TAFADZWA Musekiwa, the MDC Member of Parliament for Zengeza,
yesterday dropped a political bombshell when he resigned his seat while in
exile in the United Kingdom, to which he fled last
Musekiwa, 27, insisted in an interview yesterday
that the government was trying to kill him, after arresting him many times,
during which he said he had been tortured by the police. The police have
denied the allegations, although they admitted recently that they were
investigating the torture while in police custody of Musekiwa's friend and
fellow opposition MP, Job Sikhala (St Mary's). Speaking from the UK, where he
successfully sought political asylum, Musekiwa said he had decided to resign
because there were still threats against his life. He said he had informed
Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC's spokesperson, of his resignation.
But in Harare yesterday, Nyathi denied that Musekiwa had quit. "You may think
that you have a scoop. It's not a story as far as we are concerned. He has
not resigned. Can you call him back? A member of the party does not resign
through the newspapers.'' Sources said the MDC was reluctant to announce
Musekiwa's resignation fearing it could jeopardise their campaign to win the
Highfield and Kuwadzana by-elections, due this month. The party won both
constituencies in the 2000 election. Musekiwa said: "The reason I am stepping
down is because the situation on the ground regarding my security has not
"I am also doing so in accordance with the Constitution
which requires that an MP should not be absent from Parliament for 21
consecutive sittings. This provision expires next Thursday. If ever the
threats against my life change between now and next Thursday, the right thing
to do would be for me to catch the next flight and join my colleagues in the
struggle against torture and this dictatorship.'' He said that he would
continue to participate in the struggle for democracy "and I will never,
never resign from the MDC and betray the legitimate struggle in our country,
but I will fight from a different position and location". Musekiwa said it
was not wise to die in Zimbabwe when he could contribute to the struggle in
safety from outside the country.
He said there were real
attempts on his life which Zimbabweans should appreciate. "Do you remember
that when my father died last year, supporters of the ruling Zanu PF in
Chivhu denied me an opportunity to bury him, but instead chased me away and
threatened to kill me? "You should take note that I was probably the
only MDC MP who was tear-gassed in my bedroom by armed people and escaped
from my house naked. Do you want me to come home, to be killed so that you
can believe that my life is in danger?'' Musekiwa, who is single, left the
country on 22 November last year, saying he was fleeing for his life. He said
it would be naive for anybody to fail to realise that the government was
behind the threats on his life.
"Why didn't the government,
through the police, arrest the people who attacked me during the night and
restrain Zanu PF supporters from denying me an opportunity to bury my
father?'' Musekiwa said he would rather serve Zimbabwe in a different
capacity "but at the moment I do not think dying in Zimbabwe would make the
maximum gains towards the democratic fight in which I have been engaged since
my days at the University of Zimbabwe". He said that he would continue to
support, when he could, the people of Zengeza who elected him in 2000. A
by-election to fill Musekiwa's seat is now set to be held. Another
by-election is expected to take place following the resignation of Mike
Auret, the MP for Harare Central (MDC). Auret resigned last month due to ill
health. By-elections are scheduled for Highfield and Kuwadzana on 29 and 30
The Highfield seat was declared vacant when the sitting MP,
Munyaradzi Gwisai, was sacked by the MDC last year. Kuwadzana fell vacant
following the death in remand prison of Learnmore Jongwe last year while
awaiting trial for the alleged murder of his wife, Rutendo, in July. The
police have been constantly arresting and harassing MDC members and
supporters, and other perceived opponents of Zanu PF, including members of
the clergy who have been detained, but later released by the courts without
Buthelezi warns of Zimbabwean refugee
influx March 13, 2003, 04:45
Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Home Affairs Minister, has taken his Zimbabwean
counterpart to task for what he calls the "rapidly degenerating" political
situation in that country.
Buthelezi said the situation could
lead to a flood of refugees. He made the comment yesterday, while meeting
with Kembo Mohadi, the Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister, in Cape
Mohadi dismissed the claims of a deterioration in
Zimbabwe as a "figment of the imagination". He said what prevailed was a
situation created between Zimbabwe and Britain. Mohadi said there was no
disorder in Zimbabwe, and he did not believe any Zimbabweans were coming to
South Africa on the pretext of seeking political asylum.
Three Matabeleland North Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislators
have been evicted from the government-owned Kamativi tin mine complex,
allegedly to make way for ruling ZANU PF supporters and youth militia trained
under the national service programme, it was learnt this week.
Joel Gabuza, Jealous Sansole and Peter Nyoni, legislators for Binga, Hwange
East and Hwange West respectively, were evicted last week from properties
they were renting on the complex.
The evictions follow harassment
by the youth militia, also known as "green bombers", of several tenants on
the complex, on which the government says it plans to build a training centre
for youths participating in the controversial national service
"We were kicked out last week," Nyoni told the Financial
Gazette. "We are being replaced by known ZANU PF supporters.
"They are now occupying the houses. Other houses in the compound are now also
being occupied by newly recruited green bombers," added Nyoni, who recently
clashed with the youth militia as they attempted to forcibly remove his
property from the house he was renting.
Sansole also confirmed in a
separate interview that he had been removed from the Kamativi tin mine
complex, where he had been renting a house for the past six
However, it was not possible to secure comment from Gabuza,
although Sansole said the Binga MP had also been evicted.
whole thing boils down to politics," Sansole said. "As members of the
opposition, they don't want us to see the goings-on where a national youth
service training centre is fully operational."
Officials with the
government-controlled Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which ran
Kamative tin mine until it closed in the 1990s, would not comment on the
evictions, saying the complex was now the responsibility of the Youth and
The ministry is in charge of the national service
programme and is spearheading the construction of a training centre at the
Although supposedly introduced partly to impart
marketable skills to unemployed Zimbabwean youths, the national service
programme has been dismissed as a front for the indoctrination of young
people by the ruling ZANU PF.
Youths trained under the programme
have been accused of violence and sexual abuse against members of the public
and MDC supporters. Female recruits have also levelled allegations of rape
against instructors and male trainees.
The government has denied
the reports, some of which are based on testimony by alleged victims of
systematic sexual abuse.
Regis Debres' concept of a "revolution within the revolution" is appropriate
today in Zimbabwe as we look at prospects for democracy within the ruling
party as the struggle for succession inevitably moves to a head.
Whether he will live forever or not, President Robert Mugabe will soon be
replaced by someone as leader of ZANU PF and as president of the
The question is how the leadership succession both within
ZANU PF and the presidency of the country is effected. Is Mugabe's successor
going to be handpicked or chosen by and from the people?
his controversial victory in last year's presidential election, Mugabe has
not had it easy; he has not had it his way both domestically
and internationally. He has been a beleaguered man, admitting of late the
fuel problem gives him "stomach aches".
He has been a
beleaguered man since the February 2000 defeat on his draft constitution, the
first real defeat Mugabe has experienced since independence. He certainly is
not used to defeats.
The drama we have witnessed since then could
be more due to adjustment to these changed realities. Admittedly, a tragic
Democratic pressures for good governance have not
relented, both internally and internationally. The main opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and civil society have questioned how
Mugabe won his presidency in March 2002, alleging that he won it by using
violence, intimidation and outright rigging. This is a perception held by
many people, even in the ruling party itself.
In fact, many
argue that ZANU PF and Mugabe have not won anything legitimately since the
referendum defeat. In other words, the claim is that we have been ruled by a
president and a government with questionable legitimacy since
If naked force, intimidation and outright electoral fraud
have kept ZANU PF and Mugabe in power since 2000, how has the President
remained at the helm of his party? Is he as popular now within the party as
he used to be in the 1980s and probably 1990s?
Or his fortunes
have been dwindling there too over the years? If they have, how has he
remained at the helm of the party? And can he successfully name his
successor, or something has happened?
While in national politics
Mugabe and his party's declining popularity have been demonstrated three
times in three years (February 2000 referendum, June 2000 parliamentary
elections and March 2002 presidential election), an opportunity to test
Mugabe's popularity within the ruling party has not quite presented
There has never been open competition for the position of
first secretary and president of the party since Mugabe became leader of ZANU
PF in 1976. That party has never had a leadership succession.
Mugabe has remained the unchallenged leader of his party for the past 27
years. He has been leader of his party by acclamation since 1976.
But one suspects Mugabe's popularity within the party, as has happened within
the country at large, has also declined appreciably over the years and he has
remained at the helm by insulating his position through all manner of
stratagems known to authoritarian parties and regimes
No equivalent of the February 2000 referendum, or
the June 2000 parliamentary elections and the March 2002 presidential
election has been allowed to test Mugabe's popularity within his party. It is
unlikely to happen now.
We know how Edgar Tekere was thrown out
of the party, and how Eddison Zvobgo is today frozen in the ZANU PF political
cooler. What is likely is that the race for leadership succession rather than
to oust Mugabe from the leadership of the party could well democra-tise ZANU
Mugabe made three very strategic appointments - one to the
government and two to the party, almost telling the nation and his party whom
and how he wanted to be his successor when he should retire. By appointing
the relatively young Emmerson Mnanga-gwa, Speaker of Parliament, the second
in the line of succession after the ageing triumvirate presidency, there was
no doubt the "anointed one" had been anointed.
The other two
appointments were of again Mnangagwa as party secretary for administration,
replacing loyal "civil servant" Didymus Mutasa and pushing him to obscurity.
Mnangagwa thus became the de facto secretary-general of the
The third strategic appointment that Mugabe made in 2000 is
that of the late wild-mannered Border Gezi who became the new national
political commissar, replacing the late mild-mannered Moven
The latter two appointments are closely related in that
the commissar takes his orders from and reports directly to the secretary
for administration on the state and health of the party and, more
importantly, on the cure.
The new national commissar was
immediately tasked with reorganising and restructuring the party, province by
province, weeding out "undesirable" and planting in "loyal" structures in
their place. This was a direct response to the referendum defeat and
near-defeat during the parliamentary elections, and in preparation for the
highly prized presidential election and the succession plan
Gezi had completed this process in Mashonaland Central, West
and East and Masvingo, where he helped the Hungwe-Mumbengegwi faction oust
the Zvobgo-Mavhaire faction when he met his untimely death. It is not clear
at what stage this process was in Manicaland, the Midlands, Matabeleland
North and South provinces.
But what was clear was that the party
was being re-invented in the leader or his intended successor's image, Gezi
giving it a Maoist "cultural revolution" flavour of sorts.
internal and international reaction to the March 2002 presidential election
spoiled the game plan, at least for now, if not forever. Something has
happened, forfeiting Mugabe's opportunity to name his successor for party
Facing a popular opposition party and
massive international pressures to democratise, ZANU PF has to find a way to
come up with someone with wider appeal not only to the generality of the
ruling party membership but to the country as a whole. It's no longer who
Mugabe wants; rather it's who the party and ultimately the country want who
will succeed him as leader.
It is in this fashion that recent talk
about "exit" plans and the denials and other speculations and posturing
thereof have to be understood. The blocked transition to democracy in
Zimbabwe is leading to democratic pressures within ZANU PF itself as
aspirants lean more towards popular appeal than to the incumbent
You may fault Mugabe in many other things, but as a
strategist, he is second to none; he is a cunning old man, indeed. But, as
the legendary Bob Marley says: "You can fool some people sometimes but you
can't fool all the people all the time." This is as it should
lProfessor Masipula Sithole is a lecturer of political science
at the University of Zimbabwe and director of the Harare-based Mass Public
economics So, Simba Makoni was right after all but failed only on the
diction. It seems Makoni's mistake last year was to use the word
"devaluation" when proposing the, well, devaluation of the Zimbabwe
President Robert Mu-gabe and the rest of the men and women
of the people in government would hear none of it. Mugabe even told
Parliament that people calling for a devaluation of the local dollar were
Even now, with every Zimbabwean and not just
exporters allowed to sell their hard-earned foreign currency at $824 to the
US dollar instead of the old and discredited $55, the government still
insists it has not devalued the dollar.
It appears it is only
the word and not devaluation itself that they hate. Crazy, isn't
And of course, the entire circus about whether the dollar has
been devalued or not is quite a brilliant illustration of the kind of
voodoo economics that got Zimbabwe into the mess it's in in the first
Olonga, Flower stay away
Mukanya thinks if
he were in the shoes of either Henry Olonga or Andy Flower, he would by now
have sought political asylum, either in South Africa where the cricket World
Cup tournament is winding up or in some other "proper country".
Those two gentlemen really shouldn't test providence too far by daring to
come back home. Not after giving Uncle Bob such a hiding with that
black armband protest.
Just when Bob thought he was scoring well
against opponents - gallivanting to France while the cricket tournament was
proceeding well in Zimbabwe without any opposition demonstrations to disrupt
the games - Olonga and Flower pitched up with this protest of
The two cricket players, who must be commended for showing
real bravery, put a spoke in Mugabe's wheel by turning up for Zimbabwe's
match against Namibia wearing black armbands and issuing a statement in which
they told the world they were "mourning the death of democracy" in
Mukanya's advice to these two brave warriors is not to come
After all, we have no evidence yet that the police have run
out of this mysterious liquid they are alleged to have dispensed liberally
to several Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters, and which
is believed to have caused illnesses and even death.
the hard times
Still on cricket, did anyone notice how fuel
supplies, although not back to normal, did improve somewhat during the World
The queues were still there but were shorter and shorter every
other day. I'm sure readers will have realised by now that it was all part
of attempts by ZANU PF to hoodwink the world into thinking that all is well
in Zimbabwe, that the food and fuel crises were a wild exaggeration of
With the few litres brought into the country as part
of the propaganda now finished, the hard times are back again for Zimbabwean
motorists and commuters.
And somehow Mukanya thinks it is this
fuel shortage and not those alleged plots by Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC to
kill Mugabe and seize power that will get Uncle Bob into real trouble one of
Less than a third of invited
African presidents pitched up for a summit held in Abuja this week to seek
ways to advance the continent's latest economic rescue plan, the New
Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).
Only seven out of
the 23 invited African heads of government and state were in Abuja to meet Mr
Olusegun Obasanjo of the "everything is just about fine in Zimbabwe"
Mukanya could not establish whether Uncle Bob was also
invited although we are sure if had been, he would have pitched up even if it
meant being the only one to turn up for the talk shop.
the case, if this is the kind of commitment most of these misfits we call
leaders in Africa have towards NEPAD, then one wonders why they expect the
West to be even bothered about it.
and Pacific (ACP) countries will undertake a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe
that does not include the European Union (EU), in what analysts this week
said signalled the widening of the ACP-EU rift over the southern African
The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) had initially
resolved last year to send a mission to Zimbabwe prior to the JPA's next
meeting, schedulled for March 31 to April 4 in Congo
JPA co-president Adrien Houngbedji was mandated to
approach the Harare authorities to seek assurances that EU members of the
joint assembly who were blacklisted by the Zimbabwean government in 2002
would be allowed to enter the country as part of the delegation.
The Zimbabwean government last year imposed a travel ban against several EU
officials in response to smart sanctions slapped by the 15-member economic
bloc against President Robert Mugabe and his top hierarchy.
spokesman Hegel Goutier said the EU, which last month renewed sanctions
against the Zimbabwean government for another year, had already taken a
position on Zimbabwe and European parliamentarians might therefore compromise
the findings of any mission to Zimbabwe.
Goutier told the Financial
Gazette from Brussels: "Normally, it should have been necessary to have the
mission under the JPA but in this case, it is better for the ACP to send a
delegation without the European Union.
"We have communicated this
to the Zimbabwean ambassador here and he said his government will propose a
date for our visit."
He added: "We know that the EU has a
misunderstanding with Zimbabwe and it has made its position clear so we don't
want them to influence our findings. We want to have an open discussion with
the Zimbabwean government and gather as much information as possible about
their problems. We can only reach a decision on Zimbabwe after we understand
the problems the government is facing."
Although officials of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have warned against allowing
Harare to influence the itinerary of the JPA fact-finding mission, Goutier
said the ACP delegation would be guided by the government during its
He said the ACP was not keen on asking Harare to grant
permission to banned EU officials to enter Zimbabwe, adding that the European
bloc was imposing terms on its African, Caribbean and Pacific trade
"We are not going to ask for any special favours from
Zimbabwe because we cannot go on a mission and ask the Zimbabwean government
to allow into its country people it doesn't like," said Goutier.
He added: "The EU cannot tell us what to do simply because they have called
us to a meeting. On principle, we cannot accept that. The JPA is not part of
the EU parliament so the EU cannot dictate to us what it wants us to do. The
EU cannot be allowed to continue behaving like that."
Wood, an official with the European Parliament, expressed surprise at the
He said: "According to the minutes of the meeting
held on 26 November last year, a decision was made to send a joint mission to
Zimbabwe and that the modalities of that mission would be worked out by the
"In principle, each side would nominate the
people of its own choice onto the mission so what Goutier is saying is very
He said even if the ACP were to send a separate mission
to Zimbabwe, the delegation would still be required to fulfil the JPA's
mandate and request Harare to allow banned EU parliamentarians to travel to
Analysts said the latest development indicated
deepening conflict between the ACP and EU, which have taken diverging stances
While the EU has rapped alleged electoral fraud and
human rights abuse by the ruling ZANU PF, many ACP countries have publicly
come out in support of the Zimbabwean government.
an ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meeting was cancelled because two
Zimbabwean government officials were refused entry into the EU Parliament
building in Brussels.
ACP countries refused to participate in the
meeting if the Zimbabwean officials were not allowed to attend.
The two, Paul Mangwana and Chris Kuruneri, are on the list of Zimbabwean
officials barred from entering EU countries.