Chefs defy foreign exams ban
THE Zanu PF government, which last year outlawed international
examinations in all schools, has surprisingly allowed some private schools to
offer overseas certificates. Schools sitting for the external examinations have
a sizeable enrolment of children of ministers and indigenisation advocates.
While officially all schools were given until the end of last year as
the deadline for ending external exams, the Zimbabwe Independent discovered that
some private schools have been allowed to continue offering overseas
The government scrapped all overseas-based certificates in favour of
those set by the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec).
Commentators have said the Zimsec exams were of an inferior quality
compared to those from overseas. That could explain why top government and
ruling-party officials were sending their children to schools still offering
The Independent this week visited Heritage School in Borrowdale,
Harare, which is offering both the Zimsec and overseas certificates.
Two directors of the school, David Austin and Evelyn Pangeti, said they
had the permission of the Ministry of Education to offer both certificates.
They said their syllabus had an international flavour and that they
followed the British curriculum. The directors said the school only receives $4
000 in government grants.
Heritage enrols from infant grade to Form IV.
According to the school prospectus, the curriculum is a blend of "best
local practice" and modern ideas taken mainly from the United Kingdom national
"We offer the current Zimsec GCE 'O' Level examinations, as the
Ministry of Education requires, but we also offer the International General
Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and external 'A' Level examinations,"
the prospectus says. "The ministry has approved our intention to offer these
external examinations and we are a recognised centre for the Cambridge Board."
However, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sports and
Culture, Dr Thompson Tsodzo, said schools offering external examinations were
doing so illegally.
He said he was aware that a number of schools were offering international
examinations. He added that after last year"s deadline, no school was allowed to
offer international certificates.
"They do not have our permission and we won't recognise their
certificates. The students can only use the certificates outside Zimbabwe," he
Tsodzo said schools offering international certificates would be
tracked down and closed and will only be opened after they become "Zimbabwean
An official of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) said the whole
situation was confusing as they were made to understand that schools should only
take local exams.
He described the whole issue as potentially explosive.
Zvobgo cuts Moyo to size
Dumisani Muleya/Forward Maisokwadzo
AS parliament last night prepared to pass the hotly contested Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, Eddison Zvobgo emerged as the man
who blocked what amounted to a constitutional coup by unelected members of
President Mugabe's inner circle. And observers point out he would never have
done so without significant support from within the ranks of Zanu PF. While the
parliamentary legal committee, comprising two of Zimbabwe's sharpest attorneys,
Zvobgo and Welshman Ncube, as well as Kumbirai Kangai, has now issued a
non-adverse report following extensive changes to the Bill, it earlier this week
foiled Information minister Jonathan Moyo's bid to give himself sweeping powers
to subvert provisions of the constitution on basic rights.
The thwarting of Moyo's Napoleonic ambitions came as resistance within
Zanu PF mounted to the blustering spin-doctor's plans to occupy new political
ground. Party sources said Moyo's blandishments have annoyed the old guard who
now want his wings clipped.
In its earlier adverse report on the Bill, the legal committee blocked
Moyo's calculated self- empowerment agenda by rejecting numerous provisions
designed to subvert the constitution and give the minister sweeping powers.
While some of those provisions remain intact, many others have been shot down in
the horse-trading that followed the report this week.
Committee chair Zvobgo said the repressive legislation would have
created a "government" out of Moyo's department. It would have given him
"Ask yourself whether it is rational for a government in a democratic
and free society to require registration, licences, and ministerial certificates
in order for people to speak. It is a sobering thought!" Zvobgo said.
Moyo wanted to arrogate to himself enormous powers including control of
other ministers and the government bureaucracy as well as supervising the
functions of the judiciary and parliament, Zvobgo said.
He would be able to initiate investigations and direct police
operations, access state secrets and personal information, protect and target
individuals, and manage news and public information, among other things, Zvobgo
Party luminaries said to be opposed to Moyo's ambitions include
national chair John Nkomo, information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira, retired
General Solomon Mujuru, politburo member Oppah Muchinguri, external affairs
secretary Didymus Mutasa, and deputy commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.
Zanu PF heavyweights interviewed yesterday confirmed growing resistance
to Moyo's political plans.
"Moyo has damaged the reputation of the party through his futile
propaganda," a senior politburo member said yesterday. "If we lose the
presidential election he should shoulder a lot of the blame."
Law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku said the row "exposes the excesses of
Moyo's honeymoon in power".
Moyo yesterday afternoon gave a lengthy justification for the Bill
which included a biting attack on veteran journalists and the independent press.
Fresh produce shortages bite
ZIMBABWE faces a serious shortage of fresh produce this year as
continued farm seizures have forced traditional suppliers to drastically reduce
their hectarage under crop, or stop production altogether. All major
supermarkets have been hit. Products that are either in short supply or have
deteriorated in quality include garlic, export cucumbers, long life tomatoes,
cabbages, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, butternuts, baby marrow, pumpkins,
onions, runner beans, granadillas, carrots, green pepper, radish, beetroot and
Supermarkets in and around the capital this week confirmed some of their
regular suppliers of fresh produce were unable to meet targets, citing as
reasons work stoppages when invaded or uncertainty of their future after Section
8 notification. A Section 8 notification is a government notice to a commercial
farmer that his land has been designated.
Major producers who are also exporters affected by the land occupations
include Hortico in the Acturus area, Mitchell and Mitchell in Marondera and
Shona Products in the Macheke area.
The Farm Produce Producers Association (FPPA) confirmed that most of their
major producers have been severely affected by the designation of farms which
has also negatively impacted on the export market.
The quality of produce has deteriorated as farmers are not willing to put
effort or money into a crop as they do not know if they will even be able to
reap, FPPA said.
The association also attributed the deteriorating quality to soaring input
costs that are no longer affordable in the absence of loans from financial
Fertilisers have to be bought on the black market so farmers are
increasingly asking for early payments, and some farmers have even gone to the
extent of planting inferior seeds because of cost prohibitions, FPPA said.
National service: Community work or electoral
By Vincent Kahiya
IN 1887 American author Edward Bellamy, in his novel Looking Backward,
advocated the creation of an "industrial army" based on the conscription of
young men and women, which he hoped would lead to a military-industrial
dictatorship. American scholars described the book as "arguably the most evil
book ever written by an American".
Yet Bellamy's work today continues to influence debate on the role of
national service. The book not only first introduced the concept of civilian
service by youths, but also presented a military analogy to describe the
organisation of civilian service, a trademark of many subsequent national
Since the turn of the 20th century various forms of national service have
sprung up on the pretext of bolstering national defence.
The controversial Zimbabwean model of national service presents a good
example of how the scheme can be abused.
The end of militarisation and the disbanding of large unwieldy standing
armies, especially in Europe, led to the need to refocus youth service to
well-designed programmes that could make a positive contribution to young
people's growth and development. Volunteerism was thus born.
Today the International Association of National Youth Services describes
the program-me as "an organised activity in which young people serve others and
the environment in ways that contribute positively to society".
Major areas of service are health, education, environmental conservation
and care for the very old and very young. NYS also embraces service-learning,
where students utilise their education to serve others and then reflect on their
service experiences to inform their learning.
In the United States conscription ended in 1973 and in 1990 the National
and Community Service Act was passed. Among the purposes of the Act are "to
renew the ethic of civic responsibility in the United States" and "to call young
people to serve in programmes that will benefit the nation and improve the life
chances of the young through the acquisition of literacy and job skills".
The programme mainly consists of volunteer projects like the Volunteers in
Service to America (VISTA) which began in 1965 as part of the War on Poverty. It
originally consisted primarily of recent college graduates who were dispatched
for service on Indian reservations, at migrant work camps and in inner city
ghettoes. Today it is composed mainly of middle-aged, inner-city residents who
serve in their own neighbourhoods.
The perception of national youth service in developing countries differs
from the Western model. The developing world sees national service as a vehicle
to wipe clean from the youth's psyche any relics of colonialism and foster a
sense of nationhood and sovereignty - and there is a very thin line between this
and straitjacketing the youths to support the ruling order.
German dictator Ado-lf Hitler and his propaganda chief Josef Goebbles
realised that indoctrination of the young was a necessary part of creating a
totalitarian state. Stalin's Russia provided another notable example of brain-
washing. China and North Korea followed.
Zimbabwe's embattled government announced plans on Monday to make youth
service training compulsory. The government said all high school graduates would
be required to undergo youth training in government centres to instil in them
"patriotism" and what it described as an unbiased understanding of the country's
Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation minister Elliot Manyika
this week said the youth training programme was necessary because teachers and
parents had not properly emphasised the importance of patriotism and the
country's liberation struggle to Zimbabwe's young people.
Manyika said young people were leaving Zimbabwe because they had not been
trained to fully appreciate their country and stand by it in times of
Advocates of mandatory national service believe that the practice can be
used as a social and racial equaliser.
The Wall Street Journal carried an editorial in favour of mandatory service
in 1981 that cited such service as "a means for acculturation, acquainting young
people with their fellow Americans of all different races, creeds and economic
This cannot be said about graduates from the Border Gezi Training Centre
near Mount Darwin. They cannot be described as agents of social and political
integration. If anything, they are bands of brutes being trained as the willing
instruments of Zanu PF in its terror campaign against the opposition.
youths have terrorised both urban dwellers and villagers, beating anyone who
cannot produce a Zanu PF party card. They have mounted illegal roadblocks on the
major highways demanding Zanu PF cards and asking travellers to chant Zanu PF
slogans. The mere sight of them now instils fear.
And some sections of society have ganged up to protect themselves - like
American blacks did against the Ku Klux Klan - seeing the police as incapable of
The timing of the launch of the program-me raises eyebrows since the
government spoke of national service in the 1980s and early 1990s and then
shelved the idea - only to revive it at an opportune time, before a crucial
National service in Zimbabwe is governed by the National Service Act of
1979. The first National Service Act was enacted in 1976 to widen conscription -
in direct response to the intensified liberation war. Thus, this legal
instrument was created as a means of providing forced recruitment for the war
With the advent of Independence and the continuing improvement in regional
security, the military objective for which the service was established became
anomalous. The government, however, believed that national service was
essential, but with a shift in emphasis from the military to the economic
In the late 1980s government tried to come up with a broad-based plan for
national service in which it sought to create a national cadreship of
disciplined youths and to develop leadership qualities and skills amongst
Its objectives were outlined in a document prepared by Brigadier Agrippa
Mutambara who was working in the then Ministry of Political Affairs in
- To promote national unity and equality through shared experiences;
- To develop among Zimbabweans a conscious cadreship that can comprehend and
articulate government policies and planned programmes of action;
- To give such orientation to the youths as will imbue them with the spirit
of selflessness, patriotism, and community consciousness;
- To enable the youths to appreciate the merits of individual and collective
involvement in national development projects at little or no financial reward;
- To instil in the youths an awareness of the importance of conserving our
- To impart a variety of basic skills to as many youths as possible; and,
- To provide the youths with career guidance and to expose them to as many
sectors of the economy as possible.
He proposed that the first phase of national service training
should involve a programme of rudimentary military training, whose main purpose
would be to develop discipline and leadership qualities. During this phase,
trainers would identify the participants' qualifications and preferences.
"In the second phase, the cadres will undergo training in their preferred
disciplines," Mutambara said.
"Interspersed with this training will be community service programmes, in
which youths would be involved in national development projects such as
construction of dams, building of schools, land reclamation and conservation.
"In the process they will acquire skills in areas such as plumbing,
carpentry and building. This combination of work and experience will facilitate
their entry into public and private-sector jobs," he said.
He proposed that those to benefit from government assistance in tertiary
education should undergo national service.
Today, the youths are expected to generate self-help schemes and undergo
survival training. Civic and opposition spokesmen say there is currently no real
difference between Zanu PF youth brigades and the green military fatigues-clad
National Youth Service trainees. Their use as a violent electoral weapon could
prove counter-productive when people cast their vote, they point out.
"That will be the day people get even," a civic sector worker said this
Muckraker - Working incognito behind
Moyo's Sadza Curtain
SO what happened to George Charamba's net? Did he catch anything or did the
big ones get away?
Last Thursday he was threatening a group of foreign correspondents with
immediate capture. The Herald, no doubt tipped off by its CIO friends - who
readers can be forgiven for confusing with its reporters - announced that
correspondents from "the Guardian and Telegraph of Britain, the Sunday Times of
South Africa, a Johannesburg-based reporter for the Economist and a few other
foreign scribes entered Zimbabwe under the guise of being tourists and are
illegally working as journalists".
This must have formed the basis for the Herald's tourism boom story that it
carried the same day! The posse of correspondents, allegedly headed by the
Guardian's Chris McGreal, were said to be staying in Harare hotels and MDC safe
houses. In so-doing they had evaded the Department of Information's
"Our net is closing in on them," boasted the over-heated Charamba. "We
should be able to account for all of them before the close of the day."
of them had "intelligence cover" from a "hostile state", he suggested
Intelligence cover was something Charamba evidently lacked. Several of the
correspondents in question appeared not to be here at all. The Economist's Adam
Roberts in Johannesburg wondered who Charamba could be thinking of. And there
was no evidence of anybody from the Sunday Times. The "Telegraph" reporter
turned out to be Philip Sherwell of the Sunday Telegraph, and Chris McGreal
filed a great story on the MDC's safe houses.
By Friday morning McGreal was on his way to Zambia with no sign of
Charamba's moth-eaten net. But curiously for somebody branded an illegal tourist
operating under intelligence cover, the Herald was happy to use his story on SW
Radio Africa being funded by the Americans. It slapped it on its front page -
without mentioning his name. But the Herald didn't publish his story about the
MDC safe houses because it would have exposed its silly lies about Amani Trust
So in addition to selective justice we now have selective reporting lifted
from foreign correspondents who are alleged to be in league with hostile foreign
powers. How confusing! Perhaps Charamba could explain what the policy is on
using hostile British press reports.
Everybody in our newsroom had a good chuckle on Monday over a report filed
by the Herald's political reporter, Lovemore Mataire, claiming journalists
working for the Independent and Standard were "threatening to go on strike".
Problems at the "troubled" papers, Mataire suggested, began to surface late last
year when reporters at the Independent received a larger increment than those at
The Independent last Friday referred to Jonathan Moyo's "troubled"
information Bill. Mataire had evidently been ordered to retaliate. He quoted a
disaffected reporter at the Standard as saying chief executive Trevor Ncube was
a "worser" (sic) dictator than President Mugabe. Morale at the papers had "taken
a serious downturn" with a staff exodus looming, he claimed.
The only example given to support the "exodus" theory was the departure of
Brian Hungwe who, Mataire said, "left the paper in a huff" after securing
employment with the SABC.
In fact Brian, who popped in to say hello on Monday morning, enjoyed the
story as much as we did. Mataire didn't say how he reconciled his "troubled"
claim with the assertion that "the two papers performed very well last year".
Nor did he disclose an interest in employment matters at the Independent and
He was an applicant for a job at the Independent but was turned down
because he was only semi-literate. He then found this a useful qualification at
the Sunday Mail but appears to have forgotten its name already. He thinks it is
called "the Zimbabwe Mail", according to his report in the Herald.
Workers at the Herald and Sunday Mail, he pointed out, received bonuses
last year boosting their "moral". But evidently not their literacy! And somebody
needs to explain to him the difference between state-owned companies that do not
need to be profitable because they can always mug the taxpayer and those in the
private sector that have to balance costs with revenue.
Isn't this the same reporter whose fictional stories were repudiated by his
lecturers at the Polytech? And who Lovemore Madhuku disowned by pointing out he
would never have said what he was reported to have said by Mataire because it
was in such bad English?
Concluding his piece on the Independent and Standard, the Herald's
political reporter claimed: "No comment could be obtained from Mr Trevor
That's hardly surprising. Mataire didn't call him.
Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi has at last confirmed the deployment of
the army in Matabeleland. Readers will recall a press conference held by
Jonathan Moyo in December at which he lambasted the foreign media for reporting
the presence of the army in parts of Matabeleland. The foreign press corps based
their reports on remarks made by John Nkomo to the party faithful.
But Moyo said it was wholly unacceptable for them to have reported the
matter as it did not come from the minister responsible. Now it has. Sekeramayi
said people should be aware of the presence of a brigade in Bulawayo and members
of the brigade were deployed in various parts of Matabeleland, just as they were
in other provinces. There was nothing sinister about this, he insisted.
The people of Matabeleland may have a different view. They have memories of
how the army behaved in the mid-1980s. Also culpable were the CIO and other
security services - in fact the very same people who attended a press conference
on January 9 to announce they would not recognise an elected president who did
not share their "values".
It was not immediately clear whether these values related to the 20 000
killed in Zanu PF's ethnic cleansing of the 1980s or the diamond deals and other
shady businesses currently under investigation in the Congo. The army has also
blocked a court-ordered police investigation into the abduction and torture of
two journalists in 1999.
Sekeramayi appeared to have no problem with any of this. The defence chiefs
were not armchair revolutionaries, he said.
"They are well aware that the main grievance of the liberation struggle was
the issue of land...I support the service chiefs 100%".
We don't doubt that Sekeramayi is as 100% obtuse as they are. Did the
liberation struggle have no other goals? Were issues of democratic rights and
elections altogether absent from the struggle they fought? And what did the
voters of Zimbabwe have to say about Zanu PF's land policy when they were
consulted in February 2000?
But the most effective response to the delinquent defence and security
chiefs came from the other- wise acquiescent regional heads of state meeting in
Blantyre recently. They urged the Zimbabwe government to ensure that "in
accordance with the multi-party political dispensation prevalent in Sadc
political statements are not made by the military but by political
President Thabo Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, said Zvinavashe's remarks
were "totally unacceptable".
"The role of the Zimbabwean army is to defend the country's laws and
democracy," Khumalo said.
And President Joaquim Chissano said "the Zimbabwean army must not interfere
in the democratic and electoral rights of ordinary citizens. People must support
which- ever party or political leaders they want."
It seems the Defence minister is trying to defend the indefensible. But
isn't that the story of all Zanu PF spokesmen nowadays? Meanwhile, perhaps one
of Moyo's recording studios could dust off Marilyn Monroe's great hit and have
Radio "Sport" FM play it for us with a new spin: "Diamonds are a general's best
There has been saturation cover age in the state media of Morgan
Tsvangirai's alleged advocacy of sanctions while in South Africa recently.
Zanu PF, ZBC and Zimpapers all went to town claiming this would place the
country in a parlous situation - as if it wasn't already!
But predictably, they were reluctant to tell us exactly what the MDC leader
said. We are therefore grateful to the Zimbabwe Media Monitoring Project for the
"ZBC (January 14, Nhau/Indaba and 8pm television, and all radio 6am, 1pm
and 8pm bulletins) broke the Tsvangirai sanctions story, and television's 8pm
news carried the BBC news interview quoting Tsvangirai condemning the apparent
lack of 'cohesion' in Sadc's response to Zimbabwe's deepening political and
economic crisis and speculating on what South Africa could do unilaterally to
stop the Zimbabwe government from further subverting the democratic process.
"The MDC leader was seen to say: 'Well there are measures. I mean, for
instance, the threat to undermine the elections by the military, by Mugabe
himself, should actually send shock waves to South Africa and say, 'OK, under
those circumstances we are going to cut fuel, we are going to cut transport
links'. Those kinds of measures, even if they are implemented at a lowly level,
send the right signals.'
"But news presenter Obriel Mpofu made no reference to the Sadc context of
the interview, or to the speculative nature of the question and the answer when
he introduced the story. He simply stated that: 'MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai
has called on South Africa to cut official supplies, switch off electricity and
sever all communication links with Zimbabwe in order to speed up what he called
'change' in the country'.
"Nowhere in the interview did Tsvangirai 'call' on South Africa to impose
sanctions, nor did he mention anything about 'change', a word that forms part of
an MDC slogan and used in the report to give the impression that sanctions was
part of the MDC's normal programme for change.
"The inaccuracies and distortion contained in this statement were
reinforced by reporter Reuben Barwe's comment introducing the BBC clip:
'Zimbabweans need to know that the desire to take the reins of power by certain
people might see them suffer more soon', thus giving the impression that
Tsvangirai is so desperate for power he is prepared to inflict suffering on the
"The next day (January 15) the government Press followed the same line by
interpreting Tsvangirai's statement as a call for sanctions and condemning it as
'a sign of a desperate man who was clearly afraid of elections', according to
"This formed the basis of the papers' coverage throughout the
There you have it. Not exactly the professional standards we are
entitled to expect of a publicly-owned media.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority's public relations manager Leslie Gwindi has
for some time been inhabiting a different planet from the rest of us.
Commenting on figures that purportedly show a growth in tourism last year -
from the dismal performance of 2000 - he declared that "Zimbabwe has been
confirmed a safe destination".
He didn't say exactly who had "confirmed" this.
"We have not had a single case of cold-blooded murder of tourists so how
safer can we be?" the Herald reported him as having "quipped".
Well, the removal of roadblocks north of Harare where Zanu PF youths are
beating and robbing motorists might be a start. Some people have been detained
and assaulted at these illegal roadblocks for up to five hours. The police show
no sign of removing them.
Does Gwindi really think tourists from Britain, Ireland, the EU, North
America and Australia will be spared on the grounds they are visitors to
Zimbabwe? Are Zanu PF youths, high on booze and drugs, known for their ability
to make subtle distinctions?
If there has been no "cold-blooded murder" of tourists yet, we should be
very grateful indeed. But it has nothing to do with the prevalence of law and
order and more to do with the absence of tourists.
Have tourists returned to the Lowveld conservancies - or what is left of
them? Can they go to Chipinge safely via Buhera? Can they use secondary roads in
Mashonaland Central and West?
Gwindi had better hope his rosy appraisal of the situation on the ground
remains valid. Because we will know who to look to for an explanation if
anything goes wrong. It will be interesting to see what "quip" he has for us
Elliot Manyika says chiefs will be empowered to authenticate documents in
the same way com- missioners of oaths do. This will enable more Zanu PF
supporters to register as voters.
What he didn't say was that commissioners of oaths can usually read the
documents they are signing.
Finally, following George Charamba's witch-hunt for foreign correspondents
working without accreditation behind Zimbabwe's Sadza Curtain, may we ask who
has accredited Jonathan Moyo's praise-singer Admore Tshuma to write Form
Two-standard essays from London "demonising" the British?