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Mugabe takes sanctions fight to CNN, UN

23/09/2009 00:00:00

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will address the 64th session of the UN General
Assembly on Friday, telling the world that western sanctions against
Zimbabwe are hurting the country's economic recovery prospects.

Mugabe will begin his offensive in an interview with CNN's Christiane
Amanpour to be aired on Thursday, before taking centre stage at the UN a day

CNN announced on Wednesday that "Amanpour will take the opportunity to ask
if the power-sharing agreement in Zimbabwe is really working, if
international sanctions are responsible for his country's economic and
political turmoil, and what kind of engagement he is looking for from the
international community."

Mugabe, with the backing of Southern African leaders, has been calling for
the "evil" sanctions to be lifted, but western countries say the sanctions
will only be removed when Zimbabwe implements political reforms.

But Mugabe's supporters say the only political reform the west wants is his
exit from power by any means.

Cape Town-based political analyst Glen Mpani says Mugabe will use the UN
platform to "try to convince people that the power sharing government is
working, that the only stumbling block is the sanctions".

"The speech won't be any different from his previous speeches. He's going to
use the issue of racism, he's going to use the issue of imperialism in
trying to defend himself," Mpani added.

Apart from railing at "western imperialism" in recent speeches at the UN,
Mugabe has also been an advocate for reforming the body which he says has
failed to stand up to the unilateral actions of powerful countries, mainly
the United States

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Parly sidelined in Zim reforms

by Patricia Mpofu Thursday 24 September 2009

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his two coalition partners have
effectively taken control of Zimbabwe's troubled constitutional reforms
after modifying the constitution making process and packing the executive of
a committee managing the reforms with trusted loyalists.

Parliament is supposed to oversee the drafting of the new governance charter
through a 25-member select committee established for the purpose.

But pro-democracy activists, legal experts and senior parliamentary
officials said the changes -- particularly re-configuration of the
management committee of the parliamentary select committee established to
oversee the constitutional reforms --virtually demoted Parliament to a
peripheral role.

"It is clear that the leaders of political parties are positioning
themselves to takeover the process .. Parliament has bee relegated to a
secondary role," said Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional law expert and
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) pressure group.

The NCA has long opposed the current constitutional reform process saying it
was open to abuse and manipulation by politicians.

Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara
while leading the three political parties in Parliament do not have a direct
role in the process of writing the new constitution, with Mugabe only
expected to sign the new charter once it has been approved in a referendum
and passed by Parliament.

But the three leaders last Thursday agreed to appoint their representatives
during power-sharing negotiations last year to join the three chairmen of
the parliamentary select committee in a new management committee to run the
constitutional reforms.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa from Mugabe's ZANU PF party, Finance
Minister Tendai Biti and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube from Tsvangirai
and Mutambara's MDC parties respectively will now join the executive of the
parliamentary select committee.

Chinamasa, Biti and Ncube are the authors of the controversial the Kariba
draft that Mugabe has insisted must be the basis of the new constitution but
which the NCA, the labour and student movements have opposed saying it
leaves the veteran leader's overwhelming powers untouched.

Tsvangirai's MDC party has also opposed the Kariba draft.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara -- who did not consult parliamentary
Speaker Lovemore Moyo before making the changes -- also agreed to set up an
independent body or secretariat to provide administrative services to the
constitutional making process.

A senior official in the legal department at Parliament said the
appointments and changes made by Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara meant that
they had virtually taken direct control of the reforms, especially because
the parliamentary select committee would now report to the management
committee set up by the leaders.

"Parliament has been demoted .. the parliamentary select committee will have
to report to a management committee constituted by the principals," said the
official who did not want to be named.

"To cut a long story short, the principals should have constituted a
Constitutional Commission instead of pretending that Parliament will be in
charge of the process," he said.

Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo said he will meet President of Senate
Edna Madzongwe, her deputy Naison Ndlovu and deputy Speaker Nomalanga
Khumalo next Monday to discuss the implication of the changes announced by
the Executive.

He said: "The presiding officers (of Parliament) are meeting next week on
Monday to look at the implications. We want to see what impact these changes
have on the doctrine of the separation of powers."

But Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said there was nothing
sinister about the changes to the constitution-making process.

He said: "All this has been done to help the select committee which is made
of parliamentarians to do their work effectively. It is not true that the
Executive has taken over the powers of the legislature."

Meanwhile Madhuku's NCA in a statement earlier on Wednesday said it deplored
the altering of the constitution making process by politicians, describing
the setting up of an independent secretariat as "a desperate window-dressing

The NCA dismissed claims by Matinenga that the changes made by Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and Mutambara were meant to rationalise the process and ensure
efficiency as "hypocritical and inadequate."

The group said: "If anything, the so-called rationalisation of the
constitution-making process is an attempt to hoodwink unsuspecting
Zimbabweans into believing that the inclusive government has taken into
consideration concerns raised over the inclusive, undemocratic and
unworkable nature of the GPA (global political agreement)  prescribed
constitution-making process.

"Notwithstanding the purported addressing of issues by the inclusive
government's principals, the constitution making process remains under the
control of politicians. The people are still out of the equation." -

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Independent commission should oversee Zimbabwe's land programme : MDC

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
of Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday called for the formation of an independent
commission to oversee the country's land reform programme amid reports of
rampant invasion of farms by the country's top politicians.

The party, led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai condemned the latest wave of
farm disruptions taking place across the country, saying these seriously
undermined efforts to reconstruct the economy and improve food security.

It said the formation of a land commission would bring the land crisis to
closure by ensuring a democratic and participatory process that achieves
equitable, transparent, just, lawful and economically efficient distribution
and use of land.

"The MDC calls for the establishment of a Land Commission under an Act of
Parliament that will create an independent, autonomous and professional body
to oversee the land-reform process," the MDC said.

The party said the first task of the commission would be to conduct a
comprehensive physical and legal audit of land occupation and ownership in

Top politicians from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF and army officials
have led the violent seizure of productive farm land and animal
conservancies since the formation of a unity government by the MDC and ZANU
PF in February.

JN/nm/APA 2009-09-23


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Zim wildlife ranchers get new partners

Eyewitness News | 8 Hours Ago

Wildlife ranchers in southern Zimbabwe say new partners are being forced
upon them by Zanu-PF ministers.

They believe it is part of a new phase in Zimbabwe's nine-year-old land
reform programme - this time without the militias.

Sources, who were told to attend a wildlife land reform meeting in southern
Zimbabwe last week, say this is not a normal land takeover.

Zanu-PF officials at the meeting were friendly and jovial.

They made it clear conservancy owners, many of them in the safe area of
south-eastern Zimbabwe, must take on new indigenous partners who have been
allotted to them.

New partners were made to sign 25-year leases at the end of the meeting.

Zanu-PF officials said this was a necessary part of land reform but
conservancy owners were worried.

They say there is no respect for foreign shareholder or properties supposed
to be protected under bilateral investment agreements.

They say this will scare away foreign investors when Zimbabwe so desperately
needs them.

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Sadc Tribunal Illegitimate - Chinamasa

Harare, September 23, 2009 - Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamsa, has
described the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) tribunal as an
under the tree court which has no legitimate right to make any legal

Chinamasa siad the Namibia based court had no legal standing until
ratified by two thirds of the regional bloc's members.

"Although it started sitting it had no legitimate power to decide, try
and determine any process reported to it. It is just like someone sitting
under a tree pretending to be a court. The tribunal has not been properly
constituted and until that happens it remains as such," said Chinamasa.

He added that the court could not be the last court of appeal in the
region because doing so at this stage would be an attempt to replace
national supreme courts and rewrite national constitutions.

"It can not be a court of appeal. We are not yet at that stage were it
can act as a court of appeal from our national supreme courts," said
Chinamasa. "What it is in fact purporting to do is to basically re-write our
constitution and reverse decisions which were taken by supreme courts."

Zimbabwe pulled out of the tribunal in August. However independent
lawyers have said that Zimbabwe cannot pull out of the Sadc Tribunal unless
it quits Sadc altogether.

About 77 white Zimbabwean commercial farmers have their cases before
the tribunal. Last year in November, the tribunal ruled in favour of the
farmers adjudging that the country's controversial land reforms were not
only unlawfully but violated SADC treaties which are against discrimination
on grounds of race and colour.

Despite Chinamasa's recent comments, Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, told a mining conference that the decision to pull Zimbabwe out
of the regional court was null and void. Tsvangirai said it was a one man
decision which is yet to be discussed in cabinet.

Meanwhile Tsvangirai said in a statement on Wednesday that: "The MDC
condemns the latest wave of farm disruptions taking place across the country
as these are seriously undermining re-construction efforts and upsetting
food security and investor confidence in the country."

 "It is really worrying to note that some Zanu PF bigwigs have taken
over large tracts of conservancies in areas such as Mwenezi and Chiredzi in
Masvingo province. Over 80 percent of productive farm land and conservancies
have been violently taken over in Masvingo province alone in the past six

Since the formation of the inclusive government in February six
farmers have been abducted and 16 have been arrested for allegedly blocking
the land reform programme.

The MDC said it advocates for the establishment of a Land Commission
Act in parliament to oversee the land reform exercise which will conduct a
land audit.

President Robert Mugabe at the last youth and women conferences of his
Zanu PF party said the land reform exercise is on-going and blamed the
British and its western allies of failing to fund the land reform programme
warning commercial farmers not to resist the exercise saying if they try to
resist "he would just send the police to drive them away".

The Commercial Farmers Union castigated Mugabe's statements saying
they will promote violence and disturbances on  commercial farms.

A  visiting European Union delegation this month said they will
re-engage fully with Zimbabwe if the inclusive government respect property
rights, promotes the rule of law and fully implement the Global Political
Agreement. (GPA).

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Crisis group warns that ZANU PF violence is on the rise

By Violet Gonda
23 September 2009

ZANU PF militia have begun a fresh wave of violence, especially in the rural
areas, according to a statement issued by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
On Wednesday the pressure group said although the new government, through
its organ on National Healing, continues to preach the gospel of
reconciliation, Zimbabwe could be witnessing a renaissance of  the violence
which engulfed the country during last year's election period.

Those being targeted include members of civil society and MDC supporters.
The Coalition said activist Kudzai Mutarangi was beaten up on Saturday by
ZANU PF militia at Greencroft shopping centre in Harare, for wearing a
Crisis Coalition t-shirt. He was wearing a t-shirt written SAY NO TO KARIBA
DRAFT, but reportedly had it torn off and was forced to wear a ZANU PF
t-shirt instead.

The notorious militia, soldiers and ZANU PF members are said to be behind
this latest victimisation campaign.

The pressure group said reports from Chiweshe's Chaona area named ZANU PF
supporters who are terrorising MDC activists, and telling villagers that the
coalition government is 'only functional in Harare', not in the rural areas,
and demanding that MDC supporters surrender their membership cards.

Villagers in Murambapfungwe are allegedly being assaulted and forced to
surrender their MDC party cards. It is reported that a Mrs Machokoto and
Peter Katsokonya were brutally tortured by ZANU members, resulting in
Machokoto fleeing her home, while Katsokonya is receiving medical treatment
in Harare.

Additionally soldiers deployed to Mwenezi last year, under Operation Maguta,
reportedly held a meeting at Mwenezi District Hall on September 16th to
campaign for the controversial Kariba Draft constitution. The Crisis
Coalition said the soldiers denounced the inclusive government and told
Mwenezi residents that Zimbabwe cannot be ruled by any party except for ZANU
It is also understood that bases have been set up by ZANU PF structures in
Shamva, Wedza, Bindura and Mberengwa to 'conscientise' the communities on
the Kariba Draft and how it should be used as a reference point to the
constitution making process.

The MDC and civic groups have condemned the use of the Kariba Draft as a
reference point, saying the process to draft a new constitution should not
be about individuals or political parties, but a people-centred initiative.
Furthermore, the latest reports of violence are in gross violation of the
Global Political Agreement, signed by all the rival political parties in
September last year. ZANU PF and the MDC formations agreed to put an end to
the polarisation, divisions, conflict and intolerance that has characterised
Zimbabwean politics and society in recent times. The GPA also assured
Zimbabweans that the new government would "build a society free of violence,
fear, intimidation, hatred, patronage, corruption and founded on justice,
fairness, openness, transparency, dignity and equality."
But a year after the signing of this deal, Zimbabweans are still to find

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Elderly woman killed during Mbare market demonstration

By Lance Guma
23 September 2009

A seventy-year old Harare woman was killed on Monday when informal traders
demonstrating against the closure of market stalls in Mbare were stoned by a
group of rowdy youths. Martha Chitambira is reported to have taken part in a
demonstration led by the Zimbabwe Home Industries and Markets Association.
Unidentified youths, suspected of trying to take advantage of the protest
and steal from the protestors, then threw stones at their victims.
Chitambira sustained head injuries and died on admission at Harare Hospital.

Family spokesman Crispen Chitambira made an appeal for the person
responsible to own up. He told the state owned ZBC, 'I'm appealing to the
culprit to come forward so that we can help him pray to ease his conscience.
We have lost a great pillar of the family.' Police spokesman Inspector James
Sabau has confirmed the arrest of 12 suspects in connection with the murder.
He said the demonstration had been sanctioned by police and they were still
trying to establish the motives of the youths who disrupted it.

Simbarashe Moyo the chairperson of the Combined Harare Residents Association
(CHRA) told Newsreel the issue of the market stalls involved several
government ministers and ZANU PF officials. He accused local government
minister Ignatius Chombo and ZANU PF Women's League boss Oppah Muchinguri of
owning several market stalls and sub-letting them for a hefty profit. He
said the Harare City Council was only getting about 1 percent of the
proceeds from the market stalls.
This month CHRA issued a statement exposing how Chombo wrote a letter to the
City's Director of Housing, Justin Chivavaya, to reserve twelve market
stands at Mupedzanhamo flea market in Mbare. The letter was written on the
17th March, after the councilors had raised the issue of the unfair
allocation of market stands in Harare. CHRA also revealed that some former
members of the Harare Commission, plus government and high ranking City of
Harare officials, have multiple stands at Mupedzanhamo and Machipisa
markets, which they are sub-letting to desperate residents.
It is further alleged that several stands have been allocated to 'ghost
occupants' when in fact they are being run by senior politicians in ZANU PF.
The Harare City council is cracking down on the problem and the closure of
the markets is seen as a first step towards cleaning up and verifying who
owns and runs the market stalls.

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PM dispatches delegation to London

by Own Correspondent Thursday 24 September 2009

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has sent a special delegation to
London to appeal to Zimbabweans domiciled in the United Kingdom to invest
back home.

The delegation, led by Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office
Gorden Moyo, left Harare on Wednesday night and is expected to address
Zimbabweans and other prospective investors on Saturday.

The Zimbabwe Diaspora Investment Conference is "in response to Zimbabwe's
ongoing change programme and Prime Minister Tsvangirai's call for the
Diaspora to play a part in the reconstruction of Zimbabwe," Moyo said in a

At least 200 delegates, including special invited guests are expected to

"The event will also compliment and provide support for efforts by both
Zimbabwe and the UK government to implement solutions that help Zimbabwe in
stemming the current problem of mass migration and the effects of "brain
drain" out of Zimbabwe," Moyo said.

"This is especially important to those people whose stay has come to an end,
but because there has been very little communication about the
possibilities, and some people have not been to Zimbabwe for years, this
conference will provide an opportunity for them to understand their options
and what facilitation channels exist to support their return."

Speakers at the conference will include Zimbabwe Investment Authority
director Richard Mubaiwa, who is expected to articulate the challenges that
small scale or corporate investors are facing and Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
(ZSE) chief executive Emmanuel Munyukwi.

A representative from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, DFiD and UK
Border Agency will also address the conference.

Tsvangirai and his former political rival President Robert Mugabe formed a
power-sharing government in February tasked with steering Zimbabwe back to
stability after disputed elections last year plunged the country into

The unity government says it requires US$10 billion to revive the economy
and make the country work again after a decade of economic decline. -

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Chamisa talks about fight for his ministry

Published on: 23rd September, 2009

Information Communication Technology Minister, Nelson Chamisa, is the guest on Behind the Headlines. Following renewed attempts by ZANU PF to hive off the telecommunications companies from his ministry, Chamisa joins Lance Guma on the programme to discuss what has been happening.

In February this year it was Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu who clashed with him over the telecoms sector, now Transport and Communications Minister Nicholas Goche has joined the fray. 

Interview broadcast 17/09/09 

Lance Guma: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to Behind the Headlines. My guest this week is Information, Communication Technology minister, Nelson Chamisa. Now those who have been following developments within his ministry will know that several attempts have been made by Zanu-PF to take the telecommunications sector away from his ICT ministry.

Now these attempts began in February when first Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu sought to take the telecoms companies away. Now we hear the latest is that Transport and Communications minister, Nicholas Goche is attempting to do the same thing. Now I got the ball rolling by asking Mr Chamisa, what do you make of the current developments? 

Nelson Chamisa: Well I’m also equally surprised, I thought the matter had been resolved by the principals but it would appear there still continues to be a problem particularly now with minister Goche claiming that he is also in charge of the functions I am supposed to be dealing with. You might remember that some time ago it was a case between my ministry and minister Shamu’s ministry and the problem seems to have migrated from minister Shamu’s ministry to the Transport and Infrastructure Development. 

And the simple argument is that already the minister Goche has too much on his plate. He deals with Air Zimbabwe, he deals with ZINARA the roads there, he deals with CMED, he deals with Meteorology, he deals with DDF, all sorts of challenges, NRZ and that for somebody is quite too much and now with trying to get Net One, Tel One it’s even worse. So it’s quite tragic that we continue to have these challenges seven months after the inclusive government started operating, it’s quite an unfortunate development. 

Guma: Now the frustrating thing of course for ordinary Zimbabweans is the demarcation lines are very clear who is supposed to be doing what even from the very naming of the ministries. Do you not think this is just a deliberate plot or ploy to just frustrate the MDC and to frustrate yourself?

Chamisa: Well it’s clear that it’s choreographed and scripted to try and muddy the waters, to make sure that the swimming that was quite smooth and good for the development of Zimbabwe is disturbed and destabilised. There’s no doubt that it’s also an attempt to try and make life difficult for ministers and ministries that are in the control or under the control and influence of the MDC. 

But it is quite disappointing and I feel that MDC is basically a victim of Zanu-PF’s machinations and there’s no doubt that what is happening is not something that should be encouraged because if one then looks at the minister of ICT we are literally going to be left with nothing but maybe to serve the internet. 

Guma: I’m just looking at press reports, they’re talking about you ordered a slashing of rates, or slashing of tariffs by Tel One and the ZBC apparently early in the morning were reporting and attributing the statement to yourself and then later in the afternoon they were forced to change and start attributing the statement to Goche. Can you maybe clarify the situation for us – what happened there? 

Chamisa: Well I developed a paper on or around the 4th of June this year and I developed a paper, issued an instruction to Tel One and members of the public that I had suspended the disconnection of customers pending some kind of an investigation into the charges that were being levied by Tel One. In fact we wanted to come up with a scientific response in terms of the billing regime, you might remember that a lot of people were complaining about their bills so I took it upon myself as minister to then engage the operator, engage the customer through Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, also engage the regulator POTRAZ and we did that successfully. 

We then took a paper to cabinet which paper was then supposed to be the new guidelines in terms of how bills were supposed to be rationalised, just like had been done with ZESA and other parastatals. To my surprise when I then presented the paper, then I did a press conference soon after the endorsement by my colleagues in government and of course that was it, but I then found Mr Goche being the voice behind what I had said and I was really shocked because I did the press conference, it was covered by virtually all journalists, ZBC included, Herald included, but only to work up in the morning when I was now reading the story it was now minister Goche speaking but certainly the content was mine, the paper was mine but it was now minister Goche. 

Guma: A lot of people have made the observation that permanent secretary George Charamba seems to be wielding too much power, a lot of these things are coming through the Herald and the Sunday Mail and even things which are not government policy are passed through those two newspapers as if they were government policy. Is that a big challenge for the unity government? 

Chamisa: Well I wouldn’t want to comment much about the workings of government unless if I was doing the same as a MDC spokesperson but let me just still try and be just to your question, there is definitely a challenge, a communication challenge arising out of certain elements trying to use politics to discredit others and also to build credit for others. But what I have emphasised is that the lives of the people should not be about points scoring or glory seeking or accolade seeking. We need to make sure that we respect the people; we serve the people faithfully without trying to look at the political scoreboard, to see who has scored on the basis of political partners which is the tragedy of some elements who want to see politics were there is none. 

We are doing this thing for people and it’s not about individual glory, it’s not about partisan credit, it’s about the common good of our country and what is in the best interests of our country in the context of the very challenging global dynamics particularly from the ICT point of view. We need to link up to the undersea cable as we are speaking, we are lagging behind, we are still on 2G, second generation on technologies, others are already on 4G, 3G but we need to leapfrog and that leapfrogging is not going to come if we continue this whole matrix of shenanigans. 

Guma: Now clearly you have two ministers gunning for sections of your portfolio, Minister of Information Webster Shamu, minister of Transport Nicholas Goche, in terms of putting a stop to these problems because a lot of people had thought this issue had been resolved, what’s going to happen from here, how is this matter going to be tackled?

Chamisa: Well the matter is now back again in the hands of the principals and we hope that this matter will be solved as soon as possible because it’s really affecting a lot of our plans because you give an instruction with the right hand, there’s a left hand from another minister trying to take away so it’s really a train smash, its a dog’s breakfast. 

Guma: In terms of the people at Tel One, what is it like for them? Do they have a scenario were, it must be a nightmare for them getting instructions from two or even three different ministries, how are they coping with this?

Chamisa: Tel One is the grass and when two elephants decide to either fight or enjoy it is the grass that suffers so I must say that I feel sorry for these operators because they have had to put up with a very conflicting position and it’s not easy to deal with two different colours, black and white and that’s what they have to deal with. 

Guma: If I may ask you as an MDC spokesman Mr. Chamisa, the outstanding issues have remained outstanding for over seven months now. We have the issue of Roy Bennett, the governors, indeed your portfolio as ICT minister, what’s the feeling amongst your supporters? I’m just looking at some of the speeches at your Bulawayo rally and a lot of high profile people in the party seem to be despondent about the violations from Zanu-PF. 

Chamisa: Oh well we have already said we can’t continue to have outstanding issues outstanding. We want to make sure that we deal with these issues with the finality they deserve and we have given a period of a month to consult with the people on the way forward. Of course a lot of people have criticised us for this consultative approach or model to decision making, they would want us to be decisive either in the wrong or right direction, we don’t believe that’s correct in a democracy. We need to make sure that we carry along the people of Zimbabwe, we want to check with them what they feel, what they want, is it really worth it, is it really sustainable for real change to be in this inclusive government. 

This is what we have resolved to do, to go back to the people, ask the people what should be the direction, what should be the way forward. And I’ve no doubt that we’ll be able to emerge with a superior position and a clear way forward and that is what we are currently doing. We have also said we will continue knocking at SADC and AU’s doors as our guarantors and we’ll also continue to try and explain the logic and legitimacy of our issue and of our point. It’s not an MDC matter, it’s a national matter and therefore we need to make sure that African institutions appreciate their solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe. 

Guma: Your critics have pointed to the fact that your strategy relies too much on outside intervention from SADC and the AU. Is there anything that you could do outside lobbying those two organisations? 

Chamisa: Well we have already said that, you will know that our winning of elections on the 29th of March, nobody in SADC was on the voters roll, neither was there anybody from the AU or from outside. It was the people of Zimbabwe, it was our strategies, we won this power we have, we want the platform that we have on the basis of effective strategies. We will continue to exploit those strategies to make sure that we emerge stronger for democracy and for a new Zimbabwe. So those critics obviously they are justified, we will respect their opinion but unfortunately they have the wrong end of the stick. 

Guma: That there was Information, Communication Technology minister Nelson Chamisa expressing his surprise at renewed attempts by Zanu-PF to usurp his control of the telecommunications sector. We of course tried to get the minister of Transport and Communications Nicholas Goche but we were not able on this occasion but we will continue trying to get the minister who in this case is clashing with Chamisa over the communications portfolio and get his reaction. 

Well that does it for Behind the Headlines, many thanks for minister Chamisa for joining us on the programme. 

To listen to the programme Click Here 

For feedback e-mail

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John Nkomo Threatens Journalists

Bulawayo, September 23 2009 - The chairman of the Organ on National
Healing and Reconciliation John Nkomo on Tuesday threatened and barred
journalists from a meeting he was having with chiefs, accusing them of lying
through the stories they write on internet.

Nkomo chased the journalists who had come to cover the meeting he was
having together with his colleagues, Sekai Holland and Gibson Sibanda, in
Matabeleland North Province in Bulawayo.

Nkomo, who is also Zanu PF chairman, is currently facing sodomy

"We read reports of chiefs demanding Mercedes Benz vehicles in the
Midlands, an issue which was never raised at the Gweru meeting. We no longer
trust journalists you lie in the internet...we can use some instruments to
deal with you. Go out..." said Nkomo.

The meeting was called to explore ways in which chiefs can contribute
to the national healing process.

The national healing organ was set up to spearhead healing in Zimbabwe
following the set up of an inclusive government. Zimbabwe suffered political
violence last year in the run up to the harmonised 2008 elections, resulting
in people, mostly from the opposition parties killed, tortured and

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Gono accuses Biti of 'stalling' on IMF loan

By Alex Bell
23 September 2009

The power struggle over control of a recent multi million dollar loan from
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came to a head on Wednesday, when
Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono accused Finance Minister Tendai Biti of
stalling the distribution of the funds.

Biti, who aims to use the money to rebuild the country's crumbling
infrastructure, has insisted the loan will only be distributed after the
national budget is approved by parliament in November.

"These funds are going to be part of Zimbabwe's budget provisions," Biti was
quoted as saying by the state-run Herald newspaper. "I can't break the law,
I am a lawyer. These funds are not a substitute for fiscal prudence and
fiscal wisdom."

The clash over the funds, which closely mirrors the power struggles
threatening the unity government, took a new direction last week, when Biti
said he stopped some unnamed officials from abusing money held by the
Reserve Bank. This was amid claims that Biti had approached the IMF to block
Zimbabwe from using the loan, until the country cleared the US$140 million
debt still owning to them. But Biti explained in a press conference last
week that he had merely advised the IMF that he be solely responsible for
distribution of the new loan.

"What we stopped was the unlawful effort to usurp the functions of Treasury
and what we actually did was to block the unilateral conversion of (the
loan) into liquidity," said Biti.

Gono, who wants the money to be immediately deployed to resuscitate crippled
parastatals and fund the agricultural and mining sectors, hit back at Biti
on Wednesday, saying the explanations for delaying the distribution of the
funds were false.

"It is necessary to once again point out that precious time is running out,
whilst we are theorising and allegedly planning for weeks and months on how
to use funds that are readily available for government's use," Gono said in
a statement.
The IMF deposited US$408 million into the Reserve Bank last month as part of
the US$250 billion disbursed to IMF member countries, which is an effort to
combat the effects of the global financial crisis. An additional US$110
million set aside for Zimbabwe, was withheld, until the country clears its
arrears with the Fund.
The country already has an alarming pool of debt of almost US$6 billion, and
analysts have argued that the country cannot afford to take on yet another
load. However, one of Zimbabwe's leading banks, Kingdom Financial Holdings
(KFHL), said delaying the utilisation of the IMF loan until the time of the
budget will slow the pace of country's economic recovery.
"With the Finance minister saying the funds would only be used under a new
budget it may be be another four months before the money is used as a new
budget will only come into effect with the beginning of a new year," KFHL
"This may mean that the financial liquidity crunch will continue and it
would take longer for companies to increase capacity utilisation to
acceptable levels."
Independent economic analyst John Robertson meanwhile told SW Radio Africa
on Wednesday that he believes the fight between Gono and Biti, which has
mainly been voiced by state media, is being 'deliberately generated'.
Robertson explained that there appears to be certain quarters in the public
media who are highlighting 'conflict' to detract from any positive
developments being made by the MDC's Biti, within the Finance Ministry.

"I am of the opinion that the conflict being widely published in the
national press is not true," Robertson said. "There appears to be a
deliberate attempt to generate this conflict to undermine any progress made
by the unity government."

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A desperate window-dressing act

Written by NCA Information and Publicity Department
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 14:34
The NCA rejects as window-dressing, hypocritical and inadequate the
government's press release of 18 September 2009 in which Advocate ET
Matinenga claims that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) prescribed
constitution-making process has been rationalized to address issues of
efficiency, capacity and inclusivity of the Parliamentary Select Committee
on constitution-making.
If anything the so-called rationalization of the GPA prescribed
constitution-making process is an attempt to hoodwink unsuspecting
Zimbabweans into believing that the inclusive government has taken into
consideration concerns raised by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA),
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) over the exclusive, undemocratic and unworkable nature of the
GPA prescribed constitution making process. Notwithstanding the purported
addressing of issues by the inclusive government's principals, the
constitution making process remains under the control of politicians. The
"people" are still out of the equation. The so-called Management and
steering committees are by and large made up of politicians from three
political parties that make up the inclusive government. The inclusion of
Professor P Makhurane and Dr Hope Sadza into the Steering committee is
nothing but a desperate attempt to sanitize what is essentially a defective
constitution making process.
There is also talk of the establishment of an "independent
 secretariat". This is, in essence, a high sounding nothing designed to
mislead the people of Zimbabwe into believing that the GPA prescribed
constitution-making process has been altered for the better. Yet, the GPA
prescribed process remains an affair of three political parties. As long as
it remains under the stewardship of three political parties with vested and
often conflicting interests, the GPA inspired constitution-making process
will never be efficient and inclusive. As the NCA has always maintained, it
will always be difficult if not impossible to get a democratic and
people-driven constitution from a process that is primarily motivated by the
quest to promote selfish political interests. The time has come for the
people of Zimbabwe to stand up to the inclusive government in demand for a
democratic and people-driven constitution making process.

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Zimbabwe: Out of the woods?

01 October, 2009
Douglas Hoto discusses the recent positive movement in Zimbabwe's financial
markets and the challenges it presents for actuaries

Imagine a situation where money suddenly fits into wallets! You do not have
a lot of it but you can buy some food from a note or two in your wallet.
That is the situation in Zimbabwe since the introduction of
'multi-currencies'. This is a political term used to mean the official
dollarisation of the economy.

There is one buzzword that is common across sectors of the economy. That
word is hope, and it is shared by many. However, there are a number of
obstacles. The political situation remains fragile. While basic freedoms
have been restored, the confidence of the general population is still very
low. International capital is slow to flow in as there are issues about
human rights and rule of law yet to be dealt with. The implementation of the
transitional political agreement is fraught with problems.

That said, the situation in Zimbabwe is offering hope. The shops are full of
basic commodities. Although the hard currency is scarce, especially the
small denominations, anyone who is able to sell labour can get some US
dollars to put food on the table.

Across the population there are two different resulting scenarios.
Rural-based government employees who do not have the worries of rentals and
urban utility bills are faring better, with their US$150 per month on
average. Their urban counterparts are not so lucky. They still have to
contend with bills for electricity and other utilities, which makes their
income too low. However, even that is not comparable to seven months ago
where a whole salary could not buy a loaf of bread. Thus the outlook for the
country is beginning to brighten. Given this background, there are several
challenges facing actuaries.

Pension schemes are going through the process of converting their benefits
from Zimbabwe dollars to US dollars. At face value the conversion looks like
a very simple calculation. One can first take the ratio of a member's share
of assets in Zimbabwe dollars at the conversion rate and determine that
member's proportionate share in US dollars. But this simple calculation
often produces results that are not very practically useful. The allocated
benefits in many cases are too small to be significant. Second, the method
does not take into account many historical issues in respect of how the
assets being shared were acquired.

Most of the assets owned by the funds, in shares and property, were acquired
well before the last years of hyperinflation. However the contributions made
recently in hyperinflation when salaries could increase weekly tend to dwarf
the contributions made many years earlier. Trustees assume that the scheme
actuary has all the tools and skills needed to unravel this puzzle. This is
easier said than done. The approach taken has been to be as pragmatic as
possible. Actuaries in Zimbabwe (there are four of them) have continued to
give advice based on the situation of each fund and the requirements of the

In a typical defined-contribution scheme, one cannot redistribute the assets
once they are apportioned to the members. However, the situation is unique
as follows:
>> The asset values have a potential to double or even triple as the
>> economic recovery takes shape
>> A final distribution of the assets may now prejudice some of the members,
>> given the potential uplift.

This presents a situation where trustees are making their decisions in small
stages. The first stage is to deal with pensions in payment. In cases where
the pensions calculated are too small and the employers cannot immediately
fund pension increases, full cash commutations are allowed for those small
amounts. Some of the members do not accept this and are putting together
efforts to sue their funds for dereliction of duty. In cases where the
employer can fund immediate pension increases, minimum pensions of between
Z$20-30 a month have been set.

This is seen as the best way in terms of both the reputation of the industry
and the profession and avoiding abject poverty. The next step is to
distribute the assets to active members bearing in mind that some of them
are also very close to retirement. One has to make sure that the treatment
of such members is not too dissimilar from that of pensions in payment.

The profession is in a very interesting position in Zimbabwe. There is still
a fairly large number of students in relation to actuaries. It is my hope
that we are beginning to emerge from the woods.

Douglas Hoto heads Allfin Holdings in Zimbabwe

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‘The Legal Monitor’ - a newsletter by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

September 23rd, 2009

Legal Monitor

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights are producing a new weekly newsletter titled The Legal Monitor. The newsletters are free, and word is demand is extremely high and they are flying out the  ZLHR office. We have the four latest editions archived on our website (pdf format) and they are available for download at the following links: 10, 11, 12 and 13.

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Why Zimbabwe will not be suspended from the Kimberley Process

Zimbabwe is not likely to be suspended from the Kimberley Process
Certification Scheme which prohibits the sale of "blood diamonds" despite
the heated debate that has been going on for almost a year. But this will
not be because of President Robert Mugabe's obstinacy. More powerful forces
are simply at play.
Calls for the suspension were first made by human rights organisations last
year after the government deployed soldiers to the Chiadzwa area in Marange,
near the eastern border town of Mutare, to drive out nearly 40 000 diggers
of alluvial diamonds.

The soldiers are reported to have killed between 80 and 200 diggers during
the operation dubbed Operation Hakudzokwi - Shona for "Operation No Return".

A review team sent by the Kimberley Process in June also recommended that
Zimbabwe be suspended from the KP for six months.

Nothing has happened since. Soldiers are still at Chiadzwa. And reports say
they are still killing illegal diggers.

Ian Smillie, one of the founding members of the KPCS, told an international
diamond conference in New York on September 10 that Australian diplomats had
paid "quiet visits" to governments of members of the KP team that
recommended the suspension of Zimbabwe to persuade them not to take any

Five countries were represented on the team: South Africa, Namibia, Liberia,
the United States and Canada.

"Australian diplomats paid quiet visits to the governments of team members
recommending against any action that might damage the interests of a diamond
mining company with Australian connections in Zimbabwe," Smillie told the

"For these governments and the others that are currently active behind the
scenes, business and politics trump human rights and the very purpose of the
Kimberley Process. They trump good management; they trump common sense and
decency; and they trump the long-term interest of the entire diamond
industry," he said.

Smillie worked for Partnership Africa Canada, a non-governmental
organisation that was lobbying for Zimbabwe to be suspended from the KPCS
but resigned in May because of the ineffectiveness of the Kimberley Process.

Zimbabwe has three major diamond operations: Chiadzwa, Murowa in Zvishavane
and River Ranch in Beitbridge.

Murowa and River Ranch are KP certified. Murowa is owned by the Rio Tinto
group which controls 78 percent while River Ranch is owned by a Saudi
Arabian businessman, Adel Aujan.

Smillie was therefore only referring to Rio Tinto, the fourth largest mining
group in the world. Rio Tinto has head offices in London, England and in
Melbourne, Australia. It is listed on both the London and Australian bourses
and is the world's third largest producer of diamonds. It has diamond mines
in Australia, Canada and Zimbabwe.

The Fortune Global 500 company does not have to do any lobbying. It is a
member of the World Diamond Council which has called for the suspension of
Zimbabwe. Others can do it for the company.

The Australian government, which has taken a hard line on the Zimbabwean
government and imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his
lieutenants, announced on September 15 that it might ease the ban on
ministerial contact with Zimbabwe which has been in force since 2002. It
will also provide US$8 million in humanitarian assistance, the bulk of which
will go to food aid.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the engagement would be on a
selective-case-by-case basis with ministers judged to be making a "real and
genuine contribution to Zimbabwe's social and economic recovery".

Though he said Australia would not lift sanctions on Mugabe and his
lieutenants, Smith said his country strongly believed that the international
community should take "a flexible, pragmatic and active approach" towards

Diamond expert Chaim Even-Zohar has written a comprehensive report in the
Diamond Intelligence Briefs on why Zimbabwe should not be suspended from the
KP arguing that this would exacerbate human suffering.

He specifically says Rio Tinto should not be punished because the suspension
of Zimbabwe from the KP "will only widen the suffering of the Zimbabwean
people, while benefiting no one".

"Not a single government crony, military official, corrupt miner, or other
killer of innocent diggers is using the Kimberley Process in Harare. All
these goods are smuggled out- no exceptions," Even-Zohar argues.

He says some 1 500 people are employed by Murowa. Rio Tinto has assisted
local people to set up their own businesses like the Murowa Construction
Company and Murowa Manufacturing Sewing Group which will survive long after
the mine has closed down.

"If a player like Rio Tinto is 'forced out' because of some ill-advised
removal of Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process, the NGOs will spend years
trying to collect money to initiate just the kind of activities developed by
Rio Tinto. KP suspension will only add to the suffering. Moreover, there are
precedents how to deal with such situations without suspension," he argues.

With friends like this, Mugabe does not need to take any action.

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Specification as public policy instrument

      by Mutumwa Mawere Thursday 24 September 2009

OPINION: What does specification mean? Does the specification of natural and
artificial persons advance any national interest? What kind of mindset would
see in specification a genuine attempt to advance a national interest? Who
benefits from specification?

In the corridors of business, words like specification are rarely used.
Africa's corporate civilisation is short and one has to appreciate the daily
challenges faced by policy makers in trying to balance interests at play in
the enterprise of nation building.

Most of Africa's so-called democratic governments draw their legitimacy from
the poor majority whose relationship with the corporate world is most
pronounced as consumers than suppliers of goods and services.

The challenges faced by African economies in the context of the national
democratic revolution are not unique, what is unique is that very few
governments acknowledge and accept that they may have failed to appreciate
the concept of a nation state and their role in it.

Many of us expect answers on why the African's story is full of excuses and
is often characterised by backward looking ideas that place the past as the
biggest constraint to the quest for moving forward.

Often we blame the advanced countries for the lack of progress in Africa. In
fact, we easily succumb to cheap politics and propaganda that sees the
wealthy as deriving their wealth from denying the poor access to
opportunities instead of seeing wealth creation as a consequence of effort
and creativity.

If you have nothing to sell then it follows to reason that no one will be on
the other side of the value stream. Ordinarily many of us see poverty as
consequence of the direct manipulation of the rich. If the rich are rich
because of the poor then surely the role of the state can be reduced to an
instrument to level the playing field.

So when Zimbabwe's fortunes nose-dived, it was always expected that
politicians would abdicate and imperialism would be a target but more
importantly those who dared climb up the opportunity ladder would be on the
receiving end.

For Zimbabwe, the land issue had to take a political context not only
because its origin was political and non-market driven but because the
poverty that has visited the country was not anticipated.

In the absence of any rational explanation about the real causes of the
increasing poverty in post-colonial Zimbabwe, the need to manufacture
enemies became a priority.

Once it was accepted that the asset called land could be acquired without
the intermediation of the market and, in fact, that state power could be
used to increase market bargaining power, it was obvious that state actors
would not be discouraged from using the instruments of state power to change
asset ownership patterns.

The first targets were necessarily black because there were no convenient
answers as to why certain black people were doing well against a background
of a decaying economy. The only rational explanation was that such blacks
were generally corrupt and the most appropriate response was to use the
criminal code to reverse the gains.

This was done systematically and the victims were publicised so that the
general public could appreciate the undertones of the ensuing ideological
debate about what kind of society was required to advance the national
democratic revolution.

Without a visible complainant the state found it convenient to interpose
itself in commercial disputes. The only way the state could interfere with
corporate decision-making was to use the Prevention of Corruption Act as a
mechanism of creating a person in the form of an Investigator.

The Meikles saga is one of many such attempts by the state to flex its
muscle in commercial disputes. The dominant political culture in Zimbabwe
sees the motives and conduct of business as corrupt. Instead of adopting an
approach that invites and welcomes business the approach of intimidation is
the preferred option.

No country has advanced its cause through intimidation. An environment
characterised by fear is hardly the one that any progressive country needs.

The experience with state intervention in business has not been a good one
in Africa. Equally, the state as a referee has not done exceptionally well
to engender confidence from dynamic and creative players.

It is evident that the change of government in 1980 did not discourage the
previously advantaged from expressing confidence in the new dispensation
with investment. The sad truth about the KMAL saga is that it was a well
intentioned initiative in response to the call for black economic

The inability of private actors to resolve their differences and surrender
themselves to the state as the ultimate adjudicator and manipulator of
property rights exposes a frightening truth about our collective
understanding of the values, principles and beliefs that are required for
business growth and development.

Moxon and Nigel Chanakira are both Zimbabweans but when a point when one
Zimbabwean thinks he is more entitled to Zimbabwe by virtue of his colour
then one must know that the wheels are off and the remedy may not lies
exclusively in the political domain.

Was Moxon specified at the instigation of Chanakira? This question can only
be best answered by the actors themselves but what is clear is that the role
of the state is regrettable and to the extent that this action is one of
many actions that have been taken that has resulted in the alteration of
property rights then one has no choice but to pause and reflect on the
implications of the state acting in the manner it is doing even under the
inclusive government.

Specification of companies has the effect of qualifying the rights of the
affected natural and artificial persons.

What is alarming is that a predatory state through this instrument places
itself in a position where it can control and manage the affairs of the
affected parties with no recourse to the courts.

For listed companies, the implications are dire and for the country in
general it effectively means that the protection offered by the constitution
against deprivation of property and human rights is waived.

We now know that Minister Giles Mutsekwa may not have fully comprehended the
implications of appending his signature to the specification order. However,
there can be no doubt that there is a meeting of the minds that state power
can induce citizens to comply with orders, however, draconian they may be.

Potential investors have no choice but to critically examine how state power
has been used since 2004 to interfere and undermine property and human

More importantly, it is important to examine how the judiciary has assisted
with no resistance the encroachment of the state in commercial affairs of

There are a number of judgments that demonstrate judicial tolerance of the
application of the anti-corruption legislation in undermining property
rights. Unless these cases are understood it may appear that it is only
Meikles that has fallen victim to this kind of abuse of state power. -

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Persecuted at home, rejected in South Africa

From The Cape Argus (SA), 22 September

Fatima Khan, Rebecca Chennells and Annabel Heaney

On September 15, Jackie Mackay, deputy director- general of the Department
of Home Affairs, articulated the view that most asylum applicants are
economic migrants and that there has been a recent increase in this type of
asylum seekers which is exacerbated by the situation in Zimbabwe. In order
to temper this influx, an application was to be made to the cabinet for "in
principle approval" to separate economic migrants from asylum seekers.
Treated on the basis of this presumed motive for flight, refugees fall
outside the ambit of the South African Refugee's Act and can be denied
protection and deported back to Zimbabwe. While not denying that some people
do come for economic reasons - most due to the humanitarian crisis - there
are legitimate refugees fleeing political persecution. The apparent policy
of Home Affairs not only stokes the fires of xenophobia but ignores South
Africa's obligations under the UN Refugee Convention on Refugee Rights.

Massive human rights abuses and an ongoing humanitarian crisis (only barely
documented by beleaguered rights and NGO groups in the absence of media
freedom) are a stark reality for millions of Zimbabweans. Despite high hopes
for change with the February announcement of a "unity" government, the
August 2009 Human Rights Watch report titled "False Dawn", details
"Zimbabwe's power sharing government's failure to deliver human rights
improvements". Torture and arbitrary imprisonment of MDC members continues.
Civilians were arrested for participating in a public protest against Mugabe
in July. On September 8, the Zimbabwe Times reported that a father of three
was beaten, tortured and killed by four soldiers for playing an MDC song. It
is abundantly clear that Zimbabweans who do not support Zanu PF risk
torture, detention or death. However, those who escape to the relative
safety of South Africa and relate their personal tragedies to Home Affairs
officials are treated with disbelief and distrust.

Why is it incorrect to say that most Zimbabweans are economic migrants?
Asylum seekers are required to have an interview with a Refugee Status
Determination Officer (RSDO) who makes the initial determination whether he
or she qualifies for recognition as a refugee. Zimbabweans' eligibility for
Refugee Status is considered under section 3(a) of the Refugee Act which
provides, in terms identical to those of the UN Convention, that a refugee
is a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution on grounds of their
race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership of a particular
social group, is outside their country of nationality and is unable or
unwilling to avail himself of state protection because of such fear. The
determination is supposed to be an individual one, requiring detailed and
careful consideration of the applicants' personal experience in light of
available country-of-origin information.

RSDO decisions are of notoriously poor quality. The officials work in
shocking conditions, under heavy pressure to meet "targets" imposed by an
administration indifferent to the inherently demanding nature of the work
required of them. The RSDO may reject a claim as "unfounded" or "manifestly
unfounded", the former providing an avenue to appeal under the Refugee
Appeal Board and the latter being subject to an automatic review by the
Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs. Our Zimbabwean clients have reliably
reported to us cases of RSDOs and other officials verbally threatening them
not to say anything about politics (or be deported), instructing them to
just say they came for work and asking leading questions, such as: "So, did
you come here to work? Was there no food at home?" It is not surprising that
we see large numbers of Zimbabweans whose claims are rejected on the
supposed basis that they are economic migrants.

For many, an interview with one of our staff is their first meaningful
opportunity to relate the traumatic events which prompted their flight. In
the history of our clinic, we have seen the worst individual cases of
torture coming from Zimbabwe. Despite evidence to the contrary, rejection
reasons such as "there is a unity government so it is safe there now - you
have no claim, go home", are commonplace. We strongly object to the
completely unfounded statistical assertion by Jackie Mackay that at least
90% of asylum seekers from Zimbabwe are "economic migrants". The assertion
by our government that at least 90% of asylum seekers from Zimbabwe are
"economic migrants" is founded on the statistical outcomes of RSDOs'
decisions. Legally, RSDO determinations are merely a first step, as asylum
seekers are entitled to an appeal or review as a matter of course. They are
misleading statistical indicators for the assessment of real motivations for
migration. Despite this, our government has continued to espouse the
politically useful view that Zimbabweans are just "economic migrants".

What does it mean to be an economic migrant? In April Home Affairs announced
the imminent launch of a "special dispensation" for Zimbabweans. The
proposed dispensation in terms of Section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act
was to provide a solution to the large numbers of undocumented Zimbabweans
in South Africa. It was also clearly envisaged as a means to lessen the
burden on refugee reception offices in accordance with the mistaken belief
that Zimbabweans are just "economic migrants". MacKay was quoted as saying:
"Most Zimbabweans are not asylum seekers, they are economic migrants. So
what they want to do is to come into the country, do some work and go back
home and take the money back." The re-labelling of Zimbabweans as "economic
migrants" is a rhetorical strategy, a well-recognised means by which
governments and the international community avoid responsibility for their
obligations to protect those who have been persecuted for convention

It is one example of a global trend towards terms of phrase that avoid
domestic and international law obligations. Americans kill civilians and
call them "collateral damage". We call the victims of massive human rights
abuses "economic migrants". Hathaway, the leading authority on International
Refugee Law, has written: "Many developed states also channel refugees into
discretionary categories such as 'de facto', 'humanitarian', or 'temporary'
protection status." He cites as an example refugees fleeing the former
Yugoslavia, who were denied the protection of refugee status, despite their
cases meeting refugee status requirements in the convention. It is
imperative that South Africa avoids repeating similar evasions of
responsibility. We must honour our constitutional and international
obligations. Zimbabweans are fleeing a humanitarian disaster and some of the
most violent, disturbing forms of torture our clinic has encountered. To
label this "economic migration" is a flagrant dismissal of legitimate asylum
claims and a blatant refusal to observe what has obviously been a matter of
humanitarian concern.

In conclusion, South Africa's response (or lack of it) to the growing number
of Zimbabweans seeking refuge within its borders is a matter of increasing
concern. It is of utmost importance that the refugee claims and humanitarian
needs of Zimbabweans be seriously considered; it cannot be so under the
rubric of "economic migration". In real political and legal terms, an
economic migrant is a social nobody. South Africa's wholesale
re-classification of Zimbabweans as economic migrants is a dangerous
practice and policy with no foundation in fact or in law. This de facto
policy prejudices Zimbabweans with viable refugee claims. It feeds into
xenophobic myths and antagonism and, importantly, it also frustrates South
Africa's commitment to upholding its constitutional and international

Fatima Khan is the director of the Refugee Rights Project; Rebecca Chennells
is a candidate attorney and Annabel Heaney is a barrister.

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