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Mtetwa remanded in police custody until April

By Violet Gonda
20 March 2013

Human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has again been denied bail and will
remain in custody until April 3rd. Four MDC-T officials, including Prime
Minister Tsvangirai’s legal advisor Thabani Mpofu, who were arrested at the
same time as Mtetwa, have also been remanded in custody to next month.

Harare provincial magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa dismissed the human
rights lawyer’s bail application on Wednesday even though the High Court had
ordered her release on Monday.

Gofa said Mtetwa would interfere with police investigations if freed on
bail, although one of her lawyers, advocate Thabani Mpofu (same name with
accused MDC official) had offered to surrender title deeds to one of Mtetwa’s
properties. Mpofu said his client was a suitable candidate for bail as she
had not committed an offence and had no criminal record to induce her to
flee. The lawyers will appeal in the High Court for her release.

Mtetwa was arrested while attending to her clients – Mpofu, Felix Matsinde,
Mehluli Tshuma and councillor Warship Dumba , who are being charged with
contravening a section the Official Secrets Act for allegedly receiving or
communicating secret information; and sections of the Criminal Law
Codification and Reform Act for alleged impersonation and for possession of
articles for criminal use.

They are being accused of running an NGO and impersonating police officers
in order to compile corruption and criminal dossiers against government
officials, such as Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Attorney
General Johannes Tomana.

Mtetwa is being accused of obstructing the course of justice by insulting
and shouting at police officers who were raiding her clients’ premises
without a search warrant. But many shocked Zimbabweans took to twitter and
Facebook to register their ‘disgust’ at the latest developments saying ‘only
in Zimbabwe is a person denied bail for insulting police officers’,
especially when a higher court had ordered the lawyer’s release.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said Mtetwa had been ill-treated and
humiliated in police custody on Monday. The group said two male police
officers “entered her detention cell at Rhodesville Police Station in the
dead of the night and attempted to remove some blankets that covered her.”

Mtetwa’s lawyers protested that the police had not allowed Mtetwa to take a
bath while in police custody and also denied her relatives and lawyers
access to her.

Speculation is rife that the feisty lawyer is being punished because of the
work she does defending rights activists, journalists and political
opponents. She has over the years been the chief defence counsel for many
activists and it is suggested that this is part of a grand plan to stall her
efforts. She is known to speak frankly and is not intimidated by the
powerful state machinery when defending her clients, to such an extent that
she is respected by judges and lawyers alike.

Mutare lawyer Tinoziva Bere said he is disappointed by the latest
developments but is not surprised, as similar cases have happened in the
past, as in the case of MDC minister and lawyer Eric Matinenga, who spent
two week in jail in 2008 after the magistrate disobeyed two High Court

He told SW Radio Africa: “This is to punish her beyond any proportion to
whatever wrongs she might have done and they will continue for as long as
they want. They did it with Farai Maguwu. Remember he was kept in jail for
so long and afterwards he was found guilty of nothing. That’s Zimbabwe for

He said the state won’t release her until they are satisfied they have
punished her enough.

These arrests took place a day after the nation voted overwhelmingly for a
new constitution and concerns have been raised about the fact that it does
not matter how good a constitution is, if the people in power decide to
ignore it.

Lawyer Brighton Mutebuka said Mtetwa’s continued incarceration, in defiance
of a High Court order, only serves to emphasise the fact that not enough
reforms have taken place to justify an election.

Bere said a new constitution will not change the failure of institutions of
governments in this country. “It is the change in the institutions of
government which professionalizes them and makes them independent and free
from partisan politics. It is only that which will transform this country.”

“So I am not excited about a new constitution. I am proud that I did not
participate in that sham. I know that it is not just a piece of paper which
will transform Zimbabwe,” Bere added.

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Police motives questioned over targeting of PM aides

By Alex Bell
20 March 2013

Serious questions are being asked about the targeting of a group of aides in
the Prime Minister’s office, who have been remanded in custody for the next
two weeks.

Four people, including three former public prosecutors, Thabani Mpofu, Felix
Matsinde and Mehluli Tshuma, as well as a Harare City councillor Warship
Dumba, were arrested on Sunday and then denied bail on Wednesday. They have
been remanded in custody until April 3rd.

Mpofu, Matsinde and Dumba are all members of staff in the research division
of the Prime Minister’ office. Tshuma is believed to have been assisting the
research team.

The four were arrested on Sunday after a police blitz that included
unwarranted searches of their homes and of the home of a fourth member of
staff in the Prime Minister’s office, Anna Muzvidziwa.

Mpofu’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, was also arrested after asking the police
to produce a search warrant.

The Avondale based communications office of the Prime Minister was also
later searched by police.

The arrested group was held and questioned for several hours at Harare
Central Police station. Anna Muzvidziwa was later released into the custody
of her lawyer and will be called on as a state witness in the case against
her colleagues.

But the five others, including Mtetwa, have remained locked up since Sunday

Mpofu, Matsinde, Tshuma and Dumba have been formally charged for allegedly
impersonating police, possession of articles for criminal use and breaching
the Official Secrets Act. Mtetwa has also been charged for allegedly
‘obstructing the course of justice’.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has insisted that the four individuals
arrested on Sunday are members of his staff, after the police claimed they
were employed by an NGO group called IDA-Zimbabwe. The police spokesperson
Charity Charamba said the Prime Minister’s communications office ‘belonged’
to IDA-Zim.

“To try and bring them into the Prime Minister’s Office is mischief. They
are not civil servants assigned to the Prime Minister’s Office by the Public
Service Commission. Some of them have been suspended by the civil service
and some of them have been fired,” Charamba was quoted as saying by the
state run Herald newspaper.

The Prime Minster then responded, stating: “I notice from some press reports
that our Communications Office in Avondale is now being referred to as the
office of some non-governmental organization. The motive for that is
certainly sinister.”

McDonald Lewanika, the Director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said on
Wednesday that “there is more than meets the eye in this case,” saying the
police’s motives for targeting the four accused was ‘suspicious’.

There are suggestions that the police are after Mpofu and his three
co-accused because they were compiling a dossier that would reveal massive
corruption by some senior government officials.

Lewanika told SW Radio Africa that the case against the four “is not about
them doing anything wrong, but may be about them being in possession of
information that incriminates senior members of the police force and the

“ZANU PF and those who support them and the repressive arms of the state
have seen the kind of impact that the release of this information has. So
they are trying to clamp down on this. And that is why the four are being
targeted,” Lewanika said.

He meanwhile said that the police’s claims that an NGO is funding the
research arm of the prime Minister’s office was an attempt to side-track
observers from the real case.

“If indeed they worked for IDA-Zim, what is the issue? Working for the PM or
an NGO is not a crime. Doing research is not a crime. The police need to
explain their motives for this,” Lewanika said.

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Beatrice Mtetwa's arrest shows all is not well in Zim

20 MAR 2013 00:00 - NICOLE FRITZ

Beatrice Mtetwa is paying the price of resisting authoritarianism - she is
spending her third night detained in a Harare police cell.

"You know this has to be done, somebody has to do it, and why shouldn’t it
be you?” That is Zimbabwe’s most prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice
Mtetwa’s matter-of-fact explanation for why she does the work she does.

Some might say that doing the same thing over and over – as Mtetwa does in
providing legal defence in virtually every high-profile, politically
motivated case in Zimbabwe – and expecting different results is the
definition of insanity. In the context of Zimbabwe, it is the price required
to resist authoritarianism.

At present, Mtetwa spent her third night detained in a Harare police cell,
ostensibly for “obstructing the course of justice”.

In fact, she sought to provide assistance to a client, Thabani Mpofu, a top
official in the prime minister’s office when his home was raided on Sunday
morning, demanding of the police that they produce a search warrant.

As Mtetwa explained: “The view I take is that [the police] have been
obstructing me in my duties as a lawyer. I have a client whose rights have
been violated, and I am unable to help him because I am now an accused

More revealing than the arrest itself were the developments that followed.
Throughout Sunday police indicated to Mtetwa’s lawyers that she would be
released. Only late in the day, when it seemed unlikely that her lawyers
could secure an urgent court hearing, were they informed that police
intended to pursue the charges.

As it happened, her lawyers – Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights – were able
to file an urgent application seeking her release. The order was granted by
the high court just before midnight.

Her lawyers then attempted to serve the order on the various responsible
parties but were deliberately frustrated as police transferred Mtetwa from
one police station to another in order to avoid compliance.

As of Tuesday morning, having spent two nights in police detention, Mtetwa
remains in custody.

There are several aspects to note about the pedestrian illegality with which
the Zimbabwean police conducted themselves: firstly, this was not a raid
specifically directed at Mtetwa.

She was collateral damage – caught up in action directed at officials from
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s office. There is no comfort to be drawn
from this fact. Were Mtetwa to have been a direct target, deemed a
sought-after antagonist, the police’s shameless flouting of the law might be
more explicable. That the illegality regarding Mtetwa was opportunistic only
points to how widespread and endemic the impunity enjoyed by police and the
security sector is.

Secondly, Mtetwa’s arrest comes on the heels of a referendum to endorse a
new constitution that, whatever its other limitations, contains strong
protection of the rights of those arrested and detained. Constitutions are
works-in-progress, to be given vigour and dimension by those who seek to
uphold and extend their protections. Mtetwa might have been relied upon to
breathe life into the new constitution. But without a clear and unambiguous
departure from a past characterised by harassment and intimidation of human
rights defenders and by impunity for Zimbabwe’s police and security sector,
the promise of the new constitution will be laid to waste – its protections
made impossible to realise.

Finally, Mtetwa’s treatment will not be unfamiliar to her. She knows well
the modus operandi of the police. Mtetwa has described the experience of
circling police stations on foot, calling out for her clients because police
routinely denied holding them in order to deny them legal access. Only last
week Mtetwa accompanied Jestina Mukoko of Zimbabwe’s Peace Project to Harare
Central after police announced they were staging a hunt for Mukoko on the
specious grounds of her running an “unregistered organisation”. In 2008
Mukoko was abducted by state security agents, tortured and detained for
several months. Mtetwa has herself been brutally beaten by police on two

With Mtetwa in police detention, her court ordered release flagrantly
ignored, it is hard to imagine that anyone can credibly contend that, as
matters stand, there exist realistic prospects for free and fair elections
later this year. But if concerned observers outside Zimbabwe can afford such
enervating fatalism, it is not an option available to those inside Zimbabwe.

As Precious Chakasikwa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights remarked: “For
every Beatrice Mtetwa that these state agents and institutions put behind
bars and attempt to embarrass, humiliate and punish without lawful cause,
there are 10 other human rights lawyers waiting to take up the mantle.” As
they must, if there is ever to be a different outcome.

Nicole Fritz is the director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

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New constitution may come into effect end of April

By Tichaona Sibanda
20 March 2013

The new constitution that was voted for overwhelmingly in a referendum on
Saturday will only come into force on its promulgation by President Robert
Mugabe, a top MDC-T official said on Wednesday.

Douglas Mwonzora, who as COPAC co-chairman was part of a committee that
oversaw the drafting of the new charter, said it will come into effect when
all the legal formalities are done.

‘The Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Eric Matinenga, is
to gazette the Bill on the 28th of this month. This will give Zimbabweans a
month to satisfy themselves that the document they voted for is the same
that will be presented to Parliament.

‘When it is tabled before Parliament we don’t expect much debate because the
people who are represented by their parliamentarians have already endorsed
the document,’ said Mwonzora.

The Nyanga North MP told SW Radio Africa that he can only speculate when the
country’s new constitution will become law, and that it could be the end of

Mwonzora said as COPAC they welcomed the adoption of the new constitution,
saying it was going to be a victory for Zimbabwe and for the many people who
fought long and hard for a new constitutional dispensation.

Final results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on Tuesday
showed that nearly 95 percent of voters approved the constitution, compared
with 5.5 percent who voted No, and the total votes cast turned out to be the
highest in any poll since Independence in 1980, beating the previous record
set in the 2002 presidential election.

Mwonzora explained that when the constitution does become law it will take
effect in stages, but certain parts of the charter, such as the Bill of
Rights, devolution, and chapters on elections, will take effect immediately
and supersede the existing provisions that may be in conflict with them.

‘This means that citizens shall be able to enjoy the entitlements within the
Bill of Rights as soon as it takes effect. Where Parliament will be required
to enact some laws to effect some changes as stated in the proposed
constitution, the current constitution shall apply,’

He emphasized that the forthcoming general election will be held under the
regulations of the new constitution.

It is expected the principals might decide on a date for elections as early
as next week, during their Monday meeting. However sources tell us that the
principals could choose between two dates, June 29th and July 27th. Both
dates fall on a Saturday.

Mwonzora said the most important thing was not a question of a date for
election but the conditions they will be held under.

‘The most important question is the quality of those elections, the
conditions under which they are going to be held. In our view as the MDC, we
insist on elections held in free and fair environment under conditions that
guarantee free expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe,’ said

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'Team of Rivals': Uneasy Zimbabwe Coalition Government Nearing End Ahead Of Summer Elections

By  | March 20 2013 1:51 PM

The contentious power-sharing arrangement between Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is set to end with elections expected as early as July.

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NCA rejects referendum results

By Nomalanga Moyo
20 March 2013

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) on Wednesday rejected the results
of Saturday’s referendum saying the ‘yes vote’ did not mean that Zimbabweans
were endorsing the new constitution.

In a statement, the group said it did not believe that by voting ‘yes’
Zimbabweans were accepting the draft constitution.

Part of the statement said: “We reject in toto the notion that Zimbabweans
have spoken and have accepted the Draft Constitution. We hold that the “Yes”
vote is illegitimate. The referendum result is therefore illegitimate and
not acceptable to us.”

The NCA argued that: “95% of those who voted yes neither saw nor read the
draft constitution, 95% of the “Yes” voters knew nothing about the contents
of the Draft Constitution. The yes voters, by their own admission, said they
were voting yes because they were following orders from political leaders to
do so.”

The group also argues that those who voted yes were misled by politicians as
such, “the draft constitution will remain undemocratic and unacceptable when
it becomes the constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Speaking at a press conference before issuing the statement, the group’s
chairperson Lovemore Madhuku, mentioned the limited publicity material and
resources available for the referendum, and what he described as hate speech
by the Prime Minister, as some of the reasons why the process was
undemocratic and not credible.

Zimbabwe’s constitution-making process was led by the three political
parties in the coalition government, will all the parties encouraging their
supporters to vote in favour of the draft.

The NCA said this deprived the people of Zimbabwe from making an informed
and independent decision on the process, and simply ensured that people did
what they were told to do.

The group said coverage of the referendum campaign was one-sided, with the
‘No’ campaigners being denied access to the public media, a situation which
meant voters were blocked from hearing both sides of the argument.

“Where voters are prevented by self-serving politicians from accessing
alternative views, a “Yes” is invalid”, the statement further states.

The group revealed that it will now be concentrating on its crusade for a
new, democratic and people-driven constitution by intensifying “its efforts
for a rejection of the so-called new Constitution just as it has campaigned
for the rejection of the Lancaster House Constitution.”

The NCA press conference was also attended by MDC 99 president Job Sikhala,
Munyaradzi Gwisai of the International Socialist Organisation, as well as
Raymond Majongwe, who were part of the ‘No’ campaign.

Sikhala thanked the 179,000 Zimbabweans who rejected the draft constitution
despite the lack of resources for the ‘No’ campaigners, while Gwisai said
the process revealed “an unprecedented unity of the ruling class” rather
than a free and fair referendum.

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Referendum observers barred from counting centres

By Alex Bell
20 March 2013

An election watchdog group in Zimbabwe has raised concern that observers
during the weekend referendum were barred from at least one counting centre,
and were blocked from knowing the results.

The Election Resource Centre (ERC), which had a team of accredited observers
dispatched across the country, said in a report this week that all observers
were told to vacate the counting centre in the Glen View South Constituency
as soon as the results of the voting in that area were received.

The observers are understood to have been told they were not at liberty to
disclose or display the results, because they were being channelled to the
national command centre. The ERC quoted an official at the Glen View South
command centre as stating that he had the “exclusive discretion to make (the
results) public or not.”

“Such utterances are clearly contrary to the provisions of electoral
legislation and regulations,” the ERC said, adding it was “grossly
 concerned” with these reports.

The ERC also raised concern that at some polling stations in Nyami Nyami,
and Mount Pleasant, the voting results were not being displayed but were
instead being channelled directly to the counting centres.

The ERC said this conduct flies in the face of legal regulations stipulating
the management of a referendum scenario. These rules say that the results of
a local vote count need to be made public at the polling stations. Zimbabwe’s
electoral laws also allow for accredited observers and journalists, as well
as counting officials and police, to be present during the collation

“The ERC therefore calls upon election administrators to exercise
consistency in the observance of electoral regulations, which inevitably
would limit suspicions of manipulation of the electoral outcomes,” the ERC

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EU to decide on sanctions next week

By Fungai Kwaramba, Staff Writer
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 10:01

HARARE - Senior members in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF are likely to
be removed from the European Union (EU) sanctions list this week after the
27-member bloc endorsed the referendum which it was using to gauge democracy
in the country.

Last June, the EU promised to review travel bans and financial embargoes on
Mugabe and his inner cabal if the country holds a free and credible

Although Zimbabwe blocked the EU from observing the referendum, the grouping
of Western countries says  the Sadc assessment of the referendum process
that took place on Saturday was satisfactory and could see more of Mugabe’ s
loyalists removed from the travel bans.

EU ambassador Aldo Dell’ Ariccia who managed to observe the referendum along
with four other embassy staff, said the bloc will decide on rewarding Mugabe
this week.

“We need an agreement of all parties in the European Union, discussions will
be carried and we expect results end of this week,” said Ariccia.

“The referendum — if we consider the Sadc observer team — was a very
successful and democratic exercise.”

Rugare Gumbo, Zanu PF spokesperson yesterday said Zimbabwe does not depend
on the goodwill of the EU.

“We don’t have to depend on the EU for anything. We have said it before that
they should lift sanctions unconditionally,” said Gumbo.

Last month the EU lifted an asset freeze and travel ban on 21 Zimbabweans
including six ministers from Mugabe’s Zanu PF out of 112 currently on an EU
blacklist after Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to a
draft constitution.

While there were isolated incidents of violence particularly in the volatile
Mbare Constituency — the referendum that was held on Saturday last week was
largely peaceful and received endorsement from the Sadc observer team —
which has the highest number of monitors.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission run by Supreme Court judge Rita Makarau
acted “professionally” to the delight of monitors including the EU.

“The referendum was professionally carried out and we think that Sadc
statement responds to the event. The only problem was the presence of the
police in polling stations but all in all it was a good exercise,” said

“The EU has made it clear that a peaceful referendum would justify an
immediate suspension of the sanctions,” Ariccia said.

In 2002 the EU imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe and his inner cabal
allegedly because of human rights abuses by the then Zanu PF regime.

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Regional Leaders To Discuss Zimbabwe

Blessing  Zulu

WASHINGTON — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika on
Politics and Defense is expected to meet soon to discuss the referendum and
a request by Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for an
extraordinary summit ahead of elections later this year.

Mr. Tsvangirai met with the SADC observer mission in the country for an hour
on Friday and urged the regional body to convene a full SADC summit to focus
on Zimbabwe and "help to cement a roadmap to free, fair and credible

The Prime Minister cited the need for security sector and media reforms.

He also expressed concern at the resurgence of violence and the apparent
police crackdown on human rights organizations and Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party supporters. The SADC team also met with President Robert
Mugabe to discuss the overall political situation.

SADC executive Secretary Tomaz Salomao told VOA  Studio 7 that the troika of
the organ on politics, defence and security cooperation will consider Mr
Tsvangirai’s request for a summit.

Would a SADC summit put pressure on Zanu-PF to ease up on the opposition?
Human rights lawyer Jeremiah Bamu has his doubts, saying SADC monitors are
in Zimbabwe now, yet the police crackdown continues.

SADC facilitated negotiations for the setting up of the coalition government
in Zimbabwe  after violent and inconclusive elections in 2008.

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa  has been helping the three parties in
government to negotiate a so-called roadmap to new elections.

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Mugabe invites pope to Africa to pray 'for the sinful world to repent'

Sapa-AP | 20 March, 2013 14:25

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says he wants Pope Francis to visit
Africa because he is "a man of God who will be praying for all of us,
praying for the sinful world to repent."

Mugabe attended the Pope's inaugural mass on Tuesday despite a ban on him
travelling to most European countries to protest his human rights record and
alleged vote rigging in violent elections.

Vatican City is not affected by the ban. Vatican officials said
representatives of all world governments were welcome to come.

On his return from Rome, Mugabe urged reporters to go to church, lead a
morally-guided life, avoid heavy drinking and write well without putting in
"a twist like all journalists do for propaganda," the Zimbabwe Herald
newspaper, a government mouthpiece, reported Wednesday.

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Mugabe embarasses the Vatican just by turning up in Rome

Araminta Wordsworth | 13/03/20 | Last Updated: 13/03/19 8:31 PM

Unwanted guests: Robert Mugabe and wife Grace
AP /Andrew MedichiniUnwanted guests: Robert Mugabe and wife Grace

Full Comment’s Araminta Wordsworth brings you a daily round-up of top-quality punditry from around the globe. Today: Robert Mugabe is one of the Vatican’s perennial embarrassments.

Like an alcoholic uncle who insists on showing up at family gatherings, the bloodsoaked Zimbabwean tyrant and practising Roman Catholic pops up at important papal events. He attended John Paul II’s funeral in 2005 and beatification in 2011.

Mugabe was at it again this week, checking in for Pope Francis’s inauguration, despite being banned from travel to European Union nations. Tuesday he was photographed shaking hands with the new pope. To add insult to injury, Mugabe was allegedly schooled by Jesuits, the order to which Francis belongs.

The trip will also enable Mugabe’s wife Grace to satisfy her taste for luxury goods — her shopping opportunities have been somewhat limited by the travel ban.

Said an obviously unhappy Vatican spokesman: “The Holy See informs everyone that this event is taking place. There are no invitations. There are no privileges and no one is refused. While one country may have problems with someone else, we invite no one. This must be made clear.”

As CNN’s Hada Messia and Joe Sterling report,

The presence of a man widely regarded as a brutal dictator, juxtaposed with a pope who preaches peace, has raised eyebrows.
Vincent Nichols, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster, who attended the 2011 ceremony, said, according to the Daily Mail, that Mugabe’s record on human rights was deplorable and “it felt uncomfortable to be in his presence.”

Back in Mugabe’s unfortunate country, it’s business as usual: Police repression, subversion of democracy, unlawful detention and intimidation of opponents from Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. This came as Zimbabweans voted on a draft constitution, which would set presidential terms. They will now be limited to two of five years each.

Turnout was understandably low — only about one-third of registered voters — as the change won’t enable them to get rid of Mugabe. The 89-year-old, who has ruled since independence more than three decades ago, obviously plans on quitting only when he’s being carried out, feet first.
That way he won’t have to cope with the mess he has created. In addition, as 
Petinna Gappah noted in The Guardian,

There are certainly some troubling compromises in the constitution. During its first 10 years, if a president died or resigned from office, the party of that president would choose the new president, meaning that Zimbabwe could well end up with a president that no one had voted for. A strengthened constitutional court is weakened by a provision that in the first 10 years it is to be composed of the current judges of the discredited supreme court. On the charged issue of land ownership, the constitution falls far short of international norms of non-discrimination. Compensation for expropriated land will depend on whether land belonged to someone “indigenous” – a not particularly subtle code for black.

Nehanda Radio’s Somerset Masikati sees little hope for change as long as Mugabe hangs on to power.

The root cause of Zimbabwe’s ills is a fundamental lack of intolerance for different political views. The origin of this frame of mind is the Liberation Struggle. There can be no doubt that those who gallantly participated in it, including President Mugabe are men of steel and needed to be endowed with a strident, obdurate and unwavering sense of mission to see it through.
Unfortunately however, such traits, though admirable and tailor made for that task at hand, are exactly what is not needed in building a truly democratic country. Thus, since April 1980 President Mugabe has set about building a state that uses and thrives on violence and coercion as a tool of subjugating not only his opponents but his supporters as well through the use of state and party structures.

Claus Stäcker at DeutscheWelle fears for the future. The  general elections, due to be held in July, will see MDC voters beaten and intimidated — as usual, he says.

The new constitution does not herald the start of a brighter, democratic future. It also does not significantly curb Mugabe’s power.
The 89-year ruler has not changed. The last voters had hardly left the polling stations when he sent out his secret police to intimidate his nearest rivals under the flimsiest of pretexts.
Security forces raided the office of his unwilling partner in government Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Five persons close to Tsvangirai were arrested, including Tsvangirai’s top advisor and a prominent lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa …
Zimbabweans fear elections because for more than a decade they have always been associated with violence and oppression. The state in Zimbabwe has always been synonymous with Robert Mugabe. The next step in his plan to stay in power will be to resort to the use of force, despite protestations to the contrary.

compiled by Araminta Wordsworth


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Zim PM ally charged with attempted murder

2013-03-20 20:47

Harare - An official from Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party
appeared in court on Wednesday on charges of attempted murder and malicious
damage to property, his lawyer said.

Samson Magumura, a member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC, is
accused of firebombing the home of an official from President Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

"He is denying both charges," lawyer Charles Chigadza told AFP. "In fact he
was nowhere near the place where this incident is said to have taken place."

Magumura was taken from his home in an unmarked police vehicle on Saturday
as Zimbabweans went to vote in a referendum to adopt a new constitution.

The alleged attack came weeks after a 12-year-old son of a regional MDC
official died in a fire.

MDC supporters said the blaze was caused by a firebomb thrown by activists
from Zanu-PF but police ruled out foul play.

Past elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by violence including killings,
assault and intimidation.


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Magistrate faces stock theft charge

20/03/2013 00:00:00
     by Richard Muponde I NewsDay

NKAYI provincial magistrate Thabekhulu Dube on Monday appeared in court in
Bulawayo on allegations of stealing a beast from a Nkayi villager seven
years ago.

Dube, who resides at the Justice Ministry quarters in Nkayi but is currently
attending a local university, was not asked to plead to a charge of
stocktheft when he appeared before Bulawayo senior regional magistrate Owen

He was remanded out of custody on free bail to April 16 for trial.

Dube’s trial was supposed to start on Monday, but he applied for a

Blessings Kundhlande, prosecutor in charge of regional courts, said the
prosecutor in the case, Admire Chikwayi, had indicated Dube would be writing
examinations this week hence the postponement.

Chikwayi told the court that sometime in July 2005, the complainant, whose
name was not given in court or in court papers, lost his ox from the grazing
area in Nkayi.

He made a report to the police and the matter was investigated under
reference crime register 115/07/05. However, when the investigations were
still underway, on March 28, at Badala Business Centre in Inyathi, the man
saw Dube’s truck parked at the centre carrying some cattle to Bulawayo.

The complainant identified his ox in the vehicle. He approached Dube and
told him that one of the beasts belonged to him.

The complainant suggested to Dube that they go to Inyathi Police Station to
verify his claims.
But Dube allegedly refused and ordered his truck driver to drive to Bulawayo
where the cattle were sold. The cattle, including the complainant’s ox, were
sold to Colcom and the skin of the ox was sold to a tannery firm in

If convicted, Dube faces a mandatory minimum sentence of nine years in

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Heavy rains pound Harare

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 09:38
HARARE - Heavy rains and strong winds caused havoc in Zimbabwe’s capital
Harare and surrounding areas yesterday bringing down electric pylons and
trees, creating an unprecedented traffic jam.

The afternoon hailstorm followed a particularly hot day and clogged the
central business district whose drainage is in a state of disrepair,
consequently causing flash floods.

The Meteorological department could not immediately comment saying they
would only give a statement in due course after carrying out research.

Yesterday’s torrential rains uprooted trees and flooded some houses.

The torrential rainfall reduced visibility, making it hard for motorists to
drive, with some forced to park their vehicles and wait until the rains

Apart from limited visibility, gusty winds also caused blackouts in some
areas as the 30-minute downpour pounded the streets, sending people
scurrying for cover in sheds.

Sensing a crisis and eager to cash in, commuter omnibus operators also
increased their fares.

For instance, fares for a trip to Chitungwiza from Harare went up from $1 to
$1,50 while those who live in the vicinity of the capital saw fares doubled
from $0,50 to a dollar.

For some motorists, the rains were a disaster, as traffic blocked roads
following the torrent.

Changing rainfall patterns, which have made it difficult to predict
flooding, have had adverse effects on Zimbabwe.

Not only has this season’s rains affected more than 6 000 families who have
lost their properties and in some cases livelihoods, but also 30 people have
been killed since January, according to the Civil Protection Unit (CPU).

CPU, a government body tasked with disaster management and response, says
the recent floods have left thousands of livestock dead, while swollen
rivers have swept away bridges and claimed lives.

Low lying areas such as Muzarabani have been hit hardest by the unusual
rains prompting government to airlift some families to safety.

The rains have also damaged roads and swept away bridges.

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Retailers Increase Sugar, Meat Prices

Gibbs Dube

WASHINGTON — Prices of some basic commodities such as meat, mealie-meal and
sugar have gone up by $1 following an increase of excise duty on fuel
announced by the government last week.

Residents of Harare, Gweru, Bulawayo and Lupane Business Centre told VOA
Studio 7 that the price of a 2 kilogram bag of roller meal has gone up from
$6 to $7.

They say ration meat prices also went up Saturday from $4 to $6 a kilogram.

Lupane villager Kennie Mpofu said retailers are attributing the price
increases to petrol prices which went from $1.50 to $1.59 cents a litre in
some parts of the country.

“These shocking increases have driven away shoppers who can’t manage to buy
what they want,” said Mpofu.

Director Rosemary Siyachitema of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said the
price increases will affect poor Zimbabweans currently living below the
breadline of about $590 per month for an urban family of six.

“We always expect prices of basic commodities to go up whenever there are
fuel price hikes,” said Siyachitema.

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Mujuru orders Chisumbanje ethanol plant to re-open

20/03/2013 00:00:00
     by Staff Reporter

ACTING President Joice Mujuru has made an extraordinary intervention to save
Chisumbanje fuel blender, Green Fuel, which has laid off 4,500 workers.

Mujuru, during a visit to Chisumbanje on Tuesday, ordered the plant to
re-open by Monday while the government re-aligns the fuel blending policy.

“The people are troubled because their hopes of a better livelihood have
been extinguished by the closure of the ethanol plant,” Mujuru said. “There
is no justification for closure, so this plant must be opened by next week
on Monday.

“I will personally engage President Mugabe on his return [from the Vatican]
and impress upon him the promptness with which operations must resume.”

Green Fuel closed down its plant in February 2012 after stocking up the
maximum 10 million litres of ethanol that its storage facilities will allow.

The company, owned by millionaire tycoon, Billy Rautenbach, set up the
US$600 million ethanol plant after the Zanu PF government agreed to
re-introduce mandatory blending of petrol and ethanol.

But Mujuru said Zanu PF faced opposition from the MDC-T after the formation
of a unity government in 2009. The MDC-T, through the new Energy Minister
Elton Mangoma, argued that government policy should not be made to fit a
single company.

The MDC-T has thawed somewhat since, and Mangoma last year gazetted
regulations making it mandatory for all licensed oil companies to sell
petrol blended with locally-produced ethanol.

But Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara threw a spanner in the works by
telling Parliament that blending was conditional and it would be done only
after changing the ownership structure of Green Fuel from a
build-operate-transfer arrangement to a joint venture with the government.

Green Fuel is contesting the government’s attempt to elbow in as a partner.
Mujuru said: “When Billy approached us, we said: ‘Thank you.’ But is what’s
happening the best way to treat an investor? No, No, No! Some of the demands
being made [by ministers] are outrageous.

“By closing the project, we are deliberately inflicting suffering on the
people whose benefit from this project is our responsibility. We are guilty
of omission. We must separate developmental issues from politics. Consider
the ethanol plant opened.”

Mujuru had earlier heard from the local traditional leader Chief Garahwa who
pleaded for the government to intervene.
The closure of the ethanol plant had devastated his community, he said. Some
irrigation-powered sugar cane out-grower schemes covering 13,000 hectares
supported through the project had been affected.

“Do not turn your back on us. Don’t forget us when you go back [to Harare].
Please ensure operations resume while the technicalities are worked out. My
people have suffered,” the chief pleaded.

He told Mujuru he hoped she had “not come here to raise our hopes and do
nothing”, adding: “Should that be the case, you would have failed as a

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Mugabe’s multi-million rand sanctuary almost complete

Mugabe’s mansion

By Nomalanga Moyo
20 March 2013

President Robert Mugabe’s plush R200 million mansion is nearly complete and ready for occupation, reports from South Africa suggest.

Located on the coast of Ballito, next to the Zimbali golfing estate, the property is described as ‘set for royalty’, boasting two man-made lakes, ‘lush vegetation’, ‘extensive parking areas’ and unique Indonesian Balinese architecture.

Security-wise, the property is reportedly a heavily guarded fortress with bulletproof windows and an underground bunker, leading to speculation that it is actually meant to be sanctuary for Mugabe when he leaves office.

The man behind this controversial development is Robert Mhlanga, a retired Air Vice-Marshall and a close friend of Mugabe who is heavily implicated in Zimbabwe’s murky diamond industry.

Mhlanga has been embroiled in battle with South Africa’s KwaDukuza Municipality, over building approvals for his development, as reported by SW Radio Africa in July last year.

Last year, the municipality obtained an order from the Durban High Court “stopping construction and occupation of the mansion”, citing potential impact on neighbouring properties and the environment.

In response, Mhlanga argued that he had not sought to flout building regulations, had taken expert advice, and that one of the two properties on which the development was located was agricultural land, for which no building plans were required, while the other had been rezoned.

Mhlanga’s lawyer, Lazelle Paolo, confirmed to South Africa’s IndependentOnline Friday that the building plans had not yet been approved.

The paper also reports that KwaDukuza council has indicated that although the issue over the building plans was still unresolved, the court had ruled that the construction work could continue.

Mhlanga is not just a property developer. International human rights group Global Witness Mhlanga revealed that he is a key player in the murky diamond mining in Marange. The group revealed that 25% of the Mbada mining firm was given to a company linked to Mhlanga, a Mugabe appointee.

The company is said to have ‘silent’ Chinese military partners. In 2010 the UK Daily Mail alleged that Mbada was the public face of a diamonds for arms deal between Zimbabwe and China, with China in effect funding Mugabe’s war chest.

While the completion of Mugabe’s sprawling property will be good news to the First Family and his corrupt associates, most Zimbabweans remain locked out of the country’s vast mineral resources and will be shocked by such opulence and waste.

In February, Finance Minister Tendai Biti was heavily sanctioned for revealing that the country was on the very of bankruptcy. Biti has in the past expressed disappointment that Zimbabwe’s multi billion diamond sector has not yielded much, with very little trickling into treasury coffers.

Political commentator Clifford Mashiri said despite the denials of ownership of the property by Mugabe who has always wanted to project himself as pro-poor, his vast property portfolio, which extends beyond Zimbabwe, suggests that this is just political rhetoric.

Mashiri said that the security features on the South African development alone would suggest that Mhlanga is just fronting for Mugabe.

He said: “Mugabe has properties in Zimbabwe and as far as Hong Kong. It’s simply a political strategy he uses to win votes.

“This is not a home for an ordinary Zimbabwean, but one who is very afraid and has a lot of resources at his disposal,” Mashiri added.

Zimbabwe sits on what is thought to be the one of the world’s largest diamond reserves and has the second largest platinum reserves of platinum, among other resources. Despite all these, the country continues to scrounge for money, even failing to fund its own elections.

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Jailed Beatrice Mtetwa ‘speaks out from prison’

By Kevin Kriedemann

Published: March 20, 2013

Jailed Zimbabwean human rights lawyer speaks out on South 2 North‏

This Friday on South 2 North, Al Jazeera’s new global talk show broadcast from Johannesburg, Redi Tlhabi discusses the worldwide plight of refugees with activists from Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Myanmar.

This week’s guests include Rwandan human rights lawyer Kennedy Gihana and Myanmar human rights activist Maung Tun Khin, who is on a worldwide tour to raise awareness about human rights abuses in the country also known as Burma. The third guest is Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtwetwa, who was arrested by Zimbabwean police just days after recording the show in Johannesburg.

Beatrice has been called “the bravest lawyer in Africa” for her work over two decades defending the many activists, opposition candidates and farmers jailed by Robert Mugabe’s government.

She was arrested on Sunday, 17 March 2013, for “obstructing the course of justice” while attempting to come to the aid of her clients – MDC-T officials Thabani Mpofu, Felix Matsinde, Anna Muzvidziwa and Worship Dumba. Despite an order for her release from the High Court of Zimbabwe, her lawyers have been unable to secure her release, as she’s been moved from one police station to another.

Before her arrest, Beatrice visited South 2 North’s Johannesburg studio to discuss July’s upcoming Zimbabwean elections; the way that human rights abuses have led to a flood of refugees into countries like South Africa; and the South African National Prosecuting Authority and Police Services’ decision to open an investigation into the widespread rape perpetrated in the lead up to Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections.

In this week’s episode, Redi also speaks to Kennedy Gihana, whose entire extended family of 20 – except for one brother – was murdered during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, which saw over 800 000 Rwandan murdered in 100 days.

Alone and desperate, Kennedy left Kigali and walked 3000 kilometres in six months to finally reach South Africa. After briefly living on the streets of Johannesburg, he has established himself as a successful human rights lawyer.

His remarkable story has been told in the book Rat Roads, written by Jacques Pauw.

Redi’s third guest is Myanmar human rights activist Maung Tun Khin, who is currently exiled in England, where he is president of the Burma Rohingywa Organisation.

Myanmar is Asia’s newest democracy, after 2012 elections saw the end of a military dictatorship and a return to world favour.

But like other Rohingywas, Tun Khin has been denied citizenship within Myanmar, where the Muslim minority is being herded into camps where they face a triple threat from violence, starvation and disease. Stories of mass torture suggest a hidden genocide is underway.

With tensions between the Rohingyas and the majority Buddhist Rakhines leading to open bloodshed in June last year, Tun Khin has been lobbying to raise awareness about the crisis, taking his cause to the US Congress, the US Senate, the US State Department, the British parliament, the European parliament, the European Human Rights Council, The European Human Rights Commission, and the UN Human Rights Council.

“Imagine being declared stateless and not able to return to your country of birth because of your tribe, ethnicity, skin colour or religion?” says Redi. “Now imagine being on a boat for 25 days and slowly starving to death. That was the fate last month of around a hundred refugees from Myanmar, but – despite this tragedy and many others – the exodus of refugees continues.

The UN estimates about 13 000 Rohingya fled western Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2012, and an estimated 500 refugees have already died at sea, with more expected. The United Nations says the long-running conflict between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority population is a humanitarian tragedy in the making. In Rwanda in 1994, the world ignored the warning signs that could have prevented a genocide. Are we about to see the same thing happen here?”

Watch Redi ask the tough questions on this week’s episode of South 2 North, premiering at 19:30 GMT on Friday, 22 March 2013 and also screening Saturday at 14h30, Sunday 04h30 and Monday 08h30.

For more information, visit, where all episodes are available to watch online.

You can also tweet your questions, comments and opinions to @AJSouth2North or find South 2 North on Facebook:

Catch up on last week’s episode, where Redi asked who polices the police, at


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Zimbabwe: Prominent human rights lawyer must be released immediately

Posted: 20 March 2013

Prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa must be immediately and
unconditionally released, Amnesty International said after she was denied
bail in a court appearance today.

Mtetwa was arrested on Sunday, the day after a constitutional referendum was
held in the country, when she responded to a client whose home was being
searched by police in Harare. She remained in custody despite a High Court
order for her immediate release being issued at around 1am on Monday

Amnesty International’s southern Africa director Noel Kututwa said:

“Beatrice Mtetwa is the unfortunate victim of arbitrary arrest and unlawful
detention and must be released immediately.

“It’s staggering that while Zimbabwe is in the process of adopting a new
constitution which provides a stronger bill of human rights, lawyers, in the
course of their lawful duty, are being so blatantly harassed and

“Beatrice Mtetwa’s arrest and detention is an attack on the legal profession
in Zimbabwe and in particular on lawyers who have fearlessly defended human
rights defenders and political activists.

“The Zimbabwean authorities must ensure that lawyers are able to perform all
of their professional duties without intimidation, hindrance, harassment and
improper interference.”

Beatrice Mtetwa had responded to the call of a client, Thabani Mpofu, a
staff member in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office, on Sunday morning
notifying her of a police search of his home. When she arrived at the
premises, police were already conducting the search.

She asked to be shown the search warrant and when police failed to produce
it, Mtetwa told police that what they were doing was "unlawful,
unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic".  Police arbitrarily arrested
her accusing her of shouting and "obstructing the course of justice". Ms
Mtetwa was handcuffed and detained in a police vehicle.

Following her arrest, Beatrice Mtetwa's lawyers obtained a High Court order
for her immediate release on the grounds that the arrest was unlawful.
Police did not comply with the order and she remained in police custody.
During the night, two male police officers entered her cell and attempted to
remove her blankets.

On Tuesday Beatrice Mtetwa was brought to the Magistrate’s Court in Harare,
where she applied for bail. At the hearing Ms Mtetwa's lawyers reported that
she was ill-treated while in custody.  She was denied access to her family
and was denied a bath.

The hearing concluded today and bail was denied, meaning Beatrice Mtetwa has
been remanded in custody until 3 April.

Amnesty International has observed an increase in attacks on the rights of
freedom of expression, association and assembly in the run up to the
referendum  which took place last Saturday, and ahead of Zimbabwe’s 2013
general elections, likely to take place in July.

To call for the elections to be free from violence go to

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A fascist display by the police

SIMON MOYO   MAR 20, 2013

A family of six sits huddled around a shortwave radio listening to Studio 7
news while a teenage boys keeps sentry—on the lookout for police who have
banned seemingly innocent gadgets.

This scene in Murewa some 100 km from Harare, is reflected in most rural
areas at night whose source of news are the illegal radio stations such as
Radio VOP, SWRadio or the popular Studio 7 after government banned radios.

Again in typical Apartheid style, Zimbabwe is seeing a replay of the dark
days when free expression was banned.

Women who live in rural areas far from the mainstream media are the likely
victims of the ban on radios, just as are women like Jestina Mukoko, the
director of Zimbabwe Peace Project  (ZPP) who has yet again faced the wrath
of the police as she suffered five years ago.

It is an open secret that people prefer listening to the extra-terrestrial
radio stations such as Studio 7 that are  devoid of the hate speech that
comes from ZBC.  The police  raids on NGOs are missing their target—the
state media.

Such fascism has no place in modern society and Mugabe should feel
embarrassed by his archaic actions which smacks right in the face of

Mugabe beware, these people want to drag your name back into the mud, a name
you have tried to clean up of late by preaching and embracing peace.

NGO’s are mere messengers and the police should not be so naive as to shoot
the postman who delivers a sky high utility bill.

It really boggles the mind that officers who claim to be well trained show
such stupefying ignorance by targeting the wrong persons.

This onslaught on shortwave radios is not targeted on NGOs but Zimbabweans
across the country that have a right to listen to Studio 7, Zbc or anything
that they so wish.

Instead of being a professional force, police continue to be the willing
appendage of Zanu PF and that in itself is a throwback to the days when the
likes of Ian Smith ruled this otherwise beautiful country.

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NCA Press Statement on the Referendum

Presented by NCA Chairperson Professor Lovemore Madhuku at Bumbiro/Isisekelo
House today, 20 MARCH, 2013

1. The conduct of the referendum was neither credible nor satisfactory. This
arises from the following facts, among others:
• The notice period given was inadequate and displayed lack of respect for
the people. It was extreme arrogance for the President to admit this fact on
the day he was casting his vote when he had deployed all state resources to
resist attempts by some citizens to delay the vote.
• Copies of the Draft constitution were not available in reasonable numbers.
• State and donor resources were only available for the “Yes” campaign.
• The “Yes” campaign used hate speech. For example the Prime Minister
described the No campaign as being made up of “nhinhi”[Sunningdale] and
those intending to vote “No” as having mamhepo(evil spirits)[Bulawayo].
• The police disrupted many “NO” campaign meetings and the atmosphere was
not conducive to public meetings by the “NO” campaign to the extent that
many voters had no access to the “No” message.
• ZEC was not independent. For example, it failed to play its role in terms
of electoral law to monitor media coverage.
• The judiciary was not independent. The courts dismissed, on suspicious
grounds, every application meant to make the referendum more democratic.
2. The NCA does not accept that the YES vote means an endorsement by the
people of Zimbabwe of a new constitution. The draft Constitution is
undemocratic and will remain undemocratic and unacceptable when it becomes
the constitution of Zimbabwe. An undemocratic constitution does not become
democratic merely on account of voters being misled by political leaders
into a ritual of just voting “YES”.
3. A constitution-making process does not become “people-driven” merely on
account of people being taken through rituals where they attend meetings and
say what they have been told to say nor is this achieved by taking the
people through the rituals of a referendum where they are told to vote “Yes”.
4. In this regard, the NCA wishes to be very categoric and unambiguous: we
reject in toto the notion that Zimbabweans have spoken and have accepted the
Draft Constitution. We hold that the “Yes” vote is illegitimate. The
referendum result is therefore illegitimate and not acceptable to us. This
is because:
• 95% of the “Yes” voters had neither seen nor read the Draft constitution.
• 95% of the “Yes” voters knew nothing about the contents of the Draft
• The “Yes” voters, by their own admission, said they were voting “Yes”
because they were following orders from political leaders to do so.
• The voters had not been afforded an opportunity to hear and/or listen to
the points of view of the “No” campaign. The “No” campaign was
systematically denied access to the public media while messages of the “Yes”
vote were the order of the day. The only time a “Yes” will mean a “Yes” to a
Draft Constitution is when voters have been exposed to the contents, have
heard opposing views and have genuinely voted “Yes”. Where voters are
prevented by self-serving politicians from accessing alternative views, a
“Yes” is invalid.
• The 179 489 voters who rejected the Draft Constitution knew what they were
doing: they had all been subjected to a “Yes” campaign but rejected it. Many
of them had considered the arguments for the “No” campaign and embraced
• The 56 627 rejected votes voted “NO” either by writing it or spoiling the
ballot in other ways.
• There are over 7,5 million Zimbabweans with National IDs and this is the
eligible voter population. The reported 3,3 million who voted is just 44%.
What is the view of 56%? This is clearly voter apathy. In any event, the
claim that 3,3 million people voted is a fraud by ZEC. To claim that there
was close to a million more voters in the referendum than in the March 2008
harmonised elections is to take the public for fools.
• In matters such as the constitution, the focus must not be just on
eligible voters but on the entire population. There are about 13 million
Zimbabweans. The 95% of the 3 million Zimbabweans who took the irresponsible
decision of voting “Yes” to a document that they had neither seen nor read
cannot bind the conscience of the rest and future generations. Those who are
not eligible to vote should have been afforded the opportunity to read the
Draft Constitution and contribute to debate, thereby influencing the
formation of a genuine national opinion. This did not happen principally
because the current political leaders were pushing a narrow, self-serving
and partisan agenda.
• As soon as more people get to read the draft Constitution (or
Constitution, when it gets enacted) they will realise the folly of the “Yes”
vote and will join those rejecting it. That point will be reached soon and
it will be apparent to the generality of the people that our country does
not have a democratic constitution, notwithstanding the referendum of 16
March, 2013.
• ZEC aided the “Yes” vote. First, by misinterpreting the intentions of
thousands of voters in rural areas, particularly Mash East, Mash Central and
Masvingo who indicated that they wanted their vote to be put on “President
Mugabe”. These voters should have been turned away but ZEC officials
interpreted this as a “Yes” vote when we all know that the President`s vote
is his secret. Secondly, ZEC did not turn away thousands of voters who
asked, on arrival, what the voting was all about. ZEC officials in rural
areas responded that it was all about voting “YES”.

5. Just as Zimbabwe has been under the undemocratic Lancaster House
Constitution, henceforth it shall be under an undemocratic GPA constitution.
The Yes vote merely means a change from Lancaster and does not mean a change
to a democratic constitutional order. For instance, there is no way
Zimbabweans can be said to have said “Yes” to:
• retaining a powerful President with unlimited powers and who appoints
every state official including Ministers, judges, ambassadors, permanent
secretaries, Commissions and so on.
• a huge and expensive government with over 350MPS, given the state of our
• not electing a new President whenever the office of President becomes
vacant in the next 10 years and leaving this crucial decision to a political
• A Bill of Rights merely listing rights without effective mechanisms for
their enforcement.
6. From the foregoing, there can only be one answer: the crusade for a new,
democratic and people-driven constitution has to continue. The NCA will
intensify its efforts for a rejection of the so-called new Constitution just
as it has, for over 14 years, campaigned for the rejection of the Lancaster
House Constitution. Given its experience and its growing base, the NCA
believes that it will take less time for the people of Zimbabwe to be
convinced to throw away the so-called new Constitution and introduce a truly
democratic and people-driven constitution.
7. The NCA dismisses, with the contempt it deserves, utterances by the
political leadership which indicate the 16 March, 2013 vote as historic. It
was not. It was a dark page in our history as it demonstrated the continuing
sickness of our society where people are taken for granted by politicians.
The two leaders, the President and the Prime Minister, exhibited lack of
principled and moral leadership: they know so well that the “YES” vote had
nothing to do with the constitution but they have the temerity to proclaim
it as historic. It is this kind of leadership which has brought our country
down. If the two of them genuinely believe that the “YES” vote was on the
constitution, then their heads must be examined! We believe they are not
8. The NCA will, in the next few months, convene meetings of its membership,
including its Congress, to review its strategies and map the way forward. In
this regard, the NCA is conscious of the fact that the purported “Yes” vote
of 16 March, 2013 has a fundamental bearing on the future strategies of the
NCA. Accordingly, the NCA membership will decide whether or not the current
NCA framework is suitable for the big battle that lies ahead. The battle
will be confrontational because we realise that a ZANU(PF) joined by the MDC
in hoodwinking the general public is a formidable enemy of our quest for a
new, democratic, open, prosperous, just and caring society. The two
political formations have no monopoly in determining the destiny of our
country. From the credible base built over the years, the NCA will double
its efforts to win the hearts and minds of the people of Zimbabwe. One
immediate practical step is that this Press Statement will be printed as a
flier, translated into all main languages and distributed throughout the
country. We will not rely solely on Press coverage. In addition, the NCA “NO
VOTE” campaign flier will be edited merely to remove the words “VOTE NO” and
printed again and distributed. Our campaign against the so called New
Constitution will be permanent and will only stop when our country adopts a
truly democratic and people-driven constitution. The new NCA strategies will
be finalised by the time a new government takes office in July and will be
announced publicly within a month of the taking of office of that
9. We reject as nonsensical the claim by some MDC leaders that what remains
now is to build a culture of constitutionalism. Constitutionalism cannot be
built on the base of an undemocratic constitution. More seriously, does
constitutionalism not start with a credible constitution-making process?
Once we start with the culture of not respecting the people by asking them
to vote “Yes” to a document they have not seen, are we not undermining
constitutionalism from the start?
10. The NCA experience shows that it does not work to rely on others to push
for what one believes in. The NCA shall rely on itself to do everything
possible to ensure that one day we celebrate the adoption of a truly
democratic and people-driven constitution.
11. We urge the people of Zimbabwe, including those who voted “YES” to take
time to read the so called new Constitution and thereafter take further time
to consider our arguments against the Draft Constitution. This will enhance
democratic growth and ensure that the next referendum on a Draft
Constitution will be legitimate.
12. We accept that the country must now move to the election and urge
Zimbabweans to vote peacefully.

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MDC formations too comfortable in government

By Wilbert Mukori
20 March 2013

“Form your own political party!” If I had dropped a penny over the years
each time I heard somebody said that, I would be a millionaire! For that
seems to be the default setting of many Zimbabweans and, true enough, many
people have gone on to start their own political parties. The country has
been independent for 33 years and yet it has already seen more political
parties than many other countries would see in a 100 years.

With fresh elections just round the corner there will, no doubt, be at least
a dozen political parties contesting; the familiar ones, old ones, new ones
and re-emerging ones. It will be the same tired old faces being recycled
over and over again – there is no such thing as use-by dates in Zimbabwean
If forming new political parties was the answer to our problem then the
country would not be in this political and economic mess. It is the lazy and
ready-made way to avoid answering criticism, to stifle debate and all
meaningful competition which, indeed, is the root cause of our political and
economic problems.

There are no democratic political parties in Zimbabwe because none of the
parties tolerate any meaningful debate and competition as those already
occupying positions are fearful of losing them. It is not surprising
therefore that long established parties like Zanu PF have had the same faces
in top positions for donkey years or until death “do us part”. Rather than
replace leaders all the parties have devised various ways of increasing
leadership positions, ministerial post, governorships, etc.; rats do not
leave the nest, they make the nest bigger. The official line why debate is
stifled is that it will cause division and disunity.

So instead of scrutinizing criticism objectively and rationally it is
dismissed out right with the standard “form your own party!” If the party
has the political power, which the Mugabe dictator has, then it will move to
stifle public debate and criticism.

Last Saturday, 16 March 2013, Zimbabweans were cajoled into voting yes to a
rubbish constitution which will never deliver the rights and freedoms the
people have been denied all these years and will commit the nation to a
repeat of the wanton violence of 2008. The people were so easily cajoled
into voting yes because they are very weak politically and the genesis of
their weakness is the “form your own party” mentality.

If one was to consider a just, free and prosperous democratic society we are
seeking to build as a house, then the people are the ground on which the
house must stand, no house built on sand will stand for long; the people are
the bricks and mortar to bear the weight of the wall and roof, mud- bricks
will crumble and bring down the house. Political parties, institutions, etc.
are nothing more than a wall or pillar whose strength is dependent of the
solidity of the foundation they stand on, or the bricks and mortar used in
building them.

It is not true there was no viable alternative to accepting the weak and
feeble Copac Constitution and then going into elections set to be bloody, as
MDC leaders would have us believe. There was the option of implementing the
GPA agreed reforms.

“There’s no other viable alternative,” said Senator David Coltart. “If we
vote no today all that will happen is that we retain the existing thoroughly
objectionable constitution.

“The whole peace process will breakdown and really we may lurch back into
the calamitous situation we were in 2008.”

By voting yes, the nation has lurched back into the calamitous 2008
situation! Before the indelible ink to mark all these who voted in the
referendum was dry, PM Tsvangirai was already telling the world that four
MDC officials plus a Human Rights Lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, had been arrested
by the partisan police. The 2013 elections are going to be bloody, what
remains to be settled is how bloody!

Implementing the reforms was the only way to end the dictatorship and the
country’s culture of violence.

Yes, Mugabe refused to implement the reforms; of course, he would. It was PM
Tsvangirai and the MDC’s task to force Mugabe to accept the reforms and
SADC, as the guarantors of the GPA, was ready to throw its weight and force
Mugabe to accept reforms. SADC has again and again reminded MDC to implement
the reforms, but to no avail.

“Diplomatic sources told the Zimbabwe Independent in separate interviews
this week that SADC leaders feel the MDC leaders have become too comfortable
in government, forgetting their presence was meant to create an environment
conducive for credible, free and fair elections,” reported the Zimbabwe

In other words Senator David Coltart, PM Tsvangirai and company have all
“become too comfortable in government” and one has only to see the
extravagant new lifestyles most of these politicians are enjoying to see it
is true, they are very comfortable.

When you are having a ball, you do not rock the boat; that is gravy train
etiquette. Or as a seasoned Zanu PF crony crudely put it, “Tsvangirai
adzidza kudya anyerere!” He was commenting after PM Tsvangirai had nothing
but praise for Mugabe after the PM received US$ 3 million for his mansion.

To be fair to PM Tsvangirai, he was not the only one who has been singing
Mugabe praises; the other MDC leaders have all been tripping over each other
in their adoration of the tyrant. Minister Biti has described Mugabe as
“unflappable” and a “Victorian knight”.

“He shows real concern for his country and people, like a father,” said
Professor Welshman Ncube of Mugabe.

“(Mugabe) is a very, very, very good charmer…” said MDC minister Priscilla

What a charming and comradely relationship MDC have enjoyed with Mugabe. Of
course the MDC leaders did not want to spoil this cosy relationship by
raising something as trivial as implementing the reforms; we all know Prince
Charming would have flown into a rage, he is to this day very touchy about
that one!

The “presidency is sacrosanct” Mugabe has said and Tsvangirai and his MDC
friends understood that well enough and left the dictatorship untouched!
What is objectionable is all this lying and posturing by Tsvangirai and his
MDC friends pretending they have dealt a death blow to the dictatorship and
that this weak and feeble Copac constitution will deliver free and fair

Zimbabweans have failed to see through the grandstanding and see Tsvangirai
for the flawed, indecisive and incompetent leader he is all these years
because, as I have said, they lacked the political skill to look at things
objectively and rationally.

Ever since the nation accepted Tsvangirai as the man who would help them get
rid of Mugabe in 2000, they have placed him on the pedestal beyond criticism
and close scrutiny. When Tsvangirai signed the one-sided power sharing
agreement with Mugabe is 2008, the first of the many big blunders the MDC
leader was to make in the next five years; alarm bells should have started
to ring in the people’s heads. By the time the nation held the referendum on
the 16 March those ringing bells should have been as loud as church bells.
Still the nation ignored the bells and believed Tsvangirai’s lies that the
Copac rubbish would deliver free and fair elections.

The nation has forfeited its chance to bring about meaningful democratic
change by implementing the reforms; Mugabe is not going to accept any
reforms now that the Copac constitution has been accepted, contrary to
whatever Tsvangirai says. Without the reforms Mugabe and Zanu PF will have
all the opportunity to use all manner of dirty tricks, including Mugabe’s
personal favourite, violence, to win this election.

The last five years should have seen the Zanu PF dictatorship dismantled
brick by brick; instead Mugabe has emerged with all his dictatorial powers
untouched, thanks to the breathtaking incompetence of Tsvangirai and the
MDC. Brace yourselves my friends for we are in for some really tough times
ahead; the elections will be bloody, there will be broken limbs and murdered
loved ones and friends to bury; and, worse of all, Mugabe and Zanu PF will
continue to exert their autocratic influence on the nation for years to
come. How many lives this Mugabe and Zanu PF dictatorship will claim in the
future and how much longer the nation will have to suffer the regime’s
misrule will be dependent of how quickly the Zimbabwean electorate can be
fired up from the mud-brick to a furnace rock-solid brick required for a
functional democracy.

Zimbabwe needs voters who are ready and willing to criticize the leaders and
hold them to account; voters who are smart enough to see the virtues of
debate and competition as the driving force forcing everyone to strive for
excellence and smart enough to finally realize that stifling competition has
only encouraged the rat- race to the bottom in the name of unity.

Zimbabwe’s political and economic problems are not insurmountable; indeed
the country has the wealth and potential to be back on a firm footing within
six months or less. The real challenge here is how to turn a gullible and
easily cajoled voter into a fired democrat; how to turn a malleable
mud-brick into furnace-fired rock-solid brick!

It was foolish and reckless of us to have trusted the destiny of this nation
to a flawed, indecisive and incompetent man such as Tsvangirai and before
him a tyrant, Mugabe; we are now paying dearly for our folly.

“It pays in the end to get the best in the beginning!” ran the Eric Davis
advert. How true, how very true and insightful! Zimbabwe needs competent
leaders, the best; but first we must have competent voters, the best!

Good Night!

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EDITORIAL: A fresh chance for Zimbabwe

March 20 2013, 05:59

BY VOTING overwhelmingly for a new constitution, Zimbabweans have sent a
clear message: they want a new beginning. This is not the blueprint for the
brighter future most people long for — it still gives too much power to the
president, including allowing him to meddle in the judiciary and parliament,
and the drafting process was flawed — but it is a first step towards
Zimbabwe’s rehabilitation.

On paper, at least, the document promotes a new form of engagement between
the people of Zimbabwe and their leaders, and between Zimbabwe and the
global community. The new constitution introduces a bill of rights and
affirms the rule of law. It protects property rights, clarifies land rights
and sets Zimbabwe on the road to building and strengthening its democratic

These are significant advances in the context of the haphazard economic
policies, arbitrary about-turns and complete disregard for the rule of law
that have characterised the country’s governance since independence more
than 30 years ago and which have had such a devastating effect on investor
sentiment towards the country. The new constitution also clarifies the
succession question and imposes term limits for the first time.

This could, in theory, mean another 10 years of rule by President Robert
Mugabe, but at least he will not be succeeded by a president for life. And
it is now clear the first deputy president will take over if anything
befalls the president.

It was not lost on Zimbabweans or international observers that on the day of
the referendum on the new constitution, security forces seized the country’s
best-known human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, on the same flimsy grounds
the state has relied on in the past when it harassed dissidents.

That is hardly in the spirit of the new constitution and highlights the fact
that constitutional democracies are only as good as the institutions that
uphold them. Bad habits die hard, but at least when the police and other
security agents abuse the rule of law in future — as they will — there will
be no disputing the illegality of their behaviour.

Overall, the referendum was held in a relatively peaceful environment, which
is also encouraging given that past elections have been characterised by
violence and repression. It is to be hoped that this will carry over to the
election later this year, although the stakes will certainly be higher. All
of the main political parties in Zimbabwe were in favour of the new
constitution, whereas the election will be hotly contested, with lucrative
political careers and access to the levers of state power up for grabs. It
would be naive to expect the Zimbabwean establishment, dominated as it is by
Zanu (PF) officials, to give it all up without a fight just because a new
constitution is in place.

Zimbabwe can take a leaf from Kenya’s book. A successful election has just
been held under a new constitution. The result has been contested in the
supreme court, but all sides have stuck to the rules. There has been no
orchestrated violence and the security forces have been models of

Ordinary Zimbabweans just want to get on with their lives, but they need
personal freedoms and a growing economy to be able to uplift themselves. The
greatest responsibility for ensuring that the new constitution starts to
deliver the incremental change Zimbabwe so desperately needs, lies with Mr
Mugabe. In the twilight of his career, with his legacy at stake, he must ask
himself whether, when the time comes, he will leave Zimbabwe better or worse
off than he found it.

If he is able to be honest with himself, the answer will be "worse off",
despite his leading role in the struggle against colonialism and white rule.
However, he could mitigate the damage by allowing a free and fair election
in terms of the new constitution — and accepting the outcome.

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