) - James Chikerema, George Nyandoro and Paul Mushonga.
They were in the forefront of the formation of the Southern Rhodesia
African National Congress (SRANC), the same year.
Mzingeli's views may still have provided good copy for The African
Daily News. But my regular contact then was Naison Mhlanga, chairman of the
Harare township advisory board, a toothless forerunner of today's city
Mzingeli continued his quest for a participatory role for Africans in
their country. Eventually, the radicals won and the struggle took a violent
turn, a life-and-death struggle for the support of Harare and Highfield
residents between Zapu and Zanu.
In 1963, a few months after I had left the country to work in Northern
Rhodesia, the late John Matowe and I drove from Lusaka to Salisbury to visit
In December 1963, the federation was abandoned. Zimbabwe - unlike
Zambia and Malawi - had no united African political party to take on the
white supremacists and their talk of "dominion status".
The rest is history: there was a 15-year war in which an estimated 40
000 perished. Nobody can say with any certainty if Mzingeli's strategy would
have worked better.
What is certain is that Mzingeli, in this one book, is given his real
due as a catalyst in the struggle.

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Another Agricultural Disaster

Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:25
THE government last week admitted four failures which are going to
contribute to yet another disastrous agricultural season.
MPs last week unanimously supported a motion to declare the food
shortages in the country a national disaster. The move rebuts government's
steadfast refusal to acknowledge inability to meet domestic requirements of
food, in the hope of hiding its culpability.
The Minister of Agriculture, Rugare Gumbo, said they had started
issuing temporary licences to individuals willing to import agricultural
inputs such as fertiliser and maize seed, effectively owning up to a
nationwide shortage of inputs required for the 2008/2009 agricultural
But that kind of admission is unlikely to help efforts to prepare
Zimbabwe to grow enough food for its requirements because it is too late in
the farming season. By the time the inputs are shipped and landed in
Zimbabwe it will be well past the planting period.
Farming inputs should normally be on farms in July or at the latest by
the end of August. The first rains fell last week and the government's
announcement on granting licences is a stark admission that while it was
busy ordering and parading tractors and combine harvesters, it forgot that
seed and fertiliser would be needed.
But it is also a startling revelation that despite its assurances
during past weeks and setting targets of 500 000 hectares for maize in order
to produce two million tonnes, the government was unaware that the country
did not have the necessary inputs. It is especially startling that this
should come after further bungling over the targeted wheat hectarage because
of inadequate inputs and failure to make alternative arrangements for power
supplies to the farmers it encouraged to grow wheat.
The government abuses ordinary hard-working Zimbabweans at every
opportunity. When the new batch of tractors, seed and fertiliser were being
handed out, it was suggested that priority would be given to large-scale
commercial farmers. Now small-scale farmers - the people who in the past
were responsible for producing as much as 60% of the food requirements -
should resort to animal-drawn ploughs and use manure because there is
inadequate draught power and fertiliser.
When the large-scale commercial farmers applied for land, one of the
requirements was that they provide proof of their ability to run such
enterprises using their own resources. Yet the government continues to
spoon-feed people who had declared independent means of sustaining their
farm operations.
The reason why Zimbabwe has a food deficit is because these spoilt
farmers have done nothing to justify the pampering they are getting from the
Even more perplexing is the role of the Maguta/Inala project, promoted
as the military's contribution to feeding the nation. Now there is another
diversionary scheme called Champion Farmers whose operations and target
areas are so secretive that apparently none of the law-makers know about
them. Such is the extent of government's deceit.
The one clear lesson from the government's experiments is that it is
one thing to declare an interest in farming, and quite another to be able to
put the interest into practice. Most of the government-empowered farmers are
waiting for the day they get their title deeds, so that they can sell off
their farms and live happily ever after on the proceeds, because they are
not sure the scheme in its entirety will survive a new political
Since the 2000 disastrously chaotic farm invasions, the government has
provided abundant evidence of breathtaking incompetent planning, which in
part is responsible for the current food shortages that have spawned a
humanitarian crisis that threatens nearly five million Zimbabweans.

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Zim Standard letters

Right Time For Tsvangirai To Walk Away
Saturday, 25 October 2008 20:01
IF President Robert Mugabe is adamant about not giving Morgan
Tsvangirai the stronghold ministries of Finance and Defence, Tsvangirai has
the sanction of the entire electorate to walk away from the talks.
Zanu PF has bludgeoned the economy for the last 28 years and the
desperate party is pleading for  one last chance to grab an open check from
the national budget and share big chunks from the proceeds before they are
For Mugabe to cry for the Ministry of Finance is but to take the
nation for granted because, economy-wise, there is nothing new they can
deliver today, which they have failed to deliver in the last three decades.
It was unsettling to watch the You Tube video posted on Zimdaily on
Saturday October 18 wherein Professor Arthur Mutambara openly asked the West
to step aside and let Africa solve its own crisis. He said the obvious words
spoken by those with hidden skeletons in cupboards.
Mutambara forgot that the West becomes concerned when citizens get
abused by illegitimate governments masquerading as sovereign states. It was
also nauseating to hear him mention that the issue about ministries was
trivial since the government would be inclusive.
Through his bridled and biased speech, he therefore impliedly called
upon everyone to encourage Tsvangirai to accept insignificant ministries
like Gender and that of "Without Portfolio", and letting Zanu PF grab key
ministries in the interests of the starving Zimbabweans.
 I enjoyed his emphasis on "starving Zimbabweans". I wish he had
highlighted the fact that Zanu PF actually caused the mess and should never
be trusted by the electorate to run the government again. The interview was
not only incensing, but also reminded anyone of the usual political rhetoric
that yields nothing and paves way for countless citizens to suffer.
Mutambara's assertion that the issue about allocation of ministries in
the power-sharing deal is trivial is in itself an early warning sign of how
power hungry he could turn out to be. Anyone watching could easily tell how
anxious he was to get on the throne and rule regardless of his entry without
He already seems pro-Zanu PF since he appears like the Jonathan Moyo
calibre. Given his college day hatred for undemocratic principles, everyone
remains shocked on how he now portrays himself as a concerned patriot,
supping with the devil to sympathize with the draconian regime.
Many still wonder to date how Mutambara made it to the table when he
did not even a win the deserving votes for the position. He entered through
the back door. Now he speaks of the West trying to stir some trouble and
catalyzing bickering among the troika in the name of ministries sharing.
The learned Professor forgets that Zanu PF is renowned for its cruelty
and spendthrift habits. If the Ministry of Finance is left in the hands of
Gideon Gono, surely that's a big joke given the history of his prodigality.
The West, the World Bank and IMF can't be blindfolded and tricked to fund
any project in Zimbabwe if the economy is to continue to be driven by drunk
drivers and losers  and Zanu PF spendthrifts.
That would be an open check to get into town to shop for the last
Christmas. It's common knowledge that Zanu PF is in the departure lounge. To
trust that ruthless and carefree party with funds is simply to encourage
them to squirrel away millions of money into personal pockets of the Zanu PF
thugs who must utilize the very last opportunity and grab the last loot for
personal gain. They must do so and grab the last big chunks to cushion their
lives before the final whistle.
This is an urgent matter and their current motto now is: "It's now or
never." That being the fact, Tsvangirai must remain resolute, hold tight on
finance and keep the West updated about any move. The talk about being a
West stooge is neither here nor there. African leadership is famous for
incompetence. If all was well, surely who would try to unseat a just and
democratic government?
We are almost approaching the end of the year and Zanu PF is still in
power despite the dreary loss of elections in March. Water treatment
chemicals, food, fuel, medicines and major basics continue to be in short
supply. Mugabe and his men continue to feast and celebrate as the country is
bleeding. Why should Mugabe hold the nation to ransom and refusing to hand
over the requests of the electorate submitted through Tsvangirai?
Why should Mugabe call the shots when we did not give the  mandate to
do so? Why should Tsvangirai be playing the loser when he is in fact the one
who won the elections? Why should the terms be subject to the pleasure of
Zanu PF and Mutambara?
By walking away, Tsvangirai will send the right message to the world.
He will dissociate himself from power-hungry dictators who are hoping to
have their cake and eat it. Through open protest, Zanu PF will be deemed
illegitimate by the world and will be dealt with accordingly as a
full-fledged dictatorship. The time to walk away is now.
If Mugabe continues to be arrogant and unconcerned with the plight of
the citizens, it's about time Tsvangirai walked out. That will send a clear
message to Mugabe and the world. If these talks cannot yield immediate
results, surely it's about time Tsvangirai returns to the electorate to
communicate his stance.

Matabeleland North

Misguided Racism
Saturday, 25 October 2008 20:00
RECENTLY an educated friend of mine accused MDC and its leadership for
holding the country to ransom.

I thought he was joking until he started ranting on and on about the
need to "tell people. . .the importance of not trusting whites. . . and how
racist Europe is and. . .the British. . . and so on". How hard it was to get
his PhD under white supervisors.

Surely, those in the Diaspora after waking up to cereals, bacon and
egg breakfasts, should know that Zimbabwe and those in the thick of things
right now are not interested in the racism out there. They are preoccupied
with survival and the need live another minute!

Please if you have had a bad experience with some whites do not take
it out on innocent, hungry and angry Zimbabweans. We deserve better, respect
and prosperity.

To my friend, do not forget to link education, knowledge and wisdom to
become a wise man with a wealth of knowledge and care.


Fear Of The Unknown
Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:59
THE reason why Zanu PF does not want to give up Home Affairs even
after having a monopoly over it for 28 years is so they can continue to
abuse it in the manner we saw with Morgan Tsvangirai's passport, which
resulted in his failure to travel to Swaziland for the Sadc troika meeting.
Zanu PF is afraid that if someone else has the Ministry of Home
Affairs, they could be as vindictive as they have been over the years, in
arresting opposition politicians and their supporters on spurious grounds,
lawyers, judges and trade unionists, and banning rallies or marches
organised by anyone who does not belong to Zanu PF.
They are also afraid that anyone in charge of the ministry would,
driven by vengeance, conduct a vendetta against those responsible for so
much suffering at the hands of the government. The list is very long.
What is intriguing is that PF Zapu would want to claim that the
Ministry of Home Affairs is theirs. So by extension they are admitting that
PF Zapu, which should understand what it is to be a victim of the state
abuses, has been at the forefront of persecuting anyone who is suspected of
being a member or supports the opposition?

Tirivanhu Mhofu
Emerald Hill

Zim Needs Fewer Ministries
Saturday, 25 October 2008 19:58
SEVEN months after the properly contested presidential election
Zimbabwe still awaits an appropriately constituted government.

Since then a very flawed agreement of sorts was cobbled together but
is yet to launch because of the sticking point of sharing cabinet posts.
What defies all logic is that the politicians are clearly unconcerned
by the plight of the people they claim to represent.  At the moment, all
they seem concerned about is who gets what ministry - and what a massive
cake they are fighting over!
It is highly irresponsible if not hypocritical to haggle for a share
of the ministries without having the courage or decency to question the size
of the proposed cabinet.  The whole world is in financial melt-down and our
own country has been very broke for the past eight years, if not longer.
How, therefore, can we justify even considering a 31-member cabinet with all
the trappings of brand new posh cars and free fuel, subsidised housing and
allowances for telephone and domestic workers and  numerous other perks?
Add to this, 20 deputy ministers and permanent secretaries.  Never
mind that the proposed government is so grossly top heavy with a president
and his two deputies, as well as a prime minister and his deputy - they may
as well each double as a ministers to justify the expense.
Zimbabwe is broke and there is this deluded belief that foreign donors
are just waiting with open cheques to fund the lavish lifestyle that our
government has become accustomed to.
On the contrary the donors look on in shock at the tragedy that
continues to play out in our crumbling country.   They have a responsibility
to their tax payers and obviously need to justify why they should finance
any country that chooses to have a cabinet bigger than their own.  How many
of us have at some time stopped giving money to a relative because instead
of feeding his family he uses the money to buy alcohol and cigarettes?
There is no doubt that the size of the proposed cabinet will certainly
push our country deeper into the economic wilderness in which we have been
wondering for years now. To the average Zimbabwean, the purpose and mandate
of this weird creature called government of national unity is simply to end
the cycle of poverty and starvation by bringing back economic stability,
government accountability and put together a meaningful constitution.
Instead, there is a preoccupation with politics of appeasement and reward -
hence so many ministries, designed to ensure that as many as possible senior
politicians from each party are appropriately rewarded and therefore
Zimbabwe is a small poor country and should have no more than 13
ministries as follows:
Agriculture, Defence, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Justice &
Parliamentary Affairs (+Constitutional Affairs) Home Affairs, Health & Child
Welfare, Public Service, Labour & Social services, Education, Local
Government & Public Works, Industry & Commerce (+Department of Mines;
Department of Tourism) Energy and Water Resources, Transport & Communication
(+Department of Information).
If this government of national unity seriously thinks that it requires
31 ministries in order to function, then we have failed to break the cycle
of bad governance and we are in very serious trouble.

Andrew Mutandwa

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