Zimbabwe Begins Enforcing New Laws on Farm Takeovers By Peta
Tornycroft Harare 07 February 2005
new laws to fast track legal processes for the state to take over thousands
of white-owned farms. Many of these farms have already been physically taken
over by ruling Zanu PF supporters, but the paperwork is outstanding. Among
the properties being processed through the courts Monday are several farms
owned and still operated by South African and other foreign
The first case at the administrative court Monday was about the
only piece of land owned by an 81-year-old white South African man who has
lived in Zimbabwe most of his life.
His home is on the piece of land
in question, in a dry ranching district in southern Zimbabwe, and he wants
to keep it.
He is one of a minority of white farmers who have never been
attacked or had their property invaded since President Robert Mugabe sent
his supporters to take over white-owned farms in 2000.
amendment to the land law cancelled most previous criteria which would
exclude properties for confiscation, such as farmers who owned only one
piece of land, or foreign owned land or agricultural estates, such as those
producing sugar and tea.
The farmer's lawyer Rodney Makavsi told the
court that the independence of the judiciary was at stake. He said there
were judges who were beneficiaries of land from the government which made
them interested parties in this and similar cases. He said the constitution
guaranteed everyone a fair trial presided over by judges who were
independent from the executive arm of government.
In the last five
years, most of about 4000 white farmers have been evicted, often violently,
from farms which were also their homes. However the state's paperwork has
fallen behind and only about 450 have been processed through the courts so
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa vowed late last year that the
courts would make great efforts to complete the process. New courts are
being set up and cases are being held in judges' chambers.
Clark, from the Commercial Farmers Union is following the case for affected
farmers in southern Zimbabwe, among them about 15 South Africans. He links
the fast track of land trials to next month's parliamentary elections. "We
look after about 40 farmers who are still sort of farming," he said. "We
have been relatively left alone until now. There seems to be a mass
acquisition program going on now, and its very questionable. We have been
left alone for so long and now with elections...we have actually got these
fast tracking of cases coming to court. "
Mr. Clark said confiscation of
foreign-owned land sends a clear message that no foreign investment in
Zimbabwe is safe.
Zimbabwe's law firms say they are clogged with the
sudden rush of land cases and that another new law gives them only five days
to prepare a defense.
CONDOLEEZZA Rice, the newly confirmed US secretary of
state, has identified Zimbabwe as one of six "outposts of tyranny". But
experts on Zimbabwe are far from certain whether she will force regime
change in the African country most in need of it.
are focusing on the elections, due to take place next month. President
Robert Mugabe - who stole the last two elections, in 2000 and 2002, by
ballot rigging, intimidation, voter fraud and many other constitutional
violations - has said he will live up to the election requirements of the
Southern African Development Community.
The most important are political
tolerance, freedom of association, equal access to state media, and
independence of the judiciary and electoral institutions.
is no sign as yet of political tolerance, or any other condition, says the
main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), whose
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, told me in November he did not expect Mugabe to
honour any of the conditions.
But if Zanu (PF) reduced violence he would
lead his party into the elections. More recently, Tsvangirai said: "By and
large we have witnessed a decrease in cases of open violence against
However, some more sceptical insiders, including
his adviser Welshman Ncube, say the police continue the violence. They also
stop the MDC from holding political rallies, while party activists remain at
risk of being abducted, beaten and tortured by ruling party militias and
members of the security forces.
Further, from analysis of the 2000
electoral roll, there are perhaps 400000 deceased people available to vote -
and as one activist quipped: "The dead don't vote for the
The Independent Electoral Commission is neither a real
commission nor is it independent of Mugabe's control. The independent media
has been reduced to two weekly papers, and the courageous journalists who
try to report in a fair and balanced way are routinely arrested and
The independent Daily News was bombed out of its offices in
2003, and Zanu (PF)-controlled television and radio stations spout anti-MDC
propaganda, accusing it of the very acts of savagery (rape and murder) Zanu
So why is Tsvangirai not boycotting an election he
cannot win? The first and more palatable reason is that if the MDC boycotts
the elections, Zanu (PF) will have enough MPs to change the constitution,
which could be crucial when Mugabe dies or is overthrown. The MDC holds 57
seats, and must hold at least 50 to veto constitutional
This is important as elections must be held if the president
dies or resigns. But some ruling-party officials would like Mugabe to
appoint a successor, who would have a few years in power before facing the
people with advantages of incumbency. Nevertheless, even if the MDC takes
part in the election, it may not retain 50 seats to prevent political
The second reason Tsvangirai may be taking part is to hold
his party together under his leadership, with or without hope of victory. He
will maintain support of an international community that admires him - which
will keep him on the world stage - and prevent SA's and international
officials from acting.
Inaction from SA has been the order of the day
so far. The quiet diplomacy - the "talk, talk and more talk" - of President
Thabo Mbeki is not changing anything in Zimbabwe, and the west's support of
it has, so far, done no good.
Unlike Darfur or the Asian tsunami, the
bodies are not piling up under the scrutiny of video-hungry media. Black
Zimbabweans are dying in rural communities of starvation and HIV, as
harvests are about 15% of normal and there are no drugs to treat any but the
With the next harvest due to be the lowest for decades, the
death toll is set to rise, and around election time. With most food being
allocated to Zanu (PF) voters, the time to act on the betrayal of the most
basic human right is now.
Rice is to be commended for addressing
Zimbabwe, but the rhetorical battle has just begun. She must convince
southern African leaders that US aid, military support and other diplomacy -
such as trade deals - hinge on them solving the problem.
believe that, unless they enforce election protocols agreed to by Mugabe,
the US will withdraw support to the region: business as usual is no longer
acceptable for this outpost of tyranny.
Bate is a fellow of the
American Enterprise Institute.
Mugabe shows little sign of implementing regional leaders'
electoral conduct guidelines aimed at ensure a free and fair
By Augustine Mutandwa in Harare (Africa Reports: Zimbabwe
Elections No 04, 04-Feb-05)
The legitimacy and international
acceptance - or not - of Zimbabwe's sixth parliamentary elections on March
31 hinge on whether the ruling ZANU PF party respects and applies guidelines
on electoral conduct laid down by leaders of countries in the region six
Heads of state of the Southern African Development Community,
SADC, including Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, signed the Mauritius
Protocol on the Indian Ocean island of that name last August.
up specifically as a result of international condemnation of the conduct of
the last Zimbabwean parliamentary elections in 2000, the protocol demands
that all registered political parties be allowed to campaign freely; have
unlimited access to the media; permitted freedom of association; and that
all citizens be allowed to exercise their right to vote.
and guidelines also talk of the need for an independent electoral commission
to run the ballot and to deploy election observers two weeks before the
polls. The heads of state further demanded that there should be an
independent judiciary and programmes of voter education run by the
government and opposition parties.
With fewer than eight weeks to go
before Zimbabweans go to the polls, President Mugabe - who has been in power
since his country's independence in 1980 - has done very little as yet to
demonstrate that he intends to honour the Mauritius Protocol or that he
wants to level the political playing field to allow the free and fair
participation of opposition parties.
On February 2, he cocked a snook at
his fellow heads of state by expelling a delegation of the Congress of South
African Trades Unions, COSATU, who had arrived in Harare to hold routine
talks with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
attention is closely focused on the SADC rules, Brian Kagoro of the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Committee - an umbrella body representing pro-democracy groups -
said they would have little effect.
"It's a joke," said Kagoro, a
constitutional lawyer and human rights activist. "The reforms cannot be
introduced within two months."
He was supported by COSATU general
secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, part of the expelled delegation, who said, "Where
have you seen a government so desperate, going to the length that they have
to refuse entry to trade unionists, unless they have something to
Referring to the leaders of South Africa's apartheid government in
the Eighties and Rhodesia before it gained its independence and became
Zimbabwe in 1980, he went on, "[The ruling] ZANU PF was once a liberation
movement, but it has become a brutal regime which has no respect for basic
human rights. Its actions are no different from PW Botha and Ian
"It is simply a change of complexion of the oppressor. Anyone who
disagrees [with Mugabe] is jailed and those who have a different point of
view are tortured."
A SADC election observer mission will be deployed
two weeks before the voting to pronounce whether the political environment
is conducive to holding free, fair and peaceful elections.
Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the main opposition party, the Movement
for Democratic Change, MDC, said that the government is flouting the SADC
"The police continue to stop us from holding political
rallies, while allowing ZANU PF to holds theirs," he said. "Our party
activists remain at risk of being abducted, beaten and tortured by ruling
party militias and members of the security forces."
The MDC, which
decided only on February 3 to take part in an election it expects to be
deeply flawed, has said the Mauritius principles can only begin to be
honoured if an independent electoral commission is established and if the
most draconian laws used by Mugabe against opponents are
These include the Public Order and Security Act, POSA,
which was inherited from the previous white minority regime of Ian Smith. It
forbids any gathering of five people or more, and is being used by the
government to deny the opposition the ability to hold meetings and
The MDC also wants the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, AIPPA, repealed before the polls open.
AIPPA is a
draconian piece of legislation that requires journalists to be licensed by
the government and has led to the closure of several newspapers, including
the independent Daily News, the expulsion of all foreign correspondents and
the detention of many Zimbabwean journalists.
The MDC also seeks reform
of the judiciary, arguing that it is no longer impartial because the bench
is packed with ZANU PF loyalists.
One such judge is George Chiweshe, a
51-year-old former ZANU guerrilla and Mugabe lieutenant, who has been
appointed chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Chiweshe has
already erased three important MDC urban constituencies from the electoral
map and is expected to use soldiers, policemen and prison officers to staff
and supervise 6,000 polling stations instead of trained electoral
The MDC is allowed no time on national radio and TV, while all
independent radio stations have been closed down. One station, Voice of the
People, was silenced after its building was destroyed in a mystery
Trevor Ncube, former managing editor of the Zimbabwe
Independent and now publisher of South Africa's Mail and Guardian, is deeply
sceptical about the possibility of a free and fair Zimbabwe
"An election is not a one day event," said Ncube, who is also
chairman of the IWPR Africa board.
He said ZANU PF was using the SADC
protocol in an attempt to reverse what is seen by most of the world as its
illegitimate status, having rigged the last parliamentary election in 2000.
March's ballot is expected to be no different. According to Ncube, this
year's election is "already rigged".
The government has refused to
publish voter rolls and will not allow independent observers into the
country to monitor the election process.
In addition, Zimbabwean
traditional chiefs charged with overseeing voting and the distribution of
government food aid to their rural subjects have recently had their salaries
doubled and been given government cars to ensure they and their village
communities stay loyal to ZANU PF.
Augustine Mutandwa is the pseudonym of
an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.
MUSINA - Three members of
Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and a civil servant, were
last Friday nabbed by the South African Police (SAP) after attempting to
bulldoze their way into a Congress of South African Trade Unions and
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions meeting.
The spy agents were
later deported back to Zimbabwe after a brief detention at a local police
station in Musina, a police spokesman at the border town police station
Although no details were available from the local
police station, the four Zimbabweans were alleged to have followed behind
the ZCTU delegation which had a meeting with their South African
counterparts after Cosatu was barred from entering Zimbabwe by the
An impromptu meeting was then penciled for the
border town, where the ZCTU was supposed to brief the South African labour
union on the current situation in Zimbabwe.
the ZCTU said the four, who were not part of the delegation, had tried to
include themselves so that they could have access to the deliberations.
Alarm bells were later raised after some of the ZCTU members reported the
presence of the spy agents to
their South African
The four were then arrested by the local police
who later handed them over to immigration officials for onward deportation
At the meeting between ZCTU and Cosatu, it was
agreed that more action from the South African trade union and its allies in
National Congress (ANC) was needed. Cosatu also
threatened a trade blockade at the Beitbridge border post.
THE hope is that our own Dear Leader, Comrade
Robert Mugabe,will learn from the Togolese experience following the death
last Saturday of President Gnassingbe Eyadema.
been in power in the former French colony for the last 37 years. That long
period does not mean he was loved by his subjects. Far from it. In those
years the longest serving African leader survived at least seven attempts on
his life and, according to AFP, he carried a notebook pierced by a bullet as
a talisman to remind him.
Most African leaders ascend to the
throne as genuine nationalists, with the people's welfare at heart and
promises of taking their countries to greater heights of political and
President Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since
1980, came to power after spending 10 years in detention and several years
as leader of a guerrilla army that finally toppled the colonial while regime
of Ian Smith in 1980.
During the formative years of Zimbabwe's
independence, Mugabe was seen as an honest leader whose policy of
reconciliation with his former enemies, the whites, won him many hearts the
But this was short-lived, as happens in mostly
newly independent African states. After five years Mugabe had sampled the
trappings of power and he went out of his way to entrench himself at the top
table. He did not want anything to stand in his way.
time the country went for the second post-independence elections in 1990,
Mugabe the man, had transformed into a tiger and would not come down from
the tree top.
Today, after lining his pockets and destroying
the country's once healthy economy, he blames the Americans and the British
for the mess the country finds itself in. He insists he will not let go,
even at the age of 80.
He is no different from Eyadema,
Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia or Daniel arap Moi of
Kenya. Most African leaders will not let go. After they have created too
many enemies, they are afraid of stepping down.
ghosts everywhere they go. They think it is better for them to die in office
or choose their own successor who will not open the cupboards to reveal the
Our own Dear leader is no different from
the other leaders. It is so disappointing.
NLC Petitions Mugabe Over Deportation of Cosatu Delegation
February 6, 2005 Posted to the web February 7,
Juliana Taiwo Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has
written a protest letter to, Dr. Robert Mugabe, President Republic of
Zimbabwe over the deportation of a Congress of South African Trade Unions
(COSATU) delegation to the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions
In the letter signed by General Secretary John E. Odah government
to deny a South African trade union delegation access to the Congress by
Zimbabwean security and immigration forces after being served with
prohibition notices, was very disturbing.
"We are also disturbed by
earlier threats by your government to jail the delegation's members should
they make further efforts to enter the country.
"It is regrettable that
your recent action has added to the government's already poor records of
subversion of in the country.
"Mr. President, Nigeria Labour Congress
shares the trade union movement about the need to intervene in the worsening
political situation in Zimbabwe, especially the deteriorating conditions
under which workers' and popular organisations are compelled to
"In addition to other initiatives that may arise at the instance
of the international trade union movement, Nigerian trade unions have
resolved to join COSATU in the efforts to establish the facts on the ground,
especially on the critical issue of whether there are conditions for free
and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
"The challenge for your government is
to see these efforts as arising from a sincere attempt at finding an African
solution to what we regard as a serious situation in which Zimbabwean
workers have a serious stake", the NLC said.
It however said it is
counting on Mugabe's constructive view of the evolving continental trade
union efforts at helping to improve the political and trade union rights
situation in Zimbabwe.
Another heavyweight booted from Zanu-PF February 07 2005
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling
party has expelled a senior member facing espionage charges, state media
said on Monday.
Phillip Chiyangwa, a provincial chairperson of
the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)
arrested in December, is the latest heavyweight to be pushed out of the
party ahead of elections next month.
The decision to axe
Chiyangwa was taken at the weekend by senior party officials.
"We passed a vote of no confidence," Chiyangwa's successor John Mafa was
quoted as saying by the daily Herald.
"It is now a long time since
Chiyangwa was arrested and we are heading for crucial elections," said Mafa,
referring to the March 31 parliamentary polls which will be closely watched
as a test of Zimbabwe's pledge to hold a free and fair
Chiyangwa and four other senior Zanu-PF members were
arrested in December last year and accused of being part of a spy ring that
was allegedly providing South African President Thabo Mbeki's government
with information on the party's affairs.
If convicted, the men
face up to 20 years in jail and hefty fines, or both.
is also alleged to be holding a white South African intelligence agent
believed to be linked to the spy ring.
"At first we thought he
would resign, but we have discovered that he is not willing to do so," said
Chiyangwa, a flamboyant Zimbabwean businessman, had been the
Zanu-PF chairperson for Mashonaland West, a north-eastern province that is
also Mugabe's stronghold.
In January last year, Chiyangwa was
also arrested for allegedly interfering with the judicial process in a
multi-million dollar bank fraud case. He was later cleared of the
Chiyangwa's expulsion follows the December firing of six
ruling party provincial chairmen for allegedly participating in a supposed
plot against the Zanu-PF leadership. Zimbabwe has a total of 10 provinces. -
MDC denies attack on Zanu-PF offices in SA February 07
2005 at 06:14PM
By Peter Apps
Zanu-PF party accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on
Monday of attacking its South Africa offices and threatening staff - a
charge quickly denied by the MDC.
Johannesburg Zanu-PF chairperson
Bigvai Gumede said about 30 to 50 chanting MDC supporters surrounded his
office on Sunday. Around 17 people, some in MDC T-shirts, damaged the office
and tried to throw staff from the second floor window, he said.
"There were knives," he said, adding two people including himself had been
hit but no-one was stabbed.
"Their aim was to vandalise the office
or kill people. They had a mission."
Johannesburg police said
they were investigating and interviewing witnesses. Police had not seen the
damage, Gumede said, and it had since been cleaned up.
The MDC said the story was an attempt to discredit them before March
parliamentary elections, in which they will stand against President Robert
Mugabe's party despite their stated doubts over whether the poll will be
free or fair.
"We believe it is a strategy by Zanu-PF to show
that MDC is now promoting violence," spokesperson Nicholas Dube said. "We
are a peaceful party and we have never been involved in
Rights groups and diplomats have long accused Zimbabwe
of using political violence against MDC supporters.
MDC T-shirts had been freely given out at rallies and could have fallen into
the hands of Zanu-PF supporters, who were using them to damage the party's
name. Any attack could also have been part of a Zanu-PF power struggle, he
Tensions have mounted inside Zimbabwe ahead of March
parliamentary elections. The MDC says limited reforms favour Mugabe's party
and political analysts say the elections are almost certain to return
Zanu-PF to power, prolonging a political and economic crisis that has ruined
the once prosperous southern African country.
also been strained between Zimbabwe and its key regional ally South Africa
after Harare barred a South African trade union fact-finding mission and
denounced South Africa's main opposition party's plan to visit.
Zimbabwe says not expecting 'racist' Leon to visit
07, 2005, 16:45
Zimbabwe has dismissed a plan by South Africa's main
opposition party to visit the country on a pre-election fact-finding mission
as a racist attempt to gain international attention. South Africa's
Democratic Alliance (DA), a traditionally white party led by Tony Leon, a
lawyer, said yesterday it would send a team to Zimbabwe to investigate the
minimum conditions required to ensure fair parliamentary elections
The DA said Zanu(PF) had made a fair election in March "almost
impossible" because it used food supplies as a political weapon, intimidated
voters, persecuted the opposition, restricted the media and controlled the
voting process. In comments to Reuters, George Charamba, Mugabe's
spokesperson, scoffed at the proposed visit by the opposition delegation
from key ally South Africa. "Tony Leon coming here? What do we need racists
for? We ousted them a long time ago and they have no constituency here," he
The polls, scheduled for March 31, pit Mugabe's ruling Zanu(PF)
against the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). However, the opposition
says limited reforms favour Mugabe's party and political analysts say the
elections are almost certain to return Zanu(PF) to power, prolonging a
political and economic crisis that has ruined the once prosperous
MDC 'puppet of white and Western interests' Mugabe's
government has long categorised the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, a former
trade union leader, as being a puppet of white and Western interests seeking
revenge for the state-sponsored seizure of white-owned farms for landless
black Zimbabweans. Asked what Zimbabwe would do if the DA pressed on with
the trip, Charamba said: "They won't come, they cannot come. This is all a
side show meant to attract international attention."
"We would rather
they invite the MDC, their partners, to go to South Africa," he
Last week the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), an
ally of the ruling African National Congress, embarked on a similar trip to
Zimbabwe but were denied entry by Harare, which said they were visitors with
a hostile agenda. They say Mugabe has failed to deliver on international
demands for wide-ranging democratic electoral reforms, and has compounded
the Zimbabwe crisis with a set of cosmetic measures designed to keep his
Zanu(PF) party in power.
Mugabe (81) this month and in power since
independence from Britain in 1980, denies charges that he rigged Zimbabwe's
last two general elections and also that he has mismanaged the country over
the last 25 years. The veteran leader says the opposition MDC is a front for
his Western opponents who want to push him from power, and have undermined
Zimbabwe's economy as pay-back for land seizures. - Reuters
Iran, Zimbabwereview expansion of
economic cooperation Tehran, Feb 7, IRNA -- Secretary General of Iran`s
Cooperatives Chamber Mohammad-Reza Ramezani said here Monday that
Economic Cooperation Council has signed a memorandum of understanding
(MoU) with India-ASEAN Economic Cooperation Committee (IAECC)
and Zimbabwe`s National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) to broaden the
current economic cooperation between the parties. Speaking to
IRNA, he said the MoU is to facilitate trade exchange between Iran and
Africa. The MoU backs holding of trade fairs in Zimbabwe, he
said adding that to help consolidate economic relations it was agreed
that joint meetings should be held every 45 days to follow up
the implementation of agreements and remove existing
obstacles. The two sides also agreed to signed required agreements
to further upgrade current level of trade ties between the two
countries. The two sides will endeavor to exchange information in
the fields of economy, production and commerce to meet the two
sides demands, he pointed out. The two sides underlined speedy
implementation of the MoU signed by the two sides.
The ongoing dispute within the
Mashonaland Cricket Association (MCA) looks set to end up in court after
Tawengwa Mukuhlani, the deposed chairman, and three other sacked board
members told a local newspaper that they were taking legal action action to
try to overturn their dismissals.
The four were sacked during a
heated special general meeting just before Christmas after members accused
them of not taking a firm stand against the running of Zimbabwe Cricket. Now
Mukuhlani is claiming the meeting was unconstitutional. "The board did not
agree on the meeting," he told the Zimbabwe Independent. "We just decided
that since clubs had said they wanted to go ahead with the meeting, we did
not want to be a stumbling block . we had agreed to set the agenda for the
meeting which was to discuss the change of logo and name. We were very
surprised that people did not stick to the agenda
Mukuhlani said that the new board had fuelled the dispute with
ZC, choosing confrontation ahead of negotiation. "Before the dispute broke
out ZC approached MCA to discuss several issues affecting cricket. MCA
agreed to discuss everything apart from the re-branding, and indication that
they were rearing for a fight."
The legal maneuvering was
dismissed by Cyprian Mangenge, the new MCA chairman, who said that the
constitution had been adhered to.
It is believed that Mukuhlani was
recently told in no uncertain terms by Peter Chingoka, the ZC chairman, to
reassert his authority over the MCA. The aggressive attitude of the new
board has led to some bitter discussions and casued further unease within
Zimbabwe cricket at a time the board are keen to be seen as
BULAWAYO, Feb 7 (IPS) - Hats a size too large for most of the small
heads, formal school uniforms equally incongruous, they march on regardless
- the vanguard in an effort to bring pre-schoolers into Zimbabwe's education
Beginning this year, primary schools in this Southern African
country are required to have at least one class that caters for four- and
five-year-olds, to help these children prepare for first grade. This
pre-school class, also known as "grade zero", is part of government's Early
Childhood Education and Care Programme (ECEC).
Parents like Veronica
Ndlovu have welcomed the move.
"I think it's a good idea because by the
time he starts grade one, he'll be in a better position to appreciate basic
concepts," she says of her five-year-old son.
A variety of studies
support Ndlovu's beliefs on this point, noting that children who have had
the benefit of early childhood education are able to avoid repeating grades.
In the long term, these children are also less likely to become criminals -
or, in the case of girls, fall pregnant.
For its part, Zimbabwe's
Presidential Commission into Education and Training in 1999 said it had
received positive reports about the "alertness and motivation to learn" by
children who had attended early childhood education facilities - and who
were now at primary school.
The expansion of schools to include early
childhood education is one of 139 recommendations made by the
"Pre-schools are to provide care for children, educate them
and foster their development into responsible individuals with good
communication skills," says the body's report, which estimated that at least
two-thirds of Zimbabwean children did not have access to ECEC
Until now, pre-primary education has mostly been the preserve of
better-off families in towns and cities.
Training facilities in rural
parts of Zimbabwe and crowded urban areas, said the commission, were in a
sorry state: "Centres ranged from a tree to a thatched shelter, from a
wooden shack or a log cabin to a tiny but crowded sitting room in a high
density area with 30 or more little ones sitting in rows, to structures with
In addition, facilities that provided pre-primary
education were rarely linked to primary schools, while not all followed the
recommended curriculum. Teachers who took charge of pre-schoolers often
lacked the appropriate training.
While few would dispute the need for
early childhood education, concerns abound that schools are too hard pressed
at the moment to implement the grade zero initiative
Zimbabwe is embroiled in an economic crisis, the product of
political upheaval and fiscal mismanagement, which has had a severe impact
on the nation's schools. Many of these institutions are struggling simply to
meet existing commitments - such as basic maintenance of school toilets and
sports fields, or the provision of textbooks to pupils.
In a public
protest last month, members of a woman's pressure group demanded the
resignation of Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere, saying he had presided
over falling education standards. They also appeared to question the
sincerity of new schooling initiatives.
"A lot of things that we are
currently seeing are things that we expect to see ahead of an election,
after which they will fall by the wayside due to budgetary constraints,"
said Jenni Williams, head of Women of Zimbabwe Arise. Zimbabweans go to the
polls for parliamentary elections at the end of next month.
that Harare simply doesn't have the ability to put its money where its mouth
is as concerns pre-primary classes are borne out by the situation at
facilities like Gampu Primary School in the southern city of
Here, grade zero lessons have not begun - the enthusiastic
response from parents notwithstanding. A qualified teacher has yet to be
found to conduct the class, and no furniture has been provided for the
pre-schoolers. Toys and a special play area adapted to the needs of young
children are little more than a pipe dream.
"The government has said
the community should see what it can do," says Tineyi Hwande, a treasurer of
the parent-run school development association.
But, parents are as
cash-strapped as the education ministry.
"We still want it to be an
affordable programme, so we cannot raise much money through (parents')
levies," notes Hwande. (END/2005)
DA unfazed by Mugabe man's broadside February 07 2005 at
The Democratic Alliance is unconcerned about Zimbabwe's
dismissal of the party's plans to visit the country on a fact finding
mission ahead of Zimbabwe's March 31 general election, DA Africa
spokesperson Joe Seremane said on Monday.
It was reported
earlier on Monday that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson
George Charamba scoffed at the proposed visit by the DA, saying his country
did not need "racists".
"They won't come, they cannot come. This is
all a side show meant to attract international attention," Charamba
Seremane said anyone who knew Mugabe would not be
surprised at this reaction.
Anyone who did not agree with
Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party were automatically labelled "racists,
colonialists and puppets".
These statements did not bother the DA,
and the party would proceed with its planned visit, even without a guarantee
that it would be allowed into the country or be treated differently to the
Congress of South African Trade Unions' delegation, that was twice barred
from visiting Zimbabwe. - Sapa
NIGERIAN businessman I was chatting to recently at the airport in
Nigeria's capital, said: "The president of Burundi? Hell, I don't know who
the president of Rwanda is either - nor a couple of others."
discussing the merits of Africa's presidents from our position as victims of
the "movement of very important persons" directive issued by the Nigerian
government on the eve of the 40th African Union interim summit held in the
city this month.
Because of the impending movement of said VIPs into
Nigerian airspace, the airport in Abuja was closed for nearly seven hours,
to allow the heads of state unhindered access to the city.
accounts, none of the plethora of domestic airlines was informed in advance
of the development, for security reasons. Thus it was that the airport
tarmac was littered with aircraft that had been refused permission to take
off and the airport itself, surprisingly small and unsophisticated for the
capital of one of Africa's giants, was crammed with restless, grounded
travellers. Some sat in their planes for more than two hours as anxious
pilots waited for a gap in the VIP programme. But there was no reprieve, and
everyone was eventually dispatched back to the airport
The problem was not confined to Abuja. Aircraft from
many other states and from Lagos were also grounded at their point of
departure or were caught short in midair, having to make emergency
alternative plans to land.
When the summit ended three days later,
the same fiasco ensued. A pilot from one of the country's biggest airlines,
ADC, was arrested for defying the airspace closure ordered by the federal
government - despite obvious safety considerations prompting his actions.
Being forced to circle in midair for some time, after unsuccessfully trying
to enter the suddenly closed airspace around Abuja, he began to run short of
fuel and simply had to put down. And was promptly locked up.
was told that on a previous occasion, an aircraft of another domestic
airline was held for several days for violating a suddenly imposed no-fly
directive issued to allow Nigeria's vice-president to land unhindered by the
needs of mere citizens.
Only a few hours before my flight to
Lagos was postponed overnight due to the VIP saga, I was at a conference
attended by Ghana's President John Kufuor and Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria.
The conference was held to launch the Nepad Business Group of Nigeria, at
which the contribution of the private sector to Africa's development was
celebrated. The need for greater public-private partnership was highlighted.
That the government alone could not bring Africa to its full potential and
needed business to help it reach notable goals was, naturally,
Obasanjo, who loves to portray himself as a man with the
common touch at functions, was at his best, joking with delegates, insisting
on taking questions from the floor despite his hosts' concerns that he was
too busy, and generally strutting his stuff.
All the while,
officials of his government, in collusion with heads of state across the
continent, overtly or not, were making it abundantly clear the priority was
not, in fact, the private sector, but each other. Many of the country's top
business people and some foreigners, many of whom had attended the same
conference, were sidelined so the very important people could arrive in
style amid absurdly overblown security arrangements.
here is clearly seen as being between un-equals. Politicians, flying around
the continent on taxpayers' money, deem themselves on a higher plane, so to
speak, than the private sector they say is a critical player in their lofty
plans - and which contributes significantly to the coffers from which they
draw so enthusiastically.
Business meetings were compromised.
Connecting flights to capitals around the world were delayed and money was
lost, not least by the airlines themselves, which had to cancel or
reschedule flights without prior notice.
The divide between many
African leaders and their people is well documented.
The advent of Nepad
and the new, reformed African Union were supposed to have ushered in a new
era for Africa - one in which the people count.
The allegations of
elitism levelled at both these initiatives are highlighted when airports are
closed, roads emptied and people even shot (as has been the case in
Zimbabwe) to allow leaders to be as separate as possible from ordinary
In Lagos, the day after the Abuja airport fiasco, I was
offered the VIP suite in my hotel. I had to turn it down. I may not be the
president of a country or a really important government official, but by
then I'd had as much of the VIP factor as I could cope
Games is director of Africa @ Work, a company focusing on
research, publishing and events in Africa.