The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Business Report
Zimbabwe warns of takeover of white-owned businesses
September 13, 2005

Harare - A cabinet minister in Zimbabwe has warned the government may take over white-owned firms in an exercise similar to actions under Harare's five-year old land reform programme, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Transport Minister Chris Mushohwe told a business conference in the mountain resort of Nyanga last week that the government could seize companies owned or run by whites, the privately-run Daily Mirror reported.

"Most of these companies do not want to give us equity. We might decide to take over these companies just like we did during the land reform exercise," Mushohwe was quoted as telling the conference.

Zimbabwe's economy has been in rapid decline since the launch of the land reform programme, which has cut production in the key agricultural sector.

Last Friday, Mugabe signed into law controversial amendments to the constitution that will make it impossible for the 4,000 or so white farmers who have lost their land to contest the takeovers in court.

The Daily Mirror said black executives attending the conference organised by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) were unimpressed by the transport minister's comments.

"What signals does this send to investors?" one executive was quoted as asking.

The changes to Zimbabwe's constitution also promote "affirmative action" in favour of "persons who have been previously disadvantaged by unfair discrimination".

Economists say the new land laws, which also give ownership of all agricultural land to the state, will drive off foreign investment.

But the paper said Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa told the CZI conference that the amendments to the constitution were not a threat to commerce and industry.

"The intention (of the constitutional amendments) was to confirm the acquisition of land that had already been taken anyway. We have never said that this would apply to other forms of business," Murerwa said.

It was not immediately clear how many whites still own businesses. A recent population census revealed that whites and Asians make up half a percent of the country's 11.6 million people. - Sapa-dpa
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Zimbabwe cannot take two more years with Mugabe: analysts

HARARE - Only immediate and drastic political and economic reforms, including President Robert Mugabe leaving power - now and not after two years -- could pull Zimbabwe from the brink, analysts said on Monday.

Reacting to comments by Mugabe in an interview on Sky News at the weekend that he would step down to rest when his term expires in 2008, the analysts said an earlier departure by the veteran leader would more than lift crisis-sapped Zimbabwe’s fortunes.

The perception within the international community and among an increasing number within Mugabe’s own ruling ZANU PF party was that he had become a stumbling block to Zimbabwe’s economic and political progress, they said.

But more critical, according to Harare economic consultant John Robertson, was the fact that Zimbabwe could not wait another two and half years for Mugabe to step down when his term ends, before it can embark on extensive and radical reforms to resuscitate its comatose economy.

Robertson said: “The economy can hardly wait for that long, we need changes as a matter of urgency. We need to begin to see a respect for market forces which we no longer have. We must not wait until 2008 (when Mugabe goes) because the damage will be too great to fix.”

Zimbabwe’s six-year economic crisis is seen as one of the highest inflation rates in the world. Annual inflation rose to 265.1 percent in August compared to 254.8 percent in July, according to official figures released yesterday.

The country’s limping economy has been worsened by foreign currency, fuel and food shortages. Foreign currency shortages have hamstrung industry, plunging production levels to below 30 percent.

Critics blame repression by Mugabe and his controversial economic and land policies, chiefly his expropriation of white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks, for exacerbating Zimbabwe’s crisis.

The veteran leader denies responsibility for the economic meltdown, instead he says Britain and its Western allies have ganged up to sabotage Zimbabwe’s economy in a bid to incite an uprising against him in retaliation for the land seizures.

Whatever the reasons behind Zimbabwe’s deepening crisis, the analysts said only the departure of Mugabe, who has ruled the country since independence in 1980, could restore much needed confidence in the southern African country.

This, if only because modern politics dictated that leadership renewal was crucial in a country’s development, according University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political commentator Heneri Dzinotyiwei.

“It is always better with a new leadership,” Dzinotyiwei said.

Asked whether Mugabe’s departure will herald a new beginning for the troubled southern African country, Dzinotyiwei responded: “There is no question about that. The government is the problem.”

“Out of the government, the Cabinet, the Parliament, the only thing that has not changed since independence in 1980 is Mugabe, so people are beginning to associate the country’s (problems) with Mugabe.”

Adored and reviled by multitudes in Africa and banned from most Western capitals for alleged human rights abuses, Mugabe has in the past insisted his ZANU PF party will decide when he should leave office.

But analysts are agreed that the culture of fear within ZANU PF precludes anyone within the party from stepping forward to tell Mugabe to go.

And when Mugabe eventually goes at a time of his choosing, putting the country back on track would take years as Zimbabwe has lost millions of skilled labour to neighbouring countries and abroad while there are few resources available for reconstruction.

More than three million Zimbabweans out of the country’s total 12 million people live in neighbouring countries or further abroad after fleeing home because of hunger or political persecution.

Dzinotyiwei said: “Zimbabwe is one of the biggest countries in Africa in terms of resources and it has patriotic citizens but exactly that strength is what we are losing as more people leave the country in frustration.” - ZimOnline

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The Herald

Senate polls to be held before end of year: President

From Itai Musengeyi in HAVANA, Cuba
ELECTIONS to choose a Senate will be held before the end of the year with 50 seats — five in each of the 10 provinces to be contested for while the remaining 16 seats will be reserved for chiefs and special interest groups, President Mugabe said here yesterday.

Cde Mugabe said he assented to the Constitutional Amendment Act (No. 17) which seeks to, among other things, reintroduce the Senate and facilitate land acquisition for resettlement. The Act is expected to be gazetted soon.

Addressing Zimbabwean students studying in Cuba on Sunday, President Mugabe said he approved the Amendment Act before his departure for Cuba.

Cde Mugabe was briefing the students on the situation at home at the residence of Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Cuba Cde Jevan Maseko.

He said elections to choose a Senate would be held before the end of the year with 50 seats –five in each of the 10 provinces to be contested for while the remaining 16 seats would be reserved for chiefs and those to be appointed by the President to represent special interest groups.

The Act also seeks to abolish the Electoral Supervisory Commission and give all the functions of conducting elections to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The Constitution Amendment Act also has provision for the State to take action against people who through their acts threatened Zimbabwe’s national interests.

The Act barred any court challenges by those whose land would have been compulsorily acquired for resettlement purposes.

Parliament recently passed the Bill with minor amendments and it had been awaiting Presidential assent to become law.

President Mugabe told the students that this year had been a difficult one for Zimbabwe as it was battling drought and economic difficulties.

He, however, said government was importing grain from South Africa to feed the nation.

Cde Mugabe said after realising that the rains were unpredictable, government would fund the establishment of irrigation schemes so that farmers do not entirely depend on rains.

He said the economy continued to experience difficulties and government was working hard to bring about a turn around.

Prospects of a turn around depended on such sectors as mining given the good international prices for platinum, which Zimbabwe has in abundance.

"Usually when agriculture and mining do well, we are home and dry," Cde Mugabe said.

The President also briefed the students about Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order and Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, which he said despite their noble objectives, had been hijacked by Britain and the United States to continue campaigning for the isolation and demonisation of Zimbabwe.

He said the programmes could not be said to be "worse than being hit by a hurricane that you foresaw coming", in reference to Hurricane Katrina that hit the US.

The President urged the students to work hard and excel in their studies as most Zimbabwean students studying in foreign countries such as South Africa under the Presidential Scholarship at Fort Hare University and universities in other parts of the world had carved a reputation of brilliance.

He said he was on a solidarity visit here, to offer support to Cuba, which was under more intense sanctions imposed by the US.

The students, some of whom were sponsored by the State and others by their parents, expressed appreciation to the government for the support they were getting.

The students are studying economics, accounts, physical education, law, medicine, pharmacy, chemistry and engineering at various universities here.

President Mugabe was expected to meet his Cuban counterpart President Fidel Castro and visit a number of institutions and places of historical significance.

The President said a type of jet trainer and fighter aircraft purchased by the Air Force of Zimbabwe soon after independence, British Hawk MK60 manufactured by BA Aerospace in Britain, are still functioning exceptionally well despite economic sanctions by the British government imposed on Zimbabwe.

The government has managed to keep the aircraft operational despite the British government sanctions by purchasing spare parts to service the aircraft from other friendly countries.

The AFZ's British Hawk MK60 aircraft recently demonstrated its prowess and efficiency at the Zimbabwe Defence Forces fire power demonstration at Lazy Nine firing range in Shurugwi, and again at the AFZ air show held at Charles Prince Airport in Harare on Saturday.

AFZ acting director of Operations Group Captain Biltim Chingono said most people were surprised to see the aircraft performing exceptionally well at the two events despite spare parts shortages.

At the fire power demonstration the BA Hawk MK60 aircraft fired rockets and guns on static targets while at the air show they left the crowd enthralled by the aerobatics manoeuvres they displayed such as the Cuban eight, wing over, slow roll and the barrels among other stunning stunts.

The aircraft were also used extensively in the Democratic Republic of Congo during Operation Sovereign Legitimacy between 1998 and 2002.

During this operation rebels from Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi had invaded the DRC.

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The QandO Blog
Venezuela: Echoes of Zimbabwe
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, September 13, 2005
It seems, undeterred by such catastrophic failures as Zimbabwe, that Hugo Chavez is determined to ignore the lesson and its economic implications:
State governors and the rural poor are moving quickly to implement President Hugo Chavez's vision of a social revolution, carving up and redistributing large landholdings and threatening to take over the premises of internationally owned companies.

There has been none of the violence and mayhem that accompanied land seizures in Zimbabwe in recent years, but economists and angry land owners fear that—as in Zimbabwe—the takeovers will destroy a productive agriculture sector and undermine the economy.
Just as with Zimbabwe, those who are getting a piece of the land confiscated are sure this will cure all their ills:
"I am preparing to plant sorghum, then I will sell it as cattle feed, pay off my costs, then reinvest the rest," he said.

Others like him are building rickety, wood-slat, one-room homes on their 37 acres and quickly planting food staples such as cassava and bananas while they wait for government credits to buy seeds.
And for some it may actually work. But for most, with no experience running or managing what will become a small business, the chances of success aren't that great.

Some 300+ ranches are targeted for take over by the state.
At least two large landholdings have been taken over in the Cojedes, and government authorities, backed by armed and uniformed military, on Friday were moving in on four other ranches in the Barinas and Apure states. Another 317 ranches are being studied for takeover by the government National Land Institute (INTI), says the national daily El Universal.
They're being broken up into 37 acre parcels. But those given the parcels will not own the land:
Mr. Pimentel, who is charged with doling out the confiscated land parcels in his territory, is greeted everywhere by men in beat-up cowboy hats and worn clothes, all seeking pieces of land.

He argued that the huge land holdings do not legally belong to the families that work them, but were taken illegally in the 1930s—in one case as far back as the 19th century. The land, he says, belongs to the nation, and thus to the people.

"There is a lot of poverty, and we have to fight poverty. We need to help all the people, so all can eat, buy clothes. We want to set up [cooperative] tractor factories, sausage factories, meat processing plants," he said. "This agriculture will generate industry."
Ah yes, the universal panecea of socialism and collective ownership. Mr. Pimentel, like Chavez, ignores the lessons of far larger nations which have tried and failed or tried and abandoned what simply doesn't work. And what doesn't work, of course, is precisely what they're doing in Venezuela. While most of the world moves away from centralizing and collectivizing their assets, Venezuela, like Zimbabwe, move toward it.

And the land isn't the only place this is happening:
The government is studying the takeover of 1,149 factories—roughly 10 percent of the private manufacturing sector, according to El Universal—which are either closed or partially functioning, all part of Mr. Chavez's push to get greater control over the country's economy and boost production.

Economic analyst Alejandro Grisanti Capriles explained that plants were standing idle or underproducing because of a sharp drop in investment due to the uncertain political environment, and because industries have tried to consolidate production in order to stay economically viable.

Government expropriations, coupled with a weak judicial system to counter them, "will have an adverse effect on the whole economy. The threat to private property is driving down investment in all the sectors," said Mr. Grisanti, of EcoAnalitica.
As the government's takeover of land and businesses continues, with the aiding and abetting of the state's legal system (see again Zimbabwe), there will be less and less private investment and more and more centralization, leading to the usual inept nationalized production and corrupt state bureaucracy which both will ignore the demands of the market.

It's a receipe for failure with much precedent, but, as I've always found, most of those sold on socialism and collectivism ignore the lessons of economics and markets and focus instead on the "feeling" that the only reason it's failed in the past is because those trying it were simply inept. It seems those like Chavez, who again try to do the economically impossible built on the platitudes of "social justice" and "economic equality" simply can't imagine their effort will fail.

But it will. Luis Calderon, one of the cowboys on a ranch being taken by the government gives you a real common sense appreciation of what will most likely happen:
"If they take away the ranch, everything we have worked for during the past 60 years will disappear in six months," said the 24-year-old cowboy, who was born on the ranch. His is one of 120 families who have lived and worked on the ranch most of their lives.

His dirty white hat shading his dark eyes, Mr. Calderon—who is in charge of calving cows—described what the campesinos did when they took over one of Mr. Branger's seed and cattle farms down the road.

"They sold all the wild horses and ate all the cattle," he said. "For every one person who would really grow stuff, there are 100 who just won't. There are some people who just hear that the land is good, there is plenty of water, and they want to take a piece."
Just like Zimbabwe.

And as most people with common sense know, the African nation, once prosperous and self-supporting, is now an economic wreck, drifting toward the shoals of complete collapse. Is that Venezuela's future as well?
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Mugabe 'shocked' by actions of his cronies
    September 13 2005 at 10:53AM

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has signed into law a bunch of constitutional amendments restricting freedom of movement, undermining property rights, and creating a senate.

He did this on Friday, according to state radio. Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported that Mugabe told a group of Cuban students that he had signed the bill shortly before his departure for Havana at the weekend.

Every relevant extra parliamentary organisation opposed the amendments and there was some hope that Mugabe might decide not to take that final step.

Meanwhile, announcing a second clean-up operation this year, the Zimbabwe government said it would arrest and jail top officials who are refusing to surrender extra farms seized from their former white owners.

 Zimbabwe has been widely condemned for its Operation Murambatsina which began mid-May and left up to 700 000 people homeless.

Mugabe issued an ultimatum early last year ordering top government officials who accumulated several farms to surrender them and retain one each.

But many ignored the ultimatum, and some rushed to register the extra farms in their relatives' names.

Minister of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa, said this had left the government with no option but to adopt a "combative and confrontational approach" to arrest and jail culprits despite their high stature.

Two commissions of inquiry appointed by Mugabe unearthed massive corruption in the land reform exercise.

Mugabe himself was shocked by the conduct of his cronies.

Most of the farms seized are now lying fallow and Mutasa said the government was eager to see production beginning on this land. - Independent Foreign Service

This article was originally published on page 4 of Daily News on September 13, 2005
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Cape Argus
Zim civic groups meet to make new strategy

September 13, 2005

By Basildon Peta

Zimbabwe's embattled civic groups and the opposition will meet this week to try to work out a new strategy to confront the Mugabe regime after it railroaded a new set of constitutional amendments.

According to state radio, Mugabe on Friday signed into law the constitutional amendments restricting freedom of movement, undermining property rights and creating a senate, while the International Monetary Fund was meeting to debate Zimbabwe's future with the fund.

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported that Mugabe told a group of Cuban students that he had signed the bill shortly before his departure for Havana at the weekend.

There had been some hope that Mugabe might decide not to take that final step. 

Arnold Tsunga, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said yesterday: "We were hoping that he would listen to the wide range of voices opposed to this and not sign it. This is a bleak day for Zimbabwe."

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legal spokesman David Coltart said: "This will be a litmus test for South Africa to see if there are any attached conditions for the South African loan as has been reported in the press."

The amendments were passed by parliament last month.

Civic groups will meet for a conference under the theme: "Deciding Zimbabwe's Destiny - A New Constitution For All, By All - Now!"
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12 Sep 2005 18:33 GMT Zimbabwe's Mugabe: Property Curbs Consolidate National Power
Copyright © 2005, Dow Jones Newswires

HAVANA (AP)--New amendments to Zimbabwe's constitution restricting property and citizenship rights and creating a senate represent a "consolidation of national power," Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said Monday.

During a three-day trip to Cuba, Mugabe said the amendments he signed into law Friday marked "the liberation of our land" and prevented the "acquisition of land from British settlers."

"It's now final, and no one can question it," Mugabe said of the change, speaking to reporters at Havana's historic Colon Cemetery, where he laid flowers at a tomb for Cuban soldiers who died fighting in independence movements around the world.

The amendments strip landowners of their right to appeal expropriation and declare that all real estate is now available only on 99-year leases from the government. The bill also gives the government authority to deny passports if it is deemed in the national interest, a provision government officials have said could be used to keep their critics from traveling abroad to speak out about problems in Zimbabwe.

The amendments also create a 66-seat Senate, which critics charge the ruling party will use to increase its patronage powers.

Mugabe quietly made the amendments law before coming to Cuba Saturday, his ninth visit to the island since 1978. He was accompanied by his wife Grace Mugabe, and planned to travel next to New York, where he is to address the United Nations General Assembly.

Mugabe was to meet with Cuban President Fidel Castro later Monday. He called Castro "a revolutionary," saying, "so are we, so am I."

The African leader said Cuba and Zimbabwe are "comrades at arms," united by similar struggles for independence from global powers.

"The Cubans are being punished with sanctions in the same way we are," he said, referring to a decades-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. "We are in the same trench."

Cuba aided Zimbabwe during the country's independence struggles more than 20 years ago, and "continues to support us (to) this day," Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe's economy has been in a free fall, with inflation now running at 255% a year, 80% unemployment and chronic shortages of most staples.

"Inflation comes and goes," Mugabe said, adding that the country's natural resources would help improve the economy.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Zimbabwe Government Split on Food Shortages

13 September 2005

Robert Mugabe (file photo)
Robert Mugabe (file photo)
Members of President Robert Mugabe's cabinet angrily disputed a claim by senior Zimbabwe civil servant that the country is running out of corn.  A growing number of people in Zimbabwe are complaining food is in short supply or too expensive.

Zimbabwe's grain marketing board, the only legal cereals trader in the country, will not reveal how much corn the country has left and there is no other source of verifiable information on Zimbabwe's food stocks.

But last week, permanent secretary in the agriculture ministry, Simon Pazvakavambwa, told a meeting of corporate executives, that despite continuing imports of corn from South Africa, Zimbabwe has only about three weeks' supply left and, in his words, "if we are not careful, there will be no food on the table next year."

Cabinet Minister Didymus Mutasa, one of Mr. Mugabe's most trusted colleagues, reacted angrily to the secretary's dire predictions.  He told the state press that substantial imports of corn from South Africa are in progress and that no one would starve. 

The World Food Program (WFP) in Johannesburg says the Zimbabwe government has indicated it is buying more than a million tons of corn from South Africa.  The WFP says it does not know if the grain is on its way.  It estimates that about 40 percent of emergency food aid to southern Africa will have to go to Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe consumes up to 100,000 tons of corn a month.

Michael Huggins, spokesperson for WFP in South Africa said that, although the agency does not yet have an agreement with Mr. Mugabe's government on food distribution, it hopes to begin soon.

President Mugabe said earlier Zimbabwe harvested a bumper crop of corn last year and would need no imports in the foreseeable future.  He told the U.N. to stop handing out food except to about one million people in targeted groups, such as children orphaned by AIDS.

Zimbabwe's agriculture, once a principal source of export revenue, has declined sharply in recent year, mainly due to droughts, poor government decision-making and the disastrous land redistribution program under which millions of hectares of arable land were taken from white farmers and handed to supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Meanwhile, a growing number of people in Zimbabwe are complaining corn meal, the country's staple food, is growing increasingly scarce and, if available at all, is priced beyond their reach.

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The Star (SA), 12 September
Annan is off Mugabe's list

Harare - President Robert Mugabe, who begged UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to visit Zimbabwe so he could explain why he knocked down homes of nearly 1-million people, has suddenly withdrawn the invitation. A senior UN source said Mugabe had rescinded the invitation "at this time" and sent a message he would catch up with Annan at this week's General Assembly in New York. UN envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka spent two weeks in Zimbabwe in June and issued a report condemning Mugabe's "Operation Drive out the filth" when opposition supporters' houses were bulldozed. Mugabe invited Annan to Zimbabwe to explain the plan to build houses for those it made homeless.
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Times of India
Tri-series may have been fixed: ICC
Sachin Parashar

New Delhi - The ghost of match-fixing has come to haunt India again. In a sudden development, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has sent two of its officials to investigate tip-offs about alleged match-fixing in the just-concluded triangular ODI tournament in Zimbabwe. The two men who have come to India on a hush-hush trip are Martin Hawkins and Alan Peacock, both senior officials of ICC's anti-corruption and security unit. According to sources, these officials have already had a round of meetings with local sleuths of Indian investigating agencies, including the CBI, on the issue. The ICC officials are learnt to have sought their help to unravel what they described as a cricketer-bookie nexus in Delhi and Mumbai. The two, who are staying in Delhi's Le Meridien Hotel, are also likely to visit Mumbai. When contacted, Hawkins declined to discuss the purpose of his India visit. "We don't talk to the press about our inquiries," he said. "They have information about interaction between bookies and a few cricketers who played in the Tri-series in Zimbabwe. This, however, has to be verified," said a source. The series featured India, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
He added that the names of cricketers from all three countries featured in the discussions. "We have asked them to provide us a list of cricketers and bookies whose role is suspected in match-fixing operations. They have not given us anything in writing so far," he said. The discussions are learnt to have centred on four Indian bookies. DCP (crime) Tejendra Luthra, however, said that he will not be surprised if the nexus between Delhi bookies and cricketers was established again. "There are at least six or seven bookies who are already under the scanner. It's suspected that they have links with cricketers," said Luthra. According to the source, the ICC suspects that the "interaction" is likely to continue in the forthcoming India-Zimbabwe series and has sought help to monitor the activities of some bookies. He added that these bookies, according to the ICC, have also tried to contact players involved in the ongoing Ashes tour in England. Peacock and Hawkins head the ICC's anti-corruption office in Dubai. The two have kept a hawk's eye on alleged match-fixing and nexus between cricketers and bookies in the last few years. They have also interviewed several former and current players in the past.
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The adoption of the Constitution Amendment Bill (No 17) by the Zimbabwe Parliament on Wednesday 2 September was a systematic retrogressive move for the country. It will exacerbate the crisis of governance which has, within five years, driven Zimbabwe to the precipice of being a failed state.  


By amending the constitution for the seventeenth time since independence twenty five years ago the Zanu PF government has sent out an unequivocal message to the people that it has no respect for the constitution. Conversely, it cannot expect the people to take the constitution seriously; a factor that will serve to intensify the perceived lack of legitimacy within Zimbabwe’s body politic in the eyes of the people. This dichotomy goes to the very heart of Zimbabwe’s ills as it symbolises the absence of national consensus on core governance issues and the total lack of public trust in the current Government.  


A constitution should be a symbol of national unity. It should represent a contract between those in power and those who are subjected to this power. It should define the rights and duties of citizens and the institutional arrangements that keep those in power in check. To ensure its legitimacy, a constitution must be formulated in strict accordance with the principle of inclusiveness. There must be broad public participation and ownership of the final product.


The people of Zimbabwe have never had an opportunity to formulate a constitution in this context of democratic legitimacy and produce a truly national document that enshrines and protects our values and rights. We are yet to be empowered with the fundamental right to design and organise, in the collective sense, our governance and constitutional arrangements so that they are properly aligned to the agenda of realising the shared goals and aspirations that defined our liberation struggle.


Instead we remain lumbered with an albatross around our necks in the form of the patched-up constitution initially agreed to at the Lancaster House talks in 1979. This document was not an agreement amongst the people of Zimbabwe, it was essentially a ‘ceasefire’ document that flagrantly failed to include sufficient safeguards against arbitrary behaviour by the Executive and infringements on citizens’ basic freedoms and liberties.


The Government did attempt to replace the Lancaster House model in February 2000 but its draft constitution was overwhelmingly rejected by the people in a national referendum on account of its chronic democratic deficits. The people’s desire for a new constitution, which was so apparent during the referendum campaign, remains undimmed.  


The MDC and the people of Zimbabwe therefore hoped that the Government, given the scale of problems afflicting the country, and the self-evident national desire for change, would adopt a holistic rather than a piecemeal approach towards constitutional reform. By pursuing the latter route the Government has spurned a golden opportunity to begin the process of reversing Zimbabwe’s political and socio-economic decline.


The Bill itself contains a number of self-serving provisions that not only further dilute the democratic content of the constitution but also ensure that, to all intents and purposes, it is tailored to suit the whims of Mugabe and Zanu PF.


The provision which allows for the reintroduction of a bicameral parliament, through the creation of a 66-seat Senate, is designed to extend the system of presidential patronage. It has nothing whatsoever to do with improving legislative oversight but has everything to do with appeasing and accommodating disgruntled elements in the ruling party who Mugabe is desperate to harness to his succession agenda. As a consequence the creation of a Senate is simply aimed at providing jobs for those members of the ruling party who are either unelectable, defeated in internal primary elections or who were rejected by the electorate in the March 2005 parliamentary elections.


This egregious development is compounded by the fact that it will place additional burdens on the fiscus at a time when the Government does not have the money to buy sufficient quantities of fuel, food and other basic commodities that are essential to alleviate the suffering stemming from Zimbabwe’s unprecedented humanitarian crisis; a crisis precipitated by the Government’s policy failures. The Z$50 billion that the Government has budgeted for the Senate elections demonstrates its skewed sense of priorities and provides a stark reminder of its shocking indifference to the suffering of the people it purports to support and govern.       


In addition to the creation of a Senate, the Bill provides for the establishment, under the constitution, of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). In principle this is a welcome move as the ZEC was previously a statutory body and national electoral bodies need to have constitutional backing. The problem, however, is that the ZEC, even with constitutional status, is not sufficiently safeguarded from manipulation by the Executive. For instance, the President will appoint the chair of the Commission. Moreover, the ZEC has no jurisdiction over the crucial exercise of voter registration. This remains in the hands of the Office of the Registrar General which has a track record of conducting voter registration on a discriminatory basis to secure political advantage for the ruling party.   


By failing to properly address concerns around the independence of the ZEC the Government has signaled its reluctance to reform Zimbabwe’s electoral framework and administrative processes in line with what is expected under agreed SADC standards. Given Zimbabwe’s electoral record over the past five years this intransigence is likely to result in more disputed elections and further violations of the sacred principle of one-person-one-vote.


The failure to institute constitutional guarantees pertaining to the right to freely participate in elections is symptomatic of the insidious political agenda that lies behind this Bill. This agenda becomes even more apparent when one considers the likely impact of the reform measures on private property rights and freedom of movement. The adoption of these measures indicates a renewed effort by the ruling party to strengthen its coercive grip on society. In Zanu PF’s warped analysis, placing stringent curbs on fundamental freedoms is the best way of perpetuating its tenure.  


In the year that we are celebrating twenty five years of independence, one would have expected a Government which claims to be the custodian of the values that guided our liberation struggle, to be expanding our freedoms rather than placing restrictions on them. With regards to freedom of movement, the Government will now possess powers under the constitution to deny passports to its critics. This move is part of an integral plan to deny international platforms to its critics and seal off as many of the information arteries as possible which deconstruct the distorting narrative peddled by Zanu aficionados and expose the shocking realities on the ground.    


The central tenet of the Zanu PF narrative is the disingenuous claim that Zimbabwe’s crisis is anchored solely on the issue of land re-distribution. The provisions in the Bill covering the area of land acquisition underline the depths of the Government’s deception over the land issue. There can be no dispute over the need to resolve the land question, however, under Zanu PF the main beneficiaries have been members of the ruling elite rather than the communities and individuals who were dispossessed in the first place.


Land should be given back to the people it was stolen from initially during the colonial era, yet, under the reforms being enacted, state ownership of land seized from white farmers will have constitutional backing. This means that those who are resettled on their land will not regain ownership of it. This is a gross injustice and contradicts the very essence of the land reform programme. Permanent state ownership of all acquired land in terms of the constitution must be seen as yet another control mechanism in the hands of the Government. It will ensure that the resettlement exercise is conducted on a discriminatory basis with those seen as not loyal to the ruling party denied access to land or having their leasehold agreements revoked.  


Furthermore, the provision covering land acquisition, interpreted in its broadest sense, poses a direct threat to the security of property rights. The Government will now possess arbitrary powers to acquire any land which is defined as ‘agricultural land’. The deliberate vagueness of this definition means that property in peri-urban and urban areas could in future be at risk of compulsory acquisition if activities conducted on a property are deemed ‘agricultural’. Under the new rules property owners will only receive compensation for improvements made to buildings and will have no right to due process.  


The denial of the right to due process breaches international statutes to which the Zimbabwe Government is signatory. Moreover, by removing the right of the Judiciary to interpret laws and pass judgments on the activities of the Executive, Mugabe and Zanu PF are further eroding one the central pillars of constitutionalism – the separation of powers. Checks and balances are now a thing of the past.


The passing of the Constitution Amendment Bill (NO 17) is a recipe for disaster. Neither the ruling party nor Parliament had the constitutional mandate to introduce such a Bill. Attempts to engage the public, and canvass their views on the proposed amendments, were perfunctory. The whole process was totally lacking in legitimacy. The net result is that the Government has made the crisis worse. To help tackle the crisis we need to come together as Zimbabweans and formulate a constitution in a transparent and all-inclusive manner. We all need to have ownership of the constitution and use this document as the basis for healing the divisions bedeviling our society and retarding our development as a nation.



Professor Welshman Ncube

MDC Secretary

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Picture Fletcher - now British citizen. (Getty Images)


England coach Duncan Fletcher was finally granted British citizenship as the team he fashioned recaptured the Ashes from Australia, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

The 56-year-old Zimbabwe-born manager had battled for 15 years to claim a passport and it is believed Home Secretary Charles Clarke intervened personally on Monday to ensure the row did not sour the team's success.

Fletcher, who took over the England team in 1999, had twice been turned down for citizenship and told he did not qualify because of the long spells he spends out of the country - most often on tours with the cricket squad.

It is understood the saga was brought to a close as his side were ending the 18-year wait for victory over their old foe Australia, clinching the Test series at The Oval.

The coach is thought to have been told of the decision on Monday after the Home Secretary used discretionary powers to review the case.

Fletcher, praised for his quiet authority and eye for emerging talent, qualified as British as both his parents and all four grandparents were born in Britain.

He had twice fallen foul of rules which mean those who seek citizenship must have lived in Britain for five years, with absences of no more than 450 days, including 90 days within the past year.

Home Office sources confirmed it was discovered at least half of his time outside the UK was spent touring overseas with the England team.

A Whitehall official said: "It is right to say the Home Secretary used his discretionary powers and it was decided Mr Fletcher deserved to be granted citizenship."

The coach, who will parade through London with his team on Tuesday, must now attend a citizenship ceremony to confirm his new status.

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