Thursday, August 26, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00
Close-up Crisis tests resolve of Africans' new union
Laurie Goering Chicago Tribune
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - A decade
ago, the Organization of African Unity stood by as genocide in Rwanda claimed
close to a million lives. Now a new crisis in Darfur is testing Africa's
promise to begin policing its own conflicts, and leaders are showing early
signs of stepping up to the challenge, Africa analysts say. Sudan's
government and rebels from its western region of Darfur started peace talks
this week in Nigeria's capital, Abuja. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo,
chairman of the new African Union, is host of the meetings.
a replacement for the discredited and ineffective OAU, was launched in 2002
with a key new power: the right to intervene militarily in Africa's
So far, that power has been used only once, to deploy a small
contingent of peacekeepers to tense Burundi. But Obasanjo would like to send
2,000 troops to Darfur, a move strongly opposed by Sudan's
Whether African troops ultimately arrive in Darfur - or
whether African leaders such as Obasanjo can find another way to halt the
conflict - will say a great deal about whether the African Union is serious
about bringing change to the continent, analysts
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has flouted
The African Union's record, up to now, has not been
particularly strong. Two years after he intimidated the opposition and stole
democratic elections, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe remains in office,
despite promises by South Africa that it is engaging in "quiet diplomacy"
behind the scenes.
That failure has undermined the New Partnership for
African Development, a South African-led initiative that seeks greater
foreign investment in Africa in exchange for good governance and
self-policing of conflicts.
Zimbabwe's traditional food surpluses, which
once helped feed hungry neighbors throughout southern Africa, have
disappeared as Mugabe's disastrous land-redistribution effort has left much
of the country's rich fields fallow.
The crisis in Darfur has
attracted a stronger response from the African Union for a variety of
reasons. The U.S. and Europe, which recognize that conflict zones in Africa
could become breeding grounds for terror, have pressed the African Union to
find a resolution to the Sudan conflict and have increasingly promised
financial support for African peacekeeping efforts.
The growing push
for intervention in Sudan also has been driven by Rwanda's government, which
- like many governments and world bodies - has promised to stop genocide from
African governments also have been spurred toward
action in Darfur by reports that most of the atrocities there - an estimated
30,000 dead, widespread rape and the destruction of villages - have been
perpetrated by government-backed Arab militias against black
"The racial dimension is no doubt real. Sub-Saharan Africans
don't like their brothers and sisters being abused by Arabs," said John
Stremlau, head of international relations at the University of Witwatersrand
But the biggest factor driving intervention in
Darfur, a region under attack for a year and a half, may simply be the
increasing international spotlight, which has embarrassed African leaders,
who have promised to lead the way in solving the continent's own problems, by
military force if necessary.
That will be easier in coming years. The
African Union is in the process of creating a standby force of African
peacekeepers capable of moving quickly into conflict zones. That body - five
brigades of troops spread across the continent - is expected to be in place
Until then, smaller forces from African nations will fill the
gap. Rwanda and Nigeria have offered to send troops to Darfur. Whether that
will happen, over Sudan's objections, remains to be
LONDON, August 26 (IranMania) -
Iranian Minister of cooperatives Ali Soufi in a meeting with Zimbabwe
Ambassador to Tehran Stephen Chiketa said Wednesday that expansion of
economic and trade relations with African nations is among the priorities of
Iran's cooperative sector.
According to Iran's State News Agency
(IRNA), The Ministry public relations department quoted Soufi as calling on
Zimbabwe for implementing the agreements signed between the two
Also, an agreement, to remove double taxation is also
being prepared, which if approved will greatly contribute to boosting the
trade volume between the two nations, he added. Chiketa referred to the
exports of first batch of combines made in Iran, adding "other agreements
between the two nations are to be implemented in the near
He also alluded to Iranian-sponsored projects to build a
powerplant and supply electricity to the African nations as schemes that his
country needs. The Iranian company should move to implement the project in
the near future, he added.
Soufi in a meeting with Zimbabwe's
Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Joseph Made in May said
regarding the promotion of the agriculture sectors, the two countries could
cooperate through signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
Soufi said that some articles of the MoU have been written for expanding
cooperation between Iran and Zimbabwe and some measures have been taken in
The Zimbabwean minister, for his part, said that his
country has allocated $1.5 mlns of credit to import such agricultural
equipment as tractors. Zimbabwe has so far held negotiations with Iran over
exchanging agricultural experts, cattle breeding, gardening and veterinary.
So, some appropriate activities will be carried out soon in this regard, he
A LOCAL private
airline will take to the skies next year if an application by Pioneer
Airlines (PA) for a licence to operate a passenger and cargo flight service
PA is a subsidiary of Pioneer Development Company
(PDC), which is controlled by emergent Zimbabwean transport barons Hamish and
PDC director Hamish Rudland confirmed that his firm
had lodged its application with the Air Services Board, the statutory body
that grants air service permits, under the Air Services Act.
application now awaits the mandatory 28 days, during which objections can be
raised over the application.
"What we are doing is we are looking
for a joint venture with local and regional airline companies.
"This is in anticipation of the influx locally of Chinese tourists," Rudland
The airline, if granted an air service permit, would trade as
Pioneer Airlines (Private) Limited and would pose competition, particularly
on the local routes, to the country's troubled national airline, Air
Zimbabwe, which has suffered chronic capacity constraints in recent
The company's application for an air services permit was
published in the Government Gazette of July 30 2004 "to carry out business as
an airline, air carrier and air transport operator, plying for hire or reward
in the carriage of passengers and goods of every description by air, in any
part of Zimbabwe or between Zimbabwe and any neighbouring or foreign
Rudland, however, was reluctant to disclose the projected
investment into the airline business by his transport firm.
cost of the project cannot be ascertained at the moment but if we are not
going to be able to lease, the cost will run into several millions of
American dollars. It will be a multi-billion-dollar project.
are talking to some South African companies over the lease of aircraft,"
He said operations were expected to begin during the
first quarter of next year, subject to regulatory approvals.
swashbuckling Rudlands have made a splash on the local transport and
logistics industry and are the controlling shareholders of
Pioneer Corporation Africa (PCA), which listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
last year following the merger with Clan Transport.
subsidiaries in the passenger, bulk cargo, container and commodity
transportation sector operating locally and in the region.
has a presence in the courier and volumetric transportation segments of the
However, the plan-ned venture by PDC into the airline
business could prove to be a major test of the Rudlands' business
Several small private airlines which sought to provide an
alternative service to that provided by Air Zimbabwe have folded in their
and Thomas Madondoro 8/26/2004 8:30:05 AM (GMT +2)
increasingly paranoid ZANU PF government is now monitoring cash flows to
embassies to identify diplomatic missions suspected of bankrolling the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and other civic organisations
it perceives to be dabbling in politics.
The stalking of foreign
missions, some of which house international development agencies that in the
past have channelled funds towards civic organisations, comes amid concern
from the Harare authorities over the prevalence of what ZANU PF labelled
dirty monies in an internal report presented at the party's national
conference back in 2002.
The document identified non-governmental
organisa-tions (NGOs), selected private media, private companies, trade
unions, banks, trusts, foundations, development agencies and drought relief
organisations as "Trojan horses through which the dirty monies were being
The government has, in the past couple of years,
executed a war of attrition against the private media and trade unions. It
has recently turned its attention on NGOs. Harare is in the middle of a
diplomatic tiff with Abuja over allegations that Nigeria had made a $200
million donation to the MDC.
With the huge legal bills for court
challenges that the MDC has incurred since 2000, ruling party officials said
its coffers should have long dried up, but this has not been the case,
according to intelligence sources.
The Daily News and its sister
paper The Daily News on Sunday were closed last September after failing to
comply with the country's new stringent media laws.
the shutdown of the newspapers, followed by the de-registration of The
Tribune this year, was part of ZANU PF's long-term strategy to close
democratic space by permanently dealing with its perceived enemies, among
them banks, businesses and NGOs thought to be sympathetic to the
They said the government viewed the Associated Newspapers
of Zimbabwe's two publications as representing the voice of the MDC and
other dissenting voices.
The ZANU PF secretary for external
affairs, Didymus Mutasa, confirmed that the government was wary of embassies
and other foreign donor organisations working in the country. Mutasa said the
government would not hesitate to cut ties with those embassies involved in
opposition politics with an agenda to effect regime change in
He said the government was closely monitoring the
operations of some embassies, which he did not name.
intelligence arms are taking care of the situation on the ground. It was
exposed that some embassies are working with the opposition. The funds are
now being routed through various means. We are keeping our eyes open," said
He said those embassies reported to be working with the MDC
and civic organisations would be exposed, adding that the government was
keeping track of the source of the funds already in the coffers of the
"Embassies must remember that they are here because we
want to strengthen our friendship. Isu hatiende kwavo tichinoita zvisina
kunaka. (We do not go to their countries to meddle). It is better for the
Americans to concentrate on regime change in their country, which is the
worst, than to come here and talk about regime change," he
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi vehemently denied that
the main opposition party drew funds from overseas via embassies in
"It is totally false that we are getting funds from
embassies or through the embassies. These are statements and strategies
coming from people that are frightened of the grassroots support that we have
garnered so far through our interactions with traditional leaders, including
the chiefs," said Nyathi.
"No money is being given to us by
foreigners. This is fact and ZANU PF knows it. No embassy is willing to be
seen violating its terms of operation in Zimbabwe. We get our money from our
local supporters and from the Political Parties Finance Act," he
He, however, could not disclose how much the party got under
the Political Parties Finance Act this year. The manoeuvres by the government
to monitor the embassies come against the backcloth of proposals to control
the operations of non-governmental organisations by enacting a stringent NGO
law that would ban foreign human rights organisations as well as restrict
many local charities.
Local groups would also be banned from
receiving funds from abroad to finance work in such fields. President Robert
Mugabe has repeatedly accused NGOs of meddling in politics.
FORMER ZANU PF
Bulawayo City councillors who switched sides after being frustrated in the
party and jumped onto the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) bandwagon, are
reportedly fuelling divisions in the MDC amid fears that Executive Mayor
Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube's tenure could be in jeopardy.
Ndabeni-Ncube has however, so far weathered the storm.
One of the
councillors, Matson Hlalo, has already been expelled from the party while the
axe is hanging over another councillor, Alderman Charles Mpofu. Warning bells
are also ringing for Stars Mathe, one of the few women councillors in the
The councillors have been flagrantly violating the
party's constitution and disciplinary code with impunity. The councillors,
who joined the party when it was desperate to boost their numbers, are
being accused of fanning discord within the party through their utterances in
the state media.
The MDC's publicity and information secretary
for Bulawayo, Victor Moyo, said the councillors were knowingly violating the
party's code of conduct because they were quite aware that the only people
who should talk to the media and on behalf of the party are those from the
"Members of Parliament can talk to the
media if they are discussing issues relating to their constituency. The same
applies to councillors when they are talking about their wards, or shadow
ministers when they are talking about their portfolios. But we don't expect a
councillor to talk about politics, especially to the state media. No one, in
fact, should talk to the state media unless authorised by the
secretary-general of the party," Moyo said.
followed an outburst by Alderman Mpofu, Bulawayo's former deputy mayor who
lost his post recently. Mpofu described fellow councillors as "dull and timid
He said the councillors lacked leadership qualities and
were afraid of the mayor who, he said, lacked knowledge on council issues.
Ndabeni-Ncube is a former deputy director of housing in the Bulawayo City
Sources said Mpofu was likely to face disciplinary action
for his sentiments as he already had other charges pending against
According to the party's disciplinary code of conduct, anyone
who brings the name of the party into disrepute or ridicule; or
unduly interferes with the operational capacity or efficiency of the
party; obstructs members or employees of the party from performing lawful
functions and duties will have violated the code.
include impeding the work or activities of the party; creating or promoting
division within the ranks of the party; collaborating with another political
organisation in a manner which is contrary to the achievements of the aims
and objectives of the MDC; or collaborating with any intelligence
organisation or security service against the interests or members of the
It is also an offence to participate in organised factional
activity which threatens the unity of the party, or lobbying based on
factionalism and which goes beyond the recognised norms of canvassing or free
The same applies to provoking serious divisions or a
breakdown of unity within the party; undermining respect for or impeding the
functioning of the structures of the party at any level and promoting or
practising racism, sexism, tribalism, religious or political intolerance
or discrimination, or regionalism.
Mpofu said he was not aware
that he was not allowed to talk to the state media. "I am a politician in my
own right," he said. "I don't want people to be oppressive just because they
want to protect one person, who happens to be the mayor, who is messing
things up. They want to create monsters within the MDC just like ZANU PF has
created monsters. We don't want to create demigods."
He went on:
"In politics, you are not employed. And I have refused to be a puppet to
anybody. I will not be anyone's boy. When we are in council we are governed
by the Urban Councils Act and not by the party constitution. So I will not
shut up because people who are narrow-minded and have nothing to offer say
so. Over my dead body."
Mpofu was elected to the council in 1991 on
a ZANU PF ticket but left the party in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary
elections when the party barred him from contesting against Deputy Minister
of Mines Zenzo Nsimbi. He left the party and contested the council elections
as an independent, won the elections and joined the MDC after the 2000
Hlalo, who left ZANU PF at the same time
with Mpofu and followed the same process of becoming an independent before
joining the MDC, is not as lucky as Mpofu. He has been expelled from the
party for allegedly organising a demonstration against Makokoba Member of
Parliament Thoko Khupe. Hlalo denies organising the demonstration, insisting
that it was the people of Mzilikazi that did so.
forget is the type of people who live in Mzilikazi. They are very
enlightened. I have been a councillor for that area for 10 years so whatever
happens there is linked to me. Unfortunately a lot of it is on the negative
side on my part."
Hlalo has eyed the Makokoba seat for some time
and had running battles with ZANU PF's Sithembiso Nyoni when she was MP for
the area. He contested the seat as an independent in the 2000 elections but
lost. He polled 1 773 votes against Khupe's 12 901, and was even beaten by
Nyoni who polled 2 196 votes.
Asked whether he was a political
opportunist who had joined the MDC to contest the Makokoba seat at the next
elections, Hlalo said: "That is not fair. Maybe I have a different
perspective of politics. When you go into politics you accept to be led and
you can also lead if you are elected. My view is that in any political
dispensation, what people want is what they should get," he
A former ZANU PF chairman, however, insisted that though
Mpofu, Hlalo and Mike Parira Mpofu, who was expelled from the party at the
same time as the other two, were now MDC, deep down they were ZANU PF. They
were just frustrated out of the party by people who were flouting the
party constitution to protect their own positions.
The government, which
is forging ahead with its four-year-old controversial land reform despite
vehement opposition from some quarters, has appointed a 10-member
Compensation Committee to refund nearly 3 500 white commercial farmers
forcibly removed from their properties since the exercise started in
The appointment of the Compensation Committee by John Nkomo,
the Minister of Special Affairs in the Office of the President and Cabinet
in Charge of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, comes amid revelations
that the former farmers were unhappy with figures being offered by
About 3 500 white farmers have been removed from
their properties as the government soldiers on with its programme to
redistribute land to landless blacks.
About 75 percent of
Zimbabwe's prime land has been in the hands of less than 4 000 commercial
farmers. Slightly over 1 000 have been left on the land as the government's
land reform surges ahead.
Nkomo confirmed the appointment of
members of the Compensation Committee, which came into effect at the
beginning of last month. But he declined to discuss any figures, saying it
would be premature to do so.
Simon Pazvakava-mbwa, the permanent
secretary in Nkomo's ministry, chairs the 10-member committee. Nkomo also
appointed four alternate members.
"A Compensation Committee has
been appointed and is now in place. It is presently looking at evaluation
reports of the properties in question. After assessing the evaluation
reports, it can then move forward and work on the logistics of compensating
the farmers," said Nkomo.
"We are going to compensate all of them
(commercial farmers) that have been affected. We want them to pay their debts
with the banks and others," he said.
Nkomo, who is also the
ruling ZANU PF party's chairman, declined to disclose how much the government
had budgeted for this purpose.
"What is important is that the
committee to deal with compensation is there and they are doing their job.
Period," he said.
He added: "The committee fully knows its mandate
and they will deliver."
The 10-member Compensation Committee,
appointed in terms of Section 29A of the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20;
10), has a three-year tenure.
Apart from Pazvaka-vambwa, other
members are D Mangota, WL Manungo, Dr D Sibanda, SC Tsvakwi, E Samuriwo, Dr
SS Mlambo, Z Murungweni, L Chimba and S Moyo.
members have also been appointed and these are ZR Churu, J Mukaratirwa, OJ
Zishiri and A Matake.
Nkomo could not immediately say how many
white commercial farmers had applied for compensation, except that the
government would reimburse all the deserving cases.
for farms seized under the government's agrarian reform has been a thorny
issue since the first land invasions in 2000 by Zimbabwe's liberation war
According to a representative of the white commercial
farmers, 99 percent of commercial farmland in the country had been listed for
compulsory acquisition by the government.
The Southern African Development Community
(Sadc)'s belated new guidelines and principles on democratic elections, which
will certainly pierce self-serving veils of fundamentally flawed and
undemocratic electoral laws, can only be a welcome development, especially
given Zimbabwe's quest for untainted, indisputable, free and fair
We are not here suggesting that the guidelines and
principles were formulated specifically with Zimbabwe in mind. Nor that they
will complete the critical encirclement around the country's leadership,
repeatedly accused of stealing elections. But that they will have a
significant positive impact on Zimbabwe's political life where political
attack dogs have ruined families by committing murder and destroying
Not without reason, for Zimbabweans, every election is
preceded by a deep sense of trepidation. Be they Presidential, Parliamentary
or Local Government elections, it is the same old, sad and tragic story -
instead of hope there is fear of the worst against a background of
deep-seated political bigotry that has often given rise "to chaos, brutality
and purposeless sadism".
The past five years in particular have
witnessed heightened violent political battling together with the attendant
psychological crises and permanent emotional scars. What with the
characteristic hatred for compromise, growing political intolerance,
deepening violent confrontation and the resultant senseless shootings and
bloodshed in the run-up to and during elections.
political life has indeed become poisoned, thanks to the egotism of the
country's politicians who do not seem to realise that difference is a real
factor in politics and have continued to encourage political zealotry through
their strong populist phraseologies which they employ with reckless abandon
as if it is some political innovation.
As a result the
long-suffering Zimbabweans, whose main desire is to achieve peace, stability
and freedom of choice, have not, especially in the past five years, been
given half a chance to exercise their universal suffrage without enduring
pain, grief, sorrow and worse through callous murders, wanton destruction of
property, maiming and raping.
The trauma spawned by the avoidable
violence during election time, which will inevitably haunt the victims and
indeed the nation for years to come, has left many askance as to why it seems
so difficult for Zimbabwe to have violence-free elections where those
rejected by the electorate smile, shake hands and retreat to their farms,
country or suburbia homes! The systematic bullying and intimidation against
political opponents make a mockery of the country's democratic achievements,
which were hard to come by but could easily be destroyed in a
This is why we think that news from the Indian Ocean island
of Mauritius that Sadc, of which Zimbabwe is a key member, has not
only ratified but also adopted new guidelines and principles on
democratic elections could only have been greeted with a deep sigh of relief.
It gives cause for hope when people did not have any high hopes for it. Up
until now, the longer the people waited for comprehensive electoral changes
the less they hoped. It brings with it a sigh of relief for Zimbabweans who
felt that free and fair elections could be a long reach but will now take
comfort in that it is not just a question of being a signatory but respecting
the spirit and letter of the guidelines that should underline the most
decisive rupture with the reproachable bloody past.
refreshing winds of change blowing through the rugged regional political
landscape signal the proverbial silver lining in Zimbabwe 's dark political
cloud for people yearning to be rid of a violent past and the emotions their
historical situation prescribed. Adherence to the guidelines will mean that
Zimbabweans, for whom even a single death due to political violence is one
too many, will not have to suffer the anguish that political violence at
election time visited on the nation.
The long-awaited changes'
obvious merit is that the guidelines are not, as is usually the case with
such documents, punctuated with high-sounding phrases and empty declarations
but have real content. They go beyond just electoral reforms and in fact
demand more open, democratic and responsive governments.
also heartening to note that Sadc, previously seen as a watchdog that not
only sleeps on the job but which also barks more than than it bites, is
taking a more assertive approach. Thabo Mbeki, the South African President,
is on record as having said that those that do not abide by the new
guidelines and principles would be booted out of the regional body. This is
the way to go.
Those who stifle democratic space and do not want to
renounce their monopoly on power or at least keep power in a democratic way,
should be squeezed until they conform to the regional electoral guidelines
We say so because there should not be a gap
between the democratisation of the SADC community and its new values, on one
hand and the anti-democratic nature of some of its member states who
have totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, on the other. Such a hardline
stance would not only give enough teeth to the regional grouping but also
call to account those governments that signed the document peremptorily
because they never thought that some day the guidelines and principles would
have to be fulfilled. Only this way, will the changes not be viewed as
nothing more than paper reforms.
tobacco yields have fallen drastically over the past five years and it is
estimated that the country will realise 750 000 kg of the crop this year,
down from a peak of 8.2 million kg in 1999.
Speaking at an Air
Cured Tobacco Association (ACTA) congress held last week, association
president George Molebaleng said the whole tobacco industry was going through
extremely difficult times and burley tobacco farming was worse.
Molebaleng said many farmers were abandoning burley tobacco farming because
of the poor prices being offered for the crop.
"I am strongly of
the opinion that the most important reason for the reduction in the size of
the burley crop is the poor price offered which does not make it financially
viable to the farmer," Molebaleng said.
The ACTA president also
said that flue-cured tobacco was offering attractive returns and as a result
many small and large-scale farmers had abandoned burley tobacco
He cited Burma Valley in Manicaland as an example of an
area where many farmers had resorted to flue-cured tobacco and he warned that
if this trend continued, "it (Burma Valley) soon might not grow any
However, Molebaleng said burley could still
be successfully produced despite the challenges so long as right incentives
and financial assistance were provided.
He also urged farmers to
enter into direct contracts with farmers with buyers where, hopefully, they
would be provided with some financial assistance.
flue-cured tobacco is also expected to fall by 75 percent this season from
237 million kg in 1999 to around 60 million kg.
In 2002, the
country earned US$226 million from tobacco exports - a 20 percent decline
At its peak in 1999, tobacco netted US$600 million
before the government's chaotic land reform exercise which kicked off in
February 2000 and saw most commercial farmers, who produced 90 percent of the
crop, being evicted to make way for the landless blacks.
decline in tobacco output has had a ripple effect on Zimbabwe's agro-based
economy, as tobacco is the country's largest foreign
Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and
accounts for at least 40 percent of the gross domestic product and also
provides at least 60 percent of inputs used in the manufacturing
At its peak, the tobacco industry employed 800 000
workers in the country but it has since decreased by two-thirds.
drought years, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been pivotal in the
distribution of food to the hungry, in giving social assistance and in the
provision of safety nets to communities under distress.
evidence is there for everyone to see. NGOs have bee critical in the
provision of training, civic education, rehabilitation,
leadership development, environmental protection, promotion of sustainable
development, HIV/AIDS support programmes, caring for orphans, provision of
legal aid, human rights education and protection and small-scale agricultural
support, among many other development programmes.
In most cases,
NGOs compliement government efforts and stand ready to give critical
solidarity to governments in many countries. In Zimbabwe, the NGO sector is
major contributor to economic development, employment and
One needs to do an analysis of the contribution of
NGOs to national revenues. It is an employment sector which the government
will be better advised to promote rather than under mine if it cares about
the welfare of the country and its people as it routinely
In many places, the NGO sector has been at the centre of
calling for social justice in development, challenging the global economic
(dis) order, campaigning for debt relief for poor countries, and demanding
accountability from inter-governmental institutions such as the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Bank on
the one side and national and local governments on the other.
saw how the Seattle anti-WTO demonstrations raised the issue of trade and
economic justice, while the Washington demonstrations against the Word Bank
and IMF-supported structural adjustment programmes gave prominence to social
movements and NGOs calling for global economic justice, equitable and fair
trade as well as human-centred development approaches.
The Group of
Eight developed countries, the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO have
all had to rethink where they meet and how they meet because civil society
and social movements have taken an active interest in these meetings and have
voiced their concern to the point of almost wanting to disrupt
We have seen pitched battles between the police of host
countries in Genoe, Prague, and Washington as protests have been mounted
around global injustices brought by the uneven and unequal globalisation
phenomenon. Developing countries have found new allies in the form of NGOs
protesting against the programmes being promoted and driven by the World Bank
and IMF, the WTO and other global insutuions.
Nations, in many of its General Assembly resolutions and conventions,
acknowledges the role of civil society in the promotion of human development,
environmental and human rights protection, democracy and good governance. The
Millennium Development Goals are very clear in this regard.
Successive human development reports by the United Nations
Development Programme acknowledge this critical role of civil society.
Zimbabwe's own human development reports from 1998 onwards acknowledge the
critical role of civil society, which is constituted by NGOs and social
movements, in development.
The African, Caribbean and Pacific
(ACP)-European Union Cotonou Convention, the successor to the Lome IV
Convention, acknowledges the critical role of non-state actors in
development. In fact, the whole concept of decentralised cooperation is an
affirmation of the role of civil society in development.
ACP countries have benefited from development assistance channelLed via the
avenue of non-state actors, through the framework of decentralised
cooperation. The African Union, in its New Partnership for Africa's
Development (NEPAD) framework and in its constitutive Act, acknowledges the
role of civil society in development.
Democracy and good governance
are seen as the pillar of the NEPAD and the peer review framework is seen as
an innovative way of self-policing in pursuit of good governance and
Why the NGO Bill?
One of the mischiefs that
the NGO Bill seeks to regulate is the issue of registration. The government
would like to register every NGO under one law. Private voluntary
organisations (PVOs) registered in terms on the current PVO Act, trusts
registered with the High Court in terms of the trust laws of Zimbabwe,
international organisations doing their business based on memoranda of
understanding with various ministries of government are all supposed to come
under one law, based on a narrow definition of NGOs.
lies in the attempt to create a registration regime that excludes instead of
including, a registration regime that outlaws certain organisations whose
mandate is human rights and governance, and a registration regime whose real
purpose is to de-register in stead of registering.
mischief that the government purportedly seeks to deal with is the regulation
of activities of NGOs so that it has greater control of them, policing them
to ensure compliance with their own constitutions and the general wellbeing
of the sovereign state of Zimbabwe, among other things.
Herald of April 5 2004, the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Paul
Mangwana, is quoted as saying;
"Some NGOs and churches are causing
too much confusion the country because they are converting their humanitarian
programmes into politics . . . The government cannot allow that to happen, so
we are saying they should go under scrutiny where we revise the modalities of
their operations in the country."
This is a transparent display
of the real intentions of the government. Politics - whatever the government
means by that - is for our leaders the preserve of some selected few, to be
The identification of foreign funding as a key
problem is faulty and mischievous. It is premised on the false assumption
that NGOs are the ones taking the money that is being denied to central
The government seeks to ban NGOs that receive foreign
funding if their primary purpose is the promotion of human rights and
governance. This is shameless and dangerous. The government is treating
governance issues and promotion of human rights as criminal activities that
cannot funded by anyone.
The liberation struggle sought to
install a regime that would promote good governance and human rights. NGOs
working to promoting these are doing so in pursuit of the values, ethos and
norms of the spirit of human liberation. To try and restrict people from
pursuing an internationally acclaimed good such as human rights promotion and
good governance is not only to violate United Nations conventions and General
Assembly resolutions but is to attack the very basis of the democracy that so
many lost their lives for. It is to attack the very constitution of Zimbabwe,
which guarantees rights and freedoms to all people.
that NGOs need to be accountable, to respect their constitution, submit work
plans to a council appointed by a minister and the thought that this will
improve efficiency and transparency in the sector is as insincere as it is
Giving too much power to a government minister, with all
that we now know of how power makes some drunk, is neither an attractive
option nor one that inspires confidence in the NGO sector. We have seen how
Tafataona Mahoso and the Media and Information Commission have transformed
themselves into some kind of gods among journalists and media house owners.
The NGO Council is a cousin of the media commission and will certainly take a
lot of notes on how to deal with "errant" subjects.
the Bill serves political rather than administrative interests.
Tongai Muchena is an independent writer and member of the Zimbabwe Economics
Society. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those
of the society.
"What Kirsty Coventry taught the
nation" is a good title for a book someone could write in the future about
the young athlete who has single-handedly put Zimbabwe on the world map at
the Olympic Games in Athens.
The 21-year-old United States-based
university student has enabled Zimbabweans to once again experience, after a
very long time, how good it is to feel good about their country.
After years of being force-fed a monotonous diet of poisonous and vitriolic
propaganda that divides the world starkly into white and black blocs of THEM
against US, Zimbabweans were only too happy to embrace a "good news" story
that spoke for itself.
No cunning and deceptive embellishments were
necessary to tell the story of Coventry's dazzling success on the world
stage. Her achievement of excellence has made us all feel that we are part of
the community of nations.
And if we are honest with ourselves,
hearing the Zimbabwean national anthem being played on global television
broadcasts triggered a groundswell of pride and patriotism that a million
words of propaganda on our pariah state sovereignty can never
One lesson we can learn from Coventry's achievements is that
we can only be genuinely proud of success achieved fairly by playing by the
Not many of us, I am sure, would have wanted to be
associated with the young and talented athlete if she had thrown a mighty
tantrum in Athens, demanding the bending of the Olympic Games rules to suit
her particular needs as someone from a sovereign state.
time Coventry won any of her three medals, I jumped about like a kid,
shouting words of praise and admiration at my television. At these moments, I
neither cared what colour this young ambassador was nor gave a damn what her
parents' politics might be. Lesson number two: success is sweet and good for
Zimbabwe regardless of who achieves it on behalf of the nation.
Imagine how many own goals we score against ourselves and how many achievers
are held back when politicians resort to the pettiness of excluding certain
segments of the population from participating in various fields of endeavour
on the basis of their colour or political affiliation.
achievement of excellence also reminded us of the importance and integrity of
spontaneity as opposed to stage-managed expressions of one-sided politically
correct views. Even the head of state, President Robert Mugabe, was moved to
send a congratulatory message that was broadcast by ZTV.
President, the nation would appreciate more spontaneous gestures like this
that show you understand and feel ordinary human emotions like the rest of
us. Up to date, your combative propagandists have barricaded you behind a
wall of angry epithets from which we glimpse you as a remote and aloof
Now that this young athlete has charmed you out, don't go
back to that cocoon which keeps you out of touch with the aspirations of
The Athens Olympic Games were attended by
athletes from 202 nations. It was a truly "rainbow" gathering of humans of
every hue, language and culture. Such a diversity of languages is represented
in Athens that it must be a challenge for the radio and TV commentators to
pronounce the more exotic names of some of the athletes
Something worth remembering for us in Zimbabwe is that
all 202 countries represented in Greece are sovereign states. However, none
of them advertise or wear their sovereignty on their sleeve as our
government officials do here at home. What is so special about Zimbabwe's
sovereignty that it has to be rammed down people's throats ad
The truth is that "sovereignty" is being used as an excuse
for the government to avoid tackling problems that other nations are not
afraid to confront. But how long can our rulers bury their heads in the sand
in a bid to live by their own rules in a world that is becoming more united
by universal democratic values?
At the time of writing this
piece, Coventry had yet to arrive home to present her medals to the nation.
So far, her moment of glory in Athens is being milked for all it is worth on
local radio and television. This has remained tolerable for me only because
it is not being used to gloat or deceive in a bid to gain political mileage
for a political party.
One last lesson to be learned from
Coventry's Olympic feat is that it is more politically astute to use such
dazzling moments as a rallying point to untie the nation rather than to
polarise the populace as we have seen too often in the past. Welcome home
Kirsty and thank you for rekindling some nostalgic feelings in us and
reminding us of some truths we can only continue to ignore at our peril as a
Our Constitution has a provision that
allows for the existence of traditional leaders and, as such, the government
passed the Traditional Leaders Act 25 of 1998, which replaced the colonial
Chiefs and Headman Act to comply with requirements of the country's supreme
Traditional leaders are, therefore, part and parcel of our
law, co-existing with other local leaders such as councillors, whose
existence emanates from both the Constitution and variously constituted
statutes currently in existence.
But since the advent of
colonialism, which ushered in modern-day constitutional governments, chiefs
and their kith and kin have never played any meaningful role in substantive
governance issues. Their absolutism in terms of power was usurped by
contemporary national governments and, since then, they have been wandering
in the political wilderness, groping for openings to get power.
Their role has mainly been ceremonial because the law delegates to them
trivial judicial and administrative matters.
The Customary Law and
Local Courts Act (Chapter 7:05) is there to deal with customary matters. It
provides for the existence of magistrates and presiding officers. The
government has therefore attempted to have a dualisation of customary law
tribunals, if we consider chiefs' judicial powers in the Traditional Leaders
However, while the majority of judicial officers under the
former Act are legally trained, traditional leaders lack such judicial
training. It also appears that there have been no seminars or crash courses
that have been staged to acquaint chiefs and their headmen with basic
modern-day judicial knowledge. They, therefore, continue to operate, albeit
dealing with trivialities, effectively as kangaroo courts.
wonders at the logic behind having, on one hand, a traditional court with
trained magistrates and presiding officers and, on the other, one with at
times illiterate, unsophisticated, aged chiefs and headmen.
also find that traditional leaders have meaningless administrative duties.
Such duties have been thrust on them despite the existence of local
government machinery, in the form of governors, provincial and district
administrators as well as local councillors. The duties of the latter are
well defined, and recognisable, while those of chiefs are conspicuously next
The reason why traditional leaders have found themselves
being sidelined to meaningless, peripheral matters is because they are
Contemporary constitutionalism and
democratic setup has pushed asunder traditional leadership role-playing,
almost rendering it redundant. The attempt to reconcile this institution with
modern-day administrative machinery is not bringing any noticeable
In Europe, the fight to wipe out traditional
leaders, as represented by monarchs, started with the French Revolution of
In Russia, a cruel and arrogant Tsar was deposed by
communists in 1917.
Throughout Europe and many other progressive
parts of the world, traditional leaders have been elbowed out of political
systems. Where they still exist, they have been given ceremonial powers. Only
the conservative British and Swaziland still cling to the feudalistic
monarchs. However, the Queen of England's powers have been pruned and she is
no longer an absolute monarch like King Mswati.
astonishing that while some countries flushed out the institution of the
traditional leader more than 200 years ago, our own government is seen
vigorously attempting to explore ways of consolidating the position of
This is because our politicians appear to prefer political
expediency rather than economic expediency. They obstinately refuse to
realise that only sound economic policies shall redeem us from our current
Traditional leaders are a remnant of
feudalism who belong more to the distant past than the present. The
government must not, therefore, be seen spending valuable resources on
individuals in desperate search for elusive political glory.
Parliament, chiefs have found seats as direct political appointees. This is
in terms of Section 38 (1) (C) of the Constitution.
appoints 10 of their representatives on the advice of the Council of Chiefs.
And because these 10 owe their political life to the President, they always
of necessity support the ruling party in Parliament.
None of these
traditional leaders has been seen initiating and/or participating in
meaningful debates. Their most prominent role has been to warm the benches
and wait to raise their heads when told to do so in support of at times
Chiefs and headmen, as well as
village heads, who in their official capacity take sides in the political
game, embarrass, degrade and tarnish their office. This is because the
sanctity and dignity of a traditional leadership demands political neutrality
in modern-day politics.
A reflection back into history will show
that our chiefs easily get swayed by any existing political tide. During the
colonial era, a number of them formed a satanic partnership with colonialists
and zealously supported the oppression of their own people.
noticeable exception is the late Rekayi Tangwena, who unflinchingly and with
unparalleled dedication defended the rights of his subjects against the
machinations of the colonialists.
During the colonial era, chiefs
and their headmen eagerly collected taxes and were the eyes and ears of the
colonial government in detecting revolt and suppressing it. To some extent,
history always repeats itself, as traditional leaders have at times had a
tendency to work against the interests of their own people.
time might be nigh when traditional leaders must be jettisoned from
government because they are irrelevant excess baggage. The law must exist and
provide for institutions that are consistent with
As observed earlier, the juxtapositioning of
chiefs with district administrators, governors and councillors is an
unnecessary duplication. Chiefs are illiterate, they lack the training in
matters of governance and only exist to confuse and gobble tax payers'
In 2003, the government passed a statutory instrument
increasing chiefs' allowances. It has gone to the extent of providing them
with vehicles when hospitals lack ambulances and the police service has
no sufficient vehicles to operate effectively.
misplacing of resources has been the hallmark of the government's practice
lVote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu
& Chikowero law firm.
IT IS a real-life Dogs of War plot that
Frederick Forsyth or Graham Greene might have found too preposterous to try
to sell as a novel.
An Eton-educated Scots Guardsman, who happens to be
the son of an England cricket captain, allegedly takes a million dollars from
the son of a renowned British prime minister to overthrow a cannibalistic
African dictator in an oil-rich former Spanish African territory with the
help of South African mercenaries.
Believe it or not though, that is
the alleged background to the arrest yesterday of Mark Thatcher on charges of
breaching South African legislation that outlaws mercenary activities.
Thatcher was released on bail of £160,000 and ordered to reappear in Cape
Town's Wynberg Regional Court on 25 November.
The plot, had it
succeeded, might have been applauded around the world because its target,
Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of Equatorial Guinea, has an appalling
human rights record. Opponents disappear regularly in his tiny, oil-rich
state. His brother is a top internal security officer and, according to
Amnesty International and United States State Department reports, a torturer
whose minions throw buckets of urine over their victims, slice off their ears
with razor blades and rub oil into their bodies to attract soldier
But it was an alleged plot that went wrong almost from the start.
At its heart was Simon Mann, schooled at Eton and Sandhurst and who served in
the Scots Guards, the British regiment most closely associated with
the upper-strata of British society, and the SAS.
At birth, 51 years
ago, Mann, the son of former MCC president and England cricket captain George
Mann, was an unlikely candidate to end up in chains and shackles in one of
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's fetid prisons, where he languishes
It was on 7 March this year that an aging Boeing-727, purchased by
Mann's IT company, Logo Logistics, took off from a little-used airfield north
of Pretoria, in South Africa, carrying 69 men, most of them black
Angolan soldiers in South Africa's former crack foreign legion outfit, 32
It landed after darkness at Harare international airport,
taxied to a far corner of the airfield and waited for the arrival of Mann,
who had purchased a large consignment of weapons from Zimbabwe Defence
Industries, the weapons trading company of Mr Mugabe's government. Mann
failed to show up. Instead, soldiers and police swarmed on to the aircraft,
arrested the men and detained them at the notorious Chikurubi Prison, just
outside Harare, where they were joined by Mann, who had arrived in the
Zimbabwean capital a few days earlier.
Mann and his men were charged
with plotting to overthrow Mr Nguema. They have denied the charges, arguing
they were en route to the Congo to fulfil a contract to guard a mine in that
At the same time, 13 alleged fellow mercenaries, led by
Nick du Toit, a former 32 Battalion officer, were arrested in Equatorial
Guinea itself. They were accused of planning to team up with Mann's men on an
island near Equatorial Guinea before launching the coup.
reports in the Spanish media, the exiled dissident politician Severo Moto, a
resident for several years in Madrid, would have been installed in Malabo,
the Equatorial Guinea capital, within 30 minutes of the coup
The trial of du Toit and his co-accused in Malabo is expected
to be wrapped up this week. They could face death by firing squad if found
guilty of plotting Mr Nguema's overthrow.
Reports say that du Toit
admits to having met Mann and Thatcher. He said Mann brought him and Thatcher
together, but testified that Lady Thatcher's son expressed interest only in
buying military helicopters for a mining deal in Sudan.
fundamental flaw in the coup plot was that, by late 2003, it was one of the
worst-kept secrets in Africa.
Western powers are jittery about Mr
Nguema's regime. His country was once one of the poorest in Africa. Now,
after the recent discovery of huge offshore oil reserves, it is, in per
capita terms, one of the richest. It has been dubbed the Kuwait of Africa,
with the world's fastest growing economy, and is expected soon to provide 5
per cent of US oil needs. Most western countries, as well as Spain, doubt the
stability of a country ruled by a president who is widely accused of eating
his opponents' body parts and who sits on an oil output of more than 250,000
barrels a day, and rising.
He also accused Eli Calil, a Nigerian-born
Lebanese businessmen who lives in a £20 million house in Chelsea, of being
the main financier of the coup. Mr Calil and Mr Moto are friends, and Mr
Calil is also a friend of Mark Thatcher.
At some point, according to
many accounts, friends of Mr Calil are alleged to have contacted Mann and
asked him to put together the coup operation. Mann was a good potential
candidate. Despite his privileged and comfortable upbringing, he had a low
boredom threshold and a taste for adventure. He passed the harrowing
selection procedures of the SAS at the first attempt. .
from the army and established his own security company which, among other
ventures, provided bodyguards to wealthy Arabs to protect their Scottish
Highland estates. However, he was so much a member of the Establishment and
so highly thought of that General Sir Peter de la Billière, the commander of
British forces during the 1990 Gulf war, recalled Mann to uniform to be his
After the war, Mann became a mercenary soldier. He put
together a deal for the former Marxist Leninist-turned-capitalist government
of Angola that resulted in a major victory against guerrilla rebels, ending a
30-year war. The fee was more than £20 million. Mann retired to the upmarket
Constantia suburb, where his neighbour, in a £4.5 million, five-bedroom house
with swimming pool and tennis court at No 10 Dawn Street, was Mark
Affair throws up 'rogues gallery'
MARK Thatcher, Jeffrey
Archer, Peter Mandelson - the list of names associated in some way in the
tale of the alleged coup plot in Equatorial Guinea reads like a rogues
gallery of public figures the public loves to hate.
probably has the least to worry about. His involvement is peripheral at best,
though it does have echoes of his past mishaps.
The man who lost his
place in the Cabinet in 1998 for failing to disclose that he used a loan from
fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson to buy a flat in Notting Hill, London,
turns out to have rented a £500,000 one-bedroom flat in nearby Holland Park
from one Eli Calil, who is being sued for allegedly helping to fund the coup
The new Brussels trade commissioner has refused to talk about
his relationship with Mr Calil, other than to say that he paid the proper
rent personally for the flat and that he has no knowledge of any coup
For Lord Archer, things are a little more awkward. Calil, he
acknowledges, is a family friend. The Nigerian-born oil trader also is a
former financial adviser to the disgraced peer.
Documents linked to
the coup case appear to show that a payment of more than £100,000 was made in
the name of one J.H. (the peer's initials) Archer to an offshore bank account
belonging to Simon Mann, the old Etonian former SAS man turned mercenary
accused of organising the coup attempt.
Lord Archer's lawyers, however,
have insisted that he had no dealings with Mann or his firm, Logo
And then there is Sir Mark himself. Although it is by no means
his first scrape, it may yet prove to be the most serious.
came to national prominence when, in 1981, his role in securing a £600
million contract for the Cementation company to build a university in Oman
came under scrutiny.
CHRA Statement on the Mass Resignation of Harare City Councillors
The Combined Harare Residents Association applauds the
determined action of the MDC Councillors who have tendered their resignations
from Harare City Council. Their principled stand in refusing to be abused any
longer by the mugabe regime should be an example to all citizens who wish to
see a peaceful, free and prosperous Zimbabwe.
The regime's co-called
Minister of Local Government has treated Harare as his personal fiefdom and
as the property of Zanu-pf. Chombo and his cronies Mangwende and Makwavarara
have sought to deny the democratic voice of the residents who voted
overwhelmingly in 2002 against his party and for a democratic, accountable
and transparent local government. The litany of partisan interventions by the
regime is long: from the saga of Mayor Mudzuri to the electoral betrayal by
Makwavarara and others, the regime has never allowed our elected
representatives to do the job for which we elected them. The latest moves to
run the council through the back door using the so-called "advisory
committee" headed by James Kurasha in collusion with Mangwende are the final
CHRA calls upon all councillors to show solidarity with this
action. Those that refuse to do so should be regarded as members of zanu-pf.
Councillors should return to their wards and work with local residents
associations to address the needs of our impoverished people at grassroots
level. We need councillors who are embedded in the communities that elect
them, not opportunists using the people for personal gain. When we are able
to elect our Council in free and fair elections under recognised standards,
those councillors who are vana vevanhu will be elected.
upon all citizens of the capital city to reject the machinations of the
regime. No more rates until we have democracy restored in our city. We will
not give our hard-earned money to a coterie of anti-democratic, unaccountable
and opaque zanu-pf functionaries. The city is ours and we will use the power
of our pockets to reclaim it from the thieves who are sitting at Town