JOHANNESBURG - The Zimbabwean military has placed anti-aircraft guns at
Harare International Airport, President Robert Mugabe's official residence
and at some of his private houses around the city.
The move comes after the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) advised
Mugabe that a squadron of the British Special Air Services (SAS) were
undergoing a field training exercise earlier this year on a farm in South
Africa's northern Limpopo province.
"The information was interpreted as an advanced preparation by Britain and
the United States to send in a commando team in order to kill him," says a
confidential report by Continental Business Management and Research
(CBM&R) - a Johannesburg-based risk management company.
Political observers linked this evidence of an increasing siege mentality on
the part of the aging dictator to the imminent mass protests by the
opposition MDC and Mugabe's recent panic-stricken calls for talks with his
arch-enemy, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"Mugabe is running scared. He is a terrified old man. There are no two ways
about it," said one commentator. "He obviously believes that he is under
threat both from without and within the country. This is ridiculous as
Britain has consistently denied any intention to 'invade' Zimbabwe. Its
troops are already over-stretched in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The re-location of the weapons systems, believed to included Zu-23 Anti
Aircraft cannonry and an as yet undescribed Surface-to-Air missile system,
were likely deployed to forestall any air insertion by commandos, says the
CBM&R report. The group's assessment is that once on the ground any
invading team would encounter little resistance from the Zimbabwean National
Army (ZNA) with around 10 000 effective soldiers and "a Presidential Guard
that failed abysmally at recent shooting range exercise in addressing target
boards set at 300 meters".
Soon after 'winning' the controversial 2000 elections Mugabe became
increasingly paranoid. He deployed soldiers and policemen to guard strategic
infrastructure such as bridges and railway lines in anticipation of what he
said was "an imminent British invasion". He even renamed his executive "the
The assessment says it is highly unlikely that South Africa would allow
British forces to use its territory as a forward base to mount any hostile
activity against neighbouring Zimbabwe - "given its policy of quiet
diplomacy under President Thabo Mbeki that is economically sustaining the
Zanu (PF) state".
A joint UK-USA raid was more likely to come from Botswana, where the United
States maintains a sizeable airbase as part of its strategic airlift
capability into Southern Africa. However, the report dismissed this as
unlikely because President Festus Mogae was engaged in the transfer of power
to the new leadership of Major General Seretse Ian Khama. - Staff reporter
BULAWAYO - Professor Welshman Ncube, the chief architect of the pro-Senate
faction of the opposition MDC, is quitting politics in 2010.
Ncube told CAJ News he would quit politics at the end of his term of office
as secretary-general of the pro-Senate MDC to concentrate on his legal
profession without political "disruptions and interruptions."
Prof Ncube's revelations come amid widespread sentiments that either he or
some of his associates probably misled Prof Arthur Mutambara on the strength
of their faction by giving him the false hope of making fast-track inroads
into national politics via their camp. Political analysts say Mutambara is
now trapped, unable to extricate himself from the mire.
"I am definitely going not to be available on the frontline role at the end
of this current term. The constitution of the MDC says that I can only stand
two terms as the secretary-general and I am serving my last term," said
These revelations could accelerate the downfall of the pro-Senate faction
because he is widely considered the leading figure in the faction ever since
the October 12 impasse. - CAJ News
LONDON - Torture survivors will share their experiences at a special service
at St Martins-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square on 26 June, to highlight the
dire situation in Zimbabwe and Sudan.
In Zimbabwe in 2005 there were 136 reported cases of torture and more than
4000 cases amounting to degrading and inhumane treatment. The service is
organised by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum who have held events since
2002 on June 26, the UN international day in support of victims of torture.
They have worked with the torture survivors' trust REDRESS and the Zimbabwe
Association. This year, in an attempt to put the occurrence of torture into
a wider African context, they are working with the Sudanese Organisation
Against Torture (SOAT).
A spokesperson for SOAT, Adowa Kufuor said: "The situation in Zimbabwe and
Sudan, with regard to systematic use of torture and the arbitrary use of
power by security officers is very similar." She added: "Arbitrary Arrests,
torture, cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment by state security apparatus
to extract alleged confession, legal oppression and political oppression are
all the hallmarks of both Zimbabwe and Sudan. These countries are
characterised by the government's complete disregard and contempt for
international law and conventions related to human rights."
Torture survivors and Human Rights defenders from both countries will speak
at the service, which begins at 17:30. After the service there will be a
procession to Zimbabwe House to lay flowers to emphasise the significance of
Speaking about the importance of June 26, Kufuor said: "This day reminds the
world of the fact that torture remains endemic in many countries as well as
providing support and acknowledgement of the pain and suffering undergone by
victims of torture." She added: "In addition, commemorating this day also
means assuring victims of torture and the perpetrators of such heinous acts
that the fight by individuals and organisations to secure justice for
victims and survivors and for the eradication of torture continues
BY VIOLET GONDA
A senior clergyman has revealed how Mugabe is using divide and rule tactics
to silence opposition from the clergy. Some clerics are allegedly attending
church meetings to spy for the government.
These allegations were made by Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube,
who said the church in Zimbabwe had generally lost credibility as a result
of the government meddling. Speaking on SW Radio Africa's Hot Seat programme
Archbishop Ncube said, "The Church has let down the people very greatly by
siding with Mugabe - hook, line and sinker."
The outspoken Roman Catholic cleric alleged that the Mugabe regime has also
used bribes to get support from some senior church leaders. "I can confirm
that a lot of money is being given to clerics and farms have been given to
senior clerics, to get them to the government side in such a way that when
we meet as clergy we can no longer be united."
Although he didn't want to name specific people who have received bribes,
saying it would become nasty and very personal, he did say church leaders
like Anglican Bishop Norbert Kunonga and a Pastor Msindo are well known for
having received a farm. The corruption also extends to clergymen in the
Catholic Church. The Archbishop said he was one of those people offered a
farm but refused. He said, "I am a respectable Catholic, so I refused. I
knew they wanted to silence me because I am critical of the land reform
programme which is not transparent."
Ncube said Mugabe was aware of the power of the churches in Zimbabwe and had
divided and bribed some of the leaders to the extent that "we have become
unfaithful to our calling. we as churchmen are supposed to stand with the
poor to defend the poor and we have forgotten our mission."
He said he'd rather be poor than accept the government's bribes because
there is a lot of suffering in Zimbabwe.
A group of church leaders from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) met
Mugabe at State House recently, where they threw their support behind the
Local press reports quoted the Secretary-General of the ZCC Densen Mafinyane
as having told Mugabe: "We love Zimbabwe and support your (government)
efforts." And ZCC President Bishop Peter Nemapare also sang praises of the
government. "We know we have a government that we must support, interact
with and draw attention (to concerns)," he said.
Responding to this Ncube said: "The leader of the ZCC is a staunch supporter
of Mugabe from time immemorial. I mean, he himself is a very corrupt person
who has misused church property and so on. Bishop Nemapare - clearly this
man has always been backing Mugabe. defending Mugabe and he is the one who
was leading this delegation."
He added, "It 's a very, very painful situation. and Mugabe is trying to
clean himself up and to try and laugh with those clerics, those hypocritical
clerics that are backing him. It's no laughing matter what is going on in
Zimbabwe. It's a life and death situation."
The cleric said the church should have done something as a united front way
back in 2000, "But as churches we kept dilly dallying and playing the card
of sovereignty of Zimbabwe - playing the card of patriotism being hoodwinked
in all sorts of ways and now we find ourselves in a situation where churches
have lost their credibility."
We were not able to get a comment from the 'compromised' church leaders. -
SW Radio Africa
Mealie emeal, refined, 5kg
Soap, hand, 100g
Soap, bath, 125g
Soap, bath, 250g
Soap, blue, 750g
Soap, brown, 500g
White flour, plain, 2kg
Brown flour, 2kg
Salt, table, 1kg
Salt, coarse, 1kg
Soya mince, 500g
LONDON - This year's Britain Zimbabwe Society Research Day, scheduled for
Saturday at St Antony's College, Oxford, will focus on displacement and
survival. The annual BZS Research Days have long aimed to facilitate
dialogue among those interested in Zimbabwe; this year's conference will
concentrate on the topical theme of displacement and survival - both in
Zimbabwe itself and in the diaspora.
The year 2006 marks a quarter-century of BZS, a non-partisan, non-profit
organisation founded in the wake of independence by Guy Clutton Brock,
Terence Ranger and others in order to promote good relations and
understanding between the peoples of Zimbabwe and Britain. This year's
conference will seek to ask questions related to the recent population
movements that have affected the lives of so many Zimbabweans.
Among the participants will be James Muzondidya of Cape Town University and
Canada-based Blair Rutherford, who will speak about the lives of the
mukwerekwere - members of the Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa.
Zimbabwean residents Bill Kinsey and Tony Reeler will give presentations
related to the histories and consequences of recent government 'urban
cleansing' in Zimbabwe, and the award-wining author Brian Chikawava will
read from his novel-in-progress - The Steak and Porridge Manifesto. - For
more information, contact JoAnn McGregor (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ranka
BY MARTINE STEMERICK
JOHANNESBURG - Three years ago, a man staggered into a church in downtown
Johannesburg. Abel* had not eaten for days. For months, he had been living
underground, walking only at night, pursued relentlessly by Mugabe's CIO.
(*not his real name)
Abel's feet were so badly tortured that he could not wear shoes, even though
it was the dead of winter. Hot wires pushed through his upper arms by a CIO
torture expert had destroyed many of the nerves.
Electrical shocks to his head and genitals left him mentally and physically
scarred for life. Gang rape in a torture camp destroyed tissues and muscles:
using the toilet was agony. Months later, Able began to experience night
sweats and weight loss. As a result of the rape, Abel is now HIV-positive.
He bears the physical and psychological scars of Robert Mugabe's evil
In South Africa, Abel was fortunate to find refuge at Central Methodist. "If
it had not been for Bishop Verryn, some of us would have died," he said.
Abel spent many months at Central Methodist in pastoral counselling with
Bishop Paul Verryn, who worked with human rights doctors and lawyers and
psychologists, documenting Abel's case for political asylum in South Africa,
based upon the torture he experienced in Zimbabwe.
Despite overwhelming evidence, Abel's application and subsequent appeals for
political asylum were rejected. He now faces deportation.
Abel is only one of the 700 victims of political and economic violence who
shelter nightly at Central Methodist. Because some are still hunted by the
CIO and others have been so badly traumatized that they fear contact with
journalists and photographers, no one from the press is allowed access
without the express permission of the Bishop Verryn and the asylum seekers
That sanctuary was rudely invaded last week by journalists and
photographers. A scuffle ensued. The work of the church was pilloried in the
press. Out of fear for his life, Abel has left Central Methodist.
Lest the world forgets, this is his testimony:
Hidden in the bush outside of ********, a government camp masquerades as a
military farm. Locals know to stay away. The farm is used as a torture camp
by Mugabe's army.
Picked up while trying to flee Zimbabwe, Abel spent 10 days at the hands of
Zanu (PF)'s brutal tormenters. Incarcerated in a dank basement, Abel found
ample evidence of the sufferings of previous victims. "You see a lot of
blood which is drying on the walls and even the skulls of people who have
already died there, so you know you are not the first one. Your life is not
"The thing that humiliated me most was when they bussed in these people and
I was stripped naked. They chanted a lot of their revolutionary songs."
He was trussed up like a pig on a make-shift crucifix: two poles across a
pit and one to bear his weight. "There is hot charcoal down there. When they
unwind the ropes and lower your body over the coals, you can feel the heat."
The youth were feasting on barbeque. They were drinking and taking drugs.
After whipping up the militia into a vicious mob, the debauched thugs were
set free "to do whatever they wanted with my body."
Bishop denies allegations of scandal
JOHANESBURG - Bishop Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church has denied
allegations that sexual abuse in return for a 'safe stay and food' is taking
place among the 700 Zimbabweans sheltered there (as reported in The
Zimbabwean last week).
The Bishop has sheltered many refugees fleeing from persecution and poverty
in Zimbabwe for years without much support from the South African
government, depending on donations from well-wishers and volunteers. He
interviews everybody who comes into the building himself.
Verryn has strict rules in place at the church, including no drinking, no
smoking of anything whatsoever, no fighting, no stealing, no sex and
compulsory attendance at church services.
He said he had personally removed drunken individuals from the building at
times and encourages residents to report any aggressive behaviour. He had
heard rumours about a rape incident but this was most unusual, he said.
Verryn did admit that there had been some minor theft but praised the
residents for getting on so well under extremely difficult circumstances. -
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
HARARE - Using its now time-honoured tactics of denial or distortion - or
both, the state media glossed over a recommendation by a parliamentary
committee that Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) should be restructured
and other broadcasters allowed to operate.
"Instead of raising fundamental questions about why it is taking so long to
licence new broadcasters, the government-controlled media merely focussed on
the poor pay of its journalists," the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
(MMPZ) noted in its report covering May 29-June 4.
"Further they did not question the impression that reverting to the old ZBC
structures would solve the problems at the broadcaster, which apart from
lack of profitability and poor programming, suffers from grossly biased
editorial manipulation and interference from the authorities," the watchdog
Thus, the state media continued to maintain that the European Union imposes
sanctions, despite chapter and verse evidence from diplomats that it does
not; and it continued to pretend that the regime's latest economic revival
programme, with its mouthful of initials and not much else, was some kind of
an answer to the economic crisis.
For example, the introduction of the $100 000 bearer cheque - evidence, if
more were needed, or hyperinflation and an economy in meltdown. The state
media let pass without question the official reasoning that the note is
meant "to ensure convenience to the public."
The small private media, MMPZ said, did critically examine the economic
crisis and all its manifestations - from the survival prospects of a new
fuel deal with a French bank, through the currency and the continued
investor-scaring threats to seize without compensation large parts of
foreign owned mining operations.
The Zimbabwe Independent said the new note had given "away the lie by the
authorities" and had "awakened Zimbabweans to the realities of a deep-seated
economic disaster caused by increased money supply growth."
The paper then traced the disastrous money-printing to state borrowing for
grain and fuel imports, and simply printing to pay US dollars to offset the
International Monetary Fund debt.
The state media did its best to ignore the proposed law on mines. The
Standard, in contrast, reported that RioZim Ltd. had frozen a US$120 million
investment. The paper quoted company chairman Eric Kahari this would result
in a diamond project wining down production in 2009, and that conditions
were not conducive to investment.
Censorship was also the state media's way of dealing with international
efforts to find a solution to the political and economic crisis, said MMPZ.
The state-run Herald carried just one report on the proposed visit by UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and this muddled the essence of the visit,
quoting an official as saying the visit was in connection with the urban
clearances and "might no longer be relevant."
The private media failed to established fully the authorities' position on
an Annan visit, said MMPZ. However, the Daily Mirror and Financial Gazette
both reported that Annan was determined to come despite the regime's
The Independent said the UN had recalled its Harare envoy for consultations
because of the standoff. It also reported on growing official disquiet in
South Africa, quoting Vice President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as saying the
Zimbabwe crisis "had to be solved urgently."
MASVINGO - Residents here have launched their own community radio station,
Wezhira Community Radio Station. They elected Micah Zinduru as chairperson
and Energy Bara, deputy chairperson. The main objectives of this station
will be to give the people of Masvingo a voice in line with the provisions
of the Broadcasting Services Act that allow for the establishment of
community radio stations in Zimbabwe.
Members of the committee will conduct a community awareness campaign to
further enhance the popularity of the initiative as well as lobby
parliamentarians, the Minister of Information and other government officials
and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe for them to be granted a
Meanwhile, a Parliamentary committee has recommended that the Broadcasting
Services Act be amended to allow more players in the broadcasting sector,
where the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings enjoys monopoly status.
Parliament heard recently that there was concern 'that the national
broadcaster continues to enjoy the monopoly of airwaves despite the recent
Supreme Court ruling which opened the airwaves to other players'. A
Parliamentary sub committee also noted the deterioration of the quality of
programming and programmes on radio and television, and taking cognisance of
the government's call for maximum utilisation of resources by parastatals,
resolved to adopt the previous committee's inquiries on the activities of
the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings companies to review the process of the
"The committee was also informed by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe
that Transmedia, the only organisation licenced to provide transmission
infrastructure, had no resources to undertake the erection of transmitters.
It recommended that that the operating licence for Transmedia should
therefore be rescinded forthwith as it had no resources to fulfil its
mandate as the national signal provider. - Staff Reporter
The people gave Mugabe his power
The people gave Mugabe his power
EDITOR - It always amazes me that the Zimbabwean people continually lament
the state of their country and yet do nothing about it. When Robert Mugabe
took over governance of the country in 1980 he was elevated to the status of
The people of Zimbabwe gave Robert Mugabe his power, and only the people of
Zimbabwe can take it away - not Thabo Mbeki, not Koffi Anann. I fail to
understand how the Zimbabweans managed to overthrow the Smith government and
yet cannot get their act together to get rid of Mugabe and his henchmen.
The people of Zimbabwe lament their lot, come to South Africa (and other
countries) in droves and yet do absolutely nothing to get rid of the very
government they purport to despise. Zimbabweans must realise that no other
country is going to help them, unless they help themselves first, and it
seems to me that they are too complacent, weak and uncommitted to improve
By virtually worshipping Mugabe in the early days of independence, they
created a monster which only they, and nobody else, can get rid of. Where is
the resilience that got rid of Smith? Where were the voices when the farmers
were being evicted and food production virtually stopped? Sitting in South
Africa and England, with full stomachs, applying for refugee status.
As long as Zimbabweans continue to be weak and compliant, the longer Mugabe
will continue to do as he pleases. If Zimbabweans are so anxious to get rid
of Mugabe, go back home and do something. Don't ask Mbeki to do it. Don't
ask Anann to do it. Zimbabweans created the monster, Zimbabweans must get
rid of the monster.
HELEN MORLY, Midrand
No prospects for youth
EDITOR - Ordinary young Zimbabweans face a corroding, sub-standard and
unaffordable education system, shackled to governance that does not
acknowledge and practically implement any child welfare policies or
An estimated 300 000, students a year are expected to graduate from high
school and university in Zimbabwe, in a population of 13 million with an
unemployment rate of 70-80%. T
The prospects of a young Zimbabwean are as low as the inflation rate is
high - and even that is subject to change by close of business today.
They are also forced to adhere to an unaffordable health system in a nation
plagued by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Zimbabwe now has the dubious honour of being the world's most infected
country - about a quarter of the adult population is HIV positive. In many
urban areas, infection runs to 40%, with life expectancy at birth around
33-38 years. The human effect of the disease is obvious, and the social and
economic effects are catastrophic in a nation facing political and economic
Diabolical governance by a regime that is in self-destruct mode has left
millions of young Zimbabweans in a situation where they might as well be
Draconian legislation makes it practically impossible to campaign for the
right to affordable accessible Education and Health for all Zimbabweans
regardless of tribal, race, sexuality and economic background, without the
risk of being arrested, tortured or being executed.
Deemed the "Modern day Chimurenga", Free-Zim is a revolution realised by
young Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and is making a public out cry to all
young Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to unite in solidarity with our fellow
brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe, and be in the forefront of the revolution
and the struggle for a birth of a New Zimbabwe.
WELLINGTON CHIBANGUZA, Free Zim, UK
Beware mass action confusion
EDITOR - Our telephones are almost jammed with inquiries about the purported
planned mass action in Zimbabwe on June 15 and 16. The organisation
purportedly planning the mass action calls itself Concerned Zimbabweans
We THE CONCERNED ZIMBABWEANS ABROAD, wish to make it clear that we have
nothing to do with this seemingly dubious organisation and we have never
heard of it. We are not linked to any of the organisation's so called
planned mass action.
We believe that this could be the work of government agents who are
basically trying to derail the real mass action being planned by civic
organisations and the opposition in that country. We as Zimbabweans in the
diaspora support all organisations that organise activities to rid of
tyranny in our country. We wish to notify everybody that we are in touch
with all the main players in Zimbabwe to include the ZCTU, MDC (Tsvangirai),
WOZA, NCA, etc.
We believe this so-called organisation, is trying to organise a mass action
that will definitely flop so that the government can discourage any would be
organisers of mass action. They want to claim that the mass action planned
by human rights active organisations will flop and have no support from the
masses. The government is now feeling the heat and clearly knows what is in
store for it, hence these should be the shrewd tactics of Zanu (PF) to cause
We are in touch with the real organisations that are planning real mass
action and will join in when the time is up.
JAYJAY SIBANDA, Johannesburg
Where are priorities?
EDITOR - I am baffled and disappointed by Mutambara's political antics. He
is busy trying to Hi-jack the MDC name, logo and slogan but has the guts to
shout and make a lot of noise about the NCA's constitutional changes. He is
not concerned with addressing the real issues and the constitutional changes
made by the ruling party that directly affect the people of Zimbabwe.
Yes the constitutional changes of the NCA do affect Zimbabweans but it's not
in charge of the day to day running of our country. Constitutional changes
by the Government affect us as a people. His spokesman says he wants to
direct dedicated drastic actions against a civic organisation but he has not
said the same about Zanu (PF)! Where are these guys' priorities? They can
see the straw in the eye of the NCA but cannot see the LOG in their own
eyes. What hypocrisy!
HARD ROCK, South Africa
Let MDC unite
EDITOR - I would like to hear comments from all those Zimbabweans who were
over 18 years old in 1980 and voted Zanu (PF). Do they feel proud about what
they did? What was wrong about ZAPU? Do you see how tribalism destroyed our
I was called a dissident several times during the 1980s, by ordinary
Zimbabweans, when I went to visit relatives in Harare. My only crime was
that I was Ndebele speaking. I am proud that I did not have any active role
in contributing to what our country is now like.
The people need to learn from their mistakes. Let us vote wisely come 2008.
Remember no tribalism. We unite properly, not like the unity accord of 1987,
which is laughable.
Let us stop this tribal pettiness, to Welshman Ncube and Gibson Sibanda stop
dividing our country and people. Let the MDC unite.
DUMISANI KHUMALO, Bulawayo
Salute to WOZA
EDITOR - Thanks for your sizzling hot paper. Please allow me space to salute
and pay tribute to the bold and courageous members of Women Of Zimbabwe
Arise (WOZA) who have braved harassment, brutal beatings, imprisonment and
even death threats protesting against among other things violence against
women, the holding of senatorial elections and exorbitant school fees hikes.
Under the fierce political environment prevailing these women have
audaciously protested against various issues that need to be addressed and
fearlessly held marches to demand an end to hunger and hatred abundantly
prevalent in Zimbabwe.
It is common knowledge that expressing an opinion is now a criminal offence
and protesting is a very risky and dangerous activity in our country. These
women are without doubt true heroes of the struggle.
Their determination and strong will to stand up, speak out and make the
government take account of the effect of the self-inflicted crisis in
Zimbabwe on women, families and children is encouraging and inspiring.
It is this same kind of fighting spirit shown by these fearless members of
WOZA that brought independence to Zimbabwe. I hope their courage and bravery
also inspires the suffering Zimbabweans to take the path that will bring
positive changes in our country.
INNOCENT CHIMHAU, UK
Smith never starved us
Smith never starved us
EDITOR - Your one article equating Ian Smith and the Lancaster House Joke to
the despot Mugabe is despicable! Smith never starved people and brutalized
them. You are inaccurate in your ridiculous assessment and probably not
brave enough to print this.
Army and police belong to the people
EDITOR - Police, soldiers, airmen and the people of Zimbabwe - now is the
time for citizen anger and action. Every day, we wake up to one calamity
after another in our beloved country Zimbabwe. There is a shortage of money,
fuel, clean water, medicines, food, and democracy.
This is the time to get angry and channel that anger into inventive ideas
and actions that will break the chains of evil that bind our country. The
question in most people's minds is how the Army and Police are going to
react. To answer this question one has to look at the legal relationship
between the Army and the people.
The Army as a national institution belongs to all citizens of Zimbabwe. A
truly professional army should never shoot at the people that it is required
to protect. Therefore, when the president as Commander-in-Chief issues
orders that are contrary to the citizens' interests, he in fact is
disobeying the people. And when the president disobeys the people his orders
and commands to the military are unlawful and professional soldiers should
not obey such orders.
When an Army obeys the president contrary to what the people want, it ceases
to be a people's army but a private army protecting the interests of a super
class at the expense of the majority of the people. No army can exist for
long without the support of the civilian population. Every Zimbabwean who
pays taxes is the true paymaster of every soldier and civil servant.
When you see a well-dressed soldier or airman, you should see your money in
his cap/helmet, shirt, belt, trousers, shoes/boots, webbing belt. You should
visualize your money in the rifle he carries, the tank he drives, the
ammunition he carries and the food he eats. Air Force jets and other weapons
belong to the people. Without the people's money there is no National Army,
Air Force or Police Force. Zimbabwean citizens buy all the weapons and
equipment for the Defence Forces so they can be defended from external
We pay the Police Force to be protected from thieves and murderers. We pay
politicians to be governed properly. What does this mean for Zimbabwe civil
society? It means when soldiers obey unlawful orders to assault peaceful
people, patriotic citizens need to take a stand. If you give your child a
spear to protect the family and he turns against the family, you take the
spear away from him.
When soldiers assault the people they are required to protect, it is time to
take a stand and find a way to take away all the arms and equipment that
belong to us. Demanding accountability from your soldiers is your right not
a privilege. Some politicians and senior soldiers seem to think there is
something special about handling a gun.
Any fool can fire a gun but it takes a true citizen to defend the people
with that gun. People should not be intimidated by guns, tanks or even
airplanes. If you can drive a car, you are a candidate to drive a tank. As
for airplanes, chose chinobhururuka chinomhara chete. And without fuel, how
long can they drive or fly these weapons?
Taking a stand now against brute force and injustice is not only fixing the
present issues, but it sends a message to any future president that we will
confront the Security Forces if he or she illegally uses them against the
people. A righteous anger must rise up from within us to challenge those who
brutalize their own people. Channel this anger effectively and change will
happen. Look at yourself and believe you can do something to stop the
oppressors. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and see yourself shaping the
destiny of the nation for good.
This is the time for imaginative leadership. With a little imagination the
security forces can be stretched to the limit until they rebel or their
leaders negotiate. The issues in Zimbabwe have gone beyond MDC or Zanu (PF).
Every patriotic Zimbabwean must take a stand and defy this regime tooth and
nail. Evil does not reform, it has to be destroyed. If you believe there is
evil in our land go out and help destroy it. May God bless us as we
courageously oppose tyranny and fight for our very survival.
BRAVE TAYPAYER, Harare
I love Morgan
EDITOR - Morgan Tsvangirai has played a vital role(and is still playing it)
black colonialism in Africa by shaking Zanu (PF)'s darkest and dirtiest
corridors of misrule.
Even if you die today, it does not matter because you are already a living
on Tsvangirai, deal with the masses not the rebel sellouts. With or without
the rebels MDC lives on. Listen to the wishes of the millions MDC supporters
and not the globetrotting, powerhungry and directionless rebels. There is no
future for Zanu (PF) and that is why Mugabe is hanging on
to despotic power at all costs. Fear no man born of a woman Morgan. I love
you for your consistent slogan of people first and selfish rebels last. MDC
Zanu (PF)'s cold feet
EDITOR - The audit of Zanu (PF) cell and village organs has been extended by
two weeks after the ruling party national commissariat's Elliot Manyika
cited poor turn out. Supporters have developed cold feet over the structure
audit due to massive discontent over Operation Murambatsvina that saw many
losing jobs and becoming destitute.
They are surprised to see central committee members visiting them again to
galvanise their support. This in itself is a good reason enough to cause
sleepless nights to Manyika as the 100% MDC led by His Excellency the
President of Zimbabwe Mr Morgan Tea boy Tsvangirai is penetrating the
perceived Zanu (PF) rural strong holds bit by bit (zvishoma ne zvishoma).
MR THUNDER, Glen Norah
Forced to subside govt.
EDITOR - We care for and educate our late Maid's son Taurayi - she died in
2002 after the final jambanja of our farm and families. She had spent two
days and nights in an ant bear hole hiding from the thugs who had evicted
our employees at gunpoint. She was rescued by our stockman and carried to
our neighbours farm. Taurayi is now 9.
He is a border at a government school. At the beginning of term we paid
Z$21 million in SDA fees for boarding. Note: it is a government school and
therefore supposed to be subsidised by this bunch of mbava.
It is not even half term and we have a letter, with a budget and have been
asked to pay/supply the following:
- a further Z$58 million just for the rest of the term
- Z$1million towards the Matrons salary
- 2 kgs rice, 2 kgs sugar, 750 mls oil, 1 kg sugar beans, 5 bath soap, 4
shoe polish, 4 loo rolls, 1 kg green soap, 1 kg Cerevita cereal.
Over and above that we parents/guardians had to supply all their textbooks
(he is in Grade Five).
But this GOZ can spend Z$660 billion on new vehicles for the MP's! I am
incensed - we cannot pay this at the moment, and am sure neither can the
other parents. There are war vets kids at this school who get free
schooling, so are we as parents being made to subsidise the corrupt
government and the war vets?
VERY ANGRY AMBUYA, Macheke
EDITOR - I am skeptical about the proposed establishment of the Zimbabwe
Human Rights ostensibly to ensure human rights are upheld in our country. If
history serves me well, there have been a number of similar
commissions/boards of inquiry instituted at some point but whose findings
and recommendations have either been glossed over or downplayed to protect
certain individuals. This casts a lot of doubt on the real intentions of
establishing the commission in question. For example:
SANDURA COMMISSION-This had the mandate to make findings and recommendations
into what became known as The Willowgate Scandal after The Chronicle had
chronicled events suggesting there was widespread corruption in the
acquisition of vehicles by top government officials from Willovale Motor
Industries. Except for those who bowed before the storm on their own and
resigned from public offices, the rest of the culprits went scot-free.
KUDENGA COMMISSION-Allegations of malpractices in financial dealings between
Zimbank, The Merchant bank and a company called LORAC led to the
establishment of this commission. As it became apparent that a senior
official was implicated, the findings were watered down. Another fruitless
NZIRAMASANGA COMMISSION-Having looked and made recommendations into the
educational system, the chairperson of the commission was quoted in the
lamenting the non implementation of same four years down the line.
INQUIRY INTO THE WAR VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND-The fund having been
looted, it was necessary to have full investigations. But except for a few
low ranking officials who got the dirty end of the stick and were bruised
here and there, the chefs, some with "100%" disabilities remained untouched.
ANTI-CORRUPTION AND ANTI MONOPOLIES MINISTRY- It's an open secret that
corruption is rife in Zimbabwe, but what did this branch of government
achieve to curtail growth of this evil virus? Those brought before the
courts for various allegations of corruption are those who were exposed by
various newspapers critical of Zanu (PF) misrule. Critics would be forgiven
for arguing that the government was never genuinely interested in uprooting
corruption but only in creating an illusion that it was doing so yet all it
was trying to do was to appease the restive populace ahead of the 2005
UTETE/BUKA COMMISSIONS-Revealed serious violations of the one-man-one farm
policy by top government officials which had disenfranchised the needy. Have
we seen any disciplinary measures against those found guilty? Do we now not
have some still with multiple farms? Anyway let me find solace in my rocky
two acre piece of land I got as inheritance. Ndinorimawo mapfunde.
It is against this background that I do not agree with the setting up of
another window dressing commission. We do not need such a commission to curb
state sanctioned brutality on innocent WOZA protesters calling for an
enabling environment to ensure every child has access to education .Neither
do we need it interpret to the government the human rights provisions
enshrined in our constitution. Commission after commission could be
established at the expense of the taxpayer, but it will be the same old
story that Heads they (chefs) win, tails we (povo) lose.
CLEMENCE NGAIRONGWE, UK
Challenge to Zim youth
EDITOR - Please allow me to remind my fellow youth in both Zimbabwe and
Diaspora about the Vice President Joseph Msika`s statement that he made some
months ago that the youth of Zimbabwe must stop being crying babies. Now,
did you as youth sit down and try to chew it in order to get its gist? If
no, I did it and come up with an answer that he was indirectly blaming us
for not taking action whenever we feel uncomfortable about any action taken
by the government.
So, my few questions to the Zimbabwean youth are as follows:
1.Did you feel comfortable as youth when the Mugabe Regime rigged the
elections in 2000, 2002 and 2005?
2.Did you feel comfortable as youth when your only family house was
bulldozed down during Murambatsvina?
3.Do you feel comfortable as a professional youth by selling tomatoes at
Mbare Musika, Sakubva Musika, Egodhini and/or work as a gardener while
Mugabe is pilling his army lieutenants with more than three jobs? And an
example of this is General Chiwenga who is in command of army and at the
same time in charge of ZIMRA and RBZ.
3.Do you feel comfortable as youth when your brothers and sisters are being
killed by crocodiles in Limpopo when running away from an autocratic Mugabe
I strongly believe that this is high time that we as Zimbabwean youth should
stand up and liberate ourselves.
SIMON MASUKU, MDC-SA Youth Secretary, Johannesburg
The fear of free expression has the government of Zimbabwe tied in a knot. South African musician Johnny Clegg could not have put it better when he said: "Censorship is based on fear" — because the Zimbabwean government has ruled by fear. Its list of 'enemies of the state' has new entrants each day, and the latest targets are artists. One of them is the flamboyant Cont Mdladla Mhlanga, founder and artistic director of the Amakhosi Cultural Center and performing arts academy in the city of Bulawayo, located in western Zimbabwe.
Mhlanga is arguably a living legend, and a theater icon not only in Zimbabwe but also on the international stage where his works have received acclaim and awards. Mhlanga was arrested and briefly detained early last month on the grounds that his plays were anti-government and meant to incite an uprising against the regime of longstanding President Robert Mugabe.
In particular, one of his plays, "Tomorrow's People," has drawn the ire of authorities after it premiered at the Harare International Festivals of the Arts (HIFA) held in April. The play is billed for Bulawayo, if the police do not arrest its cast and ban it from being staged.
"We will continue doing what we are doing; our job is to produce plays and promote them throughout the country," Mhlanga told the Financial Gazette (May 17). Amakhosi, together with the Bambelela Arts Ensemble and Qhube Productions, produce the hard-hitting play. It tackles some of Zimbabwe's most pertinent issues such as political violence, corruption, the culture of intolerance, and questions the benefits of the 1987 Unity Accord between the ZANU PF and ZAPU political parties. Another play featured at Amakhosi, "Pregnant With Emotion," also looks at the plethora of problems facing Zimbabwe.
Police officers from the Law and Order section hauled Mhlanga to their offices and in a veiled threat told him that his plays were anti-government. They have since demanded that he hand over all the scripts of the plays that have been and will be staged at Amakhosi, and informed that the entire cast of "Pregnant with Emotion" must be interviewed by the police. In simple terms, Mhlanga must sanitize his plays or effectively precipitate the banning of Amakhosi.
The straight-talking Mhlanga may have hung his pen up in 2000 but he will not give in to the threats. Art in general and theater in particular, Mhlanga told Worldpress in an exclusive interview, is the conscience of any nation, and in Zimbabwe one of the last standing posts for portraying the real struggles of the ordinary people.
Artists are in the government's line of fire line for their perceived 'bad verses,' provocative images, and inflammatory words. In less than 10 years, Zimbabwe has moved from an open, democratic society to a closed one, characterized by the emasculation of the judiciary, the muzzling and closure of the independent press, and the erosion of fundamental constitutional and human rights. The country's constitution has been amended a record 17 times, with each amendment chipping away the rights of its citizens. Words like 'police state' and 'autocracy' describe the current situation in Zimbabwe. If words alone are not enough, the pictures and footage of the government-sponsored demolition in Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Restore Order) unleashed in May 2005 comes close to telling the story of Zimbabwe's slide into a political and economic abyss.
It is the untold stories of the ordinary people that theater tells, argued Mhlanga, who founded Amakhosi in 1982. The Center started off as a youth karate club and turned semi-professional in 1988. It created the first pilot center, the Amakhosi Performing Arts Workshop (APAW), which produced and toured with theater plays written and directed by Mhlanga.
"Plays are my job, that is why we have Amakhosi. Our job is not to censure plays; we look at the quality of the play, its content and whether it is socially relevant," said Mhlanga. "There are always individual stories of how things and events impact on their everyday lives such as the personal stories of Murambatsvina. These are stories that theatre tells because we have to tell them if we are concerned about our nation. In that nation there are individuals with stories to be told."
Mhlanga recalled a tragic story of a family of three who were moving their worldly belongings one night when the man was struck and killed by a speeding public transport vehicle. The man died on the spot and the personal property they were moving was scattered all over the road. The man left behind a three-year old son and a traumatized widow.
"The reason these people were moving was because the shack they were staying in had been razed to the ground. The story is what happened to that three year old boy, where is he today?" Mhlanga asked, before lamenting how artists in Zimbabwe are being cowed into silence by poverty, fear and political patronage.
Described by colleagues and associates as candid, bold, perceptive, yet calm, Mhlanga is a gift to theater. What South African peoples' poet, Mzwake Mbuli speaks out against in his poems, Cont Mhlanga castigates through his penetrating plays. Amakhosi established itself as Zimbabwe's full-time arts training workshop for all disciplines. Since starting regional tours in 1995 with the performance in Botswana of "Nansi Le Ndoda," Amakhosi artists have taken their work to the international stage with the group's first tour of Scotland and Wales performing "Stitsha," a play about the politics of land ownership and use.
While Mhlanga has lost count of the number of plays he has written, he vividly recalled the impact of some of his more politically-laden and socially acerbic works such as "Dabulap," that addressed the problems of migration, and "Workshop Negative," a political satire focused on the issues of land, wealth, political patronage, and the dispossession of the masses. In many ways Mhlanga's plays are apocalyptic, yet at the same time didactic.
"I write with a kind of prediction … I predicted that Zimbabwe was going to be a bankrupt state, with people fighting each other. When we presented "Workshop Negative" in Los Angeles last year, it was so relevant I'm surprised to look back and see how it reads like a prediction of the current situation," said Mhlanga. "The lines from the play just came alive about how the unresolved issues were the causes of Zimbabwe's problems. All my plays come from deep inside me; they are like my children. I write with a social message and those that come from within are not commissioned. I write because I feel."
In 1995 Amakhosi established the country's first privately owned cultural center located within the boundaries of the townships, now popularly known as the Township Square Cultural Center. To date the center remains the only economic anchor for the arts and cultural industries in Bulawayo's business district. Buoyed by the creativity of its singers and actors, and solid scripts backed by professional production teams, Amakhosi has nurtured artistic talent in Zimbabwe and used theater for social commentary, redress and introspection. Some of their memorable plays include the political loaded "Sinjalo," "Members," and "Tomorrow's People." If past theatrical offerings are anything to go by, Mhlanga suggested that "Pregnant With Emotion," which has earned him many kudos, does not contain 'explosive' material.
Mhlanga, who has stopped playwriting to focus on training artists and overseeing stage productions, is one of a growing list of artists who are falling afoul of the government for speaking out against the rot, the corruption, and the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans.
"I am disappointed with the artists in Zimbabwe. With a society such as ours, which is suppressed and depressed, artists should be the voice of reason, the conscience of the society," he said. "Some of our artists fell for (Jonathan) Moyo's galas, bribes, and endless shows. Now they are afraid to be reflective, or to speak out for fear they will not be invited to galas, or get airplay. For me, artists in Zimbabwe are not reflective of the problems in Zimbabwe and that is why it has taken so long to solve them."
Mhlanga gave the example of how artists in South Africa brought down the system of apartheid, which was entrenched for 40 years, through their works, songs, poems, books, paintings, film, drama, and theater.
"Artists have been used for political scores, and that is why they have targeted me and other artists because they know the power of art," he said. "I feel artists are prolonging the suffering of the masses. We must not forget that we are part of the solution."
Artists, like journalists, civil activists, judges, and farmers are being persecuted by a government that has branded any dissenting voices as enemies of the state. Laws have been passed to restrict the freedom of information, association, and expression. Zimbabweans are slowly being hounded into submission, subjected to unbridled fear, violence, and punitive laws. Plans are underway to pass a law to legalize wiretapping and eavesdropping, as well as sanctioning government monitoring of all electronic and postal mail. In democratic governments, free speech, a free press, and a just judiciary are givens; in Zimbabwe all of these things are being suppressed.
Zimbabwe is in its eight year of economic decline that has many manufacturing companies downsizing if not closing shop, and has seen a drastic cut in GDP along with soaring unemployment that threatens to culminate in national protests. Despite it all, the government has continued to turn a blind eye and instead is beefing up its arsenal of intimidation and repression.
Those who have spoken out have been threatened. Early last month, prominent Zimbabwean musician Hosiah Chipanga was forced to cancel a scheduled performance at Workers Day celebrations organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), after he received death threats over his mobile phone.
Chipanga, famous for the commentaries in his songs about the situation in Zimbabwe, told the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) that he received threatening phone calls two days before he was due to perform at the May Day celebration at Gwanzura Stadium.
"The anonymous callers would ask me if I still valued my life. I then decided against proceeding with the performance for my own personal security," said Chipanga, indicating that despite the threats he will continue to sing about the many social, economic and political problems.
"I preach my gospel through music. Human threats will not deter me and I will continue to express myself through music in order to help Zimbabwe," he said.
Last year, ZimOnline.com reported that Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) agents warned Chipanga to stop singing anti-Mugabe songs during a musical gala to honor Zimbabwe's fallen heroes held in the Midlands city of Kwekwe.
According to NewZimbabwe.com, a top South African DJ and music promoter, Cleophas Monyepao (known as DJ Cleo), was banned from performing in Zimbabwe because he had "uttered bad things" about President Mugabe.
Other artists have continued to tell Zimbabwe's story from outside its orders. Internationally renowned graphic artist Chaz Maviyane Davies is one of the most outspoken artists against the dearth of human rights, freedom of expression and information. On his Web site, Davies commented about his work: "Over the years I have tried to use images and ideas to cut through complacency and apathy while trying to raise consciousness about an array of social issues from discrimination and human rights to health and the environment. Creating an alternative vision as my expression in a pervading regressive body politic has never been easy, but design is my weapon and therein lies the challenge that I call 'creative defiance.'"
Chimurenga music guru, Thomas Mapfumo, is viewed by some as a national hero for his combative style of music, which includes singing theme songs for the revolution. Mapfumo, who hailed the new political dispensation in 1980, sang songs praising the new leaders but soon turned his wrath on them after realizing they were falling into greed and corruption. In 1989, he sang "Corruption" which decried 'rottenness,' and the following year,"Jojo," warning people not to be used by politicians.
In the late 1990s Mapfumo focused his attention on corrupt leaders in Zimbabwe whom he felt had let down the electorate, and his songs were taken off the air. This was especially so for those from his 1999 album, "Chimurenga Explosion," most notably "Disaster," which was prophetic about the current situation in Zimbabwe and the launch of the violent land redistribution program. After a series of threats against him and the banning of his music, Mapfumo and his family went into voluntary exile in the United States.
When all has been said and done, how does Cont Mhlanga want to be remembered?
"I want to be remembered for being able to inspire one person to bring power to the people. I feel that people are not governing, they are not part of the world community in shaping their own future," he said.
By speaking fearlessly about the censorship of artists, Mhlanga may inspire more than one person when fear is no longer a barrier to freedom in Zimbabwe.