ZIMBABWE OPPOSITION MP TO FACE ONE YEAR IN JAIL Sat 31 July
JOHANNESBURG A parliamentarian of the Zimbabwe opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Roy Bennett, is facing a one year
jail sentence, following a recommendation by the parliamentary
On 19 May the Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, during a heated debate
called Bennett's forefathers "thieves and murderers'. An irate Bennett
pushed Chinamasa to the floor. ZANU PF minister Didymus Mutasa then kicked
Bennett, and another minister, Kembo Mohadi, tried to intervene but Bennett
pushed him away. He went for Mutasa and sent the minister tumbling to the
Sources close to the proceedings told ZimOnline from Harare
that the committee headed by a ZANU PF Kadoma lawyer and Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Paul Mangwana has completed its job and
"will report to parliament any time."
Under Zimbabwean law, it
is an offence for members of the committee or journalists to reveal findings
of a committee before it reports to parliament. There was no consensus on the
recommendation to send Bennett to jail and the matter was put to the vote,
resulting in the 4 ZANU PF committee members beating their 2 MDC
The sources could not say what recommendations were
made with regard to Mutasa and Chinamasa who were also involved in the
kicking and shoving in the house.
If Bennett is sent to prison
for a year he will automatically have to leave parliament. Under Zimbabwe's
laws parliamentarians lose their seats if they are sentenced to imprisonment
of six months or more. He has the right to appeal in a court of
During the controversial land reform process, Bennett's farm
was confiscated by the government despite six court orders against
the acquisition. ZimOnline
Internet too big for Zimbabwe to
control? Sat 31 July 2004
censors have significantly stepped up their efforts to control the internet
but web users increasingly find ways to circumvent the Great Fire Wall
Beijing security agencies are trying to build.
backdrop of plans by the Zimbabwe government to buy state of the art
technology from China to bug cyberspace, as reported by ZimOnline on Friday,
ZimOnline searched the internet for information on how they do it in the Far
Reports from the Chinese capital claim that the
internet police force known as the Big Mamas numbers up to 40,000. Such a
large contingent of staff is obviously needed to block e-mails, search
for keywords and filter out thousands of web pages considered a threat
to China's security. And the capital costs are immense: experts estimate
that new surveillance equipment installed in 2002 was worth
US$ 200 million.
The Big Mamas concentrate on blocking access
to foreign human rights and dissident sites. Reports from China say that the
operation is run by the Ministry of State Security very much to the
embarrassment of the Foreign Ministry that denies its
A first line of defence against the gagging was
the installation of proxy servers that allow users to bypass firewalls
erected by censors around 'dangerous' websites. These did not work: it takes
just thirty minutes to discover such a proxy server and block
But for two years now there has been new software on the
market which could spoil the game for the censors. It is called 'Roaming
without Borders', can easily be downloaded, and allows users to surf freely.
The software is said to be getting better continuously and make it
impossible for the authorities to trace the provider.
some cases public outrage forced the censors to open up a site again. When
they shut down the Chinese version of the search engine 'Google' in 2002,
business people, scientists, researchers and students complained furiously.
After only one week, the censors gave in and allowed unhindered access to the
Cyber activists are optimistic they will win
their fight against the censors, quoting Chairman Mao: 'The course of the
battle is determined not by machines but people'. In view of the Zimbabwe
authorities' plans, experts argue that the internet could prove just too big
for them to control. ZimOnline
Harare blocks aid for internal refugees Sat 31 July
HARARE The Zimbabwe government is blocking humanitarian aid
to farm workers evicted from farms during its controversial land reform
process, Refugees International (RI) said in a report.
Washington-based RI said investigations by the organisation had revealed that
the government had barred several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) from
providing health and food aid to these displaced people, resulting
in the worsening of a hidden but severe humanitarian
Most of the former farm labourers, some of Malawian and
Mozambiquan origin, were leading destitute lives after being displaced from
their former working places, the report noted.
still staying at occupied farms were threatened with eviction by new settlers
if they accepted humanitarian aid from donor organisations, the report added.
The RI report followed a visit to Zimbabwe by two RI advocates, Sarah
Martin and Andrea Lari, who interviewed former farm workers and
donor organisations involved in assisting them.
The minister of
public service, labour and social welfare said the report was false. Paul
Mangwana said most farm labourers had found employment with new farmers,
adding that the country was in fact facing an acute labour shortage in the
'It is an unfair report that is devoid of truth. We
have had a good season and there is no single former farm worker who is in
need of humanitarian assistance. Actually my ministry has been flooded with
calls from farmers who are seeking labourers. This means everyone has
been absorbed into the new farming system,' Mangwana said
Before the land reform about 1 million people earned
their living on farms, representing 30 percent of the country's active
working force. But 80 percent of these lost their jobs following mass land
seizures from white farmers for distribution to the majority black
The RI report noted that efforts by donor organisations
to provide relief to former farm workers were being frustrated by government
red tape. 'The Government of Zimbabwe, both at national and local levels, is
setting barriers to access for humanitarian agencies. By progressively
reducing the operational space of humanitarian agencies, the government is
preventing assistance from reaching those who need it.'
'The government has begun instituting new administrative requirements such as
signing new memorandums of understanding that restrict access, demanding two
weeks advance notice for field visits, and requesting personal details on
staff. Many operational agencies are treated with suspicion by the government
and their access is blocked.'
NGOs in Zimbabwe told RI in
confidential interviews that the government was deliberately blocking
assistance to former farm workers. 'Some NGOs claim that they are targeted
for harassment (by the government) because their work with displaced
populations threatens to show that the land reform program has been
unsuccessful in addressing inequity in land ownership. The crisis has a
political dimension as well, as the ruling party, ZANU PF, has targeted the
farm workers as a potential political base for the opposition.'
Thriving business in fake Botswana passports for
Zimbabweans Sat 31 July 2004
RAMOKGWEBANA BORDER POST / BOTSWANA
- An immigration officer takes a long look at the faded passport, tracing its
worn edges with one finger.
Then he looks up at the woman before
him, searching her face. She shuffles uneasily, heavy luggage strapped to her
back. The official's gaze returns to the document one last time before he
stamps it and nods, granting the weary traveller the right to cross into
Botswana. As she walks away her step is noticeably faster, and lighter, than
when she first approached the checkpoint.
Grace (not her real
name) is one of many Zimbabweans who buy Botswana passports in an attempt to
escape what she calls harassment by immigration officials and other law
enforcers. 'What drove me to buy the Botswana passport is the amount of
suspicion, and problems, associated with the Zimbabwean document. The moment
someone sees you have a Zimbabwean passport they assume, or suspect, you are
in Botswana for all the wrong reasons,' explains Grace.
escape torture', she had no alternative but to buy a Botswana passport for
half a million Zimbabwe dollars, or P500 (two-and-a-half times the average
monthly income in Zimbabwe). She says the price - while excessive, by
Zimbabwe standards - is worth every cent because it guarantees her peace of
She's been living in the country, illegally, for three years
and has become conversant in the local language, SeTswana. That, in turn,
makes it difficult for officials to detect she is a foreigner.
Yet there's no denying that her being the bearer of the correct (albeit
false) documentation helps. 'At the border post you do not have to bother
about long queues,' smiles Grace, adding 'Botswana citizens to not have to
Some locals say Botswana's economic prosperity and
political stability has an unforeseen cost: it is attracting thousands of
Zimbabwean - and other - refugees, who are fleeing either political or
economic hardship in their homelands.
Grace says locals are
equally to blame. She maintains Batswana sell their own passports to a
syndicate, which reportedly operates from outside the Gaborone offices of the
Department of Immigration.
Citizens sell their passports for as
little as P100 (ZIM $150,000) to a network of underground buyers, most of
whom are either locals or South Africans. Previous owners then report to
officials, claiming their passports have been 'lost'.
documents are then smuggled into South Africa, where changes - including the
addition of a photograph, portraying the new earer - are made. Botswana
citizen Michael Mogomotsi (not his real name) acknowledges he is aware of the
syndicate, adding there is a 'thriving market', as he puts it, for the
He told ZimOnline South Africa has the
sophisticated technology needed to swap snapshots and replace the plastic
seal which incorporates security features like the Botswana coat of arms.
'When the passports are brought back to Botswana it's difficult to spot the
Members of the syndicate prefer older passports. 'This',
says Mogomotsi, 'is because it is easier for immigration officials to
detect changes on new documents'.
Grace admits to assisting
fellow countrymen and -women in obtaining Botswana passports. But it is not
only Zimbabweans who want the document. Grace says she knows Zambians, for
example, who are also loyal customers of the syndicate.
the reasons for the Botswana passport's popularity is the fact that its
bearers do not require a visa when travelling to most
countries abroad. 'Soon the passports will be smuggled to Zimbabwe
too, to be sold to those intending to visit either Britain or America,' says
Farai Chiroza, a Zimbabwean citizen. He predicts the situation will remain
unchanged, if not worsen, unless the economic and political conditions in his
birthplace improve. In short, Chiroza says, people are 'desperate to escape
But the future, at least for prospective passport
purchasers, is not rosy. A Senior Immigration Officer, who requested
anonymity, says Botswana authorities are investigating the syndicate. He adds
his department is busy creating a passport that will be increasingly more
difficult for criminals to forge or alter. ZimOnline
Apathy dogs voter registration in Zimbabwe Sat 31 July
BULAWAYO - Drill Hall is not just one of the biggest police
stations in Zimbabwe's second largest city. A section of the station is home
to the main government registry. It is here where prospective voters queue,
in order to ensure their names appear on the voters' roll, alongside
those seeking identity papers and passports.
A 30-year-old man,
who only identified himself as Mufakose, was amazed at the speedy
registration process earlier this week. Clutching his personal documents in
one hand, he told ZimOnline he was surprised to find 'almost no queue' at
In less than 10 minutes he was done, having completed
a process that causes much anxiety when it is left to the last minute before
Political scientist John Makumbe estimates there are
about 4-and-a-half million Zimbabweans old enough to vote. Out of these,
just under 3 million are expected to cast their ballots in the March
2005 parliamentary poll.
Makumbe says there are indications that
many Zimbabweans will be deliberately disenfranchised as a result of ZANU
PF's tampering with the voters' roll. He explains that 'the voters' roll has
shrunk considerably, which means the majority of people in the country, if
they don't re-register, they might find themselves unable to
Reluctance by the registrar-general to release the
electronic version of the roll can be linked to such intentions, alleges the
University of Zimbabwe lecturer. 'A lot of people who voted in 2000, or even
in 2002 (during presidential elections), will find their names missing from
the document if they don't register now.'
registration was among the shortcomings noted by election observers in the
disputed 2000 parliamentary poll as well the 2002 presidential
Local observers say the requirement that urban voters
produce passports and utility bills to prove they had lived in their
respective constituencies for the previous 12 months discriminated against
both the young and poor. Postal votes are restricted to diplomats and members
of the armed forces, disenfranchising millions of Zimbabweans living
In rural areas local chiefs and village heads, often seen
as being pro-government, are required to vouch for anyone registering to
Although there are no indications that the irregularities
during the last elections will not recur, the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) says it is trying to generate enthusiasm among its
supporters for the process to persuade them to register.
However, if Mufakose's account of very short queues is anything to go by, the
MDC might still have a lot of work to do.'
'I think there is an
erroneous thinking in MDC quarters that they'll encourage their people to
register nearer to the election,' says Makumbe. 'My own understanding is that
will be way too late for most people; the time to register is
The party's secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, recently wrote
to the government-run Electoral Supervisory Commission in charge of
voter registration and elections complaining about a 'lack of publicity
and confusion surrounding the mobile registration programme.'
response the Commission's spokesman, Thomas Bvuma, says this programme began
on 1 May and, while scheduled to end in June, was extended to 15 July.. He
adds that two or three mobile teams were deployed per district, depending on
the district's size.
Makumbe observes that 'mobile registration
was only in selected areas. The majority of the areas targeted were areas
where Zanu-PF is strongest, or assumed to be strongest.'
reports show the units mostly attracted misinformed members of the public who
wanted to apply for birth certificates or national Ids, and only a small
number were interested in registering to vote. 'I think it's really a lack of
publicity but also a massive dose of apathy. People see that their lot is not
changing. In fact, it is getting worse all the time.' Makumbe also
blames the MDC for its 'minimum action' in getting
Bvuma disputes claims of inadequate
publicity. He says the teams' itineraries were announced in the media, and
civic voter education units from his commission traveled ahead of the
registration teams, precisely to inform prospective voters. 'So in terms of
publicity, anyone saying there was no publicity is not telling the
But this is not much comfort to most of the country's civic
groups, many of whom have criticised the voter registration process as
lacking transparency and being cumbersome. The solution, they say, lies in
setting up independent bodies to run the elections. ZimOnline
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Jul 2004 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's worsening economic conditions were one of the
key reasons for the growing number of children on the streets, according to a
Results from an assessment of children living and working
on the streets in urban areas around the capital, Harare, showed that the
majority ended up here as a result of poverty, sexual or physical abuse and
Of the 450 children interviewed by Zimbabwe's National
Council for the Welfare of Children, with support from UN Children's Fund
(UNICEF), 58 percent had become homeless during the last year.
statement on Friday UNICEF said the assessment indicated that the number of
children in Harare and Chitungwiza, 35 km east of the capital, could be
higher than the current estimate of 5,000.
"It is still unclear exactly
how many children are on the streets, especially since they fall into several
categories. There are those who live on the streets permanently, and then
there are children who work on the streets during the day but return home at
night. Until a formal survey is done we cannot be sure of the numbers, but in
Harare alone there are at least 5,000 street children," UNICEF information
officer, Tich Chikowore, told IRIN.
"Often we find that parents are
unable to make ends meet. They don't have the money to pay school fees or
feed their children. These children then have to drop out of school and find
work on the streets. In some cases children leave home because they feel they
can survive better on their own," Chikowore added.
consumer inflation last month declined to just below 400 percent, ordinary
households are still unable to afford basic commodities.
stressed that physical and sexual abuse continued to be a major issue -
street children had often been sexually or physically abused at home and on
"Although many children have expressed the wish to return
home or be placed within a family, there are those who would rather stay on
the streets because they fear that they may encounter the same kind of
physical abuse which forced them to leave home in the first place," he
The assessment highlighted that more male than female children were
on the streets, and the highest number for both sexes was in the 14- to
18-year age group. Moreover, 55 percent of the children interviewed had no
One of the obstacles affecting intervention
programmes was a generally negative attitude to street
UNICEF noted that reactions to street children tended to be
"punitive", while "anti-social and delinquent behaviour is not considered in
its proper social and psychological context".
The children's agency
said interviews with childcare workers revealed that all programmes for
street children lacked adequate funding and skilled personnel, and
experienced problems with co-ordination between similar organisations.
Long Standing Zimbabwe Private School Faces Closure
Tendai Maphosa Harare 30 Jul 2004, 13:06 UTC
of Zimbabwe's oldest private schools could be the first casualty of a
standoff over fees between private schools and the Education Ministry. The
board of Eaglesvale Junior and High Schools has put the school on provisional
voluntary liquidation, which means the schools will close when they run out
of funds. The chairman of the board of trustees at the school, Deon
Theron, said they have been forced into taking what he called the drastic
step, as the school was struggling to make ends meet.
school, founded in 1911, is one of many that were earlier this year stopped
from starting the second term by the Education Ministry, which accused them
of raising their fees to exclude black pupils.
The schools only
opened after agreeing to fees set by the ministry. The ministry, however,
allowed parents who wished to to make donations to schools.
Theron says the school received a letter from the ministry earlier this month
accusing the school authorities of demanding donations and ordering that it
refund the money. To date, Mr.Theron says only 15 parents have demanded their
money back. He says it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the
standards at the school without running high debts it may be unable to
The school opted for provisional liquidation meaning it can
reverse the decision to close down the school, if the situation changes. Mr.
Theron says the fees set by the ministry were unrealistic. But, he says,
dialogue with the ministry and an agreement to increase fees is the only way
the school can remain open.
He dismissed the allegations that
the schools were trying to keep out black pupils, saying that, of the
approximately 1,000 pupils at the coed institution 70 percent of the junior
pupils are black, while 80 percent of the high school students are
Most of Zimbabwe's elite, including government ministers,
prefer to send their children to private schools.
HARARE - A
Zimbabwe court Friday postponed until later this year a ruling in the case in
which four directors of the popular independent Daily News are charged with
illegally publishing the newspaper.
Directors Samuel Nkomo, Brian Mutsau,
Rachel Kupara and Michael Mattinson were ordered to return to court on
September 20, when the magistrate is expected to rule on whether or not to
dismiss the case against them.
It was the second time this month a ruling
The four were charged last year with publishing the
country's most popular daily without permission from the official media
commission, as required under strict press laws.
The Daily News has
only managed to publish a few editions since its forced closure by armed
police in September last year.
Zimbabwe's press laws, introduced shortly
after President Robert Mugabe won a second term in office in 2002, have been
condemned by rights activists as draconian.
ZCU official acused of trying to influence elections
July 30, 2004
Ozais Bvute, the Zimbabwe Cricket
Union board member who is no stranger to controversy, is again at the centre
of a row after it was alleged that he offered Vumindaba Moyo a job within the
ZCU so that Moyo would campaign for him in Matabeleland, where Bvute wanted
to become chairman.
Bvute's sudden interest in provincial cricket
politics is thought to have come about after it became clear that local
associations had the power to dismiss the ZCU board. Another controversial
member of the board - Max Ebrahim, who was previously chairman of the
Mashonaland Cricket Association - went out of his way to became chairman of a
little-known province called Masvingo, in what was seen by many as a bid to
prevent him being usurped by those opposing the ZCU.
aspirations in Matabeleland were not helped by the fact that he has almost no
support there, hence the approach to the influential Moyo, a leading
candidate to become chairman and an opponent of much the ZCU has done of
late. In return for the job, the intention was that Moyo would influence the
clubs to back Bvute. But a local source said that Moyo dismissed the
approach, going so far as to tell the middle man to "go to hell".
helps to explain the background to the chaos which surrounded
the Matabeleland Cricket Association AGM held at Queens Sports Club in
Bulawayo on June 26 when Bvute, accompanied by the Mashonaland Cricket
Association chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani and general manager Givemore Makoni,
effectively hijacked the meeting. Moyo and his supporters walked out, and
even when they came back they refused to stand for any post on the
Sources claim that Bvute telephoned Moyo after the meeting and
tried to distance himself from the job offer, but Moyo was left deeply
unimpressed. Several administrators in Matabeleland have confirmed that Bvute
did make a specific approach to try to influence Moyo. Attempts to contact
Bvute for a comment were unsuccessful.
Recently, the ZCU constitution
was amended to give provinces four slots on the board. The provincial
chairmen of Matabeleland and Mashonaland automatically become ZCU board
members, while the provinces also nominate two individuals to be on the
The ZCU holds a crucial AGM in Harare on Friday, August 6, and it
is yet to be seen whether Bvute and Ebrahim, who are thought by many to be
the key figures in instigating and fuelling the current crisis in which 15
rebel players refused to play for Zimbabwe, will still be on the board after
Zim 70 get their day in court 30/07/2004 08:54 -
Zimbabwe - Shackled and handcuffed in pairs, the 70 men sporting
bushy beards and khaki prison uniforms shuffle silently into a barn-like
building surrounded by barb wire fences and imposing walls.
It is here
in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison that the magistrate's court sits in
judgement over the suspected mercenaries arrested almost five months ago on
charges of plotting a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
between lanes of trees on the outskirts of Harare, the heavily guarded prison
farm is home to the 70 men living among hundreds of inmates considered
Zimbabwe's most dangerous criminals.
It is a huge security complex with
the first entrance gate located about 1km from the actual prison building
which is surrounded by stretches of bush and trees and streets battered with
A group of guards dressed in camouflage uniforms with rifles
casually swinging from their shoulders stares suspiciously at visitors and
signals them where to stop their vehicles for the first of three car
searches leading into the compound.
"There is no way you can escape
out of this place," Jerry Carlse, the brother of former soldier Harry Carlse,
one of the accused, said.
The barb wire fences and walls topped with
razor wire are 10m high.
'Shabby' from the outside
with its old-fashioned pale blue prison trucks might seem shabby from the
outside, but it is constantly patrolled by dozens of guards who regard any
visitor as an intruder.
For the families, the trial twice-postponed and
now adjourned until August 18 has been a test of nerves.
members have spent the past months battling Zimbabwe's prison bureaucracy to
secure visits and deliver groceries and warm clothes to the men.
of them have resorted to bribes using anything from cash, packets of South
African dried meat, a delicatessen known as "biltong", and even cellphones to
be able to visit their relatives.
Last week, prison guards imposed a new
rule on them: They are not to park inside the security complex any more. They
have to walk almost a kilometre to the building.
lawyers are permitted to drive in but have been forbidden to give the family
members a lift.
Amid the gloom of Chikurubi, the wives and brothers of
the 'Harare 70' indulge in some humour.
"Hey, I read in this morning's
papers your husband's going to get 15 years!," one says in jest.
gives me enough time to find a new husband," the other quips as they eat
their wrapped sandwiches while waiting the usual two to four hours in the
parking lot before being allowed inside.
Inside the makeshift court, the
men shuffle in slowly in three separate groups and take their seat on the
rickety wooden benches laid out.
The suspected mercenaries including
their alleged leader Briton Simon Mann were arrested on March 7 at Harare
airport where they had arrived from South Africa to pick up weapons which
they say were meant for security work on mines in the Democratic Republic of
Most of them broad-shouldered and visibly fit, they appear
relaxed, some leaning nonchalantly against the walls while others lock their
gaze on their wives.
After nearly five months in the prison fortress,
the men appear to hold out few expectations.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect
the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 30 Jul 2004 (IRIN) -
Saddled with a reputation for being incompetent, brutal and politically
partisan, police in Southern Africa have a long way to go to win the battle
against escalating crime, and the trust of the communities they are supposed
Communities with a "generations-old mistrust of the police;
high numbers of children and youth, many of whom are already or are in danger
of becoming AIDS orphans; a general increase in the levels of crime
internationally; a proliferation of arms; legacies of colonial policing and
poor training; and high illiteracy levels are all just some of the many
challenges facing policing and crime prevention in the SADC [Southern Africa
Development Community] region," noted a report by the Montreal-based
Canadian International Crime Prevention Centre.
"Arbitrary arrest and
illegal detention are abuses common to almost the whole region," Amnesty
International said in a 2002 survey of police practices.
"Police often arrest people before they have built up
any evidence. They evade obligations under national laws to bring detainees
before a court of law within a specified period of time. They may conceal the
whereabouts of a detainee from family and lawyers. The arrested suspect is
then at risk of a 'confession-orientated' investigation, in which the police
simply seek the information they need, sometimes simply in order to conclude
their 'investigation' and often by torturing the suspects," Amnesty
"Compounding the problem is the weakness of police procedures,
including proper record-keeping at police stations, to guard against these
abuses," the report added.
Constable John Tafanana (not his real
name), based in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, told IRIN it was common
practice to torture suspects, but said part of the problem was the pressure
put on police by their senior officers.
"Our chefs [superiors] are to
a large extent to blame, because they put a lot of pressure on us, insisting
that there is overwhelming evidence against the suspects. As a result, we
have to resort to beatings so that they [the suspects] confess," he
"Certain forms of torture are associated with certain countries,"
the Amnesty report noted. "Suffocation with the inner tube of a tyre or
a plastic bag has been reported in Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and,
less frequently, Botswana. It is hard to detect medically in survivors.
In Zambia, kampelwaor the 'swing' is reportedly a common torture
method. Victims have their hands tied or handcuffed behind their back and
their feet tied together. They are then suspended from a metal bar by their
bound hands and feet, and beaten as they 'swing'.
"A similar method of
torture, referred to as the 'helicopter', was once notorious among members of
the former Security Branch in apartheid South Africa and has also been
reported in Swaziland. This similarity of methods across different countries
raises the troubling issue of how police officers learn torture techniques,"
Because prosecution systems are heavily reliant on
confessions, skills of detection and crime prevention across the region are
neglected, stressed the Canadian report, 'The Future for Policing and Crime
Prevention in SADC'. This unsophisticated and outdated approach has left
countries ill equipped to deal with the new challenges of organised and
increasingly global crime.
Police urgently need to be provided with "the
necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to be able to undertake thorough
research in order to analyse crime trends, generate profiles of victims and
offenders, and identify other key information that allows for the effective
combating of crime through appropriate and relevant criminal policies and
crime prevention programmes," the report said.
The role of police in Southern Africa historically was to
maintain colonial, or white minority rule. Few resources were allocated for
local policing and crime prevention, which took a back seat to "law and
order", preserved by often paramilitary-style police
Apartheid South African police were notorious for their
repression, as were the pre-independence Namibian and Zimbabwean police
forces. In Mozambique and Angola, "policing and crime prevention were
situated in the context of a civil war", the Canadian report noted. While the
"transformation of the police is on the agenda of many of these countries, in
real terms little has been done to democratise the institutions
Political manipulation of the police subverts the rule of
law and undermines the professionalism of officers, Amnesty warned. Across
the SADC region, governments are "misusing the police to suppress public
meetings, demonstrations or campaigning by opposition parties and government
critics. In the majority of countries in the region, police harass, disrupt
or discourage the activities of opposition leaders, trade union
officials, youth activists, human rights monitors and journalists", the
The Royal Swaziland Police Force, as its name suggests,
exists primarily to protect and serve the royal family. "Swaziland is a
police state, and the police's main job is to enforce the ban on political
opposition parties, and protect the royal family," alleged Ntombi Nkhosi,
chairwoman of the women's branch of the outlawed political party, the Ngwane
National Liberatory Congress.
In Zimbabwe, as in much of the rest of
the region, the police are often regarded as serving the interests of the
government rather than the public. "The Zimbabwean police see themselves as a
body outside of the community. They are based in barracks and are very
militarised, and do not mix with civilians, to remain detached and
'uncorrupted'. It's a very different mindset," said Ted Leggett, a researcher
with the Pretoria-based Institute for Strategic Studies.
crime rates are often associated with social change, for example the wave of
democratisation that occurred in the 1990s. "High and rising crime levels are
common for governments in transition, and this is certainly true in the SADC
region where countries face the added handicap of being part of the
developing world, as well as being situated in a region which has very porous
borders and high levels of organised and cross-border crime," the Canadian
study pointed out.
Under such conditions, "there is an increasing
pressure from the population on politicians and the police to do something
about crime. This means that police leadership are responding instinctively,
by going back to what they know best, and what they regard as having worked
in the past: reactive and often repressive policing tactics."
communities that regard themselves as under siege from criminals there can be
"nostalgia" and a "level of tolerance" for a more authoritarian approach.
According to Leggett, research in Johannesburg's inner-city district of
Hillbrow found that 75 percent of residents said they would be willing to
have their homes searched once a month if that would reduce
"The public are very willing to put up with violations
of their rights and, also, there is not a lot of knowledge of their rights,"
Leggett told IRIN. "Judges are also very willing to make allowances on behalf
of the police, who can get away with a lot."
THE NEED FOR
In the absence of effective policing, vigilantism has stepped in
to fill the vacuum in a number of communities across the SADC region, as has
the expansion of private security firms for the wealthy. The police
themselves are also a target of rising violent crime, with 185 officers
killed in South Africa in 2001.
"The police do not have enough
resources, such as vehicles, and the public and the media only look at the
faults and not the good things we are doing as police officers. These are
very serious challenges, which we will deal with," Malawi's police deputy
public relations officer, Kelvin Maigwa, told IRIN.
including human rights awareness, has long been on the agenda for police
forces in Southern Africa. But in an environment of limited resources, there
is an "opportunity cost", in which "greater expenditure in one aspect of the
criminal justice system invariably requires a reduction ... somewhere else",
the Canadian study observed. Resistance to changing the "organisational
culture" represented by the old guard of senior officers has also been
"Training alone will not achieve policing based on human
rights principles. It must be linked to the changes in the environment in
which police officers work," Amnesty pointed out. "Training should be
reflected in police standing orders and in the day-to-day instructions
received from supervisors", including law reform.
The Southern African
Police Chief's Cooperation Organisation, which encourages regional policing
initiatives, backs a transition to community policing with a focus on
problem-solving and social crime prevention. The key is to improve the
relationship between the police and local citizens.
The Malawi police
"have been undergoing reforms for over six years now. The reform programmes
have helped quite a lot," said Maigwa. "We changed the system of
interrogating suspects -previously we used to beat suspects so that they
revealed the information we wanted, but these days we use different
Botswana, Malawi and South Africa are among the countries
that have adopted community-policing approaches. "Through the police reform
programme, the communities have formed neighbourhood watches as one way of
helping us curb crime," Maigwa said. Other methods can include victim support
"Where local police have been reformed and have established a
reputation for respecting the rights of communities, police officers have
built the public confidence and civil cooperation necessary to prevent and
detect crime," Amnesty commented. However, the foundations are fragile.
"Unfortunately, such partnerships can be, and in some cases have been,
undermined by the use of the police for political
Community policing alone will not reduce crime if the
factors that give rise to crime are not addressed. The study by the Canadian
International Crime Prevention Centre stressed that the challenge was for the
police to adopt a more community-orientated approach, while "at the same time
effectively impacting on levels of crime and violence".
poverty, community frustration, decades of human rights violations, police
impunity and a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system has made the
process of reform that much harder.
Matikinye Last updated: 07/30/2004 23:35:58 DEVELOPMENT projects at a
scale and magnitude never witnessed for decades are underway in rural
Matabeleland, courtesy of a frustrated electorate's decision in 2000 to vote
for the opposition in the landmark election that nearly took the wind out of
the governing Zanu PF party's sails.
Earth moving equipment like
bulldozers, graders and compactors are rolling at full throttle in various
parts of rural Matabeleland clearing land and repairing roads, much to the
astonishment of peasants at the sudden turn of attention to their
Pumulani Njini (55) of Khumalo village near Lupane
business centre is vividly amazed: "If this kind of development had come to
us in the past people's lives would have long changed for the better. We hope
government can sustain the pace unlike in the past when projects have been
started and then abandoned before completion."
For the past 24 years,
aged Zanu PF leader, Robert Mugabe and his henchmen have sought to isolate
the region, after a dismal failure to cow residents of Matabeleland during
the genocidal anti-dissident campaign starting in 1982. An estimated 10 000
civilians lost their lives in its aftermath.
In the 2000 general
election, Mugabe's candidates suffered most humiliating electoral defeats in
Matabeleland region, where his party has always fared badly since
independence from Britain in 1980 on the back of his stoic refusal to
publicly apologize for unleashing the notorious Korean trained Fifth Brigade
Beginning with a disinvestment drive that resulted in
major companies relocating to the capital Harare away from Bulawayo where
they operated with comparative advantages, Mugabe sought to punish the
recalcitrant Ndebeles for not joining Zanu PF and for remaining committed to
PF Zapu in opposition to his cherished one-party state
Early this month Mugabe lamented the folly of his erstwhile
strategy. Addressing his party youths at their annual conference, he referred
to Bulawayo which used to be the industrial hub of Zimbabwe as "a
sleeping city" because of de-industrialization adding: "We must get in and
do away with those who want to sabotage us," he told youth
The Unity Accord signed between the late PF Zapu leader Joshua
Nkomo in 1987 with the core intention "for the two parties to work towards
the establishment of a one-party state in Zimbabwe" has done little to
appease residents of Matabeleland region. To the majority, except those
co-opted into the ruling elite who have benefited from token rewards, the
Accord has largely remained ceremonial.
"No one has derived benefits
from the Accord save for those awarded ministerial and senior posts in
Mugabe's state bureaucracy," argues Paul Siwela, leader of the fringe
opposition ZAPU party.
"That is why my party advocates for a federal
state allowing each region to use available resources to the best advantage
for its own development."
The Zambezi Water Project, a major pipeline
project that would have solved Bulawayo and most of the arid rural
Matabeleland perennial water problems as is the Gwayi-Shangani Dam has
remained fixated in the planning stages for years, although Zanu PF touts the
projects to stimulate a sense of government concern for electioneering each
time national polls are in the offing.
Now with hindsight, the
governing Zanu PF party has pulled all the plugs to endear itself with the
electorate in Matabeleland, who overwhelmingly spurned Robert Mugabe's party
in general and presidential elections in 2000 and 2002.
Who would have
thought a multi-billion dollar university would be built at a degenerate and
desolate rural trading station like Lupane despite overwhelming evidence of
stagnation at most of the growth points dotted around the 55 districts
Who would have imagined a multi-million investment in
infrastructure such as housing for state servants, modern water reticulation
system, modern office blocks and a dam would be carved out of scrubland in
preparation of establishing a town without an industrial base, about 140km
north of Bulawayo?
Both Matabeleland North and South in southwestern
and western Zimbabwe are now a bustle of activity in infrastructure
development, which includes roads, bridges, medium-sized dams and other
development projects ahead of general elections next year.
party is upbeat about its prospects of regaining rural seats it lost to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) particularly in Matabeleland,
which it had neglected for years in the vainglorious hope that residents of
the region would realize their mistakes of supporting opposition to Mugabe's
cherished one-party-state dream.
Progress and development have become the
catchphrase whenever Zanu PF has campaigned in Matabeleland
Whether it is commissioning a community project such as a
refurbished borehole or disbursing taxpayer's money to indigent rural
peasants or distributing international relief agencies food-hand-outs,
Mugabe's lieutenants have made it ritual to remind the electorate that they
would derive immense state benefits and attention by voting for Zanu PF and
For instance, during the campaign for the Lupane
by-election a month ago, deputy transport and communications minister Andrew
Langa and MP for the neighbouring Insiza constituency told to his party
candidate pointedly: "If you lose this election, I am going to remove all the
government equipment working on the Nkayi to Lupane road. That is the Zanu
The witless remark stunned the candidate, Martin Khumalo who went
on to plead with the electorate to vote for him if they wanted to see the
road completed in their lifetime, from then on.
Go into Matabeleland
South province and witness state employees literally putting their noses to
the wheel amid the whirr of earthmoving equipment as they labour putting
together the Guyu to Manama road, the Guyu-Gwanda-Maphisa road and the
Bulawayo-Kezi to Mpoengs road.
"We welcome the development projects,"
says 40-year old Sikhosana Mlilo of Gwalanyemba, in rural Matabeleland South.
"It appears government has realized we need better roads as much as people in
other parts of the country do. We are just like them," she added.
the Tsholotsho constituency where unelected government spin-doctor, Jonathan
Moyo has claimed a stake, the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho road is being widened to
embellish Moyo's chances in next year's elections.
And although Mugabe's
party won the recent Lupane election described by social commentator and
University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Heneri Dzinotyiwei as "a crucial test to
sound out the psyche of the rural voter ahead of election in March next
year," nearly 60 percent of the registered voters in this rural Matabeleland
constituency chose to ignore the poll, thereby snubbing Zanu PF's
carrot-and-stick promises of billions of dollars in development
Observers say the snub by the electorate could be
Said former combatant, Max Mkandla of the Zimbabwe
Liberators Peace Forum, a more progressive grouping of independence war
fighters: "It is difficult to asses the fickle nature of the rural voters.
But how both parties failed to convince the bulk of the electorate to go to
the polls still baffles me."
No one knows for sure whether the peasant
electorate in Matabeleland has been impressed by the sudden change of
government attitude towards its once neglected area.