October 2, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - The announcement of the unilateral appointment of new board members
for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and other statutory bodies
by the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity represents yet another
threat to the spirit and letter of the inclusive government, the MDC said.
The Minister of Media and Information, Webster Shamu made a surprise
announcement of new appointments to the boards of all government-controlled
media establishments, including Zimbabwe Newspapers and Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings, through which the government effectively controls the
dissemination of information to the public.
The statement says particularly ominous is the appointment by Shamu of many
retired members of the military, nearly all with no known previous links to
the media. The appointments appear to have been made without consulting
Zanu-PF's two MDC partners in the government of national unity (GNU).
"Information Minister Webster Shamu has simply usurped the powers of
Parliament which had begun to constitute independent commissions and bodies,
including the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC said in a statement released Friday. "He has become
the implementing arm of a shameful and sinister Zanu-PF agenda to populate
strategic national institutions with Zanu PF apologists.
"The biggest threat to democracy is not only the unilateral appointments,
but the unilateral decision to recycle a celebrated media hangman such as
Tafataona Mahoso by making him chairman of BAZ. The media graveyard has five
newspapers and two radio stations which Mahoso banned, closed or were bombed
during his tenure as chairman of the Media and Information Commission."
While the MDC has focused on the appointments to BAZ and Mahoso, in
particular, in practical terms it is the boards of Zimpapers and the ZBH,
which the two organisations that shoulder the burden of disseminating
government's propaganda, that are crucial. No less than the former Principal
Secretary to the President and Cabinet has been appointed chairman of the
board of Zimpapers. His board will preside over a string of influential
newspapers that are controlled by the government.
The government is clearly tightening screws on the media ahead of elections
in 2011 at a time when independent newspapers such as the once popular Daily
News remain unregistered and, therefore, inoperative.
"Mahoso failed dismally during the interviews to select members of the
Zimbabwe Media Commission," the MDC statement said. "Zanu-PF's penchant to
reward failure is well recorded, but this time they have chosen to beat
their own record. Mahoso's legacy at the MIC makes a loud statement that he
is unfit to head a strategic national institution in the new dispensation of
inclusivity and tolerance.
"Yesterday's enemies of press freedom cannot be today's allies of a plural
and diverse media which Zimbabweans want. Sunset characters cannot be part
of the new dawn of democracy and media freedom."
Shamu had appointed nine members from the military into six statutory
bodies, the statement says. This militarisation of civilian institutions
sent wrong and dangerous signals nationally, regionally and in the broader
"Soldiers are square pegs in a round hole when they are appointed into
civilian bodies such as the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe or the board
of directors of Kingstons. The best place for our gallant sons and daughters
who save as soldiers is in military barracks, not the boardroom of a civic
The MDC says Shamu's new appointments are, therefore, a threat to the
inclusive government and the GPA.
"They represent everything that is wrong with the inclusive government where
one party is hell-bent on betraying its own signature by failing to adhere
to agreements and common sense," the statement says.
"Zimbabweans want real change. They do not deserve the recycling of old
characters with a perforated past and a chequered history such as Tafataona
Mahoso. They want hope, democracy, prosperity, freedom, dignity, security."
By Tichaona Sibanda
2 October 2009
The formation of the inclusive government led many to believe the country
was moving towards greater openness and democracy.
But Thursday's appointment of new board members to parastatals under the
Information and Publicity Ministry now clearly indicates that the space for
divergent political views in Zimbabwe will further shrink under Minister
Webster Shamu's watch.
Veteran journalist Makusha Mugabe said by appointing eight retired military
officials to the parastatal boards, Shamu was allowing the military to take
on civilian functions that were previously off-limits. The parastatal boards
that Shamu has filled with former soldiers are; the Broadcasting Authority
of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), Zimbabwe Newspapers
Group, New Ziana, Transmedia and Kingstons.
'The military now has more of a role in the information and publicity
ministry than before. This is yet another indication that Shamu poses a
growing threat to media reforms in the country,' Makusha Mugabe said.
Analysts say the military has in the last decade expanded and consolidated
its position in both the politics and the economy of the country. The army
now virtually controls the major institutions of the state and formal policy
making structures and processes of the country.
Journalists interviewed by SW Radio Africa said the most important challenge
for the country's inclusive government was how it deals with the military in
the whole quest for political and economic reforms and stabilisation.
'If we learn anything from history, it should be that bad times always
return. On Thursday, we saw the anti-democratic trend returning to haunt
pro-democracy forces,' George Deda, an exiled Zimbabwean journalist said.
He added that the military is now deeply engrained in the political and
economical affairs of the country that the appointments are completely
retrogressive, after the slight hope that the unity government had brought.
The MDC on Friday released a statement castigating the appointments. They
said the militarisation of civilian institutions sends wrong and dangerous
signals nationally, regionally and in the broader international community.
'The best place for our gallant sons and daughters who serve as soldiers is
in military barracks, not the boardroom of a civic national body,' the MDC
But the Joint Operations Command (a group of army, police, prisons and the
Central Intelligence Organisation heads) meets regularly to coordinate
military and security affairs and serving and retired military and other
security officials have come to direct all key national and governance
issues, rather than the cabinet.
Since 2002 the military has consistently threatened to veto any poll result
that goes against its preferred candidate Robert Mugabe, using the argument
that any other result would be a reversal of the gains of liberation. Shamu's
appointment of the new media board members is yet another giant step back
By Violet Gonda
2 October 2009
The Deputy Minister of Information, Jameson Timba, has said the media board
appointments made by Minister Webster Shamu don't demonstrate the
seriousness that is required to move the country forward.
Shamu announced on Wednesday the names of the individuals, mostly ZANU PF
apologists, CIOs and military personnel, who will sit on the media boards
for the six parastatals under his ministry. The MDC Deputy Minister told SW
Radio Africa that he was not consulted and only heard about the appointments
when they were announced on state television Wednesday evening.
Timba said the appointments, especially for the Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (BAZ) and the Zimpapers boards, are unlawful and unprocedural and
are a threat to the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement.
"From a legal point of view I have great difficulties with the appointment
of the board of Zimpapers. It is my view that the appointment of the board
of Zimpapers by the minister of media is unlawful. There is no one, in my
view, with lawful authority within this government, to appoint the board of
Zimpapers because the government of this country does not own that public
The Deputy Minister pointed out there are also procedural and legal issues
around the suitability of the BAZ board, saying the appointments are
governed by the Broadcasting Services Act as well as constitutional
amendment 19. He said: "I am not convinced that the procedures and processes
required by these two legal instruments were followed to the letter and
spirit. Therefore their validity is in question."
Timba said these latest developments are a threat to the stability of the
new government. His sentiments were also echoed by the MDC party who issued
a statement on Friday saying: "Shamu's unilateral appointments are a threat
to the inclusive government."
According to the MDC, the Minister simply usurped the powers of Parliament
which had begun to constitute independent commissions and bodies, including
the broadcasting authority. "He has become the implementing arm of a
shameful and sinister Zanu PF agenda to populate strategic national
institutions with Zanu PF apologists," read the statement.
One of those recycled is Dr Tafataona Mahoso, the media 'hangman' who had a
chequered history of terrorising journalists and shutting down newspapers,
when he was chairman of the now defunct Media and Information Commission. He
is now the new the BAZ chairman.
The MDC said: "Mahoso's legacy at the MIC makes a loud statement that he is
unfit to head a strategic national institution in the new dispensation of
inclusivity and tolerance. Yesterday's enemies of press freedom cannot be
today's allies of a plural and diverse media which Zimbabweans want. Sunset
characters cannot be part of the new dawn of democracy and media freedom."
All of the six statutory bodies are also disturbingly littered with retired
army generals, a move seen as the militarisation of civilian institutions.
One of them is Retired Major General Gibson Mashingaidze, who is linked to
violence. He was allegedly deployed to Masvingo province last year to 'force'
people to the polling stations to vote for Mugabe.
Media watchdogs MISA-Zimbabwe and the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe
say the appointments are a clear indication, showing that ZANU PF has no
intention of media reform.
The MDC also said: "Soldiers are square pegs in a round hole when they are
appointed into civilian bodies such as the Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe or the board of directors of Kingstons. The best place for our
gallant sons and daughters who save as soldiers is in military barracks, not
the boardroom of a civic national body."
When asked what he was going to do about this issue, as the Deputy Minister,
and whether these appointments can be reversed, Timba merely said he will
raise the issues with the relevant authorities in government.
October 02 2009 , 11:54:00
Thulasizwe Simelane; Zimbabwe
An educational crisis has been averted in Zimbabwe following last
night's decision by government to extended loans to learners who had failed
to pay for their public examination fees.
More than half the learners in the country failed to pay the fees,
triggering a national outcry that prompted the intervention of Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai says government will ensure that
every learner scheduled to write public examinations this year does so
despite failure to pay examination fees. About half of the learners due to
write the examinations in the country have failed to pay the fees as
economic hardship persist.
The Education Ministry estimates that about 40% of learners failed to
meet the September the 25 deadline for payment. Exam fees are pegged at more
than R70 per 'O' level, and more than R140 per 'A' level subject. However,
many parents cannot afford the fees. Last year's O and A levels exams were a
complete shambles, with results delays plunging learners into uncertainty
well into the beginning of this year.
The chaos capped what's widely considered a wasted academic year,
which saw most schools remaining shut for most of 2008. This is largely due
to disruptions resulting from the political tension and violence that
characterised the two general elections, teachers' strikes and cholera. UN
agency UNICEF recently expressed grave concern over the plight of children
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe's farmers have warned of a "looming disaster"
as a funding crisis threatens to drastically slash agricultural output
during the forthcoming farming season and condemn the country to another
year as a net food importer, APA has learnt here.
The Commercial Farmers Union, which represents the mainly white large-scale
growers, on Thursday said its members were struggling to access funding from
the banking sector and were largely unprepared for the 2009/10 farming
season due to start at the end of October.
The farmers blamed the cash crunch on the decision by the new coalition
government to adopt a basket of multiple currencies that replaced the
worthless Zimbabwe dollar as legal tender.
The situation has been compounded by the inability of the new government to
win international financial injections which would have created liquidity
within the domestic banking sector to enable banks to lend to farmers.
Problems for the large-scale farmers are also worsened by the fact that they
cannot access facilities run by non-governmental organisations and
multilateral organisations like the World Bank which donate farm inputs to
The lack of funds has seen farmers planting just over 20 percent of their
normal hectarage, an unhealthy scenario for a country where agriculture is
the backbone of the rest of the economic sectors.
By Lance Guma
02 October 2009
Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary Tomaz
Salomão has told Newsreel that the group's troika, which is meant to deal
with outstanding issues in Zimbabwe's unity government, is still consulting
on a suitable date to meet. The leaders of Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia
form the current troika, which is chaired by Mozambican President Armando
It's over a month since the DRC SADC summit agreed to refer all outstanding
issues to the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security
Co-operation. Responding to our questions on the delay in dealing with
complaints raised by the MDC against ZANU PF, Dr. Salomão said 'the parties
involved would be consulting in October and have to agree on a date.'
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa confirmed to Newsreel that they had already
written a letter requesting urgent action on the matter. He however said
they would not 'frog-march' the regional grouping into setting up any dates
but were simply emphasizing the urgency of the matters to be resolved. He
said the country could not move forward as long as it had issues that
undermined the coalition. Chamisa added that the issues they were raising
were not new ones but were part of things they agreed with ZANU PF in the
The MDC are not happy with Mugabe's unilateral appointment of the Reserve
Bank governor and Attorney General, despite the unity agreement making it
clear such appointments have to be made with the consent of all parties. MDC
nominated provincial governors and ambassadors have still not been appointed
while Mugabe continues to refuse to swear in MDC treasurer Roy Bennett as
Deputy Agriculture Minister. ZANU PF has even tried to tamper with the
mandates of several ministries, including attempts to hive off the
telecommunications sector from an MDC controlled ministry.
Analysts say the composition of the SADC troika does not hold out much hope
for the MDC. King Mswati of Swaziland has previously traveled to Zimbabwe
and been a guest at Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono's farm. Fears abound
that this will affect his neutrality in dealing with an issue that involves
Gono. Even though Mozambican President Guebuza succeeded Mugabe's best
friend Joachim Chissano, the country's leadership has maintained strong ties
with ZANU PF. Zambia remains an unknown quantity in the equation.
Newsreel is reliably informed South African President Jacob Zuma will
continue to be involved in the discussions, since his country is the main
power in the region that guaranteed the deal.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AFP) - Zimbabwe's former information minister, reputed to
be the mastermind behind Zimbabwe's harsh media laws, has rejoined President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, the party said Friday.
Jonathan Moyo, currently Zimbabwe's sole independent lawmaker, had been
welcomed back into the fold, said Ephraim Masawi, ZANU-PF spokesman.
"The politburo considered the application by professor Jonathan Moyo to
rejoin ZANU-PF which was unanimously endorsed," Masawi told a news
Moyo is the only independent MP in Zimbabwe's 210-seat parliament where
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
a razor-thin edge with 100 lawmakers to ZANU-PF's 99. A breakaway MDC
faction holds 10 seats.
He is blamed by critics for crafting Zimbabwe's tough media laws that saw
several private newspapers fold during his tenure as information minister.
Moyo quit ZANU-PF after falling out with Mugabe and ZANU-PF in 2005 after
opting to contest as an independent candidate in parliamentary elections.
Zimbabwe formed a unity government in February joining Mugabe's ZANU-PF and
Published: October 2, 2009
SOMERSET WEST, South Africa (Reuters) - Zimbabwe is on track to draw up a
new constitution, the head of regional body SADC's parliamentary forum said
on Friday, but he did not say when the charter is expected to be adopted.
The form the new constitution should take is a major bone of contention
between rival parties in the unity government.
In July riot police had to break up clashes between delegates attending a
constitutional convention -- a sign of the tensions between President Robert
Mugabe and his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zimbabweans hope a new charter, replacing one drawn up in 1979 before
independence from Britain, will strengthen the role of parliament, curtail
the president's powers and guarantee civil, political and media freedom as
the country tries to rebuild its ruined economy.
"I am very confident that Zimbabwe will come out with an answer to the
problems of Zimbabwe, including the constitutional dispensation," Prince
Guduza Dlamini, president of the Southern African Development Community's
(SADC) parliamentary forum, told Reuters.
Dlamini was speaking on the sidelines of the opening session of the two-day
conference of the Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa
(AWEPA), taking place about 40 km (25 miles) north of Cape Town.
Dlamini did not say when the SADC, which helped broker the formation of
Zimbabwe's unity government, wanted a new constitution to be completed.
The convention in July was part of a process which should lead to the
adoption of a new constitution and to elections in about two years.
Many Western countries want the constitution adopted and reforms to get
under way before they will provide billions of dollars in aid to help
rebuild Zimbabwe, and Dlamini said the charter could have a positive impact
on Zimbabwe's neighbours.
"We are all interdependent, so if country X is having problems, those
problems are going to filter through to some of the member countries. If we
are able to live up to the expectations of the community (SADC), we believe
we will develop together," said Dlamini, also the Speaker of Swaziland's
Dlamini said an SADC delegation visted Zimbabwe last month on a fact-finding
mission and the SADC parliamentary forum would hold its next plenary meeting
in Zimbabwe sometime in October.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf, editing by Tim Pearce)
THE COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION OF ZIMBABWE - RESPONSE TO MINISTER MURERWA'S
MEMORANDUM TO CABINET DATED 27th AUGUST 2009.
01 OCTBER 2009
The CFU has noted with alarm a document now widely circulated in the Press
which has been referred to as "the Secret Document". It appears to be a
Memorandum to cabinet issued by the Minister of Lands and Rural
Resettlement, Herbert Murerwa on the 27th of August, 2009. We have asked
Government to comment on the validity of this document but to date have
received no response.
In short the content of the document does everything needed to confirm the
unjust, corrupt and unsustainable position in which the commercial
agricultural sub sector now finds itself as a result of the lack of
transparency associated with the Land Reform Programme. The recommendations
contained in the document are as follows:
"11.1 Land acquisition and redistribution is an ongoing process which should
continue given the incremental demand for land. Therefore Government should
continue to acquire land as provided for in the Constitution.
11.2 No foreigner should be allowed to own rural agricultural land in
11.3 Agricultural land should be excluded from protection afforded by
Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements.
11.4 The Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement should continue issuing
offer letters, leases and permits to deserving Zimbabwean Nationals.
11.5 The A2 beneficiaries who hold offer letters must be given occupation of
the farms allocated to them. Prosecution of farmers resisting to move off
the acquired land should be expedited.
The above recommendations are submitted for Cabinet approval."
If this document is genuine, our chief concern is whether or not the
Government of Zimbabwe realises the desperate need to attract foreign
investment or to stabilise the agricultural industry. These recommendations
fly in the face of property rights and investor confidence. Bilateral
Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements could be rendered useless and
irrelevant. It would appear that Government's genuine and private position
vis-a-vis Investor Confidence do not accord with Public Statements made at
the various Investor Conferences and the Mining Indaba held recently. This
action would have far reaching adverse effects on all other investments in
many other fields including for example mining and tourism. How will foreign
Investment be attracted if these policies are allowed to prevail?
Furthermore, the document accepts the lack of legal framework with regard to
offer letters. There is nothing in our law which allows the Minister to
unilaterally offer land to whomsoever he or she chooses. This does not
accord with accepted legal norms. "Offer letters" are issued in terms of the
Agricultural Land Settlement Act and merely serve as a pre-cursor to the
issuance of a Lease for State Land. Section 7 of the Agricultural Land
Settlement Act requires that the Minister consider a report on applications
for State Land from the Agricultural Land Settlement board. Government has
consistently ignored this provision when issuing Offer Letters.
The validity of all "Offer Letters" is as a consequence questionable.
Therefore, farmers who "resist" do so because they feel they have genuine
grounds. In most instances the affected farmers have voluntarily downsized
their properties without receipt (or offer) of compensation, and have
concentrated their efforts to maximise production on the smaller area. They
must be afforded the opportunity to enforce their legal rights.
Whilst we have not had an opportunity to do a comprehensive detailed study
of the document we have noted from an initial reading many glaring errors.
Moreover, the data by the documents own admission states the position as at
October 2007. It is disturbing that cabinet is being asked to consider these
recommendations based on outdated and inaccurate data.
It is our contention that the attitude and spirit of the document intends to
violate the terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Government
continues to insist that Land Reform has empowered the Zimbabwean people. It
appears from the document that Government also insists that Land Reform
continue albeit to the detriment of our members.
We ask who has really been empowered by this process. We submit that unless
there is complete transparency in all the procedures surrounding Land Reform
then those criticisms and accusations we have heard that "Land Reform is an
illegitimate and fake process consolidating a system of political patronage
where the political elite have benefited..." will only be regarded as true
and taken very seriously by all stakeholders.
We stress and reiterate that the CFU and its members have never been opposed
to legitimate and fair Land Reform. All we ask is that our members as
farmers from all walks of life be included in the process and allowed to use
their skills for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe.
Therefore, on behalf of our members we beseech the Inclusive Government to
adhere to the terms of the GPA which the document in question allegedly
intends to violate. In particular we ask that in terms of Article 5.9 of the
GPA that a:
(a) ...comprehensive, transparent and non partisan land audit, during the
tenure of the 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe, for the purpose of establishing
accountability and eliminating multiple farm ownerships,
(b) Ensure that all Zimbabweans who are eligible to be allocated land and
who apply for it shall be considered for the allocation of land irrespective
of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or political affiliation,
(c) Ensure security of Tenure to all land holders..."
50 families are facing eviction from Carse farm, 20 km from Bindura town.
Ruston Ngandu who took over Carse farm wants the 50 families off the farm as
he deems that their presence is disturbing his farming activities.
Magistrate Chakanyuka heard the case at the Bindura magistrate courts on the
28th of September and deferred ruling to the 9th of October.
The 50 families, whose lives are hanging by the line and face the likelihood
of becoming destitute if evicted, are being represented by Human Rights
Defenders Lawyers Bonongwe and Partners.
Douglas Ruwihi spoke with ROHR Zimbabwe and believes that their eviction
case is politically motivated as Ruston Ngandu is punishing them for being
supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change. Mr.Ruwihi told ROHR
Zimbabwe that since 2002 when the farm was taken from a Robert Kascoe, they
have been going through hell. Their homes were burnt during the infamous
Operation Murambatsvina in 2002 and they have been experiencing a series of
intimidation and attacks aimed at frustrating them to leave the place that
they have known as home their entire lives. 'Our lives will be destroyed if
the court rules in favor of Ngandu. We have lived here all our lives and we
have nowhere to go.
Our fathers came from Malawi and Mozambique' said Douglas Ruwihi.
Margaret Mukunga from the same group said they have resorted to sleeping at
the grave yard at night as a way of escaping victimization by their new farm
occupier. Their roofless houses are no longer safe for human inhabiting as
they are exposed to colds and mosquitoes at night. She expressed fears of
contracting malaria from mosquito bites.
Margaret Mukunga told ROHR Zimbabwe that over 200 children at the farm are
not going to school as the parents are finding it hard to source income; the
only little money they are getting is going towards the payment of legal
fees. So far they have paid a total of US 1900 legal fees through selling
maize, brewing and selling beer.
Magistrate Chakanyuka is expected to deliver a ruling today in a case in
which former mayor of Bindura Webster Bepura is seeking the ouster of 26
families from Foothills farm, 15 km from Bindura along Matepatepa road. The
26 families are being represented by Bonongwe and partners under the Human
Rights Defenders program which is aimed at providing legal assistance for
the vulnerable citizens who find themselves unable to defend their
constitutional and fundamental human rights.
Speaking on behalf of the 26 families, Luckmore Langton says hell broke
loose when they participated in the 2008 harmonized elections as voting
agents for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).Since then they have
been targeted in a crack down on supporters of the MDC.
Langton has lived at Foothills farm since 1986 and he accuses the former
mayor of Bindura, Webster Bepura of destroying their homes, property,
livelihoods and barring them from carrying out small scale gardens on the
farm which are their sole source of income. He bemoans the life that they
are now living compared to how they lived before the farm was taken away
from David Baiely in 2002.
He says they used to afford school fees and transport to send their children
to school 11km away but now they can only struggle to send the children as
far as grade seven from their US $10 monthly earning.
There is no water and electricity at the nearby school and clinic which
leaves high fears of a cholera outbreak looming.
Mean while, a war veteran, Jacob Chiripanyanga is also evicting Lazarus
Marunga, Lainos Zakeo, Gift Mhembere and Fanuel Musona. This follows an
incident this month in which the four were assaulted and had their homes
destroyed when they were attached by a group of ZANU PF youth in the company
of Jacob Chiripanyanga.
ROHR Zimbabwe's Position on the eviction of farm workers
We note with grave concern that the plight of farm workers in the hands of
the new farm settlers has gone unnoticed by the law enforcement authorities.
Farm workers throughout the country have suffered immense human rights
violations ranging from denial to the right to a decent shelter, food, state
protection, clean water, right to education and right to decent standards of
living under the continued farm evasions.
It is deplorable that the new farm settlers have resorted to illegal
systematic violent intimidation campaigns that are aimed at frustrating farm
workers and force them away from their homes. For the eviction battles to
end up in the courts, the farm workers would have shown resistance to the
illegal eviction often characterized by inhuman and degrading frustrating
The acts of impunity against farm workers have mainly been instigated on
political grounds by ZANU PF supporters and youth militia as punishment to
those deemed to be affiliated to the MDC in the form of organized violence,
destruction of property and livelihoods.
AS ROHR Zimbabwe it is our principled position that farm workers like any
other citizens of Zimbabwe, have alienable fundamental human rights that are
inherent to the human family upon birth as guaranteed under the Zimbabwean
Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Bill of Rights
and the African Charter on People's Rights and Freedoms.
The ministry of Home Affairs should therefore launch an investigation in the
welfare surrounding the handling of farm workers in all the farms where
there has been transition from one owner to the other. The core ministers of
the home affairs ministry Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa should discourage
the police from assuming partisan roles and stick to ethical and
professional duties when handling cases that are politically motivated
involving the eviction of vulnerable farm workers.
Understanding what the national healing seeks to achieve, it is our view
that the ongoing victimization of farm workers is an anathema to finding
lasting peace among communities from the March-June 2008 painful legacy. The
three political parties under the coalition government should therefore take
heed of the agreements they made under the Global Political Agreement to
guarantee the rule of law, respect for human rights and providing
prerequisite friendly conditions for a democratic society for people to
freely express, associate and engage in political activities without fear of
The coalition government should also make frantic efforts to destabilize the
infrastructure of organized violence which is still prevalent in the rural
areas across the country's ten provinces. It is our humble view that people
will not open up to independent and developmental contributions to the
constitution making process and to the national healing exercise in the
presence of the infrastructure of violence which manifested during last year's
bloody election violence in which more than 200 people were killed.
For Peace, Justice and Freedom
Posted By Alex Magaisa on 2 Oct, 2009 at 1:11
AN OLD colleague sent me an email on Monday afternoon.
“Maionaka Rule of Law yamunoswero chemera anaMagaisa?” (Do you see the Rule
of Law that you always ask for?).
“Ndiyoka Rule of Law yacho iyi?” (This is the Rule of Law), he declared
He was of course, referring to the decision pronounced earlier that day by
the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe to grant a permanent stay of prosecution in
favour of Jestina Mukoko.
The story of Mukoko is not new to followers of the Zimbabwe story.
Mukoko, a human rights activist, was abducted, kept in unlawful custody and
subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of state agents.
Many other activists (including a toddler and an elderly gentleman) suffered
a similar fate.
In its decision, the Supreme Court confirmed that several of Mukoko’s
constitutional rights had been violated. These included the right to
personal liberty (Section 13 of the constitution), the freedom against
inhuman and degrading treatment (Section 15) and the right to the protection
of the law (Section 18). These rights are guaranteed to every individual
under the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Flawed as it may be, the constitution
does provide for the protection of these fundamental rights.
“I’m happy for Jestina,” I wrote to my colleague. “I’m happy that this
unnecessary and heavy load has been shifted from her shoulders by the
But I added that the court had no other choice. It was clear from the start
that the manner in which Mukoko had been treated violated every law and
principle - written or unwritten; that indeed, her treatment was a brutal
assault on the nation’s conscience. It did not even require the law to set
her free. “Common sense,” I wrote, “required that she be set free”. Anything
else would have meant a huge embarrassment for our main court.
As for the Rule of Law, I thought my colleague had been too hasty in his
conclusion. The result of the case has gone some way towards salvaging the
reputation of our judiciary. Nevertheless, there is more to the Rule of Law
than a single positive decision, however monumental it appears. There are
some observations to be made in this regard:
First, it has taken more than nine months to decide a matter that involved a
clear and obvious breach of a citizen’s fundamental rights. The court
rightly found that these rights had been violated. If individual rights are
to mean anything in reality, it is important that they be protected upfront
or at the very least without undue delay.
What we have here is a decision which acknowledges that there were
violations of these rights. Yet, from day one the courts were approached by
Mukoko’s lawyers. They tried everything to ensure that there was a cessation
of the violations of Mukoko’s rights. Yet, as I wrote at the time, Mukoko
and her lawyers were subjected to what were in effect bungee-jumps in the
justice system - a high speed and chaotic roller-coaster as they moved from
one court to another, to no avail.
The point is: there was a chance to stop these unlawful acts against Mukoko
but those opportunities were not taken when it mattered most.
Constitutionally guaranteed rights can only make sense when they are
actively safeguarded from violation in the first place. What good is a right
when it is violated and the protection of the law is not given when asked
for? Mukoko could well have suffered worse consequences during the period of
her unlawful custody. She could have contracted disease; she could have
disappeared forever, indeed, she could have died.
This case demonstrates how important it is for the courts to play an active
role in the protection of constitutionally guaranteed rights. What the
Supreme Court has found is not new. In a key but largely unreported
judgment, Justice Hungwe of the High Court had already made similar
observations, chiding the state agents for their conduct. This was known and
it could have been stooped ages ago.
Second, if there is to be effective deterrence against similar conduct in
future, surely those who presided over the violation of Mukoko’s rights as
found by the highest court in the land, should feel the hand of the law.
There should be a clear message that those who commit such actions against
other citizens should not be beyond the law. The reason why people act with
impunity, as they did to Mukoko and others in her situation, is that they
know that they will escape the legal consequences of their actions.
As it is, whilst there are celebrations in light of the judgment, it is easy
to forget that there is absolutely nothing to stop the same or similar
people from taking the same actions against Mukoko and others now or in the
future. In other words, she or someone else could well be abducted and
subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment just as it happened in December
last year. One way to deter such conduct is to place legal responsibility
upon the shoulders of the perpetrators of these hideous acts.
This, therefore, presents a key challenge to one of the most disputed
offices in Zimbabwe - the Attorney-General’s Office. How will the incumbent,
Johannes Tomana handle this one? The highest court in the land has found
conclusively that Mukoko’s rights were violated. They were not violated by
objects from outer space. These actions were taken by Zimbabweans who
presumably are known. There is a key witness, Mukoko herself. Ideally, one
would think that this is a case where the Attorney General, the most senior
state lawyer entrusted with powers to prosecute criminals would have taken
swift action to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book.
Section 76 (4a) of the Constitution empowers the Attorney General to require
the Commissioner General of Police to commence investigations in matters
where in the Attorney General’s opinion relate to any alleged/suspected
criminal offence. The Commissioner General is peremptorily required to
comply with that instruction. So the powers are there but whether or not
they are invoked is another matter but one that surely tests very severely
the commitment of the prosecuting authorities to the Rule of Law.
Indeed, if the alleged theft of a cell-phone caused the hand of the law to
move so swiftly in the case of Thamsanqa Mahlangu, one would expect that the
serious violation of constitutional rights as found by the country’s biggest
court would be enough to cause that hand of the law to move at twice the
speed, if not more.
There is another issue in relation to a number of other persons who suffered
the same fate as Mukoko. I am advised that these persons were not co-parties
to the application by Mukoko. This means the decision directly affects
Mukoko but not the others, whose cases remain pending before the High Court.
If my understanding is correct, this means these individual cases must be
dealt with by the Supreme Court before a stay of prosecution can be granted.
I am not sure why the cases were not joined with that of Mukoko but I
suppose there were practical reasons for the approach taken. In any event,
Mukoko’s case is now a firm precedent which should apply to all these cases.
Given this scenario, you would think that the prosecution authorities would
see sense and withdraw the charges. Certainly, the AG’s office should be
considering this very seriously if only to avoid further embarrassment.
More importantly, where a Supreme Court has made such an important decision
implicating agents of the state, you would expect normal standards of
professionalism and decency to prevail amongst those in charge of those
state agents. Surely, there can be no worse or more serious an indictment
against responsible authorities than a decision by the highest court in the
land which demonstrates impunity on the part of those organs.
In any normal system, heads of those state organs would have been too
embarrassed to remain in office. They would tender their resignations for
failing to keep proper watch of their charges. In other words, they would
take responsibility seriously. And if they don’t have the decency to do so,
their superiors would kindly ask them to resign.
When I explained this to my colleague, he said rather dismissively,
‘Urikurota, wangu” (You are dreaming, my friend). Of course, I understood
him well because unfortunately, he could well be right. But I said to him,
“The Rule of Law is not an event. It is a culture. You can’t hold it in your
hands; you can’t see it with the naked eye. But you can feel its presence;
it is measured by the conduct and attitudes of the human being.”
It doesn’t escape some of us that in the past, some major Supreme Court
decisions have been crudely circumvented through executive and legislative
decisions. One hopes that’s a thing of the past.
Finally, of course the decision was welcome news to some of us who despite
our misgivings, maintain a strong desire to see the country get back on its
feet. We have seen from experience that it is very hard to sell Zimbabwe
when there are so many negatives around.
♦ Last week my colleagues and I who belong to a young organisation called
the Zimbabwe Diaspora Development Interface (ZDDI) hosted a conference on
investment, development and migration in Zimbabwe. It was a beautiful event
at which I was pleasantly surprised by the will and commitment of fellow
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to play a role in the reconstruction project
The message was simple: there is will and resources but it is hard to push
the country’s cause in an atmosphere of negativity. For as long as there are
those who wish to build the negative image, this job will be very hard. The
Supreme Court’s decision in the Mukoko case is welcome news but one of a
number of issues that require resolution.
Alex Magaisa is based at the Kent Law School, University of Kent, and can be
contacted on e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre
IN RE: SUBMISSIONS MADE BY THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, ZIMBABWE, AS TO THE LEGAL COMPETENCE OF THE SADC TRIBUNAL, THE ENFORCEABILITY OF ITS DECISIONS, AND THE LEGAL OBLIGATIONS OF THE ZIMBABWEAN GOVERNMENT AS THEY RELATE TO THE TRIBUNAL
1.An opinion, dated 31 August 2009, purporting to be that of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and signed by the Honourable P.A. Chinamasa, Zimbabwean Minster of Justice and Legal Affairs (the Minister), seeks to challenge the SADC Tribunal’s legal competence, the enforceability of its decisions and the legal obligations owed by the Republic of Zimbabwe to the Tribunal on the basis, in essence, that the Tribunal has not been properly established under international law.
2.There have been several responses to this opinion. Those responses in turn have prompted further statement from the Minister on the status of the SADC Tribunal. On the 19 September 2009 a further legal opinion, on behalf of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, was issued, addressing the Minister’s claim that the SADC Tribunal is improperly constituted.
3.The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, an organisation promoting human rights and the rule of law in southern Africa, is obviously deeply concerned at the challenge to the SADC Tribunal. But, as is evident, much has already been said on this issue and we do not wish to reiterate arguments already made. We therefore confine ourselves to submissions not yet made.
4.In our submissions below we address the contentions made that international law requires that subsequent amendment to the SADC Treaty be subject to a process of ratification and that the Protocol of the SADC Tribunal is not subject to amendment prior to coming into force. As will be shown, neither of these propositions has any validity at international law – at best fundamentally misunderstanding the inherent flexibility that infuses the law of treaties; at worst, deliberately misrepresenting the position under international law.
5.Notwithstanding the misstatement of principles of international law, we call on SADC to welcome the intent expressed on the part of the Zimbabwean government, as conveyed by the Minister, to be bound by and to adhere to the tenets of international law and we urge SADC to hold the Zimbabwean government to this express commitment.
B. No Requirement of Ratification for Amendments to Enter into Force
6.In sum, the opinion of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe (the Zimbabwe opinion) maintains that as the SADC Treaty is silent as to how amendments enter into force, customary international law prevails and requires that the same procedures applicable to the entry into force of the Treaty itself are of application to the amendment. As two-thirds of the Member States of SADC were required to ratify the Treaty before it entered into force, the same proportion of member States is required to ratify an amendment before it enters into force. This was not done in respect of the 2001 Agreement Amending the Treaty of the Southern African Development Community (the Amending Agreement) and in the absence thereof, the amendment has not entered into force and more pertinently, the SADC Tribunal is improperly established.
7.This is not a position that has any validity under international law and fundamentally misrepresents the inherent flexibility that characterises the law of treaties, particularly in respect of the conclusion and entry into force of agreements. A brief survey of the applicable provisions in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (the Vienna Convention) shows this to be the case.
8.Article 39 of the Vienna Convention states the general rule regarding the amendment of treaties: “A treaty may be amended by agreement between the parties.”
9.It continues: “The rules laid down in Part II apply to such an agreement except insofar as the treaty may otherwise provide.” Part II of the Vienna Convention regulates the conclusion and entry into force of treaties, and given the specification of the latter part of Article 39, does likewise in respect of the conclusion and entry into force of amendments.
10. Article 24 of the Convention, governing the entry into force of treaties, and thus of amendments, provides:
1.A treaty enters into force in such manner and upon such date as it may provide or as the negotiating State may agree.
2. Failing any such provision or agreement, a treaty enters into force as soon as consent to be bound by the treaty has been established for all the negotiating States.
11. Consent to be bound by a treaty and, mutatis mutandis, an amendment, is established in terms of Article 11 of the Convention:
The consent of a State to be bound by a treaty may be expressed by signature, exchange of instruments constituting a treaty, ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, or by any other means if so agreed.[emphasis added]
12. Taken together, and separately, these articles are illustrative of the inherent flexibility of the law of treaties. Article 11’s reference to ‘other means if so agreed’ indicates that agreement does not have to be express: it is enough for it to be implicit in the text of treaty or otherwise established, for example by conduct. As Anthony Aust explains in Modern Treaty Law and Practice:
[I]t is possible for a treaty to be adopted, without signature, or any other procedure, and enter into force instantly for all the adopting states. The treaty which established the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty 1996 (CTBT) was adopted by a resolution of the states which had signed the CTBT and was effective, at least in international law, immediately without any further act by those states.
13. Use of the word ‘agreement’ in Article 39 of the Vienna Convention, similarly encourages a flexible approach in respect of amendments, recognising “that it is perfectly possible to supplement a treaty by an agreement which does not itself constitute a treaty, or by an oral agreement. . .” 
14. Contrary to the propositions advanced in the Zimbabwe opinion on the need for a “somewhat rigid and solemn process of ratification”, it is apparent, even from the unexpanded provisions of the Vienna Convention, that ratification is not mandatory for the entry into force of treaties or of amendments. It is not even the default position for entry into force of treaties or amendments. As Aust explains:
It has long been the practice of states whenever they intend a treaty to enter into force by a procedure involving more than just signature to provide evidence of that intention, and usually by an express provision in the treaty itself. Furthermore, when a treaty provides for ratification it is presumed that a state has not become bound by its conduct unless that is clearly its intention. If there is no indication, express or implied, of the need for ratification the treaty will be presumed to enter into force on signature.
15. Even if ratification is agreed upon by the Parties as the means by which the original treaty comes into force, it is not necessarily the means by which subsequent amendments come into force. What is fundamental is the agreement of the Parties, and consequently their respective intent.
16. Aust’s survey of the procedures generally adopted for amendment (excerpted also in the Zimbabwe’s Government’s Opinion) makes it plain that ratification is not required before amendments enter into force.
The amendment procedures built into treaties in recent years are often elaborate. No two are the same, each being tailored to suit the particular needs of the organisation or treaty, but they usually provide for:
(1) the number of parties, or votes in the plenary body or meeting, needed to support an amendment before it has to be put to all the parties;
(2) the majority needed for adoption of the amendment;
(3) whether the adopted amendment needs to be ratified or accepted (some treaties enable technical annexes to be amended simply by a decision of a body or meeting);
(4) if so, the number of parties which need to ratify or accept for the amendment to enter into force;
(5) where ratification or acceptance is not required, whether the amendment can be adopted by tacit agreement;
(6) whether the amendment binds those parties which do not accept it.
17. As is evident, none of these procedures is mandatory and entry into force of amendments can be effected in a variety of ways: through simple decision of a body or meeting or, by tacit agreement, etc. However, the centrality of agreement between parties is again underlined.
18. The only mandatory requirements for amendment (although these too can be deviated from if the treaty so provides), as stipulated by Article 40(2) of the Vienna Convention, are that :
Any proposal to amend a multilateral treaty as between all the parties must be notified to all the contracting States, each one of which shall have the right to take part in:
(a) the decision as to the action to be taken in regard to such proposal;
(b) the negotiation and conclusion of any agreement for the amendment of the treaty.
19. Article 36 of the SADC Treaty indicates that these requirements were clearly recognised and provided for.
20. The Zimbabwe opinion maintains that “in the absence of a provision to the contrary in a treaty, the coming into force of an amendment is covered by the same underlying principles as those for the coming into force of the treaty.” That unassailable position is supported by Article 39 of the Vienna Convention, and not Article 40 as maintained in the opinion.
21. Much more material however, is that from this unassailable position the following contentions, completely unreferenced and appearing without any authority, appear to be derived: “[b]ecause the Treaty does not contain provisions for entry into force which are specific to an amendment, customary international law applies and accordingly the intention of the Member States is taken to have been that the same provisions for the coming into force of the Treaty will apply to an amendment”, and that “[t]he entry into force is governed by customary international law and requires that the same procedures for the entry into force of the Treaty be adopted for the entry into force of the amendment.”
22. The Vienna Convention, which the Zimbabwe Opinion recognises as a restatement of customary international law, makes no such provision. What it does provide in Article 39 is that the same rules applicable to the conclusion and entry into force of treaties apply to the conclusion and entry into force of amendments. Imperative for entry into force of treaties, and no less for amendment, is that agreement or consent is established and that such consent can be established by any agreed means.
23. In respect of the original SADC Treaty, Member States elected to have the Treaty enter into force “thirty (30) days after the deposit of the instruments of ratification by two-thirds of the States listed in the Preamble.” There are no provisions in the Treaty which specify how amendments are to enter into force. Certainly, there is no indication from the text that State Parties intended that ratification be required before amendments would enter into force. The provisions concerning amendment and those relating to ratification and entry into force of the Treaty are contained in separate chapters of the Treaty. Moreover, the provisions relating to signature and ratification refer to ‘High Contracting Parties’, whereas the provisions applicable to amendment refer to the Summit – suggesting that a process for the conclusion and entry into force of amendments distinct from that for the original SADC Treaty was envisaged.
24. But even if the Treaty did expressly stipulate how amendments were to enter into force, even if State parties had intended that amendments enter into force through ratification, that would not be dispositive of the matter. As Aust explains, subsequent agreement will supersede any procedure earlier agreed on:
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species 1973 (CITES) was effectively modified by a resolution of the Conference of the Parties in 1986 despite an amendment procedure having been built into the Convention.
25. Agreement was very clearly reached between Members of the Summit as to the entry into force of the Amending Agreement. The plain meaning of Article 32 couldn’t be any more clear that a distinctive rule was adopted as to the coming into force of the Amending Agreement:
This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of its adoption by three-quarters of all members of the Summit.
26. As agreement was very clearly reached as to entry into force of the Amending Agreement and consent to be bound clearly indicated there can now be no valid argument that the SADC Treaty was improperly amended and that the consequences of the amendment – including that the Protocol of the SADC Tribunal became an integral part of the SADC Treaty – have no legal effect.
C. The Protocol May Be Amended
27. As consent to be bound by the Amending Agreement can be established for all Members of the SADC Summit, including Zimbabwe, little need be said as to the entry into force of the Protocol for the SADC Tribunal. By virtue of amended Article 16 of the SADC Treaty the Protocol became an integral part of the Treaty, obviating further need for signature or ratification of the Protocol.
28. However, as an illustration of the centrality of agreement to the law of treaties, of its inherent flexibility, and of the extent to which the Zimbabwe opinion fails to appreciate this centrality, it is worth noting that the opinion maintains that “any purported amendments to the Protocol are invalid ab initio as a Protocol which has not yet come into force cannot be amended in accordance with its own provisions.”
29. While it is true that a treaty or any other multilateral instrument cannot, prior to it coming into force, be amended in accordance with its own provisions, as those provisions are not yet operative, the opinion errs in maintaining that a multilateral instrument cannot be amended prior to coming into force. It can. According to Aust:
It may be necessary to amend a multilateral treaty even before it has entered into force.
30. Most famously, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, which entered into force in 1999, was amended by a supplementary agreement in 1994.
31. In this instance, the Protocol on the SADC Tribunal was first amended by Article 18 of the Amending Agreement of 2001 and thereafter by the Agreement Amending the Protocol on the Tribunal 2002, both of which constitute legitimate amendments at international law.
32. Neither the position that the Amending Agreement to the SADC Treaty requires ratification nor that the Protocol of the Tribunal is not subject to amendment are supported at international law. Amendment to the Treaty and Protocol were validly made and the Minister’s disputation thereof is without merit.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre
22 September 2009
 See: Execution and Enforcement of Judgments of the SADC Tribunal, Opinion of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe on issues relating to International Law which were raised at the Meeting of Ministers of Justice/Attorneys-General which was held in Pretoria, South Africa from 30 July to 31 July 2009, 31 August 2009.
 For an opinion by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, see: http://www.zlhr.org.zw/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=54&Itemid=122. An opinion was also issued by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and on behalf of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union.
 See document titled: Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Responds to Various Opinions on the Status of the SADC Tribunal.
 The opinion refers to international law as an “indispensable body of rules regulating for the most part the relations between States, without which it would be virtually impossible for them to have a steady and frequent intercourse.”
 1969 U.N.T.S. 1155, 331
 Aust, Anthony, Modern Treaty Law and Practice. Cambridge University Press (2000) at 90.
 Ibid, at 213.
 Ibid at 76.
 See too article 4.4.1 of the UN Treaty Handbook: “If the treaty does not specify any amendment procedures, the parties may negotiate a new treaty or agreement amending the existing treaty.”
 Article 36 provides:
1. An amendment of this Treaty shall be adopted by a decision of three-quarters of all Members of the Summit.
2. A proposal for the amendment of this Treaty may be made to the Executive Secretary by any Member States for preliminary consideration by the Council, provided, however, that the proposed amendment shall not be submitted to the Council for preliminary consideration until all Member States have been duly notified of it, and a period of three months has elapsed after such notification.
 Supra n 1at 4.
 Ibid at 8.
 Ibid at 9.
 Supra n 6 at 214.
 Article 16(20 of the SADC Treaty provides: “the composition, powers, functions, procedures and other related matters governing the Tribunal shall be prescribed in a Protocol, which shall, notwithstanding the provisions of Article 22 of this Treaty, form an integral part of this Treaty, adopted by the Summit.”
 Supra n 1 at 13.
 Supra n 6 at 222.
Testimony by Donald Steinberg, Deputy President, International Crisis Group,
to U.S. Subcommittee on Africa, "Exploring U.S. Policy Options toward
Zimbabwe's Transition", 30 September 2009.
Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank you and ranking member Senator Isakson
for bringing us together today to explore policy options toward the
transition in Zimbabwe, and for your continuing leadership on these issues.
As an international non-governmental organization committed to preventing
and ending deadly conflict, International Crisis Group believes that
Zimbabwe now has its best chance in a decade to put behind it the divisions,
abuses, and self-implosion that has been the legacy of the abusive regime of
Robert Mugabe. The combination of an inclusive government, a re-emerging and
vibrant civil society, an educated population and work force, a once-rich
manufacturing, agricultural and mining sector waiting for recovery; and the
good will of countries in its region and beyond can open the door to a
post-conflict recovery that would benefit both its long-suffering people and
the broader southern African region.
But for all the hopeful possibilities inherent in this situation, a
"wait-and-see" attitude from the international community, including the
United States, risks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of a return to
conflict and repression.
MDC's Entry into Government
When Morgan Tsvangirai led his party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), into a unity government with Zimbabwe African National Union
(ZANU-PF) in February 2009 under the terms of the Global Political Accord,
sceptics gave the new formation little chance of success. Tsvangirai and the
MDC were portrayed as neophytes who would soon become the latest victims of
Mugabe's "divide, rule, co-opt and destroy" strategy. It was broadly
understood that the MDC position was driven by a pragmatic assessment of
their options. Mugabe and his hard-line allies and security forces held most
of the cards: a monopoly on force, a willingness to repress and abuse its
political opponents, and the obsequious support of South African President
Thabo Mbeki, charged by the Southern African Development Community to
negotiate a solution to the long-standing electoral and political crisis.
The MDC calculated that its capacity to affect change would be greater
within government than outside it.
Understandably repulsed by the autocratic actions, human rights abuses, and
corrupt practices of Mugabe and his coterie, foreign donors - including the
United States - have held back on support to the new government in which
they maintain the upper hand. The original approach of providing only
narrowly defined humanitarian assistance was eventually modified to a
position described as "humanitarian-plus," and included support for not only
life-saving emergency projects, but also for agricultural recovery, civil
servants involved in relief exercises, and health and educational
institutions. This approach was seen as balancing a desire to improve the
lot of Zimbabwe's population with continuing pressure on the actors in the
new government - especially Mugabe and ZANU-PF - to meet their commitments
toward a transition to democracy governance.
Against long odds, the new government started out reasonably well. Many
schools and hospitals re-opened. The Zimbabwe dollar, which had been turned
into an international joke by multi-billion percent inflation, was shelved.
Civil servants were paid a small stipend and returned to work; goods started
to return to empty store shelves; a cholera epidemic was brought under
control; and a bipartisan parliamentary committee was formed to reform the
constitution. Human rights activists reported a significant drop in
An ambitious reconstruction program - the Short-Term Economic Recovery
Programme - identified the need for about $8.5 billion in resources,
including foreign assistance and investment, and was generally well-received
by foreign donors and the Bretton Woods institutions. Prime Minister
Tsvangirai, Finance Minister Tendai Biti and their MDC party received much
of the credit for these developments - even from the rank-and-file army -
and a new sense of hope returned to Zimbabwe.
But Tsvangirai could see clearly that these changes were fragile and pleaded
for foreign help to consolidate them. "Don't make us pay for working with
Mugabe," he wrote in a powerful opinion piece in the London Times.
Indeed, from early on, there were ample signs of concern. Farm seizures have
continued virtually unabated. While human rights abuses declined,
ZANU-PF-led security forces have continued to arrest and detain activists
and MDC parliamentarians. Hard-line partisans like the Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono and the Attorney General Johannes Tomana were unduly
reappointed, top generals boycotted the new national security establishments
and showed public disdain for Tsvangirai, and ZANU-PF has delayed or ignored
key commitments under the Global Political Accord (GPA). The constitutional
reform process has been thwarted by ZANU-PF's insistence that the
secretly-authored Kariba draft serve as the basis for a new constitution.
Some old regime elements, especially hard-line generals and other Mugabe
loyalists, are actively thwarting the new government, motivated by fear of a
loss of power and its financial benefits; possible prosecution for their
crimes; hatred of Tsvangirai and the MDC; and a belief that that they are
the guardians of the country's liberation. These forces continue to work
flat out to undermine the inclusive government by stalling processes that
should lead to the fulfilment of the GPA and refusing to implement
government decisions. True to form, Mugabe is giving them backing, calling
into grave question his commitment to make the inclusive government work.
The Risks of International Disengagement
During his visit to the United States and Europe this summer, Tsvangirai was
met with luke-warm encouragement, much skepticism, and very little cash. In
addition to the revulsion over supporting a government including Mugabe,
Zimbabwe's timing was awful. It was seeking massive foreign aid and private
investment at a time when donors were cutting aid budgets and foreign
investors were seeking safe havens in the stormy global economy. Tellingly,
no one has called for a "Marshall Plan for Zimbabwe."
In fact, this stance risks thwarting the very changes the international
community is seeking, both by weakening the hand of the MDC and moderates in
ZANU-PF, and by undercutting popular support for the reform process. The
humanitarian situation remains dire, with reluctant donors pledging less
than half of the $718 million required to ward off disease and hunger. The
United Nations and non-governmental organizations have warned of a potential
new cholera outbreak ahead of the rainy season. Moreover, doctors and
teachers have gone on strike to demand better pay. The government is unable
to buy grain from farmers because the Grain Marketing Board has no money.
The constitutional reform process is stalled in part over the failure of the
government to finance outreach and consultation programs.
Already, there are disturbing warnings that the MDC is losing contact with
its popular base, including in the context of the constitutional reform
process. Civil society activists are increasingly complaining that this
process is being driven by political elites for their own purposes. Similar
arguments are emerging with regard to efforts to develop mechanisms to hold
the perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable for their actions.
Within the MDC itself, some question the wisdom of remaining in the unity
Further, despite succession battles within ZANU-PF between the rival
factions of the hard-line Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the more
moderate General Solomon Mujuru and his wife, Vice President Joice Mujuru,
the forces committed to Mugabe seem to be firmly in control.
Maintain Targeted Sanctions; Enhance Targeted Assistance
Mr. Chairman, the United States must stand firmly against those who are
thwarting the democratic transformation in Zimbabwe. Tough targeted
sanctions - including trade and travel bans and assets freezes - against
such individuals and the companies they control under the International
Emergency Economic Powers Act, the National Emergencies Act, and section 301
of title 3 of the U.S. Code should remain in place to secure the commitment
of the recalcitrant parties to their commitments under the GPA.
But at the same time, targeted reconstruction and development assistance -
channeled through fully transparent, credible and accountable mechanisms and
institutions - is essential now. Such mechanisms do exist: the International
Monetary Fund, for example, has ensured responsible use of the one-time
expansion of special drawing rights to Zimbabwe equivalent to a $500 million
loan for the purpose of building and repairing
schools, hospitals, roads, railways and communication networks.
The United States, other donors, and international financial institutions
Expand assistance to support revival of the education, agriculture, water,
health and water sanitation, including support for the soon-to-be-announced
Government Works Program. Particular attention should be given to programs
to assist women, including reproductive health care and girls' education.
Help empower a functioning civil service and legislature, and support reform
of politicized government institutions, including the judiciary.
Strengthen civil society - groups of women, academics, journalists, lawyers,
farmers, and others - fractured and polarized in recent years by Mugabe's
Adopt innovative programs to encourage new trade and foreign investment in
Zimbabwe to address the country's massive unemployment rate and promote the
return of four million Zimbabwean migrants who are increasingly the target
of xenophobic attacks in South Africa and elsewhere in the region.
America's Interests in Zimbabwe's Recovery
Mr. Chairman. At a time when crises in Afghanistan, Burma, Congo, Iran,
Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan fill the in-boxes
of American policy-makers, it would be easy to move the slow-simmering
crisis to the back-burner. Neither the MDC nor ZANU-PF consorts with global
terrorists, and collapse of the unity government will not lead to jihadi
training camps in rural areas. Zimbabwe is neither a supplier nor a major
trafficker in illegal drugs, arms or persons. Its refugees are not flooding
into the United States. Zimbabwe has no oil, and most of its minerals face
free-falling global demand. No exotic diseases threaten pandemic: it suffers
from "just" cholera, malaria and HIV/AIDS. The country straddles no sea
lanes and has no pirates.
But there are strong motivations for broad American engagement. Just because
the global effects of Zimbabwe's implosion have so far been modest, this
could change rapidly. Transnational threats incubate in unexpected ways in
the hothouse of instability and weak governance. What if the H1N1 virus had
emerged in Harare and swept through a country where the health
infrastructure had been ravaged?
Zimbabwe's recovery is of major regional importance. If Zimbabwe is a
smallish country of 12 million people, the southern African region - with a
market of 200 million, growing oil production, peacekeepers throughout
Africa, and a location along key shipping lanes - is by contrast of great
strategic, commercial and political importance to the United States. A
prosperous Zimbabwe could be an engine of growth for the region, providing
key links to regional communications, transport and electricity grids.
Zimbabwe has long been considered a potential breadbasket for the region,
based on what used to be efficient agriculture, albeit needing serious and
responsible land reform.
By contrast, instability in Zimbabwe is profoundly destabilizing to its
neighbors. An estimated four million Zimbabweans fleeing economic hardship
and political abuses have flooded across borders, overwhelming the social
services and the good will of South Africa, Botswana, and other neighbors.
Botswana, Africa's shining star of stability and human rights, has built an
electrified fence and resorted to detention and expulsions to keep desperate
This regional importance has been one reason why the SADC has been
advocating greater international support for the unity government. South
Africa itself has put up about $75 million to support the process of
democratic transformation. During his visit to Harare in late August and a
subsequent meeting Secretary of State Clinton, South African President Jacob
Zuma gave welcome indications that he will press a tougher stance vis-à-vis
Mugabe on outstanding GPA obligations, respect for rule of law, and
cessation of repressive actions by the security forces under his control.
But regrettably, the international community cannot rely solely on
Zimbabwe's neighbors to promote this process. As shown again in their
September 7-8 meeting in Kinshasa, many SADC leaders continue to kowtow to
Mugabe. Following a presentation in which he told these leaders that the
unity government is doing well, SADC unproductively called for the lifting
of targeted international sanctions on Zimbabwe and cancelled an
extraordinary summit on Zimbabwe to review the weak implementation of the
Working with regional actors, the broader international community and, of
course, the Zimbabwean people themselves, the United States has a unique
opportunity to promote democratic transformation and socio-economic recovery
I know that some worry that such a strategy would prematurely reward Mugabe
and his hard-line supporters, or somehow reduce the pressure on them to
cooperate with the reform process.
In truth, a policy of engagement and targeted assistance through credible
and transparent channels would strengthen the hands of moderates and make it
more difficult for the extremists to again seize power, which would result
in even greater repression and isolation for Zimbabwe's people and greater
instability throughout South African and beyond. Put simply: we believe that
if you want to sideline Mugabe and his hard-liners, you should support the
people of Zimbabwe by embracing the unity government now.
Not that long ago I was maintaining a list of the court orders that ZANU PF
and its various wings had defied with absolute impunity - and sadly I lost
that list when my computer was hacked. (The security on this machine has
been beefed up something serious now, so I don't envisage a repeat anytime
It beggared belief that ZANU PF could just brazenly ignore any order issued
by one of the highest courts in the land - but then again, if you are
batting for Robert Gabriel Mugabe, you become one of the 'untouchables'.
This week, Charles Lock, the soon-to-be ex-owner of Karori Farm in Headlands
was granted a court order which was to allow him, "full and unfettered right
to remove all and any of the goods, as well as any other move able assets,
including his equipment and fittings in the tobacco barns, cattle handling
facilities, household and personal effects, from the land" - but, as I
prophesised on my main page yesterday, he was no even given access onto the
land, let alone to his crops and equipment.
Court Order Defiance Unpunished In Zimbabwe
"Armed soldiers barred me from entering the farm when I went there on Friday
after the High Court ruling."
On my main page this morning, I questioned why a senior army officer - a
Brigadier no less - should have his own band of armed soldiers at the farm?
They can't be there on official duty, unless, of course, they have been
ordered to the farm by the Brigadier himself.
A question which is often discussed is if an officer issues an illegal order
to a subordinate and that subordinate carries out that order, who is to
culpable? The answer is, of course, the officer - so, even if the soldiers
were acting on direct orders from the Brigadier, it is the Brigadier that
should face the wrath of the law.
The problem that faces Lock is that his actions will be deemed unpatriotic
and the full weight of various wings of ZANU PF will fall very heavily on
He will not be able to reap his crops. Neither will he be allowed to recover
his agricultural equipment, nor his personal property. As a direct result of
his going to the law courts to get a court order, the Brigadier will baton
down the hatches and prevent any incursion upon 'his' land.
Dare I say it - Lock may find himself under lock and key.
As I wrote yesterday, I understand the land appropriation, but disagree
entirely with blatant theft and the threat of violence.
If Lock has spent his money on the crops in the ground, it is his right to
reap that crop - and any attempt by the Brigadier to reap what he has not
sown should be constituted as theft.
But, in Zimbabwe, possession is nine tenths of the law - and so the
Brigadier will be deemed the new 'owner' of the crop, which he will reap and
sell, converting the proceeds thereof to his own pocket.
And the land will not be worked for the next season, and within a few months
I see the farm being derelict, unused - a skeleton picked dry by the
marauding masses, masquerading as 'new' landowners.
And this is not a clever deduction - all I have to do is look at the vast
majority of farms that have suffered the same fate.
Courts orders in Zimbabwe mean nothing to Mugabe and ZANU PF.
And defiance of these orders by ZANU PF renegades remains unpunished.
Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man
In the recent CNN interview with President Mugabe, he was recorded as saying
two things about the land reform process in Zimbabwe: first he claimed that
Zimbabwe had grown enough food to feed itself in the 2008/9 season;
secondly, he stated that the reform programme was something Africa could be
proud of and that what he had achieved was to "reclaim" the land from the
We need to unpack these two claims and when we do so, we will in fact
discern that instead of being something to be proud of, the whole exercise
has been a sham, an attempt to hold onto power and privilege after he and
his Party, Zanu PF, had lost all credibility and majority support.
The original estimates by the FAO put maize production in the past season at
1,2 million tonnes. This was after what has been described as a near perfect
season. The Ministry of Agriculture followed up with even higher estimates
and stated that "we have grown enough food to feed the country". No one
believed them and other commercial sources said production had been only
marginally higher than the 400 000 tonnes grown in 2007/8. The reality is
that maize has already started to disappear from local markets just three
months after the reaping season started and this suggests that the
pessimists (realists) were about right.
This means that for the third year in a row, Zimbabwe has grown less than a
quarter of its needs as far as maize is concerned. The outlook for wheat and
barley is even worse - Zimbabwe will produce only 5 per cent of its
estimated needs this winter even though there is ample water.
In almost every other sector - beef, pig production, poultry, fruit and tea
and coffee, output is down to less than 20 per cent of previous production
levels while sugar output is down by 50 per cent even though a large
multinational company dominates this industry. Cotton output is also down
and overall, the production of small scale farmers has declined by 73 per
cent over the levels achieved in the decade up to the year 2000.
This is surprising because there has been no physical dislocation of
smallholder production. However what the symbiotic reductions tell us is
that there was a very strong synergy between small and large-scale farmers.
The key test for this is the very large programme being carried out this
winter to give smallholders their input requirements in the hope that they
will grow enough maize to feed the country next year.
Then there is the issue of just what happened in the Fast Track programme.
It is not generally appreciated that over 80 per cent of all the affected
farms had been purchased after 1980 and with the buyer holding a certificate
of no interest from the Ministry of Agriculture, saying that it was not
required for resettlement. At the time, the Constitution of Zimbabwe
guaranteed property rights and security of tenure over freehold land.
This meant that those farmers were in fact investing in Zimbabwe and
exhibiting considerable faith in the country and its government.
Agriculture, was in fact one of the fastest growing sectors of the
Zimbabwean economy from 1980 to 1997, slowing only when there were severe
droughts and even then, able to feed the country.
So the first aspect to this shameful exercise is that the farmers must be
seen as investors, not settlers. These were not 1896 settlers taking land
from the indigenous population. They came from every corner of the world and
a recent list of affected foreigner's shows more than 26 nationalities.
Furthermore, they were investing very large sums of capital - an estimated
US$2,5 billion in the land they purchased and even more in the productive
assets and equipment they were required to have in order to produce. They
bought 30 000 tractors, built or paid for 10 000 farm dams and held 2,5
million head of cattle worth US$750 million.
They employed 350 000 workers and generated nearly US$2 billion a year in
exports while at the same time supplying local industry with 60 per cent of
its raw materials and being a major client for commercial and banking
institutions and companies. 20 per cent were owned and operated by a rapidly
growing black farmer elite that had bought into the industry without any
special support measures and were achieving growing respect.
But aside all that, the great majority of these investors were not settlers
or Europeans or Americans, or Chinese, or Indian; they were Africans. Men
and women, who had adopted Africa as their home, spoke local languages, sent
their children to local schools and held no other citizenship than their
local Zimbabwean citizenship.
These were the people who were threatened, beaten, even killed when Zanu PF
decided in March 2000 that they had been responsible for their crushing and
shock defeat in the referendum. Any African leader who claims that these
were not and are not Africans, is simply saying to the millions of people of
African decent who now live in other countries that they can never be
comfortable or safe in their new identities. What utter rubbish. If any
African leader attempted to say to the tens of millions of people of colour
in Europe or America that they are not British, or Canadian, they would be
lynched. But that is what Mugabe is saying to those people who are white (or
brown) who chose to make Zimbabwe their home and to invest in the
agricultural sector rather than mining or industry or commerce.
Aside from this - the whole exercise was unlawful, violated the Constitution
of the country and every tenet of contract law. It violated basic human
rights and it undermined the reputation of Africa as a safe and productive
destination for foreign investment. In doing so Mugabe has done inestimable
damage to the welfare of the whole continent and any African leader who
cannot see that is blind to the realities of a globalised world.
2nd October 2009
After attending the UN General Assembly, you would think that Robert Mugabe
would rush back to his beleaguered country but instead he went on to
Venezuela where he attended a South America/Africa Summit hosted by his
friend Hugo Chavez. The purpose of this Summit was, to quote Luis da Silva
the Brazilian president, "to construct a new alliance, discover
opportunities and help ourselves mutually," In reality, this Summit was
another opportunity for the anti-western and anti-imperialist rhetoric that
we have become familiar with over the years from the likes of Robert Mugabe,
Hugo Chavez, Luis da Silva and the mercurial Libyan leader, Gadaffi. While
it's not difficult to understand why former colonised countries feel
resentment at the west's world domination, it is not so easy to see what
real benefit there is to their people on the ground from all this hot air
issuing from the leaders' mouths. Hugo Chavez, with his country's massive
oil revenues, claimed, "Africa and South America are rich lands, yet the
people are poor because they have been exploited. Let's not allow them to
keep exploiting and ransacking our lands." For the outsider who may know
little of South American politics, it is difficult to judge the accuracy of
this statement. By 'them' and 'they' we assume that Chavez is referring to
global oil companies who have moved in - presumably at his invitation - to
exploit his oil wealth.
Zimbabweans are better able to judge when we hear Robert Mugabe speak. "In
Africa," he said, "greater industrial development has been difficult because
of a reliance on the very powers that industrialised us. They do not want us
to see us industrialised." What evidence does Mugabe have for such a claim?
How does it serve the west's interests to have Africa permanently poor? As
with his ludicrous claims at the UN General Assembly that western sanctions
are ruining his country, Mugabe offers no hard evidence for such irrational
statements. It is merely populist rhetoric designed to earn him more kudos
with his anti-western audience whose attitude was summed up by Gadaffi when
he described the western powers as "a small club of major powers still
trying to run the world on their terms." It was Mugabe's remarks about his
country's natural resources that told us the real reasons for being there in
Venezuela; "Zimbabwe could offer minerals and agricultural products for oil
and technology," he said. Zimbabweans must have reacted with hollow laughter
when they heard that their country had agricultural products to offer! In a
week when figures revealed that his Gushungo Company owns as many as a dozen
farms, many of them seized from their former white owners, and the
agricultural sector is daily under attack by Mugabe's own cronies, it's
difficult to understand what agricultural products he could be referring to.
Grace Mugabe's dairy farms too have been in the spotlight all week for
profiting from milk sales illegally purchased by the Swiss owned Nestles
Company. What Zimbabweans know only too well is that offers of agricultural
products in exchange for oil and technology are more likely to benefit
Gushungo and his cronies than the masses of Zimbabwean people.
While Mugabe was enjoying his time in the limelight with like-minded
populist leaders in Venezuala, back home in Zimbabwe there was the usual
mixture of good, bad and not-so-bad news. In an astonishing development,
Jestina Mukoko was released from the threat of any further prosecution on
'Banditry' charges. She no longer has that threat hanging over her and that
is good news but it needs to be remembered that the judgement by the Supreme
Court refers only to Jestina Mukoko and not to her co-accused. The Supreme
Court's judgement appears on the surface to be an assurance that an
individuals constitutional rights are protected by law but on the ground
there is little evidence that this is the case. The police continue to
ignore court orders as top army officers seize farms and prevent the legal
owners from entering their properties despite court orders to the contrary.
And with the appointment of the new Media Board there is worrying evidence
of military involvement at every level of media management. All the new
Media board are Zanu PF loyalists and unbelievably, it is the hapless and
hopeless Tafataona Mahosa who now heads the Broadcasting authority of
Zimbabwe in charge of issuing licences. There is little hope that the media
in Zimbabwe will be free any time soon from political interference. It
remains firmly in Zanu PF hands and the military are present in force to
ensure that Mugabe's Zimbabwe remains his own personal fiefdom. With no real
power, as the MDC's designate Deputy Minister of Agriculture admitted this
week, it is hard to see where real change will come from.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle PH.