Police in Zimbabwe have detained at least two opposition
politicians on charges of incitement to violence.
The deputy leader of
the Movement for Democratic Change Gibson Sibanda and the party's youth
leader Nelson Chamisa are expected to appear in court later today to face
charges relating to remarks they are alleged to have made at rallies on
A MDC spokesman said both men deny the charges and say their
reported remarks have been taken out of context. State media reported that
they encouraged opposition supporters to attack followers of the ruling
party, but the spokesman said Mr Sibanda told the rally that it was not
unlawful to act in self defence.
The two men are being charged under
the Law and Order Maintenance Act which was used by the former white minority
government to suppress opposition to its regime.
Zimbabwe opposition MP beaten by soldiers By
David Blair in Harare
A ZIMBABWEAN opposition MP was assaulted by at
least 50 soldiers armed with whips, chains and clubs who raided his home
early yesterday. Job Sikhala, 28, of the Movement for Democratic Change, was
taken to hospital suffering from severe bruising and concussion. His pregnant
wife, his sister and housemaid were also severely beaten.
Nelson Chamisa, leader of the MDC youth wing, was arrested and detained in
Harare central police station.
The latest incidents have intensified
fears that President Robert Mugabe's embattled government has abandoned all
restraint and embarked on a new wave of repression.
During the past
eight days, a bomb has destroyed the printing press used by Zimbabwe's
largest independent newspaper, the Chief Justice has been hounded into
resignation and two peaceful demonstrations have been banned by
Mr Sikhala is the MP for St Mary's, 15 miles south of Harare.
The constituency covers an MDC stronghold in a town plagued by
The government has long suspected him of fomenting
rebellion among his poverty-stricken constituents and he is facing criminal
charges of incitement to violence.
There are now two funds to which donations for The Daily News can be sent
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe Chapter) has set up a Daily News
Appeal Fund. The fund will be managed by an independent firm of auditors.
appeal comes as a result of the bombing of The Daily News printing press
on 28 of
January between 1.30am and 1.45am
causing extensive damage to the Z$100 million printing press and the
arrests have so far been made. MISA -
Zimbabwe works to foster free, independent and diverse media throughout
Chartered Bank Ltd, Africa
Unity Square Branch, MISA
DAILY NEWS FUND, Account Number 0100206942100
Harare - Zimbabwe is gearing up for the
imposition of price controls "on all commodities, goods and services, produced
wholly or substantially" within the country. Price and wage restraint is part of
a social contract the government hopes will be adopted by labour unions and
employers. It is part of a new populist strategy it hopes will enable President
Robert Mugabe to win the next presidential election, scheduled for April next
year. Some aspects of the plan are already in place and others are taking shape.
Interest rates have been so set that the
yield on money market instruments is at least 45 percentage points below the
inflation rate of 55 per cent. Bank lending rates are also hugely negative and
the government is trying to finance its growing domestic debt by issuing
five-year government loan stock at an interest rate of about 25 per cent - or
less than half the inflation rate. The plan includes doubling minimum pay for
urban employees to about Z$6,300 (£78) a month, while imposing price controls on
basic items. These include the staple food, maize meal, cooking oil, bread,
flour, milk, meat and paraffin. Bus fares, rents and water charges are also
listed for a form of "price restraint".
Despite these populist measures, the trade
unions have rejected the contract, while employers make little secret of their
opposition to a plan they say cannot work. The government's part of the bargain
is to cut inflation to 40 per cent within the time-frame of the accord, to cut
the budget deficit from 23 per cent of gross domestic product last year to 3 per
cent by 2003, and to "continually introduce tax incentives - especially for
exports - and boost disposable incomes". The government also promises to
continue to manage the exchange rate and "maintain purchasing power parity with
our trading partners". This promise was first made last August, since when the
exchange rate has been pegged to the US dollar, becoming increasingly overvalued
by the week.
Political analysts describe the contract as
part of the government's wider plan to win another term in office for the
77-year-old president. Since few in business believe the social contract can
work, there is speculation that Mr Mugabe may call a snap presidential election
to try and exploit the wage award and price freeze, before the plan unravels.
Almost all economic forecasters expect the pace of economic decline to
accelerate as the year wears on, but the government insists that the economy
will bottom out this year and start to recover before the 2002
From The Star (SA), 4
Soldiers beat me with chains, says
Harare - Opposition politician Job Sikhala said 50 Zimbabwean
soldiers arrived at his home early on Monday and beat him and his family with
chains after trying to question him about next year's presidential campaign.
Three armoured cars drove over the fence around his home about 4am, Sikhala said
from the hospital where he was receiving treatment for his wounds. The soldiers
broke down the doors and said they had orders to kill him if he did not answer
their questions, he said. He was told: "We have orders to extract this
information from you, or kill you."
The soldiers asked him about the presidential strategies of MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and asked if the MDC had sent youths to Finland to
receive military training, said Sikhala. "I told them frankly, I was not the
presidential candidate. If you want to know about the campaign, you can ask
Morgan Tsvangirai," he said. "Then they started to beat me with chains and gun
butts, and they were very serious," said Sikhala. As the soldiers chased him
through the house, Sikhala said they slipped on the floor and he managed to
escape by jumping over his neighbour's fence and hiding in a bathroom. The
soldiers also beat Sikhala's wife, who is three months pregnant, his sister, and
their housekeeper, he said. Government officials could not be reached for
Police had accused Sikhala of inciting violence during the
January 13-14 parliamentary by-election in the remote district of Bikita-West,
but his case was remanded until March 28. The MDC became Zimbabwe's first
significant opposition party in June, when it won nearly half the contested
seats in legislative elections, but the poll was marred by widespread political
violence in which at least 34 people died and thousands more were beaten. The
MDC has challenged the results of the June elections in 40 constituencies, where
they say electoral fraud, violence and intimidation of voters compromised the
From The Star (SA), 5
Criticising Zim could put SA at
The South African government has refused to condemn Zimbabwe
for the recent bombing of a printing press belonging to the independent Harare
newspaper, the Daily News, because this might disturb valuable trade links.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said on Monday that upsetting the
Zimbabwean government could threaten stability in South Africa. "Zimbabwe is
fundamental to our security and is one of our biggest trading partners," Pahad
said. While it was "easy to sit in Europe and condemn Zimbabwe", condemnation of
the bombing could lead to Zimbabweans marching over the border "in their
millions". "They are already marching over in their thousands," Pahad said,
adding that while most countries had withdrawn aid from President Robert
Mugabe's regime, it was "a life and death matter" for South Africa.
He said South Africa was emerging as a major player in trying
to co-ordinate peace and development efforts on the continent. Pahad said South
Africa had honoured a UN request by agreeing to deploy a South African National
Defence Force technical support team to the DRC. Pahad said an announcement was
expected "very soon" by the mediator in the DRC war, Zambian President Frederick
Chiluba, on the date and venue of a summit between the main participants in the
peace effort. He added that proposals for the restructuring of SADC had been
accepted by the ministers of the various countries and they would be tabled for
discussion at the community's council meeting in Johannesburg later this month.
"There has also been an agreement on a SADC security organ to
deal with peace development. The heads of state have agreed on its structures
and on how it will work, and it will be endorsed at the summit. It will give us
the political and security structures to look at problems in the region
collectively," Pahad explained. The deputy minister said there was a
determination among African countries to end the DRC war and other conflicts on
the continent. The UN, the World Bank, the EU and the IMF had all agreed that
"the continent with the greatest potential" should not be allowed to get poorer.
"We must begin to utilise Africa, South Africa's biggest export market for
manufactured goods. Many people think that Africa is a burden, but it's not.
It's our oxygen," he said.
From The Daily News, 5
Angry Congolese nationals besiege
Congolese nationals resident in London last Wednesday besieged
Zimbabwe House, in which the Zimbabwe High Commission is located, demanding that
Zimbabwe pull its 12 000 soldiers out of the DRC. The Daily News understands the
demonstrators denounced President Mugabe's involvement in the DRC war. The
Zimbabwean High Commissioner, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, confirmed the
demonstration saying: "It was a very small group."
The demonstration lasted for about 30 minutes with the police
reinforcements being called in to prevent the protesters from breaking into
Zimbabwe House. "Out of Congo," "Mugabe is a killer" and a "Congolese solution
to Congo" were some of the slogans chanted by the group that brought traffic in
that part of central London to a halt. An on-looker told The Daily News: "They
then tried to break into Zimbabwe House and police reinforcements were quickly
brought in to stop them. The Congolese I have spoken to here believe strongly
that Zimbabwe had a hand in the death of Kabila. "The demonstrators said it was
time all foreign countries involved in the DRC, especially, Zimbabwe, moved out
so that a Congolese solution could be found."
From Associated Press, 5
11 reportedly killed in Congo
Nairobi - Hutu militiamen backing Congo's President Joseph
Kabila ambushed a bus in rebel-controlled eastern Congo last week, killing 11
passengers, a rebel-run radio station reported Monday. Nine men and two women
died in the attack on a minivan bus Friday on a road heading south from the
Congolese-Rwandan border town of Bukavu. Five survivors were treated for
injuries, Radio Bukavu, monitored in Nairobi, reported. Congolese rebel
officials could not be reached immediately for comment.
Since fleeing Rwanda in 1994, where they took part in the
genocide of more than 500,000 Rwandans, Hutu militia have laid ambushes and
attacked civilians in eastern Congo, leaving scores of people dead. The Rwandan
army backs the Congolese rebels who took up arms against Congo's late President
Laurent Kabila in August 1998. Rwanda demands that Congo rein in Hutu militiamen
using eastern Congo as a launching pad for cross-border raids into Rwanda. The
vast forests and mountains of eastern Congo have become bases for several
militia groups fighting the Congolese rebels and their Rwandan
the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has described the
judiciary as an “unguided missile” running parallel to the wishes of the
He said the government would not rest until there was a complete
overhaul of the judiciary. He said the judiciary should be politically
correct. Said Chinamasa: “Judges should represent our interests because if
they don’ t, we will criticise them. They are part of the three arms of
government and if they behave like unguided missiles, I wish to emphatically
state that we will push them out.” Chinamasa was speaking on the first day
of a seminar hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association under the
theme “Parliamentary Practice and Procedure, The role of a Member of
Parliament”. He said: “The judiciary is composed of people who were part of
the racist regime and personally, I am not happy. There is serious need for
reforms in the country’s judiciary to put it in line with the people’s views.
We have effected reforms in Parliament and I think they should be effected in
the judiciary.” His comments come amid heavy pressure being exerted by
government on the judiciary after the Supreme Court granted orders to white
commercial farmers stopping the government seizure of farms under its
fast-track resettlement programme. The intensity of the hostility was
marked by the forced resignation of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay last
week. Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Speaker of Parliament who opened the seminar,
called on Parliament to make the judiciary impartial and “pro-active where
there are gaps in our law brought about by our colonial legacy”. Said
Mnangagwa: “We should guard against the judiciary developing into
an omnipotent entity devoid of any accountability. The doctrine of
separation of powers should not be regarded as compartmentalised. The three
arms of the State should work in harmony and not in competition in order to
develop the national character.” He implored the MPs to combat
mismanagement and corruption in government. “Of course,” he said, “if
legislators are to be effective watchdogs and thus combat mismanagement, and
impropriety in government, they must themselves be above reproach. While some
legislators are keen to call the government to task, they are curiously
reluctant to put their own houses in order.”
Chihuri's confession on political loyalty sets tongues wagging
8:20:31 AM (GMT +2)
By Nyasha Nyakunu, Features Editor
his revelation that he is a dyed-in-the-wool Zanu PF supporter,
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri was like a gazelle blinded by the
headlights of an oncoming vehicle - unsure which direction to
Trapped in the glare of the headlights, in the wake of
mounting accusations of unprofessionalism, there was only one way out
Instead of earning him a reprieve from an increasingly
sceptical nation, his confession has seen him darting back into the
headlights he had sought to escape from.
Ensnared in the powerful beam
of scrutiny, Chihuri has civic society, pressure groups and Zimbabweans in
general demanding to see the back of him. Only then will they dim the lights
and spare him the public glare.
Credited with turning around the police
force when he was appointed commissioner, Chihuri appears to have since
fallen victim to the whims of the politicians who invited him to enjoy the
spoils of power.
His confession could not have come at a worse time when
questions were being asked as to why investigations have not been conducted
into the murder and brutal attacks of members of the opposition in the run-up
to last year's parliamentary election.
Five white commercial farmers
were murdered in cold blood and a number of journalists assaulted. More than
30 people were killed for allegedly sympathising with the MDC.
has been arrested in connection with the murders.
The Daily News was not
spared the anti-opposition purge when its offices where bombed during the
And as the violence, spearheaded by Chenjerai Hunzvi,
leader of a faction of the war veterans, escalates ahead of the presidential
election in 2002, the newspaper's printing press was bombed on 28 January
The violence erupted under the guise of a revolution to claim
back ancestral land owned by white commercial farmers following the rejection
of the draft constitution in February last year.
The draft contained a
clause empowering President Mugabe's government to forcibly acquire
commercial farms without compensation.
Wielding axes, spears and
knobkerries, mobs of ex-freedom fighters and landless peasants descended on
the white-owned farmland. Chihuri looked the other way, ignoring court orders
to evict the invaders from the farms.
The police commissioner was
apparently taking his cue from Mugabe who says the land question is a
political landmine which cannot be resolved in the courts, let alone by the
It is against that background that Chihuri made his
"Many people say I am Zanu PF. Today, I
would like to make it public that I support Zanu PF because it is the ruling
party. If any other party comes to power, I will resign and let those who
support it take over," said Chihuri at a belated Christmas party hosted for
the police support unit in January.
Earlier, the police chief had vowed
to crush the MDC if they went ahead with a mass action to force Mugabe's
resignation before 2002.
"The police will be out in full force during
this period to deal with this sickness of society in a ruthless manner. The
right measure of force shall be used if the so-called mass action goes
ahead," said Chihuri despite the MDC's cancellation of the planned
The commissioner's open sympathy for Zanu PF is not unique to
him as it has occurred elsewhere in Africa where those appointed to head the
national security institutions are beholden to the largess of an
Parallels can be drawn between Chihuri and the then
Inspector-General of the Nigerian police, Sunday Adewusi, as former President
Shehu Shagari desperately fought to secure a second term as head of
Adewusi, according to internationally acclaimed novelist and
writer, Wole Soyinka, inaugurated a scorched earth policy in order to ensure
his master's second tenure as Nigeria's president.
inspector-general reportedly became so partisan it seemed he did
not recognise himself as a public servant paid with taxpayers'
"These men are trained to kill," Adewusi would boast of some of
the members of the Nigerian police force. "Those who want to make trouble for
this government will have to face them. I guarantee such dissidents the
bloodiest experience of their lives."
Adewusi's language is chillingly
similar to that of Chihuri at a time when Mugabe is determined to win the
presidential election for a record fifth term in what will be an
uninterrupted 22-year reign.
Given that Chihuri's apparent aberration
comes at a time when Zimbabwe is on the verge of the total collapse of the
rule of law, this raises questions as to whether the police boss is out to
Or, is he just another political animal who has fallen
victim to the unconscionable thirst for power typical of many an African
leader, particularly those dubbed as the founding fathers who have the
dubious distinctions of awarding themselves life terms in
Conversely, is the 46-year-old police commissioner, as a
Zimbabwean citizen, not entitled to support a party of his choice
notwithstanding his long association with Zanu PF as a former freedom
Chihuri joined the liberation struggle when he completed his
secondary education in 1972. Following military training in Tanzania, he held
various command positions in Zanla, the military wing of the then Zanu
liberation movement led first by the then jailed Ndabaningi Sithole, the
exiled Herbert Chitepo and lastly by Mugabe.
At independence, he
joined the police as a patrol officer rising to the rank of deputy
commissioner in 1989 and subsequently became substantive police commissioner
Caught in that invidious position, observers note that Chihuri
can only trudge in the direction in which the sword of State points
Others feel that he should abide by his oath of office, failure of
which he should resign.
The Police Act is silent on the question of
political affiliation where it concerns the appointment of a police
commissioner. The commissioner is free to be a member of any political party
as enshrined in the Constitution which accords an individual freedom of
speech, association and assembly.
"It is, however, imperative that the
commissioner should be seen to be a servant of the public," says Professor
Solomon Nkiwane of the University of Zimbabwe's political science
"If the commissioner is identified as being a member of a
particular party, the people will not have faith in his execution of duties.
The public out there will continue to suspect that dockets have not been
opened because he is a member of a particular political party."
human rights lawyer, who asked not to be identified, says Chihuri has
the right to belong to a party of his choice.
"Therefore, it is not
reprehensible per se that the police commissioner is a member of Zanu
"However, it is reprehensible if he is allowing party bias to guide
him in the execution of his duties . . . such allegations have been made and
are naturally a matter of public concern."
In the United States it is
no big deal for civil servants to be members of political parties unlike in
England where there is a general rule that public servants should not have
The Harare-based lawyer was, however,
uncomfortable with Chihuri's assertion that he would only resign if Zanu PF
"It makes one wonder about his neutrality and this is an
Nkiwane says the Police Act in conjunction
with the Constitution, should be revisited and tightened to ensure the
appointment of a non-partisan police chief.
Under the present set-up,
Chihuri can only be removed by the President who in turn is not answerable to
Parliament when it comes to deciding whether to fire him or not.
that legal bind, one can only conclude that Zimbabwe is stuck with Chihuri at
a time when Mugabe probably needs him most as the countdown to the 2002
presidential poll begins.