HARARE - The Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) says there is little time left for the new
electoral legislation to conform to the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines governing the conduct of
The electoral body said although the new
legislation went some way towards meeting the SADC Principles and
Guidelines, the legislation had been promulgated too late to have any real
effect on the general political environment and on the election processes
for the March election.
"The Electoral Commission will not have
the time to re-examine the voters' rolls and to put in place the procedures
and staff necessary to ensure that the election is conducted freely, fairly
and democratically," ZESN said.
The coalition said under
the SADC guidelines, member states were required to ensure that all their
citizens enjoyed freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression
as well as political tolerance during electoral processes.
"There must also be an independent judiciary," ZESN said. "On the electoral
environment there is little in the Zimbabwean legislation that touches on
these topics, apart from a general statement of principles in section 3 of
the Electoral Act.
"There is no enforcement mechanism, and the
Electoral Commission's role is confined to registering voters, providing
voter education and conducting elections. This is a flaw, likely to affect
the political environment for the holding of democratic multi-party
ZESN said this in a detailed examination of the
newly enacted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act (Chapter 2:12) and the
Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) in comparison to the principles and guidelines
that were adopted by SADC heads of States in August 2004 in
The organization said of particular concern were the
repressive laws like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), and the Non Governmental
Organisations Bill when it becomes law.
Constitution requires elections to be held within four months after
dissolution of Parliament and within 90 days after a President's term
expires or he ceases to hold office.
Polling must take place
between 35 and 66 days after publication of a proclamation calling an
election. ZESN said 35 days were inadequate for the holding of a general
election or a presidential election. It said the period was less than the
period of three or four months suggested by the SADC Parliamentary
Under Zimbabwe's laws, the President is empowered to fix
the dates of parliamentary elections without consulting the Electoral
Commission yet the SADC Parliamentary Forum suggests that Parliament should
be involved in fixing election dates.
The organisation also
raised concern at the duplication of roles between the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) and the constitutionally appointed Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC) because it remained unclear how they would operate or which
of them had greater authority. Only the ZEC is allowed to carry
out voter education.
Under the SADC Principles and
Guidelines, national and international observers and monitors must be
accredited and given free access to everyone concerned in the electoral
SADC must be invited to send a mission at least 90
days before polling. Representatives of parties and candidates must be
allowed in polling stations and counting stations.
committee dominated by Ministerial nominees accredits observers, and only
persons invited by a Minister or the ESC may be accredited. Monitors will
all be public servants.
ZESN said there was little time for
SADC to be given an invitation to send observers 90 days before polling, if
the parliamentary election is to be held in March.
Zimbabwean legislation does nothing to regulate the general political
environment or to give parties access to the State media, it
The SADC Principles and Guidelines require polling
stations to be sited in neutral places but there is nothing in the Act to
regulate the citing of polling stations, but the Act does lay down elaborate
procedures for polling which should discourage illegal practices.
UK-based Zimbabwean journalists launch
Date: 4-Feb, 2005
LONDON - Zimbabwean
journalists living in the United Kingdom have launched an association to
deal with issues affecting them.
At a function held in London
last Saturday, the journalists from all over the United Kingdom, for the
first time came together to discuss their plight and ways through which they
can improve their professional capabilities.
Association of Zimbabwean Journalists in the UK, the new organisation plans
to create a database of all the journalists from Zimbabwe living in the UK
and make sure they get opportunities to continue to write in an environment
that is largely difficult.
The association also aims to conduct
research and facilitate dialogue in various issues affecting Zimbabwe as a
country and the media industry, provide a platform for the journalists to
meet, discuss ideas Of how they can develop themselves here in the UK and
The association also wants to work with local
universities and colleges and the media in the UK to secure educational
opportunities for its members, dedicate some of its work to the defence of
journalists in Zimbabwe and the promotion of media
Association secretary, Sandra Nyaira, said the
journalists also want to find ways of how to help struggling colleagues back
in Zimbabwe whose newspapers, such as the independent Daily News and its
sister paper The Daily News on Sunday where closed down by the government in
She said the crying need for an association
arose from the big number of Zimbabwean journalists now resident in the UK
and the fact that most of them have not had opportunities to acquire new
skills to use when they eventually returned to Zimbabwe.
More than 30 Zimbabwean journalists are currently living in the UK. She said
the association would try to help individual journalists improve their
professional skills through training programmes developed with media
organisations and training institutions in the UK.
association also announced an annual award to be given to a Zimbabwean
journalist in memory of the late Standard Editor, Mark Chavhunduka, who was
arrested and tortured together with reporter Ray Choto, after publishing a
controversial story about a coup attempt
By Zimbabwe's military.
Sponsored in part by John Owen, a City University lecturer, former Freedom
Forum Director and Mark's friend, the award, worth £1 000 will be given to a
"It was a historic social day that
marked the birth of AZJUK," said Forward Maisokwadzo, interim chair for the
"I was humbled by the overwhelming support we
got from different people. The enthusiasm shown by many people wanting to
see this association take off ground was remarkable, and I'm glad all went
The message from speakers and well-wishers was loud and
clear, "tell us what you want as a group, we're willing to help in what ever
way we can using our different portfolios but the onus is with Zimbabwe
journalists to clearly outline your needs."
committee comprising Maisokwadzo, Simbarashe Chabarika, Blessing Ruzengwe
and Nyaira was tasked to run the association prior to the election of a
THE date of the
parliamentary elections has been announced as 31 March. The MDC has
announced it is taking part, in protest.
This was to be
expected: the party's performance in the 2000 elections was impressive, for
an organization just nine months old. But Zanu PF poured everything into
that election campaign, including the kitchen sink, a number of guns and
other deadly weapons.
In spite of using that arsenal to kill,
maim and beat up members of the opposition, Zanu PF still lost 57 seats -
its greatest loss since independence. The victories belonged, not just to
the MDC, but to people of courage who dared to vote against the ruling party
in spite of the atmosphere of violence before and during the
Since then, much water, most of it stained with the
blood of those who died in that campaign, has flowed under the electoral
bridge.In many respects, Zanu PF has become more determined that ever before
not to be caught napping - as some of its leaders explained the loss of 57
Intimidation and violence remain the party's
stock-in-trade. There have been a number of unexplained arrests of MDC MPS.
In the high0-density suburbs, the tension is palpable, as Zanu PF fights
tooth and nail to reverse is 2000 losses in most urban
In Harare the party staged a virtual coup d'etat
against the MDC-dominated city council and in Mutare, Gweru and Bulawayo it
is, waging a similar blitzkrieg,which it hopes will translate into electoral
votes on 31 March.
Pinning their hopes in Zanu PF's
faithful adherence to the Southern African Development Community's electoral
guidelines may not be such a foolproof device to ensure the electoral
playing field is level. The MDC might need to do more - make their presence
so visible, emphatic and vocal that Zanu PF will be aware that they are
Of course, in the end, Zanu PF might not care
about that or any of the promises it has made to conduct a peaceful election
campaign. But what most people would love to see is an election result
untainted by the violence of past polls.
We know that Zanu
PF is probably at its most unpopular and vulnerable today. If it loses, that
would not be such a surprise. But if it wins without using any violence or
electoral chicanery at all that would be an even bigger surprise.
Farmers face trials after defying evictions February 04
2005 at 02:51PM
Harare - Ten white Zimbabweans charged with defying
a government order to give up their farms to landless blacks will be tried
in court this month, their lawyer said on Friday.
two cases will be heard on 14 February," lawyer Edmore Jori
"The others will follow probably in April. The farmers
are currently on remand for defying eviction orders and they have all
pleaded not guilty."
If convicted, the farmers will be
The farmers based in the northern Mashonaland West
province were served notices in November to vacate their
Under Zimbabwe's controversial laws they were supposed
to leave the farms within 90 days of receiving the notice.
Some of the farmers were challenging the order while others were trying to
work out a compromise to give up portions of their farms.
launched its controversial land reform programme in 2000 to correct what it
says are "historical imbalances".
At least 4 000 white commercial
farmers have been evicted and the land reform programme was marred at its
inception by violent seizures led by veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation
war against Britain.
The land reforms have been blamed for
plummeting agricultural production which has seen Zimbabwe, once southern
Africa's bread basket, importing its national staple, maize.
Analysts say the "new farmers" lack experience and rely on government
Some government and top ruling party officials have
grabbed more than one farm at the expense of deserving landless farmers,
according to a government audit. - Sapa-AFP
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Feb 2005 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean pro-democracy groups have cautioned that the
use of civil servants and the military to monitor next month's poll would
throw its fairness and transparency into doubt.
In a report released last
week, the Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) alleged that the deployment of
civil servants, security personnel and the use of pro-government national
youth service militia was designed to ensure a ZANU-PF victory.
also said the controversial Public Order and Security Act, Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting Act of
Zimbabwe, limited freedom of expression and assembly.
The CZC report,
entitled 'Things Fall Apart', noted the militarisation of key electoral
"Military personnel have been placed at the centre of state
institutions responsible for governance - the judiciary, the Electoral
Supervisory Commission, the Delimitation Commission, parastatals and general
election administration," read part of the report.
a constitutional and human rights lawyer, said the organisation of the 31
March poll by an allegedly partisan civil service rather than independent
monitors, as recommended in the electoral guidelines of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), was cause for concern.
"Over the past four
years, we have seen an extensive purge of the key arms of the service,
including the replacement of independent judiciary officers suspected of
collaborating with the opposition, with ZANU-PF loyalists. The purges were
felt across the civil service, from the highest offices to the lowest
workers. It is therefore not surprising that government has thought of using
them to conduct this poll," Madhuku remarked.
"Most of the rank and file
civil servants saw their friends lose jobs over allegations of supporting
the [opposition] MDC [Movement for Democratic Change]. They saw some of them
being assaulted and killed for the same reasons. Whatever they do with
regards to the elections will be designed to protect their jobs and save
their lives. For these reasons, they cannot be trusted to be impartial,"
The civil society organisation, Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, noted that while SADC guidelines did not bar civil servants
from running a ballot, giving them total control of the electoral process in
Zimbabwe was bound to raise questions over the fairness of the
Justice, legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Patrick
Chinamasa, has defended the use of civil servants to organise the election,
as they have done for every ballot since independence.
servants are experienced in running elections ... National elections are an
important event in any country's history and, as such, we want to ensure
that those who handle them are trustworthy and accountable," he
"Independent monitors, who are strangers in most cases, cannot be
trusted that way, but we can trust our civil service to do the same job they
have done capably since 1980," said Chinamasa.
He also dismissed
allegations by Free Zimbabwe, an independent election support group, that
there were more than two million suspect names included in the voters' roll
of 5.6 million people.
"There is nothing like that," said Chinamasa. "Why
can't they publish a list of the disputed names if they are genuine? We will
not worry about desperate, power-hungry day-dreamers, who have made it their
business to rubbish the good name of this country."
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Feb 2005 (IRIN) - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and
the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) have called for a blockade of
Zimbabwe's borders, ahead of general elections next month.
has been prompted by the Zimbabwean authorities' decision to expel a second
18-member COSATU "fact-finding" mission earlier this week. The labour
movement's first "solidarity" trip to Zimbabwe in October 2004 also ended
abruptly after they were deported.
"The blockades will be held soon,"
COSATU spokesman Patrick Craven told IRIN.
The trade unionists met on
Thursday in South Africa's northern Limpopo province, where they called for
a special executive meeting of the Southern African Trade Union Coordination
Council, to organise a regional protest campaign to press for free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe.
The unions have demanded that the 31 March polls
should be delayed until an independent electoral commission has been
established; controversial legislation on human rights and the media - the
Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and
Privacy Act (AIPA) - has been scrapped; concerns over the voters' roll have
been addressed; and the government abides by the rule of law and ceases
harassing the labour movement, among other issues.
government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe was quoted on Friday in the daily
newspaper, Business Day, as describing COSATU's confrontation with Zimbabwe
as a "sideshow". He told IRIN that the government was working from within
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure the elections in
Zimbabwe were free and fair.
He said a SADC team would be leaving for
Zimbabwe "soon" to assess the situation, and the government would reserve
comment on COSATU's intended protest action until the date of the blockade
had been announced.
IRIN was unable to reach the Zimbabwean authorities
Zimbabwe: Economic Turnaround Anticipated After Election
ANALYSIS January 28,
2005 Posted to the web February 4, 2005
Mugabe is calculating on a post-election economic recovery. His Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono this week announced further success in cutting the
inflation rate and a projected growth rate of 5 percent this
But while his success in bringing down the inflation rate is
acknowledged, many have concerns about his other projections.
has been given the job of squaring the circle - running an economic
empowerment programme with the clientilist links on which Zanu-PF depends,
and also instituting the structural reforms that will bring Zimbabwe back
into the Washington Consensus fold and access to international
Delivering his first-quarter monetary policy review in Harare,
Gono claimed the economy would "graduate into its first year of positive
growth, which is projected at between 3 and 5%, from a 30.7% cumulative
decline from 2001 to 2004". Gono also said inflation, which peaked at 622%
in January last year, would fall to between 20% and 35%. It is currently
He would maintain a dual interest rate policy and lending to the
productive sectors of the economy at concessionary interests rates until
Concessionary lending rates are about 30%, while the bank rates are
about 150% but he announced a radical interest rate policy which will see
the bank's benchmark overnight rate reduced by 40 percentage points by
On the exchange rate, Gono said he would maintain the current
auction system and try to "bridge the gap between supply and demand for
But at the heart of Gono's
economic reform remains patronage politics.
Instead of going the
privatisation route which could open the country's parastatals to investment
not only from the region (and particularly South Africa - a major issue of
contention) but also from Zimbabweans outside Mugabe's coterie, Gono has
announced an extensive and costly restructuring, so that they will by 2006
no longer be a drain on the state. Critics say that maintaining the
parastatals keeps alive Zanu-PF's patronage system which it identifies
closely with the Zimbabwean brand of 'black economic
The plan will cost ZD10 trillion. National Railways of
Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Air Zimbabwe will receive ZD1.1 trillion each, while the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority
(ARDA) and the District Development Fund (DDF) will receive a combined ZD1.1
Power utility ZESA Holdings and Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company
(ZISCO) will receive ZD1 trillion each. Hwange Colliery Company will receive
ZD400 billion, Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), ZD300bn, Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings, ZD100bn, Zimbabwe National Water Authority, Cold
Storage Company, ZD350bn, ZD200bn and the profit-making Industrial
Development Corporation, ZD800bn.
Local authorities will be allocated
a combined ZD1 trillion, while ZD600bn will be committed to the
establishment of a fertiliser and allied agricultural chemicals
manufacturing unit and ZD500bn will be set aside for energy development. A
national milk production programme will be allocated ZD150bn and ZD200bn
will go towards land surveying.
empowerment programme was set in motion about a decade ago by Africa
Resources Ltd's acquisition of the Shabanie-Mashava asbestos mines from
Turner & Newall. More recently the deregulation of the financial
services sector opened the way for indigenous business, but brought in its
wake failures and scandals, with a number of founding shareholders of banks
fleeing abroad and some landing in jail.
An analysis of the collapse
in December last year of CFX Bank provides evidence that a number of the
empowerment deals hinged on weak patronage frameworks that the government
built to generate its capital.
Earlier this month CFX Financial Services,
the holding company for collapsed CFX Bank, was considering a rescue package
involving support from the Reserve Bank to pay off the minor shareholders
and small depositors.
Part of the responsibility for the messy
indigenisation process lay with the entrepreneurs themselves who "bribed
their way into the troubled sector", an analyst with Standard Chartered Bank
The government's banking shakeout delighted many Zimbabweans
who believe it marked the onset of fairness and the restoration of prudent
business conduct. But others saw the anti-corruption crusade as an act of
retribution by Gono and the government in an insufficiently regulated sector
and some believe that Gono could be seeking to extend this to the
re-nationalization of business. The state takeover of the Shabanie asbestos
mining concern and the on-and-off threats to nationalize platinum
investments to elbow out Impala Platinum are cited.
In response to
the anti- corruption clampdown some politicians and bankers have now formed
loose alliances for or against Gono or the government.
Internal Disputes Delay Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF Election Campaign Rollout
By Peta Thornycroft Harare 04 February
President Robert Mugabe was scheduled to launch Zanu PF's
2005 parliamentary election campaign Saturday, but the rollout has now been
delayed for a week as internal disputes over its candidates continues.
Political analysts say Zanu PF is mired in its first serious internal
wrangling since independence in 1980.
On February 18, all candidates
contesting the March 31 general election must be confirmed by nomination
courts around the country.
Zanu PF's announcement of a delay in launching
its campaign, takes it to just six days before it is legally bound to have
its candidates in place.
The simmering disputes within Zanu PF exploded
shortly before its annual congress in December, when more than half of its
district chairmen were suspended from the party.
They were allegedly
considering supporting a veteran Zanu PF politician, Emmerson Mnangagwa, for
vice president and the person most likely to succeed Mr. Mugabe if and when
he retires. Mr. Mugabe chose a long time loyalist, Joyce Mujuru, the first
woman to rise so high in Zanu PF.
Zanu PF's top leaders have prevented
the party's provincial chairs from running as candidates in the election,
even though the state controlled media report that some claim they have
support of the majority in their areas.
Elliot Manyika, a fiery Zanu
PF leader is in charge of Zanu PF's election for this year's poll. He told
state controlled media that Zanu PF still has to confirm two candidates in
the southern Matabeleland province before the campaign can go
Matabeleland, a mostly dry and poor part of Zimbabwe has, for
decades, had a difficult relationship with Zanu PF. This is where the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change has considerable
In a rare move, the state controlled media reported Thursday's
announcement by the MDC that it will drop its boycott plans anjd take part
in the poll. The state's Herald newspaper even quoted MDC spokesman Paul
Out on the streets however, it seems there is little interest in
the election. While most people in the city center would not agree to speak
into a tape recorder, because they said there were too many policemen
around, Sarah, a 37-year-old single mother of three young children commented
she had not taken much notice of politics recently. She said life was hard
and she was more worried about the cost of food and school fees than with
She said she did not know who would win the poll, but
said she did not expect any change whichever party emerged as the
Independent analyst and pro democracy campaigner, Lovemore
Madhuku, who is also a senior academic at the University of Zimbabwe, said
Thursday the MDC would not win nearly as many seats as it did in 2000, when
it came within three seats of winning a majority in the 120 seat parliament.
The MDC was only nine months old when it fought its first election. Hundreds
of its supporters have been murdered since then and thousands arrested,
according to statistics collected by the Human Rights Forum, a coalition of
non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Madhuku says many MDC
structures have been broken, and he doubts whether there is enough time or
freedom of movement or expression for the MDC to rebuild lost support before
the end of March.
Zimbabweans sell property to buy food Rights groups fear food will
be used as political weapon Friday, February 4, 2005 Posted: 9:52 AM EST
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- Hungry Zimbabweans
are staving off starvation by selling property and getting money from
relatives abroad, but rights groups fear food may still become a political
weapon ahead of elections in March.
Many Zimbabweans have had to pull
children out of school or sell assets -- including cattle and tools needed
to grow crops -- to feed themselves, while others have cut back to only one
meal a day, leaving them weak but alive.
"There aren't obviously starving
people walking the streets but people are having to resort to things like
selling their last cow to buy food," a Western diplomat said.
unemployment and inflation have hit the ability of ordinary Zimbabweans to
buy food, and critics say chaotic seizures of white-owned commercial farms
by landless blacks have destroyed production in the country of 13 million
Around 3.5 million Zimbabweans have left the country and aid
workers say the $1 million they send home every week helps thousands buy
Food shortages have left millions hungry across southern Africa in
recent years -- with 25 percent of children malnourished in some rural parts
of neighboring South Africa. But Zimbabwe's shortages have become
politicized in a way not seen elsewhere.
favoritism Human rights groups have accused President Robert Mugabe's
government of using grain stores for political ends in the past, and some
rights workers say they fear this may be repeated as the country gears up
for March 31 parliamentary elections.
Amnesty International says the
government's Grain Market Board (GMB), which also controls access to seeds
and fertilizer, has in the past denied supplies to government opponents,
instead favoring ruling ZANU-PF party members.
While some aid groups
say the GMB's main problems are poor logistics, bad planning and fuel
shortages, Western observers have reported anecdotal evidence of Zimbabweans
having to show ZANU-PF membership cards to access GMB grain.
GMB's history of inept and discriminatory distribution of food ... provide
the potential for violations of the right to adequate food around the
elections," said Amnesty South Africa Executive Director Heather Van
But many food analysts say Zimbabwe's food problems have
deeper roots -- and that the country's hard-pressed people will be forced
into increasingly desperate strategies to stay fed.
"It's not fair to
just blame the government," said Ann Witteveen, food security coordinator
for aid agency Oxfam. "The problems in Zimbabwe are a combination of the
declining economic situation, political problems as well as the weather and
the impact of HIV/AIDS."
The U.N. World Food Program says it believes the
2004 grain crop was no more than 1 million tons -- short of the 1.8 million
the country needs but an increase on 2003's 800,000 tons. Some analysts see
this as a sign that black farmers who took over white-owned farms were
learning the skills they need.
Assessments of the 2005 crop vary, but
based on the area planted, drought and seed shortages the diplomat said it
would likely only be around 800,000 tons, keeping the food pressure on
Zimbabwe long after the March elections.
Campaigners are fighting to stop a Saddleworth School trainee teacher being
deported to Zimbabwe where he could face beatings, torture or even
Leonard, who does not want us to use his surname
because of the dangers to his family in Zimbabwe, was a member of the
Movement for Democratic Change opposing Robert Mugabe's oppressive
And he fled the country in 2001 when authorities started
questioning people at the school where he taught.
He came to
Manchester where he met his partner Nyembezi.
He applied for
asylum, and did agency work as he studied to join an Open University teacher
training programme last year.
Leonard (28), has a BSc in maths and
hoped to become a maths teacher. He was accepted by Saddleworth School and
did a 10-day placement in November.
But that month the
Government changed its policy on Zimbabweans and began returning failed
Leonard was due to continue his training at
Saddleworth after Christmas for the rest of the school year, but when he
failed to arrive staff were told he was in Campsfield Detention Centre,
Oxfordshire. Anne Allen, head of maths, said: "Leonard worked with groups of
11 to 16-year-olds and seemed very motivated and
His lawyers have blocked his deportation for the
time being, with a last-minute legal challenge, calling for a judicial
review of his case.
But he has now been transferred to the Dover
Immigration and Removal Centre, from where he told the Chronicle: "Nothing
has been explained to me about why I have been moved.
due to be removed from the UK on January 29, but my solicitors launched this
court application and I am trying to get bail.
"There is no change
in Zimbabwe and if I go back I face beating and torture and possible death.
This has already happened to people like teachers.
is a lovely place and I thought I would be able to finish my teaching course
in England before there was a change in the Government's policy. However,
they have reversed their decision yet nothing has changed in
His case is being supported by the left-wing online
newspaper Socialist Worker, and the National Coalition of Anti Deportation
NCADC's North-West spokesman Emma Ginn said:
"Leonard is in great danger. We know people who have returned to Zimbabwe
have suffered torture."
A Home Office statement said: "This change
in asylum policy is entirely about operating a firm and fair asylum system.
It does not reflect any change in the Government's categorical opposition to
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. Genuine refugees, including members of
opposition parties, will continue to be protected."
Reporters Without Borders again denounces
absurdity of China, Cuba and Zimbabwe judging world rights
Reporters Without Borders today deplored the "continuing
farce" of "leading repressive countries" - this year China, Cuba and
Zimbabwe - being chosen by the United Nations to decide which cases its
Human Rights Commission will consider at its annual meeting.
for sure that no case about violations in any of these three countries and
their allies will be heard," the worldwide press freedom organization said.
"This is a very grave matter and we don't understand why the United Nations
allows it. It would be comical if it wasn't so serious."
sub-commission working group the three countries have been named to along
with Hungary and the Netherlands will meet on 7 February to sift through
cases submitted over the past year and decide which to pass on to the
Commission, which will sit between 14 March and 22 April to consider them
and possibly condemn countries for violations.
The Commission has
steadily lost credibility in recent years. The naming of Libya to chair it
in 2003 caused an uproar. Last year, Reporters Without Borders pointed out
that 25 of its 53 member-countries had not even ratified all international
human rights agreements, treaties and conventions.
Borders has proposed reforming the Commission by requiring member-countries
to have ratified all these accords. It has also called for abolition of the
device of "no-action motions" used to block all discussion about countries
that are large-scale human rights violators.
Cosatu vows to hit back at Zim 04/02/2005 21:25 -
Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions has called for
the mobilisation of workers, civil society and religious groups in putting
an end to the political situation in Zimbabwe.
Paul Notyhawa of
Cosatu said on Friday: "We want nothing short of the mobilisation of
"We want to ensure harm to the criminals, these being the
Zanu-PF politicians benefiting from President Robert Mugabe's
Notyhawa said: "We want to ensure that the pain they are going
to feel hits hard without harming the victims who have already suffered
He said they were aware that, in war, there were casualties on
both sides, but they were prepared for that.
Cosatu and the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) met on
Thursday in Musina, Limpopo, to discuss the socio-economic conditions in
Zimbabwe and how best Cosatu could help.
This was after the Cosatu
delegation was prevented from entering Zimbabwe on Wednesday
A joint statement by Cosatu and ZCTU said the labour bodies
had called for a special executive meeting of the Southern African Trade
Union Co-ordination Council (Satucc) to organise concerted action in support
of these demands.
The statement read: "Options to be presented to the
Satucc and Cosatu central executive committee include intensified pickets,
demonstrations, including blockades of all borders to Zimbabwe, and setting
up of a legal-aid fund to assist the ZCTU."
Asked whether the labour
body was not worried about the impact of any mass action, Notyhawa, said:
"We voted for this government and it is obliged to protected
Notyhawa said: "Our priority is to take care of our own house first.
Why should we worry about the Zimbabwean government?
showed that they do not care about our government when they threw us out of
Zimbabwe, even though we are alliance partners of the ruling
He said the government could continue with its
quiet-diplomacy approach and they would continue with the
Members to debate all issues
Notyhawa said: "It is
pain that will change the attitudes of the Zimbabwean government."
said they were optimistic members would heed their call for mass
demonstrations as Zimbabwe's problems affected and burdened the
working-class in both countries.
Notyhawa said: "We will not carry
out any action without first reporting back to our regional and local
structures so that our members can debate all issues and give us
"The ZCTU will do the same."
The meeting also produced a
number of demands, among them the scrapping of acts prohibiting unions from
holding meetings without the government's permission.
Cosatu and ZCTU
have also called for the establishment of an independent electoral
commission, the presence of SADC observers to access pre-election conditions
and the end to Cosatu's prohibition to enter Zimbabwe.
Harare - The Zimbabwe government on Friday significantly
increased official charges for parties wishing to run candidates in March 31
The main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), criticised the move saying it was an attempt to
break the party's election budget and hamper its campaign.
government gazette published on Friday said the deposit charge for a
candidate had been increased 20-fold to Z$2m (about R2 200 at the official
exchange rate), while the cost of a copy of the voters' register is now
$Z10m - 10 times the previous amount.
The new charges were "clearly
an attempt to exclude our people from taking part in the democratic
process," said MDC spokesperson Paul Nyathi.
"The MDC is not as
well-endowed with resources as a party that helps itself to the contents of
the state coffers," Nyathi added in a reference to the ruling Zanu-PF party
of President Robert Mugabe.
Opposition figures on Friday also alleged
electoral fraud, saying that ruling party supporters were being brought into
an MDC constituency in Harare from rural areas and registered illegally as
Both developments occurred within 24 hours of the MDC announcing
it had decided to contest the election "under protest", because of the
"uneven electoral playing field". - Sapa-dpa