government must ensure that children living in the settlements it created to
re-house those made homeless by its mass forced eviction program six years ago
are able to go to school, Amnesty International said in a report released today.
Left behind: The impact of Zimbabwe’s mass forced evictions
on the right to education shows how thousands of children and
young people forced from their homes during Operation Murambatsvina are unlikely
to access adequate schooling.
"These government-created settlements were
supposed to offer the victims of forced evictions a better life," said Michelle
Kagari, Amnesty International's deputy Africa director.
victims have been driven deeper into poverty while denial of education means
young people have no real prospect of extricating themselves from continuing
"The government's removal of people from places where they
had access to education, and its subsequent failure to provide education has
struck a devastating blow to the lives and dreams of thousands of
The government justified its 2005 mass evictions program,
Operation Murambatsvina, by claiming that the communities evicted were living in
They set up a housing scheme named Operation
Garikai (Better Life) to re-settle several thousand of the 700,000 victims of
the eviction program promising them better access to services.
of children and young people were forced to move away from their schools, in
some cases school buildings were destroyed by the eviction program.
families were left destitute because their homes and sources of livelihoods,
such as markets and small businesses, were destroyed during the forced
evictions, so they could no longer afford the school fees and costs of uniforms
Six years on, the majority of those allocated land and
or housing under Operation Garikai are living in plastic shacks or other poorly
constructed structures with no access to roads, public transport or job
Many young people told Amnesty International that after
the evictions they were forced to find work to help feed their
In one settlement called Hatcliffe Extension children as young
as 13 seek construction work in neighbouring communities to earn a living. Many
young women said that when they were unable to attend school they decided to get
Irene, a 21-year-old living at Hopley who married in 2007 aged
17 told Amnesty International:
"I decided to get married so that I could
have someone to provide for me. I could not get a job. I did not want to go into
sex work like most of the girls who dropped out of school."
settlements, such as Hopley and Hatcliffe Extension, community groups and
individuals have set up unregistered schools to provide some education for
children. However, a lack of trained teachers, furniture, stationary and no
supervision from the Ministry of Education mean that the quality of education is
Fatima, a young woman from Hopley said:
"While we send
the children to community school I am still concerned about the quality of the
education. There is barely any learning going on. There are no books and trained
teachers. It's just sending the children to while up time since we really have
Amnesty International also found that children
attending unregistered community primary schools at Hopley settlement risked not
being able to sit exams as the examination board does not recognize the
unregistered schools as examination centres. Children who don't sit the exam
cannot enrol for secondary education and end up dropping out.
appalling that a government can get away with making life harder for its poorest
and most vulnerable people. The Zimbabwean authorities must immediately use all
available resources to adopt and implement a national education strategy which
ensures that all children access free primary education," said Michelle
Senior political figures and democracy activists have
called on President Robert Mugabe to resign after his seventh medical trip to
Singapore, saying his ill health is disrupting government
spoke to The Zimbabwean off the record this week said they had asked
him to step down.
Minister Webster Shamu dismissed the call, saying there was "no basis" for the
president to leave office.
to Singapore again last week for what his administration claims is an eye
problem. It is his seventh state-funded trip this year, each one costing the
taxpayer an estimated $3million in travel and medical
Tendai Biti last week lamented budget overruns on travel, and said the GNU had
so far blown $40million on travel.
Shamu insisted the
president "has not been found incapable of discharging his
A Zanu (PF)
minister said the president's illness "has created a dangerous situation whereby
no-one is in charge of the affairs of state during his absence". Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai has not been permitted to exercise full executive authority
during Mugabe's absences, and Cabinet does not meet when he is
spoke of "a vacuum of leadership" whereby ministers are "engaged in infighting"
and "routinely flout the orders of the president".
An MDC minister
Mugabe was an obstacle to peaceful transition. "We need to carry out the
necessary transformation needed for the economic, social and political recovery
of Zimbabwe, and for that to happen Mugabe must go," he said.
words reflect the general mood in the country, where there is real concern that
the president's recurring health problems have rendered him unable to do his
job. Upon his return from the UN General Assembly, he looked very frail, with
acute hair loss.
confidential US embassy cables wired to Washington and leaked by whistleblowing
website Wikileaks, Mugabe is plagued with cancer which has metastasised to other
parts of his body.
Gono, Mugabe’s doctor had recommended he cut back on his activities," reads part
of the 2008 cable. "Gono told us last year that Mugabe was ill and that his
doctor had urged him to step down immediately. Mugabe told his doctor, according
to Gono, that he would leave office after the election."
One minister said
Zimbabwe risked ending up with a Woodrow Wilson or Kamuzu Banda scenario where
the incapacitated head of state in effect surrendered the running of affairs of
state to their wives. Mugabe's wife Grace is 40 years his junior, but maintains
a low profile.
Qhubani Moyo, an
executive member of Welshman Ncube's MDC, said perhaps Mugabe was clinging to
power so that he could hand the baton to his son Chatunga.
Ibbo Mandaza said the issue was of profound national importance and authorities
must come clean on the 87-year old leader's health.
"It is a matter of
serious public interest,” he said. Zimbabwe’s current The constitution provides
for a joint committee to be set up upon the request of only one-third of MPs to
look into the President’s health.
seen at 7.8-9 pct in 2012 vs 9.3 pct in 2011
* Inflation to be contained
at single digits
* Revenue to rise, donor inflows seen lower in
* Politics "putting a premium" on economy
HARARE, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's economy will grow at a
slower pace in 2012 than this year as politics puts a drag on full recovery
and inflation should stay in single figures, partly due to prudent fiscal
policy, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Wednesday.
grew in 2009 after a decade of contraction amid political turmoil, lifted by
President Robert Mugabe's formation of a power-sharing government with
long-time rival and now prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.
economy is likely to grow 7.8 to 9 pct in 2012 compared with 9.3 pct in
2011, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said in a pre-budget statement on
Biti said agriculture and mining would remain the major
drivers of growth while tourism, manufacturing, transport and communication
would also contribute to the growth.
"You may ask why we are
discounting the GDP (projecting slower growth). We are making the assumption
that there will be corrosive politics in 2012, election talk, which will
affect the economy," Biti told a sitting of Parliament.
that Zimbabwe's growth was vulnerable to a dip in commodity prices, as high
gold and platinum prices contributed significantly to the country's
The southern African country has also recovered from
hyper-inflation which hit 500 billion percent in 2008 but has fallen back
into single figures thanks to the adoption of multi-currencies in
Annual inflation was seen averaging between 3.7 and 5 percent up to
the end of 2012.
Revenue was expected to rise to $3.4 billion in 2012
-- the same figure as expenditure -- from $2.7 billion in 2011, but inflows
from foreign donors were seen dipping to $500 million from $593.7 million
Donors have continued to channel funding through
non-governmental organisations -- rather than directly to government -- and
United Nations agencies due to sharp policy differences with Mugabe's
previous government, such as the seizure of white-owned commercial farms in
Export earnings should increase slightly to
$4.6 billion next year from $4.1 billion in 2012, Biti said. Imports would
remain higher, however, at $5.7 billion.
Biti said the government
would need to find money to fund a referendum on a new constitution and a
general election that would bring an end to the uneasy coalition
Last week Biti said government spending was a big concern and
on Wednesday reiterated that Zimbabwe would spend $2 billion on salaries for
its 250,000 state workers next year, which he said was "a
The high salary bill leaves little for the government to
provide clean water, electricity, health and education.
called on government to sell off loss-making state enterprises. He suggested
selling state-owned airline Air Zimbabwe, mobile phone operator Net One, the
national rail company and the state grain procurer.
The government has
previously said it needs $10 billion to rebuild the economy but donors are
demanding more political reforms from Mugabe, who has clashed with the West,
mainly over charges of human rights abuses against his opponents.
one wants to help us because of political noise. We are not being judged on
our management of the economy, we are being judged for our politics.
Politics is putting a premium on this economy," Biti said.
Serious divisions are reported to have
emerged among Zimbabwe’s top military chefs, regarding the action to be
taken against two army generals who criticised their commander, General
Constantine Chiwenga. Brigadier-Generals Herbert Chingono and Fidelis Satuku,
are under investigation for comments they made to the US Ambassador Charles
Ray, criticizing Chiwenga as a “political general” who has “little practical
military experience or expertise.”
Their comments were revealed in US
Embassy cables published by the WikiLeaks website. According to the Zimbabwe
Independent newspaper, there is general consensus within the military that
Chingono and Satuku were wrong to talk to US officials.
quotes “top military sources” who said some commanders, including Chiwenga
himself, want action taken against the two generals. Others prefer to allow
the matter to pass, “following Robert Mugabe’s lead” and not take punitive
action against those exposed by WikiLeaks.
A politburo member quoted by
The Independent said: “We in the party are not doing anything about it and I
don’t expect us to discuss the cables in future meetings.” He also said:
“The president is not going to deal with the matter, so why should he? He
should leave them alone.”
Chingono and Satuku could be court-martialed if
it is found they have a case to answer, according to regulations in the
Defence Act. They can be subsequently charged with treason or subversion,
according to military sources who spoke to The Independent.
Zimbabwe Army Colonel Bernard Matongo, told SW Radio Africa that in military
circles, you do not criticize the boss. But he questioned whether the two
generals can be prosecuted under the Defence Act. “It would depend on what
is considered treason or subversion in the Act, which is quite extensive,”
The WikiLeaks cables have revealed a lot about the
internal dynamics within ZANU PF and the opinions of many party officials
regarding their leader Robert Mugabe. Significantly, the cables showed that
Mugabe is not popular within his own party and many realize he is a
liability and want him to go.
Sloganeering, marching, singing, taunting
passersby, wielding sticks and uniformly raising vicious fists in the air,
Zanu (PF) youths ransack foreign-owned shops and market stalls owned by
suspected MDC activists. 05.10.1107:24am by FUNGI KWARAMBA AND JEFFERY
Innocent people struggling for survival have fallen prey to
these youths who demand money simply because they belong to Zanu (PF). The
militant group has seized bus terminuses around the city and even invaded
“We are losing money every day to these criminals. They
claim it goes to their party,” said Honest Murombedzi, a kombi driver plying
the city-Kuwadzana route.
“Every time we park in town, violent
youths, claiming to be sent by Zanu (PF) bosses, demand $1,00, which they
say is for some party projects. The money is not receipted,” he
Another victim of the scam, Phindi Sibanda, who used to operate a
market stall in Mbare, claimed that she lost her business to the youths, who
besieged her market stall, accusing her of supporting MDC.
told to go and make a market stall at Harvest House, the headquarters for
MDC-T,” Sibanda said.
Henry Okonkwo, a Nigerian businessman, said he was
tired of young people claiming to have been sent by Zanu (PF) leaders asking
him to contribute money towards their party.
“It is so bad. Every day
these youths storm my business premises, demanding money. They claim it is
meant for party business. They carry what I strongly suspect is a bogus
letter signed by Didymus Mutasa, Secretary for Administration,” Okonkwo
Scores of other businessmen interviewed across the city
“This is not new, we have endured this rot for a long time,
but we have no choice because we want to keep our businesses up and
running,” said Amid Raj.
The independent media has been awash with
reports of suspected Zanu (PF) youths demanding “toll fees” from commuter
omnibuses, claiming to have been sent by Mutasa.
The minister has now
gone on record, disowning the youths, saying he is keen to see them being
brought to book.
“I don’t know who sent them to illegally get money from
the kombis,” Mutasa said.
“The police must arrest the culprits
because they are using my name and unlawfully siphoning money from people.
When the police arrest them, they should also notify me,” said
Zanu (PF) Harare Youth Chairman, Jim Kunaka, has also refuted
claims that the marauding youths were linked to the party.
vocabulary we don’t have such fraud. We will not tolerate people going about
dirtying the party’s name and I will investigate,” he claimed.
the youth chairperson was busy saying this, youths had seized control of car
parks in Westly, Warren Park and Kuwadzana and braced for a showdown with
city fathers who control the car parks.
Political analyst, Charles
Mangongera said the behaviour of the youths showed a party on the verge of
“The moral fabric of the party has been destroyed. Anyone can
now use the name of the party to do anything and get away with it. I think
the riotous youths are not coming from Zanu(PF). They are just criminals,”
The unity government comprising ZANU PF and the MDC formations has
been criticised for its failure to stop human rights abuses, like
extrajudicial killings, torture and political arrests.
civil society organisations (CSO’s) released an advocacy charter in Geneva
on Wednesday offering concrete recommendations on how the government could
improve human rights in Zimbabwe.
The CSO’s also called on the
international community to pressure the Zimbabwean government on this issue.
The government will next week Monday officially present a 15-page report to
the UN Human Rights Council’s 12th session of the Universal Periodic Review,
which began in Geneva this week.
The report paints a rosy picture of the
human rights situation in Zimbabwe and has been heavily criticised by civil
society leaders who have descended on Geneva to ‘set the record
The CSO’s advocacy charter highlights the inclusive
government’s lackluster performance in curtailing and responding to rights
abuses, which was more open and brutal during the years ZANU PF was in sole
charge of the country.
Reacting to the government report Dewa Mavhinga, a
leading human rights defender, said they have been ‘outraged by the
self-delusional claims by the government of its human rights
‘It is a self-serving, selective and totally one-sided depiction
of the human rights situation. Human rights violations have persisted in the
country despite the official pronouncement the government is respecting the
rights of the Zimbabwe people.
‘Unfortunately, the government is only
paying lip service to the idea of human rights. The country’s failure to
punish those responsible for political violence was spurring more such
abuses from state forces,’ Mavhinga said.
He said Zimbabwe may be a
signatory to many human rights treaties and programs that are supposed to
prevent human rights abuses, but these legal instruments are not
implemented. For example he said, the government report argues it has adopted
several mechanisms to promote the welfare of vulnerable children, women, and
other vulnerable sectors of the Zimbabwe society. In particular it states
that education is of primary importance to the government.
Amnesty International has just released a report criticizing the way the
Zimbabwe government has dealt with forced evictions, which tens of thousands
of children homeless and facing a life with no hope of
Harare, October o5, 2011 - The
youth assembly chairperson of the larger formation of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Solomon Madzore has been arrested by armed police
at his house in the Waterfalls surburb.
Police detained him at Harare
police station where they interrogated him about the murder of Inspector
Addressing journalists at the party headquarters, Harvest
House MDC youth assembly secretary general, Promise Mkwananzi condemned the
arrest of Madzore saying it was driven by ulterior motives.
Youth Assembly President Solomon Madzore was arrested at his house today at
1305hrs. The MDC Youth Assembly condemns in the strongest possible terms the
unwarranted harassment and intimidation of its leaders and members,"
"The arrest of Madzore comes in addition to thousands of
our members and supporters that are either in detention, or being
intimidated by Zanu (PF) terrorists outfits such as Chipangano that continue
to walk scot free. The Youth Assembly wishes to state that Solomon Madzore
is innocent; he has not committed any crime. Recently, the police arrested
the MDC Youth Assembly Deputy President Costa Machingauta for no valid
Mkwananzi said the MDC views the arrests of it's members as "an
obvious ploy to weaken the Youth Assembly ahead of the coming elections"
adding that police have been acting partisan in the past months denying the
MDC youths to gather and march in Harare.
"The MDC Youth Assembly is
a law abiding entity. As recent as last week, on the 26th of September 2011,
the MDC Youth Assembly notified the police of their intention for a peace
march. As usual, the police turned down the march," Mkwananzi said.
He (Madzore) should be released unconditionally and with immediate effect.
Further, the assembly re-affirms its determination to press ahead with the
democratic agenda of delivering real change to the people of Zimbabweans. We
are not intimidated, we will not waiver. We are committed to deliver the
change that Zimbabweans want and no amount of terror or intimidation will
Madzore’s lawyer, Gift Mtisi of Musendekwa and Mtisi Legal
Practitioners confirmed the arrest of Madzore whom he said was being
interrogated by the police led by Detective Chief Inspector Clever Ntini
from the Law and Order Section at the Harare Central Police
The arrest of Madzore brings to 27 the total number of Glenview
residents and MDC members who have been arrested and charged in connection
with the murder of Inspector Mutedza, who lost his life in Glen View on May
Eight Glenview residents have since their arrest been detained
in prison after High Court Judge Justice Tendai Uchena dismissed their bail
Seven MDC-T activists are still in remand prison, over 4 months
after being arrested for the death of a policeman in the Glen View suburb of
Harare. The seven, arrested as part of an initial group of 26, were on
Wednesday this week further remanded in custody to 19th
Inspector Petros Mutedza was killed at a night club in Glen View
after an alleged altercation with vendors and patrons. Residents described
him as a notorious thug who robbed Chipangano gang
their wares, demanded bribes and was deeply unpopular in the area. Following
his death a politicised witch hunt saw dozens of MDC-T activists being
arrested as ZANU PF sought political mileage from the incident.
police claim Mutedza was murdered by MDC-T members who held a meeting at the
pub, despite evidence that many of them were not even at that location. A
total of 26 activists were arrested on different dates, with many of them
later granted bail. The remaining seven were denied bail at the High Court
in July and they have since made an appeal to the Supreme Court. But the
case is yet to be heard.
Meanwhile the MDC-T on Wednesday said its
National Youth Assembly chairperson, Solomon Madzore, who was arrested on
Tuesday, has now been transferred from Rhodesville Police Station to Harare
Central Police station for interrogation. Madzore was arrested at his
Waterfalls home “again on cooked up charges of murdering the Glen View
police officer,” the MDC-T said.
The spokesperson for the MDC-T Youth
Assembly, Clifford Hlatywayo, told SW Radio Africa that the arrest of
Madzore was deliberately timed to coincide with a strike by prosecutors and
law officers which began on Wednesday. Most cases set for trial were
postponed after the law officials went on strike over salary discrepancies
between them and magistrates.
Hlatywayo told us the idea was to keep
Madzore locked up for as long as possible and weaken the youth assembly in
its attempt to mobilise supporters for possible elections next year.
HARARE – Next week’s visit to Zimbabwe by Archbishop of
Canterbury Rowan Williams is meant to show solidarity with the southern
African nation’s persecuted Anglicans, the local church said.
Bishop Chad Gandiya said the October 9 visit by Williams – the ceremonial
head of the world’s Anglicans -- was to show support for the dioceses of
Harare and Manicaland that are under siege from their ex-communicated former
"His visit is to show support to Anglicans in Zimbabwe,” said
Gandiya, who has had to conduct services in the open after church halls in
the capital were seized by former bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a top supporter of
President Robert Mugabe who unsuccessfully tried to withdraw the Harare
diocese from the worldwide Anglican communion.
Williams’ office has
said he has requested a meeting with Mugabe at which he is expected to plead
with the Zimbabwean leader to order Kunonga and another renegade bishop from
Manicaland to stop persecuting Anglican worshippers from the two
It was not clear last night whether Mugabe will meet Williams.
Mugabe is a staunch Catholic who is strongly anti-homosexual and will most
likely not be pleased that Williams has not used his position to campaign
against consecration of gay bishops in the Anglican Church.
has in the past said he personally has no problems with gay people being
made bishops as long as they remain celibate. But he has refrained from
endorsing gay bishops apparently for fear that could only help deepen
divisions among the world Anglican congregation.
When Kunonga and
former Manicaland bishop Elson Jakazi revolted against the Church of the
Province of Central Africa (CPCA), the supreme authority of the Anglican
church in the region, they claimed they were doing so because the mother
church supported ordination of gay priests.
However this is not true as
the Anglican Church in Africa is largely conservative and has strongly
opposed ordination of gay priests.
Kunonga and Gandiya were
excommunicated in 2008. A staunch supporter of Mugabe, who tried to use the
pulpit to defend the Zimbabwean leader’s controversial policies, Kunonga was
excommunicated together with several priests and other church leaders who
backed his revolt against the CPCA.
But Kunonga has with the backing of
government police and security agents been able to grab control of most of
the diocese’s church halls, the cathedral in Harare and several other
An application by the CPCA to reclaim its properties from
Kunonga’s is pending before the Supreme Court, Zimbabwe’s highest court. --
Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture David
Coltart has ordered Mash East Provincial Education Director to produce a
detailed report of school children and teachers who were evicted by
ex-communicated Anglican church leader Nolbert Kunonga in
“I have instructed
the Mashonaland East Provincial Education Director to prepare a report detailing
what happened to the teachers, headmasters and children. I got a very disturbing
report that teachers were physically beaten up. This is very disturbing as it
affects lives of school children,” said Coltart in an interview this
headmasters, teachers and priests for allegedly aligning themselves with the
diocese of his arch-rival, Chad Gandiya.
“I have said time
and again that politics should stay out of schools. What is happening in the
Anglican Church is not religious – it is politics,” Coltart
Harare, October 05, 2011 - The
Attorney General’s Office (AG) on Tuesday reportedly failed to draft an
urgent chamber application seeking to stop a potentially crippling work
boycott by prosecutors.
Informed sources told Radio VOP that the three
Deputy Attorney Generals (DAG)’s failed to draft the urgent chamber
application to file at the High Court seeking to declare as unlawful the
prosecutors strike which commenced on Tuesday.
The AG’s office has
three DAG’s namely, Prince Machaya in charge of civil division, Florence
Ziyambi in charge of criminal division and Nelson Dias, who oversees legal
The AG’s office had resorted to legal action to stop the work
boycott which started on Tuesday. The prosecutors are protesting salary
discrepancies between them and the country's magistrates. Magistrates who
now fall under the Judicial Service Commission earn around $700 while the
prosecutors get around $250 and yet they hold the same qualifications as
“They (AG’s office) had no choice but to hire Mlotshwa
(Gerald) to help draft an urgent chamber application to declare the strike
unlawful after the deputy AG’s who are only in office failed to do that,”
said the sources.
The Zimbabwe Law Officers Association, which represents
the prosecutors, has vowed to defy threats and intimidation targeted at them
by their superiors.
Dereck Charamba, the secretary general of Zimbabwe
Law Officers Association (ZLOA) said: "They are using unqualified staff to
act as prosecutors. These bogus people have been remanding accused people.
We will only go back to work when they raise our salaries are on the same
level with prosecutors," Charamba said.
"We recieved the same
training with magistrates and we want the salaries to be the
Charamba said magistrates' salaries were reviewed upwards in the
past month but prosecutors salaries were not reviewed which resulted in them
striking. Magistrates now fall under the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)
while prosecutors have remained under the Public Serivce Commission (PSC), a
body for all other civil servants.
Zimbabwe prosecutors once went on
strike together with magistrates in 2007 when the country was still using
the local dollar hit by running inflation of over a billion.
said the prosecution department has witnessed many resignations because of
the poor salaries in the past months. He said; "Over 20 prosecutors handed
their resignations in the past two months, a sign that things are not
A Cape Town based refugee rights group has said that deportations of
Zimbabwean nationals have begun, despite denials from the South African
According to rights group PASSOP, the South African
department of Home Affairs has sent out directives about the immediate
resumption of deportations of undocumented Zim nationals.
reports in Zimbabwean media this week, which quoted officials from the Zim
Immigration Department as saying this directive had been received.
Tuesday SW Radio Africa spoke to Ronnie Mamoepa, the spokesperson for the
South African Home Affairs department, and he insisted that he was “unaware”
of such a communication. He refused to comment further and when asked if the
directive could have been sent without his knowledge, he repeated: “I am
unaware of this.”
A moratorium on Zim deportations has been in place
in South Africa since 2009. The government then launched the Zimbabwe
Documentation Project (ZDP) last year, to try and regularise the stay of as
many eligible Zimbabweans as possible. About 275 000 applications were
received and the government said it would only resume deportations when the
process was finalised.
The project is still in its final stages, and
officials from Home Affairs have told civil society groups involved in the
process that they would be notified of the project’s conclusion. This
position was also stated during a parliamentary session in Cape Town earlier
But according to PASSOP’s Braam Hanekom, these promises have
only been “lip service.”
“Through our investigations we have
discovered that these directives to resume deportations have been sent.
Clearly civil society has been undermined,” Hanekom said.
More than a
million Zimbabweans are said to be in South Africa currently, meaning
hundreds of thousands now face deportation. Hanekom explained that the
timing of this “silent” decision is particularly bad, because of the
situation waiting for people back home in Zimbabwe.
“We don’t think
Zimbabwe is in a situation that can be called ‘stable’. There is another
election on the cards and we believe violence is very likely,” Hanekom
This apparently clandestine decision comes as South Africa’s ANC
government has faced some of the strongest criticism yet, for what appears
to be a lack of concern for human rights.
On Tuesday South African
peace leader Bishop Desmond Tutu slammed the ANC government for being “worse
than apartheid,” after it failed to approve a travel visa for the Dalai
Lama. Tutu said: “This government, our government, is worse than the
apartheid government, because at least you were expecting it with the
apartheid government.” Tutu also told ANC leaders to “watch out” and warned
them about becoming too complacent as the country’s chosen
“Well, (Hosni) Mubarak had a large majority. (Muammar)
Gaddafi had a large majority,” he said, referring to toppled Arab leaders in
Egypt and Libya. “One day we will start praying for the defeat of the ANC
government. You are disgraceful.”
The Tibetan spiritual leader had
been invited by Tutu to deliver the opening lecture at his 80th birthday
celebrations. But the ANC government delayed granting the Dalai Lama
permission for so long, that he eventually canceled his trip.
Africa had previously denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a 2010 peace
conference also staged by Bishop Tutu along with former Presidents Nelson
Mandela and FW de Klerk. At the time it admitted acting out of deference to
China, which views the Tibetan leader as a threat.
A spokesman for the
Tibetan government-in-exile said this week the South African government had
once again acted out of fear of angering China.
“We are very disappointed
that a sovereign nation like South Africa would succumb to Chinese pressure.
It is a great pity,” said a spokesman.
Public hearings to scrutinize candidates
who applied for commercial radio licenses from the Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (BAZ) are scheduled to begin this month, amid concerns by media
groups and the MDC-T that real reforms have not yet been
BAZ called for applications five months ago offering two
commercial radio licences, and an estimated 15 applications were received
from aspiring broadcasters. No progress was made until two days ago, when
BAZ announced the public hearings would begin on October 18th. Several
applicants have reportedly been shortlisted and results will be announced in
the next few weeks.
The public hearings will give ordinary
Zimbabweans and media groups an opportunity to challenge the suitability of
applicants and their background.
However concerns remain that the
hearings are just window dressing, timed to give the impression the unity
government is tackling media reforms required by the Global Political
Agreement (GPA), ahead of elections due in the country. A report that says
licenses have already been issued is due to be presented to the United
Nations by the Ministry of Justice this week.
Murisi Zwizwai, Deputy
Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, told SW Radio Africa that the
inclusive government is “very concerned” about the lack of seriousness in
ZANU PF regarding media reforms.
Zwizwai explained that the BAZ board has
not been reconstituted as agreed to by the political parties. He also
pointed to the existence of repressive legislation such as the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy (AIPPA), saying it shows a lack of
political will to make real changes.
“We are saddened by this smokescreen
to deceive the general populace that reforms are being implemented, using
this piecemeal approach to fulfill the GPA,” the deputy minister
He added: “There is a total blackout of the MDC on public media,
negative reporting and hate language against the person of the Prime
Minister and officials in the MDC formations.”
Zwizwai accused the
public broadcaster ZBC of “exulting” Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF. He also
criticized the Information Minister Webster Shamu, for threats he has made
to foreign media, accusing them of a regime change agenda.
agenda (regime change) is breeding within ZANU PF as well and WikiLeaks
showed that most senior officials in the party want Mugabe to go,” he
Meanwhile The Daily News newspaper has exposed an alleged plot
to award the two commercial radio licences to the state print media and to a
company owned by a top Affirmative Action Group (AAG) official.
paper quotes “government sources”, who said the move to award radio licences
to ZANU PF allies “is a ploy to convince SADC” that Zimbabwe was fulfilling
the GPA requirement for tangible media reforms.
Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe has described
the Government of National Unity as unworkable and a tug-of-war between Zanu
(PF) and her MDC party. 05.10.1109:16am by Fungi
She told an MDC youth meeting recently in Chitungwiza that
Zanu (PF) was “bent on frustrating progress”.
Government it is not working,” said Khupe, reflecting the growing
frustration within the MDC as haggling over outstanding issues drags on
while SADC the mediators seem incapable of enforcing a lasting solution to
Despite having won the election in 2008, Zanu (PF) continues
to play second fiddle to Mugabe. Last week, senior civil servants snubbed
Tsvangirai who was on government business when he visited Mashonaland East.
The province is regarded as a Zanu (PF) stronghold.
premier said he would engage Mugabe over the behaviour of the government
Zanu (PF), which has control of key government departments
such as the Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of Mines and also State
Security, has been reluctant to institute any institutional reforms in the
partisan security forces.
No minister or legislator from the MDC has
been allowed access to the controversial Chiadzwa diamonds fields where Zanu
(PF) is allegedly looting and stashing a war chest ahead of elections next
year. The Mines ministry has not channelled proceeds from mining activities
to the treasury.
Khupe said that the only solution was free and fair
elections and urged people, particularly youths who constitute 60 percent of
the population, to register as voters.
The MDC is adamant that
elections will only take place after the new constitution is in place, as
well as agreed election roadmap that among that ensures the outcome of the
election will be respected by all concerned.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on
Monday piled pressure on President Robert Mugabe to discipline senior civil
servants who are refusing to respect the office of the Prime
Minister. 05.10.1110:30am by Fungi Kwaramba
Speaking after last
week’s tour of Mudzi, Mutoko and Murewa to asses the needs of the people
ahead of the budget presentation by Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Tsvangirai
expressed concerns over the behaviour of some top civil servants who
boycotted the government programme.
“I was in Mudzi yesterday and the DA
disappeared and here again (Murewa) the DA has disappeared, this does not
look well for the inclusive government,” said the PM.
servants have continued to treat Tsvangirai’s office contemptuously Mugabe
has made no attempt to rein them in.
“We need maturity among our civil
servants,” added the PM. His spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka, confirmed the
meeting. “Some civil servants are running government programmes as members
of Zanu (PF).”
Permanent Secretaries in the government who were appointed
to their current posts unilaterally by Mugabe have also been a thorn in the
flesh for the premier, with some publicly attacking his office. Here again,
Mugabe has remained silent.
While Tamborinyoka could not divulge the
outcome, he said that the meeting was fruitful.
The South African facilitators in Zimbabwe’s political crisis have
been urged to ensure that the Diaspora will be able to vote, as part of a
roadmap towards elections.
The Diaspora vote has been completely
excluded from talk of reforms in Zimbabwe, despite more than four million
Zim nationals said to be living out of the country. Instead, only government
officials have been given permission to vote outside the
The Johannesburg Zimbabwe Exiles Forum has now met with
South Africa’s Lindiwe Zulu, the chief facilitator in President Jacob Zuma’s
mediation team. The Forum’s Executive Director, Gabriel Shumba, told SW
Radio Africa this week that Zulu has promised that the facilitation team
“will do all we can to assist” in getting the Diaspora voting
“Ambassador Zulu told us that they are going to meet with the
principals in the unity government later this month, and she said she will
raise some issues for clarification, including the Diaspora vote,” Shumba
He added: “The Diaspora’s right to vote is a fundamental one
that we are not requesting but demanding. Any election without considering
the vote of the displaced communities in the Diaspora is
Meanwhile Zulu told that same meeting that Security Sector
reform is another issue set to be raised with Zimbabwe’s government
principals later this month. She said that all the necessary reforms for a
free, fair and democratic election must be made, including reforms to the
“holy cows” like the Security Sector. Zulu added that what Zimbabweans want
is “hope, security, political space, freedom, human rights and leaders that
keep promises and are accountable to their people.”
HAHARE - Government has suspended the proposed ban on the
importation of second hand vehicles of more than five years till further
The Minister of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural
Development, Nicholas Goche said after wide consultations, the proposed ban
on the importation of second hand vehicles has been suspended until the
economy has fully recovered.
“We have been persuaded to suspend this
aspect of the Statutory Instrument. So the proposed ban on the importation
of vehicles that are five years old and above, that has been suspended,"
Statutory Instrument 154 of 2010 had also proposed the ban on
left hand driven vehicles on the country’s roads.
Goche said with
effect from the first of November this year, there will be restriction on
the importation of these vehicles but those already in the country will be
allowed to be on the roads up to the end of their lifespan.
“The ban on
the importation of left hand vehicles will remain, but we have made a
concession that those vehicles already in the country will remain on the
roads,” Minister Goche added.
Minister Goche said the Statutory
Instrument was put in place in anticipation that the economy would have
improved and banks will be offering loans to individuals and
However, there has been little economic expansion and
government saw it fit to suspend the ban until the economy is fully
Ninety-nine year land leases offered to new
farmers could be terminated should the beneficiaries fail to utilize the
land for two consecutive years, the ministry of lands officials said over
the weekend. 05.10.1109:46am by Jane Makoni
The government gave
99-year lease letters to a few top party and government senior officials
believed to have the capacity to fully utilize acquired large scale A2
“I hope you are aware that there were not many farmers who
benefitted from the 99-year lease facility. The long lease on its own was no
guarantee that one may do as he pleases with the allocated land. Should a
farmer let the farm lay idle for two consecutive years, he risks losing the
land to the government.
Before a farmer receives the 99-year lease
offer, he cannot tamper with structures left at the farm by the former
owner,” said an official at the ministry of lands exhibition stand at the
Mashonaland East Provincial Show.
Contrary to the regulations, new
farmers went on to vandalise property left by evicted white commercial
farmers soon after invading the farms. No serviceable infrastructure was
left on most of the occupied farms.
The official said should the
beneficiary of the 99-year land lease pass on before the lease period
expires, his living dependents may approach the Lands Ministry and sign
relevant agreement papers to inherit the property.
Farmers interested in
benefitting from the land reform programme are required to express their
interest by way of an application letter through the ministry of lands.
Applications are vetted by a committee made up of government officials,
traditional leaders and War Veterans, among other stakeholders.
the application is approved, the applicant is given an offer letter for the
land applied for. After proving to the ministry of land inspectors that he
is a capable and productive farmer, the farmer is offered a 99-year lease
“Composition of the vetting committee membership compromised
the land redistribution exercise with mainly Zanu (PF) supporters
benefitting. In fact, the exercise was regarded as a Zanu (PF) project used
to thank party cadres for standing by Mugabe during his dark days as head of
state, hence the inclusion of war veterans in the vetting process,” said a
resident, Stephen Chamunorwa, who was denied the opportunity to access land
as he was a known MDC activist.
State security agents tortured a
diamond dealer until he passed out to make him confess to working with
MDC-99 leader Job Sikhala in shady Marange diamond deals, a Magistrates
Court heard on Friday. 05.10.1107:22am by Chief Reporter
state accuses Sikhala, the leader of a breakaway MDC faction, of kidnapping
diamond dealer Mapurisa Tonderai Kuzipa in what the MDC-99 leader says is a
Prosecutors claim Sikhala gave Kuzipa money to buy
diamonds, but he allegedly did not supply the precious
Kuzipa, who came to court under the escort of 10 police and
intelligence operatives, delivered stunning testimony, in which he denied
ever having any relations with the MDC-99 leader or receiving any
Kuzipa told the court that police and intelligence operatives
tortured him until he lost consciousness to force him into making a
confession implicating Sikhala.
He said he was forced by Zimbabwe
Republic Police investigating officers to sign the affidavit they sought to
use to establish a basis for a case of kidnapping against Sikhala after the
"If the government has wars to fight with Sikhala, or
wants to kill him, they should fight by their own means and leave me out of
these battles,” Kuzipa told a full court.
"I never reported this case
but was forced by police to come and appear as witness in a case I don’t
Repeated efforts by the state prosecutor to intimidate and
deter Kuzipa fell through. The state attempted to prove that Kuzipa was a
“compromised” witness when he was taken through cross examination, albeit
The prosecutor said Kuzipa implicated Sikhala voluntarily
during questioning. Kuzipa, who says he was tortured into implicating
Sikhala, has written to the attorney-general saying he has no evidence to
give against the MDC-99 leader.
The other State witness, Tichaona
Mupfukudzwa, has skipped the border, thwarting a bid to pressure him into
giving evidence against Sikhala. Sikhala was arrested in February and
tortured during a 7-day incommunicado detention.
For seven months the
state had failed to bring the two witnesses to court, prompting Sikhala to
apply for refusal of further remand.
Kuzipa was then abducted and
tortured into implicating Sikhala when the trial opened on Thursday. The
party slammed the "dirty and illegal tactics of the police and the office of
the Attorney General, as exposed openly by their own state
"We salute Kuzipa for honestly refusing to be an accomplice in
the sinister plot by the state and hope that justice will prevail," MDC-99
said in a statement.
The British Ambassador to
Zimbabwe Deborah Bronnert met Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara in
Harare today. 05.10.1102:03pm by Staff Reporter
Bronnert said “I paid a useful and productive courtesy call on DPM Mutambara
where I updated him on the United Kingdom’s (UK) support of US$130 million
to ordinary Zimbabweans, which is the UK’s largest support to Zimbabwe ever.
The support is being channelled through the Department for International
Development (DFID) to reach millions of Zimbabweans, particularly women and
Ambassador Bronnert and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara
discussed the UK and Zimbabwe’s strong links and the potential for a growing
economic relationship in particular. Ambassador Bronnert noted that
bilateral trade between the UK and Zimbabwe has increased by 85%, during the
first five months of 2011 against the comparative period last
Regarding indigenisation, Ambassador Bronnert said “The UK fully
supports constructive and progressive measures for economic empowerment. But
several British and other international companies have expressed concerns to
me about the uncertainties surrounding the current indigenisation
legislation and how it will be applied in Zimbabwe in the future. This
current uncertainty is unfortunately acting as a disincentive for companies
to provide the kind of investment which Zimbabwe needs.”
Bronnert and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara agreed on the importance of
implementation of the reforms envisaged in the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) ahead of elections. The Ambassador reaffirmed the UK’s support for the
Government of National Unity and said that “the UK will continue to support
the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people for a prosperous and democratic
Zimbabwe through credible, free and fair elections. The UK will work with
any of the parties who form a government with a legitimate mandate from the
On the issue of the EU’s Restrictive Measures, the Ambassador
noted that the EU High Representative Cathy Ashton had said that the
Measures would be kept under review as there is concrete progress in the
implementation of the GPA leading to credible elections. 35 individuals were
removed from the list of Measures in February 2011.
Zimbabwe’s milk production is in decline due to the
reduction of milk producing cows, an official has
said. 05.10.1107:33am by Tony Saxon
There used to be 200 000
milk producing cows in the country but now there are only 38 000.
Commentators said President Robert Mugabe’s chaotic land reform
seen dairy farming crumbling, as the resettled farmers slaughtered
the dairy cows to sell the meat, while others did not have the dairy farming
Nestle Zimbabwe country manager, Kumbirai
Katsande, said Zimbabwe should resuscitate the dairy industry to stimulate
“This will see the steep producer price of milk which
farmers are charging going down. The dwindling milk production over the
years has caused the rise in milk producer prices. Our Zimbabwean milk is
very expensive as a result we are now importing from South Africa to
supplement local supplies,” he said.
Katsande said Nestle’s milk
processing line was running at 30 percent capacity utilization.
said: “In addition to lowering production costs, resuscitating the dairy
industry will also ensure adequate provision of some milk products which are
currently in short supply.”
The supply of fresh
milk is essential for Nestlé’s operation in Zimbabwe
by Andrea Ornelas,
Swiss food giant Nestlé, like other multinationals, faces
losing the right to operate in Zimbabwe under a controversial reform known
as the indigenisation law.
The Zimbabwean authorities say 700 foreign
firms have not met the legal deadline to sell majority shareholdings to
locals, and face serious consequences. Nestlé, which has Swiss support, says
it is still in talks with the authorities.
Under the indigenisation
law, which was enacted in March 2010, any foreign company with assets valued
at over $500,000 (SFr453,000) must sell 51 per cent to indigenous
Nestlé, along with Barclays Bank, Cargill and British
American Tobacco amongst others, had until September 25 to comply with the
law or risk losing their license to operate in the country.
world’s biggest food group confirmed to swissinfo.ch that the Zimbabwean
government intends to force it to sell 51 per cent of its assets, but gave
“Nestlé Zimbabwe proposed an indigenisation plan in
November 2010 to the Zimbabwean authorities which is in line with the
principles of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act,” said Nestlé
spokeswoman Melanie Kohli.
“Later we responded to the letter received
from the indigenisation minister on August 18, 2011, and have remained in
constant contact with the authorities since then.
“We are confident
that our proposal will contribute to the growth of the Zimbabwean
On September 29 a Zimbabwean official declared that 700
foreign-owned firms had not complied with the law.
defying the law should prepare for “serious consequences”, including the
“cancellation or suspension of their licence and heavy fines”, said Wilson
Gwatiringa, head of the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Buy from me
Nestlé’s recent relationship with President
Robert Mugabe’s government has been difficult. The firm has been present in
Zimbabwe for 50 years. It employs some 200 people in its factory in the
capital Harare, which produces cereals and powdered milk for the local
In 2009, the factory was forced to close temporarily following
pressure from government authorities to purchase milk from certain suppliers
which were not under contract by the company.
Nestlé’s operations in
Zimbabwe came in for severe international criticism, when it was learned
that one of its suppliers was Gushungo Dairy Estate, owned by Mugabe’s
family. The farm had been seized from its former owners under the
government’s controversial land reform programme.
On October 1, 2009
Nestlé announced it would stop buying from the farm and the factory was
re-opened on December 31, 2009 after assurances that the government would
not interfere in its operations.
government is championing the ownership law, dubbed the final phase of
"economic emancipation", after controversial land reforms targeting
white-owned farms a decade ago. It says it is unacceptable that foreigners
own the country’s riches.
The world's leading platinum miner, Anglo
American Platinum, number two producer Impala Platinum, and Rio Tinto, which
operates a diamond mine, are some of the major foreign firms operating in
But critics see the law as a way for the government to squeeze
cash out of foreign firms and say the money will go to top officials, not to
ordinary people, who rank among the poorest in the world.
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is a partner in the fragile coalition set up
two years ago after disputed 2008 elections, and who has clashed with Mugabe
over the ownership policy, says the law is hurting investor confidence and
"The warped indigenisation policy has eroded investor
confidence and created a sceptical international business community that has
developed a wait-and-see attitude," Tsvangirai told reporters on September
The Swiss foreign ministry says it is
following the issue closely.
“Our embassy in Harare will support Swiss
interests where possible,” said spokesman Stefan von Below.
Nestlé’s future in Zimbabwe remains uncertain and Bern’s relationship with
Harare offer’s few advantages.
Switzerland imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe,
which came into force in March 2002, following allegations of electoral
fraud and human rights abuses.
The sanctions include an embargo on the
export of military materiel and items that could be used for repression, and
the freezing of assets belonging to Mugabe and his immediate
Some 198 people and 31 companies are covered by the financial
sanctions and a travel ban forbidding entry to or transit via
It is now patently clear that the police are unable
to contain the violence and criminal activity of the Chipangano Gang in
Harare. The Zanu (PF)-supporting police hierarchy has for years instructed
junior cops to stand aside while these criminals harassed MDC supporters in
the suburb of Mbare. 05.10.1106:47am by Editor
The gang has
now grown in numbers and widened its criminal activities. It has transformed
itself into a real mafia – running protection rackets, extorting money from
companies, forcibly taking over businesses and, for good measure, beating up
MDC supporters and evicting them from their homes in order to maintain its
Zanu (PF) credentials.
The Chipangano mafia has grown so large and become
so powerful that the police are unable to control the beast. In fact, Harare
policemen have been shown to be afraid of them. Some policemen have actually
been assaulted by members of Chipangano. No arrests have been
The gang listens to no-one – not even President Robert Mugabe.
Recently, while Mugabe was addressing Parliament, saying there should be no
violence in Zimbabwe, these thugs were outside the building beating up
people – including one policeman. Again, no arrests were made. And this
despite photographic evidence, which clearly identifies some of the thugs,
being published in various newspapers.
As the police have been shown
to be impotent, Zimbabweans are talking about what they can do to protect
themselves from these thugs. There have been some suggestions that people
should form vigilante groups to protect themselves and their businesses. But
this is no solution as the ZRP would undoubtedly swing into action against
them. And violence always begets more violence.
The failure by
government to stop Chipangano’s outrageous behaviour is a serious
dereliction of duty. A time will come when people will feel that they have
nothing more to lose and will take the law into their own hands.
that they have nurtured a monster that could destroy them, Zanu (PF)
secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa has disowned the thugs and would
like to see them arrested. We wait with bated breath to see whether Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri will obey his master’s voice, and whether
indeed he will be able to put a stop to this now widespread criminal
MISA-Zimbabwe is appealing to the media, politicians and Zimbabwean
citizens in general to desist from abusing the right to freedom of
expression and media freedom as evidenced by some of the personal
vilifications and vile name-calling that is manifest in the
opinion-editorial (op-ed) pages of both private and public
The right to freedom of expression and journalistic privilege
demands greater responsibility and integrity on the part of editors and
It is trite to note that MISA-Zimbabwe’s concerns come on
the backdrop of the Media Ethics Indaba held in Harare on 29 September 2011,
almost a week after the International Media Ethics Day which is commemorated
annually on 23 September.
Delegates at the indaba acknowledged the
decline in journalism ethics and professionalism in Zimbabwe and agreed that
corrective self-regulatory measures needed to be instituted as a matter of
It was agreed that there is urgent need to retain respectability
to the profession through strict adherence to the cardinal rules of
reporting truthfully without bias, embellishments or resort to personal
This calls for journalism that eschews hate speech,
xenophobia, tribalism, gender discrimination, racism and vile name calling
and intemperate language.
MISA-Zimbabwe is therefore urging
publishers, editors and journalists to seriously reflect on their
professional conduct as dictated by the codes and ethics of journalism in
order to retain and maintain the integrity and respect of the
Over the last
decade or more, many Zimbabweans fleeing their country have sought political
asylum in the United Kingdom. The UK holds Zimbabwe’s second-largest diasporic
population, and their shared language and historical linkages make the UK the
obvious destination for many seeking refuge from Zimbabwe’s political
As a country that
takes seriously its commitments under the Refugee Convention to protecting those
fleeing from persecution, the UK has provided and continues to provide shelter
to thousands seeking sanctuary.
But the UK has not
been entirely benign to those seeking political asylum. A wealth of recent
reports has exposed the grim reality of the UK’s asylum policy, detailing the
misery into which those seeking asylum can be thrown.
asylum in the UK face numerous and persistent barriers to having their cases
properly heard: serious flaws have been found in the adjudication of asylum
claims. The authorities tasked with administrating and assessing asylum cases
have been said to foster “a culture of disbelief”, which “denies sanctuary to
some who genuinely need it and ought to be entitled to it”. A
particularly helpful indicator, experts state, of such a culture is the
comparatively high success rate of appeals against initial decisions made on
individual cases, which stands at around 30%. The United
Nations High Commission for Refugees has provided public statistics for the UK
court’s 2008 record for the granting of refugee status and it has shown a
pattern of refusal and failure to a far greater degree than other European
countries such as Germany and France.
As a result of the
prohibitive barriers to the successful claiming of asylum, discussed below, the
asylum authorities are said to routinely issue “perverse and unjust
asylum, for one, meet significant cuts in legal aid, said to “have made it
difficult to access good legal advice and reduced the amount of time available
for legal representatives to work on an asylum claim”. Serious
problems, moreover, are presented with the more recent introduction of a
‘Fast-track’ system. Under the system, many cases are processed within a
prohibitively short period of time, sliced from what should be a number of
months to a matter of days or weeks. Often those whose cases demand serious,
prolonged attention – often those including claims of torture – are wrongly
placed in the system and rushed through. Moreover, those falling into the
Fast-track system are placed in government detention immediately, which with the
stringent time-constraints makes access to legal advice and the preparation of a
convincing case more urgent and more difficult.
difficulties are also faced in the collection of evidence and the comprehensive
recording (with rigorous translation, if necessary) of an individual’s case.
Individuals can be placed on the fact-track system regardless of the complexity
of their case, sometimes with no legal representation at all. When their cases
are refused, and no route of enforced return to their country of original is
available, they can be left in immigration detention indefinitely. More
worryingly, the system has been stated to place substantial burden on women in
particular, as a result of its lack of sensitivity to numerous gender-related
difficulties afflicting women seeking sanctuary. For one, it presents little
opportunity for the individual and her lawyer “to build trust, and women,
especially in cases involving rape or abuse, may only reveal relevant
information late in the process, or not at all”, with “limited opportunity to
access expert evidence, such as medical reports”.
However, what is
most worrying is the destitution into which those seeking asylum are forced.
Reports from across the country have shown “high levels of destitution and, in
particular, that many people have been left in this dire situation for prolonged
periods”. People are forced to live with nothing, for often
longer than a year, many with dependants or illness, alongside the anxious
struggle for refugee status.
The majority of
those seeking asylum are ineligible for government support: to receive it an
individual must be both destitute and have applied for asylum as soon
as is ‘reasonably practicable’ on arrival in the UK. Even when those seeking asylum receive support from
the UK government, it is as little as £5 ($8) a day – where a loaf of bread
costs £1 ($1.60). Adding to the difficulties faced, the money is given in the
form of vouchers, rather than cash, significantly restricting where, and which,
necessities can be purchased. Some are forced to walk long distances to find
supermarkets or shops which accept the vouchers they are given. Moreover, not
being permitted to use cash, as an ordinary person is able, compounds the
feelings of inferiority and degradation an individual seeking asylum is likely
to face. Housing is available, but the standard of accommodation is often low,
and very many people remain homeless.
The provision of
support, where it is even available, is often fraught with delay, leaving many
without assistance for several months at a time and when it is most desperately
Even worse, the
overwhelming majority of those seeking asylum are prohibited from supporting
themselves by finding employment. There are some who are ultimately granted the
right to work, but those permitted are dwarfed in number by those who must
remain completely dependent on hand-outs from others. Moreover, those denied
refugee status are entirely precluded from working, even after they have lost
their entitlement to any government assistance. Those seeking asylum, it so
often seems, are expected to wait, with no clear means of support, until their
cases are processed – but with only a meagre chance of security at the end. It
seems destitution is the ultimate destination for many, not
In fact, even
those who ultimately receive refugee status, often cannot escape destitution:
after years of waiting for the success of their cases, many find it difficult to
move on with their lives even after their refugee status is accepted. As found
by a study of London’s refugee population, a small minority are able to find
work ‘underground’ in the informal labour market, undertaking ‘cash-in-hand’
work said to be “out of necessity” induced by poverty, and “partly due to the
fact they face difficulties accessing the formal labour market”. It was
reported that “[m]any of the barriers to entering the formal economy were
related to them being refugees” including “insufficient knowledge of entitlement
to support and benefits, language difficulties, unfamiliarity with the way that
the UK job market operates, employers not understanding refugee entitlement to
work, limited recognition of skills and experience gained outside of the EU,
experiences of protracted periods without work during the asylum process and
delays in receiving paperwork when refugee status is
granted”. Many of those granted refugee status are therefore not
unlikely to remain as destitute as they were when they first entered the
The situation of
Zimbabweans continues to be almost uniquely problematic. Studies indicate that
the destitution of those seeking asylum can be linked to country of origin: 21%
of those found to be destitute by one study were Zimbabweans
alone. In 2009,
there were at least 8500 Zimbabweans seeking asylum in the UK who did not
receive any government support whatsoever.
Zimbabwe has remained (other than during a period of eight months in 2004) a
country to which the UK government does not forcibly return those denied refugee
status. Such individuals are free to leave the UK and return to Zimbabwe
voluntarily, and will often be granted aid packages by the International
Organisation for Migration if they do. However, those who refuse to return are
most often stripped of any public support, having exhausted what the UK
government sees as their entitlement to assistance in the pursuit of refugee
A study conducted
of 292 Zimbabweans seeking asylum in the UK presented alarming evidence of the
problems faced in the UK. 71% of those interviewed had no support whatsoever
from the UK government, whilst “[m]ore than a third of people had been unable to
buy necessities such as toiletries and clothing” and all were “heavily reliant
on friends and family for support, with charities, community and faith groups
also providing assistance”. Only 8% had been granted permission to work to support
themselves. Most worryingly, 30% had experienced homelessness at some
All across the
country, those seeking sanctuary are forced to live in limbo, with
ever-dwindling hope for any future outside the country from which they have
fled. A Zimbabwean man, in one study, was reported to have deliberately smashed
the window of a police car so as to spend a week in a jail, giving him a warm
bed and steady meals – for him a considerable improvement to the support he
would otherwise receive.
government assurances to the contrary, many believe that the destitution of
those seeking asylum is the deliberate policy of the UK government. It has been
stated that the UK government deliberately denies permission to work and erects
obstacles to government support so as to make the UK a far less attractive
destination for those seeking asylum.
This has been
through “legislation and regulations designed to reduce the number of people who
come to the UK to seek sanctuary”, “policy decisions to set the bar for
protection at the highest level permissible in law”, and “problems with a
decision-making process that too often denies protection to individuals who are
in need of it”. The persistent barriers to seeking asylum in the UK,
including the threat of destitution, are faced by those whose cases demand
serious attention: many who deserve sanctuary therefore fall away unnoticed,
without the help they so desperately require.
The issue of
destitution, however, remains only one amongst many. Large numbers of those
seeking asylum are held in immigration detention, facilities established to
detain those whom the UK government believes will flee its immigration
authorities or it hopes to quickly remove from its shores. They are run by
private security firms seeking to profit from immigration detention. Brook
House, a particularly large such facility near Gatwick Airport, was recently
condemned by the UK’s Chief Inspector of Prisons as “fundamentally unsafe”. It
was found to be rife with bullying, violence, and drug abuse, with “deeply
frustrated detainees and demoralised staff”.
cannot be forcibly removed, many have languished in immigration detention for
months or even years. This includes children, whose detention by the immigration
authorities has remained a contentious and as yet unresolved issue in UK
politics. This is despite repeated testimony from medical authorities that it is
associated with “post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, suicidal
ideation, self-harm and developmental delay in children”. It has also
been found that “in a considerable number of cases, families were detained when
there was little risk of them absconding, their removal was not imminent, and
they had not been given a meaningful opportunity to return voluntarily to their
countries of origin”.
healthcare remains another serious issue. Those seeking asylum already face a
high risk of severe health problems, coming from countries such as Zimbabwe in
which they have borne violent abuse or have failed to receive the medical
attention they deserved. The physical and mental problems that follow them to
the UK are often exacerbated, or further problems created anew, by the trials
they face in seeking sanctuary. This can be as a result of the poor quality
accommodation some receive, the stress of the legal issues they face, detention
in immigration facilities, or, worst, living through prolonged and intense
periods of destitution.
unlike UK citizens, those who have been refused refugee status do not have
comprehensive access to the UK’s free healthcare system. In 2004, the UK
government introduced charges for what is deemed ‘secondary’ healthcare, leaving
many to pay for aspects of their healthcare which they simply cannot afford.
Now, the only treatment Zimbabweans who have been refused refugee status can
receive is immediately necessary or urgent treatment – and this does not include
treatment for HIV/AIDS.
It has been stated
that “confusion about entitlement remains widespread and urgent and immediately
necessary treatment, including maternity care and cancer treatment, continues to
be denied to refused asylum seekers”. The same
report interviewed a Zimbabwean, refused asylum, who suffered from a rare form
of blood disorder similar to leukaemia and a recent heart attack, was informed
that he would be required to pay for all treatment in future.
The UK remains a
country to which thousands of individuals seek sanctuary from the persecution
faced at home. Zimbabweans, in particular, have looked to the UK to provide
refuge in what has been a decade of serious need. However, the policies of
successive UK governments have inflicted very real and persistent suffering on
those seeking asylum. This is a suffering borne by the many Zimbabweans who
reach the UK’s shores. It is clear that over the last decade the Refugee
Convention has provided a means of safety for thousands of those fleeing
ZANU-PF’s violence and repression. It has been less clear what kind of life
would await those coming to the UK in search of that safety. For so many
Zimbabweans, and so many from across the world, that life is very, very
different from the one imagined and hoped for as they fled.
Fit for Purpose Yet?, Independent Asylum
Commission, Interim Findings, 2008.
 At the End of the Line, Still Human Still Here
Campaign, 2010, pp. 17-18.
 At the End of the Line, Still Human Still Here
Campaign, 2010, pp. 15.
Perhaps it is unfair to
begin a story about a man as inspirational as Andy Flower with the
observation that he was once racist in his outlook.
Flower is lauded not
merely as an outstanding coach and former player, but for the bravery of his
stand against Robert Mugabe, wearing a black armband to mourn the death of
democracy in Zimbabwe.
But to understand the curious, complex and
revelatory journey of this remarkable man, as well as the parallel journey
of the nation he still calls home, we must rewind to his upbringing, first
in South Africa and then his cherished Zimbabwe.
It was a time when
Nelson Mandela was an inhabitant of Robben Island and when the colonialist
assumptions of Ian Smith held sway in what was then Rhodesia.
amazing how easily racist ideology is absorbed by young people,” he says,
shaking his head, when we meet at Lord’s. “I lived in South Africa until the
age of 10 and then moved to Rhodesia while civil war was still raging. The
idea of whites as superior to blacks was not just publicly stated, but
connived at in all sorts of subtle ways in both nations.
“It is a form of
indoctrination because you just don’t realise how your own ideas and
assumptions have been coloured by what you are told and the norms of the
culture you are living in. It was only when I got to my late teens and early
twenties that I first started to ask the question: ‘What the hell am I
thinking here?’ My views were very backward, which is deeply embarrassing to
The initial trigger for Flower’s racial awakening was a
trip to England as an 18-year-old. A principled young man who had been
brought up in a Christian household, Flower was given a priceless but
daunting opportunity to glimpse his own culture through the eyes of
outsiders. It left him confused and, in some ways, dazed.
really been looking forward to the tour of England,” he says. “We were a
casual cricket team called the Stragglers and I was billeted with a lovely
family in Esher. They had a son of my age and I remember having a discussion
with him about interracial relationships. I was truly astonished when he
said that he would contemplate having a non-white girlfriend. We argued for
hours one night about it. I began to realise something was deeply wrong with
“A year or so later I went to play cricket at Heywood Cricket
Club in Manchester. The local professional was John Abrahams, who comes from
a Cape Coloured background. He and his family were heavily involved with the
club. It should have been easy to see them for what they were: kind, decent
and rather magnificent people. But I had these powerful and conflicting
emotions going on, and hardcore beliefs to breakdown. It took
Flower’s candour is deeply moving, but it also speaks volumes
about his character. The willingness for self-examination, to ask brutal and
searching questions, has not only defined his moral and political journey,
but also his approach to sport. As he puts it: “Unless you are honest in
a way that is sometimes uncomfortable, you cannot learn from your mistakes.
That is something I have tried to inculcate in every England player, because
it applies as much to sport as to life.”
But even as Flower was
re-evaluating his deepest beliefs, his nation was gradually spiralling out
of control. Robert Mugabe, who had started out as President amid such high
hopes of reconciliation, had created nothing less than a gangster state. It
was not just administrative incompetence that brought Zimbabwe to its knees,
but the use of state-sanctioned terror.
By 2003, extrajudicial
punishment, endemic corruption and electoral intimidation — to put it
simply, the full horrors of de facto totalitarian rule — were firmly
established in Zimbabwe. Mugabe had lost all inhibition, using torture and
violence indiscriminately. With society nearing total breakdown, and with
starvation looming in various communities, the political establishment
turned its attention to the World Cup of 2003 as a new opportunity to shore
up its flagging legitimacy.
And it was at this point that Flower, once
again, found himself questioning many of the deepest assumptions of the
culture he lived in. “Human rights abuses had been occurring in Zimbabwe for
quite a while,” he says. “But you just don’t see things clearly when you are
embedded in a system. You just accept it as what happens to a nation in
transition. You are normalised into what is happening.
“But I was
jogged out of my complacency in 2003 by two things happening simultaneously.
A friend of mine [called Nigel Hough], who had played cricket for Zimbabwe,
phoned me up one day to say that he had had his land taken off him. He drove
me out to his farm to show me what had happened. It was a once-thriving
enterprise that supported the community, had a clinic and a school, and
employed several hundred people in the area.
“Now, it was rack and ruin.
No one was using the land, no one was generating income and nobody was
supporting those families. It was horrendous to see. He said: ‘Look at what
is happening in this country. You have a moral obligation to highlight
this.’ Once he had planted that seed, I thought: ‘Yes we do.’
same day I opened a newspaper — it was the only independent paper at the
time and was constantly harried by the Government. On the inside page was an
article about an MP who had been arrested and tortured in police custody. It
was a tiny article, hardly any space at all. And suddenly I was struck, as
if for the first time, by the sheer horror of living in a nation where
torture is so widespread it does not even make front page news.”
Flower had to search deep inside to confront his own racial assumptions as a
teenager, he knew that he would have to confront Mugabe in more public
fashion. Hough suggested a full boycott of the World Cup, but Flower felt
uneasy with the idea of pressuring younger players to join a protest that
would effectively end their careers.
So, along with Henry Olonga, the
first black man to play for Zimbabwe, he hatched the plan for the two of
them to wear black armbands.
“I asked Henry to a meeting to put to him
the idea of taking a stand,” Flower says. “Henry’s involvement was vital,
and it didn’t take him long to realise it was the right thing to do. Henry
is deeply principled and his willingness to join in gave the protest moral
authority. A protest by a white man alone would have been dismissed as a
colonialist gimmick. But with one black and one white, it told the story
that this was not about race, but about terror and brutality.”
dangers were obvious, but neither man flinched from what they had come to
believe was their duty. “We took advice from security people who told us
that we would be safe during the tournament — because we were in the public
eye — but not afterwards,” Flower says.
“The modus operandi of the
regime was to involve you in a car crash or to stab you during a fake
mugging. They told us to get out as soon as the competition was
Flower and Olonga’s historic stand took place on February 10,
2003, in the opening match against Namibia. They had kept news of the
protest to a small coterie of trusted friends to ensure that it was not
railroaded by the regime. Only at 9.30am on the morning of the match, with
the teams about to take the field, did the world find out what was about to
take place via a prepared statement. Images of the protest made front pages
in almost every continent.
“We were eventually knocked out of the
competition in a match in South Africa,” Flower says. “Henry did not go back
to Zimbabwe, he was too worried. He had already received death threats. I
went back for three days to clear up a few things and then left for good. My
family had already moved to England before the World Cup started. I haven’t
been back since.” Flower’s reputation as one of the outstanding coaches in
sport today, a man who inspires loyalty and admiration from his players and
staff, is unequivocally a consequence of the journey he has taken and the
lessons he has learnt. A young man who, by his own admission, lacked empathy
and perspective, he has blossomed into a leader who combines moral
seriousness with deep humanity.
It is no coincidence that under his
leadership, England players have been put through programmes designed to
challenge their perspective. The two-day trip to Flanders, to visit war
graves and attend a memorial service, is one of many examples.
have tried to grow leaders within our unit and that means broadening
perspectives and challenging assumptions,” Flower says. “It is only when we
are forced to look beyond ourselves that we really learn.”
When I ask
Flower whether he has ever wondered if cricket is rather a trivial thing to
devote one’s life to, he nods slowly before tackling the question head on.
“I feel very privileged to be in this job,” he says. “But I know that
cricket is not like devoting one’s life to charity. Cricket may be fun, but
it is not about saving lives or making the world a better
But for the first time in the interview he is mistaken.
Along with Olonga, he did use cricket to make the world a better place. And
those of us who witnessed their dignified and chastening protest in Harare
will not forget it.