No alternative but to 'test the odds and pray' Mon 26 July
MANICALAND - Eight-month pregnant Chenai Nyambuya smiles as
she patiently queues outside Zongoro Clinic near Manica Bridge here in
Mutasa district, about 50 kilometres east of Zimbabwe's eastern border city
Dressed in a blue blouse and a green and yellow
wrapper, she rubs her protruding tummy while she explains what has become a
growing frustration for the region's women. "Expectant mothers here are
unhappy about the water problem," she says, "we really fear delivering under
conditions like this, including terrible infections, just like in the olden
The small health facility has not had access to running
water for at least seven years, following the breakdown of a windmill built
by a non-governmental organisation.
Members of the local
community are particularly exasperated because, they say, being without water
is something they've complained about - and lived with - for too long. Plans
by the local authority to install water pipes at the clinic were shelved long
before 1997 and, since then, nothing has been done.
slowly bends forward to rub the small of her back she says some women are so
worried about the hygiene at the clinic they borrow money to travel to give
birth somewhere else. But for the rest, like her, who are too poor, she
says, there is no alternative but to 'test the odds and pray'.
A middle-aged woman stands behind Nyambuya. She introduces herself as Dorica
Gwavava, explaining she has come to the clinic with her grandchild, who was
orphaned when both his parents died of AIDS last year. Her hands tremble as
she becomes increasingly angry, trying to find the words to express her
"When patients come here and are given tablets by the
nurses, sometimes they cannot take them because there is no water. Many times
the staff just tell us to take the tablets home," she says, adding 'But what
if you need supervision?'
Her pleated multi-coloured skirt
swirls in the breeze as she pauses and then grimaces, as if in pain, before
continuing. "When mothers deliver here we do our best, as a community, to
help so we fetch lots of water from the stream to clean up the place. But now
we definitely have a crisis; it has to be cleared up."
point village elder Kudzanayi Mwenje, who has been following the discussion
with keen interest, clears his throat. His combed grey hair, shaven chin and
well-ironed green overalls indicate he pays attention to his appearance. He
also pays attention to politics, as he suddenly says Manica Bridge area
residents should not discuss 'its water problems' because the local
authority 'has ears everywhere'.
Then another village elder,
Batsirai Mwandiyambira, pushes through the queue to announce: 'Ladies and
gentlemen, I feel pity for our dedicated nursing staff." Clutching a brown
lager bottle in his left hand, and gesturing with the other, he continues:
"Only the shameless ones do not see our nurses fetching water from the
stream. Whose side are our administrators on?', he pleads, adding
'and where else are nursing staff prepared to work under such
Mwandiyambira says he wishes a good samaritan would
come and help the community repair the malfunctioning boreholes.
Another villager, Geoffrey Chimwecho, says residents should also shoulder
some of the blame for their current problems. He accuses 'unscrupulous
people' of defacing and damaging the windmill. "The issue of vandalism is a
serious one,' he says, 'we must work with the district councilor to stop it
before our problems increase.' Geoffry suggests all the headmen
should cooperate with one another to find a joint
Contacted by Zim Online, the head of the Mutasa rural
district council, Maxwell Gudza, initially claimed that he was not aware of
the crisis at the clinic, but then he corrected himself by saying he
had received reports of vandalism. Gudza insists the local authority has
met with community leaders 'countless times' to explore the situation.
He promised he would summon the ward councillor, Herbert
Muchirahondo, to investigate the matter again.
In the meantime,
patients and staff of Zongoro Clinic tempt fate as they continue to receive
medication and treatment without purified, running water. Zim Online
Top government and ruling party officials in defiance of
Mugabe Mon 26 July 2004
HARARE - Senior government officials and
ruling party politicians in Zimbabwe, who grabbed several farms each under
the controversial land reform programme, have transferred the excess farms
into the names of relatives and friends in an attempt to keep the state from
Investigations by Zim Online established that
top bureaucrats and politicians, among them Lands Minister Joseph Made,
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and Zimbabawe Defence Forces commander
Constantine Chiwenga, had in the last few months transferred several
properties into the names of relatives and friends.
national chairman and Special Affiars Minister in the President's office John
Nkomo, tasked by Robert Mugabe to repossess excess land from politicians,
told Zim Online he was facing resistance. Nkomo confirmed that several of his
multiple farm owning colleagues had re-registered extra farms under names of
close relatives and friends.
Nkomo said, "It is true that some of
the officials implicated in multiple farm ownership are denying that and are
saying the other farms were allocated to their relatives. But the
investigations by our teams concluded that these officials had been allocated
the farms. We are still looking into these matters."
The ZANU PF
chairman would not reveal the names of the politicans involved nor state what
measures were going to be taken to repossess the land now registered in the
names of relatives and associates.
A Land Review Committee set up
by Mugabe last year to review and fine tune his chaotic land reforms
established that about half of the 11 millon hectares of farmland confiscated
by the government from white farmers had been handed over to government and
ZANU PF officials. Some of the politicians are said to now own as many as six
Mugabe, who says no Zimbabwean should own more than one
farm, ordered the state and ZANU PF officials to surrender the excess farms.
But they ignored the order, forcing Mugabe to instruct Nkomo to repossess the
land. Zim Online
Preparations for agricultural show at advanced
Business Reporter PREPARATIONS for the annual showcase, the
Harare Agricultural Show 2004 whose dates have been set from 23-28 August
have reached advanced stages.
"Preparations for the show are in full
swing now, with many companies cleaning up and refurbishing their stands,"
spokesman of the Harare Agricultural Show Mr Chido Makunike said.
theme for this year*s show is "The Discovery of Recovery!" The idea behind
the theme is that, as tough as things are for companies, it is up to every
stakeholder to play a pivotal role in the economic revival process.
knight in shining armour is going to come from anywhere and institute
an economic turnaround for us. If there is going to be an economic recovery
we have to help to bring it about," Mr Makunike added.
The Harare Show
is a platform where companies in the country showcase some of the products
and services that they offer.
It is also a place where exhibitors
effectively reach out to potential customers.
Tied to the recovery
theme is the fact that many companies are made to realise the importance of
marketing themselves even when consumers complain about how their dollar buys
less with each passing day.
Companies this year are expected to exploit
this opportunity as economic stabilisation is beginning to be
"The response of exhibitors to this year*s show has been so
tremendous since entries for individual stands are no longer being
"The total number of stands occupied is being counted and will
soon be available. Entries are however being accepted for display sections in
which many exhibitors showcase their products under one roof".
have signed up to exhibit under the agricultural produce section, but more
entries are still invited and welcome, particularly in the tobacco industry
and other agro-based sections.
There has also been an overwhelming
response from those involved in cotton and maize growing while documentation
on livestock entries is still being tabulated.
For the past two years
there has been a reduced movement of cattle across the country due to the
foot and mouth disease although expressions of interest in displaying cattle
from farmers has been registered.
Their ability to do so will depend on
their cattle being officially declared to be disease-free and being given
regulatory approval to be transported.
Gate prices are still to be
decided, but as every year, a good compromise should be sought between
charging an entrance fee that reflects economic realities and making the show
accessible and affordable to the public.
The official opening of the show
will be on Friday 27 August with the guest of honour usually a regional
president expected to officiate.
A VANDALISED statue of David Livingstone is creating
diplomatic tension between two African countries.
The figure marks the
occasion in 1855 when the Scots missionary and explorer first set eyes on the
then un-named Victoria Falls.
Livingstone, from Blantyre, Lanarkshire,
named the falls after Queen Victoria when he revisited the site in 1860. The
landmark forms part of the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
decades, the bronze figure has stood looking out over the waterfall from the
Zimbabwean side. But now, Zambian officials have asked for it to be moved to
the actual spot where Livingstone first spotted the falls - on their side of
They want the figure re-sited to coincide with the 150th
anniversary next year of the moment when Livingstone first encountered the
falls. Zimbabwe has snubbed the request and is insisting the statue remains
in its original location.
The statue was vandalised two years ago by
supporters of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, who claimed it was a
symbol of colonialism.
Zambia's tourism minister, Patrick Kalifungwa, in
a move coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the naming of the Zambian
town of Livingstone, opened up negotiations for the statue to be taken to
A formal request to move the statue was made to Zimbabwe by
Donald Chikunbi, the director of the Zambian National Heritage Conservation
Commission, during a visit to the country. However, he was told Zimbabwe was
not willing to part with it.
Mr Chikunbi said: "The people of Zambia
feel the statue should be in its proper place - where Livingstone first saw
the falls. But officials from the Zimbabwean government have refused to
comply with our request to have it moved.
"It is disappointing, as the
statue would have formed the centrepiece of our anniversary celebrations to
mark Livingstone's life next year.
No-one from the Zimbabwean embassy in
London would comment on the issue.
Livingstone, who spent 30 years in
Africa, first sighted the falls, then known as Mosi-oa Tunya ("The smoke that
thunders") by the Leya people, in November 1855. He travelled nearly a third
of the continent, from its southern tip almost to the equator.
Human rights concerns must take precedence July
By Nicole Fritz
Those of us sitting in the
Constitutional Court last Monday were witness to many ironies. Poignant
ironies, as when Francois Joubert, counsel for the suspected mercenaries,
explained the conditions his clients were forced to endure in detention -
shorts, sandals, no jerseys, insufficient food in a cold Harare winter - and
Justice Dikgang Moseneke responded that he knew what it was like to be made
to wear shorts and sandals in prison in winter.
Some of the
other judges will probably have had this experience too. And it is a mark of
how far we have come as a society that the court listened with obvious
empathy when 15 years ago, had it been MK operatives detained in the Harare
prison forced to endure these conditions, no South African court would have
been likely to hear the matter.
There were more perplexing ironies,
as when the court listened to Joubert explaining that it was not a matter of
applying to Zimbabwean courts to obtain relief for his clients.
He had, in fact, already done so and obtained judgment from these courts
ordering the relief. It is not a case of him appealing these rulings. Rather,
his problem is that the Zimbabwean authorities will not enforce the orders.
They give the lie to the notion that courts vindicate
They cannot do so unless there is an
executive prepared to enforce the courts' orders and in Zimbabwe there is
There were also moments when, if you closed your eyes, you
could imagine you were in a different court altogether - a surreal,
Kafka-esque court - as when one of the judges asked whether there was any
reason at all to suspect that Equatorial Guinea would not give the detainees
a fair trial.
Court etiquette, and good strategy, do not permit
that counsel give snarky replies, but Joubert might well have replied: "My
apologies My Lord, you must have an incomplete record. Had you read the
Amnesty International and International Bar Association's report on the state
of the judiciary in Equatorial Guinea, you couldn't ask that question
Ironies aside, the court has an inordinately difficult
issue before it. On the one hand the court will recognise that matters of
international criminal co-operation and diplomatic intervention, for the
welfare of nationals or otherwise, are rightly conducted at the level of the
This concern must caution against the court too readily
issuing an anti-executive order. On the other hand, it is argued that there
exists a reasonable apprehension that the detainees' rights to life, to
security of person, to freedom from torture are gravely at risk if South
African intervention is not more forceful.
If the court
issues a pro-detainee ruling and orders the South African government more
actively to intervene, it risks causing diplomatic offence to Zimbabwe and
Equatorial Guinea, which may have long-term implications for the conduct of
South Africa's foreign relations. If it doesn't, it risks violation of the
To whom then should the benefit of the doubt be
extended? Should it be given the states, assuming that they will conduct
themselves as states should, or shown to the detainees? The greater harm is
to be suffered by the detainees and it is this that argues most persuasively,
perhaps, that the balance should be tipped in their favour.
related concern animated the court on Monday: what if it ordered the South
African authorities to intervene on the detainees' behalf and Zimbabwe or
Equatorial Guinea refused to co-operate. Its orders would then have
no effect. The perverse irony, of course, is that this concern argues
against ordering South Africa to deal with those states least likely to
co-operate, precisely the states most likely to violate rights, and deal only
with more co-operative states, for which court orders are least
Here the court was obviously concerned for the response of
third states, but there was an echo too of the Zimbabwean courts'
predicament. What should courts do when the executive refuses to enforce its
One response is that courts should not issue orders that
it anticipates will be met with non-compliance. It invites contempt for
the institution, a true showing of the emperor's new clothes.
But in a constitutional order committed to human rights, the onus should be
cast differently. If an order would vindicate individuals' rights, then it
should be issued regardless of the anticipated compliance.
perhaps where non-compliance is expected, the duty is so much stronger, in
that it shows up the extent to which the executive, in South Africa or in
Equatorial Guinea, acts in bad faith.
.. The Star's
Contributing Editor is a lecturer at the Law School, Wits University
Norton councillors exempt themselves from paying
By Nelson Chenga NORTON Town Council has resolved to exempt all
its 12 councillors from paying rates and water charges on their residential
The move, approved at a special meeting of the finance and
development committee last month, is with effect from the beginning of July
2004 and in direct contravention of the Urban Councils Act.
over and above the council's approval, at the same meeting, of increases in
monthly allowances to the councillors in yet another direct defiance of a
clear Government directive that requires all local authorities to produce
audited accounts before effecting increases.
The council backdated the
allowances to January this year.
"That as a matter of policy sitting
councillors be allowed 100 percent rebate on rates and water charges with
effect from First July, 2004; on condition that the rebate shall only apply
to the property at which the councillor is residing and provided that the
property is within Norton Council area," read the council resolution
contained in minutes dated June 16 2004.
"This was considered as
reasonable compensation for the time and effort spent by a councillor on
civic affairs and duties," said the minutes.
According the minutes, the
resolution arose during discussion to review the councillors' allowances as
recommended by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing to all local authorities that they review upwards their councillors'
stipends. In a circular dated May 14 2004, the Ministry of Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing notified all local authorities that
ordinary councillors' minimum allowances be set at $135 000 per
Chairpersons of town boards, vice-chairpersons and chairpersons
of committees had their allowances pegged at $150 000, $145 000 and $140
"Councils may exceed the above threshold provided
they seek the minister's express authority," said the circular from the
ministry. The move by Norton Town Council is also likely to raise the ire of
residents, who have been refusing to pay what they deemed exorbitant rates
The cash-strapped council also resolved at the special meeting
in June that Norton should seriously consider accessing Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe loans for infrastructure development and to "repay other loans which
were attracting very high interest charges and penalties for late
Blame the UN cheerleaders lundi 26 juillet 2004
01:06. By Mark Steyn, The Australian
July 26, 2004 -- I see the next
decade's "Never again" story is here. Just as we all agreed the 1994 Rwandan
genocide should never be allowed to happen again, so - in a year or two -
we'll all be agreed that another 2004 Sudanese genocide should never be
allowed to happen again.
But right now it is happening, and you can't
help wondering where all the great humanitarians are. Alas, Sudan doesn't
seem to have much appeal to them, lacking as it does the crucial Bush angle
and affording little opportunity for use of words such as "neocons" and
In the Fairfax press, Robert Manne is still too busy
fighting the last war - "Iraq is the greatest disaster in the recent history
of US foreign policy. Nothing is more important than to try to understand how
this catastrophe occurred." And if that means rehashing the same old column
backwards and sideways for another two years - WMD, Andrew Wilkie, neocons,
Cheney - he's prepared to do it.
There's an old, cynical formula for
the prominence accorded different disasters by American editors. It runs
something like : one dead American equals 10 dead Israelis equals 100 dead
Russians equals 1000 dead Africans. But, to the average progressive columnist
in the Western world, what matters is who killed you. 30,000 dead Sudanese
don't equal one Iraqi prisoner being led around Abu Ghraib on a dog collar.
But the minute the Yanks go in and accidentally blow up a schoolhouse,
injuring an eight-year-old girl, the Mannes of the world will discover a
sudden interest in Africa.
Manne's big gripe about Iraq seems to be that
it was an "unnecessary, unlawful and unjust war". Each to his own. The Steyn
Doctrine, such as it is, is that there's never a bad reason to take out a
thug regime. Unfortunately for the beleaguered villagers of Darfur, the
Americans so far are playing by Manne's rules. The USAF could target and bomb
the Janjaweed as effectively as they did the Taliban.
But then the Not
In Our Name crowd would get their knickers in a twist and everyone would
complain that it's unlawful unless it's authorised by the UN. The problem is,
by the time you've gone through the UN, everyone's dead.
The UN system is
broken beyond repair. The Security Council was unable to agree even on a
resolution merely expressing some criticism of the Sudanese Government -
China, Pakistan and Algeria scuppered that. In May, even as its proxies were
getting stuck into their ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Sudan was elected to a
three-year term on the UN Human Rights Commission. This isn't an aberration :
Zimbabwe is also a member. The very structure of the UN, under which
countries vote in regional blocs, encourages such affronts to decency. The
Sudanese representative immediately professed himself concerned by human
rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
As the Canadian columnist
George Jonas put it, the UN enables dictators to punch above their weight.
All Elfatih Mohammed Ahmed Erwa, the Sudanese Government's man in New York,
has to do is string things out long enough to bog down the US call for
sanctions in the Gauloise-filled rooms. "Let's not be hasty", Erwa told The
Los Angeles Times. And, fortunately, not being hasty is something the UN's
happy to do in its own leisurely way until everyone's in the mass grave and
the point is moot.
A few days ago, the Australian Red Cross announced
that three nurses from NSW were among those trying to alleviate the
humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Good for them. But, if we were really serious
about alleviating it, we'd stop using that pathetically evasive word
"humanitarian". "Humanitarian crisis" is fine for a hurricane or a drought,
but not a genocide.
The death and dislocation in Sudan is a political
crisis, worsened by political decisions every step up the chain - from the
blood-drenched militia to their patrons in Khartoum to their buddies in the
African Union to the schemers and cynics at the UN. It's "multilateralism"
that magnifies some nickel and dime murder gangs into a global player. As for
the West, if it's only "lawful" when it's sanctioned by the UN, then the
almost inevitable "failure to get agreement in the Security Council" is the
perfect cover for governments who would rather sit things out.
another line for "multilateralists" to ponder, from a report by W.F. Deedes
from Darfur in Britain's Daily Telegraph : "Aid agencies have found it
difficult to get visas."
The UN confers on its most dysfunctional members
a surreal, postmodern sovereignty : a state that claims it can't do anything
about groups committing genocide across huge tracts of its territory
nevertheless expects the world to respect its immigration paperwork as
inviolable. Why should the West's ability to help Darfur be dependent on the
visa section of the Sudanese embassy ? The world would be a better place if
the UN, or the democratic members thereof, declared that thug states forfeit
the automatic deference to sovereignty. But, since that won't happen, it
would be preferable if free nations had a forum of their own in which
decisions could be reached before every last peasant has been hacked to
death. The "coalition of the willing" has a nice ring to it.
historians will wonder why the most militarily advanced nations could do
nothing to halt men with machetes and a few rusting rifles. Just over a
century ago, after Kitchener's victory over the dervishes at Omdurman, Belloc
We have got
And they have not."
We've tossed out the Maxim gun for
Daisycutters and Cruise missiles. In Darfur, meanwhile, the Janjaweed on
their horses are no better armed than the dervishes were. But we're powerless
against them because we have fetishised the poseur-multilateralism of the UN
as the only legitimate form of intervention. And, because of it, in Sudan as
in Rwanda, hundreds of thousands will die.
Mark Steyn is a columnist
for Britain's Telegraph Group and the Chicago Sun-Times.
Murwira CHEGUTU mayor Francis Dhlakama, his deputy Phineas Mariyapera and
some councillors were last week arrested and brought before a Chegutu
magistrate at the weekend when they were remanded in
Officer-in-Charge for police in Chegutu Inspector Ganyani
confirmed to The Herald yesterday the arrest of the senior council officials
and their subsequent appearance in court, but could not shed more light on
the nature of their charges.
He referred questions to the Criminal
Investigation Department (Serious Fraud Squad) officers, who could not be
reached for comment.
All councillors, including the mayor, have been on
suspension since last month to allow investigations by an audit committee set
up by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,
Cde Ignatius Chombo.
Dhlakama assumed office on an opposition MDC ticket
in 2001 while other councillors were elected under the ruling Zanu-PF
The audit report from the ministry had recommended that the
council be dissolved and a commission be appointed to run council after it
had cited a number of irregularities, including that of defying the
Inspection of the council books by the audit committee
unearthed various and massive financial irregularities, prompting the
institution of a fully-fledged fraud investigation by the Zimbabwe Republic
Police Commercial Crime Unit.
The report described the councillors as
"highly corrupt" and gave examples of cases where a number of residential
stands were sold at give-away prices to cronies.
Some workers were
said to be appearing on two payrolls - one for permanent staff and the other
for casual workers.
Numerous cases of money being banked in wrong
accounts and diversion of funds meant for some projects were also
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public
Works and National Housing also produced a damning report last month, which
cited factionalism to advance a well-known "mafia and crime racket" whose
purpose was to violate other people's rights for political
The committee recommended that police fraud and commercial
crime units should investigate some council officials.
several councillors and council employees were mentioned as some of the
individuals who were engaged in the fraudulent activities.
revealed that council funds raised through the sale of stands and unbilled
services in respect of rates and water charges could not be accounted for as
no books of accounts were kept.
Mariyapera allegedly employed a youth
group known as the "mafia", whose specific task was to unleash violence on
staff members that refused to carry out his order, the report
Mariyapera was said to be running the show as Dhlakama was said
to be taking orders from his subordinate.
The damning report said
there had been a general breakdown of governance of the
Mariyapera and some councillors were also accused of
deliberately ignoring their duties as policy makers while they were usurping
powers of other administrators.
The report also claimed that there was
a crime racket in council in which Mariyapera's relatives were placed in
strategic positions like cash collection points.
Lack of financial
records in council was cause for concern as funds were withdrawn from council
coffers using manual receipts.
Padera GOVERNMENT has fired the 13 Harare City councillors who were suspended
in early June for interfering in the management of council
The councillors were sacked on Friday.
The Minister of
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde Ignatius Chombo,
said the councillors were found guilty of disrupting council
He said the disruptions had resulted in the decline of service
delivery for the city.
The dismissed councillors are Christopher
Mushonga, Peter Chikati, Shingirai Kondo, Peter Karimakwenda, Last
Maenga-hama, Tapfumaneyi Bangajena, Wendy Dehwa, Tichanzii Ganda-nga, Elijah
Manjeya, Wellington Madzivanyika, Linus Paul Mushonga and Oswell
Six other councillors - Falls Nhari, Fani Munengami, Jerome
O'Brien, Kenneth Nhemachena, Benjamin Maimba and Tsaurai Marima - were
expelled from council last year for conduct inconsistent with the governance
of the city.
The latest dismissal brings to 19 the number of fired
councillors and leaves Harare with 26 councillors.
seems to be confusion in the councillors' camp as some say they would
challenge the dismissal with others saying chances of winning the case were
Clr Manjeya yesterday said challenging the Government
decision would be futile.
"We do not have any chance in the courts.
There is no justice," he said.
He said Cde Chombo failed to lay specific
charges against them, adding that it was disturbing to note that they were
fired for carrying out their mandate.
"The problem is that (Cde)
Chombo has taken over the operations of council. He has said it before that
he does not want an MDC council for Harare," said Clr Manjeya.
MDC, which dominates the Harare City Council, is also the main opposition in
But Clr Maengahama said the councillors would contest the
"We will challenge the dismissal. At the same time we will seek
a political solution," he said.
He, however, said the court challenge
was a formality since they (councillors) had lost confidence in the judiciary
"We just want to put it on record that we were not happy with
the dismissal," he said.
Clr Kondo refused to comment yesterday,
saying he would only do so today.
The councillors recently appeared for a
disciplinary hearing before a Government-appointed committee that was chaired
by Manicaland acting provincial administrator Mr Fungai Mbetsa.
members of the hearing committee were Masvingo provincial administrator Mr
Felix Chikovo, Kwekwe City Council chamber secretary Mr Edward Mapara and
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority legal advisor Mr Chinondidyachii
The suspension came after the councillors defied a Government
directive stopping the holding of elections to choose a new deputy mayor and
"It has come to my attention that certain
activities on your part continue to interfere with the management of council
affairs, thus hindering the efficient operation of council and subsequently
the delivery of services to the people of Harare," said Cde Chombo when he
suspended the councillors.
Zimbabwe's embattled political
opposition faces a crucial by-election for one of three parliamentary seats
needed by the government to secure the passage of amendments to the
The country's largest opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), has seen its representation in the 150-seat
Parliament whittled down over the past four years to 52 members from 57 in a
series of by-elections marred by violence and allegations of vote
Now one of those 52 seats is up for grabs, vacated by the death
on Saturday of an MDC lawmaker, and a win for President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party would put it within striking distance of the two-thirds
majority it needs to pass amendments to the Constitution.
been racked by political and economic troubles since February 2000, when
Mugabe was resoundingly defeated in a referendum on a new Constitution that
would have entrenched his rule indefinitely.
A spokesperson for the MDC,
headed by veteran union leader Morgan Tsvangirai, said on Sunday he hoped
diplomatic pressure by other African nations would ensure a fair contest when
voters go to the polls in Seke, on the southern outskirts of Harare. Under
Zimbabwean law a by-election must be held in the next 90 days.
in the business of politics because of our undying optimism," said party
spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi. "We are confident that with the amount of
pressure that is being exerted there are possibilities Seke might be held by
The only other opposition party in Zimbabwe, Zanu-Ndonga, holds a
single seat in Parliament. The other 97 lawmakers belong to Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party -- 30 of whom were nominated for the job, not elected, by
the 80-year-old authoritarian leader under a constitutional amendment passed
Themba-Nyathi said his party was counting on the 14-nation
South African Development Community to keep the crucial by-election
Heads of state from the regional organisation are scheduled to meet
soon in Mauritius to discuss electoral standards and principles, he
The seat in Seke became vacant with the death on Saturday from
undisclosed natural causes of MDC lawmaker Bennie Tumbare-Mutasa, who won it
in Zimbabwe's last general election in June 2000.
In that election the
MDC claimed it was cheated of victory in half of the races for seats won by
Mugabe has been in power since the country won
independence in 1980.
Under his leadership, the government sent
ex-guerillas to seize 5 000 white-owned farms under a land reform programme
critics say threw the economy into turmoil. - Sapa-AP
Govt guns for Mawere properties -
takes over agro-processor FSI Agricom's farms
In a development that smacks of vindictiveness following
its failure to extradite business mogul Mutumwa Mawere from South Africa last
month, the government is expropriating farms owned by the beleaguered
businessman's agro-processor, FSI Agricom. FSI Agricom is understood to have
decided to focus their attention on cotton procurement and sponsoring
outgrowers after government made a decision to acquire its farms. The
apparent bid to stall FSI Agricom operations comes in the wake of reports of
other attempts to take over concerns in which Mawere, who the Zimbabwean
police want in connection with allegations of externalising of foreign
currency, is said to have interests. The Zimbabwean government recently
specified the business tycoon, who has since 1995 been resident in South
Africa where he obtained that country's citizenship. The Sunday Mirror is
reliably informed that the board of the farming concern met close to a
fortnight ago where the way forward for the company was discussed in light of
the expropriation of its farms by the government.
"The board is
said to have discussed the way forward for the company and ways to keep the
company operational after its negotiations with the government to de-list its
farms failed to yield positive results", the source said. He also added that
the move has caused panic among the employees of the group amid speculation
that the organisation may fail to raise funds for retrenchment packages. The
government designated four farms owned by FSI Agricom under the Land
Acquisition Act in a move viewed as the beginning of the expropriation of
assets owned by Mawere, who was specified under the Prevention of Corruption
Act. FSI ran a number of agricultural projects countrywide and is set to
sever links with various traders it had business with. Although FSI managing
director Ivan Savala refused to shed light on the latest development, the
Sunday Mirror has it from a well-placed source that the company has already
advised various firms with which it had entered into contracts of its
Last week a company spokesperson confirmed
government had acquired four of the company's highly mechanised farms
measuring a total of 4 305 hectares. But Zimbabwean police still intend to
interrogate Mawere in connection with fraud of Z$300 billion involving
African Associated Mines (AAM), the owners of Shabanie and Mashava Mines,
where the mogul has a direct interest. But Mawere denied that he was involved
in the day to day business at AAM and was just a shareholder. Zimbabwean
authorities contend that Mawere, through AAM and a South African based
company also owned by Mawere, Southern Asbestos Sales (SAS), had "for years
defrauded the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe by producing falsified documents and
failing to repatriate foreign currency earned via Zimbabwean exports in
violation of the Exchange Control Act". SAS is said to have imported asbestos
from AAM at a lower price than should have been the normal case arguing that
the mineral was of a low and inferior grade. SAS would then allegedly
re-export the commodity to other markets at the real price.
candidate for the Hwedza constituency in next year's parliamentary election
and her brother-in-law cam under attack on the weekend, the MDC said
yesterday. The party said that Bob Makone was abducted on Saturday by a group
of Zanu militia and taken to a rally held by Aeneas Chigwedere, the minister
of education. Bob is the younger brother of Ian Makone, who is an MDC
official and the husband of Theresa, the aspirant MP. Bob Makone was held and
tortured overnight, before being released on Sunday morning. Chigwedere's
rally had originally been scheduled to have been held at Makarara, but the
venue was changed to Musavadye School, which is very close to the homesteads
of the Makones. The group who had abducted Bob Makone later returned to the
Makone homesteads threatening Theresa Makone with death for daring to stand
on an opposition ticket.
A friend I respect and
admire intellectually recently said to me quite casually , "Bob (Robert
Mugabe) gave me free, quality education, which is why I can be here in SA and
be successful." It is a disturbing yet understandable explanation of why the
black Zimbabwean middle class is muted in its condemnation of Mugabe. Frantz
Fanon, the most academically influential anti colonial activist, would
probably see that as the consolidation of urban middle-class interest that
occurs in most postcolonial societies. However, this self-serving attitude
does not explain the tolerance of many black South Africans of human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe. Nor does it explain their crude and crass celebration of
Mugabe (Joseph Stalin, too, was once a valorous comrade). If it is not out of
class self-interest that many South Africans seemingly cannot or will not
consider the plight of the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, how else do we
explain the cheering for the man - for example, for his supposed courage in
putting Tony Blair, the "colonialist", in his place?
unfortunate answer may be race - or rather, what is better described as the
"victim condition". It would be naive to pretend that racism, including the
subliminal sort, does not exist. Indeed, discrimination or prejudice against
blacks is an enduring bigotry. This is why black people find themselves in a
situation where they define themselves only in terms of race and as
historical victims of racism. We react, justifiably, with outrage when whites
ask, "Why is it always about race?" Our interaction with the world is
primarily driven by exactly that, race. Most South Africans who implicitly
support Mugabe, without stopping to think about his ultimate victims, are
completely focused on the idea of an African leader standing up to whites or
imperialists . The danger with race as a definitive prism is that one becomes
primarily and even wholly fixated on remnants of racism to the exclusion of
all else. In the case of Zimbabwe, it is to the exclusion of the indignity
visited upon fellow blacks which, were it being done by whites, we should
certainly be up in arms over.
We have internalised race and racism,
something that Fanon predicted, just as he predicted that the consolidation
of urban middle-class interest could see black leaders become as abusive of
their citizens as the colonialists were. There is reason for our emerging
young democracy to be concerned about this. An obsession with race and,
consequently racial justice, should not consume us to the point where it
obfuscates other critical concerns and allows the emergence of a self-serving
middle class. Friends responded to a question I posed in this regard by
saying the primary agenda for SA should be to replace white people who remain
in positions of power. Questioned further, they suggested that this was
because white people in power were proving to be an obstacle to true
transformation. If that were the case then surely their removal would be
necessary for transformation to occur, but not its fundamental objective. My
friend's earlier assertion sounded like the consolidation of a middle-class
interest under the cover of racial justice. The danger is that this
self-interest can easily be carried over into policy and government. Then the
jump to a situation where suddenly we all become victims of that self
interest becomes frighteningly easy