Sent: Saturday, February 05, 2005 1:37 PM Subject: Little exercise book
Dear Family and Friends, An elaborate, painstaking and
unofficial census is underway in Zimbabwe. For the past two weeks they have
been going house to house and door to door with their little school exercise
books. They do not show any identification but say they belong to Zanu PF and
have come to find out how many people live in each house, how many adults and
how many children and how many of those are registered voters. All the
numbers are carefully written down in their little exercise books. They tell
you which constituency you are in and want to know if you have checked your
name on the voters roll. They say that on election day they will be
watching houses, counting people and checking numbers against their little
exercise books and if they don't see you going to vote they say: "you will
see what is going to happen to you."
At first, when it happened to me,
I just got angry with myself for having been intimidated by a couple of sour
looking women. Stupidly I just thought how worried the government must be
about voter apathy in the March 31st elections. But then, as the days passed
and other people told me about their encounters with the little exercise book
brigade, I felt less stupid on the one hand and much more worried on the
other. One woman friend told me that when the exercise book brigade found her
she was outside hanging washing on the line. They fired off their questions,
wrote their numbers down in the little book and then saw her teenage son.
"How old is he?" they demanded? Has he registered?" When it was heard that
her 18 year old son had not registered to vote, my friend was told that
her son must go and register and get an official stamp from the
Registry officials to prove he had been there. They said they would be back
to check on the official stamp and two days later they did exactly
When a man from a rural village told me how he had been visited by
the exercise book brigade, he said he had also answered their questions.
"Why oppose it" he said, "it is not worth it. They are counting us now,
know where our polling stations are and say they will know how we have
voted when the votes are counted." It was those words which sunk in and made
me realise what was really going on here. The new electoral rules state
that voting will be in one day and that ballot boxes will not be moved
to counting centres but emptied and counted at each polling station.
The exercise book brigade may not know how one individual person votes
but will certainly be able to tell how his village and the other two in
that constituency voted when the results are announced. My friend from
the rural village told me that the fear is already phenomenal.
week the MDC said that they would be participating in the March
31st elections but that they would be doing so under protest. It might
sound stupid to outsiders, but in Zimbabwe it takes courage to actually go
and vote and then great bravery to elect an MP not because you are scared
of him, but because you want good schools, clean water and a
safe neighbourhood. It remains to be seen if we, the voters, have the
courage to go and vote and then the bravery to choose peace and prosperity
and not fear. With less than 50 days to go until the elections and not
an international observer in sight, nothing is instilling confidence
right now. Until next week, with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 5th
Imprisoned MP defies Mugabe by standing for election By
Jane Flanagan in Johannesburg (Filed: 06/02/2005)
A white Zimbabwean
MP sentenced to hard labour for assaulting one of Robert Mugabe's ministers
is to defy the regime and stand for re-election in parliamentary elections
Roy Bennett's decision to contest his seat from prison on
behalf of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has infuriated
President Mugabe and senior Zanu-PF officials They are embarrassed by his
enormous popularity among the black population.
The government had
forced Mr Bennett, 48, to join a prison chain gang, hoping that his
humiliation would enable the ruling party to recapture the rural
constituency after his landslide victory over Zanu-PF five years ago.
Instead, his profile has been raised at home and abroad.
the authorities banished him to a jail more than 100 miles from his home
after mutinous fellow inmates at Harare Central prison protested over his
harsh treatment. They threatened to go on a hunger strike unless Mr Bennett
was issued with a new uniform that covered his genitals because his old
uniform left them exposed. Officials gave in.
Mr Bennett was sentenced to
10 months in jail by a parliamentary committee after he pushed Patrick
Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, during a heated debate in which the
minister branded Mr Bennett's family "murderers and
Although the law forbids convicted criminals from standing
in a general election, an official in the Attorney-General's office said Mr
Bennett had not been convicted by a criminal court.
He agreed to seek
re-election at the invitation of Morgan Tsvangirai, the president of the
MDC. The regime's determination to defeat him threatens to turn his
Chimanimani district, in the east of Zimbabwe, into one of the most violent
battlegrounds of the campaign.
One constituent, Tendai Dhliwayo, said:
"He has been unfairly treated. It is our duty now to prove Zanu-PF wrong by
retaining him." Another supporter, Mary Sibanda, said: "We have started
campaigning for Bennett. Even if he is in prison he will win hands
Mr Bennett's wife, Heather, told The Telegraph: "Many of the
people Roy represents feel responsible for the trouble he has endured since
becoming an MP. They feel that it was they who convinced him to give up
farming, so it is their fault that he is suffering."
imprisonment sparked international condemnation and protests at home, with
"Free Roy'' slogans appearing across Zimbabwe. A website dedicated to
freeing the MP received more than 1,000 hits on its launch day.
was sent to the chain gang, anti-Mugabe supporters lined up for days to
cheer and sing to him, whereupon the guards made him clean the lavatories
instead. Eddie Cross, a senior MDC official, said: "Roy speaks and thinks in
Shona and was greeted as a hero in Harare Central. He was a focus of
anti-government and anti-Zanu-PF sentiment. He was a complete embarrassment
and problem because the prisoners treated him as a hero."
husband was transferred to remote Mutoko Prison, Mrs Bennett has made the
200-mile round trip every fortnight with their two teenage children, to
spend just 10 minutes with him.
Despite the support for him, she said her
husband was in low spirits. "It is very distressing for the children to see
Roy as he looks now," she said. "He has lost about 18kg (40lb), has a
straggly beard and long hair and looks a terrible sight. He is infested with
lice and is more despondent by the day. He seems to have lost any optimism
The High Court heard an appeal against Mr Bennett's sentence in
November but is yet to pass judgment.
February 4, 2005 Posted to the web February 4,
THE Minister of Defence, Dr Sydney Sekeramayi,
yesterday said critics of defence expenditure should recognise that the
defence and security of any nation the world over, are not cheap
Dr Sekeramayi said the country's defence forces were the
guarantors of peace, tranquillity and stability, a fact that makes
expenditure on them absolutely indispensable.
He was speaking at the
Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare where he outlined Zimbabwe's Defence Policy
to students of joint command and staff course number 18.
A total of
45 students from Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia
and participants from the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the President's
Office are attending the course which commenced last month and ends in
December this year.
He said the continued inclusion of foreign students
in the course reinforced concerted efforts to achieve and enhance regional
integration as well as co-operation in the important area of defence and
Dr Sekeramayi said such collaboration should always be nurtured
and encouraged because it led to the development of a common security
perception and understanding among the defence forces of the
"Military preparedness should always be top priority even during
peacetime. It is during peacetime that defence forces the world over prepare
"While there may be no direct military threats to Zimbabwe
today, there may be one tomorrow," said Dr Sekeramayi.
volatile and unpredictable nature of the security environment, he said,
required the country to be always prepared to safeguard and guarantee its
territorial integrity and airspace whenever the need arises.
Sekeramayi said the country's desire to survive as an independent State
compelled and mandated the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to mould and maintain a
military force that was highly-trained, well-equipped, highly-mobile and
sufficiently strong to deter and deal with threats to the country's
peaceful, tranquil and secure environment.
He said Zimbabwe's Defence
Policy was centred on self-defence and the country does not harbour
extraterritorial ambitions, the reason why the army has always returned home
after campaigns outside the country's borders.
The Defence policy, Dr
Sekeramayi said, was an integral part of the political superstructure of a
society and the form that it takes was influenced by the political climate
in a country and that of other countries in the region.
said: "It develops on the basis of economic foundation of our society and
evolves from the overall national security and foreign policy. It is
symbiotic and harmonious linkage with the economy and political developments
within which it is formulated."
Dr Sekeramayi said the Defence policy was
a matter of Government determination, a protective umbrella of the country's
economic system and its security needs that sustain and promote the
development and progression of economic, cultural, ethical, legal and
political structures of the society in all their interactive
He said the Zimbabwe's Defence Policy supported its
foreign policy on non-interference in other states by championing preventive
diplomacy and good neighbourliness
"This also explains why it has
consistently adhered to the use of diplomatic and military contacts,
consultations and negotiations before disputes erupt into fully-fledged
Dr Sekeramayi said it should, however, be underlined that in
the event of inter-sate conflicts, Zimbabwe reserves the right to support
any state or states in accordance with her bilateral or international
obligations as enshrined in the existing bilateral agreements, treaties,
pacts, conventions and protocols.
He said Zimbabwe's participation in
resolving crisis situations in Mozambique coupled with its support for the
democratisation processes in Angola, Lesotho, South Africa, Somalia, Rwanda
and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was remarkable testimony of
the desire for permanent peace and stability in Africa.
has gone a long way in vindicating Zimbabwe's international posture as a
peace-loving nation which is always prepared to assist in a small but vital
way," said the minister.
Dr Sekeramayi said the Zimbabwe Defence Forces'
recruitment policy was based on a voluntary basis that takes into account
the nation's existing regional constituencies so as to afford equal
opportunities to all communities in the country and promotions were always
based on merit.
He said the Defence policy attached great importance to
training of military personnel in order to sharpen their professional skills
as well as prepare them for civilian life when they retire from active
Dr Sekeramayi said concerted efforts were being made to
ensure that all members of the defence forces were provided with decent and
adequate accommodation, reliable transport to and from work as well as
salaries and allowances that correspond to the prevailing economic
He said the forthcoming March 31 parliamentary elections
should be peaceful because it was absolutely not necessary to fight each
"Political differences can still be fought in a peaceful
environment, we want a peaceful Zimbabwe," he said.
Harare - Zimbabwe's main trade union denied reports on Saturday
that its top members had gone underground in South Africa after conferring
with their South African counterparts who had been deported from Harare for
trying to stage a fact-finding mission.
"We arrived home safely last
night," Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) deputy secretary general
Collin Gwiyo said on Saturday.
"I was surprised to read in one of the
newspapers this morning that we were hiding in South Africa. How can we be
hiding in South Africa when we all came back yesterday through the normal
Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper, The Herald, reported on
Saturday that five members of the ZCTU had gone into hiding in South Africa,
claiming their lives were in danger back home.
The team went to South
Africa to hold a meeting with the influential Congress of South African
Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday, a day after the Cosatu delegation of
fact-finders was immediately deported on arrival.
The first Cosatu team
was also unceremoniously kicked out in October. Their aim was to investigate
the state of affairs in Zimbabwe ahead of the March 31 parliamentary
Zimbabwe, through its official media, has said that Cosatu had a
hidden agenda and claimed that South Africa's largest labour union had
metamorphosed into a puppet of Western powers and big business.
the official line is that they had not sought the required clearance from
Zimbabwean authorities to stage their mission.
Zimbabwe's Labour Minister
Paul Mangwana has also gone on record as saying that Cosatu should stick to
domestic issues and underlined that Zimbabwe "is not a province of South
Both South Africa and Zimbabwe have said the deportation has not
affected their relations.
But it is an embarrassment for President
Thabo Mbeki's government, which is accused by critics of toeing a soft line
ZCTU's Gwiyo said the meeting in South Africa had been
"One of the objectives of Cosatu's failed fact-finding mission
was to see whether or not ZCTU was exaggerating about the situation in
"They now know that things are not normal and they are clear
about the situation. We are living in a police state and our colleagues in
Cosatu saw it for themselves."
At Thursday's meeting in the Musina,
both sides agreed that the March 31 elections should be postponed to ensure
that conditions are in place for a free and fair vote.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change party on Thursday announced that
it would participate in the elections even though conditions did not favour
a transparent and free vote.
choosing the lesser of two evils, a cost-benefit analysis is
Cosatu was booted out of Zimbabwe again this
week. The labour federation's principals, including general secretary
Zwelinzima Vavi, were told in unambiguous terms that they were not welcome.
In fact, some were told that they would never be allowed to enter the
Whatever sympathy Robert Mugabe's government
might have enjoyed with progressive-thinking people has now finally gone up
Elections are no guarantee of democracy. Indeed, they can
be the poisoned chalice of democracy because they give apparent substance to
the impression that elected representatives carry a popular mandate
throughout their terms of office.
But casting a vote is often
the endgame of a complicated field of battle that is shaped by incumbent
elites, access to money and access to power structures, in particular the
military. In the case of Zimbabwe, it is access to food and
The conditions for citizens to exercise their democratic
right to elect the government of their choice are therefore critical to
people's decision making. Cosatu is concerned that conditions for a
free and fair exercise of the ballot do not exist in that ravaged
In an atmosphere of fear and intimidation,
popular acquiescence is often misread as support. If the elections do go
ahead on March 31, there is very little doubt that Mugabe will romp home
victoriously. Opposition parties can either participate in the
elections or boycott them.
By participating, they stand the
risk of giving credibility to an increasingly fascist state, whose political
principals have effectively destroyed an economy that was one of the most
vibrant in Africa.
By boycotting, they deny citizens alternative
vehicles of representation, protest and challenge. The political management
of the economy will continue to rest exclusively with the Mugabe
dictatorship. There will be no recourse, except through civil society and
The ANC's ruse that it is up to Zimbabweans to sort out
the affairs of their country is diplomatic cowardice. Zimbabwe at present is
about the flagrant abuse of basic human rights.
Zimbabweans make, it will not be easy.
With a Z$1m a month tax threshold, Zimbabwe is a
paradise lost February 6, 2005
By Terry Bell
An African tax threshold has just been raised. As of now, only those
employees in the country earning more than Z$1 million (R1 117) will pay
tax. That is not Z$1 million a year, but Z$1 million a month.
Taken out of context, this sounds wonderful. But the context is Zimbabwe in
Given hyperinflation - now slowed down to a little more than
130 percent - and a fairly rapid decline in the real value of wages, this
new concession could be seen as too little too late.
latest survey of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, for example.
It looked at the cost of basic needs for a family of two adults and four
Food and transport alone cost more than Z$1 million a
month. When such essentials such as soap and washing powder, clothing and
footwear, rent, education and healthcare costs are taken into account, the
minimum income required for a family is Z$1.7 million.
budget comes with a word of caution. It applied last December.
"That was more than a month ago, so the same costs would probably be more
than Z$2 million by now," says Bright Chibvuri, the editor of the Zimbabwe
labour newspaper, The Worker.
This rapid rise in prices has led to
a situation where wage bargaining by unions and employers now usually takes
place every three months.
But in only eight of the 38 listed
sectors of the formal economy is the minimum wage set at Z$1 million or more
a month. At the bottom of the list are gardeners whose employers are legally
obliged to pay a minimum of Z$83 000 a month.
"Very few people
would pay that sort of minimum wage," says Wellington Chibebe, the
secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
"But even 10 times that amount is not
Chibebe notes that some "new farmers" - Zimbabweans
awarded farms under the government's controversial land redistribution
programme - are complaining that a recent minimum wage award of Z$177 000 a
month for farm workers is too high.
"Although this is still
primarily a rural and agrarian economy where people can rely on some
subsistence farming, it is a wonder how many people here manage to survive,"
says Godfrey Kanyenze, the director of the Labour and Economic Development
The institute has calculated the value of
average earnings throughout the economy up to 2002. In the 12 years from
1990, the purchasing power of average wages fell by half.
it is probable that the downward trend has continued."
Yet the bulk
of government tax revenue comes from individual taxpayers and not the
corporate sector. This in a country where perhaps as many as 70 percent of
the workforce is not in the formal economy.
So areas such as public
healthcare and education are falling apart. Even the government media
mouthpiece, The Herald, has reported that the once prestigious Harare
general hospital is now itself "in intensive care".
funding and the large-scale emigration of skilled staff are
"So enter the concept of cost recovery," says
He agrees that this will mean higher death rates among
the poor and fewer children being able to afford to go to
Several entrepreneurs point out that the government has
agreed to provide scarce foreign exchange to those parents needing to
maintain children who are studying abroad.
"At the same time,
we cannot get the funds for essential maintenance and equipment in the
productive sector," says a businessman who still retains his long-term
membership of the ruling party.
In this environment, the tourism
department sees no irony in the fact that Zimbabwe is advertised as "an
African paradise". In the narrow context of the Victoria Falls and the other
natural sights, it is probably a correct description.
unfortunately for the tourism department, the wider context keeps intruding,
giving the image instead of something of a paradise lost.
Zim banker 'fed info' to SA spy Posted Sat, 05 Feb
A 42-year-old Zimbabwean banker, Tendai Matambanadzo has told how he
was given thousands of US dollars for information on likely successors for
his country's president, Robert Mugabe, the Sunday Times
Matambanadzo said the South African spy he worked with was
known to him under the alias of Andrew Brown.
He claimed that Brown
told him he was a risk management consultant. Brown also said to him that
none of the information he sold was state secrets.
Brown is a 48-year-old
white man who lives in a suburb east of Pretoria.
According to the Sunday
Times, the newspaper knew his true name, but were informed by a spokesperson
for the Department of Intelligence that it was illegal to publish the
Matambanadzo said he met Brown at several hotels in Zimbabwe over
the three years since he met him in 2001. He said Brown was also dressed
casually and once even took him to his house near Pretoria where they talked
about sports and rugby.
Matambanadzo said he used to get a call in
Harare just saying that Andrew was in Harare and could they meet.
also claimed that he gave some of the money he was paid for information back
to Brown who allegedly had financial problems.
"He said he had personal
problems with alimony and child support," Matambanadzo
Matambanadzo and two others, Zanu-PF external affairs director Itai
Marchi and diplomat Godfrey Dzvairo, were arrested in December after Brown
was arrested. He named them and three others as part of his spy
Brown was being held at an undisclosed location in
Matambanadzo claimed that he did not know he was involved in
"But there were never any allegations that we stole
documents," he told the Sunday Times.
"We broke no law."
attorney representing Matambanadzo and the other two said nothing in their
confessions involved a state secret or a stolen document.