Harare, September 29, 2012 - Zimbabwe will hold a referendum on a
constitution in November this year and general elections in March 2013, the
justice minister confirmed on Thursday, though politicians have questioned
whether the proposed dates are feasible.
A circulating draft constitution was accepted by the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. However, President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has listed a slate of problems it has with the
The two sides, and a smaller breakaway faction of the MDC, are arguing over
presidential powers and political and civil rights, including homosexuality
laws and dual citizenship.
The three parties have been in a fragile coalition government since 2009, in
a deal brokered by neighbouring countries following violent elections the
Mugabe, 88, has been at the helm of the southern African nation since 1980
and has pledged to run again. The country must legally hold elections by
The country is also in need of a by-election, with over 200 seats in
parliament and local government vacant. But Zanu-PF officials say the state
lacks the funds to hold polls to fill the posts.
“It would not make sense to have an election now and then a general election
in March,” Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, an ally of Mugabe, told
“Besides that, we have a (constitutional) referendum in November.”
Commenting on the proposed dates of elections and referendum, MDC
spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “We were never consulted about that. We
remain to see how possible it is to have a referendum in November when we
still have issues.” - Sapa-dpa
Click here to read ZESN's press statement on the possibility of elections in March
Saturday, 29 September 2012 00:00
Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
JUDGE President George Chiweshe will on Monday either confirm or reject
President Mugabe’s proposal that harmonised elections be held in March next
He will make the decision when he rules on the urgency of a chamber
application in which the President is seeking a further extension of the
by-elections deadline from October 1 to March 31 next year.
President Mugabe has since indicated that he wants to call for harmonised
elections in the last week of March next year.
The judge is also expected to determine whether it is legally correct for
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa to depose an affidavit
in the application on behalf of the President.
Ex-legislators Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East)
and Norman Mpofu (Bulilima East) approached the courts to enforce the
holding of by-elections after they lost their seats when they defected from
Representing the three, who obtained the order for the proclamation of the
by-elections date, Ms Beatrice Mtetwa said Minister Chinamasa was not
qualified to depose the affidavit.
She said at least the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or Finance Minister
Tendai Biti could have deposed the affidavit, stating the financial
difficulties in holding the by-elections and the challenges facing the
Government in logistics.
Ms Mtetwa wants the judge to determine whether or not it was proper for an
officer from the Attorney-General to sign a certificate of urgency in the
The AG’s Office is the one representing President Mugabe in the case.
Ms Mtetwa also argued that the matter was not urgent considering that the
same request for postponement of compliance with the Supreme Court
order had been made before.
“It seems like the matter is now becoming urgent on a monthly basis,” said
Advocate Ray Goba, who is being instructed by the AG’s office, said there
was no law prohibiting a lawyer in the same office with a litigant’s
representatives to grant a certificate of urgency.
Adv Goba said there was nothing improper about an officer from the AG to
certify the application.
He also told The Herald that the matter was urgent and that “it continues to
be urgent as long as there are deadlines”.
Adv Goba said Minister Chinamasa was qualified to depose an affidavit in the
case because he is a Cabinet Minister.
He said Minister Chinamasa is responsible for administering the Electoral
In the application, the President contends that Government has no funds to
conduct the by-elections when harmonised polls are expected in six months.
The by-elections are expected to cost US$47 547 036, while the
constitutional referendum would gobble US$104 651 273.
The harmonised elections, expected in March next year, will chew up to
US$115 374 890.
President Mugabe requested that the by-election date be postponed to March
31 when the harmonised elections will be conducted, considering the
unavailability of financial resources.
Mid this year, the Supreme Court gave the President up to August 30 to
publish the by-elections date.
He successfully sought extension of the deadline to October 1 through an
urgent chamber application.
The President is now asking for further postponement of the deadline to
He argued that the vacant seats were spread across the country, making them
more costly to hold.
Bhebhe, Mguni and Mpofu were expelled from MDC and subsequently relieved of
their parliamentary positions.
They instituted court action after declaring interest in contesting for the
constituencies as independent candidates.
September 29, 2012 in News, Politics
ZIMBABWE Defence Forces (ZDF) commander General Constantine Chiwenga and
other senior Zanu PF leaders have reportedly endorsed Defence minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Robert Mugabe ahead of
Vice-President Joice Mujuru, in a move which will fuel the party’s already
fierce succession battle.
Report by Elias Mambo
Sources said Chiwenga, who was guest of honour at Mnangagwa’s 66th birthday
party at his Sherwood Farm on the outskirts of Kwekwe on September 15, sang
praises of the minister, describing him as a liberation hero, while further
claiming he was one of the few surviving senior party members who attended
the first-ever Zanu PF politburo meeting.
“Mnangagwa is the only surviving member of the first politburo meeting
because in the first days, the president (Mugabe) did not attend the
politburo,” Chiwenga is reported to have said. “All the others who attended
the first meetings are now dead. I’m sure he is alive for a reason which we
Contacted for comment on the utterances by Chiwenga, who now seems prepared
to abandon his own reported succession ambitions to support Mnangagwa, ZDF
public relations director Lieutenant-Colonel Overson Mugwisi confirmed the
birthday party did take place although he was not in a position to say
anything since he was not invited “because it was a private function”.
Mnangagwa’s birthday party was attended by his key allies, including
ex-Labour minister July Moyo, former Masvingo provincial governor and
politburo member Josaya Hungwe, permanent secretary for defence Martin
Rushwaya, Zanu PF Midlands vice-chairman Larry Mavhima, provincial security
officer Owen Ncube, and local chiefs Gwesela and Samambwa, among many
Ncube refused to comment, referring comments to Machaya or Mavhima who were
Sources said Chiwenga’s statement suggested the army was backing Mnangagwa
ahead of Mujuru. Zanu PF’s succession puzzle has threatened to tear the
party apart, with two factions led by Mnangagwa and Mujuru battling to
strategically positioning themselves to succeed Mugabe.
Sources also said Mnangagwa’s endorsement by Chiwenga was reinforced by his
closely ally, Hungwe’s biblical reference to Mnangagwa as a redeemer.
Hungwe, once lambasted by the late Zanu PF politburo supremo and political
maverick Eddison Zvobgo for “usurping” pastors’ responsibilities because of
his penchant for quoting scripture, likened Mnangagwa to the biblical Ezra.
“In the Bible, Ezra was a legal advisor sent by God to redeem the
Israelites,” Hungwe reportedly said. “Now in Zimbabwe we also have Emmerson,
who happens to also be a legal expert, and was also sent to redeem the
children of Zimbabwe. He is our own Ezra.”
In the Bible, Ezra was a minor prophet sent to redeem the Israelites after
they were taken as slaves for the second time in Babylon. He was from a high
priestly family and was a descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses.
Mnangagwa some months ago told the Zimbabwe Independent he was “ready to
rule” although he later disputed that after internal Zanu PF ructions and
resorted to legal action to protect himself.
Mugabe’s succession struggle is manifesting itself in Zanu PF and national
political platforms and processes, including the ongoing constitution-making
exercise through which senior party officials are now trying to manage the
Zanu PF officials recently tried to handle the succession issue by accepting
a running mate clause in the Copac draft constitution, something which
Mugabe and his Zanu PF politburo later rejected after day and night meetings
lasting almost 50 hours.
Now Zanu PF wants to introduce a provision which says if a sitting president
is incapacitated or dies, he shall be replaced by a member of the party to
which he belonged. This is widely seen as an attempt to manage events in the
occasion of Mugabe’s retirement, incapacitation or death.
Anxieties are running high in Zanu PF about Mugabe’s re-election prospects
as polls continue to delay. Mugabe this week showed in a high court
by-election case that he wants early elections by March next year. He had
initially tried to force elections last year and this year but failed.
Insiders say this is largely driven by growing age and frailty concerns.
Mnangagwa’s succession ambitions recently took a big knock following the
disbandment of District Coordinating Committees (DCCs) after Mujuru and
hardliners in the party aligned to the powerful Joint Operations Command
(JOC) influenced Mugabe to dissolve the structures earlier this year.
Mnangagwa faction had gained control of most provinces, including Mujuru’s
Mashonaland Central province, putting him a strong position ahead of the
Zanu PF congress in 2014.
The motion to disband the DCCs was moved by Matabeleland North provincial
governor Thokozile Mathuthu, a former Mnangagwa ally, and was seconded by
Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti – both now Mujuru allies.
The Mujuru faction took advantage of the fact that Mnangagwa was not at the
politburo meeting as he was in China, while Mujuru herself was around
although she later left the meeting when national commissar Webster Shamu
was presenting his report on the state of the party and contentious DCC
“Chiwenga was here for a reason and that is to mobilise support for
Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s successor,” said a senior Mnangagwa faction member.
“When the DCCs were disbanded, everyone thought the camp was now in disarray
but we have serious support even without those structures.”
Zanu PF’s politburo disbanded the DCCs blaming them for fuelling divisions
as Mujuru and Mnangagwa’s factions fought for control and dominance of the
organs to position themselves to succeed Mugabe. Violence erupted in several
provinces whilst there were charges of rigging, intimidation, vote-buying
and stuffing of ballots, among other complaints.
Speaking in the Chirumanzu Zibagwe constituency in April this year, Zanu PF
central committee member Victor Matemadanda said Mnangagwa was the Midlands
political godfather and second most senior party leader after Mugabe.
“Mnangagwa is the face of Zimbabwe because he faced the death penalty during
the liberation struggle, but never sold out,” Matemadanda was quoted as
saying. “He continued to sacrifice his life for a sovereign Zimbabwe.”
He continued: “He was the second person after Mugabe to join the liberation
struggle, the rest of us and others in the party leadership followed later
and served under his command.”
MDC-T Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya said the heavy presence of senior
security officers at the birthday party suggested the military was firmly in
Mnangagwa’s corner. During the 2004 congress Mnangagwa tried to climb to the
vice-presidency but was shot down and Mujuru got in although he seems to the
climbing back now.
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Saturday that the country’s coalition
government had “served its purpose” and insisted that new elections were
needed since further political progress is unlikely in a “unity government.”
Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party has shared power with
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF since February 2009 following a deal
brokered by the regional SADC grouping after violence marred elections the
“It’s been a marriage of convenience,” Tsvangirai told some 20,000
supporters at his party’s 13th anniversary celebration in Bulawayo.
"A coalition cannot determine the country's destiny," the prime minister
said. "All the parties do is pull in opposite direction. Zanu PF does not
want it anymore. We don't want it. It's a marriage of convenience."
Tsvangirai, 60, didn’t commit himself to an election date, which Mugabe said
this week will be held in March next year. The MDC-T said Friday that Mugabe
doesn’t have the authority to set election dates without political
consultation and the approval of SADC.
The MDC-T, which won the 2008 parliamentary ballot, would contest elections
in 2013, Tsvangirai said without being more specific.
“The MDC- has never lost support. Next year we will be celebrating our 14th
anniversary, but we will be celebrating the anniversary under different
circumstances, we will be celebrating as an MDC government,” he said.
The MDC-T leader also urged support for the draft constitution to pave the
way for new elections to succeed the country's shaky coalition government.
"There are key progressive steps being proposed in that constitution,"
The draft charter - created by a committee of lawmakers from the two main
parties - curtails the president's powers and reduces his tenure and
provides for a human rights commission and independent prosecutor.
Tsvangirai said veteran President Mugabe, whose party has vowed to reject
the draft if it ignores changes they propose, had indicated in private talks
that the draft charter was better than the current constitution.
"If Mugabe supports it, who are you to reject it," Tsvangirai challenged
those who have vowed to oppose the draft charter.
He urged unity in his party to ensure victory at new elections to succeed
the compromise government whose tenure has been characterised by haggling
over positions and counter-accusations of violence.
Saturday, 29 September 2012 00:00
ZIMBABWE has asked the office of the UN Secretary-General to approach the US
government over increasing incidents of violation of the UN Host Agreement
in the wake of routine harassment of members of President Mugabe’s
delegation whenever they intend to travel to the US on UN business.
The UN headquarters, located in Columbus Circle in New York, are
international territory in terms of the Host Agreement that the United
States signed with the UN on June 26, 1947, and which was approved by the
General Assembly on October 31, 1947.
Speaking to Zimbabwean journalists on the sidelines of the 67th Session of
the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi equated the behaviour of the US embassy in Harare to
“It’s mischief, mischief that’s all.
“We know that this is a violation of international law, of the UN Host
Agreement which makes it very clear that regardless of the bilateral
relations existing between member states, the host country should allow all
members of delegations without exception,” Minister Mumbengegwi said.
“We have been talking to the Office of the Secretary-General that is it not
high time that his office approaches the host on the issue that instances of
violation of the Host Agreement are increasing?
“Isn’t it time that the UN looks at other headquarters where all delegations
will be allowed in without let or hindrance?
“There are many, many countries that will be willing to host, if
they (the US) are tired of hosting,” he said.
Section 11 Article IV of the Host Agreement that deals with Communications
and Transit of persons to the UN Headquarters stipulates that: “the federal,
state or local authorities of the United States shall not impose any
impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district of (1)
representatives of members or officials of the United Nations, or of
specialised agencies as defined in Article 57, paragraph 2, of the Charter,
or the families of such representatives or officials; (2) experts performing
missions for the United Nations or for such specialised agencies; (3)
representatives of the press, or of radio, film or other information
agencies, who have been accredited by the United Nations.”
Section 12 holds that, “the provisions of Section 11 shall be applicable
irrespective of the relations existing between the governments of the
persons referred to in that section and the Government of the United
States,” with Section 13(a) saying, “laws and regulations in force in the
United States regarding the entry of aliens shall not be applied in such
manner as to interfere with the privileges referred to in Section 11: “When
visas are required for persons referred to in that Section, they shall be
granted without charge and as promptly as possible.”
Despite these clear stipulations of the Host Agreement, members of the
Zimbabwean delegation are routinely harassed and selectively denied visas.
ZBC chief correspondent Reuben Barwe, Herald deputy editor Caesar Zvayi,
President Mugabe’s aide de camp Martin Kwainona, Director-General in the
President’s Office Retired Major General Happyton Bonyongwe, have all been
denied visas to travel to the UN, a development that observers said bids the
Government to summon the US ambassador in Harare to register its displeasure
over the continued wanton violation of international law by Washington.
Zimbabwe’s Permanent Mission to the UN had to lodge a complaint with the
Office of UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, over Reuben Barwe’s case. His
visa was only released on Saturday, three days after the delegation had left
Contrary to a statement released by the US Embassy in Harare that no
Zimbabwean journalists are on US sanctions, Barwe was detained for close to
two hours at JFK International Airport, and was told that he was among
individuals barred to travel to the United States.
In 2009, this writer applied for a visa in August, and only got a letter
denying him the visa in May 2010, long after the 64th session of the UNGA he
intended to cover had ended.
The letter clearly stated that he was barred from travelling to New York in
terms of a February 22, 2002, US presidential proclamation “that bars travel
of senior members of the Government of Robert Mugabe, and other Zimbabwean
nationals who formulate, implement, or benefit from institutions or impede
the transition to a multi-party democracy . . .”
(AFP) – 2 hours ago
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Saturday
apologised for his affairs with two women whom he later dropped in favour of
new wife Elizabeth Macheka, saying he did not mean to hurt them.
"I know the road I travelled to make this choice has been rough and has been
filled with all sorts of trouble, but I am glad I eventually made my
choice," Tsvangirai told 20,000 supporters at a rally, referring to his
wedding earlier this month with Macheka.
Tsvangirai married Macheka, daughter of a senior official from his rival
President Robert Mugabe's party, in a traditional ceremony, after a woman
tried to stop the marriage claiming she was his legitimate wife while
another claimed she was engaged to him.
"Although the road has not been easy, I had no intention to hurt anyone,"
said Tsvangirai. "I had no intention to hurt anyone. It was a genuine
search. I want to apologise to anyone who has been hurt."
A magistrate's court had granted the request by Locadia Karimatsenga to
block Tsvangirai's marriage to Macheka, prompting Tsvangirai to resort to a
traditional marriage which allows polygamy.
A high court threw out Tsvangirai's appeal against the original ruling.
A South African woman, Nozipho Shilubane, unsuccessfully tried to block
Tsvangirai's marriage to Macheka, claiming he had promised to marry her.
by Brian Paradza
INDUSTRY bodies say they remain in the dark over the modalities of accessing
the US$64 million credit facility extended to Zimbabwe by neighbouring
Botswana to help finance the country’s Short-Term Emergency Recovery
Concluded at the start of September, the loan deal was part of pledges made
by regional countries to help revive Zimbabwe’s battered economy at an
extraordinary meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
in Swaziland in 2009.
Seventy-five percent of the facility was earmarked for the country’s
manufacturing sector with the balance targeted at other areas.
However, both the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and the
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) said their members are still
not clear about how they could access the facility.
Said CZI President Kumbirai Katsande: “I am not aware if there has been
progress at all regarding the deal.
“Nothing has been communicated to us since the signing ceremony and our
members are still waiting for something to come up. As a body which
represents the target beneficiary we have not heard anything.”
ZNCC vice president Davison Nerupiru added: “If the government has not
provided the necessary guarantees as required by Botswana then that halts
“We understand the Botswana government did provide a guarantee for its banks
for this scheme and we are not sure on our position. Nevertheless we urge
our members to put together their proposals; at least the agreement is
there, so companies must just be ready.”
Speaking at the time the deal was concluded Botswana’s Finance Minister
Kenneth Matambo said prior to the disbursement of the financial package,
Zimbabwe had to provide what he termed “necessary precedent” in the form of
a guarantee in the event the beneficiary companies default on payment.
SADC countries made the pledges in a bid to encourage the political
settlement which led to the formation of the coalition government after
violent but inconclusive elections in 2008.
Zimbabwe’s economy has registered steady growth since 2009 but the recovery
is set to slow this year and Finance Minister Tendai Biti has already warned
that revenue targets for the year would not be met.
Biti, who is desperate to plug a US$400 million budget black-hole before
year-end, has also held meetings with South African officials over the
country’s US$100 million support pledge and plans to approach oil-rich
Angola which also promised to provide additional funding.
Harare, September 29, 2012-Zimbabwe of Parliamentarians against HIV and AIDS
(ZIPAH) says is frustrated by the continued harassment of sex workers by
both the police and potential clients and wants government to decriminalise
“Our advocacy is that we want to decriminalise the issue. You know that
there are arrests in Harare, Bulawayo and other cities. What we want is a
certain approach to be applied which is not the one which makes these ladies
appear as criminals”, confirmed Blessing Chebundo.
Zimbabwe of Parliamentarians against HIV and AIDS (ZIPAH) chairperson
Chebundo said at the meeting with the Zimbabwe Network for Positive Women
(ZNPW) and the Pan African Harare Thursday, “We have taken it upon ourselves
and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the concerned part to see
together how we can move forward.”
Because of the criminalisation of commercial sex work in the country reports
of ladies of the night being abused by their potential clients are
The poor commercial sex worker who would have been abused has nowhere to
report the case because doing so results in her arrest.
Patients Ndlovu is a sex worker who was at the meeting who gave a testimony
of her life.
“I was recently kidnapped by a potential client who raped be at gun point.
The man who had asked for my services before rapping me inserted his organ
in my mouth and forced me to swallow his semen .After that he inserted the
back of his knife into my anus.
“I then spent two weeks passing out bloody human waste and up to now I am
still being traumatised. It is my plea to the authorities that they should
do something to empower us. In my case I am illiterate and cannot read and
write. I have six children who I am raising with proceeds coming from
prostitution,” Patients shocked the delegates.
Director of the Public Personalities against AIDS Trust Tendai Westerhof,
condemned criminalisation of sex workers saying the move discriminates the
group from accessing AIDS treatment.
“It is disappointing that the country still criminalises sex work which from
the testimony given by Patients is a profession. We are saying these people
suffer a lot as a result of the discriminatory laws of the land. They are
raped and cannot report such abuses. As a result they cannot access health
services”, she said.
Recently MDC-T Bulawayo East House of Assembly Member, Thabitha Khumalo
mobilised more than 300 sex workers in Bulawayo and made them sign a
petition seeking to decriminalise their activities.
Khumalo said the discrimination of sex workers was hindering the group from
accessing to health services.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has just briefed civil society on political
developments at a meeting organised by the Christian Alliance and Bulawayo
Agenda in the city of Bulawayo and attended by various civic organisations
from different corners of the country. The Prime Minister highlighted that:
by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
1)The inclusive government is now winding up its business in preparation for
the general election
2)Civil society will be able to make comments and recommendations to the
second all stakeholders constitutional conference but amendments to the
Copac draft can only be effected by Parliament
3)The referendum will be held in November this year, which resonates with
the position put forward by President Mugabe in his recent court application
to have by-elections postponed
4)The Copac draft is a progressive document that should be supported by
5)Government has not agreed on the specific date for general elections
6)He prefers to have general elections in June 2013 in order to allow ample
time to operationalize the ‘new constitution’.
The Prime Minister also responded to a number of quotidian concerns raised
by civil society around water shortages, decay of National Railways of
Zimbabwe (NRZ), dilapidated state of public roads and maternal health care.
In short, the Prime Minister promised to make a follow up with relevant
Ministries in-order to seek lasting solutions to the problems raised.
As civil society we continue to urge the government to implement democratic
and economic reforms to establish a salubrious environment for a
competitive, free and fair election that will result in the instalment of a
people’s government that can deal decisively and effectively with Zimbabwe’s
September 29, 2012, 7:49 am
Dear Family and Friends,
An hour before midnight the calls of an Eagle Owl chased sleep away. It’s
that time of year when the heat of summer doesn’t persist long after dark
and so you spend all night pulling the blankets on and off. For a long
time the Owl called out again and again, its deep, drawn out ‘hoo-hoooo’
haunting and alluring at the same time, eventually beckoning you outside to
have a look. Armed only with a torch you sweep the beam around the highest
points: on top of electricity and telephone poles, high up in trees and on
top of the roof. Then you see it, sitting rather precariously on a
television aerial. The big owl stares unblinking into the torch light, not
moving, just looking. Moving round for a clearer view you catch your breath
when you see there are actually two Spotted Eagle Owls sitting side by side
on the aerial. That explains the prolonged, almost frenzied hooting and
knowing that there are two birds clearing the garden of rodents, or maybe
courting, you leave them to it and go back to bed.
By then sleep is even further away. The image of two owls sitting side by
side on a moonlit night set me to thinking about the topic which has been
the national obsession for almost a month. Instead of talking about the
deadly serious issues of the constitutional referendum and then the general
election that President Mugabe has unilaterally decided will be held in
March 2013, everyone is still obsessed with the recent wedding of Prime
Minister Tsvangirai. Everyone’s talking about it, or more accurately talking
about all the women who are coming out of the woodwork laying some sort of
claim to the man. Promises, pregnancies, damage payments, customary
breaches and alleged broken promises all queue up to make front page
headlines almost every day. For this to be happening in a land where HIV
and AIDS stand in the shadows of every doorway, it hasn’t set a very good
example for youngsters and so the talk goes on and on.
Most shocking of all is the fifteen thousand US dollars a month ‘maintenance’
payment being demanded from the Prime Minister by one woman. Saying that
the Prime Minister was : ‘in a position to pay maintenance for my upkeep,’
and that he was: ‘handsomely paid,’ the woman is demanding to be paid an
enormous amount of money every month. Fifteen thousand US dollars is the
equivalent to almost three years salary of a government school teacher or
seven and a half years pay for a domestic or garden worker in the country.
Open-mouthed, ordinary Zimbabweans have looked at the breakdown of the
fifteen thousand dollar a month ‘maintenance’ claim and can’t help but
wonder if this is a common level of expenditure being practised by our
leaders. The most staggering amounts being demanded in the ‘maintenance’
breakdown are $4,000 for groceries when most people can hardly afford 5% of
that in a month; $1,200 for telephone calls which is a far cry from the
twenty to thirty dollars a month most people spend and the $3,200 for
clothing, hair and beauty has left us shaking our heads in total disbelief
as we debate if we can afford a ten dollar T shirt or a twenty dollar pair
This September it is very hard to banish thoughts of four thousand dollar a
month grocery bills. How can this be happening in the same country where the
World Food Programme say 1,6 million need food aid ? The WFP say one in
five rural people will need food aid during what they call the peak of our
‘hunger season.’ There is a restlessness in Zimbabwe these summer nights
and it’s not just the hooting of the owls causing it. Until next time,
thanks for reading, love cathy.
September 29, 2012, 1:40 am
At the beginning of September ‘Letter from the diaspora’ began with the
following sentence: “It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference
between outright corruption and plain incompetence in Zimbabwe.” I was
reminded of that when reading the account of the trial of the Glen View 29,
though in this case it’s not so much corruption as politically inspired
‘incompetence’. The State has called two policemen as witnesses and they
were asked by the Defence Counsel to name the persons who had provided them
with the information that led to the arrest of the MDC Youth Assembly
Chairperson, Solomon Madzore. One of the police officers said, under oath,
that he did not know if Madzore was actually in Glen View on the date in
question; he was simply going on ‘information received’ In other words,
someone told him that was the case and he, a trained police officer, simply
accepted this unknown informant’s word for it. When asked to name his
informants, the police officer was unable to do so, because, he said, their
names were known only to the Investigating Officer who is yet to give
To recap, what we have here is a situation where 29 people have been
locked up for the past sixteen months on a charge of murdering Inspector
Petros Mutedza on May 29th 2011. Following the murder, the police randomly
picked up 29 Glen View residents who ‘happen’ to be MDC supporters. They
have been in gaol ever since. After endless delays the trial finally got
under way this week, initially only for thirty minutes because the judge
said he was not available in the afternoon; he was ‘otherwise engaged’ we
assume. The State Prosecutor, Edmore Nyazemba, also appears to be somewhat
lax in carrying out his duties. It is his job to submit his witness
statements to the Defence Counsel in advance of the trial. He failed to do
that; “an oversight” Nyazemba claimed and promised to produce the documents
that afternoon when court was due to resume. That did not happen; Nyazemba
claimed he had failed to locate the statements and so the trial was unable
to continue. The Defence Counsel complained to the Judge that the State was
using ‘delaying tactics’ and even the Judge said he wondered why the State
Prosecutor was always late for court.
The trial of the Glenview 29 has in fact become something of a laughing
stock as the State Prosecutor fails to appear on time, fails to produce
necessary documents, cannot prove that the accused were at the scene of the
crime and cannot – or will not – produce the sources of the information
which led to the arrest and incarceration of 29 people who have now been
held, and it needs repeating, for 16 months. Another State witness, a
homicide office, no less, claimed he could not recall the names of his
fellow police officers who accompanied him when he made the arrest and could
not even recall the names of the persons arrested. A collective amnesia
appears to have afflicted the Zimbabwe Republic Police! If the trial has
turned into a joke, it’s a very bad one. 29 people are locked up in a
stinking Zimbabwean gaol for crime which, on the basis of the ‘evidence’ so
far produced, they did not commit.
One might expect there to be demonstrations on the streets and
placard-waving crowds demanding the release of the Glen View 29 but it has
not happened. No questions in parliament either because there is no
parliament in session, Mugabe having failed to declare the Fifth Session of
the parliament open. Neither has the MDC as a whole taken to the streets in
support of their brothers in prison; perhaps fear of the vicious police
tactics has silenced the voices of protest. From the outside, it looks as if
the Zimbabwean public are not overly concerned with the plight of the Glen
View 29 or perhaps that’s what the authorities want the world to think.
Meanwhile the 29 remain in prison, in conditions which Solomon Madzore
vividly describes in his moving Message from Chikurubi Maximum Security
Prison, “They can only imprison our bodies but never our spirits we are free
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson.