Soon after he succeeded the former Chief
Justice, forced out by threats of violence, Chidyausiku made his first two
appointments of High Court judges. Both were relatives
The fate of a
judiciary once renowned in the Commonwealth for its independence
In the Harare Magistrates' Court it has been decided to keep
the public toilets permanently locked rather than clean them. The floors of
the courthouse are thick with dust, the walls sticky with grime and the
only cheerful aspect to the building is the sparrows that flutter in and out
of the broken windows of the courtrooms. The High Court in Zimbabwe's
capital is no better. Recently Chris Andersen, an advocate, rose in D Court
to stop a draught coming through a door. The door fell off its hinges. Judges
and magistrates have to write evidence down verbatim, in longhand, because
tape recorders rarely work. The High Court photocopy machine - used to
print judgments for distribution in the legal profession - lay idle for
several months recently because the toner had run out. However, it is not
because of lazy caretakers that ten respected judges have left Zimbabwe's
superior courts in the past four years. In 2001, Zimbabwe's judiciary was one
of the most highly regarded in the Commonwealth, particularly for its
compassionate interpretation of constitutional rights. In that year, Robert
Mugabe appointed as Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, a key figure in his
"war cabinet", to silence the growing demand for political change and
greater liberty. Since then, the judges have undergone an onslaught of
unrelenting intimidation, harassment and blatant attempts at bribery. It has
worked, and driven out nearly all the judges who maintained their
independence and entrenched a largely corrupt or pliant bench.
public has lost faith in the judiciary," Jacob Mafume, a board member of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, says. "It is becoming an
irrelevant factor. The judiciary is contributing to its own sidelining. There
are certain judges trying against all odds to ensure that justice is
delivered, but their work is overshadowed by the decay in the system." Last
month, Judge Michael Majuru, in a statement issued in South Africa to where
he had fled in January, gave the first detailed public account of how
Chinamasa deals with judges. Late last year, the minister got another judge
to urge Judge Majuru to deliver a judgment to keep closed the independent
Daily News, the country's most popular newspaper; a ruling party
businessman offered the judge a state-seized farm; then Chinamasa telephoned
Judge Majuru personally to threaten and abuse him. Finally, the judge
was subjected to an outrageous smear in the State press and recused himself.
The judge who took over the case received death threats. Chinamasa is known
to have telephoned and visited several other judges to demand rulings in
the State's favour. In all the known cases he has been rebuffed. He has
also presided over the only arrests of judges - Fergus Blackie in 2002 and
Ben Paradza last year - in the country's history. Judge Blackie was
acquitted and Judge Paradza's challenge is jammed in the Supreme Court.
"Nearly every one of the resignations of the judges are forced removals, "
Mafume says. "It has created an element of fear in the
Judges believe their telephones are tapped. Several judges'
clerks have also been arrested. About six magistrates have been assaulted by,
or had to flee from, ruling party militias. In February a magistrate and
state prosecutor were arrested because they granted bail to a suspect in a
corruption case. For those judges who do not resist the Government, life is
rather different. Most of the 21 High and Supreme Court judges occupy
white-owned farms illegally issued to them by the State. The Government is
distributing 4X4 vehicles among them for use on "their" farms. Godfrey
Chidyausiku, the Chief Justice, also has a large property in Harare that an
official inquiry said he had acquired "corruptly". Soon after he succeeded
Anthony Gubbay, the former Chief Justice, who was forced out by threats of
violence in 2001, Chidyausiku made his first two appointments of High Court
judges. Both were relatives. Under him, the Supreme Court has carried out
Mugabe's strategy of silencing criticism and stamping on human rights. It has
blocked the release of an official report on the massacre of about 20,000
civilians in western Zimbabwe, opened the way for the banning of The Daily
News, confirmed the closure of another, The Tribune, legalised the seizure of
white-owned land, banned an independent radio station from broadcasting and
last year gave Judith Todd, the Zimbabwean-born daughter of the former
liberal Rhodesian Prime Minister, Garfield Todd, 48 hours to reclaim her
cancelled citizenship when she was out of the country and unable to return in
time to do it.
Where they don't rule for the Government, they don't rule
at all. In 2000, shortly after the parliamentary vote won narrowly by
Mugabe's Zanu PF, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change filed
petitions against results in 38 constituencies. About two thirds have been
heard in the High Court. It appears almost certain that by the time the next
parliamentary elections are held in March next year, the Supreme Court will
not have heard a single appeal in any of the petitions in nearly five years.
Delays in both courts are "endemic", the International Bar Association said
in a statement last week: "It is no longer unusual for litigants to wait for
more than six months for a judgment that does not involve complex issues."
More complex or politically sensitive cases can take a year from set down to
judgment. Ben Hlatshwayo, a High Court judge, whose occupation of one of the
country's biggest grain-producing farms has turned it into a peasant squat,
has the most extraordinary record. According to senior legal sources, reviews
of magistrates' court rulings have been gathering dust in his office for
the past year. "He has 700 piling up there," one source said.
Before presidential elections in 2002 he was given 300 affidavits of appeals
by voters, mostly whites, who had been deprived of their citizenship
and thereby, their vote. They were meant to be heard before the poll. "They
are all still on his file," the source said. It is all on the record for
when change comes, Mafume says. "The judiciary has to be accountable. We
will call into account the judiciary to see whether justice has been
applied. Remember in Kenya after Daniel arap Moi lost elections? Nineteen
judges were dismissed."
Zimbabwe Government Bans Most Rallies by Opposition Party Peta
Thornycroft Harare 17 Aug 2004, 18:07 UTC
As campaigning gets
under way for parliamentary elections scheduled for next March, Zimbabwe's
main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, complains that its
political activities are severely restricted because most of its rallies have
been banned. Four out of five election rallies called by the MDC over the
past three weeks were banned, according to the MDC election directorate in
The MDC says information is coming in from remote rural areas,
particularly in southeast Zimbabwe near the Mozambique border, of violence
against people who attended its rallies last month.
officer Maxwell Zimuto said Tuesday that in one such district, Makoni East,
the party's 12-man executive has been forced to leave the area, and is in
He said out of 17 scheduled rallies over the last three weekends,
14 were banned. He said one was disrupted by thugs.
opposition rally at the weekend went off without a hitch. It was in central
Zimbabwe and was addressed by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Public Order and Security Act, which became law shortly before
the controversial presidential elections of 2002, organizers have to
obtain written police permission to hold public meetings. Under the law,
anyone who attends a meeting which has not been sanctioned can be arrested
and sent to prison for up to one year.
MDC economics secretary Tendai
Biti, who is also a leading Harare lawyer, said he obtained permission to
hold a rally in a semi-industrial area in Harare on Sunday.
said police withdrew permission as a crowd began gathering and armed riot
police moved onto the large field.
However, police superintendent Oliver
Mandikapa said Tuesday he had no information whatsoever about any MDC rallies
which had been banned or interrupted.
Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa, who is presently drafting amendments to electoral laws ahead of
the March election, was unavailable for comment Tuesday, as was ruling party
spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira.
PRESIDENT TSVANGIRAI'S TUESDAY MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF
Although estimates vary, I believe there is between three and
four million Zimbabweans in exile today, half of our active, voting
population. Most of them are experts in various fields, are under 40 years of
age and follow the economic, social and political trends in our country
Zimbabwe is arguably one of the few countries with such a
large percentage of its active population in such a desperate situation
because economic insecurity at home.
This is a national emergency. The
number of people in exile for wrong reasons is too high for a developing
country like Zimbabwe. It has a deep social effect on the family. Without
strong, well-knit communities - underpinned by family stability - Zimbabwe
cannot claim to be a nation in unity. In colonial Rhodesia, the regime then
forcibly separated families between urban and rural areas. The consequences
and the results were disastrous: disease, prostitution, infidelity, marriage
break-ups and social decay.
I know how difficult it is to be denied by
poverty and intolerance a chance to live with your loved ones for a long
time. Many of you miss your childhood friends; many are unable to come back,
even to bury your dear departed; many feel the strain of leading separate
lives from your husbands, from your wives and from your children.
MDC understands your plight. The MDC seeks to correct the current social and
community disintegration that has hit our beloved nation. The MDC wants all
of you to come back and be with your families in a free and
We know you are there. We know the pressures on
you, your fears, your anxieties, the emotions and your feelings about coming
home. Many do more than one job at a time - mostly menial, degrading work
despite your impressive academic credentials and professional qualifications.
The regime' s official position is that what you are doing is a sign of lack
of patriotism, and therefore unnecessary. The regime says come home and
queue for pieces of land!
The so-called Diaspora is a new, man-made
phenomenon in Zimbabwe. In fact, during the first 10 years of our
independence it was uncharacteristic of Zimbabweans to seek refuge, let alone
economic refuge anywhere in the world. People pooled their resources and
trekked into Botswana and South Africa to buy used cars and other essential
trinkets to decorate their own homes, not to settle in these
The few who sought political sanctuary were forced to do so by
the unsavoury political goings-on in Matabeleland - a matter which continues
to cry out for a permanent resolution 24 years after independence. What has
since happened during the past five years represents a serious indictment on
a regime that claims to be a nationalistic force keen to extend
basic freedoms, including the right to meaningful and rewarding work, to
With unemployment hovering over 80 percent, it is
inevitable that such a large portion of the nation's elite and the nation's
prime intellectual minds decide to risk life and limb, either across the
Limpopo or by claiming fear from deaths if they have to remain within our
The MDC is inundated with requests for help to live
the country from our young people. We are generally unable to assist because
we do not have the necessary wherewithal to do so or the desire to empty
Zimbabwe of the relevant person-power to assist in effecting fundamental
changes to our political landscape.
You, the so-called exiles, have
kept this country running, in many ways. You support the dwindling incomes of
your families and have supplemented foreign currency inflows in a place where
traditional currency generators have been deliberately allowed to
Gideon Gono, the excited Reserve Bank governor realized the
contribution of our expatriates when he assumed office in December. He then
sought to harness those earnings and manage them on behalf of the Zanu PF
regime. He created a facility which he named Homelink, for a bureaucratic
handling of these paltry earnings.
Gono sent a huge delegation of nine
people, excluding himself, yes, nine people, to canvass Zimbabweans all over
the world to send foreign currency home, as if anybody ever needed Gono's
bidding to support their families back in Zimbabwe.
The size of the
delegation baffled all of you, especially those in the US, in Britain and in
South Africa. What could have worried you most was the expense to Zimbabwe
of sending such a huge delegation merely to distribute Homelink pamphlets for
Gono realised that he was unable to go after investment funds
from real investors in these countries. He opted instead to persuade
yourselves, the desperadoes, to release the pittances you earn from your
multiple and highly demanding chores. There seems to be an erroneous feeling,
sadly within the Reserve Bank, that you are swimming in cash.
believes Zimbabweans must never contemplate being part of what has become
known as the African Diaspora. We are a social liberation force, representing
a post colonial political formation whose main thrust is the extension of
freedom, economic emancipation and progress.
We came into existence
because of the denial by our nationalists to pursue the ideals of the
liberation struggle: freedom, equal opportunities, a non-racial society, one
person one vote, an anti-corruption crusade and genuine national development,
not idleness, political patronage and political sycophancy.
our professionals and other nationals be subjected to debasing experiences
when our country is so rich in natural resources and has the potential for
limitless opportunities for personal advancement?
Why must we allow the
graduates we train and invest in and other professionals to hang their
professional boots and become trainee cleaners, care-givers, taxi drivers and
gardeners in foreign lands? These people, alas three to four million, have a
responsibility to design a Zimbabwe of their choice, to map their own destiny
and to make anybody presiding over their political life accountable for his
or her actions.
The solution is political. Unless you allow your people
access to unfettered liberty, to other characteristics of democracy, to enjoy
the freedom of the individual - including freedom to criticise any sitting
regime - and the opportunity to change any regime without worrying about
being jailed, followed by men in dark glasses or being murdered, the country
will continue to experience political and economic stress.
a superb opportunity, now that he has the dictator's ear. He should have come
back from his Western safari with a bold message that Zimbabweans abroad are
not interested in Homelink. You want Votelink. You must be allowed to vote.
You need basic political rights at home. You need your freedom.
could have informed the dictator that the number out there is so huge that it
is important to address their political questions early before they declare
that enough is enough. The millions in exile pose a serious security threat.
Their continued denial of the vote will, one day, force them to organise for
political alternatives to open up the democratic space at home.
planned and forecast a period of intense reconstruction immediately after
assuming power. Those who have been away from home may not be aware of the
extent of the destruction of our country. Almost all sectors are
heavily depressed. Rural businesses, services and the weak have collapsed
from the weight of Mugabe's war against our people.
agriculture is history. Only four, out of our 12 public hospitals remain
marginally functional, dispensing at the most pain-killers, even to serious
accident victims and pregnant mothers. You may not be aware that our normal
ambulance fleet is down. Patients are brought to hospitals by ox-drawn carts;
an invention the regime says is major success.
With good governance, we
are a nation with the capacity to absorb all its nationals into meaningful
productive units and even require expatriates from all over the world. The
basic infrastructure in this country is sufficient to enable us to take off
and expand our development agenda. Our economic programme, RESTART, values
the contribution of Zimbabweans first. Although we shall need balance of
payments support at the beginning, the challenge to pick up the pieces rests
with all of us.
We are already focussing our attention on life after
Mugabe, with comprehensive programmes for millions of young people, in order
to avoid social and political instability in future. My message to all
outside Zimbabwe today is that you must gain as much from your forays out
there, soak in whatever experiences come your way, in preparation for a
much demanding responsibility at home tomorrow.
We need your
experience, your international exposure, your resourcefulness and your broad
political awareness. Your exposure to freedom, to situations of choice, to
tolerant societies and to advancement shall be put to national use in a
climate of dignity, respect for your person and ability to vote out anyone
trying to effect a repeat of our harrowing past.
Prepare yourselves for
the immense challenges ahead, including a variety of leadership roles. What
we seek to do is give the leadership, the political direction and an enabling
climate for all to thrive. With RESTART, we shall offer all a new beginning
in a new direction.
RESTART is a holistic programme whose success shall
depend on a multi-faceted attack on the current political, economic and
social ills brought about by tyranny, greed and corruption. We are guided by
the values of the MDC: peace, freedom, justice and solidarity. We are
flexible, taking into account the sad realities on the ground. We offer a
diagnosis and prescription for long term recovery and growth.
country has experienced continuous negative growth rates for six
years. Massive devaluation of commerce and industry and a subjective, chaotic
land policy have left millions of people jobless, homeless and hungry.
Any visitor coming into Zimbabwe today would be excused to assume that we are
a nation at war. The regime has turned its fight for survival onto the
people, creating a social crisis leading to the collapse of transport,
education and health delivery systems. The HIV/Aids pandemic rests at the top
of this massive humanitarian emergency.
On our part, we are continuing
to execute the mandate you gave us: fighting for change. We managed to get
access into Bikita on Friday, met with party structures and left all in a
state of election preparedness. On Saturday, we proceeded to Zvishavane for a
similar assignment. Yesterday, I was at Chiwundura and Maboleni in Gweru
Despite a few hiccups arising from police confusion
in all these meetings, the people on the ground remain steadfast in their
resolve to end the Zimbabwean crisis, through a legitimate
Do you remember that call? I think the first time I
heard it was in 1949 when as a 9 year old boy, I stood at the fence of my
school as hundreds of trade union members marched past under the watchful eye
of the Army and Police. It was the start of a 30-year struggle for the right
to vote, which was to be the main focus of the nationalist's
The struggle for human and social rights in southern Africa
started and finished with the call for a universal franchise that would allow
black citizens to choose the leadership they wanted and in whose hands they
could trust their future.
In 1980 an election was held on a universal
franchise basis - all we had to do to vote was to produce our ID and proof of
residence. It was our first election under a universal franchise and the
result was that Zanu won a clear victory.
Today, the same group that
came to power through that historic vote in 1980 is still in power and is
doing all that it can to prevent an election under a universal franchise.
This is one of the worst examples of a peoples movement based on democratic
principles being hijacked by a small oligarchy which wants to hold onto power
and to continue to enrich itself at all costs.
What have they done to
restrict democratic space in recent years? The Mugabe regime has done the
following to restrict the right of the Zimbabwe people to choose their own
leadership since 1980: -
1. They have subverted the right of citizenship
for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans under a variety of pretexts. 2.
They have denied millions the right to vote because they no longer live here
and are economic and political refugees in other countries. 3. They have
subverted the electoral roll, manipulating it to meet their own needs and
making the whole process of getting registered to vote a task that daunts all
but the most determined. 4. They have closed down access to the media in such
a way that today 90 per cent of the information that is reaching the Zimbabwe
population is tightly controlled and directed by the ruling clique. 5.
They have completely subverted the right of Zimbabweans to meet and gather to
discuss the affairs of the country. All political activity is now supervised
and controlled by the State. 6. They have taken full operational control of
the electoral process itself and are using the States own machinery to ensure
that the vote is manipulated in such a way as to produce the desired
electoral outcome. This involves ballot stuffing, double voting and the use
of some 2 million dead peoples names on the voters roll to generate votes
that otherwise would not exist. 7. They are gerrymandering the electoral
boundaries, the distribution of ballot stations and counting centers so that
it is almost impossible for civil society or opposition parties to monitor
and supervise the process. 8. They have severely curtailed the ability of all
civil society and opposition parties to raise money to run their operations
effectively while at the same time using State resources unashamedly for
party political purposes. 9. They have used militia in various forms to
suppress all opposition activity and are using violence and intimidation on a
massive scale. 10. They are using the courts to subvert the due process of
the law and to deny people their constitutional rights as well as an
instrument of intimidation and control. 11. They use patronage to restrict
support for the opposition and to encourage support for the ruling
clique. 12. They use food as a political weapon - especially in rural areas
with a poor subsistence majority.
Under these conditions it is
understandable that people in Zimbabwe now seriously doubt the ability of the
electoral system to bring change in the way they are governed. There are many
who argue that it is better to try and work with the regime and to try and
limit its excesses or those who simply do so to maximize their own returns
from the process.
For democracy to work it must have as its foundations
the great freedoms entrenched in the universal declaration of human rights -
freedom of speech and association, the rule of law and equality before the
law, security of ones person and assets and freedom from coercion and
violence. In addition, democracy must be as inclusive as possible - all those
who are affected by the decisions of the State should have the right to vote
for those who control the State. Democracy must respect, as sacrosanct, the
right of a people to register to vote and then to vote under conditions of
secrecy and in confidence that their votes will be counted and used to
determine a democratic outcome.
Any other process is not democracy -
it is a subversion of democratic principles and if not checked will
eventually lead to violence and despair as people choose other means to
effect change. When African leaders question the validity of democratic
practices in Africa, they are in fact denying their people the right to
determine their own future. Such a denial devalues the rights of every
individual, discourages enterprise and participation and fosters the
entrenched positions of those who seek to exploit their societies to their
own gain and to the detriment of everyone else.
Right now the leaders of
the SADC region are locked in debate behind closed doors in Mauritius - they
are debating the SADC norms for democratic elections in the region. They are
also discussing what to do about Zimbabwe's continued violation of those
norms and how to get Mugabe and his colleagues to conform to the agreed
standards. Mugabe knows that his survival is at stake, he knows full well
that if he concedes conditions for a free and fair election, the likelihood
is that his Party, Zanu PF would be wiped out at the polls. This could be a
watershed moment for all of us and for democracy in Africa.
ZIMBABWE: Urban residents battle with rising prices
[ This report
does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
JOHANNESBURG, 17 Aug 2004 (IRIN) - Urban Zimbabweans
battling with escalating prices are finding that more and more food
essentials are beyond their reach.
"Malnutrition levels among the
elderly and children are very high in the urban centres. A loaf of bread
costs about Zim $3,500 (US 60 cents), which most ordinary Zimbabweans cannot
afford to buy every day. The lowest paid Zimbabwean earns Zim $150,000 (about
US $27)," said Fambai Ngirande, spokesperson for the National Association of
Although food items were readily
available in the urban markets, few ordinary Zimbabweans could afford to buy
them, he said.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's latest monthly
expenditure survey showed that the price of maize meal in urban markets had
increased by 44 percent within a month.
In previous years, urban
Zimbabweans faced with escalating prices would source cereals and other food
items from rural areas as a "coping mechanism, but this time there is no food
in the rural areas too," Ngirande said. To enforce the monopoly of the Grain
Marketing Board, roadblocks prevented maize privately acquired in the
countryside from being transported to towns.
The council reported that a
monthly expenditure basket for a low-income urban household of six stood at
more than Zim $1 million (about US $178.00) in June, up by 7 percent from
their May survey, and about 436 percent more than in June last
Between May and June this year, the price of maize meal went up by
44 percent, sugar by 21 percent, tea 14 percent and flour 12 percent. "A
meal of potatoes, which is cheaper than bread, will cost a family of four
Zim $3,000 (about US 50 cents)," Ngirande said.
The Famine Early
Warning System Network (FEWS-NET) said in its monthly food security update on
Zimbabwe that over the past 12 months "rentals for shelter have increased by
400 percent and a significant number of poor households have been priced out
of the market - they have been pushed to illegal settlements around the
cities and towns."
The annual food inflation reported by Zimbabwe's
Central Statistics Office stood at 430.6 percent in June, dropping by 51.2
percent from the May rate of 481.8 percent.
ZIMBABWE: Porta Farm residents condemn eviction order
[ This report
does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
17 Aug 2004 (IRIN) - Some residents of Porta Farm, an informal settlement on
the outskirts of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, have threatened to defy a
government order to move, saying they have nowhere else to stay.
government had given the 10,000-strong community until 15 August to move, to
make way for the construction of a sewerage plant. When IRIN visited this
week, some people were still packing their belongings, heading off to stay
with relatives. Others, however, vowed to stay put in a settlement which has
been under threat throughout its existence.
"We were shocked by the
government's move to evict us and build a sewage system here ... We've been
here for 14 years," community leader Prince Nyathi told IRIN.
of Local Government Ignatius Chombo had promised that the settlers would be
re-located to a government farm. But no transport has as yet arrived, and
most of the people IRIN spoke to were pessimistic that there would be any
facilities at the new location.
"How can the government take us to a land
where there is no toilets and water?" asked one resident, who said he
intended to resist eviction.
Tendai Maroto feared that her two children
might fail to take their final exanimations in October if they were
resettled. "My children registered to write their examinations here, now
where will they write the exams from?" Moroto asked as she packed her
Porta Farm, a 30-minute drive from the Harare city centre,
has been home to some of Zimbabwe's poorest and most vulnerable citizens
since 1991. It was meant to have been a temporary settlement to accommodate
the homeless cleared out of the capital when Queen Elizabeth II visited to
open the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government
Designated a "temporary holding camp", it has retained an air
of impermanence, with lack of official recognition compounding the
poverty. Narrow dirt lanes run between homes made from mud brick and
plastic sheeting. The population has just three NGO-run pre-schools, and a
log-built primary and secondary school, with no health facilities or
What money there is in the community comes mainly from
illegal fishing in the nearby reservoir and the sale of firewood. Some of the
residents used to find occasional work on the commercial farms in the area,
but those opportunities have dwindled with land redistribution, where a new
class of resettled farmers are themselves struggling to make a success of
Peter James, aged 60, said the government's eviction
order would worsen the plight of Porta Farm's residents. "The majority of us
have been employed in businesses around Lake Chivero. The unemployed ones
were surviving on fishing, so moving us will be taking away our
Secretary of the residents committee, Lister Makoni, said the
authorities were treating them as outlaws, after threatening that the army
and police would be used if the community failed to vacate the farm by last
"Our argument is that we cannot move from here into the
wilderness, until and unless the government gives us a credible promise that
we are going to find the relevant infrastructure that we have been using
here," said Makoni.
Thirteen Southern African leaders have approved a new regional
charter on free and fair elections that specifies how they should be
conducted to guarantee democracy, officials said on Tuesday.
summit on the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, all the heads of state
and government from across the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
region, which includes Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
gave their blessing to the charter.
They also promoted Madagascar, the
large island nation off Africa's south-east coast, to full SADC member
status, but the decision to upgrade its membership will take effect only next
At the start of the summit on Monday, Mauritian Prime Minister Paul
Berenger became the new SADC chairperson and stressed the importance of the
charter, making a direct reference to Zimbabwe, whose President Robert Mugabe
"With free and fair elections due in Zimbabwe at the
beginning of next year, we can already start preparing for the normalisation
of relations between [the] SADC, the European Union and the United States of
America," he said.
The Mauritian leader had already explained the
charter, saying that "really free and fair elections mean not only an
independent electoral commission but also include freedom of assembly and
absence of physical harassment by the police or another entity, freedom of
the press and access to national radio and television, and external and
credible observation of the whole electoral process".
on Tuesday that the leaders gathered in the town of Grande-Baie had dealt
with almost all the issues on the agenda during the first day of proceedings,
leaving such matters as listening to and approving a new SADC anthem for
Before the decision on Madagascar, the SADC comprised 13
countries representing at least 212-million people -- Angola, Botswana, the
DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa,
Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It was initially set up in
1979 by countries determined to form a joint economic and political front
against South Africa's apartheid regime of the time, but the advent of
democracy in South Africa led to its membership, after that of newly
independent Namibia and before the vast DRC. -- Sapa-AFP
South Africa and the rest
of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has once again failed to
stand up for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe by siding with President
Robert Mugabe's government, South African official opposition leader Tony
Leon said in a statement on Tuesday.
Responding to statements by regional
heads of state attending an SADC leaders' summit in Mauritius, Leon said the
SADC has acted "against the Zimbabwean people".
Leon, leader of the
Democratic Alliance, said the SADC meeting "presented the perfect opportunity
for SADC leaders to discuss the report of the African Commission on Human and
People's Rights on Zimbabwe, which was presented at the third ordinary
session of the African Union in Addis Ababa last month and which the
Zimbabwean government has now had ample time to study".
leaders outdid each other in heaping praises on Mugabe's government," Leon
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa launched a stinging attack on
Western nations when he stated that "we are tired of being lectured on
democracy by the very countries which, under colonialism, either directly
denied us the rights of free citizens, or were indifferent in our suffering
and yearnings to break free and be democratic".
While South African
President Thabo Mbeki's views on Zimbabwe were not reported, Leon said: "The
silence of the South African government is particularly disappointing, given
that South Africa is the current chair of the SADC's Organ on Politics,
Defence and Security."
One of the objectives of the organ is to "promote
and enhance the development of democratic institutions and practices within
member states, and to encourage the observance of universal human rights as
provided for in the charters and conventions of the Organisation of African
Unity and the United Nations".
Leon said that by failing to deal with
the Zimbabwean government's destruction of democracy and its human rights
abuses, South Africa is failing to carry out its
SADC leaders such as Mkapa are mistaken if they believe
the crisis in Zimbabwe is fundamentally about land and not about Mugabe's
determination to retain power.
"They are also mistaken if they believe
that criticism of the Zimbabwean government is being directed by former
colonial powers and not by the Zimbabwean people themselves.
willingness of SADC leaders to give credence to conspiracy theories, and to
ignore the obvious causes for Zimbabwe's economic and humanitarian crisis, is
a severe blow to the credibility of [the] SADC and reflects poorly on the
leadership of its member states," Leon said. -- I-Net Bridge
Grande Baie, Mauritius -
Southern African leaders have rounded on Western powers, backing Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe and saying Africans are tired of being preached to by
countries that denied them democratic rights under colonial
Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms and his contested
re-election in 2002 are a major focus of a Southern African Development
Community (SADC) summit that opened on Monday.
President Benjamin Mkapa launched a stinging attack on Western countries
pressing the SADC to ensure there was democratic rule.
tired of being lectured on democracy by the very countries which, under
colonialism, directly denied us the rights of free citizens or were
indifferent to our suffering and yearnings to break free and be democratic,"
Mkapa said at the summit's opening ceremony.
He said the region
should develop electoral laws in line with its political, social and cultural
The summit aims to adopt common electoral rules across
the SADC region. The proposals were not directed at any one country, Mkapa
said, referring to media reports that they were intended to bring Mugabe
"In democracy, as in all other things, no one size
fits all," he said. "Multiparty democracy and... elections must never be a
cover for the destabilisation of our countries."
speaking after Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, chairperson of the
SADC's key politics, defence and security body, painted a glowing picture of
progress towards democracy: "I am happy to report that democracy is not just
well, but is thriving."
Analysts say SADC leaders are
unlikely to break ranks Mauritian Prime Minister and new SADC
chairperson Paul Berenger praised Mugabe and said Zimbabwe's polls next year
would be free and fair.
Mkapa said the SADC had agreed earlier this
year to establish a technical committee to advise on land reform, which was
crucial to development.
"Let the SADC speak with one voice and
let the outside world understand, that to us Africans land is much more than
a factor of production - we are spiritually anchored in the lands of our
ancestors," he said.
"Time has passed. We forgive those who did
this to our ancestors, but now we are in power, we cannot run away from our
historical duty to set right these historical wrongs."
must be fair "to help new landowners become productive in the quickest way
possible, on lands (to) which they have secure ... rights".
Analysts say SADC leaders are unlikely to break ranks and will maintain their
traditional public approval of Mugabe.
Illegal cross border gun smuggling rife in Limpopo
Illegal guns are entering South Africa as Zimbabwe slides
into turmoil and refugees from that country stream across our northern
border, more and more.
This follows an SABC investigation into illegal
gun running in the Limpopo province during which the team tried to determine
how easy it is to buy an illegal fire-arm. Tens of thousand of illegal
immigrants are entering South Africa. Most of them desperate. Others are
believed to be bringing guns into the country to sell for food.
Joubert of the police serious and violent crime unit, says many of
the culprits are former soldiers and now unemployed and in order to
support their families the sell guns.
Three weeks ago, the SABC team
was offered about 15 guns for sale from gun runners and syndicates from both
Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Prices ranged from R 500 to R 1 500. Police says the
arms are trickling in, because people are moving in and South Africa appears
to be a place of hope.
Several chiefs in the area have reportedly come
across Zimbabwean refugees with AK-47 assault rifles that they are trying to
sell in South Africa. The SABC team also travelled to Mozambique where an
AK-47 assault rifle with a full magazine costs a mere R500. It's been more
than 12 years since the civil war ended and guns are still freely available
and transported by gun smugglers to South Africa.
Assignment tonight on SABC3 at 21:30 for the full story on gun running in the
Gauging Zimbabwe's mood Last updated: 08/17/2004
18:47:11 IT MAY be presumptuous of me to venture to "read" the mood of a
country, but that is precisely what I am going to attempt to
Several times over the last several years a great many Zimbabweans
who desire significant political and other change have had something to
look forward to on the horizon. There was a hopeful "things will get better
after the constitutional referendum/presidential or general
election/cabinet reshuffle," etc. All these events came and went but of
course none of them brought about the kind of positive change many
Zimbabweans would like to see in the way their country is being
One thing that is different about today's Zimbabwean "mood" from
that of say four years ago, is that there no longer is any illusion that
there is some event around the corner that is suddenly going to change the
fortunes of Zimbabwe for the better. The next general elections are just
months away but there is not the same excited expectation about their
prospect to usher in significant reform as there was about those of
The ruling ZANU-PF government is alert to public disaffection with
it and the threat of the MDC like never before. In response, they are pulling
out all the stops to make sure the opposition party does not embarrass it
the way it did the last time, when it won almost half the seats in
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's trial on thin treason charges
should have been wound up with a verdict recently, but it was deferred
indefinitely. This kind of legal limbo, just enough to keep an opponent off
their balance, has become a stock in trade of Mugabe's government.
the signs are that a combination of bribery and strong arm tactics will be
used to keep any of the rural electorate that might gravitate towards
the opposition in line. Chiefs have been promised big increases in their
pay packages and cars. They will not need to be explicitly told who
to "persuade" their subjects to vote for! Particularly in arid areas
like Matabeleland, food handouts will be used cleverly to influence the vote.
The government has made a big deal in public about electoral reforms, but
in practice whether this will translate to a more free and fair campaigning
and voting environment remains very doubtful given the lessons of
From the president on down, coded language to
incite ruling party followers to use strong arm tactics against opposition
supporters without any fear of prosecution for all but the most blatant and
public violations of citizens' rights will continue. And naturally, whatever
nature of the "reforms" that are being talked about, they will not extend to
changing the torrent of hate-filled, one-sided propaganda against
ZANU-PF/Mugabe opponents that spews from the state media. If it sounds like I
am cynical about most initiatives of the Mugabe government, I plead guilty, I
Given the foregoing that is understood by the generality of
Zimbabweans, there is none of the previous general elections' sense of
excitement. All the above, coupled with the MDC's own often uninspiring
performance at winning hearts and minds even given the repressive
environment, have led to a "so what?" mood about the election. There is far
more excitement offered by the prospect of a lot of dirty contests between
top officials within ZANU-PF for the chance to stand for particular
constituencies than there is about a real fair fight between the two
"Despite the repression against the MDC, there
remains a huge reservoir of good will and support for it" CHIDO
MAKUNIKE This is not to say that the MDC is a spent force. Far from it.
Despite the repression against it, there remains a huge reservoir of good
will and support for it, including in many rural areas that are claimed to be
ZANU-PF strongholds but that have never been allowed a fair enough
campaigning and voting environment to test the true relative measure of
support for the two main parties. At the same time, many of the party's
officials have been revealed by time to be nothing more than political
chancers of no firm conviction about anything. Many of these who hoped to get
onto the public gravy train on the coat-tails of the wide public disaffection
with the ruling party at the last election. A lot of these fly by night
politicians in the opposition's ranks will be deposed by an unimpressed
public, though in some cases by new players within their ranks, not
necesarily by ruling party politicans.
Inflation has definitely
fallen. Not just in terms of the official figures, whose accuracy is
controversial, but also in ways clearly apparent to the average person.
Prices are certainly not going through the roof like was the case last year,
but they are "stabilising" at high levels still way beyond the means of most
working stiffs to comfortably keep up with. While there may not be any
positive improvement to talk about, the pace of deterioration, at least as
regards prices, has slowed.
This has not been the boon to the government
that it may have hoped, despite inevitable attempts to harness this into
political capital. The average person is still so battered by economic
difficulties from all angles that their very slight easing cannot be expected
to result in outpourings of gratitude to the same politicians who are blamed
by many for causing their hardships in the first place.
the economic front, there is no general mood of optimism about the near
future. One hears of one or another scheme to try to stimulate various
sectors of the economy, but they are neither delivered nor received with much
conviction or hope. The small proportion of serious farmers amongst the
"third chimurenga" recipients of previously white-held farmland continue to
battle against all sorts of odds. Inexperience, lack of working and other
capital, uneconomic bank interest rates, the continuing uncertainties
surrounding the whole method of land redistribution are just some of
One hears of a few new farmers with the access to capital and
the seriousness of purpose beginning to raise their heads above the crowd
of most of their peers, but they are still too small in number and size
of operations for this to yet be economically significant. Farming ain't
no picnic, but shhh, don't tell that to the many armchair revolutionaries
and uncritical admirers of Mugabe! To many of them whether re-possessed land
is used economically productively or not is really a side issue. If we now
have vaster streches of weeds and top Mugabe cronies have grabbed the
choicest properties for themselves, there is always the "satisfaction" of
kicking the unpopular white farmers to point to . "Please don't try to
sabotage our sexy revolution by bringing up issues of methodologies,"
methodologies which almost guarantee that the overall public good will suffer
more than benefit.
Mugabe's much heralded "anti-corruption" drive of
earlier in the year seems to have expired rather early under the sheer weight
of the crooks in his government. The effort was beginning to point in many
rather high places so apparently had to be quickly abandoned. I told you
Foreign currency is unsurprisingly still in short supply despite
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's various valiant efforts to have more of
it be traded through official channels than through the black market, which
took a Gono-induced knock but definitely did not disappear. Despite the great
media hype about "Homelink," the amount of forex raised through
expatriate Zimbabweans sending money home through official channels is
embarrassingly small in relation to that hype. Since the recent suspension of
local payouts in forex, that amount will likely go down even more and some
are already predicting the demise of the whole scheme. The lesson: there is
no substitute for exports! And there are aren't too many of those,
in agriculture, manufacturing or any other sector. Nor are there any signs
that Zimbabwe is about to regain access to the international credit and
grants that it has been shut off from for several years, and that
several neighbouring countries continue to benefit from.
words, "comrade" Mugabe continues to "lead" us in the direction he knows
best-downwards - email@example.com
SOUTHERN AFRICAN LEADERS ADOPT TOUGH ELECTORAL
RULES Doubts over Mugabe's readiness to comply Wed 18 August
GRAND BAIE: MAURITIUS - Southern African leaders have adopted
a regional charter on free and fair elections hinting that countries
which persistently violate the new rules could be expelled from the
Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The adoption of
the election charter comes ahead of Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections next
year. Political observers say one of the objectives is to put pressure on
President Robert Mugabe to reform the country's much criticised electoral
Mugabe endorsed the charter alongside 12 other SADC
leaders. The charter is predicated on 10 guidelines. These include full
participation of citizens in the political process, freedom of association,
political tolerance, regular intervals for elections, equal opportunity for
all political parties to access the state media, equal opportunity to
exercise the right to vote and be voted for, independence of the judiciary
and impartiality of the electoral institutions.
are voter education, acceptance and respect of election results by political
parties proclaimed to be free and fair by the National Electoral Authority,
and the right to challenge election results.
The charter requires
SADC member states holding elections to ensure "the scrupulous implementation
of the principles, take precautions to prevent fraud or rigging, provide
security for all parties and ensure transparency and integrity of the entire
All countries holding elections are expected to
"safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the
freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression and campaigning as
well as access to the media."
The charter obliges SADC members
invited to observe elections to arrive no later than two weeks before the
election date, ensure conditions are conducive for free, fair and peaceful
elections, make sure there is an updated and accessible voters roll and a
timeous announcement of the election date, ensure that polling stations are
in neutral places and that the votes are counted at the polling
"Where applicable, funding of political parties must be
transparent and based on (an) agreed threshold in accordance with the laws of
the land," the charter reads.
The Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and civic groups welcomed the new guidelines but said it would
require a lot of political will from SADC leaders to force Mugabe to
"We have no doubt at all Mugabe will not comply without
enormous political pressure from the region," said MDC secretary general
"We would be happy if SADC can put a clear
mechanism in place to monitor compliance and to punish those who violate the
Ncube said Mugabe was already doing the opposite of what
the guidelines required. He cited the planned introduction of a new law to
cut foreign funding for Zimbabwean human rights groups and to ban them
from engaging in human rights issues.
Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku said Zimbabwe would have to overhaul
its constitution and electoral system if "we are to go anywhere near
complying with these norms".
He said the electoral reforms proposed
by Mugabe fell hopelessly short of what was expected under the new SADC
Mugabe has proposed setting up an independent electoral
commission to run Zimbabwe's elections. However, this has been dismissed as a
"cosmetic" change as Mugabe would still effectively appoint the new
commission via the Parliament in which he enjoys an appointed majority.
Mugabe also proposed reducing voting to one day and counting of ballots at
However, the opposition notes that it is
completely shut off from the state media, and security laws do not allow it
the requisite space to campaign in elections.
The SADC leaders
said in their final statement they had been informed that Zimbabwe was
drafting new electoral rules which would comply with
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki said the SADC
treaty allowed for "people to be excluded from the organisation if they are
found to be constantly in violation of the treaty".
Constitutional Assembly chairman Madhuku said this meant those violating the
electoral charter could be excluded from SADC but added it was wishful
thinking to imagine that SADC leaders would expell Mugabe even if he ignored
the new rules.
"One would have hoped the SADC leaders to explicitly
demand that Mugabe revisits all the draconian pillars he has already put in
place to stifle free elections. How can we honestly believe that they can now
take action against a fellow comrade?" asked Madhuku. ZimOnline
Botswana: We are not plotting against Mugabe Wed 18 August
GABORONE - Botswana has rejected charges by Zimbabwe
government media that it is being used by the United States and Britain in an
alleged plan to topple President Robert Mugabe¹s government.
Botswana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the
claims by the media were aimed to cause friction between Harare
In a statement, Botswana asserted its right to
establish relationships with any country of its choice. "As a sovereign
country, Botswana is free to cooperate with any country or entity in the
world in a manner that she chooses, including the areas of defence, law
enforcement and intelligence."
The ministry said it had opened its
Thebephatswa Airbase to defence and government officials from foreign
countries in a bid to disprove claims that Britain and America planned to use
the airbase to launch attacks on Zimbabwe.
A report by
Zimbabwe's Chronicle newspaper alleged that Botswana was under pressure from
Washington and London to incite Zimbabweans to overthrow Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF party. ZimOnline
Civic society groups lobby for regional support against new
NGO Bill Wed 18 August 2004
JOHANNESBURG Zimbabwean civic
society groups are trying to enlist the support of their counterparts in
Southern Africa in their struggle against planned legislation that they say
would banish most of them.
They have approached the Southern
African Development Community Council of Non Governmental Organisations for
help. The executive director of Zimbabwe's National Association of NGOs
(NANGO), Jonathan Mudehwe, told ZimOnline in an interview that they had asked
the regional NGO council to take up the issue of Zimbabwe with new SADC
chairman, Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Berenger.
"We have met
with the interim secretary-general of the council, Abie Dithlake and we
presented him with our concerns over the bill. The council will hold an
executive meeting in the next two weeks and our case will be high on the
agenda," said Mudehwe.
"We were promised by Mr. Dithlake that the
council would take the matter to the highest authorities in
Mudehwe and his NANGO were in Mauritius to lobby SADC
leaders during their annual summit.
The bill bars NGOs and other
civic groups from engaging in governance and political work without
registration by a state commission. NGOs, almost all of them entirely funded
by outside donors, will also be stopped from receiving external funding or
face deregistration. Civic society and legal experts point out that as a
result nearly all NGOs working in Zimbabwe may be forced to cease
Mudehwe said, "We have made it clear to the SADC
council on NGOs that the intended legislation in Zimbabwe is against the
memorandum of understanding signed between SADC and the SADC council of NGOs.
Zimbabwe is a full SADC member and should be pressured to abide by SADC
The memorandum obliges member states to respect the
role of civil society in national governance and development.
The SADC council of NGOs is an arm of the regional body and is tasked with,
among other things, ensuring that member countries create an
enabling environment for NGOs to operate. ZimOnline
Lobby group: Give five million Zimbabweans their citizenship
without a fee Wed 18 August 2004
HARARE - A group claiming to
represent more than five million Zimbabweans stripped of their citizenship
because their parents were foreigners says it will petition the United
Nations to pressure Harare to give them back their birth right.
The Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act, passed in July 2001, annulled the
citizenship of Zimbabweans born and living in the country, but whose parents
did not originally come from Zimbabwe.
potentially citizens of their parents' countries of origin, now have to first
renounce that potential citizenship and pay a Z$30 000 fee before they can
regain their status as citizens of Zimbabwe.
Worst affected by the
Act are people of Malawian, Mozambican and Zambian origin. Most of them
worked as labourers on Zimbabwe's former white-owned commercial farms. The
majority are second or third generation Zimbabweans who no longer have any
links or relations in their parents' countries of origin. In 1985, the
government had awarded them Zimbabwean citizenship, but with the 2001 act
Zimbabwe Anti-Ethnic Discrimination Organisation
(ZADO) chairman Mike Mwale said the group was preparing a petition to United
Nations Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe, Victor Angelo. He said his
organisation represented five million people.
"Right now we are
stateless and one has to pay $30 000 if one wants to be a Zimbabwean. So far
about a million people have paid and we are saying they must get their money
back. This is extortion."
Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, who
administers the citizenship laws, could not be reached for
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director Arnold Tsunga
said the Citizenship Act discriminated against this population group on the
basis of race and ethnic background: "Anyone of foreign descent has the
potential to be rendered stateless if they have not renounced their official
entitlement to a potential citizenship."
Tsunga added that Mwale
and his organisation face an uphill task as Harare has not ratified the UN's
Protocol on Civil and Political Rights which deals with issues of
Exiled Zimbabweans celebrate national holidays Wed 18
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabweans living in South Africa have
started an initiative to hold parallel celebrations of Zimbabwean national
holidays in exile, saying the ruling ZANU PF party is politicising and
abusing national events for its own partisan agenda.
banner of the Peace and Democrary Project (PDP), about 3 000 exiled
Zimbabweans gathered in Johannesburg on Sunday to begin a series
of activities to be staged this week to celebrate the National Heroes
day, albeit one week late.
Journalist Andrew Meldrum and
Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition representative in South Africa Elinor Sisulu
addressed the gathering.
A soccer tournament of Zimbabwean youths
based in South Africa was staged to commemorate the Heroes Holiday.
Zimbabwean soccer star Adam Ndlovu was guest of honour at the
PDP chairman Lusinga Matula said the initiative was
"part of an exercise to reclaim our national holidays for the good of the
The PDP would also mobilise exiled Zimbabweans to
celebrate other national holidays like Independence Day and use the occasions
to highlight the suffering of Zimbabwean people.
"The mistake we
make as Zimbabweans is to regard important events like Independence Day and
Heroes Day as Mugabe's holidays. That is not the case. These are our national
holidays as Zimbabweans and we should celebrate them," said
Celebrating national holidays in exile would also unite
Zimbabweans in the diaspora and keep them focused on the need to change the
situation back home, he said.
The PDP was initially started
earlier this year as an interaction forum for exiled Zimbabwean youths.
Traditional practices of polygamy, virginity
testing and 'kugara nhaka' (wife inheritance), inhibit women's control over
their bodies and increase vulnerability to HIV infection, but activists are
split on the best way to tackle the customs.
The Girl Child Network
(GCN) believes in empowering girls to resist virginity testing. Other
advocacy groups favour tighter legislation against high-risk behaviour
performed "in the name of culture". Still others believe in empowering women
to make informed decisions within the context of traditional culture, given
the hostility of many community leaders to attempts to tamper with
"Where the cultural practice is not seen as a violation and is
believed in, it's difficult to police," said Emedie Gunduza, advocacy officer
of the Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN). She told IRIN that the
more economically disadvantaged the woman, the more prone she was to
GCN director Betty Makoni said virginity testing
took place not only at ceremonies sanctioned by rural chiefs, but also in
churches and the home, where it was performed by "the girl's mother, an aunt,
a neighbour or even the prospective husband".
Contrary to the cultural
belief that testing reduced promiscuity and the rate of HIV infection, Makoni
noted it could actually fuel rape, as girls became targets of HIV-infected
men who believed sex with a virgin could cure them. In some Pentecostal
churches, once a girl's virginity was confirmed, "a male member of the
congregation might rape the girl, confess in front of the whole congregation,
and then agree to marry her. The power to resist must therefore rest in the
girl's own hands," she said.
Some groups believed the practice would be
much more acceptable if boys were tested too, but Makoni disagreed. "We say
the insertion of a finger or anything in a child's vagina is sexual abuse. It
violates the most critical part of a child's body and girls must report
GCN has 156 girls' clubs in 11 mostly rural areas, where girls are
taught about their rights and given survival skills. Several chiefs now
frowned on the practice of virginity testing, but in areas where there was
resistance, GCN's "underground work" had resulted in many girls refusing to
attend ceremonies, Makoni said.
One such ceremony organised earlier
this year in the Rusape area, close to the capital, Harare, reportedly
collapsed through non-attendance by the girls. "The greater the girls take up
the challenge of refusing, the greater the chances of virginity testing being
phased out," Makoni told IRIN.
Bold interventions against 'nhaka' and
polygamy are more difficult, as the work of the Zimbabwe Open University's
(ZOU) Committee on HIV and AIDS has shown.
After an evaluation
exercise with its students last year, the university reported that 73.7
percent rated 'nhaka' as top of the list of practices fuelling HIV because of
the possibility of infection if a widow was passed to her deceased husband's
brother. But attempts to lobby traditional leaders were unsuccessful, with
the leaders rejecting notions that 'nhaka' and polygamy necessarily fuelled
"They said there was no proven research that women in these
relationships had a problem," David Chakuchichi, chairman of ZOU's HIV and
AIDS Committee told IRIN. Traditional leaders demanded the right to correct
from within whatever was proved to be fuelling the pandemic, while leaving
the practices intact, he said.
WASN, however, said it had recorded
success when it worked through traditional structures and targeted HIV/AIDS
issues in a more holistic way. In a three-year evaluation exercise in
Chikwakwa, 50 km outside Harare, where infection was believed to be high and
ignorance of the disease prevalent, they found that once women were equipped
with information and negotiating skills, they were able to make informed
decisions on matters concerning high-risk behaviour.
STIs and teenage pregnancies had dropped significantly, and there was greater
openness to discussing HIV issues. For example, "the women indicated that the
female condom put them in control and the men preferred it to the male
condom," said advocacy officer Gunduza.
She put that success down to an
"enabling environment" created by health workers and community leaders, which
might not have been possible had a more aggressive approach been taken.