The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing views, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage
Zimbabwe’s Continuing Self-Destruction
Africa Briefing N°38
6 June 2006
With scheduled presidential elections less than
eighteen months away, Zimbabwe faces the prospect of greater insecurity and
violence. The economy’s free fall has deepened public anger, and the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party wants to avoid a
popular vote by using the legislature it controls to establish a “transitional
presidency” and appoint a successor to Robert Mugabe, who has said he will
retire. By engineering a transition, Mugabe also intends to secure a dignified
personal exit that includes a retirement package and security guarantees.
However, such plans may come unglued due to wrangling within ZANU-PF. Through
all this the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been weakened
by a major leadership split.
Low voter turnout in November 2005 deprived the
newly created senate of any legitimacy, but the exercise further tightened
ZANU-PF’s grip on political power and patronage. Creation of the senate gave an
initial head start to the ZANU-PF faction aligned to Vice President Joyce Mujuru
in the presidential succession race, although the fortunes of the competing
ZANU-PF faction led by the Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities,
Emmerson Mnangagwa, have recently improved.
ZANU-PF’s policies, corruption and repressive
governance are directly responsible for the severe economic slide, growing
public discontent and international isolation. In April 2006, inflation
officially topped 1,000 per cent, helped by the decision to print $230 million
worth of Zimbabwean currency to pay international debts and sustain operations.
Unemployment is over 85 per cent, poverty over 90 per cent, and foreign reserves
are almost depleted. Over four million persons are in desperate need of food.
HIV/AIDS and malnutrition kill thousands every month. Agriculture, the major
source of foreign currency earnings, has been particularly hard hit. There are
severe shortages of basic consumer items, and the prices of fuel and food are
beyond the reach of many. The 2005 “Operation Murambatsvina” to clear urban
slums forcibly deprived more than 18 per cent of the population of homes or
livelihoods and badly damaged the informal sector, the lifeline for many urban
Fearing street protests to mark Murambatsvina’s
anniversary in May, the government has moved increasingly close to martial law.
It has banned rallies, marches and prayer meetings during the period surrounding
the anniversary and put security forces on high alert. Growing numbers of
students, religious activists and members of other civil society groups have
The rising influence of the military leadership in
the succession struggle is troubling. Zimbabwe’s armed forces have always been a
pillar of the ruling party’s power but recent months have seen increasing
military involvement in the party machinery and policy formulation. The
crumbling economy has meant a loss of government revenues, and the military rank
and file are being paid less and at irregular intervals, leading them into
criminality, allegedly including cross-border armed robbery. Government
difficulties in paying the troops raise a question of whether the security
forces can still be relied on to put down protests.
The current division within the main opposition
party MDC began over differences in strategy regarding the November 2005 senate
elections. While both factions agree on constitutional reform, elections in 2008
and a blueprint for economic recovery, they are divided over participating in
government and elections while ZANU-PF can dictate events in the legislative and
tilt the electoral field. Unless the opposition can put aside its feuds and
coalesce around a unified position, it will be difficult to maximise domestic
pressure on ZANU-PF to change its approach. The faction led by party president
Morgan Tsvangirai – which commands a larger following than that led by Welshman
Ncube and newcomer Arthur Mutambara – has unveiled a program of “democratic
resistance” and intends to pursue a non-violent campaign to compel the
government to agree to a democratic constitution and hold parliamentary and
presidential elections in March 2008. It is backed by important parts of civil
society including the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Early rallies have attracted large crowds,
reasserting the greater relative strength of the Tsvangirai group in comparison
to its MDC rival.
The fissures within both ZANU-PF and the MDC are
unfortunate in light of the fact that confidential 2004 talks, facilitated by
South Africa and recently made public by President Thabo Mbeki, nearly produced
a deal on a new constitution that could still serve as a starting point for a
transitional roadmap. South Africa has tried to use financial leverage, in the
form of a credit line, to press for new inter-party constitutional talks, repeal
of repressive laws and an economic recovery plan. Mugabe sidestepped the
initiative by printing enough currency to repay debts to the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) in February 2006.
The July 2006 summit of African heads of state and
government offers an opportunity to mobilise continental leaders behind a call
for urgent action to protect human rights in Zimbabwe and regional stability.
While tactical engagement by non-African governments with those very few more
reform-oriented figures within ZANU-PF may have merit, there should be no
relaxation of travel bans or financial sanctions in place against key members of
the regime or any developmental assistance until there is real change on the
ground. Unfortunately, the best the international community may be able to do at
this stage is maintain pressure and plan carefully how to support a transition
when opportunities finally arise for reengagement. Tentative steps by the UN
Secretary-General to become more involved in facilitating such a transition are
welcome but seem unlikely to gain traction.
Pretoria/Brussels, 6 June 2006
Mugabe using Zimbabwe’s clergy to spy and divide church
By Violet Gonda
5 June 2006
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 has 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, 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
Ncube said Mugabe is aware of the power of the churches in Zimbabwe and has
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.
Meanwhile Zimbabwean writer Cathy Buckle wrote in her weekly column “Letter
from Zimbabwe” that she was saddened this past week to watch a delegation of
church leaders being filmed by state television at a meeting with Robert Mugabe,
laughing almost uncontrollably as he hurled abuse at Archbishop Ncube.
Buckle wrote, “For a few moments the address actually had to stop because
the clerics were giggling and chortling so much. The cause for their hilarity
was President Mugabe's reference to Archbishop Pius Ncube's public statement
that he was praying for the President's death.”
She went on to say, “I sat in shock, overwhelmed with despair. This public
display of hilarity represented the moral leadership of our country. These are
the men who are supposed to be taking the pain and suffering of ordinary people
to the President and appealing for an end to the horrific deprivations. Their
laughter went beyond the bounds of diplomacy and even if it was just for show or
for the camera, it sent a chill through the air.”
The clerics were part of a
group of church leaders from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) who met
Mugabe at State House where they threw their support behind the
The Standard newspaper reported that the Secretary-General of the ZCC
Densen Mafinyane said during the meeting with 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.”
not able to get a comment from the ‘compromised’ church leaders.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zimbabwe opposition slates registration moves
June 06 2006 at 11:09AM
Zimbabwe's main opposition party says proposals to amend electoral laws to force
all political parties to register are "a clear assault on democracy", a
newspaper reported Tuesday.
Zimbabwe's political parties are currently
registered as voluntary organisations, a situation the ruling party of President
Robert Mugabe wants to change.
The Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic
Front (Zanu-PF)-dominated parliament is to debate recommendations by the
state-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) for all parties to be
This, the ESC said in a report last year, would
prevent the emergence of "rogue parties".
'This is a shame to the integrity of our nation'
But legislators from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are
not in favour of the proposals, reports the official Herald
"The recommendation is a clear assault on
democracy," said Tendai Biti, MDC member of parliament for Harare
Biti said there was a constitutional provision protecting the existence
of political parties.
"The existence of political parties and trade unions is guaranteed in terms
of section 21 of the constitution which deals with freedom of association and
assembly," the MP was quoted as saying.
State media has suggested that the registration of parties will allow the
authorities to weed out those planning "sabotage", a word that is emotionally
charged for the MDC.
In March several opposition politicians were arrested and accused of
planning acts of sabotage after a stash of weapons was discovered in the eastern
city of Mutare. The charges were later dropped.
National Security Minister Didymus Mutasa on Monday appeared to stoke the
fears of the MDC. Although he did not mention the party by name, he said there
were "some parties bent on destabilising the nation", the Herald reported.
"This is a shame to the integrity of our nation. We should have a law that
provides for the registration of political parties," he said.
Senior opposition politician Welshman Ncube said the registration proposals
were a "futile exercise", the Herald reported. - Sapa-dpa
Eighteen slain in Zimbabwe crash
June 06 2006 at 03:09PM
Harare - Eighteen people died and 43 were injured
early on Tuesday when a truck carrying mourners crashed into a tree in western
Zimbabwe, a police spokesperson told AFP.
"Eighteen people were killed on the spot after the
truck they were travelling in veered off the road and hit a tree... along the
Harare-Chirundu highway," police inspector Andrew Phiri said.
The truck was carrying mourners going to the town
of Majunge for a funeral, he said.
The accident is the latest in a string of road
disasters which have killed at least 40 people in the past month.
The Zimbabwean government last month mooted tougher
road regulations to ensure all drivers obey traffic rules.
Under the proposed regulations, drivers
involved in an accident would have their licences suspended for six months on
the first offence. A second offence within five years would lead to a life ban.
Zimbabwe funeral accident kills 18, injures 42
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Posted: 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- A Zimbabwe
police truck carrying mourners to a funeral veered off the road and hit a tree,
killing 18 people, officials said on Tuesday.
Police spokesman Inspector
Andrew Phiri said 42 people were injured in the accident in Zimbabwe's northern
district of Chirundu as the mourners traveled to the burial of an officer. He
did not say why the vehicle went off the road.
Last month 35 people died
within three days on Zimbabwe's roads in a spate of accidents largely blamed on
reckless driving and unroadworthy vehicles.
Analysts say soaring prices are
forcing Zimbabwe motorists to use worn-out tires on their vehicles, while
omitting crucial maintenance work, as the country struggles with a deepening
economic crisis most aptly illustrated in having the world's highest inflation
rate at 1,042.9 percent.
Copyright 2006 Reuters.
Activists in Zimbabwe Angered by Top Opposition Leader
06 June 2006
Human rights activists in
Zimbabwe are accusing one of the country's most senior opposition leaders of
threatening violence to maintain his position as the head of a pro democracy
Three weeks ago, Lovemore Madhuku was preparing for another
demonstration against President Robert Mugabe's rule. He is chairman of
Zimbabwe's largest and most militant pro democracy organization, the National
Constitutional Assembly, which is funded by German taxpayers.
theme of the protests are usually the same, the need for a new, more democratic
constitution for Zimbabwe.
Madhuku often leads the demonstrations, and is
regularly beaten up by police.
Now, Madhuku is being accused by some of his
colleagues in the NCA and an opposition political party of authoritarian
The incident which has stirred anger among pro-democracy supporters
came during a recent party meeting where Madhuku rallied majority support to
change the NCA's constitution so he could serve a third term as chairman. The
NCA constitution limits chairmen to two terms.
Local news reports have quoted
members of the NCA executive body who say Madhuku supporters threatened NCA
officials with violence when they expressed opposition to the idea of a third
Madhuku has denied the accusations in press reports, saying a
majority of members wanted to change the constitution, because they felt he was
the best person for the job.
John Makumbe, veteran political analyst and
human rights activist, has accused Madhuku of setting an unfortunate precedent,
and abandoning the moral high ground.
He also deplored the continuing silence
from the human rights community on the "Madhuku scandal," as he called it.
far the only call for Makumbe's resignation from the NCA has come from the
faction of the bitterly divided opposition party: the Movement or Democratic
Change, lead by Arthur Mutambara.
He called on Madhuku to quit immediately
saying he had lost the moral authority to criticize President Mugabe's human
rights abuses and violations of the national constitution.
He says Madhuku's
behavior has shamed all Zimbabwe's democratic forces.
A western diplomat said
Monday donor funding for the human rights community of non-governmental
organizations in Zimbabwe is now under review, following the Madhuku incident.
Zimbabwe facing meltdown
The Zimbabwean authorities do not want
the world to know about its plight - all western news organisations have been
banned from reporting from there
5.55PM, Tue Jun 6 2006
pictures from inside Zimbabwe show the country is on the slippery slope to
economic and political collapse.
Inflation in Zimbabwe is now running at more
than a 1,000 per cent. Money is virtually without value.
The average wage for
farmworkers is about two million Zimbabwean dollars a month - equivalent to
around £10 pounds. And yet a basket of food can cost five million
The Zimbabwean authorities don't want the world to know about its
plight - all western news organisations have been banned from reporting from
However, exclusive pictures from Martin Geissler show the extent of
the country's plight.
Earlier, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said
Zimbabwe's political tensions had left President Robert Mugabe's government
"increasingly desperate and dangerous" with no clear plan for resolving the
southern African country's woes.
The Brussels-based group said Zimbabwe's
economic freefall, the looming end of Robert Mugabe's presidency, and cracks in
the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), could all trigger unrest.
The African Union, it said, should use next
month's summit in Gambia to call for urgent action on Zimbabwe to protect
Mr Mugabe insists he is not to blame for Zimbabwe's
economic problems, pointing instead at sabotage by his domestic and Western
opponents in retaliation for his seizure of white-owned commercial farms for
The ICG said Zimbabwe faced the prospect of greater insecurity and
violence in the run-up to 2008 elections when Mr Mugabe's current six-year
presidential term ends - with power struggles over who might succeed him
engulfing both the ruling party and the opposition.
Mr Mugabe, 82, has ruled
since independence from Britain in 1980 and denies charges by both the MDC and
several Western countries that he has rigged polls to stay in power since 2000.