|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Regional Information Networks
February 6, 2004
Posted to the web February 6, 2004
Almost four years after the government of Zimbabwe adopted the fast-track
land redistribution programme, thousands of ex-commercial farm workers find
themselves displaced and without employment.
In 2000 the government embarked on the controversial initiative that drove
thousands of white farmers off their estates, saying it intended to resettle
land-hungry black Zimbabweans.
More than 300,000 farm workers who had been employed by the former
commercial farmers were also displaced in the process.
The Farm Community Trust (FCT), an NGO seeking to promote the welfare of
farm workers, bemoans the impact of the fast-track programme on the lives of
former commercial farm workers.
"The fast-track land reform programme created a class of Zimbabwean citizens
whose lives resemble that of refugees. First, they were displaced from the
only homes they had known for whole generations, and what is now emerging is
that the former farm workers are finding it difficult to regain stable
employment," FCT director Godfrey Magaramombe told IRIN.
He said the problem was pronounced in the provinces of Mashonaland West,
Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central, where the former farm workers were
still found in large numbers. The three provinces boast good soils and thus
had a high concentration of commercial farms.
A presidential land review of the fast-track programme found that less than
one percent of former farm workers had been resettled as part of the
programme. The majority migrated to urban settlements or their rural
communal areas, turned to gold panning or remained in the area, offering
their labour to the new farmers.
IRIN visited some of the farms in the Chinhoyi area, 140 km northwest of the
capital, Harare, and found that former farm workers had set up squatter
settlements, mostly on the outskirts of farms that used to be home, but were
now allocated to new settlers, particularly in the commercial A2 model
Living conditions and sanitation facilities were poor. The occupants lived
in pole-and-mud huts and used improvised pit latrines or went into the bush.
Very few of them had plots to cultivate because the new farmers did not
provide them with land. They lacked basic health and education facilities,
and children roamed the settlements because many of their parents could not
afford school fees.
"In the Mashonaland provinces, in particular, the farm workers have in
certain cases moved from their original farms, but have tended to confine
themselves in the same districts as where they used to work," Magaramombe
Fifty-five year old Silent Bhauleni, a Zimbabwean of Malawian origin living
on one of the new farms, told IRIN that providing for his family had been
difficult since he lost his job on a commercial farm that was reallocated.
"We have problems with the black farmers. They expect us to provide them
with labour on their farms for free, or very little money. Most of the time
they complain that they do not have money to pay us, saying they are just
starting to farm. As a result, they prefer to engage us as contract workers,
allowing us to stay on their farms in return," Bhauleni said.
"This means that we have to depend on the money that we get from the piece
jobs we do for them in order to survive, but that is not enough. [So] we
move from one farm to the other, doing contract work, and we can do that on
several farms a day and receive our money immediately after the stints," he
He said those who refused to do contract work were often chased away by the
new farmers, some of whom viewed the displaced farm workers as enemies,
since they were generally perceived to have been on the side of white
farmers, who had resisted land reform.
Bhauleni admitted that some of the former farm labourers were engaging in
illegal activities such as gold panning, gambling and prostitution, in their
quest to make ends meet.
"In most cases, the black farmers come with their own labour force, and the
new farm workers are usually relatives or people who come from the new
farmers' [home areas]," added Bhauleni.
Magaramombe said while the new farmers were offering Zim $38,000 (about US
$10.63 at auction rates) per month for a regularly employed farm worker,
some white farmers had been paying Zim $90,000 (about US $25.18).
An official with the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of
Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), speaking on condition of anonymity, accused the new
farmers of exploitative practices.
"These new farmers are engaging in unfair labour practices, taking advantage
of the hopeless situation the farm workers are in. They should give them
full-time employment when they decided to keep them on their farms, and pay
them in accordance with the labour regulations of the country."
He added: "Granted, most of the farm workers are stranded because they do
not have anywhere to go, but by keeping them on the farms, the new farmers
are virtually accepting them as their employees, yet they are not treating
them like that."
But one of the new farmers, Cyprian Chauke, said the former farm workers
were refusing to be employed by the new farmers. "They are reluctant to work
for us, saying we pay them too little. However, that is not fair because we
offer them the stipulated minimum wage of Zim $38,000. Even then, it should
be borne in mind that we cannot afford to give them what is beyond the
minimum rate because, as new farmers, we still have a lot to do to build our
own capital bases."
Chauke added that the farm workers were refusing to work because they were
receiving food handouts from the FCT, and charged that some of them were
resorting to stealing produce from surrounding plots.
Magaramombe acknowledged that his organisation was assisting about 100,000
farm workers in selected districts with food, but dismissed the allegation
that this was why they were refusing to be employed on a full-time basis.
"It does not follow that because we are assisting the farm workers with
food, they are using that as a reason not to seek full-time employment with
the new farmers," Magaramombe said. "There are many areas, for instance
Mount Darwin in Mashonaland Central, where hundreds of the farm workers do
not want to be taken on as regular employees, but we do not provide food to
Deteriorating Situation for Human Rights Defenders
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 6, 2004
"You lawyers, you want to show off. You think you
can just interfere in
matters anywhere ... you are only a lawyer at court. Here you are nothing.
Get away. Get out of the charge office. Far away! Go to your court."
Police have subjected most of Zimbabwe's human rights lawyers to such
attitudes during their attempts to represent arrested protestors and
opposition supporters in recent years. Many have also been arrested or
assaulted themselves while performing this legal duty.
After South African President Thabo Mbeki's recent controversial claim that
human rights are being used to try and overthrow President Robert Mugabe's
government, and attacks on Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in the
state media, the group anticipates even greater obstacles ahead for lawyers
This warning is contained in a new report by ZLHR director and human rights
lawyer Arnold Tsunga titled 'The Legal Profession and the Judiciary as Human
Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe in 2003: Separation or Consolidation of Powers
on the Part of the State?'
The report outlines 20 examples of attacks on lawyers and the judiciary
during 2003, ranging from arrest, harassment, assault and torture to denial
of access to clients and the state's refusal to respond to judicial
decisions with which it does not agree. Some involve multiple abuses, and
not all cases are documented.
It points to a recent 'unwarranted attack' in the state-controlled newspaper
The Herald on ZLHR following an article in late November in which it argued
in defence of the judiciary and the legal profession.
Among other things The Herald called ZLHR a "phony non-governmental
organisation which in fact does the bidding of foreign governments, and sees
rights of all those that are not white farmers or members of the MDC
[Movement for Democratic Change] as non-human rights".
On the contrary, the ZLHR is a non-partisan body whose objectives include
strengthening human rights in Zimbabwe, protecting the constitutional rights
of all people and advocating observance of the rule of law and the
independence and integrity of the courts and lawyers.
Further, Mbeki's 'unfortunate remarks' had the potential to create 'a real
danger of human rights defenders being attacked or clamped down on in
Zimbabwe'. Mbeki accused people in Zimbabwe and elsewhere of using "human
rights as a tool for overthrowing the government" and "rebuilding Zimbabwe
as they wish. In modern parlance, this is called regime change."
ZLHR believes that these remarks are likely to have far reaching and grave
consequences on the operating environment of human rights defenders in
The ZLHR report argues that the separation of powers between the three
organs of a democratic state - the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature
(Parliament) - provides checks and balances over the way state power is
exercised, allows for equality before the law and the enjoyment of rights
based on the rule of law.
In dictatorial regimes or states where democracy is failing, there is
blurring of the separation of powers. The Executive, which controls the
state machinery - including the army, police and other law enforcement
agencies - often becomes stronger than other organs and begins to undermine
In Zimbabwe, the Executive today routinely refuses to enforce judicial
orders that are seen to be unfavourable to the state or the ruling ZANU PF
party. 'The Executive has also attacked the judiciary openly, quite
unprofessionally and unfairly in a number of cases.'
Attacks on members of the legal profession have increased in recent years,
and the state has not always cooperated fully with lawyers in the discharge
of their duties, especially when they act for political opponents of the
ruling party or for human rights defenders.
He cites as a strong example the attacks on human rights lawyers who tried
to represent members of the National Constitutional Assembly and others who
were arrested during peaceful protests in October last year.
The police were 'completely uncooperative', manhandled lawyers, ejected them
from Harare Central station and refused access to the detainees. 'Such
conduct by the police is unlawful and undermines the due administration of
justice and the rule of law. It must be stopped.
"The attitude of the police to lawyers, which continues to deteriorate at an
alarming rate in Zimbabwe, is increasingly becoming an issue of serious
concern to lawyers." It is impossible to administer justice when law
enforcement agents refuse to cooperate with or allow lawyers to access
clients. "The rule of law will not work in this type of environment."
Three instruments clearly spell out the government's obligations and
responsibilities towards ensuring a judiciary free from political or other
interference, the ZLHR report states:
* UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary (1985), Article
1, which states: 'The independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by
the state and enshrined in the constitution or the law of the country. It is
the duty of governmental or other institutions to respect and observe the
independence of the judiciary.'
* UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990), Principle 17 which,
states: 'Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of
discharging their function they shall be adequately safeguarded by the
The constitution of Zimbabwe, Section 79B, which states: 'In the exercise of
judicial authority a member of the judiciary shall not be subject to the
direction or control of any person or authority.'
A year ago the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and
Lawyers, Dato' Param Cumaraswammy, expressed deep concern about
deterioration in Zimbabwe of 'the independence of the judiciary and its
impact on the rule of law.' Many local and international groups and
individuals have echoed his concerns in the past year.
There is no doubt under both international law and Zimbabwe's constitution
that lawyers and judges ought to be allowed to practice independently, and
without undue interference, harassment or impediment from the state or
It is critical, the ZLHR report concludes, "that the principle of separation
of powers be adhered to if democracy is to work in Zimbabwe". Instead "there
is an unhealthy level of political interference with the judiciary and the
justice delivery system."
"Judges and lawyers need to operate in a safe and free environment so as to
strengthen justice delivery and improve the integrity of the courts. The
responsibility to ensure the safety of judges and lawyers rests with the
But instead of protecting lawyers, the authorities are at the forefront of
attacks on the legal profession. 'With an administration of justice system
that is not effective and cannot offer real remedies to aggrieved parties,
the rule of law is violated and lawlessness creeps in.'
Further, lawlessness erodes the confidence of local and foreign businesses
and investors, citizens lose confidence in the rule of law, and courts are
unable to serve the national good.
"An environment where there is still hope for remedies is the least that the
people of Zimbabwe deserve. Politicians must therefore leave the judiciary
and lawyers alone".
Finally, the ZLHR report argues, African leaders should take care not to
compromise the security of human rights defenders on the continent: 'Mbeki
runs a big risk of compromising his own credibility as a responsible
leader', particularly in the eyes of most Zimbabweans.
The consequences for Mbeki's brainchild NEPAD, the New Economic Partnership
for Africa's Development, 'will be fairly predictable given its impression
of being rooted in observance of human rights, good governance and the rule
The International Bar Association, an organisation that represents the Law
Societies and Bar Associations around the world, and works to uphold the
rule of law.
Air Zimbabwe set to pay debt
Air Zimbabwe has
secured funds to pay its debt to the International
Air Transport Association (IATA), an official has said.
The airline's chief executive, Rambanai Chingwena, said arrangements
are under way for the remission of the money due to IATA.
The national carrier was suspended from the association over a debt of
$1.3m for tickets booked with other airlines.
IATA, acts as a clearing house between players in the aviation
Mr Chingwena said the airline's membership of IATA remains intact.
Last year, foreign airports threatened to impound Air Zimbabwe's
equipment if it did not pay outstanding fees.
The country's economy has been in freefall in recent years, with
inflation at 600% and shortages in foreign currency.
Asylum-seeker faces separation from child
By Martin Shipton
AN asylum seeker from Zimbabwe who watched as her uncle was shot dead by
Robert Mugabe's thugs could be separated from her newborn baby because of
harsh UK Government regulations.
Campaigners have urged the Welsh National Assembly to take up the case of
the mother and others who face a similar plight.
The asylum seeker, who is 26 and gave birth to her daughter in Cardiff last
week, fled Zimbabwe with her sister last May, weeks after her uncle, an
activist with the MDC opposition party, was murdered.
After arriving at Cardiff Airport the two women claimed asylum and were
initially sent to Home Office accommodation in Newport. They were moved to
Cardiff in September.
Both women have lost appeals to be granted asylum status, although until now
only the new mother has had state benefits cut off.
Last night the young mother, who fears victimisation if she is identified,
said, "We left Zimbabwe because we were terrified. Now we find ourselves in
a terrible situation in Wales.
"The last money I received from the state was £5 just after Christmas and
since then I have been living off my sister's benefits. It is very difficult
"I am now terrified that they will take my baby from me. I ask the
authorities here to help me and not to separate me from my daughter."
The father of the child is still in Zimbabwe.
The Rev Aled Edwards, chairman of Displaced People in Action, an
organisation that campaigns for asylum seekers, yesterday presented an
emergency report to the National Assembly's Equality of Opportunity
Committee on the plight of the young mother and another asylum seeker from
Guiana who is due to give birth in Wales on February 17.
The report said, "During the past few days, the debate concerning the care
of asylum seeker children in Wales has taken a significant turn. I believe
that it would be remiss of me not to bring to your attention the plight of
two young women living in Wales who have had support withdrawn from them.
"The needs of both women are pressing - one, from Guiana, is eight months
pregnant and the other, a 26-year-old from Zimbabwe, gave birth to a baby
girl last week. She had her support terminated on December 29. She is
currently living with her sister who is also on support and is helping to
"However, her sister is not supposed to be housing her in Home Office
accommodation and she will be evicted.
"Given that Wales now has a baby girl born to a destitute asylum mother, I
would ask the National Assembly through this committee and in co-operation
with the Children's Commissioner for Wales, to do all in its power:
"To ensure that baby B is treated in manner which is compatible with the UN
Convention of the Rights of the Child and in particular Article 9 which
states clearly that 'Children should not be separated from their parents
unless it is for their own good';
"To ensure that the National Assembly does not act in a manner which is in
breach of Section 107 of the Government of Wales Act that prohibits it from
doing any act which is incompatible with the European Convention on Human
"To reflect further on the appropriateness of granting new powers to the
Children's Commissioner for Wales to protect some of Wales's most vulnerable
people - its asylum-seeking children.
"To acquire assurances from the Home Office that Welsh children will not
have to turn to the proposed Children's Commissioner for England concerning
non-devolved issues, including asylum."
The committee agreed to investigate what powers the Assembly had to
After the meeting Mr Edwards said, "This woman is in a terrible limbo. She
has been refused asylum, yet the Home Office has a policy of not deporting
people to Zimbabwe."
Assistant Children's Commissioner for Wales Sara Reid said, "We are very
concerned about the situation of children asylum seekers. Under the Children
Act 1989 there is also a duty on public authorities to take full account of
the needs of children.
"So far as the legal position of the Children's Commissioner for Wales is
concerned, we are currently carrying out a thorough evaluation of various
Munya sees the human side
By DANNY ROSE
FOREIGN student Munyaradzi Chiraramiro emerged after two weeks behind bars
in Hobart yesterday and said the first thing he would do is call his mum.
"I can't believe I'm out," said the Zimbabwean who is also known as Munya.
"I've been really anxious to get out.
"First thing is I'll call my mum, and then maybe go for a few beers and
watch the cricket."
He was reunited with his mates who had gathered at the entrance of the
Hobart Remand Centre.
They have organised a fund-raising campaign and a benefit concert in a bid
to cover his outstanding university fees.
Hobart businessman John Elrick also stepped forward yesterday to pay a
$10,000 bond to ensure Munya's release.
Munya, 25, also spoke publicly for the first time of the visa row that has
put a halt to his university studies.
He said he had been overwhelmed by the response.
"I never thought my friends could come through for me like they have," he
"I have no words, I am just really touched by the level of support from the
"It shows the human side of Tasmanians and I really like it."
His release comes after he won apivotal appeal on Thursday.
The Migrant Review Tribunal found he should not have been denied a bridging
visa and therefore not have been detained.
His new bridging visa will allow him to remain in Tasmania only until
February 20 but he has avoided official deportation and its hefty costs and
a possible three-year ban on returning.
He can reapply for a student visa once he leaves Australia and covers his
His original student visa was ruled invalid due to thousands of dollars in
outstanding university fees, caused by the crash of the Zimbabwean dollar.
"Right now I have 14 days to leave the country and I have no work rights, no
study rights, and I have to report to immigration every day," Munya said.
"But I only need one more year to get my degree, so I'm keen to get back to
Munya will enter a fresh round of talks with his lawyer Surinder Mahindroo
next week to assess his future legal options.
He is facing another bill of almost $3000 to pay for his detention.
"I believe he shouldn't be paying it," Mrs Mahindroo said.
Munya said he may not return to Zimbabwe as his parents had warned it is
One option may be New Zealand.
"I hope to travel somewhere closer, somewhere cheaper," he said. * Donations
to the Munyaradzi Chiraramiro Trust can be made at branches of the Bass &
Equitable Building Society.
ABC Radio Australia - transcript
Warning about vast poaching in Zimbabwe
The World Today - Thursday, 5 February , 2004 12:21:30
Reporter: Sally Sara
HAMISH ROBERTSON: To Africa, where landowners and wildlife activists
are warning that thousands of animals are being killed by poachers in
Zimbabwe. In the absence of law and order, illegal hunters have moved on to
former white-owned farms.
As our Africa Correspondent Sally Sara reports, exiled farmers are now
calling on the Zimbabwean Government to protect animals which are under
SALLY SARA: Poachers and illegal hunters are helping themselves to
Zimbabwe's wildlife. There's little to stop them. In the back blocks of
former game farms and cattle properties, there are few signs of law and
Pen De Vries is a landowner. He and his family have spent the past 40
years building up their property south of Victoria Falls. They stocked it
with wildlife and made a living from tourism, professional hunting and
farming, but they were thrown off the land by ruling party supporters in
2002. Now Mr De Vries says, the poachers have moved in.
PEN DE VRIES: The situation with the poaching is absolutely chaotic in
Zimbabwe as we speak right now. It's really bad and I think that by the end
of next year and I believe that probably 80 per cent of the wildlife would
have been wiped out.
SALLY SARA: Some of the poachers are locals who are taking the
wildlife to make a living, others are foreign hunters who are making the
most of the chaos to hunt illegally. Wildlife groups are trying to gauge the
scale of the problem, but it's not easy to get access to the properties that
are under threat.
David Newton is a spokesman with international wildlife monitoring
group, TRAFFIC. He says many of the animals are being left to die in
DAVID NEWTON: Well I think there is no doubt that the use of snares is
not a humane way of killing animals and yes certainly animals can linger on
for hours, days, maybe a week before they finally succumb.
SALLY SARA: But there is little protection for the animals. Activists
inside the country are calling on the Zimbabwean Government to take action
against the illegal hunters.
Johnny Rodrigues is Chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce.
He says time is running out.
JOHNNY RODRIGUES: It is a major problem because the thing is, you
know, rules are made. They've been broken. At the end of the day, you know,
when you have got no law and order, you know, we say we say stop, it's not
right. It's a problem that is going to take from now anything up to 15, 20
years to solve. You know not many people are prepared to stand up and sort
of say "look this is wrong, let's try and solve the problem." It's like
putting a death sentence on your future generations.
SALLY SARA: For many of the landholders, there is little they can do.
Pen De Vries is now living in Adelaide with his family. It is unsafe
for them to return to their farm in Zimbabwe despite High Court orders,
which say that they can stay. Mr De Vries says it's difficult to watch the
animals and the land being exploited beyond their limits.
PEN DE VRIES: It is incredibly sad. I…, you know, to see your life's
work being destroyed in a matter of months. I mean, it's 40 years of work
that's basically been destroyed and yes it is, it's very difficult, it's
very sad to see it happening and you know, you feel really helpless that you
can't do anything to help these animals.
SALLY SARA: There's little sign of change. As Zimbabwe's political and
economic troubles worsen, the plight of its wildlife is being overshadowed.
This is Sally Sara in Johannesburg for The World Today.
WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE ARISE (WOZA)
To unsubscribe from this mailing list email email@example.com with subject
WOZA means 'Come forward'. By women for women, and with women, across race,
colour, creed, class or political persuasion. Empowering women to be
courageous, caring, committed and in communication with their communities.
Our protest message is: Cry Beloved Zimbabwe - Defend your right to love!
Join other women on Saturday 14th February, Valentines Day 2004 at 11:30am
at the following venues:
1. Bulawayo meeting place: outside the Small City Hall in 8th Avenue
2. Harare: Africa Unity Square in Sam Nujoma (Second) Street
3. London: Sympathisers in the UK will be supporting WOZA with a
simultaneous demonstration outside Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand in central
London email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Other locations to be advised.
5. ZRP Byo and Harare have been notified.
What we expect of participants:
· Attend the walk to show solidarity with other women.
· Show that you love Zimbabwe by bringing roses or any flowers to hand out
as we walk.
· We will walk peacefully through the streets dressed in white for peace.
· Follow the instruction of the walk marshals
· If you cannot join us, demonstrate at your closest shopping centre. But
please try to do it at the same time so that we are together.
· If the Police arrest participants, put flowers on Police Station/
(External at High Commission offices) pavements to remind them that
Zimbabweans still have the right to peaceful protest under the constitution.
WHY ARE WE ARE CRYING? We say CRY BELOVED ZIMBABWE...
· For those who have died from political violence.
· For rape victims and the victims of politically motivated rape used as a
form of torture.
· For our hungry children and orphans that we can no longer afford to feed,
clothe and educate.
· For our children living in exile as refugees
· For those who die of HIV/AIDS without access to healthcare.
· For many of us have lost our jobs and our self-respect.
· For all women who continue to be discriminated against in all spheres of
· We are crying to put out the fire of hate burning our beloved Zimbabwe.
DEFEND YOUR RIGHT TO LOVE AND LET LOVE OVERCOME HATE!
DEFEND ALL YOUR RIGHTS AND STAND FOR THE TRUTH!
Zimbabweans are told to HATE but choose to LOVE! This will be a better place
when the power of love replaces the love of power. We want Zimbabweans to
LOVE each other, help us by stopping this hate fire.
STOP spreading HATE:
· Newspapers, radio and television must balance their messages.
· Give us back our freedom of expression - remove AIPPA and POSA so we can
· Restore the healthcare system - Treatment and medicines availability is
· Disband the Youth Militia - our children come home infected with hate and
· Political violence is increasing: We must be free to vote for the
candidate of our choice.
· Corruption must be stamped out everywhere without favouring a small group.
WOZA ACTIVISTS SAY: DEFEND YOUR RIGHT TO LOVE AND LET LOVE OVERCOME HATE!
International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (Zimbabwe is a
signatory) Article 20:
Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes
incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by
Didymus Mutasa, ZANU PF Organising Secretary Mugabe: "We would be better off
with only 6 million people with our own people who support the liberation
struggle. We don't want all these extra people."
Solidarity Peace Trust in August 2003 Comments from youth militia themselves
about their activities: Interviews with youth militia in Zimbabwe and South
"It was about vandalism. We were used to do the things the State does not
want to do themselves. Then they can just say it was just the youths, not
"We are Zanu-PF's "B" team. The army is the "A" team and we do the things
the government does not want the "A" team to do.
"We got a lot of power. Our source of power was this encouragement we were
getting, particularly from the police and others. It was instilled in us
that whenever we go out, we are free to do whatever we want and nobody was
going to question that."
Constantine Chiwenga General, Zimbabwe's new defence force boss, giving the
country's doctors and nurses a final order to end their two-month strike "If
you refuse to co-operate, we can take you to the army barracks and detain
you, and you will see what will happen."
President Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe Independent 17 Jan 2004. Is there Hate
Speech in Zimbabwe "Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of
the white man, our real enemy! Make them tremble." "Whites are not human
For more information, please contact Ph: (+263) 11 213 885 / 91 300 456
or write P.O. Box FM 701, Famona, Bulawayo Zimbabwe Email:
Crisis Coalition Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Harare +263 4 747 817
Donation towards the care of orphans welcomed.
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Zimbabwe's only independent daily closes
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Journalists at Zimbabwe's only independent daily
newspaper left their offices Thursday after the Supreme Court ruled it was a
crime to work without a government license.
The Daily News, a platform for dissent against the rule of President Robert
Mugabe, was refused a license in December. It will not appear Friday, the
"We are not printing tonight," said Brian Mutsau, a spokesman for the
owners, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe.
Production was halted on Friday's edition after a meeting of executives and
staff at the paper's Harare headquarters.
The closure came even though police had not moved to shut the paper after
the nation's highest court earlier Thursday threw out a constitutional
challenge to the government's sweeping media laws.
The law makes it illegal to work as a journalist or operate a media
organization without official accreditation from the state Media and
Information Commission. Breaking the law can lead to two years in jail
without right to appeal.
Mutsau said the paper's journalists were planning to reapply for
accreditation in line with the ruling.
"Then we will see how it turns out," he said.
Without regular sales and advertising revenues, the embattled paper was not
expected to survive a new lengthy closure
The Daily News reopened Jan. 22 after long legal battle to remove police
from its offices and printing factory.
The government banned the paper in September and police blockaded its
premises after the commission refused to license it.
Opposition leaders, trade unionists and independent journalists have been
targeted in the crack down and Mugabe has been accused of packing the courts
with sympathetic judges.
Thursday's court ruling put journalists under the direct control of the
government with penalties of a fine and imprisonment for infringements of
laws enforced by the Information Ministry and the state-appointed media
commission, said attorney Sternford Moyo, representing the Independent
Journalists Association of Zimbabwe.
The Supreme Court rejected the association's contention that the
government's media laws violated constitutional rights of free expression,
Zim man in asylum ordeal
February 6, 2004
By Estelle Ellis, Peter Fabricius and Basildon Peta
For almost six months, Michari Moyo has been a man with no country.
Political violence has driven him out of Zimbabwe, the land of his
birth. His own passport barred him from Britain, where he has family.
A fraudulently obtained South African passport he used to get to
London landed him in the Lindela repatriation centre on the West Rand.
He doesn't want to go back to Zimbabwe. He was deported from Britain,
and South Africa doesn't want him either.
His case has confirmed a suspicion long harboured that Zimbabwean
refugees flee to London using South African passports. Diplomats say they
fear that if the problem increases, Britain might introduce visas for South
However, the London High Court has ordered the Home Office (ministry
of the interior) to do all it can to return Moyo to Britain, and last night
he was on a flight back to London.
Maxwell Zimuto, an information officer for Zimbabwe's opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, said the Zvishavane district, from which
Moyo hails, has been one of the areas worst affected by political violence.
He said MDC councillor Simon Dick had only this week fled his ward
after his house was burnt down by Zanu-PF supporters.
"I can tell you that we have seen some of the most horrific episodes
of political violence here," said Zimuto, describing Zvishavane and
surrounding areas as the "home of the green bombers" - members of President
Robert Mugabe's youth militia.
Last year, Moyo says, the political climate in Zimbabwe forced him to
flee his country. On August 26 he arrived at Heathrow Airport using a South
African passport, as he could not enter with his Zimbabwe passport because
he did not have a visa.
He immediately claimed asylum but, as his travel documents said he was
South African, he remained there in limbo for four months until British
immigration officials sent him back to South Africa under escort.
Moyo was handed over to the South African authorities and charged with
having unlawfully obtained a passport.
held at the Kempton Park police station for four days before
being transferred to the Lindela repatriation centre, where he was until
last night, awaiting removal to Zimbabwe.
Hours before repatriation, his family, who were already in London,
brought an urgent court application to force the Home Office to help him. A
Nick Sheppard, spokesperson for the British high commission in
Pretoria, explained that there was a general moratorium in place in Britain
against deporting illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe.
The blanket order stipulated they should be allowed to stay in Britain
until they had had the opportunity to apply for asylum.
But, he said, Moyo had arrived in Britain on a South African passport
under a different name - Molepe.
When British immigration authorities contacted South African
authorities to check this, they confirmed that Molepe had been issued a
passport properly and was therefore a South African.
"On that basis, he was returned to South Africa, since we do not grant
political asylum to South Africans," Sheppard said.
It was discovered only later that his passport should not have been
issued because he was Zimbabwean.
Official sources said he probably got it by paying a corrupt Home
Affairs official R4 000 - the going rate.
Official sources said the British court order to send Moyo back to
Britain could open the door to many more Zimbabweans.
They said that every night "a good few" Zimbabweans with false South
African travel documents were embarking on flights from Johannesburg to
The British government charges airlines £2 000 (about R24 000) for
every passenger they bring in who is not supposed to be in the UK, so it is
not in their interests to let these people through, an official said.
VIEW FROM KUTAMA
The story of a lecturer and an
BY MTHULISI MATHUTHU
WHEN we were mass communication students we were used to inviting scholars
and particularly senior editors from the main stream media to come and share
with us their experiences and to advise us where possible.
One Friday in May 1997 it occurred to us that we had invited nearly all the
editors including the then government Director of Information Bornwell
But one important newspaper was yet to be invited and that was the Zimbabwe
We decided to invite Iden Wetherell who at that time was the assistant
editor. All our journalism lecturers gave us a go ahead but one problem
history, English and mass communication theories lecturer who was also the
head of department, was firmly against the idea.
We had known that Mahoso would object to Iden’s coming to address us and
that generated a lot of interest among all the students.
The whole week we debated the issue. Others suggested that instead we should
invite Iden’s editor Trevor Ncube but those of us who were already
anticipating drama said no.
Mahoso had repeatedly told us that Iden was the author of the satirical
Muckraker column which had persistently caricatured him as a dinosaur in the
newly established Zimbabwe Independent
“If he is the author of such a column then we need him here”, the guys in
our class would say. After all Muckraker always castigated trainees from our
college as inadequately trained and we wanted to hear him say why.
We decided that come what may Iden would address us. A Zimbabwe Independent
correspondent, Kelvin Jakachira, who was in our class volunteered to put the
invitation to Iden on a particular afternoon.
That day we waited for Jakachira to return with the news and as we saw him
approach from the main entrance we gathered around him. The news we were
waiting for had come. Iden had agreed.
“Muckraker comes to Polly,” some controversial guys would write on the
blackboard just before Mahoso’s lessons throughout the whole week.
Guys in my class literally enjoyed Mahoso’s annoyance with the Independent
editors whom he called “house niggers”, “Rhodesian right wingers” and
Above all we really wanted to see in flesh the man whom Mahoso said was the
author of this column called Muckraker. Some of us had met Angus Shaw aka
Andrew Saxon before but not Muckraker.
Come Friday, Mahoso who always attended the Friday meetings as the patron of
the press club, was nowhere to be seen. Neither was Iden. We waited. Later
we resolved that Jakachira should go and remind him because the Independent
offices are a just a stone’s throw away from the college.
After a short while we saw his car halting outside. There was much
excitement and whistling. Some mischievous fellow had scribbled something on
the notice board to the effect that Mahoso had fled. I think it went like
this: “ Mahoso flees as Muckraker arrives”.
Somebody said “Mahoso zero Muckraker one”. I still remember one first year
girl asked her colleague: “Where is the Dr”. “Which Dr?” asked Iden who had
overheard the conversation.
“Dr Mahoso”, went the answer.
Iden chuckled and the guys loved it.
The topic was broad: Press Freedom in Zimbabwe. Iden gave a coherent
analysis and I remember him saying something to the effect that all those
who were in public office “should also be in the news”.
Suddenly something happened. A broadcasting lecturer, Olga Ndoro brought in
his cameras, began recording and in the process pushing the students who
were sited upfront. Iden didn’t like it.
“Kelvin tell this guy that he is disturbing us. Who is he,? He asked
We liked the whole thing and Kelvin (Jakachira) was in a fix. lden was his
editor and Ndoro his senior lecturer.
By the time things calmed down I was already convinced that this man
speaking in front of us was either Muckraker or Muckraker ‘s friend. Why
because he kept saying : “That’s what my colleague Muckraker is saying."
Iden continued to defending the paper for publishing the CCJP report which
detailed the Robert Mugabe regime’s atrocities in Matabeleland and the
Midlands in the 1980’s.
I hasten to add that the issue of Matabeleland was one of the things on
which Mahoso really didn’t agree with the Independent. The paper was
revisiting it because its white owners and its Black Uncle Toms were bent on
driving a wedge between the people of Matebeleland and the rest of the
country, Mahoso argued.
We put that to Iden and he said as far as he was concerned the issue of
Matabeleland was a good story which any editor worth their salt would be
happy to run.
Guys in my class literally enjoyed Mahoso’s annoyance with the Independent
editors whom he called “house niggers”, “Rhodesian right wingers” and
He also insisted that there was nothing wrong with Tony Namate’s cartoons as
they were just similar to those enjoyed by readers elsewhere across the
Leaders have got to be subjected to the Punch Magazine like cartoons, he
Come question time. Jethro Chimanga, now with Sport FM asked: “Who writes
the Muckraker column”.
The answer came out like a bullet: “Muckraker is our colleague”.
“Who is that colleague?,” somebody intervened. “He is our colleague and that
’s all,” Iden insisted. Questions were just flying. Somebody also asked why
the paper was bent on exposing scandals about the ruling elite and not about
the IMF and so on. The sins of Breton Woods institutions shouldn’t be used
as excuses for corruption and murder, Iden responded.
The other one worth mentioning came from the Herald reporter, Lovemore
Mataire who wanted to know a bit about the guest speaker’s history. He also
wanted to remind Iden about some article which he said he had read in some
magazine (Reader’s Digest I think) where he had sounded like he was bitter
about Mugabe having become the head of state.
All the questions and comments, I think, were out of the curiosity feeding
from the many things we had been told by some lecturers about Iden. So we
wanted him to clear the air and I don’t know if Kelvin had put that to him.
Why do I tell this story? It is a story I hope will be of interest to those
who have read the exchanges in the newspapers between Mahoso and Iden. Iden
is my former editor and Mahoso my former lecturer and both of them have done
good to me.
I remember when as a student Mahoso did me a great service. More than
once he recommended me for part time jobs. I translated brochures for
multi-national companies and earned myself extra cash. The other day he
me to a Lebanese writer, Gibran Kahlil whose book has been used even by
modern musicians and poets.
Iden on the other hand despite his belief that we were inadequately trained
(It is one of the views which he shares with my friend Muckraker) gave me an
opportunity to work at the Independent.
So many years down the line nothing has changed except that they have
changed offices. Mahoso is now the chairman of the Media Commission and Iden
is now the editor of the Zimbabwe Independent.
Mahoso is still convinced that Iden is a racist. Iden on the other hand is
still convinced that Mahoso is not a genuine professional but just an
I disagree with both of them on many instances. Iden for example has tended
to want to make it appear as if only Mahoso’ students need extra coaching.
But I know that some of the people he has often referred us to for guidance
have written false things. Most of them still do.
One of them got himself excused from writing for a leading South African
paper for many reasons which I know included lifting stories written by
Recently while in Nairobi, I bought a book by one of them and the
inaccuracies are just appalling. Iden’s emphasis on his observation that
Mahoso’s students need retraining has tended to be driven by his contempt
for Mahoso than the desire to teach. He regards it as a weapon than a
Most of the time he uses it in a conversation it will be meant to subdue.
Mahoso on the other hand preaches a lot about tolerance but I am afraid to
say he is one of the most intolerant people around.
Just before we had known much as journalism students Mahoso was already
refusing to allow us to hear Iden. Imagine a trainer of journalists wanting
to bar his students from hearing the other views! Even going for attachment
at the Independent was discouraged.
In another incident, I recall meeting Mahoso at the Oasis hotel with a
colleague who is also a former class mate. We approached and greeted him
with his friends Rino Zhuwarara and Vimbai Chivaura.
It was as if he had met two devils. He really was repulsive. It was only
after Chivaura and Zhuwarara had shook our hands that Mahoso started talking
The reason was that we were working for a paper he resents. I was
Both Mahoso and Iden (like you and me) are not saints and so I will leave
their exchanges alone. The debate is of public interest only in as far as
both men are
occupying important offices in our society.
Mahoso is the Chairman of the Media Commission which can close a newspaper
while Iden is the editor of a leading business weekly taken seriously by
many and is currently under threat.
But I will stick to the Zimbabwe Independent and the race issue which is the
paper under threat. All the drivel against the paper suggests an intention
to either inflict direct damage to it by closing it down or by scattering
its staff through deporting some individuals.
There is a thin line these days between the rights of a particular
journalist and those of anybody else. If any of the above things happen to
the paper the damage should be shared by all those of us who value the
importance of free expression. Jonathan Moyo, I think, in his right frame of
mind understands the importance of that particular paper.
After all he has contributed brilliant articles in it and even as he is
it he attacks only the staff some of whom he has grudges against but not the
essence of its existence.
Mahoso on the other hand is contemptuous of the paper. He is chocking about
it. That is why he is refusing to send his complaints to the paper but will
choose to go to the captive media.
I can say this because as students we well understood the intensity of his
contempt so much so that a joke went around that if you want to pass Mahoso’
s essays just attack Trevor Ncube and his paper.
To me the Independent is a paper that we need. It is a paper that built many
people’s CV’s and they have gone on to become good journalists elsewhere.
Even Trevor Ncube today has an option to sell it and concentrate on his new
find in South Africa, the Mail & Guardian but I know that he understands the
importance of a good CV back home.
He understands how that paper has changed many things and people and
therefore should remain in safe hands. It is the sort of a paper that has
set standards and achieved many things which others have only gone on to
The copy is checked and double checked. The writing style and the
resentation of news analysis have been copied. The English is ace. Before
joining the Independent I worked elsewhere under a young editor I consider
to be fairly intelligent but he shocked me one day. He insisted that words
such as totalitarian and authoritarian were too strong to be used in
reference to modern regimes and leaders.
They had better be reserved for the Bourbons, Iven the Terrible and other
tyrants of the earlier era!. At the Independent there wouldn’t be anything
More importantly the Independent has helped in alerting people to the
dangers of monolithic thinking which prevailed in the 1980’s when people
praising this regime while a tragedy was unfolding.
The paper has given its share in the fight to deconstruct myths about
President Robert Mugabe and his party. In just a few weeks time it had made
see who was naked. The achievements are many. To pull it down is to kill
debate and suffocate the free word.
So reason must prevail - email@example.com
Chidyausiku upholds Aippa
IN a clear endorsement of the government's Media and Information Commission,
the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the regulatory body was
constitutional and laws prohibiting journalists from practising without
accreditation were legitimate.
The ruling is likely to have a chilling effect on the practice of journalism
in Zimbabwe and provides the government with the weapon it needs to deal
with dissent in the independent press.
the same time the Supreme Court reserved judgement in an application by
the MIC filed on Tuesday to stop the ANZ from publishing its two titles
pending finalisation of the appeals on February 18.
Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku's ruling yesterday in the case brought by
the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (Ijaz) was assented by
Justices Misheck Cheda, Vernanda Ziyambi and Luke Malaba. But Justice Wilson
Sandura produced a dissenting judgement upholding freedom of expression.
(See story below.)
In response to a November 2002 application by Ijaz
constitutionality of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa) and the powers of the MIC, headed by Tafataona Mahoso, Chidyausiku
ruled that it was constitutional for journalists to be registered with the
MIC as stated by Section 79 of the Act. He ruled that Section 83 which
prohibits journalists from practising without accreditation was also
constitutional as were the powers vested in the MIC under Section 85.
In a joint statement yesterday Ijaz, the Media Institute of Southern Africa,
and the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe said the sections upheld by the
court posed a serious threat to the work of journalists and infringed on
their rights to freedom of expression and that of the media.
"These sections compel all journalists to be accredited by MIC
and make it a
criminal offence to practise journalism without accreditation," the groups
said. "While there is nothing wrong with accreditation for administrative
purposes, we are concerned however that the MIC and the Minister of
Information are accorded quasi-judicial powers to decide who works as a
journalist or not. In other words the MIC and the minister have arbitrary
powers to decide who may or may not practise as a journalist."
The court however struck down Section 80 (1), (a), (b)
and (c) of the Act
which was deemed to criminalise the abuse of journalistic privilege.
"Criminalising the abuse of a privilege is patently oppressive," the
Parts of the section have already
been struck down in an earlier ruling by
the same court and it was also amended by parliament last year.
But it is the upholding of Sections
79, 83 and 85 that is likely to leave an
indelible mark on the media considering allegations of partiality by the MIC
when dealing with independent media organisations.
In his ruling Chidyausiku contended
that Section 20 of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe guarantees freedom of expression but does not guarantee freedom of
nothing in the language of the Section 20 (1) that suggests that
legislature intended to confer on an individual a constitutional entitlement
to work as a journalist," said Chidyausiku.
Supreme Court said that the "practice of journalism is different from
other liberal professions such as law and medicine" which are regulated by
"It is correct that the practice of journalism
involves the exercise of
freedom of expression, the receiving and imparting of information," said
"This distinction in my view
does not place the practice of journalism
beyond the control of statutory regulation."
He said the fact that the press was important did not
place it above the
Sternford Moyo of Scanlen & Holderness, representing Ijaz, had contended
that the licensing of journalists was unconstitutional as this did not fall
within exceptions to freedom of expression like providing for public order.
But Chidyausiku differed.
"I find myself in agreement with the proposition that a law
the licensing of media falls under the exception of the law providing for
law and order," he said.
The Chief Justice also
rejected Moyo's claim that Section 79 conferred too
much power on the Information minister in the licensing of journalists.
"I am unable to accept this submission for a number of reasons," said
Chidyausiku. "A proper reading of the section reveals that that section
confers on the commission and not the minister certain powers.
"If the suggestion is that the
commission is sufficiently not independent of
the minister or is controlled by the government, the argument is
misconceived," he said.
Section 83 which outlaws practising without a licence, Chidyausiku ruled
that the section was constitutional.
"Section 83 prohibits an individual
from practising as a journalist unless
he or she is accredited as a journalist. The issues raised here are
identical to those raised in respect of the challenge to Section 79. What I
said in regard to Section 79 applies with equal force to Section 83. In my
view, Section 83 is constitutional," he said.
ZIMBABWE'S most experienced Supreme Court judge, Justice Wilson Sandura, has
distanced himself from Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku over the issue of
compulsory accreditation and punishment of journalists under the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
In a powerful dissenting judgement which followed Chidyausiku's ruling
yesterday that it was constitutional for journalists to be forced to
accredit with the Media and Information Commission (MIC), which is chaired
by Tafataona Mahoso, Sandura said compelling journalists to register was
clearly ultra vires the constitution.
Sandura said mandatory accreditation was
unconstitutional because it
violated Section 20 of the constitution. The section, which is in sync with
constitutional developments in tested democracies, gives journalists, as
well as other citizens, freedom of expression that includes the liberty to
"hold opinions, receive and impart ideas and information without
interference" unless where state restrictions are reasonably justifiable in
a democratic society.
accreditation of journalists by the MIC under Section 79 of Aippa was
subject to approval by Information minister Jonathan Moyo and permanent
secretary George Charamba, Sandura said this effectively meant that it was a
restrictive measure and not a mere routine.
is not, therefore, a mere formality. If it were, why
would it need the minister's approval?" Sandura asked.
Chidyausiku said Section 20 of
the constitution, that guarantees freedom of
expression, did not protect freedom of the press.
However, Sandura said: "It is pertinent to note
that there is no rational
basis for distinguishing the practice of journalism from the exercise of the
right of freedom of expression because the two are intertwined."
Sandura, a Supreme Court judge of several years
standing, said the task
before the court should have been to consider whether or not the
"restrictive provisions of Section 79 are reasonably justifiable in a
democratic society" and "sufficiently important to justify limiting a
He said Moyo claimed the idea of
accreditation's main objectives was to
ensure accountability and easy access to events by journalists. As the issue
of access to events applied only to voluntary accreditation, Sandura said
compulsory registration was therefore the issue.
"Regrettably, the first respondent (Moyo) does not say how
that a journalist be accredited, before exercising his rights as a
journalist, would achieve the intended objective (accountability)," Sandura
"Nevertheless, I am satisfied that the legislative objective given is not
sufficiently important to justify limiting freedom of expression."
Quoting another judgement, Sandura said freedom of
expression could not be
limited on flimsy grounds because it was "a cornerstone upon which the very
existence of a democratic society rests".
Sandura said the Aippa provision that Moyo claimed was aimed
journalists accountable was unnecessary because "provisions of common law
and criminal law make the journalist accountable for his actions".
He also said the provision which empowers MIC to penalise
violating Aippa in general was flawed because it suggested punishment of
journalists for contravening sections of the law that are in themselves
While Sandura agreed with
Chidyausiku that "criminalising the abuse of a
privilege (as Aippa did) is patently oppressive", he also ruled that
provisions of Section 80 that deal with "falsifying or fabricating
information, and publishing falsehoods" were also unconstitutional "simply
because the publication of false statements is protected by Section 20 of
Pressure mounts on govt to reinstate Matombo
PRESSURE is mounting on the government to reinstate Lovemore Matombo, the
president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) who was dismissed
Matombo was dismissed on January 23 by the Zimpost management for being away
without official leave while leading the ZCTU delegation to the 8th ordinary
Congress of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) which was
held in Khartoum.
Sunmonu, the secretary general of OATUU, last week wrote a letter to
Labour minister July Moyo complaining about the dismissal.
"As you know, honourable minister, the action of the Zimpost management is a
gross violation of human and trade union rights," Sunmonu said.
"I cannot imagine that an African trade union leader can be dismissed from
service for attending the OATUU congress. And such dismissal, coming from a
parastatal of the Zimbabwe government, makes it doubly embarrassing," he
Sunmonu asked the minister to appeal to Zimpost to
In another development, the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
(ICFTU), which condemned the dismissal in a statement last week, has written
to Moyo seeking Matombo's reinstatement.
ICFTU secretary-general Guy Ryder said the dismissal
was carried out on
"totally spurious grounds and cannot be justified".
"The ICFTU is outraged that Matombo has been victimised
for his trade union
activities and demand that you intervene immediately to ensure that he is
reinstated in his position in Zimpost," Ryder said.
"It is a deep embarrassment to your government that Matombo has
dismissed for attending a meeting of African trade unions when the
government of Zimbabwe purports to be such a strong supporter of the African
"As Minister of Labour, you will no doubt
appreciate your government's
responsibility to guarantee full respect of internationally guaranteed
principles on freedom of association and the right to organise, as embodied
in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention ratified by
Ryder said failure by the
government of Zimbabwe to intervene would severely
tarnish the image of the country on the African and wider international
also said if no action was taken, it would call on the solidarity
of its 151 million membership in 150 countries to launch an appropriate
action against the government before the ILO.
Bid to block Gweru Restart launch fails
A BID by police to block the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
from launching its economic recovery plan in Gweru yesterday failed when the
High Court ruled that it could proceed.
High Court judge Rita Makarau gave the MDC the go ahead to launch its
economic blueprint, known as Reconstruction, Stabilisation, Recovery and
This is the second time that the government has tried to
block the MDC from
launching its flagship economic programme. Last Thursday when Restart was
launched in Harare, the MDC had to seek a High Court interdict to prevent
the police from blocking it.
Paul Themba Nyathi said the party had informed the police
in advance of their meeting. But Chief Superintendent E Mbewe, the officer
commanding Gweru Urban, replied that the launch could not go ahead as the
police were "committed elsewhere during the period".
Nyathi castigated the government for its action.
"It is a big shame on the regime that the MDC has to
go to court every time
it seeks to outline its policies," Nyathi said.
"Zanu PF started showing these signs of panic last week,
stories about the MDC economic policy. Zimbabweans will no doubt be
wondering why Zanu PF seeks to stop the people knowing the contents of that
programme," Nyathi said.
Political violence persisted in 2003 - report
POLITICALLY-related violence clai-med 10 lives in 2003, a Zimbabwe Human
Rights NGO Forum report revealed this week.
The forum's December 2003 report, which recorded the 2003
politically-motivated deaths in the alphabetical order of names of the
victims, claims that of the 10 deaths, six were MDC supporters, two Zanu PF
supporters while the other two could not be linked to any party.
The Zimbabwe Independent in
October 2002 reported the politically-related
death toll as having risen to 151 since 2000. Fifty-eight of the recorded
deaths occurred in the year 2002 indicating the impact of violence during
the presidential election campaign.
The forum's report identifies Given Makombe who died on
December 9 as the
latest victim of violence.
"Makombe, an MDC
supporter, died in Chirorodziva as a result of injuries he
reportedly sustained when he was severely assaulted by members of the 'Top
Six Gang' during the 'final push' on 3 June 2003," the report says.
"He had earlier been a victim of a Zanu PF bomb attack on 21 March 2003,
after which he, Konjana and Matamisa, also of the MDC, were allegedly
tortured by youths and then arrested by the police."
The report said implicated in the bomb
attack is one Saidi.
"Police reportedly intervened, arrested and then detained Saidi. When
Makombe was attending council elections in Kariba, he and other MDC
supporters were apparently attacked again by the Zanu PF youths," the report
It is reported that his health continued
deteriorating until he died on 9
The forum deplored
the continued violence and displacements of opposition
supporters from their homes.
"It is deplorable that Zimbabweans should continue to be
their homes on the basis of their political opinions and beliefs in
violation of Section 21 of the constitution which guarantees every
individual's right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and
in particular to form or belong to political parties," the report says.
The report says violence continued in Kadoma Central following
of a by-election over the weekend of November 29/30 2003. Members of the
opposition MDC reported being abducted, threatened and assaulted while votes
were being counted following the conduct of the election.
"A number of incidents reflected a lack of political
supporters of the two contesting political parties with MDC supporters
claiming that they were abducted to a Zanu PF base at a school in the area
where they were beaten," the report says.
supporter was reportedly hit with a stone on the forehead by Zanu
supporters while at the vote-counting centre in Kadoma Central. He suffered
severe injuries to the head. Another was reportedly kidnapped by Zanu PF
youths, taken to their base in the area, and assaulted with planks on the
buttocks and arms. He fractured his right forearm.
Rights Forum deplores the ongoing harassment of Zimbabwean
citizens through frivolous arrests that are intended to prevent them from
exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly," the report
"This trend has prevailed throughout the year 2003
with arrests initially
being made under the pretext that the demonstrators had violated the Public
Order and Security Act.
often than not, as was the case with the arrest of 19 members
of Woza and journalists who were covering the story, those arrested are
later released without charges being preferred against them or alternatively
charges are dropped before plea," the report says.
Two-horse race in 2005
PARLIAMENTARY elections set for next year are likely to be a two-horse race
once again as small parties remain in briefcases and may only surface at the
Shakespear Maya's National Alliance for Good Governance (NAGG), Wilson
Kumbula's Zanu Ndonga, and Zapu led by Paul Siwela contested the 2000
parliamentary election as well as the 2002 presidential election and made no
impact at all. Only Zanu Ndonga won a seat - in its traditional stronghold
of Chipinge. Siwela's party failed to make a significant impression even in
Matabeleland where it claims to be based as a revival of the late Joshua
Nkomo-led liberation war movement.
The ruling Zanu
PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have already
started in earnest campaigning for next year's election. However, other
parties appear mute.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week held rallies in Harare
to launch his
party's campaign for next year's election, whilst Zanu PF has already
started its campaign in Mashonaland.
However, Kumbula and
Siwela vowed that they would make an impression in next
Kumbula this week said his party would field candidates in
constituencies across the country whilst blaming Zanu PF for creating an
environment unconducive for other parties to campaign and contest elections.
"We are still existing and will indeed contest the
election. The problem we
have in this country is that the ruling party had created an unconducive
environment," said Kumbula. "It doesn't help to sacrifice people's lives by
taking on Zanu PF in its game of violence. We prefer relying on media
publicity as well as door to door campaigning."
Siwela strenuously denied allegations that the current
Zapu is tribal and
declared that the party would seriously contest next year's election as it
views itself as the one to succeed Zanu PF.
"We are not tribal or regional. We have structures in all
the country. We are, like any other citizens, proposing to offer solutions
to the country's problems," said Siwela.
leader, who also contested the 2002 presidential election
controversially won by President Mugabe, said that his party would soon
launch its campaign for next year's election.
"We will soon announce our campaign and
announce our candidates. We believe
in using diplomacy and sound solutions to appeal to the electorate. Violence
won't work against Zanu PF. At the same time boycotting will only enable
Zanu PF to declare itself the winner and the oppression will simply
continue. We have therefore resolved to participate in nest year's election
in all constituencies."
Maya couldn't be
reached for comment this week.
MDC to weigh its options in future polls
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it is considering
the possibility of not taking part in future general elections if the Zanu
PF government continues flouting electoral procedures.
The MDC secretary for legal affairs, David Coltart, told the Zimbabwe
Independent in a wide-ranging interview that the opposition party would
consider whether it was prudent to engage in elections when the notorious
"Green Bombers" are still in existence and when the MDC is being denied a
copy of the electronic voters' roll.
"We cannot go into another general election when the
state media and
national radio and television are not accessible to the opposition and,
worse still, when the Green Bombers are still in existence," Coltart said.
"We will come to a point when we will say unless we get an electronic
voters' roll then we have to reconsider our participation in future general
Coltart said ever since the party
applied to the Supreme Court last year in
a bid to force the Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede to release the voters'
roll to the MDC there has not been any success in that area.
He said the
Registrar-General's office last week returned a $1 million
cheque together with the MDC's written request for a copy of the electronic
"The Registrar-General returned our application fee of
$1million for the
provision of a copy of an electronic voters' roll with the lame excuse that
his department is engaged in a re-blocking exercise and was still working on
the national voters' roll," Coltart said.
re-blocking entails the revision of the population after an exercise
that forces people to relocate to other areas thereby either depleting the
voters' blocks or expanding them.
"Mudede says they are re-blocking as a
result of the land reform process but
we want a national voters' roll that is in existence and it is interesting
to note that we have not even seen the voters' roll used in the 2002
elections despite the fact that we got a copy (I think by mistake) before
the elections," Coltart said.
to the recent Gutu North by-election, where Zanu PF's Retired Air
Marshal Josiah Tungamirai beat the MDC's Crispa Musoni by 20 699 to 7 291,
Coltart said the results were positive for the MDC.
"We have held our course
there, and with the closure of the Daily News and
the unchallenged propaganda from ZBC the results in that scenario are very
positive to the MDC," he said.
Coltart said however it was peculiar that figures for people
voting for Zanu
PF in Gutu North had increased and said it was possible that the party had
brought in people as the MDC had warned.
the number of people voting in areas where Zanu PF is popular
has increased while in urban areas the numbers remain the same and this runs
contrary to census figures that indicate that the country's population is
declining," he said.
In 1990 in Gutu North 12 409 people voted for Zanu PF while 7
657 voted for
the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (Zum); in 2000 14 867 voted for Zanu PF while 8
159 voted for the MDC; in 2002 a total of 22 524 people voted for Zanu PF
while 8 934 voted for the MDC.
Traditional leaders win Zanu PF Gutu North
Augustine Mukaro, recently in Gutu.
ZANU PF mobilised traditional chiefs and headmen to boost its blandishments
in this week's by-election in Gutu North.
During the first-ever midweek poll to be held in the country, traditional
leaders played an active role in Zanu PF retaining the Gutu North
The ruling party won the February 2/3
by-election by 20 699 votes to 7 291
for the Movement for Democratic Change.
The result means that Zanu PF's Retired Air Marshal Josiah
fill the seat left vacant in September by the death of Simon Muzenda. The
MDC's Caspa Musoni accepted the results but said there were anomalies in the
run-up to the election.
A total of 28 803 votes
were cast, representing 48% of the 59 000
Observations by the Zimbabwe Independent during
the election showed that the
ruling party effectively used local structures such as Vidcos and headmen.
At some polling stations police had to be
called in to stop headmen and
chiefs from either recording the names of voters from their areas or
arranging voters to line up according to their villages.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network observers expressed
concern over role of
village headmen in the election.
the role of village heads in the election," ZESN said.
"At Gutu mission police had to stop four headmen from recording the names of
voters while at Matizha Primary School, the presiding officer had to stop
Chief Serima from organising the electorate in queues by their villages."
While traditional leaders were mandated with the duty of ensuring that Zanu
PF won the election in the communal lands, ward chairmen had to do the same
in the newly resettled areas.
"Before the election days, each chairman was asked
to circulate a form to
the electorate demanding their names and political affiliation. The forms
were later submitted to the ruling party. Over and above that, the chairman
had to bring his people to the polling station on the poll days," one
resettled farmer said.
"It was a foregone
conclusion that Tungamirai would win the election because
Zanu PF's machinery had effectively penetrated all structures so the
electorate felt vulnerable and insecure, even in the ballot box," the farmer
Independent also observed that each Ward in the constituency was given
specific day to go and cast their votes so that Zanu PF could maintain its
supervision of the way its supporters voted.
Gutu North is
made up of 12 wards. Wards 1-6 voted on Monday, observers
noted, while 7-12 voted on Tuesday.
Zim crisis peripheral in Mbeki's address
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki is today widely expected to a make only
a passing reference to the Zimbabwe crisis which has dogged his foreign
policy and negatively impacted on his international reputation for the past
four years during his State of the Nation address to parliament.
Political analysts said yesterday Mbeki would dwell on issues concerning
South Africa, as well as global developments, in view of the forthcoming
University of Zimbabwe Institute for
Development Studies Professor Brian
Raftopoulos said Mbeki would not focus on Zimbabwe but on his government's
"He is going to
concentrate on what he perceives as his government's
achievements so far," Raftopoulos said. "I don't think he will dwell much on
Zimbabwe. After all, there is nothing positive for him to report on what is
going on in the country. He might mention the issue of talks (between Zanu
PF and the MDC) but only in passing."
South Africa's Witwatersrand University
international relations analyst
Professor John Stremlau said: "I think Mbeki will have to say something
about Zimbabwe but I don't think he will say much."
Professor Willie Breytenbach of Stellenbosch University said
focus on issues that would win him votes. "He won't talk about Aids or
Zimbabwe or the arms deal. He'll stick to issues that will be catching more
votes," he said.
However, Breytenbach warned that
South Africa's black civil society was also
restless about Mbeki's silence on the human rights abuses taking place in
"While there is
admiration for what Bob (President Robert Mugabe) does in
terms of land there is concern over the human rights abuses, the bullying of
trade unions and the closing down of media," he said.
SA group to probe Zim human rights abuses
CIVIC society in South Africa is expected to send a delegation to Zimbabwe
in the next two months to probe incidents of human rights abuses, the
Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
The mission is in response to a damning statement compiled by the churches
in South Africa criticising President Thabo Mbeki's failure to condemn
Zimbabwe's human rights record.
Johannesburg-based church leaders - from Anglican and
Catholic to Dutch
Reformed and Greek Orthodox - issued the statement in December, provoking an
angry response from Mbeki's office.
statement by the churches followed Mbeki's visit to Zimbabwe during
which he said South Africa could learn from Zimbabwe on how to solve similar
The church leaders who wanted Mbeki to take a
more robust approach said: "We
are appalled by the witness given to us concerning the extent of torture
being meted out on Zimbabwean citizens who flee to this country for nothing
less than fear of death."
fact-finding mission is expected to meet with government and civic
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chair Brian Raftopoulos
this week said details
of the proposed mission has not yet been finalised. "Nothing has been
finalised at the moment," said Raftopoulos. "We will let you know once we
have the details."
Mbeki has often been
criticised for his policy of quiet diplomacy in
Zimbabwe. The mission to Zimbabwe is therefore expected to give the civic
groups first-hand experience about the human rights situation in the
Sources this week
however said the mandate and effectiveness of the proposed
mission was under threat from divisions within the South African churches.
document (the churches report) was authored, some sections of the
South African church disowned it," a diplomatic source said.
churches are resisting coming to Zimbabwe on the mission because they
believe that their counterparts have already made up their minds about the
human rights situation in the country."
It has also been learnt that there
were sharp differences between Zimbabwean
churches and their South African counterparts over the handling of the
this week said Zimbabwean church leaders believe that the church in
South Africa should come here "only as observers and not try to dictate how
things should be done".
In February last year it was reported that President
Mugabe had asked
visiting Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane to mediate between
Zimbabwe and ex-colonial power Britain. Zimbabwean church leaders at the
time protested that the Archbishop had not met many local church groups and
civic organisations during his Harare stay.
said the meeting with Mugabe "certainly opens a new window of
hope", nothing has really come out of the initiative, which sources said was
not supported by local church leaders.
Ndungane was expected to make a follow-up
trip to Harare but this has not
Zim left out of US fund
ZIMBABWE has been left out of a lucrative United States fund that would see
about 63 countries worldwide share billions of dollars in US aid to
developing nations committed to democratic principles.
US Secretary of State Collin Powell announced the list of 63 beneficiary
nations in Washington on Tuesday after a meeting of the board of directors
of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a body formed last year to
administer the fund.
Some of the
countries named by Powell include Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda,
Lesotho, Malawi, Pakistan, Zambia, India, Tanzania, Afghanistan and Congo.
has not benefited from several international aid and development
funds since the disputed March 2002 presidential poll.
Following the poll, the European Union and the United States government
imposed targeted sanctions on senior Zanu PF officials and their
The US has
availed over US$1 billion dollars for the 2004 fiscal year under
the fund while President George Bush has pledged a further US $2,5 billion
for the account in 2005.
The majority of the 63 states named by Powell can
bid for funding from the
Millennium Challenge Corporation (2004) and most applicants are likely to
benefit in areas of agricultural development, enterprise and private-sector
development, health, trade and investment-capacity building.
The fund is intended to benefit
developing countries that demonstrate a
strong commitment towards good governance and sound economic policies.
The US also left out Zimbabwe
from a list of 37 African countries that would
benefit under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) meant to enhance
trade between the US and African countries.
Ex-Zipra combatants invade former Zapu properties
SCORES of former Zipra combatants have invaded properties that were handed
over to the former Zapu by the government last year as it has emerged that
former party officials were pocketing proceeds from the properties.
The disgruntled ex-Zipra combatants have vowed not to move out until Nitram
Holdings - a company formed in 1981 by 20 000 ex-Zipra combatants to
purchase properties - sells the properties and shares the proceeds.
Scores of ex-Zipra combatants last month stormed Castle
Arms Motel on the
outskirts of Bulawayo and camped there vowing not to move out unless the
properties were shared amongst contributing members.
"There are some greedy people in Nitram Holdings who are
taking advantage of
the chaotic situation to make a killing for themselves and this is being
done at the expense of members who contributed their money towards the
project," said an ex-combatant who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The properties in question were acquired by Zapu in the
early 80s using
funds contributed by ex-Zipra combatants but the properties were confiscated
by the government after an arms cache was discovered at one of the Zipra
farms in 1982.
When contacted for comment, Dumiso
Dabengwa, the former Zipra intelligence
supremo who was one of the Zipra commanders who organised the deal, said he
could not discuss Zipra issues over the phone.
"I am in Harare at the moment and I do not comment on
Zipra issues over the
phone," said Dabengwa.
Some of the
properties owned by Nitram Holding include Woolglen farm in
Umguza, and Nest Egg farm and Hampton farm in Gweru.
Ex-Zipra combatants who spoke to
the Independent said some of their
leaders were treating the properties as personal business entities.
"These people behave as if they
personally own Zipra properties but they
should call for a meeting and the contributors should decide whether they
want the properties sold and the money raised shared out equally among
contributors," said Max Mnkandla, the president of the Zimbabwe Liberators
Peace Initiative, an organisation of former freedom fighters and
Civil society/MDC condemn Madhuku attack
Itai Dzamara/Blessing Zulu
CIVIL society and the opposition have condemned the assault on National
Constitutional Ass-embly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku by police on
Madhuku was severely beaten up by riot police after attempting to lead
members of the assembly in a demonstration to press for constitutional
reforms. The police reportedly dumped the NCA leader near the National
Sports Stadium in Harare.
"Whether or not the
provisions of the draconian Public Order and Security
Act (Posa) were complied with by the NCA in holding a demonstration for a
new constitution outside parliament, the barbaric treatment meted out by
riot police to the demonstrators, accompanied, according to reports, by
threats on the life of Dr Madhuku, is totally unjustified and deserves
condemnation," said the Human Rights NGO Forum in a statement.
The forum said the "conduct of the riot police on 4 February contravened
sections of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, let alone the Code of Conduct of
the ZRP itself".
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) condemned the use of brute
force by police.
"It seems the police have realised that draconian laws like
the Public Order
and Security Act have failed to suppress the aspirations and activism of the
majority, which it was in the first place promulgated for, and have now
resorted to the use of brute force," said the ZCTU.
Abducting Lovemore Madhuku and severely beating him and dumping
him in the
bush was an act of savagery, the ZCTU said.
Zimbabwe Liberators Platform urged Madhuku and NCA members to continue
to push for constitutional reform.
"The reincarnation of repressive laws
that many fought during the liberation
war destroys citizens' hopes for a negotiated end to their suffering," the
The Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) said in a statement: "The MDC
condemns in the strongest terms the brutal assault and the unleashing of
dogs on scores of members of the NCA by armed and uniformed members of the
Zimbabwe Republic Police.
"The latest attack on peace-loving Zimbabweans is further
evidence of the
intolerance by the Mugabe regime and it leaves no doubt in the minds of all
Zimbabweans and the international community that the regime is bent on
suppressing the democratic expression of the people of Zimbabwe. Despite all
these brutal attacks on innocent civilians, the will of the people will
New levy for Noczim
THE National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), whose debt is currently being
tackled through a levy of $110 per litre on fuel importers, owes
international suppliers US$171 million.
The latest debt disclosure comes against a backdrop of attempts by
government, which is set to amend the Income Tax Act and Finance Act, to
accommodate the setting up of the Noczim Debt Redemption Sinking levy.
The levy was set up to pay
off bills incurred by the former procuring
It will be
operational until the whole debt has been settled.
According to the Noczim foreign suppliers debt list, the parastatal owes
LAFB of Libya US$58 million, BP South Africa US$14 million, Kuwait IPG US$58
million, Engen US$10 million, Caltex US$8 million, Exxor/Sanstorm US$8
million, Nordea Bank US$10 million, and PTA US$5 million.
The arrears list is as at the end of
January and does not however include
debts owed to local suppliers.
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa this week confirmed that
the levy would be
set up but referred all logistical questions on the debt issue to his
permanent secretary Nicholas Ncube.
"The fund is
being finalised, but I do not have the technical details of
it," Murerwa said. "Get the details from Nick Ncube. He is the one handling
Ncube had not commented on the issue despite repeated efforts
to get one. He
was said to be attending a "series of meetings".
Government deregulated the fuel sector last year and
allowed private fuel
firms to bring fuel into the country and sell the product at market-related
To-date there are least 60
registered private fuel importing companies.
In the past, the country's fuel import needs were being brought in by Noczim
but as the debts continued to mount the company could no longer afford.
Last year during his
2004 national budget statement Murerwa proposed that as
part of settling the debt fuel importers be levied.
In a typical government bureaucracy
under the proposed amendments to the
Income Tax Act, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) who will eventually
forward the money to the beleaguered fuel company will administer the fund.
In turn, Noczim has to ensure
all the money collected on its behalf is
applied towards the settlement of debts incurred during its procurement
It was not immediately
possible to ascertain how much Noczim has so far
collected over the past two months from Zimra who were still looking for the
and Power Development minister, Amos Midzi, defended the move of
having Noczim paying the debt.
He said since Noczim was the debtor it had
the legal authority to pay its
Zesa owes power suppliers US$66m
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) owes regional power
suppliers US$66 million as of January 31, but the power utility has come
onto the market today trying to raise another $20 billion for its
much-talked-about rural electrification programme.
Failure to settle bills on time has since forced the cash-strapped
parastatal to seek government help on how to settle them.
According to Zesa's regional creditors list, the
parastatal owes five
regional electricity power firms billions for services provided.
The highest debt for Zesa belongs to HCB of Mozambique
which it owes US$29,6
million, followed by Eskom's US$19 million while EDM of Mozambique is owed
Zesco of Zambia is owed US$2
million while Snell of Democratic Republic of
Congo is owed US$1 million. Zesa is currently battling to pay US$7,4
million, money it used for the procurement of "various spare parts".
Eskom spokesperson Fani Zulu
said since the beginning of the year, they have
not met with Zesa officials despite the two parties' contracts having
expired last month.
Energy minister Amos Midzi confirmed that Zesa had since
government for help to settle the debts, some of which have been outstanding
for more than two years.
"It is a matter that Zesa has
brought up quite recently (assistance in
paying the debts). It is a matter that we are looking at," Midzi said.
"The case is receiving its due attention."
Midzi could not however be drawn into revealing when
government proposed to
help settle the outstanding debts, saying the matter was being "looked
Zesa's ballooning debt comes hard on the
heels of Air Zimbabwe's suspension
from the International Air Transport Association (Iata) which is owed more
than US$1,3 million.
week Zesa was scrounging for $10 billion from the money market by way
of Megawatt Bills.
Nssa's books in shambles
COMPTROLLER and Auditor General Eric Harid says the books of the National
Social Security Association (Nssa) are not in order.
Harid has expressed concern over the financial status of Nssa, where he has
said record keeping and controls over investment are inadequate.
So serious is the lack of proper record keeping that Harid has in places
declined to comment on the status of the organisation's books.
In his latest
report for the audited 2001 period, the most recent to be
examined, to the Minister of the Public Service and Social Welfare July
Moyo, Harid said contribution income was appointed on an arbitrary basis of
80% for the pension and other benefits scheme and 20% for the workers'
compensation insurance fund.
He said this violates Section 28 of the Nssa
The Act stipulates that contributions should be paid to each scheme
"Premium income is brought to account on a
receipt basis," Harid said in his
report. "This policy has resulted in the scheme not accounting for
contribution debtors as it only recognises contributions received. Claims
costs recognised in the financial statements are only those actually
"This policy distorts the claims
amount as claims incurred but not reported
are not taken cognisance of by way of, for example, setting up a provision
for claims incurred but not reported based on the schemes experience of the
levels of such claims."
said it was further observed that record keeping and controls
investments were inadequate.
"Typically, I noted that some
adjustments made in the several general ledger
were not supported by some documents and some entries in the investment
ledger were not posted to the general ledger," Harid said.
"Because of the significance of the matters discussed above, I do not
express an opinion on the financial statements."
Although Nssa was enacted in 1994 with the main aim of
comprehensive protection and coverage to all Zimbabweans in the employable
market, worker's intended benefits are greatly compromised because of poor
record keeping, the report said.
On the status of
the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund, Harid said claims
costs recognised in the financial statements were only those actually
incurred, adding that this policy distorted claims amounts as claims
incurred but not reported were not taken cognisance of.
"It was further observed that the record
keeping and controls over
investments are inadequate," he said. "Typically, I noted that some
adjustments made in the general ledger were not supported by source
documents and some entries in the investment ledger were not posted to the
"I observed that there was no system of
control over premium debtors on
which I could rely for the purpose of my audit. I was thus unable to satisfy
myself that all premium income and premium debtors had been brought to
pro-minent businessman and lawyer Edwin Manikai, in the same
report admitted that arbitrary apportionment of 80% to the pension and other
benefits, and 20% to the Workers Compensation Fund would continue to be a
qualification until new information technology system was put in place that
would be able to allocate money between schemes as provided by law.
He said he was
expecting the system to be in place by the end of this year.
Turning to investment income, Manikai said the inadequate record keeping and
controls surfaced as a result of a forensic audit.
He said the board had
commissioned this, adding that recommendations by the
auditors were however implemented.
What is Hear The Word Ministries' business?
I WAS intrigued, but not too surprised, by the donation of $30 million to
President Robert Mugabe by Hear The Word Ministries.
Last year the Daily News published a lengthy feature on this church
(business?). As usual with such features it was little more than a friendly
public relations piece. In response I wrote a letter to the Daily News which
was not published.
In view of the furore raised by this organisation's
donation perhaps you
might publish it now - and perhaps seek some answers to my questions from
Pastor Tom Deuschle.
Frankly, I have yet to be
disabused of the notion that such organisations
are anything other than religious businesses whose main beneficiaries are
those who own and operate them.
Attempted justification of this donation to Mugabe may have
been made by
some spurious reference to Biblical texts but many may see it as simply an
attempt by a presently very successful business enterprise to buy favour
with the ruling regime.
I have my own vision of what Jesus
Christ would do if he were to visit
Zimbabwe today - and donating $30 million to Mugabe is not part of that
The following is the text of
my letter written to the Daily News in May
I had long wondered who was constructing that huge building along the
Borrowdale Road. I had mistakenly assumed it to be some new family mansion
for one of the obscenely affluent nouveau riche that our corrupt country has
wrong as your 16-page special feature explains. It has been built by
the Hear The Word Ministries. Pastor Deuschle is quoted as saying: "From the
beginning we wanted the new building to be a centre for reformation of
nations - a community centre that would serve as a platform to serve not
only Harare, but also the rest of Zimbabwe and the neighbouring countries
with the gospel of Jesus Christ."
In your extensive feature excerpts from Pastor
Deuschle's book Building
People, Building Dreams are also quoted. They relate to having a vision:
"Make sure your vision is from God...Write the vision... Expect God to
intervene...Expect attack. Any vision worthy of heaven will experience an
attack from hell...To obtain your vision, you will be stretched. You will be
put into situations where other people have failed, and you will be tempted
to give up...Be passionate about your vision...Consult others who are
successful and wise...A person without a vision is a person without a
A number of questions are
raised in my mind as a result of reading this
special feature which perhaps Pastor Deuschle can answer. My questions
fundamentally originate from my vision of a Zimbabwe free of violence,
corruption and dictatorship. A Zimbabwe that more closely corresponds to
Christ's vision of how man should live together in society.
Has his ministry spoken out on the
reformation that this nation needs - in
particular the need to remove the violence, corruption and dictatorial
tendencies that are tearing our country apart; and if not, why not?
Has his ministry spoken out unequivocally on behalf of the poor, downtrodden
and oppressed masses in this country; and if not, why not?
What is his ministry's vision for Zimbabwe (in line
with the excerpts from
his book quoted above?)
Does his ministry
emphasise the material in terms of having a vision? (I ask
this because of several aspects of your feature article: the emphasis on the
impressive material aspects of this huge building: the suggestion to "take a
rich man to lunch" as a way of consulting "others who are successful and
wise" (I can't quite imagine Christ telling his disciples to consult the
rich - or implying that the state of being rich is proof of success and
wisdom); and the 'Victory Business Forum' which seems to be an organisation
based on Christ's instruction to his disciples to "go forth and establish
profitable businesses" (I'm still searching for such an instruction. As yet
I haven't found it in my Bible.)
How do members of the Victory Business Forum
succeed in what is now one of
the world's most corrupt economies without participating in that corruption?
As a "non-profit developmental
organisation whose mission is to meet the
needs of poor people" what percentage of compassion ministries income goes
directly to help the poor as opposed to being swallowed up by building
costs, staff salaries and expenses, administration costs, etc? I ask so that
I might be encouraged to contribute to meeting the needs of the poor through
that the above will not be dismissed as "an attack from hell". What
it is is a genuine desire to understand what is God's vision for this
country and what role the churches, and specifically Hear The Word
Ministries, are playing in achieving that vision.
For myself, my vision is based on Christ's
exhortation to "love thy
neighbour as thyself" (one of the two most important commandants). I
undoubtedly fall far short of this ideal, but this vision certainly leads me
to condemn the evils that are daily perpetrated by those in power on their
fellow countrymen. Does Heal The Word Ministries similarly condemn these
evils? Or is that not the "business" of the church?
Heal the wounds, try architects of terror
ON a cold night in June 2000 an MDC election agent vanished from his
village. He was found weeks later, decomposing, face down. His eyes had been
gouged out, his fingers chopped off and skin stripped from his legs.
implicated a Zanu PF activist who had earlier threatened the
election monitor. But the police concluded that the MDC election monitor's
death was - of all things - suicide!
Now as the campaign for the 2005
parliamentary election hots up, the
question is: will the horror return? For we know the unrepentant, unpunished
architects of the 2000 and 2002 election violence will try to claw their way
back into power.
election time Zanu PF has notoriously established a reputation
ruthlessness and their message to their supporters seems clear - you can get
away with anything, even murder.
By any measure Zanu PF's
election crimes rank among the worst this century.
For many brutalised Zimbabweans bygones can no longer be bygones. Above all,
we need a trial of the architects of terror - Biggie Chitoro, Joseph Mwale,
Tom Kainosi aka Kitsiyatota and others. And that will be the first step
towards restoring morality to our society in the hope of getting beyond the
pain of the past.
MDC national elections coordinator, & Frank Matandirotya
MDC shadow MP Chikomba,
I AM becoming
more than a little irritated with the naivety of newspapers
claiming that Gideon Gono's purge of the finance sector is a panacea for the
country's myriad woes. We are faced with a national propaganda campaign,
orchestrated by the government, and dutifully parroted in the official media
that Gono's crackdown is about to turn the economy around and set the
country on the path to salvation.
Of course only the most delusional observers of the
national scene would
swallow such nonsense which Gono himself has been careful not to endorse. He
has made it plain what obstacles he faces.
But still, day and night, the relentless propaganda offensive
insist that Gono is some sort of messiah leading the nation to the promised
In none of this are we told how the country got
into the current mess in the
first place - apart of course from the dishonest claims about sanctions. In
fact the economic pattern of the past seven years has been entirely
consistent. Zimbabwe's slide began in 1997 with the devastating impact on
the budget caused by President Mugabe's award of over $4 billion to war
veterans and the announcement of a programme of land seizures. The following
year saw the intervention in the Congo and the terrible drain on resources,
including scarce foreign exchange, that campaign entailed. The IMF,
impatient with the deterioration in budgetary planning, began to see
Zimbabwe as a hopeless case.
The economy was
therefore already in trouble well before the land invasions
of 2000. A pattern of borrowing and spending was already fuelling inflation,
lenders were bailing out, and macro-economic distortions becoming
entrenched. The ill-conceived and violent land grabs simply compounded
existing problems and put the country off-limits for investors.
So the EU's ban on President Mugabe's trips to European capitals can hardly
be held responsible for the current decline.
Much has been made of the fall in the consumer price
index from 619,5% to
598,7%, a decline of 20,8 percentage points. Some newspapers understood this
to mean a fall of 20,8%. In fact a fall of 20,8 as a percentage of 619,5 is
3,36%. In other words we have been celebrating a 3,36% fall in inflation as
if our problems were nearly over. Is that really the best we can do?
This Pollyanna approach to journalism is
unhealthy. Journalists should be
reasonably sceptical of all patent medicines, especially those offering a
not helped his own cause by allowing the ruling party to hike a
free ride on his bandwagon. If he is to retain his credibility as a broom
that sweeps clean he will need to prevent discredited elements from claiming
he is their man. Ideally he should be his own man in all this. And, as we
have said in today's editorial, that will entail tackling the Augean stables
of the public sector with the same gusto he has shown in the private sector.
foreign exchange market, for instance, doesn't stop at the borders of
the state-owned companies. What is the point of imposing order in the
finance sector if public-sector corporations can go on distorting the
macro-economic picture by draining the fiscus?
I think we can safely dismiss the
current plot against the Reserve Bank boss
currently being bandied about in the state media as yet another fictional
distraction. Gono is an accomplished banker. That is all we need to know. If
he has a weakness it is that he has allowed himself to be rather too closely
identified with those in power. But he will be judged on how well he
undertakes his current mandate. If there is a plot against him it is about
as credible as all the other plots emanating from official sources!
Gono must be allowed to get on with his job
unmolested. But it must extend
beyond the narrow confines of finance-sector discipline. He needs to say
what has to be done to stabilise the economy at a more general level in
order to underpin monetary policy and restore relations with the
international community. That will be the real test of his mettle.
Chaos could rob Zim of tourism earnings
By Tafirenyika L Wekwa Makunike
WHEN the people of Zimbabwe finally decide that the economy is far more
important than childish posturing and insults, including composing
supposedly motivating national jingles spiced with suggestive dances, then
tourism could be one of the sectors that can be rapidly ramped up for the
sustenance of the nation.
I say "people" because I realise as a people we can no longer abdicate our
national responsibility to do something about our nation's future to some
egotistical coterie of politicians blundering from one mistake to another.
We potentially have the best competitive advantages in this part of the
world if we stop our "bvoo-pfoo" approach to national issues.
In 2002 the cost of board in
a basic three to four-star hotel in South
Africa was about R400 while the exchange rate was about one US dollar to
By the end of 2003 the same accommodation had gone up to R700 while their
exchange rate had strengthened to about R6,60 but notwithstanding that, they
have continued to witness phenomenal growth in tourist arrivals. It does not
need a rocket scientist to notice that the largest tourism market in our
part of the world is slowly pricing itself from a very affordable
destination range to something pricey.
I have had the benefit of travelling extensively in
Africa and I know for a
fact that apart from Kenya, we have always had some of the warmest welcoming
people with a disarming smile in this part of the globe. I am not talking of
the front hotel people who are paid to put on that plastic smile, but common
people one encounters along the whole value chain that can potentially make
a tourist's visit memorable.
of late a number of Zimbabweans have become relatively more
cynical arising mainly from a depreciating economic environment and being
continuously fed a diet of sovereignty and occasional insults. Even before
we get to the traditional tourism attributes we had a potential winner to
cause the South African cricket team to sneak into the Vumba for a great
escape last year.
Traditionally as a family we normally take an end of year
in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe to unwind and recharge our batteries
for the coming battle in the coming year. Even the Herald got it right on
the festive season bookings this time for nearly all the good places were
We initially booked ourselves
over the Internet but despite getting a
confirmation e-mail my wife was utterly amazed when told by a discourteous
lady at a central reservation office in Harare that they did not have any
record of our booking. They seemed to forget that a rudely denied customer
during the high season is a potentially dissatisfied customer in the low
When we tried
a South African-based Internet booking agent they got back to
us within minutes with a promise of getting us a place provided we were
prepared to pay in rand. Of course as a "son of the soil" as Wilson Katiyo
would say, I believe it is my privilege to pay in local currency. Several
direct calls later we managed to string together some combination bookings
in Hwange and Victoria Falls, resulting in a refreshing festive season,
something we could not possibly have got on some crowded Durban beach.
Of course there
is a price to be paid, particularly if one is travelling by
road from South Africa. The biggest stumbling block is Beitbridge where one
has to endure some chaotic pushing and shoving for hours.
If you are unfortunate
someone might pick your pockets in the process. If I
was a foreigner coming in to spend my vacation I would not endure this one
moment longer but for sons of the soil like us it is like someone in an
abusive relationship: you keep coming back hoping that the things will get
country with over 70% unemployment it would do no harm to employ some
youths to at least organise the queues and ensure that arrivals join the
right queues instead of being told by a totally disinterested official after
wasting hours that are in the wrong line. While they terrorise the poor
cross-border woman, the rich are crossing the border with under-declared
luxury vehicles. Perhaps Gersham Pasi can make unannounced visit to the
border posts during peak times and witness for himself how customer-friendly
service goes out of the window at this crowded border post.
We also managed to spend a day on the Livingstone side of the
and there are some good things happening on the Zambia side. As my Zambian
counterpart Simemba once revealed to me their slogan was, to paraphrase it
in Zanu PF lingo, "copper was the economy the economy was copper".
According to him, "thanks to Uncle Bob, Zambia, with a
more than Zimbabwe's, is now actively cultivating a growing agricultural and
The bad news from the
new hotels in Livingstone is that their rates are
virtually more than twice the rates charged on the Zimbabwe side.
Travelling along Victoria
Falls road one cannot fail to notice the neglected
Lupane and to even call it a provincial capital is insulting. We hope the de
facto prime minister of Zimbabwe spares a thought for this centre on his way
to dole out goodies to Tsholotsho.
While we have managed to insult our traditional markets
at least there seems
to be a noticeable growth in Asian arrivals. Business people do not care
much about the colour of their customers.
-Tafirenyika L Wekwa Makunike is a business consultant
Johannesburg. He is contactable on firstname.lastname@example.org
Purge parasitic parastatals too
THE new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has
recently been unearthing a lot of dirt under the carpets of the country’s
prominent financial institutions leaving senior officials scurrying for
cover. In the process the governor has apparently ruffled some sacred
feathers if this week’s press reports are anything to go by.
Gono, a banker himself, is mooting management changes and boardroom
reshuffles as he tries to do what he promised the nation when he took office
on December 1. He said then: “Failure is not an option.”
However, while the new governor tries to clean up the financial
services sector to ensure Zimbabwe’s banking industry is squeaky clean, he
seems to have overlooked the role the country’s parasitic parastatals are
playing in promoting monetary disorder.
Public corporations have continued to milk the country’s fiscus
undisturbed for 24 years courtesy of the tax-paying public.
Conservative estimates put the parastatal overdraft facility with
government in the region of $700 billion.
Parastatals receive their allowances from the government in the form
of a vote from parliament. This vote is very seldom scrutinised by
honourable members unless of course some stink is raised — especially by
reports in the press about a particular parastatal as was the case with the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) and the problematic National
Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).
The country’s parastatals came in for special mention by the Minister
of Finance and Economic Development Herbert Murerwa in his 2004 national
The minister told the nation that gone were the days when unbudgeted
expenditures would be allowed by his ministry. He said unbudgeted
expenditures would only be restricted to “national emergencies”.
“Ministries will be expected to live within their budget provisions,”
We wonder whether this sentiment also applies to parastatals that have
become accustomed to our funds for projects that are sometimes dumped
Air Zimbabwe, for example, with a revolving door management, continues
to chalk up billions in losses because of poor marketing and unrealiable
It was touted as a prospective cash cow due to an anticipated revival
in tourism. However, it proved a chimera. Low tourist arrivals, uneconomic
pricing as well as failure to adhere to schedules has affected the airline’s
standing at home and abroad. This week it was suspended by IATA over a
US$1,3 million debt.
The scandal-ridden National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), another
government headache, continues to reap where it does not sow. Confederation
of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) boss Antony Mandiwanza was probably correct
when he called for its complete disbanding because, he argued, it was
serving no useful purpose.
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) also came under Murerwa’s spotlight as
another parastatal that is dependent upon the hard-pressed taxpaying public.
The GMB has understandably failed to carry out its mandate of selling maize
and wheat to starving citizens at commercially viable prices.
Murerwa pointed out that the GMB, because of unviable pricing
policies, had a huge debt and could not break even come what may.
Another problem is the cash-strapped NRZ which continues to provide a
shoddy service to the travelling public.
Part of NRZ’s poor performance can be attributed to populist
Freedom trains were launched amid much pomp and fanfare ahead of the
presidential poll. But many passengers feel the service provided leaves a
lot to be desired.
Ever since the freedom trains were introduced, the NRZ has sunk deeper
into the red, a classic case of political decisions undermining sound
Zupco is another major cause for concern. Zanu PF seems to think that
the parastatal is an in-house concern yet it is a public transporter whose
remuneration comes from taxpayers. We wonder exactly how much the ruling
party owes cash-strapped Zupco, which is now unable to pay for luxury
“Marcopolo” buses secured from South Africa, some of which have been
Gono, in his endeavour to sort out the mess within the financial
services sector, should also look into these parastatals that have had it
too good for too long. After all, many are consumers or spenders of forex
and do not feel constrained by price controls.
There is likely to be more dirt there than at many of the financial
institutions which probably wonder why they have been singled out for
investigation when nobody objected to their swashbuckling antics in the
past. Why are the parastatals being protected when they are using — or is it
abusing — our hard-earned funds?
When Noczim was investigated some years ago, it raised a temporary
stink and heads began to roll. But the clean up was not sustained and the
fuel procurer goes on losing money hand over fist when private companies
could do the job of importing and distributing fuel much better.
Murerwa told Gono that a significant reduction in the growth of money
supply was critical for containing inflation. Large quasi-fiscal
requirements, mostly financed from inflationary bank sources, had immensely
contributed to the prevailing runaway inflation.
State corporations that have become accustomed to borrowing from the
markets and spending public funds instead of earning healthy profits — which
thereby distort the macro-economic framework of the economy — also need to
be thoroughly investigated by the RBZ boss in so far as their delinquency
impacts on monetary policy, the foreign exchange rate and overall fiscal
Sorting out these problem-children of Zanu PF’s command economy will
not only benefit Gono’s cashflow at the central bank, it will also
strengthen the nation that has been fed on by these leeches for far too
Eric Bloch Column
Disastrous water project funding proposals
FOR 92 years the residents of Matabeleland North have yearned for the
Matabeleland-Zambezi Water project to become a reality. The concept of
piping water from the mighty Zambezi River to Bulawayo was first mooted in
1912. It was realised that the growing town (now city) of Bulawayo was
situated in an area subject to the vicissitudes of climatic conditions which
could hinder its development if it could not access assured water supplies.
The then conceptualisers of the project also appreciated that the necessary
offtake from the Zambezi would, in relation to the torrents of water that
flow down the river, be relatively minimal and that, therefore, there would
be no environmental or downstream prejudice. In addition, conscious of the
semi-arid conditions of much of Matabeleland North, they realised that a
significant by-product benefit of the project would be to enhance
agricultural activity in that region.
Regrettably, the then authorities rejected the project, contending that at
an estimated cost of £60 000, it was beyond the means of the country. A like
fate was accorded revived proposals for the project in 1932, at which time
the projected cost was £600 000, and again in 1953, by which time the
anticipated costs had soared to levels of over £40 million.
The late Eng. Cormack, Chief City Engineer of the City of Bulawayo, was a
staunch advocate of the proposed Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Scheme, and even
after his retirement he lobbied vigorously for it to come into being. So
intense was his belief in its merits, and in the importance of bringing it
into being, so as to assure the future of his beloved city, that he accepted
endless speaking engagements, wrote prolifically in the printed media, and
repeatedly plied the government of the day with submissions. That motivation
and dedication undoubtedly hastened his demise, for he died whilst
addressing a dinner gathering of Junior Chamber in the early 1960s,
convincing all his audience that the project was a “must” for Bulawayo.
But all his efforts came to naught, until a series of drought years in the
1980s and early 1990s convinced a body of Bulawayo residents that government
would never bring the project into being, and that “the Lord helps those
that helps themselves”. They constituted themselves as the Matabeleland
Zambezi Water Project, set about raising funds, researching the engineering,
environmental, demographic and other implications of the project, and
interacted strongly with central and local governments. They evoked great
support from the people of Bulawayo, and stimulated widespread interest.
So effective was that body of well-intentioned, foresighted Bulawayo
citizens that government recognised it could no longer disregard the calls
from Zimbabwe’s second largest city, and from the substantial population
that resided in the vast expanse from Bulawayo to the Zambezi. Government
resolved to “hijack” the project from the then promoters and lobbyists, and
set up the Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) under the very able
leadership of the then Minister Dumiso Dabengwa. He motivated the trustees
and the newly employed staff of MZWT to pursue implementation of the
project, in collaboration with government and the affected local authorities
as expeditiously as possible. Concurrently, he and his fellow trustees
energetically restored morale amongst the populace, quelling the pronounced
convictions (which had understandably developed over a period of more than
80 years) that the scheme would never come into being.
MZWT and government procured the support of the Swedish government, who
funded a comprehensive and in-depth viability and environmental study,
conducted by Swedish and Zimbabwean experts. The study corroborated the
long-held beliefs that the proposed scheme, (incorporating the construction
of a dam at the confluence of the Gwayi and Shangani rivers, a pipeline from
that dam to Bulawayo, inclusive of pumping stations to lift the water from
the dam to the watershed, and subsequently a pipeline from the Zambezi River
to the dam), was immensely viable, most desirable and beneficial, and not
materially damaging to the environment.
The trustees also recognised that, over and above providing Bulawayo with
water security and the province with the opportunity of irrigation projects,
the Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Scheme would be the catalyst for diverse
economic activity beneficial to all Zimbabwe. That activity would range from
tourism to fish farming, agro-industry and various facets of commerce. They
motivated the establishment of a venture capital company, to lie fallow
until the Gwayi-Shangani dam and pipeline came into being, but then poised
to exploit the economic opportunities.
The next task was to raise the required funds but, tragedy of tragedies
struck — that was just when the Zimbabwean economy commenced its
accelerating slide down the slippery slope of economic mismanagement.
Amongst those whose support was greatly needed, but substantially lost, were
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other
developmental and monetary agencies.
That was catastrophic for the intended Matabeleland Zambezi Water Scheme,
for the magnitude of the funding required (now estimated to exceed $20
billion) was such that donor aids and “soft” loans of extended duration were
a virtual prerequisite for the project to proceed. But almost all
traditional sources of aid and of such loans had closed their cheque books,
locked their safes, and slammed their doors insofar as Zimbabwe was
concerned, with almost the only exceptions being the provision of
Although the funding of the project was, and is, essentially the
responsibility of the government and the local authorities, MZWT tried to
fulfil a facilitative role in accessing funding, but in the constrained
environment had little success, despite many endeavours, much perseverance
and pursuit of all perceived opportunities.
It was, therefore, with a sense of near euphoria that this columnist heard
Minister Olivia Muchena, in her capacity as Acting Minister of Water
Resources and Development, respond to a question in Parliament at
question-time on Wednesday of last week, saying that there had been major
progress in negotiations for the required funding, and these were expected
to be finalised shortly, whereafter the project would soon commence.
However, as she expanded upon her answer, the euphoria was rapidly wholly
dissipated, for she then explained that the funding would be forthcoming as
a “BOOT” or “BOT” arrangement, being a “Build, Own, Operate and Transfer” or
“Build, Operate and Transfer” agreement. Under such a funding structure, the
provider of the finance operates the project, after its completion, for an
agreed period of time, whereafter the ownership and operation vests in the
state or in the local authority, as the case may be.
The motivations of the contracting party providing the funds is generally
procurement of the construction contracts, or control over their awards, and
that following completion the project will yield revenues of sufficient
substance to assure not only recovery of all the funds provided, but also a
substantial profit thereon (very often in addition to large profits built
into the construction contracts). “BOOT” and “BOT” contracts can be very
beneficial to not only the financier/contractor, but also to the state and
to the population. Many countries have achieved great infrastructural
developments through such contracts, including in the areas of energy
generation, telecommunications, air and rail facilities, roads, and much
But it is beyond the wildest imagination that that can be so in the case of
the Matabeleland-Zambezi Water project, for if the financier/contractor is
to obtain a fair return on the capital committed to the construction of the
dam, and the pipeline, and thereafter the working capital for operations
(inclusive of the considerable cost of energy necessary to pump the water
from the dam to the watershed), the price of the water will inevitably be of
such a great amount as to place the life-sustaining commodity beyond the
means of most consumers. That price would also render agricultural and
industrial consumption non-viable. The only possible exception to this
desperate and disastrous scenario would be if the state and the local
authorities would substantially subsidise the supply of water by the project
to the consumers. But the straitened financial circumstances of both
suggests that for them to do so would be greatly beyond their means.
Zimbabwe has waited 92 years for this much-needed project. The thought of
further delays is appalling, but so too is the thought that the water
becomes available but unaffordable. Better than that would be that Zimbabwe
rapidly repairs its international image and relations, enabling it to raise
developmental funding at acceptable cost.
Of Mahoso’s wanderings and Marimo’s confusion
Poor old Tafataona Mahoso. He doesn’t appear to have much to do all
day except to write long-winded tracts to the editor of the Herald
complaining about the editor of the Zimbabwe Independent. Like his epistles
in the Sunday Mail, his strictures in the Herald cry out for an editor.
Instead of being told to confine himself to 800 words, he is given as much
space as he likes, wandering over to a following page without justifying his
imposition upon readers.
He cites UN declarations which can be used to support a variety of
arguments and presumes to speak on behalf of the people of Africa who long
ago junked the redundant views he continues to espouse.
“The people of Africa have established enduring values through their
long fight against slavery,” Mahoso pontificates. “The people of Africa have
established enduring values through their resistance to colonialism and
imperialism. The people of this continent and its diaspora have established
enduring values through their common struggles on a global scale against
racism, apartheid and UDI.”
What we see here is an attempt to impose an ideological straitjacket
on Africa by somebody who lacks a public mandate. Many Africans today see
the values of their struggle for liberation betrayed by a corrupt and greedy
post-liberation aristocracy. They see governments who are clinging to power
long past their sell-by date employing waffling polemicists to justify their
arthritic tenure. But what of those African states such as Senegal, Ghana
and Kenya which have embraced the new African values of democratic
diversity, freedom of expression, and the rule of law?
How does Mahoso explain their values which are diametrically opposed
to his? How does he explain Nepad and the AU’s commitment to new standards
As for the diaspora, has Mahoso not noticed the change in tone of
Caribbean newspapers? Why did President Mugabe’s chief Caribbean ally
Percival Petterson of Jamaica support the continuation of Zimbabwe’s
suspension from the Commonwealth at the Abuja Chogm? Why are most prominent
US organisations representing African Americans now prepared to speak out
unambiguously on the trampling of democracy in Zimbabwe? Ask Salih Booker of
Africa Action what he thinks!
Mahoso claims to be addressing hate speech in his discourse with the
Independent. But he says nothing about his own contribution in this regard!
And he freely misrepresents our views.
For instance our “mushrooms” cartoon by Tony Namate about Zimbabweans
being kept in the dark and fed on manure is cited as an example of racist
insensitivity. But it is conveniently confused by Mahoso with the letter
about the wildebeests watching while one of their number is devoured by
lions to suggest our readers are racist.
“You defend the letter you published on January 2 by saying that such
expressions of racist thinking are in fact popular with your readers who
find them to be humorous.”
No we didn’t. It was the cartoon we said our readers found humorous,
not the letter which expressed a commonly held view about political
docility. But Mahoso has craftily conflated the cartoon with the letter to
provide a justification for his contrived outrage. He preposterously points
to parallels with slavery, colonialism, apartheid and UDI. We are only
surprised he hasn’t managed to link Namate’s mushrooms to the Holocaust!
We certainly subscribe to the UN declaration against racism,
xenophobia, and other forms of discrimination. Is Mahoso seriously
suggesting he does?
The claim that his letter to the editor of the Independent mutated
into a “public statement” which was directed to all newspapers shows that
Mahoso, contrary to popular opinion, possesses a sense of humour. He says we
are not the only paper he has written to.
Perhaps in the interests of transparency he could say what other
newspapers he has written to and about what? Has he written to any
government-owned newspapers? Did he for instance write to the Herald about
any of the shocking falsehoods the paper, under heavy legal pressure, was
obliged to own up to last week?
We would also be interested, while we are on the subject of
transparency, to know the budget of the MIC, how much its chairman is paid,
and what perks he receives.
Clearly, coherent thinking is not one of the qualifications needed for
a job at the MIC. Journalists seeking to renew their accreditation are asked
the following question: “State the name, address, and telephone number of
the person who may be contacted regarding any question in respect of this
So is that the person applying or his/her employer/colleague/friend?
It’s as clear as mud!
Question number two runs as follows: “Name, address of head office,
mailing address and type of the applicant for renewal of registration,
accreditation, or permission.”
Let it be noted for the record that after one month in which Mahoso
has occupied endless column inches trying to prove his charge of racism over
the wildebeest letter, there has been only one solitary letter complaining
about it — predictably published in the Sunday Mail.
Mahoso cites ad nauseam in his columns the South African Human Rights
Commission’s investigation into racism in the media. But few South Africans
share his views. This is what Mondli Makhanya, the former editor of the Mail
& Guardian who has just taken over the reins at the Sunday Times, recently
had to say about the commission’s report: “The fewer words written about the
Human Rights Commission’s probe into racism in the media the better and some
trees will live another day.”
Perhaps Mahoso will spare a thought for the environment and save a
whole forest by exercising some editorial constraint in the future.
Warriors’ coach Sunday Marimo seems confused. After initially putting
on a brave face when the draw was made for the African Nations Finals
currently underway in Tunisia by saying “We are not afraid of any opponent”,
he later decided that he and his charges were merely going to “learn”.
Questionable selection compounded poor preparations by the team
rendering it one of the whipping boys at the tournament. Understandably, the
team lost its first two matches against Egypt and Cameroon. And that is when
Marimo, who had earlier spurned an offer for the team to tour England on the
spurious grounds that it was too cold in Europe, realised that “We are not
really serious about our football. We arrived here without any preparations
and people expect miracles.”
Marimo is evidently no expert in weather-forecasting as he soon learnt
that it was colder in Tunisia than England. It wasn’t only his ego that
froze as he sat on the bench at Sfax.
It will be remembered that he refused to have a technical advisor and
came out on national television telling supporters making their suggestions
regarding selection and playing formation to “leave it to me, I am the
One of the major reasons for the team’s loss to Egypt and Cameroon was
of course ineptitude on the part of the technical department, which was
indifferent to whether the team was in the lead, drawn level, or trailing by
a three-goal deficit!
To Marimo’s credit though, on Tuesday he benched his trusted but
ham-fisted “stars” and got a 2-1 result against Algeria.
Enemies of President Bush will be delighted to hear that an avalanche
of books aimed at blocking his reelection this year have hit the shelves of
bookstores across the United States. Some commentators, the London Observer
notes, now believe Bush’s new status as a hate figure surpasses even the
intense loathing by the Left of Richard Nixon.
Books about Bush feature in the New York Times best-sellers list.
These include Michael Moore’s Dude, Where’s My Country?, Al Franken’s Lies
And the Lying Liars Who tell Them, and Molly Ivins & Lou Dubose’s
George Soros has announced that removing Bush has become the central
focus of his life and he is putting his money where his mouth is. Time
magazine has called Bush “the great polariser” while Joe Conason, author of
Big Lies: The Rightwing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts The Truth
said that in terms of vitriol, left-wing rhetoric is every bit as strong now
as it has been from the Right.
‘The MDC’s calls for the EU to tighten its sanctions were ill-timed
and out of sync with reality,” one newspaper observed this week. It said the
latest overtures stemmed from “political desperation”.
The party was “merely kowtowing to US and EU designs on Zimbabwe”,
“analysts” told the paper.
“That the call for sanctions was made at a time when the economy was
set for revival in the wake of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s monetary
policy showed that the opposition was not committed to economic revival
under a Zanu PF government,” one of these “analysts” said.
Which paper do you think trotted out this partisan drivel? Sounds like
the Sunday Mail doesn’t it? Or the Herald on a bad day. In fact it was the
Good news on the transparency front. The Office of the Ombudsman,
headed by Beatrice Chanetsa, has just published its latest report.
And the bad news? It is for 1997!