advertisementForty-one members of a Zimbabwean civil liberties
group, the National Constitutional Alliance (NCA), were arrested in Harare
on Wednesday, alliance head Lovemore Madhuku said.
He said the arrests
occurred during a protest against the Zimbabwe NGO Bill, a new law that seeks
to ban foreign funding for human-rights organisations.
"Some of our
members were injured during a police charge and 41 have been arrested," said
Madhuku. "I have myself been told to report to Harare Central police station
to answer questions about organising an illegal protest."
Zimbabwean law, it is illegal to hold public meetings or protests without
informing the police.
Madhuku said he could not provide figures on the
number of injured.
"It was too confusing. Some are missing and there are
four being treated in hospital. Those who ran away were the lucky
Earlier in the day, the NCA delivered a petition to South
Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Jeremiah Ndou.
Columbus Mavunga said: "We petitioned the ambassador asking for South African
President Thabo Mbeki to take an active position on Zimbabwe."
Zimbabwean police ordered NCA members to disperse from the South African
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he was "still
checking" if anyone was apprehended and was unable to confirm the 41 arrests.
SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT THREATENS TO SHOOT POLICE
OFFICERS Thurs 2 September 2004
HARARE - Speaker of Parliament
Emmerson Mnangagwa is understood to have threatened to shoot police officers
investigating him for allegedly dealing in gold and foreign currency,
ZimOnline has learnt.
Authoritative sources said the policemen now
feared for their lives following the alleged threats by Mnangagwa, a close
associate of President Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa is also touted as a possible
successor to Mugabe.
According to the sources the investigating
officers had told Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri about the alleged
threats but he also appeared unable to do much.
It was not
possible since Monday this week to get a comment on the matter from
Mnangagwa. His mobile phone was continuously unreachable. His secretary at
Parliament promised the Speaker was going to call ZimOnline. He had not
called by late last night.
Chihuri could also not be reached for
comment while police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena refused to discuss the
One of the police officers said to have been threatened by
Mnangagwa, Musarashana Mabunda, confirmed he was indeed investigating the
Speaker. But he denied he had had any confrontation with the powerful ZANU PF
Mabunda, who is a chief superintendent with the
police's Special Investigations Unit, however said that he was aware that
another police officer also probing Mnangagwa on another matter had an
altercation with the politician.
He said: "I have been involved
in the case. But I have never met Mnangagwa and he does not even know my
face. He has never threatened me. I know that he had a confrontation with
another police officer over some investigations but that was not
Mabunda is investigating Mnangagwa's role in financial
irregularities including illegal externalisation of foreign currency by some
ZANU PF-owned companies.
Mnangagwa, who is secretary for
administration in ZANU PF, was for a long time the party's finance secretary
and supervised its companies. He also sits on the board of ZIDCO Holdings,
the holding company of ZANU PF's businesses.
The sources said
Mnangagwa in July this year summoned Mabunda to his office at Parliament
where he told the policeman to stop investigating him or he would be shot
"He (Mabunda) was summoned to Parliament where he was shown
three bullets which Mnangagwa said were reserved for police officers who
were sniffing around. He was told that he could be a beneficiary of the
bullets if he continued with his investigations," one source said on
condition he was not named.
Another police officer, only
identified as Nyamupaguma, was also allegedly threatened with death by
Mnangagwa after he visited him last May at his office at Parliament.
Nyamupaguma wanted to question Mnangagwa about his alleged links to an
illegal gold trading racket in the Midlands province, where the politician
The Speaker is also said to have in April this year
summoned police assistant commissioner Boysen Mathema to his office where he
is said to have quizzed him about who was sending the police officers after
"He (Mnangagwa) asked Mathema where the police were getting
the nerve to investigate him. But then Mathema is not really in charge of
the investigation," said a senior police officer closely linked to the
According to the officer, assistant police commissioner
Chris Gora was heading the probe into Mnangagwa. He is deputised by
For many years the front-runner to succeed Mugabe,
Mnangagwa was earlier this year hauled before a party committee investigating
the operations of businesses owned by the party.
He was also
accused by the United Nations of taking part in the looting of diamonds and
other resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo during that
country's civil war. ZimOnline
ZANU PF probes violence in Makoni Thurs 2 September
MUTARE - Ruling ZANU PF party chairman John Nkomo last week
dispatched a team to Makoni district, about 80 kilometers west of here, to
probe an outbreak of violence between rival factions of the party, sources
told ZimOnline. Nkomo, who is said to have acted with the consent of
party and state President Robert Mugabe, only sent the seven-member team
after some victims showed him injuries they sustained in the
The team, which includes operatives of the state's spy
agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation, began its inquiry last Friday
and is expected to hand in its report tomorrow.
Both Nkomo and
ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira could not be reached for comment
Sources said the clashes were instigated by a faction
allegedly loyal to Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Minister Didymus
Mutasa against supporters of rivals wishing to challenge him for the ZANU PF
ticket in next year's parliamentary elections.
A senior ZANU PF
official said: "On Thursday (last week) representatives from the women's
league, Makoni District Co-ordinating Committee executive members and war
veterans met His Excellency (Mugabe).
"They brought some senior
members of the party and war veterans who had suffered physical injuries and
showed the president how Mutasa was terrorising them."
denied he was behind the violence in Makoni and said he was not being
investigated by ZANU PF. He said: "I am in a meeting. The information that I
caused violence is false. There is no team investigating me."
Militant supporters of rival ZANU PF politicians have in the
past occasionally turned against each other. But in the main the ruling party
has been accused of unleashing violence against supporters of the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party. ZimOnline
Protesters petition SA to help entrench democracy in
Zimbabwe Wed 1 September 2004
HARARE - An alliance of Zimbabwean
civic organisations and opposition political parties today petitioned South
Africa to help end the country's crisis moments after police forcefully broke
demonstrations by the group against a proposed new law that will severely
restrict non-governmental activities in the country.
delegation from the National Constitutional Assembly, which is a coalition of
churches, labour, opposition political parties, civic and human rights bodies
this afternoon handed a petition to South Africa's ambassador in Harare,
Jeremiah Ndou, calling on Pretoria to throw its weight behind the search for
democracy in Zimbabwe.
Embassy officials confirmed that Ndou
accepted the petition, which read in part: "The struggle for an open
democracy in Zimbabwe would very much benefit from the support of the South
African government. We seek your support in our quest for a more open and
"We believe that President Robert Mugabe will
change his oppressive approach if he were approached by the South African
government in a frank and honest manner."
Moments earlier in the
morning, heavily armed police clashed with about 400 members of the civic
alliance's supporters who had gathered at Harare Post Office in the city
They were preparing to march to Parliament where they
wanted to voice their objection to the draft NGO Bill, which is expected to
be enacted into law once the House resumes next month.
ZimOnline reporter on the scene counted at least seven demonstrators who were
seriously injured and not less than 30 other people who were arrested by the
police for taking part in the protest.
The alliance's spokeswoman
Jessie Majome said the injured were receiving treatment at a private clinic
in the city. She said they were still to establish where those arrested were
being detained by the police.
Majome said: "The injured are being
attended to. We have been to Harare Central police station (to check for
those arrested) but not even one of them is there,"
"We will have a post mortem of today's activities and we will see what to do
next. But I am sure the message was loud and clear: we need democracy. We
were happy that Ndou gave us an audience."
The NGO Bill will
require NGOs to register with the government. Civic society activists say the
Bill will virtually force about 90 percent of NGOs in the country to shut
down because it prohibits the organisations from receiving foreign
NGOs will also be barred from carrying out work related to
human rights and governance issues. ZimOnline
President Obiang wants to see you.'
There were no discussions, only orders
What a difference a day makes. On Monday our correspondent was
ordered out of court, yesterday he was invited to meet Equatorial Guinea's
ruler. Barely 24 hours after being ejected from one of his courts for taking
notes, The Times was yesterday part of a small group of journalists ushered
through the gold-embossed gates of the colonial-style palace of President
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. This time there was none of the usual
dithering inefficiency that accompanies encounters with officialdom across
sub-Saharan Africa. At 2.30pm all foreign journalists in Equatorial Guinea,
most of them here to report on the trial of 14 suspected foreign mercenaries
implicated in a coup attempt allegedly financed by Sir Mark Thatcher, were
summoned to one of the country's crumbling old hotels. There had been rumours
all weekend that President Obiang, a ruthless dictator said to eat the
testicles of his political opponents, wanted to address the media, no doubt
to reaffirm his shaky grip on power after whispers about his health and
suggestions that it may not be too long before there is another attempt to
topple him. Only last week a German visitor was slung in a cockroach-infested
jail in Malabo, the capital, for venturing too close to the presidential
palace, while on Monday I was forced to tear a page from my notebook after
taking notes at the trial of the alleged mercenaries. After deciding to leave
the courtroom, I was prevented from going anywhere by a glazed-eyed soldier
at the gate. Thirty minutes earlier he had refused me entrance to the
compound, but now he was equally adamant. "You are to stay here," he said,
spilling whisky from a flask as he gesticulated wildly.
paranoid times in a country said to have an army of only 1,400 men to guard
offshore oil reserves that are generating more than 350,000 barrels per day.
It is no surprise if the President, who at the weekend took possession of a
brand-new $55 million (£30.5 million) private jet, feels a little jittery.
Yesterday, however, I walked through the gates of a building that most of
Equatorial Guinea's 500,000 population can only dream of entering. In a
transformation that was extraordinary even by the standards of this bizarre,
oil-rich nation, within a day The Times had gone from being persona non grata
to honoured guest. As we arrived at Plaza de la Independecia, where a bust of
the President sits in the middle of the square above the title "El
Libertador", dozens of armed soldiers sealed off the surrounding streets.
Outside the colonnaded palace, inherited from the country's former Spanish
rulers, Moroccan bodyguards in black suits stood next to a pair of black
Mercedes-Benz bearing the presidential number plates "PR" and "PR-004". There
was no discussion, only orders. "This is not a press conference. He will say
welcome and thank you. If you are not happy, you will take the door,"
explained an adviser as reporters were led into a grand entrance hall where
gold statues of two eagles perched at the bottom of a wide marble
Red carpet covered the ornate mosaic floor, while on a
wall above the entrance were the Spanish words "Unidad, Paz, Justicia" -
"Unity, Peace, Justice". Some of us had deluded ourselves into believing that
the President might take questions, when at 2.56pm a whisper of "C'est le
President!" swept the room. The Moroccan bodyguards, lent to the President by
Morocco's King Mohammed VI, glanced furtively across the courtyard. More than
a dozen soldiers put their hands on their weapons as besuited lackeys poured
out of a side door. Even the country's unflappable Security Minister, in a
uniform bedecked with medals, appeared uneasy as he snapped to attention.
Then a lean, bespectacled man walked slowly towards a velvet and gold podium
and began talking in Spanish in a voice that was almost inaudible.
The 62-year-old leader, whose wealth can only be guessed at, appeared
anything but the savage his enemies depict him. An earnest-looking,
immaculately dressed man, he appeared every inch the statesman in his blue
suit and tie. "I want to thank you all for coming here," he said, a
translator standing by his side.
As we strained to listen to every
word, he said that the coup attempt in March, over which nearly 90 suspected
mercenaries are now languishing in jails in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe and
South Africa, might have triggered a "macabre situation" and an ethnic
conflict similar to that in Rwanda a decade ago. The mercenaries had intended
to "carry out a crime against our country that would have resulted in blood
being spilt", he said. While it was not his place to comment before the court
in Equatorial Guinea delivered a verdict in the case of the suspected foreign
mercenaries, they would meet their "condemnation", he added. After barely a
dozen sentences and without taking questions, he looked up and spoke again:
"That's all I have to say for now. Thank you very much." It was 2.59pm; just
three minutes had passed. It was all over, and what had he actually said?
With a speed that defied his age and rumours that he has prostate cancer, the
President left. His lackeys were already rolling up the red carpet and we
were being ushered back out of his inner sanctum. He was wise enough to offer
us only a tantalising glimpse, the briefest of insights into his secretive
world. And I know that, like all his downtrodden subjects in this tiny
country, the next time I go anywhere near his palace I will probably be
President Robert Mugabe has instituted an investigation into
the violent clashes between Zanu PF supporters in Manicaland last week.
Sources within the ruling party told The Daily News Online that Mugabe had
dispatched a seven member team from the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) to Rusape where the clashes took place. "The CIO team was dispatched
this week and has been conducting interviews. They say they have been sent by
the President. We have told them that Mutasa and Chipanga are using violence
to ward off any challengers," said a ruling party official who was caught up
in the violence. Scores of ruling party officials including war veterans
leader James Kaunye and 40 others were seriously injured after they were
attacked by supporters of the Minister of Anti-corruption and
Anti-monopolies, Didymus Mutasa and Shadreck Chipanga, the deputy minister of
home affairs. The two cabinet ministers led the attacks, according to
witnesses, whose names cannot be mentioned. The marauding supporters went on
a looting spree and destroyed property worth millions of dollars against
fellow party members opposed to Mutasa, the Makoni North Member of Parliament
and former CIO director-general Chipanga, the Makoni East MP. Kaunye, who has
openly challenged Mutasa in Makoni North, is the chairman of the Zimbabwe
National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) in
Mutasa, the party's secretary for external affairs
confirmed last week that he was behind the attacks. He claimed that the
victims had disrupted a meeting he was conducting. The attacks were targeted
at those who wanted to stand against the two in party primary elections
scheduled for October. But analysts yesterday said the CIO investigation did
not mean that Mugabe was determined to stamp out political violence ahead of
next year's elections. They said the investigation was meant to appease war
veterans and Zanu PF supporters who felt aggrieved over the attacks by
Mutasa. But Mugabe would fully endorse a violent campaign against the MDC
during the campaign period, the analysts said. They added that more
intra-party violence was likely to erupt as ruling party bigwigs sought to
secure the party candidature for the March legislative
Brian Kagoro, the chairman of the Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe
(CCZ), a Zimbabwean human rights watchdog said Mugabe's team of investigators
was merely there to implement the president's grand plan of appeasing the
war veterans and other Zanu PF supporters who are becoming impatient
with Mutasa. Kagoro said: "The president's motive to assign some people to
Makoni is inspired mostly by his need to be seen to be responding to the
crisis. It is imperative at this stage that the broad interests of Zanu PF
are not threatened by intra party violence. "That amount of violence
threatens the unity of Zanu PF supporters in the province. The violence would
be worse against those people outside the ruling party, especially as we
prepare for next March's election," said Kagoro, who predicted that Mutasa
and Chipanga would go unpunished. The opposition and local civic groups have
accused Zanu PF of using political violence and intimidation against
opponents. The ruling party denies the charge and instead accuses the
opposition of fanning violence. War veterans' national chairman Jabulani
Sibanda this week accused top Zanu PF politicians of using violence and
criminal methods to secure the party's candidature for the parliamentary
polls. Mugabe has said that the ruling party will hold primary elections in
all constituencies to choose party candidates for the election.
Dogs of war? These men in
shackles have been whipped into submission
By Raymond Whitaker in
Their wrists and feet shackled, the accused half-crawled,
half-fell out of the high four-wheel-drives that had delivered them to a
garish conference centre-turned courtroom in Equatorial Guinea's capital. The
flashing lights, blaring sirens and escort of camouflage-clad troops merely
made the gaunt, grey crocodile of men, shuffling silently through the rain in
their T-shirts, shorts and rubber sandals, seem more pathetic. If these were
dogs of war, they had been whipped into submission long ago. Since their
arrest on 8 March on charges of attempting to overthrow President Teodoro
Obiang Nguema, eight former members of South Africa's apartheid-era special
forces, six Armenian air crew and five local men have been kept chained 24
hours a day in Malabo's notorious Black Beach prison. Although their leader,
Nick du Toit, faces a possible death sentence, even he must have welcomed the
start of their trial last week as an escape from the uncertainty. But,
yesterday, Mr du Toit and his 18 co-accused were thrust back into
Diplomats and lawyers gathering at the conference centre were
expecting yesterday's hearing to be the last, with the defence team making
their final pleas before the three judges retired to consider their verdict,
possibly as early as Friday. But after a delay lasting well over an hour,
Equatorial Guinea's Attorney General, Jose Olo Obono, began by asking for the
case to be suspended indefinitely. All the proceedings were conducted in
Spanish, the language of the country's former colonial rulers, but in the
midst of the unfamiliar legalese, the name "Mark Thatcher" could clearly
be understood. The defence objected that it would be inhumane to keep
the alleged mercenaries locked up in harsh conditions with no knowledge of
when they might be freed, but after an adjournment lasting only a couple
of minutes, the judges granted the suspension. Their spokesman, Judge
Salvador Ondo Ncumu, said the case had acquired an "international dimension",
and it should not continue until investigations elsewhere had been
The misfortune for Mr du Toit and his colleagues is that
two days after their trial began last week, it was upstaged by the arrest in
Cape Town of Baroness Thatcher's son. Even though the Equatorial Guinea
arrests coincided six months ago with the seizure of a planeload of private
soldiers in Zimbabwe, led by Simon Mann, an Old Etonian former SAS officer,
the affair generated only moderate international interest until South
Africa's elite Scorpions crime-busters turned up at Sir Mark's mansion in
Cape Town. President Obiang's regime, which wants to demonstrate the
conspiracy against him went to the highest levels, suddenly found it might be
able to land a much bigger fish. With Mr Thatcher under house arrest in South
Africa and Mr Mann on trial in Zimbabwe - he was convicted of illegally
attempting to buy arms, though the rest of the 90 arrested with him were
acquitted or found guilty of minor offences - the Malabo case risked becoming
Equatorial Guinea wants Mr Thatcher and Mr Mann to be
extradited but it has received little encouragement from the South Africans
or the Zimbabweans. Like Britain, South Africa refuses to send suspects to
countries that retain the death penalty, although it may allow lawyers from
Equatorial Guinea to question Sir Mark in Cape Town. But the whole affair has
already drawn more attention to this tropical dictatorship, which consists of
a few lush volcanic islands and a jungle-covered strip of the African
mainland, than it has enjoyed since the Spanish loosened their grip in the
1960s. President Obiang appears to be revelling in it. Yesterday he summoned
the foreign press for what turned out to be little more than an opportunity
for him to be photographed giving them an audience. The men on trial, he told
us, were "individuals without morals who attempted a crime against our
country which would have resulted in blood being spilt".
he deposed and executed his despotic uncle in 1979, the President has been
accused of spilling plenty of blood on his own account, and even of eating
the testicles of his murdered enemies to imbibe their masculinity. The
accused were not in the courtroom to hear the debate that will prolong their
uncertainty. But a door to their holding room was ajar as they were told the
news, and one could see the looks of defeat as they shuffled back out to the
prison vehicles, a young soldier clapping his hands to speed them up. Mr
Mico, their defence lawyer, said: "All the accused apart from Mr du Toit have
told me they were tortured." Belinda du Toit, who says her
drawn, grey-bearded husband was once the same, ample shape as her, looked
on wondering when she would see him again.
[ This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]
HARARE, 1 Sep 2004 (IRIN) -
At least 15 people were reportedly arrested and eight injured when
pro-democracy National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) protestors clashed with
police during demonstrations against the Zimbabwe government's proposed
Non-Governmental Organisations Bill.
Under the Public Order and Security
Act, the police must approve all gatherings but had turned down an NCA
request to hold the demonstration.
An NCA official, Ernest Mudzengi, said
exact figures of how many people had been arrested and/or injured were still
being compiled. IRIN was unable to get comment from the police.
were engaged in running battles all over the city and, at this time, it is
still too early to provide exact figures. However, we were united in
the belief that the proposed NGO bill is a mischievous piece of legislation
and would be a serious assault on our basic freedoms," said
The NCA had earlier managed to deliver a letter to the South
African High Commission calling for the country's diplomatic intervention in
Zimbabwe's political crisis.
"The struggle for an open democracy in
Zimbabwe would very much benefit from the support of the South African
government. We seek your support in our quest for a more open and tolerent
society," read part of the petition.
NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku said
he thought that South Africa, the regional superpower, could positively
influence Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
"We believe that
President Robert Mugabe will change his oppressive approach if he were
approached by the South African government in a frank and honest manner," he
The impending NGO bill seeks to deny registration to NGOs receiving
foreign funding for the "promotion and protection of human rights, and
political governance issues".
According to the government, the
proposed legislation would ensure that NGOs were governed and administered
properly, and used donor and public funds for the purpose for which they were
established. But critics allege the bill will result in a clampdown on civil
may have eased his way past the potential problems posed by the Zimbabwe
Cricket Union's AGM, where the board's hardline majority retained control,
but according to a report in a local paper, his troubles are far from
An article in The Zimbabwe Independent claims that while
Chingoka retains control, he stands accused of intimidation and manipulation
in his attempts to stay in charge.
Chingoka blithely dismissed the
claims - little else could really be expected from a man who described the
last year in Zimbabwe cricket as "exciting and challenging" - and claimed
that there was a "third force working to destroy Zimbabwe's cricket, which
has an external element".
Ray Gripper, until recently a leading
administrator in the game, accused Chingoka of manipulating the system to
safeguard not only his own position but also those of his associates. He
added that Chingoka had used intimidation and manipulation to block
constitutional amendments from the provinces.
"I feel it is now
time for this to come out," Gripper told The Independent. "I have been
keeping quiet all along because I feared it could affect the career of my
son, Trevor. We, as a group calling itself Concerned Cricket Lovers, had
challenged the board on the constitution. However, a man who claimed to have
been sent from the president's office came to us and said that he had come to
deliver President Mugabe's message that Chingoka had to remain in power and
that we had to stop our actions. It however later emerged that the person
didn't work for the president's office but had been hired to perform this
Gripper's allegation was supported by Wellington Marowa, the
chairman of the Zimbabwe Cricket Pioneers Association. "We met this guy and
Chingoka was also in attendance. The guy claimed that he was coming from the
president's office but failed to produce his credentials. We later tried to
check with the president's office but it later emerged that he wasn't a
genuine government official.
"The guy said to us that he was strictly
instructed by President Mugabe that Chingoka had to remain in office. He said
that we had to stop our calls for leadership renewal as well as challenges to
Chingoka denied the accusations, claiming that the
police had investigated the incident and that it was not "worth commenting
Further criticism came from Charley Robertson, the
chairman of Mashonaland Country Districts, who said that Chingoka and his
board made an amendment to a clause in the ZCU constitution that effectively
ensured the existing board could not be challenged. "Clause 18 of the
constitution used to give powers to provincial chairmen to change the board,"
he told the newspaper. "But it was changed two years ago to give the powers
to the board only. Some of us only learnt about the change recently. This
means that the current board has entrenched itself such that no one can
challenge it. The system has been manipulated to retain the same people on
the board but nobody on the current board has first-class cricket
Again, Chingoka dismissed the charges. "There is no
manipulating the whole system," he said. "You have to understand the whole
process from provincial structures. The seven provincial structures all asked
me to stand. How can you have seven provinces nominating you when there is an
intention to pass a vote of no-confidence in you?"
Chingoka's insistence that he has the full backing of the provinces, the
article reports that three of them - Mashonaland Country Districts, Midlands
and Matebeleland - have discussed tabling a formal challenge to the
New book by Jewish leader gives insider's take on
Zimbabwe's decline By Moira Schneider
Sept. 1 (JTA) - Abe Abrahamson has always been a fighter for social
justice. From his days as a Cabinet minister in the government of
Southern Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe - to his involvement in Jewish
communal organizations there, as well as in those of his adopted home of
South Africa, he has walked the world stage, rubbing shoulders with
political leaders on three continents in his quest for social
Now in his 82nd year, Abrahamson is telling the story of
his life in "The Moon Can Wait," a new book chronicling his life - starting
with his beginnings in the city of Bulawayo, as the son of immigrants who
found refuge in Africa from the pogroms and discrimination of Eastern Europe,
and leading up to today.
The book was written along with author
It is a story spanning most of the 20th century, and
provides an insider's account of the factors that sparked the downward spiral
of events resulting in the disaster that is present-day
Over the past several years, some blacks, backed by
mercurial ruler Robert Mugabe, have invaded white-owned farms across the
country and turned out their owners in a chaotic attempt at land
The country's economy has deteriorated with rampant
unemployment and runaway inflation and more than 80 percent of the black
population now lives below the poverty line.
community has dwindled drastically from 7,500 at its peak in the 1960s to a
mere 400 today.
According to Abrahamson's account, the country's
prospects were not always so bleak.
In 1960, when he played a
prominent role at London's Lancaster House conference to negotiate a new
constitution for Southern Rhodesia, it seemed as if the violent chaos that
was to become almost endemic to Africa's liberation struggles might be
Reflecting on those times, Abrahamson told JTA: "I had a
great deal of hope that we could establish a multiracial society, where every
man or woman was judged for what they could contribute."
this was not to be - his party was swept from power in the "fatal" 1962
election called as a referendum on land apportionment. Abrahamson calls the
election a "crass error of judgment."
"By holding an election to
ask the electorate - 99 percent of whom were white - for permission to repeal
the Land Apportionment Act," which reserved the better land for whites, "we
never stood a hope," he said.
Had the act simply been repealed
without resorting to an election, a path Abrahamson supported, he feels that
none of today's confiscation of land would have occurred and that the
intended beneficiaries, rather than ruling party cronies, would have
Abrahamson wonders whether South Africa would have
enjoyed its relatively smooth transition to democracy 32 years later, had
that nation's former president, F.W. De Klerk, gone to the country to seek
approval for the changes he envisaged. "I wonder if he didn't learn his
lesson from his northern neighbor," Abrahamson says.
election defeat heralded Abrahamson's retirement from national politics, his
standing allowed him to intercede with the country's leaders in matters of
concern to the Jewish community.
It was as such that Abrahamson
became part of a three-man delegation that successfully lobbied the Rhodesian
prime minister to release funds collected for Israel that were being blocked
by the country's stringent exchange control, which placed severe restrictions
on money leaving the country.
Abrahamson relates how the Jewish
community had to accustom itself to new political realities after Mugabe's
accession to power - among the changes being a PLO presence in the
In one illustrative incident, a visiting Israeli shochet,
or ritual animal slaughterer, was told that his passport was not a valid
As a result, Abrahamson led the first official
Jewish delegation to Mugabe to inform him of the community's dismay at the
turn of events. Mugabe pleaded ignorance, promising to put the matter right.
No more was heard about the invalidity of Israeli passports.
Later, Abrahamson learned that the Palestinian representative to Zimbabwe had
been kept apprised of the content of every government meeting with Jewish
After his move to South Africa in 1986, Abrahamson
achieved pre-eminence in that country's Jewish affairs as well, chairing the
South African Zionist Federation and later being elected its honorary
It was in the former capacity that he was part
of the delegation that accompanied De Klerk on a visit to
And Abrahamson was one of six Jews who met Nelson Mandela
upon his release from prison. In the book, Abrahamson recalls that the
meeting had in fact been requested by Mandela, who had been pictured
embracing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after he was freed.
At the time, Mandela was quoted as saying that "he didn't care what the Jews
might say." Mandela felt that he had been misrepresented and wished to
correct "any negative perceptions that may have arisen in the
Abrahamson says that as the delegation was
leaving, Mandela told him that he would like to consult him on the art of
governing, to which Abrahamson replied that he had no doubt that the iconic
black leader could "well manage" on his own.
The foreword to the
book is written by legendary anti-apartheid politician Helen Suzman who
describes it as "a good read for anybody interested in the evolution of
Southern Africa in the 20th century." Its title is taken from a speech
delivered by Abrahamson to the International Labor Organization in Geneva in
1962 when he said, referring to breaking the space barrier, "The moon can
wait, but social justice cannot tarry."
- Zimbabwean civil servants, battling with 363% inflation, have asked their
paymasters to award a further 100% increase to cover the rising cost of
living in the cash-strapped southern African country.
Huruba said government workers saw their salaries rise by 300% in December
last year with an additional 50% in May.
However Huruba said the latest
demand was justified.
"We strongly feel the 100% we are demanding is fair
because transport, health services and other basics have gone up tremendously
since July," he said.
He said some government employees earned as
little as ZD240,000 a month, well below Zimbabwe's poverty datum line of ZD1
About 70% of Zimbabweans are unemployed following the collapse
of large-scale farming in the country. Sapa
Herald Reporter THE
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe yesterday said it would continue supporting fuel
imports by allocating importers foreign currency to procure the commodity,
allaying fears that the country was about to experience
"The motoring public can be rest assured that the
central bank will continue to support fuel imports and Noczim (the National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe) as we have been doing for the last nine or so months
to meet the critical needs of the country," said RBZ Governor Dr Gideon
State-run Noczim is the biggest sole importer of fuel in the
"We are working closely with the oil marketers, comprising even
indigenous companies, and Noczim to ensure that the smooth flow of fuel is
maintained," Dr Gono said.
"Any attempts to (sow) panic in the market
can only have ulterior and retrogressive motives which cannot be supported by
strategies and resources on the ground."
Fuel prices went up at the
weekend with private oil importers citing the recent massive increases on the
This resulted in queues at filling stations that
had still not upped their prices, giving rise to speculation that fuel
shortages were about to recur.
Petrol at most filling stations is now
being sold at around $ 3 500 a litre, up from $ 3 200, and diesel now costs
an average of $ 3 600 a litre, from the previous $ 3 100.
1, 2004 Posted to the web September 1, 2004
The land reform programme has taken a progressive
turn following a recent announcement that the Government has set aside
several farms for housing developments.
The decision comes at a time
when there was growing scepticism among thousands of urbanites, with little
or no interest in farming, who viewed the ongoing land reform programme as of
no relevance to their aspirations.
They will now have something to smile
about now that the Government has set aside 160 farms for housing development
in towns and cities throughout the country.
The initiative, which is
expected to gobble up billions of dollars in servicing the land, is a welcome
development that is set to end the perennial housing problems.
the 160 farms, 184 762 housing stands have already been allocated in various
towns and cities and thousands of other residential stands will soon be
available as the Government makes strides in its long-term objective
to provide decent accommodation to thousands of homeless
Should the project successfully take off, the Government expects
to make available 250 000 residential stands every year.
allocation of stands would be distributed according to demand per province,
with Harare having a yearly target of 100 000, Bulawayo 36 000, Mashonaland
Central 9 730, Midlands 21 360, Mashonaland East 12 820, Mashonaland West 24
000, Matabeleland North 6 200, Matebeleland South 8320 and Manicaland 16
All the provinces, with the exception of the Midlands and
Matebeleland South, have to date gone past the halfway mark in stand
The Government's initiative to make available farms for
residential purposes is expected to reduce the number of people who have been
on the waiting lists in the country's towns and cities.
housing has reached unprecedented levels and most local authorities are
failing to cope owing to lack of land and lack of resources to service the
land in cases where land has been made available.
The serious shortage of
housing has seen major towns and cities battling with the problem of illegal
settlements that have mushroomed everywhere, with some inconveniently
situated along major highways and close to upmarket residential
Disease outbreaks have been reported at these illegal settlements
owing to the absence ofsanitation and other basic amenities such as clean
water and waste disposal.
Among some of the illegal settlements which
have sprouted up around Harare are Whitecliff along the Harare-Bulawayo
highway and Goodhope near Mount Hampden.
It is estimated that over 500
000 people in Harare alone live in backyard cabins that are not suitable for
human habitation, while some families are reportedly living in squalid
conditions, with up to 10 or more people sharing a single room.
the setting aside of land is a noble idea, previous experience has shown that
people who already own homes are more likely to benefit from this initiative,
dashing the hopes of low-income and non-income homeseekers of ever owning a
Over the years low-income homeseekers in Zimbabwe have faced a lot
of impediments in trying to get a roof over their heads.
people have failed to own houses because of the prohibitive cost of land, let
alone servicing it. They also have not been able to access mortgage finance
given the punitive interest rates being charged by banks and building
Faced with such insurmountable challenges, their hopes of ever
owning a house of their own had dwindled over the years. However, these could
soon be revived if the Government puts in place thorough screening measures
to ensure that only deserving people benefit from the latest
The Government and the relevant authority should ensure that
people who get land are genuine home seekers and do not own land or a house
"A serious vetting exercise is needed to ensure that people
who already have houses do not benefit," said Mr Rodwick Manake, a property
developer with a Harare company.
Chairman of the Ryadle Ridge Housing
Co-operative Union Mr Gabriel Pambweyo said the problem of cheating would
only be solved if available land is allocated to unions representing housing
"The majority of people, if not all people who are
registered with housing co-operatives, are genuine home
"These are the very same people who should be given priority
when land for housing is being allocated," he said.
Mr Pambweyo added
that it would be folly to allocate land indiscriminately because only people
with fraudulent intentions would benefit.
There are 25 co-operatives
registered with Ryadle Ridge Housing Co-operative Union, whose objective is
to co-ordinate the activities of housing co-operatives including auditing
books of its members.
In addition to a water-tight screening of
beneficiaries, the Government should also introduce a comprehensive policy
that would ensure that provision of housing becomes a fundamental
"The right to housing should be enshrined in the country's
Constitution. Such a constitutional provision will at least elicit
Government's commitment to provide housing to low-income/non-income
homeseekers," said an analyst.
As a fundamental principle in housing
provision, there is also need for the Government to revive the National
Housing Policy drafted in 2000.
Although the policy was put in place four
years ago, nothing has been done to implement its progressive
The vision of the National Housing Policy is that every
household should have access to permanent residential structures with secure
tenure, privacy, water, sanitary facilities and that the housing sector
advances economic growth in the country.
On the other hand, the stated
goal of the policy is to improve housing in the country by increasing the
share of housing in the national Budget and to increase housing delivery on
sustainable, planned and programmable basis for the benefit of the low-
income home seekers.
One aspect of the policy crucial to housing
provision that the Government would need to seriously pursue to ensure that
low-income and non-income home seekers benefit is to come up with a
At the moment the main reason why some of the
fundamentals contained in that National Housing Policy have not been
seriously considered is that this is only a piece of paper and not a binding
legal instrument which can be enforced in a court of law.
So while the
policy is full of promises and can significantly provide the facelift that
the country needs in housing provision, it would need to be enacted into a
Because housing is a basic need and not a luxury, there is also need
to enshrine the right to housing in the Bill of Rights section of
the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Currently, the Government is not
constitutionally mandated to provide access to land or finance for housing
development for the urban low-income earners and does so merely as a social
There is also need for a legislative framework to control the
operations of private land developers.
At the moment several land
developers are buying a lot of land within urban areas and holding on to it
for speculative purposes.
They should be prohibited from owning more than
one property in areas meant for low-income earners.
It is within that
context that land would not be used for speculative purposes, but instead as
a resource that should improve the livelihood of many.
reform of housing laws and policies needs collective responses to be guided
by a robust, large-scale and multi-sectorial strategy that incorporates the
diverse needs and concerns of the most marginalised, particularly the