Solidarity Peace Trust
Initial Thoughts on the Matabeleland
Constitutional Outreach Experience
By Shari Eppel – Solidarity Peace Trust
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The views and impressions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and in no way claim to represent the official views of COPAC itself.
I have on my desk, a silver, two-shilling, 1947, Southern Rhodesia King George VI coin, and two big copper pennies with holes in the middle, one from 1949 (Southern Rhodesia) and one from 1956 (Rhodesia and Nyasaland). These are prized souvenirs of my time in a COPAC outreach team, physical memorabilia for one of many fascinating memories that my trips into the farthest corners of rural Matabeleland have left me enriched by.
I came by these coins in a remote rural village (that shall be kept nameless to protect its inhabitants) where we had a very outspoken and ebullient meeting with around 150 people, unbelievably squashed into one school classroom. It was one of those windy days that one gets in late winter, ahead of the rains – gusting dust across a dry and barren landscape. People in this area harvested very little last year, there is no grazing left now, and every living creature is hungry and waiting for the rains – desperately waiting for them. As was our usual experience, scores of people were patiently sitting in the sparse shade of the thorn trees, looking out for our convoy of four 4x4s to arrive from Bulawayo to give them their turn to speak out, to tell us what they wanted a new Zimbabwean constitution to say. We also, predictably, had the usual clutch of plain-clothes police and secret police, who had arrived in a vehicle ahead of us.
This was a typical COPAC gathering for Matabeleland – out of well over one hundred participants, only sixteen people were visibly aged under twenty five, with the majority aged over fifty, and a good smattering of octogenarians. There is simply a missing generation out there – nearly all the young adults have gone to Johannesburg or elsewhere in search of work. Many people were skeletally thin. Most were dressed in their best, in recognition of the importance of the occasion – old suits held together with careful, obvious stitches on the corners of pockets and along the frayed ends of jacket sleeves; beautiful but often thread-bare dresses, along with coats and scarves. Some had shoes that were so cracked and torn that it was hard to believe that they still remained on a pair of feet. A scattering of mostly very well behaved babies sat on their mothers’ laps, breastfeeding and dozing, and occasionally coughing with that hacking cough of winter. As the meeting progressed the numbers swelled, as people who had walked many kilometers to be there finally arrived, and as word spread that the COPAC team really had arrived for the advertised meeting. And towards the end of the meeting, as evening approached, women began to filter out, to go and begin cooking what could well have been the only meal for that day, before the light disappeared entirely, leaving them in the electricity-less dark of their huts.
This particular grouping was anxious to speak out immediately – they were unstoppable in their opinions on everything. From the minute the national anthem was over, they began to express their views on how they were being governed. They were angry, but in a polite and orderly fashion. One after another, they stood up and blamed the government for their poverty, for their lack of development, for the fact that their children had all had to leave the area in order to survive, and had had precious little schooling in the last few years. There were no skills training opportunities locally, there were no jobs, there was no food, there had been no government sponsored development projects of any kind since 1968…
Yes, but in view of all this, what therefore do you want to see in the constitution, they were constantly reminded. What should the constitution say about your rights? about youth? about empowerment? about the media?
We want a constitution that does not let one person stay in power for thirty years!
We want a constitution that gives us compensation for Gukurahundi – we were murdered in this region more than twenty years ago, and there are widows and orphans from those years that have remained poor all their lives because of these murders!
Yes, yes! – this angry man had very obvious support, he was being egged on by many of those present.
An old man stood up with the aid of his walking stick and announced – I am more than seventy years old, and have no birth certificate. I lost it many, many years back and went to (main town in district) and was told that I must go to Harare to get a long birth certificate. To Harare! He waves his stick in disgust. How am I supposed to get money to go to Harare? I now accept that I shall die without a birth certificate – at my age! As if I had never been born. He sat down.
A woman put her hand up and then related that when her old mother went to the local government offices to apply for a passport, she was shouted at by a Shona-speaking youngster who ordered her to speak Shona. She could not, and so left the office in confusion.
This is Matabeleland, the woman politely pointed out to us, government officials must speak to us in our language, in SiNdebele! We want a constitution that says this. We want our children taught in their first language up to grade seven – and we want local radio stations in our language. Some people here speak Kalanga and others elsewhere in Matabeleland speak Tonga, and Venda and Sotho. They must all have radio stations, and schools, in their languages.
One of the few young men present, made a point about empowerment – we want local jobs for local people, and we want local control of our resources. Why do people come from Harare and show a paper that they say is permission from the government to chop down our trees, in this district so far from Harare? They do not even employ locally, they bring outsiders to chop our trees! And wild animals like elephants have more rights than we do – they trample our crops, even our children, but we cannot kill them, by law.
An old woman stood with difficulty, and smoothed down her skirt. We think we should be able to send someone from our village to Harare to see how the national budget is drawn up, and to make sure those who draw up the budget understand our needs. How is it that every year there is a government budget for roads, and schools and clinics, yet we have never seen any of these things built in our area, for how many years? Maybe they don’t know that we need these things.
And so on, and so on. Our rapporteurs consulted and translated these issues into ‘constitution-speak’: language rights, minority rights, cultural rights, local rights, media rights, freedom from torture and murder, the right to compensation after government abuse – and the big one – devolution of power. People across the Matabeleland region expressed their frustration and indignation at the lack of accessibility to official services locally, the centralisation of power and processes in Harare, the opaque nature of decision making, far away, around issues that intimately affected their daily lives. The overwhelming request was for greater powers for local authorities, and local control of expenditure in the provinces across the board.
Will the COPAC findings result in a constitution written by “the people”?
To be honest, it has never been my conviction that “the people” and the monumental 30,000 pages of rapporteurs’ reports, were really going to contribute more than marginally to a new constitution. Ultimately, lawyers and politicians are going to sit around many tables, and argue for possibly many months, about what should be in our new constitution. This will be a continuation of a discussion that has been going on for over a decade that has involved civics and all political parties since the National Constitutional Assembly first made a new constitution a national issue in the 1990s.
It is in fact almost nonsensical to talk of ordinary people writing a constitution. At a meeting where the COPAC team had just asked what “the people’s opinion” was, in relation to the offices of the ombudsman and the comptroller general, an old man pointed out – it is as if you have just described to me a new food that I have never heard of, or seen, and then asked me how I like the taste!
Most people at our meetings had no idea of what the difference was between an ‘Independent’ and an ‘Executive’ Commission, which commissions currently existed, or how their members should be appointed. They had no clue as to how judges are currently appointed and therefore could only guess on the spur of the moment how they should be appointed in the future. Is it on the basis of such guesses and wondrous exclamations that our constitution should be written?
On the other hand, certain broad trends that are relevant to our future constitution were clear after listening to what “the people” had to say. For example, while a full range of opinions were expressed over time, the emphatic trends in our meetings were the desire for devolution of power to provincial governments, and a dominating idea that all government positions at national and provincial level should be filled either through elections, or by appointment of parliament – and not the president. And as already illustrated in the earlier description in this article, people have ideas of what should be in a Bill of Rights.
Yet it is equally clear that these broad trends have varied considerably depending on which province in Zimbabwe was expressing the opinions, and depending also on how free people felt to speak out. The COPAC experience has been far from uniform – and much of the independent media reporting has exposed the atmosphere of fear and intimidation in which many outreach meetings were held, in Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland – and which we in Matabeleland were luckily spared. In Harare, some meetings over the weekend of 30 October once again degenerated into a ZANU controlled farce.
How then, is it going to be possible to reconcile the often very opposed and oppressed opinions that have come to the fore nationally? These opinions will simply become the fodder for the teams of lawyers, who will use their very general prevalence to lobby for their particular viewpoints during those months of round table negotiations.
But as a constitutional lawyer recently pointed out to me, constitutions are not written to protect the rights of majorities, but to protect minorities and the powerless. Writing a constitution is not a process where the numerically dominant view automatically has to prevail; the principles that best protect the rights and needs of all people are what should be included, not the possibly repressive, power hungry position of a controlling majority.
Choosing principles for a constitution should not be about “vote counting” but about weighing up which systems are most democratic, and would allow all people including minorities, a strong say in their own governance. But, in our intensely polarised Zimbabwe, each political party will try to push whichever version of a constitution favours its own power base, and principles of inclusivity and fairness are in danger of being pushed to one side for short-term political gain.
This obsession with short-term gains rather than the two-hundred-year perspective was very clear during the outreach exercise. People seemed unable to think beyond the next election, and which system would most benefit their party in that election. When ZANU PF supporters argued for the continuation of a supreme president with sweeping powers, I couldn’t help wondering if it ever crossed the corners of their minds that the next, all powerful president just might not be from ZANU PF, and whether, in that event, they might regret him having enormous powers? Similarly, when MDC supporters argued for a 24 hour hand-over/take-over after elections – and ZANU PF argued for a six month hand-over/take-over, I again wondered if anyone was really thinking beyond the next election and to all the elections thereafter.
While MDC supporters may shout – out, out, the president must just go, same day as the election result – I wonder if they will be still saying that in a hypothetical six or ten or twelve years, when it may be their president who must “just go”. And would ZANU PF in that latter situation be arguing for him to stay another six months to ensure a smooth transition…? It is to be hoped that cool, calm constitutional experts with a longer perspective will play a role in our constitution-making….
What did the COPAC outreach achieve, if anything?
Our constitution will of course be the product of political compromise, as bearing in mind the balance of political powers in the current unity government, all three principles will have to agree to it, however grudgingly, before it is put to public referendum. No single party can carry the 66% majority vote needed in parliament to adopt a new constitution, and therefore by the time a draft appears in the public eye, the political horse-trading will have already been done. If it is horse-trading that will indubitably decide our constitutional future, what then has been the benefit, if any, of COPAC outreach? Here, I can speak only from personal observation, resulting from three months of almost daily outreach meetings.
In spite of the presence of police and CIO, each of our Matabeleland meetings ended with a tangible burst of excitement and relief, as people filed out with a sense, at the very least, of having spoken out without being told that this, or that, was something that they could not say. People in our region experienced the power of cartharsis, as they stood up and recited tales of frustration and despair while others listened, and these small moments of ‘truth telling” certainly left outreach teams with a clear message and hopefully gave those who spoke out a sense of being heard, which can be beneficial in and of itself.
These remote communities had never before had an official delegation, including members of parliament, sit and listen to them without judgement for hours on end, simply asking questions and writing down what they said. MPs and other ‘important’ people might on rare occasions have appeared previously, but this would have mostly been in the context of political rallies, where people would have been lectured at, and given the usual false promises. COPAC allowed ordinary folk to turn the tables, to lecture and pronounce back at officials for once in their lives, and to criticise those who make false promises and abuse them.
Furthermore, people who showed up at our COPAC meetings and sat through twenty-six “talking points” left with a more developed sense of what is included in a constitution, and of how a nation is governed. It was not the role of COPAC to offer detailed civic education. This should have been done prior to COPAC by civics, but by and large was not, partly owing to lack of political space in large parts of the country, and owing also to civic misgiving over the process, which meant that many organisations held back. Nonetheless, every COPAC meeting was a crash course in the constitution, exposing many people for the first time to the idea of separation of powers, and to the existence of various structures and checks and balances that are supposed to make states accountable. “New foods” were briefly described to audiences hungry to hear about them.
Every COPAC meeting was video recorded and tape-recorded. This means that an incredibly rich archive now exists, which – in our region at least – has captured on a wide scale the preoccupations of ordinary people in 2010: their daily vexations, their assumptions and preconceptions about government, about the police, about citizenship, land, war veterans and traditional leaders. And many of these opinions were surprising. A gold mine of reference material now exists, much of which is more relevant to social historians and humanitarian agencies than to those who write constitutions, and it is to be hoped that in due course, once the constitutional exercise is well over, this material will be made available to scholars and policy makers across a broad spectrum.
In parts of the country beyond Matabeleland, where many outreach meetings were reportedly highly repressed, resulting even in violence on occasions , one lesson at least is clear from COPAC – the political space to hold an election simply does not exist, if a simple meeting to gather views around the constitution is not possible without thuggery and intimidation.
The overwhelming impression carried away from one remote Matabeleland village after another was the profound alienation of ordinary people from the body-politic, and their very clear and unambiguous perception that their grinding poverty should be laid at the doors of those who have (badly) governed them for all the decades of their lives – both pre and post independence.
It is not my conviction that anything is going to change in the lives of Zimbabwe’s poorest rural dwellers any time soon. Certainly a new constitution will change little on the ground, however wonderful or otherwise the final draft may be. A constitution is a piece of paper, and while it can lay an important foundation for governance, it will require many significant shifts in socio-economic conditions before life advances for most Zimbabweans. Democratisation consists of so much more than a constitution, it needs a state that cares enough to enforce the Bill of Rights, to provide quality health care and education and food to all citizens, to ensure a country in which economic expansion can provide work for generations of youngsters to come – and many other things.
The people who gathered to speak to us were poor, mostly extremely so, and many appeared to have a deep-seated awareness that they currently had no control over whatever-out-there might change that for their children.
The desire to make it very clear to COPAC how national policy has driven the already poor into worse poverty was demonstrated graphically at that late winter gathering in Matabeleland, where we began this account. An old man rose up very deliberately in the middle of the meeting and came up to the front tables. As he walked towards us, he fished deep into his pockets, and by the time he reached us, his hands were full of coins and notes of all descriptions. These he thrust down in front of us, stood back and pointed at them – a pile of worthless Zimbabwe coins and notes of every denomination – the old ‘bearer cheques’ and the ones that came before and after these – hundreds, thousands, millions and billions in obsolete currency.
How is it possible, he asked, for a man to have so much money in his pocket and to be starving? How is it possible for a man to be so rich and yet to have no money to buy food? This is what Zimbabwe has done to us.
Behind him people laughed and cheered in appreciation and identification, as we did too. This was not the first time our COPAC team had been reminded that people have huts full of worthless notes, but the first time it had been so graphically illustrated. This was clearly a long planned and deeply felt statement. The old man must have thought about it for days when he heard COPAC was coming. He must have gathered up his junk money and deliberately brought it to the meeting and then sat there, waiting for his moment to throw it down and express his indignation.
I was staring fascinated at all these coins, when I spied the three – the silver two-shilling piece and the two pennies. I commented, and asked to meet the old man after the meeting. I explained that some people collected such old coins and I would take his name and address and look up the value on the internet for him, and get in touch in the future. This I did, and established the worth of the silver two-shillings and the pennies. In due course, I arranged to swop ‘real’ money for these collector’s items.
Now I have these three coins on my desk, to remind me every day of how people who deserve better have been abused by their governments over the decades, of how honest, hard working men and women have seen their frugal savings turned to dust. These coins also remind me of the dreams, aspirations and frustrations of the thousands of Zimbabweans we met, and who hope, although not always with conviction, that a new constitution might change the future for them – or that COPAC might, at the very least, convey their heartfelt disempowerment up the ladder of control.
For further information, please contact Selvan Chetty - Deputy Director, Solidarity Peace Trust
Tel: +27 (39) 682 5869
(AFP) – 5 hours ago
JERUSALEM — Members of the Kimberley Process diamond watchdog began talks in
Jerusalem on Monday over whether to allow Zimbabwe to resume exports of the
gemstone from its controversial Marange fields.
The organisation, which is meant to ensure diamonds are "conflict free,"
suspended its certification of the Marange fields last year, over claims of
forced labour and torture at the gem mines.
But it agreed in July to allow Zimbabwe to export two shipments of diamonds
if Kimberley Process monitors were given access to the Marange fields.
"The Zimbabwe issue is still not resolved, hopefully they will reach a
decision this time," said Sharon Gefen, spokeswoman for the Israeli Diamond
Industry, which is hosting the meeting in Jerusalem.
"Over the last month, they sent one new fact finding mission to see if
everything was in accordance with the Kimberley Process, and they will
present their findings this week," she told AFP.
Ahead of the meeting, Human Rights Watch called on the organisation to ban
all diamond exports from Zimbabwe "until the government makes clear progress
in ending abuses and smuggling."
The New York-based rights group said research carried out between July and
September showed large parts of the Marange fields remained under the
control of Zimbabwe's military, which was smuggling diamonds and abusing
"The government made a lot of promises, but soldiers still control most
diamond fields and are involved in illicit mining and smuggling," HRW Africa
director Rona Peligal said in a statement.
"Zimbabwe should mine its diamonds without relying on an abusive military
that preys on the local population."
The meeting, which brings together some 300 delegates from 75 countries is
expected to announce a decision on Thursday afternoon.
By Alex Bell
01 November 2010
Human rights groups are demanding that a ban on Zimbabwe’s controversial
Chiadzwa diamonds be upheld, as a meeting that will decide the country’s
trade future got underway on Monday.
Members of the Kimberley Process (KP), the certification scheme started to
end the trade in ‘blood diamonds’ are meeting in Jerusalem this week, and
Zimbabwe is once again top of the agenda. The group is under pressure to
reach a final decision on Zimbabwe’s trade future, with KP members still
bickering over whether to allow full exports to resume.
Sales from the Chiadzwa region, where possibly the richest alluvial diamond
deposit in the world has been discovered, were barred over rampant human
rights atrocities there. In 2006 the then ZANU PF regime forcibly took over
the fields from the private mining firm and, using the military, brutally
clamped down on the entire area. The result has been violence, death, forced
labour, and smuggling.
Despite pressure to completely suspend Zimbabwe from trade, the KP instead
decided to give the government time to fall in line with international
standards and clean up its act at Chiadzwa. Earlier this year, an agreement
was eventually reached between the government and the KP to auction two
batches of stockpiled Chiadzwa diamonds, under monitoring conditions. This
was meant to pave the way for a return to full exports, and the meeting in
Jerusalem this week is set to make this decision.
But human rights group have warned that the abuses at the hands of the
military are still ongoing, and are calling for the KP to uphold a ban on
sales until there is significant change. New York based Human Rights Watch
is leading the calls, and on Monday said the Zimbabwe government must make
“clear progress in ending abuses and smuggling.”
The group’s Africa Director, Rona Peligal, told SW Radio Africa on Monday
that the government has not fulfilled its promises to the KP, by refusing to
withdraw the military from Chiadzwa. She said that “research from July
through September found that large parts of the diamond fields remain under
the control of the Zimbabwe Defence Force soldiers, who harass and
intimidate the local community and engage in widespread diamond smuggling.”
Last year the government agreed to a phased withdrawal of the armed forces
from the diamond fields, and for a monitor to examine and certify that all
shipments of diamonds from Chiadzwa met KP standards.
“The government made a lot of promises, but soldiers still control most
diamond fields and are involved in illicit mining and smuggling,” said
Peligal. “Zimbabwe should mine its diamonds without relying on an abusive
military that preys on the local population.”
Peligal also raised concerns that that the firms currently mining Chiadzwa,
in partnership with the mining parastatal the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation (ZMDC) have clear connections to
ZANU PF. Peligal said this supports fears that diamond proceeds are being
used to prop up the Robert Mugabe regime further, and that the proceeds
“will be used to fund political violence ahead of the next elections.”
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has insisted that the government has met all the
minimum standards set by the KP, and that the Ministry is ready to resume
full exports immediately. The Minister has already made plans to exchange
US$1.2 billion worth of rough stones to an Indian diamond consortium, in
return for training. However the MDC Minister, who is Mpofu’s Deputy in the
Unity Government, has raised questions about this deal.
The deal was signed by the newly formed Zimbabwe Diamond Consortium (ZDC)
and the Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing group, but deputy Mines Minister Gift
Chimanikire said the agreement does not reflect government policy. He said
that as far as he was concerned the auction system was going to remain and
there was no way someone could be assured of a certain quantity of the
“We are still using the auction system and the best bidders will win,” he
said. “If they have the best bid so be it, but if they don’t then there is
nothing for them.”
The deputy minister also questioned why the deal was signed by the
Affirmative Action Group (AAG) boss, Supa Mandiwanzira, saying they were not
a company and therefore could not be involved in the bidding process.
“They are an agent and need to look for a company that will do the bidding
for them. The AAG cannot be an applicant in this case,” Chimanikire said.
Ironically Chimanikire is not at the KP meeting in Jerusalem this week,
where the AAG’s Mandiwanzira is accompanying Mpofu. Critics have already
warned against the involvement of the notoriously ZANU PF aligned AAG in
diamond deals, raising fears of more corruption.
Mon Nov 1, 2010 2:11pm GMT
* To sell from controversial Marange fields
* Country has stockpile of about 4.5 million carats
* Regulators to determine level of compliance
By Steven Scheer
JERUSALEM, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe plans to resume selling diamonds from
its controversial Marange fields within days, saying it fully meets the
standards required by the body that regulates trade in conflict diamonds.
Obert Moses Mpofu, Zimbabwe's minister of mines and mine development, said a
report that will be unveiled at this week's Kimberley Process meeting in
Israel shows the African country should no longer be subject to industry
"We have done everything in our power to meet the minimum standards of the
Kimberley Process certification scheme," Mpofu told Reuters on the sidelines
of the four-day meeting in Jerusalem that began on Monday.
"This puts us in a position to resume exports without sanctions. We will
start selling diamonds again immediately after the meeting," he said.
Mpofu said Zimbabwe, in which 30 percent of the economy comes from minerals,
has a diamond stockpile of about 4.5 million carats that are due for export.
"We can't continue to hold them with no reason," he said.
In June, Zimbabwe's government agreed that diamonds from Marange would only
be sold under the Kimberley Process -- a certification scheme aimed at
preventing the diamond trade from financing violence.
Marange became involved with the Kimberley Process after 30,000 illegal
diggers descended on the fields in 2006, prompting the government to deploy
the army to stop rampant panning and smuggling.
Rights groups accused the security forces of committing atrocities during
Zimbabwe has accused the West of a plot to stop it from benefitting from
diamonds but it received approval for two shipments of diamonds in July. The
Marange mine -- at 66,000 hectares (163,100 acres) considered the largest
diamond find in the last century -- is largely untapped, making its
"There is recognition that there have been marked improvements in Marange,"
said Stephane Chardon, chairman of the Kimberley Process working group on
monitoring. "But only some parts are compliant and in other parts, less
progess has been made."
During this week's meeting, the main item on the agenda of the some 75
countries participating will be Zimbabwe's compliance with the Kimberley
Chardon told Reuters that Zimbabwe still needs further action to curb
illicit trade and smuggling of diamonds.
He said that by the end of the meeting, the Kimberley Process will issue
conclusions on how much more of compliance, if any, will be required from
"Do we still need closer monitoring or can they export freely?" Chardon
Boaz Hirsch, chairman of the Kimberley Process, said there is agreement that
Zimbabwe has implemented its rules to a certain extent but there were
disputes as to whether the implementation was 50 percent or 90 percent.
In addition to Marange, Zimbabwe exports diamonds through a domestic unit of
global miner Rio Tinto.
The Kimberley Process was formed eight years ago and officials believe it
has succeeded in virtually ending wars financed by conflict diamonds.
Another issue to be discussed at the meeting is how the Kimberley Process
can deal with human rights issues, a key demand by its partner, Civil
By Irene Madongo
01 November 2010
Zimbabwean civic groups are calling on the parties in the government of
national unity to meet with the country’s security chiefs to find ways to
ensure there is no interference with the electoral process.
The groups are still powerless to bring about a democratic election because
the political environment and government structure has still not changed,
the head of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has said.
Last week over 50 civil society organizations met in theVumba to talk about
electoral issues in light of the possible referendum on the new constitution
and elections in 2011. The groups noted that the environment was not
conducive for holding democratic elections because the political environment
remains highly volatile and uncertain, and that the institutions and
infrastructure that support violence - the youth militia, war vets and a
partisan security force - have still not been reformed. They also stated
their concern for the safety of human rights defenders and activists.
Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, the director of ZESN which convened the meeting,
said: “The most we can do is meet and discuss, despite these big fears for
violence because our hands are tied. It is very true we might analyse very
good papers on the Zimbabwe situation, but in terms of the strategy and the
way forward, that becomes a problem because certain things are beyond our
The call by Robert Mugabe to hold a general election in 2011 has been
greeted by civic organisations in the country and abroad with fears of
another violent election. The 2008 election was characterised by extreme
violence and the MDC says at least 200 of its supporters were killed, tens
of thousands tortured and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Chipfunde-Vava said nothing new was raised at the meeting and that although
the groups could not get changes made, they still have an important role in
the country’s elections. “From 2000 up to now, in terms of elections, we do
have cosmetic piecemeal reforms. We are pointing those loopholes, what needs
to be done, it is very important. As civic groups our basic function is to
advocate, inform and educate and lobby for things to take place. In terms of
whether those things take place or not is beyond our means,” she explained.
ZANU PF members continue to make it clear they have plans for a violent
poll. It was reported that at a constitutional meeting at the weekend a
female ZANU PF activist called for the death penalty for those who call for
sanctions against Mugabe and on individuals friendly to the West. Meanwhile
there are increasing reports of political violence in the country, such as
the widely reported terror campaign of ZANU PF war veteran Jabulani Sibanda
In May this year the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition compiled a report which
stated that ZANU PF has re-launched Operation Surrender, originally launched
in the run up to the June 2008 election, which involves the training of
youth militia to attack villagers.
Zimbabwe Peace Project Chairman Wellington Mbofana said most of the
incidents occurred during the just-completed constitutional revision public
Jonga Kandemiiri | Washington 01 November 2010
The Zimbabwe Peace Project in a new report said human rights conditions in
the country remain volatile with a rising number of reports in September
directly linked to actions by agents of the state security apparatus.
The non-governmental organization said it recorded more than 800 cases of
political and human rights abuses, mainly by militants of the former ruling
ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe against members of the former
opposition Movement for Democratic Change whose main formation is led by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwe Peace Project Chairman Wellington Mbofana said most of the
incidents occurred during the just-completed constitutional revision public
outreach process, and were concentrated in Mashonaland East, Central and
West provinces in eastern Manicaland province and in central Midlands
Harare, November 01, 2010 - Two freelance journalists arrested while
covering weekend consultative meetings on a new constitution were released
on Sunday after paying fines of US$20 each.
Phojournalist Andrison Manyere and Nkosana Dlamini, together with an
Movement for Democratic Change of the Morgan Tsvangirai Faction (MDC) T
employee, Diana Nyikadzino and two others were arrested on Saturday at St
John’s Retreat in Harare South before being locked up overnight at
Waterfalls Police Stations.
They were later taken to Harare Central Police Law and Order section where
they were charged with violating the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Act. Police accused them of being “criminal nuisance”.
Observers said Manyere and Dlamini were arrested after participants demanded
that the duo be ejected from the meeting and apprehended as they allegedly
had no authority to
However, Piniel Denga, the MDC T legislator for Mbare, who was the co-team
leader of the Team 9 Mashonaland East which presided over the meeting, said
the two journalists were authorised to cover the meeting.
The same group of participants also called for the arrest of Nyikadzino
accusing her of disrupting the meeting after she contributed on the National
Meanwhile, Joshua Manyere, the participant at the St John’s retreat COPAC
outreach meeting who was attacked by suspected Zanu (PF) supporters on
Saturday was reportedly recovering at a Harare hospital.
Manyere was stoned on his genitals and stabbed at the back of his head.
Nurses at the hospital told Radio VOP that X-rays taken on Saturday revealed
that the 32 year old man from Hopley farm had not suffered any life
According to eye witness accounts, the vocal Manyere upset suspected Zanu
(PF) supporters when he made contributions which were contrary to their
During the meeting it is alleged that one participant slapped Manyere on the
cheek in the full glare of COPAC officials and began pulling down his
trousers demanding that stops contributing.
Manyere raised complaints with the COPAC team which ignored his pleas for
help and instead, police dragged him to a secluded area where suspected
youth militia and Zanu (PF) supporters attacked him using clenched fists,
stones and a knife before he was whisked away to a local hospital by his
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA Nov 01 2010 08:31
The European Union will not interfere with Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe's redeployment of ambassadors, the recently appointed EU ambassador
to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell'Ariccia said.
Dell'Ariccia said the posting of diplomats should be left to individual
sovereign states, Zimbabwe's Herald Online reported on Monday.
"This is a reflection of internal matters, which must be dealt with
internally," said Dell' Ariccia shortly after making his contribution on the
sanctions on Zimbabwe debate organised by a local NGO.
In his contribution, Dell'Ariccia said the EU would continue engaging
Zimbabwe because it was strategic to the bloc's economic interests.
Early last month, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wrote letters to the
United Nations, EU and South Africa demanding the expulsion of some recently
redeployed diplomats in those countries.
MDC secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube on Sunday said problems could
not be solved by writing letters to foreigners or addressing rallies.
"Yes, there are problems but they cannot be solved in the media or by
writing letters to foreigners but through negotiations," he said.
"We do not subscribe to those letters written to various international
bodies and governments because we believe in dialogue," he said.
A fortnight ago, the United Nations dismissed the MDC-T leader's plea for
the world body not to recognise the deployment of ambassador Chitsaka
Chipaziwa as Zimbabwe's permanent representative to the UN in New York.
UN deputy spokesperson Farham Haq brushed aside Tsvangirai's letter, arguing
Chipaziwa was properly accredited.
"The appointment of an ambassador is an internal matter for a member state
which is to be decided upon in accordance with the provisions of its own
"Ambassador Chipaziwa was properly accredited as permanent representative of
the Republic of Zimbabwe to the United Nations headquarters in New York on
28 June 2010. We will be bound by the letter of his accreditation until
advised otherwise by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said. - Sapa
by Own Correspondent Monday 01 November 2010
HARARE – Zimbabwe’s economic recovery programme is unlikely to get full
marks from a visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) team amid
allegations that the Bretton Woods institution is unhappy about policy
slippages by Harare’s fragile coalition regime.
A six-member IMF team, which arrived in Zimbabwe last weekend, has been
meeting government officials, bankers and business leaders and is expected
to issue a statement on its findings at the end of this week.
Treasury sources said that although Zimbabwe’s economic policies improved
since 2009, the Fund was concerned about renewed political instability and
subsequent policy slippages that have intensified the country’s financial
“They have raised concern about the deterioration in both the political and
economic environment in Zimbabwe since their last visit three months ago,” a
Ministry of Finance official said.
“Of grave concern is the negative impact of the political feud between the
GPA (global political agreement) principals on agreed government programmes
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have clashed
over appointments of key government officials, with the latest spat between
the two involving the former’s unilateral rehiring of provincial governors
without the latter’s consent as stipulated under their power-sharing
agreement or GPA.
In a development likely to worry the IMF and other Zimbabwe watchers,
Tsvangirai has boycotted some Cabinet meetings over what he said Mugabe’s
violation of the GPA.
Harare economist John Robertson concurred, saying the IMF team was likely to
criticise government decision to go ahead with a controversial plan to force
foreign investors to sell substantial stakes in their businesses to local
blacks as well as the increasingly tense political atmosphere in the
Analysts fear that ongoing election talk will derail government programme,
with Mugabe expected to increasingly return to the populist policies of his
former Zanu (PF)-led government in order to endear himself to the electorate
ahead of polls tentatively set for mid-2011.
The IMF team last visited Zimbabwe in July for Article IV Consultations
which included discussion of efforts to rebuild the southern African economy
as well as Harare’s overdue financial obligations to the Poverty Reduction
and Growth Trust.
Zimbabwe owed the IMF about US$135 million in outstanding loan repayments as
of the end of last month.
In an interim report published soon after its last visit, the IMF team
warned that Zimbabwe’s economic recovery remained fragile and called for the
urgent address of “significant policy challenges” to restore stability.
It warned of significant “domestic and external imbalances” that are
building up in the fragile economy.
The mission urged Harare’s coalition government to implement radical changes
in economic policy without delay, including sufficient budgetary allocations
to key infrastructure rehabilitation projects and social programmes.
It also recommended better prioritisation of budgetary expenditures and the
need to reduce the government wage bill as a share of revenues, including
through the elimination of ghost workers based on the results of the
on-going payroll audit.
The government’s wage bill makes up 68 percent of the national budget.
By Nkululeko Sibanda
Monday, 01 November 2010 18:25
BULAWAYO - Renowned economist, Eric Bloch whose company managed funds
collected by the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) Limited has said
the funds were chewed by the run away inflation that hit the country at the
In an interview Bloch cleared his name by saying, "It is indeed true that
my company managed the funds from the MZWPLimited. What happened is that
after shares from the money had been sold, we raised $2,5 million Zimbabwe
dollars that we put in a building society.
After that nothing happened to the money until it was affected by the
slashing of zeros from the country's currency. At first, nine zeros were
slashed followed by four zeros and subsequently another 12 zeros.When yuou
sklash 25 zeros from 2,5 milliion you remain with nothing and thatis the
situation that unveiled itself with regard to the investment by shareholders
who bought shares in the MZWP Limited."
The project,which was designed to end teh water woes in Matebeleland, has
been on the drawing board for over 90 years.
The revelation comes amid lack of clarity on how the funds collected from
government, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the Bulawayo City Council,
and Bulawayo residents, amongst other stakeholders, was expended.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign currency as well as billions of
Zimbabwean dollars was harnessed by the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project
(MZWP) board with the aim of funding the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani
The dam was viewed as the mainstay of the entire project.
Speaking at a consultative meeting held in Bulawayo Thursday, regional
agro-economist, Fanuel Sibanda, who was part of the group that established
the MZWP, told government ministers and Bulawayo residents Bloch was the
custodian of the funds.
“Most of you have been saying a lot of things about the issue of money
raised by the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project Limited.
“I can safely tell you that the funds raised by the limited through sale of
shares in that company was given to Eric Bloch who was expected to manage
the funds,” said Sibanda.
He revealed that Bloch, through his business acumen, was expected to invest
the money so that it would not lie idle in the company’s accounts.
“There was an agreement that Bloch, as an economist, would know how to have
the money invested. However, most of the people who made investments and
bought shares in that company do not know where the funds went to besides
Eric Bloch,” Sibanda added.
Sibanda also revealed that the MZWP got varying amounts of money from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe-monies he said were not handed over to the project
“There are funds that the project got from the RBZ. Some of the funds came
as loans under the various RBZ schemes. It is pretty difficult now to tell
what happened to those funds,” Sibanda added.
He castigated some whom he accused of wanting to be viewed as angels who
deserted the project when it was undergoing major challenges.
Responding to questions from the floor and Sibanda’s comments, Water
Resources Development and Management minister, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo told the
conference the funds raised through the MZWP Limited had been chewed away by
He also confirmed Bloch had been appointed as the custodian of the funds.
“I raised this issue with Bloch and (Dumiso) Dabengwa. I had gotten wind of
it and I confronted both of them and asked them to explain what had
“Dabengwa has told me his hands are clean on the issue of handling of funds
as he has audited accounts for the funds he managed. As for the other funds,
Bloch has told me categorically clearly that the funds were chewed away by
inflation,” said Nkomo, much to the chagrin of the participants.
Added Nkomo: “We have asked the RBZ to furnish my office with documentation
on what they gave to MZWP. I am glad to say that they have since given my
office an inventory of funds they released, both in Zimbabwean dollar terms
and in foreign currency. All that we are now doing is that we are carrying
out an audit of these funds so that we get to the bottom of all this.”
The stakeholders consultation meeting was attended by several ministers,
government officials, and Bulawayo residents.
By: Creamer Media Reporter
1st November 2010
South African hydropower plant developer, owner and operator NuPlanet has
been granted a generation licence to build a 5-MW greenfield hydropower
plant at the Mutirikwi dam, Zimbabwe’s largest reservoir.
An eight-month technical feasibility and environmental-impact assessment
phase for the project would start next year, with procurement, contracting
and construction to commence thereafter.
The plant could potentially be commissioned by late 2012.
NuPlanet MD Anton-Louis Olivier said that the company was pleased to have
been awarded the generation licence, adding that the project has been on the
cards for some time.
“In hydropower projects, one needs to take a long-term investment view and
we are comfortable that our decision to invest in Zimbabwe will prove sound
and profitable,” he said.
The company partnered with Zimbabwean developer MOL Power to enter the
Zimbabwean power market.
NuPlanet is developing a pipeline of about 300 MW of hydropower potential
across Southern Africa.
It already has two operating plants, the 3-MW Sol Plaatje and the 4-MW
Merino hydropower plants, in South Africa, with construction on a further
three projects, with a combined capacity of 11 MW, to start next year.
“We have a strong position and track record in the South African market,
which we are capitalising on to develop our regional projects. Without the
support of South African consultants and financial institutions, long-term,
project finance-based transactions outside of South Africa would not be
possible,” stated Olivier.
Published on : 1 November 2010 - 12:27pm | By RNW Africa Desk
“I have been sleeping outside for a week now. Because there are no toilets
to use at night, I have to relieve myself in the open." says Chipo Chipare,
a 28-year-old unemployed widow and mother of three while waiting in line for
a passport in Zimbabwe.
By Nkosana Dlamini, Harare
Chipo is among hundreds of desperate Zimbabweans who queue for days and
nights outside the registrar general’s offices in the capital Harare to
obtain a passport.
A 90 percent unemployment rate in Zimbabwe, coupled with high cost of
living, has forced ordinary Zimbabweans to try every means possible to
The most common option for millions of poor locals is to make regular visits
to neighbouring Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique to
buy petty goods to resell back home, thus increasing the demand for
“I want to support my ailing parents back in the village. I am the only
bread winner," says Elliot Makuvise, a passport seeker. "I need a passport
to look for employment outside the country so that I can send the bare
necessities back home.”
Exploit the situation
With this kind of desperation, there are more than one who have found ways
to exploit the situation.
“I come here everyday and book three front positions in the queue. I charge
40 US dollars for
each position. This could be painful to others but this is how I make my own
money” says Moses Chamunorwa.
Then there are corrupt officials who demand bribes ranging between 20 to 50
US dollars to give preference to certain applications. Those who cannot
raise those amounts are forced to queue for days.
Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone believes the situation is not unique to
“It’s like this all over the world,” she says. “The situation could be worse
here because there is a bottleneck somewhere. The fact that the government
does not have a bigger machine to process booklets faster.” Makone has
promised to investigate the rampant corruption at the passport office.
An estimated 3 million Zimbabweans out of an estimated population 12 million
have been forced to live abroad by recurrent political and economic
Out of desperation for not being able to afford a passport, many locals have
resorted to crossing the crocodile infested Limpopo River into South Africa
to find employment. On those trips, some women are said to be gang raped as
they traversed the thick bushes to elude border security officers.
But it’s a catch-22 situation for over a million illegal Zimbabwean
immigrants settled in South Africa. They are now forced to regularise their
stay in Africa’s most vibrant economy.
Thousands of them face deportation if they fail to obtain a passport and
Bulawayo, November 1 2010 - The ZIPRA Veterans has rolled its peace
building, reconciliation and national healing programme in the Midlands and
Harare provinces following a success of the programme in some parts of
Matabeleland where the initiative started.
The chairman of the ZPRA Veterans, Retired Colonel Razarus Ncube told Radio
VOP that his organisation had already approached some of the chiefs in areas
considered to be political hot spots such as Gokwe, Mberengwa, Kwekwe and
“With the coming up of the referendum and the anticipated elections next
year we expect more or worse political violence to come. It is against this
background that we have stepped up our efforts to heal communities. Some of
the chiefs whom we are closely working with in the Midlands on this
initiative are chief Sigodo, chief Malarisa, chief Gambiza and chief
Chiundura,” said Ncube.
As part of the programme Ncube said his organisation last week trained 32
war veterans on conflict resolution and national healing at a local hotel.
The ex- freedom fighters were drawn from all the various districts of the
“Our first target in this programme is the liberation fighters because these
people were never given the requisite skills to prepare them for
reintegration with communities when they were disarmed and demobilised after
This has persistently exposed them to errant politicians who tend to abuse
them each time there is an election coming up,” said Ncube.
The ZPRA Veterans has also formed Peace committees in Harare.
“Last week we also formed peace committees in Harare. Before the formation
of the peace committees, we first trained 38 war veterans drown from some
parts of Harare, Mashonaland Central and East on the importance of
coexistence in the areas which have always been afflicted by conflict.
During the trainings we also try to seek solutions which entail public
participation and inclusiveness in attending to issues.
Ncube pointed out that after the training workshops of key stakeholders, the
organisation will take the initiative to the grassroots level where
community healing sessions will be carried out.
So far the ZIPRA Veterans have successfully carried out community healing
sessions in Mangwe, Bulilima, Tsholotsho and Nkayi.
ZPRA veterans is a membership based organisation which was formed among
things to engage in conflict resolution , peace building , reconciliation,
national healing and related civic education programmes within and outside
31 October, 2010 09:13:00 MERNAT MAFIRAKUREWA/FELUNA NLEYA | HARARE
MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa has come out guns blazing against Deputy
Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara describing him as “lost and mistaken” for
claiming that the mainstream MDC was unprepared for elections any time soon.
Chamisa said the robotics professor should concentrate on his waning
political star instead of dwelling on whether the larger faction of the MDC
was ready for polls.
He was reacting to remarks by the former student activist — who switched
from academics to plunge into Zimbabwe’s treacherous political waters — at a
public policy dialogue where Mutambara claimed the MDC-T was now enjoying
the trappings of power therefore not interested in polls.
This is despite calls by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai that his party
supporters should brace for elections expected to be held next year if
President Robert Mugabe gets his way.
At the meeting organised by Sapes Trust headed by academic and publisher
Ibbo Mandaza, Mutambara, who is facing a rebellion from within his party for
siding with President Mugabe’s politics, said: “MDC-T is not confident on an
election. I am just coming from Parliament, (where) ministers, who will
remain nameless, were begging Welshman (Ncube), were begging me: ‘What can
we do? We can’t have this election’.
“They were saying: ‘Can you go and talk to this old man (President Mugabe)? — MDC-T ministers, when they appear on TV, say ‘we are ready’. Tendai Biti, Chamisa are enjoying ruling. Do you think they want to go home next year? You are lying.”
When approached by NewsDay, Chamisa said Mutambara’s utterances were “stupid
“Do you think we enjoy being driven around in government vehicles?” Chamisa
asked. “We are in prison. He himself (Mutambara) is enjoying that and he
should stop appropriating a job that is not his for himself.
“We have able persons in our party, he (Mutambara) should be focusing on
issues in his party.”
Chamisa said to the contrary Mutambara, who dismally lost the Zengeza West
seat in Chitungizwa during the 2008 synchronised polls, was afraid of
elections as his time in government would come to a “screeching halt”.
“He is completely mistaken and lost because he doesn’t know how we function
as a party,” Chamisa said. “I don’t know where he gets that from. Mutambara
should speak on his behalf and his party.
He is not my spokesperson neither is he Biti’s unless he has hired himself
to be one seeing as he is on the brink of being fired.
“We have not hired him unless if he is looking for another job. Besides,
what motivates him to say that?”
Chamisa said the focus should be on the conditions for holding free and fair
elections not about readiness.
“For some of us our destination is democracy, real change and it’s not about
individuals,” Chamisa said. “We are vessels of the people. We are here on
behalf of the people and not to say we are enjoying.
We are actually getting peanuts. Mutambara should tell people that he is not
ready and stop saying that we are not ready.”
President Mugabe wants a referendum on the new constitution to be held next
March and the polls in June. - News Day
By Stanley Gama
Monday, 01 November 2010 15:00
HARARE - A Johannesburg bound British Airways plane, operated in Zimbabwe by
Comair on Sunday aborted takeoff at Victoria Falls International Airport
after running into a flock of birds, slightly damaging the engines.
Airport officials at Victoria Falls airport confirmed to the Daily News that
a major mishap was avoided when the pilots decided to return to the airport
to assess the aircraft. The birds are said to have damaged the engines
making it impossible to proceed with the journey to Johannesburg.
British Airways had to send another plane to fly the passengers to
An aviation expert who spoke to the Daily News said if a plane runs into
birds on takeoff, it can crash.
“Birds literally choke the engines as they damage sensitive parts which
might result in the plane losing power and then crashing. The plane will
also be forced to fly dangerously low and that is why probably the captain
decided to return instead of taking the risk of proceeding to Johannesburg,”
said the expert.
Officials at British Airways in Harare confirmed the incident but said their
South African office would issue a statement.
Zimbabwe’s airspace is among the most dangerous in the world after the Civil
Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief executive officer, David Chawota
told a parliamentary portfolio committee that the company was using obsolete
equipment acquired way back in 1992.
The airports themselves are not entirely safe from animals.
Last year in November, an Air Zimbabwe plane hit warthogs on takeoff at
Harare International Airport and swerved away from the runway and only
stopped in a bushy area after all tyres had deflated. No-one was seriously
injured but the plane, a Chinese MA60 model was extensively damaged.
A month later, a South African Airways plane had to abort take off after
striking the warthogs.
However, the issue of birds causing mayhem on planes is not new. Last year,
a US Airways Airbus A320 struck a flock of birds during takeoff at LaGuardia
Airport in New York but the captain miraculously landed the damaged plane in
the nearby Hudson River.
Worldwide since 1960, crashes of more than 25 large aircraft were caused by
bird strikes, according to a published study by Richard Dolbeer, a retired
ornithologist with the Department of Agriculture at the Wildlife Services in
Sandusky, Ohio. In 23 of these incidents, the strike occurred below 400
By Tichaona sibanda
1 November 2010
Zimbabwe’s blind cricket commentator Dean Du Plessis has bemoaned the lack
of opportunities in the country to expand his career in sports broadcasting.
The 33 year-old Du Plessis told SW Radio Africa on Monday he dreams of
working full time for a major international sports channel because he feels
‘very underused’ in the job he loves best.
‘I still feel I have a lot to offer to cricket but my concern is I’ve been
very much underused. I still haven’t fulfilled anyway near to what I would
like to do. I would like to be a full time presenter on radio or television
but I still feel I’m not being given a fair chance,’ Du Plessis said.
Does his blindness turn away potential employers? ‘I think so because as
soon as people learn I’m blind they back off. But I’m grateful to those that
have given me a chance but mostly I’m cast as a guest commentator,’ Du
Plessis said. There is no doubt however, even with his handicap, that he’s
left cricket fans, touring sides and commentators alike, awestruck by his
Asked how he was able to tell the kind of delivery bowled Du Plessis said;
‘Shayne Warne (former Australian spin bowler) has body movements and verbal
grunts that were easy to discern. He used a lot of his upper body muscle so
it was easy to distinguish his delivery through sound’.
He went on; ‘Although people have been very kind to write wonderful articles
about me in magazines, newspapers and on various websites, not much has come
off it. I still feel I have so much more to offer.
‘Broadcasters out there should give me a fair chance to prove myself and I
can guarantee the world will take note of what I am capable of.’
Already Du Plessis has shared commentary boxes with the world’s best in
South Africa and Asia and earned many colleagues’ respect. He has done
commentaries in Tests, one-day and Twenty20 tournaments, involving all the
Test-playing nations in worldwide radio broadcasts.
Although he cannot take the role of anchor (lead commentator) Du Plessis
says he’s very capable of being the main ‘supporting actor’ giving ‘colour’
to the commentary.
Talking about how he became involved with cricket he said; ‘It was during my
time at the school for blind in South Africa that I fell in love with
cricket. I got involved by listening to the radio one day when South Africa
had just been readmitted to the international scene—and they were playing
‘What really struck me was the unbelievable noise, listening on the radio,
the fireworks and the crowds and slowly and surely I started listening to
all matches. But what really got me hooked was the 1992 World cup when
Zimbabwe beat England by 9 runs. It was really, really special and since
then I’ve not really looked back.’
Mon Nov 1, 2010 11:02am GMT
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE Nov 1 (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe appears set on
calling a general election by next June, almost a year earlier than many
expected, but is facing resistance from the opposition over outstanding
The country's major political parties agreed in early October that a
national referendum on a new constitution would take place on June 30, 2011,
after a month-long drafting programme in January.
But an increasingly confident Mugabe says he sees no need to extend the life
of a power-sharing government he established with arch rival Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai after disputed elections in 2008, and wants the referendum
early next year and general elections by mid-2011.
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party was forced into the fragile coalition with
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as well as another
smaller MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara by a severe economic crisis
which has since eased considerably.
However, the southern African state remains a political minefield, with
serious risks for its drive towards economic recovery and social stability.
Although a multi-party parliamentary committee leading a constitutional
review process says it will respect the wishes of ordinary Zimbabweans, the
final charter is likely to be compromise between ZANU-PF and the MDC, which
both lack a two-thirds majority in parliament needed to pass the new supreme
law on their own.
A referendum on a version in which there is no agreement between the two
parties could lead to a blood-and-thunder violent confrontation among their
Tsvangirai says Mugabe has already used his traditional political crack
troops -- liberation war veterans, party youth brigades and security
forces -- to whip up support in the countryside, which has allowed ZANU-PF
to dominate public debate on the new constitution. [ID:nLDE68L1RR].
ZANU-PF denies the charge and says Tsvangirai is already preparing an excuse
for his party's defeat.
What to watch:
- Compromise deal. Many Zimbabweans hope that a new constitution, replacing
one drafted in 1979 before independence from Britain, will strengthen the
role of parliament, curtail the president's powers and guarantee civil,
political and media reforms.
The Zimbabwe coalition has licensed several private newspapers after
establishing a new media commission, but Tsvangirai has so far failed to
push Mugabe to open up radio and television broadcasting to private
Mugabe's officials say they are still looking at the issue -- nearly two
years after the power-sharing government was set up, and analysts say this
will get more difficult as the country heads towards elections.
The officials have also resisted calls to repeal tough media laws barring
foreign journalists from working long-term in the country, and still quietly
restrict visiting journalists.
What to watch:
- Authorities rejecting major applications for private broadcast licences,
raising further friction in the unity government. ZANU-PF accuses Western
journalists of leading a "racist" hate campaign against Mugabe over his
nationalistic policies, and says it may not concede any more media reforms
until "pirate radio stations" run by Zimbabweans from Europe and the U.S.
stop broadcasting into Zimbabwe.
Although the unity government has set up an independent human rights
commission to handle cases of rights abuses, critics say it is taking too
long to start work and an atmosphere of fear still exists in the country.
Rights groups say Mugabe's supporters have increased psychological pressure
on MDC structures, and are threatening a wave of violence similar to one
that marred the 2008 elections.
Mugabe has ignored demands by Tsvangirai for security sector reforms, and in
a clear demonstration of his political impotence, the MDC leader has been
stopped by police or forced to postpone some meetings with MDC supporters in
township halls in the capital Harare.
What to watch:
- Changes to security laws but with limited practical impact. Parliament is
debating changes to a tough Public Order and Security Act (POSA), including
removing the need for political parties to get police clearance for rallies.
Mugabe has used the police to muzzle the opposition over the years.
Analysts say there is no guarantee that Mugabe's police and military
supporters will obey the law even if POSA is amended.
Critics say while Tsvangirai and his lieutenants have legitimate complaints
against Mugabe over outstanding reforms, there is growing frustration among
his supporters that he is being outwitted by Mugabe, a cunning political
White farmers who have lost their properties under Mugabe's controversial
land seizures over the last decade say Tsvangirai has lost his voice on
their case - an issue the MDC fears Mugabe would use to portray him as a
A traditionally supportive private media has turned increasingly critical of
Tsvangirai's leadership, calling on him to exploit public goodwill in his
fight against Mugabe. Tsvangirai denies he has been outflanked by Mugabe and
says although the MDC may lose some political battles, its sights are on the
ultimate prize of delivering a democratic Zimbabwe.
In a sign of rising tensions, Tsvangirai this month said his party would not
recognise senior appointments -- including the central bank governor and
judges made by Mugabe -- a symbolic move unlikely to affect the government.
Zimbabwe's last election in 2008 ended in dispute after Tsvangirai defeated
Mugabe but election officials withheld results for five weeks, only to call
for a run-off vote which Tsvangirai boycotted blaming violence against his
What to watch:
- Tsvangirai's supporters walking out of some government functions and
demonstrating against some of Mugabe's officials, in media stunts which
could invite police reaction.
Mugabe, 86, is ZANU-PF's presidential candidate in the next election, and
critics say he appears bent on dying in power, which he has held since
independence from Britain in 1980.
In an interview with Reuters on Sept. 9, Mugabe dismissed rumours of
ill-health, laughing off suggestions that he was dying of cancer and had
recently suffered a stroke.
He expressed surprise at constant speculation over his health, saying he
paid little attention to the reports.
Although there have been reports over the last 10 years on Mugabe's health,
he has no publicly known serious ailment.
What to watch:
- Mugabe securing his presidency, and probably starting serious moves to
sort out the succession issue.
Despite having two deputy presidents in his party, many Zimbabweans fear
that if he dies in office before installing a successor, the party might
split in a bitter leadership fight.
Mugabe says he wants to normalise ties with Western powers which imposed
sanctions on ZANU-PF over its policies. But he will press ahead to hand
control of foreign firms to local blacks.
Mugabe signed an Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act in 2008 and the
government this year issued regulations in terms of the law, providing
details of how foreign-owned companies should achieve at least 51 percent
blacks within five years.
There are, however, sharp differences on the policy which his rivals say
could hurt economic recovery.
What to watch:
- Timelines and details of how the government plans to proceed with the
empowerment programme in the different economic sectors, which would address
Mugabe maintains that the policy will be implemented in a pragmatic manner,
and says foreign investors are lining up for Zimbabwe's mineral wealth.