The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Military and Police to Get Diamond Mines: Mpofu

Ntabazinduna, July 01, 2012- Mines and Mining Development Minister, Obert
Mpofu has pledged to give gold, platinum and diamond mines to the military
and police to safeguard the country’s minerals.

Mpofu, in his address on Friday during a pass out parade of prison officers
in Ntabazinduna, on the outskirts of Bulawayo, urged all the country’s
security organs to apply for mining licences, saying he is ready to grant
them concessions anytime.

“I want to make it clear that if Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) applies for
a mining concession, I will give them anytime. That applies to the police,
the army and the air force.

“These are the people who are protecting our resources. They are the people
who made it possible to repossess what the colonisers took away from us,”
Mpofu said in his address.

“Security forces should not be apologetic to seek mining claims. In any
case, where in our statutes does it say that security forces should not
participate in the economy,” the Mines Minister added.

The statement by Mpofu comes a few days after Radio VOP revealed that police
have applied for a diamond concession.

Zimbabwe’s security forces have long been alleged to be involved in diamond
mining in the vast Chiadzwa area.

Recently, Deputy Mines Minister, Gift Chimanikire confirmed that an army
owned company, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), holds a 40% stake at
Anjin, one of the most lucrative diamond concessions in the country.

The military and other security organs started being involved in diamond
mining during a clean-up operation in Chiadzwa in 2008.

The ‘Operation Hakudzokwi' saw soldiers on the ground and in helicopter
gunships opening fire on defenceless diamond panners, leaving at least 200
dead and many more injured.

This violence saw Zimbabwe being barred from international diamond trading
by the industry watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP).

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

UK’s Development Aid To Zim Exceed $300 Million

Bulawayo, July 01, 2012- Britain will continue giving development aid to
Zimbabwe with $300 million having already been disbursed since February,
that country’s Department for International Development (DFID) Zimbabwe
representative said last Wednesday.

Dave Fish, the DFID Zimbabwe representative, said since February Britain has
given US$74 million to education, US$60 million for infrastructure
development and over US$200 million to the health sector, bringing the total
to over US$300 million.

Fish said over the next coming years, the UK’s development programme in
Zimbabwe will focus on health, on education, on increasing access to safe
water and sanitation and on continuing to build livelihoods for the most

“British support to Zimbabwe has increased considerably over the years.

“The UK will continue funding humanitarian projects in Zimbabwe to improve
the lives of Zimbabweans.

“Since February, the UK has contributed over US$300 million in development
aid to various social services in Zimbabwe.” Fish said during the
commissioning of a US$50 million DFID funded rural water sanitation and
hygiene programme in Tsholotsho.

The programme seeks to improve access to clean water in five provinces of
the country namely, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands,
Masvingo and Mashonaland West.

Under the programme, 7500 boreholes will be rehabilitated while 1500 new
boreholes and 10 000 water points will be constructed.

Top government officials, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
attended the commissioning of the rural water sanitation and hygiene
programme in Tsholotsho.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe in another Singapore trip

Written by Richard Chidza and Xolisani Ncube
Sunday, 01 July 2012 16:44

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is due to travel to Singapore tomorrow,
raising fresh speculation about his health, it has been established.

Cabinet has been brought forward from Tuesday to tomorrow to allow the
88-year-old to chair the meeting with top government insiders saying that
Mugabe has not explained why he is travelling to Singapore again.

In the past, Mugabe has gone to Singapore to seek medical care and last
year, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba confirmed as such to the

Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, last year revealed Mugabe was suffering
from prostate cancer while some US diplomats claimed the octogenarian leader
was spotted leaving a cancer treatment centre in Singapore.

Said a top government insider: “President Mugabe is travelling to Singapore
on Monday (tomorrow) after the rescheduled Cabinet meeting. Since it’s not
an official visit, people are bound to speculate about his health. Remember
he gets treatment in Singapore and people will always speculate that he is
travelling to seek medical assistance. But it’s safe to say the trip is

Charamba could neither confirm nor deny his boss’s pending journey.

“I can’t be of help to you, because I do not discuss the President’s travel
arrangements before it takes place. I cannot talk about Cabinet issues but
talk to my minister,” Charamba said.

Early this year, Mugabe’s spin doctors claimed he had travelled to Singapore
for personal business and to sort out his daughter’s post-graduate
registration papers.

However, Mugabe’s coalition partner, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
unwittingly let the cat out of the bag when he told a World Health Day
gathering in Zvishavane that Mugabe had confided in him that the much-talked
about trip to Singapore was for medical reasons.

The former trade union leader admonished those predicting the imminent death
of his long-time rival.
He said: “We all have stages. There is a time when we should all respect the
aged, mothers, fathers and grandfathers, because they are old."

“According to our culture, young people have to look after the old,”
Tsvangirai said then of his rival.

Last year, WikiLeaks, released a cable in which aides told an American
diplomats that the octogenarian leader had been diagnosed with cancer.

Zanu PF propagandist and serial political flip-flopper Jonathan Moyo
confided in United States officials that Mugabe was fighting a deadly battle
with throat cancer, according to the diplomatic cables.

Moyo has openly admitted meeting the diplomats.

Mugabe’s closely guarded health status has caused anxiety both in and
outside his party.

In March last year, Mugabe was seen moving around in a golf cart for the
duration of the Sadc summit in Livingstone.

Leaked US diplomatic cables state Mugabe was spotted at Singapore’s up
market Glen Eagles Hospital in 2008 where an oncologist (cancer specialist)
reportedly confirmed that he was a patient.

Other speculative reports suggested Mugabe had entered into a deal to
transfer power to Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The Telegraph reported a few months ago that Mugabe had entered into a
“gentlemen’s agreement” to hand over power to Mnangagwa, 65, who helped
orchestrate Mugabe’s battle against white rule in the 1970s.

Mnangagwa, the former head of the country’s feared Central Intelligence
Organisation, was appointed campaign manager by Mugabe during the 2008
presidential election and was widely blamed for the brutality that occurred
after Tsvangirai edged ahead in the first round of voting.

Mugabe himself has spiritedly denied he is dogged by ill health.

In September 2010, he said that only God could decide issues of life and

“My time will come, but for now, ‘no’. I am still fit enough to fight the
sanctions and knock out my opponents. I don’t know how many times I die but
nobody has ever talked about my resurrection. I suppose they don’t want to,
because it would mean they would mention my resurrection several times and
that would be quite divine, an achievement for an individual who is not

Some members of his Zanu PF party are afraid that, should Mugabe die in
office without settling a bitter succession battle, the party could erupt
into internal conflict and destabilise the country.

Already, internal fights have emerged with distinct camps that Mugabe has
acknowledged exist.

One is headed by Vice President Joice Mujuru and another by Mnangagwa while
Mugabe has publicly admitted he lost the 2008 elections because some within
his party campaigned against him.

But while some Zanu PF members see Mugabe as a political liability, they
recognise him as the only person able to control the highly partisan
Zimbabwean army led by veterans of the 1970s independence war.

Many are also unsure whether his potential successors can defeat Zanu PF’s
most formidable opponent, Tsvangirai, in a free election. Elections must be
held by next year under the terms of their power-sharing deal.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Biti rules out Tsvangirai challenge

01/07/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti has ruled out the possibility of
mounting a challenge against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for the
leadership of the party.
Biti, who is also Finance Minister, also denied repeated media speculation
that his relationship with Tsvangirai was strained.

“Our relationship is not just normal but very good. He (Tsvangirai) knows
where I am and what I am doing at all times,” Biti says in an interview
published on Sunday.

“We have only one leader in MDC-T and that is Morgan Richard Tsvangirai. Let
me state it for the record that I will never challenge Morgan Tsvangirai as
leader of MDC,” Biti told the Sunday Mail.

On the same day, the privately-owned Standard newspaper claimed “fissures”
between the two men had "widened" after Biti announced that civil servants’
salaries were frozen because the government was broke.
Tsvangirai countered by insisting that Biti’s stance was not government

The Standard claimed Biti was “on the ascendancy as he had been able to
neutralise a clique of Tsvangirai’s advisers known as the ‘Kitchen Cabinet’.”

Meanwhile, Biti also reportedly told the Mail that he admired President
Robert Mugabe, describing him as “Zimbabwe itself”. Mugabe’s importance
would be realised long after he is gone, he said.

“History will prove the correctness of this statement. He has been the
number one symbol of stability… We, the younger generation, are lucky to
have gone through his hands. We find counsel and wisdom in him,” Biti is
quoted as saying.

“His importance in this country will be seen once he is gone. When he is
gone, that is when you will see that this man was Zimbabwe. Some of us who
came from different parties have had to learn a lot from the man.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Biti also said the government had set aside
US$100 million for national elections. The funds, he said, were part of the
US$500 million Special Drawing Rights allocation which the country received
from the International Monetary Fund to mitigate the effects of the global
financial crisis in 2009.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ZAPU youths demand national holiday in honour of the late Joshua Nkomo

ZAPU youths have demanded the declaration of the 1st of July a public
holiday in honour of the late Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo who died on July
1 1999.

by Zwanai Sithole Harare

As part of the commemorations to celebrate the life of Umdala Wethu as Nkomo
was affection ally known ,the ZAPU Youth Front on Sunday marched in the
streets demanding the immediate declaration of the 1st of July as a national
holiday in honour of the late vice president.

The youths who were singing and holding banners demanded the completion of
all Nkomo projects in Matabeleland among them the Joshua Mqubuko airport and
the Joshua Nkomo statue.

"Nkomo's statue is still not finished two years after construction was
commissioned .This we take as a serious insult to the people of Matabeleland
in particular and Zimbabwe in general," said Mqondisi Moyo, a Zapu Youth
Front member who was also one of the organisers of the march.

Moyo said since the death of Nkomo, ZAPU has been constantly begging the
government to honour him by declaring the 1st of July a national holiday.

"We are no longer asking anyone to give permission for the 1st of July to be
declared a national holiday.Since declarations are not a question to answer
and a choice to choose from, we subsequently declare the 1st of July a
public holiday in honour of his role in the struggle," said Moyo.

Moyo said that the ZAPU youths are also demanding that the Bulawayo city
council should rename Main Street Joshua Mqabuko Street.

The youths also called for the abolishment of the national unity day saying
the day has been highly politicised by Zanu (PF).

"We would like to let the nation and the world know that the 22nd December
is not a day of national unity but a mere face cover of the insincerity of
Zanu (PF). Comparing 222nd December and the 1st of July which one would be
significant, the one when our people were forced to into submission or the
day the world lost a great leader like Nkomo," asked Moyo.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tiger-mauling victim's identity delays inquest

01/07/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

AN INQUEST into the death of a Zimbabwean game keeper killed by a tiger in
New Zealand three years ago has been delayed over questions about his real
Following the keeper’s death in Northland which made headlines around the
world, thousands came to know him as Dalubuhle Ncube.

But a little digging by authorities in New Zealand has revealed Ncube may
have committed identity fraud after it emerged he was also known as Clifford
Mncube and Darlington Tembo, a pre-inquest hearing was told on Friday.

Ncube, whose body was repatriated for burial in his home village in Hwange,
arrived in New Zealand on a passport that was in his much-younger brother's

Police inquiries after his death revealed he entered New Zealand on November
10, 2005, on a South African passport under the name of Clifford Mncube with
a birth date of October 7, 1986.
This would have made him 19, when he arrived. In fact, he was actually about

Before moving to New Zealand, Ncube worked at The Rhino and Lion Nature
Reserve in Krugersdorp, South Africa, where he met former Zion Wildlife
Gardens' operator Craig Busch and they became friends.

In October 2004, Busch sent a letter to Darlington Dalu Tembo, offering him
a job at Zion. He obtained a work permit to work as an animal handler at the
Whangarei-based park.

In her deposition to Whangarei coroner Brandt Shortland, police inquest
officer Constable Andrea Magill said Ncube’s true identity had not been
confirmed and was unlikely to be.

Magill said police enquiries revealed Ncube had told Zion operator Patricia
Busch that his real name was Dalubuhle Ncube and he was born on July 13,
about 1975-1978.
As a boy, he said his grandmother had used his younger brother Clifford's
passport to get him out of Zimbabwe.

Magill said it was difficult to ascertain the truth about Ncube’s family,
although it had been reported that he was raised by an uncle named Fati

It was also reported that his mother was Lucy Ncube who lived in Zimbabwe,
had a five-year-old child, Darlington, who lived in South Africa, at least
two brothers and one sister and has an aunt, Nomusa Mhindurwa, who is a
nurse in Gisborne, north-eastern New Zealand.

"Immigration New Zealand believed it highly likely that the deceased entered
New Zealand on a false passport," Magill told the hearing.

"Investigating police are satisfied that Clifford Dalu Mncube entered New
Zealand under the name of Clifford Mncube and became known to his friends
and family as Dalu Ncube," she said.
Ncube was mauled to death by a tiger while cleaning its cage in May 2009.

Coroner Shortland will release his findings on Ncube’s identity this week.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Film shares journey of Zimbabwean basket weavers

Chris Quintana | The New Mexican
Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2012 - 7/1/12

Every year, traditional artists from across the globe come to sell their
work at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, and one local filmmaker
spent the better part of four years capturing one of those journeys on film.

Cristina McCandless’ documentary, From Zimbabwe to Santa Fe, chronicles the
voyage of three Zimbabwean basket weavers.

The film premieres July 10 at The Screen, and McCandless said she and some
of the artists from the film will be around for a question-and-answer

McCandless said the original idea arose after she spent a day as a volunteer
at the Folk Art Market and met Jane Parson, a Zimbabwean familiar with the
basket-weaving culture in her country. Parson presented McCandless with a
film idea about the journey the artists make.

At first, McCandless said, she was leery of the project.

“I wasn’t that enthusiastic about going there and paying for it myself,” she
said. “But after I thought it over, it occurred to me that I was just handed
the story of a lifetime.”

McCandless spent the next four years flying back and forth to Zimbabwe. She
said the story was originally focused on the economic impact of the market
on the artists’ communities, but that theme changed after about a year’s
worth of work.

“After the first trip, I could not call these people poor, because it’s not
a fair assessment,” she said. “You just can’t layer on American values. Once
you get over that word, poverty, you can relate to the people as people. You
can think of them as neighbors.”

Much of the film details the life and conditions of the Zimbabwean artists,
Gogo, Sindiso and Matron. Gogo speaks of her lost children, and Matron of
her lost parents and her struggle to care for her sisters. McCandless also
addresses the social mores that prevented Matron from traveling to America
in the company of a married man and the fears Sindiso has of losing her
husband because of idle gossip.

And, of course, there’s also a focus on the art, economy and love of basket
weaving as seen by the artists.

“I don’t get hungry when I’m making baskets,” Gogo said in the film. “I have
been supporting my family by selling baskets.”

A lot of these themes, however, took a while to develop because McCandless
couldn’t be in Zimbabwe for all of the filming. Instead, she corresponded
via email with Parson and Zimbabwean filmmaker Heeten Bhagat.

The duo shot most of the film based on detailed descriptions from McCandless
of what she wanted from each filming session.

She said the communities also had a large say in what was filmed. She had to
get approval from the village leaders to do the filming, and sometimes her
values didn’t match those of the Zimbabweans. Shooting quickly was often
impossible. And she even went so far as to change how she dressed.

“They said, ‘Why do they wear pants? It seems so uncomfortable,’ ” she said.
“From there, I always wore a skirt. I was going to do it their way.”

That also meant leaving in scenes that might bother American audiences, such
as one in which a woman kicks a chicken and another that shows an infant on
the ground with a dirty face.

Even though some scenes made her cringe, McCandless said, she kept them in
the film because she believed the story belonged to the Zimbabweans, not to

McCandless said she wasn’t the only one in for a culture shock. She said
when the artist Matron made it to America, she was surprised about a lot of
things, one of which was the way people dote on pets. However, McCandless
said Matron was most surprised that people were interested in her and her

“Imagine yourself coming from a village with 200 people, and you never had
any outside interaction,” McCandless said.

“And you land here, and everyone wants to help you, and they want to be your
best friend. They want to make sure you have everything you need. It’s like
Christmas on steroids.”

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No sense of urgency – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary – 30th June 2012

A clear sign that President Mugabe is now past it came this week when the United Nations General Assembly agreed to observe an ‘International Day of Happiness’ at the prompting of a group of countries led by Iraq. ( – The United Nations General Assembly today adopted by consensus, the ‘International Day of Happiness.’)

Iraq and the rest of the world must have wondered where Mugabe and his 100-strong contingent were. The Rio summit was over and no UN meeting could be complete (let alone happy) without Mugabe shaking his fist before falling asleep.. After all, he had dutifully gone to the Youth Summit, the Technology Summit . . .

True it might cost Zimbabwe another $5 million or so in expenses– but that has never been a problem in the past. And it would make Mr Mugabe’s companions so happy to be in New York again. After all, it must be at least a month since they were last there.

Then it dawned on the Vigil: the UN meeting must have slipped Mugabe’s aging mind. He could not possibly have been detained at home by urgent business. Now that SADC has said there is not going to be an election this year nothing seems urgent in Zimbabwe.

Jonathan Moyo says that, if SADC insists on proper elections, there is not time to hold them even next year. Judging from the history of the GPA he is absolutely right. A process which was expected to take two years has got nowhere in four.

Anyway, there appear to be very few politicians in Zimbabwe who want to risk an election and eviction from the gravy train. We are told that when the UK converted from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal coinage, someone wrote to the Telegraph newspaper saying ‘Can’t they delay this change until all the old people have passed on?’ The Zimbabwe Vigil suspects this is the feeling of Zimbabwe’s politicians: ‘Shouldn’t elections be postponed until we have all (happily) passed on’. This could be included in the new constitution: probably the only point they will agree on.

The monthly Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) met after the Vigil to discuss what we could do as activists to get change in Zimbabwe. The meeting adopted a cartoon as a symbol for ZAF with the caption ‘The people don’t know their true power . . .’ showing a dictator pontificating at the end of a plank suspended over a precipice – only kept from falling by subservient people standing on the other end of the plank and listening to him. It was felt this was particularly appropriate for a group that wanted to act (

We were told that some detainees in the UK complained that the Vigil did not help them. We explained that the Vigil was set up to fight human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and was not an organization to help Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK. However the Vigil works very hard to help Vigil supporters who end up in detention and are threatened with deportation. The Vigil is not a charity and the only money we have is from the generosity of people passing by our protest and the sale of some merchandise (shirts, flags and bangles).

A full report of the meeting can be seen here:

For latest Vigil pictures check: Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website – they cannot be downloaded from the slideshow on the front page of the Zimvigil website.

FOR THE RECORD:59 signed the register.


Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 14th July from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB. Please support our Swazi friends. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria.

Zimbabwe Action Forum. Saturday 5th August from 6.30 – 9.30 pm. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. Directions: The Strand is the same road as the Vigil. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. The entrance is marked by a big sign high above and a sign for its famous Indian restaurant at street level. It's next to a newsagent. Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.

Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2011 can be viewed on this link: Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2011 Highlights page.

The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents the views and opinions of ROHR.

ZBN News. The Vigil management team wishes to make it clear that the Zimbabwe Vigil is not responsible for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Network News (ZBN News). We are happy that they attend our activities and provide television coverage but we have no control over them. All enquiries about ZBN News should be addressed to ZBN News.

The Zim Vigil band (Farai Marema and Dumi Tutani) has launched its theme song ‘Vigil Yedu (our Vigil)’ to raise awareness through music. To download this single, visit: and to watch the video check: To watch other Zim Vigil band protest songs, check: and

Vigil Facebook page:

Vigil Myspace page:

Useful websites: which reports on Zanu PF abuses and where people can report corruption in Zimbabwe.

Vigil co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Inclusive Government Watch – Issue 40

July 1st, 2012

ZIG breaches May 2012An analysis of events in Zimbabwe during May demonstrates that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF are gearing up for elections – which could be held later this year but will more likely take place during the first or second quarter of 2013.

The characteristic warning signs are all there, as the articles collected for the month clearly indicate.

  • Upscaling of violence: The violence perpetrated by Zanu-PF against any perceived threat or opposition is increasing at a worrying rate, with murders once again becoming more gruesome in order to send out a powerful warning to opposition parties;
  • Legal harassment: Harassment by the police of any perceived threat or opposition is building up, with cases becoming more elaborate and drawn out, forcing the MDC to devote additional time and limited resources to litigation;
  • Hate speech: Hate speech is increasingly evident in the state-run media and new radio stations are being licensed to Zanu-PF sympathisers. Excessive airtime is being allocated to Zanu-PF, while opposition parties are denied access;
  • Disruption of rallies: Zanu-PF is allowed to hold rallies without restriction – which people are forced to attend – while fewer opposition party rallies are approved. Increasingly, opposition rallies are disrupted or broken up completely by Zanu-PF thugs or the police;
  • Armed forces’ public support for President Mugabe: Senior armed forces officers are making unconstitutional and treasonous statements to their troops and the press in order to intimidate the electorate. On 13 May, The Times (SA) warned that security forces, co-ordinated by Joint Operations Command (JOC) – which brings together army, police and intelligence chiefs – were running covert operations and campaigning underground for President Mugabe and Zanu-PF;
  • Strengthening the army: Additional recruits are being recruited, despite agreement at Cabinet level that no additional troops are required;
  • Extending patronage: New sources of patronage are being utilised, in particular mechanisms for drawing in the youth – evidenced by the chaotic indigenisation exercise;
  • Food as a weapon: Food aid is once again being used as a weapon as there has been a catastrophic crop failure. Opposition party members are either deliberately overlooked and starved, or forced to switch allegiance to Zanu-PF;

Added to this, the new constitution-making process is coming under attack from multiple Zanu-PF avenues as they try to seize control of the exercise in order to amend it for their benefit at the ballot.

ZIG Beaches by party

A total of 72 media articles were recorded for this month’s issue of ZIG Watch, each representing a unique breach of the terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Representative statistics were generated by categorising the articles according to the nature of the breach.

The category with the highest number of recorded violations was the harassment of perceived opposition politicians and supporters using drawn-out litigation, with 18 cases logged. This was followed by the category of violence, intimidation, hate speech, threats, abductions and brutality, with 17 instances. The denial of freedom of speech, or the abuse thereof, took third place with 9 cases, while cases of deliberate or consequential economic destabilisation were fourth, totalling 7 cases. Zanu-PF was either responsible for, or involved in, 100% of all breaches recorded.

To complete our report, we have compiled and appended ten articles to represent the month’s media coverage of events in relation to the GPA. The list is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive because of the sheer volume of articles. We invite our readers to review the list of summarised articles, original articles (links provided) and previously captured articles, on the webpage and ask you to share this information with your colleagues and other interested parties.

In the area of litigation, our first article notes the ongoing harassment of beleaguered Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. On 1 May, a magistrate dismissed their application to have a ‘kidnap’ case against them dropped, despite the fact that no-one – including the alleged victim, Emma Mabhena – will ‘confess’ to having been kidnapped! The WOZA leaders have since applied to the High Court to have the case, which is still pending before that court, dropped. The two also applied to be removed from remand on the basis of their High Court challenge, but the application was dismissed. They are to return to court in June.

Legal harassment is not limited to the courts. The MDC-T (Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s formation) accused the police of running a crusade to disrupt their election rallies using a variety of excuses. Police have disrupted several MDC-T rallies countrywide during the past few weeks, in some cases arresting supporters. On 11 May, heavily armed police disrupted a party rally – previously sanctioned by police – at Matizha Business Centre in Gutu West. Police claimed the venue had also been booked by Chief Serima. The MDC-T provincial secretary, Tongai Matutu, said armed police invaded the venue that morning, dispersing party supporters and effectively blocking the rally.

The drawn-out case of 29 MDC-T members accused of killing police inspector Petros Mutedza on 28 May last year has still not been resolved. The state has managed to deliberately stop it from coming to trial for almost a year. All 29 accused say they will plead not guilty to charges of murder at the trial, expected to start early June. Police have been silent about the progress of the investigation.

A London-based music presenter with the UK’s BBC broadcaster was arrested in Bulawayo after compering a charity concert on 24 May. Petroc Trelawny was charged with contravening the Zimbabwean Immigration Act by allegedly violating the conditions under which his visitor’s entry certificate had been issued. The arrest took place two days after the Attorney General’s Office had declined to authorise his prosecution.

In the category of violence, intimidation, hate speech, threats, abductions and brutality, our first article records one of the most significant occasions of intra-party violence to have occurred in Zanu-PF for some time. The article, dated 1 May, records the consequences of seething inter-factional discontent following disputed District Co-ordinating Committee (DCC) elections in Nyajena, Masvingo South. Armed police who had to be called in to quell clashes fired shots to disperse the warring parties. Party members also fought running battles at Shumba Primary School, Masvingo South, after supporters of Vice-President Joice Mujuru accused their rivals of manipulating the elections. Supporters pelted each other with stones, injuring several people and damaging school classrooms.

State-controlled media will be called to account for hate speech against President Mugabe’s critics, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said in an article dated 7 May. State-controlled media was using the same strategy as Rwanda’s “Hate radio” which incited the violence that led to the deaths of about a million people in 1994, Tsvangirai said in a World Press Freedom Day address. In the countdown to elections, he said that state-owned television, radio services and newspapers had demonstrated an overt bias towards Zanu-PF. The MDC-T had written letters to media heads protesting biased reporting, selective coverage and the black-out of MDC party activities, with little or no positive response.

Also in the violence category, an article of 14 May relates to the fact that the known murderers of Tonderai Ndira, a prominent MDC youth activist and human rights campaigner, not only remain free – but are openly bragging about their heinous crime and are once again threatening MDC supporters. Ndira was abducted in Mabvuku by armed men on 13 May 2008, but his mutilated body was only found a month later. He had been shot in the heart and had suffered multiple stab wounds. Worse still, his eyes had been gouged out, his tongue cut off and his neck, skull, jaw and knuckles broken, a cruel warning to opposition supporters that they could suffer a comparable fate.

During the month’s visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa made it clear that President Mugabe would continue to reject pressure from the international community on human rights issues. He chose to raise the contentious but deflecting topic of gay rights and, in thinly-disguised hate speech, told her that Zimbabwe did not recognise gay rights. He warned that same-sex partners found indulging in homosexual acts would be arrested.

In cases involving the abuse of freedom of speech, Chinamasa defended the stance of partisan army generals, saying they had a right to be involved in politics by virtue of having fought for the liberation of the country. In an interview on 25 May, Chinamasa said that by making political statements, generals were merely pointing out the way they wanted the country to be ruled. “… you cannot deny them the voice to keep this country on course…,” Chinamasa said.

Our final article highlights cases of the deliberate or consequential economic destabilisation of the economy and the country. It reports that platinum mining giant Zimplats risks defaulting on external loan arrangements after the central bank directed local banks to stop providing banking services to the company for defying an order to bring back money currently in off-shore accounts. Zimplats had borrowed from foreign organisations to finance its Phase II expansion, currently underway in Ngezi. The consequences could reportedly be catastrophic for Zimplats’ survival.


Court insists WOZA ‘kidnap’ case will continue
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 01/05/2012

A magistrate has dismissed an application by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) to have a ‘kidnap’ case against them dropped. WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu are facing kidnap and theft charges, despite the alleged victim, Emma Mabhena, strongly denying she was ever kidnapped by the WOZA leaders. The WOZA leaders have since applied to the High Court to have the case dropped, which is still pending before that court. The two also applied to be removed from remand on the basis of their High Court challenge, but a regional magistrate, Godwin Sengweni, last week dismissed this application. They will now return to court in June.


‘Police on crusade to disrupt MDC rallies’
Zimbabwe Standard, The (ZW): 12/05/2012

MASVINGO – MDC-T has accused the police of embarking on a crusade to disrupt its rallies ahead of elections to be held later this year or in 2013. Police have disrupted several MDC-T rallies countrywide in the past few weeks, and in some cases, MDC-T supporters have been arrested. Yesterday, heavily armed police disrupted a rally organised by the party at Matizha Business Centre in Gutu West, claiming that the venue had also been booked by Chief Serima. MDC-T provincial secretary, Tongai Matutu, said armed police from Gutu, Mpandawana growth point and Chatsworth police station, stormed the venue in the morning, dispersing party supporters, thereby blocking the scheduled rally. Police had sanctioned the rally.


MDC-T members to plead not-guilty in cop murder case
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 17/05/2012

All 29 MDC-T members accused of killing police inspector Petros Mutedza last year will plead not guilty to charges of murder, their lawyer said on Thursday. Defence lawyer Charles Kwaramba said indications from the High Court are that the trial for the ‘Glen View 29’ will probably start early next month. Police in Harare accuse the group of fatally assaulting Mutedza at Glen View 3 Shopping Centre on May 28 last year. Kwaramba said all his clients will deny any involvement in the murder as all have a strong alibi. Police have been silent about the progress of the investigation. There are serious doubts about the quality and scope of the police and prosecution work.


BBC presenter slapped with fresh charges in Zim
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 30/05/2012

A London-based music presenter with the UK’s BBC broadcaster, who was arrested in Zimbabwe last week, has been slapped with fresh charges by Zimbabwean authorities. Petroc Trelawny was on Wednesday evening charged with contravening the Zimbabwean Immigration Act, allegedly by violating the conditions under which his visitor’s entry certificate had been issued. The pressing of fresh charges comes two days after the Attorney General’s Office declined to authorise his prosecution. It was hoped that Trelawny would already have returned home after the original case against him was dismissed. He was arrested last week Thursday after compering at a charity concert in Bulawayo.


Armed police quell Zanu-PF clashes in Masvingo South
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 01/05/2012

Ideological and personal fault lines are growing in Zanu-PF as rival factions gang up against each other following the party’s District Coordinating Committee (DCC) elections nationwide. There were ugly scenes of intra-party violence following another round of disputed DCC elections in Nyajena, Masvingo South. Armed police had to be called in to quell clashes and fired shots to disperse the warring parties. Other party supporters fought running battles at Shumba Primary School in Masvingo South, after members aligned to the Mujuru faction accused their rivals of manipulating the elections. Supporters pelted each other with stones, resulting in several people being injured and damage to the school classrooms with windows shattered.


State media inciting hatred – PM
Daily News (ZW): 07/05/2012

State-controlled media will be called to account for inciting hatred against President Robert Mugabe’s critics, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said. The state-controlled media was using the same strategy as Rwanda’s “Hate radio” which incited the violence that led to the deaths of about a million people there in 1994, the prime minister said in a controversial World Press Freedom Day address. In the months leading up to forthcoming elections, the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZBC) television and radio services and the government-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers group have showed overt bias and played megaphone to Zanu-PF. MDC-T has written letters to ZBC and Zimpapers bosses protesting biased reporting, selective coverage and black-out of party activities.


Tonderai Ndira’s ‘killers known and walking scot free’
SW Radio Africa (ZW): 14/05/2012

Fiery MDC-T Youth Assembly secretary-general, Promise Mkwananzi, has disclosed that the people who killed Tonderai Ndira are known and bragging about the heinous crime. Ndira was abducted in Mabvuku by ten armed men early in the morning of 13th May 2008. His body was found a month later. He had been shot in the heart, had multiple stab wounds, his eyes gouged out, his tongue cut off and his neck, skull, jaw and knuckles broken. ‘Tonderai Ndira symbolizes all the victims maimed or murdered for political reason by Zanu-PF. What pains us is that his killers are moving around threatening some of our members that they can still do the same to them.


Gays are criminals, says Zim minister
Times, The (RSA): 22/05/2012

Zimbabwe’s justice minister has rejected allegations of state-sponsored violence and has vowed not to recognise gay rights after meeting the UN human rights chief yesterday. Patrick Chinamasa said he told UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay that Zimbabwe will arrest same-sex partners found indulging in homosexual acts. Pillay arrived on Sunday in Zimbabwe for a week-long visit, the first by the world rights chief, to assess human rights violations. “We made it clear that in our law homosexual activities are criminalised and that any person who commits homosexual activities will be arrested,” Chinamasa told reporters after meeting Pillay in Harare.


Generals can meddle in politics – Chinamasa
Zimbabwe Standard, The (ZW): 27/05/2012

JUSTICE and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has come out in defence of partisan army generals saying they have a right to meddle in politics by virtue of having fought for the liberation of the country. In an interview just before the departure of visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay on Friday, Chinamasa said, by making political statements, generals were merely pointing out the way they wanted the country to be ruled. “The army people were liberators and you cannot deny them the voice to keep this country on course, so that there is justification for those who died for the country and those who lie in unmarked graves,” he said.


Zimplats in a fix, risks default on payments
Zimbabwe Standard, The (ZW): 27/05/2012

Zimplats risks defaulting on loan arrangements after the central bank directed local banks to stop offering banking services to the company for defying an order to bring back money in off-shore accounts. Zimplats borrowed from foreign organisations to finance its Phase II expansion, currently underway in Ngezi. On Wednesday, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said the white metal producer had defied its directive … and instructed banks to stop handling any international or cross-border payments for Zimplats. Executives said Zimplats was now in a fix and risked defaulting on loan agreements with foreign lenders. “The revocation of Zimplats’ right to operate off-shore accounts … constitute an event of default … ,” an executive said.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Bill Watch 28/2012 of 29th June [Parliament Resumes on 10th July for Important Bills and Mid-Term Financial Statement]

BILL WATCH 28/2012

[29th June 2012]

Both Houses of Parliament sat last week before adjourning until Tuesday 10th July

Extra July Sittings for Parliament

The Parliamentary sitting calendar has been modified to cater for extra sittings next month to deal with urgent business. Both Houses will sit from 10th to 12th July and again in the following week. Urgent agenda items include:

Electoral Amendment and Human Rights Commission Bills

Both these important Bills are expected to come up in the House of Assembly on 10th July. Passing both of them is part of the Roadmap to Elections. [If these Bills are passed and gazetted as Acts they may only be temporary. A new constitution, if approved in the forthcoming Referendum and passed by Parliament, may necessitate new Bills or Amendment Bills.]

Mid-Term Financial Statement/Budget: 12th July

Two weeks ago the Minister of Finance warned MPs of ‘a major revision” of his US $4 billion 2012 Budget, saying: “Part of the major revision arises out of the underperformance of the revenue targets. I can tell you that between January and May 2012, we have failed to meet our revenue target by US $194 million, almost close to US $200 million. Therefore, the figure of US $4 billion is going to be revised downwards”. This means the Minister will be presenting Amended Estimates of Expenditure and a consequential Appropriation Amendment Bill.

As a result of these extra sittings the opening of the next session of Parliament, originally scheduled for Tuesday 17th July, will be pushed back to a later date still to be notified, but probably in August.

Facilitation Team Visit Delayed

The SA facilitation team had to put off its return to Harare, planned for 25th June, because the Zimbabwean GPA negotiators were not ready to present them with a report on what progress has been in fulfilling the terms of the GPA since the Luanda SADC Summit at the end of May.

Palermo Protocol Approved by House of Assembly

On 21st June the House of Assembly passed a resolution approving the Palermo Protocol [the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children] as proposed by Co-Minister of Home Affairs Theresa Makone. The Minister explained that in terms of section 111B of the Constitution the Government needs the approval of both Houses of Parliament before it can go ahead and accede to the Protocol, thereby making Zimbabwe a State party. Several MPs spoke in support of the motion, giving examples of trafficking that occur in and from Zimbabwe and stressing the need to ensure implementation of the protocol following ratification, including the passing of an Act to “domesticate” its provisions in Zimbabwean law. The Minister will ask the Senate for its approval on 10th July.

Press reports have incorrectly said that Parliament is “ratifying” the protocol. The correct constitutional position is that Parliament “approves” an international agreement and that the President as Head of State then “ratifies” it or “accedes” to it. Ratification is the procedure followed when an agreement has already been signed on behalf of Zimbabwe; accession is the procedure when it has not already been signed. In the case of the Palermo Protocol the period for signing expired in December 2002 without Zimbabwe having signed – hence the need for Zimbabwe to accede rather than ratify. After approval by Parliament the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will prepare Zimbabwe’s instrument of accession for signature by the President. The signed instrument of accession will then be deposited with the UN Secretary-General and the protocol will come into force for Zimbabwe 30 days later.

[See Bill Watch 27/2012 of 18th June for notes on the protocol. The protocol is available from]

In Parliament Last Week

Both Houses met on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, 12th to 14th June. Once again, neither House dealt with waiting Bills.

In the House of Assembly

Prime Minister’s Questions Time [PMQs] The Prime Minister began by referring to the lack of regular Parliamentary attendance by Ministers during the session and said he hoped the next session would see “a greater presence of the Executive”. Questions included:

Drought-affected livestock The PM said there was a Cabinet task-force on drought problems and Government policy was to arrange movement of livestock to areas with sufficient grazing or feed.

Politically partisan statements by security force officers The PM asserted that the majority of patriotic Zimbabweans serving in the forces “are committed to upholding the Constitution and the protection of the people of Zimbabwe”. But he then quoted from minutes of a police meeting at which a senior officer had said that every member of the police force must be aligned to ZANU-PF. He said this was unacceptable and emphasised the need for “the re-alignment of our security establishment to respect the will of the people, to respect the security of the vote, to respect the security of the persons and of course to respect the mandate of the people”.

Lowveld ethanol project The PM confirmed the Government’s commitment to the project and the use of ethanol in fuel; he explained the problem was that the arrangement between the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority and Green Fuels had been reached without Government sanction, that it was “suspect” and that “the initial ownership structure needed to be corrected”.

ESSAR iron and steel project Cabinet had, the PM said, resolved the problem about iron ore mining rights. He acknowledged that there should have been proper consultation between the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development before the deal was signed.

Civil Service salaries While denying there was any Government policy to freeze wages, the PM reminded MPs that the country is “really in a budgetary squeeze”, with diamond revenue expectations not having been realised

Broadcasting Authority Board The PM insisted that the position was unchanged, i.e., the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity was still under orders to regularise the position. The Minister was “out of line” if he had assured the House that the Board had been regularly appointed.

Ministerial Statement on UNWTO 2013 Conference Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Mzembi made a statement to the House on the United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO] Conference to be co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia at Victoria Falls in October 2013. He outlined the Government’s plans for making the event a success.

Motions There was lively debate on motions in the House of Assembly which sat longer than usual hours.

Price of cotton The House approved a motion by Hon Bhasikiti-Chuma of ZANU-PF referring to the plight of cotton growers and calling on the Government to fix the price of cotton “so that cotton farmers can benefit from the land reform”. MPs from all sides supported the motion in a debate taking up all of Tuesday afternoon’s lengthy sitting.

Peaceful Pre and Post-Elections Transition On Wednesday Hon Chitando of MDC-T proposed a motion calling on the Government to put in place mechanisms to ensure a peaceful pre and post-election transition, and urging SADC and the AU to ensure that their member states subscribe to the ethos of African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The motion was fully debated and supported on all sides; it was approved on Thursday after further discussion.

In the Senate

PLC adverse reports On Tuesday the whole sitting was devoted to consideration of the Parliamentary Legal Committee’s adverse reports on six statutory instruments. The reports were presented by PLC chairperson Hon Mushonga. No vote was taken and debate will continue when the Senate resumes. [For a list of the SIs concerned see Bill Watch 24/2012 of 6th June.]

Motions New motions were introduced on the following:

Public Service ghost workers Senator Makore introduced a motion expressing concern over the lack of expeditious response to the reports of ghost workers within the Public Service and calling on the Public Service Ministry to clean up the payroll and report to Parliament as a matter of urgency.

Remuneration of teachers Senator Chief Musarurwa introduced a motion referring to the low remuneration of teachers and urging the Government to take appropriate measures to alleviate their plight.

Report on the International Women’s Conference on Women and Technology, held in Bangalore, India, in February 2012.

Report on the Conference of the African Parliamentary Union [APU] held in Khartoum, Sudan .

Thematic Committee report on the indigenisation and empowerment policy which was presented by the acting chairperson of the Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment, Senator Hlalo [available from].

Thematic Committee report on access to clean water in Masvingo and Bulawayo [available from].

Government Gazette of 22nd and 29th June

[NOT available from Veritas unless otherwise stated]

Customs duty Four statutory instruments were gazetted:

a new customs tariff [SI 111/2012] and new surtax tariff [SI 112/2012]

suspensions of duty for the purposes of section 9J of the main regulations [SI 113/2012]

suspensions of duty for three specified mining companies for periods of 3 or 5 years [SI 114/2012]

Collective bargaining agreement – 2012 minimum wages for the leather and shoe, sports equipment, animal skin processing and taxidermy, and leather goods manufacturing sector [SI 115/2012]

Local authority by-laws – Chitungwiza service charges [SI 117/2012] and rents [SI 118/2012].

Firewood, timber and forest produce controls SI 116/2012, effective from 2nd July, contains detailed regulations made under the Forest Act by the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management and designed to protect Zimbabwe’s trees. Firewood sellers and traders, timber traders and farmers using firewood for flue-curing or flame-curing tobacco will need licences to cover their activities. The use of msasa, munhondo, mopane and certain other trees for curing tobacco is prohibited except under stringent conditions. Persons transporting or exporting more than half a cubic metre of firewood or timber will need a permit. Licences and permits will be issued at district level by Forestry Commission officials or local authority officials authorised by the Commission. In addition to criminal penalties for breach of the regulations, control measures include provision for seizure, pending court proceedings, of both wood and vehicles used to transport it that may be liable to forfeiture on conviction.

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

COURT WATCH 11/2012 of 30th June [Cases of Alleged Torture]


[30th June 2012]

Two Cases of Alleged Torture by Police Officers

To mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, this bulletin draws attention to two recent court cases in which the State has prosecuted police officers for conduct that can be defined as “torture”.

Zimbabwe has been accused for many years of allowing members of the police force, the Defence Forces and the Central Intelligence Organisation, youth militias, and members and supporters of ZANU-PF, to enjoy impunity for violence perpetrated on persons perceived as opposition supporters, including acts undoubtedly constituting torture or inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment. These two cases suggest that cracks in that impunity may be developing, and with them the prospect of a more even-handed application of the law by the police and prosecuting authorities.

Two Criminal Cases against Police Officers

1. Policewomen convicted of assaults described by press as “torture”

A recent press story about the criminal trial of three women police detectives in Bulawayo headlined it as a case of “torture”. The headline was understandable – the alleged conduct of the police officers certainly fitted the use of the word “torture”. The three detectives subjected two women they had picked up on suspicion of theft to brutal assaults, apparently in an effort to extract confessions. The assaults included beating them on the soles of their feet with pieces of wood and batons. There is a word for this extremely painful process – ‘falanga”, which the dictionary defines as “a form of torture which consists of beating the soles of the victim’s feet with a solid object, which disables the victim and minimises the risk of escape”. But that was only part of the mistreatment. The two women were also beaten elsewhere on their bodies, causing numerous bruises. A sjambok and an empty soft drink bottle were used as well as pieces of wood and batons. One victim sustained a broken leg, with permanent disability. The other ended up with a broken arm. After their beating, they were detained for two days at Bulawayo Central police station and denied food, water and medical treatment. Only after their release without charge could they be taken to hospital for necessary attention.

The police officers were two weeks ago convicted of assault under section 89 of the Criminal Law Code, and sentenced to pay fines of $200 each; they were given until 27th June to pay, failing which they will have to serve four months’ imprisonment.

2. Senior police officer on trial for murder and assault following acts described by the press as “torture”

In a case which came before the High Court on circuit in Mutare this week, a police chief superintendent is being tried for [1] murder, for causing the death of a suspected illegal diamond panner and [2] assault of three other members of the deceased’s family also taken into police custody accused of illegal panning. The charges are based on the officer’s alleged brutal assaults on all the victims after they had been handed over to police in the Chiadzwa area by diamond mine security guards who claimed to have caught them red-handed in the act of panning for diamonds. The victims had apparently claimed that as residents of the area they were digging a shallow well to obtain water for domestic purposes. The State case is that the accused officer perpetrated the assaults to extract confessions or to punish the suspects for attempting to find diamonds. One of the victims died in a police holding cell shortly afterwards. The others survived; and one of them has testified to having suffered lasting disability as a result of the police officer’s assault. Reports of this case, too, have understandably carried headlines using the word “torture”. This case is continuing in the coming week.

The two cases prompt the question why conduct amounting to torture is not prosecuted as “torture”, but as assault or some other offence.

Torture and Zimbabwean Criminal Law and Law of Evidence

Criminal law: The reason for charging the police chief superintendent with murder is obvious. But, if conduct amounting to torture is unlawful in Zimbabwe – as it undoubtedly is – why were the other charges in these two cases for the crime of assault rather than for “torture” as such? The answer is that Zimbabwean law does not have a criminal offence specifically called “torture”. There is no crime of that name in the Criminal Law Code or in any other Act of Parliament. [Nor was there a crime of that name in the non-statutory Roman-Dutch criminal law that was replaced by the Criminal Law Code when it came into force in July 2006.]

This does not mean that acts amounting torture are not punishable as crimes. They are – but as the crime of assault, indecent assault, aggravated indecent assault, rape, murder, etc – depending on the what the perpetrator did to his or her victim. [We may, at some future stage, find ourselves with a new offence, specifically called “torture”, when Zimbabwe becomes a party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, but for the time being acts of torture will be prosecuted under other names.]

For police officers specifically, conduct amounting to torture is a serious disciplinary offence under the Police Act, which amongst other things condemns “using unnecessary violence towards, or neglecting or in any way ill-treating any person in custody or other person with whom he or she may be brought into contact in the execution of his or her duty”. Again, however, the word “torture” is not used.

Law of evidence: The abhorrence of what can be described as torture in Zimbabwe is also exemplified by a rule in the law of evidence. In a criminal trial the court will not accept evidence of a confession or statement extracted from an accused person by any form of duress [which includes torture, although the word torture is not normally specified in formulations of the rule. If duress is alleged, the prosecution must satisfy the court it did not take place. A celebrated example of the application of this rule in practice occurred in the early years after Independence during the High Court trial of senior Air Force officers accused of complicity in sabotage leading to the destruction of Air Force planes. The accused officers said the confessions attributed to them had been extracted by acts of extreme torture. The presiding judge, Justice Dumbutshena – later to be the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe – held a “trial within a trial” to determine the admissibility of the confessions. Having heard evidence on the point, the judge refused to admit the confessions into evidence because he found they had been extracted by torture. He went on to acquit the accused officers as there was no other evidence connecting them with the sabotage.

Torture in the Zimbabwe Constitution

The present Constitution’s Declaration of Rights outlaws torture: “No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other such treatment.” [Constitution, section 15(1).] No definition of torture is provided, which means that it is for the courts, and particularly the Supreme Court, to say authoritatively what does and does not constitute torture. No derogation from this constitutional protection against torture is permitted, even in time of emergency or war – which means, for example, that no Act or regulation, and no order by the President or any other Government official, can authorise the commission of conduct amounting to torture.

This constitutional provision does not make torture a criminal offence. Nor, for that matter, does the Constitution create any other criminal offences. This is not the function of a constitution. Criminal offences are left to be created and penalties prescribed by or under Acts of Parliament. But the Declaration of Rights does provide, in section 24, for the enforcement of all its provisions, including section 15’s prohibition of torture, by order of the Supreme Court. Thus, section 24 allows any person who alleges that the Declaration of Rights has been contravened, or is likely to be contravened in relation, to him or her, to apply to the Supreme Court for “redress”; and it gives the Supreme Court extremely wide powers to make such orders and give such directions ”as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement of the Declaration of Rights”.

Section 24 was successfully invoked in another celebrated case by human rights activist and torture victim Jestina Mukoko, one of the 2008 abductees. In September 2009 the Supreme Court granted her a permanent stay of prosecution, ruling that her constitutional rights – including her right not to be subjected to torture – had been violated to such an extent by State security officials that she could not be prosecuted on the charges of which her tormentors had accused her. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s written reasons for judgment have never been provided, meaning that nearly three years later other courts, the legal profession, the police and prosecuting authorities, and the country are still awaiting the court’s guidance on such cases. Similar applications to the Supreme Court by other 2008 abductees indicted for trial are awaiting hearing.

Civil lawsuits for damages in cases of conduct amounting to torture

Independently of section 15 of the Constitution, ordinary Zimbabwean law recognizes conduct amounting to torture as a civil wrong for which victims of torture are entitled to sue for monetary damages from the perpetrators – and from those authorities vicariously liable for the actions of the perpetrators. Thus, the two complainants in the Bulawayo case discussed in this bulletin have already commenced legal action, against all three police officers for damages in their personal capacities and against the Government, for their medical expenses and the pain and suffering they endured at the hands of the policewomen. And Jestina Mukoko and seventeen other 2008 abductees have launched civil lawsuits claiming substantial damages for the wrongs they suffered; these cases are currently stalled, pending Judge-President Chiweshe’s decision on a Government application for the cases to be dealt with in groups rather than in separate trials.

The Draft New Constitution

In section 4.5 of its Declaration of Rights, the latest available draft constitution provides for the protection of persons from torture and inhuman and degrading punishment under “fundamental rights”: “No one may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The addition of the words physical and psychological is significant and an advance on the present constitution; there are instances where torture is not only physical but is manifested psychologically and the consequences of psychological torture can be as dire if not worse than physical torture. Also important is section 4.41, which makes spells out that the protection against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment is absolute and may not be derogated from: No law may limit the following rights enshrined in this Chapter, and no one may violate them ... (c) the right not to be tortured or subjected to inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment”. [Note: The final draft of the new constitution is not yet ready, but these provisions are unlikely to be changed, as they have not been identified as controversial by those objecting to aspects of the various drafts that have emerged from the constitution-making process.] But again criminal offences are left to be created, and penalties prescribed, by or under Acts of Parliament.

A Case for Zimbabwe’s Acceding to UN Convention against Torture

Zimbabwe has also been criticized for its failure to become a party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the later Optional Protocol to the Convention. But that may change relatively soon – during Zimbabwe’s recent Universal Periodic Review proceedings before the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa told the Committee that Zimbabwe will be acceding to this Convention.

Part 2 – The Convention and the Implications of Accession

Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.

Back to the Top
Back to Index