The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

MDC's Mpala was murdered
By Loughty Dube and Savious Kwinika

The Standard - Zim

8/2/04

MP died from 2002 election violence injuries LUPANE MDC MP David Mpala, who was buried on Friday, died from injuries he sustained in 2002 after he was abducted and brutally assaulted by war veterans and Zanu PF militias, The Standard has established.

Mpala was in January 2002 abducted from his home at Lupane Business Centre by a group of Zanu PF loyalists including war veterans and "Green Bombers" —and driven away before being dumped, bleeding profusely and unconscious, about 60 km away.

When he was found, his assailants had slit his abdomen open with knives and crushed his skull in a grisly attempt to finish him off.

His relatives told The Standard in Lupane on Friday that Mpala never fully recovered from the brutal attack and died on Wednesday from the serious injuries he sustained, now almost two years ago.

Mpala was buried on Friday morning at an emotional ceremony attended by hundreds of villagers and top Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials who called his burial "a true hero"s send-off”.

According to John Mpala, the late MP"s father, even after his death, his opponents still caused problems for the Mpala family. Some members of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) tried to claim his body from the family last week, purporting to take it for a "post-mortem”.

"Surely, how can my son David die such a painful death? We fought the colonialists together during the war of liberation that ushered independence in 1980 only for my son to be killed by his own black people,"said Mpala senior.

"And that was not the end of this torture; the CIOs had the temerity to come and demand my son"s body so that they take him to their government hospital for yet another post-mortem,"said the grieving father.

Hundreds of villagers defied the searing morning heat and thronged the Mpala homestead where they were joined by several MDC MPs from all over Zimbabwe, and party leaders including president Morgan Tsvangirai, who travelled to the remote Matabeleland North village to give Mpala a "hero"s burial”.

MPs present, whom The Standard could easily identify among the mourners, included Abednico Bhebhe, Lovemore Moyo, Nelson Chamisa, Paul Themba Nyathi, Jacob Thabani, Moses Mzila and Joel Gabbuza, among others.

By early Friday morning, a convoy of vehicles, most of them twin cabs popular with MDC legislators, was snaking its way towards the Mpala homestead where a sombre mood prevailed.

Addressing mourners, the MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda described the late Mpala as a true hero who dedicated his life to achieving a democratic Zimbabwe.

Speaker after speaker took turns to praise Mpala for his bravery and his contribution to the development of the opposition party and Zimbabwe.

Thabani Nyathi (65) a local villager said Mpala was a simple man who was easy to approach and was always willing to give assistance when asked.

"From the time Mpala was made the MP for this area I have known him to be an open person who was fearless and took challenges as they came; he was always there for those that needed his help, Ubeyindoda emadodeni, indoda sibili (He was a man, a real man),"Nyathi said.

Tsvangirai, clad in a dark suit with a matching tie and shirt, said it was tragic that Mpala had succumbed to the grave injuries caused by his political opponents.

"The people of Lupane should carry on with the ideals that Mpala fought for and it is sad that Mpala had to die this way,"Tsvangirai said.

Tsvangirai warned Lupane residents to be vigilant because Zanu PF was going to flood the constituency with militias and food aid to try to win the by-election created by Mpala"s death. The MP is survived by his wife Alice Sikauke and four sons, Mandlenkosi, Mbonisi, Melusi and Hlonipho.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Standard - Zim
8/2/04

Human rights lawyer slams Jonathan Moyo
By our own Staff

A HUMAN rights lawyer, Jacob Mafume, has attacked Minister of Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Jonathan Moyo accusing him of trying to change the country"s laws to suit his own personal and Zanu PF agendas.

Addressing participants attending a training seminar on Internet Activism in Harare on Thursday, Jacob Mafume – from the Human Rights NGO Forum, accused Moyo of abusing his powers while acting as Minister of Transport and Communications recently.

Mafume alleged that Moyo tried to push through an amendment to the Post and Telecommunications (International Telecommunications Services) regulations to establish a single gateway for all international telephonic communications with Zimbabwe.

"While Zimbabweans are busy trying to build and provide an electronic publishing outlet in the face of increasing media repression and to broaden communication channels, Moyo has taken it upon himself to amend the regulations so as to bar private telecommunications firms from operating international telecommunications services,"said Mafume.

The statutory instrument, which was gazetted last week, stipulated that public mobile phone network operator Tel One would, with immediate effect, be the sole provider of access to all international telecommunications services including inter-connection capacity and voice-over Internet protocol.

"We are not surprised as this is Moyo"s usual methods as he did before crafting the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA),"said Mafume.

The telecommunications amendment however hit a brickwall last Tuesday when the High Court set it aside after Econet Wireless challenged it in court.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe parties keen to talk
Sun 8 February, 2004 19:01
http://www.reuters.co.uk/



By Manoah Esipisu

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main political parties have agreed a draft agenda for formal talks to resolve the country's deep political and economic crisis, South African President Thabo Mbeki says.

Mbeki told public broadcaster SABC in an interview on Sunday that the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the chief opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were keen to start official negotiations after months of informal talks.

"They are all agreed," Mbeki said.

He said ZANU-PF and MDC had also agreed that the next parliamentary elections be held on schedule in March 2005 to promote political competition. The last such poll was in 2000, when the crisis began in earnest.

Mbeki and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said last month that ZANU-PF and the MDC were on the verge of formal talks but both parties pleaded ignorance to such moves. Neither ZANU-PF nor the MDC were available to comment on Sunday.

For many observers in Zimbabwe, confidence that the discussions which ended abruptly in 2002 will be resumed will come only when they hear it from Mugabe himself.

Mbeki said a review of the constitution to deal with the vexing questions of freedom of the press and assembly were among the key issues the groups needed to deal with. He added that economic decline would also have to be tackled.

"They've got to sit together and sought out this thing. (They) are going to have to deal, together, with the problem of a very, very deep economic crisis," Mbeki said.

The draft agenda was agreed in December but a programme of talks was delayed because senior officials from both sides of the political divide were on vacation, he said.

Mbeki backed comments in Sunday Johannesburg newspapers, attributed to MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube, that a solution could be reached two months after formal talks began.

ZANU-PF walked out of talks in 2002 after the MDC went to court to challenge Mugabe's re-election in a poll it and several international observers said was rigged.

The ruling party has said it will not resume formal dialogue until the MDC's legal challenge is dropped -- a condition the MDC has said it cannot honour.

Mugabe insists he won the 2002 elections fairly and has labelled the MDC a puppet of Western powers who want to see him ousted over his seizure of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution among landless blacks.

The government has also charged MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai with two counts of treason, accusing him of plotting Mugabe's assassination and seeking to topple his government through mass protests the MDC tried to organise last June.

The political crisis has exacerbated an economic meltdown in Zimbabwe, which suffers from rocketing inflation, unemployment, and critical shortages of food, fuel and foreign exchange.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Standard - Zim 8/2/04 Police want me dead, says Madhuku By Nyasha Bhosha FEARLESS and defiant National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman, Lovemore Madhuku who is believes he survived a planned attempt on his life. The constitutional reform activist, who says he escaped death by a whisker to tell the tale about the ruthlessness of President Robert Mugabe"s anti-riot police, was picked while demonstrating peacefully just outside Parliament in central Harare last week. Over the past three years, Madhuku has organised similar demonstrations but all the police have done in the past is to arrest him and lock him up at the Harare Central Police station before releasing him. Madhuku, a constitutional law expert, says he has always refused to pay admission of guilty fines and was more than willing to be taken to court, even if it meant spending a night in the cells. In an exclusive interview with The Standard on Friday, Madhuku who is recovering at home, said he learnt about the plan to eliminate him late last year when police had picked him up. "A top officer from the Law and Order section said to me, "Jeri rakuramba wavakutoda pfuti chaiyo"(The prison has failed to stop you from demonstrating, only the gun can do that). The University of Zimbabwe law lecturer said the police who took him on Wednesday also openly told him that they wanted to silence him once and for all. "As they beat me up, they assured me that they wanted to eliminate me, as I was a problem. They asked me why I wanted to sell the country to the whites,"said Madhuku, who was hospitalised after the savage assault. He says that blood gushed from his head as his captors continued to beat him up. "One sympathetic police officer tried to stop the blood by tying a T-shirt around my head. I think they got too scared and so they dumped me while I was lying unconscious on the ground with blood gushing from my head." He said he later gained consciousness and found himself at a bushy area behind the National Sports Stadium. He says he managed to stagger towards an open space, where he switched on his mobile phone and contacted the NCA officials who came and rescued him.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Sunday Times (SA)

No word on Zimbabwe crisis

Sunday Times Foreign Desk

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change claims President Thabo
Mbeki's failure to mention Zimbabwe in his State of the Nation address
showed he was "getting weary" of the long-running crisis in South Africa's
northern neighbour.

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, who is leading the opposition team in
informal talks with President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF, said Mbeki was
most probably despairing of the situation.

"I think Mbeki did not say anything on Zimbabwe because there is nothing
positive to report," Ncube said. "He should be getting tired of being
optimistic when there is nothing changing - except for the worse - on the
ground."

Ncube said Mbeki perhaps decided to avoid the Zimbabwe crisis in his address
because the only prominent political issue in Zimbabwe at this stage was
Zanu-PF infighting.

"There is nothing really progressive taking place," Ncube said. "All there
is, is Zanu-PF's preoccupation with internal squabbles over its succession
crisis.

"But if Mbeki could succeed in persuading Zanu-PF to come to the negotiating
table, it would not take long - maybe two months - of serious dialogue to
resolve this crisis."

Ncube said Mbeki's promise that there would be a solution to the Zimbabwe
crisis by June this year was still possible, but only if Mugabe was
prevailed on soon to engage in serious dialogue.

The head of Zanu-PF's delegation to talks with the MDC, Patrick Chinamasa,
tried to avoid commenting on Mbeki's decision to omit the Zimbabwe issue
from his address.

"I'm on leave and I need to appraise what has been going on," Chinamasa
said. "But did [Mbeki] really have to say anything about Zimbabwe?"

Mbeki recently announced that Mugabe had agreed to formal talks with the
MDC. Zanu-PF and MDC officials say Mugabe is likely to announce the
resumption of dialogue that broke down in May 2002 when he returns from
leave some time this month.

Mbeki has consistently tried to skate over the Zimbabwe crisis in his State
of the Nation addresses, although he has on many occasions promised to deal
with the issue.

In his State of the Nation address last year, Mbeki's only reference to
Zimbabwe was: "We will also continue to work with the people of Zimbabwe as
they seek solutions to the problems afflicting their country. We hope that
sooner rather than later these solutions will be found through dialogue
among the leaders of this neighbouring country."

Mbeki's evasion of the Zimbabwe crisis came as repression in that country
worsened. Last week Mugabe's government tried in vain to block the MDC from
unveiling its proposed economic rescue plan.

Justice Rita Makarau issued an order allowing the MDC to go ahead with its
launch of the plan in the Midlands city of Gweru, about 260km southwest of
Harare, after police tried to stop the meeting.

Two weeks ago the Zimbabwe High Court foiled police plans to ban a similar
MDC event.

Attacks against civil society are also intensifying. On Wednesday, riot
police brutally assaulted National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore
Madhuku and other members of his group.

Madhuku was beaten in a busy area and left for dead, profusely bleeding. He
was subsequently admitted to a Harare clinic and treated for serious head
injuries and bruises.

About 116 National Constitutional Assembly activists were arrested and
detained after demonstrating for reform. All were released on Thursday after
paying fines of $Z10 000 each on charges of conduct likely to cause a breach
of peace.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe

Zvobgo recovers, back in Parliament in weeks

07/02/04
FIREBRAND Masvingo South MP and ex-Zanu PF legal supremo, Edison Zvobgo, who
was admitted to a South African hospital late last year is out of hospital
and now recovering at his house.

Last month we reported how Zvobgo was making steady progress after
undergoing an operation to rectify an undisclosed ailment.

His son Edison Zvobgo Jnr said his father was back in the country and is
expected to resume normal duties in a fortnight.

"He is back in the country after undergoing an operation and is
recuperating. He is going to be okay," he said.

Zvobgo's political career is a source of fascination among Zimbabweans who
are also enthralled by his sharp legal brain and intelligent contributions
in Parliament.

The Harvard-trained lawyer, a member of the ruling Zanu PF's decision making
body - the Politburo - missed the party's annual conference early December
last year due his hospitalisation.

His daughter, Tsungi, said although her father was now able to speak, watch
television and peruse through literature, it would take more time before he
fully recovers.

"Heís doing a little better now," Tsungi said. "Heís improving. Now he can
converse, watch television and read books and newspapers," she said.

Zvobgoís wife, Julia, suffered a stroke while in South Africa comforting her
husband. She is now back in Harare where she is undergoing physiotherapy.

"Unfortunately, my mother suffered a stroke and she is on a wheelchair,"
Tsungi said. "She is attending physiotherapy lessons, but definitely
recovering."

Zvobgo was flown to South Africa a few days before he was to be hauled
before the ruling Zanu PF's disciplinary committee on charges that he
refused to campaign for President Mugabe during the March 2002 presidential
polls.

Zvobgo has dismissed the allegations as "trumped up" charges, describing
them as "demeaning and a pack of lies" by those bent on having him kicked
out of the party. He said those accusing him were mere "strangers" to a
party he helped set up and "visitors" who have nothing to lose if Zanu PF
was divided.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

This is exeter
††††† Bid to bring home Marjorie's ashes

†††††† The family of an Exeter woman brutally murdered in Zimbabwe are
hoping to bring her ashes back to her native city.

††††† Marjorie Eggleston, 66, and her husband Eric were killed at their home
in Prospect, near the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, by a gang of armed robbers
last September.

††††† Mrs Eggleston had lived in Heavitree and Exmouth as a youngster before
leaving to settle in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in 1962.

††††† Her body has already been cremated following a lengthy delay in
Zimbabwe due to the country's critical shortage of fuel.

††††† Now her relatives want to arrange a memorial service and an interment
in Heavitree later this year.

††††† Mrs Eggleston's sister, Valerie Clarke, who lives in Exmouth, said:
"We want to have a service in Exeter but there are a few things to sort out
first.

††††† "We are now selling their house in Zimbabwe, so we are waiting for
that to go through.

††††† "And we won't hold a service until my niece can come over from
Zimbabwe for it.

††††† "She is looking to leave the country but it's difficult at the moment.
We hope we can arrange a service in Exeter so all the people who knew
Marjorie when she was younger have the chance to come and pay their respects
to her. My niece managed to arrange a service in Zimbabwe but they couldn't
get the cremations done for ages.

††††† "They were eventually done on different days. Now we have got the
ashes and the men police think murdered them have been charged - the whole
thing is nearly over for us at last."

††††† Police in Zimbabwe arrested four suspects following the killings and
they all have since been charged with murder.

††††† They are being held in custody in Harare's main jail awaiting trial.
If convicted, they could face the death sentence.

††††† Post-mortems established that the Egglestons were beaten severely
during a robbery at their house in a mainly black neighbourhood.

††††† Mrs Eggleston was shot in the back and lay dying while the house was
ransacked.

††††† When living in Exeter, Mrs Eggleston was known by her maiden name of
Marjorie King.

††††† She later lived in Exmouth and worked for the chemists, Boots, before
marrying and moving to Africa.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe

Nyarota and Sipepa: Two faces of feuding Daily News

By Nathaniel Manheru
07/02/04
LAST week I was rather too brief on Geoffrey Nyarotaís fecund piece to MDCís
Welshman Ncube and Paul Themba Nyathi. One thing for certain is that it is
in fact a misnomer to link it to just the two opposition members. The letter
ís universe is as densely populated as an average Indian and Chinese city
combined.

Its contents are a richly dense tapestry of intrigues, conspiracies,
machinations and manoeuvres that more than befits the arcane world of
espionage and other shades of traitorous behaviour. For that reason it
deserves a second and more considered take, more so given that it amounts to
an eloquent admission by Nyarota, all along in denial, that MDC is dead:
finished by itself.

Nyarotaís so long a letter bemoans this fatal self-immolation, this
self-rejection followed by death and disintegration of which his own life in
self-exile is its vivid and natural existential metaphor. Much like Nyarota
himself, the MDC has finally woken up to its sheer irrelevance and
out-of-placeness, itself initially signalled by its unthinking importation
of a political programme on the one hand and, by its exportation of its
fighting and voting numbers to Unit K (United Kingdom), on the other. Quite
how power and office would be captured through a strategy of eroding its
numbers that way, I cannot say.

The truth is that its activists who had been bred on an imported political
programme; who were now being forced to survive in exile on meagre proceeds
as British Bum Cleaners (BBC), soon drifted severally, too self-preoccupied
to remain homogenous, let alone focused on the exporting cause. With yawning
distances between home and exile, they could cast no vote, throw no stone
for their dying party, appeasing their sense of commitment by periodic
spurts of meaningless demonstrations rewarded by drink and debauchery in
English pubs.

For a long time Nyarota would write about such strains and struggles of
those in exile, but from home. He never thought that some day he would join
them. Today he is one of the exiled lot, not through the "dastardly brutal"
acts of the Zanu-PF regime and its minions, but through machinations of
those in his own camp. That hurts. He finds himself deported from the
newsroom and exiled from the country, not by President Mugabe, but by
"tribalist" Sipepa Nkomo.

He thus cannot be a Meldrum. Nor can he be a Musekiwa given that supposedly
homely politics victimise him. That too hurts. Instead he grimly hovers
between Dongoís quiet exit and anonymous re-entry, and Lupiís riotous
self-exile which nature contradicted through a quiet final departure for the
nether, bereft of even a whimper.

To stare anonymity in the face, that is the prospect that daunts Nyarota
and, like all in-betweens, he rebels against the beckon of either fate,
inexorable though both are. So his essay is a noisy smart that prefaces
oblivion, which is why its politics are as unsustainable as they are
unedifying. Simply read, what chafes Nyarota is not Zanu-PF or its errant
political schemers who sought to use him and The Daily News.

What frightens him is the horror of an MDC without a Morgan Tsvangirai. To
imagine Welshman Ncube and a Themba Nyathi sidelining Tsvangirai and playing
leading roles, however meaningless, is one horror too much. The plot he
describes in his eminently readable letter confines Ncube and Nyathi merely
to ministering to the final disposal of MDCís remains or cadavers. The plot
Nyarota luxuriates in describing makes MDC a victim of a plot in which it is
an accessory.

It is inconceivable that those responsible for a sinister plot would, upon
its imagined triumph, simply pass on power and office to MDC leaders whoever
they are. Did Machiavelli ever say princes were given to such strange bouts
of generosity which border profligacy? It sounds both naive and desperate
and much remains unsaid from Nyarotaís piece. Beyond the plot he tells in
this letter, he should also tell the world the scenarios drawn up avidly by
the British, with Americaís reluctant backing, scenarios drawn for him and
his colleagues at The Daily News.

He should tell the world that he had been primed for a now-or-never
take-over bid in 2002 which went disastrously bad. Together with the MDC, he
had burned all bridges, and the absence of a fall-back position which his
self-exile dramatises the tragic pitfalls of this be-all-and-end-all plan.
That plan did not envisage an editing role for him after March 2002. It
placed him closer to Tsvangirai, which is why the fate of the two remain
intertwined. Both went for broke, welded together by a tribal and regional
mortar which he accuses Sipepa of.

Today both are battling to come to terms with a basic law governing the
shifty world politics, namely, that nothing is possible until it passes. MDC
daily atrophises while Zanu-PF continues to pare its flanks. This Nyarota
cannot come to terms with, and mutual recrimination is his own way of
adjusting, indeed the median between this unrelenting denial and sure
extinction. In the meantime, he needs to remember that death draws requiems,
not eulogies. Fare thee well boy from Nyazura! Farewell the scion from the
line of Rhodesian chiefs!

Prick the cub and the lioness emerges from denial

Now where stands my pretentious friend Biti now that Re-start has gone back
to its real owners? For the benefit of those raised outside the Zimbabwean
African cultural environment, biti refers to a drink that benignly lies
between mahewu and the potent ngoto, a seven-day wonder brew that knocks you
out with a few sips. Unlike skindo, it is supposed to be easy on the throat
and mind, granting back your balance even after a prolonged gulp. Yet it
appears to knock out Tendai who claims authorship of matters well beyond his
ken.

Savaged by the public media and of course by yours truly, the real authors
and minders of Re-start have now come to its defence. The hare-eared Tony
Hawkins and the intellectually wrinkled John Robertson have broken their
silence in defence of this hopeless composition over which Tsvangirai
forcibly has to accept paternity.

Significant where the two lay accent. For both Hawkins and Robertson, the
vision "cannot happen so long as Zanu-PF is in power". Equally, both agree
that its strength is its position on land which "does not jeopardise the
economy". "Every economic problem", concludes the prescient Robertson, "has
a political cause", obviously agitating for politics of regime change.

What economic problem has settler politics caused, both before and after
independence, dear Robertson? Where do you and Hawkins stand vis-a-vis those
politics? And is the reverse of that statement also meaningful to you? As I
have always maintained, it is to be expected that Robertson and Hawkins have
to defend the white laager. What is hard to understand is a person whose
skin and prospects under the settler political economy are as dark as two
moonless nights put together, can agitate for white supremacy, indeed
agitate against his own interests. Cry the beloved people!

Between the Beeb and Blair

I watched and listened with fascination as Britainís organic intellectuals
struggled to reassert BBCís honour after it was badly mauled by one of their
Lords. I do not know the origins of this judge but I can only imagine that
if he was found fit enough to do a clean-up job on Tony Blair, he must be
part of the "nearly" crowd the Conservatives as real governors of Britain,
have delegated to run the country in the meantime, with disastrous
consequences for themselves and Britain.

I have always maintained that the people who rule and run Britain do not
have their roots in the English, Scottish or Welsh working class. Labour is
a comic interlude between the successive governance of Conservatives. Except
this time around itís a tragic-comedy for Britain and the rest of the world
and such frivolity on the part of the Conservatives should never be suffered
again. They must rule Britannia or accept to be ruled by the Gauls or Hans.

Between 1923 and Lord Hutton, the BBC has come under no less than six Royal
scrutinies led by Sykes (1923), Crawford (1926), Ullswater (1936), Beveridge
(1951), Pilkington (1962), Annan (1977) and Peacock (1986). The accretive
result has been to place BBC firmly into the arms of those that govern or
pretend to govern.

In between such inquiring committees were scuffles between the BBC and the
politicals, leading to its exile so it would handle home issues benignly
while appeasing the British public with hard-hitting reports on foreign
news. The foreign beat is what gives and sustains the British illusion of
being a world power. Beyond the shores of Albion and away from its cousins
overseas, BBC operates carte blanche, ironically the name of one of its
programmes that led the lie of a genocide in Zimbabwe.

Gilligan broke this rule and sought to operate carte blanche at home. All
hell broke loose and heads rolled. Not that he did not know the rule. Far
from it. He only correctly felt that Britain under Tonyís New Labour was as
good as an overseas banana republic and handled it as such in his story
treatment.

This is unavoidable when the newsman increasingly finds and lives at home a
reality he ascribes to inferior climes abroad. But beyond the degeneration
of British politics under New Labour, the British public have had their
maiden test of the post-9/11 legal ethos. Having failed to be a democracy
abroad, Britain is increasingly finding it difficult to be one at home.
Meanwhile, what is Zimbabwe which has all along told the world that the BBC
is an elaborate maze of the how-not-to-do-it of journalism, supposed to say?
The standards Blair demands BBC to meet at home, we all in the Third World
must insist on it individually and collectively. Again, Zimbabwe has shown
the way. Bravo -
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Death blow for media freedom in Zimbabwe
The Sunday Independent


February 08 2004 at 11:24AM
Sunday Independent

The death of media freedom in Zimbabwe is being mourned after a Supreme Court ruling effectively put journalists under government control.

The ruling, which upheld restrictive media laws controlling local journalists and foreign correspondents, gave Jonathan Moyo, the information minister and President Robert Mugabe's spin doctor, the power to decide who works as a journalist.

Only one supreme court judge, Justice Wilson Sandura, disagreed with the findings, calling them "unconstitutional".

The judgment was written by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, a close friend of Mugabe, who served in his cabinet after independence.

In future, journalists working without licences will face a mandatory two-year jail sentence without the option of review. The judgment nullified lower court judgments that had ordered that the government's Media and Information Commission - established to license journalists - be disbanded. Friday's judgment saw the immediate closure of the country's biggest and only independent newspaper, the Daily News, because its journalists had long been refused licences to work. The ruling meant imprisonment if they had continued to bring out the newspaper.

Abel Mutsakani, the managing editor of the Daily News and president of the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe, which brought the unsuccessful supreme court application challenging the constitutionality of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, said: "This is the final nail in the coffin of the independent press. We are devastated and heartbroken.

"To say we are in mourning is probably an understatement. How can anyone expect to work as an independent journalist anymore when government has been vested with arbitrary powers to license journalists?"

"It's completely disgusting when the supreme court of the land itself becomes or behaves like a criminal institution," said one lawyer, who asked not to be named.

By giving the government powers to license journalists, in violation of constitutional guarantees on freedom of expression, the supreme court has "dishonestly and wantonly" abdicated its role as the supreme upholder of the human rights of citizens, the lawyer said.

The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe and many international media bodies, including the Southern Africa Journalists Association (Saja), condemned the ruling.

"Surely even those judges who see their role as being to appease the regime of Robert Mugabe only, must at times be restrained by their conscience in the long-term interests of their own country in which their children live," said the Saja.

Lovemore Madhuku, a University of Zimbabwe constitutional law professor, who also heads the largest Zimbabwean civic group, the National Constitutional of Zimbabwe (NCA), said the judgment was nothing more than "a clear endorsement of the governing regime, passed without any regard to basic principles of legal interpretation".

Moyo, however, praised the judgment and vowed that Zimbabwe would also not relax measures preventing foreign journalists from residing permanently in the country. "We have no apology to make," Moyo said. "We do not want to flood our country with foreign media representatives when we have a flood of Zimbabwean journalists with no jobs."

Mugabe introduced the laws after his controversial re-election in March 2002, a move critics said was aimed at silencing opponents as the country struggles with a deep political and economic crisis.

Dozens of journalists have already been prosecuted under the act. "I am delighted about the decision of the supreme court," Moyo said. He said the government was forced to act after realising that western powers wanted to use the foreign media in "their campaign for unconstitutional regime change" in Zimbabwe.

In his judgment, Chidyausiku ruled that section 20 of the Zimbabwean constitution, which guaranteed freedom of expression, did not guarantee the freedom of the press as well. He also said journalists were not above the law and that they should be subjected to government regulatory control.

Supreme Court judge Sandura, the sole survivor of Mugave's purging of the bench over the past three years, said it was unconstitutional for journalists to be forced to be accredited buy a government media commission.

He said this was because the constitution empowered citizens to "hold opinions, receive and impart ideas and information without interference", unless state restrictions were reasonably justified in a democratic context.

Sandura also disagreed with the notion that freedom of expression does not cover freedom of press.

"There is not rational basis for distinguishing the practice of journalism from the exercise of the right of freedom of expression because the two are entwined..." Sandura ruled.

Mathatha Tsedu, chairperson of the African Forum of Journalists, said the situation in Zimbabwe continued to defy logic.

"On the one hand there is talk of a possible political solution, so one is baffled by the Zanu-PF government's insistence on controlling the media in a democratic society. The Daily News should be fighting in the marketplace, not the courtroom," he said.

Anton Harber, a professor of journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand, said the notion of a government registering journalists is contrary to any notion of press freedom and democracy.

"For a country to uphold that right, which Zimbabwe does, goes against international notions of press freedom."

Harber said the closure of the Daily News was a setback for the democratisation of Zimbabwe.
Patrick Craven, a Cosatu spokesperson, said the federation was opposed to the lack of basic human rights legislation in Zimbabwe. Craven said journalists and media workers are seriously at risk through the latest decision.

Ronnie Mamoepa, a spokesperson for the department of foreign affairs, said the South African government had discussed concerns regarding the media in Zimbabwe, which had been raised by the Editors Forum, with the authorities.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Standard - Zim
8/2/04

"Mission Impossible" as Gono heads for IMF
By Rangarirai Mberi

CENTRAL Bank Governor Gideon Gono makes his maiden trip to Washington this month, hoping to convince the International Monetary Fund to restore severed ties with Zimbabwe.

Gono makes his visit two months after the IMF began a procedure leading to the full expulsion of the country from the group, saying Zimbabwe had showed no real resolve to clear its US$273 million arrears with the multilateral lender.

StandardBusiness understands that Gono is scheduled to fly out to meet key IMF staff at the Fund"s headquarters in Washington before the end of this month.

"He will be heading to the IMF soon. He expects to meet top officials, including the president of the IMF (Horst Kohler),"an senior government source said.

The official could however not say whether a two-year old travel ban imposed on Gono by the US government would not scupper the Governor"s travel plans.

Gono"s travel ban came under the US government"s controversial Zimbabwe Democracy Bill, which bans senior government and ruling Zanu PF party officials and their associates from visiting the United States.

Gono fell under the sanctions when, as Jewel Bank CEO, he joined numerous government bands that scoured the world for scarce fuel. There were also claims then that Gono was President Robert Mugabe"s personal banker.

Economists are cautiously optimistic about Gono"s chances in Washington, saying the country"s sullen credit rating could scuttle any effort to achieve recovery. Zimbabwe"s blighted payment record could throw off the governor"s plans, Century Group Economist Moses Chundu warned, but said it could all come down to the strength of Gono"s own recovery plan.

"We have been in arrears for a long time, and this will make it difficult. It will rest on his payment plan; how realistic his blueprint is will be what determines whether he is successful or not,"Chundu told Standard Business last week.

Sunshine Asset Management"s Brains Muchemwa said winning IMF support would be crucial for Zimbabwe"s economic recovery, as renewed ties with the institution would serve as a green light to international capital to return to country.

The economists also said they fear rising political tensions ahead of next year"s general election could hurdle Gono"s plans to hold back inflation which he hopes to bring down to below 200% by December as state expenditure rises as widely forecast.

The IMF has downgraded Zimbabwe"s membership since 1999, when the fund ended balance of payments support to the country over government"s huge war bill in the DRC.

In June last year, the IMF suspended Zimbabwe"s voting rights, despite an earlier pledge by the country to make small quarterly payments of US$1,5 million.

The government in April also paid US$50 million, reportedly after Finance minister Herbert Murerwa met IMF chief Kohler on the sidelines of the spring general meeting in Washington.

Senior government officials have repeatedly said Zimbabwe should end all ties with the IMF, which they allege is being used as a route by "imperialists"to recolonise the country.

However, in his landmark monetary policy announced on December 18, Gono said he would seek to heal ties with the IMF, saying he wanted to restore Zimbabwe"s "credibility in, and amongst key international donor, money and capital markets".

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Shock treatment for winning MDC councillor
By Wilson Dakwa

The Standard - Zim

A NKAYI Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) councillor, Sifiso Mpofu who recently won a by-election in his ward received shock treatment when he was arrested by police for inviting politicians to his victory celebrations two weeks ago.

According to Nkayi Member of Parliament, Abednigo Bhebhe, the local community was shocked that Mpofu was arrested despite the police having initially sanctioned the celebrations.

"After he held his victory celebrations, he found himself being picked up by police and was detained overnight in police holding cells,"said Bhebhe.

"The police accused him breaching an agreement by inviting politicians to his celebrations. We are surprised that the police have the power to give us a prescription as to who we should invite to our parties,"Bhebhe added.

Barely a week after the ordeal, Mpofu was re-arrested for holding a residents" meeting in his ward without seeking police clearance.

Bhebhe said Mpofu, who was picked up again last Saturday, spent at least three days wallowing in police custody before any charges were levelled against him.

Said Bhebhe: "The situation in Nkayi is getting out of control. The police, the district administrator and other State security agents have intensified their harassment of opposition politicians. Bogus charges are being created to constantly make life difficult for people to venture into opposition politics."

Lawyer Job Sibanda, who is representing Mpofu, confirmed his client was arrested again on Saturday but was released on Tuesday. He said Mpofu, who is now facing charges of organising a political meeting without police clearance, was released on free bail after the Attorney General"s Office declined to prosecute.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

White Zimbabweans hit by wave of sex assaults

February 8, 2004

Daily Telegraph

BY PETA THORNYCROFT

When Gisela Honeywill was raped in her daughter's bedroom, her hands tied behind her back, her ordeal was just beginning.

Up to a third of sexually active Zimbabweans are infected with the AIDS virus, but police were unable to arrange an urgent medical examination.

She and her husband drove to Harare, two hours away, for anti-viral drugs that could save her from infection if her rapist was HIV-positive.

Days later, the results came through: The tests on the 38-year-old were negative.

There is an unprecedented surge of violence against Zimbabwe's dwindling white population, particularly in the mountainous eastern Manicaland province, once a major tourist destination.

Honeywill's teeth chatter and tears flow when she recalls her ordeal. She and her husband Conrad woke up at 3:15 a.m. three weeks ago to find men on either side of their bed.

They were tied up, beaten and robbed in a two-hour ordeal. When the gang found they had only a few South African rand, one angrily accused them of hiding assets.

"My daughter was away on holiday, thank God. They dragged me to her bedroom and stripped me," said Honeywill. "I thought they were just trying to scare me. I didn't believe I was going to be raped.

"A friend of mine, Francie, was stripped just a short time ago, but they didn't rape her. Then the small fat man hit me, forced my legs open. I didn't bite or scratch, my hands were tied behind my back. Then . . . I can't remember anything except some time went by, and he said, 'I have finished now.'"

All the time, Conrad Honeywill was on his knees crying: "Don't do it to her, don't do it." The windows were open but no one came in response to their screams.

Not their maid living a stone's throw from the back door, nor policemen guarding a politician of the ruling Zanu PF, Didymus Mutasa, four houses away. The three attackers wore Zimbabwe Republic police flak jackets, Conrad Honeywill said.

Gisela Honeywill, a secretary at the local private school, was willing to be identified. She wanted the world to know the dangers she and her husband -- who was born in Rusape and runs an electrical business -- faced in their far-off corner of Zimbabwe.

Two days later, an 18-year-old schoolgirl and her mother had their hands tied and were stripped and threatened with rape in the mountain resort of Juliasdale, also in Manicaland province.

The girl and her parents were attacked by a group of three who said they did not believe the family did not have foreign currency and high-tech goods.

A retired couple in Juliasdale was attacked, and the woman was stripped while they were robbed.

None of the far richer black families in each neighborhood or street where these incidents took place since Christmas was attacked.

Black women have been raped because they were suspected of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. "Most never come to us, so we have no idea of numbers," a human rights activist said Friday.

Daily Telegraph


Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Standard - Zim
8/2/04

SA deports Zimbabweans ahead of elections
By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO The South African government has thrown out hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans working in that country illegally as Pretoria prepares for general elections within the next three months, it emerged yesterday.

Several Zimbabweans, many of them from Bulawayo, told The Standard that South African government officials and police had rounded them up and expelled those found without proper identification documents.

Other illegal Zimbabweans have fled their homes and jobs down south fearing that the police crackdown would net them.

"We have been told that Zimbabweans have a serious negative influence on South Africans by teaching the locals how to unleash violence, farm invasions as well as general lawlessness,"said one Zimbabwean, who escaped from the South African police dragnet.

"As you can see, our Kombi is fully-packed with Zimbabweans returning from South Africa and they are all Bulawayo residents. We are returning home until such a time they finish voting,"said another, Mandla Mguni.

The deputy secretary in Zimbabwe"s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pavelyn Tendai Musaka, confirmed receiving numerous reports about Zimbabweans being pushed out of South Africa.

She said Zimbabwe and South Africa were holding discussions at government level to bring to an end such problems.


Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Standard - Zim
8/2/04

Harare budget increase bizarre, says Mudzuri
By our own Staff

SUSPENDED Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri says the 2004 council budget should be withdrawn because it is unsustainable and unfriendly to residents. The council, headed by acting Executive Mayor Sekesai Makwavarara, last year proposed a $1,3 trillion budget which saw rates hiked by an average of as much as 1 500 percent.

Addressing residents in Harare at a meeting called by the Combined Residents" Association on Wednesday, Mudzuri said the budget needed to take into account the fact that ratepayers were already overburdened by the harsh economic environment.

"The proposed increases and figures are bizarre,"Mudzuri said. "Whatever calculations have been used, the figures cannot be justified and therefore need to be reviewed.”

Speaking at the same meeting Chitungwiza Executive Mayor Misheck Shoko said he was engaging Harare councillors to review the proposed rates as they were unacceptable to residents.

"MDC-led councils are under unannounced sanctions,"Shoko said. "Under such circumstances we should craft a budget which is acceptable to residents so that we won"t play into the hands of Chombo and angry residents.”

Councillor Christopher Mushonga concurred with the two mayors and lashed out at Harare City Council technocrats for bouncing the figures off the policy-making body without giving a full explanation.

"Not more than five of the councillors made an input into the budget because of lack of knowledge of how the system works,"Mushonga said.

"We raised questions on the increases but the technocrats who drafted the budget assured us that everything was alright,"Mushonga added.

Residents who attended the meeting resolved to boycott the new rates if council refused to go back to the drawing board to review the figures.

"The best way forward would be to boycott the rates until council reviews the figures,"Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure said.

The residents" association is expected to meet council this week to decide on the budget.
Back to the Top
Back to Index