MDC will win poll vows Tsvangirai By Foster
oParty election campaign and manifesto to be launched in Masvingo
THE Movement for Democratic Change will next Sunday
launch its campaign and manifesto for the March general elections at Mucheke
Stadium in Masvingo where all the 120 candidates and thousands of the
party's supporters are expected to converge, the party's president, Morgan
Tsvangirai, has said. Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Standard at
his Harare home on Friday, an exuberant and confident Tsvangirai said his
party was geared to romp home to victory despite the uneven electoral
playing-field and wanton flouting of the SADC electoral guidelines by
The MDC would have the majority seats in
Parliament after the elections, Tsvangirai declared, adding: "We will have
the last laugh."
He said the MDC was now better placed to win the
elections as it had become more organised than it was in 2000 when it lost
narrowly to the ruling Zanu PF. The MDC leader said he was confident this
time around, his party would win a large number of rural seats.
the 2000 elections we did not have any structures in place. We have now put
in place structures throughout the country including in rural areas where we
have established village committees in every village," he said.
opposition leader conceded, however, conditions for the 2005 elections would
be even tougher than they were during the 2 000 elections. He said: "During
the last elections, there was no Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, (AIPPA) the Public Order and Security Act, (POSA) and there
were no militias and Green Bombers.
"Prevailing conditions make this
election even more difficult and the electoral field even more uneven than
the last time but despite all the obstacles being put in our way by Zanu PF,
we will win," vowed the veteran trade unionist with
Tsvangirai said despite the widespread perception that the MDC
had failed to make inroads into the rural areas, the opposite was true. "The
tragedy is that we are operating in an abnormal environment. That perception
has continued to grow because of the closure of some media organisations
which would have been prepared to report on the MDC's activities on a daily
basis. The public media has also perpetuated that myth but our members know
that we have gone into the trenches and the rural communities have welcomed
the MDC with open arms."
Tsvangirai said over the past two years, he
had been going into rural areas to mobilise the electorate and to set up
constituency campaign teams. "Despite being subjected to state sponsored
violence and terror, rural communities were resisting coercion to be held
captive by the militia and Green Bombers.
"The enthusiasm for the MDC
in rural areas is remarkable. The people in rural areas are saying they are
tired of Zanu PF's misrule and will not give them free reign."
to explain the growing perception that the MDC had lost steam compared to
2000, Tsvangirai said: "That is an untruth being spread by the Zanu PF
propaganda machinery. Currently, Zanu PF is going through one of its biggest
crisis following the suspension of its provincial chairpersons and arrest of
its senior members. The ruling party wants to give the impression that the
upheavals it is experiencing are non existent and that it is the MDC having
On the reason for launching the campaign in Masvingo,
Tsvangirai said: "There is no particular reason other than the fact that
Masvingo, like any part of Zimbabwe, can host the launch of the MDC
campaign. We actually had two choices for launching the campaign, Murehwa
and Masvingo but it will be in Masvingo for logistical reasons because there
is adequate accommodation facilities and a big stadium for the
Masvingo, formerly referred to as a "Zanu PF one-party province"
by the ruling party gave away Masvingo Central and Bikita West to the MDC in
the 2000 Parliamentary elections, and the MDC is hoping to win over more
voters during the launch. The opposition party hopes to capitalize on the
disgruntlement among the Zanu PF rank and file after Masvingo was sidelined
from Zanu PF's top positions in the presidium to woo more voters.
MDC nearly pulled the rug from under the feet of Zanu PF when it snatched 57
seats from the ruling party in 2000 less than a year after its formation."In
fact we had 37 seats stolen from us and we can safely say we won the 2000
elections, and that is why the courts have not even dealt with our
challenges," Tsvangirai said.
He said after lying to Zimbabweans that the
opposition was full of sell-outs, Zanu PF was struggling to regain its
credibility after its senior officials were arrested for selling Zanu PF
secrets to foreign powers. "Vatengesi vakazara muZanu PF. Vanotengesa nyika
vanhu veZanu PF. (The sell-outs are in Zanu PF).
On the issue of the
controversy that has dogged the Masvingo Central constituency, he said as
party president, he had to intervene as four primary elections had failed to
take off because of infighting.
"After verifying with our national and
district offices in Masvingo, the electoral college voted in the primary
elections and people came up with a candidate of their choice. As party
president I have to come in if some activities threaten the existence of the
He said delays in holding primary elections in St Mary's had been
created by the fact that two factions each had their own lists of eligible
He said: "The process could only go ahead after our national
organising office conducted a verification process and produced a list of
district executives who were eligible to vote in the primaries and again,
the people voted for their choice, which was Job Sikhala. There has never
been any attempt on the part of the leadership to impose
Tsvangirai said out of fear and desperation, the Zanu PF
regime was sponsoring factions within the MDC to create the impression that
there was infighting.
"Zanu PF is funding some elements to hold
demonstrations against the MDC leadership to give the impression that we are
having problems like themselves. It is also very unfortunate that a few of
our members do not want to accept that in a democratic institution such as
ours when the people vote you out of office, you should accept the outcome.
Unfortunately, some newspapers are also getting involved in the conspiracy
to misrepresent what is going on in the MDC," he said.
He said the
MDC accepted divergent opinions from its members and not those sponsored by
Moyo snubs Zanu PF campaign launch By Foster
AFTER removing Professor Jonathan Moyo from its upper echelons,
Zanu PF has been thrown into disarray after it failed to produce an election
manifesto in time for the launch of its campaign for the 31 March general
elections on Friday, The Standard can reveal.
The Zanu PF election
campaign was launched by President Robert Mugabe where he brandished a draft
copy of the election manifesto saying the final document was "not quite
ready". Moyo did not attend the launch on Friday.
The ruling party's
election campaign was supposed to be launched in Harare two weeks ago but
was postponed after the party failed to produce a manifesto.
sources in the Politburo told The Standard that there was panic at a
Politburo meeting as the ruling party's old guard struggled to come up with
A draft manifesto produced by some Zanu PF supporters
was rejected by the Politburo which described it as "very
Jonathan Moyo, who has been dumped from influential posts in
the Zanu PF Central Committee and Politburo, was largely expected to draft
the final document, sources said.
Moyo was the architect of the Zanu
PF election manifesto in 2000 and confirmed this in his CV where he wrote:
"I researched and wrote the Zanu PF Election Manifesto for the 2000
Parliamentary Elections and my draft was approved and adopted officially by
the Politburo. I also wrote a widely distributed campaign pamphlet for the
2000 Parliamentary elections entitled '15 Reasons for Voting Zanu
In the 2000 elections, Moyo says he worked with all the ruling
party's 120 candidates and provided them with campaign material including
"In 2002, I designed and led the implementation of the media
campaign strategy for the Presidential election," Moyo wrote
January, Nathan Shamuyarira, the secretary for information and publicity for
Zanu PF wrote a memo to Elliot Manyika, the political commissar appealing
for information to include in the manifesto.
"I need the following
figures for the manifesto. How many people have now been resettled in A1 and
A2 resettlement schemes and how many people are estimated to be resettled in
the next five years. I need rough estimates only. In the area of health, I
would like to have figures on the number of hospital beds available in both
urban and rural areas. How many doctors and nurses do we have and how many
are we training. How serious is the brain drain?"
When contacted by
The Standard, Moyo immediately switched off his cellphone.
denied that there were delays in producing the manifesto.
just want to create news where it does not exist. While the President was
launching the campaign, the manifesto was being printed and what is wrong
On Friday, police details and Zanu PF security officials
allegedly stormed offices of Jongwe Printers, a printing company owned by
the party, where the manifesto was supposed to be printed following
allegations that the production of the manifesto was being sabotaged by some
elements within the party.
Zanu PF security officers stood guard as
the document was being printed.
THREE members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and
a civilian were arrested by South African police and detained for one night
last week for allegedly spying on a meeting between the two countries'
powerful trade union leaders, The Standard has been told.
said South African police grilled the four intelligence operatives before
releasing them. The four were picked up after they tried to enter the lodge,
40km out of Musina, where officials of the Congress of South African Trade
Unions (COSATU), were meeting a delegation from the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) to discuss labour issues. The Standard could not,
however, establish the names of the agents but sources in Beitbridge said
the member-in-charge of the intelligence organisation at the border town,
identified only as Mhako was among those arrested. Contacted for a comment
Mhako was evasive and denied ever being arrested by the South African
"I don't know anything about that, I have not been arrested. Who
told you that?" asked Mhako before slamming the phone down.
secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe confirmed that the South African
police had arrested the four operatives .
"Initially our meeting was
supposed to be held in Musina but it had to be moved to some lodge 40km out
of Musina and that is when it was discovered that they had been following
us," Chibhebhe said.
"After the incident we had to go to Johannesburg and
board a plane because we thought our lives were in danger."
government reacted angrily to the recent COSATU visit, deporting the
delegation as soon as it set foot at the Harare International Airport. A
similar visit by COSATU last October also ended in acrimony when the
delegation was thrown out of the country.
NYANGA - Drunken soldiers last week allegedly beat up 15
members of the Movement for Democratic Change in Nyanga and frog-marched
them to the police station where they surrendered them.
Nyanga now falls under Makoni North constituency, where Manicaland Governor
and Retired Lieutenant General Mike Nyambuya is the Zanu PF candidate in the
31 March general elections. Three supporters of the opposition sustained
The supporters were accused by the soldiers of holding
a rally without permission from the army.
Army spokesperson, Colonel
Aggrey Hushe confirmed the incident that took place in Nyanga but said they
were "minor misunderstandings" which started in a beerhall.
to Pishai Muchauraya, the opposition's Manicaland spokesperson, the party
had applied for and been granted permission by the police to hold a
He said the 15 were released on the same day after the
intervention of a senior police officer identified only as Ngulube, who is
the Nyanga district commanding officer.
Muchauraya said of the 15,
Steven Kavhura sustained a deep cut on his head and had his spectacles
destroyed as the soldiers ran amok.
"The other two, Taona Bvunzawabaya
and David Masaiti were also beaten up. Masaiti is a relative of MDC Mutasa
North legislator, Evelyn Masaiti, who also confirmed the
The supporters were part of a group coming from a rally in
Ruchera Village in Nyanga when they came across the soldiers.
said there was an undisclosed misunderstanding between the opposition
supporters and the soldiers who then "took the activists to the police
"The MDC supporters were never made to write statements by the
police as there was no offence that they committed," Ngulube said.
COSATU'S handling of the Zimbabwean crisis runs the risk
of becoming irrelevant. There are many ways of undertaking a fact-finding
mission other than their "tourist" approach, which we saw last year and
early this month.
The labour movement in South Africa needs to appreciate
that certain strategies do not always work. Merely insisting on sending
delegations is not going to advance their cause and certainly not that of
the people of Zimbabwe bearing the brunt of the current crisis. The one
reason why the government is able to deal so decisively with the South
African trade unionists is because of the approach they are using. One does
not need a delegation tourist-style in order to learn about the conditions
in Zimbabwe. More importantly, it is what happens if and when they believe
they have gleaned a clearer picture of the status of the majority of the
people in this country that matters.
If Cosatu is serious about doing
anything on the situation in Zimbabwe instead of posing for cameras, let it
send one or two people who could travel incognito at different times to
gather all the evidence on Zimbabwe and then armed with this confront their
At the moment, to insist on sending delegations amid a blaze
of publicity and which in turn are publicly humiliated is to demonstrate an
unparalleled lack of creativity in their capacity to tackle a sensitive
situation as the one prevailing in Zimbabwe.
As long as delegations
are sent Zimbabwe will kick them out. How, many times does Cosatu want its
delegations deported from Zimbabwe before they realize the need to change
tactics? Where a large and cumbersome group has not been able to deliver, an
individual or two might prove more successful.
The deportations do,
however, serve only to prove and demonstrate to the world how intolerant and
terrified Harare is.
Cosatu's threats of a blockade are unlikely to be
taken seriously. After the deportation of the 13-member delegation last
October, the South African labour movement threatened a blockade in early
December, then it was moved to Christmas and the New Year holidays. We all
know what became of those threats - the hollow bark of a frightened canine.
Among the people here they have created a reputation of being long on
threats but short on delivery.
If Cosatu is really the powerful ally of
South Africa's ruling African National Congress and if it is convinced that
the crisis in Zimbabwe is worthy of their intervention, they must prod their
allies in government to talk to Harare so that the concerns they raise, on
behalf of the suffering majority, are addressed.
In approaching the
South African government, Cosatu could do well to seek from President Thabo
Mbeki and company what evidence they have had of the previous promises by
Harare to review, for instance, the repressive media laws in this country.
They were assured the laws were being amended. What Pretoria was not told
was that the amendments were to make the laws tougher. Pretoria was assured
that the ruling Zanu PF and the government were committed to talks with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). That professed commitment
is yet to manifest itself. What can Cosatu possibly hope to achieve given
Cosatu needs to review its strategy on a possible
blockade and picketing of the Zimbabwe embassy and the extent to which these
tactics are likely to be effective. These may be tactics that served their
usefulness during the 1970s anti-apartheid and UDI eras. Today's crisis in
Zimbabwe calls for different approaches.
It is curious that both
Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, which make up two-thirds of
the ruling alliance in South Africa, are apparently unable to prevail over
the remaining third of the alliance.
For the government in Zimbabwe, it
is tragic that people who claim to have fought fierce battles against a
well-equipped enemy during the liberation struggle could be so terrified by
a visit of a handful of labour activists.
The government's own history
demonstrates that no amount of effort will prevent the march of history. Ian
Smith tried all sorts of trickery to delay or stop the freedom march. Today,
the results of his futile efforts are self-evident.
can only be afraid of a Cosatu delegation because it is fully aware of its
record and legacy of excesses. If the government believes its own spin that
the situation in Zimbabwe is paradisiacal, it would only be too glad to let
outsiders come and marvel at the many wonderful achievements and its
popularity among the majority of the people.
But, the guilty are always
afraid. The government is conceding the lie that it has lived all these
years and is afraid that someone will hold up the mirror to it and thus
remind it of its own horrors of unfulfilled and broken promises and
disregard of the welfare of the very people whose support it
It is tragic that the government has demonstrated such
paranoia in handling the Cosatu delegation and is behaving like a frightened
If the government is concerned that Zimbabweans will be
influenced and corrupted by a visiting Cosatu delegation, then it reveals
profound contempt for the capacity of Zimbabweans to act and think
independently for themselves.
Cosatu needs to reassess its strategies
on Zimbabwe, while Zimbabweans must decide what their response to the
government should be. At the moment we seem to believe that outsiders are
the ones who should come and fight our battles for us.
Congress of Trade unions has threatened various forms of action but does not
appear to have the guts to stage them.
The people of the Ukraine did not
wait five years to seek redress to a disputed election. Neither did they
wait for outsiders to come and champion their cause.
No fear, no rules, no nothing overthetop By Brian
A break from politics for a while. After all, in the run up to the
elections, there'll be a glut of politicians to laugh at.
politics, motoring news - and the fact that Zimbabwe has become one the most
astonishing, interesting and amazing countries in which to take a
drive. Middle-aged Zimbabweans will remember the days when one could go down
to the Post Office and buy a little book called "The Highway Code." It was a
simple little booklet that explained the rules of the road. The government
could now save itself a considerable amount of money by revising it down to
a single sheet of paper saying, "There are no rules."
It is no secret
that drivers' licenses are now bought rather than earned and that what were
once rules are now more general sort of guidelines.
And once again, the
ugly spectre of race and gender raises its gruesome head. Many people
believe the worst offenders, the most dangerous and unruly drivers, are
those men behind the wheels of the nation's ubiquitous ETs.
true. No matter how perilous a trip in an ET, no matter how uncaring its
driver, there is a category of road user who is worse still. You will
discover this in very short order if, as Over The Top does, you ride a large
and very fast motorcycle in an effort to conserve fuel. We'll come to the
fuel saving abilities of 300 kmh machines later.
Zimbabwe's worst drivers
are white ex-farmers' wives in twin-cabs. Their ability to pull out in the
face of on-coming traffic, to stop and talk in the middle of the road, to
reverse into other vehicles in car parks, would make even the bravest ET
Still, ET drivers are bad and they are insolent. Recently
OTT, on the right side of the road on his way to Ruwa, was confronted by an
ET on the wrong side of the road. The ET was overtaking a very long line of
traffic. It flashed its lights at OTT, ordering him off the road, something
OTT refused to do, forcing the ET to come to a grinding halt. Playing
chicken on Zimbabwe's roads isn't a matter of fun, it's a matter of
necessity. We are the world champions of a pastime that has become even more
popular than football.
There's another category of driver who manages
to strike fear into the heart. Women from Harare's leafy northern suburb of
Mbaredale. Many of them drive enormous four-wheel drive machines with
careless disregard for everyone else, chatting away on their cell phones
while they travel from shop to shop and café to café.
Mercedes drivers, irrespective of colour or sex. Why is it that a Mercedes
requires three quarters of the road, no matter how wide the
Diplomats, especially United Nations diplomats, must rank almost
equally bad as ET drivers. OTT recently had the pleasure of reprimanding an
oriental diplomat and threatening him with violence for cutting in front in
a dangerous manner. Another pleasant little interlude was the sight of a Red
Cross official experiencing road rage, and then fleeing when it seemed he
might be out-manned.
Still, considerable confusion could be ended if
the authorities did away with all robots and street signs. These things
serve only to bewilder drivers because some take notice of them and others
Nor is it worth discussing the West's preoccupation with drunk
drivers. No sane person would undertake a trip entirely sober in this
country where travelling is best experienced in a fog of 12-year-old
But back to speed. The faster you get there, the sooner the fear
ends. You can travel from Jaggers to Troutbeck in 45 minutes on a motorbike,
This saves two hours and fifteen minutes of both paralysing
fear and of fuel. Therefore, in a country short of fuel (if not fear), it
makes sense to drive like hell.
Firms say confusion as Zimra introduces tax regime By our
A NEW regulation on withholding tax requiring evidence of a tax
clearance certificate in virtually every business transaction has caused
confusion in local business.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)
said in a recent notice that with effect from 1 January 2005, Section 80 of
the Income Tax Act (Chapter 23:06) had been amended such that the payer in a
transaction will be required to hold 10% of the total value of the amount
owed as withholding tax. This is in the case where the provider of goods or
services has not produced evidence that they have furnished a return under
Section 37 of the Income Tax Act.
"Those who fail to produce evidence
that they have furnished such a return will have 10% withholding tax
deducted from the amount due to them. Evidence of submission of a return
takes the form of a Form ITF 263 - Tax Clearance Certificate for Tenders.
The original copy of this certificate should be retained by the payer for
audit purposes," Zimra said in the notice.
"A payer who has withheld the
10% is required by law to remit the amount so withheld, to the Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority on or before the last day of the month, following that in
which the payment was made."
Previously, this was only required of firms
entering into contracts through the State Procurement Board, the state
tender board. However, the new requirements have been extended to cover
other private business transactions outside those conducted with Government
and its affiliates. The new amendment means that businesses will now have to
supply the tax information each time that they supply goods or
According to one top tax expert, "this means your newspaper
vendor will withhold 10% of what you owe him if you can't produce the
required tax document. I don't think Zimra has thought this thing
Businesses, including auditors, are worried at the disruptive
effect the regulation will likely have on the smooth running of business.
Apart from this worry, there are also suggestions from commerce that Zimra
is forcing private business to collect revenue on its behalf.
Election violence likely to dampen tourism By Kumbirai
ZIMBABWE'S ailing tourism industry is likely to suffer a heavy
knock from the political and social unrest that characterises the election
period, experts in the tourism industry have said.
political instability would deprive the country of foreign currency,
dampening prospects of an early recovery to Zimbabwe's economy. The elections
are slotted for 31 March and will pit the ruling Zanu PF against opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as well as several other smaller
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) chief executive
officer, Paul Matamisa, said the elections would affect revenue inflows from
tourism, as fewer people would visit the country during polling
Zimbabwe relied on visitors from overseas, a quarter of whom used
to come from the United Kingdom.
"Judging by past experience we saw a
lot of reduction in the movement of tourists," Matamisa said, "So we might
see tourists making some decisions not to travel."
executive officer, Shingi Munyeza, also fears a slump in tourism business.
He said domestic tourism, which is partly sustaining the industry at the
moment, could "freeze" as companies become more cautious.
"There is a
tendency to slow down. The movement of people for business purposes is
reduced during this period," Munyeza said.
One of the country's leading
hotel groups Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) last week warned that the
profitability of the company was being held back due to the forthcoming
elections, adding that ".the performance of the company for the second half
of the year will be significantly below market expectations".
elections have tended to be violent, a situation that scared away tourists,
costing the country enormous sums in foreign exchange revenue.
Zimbabwe's third largest earner of foreign exchange after tobacco and gold.
But a plethora of self-inflicted misfortunes has resulted in the shrinkage
of earnings from US$770 million in 1999 to US$152 million in 2004.
the 2000 parliamentary polls, the number of visitors into the country fell
by 60 percent, while some hotels experienced a 70 percent plunge in
During the same period 66 local tour operators closed
shop as rampaging gangs of war veterans and Zanu PF loyalists went on a
wholesale seizure of properties.
Besides safety concerns the tourism
sector is also severely affected by a barrage of negative publicity
surrounding the country's economic and socio-political climate.
main threat to the industry, hoteliers say, will be the orgy of violence
usually perpetrated by self-styled liberation war veterans who in past
elections clashed with tourists and other perceived sympathisers of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"The period is too
close to the upheaval of 2000 and 2002 and tourists haven't forgotten about
events that took place during this period," said one leading
Apart from the industry's troubles traditional source markets
are issuing travel warnings prohibiting their citizens from visiting Harare.
Holiday insurance companies have suspended travel cover to tourists
travelling to the country.
"We recommend travel with organised tour
operators to well-established destinations. We strongly advise against
independent travel, particularly back-packing," reads part of an advisory
from the British Foreign Office.
The United States government recently
reinforced "security fears" by advising its citizens to delay planned trips
to Zimbabwe until after the elections.
"American citizens should
consider postponement of non-essential travel until at least April 2005,"
the State Department cautioned.
Harare water supply system under threat By Emmanuel
HARARE's ground water supply system is under serious threat from
uncontrolled cultivation and sand poaching on wetlands around the city,
environmentalists have warned.
The warning comes at a time when
people have raised questions about the safety of Harare's drinking
water. Speaking after a tour of Harare's wetlands recently, Environment
Africa (EA) northern division branch manager, Barney Mawire, said wetlands
cultivation posed a serious threat to the city's drinking
Mawire said: "If cultivation on wetlands continues unregulated
chemicals such as fertilisers will also continue to accumulate in lakes
which feed the city with drinking water.
"This is mainly because the
wetlands have no time to hold water allowing for decomposition processes and
for vegetation to reduce sediments and toxins in water. As a result more
chemicals are going to be needed to purify the water."
resource experts say wetlands play vital hydrological functions such as
flood control, ground water discharge and regulating river flow.
Rural Urban Planning Association (ZRUPA) president, Percy Toriro, said there
should be careful planning before any major activity is carried out in the
"An environment impact assessment should be undertaken before
any development takes place," said Toriro, who is also Harare's Principal
He said ZIRUPA had embarked on a multifaceted approach
to create awareness among the urban farmers.
"We are conducting
training and teaching professionals (regional and town planners) in land
use, so that if they plan with the environment in mind, wetlands have a
chance for survival," Toriro said.
Harare City Council spokesperson,
Leslie Gwindi, said the council in conjunction with the government was in
the process of relocating wetland farmers to peri-urban areas.
are going to give the farmers alternative farming areas because wetlands
have problems of drainage and siltation," Gwindi said.
ZBH ventures into flower production By our own
THE financially troubled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) has
already started its ambitious horticultural operations at its Highlands
premises in order to raise much-needed foreign currency, The Standard has
Last week scores of workers were busy clearing the land
meant for the production of flowers. Others were putting final touches to
the approximately two metre-high fence to the farming plot, bordering the
Borrowdale Race Course. Over the years, the land was reserved for future
expansion of the broadcasting station.
Workers at ZBH said the flower
growing project was aimed at recouping losses the group has suffered over
the years as it tried to prop up President Robert Mugabe's beleaguered
They questioned the wisdom of venturing into "a risky
project" at a time standards at the broadcasting station have "deteriorated
heavily" and when the company was failing to pay its workers on time.
Court reprieve for private schools By our own
THE High Court has ordered the Ministry of Education, Sport and
Culture to refrain from shutting down private schools that increase school
fees without the government's approval.
In a judgment handed down
last month, High Court judge Justice George Chiweshe said shutting down
schools that increased fees without government approval contravened Section
21 of the Education Act and Section 4 of Statutory Instrument 28A of
2003. "First Respondent (Minister of Education, Sport and Culture) and Second
Respondent (secretary for education), are hereby restrained from closing
down or ordering or threatening the closure of non-government schools or
schools run by applicants by reason of any perceived or alleged
contravention of either Section 21 of the Education Act or Section 4 of
Statutory Instrument 28A of 2003," reads part of the judgment.
Association of Trust Schools (ATS) sought a final order in September last
year to restrain the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Aeneas
Chigwedere, from closing down schools or causing the arrest of headmasters,
headmistresses and chairpersons of private schools.
In May 2004, the
government shut down several private schools and arrested school heads for
"violating" the Education Act. The school heads had increased fees without
the approval of the secretary for education.
Jameson Timba, the
chairperson of ATS, said the High Court order confirms that the actions by
the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture and police to close private
schools and arrest the heads were illegal. "If someone had taken time to
read and understand the empowering Statutory Instrument 28A of 2003, then
this sad chapter in our country's education history could have been
avoided," Timba said.
The High Court order also states that all pending
cases before the courts, in respect of the May 2004 fees issue, were "dead
"In this respect, I have no doubt in my mind that our new
Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, who has made an unequivocal statement
on the need for everyone to respect the law will ensure that the relevant
instructions are given to various provincial prosecutors to avoid the
continued unnecessary harassment of our members and the waste of our limited
State resources," Timba said.
He added: "However, the information
about the High Court order has not yet filtered to the different courts and
police stations handling these cases around the country. As a result most
cases have not been dropped".
Edith Mushore, an executive member of ATS,
said the court order would remain in effect until Chigwedere gives reasons
why he says the fees charged by trust schools should be reduced.
explained that " Section 21 of the Education Act states that trust schools
are supposed to charge an amount that is reasonable for the running of a
school. This is done through compiling a budget, which is presented to the
parents, who have to vote for it.
With the majority vote from the
parents, the school then applies for an endorsement of the budget by the
secretary of education.
The secretary or the minister has no power to
reduce or increase the budget, but can give suggestions that can lead to the
reduction of the budget.
Economists warn against ex-detainee gratuity
THE Zimbabwean government's decision to award large
compensatory payments this month to former detainees from the liberation war
could have long-term repercussions, economists said.
Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mangwana,
announced last week that former detainees held by the colonial government
for more than six months from 1959 will receive a one-off payment and
educational and health benefits. The Herald reported that at least
6,000 ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees "are now set to be
rewarded for their contribution to the liberation struggle".
Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), warned the
government last year, when the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and
Restrictees Act was passed, that a large payout could throw plans to reduce
inflation off course.
The Standard reported recently that the
once-off payments would be worth $10 million each, and could amount to $60
billion. There are reports that former detainees are now scrambling to
register, which could push the number of beneficiaries to 25,000,
potentially raising the bill.
Although every person who qualifies
will be registered, only those in need of assistance will benefit from the
proposed schemes, The Herald noted.
Last week, the government also
raised the allowances and salaries of chiefs and village heads by 150
percent, with effect from January.
Most of the former liberation
war activists have remained loyal to the ruling Zanu PF, while village
chiefs have been important to the party's strength in the
Economist and member of the RBZ's advisory board, Eric
Bloch, said the payouts made more political than economic sense, with
parliamentary elections due on 31 March.
"That is blatantly an
act of vote buying ahead of elections in March, and that will have a
negative impact on the government's deficit, as it will have to resort to
more borrowing. The decision will counteract the bank's efforts to fight
inflation," Bloch said in an interview. - IRIN.
Zanu PF's latest gimmick: Women By Priscilla Misihairabwi
& Grace Kwinjeh
HAVING thoroughly messed up the land distribution
process, Zanu PF has a new target - women.
In a desperate bid to deal
with the twin problems of succession and growing national unpopularity, the
ruling party has found a scapegoat: women. Women have become the latest cover
for the regime to implement and complete its insidious agenda of retaining
power at all costs.
During its 24 years in power, and many more years as
a party, Zanu PF has routinely neglected and marginalised the women in its
ranks and Zimbabwean women as a whole.
However, desperate to retain
its stranglehold on power, the ruling party is now making a cynical attempt
to hoodwink the public into believing it cares for the welfare of women.
Recent developments within the ruling party concerning the fate and status
of women cannot go unchallenged.
The recent history of Zimbabwe is rich
with examples of Zanu PF trying to repackage itself to gain national support
and international acceptance. In 2000, a popular movement rejected the
government-sponsored draft Constitution on principle - because the people
knew that the process was flawed, and that no worthy document could emerge
from such a process. Just as many pro-democracy activists saw through that
deceit, we must rise to the challenge and see the recent development within
Zanu PF in the same light.
Many women first became activists in the
women's movement in Zimbabwe having realised that Zanu PF had failed the
generality of Zimbabwean women.
The liberation struggle did not result in
our emancipation. In fact, as a liberation party that went through an armed
struggle, its structure and system are based on male superiority ideology:
From the onset we need to demystify the appointment of Joyce
Mujuru as Second Vice-President and the status of Zanu PF women as a whole.
The patriarchal nature of Zanu PF has ensured that no strong woman in her
own right has emerged out of the Zanu PF system before now. This is also why
the question of gender equality, both nationally and within the party,
It must first be understood that Mujuru is only
acceptable to President Robert Mugabe as his Vice president because she does
not threaten his hold on power, either nationally or within the ruling
party. She has been propelled to the party's top most position precisely
because she poses no threat to any of the distinct factions engaged in a
bitter power struggle within Zanu PF. These include the Zapu faction,
Emmerson Mnangagwa faction and, of course, the Mujuru faction led by her
Putting Joyce Mujuru in the Vice presidency does not
change the fact that Zanu PF remains the same dictatorial regime with
nothing to offer the people of Zimbabwe. It is still the source of our
misery. Women and children form the majority of the three million people in
need of food aid. They are the victims of the collapsed education system and
those experiencing the effects of the crumbling health sector. They continue
to suffer as a result of Zanu PF's bankrupt policies, and the party's sole
interest in retaining power at all costs.
Reform of a corrupt
political party or system does not come with appointing a woman. Mujuru's
appointment does nothing to address the real questions of governance and
democracy. The crisis confronting Zimbabwe is not about the biology of those
in the governing hierarchy, but their ability to deal with critical national
If one examines the way the new quotas for "women's empowerment"
are being handled, it becomes clear that Mugabe is in control. There was no
democratic process of nominating or selecting constituencies for women. The
women being put in the so-called constituencies set for them are simply
replacing Mugabe's enemies. The absurdity of the whole process becomes
evident when we see that women form the majority of those protesting against
the imposition of "women's constituencies".
Even those women who have
been in parliament in the past 24 years, it is clear that they have operated
within a framework defined by the men - hence their failure to push the
women's agenda at a broader national level.
If this is the behaviour of
Zanu PF, what is the lesson for women in the alternative movement, MDC? We
are fighting the same beast, patriarchy, which transcends every aspect of
our lives - at home, in church and even in the political system we belong
As we struggle within the MDC, we are clear that patriarchy is an
enemy we will fight within and outside as we refuse to play junior partner
to our male counterparts. It is important that our colleagues understand
that the issue of gender power relationships cannot be separated from the
whole fight for human rights and democracy.
Therefore, we remain
cognisant of the fact that in the alternative movement we have a twin
struggle. We must remain vigilant in transforming our national political
system into a people centred one. Internally we must ensure that our party
lives up to its promises and moves towards a better life for all women in
Zimbabwe, regardless of their political affiliation.
This commitment is
made at many levels. Within the MDC, there is a grassroots women's agenda.
Our National Women's Assembly, held in Masvingo in October 2003, passed a
resolution stating that one third of all MDC posts throughout all MDC party
structures will be reserved for the nomination of women candidates. The
National Executive and National Council adopted the resolution unanimously.
On top of this we have mainstreamed gender in all party
Nationally, as MDC women we will continue to fight for
democracy and human rights for all Zimbabweans. We will carry the burden of
arrests, torture and rape from an illegitimate and evil
Likewise, we will continue to insist that our own system does not
do to even one woman what Zanu PF has done to Zimbabwean women.
achieve that we call upon our allies in civil society, the region and the
international community to stand with us as we push the MDC women's agenda
Health crisis runs much deeper sundayopinion By Dr P.
I was very pleased to see the headline "Harare Hospital in
Intensive Care" in The Herald of 26/1/05. I was very pleased because at last
someone has noted that things are not well at Harare Hospital.
however, want to point out something that was missed in the article; the
quality of care that is offered in government hospitals in general. The
attitude of the health workers in Zimbabwe now is that of paid
mercenaries. Most of the health care workers, starting at the top and
filtering to the bottom, are no longer interested in providing quality
medical care for the patient. The majority of health workers in Zimbabwe
just do not care anymore and the patients are being short
The majority of health workers and Ministry of Health staff hide
behind the excuse of "shortage of staff and equipment" when in fact they are
just plain lazy or looking for a way to extort money from
The Ministry of Health is not helping at all. The monitoring
system for health workers is non-existent. Doctors can disappear on duty by
10AM and no one calls them to be accountable.
How many times have
patients presented to casualty at Harare Hospital and most other government
hospitals throughout the country and no doctor could be found to attend to
I shall demonstrate how the Ministry of Health and Child
Welfare and health workers have contributed to the demise of a functioning
health system, as we know it.
The much talked about referral system
is non-existent. (The referral system is whereby if a patient can not be
managed at a clinic he/she is referred to the next level- district/mission
hospital, then to the provincial hospital and finally to the central
If a patient is taken by ambulance to the next level of care
the ambulance driver is told by a very rude nurse to take the patient to
Harare Hospital and not to bother them.
The doctor at this level does
not bother to check the patient and see whether they can do something to
stabilize the patient before further transporting the patient. If it is a
maternity patient she will travel more than 500 kms from her home while
having labour pains.
It is not difficult to see what typically can happen
to the mother or the baby to be born. Many times patients are told to find
their own transport because the government hospital has no functioning
ambulance or it is being used for non-medical reasons by the people in
Most patients referred to central hospitals come back to the
district hospitals without anything being done. Most doctors in the
peripheral health centres have the daily frustration of seeing orthopaedic
(bone problems) and urology (kidney problems) patients coming back to them
without anything being done at the central hospitals.
patients, urology and orthopaedic patients as well as some medical patients
are sent back without proper tests and investigations being done on
As a doctor who works in a peripheral hospital, if I decide to
operate on such patients without adequate staff and equipment (as determined
by the Health Professions Council) and something happens to the patient I am
at risk of losing my licence and career. Everyone will be clamouring for my
head - the relatives, the Health Professions Council and the Ministry of
Health, so why bother to help poor patients who have no
Should they continue to suffer for years because the
referral system doesn't work?
In Zimbabwe, if you want to go the
extra mile you end up getting your fingers burnt by those who don't really
care what happens to poor patients. In fact, they want you to refer the
patient to their private practice where they can make $10-20 million for
The best move is not to do anything, that way you are safe
and you "fit in" to the health system that does nothing to improve the lives
In the health system "tsitsi dzinotsitsirira." When things
go wrong (sometimes patients do die even with the best care possible)
everyone is there reminding you of the referral system which is non-existent
and which you have sent the patient through 10 times with nothing being
done. You are reminded by other "health professionals" it is better to just
let the patient die!
Working in the periphery is really disheartening
to some of us who are soldiering on. We haven't left the country for greener
pastures, but are concerned enough to help the poor rural people of
Zimbabwe, and yet constantly we are being discouraged by other health
You find that a patient has been discharged from a
teaching (central) hospital without proper investigations/ tests/ treatments
being done and without proper discharge summaries.
This attitude will
never change even if you put millions of dollars into the system so that
sinks and elevators are working properly.
March 31: Zimbabwe's day of reckoning By Bornwell
ONCE again, the season of election manifestos is upon us. Zanu
PF launched its own in Harare last Friday. MDC is to follow suit in Masvingo
next Sunday. Yet another round again - what difference will it make, most
Zimbabweans will be asking. And rightly so given the fact that there has
been no end to the Zimbabwean national crisis since 2000.
cold comfort that most Zimbabweans appear to be resigned to their fate - at
least on the surface. They seem to have lost faith in the ability of the
system to change things for the better. In both 2000 parliamentary elections
and 2002 presidential election, there was a feeling in the air that change
must come. Not so any more.
The international community had intense
interest in the outcome of those two elections. But now there is a kind of
lassitude and weariness about the Zimbabwean situation within the
international community. We have been forgotten!
Even our brothers
and sisters in the Sadc region are not showing any interest or enthusiasm in
our elections as they did in 2000 and 2002 - a sad and regrettable situation
indeed. Both at home and abroad, people appear to have grown tired of our
The worst thing that can happen to a troubled country like
Zimbabwe is for the citizens to lapse into a laissez faire attitude and
withdraw from the political process. More dangerous is for the voting public
to throw their hands in the air in frustration and despair.
challenge, therefore, is to tell oneself that one is engaged in a democratic
process that is ongoing and that nothing is permanent in this
In fact, there are two main challenges as the clock ticks
towards March 31. The first is to strongly believe that it is the vote that
counts. That apathy is the No. 1 enemy of change. The second is to vote for
a party which has a clear vision and a plausible blueprint for the future; a
party that has the drive, the energy and the willingness to fix the
We cannot continue to be in permanent crisis as a
country. The 2005 election is critical in the sense that a solution has to
be found to the national crisis. The major issue here is about the need for
change. Whether through MDC or within Zanu PF itself it does not matter.
What is needed is a party whose promise of change has real meaning for the
long-suffering people of Zimbabwe.
I hold no candle for either party,
Zanu PF or MDC. I hold a candle for a party with a fresh vision of
leadership; a party that can restore hope and lift Zimbabweans of all races
and creeds from the economic quagmire that has been haunting this country
for the last five years.
Gideon Gono and his team at the Central Bank
deserve kudos for trying very hard to fix the 'economic problem' but he is
obviously hamstrung by the 'political problem'. The full answer to our
problems naturally lies in the hands of the political leaders.
important for political parties to focus on the real issues not theatrical
posturing. The living standards of previously comfortable Zimbabweans have
plummeted to an all time low. For ordinary citizens, daily hardships are
intense: no jobs, no money, rising prices, collapse of the health delivery
system, deliberate destruction of the education system that was once the
pride and envy of Africa and indeed the whole world, malnutrition,
poorly-clothed and an unending list of economic hardships.
Yes, before we
look beyond March 31, we have the right to assess what we have come through.
The essence of democracy is not just winning power; it is also what you have
done with that power when you were holding it.
It is easy to blame
somebody else for one's problems rather than coming to terms with them.
Accepting responsibility and accountability for one's actions and for a
system that has gone badly wrong is the starting point on the road to
recovery and renewal. Dubbing a serious election an anti-Blair election just
does not wash. No sane Zimbabwean can buy this sort of thing.
slogans is the senseless act of fanatics or manipulated mobs. It connotes
mindless repetition which does not add value to anything. As vacuous war
cries during the liberation struggle yes to slogans but 'no thought' when
you are trying to convince voters with concrete facts. Zanu PF must do
better than this. Merely shouting anti-Blair and anti-Bush slogans will not
create jobs nor bring food on people's tables.
Zimbabweans can only
assume that the old guard in Zanu PF remains wrapped in the time warp of
liberation politics unable to realise and appreciate that the world has
since moved on and that the time for liberation politics to end is at the
very moment of liberation. For President Mugabe to live in the past is
understandable. Forty-five or so years is a very, very long time in politics
- almost an eternity in fact. It is perhaps difficult to be anything but an
anachronistic liberation leader 25 years after liberation has been
Yes, I would certainly be the first to concede that the West
did a lot of bad things to Africa and that many of the present pathologies
that we are facing are as a result of the legacy of colonialism. But we also
must realise that today much of the responsibility of our present
predicament lies at our own feet. This is largely the framework within which
the seriousness of the current crisis and challenges we are facing must be
seen and understood.
But we have come to the stage in our country
where the issue is whether we make change 'our friend and not our enemy'.
This is the main challenge that the ruling Zanu PF party faces.
is naturally in a change mode given the fact that they are a party presently
in the political wilderness wanting to go into power. The sooner Zanu PF
appreciates that change is inevitable, the better for them. The march of
time takes care of that. Either the ruling Zanu PF party masters change or
change will inevitably master the party. It is just that simple!
a growing recognition that political legitimacy, stability, security,
progress, freedom and democracy and general sanity must return to
The March 2005 parliamentary election is yet another golden
opportunity to make real that promise. It is a huge mountain to climb but it
can be done. It is pertinent to remind ourselves that as Zimbabweans the
only power that we have to change things is our vote. Never mind the
unevenness of the electoral playing field but going out in full force to
vote can and will make a big difference.
Apathy should have no place
in people's scheme of things. It is encouraging that zero tolerance has been
declared on political violence from whatever quarter. Our message is that
rhetoric must be genuinely translated into practice and reality on the
Once the ruling Zanu PF gets used to the idea that governments
and sitting presidents can be voted in and out of power through the ballot
and the verdict of the polling booths, they can stop feeling threatened by
this 'monster' called MDC and move in the direction of normalising what to
all intents and purposes is an abnormal political environment in our
Zimbabwe deserves better leaders. This was once a beautiful
country which Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans alike enjoyed and with a very
sound infrastructure. All that has been massacred while countries in the
region such as South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique are moving ahead
proudly and successfully.
The race to determine the direction in
which our country should be moving is now entering the home stretch. What
some of us do best is analyse, comment and warn. The rest is up to the
generality of Zimbabweans to vote wisely - come judgment day on March
Let us not leave a terrible legacy to our children
MDC CAUTIOUSLY WELCOMES GOVERNMENT
PLANS FOR ACCESS TO THE ELECTRONIC MEDIA
Access to the state
controlled media is one the MDC's key minimum standards for a credible
election and a standard that is enshrined in the SADC Protocol on
The Government has been under intense pressure from the MDC
and the people of Zimbabwe to open up the state media to the broad spectrum
of views and opinions that exist in our society.
The announcement by
the Minister of State for Information and Publicity, that the Government
will next week publish regulations allowing all political parties
'reasonable' access to the electronic media, is theoretically a step in the
The real test of the government's sincerity on this
issue, however, will be how the new regulations work in practice and the
time-frame allowed for opposition parties to access the electronic
At this stage we are cautiously optimistic. However, whilst we are
encouraged that the Government has finally bowed to pressure from the people
and acknowledged, in principle, the right of all political parties to access
the electronic media, we are yet to be fully convinced of the sincerity
behind this latest reform measure. The Government remains intransigent on
the issue of equal access to the state controlled print media which
continues to reject adverts from opposition parties and misrepresents
comments by opposition leaders and politicians.
All of the
reforms that the Government has introduced thus far to improve the
transparency and fairness of our electoral process have been cosmetic and
primarily aimed at tricking the region into believing it is complying with
the new SADC standards.
Following yesterday's announcement we expect to
be able to have access to the electronic media immediately after the
regulations are gazetted next week so that we have sufficient time in which
to communicate our manifesto to the electorate; a manifesto which sets out
our agenda for a new beginning and provides a credible programme for job
creation and ensuring all Zimbabweans have access to food.
government is playing games and only planning to allow opposition parties
airtime in the final two weeks of the election campaign then the new
regulations, whatever their merits, will be dismissed as another exercise in
obfuscation and political expediency.
Paul Themba Nyathi MDC
Secretary for Information and Publicity
Latest silence from Harare follows Mugabe's
cancellation of visit by Mbeki, Nujoma and Mosisili
Zimbabwe is resisting attempts by the Southern African
Development Community to gauge conditions in the country ahead of the
general election scheduled for March 31. Official sources said Harare was
unwilling to sanction a visit by a team of lawyers from the SADC organ on
politics, defence and security whose duty it is to inspect the electoral
legislation and conditions on the ground. Despite several appeals - the last
of which came last week - the government has failed to give the team the
necessary written invitation. Sources said the Zimbabwe government had not
responded to approaches. The latest foot-dragging follows Mugabe's
cancellation of a visit by SADC leaders, comprising President Thabo Mbeki,
outgoing Namibian President Sam Nujoma and Lesotho Prime Minister Phakalitha
Mosisili, scheduled for January 17, on the grounds that he was preparing for
the poll. Sources said crisis-ridden Zimbabwe is afraid the SADC will find
conditions in the country hostile to a free and fair election. The SADC
leadership and the secretariat are said to be working hard to resolve the
issue. "We are going to issue a statement on Tuesday," said an SADC
secretariat spokesman in Botswana on Friday. The SADC team will comprise
lawyers from South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho.
Sources said the
team would include prominent South African lawyer Kgomotso Ditsebe Moroka.
However, Moroka said on Friday she had not been officially informed of
Zimbabwe's reluctance to allow the team in. "I have heard that rumour, but I
have no official invitation or brief on that," she said. The SADC organ,
which is chaired by Mbeki, is understood to be growing increasingly anxious
at Zimbabwe's recalcitrance. Said South African Foreign Affairs
Director-General, Ayanda Ntsaluba, last week: "Zimbabwe has not given
clearance for the team and we are a bit concerned. However, they have in the
past given us the assurance and there is no reason to believe they will not
be consistent now." But it is not clear what the SADC will do should
Zimbabwe continue procrastinating. Other than declare that the elections
cannot be free and fair, they have no choice. And they are running out of
time - ideally the inspection needs to happen before candidates are
nominated on February 18 and before campaigning gets under way. Zimbabwean
Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who oversees the electoral rules, could
not be contacted for comment.
Meanwhile, Mugabe launched his
"anti-Blair" election campaign on Friday, with a barrage of attacks on
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, United States President George Bush and
his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Mugabe branded Blair a "liar" bent
on overthrowing his government by claiming there was no democracy and
respect for human rights in Zimbabwe. He also attacked Bush over the Iraq
invasion, while lashing out at Rice for calling Zimbabwe an "outpost of
tyranny". The Zimbabwe president also blasted the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change for being a "puppet" of the West.
In what appears to be a
turnabout in the ANC, Cosatu this week received a tacit nod from the ruling
party for its plan for mass action in solidarity with its Zimbabwean
counterparts. Consequently, South African workers could soon be blockading
Zimbabwean border posts as well as taking other steps. Zwelinzima Vavi,
Cosatu's general secretary, said that the federation's options included a
blockade by South African and other southern African workers of all
Zimbabwe's border crossings. Asked whether a border blockade and other
solidarity action were still being considered after the tripartite alliance
discussions this week, Vavi was adamant: "Yes, we are doing that. We are
going to our central executive committee and the Southern African Trade
Union Co-ordinating Council to endorse that." Cosatu's first announcement of
its intended mass action, after it was expelled from Zimbabwe for a second
time on February 2, met some resistance from the ANC and the government. At
the time, Membathisi Mdlalana, the minister of labour, said Cosatu's second
attempted visit was without the blessing of government, but the ANC later
did endorse the visit. It had condemned the first visit, which took place in
And while it appears that the ANC will not actively support
mass action, it has agreed not to stand in the way of its alliance partners'
solidarity mass action programmes. Vavi said three alliance secretariat
meetings this week paved the way for Cosatu's discussions with other union
federations in southern Africa about mass action in support of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). He said that the ANC had not raised any
objections to mass action at this week's discussions. "If they are against
it, they did not tell us," he said about what appears to be a breakthrough
in the tense alliance face-offs over Zimbabwe and perceptions that any
alliance action would be in conflict with the government's approach of
"constructive quiet diplomacy" to resolve the crisis. "The ANC has said
Cosatu has a right to have fraternal relationships with any other workers,"
Vavi said. "The Communist Party openly said it would support efforts by
workers to pledge active solidarity with another union."
Ngonyama, the ANC's spokesperson, on Saturday did not explicitly acknowledge
a go-ahead for Cosatu, but said: "It was not for the ANC to disagree [with
the alliance]. The ANC agrees with the plan of action of the alliance [but]
also looks at the priorities of the ANC in the context of what we would like
to see and build in the region, such as free and fair elections. The ANC
would never engage in any activities that would either directly or
indirectly stand in the way of free and fair elections and would not say or
do anything that might lead to a situation that other people outside
Zimbabwe and South Africa may read as trying to create hostilities and
pre-judge the elections' free and fairness," Ngonyama said. Mazibuko Jara,
the SACP's spokesperson, confirmed that the alliance secretariat had given
Cosatu a tacit nod. "Cosatu did not ask for approval but submitted its
proposed programme. The alliance partners agreed [on the need for] an
all-round call for solidarity with Zimbabwe, a South African contribution by
unions, churches and civil society." He said Cosatu's programme was
"narrowly" endorsed "within the understanding that all of us must make a
contribution and our efforts should complement each
Cosatu's central executive committee meets from Monday to
discuss its options for mass action, which it previously said included
intensified pickets and demonstrations such as blockades of all border
crossings with Zimbabwe and the setting up of a legal aid fund with which to
help the ZCTU by mobilising "millions of workers" in the region. A week
later, Cosatu intends meeting other regional union federations at the
co-ordinating council to finalise joint action. In a report for discussion
at the meetings, Cosatu said its Zimbabwean counterpart had raised concerns
about the fact that a number of conditions for free and fair elections were
not being met and had detailed the harassment and repression unionists in
Zimbabwe were experiencing.
Lindela deportation centre is 'for those
who do not have money'
Johannesburg - The three meter-high security
fence around the sprawling complex is almost as intimidating to new arrivals
as the dogs and the armed security guards, who yell orders to form a proper
queue at the admissions table. This is Lindela, South Africa's deportation
centre for illegal immigrants. Located in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg,
Lindela houses both males and females arrested in regular sweeps by the
South African Police Services (SAPS). The bulk of the detainees are
Zimbabweans and Mozambicans, but there are also citizens of Nigeria, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia,
Sudan, Somalia, Liberia and Zambia. Lindela is, in theory, their last
address before being deported from South Africa. Last week an IRIN
journalist, wrongly arrested by the police in Johannesburg, was a temporary
inmate of the notorious facility.
Despite its modern design,
space is at a premium in Lindela, particularly in the male wing. A room no
larger than a standard bedroom is meant to hold 18 men, but immigrants
detained during heavy crackdowns remember occasions when there were up to 54
people per room, two to three people shared the same bed, and just one
toilet. "Most of these toilets do not have functioning flushing systems, a
situation which dictates that we use them sparingly. To keep out the smell,
we drape one blanket over the toilet seat and pile whatever else we can find
on top of it," explained Mark Magwiro, a barefoot Zimbabwean detainee clad
in a dirty white shirt, which he said had not been washed in two weeks. Due
to the relatively small number of women in Lindela, the female wing is less
congested, with as few as six women sharing a large room. Besides better
accommodation, women also enjoy generally privileged treatment from security
guards and kitchen staff because they help to clean the public halls and
their own quarters. The men, on the other hand, have to compete for the few
jobs available on their side of the complex. The rewards can be a loaf of
bread, regular access to better food - a constant problem - or, allegedly,
help from security staff in arranging an escape.
The first meal of
the day includes a bowl of porridge, a thin slice of bread and a cup of tea,
served as early as 6 am. Tablets of unknown composition float in the tea,
according to the guards, these help to suppress sexual appetite. Detainees
start queuing for lunch from 11:00 am, which can take until 3.00 pm before
everyone has been served. Supper times are the most irregular, with the last
person being fed as late as 11:00 pm. For inmates who have something to
trade, Lindela offers business opportunities and a captive market. As the
guards control access to the landlines, detainees lucky enough to still have
their cellphones can charge R4 for a one-minute call. "No one is allowed to
use the phones, except at given times. Even then, one has to ask for
permission from staff or guards and it is usually denied unless they get R10
. So we provide phoning and charging services, so that detainees can inform
their relatives of their plight," said Mozambican Emmanuel Nandza. Because
charging the phones is done via illegal connections to electricity supply
lines around the complex, the going rate for a five-minute zap of power is
R5. Those doing menial jobs to earn a loaf of bread make a killing by
cutting it into small slices, which they sell to hungry fellow inmates for
as much as R3 each. Enterprising businessmen can make up to R30 per
And then there are the "resident detainees" - people who have
lived in Lindela for years, even though 30 days is the maximum period. They
are mostly Congolese, Nigerians, Mozambicans and Zimbabweans who have no
wish to return home and allegedly bribe the security guards to avoid
deportation. "It is safer here than outside. I used to be a street telephone
operator outside, so when they caught me I brought my two sets here, only to
discover that there is more demand for telephone services than outside.
Outside, one has to compete; here there is zero competition. So I thought I
would better stay here to avoid harassment and arrest outside," explained
one Congolese detainee. Claims of appalling treatment of asylum-seekers led
to a demonstration outside Lindela in November 2004, held to coincide with
the final day of a hearing into xenophobia hosted by the South African Human
Rights Commission (SAHRC) and parliament's portfolio committee on foreign
affairs. They heard a litany of alleged abuse at the centre, including heavy
beatings by the guards, an increasing number of inmate deaths, and the
denial of access to immigration officials.
Head of communications
at the Department of Home Affairs, Nkosana Sibuyi, rejected the allegations.
He said some Lindela inmates had died of pre-existing medical conditions
rather than abuse. "We are guided by country and international conventions,
which prohibit any form of ill treatment of detainees," Sibuyi told IRIN.
But, according to the inmates IRIN spoke to last week, it would appear that
little has changed since the publication of a report in 2000 by SAHRC,
exposing conditions at the deportation centre. The report 'Lindela: At the
Crossroads for Detention and Repatriation' listed poor food, overcrowding,
inadequate health services and the systematic denial of basic rights as some
of the problems needing urgent attention. "The three most reported
complaints are lack of adequate nutrition, irregular or inadequate medical
care, and systematic, forced interruptions of sleep. Similar problems, such
as general living conditions, access to information, assault and the
treatment of minors, have been added to the list of unsatisfactory
conditions at the facility," read part of the SAHRC report. Proper access to
lawyers and the right of detainees to inform relatives of their arrest were
violated by curbs on the use of the telephones on arrival at Lindela, the
However, Sibuyi rejected the allegations. "Each and
every room has an allocated number of people and it's not true we exceed
that capacity," he told IRIN. He stressed regular check-ups by health
inspectors ensured the food served was sufficient and nutritious, and any
reports of abuse by the guards was investigated and could be verified by
examining the records of the closed circuit TV system. The detainees IRIN
spoke to said corruption was also rampant among staff and guards. An
inmate's freedom could be bought, or an escape from the deportation trains
arranged for between R600 and R800. "Deportation is for those who do not
have money. Those who can pay police or immigration officers never get
registered [at Lindela]; they just wait for relatives to bring the money. In
such cases, a detainee is collected by special arrangement, on the pretext
that he is going for further questioning or to court, and freed on the way,"
said one illegal immigrant. "If I had money I wouldn't be here." Sibuyi said
he could not confirm or deny there was corruption at Lindela, but the
Department of Home Affairs had adopted a "zero-tolerance policy" and any
official found guilty would be named and dismissed.
A CABINET minister recently visited a police recreational club
bragging that the Delimitation Commission twisted constituency boundaries to
the benefit of the ruling Zanu PF, the Sunday Mirror has been
The revelation has sparked a fresh row over the alleged
manipulation of constituencies by the Commission that was appointed by the
government and has been accused of ignoring input from the
"The minister (name supplied) went to the police club where
he told senior officers that Harare Central should definitely go to Zanu PF
since the Delimitation Commission had done a 'splendid job' by ensuring that
as many voters as possible in the police, army, prisons and other security
arms fell within the area by virtue of residing in military and
quasi-military camps," said the source.
"He (the minister) also
reminded the officers that the uniformed forces officers residing in
military camps were doing so freely and of the benevolence of the
government, adding that they were also receiving free uniforms in addition
to other subsidised privileges, which he said could easily be withdrawn,"
added the source.
However, the minister denied ever addressing police
officers at the club in question. "I have not been to that place in the last
10 years and I have never addressed police officers. What you are hearing
are lies being peddled by people who are intimidated by Zanu PF, who know
they are going to lose," said the minister.
A study of the current
constituency in comparison with the previous map, and with reference to the
voters' roll, showed that Harare Central has grown in size with a
substantial voting population from the uniformed forces being added to the
Cranborne, Braeside and Rhodesville suburbs, which previously
belonged to Harare South, are now part of Harare Central. They contain
numerous military and police residential camps with thousands of voters who
could make a difference to the voting patterns in the constituency if they
were to vote for the ruling party.
Besides the three new suburbs, New
Arcadia, Hillside, St Martins, Queensdale, Eastlea South and Wilmington were
also added to Harare Central.
"The inclusion of all the other suburbs was
done because it would have been difficult to include the military camps
without incorporating these too," said the source.
Harare Central now
has a total of 13 army, police and prisons residential camps falling under
it, namely KGVI, Thomlison Depot, Morris Depot, 2 Brigade, 1 Commando
Cranborne, Harare Central Prison, 2 Provost Cranborne, Presidential Guard,
HQ CO Barracks, ZRP Braeside, ZRP Milton Park, ZRP Cranborne (Police
Reaction Group) and ZRP Rhodesville, in addition to several police posts. A
survey done by this paper showed that these places have a total of 4 120
constituents on the voters' roll. In the A-L alphabetical volume, there are
853 voters while M and N-Z have 1925 and 1342, respectively.
2003 by-election, which was marred by voter apathy, Zwizwai polled slightly
more than 3 000 votes. If the apathy persists and most of those in the camps
vote Zanu PF, the poll could swing in the ruling party's favour. The
opposition has been barred from campaigning in the uniformed forces' camps,
with authorities saying their standing orders foreclose that. However,
ruling party candidates have in the past accessed the camps. In 2003, during
a by-election following the death of MDC's Mike Auret, Zanu PF's aspiring
candidate, William Nhara was given the nod to campaign in the Thomlison
The exclusion of opposition candidates from campaigning in
the camps has caused an outcry. The candidates wonder why the soldiers,
prison officers and policemen should participate in the voting process if
the prospective legislators cannot sell their manifestos to
They charge that the preclusion flies in the face of the SADC
guidelines which stipulate that every voter should be given the chance to
fully participate in the electoral process while candidates should be given
the space to access constituents. "The Zimbabwean government is not
principled at all. They have argued that Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora
cannot vote because they can't be reached yet they are saying the opposition
cannot reach those at home, who are going to vote anyway. No contradiction
goes beyond this one," Dongo said.
"But how do they expect the
opposition to be voted when it lacks the freedom to campaign? This is part
of the strategy to regain Harare Central by Zanu PF by diluting us," she
added. Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa
recently vowed that Zimbabweans living abroad would not vote because the
country is under travel sanctions and as a result, its officials could not
travel to hostile countries.
His utterances followed the institution of
legal action by a pressure group abroad seeking the enfranchisement of
Zimbabweans living abroad, who unofficial statistics indicates number more
than three million.
Chinamasa told the Sunday Mirror that those who had
been denied entry into police camps should not complain because that is what
the standing orders spelt out.
On the issue of Nhara having accessed
Thomlison in 2003, Chinamasa said: "Why should we be talking about 2003 when
we are in 2005? There is no need to worry about that because it's past."
Complaints pertaining to constituency boundaries are not limited to Harare
Central. Evelyn Masaiti, the MDC Member of Parliament for Mutasa North
charges that the Delimitation Commission "stole" nine wards from her and
introduced unfamiliar territory to her new area.
Commission) took away nine wards from and gave me nine in an area that I was
not familiar with. That means I have to go back to the drawing board and
start campaigning in this area which is generally sympathetic to the ruling
"I wonder what justification they have, but the reason is obvious
that they want to weaken my support base. With so little time left before
the elections take place, the task of campaigning is very insurmountable,"
The same fate has befallen Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC
MP for Gwanda South. Gwanda South and North constituencies have been merged
into Gwanda, and Nyathi lost seven wards, that reportedly formed his
stronghold, to Umzingwane.
The MDC expressed worries when the
delimitation report was made public that Harare and Bulawayo, both MDC
footholds, lost a seat each, with the latter city having already lost
another in 2000.
The Delimitation Constitution argued that they were
delimiting the constituencies in accordance with the number of registered
voters, saying Harare had lost more than 50 000 voters due to urban-to-rural
However, demographic patterns reflect that Harare has been
cumulatively gaining in population over the decades.
Misihairambwi-Mushonga, the MDC MP for Glen Norah and shadow foreign affairs
minister puts the blame on the failure by the Delimitation Commission to
include other stakeholders.
"Gerrymandering could have been avoided if
the Commission had been all-inclusive," said Misihairambwi-Mushonga. "As it
stands now, we are in a quandary because we can't go back to the Commission
to complain since, understandably, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is the
one that has to deal with such matters.
"In any case, the ZEC is now
being led by the very person who headed the Delimitation Commission and how
can you ask a person to review his own work?" she added.
Chiweshe, a High Court judge, was in January announced the head of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a body that is supposed to oversee the
electoral process but will be supervised by the Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC) that has been mired in controversy over its conduct of the
electoral process in the past.
A DIPLOMAT based at the Zimbabwe Consulate in
Johannesburg, South Africa, was last week arraigned before provincial
magistrate Cremmah Chipere on a corruption charge. Edmore Magara (42), a
second secretary (finance and administration), was not asked to plead to the
charge that he contravened the Prevention of Corruption Act and was remanded
to February 24 on $500 000 bail. Prosecutor Ndabezinhle Moyo told the court
that during the period extending from April 2003 and September 2004, Magara
allegedly posted or caused to be posted an advertisement for Chris
Consultancy Services (Pvt) Limited, a company that operates in
Zimbabwe. The company is involved in obtaining birth and death certificates,
police clearance, divorce orders and marriage certificates on behalf of
clients, with charges ranging from 200 rands to 800 rands. The advert was
allegedly placed on the Zimbabwe Consulate website. Interested people would
communicate directly on the consulate telephones to get further
information. Precious Lungile Masuku, a receptionist at the consulate,
allegedly processed Chris Consultancy customers. Masuku allegedly issued
out receipts after receiving undisclosed payments in South African rands,
which she sent to Chris Consultancy. Moyo said Magara had no right to use
Zimbabwe Consulate resources for Chris Consultancy, as this was contrary to
and inconsistent with his duties as a public officer. His duties included
procurement of and payment for goods and services as required by the
mission, supervising collection, receipting and banking of any revenue and
administered the mission's account. Among the duties, were making
recommendations on the management and utilisation of funds and attending to
personnel administration. He was also tasked with compiling the station
accounts for submission to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs head office in
Harare. The State said it would produce a Chris Consultancy Services receipt
book recovered from Chris Matimura, uncollected documents returned to
Matimura and then referred to the then Zimbabwean consular-general,
Matimura's personal diary listing clients and orders and an extract of the
advert from the Zimbabwe Consulate website. During that time, Godfrey
Dzvairo, who was appointed Ambassador-Designate to Mozambique later in the
year, was the consular-general. Dzvairo was last week convicted of espionage
and sentenced to an effective six years in jail. Another diplomat, Erasmus
Moyo, who was based in Geneva, Switzerland, is currently on the run after
being recalled home to answer espionage charges.
OFFICERS from the Air Force of Zimbabwe have ordered new
farmers settled at Shuri Shuri Farm in Chegutu, Mashonaland West, to vacate
the property. The farmers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said officers
had also ordered them not to build permanent structures on the farm, their
home for the past three years, and had been told "to go back where you came
from". In interviews with The Daily Mirror, the new farmers said they felt
betrayed by the fact that they had been encouraged to move onto the property
in 2000, only to be told now to pave way for the airmen. The number of
affected families could not be immediately established. Shuri Shuri Farm -
previously known as Suri Suri - has a number of sub-farms, such as Mukuti,
Murrah Purra and Cornucopia, and lies near an army base bearing the same
name. "There are laws which protect us against eviction, because we occupied
the farm as part of jambanja (land reform programme). Now we are being told
to pave way for some other people. The soldiers should have moved in
themselves in 2000. It's like we were being used so that they benefit," said
one of those affected. Mashonaland West governor Nelson Samkange yesterday
confirmed that the air force wanted the farm, and added that if those settled
there refuse to move, they would be going against government policy. He
could not state if there was any other land identified to resettle
the farmers. "The government is saying all defence bases should have
additional land around them. The people must be resettled somewhere and in
this case, they will not be thrown into the streets. If they refuse to move,
they would be acting against government policy," said Samkange. On
accusations by people that the air force had used them to take the land from
the previous owners, the governor said: "If war veterans liberated
the country, they cannot say it's their land. They took it for all
Zimbabweans." No comment could be obtained from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
yesterday. An officer who answered its public relations department mobile
phone said they would be in a position to do so today. A sizeable number
of families in Mashonaland West, who occupied farms beginning in 2000, have
been issued with eviction notices. At New England Farm, more than 40 families
are battling against eviction in both the High Court in Harare and the
Chinhoyi Magistrate's Court after government ordered that they should pave
way for State House employees. Last week, the mayor of Chinhoyi, Risipa
Kapesa, told The Daily Mirror that his council would soon take over 14 farms
around the town for expansion purposes. One of the 14 farms had been
allocated to businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, currently in remand prison on
THE country's sole coal miner,
Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL), which is struggling to shake off a
staggering US$7 million-plus external debt, has extended its begging bowl to
government again, amid revelations that the mining concern is operating with
more than half unused capacity. The government, which has a 40 percent stake
in the company, is said to be working out additional mechanisms to strengthen
HCCL's cash position and boost its external debt servicing capacity
undermined by heavy annual losses, sources told the Business Mirror. When
probed, HCCL managing director (MD), Godfrey Dzinomwa, minced his words, but
revealed that the colliery has approached the government for
debt relief. "The issue of debt is being resolved by senior government
officials. They are the ones handling the matter and better placed to
comment," Dzinomwa said. Part of the debt was incurred in 2002 when HCCL
received about US$5.3 million from the African Export Import Bank
(Afreximbank) to finance capital expenditure on spare parts for its
antiquated machinery. The deal was brokered by the Commercial Bank of
Zimbabwe (CBZ). Already the troubled coal miner is struggling to come to
grips with staggering annual interest payments in hard currency on the
outstanding debt, which cannot be met by the company's resources, given the
negative financial results posted at the end of each accounting
period. The parastatal was last year put on a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) financial drip to expedite its recovery as capacity utilisation had
fallen way below 30 percent. The government intervention in HCCL to keep
it afloat follows repeated clamours by industry for the re-capitalisation of
the company, which had almost become a liability to firms that depend on coal
to turn their production wheels. HCCL revealed to the Business Mirror that
the parastatal has for a long time been operating way below half its full
throttle, with three of its main underground mines lying derelict due to
capital bottlenecks. The three mines have the capacity of producing between
150 000 and 200 000 tonnes of coal per month each, but up to this month, HCCL
was producing only about 350 000 tonnes on monthly basis from its open cast
and underground mines that were operational. Dzinomwa said a financial
injection from the government had enabled them early this month to acquire
from Joy Mining of South Africa, a continuous miner for its redundant
underground mining units. He added that the colliery's old continuous miner
had been taken to South Africa for repair.
JUDGMENT will be handed down on March
11 at the Harare Magistrate's Court in the case in which two Central
Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) mechanics are charged with culpable
homicide. The two are alleged to have caused the death of former Cabinet
Minister Border Gezi and his driver by failing to perform their duties as
expected. Lemekani Chatama and Fidelis Muchenje have denied the charge of
gross negligence when they repaired the late minister's Mercedes Benz prior
to the accident. Gezi, who was the Minister of Gender, Youth Development
and Employment Creation, and his driver Barnabas Murondatsinda, died in April
2001 in a car crash after the rear tyre of his official Benz
burst. Prosecutor Fungai Nyahunzvi alleged that the two failed to do their
job efficiently and were grossly negligent in carrying out their duties as
qualified personnel in charge of "very, very important persons (VVIPs')
vehicles. Allegations are that Murondatsinda took the late minister's
official Benz to CMED headquarters VIP section to be fitted with a new
tyre. Chatama allegedly inspected the vehicle and made out a job card,
before assigning Muchenje to fit in the new tyre. Instead of fitting a
high profile tyre that tallied with the other three, Muchenje allegedly
fitted a low profile one on the left rear side of the car. The State
further alleged that Chatama never bothered to check if his subordinate had
fitted the appropriate tyre. Chatama, a workshop foreman at CMED, denied the
charges, arguing that it was not his duty to supervise Muchenje whom, he
said, was given orders by an unnamed manager. Muchenje was an artisan and
allegedly fitted the tyre that burst on the fateful day. Chatama also said
the manager was in charge of the changing of tyres. "The manager was
in charge of changing tyres. We did not check the quality of tyres as that
was the duty of the buyers to purchase suitable tyres. We only checked if
the tyre was fitted properly, that it had no bulges, that it had enough
pressure and that the rims were in order," Chatama said. Muchenje also
pleaded not guilty to the charge, saying he was not the last person to
attend to the vehicle as it was brought back to the CMED workshop for
service after he attended to it. He argued that he did not fit in the
inconsistent tyre that resulted in the fatal accident.
PEOPLE from across the
country are unanimous that the standard of life has generally gone down, and
have expressed the need for the party that wins the forthcoming elections to
work on improving it. In separate random telephone interviews carried out by
The Daily Mirror last week, the people said they yearned for a better life,
and were all optimistic that if politicians put the country first, that would
be possible. Several others, especially in Masvingo, refused to talk,
saying that they were "not free" to talk to strangers about the country's
politics. Tinashe Chiremba (24), of Hatfield in Harare, said the party that
wins must address transport problems in the towns as well as the issue of
funding for new farmers in the rural areas. "We look forward to the party
addressing transport problems being experienced in the country's urban areas.
In the rural areas, priority must be put on financing new farmers so that
they can access inputs and other farming equipment," Chiremba said He
added that schools must also be built in the new resettlement areas
as children were walking long distances. Chiremba also called for the
equipping of existing schools in the rural areas, saying they were currently
lacking learning resources. Jane Chifamba (39), of Fairbridge, Mutare,
said the new government should help local authorities improve conditions in
residential areas which, she said, were deteriorating. "We expect it (the
party that wins) to help councils develop residential areas, as they are
failing to cope. This has been caused mainly by the rates they are being made
to charge. At the moment, we are not different from people who are living in
the bush. We do not have streets lights, everything is deteriorating," she
said. Chifamba added that she looked forward to the party that won to ensure
that the country did not "go hungry again" as a result of a shortage of
basic commodities. A resident of Bulawayo, who preferred to speak on
condition of anonymity, said the winning party should provide people with
security, regardless of their opinions. "Most people are afraid,
especially in the rural areas, so we look forward to them being given
assurance that they are free. In fact, this is what we look forward to after
the election. Even right now, we look forward to that," he
said. Antoinette Ruzive (28), of Nyamhunga Township in Kariba, said ways must
be pursued to ensure that opportunities were accorded to the country's
youth. "It seems that the country's youths are a forgotten lot, only
remembered at election time. The issue of jobs must be brought back as the
number one priority. We have nothing to do. Some of us are beginning to
think that our lives are in vain," she said. Gugulethu Sibanda (44), of
Tsholotsho, said her main expectation was that after the election, all the
parties that would have participated would accept the outcome. "All that
we may wish for depends on one thing - all parties agreeing with the outcome.
Recent elections have shown that if the results are disputed, progress will
be difficult to achieve," she said.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has admitted that his government was
duped into selling off its strategic grain reserves by donor agencies in the
1990s, a situation that has caused perennial food shortages in a country
which prided itself as the breadbasket of the region. In a marathon speech
lasting over three hours last Friday at the official launch of the ruling
Zanu PF election campaign and manifesto for the March 31 general elections,
President Mugabe said the decision to sell the large grain reserves was
largely to blame for the food shortages since the devastating 1992
drought. He said the grave mistake was a bitter lesson learnt which should
never be repeated again. "When they (donor agencies) came with their
bookish economics, which is not realistic at all, we had over 600 000 tonnes
of strategic grain reserves and they said it was money sleeping and was
better off if it was sold," he said. The government had also been advised,
the President said, that it was better off if the grain was sold to generate
foreign currency that could be used in other sectors to generate more of the
much needed foreign currency. He said: "They said if we sell the grain it
would generate foreign currency and that foreign currency would be used to
generate more foreign currency. It sounds very reasonable, doesn't
it?" President Mugabe said they only realised their blunder when Zimbabwe
was ravaged by its worst drought in 1992, which resulted in acute hunger
because of depleted food reserves and inadequate foreign currency to
import the staple food. "We have realised our mistake and we are now slowly
building up our grain reserve again," he added. President Mugabe also
blamed the prevailing situation on perennial droughts and floods that have
hit the country over the years. Besides the 1992 drought, Zimbabwe also faced
massive food shortages in 2003 that gave birth to a thriving black market
following artificial shortages of basic foodstuffs. The President also
admitted that the A2 model of the fasttrack land reform had not scored
expected successes, and accused multiple farms owners of compounding the
HARARE, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- The
Zimbabwean government said on Sunday that countries from the European Union
will not be invited to monitor the parliamentary election scheduled for next
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Pavelyn Musaka, said that the government had excluded European countries
such as Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland from
observing the poll set for March 31.
He said the process of
sending out invitations to governments mainly in the southern African
region, the African continent and others is underway.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is
responsible for sending out invitations to localgroups, said that there
would be a limited number of local observers that would take part this
"We have to limit the number of local observers because
we do not want a situation where, say, 100 people will come and disturb the
voting process at polling stations on the pretext of observingelections,"
The country will hold its fifth
parliamentary elections under the recently introduced Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC), which is responsible for preparing and conducting
elections and referendums.
Prior to the setting up of the ZEC,
the Registrar General and the Elections Directorate used to conduct
elections and the referendums while ESC supervised, accredited election
observers and appointed monitors.
The election would be held in
line with Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) electoral principles
and guidelines that SADC heads of state adopted in Mauritius last
Some of the guidelines that had been earmarked for
implementation include the requirement to hold elections over one day, the
use of transparent ballot boxes and counting of ballots at polling
The guidelines also allow political parties equal
access to the public media, establishment of independent electoral bodies to
manage elections, provision of security to all contesting political parties
and full participation of all citizens in the electoral process. Enditem