Sat Mar 18, 2006 9:29 AM ET
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday
called for a wave of "mass action" demonstrations against President Robert
Mugabe, saying sustained protests were the only way to overcome government
Addressing a congress of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) called to
elect new leaders and fire-up a floundering drive against the government,
Tsvangirai said the opposition had survived with "gracious exuberance" cruel
treatment at the hands of what he called a tyrannical regime.
But he said the opposition must now step up its campaign to win power.
"The options open to us are very clear: we need a short, sharp program of
action to free ourselves," he told the crowd.
In a 40-minute speech, punctuated by slogans and applause from his
supporters, Tsvangirai said he was ready to lead peaceful protests against
Mugabe -- Zimbabwe's sole ruler since 1980.
The MDC was formed in 1999 and has for years been seen as the greatest
threat to Mugabe's hold on power, but analysts say a recent split in its
ranks over how to tackle Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has weakened the
In a speech to more than 15,000 delegates of his main MDC faction,
Tsvangirai said his group was still a resilient force capable of launching a
strong political campaign.
"Our experience shows that only a sustained and concerted effort by all
Zimbabweans shall deliver a desired result," he said to a round of loud
applause from the delegates who were gathered in an indoor sports stadium in
Tsvangirai said while the opposition has shaken Mugabe's corridors of power
with its resilience against state repression, no huge public protests have
been organized since June 2003 when his efforts for "final push" marches
were crushed by the government.
Political analysts say Tsvangirai's challenge is to reorganize his party
after the split, and said the two-day conference ending on Sunday could
decide its future standing both against the ruling party and the rival MDC
On the eve of the congress, Tsvangirai said the party leadership needed to
find new energy to save Zimbabwe from Mugabe's "corrupt and inept
Tsvangirai charges that Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have rigged three main
elections in the last six years to remain in power.
He said his MDC faction would debate whether it should continue
participating in elections or widen its tactics to include what he called
"people power" pressure.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler since independence from Britain in 1980, has kept
the opposition in check mainly through tough policing, including routine
deployment of security forces to crush all street protests.
Political analysts say Zimbabweans appear to have been cowed by these
tactics but might be mobilized by the opposition over the crumbling economy.
Zimbabwe is struggling with chronic severe food and fuel shortages, rising
poverty and unemployment and the country's highest inflation rate under an
economic crisis critics blame on Mugabe's policies.
The MDC foundered late last year amid infighting over Tsvangirai's call to
boycott elections for a new Senate, and eventually split.
Tsvangirai accused his rivals of working for Mugabe and the rebel MDC
faction in turn charged him with acting like a "dictator" and overriding
party members' wishes.
18/03/2006 19:53 - (SA)
Harare - Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
called for "peaceful, democratic resistance" against Zimbabwean president
Robert Mugabe's rule.
"I call upon you to heed calls for a sustained cold season of peaceful
democratic resistance," Tsvangirai told about 14 000 supporters at a
convention of his MDC faction outside Harare, Zimbabwe.
He said the country's electoral system and judiciary had failed the MDC,
denying it clear victory in the 2000 parliamentary elections and a 2002
Tsvangirai said: "We need a short, sharp, programme of action to free
"If we should come out of our present crisis, the solution will not come
from Europe or America.
"The solution is here in Zimbabwe. Only sustained efforts by all Zimbabweans
will bring the desired results."
The MDC split into two factions following a row over senate polls last
November. Both factions claiming legitimacy.
A faction led by Tsvangirai's former deputy, Gibson Sibanda, held its own
congress in Bulawayo last month, and elected former student leader Arthur
Mutambara as president.
On Saturday, Tsvangirai showed no bitterness to the breakaway group: "Allow
me to note the work done by our colleagues who have chosen not to be with
"We say to them thank you for your time and your contribution to this
struggle. Thank you for risking life and limb to try to rebuild Zimbabwe."
By a Correspondent
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change president, Morgan
Tsvangirai, has revealed there have been more than four attempts by the
country's neighbours, churches, the West and others to initiate dialogue
between his party and the ruling Zanu PF party since 2002.
He told more than 14 000 delegates attending the party's congress that
concerned about Zimbabwe's growing exposure, Zimbabwe's neighbours, the
churches, business people, some unnamed military people and general
Zimbabweans launched a number of initiatives to persuade President Robert
Mugabe and Zanu PF to show patriotism and accept inter-party dialogue as a
way forward. All this, he said, came to naught because Zanu PF was not
interested in dealing with the crisis facing the country but was driven by
individual selfish interests.
He asks Zimbabweans to re-group in order to confront the Zanu PF
government and push them out of office.
Tsvangirai's faction has begun a two-day congress to elect new leaders
to revitalise the campaign against President Mugabe's government.
Below is Tsvangirai's speech to the congress.
Morgan Tsvangirai's Speech
Members of the National Council
Ladies and Gentlemen:
1. Tribute to our heroes and heroines
Six years ago we met in Chitungwiza and made a decision that has since
changed the political life of Zimbabwe. Six years ago we made a solemn
pledge to confront the dictatorship and put on the ground our lives to bring
about democratic change in Zimbabwe.
Today, I stand before you to retrace that difficult journey we have
traveled together. I humbly present myself to Congress to reflect on our
experiences and to record the lessons from this struggle. I subject myself
to the people of Zimbabwe for guidance and direction given the changed
circumstances before us.
I shall use this opportunity to discuss the current political
situation; and to share some thoughts on the options available to us in
order to realise our vision for a new Zimbabwe. Our promise for a New
Zimbabwe and a New Beginning remains resolutely on track.
Never again shall the people of Zimbabwe be put through the six years
of torture, economic chaos and suffering that we have gone through in this
struggle for change. We pledge to stop politics from driving millions out of
the country in search for economic and personal security.
Mr. Chairman, fellow Zimbabweans, I wish to honour the hundreds of
Zimbabweans who died in this struggle. I wish to record the contributions
made by millions of people in supporting our struggle. In particular,
special tribute must also go to leaders, members and supporters who lost
their homes, their businesses, their jobs while in the service of the MDC.
Even as we meet today, the dictatorship has intensified the war against the
people. I am aware of the thousands who displaced, tortured and maimed in
the defence of the struggle.
Tribute must go to the people who are starving needlessly in a country
that used to export abundant food throughout Africa. Special recognition
must be accorded to all those whose hope for a new Zimbabwe continue to be
shattered by torture, hunger and endless physical and psychological
Mr. Chairman, Congress, ladies and gentlemen, let us not forget the
courageous activists and MDC supporters whose stories haven't been told, and
may never be told, because so many journalists were either deported from
Zimbabwe or are banished from this country.
I acknowledge those living with HIV/Aids who are forced to watch their
health deteriorate because of lack of access to healthcare and to
Allow me, Mr. Chairman, to recognize the millions of Zimbabwe who were
forced into exile by insecurity at home. Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have
been reduced to paupers and work under near-slavery conditions after being
forced to flee their homes in order to feed their families or to escape
Many survived political violence, repression and state-sponsored
denials of food and basic services because of their links to the MDC.
Families were displaced and dispersed. Whole farm communities were callously
decimated and scattered. We must all thank our living God. You survived, and
are still surviving from the acts of a dictatorship that thrives on the
human suffering and economic displacement of the people.
Equally, Mr. Chairman, I wish to recognize thousands of our supporters
who, from time to time, get discouraged with us as the MDC leadership
because of the slow pace of our struggle. I fully understand the
frustration. The struggle has taken a longer period than originally
anticipated. Your contribution to the struggle is noted and appreciated.
Allow me Congress to note the work done by my colleagues who have
chosen not to be with us today, but who pioneered and contributed to the
growth of the MDC and this democracy project together with us for many
years. We say to you all: Thank you for your contribution to this struggle.
Thank you for your courage. Thank you for risking life and limb to try and
rebuild Zimbabwe. We have not forgotten that contribution. You taught us
Mr. Chairman, we meet today, bruised but brimming with confidence and
experience. That experience is invaluable to a struggle now in its final
phase. Our struggle is a national project. We are a young political party.
The majority of our members are young people.
This dictatorship has ruined our young generation. They have been
thrown off the line, without jobs; without security; and without freedom.
The spirit of 1999 changed the face of Zimbabwean politics forever. Change
is an idea no-one can postpone.
2. The consolidation of the struggle
The people of Zimbabwe have maintained a consistent and steady
position in the struggle for change. Despite the heavy odds, I feel relieved
to note a resolute determination among all of us to confront the
Our liberation influence has expanded significantly countrywide. We
drive the main political agenda in Zimbabwe today. The democratic struggle
has consolidated itself.
The people have turned their hearts and minds away from tyranny. The
people are ready to reclaim their space; to reclaim their sovereignty; to
recover their dignity and their rights. I recognise the immense cost of the
dictatorship. I recognise the manner in which the dictatorship has destroyed
families and dampened the hopes and aspirations of our children.
We have no food. We have no fuel. We have no foreign currency.
Electricity is in short supply. Our hospitals and clinics have no staff, no
equipment and no drugs. Zimbabwe has no friends. No-one wants to do business
with us. There is a huge democratic deficit. Democratic space is now at a
premium. There are repressive laws everywhere: POSA, AIPPA, the NGO Bill.
Against this adversity, the people have triumphed. We weathered the storm.
The regime is on its way out.
3. Organisational challenges - six years of a democratic struggle
From the day, we defeated Zanu PF in the referendum; it became clear
at home and abroad that Zimbabwe's struggle for change had taken another
course. The regime embarked on a dangerously defensive game, using fear and
violence as a survival strategy.
Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF became the village bully, terrorizing their
own people, the mothers, their children and their neighbours for political
survival. We remain focused on the goal. We never wavered on our objective
and our vision. We believed in elections. And, despite the violence and an
uneven playing field, we persevered and contested in the June 2000
parliamentary election. We won that election!
The victory in June 2000 sustained the national interest in elections,
despite the obvious problems we encountered with that route. As moved closer
to the 2002 Presidential election, the political picture showed a nation
headed for a precipice.
Mugabe stared defeat in the face. Mugabe relapsed into a defiant mood.
Mugabe became a serious liability to the nation. What happened during the
run -up to the 2002 Presidential election is now a matter of record? The
entire country was plunged into a war
The harassment of MDC activists was intensified, resulting in the
deaths of hundreds of innocent people. The state security organs were
ordered to overrun the country, targeting the MDC and white Zimbabweans.
Commercial agriculture was wiped off our economy. Freedom of movement
was heavily curtailed. When these efforts failed to arrest the growing tide
against the dictatorship, our own generals in the army, the air force, the
CIO, the police and the prison services were romped in to threaten the
The state media and other national institutions were unleashed onto
the people. Even that, as you know, had a limited effect forcing Mugabe to
throw in his last card: I was arrested and charged with treason! Still, that
did not work. Mugabe lost the election.
The extent of blatant errors and irregularities clearly indicates a
gross manipulation of the voters roll, and an attempted cover-up of the
massive rigging that was widespread at the time of the elections. There has
been material non-compliance with the provisions of the law, followed by a
policy calculated to hinder and protract any eventual trial on the issues.
From all available records, Robert Mugabe is not the lawful President of
Zimbabwe. I know that. You know it. Everybody knows it.
Concerned about Zimbabwe's growing exposure, our neighbours, the
church and some Zimbabweans launched a number of initiatives to persuade
Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to show patriotism and accept inter-party dialogue
as a way forward.
What informed the party at the time was the need to navigate the
hostile political environment and to seek an amicable resolution of the
deepening political crisis. We encouraged all these efforts because of our
wish to see an environment favourable for free political activity and for
advancing the search for a lasting solution to the crisis.
South Africa, Nigeria and the entire SADC region feared the
consequences of an intransigent Mugabe to international relations. We agreed
on an agenda.
We were ready to move ahead. But Mugabe refused to listen, putting
pre-conditions and other road-blocks to this effort. Mugabe maintained that
despite well-grounded questions around his legitimacy, the people must
accept him. The people refused to do so, compounding an already precarious
situation that has led Zimbabwe into a basket of failed states.
Late in December 2002, there were secret moves to break the political
impasse. These moves were spearheaded by some foreign governments, some in
the business community and elements in Zanu PF and the military. The plan
collapsed. Those promoting the plan were insincere. They harboured sinister
motives and were duly exposed.
In March 2003, the Anglican Church - through Archbishop Ndungane of
Cape Town - launched its own initiative to persuade Mugabe to see reason. We
assisted the church and supported the proposal.
But once again, Mugabe and Zanu PF refused to co-operate. The Church
applied its mind to this question. Three prominent bishops launched a
separate plan to get Mugabe, Zanu PF and the MDC to a negotiating table. We
were asked to present issues for a comprehensive agenda. But, once again,
Mugabe and Zanu PF refused to listen.
After the June 2003 mass action - a time when the people shut down the
country for five days - Mugabe, working with President Mbeki, revived the
dialogue. Former Secretary General Welshman Ncube and Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa began to explore a possible solution through the
Constitutional Amendment route. That effort was once again stalled by Zanu
PF and Mugabe. The process took us nowhere. Instead, I was arrested and
charged with treason, once more.
We maintained the pressure. We reached out to SADC. Our diplomatic
offensive led SADC to adopt a comprehensive set of electoral management
guidelines in an attempt to correct elections flaws and anomalies.
Mugabe accepted the regional guidelines, but as expected refused to
implement them. He preferred piece-meal amendments to the existing
framework, thus creating fresh problems for Zimbabwe. You all witnessed the
farce that took place in March 2005. The regime opted for open rigging. As I
said before, the entire electoral management system has since been
hopelessly militarised and compromised. Your voice, as Mugabe put it in
2002, does not matter. He said then that he derives his mandate from the
liberation struggle. He wants to privatise that struggle. Yet, that struggle
was our struggle. It was a national project. We all participated in it.
After the March 2005 elections, I launched a separate initiative to
address the national crisis. I took Zimbabwe's case to the African Union and
agreed with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and other African leaders
to kick start the Zimbabwe case. The AU appointed former Mozambican
President Joachim Chissano to mediate. The initiative was scuttled by, once
again, by none other than Mugabe himself.
Thereafter, prospects for a negotiated settlement were, once again,
scuttled. Zanu PF split into various factions. Zimbabwe is in a mess today
all because of Mugabe's succession plan. In summary, elections have been a
major disappointment. The result is pre-determined. Confidence in the
electoral process has diminished. Elections, under the current set-up and
conducted by the military, breed dangerous outcomes. Elections cannot be
sole arena of our struggle.
After our victory was openly stolen in June 2000, we challenged the
results in 39 constituencies. Mugabe immediately decreed, through a
Statutory Instrument, that such challenges were unnecessary. The decree was
overturned by the High Court. Mugabe then decided on a counter plan. He
subverted the judiciary, hounding out the Chief Justice, forcing senior
judges either to leave the bench or to emigrate and appointed a new set of
judicial officers, some of whom were known to have benefited from his
patronage or were openly partisan.
Our legal challenges gathered dust for five years. To this day, the
issues remain unattended to, including my own Presidential challenge. Out of
the few that were heard, the courts set aside 10. Given the margin from the
June 2000 results, the MDC won that election. If all the cases were heard in
the courts, our victory margin was set to rise substantially.
The Presidential election challenge is particularly enlightening.
Mugabe knows he lost that election. It took us 18 months and a number of
court applications to have the matter set down for a hearing. The initial
hearing took just three days, but the judge sat on the case for seven months
before passing judgement. That judgement, again, was incomplete - without
reasons. We could not appeal because of that limitation.
We took the matter to the Supreme Court. Still nothing came out of it.
The judge quickly delivered his reasons, after a two-year delay!
The regime has targeted, for harassment, our mayors and councillors.
These matters have ended up in the courts. Still no relief could be secured
as the same courts refused to consider the matters as urgent, or the regime
simply defied the various rulings.
Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the Executive Mayor of Harare, has matters
still pending at the courts. Misheck Shoko, the Executive Mayor of
Chitungwiza, is still waiting for justice. The same judicial attitude haunts
Executive Mayor Kagurabadza, of Mutare.
In summary, given these experiences, the courts or the legislative
route - as presently constituted -- are unsuitable avenues for relief.
The MDC and its civil society partners have, during the past six
years, embarked on various activities to register our discontent with the
state of affairs in this country. Mass action is a universal democratic
right. The people are entitled to express themselves and to share their
views on the way they are governed. Our efforts to demonstrate our position
were heavily discouraged through brutal responses, arrests and violence. Our
experience shows that only a sustained and concerted effort by all
Zimbabweans shall deliver a desired result. This is an issue which open to
debate and discussion at this Congress and, I believe, a way forward shall
be adopted. We shall deal with this question, once and for all.
Rarely in the history of mankind have people faced such brutality
while retaining such gracious exuberance. Together we have travelled a very
difficult road to achieve democratic change. I am encouraged by your
determination and pledge to take up the challenge and lead from the front.
Your resilience to reclaim your rights has shaken Mugabe's corridors of
power. In the final phase the call is made to you once again to intensify
the peaceful democratic resistance to the current tyranny.
I call upon you once again to heed the calls coming from your
leadership for a sustained cold season of peaceful democratic resistance.
The phase that we have entered calls upon every one of us to endure the pain
and resolutely fight for freedom. In summary, our experience shows us that
while we managed to shake the regime with action in March 2003 and in June
2003, we did not move sufficiently to cause meaningful democratic change in
our society. The options open to us are very clear: we need a short, sharp
programme of action to free ourselves.
The world is watching and the world is with us. The world is ready to
welcome a new Zimbabwe back into the family of nations. Today, Zimbabwe is
an outcast, because Zanu PF has made us an outcast. No nation can respect a
regime that starves its own people.
The MDC has enjoyed tremendous goodwill internationally. We are
accepted in Africa and elsewhere as the main political drivers in Zimbabwe.
But international support can only derive its meaning from our action here
Our experience reminds us of our own obligations, our own
responsibility towards our nation and our future. We have to rely, first and
foremost, on our own capacity, our own determination and our own muscle to
take on Mugabe and Zanu PF. Work must begin at home, after this Congress.
The internal dimension
Internally, we faced serious challenges as your leadership. Many of
our problems were externally induced and designed to break up the party. We
remained together, despite glaring contradictions, differences in strategy
and tactics and disagreements influenced by separate ideological
From our experience, I think we must look critically at where we are
today, what we did and how we hope to achieve our ultimate goal. I reflected
on our systems, our style of leadership and management and on the way
forward. Leadership by consensus, unless it is carefully managed, leads to a
leadership without a leader. In a struggle like ours that can be dangerous
After the fall out of October 12, 2005, my colleagues proceeded to
file papers in the High Court seeking to depose me as the President of the
MDC. Congress shall be asked to consider this issue in greater detail in
order for us to use the experience positively in future.
Before I move on to another issues, let me say I am happy to note that
we have dealt with this temporary diversion by surrendering the party back
to you today. You are the rightful owners of the MDC. The choice is up to
you. You have to take corrective measures and sort out the leadership
squabbles at the top. I wish to thank you for your guidance and direction.
4. Building a new Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe remains a great country and for all the problems we are
experiencing, we remain a remarkable example of national discipline,
principle and hope in Africa. In charting the road map to legitimacy, our
Congress shall be guided by a rallying call for a new Zimbabwe and a new
nation - a nation free of violence.
Given the right leadership, policies and management, Zimbabwe under an
MDC leadership shall soon assume its place in Africa as a beacon of hope and
promise for all Africans. Congress shall be expected to chart out the road
map to Zimbabwe's legitimacy. We must push for radical changes to the
political and economic fortunes of this country as a matter of urgency.
Our road map to a New Zimbabwe
Our road map to a new society is pillared on four programme areas:
The Political Dimension.
We are against piece-meal approaches to the search for a lasting
solution to the national crisis. The crisis has deepened to a point where a
national resolve to take it on, once and for all, must be muscled up as a
matter of urgency.
Congress must take on this challenge, show leadership and assist the
people to determine and realize their own vision and to shape their own
Congress must seize this opportunity and swear to organize and rally
the people for change.
The people demand a new, democratic and people-driven Constitution
that guarantees the formation of an accountable and caring government. We
maintain our demand for a transitional arrangement to oversee a full and
comprehensive return to democracy in Zimbabwe.
A transition is necessary to enable Zimbabweans to craft a
constitutional framework acceptable to all stakeholders. It is imperative
to generate confidence of the people before a lasting solution to the
current national crisis can be realized. A transitional process is necessary
to attend to all electoral and governance matters to pave the way for a
genuinely free and fair election.
We will confront the current perennial economic crisis through our
comprehensive RESTART programme, targeting all sectors of our economy and
The economy will be strengthened through policy thrusts that seek to
stabilise and strengthen our fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies. A
strong economy will attract investment, expand the industrial sector, create
more jobs and eradicate poverty.
Labour and the business sector will play a critical role in this
exercise. We will work very closely with labour and business to establish a
social contract to set a living wage, sustainable prices and keep inflation
Domestic business confidence will be restored and we will provide for
the creation of congenial conditions for expansion. In line with our
solidarity and social justice values we will address the pressing social
needs of the population and restore the availability and affordability of
food and other basic necessities.
We will revive the agricultural sector to eliminate food shortages.
Agricultural support services will be strengthened and land distribution
will be on an equitable basis in the context of the rule of law.
A healthy and literate nation is a major pre-requisite for
socio-economic recovery and development and in our strategy the health and
education sectors will receive special attention. We will revive, adequately
staff, and stock all our clinics, hospitals and schools. In this regard
domestic and international resources will be mobilized to restore and
enhance the levels of service required in health and education to confront
HIV/Aids and the alarming school drop out rate.
The moral fibre of the nation has been weakened by state-supported
corruption and therefore our programme will target corruption as a cancer
that together with misrule has destroyed the nation. We will destroy
corruption and the entire patronage system that feeds it and institute an
open consultative process and support between the government and the private
sector as the basis for collective advance.
We live in fractured society. We are divided across race, ethnicity
and politics. The dictator loves these divisions. The dictator's tactic is
to divide in order to rule.
Brother and brother do not talk to each other. In some villages,
mother and son do not see eye to eye. As we struggle incessantly against the
tyranny, the regime is imprinting a destructive legacy among the people.
The nation is highly polarised and tension has reached fever pitch
level. The language of hatred has become a form of currency passed around
with the blessing of the regime. Divisions are deliberately created and
exacerbated in a shameless strategy of divide and rule.
A sizeable section of our community, a portion of our nation has been
ordered to hate, often in cases of reverse racial discrimination. The MDC
shall put a stop to all this. A Zimbabwean is a Zimbabwean.
Skin colour, tribe, history, ancestry, sex and residential location
shall not be used to disadvantage any Zimbabwean. Our society has been
divided along ethnic and political lines in the cities and in the villages.
Entire ethnic groups and communities have been targeted for collective
A Zimbabwean must feel safe, secure and at home. Equally, a foreigner
in Zimbabwe shall have access to universal rights and privileges accorded to
all visitors, all investors, all permanent and all international guests and
An MDC government will not allow the language of hate and common
barbarism to become the medium of _expression of the powerful. We will
strive to achieve a united nation that celebrates the richness of its
Therefore the challenge we face, together with the entire democratic
movement, is to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive process of national
healing and tolerance. We must start to put up a foundation and building
blocks for a society in which diversity and differences are seen as sources
In a New Zimbabwe we shall implement strategies to heal the wounds of
past national strife. The state will not be used as an instrument of
subjugation. It will be a caring and compassionate state that protects the
weak to become strong and nourishes the strong so that they can thrive for
the common benefit of the nation.
Zimbabwe needs everybody, regardless of one's ancestry. We are one
people. Our dignity, national pride and fundamental freedoms need to be
We shall never allow the bitterness of the past to be a launching pad
for a fresh wave of vengeance and vindictiveness in the future. The rule of
law, administered by an independent judiciary shall be the only acceptable
basis for people's rights and other entitlements. Democracy, democratic
processes and principles will be the guiding principles in the management of
all public affairs.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I am sure these issues shall
dominate Congress. The policies and programmes before you must be
scrutinized to the letter as they shall form the basic groundwork for a new
Given the damage to Zimbabwe's external image, the main thrust of our
foreign policy in the short term seeks to reclaim the country's position in
the international community. Our major concern centres on the crisis of
legitimacy and the need to re-establish Zimbabwe's credibility, faith and
trustworthiness in SADC, in Africa and internationally.
The MDC's foreign policy begins and ends at home. What we seek to do
elsewhere must reflect on our behaviour at home. The manner in which we
address our national interest, attend to our own issues at home, our
governance systems and our national agenda define our foreign policy.
Our foreign policy is an extension of our domestic policy in that it
is anchored on the needs and aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.
We realise that we are part of a global village and we appreciate the
support that we have received from all corners of the globe.
We thank those who have continuously raised their voices and recoiled
in horror at the outrage perpetrated by the regime against innocent and
defenceless people. They made us understand that we are not alone and
confirmed to us that our cause is just and indestructible.
To Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, I want to say thank you for your
continued realization that this struggle is your struggle too. Thank for
We appeal to the region, the continent and the entire world to
continue piling pressure on the regime.
The people of Zimbabwe need temporary relief before they are afforded
an opportunity to survive on their own resources. We therefore appeal to the
international community to continue to provide food and relief to the
suffering people of Zimbabwe.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I am sure these issues shall
dominate Congress as we formulate strategies to mobilise the people, to
rally the nation and to rally international community for meaningful change.
Our political renewal process and leadership re-generation programmes
promise a strong, united force with sufficient numbers and sufficient
determination to confront the dictatorship in 2006.
May I, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, take this opportunity to
lay on the table, the National Council report to Congress, for your
THE MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE.
The Developing Crisis.
We are a product of unique historical circumstances. Our shared history of injustice and suffering impelled and determined our birth as a force for democracy in Zimbabwe, and our perceived common destiny continues to bind us as we struggle for a deliberately defined and better future.
Throughout the 1990’s the current regime simply abdicated the sacred responsibility to govern. It subverted the popular mandate bestowed by the people and became a regime of cronies superintending the welfare and economic well being of a few at the expense of the majority of Zimbabweans.
The political and economic fortunes of the country were rapidly sliding into political decay and economic collapse. Democracy was being slowly strangled and ultimately gave way to a vicious primitive dictatorship. People’s voices were virtually excluded from the management of public affairs, their own affairs, and a supposedly benevolent dictatorship was substituted for democratic consultation and democratic processes.
The collapsing economy spewed hundreds of thousands of workers into chronic unemployment and poverty in the urban areas, while in the rural areas millions were driven out of the mainstream economy, with their labour yielding only subsistence existence. Levels of poverty never before experienced in this country were fast becoming a permanent condition of existence. Mortality rates plummeted as the health sector collapsed and hospitals became totally dysfunctional; school dropout rates reached alarming levels as people concentrated on the crisis of daily sustenance and public funding dwindled and general infrastructure collapsed leaving vast swaths of the country virtually inaccessible.
For the people, poverty seemed to defeat all possibilities of relief and redress. Hope was replaced by general gloom and despondency. Then, as now, the only exit route, literally was to wait for eventual certain death from hunger, disease or political violence. The entire population was in a trap.
All these woes were not natural catastrophes. They were a deliberately crafted strategy of rulership by the regime. Poverty was deliberately invented and maintained. The central strategic objective of the regime was to create poverty as an instrument to make the people depended on handouts, thereby render them unquestioningly available to the rapacious caprices of unbridled dictatorial rule. As a captured weapon in the hands of the dictatorship, poverty became a tool to ruthlessly enforce political docility.
The People’s Response-- The National Working People’s Convention (NWPC).
In the context of this fast developing national crisis, the broad democratic forces in Zimbabwe—labour, women and youth organizations, civic groups, informal sector workers, students, peasants, the churches etc.,---were impelled by the common dire circumstances to come together under the auspices of The National Working People’s Convention (NWPC), review the situation and chart a path towards a common liveable future. The NWPC’s diagnosis of the crisis yielded a compelling path forward.
The NWPC accurately characterized the manifestations in the socio-economic field, the subversion of the separation of powers, the destruction of democracy and the democratic process, the serial violation of human rights, the general refusal to be accountable and to consult the people on all issues that affected them and a repressive constitution that fails to recognize and guarantee popular sovereignty.
These were correctly identified by the NPWC
as simply symptoms of the general malaise. The root cause being a systematic
failure of governance. Therefore, only a political solution could lay the basis
for resolving the problems confronting the country. The NWPC Agenda for Action
was anchored on two fundamental principles: (1) The critical need for a just
people’s constitution and (2) crafting of policies that met the basic needs of
the people. These fundamental principles, in themselves charted and impelled a
path towards a sustainable political and economic dispensation for
All the democratic forces that assembled under the banner of the NWPC were under no illusion that about the practical import about the adopted resolutions and policies in general and the Agenda for Action in particular. They were both to be, and could only be implemented by a government that issued from a strong, democratic, popularly driven and organized movement of the people. There could be neither substitutes for nor short cuts to the vehicle that was to deliver social liberation. The people had to deliver their own method for liberation and there was a palpable hostility to any strategy that turned the people’s resolve and movement into handmaidens that sought to reform and sanitize the current dictatorship or be party to any brokered deals designed to achieve the same diabolical result and neutralize the undiluted thrust of the people’s organised interests.
The perceived movement, which was expected to eventually issue a redeeming popular government, was to be a broad people’s movement, strongly wedded to recognising and protecting the independent roles and mandates of the various organisations of the working people. Clearly, this was a firm instruction and unequivocal mandate to for the movement to immediately maintain the operational unity created by the NWPC and launch and sustain the democratic struggle as a broad united front until democracy is achieved.
As we gather here today, some among have got
tired and went astray. They have defied the operational parameters defined and
mandated by the NWPC. Today they are openly and shamelessly sending signals and
overtures to the tyrannical regime for an empty compromise whose sole purpose is
the achievement of individual political power that is bereft of people’s
interests. Such is the nature of the tragic betrayal that has befallen the
democratic forces in
But the mainstream democratic movement has
remained resolute. The MDC has remained loyal and maintained an unwavering
commitment to the values and operational strategies charted by the NWPC. As we
move on from this historic National Congress let us be more united and craft and
implement policies that ensures that our inevitable liberation will be the
product of and owned by all the broad democratic forces in
MDC Inaugural Congress.
The NWPC developed a National Agenda and identified how to carry it forward. That delivery vehicle became the MDC. Consequently, the MDC inaugural congress in February 2000, as with its formation in September 1999, was guided by the spirit, values, policies, resolutions and strategies of the NWPC. The party has remained faithful to the peoples’ ideals as expressed in the Agenda for Action by the NPWC. The Inaugural Congress set the stage to launch our blueprint to capture the various interests of the people into a broad programme of action to be implemented by an MDC government.
Over the past six years, we have formulated policies for our Political, Economic and Social Agenda that capture and express the political economic and social interests of the majority of Zimbabweans and we continue to celebrate our unity in diversity as a democratic movement with rich shared values and hopes.
All our policies and activities have consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to replacing the status quo with a popular, legitimate government driven by the people’s democratic force and anchored in a popular constitution. We continue to resist and neutralize all diabolical attempts to trap the movement in a groove of compromise with the dictatorship.
Through these relentless efforts, the MDC has
now developed to become a central force on the Zimbabwean political terrain. Our
performance in all local and national elections has demonstrated nationally,
regionally continentally and indeed internationally that we are now the only
dominant democratic political party in
THE OPERATIONAL POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT.
The valiant political victories that the movement scored were not won on a peaceful democratic political marketplace. Instead, they were snatched from the jaws of tyranny. We accepted, paid and continue to pay a heavy prize for using democratic methods against a political opponent who is totally contemptuous of, and violent to democracy, democratic processes and methods. For that we have no regrets.
Over the past six years, the party has been subjected to such a violent traumatic experience that today we can proudly claim that few political opposition political parties in modern times have survived the same levels repression as those consistently targeted, with the full might, of the state against the MDC. We have passed the test. Now we must prepare to govern with the resilience, fortitude and determination as have seen us survive the darkest and most dangerous times in the post independence history of this country.
The February 2000 Constitutional Referendum and The June 2000 Parliamentary Elections.
From the time of the formation of the party we were engaged in two battles: one organisational; the other defensive. Between the formation of the party in September 1999 and the Inaugural Congress in February 2000 the party concentrated on the establishment of an effective organizational structure on the ground. Wards, branches, district and provincial structures had to be established and stabilised and the party message had to percolate to the remotest villages.
Tragically, this intended programme of intensive mass mobilization had to be combined with a strategy to defend the nascent party structures and supporters against a ferocious onslaught from the ruling party backed by all state organs at its disposal. It was a clash of two political cultures. We sought to introduce a culture of peace, tolerance and democracy where dictatorship once reigned supreme.
With the party still in its infancy, we found
ourselves going into a mobilization battle against the regime sponsored
Constitution which was intended to render the dictatorship the natural political
We operated daily under the sound of hostile
gunfire with both the party structures and supporters targeted for destruction,
the intention being to kill once and for all the idea of democracy, democratic
processes and governance in
State-sponsored violence, the magnitude of which has no parallels in the post independence history of this country was unleashed and enveloped the country, creating such conditions of insecurity that for many of the party supporters, life expectancy began to measured in seconds rather than years.
The entire population was brutalized. Murder, rape, kidnappings and general violence became instruments of governance by the regime. Private property was routinely destroyed and there was a general breakdown of law and order. Law enforcement became heavily politicised along partisan lines and a supposedly protective state became a predatory one. The state became a captured instrument in the hands of the dictatorship. Every state organ and agent was turned into combatants against the MDC. Youth militias and rogue elements of the so-called war veterans marauded the country the country as virtual freebooters with specific instructions to destroy the MDC. It was virtually a war against the people. We had no state or legal protection and we had to craft our own survival methods and strategies. We prevailed.
The referendum campaign laid the context in which the violent political practices and pernicious, malicious and repressive legislation, which define the dictatorship today, were established and refined with each subsequent political campaign.
This hostile and dangerous political environment did not deter the MDC from its central objective of mobilizing the people to reject a proposed constitution that sought to entrench dictatorship and enslave them in perpetuity. The party successfully combined the tasks of party building, mass mobilisation and resistance, to defeat for the first time, and cut back the tentacles of tyranny. The people rejected the regime’s draft constitution.
It was a glorious victory for the brutalised
The referendum result was critical because it
demonstrated to the entire world that the people of
For the party as a whole, the message and
lesson learnt is loud and clear: The people of
Emboldened by the result of the February
Constitutional Referendum the party prepared for the June 2000 parliamentary
elections with courage and determination. Our comprehensive Election Manifesto
captured and expressed the broad interests of the people of
We promised a peaceful democratic culture under a people’s constitution; effective and impartial law enforcement; judiciary independence; land reform; general economic recovery, job creation, poverty eradication and freedom from hunger. All these were promises broken by the regime over a period of 20 years of violent misrule.
With a systematic record of failure, neglect and arrogance the regime had no tangible issue to project, no credibility to deliver believable promises. They had neither fresh policy nor old programmes to repackage and sell to the people. The regime stared at certain electoral defeat and the only electoral policy and strategy available was that of violence, which was officially unleashed without let or hindrance.
The violence that was unleashed during the February Constitutional Referendum was intensified and given a new impetus. The regime abandoned any semblance of democracy and legality. State-sponsored violence became the mode of day-to-day governance. Murder, torture, rape and all kinds of human rights violations against MDC members and supporters became regular electoral campaign events, with the perpetrators enjoying open state support and protection.
Groups of war veterans and ruling party youth militias with open state material and political support roamed the length and breath of the country murdering and terrorising innocent people at will. There was a total breakdown of law and order induced and orchestrated by the state and the civil administration of the country had virtually collapsed and replaced by a power structure resembling martial law. The election was conducted in political conditions that resembled a war zone.
Under the guise of the so-called “land reform,” widespread violence sealed off the rural areas from MDC campaigns, and crimes that can only rival fascism and Nazism in scale and wickedness were unleashed against the people. A well planned, systematically implemented and effectively managed infrastructure of violence left virtually no room for free political campaigning.
Our parliamentary candidates and party election workers could not campaign freely and were prime targets of the regime’s violence. Some had to abandon their homes and constituencies, while others operated virtually underground. Hundreds of thousands of our party supporters were physically prevented from casting their votes. At many polling centres, the electoral system had been manipulated to “net-in” only those believed to be ruling party supporters.
Electoral violence was complemented by authoritarian electoral management machinery and administrative dictatorial powers both of which ensured that the election was stolen before even the first vote was cast. There was extensive use of the dictatorial presidential powers in support of regime appointed agencies such as the Election Directorate to achieve the desired fraudulent outcome.
Changes to the electoral laws to bend the process in the regime’s favour were made only a few days before the poll. Handpicked civil servants in the Election Directorate supported by shadowy security agents ran the poll in place of an Independent Electoral Commission. Poll observation was routinely obstructed by the regime with some election observers denied accreditation. Overall, this combination of violence, presidential dictatorial powers and a ferocious bureaucratic stranglehold on the electoral process was meant to totally obliterate the electoral chances of the MDC.
However, in spite of the hostile and dangerous political environment in which we mounted our electoral campaign, the MDC’s poignant message could not be stopped. Through our newly created party structures we were able to disseminate our message to the remotest villages in the country and devise effective strategies to protect members and supporters from the worst excesses the regime’s violence.
The atrocities perpetrated by the regime began to attract widespread international attention and condemnation. Consequently we galvanised the region, the continent, the commonwealth and the entire international community to our democratic cause.
From June 2000 until today, the tyrannical regime has remained on the radar of international attention. Democratic forces through the world have rallied behind us to ensure that the regime justly gets the pariah status that it has brought upon itself. Our internal responses to violence and external outreach programme have been quite effective. Zimbabweans and majority opinion and organisations in the international community rejected both the electoral process and outcome.
However, the election results demonstrated the determination of Zimbabweans to reclaim their freedom. Voter determination and turnout were so strong that the regime’s violence and rigging mechanism could not alter the result in the 57 constituencies that we won; while in 39 other constituencies, evidence of electoral fraud was so overwhelming that the regime had to manipulate the judiciary system to ensure that MDC election petitions received inordinate delays.
By 2005, not a single election petition had received a fair hearing and concluded at the courts and they had to fall by the way side because of fresh parliamentary elections that were due. If the 2000 parliamentary election had been conducted the most basic or rudimentary conditions of freeness and fairness, the MDC would have easily netted in between 90 and 100 seats. We would have started the process to usher in an MDC administration.
The June 2000 parliamentary election was therefore a major victory for the people and the party. In addition to the regime’s defeat at the referendum the parliamentary elections three months later demonstrated once again that the regime had lost the legitimacy to govern and remained in power through the use of force.
The crisis that started with the referendum
was exacerbated by the fraudulent elections. From that time until today the
regime has sacrificed every facet of national life and the general welfare of
the people of
During the period between the June 2000 and
the March 2002 presidential election the regime waged war against the MDC and
all democratic forces in
MDC leaders and political activists were routinely arrested and brutalized on trumped up charges and political violence continued throughout the country. Human rights violations became a critical instrument of control and governance for the regime. Labour and civic organizations continued to be targets of violent state action and illegal arrests and detentions. Independent media journalist were constantly harassed and arrested and newspapers banned. Church leaders were demonised for speaking out against the regime’s record of violence and torture and women’s organisation were singled out for the most degrading and inhuman treatment. The whole society was held to dictatorial ransom. The objective was to cow down the entire population into submission.
These actions of physical violence and intimidation were complemented by draconian legislation designed to buttress an infrastructure of dictatorship otherwise maintained by brute force. Using its fraudulent majority in the parliament, the regime bulldozed all voices of reason, passed the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to prescribe and nearly proscribe political activity, close down democratic political discourse, and shrink democratic space. POSA’s sister legislation, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) targeted and muzzled the press to immunize the regime’s corruption and brutalities from public scrutiny. These pernicious pieces of legislation were complemented by the ever-present severe and unwritten methods of tyrannical rule and law enforcement.
The tyrannical political terrain that was created made it virtually impossible for the MDC to function normally as a political party engaged in democratic political activity. It was an attempt to deliberately nudge the MDC into violent precipitous action and thereby provide an excuse for the regime to accuse the party of insurrection, use all the might at its disposal and crush and ban the movement.
We refused to fall into this diabolical trap. In spite of the daily acts of provocation that we endured, we remained committed to peaceful democratic methods of resistance. We launched various acts of peaceful defiance and civil disobedience to confront the regime constantly. The party remained strong and the various democratic mass actions that we engaged in demonstrated to the regime that the people’s quest for their freedom remained undefeated.
The March 2002 Presidential Election.
The state-sponsored violence that was unleashed during the June 2000 parliamentary elections was sustained and intensified during the intervening period leading to the presidential election. The entire state machinery operated virtually like a gigantic violent organ of the ruling party targeting the MDC.
Violence against us became a system of
government administration and a command structure stretching from the remotest
village up to the ruling party headquarters in
The Defence Act, Police Act and the relevant sections of the Constitution were operationally suspended for the purpose of fighting the MDC. The overall army commander openly called for an insurrection should a legitimately elected MDC government come to power and all the other service chiefs openly associated themselves with that statement. The police and the secret service actively participated in campaigning for the ruling party and some committed openly criminal acts with impunity, and units of the army made frequent forays into the high-density suburbs to brutalise innocent civilians. Law enforcement virtually collapsed and any criminal act against the MDC and in support of the ruling party was officially sanctioned.
A number of our supporters were killed for holding their particular political opinions and the systematic violation of human rights reached a new crescendo. Leaders and party supporters were frequently harassed, arrested and detained under trumped up charges and well laid out ambush plans for the assassination of some members of the leadership miraculously failed. What was supposed to be a democratic inter-party political contest assumed the ominous proportions of the state against an unarmed political party. The volatility of the political situation nationally could only be described as one of low intensity conflict.
This violent situation was complemented by the existence of the newly promulgated draconian anti-democratic laws designed to snuff out all those democratic practices and processes that could not be destroyed by violence alone. POSA criminalized legitimate political debate and the freedom of association and assembly while AIPPA crippled the freedom to disseminate democratic ideas through the press. The movement virtually became a besieged party operating under a barrage of physical and paralegal attacks from the state and the ruling party.
At the height of the electoral campaign three MDC leaders including the party president were hauled before the courts on trumped up charges of treason. This was a deliberate, cynical and vicious attempt to decapitate the party and cause chaos, confusion and hopelessness among the membership. The trial dragged on for over a year and the charges were thrown out of court. Resources, which had been reserved for several party programmes had to be deployed for the defence of the leadership. However, in spite of this attempt to strangle the party, both the leadership and the generality of the members struggled on with the campaign heroically.
The electoral playing field was extremely uneven, tilting in favour of the ruling party. The voters’ roll was chaotic, with many ghost voters while hundreds of thousands of both old and new voters having been left out of the roll. This shambolic nature of the voters was exacerbated by the arbitrary amendment of the citizenship laws, which deprived hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans of their citizenship and the right to vote.
There was no independent electoral body. The Election Directorate and the Registrar-General’s department stuffed by the regime’s nominees and ruling party loyalists, functioned virtually as a rigging mechanism for the government. Military personnel performed key duties in the electoral process and the entire election administration system became militarised and presided over by a civil-military junta. The critical part of the democratic process could neither be expected to be superintended by, nor democracy to issue from such a highly compromised system.
In spite of all the bureaucratic impediments and incessant state-organised violence, Zimbabweans were determined to rid themselves of this tyranny. They turned out in their thousands to cast their vote and the reaction of the state turned the voting process into chaos. In the rural areas some polling stations were closed well ahead of time, while in the urban areas police had to violently intervene using helicopters, teargas and truncheons to stop people from casting their vote.
The result clearly demonstrated the much-anticipated MDC victory. The regime took time to announce the election figures and when they did they issued contradictory figures, which clearly demonstrated serious problems in manipulating an MDC victory into a defeat. Once again, through violence and the abuse of the state apparatus, we were cheated of our victory. Zimbabweans and the bulk of the international community are aware of this victory and the illegitimacy of the present regime.
We took the only route that seemed available to us at the time and petitioned the High Court. The long-drawn out legal battle is still in process and we do not expect any justice from the manipulated judiciary system. However we approached the court because we believed that it would provide us with a platform and opportunity to reveal to Zimbabweans and the international community how the presidential election was stolen.
The Internationalisation of the Zimbabwe Crisis.
Since the February 2000 Constitutional Referendum the focus of the international region and the international community had been trained on the evolving violent political situation in Zimbabwe. Many countries and organisations had been expressing grave concern at the violence deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe. The African Union, Commonwealth, the European Union and the United States of America all made serious attempts to persuade the regime from waging war against defenceless people.
Other organisations such as the International Bar Association and the World Council of Churches added their voices to no avail. The response of the regime was to pour vitriol on any voices of reason, claiming that it had the right of might to treat Zimbabweans any way that pleased it. It banned a selected group of countries, foreign non-governmental organisations and perceived to be critical from entering Zimbabwe and observing the election. The election was to be conducted away from the scrutiny of the international community.
The Commonwealth Conference that took place in Australia shortly before the presidential election failed to persuade the regime to put in place measures to enable the holding of free and fair elections, but ended up setting a troika composed of Nigeria, Australia and South Africa to try to broker a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis. A series of diplomatic engagements by the troika yielded virtually nothing, as the regime spurned any and all political formulae meant to dismantle the dictatorship in order to resolve the crisis of governance.
The persuasive efforts of the European Union and the USA could not derail the regime’s efforts to maintain illegitimate political power at any cost. It was the regime’s hostility towards all these international overtures that brought about targeted sanctions by the USA, EU Australia and New Zealand against the regime and its key supporters. The intransigence of the regime created for it conditions. We as a movement had absolutely no hand in that development. We did not and do not control political processes and foreign policy in those countries. The actions of the regime internationalised the crisis because the international community no longer regards human rights violations as a domestic matter, contrary to the regime’s despicable claims.
The Commonwealth troika took the initiative soon after the elections to diffuse the potentially explosive political situation that gripped the nation after the stolen election and called for dialogue between the MDC and ZANU PF. The mandate of the troika was to promote reconciliation between the two political parties in order to create a political environment conducive to addressing the issues of food shortages, economic recovery, restoration of political stability, the rule of law and the conduct of future elections. South Africa and Nigeria were to foster this engagement. The dialogue started in April 2000.
We were committed as a party to exploring all avenues towards resolving the crisis of governance in the country peacefully and we agreed to engage the regime in dialogue in good faith. We chose a team to carry the party’s political position to the talks within the confines of a strict mandate. Our position was that the goal of national dialogue must be based on an unconditional return to legitimacy through a presidential poll that was free and fair under peaceful political conditions. The negotiating team was tasked to demand that before serious dialogue could start the regime had to implement fourteen (14) confidence-building measures that restored a situation of tranquillity conducive to fruitful talks. These included:
1. An immediate stop to the violence that engulfed the nation.
2. An end to all political persecutions and political prosecutions.
3. The immediate disbanding of all ZANU PF militias and immediate cessation of further training.
4. The disarming of all war veterans and guarantees that they will not be rearmed and that they will not be rearmed and that they will not engage in political activities as an armed group operating virtually above the law, but only as ordinary Zimbabwe citizens.
5. An undertaking not to grant amnesty for the perpetrators of murder, rape, torture political violence and other serious crimes.
6. Am immediate stop to on-going human rights violations of all kinds.
7. An end to selective and biased law enforcement. Police should be non-partisan in the execution of their duties.
8. An end to the use of the Central Intelligence Organisation for partisan political activities.
9. A stop to the use of the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) in civilian policing duties or political activities of any kind.
10. Respect and impartial enforcement of the rule of law.
11. Repeal of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
12. An end to the use of the national broadcaster (ZBC) as a partisan media instrument.
13. A commitment to stop the legislative use of Presidential powers in these areas, undermining the authority of parliament.
14. A commitment to humanitarian ethics of food and relief distribution on grounds of need, without partisan or adverse distinction of ant kind.
It is important that the party is fully aware of the accurate mandate given to the negotiating team. Our position was that before any meaningful talks could be entered into, all these 14 confidence-building measures were to be implemented by the regime in order to create a peaceful political environment conducive to dialogue.
The inter-party dialogue was convened in early April 2002. The opening session was devoted to the reading of opening statements and expressions of political positions, the exchange of position papers and it was agreed to resume a few days later in April 2000 for deliberations on substantive issues. It was anticipated by the facilitators that the talks should be concluded by early May 2002. At the next meeting held on April 10 2002, the inter-party team agreed on the rules of procedure during the deliberations and the agenda for discussions.
The agenda closely mirrored the concerns raised by the MDC in our confidence-building position paper and agreed that there was an urgent need to create conditions for normal political activity. The critical issues agreed to were as follows:
A. Creating conditions for normal political activity.
1. Legitimacy of elections and government.
2. Sovereignty of Zimbabwe.
3. Multipartism in Zimbabwe.
4. Confidence building measures in Zimbabwe.
5. Politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe
6. Constitution and laws of Zimbabwe.
B. Economic development/ recovery plan and mobilisation of resources.
1. Consensus on land reform----Abuja process.
C. Way forward.
1. Adoption of Programme of work.
Both the MDC and ZANU PF had agreed to the above agenda. Our negotiating team went fully prepared to engage in serious discussions. ZANU PF however realised that they had been put in a corner from where there was little hope of escape except to take part in the dialogue seriously and they started looking for flimsy excuses to break away from the talks. Their first salvo was to ask for in an inordinately long and unreasonable adjournment to 13 May 2002 ostensibly because the ministers in their team claimed prior government commitments. Their other reason was that they needed time to prepare for substantive discussions on the agenda items.
ZANU PF maintained a precondition for serious talks to begin. They insisted that the MDC should not take the matter of the rigged election and therefore the illegitimacy of the regime to court. We rejected this condition but indicated that we would consider abandoning the legal route if in our opinion the talks progressed satisfactorily and fruitfully.
There was a court deadline for the submission of our election petition and we continued with our preparations to submit the required court papers. The court deadline for the submission of our election petition fell within the period before the resumption of the talks and our legal team filed the papers on the due date. ZANU PF used the submission of our court papers as an excuse to break the talks and walk away. They argued that the court processes should be exhausted first before dialogue, if need be, could resume. Four years later, the courts have not even begun to hear the main case in our election petition.
It is clear that the regime had no intention from the very beginning to engage in serious political dialogue to resolve the political crisis in the country. They came to the talks under serious internal and external pressure. Internally the rigged election had created high levels of political tension which could have exploded at any time; and externally many countries were piling pressure on the regime to engage the MDC and chart a way forward in resolving the crisis. The regime agreed to the talks to give the appearance talking as a strategy to diffuse both internal and external pressures.
As indicated above, our main election petition has been pending for over four years now and there are no indications that the hearing will take place any time soon. We won the right to examine all election materials pertaining to the presidential poll but the Registrar General engaged in delaying tactics to frustrate us in this exercise and when the materials were finally provided, our examination team realised that the seals on a number of ballot boxes had been tampered with. The election materials could not be of much use to our case. There does not seem to have been any readily available remedy. ZANU PF refused to negotiate, while the state placed bureaucratic obstacles and the courts have since engaged in delaying tactics to hear the case.
The troika’s efforts to broker dialogue between the MDC and ZANU PF were scuttled by the open intransigence of the regime but the dispute remained internationalised. The regime became extremely isolated. Nigeria and South Africa intermittently tried to come up with fresh moves, all systematically spurned by the regime. Ultimately, South Africa decided to go it alone and launched its so-called quiet diplomacy, which turned out to be a ploy to gradually reduce international pressure on the regime and assist it to regain recognition and legitimacy by the back door.
Any action on several international fora by any country or countries; group or groups or progressive individuals to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis immediately receives stiff opposition from South Africa. Efforts by the international community to create effective mechanisms to bring the regime to account for its record of misrule have been systematically blunted by South Africa. It has successfully fought more battles on the international fora to protect the regime than the regime itself could have achieved. In our genuine pursuit to leave no stone unturned in the quest for a peaceful resolution of the crisis, we have met with the South Africans on numerous occasions encountered but achieved no positive outcome. We acme to the conclusion that South Africa was only interested in buying time for the regime and regarded the MDC as the junior partner in the political equation which must do ZANU PF’s bidding. We reject that without any equivocation or apology.
South Africa has arrogated to itself the right to veto any initiatives on Zimbabwe, which are likely to produce a resolution to the crisis that is inimical to the dictatorial interests of the regime. It has become part of the problem rather than engage in honest brokerage to produce a resolution of the crisis that furthers the interests of the region as a whole.
While we are not sealing off contacts with the South African government, we are now extremely sceptical about their sincerity as honest brokers in the crisis. It is up to the South African government to redeem their bona fides as fair players and honest brokers in the Zimbabwe crisis of governance.
Mobilising the People----The June 2003 Mass Action.
After the collapse of the inter-party dialogue we followed the only logical course available to the party. We went back to the people to explain, to strengthen our party organs and structures and generally mobilise them to engage in peaceful mass action to confront a tyrannical and arrogant regime. State sponsored violence did not stop; instead it was intensified as a measure to keep a restless population subdued. Arbitrary arrests, harassment of civilians by soldiers, impartial law enforcement and human rights violations all continued unabated. The population became besieged by a regime bend on extracting legitimacy from the people violently.
This situation of low intensity conflict was exacerbated by the collapse of the economy. In the urban areas, thousands of workers lost their jobs as companies closed. Food shortages became acute as the effect the chaotic “land reform” programme began to take its toll. Chronic neglect in the rural areas and the politicisation of food aid saw millions starving. The effects of HIV/Aids ran riot, as the bankrupt regime failed to provide for both medical and welfare relief. The population was being assaulted from all angles. The people were constantly beleaguered.
It was in this context, where all democratic avenues were closed and no hope for socio-economic relief that we sought to mobilise the people and demonstrate to the regime that the people are not prepared to endure arbitrary rule indefinitely.
The June 2003 peaceful mass action indicated clearly that the MDC was the legitimate authority in the country with the undoubted popular allegiance of the majority of Zimbabwe. Our goal was never to seek a violent confrontation with the regime as claimed by our detractors; instead, we intended to lay bare to the region and the international community that the regime remained in power only through the use force. It was therefore an illegitimate regime. For five solid days the forces of democracy under the leadership of the MDC, brought the country to a standstill and the regime could only react to our initiatives. We resisted all provocation, which the regime intended to use as an excuse for a formal declaration of a state of emergency in order to destroy the party, and our structures remain intact and resilient. We called off the protest when we were satisfied that our objective had been achieved.
The response of the regime was predictable. All the security forces were placed on red alert against a defenceless people embarking on no-violent mass action. A lot of brutalities were committed against unarmed people during the period of the mass action itself. Hundreds of people were arrested, detained and tortured for no preferred or proven charges and released without trial. After the mass action people going about their business peacefully in their neighbourhoods were routinely brutalised by uniformed forces without any recourse to the protection of the law. The regime continued to trample on people’s political and civil liberties with impunity.
The Struggle for the Restoration of Genuine Democratic Elections in Zimbabwe----RESTORE!
In spite of the brutalities associated with the suppression of our mass action, we did not succumb to tyranny. Instead the democratic resistance gained momentum throughout 2003 and 2004. Our democratic resistance was organised around five key democratic demands, which constituted the minimum standards for the restoration of genuine democratic elections in Zimbabwe. We applied constant pressure for the regime to:
1. Restore the rule of law.
2. Restore basic freedoms and rights.
3. Establish an Independent Election Commission.
4. Restore public confidence in the electoral process
5. Restore the Secrecy of the ballot
We believed that these principles, based on the SADC Parliamentary Forum Election Norms and Standards, and are common in most SADC countries, were and are a prerequisite to the exercise of our fundamental human rights and we demanded that the regime legislated them into place before the 2005 parliamentary elections. These demands were not new, instead they run through the entire MDC political programme since the formation of the party.
We mobilised a sustained campaign of domestic and international agitation that was quite effective. Our demands were captured by the SADC region and transformed into a programme of action. SADC formerly adopted the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections in 2004. The party took a principled position that no democratic value could be added to the nation if we took part in future elections under conditions that were tailor-made to rig the poll in ZANU PF’s favour before even the first vote was cast. That step was intended to ensure that the fake legitimacy, which the regime derived from staging a semblance of competitive electoral politics, would be removed.
The regime could no longer violently ignore our demands since the whole regions’ attention was then focussed on the electoral conditions in Zimbabwe ahead of the March 2005 parliamentary elections. For the first time since the June 2000 parliamentary elections, it had to concede at least to some of the demands, which it believed did not seriously undermine its tyrannical rule.
In response to local and regional political pressure, the regime used the parliamentary process to introduce superficial electoral innovations. A so-called independent electoral commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the use of translucent ballot boxes were legislated into force. In addition, the electoral laws were tightened to make extremely difficult to approach the courts seeking a nullification of the election results on the basis of ZANU PF violence, intimidation, denial of food and other human rights violations.
We remain opposed to the manner in which ZEC was introduced, its composition and its preponderant political leanings. It is clearly not an independent body. Our proposal was that the two parties should discuss the composition of an independent electoral commission and then pass on the agreed position to parliament to effect the relevant legislation. That way the neutrality and political independence of the electoral body could be guaranteed and become generally acceptable to all Zimbabweans.
Instead, ZANU PF bulldozed the process and used the parliamentary route so that its fraudulent majority could ensure that both the format and composition of ZEC would safeguard the political interests of the ruling party. The chairman of ZEC and the majority of the commissioners are known ZANU PF activists and can in no way be regarded as independent. In addition, ZEC was not a constitutional body, but remained subservient to the Electorate Directorate and the Electoral Supervisory Commission, all of which functioned openly as ZANU PF organs. It arrived on the political scene as a highly compromised and partisan body and no free and fair elections could be expected from its activities.
The simple introduction of translucent ballot boxes without addressing the critical issues of the political environment in which the electoral contest took place did not improve strengthens the democratic process. Translucent ballot boxes on their own did not stop vote rigging, intimidation and all other irregularities. Overall, the electoral “reforms” were simply cosmetic and designed to ward off regional pressure for an even electoral playing field. These reforms were subverted and ultimately did not significantly change the rules of the electoral game, increase room for political fair play or enhance the democratic process.
We remained resolute that no useful purpose could be served by participating in elections under those conditions. However, the leadership listened to wise counsel from the membership, from our supporters, the region, the continent and the international community. The gist of the advice was to take part in the poll, demonstrate the glaring democratic electoral reform deficit, re-establish and re-affirm the yardstick against which the dictatorship could continue to be evaluated. The arrogant insincerity of the regime had to be exposed.
The March 2005 Parliamentary Election.
We decided to take part in the March 2005 parliamentary elections under protest because it was clear to the party that the electoral playing field was tilted heavily in favour of the ruling party. POSA made the campaign conditions extremely difficult. Through POSA, ZANU PF regulated all our campaign activities through the requirement that the police sanction all political meetings---from rallies to confidential political strategy meetings. Using the police and the security agents, the regime was able to eavesdrop on all our sensitive preparatory political meetings, and this cannot be acceptable in a normal functioning democracy.
The voters’ registration process was haphazard and the voter’s register itself was still grossly inaccurate and thousands of potential voters were still not in the voters register and the newly created ZEC had not started to function. It had neither personnel nor resources. Although the campaign itself witnessed a noticeable reduction in instances of physical violence, the infrastructure of subterranean intimidation and other forms of human rights violations remained quite effective.
In the rural areas, the entire state administrative machinery was transformed from normal functions to serve as a vast ZANU PF intimidation structure. ZANU PF district councillors and chiefs openly intimidated villagers to vote for the ruling party and threatened dire consequences should the opposition win at identified polling stations. In some areas villages suspected of opposition sympathies denied food relief while in other areas the distribution of food relief was withheld pending the outcome of the election and they were threatened with food denial should the MDC win at polling stations in their locality.
Access to food became a critical inimidatory factor in the rural areas. In addition the electoral law ensured that candidates were absolved and immunised from irregularities arising from the activities of their supporters. This meant that unless all the incidences of violence and food denial could be proved to have been perpetrated by the particular ruling party candidate in a given constituency, the opposition party had no form of legal redress.
Party loyalists manned the election process. Known ZANU PF supporters and activists were engaged as returning officers and served in other critical capacities while security agents played a key role in the whole process. This process of swamping the entire election administration machinery with ZANU PF operatives created the context in which vote rigging, including simple ballot stuffing was executed. The counting of the votes was chaotic with contradictory figures being released for some constituencies, while in others the number of votes cast were suspiciously high for a normal election; and the party was not represented at the national vote coordination centre.
There is absolutely no doubt that the vote was rigged given the circumstances in which it was conducted and the heavily biased election administration machinery that conducted the poll. We came back with a reduced representation of 41 seats but in our calculation the party actually won in about 94 constituencies. Consequently the party gathered evidence in about 16 constituencies where rigging was so extensive that an impartial judiciary would have considered them open and shut cases and found for the opposition.
However even the legal route was closed to us. The Electoral Court that the regime set up patently unconstitutional. All our efforts to have the situation rectified were resisted and we felt that we could not subject ourselves to the jurisdiction of an unconstitutional court, which meant that the cases fell by the wayside.
The regime continued with its onslaught on the people. Over the past six years, the regime has been creating poverty rather than wealth and jobs as a means to control and subjugate the people. Now it has come up with a new and more devastating strategy: To eliminate the poor who are the products of its own handiwork. This has been the sole objective of the so-called “Operation Murambatsvina.” Millions of people have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed and lived in the open through the bitter cold months of 2005. What kind of a housing programme is it that starts by destroying people’s homes and rendering them homeless? Operation Murambatsvina was nothing but an open war against the people. It was a matter of the ruling party using the state apparatus to launch a pre-emptive strike and throw into disarray the victims of its on policies before they could organise and seek a democratic answer to their predicament.
We have the support of the democratic international community and we have the answer. That answer is democratic resistance. Let us mobilise all sections of the nation and launch the final bid for our freedom.
The 12 October 2005 Crisis.
We participated in the March 2005 parliamentary election reluctantly because we knew that the electoral terrain would never produce a free and fair expression of the people’s political choice. The electoral process and the result vindicated us. To us the only viable route forward was one of peaceful democratic resistance to compel the regime to yield to the people’s demands for democratic reforms to enable the holding of free and fair elections.
Today, the peaceful democratic resistance route offers itself as the only available route to compel the regime to put in place democratic reforms to usher free and fair elections. Continued participation in fake electoral contests would only serve to strengthen the regime’s propaganda that such elections signified the presence of a vibrant democracy in the country and therefore the regime was legitimate and democratic.
To fortify this false perception, soon after the March 2005 parliamentary election the regime initiated moves to yet again amend the constitution to introduce a senate. In the regime’s propaganda, senate was supposed to signify the “broadening” and “deepening” of democracy through an expansion of parliamentary representation. This was simply a ruse or a cheap trick and the reality was different.
Senate is purely a ZANU PF project, which adds absolutely no value to the resolution of the current crisis of governance facing the nation. It is part and parcel of ZANU PF’s succession plan. The idea was to create a political home or parking slot for the ZANU PF dead wood that can never succeed in an electoral context. In that way, having joined the gravy train, feelings of alienation, exclusion and bitterness would be removed from that group and render them willing to accept whatever succession plans are on offer.
The question that confronted the party was whether or not to participate in the senate elections and strengthen, bring to fruition the ZANU PF project? We had consistently opposed constitutional amendments as false start in, in favour of a people driven constitutional process, as the fundamental step in resolving the crisis of governance in the country.
In addition we had demonstrated in June 2000, March 2002, March 2005 and during countless parliamentary elections that free and fair elections are impossible until an electoral framework fashioned along the lines of our RESTORE document are in place. The question was what value would participation in the senate elections add to people’s struggle for democracy, good governance, the rule of law, economic recovery etc.?
To us the answer was quite clear and eloquent. Absolutely no value at all. Instead participation would have aborted or set back the democratic struggle by many years.
We objected to our being made handmaidens to plans whose aim was to create a dictatorial structure that enabled tyrannical rule to be inherited. Our position on the crisis of governance in this country is quite clear. We are convinced that it is only through a comprehensive and people driven constitution that democracy and good governance in Zimbabwe can ultimately be guaranteed.
Piecemeal or patchwork constitutional, as has been the experience with the current regime over the past 26 years only resulted in the entrenchment of dictatorship and the immense suffering of the people. This has been a fundamental principle that guided the deliberations of the NWPC and constituted the launching pad of the party. It was and still remains the major reason for the formation of the MDC. To breach that principle would mean that party loses its reason to exist.
We could not simultaneously be fighting dictatorship on one hand and strengthening it on the other. The MDC shall never be used as an instrument for the continued subjugation of the people of Zimbabwe.
It was precisely on the basis of fundamental differences on this sacred principle that the October 2005 split in the party occurred. There were those among us who got tired of the struggle opted for a political course that sought to compromise with the regime in order to create a political context and environment for second “Unity Accord” or better still an “Internal Settlement” This was simply a splinter group. Those of us in the mainstream MDC refused to betray the fundamental values and principles of the people and the party and we remain firm and resolute, committed to bringing about democracy and good governance to the country and put an end to the suffering of the people.
Some in the splinter group mounted what turned out to be a fake parliamentary opposition to the constitutional amendment designed to bring about the senate. The more honest among them including some key individuals among the party leadership in parliament were even absent when the crucial vote was taken. This was a clear indication of support for the senate project.
Those who opted to collaborate with the regime have distorted issues to come up with outrageous justifications for their action. No purpose can ever be served by narrating their position. They have made reference to democracy when in fact by their very actions they sought to link hands with the regime to destroy the democratic struggle and chances of bringing abort democratic governance in this country.
The MDC is a party that was formed on the basis of a shared history of suffering at the hands of the regime. It is a diverse party irrevocably bound by a civic equality as members of the movement. It is the only political party that lays a verified claim to having a nationwide rather that a regional or ethnic appeal. Let us keep it that way. Let us continue to celebrate and jealously guard the richness of our diversity and never allow the forces of tyranny to divide us.
Let us remain focussed on the struggle because there are more ominous developments ahead. We know that the regime is finalising a parliamentary bill to abandon the presidential elections scheduled for 2008, in favour of yet another constitutional amendment to enabled Mugabe’s handpicked successor to inherit the dictatorship until 2010. This is part and parcel of a strategy that started with the senate project supported by our erstwhile colleagues who went astray.
As a party let us brace ourselves to resist this sinister agenda with all our numbers and democratic might. We must now stop the dictatorship from continuing to play havoc with the lives and welfare of Zimbabweans. The agenda for action now must be to force the regime to yield to the people’s demand for free and fair electoral conditions ahead of the presidential elections of 2008.
The road has been long and hard. We have been through times so hard and traumatic those who continuously deride us cannot even begin to imagine them. Let us not be swayed or deviate. Together, let us walk the last mile to our freedom.
18 March 2006
18/03/2006 16:17 - (SA)
Harare - A faction of Zimbabwe's divided opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has accused the South African government of not being an honest
broker in seeking a solution to the southern African nation's political
The accusations were made in a report released during a two-day national MDC
congress in Harare on Saturday.
The report read: "We came to the conclusion that South Africa was only
interested in buying time for the regime and regarded the MDC as the junior
in the political equation which must do Zanu-PF's bidding.
"While we are not sealing off with the South African government, we are now
extremely sceptical about their sincerity as honest brokers in the crisis.
"It is up to the South African government to redeem their bona fides as fair
and honest brokers in the Zimbabwe crisis of governance."
The report also criticised the South African government's policy of "quiet
democracy", which the MDC report says is "a ploy to gradually reduce
international pressure on the Zimbabwean government and assist it in
regaining "recognition and legitimacy by the back door".
South Africa, reads the report, "has become part of the problem, rather than
engage in honest brokerage to produce a resolution of the crisis that
fathers the interest of the region as a whole".
The MDC has been crippled by bitter infighting following leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's decision to boycott Senate elections in November.
The party has since split in two.
One faction is led by Tsvangirai. The other by Arthur Mutambara, elected
unopposed at another congress held in Bulawayo last month.
From The Star (SA), 18 March
By Michael Schmidt
Archive Trust wanted access to information
The Department of Defence (DoD) has illegally shipped potentially sensitive
Military Intelligence files compiled by the old South African Defence Force
(SADF) in then-Rhodesia, to Zimbabwe. That is the claim made in court papers
by the South African History Archive Trust (Saha) at Wits University, which
said the files - including intelligence reports on political parties and
leaders such as Robert Mugabe - were secretly moved out of the country
shortly after a researcher asked for access to them under the Promotion of
Access to Information Act (Paia). According to an affidavit filed in the
Pretoria High Court by Piers Pigou, the director of Saha, the archive
launched a "freedom of information" programme in 2001 in order to use the
Act to acquire State documentation for research and public education. Pigou
said in March 2003, Dr John Seiler, a former professor of political and
international studies, requested the DoD give him access to two groups of
old SADF Military Intelligence files.
The DoD acknowledged receipt of Seiler's request in March 2003, but then a
flurry of e-mails between November 2003 and January 2004 saw Seiler given
the run-around, so he called on Saha's assistance. In July 2004, the DoD
told Saha eight of the 22 files requested had been declassified and the
remainder needed to have portions censored: under the Act, any portion of a
document that may endanger someone must be masked to protect their identity;
and, there are clauses that prevent the revealing of current State security
matters. In October 2004, the Department told Saha copies of the records
were available - but it would not release a "protected" set of letters
titled American Ambassadors, 1966-1977. Then in December 2004, DoD dropped
the bombshell and advised Saha "it was no longer the custodian of" the set
of Military Intelligence files known as "Group 4" which related primarily to
Rhodesia, saying it "had been transferred to the country of origin", later
established to be Zimbabwe.
Saha says the files are clearly SADF files and thus South African. Also, the
Group's index, marked "Geheim" (Secret), shows the files cover the other
frontline states and routes between Rhodesia and its neighbours, and
Rhodesian "terrorist" connections to countries as diverse as Algeria,
Cyprus, Somalia, Cuba, Britain, China and Hungary. In 1976 US Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger embarked on a round of meetings with southern African
leaders including Rhodesia's Ian Smith and SA's John Vorster. At the time,
the US was still resistant to calls for it to join the sanctions campaign
against apartheid SA. In April last year, Saha met with the Department to
clarify matters and was astounded to discover the Group 4 files had been
moved to Zimbabwe without any copies being retained, so Saha wrote to
Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota expressing concern at this. National
Archivist Graham Dominy later told Saha he had referred the matter to Arts
and Culture Director-General Itumeleng Mosala. Dominy could not be reached
for comment yesterday.
But Pigou said he believed that the DoD had not provided an "adequate
response" to its concerns, and that Saha had exhausted all appeals
procedures, so it was asking the court: To declare that the DoD had breached
the Constitution in denying access to the files, and had broken the law by
shipping the records out of the country after Seiler's request was received;
to compel the Department to inform Saha as to the whereabouts of the files,
insuring their return from Zimbabwe; and, to force the Department to name
the officials responsible, so that legal action could be taken against them.
One of Saha's chief concerns, according to Kate Allan, the co-ordinator of
its Freedom of Information programme, was that the Department appeared not
to have censored the files to protect the names of people that might be put
at risk by the files' transfer to Zimbabwe. Of even greater concern, she
said, was that the files had vanished: the secretary for the national
archive of Zimbabwe had told her that the archive never received the files
and were not aware of any other Zimbabwean government department which had.
Although Seiler died in January, Saha is going ahead with its court action.
Lekota's spokesperson, Sam Mkhwanazi, said he was unable to comment on the
matter before it had gone to court.
From News24 (SA), 17 March
Zim mines warn of closure
Harare - Many of Zimbabwe's platinum, diamond and other mineral mines will
be forced to close if President Robert Mugabe's government takes a majority
stake in the companies, an industry body warned. The chamber of mines,
representing 200 mining houses in Zimbabwe, said proposed amendments to the
Minerals and Mines Act would effectively kill off investment needed to keep
the mines open. "Investors will be forced to withhold capital expenditures
for ordinary maintenance as well as development work, partly because
financial institutions will no longer offer the investors foreign exchange
loan facilities as the investors will no longer have controlling interest,"
said a letter from the chamber presented to the government on Thursday. With
only 49% of the shares paid for and without access to loan funds, most
mining companies will have insufficient capital to sustain operations," said
the text obtained by AFP on Friday.
Zimbabwean Mines Minister Amos Midzi said earlier this month that the
government was planning to obtain a 51% stake in some of the mines, a move
that the chamber said amounted to nationalisation and a step backward for
mining. "In instances like Zambia and Tanzania, after embarking on
nationalisation policies and subsequent stagnation of the mining industry,
policies were reversed to make private investment the key to exploration and
mining investments without direct participation of governments," said the
chamber. The changes are expected to be presented to parliament for final
approval before July, according to the mines minister. The move to take
control of the mines comes against the background of an economic crisis that
has left the government in a cash crunch as Zimbabweans struggle with rising
poverty levels, sky-high unemployment and severe shortages of food and fuel.
A key pillar of the economy along with agriculture, the mining sector last
year earned $626m, representing 44% of Zimbabwe's total foreign currency
revenues, according to reserve bank figures. The sector employed more than
50 000 people in 1989, but at the end of last year the number had dropped to
44 500 workers, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
Steven Price in Harare
March 18, 2006
In a move clearly designed to embarrass Peter Chingoka, the ZImbabwe Cricket
chairman, on the eve of the ICC executive meeting in Dubai - and to send a
blunt message to Malcolm Speed and Ehsan Mani - clubs in Matabeleland,
Zimbabwe's second biggest province, voted to boycott all club games this
weekend in protest against his leadership.
All the matches in the Matabeleland Cricket Association First League set for
Sunday have been called off, and a stakeholders meeting has been called at
Queens Sports Club where a decision is set to be made on whether
Matabeleland continues to associate itself with Zimbabwe Cricket.
"All clubs in Matabeleland are boycotting cricket starting this weekend
pending a stakeholders meeting to be held on Thursday," a spokesman said.
"We are doing this to send a clear message to the ICC that Peter Chingoka
does not have the mandate of anyone in Zimbabwe. So who is he representing
in that meeting?"
With Matabeleland turning against Chingoka, he appears to have almost no
support among any of the country's major clubs. Although Mashonaland backs
him at provincial level, the six major clubs - Takashinga, Old Georgians,
Alexandra Sports Club, Harare Sports Club, Old Hararians and Universals -
have all split from the official provincial league in protest against the
leadership of Cyprian Mandenge, a close ally of Chingoka and ZC managing
director Ozias Bvute. A result of that dispute was evident in Mashonaland's
substandard side during the Faithwear Provincial One-Day tournament.
The timing of the announcement coincides with a move by senior
administrators to advise the ICC of continuing deterioration in the state of
cricket inside Zimbabwe. One source told Cricinfo that since January when
the Sports and Recreation Commision appointed an interim executive - led by
Chingoka - to run the affairs of ZC, the situation has deteriorated. He
claimed that there was no evidence that the independent forensic audit into
serious allegations of financial irregularities had made any progress, and
added that the board had continued to be politically cleansed of anyone
opposing the existing regime.
"If the ICC still chooses to believe that Chingoka is in control and has the
support of the stakeholders, then we might as well all give up," he told
Cricinfo. "The situation continues to get worse and the ICC has effectively
endorsed all that has been done. They know the reality, and yet they have
done nothing to help. The meeting next week represents the last chance for
them to act"
Dear Family and Friends,
It was with a feeling of great sadness to watch the opening ceremony of the
Commonwealth Games this week and not see Zimbabwe walk in with all the other
countries. All our African neighbours were there, smiling, colourful and
bursting with patriotic pride. Even though I knew that our President had
withdrawn Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, still I watched, expectant,
but at last sad and disappointed as we were not present at the "friendly
What a shame it is that our rising young sportsmen and women have to suffer
this isolation. It is things exactly like these lost opportunities which
more and more Zimbabweans into the agonising decision to leave the country.
six years we have been going backwards in nearly every regard and now almost
whole generation of youngsters have gone from home. It is hard to see what
Zimbabwe has to offer that would entice them, or their parents, to come
There is still no place like home but right now Zimbabwe feels like
else, nothing makes sense anymore and the overwhelming feeling is one of
A simple shopping trip to a supermarket has become an exhausting and
event. You cannot take the price of anything for granted as almost
seems to go up every third or fourth day. It doesn't take long to gather up
few things you can afford and then you wait, twenty or thirty minutes to get
the tills. A combination of exorbitant prices and ridiculously small
denomination bank notes makes for very long delays while tellers count great
handfuls of money. As I stood behind ten people, none of who had more than
items to pay for, it was a long twenty minutes to get to the front of the
The woman in front of me had a bag of flour, it cost four hundred thousand
dollars, she was paying in ten thousand dollars notes and that meant forty
for her to count and then forty notes for the teller to count. As I stood
waiting for my turn I looked at the prices of things and it is like being in
cuckoo land. A 500 gram packet of "value" bacon costs more than I paid for
entire house just five years ago ! A single egg now costs twenty five
and a friend told me that he had bought his two thousand acre farm a few
ago for the price of two eggs and half an egg shell! Familiar international
brands of things like toothpaste have disappeared and been replaced by
unknowns. Products once made in Zimbabwe but now imported because companies
relocated, are ludicrously expensive. You see a familiar product, put your
out and then gasp in despair when you realise that just a bottle of shampoo
costs 1.2 million dollars. Five years ago I could have bought a prime luxury
for just over a million dollars.
When you finally get to the till and your goods are rung up, there is a scam
going on but you have to know about it to benefit. If your goods have cost
than three hundred thousand dollars you can buy a bag of sugar - its on the
floor under the tellers feet. People being supported by families outside of
country are still coping with Zimbabwe's nightmare days but the vast
are struggling desperately and everyone is so overwhelmingly tired of it
Until next time, with love cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 18 March 2006
March 18, 2006,
By Elias Wilson
The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council has announced a sharp
increase in examination fees that will result in a an Ordinary Level subject
costing $500 000 this year up from $35 000 last year and $1.2million up from
$95 000 last year for Ordinary and Advanced level respectively.
ZIMSEC Director Hapson Ndanga said in a statement that the increase
has been necessitated by the rising inflation and the shortage of foreign
"The Ministry of Education, Sport sand Culture has finally approved
the increase of examination fees for Ordinary level from $35 00 (2005) to
$500 000 (2006). The fees for Advanced Level have been revised from $95 000
to $1.2 per subject."
Ndanga said the closing date for payment of the fees were 31 March for
those sitting for the June examinations while that of those writing in
November is 4 May. He said ZIMSEC required the fees urgently to begin
purchasing examination material and pay for the printing of the examination
The examination fees came at a time when many parents are struggling
to send their children to schools due to the exorbitant fees charged by
From: Trudy Stevenson
Sent: Saturday, March 18, 2006 8:21 PM
Subject: Public Hearings in Kadoma, Gweru and Bulawayo - Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Local Government and Housing
A delegation from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government
and Housing is due to hold Public Hearings next week as follows:
KADOMA Tuesday 21 March 11 am - 1 pm ?Kadoma Ranch Motel
GWERU Tuesday 21 March 5 - 7pm ?Fairmile Hotel
BULAWAYO Wednesday 22 March 10.30 - 12.30 ?Venue
This is your opportunity to raise your concerns and offer suggestions. Use
it! Any member of the public can attend. Written submissions are
particularly welcome, and can be handed in to the Clerk or submitted to the
Committee at Parliament within 5 days of the Hearing.
Further details can be obtained from the Public Relations Office at
Parliament, tel 700181 or 252936/55.
SW Radio Africa
'Zimbabwe's Independent Voice'
MW 1197 kHz (05h00 - 07h00)
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