Mon 21 Jan 2008, 16:57 GMT
By Nelson Banya
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean police have banned an opposition protest march
planned for Wednesday, but the Movement for Democratic Change said it would
press ahead with the demonstration against President Robert Mugabe's
The MDC, the country's main opposition party, said last week it would
demonstrate against the crumbling economy and call for a new constitution
which it said would guarantee that elections due in March would be free and
"We are proceeding with the march ... we're marching because our people are
suffering ... there's no water, no electricity. The government is totally
bereft and bankrupt of any capacity to govern this country. This government
has failed," Tendai Biti, secretary-general of the MDC faction that is led
by Morgan Tsvangirai, told reporters on Monday.
The police, who had initially allowed the march, said in a letter that they
had banned the protest because the MDC had broken an agreement reached at a
meeting last week.
Zimbabweans have tended to shy away from demonstrations, mainly from fear of
a heavy-handed response by Mugabe's security forces.
Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told state television the
march had been banned over fears it would degenerate into violence and
looting, and warned the MDC against any acts of defiance.
"We are not going to allow this march and we are going to use all the powers
entrusted in the police to stop it," he said.
Tsvangirai, who was arrested and beaten with dozens of opposition members
while trying to hold an anti-government rally last year, said earlier this
month the party might boycott the elections unless the government
implemented the new constitution.
The MDC said it had called the march to test the commitment to political
reforms of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party. The MDC is in talks with ZANU-PF,
mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, that are aimed at ending
Zimbabwe's political crisis
Asked if the MDC would pull out of the talks over the police ban, Biti said:
"We've got full confidence in President Mbeki. We will remain on the
Political analyst and Mugabe critic John Makumbe said the march ban was
"This is a government which fears street protests, and they have a record of
never taking chances. With what is going on in Kenya, I did not expect they
were going to allow that to go ahead even for good marks on their political
record," he said.
(Additional reporting by Cris Chinaka; Editing by Giles Elgood)
Monsters and Critics
Jan 21, 2008, 15:43 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is
gearing for a march through the streets of Harare this week, but state media
accuses it of 'spoiling for a fight.'
The main Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC took out full- page
adverts in the private press over the weekend advertising what the party has
called a Freedom March.
The march is set for midday Wednesday.
The organisers say it is to call for food, jobs and a new constitution
before free and fair elections that President Robert Mugabe insists will be
held in March.
The MDC says it has held three meetings with police to agree on the route
for the march. A slight easing of security laws means it is in theory easier
for the opposition to stage marches and rallies.
But the political editor of state-controlled daily the Herald last week said
the proposed march proved the MDC was spoiling for a fight.
'MDC leaders have not found it in themselves to condemn the illegal
sanctions, which they grovelled for in the first place, yet the sanctions
are largely to blame for the problems bedevilling the ordinary man they
claim to be planning to march in sympathy with,' said Caesar Zvayi.
Memories are still fresh of a prayer rally held by opposition parties and
civil rights groups in March last year, which was brutally broken up by
Opposition supporters, including Tsvangirai, were beaten and regional
African leaders were forced to intervene in an attempt to defuse rising
© 2008 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Mon 21 Jan 2008, 16:30 GMT
HARARE, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's central bank on Monday blamed banks
for the country's cash shortages which have persisted despite the injection
of new, higher denomination bank notes last week.
The shortage of bank notes, reflecting a severe economic crisis blamed on
President Robert Mugabe's policies, has prompted the central bank to issue
higher denomination bills to keep up with galloping inflation. Zimbabwe has
the highest inflation rate in the world at nearly 8,000 percent.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono told reporters that 98 trillion Zimbabwe
dollars ($3.3 billion at the official exchange rate, $23.3 million at black
market rates) in new notes had been put into circulation since mid-December.
Gono said Zimbabwe had Z$170 trillion in circulation, which would rise to
Z$800 trillion by the end of the week.
On Monday Gono took the unprecedented step of opening the central bank's
vaults to a group of journalists, bankers and business leaders to display
huge piles of cash, which he said banks were failing to withdraw.
"Notwithstanding the high levels of cash stocks sitting at the Reserve Bank
ready for dispatch into the market, some banking institutions have been
engaging in imprudent and unethical practices which are creating artificial
queues for cash," Gono said.
"Analysis of banks' asset-liability profiles has shown non-collection of
cash from the Reserve Bank due to inability to pay for such cash on
collection as they tied up depositors' funds in illiquid speculative
Last week the central bank issued Z$10 million, Z$5 million and Z$1 million
notes after another set of Z$750,000, Z$500,000 and Z$250,000 printed in
December failed to resolve the cash shortages.
The new measures have so far failed to end long queues at banks, which Gono
accuses of being unable to collect sufficient bank notes from the central
bank as they had tied up depositors' funds in risky and speculative
Apart from the bank note shortages, Zimbabweans have to grapple with
shortages of food, foreign currency, fuel and electricity, reflecting an
economic crisis blamed on Mugabe's seizure of white-held farms to resettle
Mugabe, 83 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies
running down one of the continent's most promising economies and says it has
been undermined by western nations opposed to his land reforms.
January 21, 2008, 15:30
The Department of Foreign Affairs says President Thabo Mbeki has not been
asked to brief his African Union (AU) peers on the progress regarding his
mediation efforts in Zimbabwe.
Mbeki is expected to attend next week's AU Heads of State and Government
meeting in Ethiopia. Zimbabwe's political situation is, however, not
expected to feature on the summit's agenda.
Last year, Southern African Development Community leaders appointed Mbeki to
lead the negotiations between the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change. Mbeki is therefore accountable to the region's
leaders and not the AU as a whole.
Mbeki was in Harare last week for talks with both parties, after which he
expressed satisfaction with progress in the lead up to the March elections.
Kenya high on agenda
The turmoil in Kenya is expected to feature high on the agenda in Ethiopia
next week. AU Chairperson and Ghanaian President, John Kufuor, is expected
to brief his peers on his recent visit to Kenya and the outcome of his
meeting with the various stakeholders.
This has been revealed by Deputy Director-General for Africa Multilateral,
Ambassador Jessie Duarte. She briefed the media in Pretoria this morning on
the upcoming AU meeting.
She says Kufuor's report will be among the agenda items of the AU's Peace
and Security Council.
Close to 700 people have died in fighting across the country since late last
month, when Kibaki was re-elected in a presidential poll that opposition
leader, Raila Odinga, says was rigged.
There have been 48 deaths in violence in Nairobi's slums over the past six
By Blessing Zulu
21 January 2008
Following the apparent failure of his personal intervention in Zimbabwe's
political crisis last week, South African President Thabo Mbeki is expected
to refer the deadlock between Harare's ruling party and the opposition to a
"troika" of regional leaders assigned oversight by the Southern African
Sources in the ruling ZANU-PF party said that with the troika now chaired by
Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos, close to Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe, the SADC troika is unlikely to pressure Harare for a compromise in
the crisis talks. The other members of the SADC troika are Swaziland and
Mr. Mbeki flew to Harare last Thursday in an effort to save the crisis talks
he has been mediating from collapse. But Mr. Mugabe would not budge on key
points including the date of the next elections and the adoption of a new
constitution before balloting.
Founding President Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change
told a rally in Harare on Sunday that Mr. Mbeki should refer the matter to
SADC, and threatened to boycott the elections if opposition demands are not
Researcher Chris Maroleng of South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies
told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it is
appropriate for President Mbeki to refer the talks deadlock to the SADC
troika on Zimbabwe.
But political analyst Tapera Kapuya, a fellow at the National Endowment for
Democracy in Washington, D.C., said not much can be expected from a troika
whose Angolan chair and Swazi vice chair have weak democratic credentials.
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 01/21/2008 21:05:57
ZIMBABWEANS will have to wait much longer to get a low-down on the country’s
corrupt elite after a promised expose by the country’s central bank was
thwarted, apparently by the ruling Zanu PF party.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono was due to testify
before a parliamentary committee, revealing names of corrupt cronies in
President Robert Mugabe’s government accused of hoarding cash and trading on
the illicit parallel market thereby causing nationwide cash shortages.
Gono told an extra-ordinary congress of the ruling Zanu PF party last
December that some of the corrupt officials were high ranking government
officers. He said he would name the officials but only before the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic
The committee initially frustrated Gono’s request, its chairman David Butau
insisting that they were “not in a hurry” to summon the governor. Days
later, Butau fled Zimbabwe for the UK after police said they were
investigating corruption charges against him.
But the way appeared to have been cleared for Gono to make his testimony
when the committee met early last week and officially invited him to appear
at 1430hrs on Monday, January 21.
Late Friday, Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma’s office confirmed it had been
communicating with RBZ officials over the committee’s invitation, but had
failed to get confirmation that the governor would attend.
Then on Monday morning, an RBZ spokesman confirmed Gono would not be
appearing before the committee. He refused to discuss the reasons, referring
all questions to the parliamentary committee.
The committee’s acting chairman Daniel Mackenzie Ncube, who is also Zanu PF’s
legislator for Zhombe, insisted he was not aware of the new developments.
New Zimbabwe.com understands the meeting was called off as fears grew in
Zanu PF that embarrassing revelations by the governor could thwart the party’s
electoral prospects in joint presidential and parliamentary elections due in
“That meeting will never be held. The committee has been told to leave Gono
alone. The committee was, however, willing to engage the governor,” a Zanu
PF legislator said, refusing to say where the order came from to exclude
The developments mean that the meeting might never be held as Parliament
will be dissolved shortly, before reconvening after the elections on April
8. The committee’s current members, if they retain their seats, will change
in the next parliament as a matter of procedure.
The Nation (Nairobi)
21 January 2008
Posted to the web 21 January 2008
South African President Thabo Mbeki visited the continent's land of poorest
millionaires, Zimbabwe last week.
The reason Zimbabweans are millionaires is because a loaf of bread costs a
million Zimbabwe dollars.
Zimbabweans derisively call them "Mugabe dollars" after President Robert
Mr Mbeki went to advance a mandate the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) gave him last March to broker a peace deal between Mr
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai. That might some day make Zimbabwe's
millionaires slightly richer.
Apparently, Mr Mugabe cut short his vacation in Malaysia by three days.
Shortly after SADC mandated Mr Mbeki to mediate in Zimbabwe the New
York-based Human Rights Watch said, "The government of Zimbabwe has
permitted security forces to commit serious abuses with impunity against
opposition activists and ordinary Zimbabweans alike."
That's Mr Mugabe's reply to woes his policies have brought to Zimbabweans:
widespread shortages of food, fuel, electricity and water, to say nothing of
declining education standards. Inflation stands at 15,000 per cent, which
World Bank says is abnormal for a country not at war.
After talks with both parties - four hours with Mr Mugabe who can say a
great deal in a minute - Mr Mbeki was optimistic.
"I don't doubt the commitment of the Zimbabwe leadership to ensuring that
all the country's problems are solved," he told reporters. "It's really work
in progress and very good progress."
Mr Mbeki dampened reports the talks were deadlocked while time is running
out. The Inter Press Service reported negotiators have met 20 times.
That must be held
At issue are elections that must be held before the end of March. SADC wants
them free and fair. Incidentally, Mr Mugabe seeks another term.
The ruling ZANU-PF prefers the elections under the current constitution. The
winning party will then spearhead the process of a new constitution.
The MDC wants a transitional constitution. That means a constitutional
amendment and postponement of presidential elections.
Mr Mbeki has precious little to show for his labour since March: revisions
to security and media laws. As the Acts stood, those police deny permission
to organise public meetings could only appeal to the minister for Home
Affairs. Under the amended law, police have to give a reason and a
magistrate can overrule it.
Members of the commission that regulates media are to be named from a list
submitted by a bi-partisan parliamentary committee. They must have media
experience. Journalists union's representation is necessary.
Foreigners can own media outlets, but permanent foreign correspondents
remain banned. Mr Tsvangirai calls all this cosmetic. He insists on a
Mr Mbeki needs a magic wand. If he can wave one, to ensure that elections
are free and fair in Zimbabwe, even if they were held next month, he would
at least win international kudos.
Doubts that South Africa had leverage over Mr Mugabe never existed. It must
be remembered that when South Africa told the late Prime Minister Ian Smith
his time was up, he went out and Mr Mugabe entered way back in 1980. Mr
Mbeki always promised he was engaged in quiet diplomacy with Mr Mugabe and
Mr Tsvangirai. Yet Mr Mugabe continued his wayward ways.
Mr Mbeki though has another reason for his current and open diplomatic
frenzy. He needs a flag to wave and salvage his image. At home, his image is
in tatters. In mid-December, Mr Mbeki lost his bid to continue as head of
the African National Congress. Earlier, Mr Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC
legislator, delivered a most scathing attack on Mr Mbeki. He said he has
"prided over a serious moral decline" in the ANC. What he didn't say is that
Mugabe too diverted ZANU-PF from its core. That's why Mr Mbeki needs to
achieve a little mellowing in Comrade Bob.
Else, Mr Mbeki's stature as one of the persons who made a mark in the
evolution of Southern Africa from the shackles of racist and totalitarian
rulers will have lessened.
A massive and very busy Vigil. We estimate that at least 500 were there,
filling the entire piazza outside Ziimbabwe House. Among them were MDC
members who had marched from Trafalgar Square behind a huge banner
"Zimbabweans want free and fair elections 2008". The banner was donated to
us and it will be a centrepiece of our Vigils in the weeks leading up to the
elections. There was a huge queue to sign the register and it will be some
days before it is fully processed. Gugu Ndlovu-Tutani, one of our register
monitors, had to remonstrate with one lady who wanted to sign in for others.
As Gugu explained, we are in the UK now and this sort of fixing is not
The big turn-out was a wonderful publicity opportunity but unfortunately
there were no press with us because of a lack of consultation between our
visitors and the Vigil. What a waste! We could have promoted this to our
extensive media list. It was by far the biggest demonstration that we know
of held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy and made an important statement at this
crucial time in Zimbabwe. Despite mischievous reports on some Zimbabwean
websites it was a very harmonious Vigil, everyone giving a fair hearing to
others. For us all it was a wonderful opportunity to meet and embrace other
Zimbabweans, to sing and dance together in the traditional Zimbabwean way...
with a minimum of speechifying.
Story of the day: one lady asked the Vigil to write a letter to help her
renew her Zimbabwean passport. We are touched that she had such faith in us
but explained it was likely to be a disadvantage on this matter!
Highlight of the day: at the end of the Vigil the entire piazza was taken
over by people holding hands to sing the national anthem in love of our
country and our people.
Among us was a Zimbabwean who had spent 7 months in Yarlswood Detention
Centre and had been released on bail reporting to the police twice a week.
The Vigil supports any campaign to allow asylum seekers to work and
contribute to the British economy and we are glad that this question is
rising up the political agenda in this country.
Great to have Dr Brighton Chireka with us today. Brighton has been a
committed activist and has launched a medical scheme to help the sick in
Zimbabwe. He promises to join us again on a regular basis and we welcome
him back. We also noticed among our supporters Peter Tatchell. We are
always glad when this committed activist joins us.
Grateful thanks to the courteous policemen who helped tactfully to manage
After the Vigil we were briefed from Zimbabwe by Sten of our partner
organization Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe. He said there was a
blackout in the whole of Harare (we know see that it was the whole country
according to SW RADio Africa) and the currency situation is worsening, with
people sleeping by bank machines. Roads have huge potholes and people are
lucky to get two meals a day. He himself had gone to bed hungry because he
couldn't build a fire in the pouring rain to cook his sadza.
We were glad to see a profile of Vigil Co-ordinator Dumi Tutani in the
important London Observer newspaper. In a review of protests, the newspaper
describes us as the largest regular demonstration in London
(http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,2243558,00.html). We reprint
the interview here:
Dumi Tutani, 38 - The singer
In 2001 Tutani co-founded the Zimbabwe Vigil which meets weekly outside
Zimbabwe House at 429 Strand, and has become the largest regular
demonstration in London.
He's an easy man to find. Head to the Strand on a Saturday afternoon
(2-6pm), come rain or shine, and look for the man leading a crowd in song.
The Zimbabwe vigils started six years ago with five people, and now attract
around 100 a week.
'We thought if we tell the people in the street that their tax money is
going to prop up dictators, they will demand change,' says the soft-spoken
musician. Singing, drumming and stomping toyi-toyi dancing were a natural
accompaniment. 'Back home wherever a few people gather, be it a funeral, a
wedding or just working in the fields, then we sing.'
Tutani fled the persecution suffered by members of Zimbabwe's leading
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, and arrived in London
in 2001. He lives in West Norwood, south London, with his wife and
one-year-old son, Zizi, and got his immigration papers last month.
It's impossible to protest in Zimbabwe. The Public Order and Security Act
means a handful of civilians standing together is a public order offence.
Demonstrators are regularly beaten by baton-wielding policemen, and
sometimes even shot.
'The Zimbabwe Embassy is the closest we can get to Robert Mugabe,' says
Tutani. 'The situation is getting consistently worse. People don't have
access to medicine, clean water, basic food or education: people are dying
every day. We have to raise awareness until there are free elections.'
The vigil is portable, too, flying to Lisbon for the EU-Africa heads of
state summit last month, where, amid a throng of protesters, the
all-singing, all-dancing Zimbabweans gained widespread attention. Mugabe was
furious to be upstaged, and his mouthpiece, the Herald newspaper, bitterly
denounced the protesters as puppets of the UK government.
Elections are scheduled for March but they are unlikely to be free or fair
or monitored by the international community.
'They're a sham. People in the diaspora are not allowed to vote, opposition
parties are not allowed to campaign, there are no international observers on
the ground,' says Tutani. 'We're not going anywhere.
For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/.
Thanks to Doubt Chimonyo and Jaison Matewu for extra pictures.
The Central London Zimbabwe Forum meets as usual at 7.30 pm on Monday, 21st
January. This week's venue is the Strand Continental Hotel, 143 The Strand,
WC2R 15A. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the
Vigil its about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar
Square. The Strand Continental is situated between Somerset House and the
turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is a doorway onto the street,
with a big sign high above indicating it is the Hotel Strand Continental and
a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
By Tichaona Sibanda
21 January 2008
On Saturday a large cross section of Zimbabweans from all walks of life in
the United Kingdom gathered outside Zimbabwe House in central London for
nearly four hours, to protest about Robert Mugabe’s tyrannical regime.
The demonstration was organized by the MDC-UK and has been described as the
biggest public protest ever held by Zimbabweans in the UK. It was
characterised by the typical London weather, which was grey and damp.
Jameson Mashakada from Southend who is the MDC-UK youth leader said: ‘We
have all come together to try and make Zimbabwe a better place, but without
Mugabe obviously. It’s horrible that some people suffer just because they
happen to live in a broken country torn to pieces by one man.’
‘Zimbabweans want free and fair elections in 2008,’ proclaimed one huge
banner among the many other placards calling for an end to the regime’s
madness. MDC activist Henry Maurayi of Kettering said the huge crowd was
very encouraging and urged the party to organise more protests to keep the
‘Zimbabwe issue’ on the world agenda.
The mood was festive, with cheerleaders belting out anti-Mugabe slogans
while members of the Zimbabwe Vigil kept the passionate crowd on its feet by
singing and drum beating.
A spokesperson for the MDC, Jaison Matewu, said that they organised the
event to show the public the true state of affairs in Zimbabwe under the
‘We came here to tell the world of the crisis in Zimbabwe. We are saying we
need free and fair elections in the country because another disputed
election will take us further down the drain,’ he said.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
by Simplicious Chirinda Monday 21 January 2008
HARARE – Dispossessed white farmers say they are mulling a joint legal
challenge to President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms,
emboldened by a regional tribunal’s encouraging handling of a Zimbabwean
farmer’s appeal against seizure of his land.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal last December
barred Mugabe’s government from evicting William Michael Campbell from his
farm pending a ruling on an application by the white farmer challenging the
legality of Harare’s programme to seize white land for redistribution to
Campbell first appealed against seizure of his property at Zimbabwe’s
Supreme Court last March but resorted to the Tribunal after what his lawyers
said was “unreasonable delay” by the country’s highest court in dealing with
The Namibia-based Tribunal is expected to deliver its final ruling on the
matter this month.
Justice for Agriculture (JAG), a pressure group for white farmers, said a
joint application by dispossessed farmers would help bring to finality all
land disputes between farmers and Mugabe’s government.
“We are looking at different ways in which we can have these cases brought
to finality and one of them is to mount a joint application,” said JAG
leader, John Worswick.
“We want to see how the recent ruling by the SADC Tribunal in favour of
Michael Campbell can be spread to other farmers,” he added.
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), the main representative body for white
Zimbabwean farmers, said its members met in Harare last week to look at the
possibility of mounting a joint application to the Supreme Court which could
also be taken up to the regional Tribunal.
"We met as a think-tank and we are putting before our members these
suggestions so that they can consider if they want to take that route,” CFU
president Trevor Gifford.
Mugabe’s controversial farm seizures have resulted in the majority of the
about 4 000 white farmers being forcibly ejected from their properties
without being paid compensation for the land, which the government has
refused to pay for saying it was stolen from blacks in the first place.
The government has compensated some farmers for developments on the land
such as dams and farm buildings and say it is committed to compensating all
farmers for such improvements.
Land redistribution, that Mugabe says was necessary to correct a colonial
land ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished
blacks to poor soils, is blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into food shortages
after Harare failed to support black villagers resettled on former white
farms with inputs to maintain production.
In his application before the Tribunal, Campbell wants the regional body to
find Harare in breach of its obligations as a member of SADC after it signed
into law Constitution of Amendment No. 17 two years ago.
The constitutional amendment allows the Harare government to seize farmland
without compensation and bars courts from hearing appeals from dispossessed
The white farmer also said in papers filed with the regional body that
Mugabe’s land reforms were racist and illegal under the SADC treaty adding
that Article 6 of the SADC treaty bars member states from discriminating
against any person on the grounds of gender, religion, race, ethnic origin
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the SADC treaty. – ZimOnline
by Mutumwa Mawere Monday 21 January 2008
JOHANNESBURG - Political power in any democratic and constitutional order is
held by the holders of sovereignty.
It is true that without following a principle of containing and balancing
legislative, executive, and judiciary powers, there can be no freedom and no
protection against the abuse of power.
The separation of power principle between the three branches of the state is
so fundamental to the protection of any constitutional order.
It is generally agreed that any atmosphere where any of the branches of the
state can operate with excessive limitation from others and one branch can
rule out the decisions of the other branches necessarily undermines the
principle of sovereignty and the rule of law.
Africa is a challenged continent in so far as locating political power in
the context of the wishes and aspirations of citizens.
In post-colonial Africa, sovereignty has been alienated from citizens and
the holders of political power have generally assumed a separate and
distinct existence notwithstanding the fact that occasionally they submit
themselves to elections where outcomes are generally predetermined and
To a large extent the institutions of government in post-colonial Africa
were inherited from the colonial state. In the colonial state, citizens had
no say in how they were governed and the destiny of the colonial state was
shaped by the settlers with no input from the governed majority.
What is ironic is that even the worst dictators in Africa believe that their
actions are in the national interest.
Citizens of Africa were alienated from political power in the colonial era
and have largely surrendered their sovereignty in the post-colonial state to
their elected representatives often with no checks and balances.
The foundation of any democratic and constitutional order must be the
location of the address of power in the hands of citizens and the ability of
citizens to ensure that their governments are accountable and operate
Regrettably, the experiences of many post-colonial African states confirm
that political power has been hijacked by manipulative and power hungry
elites to the extent that citizens are no longer able to assert their rights
The case of Zimbabwe is an interesting one and provides a useful case study
for many emerging nations.
Even Raila Odinga has come to the conclusion that President Mugabe has set a
bad example for Africa on how state power can perpetuate itself using
seemingly democratic instruments like elections.
The context in which President Kibaki has been re-elected has many parallels
in Africa and it is not unusual in Africa that after elections the only hope
for citizens asserting their political rights is through external mediation
efforts and it is extremely difficult and dangerous for citizens to attempt
to bring to book, criminal politicians who derive their legitimacy from
Ordinarily, criminals have no locus standi to negotiate their future let
alone to participate in processes while they are enjoying the fruits of
their criminal conduct.
However, in Africa it has become acceptable that power can be stolen from
the people and the beneficiaries of such practices can impose their will on
innocent citizens who have no internal capacity to reclaim their power.
Mugabe has rightly or wrongly maintained the position that at all material
time, the sovereignty of Zimbabwe has belonged to the citizens and that any
regime change agenda that has not been informed by the wishes or aspirations
of the people of Zimbabwe was bound to fail.
It is true that Mugabe has presided over a fast decaying economy but has
never missed an election suggesting that the people of Zimbabwe must be
supportive of policies that have led to the increase of the frontiers of
If there is no serious domestic opposition to bad governance and citizens of
Zimbabwe have for the last 28 years failed to come up with a mechanism of
making their government accountable, can one safely conclude that it is a
demonstration of the support Mugabe enjoys from the people?
After 28 years of independence, can one conclude that the actions of the
executive, legislature and judiciary of Zimbabwe are consistent with the
expectations of the citizens?
Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans have complained about the centralisation of
power in the hands of the President to the extent that the constitutional
order that is expected in a democratic Zimbabwe has been undermined.
Any head of a starving household cannot claim to be a good provider. The
state of the Zimbabwean economy has been well documented but it is clearly
evident that Mugabe’s supporters are not convinced that he bears any
responsibility for the collapse of the economy.
Is it the case that citizens have accepted that they have no power to change
their own circumstances or they are afraid of the people who have stolen
Mugabe would not agree that he is a thief and any suggestion that his
administration is now polluted by a gang of thieves would easily be
Many have seen George Charamba, the chief government propagandist on Al
Jazeera, making allegations that Zimbabwe continues to be a victim of
Mr Supa Mandiwanzira, the correspondent for Al Jazeera in Zimbabwe, would
like the world to believe that the problems of Zimbabwe are externally
generated and the people of Zimbabwe are fools.
The perception that Zimbabweans have gotten a government they deserve is
well founded for how can any rational person explain why it has been
impossible for Zimbabweans to identify correctly their problem and deal with
The manner in which infantile disorder underpinned by childish propaganda
has taken root in Zimbabwe confirms that there is something fundamentally
wrong in the psyche of Zimbabweans.
Charamba and Gideon Gono have emerged as the two critical defenders of what
has been generally described as a failed state. Although Charamba takes the
position that people of Zimbabwe are inherently incapable of thinking and
acting independently with obviously with the exception of Mugabe and his
loyal troops, Gono poses a more significant threat to the constitutional
order through the opaque quasi-fiscal activities.
Gono is the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and in any
democratic order such a bank would be an organ of state and not a threat to
democracy. The RBZ should ordinarily operate as a citizens’ bank and a
repository of their trust and confidence in the integrity of the financial
Citizens elected their representatives to look after their interests and yet
one cannot say that the Parliament of Zimbabwe operates as a house of
It is evident that the house of assembly has been transformed into the house
of MDC and ZANU-PF and the sovereignty of the people has been sufficiently
undermined to the extent that national interests no longer occupy the minds
If the legislative agenda was informed by national interests, Gono would by
now be in prison. What Mugabe has skilfully done is to make Gono the
ultimate custodian of the nation through the systematic castration of
The parliament of Zimbabwe is now an agent of the executive and there may be
no merit in having parliamentary elections if Gono remains a Governor of the
Since Gono’s appointment as Governor of the RBZ, Zimbabweans have seen the
erosion of the role of the Parliament and Cabinet. What Gono thinks
prevails and sadly the people of Zimbabwe are the ultimate losers.
There is no better example of demonstrating how helpless Zimbabweans have
been reduced to than the current cash crisis and the never ending foreign
At the ZANU-PF congress, Gono threatened to expose the so-called cash barons
instead of telling the nation that he was the mastermind of the destruction
of the formal economy.
He invited himself to the Budget and Finance committee that was chaired by
Butau who like James Makamba and others have been externalised by Gono.
It has now been reported that Gono will appear before the parliamentary
committee today and it is generally expected that he will provide a list of
the so-called cash barons.
However, Gono finds himself under siege after being exposed in a court of
law as the real cash baron who has regrettably manipulated the whole nation
into believing that the enemy is from without and not from within.
What will Gono say? Will he or will he not reveal the names? What is the
role of the RBZ destroying a functioning economic system? Is Mugabe part of
the plot? These are some of the questions that must surely be in people’s
However, if I was a member of the parliamentary committee what kind of
questions would I pose for Gono? The following would surely be on the top of
1. Mr Gono: Are you aware that the only mechanism for allocating state
resources is the budget under the oversight of parliament? If so, how do you
explain the role of the RBZ in allocating resources through quasi-fiscal
activities in a democratic order?
2. Please can you provide a detailed list of all the transactions that
have been funded by the RBZ on behalf of the government? How were such
transactions approved? What was the role of the cabinet in approving such
transactions? How are the transactions monitored? How are they reflected in
the budget? What is the parliament’s role in approving and monitoring such
3. Do you agree that the role of the RBZ has the effect of undermining
the role of parliament?
4. You have justified your role in placing legitimate government
expenditures under the control of the RBZ on the basis that there is a
sanctions regime. If this is the case, do you believe that democracy should
be suspended until the sanctions are lifted? What should be the role of the
5. Allegations have been made that shelf companies like Flatwater,
Smoothnest, AMG Global Nominees, and others have been used by the RBZ as
fronts in various transactions that are patently illegal. Please provide
details of who approved such transactions? What, if any, was the role of the
6. We now know that about 102 tractors were to be procured by Flatwater
as an agent of the RBZ. To the extent that the tractors were to be owned by
the government, do you agree that the role of the RBZ by taking over the
role of the relevant government agency undermines the constitutional order?
Who approved the purchase of the tractors without coming to parliament for
resources to be allocated in the budget? What was the exchange rate implied
in the transactions? Is it true that Z$7 trillion was deposited into the
account of Flatwater without any due diligence about Flatwater’s financial
status? If it is true that the tractors were to be imported, can we say that
the RBZ knew that the Z$7 trillion was to be converted into foreign currency
at the black market rate? If not why did the RBZ not deposit the equivalent
at the official exchange rate into the account of Flatwater?
I am sure that there are many questions that will arise but what is
important is that the parliamentarians realise that the hopes of Zimbabweans
lie with them in exposing how the state is now operating and why change of
direction has to be the litmus test in the March 2008 elections.
Any outcome that will leave Gono in charge and his political masters
ultimately in control will contribute to the destruction of what remains
functioning in Zimbabwe. Yesterday it was Makamba, today it is Butau and
tomorrow it could be anyone of us.
The stakes are high and naturally it is fair to expect that the Budget and
Finance committee members will rise to the occasion. If Gono is exposed, it
is evident that his political masters will take note that the people of
Zimbabwe have finally taken ownership of their power.
* Mutumwa Mawere is a Zimbabwean-born South African businessman based in
Johannesburg, South Africa.
From The Cape Times (SA), 21 January
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe appeared until recently to be negotiating
in reasonably good faith with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) for a new political dispensation. He made some important concessions,
including the scrapping of the 30 appointed Members of Parliament and
reforms to the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which had given the
government undemocratic powers to control political activity and the media
respectively. Then he dug in his heels on other demands from the MDC that
are more crucial still - including a new constitution, to be implemented
before this year's elections, and a postponement of those elections beyond
March to allow all the reforms to take effect. President Thabo Mbeki, who
had been mandated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) last
March to mediate the political negotiations, had largely left the job to his
aides. But on Thursday he took personal charge and flew to Harare to meet
Mugabe and the MDC leaders to try to break the deadlock. Mbeki emerged from
a five-hour meeting with Mugabe and told reporters; "It's work in progress
and very good progress." But Mbeki was apparently obfuscating, referring to
past progress rather than the outstanding issues he had come to Harare to
try to resolve. Because he then apparently went to meet the MDC leaders and
told them Mugabe had agreed to none of their demands on the outstanding
issues. It appears Mbeki himself is sympathetic to the MDC demands. That
would make sense.
When he returned last March from the SADC meeting in Dar es Salaam where he
was given his mediation mission, Mbeki made it clear that his mandate was to
help the Zimbabweans agree on "what should be done between now and those
elections to create a climate that will be truly free and fair, for an
outcome that will not be contested by anybody …" This was in an interview
with Britain's Financial Times, which his office later referred to as the
"official position on Zimbabwe". For Zimbabwe to be able to hold an election
that meets Mbeki's test of universal acceptability, a new constitution is
necessary. It would include a proper bill of rights and an independent media
commission; would take the vital voter registration process out of the hands
of officials answerable only to Mugabe and generally diminish the
extraordinary executive powers he has given himself, which would allow him
to control and possibly manipulate the elections. Postponing the election is
also critical so that all the necessary reforms can take effect. The MDC has
been asking for the elections to take place in June. It will take much
longer than that even to restore politics to something like normality. But
those extra three months would at least make a difference. Mugabe's refusal
to budge presents the MDC once again with the dilemma; whether to contest
elections on an uneven pitch or boycott them. This weekend, the two MDC
factions were meeting to consider their options. They were also trying to
reach an electoral pact to ensure they do not stand against each other and
thereby hand the election to Mugabe on a platter, if they do decide to
contest. And, if Mbeki has indeed accepted that Mugabe is the cause of the
breakdown, what will he do?
In the same Financial Times interview, he said that if he judged that "this
particular player in Zimbabwe is obstructing the possibility of finding a
political settlement … we will go back to SADC to say we are not moving
because these ones are obstructing process". "And, of course, the region
must then take a decision what to do …" Will he do that? After being played
by Mugabe for so long, will he finally point an accusing finger at him? It's
hard to imagine, but what are his options?
By Chris Gande
21 January 2008
Residents of the Zimbabwean capital of Harare and Bulawayo, the country's
second city, woke up Monday to find the streets awash with pamphlets urging
them to vote for Vice President Joyce Mujuru as president in the next
elections. Mujuru declined to comment on the incident but a member of her
staff dismissed it as a prank.
President Robert Mugabe is seeking re-election as candidate of his ruling
ZANU-PF party - but relations between Mr. Mugabe and Mujuru are known to be
The colorful pamphlets featuring a picture of the vice president and her
liberation war credentials were especially abundant in Bulawayo. The
pamphlet said Mujuru will hold all government members accountable if she is
elected. Some Zimbabweans who picked up the pamphlets said they believed
they were genuine.
Home Affairs Secretary Sam Sipepa Nkomo of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change told reporter Chris Gande of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the wide distribution of the pamphlets suggested high-level
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
21 January 2008
Posted to the web 21 January 2008
Two pylons carrying electricity cables linking Mozambique and Zimbabwe near
Zimre Park collapsed last week after thieves stole their supporting wires,
causing a break in transmission from Hydro de Cahora Bassa in Mozambique.
The cables also connect Bindura substation to Dema substation and feed power
to most of Harare's heavy industrial areas. They carry power imports into
the country and to its neighbours -- Botswana and South Africa. The link
provides Zimbabwe with 200 megawatts, South Africa 100 megawatts and
Botswana 35 megawatts from HCB of Mozambique.
When the Herald visited the area on Thursday afternoon, Zesa employees were
busy reconstructing one of the pylons so as to restore power amid
revelations that work would soon be completed. Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard
Gwasira said that would mean the country would be starved of power imports
from Mozambique and this would lead to increased load shedding.
"Zesa is greatly disturbed by the level of vandalism of vital power
infrastructure in the country. "What was stolen is the stay wire that is
used to support the pylon upright leading to the collapse of these
structures. "Unfortunately, anyone who cut the supporting wires did not
recognise the magnitude of damage he was doing to the country and the region
as the cables also provide South Africa and Botswana with power. "The
recovery of the pylons is expected to be completed very soon. "The vandalism
to the pylons means loss of power to industry, mining and agriculture
resulting in huge losses to production time and revenue," Mr Gwasira said.
He said vandalism to national infrastructure was costing the power utility
billions of dollars. The power utility said it was prejudiced of more than
$1 trillion last year as a result of vandalism and theft. The thefts mainly
targeted transformer oil, electricity meters and load limiters. The Zesa
spokesperson could not give the total cost of recovering the two pylons
saying that would only be ascertained on completion. Mr Gwasira welcomed the
passage of the Electricity Amendment Act saying it would go a long way in
reducing cases of vandalism of substations and stealing copper cables.
"Zesa is happy with the passage of the Act but more needs to be done in
increasing fines and sentences so that they are deterrent enough to would-be
offenders. "We have also increased education programmes to inform people on
the effects of vandalism to the economy."
Zesa says it is spending a fortune replacing vandalised equipment across the
country, money that could be used to improve power transmission.
By Carole Gombakomba
21 January 2008
Members of Zimbabwe's parliament say they have not yet been provided with
copies of a critical redistricting report tabled there last week and have
had to line up to read the single copy which is available without being able
to make photocopies.
Opposition members of parliament said they have been told government
printers have been unable to make copies of the three-volume report of some
800 pages, though it has a major bearing on ballots the government insists
must be held in March.
The report explains the demarcation of 210 house districts - 60 of them
new - and 60 senate constituencies.
Experts said interested parties have seven days to examine the report before
the new constituency boundaries are made final through a presidential
proclamation. But the parliament is currently adjourned, making debate on
Zimbabwe Election Support Network Chairman Noel Kututwa told reporter Carole
Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that stakeholders have been
prevented from raising concerns about redistricting, which is “crucial” to
New Era (Windhoek)
21 January 2008
Posted to the web 21 January 2008
National power utility, NamPower, has dismissed claims that the US$40
million loan it advanced to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)
under the Power Purchase Agreement has been written off.
NamPower's response comes in light of recent media reports saying the power
utility has written off the multi-million-dollar loan it gave to Zimbabwe
Electricity and Transmission Company (Zetco)'s holding company, Zesa, for
the refurbishment of four units at the coal-powered Hwange Power Station.
NamPower's Managing Director, Paulinus Shilamba, on Friday explained: "At
the time of finalising the financial statements and in accordance with
prudent financial reporting, the auditors insisted to impair and not
write-off the loan amount that had been provided up to financial year-end as
no energy had been delivered yet."
The first 40 megawatts started flowing from Zimbabwe on January 3, as per
agreement signed during President Robert Mugabe's state visit in February
last year.According to Shilamba, "The loan conditions are legally
enforceable and binding. NamPower distances itself from the notion that the
loan has been written off."He added, "There is nothing sinister about this
general accounting practice even though it can cast doubt in the minds of
those doing the interpretation of the report within the framework of the
prevailing macro-economic situation in Zimbabwe."
Shilamba maintained that the redemption of the loan with energy is the only
option that was agreed upon and will remain as such for the remainder of the
loan period.Since the signing of the agreement last year, some sectors
expressed doubt in the venture and viewed it as politically motivated.
The NamPower MD reite-rated that the loan agreement between the two power
utilities is not politically motivated but rather a commercial deal. He
added that the deal is based on a long-standing relationship between the two
parties, both being members of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and
trading partners.With one unit already operational, Shilamba said, the
remaining three units at Hwange are expected to be commissioned in May, July
and September. The four units are capable of generating a total of 480
Once all the four units are commissioned, Namibia will receive 150 megawatts
for a minimum of five years as per agreement.Initial costs to expand and
renovate Hwange Power Station were underestimated and the two parties are
negotiating additional funding. An additional US$10 million to the initial
US$40 million loan agreement will mean that Namibia gets a further 30
megawatts to make a total of 180 megawatts.
"We are confident that Zesa will honour these commitments," Shilamba said.
He added that the deal between NamPower and Zesa is clear testimony that
inter-utility cooperation can have mutual benefits.The rehabilitation of the
Hwange Power Station would have major benefits for not only Namibia and
Zimbabwe, but also the rest of the Southern African region.Already, Namibia,
Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe met in Victoria Falls at the end of last year
to sign an agreement that will see the four utilities embarking on a project
to construct a power line that will connect the four countries to Hwange.
The project, named ZIZABONA, will see the construction of a transmission
link between Hwange and Katima Mulilo through Zambia and Botswana. Each
utility will be responsible for the financing of the portion of the line in
its territory.Further, Namibia is in the process of developing an
Intergovernmental Memorandum of Agreement with South Africa in order to
embark on the Orange River Mini-Hydro Power Plant project.
"Talks are ongoing with private developers, Eskom and energy ministries in
both countries," Shilamba said. Meanwhile, the power shortage situation in
the region remains critical. Different countries have initiated different
ways to generate and save power. In the case of Namibia, NamPower has among
other major projects made progress in the installation of a fourth unit at
the Ruacana Hydro Power Station. With costs estimated at N$350 million, the
fourth unit will bring the generation capacity of this hydro plant to 320
megawatts with each unit generating 80 megawatts.
Shilamba said NamPower will soon undertake detailed Environmental Impact
Assessment studies at Walvis Bay for the development of a 400 megawatts base
load coal power station.
Once completed, the power utility will avail information to the four
companies that have approached NamPower to undertake the project. That will
also include those short-listed by the Electricity Control Board (ECB).
From The Namibian, 21 January
A multi-million dollar loan to Zimbabwe's electricity utility nearly a year
ago, which was noted as "impaired" by auditors in NamPower's recent annual
report, was not written off, says NamPower Managing Director Paulinus
Shilamba. Zimbabwe would not repay the loan with money, but with electricity
supply from its Hwange power station in western Zimbabwe to Namibia,
Shilamba told a media briefing in Windhoek on Friday. "The Zimbabwean
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) will pay the loan back with electricity,
there is no money involved," Shilamba said. However, NamPower will still pay
for that electricity. "The redemption of the loan with energy is the only
option that we agreed upon," Shilamba said. This detail was however not
conveyed to the media at the loan signing ceremony at State House in 2007,
or in the joint communiqué issued afterwards. He also revealed on Friday
that NamPower had concluded a second agreement with Zesa last year, under
which NamPower would buy the electricity generated at the Hwange power
station "as loan repayment". The US$40 million loan (about N$270 million),
which came from NamPower's cash reserves of N$2 billion, was granted during
a state visit by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to Namibia in February
2007 and sparked a lot of debate and criticism. Mozambique last week stopped
its power supply to Zimbabwe because it failed to pay arrears running into
millions of US dollars. South Africa also stopped exporting electricity to
Zimbabwe recently, but said it was because of a severe power shortage at
Hwange has four turbines, which will be overhauled with the N$270 million
loan. The first one was refurbished at the end of last year and started
generating 40 megawatts (MW) of electricity on January 3 this year. Once all
four turbines at Hwange on the Zambezi River are overhauled by September
2008, it should generate 330 MW of electricity and Namibia will receive 150
MW of that for five years "at a competitive price". As the N$3 billion
interconnector power line to connect the Caprivi Region to the rest of
Namibia's power grid and also to Zambia and Zimbabwe will only be completed
in 2009, the electricity now coming from Hwange must flow through Botswana
and South Africa to Namibia until then. NamPower will also therefore pay for
the transmission of the electricity coming from Hwange, "at a tariff",
Shilamba said. The long distance the electricity has to travel comes with
what experts call a transmission loss, meaning that not all of it will reach
the other end. Asked what the transmission loss from Hwange would be, Reiner
Jagau, General Manager for power system development at NamPower, said it was
"higher than 10 per cent". On the issue of the loan impairment, which is
done when it is probable that the creditor will be unable to collect all the
money due according to the contractual terms of the loan agreement, the
NamPower MD said this was not the same as writing off a loan. "NamPower's
financial year ended June 30 2007 and by then there was no electricity
coming from Hwange in Zimbabwe yet as repayment. Our auditors insisted as a
result that the US$40 million loan should be recorded as impaired," Shilamba
According to NamPower's annual report, which was published earlier this
month, its profits decreased by 18 per cent and stood at N$119,3 million at
June 30 2007 compared to N$146,3 million the year before, despite a 17 per
cent increase in electricity sales, which amounted to N$1,1 billion.
"Included in the cost is the impairment of the loan that was made to the
Zimbabwe Electricity and Transmission Company (Zetco) for the refurbishment
of the Hwange coal-fired power station," the annual report stated. "The
impairment was occasioned by the volatile economic and political climate
experienced in Zimbabwe. The amount advanced as at (financial) year end was
N$27 million (of the total loan)," according to the report.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
21 January 2008
Posted to the web 21 January 2008
Most rural bus operators have grounded their fleet owing to shortages of
diesel, resulting in some travellers spending nights on buses.
The operators get diesel allocations from the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe, which they sell at $75 000 a litre while on the black market it is
being sold for much more than that. On Saturday the three main fuel stations
servicing rural transport operators in Sunningdale, Houghton Park and
Waterfalls did not have the commodity. Sources said the Sunningdale station
had gone for two weeks without the commodity.
"Some bus operators are buying the fuel from the black market and then
asking passengers to top up," said one vendor who was selling his wares at
the station. He said a trip to Buhera was being charged $20 million up from
the usual $5 million. At the Houghton Park service station an attendant said
they last received deliveries on Tuesday to enable school children to travel
back to schools. "On Tuesday we received 40 000 litres which lasted us for
two days and we are expecting some more deliveries on Tuesday," he said.
He said after the festive holiday, supplies deteriorated compared to when
the rural bus fuel facility was introduced in August last year. The
attendant confirmed that some bus operators were asking passengers to top
up. "Yes, they enter into an agreement with passengers to top up
particularly those who would be rushing to attend funerals or other
activities and have no choice but to travel," he said.
At one of the designated service stations in Waterfalls one attendant said
they received 13 500 litres of fuel last Thursday while on Friday they
received an additional 7 890 litres. "On Friday we worked until late to
ensure that all buses had cleared as they had to ferry children back to
schools," he said.
A mechanic at one of the bus operator's garages revealed that passengers had
spent two days in buses destined for Chiredzi and Mhondoro which were
waiting to get fuel.
By Lance Guma
21 January 2008
Former finance minister Simba Makoni is thought to have resigned his
position within the ruling Zanu PF party. The former head of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) is a member of the influential
Politburo in the party. Press reports, which are mostly speculative, suggest
his resignation is a pre-curser to the formation of a new political party.
The theory is that this new party will draw support from disgruntled Zanu PF
members who are eager to see Mugabe step down.
Former army general Solomon Mujuru is said to be backing the new party with
suggestions that several Zanu PF provincial structures are also rooting for
Makoni. Other reports suggest Makoni is unhappy at being barred from
contesting for a parliamentary seat in his home area of Manicaland and
offered to resign in protest. Mugabe is said to have refused to accept the
resignation, pledging to discuss Makoni’s grievances at a politburo meeting
Makoni has refused to speak to the media so far, sparking allegations he is
trying to ‘make wine from the political grapevine’ and test his popularity
before making any final decisions. The private media has been awash with
speculation over his next move. For ordinary citizens the debates have been
mixed. Some hold the view that he is a Zanu PF decoy being used to split the
opposition vote in the coming elections, while others say he could help
dilute Mugabe’s stranglehold within Zanu PF by taking key allies with him
into any new party.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Taffy Nyawanza
Last updated: 01/21/2008 06:27:23
ON DECEMBER 5, 2007, the UK Court of Appeal passed down an important and
generous decision that may give rise to viable fresh claims, apart from
assisting with live claims. The decision is the case of SC (Zimbabwe) v
Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1278.
In this case, the appellant, known as SC, approached the Court of Appeal
after an unsuccessful re-consideration appeal.
Some of the pertinent facts about the appellant were that she had arrived in
the UK as a visitor initially, then switched to a student visa until 2002,
after which her visa ran out and she overstayed for two years before
claiming asylum. She was also HIV+ and it had been accepted that without
medication, her life expectancy would be 6 months. More importantly for the
hearing, she had been a teacher in Zimbabwe.
In the first appeal, the Tribunal had accepted that the appellant was a
teacher and concluded that she would therefore be at risk. The Tribunal
reached this decision because it accepted that “the background material
indicates clearly that teachers are readily identified as members of the MDC
and are frequently mistreated as such.” This was in-spite of the fact that
the appellant was herself not a member of the MDC.
The Home office appealed this generous finding. On re-consideration, the
Tribunal found for the Home Office and said that the first Tribunal had made
an error in law because it had reached its conclusion on the premise that it
is unsafe to return any teacher to Zimbabwe.
SC approached the Court of Appeal which differed with the Re-consideration
Tribunal and stated that it was clear that the appeal had been allowed by
the first judge, not because SC was a teacher, but because she might be
perceived to be an MDC supporter because she was a teacher.
The Court of Appeal also accepted that the background material clearly
indicates that teachers are readily identified as members of the MDC and are
frequently mistreated as such.
The Court of Appeal made a specific finding that SC would probably be
identified as a teacher from the endorsement in her passport and once the
authorities at the airport in Harare identified her as a teacher, it would
be obvious or readily ascertainable that she was not a Zanu PF-supporting
What are the implications of this decision?
SC is not a country guidance case and does not purport to supersede the case
of SM  UK IAT 100, which is the operative Country Guidance case which
identifies the risk categories as confirmed and expanded in the latest
Country Guidance case of HS.
However, SC is a decision of the Court of Appeal and therefore has the
authority and impact of a higher court decision.
It is important to read the case as being specific to the peculiar facts of
the appellant that came before the Court of Appeal but with wider applicable
findings emerging from it.
The main finding in SC is that where a returnee might be recognised as
being, or having been a teacher in Zimbabwe, then there would necessarily be
a perception that they are an MDC supporter. Indeed, although this is a much
more generous finding, it is not an entirely revolutionary finding because
of what SM says about teachers, i.e that there does continue to be a risk
for teachers with an actual or perceived political profile of support for
Taken together, therefore, it seems to me that this case might be useful
particularly where a documented returnee might have a passport with an
endorsement that they are teachers.
It is important to note that in the SM case, there is confirmation of the
two-stage interrogation process for all involuntary returnees carried out by
the CIO at Harare airport. It could, therefore, be argued that even an
undocumented returnee whose past as a teacher would not be immediately
apparent could be at risk because of this interrogation process which might
conceivably reveal a teaching past.
Indeed in SM, the Tribunal specifically stated that returnees from the UK to
Zimbabwe are regarded with contempt and suspicion on return and do face a
very hostile atmosphere and that whilst all returnees may not be at real
risk of persecution, they are liable to have their background and
circumstances carefully scrutinised by the authorities.
At its highest, the SC case therefore seems to suggest that it is sufficient
to be demonstratably a teacher in order to establish risk on return, which
seems to be wider than what was contemplated by the SM case. At the very
least, SC is very useful arsenal in related claims.
Taffy Nyawanza works for Bake & Co Solicitors of Birmingham. He can be
contacted on email@example.com, ph. 0121 616 5025 or visit Bake & Co
Solicitors’ website at www.bakesolicitors.co.uk.
Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on
immigration law. It is not intended to replace the advice or services of a
solicitor. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome
different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any
liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this