Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)
19 September 2007
Posted to the web 19 September 2007
In the first case of its kind, a Harare magistrate has tried and convicted a
man who was found in possession of a printed email message containing
information that was said to denigrate President Robert Mugabe and Vice
President Joice Mujuru.
On 23 August 2007, Tendai Murove was charged and convicted on his own plea
of guilt to contravening section 26(1)(a) as read with section 33 of the
colonial Censorship and Entertainment Control Act after he was found in
possession of a six-page letter allegedly sent to him by a friend. Section
26 prohibits the possession of prohibited articles while section 33 states
the determination of what is indecent or obscene or offensive or harmful to
The message, which was written in Shona, repeatedly makes reference to
Mugabe and Mujuru, mocking Mugabe for his economic policies and Zimbabwe's
record inflation, which now stands above 6,000 percent.
"There is not a drop of fuel in Zimbabwe. Neither is there any sign of beer.
I pray that Bush (George) and (Tony) Blair can come and rid us of this
bespectacled man," the email laments in apparent reference to Mugabe.
"My sister-in-law hails from a wealthy family. She only gets reminded of
matters to do with Zimbabwe's economic problems and inflation when Gono
(Gideon, the central bank governor) presents his monetary policy statements.
She has a sizeable round bottom. From that you can tell she grew up sitting
on a sofa, unlike those (bottoms) of (Vice President) Mai Mujuru which were
repeatedly scratched by thorny bushes and bullets during the liberation
Murove was convicted and sentenced to a fine of Z$1 million (approx. US$33)
or seven days' imprisonment.
Murove was initially arrested for public drinking in Harare's Avenues area.
The police then discovered the document on him.
Faced with growing criticism over its policies, the Zimbabwean government
recently introduced a plethora of laws which critics say are designed to
both silence and punish dissenting voices. One such law, the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), has seen a number of
independent media journalists arrested for allegedly publishing information
the government deemed to be subversive.
The government recently enacted new legislation, the Interception of
Communications Act that empowers the authorities to open emails, letters as
well as to monitor telephonic conversations of people.
MISA Zimbabwe is outraged by the fact that Murove was charged and convicted
for something he did not even author.
Section 20 of the Zimbabwean Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of
expression, which includes the right to receive and to disseminate
information. Murove received the email and MISA-Zimbabwe believes he should
not have been punished for a constitutionally guaranteed right and is
convinced that section 26 of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act is
ultra vires the Constitution and should be challenged.
19 September 2007
Government boost propaganda project as 'rural Information Officers' are
The government is set to deploy 60 'Information Officers' under the
Zimbabwe Information Service (ZIS) by November 2007 to facilitate news
dissemination from the rural areas. ZIS is a defunct Ministry of
Information and Publicity news agency meant to convey government information
in rural areas and vice versa. ZIS was active in the 1980s and has existed
only in name since then.
In an address to Harare Polytechnic School of Journalism students on 14
September 2007, the acting Director for Rural Communication in the Ministry
of Information and Publicity, Regis Chikowore, stated that currently there
are 38 information officers operating in selected parts of the country, with
the number expected to rise to 60 by November 2007. According to the
Ministry this move will ensure that all the rural districts are manned by
The acting Director went on to state that besides news dissemination, the
information officers would be liable for revitalizing the operation of the
mobile video units to be used to breach the rural- urban digital divide.
He highlighted that presently, the government is mobilizing resources to
set up rural information centers and mobile units which would be used to
address the information and communication needs of rural people.
Speaking on the same issue during the official launch of the National
Information Communication Technology (ICT) Policy Framework by President
Robert Mugabe in Harare , the Minister of Information and Publicity,
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, said the information centers would be rural-based
multimedia platforms which the government intends to avail to rural
MISA-Zimbabwe expresses concern that the sudden realization of the need for
information distribution in rural areas is a sinister ploy to flood rural
communities with ruling party campaign materials disguised as information
towards the 2008 elections. This fear is based on the current skewed and
biased coverage of issues by the state controlled media. MISA-Zimbabwe
further expresses surprise that at a time when national institutions
including the state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation are
struggling financially the Ministry has resources to pour into the defunct
ZIS. This project therefore raises serious questions on its sincerity and
anticipated benefits to rural communities long cut off from access to
SW Radio Africa (London)
19 September 2007
Posted to the web 19 September 2007
Zimbabwe's main labour union received a boost Wednesday as various
pro-democracy movements affirmed their support towards the mass job boycott
that continues through Thursday.
According to reports, response to the stayaway was slow in most cities
across the country today. However civil society and the opposition have
swiftly moved to the side of labour in support of the strike, called by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Labour is protesting the six-month
blanket wage freeze decreed by Robert Mugabe a fortnight ago.
The National Constitution Assembly (NCA), the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the
London-based Zimbabwe Vigil are some of the organisations that declared
their support for the labour action.
NCA national co-ordinator Ernest Mudzengi, said despite most workers showing
up for work on the first day of the stay away, most did not conduct their
normal duties once at the workplace.
Mudzengi said: "Workers are simply 'staying away' at work and that's a very
strong statement as well. Before anyone dismisses this strike as a failure,
you should assess the conditions and circumstances facing workers and the
"Workers are threatened by employers with job losses while the ZCTU is being
pursued by state security agents. The safe route for some therefore, is to
report to work and not do anything at all," he said.
Lovemore Matombo and Wellington Chibhebhe, the ZCTU's president and
secretary general respectively, are understood to be in hiding following an
onslaught by police on the labour union, which saw at least ten being
arrested across the country since Monday.
Sithokozile Siwela, the ZCTU secretary for the Women's Advisory Council,
today confirmed that both Matombo and Chibhebhe were on the run.
Siwela said: "We have gathered that the police have actually been to
Matombo's house and confiscated his mobile phones and detained his brother
Ephraim and a domestic worker until they locate Matombo.
"We will however push forward with the stayaway despite the arrests and
harassments. Already we have received support from organisations outside the
country and we will be holding a demonstration in London on Thursday," she
Siwela also invited Zimbabweans in London to join the Zimbabwe Vigil, the
Action for Southern Africa and the Trade Unions Congress, for a protest
march outside the Zimbabwe embassy at noon on Thursday.
Meanwhile the PTUZ has called on teachers not to return to work, after the
end of the ZCTU job boycott.
PTUZ general secretary Raymond Majongwe, urged teachers to shift from the
go-slow mode and embark on a full strike after government refused to
increase their wages this month.
Majongwe said: "We are in solidarity with the ZCTU in this strike. Most of
our members discovered that the government had not increased our salaries
when they checked their pay Wednesday morning.
"We are obviously very dejected and angry indeed because some of us have
earned as little as Z$1 million. The government should realise that it is
not our will to go to strike, but they are forcing us to do it if they can't
recognise our worth and effort," he said.
Thousands of teachers have been skipping borders into neighbouring countries
for menial jobs as the economic crisis continues to bite. According to
sources, at least 21 teachers quit their posts at Kuwadzana high school
alone last week.
By Peta Thornycroft
19 September 2007
Despite a rare moment of harmony in parliament Tuesday between the ruling
ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, arrests of
opposition personalities in Zimbabwe continue. Peta Thornycroft reports for
VOA that a founding leader of the protest group Women of Zimbabwe Arise is
still in detention after her arrest on Tuesday.
Since she helped found the protest group Women of Zimbabwe Arise four years
ago, Magodonga Mahlangu has been arrested many times. She was picked up
again on Tuesday on her way into the center of Zimbabwe's second largest
city Bulawayo. This was hours before the two factions of the divided
opposition MDC united in parliament to support the ruling ZANU-PF's proposal
for a constitutional amendment which may lead to a new constitution for
The state press and opposition legislators both hailed the moment of unity.
A spokesman for the MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said the opposition is not selling
out, but had to support the amendment, because it could lead to a new
constitution with better laws. He said the crisis in Zimbabwe needs a
resolution because people are suffering from a lack of the basics necessary
Brian Raftopoulos, a prominent Zimbabwean political analyst, said Wednesday
the amendment is a confidence building exercise and part of the South
African-backed mediation between the two political parties.
Despite the moment, repression continues and, on Wednesday, Mahlangu was
still in detention but had seen her lawyers.
When she was picked up, she was held in a cell with activists from the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. The ZCTU had called for a two-day
national strike beginning Wednesday, but few workers heeded their call.
Last week, the MDC in Harare reported that Jabulani Chiwoka, who intended to
stand in rural elections next year, was stabbed to death in Marondera, a
small town 120 km southeast of Harare.
One of his associates, Tafirenyika Nyandoro, was injured in the attack. The
MDC said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is investigating.
Police were not available for comment Wednesday on the latest arrests.
Mail and Guardian
Peter Apps | London, United Kingdom
19 September 2007 06:30
Economic crisis, hunger and the impact of Aids are pushing
Zimbabwean children as young as seven to risk exploitation and walk alone or
in small groups into South Africa, aid group Save the Children said on
Hungry, tired and often orphaned, the children come in
hope of food, work or schooling. More often, they end up being exploited by
unscrupulous guides or employers and end up living in squatter camps or
rubbish dumps, the agency said.
"They are definitely chronically malnourished," Save the
Children spokesperson Dominic Nutt said by telephone from near South
Africa's border with Zimbabwe.
"They have swollen stomachs and ripped clothes. They look
a lot younger than they really are. But they still see South Africa as the
Promised Land despite everything."
Economic crisis, drought, runaway inflation currently at 6
600% and one of Southern Africa's worst HIV epidemics have led millions of
weary Zimbabweans to move to more stable neighbouring countries.
The aid group estimates about 1 500 underage Zimbabweans
cross into South Africa each year.
Based on a survey of 130 such children in Johannesburg and
near the borders with Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the group said one quarter
had already been returned to their native lands at once but managed to get
"The seven-year-olds won't usually be coming across on
their own," said Nutt. "But they might be coming across in groups of four
with 10- and 11-year-olds. They are being taken across mainly by local
guides -- which is a euphemism for thugs who beat and exploit them."
Half the children said they had paid a bribe to get across
the border, while 14% said they had been assaulted.
With many of the children lacking documentation, only one
in three surveyed had found a place at schools and most were forced to work,
Save the Children said.
South African officials have struggled to cope with the
Save the Children said it hoped to set up shelters along
the border where young Zimbabweans -- and other needy children including
South Africans -- could be cared for and schooled.
"These children are coming and we have to deal with that,"
Nutt said. "We don't need to go criticising the South African government --
they are still trying to build housing for South Africans." -- Reuters
By Chinedu Offor
19 September 2007
In Zimbabwe, the ruling party and both factions of the main opposition party
have agreed to amend the Constitution.
The ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
held talks in the capital, Harare, in the face of widespread skepticism that
they could reach an agreement. If the amendment is adopted, it will expand
the membership of Parliament and improve electoral laws ahead of next year's
Chris Maroleng is senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies. He
says the recent development in Zimbabwe is significant.
"I think that it is a positive development in Zimbabwe politics which has
been characterized by intransigence on the part of ZANU-PF and a lack of
strategic vision and direction on the part of the MDC"," he says.
He says that the opposition has made some achievement in getting the ruling
party to give in to some demands.
"I think we can look at it from the stand point of the SADC brokered
negotiations between he two main political parties. When seen it this light,
we can see the constitutional amendment is really provisions that were
agreed upon during this on- going negotiations dialogue between this
political parties," he says.
Maroleng says that it will take time for the benefits of this breakthrough
to impact on the lives of the people.
"What it would ultimately provide for the Zimbabwe people is the possibility
for the MDC and ZANU-PF at these negotiations being able to find more
compromises and further movement towards resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe,"
By Tichaona Sibanda
19 September 2007
The MDC will never join Zanu-PF in a government of national unity or broker
any deals that are detrimental to its existence, the party's chief
representative in London said on Wednesday.
Many worried Zimbabweans had raised their concerns after both factions of
the MDC announced they had struck a deal not to oppose the amended
constitutional amendment number 18. There were suggestions from concerned
activists that the party would go the same way as Zapu, which was swallowed
up by Zanu-PF after striking a peace deal in 1987.
Hebson Makuvise, the MDC chief in the UK, sought to remind people that five
weeks ago Robert Mugabe was telling the world his party would never deal
with the MDC on any constitutional matters. He said in any negotiations,
parties come to a compromise as has happened in Parliament on Tuesday,
although a new constitution was still on top of their agenda.
'While we work towards that (a new constitution) we have to work with
Zanu-PF to repeal repressive laws such as AIPPA and POSA that are contained
in the current constitution,' Makuvise said.
The chief representative said what people seem to have missed is that from
the changes agreed to in the new version of amendment number 18 was that the
man who helped Zanu-PF 'win' all its elections since Independence will not
play any role in next year's elections.
'Tobaiwa Mudede is now out of the equation, and so too is the power by
Zanu-PF to change constituency boundaries. Robert Mugabe no longer has the
power to appoint a commission that will run the elections, but because of
the majority he enjoys in Parliament he will have the privilege to appoint
his successor when he decides to retire. But this depends if he wins the
elections. People talk as if he has already won them,' Makuvise said.
Referring to Tuesday's events where the MDC and Zanu-PF unanimously agreed
to amend the constitution amendment Bill Number 18, which seeks also to
harmonise presidential and parliamentary elections, Makuvise said there was
no winner or loser from the pact. Further deliberations on other important
aspects, including the overhaul of the security, media and electoral laws
are expected to be discussed during this parliamentary session.
'This (deal) was a victory for all Zimbabweans because a journey of a
thousand miles starts with single step. We are still negotiating and the MDC
has not put pen to paper yet. We are still looking at more constitutional
and electoral changes so we are keeping an open mind,' he said.
The six amendments that drew unity from both sides of the House and agreed
to in the ongoing dialogue between the warring parties were that the House
of Assembly membership of 210 members is to be directly elected by voters
registered in the 210 constituencies.
The Senate will be constituted of a membership of 93 made up by six senators
per province directly elected by voters registered in the 60 Senatorial
constituencies plus 10 provincial governors appointed by Mugabe in terms of
legislation governing the appointment of Governors.
Mugabe will also appoint the president and deputy president of the Council
of chiefs, 16 chiefs--two from each of the provinces other than metropolitan
provinces and five Senators. All four elections, for President, House of
Assembly, Senatorial and Local Authorities will take place at the same time.
During deliberations on the passage of the Bill, MDC leaders Thokozani Khupe
and Gibson Sibanda reiterated that they still wanted what they called a
people-driven constitution and an overhaul of some security and media laws.
But despite this analysts remain sceptical. A comment on ZWNews Wednesday
said by failing to put up even ultimately futile arguments against the Bill
in parliament, the (two MDC factions) have done precisely what the
'They have begun the process, however unwittingly, of cooperating in their
own demise. The power of the president to name his successor - through his
party's majority in parliament - remains included in this odious Bill. And
glaring by its omission is any mention of the comprehensively rigged voters'
roll, the totally biased electoral apparatus and election courts, and the
various Zanu PF-controlled militias that make any talk of free and fair
elections a sick joke,' the website said.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2007 By ALEX PERRY
The story of Zimbabwe's downward spiral now has a climax - and even a
possible end-date. A constitutional amendment passed Tuesday by Zimbabwe 's
parliament paves the way for joint parliamentary and presidential elections
in March 2008. The bill also allows parliament to elect a new president if
the incumbent does not serve a full term. Since his ZANU-PF party has a
parliamentary majority, that effectively gives President Robert Mugabe the
authority to handpick a successor, if he so chooses, even before the next
election. Raising the possibility of Mugabe's departure, the Brussels-based
International Crisis Group (ICG), a leading think-tank on global conflict,
said one of the keys to saving Zimbabwe was offering Mugabe and his allies
amnesty from prosecution, and allowing them to keep fortunes amassed during
their rule, in exchange for political reform and a free and fair election.
It added that Zimbabwe's "only real hope" lay in the South Africa-mediated
talks between the government and the opposition.
Despite the often violent suppression by the government of opposition
activity in recent years, Tuesday's bill had the support of both the
government and the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change
( M.D.C.). This rare consensus - brokered in the South African
negotiations - prompted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who represented
the government in the talks, to declare a "new unity of purpose" in
Zimbabwe. Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the main faction of the M.D.C.,
agreed the development indicated progress in the talks.
Talking is certainly an improvement in Zimbabwean politics. But make no
mistake, this is merely setting the date for a fight. Both sides have reason
to believe that an election will work to their advantage. The ruling
Zanu-PF, however much Western governments may dislike the idea, remains
Zimbabwe's most popular and most effective political party - and it can
expect to win. The M.D.C., on the other hand, believes that a campaign will
give it a platform to get its message across to Zimbabweans and the
The latest political intrigues have little impact, however, on the vortex of
deepening poverty in which most Zimbabweans now find themselves.
Unemployment stands at 80% and between 3 and 4 million of a total population
of 12 million have fled the county. Mugabe's government announced what it
considered good news on Tuesday, declaring inflation had fallen from 7,
634.8 % to 6,592.8%. The widespread failure of last year's maize harvest has
left millions dependent on food aid. Today, the streets of Harare and
Bulawayo are as empty as the shelves in their food stores. The question is:
when the politicians finally decide who is to run Zimbabwe, how much will be
left of the country?
The Namibian (Windhoek)
19 September 2007
Posted to the web 19 September 2007
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's spokesman has ordered state media editors
to impose a partial blackout on Vice President Joice Mujuru, whose camp
within the ruling Zanu-PF party has been actively seeking the veteran
leader's ouster, ZimOnline established on Monday.
Authoritative sources told ZimOnline that George Charamba summoned top
editors from Harare-based state media last Thursday and ordered a blackout
on Mujuru and her known allies.
Editors of the state media's print flagship The Herald, its sister The
Sunday Mail as well as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation attended the
meeting held at Charamba's Munhumutapa offices. The presidential spokesman
tightly controls state media entities because of his position and closeness
to Mugabe. The sources said Charamba, who is also permanent secretary in the
Ministry of Information and Publicity, told the editors that they should
amplify support for Mugabe's candidature in next year's watershed
"We were told to bring to the limelight the fact that most party organs
support Mugabe's candidature," said an editor who attended the meeting but
spoke on condition he was not named.
The editor said Charamba was emphatic that the Mujuru faction should be
blocked out from news coverage. "Mujuru herself would have her coverage
reduced to a bare minimum. We can't completely ignore her because she is the
vice-president," the editor said. Charamba was not available for comment.
His boss, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, refused to comment on the
matter yesterday, insisting that he did not attend the meeting.
"I don't even know that my secretary had a meeting with editors recently,"
said Ndlovu, a Mugabe loyalist. The partial blackout is seen as part of the
bitter internal infighting in Zanu PF over who will succeed Mugabe. Mujuru
and her husband, retired army general Solomon Mujuru, lead a Zanu PF faction
that is vigorously pushing for Mugabe's retirement. The faction has on two
occasions since last year successfully blocked Mugabe's efforts to win
endorsement as the Zanu-PF candidate for next year's presidential election,
forcing the necessity of a special Zanu PF congress in December to settle
the matter. Another faction led by Rural Housing and Social Amenities
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and supported by war veterans, has thrown its
hat in with Mugabe, hoping for a swap deal.
The state media has of late given acres of space to war veterans and other
pro-Mugabe party organs such as the Zanu PF Youth League and Women's League.
From The Daily Mail (UK), 19 September
By Gwyneth Rees
British Airways is expected to announce that it is to end its flights to the
Zimbabwean capital Harare. The UK's largest carrier is to cease flying to
the beleaguered country in October, citing economic reasons. In a statement
issued last night, it said: "We have made no secret about the fact we have
been reviewing our Harare service. We will be announcing the conclusions
very shortly." British Airways is currently the only European carrier that
flies to Harare, with three flights a week leaving from Heathrow airport.
Although the airline insists that any decision will be for "commercial
reasons" and not a boycott of Robert Mugabe's despotic regime, the step is
likely to increase the isolation of the ruler. It may also encourage other
British businesses to review their links with the south African country,
which has seen inflation rocket to 8,000 per cent. Shops also have no food,
hospitals have no medicine and the average life expectancy is 37 for men and
34 for women.
The decision to axe flights will be a huge step for British Airways, which
has been flying to Harare since the 1930s. The only gap in the service was
between 1965 and 1979, when flights were suspended due to economic
sanctions. It is thought that those wishing to continue to fly to Zimbabwe
will have to fly to Johannesburg in South Africa and get a connecting flight
with a BA franchise airline Comair. Passengers who have booked Harare
flights with BA leaving from October onwards are likely to be contacted in
the near future about making different arrangements. The decision comes in
the week the Archbishop of York called for tough economic and sporting
sanctions against Robert Mugabe's tyrannical regime in Zimbabwe.
Ugandan-born Dr John Sentamu called Mugabe a racist dictator and compared
him to his own country's murderous leader of the 1970s, Idi Amin. Last year,
Air Zimbabwe suspended its own flights to London fearing the seizure of its
planes by a European navigation agency over a $2.8 million debt.
Monsters and Critics
Sep 19, 2007, 9:52 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - Zimbabwe's main political parties have agreed that
President Robert Mugabe should no longer be allowed to handpick members of
the lower house of assembly, reports said Wednesday.
The ruling ZANU-PF and the two factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) agreed on Tuesday to amend Zimbabwe's constitution
to create a bigger parliament of 210 elected members, the official Herald
Currently the lower house of assembly has 120 elected members. Thirty other
seats are taken by chiefs, generally seen as loyal to Mugabe, as well as
governors and non-constituency MPs directly appointed by the president.
If the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill is passed into law, the
83-year old president will only be allowed to appoint some members of the
upper house of parliament, the Senate.
The number of seats in the Senate will be increased from 66 to 93. Sixteen
chiefs will have seats in the Senate, as will 10 provincial governors who
are chosen by Mugabe. The president will also handpick five more senators.
In a surprise move, MDC members of parliament (MPs) on Tuesday allowed the
bill through its second reading without blocking it.
The opposition had been expected to mount some resistance to the bill, which
allows for joint presidential and parliamentary polls in 2008 and had been
condemned by some as a means of entrenching Mugabe's hold on power.
Thokozani Khupe, the deputy leader of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction,
said her party decided to co-operate with the ruling party as a
confidence-building measure following negotiations led by South Africa.
The new legislation will give the lower house of assembly powers to appoint
a successor to the president should he die in office or retire before his
Currently Zimbabwe's constitution says that the vice president should take
over running the country and an election be held within three months.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 is expected to
seek another term in office in elections next year.
The watershed polls are expected to take place in March, although
unconfirmed reports say the political parties are considering postponing
them to June.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
19 September 2007
ZIMBABWE's bitter rival political parties, the ruling Zanu (PF) and the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), yesterday reached an
agreement on constitutional amendments to facilitate joint presidential and
parliamentary elections next year.
The agreement, announced in parliament amid expectations it would pave the
way to resolve the country's worsening political and economic crisis, almost
certainly ensures President Robert Mugabe would be re-elected for another
five-year term of office. This would extend his rule to 32 years.
Mugabe has been desperate to ensure the Constitutional Amendment (Number 18)
Bill is adopted by both Zanu (PF) and the MDC to guarantee the legitimacy of
his grand plan to secure re-election and manage his succession crisis.
Even if Zanu (PF) has the necessary majority to pass the Bill alone, it
would have been viewed as illegitimate if the MDC did not endorse it. By
agreeing to the bill, the MDC unwittingly ensures Mugabe goes to the
elections in a much stronger position than he would have done if the bill
was not passed with its support.
The bill is designed to bring together the presidential and parliamentary
Officially, government claims this will help to cut down the costs of
elections, but the real reason was revealed in the Zanu (PF) central
committee meeting on March 30.
Zanu (PF) senior official and legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa
said joint elections would help Mugabe's re-election bid because it would
ensure Mugabe and ruling party MPs' political fates were tied together.
Minutes of the March 30 meeting also show that the decision to hold the
joint elections was not a Zanu (PF) resolution, but that of Mugabe,
Mnangagwa and senior party official Patrick Chinamasa who is currently
spearheading Mugabe's plan in parliament.
Zanu (PF) overwhelmingly wanted the elections in 2010, but powerful elements
unilaterally declared they would be held in 2008.
Retired army commander general Solomon Mujuru, a powerful force in
Zimbabwean politics, blocked Zanu (PF)'s original effort to have both
elections in 2010, saying Mugabe would benefit from another two years in
The bill also helps Mugabe to manage his explosive succession battle.
It ensures Mugabe's successor is hand-picked by parliament and Zanu (PF)
insiders, which guarantees Mnangagwa will take power, sidelining the Mujuru
While Mugabe makes concessions on electoral issues in the bill as a result
of the ongoing talks between Zanu (PF) and the MDC facilitated by President
Thabo Mbeki, Mugabe and Chinamasa made it clear in the Zanu (PF) politburo
on September 5 the changes agreed to would not affect their grip on power.
Mbeki and the MDC are under pressure to salvage something from the talks.
Mbeki wants a solution for the 14-nation Southern African Development
Community, while the MDC wants a negotiated settlement.
But in the end Mugabe and Zanu (PF) emerge as winners because the Bill takes
off pressure with a manageable early election.
Meanwhile, an international think-tank yesterday called on SADC leaders to
put pressure on Mugabe to retire.
In a report entitled Zimbabwe: A Regional Solution? the ICG said the SADC
was Zimbabwe's "only real hope". It urges western leaders "to close ranks"
The report coincided with the release of figures by Zimbabwe's Central
Statistics Office that showed hyperinflation had slowed to an annualised
6593% , down from 7635% in July.
The drop was attributed to a government decree in June forcing traders to
slash prices by over half on a range of goods.
The move resulted in panic buying and widespread shortages. With Sapa-AFP
Comment from ZWNEWS, 19 September
There you have it. Yesterday, without even token resistance from the
opposition, yet another amendment to the constitution - the 18th - sailed
unopposed another stage closer to becoming law. The opposition, of course,
lacks the parliamentary votes to block the Bill's progress. But by failing
to put up even ultimately futile arguments against the Bill in parliament,
they have done precisely what the government desires. They have begun the
process - however unwittingly - of cooperating in their own demise.
The amending Bill contains many cosmetic changes labelled by the ruling
party as concessions to the opposition negotiators: alterations here and
there to the initially proposed increased number of constituencies, MPs, and
senators, new rules on the demarcation of constituencies, a reduction in the
number of appointed MPs. But the power of the president to name his
successor - through his party's majority in parliament - remains included in
this odious Bill. And glaring by its omission is any mention of the
comprehensively rigged voters' roll, the totally biased electoral apparatus
and election courts, and the various Zanu PF-controlled militias that make
any talk of free and fair elections a sick joke.
And all this based on a nod and a wink that the ruling party - among the
least trustworthy administrations on the planet - may relax the effects of
POSA, AIPPA, and all the other draconian legislation which has so
effectively denied political choice to Zimbabwean voters ever since the
referendum in February 2000. The opposition says that the decision not to
oppose was to show goodwill in the continuing South African-brokered talks
with the government. But bets are now off as to whether their show of
goodwill will be tossed aside - it is now just a question of when. And when
the opposition does cry foul, before or after next year's elections, their
behaviour yesterday will be thrown back in their faces. "You agreed to the
constitutional amendments," the governments of both Zimbabwe and South
Africa will say. They won't have an answer. They will have been co-opted
into legitimising the Zanu PF regime.
SADC and the AU will trumpet the elections as being free and fair, despite
all the evidence to the contrary. Mbeki will travel the world saying, with
tongue firmly in cheek, to anyone who will listen: "How many elections does
Mugabe have to win in order for you to accept that he is the properly
elected president of Zimbabwe?" And the repression and economic decline will
continue. Does nobody remember the brief interregnum between Smith and
Mugabe, when Abel Muzorewa was a very token prime minister? As it turned
out, his power was illusory, and the violence and economic slide got worse
and worse during his tenure. This constitutional agreement will confer even
less power on the opposition than was allowed to Muzorewa. Welcome to
From VOA News, 18 September
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
Washington - Consumer inflation in Zimbabwe declined in August to 6,592.8%
compared with July's figure of 7,634.8%, the country's Central Statistical
Office reported Tuesday, but economists questioned whether the figures
reflected the true cost of living. The agency attributed the slowdown of
more than 1,000 percentage points to a drop in prices for food and
non-alcoholic beverages resulting from the government's June-July campaign
to force producers, wholesalers and retailers to slash their prices. It said
the cost of living rose 11.8% in August after 31.6% in July. But independent
economists said they doubted inflation had declined, noting that the
statistical agency based its findings on official, controlled prices,
whereas consumers must pay far more on the parallel market to obtain
extremely scarce goods. Harare Economist Eric Bloch told VOA that the CSO
figures flatter inflation performance for two reasons. On the one hand,
inflation has been in the stratosphere for so long that the base of
comparison 12 months ago makes for a less stunning percentage change. More
importantly, he added, the latest report is not based on real-world prices
and "disregards the fact that virtually no products are available at the
official prices." The latest data "are totally false, totally meaningless,
because they are based on prices at which one cannot obtain goods," Bloch
concluded, estimating that in fact inflation has climbed to about 14,000% -
more than double the official rate.
September 19, 2007, 18:15
Deputy minister of foreign affairs, Aziz Pahad, said tough decisions need to
be taken to prevent Zimbabwe's economic crisis from escalating. Pahad was
speaking at a weekly press conference at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
A task team, made up of Southern African Development Community finance
ministers, is to come up with a plan of action. Inflation in Zimbabwe is now
at 1 000%.
The South African government has hailed the constitutional changes agreed to
by all the parties in Zimbabwe as a positive development. It allows for
changes in the constitution to prepare for free and fair elections.
Yesterday, the ruling ZANU-PF and the two factions of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change announced an agreement on the adoption of a
bill for joint presidential and legislative elections next year. The
amendments also give Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe sufficient clout to
hand pick his successor.
Earlier, Pahad said South Africa's stance of "quiet diplomacy" was showing
results. This comes a day after Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on Britain to
toughen its stance on Zimbabwe and press its neighbours, including South
Africa, to intervene.
SW Radio Africa (London)
19 September 2007
Posted to the web 19 September 2007
After 4 years of battling to get the African Commission on Human and
People's Rights to hear his torture case against the government of Zimbabwe,
lawyer and human rights activist Gabriel Shumba has finally scored a major
He received a communication from the Commission acknowledging that his case
will be heard at the next session. A jubilant Shumba said he is optimistic
he will win the case, because he has affidavits from doctors, including
government doctors, and witnesses to support his claims.
Shumba was forced to leave the country in March 2003 after he was tortured
while in police custody. He has been assisting Zimbabwean refugees in South
Africa since then, and pushing for his case to be accepted by this organ of
the African Union.
Shumba said he has pursued this case because he wanted others who were
victimized to know that they have options that allow them to pursue justice
using the Commission as a platform. "I also wanted the world to know that
even lawyers like myself are not immune to assault or torture under the
Mugabe regime." The lawyer believes a victory could also compel other
governments to desist from torturing their citizens.
On our programme In The Balance, Shumba told presenter Gugulethu Moyo that
he wanted the Zimbabwean government to desist from the practice of torture
and abide by article 5 of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.
He also wanted payment for pain and suffering incurred during the horrendous
The lawyer acknowledged it is difficult to enforce decisions made by the
Commission, especially if the offending government is stubborn as in the
case of Zimbabwe. But he said he is happy that at last the Commission has
agreed there is a case to answer.
From The Baltimore Sun, 19 September
Mugabe power remains intact in package seen as part of economic rescue
By Robyn Dixon
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's ruling party agreed to modest democratic reforms
yesterday ahead of national elections, including slashing the presidential
term by a year, ending presidential appointment of legislators and expanding
the lower house of parliament. The reform package, however, left intact the
sweeping powers wielded by President Robert G. Mugabe, and failed to address
the southern African nation's flawed electoral rolls, less than six months
before national elections are to be held. Although some analysts hailed the
accord between the ruling Zanu PF party and two factions of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change as an important step toward strengthening
democracy in Zimbabwe, others viewed it as a cynical concession by a ruling
party that is confident it can beat a fractured opposition in March
elections. The deal also was seen as a bid by Mugabe's regime to win greater
credibility for its electoral procedures as it seeks a regional rescue
package for its collapsing economy. "It's a very major development in terms
of African solutions for African problems," government spokesman George
Charamba said in a telephone interview. He said the reforms answer "all
these claims made, especially by the Western media, that the negotiations
between Zanu PF and the MDC are going nowhere. ... Now that there is this
working relationship between the two parties, it is interesting to see how
this whole argument justifying sanctions will go. I'd really like to see how
they would justify that."
The agreement came as the International Crisis Group called on the West to
drop travel bans and an asset freeze imposed on Zimbabwe's elite, and
suggested Mugabe and other leaders be offered immunity from prosecution as a
way out of the country's economic and political crisis. Mugabe and his
allies are believed to fear charges in connection with the massacres of
thousands by government security forces in Matebeleland in the 1980s. A
report by the Roman Catholic Church estimated that about 20,000 were killed.
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was arrested last year and became
the first former African leader to face an international tribunal on
war-crime charges over his alleged role in Sierra Leone's civil war. He had
been in exile in Nigeria since relinquishing power in 2003. Mugabe has ruled
Zimbabwe since the former British colony, then known as Rhodesia, won
independence in 1980 after a liberation war that had made him an enduring
hero in many parts of Southern Africa. Human rights abuses and the country's
decline from one of the region's wealthiest nations to one of its poorest
since have damaged his legacy. The International Monetary Fund has predicted
hyperinflation, now more than 7,500 percent annually, could reach 100,000
percent by the end of the year. Jonathon Moyo, a former Zanu PF Minister who
was sacked by Mugabe for alleged disloyalty, said that while the government
appears confident of victory in March, it is increasingly panicked at
economic chaos sparked by its price-control policies.
"This is an acknowledgment by the ruling party and by the president that
there's a crisis that needs to be resolved," Moyo said. "There is a crisis
which has reached boiling point and left everyone, the ruling party
included, in uncharted waters, and there is desperate search for a way out.
There are 1,000 miles to walk, and this is the first step in the first
mile." To obtain the reform package, which also included restrictions on the
president's power to draw electoral boundaries, the opposition agreed to a
government plan to let parliament choose Mugabe's successor upon his
retirement or death. Mugabe increasingly relies on a narrow group of
security and military chiefs for backing, as support in the broader ruling
party falters over concerns about the country's economic chaos. A spokesman
for the smaller of the two MDC factions, Welshman Ncube, said in a telephone
interview that the opposition continued to seek more sweeping constitutional
and electoral change before the March elections. There have been reports the
government is willing to give ground on these issues as well.
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
19 September 2007
Posted to the web 19 September 2007
Desperate measures being taken by residents of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
city, to cushion the effects of acute water shortages are aggravating the
health problems of its 1.5 million residents.
Stringent water rationing has been introduced in a bid to make the contents
of fast-dwindling dams last until the onset of the expected rains in
November, but the municipal council acknowledges that the poor inflows of
water into the southern city's reservoirs has led to an increase in
Council spokesperson Pathisa Nyathi told IRIN the "Council is making every
effort to ensure those who have contracted diarrhoea receive treatment
before more people are affected," but declined to disclose how many
residents had suffered from waterborne diseases since the shortages began in
earnest five months ago.
"We are praying that we do not get a cholera outbreak because that will be
difficult to control, but as water shortages continue we are likely to get a
cholera outbreak in the city, but as of now we are doing everything to
contain the diarrhoea and dysentery cases," Nyathi said.
The situation is critical and as water levels deteriorate, residents will be
getting water once in every eleven days, and we expect this to happen as
from the beginning of October
"The situation is critical and as water levels deteriorate, residents will
be getting water once in every eleven days, and we expect that to happen as
from the beginning of October this year."
Last year's poor rains, which resulted in some of the city's dams being
decommissioned, has translated into a life of waiting for Makhosana Siziba,
a resident in the working-class suburb of Nkulumane. "Life has become a
routine of queuing," Siziba told IRIN, who spends up to five hours daily at
one of the municipality's boreholes.
"At times fights break out over positions in the water queue. As far as I
can recall it has never been as bad as this," the 45-year-old mother of
three said, remembering the 1992 drought when water rationing was also
introduced in the city.
Hand pumps find favour
Zimbabwe's seven-year economic recession, which has seen inflation climb to
over 6,000 percent and shortages of electricty, fuel and food become
commonplace, is deepening the plight of residents, because many borehole
pumps are driven by electric motors.
"When electricity is cut we have to walk to the neighbouring suburb, where a
non-governmental organisation (NGO) has sunk a borehole fitted with a hand
pump. In most cases, the queue will have stretched for almost a kilometre,"
she told IRIN.
The difficulty in obtaining water means her children leave for school
without washing, as "regular bathing has become a luxury", she said.
To counter the erratic electricity supply, the Department for International
Development, an international aid agency, has equipped 176 of the 230
boreholes sunk in and around the city with hand pumps so water can still be
drawn when power outages occur, albeit at a slower pace, causing even longer
Impatient residents have taken to digging shallow wells, but the lower
levels of hygiene associated with this are heightening the risk of
waterborne diseases, despite pleas from the city authorities to refrain from
Bulawayo resident Mandla Ndlovu told IRIN that sourcing water from the
backyard wells has had its consequences. "My family suffered stomach aches
and had to be hospitalised after drinking water from the unprotected wells,
and we are now resorting to buying water sourced from boreholes, as it is
A 20-litre bucket of water sells for Z$25,000 (US$0.09 at the parallel
market rate of Z$300,000 to US$1) in working-class suburbs, while in
middle-class areas the same amount of water fetches twice as much.
Prioritising water use is having a knock-on effect on sanitation practices:
in a bid to reduce water consumption, households are using flush toilets
sparingly and instead digging shallow furrows in their backyards for
"We have to use the water sparingly whenever possible. We are fortunate that
we have a big yard, and reserve the use of temporary pit latrines for
children to relieve themselves, while the adults use the flush toilet
indoors," said Siphathekile Ngwenya, 50, in the suburb of Waterford.
"It works for me because I have five children of my own, two others I
inherited from my late sister, and an ailing mother-in law to look after,"
Ngwenya told IRIN.
Underground water supplies polluted
Bulawayo's health services director, Dr Zanele Hwalima, has warned against
pit latrines because of the associated health risks. "Wide use of pit
latrines in built-up areas such as the high-density suburbs is not feasible,
considering the proximity of houses in these areas."
"Bulawayo is increasingly relying on borehole water for domestic use. The
use of thousands of pit latrines in high-density suburbs will pollute our
underground water systems, and lead to other unforeseen environmental
problems," said director of Housing and Community Services Isaiah Magagula.
Bulawayo is increasingly relying on borehole water for domestic use. The use
of thousands of pit latrines in high density suburbs will pollute our
underground water systems
Residents are aware of the dangers of polluting the groundwater and are
taking measures to alleviate the effect of their alternative sanitation
practices by "borrowing" from the ecological sanitation (Ecosan) system
developed by the UN children's fund (UNICEF) and World Vision.
The concept involves twin pit toilets, one metre deep, dug adjacent to each
other. One hole is kept as dry as possible and after every visit to the
toilet a mixture of ashes and soil is added to the pit to raise the pH
level, which balances the acidity or alkalinity of the contents and inhibits
the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
The only somewhat silver lining to the widespread electricity outages is
that wood is increasingly being used as a fuel for cooking and warmth,
generating plenty of ash to sprinkle into pit latrines.
In periods of normal rainfall, five reservoirs - Inyankuni, Lower Ncema,
Insiza, Umzingwane and Upper Ncema - supply the city's daily requirement of
120,000 cubic metres of water, but two of its dams, Umzingwane and Upper
Ncema, have been decommissioned, leaving only 69,000 cubic metres for all
the city's requirements.
Another of the city's reservoirs, Insiza, is to be decommissioned at the end
of September, which will make the water shortage even more acute. The
council plans to deploy water bowsers to alleviate the situation, but there
are fears that it may not have the necessary resources to cope with the
The politics of water
The last supply dam for Bulawayo was built by the council in 1976, before
the Water Act was amended, giving sole authority for dam construction to the
central government. No dams have been constructed for the city by President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government since it assumed power in 1980, when
Zimbabwe obtained independence from Britain.
However, the southwestern part of the country, including Matabeleland North
and South provinces, has tended to support the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in elections.
Although the water shortages are generally being attributed to severe
drought conditions, the resident ZANU-PF government minister for Bulawayo,
Cain Mathema, is blaming the city council.
The city is in this water crisis because of politics and poor planning by
the opposition [MDC] council. They should allow government to take over
"The city is in this water crisis because of politics and poor planning by
the opposition [MDC] council. They should allow government to take over
water supply through ZINWA [Zimbabwe National Water Authority] and unless
that is done government will not help out."
The executive mayor of Bulawayo, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, was elected to office
in 2002 and has resisted attempts by ZINWA to assume responsibility for the
sewerage and water management of the city. The mayor claims that the
government water authority has failed to deliver water services to other
cities, such as the national capital, Harare, when it assumed overall
responsibility for water services.
"Our view is that [the Bulawayo] council would prefer the status quo, as it
has not failed in its mandate to deliver water to the consumers. There is
nothing confrontational about this," Ndabeni-Ncube said.
Among several government departments in arrears to the Bulawayo council for
water and sewage charges, amounting to a total of Z$8.5 billion (US$28,350),
the Rural Resources and Water Development ministry, which falls under the
authority of ZINWA, owes the Bulawayo city council its biggest debt - Z$3.9
To boost water supplies, the council is attempting to resuscitate boreholes
in the Nyamandlovu Aquifer, about 50km northeast of the city. Only eight of
the aquifer's 77 boreholes are functioning, yielding 298 cubic meters of
water per day, as opposed to the 16,000 cubic metres supplied to the city
when all boreholes are operational.
It will cost Z$50 billion (US$166,660) to rehabilitate the 69
non-operational boreholes, but the ZANU-PF government has been reluctant to
release the money for the project.
Instead, it favours the construction of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water
Project, which envisages the construction of a 450km pipeline to divert
water from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo at a cost of about Z$600 billion
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
19 September 2007
MOZAMBICAN President Armando Guebuza said that Zimbabwe remained a "very
serious problem", but one which "is in very good hands" - those of President
Thabo Mbeki, who was appointed a mediator in Zimbabwe's political crisis by
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at its summit in March.
Guebuza was talking at a roundtable discussion organised yesterday by the
University of Pretoria. He is in the capital for a SA-Mozambique heads of
state economic bilateral commission meeting with Mbeki.
The Mozambican president ducked a question on whether it was important that
a group of former African statesmen be set up to help Mbeki prevail on
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to accept and implement reforms and, most
critically, convince him to retire in 2008.
Guebuza said, however, that Mbeki enjoyed total confidence from his SADC
peers. "We do support him and we understand that dialogue between Zimbabwe's
ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is at an
Guebuza's comments come a day after the Brussels-based International Crisis
Group (ICG) released its latest report, titled: Zimbabwe: A regional
According to the ICG, it was critical that all international actors closed
ranks behind the Mbeki mediation. Western sanctions had proven symbolic and
condemnation from the UK and the US, if anything, was counterproductive
because it helped Mugabe claim he was the victim of neo-colonial ambitions.
The ICG report also said that SADC should use its leverage, extend to
Zimbabwe desperately needed aid and ask the west to lift its sanctions only
for full Zanu-PF co-operation with the mediation process and implementation
of reforms that will allow free and fair elections.
Guebuza said that the political and economic situations in Zimbabwe were
intertwined and it would not be possible to solve one without solving the
"Once the political problems have been solved, we may look at the economic
component of the whole issue and make sure everything moves smoothly," he
But the ICG said that should co-operation from Zanu-PF not be forthcoming,
Mbeki should "candidly and promptly acknowledge failure".
It said that the SADC should refuse to endorse any election which was not
the product of mediation and be ready to isolate Mugabe and his regime.
SW Radio Africa (London)
19 September 2007
Posted to the web 19 September 2007
Two student leaders, severely assaulted by campus police then arrested on
Tuesday, were released late Wednesday after paying fines.
The president of the University of Zimbabwe students union, Lovemore
Chinoputsa, and his Secretary General Fortune Chamba had been arrested
during a demonstration on the UZ campus calling for a resolution to the
housing problems affecting students. Benjamin Nyandoro, a programmes officer
in the students union, told us the student leaders paid a Z$2,500 fine each
after police failed to charge them with any particular crime. Chinoputsa is
reported to be badly bruised after beatings all over his body.
The arrests followed a general meeting to discuss the University's refusal
to provide accommodation in the halls of residence.
After the meeting students headed for the Vice Chancellors office to demand
that he address them. It was during this march that plain-clothes security
guards marching with the students arrested Chinoputsa and Chamba. Police
took them to Avondale Police station in Harare.
Over 4000 were kicked out with short notice during a clampdown last
semester. Critics say this was meant to keep a lid on student activism ahead
of next year's elections. The university allegedly connived with city health
authorities and declared the hostels unsuitable for human habitation. This
was despite a High Court order instructing the university to reopen the
hostels. The students are now calling on the UZ to either open the hostels
or renovate them.
SW Radio Africa (London)
19 September 2007
Posted to the web 19 September 2007
The 3 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) who were arrested by police
in Bulawayo on Tuesday were released Wednesday afternoon without paying any
The 3 women, coordinator Magodonga Mahlangu, Rosemary Siziba and Sitshiyiwe
Ngwenya were charged under the Criminal Codification Act for malicious
damage to property owned by the State. The charges relate to messages that
say "choose love over hate" that have been written on roads in Bulawayo's
western suburbs. It is not clear whether police will proceed by way of
summons. The group says there is no evidence at all linking any of the three
activists to the road markings. The homes of 2 other WOZA members were
raided in the last week by police looking for paint, related to the
markings. Nothing has been found.
None of the members were physically harmed, but speaking to Newsreel after
her release Wednesday Mahlangu said she was removed from Bulawayo police
station then driven around town and was finally brought to the 6th street
station 30 kilometres away. She had threatened to go on a hunger strike
until the police charged her and brought her to court. Fortunately lawyers
located her and facilitated her release Wednesday.
While in detention, Mahlangu alleges that Law and Order officers threatened
her with death, saying when her missing dog is found it will be next to her
dead body. The WOZA leader claims her dog Snowy was taken by Officer
Mathonsi the last time the police raided her house. She said this time, the
police said her dog had been given to "the Chinese". Mahlangu said she was
harassed and interrogated all day by officers coming in and out of her cell.
Siziba and Ngwenya were picked up from their homes Tuesday night and taken
to Donnington Police Station and detained until Wednesday. Siziba's one and
a half year old daughter was with her in detention. Mahlangu said the baby
was crying all the time because she was hungry.
WOZA has been at the forefront of street activism in Zimbabwe. Their members
have been assaulted, arrested and harassed by police on many occasions but
this has not stopped them from holding regular, peaceful demonstrations over
the declining economic conditions
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Mugabe may face greater threat from own party than weakened MDC.
By Norman Chitapi in Harare (AR No. 133, 19-Sep-07)
Though President Robert Mugabe is reported by state-controlled media to have
won endorsement from ZANU-PF's powerful Women's League, Youth League,
traditional leaders and war veterans to lead the party in next year's
elections, analysts say his fight for survival is just beginning.
In their view, the biggest threat to his supremacy emanates from other more
powerful groupings within his party who are far less vocal in their support
The decision by the ruling party last week to call for a special congress in
December suggests deeper, behind-the-scenes divisions in the ZANU-PF
The agenda of the meeting has not been made public and the ruling party's
political commissar, Elliot Manyika, said it would be determined by the
But speculation is rife that the purpose of the special congress is to
choose a candidate to represent ZANU-PF in next year's joint presidential
and parliamentary elections after a faction of the ruling party, led by
retired army general Solomon Mujuru, refused to have Mugabe endorsed as the
sole candidate at the party's central committee meeting in March.
Since then, Mugabe has cajoled more pliable wings of his party to
demonstrate their show of support for him as the preferred candidate.
The decision to call for the special congress shows that Mugabe's position
is now even more precarious because he has to fight his battle on two
fronts: within his party and against the opposition, in the form of a
determined, if splintered, Movement for Democratic Change, MDC.
Oppah Muchinguri, leader of the ZANU-PF Women's League and a close associate
of Mugabe, has often been quoted endorsing Mugabe as the sole candidate but
some say she is speaking for herself. She is openly campaigning to replace
Joice Mujuru, wife of Solomon Mujuru, as vice-president. She can only
achieve this feat if Mugabe holds on to the presidency.
All is not well either in the Youth League where vocal Mugabe supporters -
youth leaders Saviour Kasukuwere and his close lieutenant, Patrick Zhuwayo
(who is also Mugabe's nephew) - apparently made false claims that the league
had unanimously endorsed Mugabe as the sole candidate. The two were
subsequently removed from the leadership of the Youth League, ostensibly
because they were "too old". However, analysts believe senior members of the
party opposed to Mugabe were behind the move to clip their wings.
Two weeks ago, war veterans demonstrated on the streets of the capital
Harare, vowing that they would "die with our president" who should be
president for life.
"We don't want to give the imperialists any room to remove him (Mugabe) from
power and we think now is a good time to show the whole world that we are
behind President Mugabe," said war veteran leader Jabulani Sibanda,
explaining the reason for their demonstration. "Anyone in the ruling party
with ambitions to challenge President Mugabe is digging his own grave."
Although he denied that there were factions in ZANU-PF, he referred instead
to "internal reactionary forces within our own party".
Mugabe has called war veterans "torchbearers" of his presidential campaign
but as far as the special congress is concerned they have no independent
vote. Also some analysts say it would be foolish to think that the war
veterans are a homogenous grouping. A week after the demonstration a fight
broke out between senior war veteran leaders in Masvingo city, 300
kilometres south of Harare.
War veteran leader Joseph Chinotimba was beaten up by provincial leaders who
told him they did not support Mugabe's candidature but backed the Mujuru
In May this year, some war veterans said they would not campaign for Mugabe
unless they were given huge cash payments well ahead of the elections.
"You have ignored us all this time only to resurface because there is an
election tomorrow," a war veteran was quoted saying at a meeting in Mutare.
"We are tired of being used. We are not going to campaign for the president
or the party (ZANU-PF) until you give us more money."
Analysts say Mugabe would have to fork out huge sums to placate this
important grouping, as he did in November 1997 when he gave each of the
50,000 or so former fighters a lump sum of 50,000 Zimbabwe dollars each, as
well as other unbudgeted-for perks. The Zimbabwe dollar collapsed in the
aftermath of that "black November" decision, setting the country's economy
into a tailspin which continues today.
The embattled Mugabe has bribed traditional leaders in rural areas by giving
them new vehicles for their personal use. He has said they can buy fuel from
the money they receive from penalties paid by offenders under their
jurisdiction. Traditional leaders are empowered by the constitution to try
minor crimes in their areas and charge fines.
Analysts note that traditional leaders can easily manipulate their subjects
to vote according to their bidding. Food shortages have only made rural
communities more dependent on government handouts which come through chiefs.
In past elections, traditional leaders have been ordered to herd their
subjects to polling stations where they then "helped them mark their
ballots" because they were illiterate. That way Mugabe's victory in the
populous rural areas has been guaranteed. With the latest gifts to the
chiefs, their voting pattern is a foregone conclusion. But the urban-rural
drift which followed Operation Murambatsvina - where hundreds of thousands
of people had their dwellings destroyed, leaving them with no choice but to
return to their rural homes - may change voting patterns in the rural areas.
A political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe said Mugabe was
personally facing a greater threat from within his own party than from the
weakened MDC. He said in recent months Mugabe had begun warming towards a
faction led by Rural Amenities Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who "because of
the nature of his portfolio should be closer than anyone to influence the
majority rural voters.
"There is no doubt that Mugabe is having more sleepless nights [because of
threats] from within his own party than from the MDC," said the commentator.
"He would have loved to have been endorsed as the sole presidential
candidate at the March meeting but that did not happen and he is angry. That
has driven him closer to the rival faction led by Mnangagwa who sees this as
a chance to improve his prospects against Mujuru."
The political scientist said it was not a coincidence that Sibanda, the head
of the war veterans, was also personally close to Mnangagwa. "When it really
comes to the elections, we know what the war veterans can do," he said.
"Mugabe would like to use them as his foot soldiers just as he has done in
the past. This will undermine Mujuru's influence. But when it comes to the
special congress, there will be so much noise about Mugabe [from the women
and youth leagues] we may never hear what Mujuru stands for."
Another analyst said that a wily Mugabe had cleverly linked his fate to that
of his ministers and members of parliament by holding presidential and
parliamentary elections at the same time. He said it would be difficult for
his members of parliament to "delink" their campaign to the president's. "It
means every MP who is campaigning for ZANU-PF is also campaigning for
Mugabe, because if ZANU-PF loses the MP also loses his seat," he said.
"Similarly, one cannot vote for a ZANU-PF MP and not vote for Mugabe."
But will he survive the extraordinary congress? Analysts say the battle
lines are drawn but which way the fight will go is not yet clear.
Norman Chitapi is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe
Sep 19 2007 09:06 AM
Chris Muronzi - Finweek's Harare correspondent
Harare - Zimbabwe has increased prices of foodstuffs and fertiliser after
consulting the business community in a desperate bid to end
shortages.State-owned daily The Herald reported that prices of foodstuffs
were reviewed by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC), the
price monitoring team, to ensure viability of firms. Prices of maize-meal,
salt, milk, cooking oil, beef, pork, as well as lagers, opaque beer and
carbonated drinks were increased.NIPC chairperson Rose Siyachitema told the
paper that although her commission is determined to protect consumers, she
wants a win-win situation for industry as well."The commission assures the
public and the business community that it will diligently carry out its
mandate of protecting the consumer while at the same time ensuring viability
for business."The commission will strive to maintain a balance between
viability and affordability. All manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers
are urged to comply with the prices," Siyachitema said.Inflation figures
'doctored'She also warned that business that did not comply with the new
order would attract an appropriate punishment.President Robert Mugabe
ordered businesses to halve prices of goods and accused them of causing a
runaway inflation, the highest in the world.At least 7 000 businesspeople
had been arrested by end of July for defying Mugabe's orders.Owing to
Mugabe's price control and monitoring policy, foodstuffs vanished from shops
but are available on the black market.According to the Central Statistical
Office (CSO), August inflation dropped below the 7 000% mark because of
price controls.But critics say the CSO's figures are doctored.It remains to
be seen if the latest price review will stimulate supplies of goods. Past
increases have done little to stimulate supplies. - Fin24