|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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MDC's Mpala was murdered
By Loughty Dube and Savious Kwinika
The Standard - Zim
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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".
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.
February 8, 2004
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.
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.
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.