Businessman interrogated for
heeding stayaway call
7:07:26 AM (GMT +2)
THE police on Wednesday released
without charge, Mick Davis, the managing director of a clothing shop in
Harare, and his manager, Martin Mkaka, after an hour's interrogation at
Harare Central Police Station.
taken to the police station following a misunderstanding with Joseph
Chinotimba, the vice-president of the Zanu PF-backed Zimbabwe Federation of
Trade Unions, for allegedly closing his shop during the ZCTU-organised mass
stayaway which ends today.
confirmed the incident but refused to give details over
stormed into Davis' shop and accused him of heeding the mass
Yesterday, Davis said his
workers were doing a routine stock-take when a group of people knocked at the
door pretending they wanted to buy
He said: "Chinotimba,
accompanied by six youths, stormed into my shop and shouted at me asking why
we were not open.
"I told him we were open
and attending to customers but he would not hear of
Davis said Chinotimba became
aggressive and accused him of "destroying the country" and ordered him to "go
back to England".
"I told him I had big
business contracts in the country and would not go anywhere," he said. "John
Nkomo and Nicholas Goche know me and I have good relations with
Nkomo is the Minister of Special
Affairs in the President's Office while Goche heads the Ministry of National
Davis said he phoned Nkomo, and
then handed the telephone to Chinotimba so that he could talk to the
Davis said he did not hear what
the two discussed but a police vehicle later arrived and took them to Harare
Central Police Station.
Nkomo said he was
in Bulawayo attending a funeral and would not be drawn to shed any light on
Davis' lawyer, Godfrey
Mamvura, later went to the police station in the company of another lawyer
but by the time they arrived, their client had been released without
SOME war veterans in Bulilima's
Madlambudzi area last week snubbed the Independence Day celebrations, saying
there was nothing to celebrate because the nation was facing a major food
The festivities, normally
organised by war veterans, did not take place this year after the ex-fighters
allegedly resolved that there could be no celebrations as people faced
Makhwi Dube, an organising
committee member, said the war veterans had resolved to shun the event in
protest against President Mugabe's regime.
"To us, Independence celebrations are a thing of the past, and this year
there is absolutely nothing to celebrate.
"Why should anyone be seen hailing the so-called fruits of total emancipation
when people are suffering like this?" said
She said that the war veterans were
incensed by Mugabe's leadership and were calling for his
The Madlambudzi area is an
MDC stronghold and has a few but vibrant Zanu PF supporters who have launched
a massive witch-hunt on MDC supporters since the 2000 parliamentary
Other villagers who spoke to The
Daily News said the degree of suffering has reached alarming
Lizzy Ngwenya said Independence
Day had lost meaning to them.
the days when Independence Day used to have significance. Nowadays there is
absolutely nothing to cherish as the suffering that we are subjected to is
equal to, if not more than, that we went through under the regime of Ian
Smith," she said.
Leonard Moyo concurred
with Ngwenya, saying the hunger they were grappling with and the constant
harassment by Zanu PF members was just
"All is not well, people are
starving, some live in fear of harassment by Zanu PF supporters. There is no
freedom at all," Moyo said.
celebrated its 23rd Independence anniversary amid allegations of rampant
human rights abuses against suspected opponents of
The country is
also facing a severe hunger with more than six million people in need of food
The situation has been worsened by
the government's chaotic land reform programme that has virtually destroyed
the commercial agriculture sector.
Commuter bus crews yesterday
largely ignored the new fares announced by the government saying it should
reduce the price of fuel, particularly petrol,
They said the government was using
them to subsidise commuters.
The new fares
announced on Wednesday night are $60 for a journey of up to 6km, $100 for
that between 6,1 km and 10 km, $200 for 10,1 km to 20km, and $300 for 21,1 km
to 35 km.
Commuter train fares
increased from $30 to $60 a single
Yesterday commuters complained
that operators had adopted a "take it or leave it" attitude as they refused
to reduce fares to the new levels.
Commuter bus operators doubled, and in some cases, trebled their fares when
the government increased fuel prices by up to 350
Andrew Kaverenga, a driver on the
City-Highlands route, said: "The price of petrol has not come down, yet the
government wants us to reduce fares. They should reduce the price of petrol
Oliver Muchemwa, a rank marshal at
the Rezende Street bus terminus, said: "Everyone is suffering. We sympathise
with the commuters because we also use commuter buses to go to our various
homes after work and pay the same fares. The government should reduce the
fuel prices first. That is where the problem
Lovemore Matombo, the ZCTU president,
said the labour body which called for the mass stayaway in the face of the
steep price increases, would continue to press for a reduction of fuel prices
despite the new lower fares.
"We do not
believe it will improve the workers' lot in any way. The amount workers spend
on transport is still quite high. They will still be forking out between 20
and 50 percent of their income.
costs should be below two percent of a worker's take-home pay. As long as
they remain above two percent we will continue to press for a reversal of the
fuel price increases," Matombo said.
Dzivaresekwa, Harare, yesterday, some bus crews reportedly dropped off
passengers at their pick-up points after they refused to pay the old fare of
$300. The new fare is $200.
reportedly ordered drivers to refund passengers who had been overcharged and
ticketed the offenders.
TOBACCO auction floors were
virtually deserted yesterday, as farmers joined the ZCTU-organised mass
stayaway, which started on Wednesday.
Auctioneers said most farmers, who had booked tobacco on the second day of
the marketing season, failed to deliver the
Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre
general manager Feisal Greenland said farmers were also experiencing problems
in sourcing fuel, while others were still reaping their
The grading of tobacco was
delayed because of poor rains, which inhibited plant
Greenland said: "We had a quiet
day and we only sold 100 bales during the second day of the season. About 2
000 bales had been booked for sale, but no deliveries were
The Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF),
which had booked 450 bales, sold
TSF general manager Giles
Watson said: "Volumes are still low, but there are indications that volumes
could pick up, as bookings for day three have increased to 1 000
Burley Marketing Zimbabwe managing
director Bruce Searls said a record 300 bales were offered for sale
yesterday. "Only 80 bales have been booked for sale for day three," Searls
While deliveries were lower than the
first day, prices remained firm ranging from US$2,39 a kilogramme (Z$1
912/kg) to US$2,50/kg (Z$2 000/kg).
Zimbabwe is expecting a flue-cured tobacco crop of between 110 million and
120 million kg, down from an output of 168 million kg last
The low production this year is
attributed to the chaotic land reform programme that has forced thousands of
commercial farmers off their land. About 500 000 farm workers lost their jobs
as a result of the farm invasions.
Tobacco normally contributes about 31 percent of Zimbabwe's foreign currency
HILDA Mafudze, the MP for Mhondoro
(MDC), has said Zimbabwe's electoral law is in dire need of reform to conform
to the aspirations of civic society.
Mafudze, who presenting a paper on the electoral systems in Zimbabwe and the
need for harmonisation of electoral processes at a three-day workshop held in
Vumba this week, said several aspects of the electoral law were in need of
"The Office of the
Registrar-General wields enormous powers. The RG has extensive powers,
functions and responsibilities in the general conducting, supervising and the
running of elections in Zimbabwe, which is undue," said
She said the RG's Office is part
of the civil service and cannot be independent of the government of the
"Employees of the State are amenable
to the illegitimate pressures exerted by the ruling
"There should, therefore, be
an independent electoral commission," the MP
Mafudze said the President has a
host of functions in relation to the electoral process, which makes him one
of the key institutions involved
"The President appoints
members of various commissions which, in turn, influences the extent of the
democratic process of running an election.
"The President has constitutional responsibilities of dissolving Parliament
and fixing election dates. The latter has been of concern as dates are
announced late causing confusion to political parties and their candidates,"
The right to vote should be
explicitly provided for in the Bill of Rights as it is vital in any vibrant
democracy, she said.
"The conduct of the
election process must be placed in the hands of an independent electoral
commission to remove suspicion of manipulation," Mafudze
She said there was also a need for
the establishment of a special electoral court to expediently deal with
election petitions challenging
The three-day workshop
was organised by the Centre for Peace Initiative in Africa
CPIA was established in February
2001 to promote peace, stability and security in Africa, through conflict
prevention, resolution, peace-building, post-conflict reconstruction and
It also seeks to
promote a culture of tolerance in the continent and to promote dialogue among
stakeholders, leading to political and
Heavily armed soldiers and
police reportedly forced all shops in Masvingo to open yesterday as 16 ZCTU
activists arrested in Bulawayo and Gweru on Wednesday were still being held
in police custody.
Most businesses in
Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Gweru remained closed for the second day as
workers continued to heed the ZCTU's call to embark on a three-day job
stayaway to protest against massive fuel price increases of up to 350 percent
imposed by the government last week.
Bulawayo nearly all the members of the ZCTU executive, and other officials,
were arrested on Wednesday.
Elias Mlotshwa, the ZCTU's second vice-president, Percy Mcijo, Albert Gwala,
Ambrose Manenji, Nkosi Dube, Nkoselwa Ncube, Reason Ngwenya, two men only
identified as Mpofu and Augustine, and a Mrs Mthunzi, a
Tawengwa Hara, their lawyer,
said the police appeared reluctant to take them to
He said: "If the situation remains
the same, I will have to apply to the High Court for their
Hara said his clients were being
charged under the Public Order and Security
There were no reports of violence as
uniformed police patrolled the city centre and the suburbs in twos and
Eight ZCTU activists arrested in
Gweru early on Wednesday morning were still detained at Gweru Central Police
Station yesterday, without
their lawyer, said: "The police have alleged that my clients telephoned
several companies in Gweru and ordered them to close for the duration of the
He said he had only been
allowed access to Lingiwe Masawi, Charles Chikozho, Angela Hofisi, Simon
Hamadziripi, Walter Masimure and
"The police have not yet formally charged them, and have not allowed me
access to the other two."
police were deployed in the city centre and residential areas as the stayaway
In Marondera, three senior
workers at Farm-a-Rama were arrested by the police and taken for
One of the officials, who
declined to be named, said: "We were asked why we were closed and we told
them our workers had not reported for work yesterday and today. They released
us after our lawyer asked what they were going to charge us
In Harare there was an increased
number of commuter omnibuses as operators appeared to yield to a threat by
the government that their permits would be cancelled if they did not resume
But most refused to charge the
new lower fares announced by the government on Wednesday night, saying it
should first reduce last week's fuel price
Most workers apparently came
into the city mostly to withdraw their salaries which are usually paid around
this time of the month.
formed at the major commercial banks' ATMs. Most of the banks were, however,
closed. The few operating ones, including the government's People's Own
Savings Bank, were letting in a few customers at a time, apparently as a
precaution against possible violence.
Mutare only government offices and a few businesses owned by Zanu PF
sympathisers were operating.
There was a
heavy presence of armed police in most parts of the city but no reports of
In Masvingo soldiers and the
police reportedly confronted several shop managers around the city and
ordered them to open for business.
harassed motorists at roadblocks, accusing them of supporting the industrial
A manager who refused to be named
said: "They even said they would offer me transport to go and collect all the
staff. Most of the shops that are open have done so under the instructions of
Most supermarkets and banks
operated with skeletal staff.
were on patrol in both the low and high density
No incidents of violence were
reported by yesterday afternoon.
THE MDC has sucked the government
into a new whirlpool of political confrontation -
For weeks, the MDC has been
flighting graphic adverts on the degeneration of the rule of law and
standards of living, reminding Zimbabweans that they are responsible for
their own destiny.
The party's adverts,
mostly in colour, entitled Action for National Survival, Change Demands
Action, have appeared in the independent media, highlighting the tribulations
faced by many Zimbabweans, especially those brutalised by government
The new slogan, Change Demands
Action, shows that the MDC, which was until recently, accused of not doing
enough to protest against the poor standards of living, has taken the lead in
trying to make the
In one advert,
topless women are portrayed under the heading: "The illegitimate regime is
brutalising innocent women. We salute millions of Zimbabwean women for their
courage and determination to fight the regime in these trying
In an apparent dismissal of claims
by the State that civilians were beaten up and made to have unprotected sex
by army deserters and not serving members of the army, the MDC rebuffed the
story through an advertisement.
headlined: Are we expected to believe that MDC sponsors army deserters and
hires trucks all to attack its own
The advertisement carried a
picture of an MDC stalwart, Paul Shambira, who had been mauled by armed men
wearing military fatigues and driving in army
The advertisement says: "Paul
Shambira, MDC Chitungwiza district secretary for information and publicity,
was brutally attacked by armed men in uniform in Chitungwiza last week. The
men were moving around the area in army
In another full-page
advertisement, the MDC has pictures of the leader of a church who was
bludgeoned while on his way from conducting a service. It was entitled:
Attacked on His Way From Church.
of worship is seriously under threat as pastors, bishops are attacked and
brutalised," read the caption.
a Christian country and reports of the harassment and physical abuse of the
men of cloth would have caused a lot of consternation among devout
The government, through the
Department of Information and Publicity, hit back with its own advertisements
in State media.
They are headlined: Lest
We Forget: Remember they Promised The Violence in their Mass Action. Time For
Action Against Mass Violence.
advertisement, the government accuses the MDC of being a violent party bent
on destroying the economy, based on statements made by its president, Morgan
"On September 30, 2000, the
beleaguered and now desperate leader of the British-sponsored MDC, which is
run by elements of Rhodesian Selous Scouts, foretold the violence of the
so-called Mass Action when he made the following chilling remarks at Rufaro
Stadium in Harare.
"What we want to tell
Mugabe today is that please go peacefully, if you don't want to go, we will
remove you violently."
advertisement headlined: Who's the next victim of their Mass Action?, the
government produced two pictures, one of a shop believed to have been
attacked during the 18 and 19 March Mass Action and another of a policeman,
Tarisai Matipira, who sustained serious burns after the Zupco bus in which he
was travelling was petrol-bombed.
government goes on to warn: "It could be you, your spouse or loved one, your
child, your relative or friend. Or your property if you are a black
indigenous person. It is quite clear that the British-sponsored MDC is now
employing dirty tactics of Rhodesian Selous Scouts specifically and
only targeting the masses and their leadership in the same way and with the
same brutality used by the British colonialists when they
disenfranchised, displaced, dislocated, dispossessed and dehumanised the
black majority in this country."
theme of portraying the opposition as a violent organisation is maintained on
another advertisement which says: "On March 18 and 19, terrorists, thugs and
lawless elements, using brutal tactics of Rhodesian Selous Scouts, conspired
with so-called civil society, opposition Press, self-proclaimed human rights
activists and some church groups to unleash violence and thuggery on ordinary
people under the guise of mass action."
Advertisements seem to be playing another role on the political front as
newspaper supplements on occasions like the recent Independence Holidays and
last year's messages to congratulate President Mugabe after he was announced
the winner of the presidential election would seem to
A full page colour advert in The
Herald costs $1,47 million and in The Daily News it goes for $66 524 per
In a story published by the
Zanu PF newspaper, The People's Voice, Cuthbert Dube, the chief executive
officer of the Premier Service Medical Aid Society announced that the society
was introducing a medical aid scheme to benefit new farmers. They would
benefit after making a one-off payment of $30 000 a
Some advertisements by the MDC have
touched the government's raw nerve. In one advert, the opposition lists the
names of intelligence operatives and police officers who are notorious for
beating up suspected members of the opposition. The MDC further implores
relatives of the culprits to urge them to stop the alleged
The move is reported to have
caused a lot of unease and panic among operatives as they now fear to be
Jonathan Moyo, the Minister of
State for Information and Publicity, realising the potential of the damage
that could be inflicted on the morale of the forces by the adverts, labelled
"Apart from breaking the
law, in terms of due process as well as civil and criminal procedure, the
outrageous advert is illegal.
represents a reckless intrusion upon the privacy of the named individuals
whose rights, reputation and integrity are as important as the rights,
reputation and integrity of any individual in our constitutional democracy,"
he told The Sunday Mail, a government
A defiant Paul Themba Nyathi,
the spokesman for the MDC declared: "Moyo complains about the publishing of
those names when it's clear that the solution lies in those people stopping
their torture of Zimbabweans.
stop the torture we won't publish their names. We shall continue to publish
their names if they continue with their activities. In fact, more names and
details of those officers are emerging and we shall publish them in due
Another advert that has been
causing a lot of unease in the corridors of power is the one which lists
tyrants and how they fled into exile, leaving their henchmen to face the
wrath of the people.
The advert warns: "If
you are supporting the dictatorship, in Zimbabwe today, it is important to
know that you will be left alone, to look after yourself and your family long
after the dictator has gone."
It goes on
to ask: "What role are you playing in sustaining and oiling the dictatorship,
denying basic freedoms to the people, brutalising villagers, workers and
innocent people in your community?
"Remember you will soon be alone, facing millions of angry people.
The dictator is certainly on his way
But President Mugabe has denied he
is a dictator, saying what the world takes for dictatorship is merely a stand
for the principles he believes in.
THE effect of a lack
of political and economic foresight, gross insensitivity to the white
commercial farmers, greed and corruption within the government all manifested
themselves at the tobacco auction floors which opened in Harare on
Very few farmers delivered
tobacco to the floors because very little tobacco was produced during the
last season. The opening prices were very favourable and, under normal
circumstances, would have pleased the farmers and firmed up the national
foreign currency reserves.
Mugabe's quest to cling to power by seizing fertile land from the white
farmers through his ill-conceived, haphazard land redistribution programme
dashed all hope for economic recovery.
tobacco industry has been the mainstay of the country's agro-based economy
for many years and Zimbabwe's high quality tobacco had only been rivalled by
that grown in Brazil.
As much as 40
percent of the country's foreign currency was earned from the sale of
flue-cured and burley tobacco, which earned the nickname, the golden
The destruction of the farming
sector has also resulted in thousands of farm workers losing their jobs,
bringing untold suffering among their families, some now reduced to
As the nation watches in disgust,
the Zanu PF leadership continues shamelessly to plunder what is left of the
once rich agricultural sector by grabbing fertile farms which they have no
clue how to use profitably.
nation that was once the breadbasket of the southern Africa region is
groaning from a self-inflicted sickness, on the death bed of hunger and
abject poverty, scrounging and scratching the bottom of dustbins for
something to sustain its dreary life.
allegedly spectacular victory in the milestone 19 April elections in Africa's
most populous country is already turning into a political millstone around
his neck, much as President Mugabe's 2002 victory has burdened his rule since
His opponent, also a former military
dictator, Muhammadu Buhari, has warned Obasanjo he could be toppled in a
military coup. Such is the disgust among Nigerians with the impunity with
which the poll was rigged.
Much like his
ally, Mugabe, did after his controversial re-election in 2002, Obasanjo has
ignored widespread reports of what Buhari called an election fraud "on a
scale that has never been witnessed in the history of criminality in
This is saying a lot,
considering Nigeria has been easily voted "the corruption capital of the
world" in many independent polls.
must be extremely disappointing to all proponents of the New Economic Plan
for Africa's Development (Nepad), of which Obasanjo was a prime mover, is
that in the most powerful country on the continent democracy has just
suffered an almost fatal hiccup.
can hardly lecture on democracy with authority and honesty to any other state
on the continent after his party so blatantly stole the election in his own
If he does not heed the calls for
a rerun of the polls, the chances are quite high that he could indeed be
overthrown in a military coup, the so-called "Nigerian way" of solving
intractable political problems.
that, who knows for how long the country will wait before it returns to
civilian rule? Obasanjo had an opportunity to make history by winning a free
and fair election run by an independent electoral commission, one not packed
with his own bootlickers, as is the Electoral Supervisory Commission in
But Obasanjo has been keeping
the wrong company for the four years that he has been a civilian president,
and the evidence is in the rigged election which may plunge his country into
another round of internecine blood-letting.
The Zimbabwe crisis does not need to
be described, as it has become obvious to all. So, to attempt to redefine it
would be a grave insult to the collective intelligence of the
I will, therefore, attempt to
depict 10 possible scenarios, which may obtain from the current situation,
which will enable Zimbabwe to pull herself from this
I will attempt to present a
number of scenarios and critically evaluate their practicality, worth and
The first option, of
course, is Organised Mass Action. This is the most talked about and least
practiced option. It looks to me the one in March called for by the MDC was
the only real success.
by the ZCTU and the National Constitutional Assembly have been massive flops
largely due to poor organisation, ill-conceived timing, lack of consultation
with relevant stakeholders, a culture of apathy and fear amongst the general
masses of the population and the existence of oppressive laws such as the
Public Order and Security Act and repressive State apparatus such as the
quasi-military units in the form of Zanu PF militia as well as a ruthless
police, intelligence and
The conditions are
ripe for such an action, but the nation does not seem sufficiently motivated
to resort to this option.
option is Spontaneous Mass Action - an option highly favoured by the MDC and
many other Zimbabweans. It does not place responsibility for action squarely
on the shoulders of an individual, party or institute, but relies on
somebody, somewhere in some fuel or bread queue saying enough is
Spontaneous mass action has
emerged as a favourite option for the following
reasons: It cannot be easily contained by the
brutal State security apparatus because it may start anywhere and spread
anywhere. It is difficult to pinpoint leaders
of such an action and to isolate or incarcerate
them. It is a demonstration of people, which
may appeal even to individuals in the State security apparatus as evidenced
in Romania and the former Yugoslavia. The
economic climate is ripe for such an action as evidenced by fuel queues and
food shortages. Food shortages have always been a trigger
The third option can be
labelled the Palace Coup.
supports the implosion scenario whereby the President, who has emerged as the
personification of the Zimbabwe crisis, is ousted by his own colleagues in
the ruling party. This option seemed to be an unfolding reality when he was
on holiday in Malaysia. This option can only work if the conspirators have
the support of the military and, therefore, are limited to those who have a
measure of influence in the military. This option appears to be quite
appealing for the following reasons:
Historically, even the most powerful of empire builders such as Julius Caesar
and Tshaka the Great were eliminated by those closest to them and not by
distant enemies. There is great pressure on
sections of Zanu PF for the displacement of the old
The fourth option is a Military
But this is an unlikely and
undesirable option as African history has proved that military takeovers have
resulted in military dictatorships. The perceived "saviours of the people"
may soon become ensconced in an eternal transition to civilian power, as was
the case with Ibrahim Babangida in Nigeria and Ghana's Jerry Rawlings who
later transformed himself into a civilian president albeit by democratic
Zimbabwe has suffered under a
one-man one-party dictatorship and a military takeover may be suicidal and
genocidal to the emergence of democracy in
This option should not be
encouraged, supported or celebrated by peace-loving
The fifth option is a rerun
of the presidential election through the courts. As long as conditions for an
election rerun remain the same, the ruling party will continue to use the
uneven playing field to continuously win elections by dubious means. But that
option should not be abandoned, as it will give the MDC the moral high ground
to challenge the legitimacy of the Zanu PF
The sixth option is to allow
things to disintegrate. There are many who argue that the current situation
is not sustainable and the government will inevitably collapse. Whilst this
is quite possible, probable and desirable, it may not be practical because it
appears like the ruling party is willing to hang on to power even if it means
ruling over skeletons.
It may also be
difficult to rebuild once the economic framework of the country collapses.
The verdict is, whilst the current situation is not sustainable, the rulers
of the land do not give a hoot and will hang on to power by hook, crook or
The seventh option is to wait for
the next elections. The parliamentary election is only two years away, but
the most crucial poll, the presidential election, is about five years away.
If the MDC chooses to quietly rebuild its effectiveness, credibility and
image, it may succeed in winning the parliamentary election. Indicators,
however, are that: Zanu PF will not sit idly
and watch the MDC grow. More MDC leaders will be arrested, detained and
tortured on trumped-up charges. Some could even be
killed. The MDC and other alternative voices
will be systematically silenced by current and prospective draconian laws
which will further erode the democratic
But the most reasonable and
practical route seems to be that of a negotiated
In this regard previously
stated strategies, such as mass action, could well be an effective means to
gaining leverage to negotiate a workable settlement for Zimbabwe. A
transitional authority would involve the setting up-of a transitional
government of national unity composed of both Zanu PF and the
A constitutional conference of all
stakeholders would then be convened to formulate a new democratic
constitution, which would be the framework of democratic elections in which
the parliamentary election would be held concurrently with the presidential
election. Dissolution of all quasi-military units and institutions such as
the militia, the national youth service and war vets and depoliticisation of
food aid would also be imperative.
government of national unity is unlikely. Such a government would involve
President Mugabe inviting the MDC to be a part of a government of national
unity which Mugabe has vowed he would never
The last option is to do nothing and
still expect something to happen. This is the option, which most Zimbabweans
are practicing at the moment and nothing will happen as long as nothing is
Dumisani S Nkomo is a political and