FRONTLINE/World goes undercover in Zimbabwe to reveal what has happened to a
country once regarded as a beacon of democracy and prosperity in Africa.
Posing as tourists, reporter Alexis Bloom and producer Cassandra Herrman
find a population struggling with hunger and poverty, and living in fear of
a government that has become a brutal dictatorship.
This was aired yesterday on PBS in America. You can see the video, read all
about it. make comments by visiting this web page
From PBS Frontline/World (US), 27 June
Shadows and lies
Synopsis of a film shown on PBS TV
In a scene filled with tension and despair, men and women sit crouched,
huddling on a 17 hour-long night train ride that will send them back to
Zimbabwe. "Heads down," shouts a South African guard - because crouched down
like this, the deportees are less likely to jump out the window. Despite
this, more than a dozen Zimbabweans jump from the train that night; they'd
rather risk death than face the ruling party back home. These men and women
have been living illegally in South Africa. But the South Africans don't
want them; they round up thousands of Zimbabweans each week, gather them
into overcrowded detention centers, then finally, send them back across the
border to Zimbabwe. On this night, FRONTLINE/World reporter Alexis Bloom
takes the journey with them. Talking to people on the train, Bloom senses
that it will be the last chance for many to talk openly. One man tells her:
"You can't get the truth in Zimbabwe... Even if you come to me in Zimbabwe,
I can't give you the truth because there are people always watching. And
once you go, they will kill me."
When Bloom and producer Cassandra Herrman traveled to Zimbabwe to report
"Shadows and Lies," they entered carrying fake business cards, pretending to
be tourists. It is impossible for foreign journalists to work freely in
Zimbabwe these days. They arrive at the spectacular Victoria Falls, once the
high point on Zimbabwe's popular tourist circuit and one of the seven
natural wonders of the world. Now the hotels at the falls are eerily empty.
Ten years ago, explains Bloom, as she counts out bricks of the local
currency in the hotel, Zimbabwe was one of the richest countries in Africa,
but with inflation now running at more than 1,000 percent, Zimbabwean money
isn't worth the ink that's used to print it. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's
long-standing president, was once a respected liberator, but after 26 years
in power, he has turned this jewel of Africa into an impoverished state of
fear. From Victoria Falls, Bloom and Herrman set off for the capital,
Harare. Along the way, they film through the car window, shooting long lines
of cars at empty gas stations. People can wait for weeks before fuel
arrives, Bloom is told. They film people scavenging in garbage dumps
alongside baboons, and they pass families on the roadside who have resorted
to donkey carts to get around. Signs of food and fuel shortages are
In Harare, they meet with journalist Duminsani Muleya, who takes them to the
building that used to house The Daily News, Zimbabwe's last independent
daily newspaper. The newspaper's offices were bombed, under suspicious
circumstances, after clashes with the government. Muleya tells Bloom what is
happening to his country, but only behind the safety of the tinted windows
of Bloom's car. "Zimbabwe has, without a doubt, the weakest currency in
Africa, if not even in the world," he tells Bloom. "It has now become a
monumental museum of failure. The air is fraught with frustration, with
anger, with despair, and some people have just given up." It wasn't always
this bleak, says Bloom. "Robert Mugabe was once a liberation hero, admired
around the world. He ushered in prosperity, health care and a literacy rate
of 85 percent - the highest in Africa." But politics here has turned into
thuggery, she says - holding on to power has become Mugabe's top priority.
And during the last seven years, intimidation has become his chief weapon.
His radical land redistribution plan set out to seize white-owned farms and
turn them over to black farmworkers. Instead, Bloom reports, these farms
were given to members of Mugabe's inner circle, who didn't know how to run
them. A once-thriving agricultural economy has been brought to its knees,
and many of Zimbabwe's most productive farms now lie fallow.
Describing Mugabe's regime today, a former ally of his, Margaret Dongo,
tells Bloom: "They have no feeling for any other person, for any human
beings anymore. What they want to make sure of is how can they maintain
their power base." Dongo is a famous freedom fighter. She fought for
Zimbabwe's independence in the 1970s and became the first member of
parliament to confront her old ruling party colleagues. "You're watching the
country going down the drain," Dongo continues. "You look at the time it
took to build it up, and then one can just destroy it overnight. It is
something painful." In the city of Bulawayo - long considered an opposition
stronghold - things look even worse: There are long lines all over town,
people waiting to buy the most basic necessities, but many supermarket
shelves are simply empty. A local farmer tells Bloom that the army has
launched a new policy of farm seizures that targets small family farms owned
by ordinary Zimbabweans - this despite the evident lack of food. In an
effort to make up the shortfall precipitated by Mugabe's disastrous land
reform, the army is now ordering locals to dig up the crops that feed their
families and instead grow maize that will be sent to the government mill. A
woman tells Bloom that when she protested these orders, a soldier beat her.
Resistance runs deep in Bulawayo - and there is none so outspoken as Pius
Ncube, Bulawayo's Catholic archbishop. Despite constant surveillance and
death threats, Ncube refuses to be intimidated by Mugabe: He denounces the
government and tries as best he can to look after parishioners who are
increasingly short of food. "Women come and cry before me, 'We haven't eaten
for all these days,'" he tells our reporter. "What I pray for is that people
become so restless and angry enough ... to simply say, 'We've had enough'
and get the army to their side, the police ... and rise up and bring him
down." Over the course of his rule, many say that Mugabe has brought each
one of the country's democratic institutions to heel: Critics say he has
muzzled the media, politicized the police force and rewritten the laws to
maintain his power base. To explore the reality of justice under Mugabe,
Bloom and Herrman meet with two members of the opposition movement - the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Khethani Sibanda and Sazini Mpofu
describe how they became the fall guys for a much larger campaign to
discredit the opposition, and they speak of the violence that the regime is
willing to use in its name.
The reality of daily life in Zimbabwe comes into stark relief when one
drives past the luxurious gated compounds in Harare. Among them is Mugabe's
sprawling retirement palace, epitomizing the splendor of the ruling elite.
But for most Zimbabweans, life is increasingly grim: tin-roof shacks, even
cardboard boxes, are the homes for many of Mugabe's people. The fate of the
urban poor comes to light in footage smuggled out of Zimbabwe in 2005 that
shows police burning and bulldozing many of these dwellings as part of a
government campaign called Operation Murambatsvina, or "Clear Out the
Filth." Though Mugabe claimed this government operation would beautify urban
areas across Zimbabwe, many say his real aim was to break up these
communities because they had become a breeding ground for revolt. The
clearing operation left some 700,000 people homeless, and millions lost
their livelihood overnight. And though Mugabe promised to build better homes
for these communities, a year later Bloom is witness that nothing has been
Leaving a muted and beaten country behind, Bloom and Herrman travel back to
South Africa. It's nighttime in downtown Johannesburg, and the police are
trying to control a crowd of anxious Zimbabweans, lined up and waiting to
apply for political asylum at an immigration office. The authorities here
are overwhelmed. More than 2 million people have poured into South Africa
from Zimbabwe since the country's economic collapse. "For these Zimbabweans,
a place in line represents survival," says Bloom. "They know only a handful
will ever be allowed to stay." But it's not only refugees and economic
migrants who make their way to South Africa. Prominent Zimbabweans also find
it increasingly difficult to continue to live in Zimbabwe. Visiting the
offices of Zimbabwean newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube, Bloom asks him why
the rest of world remains silent while Zimbabwe continues to break down.
"South Africans don't know what to do with Robert Mugabe," he tells her.
"The Americans don't have a clue... How do you deal with a fallen hero like
Mugabe, a man that the whole continent looked up to, who assisted the
liberation of South Africa? How do you tell your father to sit down and shut
up?" The final words come from an asylum seeker, who is being loaded into a
security van, to be deported back to Zimbabwe. "This is torture," he cries.
"This is torture."
Zimbabwe Struggles with Political Instability
An excerpt from Frontline World reports on the troubled nation of
ALEXIS BLOOM, "Frontline World": This great natural beauty is what
Zimbabwe was once famous for. It's home to the Victoria Falls, one of the
seven wonders of the world.
For us, the falls were our way in. We've come to Zimbabwe
pretending to be tourists, to see for ourselves an increasingly repressive
and secret state.
This was once one of the most popular vacation spots in Africa,
yet we find our hotel eerily empty.
Ten years ago, Zimbabwe was one of the richest countries in
Africa, but now runaway inflation tops 1,000 percent, and this money isn't
worth the ink on the bills.
We just changed our money, and thankfully they've issued a new
note today, the $50,000 bill. When I said to the lady in the bank, "This is
rather a lot of money to be carrying around," she laughed and said it was
It takes stack of money just for the basic necessities here.
Once called Rhodesia, Zimbabwe was ruled by a white minority until 1980. But
after a fierce war of independence, Robert Mugabe rose to power. A freedom
fighter-turned-dictator, Mugabe has transformed Zimbabwe from the prize of
Africa into a state of fear.
We set off for Mugabe's seat of power, Harare. If we were caught
reporting, we'd be arrested.
We see a long line of cars at an empty gas station. People can
wait here for weeks, we're told, for fuel that may never arrive. Down the
road, we find another sign of the hardships we'd heard about: a garbage dump
where people scavenge for food alongside baboons.
These men told us they were surviving through luck alone. I
asked who was to blame.
ZIMBABWEAN CITIZEN: You know, everybody knows. We can shut our
mouths. We can't say anything, but we know who is responsible. You even know
who is responsible.
ALEXIS BLOOM: He was too scared to mention the name of President
So you would say that it's not easy to talk about these things
ZIMBABWEAN CITIZEN: It's not easy. Because there are a handful
of people who are enjoying their life, but the rest are not enjoying
anything. So it's very hard.
ALEXIS BLOOM: Harare, the capital. We were advised to film only
through our car's tinted windows. We immediately spotted more of what
President Mugabe doesn't want the world to see: long lines outside of a
bank, shortages of everything.
This man was desperate to unload his Zimbabwean dollars.
How much did you get?
ZIMBABWEAN CITIZEN: Ten million.
ALEXIS BLOOM: More and more, survival depends on a growing
underground economy, but you won't find any of this in the daily newspapers.
They've now been taken over by the ruling party.
Thu 29 June 2006
HARARE - A Chinese-made Air Zimbabwe plane on Wednesday burst its four
main tyres after being forced into an emergency landing at Victoria Falls
The plane, an MA60 which was on its way to Harare from the resort town
of Victoria Falls, was forced to make a U-turn after a right engine failure
soon after take off.
It could not be immediately established last night if anyone had been
hurt during the near mishap.
Sources at the troubled airline said the 48-seater plane, which had
been grounded for more than two weeks after its fuel nozzles expired, was
making its first trip following the installation of new nozzles.
The sources said the plane was forced to return to Victoria Falls
after the right engine failed.
"We had just fixed new fuel nozzles on the plane and it was making its
first flight after maintenance. The plane had a right hand engine failure on
its way to Harare and had to make an air turn-back," said the source from
the airline's engineering department.
He said on landing, the plane burst its "four main wheels" after the
pilot applied emergency brakes.
A passenger who was on the plane who refused to be named, said: "Thank
God we survived. We could have died just like that."
Air Zimbabwe public relations manager David Mwenga yesterday confirmed
the emergency landing but could not give further details.
"Yes I have been told about the incident but I don't have the finer
details at the moment. I am not at work," said Mwenga.
President Robert Mugabe's government, battling a severe six-year old
economic crisis, last year bought two MA60 planes from China as part of his
administration's Look-East policy. The Chinese government donated another
third plane to Harare as part of the deal.
But the Chinese planes have been dogged by frequent breakdowns since
they brought into the country a year ago resulting in the cash-strapped
airline failing to service its key routes.
A shortage of foreign currency to buy spares for repairs, years of
under-funding, mismanagement and downright corruption have crippled Air
Zimbabwe which was at one time one of Africa's premier airlines.
Last year, three passengers were injured after an Air Zimbabwe plane
made an emergency landing at Johannesburg International Airport in South
Africa. - ZimOnline
Thu 29 June 2006
BULAWAYO - Two police officers in Zimbabwe's second biggest city of
Bulawayo have been arrested on murder charges after they fatally assaulted
two men last weekend for wishing President Robert Mugabe dead.
Observers say the death of the two civilians is yet another clear
example of abuse of power by Mugabe's state security agents who have been
accused by human rights groups in the past of violating the rights of
The two police officers, whose identities have still not been revealed
to the press, went on the rampage last Sunday beating up patrons at a beer
garden after the patrons passed what they deemed were uncomplimentary
remarks on President Robert Mugabe following the death of Information
Minister Tichaona Jokonya last weekend.
The two civilians, who have been identified as Gift Jubane, 25, and
Prince Ndebele, died at Mpilo Hospital on Monday from the injuries they
sustained during the brutal attack. Seven other civilians also sustained
serious injuries during the attack.
Innocent Moyo, one of those injured during the attack, told ZimOnline
yesterday that police officers pounced on the beer patrons after one of the
beer drinkers passed a comment on Jokonya's death saying it was good men who
died leaving the "devil himself."
"While reading The Sunday News newspaper, we came across a story
announcing the death of Minister Tichaona Jokonya. One of my colleagues
quipped that 'only good men die, leaving the devil himself," said Moyo.
Moyo said all hell broke loose as the police officers started beating
up the nine civilians.
"The police assaulted us with batton sticks and booted feet all over
our bodies accusing us of working with the (main opposition) Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party to topple the government," said Moyo, who
sustained a broken arm during the attack.
The nine were later set free on Monday morning. But Jubane and Ndebele
were taken to Mpilo Hospital for treatment because of the severity of their
injuries. The two died on Monday afternoon from their injuries.
Police in Bulawayo confirmed the incident and said a murder docket had
since been opened against two police officers.
"Yes, we are aware of the incident and the two policemen who assaulted
the duo have since been arrested and are both detained at Donnington police
station facing murder charges.
"Their detention book numbers are 740/ 06 and 741/06. They are both
Constables from Hillside police station who were based at Kensington base,"
said a source at Bulawayo police station who refused to be named because he
is not authorised to speak to the press.
Police spokesman, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena also
confirmed that the two officers were being held on murder charges.
"Yes, the two constables are detained and will be taken to court on
murder charges. I cannot reveal more at this stage because the matter is
sensitive," he said, adding that investigations were still in progress over
Human rights groups have often accused Zimbabwe's state security
agents including the police of using torture and violence against suspects
and members of the opposition to elicit confessions.
But the Harare authorities have denied the charge saying the
allegations are false and meant to tarnish Zimbabwe's image. - ZimOnline
Thu 29 June 2006
HARARE - Zimbabwe's financial sector could witness at three mergers
and two acquisitions in the coming months as banks and other institutions
race to beat a September 30 deadline to raise minimum capital requirements,
analysts said on Wednesday.
Analysts said, with just three months to go before the deadline, the
pressure was piling on most of the smaller financial institutions to meet
the new United States dollar-linked capital threshold or risk closure.
"Some banks will be forced to merge while the politically important
ones will be looked after," said University of Zimbabwe business management
school lecturer, Anthony Hawkins.
The new capital requirements, announced by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) in January this year, would see commercial banks raising
their capital bases to US$10 million or $1 trillion at the official exchange
rate while building societies and merchant banks will require US$7.5 million
or $750 billion on their balance sheets to survive the dreaded wrap on the
knuckle by the RBZ.
The minimum capital requirement for discount houses will be US$5
million or $500 billion by the end of September. The official exchange rate
is 101 195 Zimbabwe dollars to one US unit.
Discounting the possibility of a sensational crash of the financial
sector as almost happened in 2004, Hawkins said smaller financial
institutions without political and other strong links will face the greatest
"With inflation at such high levels and expected to reach 1 200 or 1
300 percent in the next month, the whole financial system is under difficult
pressure but I don't think there is imminent collapse," said the UZ
Zimbabwe's financial sector was shaken to its roots in 2004 shortly
after RBZ governor Gideon Gono assumed office and introduced some tight
measures aimed at reining in what he called truant behavior by banks.
Several institutions were closed as a result of the crackdown.
So far only the so-called "big five" banks - Standard Chartered,
Stanbic, Barclays, CBZ and Zimbank - are said to have met the capital
requirements while others are at various stages of recapitalisation.
The analysts noted that as September 30 fast approaches, one of the
viable options available to the financial institutions yet to recapitalise
was to seek foreign partners who would inject fresh capital into the
"But that also has its own challenges because, as things stand, there
is no one out there bold enough to take the plunge and invest in a sector
whose future they are not sure about," said a senior executive with a
commercial bank who refused to be named for professional reasons.
Already, CFX Financial Services has been linked to talks with German
financial institution Deutsche Bank and ZIMRE Holdings for a possible cash
injection that could strengthen the size of its balance sheet.
The commercial bank executive said meeting the proposed capital
threshold has been difficult for several institutions whose profit margins
are being squeezed by punitive RBZ accommodation rates.
The central bank charges between 850 and 900 percent per annum for
secured and unsecured lending to financial institutions.
"What has been happening is that a lot of the banks have been eating
into their capital to finance their operations," he said. - ZimOnline
Thu 29 June 2006
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's government has rejected proposals
by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to send a high level
delegation into the country to probe the alleged harassment of trade
unionists in Zimbabwe.
Two weeks ago, the powerful Geneva-based labour group, urged the
Zimbabwe government to allow the ILO delegation into the country to
investigate allegations of harassment of labour leaders in the country.
Speaking to ZimOnline yesterday Labour and Social Welfare permanent
secretary, Lancaster Musaka said the government will not entertain any ILO
"The nature of the problem does not need a direct contacts mission.
The local ILO office should first investigate matters and should it fail,
perhaps we should go to the main ILO," said Musaka.
The ILO has been critical of the Zimbabwean government over the past
few years with the labour body two weeks ago rebuking Zimbabwe together with
Cambodia and Djibouti for persistently trampling on the rights of trade
Zimbabwe has routinely barred and deported foreign trade unionists
from the country over the past few years accusing the labour leaders of
seeking to undermine the government's authority.
The Harare authorities accuse the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), the biggest federation for workers in the country, of pushing a
political agenda against the government.
The ZCTU is a key ally of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change party which has presented the greatest challenge to
Mugabe's 26-year grip on power. - ZimOnline
Thu 29 June 2006
HARARE - Prominent University of Zimbabwe academic Heneri Dzinotyiwei,
on Wednesday joined the Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change
Dzinotyiwei, a respected mathematics professor, told journalists at a
press conference in Harare yesterday that he was now throwing his weight
behind Tsvangirai to oust President Robert Mugabe from power.
"I requested this press briefing to inform the public about my
decision to join the MDC. My decision has been driven primarily by the fact
that the MDC is the only viable option to fight for greater freedom and
"I am not aware of any other group that can play a meaningful role in
this regard apart from the MDC," said Dzinotyiwei, who was flanked by the
MDC's organising secretary Elias Mudzuri and party spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
Dzinotyiwei's re-entry into politics comes almost four years after his
little-known Zimbabwe Integrated Programme (ZIP) folded following little
success on the country's stormy political scene.
The MDC, which had presented the greatest threat to Mugabe's 26-year
grip on power, split into two warring factions last year following serious
disagreements over participation in the senate elections.
Tsvangirai heads the larger rump of the party with the smaller faction
now led by former university student leader Arthur Mutambara. - ZimOnline
Reporters' Forum- (Wednesday/Thursday)
Most Zimbabweans know him as Comrade Danger in the movie Flame. The forum
speaks to journalist and film actor Norman Madawo the author of 'White
farmer, Black warrior: A friendship out of tune in Zimbabwe.' The book looks
at how the farm invasion wreaked havoc on the personal relationships of
white farmers and their black workers. Madawo says the message behind the
book is akin to how a piano works, 'you need to play both the black and
white keys in order to get a proper tune.'
Behind the Headlines- (Thursday/Friday)
Nelson Chamisa speaks to Lance Guma from Vienna in Austria. The MDC
spokesman and Kuwadzana MP was there as a parliamentary delegate to the
African Caribbean Pacific- European Union (ACP-EU) joint parliamentary
forum. He says Zimbabwe took centre stage during several discussions at the
meetings. Who said what at the meeting? Chamisa gives the programme all the
On the Pulse- (Friday/Saturday)
Edene and Baby Kudu double team on the pulse. The two songbirds came on the
show on separate occasions as their albums were previewed. Lance brings the
two head to head for a show that is set to pack a punch.
For the programme schedules visit:
SW Radio Africa
Business Day (Johannesburg)
June 28, 2006
Posted to the web June 28, 2006
THE proposed Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) including SA, Botswana
and Zimbabwe is a step closer to reality with the signing of a memorandum by
Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk and his
foreign counterparts last week.
The sixth and last of the memorandums to be signed with countries along SA's
borders will link the newly created Mapung- ubwe National Park with
Botswana's Tuli Block and the Tuli Safari area of Zimbabwe to form the
Limpopo Shashe TFCA.
TFCAs -- also known as Peace Parks -- represent a new approach to the
conservation of natural resources and tourism development. They have the aim
of facilitating and promoting regional peace, co-operation and socio-
economic development for the countries involved.
While the biggest challenge lies in finding donors to help in the
development, the need to ensure community development, re-establish wildlife
migration across borders and deal with associated disease problems still
pose major obstacles.
Establishing a successful Peace Park requires substantial financial support
from the state, with perhaps the bulk of funding needing to come from the
The Peace Parks Foundation is the mandated fundraiser for TFCAs.
Willem van Riet, CE of the Peace Park Foundation, says about R5m is spent
just on preparation of memorandums of understanding for every Peace Park. He
says project development is heavily dependent on private donors.
For the development of the Limpopo National Park TFCA alone, a R60m grant
was secured from the German government through German development bank
Kredit-anstalt fur Wiederaufbau.
Through the environmental affairs and tourism minister and various
nongovernmental organisations, SA has invested R120m in the upgrading of
infrastructure in Mapungubwe National Park and Van Schalkwyk has called for
private sector involvement to ensure the project is a success.
Johan Verhoef, project co-ordinator of Mapungubwe National Park, says
consolidation of the park is another challenge, with some private land still
to be purchased.
The minister's department has set aside R30m for buying up privately owned
land in the middle of the park.
The park will comprise 1300km' of land from Botswana, 960km' from Zimbabwe
and 2500km' from SA.
Yet another challenge is getting communities involved. While SA does not
really have communities living in the area, Zimbabwe and Botswana do.
In Zimbabwe, the Tuli Circle Safari Area is used extensively for hunting by
Van Riet said most of the work in Zimbabwe would be done by the foundation
since most donors were not willing to invest in the country.
The situation in Botswana is different. Botswana has tourist facilities on a
number of privately run lodges that already attract about 20000 visitors
Mapungubwe National Park has added 100 beds to the region in the form of a
rest camp with chalets, a tented camp, wilderness trails and various
game-viewing facilities, hides and access roads to cater for a greater
stream of tourists.
Van Schalkwyk says analysis shows the number of visitors to the park should
reach 30000 a year, which will be a major boost for the economy.
Van Riet cites the Kgalaghadi TFCA as a good example. Instead of
international borders, the park has three gates, two in Botswana and one in
SA. Once inside, visitors can drive around freely.
Gate fees are shared between the two countries, while tourism facilities and
revenues are allocated to the country in which they are located.
While it is envisaged that the TFCA will enable tourists to drive across
international boundaries into adjoining conservation areas, the department
has also introduced a 2010 programme that will see the region's six TFCAs
become involved in the 2010 World Cup as alternative tourist routes and
destinations. This will also enable tourists to visit neighbouring countries
without bothering about borders.
However, Verhoef stresses that a tourism development plan has to be worked
out in a manner in which the benefits are shared equally.
The next major step is the formulation of the trilateral treaty. Ministers
need to kickstart the process and elect a lead country.
Verhoef says that getting into a private-public partnership -- particularly
with three countries involved -- is a great challenge.
But with the potential of bringing in 150000 tourists before the end of the
decade, he hopes the park will be ready in the next five years. But he adds
that this depends on the scope of the challenges.
The tenure of Tichaona Jokonya, who died last weekend, as Zimbabwe's
information minister started out with so much promise, but it ultimately
disappointed the hopes of many, writes former Daily News journalist Guthrie
Guthrie Munyuki writes:
When Ambassador Tichaona Jokonya, who died in Harare last weekend, was
appointed information minister, the move sparked a lot of hope among
journalists whose papers had been shut down by the government.
Jokonya, 68, replaced Jonathan Moyo whose tenure was riddled with
controversy and tainted by the closure of four newspapers.
Given his diplomatic skills and open-door policy, surely Jokonya held
the key to the opening of The Daily News, some of us thought.
Three months into office, Jokonya held a meeting with editors from the
state media and independent press. The Daily News was not invited, but
this was not really an issue because the invitation to editors was a
milestone in itself. That tradition had been stopped by Moyo.
In the meeting with editors, Jokonya promised to look into the issue
of closed newspapers, AIPPA and the harassment of state media journalists.
To his credit, Jokonya, unlike his predecessor, did not fire
journalists who were promoted by Moyo.
His policy was to allow continuation and hard work at both Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) and Zimpapers.
Thus, the minister was endorsed by everyone in the fraternity. He was
hailed as the man who could start a new chapter in the history of the
But Jokonya betrayed many journalists, especially those at The Daily
News who had warmed to his "kind" and "promising" pronouncements when he
When respected High Court judge, Justice Rita Makarau, ruled that MIC
chairman Tafataona Mahoso was biased against Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe (ANZ), all of us at The Daily News thought the time had come for
Jokonya to act decisively.
The ruling came in a case in which ANZ challenged the MIC's failure to
give a licence to The Daily News and Daily News On Sunday.
Two months after the ruling, no steps had been taken by the minister,
and so ANZ's acting chief executive officer and editor, John Gambanga, and
ANZ lawyers wrote to Jokonya asking him to act on the matter since the MIC
was, in law, no longer eligible to hear the case.
Jokonya promised to meet ANZ lawyers but after two weeks of reminders,
he slammed the door on Gambanga and the lawyers.
Instead, he said the MIC was doing a good job, its chairman Mahoso was
"correct" not to grant The Daily News a licence and AIPPA did not allow him
anything about the paper.
He did not pause to think about what he said when he took office,
neither did he explain why he had invited The Daily News editor and lawyers
to discuss the licence issue.
Just a week before his death, Jokonya had threatened journalists.
"You know what the end of a traitor is?" Jokonya asked during a press
"The end of a traitor is always death. The unfortunate thing about a
traitor is that you are killed by both your own people and the person whom
you are serving," he said.
Previously, he had called independent journalists weapons of mass
The late minister was in full support of the stringent media laws and
did little to change the landscape.
His tenure represents another lost chance to correct the wrongs in the
once thriving and vibrant Zimbabwe media.
Wednesday, 28 June, 2006
The labour court has ruled that Zimpapers should pay Z$10 billion
(R770 thousand) to the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists,
Mathew Takaona, writes Gugu Ziyaphapha.
The arbitrator ordered the government-owned newspaper company which
publishes The Sunday Mail to pay Takaona the inflation-adjusted amount as
compensation for unlawfully dismissing him two years ago.
Takaona, then the paper's acting news editor was fired after
addressing journalists from the banned Daily News and the Daily News on
He did so in his capacity as ZUJ President but Zimpapers said he made
statements at the meeting that were inconsistent with Zimpapers' interests.
He said: "I have the duty to express solidarity with all journalists
in trouble and to guide, lead and fight for their rights within the
parameters of the law. I have done no less, no more."
He was summarily dismissed without a disciplinary hearing, despite the
provisions of the paper's code of conduct.
The ZUJ president also wanted the court to have him reinstated but
Zimpapers said that was no longer possible. Zimpapers is appealing against
the judgment of having the amount
In papers, the group said the decision by the arbitrator would have
"the absurd effect of having Mr Takaona as the only known worker over the
past two years whose earnings actually matched inflation".
Meanwhile, lawyers representing the banned Daily News and its Sunday
title have requested the high court to set a date for their application to
be deemed licensed.
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the two papers,
is accusing the government of dragging its feet over its registration.
ANZ cited the late Information minister, Dr Tichaona Jokonya, as the
first respondent and the Media and Information Commission Chairperson, Dr
Tafataona Mahoso, as the second respondent.
Lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu said the death of Jokonya would not affect
their court challenge since the government will appoint an acting minister.
Jokonya and Mahoso filed arguments opposing the registration of the
two papers, saying the court did not have the right to declare the papers
The MIC term of office expired last month, but deputy information
minister Bright Matongo said Mahoso and his team had done a good job, an
indication that their term of office may be extended.
Wednesday, 28 June, 2006
By Tererai Karimakwenda
28 June 2006
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) released a statement on
Wednesday urging Zimbabweans to contact government authorities appealing for
the safety of Methodist Bishop Levee Kadenge, who was threatened by a state
security agent last week. Kadenge received threats on the telephone last
Thursday after he spoke at a meeting of religious leaders trying to map the
way forward regarding The National Day of Prayer which was held the
following Sunday. The church leaders were divided about the involvement of
Robert Mugabe, who made a politically charged speech at the event. Many of
those who opposed government participation say they have received threats
from state security agents since. The Lawyers group is urging Zimbabweans to
contact ministries that are supposed to protect the people and appeal to
them to perform their duty. Lawyer Otto Saki told us the days of silence are
gone and Zimbabweans must now speak out and hold the authorities
accountable. The aim of their campaign is to secure the safety of all
Zimbabweans, including government critics, by lobbying the relevant
Saki said the Lawyers had identified key government departments which
should be targeted and they are the ministry of Home Affairs, the Justice
ministry, the Police Commissioner, the Central Intelligence Organisation and
the Attorney General. He explained that individuals within these
institutions have been excusing their actions hiding behind the veil of
"following orders" from their superiors. Saki said it is time to hold them
accountable and let them know they will be prosecuted for the role they
play. The Lawyers are providing people with contact information for the
various government departments and hope Zimbabweans take some action. Saki
said we have to begin to rely on ourselves to change things in our own
A full statement from The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
regarding Bishop Kadenge and the campaign to protect all Zimbabweans can be
found on our website at www.swradioafrica.com
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
The executive director of The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Arnold
Tsunga joins Gugu In the Balance this week, as he prepares to return to
Zimbabwe after commemorating the U.N. International Day in Support of
Torture Victims in London on June 26th. Many activities took place that day
and incidents of torture and human rights abuses are reported to have
increased in Zimbabwe. Tsunga joined human rights activists, a coalition of
civic groups from Zimbabwe and South Africa and victims of torture. Reports
about torture in Zimbabwe were presented along with testimonials from
victims like the lawyer Gabriel Shumba.
Tsunga told Gugu that torture is being used very effectively by the
Mugabe regime as a tool to sustain power and to intimidate and silence
critics. He said the number of incidents of torture continues to rise and an
average of 2,500 cases are reported every year. Tsunga said one report
focusing on 15,200 cases reported between 1998 and 2005 found that there was
a massive increase in human rights abuses after the food riots in 1998. This
included extreme incidents such as murder and disappearances. It also
concluded that events like elections, referendums and mass action like
stayaways also brought with them increased reports of such abuses. He told
Gugu the majority of victims are human rights defenders such as political
activists and government critics who have had to change their methods of
Tsunga said in response the government has also changed its methods of
torture and is now using psychological tactics, repressive legislation and
unlawful detention to discourage critics because it does not want to lose
its political power. By unleashing terror on political opponents and
activists, Tsunga believes the government sends a message to people that
support for the opposition brings instability to the country.
Tsunga explained that the perpetrators of violence and torture are
state agents such as the law and order section of the police, the Central
Intelligence Organisation, youth militia groups, war veterans who support
the ruling party and increasingly the military, which is now running many
government institutions. The Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI)
officers are also unleashing violence on innocent Zimbabweans. Tsunga said
as a result there is no political will to punish the perpetrators of
violence. He explained how this makes him feel very sad, helpless and
powerless as a lawyer, no matter how hard the Lawyers for Human Rights try
to get justice for the victims.
Gugu explores all these issues and more this week In the Balance.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
June 28, 2006,
By ANDnetwork .com
Johannesburg (AND) Three Zimbabwean refugees staying at the Central
Methodist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa, are reported to have died of
suspected food poisoning after they were offered expired foodstuffs.
By Savious Kwinika
It could not be immidiately established as to which food outlet in the
city released the expired foodstuffs to the desperate refugees.
The Zimbabwe Political Victims Association (ZIPOVA) welfare officer,
Joshua Mambo-Rusere, has condemned the death of the refugees.
The Methodist Church is withholding the names of the deceased in order
to inform their next of kin first.
"This year alone, we witnessed several deaths of Zimbabwean asylum
seekers due to food poisoning and other natural causes emanating from
overcrowding at the church.
"Worse still, the South African food outlets take advantage of the
desperation among the Zimbabwean refugees go give them expired foodstuffs.
This is not healthy.
"Zimbabweans are always ill-treated in South Africa right from the
top... government officials, which comprise the home affairs, the police
down to the villagers... individuals. Xenophobia is quite terrible in this
country," said Mambo-Rusere.
He called upon the Methodist Church leaders to support efforts by
Bishop Paul Verryn, who is trying his level best to look after an estimated
1 500 refugees from Zimbabwe and others from around Africa.
There were no immediate comments from the church leader, Bishop
Verryn, who is said to have gone to the United States.
Those present at the church refused to comment about the incident.
While the number of refugees worldwide has reached a 26-year low,
UNHCR's annual global count of uprooted people rose last year to nearly 21
million, according to a report released recently.
The "2005 Global Refugee Trends" survey attributed the rise to the
refugee agency's expanding role in caring for the world's internally
displaced people (IDPs).
The annual report said that while the number of refugees dropped from
9.5 million in 2004 to 8.4 million last year, the overall number of concern
to the agency increased by 1.3 million - from 19.5 million to 20.8 million.
Much of the increase is due to a rise in the number of people living
in refugee-like situations within their own countries. UNHCR now counts 6.6
million conflict-generated internally displaced people in 16 countries as
being "of concern," compared to 5.4 million in 13 countries at the end of
AND, Johannesburg Bureau