Zimbabwe warns of takeover of
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
Zimbabwe's economy has been in rapid decline since the launch
of the land reform programme, which has cut production in the key agricultural
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.
Mirror said black executives attending the conference organised by the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) were unimpressed by the transport
"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,"
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
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
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
Senate polls to be held before end of year:
President 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.
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.
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
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
"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
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
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
The students are studying economics, accounts, physical
education, law, medicine, pharmacy, chemistry and engineering at various
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
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
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.
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.
The QandO Blog
|Venezuela: Echoes of
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
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.Just as with Zimbabwe, those who are getting a piece of the
land confiscated are sure this will cure all their ills:
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
"I am preparing to plant sorghum, then I will sell it as cattle
feed, pay off my costs, then reinvest the rest," he said.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.
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.
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
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.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
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
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.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.
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.
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
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
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.Just like Zimbabwe.
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."
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?
Mugabe 'shocked' by actions of his cronies
September 13 2005 at
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
Mugabe issued an ultimatum early last year ordering top
government officials who accumulated several farms to surrender them and retain
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.
of the farms seized are now lying fallow and Mutasa said the government was
eager to see production beginning on this land. - Independent Foreign
This article was originally published on page 4 of Daily News
on September 13, 2005
Zim civic groups meet to make new strategy
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
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.
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
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
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
Civic groups will meet for a conference under the theme:
"Deciding Zimbabwe's Destiny - A New Constitution For All, By All - Now!"
|12 Sep 2005 18:33 GMT Zimbabwe's Mugabe: Property Curbs Consolidate
© 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
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.
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
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,"
Zimbabwe's economy has been in a free fall, with inflation
now running at 255% a year, 80% unemployment and chronic shortages of most
"Inflation comes and goes," Mugabe said, adding that the
country's natural resources would help improve the economy.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
|Zimbabwe Government Split
on Food Shortages|
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.
|Robert Mugabe (file
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.
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.
Times of India
Tri-series may have been fixed: ICC
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.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY AND A RECIPE FOR
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
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
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
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.
Fletcher - now British citizen. (Getty
Images) FLETCHER REWARDED WITH CITIZENSHIP
England coach Duncan Fletcher was finally granted British citizenship as the
team he fashioned recaptured the Ashes from Australia, it was confirmed on
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
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
The coach, who will parade through London with his team on Tuesday, must now
attend a citizenship ceremony to confirm his new status.