Invitation from the MDC Women's Assembly
Two weeks ago the MDC Women's Assembly Chairperson, Mrs lucia Matibenga invited women across all the divides, that keep women apart, to meet at Africa Unity Square, at the opening of Parliament today, to launch the programme to promote the Peace and Tolerance agenda in Zimbabwe. We were told not to wear our party regalia, not to sing our songs as it was a public function, and that we were to respond politely to all forms of provocation, if it arose.
Zimbabwe's Formidable Security Services in Full Force
MDC women were the first to arrive at the venue by 10.00 am. We were searched by the Police as we entered the Africa Unity Square, a park facing Parliament House. After being cleared, we were told by the Police who searched us, that we were not to leave the park, until the end of the opening of Parliament ceremony.
We were all shocked when we entered Harare, by the large numbers of security services surrounding the city. There were ZR Police placed everywhere, blocking off streets around the Parliament, army personnel, the riot squad, prison police, and airforce. It was an act of courage for all of the women who came to attend the opening of Parliament in this environment of the signs of repression, the instruments of violence.
It was an act of great conviction by the women to approach the ZR Police personnel surrounding the Africa Unity square, with this consentration of armed personnel to see whether we would be allowed to enter the square. It bacame a test of how far any of us would go this morning, to get into the square, stay in the park, before we were stopped by some force, one of the many in our country today! We walked in one by one. Many were terrified, but even they, simply took courage, and all of us eventually were inside Africa Unity Square.
The Park Bench
Once inside we were advised by a uniformed Police-woman officer where to go to observe the opening of Parliament. We found a bench, the first one as one walks on Nelson Mandela Avenue side, immediately after crossing Sam Nujoma street, along Africa Unity Square, and we sat on that, while the rest preferred to stand around the bench, as we waited for both the others to join us, and also for the ceremony to begin..
Ruling Party Districts March into Africa Unity Square
By 11.30 am the zanu/pf groups from the districts began to assemble inside the square, singing their songs, all of which were aimed at the MDC. We sat on our bench unabashed, and the singers in their district formations began to come into the square, along the route where we sat. They turned into the lawns to the end of the park by Third Avenue. The songs were loud and meant to provoke us, but we sat on. We awaited for the arrival of the Mugabe entourage into the Parliament.
Types of Zanu/Pf songs sung Today
Call: Musha unechinja ndewani, tibombe !
Umuzi ka guqula ngokabani, sibhombe !
The home of the one who wants change, whose is it, so that we can bomb it !
Response: Musha unechinja ndewani !
Umuzi ka guqula ngokabani !
The home of the one who wants change, whose is it !
The songs were in that mode.
Ruling Party Women Greet Women by the Bench
With this prevailing hostile environment generated by the militia, we were pleasantly surprised when some of the Zanu/Pf women, dressed in their party regalia, recognised us as they arrived, walked to us at our bench, greeted us before they moved on to join their own colleagues, and all of them who came, shook our hands, all of us on the bench, and those standing around it. They even afforded us not just the handshake, but a smile, as we exchanged that traditional greeting.
Provocation of Those by the Bench by Militia and Provincial Leader
As soon as the ruling party districts took their places, some of those plainclothes who had shown us where to sit, came to tell us 'to join the others'. We asked them who the 'others' were. Another of the same group who had shown us where to sit, again came to ask us to stand up from our bench, to 'join the others', this time pointing to the crowd of zanu/pf districts. We asked why we needed to relocate to the other side of the path when the rope on our side had no one. We were the only ones where we were sitting down on the bench on the other side of the path.
When we asked them who gave them the instruction that we be moved they went away and came back with junior ruling party youth to give us the reply to our question.
A well known ruling party harraser of MDC members in Mbare, a woman, called Oripa, came towards us playing to the gallery of her colleagues around her, which was made up of the assembled Zanu/Pf districts. She shook her fists at us, and angrilly shouted at us:
ngavabve pano tisati tavarakasha !
kabasuke singakabamukuli !
let them get out of here before we beat them up !
When she got to where we sat, she instructed us to get out of the park or else, and she did not complete that sentence, but she went into a frenzy, throwing her fists at us, and in the air. The women asked her who gave her the instruction that we leave the square, she was even more angry this time, and replied, facing us:
it is the chefs
The women asked her which particular chef gave her the instruction that we leave the park, and Oripa left. Meanwhile William Nhara, the Zanu/Pf Harare Province Publicity Secretary, came hurriedly to where we sat, and his instruction was made directly to me. He instructed me and the women on the bench, and those standing around it, to leave the park, before they did something to us. He got more and more worked up as he spoke to me. Before we could put our questions to him, he looked at me and addressed me by my name:
"Sekai Holland, this is not Tony Blair's place, go back to America, get out of here, quickly, before we beat you up."
The Zanu/Pf youth who had been listening to this interraction by now began to converge around us, sitting on the bench, and looking at those standing around the bench, with anger. They now also talked loudly at us, most of them, at the same time, demanding that we vacate the park, or else they would deal with us.
Hapasi penyu ka, apa, ito bvai pano, izvozvi tisati taku........
Kasindawo yenu le phela, wohlani lisuke lapha khathesi nje, singangakali.....
this is not your place, just get out of here right now, before we.....
Hapasi pa Tony Blair apa, harisi benji ra Tony Blair iri, ibvai pano !
Kasi ndawo ka Tony Blair le, kasi bentshi lika Tony Blair leli, sukani !
This is not Tony Blair's place, this is not Tony Blair's bench, get out !
Decision to Avoid Violence Against Us by Militia - by Leaving Bench
There was a barrage of insults aimed at all of us sitting and standing around the bench, from all sides of where we sat and stood, from the gathering motley crowd of Zanu/Pf militia. As that crowd began to swell and converge around us, I stood up, looked at them directly, and told them to open the way for us to leave the bench. We wanted to see what to do next, to ensure that we saw the opening of the Parliament ceremony to the end. As we walked away from the baying crowd, we bumped into a uniformed Police officer, walking towards the crowd. We explained to him what had happened to us, as we sat quietly on a park bench, to witness the opening of the Parliament.
Search for Police Protection in the Park
The friendly Police officer directed us to the superitendant in charge of the occassion, at the end of Africa Unity Square, on Third Avenue side. When we got there, we were directed to another uniformed officer who called a uniformed woman Policer officer, who then went to get us the plainclothes Police officer, who told us to stand there while he organised his next step. The remaining officers wanted us to move to the area where the cannons for the gun salute were located, and actually firing. We refused their persistant advice that it was a safe area, to which they were guiding us to stand.
Plainclothes Take us to Harare Central Police Station to Lay Our Complaint
After repeated questions from other Police officers who wanted to know why we were standing there, the plainclothes officer eventually returned, to take the 9 of us to Harare Central Police Station to have our statements recorded. A docket was opened, based on our complaint.
Family Experience at Harare Central Police Station
Meanwhile we rang my husband at home to tell him that we were at Harare Central Police Station, on a borrowed cell phone, whose battery was on its last bar. Jim assumed that we were arrested, put out the call to that effect, made lots of sandwiches for the group, and with our neighbour and friend, hurried to the Police station.
The Police took Jim and Dr Val Ingham Thorpe to the cells where they assured them that they were not holding any white women. Jim was agitated by what to him were ridiculous assumptions, and to their question whether his wife was black or white, he insisted on that detail by giving them my name. Eventually it cliqued on the Police that it was our group my husband was after. Val also had called the Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers to attend to our demise before she drove to the Police station. The lawyer arrived and immediately interracted with the Police officers who were interviewing us, to get the sense of what our complaint was. He assured us that he would chase up the case into court.
The Peace and Tolerance Campaign
The Women's Assembly in responding to the recent beatings of the breakaway group in Mabvuku, the assumptions made, particularly by that group, that they were beaten up by the MDC, and the Mabvuku Member of Parliament's arrest, his physical humiliation and emotional abuse, as the perpetrator of that crime, wants to identify centres of violence in our society, work seriously and systematically against this insidious culture of violence, within an inclusive women's forum. They hope that women who come forward, take over the process, depoliticise it, and work together to introduce this new culture of Peace and Tolerance, into our society, as a long term project.
Women's Assembly Strategy
The strategy decided on by the Women's Assembly, was to invite women from all walks of life, to attend this public function, the opening of the Parliament together, and to demonstrate that Zimbabwean women can, and must work together, to develop this culture of Peace and Tolerance, for the survival of our society.
Results of the Attendance in Africa Unity Square Today
- The centre of violence today was identified as emanating from organised zanu/pf youth as demonstrated by their behaviour in a public place, at a public ceremony, the opening of Parliament.
- Intolerance comes from the Zanu/Pf who use youth to vent this.
- Racism continues to be fanned by Zanu/pf militia, references used at us were sickening.
- Tribalism continues to be fanned by the ruling party, language used at the square was sad.
- Sexism is fanned by Zanu/Pf, insults hurled at us were scary.
- Some Zanu/Pf women greeted us with handshakes, and smiles, a big step forward, in relations between and among women in Zimbabwe. The fear women have to talk to each other in public places, when they are in different political parties, clearly is going out of some women. The handshakes in public today, were welcome, and reassuring to us sitting on, and standing around, that bench.
- Officers who witnessed the harrassment episode failed to help us. Four times the Police at different points, referred us from one of them, to another of their own. Because of our persistance, the Police eventually cooperated with us, and facilitated our desire to lay down our complaints as citizens, that we were denied our:
Freedom of Association
Freedom of Movement
Freedom of Speech
but above all, we were threatened with violence by the Zanu/Pf youth and militia, where we sat quietly, without our regalia on, without singing our songs, without making our slogans, and without commenting on the provocative songs, which they sang loudly at us and around us. We refused to be provoked!
The Police also finally accepted our concern that, as we were being chased out by the vocal crowd, some one of the Zanu/Pf ordered that as the Mugabe entourage arrived, all present had to lift up their right hand, and make the Zanu/Pf slogan. A young woman behind us was protesting loudly that she was making the open palm slogan, if slogans were being made.
MDC Women Left Inside the Africa Unity Square Harrassed or More
We were told by those identified after us, who were escorted out of the park, by an angry Zanu/Pf gang, that a loud crowd of militia and ruling party youths, surrounded this petit MDC female youth, and as that trio were being removed, the militia were physically throwing her around and verbally abusing her.
We requested that the Police who were taking down our statements, ask those Police still at the park, to investigate what eventually happened to this female MDC youth. We were also concerned about one of the MDC women elders, who is in her 70s, who was arguing that she would also not make the Zanu/Pf slogan. Both were in the area around where we sat.
Lesson Learned Today
The lesson we leant today is that, women in Zimbabwe are mature now. We recognised by what happened today in that square, in the current environment, that it is possible for some women to unite around common issues that touch us as women, and that we can organize ourselves, across the divides that have kept us apart for so long, to liberate ourselves, using peaceful methods, and that to do so, it is possible to create a new dimension and force for organising, in Zimbabwe.
As we all organise for our peaceful mass actions, these events today have strengthened us greatly. We will work towards this goal even more resolutely.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Women's Assembly embarked on
several campaigns recently. Two of these are closely linked. One is the
fight against the culture of State sponsored violence which we hope includes
all women. The other is our planning and preparations for the peaceful mass
Two weeks ago I met Harare Province women's structures, to discuss the way
forward as the Assembly, in the light of the new outbreak of violence,
against women political activists. To us this renewed violence is engineered
by the ruling party to stop the intended mass action by a coalition of
organisations. The state and international media place this violence on our
door step as a party, especially after the cowardly attack of a group of
opposition members, where the focus is on the Hon Trudy Stevenson.
Women agreed to converne at Africa Unity Square to observe the opening of
Parliament on 25 July, 2006. Those present were to invite women from all
walks of life, to come together, to witness that occassion from the park,
and not from inside the Parliament.
We intended to test 2 issues. One was whether women now have the courage to
come out together to such a public event. We also wanted to have a trial run
for mass action. We wanted to see if women were ready to come out, in
response to our call, to come out.
Inspite of the unfortunate false press item, published the day before our
silent gathering at Africa Unity Square, that we were going to march, may I
congradulate all the courageous women who came out, as per our agreement
even though the false statement could have deterred many. You came out in
your numbers, against all the odds you faced, and most of you stayed inside
to the end, as we planned.
I wish to thank the MDC National Executive Committee members, and those of
the elected structures of the Women's Assembly who were identified by the
militia, and then harrassed, for their quick thinking, in seeking Police
protection, and for making the formal complaints to the same, so that we
take these issues up in the correct forum, the courts, with all their
apparent weaknesses today.
The city and in particular the Africa Unity Square were formidable today,
well guarded by thousands of security agents and police. Yet the women went
in, as we organised. In the face of provocation by ruling party youth the
women demonstrated discipline.
What happened at Africa Unity Square today proves that women are prepared,
and can face any situation of planned non violent action, today.
It comes as a shock to us, that at such a state occasion, there is such a
high level of intolerance of divergent views in Zimbabwe today, by the
ruling party, and that violence still remains a deep rooted culture of
ZANU/PF, to keep all Zimbabweans down.
Our test of our preparedness for the planned mass action, has been a
resounding success, especially that civil society and individual women,
responded to our invitation to come together, on this day. When ZANU/PF
instructed all those present to make the ruling party clenched fist slogan,
it was observed that only a few did so. Many who came to join us came from
civil society organisations.
We appreciate that all women who came for this first organised occasion by
divergent groups remained still, under provocation, and stood firm to the
end of the ceremony, as we agreed.
I thank you all.
MDC Women's Assembly Chairperson
JANE FIELDS IN HARARE
WHEN in doubt, decorate. Robert Mugabe may be running out of ways to halt
Zimbabwe's precipitous economic decline, but yesterday he showed there is
still one thing he has some control over: parliament's interior design.
Zimbabweans watching the opening of a new session of parliament were
astonished to see that the colonial-era chamber had been totally revamped,
in what state television said were "cultural reforms".
Mr Mugabe - who has never hidden his admiration of the British Royal
Family - sat on a ceremonial chair newly draped in leopard skin, a
traditional sign of royalty in Zimbabwe. His chair was flanked by two huge
elephant tusks, a stuffed leopard and two antelope heads hung on the walls
of the graceful white building, and the president's young wife, Grace, sat
on a chair carefully placed over a zebra skin.
News of the 82-year-old president's lavish "new look" parliament comes as
ordinary Zimbabweans battle with deteriorating living conditions. The annual
inflation rate is the highest in the world at nearly 1,200 per cent and
there are critical shortages of fuel, foreign currency and essential drugs.
Daily power cuts lasting seven or eight hours have become a way of life. In
the low-income, high-density suburbs, women cook on fires made from sawdust
and wood shavings because paraffin and bundles of firewood have become too
"My tribute goes to the gallant people of Zimbabwe for continuing to exhibit
great fortitude despite the prevailing economic challenges which are
orchestrated by the country's detractors," Mr Mugabe told solemn-faced MPs
and senators, most of them from his ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mr Mugabe, who maintains that Britain and other western powers are to blame
for his country's crisis, went on: "It is refreshing that the world has now
become fully aware of the dishonest and hypocritical anti-Zimbabwe strategy
of the British government."
However, critics put much of the blame on the president's controversial
seizure of about 4,000 white-owned farms in the past six years, leading to a
massive drop in agricultural production and the wholesale flight of foreign
At least four million Zimbabweans have left the country; reports from
neighbouring South Africa at the weekend said the authorities had to deport
265 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants every day. So desperate are many of the
deportees that they try to swim back across the Limpopo river as soon as
they are dumped in Zimbabwe.
Decked in medals and wearing a green and yellow sash, Mr Mugabe conceded
that the rising inflation rate was "worrisome" but said his government was
determined to "tame the monster". He said good rains had "set the stage for
a strong rebound of the agricultural sector", apparently ignoring a report
from a food monitoring body last week that said Zimbabwe would harvest only
two-thirds of its needs this season.
Mr Mugabe said a national regulating authority would be set up in coming
months to monitor electronic communications, but rights groups have warned
that will give the secret police powers to tap phone calls, spy on e-mails
and even open private letters.
He also said a bill would be introduced to curb mounting incidents of
domestic violence and suppress "retrogressive traditional practices"
including wife inheritance, the marriage of female children and the pledging
of young girls to pay family debts.
Legislators applauded when Mr Mugabe added: "Such abhorrent practices also
run counter to efforts to prevent the spread of the HIV and AIDS epidemic."
More than 23 per cent of Zimbabweans are reported to be infected, with
thousands dying each week.
The president also sent out a stern warning to the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, which is rumoured to be
planning mass protests. "They should be warned that the forces of law and
order will not hesitate to deal firmly with all those who have made violence
their culture," he said.
Mr Mugabe repeated regular claims that Britain and its allies had imposed
sanctions on Zimbabwe. "We note with concern the continued imposition of
illegal sanctions by the European Union and the United States of America at
the behest of our erstwhile colonisers," he said. The US and the EU have
imposed travel bans and targeted sanctions on the Zimbabwean president and
dozens of ZANU-PF officials.
Meanwhile, Bright Matonga, Zimbabwe's deputy information minister, who has a
British wife, was arrested yesterday on allegations of corruption, state
radio reported. In 2004, Chris Kuruneri, the former finance minister, was
held on similar allegations.
July 26 2006 at 01:02AM
Harare - Millionaire Zimbabwean businessman John Bredenkamp was freed
on bail late on Tuesday after four days in custody.
Bredenkamp, 66, was arrested in a dawn raid on Friday at his farm
outside Harare for suspected tax evasion, foreign currency and passport
But prosecutor Wisdom Gandanzara told the court on Tuesday that he
would only be charged with using a South African passport, an offence
carrying a ZIM$4-million fine. Zimbabweans are not allowed to travel on a
Judge Mishrod Guvamombe set bail at ZIM$5-million.
Bredenkamp's lawyer, Eric Matinenga, said he had been held in police
cells "on the basis of some kind of spite". The defence plans to ask the
court on Wednesday to dismiss the remaining charge, Matinenga said.
Bredenkamp declined to discuss the case, but told reporters he did not
regret returning to Zimbabwe last week to confront the accusations against
"At least I have got out," he said.
The former rugby captain has homes in Britain, Spain and Zimbabwe. He
reputedly made his fortune smuggling tobacco and weapons for the former
white racist Rhodesian government, and was once rated one of the 100 richest
people in Britain.
He currently has business interests in Congo, and is reported to be a
close associate of prominent government figures at a time when thousands of
other white Zimbabweans have been forced off their farms in a controversial
land redistribution programme. - Sapa-AP
This is the third part of an SW Radio Africa Hot Seat interview with the two
secretary generals of the MDC factions Professor Welshman Ncube and Tendai
Biti and NCA chairman, Dr Lovemore Madhuku. Violet Gonda asked the
Last updated: 07/26/2006 10:58:28
(Broadcast on July 25th 2006)
Violet: Welcome to part 3 of the teleconference debate with Professor
Welshman Ncube from the Mutambara MDC, Tendai Biti from the Tsvangirai MDC
and Dr Lovemore Madhuku the chairperson of the National Constitution
Assembly. This Tuesday the three discuss the contentious issue of the
The NCA has been strong advocates for a new and people driven constitution
but it has been said that Dr Madhuku recently created a crisis in the
democracy movement by amending the NCA constitution so he could stand for a
We start with a comment from Dr Madhuku. How do you reply to these
Dr Madhuku: That is very difficult to agree with you. I didn't. It is
impossible for an individual to amend the NCA constitution. What has been
going on in the media is a misrepresentation of the facts. The NCA is not
fighting for a constitution that cannot be amended. The NCA is fighting for
the principle that constitutions must be made by the people. Making a
constitution also means amending it, but that must be done by a
people-driven process which is open. The NCA does not regard itself in the
same position as a government. We are simply a struggle organization, and
what happened at our AGM was an attempt to ensure that we remain a united
organ that could fight for a new constitution and that involved retaining
our leadership and making changes to our constitution which every
organization does from time to time.
Violet: And Professor Ncube, what are your views on Dr Madhuku's
controversial third term?
Prof Ncube: Well, as a part of the MDC, we made our position; official
position; well-known...Which is that in our view the precedent that was set
by amending that constitution, not by Dr Madhuku, as he says, but by the
plenary of the NCA which was there, for them to have acted collectively in
the manner in which they acted, in our view, undermined the moral authority
of the NCA in the eyes of the opponents of the NCA with the result that you
will then always have a situation, when the NCA is raising its moral
authority, and when Zanu PF and others have no answer to the argument that
is being put forward, they will then immediately hide behind the question of
the amendment of the NCA constitution.
In my own personal view, I still remain convinced that the leadership of the
NCA, including Dr. Madhuku himself, could have remained in the NCA playing
different roles in different positions, and providing the skilled leadership
that he undoubtedly has without in fact amending the constitution but by
playing other roles and different roles within the framework of the
constitution. I do not think any of us on this side of the MDC have ever
suggested that Dr. Madhuku or anyone else who had served a full term in the
position they were in, would then have left the NCA. I think that people
like Dr. Madhuku are important in the constitutional movement, but in my
view, they could continue to play different roles in different positions. So
as principally to avoid having to give a pretext to our detractors that we
do not live or abide by the values that we profess, that is the view that we
have held, and that we have indicated.
Violet: And, Tendai, what are your views on this? Do you agree that what
happened with Dr Madhuku's third term has undermined the moral authority of
Tendai Biti: Well I think, I think, I think the point is well made that we
should be averse to scoring own goals or doing things that can be seen to be
scoring own goals or things that undermine our moral authority as civic
voices and so forth, so I've no issue with that, but I think the challenge
that faces us, is for us as civic society, as political parties to re-group
and ensure that we are not detracted and that we are equal to the challenge
that faces us, and I think that if it means re-expressing ourselves in other
forms, it's important.
I can tell you, on the record, that in the Party, in the movement that I
belong to, we are busy trying to get our colleagues to agree on a Democracy
Charter which would incorporate minimum standards in respect of a New
Zimbabwe, for instance, the issue of a new constitution, for instance, the
obligation to re-construct the economy and what kind of values we should
want to see in that constitution, more or less, the five principles that the
MDC, pre 12th October 2005, has always fought on, and so forth.
But, I want to emphasize, myself, that as an individual I have spent so much
energy in the direction of Zanu PF such that I find it quite difficult to
find myself being motivated by other struggles that, to me, are not
attacking or dealing directly with Zanu PF. But, I hope that we will all be
sober in that we craft a new direction and re-energise our people. I think
that we betrayed people on the 12th October 2005 and I think that perhaps we
have had second chances or third chances, and, this time around, I don't
think we can afford to continue betraying the people given the subjective
situation in Zimbabwe.
Violet: And, before we move on to the issue of the constitution, Dr Madhuku,
what is your reaction to the views that have been expressed?
Dr Madhuku: Well, just to say that I respect the views that they have been
expressed, in fact, those are the views that we considered. The only issue
is that we took a different position on that, and I believe that as to
whether or not the NCA has lost any moral authority, history will judge. I
mean, we still have many challenges ahead; let's see, I mean...we can talk
about this again a year from now.
Violet: And now, I just want to go to the issue of the constitution, the
draft constitution that was reported to have been agreed upon between the
MDC and Zanu PF. Now, this is a question to Professor Ncube. You were
accused of going into secret deals with Zanu PF over a new constitution, is
Professor Ncube: Well, a lot of accusations are directed at some of us. The
truth of the matter is in fact that some time two or so years ago, the MDC
leadership did ask me to lead the dialogue team with Zanu PF and during that
process it was agreed that, after the failure of the formal dialogue, that
we should explore informally the possibility of finding a way to remove
obstacles to the stalemate which had taken place. (I did this) with the full
mandate of the Party, and reported on a daily basis to the President of the
Party on every aspect of the dialogue that did take place between myself and
the Minister of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa.
We did consider the possibility of saying what are the things which divide
us around a constitution other than process; what are the differences in
content between the NCA constitution which the MDC subscribes to, the
rejected constitution -- the commission constitution and the Lancaster House
constitution. So, working with those three documents, we tried to find
common ground, and, in the process, we did come up with a constitutional
draft which constitutional draft, when we were discussing every part, was in
fact presented to the leader of the MDC. There were times in fact, when I
went to his house at 1.00 am, and finding him in pyjamas and would present
documents that were required the following morning.
And, that document, far from being secret, was then taken to a formal
retreat of what Tendai called the Top Six of the MDC in Bulawayo. It was
fully debated with consultants and then a summary of it, a synopsis of it,
was then taken to a formal meeting of the National Executive of the MDC,
which was the same meeting, by the way, which passed the resolution
suspending participation in further elections just before the Seke
by-elections. And in fact the major reason why that decision was taken, was
that since there had been some progress in actually bridging the gap between
Zanu PF and the MDC over a constitution, it appeared pointless to continue
participating in by-elections under the old constitution and the rules when
there was a possibility that a new constitution could come into effect.
And, the principle of that new constitution was that it was to be an
agreement between the MDC and Zanu PF in terms of content. The thing which
then had remained unresolved was how to then move from that particular
document which would have been a transitional sort of document - which is an
agreement between Zanu PF and the MDC - the question was then how were you
going to move beyond that document to a fully Zimbabwean constitution which
would have been drafted by the whole people of Zimbabwe in a process which
was transparent, open, participatory. That was what remained unresolved,
but, needless to say, we all know now, that before the MDC could take the
matter any further, the Zanu PF Politburo then rejected that approach and
that was the end of the story. So, there was absolutely nothing secret about
it, and it is a pity that sometimes some of our colleagues along the line
wish to make political capital out of things where no political capital
should be made.
Violet: Now Tendai, your camp was reported as having distanced, you know,
yourselves from that draft.
Tendai Biti: I am not aware of the reports that you are talking about - vis
a vis the negotiations that were taking place in 2003 and 2004. I think it's
common knowledge that there has always been a desire and an interest to
ensure that there is a constitution and that the constitution is at the fore
of our democratic transformation in Zimbabwe which is why I spent a lot of
time referring to our Road Map and it being simply an initiator of dialogue
around the obligation to have a new constitution and the obligation to have
a new constitution before we all go to an election and consequently the
obligation to have free and fair elections in terms of that constitution.
Violet: But, is your party aware of the draft constitution that was reached
between Professor Welshman Ncube and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa?
Tendai Biti: I think, I think if you are asking me about whether the party
mandated Professor Welshman Ncube to negotiate with Patrick Chinamasa after
2003, I think that is common because that is in dispute. So I don't think
Violet: So what is in dispute?
Tendai Biti: No, no, no, you are trying to create a dispute. You are trying
to create a dispute.
Violet: No, no, no, I am not trying to create a dispute. There was a report
you know saying that.
Tendai Biti: I'm not aware of any statement that disowned that. I certainly
didn't make it and I don't think that Chamisa said that. I think that the
problems that I am aware of are problems connected and surrounding the
constitution that was put in parliament by Honorable Coltart during the
debate of Constitutional Amendment Number 17. I think there was an attempt
to say where is this constitution coming from and where is this constitution
originating from, particularly concerns about the provision that dealt with
the qualifications of the Titular Executive President. But that is a totally
different debate altogether.
Violet: Now, Dr Madhuku, what do you think is the way forward on the issue
of the constitution?
Dr Madhuku: Well I think the way forward should be to discuss the processes
that would involve what we would call a people-driven process. There is
still, at the moment no agreement as to the processes that should take
place. Having an agreement that we need a new constitution, we have to put
pressure on Mugabe to accept the need for a new constitution. Once we cross
that pressure point and we get Zanu PF to agree, we then have to agree on
the process of how to go about it. On one hand, there is a proposal to get a
constitutional conference attended by all stakeholders, political parties,
civic groups, churches and so forth and starting from the premise of the
draft that exists; the Chidyausiku one that was rejected, the NCA draft, and
any other proposals, and that conference deliberates on the content of a new
constitution which would then be taken to a referendum. That appears to be
some starting point to debating the constitution. So, we have to put
pressure on the regime to have it accept the need for a new constitution,
then, once that need is accepted by the regime here, we debate the processes
that we should use to get the peoples' inputs, and then, eventually, get to
Violet: What about that draft that we were talking about earlier? Do you
think it's a starting point for negotiations with the regime Dr Madhuku?
Dr Madhuku: Well, we don't know about the draft, I think it was really one
thing between Zanu PF and MDC; it should simply be the inputs by the two
political parties. We would not believe it should be taken into account. I
mean what we need is the fact that Zimbabweans must author their own
constitution and Zimbabweans are in different forums; some Churches might
bring a draft, I'm sure they are working on drafts. And so, we cannot stop
people bringing drafts. I think it would be wrong in principle to have that
draft taken into account.
Violet: And, Professor Ncube, I'm not trying to create a dispute, but I just
need some clarification on this draft. What happened to it?
Professor Ncube: Well, as far as I know, the original copy belonging to the
MDC is with Morgan Tsvangirai and the other copies of course, probably with
Robert Mugabe or Patrick Chinamasa. But, the fact that, when, as far as we
understand, when it went to Zanu PF, Zanu PF said 'no, they are not
interested in going that route', they wanted to go immediately to the
elections and they called the March 2005 election. So, the net effect is
that that draft never saw the light of day, so it's just another piece of
paper lying somewhere in the library. I disagree with Dr. Madhuku in terms
of its relevance; like any other draft it can be used as the various
documents which are there on the ground when people start to say what is the
documentation, what is the body of knowledge there without according to it
any superior status. You simply say, it's just like the rejected
constitution which was rejected by the people, it can be put on the table
and also be debated as to say what exactly are the differences that exist
among Zimbabweans on content, assuming we then have found a gateway on
process. All the available body of knowledge should, in my view, be placed
on the table, and things should be taken from one document to another if
they are found to be having merit in them.
Violet: But, how many stakeholders were consulted when you were drafting
Professor Ncube: That is not the point. It is clear that the document was an
attempt to reconcile two principle documents by two individuals working in
consultation with their principles in the respective political parties that
they represented, and, there is no claim at all that it represents any
collective views of the people of Zimbabwe. Simply, the claim is that it is
a body of knowledge which attempted to reconcile the two documents and you
will be surprised actually at the extent of commonality; of agreement
between the rejected constitution and in fact the NCA constitution. The
differences arose over important issues but which do not number more than
three or four issues; fundamental issues but which were not extensive.
Violet: Now Tendai, given the way things are, you know, the crisis in the
pro-democracy movement, how do you propose a new constitution?
Tendai Biti: Well, we have already defined and made our proposals in our
Road Map and in our Road Map we put a seven-stage plan that must acknowledge
the inevitability of negotiations between the stakeholders in Zimbabwe on
process. But the key stages being agreement towards the constitutional
conference or the mechanism in respect of which the constitution is going to
be made, and, as I said before, we are not seeking to impose that route on
anyone. You will recall that as a Party; as the MDC, before the 12th October
2005 our position was a two-staged approach; that we go the CODESA route
first of agreeing on a transitional constitution, which constitution will
then be used to run an election, and after an election the new government
would then create the mechanism for the writing of a constitution on the
basis that the members of parliament that are elected in that transitional
election are not only members of parliament but members of the
But, some of us have developed strong views about the two-staged approach
precisely because of the experience in Kenya. That debate for us is resolved
simply by saying; 'look, let's agree on the mechanism of writing and
crafting a constitution by Zimbabweans before an election.' And, our
proposal would be that 'look, a constitutional conference could be a good
starting point. I know that you are going to quarrel over the numbers,
quantity and quality of those who should sit constitutional conference but
in my view, and this is a personal opinion that many of us hold, you can
have even two million people in that conference, in that constitutional
conference, but the fact of the matter is that Zimbabweans, and many
constituencies in Zimbabwe, have been writing constitutions so you should be
able to arrive at a great deal of agreement on many of the major arguments
and issues in that constitution.
So, in my opinion, once you agree on the process of writing the
constitution, the actual drafting of the constitution, to the extent that
Zimbabweans have been writing constitution since perhaps 1998, should not
take you, should not detain you a long time. We have been writing
constitutions on the ground. So, that is our own effort to say 'look, the
issue of a constitutional conference could be a starting point', but, if
people want the more democratic route, as in Uganda, so be it. To me that
principle of a constitutional conference is not stuck in stone. I think what
is stuck in stone, to me, is the obligation to have a constitution by all
Zimbabweans and for all Zimbabweans, and, of course acceptance of that
constitution through a referendum and then finally, the issue of free and
fair elections. Those are the principles that are caste in stone to me but
everything else, I think, is not inviolable.
Violet: We continue the series of teleconference debates with the principal
architects of the pro democracy movement next Tuesday. Next week the
panelists will discuss the relationship between the two MDCs and civil
Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africa's Hot Seat programme Tues 25
July 2006 - archives. www.swradioafrica.com
Mail and Guardian
25 July 2006 11:59
His hands are bruised. The deep cuts on his darkened face are
only beginning to heal and so are the soles of his feet, which were so
swollen he could not wear shoes.
From observing the injuries you can conclude only one thing:
that whoever did this to him must have wanted not just to punish and maim,
but to leave a lasting impression on the victim.
Meet Thabani Mlambo, a youth official of Zimbabwe's main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, who was two weeks ago
brutally tortured by members of the army at a military garrison along the
highway that runs from Harare to the capital's dormitory town of
"They did a thorough job on me," Mlambo says, somehow sounding
as if he feels compelled to explain the many scars and injuries all over his
"They beat me up in the groin and dipped my head in cold water
while holding me by the feet, and they said for my own good, I should never
tell this to anyone," Mlambo said.
A slight quiver in his voice and the tears forming in his eyes
are clear signals that his experience at the garrison is perhaps a chapter
he would rather not be reminded of.
But the assault and torture at Manyame military barracks that
fateful Sunday two weeks ago were not Mlambo's first encounter with state
Earlier this year, in April, Mlambo was picked up from his home
in Chitungwiza's low-income suburb of Zengeza by members of President Robert
Mugabe's dreaded spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
He was whisked away in blindfolds to the CIO's offices at Makoni
shopping centre, where he remained for the next three days, being beaten and
tortured for working for the opposition.
"I was terribly beaten up and they only let me go on the third
day and only after my family and senior MDC officials laid a siege on the
CIO offices demanding to know where they had taken me," he says.
The grotesque dark and purple markings in Mlambo's groin and the
black imprints of whips on his back are testimony of that beating three
Mlambo's latest ordeal with state security forces began on a
bright Sunday morning two weeks ago as he waited by the roadside for a
vehicle to pick him up for a party meeting in Chitungwiza.
A pick-up truck pulled close to where he stood and as the three
men in the truck made to alight from the vehicle they greeted him.
Thinking they were acquaintances, Mlambo returned the greeting
but, before he knew it, he was bundled into the truck and driven away to
He narrates what followed: "First they asked me to tell them
which army officers were conniving with MDC leaders and how far we have gone
in our preparations for mass demonstrations to oust the government.
"When I refused to answer their questions, they started beating
me up. They beat me in the groin, on my feet soles [and] then they held me
up by the feet while dipping my head in ice-cold water. This continued for
about eight hours [until] they decided to let me go, but [they] told me I
was never to report the matter to the police, although I could seek medical
But Mlambo is not alone.
Thousands of MDC supporters and officials have been beaten up
and tortured by soldiers, police and CIO agents as punishment for backing
the opposition party.
Many suffer silently, afraid of reporting or even telling their
experiences to friends for fear of victimisation by state agents.
A recent joint report by two non-governmental organisations
working with victims of abuse and torture, Amani Trust and Action-Aid, makes
It concluded that one in 10 Zimbabweans needs psychological help
while another one in 10 people over the age of 30 in the southern
Matabeleland provinces is a survivor of torture.
Rape, electrocution, severe beatings on the body and the soles
of the feet, forced nakedness, witnessing the torture of family members and
friends are all part of a long list of horrifying actions allegedly
committed by government security forces.
The government denies that its security forces target its
political opponents for abuse and torture.
But a study by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHRF), the
results of which were released last month, all but confirms the use of
torture by state agents.
The study by the ZHRF, which is a grouping of more than 17 human
rights and pro-democracy NGOs, showed that out of the torture cases brought
before the courts against state security agents, the victims have won in 90%
of the cases.
Human rights groups, however, note that in almost all the cases,
none of the state agents accused of torturing opposition supporters have
ever been brought to book.
"Eventually, one realises it's futile even to go to the courts
because nothing happens to the perpetrators," says MDC legislator Job
Sikhala, who himself was once severely tortured by the CIO.
"My case died a natural death. What is clear is that there is no
hope for torture victims in this country," Sikhala says.
Innocent Gonese, the MDC's secretary for justice, said the
party's welfare department had a long list of torture victims looking for
medical and legal help.
He said: "We cannot cope. We are not sure whether we will manage
to help them because it appears nothing happens in the end. We only hope the
cases are important in a post-Mugabe era."
Maybe in that post-Mugabe era all who are committing torture
against defenceless citizens will be forced to answer for their actions.
But until then, hundreds of victims have little to expect from a
justice system that has so woefully failed them. -- ZimOnline
Zimbabwe has, for the first time, begun to build tollgates on all its
roads and highways, as the poor state of the country's roads stumbles its
The government is in the process of constructing toll plazas at entry
and exit points of major towns as a means of boosting revenue for the
upgrading of the roads network, President Robert Mugabe said during the
official opening of the Second Session of the 6th Parliament of Zimbabwe on
The poor state of the country's roads had contributed to a spate of
fatal accidents over the years, he said.
The president said urgent action was required to upgrade the roads if
the country was to realize its full potential as a communication hub in the
The renovation of the roads and highways is within the framework of a
newly-announced national tourism policy on Tuesday, which include stepping
up development of infrastructure in national parks, establishing a national
environmental council and amending the Tourism Act.
Zimbabwe's National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has
reached an agreement worth 400 million U.S. dollars with a U.S. investor to
develop a holiday resort in Kariba, north Zimbabwe, the authority's finance
director Thomas Meke said on Tuesday.
Meke said they were in the last stage of negotiations with the
American investor to make Kariba more attractive to tourists. The work
should be kicked off in September or early October.
The resort center would include a hotel on an island close to the
Chirara National Park, a golf course, a museum and a casino. It was expected
to create more than 5,000 jobs in the catering, hotel and entertainment
industries, Meke said.
He said the project was expected to boost the country's international
image and increase revenues for the authority as the American partner would
market the area in Western countries.
Kariba, a district bordering Zambia, has the world-famous man- made
lake Kariba dotted with several beautiful safari parks.
Zimbabwe's tourism sector has been in depression in the past six years
due to negative sentiment from the West after the government started an
agrarian reform program aimed at resettling the landless majority.
Zambia's Immigration Department on Tuesday expressed concern over the
influx of Zimbabwean traders into the country without proper documents.
Immigration Department public relations official Mulako Mbagweta said
here that most of the Zimbabwean traders have not given details about
themselves when entering the country. Although traders were allowed to sell
goods in the country after acquiring proper documents, they should register
details about their residence in Zambia, she said.
Mbagweta warned that the Immigration Department would not relent in
taking legal action against those found to have given fake addresses for
their stay in the country.
In a related development, the immigration department in Lusaka on
Monday arrested an Indian named Patham Mohfinkhan Hanif for working at Kings
Chemicals in Lusaka's light industrial area without a working permit. Hanif
later left the country on Tuesday morning.
Mbangweta said the company has been fined 1, 080,000 kwacha (about 300
US dollars) for employing a foreigner without a working permit, and had to
buy an air ticket for Hanif after he was ordered to leave the country within
The official urged Zambians to report suspected illegal immigrants to
the Immigration Department and warned companies not to employ foreigners
without proper documents.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday called for
transformation of the country's education sector to make it remain
Speaking at the opening of the 2nd Session of the Sixth Parliament,
Mugabe said "the transformation of the country's education sector is
critical if the country is to enhance the competitiveness of this human
Although further details of the proposed shift were not readily
available, the new system is expected to be two-tiered, catering for the
varying learning abilities of students. Under this system, learners will be
given a broad curriculum at Forms 1 and 2, and be examined thereafter.
On the basis of their aptitude, results of the examination and their
interests, the learners will be guided to their respective areas of
specialization at both middle and senior secondary school levels, said
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
issue date :2006-Jul-25
POLICE and the Anti-Corruption Commission are intensifying investigations
into allegations of corruption in the national housing programme, Operation
Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle, a senior government official has said.
The anti-graft crusade follows a spate of irregularities unearthed at
several State-funded housing projects countrywide with claims that some
senior government and ruling Zanu PF officials were allocating houses and
stands to their relatives or people who would have bribed them, at the
expense of intended beneficiaries.
Paul Mangwana, the Minister of State for State Enterprises, Anti-Monopolies
and Anti-Corruption yesterday told The Daily Mirror that more arrests of
suspects implicated in the scam would be carried out soon as the government
widens its blitz on offenders.
"As you are aware, some people were arrested last week. The District
Administrator (DA) and the Provincial Administrator (PA) for Harare are in
court over the issue.
"That is the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission. More investigations are
being carried out. We are investigating all forms of corruption under
Operation Garikai and working together with the police. We will have more
people arrested soon," said Mangwana.
However, Mangwana would not disclose what ground they had covered so far,
saying doing so could jeopardise the probe.
Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Inspector Andrew Phiri said the
police would act if they received reports that indicated that the law had
A police officer last week told the Harare Magistrates Court that four more
high-profile figures would this week be arrested in connection with the
allegations of corruption at Whitecliff housing estate.
Investigation officer Derrick Rusere testified that between Monday
(yesterday) and Tuesday (today) he would have nabbed four more suspects in
connection with the alleged scam.
Last Friday, Harare PA Justin Mutero Chivavaya was arrested on allegations
he corruptly allocated 300 houses and 115 stands to undeserving
beneficiaries under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle at Whitecliff.
Chivavaya, out on $20 million bail, allegedly connived with Harare West
acting District Administrator Nelson Mawomo.
Mawomo was arrested a fortnight ago and appeared before magistrate Faith
Mushure who threw him behind bars. His case continues today.
The two local government officials are charged with contravening the
Prevention of Corruption Act.
Chivavaya was also chairperson of the provincial committee tasked with
allocating houses and stands at Whitecliff estate.
After 474 houses were completed at Whitecliff early this year, the local
government ministry launched a policy to ensure that houses allocated to
city council and government employees with a net salary of more than $10
million be repossessed and given to people affected by last year's
OperationMurambatsvina/Restore Order. The Daily Mirror exposed the
corruption at Whitecliff in May. Subsequently, angry would-be beneficiaries
who were allegedly omitted from the initial housing list confronted
authorities demanding clear explanations.
This newspaper unearthed the scandal in which some people were giving the
programme's houses to their relatives or selling the stands at $15 million
and ignoring the original beneficiaries.
Last week, Bubi-Umguza legislator Obert Mpofu reportedly wrote to local
government minister Ignatius Chombo expressing disappointment at the corrupt
way the exercise was being implemented in his constituency.
Mpofu, who is also the Minister of Industry and International Trade, claimed
that the houses in question were given clandestinely to prominent people or
at the expense of deserving beneficiaries. In June, there were also
allegations that some Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle beneficiaries in Gwanda, the
Matabeleland South capital, were leasing the houses to desperate
home-seekers for $750 000 and $800 000 a room.