|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
In my last half year report sent to you in December I wrote of the great hardships being experienced by Zimbabweans. Sadly, these hardships have not diminished this year despite the propaganda being pushed out by the regime that the economy is improving. For all the talk of Reserve Bank Governor Gono’s economic “miracle” the harsh reality for most Zimbabweans, except the rich ruling elite, is that life is getting tougher.
The other propaganda story of
the regime is that the
As was the case last year
Parliament has hardly sat this year. We had a two -week session in January,
followed by a similar one in late March and for the last few weeks we have been
sitting. As was the case last year, very little progressive legislation has been
debated and much of the legislation is designed to clamp down even further on
basic freedoms. For example, a new Electoral Bill has recently been tabled
seeking to remove existing rights (such as to have access to the Voters’ Roll).
We in the
As you may have read, a special Parliamentary Committee has been set up to investigate whether I am guilty of breaching Parliamentary Privilege and whether I should be punished. In January in a Parliamentary debate I raised a point of order arguing that certain MPs should not debate or vote as it appeared as if they had a pecuniary interest in the matter. In terms of Zimbabwean law it is a criminal offence for any MP to debate or vote in a matter in which he or she has a pecuniary interest. I tabled a list of MPs who had been reported (in some cases in the Herald and Chronicle!) as receiving farms and argued that as they would appear to have an interest in the matter (the debate was about ways of speeding up the process of acquiring farms) they should not participate in the debate leaving only those MPs who had not received farms to debate. This action deeply angered many Zanu (PF) MPs and I was accused of tabling a false document with the intention to deceive Parliament. As a result a Committee of Enquiry has been set up. It would be improper for me to discuss the operations of the Committee as it is still sitting. However suffice it to say that I am confident that I acted in your best interests and in terms of the law and Constitution of Zimbabwe. It is always important to shine light into dark places and that was what I was doing.
I continue to sit on the
Parliamentary Justice Committee. Most of our work involves an examination of
Bills which are coming before Parliament. Unfortunately space does not allow me
to go into great detail about these Bills but a lot of time has been spent
trying to ensure that we improve important pieces of legislation including the
Administrative Justice Bill and the Electoral Amendment Bill. I have done
considerable work on the Electoral Amendment Bill and will be arguing in the
near future for substantial changes to the existing Bill to bring it in line
with SADC standards. Without a fair, just and transparent electoral process we
will never know true freedom in
The Bulawayo South Parliamentary office has now been opened for several months under the efficient and watchful eye of Nomakosi Nabanyama. We will shortly be installing a computer and refurbishing the offices to make it a better resource centre for the Constituency. I remind you that it is located in the Nketa 6 Housing Offices and is open during normal business hours Monday through to Friday. If you have concerns, suggestions or complaints please do call in, or drop off a letter, and I will do my best to respond to the issues you raise. I very much appreciate any ideas or suggestions you would like to share.
Over the first few months of
the year you may have seen a few teams of young people in orange overalls
digging holes along
I am pleased to report that we have had positive responses from both the Swiss and Japanese Embassies regarding the Umgwanin Aids self help centre initiated by Clr. A.G. Ndlovu and Toc H and I look forward to seeing the completion on this worthy project.
I had the great honour of
This year has seen us score
significant victories in the Courts. The Treason trial of President
the State case in the Cain Nkala murder trial has fallen apart. As you know
We still await the judgment of Justice Hlatshwayo in the first stage of the Presidential Election challenge case (which dealt solely with legal and constitutional issues) that was argued in November 2003. Our legal team is pressing for this judgment to be handed down as soon as possible. If we obtain a favourable judgment then the election of Robert Mugabe as President will be set aside. If the judgment is unfavourable we will proceed to the second stage of the trial that will introduce the massive evidence we have of electoral fraud and violence which characterised that election.
will appreciate that the coordination of these matters has taken up a lot of my
time but it has been rewarding. The
I have been involved with my colleagues in the
part of the
Divisions within Zanu (PF)
all the propaganda in the regime’s media that the
But there are yet further problems for Zanu (PF). In the last few months we have witnessed serious divisions emerge between the old guard and the mafikazolos, with Msika and Shamuyarira openly falling out with Jonathan Moyo and Made. In the last two weeks we have seen in the arrest of Treger directors, the arrest of Mawere and the refusal to give Mnangagwa an honourary doctorate at the Midlands University, an indirect attack on Speaker of Parliament, Mnangagwa. All these incidents have a connection to Mnangagwa and are directed by powerful forces within Zanu (PF) who are seeking to undermine him. These divisions will become more acute as the Parliamentary election looms.
contrast, for all the nonsense spewed out by the regime’s media about divisions
The Way Ahead
are now about nine months away from another general election. There is no doubt
that if the electoral process were free and fair the
Every person must make sure they are registered to vote. Any person turning 18 this year must register in Bulawayo South. We have no doubt that the low key campaign to register voters in urban areas is designed to ensure that as few people register in towns and cities. If that is the case the regime will try to reduce the number of constituencies in urban areas because it knows that it is more difficult to rig the elections in these areas. So we must not fall for this trick. The current exercise ends at the end of June. I urge all of you with children to make every effort to get them to register and all adults must make every effort to ensure they are registered.
We, for our part, will continue to work with our partners in civil society, in Parliament and in the region and in the international community to force the regime to change the electoral process so that it complies with SADC and international standards. When that happens, we pray our beloved Nation’s nightmare will draw to a close. Together then we can begin the road to rebuild our nation – protecting democratic freedoms and creating the environment for sustained and fair economic opportunity for all.
Each of you have suffered and contributed in your own ways and I am heartily grateful for your support. As the writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote: “It isn’t for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for the long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security.”
The Honourable David Coltart MP
Fifteen minimum conditions for the holding of elections
1. the establishment of a genuinely independent electoral commission that will be responsible for running the entire election and the entire electoral process
2. the undertaking that partisan officials such as the present Registrar General of Elections and members of the military should not be involved in the running of the elections
3. a completely fresh voter registration campaign done by the UN or some other neutral and professional body
4. supply of an electronic (computer data base) copy of the voters’ roll to all political parties
5. the repeal of those aspects of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) that curtail media freedoms
of administrative decisions that have resulted in the closure of the
7 the liberalization of the broadcasting media and the opening up of state media to carry equal amounts of coverage of all parties’ electoral messages pro rata to the percentage of votes they secured in the last general Parliamentary election
8. the disbanding of the Youth Militia
9. the repeal of those aspects of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) that curtail the freedom of political parties to campaign
10. the amendment of the Electoral Act to bring it into conformity with those aspects of the SADC Parliamentary Forum’s Electoral Standard and Norms not referred to specifically elsewhere in this document
11. the use of translucent plastic ballot boxes of secure, single-piece construction
12. voting on one day, subject to sufficient numbers of polling stations being established and changes being made to the electoral process to enable all citizens and residents (entitled to be registered as voters in terms of section 3 (1) of Schedule 3 of the Zimbabwean Constitution) to vote
13. unhindered access to the entire electoral process by international, regional and domestic election observer missions
14. counting of ballots at polling stations in the mandatory presence of polling agents and observers
15. the use of visible indelible ink to identify those who have voted