MBEKI PRODS MUGABE TO ENGAGE MDC Thurs 23 September
NEW YORK - South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki yesterday met
President Robert Mugabe in New York as the South African leader pursues his
"behind the scenes campaign" to help find a solution to the Zimbabwe
Full details of the meeting, held on the fringes of the
United Nations General Assembly session which opened yesterday, were not
released but ZimOnline is reliably informed that Mbeki again tried to
persuade Mugabe to re-start stalled dialogue with the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
"The President (Mbeki) is of the
view that there is no other alternative to dialogue in Zimbabwe. As long as
both the MDC and ZANU PF remain at loggerheads and refuse to acknowledge the
urgent need for dialogue, the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe will
continue to unravel," said a senior South African official travelling with
"As far as I know the President (Mbeki) has repeated this
stance in his meeting today with President Mugabe. As you know this has been
his behind the scenes campaign in recent times. There is little else that
the President (Mbeki) can do because Zimbabwe is a sovereign country. He can
only encourage dialogue as he sees no other way out for
But South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic
Alliance, said yesterday that Mbeki's behind the scenes approach on Zimbabwe
had failed dismally and it was high time it was changed. It said a more
public approach on Zimbabwe is now needed.
Mbeki met an MDC
delegation led by the party's secretary general Welshman Ncube last weekend.
The meeting was one of many that Mbeki has held with the opposition in
recent times to try and resuscitate dialogue between the ruling ZANU PF
party and the MDC.
He has also met ZANU PF representatives on
several occasions but his efforts to nudge the two parties into dialogue
have so far failed.
Mbeki called the latest meeting with the MDC
after the opposition party decided to suspend participation in all elections
in Zimbabwe until Mugabe's government complies with the recently introduced
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) norms and standards on free and
South African officials say Mbeki fears that an MDC
pull-out from next March's parliamentary elections will plunge Zimbabwe into
crisis and worsen an already untenable situation in South Africa's northern
The MDC has already threatened mass protests if Mugabe
Ncube said his party urged Mbeki to
appoint an envoy to help spur dialogue between the two parties. It remains
unclear whether or not Mbeki will consider that option. If he does, it seems
likely that such an envoy would embark on a futile mission.
ZimOnline understands that the ruling ZANU PF Politburo has resolved not to
engage the MDC in any renewed talks ahead of the parliamentary
The ruling party has adopted a "take it or leave it
approach" and wants the MDC to adopt the electoral reforms that it has
decided to introduce unilaterally because they "are in the MDC's own
The MDC argues that the reforms, which include the
setting up of an "independent" electoral commission and one day polling, do
not go far enough. - ZimOnline
Mugabe draws applause at UN Thurs 23 September
NEW YORK - President Robert Mugabe's routine criticism of US
President George W Bush and British premier Tony Blair scaled new heights
yesterday when he accused the two leaders of establishing a new
"political-cum-religious" doctrine: "there is one political god, George W
Bush, and Tony Blair is his prophet."
This comment in his
speech to the UN General Assembly drew wild applause from delegates from
Third World countries who share Mugabe's anti-Western rhetoric and who
disagree with Bush and Blair's widely condemned war in Iraq.
Mugabe also launched a broadside at Bush and Blair for delaying reform of
the UN Security Council in what he called a "calculated" attempt at trying
to preserve the influence of their two countries at the UN. He condemned the
two leaders of double standards for waging an "unjust" war in Iraq while
"Ironically, it is the same forces (who preach
democracy) that since last year have been raining bombs and hellfire on
innocent Iraqis, purportedly in the name of democracy," he
Mugabe said sadistic scenes in Iraq's Abu Gharib prison and
Guantanamo Bay had provided "useful examples of the Western concept of
respect for human rights".
"Let me say once again the West
should spare us their lessons on human rights," he said.
attacked Blair for allegedly advocating regime change in
"Mr Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has
arrogantly and unashamedly announced in his parliament that his government
was working with Zimbabwe's main opposition party to bring about regime
change," he said.
"Once again, the lawless nature of this man who
along (with) his Washington master believes he is God-ordained to rule our
world, has shown itself," he said.
Former colonial masters were
in no position to teach lessons in democracy, he declared.
"Here in the United States, we remain aware of the plight of the black
American of both yesterday and today, and of the semi-slave and half-citizen
status that has been his burden," Mugabe added.
that Zimbabwe's economy was recovering despite international sanctions and
lambasted the International Monetary Fund over what he described as "its
strange mouthings, lies and fabrications about our situation".
The IMF is closing its offices in Harare.
"Zimbabwe has had to
withstand unprovoked, declared and undeclared sanctions, imposed by Britain
and its allies who are bent on bringing down our legitimately elected
government," said Mugabe.
He added that the UN charter remained the
only most "sacred document and proponent of the relations of our nations.
Anything else is political heresy."
Mugabe was also applauded
when he departed from his prepared speech to attack Europe saying, "we do
not need any lessons from the Netherlands and its imperialist allies of the
European Union" on organising the elections.
"Zimbabwe will indeed
welcome to these elections those observers whose sole and undivided purpose
will be to observe the process and not to meddle in the politics of the
British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was due to meet
South African President Thabo Mbeki in New York yesterday to implore him to
do more to end the Zimbabwe crisis. Mugabe also criticised the use of
Western aid to interfere with sovereignty of weaker countries.
"Regrettably, we continue to see the unfortunate and futile tendency to use
assistance in this area as reward for political compliance and malleability,
making it unavailable to countries whose governments are deemed
inconvenient," he said.
Mugabe also criticised the US for what he
perceives as entrenched racism in the country. "When shall we ever have a
black or Afro-American president of the United States? Never, ever,"
remarked Mugabe. - ZimOnline.
MDC releases dossier tabling litany of abuses Thurs 23
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main Movement for Democratic
Change opposition party yesterday accused the government of restricting
citizens' participation in the governance of the country and of using food
to punish its supporters in violation of regional norms and standards for
In a document released in Harare yesterday, the MDC
detailed what it said was evidence of the government's violation of Southern
African Development Community (SADC) norms for elections since August
SADC leaders including President Robert Mugabe last month
agreed that only independent commissions should run elections to ensure
democracy in the region. Under the regional standards, citizens must be
allowed full participation in the political process while voting and
electoral processes must be sufficiently transparent and
The MDC has said it will not participate in next year's
general election unless Mugabe fully implements the SADC electoral
The opposition party said a new Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGOs) law proposed by the government will effectively
restrict citizens' participation in the political process.
draft NGO Bill, which the government is expected to pass next month, will
bar civic bodies from carrying out voter education while those wishing to
engage in human rights work will be prohibited from receiving funding from
The MDC said the police continued to prevent
opposition parties and other critics of the government from holding meetings
or public demonstrations in breach of SADC standards that call for equal
opportunity for all contestants.
The MDC's dossier reads in
part: "(On) 1 September - police broke up a peaceful demonstration by the
National Constitutional Assembly (a coalition of civic bodies in Zimbabwe)
against the proposed NGO Bill. Many demonstrators were beaten and 41
The MDC said the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Authority continued to maintain a blackout on the party's activities despite
provisions under the SADC protocol that all political parties must have
equal access to the public media.
"(On) 20 September, the state
broadcaster announced it will not accord the MDC airtime. The ZBC claimed it
was not covering the MDC because the party had pulled out of the 2005
election. ZANU PF is accorded airtime on ZBC daily inside and outside any
election period," the MDC wrote.
"The state continues to use food
as a political weapon against its opponents," the opposition party also
Government proposals that Mugabe appoint the chairman of a
new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that will run elections in the country and
that the other four members of the commission be nominated by a
government-dominated parliamentary committee also breached SADC's electoral
protocol, said the MDC.
The protocol requires that bodies
charged with running elections must be impartial, inclusive, competent and
Information Minister and government spokesman Jonathan
Moyo yesterday could not be reached for comment on the allegations levelled
by the MDC against the government.
The MDC, which says it will
publish violations of the SADC electoral protocol by the government every
month, is expected to send its dossier to regional governments in its bid to
persuade them to "pressure Harare to fully embrace the protocol." -
High Court to hear urgent application seeking to block farm
evictions Thurs 23 September 2004
HARARE - The High Court today
hears an urgent application by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
requesting it to bar the state from evicting black peasants from former
white farms they seized and occupied in the last three years.
Association director Munyaradzi Bidi said they wanted the government stopped
from burning and destroying the peasants' houses in an attempt to force them
off the farms because it was the government that encouraged the peasants to
settle there in the first place.
He said: "Our argument is that the
government is the one which put these people on the farms in the first
place. We are also asking the court to order the state to respect these
people's human rights to decent accommodation and sanitation. We can't fold
our hands and watch such abuse of human rights continue."
government openly encouraged the peasants to occupy the farms between 2000
and 2003 and ignored several court orders to stop farm invasions saying the
farm invasions were a "legitimate demonstration of land hunger by
Bidi said he hoped the court would grant the order and
allow the families left homeless after security forces destroyed their homes
at Porta, Little England and Inkomo farms, all dotted along Harare's western
boundary, to return to rebuild their lives on the farms.
reports of more distress on the farms continued to reach Harare yesterday as
the army and police burned down farm occupiers' homes across the
At Mfazimithi farm in Bubi-Umguza district, about 35km
outside Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo, a ZimOnline
correspondent saw about 200 families stranded in the bush after armed police
ordered them to vacate the farm.
The families related how more
than 100 policemen raided their settlement earlier this week and ordered
them to leave because the farm was now going to be reallocated under the
government's A2 resettlement scheme.
The A2 scheme is for black
farmers with resources to engage in commercial agriculture while the A1 is
for the poorer peasants. Several senior ruling ZANU PF party and government
officials have used the A2 scheme to allocate themselves several farms each
according to a government land audit report leaked to the Press last
Leader of the families displaced at Mfazimithi farm, David
Mpofu, said: "(The police) told us that the government did not want us in
the area because we had occupied it illegally.
"We tried to
explain our situation to them but they would not listen. They threw our
property out of our houses and threatened to burn the houses and beat us up
if we tried to resist."
Other reports from several former white
farms in the provinces of Mashonaland West and Midlands suggested fear and
confusion at the farms as the black families had either been already forced
off or had been given notices by the state to leave.
government Minister Ignatius Chombo could not be reached for comment
yesterday. But Chombo last week said the evictions were justified because
the occupiers had settled on the farms illegally. He also said the
government would resettle the displaced peasants elsewhere. -
Malawi rights group urges Mugabe to drop NGO Bill Thurs 23
HARARE - Malawian human rights groups have written
to President Robert Mugabe urging him to drop a proposed law that will
severely restrict the activities of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) in
In a letter to Mugabe dated September 10, 2004, Human
Rights Consultative Committee of Malawi chairman Rodgers Newa, said Harare's
draft NGO law was calculated to intimidate into silence independent human
rights defenders in Zimbabwe. ZimOnline received a copy of the letter
Newa said his group was also going to write to the
United Nations' Special Rapportuer on Torture as well as the world body's
Commissioner on Human Rights inviting them to probe human rights violations
The Malawian human rights leader wrote: "(We) learnt
with great concern of the intention of the Government of Zimbabwe to pass a
law on NGOs whose objective the (Malawian human rights) committee considers
to constitute a threat to the continued survival of Zimbabwean
"And, in particular, would place independent human rights
defenders at risk of criminal prosecution for engaging in their legitimate
and peaceful activities of promoting human rights."
law which Mugabe and his government are expected to enact when Parliament
resumes next month proposes the setting up of an NGO Council with powers to
register or deregister NGOs.
Under the proposed law, civic bodies
will be barred from undertaking voter education while those wishing to
implement projects related to human rights issues will be prohibited from
receiving funding from outside Zimbabwe.
The proposed NGO
Council, to be approved by the government, will comprise nine
representatives handpicked by government and five representatives from civil
Civic groups fear the council could be used to deny
registration or deregister NGOs perceived to be
It could not be established yesterday whether
Mugabe had responded yet to Newa's letter or whether the Malawian human
rights group had already written to the United Nations.
Southern African civic society has in the last two months stepped up
criticism against Zimbabwe's proposed NGO law and the country's restrictive
Press and security laws.
Botswana's Ditshwanelo two weeks ago
also castigated what it said was increasing repression in Zimbabwe. Several
South African human rights groups and churches have also called on Harare to
abandon the proposed NGO law and amend its security and Press laws. -
Over 2000 Zimbabweans may get permanent
residence 23 September 2004
Zimbabweans already in New Zealand on
temporary permits may be able to live here
Immigration Minister Paul Swain today said the
Immigration Service would be writing to all Zimbabweans on temporary
permits, who arrived in New Zealand before today, to invite them to have
their immigration status looked at.
More than 2000 Zimbabweans are in New
Zealand having fled Zimbabwe, a country in economic and political
Mr Swain today said in a statement that some were expected to
qualify for permanent residence under existing categories for
Those who did not would be considered under a special residence
policy, he said.
All applicants would undergo stringent health and
No Zimbabweans entering New Zealand after today would be
considered for permanent residence under the special residence
New Zealand last year suspended visa waivers for Zimbabwean
Strict criteria were being applied to new applications for
visitor visas - these visas are issued for short-term stays only.
Swain said Associate Immigration Minister Damien O'Connor would consider any
difficult health and character issues on a case-by-case basis.
O'Connor may also consider requests for special directions from another 150
Zimbabweans who were in New Zealand on expired permits.
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki,
undoubtedly the globally preferred conduit for breaking through Zimbabwe's
political impasse, is mulling appointing an emissary to the country in a
last-ditch bid to untangle the longstanding stalemate between ZANU PF and
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
To this end, this
paper established this week, Mbeki, who has acted as the peace-broker in the
country's nearly five-year political crisis, is scheduled to hold talks with
President Robert Mugabe on the sidelines of the United Nations General
Assembly in New York this week.
The New York talks would touch on
the protracted political fallout pitting President Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
and the main opposition MDC, The Financial Gazette established yesterday.
Mbeki has been at the centre of the delicate arbitration but many feel that
his efforts to bring Zimbabwe's feuding political parties to the negotiating
table have largely come unstuck. But the South African leader is now keen to
kickstart formal talks between the Zimbabwean parties.
Zimbabwean crisis has threatened to suck in other Southern African
Development Community (SADC) member states.
evening, Mbeki met a three-man MDC delegation in Pretoria where the
opposition party briefed him on failed informal talks and its latest
political stance to shun all elections until the government made concessions
on electoral reform.
It was then that it emerged that Mbeki, who is
the chairman of the SADC protocol on politics, defence and security, earlier
had met in Pretoria Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwe's Minister of State
Although Goche could not immediately comment, this
newspaper has it on good authority that he met Mbeki last week and they
discussed Zimbabwe's political crisis.
Welshman Ncube, the MDC
secretary-general, who headed the opposition delegation that included his
deputy Gift Chimanikire and Gibson Sibanda, the party's deputy president,
confirmed meeting Mbeki.
Insiders from both ZANU PF and the MDC
revealed that Mbeki had expressed disappointment over a botched informal
deal hatched by both parties to break the ice.
sources said, had sought to find out how far the informal talks had gone and
why the agreed deal had been abandoned when it had been identified as one
avenue of breaking the political ice in Harare.
The deal entailed
both parties supporting a Bill in parliament that would have resulted in the
introduction of a bicameral parliament to encompass other far-reaching
The Bill, the brainchild of Goche, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa and Ncube, would have seen 50 reserved seats for
Five women would have been drawn from the country's 10
political provinces, according to information availed to this
The terms of the Bill proposed by the trio would come to
parliament as constitutional amendments, according to the source privy to
the informal talks.
Under the same deal the non-constitutional
seats were to be substituted by legislators to be brought to the House
through proportional representation per province.
the MDC deputy secretary-general who was part of the MDC delegation that met
Mbeki last Saturday night in Pretoria, confirmed that the South African
President had indicated he would appoint an emissary but after talking to
"President Mbeki has agreed to appoint an
emissary after learning that the informal talks had broken down. The
emissary will look at the positions the two parties had arrived at before
the informal talks collapsed two weeks ago," said Chimanikire.
"He (President Mbeki) indicated that he will consult Mugabe over the issue
of an emissary in New York this week. After holding discussions with Mugabe,
Mbeki indicated he would then contact the MDC and brief us on what was
discussed," said Chimanikire.
The MDC deputy secretary-general also
confirmed the bicameral deal his party had hammered out with ZANU PF to
break the political stalemate. He added that the deal avoided discussing the
Presidency, limiting it to parliamentary reform.
It is also
understood that the MDC's decision to suspend participation in any future
elections in the country had infuriated Mbeki, but after meeting the MDC he
allegedly agreed to re-start negotiations to end the political impasse in
"We also took the opportunity to explain to President
Mbeki why we suspended participating in future polls. We told him that
President Mugabe was in violation of the spirit and letter of the Mauritius
Protocol Summit," said Chimanikire.
A STINKING scam
involving the diversion of subsidised fuel from the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) for resale by privately-owned underground companies has
been unearthed at the corruption-ridden fuel procurer.
the authorities are still trying to get to the bottom of the underhand
dealings, sources told The Financial Gazette this week that NOCZIM could
have lost hundreds of billions of dollars that have been silting up the
pockets of perpetrators of the crime.
Indications are that staff at
NOCZIM, tasked with the distribution of fuel to government departments
following the liberalisation of the sector at the height of the fuel crisis
last year, connived with private players in the industry to divert the
product from its intended beneficiaries.
Information at hand
reveals that staff at the parastatal are generating fake invoices purporting
to relate to transactions with parastatals or local government bodies. The
fuel is then released to the oil firms for on-selling at about $2 850 per
litre, higher than the $1 650 per litre charged on fuel for parastatals
NOCZIM personnel then pocket the difference while a bank cheque
drawn in favour of the national fuel company pays in the balance. It
therefore means that instead of fuel being routed through to government
departments and providers of essential services, it is finding its way into
the black market or to private players who are supposed to import the
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which recently prodded
the government to probe NOCZIM in light of the parastatal's failure to
import fuel despite being allocated foreign currency by the central bank, is
reported to be pressing for a full-scale audit of the distribution of
Details of one such transaction, executed on August 13 and
documents of which were leaked to this newspaper, entailed NOCZIM generating
an invoice for 20 000 litres, which was supposed to be delivered to Hurungwe
Rural District Council in Mashonaland West. The firm then paid a knocked
down price of $33 million for the consignment, which had a market value of
about $70 million at current pump prices.
In this transaction
the NOCZIM proforma invoice number was 19081, loading order number 59575 and
delivery note number 161336. The registration number for the truck that
delivered the consignment was 805-379 L while registration for the trailer
was 839-617B. The loading bay supervisor was an R Mufandaedza. Joram Misheck
Moyo, the Hurungwe Council chief executive, yesterday said they had no
knowledge of the fuel.
Sources said the practice, suspected to
involve leading politicians, was widespread and had deprived
government-related companies, departments and farmers of fuel supplies,
which were diverted to private firms.
The government has retained
an unpopular official exchange rate of $824 to the United States dollar to
enable the state to make crucial imports, among them fuel, at a hugely
subsidised rate. However, the dual exchange rate system has created
rent-seeking opportunities that have, in turn, fuelled corruption. The state
fuel procurement firm buys the greenback at $824, 15 percent of its true
The RBZ has, in the past nine months, doled out about
US$120 million to NOCZIM for fuel imports while private oil firms received
about US$113 million from the central bank's foreign currency auctions.
MORE than 60
luxury vehicles with an estimated value of over $100 billion belonging to
four troubled firms facing bankruptcy proceedings as creditors scramble for
their assets will go under the hammer on October 2 2004.
established yesterday that the top-of-the-range vehicles belong to Kondozi
farm, Barbican Asset Management, First Mutual Asset Management (FMAM) and
Intermarket Asset Managers. The Financial Gazette visited Auction City
premises located in Mabelreign in Harare on Tuesday where the 65 cars were
parked inside the auction yard. Auctioneers were making last-minute
preparations to dispose of the vehicles.
"We are expecting more
vehicles from these firms to come this week. We are going to sell the
vehicles on October 2 2004. We have received many inquiries from interested
buyers," said one of the workers at the auction firm who declined to be
The vehicles include the latest models Mercedes Benz
S-Class, E-class, C-class and a BMW, Scania trucks, Mazda Familias, Pajeros,
Toyota 4x4s, Nissan Wolf double cabs, Nissan Hardbody SE, VW Golf vehicles
with an FMAM logo, Hyundai, Peugeot 306s and 406s, VW Jettas and several
Nissan Sunny latest models.
FMAM had its vehicles attached in
July this year by the Messenger of Court over a $30 billion debt it
allegedly owes Syfrets Corporate and Merchant Bank.
problems started when unauthorised deposits amounting to $29.6 billion
placed with the collapsed ENG Asset Management sank with the firm, which had
advanced $4 billion to Capital Alliance, the controversial investment
vehicle used by FML executives to gain control of the firm.
liquidation of FMAM is expected to expose the shady deals pertaining to the
financing of Capital Alliance.
Some of the vehicles to be auctioned
belong to Intermarket Asset Managers (IAM), a 100 percent owned subsidiary
of Intermarket Holdings Limited, which was disbanded this month after
failing to secure an operating licence.
This paper could not
however establish the exact numbers of vehicles attached from each of the
firms by the time of going to press.
IAM, formerly Southampton
Asset Management Company, linked to embattled fugitive businessman Nicholas
Vingirai, was established in 2000. The firm was denied a licence by the
regulator as a result of problems besetting its sister
Intermarket Banking Corporation, Intermarket Building
Society and Intermarket Discount House were placed under curatorship earlier
this year after the financial group experienced serious liquidity problems
as well as the unearthing of financial impropriety in the
IAM was one of the biggest asset management firms in the
country and had an investment portfolio worth billions of
Kondozi farm, one of the country's largest horticultural
exporters situated in Odzi, was seized by the government from its owners the
De Klerk family under the land reform programmes.
The firm that
ran the farm has since bowed down to political pressure and relocated to
Two Scania trucks, Isuzu twin cabs and a
Toyota truck belonging to Kondozi at the auction yard were positively
identified at the auction yard.
Officials said more vehicles would
be impounded from the farm this week ready to be auctioned to off-set more
than $5 billion the farm owns various creditors. Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe
is owed billions of dollars by the former owners of Kondozi.
The property has since been given to the Agriculture Rural Development
Vehicles belonging to Barbican Asset
Management have been attached to raise more than $45 billion owed to
thousands of creditors. On April 6, 2004 the high court granted a
provisional order for liquidation of the firm.
The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe said BAM was funding Barbican Asset Management South Africa,
Barbican Holdings Botswana and Barbican Capital Partners, which posted
losses since inception and were technically insolvent.
BAM is a
subsidiary of Barbican Holdings Limited founded by fugitive banker, Mthuli
THE tussle for the
Masvingo South constituency took a new twist this week with John Nkomo, the
ZANU PF national chairman, summoning the chairman of the Provincial
Disciplinary Committee (PDC) for a meeting to discuss the political strife
and discord in the province.
It emerged the ZANU PF national
leadership is eager to come out with a clear candidate for the seat left
vacant following the death last month of Eddison Zvobgo. This comes in the
wake of reports of intense infighting and back-stabbing among aspirants for
Information obtained by The Financial Gazette
indicate that top on the agenda of the meeting scheduled to be held at the
ZANU PF headquarters in Harare tomorrow (Friday) are the circumstances
surrounding the suspension of Walter Muzembi from Masvingo's provincial
This development comes as it also emerged that the
Masvingo PDC had concluded the hearing into allegations raised against
Muzembi, which should reach the Masvingo Provincial Council within the next
Sources said Muzembi's case had taken longer to conclude
because the Agro-dealers Association of Zimbabwe chairman had been
questioning the procedures used in conducting the case and had interfered
with the disciplinary process.
Muzembi, who was suspended from
the post of district coordinating chairman, is coveting the seat and has
publicly stated his interest amid concerns that he might have violated his
prohibition order by continuing to campaign for the seat while still
undergoing the disciplinary process.
"This letter serves to advise
you that the Chairman of the National Disciplinary Committee and the Party's
National Chairman, Cde J.L. Nkomo invites you for a meeting on Friday 24
September 2004 at his Party Offices at 1000 hours," reads part of letter to
Tinos Rusere, the Masvingo disciplinary committee chairman who also doubles
up as the party's legislator or Zaka East.
"You will be
required to update the National Disciplinary Committee case against Cde
Walter Muzembi," said the letter signed by Dickson Dzora, the ZANU PF
national disciplinary committee secretary.
Speculation swirled this
week that Nkomo may invoke Article 10, Section 64 of the ZANU PF
constitution to clear the way for Muzembi to stand in the Masvingo South
Article 10, Section 10 of the ZANU PF constitution
states: "The National Disciplinary Committee may confirm, amend and reverse
the decision of any lower disciplinary committee and may direct that any
disciplinary proceedings shall be transferred to it without being completed
or commenced by any subordinate disciplinary committee."
Muzembi, suspended by his colleagues for alleged gross insubordination, is
reportedly facing stiff opposition from Masvingo provincial chairman Daniel
Shumba and some members of his executive who are reportedly rooting for
Steven Makwarimba, the Masvingo Rural District Council chief executive
Charge against Muzembi, the ZANU PF district coordinating
committee chairman, were that he openly attacked the party's provincial
leadership, allegations the aspiring legislator has in the past flatly
IN what is widely seen
as a bid to maintain its grip on the public media, the government has
foistered state print media editors onto the boards of Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings (ZBH) subsidiaries.
Also joining the government-run
electronic media boards is a coterie of state apologists who double up as
columnists in some independent and state-controlled
Rino Zhuwarara, a media studies lecturer at the
University of Zimbabwe, heads the new-look ZBH board and is deputised by
Justin Mutasa, the chief executive of the state-owned Zimbabwe Newspapers
Mutasa is also a board member of the Southern Times, a
joint venture newspaper between Zimpapers and New Era of Namibia formed to
counter alleged Western propaganda in some regional
The government claims that some regional newspapers
are being used by its perceived enemies in the West to undermine the
The four state editors on the ZBH board
are Brezhnev Malaba, the editor of the Bulawayo-based Sunday News, William
Chikoto, the editor of The Sunday Mail, Stephen Ndlovu, the editor of the
Bulawayo-based daily Chronicle, and Makuwerere Bwititi, the editor of the
Mutare-based Manica Post.
All the four state editors are
Notable newspaper columnists now rewarded
with an opportunity to serve on the ZBH board include Tendai Chari, a media
studies lecturer with the Zimbabwe Open University who writes for The Sunday
Mirror, Joyce Makwenda, who has written for The Herald. Aaron
Chiundura-Moyo, an author and playwright who has penned a number of
television drama programmes for the public broadcaster, will also be a
member of the board.
ZBH operates nine subsidiaries, namely ZTV
Sisonke, National Television (NTV), On Air Systems, Radio Zimbabwe, Power
FM, National FM, SFM, Newsnet and Channel C.
"On Air Systems,
NTV and Channel C are phantom companies. They exist on paper, otherwise we
know nothing about them. We were surprised to see the appointment of board
members to serve on these shelf companies," said a government source closely
following the developments at the state-controlled broadcaster that has
enjoyed a monopoly of the airwaves since independence in 1980.
It is understood NTV will be broadcasting in the country's indigenous
languages from Montrose Studios in Bulawayo while Channel C will be a
musical channel, an idea insiders said was borrowed from South Africa's
popular Channel O.
A CANADIAN civil
society delegation has recommended that its country appoint a special envoy
to help break a two-year diplomatic standoff with Zimbabwe.
a 31-page report released this week, the five-member delegation, which spent
about a month in the country, said it was crucial for Canada to intensify
its diplomatic efforts, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to solve the
The delegation wants the Canadian government to
designate Zimbabwe as a "source country" under the Immigration and Refugee
Protection Act. This would give the local Canadian embassy powers to
resettle Zimbabweans considered to be in situations of risk.
Ottawa cut off bilateral financial assistance to Harare soon after the
disputed 2002 presidential election. Since then, its contribution to
Zimbabwe has been confined to giving aid to non-governmental
"Working in conjunction with the Canadian embassy in
Zimbabwe, the special envoy should build contacts and relationships within
Zimbabwe, allowing him/her to both speak out about human rights concerns and
play a role in seeing resolution to the current crisis.
should develop a comprehensive Africa-wide Zimbabwe strategy, working within
and taking advantage of the influence Canada has within the Southern African
Development Community and the Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's
Development) Secretariat, and the African Union and the Commonwealth," reads
part of the report made available to The Financial Gazette.
delegation further recommended that the candidate for the post of special
envoy to Zimbabwe be an individual whose profile, background and reputation
would stand up to "anticipated" criticism from President Robert Mugabe that
"he or she has colonial interests and bias".
Titled Zimbabwe Under
Siege: A Canadian Civil Society Perspective, the report has also been
submitted to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.
clearly convey the urgency of decisive and effective action on the part of
these bodies to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis and to ensure the respect of
international law, of Southern African Development Community principles and
guidelines governing democratic elections and of the African Charter on
Human and Peoples' Rights. The special envoy should play a central role in
The delegation, which met a host of local civic
society and church leaders, as well as journalists, said Canada should also
press for an immediate and independent review of the United Nations'
response to the Zimbabwe crisis.
The UN, which recently sent a
special envoy to gauge the political mood in Harare, has thwarted several
efforts, mostly by the United States and Britain, to take stern measures
against Zimbabwe, viewed by most European Union states and Washington as a
"This review needs to include a comprehensive
contingency plan and analysis of the entire UN mission in Zimbabwe and lead
to concrete recommendations for UN action."
In the 1990s, an
official who was saying all the right things in public about the
Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) once confessed in private that he
believed the scheme was an idea whose time would not come for a long
Asked whether he knew something everyone else did not know,
he replied with a glint of mischief in his eye: "It is just a hunch, but
mark my words."
Given the hype surrounding the project at the
time, one would probably have concluded that by a long time, the cynical
official perhaps meant about five years at most.
But today, a
decade later, if he were still around, this now deceased insider would
probably say: "What did I tell you?"
Not an inch of the 450km
pipeline to draw water from the Zambezi River has been laid.
However, at the time, the official's scepticism was puzzling, particularly
because the government had just made a move signalling its readiness to play
a leading role to ensure expeditious implementation of the
The state had just set up the Matabeleland Zambezi
Water Trust (MZWT) under the chairmanship of former PF ZAPU heavyweight
Dumiso Dabengwa, who was then Minister of Home Affairs. The then Minister of
Local Government and National Housing, John Nkomo, served as patron of the
But instead of being greeted enthusiastically as a positive
development that would speed things up, the government's motives were widely
Cynics described the setting up of the MZWT as a
ploy by the state to hijack the MZWP, which had captured the popular
imagination, so as to gain political mileage. To put it bluntly, the state
was accused of setting itself up to reap where it did not sow.
Spurred into action by successive severe droughts in the 1980s and early
1990s which had necessitated the introduction of stringent water rationing,
a group of Bulawayo residents had organised themselves as the MZWP to lobby
for the construction of a pipeline from the Zambezi River to meet the needs
of Zimbabwe's second largest city, which was at the time also the nation's
When the original visionaries who established the
MZWP, after deciding that "God helps those who help themselves", came
together, there was a widespread perception that Matabeleland was being
marginalised in terms of the allocation of national resources for
development projects. Indeed, since assuming power in 1980, the government
had not shown any commitment towards addressing Bulawayo's water
But last month, a Malaysian company was awarded a US$600
million contract to begin construction work. The deal was signed by no less
than President Robert Mugabe himself while he was in Asia to attend the
Langkawi International Dialogue.
After numerous false starts,
does the signature of the head of state along the dotted line mean that,
finally, the MZWP is an idea whose time has come?
That may very
well be the case, but based on the track record of similar deals signed in
the past, some cynics may very well choose to take the latest development
with a pinch of salt.
The proposed pipeline has variously been
described as Zimbabwe's most ambitious project, a "pipe dream" or a "carrot
dangled before the people of arid Matabeleland" before elections and at
other politically expedient times.
The pipe dream pun conveys
the fact that the idea has been on the drawing board for almost a century
since first being mooted in 1912.
Successive colonial governments
kept the proposal in mothballs for about 70 years because the project was
considered too expensive. There was never any pretence during the colonial
era that the government was about to act on the initiative.
Over the last 10 years since the present government "discovered" the
project, however, a heightened sense of expectation that the scheme would
get off the ground any day has been maintained through regular official
Shortly before the 2002 presidential election,
for example, it was announced at a rally addressed by President Mugabe that
implementation of the project would begin in a matter of days after the
The nation was told that a Malaysian team was to embark on
the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani dam, the first phase of the scheme.
But following President Mugabe's controversial victory in that disputed
election, nothing happened.
A year later, a headline in a
government newspaper, which announced: "US$50m to kick-start MZWP",
highlighted the continuing stagnation.
On that occasion, the
Minister of Rural Resources and Water Development, Joyce Mujuru, announced
the formation of a company by MZWT and a Malaysian partner, ZimMal Holdings,
to facilitate the release of the funds. She said work on the long-awaited
project would begin in June last year. No prizes for guessing, as nothing
came to pass.
In March this year, another headline in the official
press declared: "Government takes full responsibility for
Seven years earlier when the MZWT was set up, the story was
headed: "Zambezi Water Pipeline now national project".
be very confusing for an observer to follow what is happening.
month, after acknowledging that the MZWP had been characterised by numerous
false starts, MZWT chairman Dabengwa said the Export and Import Bank of
Malaysia had not honoured a pledge to release funds in 2003. He then
announced the clinching of the latest deal, signed by President Mugabe a few
The timing of the signing of this latest deal will
no doubt revive debate about the "dangling of a carrot" before the
electorate in Matabeleland, coming as it does as momentum gathers pace
towards next year's parliamentary poll. Is it a coincidence that this deal
was wrapped up at this stage?
The MZWP is one of the most
widely reported initiatives in Zimbabwe, and has been analysed from every
conceivable angle. But after all the attendant problems that could have
hampered implementation have been addressed, the question to ask now is:
when will the initiative make the giant leap from semantics into
IN what is shaping up
to be an unlikely prelude to next year's parliamentary elections, the
country's biggest political parties, the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are battling for the heart and soul of
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) of states.
The regional bloc has of late been seeking to assert itself on democracy and
While political temperatures were always going
to rise in the country in the run-up to next March's polls, events in recent
weeks have shown that while a tepid atmosphere, wrought by pervasive
uncertainty, currently envelopes the country, the two bitter adversaries
have raised the ante in courting regional states.
From the ZANU
PF point of view, SADC endorsement of both the electoral reforms and the
voting process itself is key to retaining legitimacy, following the hotly
contested results of the 2000 parliamentary poll as well as the presidential
plebiscite two years later.
There were 39 contested results from
the 120 constituencies, while the result of the presidential election is
also being contested in the courts.
The MDC, on the other hand, is
eager to have regional pressure bear on President Robert Mugabe's government
to even the playing field before next year's election, knowing full well
that another defeat will further compound the pessimism among the ranks of
A recent Afrobarometer survey conducted by the
Institute for Democracy in South Africa, in conjunction with Ghana's Centre
for Democratic Development and Michigan State University, found "evidence of
popular resignation to ZANU PF's dominance", as opposed to the euphoria of
four years ago when regime change via the ballot box seemed inevitably
Further, the survey found that more prospective voters
were inclined to trust the incumbent government and ruling party more than
It is against this background and for the different
reasons that the MDC and ZANU PF have gone on a concerted regional onslaught
- the former by actively engaging SADC heads and diplomats and the latter
through granting concessions, in the form of the proposed electoral changes,
which got the bloc's approval at the Mauritius summit last
A team of high-ranking MDC officials - vice president Gibson
Sibanda, secretary general Welshman Ncube and his understudy Gift
Chimanikire - were in South Africa over the weekend to meet President Thabo
Mbeki, whose position as a regional power broker was dealt a body blow by
the failure by the Zimbabwean political parties to respond positively to his
much-maligned quiet diplomacy and reach an entente.
have regularly met the South African leader, meetings which, despite not
bringing much tangible progress, have not done their diplomatic standing any
Ncube was quoted in the media as saying the MDC was
considering mass action to push the Harare officials to enact genuine
electoral reforms that would ensure fair polls.
Morgan Tsvangirai also recently met SADC diplomats accredited to Harare and
told them that disputed elections were at the heart of Zimbabwe's crisis,
which has caused fears in neighbouring states of a full-blown humanitarian
and refugee disaster.
"For the SADC region, you have a
responsibility to ensure all member states, Zimbabwe included, adhere to the
latest protocols. The future of the region rests on how seriously agreed
positions are implemented and seen as binding," Tsvangirai told the
ZANU PF, on the other hand, sorely needs SADC approval
of the electoral process.
The ruling party has always harped on
about African institutions giving the hotly contested elections in 2000 and
2002 the thumbs-up.
SADC itself has recently warned that not only
will it withhold its seal of approval from irregular elections, but,
according to Mbeki, will expel states that failed to adhere to the recently
adopted common norms.
As a result, the SADC mark of approval is
indispensable to ZANU PF, which, however, has sought to appease the regional
bloc by making concessions, which only a few months ago appeared outlandish
on the Zimbabwean political terrain.
The electoral reform Bill
the government is currently pushing in Parliament will see the establishment
of an independent electoral commission, although this is one of the major
bones of contention, as the opposition says it cannot be independent if the
executive, and not Parliament, makes key appointments to the
Other changes would see the holding of polls in a single day
at neutral centres and the use of translucent ballot boxes, among other
The MDC has, however, dismissed these proposals as
cosmetic changes and challenged ZANU PF to make further far-reaching reforms
such as repealing the notorious Public Order and Security Act and the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which have been used to close
down democratic space to the detriment of the opposition and the benefit of
the ruling party.
The leading opposition party recently
suspended taking part in any election until the government enacts reforms
paving way for a fair contest.
Political commentator Heneri
Dzinotyiwei said the diplomatic overtures by the MDC would ensure constant
monitoring, by the SADC, of developments unfolding in Zimbabwe.
"It is only a few weeks after the inter-state body adopted the electoral
standards . . . they will continue to watch the developments.
MDC is concerned about the environment prior to and during elections and
they will do anything they see as feasible to see that elections are held in
the right environment. It is part of the campaign, actually," Dzinotyiwei
SADC will certainly keep its focus trained on Zimbabwe in the
next few months to see if the country, a fading regional giant in terms of
economic performance, bucks the trend which has seen it regress into yet
another African nightmare.
Multinational development agencies
have repeatedly warned of negative spillover effects on Zimbabwe's
neighbours should the crisis remain unresolved or deteriorate
In the meantime, the major protagonists in Zimbabwe's
political game will have to look back in and confront an electorate that has
gone through virtually all the phases of disenchantment.
WE have warned before, hoping on the
off-chance that we could be heeded, about the far-reaching implications of
Zimbabwe's deeply rooted political patronage system.
will count the costs of the corruption spawned by this for years to come.
This disease has poisoned the very fabric of our society and is visible
across all sections of the Zimbabwean community. Suffice to say that the
warnings about the disastrous effect of political patronage fell on stony
ground. And now corruption has become institutionalised in
We have now seen how crony capitalism, itself a product
of political influence peddling, where banks pumped funds to politically
well-connected "business people" who ran up large debts in misguided
expansion plans, not only left many banking institutions twisting in the air
but threatened the very existence of the whole sector previously seen as the
only seaworthy vessel in an otherwise sagging economy. It is an open city
secret that some of these perennially struggling banks were granted their
licences on the basis of political considerations and
As if that was not enough, only two weeks ago we got
another stark reminder of this national curse when the deep-seated rot in
the fuel sector threatened to plunge the country into yet another crisis.
Indeed the situation could have gone out of control had the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe not had a firm hand on the tiller. Still that was a straw in the
wind - a sort of wake-up call that all is not well in the fuel sector. Of
course with the situation in the sector looking distinctly more hopeful,
some might be tempted to think that it is now water under the bridge. We
however do not think that we are out of the woods yet.
the powers-that-be have not yet publicly given a breakdown of who owns the
plethora of fuel companies implicated in abusing the scarce foreign currency
allocated to dealers by the RBZ through the auction system, which we feel
they should do, our hunch is that most of the dealerships are held by
influential politicians. This they do either directly or through proxies
just like they did with the land reform, which they have turned into a
despicable land grab orgy.
It is such uncouth operators in the fuel
sector, who have always been bent on deception and are not ashamed of
betraying and sabotaging their country at its most desperate hour, who
caused the nation a huge scare when fuel queues re-emerged two weeks ago.
Unfortunately for them, a smoking gun was found in the incriminating figures
released by the central bank. The RBZ availed, both to NOCZIM and more than
60 other independent operators, US$268 million for fuel procurement up to
August - giving a monthly average allocation of about US$34 million. If
Zimbabwe, as reported by the RBZ, requires about US$30 million for fuel
procurement every month how then did the country run dry? That is the
In the court of public opinion this is corruption and
downright sabotage in all but name. The economic disruptions brought about
by the short-lived but costly fuel problems came at a particularly irksome
moment given the fragile state of the economy. This is why we feel that the
government should move with speed as pressure to clean up the fuel sector
intensifies. It is time to grasp the nettle and get to the bottom of this
mess. How did those companies that are failing to deliver get their
dealerships in the first place?
Since it recently rolled out an
armoury of anti-graft measures, government should underline its commitment
to rid the country of corruption by ensuring that laws are enforced and
wrongdoers brought to justice, their licences revoked and companies
liquidated. This also provides President Robert Mugabe, who has taken great
umbrage to pervasive corruption if his public statements and their elaborate
tones are anything to go by, with a perfect opportunity to make good his
pledge to take the anti-graft crusade to its full expression.
No one should be immune despite their political and social standing.
President Mugabe, whose government has taken a licking from critics for at
worst nurturing graft and at best sitting on the fence in the face of
corruption, has acknowledged as much. The law should not be applied
selectively like the proverbial spider's web which catches only the smallest
of insects and lets through the big ones. We see this as the sine qua non of
success in the war against corruption.
Even though in Zimbabwe
for the rich, justice has not only been cheap but blind, the generality of
the people is clearly fed up with the mystique of those who are seemingly
above the law. It was time Zimbabwe made an example of those whose
businesses and political careers are based on corruption, hypocrisy,
arrogance and contempt for the people.
As for the state fuel
procurement arm, NOCZIM, government should now go back to the drawing board
to do a cost benefit analysis as regards the relevance of this monolith to
Zimbabwe. In any case, part of the blame for the problems at the beleaguered
institution should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the government.
The quasi-government fuel procurement agent is prone to political
interference and could not for a long time price its fuel correctly for
Government refused to listen to the voice of
reason when there were calls for staggered fuel price increases as far back
as the mid-1990s. It decided in its wisdom to adopt the populist stance and
forego reasonable fuel price increases although this was a question of
postponing the inevitable. Like all short-sighted populist policies, this
has now come back to haunt us.
This is the second part in a two-part
contribution. The first part dealt specifically with issues relating to
access to government information.
This part will deal with the
offences of criminal defamation; abuse of journalistic privilege;
publication of statements likely to cause fear, alarm and despondency or to
undermine public confidence in the conduct of public affairs, or to bring
the person or office of the President into hatred
and various other institutional problems that affect the operations of the
TO add to the woes of journalists, the law of defamation as
it stands is very much stacked against the media. Criminal defamation
consists in the unlawful and intentional publication of a seriously
A defamatory statement is one that diminishes
the esteem in which the person to whom it refers is held by others, or it
may reflect adversely on a person's moral character or on his capacity for
his occupation or on his professional standing. It has been held that a
charge of defamation will not stick unless the defamation is
The dividing line between civil and criminal defamation is
supposed to be drawn on the basis of the criterion of
In other words, if the defamation is of a serious
nature, it will be prosecutable as criminal defamation while less serious
defamation will be treated as civil defamation. The criterion of seriousness
is an extravagantly nebulous and imprecise one and thus it is difficult to
determine what makes a case sufficiently serious to elevate it from civil
defamation to defamation of a criminal nature.
If a media
institution alleges wrong-doing on the part of a public official in the
performance of his duties and the public official sues for defamation, the
only way in which the action can be successfully defended is if the media
institution proves that its allegations were true; it is no defence for the
media institution to say that it believed the facts to be true and that it
published the story because it believed that the public had a right to know
about this matter. It is not even a defence for the media institution to
establish that it took all reasonable steps to check its facts before going
ahead and publishing the story.
There are in law a very limited
number of defences to a charge of criminal defamation such as justification,
fair comment, truth, and privilege.
The courts in Zimbabwe have
generally adopted a subjective approach to animus injuriandi (intention to
injure) and the net effect of this is that our law of defamation imposes
strict liability on the press in that the defence of absence of intention to
injure can not be raised. The plaintiff in an action for defamation is in a
very privileged position because he/she simply has to prove publication of
the words complained of. It is the function of the court and the court
alone, to determine whether the words complained of are
If the answer is in the affirmative, irrespective of
whether the words are true or not, the onus shifts to the defendant who must
establish in law and in fact, a number of limited defences alluded to
This obviously stands in the way of the media and obstructs
it from performing its watchdog role properly. For instance, a newspaper
obtains information on a confidential basis from a reliable source within a
ministry that a high ranking official has been taking bribes. In
characteristic Zimbabwean tradition, the informant tells the newspaper that
if the paper is sued he will not be prepared to testify in court on behalf
of the paper. There is no documentary evidence that can be produced in
court. The newspaper does all it can to check the story and asks the
concerned person to comment and he simply says that if the story is
published he will sue the paper.
If then the paper publishes
the story and it is sued for defamation, it will be no defence that it
believed the public had a right to know about the allegations of corruption
and it did what it could to verify the facts before publishing the
The effect of this is that media institutions will refrain
from publishing such stories, not because they do not think the stories have
substance, but because they are fearful that they may end up paying large
amounts of damages because they may be unable to prove truth of such stories
In any case proof of truth is an uphill task. A
proper balance has to be achieved between protection of reputation and
freedom of speech.
The law must obviously try to ensure that the
watchdog does not bite the wrong people and that when the wrong people are
bitten by the watchdog, there will be suitable legal remedies. However, all
around Africa we have glaring examples of criminal defamation being used as
an instrument to silence or punish political opponents who were merely
engaging in legitimate political activity. The criminal sanction is too
drastic a method to regulate freedom of expression and the civil law of
defamation is sufficiently well-developed to cover both serious and less
In South Africa the new position is that
the press will not be liable for defamation if it publishes information
which turns out to be untrue if it was reasonable to publish those
particular facts in that way at that particular time. A newspaper would not
be liable if it can establish that it was not negligent in publishing the
information. Obviously, in order to establish absence of negligence the
press will have to convince the court that it obtained information from a
reliable source and that it took reasonable steps to check the
It may be worthwhile for practising legal
practitioners to take a suitable test case to court so that we can have an
authoritative decision from the Zimbabwean Supreme Court on the matter in
light of the new South African position. It is submitted that the SA
position is the better one.
This law of criminal defamation
impinges directly on freedom of expression and of the press and it is
therefore imperative to consider seriously whether this law is reasonably
justifiable in a democratic society to protect the reputations of persons
within government. It will not be reasonably justifiable if it unnecessarily
or excessively curtails the guaranteed freedoms.
defamation possesses an unattractively wide scope for manipulation and
oppression of opponents of government, let alone its negative effect on
freedom of expression and of the press. Its role in the prevention of public
peace in modern society is minimal and a strong case for decriminalisation
of defamation has been made by many eminent scholars.
constitutionality of criminal defamation is doubtful given that any person
alleging harm to his/her reputation has a right of self redress via a civil
claim for defamation. The offence may also be open to challenge on the basis
that it is so nebulous and ill-defined that it is incapable of fair
application. The criteria laid down by the judiciary are so vague as to be
incapable of sensible and consistent application.
obstacle to media freedom relates to what is referred to by section 80 of
AIPPA as "abuse of journalistic privilege" through publishing "falsehoods".
There are also certain sections of POSA which criminalise publication of
statements likely to cause fear, alarm and despondency or to undermine
public confidence in the conduct of public affairs, or to bring the
President into hatred or disrepute.
In effect these provisions
shield the President from criticism of any sort. The Zimbabwean Supreme
Court, in a majority judgment which betrays the judiciary's insensitivity to
the plight of journalists, in a case involving a constitutional challenge to
certain sections of AIPPA by the Association of Independent Journalists,
held that what is protected by the constitution is the right to receive and
impart information and that falsehoods are not information, a view which was
not shared by Justice Sandura who delivered a very important dissenting
In other more progressive jurisdictions it has been held
that a statutory provision which criminalises the printing or distribution
of any false statement likely to undermine public confidence in the conduct
of public affairs contravened the provisions in the constitution protecting
freedom of speech. In a democracy, it is almost too obvious to need stating
that those who hold office in government and are responsible for public
administration must be always open to criticism. Any attempt to stifle or
fetter such criticism amounts to political censorship of the most insidious
and objectionable kind.
At the same time, it is no less obvious
that the very purpose of criticism levelled against those who have the
conduct of public affairs by their political opponents is to undermine
public confidence in their stewardship and to persuade the electorate that
the opponents would make a better job of it than those presently holding
In light of these considerations, one can not help viewing
a statutory provision which criminalises statements likely to undermine
public confidence in the conduct of public affairs with utmost suspicion. So
again the constitutionality of these crimes is very questionable and
suitable test cases need to be brought before the courts for an
authoritative judicial declaration from the Supreme Court.
Freedom of the press affords the public one of the best means of discovering
and forming an opinion of the ideas and attitudes of political leaders. More
generally, freedom of political debate is at the core of the concept of a
democratic society; the limits of acceptable criticism are accordingly wider
as regards a politician as such than as regards a private
Unlike the latter, the former inevitably and knowingly
lays oneself open to close scrutiny of his every word and deed by both
journalists and the public at large, and he must consequently display a
greater degree of tolerance.
There are also a number of
institutionalised obstacles to media freedom in Zimbabwe. We have an
undemocratic constitution which has ushered in an undemocratic political
system characterised by intolerance and the politics of difference, thus
reflecting the failure of our political system at the moral and ethical
level. These extra-legal forces are important determinants of the shape and
manner in which rights are realised and their net effect is to create an
environment where civil society is stifled and intimidated.
People become afraid to speak out as dissenting views are not accommodated
and in any case journalists practice self-censorship.
is also affecting the free flow of information as newspapers and magazines
are now beyond the means of many and are folding up at a faster rate. On the
other hand the state media, which is by far the most dominant, continues to
The restrictive provisions of the Broadcasting Services
Act (BSA) also stifle the free flow of information by giving the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings a monopoly over broadcasting services in Zimbabwe,
which monopoly has been used largely to disseminate ideological propaganda
on behalf of the government and the ruling party. There can never be a sound
information delivery system if the information conduit is controlled by one
entity. Tolerance of diversity is predicated on the existence of a
multiplicity of opinions; affording the minority the same rights and
privileges as the majority.
The struggle for democracy has to
be waged on a number of fronts and one of these is the battle to make
governments far more accountable for their actions by giving the people a
right to far more information than is the case at present.
related front is the struggle against autocratic tendencies of those in
power, which in Zimbabwe is a particularly pronounced tendency. The national
agenda in this regard must be broad, holistic and encapsulated in the demand
for a new democratic constitution.
Noczim risks losing assets over US$61m Tamoil debt
Felix Njini 9/23/2004 7:19:05 AM (GMT +2)
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) is still grappling with a
strangling US$61 million debt it owes to Tamoil of Libya and risks losing
assets if the debt is not immediately extinguished.
It has been
established that pressure is rising inexorably for the debt-ridden
state-controlled fuel importer to settle the outstanding debt or risk having
assets attached by the Libyan firm.
Tamoil, which has on previous
occasions been led a merry dance when it tried to recover its funds, is said
to have "lost patience over NOCZIM's failure to expedite its contractual
obligations and is mulling taking legal action" to recover the outstanding
debt plus interest, sources said.
"If NOCZIM does not come up with
a plan to offset the debt, it is most likely that the case will soon spill
to the courts," said a source.
It has also been learnt that Tamoil
had made diplomatic representations through the Libyan embassy in Harare to
recover its money from the cash-strapped fuel procurer, which is under a
state-sanctioned probe into the alleged abuse of foreign currency obtained
from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Insiders at NOCZIM said the
parastatal, which has previously been lambasted for its glaring failure to
execute its mandate, was frantically scouting around for potential sources
of funds to settle the debt.
Sources said the company stopped
servicing the debt six months ago due to the severe shortage of foreign
currency in the country.
The financially troubled parastatal is
under pressure from the government to procure fuel for farmers, state
departments and key organisations such as hospitals.
efforts by Tamoil to recover the debt have failed to yield any tangible
In 2002 Roux Italia of Italy undertook an evaluation of
NOCZIM assets after the government indicated that it wanted to spin them off
to Tamoil. The evaluation, according to insiders, pegged NOCZIM's assets at
US$52 million, falling short of the US$61 million, plus interest required as
Failure to settle the US$61 million has seen Libya
cutting off fuel supplies to Zimbabwe. The country had been receiving fuel
supplies from Libya under a US$90 million facility, which was later dealt a
hammer blow when Zimbabwe failed to pay.
Efforts by Zimbabwe to
export agricultural products to Libya such as beef, tobacco, sugar and tea
among other commodities to discharge its liabilities have come unstuck.
Before the collapse of the deal, the Libyan oil giant had supplied 70
percent of Zimbabwe's oil.
Zvinechimwe Churu, the managing director
of NOCZIM, refused to comment, saying "issues of debt with clients were
Churu however, intimated that NOCZIM would only
settle debts to fuel suppliers currently dealing with the
"We have endeavoured to pay some of our creditors but
we are prioritising those who would influence unlocking fuel supplies to the
nation," Churu said.
"Tamoil is a potential supplier. They have
not been written off yet," Churu said, adding that the Libyan firm had no
intention of seizing NOCZIM assets.
expectancy at birth has plummeted from 43 to 33.9 years as the HIV/Aids
pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the population, a United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) report has revealed.
With an HIV/Aids
prevalence of 24.6 percent in the 15 to 49 age group, Zimbabwe is said to be
one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in the world.
At least one in every four adults is suffering from the disease, which
causes more than 2 000 deaths each week.
The country, which is
in the throes of one of its worst economic and political crises in two
decades, is ranked 91 out of the 95 countries classified under the human
poverty index (HDI).
The HDI measures average achievements along
three basic dimensions of human development - such as life expectancy at
birth, literacy levels and access to a decent standard of
Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Ethiopia have the
highest human poverty levels of the countries under the HDI, according to
the UNDP Human Development Report 2004.
Zimbabwe, classified in
the low human development category, was ranked 147 out of the 177 countries
with an HDI of 0.491 compared to 0.570 at independence from Britain in
High-level poverty in the country, which has reached alarming
proportions, has torn apart families and caused a rise in the rate of
Zimbabwe is grappling with a worsening economic and
political crisis, dramatised by acute shortages of foreign currency, fuel,
food, deepening poverty and rising unemployment.
compounded by the violent occupation of prime farming land by government
supporters, has spawned an unprecedented rise in company closures over the
past years, rendering thousands jobless.
Zimbabwe's peers, South
Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique, have life expectancy at birth
ranging from 38 years to 48 years.
Zimbabwe's population, at 12.8
million by 2002, will reach 13 million by 2015, by which time those with 65
years and above will only be 4.2 percent of this figure, the Human
Development Report said.
Tanganda to venture into macadamia crop for export
Staff Reporter 9/23/2004 7:26:58 AM (GMT
AGRICULTURAL concern Tanganda Tea Company intends to venture
into the growing of macadamia for the export market, according to managing
director Andrew Mills.
"We are going to be growing macadamia on
one of our plantations. An estimated 20 to 25 hectares will be utilised for
the project," said Mills, who could not disclose the budget for the
Global demand for macadamia has been firming and prices
rising. The Zimbabwean climate is ideal for the crop.
to Tanganda, macadamias will grow well on a wide range of soil types from
open sands, lava rock soils, heavy clay and well-drained soils.
Last week the tea company revealed that it was conducting hydrological
surveys in Mozambique to assess the water situation in the neighbouring
country, where 400 hectares of virgin land has been targeted for
In its previous half-year financial statement,
Tanganda said macadamia had taken longer to establish, but the company was
hopeful that planting would start with the onset of the rains.
BULAWAYO - The status
of Debshan ranch, which is owned by the Oppenheimer family, one of the
richest families in Southern Africa, remains unclear more than six months
after the government ordered settlers to leave immediately because the farm
was not designated for resettlement.
There are now fears that the
ranch has been handed back to the powerful De Beers and Anglo-American boss,
or it is being lined up for a senior ZANU-PF official or one of his
children. The fears are being compounded by the fact that no one wants to
talk about the issue.
The manager of the ranch, who declined to
give his name, referred all questions about the status of the ranch to a
James Maphosa at the Anglo-American head office in Harare while Special
Affairs Minister responsible for Lands John Nkomo referred The Financial
Gazette to Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuku.
Settlers at the ranch, some of whom were officially allocated plots way back
in 2000, said they had been told privately that the issue was a political
hot potato and was now being handled by the presidency.
ZANU-PF officials, including members of the party's central committee,
however, maintain that settlers should stay put while the farm manager, a Mr
C.R. Edwards, who seems to be now in full control, has ordered them not to
prepare land for the coming season.
The ranch is now guarded and
patrolled by green-uniformed Debshan (Pvt) Limited security guards who take
details of anyone entering the ranch, including phone numbers and the
purpose of one's visit.
The guards are reported to have been
granted special constabulary status by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and have
radio equipment, which settlers say is used to inform Debshan management
about everyone entering the ranch.
To add to the confusion a
brand new Zimbabwean flag flies at the main entrance to the ranch alongside
that of Debshan seen as an intimidatory tactic which gives settlers and
visitors the impression that whatever the guards are doing has government
According to settlers, the flag was hoisted sometime in
May shortly after Edwards sent out a circular purportedly trying to clear
the issue about the status of Debshan.
The letter dated May 5,
2004, reads: "There appears to be continued confusion over the status of
Debshan Ranch. It would seem that certain individuals who are trying to
fulfil their own personal agendas by illegally allocating land to
unsuspecting individuals are deliberately creating this
"The only legal authority that may legitimately
allocate land in the Insiza District of Matabeleland South is the Insiza
District Lands Committee together with the Insiza District Administrator,
based in Filabusi.
"Anyone else allocating plots or claiming to
have authority to do so, is acting fraudulently and should therefore be
reported to the relevant authorities.
officials in public meetings have clarified the situation with respect to
Debshan on numerous occasions. Attached is a newspaper report on the most
recent meeting held at Joseph's Block. The situation and status has not
changed at all since then.
"Should you require any further
clarification on the situation it is strongly recommended that you contact
any of the following: the Office of the District Administrator in Filabusi,
the Office of the Chairman of the Insiza Land Committee, the Office of
Insiza Ward 14 Councillor, the Officer-in-Charge Zimbabwe Republic Police
Fort Rixon, or the Office of the Minister of Special Affairs in The
President's Office Responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement in
The letter was signed: CR Edwards, senior
The newspaper cutting referred to was from the Sunday News
of February 8, 2004. It quoted the District Administrator of Insiza, Peter
Mandebvu, as saying 70 settlers at Debshan Ranch should leave immediately as
the farm was not designated for resettlement.
"You are ordered
to leave with immediate effect as the ranch was not acquired by the
government under the resettlement programme" Mandebvu was reported to have
told settlers at Joseph's Block.
It was not clear what Mandebvu
meant because according to documents produced by the settlers, Joseph's
Block and Bulawayo Syndicate, around which the current dispute is centred,
were listed by the government on August 13, 2003, as lot 100. They were
items number 14 and 16, respectively.
Three other properties owned
by the Oppenheimer family were listed under the same lot. These were
Esmyangene Block, Farm Mbati Tiabetsi Block and Subdivision A of Mbati
One of the first settlers, Zefania Mutero Sibanda,
produced documents which showed that the District Administrator of Insiza,
who happened to be Mandebvu, had allocated him plot number 57 on 15 November
Sibanda paid land tax of $500 for 2001 on 23 March 2001, for
that plot, leaving a balance of $1 500. The receipt, number AA 403317, was
issued by the Insiza Rural District Council and bears its official stamp.
Mandebvu resigned from the government a few months ago in unclear
circumstances. Some reports say he was forced to resign because of the way
he had allegedly mishandled the land issue. Settlers said they were fighting
a losing battle because Edwards was allegedly being backed by a senior
police officer at Fort Rixon, who at times patrolled the farm urging
settlers to leave using Edwards' vehicle. He had also been allegedly
receiving support from Mandebvu and the councillor for Ward 14, which
borders with the ranch.
When The Financial Gazette phoned Debshan
it was referred to a James Maphosa at Anglo-American head office in Harare
who could not be reached for comment.