[ This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 25 Jan 2005
(IRIN) - Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), said his party has yet to decide whether to participate in
Zimbabwe's legislative elections, scheduled for March, as conditions in the
country are not conducive to a free and fair poll.
addressing delegates at a conference on opposition parties and democracy in
Africa at the South African Institute of International Affairs in
Johannesburg on Tuesday. Given the number of reforms needed to ensure a free
and fair election, he said, the parliamentary poll should be postponed to
The MDC was "damned if we do, and damned if we don't" participate
in the March election. If the MDC participated in a ballot under the current
conditions, it would be tantamount to "legitimising fraud"; if they chose
not to participate, "you [could] become irrelevant", Tsvangirai
The MDC leader outlined key impediments to the MDC
participating in the poll: chief among them was the lack of democratic space
for his party to campaign, and ongoing intimidation and politically
motivated violence. Both previous legislative and presidential elections had
been marred by "state-sponsored violence", and this would need to cease if
the upcoming ballot were to be declared free and fair.
lost confidence in the electoral process; they have experienced too many
fraudulent elections, in which their vote has been meaningless. This has to
change - the current electoral and political environment precludes a free
and fair election," Tsvangirai alleged.
Curbs on holding public meetings
were also affecting his party's ability to contest elections. "If we have a
meeting with three or more people ... we have to ask permission from the
police". Under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), political parties
have to obtain clearance from the police to hold a gathering.
opposition party also had no access to state media and was therefore
severely constrained in its ability to campaign effectively. However, the
government has contended that because the opposition has not confirmed its
participation in the ballot, it does not qualify for airtime.
delivering his speech, Tsvangirai told the media he had been encouraged by
recent comments by South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC)
that the MDC should be allowed to hold public meetings without having to
apply for permission from the police.
"Any support ... is appreciated,
but I don't know whether it will have any impact in the next two months
[before the scheduled elections]. The government is going full throttle,
regardless of comments from outside [the country]," Tsvangirai
Both the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the
African Union (AU) had a role to play in ensuring that member states adhered
to principles and guidelines governing elections.
"Given the public
policy and public position of SADC and the AU on freedom, liberty, equity,
economic management, governance and democracy, one would have thought the
two bodies could put together mechanisms for correction and sanction, should
a member state deliberately sabotage these noble ideals," Tsvangirai
"A new spirit has taken root in the SADC region, to deal with
the question of elections. The [election] guidelines adopted in Mauritius
last year [by SADC countries] give us a lot of hope and encouragement: they
are not just SADC guidelines; they are universal
Zimbabwe, however, remained out of step with the thinking
of the rest of the region, he alleged.
"The reforms that the
government has made to the electoral laws, while a step in the right
direction, are nowhere near sufficient. Significant reform measures are
needed if the government is to comply with the new SADC benchmarks on
democratic elections. From the MDC's perspective, the government needs to
carry out the following, if credible elections are to take place: the
disbanding of the youth militias and their complete removal from all
constituencies; the repeal or amendment of all legislative provisions that
infringe upon basic civil and political liberties; a comprehensive
independent audit of the voters' roll, and for those who have been unable to
register, to be able to do so; and access to the state media [for the
opposition]," Tsvangirai explained.
It would take six months for these
reforms to "have a meaningful impact on the electoral and political
environment". The MDC was therefore advocating that the earliest that
elections could take place would be the end of June 2005. "We want to
participate, but we don't want to commit [political] suicide. Now the
environment is very hostile, and they [government] are nowhere near [full]
compliance with SADC guidelines," he noted.
The MDC was involved in
ongoing consultations over whether or not it would contest the parliamentary
elections, Tsvangirai said, and a decision would be made during executive
and council meetings to be held from 2 to 3 February.
imperative that we get this election right; that all stakeholders are
comfortable with the conditions and processes under which the election is
held," he stressed. "Another disputed election would be bad news for
Zimbabwe, and bad news for the region."
ANC, alliance partners to develop common Zimbabwe position
[ This report
does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
JOHANNESBURG, 25 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - South Africa's ruling
African National Congress (ANC) party and its alliance partners are to
formulate a common position on Zimbabwe, officials told IRIN. The move could
indicate a shift in the ANC's stance on Zimbabwe.
partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South
African Communist Party (SACP), have been openly critical of the ZANU-PF
The ANC also approved COSATU's plans to resume its
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe. "We were never against it, but have always
maintained that COSATU should respect the Zimbabwean government's
sovereignty", the ANC's head of presidency, Smuts Ngonyama, told IRIN. The
second fact-finding mission is expected to leave for Zimbabwe early next
The ruling alliance secretariat meets on Thursday, when it will
also draw up a response to Zimbabwean labour minister, Paul Mangwana, who
said last week that COSATU should not seek to return to the country, COSATU
spokesman Paul Notyawa told IRIN.
Mangwana reportedly remarked to The
Financial Gazette, a weekly newspaper, that Zimbabwe was not a province of
South Africa, and COSATU should stay on its side of the
COSATU's first visit to Zimbabwe, when its delegates were
expelled, sparked a heated public exchange between the labour federation and
the ANC last year. President Thabo Mbeki criticised COSATU for allegedly
showing contempt for a sovereign government and head of state, which "could
not have created a climate conducive to serious discussions".
member of the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) explained that the
shift in the last two weeks had come about as a result of several factors,
including the abrasive response by his party leadership to COSATU's first
visit, which "did not go down well with our members".
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has been
seen by the ANC as being too pro-western, as well as having ties to the
predominantly white South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance,
had developed a more pro-African "nuanced approach", the official explained.
The MDC has also attempted to improve its relationship with the ANC, which
The ANC's willingness to review its stance on Zimbabwe has
also come out of concern that growing tensions with COSATU could lead to a
split, with the labour movement forming a new rival party, a senior party
Zimbabwe was the subject of "extensive discussion" at an NEC
meeting last week. At a press briefing afterwards, ANC secretary-general
Kgalema Motlanthe, a former trade unionist, expressed concern over the MDC's
lack of political freedom in Zimbabwe, ahead of the general elections in
March. He reportedly said, "Over the years we have been saying to them
[ZANU-PF] that you cannot have a properly registered party restricted in
this way. Indeed, the playing field should be levelled, and the police
should act in an impartial manner."
This is the first time the ANC
has admitted that it had been attempting to apply pressure on ZANU-PF to
adhere to the Southern African Development Community's guidelines on
"There is growing impatience within certain sections of
the ANC with the ZANU-PF's unwillingness to reform. The debate now within
the ANC, on drawing a position on Zimbabwe, is whether we should, in the
light of the fact that the electoral reforms introduced by the Mugabe regime
are too late - just a few months ahead of the elections - declare the
electoral exercise illegitimate, or pronounce it as a partial opening
towards democratisation," a senior NEC member told IRIN.
however, maintained that there had been no change in the stance on Zimbabwe,
but underlined the need for "developing a common understanding with our
alliance partners on the issues in Zimbabwe. We have always said that all
parties [in Zimbabwe] should be allowed to function in a free
Zimbabwean hospitals paralysed by brain drain January 25
2005 at 01:15PM
Harare - Until 2003, strikes by doctors and nurses
at Zimbabwe's government hospitals were almost an annual tradition, but now
many have simply emigrated, paralysing the health sector.
medical brain drain has reached such critical levels in Zimbabwe that bodies
are piling up for months in morgues because there are no pathologists to
A report presented last month at the ruling
Zanu-PF party congress show-ed that only about nine percent of pharmacists
required in hospitals are currently at work, along with less than half of
"We feel that the staffing level is less than or equal
to 50 percent," said Billy Rigava, president of the Zimbabwe Medical
Zimbabwe's health sector has in recent years
witnessed an exodus of workers - driven out mainly by poor working
conditions and low salaries.
Many have sought greener pastures in
neighbouring countries and further afield, or simply started private
practice. At least 1 530 doctors are needed, but only 687 were working at
state institutions in 2003, against 6 940 nurses out of a required 11 640,
according to a health ministry report.
"Most of the nurses have
gone elsewhere," said Rigava, adding that once 15 doctors embarked on a
strike and later left the country simultaneously.
destinations for Zimbabwe's migrating health professionals are Britain,
Australia, Canada, South Africa and Namibia.
The government has
tried to bridge the gap by hiring doctors from Cuba and the Democratic
Republic of Congo, but many argue that it would be cheaper to pay locals a
bit more instead of hiring expatriates.
Parliament last month
passed a law which is expected to help stem the brain drain by improving the
salaries and working conditions of those in healthcare.
hospital that is supposed to be staffed by about five doctors normally has
only one, which "gives an element of burn-out", Rigava said.
visit to the casualty and emergency departments of one of the country's
largest hospitals in the capital, Parirenyatwa, showed that many patients
have to endure long hours of waiting to be seen by overworked doctors and
nurses. - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe harvest unlikely to improve over 2004 -
REUTERS 6:14 a.m. January 25, 2005 ROME -
Zimbabwe's 2005 harvest is unlikely to improve over 2004 which was believed
to have come in well below government estimates and far short of what the
population needs to feed itself, a U.N. food aid official said on
Tuesday. Zimbabwe stopped large-scale food aid last year, saying it had
reaped a bumper harvest in 2004, a statement many aid agencies doubt is
true. The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said things were unlikely to
improve much this year. "There is still a steady erosion of the ability
to plant," said U.N. WFP spokesman Mike Huggins. The knock-on effect of
previous poor harvests would mean a shortage of seeds, as most grain will
have been eaten, and a lack of income from surplus crops meant few farmers
would be able to buy fertiliser, Huggins said. "This year (the harvest) will
probably reflect the same level (as 2004)," he said, despite improved rains
which are likely to improve harvests in southern Africa. Harare's
estimate of a 2004 crop of 2.4 million tons of the staple maize is seen by
aid groups as an unfeasibly large increase on 2003's 800,000 million
tons. Although WFP does not have the access it needs to Zimbabwe to make
a formal estimate, its officials reckon the 2004 crop was almost certainly
no more than 1 million tons, far short of the 1.8 million tons the
population needs to feed itself. Opponents of President Robert Mugabe's
government say he refused food aid as accepting it reflected badly on his
land reform policies of transferring white-owned land to black farmers, much
criticised by former colonial power Britain. Amnesty International has
accused the government of selectively distributing food aid, withholding it
from political opponents. WFP said it was still feeding around 1 million
Zimbabweans on relatively small-scale schemes to direct food to vulnerable
groups like school children, the elderly and HIV/AIDS sufferers. Before May
last year it was feeding up to 5.5 million people.
Mugabe has lost control of party - opposition By Alistair
Thomson and Paul Holmes
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Unprecedented
infighting in Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF shows President Robert Mugabe has
lost control of his party ahead of elections due in March, the main
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says.
"Mugabe now is a leader of a
faction, not the leader of the party of the country, and that undermines his
legitimacy," the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader said on
More than a dozen top party officials have been purged amid
jostling to succeed Mugabe, 80, upon his retirement in 2008. The party has
also been racked by squabbles over the imposition of some election
candidates and the exclusion of others.
The rare infighting in
ZANU-PF, which under Mugabe fought for Zimbabwe's struggle for independence
in 1980 and has ruled ever since, could benefit the MDC if it decides to
contest the election, Tsvangirai told Reuters in an interview in
neighbouring South Africa.
But, the MDC leader said his party still
wanted the election delayed to allow better preparation, and would decide
only next month whether to contest the parliamentary polls, which they have
threatened to boycott.
"The problem confronting us is: damned if you do,
damned if you don't," Tsvangirai said. "It takes two to tango. You can't
have a one-party election, neither can you have an election in which you
legitimise a farce."
"As Napoleon said, don't help your enemy when he's
down -- obviously it's an opportunity for the MDC," he
Tsvangirai repeated his call for polls to be postponed to meet
Southern African Development Community (SADC) standards.
expect 100 percent compliance on SADC principles but we expect the minimum
to be applied," he said.
The MDC leadership would decide on February 2 or
3 whether to contest the poll. The MDC accuses Mugabe of rigging elections
in 2000 and 2002 and says the government must allow them freedom of assembly
and access to the media and voter lists.
Mugabe rejects charges of
electoral fraud and dismisses Tsvangirai as a puppet of Western opponents,
above all Britain.
The former trade union
leader, 52, said that even after the creation of an electoral commission
last week, Zimbabwe was far from meeting SADC standards, and the poll should
"It's a logistical nightmare that they have to face. It's
almost an impossibility. And so if they are to go ahead, they would have to
use discredited institutions -- the very same institutions that have
committed the fraud over the years."
Tsvangirai conceded that his
treason trial for an alleged plot to kill Mugabe had caused despondency
within MDC ranks.
But he said his acquittal last October had revived
morale and he expected a second case of treason against him, linked to
street protests in 2003, to collapse.
Zimbabwe's once-vibrant economy
has largely failed since 2000, when Mugabe began advocating the sometimes
violent seizure of white-owned farms. Inflation has soared to three digits
and food and foreign currency are often scarce.
Many in neighbouring
South Africa have watched aghast as economic migrants have come over the
border, although President Thabo Mbeki has steered away from open
confrontation with Mugabe -- revered by many across southern Africa as a
giant of the struggle against white rule.
Tsvangirai said he sensed
growing frustration within Mbeki's ruling African National Congress (ANC) at
Mugabe's failure to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
Last week, the ANC's
secretary-general voiced concern over restrictions imposed on the MDC,
saying the election must be fair and police impartial.
"They have tried
quiet diplomacy for a very long time, tried to (encourage) ZANU-PF to move
towards democracy and human rights observation, but they have realised that
Mugabe has remained defiant both to national and international opinion,"
January 24, 2005 Posted to the web
January 25, 2005
Preparations underway for
parliamentary poll amid seemingly widespread voter scepticism and
Though a precise date for Zimbabwe's March 2005 parliamentary
election has yet to be announced by the ruling ZANU PF party, electioneering
has nevertheless begun in earnest as prospective candidates of the main
political parties fight it out in primary elections
The two major
contestants will be ZANU PF, (Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic
Front) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC. Several
smaller parties will also contest the election, but following major internal
fights at the ZANU PF primaries there will also be an unexpectedly high
number of independent candidates.
There has been some speculation that
the election might be postponed since many candidates say they need more
than two months to prepare their campaigns. But analysts say a postponement
is highly unlikely: they say the delay in announcing a date is a tactic to
minimise political violence that has marred previous elections.
registrar general says there are 5,658,637 registered voters in a population
of 11.5 million. [Three million Zimbabwean citizens have either fled or
emigrated into exile, mainly in South Africa and the United Kingdom, as a
result of economic collapse and political repression. The government has
denied them the right to vote, which will inflict enormous damage on
The right to inspect voters' rolls began on
January 17 and ends on January 30, but opposition parties have complained
that near-insuperable obstacles have been raised.
Electoral Commission Bill, establishing a commission to run all elections
and referendums, was passed by the national assembly in December. The
commission is nominally independent, but is in fact wholly answerable to the
president because he appoints all six of its members.
With the election
less than two months away, the commission has yet to secure offices or
appoint support staff.
Rashweat Mukundu, acting director of the Zimbabwe
branch of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, an organisation promoting
freedom and independence of the media, said the majority of urban voters are
sceptical that the election will bring any immediate change.
has set in because the voters don't see anything changing," he told IWPR.
"The ruling party has not changed the electoral playing field and as of now
there is no evidence there will be fair play."
University of Zimbabwe
lecturer Dr Heneri Dzinotyiweyi, chairman of the Zimbabwe Integrated
Programme, an independent development organisation, concurred. "The apathy
that has set in will play in favour of the ruling party," he said. "Nothing
has changed in the rural areas, so ZANU PF is likely to maintain its
stranglehold on that constituency. Urban voters, most of whom continue to
support the opposition, see nothing changing."
The passage last November
of the repressive Zimbabwe NGO Bill, which criminalises leaders of local
non-government organisations, foundations and charities if they accept
foreign funding for work on human rights and transparent governance, has
further restricted the scope for democratic activity.
that state machinery controlled by ZANU PF will be the sole agent of voter
education. It cannot be expected to be impartial," said a senior official of
the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network, ZESN, a coalition of NGOs formed to
promote democracy and good governance.
The government has been busily
telling people through the state media, in advance of the election, that an
economic turnaround has begun after years of decline. "Some people might be
fooled by this government propaganda," a banker, who requested anonymity,
told IWPR. "But the business sector is aware that there is no such
turnaround. Zimbabwe's is an agricultural-based economy and, on its own
admission, the ruling party has said only a third of arable land is under
crops: so how can anyone talk of a turnaround?"
Under a unity accord signed in 1987, ZANU PF was formed from the
merger of the two liberation movements that had fought the war for
independence against white minority rule in the 1970s.
parties were ZANU (the Zimbabwe African National Union) and ZAPU (the
Zimbabwe African People's Union). ZANU was mainly supported by the majority
Shona tribal group from northern and eastern Zimbabwe. ZAPU was primarily
backed by members of the minority Ndebele tribe of western
Both liberation movements operated mainly in rural areas,
which explains why to this day the ZANU PF combined party has its main
support base in rural areas. ZANU PF is also dominated at the top by
One of the clauses of the 1987 unity accord required the merged
party to legislate for a one-party Marxist-Leninist state. But in the 1990s
an increasingly confident civil society began to clamour for a new
constitution that would help loosen ZANU PF's hold on de facto absolute
power. This was happening at a time when democratic movements undermined and
toppled dictatorships in neighbouring Malawi and Zambia.
As the call
for a new constitution gained momentum towards the end of the 1990s, ZANU PF
succumbed to the growing demand for greater democratic freedoms and
established a constitutional commission to write a new constitution.
Although commission members consulted widely around the country, it became
clear that the wishes of the people for real reform were not going to be
respected. Critics said the resultant draft constitution was constructed in
such a way that it would entrench the ruling party further in
It was put to a referendum in February 2000 and was rejected
by the electorate. That triggered a major crisis, which has now gone on for
five years. It was the first time since independence in 1980 that ZANU PF
and its leader, President Robert Mugabe, had been defeated in a national
poll. Mugabe, angry and troubled by the people's rebuff, reacted swiftly to
the defeat. In a populist move, he ordered veterans of the 1970s war to
begin invading commercial farms, the backbone of the economy, to punish
white farmers who had publicly campaigned for the rejection of the draft
constitution. Several white farmers were murdered during the farm
Many tens of thousands of landless peasants were resettled on
the farms, but they in turn were driven off by army and police forces so
that in the end the main beneficiaries of the land reform programme were top
ruling party officials, including relatives of the president. The result was
a near-total collapse in agricultural production and only now is the
government beginning to try to rationalise the chaos and anarchy of the
The parliamentary election of 2000 reflected the declining
popularity of ZANU PF, which won only a narrow majority - 62 of the
contested seats, with 57 going to the newly emerging opposition party, the
MDC, and one to an independent. However, the existing constitution permitted
the president to nominate an additional 30 MPs. All 30 nominated by Mugabe
were ZANU PF supporters, giving the ruling party 93 seats in the new
national assembly. Since then ZANU PF has gained another four seats at
by-elections following the deaths of opposition MPs, so that the ruling
party now has the support of 97 MPs in the 150-member
Following the 2000 election, Zimbabwe, under ZANU PF, has
acquired pariah status in the international community. Many western
organisations that observed the 2000 election, such as Transparency
International and the European Union, declared that the election had been
rigged and the opposition intimidated with state violence. The Commonwealth,
grouping member countries of the former British Empire, also condemned the
poll, which resulted in Mugabe pulling Zimbabwe out of the
There has been a lot of infighting in the ruling party
recently, as factions position themselves for a possible retirement of
81-year-old Mugabe. Six provincial party chairmen and a minister were
suspended from the party in December after refusing to accept the
president's choice of a woman as his new vice president. At the party's
fourth congress, held later that month, Joyce Mujuru became Zimbabwe's first
female deputy leader, seen as a strategy by Mugabe both to lure the female
vote in the March election and to crush over-ambitious plotters for the
THE MAIN OPPOSITION
The MDC was launched on September
11, 1999 as Zimbabwe's once vibrant economy went into steep decline and
inflation took off. At birth it was mainly labour-based, having been formed
by the powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, ZCTU. Morgan Tsvangirai,
the president of the MDC, was the ZCTU secretary-general while his deputy in
the party was Gibson Sibanda, the ZCTU president.
organisations also played an important part in the formation of the MDC. The
National Constitutional Assembly, which led the campaign for a new
democratic constitution, was the most important of these: its
secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, became the MDC's secretary-general. The
MDC also had considerable support among the urban unemployed and low-wage
black workers, as well as wealthy white commercial farmers and
The MDC surprised the nation, and greatly shocked
Mugabe, when it successfully campaigned for the rejection of a flawed draft
constitution promoted by the ruling ZANU PF party in a February 2000
referendum. In the general election that followed in April of the same year,
the MDC won 57 of the 120 contested national assembly seats - by far the
best opposition showing in the country's history. It automatically became
the official opposition, barely a year after its
Tsvangirai failed to win a seat. His deputy, Sibanda, did and
became leader of the parliamentary opposition. Tsvangirai narrowly lost a
presidential election two years later to the incumbent Mugabe, a poll that
was again accompanied by violence and criticised as having been widely
The MDC has lost four by-elections over the past five years and
its leader was brought before the courts to answer two treason changes
carrying possible death penalties. In the first, Tsvangirai, who was a plant
foreman in a nickel mine for ten years before he began to climb the trade
union ladder, was alleged to have hired a Canadian company to assassinate
Mugabe. In the second, it was alleged that he had called for the violent
overthrow of Mugabe. He has since been acquitted of the first charge and the
second will be heard in the courts soon.
The MDC has still to decide
whether it will contest the election, arguing that the electoral laws are
unfairly skewed in favour of the ruling party. It also alleges
ZANU PF has not complied with guidelines on holding free and fair
elections agreed by heads of state of the Southern African Development
Community at a summit in Mauritius last year.
The MDC has strong
support in urban centres where labour forms the bulk of its membership. It
has failed to penetrate effectively rural areas in Mashonaland where much of
the 1970s liberation war was fought. But in Matabeleland, where as many as
20,000 people were slaughtered in a crackdown by the army's North
Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, the MDC has extensive support in both the
towns and countryside.
The MDC recently went on a diplomatic offensive in
African and European countries. It said the purpose of the visits was to
persuade the countries to put pressure on Mugabe to implement reforms that
would level the electoral playing field. The MDC, in turn, found most
countries applying pressure on the party to contest the March poll
regardless of the obstacles raised by the government.
PRESS RELEASE January 21, 2005 Posted to
the web January 25, 2005
Anthony Borden London
parliamentary elections mark a critical moment in Southern Africa's
political crisis, and with this publication the Institute for War &
Peace Reporting launches intensive special coverage of the Zimbabwe election
campaign and the vote.
The ruling ZANU PF is angling to win the
two-thirds majority necessary to give it a free hand in amending the
constitution - to suit the personal designs and desires of President Robert
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.
with a sheaf of fresh legislation that enables the government to crack down
on civil society and independent media, together with continuing
restrictions placed on political opposition, such a result would be
particularly disappointing to those who have placed hopes in some kind of
"African solution". The African Union, the Southern Africa Development
Community, the New Partnership for Africa's Development and key regional
players such as Nigeria and (albeit far too softly) South Africa have each
expended diplomatic energy in prodding Zimbabwe towards a more inclusive
All of these institutions have identified the March
elections as a key test. If the vote is deemed a failure, that failure will
be broad. As the International Crisis Group has predicted, "The best
prospect in sight is a C-minus election that is fairly clean on the day but
deeply flawed by months of non-democratic practices."
political scene may be more dynamic than is often understood within the
region, and internationally. Mugabe is ageing, and cohesion within the
ruling party is increasingly strained by political jockeying for
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has faced a true
dilemma - whether to legitimise a questionable process through participation
or to boycott the poll and lose any parliamentary role. For the moment, MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai is not in jail. He and his followers still have to
decide whether or not to boycott what they believe will be a deeply flawed
election. Whatever the MDC's decision and whatever any possible
predetermined official results, the situation will remain highly volatile
and events on the ground are likely to drive the formation of new
grass-roots political constellations with long term
Regional actors may not have made a decisive difference,
but they have engaged and promulgated protocols, statements and reports
against which Harare will be judged. Critically, South African civil
society, and especially the trades union movement, is increasingly active,
which could raise pressure on President Thabo Mbeki to play a more positive
This is the context of IWPR's special Zimbabwe reporting project.
IWPR is an international not-for-profit training and media development
organisation. Winner of numerous awards for development and human rights
reporting in conflict and crisis areas from the Balkans to Iraq, it has
extensive history in frontline reporting.
Edited in Johannesburg by
Fred Bridgland, a distinguished foreign correspondent and author who has
reported on Africa for 25 years, the project will gather a network of
correspondents from throughout Zimbabwe. Distinguished contributors,
including Michael Holman, former Financial Times Africa editor, and
Gugulethu Moyo, a former Zimbabwe human rights lawyer now working for the
International Bar Association, will provide essential commentaries. Daily
photographs will also be produced on the website.
With the local
independent press clamped down, and the international press shut out, IWPR
reporting will provide a unique window on a troubled country at a critical
IWPR's Zimbabwe elections reporting is available via email
subscription and online.
IWPR is widely known for providing an
international platform for local voices. But in the Zimbabwean
circumstances, dissemination within the region is the priority, and IWPR
reports are available to African media for republication. For information,
contact the editor.
This project is the first initiative of the newly
incorporated South African not-for-profit organisation IWPR Africa, under
the chairmanship of Mail and Guardian proprietor Trevor Ncube. The central
aim of the effort is to contribute to increased awareness of the situation
within Zimbabwe among the broader African regional audience. It seeks to
highlight unheard Zimbabwean voices, and thus truly contribute to an African
Anthony Borden is executive director of the Institute for War
& Peace Reporting.
PRESIDENT TSVANGIRAI'S TUESDAY MESSAGE TO THE
PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE
In the eyes of the ordinary Zimbabwean, the
sincerity of SADC towards conflict management and conflict resolution comes
under spotlight in the next few weeks. The people have pinned their hopes on
the regional block to intervene and ensure that the SADC pledge on the
conduct of elections is honoured.
In Mauritius, Zimbabweans
and SADC came up with an exit strategy to avert the possibility of disputed
elections in our region. Africans are skeptical of African institutions
because of their historical failures in resolving African conflicts. SADC
can help to clear these perceptions through a timely intervention in the
Unless African leaders seize the window of
opportunity presented by the forthcoming election to allow Zimbabwe to start
afresh, SADC risks being seen, at least by Zimbabweans, as one of the
ineffective African organizations, whose indecision could easily contribute
to instability and to an open conflict.
The help Zimbabweans
seek is very basic. They would like SADC to help douse the flames by
insisting on the observance of universal electoral standards and avert
another dispute, which unfortunately, shall drag the entire region into
disrepute. If left unresolved for another five years, Zimbabwe's crisis will
have devastating effect on SADC. Clearly, the regional governments have a
critical role to play in averting a total social breakdown.
are ready to co-operate with our SADC neighbours. They have worked hard to
understand our concerns, our vision and our aspirations.
public confidence test has serious ramifications on the region's intended
links with other trading blocks and on renewed efforts to get the attention
of international development partners. A repeat of what happened during the
past five years will be a sad indictment on the spirit of Mauritius in
particular, and on the character of SADC in general. Any display of a
measure of inadequacy on our part shall be a huge blow to our efforts to rid
the sub-continent of practices anathema to democracy and good
Zimbabweans cannot afford to give up at a time
when prospects for advancement elsewhere in the region show a positive tack.
Six months after SADC adopted a set of guidelines on the conduct of
elections, Zimbabweans expect the organization to check on the work in
progress and to come up with a sincere opinion on the implementation of the
new SADC covenant.
Here at home, the regime's actions have raised
national anxieties and fears, given the absence of the necessary
institutional readiness and capacity to execute the assignment. Concerns
abound as to the state of readiness of the new commission to guide all
political contestants to compete according to the rules of the SADC game and
to emerge with a result that attracts national consent.
is of essence. Without the infrastructure, grievance handling procedures, a
code of conduct and expertise, many doubt the commission's ability to
fulfill its legal and political mandate in the short time at its disposal.
The burden is on the commission to clear these doubts.
many factors against the commission at the moment. Any attempt to rely on
previously discredited state institutions for an election could have drastic
consequences. There is already a perennial dispute over the state of our
voters roll, aggravated by what seems to be a lack of commitment to attend
to this nagging inconvenience.
Zimbabweans shall feel relieved if
the new commission is prepared to go down in history as that patriotic lot
that assisted in redirecting the nation from the precipice. The nation shall
forever be grateful if the commission commits itself to an honest discharge
of duty and responsibility.
The voters roll was compiled by a
government department, whose past behaviour represents one of the very
distortions of the current electoral environment. The new commission needs
to check on the impact of Zanu-PF's bureaucratic dominance on this crucial
Zimbabweans went to war to gain their independence
and assume the universal right to vote. Today, millions are denied this
right simply because of either their ancestry or place of residence. Those
driven out of the country by the regime's policies, by economic insecurity
or by any other reasons have a right to determine Zimbabwe's future and must
be allowed to vote. The commission must make a determination on this
There is an argument over the role of the uniformed
forces, especially the military, in our elections. The Constitution forbids
our armed forces from taking an active role in the polls, yet the new
Electoral Act empowers the new commission to hire soldiers for that purpose.
The Commission and SADC must make a determination on these issues if they
are to deliver an impartial and acceptable result.
commission shows a patriotic fervour, engages all stakeholders urgently and
shows its impartiality early, it is possible to rekindle public confidence
in elections. We still have a chance to redeem ourselves as a nation and to
lend legitimacy to the electoral process.
The commission has an
intricate task to separate itself from past practices and show Zimbabweans
that a fresh electoral management system is possible. That can only happen
if it discharges its duties without fear or favour.
must enjoy the confidence of the competing teams. In our case, the
commission must display a behaviour that earns it national legitimacy and
pride. The commission must take a leadership position as adherents of
conflict management and resolution. Zimbabweans crave for love, wish to set
up peace committees, aspire for a society awash with media forbearance, and
expect abundant political space in the hope of a lasting end to the national
The commission must listen to all and save us from
another five years of uncertainty. Thereafter, we shall move onto a new
political stage that demands national unity and national
Beyond the election, we wish to state once again that we
have no intention of pursuing a campaign of retribution. We have an enormous
responsibility to direct a massive development agenda in order to make a new
Zimbabwe a reality. The people have long expressed their revulsion at
attempts to repeat the scenes of the past five years.
vision directs us towards a holistic view of our past, understanding the
desperation of a failed nationalistic elite. Our objective goes far beyond a
mere election victory.
We are set for a radical overhaul of
our political culture, raise a new Zimbabwe and lay down an irreversible
path for political transitions in which winners and losers co-exist in
peace. The political and moral will of all the contestants must be focused
on the dignity of the nation. We must widen the foundation for a complete
recovery beyond the parliamentary election.
The blistered hands are testimony to the
hard labour that Roy Bennett is now enduring on a daily basis.
no stranger to physical work, but the sheer exertion of labouring on the
prison farm is leaving its mark on Roy.
However, his spirits are high and
he is enjoying working outdoors but he never forgets the injustice that he is
An injustice made worse with every day he spends in prison,
especially in light of the fact that Zimbabwe's courts are continuing to
reserve judgement or are delaying hearing cases relating to the imprisonment
of Roy Bennett.
Despite appeals by his lawyers that their client is
likely to suffer irreparable prejudice, there appears to be no movement by
the judiciary to settle the Bennett cases.
There has been a noticeable
delay by the High Court concerning the Application to Review the
Parliamentary procedure that resulted in the Honourable MP for Chimanimani
being sentenced to a year in prison with labour.
In addition, Justice
Hungwe has still not passed judgement in the case brought before him in
November of last year applying for Bennett's release pending the outcome of
the Review application.
Furthermore, the legal team has also prepared a
Supreme Court challenge on the grounds that Bennett was denied a fair trial
as guaranteed by Zimbabwe's constitution. No date has been given by the court
to hear this case despite its obvious urgency.
While the courts'
decisions are to be respected, questions must be asked about the numerous
judicial delays related to this case that have so far failed to result in a
single judgement. Roy Bennett has now been in prison for almost three months.
This is an obvious example of justice delayed is justice denied.
and the family would like to thank everyone who has sent letters
and cards to him as he has received so much mail and it is very uplifting
for him. Roy asked Heather to reply to each one, but because of the volume,
she is not able to.
MDC in catch-22 on Zimbabwe elections January 25 2005 at
Harare - The Movement for Democratic Change is caught in a
Catch-22 situation in deciding whether to participate in Zimbabwe's upcoming
general elections, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in Johannesburg on
"We are damned if we do, and damned if we don't," he told
participants in a seminar on opposition parties and democracy in
Tsvangirai said if the MDC participated in an electoral
process in which the Zimbabwe people had lost confidence, they would be
legitimising the election.
If they refused to take part, they
risked becoming irrelevant as the only opposition political party to the
Tsvangirai listed various factors contributing to
the current political environment which precluded free and fair
The recently created Independent Electoral
Commission would not have time to achieve independence status by the March
The MDC was also unable to campaign freely as it had to
get permission from the Police Commission to hold a meeting of more than
Tsvangirai said 50 000 militia, specially trained to
coerce and intimidate opposition members, also hindered free elections. The
MDC was also being denied access to the voters' roll.
the MDC had not yet decided whether to take part in the poll, Tsvangirai
said the party was established to do so.
"Democracy is not an event
such as a single election, it is a process," he said. - Sapa
The Institute for War and Peace Reporting
OPINION January 25, 2005 Posted to the web January 25,
Trevor Grundy London
The president has come close to
securing absolute power in the past - this time, says the opposition, he
might pull it off.
When Robert Mugabe was sworn in as the first prime
minister of Zimbabwe in April 1980, a cousin and fellow freedom fighter
James Chikerema said he would never leave State House of his own free will.
"Robert will have to be carried out feet first," he told a group of
disbelieving foreign journalists.
As 5.6 million Zimbabweans
(total population 11.5 million) prepare to vote in the country's fifth
post-independence parliamentary election, the vast majority - hungry,
intimidated and nervous about their future - would surely agree with
Chikerema's words all those years ago.
The late president Julius Nyerere
of Tanzania used to describe Zimbabwe as "the jewel of Africa". But now more
than 2,000 Zimbabweans die from AIDS each week. Inflation is out of control,
by far the world's highest, having topped 600 per cent for a time.
Unemployment is approaching 80 per cent, manufacturing is almost
non-existent and agriculture has been virtually destroyed.
point, under present policies, the country will simply implode. Most
economic experts agree that even if radical reforms are implemented by the
newly-elected government it will take Zimbabwe more than a decade to return
to economic levels that prevailed at independence in 1980.
so bad in what was once one of sub-Sahara's most vibrant economies that
people joke wryly, "What did we have before candles?" The answer,
Against this backdrop of catastrophic collapse, the ruling
party is split from top to bottom, cracking along ethnic and tribal
The country's main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC, has expressed deep concern about the legitimacy of the
MDC leaders and human rights organisations say
terror and abuse have swept a country whose ageing leadership boasts that it
has finally given back to the people what they fought for during the
1972-1979 chimurenga (war) against white rule in Rhodesia - the
When Zimbabweans cast their votes in March they will do so in the
certain knowledge that the economic power of their old enemy - the white
colonial farmers who stole their land in the 1890s and went on to make
Rhodesia one of Africa's few agricultural success stories - has finally been
"The old days have gone," said one of Robert Mugabe's few friends
who makes regular appearances on the BBC in London, the academic and ruling
Zanu PF (the Zimbawe African National Union- Patriotic Front) activist
George Shire, "Whatever happens next, the days of white power in Zimbabwe
can never return."
Because of that, Mugabe, who turns 81 in February,
really believes that his grateful people will ignore their present appalling
economic problems and return his splintered but - to his mind - purified
ruling party for another five years.
"What we are about to see is a
cross between a quasi-mystical coronation ritual and an African-style
smelling out ceremony sanctifying those at the top and exposing those at the
bottom to the wrath of the state," said veteran journalist Michael Hartnack
The Zimbabwean historian and journalist Lawrence Vambe adds
with great sadness in his voice, "Robert has betrayed almost every principle
black people ever fought for, lost their lives for, between 1972 and 1979
when more than 30,000 people were killed by the soldiers of the Rhodesian
Army. He has become the new Ian Smith - stubborn, opinionated, isolated and
remote from the day-to-day sufferings of ordinary men, women and children.
Yet, tragically, I know he will win this election."
One hundred and
twenty MPs will be returned to parliament in the March poll - no precise
date has yet been set. Mugabe is then allowed to appoint another 30 people
who have been, and will be again, ZANU PF loyalists. Twenty are from civil
society and ten are tribal chiefs.
Zanu PF needs 105 of the total 150
national assembly seats to be able to alter the constitution, and MDC
leaders believe Mugabe would then do everything in his power in the weeks
ahead to secure a de jure one party state.
His weapons already
include total control of the police, army and some 50,000 National Youth
Service recruits, who are deployed much as the brownshirts were in the early
years of Adolf Hitler's rule, intimidating and crushing extra-judicially -
and frequently raping - any who dare to criticise the president and ruling
Respect for western-style democracy means nothing to Mugabe who
delights in America's latest description of his country as "an outpost of
His chosen role today is to pose as the champion of Africa's
long lost rights and he does so with panache, brilliance and huge
intelligence. In recent weeks, the government has passed laws and
implemented policies that have substantially increased repression.
Two electoral laws became effective last week that entrench presidential
control of all aspects of the March elections with Mugabe able to appoint
all electoral commissioners.
* Another bill about to be passed
provides jail sentences up to ten years for anyone convicted of publishing
or passing on information deemed to be " false or prejudicial to the
* A new press law carries a two-year jail term for any journalist
working in the country without a government-issued licence.
* A newly
passed bill empowers the government to close any non-governmental
organisation or charity. It also bans human rights groups from receiving
Mugabe has come close to securing absolute power in
the past. This time he might pull it off and enshrine as part of his legacy
the return of the land to the people, offering the illusion of stability by
fatally weakening an opposition who, he asserts, are the "tea boys" of
British imperialism and neo-colonialism.
In 2000, the MDC won 57 of
the 120 parliamentary seats in a brief spell of opposition optimism. Two
years later, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai came close to winning the
presidency - events that inspired Mugabe to trigger massive land invasions
of white-owned farms which have brought Zimbabwe to its present plight but
which enabled the president to reassert his domination.
Over the next
few weeks, the MDC's gains seem likely to be reversed because of the power
that Mugabe has gained and his willingness to enforce control by brute
force. This, after all, is a man who once boasted that he had "many degrees
in violence" and warned his main opponent, Tsvangirai, "Does he know where
we come from? If he comes that way we will blow him away like a
There are now an estimated 400,000 Zimbabweans living in
self-imposed exile in Britain. In South Africa, there are more than two
million black Zimbabweans in exile who, like their compatriots in Britain,
will not be permitted to vote in the election.
Many exiles are from
Matabeleland, Zimbabwe's western province, where more than 25,000 black
civilians were slaughtered in the early 1980s by soldiers of Mugabe's
Praetorian Guard, the ruthless Fifth Brigade, which had been specially
trained in the Nyanga Mountains by North Korean military
The Fifth Brigade's instruction was to wipe out
"dissidents" and other supporters of Mugabe's biggest-ever rival for power,
In 1983, Nkomo set a trend by first fleeing Zimbabwe for
Botswana and then Britain before coming to terms with Mugabe by disbanding
his own party, ZAPU (the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union), and folding it
into Mugabe's ruling, and increasingly all-powerful, ZANU, to form ZANU
Some called Nkomo the Father of Zimbabwean nationalism. Others said
he was the uncrowned King of Matabeleland.
"Today Mugabe sees himself
as some sort of Shona king or tribal chief," said Vambe, a fellow Shona. The
Shona are Zimbabwe's majority tribal group, in the north and east of the
country, from which Mugabe's guerrilla fighters drew their strength during
the 1970s liberation war.
A victory for ZANU PF in the March 2005
election would extend Mugabe's uninterrupted reign as head of state to
nearly 30 years. There will be an installation ceremony amounting almost to
a royal coronation, with Mugabe draped in a leopard skin while bearing a
knobkerrie, the symbols of African royalty. "In Zimbabwean culture, kings
are only replaced when they die," said Mugabe's anti-corruption minister,
There are some in Zimbabwe who deeply believe that this
African despot - who despite his age has amazing stores of energy and a
formidable intellect, which raises him well above the level of people who
remain his loyal sycophants - really wants to create a dynasty. Chikerema
asserts that Mugabe has ambitions for his own son, Robert Mugabe Jr, who is
now a teenager studying - as did his father - at a well funded and highly
respected Roman Catholic mission school.
"He so adores Kim Il Sung
and Third World leaders whose children follow them into the hot seat of
power," said Chikerema, who remembers his relative in the 1930s as a moody
child cattle herder who could just suddenly "sulk and withdraw his herd from
the others" and drive them to secluded pastures.
His deepest wish, say
those who know him best, is to be acclaimed as the man who really did return
the long ago stolen land to his massively grateful people, even though the
hundreds of thousands of villagers encouraged to take over the land in 2000
are now being evicted and their huts burned to make way for top politicians,
judges, soldiers and policemen.
"This election will just help to
consolidate ZANU PF's authoritarian rule in Zimbabwe," said professor Brian
Raftopoulos, head of the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Development
Studies. "Mugabe has a cunning strategy, but it will not resolve the
fundamental issues around economic reconstruction and
Before going into his last battle against the Romans,
Galgacus, Chief of the Caledonians, described his enemies thus, "Pillagers
of the world, they have exhausted the land by their indiscriminate plunder.
East and west alike have failed to satisfy them. To robbery, butchery and
rapine, they give the lying name 'government'. They create a desert and call
That might easily be Tsvangirai describing Mugabe and Zanu PF
on the eve of the country's important 2005 parliamentary election, which is
sadly predictable in its outcome.
Author and broadcaster Trevor
Grundy lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in Zimbabwe for Time
magazine, Deutsche Welle Radio and The Scotsman from 1976 to 1996.
ELLIOT Manyika, the Zanu
PF elections directorate chairman, and politburo secretary for commissariat
stands accused of receiving bribes, in cash and in kind, from aspiring
ruling party legislators.
The Daily News Online yesterday was
told that Manyika received "gifts" from Zanu PF parliamentary hopefuls who
hoped he would use his muscle to influence the outcome of ruling party
primaries held last weekend.
The sources said Manyika received
a pick -up truck, a cabstar utility farm vehicle, from a businessman-cum
politician, from Manicaland province. Manyika, sources said failed, despite
spirited efforts to impose the businessman as a candidate in one of the
constituencies in Manicaland province.
The businessman is
also said to have given Manyika an undisclosed huge sum of money. The
sources said several parliamentary hopefuls gave Manyika gifts, ranging from
vehicles, cash and farming implements to induce him to influence the outcome
of primary election results.
The sources said the Zanu PF top
leadership, particularly John Nkomo, the national chairman, got wind of this
and has reportedly ruled that the poltburo would make the final decision on
the final list of Zanu PF candidates.
"Manyika messed up
the primaries," said one top Zanu PF insider. "The problem is that he
received so many gifts from aspiring candidates." The sources said Manyika's
bungling resulted in the chaos that characterised the Zanu PF primaries held
across the country.
Several losing candidates are crying foul
blaming Manyika for favouring certain individuals during the primaries.
Although Manyika was not immediately available for comment several losing
candidates said they were unimpressed with Manyika's
Others said they were surprised that Manyika, while
entertaining complaints from other losing candidates, completely ignored
them even in cases where evidence of electoral irregularities was readily
Some losing candidates are already contemplating
contesting the March poll as independents after Manyika refused to entertain
HARARE - The Zimbabwe
Human Rights Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Forum yesterday urged the
government of Zimbabwe to create an environment that is conducive to the
promotion and protection of human rights for all Zimbabweans, regardless of
their political affiliation or other such distinction.
its November 2004 political violence report, released yesterday, the NGO
Forum said the NGO Bill, which awaits President Robert Mugabe's signature
was a serious threat to the functioning of civil society.
report said: "The Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Bill, which is now
awaiting Presidential assent, has left most NGOs in a state of uncertainty
as to whether and how they would continue with their activities. Some NGOs
had actually suspended operations pending the outcome of the
"Because of this, the few cases documented in this
November Monthly Political Violence Report are by no means the only
violations that occurred during the month. The NGO Act itself when
promulgated will impact very negatively on civil society in Zimbabwe and
will close more democratic space particularly when buttressed by the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
The Zimbabwe government has constantly
come under attack from the opposition and civil society and the
international community for its sustained attack on democratic activities
through the enactment of repressive legislation.
documents the government action against members of the civic movement and
the opposition political parties.
The NGO Forum recorded 399
cases of assault, 62 cases of kidnapping and abduction and 406 people were
unlawfully arrested during the period under review.
although the month of November was eventful in terms of politically
motivated violations of human rights, the prevailing conditions made it
difficult and at times almost impossible for organisations in the human
rights sector to document them adequately.
Zimbabwe opposition says crackdown on members rises 25 Jan 2005
HARARE, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party
accused authorities on Tuesday of stepping up harassment of its members,
including arresting scores of supporters at the weekend for meeting without
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
threatened to boycott parliamentary polls due in March, saying the
government has repeatedly rigged elections in the southern African
In a statement on the weekend arrests, MDC spokesman Paul Themba
Nyathi accused police of selectively applying a law requiring parties to
seek clearance for public gatherings.
He also said a legislator from
the ruling party had abducted and tortured three MDC youths before handing
them over to the police on unspecified charges. Police were unavailable for
comment on either incident, but they have repeatedly denied MDC accusations
of bias in favour of the governing party.
MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai told Reuters on Tuesday that the party's leadership would decide
on Feb. 2 or 3 whether to contest the elections.
Thokozani Khupe, MDC
member of parliament in the southern city of Bulawayo, said she had been
released on bail late on Monday after being arrested at the
Some 60 supporters were also briefly rested on charges of
organising a political meeting without police approval, in contravention of
the Public Order and Security Act, she said.
"We are not being given
any opportunity to meet with the people in the run-up to the elections. I
know for certain that (ruling) ZANU-PF officials are having meetings without
any police clearance," Khupe told Reuters.
Nyathi appealed to the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), which set new standards last
year to prevent electoral fraud, to put pressure on President Robert
Mugabe's government to resolve the crisis.
"The political playing field
remains very flawed. We would like to bring it to the attention of the SADC
leaders that in many instances the situation is deteriorating," Nyathi
"The police continue to interfere with the MDC's political meetings
and thus prevent fair campaigning. All these factors will have a large
bearing in the decision of the MDC national council on whether to
participate or not," he said.
The MDC says political violence and
electoral fraud cost it victory in a 2000 parliamentary polls and a 2002
presidential poll in which Mugabe won another six years in
Veteran leader Mugabe's ZANU-PF party denies its supporters have
lodged a campaign of violence against the opposition over the past five
years, and dismisses the MDC as a puppet of its Western foes led by former
colonial power Britain.
African carers keeping the UK healthy In the third
piece on his impressions of African immigrant communities in the UK, the
former editor of the BBC's Focus on Africa, Robin White, describes the army
of African care workers he has met from rich doctors to "bum
wipers". In the Sudanese community in Birmingham I met Dr Zakaria Bol
Deng, a former minister in southern Sudan before the outbreak of the current
He runs a thriving medical practice near the city
centre, but says he plans to return home, now a peace deal has been signed
between the government and the south.
In Scotland's biggest
city, Glasgow, I met another doctor who's done very well for himself in the
Dr John Lwanda came here as a medical student more than 30
years ago, and has never really returned home.
Just when he was
qualifying, the heavy hand of Hastings Banda (also a medical student from
Scotland) fell on Malawi.
Dr Lwanda became active with the
opposition United Democratic Front (UDF), lobbying the outside world for
support against Banda's one-party state, and was therefore not welcome back
A UDF victory should have ensured him a place in Malawi's new
establishment, but then President Bakili Muluzi turned his back on
Dr Lwanda returned to his patients in Glasgow. Malawi's loss -
Lower down the
ladder of the British medical scene is a new phenomenon: African care
workers. They call themselves "the bum wipers".
It is they who have
taken on the jobs that no-one else wants: Looking after the elderly who
can't care for themselves.
Many of the new army of care workers are
from Zimbabwe, victims of old age pensioner Robert Mugabe.
have abandoned good middle class jobs in journalism, the law and business,
to mark time in Britain until the "old man" goes.
care workers had servants back home.
Shadai Tshuma had half a dozen
cooks, gardeners, watchmen and cleaners.
Indeed, he still pays
one servant to keep his house in order while he's in the ancient town of
Meanwhile, he lives in a small flat, and serves the
English elderly. He does not believe he will be going home very
Happiness Pemiwah also swapped Zimbabwe, where she was a
journalist and actress, for Colchester.
The hours are
unsociable, the work demeaning and the pay not brilliant.
hard work, especially if you're not used to it," Happiness told
"In Zimbabwe, my work was going into a studio, sitting
behind a desk and using my voice. Now I'm doing lifting, manual work. It's
She says that she has no money to go out or go shopping,
so she spends most of the time alone in her room.
"I miss home
very much. Home is best," she said. What a waste of ability! But Zimbabwe's
loss has become Britain's gain.
'We won't tolerate big headedness' January 25,
By Basildon Peta
President Robert Mugabe's
government last night branded the Congress of South African Trade Unions'
planned mission to Zimbabwe "subversive" and vowed to deal ruthlessly with
anyone who landed in Harare in early February as part of the
Zimbabwe's labour minister Paul Mangwana said they would
arrest and deport any Cosatu members.
In an interview with
Zimbabwe's independent online newspaper ZimOnline, Mangwana said they would
not tolerate Cosatu's "big headedness".
The threat comes as the ANC
appears to have given the Cosatu mission the thumbs-up.
general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said at the weekend that his labour
federation would deploy a team to Zimbabwe in early February with or without
the Zimbabwe government's permission.
The mission would be to
visit the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and did not need the
Zimbabwe government's permission, he said.
Cosatu had by the
weekend not received a response to a letter it sent to Mangwana asking for
permission to deploy a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe and had decided to
go ahead after consulting with the ZCTU.
An earlier mission by
Cosatu was bundled into a bus and deported barely 24 hours after its
arrival. - Independent Foreign Service
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) will face a daunting task if - as widely expected -
it decides to contest the March parliamentary elections.
MDC is on record that it will not participate unless Zimbabwe complies with
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) guidelines on democratic
elections adopted in Mauritius in August last year.
protocol requires the establishment of "all-inclusive, competent and
accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified personnel",
constitutional courts to arbitrate disputes about political and civil
President Robert Mugabe's government has enacted new
electoral laws in a bid to comply, but the MDC has dismissed these reforms
as cosmetic and piecemeal.
A supposedly independent electoral
commission will be set up, but its composition is yet to be decided.
Military and intelligence personnel continue to staff electoral supervisory
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has visited several African
and European leaders to argue his party's case. Wherever he has gone, it is
understood, the message has been the same: fight the election.
Many within his party view a boycott as politically dangerous as it would
hand the ruling Zanu-PF victory on a silver plate, albeit with an attendant
legitimacy crisis, and consign the MDC to the political
However, if the MDC enters the election it will
have to grapple with numerous political and legal obstacles.
Despite Tsvangirai's acknowledgement that the police have proved more
even-handed of late, political violence and intimidation
The MDC is unlikely to be allowed to campaign free of
attacks by Zanu-PF militants who are notorious for using terror as a
Harassment assumes many forms. The MDC's offices
have been raided on numerous occasions by police supposedly looking for
"subversive" documents. MDC rallies and civic protests have been ruthlessly
African National Congress secretary general Kgalema
Motlanthe, in a rare departure from the rhetoric of solidarity, this week
said it was an "anomaly" that the MDC, which has strong representation in
Parliament and controls several municipalities, should have to seek police
permission to hold rallies.
"Over the years we have been saying
to them [Zanu-PF] that you cannot have a properly registered party
restricted in this way," he said. "Indeed, the playing field should be
levelled and the police should act in an impartial manner."
Opposition and civic politics in Zimbabwe have been weakened by systematic
repression underpinned by the use of draconian laws, such as the Public
Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, under which three newspapers have been closed and dozens of
There have been several cases of
individuals being fined or imprisoned for expressing even mild criticism of
The Broadcasting Services Act has shut out all
voices from the airwaves, except Mugabe's, and just last month legislation
was passed to prevent NGOs from participating in electoral or democratic
As shown by last weekend's Zanu-PF primary elections,
which were characterised by fraud, manipulation and threats, Zimbabwean
authorities are either unable or unwilling to hold properly organised
The registrar general last week placed prominent press
advertisments to list voter registration requirements that many will find
Urban dwellers need to provide proof of residency, such
as utility bills, which will discourage many of the MDC's youthful
supporters who are lodgers, while rural voters need to be approved by chiefs
or headmen, all on the government payroll.
parliamentary and 2002 presidential polls were hotly disputed. Some of the
electoral petitions are still in the courts. Zanu-PF MPs disqualified by the
high court continue to sit pending their appeals to the Supreme Court that -
five years later - regards none of this as an urgent matter.
The MDC claims the voters' roll is a mess. It wants an electronic version to
conduct an audit of names of voters who died or emigrated years
There have also been complaints of gerrymandering during
the demarcation of constituencies. A recent delimitation exercise resulted
in three constituencies being removed from MDC urban strongholds and
transferred to Zanu-PF rural fiefdoms. The MDC says it is the only example
in Africa of urban to rural migration.
Critics argue these
problems can only be resolved through constitutional reforms.
The big worry is that, despite Motlanthe's assurance that the election "must
be beyond question", anything short of this will simply result in SADC
leaders claiming that the playing field was a little more even than in the
Don't expect security forces to rebel, says former officer
Holly Moyo. He should know - he almost paid with his life
African history is littered with military coups by
disgruntled officers. Why then have Zimbabwe's security forces indulged
Robert Mugabe's systematic destruction of their once prosperous country?
Why, at least, do they not refuse to obey Mugabe's orders brutally to
suppress any dissent to his autocratic style? The experience of Holly Moyo,
a former senior officer in the notorious Support Unit Section of the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), also known as the Black Boots section
because of its brutality, provides an eloquent answer to these questions.
"The price of refusing to take orders to persecute Mugabe opponents is very
high. It's not all worth it at the end of the day," says Moyo, who fled to
Johannesburg recently after nearly losing his genitals during brutal torture
and beatings by Mugabe loyalists in the security forces. "I could not bring
my conscience to bear with the tasks I was being asked to perform," says
Moyo. He was stationed at the Fairbridge Police Station in Bulawayo, from
where operations to suppress dissent in the opposition stronghold
Matabeleland Province are directed.
Moyo's ordeal started in 2002
when he says Mugabe roped in the security services, including the army,
police and air force, to help him win the presidential elections. He says
the security forces were asked to vote surreptitiously well ahead of the
public, and all for Mugabe, of course. And because Mugabe was not taking any
chances, they had to vote in front of senior officers at their respective
police stations or barracks. At Fairbridge, they had to vote in front of
their station commander, one Superintendent Chigandiwa. "I couldn't do that
because I am a firm believer in the secrecy of my vote. Even if I were to
vote for Zanu PF, I did not see any reason for being coerced into doing so
before somebody else," says Moyo. "I faked sickness on the day I was due to
vote and did not turn up for work." He voted later with the ordinary public.
But members of the Police Internal Security Service (PISI) saw him. PISI is
probably the most powerful branch of the police. Its main brief is to spy on
other members of the police force and ensure they remain loyal to Zanu PF,
Summoned to appear before the station commander, he
couldn't deny he had defied orders to vote at the police station for Zanu
PF. The evidence against him was overwhelming. "I argued that voting is
one's secret and it betrays the ideals of the liberation struggle if we were
to be coerced to vote a certain way. I also argued that I had not committed
a crime by going to vote elsewhere in my constituency in which I had been
registered." Moyo says he was told he was on the "wrong path" and would
suffer severe consequences. Nothing was immediately done to him and he
became complacent, thinking he could continue doing his job professionally.
Towards the end of 2003, Moyo was asked to lead a group of the Black Boots
to deal with a rowdy mob that had gone on the rampage, destroying property
belonging to MDC supporters in a nearby area. Thirty-seven Zanu PF
supporters were arrested by his group in the process. He ordered their
incarceration while preparing to finalise a case against them with the local
prosecuting department. But the station commanders ordered the immediate
release of the 37 and all charges against them dropped."These were people
who had beaten up opposition supporters. Some of them had committed rape and
destroyed property. We had all the evidence. Much as I knew that the ZRP had
been highly politicised, I was convinced this was one of the few exceptional
cases in which we had to take action, perhaps in the interests of Zanu PF
itself, as we had to show some semblance of fairness," says
But it was he who was summoned and told that he had taken "my
support for the MDC too far by being heavy-handed on ruling party
supporters". Moyo says he had also previously refused to participate in
routine beatings and torturing of MDC supporters in police cells. What
followed for him was hell. He was jailed and thoroughly beaten by the
PISI.His wife, who visited the police station to trace him, was also
arrested and jailed for two days. She still was not given a clue where her
husband was. Moyo says he was then forced to sign forms early last year
stating that he had voluntarily quit the police force. He was paid only R4
500 for 17 years' service in the ZRP. "This was a huge insult considering
all the dirty work we had done for Mugabe, particularly since his grip on
power was threatened with the emergence of the MDC in 1999." But Moyo's
ordeal was not over. Shortly after his discharge, plainclothes PISI members,
who he knew well, followed him home, kidnapped him and brutally assaulted
him, mutilating his penis in the process. He says he was admitted to Mpilo
Hospital unconscious but was denied treatment for at least four days before
sympathetic nurses attended to him. When he regained consciousness, his
family helped him leave the hospital and hid him before he escaped to
"Once you get fired from the security forces under
these circumstances, they will not leave you because they fear you will
collaborate with the opposition. They will continually monitor and harass
you. So I thought it was better to leave," he said. Moyo became the latest
of many members of the defence forces to flee Zimbabwe. Last year a group of
former soldiers addressed a news conference in Johannesburg convened by a
South African NGO, the Solidarity Peace Trust, to confirm reports of how
they had been used to help Mugabe rig the elections. Moyo says anyone who
thinks the security forces will ever act against Mugabe is "daydreaming".
"These have been highly politicised," he says. Many officers suspected of
not toeing the party line have been weeded out of the force and thousands of
the indoctrinated notorious youth militia from the Border Gezi training
centre have been drafted into the police and army to replace them. No
professionalism could thus be expected from the army or police, he said. "It
is no longer the Zimbabwe Republic Police, but the Zanu Republic Police -
Zanu RP ," says Moyo. "The same applies to the army. It has become the Zanu
National Army and not the Zimbabwe National Army as we used to know it."