By Tony Hawkins in Harare
Published: September 15 2010 16:03 | Last updated: September 15 2010 17:39
Exactly two years after Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, signed an
agreement to form a coalition with his opponents, the country’s government
is paralysed amid mounting calls for a new election to break the deadlock.
Mr Mugabe insists that a poll should be held next year: he has gone as far
as to “order” Tendai Biti, the finance minister from the Movement for
Democratic Change, the former opposition party, to find the necessary $200m.
The president’s curt directive to one of his former opponents illustrates
the balance of power within the coalition. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC
leader, may be prime minister, but real authority remains firmly in Mr
One MDC minister described his party’s position as “spectacularly powerless”.
In the 19 months since the coalition formally took office, Mr Mugabe has
blocked the MDC’s attempts to remove two deeply compromised officials from
senior positions: Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank, and Johannes
Tomana, attorney-general. The MDC has a narrow majority in parliament, but
the assembly has only been in session for 13 days this year.
Mr Mugabe has also imposed a law forcing all foreign or white-owned
companies with assets of over $500,000 to transfer 51 per cent of their
shares to “indigenous” Zimbabweans. This measure has in effect sabotaged Mr
Tsvangirai’s efforts to promote foreign investment.
“The leadership we have is incompetent, impotent and they are always
fighting each other all the time, while the country continues to suffer,”
said Simba Makoni, a former finance minister who ran against Mr Mugabe in
the 2008 presidential poll. “The only solution is an election.”
Mr Mugabe’s recent conversion to the cause of early elections has surprised
many analysts, who believe he would stand little chance of winning a new
poll. But there are signs that the 86-year-old leader is feeling his
Mr Mugabe suffered a rare public indignity in July when he stumbled and
almost fell over during a summit in Uganda. His security guards had to
intervene to help him descend a short flight of stairs. The president is
believed to have nodded off during a recent meeting with Zimbabwean
ambassadors. Although he gave an interview to the Reuters news agency last
week to dispel rumours of his collapse, a western diplomat in Harare said
that his health was on a “downward trajectory”.
Robert Mugabe is supported by aides as he leaves a Uganda summit
The president will turn 87 in February and he may have concluded that
leaving an election campaign until any later than next year would be too
risky. But the parties in the coalition have agreed that a new constitution
must be introduced before any election – and the process of drafting one is
months behind schedule.
Few doubt that Mr Mugabe intends to stay on as president for the rest of his
life. Senior officials in his Zanu-PF party have publicly suggested crowning
him their leader for life. The discovery of large diamond reserves in the
Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe will only reinforce his determination to
hang on, while maximising the financial rewards for his allies who keep him
Behind Mr Mugabe are hardline securocrats with much to lose if he were to
“Zimbabweans need to prepare themselves for the prospect of Mugabe becoming
life president,” said Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist at the
University of Zimbabwe. “It’s clear from his latest remarks that he is not
about to give up.”
Mining drives economic growth
Zimbabwe’s economy grew by 5 per cent last year – the first recorded
expansion since 1998 – and it should manage a similar increase in 2010.
While the country will have made good only about 10 per cent of the losses
incurred during more than a decade of self-inflicted recession, the mining
industry is emerging as the engine of this modest recovery.
Mining presently accounts for two-thirds of total exports and this figure
will almost certainly grow. Diamonds contributed only $25m last year, but
official forecasts suggest Zimbabwe could benefit from new discoveries and
earn as much as $2bn annually from the gems.
Tendai Biti, the finance minister, predicts mining output growth of 31 per
cent this year, boosted by Anglo American’s Unki platinum mine, which goes
into operation next month and will produce 60,000 ounces annually.
Other expansion projects are in the pipeline. Rio Tinto, the
Anglo-Australian miner, plans to increase gold production ninefold to
112,000 ounces annually, mostly by opening a new opencast mine. But most
future projects are bedevilled by uncertainty on ownership, tax and
Mutare, September 15, 2010 - A top military officer, Brigadier- General
Douglas Nyikayaramba said the army will not move out of the Chiadzwa Diamond
fields because doing so could result in a national security threat.
Nyikayaramba, the new commander of Three Brigade, said individuals and
organisations clamouring for the military pull-out were eager to cash in on
the chaos that would arise from the security lax at the diamond fields.
"We cannot just move out because some irresponsible people want us out,"
Nyikayaramba told journalists in this eastern border city.
"Those making such noises are people who are looking for cheap diamonds to
lay their hands on and possibly use the proceeds to finance illegal
activities and conflict which will catch up with the country in not a
distant future in another way. We were deployed here
to restore order which we are simply doing."
Soldiers have been accused by human rights campaigners for killing people in
the Chiadzwa area and other human rights violations. Human rights
campaigners say as many as 200 people, mainly illegal diggers were killed
during an army operation.
They have been accused of forced labour - forcing villagers to dig for
diamonds on their behalf. The soldiers manning the diamond fields have also
been accused of being part to notorious syndicates involving wealth
foreigners and daring dealers, who smuggle the precious stones from the
Chiadzwa and Charasika diamond fields.
The Kimberley Process has told the Zimbabwean government to ensure the
military is removed from the diamond fields.
Nyikayaramba said the police lacked the capacity to properly secure the
diamond fields hence the need for the military to maintain a presence there.
He said while the diamonds had the potential to foster economic growth they
also had the potential to cause a national security threat if not properly
"We look at security of the country from the physical, economic, social,
technological, and cultural and intellectual aspects. So we are much alive
to the dangers posed by the Chiadzwa diamonds," he said.
Nyikayaramba said the army moved into the diamond fields to stop foreign
nationals from getting the diamonds for a "song".
He said the foreigners were from countries such as Lebanon, the United
States, Israel, South Africa and Korea.
"I am proud to say that the military has brought sanity and order to
Chiadzwa. There are these cries from those who were fuelling the confusion
because had intended to continue to plunder and smuggle the gems,"
Nyaikayaramba said. "They did not want the area to be sanitised because they
wanted to continue getting the diamonds for a song."
However, he said the diamonds can only be properly secured after villagers
have been relocated.
By Tichaona Sibanda
15 September 2010
A total of 23 constitutional outreach meetings were cancelled in the last
week in some districts of Manicaland province, after ZANU PF supporters
resorted to using guns to disrupt the meetings.
'Last week at Bimha primary school in Nyanga ZANU PF supporters fired their
guns in the air to intimidate people there. Some of those who had guns were
positively identified as bodyguards to Hubert Nyanhongo, the ZANU PF MP for
Harare South,' Pishai Muchauraya, the MDC spokesman for Manicaland told us.
It seems the modus operandi of the ZANU PF thugs is to target villagers at
outreach meetings who make contributions that are deemed to contradict their
Muchauraya, who is also the MDC-T MP for Makoni South, told us Wednesday
five outreach meetings were cancelled in Makoni alone, in the last week.
'But in Chipinge, where the violence is worse, we had 11 meetings that were
cancelled while seven have been cancelled in Nyanga. We have reported all
these disturbances to the police but nothing has been done and not
surprisingly no one has been arrested,' Muchauraya added.
He said violence in Manicaland Province has escalated as war vets and
militia are assaulting and intimidating villagers into supporting ZANU PF.
Where ZANU PF supporters are outnumbered at outreach meetings, their
representatives on outreach teams now resort to boycotting the meetings,
forcing an abandonment of the proceedings.
'At St Theresa in Makoni West today (Wednesday) the meeting was aborted
because the ZANU PF people could not stomach what was being demanded by
people to be included in the constitution. They walked away from the meeting
and we saw them walking up a nearby mountain,' the Makoni South legislator
He added; 'The rules of the outreach meetings are clear that if any one
party in the inclusive government boycotts an outreach meeting, it will
force the abandonment of that meeting.'
'So I don't know how many mountains they are going to climb in the next few
days because all the meetings now on will be held in the heartland of the
MDC,' Muchauraya said.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
15 September, 2010
This week the coalition government that is currently running Zimbabwe
reached two important milestones. Tuesday was the end of the 30 day
deadline, suggested by South African President Zuma and facilitator of the
Zimbabwe crisis, to resolve and implement 24 of the remaining problematic
issues in the GPA. The MDC and ZANU PF agreed to this deadline at the South
Africa Development Community (SADC) summit in August in Namibia. Wednesday
ushered in the second anniversary of the signing of the Global Political
Agreement that created the so-called 'inclusive government'. But in two
years little has change for Zimbabweans.
Speaking to SW Radio Africa on Wednesday, Zuma's international relations
advisor, Lindiwe Zulu, said it was not South Africa's duty to ensure that
the issues agreed to are implemented. She said: "Ultimately at the end of
the day it is the role of the players in the GPA who have to make sure they
implement the things that they agree upon."
Zulu said that the impact of what happens in Zimbabwe is felt in South
Africa, so it is in their interests to push the GPA process as far as they
can. But then she admitted that the principles to the GPA had not yet
reported on their progress with the deadline and she had no idea when they
would be meeting to do so.
Zulu confirmed that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had met with President
Jacob Zuma on Wednesday, ahead of a summit on the economic future of
Zimbabwe that is to take place in Johannesburg on Thursday. Ironically,
Zimbabwe's economic future is directly linked to the implementation of the
Observers say it is not surprising that ZANU PF has not fulfilled its
obligations in the GPA, given Mugabe's ongoing blatant disregard of the MDC
by acting unilaterally on many occasions and the continued assaults and
intimidation of MDC officials and supporters.
A statement released late Wednesday by the MDC criticized what it called
ZANU PF's deliberate delaying of implementing the GPA. They demanded the
resolution of all outstanding issues: the unilateral re-appointment of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, the appointment of the
Attorney General, Johannes Tomana and the immediate swearing-in of Senator
Roy Bennett as the deputy Agriculture minister. They also called for the
immediate implementation of all agreed issues, including the Land audit,
security of tenure of land, security of persons and violence and the issue
of ministerial mandates.
By Alex Bell
15 September 2010
It has been two years since the Global Political Agreement (GPA) was signed
to usher in much needed change in Zimbabwe, but farm invasions are still
Wednesday marked two years since the agreement was signed by the leaders in
the unity government, who all agreed to create conditions to ensure
productive agriculture. The once bountiful sector has been destroyed by ten
years of land invasions, done under the guise of 'reform', to the benefit of
Robert Mugabe's cronies. The result has been that almost no farms are
productive, hunger is widespread and the population relies on imports and
food aid to survive.
But the GPA stipulated that the agricultural sector be restored to its
former glory, stating that the government leaders recognised "the need to
ensure that all land is used productively in the interests of all the people
of Zimbabwe." In article five of the GPA, the leaders agreed to a
comprehensive land audit, to work together to restore full productivity on
land, and to "ensure security of tenure to all land holders."
It was hoped this agreement would stop ongoing attacks against the remaining
commercial farming community, who, as Zimbabweans citizens, are also meant
to be protected under the GPA. But this has not been the case, and land
invasions continued to intensify even when the MDC was sworn into
Two years on and the situation remains hostile, with many commercial farmers
facing prosecution in the courts for farming their land. Other farmers
continue to fight often violent invasions, and many more have been forcibly
evicted from their homes.
Most recently, a Marondera farming family was evicted over the weekend by
land invaders who gave the family just hours to pack up their belongings and
leave. A listener told SW Radio Africa that the family had given up the
majority of their land in the name of 'reform' eight years ago, but this
clearly was not enough and over the weekend their home was seized too.
The local police refused to assist the family, calling the situation a
political one, not a criminal one. The police across the country have used
this same excuse repeatedly, leaving farmers with little protection. Not
even court orders protecting the farmers and their rights to their land have
been enough to stop farm attacks. In the most recent spate of invasions,
farmers with court orders appear to have been specifically targeted,
demonstrating clearly that there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe.
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has been trying to get a moratorium on
land invasions, and a Supreme Court ruling on the matter is expected later
this month. The CFU is trying to stop prosecutions against several of its
members accused of allegedly contravening Section 3(3) of the Gazetted Land
Act, by refusing to vacate farms illegally occupied by Mugabe's supporters.
The union contends that the prosecutions are "invalid and of no force" and
violate the constitutional rights of the farmers.
But there is doubt that the CFU will have much success, even if their
moratorium is passed, because there is no will to enforce the orders of the
This is another agreement contained in the two year old GPA that has not
Peta Thornycroft | Johannesburg 15 September 2010
The executive board of the striking Zimbabwe Pilots Association is going
through disciplinary hearings in Harare. The board's eight members have
been fired, according to Air Zimbabwe.
Well-placed aviation sources in Harare report that the eight pilots have
handed over their uniforms and other Air Zimbabwe paraphernalia in their
The 40 pilots employed by Air Zimbabwe went on strike last week to protest
what they say are unpaid allowances that have been outstanding for many
months. The pilots ignored a weekend deadline to return to duty.
Air Zimbabwe Board Chairman Jonathan Kadzura said Tuesday the airline
invoked the nation's labor laws against 40 striking pilots, but it is
unclear whether all have been fired.
Air Zimbabwe, like most Zimbabwe-government enterprises, has been in
financial difficulties for at least the past 10 years.
The airline says it has hired other aircraft and crews for its domestic and
regional routes during the strike. Its most profitable route is to London
and it has been diverting hundreds of passengers to the United Kingdom via
The pilots' strike is one of the first major work stoppages by civil
servants since the unity government came to power in February last year.
President Robert Mugabe and scores of his aides are due to fly Friday to New
York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting. Air Zimbabwe's fleet of
aircraft are old and the interiors are shabby but the airline has a good
Mugabe rejected accusations that he is in poor health in an interview last
week, but a lack of public appearances fueled further speculation that he is
ill and may not be in power much longer.
By Savious Kwinika, Correspondent / September 15, 2010
Johannesburg, South Africa
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is once again rumored to be experiencing
health problems and to have hired foreign doctors to treat him.
Sources from the diplomatic missions in Harare say medical equipment has
been installed at the president's home.
Mr. Mugabe, the oldest leader on the African continent, has hardly been seen
in public or in the media since a Reuters interview last Thursday, when he
claimed he was enjoying good health. Mugabe's assertion only further fueled
speculation, with various websites stating that the leader recently
"Yes, the rumors over his health could be true because we have not been
seeing him of late in public," says a minister in Mugabe's coalition
government, a member of the rival Movement for Democratic Change, who
declined to be indentified.
On Wednesday, Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba dismissed the rumors.
"As I am talking to you right now; the president is in good, very good
health," Mr. Charamba told the Monitor. "He is as fit as a British bulldog!
But it is not my business to chase up on propagated rumors doing the rounds
on the Internet. The truth is that the president is fit, and I am satisfied
with his health."
He vehemently rejected claims that Mugabe sometimes uses a wheelchair to
move around his official state residence.
But sources within the diplomatic community who spoke to the Zimbabwe
Situation website and The London Times newspaper insisted that Mugabe is not
healthy enough to prolong his 30-year grip on power. The sources reportedly
told the media, "Mugabe is an actor who can audition as a healthy and fit
man ready to rule, but his body has been patched up as many times in his
In a Reuters interview last week, Mugabe dismissed such claims as baseless
"I don't know how many times I die but nobody has ever talked about my
resurrection," Reuters quoted Mugabe saying. "I suppose they don't want to,
because it would mean they would mention my resurrection several times and
that would be quite divine, an achievement for an individual who is not
"Jesus died once, and resurrected only once, and poor Mugabe several times,"
"My time will come, but for now, 'no'. I am still fit enough to fight the
sanctions and knock out (my opponents)," he said.
Leading contenders to take over Mugabe's presidency include Defence Minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa and Solomon Mujuru, a former army chief whose wife Joice
is vice president. Both are hardline members of Mugabe's Zanu PF party and
have strong ties to Zimbabwe's security apparatus.
Mugabe has said that he intends to run in the presidential election that is
likely to be held next year.
benefits from a feeding programme
"It is surprising that the government has chosen to stop temporary teachers from resuming duty this [third] term, when it is well known that they form the bulk of teaching staff in rural areas," said Janet Chikawa, a teacher at a secondary school in Seke district, about 50 km south of the capital, Harare.
"At my school 10 untrained teachers did not come back, and as a result, six subjects are not being taught. Students spend most of their time doing nothing," she told IRIN.
"Stopping the temporary teachers also means overstretching the few qualified teachers, since we are being forced to teach extra subjects, some of which we did not study in college."
Chikawa and her colleagues have been demoralized by the extra workload, while their US$150 monthly salary has remained unchanged. She said some teachers were asking parents to pay extra in the form of chickens and maize, especially for pupils preparing to write final exams in the next month.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), said the government directive was "a complete disaster". The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) estimates a ratio of about 40 pupils to one teacher.
Hard hit rural areas
"There is a growing trend whereby the government makes decisions that harm students, and we wonder who has advised the authorities to bar temporary teachers. Rural areas are the hardest hit, and the more remote an area is, the less the number of qualified teachers there are at schools in that area," Majongwe told IRIN.
We have been informed that
there are schools where there are no teachers at all
Zimbabwe's education system - once regarded as one of sub-Saharan Africa's finest - has been hit by numerous shocks since 2000, brought on by the country's rapid economic decline, political violence, and the resulting migration of qualified teachers to neighbouring states, as well as further afield to countries such as Britain.
"It would be a miracle to find qualified teachers to fill the gaps left, but even if that were to happen, it would confuse the students, because a new teacher will not be able ensure continuity in the learning process," said Brighton Jaricha, a senior teacher at a rural school about 90 km northwest of Harare in Mashonaland West Province.
"I also foresee a situation whereby the government will reverse its decision, but it will be too late and there will be much confusion," he told IRIN.
"Teachers may decide to go on strike because their salaries are still low, and there are no indications that they be better any time soon. If that happens, it will reverse whatever little gains could have been made in education from last year , when our situation started to look up," Jaricha said.
Household chores replace education
The disruption in schooling is confusing Simpson Machaya, 10, who wants to return to school for the third term but instead is helping his father, a fresh produce seller, to tend their vegetable garden and milk their single cow.
"My son is pained that he is not attending school with the other children, and when he is not doing household chores he reads everything that he can lay his hands on because he loves school so much," said his father, Simon Machaya.
"It is unfortunate that Simpson, just like many children from this area, cannot attend school because the teachers who were teaching them have been told by the government not to report for duty. There is no problem with school fees because some NGOs are taking care of that," Simon said.
Humanitarian organizations run numerous education support projects, from assisting parents to pay school fees to providing school uniforms. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recently donated 13 million textbooks to 5,500 schools throughout the country, and also supplied free exercise books.
"The numerous efforts by the humanitarian community to help our education system are encouraging," Majongwe said. "But for as long as the government does not put its house in order, they will count for nothing."
By Alex Bell
15 September 2010
International diamond buyers who participated in a weekend auction of
Zimbabwe's stones, are believed to be bypassing the targeted sanctions
placed on Mugabe's inner circle, by having the sale in secret.
The auction went ahead over the weekend, but the Mines Ministry has refused
to make any details of the sale public. Officials had said last week that
future diamond sales in Zimbabwe would be private affairs for the benefit of
potential buyers. But observers have commented that the secrecy is
suspicious because of the corruption that is believed to still be rife in
Zimbabwe's diamond sector.
An international network of diamond buyers and suppliers meanwhile has also
said the lack of transparency in the sale could be allowing international
diamond traders to evade the law against dealing with companies on the US
and European Union (EU) sanctions lists. The US based Rapaport Diamond
Trading Network (RapNet) has cautioned its members against trading in stones
mined from the Chiadzwa diamond fields, partly because of the involvement of
groups on the US targeted sanctions list.
The parastatal Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) took over
Chiadzwa in 2006, after the legal title holders, London based African
Consolidated Resources (ACR), was forced off the claim at gunpoint. In 2009
the ZMDC joined forces with two South African owned entities to mine the
alluvial fields, in a partnership that will see the ZMDC take 50% of the
diamond profits. But the ZMDC is still listed on the targeted sanctions
lists of both the US and EU and, legally, American and European diamond
groups are restricted from dealing with the ZMDC.
RapNet's Chairman, Martin Rapaport told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that
"there seems to be an attempt to evade the law," by having the auction in
secret. He said the key concern over the secrecy "is where exactly the
diamond profits are going."
"Is it being used in bad ways? Is it being used by one political party to
abuse the supporters of an opposition group?" Rapaport said, adding: "By
making things non transparent you don't have to explain where the profits
are going, and it's difficult to hold people accountable if the wrong people
Rapaport continued by saying; "We don't think it is appropriate for our
members to be trading in diamonds whose profits will benefit entities on the
Zimbabwe has only just returned to the international trade market after the
diamond watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), in July agreed to certify
Chiadzwa stones as conflict free. Sales were banned last year because of
rampant human rights abuses that rights groups said qualified Zimbabwe's
stones as 'blood diamonds'. But the KP, which has been tasked with ending
the trade in blood diamonds, refused to ban Zimbabwe over the abuses and
instead gave the country six months to clean up its act and fall in line
with international standards.
The KP appointed a monitor to oversee the progress in making these changes,
and it was on this monitor's recommendations that diamonds sales resume. The
monitor, South African Abbey Chikane, has been accused of pushing for a
resumption of sales, despite ongoing rights atrocities.
Rapaport said on Wednesday they have not been able to confirm or deny that
rights abuses are continuing at Chiadzwa, because NGOs and investigators
have been repeatedly barred from the area. He explained that RapNet members
are being cautioned against buying the stones for this reason "because we
simply don't know if abuses are continuing."
"Should a RapNet member be found to be trading in diamonds involved in
severe human rights violations, they will be expelled from RapNet and named.
We strongly urge RapNet members to exercise extreme caution regarding all
Chiadzwa stones, even if the diamonds are legal in other jurisdictions,"
The Mines Ministry hosted the first diamond auction last month, not long
after coming to an agreement that paved for the way for the resumption of
exports under monitoring conditions. The agreement reached with the KP
allows the Mines Ministry to sell a stockpile of diamonds mined at Chiadzwa
over the past year. KP monitor Chikane last month certified a portion of
that stockpile as 'conflict free', allowing their legal sale.
An estimated US$72 million was generated from the sale, and it's understood
the government claimed US$30 million of the profits as the 50% shareholder
in the firms mining in Chiadzwa.
The sale went ahead despite the diamonds being at the centre of the ongoing
legal battle over the Chiadzwa site's ownership. The legal title holders,
ACR, has warned that the sale was in contempt of a Supreme Court ruling,
which ordered the firms mining at Chiadzwa to cease all operations until the
ownership fight was settled. The Supreme Court ruling came a few months
after the High Court ruled that ACR was the legal title holder, validating
the company's rights to mine at Chiadzwa.
But the High Court has since made a shock u-turn in revoking that earlier
ruling. Critics have said this was at the behest of the government to 'clear
the air' over the contested diamonds, in preparation for the second auction.
By Lesley Moyo
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 18:24
HARARE - Co-Minister of Home Affairs in the unity government, Kembo Mohadi,
slipped into Bulawayo Wednesday, and unveiled the late Joshua Nkomo's statue
at a low key event which was snubbed by the other government officials and
the city fathers.
Even the Nkomo family did not attend the ceremony putting credence to the
fact that it will be moved to another location or there will be an official
Mohadi untied the ropes and removed the black cloth covering the statue and
then left without going through an official ceremony.
In previous remarks, Mohadi had said that Mugabe was the only person who
could officially unveil the statue and Bulawayo residents were surprised to
see the minister do it himself.
The move is also set to infuriate Ndebele traditionalists and members of
Nkomo's family who wanted to make rituals before the erection and unveiling
of the statue of the late liberation hero.
"We believe as a family we should have been asked to perform certain Ndebele
rites at the site when they started digging as well as when the statue was
being erected,'' said Sibangilizwe, Nkomo's son.
The towering bronze statue which stands facing north depicts a smiling Nkomo
wearing a suit with his favourite traditional stick on his right hand.
There was commotion as residents gathered around to view the statue. Some of
them expressed dissatisfaction at the design, saying it does not resemble
the late Nkomo.
"This is not the Joshua Nkomo that we knew and who was our leader. We knew
him as a man of the people who would dress simply in a shirt and a pair of
trousers and used to wear his traditional hat and tuck his traditional stick
under his armpit. That's the picture we expected to see," fumed an elderly
man, who revealed that Nkomo was his hero.
The move by government to erect another similar statue at Karigamombe Centre
in Harare drew widespread criticism from people of Zimbabwe.
The choice of Karigamombe -- which means felling a bull -- smacked of Zanu
PF victory over the late Vice President's ZAPU party whose symbol was a
In 1982, Mugabe deployed North-Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to crush
rebellion by ex-Zapu guerrillas from Nkomo's party. Government forces were
accused of killing thousands of civilians in the crackdown.
In 1987, Mugabe and Nkomo signed a unity accord, leading to the integration
of PF-Zapu and Zanu-PF.
Nkomo died in 1999.
Written by Steven Nyathi
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 17:38
HARARE - Zimbabwe has lurched into one of its worst power crisis in decades,
according to senior government officials.
The failure by the government to approve capital expenditure programmes in
electricity generation is now evident, with the State power utility
announcing this week an extended load shedding schedule expected to run
Residents of Zimbabwe's poor ghettos have lived with power outages, they
have been accustomed to cuts ever since electricity was introduced in the
townships. However, the predominantly middle-class suburbs are also now
Zesa spokesperson, Fullard Gwasira, said Kariba was being put on planned
maintenance, but sources say the plant is plagued with shortages of cash and
spares; and poor working conditions.
"The maintenance work is expected to run up until before Christmas. Our
internal supply will be depressed during the period and, obviously,
load-shedding will increase outside the normal schedule," he said.
This week one of the subsidiaries of the State utility, the Zimbabwe
Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company fired the unit's managing
director, Ernest Muchayi, after failing to account for a US$25 000 loan he
allegedly gave himself and top managers
Recently, pressure group WOZA dragged an angry crowd to march in the city
centre against the power cuts, and waved placards outside ZESA offices in
Samora Machel Avenue. Others have called on the embattled electricity
minister to quit.
Officials say the blackouts are necessary to protect the national grid from
collapse as a result of higher-than-usual consumption because of winter.
ZESA has sought to reassure the public with a flurry of announcements about
bolstering power capacity in coming months, while urging consumers to reduce
Elsewhere, according to a Canadian mining firm, as economies in Zimbabwe and
other countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) start to
recover, further power shortages will inevitably follow.
In an analysis of the country and region's power generation capacity,
Caledonia's chief executive and president, Stefan Hayden, said reductions in
steel and ferrochrome production had meant less drain on the country's power
"This situation is already reversing and it is expected that the region will
once again begin to run short of electricity within the next six months or
so," said Hayden.
Hayden said the country urgently needed to construct large-scale, coal-
fired power stations. However, these take eight to 10 years to build and
they are extremely expensive.
Proposals for private-public partnerships had been suggested, but Hayden
said such projects took even longer to get off the ground than
government-sponsored projects due to "ideological inertia, vested interests,
and contractual complexities".
by Lebo Nkatazo
POLICE have visited two addresses in Harare looking for the Movement for
Democratic Change's treasurer Roy Bennett, his lawyer said on Wednesday,
expressing fears they want to "lock him up for a lengthy period".
Beatrice Mtetwa released two letters she wrote to Harare Police and the
Attorney General seeking to establish the reasons behind the police search
for Bennett, who was acquitted on a charge of treason in May.
Bennett was nominated to be Deputy Agriculture Minister by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai following the formation of a power sharing government in
February 2009. But President Robert Mugabe refused to swear him in,
insisting he had to be cleared of the treason charge first.
But even after he was cleared, Mugabe stuck to his guns, this time insisting
that he would not be making any more concessions to the MDC - including
swearing in Bennett -- until western sanctions on the country were lifted.
Mtetwa said police had visited Bennett's home in Harare, and a previous
address where he used to live, looking for him. The white former Chimanimani
MP - jailed for a year in 2004 for beating Justice Minister to the floor
during a racially-charged debate in parliament -- is currently out of the
"If it is alleged that he has committed an offence, we are entitled to be
advised of the full details of this in advance so that we come fully
prepared to give a warned a cautioned statement," Mtetwa said in the letter.
She added: "The refusal to divulge the reasons for which our client is being
sought is obviously meant to justify his being locked up, inevitably
followed by a court process which would ensure he remains in custody even if
the courts grant him bail under the abused section 121 of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act.
"To avoid all of this, we once again request that we be advised of the
reasons why a posse of the notorious CID Law and Order officers are stalking
his premises when it is known that he is currently out of the country.
"If you persist with your refusal to disclose the reasons for your actions,
we shall be obliged to approach the courts for appropriate relief."
No comment could be immediately obtained from the police or the Attorney
General's Office last night.
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe's state media said Wednesday that a fresh
outbreak of cholera in the country has killed one person and infected four
others in the south of the country, triggering fears of the resurgence of
the deadly water-borne disease that claimed more than 4,000 lives in 2009.
The official Herald daily said one person died of cholera last week in
Chiredzi town, about 300km north of Zimbabwe's border with South Africa.
The paper said the government has deployed Ministry of Health officials to
the area to contain the disease.
Health officials suspect the affected people contracted the disease in
Chipinge district in neighbouring Manicaland province where they were
attending a church service.
A previous cholera epidemic that coincided with a doctors' strike killed
4,288 people out of 98,592 infections between August 2008 and July 2009.
Written by Martin
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 18:03
There are rumblings of discontent in Manicaland over President Robert Mugabe’s
deliberate delays in sorting out the remaining global political agreement
(GPA) issues, writes TONY SAXON from Mutare.
Jacob Zuma, the South African President and SADC appointed mediator, last
month admitted that Mugabe’s delays “seemed to prolong the process
Miles Simango, chief executive of the Manicaland Farmers’ Development
Association said: “We are not happy about the implementation of the
political agreement. There are many potential commercial farmers who are
eagerly waiting to see Roy Bennett being sworn in a deputy minister of
agriculture. He is from Manicaland and they want him. They want his advice
on farming activities. President Mugabe has not been very clear on why he is
not swearing in Bennett.”
Simango added: “We are worried again by the stripping of ministerial powers.
The powers of ministers are being reduced by one person. We want to know
A commercial farmer interviewed by ***The Zimbabwean**** said: “Mugabe is
stubborn on some terms of the agreements. Why is Bennett not being sworn in?
Some of us are very close to him and we want his agricultural advice and
People have also been looking forward to the change of the governorship.
Tobias Matimati from the Mavambo Movement in Mutare said: “We have been with
Zanu (PF) governors since 1980 and we want some change.”
Service for governors ended on August 22, but Mugabe seems unwilling to
implement the agreement on governorship, which is supposed to be shared by
the three parties. The MDC (T) would provide five governors, Zanu (PF) four
and MDC (M) one.
Timothy Sakarombe, a member of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce,
said: “We have business people who want to invest and embark on business
ventures, but they cannot do that because of the issues of ambassadors and
permanent secretaries that has not been resolved."
Enock Chingaira, a businessman in Mutare, echoed these sentiments.
“There are other interested business people in and outside the country who
are willing to invest in the country, but they are holding back their
business initiatives as a result of the delay in fully implementing the
terms of the political agreement,” he said.
15 September 2010
MASEKO’S LAWYERS SEEK REPRIEVE IN SUPREME COURT
Lawyers representing tormented visual artist Owen Maseko on Wednesday 15 September 2010 filed an application in the Bulawayo Magistrates Court sitting at Tredgold building seeking a referral to the Supreme Court to determine whether or not the criminalisation of creative arts infringes on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.
The lawyers, Lizwe Jamela, Nosimilo Chanayiwa and Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed their application before Magistrate Ntombizodwa Mazhandu.
In their application the lawyers stated that Maseko’s fundamental rights, provided for in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, and other International Human Rights Instruments to which Zimbabwe is a State party were violated.
The lawyers want the Supreme Court to make a determination of the violation of the protection of the artist’s freedom of expression as enshrined in Section 20 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the protection of freedom of conscience, particularly freedom of thought guaranteed in terms of Section 19 (1) of the Constitution and the protection of the law as provided in terms of Section 18 (1) of the Constitution.
They also want the Supreme Court to determine whether or not bona fide works of artistic creativity can be subjected to prosecution under Section 31 and 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) without infringing on the provisions of Sections 18 (1), 19 (1) and 20 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In their application Jamela, Chanayiwa and Bamu argued that Maseko’s freedoms of expression and thought as guaranteed by Sections 20 (1) and 19 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe respectively were violated repeatedly at various stages when he was arrested in March after the police outlawed his art works and when the government recently invoked the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act to ban his paintings at the Bulawayo National Art Gallery. The lawyers allege that these rights are still being violated and continue to be violated through mounting these present charges against him.
The lawyers stated that art is a professional trade that can never lend itself to one conclusive interpretation and is an idea or thought that is developed over time, and then presented in visible form for public scrutiny.
Maseko, the lawyers stated only translated his thoughts (because he has the freedom of thought under the Constitution) into a visible form (because he has the freedom of expression). Like any artist, Maseko opened himself to legitimate comment and criticism.
They said Maseko’s exhibition is an expression of his artistic abilities, to which all persons who have an appreciation of artistic value are entitled to scrutinise, comment on or criticise as they deem fit.
The lawyers said the net effect of the current proceedings against the talented visual artist is calculated to curtail his freedom of thought (conscience) and expression.
Jamela, Chanayiwa and Bamu argued that the abrupt stopping and prohibition of his exhibition curtailed the artist’s right to freely express his views and opinion through art.
But State Prosecutor Tawanda Zvekare opposed the application seeking a referral to the Supreme Court.
Magistrate Mazhandu, who presided over the application highlighted that she would not be in a position to determine the matter without first having sight of the exhibits. She also pointed out that if she has sight of such exhibits, it may be prejudicial for her to continue presiding over the matter. Magistrate Mazhandu will therefore meet the lawyers and Zvekare in her chambers at 08:30 am on Thursday 16 September 2010 to consider the issues that she raised.
Meanwhile, Maseko was formally charged of the new charges after he signed a warned and cautioned statement at Bulawayo Central Police Station on Wednesday 15 September 2010.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Projects
Officer Communications&Information 6th 100 Nelson Mandela Av Tel “We Need
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15 September, 2010 05:17:00 News Day
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party has dismissed an opinion poll
conducted by the Public Mass Opinion Institute on the voting intentions of
The opinion poll, commissioned by NewsDay, predicted Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's MDC-T party winning the next general election with Zanu PF
coming second and the revived Zapu trailing a distant third, but 40% of the
electorate might not vote.
Didymus Mutasa, Zanu PF secretary for administration, dismissed the poll
results saying the institute was not "credible".
"It (Public Mass Opinion Institute) is really not a bona fide poll institute
and they will say whatever they want," Mutasa said. "We will go by the
actual result of the poll." Mutasa is also Minister of State for
The MDC-T said the survey was a true reflection of the political mood in the
Nelson Chamisa, the party's national spokesperson, said the poll results
were also a reflection of the voting pattern during the March 28 general
election, which was won by Tsvangirai. - News Day
15 September, 2010 04:15:00 by
Despite Robert Mugabe’s tantrums and all sorts of anti-Blair-Brown mantra,
the British Parliament continues to debate Zimbabwe’s problems in the House
of Lords and the following is the latest of such debates albeit under the
new David Cameron led coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Secretary of State was asked (regarding)— Zimbabwe
Damian Hinds (East Hampshire) (Con): What his most recent assessment is of
the state of the UK’s bilateral relations with Zimbabwe; and if he will make
Mr Mark Spencer (Sherwood) (Con): What his most recent assessment is of the
state of the UK’s bilateral relations with Zimbabwe; and if he will make a
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth
Affairs (Mr Henry Bellingham): We are doing all we can to support the
aspirations of the Zimbabwean people to a peaceful, prosperous and
democratic Zimbabwe. We will go on working with reformers in Zimbabwe and in
the region to maximise the prospects of achieving the reforms needed for
properly conducted elections.
Damian Hinds: I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. Does he agree
that despite the progress that has been made through the inclusive
Government, the situation in Zimbabwe remains critical and it is vital to
continue all moves towards free and fair elections? What role can he play,
working with the Department for International Development and others in the
region, in bringing that day closer?
Mr Bellingham: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning DFID, because
its aid budget to Zimbabwe, at £60 million, is the largest it has ever been.
All DFID bilateral funds continue to go through the UN and non-governmental
organisations, and regular monitoring and robust processes are in place to
ensure that those funds go where they are meant to go. None of the funds go
directly to Zimbabwean Government Departments.
Mr Spencer: What can the Government do to ensure that any referendum next
year or any future elections are carried out in a free and fair manner? How
can we ensure that they are monitored and overseen?
Mr Bellingham: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. Our
Government are doing all they possibly can, working with the Southern
African Development Community, front-line countries, the UN and the EU. I
agree entirely with him: two important polls are coming up next year-the
referendum on the constitution and the presidential and parliamentary
elections-and it is vital that monitors and observers are in place early on.
We must learn the lessons of the 2008 election. They need to be in place
early and after polling day they need to monitor the count as well.
Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): Given the critical situation in Zimbabwe,
does it remain the Government’s policy that Zimbabwean citizens who have
claimed asylum here will be removed to Zimbabwe?
Mr Bellingham: The UK Border Agency is looking to start work on a process
aimed at normalising our returns policy to Zimbabwe as and when the
political situation develops. However, we are not starting enforced returns
yet by any means.
Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Lab/Co-op): The Minister will,
I am sure, join me in welcoming the fact that the BBC World Service has
recently been able to have a correspondent back in Zimbabwe. Given the
important aspects of accountability and information that the BBC World
Service brings to Zimbabwe and other parts of the world, what assurances can
he give that it will continue to be supported by the Foreign Office?
Mr Bellingham: There are currently no proposals to close any language
service. Any such proposal requires ministerial approval and no such
approval has been sought or given as yet. There was an article in The
Guardian that was wholly inaccurate and pure speculation. Discussions are
ongoing and there will be a robust discussion involving the Foreign Office
about the World Service’s £272 million annual direct grant, but no decisions
have been taken. I stress that any closure of a language service requires
By Pindai Dube
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 18:29
BULAWAYO - A senior Bulawayo Provincial Magistrate, John Masimba has
ordered the arrest five police officers based at Bulawayo Central police
for the murder of two suspected armed robbers in March last year.
In his ruling on Monday after an inquest into the death of suspected armed
robbers Jabulani Quenten Sibanda and Nehemiah Temai Vumbunu, magistrate
Masimba directed the Attorney General's Office to immediately institute
investigations into the pair's deaths with a view of prosecuting detective
Inspector Phillip Tada and four other junior police officers based at
Bulawayo Central Police station's homicide section.
"The medical evidence points to the fact that foul play cannot be ruled out.
It is clear that they were subjected to physical abuse and I direct the AG's
Office to immediately institute investigations into the case and prosecute
the police officers involved," said Masimba.
Masimba also said: "There were external and internal injuries that had
nothing to do with gunshots and indications were that they had been
subjected to physical abuse."
The inquest came after Sibanda's family said they have evidence that
Inspector Tada and his team from Bulawayo Central police station's homicide
section tortured their son and Vumbunu to death on 9 March 2009.
After realising they tortured the two suspects to death, Inspector Tada and
his team took the bodies to a bush area near Qeenspark low-density suburb
where they stage managed a shooting incident, claiming that the two were
escaping from arrest in order to clear themselves of murder charges.
The family was represented by Doreen Phulu, of Dube-Banda, Nzarayapenga and
Harare, September 15, 2010 - The state media has come under fire from law
enforcement agents with a number of editors being dragged to court by the
The latest being Chronicle Editor Innocent Gore who was on Tuesday summoned
by detectives from the Law and Order section for questioning over a story in
which a Nkulumane man alleged that two people suspected to be police
officers attempted to rob him.
Gore, the detectives said, is to be charged with contravening Section 80 (1)
(a) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
AIPPA has in the past been used against staff of privately owned media and
in the past was responsible for the shutdown of newspapers resulting in
hundreds of journalists losing their jobs.
Another state editor, Brezhnev Malaba of the Sunday Mail, also has a pending
court case after police filed criminal charges alleging falsehood reporting
over a case involving missing maize from GMB.
Malaba published the story while still editor of the Chronicle two years
The section that Gore faces relates to abuse of journalistic privilege in
that the police claim that the paper fabricated the story about the
Gore, in his warned and cautioned statement at Bulawayo Central Police
Station, denied the charges.
He was taken to the Bulawayo magistrates' courts on Tuesday afternoon but
his case could not proceed as the Area Public Prosecutor, Simon Nleya, was
said to have gone to see a doctor.
Nleya was expected to decide on the way forward later on Wednesday.
The state-owned Chronicle newspaper last Wednesday carried a story of
Bothwell Ncube, who stated that on Monday just before midnight, he was
coming from a night spot in Nkulumane 12 when two people, a woman and a man,
approached him as he was getting home.
He alleged that they demanded money from him and asked him to lie down.
When he resisted and screamed, the man fired a shot into the air attracting
A neighbour, Margaret Makoni, said when she got to the scene and inquired
what was happening, she was threatened with death and told to shut up.
Another resident, Zodwa Moyo, claimed that on being challenged to produce
their police identity cards or handcuff Ncube, the pair refused and fled
from the scene.
Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Bekimpilo Ndlovu
could not confirm or deny the incident when contacted for comment.
Ncube appeared in court on Monday facing charges of assaulting or resisting
a police officer and was granted US$50 bail and will next appear in court on
Relations between police and the state media in Bulawayo took a nose dive
after the daily paper castigated the police for shooting and killing
suspected armed robbers whom they lured into the city centre using
It later turned out that the shot and killed man was not an armed robber and
was a university student in South Africa at the time of the alleged crime.
Written by MAXWELL CHAITWA
Wednesday, 15 September 2010 17:33
New farmers use political muscle to silence workers
HARARE - Mike Phiri (52) is heartbroken. The Chegutu farm worker voted for
President Robert Mugabe in the 1980 landmark elections, hoping that this was
going to change his and many other farm workers livelihoods for the better.
Imagine his shock when the very same person he had admired as a Messiah
started the violent land "reform" programme in 2000.
At first Phiri, whose life had always been attached to his employer, thought
the chance to become independent and start owning a piece of land had
But Zanu (PF) youth militia chucked him and his family out of Mount Carmel
Farm in Chegutu. His crime? - supporting the then newly formed opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party.
Hungry, unemployed, and with no roof over his head and a family of two look
after, a distraught Phiri found his way to what has now become his home, a
compartment in one of the disused tobacco barns at Chigwell Farm 10
kilometres out of Chegutu.
"What irks me is that as farm workers we are the poorest and vulnerable
people so I wonder how much threat do we pose to Zanu to warrant the
deployment of soldiers and CIO operatives to terrorise us?" he asks.
General Secretary of The General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of
Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), Gertrude Hambira, thinks the reason why the state
terrorises farm workers is that there are some elements in government who
want to keep a lid on the human rights abuses they perpetrated during land
seizures and election time. The only way is to continue to terrorise the
victims into silence.
"Farm workers are the biggest threat to some government officials who have
turned their farms into political violence zones. These officials know that
the farm workers' testimonies can expose them," said Hambira.
"They want to keep the resulting human catastrophe out of the limelight,"
GAPWUZ estimates that over that last decade, nearly a million people in
farming communities have been displaced while over 10 000 have faced
political victimisation either during the seizure of farms or at election
But government continues to deny the allegations of abuse, saying the land
grab was done in a peaceful and transparent way.
SADC countries appear to have swallowed Zanu's claims as there has been no
action on the human rights abuses perpetrated on farm workers. This has seen
government continuing to defy the rulings of the SADC Tribunal, a court set
as the Supreme Policy Institution of SADC countries, ordering a stop to
harassment in the farms.
Hambira said her organisation would continue to work towards exposing the
fallacy that the land reform is with the hope of eventually saving the farm
workers from the fear that they are living in.
"Our goal is to see justice being done and it is upon us to bring justice to
these people whose lives are being destroyed because some politicians want
to keep their profiles clean,' she added.
A Harare political analyst, who preferred anonymity, attributed the violent
treatment of farm workers to the new land owners' fear of facing opposition
from the workers who had become used to working for a productive and
"Farm workers remain the most difficult group to deal with because they
become attached to their employer so when a new employer comes in, they
start to compare the changes and in most cases the new farmers will not be
observing the labour regulations, among other things like paying very
little. This triggers dissent against the employer and in this case the new
farmers are using their political muscle to check any protest in check. You
can imagine what impact it would have if we hear that workers at a certain
minister's farm are striking, that would expose the official," said the
A GAPWUZ source said most of the cases the union was dealing with involved
non-payment of wages and political harassment of workers by new farmers.
A Chegutu councillor, Edward Dzeka, said farm workers were targeted because
politicians wanted to use them to further their political agendas.
"Farm workers are beaten into voting for many Members of Parliament. These
MPs know that farm workers are a vulnerable group that can be cowed."
The Zimbabwean ***** has established a number of Zanu MPs have used violence
to mobilise farm workers into voting for them.
The late Bindura North representative, Elliot Manyika, was known for his
reign of terror in Bindura farms while Harare South MP Herbert Nyanhongo's
masterminding of violence in farms around Harare is well documented.
Other Zanu officials who have been reported to use violence to earn votes
from farm workers include the losing Buhera South candidate Joseph
Chinotimba, and Shamva North MP and Transport Minister Nicholas Goche.
Harare Residents Trust Coordinator Precious Shumba said his organization is
concerned that activists of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF are mobilizing
to attend and dominate meetings with prepared responses
Jonga Kandemiiri and Patience Rusere | Washington 14 September 2010
Some civic groups in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare said the parliamentary
select committee on constitutional revision has not done enough to inform
the public on the many public outreach meetings to be held this coming
weekend in Harare and second-city Bulawayo.
Harare Residents Trust Coordinator Precious Shumba said his organization is
also concerned that activists of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF are
mobilizing to attend and dominate meetings with prepared responses
supporting the party's positions on the new constitution.
Shumba challenged a statement Monday by Gladys Gombami Dube, deputy
chairwoman of the select committee, saying the panel was running ads
publicizing meeting venues and times.
Shumba said non-governmental organizations are doing most public-awareness
The activist told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that Harare
Residents Trust learned from various sources that intimidation structures
set up by ZANU-PF in 2008 at the time of the abortive elections held amidst
a climate of often-deadly violence are being revived.
Organizers said venues and times will be announced after an organizational
But political sources said ZANU-PF Harare province officials are pressuring
the committee to hold just one outreach meeting per ward rather than two as
the committee has proposed.
Select Committee Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora said the question of how many
meetings would be held in each ward would be taken up on Wednesday as final
schedules are set.
Forum panelists made clear once the constitutional revision process is
completed, and if the draft is approved in a national referendum, the way
will be clear for new elections
Tatenda Gumbo | Washington 14 September 2010
In a Washington forum marking the second anniversary of of Zimbabwe's Global
Political Agreement for power sharing, representatives of the Movement for
Democratic Change and the reconstituted Zimbabwe African National Union or
ZAPU called for a strong monitoring effort by the Southern African
Development Community whenever new elections are to be held.
Participants in the forum organized by Freedom House noted that the
tumultuous 2008 presidential and general elections saw state-sanctioned
violence against many opposition voters leading to the drafting and
signature of the Global Political Agreement in September 2008.
Member of Parliament Innocent Gonese has been working for national security
reform but said he wants more help from SADC at such time as presidential
and general elections are called.
Forum panelists made clear once the constitutional revision process is
completed, and if the draft is approved in a national referendum, the way
will be clear for new elections.
ZAPU President Dumiso Dabengwa said political leaders themselves will also
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have both
expressed eagerness for elections to be called once the new constitution is
But some panelists opposed early elections, saying the constitutional
revision and approval process will indicate whether the country is ready for
another round of balloting.
Journalist Takura Zhangazha commented that the referendum, which could be
held late this year, will provide a clear indication as to whether near-term
elections are advisable.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted last month by the Mass Public Opinion
Institute of Zimbabwe showed the Movement for Democratic Change formation of
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with an edge over President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU-PF in public support.
The Institute said it interviewed 1,062 people nationwide and found 32
percent of them backing the Tsvangirai MDC, while 18 percent voiced support
The reformed ZAPU party garnered 2 percent, the polling group said.
The survey found that up to 40 percent of those interviewed might not vote
But political analyst George Mkhwanazi cautioned in an interview with
reporter Brenda Moyo that such surveys don't necessarily reflect what voters
are actually thinking.
by Edward Jones Wednesday 15 September 2010
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF will draw fire from a majority of
Zimbabweans and could aggravate thorny ties with the West over its plans to
sweep past human rights abuses by barring a new rights watchdog from digging
up cases committed before December 2008, a battle it could lose in the long
run, analysts said.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, an Mugabe ally said this week the
government had agreed that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission would only
probe cases committed after enactment of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment
Number 19 that paved the way for the creation of the coalition between
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The troubled southern African country has a notorious history of political
violence and human rights abuses since independence in 1980 but
perpetrators, mostly from ZANU-PF, have never been punished and the West
imposed sanctions on Mugabe and senior party officials in part due to the
"It is very evident that this is meant to give immunity to ZANU-PF but
Zimbabweans will surely reject this, they want justice, which is the
foundation of real and meaningful peace in the country," John Makumbe, a
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer said.
"This is day light cover up of murder, rape and all the terrible things that
were committed in the name of preserving power."
Political violence and rights abuses have mostly been against Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) supporters, including Tsvangirai and those who
criticize Mugabe. ZANU-PF supporters, youth militia and members of the
security services have been fingered as perpetrators.
Chinamasa said the rights body would visit and inspect prisons, places of
detention, refugee camps and related facilities "to ascertain the conditions
under which inmates are kept", but critics say it would be a miscarriage of
justice if perpetrators of past crimes walked free.
Political analysts warned that perpetrators faced the prospect of
retribution in future if a new government came into power.
Mugabe said last month during a speech to commemorate Heroes Day that the
national healing programme underway was not meant to punish offenders of
political violence but to avoid a repeat in the future.
That was the clearest sign that perpetrators would receive immunity.
"We can't live by the concept that time is the greatest healer. It is what
you do with that time that will heal the nation," Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman
of the smaller MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara said.
"So we are saying we can not pretend that bad things did not happen in the
past and as a party we want these investigated. We need to take the bull by
its horns," he said.
Political violence reached boiling point in the run-up to a presidential
run-off election in June 2008 when Mugabe sought to reverse a shock defeat
by Tsvangirai in the first round of the poll.
Well known senior security officers led ZANU-PF supporters on a violence
campaign that left 200 opposition supporters dead and shocked other neutral
The West still maintains sanctions on Mugabe and his inner circle and has
resisted calls to lift them, arguing that there is no evidence of far
reaching political reforms in Harare.
The spotlight on rights abuses by Mugabe started in 2000 after he began
seizing white-owned farms but the 86-year-old leader stands accused of
trampling upon the rights of opponents with his Gukurahundi military
campaign launched barely three years after he rose to power in 1980.
Gukurahundi was launched ostensibly to crackdown on armed dissidents in the
Matabeleland and Midlands provinces dominated by the Ndebeles, the main
backers of then opposition PF-ZAPU party.
Analysts say the onslaught by the army's North Korean-trained 5th Brigade
was meant to demolish PF-ZAPU's support base. At least 20 000 innocent
civilians were reportedly killed, some of them by having their stomachs
ripped open by soldiers while others were rounded up into huts and burnt.
"It seems your leaders repeatedly refuse to face up to their past and we are
gravely concerned with such attempts to sweep under the carpet gross human
rights violence that have been committed as recently as two years ago," a
diplomat from the European Union bloc said.
"At some point you have to deal with your past, there are too many scars
that need healing and owning up to that past is the only way to move
forward," a Western diplomat said yesterday.
Zimbabweans fear that abuses will continue and political violence will be
part of future elections if past offenders are not punished.
Political analysts have often suggested that Mugabe and his allies are too
afraid to leave office over fears of prosecution for the rights abuses and
that Zimbabweans may need to live with the fact that the octogenarian leader
plans to be life president. - ZimOnline.
by Tobias Manyuchi Wednesday 15 September 2010
HARARE -- Tele-density in Zimbabwe has shot up from around 30 percent at the
beginning of the year to around 49 percent on the back of expansion
programmes by players in the mobile telecommunications sector, figures from
the national regulator show.
Also known as the penetration rate, tele-density measures the availability
of telephones in a country expressed as a ratio of the number of phones per
every 100 people.
Latest figures from the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of
Zimbabwe (Potraz) show that the country's total subscriber base has shot up
from slightly over three million people at the end of last year to the
current 6.47 million.
Zimbabwe has three mobile operators namely Econet, Telecel and Net One
registered phenomenal growth in their subscriber bases since the beginning
of the year.
According to Potraz, the biggest telecommunications company, Econet, now has
4.1 million subscribers followed by Telecel at 1.27 million and lastly state
owned operator Net One at 1.1 million.
Net One has managed to attain the target of doubling its subscriber base
which stood at around 500 000 last year.
The rise effectively means at least 49 in every 100 people in the country
now have access to a phone. Zimbabwe has an estimated population of 12
Information and technology minister, Nelson Chamisa said the increase in
mobile owners was a result of dollarisation and removal of duty on mobile
"The increase is just phenomenal," Chamisa said. "The sector has grown due
to dollarisation, last year the number of mobile owners were far fewer than
what we have now. By end of the year mobile penetration could be much higher
because of the fibre optic cable which we are laying around the country."
Growth of Zimbabwe's 14-year old mobile telecommunications sector had slowed
down in the last decade owing to recession that eroded consumer capacity to
spend more on phone handsets and calls.
The adoption of the American dollar and other currencies in place of the
Zimbabwe dollar has been a stimulus to the telecoms sector and economy at
large which grew by 5.1 percent in 2009 and is this year seen expanding by
4.5 percent. - ZimOnline.
Committing our Party and our country to GOD.
Zimbabweans protest at two years of Mugabe lies
Zimbabwean exiles are to protest outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in
The occasion marks the expiry of a 30-day deadline set last month by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the implementation of outstanding issues in the agreement, which was signed two years ago this month. Mugabe has treated the deadline with contempt, confident that SADC will not put muscle behind its ultimatum.
Demonstrators wearing mourning bands will carry placards to the
nearby South African High Commission demanding that President Zuma pressures
Mugabe to accept his obligations and allows freedom for
The demonstration is organised by the
Protest Poster: Two years since sell-out agreement to form Zimbabwean unity government
· No rule of law
· Continued human rights abuses
· No democracy
· Unemployment at 90%
· No media freedom
· Tyrant Mugabe still in power
· Looting of blood diamonds
Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429
Take Action: The Board of Censors operates from within the Ministry of Home Affairs. Please email The Honourable Theresa Makoni, MDC-T co-Minister of Home Affairs, and ask her to reverse the ban against Owen Maseko's art exhibition. Please also email Senator David Coltart, Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, and ask him to do all he can to protect freedom of expression as it relates to art and culture, and to ensure that the artist Owen Maseko is not persecuted for telling the truth.
This article is the first in a series that will look at forms of freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. Politics has so infiltrated our lives that the personal, social and cultural are all political, and as always with Zimbabwe, it is impossible to talk about one without referencing the other. What we hope to do is to encourage people to think beyond the minutiae detail of political immediacies, and to debate who we are as people in this maelstrom, how do we define ourselves, where do we want to be going, how can we get there, and is there space for this richness of identity to be defined and celebrated in Zimbabwe today?
We start by looking at the way 'freedom of expression' is dealt with in the Global Political Agreement. We then turn to a discussion of how 'freedom of expression' in Zimbabwe is sharply curtailed by Zanu PF's 'Patriotic History' programme. This has serious implications for artists in Zimbabwe, and Owen Maseko's case is used to outline what happens to artists and their art when their work dares to challenge Zanu PF's Patriotic History. Maseko's recent exhibition - now banned from being shown in Zimbabwe - focused on the Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe; so we also discuss how the truth of the Gukurahundi has been suppressed for decades and, if Zanu PF get their way, will continue to be suppressed for the forseeable future. We ask whether 'now is the time' to discuss our past. Finally, we consider the future implications for art in Zimbabwe in the light of the Owen Maseko case.
Freedom of Expression and the GPA
The Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed on this day, 15 September, in 2008 includes a section on 'Freedom of Expression and Communication', but this all-encompassing title is distilled to a few points. In essence, it agrees that new radio stations and newspapers need to be allowed to register and operate in Zimbabwe, and that radio stations operating from outside Zimbabwe should be asked to cease their operations and to return home and their 'external funders' asked to stop funding them. The GPA also agrees that the state-controlled media "provides balanced and fair coverage to all political parties for their legitimate political activities" and that the public and private media will desist from perpetuating intolerance or hate-speech.
The GPA is the final product of a tensely negotiated agreement, heralding a power-sharing 'inclusive government' for a transition to new elections to resolve the political crisis. Its purpose, as well as the explosive context within which it was drafted, means it is understandably brief when dealing with expansive and important concepts such as 'freedom of expression'.
The clauses in the GPA for 'freedom of expression' focus on 'freedom of political expression and political communication'. There are two points to make: first, there is an inherent contradiction in the use of the word "freedom" alongside a clause that seeks to shut down existing forms of communication (this refers specifically to the agreement to "call upon the governments that are hosting and/or funding external radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe to cease such hosting and funding"). Second, that the focus on political freedom of expression, to the exclusion of all other forms, suggests that once people/the media can express themselves freely with regards to politics, that all good things will flow from there. But is this true? Or is it possible that this diminution of 'freedom of expression' perpetuates the type of logic and thinking that has informed and controlled our understanding of freedom of expression for decades, including the pre-Independence era?
Zanu PF's social engineering project
Czeslaw Milosz, a poet writing within the constraints of Polish post-war communism, argues that individuals and human societies grow and discover new dimensions, often unconsciously and unintentionally, by direct experience. This experience, he says, is influenced by "the direct pressure of History with a capital H" revealing itself through events and evidence of things that have happened; for example, "invasions by foreign armies, or ruined cities". But experience is also affected by things that are less tangible and sometimes intensely personal; for example, "a detail of architecture [or] in the shaping of a landscape". Individuals, located within a constantly flowing stream of history are bumped by political, social, cultural and personal experiences, all of which gel together to define their sense of self and identity in a place and time - their 'history. This contributes to who they are in the world and how they function in their unique contexts.
Zanu PF, a party obsessed with political dominance and political survival understand this construction of self identity and experience all too well. Its efforts during the 1980s to establish a one-party state extended a nationalist agenda that had began during the liberation war, and went on to lean heavily on legislation left behind by the Rhodesian Front government. Shortly after the Rhodesian Front's Unilateral Declaration of Independence on 11 November 1965, freedom of expression and communication was sharply curtailed with propaganda and censorship; in fact, the Censorship and Entertainment's Act still used by the Government of Zimbabwe today dates back to 1967. This suppressed information in Rhodesia led the Johannesburg Sunday Times to scathingly describe the white Rhodesian population as "the most brain-washed group in modern times"; but, as Zanu PF demonstrates, political 'brain-washing' goes hand in hand with a desire to retain absolute political control.
Zanu PF showed its true colours very early: perceived threats to Zanu PF's political dominance from Joshua Nkomo and ZAPU were brutally dealt with during the Gukurahundi of the 1980s, and misinformation and misperceptions about this time still have currency today. Shortly after this, Edgar Tekere (Zanu PF's former Secretary General, cast out of the party in 1988 and lambasted for straying from the revolutionary path) formed the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) and challenged Mugabe at the 1990 polls. State television adverts with the same menacing overtones so familiar to Zimbabweans today portrayed the choice between Zanu PF and ZUM as a matter of life or death:
In one advert shown on national television, the shattering of glass in a car accident was followed by a voice coldly warning,
'This is one way to die. Another is to vote ZUM. Don't commit suicide, vote ZANU-PF and live.'
All of these are precursors to the intense social engineering programme that Zanu PF sought to refine after its defeat at the constitution referendum polls in 2000. This programme encompasses both the formal visible structures of information and expression (e.g. the media), as well as the less tangible cultural aspects that are equally as critical to achieving the party's primary aims.
Zanu PF has determinedly set out to re-write and re-model 'History, with a capital H' as patriotic nationalism, what Terence Ranger calls 'Patriotic History'. Patriotic History seeks to "proclaim the continuity of the Zimbabwean revolutionary tradition"; it resents "disloyal questions" and considers any history that is not political or useful to the party's main political objectives to be "irrelevant". Raftopolous explains:
In this project the media and selected intellectuals have been used to provide a continuous and repetitive ideological message, in order to set the parameters of a stable national identity conducive to the consolidation of the ruling party.
Zanu PF's domestic agenda has no qualms about resorting to crude measures when rhetoric and propaganda fail: overt intimidation, direct threats, assault, torture and imprisonment. As a result, the Zanu PF project has been carefully contextualized for regional audiences within an 'anti-imperialist' narrative, one aimed at securing the support of regional powers, and very importantly, to limit regional criticism of local human rights abuses:
By doing this, the regime has been able to represent the fundamental human and civic rights questions placed on the Zimbabwean political agenda since the 1990s, as marginal, elite-focused issues, driven by western interests, and having little relation to urgent problems of economic redistribution. As a result, many radical nationalists in the wider African continent and the diaspora have averted their gaze from Harare's repressive domestic policies".
In 2008, Zanu PF's use of political violence was so extreme that it threatened to derail its regional gains: "the party was forced to deal with fact that it had undermined its own claims to sovereignty and legitimacy, and faced deeper isolation not only from the West, but in the region if it refused further regional intervention." That regional intervention led to the power-sharing government we have today, a period of time that will undoubtedly be recorded in future texts as a significant milestone in Zimbabwe's 'History, with a capital H'.
But what of the more intangible social and cultural elements that are equally important in shaping our understanding of our place in history - where human societies also grow through their relationship to memory, culture, beauty and experience? This is the domain of the personal and the creative imagination: in Zimbabwe it is a space where artists, writers, poets and playwrights "operate at the interface of culture and politics", sometimes "exposing the perhaps less visible and less measurable, yet vital ways in which artists continue to contest culturally specific notions of politics".
Zanu PF has sought to control this space too: its 'Patriotic History' agenda has been solidly backed up by a "profound cultural nationalist project" where art and culture have been cynically exploited to popularize 'Patriotic History'. Dissenting voices have been silenced using an arsenal of repressive legislation, including the Rhodesian 'Censorship and Entertainment Act', to block out any narratives that might undermine or question the veracity and purpose of 'Patriotic History'.
The case of artist Owen Maseko
On 25 March 2010, Owen Maseko's provocative exhibition of paintings, graffiti and 3D installations was opened at Bulawayo's National Gallery. His work focused primarily on the Gukurahundi era, but also challenged Zanu PF's political oppression in recent years. Both he and Voti Thebi, the gallery's Director, were arrested the following day and the exhibition closed to the public. Maseko was charged with violating Section 33 of the Criminal Law and Codification Act, a law that punishes anyone who "insults or undermines the authority of the President". He was also charged with Section 42 (2): "Causing offence to persons of a particular race, religion, etc":
Any person who publicly makes any insulting or otherwise grossly provocative statement that causes offence to persons of a particular race, tribe, place of origin, colour, creed or religion, intending to cause such offence or realising there is a real risk or possibility of doing so, shall be guilty of causing offence to persons of a particular race, tribe, place of origin, colour, creed or religion, as the case may be
Both these crimes carry a penalty of either a fine or a prison sentence of up to one year in jail.
On 27 August 2010 a special government order was issued formally prohibiting the exhibition. According to the Gazette, Maseko's work has been censored for a very specific reason:
(1)The showing of DVD clips showing effigies, words and paintings on the walls of the Bulawayo National Art Gallery by Owen Maseko prohibited, and
(2) The exhibition at the Bulawayo Art Gallery of effigies, paintings and words written on the walls portraying the Gukurahundi era as a tribal-based event and as such is prohibited"[Emphasis added].
It also stated that the art was banned in accordance with Section 13 (1) and (2) of the Censorship and Entertainment Act, which stipulates the different circumstances under which materials can be banned:
(2) A publication, picture, statue or record shall be deemed to be undesirable if it or
any part thereof-
(a) is indecent or obscene or is offensive or harmful to public morals; or
(b) is likely to be contrary to the interests of defence, public safety, public order, the economic interests of the State or public health;
There is nothing in the Act that prohibits art that is a "tribal-based event". It has to be noted that the Board of Censors is allied to the Ministry of Home Affairs, and it is a point of intense concern that this bizarre censorship instruction was issued under the Inclusive Government from within the Ministry of Home Affairs co-chaired by Theresa Makoni (MDC-T). Makoni subsequently told SW Radio Africa that she was "unaware" of the order issued by Melusi Matshiya, her Permanent Secretary, banning the work, but she has said little more on the subject.
Maseko's problems did not end there. The State subsequently tried to change their initial charges to Section 31 of the Criminal Law and Codification Act, which prohibits "Publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State". Section 31 is far more serious, carrying either a fine or a prison sentence of up to twenty years in jail if Maseko were to be found guilty. On 13 September 2010, the State was forced to drop all the charges against Maseko after his lawyer argued that "there is no procedure which allows the State to substitute a less serious charge for a more serious charge". The matter is not entirely resolved, because the State is still contemplating bringing the new serious charges against Maseko and his art is still banned. In fact, the National Gallery in Bulawayo has had its main ground floor hall closed to the public, its windows papered over, while the exhibition is held in situ as evidence in the trial.
Maseko's case is a clear illustration of what happens when 'art' and 'freedom of expression' come together to challenge Zanu PF's 'Patriotic History' project. It reveals how the rule of law in Zimbabwe has been crafted and subverted to support the Zanu PF party's ideological priorities. The evolution of Maseko's case demonstrates that the Zanu PF party remains deeply committed to its social engineering programme, regardless of the GPA.
The Gukurahundi as a "tribal-based event"
Ordinary Zimbabweans outside Matabeleland know very little about what actually happened during the Gukurahundi, and what they do know has been carefully controlled by the Zanu PF government who were in power at the time.
During the conflict, the state-controlled media consistently portrayed the minority Zapu party as the aggressors, blaming them for instigating an insurgence against the government, supposedly out of anger that they lost the 1980 elections. At the same time, Zanu PF and all the government security forces were portrayed as righteous defenders of independence, democracy, and law and order. The state-controlled media categorized 'The Enemy' in sweeping generalized terms, leading to a dangerous perception amongst Zimbabweans outside Matabeleland that part of the responsibility for the troubles in this region rested with a troublesome civilian population:
Although such representations rarely explicitly alluded to ethnicity; they were underlain by an implicit ethnic explanation due to the association between the Matabeleland region, Zapu and Zipra. The Zanu government and state-controlled media blurred distinctions between the armed 'dissidents', the civilians among whom they lived, and Zapu supporters. All these groups were marked subversive and dangerous, and all of them were concentrated within the 'Ndebele' region of Matabeleland. The frequent blurring of political, ethnic, regional and insurgent categories in the media played an important role in the popular understandings of the violence as 'tribal' in regions outside Matabeleland. [Emphasis added]
If outsiders were deliberately led to believe that Ndebele civilians were inextricably associated with a political insurgency, the non-combatant Matabeleland civilians themselves very quickly realised that they were victims of a political war where Zanu PF was primarily seeking to destroy its political opposition. The term 'Gukurahundi' means 'the first rains that washes away the chaff after the harvest", and many civilians took this to interpret themselves as the 'chaff' or "rubbish". Their military tormentors confirmed this for them with both their actions and their words:
5 Brigade commanders at rallies invariably expressed the conviction that "all Ndebele were dissidents", and said their orders were to "wipe out the people in the area".
Testimony from a dissident, a person supposedly the direct target of this massive military operation, gives insight into the focus and function of the Fifth Brigade (also known as the 'Gukurahundi'):
The Gukurahundi wasn't a good fighting unit. It was trained to reduce the population, it was just killing civilians. The Gukurahundi weren't soldiers. Where do you see soldiers who sing when on patrol? They were looking for civilians, not other soldiers, so we would come across them singing and we would just take cover. Soon after, you'd hear people crying in their homes..
Mugabe himself went so far as to identify the entire region - civilians and dissidents - as justifiable military targets. Donald Trelford, editor of The Observer (UK) in 1984, recalled an interview that he had with Robert Mugabe where he asked Mugabe whether he would ever consider a political solution to the Matabeleland issue rather than the military one. Trelford describes Mugabe's response to his question as 'blunt' and 'chilling':
"The solution is a military one. Their grievances are unfounded. The verdict of the voters was cast in 1980. They should have accepted defeat then . The situation in Matabeleland is one that requires a change. The people must be reoriented." [Emphasis added]
This is why the description and banning of Maseko's images of the Gukurahundi as a "tribal-based event" has such potency in 2010. If an acceptable 'tribal-based event' is one where Patriotic History defines the Ndebele population as 'the enemy' and Zanu PF as having moral right on their side, then it follows that an unacceptable 'tribal-based event' is one that suggests the reverse - where Ndebele civilians are portrayed as victims and Zanu PF as aggressors.
Stanislaw Baranczak, a Polish poet, writer and literary critic argues that, "The controllers of culture are by no means interested in eliminating expression altogether; on the contrary, they sponsor and promote it, provided it serves their goals". The Patriotic History narrative codifies people like Maseko who dare to think beyond the boundaries established by Zanu PF as 'disloyal' and 'unpatriotic'. Accordingly, Maseko's work is not offensive to the Zanu PF censors because it is 'tribal-based': it offends because it contradicts the historical narrative they have spent nearly three decades insisting is the only acceptable version of events.
'The past is the past' and 'Now is not the time': A question of timing and relevance
The argument that 'the past is the past', and we should forget about it, put it to rest, and move forward is one view that often comes up in social discussions about Maseko and his exhibition. Those making this case, fail to understand -especially in relation to the Gukurahundi - that the past is very much a part of the today. It exists in the memories of the people of Matabeleland, in the way it has influenced and shaped their lives since the events, but also in very real tangible ways. Just last month NewsDay reported that wild animals were digging up the bones of thirteen people massacred and buried in a mass grave in Lupane; and as the bones surfaced, so did the horror and the truth:
The 13 are said to have been employed by the Forestry Commission when they were massacred [...] No explanation was given for the killing. [...] "The first to be gunned down were nine forestry workers [...] They were shot for no reason. After that, we were told to bury them in shallow graves and their remains have remained there since." [Headman Sikhonzi Nyathi] said the soldiers ordered the villagers to bury the nine bodies in one grave before they went on to indiscriminately shoot at four others. "There was nothing that the villagers could do to resist the orders as they also risked being shot," Nyathi said. "The villagers carried out the orders and buried them in one grave.
Others have argued that while Maseko's work is worthy and important, it is perhaps ill-timed given the context of a fragile Inclusive Government that has yet to fully implement the GPA a full two years on. It begs the question: who decides when the time is right and on what grounds? Who is going to tell the artists, musicians, sculptors, poets and writers that they must suppress their impulses to create, or worse, to censor themselves by conforming to non-threatening 'art' based on the terms and conditions dictated to Zimbabweans by the Zanu PF party?
There are many social, political and cultural events with the potential to rile an incalcitrant Zanu PF, all of them posing extra challenges for the power-sharing relationship: the constitutional outreach programme is just one of them, the anticipated referendum another. Zimbabweans will be asked to participate, and asked to support specific positions, despite the fact that these moments make Zanu PF uncomfortable. For those who think 'now is not the time' for freedom of expression among artists and cultural innovators, are we to assume that they consider freedom of expression today to only be important and timeous when it confines itself to the 'political'?
At the start of this article we asked whether it was possible that this diminution of 'freedom of expression' to 'political freedom of expression' continues to perpetuate the type of logic and socio-cultural thinking that has informed and controlled a Zimbabwean understanding of freedom of expression for decades? Has Zanu PF's Patriotic History programme been so effective that some amongst us -including members of former opposition parties and activists - have unconsciously assimilated the view that the writing of Zimbabwean 'History with a capital H' in 2010 should be exclusively and narrowly pre-occupied with the 'political'. Have they come to believe, as Zanu PF believes, that all other events and moments influencing historicity are "irrelevant" ?
Implications for healing and for cultural and artistic freedom of expression in Zimbabwe
Banning Maseko's work has very troubling implications for national healing, reconciliation, and integration in Zimbabwe. One of the initial charges against Maseko (now dropped) was that his art caused "offence to persons of a particular race, religion, etc." The only ethnicity explicitly identified in Maseko's work are the Ndebele victims of the Gukurahundi, and it is highly unlikely that they would be offended by his efforts to expose the truth. Maseko's work also clearly identifies those who are accountable for the crimes committed during this time: they are Robert Mugabe, members of the political elite, and the Fifth Brigade. And while these individuals may be 'offended' by this accusation, they, as a group of predominantly Shona people, do not constitute or represent all Shona people.
It's worth remembering that Zanu PF's targeting of the Ndebele people in the 1980s had very negative consequences for 'integration': the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace report into the atrocities noted that "the 5 Brigade 'war' hardened ethnic differences" and "struck at the root of people's most cherished social and political identity". It follows then that the casual blurring of the distinctions between the elite and all Shona people - inferred from the initial charges against Maseko and the description of the art as a 'tribal-based event' - is tantamount to inflaming tensions between different groups in Zimbabwe. How does this aid healing or integration in our country today?
On the same day the government attempted to charge Maseko with "Publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State", Patrick Chinamasa announced that he would be tabling a Bill in parliament that would enable the Human Rights Commission to investigate human rights abuses. But Chinamasa's Bill will have a 'get out of jail' clause designed to protect the Zanu PF party :
This commission will not investigate the alleged violations which occurred before the enactment of the amendment number 19 unless the violations have continued after the enactment but anything that happened before they will not have power to investigate.
This means that all human rights abuses committed before December 2008 will not be investigated: it affects not only the Gukurahundi, but Murambatsvina, violence carried out in the farming communities over the last decade; the political violence that has accompanied every election, and the horrific glut of torture and violence that was at its worse in 2008.
Will there be a time when art that attempts to focus on these events will, like Maseko's art, also be subject to censorship by the state? How can art in Zimbabwe thrive if a swathe of topics that make the government uncomfortable are declared 'no-go areas'? And how can art in Zimbabwe be taken seriously if the first question asked of a challenging exhibition is "Does this art conform to Patriotic History?" instead of "Is this art good?"
It is a shame that almost all of the discussion pertaining to Owen Maseko's exhibition has been corralled by political imperatives. Zimbabwean artists work at a challenging interface between the social / cultural and the political; but as artists, they are also positioned within the broader discipline of 'Art', a field unconstrained by national boundaries and rigid definitions of 'sovereignty'. The controversy surrounding Maseko's exhibition has effectively cast him as a 'political activist' and fails to give due recognition to the fact that he is also, quite simply, an Artist.
Stanislaw Baranczak, writing about the impacts of communist control on artists, argues that an "artist's self-restraint" is one step further on from State censorship. He calls this "progressive censorship"; it occurs when an artist's "creative compromise" and "self-correction" renders the State's open interference needless.
If artists and cultural innovators voluntarily restrain their creative impulses to avoid political acrimony, then there will be no need for Zanu PF to ban and censor works. When this happens, Zanu PF will have deemed the cultural objectives of their Patriotic History project to be 'successful': rather than having 'freedom of expression', artistic expression will be carefully controlled leading to a further narrowing of the cultural field in Zimbabwe, with absolutely devastating consequences for the future of 'Art in Zimbabwe'.
On 4 August 2010, The Herald wrote about an 'Artists' Charter for Zimbabwe', a document drafted by a group of artists for inclusion in the constitutional outreach discussions. The Charter asks that "the rights and interests of the artists of Zimbabwe and their language communities be recognized and protected in the new constitution" and it lists eleven points they want guaranteed. Significantly, the word 'freedom' is glaringly absent from the Charter: i.e. there are no demands for 'creative freedoms' to be protected. The closest the Charter comes to referring to 'freedom of expression' is when it recognises "the right of every citizen [.] to enjoy the arts in their diverse expressions". And despite the fact that censorship is a massive threat to artistic creativity and expression, the word censorship is not even remotely referred to in the Charter.
It isn't possible to know exactly what informed the drafting of this Charter, but the fact that the state-controlled media was happy to champion it is a sign that the guarantees it seeks do not threaten the Zanu PF patriotic project. Do the limitations of the 'Artists' Charter for Zimbabwe' indicate that Zimbabwean artists are already sensitive to, and aware of, the need to conform to political imperatives that define artistic boundaries within Zimbabwe?
Maseko's experience suggests that this is possibly true: interviewed by SW Radio Africa on 14 September 2010, he commented on the artistic community's reaction to his experience at the hands of the state:
I was surprised that the artists are the only community that has not really truly supported me. I don't know, maybe it is something to do with fear. Maybe they are scared or worried that if they associate with me they might also get arrested. Artists are aware of how, whatever the outcome that can happen to me, can greatly affect them, but taking a stance of running away is not really a helpful one because whichever way they look at it they will still be greatly affected.
Maseko is right: if the State is allowed to ban critical works that investigate and challenge the state's role in history , and if they are allowed to intimidate and harass artists who dare to think beyond state-controlled boundaries, then all artists will find themselves unable to truly be 'artists' in the fullest sense of the word.
It is not only artists who will be affected: all of us are affected by this attitude to criticism. We need to ask ourselves if we really want to live in a country without truth? Do we really want to be a people whose identities and experiences are defined by the State? Finally, we need to ask ourselves this important question: if artists are not allow to express themselves freely, what makes us think that we will ever be allowed to express ourselves freely either?