BY WALTER MARWIZI & VALENTINE MAPONGA
THE family of an opposition activist, shot dead by police in Harare
last week, was yesterday "in the dark and confused" after his body was
reportedly seized from a Harare funeral parlour by the Central Intelligence
The operation, executed at Doves funeral parlour before 9AM yesterday
was intended to stop Gift Tandare's funeral from being held in Harare
tomorrow, sources said.
The Standard was informed the government feared the MDC activist's
burial could be turned into a platform for an anti-Mugabe tirade by
opposition supporters, already angered after the brutal attack on MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai by police last week.
The police are said to have feared massive, rowdy protests right after
the Granville Cemetery burial, police sources said.
Up until late yesterday, Tandare's family and more than 20 mourners
gathered at Number 5720 in Glen View 3 could not explain the fate of their
Distressed family members, who had planned to bury Tandare at
Granville Cemetery tomorrow, said yesterday their burial plans were
disrupted by the CIO and they were at a loss what to do next.
A distraught Tandare's sister, Veronica, said she was surprised to see
her sister, Jennifer, who stays in Mt Darwin, arriving at 3AM accompanied by
three men said to be from the CIO. She said the security men were looking
only for close relatives of the deceased.
"We don't even know what is happening," said a dejected Veronica.
"They came early in the morning, intending to get all the relatives but no
one got into their vehicle. We are just waiting to hear from them."
Gift's brother, Nicholas, said they refused to entertain the CIO
agents who wanted to take them for an unplanned burial.
"I am clueless myself," said Nicholas. "We had arranged that he would
be buried on Monday here in Harare. Initially we had wanted to bury him at
the rural areas in Mt Darwin but Chief Kandeya demanded four cattle for him
to be buried there. He said this was punishment for supporting the MDC." Mt
Darwin is a Zanu PF stronghold.
Nicholas said: "We are getting reports that he has already been buried
here in Harare."
The Standard was reliably informed the security team went to a funeral
parlour where they seized the body. Among them was one man identified at
Doves as Choto. It could not be established by the time of going to press if
he was indeed a CIO agent.
Sources at the funeral parlour said yesterday the CIO men arrived
early in the morning and demanded the body. The Doves officials said under
normal circumstances, the funeral home only dealt with the people who bring
in the body, not any other people who turn up later to claim it.
Sources said Tandare's burial order was hastily altered after the CIO
officers said that they had orders from the President's Office to remove the
body "as quickly as possible". Instead of the body being buried in Harare,
it would be taken to Mashanga Village in Mt Darwin, they said.
A man the CIO men said was Tandare's father signed the burial order.
Curiously "Tandare's father" was not at the funeral wake when the security
men arrived with Jennifer, said by relatives to be a Zanu PF Councillor in
By 9AM Tandare's body, which had not been dressed, had left the Doves
It was carried in a Doves vehicle registration number AAW 5749 and was
accompanied by another vehicle, registration number 751 937X.
Alec Muchadehama, a lawyer for the MDC yesterday confirmed the burial
order had been altered.
Muchadehama said he arrived shortly after 9AM only to be told that
Tandare's father had arrived with unknown people and had collected the body.
Nelson Chamisa, the party's spokesperson said yesterday: "We were
planning the funeral for Monday. Now we are getting reports that some people
who claimed to be from the CIO got to Doves this morning and took away
Tandare's body at gun-point and right now we don't know where that body is."
The MDC paid $6 million for the casket.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa could not be reached for
By Vusumuzi Sifile
BOTSWANA Parliamentarians last week called for the temporary closure
of their embassy in Harare "pending stabilisation of the economic and
political arena" in Zimbabwe.
They said the closure of the embassy would send "a strong signal" that
Botswana did not condone the worsening situation in Zimbabwe, according to
the official government mouthpiece, Botswana Press Agency (Bopa).
The MPs said Zimbabwe had become a liability to the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) region and had since "epitomised an example of
bad governance" and disregard for the rule of law.
This followed the violence that erupted at a Save Zimbabwe Campaign
prayer meeting in Highfield, Harare, last Sunday, resulting in the arrest
and brutal assault of 50 members of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), including president of the anti-Senate faction, Morgan
The police shot dead National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
chairperson for Glen View, Gift Tandare, and left leaders of the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign seriously injured.
Despite being directly affected by the political crisis and economic
meltdown in Zimbawe, Botswana, like South Africa, has been taking a "quiet
diplomacy" approach in dealing with her eastern neighbour.
The two countries have the largest numbers of Zimbabwean economic
refugees in the region. Botswana recently repatriated hundreds of Bakalaka
ba ka Nswazwi from Zimbabwe.
During a presentation on Botswana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
International Co-operation budget proposals for the 2007/08 financial year,
the debate on Zimbabwe "cropped up and gained momentum", chewing up more
than the two hours of the time allotted for debate on the budget.
The MP for Gaborone Central, Dumelang Saleshando, said Zimbabwe had
"become a liability to the SADC region and had since epitomised an example
of bad governance and disregard for the rule of law".
He proposed the temporary closure of their mission in Harare, "as a
means to send a strong signal that we do not condone the situation".
"It is totally a waste of public funds to be spending around P7
million (seven million Pula) during the next financial year on our mission
in Zimbabwe rather than close it temporarily," said Saleshando.
He also noted that although the "quiet diplomacy" employed by Botswana
might have its merits, it was currently failing to contain the volatile
situation in Zimbabwe.
"I just see it as a See No Evil, Hear No Evil approach that would
never yield any better results," he said.
Saleshando said he was "disappointed that now it appears we are
applying double standards because it is now a Black government oppressing
He said the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) should make a
statement at party level denouncing the "dictatorial, unjust and
dysfunctional" behaviour of its Zimbabwean counterpart, Zanu PF.
"If the BDP does not do such then it amounts to endorsing the way Zanu
PF oppresses the poor citizens of Zimbabwe because of the friendship that
the two have," he said.
Shoshong MP Duke Lefhoko said the silent diplomacy approach was
"How can we expect things to normalise when we do not talk to each
other regarding pertinent issues? We should stop fooling ourselves that when
we talk behind closed doors something better will come up," Lefhoko said
BY OUR STAFF
ARTHUR Mutambara, the leader of a faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland of the other
faction were arrested yesterday afternoon shortly before they could board a
plane to South Africa.
Mutambara confirmed in a telephone interview yesterday that he had
been arrested at the Harare International Airport.
He is being charged with inciting public violence.
Kwinjeh and Holland, who require further medical treatment are under
police guard at the Avenues Clinic. Kwinjeh faced the more challenging
predicament because the government has refused to issue her with an
Emergency Travel Document.
The arrests came shortly after Mugabe threatened to deal with MDC
activists calling for protests against his leadership.
They also came after the Ministry of Homes Affairs had withdrawn two
of the prohibition orders banning rallies and political gatherings in
Meanwhile, the Save Zimbabwe Campaign leaders said they would not
abandon their fight for a new and democratic Zimbabwe after being beaten up
by the police last week.
"We wish to make it clear to the people of Zimbabwe that commitment
(to) and struggle for a democratic Zimbabwe is unwavering regardless of the
torture that we have continued to experience at the hands of the police, the
CIO, the Zanu PF militia and the army," said the leaders in a joint
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE government was panicking as it emerged last week that the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) had completely run out of maize, sources at the
loss-making parastatal said.
There were fears that the shortage of maize could soon precipitate a
serious shortage of maize meal in the country, which is facing a poor
The sources said over the past few weeks, government officials were
making frantic efforts to import maize to avert an imminent food crisis.
"We have only managed to get 200 000 tonnes from Zambia which is
coming by road but it won't make any impact," said the GMB official. "On
average we are getting three or five trucks a day."
He said the problem was that as soon as it arrived, the maize was all
loaded up by millers who would have queued for it. "So we remain with a huge
When The Standard news crew arrived at the Aspindale depot several
trucks belonging to millers were in a long queue for the still-to-arrive
Some millers said they spent more than a week waiting for their
Officials at GMB Aspindale depot, one of the biggest in the country,
said they shut down the milling plant for four days a fortnight ago because
there was a shortage of maize.
"The shutdown sent panic waves among government officials. They now
appreciate the precarious situation in which we are," said the GMB official.
He said although they expected maize to start trickling into the silos
by the end of March and the beginning of April, the inflows would not make a
big impact on the maize situation.
They said most farmers were reluctant to sell their produce to the GMB
because its prices were lower than that of competitors, such as Agrifoods.
Already, the maize crisis has started to be felt in some dry parts of
Manicaland, Masvingo, the Midlands and Matabeleland North and South, where
villagers are facing shortages of maize meal.
In Bulawayo city, a 10kg pack now costs about $25 000, compared with
$12 000 in Harare.
Last week, the Minister of Finance, Samuel Mumbengegwi, said the
government was doing everything possible to import maize to avoid mass
"We are running around, looking for food and food is coming,"
Mumbengegwi told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and
But contrary to Mumbengegwi's frank admission, the GMB public
relations manager, Muriel Zemura, denied that there was a maize shortage.
The GMB is the sole marketer of maize in the country.
"The country has enough maize stocks to feed everyone," said Zemura.
"The milling plant at Aspindale never ran out of maize and the shutting down
of the plant can be due to a number of reasons, such as plant equipment
repair. The GMB would like to take this opportunity to reassure the nation
that there is enough maize to feed them and everything is being done to
Zemura said about 200 000 tonnes of maize had been imported from
Zambia and the balance was still coming in from other sources as arranged
through signed contracts.
She said maize from Zambia had been coming in through rail and road.
"About 10 000 tonnes have been transported by rail to Bulawayo and
another consignment from Maputo to Masvingo by rail should carry about 9
281mt of white maize. A further 30 000 tonnes should be received in the
northern parts of the country," Zemura said.
The GMB said crop assessments are currently in progress to determine
But the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has
already written off Zimbabwe's grain harvest for 2007.
"However, in Zimbabwe, continuous shortages and/or high prices of key
inputs such as fertilizer, fuel, draught animal power and spare parts are
expected to result in relatively low yields, as in previous years," said
BY OUR STAFF
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA)'s unpopularity has
spread to the rural areas, with fresh attacks being launched by staff at
Parirewa High School in Domboshava.
A government school, Parirewa is located 37km out of Harare and staff
at the school say they are living in a "quagmire" due to poor water supply.
"We have a well-installed water system here but we have been without
piped water since January," said Francis Mazinyane, the headmaster, last
Thursday. "We informed ZINWA about the problem but they have done nothing so
He was speaking at a ceremony during which the British Embassy donated
furniture and textbooks valued at $100 million towards the school's library
Mazinyane said teachers at his school were now fetching water from
unsafe wells and that both pupils and staff members have since resorted to
using Blair toilets due to Zinwa's fault.
"The sanitary issue is especially worrying as it spells a health
hazard," he said. "We risk being affected by cholera among other diseases."
The teachers expressed concern over the water problem, saying they
feared for their lives.
"We have been using unprotected water since the beginning of the term
and we fear for our lives and that of our families.
"My nine-month-old baby was recently ill with dysentery and I do not
know what will happen next," said one teacher who preferred anonymity.
The only borehole serving the community is not functioning.
The school reportedly closed temporarily for two days in January in a
bid to press ZINWA to take action but the troubled water authority is said
to have failed to deliver "due to lack of funds".
"The school is in a deep crisis and the problem is that some of the
villagers are not supportive," said one villager. "For example, there was a
time when the teachers resorted to fetching water from a nearby well, only
to have the owner mess up at the vicinity in order to discourage them."
Mazinyane called on well-wishers to rescue his school which he said
was facing a host of other problems.
"We cannot rely on ZINWA any more, hence our plea to well-wishers out
there. It is encouraging that the School Development Committee (SDC) has
started digging wells for the school."
Mazinyane appealed for help towards the development of the school's
"We only have 20 classrooms against 28 classes and during the rainy
season, this disparity forces us to combine classes, thus disturbing
progress. We are contemplating scaling down our classes to solve this
"Accommodation is yet another problem as we only have 20 houses,
against a huge number of 70 people (staff together with family members) who
require school accommodation," he said.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
HARD-PRESSED Zimbabweans have reacted angrily to President Robert
Mugabe's announcement that he will stand in next year's presidential
They say his continued rule would worsen the economic and political
crisis in the country.
Mugabe, 83 years last month, has said he would stand again in 2008 if
his party asks him to.
Mugabe made public his intention after he failed to prolong his stay
in power under the pretext of "harmonising" the presidential and
parliamentary elections. That strategy failed to garner unanimous support in
Ordinary Zimbabweans last week told The Standard in a snap survey
Mugabe must concede he has failed and pass on the baton to more mentally
agile people, who can forge new ideas to save the country from total
Most said they could not imagine how they would survive if Mugabe was
given another term of office.
Chris Dube of Glen Norah in Harare said Mugabe no longer had Zimbabwe's
interests at heart, though he fought for its independence.
"If he had the country's interests at heart, he would just leave and
let someone else take over. Can't he see people are living miserable lives
because of his actions? Mugabe should be gentleman enough (and retire)," he
With inflation almost at 2 000%, the majority of Zimbabweans are
living difficult lives.
Dube said Mugabe's most recent reckless "go hang" statement to the
international community showed clearly that he did not care about the state
of the country, as long as "he and his family get all what they want".
Mugabe was responding to criticism from Western countries angered by
the severe torture and beating of opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and civic activists by Mugabe's security agents after last Sunday's
aborted Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer meeting.
Though a staunch Zanu PF supporter, 36-year-old Amos Mugoni of
Mufakose said he was equally devastated to hear that Mugabe wanted another
term of office. Mugoni said he could not entrust the future of his children
"to such an old man".
Mugoni, an unemployed father of three, said he wanted another person
from the ruling party to take over.
"I appreciate what he has done for this country but the man is now too
old," said Mugoni. "We have a lot of educated, young Turks in the party who
can replace him."
A man identifying himself only as Dan, for fear of victimisation, said
with the current poverty among Zimbabweans, Mugabe would be "shocked to
death" when the results of the 2008 election are announced.
He said no amount of intimidation, beating or "politicisation of food"
by Zanu PF would force hungry people to vote for Mugabe again.
At Mbare Musika where he sells vegetables, Dan said: "Even in Uzumba,
where I come from, people have said: Enough is enough. The current drought
we are experiencing this year is because the spirits are angry with him over
the way he is persecuting his own people."
University of Zimbabwe political commentator Heneri Dzinotyiwei said
Mugabe was very popular in the 1980s but has since "lost the plot." He said
it would be very selfish for Mugabe to stand for the presidency again.
BY VALENTINE MAPONGA
THE trial of Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) boss Tshinga Dube's son
Mthulisi, recently arrested for illegal possession of diamonds and gold
worth an estimated $50 million, has been set down for next month.
Mthulisi (24) was arrested two weeks ago at his father's home at 20
Metcalf Road, Greendale, Harare, in a raid by the police, acting on a
Dube appeared briefly in court on Wednesday for a routine remand and
was remanded on $2 million bail to 12 April. He is facing one charge of
contravening sections of the Precious Stones Trade Act after he was found in
possession 1 164 pieces of diamonds and another for contravening sections of
the Gold Trade Act chapter 21:03 for illegally possessing 7.82 grams of
It is the State's case that on 23 February this year, police officers
working on a tip-off raided Dube's home in Greendale and searched the house.
They discovered diamonds and gold in his brown suitcase. Further
searches in another room resulted in the recovery of one diamond scale and
an electric scale, used to weigh diamonds and gold.
Reads part of the State's case: "1 164 pieces of diamond were taken to
the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) for verification,
while the 7, 82 grams of suspected gold were taken to the Department of
Metallurgy for assaying."
According to the court papers, the State intends to produce two
affidavits as exhibits in the court.
The trial is likely to open a can of worms in the illegal mineral
activities in the country by senior government officials.
A United Nations report, on the exploitation of mineral resources in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo, produced five years ago, named Tshinga
Dube among senior government officials and army officers accused of
exploiting minerals in the DRC.
Since the police launched Operation Chikorokoza Chapera, a clampdown
on illegal mining activities late last year, more than 31 000 people have
been arrested so far. In one of these high-profile cases, the principal
director in the Ministry without Portfolio, William Nhara, is in remand
custody after his arrest early this month at the Harare International
Airport for allegedly trying to smuggle diamonds out of the country.
BY KHOLWANI NYATHI
BULAWAYO - When his father offered him space to build a two-roomed
house in his yard in Njube high-density suburb several years ago, Mondli
Ndebele (35) celebrated as he could not raise money to buy his own
residential stand. But the world collapsed around him when the government
destroyed all "illegal" structures under the internationally-condemned
State-sponsored clean-up operation.
His treasured "Isitangwena", as the illegal structures are popularly
known in Bulawayo, was not spared.
Ndebele, together with his small family and hundreds of other homeless
families, were bundled into army trucks and dumped at a farm about 30km
They are victims of the government's Operation Murambatsvina that left
nearly a million people homeless and affected more than two million people
in May 2005.
Ndebele was eventually thrown a lifeline by his brother in South
Africa, who offered him temporary sanctuary at a house he was building in
the sprawling high-density suburb of Cowdray Park.
But hardly a year after moving into the new house with his wife and
two children, Ndebele finds himself back where he started - facing another
This comes barely three months before the country commemorates the
second anniversary of the universally condemned clean-up operation.
He is among 239 residents from the new high-density suburbs of
Emganwini, Cowdray Park and Pumula South, who have been issued with eviction
notices by the Bulawayo City Council for staying in incomplete houses.
"Last week, the council wrote to us saying we must move out of these
houses until they are complete. We have nowhere else to go," said a dejected
"There are no toilets because my brother has not been able to pay the
contractor to complete the sewer system, but at least we had some shelter."
The houses have no basic ablution facilities but they offered better
refuge to victims of Operation Murambatsvina, whose welfare has been
worsened by the deepening economic crisis, which has seen the prices of
basic commodities skyrocketing beyond the reach of ordinary Zimbabweans.
According to a recent report of the council's town lands and planning
committee, there are hundreds of residents staying in houses without
The council fears an outbreak of diseases as some of the houses have
neither toilets nor running water.
These include more than 700 allocated houses under the government's
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle in Cowdray Park. People there use the bush
"The initial letters gave the occupants (239) 21 days to vacate the
houses. Follow-up letters had been written giving the occupants 14 days to
vacate," read the council report. "The letters have, however, been ignored
by the concerned."
Bulawayo executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube said although the
council sympathized with the affected residents, allowing them to stay in
the incomplete houses was a health risk to the city's population.
"In fact, the ministry (of Health and Child Welfare) will descend on
us," he said. "It is degrading for our residents to stay in such
A fortnight ago, the residents were given a temporary reprieve after
council resolved to organise a meeting with private developers and the
affected residents before carrying out the evictions.
Cowdray Park Councillor Stars Mathe said the suburb alone had 600
people staying in houses without toilets.
She urged council not to carry out the eviction, saying Cowdray
residents, like other people around the country were also feeling the pinch
of the current economic meltdown.
"There are a lot of other people who were allocated stands by council
and others bought houses from private developers but also cannot complete
them because of the economic environment," she said.
Two weeks ago, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and
Urban Development, Ignatious Chombo appealed to local authorities to spare
Garikai beneficiaries from eviction, saying the government would soon
release money to complete sewer and water reticulation.
Bulawayo City has more than 70 000 people on its housing waiting list
and housing delivery has been slowed down by the seven-year economic
By Bertha Shoko
TESTIMONIES of Zimbabwean women from all over the country featured in
a recent report by the Zimbabwe Women's Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN)
reveal the disturbing reality that the lack of sexual rights is a major
factor resulting in them being more vulnerable to HIV infection than men.
The report, "Sexual Rights and Access to Aids Treatment Among HIV
Positive Women in Zimbabwe: A Situation Analysis", shows the numerous
challenges that women, especially those from rural areas, face in accessing
HIV and Aids treatment,disclosing their status and living positively with
the disease, among other
The research was conducted specifically in Harare, Chitungwiza,
Epworth,Gwanda rural, Esigodini, Zvishavane urban and rural, Rusape urban
and peri-urban and Makoni rural. The majority of women involved were widows
(52%) and 25% were married. About 14% of the women were divorcees and about
6% were single. It is in the report's key finding that men use power
dynamics to refuse condom use, insisting they are for use with prostitutes
only. This makes most women feel guilty and lose the 'safe sex' battle.
Of all the women interviewed, 62,8% admitted they did not know the
status of their sexual partners. The study revealed that most of the women
were not practising safe sex even in situations where their husbands knew
they were HIV positive.
One married woman from Gwanda narrated her ordeal: "My husband refused
to use condoms. It got to the stage where it went out of hand: on top of the
beatings I received for initiating condom use, my husband informed church
mates. The prophet at the church pronounced me mad and I was bound in
Another woman from Rusape, Tsanzaguru explained: "Even if the wife
notices signs and symptoms of the husband being positive and advocates for
condom use, men still refuse to use condoms on women they have married. Men
claim they only use condoms on girlfriends."
The report noted that in the few instances that women reported success
in condom use it was "attributed to persistence, assertiveness, tact,
creativity and making excuses to avoid sex without a condom".
One married woman from Zvishavane testified: "The challenge I met
around the use of safer sex practices within my house is that my husband
feels itchy during sexual intercourse and that is why he refuses to use a
condom. I had to be strong for him to accept condom use and also our health
On the same issue another married woman from Makoni East said: "I
started insisting on condom use well before I knew my HIV status. Each time
I would have sex with my husband, I got infected with STIs. I had pain on my
side. When I tried to use condoms, I realised I did not get infected with
STIs and the severe pain on my side would vanish. I then insisted we use
condoms with my husband. It was not an easy decision. We had our fights and
terrible experiences but I stood firm."
Other challenges HIV positive women face is that of disclosing their
status to their families and their spouses or partners. According to the
study, most women knew about their HIV status before that of their husbands
There were reports of accusations of witchcraft and bringing HIV into
the home, physical violence and strained relationships after disclosure of
One widow from Sangano clinic in Rusape expressed her fears: "I tested
positive and my husband is dead. I have three grown up children and am
finding it difficult to reveal my status to them. My first child is married,
the second is at University doing a degree in Medicine and the last one is
in Form 4. "Ko mukwasha anozoti chii? Anozofungei pamusoro pangu?" (What
will my son-in-law think? What will he think of me?)
On treatment, the report shows that though most women knew about HIV
and Aids treatment options they could not access treatment because of high
consultations fees and unavailability of the drugs.
Only a few women in the rural areas had access to Anti-Retroviral
drugs from provincial and central hospitals.
"While Cotrimoxazole is free in the public health institutions, many
women could not afford to pay a consultation fee as per cost recovery
Poverty is one of the main reasons why most women living with HIV and
AIDS were not accessing treatment.
"The study established that 49.9% inurban areas, 50.7% in peri-urban
areas and 57.4% in rural areas were onherbal treatment, which was preferred
largely for its cost-effectiveness."
The ZWRCN instituted the research as part of its process to
preposition itself to mobilize support for an environment in which women are
able to access treatment and enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and
By Bertha Shoko
Non-medical staff at Parirenyatwa hospital are reportedly on strike
following a salary dispute with the Health Services Board, thus crippling
the administrative operations at the referral centre.
Standardhealth understands the non-medical staff are bitter because
the board, now responsible for their salaries, awarded nurses and doctors
salary increments recently, allegedly snubbing them.
A clerk showed Standardhealth his net salary of $91 000, saying it was
unfair for the board to sideline non-medical staff because "our work is
He vowed not to go back to work until the salary issue was resolved.
The clerk said: "We are very unhappy about this. We all need each
other (non-medical and medical staff) to ensure the smooth running of this
hospital but the Health Services Board doesn't seem to realise this."
More than 500 supporting staff were last week camped outside the
building, demanding to be immediately returned to the Public Services
payroll, which they claimed "does not discriminate".
The health services board took over the payment of medical and
supporting staff at government hospitals in 2005 in an effort to improve
conditions of service for Zimbabwe's frustrated health workers.
Due to poor working conditions and poor remuneration, the health
sector has been hit by a massive brain drain as many nurses and doctors have
sought greener pastures in the private sector or outside the country.
The striking non-medical staff, who include kitchen staff,
administration clerks, accountants, mortuary attendants and cleaners, told
Standardhealth they were tired of talking percentages when they went to the
negotiating table and all they wanted were salaries which enabled them to
"live like people, not animals".
One worker, speaking on condition they were not named said: "These
people want to turn us into scavengers. We need salaries that can buy us
decent food, pay school fees for our children, come to work every day and
afford rent in decent neighbourhoods.
"At this rate we are going to end up unable to afford the rentals and
become squatters. And, of course, you know the conditions that squatters
live in." The workers said they wanted their employer to take into
consideration the hyperinflationary environment in the country when
They insisted they wished to be returned to the Public Service
The striking workers said they were being told "continuously" there
were meetings being held "in high offices" to resolve their grievances. They
said they were being urged to return to work in the meantime.
The director of operations at Parirenyatwa hospital, identifying
himself only as Manyawi, said he was standing in for the group's chief
executive officer, Thomas Zigora, who is reportedly out of the country.
By Tapiwa Zivira
FOR us, the residents of Highfield suburb, last Sunday was an
extraordinary day: the place turned into a battleground, pitting the heavily
armed police against the people - reminding older residents of set-tos
between the two during colonialism.I woke up, hoping to attend the prayer
meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign and other civic
The meeting was to be held at the Zimbabwe Grounds, a 15-minute walk
from my home.
At around 10am, I was on my way.
At almost every street corner, there were clusters of policemen in
blue riot gear, armed with batons, teargas canisters and shields, looking
ready to pounce on the multitudes of passers-by going about their business.
I noticed that in each group of about seven officers, one was armed
with a menacing AK47 assault rifle and that left me wondering if there soon
would be war.Machipisa shopping centre looked deserted, in the absence of
the usual vendors, touts and weekend guzzlers.
All the shops and beer halls had closed down, probably on police
orders.The Zimbabwe Grounds had been sealed off and all the entrances were
manned by groups of alert police officers taking pleasure in brandishing
After discovering that there was very little chance of the prayer
meeting taking place at all, I started on my way back home and this is when
I met the worst horror of my life.
As I crossed Mangwende Drive, near Canaan bus terminus, a water cannon
police truck pulled up at the terminus, and before I knew it, the vehicle
had started training high pressure water all over and I could see people
dashing for safety into nearby houses.The truck went on spraying the water
all over the roadsides and anxious residents walked out of their homes just
after it had passed.
But that was not to be the end, as minutes later, the commotion was
renewed after policemen in a pick-up passed by, firing teargas canisters
randomly and I might have choked to death, but for a caring woman who called
me out to wash my face at her house.
I later learned that this was happening all over Highfield and Glen
Norah.By now the whole suburb seemed engulfed in choking tear-smoke as the
police continued to unleash their weaponry against defenceless people who
had wanted to enjoy their Sunday afternoon in the comfort of their homes.
As I proceeded home, I met another group of more than a dozen
policemen approaching the Mangwende Drive intersection near Mhizha primary
school. They seemed to have sparked a row with residents who had probably
been incensed by the attacks on their homes and in a defensive stance
several people were throwing stones at the policemen.
I watched the whole scene from behind the safety of a ZESA transformer
box.The policemen were losing the battle as the teargas and sjamboks had not
much effect on the youths determined to defend mothers and their children
from the police attacks.The situation rapidly deteriorated into open
confrontation, with the residents driving back the group of policemen under
a hail of stones, as the teargas drifted back in the policemen's direction.
I caught sight of one red-eyed policeman raising his rifle and aiming
and there was a loud bang and the residents, mainly youths, scattered all
over for safety. I did not understand what had happened until I saw one
hapless young man prostrate by the roadside, blood gushing out of his chest.
That is when I realised the hard fact that the police had really taken the
extreme measure of ruthlessly shooting without firing a warning shot.
In a few minutes, the street was empty, except for the policemen who
had surrounded the victim of the shooting. From my hiding place, I could
clearly see the cruelty on their faces.What followed was a rather eerie
silence as the empty stone-strewn streets resembled an abandoned
Meanwhile, at Gazaland shopping centre, running battles continued as
police were beating up anyone in sight and forcing shops and bars to close.
I threw caution to the winds and proceeded to the shopping centre, but
near Mataure night club, I was greeted by the grisly sight of policemen
stamping on the heads of several men who were lying on the ground, wailing
at the top of their voices, in pain. Poor souls! I was about to count the
men when one of the officers looked in my direction.
My instincts told me to rush home before I came to any harm. At home,
I learned on the State radio that the man I saw being shot down had died.
It was Gift Tandare, the MDC activist. My heart sank and I cried until
I could shed no more tears.
By Godfrey Mutimba
MASVINGO - Twenty Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) activists, arrested
last week after defying a police ban on demonstrations, allege they were
severely tortured while in custody, a Masvingo magistrate heard last week.
Five of them were seriously injured but were denied access to medical
The women were arrested while protesting against the intended
take-over of water and sewer reticulation in Masvingo city by the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (Zinwa).
They appeared before Masvingo magistrate, Learnmore Mupandasekwa, who
remanded them out of custody.
The magistrate ordered that they be taken to hospital for medical
examination and that the police investigate the assaults.
Their lawyer, Dumisani Hwacha, had demanded that action be taken
against the police officers who tortured the women.
"They were assaulted and some of them seriously," said Hwacha. "We
demanded to the court that the perpetrators be brought to book. One of my
clients was allegedly struck by a bunch of keys and she sustained a deep cut
on her head."
Prosecutor Mirirai Shumba told the court that the 20 activists,
together with other women, demonstrated in the city in defiance of a ban on
all demonstrations, political rallies and meetings.
They were remanded to 4 April.
The women said that they were subjected to severe beatings by the
police officers from the Law and Order section, who accused them of being
opposition Movement for Democratic Change activists.
The women, who were later joined by angry men, marched towards Zinwa
offices but they were ruthlessly dispersed by armed anti-riot police.
They were kept in detention for four days, where the police allegedly
took turns to assault them with batons, clenched fists and booted feet, said
One of the victims, Winnie Sedeya, who had a visibly swollen face and
feet, said the torture was so severe she thought she would die.
"We were severely brutalised by several police officers during our
stay in the police cells. I sustained serious injuries but we were denied
access to medical attention," she said.
Jane Masuno, who sustained a deep cut in the head, said they were
ordered to sing liberation war songs.
"After we were beaten thoroughly, we were forced to sing liberation
war songs and also forced to chant Zanu PF slogans. They threatened to shoot
us if we demonstrate again," she said.
Woza was founded by Jennie Williams, who last week received the
International Women of Courage Award in Washington, DC, in the United
The award was in recognition of her role in the fight against the
continued human rights abuses by the government of President Robert Mugabe.
Williams was presented with the award by the US secretary of state
Condoleezza Rice at the White House.
Established in 2003, WOZA, a civil society organisation now has a
membership of more than 45 000.
By Our Staff
BULAWAYO - Late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo's son last week threw his
weight behind the newly-formed Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (PUMA), which
is pressing for compensation for victims of Gukurahundi in which more than
20 000 people in Matabeleland and the Midlands were killed in the 1980s.
In a speech read on his behalf at a public meeting organised by a
group called Umhlahlo Wesizwe at a hotel, Sibangilizwe Nkomo said his
organisation would lend support to any organisation that sought to bring
those involved in the Gukurahundi massacres to justice.
"We want to recognise our colleagues in PUMA who are also holding a
rally in the city and we fully support their programmes," he said.
PUMA is among other groupings advocating for the creation of an
Ndebele state within Zimbabwe and compensation for Gukurahundi victims.
Umhlahlo Wesizwe, of which Sibangilizwe Nkomo is also a member, has
what it calls 17 commandments that advocate for the revival of the old PF
Zapu and the arrest of the architects of the 1980s military campaign in the
Since Joshua Nkomo's death, Zanu PF has tried to use his name to shore
up its waning support in Matabeleland through the staging of the Umdala
But there are growing calls for the government to compensate
The military campaign was viewed as a crackdown on PF Zapu supporters.
In his autobiography released in 1983, Joshua Nkomo accuses President Robert
Mugabe of unleashing the North Korean-trained 5 Brigade on defenceless
Meanwhile, PUMA was allowed to hold a rally at Stanley Square despite
a police ban on political meetings in major cities, including Bulawayo.
The United People's Party (UPP) was denied permission to hold a rally
over a week ago and only did so after defying a police ban. The anti-Senate
faction of the MDC was also blocked from holding its rally in Bulawayo.
Civic groups were quick to question, the government's apparent double
standards. The Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative (ZLPI) said this would
raise suspicions that PUMA was an extension of the ruling party.
But PUMA officials denied the charge, saying their rally was
sanctioned by the police since the party is "not violent" and "seeks to work
Max Mnkandla, the president of the ZLPI dismissed PUMA "as a party
with Zanu PF links".
But PUMA dismissed the allegations and at the rally addressed by its
President Leonard Nkala, vice-president Alexious Sibanda and
secretary-general Pinos Dube, called for a breakaway Matabeleland state,
saying the region had faced years of neglect.
BY OUR STAFF
GLOBAL Steel Holdings Limited (GSHL), given management control of
Ziscosteel on a silver platter last year before quitting in a huff, nearly
fleeced the troubled steelmaker through underhand dealings, a report by a
portfolio committee reveals.
GSHL was given management control of Ziscosteel in March last year.
The arrangement provided for a management contract involving investments by
GSHL of US$400 million in the parastatal in exchange for a 20-year
concession to manage the parastatal under a Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe-sanctioned Rehabilitate, Operate and Transfer deal.
GSHL left Ziscosteel suddenly, ostensibly on the grounds that the
parastatal was not receiving adequate supplies of coal from Hwange Colliery.
Zisco requires 60 000 tonnes of coal a month.
In an analysis of the collapsed marriage that appeared to have been
made in heaven, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs,
Industry and International Trade unearthed shady dealings by the Indian
firm, apparently designed to fleece Ziscosteel of millions of dollars.
The committee said GSHL held a meeting with Knight Frank, property
managers of Pearl House, to increase rentals and backdate such increases.
Ziscosteel's Harare offices are located in Pearl House.
"If the increase had been entertained by the finance division,
Ziscosteel would have been prejudiced of $433 373," the committee said.
It said that GSHL had informed a South African supplier of graphite
electrodes, Ucar to increase the price to R31 450.50 from R26 560 a tonne.
The committee said; "This would have also resulted in a prejudice to
Ziscosteel of R58 686 for 12 tonnes on order."
The committee noted that due diligence carried out did not highlight
certain pertinent information on the investor's financial standing and
"GSHL is reported to be facing a lawsuit for improper conduct in
Texas, USA for receiving the concession to run Nigeria's Ajaoukuta Steel
Company Limited, with allegations of corruption and bribery cited," the
GSHL was chosen on the basis that its contract with a Nigerian company
had resulted in output from zero to two million tonnes of hot metal in two
years; a strong balance sheet with an asset base of US$8 billion, the
holistic nature of investment in upgrading the related support
infrastructure; and the investment capacity to add value to Ziscosteel's
The coming in of GSHL into Ziscosteel led to the replacement of the
then managing director Gabriel Masanga by Lalit Seghal, who left the
troubled steelmaker in a huff in August.
The committee recommended that the government urgently look for an
investment partner for Ziscosteel and the selection process should follow
BY NDAMU SANDU
ZIMBABWE's failure to retain key professionals is costing the country
US$200 000 per individual, a parliamentary portfolio committee heard last
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) President Callisto Jokonya
told the committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and International Trade on
Tuesday the brain drain resulted from the government's failure to take
labour issues seriously.
Jokonya said: "It costs US$200 000 to train a doctor and when those
doctors are trained we have not put safeguard measures to retain them."
He said the doctors' exodus was a loss on the country's balance sheet
as it was taking away a valuable asset to another country's balance sheet.
Jokonya was speaking to the committee on the problems besetting
He said the 2010 World Cup soccer showcase in South Africa had
resulted in a number of skilled Zimbabweans trekking across the Limpopo in
search of greener pastures.
The CZI boss said Zimbabwe had exported over three million people in
labour but was not benefiting from the arrangement as there were no
agreements with countries that imported Zimbabwean labour.
Jokonya said productivity in industries was at its lowest ebb since
independence and that industries were operating at 10% capacity, this being
attributed to foreign currency shortages to import raw materials.
Jokonya said price controls were retrogressive and discouraged
investors. Consumer Council of Zimbabwe president Phillip Bvumbe disagreed
with this contention, insisting the private sector were increasing prices at
"There is dollarisation of the market by the private sector," he said.
"There is, underlying in the whole economy, (an element of) profiteering,"
Jokonya hit back with: "We are in business to make money and we make
no apologies for that."
In reply to a question from the committee chairperson, Enock
Porusingazi on industry's mood after the central bank declined to devalue
the dollar, Jokonya said industry was not worried about devaluation, but was
looking at the correct price.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Indigenous
Business Women Organisation, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and
Zimbabwe Indigenous Economic Empowerment Organisation.
FOR many in the region and abroad, South Africa has benefited from the
Zimbabwe crisis by adopting an ambiguous position. However, its
prevarication could now come to haunt it.
South Africa has appeared happy to benefit from the flight of skills
from this country in exchange for its tacit support for the chaos that has
ravaged a once prosperous nation, full of promise, by failing to denounce
unequivocally the State-sponsored thuggery. When ordinary struggling folk
resort to cross-border activities in order to fend for their families, South
Africa seems content to pile on the woes by tightening up on opportunities
for Zimbabweans to cross into the southern neighbour.
However, last weekend's unwarranted brutal assault of opposition and
civic society leaders while in police custody describes a pattern that was
widely practised by the State when labour movement leaders were arrested
last September. It was the grossest violation of human rights by a
government that professes respect for the rule of and respect for the law.
For the whole of last week images showing the heavy-handedness of the
police butchering protesters were flighted throughout the world. Viewers
around the world saw the savagery of the regime in Zimbabwe - South Africa's
major regional trading partner and northern neighbour.
They will also observe the rest of the world was more horrified by the
State-sponsored terror than South Africa, which because of its proximity and
position within the SADC regional grouping ought to be providing a cue to
the outside world.
Democrats throughout the world were appalled and shocked by the
actions of Harare, but equally so by South Africa's ambivalence to Zimbabwe's
crisis. On the basis of last week's blatant human rights violations, South
Africa should not be surprised if nations taking part in the Fifa 2010
Soccer World Cup begin to express reservations about appearing to lend tacit
approval to Pretoria's condonation of Harare's ruthless and repressive
brutalities. South Africa could have lost the right to host the World Cup
last week. For the first time it will wake up to the reality of how the
Zimbabwe crisis is hurting South Africa's prospects.
It would be disastrous for South Africa, but it would be a misfortune
entirely of its own making. For far too long it has pretended that there is
no crisis in Zimbabwe. But if nations participating in the World Cup recoil
from sending their teams, South Africa will begin to appreciate the cost of
its ambivalence to the Zimbabwe crisis. The fall-out would have a major
unparalleled political cost to President Thabo Mbeki's career.
What is evident is that South Africa was concerned about Zimbabwe
harmonising its elections for 2010 and that the meeting between Mbeki and
President Robert Mugabe in Accra, during Ghana's independence golden jubilee
two weeks ago was instrumental in Mugabe's decision that elections take
place next year. That might have only served to satisfy Mbeki's selfish and
But the arrests and savage assaults against the political and civic
society leaders may have helped to narrow the differences between the
feuding opposition factions, giving impetus to a united front to mount a
challenge against the regime in Harare.
South Africa would be naïve to believe that it firmly has behind it
world support to host the global soccer extravaganza in 2010. All that
changed with the State-sponsored terror against defenceless citizens. It's
still three years to go before the football showpiece and Pretoria's
handling of the Zimbabwe crisis could hand it a rude awakening. South Africa
will have none but itself to blame when the world shows revulsion at
Pretoria's ambivalence to the chaos and barbarism practised routinely by
Sundayopinion By Bill Saidi
THERE is no record of President Robert Mugabe singing praises to
Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican hero who campaigned ceaselessly for the
indigenous peoples' rights to land.
Long after his death in 1919, the Zapatista movement in Mexico was
formed by his adherents and has scored remarkable successes in the equitable
distribution of land in that country.
Emiliano Zapata's legacy lives on, as Hollywood's tribute to him lives
on in Viva Zapata! starring Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn.
If Mugabe's campaign on land had been motivated strictly by an
altruistic - even if partly nationalist - desire to redress the imbalances
of colonialism, he too would probably rate a posthumous tribute.
But his was entirely political, a futile attempt to outflank a
fledgling opposition party which, some people said at the time, had God and
the Angels on its side.
Zapata resorted to violence when the rich landlords resisted.
Mugabe's legacy is now likely to be drenched in violence to gain
votes - not against landlords, but against his own people.
Apart from his demagogic statement that his party had "many degrees in
violence", the events of the past week could eliminate him from a legacy of
He might not be pilloried as A Man of Violence, but many historians
will recall his comment, years ago, when someone compared him with Adolf
Mugabe retorted to the barb with "If that is what they think of me, so
be it." Most people, his implacable enemies included, have never associated
his peculiar moustache with his admiration of The Fuhrer, but the temptation
Questions have been asked about his role in the savage beatings of
Morgan Tsvangirai and others after the aborted prayer meeting in Highfield.
Even if he did not personally order the "bashing", the responsibility
is his entirely. Can he justify this primitive form of politics?
Or had that message been delivered with unmistakable eloquence and
clarity in his comments after the equally savage beatings, last year, of the
Incidentally, in 50 years of covering Africa as a journalist, I have
seen my share of violence, some of it against me personally and against
people like me - journalists - and against ordinary people who placed their
trust in a man because he led them to freedom, only to discover how utterly
selfish such people can become once intoxicated with the same nectar of
power imbibed by Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte and the
I started shortly after Ghana became independent, and was still at it
when Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966. Meanwhile I had met another
tragic figure of politics, Richard Milhous Nixon.
My thoughts at Nkrumah's ouster were mixed: why did he have to turn
himself into a virtual emperor and why did the people allow him to?
The people of Zambia and Malawi made the same tragic error: I met both
Kenneth Kaunda and Hastings Kamuzu Banda at the height of their power:
Kaunda fired me from a job, and Kamuzu kicked me out of Malawi.
After independence in 1980, I met Sam Nujoma at a party in Harare and
reminded him we had met in Lusaka. "What were you doing in Lusaka?" he asked
me. I was flabbergasted and almost asked him the same question.
The violence against me started in Highfield at the beginning of the
1960s, where I was investigating a brothel, unearthed by one of the most
daring journalists on The African Daily News, Moses "UP" Mwale.
I wanted to do a "big piece" for The African Parade, but was
recognized by The Madame who set her bouncers on me. I was stoned on the
head and ended up at the newly-opened Harare hospital, where they stitched
me up fairly efficiently. But I still carry the scar.
Mwale was "UP" and Albert Dumbutshena, my mentor, was "Sapa" - you can
In Lusaka, two men changed journalism for me for all time: Kelvin
Mlenga and Richard Hall, among the greatest I have ever worked under.
But I still lost a precious blazer to a man who wanted to beat the
daylights out of me for having written something about him, not by name, but
I lay unconscious for three days after a beating by two thugs in Fort
Jameson while covering an election campaign. I had asked the wrong question.
I have been called names, including a spy. I know almost everything
about politicians - they can be good, they can be bad and they can be very
What I have never understood is why people are attracted to
politicians who display such naked signs of megalomania you can see it in
their eyes - the fixed stare, the scowl or the smirk, which says, loud and
clear: I am going to give you hell.
Fortunately, for most of us journalists, there is always the delicious
anticipation of being there when such a person gets their comeuppance.
I saw Kamuzu when he was a doddering old fool. I felt sorry for him,
but then thought to myself: God must be great at this sort of thing.
Reflections by Dr Alex T Magaisa
ONE of my earliest memories of humankind's capacity for cruelty and
the pleasure that some members of this species take in inflicting pain and
suffering on other breathing creatures is an incident I experienced years
ago, as a small boy, while herding cattle alongside other boys from the
village. Those who witnessed the incident lost something that day; we were
violently robbed of the precious innocence of youth.
You see, when you have observed a naked display of barbarism, it is
very difficult to express it in words. At those times, silence can seem the
only perfect response. It can be easy for writers to overestimate the
importance of what they do, but there are times when events cause a certain
jolt; when all words appear to pale into insignificance. You are tempted to
put down the pen and respond to the almost peremptory call of silence. In
the wake of the brutal events obtaining in Zimbabwe in recent days, it is a
temptation that has been difficult to resist.
But then it occurred to me that responding to the call of silence
would be a grim betrayal to all those men and women who have suffered. But
even then, all the possible subjects, for which I had prepared, suddenly
appear irrelevant. So today, I thought I would simply reflect on the brutal
manifestation of mindless cruelty perpetrated by man over man, in the
beleaguered nation of Zimbabwe. And this is where my early experience of the
cruelty of humankind comes in.
It is many years now, but occasionally, especially when I witness the
display of sadism, I still hear echoes of the tortured cries of the little
birds. They were just small eaglets, barely feathered and had hardly seen
much of the world to which they had just recently been introduced. We saw
him high up in the tall tree, frantically making his way up to the big nest.
Some of his friends stood below, urging him on, while others stood by,
watching the spectacle, with obvious excitement. He had already started
ripping the nest apart by the time we got to the scene. Then he threw them,
one by one, the little eaglets, down to his friends under the tree. Up in
the sky, the mother eagle issued shrill cries, manifestly angry but helpless
in the circumstances. It circled viciously and tried more than once to yank
a piece of the boy's flesh, but each time it got closer, his friends below
hurled large stones at the eagle.
Why, we asked, were they the doing that to the little birds. They said
that eagles deserved to suffer and die because they are a menace in their
village - they prey on the young chickens and food. But these eaglets were
harmless, we said. They said it was best to catch them young. The other
eagles, they tried to rationalise, would know that they should not prey on
their food and young chickens in the village. But it is in the nature of
eagles to behave as they do, we said. They said they did not care. It was
fun anyway, they claimed, and went on to tie the hapless birds on strings
and hang them on tree branches and take vicious aim with their catapults and
stones. The deathly sounds of the little, defenceless creatures pierced the
stillness of an otherwise serene summer's mid-afternoon. Mother eagle
hovered above in desperation. It was clear she could do nothing in the face
human power and cruelty.
It was difficult to fathom, the fact that a human being could be
capable of such wickedness. It was obvious the boys were enjoying the whole
sordid exercise. It was hard to understand how a decent person could
actually find it an enjoyable spectacle. Did they not come from a home with
a mother and father? Did they not have young brothers and sisters in their
homes? How, we tried to comprehend, would they sleep at night? Would they
simply banish this from their memories and sleep soundly throughout the
night, without even having nightmares filled with the deathly cries of the
defenceless eaglets? We stood by, helpless - helpless because we thought
there was not much we could do against admittedly bigger and notoriously
ruthless boys from the next village.
We had looked to the bigger boys in our group but they had also stood
by, clearly unimpressed by the spectacle but not having the will to
intervene. After all they were just birds, they were eagles and they could
not be drawn into a fight over eagles.
Later on, I would, with a sense of guilt, wonder whether I could have
done something; whether we could have done something to save those
defenceless creatures, which had been tortured so ruthlessly before our eyes
and whose lives had been terminated for no reason other than that they were
eagles. There was, I must admit, a sense of embarrassment; embarrassment at
being a member of the human race which had so exposed itself as capable to
doing grievous harm even to unarmed and defenceless creatures; embarrassment
at the fact that I had done nothing to prevent the cowardly attacks.
There was a deep sense of guilt at the actions of my fellow human
beings, by whose actions the brief life journey of the little birds had been
so violently and abruptly interrupted.
There was, to sum it up, a deep sense of betrayal in respect of the
nature of the human being. We learnt, in that very episode, humanity's
capacity for cruelty.
I do not know what happened to those boys in life. Perhaps they became
policemen. Perhaps one of them shot Gift Tandare in cold blood on Sunday.
Perhaps they were there, when Morgan Tsvangirai, Lovemore Madhuku, Arthur
Mutambara, Tendai Biti, Grace Kwinjeh, Sekai Holland, and others were
viciously assaulted on Sunday. I am just not surprised that some of our
members of the human race are capable of that; the capacity to physically
violate the sacred body of a woman in the way they did to Kwinjeh. Were
these people who did it not born of woman? What is a shame though, is how
the plight of victims is sometimes forgotten and instead, some of us blame
the victims for their predicament. We become the victims of our own
victimhood. Perhaps it's human nature to try and rationalise violence - to
try and explain it, even when it's absurd to do so.
I am reminded of my readings in women's law - of the "Battered Wife
Syndrome" - in simple terms, a physical and psychological condition by which
a wife, who has been repeatedly and systematically abused by her spouse over
a period of time, becomes so tormented and weary that she is unable and
unwilling to take action to defend herself. Rather, she begins to see
herself as the problem; she blames herself for her predicament, and tries
even to rationalise the behaviour of her spouse. In short, this is a case
where the victim blames herself for her unfortunate position. I am not
surprised therefore, that some people might be criticising the MDC
leadership for their predicament - they are simply confirming what
systematic violence does to victims. The MDC leaders were only exercising
their democratic rights - there is nothing abnormal about attending a
meeting, be it for prayers or politics. What is unusual and unlawful is to
deny people that legitimate right. The critics are victims themselves, who
have accepted their fate and now try to make sense of the other's unusual
and otherwise irrational and unlawful behaviour.
I am not sure how those who have killed Tandare and brutally assaulted
the others sleep at night just as I wondered all those years back, when the
boys in the village tortured those hapless eaglets, how it was that they
were able to sleep at night. I do not know how the others see it; men like
President Thabo Mbeki in South Africa, President Festus Mogae in Botswana,
President Armando Guebuza in Mozambique, President Jakaya Kikwete in
Tanzania, President Hifikepunye Pohamba in Namibia, President Levy Mwanawasa
in Zambia; perhaps they too, like the big boys who watched and did nothing
to stop the brutal boys from torturing and executing the defenceless
eaglets, feel it is not their business to intervene and stop it.
I am aware of humankind's capacity for cruelty - but are we not also
complicit when we do nothing stop those of our species from doing harm to
those that are defenceless? What I know is that, part of the guilt that I
have carried since the day of the torture of the eaglets, is because I too,
felt a sense of shame and carried a share of the responsibility; the
collective guilt at not having done anything to stop the mindless brutality
that I witnessed that day. Yes, they were only birds, but they had done
nothing wrong, except to exercise their right to live, as nature had
Alex Magaisa can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sundayview by Gugulethu Moyo
Events last week in Zimbabwe, bring to mind the examination-in-chief
of one Daniel Siebert:
George Bizos: You said, in your application, that you considered that
a war was going on, is that correct?
Daniel Siebert: Yes.
George Bizos: But now do you, did you ever bother to find out how
prisoners are to be treated even in a state of war?
Daniel Siebert: That is true, the circumstances of the time and all
the things that Mr Bizos has asked motivated one to act in the interests of
the state dispensation and in the interest of the community of South Africa
and not only the white community, but also in the interests of these people
who are sitting here today, that is the black community, because they
suffered the most as a result of all the murders, the burning of their
vehicles and businesses and houses. One took the risk of interrogating these
people and this was done as a result of the motivation that I mentioned,
because I believed that the policy of that time, namely apartheid, was an
interim measure until it would develop to such an extent or that the
politicians of the day come up with better solutions for South Africa.
George Bizos: The question, actually, was a simple one. Did you ever
bother to find out how, in a war situation, combatants are supposed to treat
prisoners from the other side?
Siebert was one of five killers of the South African founder of the
Black Consciousness Movement leader, Steve Biko. During interrogation in
September 1977, Siebert and four other murderous police officers are thought
to have smashed Biko's head against a wall, causing him brain damage, before
driving him, naked and bleeding, 1100 km across the country in the back of a
police van, to a prison in Pretoria where he died six days later. In 1997,
20 years after Biko died, these men approached South Africa's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC), ostensibly to come clean about the events
that led to Biko's death.
After hearing the testimony of Siebert and the four other apartheid
enforcers implicated in Biko's death, the TRC remained unconvinced that
their accounts of Biko's death were truthful. They were denied amnesty.
Siebert and his colleagues in the police force were the enforcers of
apartheid. Biko's death speeded apartheid's end. Not since the 1960 police
massacre of 70 protesters in Sharpeville had an incident so galvanized black
In Harare last week, the Zimbabwe regime's enforcers laid bare to the
world the vicious rule of Robert Mugabe. On Sunday the police shot and
killed Gift Tandare, an opposition activist; two days later, at Tandare's
wake, they shot and injured two more. On the same day that they killed
Tandare, they arrested leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change and
drove them around Harare from one police station to another. They beat them
till their flesh tore and their limbs broke. They beat some of them till
they lost consciousness.
And then the enforcers explained their actions: "As police, we could
not just stand by and see the country go on fire. So we deployed and managed
to quell the disturbances. The leaders of the opposition (Morgan) Tsvangirai
and (Arthur) Mutambara were actually commanding (hooligans) using children
as shields," said Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi.
Two days later, police officers threatened that "standards used in
war" would be used against activists, saying a "war situation" existed in
So, it was war? As far as the enforcers were concerned, were all rules
of law suspended? Did the enforcers become the law? Why would the enforcers
have waited for a court to hear the evidence and determine the punishment
for the enemy when they could mete out instant justice in the back of a
police van or in a police cell? Why take the enemy to court? What do the
courts know about the laws of war or the interests of national security?
"Let me, in unequivocal and unambiguous terms, reaffirm the ZRP's
capacity to ruthlessly deal with any rowdy elements fanning violence in the
I want to assure the nation that police are ready to quell any form of
civic disorder that may threaten the peace of other citizens, especially in
cities and towns where such illegal political unrest has been prevalent,"
Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner Innocent Matibiri clarified on Tuesday,
for those who might have misunderstood the nature of the situation.
The enforcers of the regime are building their case. And the world is
But have they checked what the law says about murder? Have they
bothered to check what the international law says about torture? Or what the
laws of war - if they think they are relevant - say about the treatment of
One of these days - pretty soon it seems, judging from the local and
international support galvanized for the opposition by this brutal police
action - the enforcers will sit in the dock, before us all, and answer these
and other questions about the crimes they have committed in order to defend
an illegitimate political order. They had better start now to think about
Govt spin doctors desperate to lend credence to the 'Big Lie' I normally
pay little more than brief, amused attention to the barely cogent and
semi-literate scribblings of George, er, Nathaniel Manheru and his equally
incoherent sidekick Caesar Zvayi. However, given the current climate in
Zimbabwe, I feel that their bumbling efforts to practice the Big Lie touch
upon issues too important for the future of the country to be simply
dismissed with a wry chuckle.
Key to the government's efforts to justify its brutal and unwarranted
crackdown on its own citizens is the assertion that the people of Zimbabwe
are a contented lot who would quietly go about their happy lives were it not
for the evil machinations of the - choose your epithet - "imperialists,"
"former colonialists," or "racists/Westerners/enemies." The government's
spin doctors' current favourite "example" is the story they have fabricated
from thin air about my alleged meeting with Morgan Tsvangarai and Arthur
Mutambara at the Bronte Hotel in Harare on 9 January.
This meeting, according to the spin doctors, is the sole reason
Zimbabweans today are increasingly vocal in their protests against the
government and determined to push for change. To lend their fantasy the
appearance of fact, Messrs. Manheru and Zvayi (unably abetted by the
pseudo-intellectual rantings of Tafataona Mahoso in The Sunday Mail and a
legion of faceless Herald Reporters), have invented colourful details: the
size of each side's delegation, a cash-filled briefcase , etc.
The facts are somewhat different: 1) on the date of the supposed
meeting I was in Bulawayo, on vacation with visiting family. In fact, if
anyone wants to check for themselves, they can go to the Natural History
Museum there and see where I signed the guest book (I realise that the
relevant page is likely to disappear in "mysterious circumstances" when this
is published, but never mind: there are other witnesses who can verify that
I was indeed in Bulawayo on that day, including diplomats and, of course,
the ubiquitous CIO, which tracked me throughout my holiday); 2) I have never
set foot inside the Bronte Hotel and was unaware of its very existence until
Zvayi kindly brought it to my attention; 3) the first and only time I have
ever met jointly with Tsvangarai and Mutambara was courtesy of the
Government of Zimbabwe. That meeting took place last Tuesday, 13 March in
Magistrates' Court 6 in Harare. I think we can all offer the government a
large vote of thanks for bringing these two leaders together and giving them
an opportunity to get to know each other better.
One can only imagine just how badly the government misses the services
of the former Minister of Information, who knew that to tell the Big Lie
successfully, one had to get the little lies right. I humbly suggest that
the spin doctors could do with a few lessons from their Professor, or since
time for them is growing short, that they look back to history to consult
the original writings on the Big Lie for some badly needed advice.
Meanwhile, the unfortunate people of Zimbabwe will continue to grapple with
the sad truth that their lives have been made a living hell thanks to the
failed policies of a failing regime.
Christopher W Dell
An all-embracing national indaba could save Zimbabwe
I am a dreamer who has been visited by the same dream for the
past four years. It has occurred to me six times over the past four years.
The dream is that of people of all persuasions sitting down and cordially
discussing ways of saving Zimbabwe.
I have seen Zimbabweans, black and white, old and young,
politicians and non-politicians, Christians and non-Christians and many
other groupings all brought together by a desire to find an amicable
solution to our problem.
My dreams seem to hold the key to an ever-lasting and binding
solution to the dilemma we find ourselves in.
The time for blame and mudslinging is over. We need to forgive
each other and start discussing the way forward. We should not allow more
Zimbabweans to die without having tasted the fruits of our independence.
Millions of Zimbabweans fought for the independence of this country but only
a select few are benefiting from the sweat and toil of the majority.
How is it possible for people to say that during the past six
years or so people have been happy when the standard meal for the majority
of our people has been green vegetables and sadza because of rising costs in
the face of dwindling earnings?
Thousands of children are no longer going to school because of
sky-rocketing school fees. We are losing thousands of our professionals to
other countries. Very soon the country is going to be forced into rehiring
aging and retired personnel because all our young professionals have found
jobs outside the country. Is this what we have been aiming for?
Why are we not courageous enough to admit failure in the way we
are running our country? Right now we have nothing to lose but we will gain
a lot through an all-embracing Indaba. Let us not expect anything from other
countries. We created our own problems, so we must now find our own solution
to our difficulties.
Once we find a solution, let us promise ourselves never to allow
ourselves to be ruled by a group which places itself above the laws of this
country. Let us not have anybody who perceives themselves as untouchable and
cannot be criticised. People who claim to be all-knowing and powerful should
be avoided. Let us have leaders who are compassionate, leaders who are
humble and who will listen to the people and not leaders who will dictate to
It is time for Zimbabweans to demand bacon and eggs, rare steaks
and other beef joints, wine, milk and honey and so on for our tables. We can
no longer tolerate seeing these luxuries only on the tables of the few super
rich. We must demand to see all our school-going children attend
well-equipped schools. We must demand to receive medical treatment at health
centres equipped with the latest equipment and well-remunerated and
committed medical staff.
Let us demand well-paying secure jobs so that we can earn for
our families. Let us all sit down and hammer out a new dispensation.
Try an Indaba
Enough of this contempt towards court orders
I wish to comment on the recent failure by the authorities
running the City of Harare to obey a court ruling that declared them as
"unlawful, null, void and of no force and effect".
Since the year 2000, we have had land reform which was declared
illegal by the courts; the election of most Zanu PF legislators and recently
the courts approved the MDC rally in Highfield but still the regime used its
military might to defy the court orders.
My question to fellow Zimbabweans is: For how long will we allow
this rot to continue? Because it is clear to me and anyone who can read the
writing on the wall that Zanu PF wants to remain in power by whatever means
and regardless of the costs.
I think Semesai (Sekesai) Makwavarara went too far by referring
to the courts as "silly things". This only goes to show how the regime views
the judiciary system; any ruling that does not go in their favour is "silly"
and "inspired by imperialists".
ZRP-run schools unprofessional
I would like to draw the attention of the Ministry of Education,
Sport and Culture to the unprofessional way in which the Zimbabwe Republic
Police Braeside School is being run.
At the beginning of this term, in January, my son and many other
pupils who were supposed to be entering Grade VII were forced to repeat
Grade VI without the consent of the concerned children and parents.
When I launched my own investigation into the logic of forcing
so many pupils to repeat, I was shocked by the response I was given. The
Headmaster told me that the Commissioner of Police and the Superintendent
(Education) were unhappy with the poor results registered in some of the
police schools, hence the move to force the pupils to repeat. The school
head even bragged that as long as the children do not perform well, they
will rot in Grade VI.
When I queried the position of the Ministry of Education over
this decision, I was informed that the police schools did not need
intervention from civilians. I was then given the option of withdrawing my
child from Braeside Police School and taking him elsewhere.
When I contacted the Superintendent, Education Officer for
Police Schools, she said her hands were tied and was finding it difficult to
caution the "young boy" and some administrators' because they were related
to some senior Police Assistant Commissioners.
While the school is said to be a police school, I think the
Ministry of Education should move in and monitor the professionalism and
level of maturity of some of the heads of police schools in order to ensure
that the Ministry rules are not flouted willy- nilly by some hand-picked
heads of dubious credentials.
Police have lost the plot
UNDER President Robert Mugabe, the police force has lost its
way. The pictures of Morgan Tsvangirai's battered face make this globally
clear. It is unequivocally not the role of the police to punish. That is the
role of the courts. Internationally-accepted principles of policing
recognise the following principles of MINIMUM FORCE.
Force should never be used to punish, only to prevent further
immediate trouble. It should always be the minimum force needed to achieve
the police goal.
It should be discontinued as soon as the police have achieved
that goal. Beating a helpless person senseless is the action of a
psychopath, not a normal person. Is this what our police officers have
become? Who is to blame? Everyone knows. Whose legacy is this ? - We all
I do think this legacy of officially-sanctioned violence by the
"over-zealous" will overpower any good memory of Mugabe.
I will not be silenced PEOPLE such as Humba Wekumanyika (The Standard
letters 4 February 2006) believe that Morgan Tsvangirai has a monopoly of
political space in the opposition.
I am an official within the pro-democracy MDC led by Professor
Arthur Mutambara and I have no intention of leaving politics.
I have been attending rallies of the Anti-Senate MDC and there
is nothing that has changed in terms of strategy. Instead, there is
increased rhetoric, dancing and singing, without a game plan to mobilise the
I have nothing against Tsvangirai, but I will not be cowed into
silence by praise singers.
Saturday 17th March 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
This week the country came to a virtual standstill when we learned that a
large number of the top leaders of civic society and opposition groups had
been arrested. Everyone, everywhere was talking about it and the world began
watching us again. It was then with shock and outrage that we saw the first
grisly pictures of men and women covered in blood, bruises and wounds
getting off a huge open Police lorry outside the Harare courts two days
later. Now the details have begun to emerge and the statements are being
made by the victims of how they were brutally assaulted whilst in Police
custody. The quotes from those that were involved tell this story better
than any letter or newspaper report.
An MDC youth activist, Gift Tandare was shot and killed by the police. A
friend went to visit his family and said: "We arrived at their humble little
home to find mourners grieving for this senseless and brutal loss. It was
heart wrenching and humbling to share their grief."
Hours later two men were shot by Police at the Tandare home where they had
gone to pay their respects. The same friend wrote again: "When I arrived at
the hospital Dickson was in theatre having an emergency operation and the
doctors thought they would have to amputate his foot. Their crime is that
they were mourning the senseless killing of their friend."
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights described the condition of Grace Kwinjeh
when she came out of Police custody saying: "she was brutally assaulted at
Machipisa and lost part of her ear after being assaulted with a metal rod."
When Lovemore Madhuku came out of Police custody the Lawyers said: "He has a
broken arm in a cast, bandages over his head and a swollen face from
assaults suffered at Machipisa."
A husband recounted what had happened to his wife, Sekai, while she was in
police custody: "A woman repeatedly jumped on her with booted feet -
fracturing or breaking three of her ribs. Her clothes were covered in
blood - both her own and that of others suffering the same brutality." Sekai
also had a broken arm, broken leg and cracked knee.
One of Morgan Tsvangirai's bodyguards described what he saw of the assault
on the leader of the opposition: "They were beating him and he collapsed.
They were going for his head. He didn't scream or shout, he was silent as
they beat him, and it made them so angry, they were shouting, - 'we must
make him cry'."
Throughout the week criticism, condemnation and concern has poured in from
around the world. Voices everywhere are raised in outrage and here in
Zimbabwe there is a feeling of extreme tension. These are very dark days
Until next week, with love, cathy