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
"The 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."
Second medal for Zimbabwe in Athens Wed 18 August
Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry has done it again. This time
she won bronze in the women's 200 metres individual medley at the Athens
Olympics yesterday evening, bringing her trophy haul to two.
Coventry, who is undoubtedly Zimbabwe¹s best athlete at the games, narrowly
missed out on silver, coming home in two minutes 12.72 seconds, behind US
American Amanda Beard, who finished in two minutes 11.70 seconds. The race
was won by Ukraine's Yana Klochkova with a time of two minutes
On Monday, Coventry did her country proud,
sneaking up in the outer lane on French teenager Laure Manaudou, to clinch
the silver medal in the women's 100 meters backstroke. US American Natalie
Coughlin took gold. ZimOnline
Opening Ceremonies mark the official opening of the Games... I am so excited!
Everyone always wonders how the torch will be lit and what type of
entertainment there will be. Normally, Zimbabwe is the last country before
the host, but this year the Greeks are following the Greek alphabet and Z is
the 6th letter. We should be about 56th in line. I am not sure yet whether I
will march or watch from the stands; it is very tiring to march and I swim on
Sunday. I marched in Sydney and it was a great experience. Most of my Auburn
teammates have elected not to go in order to save their legs! The officials
predict it will be 6-7 hours of standing, sitting and marching! Eileen will
be there though because she is the flag bearer for Panama!
All of the
Auburn kids are here now and we have so much fun together at the pool and
especially at the cafeteria! We watch each other do our fast work during
training and it inspires confidence in ourselves. Mark Gangloff swims the 100
Breaststroke tomorrow morning. I have scheduled my workout time to get there
just before he swims so I can see him blaze down the
Yesterday I had to go to an asthma clinic to get my
asthma "verified" to make sure it was legal for me to take my medicine. It
was quite a hard test but I "passed" with flying colors... which means yes, I
have asthma and need my medicine. It is good that they are testing us though
to make sure the Games are fair. After my test we went and bought new pants
for my Opening Ceremonies uniform; they gave us size 36 men! It was fun to
get out of the Village and see a bit of Athens. I look forward to seeing more
when I am finished competing.
I hope you all enjoy watching the
Ceremonies on TV. I will try to describe it to you all later as best as I
company Conafex raised alarm bells for South African companies with
operations in Zimbabwe yesterday, when it said President Robert Mugabe's
government had given notice that authorities would immediately seize the
agricultural assets of Conafex subsidiary Zimcor. This is the second
expropriation attempt on the Zimbabwean assets of an SA-listed company,
following a notice served on Anglo American in January for the expropriation
of the company's Hippo Valley sugar estates.
There are other South
African farming companies with Zimbabwean operations, such as Tongaat-Hulett,
and Conafex's predicament will raise concern their assets could face a
Conafex CEO Chris Jousse did not want to add to the
company's terse statement that all of Zimcor's agricultural assets "are to be
compulsorily acquired with immediate effect".
had already been served on two of Zimcor's main estates , Trelawney and Kent,
but this order now extends the expropriation to all Zimcor's agricultural
Conafex, which is listed on both the JSE Securities Exchange SA
and the Luxembourg stock exchange, had made diplomatic representations
through the Luxembourg embassy in Zimbabwe to fight this compulsory annexure
but it seems these efforts have now failed.
In its announcement
yesterday, Conafex said "the implications of this action and the matter of
compensation are not yet clear".
However, the expropriation clearly will
hurt Conafex, which until recently relied heavily on its Zimbabwean
operations. Conafex's Zimbabwean assets were worth $8,4m the bulk of the
company's total $13m in assets, according to last year's annual
The report said that "if these compulsory acquisitions of
(Trelawney and Kent) proceed without adequate compensation, land and
improvements up to a value of 4200000 could be permanently
Conafex employs 963 workers in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, and it
is unclear what effect the Zimbabwean government's action will have on
Conafex's operations. Although Conafex had been on a mission to reduce its
dependence on Zimbabwe, Zimcor made profits of Z1,1bn last year, up from
Its efforts to diversify led to the company buying into two South
African agricultural companies in November last year. This included 17,45% of
the JSE-listed fruit specialists Intertrading, while its European
associates bought another 17,45% of that company.
Conafex bought 50%
of the SA-based Coffee Team & Chocolate Company, while selling its stake
in the Zimbabwean company Barato Holdings for $1,1m.
A number of other
South African giants with Zimbabwean operations will be keeping a close eye
on what happens to Conafex's annexed operations.
Anglo American received
a notice of expropriation for its Hippo Valley sugar estates in January this
year, after which it lodged formal objections with the Zimbabwean
However, sugar producer Tongaat-Hulett, which owns the
Zimbabwean based Triangle Sugar, has not announced any expropriation notices
for its farms.
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Expect usual sounds of silence on Zimbabwe at SADC
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- OBSERVERS,
both informed and casual, have for years been completely confused by the
situation in Zimbabwe and the responses of leadership in southern Africa to
the depredations of President Robert Mugabe. This confusion can only have
increased after the opening day of this year's Southern African Development
Community (SADC) summit in Mauritius.
It is worth remembering that the
heart and soul of the SADC are the former "frontline states". These frontline
states Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Angola were at the forefront of the
fight against apartheid SA.
Those mentioned gave succour to the African
National Congress (ANC) and the South West African People's Organisation
(Swapo) in the form of camps and often material support. In return they
suffered raids from the apartheid war machine, either in the form of bombing
raids or commando- style attacks.
The bottom line here is that somewhere
in the depths of their subconscious they believe SA owes them something. Now
let us try translate that into an economic development region and some of the
reasons for the moribund nature of the SADC begin to emerge. In addition to
believing that there is a debt owing there is fear of SA's economic muscle
overpowering them. But I digress.
Topping the agenda for this summit
are two issues. Free and fair elections in Africa, and the situation in
Zimbabwe. Clearly the two are not unconnected particularly with a
parliamentary election scheduled for next year in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe stole the last presidential election and has rigged the courts in his
country to defend the result against any legal challenges. Not especially
good advertising to the world about how the region respects democratic
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on Monday gave a
chilling speech to the opening ceremony of the SADC summit. He railed shrilly
against the enemies of Africans, against those who had imposed colonialism on
African countries. Then the clincher he suggested that the region should
develop electoral laws that were in line with its political, social and
All of us, European, Asian or African, somewhere,
come from a dictatorial system originally. Alexander the Great and the great
Egyptian pharaohs were not great exponents of the democratic state. Neither
were Genghis Khan and other Asian leaders. Democracy is a relatively modern
idea, Mkapa should be told.
It is also considered critical all over
the world to giving ordinary poor people a shot at influencing the way their
lives are run. It is not a creation of the Americans or the
In effect, Mkapa was saying nothing would be done about the
situation in Zimbabwe and Mugabe would not be stopped from stealing yet
another election. His tirade came after Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha
Mosisili said democracy was thriving.
Mauritian Prime Minister Paul
Berenger issued a stern warning earlier that free and fair elections needed
an independent electoral commission, access to state media, unfettered press
and credible observation, all denied in Zimbabwe by Mugabe.
praises Mugabe, Berenger appears to be criticising him and telling him what
is required. But it is all being done in a sort of code that precludes anyone
in the region taking the Zimbabwe issue by the scruff of the
Perhaps they want to sell food to the starving millions in Zimbabwe
after the collapse of agriculture in that country. Berenger spoke as if a
free and fair election in Zimbabwe was a foregone conclusion.
no question that the US, UK and European Union (EU) are not convinced. There
is also no question that to get development going in Africa they need to be
convinced. It might be unfair but that is the truth.
So why does Mugabe
get a standing ovation from the crowds gathered at the Union Buildings for
President Thabo Mbeki's inauguration? Why are other SADC leaders, whose
countries are obviously being harmed by the situation in Zimbabwe, so
reluctant to criticise him? Why does Mbeki practise silent diplomacy with
Mugabe but foghorn diplomacy with Israel?
Ordinary South Africans
consider Mugabe to be a hero of the struggle against racism and the colonial
legacy. Many of the leaders in Africa would also share this view. Indeed I
think white South Africans would be surprised at how many supported the idea
of Zimbabwe-style land grabs.
Politically it is not a good idea for a
black leader to be going about slagging Mugabe off. The people who are going
to vote for him or her next time round are not going to like it.
because Mugabe is a hero of Africa, standing bravely against the evil of the
UK, US and EU opposition, criticism from the Movement for Democratic Change
and the Democratic Alliance will be to no avail.
will have to find a way to depose Mugabe and replace Zanu
Zimbabwe: World Bank Had 'Negligible' Impact On Development
Integrated Regional Information Networks
August 18, 2004 Posted to the
web August 18, 2004
The World Bank's assistance
programmes in Zimbabwe have been largely "unsatisfactory" over the past two
decades, a new independent assessment has concluded.
According to a
Country Assistance Evaluation (CAE) report released in May this year, the
impact of the Bank's programmes on the country's overall development between
1980 and 2001 had been "negligible".
The CAE is an official assessment
meachanism that appraises the relevancy, efficacy, and institutional
development of the Bank's assistance programmes.
Although the Bank had
contributed to liberalising trade and reforming agricultural markets over the
past 20 years, the evaluation alleged that its support packages had failed to
bolster macroeconomic stability or reduce overall poverty, and despite
efforts to reform the civil service, no improvement in fiscal discipline had
However, the WB's poor performance was linked to the
failure by Zimbabwean authorities to commit to macroeconomic stability and
poverty alleviation, the report said.
At the end of the 1980s economic
growth in Zimbabwe had declined to just one percent per annum and
unemployment stood at more than 20 percent. Recognising the need for more
rapid growth, the government embarked on the Economic and Structural
Adjustment Programme (ESAP) from 1991 to 1995, and although substantial
progress in liberalising trade and deregulating agricultural marketing was
achieved, macroeconomic stability remained shaky.
Deregulation of the
labour market and a reduction in public expenditure led to sharp declines in
employment in manufacturing and public administration, and agricultural
growth was not broad based enough to reduce rural poverty. Extreme poverty
increased from 26 percent to 35 percent between 1991 and 1995.
failure to undertake a public expenditure review (PER) prior to 1995
was viewed as a key error by CAE. "Given the necessity of
macroeconomic stability, especially achieving fiscal sustainability, the Bank
should have undertaken the PER prior to 1995 ... and should have formed a
judgement not only about the macroeconomic/fiscal targets, but also about the
likelihood of their implementation," the report suggested.
the Bank's management accepted that a PER should have been conducted prior to
1995, it disagreed with the CAE claim that no substantive analytical work on
poverty had been completed and insufficient attention had been given to
social safety nets. The Bank pointed to a wide range of analytical studies
conducted on poverty in 1995/96, but agreed that land reform and HIV/AIDS
interventions could have started earlier.
The report pointed out that
AIDS now affects one-third of the adult population and life expectancy fell
from 56 years in 1990 to 40 years in 2000.
With regard to the
controversial land redistribution issue, the assessment said although the
Bank's strategy was "appropriate" in responding to the difficulties the
country faced in the 1980s, it did not provide clear direction to land
"Lending was concentrated on investment loans for infrastructure.
While analytical work appropriately focused on improving economic management,
all five major Bank reports made no recommendations on land reform,"
the evaluation said.
It was suggested that despite financial
constraints, which hampered the Bank's ability to finance land acquisition,
the financial institution could have taken "alternative
"The Bank should have analysed options and consequences of
land reform, and should have signalled to the government earlier in the 1990s
that it was willing to support a sensible land reform programme with
available instruments," the report commented.
It recommended that the
Bank stay engaged in the country, but observed that the current political
situation meant "the Bank can do little to move forward the economic and
Instead, there should be increased attention paid to
understanding the current levels of poverty and inequality, and the impact of
economic policies on these issues. The Bank should also analyse the political
and economic factors which had impeded reforms in the past.
resumption of normal Bank lending should be conditional on credible measures
to achieve macroeconomic stability, fundamental governance reforms ...
parastatal reforms and the formulation of credible initial steps in
the implementation of an action plan on land issues," the report
Zimbabwe has been in arrears to the Bank since May
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
GRANDE BAIE, 18
Aug 2004 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) has welcomed
the adoption of guidelines for holding democratic elections at the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) summit in Mauritius this
ZESN national chairperson Reginald Machaba-Hove told IRIN on
Wednesday that although the guidelines - if adhered to by member states -
would improve election conditions, there was a lack of clarity on the role
of international observer groups.
One of the key stipulations of the
SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections is the presence
of an SADC election observer team ahead of, during, and after the
ZESN, a non-partisan network of 38 civic organisations in
Zimbabwe, has been lobbying for electoral reform in
Machaba-Hove said the guidelines appeared not to take into
consideration the important role external observer teams could play in
ensuring a free and fair poll, and said he had raised these issues with the
new chairman of SADC, Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Berenger, during a
meeting following the close of the Grande Baie conference.
we are delighted that the summit unanimously agreed on the SADC [election
guidelines] - however, our concern so far is that the text refers principally
to SADC election observation missions and is somewhat silent on the need for
other international observer missions," he commented.
welcome the fact that all SADC heads of state and government agreed to the
principles and guidelines on elections ... as civil society, we will be
following up the question of implementation of the principles and guidelines
into domestic legislation and practice," said Machaba-Hove.
Confusion is reigning supreme in the University of Zimbabwe
(UZ) council following the last minute snubbing of politburo member and
former cabinet minister, Dumiso Dabengwa, who was supposed to be conferred
with an honorary degree at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) graduation
ceremony held on Friday. The UZ council is the body that makes decisions to
confer honorary awards to listed individuals, but in Dabengwa's case the
council has cited that it was unaware that Dabengwa had been omitted from
graduation ceremony programme, only discovering the anomaly at the last
minute. According to UZ council chairman and Awards Committee chairperson,
Ambassador Buzwani Mothobi, they were as baffled as Dabengwa's relatives who
had attended the graduation ceremony when they realised that Dabengwa would
not be receive the honorary degree. "The Executive Committee of the council
had made a decision to award Dabengwa an honorary doctorate and up until the
graduation ceremony itself on Friday morning, no information had been relayed
to us concerning the erasure of Dabengwa from the graduation
ceremony's programme," said Mothobi. Dabengwa, who was absent from the
graduation ceremony, told the Sunday Mirror that he had been satisfied by
explanations furnished to him saying: "I was given an explanation that it had
been decided to postpone it and that we will have a separate ceremony later.
I tried as much as possible to reach out to as many of my relatives
as possible to explain the postponement, but some still made it to the UZ. I
am satisfied with the explanation I got."
However, impeccable sources
close to Dabengwa, say that he was extremely incensed by the sudden
postponement, after Higher Education minister, Herbert Murerwa, is alleged to
have phoned him explaining the postponement. Higher Education secretary,
Washington Mbizo tried to bar the Sunday Mirror from following up on the
farce concerning Dabengwa, but confirmed that Murerwa had indeed informed
Dabengwa of the postponement. "What I suggest is that you don't write this
story because these things go through procedures involving the Chancellor
(President Robert Mugabe). It is a very sensitive issue and I advise you not
to write about it. Minister Murerwa phoned Dabengwa to explain the
postponement to him." UZ Vice Chancellor, Levy Nyagura refused to comment on
Mothobi's statements, citing university protocol. "How can I comment on what
Ambassador Mothobi has said? Remember he is my boss, and regulations clearly
spell out that I cannot give comments contrary to what my boss has said,"
said Nyagura. Pressed for clarification as to who gave the directive that
Dabengwa's name be omitted from the graduation ceremony programme without the
UZ council's knowledge, Nyagura feigned ignorance of what actually took
place. Nyagura said: "It's not a policy matter. I am only an officer of the
institution tasked with enforcing what the both the UZ council and the
ministry (of Higher Education) decide on. What I will tell you is that we
have a procedure on honorary degrees, and when the process is complete, that
is when I, as an officer of the UZ, can proceed to put a candidate's name on
the list. That's all I can say." This is not the first time a senior ranking
politician has been snubbed at the last minute, and thus denied the
opportunity to be conferred an honorary degree. In May this year, Speaker of
Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa was treated in similar fashion at the
graduation ceremony of the Midlands State University (MSU) with university
staff hurriedly erasing Mnangagwa's name from the graduation programme in a
last minute move. Sources said that MSU vice-chancellor, Ngwabi Bhebhe had
held an urgent meeting with the university chancellor, President Mugabe,
whereupon it was decided the President had indicated that "the timing was not
right" for Mnangagwa to be conferred with an honorary degree.
Most of a group of 70 suspected mercenaries accused in
Zimbabwe of plotting to topple the government of Equatorial Guinea pleaded
not guilty today to fresh charges of conspiring to possess dangerous weapons.
Zimbabwean authorities have held the men since March 7 when their plane
landed in Harare en route for what Zimbabwe officials said was a mission to
oust Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial
The group say they were headed to the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) to guard mining operations. Earlier today, 66 of the men,
excluding group leader Simon Mann and three others, denied state charges that
they unlawfully attempted to "possess or acquire" a slew of weapons
including assault rifles, hand grenades, anti-tank missile launchers and
mortar bombs from state arms firm Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
accused persons will deny the allegations. Up to today they have not even
seen the weapons they are being accused of. How can they possess something
that they didn't even know existed," Jonathan Samkange, their lawyer, told a
makeshift court at the maximum security prison where the men are being held.
A senior police official, who led investigations in the case, told the court
army officers who searched the plane found a map of Equatorial Guinea's
capital Malabo together with an encoded military document, uniforms and what
appeared to be military equipment.
"Some of the goods, the uniforms and
also the equipment which resembled military (equipment) among other items,
were specifically for a mission. My comment is that it should be
investigated," Clemence Madzingo told the court after the state prosecutor
asked him to make an assessment of the items found.
A further 15 men
are being held by Equatorial Guinea, awaiting trial on charges of involvement
in the coup plot. Last month, 67 of the 70 suspects detained in Harare
pleaded guilty on lesser charges of contravening Zimbabwe's immigration and
Also in July, Mann, a former member of Britain's special
forces, also pleaded guilty to attempting to possess dangerous weapons, but
rejected a second charge of purchasing weapons, saying the deal never went
through. - Reuters
S.Africa "disappointed" by stalled Zimbabwe talks
18 Aug 2004 16:30:46 GMT
By Gordon Bell
CAPE TOWN, Aug 18
(Reuters) - South Africa is disappointed talks have stalled between the
government and opposition in Zimbabwe, but will continue to work for a
negotiated solution to the crisis, a top official said
"We are extremely disappointed at what appears now to be
a stalemate in the talks that were happening," Deputy Foreign Minister Sue
van der Merwe told reporters in Cape Town.
But she rejected
suggestions that South Africa was failing to take strong enough action
against human rights abuses in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Mbeki and his government have come under criticism from Zimbabwe's opposition
and sympathisers in South Africa for not taking a harder line with his
Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe over reports of human rights
Mbeki has repeatedly dismissed any need for intervention, saying
talks were going on between Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). But in July Mbeki's spokesman admitted
his self-imposed deadline to end the impasse in Zimbabwe by June 30 had
passed with no results.
Southern African leaders meeting in Mauritius
for the annual conference of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) this week rallied around embattled Mugabe, who is accused of a
political crackdown following a disputed re-election in 2002.
is suffering serious economic turmoil widely blamed on
Van der Merwe said South Africa still
believed negotiation was the only option to resolve the crisis in
"The government has thought about alternatives, but we honestly
believe there is no alternative to the Zimbabweans sitting down and talking
about it until they reach a resolution," she said.
She said the South
African government believed Mugabe's Zanu-PF had been encouraged about their
prospects in parliamentary elections due next year by victories in recent
by-elections, reducing their need to negotiate with the MDC before those
Zimbabwe this week signed up for SADC electoral guidelines that
aim to ensure free and fair elections, but without the need for Western
MISA: Lack of press freedom may hinder
Aug 18, 2004
With less than
a year before the next general election in Zimbabwe, a three-person team of
media experts sponsored by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has
found that curbs on press freedom make a free and fair election highly
unlikely for March 2005.
Pamela Dube, editor of Mokogsi Newspaper in
Botswana, Fernando Gonçalves, editor of Savana Newspaper in Mozambique, and
Zambian media law expert, Patrick Matibini, found that while the Zimbabwean
constitution guarantees freedom of expression, pieces of legislation designed
to protect the privacy of public officials have "effectively closed the media
space in Zimbabwe."
The 22-page report found that independent journalists
were often locked out of events and faced harassment from police and
government officials. State-run media outlets, while granted access, do not
give equal time to all political parties and ideologies.
report's publication, MISA has renewed its call for the Zimbabwean government
to comply with the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which it
ratified in May 1986. Article 9 of the charter states that "every individual
shall have the right to receive information" and "every individual shall have
the right to express and disseminate opinions within the
Additionally, MISA is encouraging members of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) to demand that Zimbabwe adhere to
SADC regulations for elections.
The team's report was presented to a
group of southern African journalists and editors in Johannesburg, South
Africa on August 4.
Johannesburg - Four in five Zimbabweans report that they went
without food at least once in the previous year (up from 65% who did so in
Rates of persistent hunger are higher than in any of the other 15
countries surveyed by Afrobarometer.
The other African countries
surveyed earlier in 2004 were Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho,
Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania,
Uganda and Zambia.
The Afrobarometer is an independent, non-partisan
survey research project conducted by the Institute for Democracy in South
Africa (Idasa), the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), and
Michigan State University (MSU).
Implemented through a network of
national research partners, Afrobarometer surveys measure the social,
economic and political atmosphere in societies in transition in West, East
and Southern Africa.
Afrobarometer's latest findings are based on over 1
104 interviews conducted in May 2004 in local languages with a randomly
selected, nationally representative area probability sample of the adult
population in Zimbabwe. Afrobarometer also conducted a survey of 1 200
Zimbabweans in 1999.
The 2004 results indicate that Zimbabweans are
keenly aware that their personal and national economic conditions have
deteriorated in the last two years.
They are losing faith in
democracy, are increasingly disillusioned with the opposition, but at the
same time, appear to be more trusting of the government.
survey found that Zimbabweans feel economically deprived: more than half of
all adults (54%) think that current living conditions are bad; and present
generations think they are materially worse off than their
More than other Africans, Zimbabweans are prone to hold
government accountable for individual welfare, (68% feel that government
should be responsible for their well being). The most important popular
priorities for government action are the management of the economy (40%),
unemployment (31%), and food security (27%).
In contrast to the claims
of the government, ordinary Zimbabweans rarely mention land reform as a
priority national problem (4%). Moreover, three quarters (76%) think that
land acquisition should only be done by legal means and with compensation to
Zimbabweans give the government higher marks for combating Aids
(65%) than for creating jobs (22%), keeping prices stable (31%), or closing
the gap between rich and poor (24%). But the proportion is rising of those
reporting they know someone who has died from Aids (78%, up from 68% in
Afrobarometer's research, capacity-building and outreach
activities are sponsored by amongst others, the Swedish International
Development Cooperation Agency, the Netherlands ministry of foreign affairs,
and the US Agency for International Development (USAid).
VISITING shadow Minister of
Finance of Zimbabwe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP,
David Coltart, said the ZANU-PF government in Zimbabwe had "no real
intention" to reform its electoral process, and that it instead "revealed
cynical" intentions when dealing with the opposition.
remark by Coltart in Windhoek yesterday evening juxtaposed with a visit of a
seven-member delegation of the Zimbabwean Public Service Commission and
Electoral Directorate, as well as calls from southern African leaders for
support at the SADC summit currently in progress in Mauritius of President
Mugabe's newly proposed electoral laws.
Coltart said although the
Zimbabwean government has to some extent capitulated under increased pressure
from other countries in the region, the reforms in the electoral system as
proposed by the ruling party was merely a distortion of 15 conditions
proposed by the MDC for a conducive electoral environment.
to the head of the delegation to Namibia, Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah, President
Robert Mugabe had at the opening of Parliament recently announced a
constitutional amendment to create "an independent electoral
commission", where its members would be appointed at the recommen-dation of
parliament. Hence, said Nzuwah, the visit to Namibia, Botswana and South
Africa, and "if time permits" other countries in the region, is to look at
different electoral systems to "hopefully learn from
Parliamentary elections are expected to take place in March next
year, with the presidential elections only expected in 2008 after Mugabe has
served his full six-year term following the last presidential elections in
Nzuwah said that the proposed bill on elections made provision for
the envisaged electoral commission to have "full powers to compile the
voters' roll and to register voters and not the government or anyone
"As a member of the opposition he [Coltart] would have it
differently," went on Nzuwah. He added that he [Nzuwah] was not a "politician
and can only talk about the processes" currently underway.
however, maintained that the proposed electoral commission would not be
independent, and that it would not have "any power" over the voters' roll
compilation. "The voters' roll will still be compiled by Robert Mugabe,"
contended Coltart, adding that the voters' roll had historically been the
"primary means" of "rigging elections".
Equally, said Coltart, the idea
of the introduction of translucent voters' boxes to be introduced in
Zimbabwe, could "exacerbate violence against voters, particularly in rural
areas", as it would then be more obvious how people have
Coltart, who was hosted by the Congress of Democrats (CoD) in
Namibia, made these remarks, making claims that the Zimbabwean political
scenario was not conducive for free and fair elections.
that the Zimbabwean government over the last four years has "embarked on a
remarkably comprehensive campaign to undermine the opposition". "The best
illustration is given when one considers the treatment of opposition MPs,"
He submitted that 90 percent of the opposition MPs have
been "subjected to some form of human rights abuses, 24 percent have survived
assassination attempts, 42 percent were assaulted, and 16 percent have been
He further claimed that five MDC MPs have died, one while in
prison, and the remaining four after having been released from detention,
where they purportedly have been "assaulted and tortured". Coltart also
reported on more wide-ranging cases of human rights violations, including a
virtual clampdown on the independent media in Zimbabwe.
In the same
vein he lamented the media in the West for what he called their "deep rooted
racism", claiming that the Western media widely reported on human rights
abuses against white farmers, and are not interested in those perpetrated
against black Zimbabweans. "Human rights abuses continue to deteriorate
inside the country, and is worse than it is portrayed by the international
media," Coltart suggested.
Remarking on Coltart's attack on the
Zimbabwean government, Nzuwah said: "He [Coltart] ought to say that to
Zimbabweans who know the truth and not say it to Namibians," suggesting that
Coltart was "playing to the international gathering".
MDC fears 'implementation devil' in SA DC election
rule August 18, 2004
By Beauregard Tromp and Basildon
Grand Baie, Mauritius - Leaders of the Southern African
Development Community, at their annual summit, have adopted a far-reaching
set of guidelines for elections.
These include elements demanded
by the Zimbabwe opposition, which will contest crucial legislative elections
next year, such as equal access for all political parties to the state media
and impartiality of electoral institutions.
Ncube, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, welcomed the
guidelines, but was worried that "they don't clearly stipulate the
"The devil is always in the implementation
and we have no doubt that (President Robert) Mugabe hasn't got the slightest
intention to enforce the new protocol." At a briefing, President
Thabo Mbeki addressed the enforcement issue, saying it would fall to SADC's
Organ on Politics, Defence and Security to engage a member state which was
constantly in violation of the rules.
"It (the SADC treaty) allows
for people to be excluded from the organisation if they are found to be
constantly in violation," he said.
The Principles and Guidelines
Governing Democratic Elections include 10 basic ideals.
are 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 state media; equal
opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for; independence of
the judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions; the right to
voter education; the respect of election results proclaimed to be free and
fair by the competent national electoral authority; and the right to
challenge election results as provided for in the law.
guidelines also stipulate that SADC members invited to observe elections
should ensure conditions are conducive for free, fair and peaceful elections,
should make sure there is an updated and accessible voters' roll, a timeous
announcement of the election date, that polling stations are located in
neutral places and that the votes are counted at the
The member state holding the elections is
expected to ensure "the scrupulous implementation".
chairperson and Mauritian Prime Minister Paul Berenger said the decisions
made at this year's summit, which ended yesterday, would hopefully shift the
focus from the continually highlighted negative aspects of SADC to the more
positive aspects. - Independent Foreign Service
African leaders could, perhaps,
be forgiven for glazing over at the mention of Zimbabwe and its despotic
President Robert Mugabe.
They must feel rather like Margaret
Thatcher and Ronald Reagan often did in the 1980s when protesters waved
placards saying "Down with Botha" or "Apartheid is a crime against
There's eventually something tedious about a problem
that won't go away. But just as Thatcher and Reagan could never be entirely
trusted when they spoke of democracy and freedom, so Africa's leaders - those
who mince their words about the continent's post-independence failures, and
decline to confront the challenges - sound hollow when they speak of
liberation and human rights.
Zimbabwe's plight is, no doubt, the
consequence of a history of errors, for which the post-liberation government
presided over by an ageing one-time "freedom fighter" is only partly
There's no reasonable defence for the flawed and
rapacious colonialism that gave birth to Rhodesia. But there's no reasonable
defence, either, for the flawed and rapacious rule that has succeeded
African leaders have, it seems, yet to digest the truth that
it's less British and American opinion that matters than the sentiments of a
steadily modernising, aspirational, vocal and informed African populace that
sees no reason why it should get a shoddier deal than the residents of
Middlesex or North Carolina.
Southern African Development
Community leaders may pride themselves on their cosy solidarity with Mugabe.
It is not so certain that Africans themselves will always have so generous a
By Susan Njanji Last updated: 08/18/2004 20:53:22 A
ZIMBABWE judge was expected on Wednesday to begin handing down sentences as
the trial of 70 suspected mercenaries accused of plotting a coup in oil-rich
Equatorial Guinea was to resume.
"Today we are expecting judgment,
sentencing and trial," said defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange.
were arrested on March 7 at Harare airport when their plane stopped off to
pick up weapons that they claim were to be used to guard a diamond mine in
the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Zimbabwe authorities, however, charge
that the men were getting ready to join 15 other suspected mercenaries in
Malabo to topple long-time Equato-Guinean leader President Teodoro Obiang
Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe is expected to hand down sentences
to 67 men who pleaded guilty last month to minor charges of violating
aviation and immigration laws, but they must still be tried for breaking
security and firearms laws.
The alleged leader of the group, Briton
Simon Mann, and two others did not face the aviation and immigration charges
because they were not on the plane that stopped over in Harare on March 7 to
Firearms and security charges against pilot Jaap Steyl
and two other crew members were dropped last month by the
A small fine or short jail term could be handed down to the
67 for violating aviation and immigration charges.
But a conviction on
the security charges could lead to a jail term of up to 10 years.
trial opened on July 27 at a makeshift court in the Chikurubi
maximum security prison where the men have been held since their arrest
almost six months ago.
Early this month South Africa's constitutional
court turned down an appeal by the suspected mercenaries to force President
Thabo Mbeki's government to seek their extradition from Harare.
alleged coup plotters are from Angola, Namibia, South Africa, the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe, but were all travelling on South African
Zimbabwe claims the group was headed for Malabo to join 15
other suspected mercenaries sent as an advance force to carry out a
Fourteen men held in Malabo are due to go on trial on Monday
including eight South Africans and six Armenians. A German national died in
custody in Equatorial Guinea.
Mann has pleaded guilty to attempting to
obtain dangerous weapons in Harare.
He was in Harare days before his
arrest and had gone to the airport to pick up the firearms he allegedly
bought from a Zimbabwean state-owned arms manufacturer, Zimbabwe Defence
He was with two other accomplices, who also face charges of
conspiring to obtain dangerous weapons.
The families of the men fear
that Zimbabwe will extradite the "Harare 70" to Malabo to face trial there
and a possible death sentence. AFP