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Archive for December, 2008

Things that made me smile this Christmas

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Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 by Bev Clark

Alberto, resident hairdresser in the Mon Repos Building in Newlands Shopping Centre, invited us to go “behind the curtain” with him for a nip of Cheeky Fanta at about 9am one morning.

Cosmo, a rescued pup, named after my favourite cocktail of the moment, can de-pip a litche with his little shark teeth.

Jestina and other comrades in the struggle for justice in Zimbabwe were finally found. They’re still illegally detained but at least we know where they are.

My sister called.

Two friends from afar came home bringing much needed energy, care, concern and gifts of two sexy martini glasses. What can I say . . . sorry I fell asleep.

South Africa beat Australia.

There’s been power, most of the time.

Zimbabwe Police conceal whereabouts of abducted activists

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Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 by Bev Clark

On this Christmas Eve in Harare I walked through a dirty and gray Harare city centre to go to a press conference organized by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). They had information that they wanted to share about the recent enforced abductions of activists in Zimbabwe.

The press conference was held in the Quill Club in the Ambassador Hotel. The Quill Club is a popular watering hole for journalists in Zimbabwe.

There was a group of about 30 of us gathered around a pool table with the head of a large buffalo glaring down at us from a wall. A small TV, with the sound turned down, was screening some African soap. Standing around waiting for the conference to start I felt various emotions running through me: fear, outrage, pride. To name a few. Fear because we have to spend so much time watching our back, outrage because the Mugabe regime behaves so despicably and with such impunity and pride because Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has been working so hard to find the activists who have been abducted.

Irene Petras and Otto Saki from ZLHR were joined by kick arse lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa and they told the gathering the length and breadth of the shocking collusion of the Zimbabwe Republic Police in keeping the whereabouts of the abducted activists unknown for so long.

Jestina Mukoko one of the forcibly abducted has been moved from police station to police for the last several days. Attempts by lawyers to get to talk with her and establish her well being have been denied.

Below is the most recent statement issued by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Give it a read and you’ll be left in no doubt that the rule of law does not exist in Zimbabwe.

And that Mugabe must go now.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

24 December 2008

Recent developments relating to individuals subjected to enforced disappearances

At around 1400 hours on Tuesday 23 December 2008, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) began to receive piecemeal information that various individuals, including civil society activists and members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who had been abducted over the last 7 weeks, were believed to be held in various police stations around Harare.

Lawyers responded with a comprehensive but non-exhaustive search of a number of police stations, including Mabelreign, Marlborough, Avondale, Borrowdale, Mbare, Stodart, Matapi, Harare Central, Braeside, Rhodesville and Highlands police stations. By speaking to various police officials, examining Detention Books and requesting cell head counts, it was established that at least fourteen (14) individuals of the total number subjected to enforced disappearances, twelve (12) of whom appeared on the list of confirmed abductees, were being detained in custody at Mabelreign, Marlborough, Mbare, Stodart, Matapi, Braeside, Rhodesville and Highlands police stations. These individuals include Jestina Mukoko and her two (2) colleagues from the Zimbabwe Peace Project, who are being held at different police stations.

It is our strong belief that more individuals than those disclosed to lawyers are being held in those police stations, as well as others which have not yet been visited. It is also our belief that there may be more abducted persons than those currently confirmed and on the full list with which lawyers are currently working, as confirmed by the discovery of two (2) individuals in custody who had not been previously known to be abducted.

In contravention of constitutional protective provisions relating to detained persons, lawyers were, in all cases, denied access to their clients. They were not permitted to establish the wellbeing of the individuals, in all but one case they were not permitted to provide food to their clients, they were not permitted to provide medical assistance and treatment to the individuals, and were advised that a directive had been circulated to ensure that all individuals were not to have access to their lawyers, or to food and medication.

Most of these individuals, including those whose whereabouts are yet to be confirmed, are subjects of High Court orders which enjoin the police, including the Commissioner-General of Police and his subordinates, to do “all things necessary to determine [their] whereabouts” and to “dispatch a team of detectives to work closely and in conjunction with lawyers appointed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, to search [for all people] at such places as may be within their jurisdiction in terms of the Police Act [Chapter 11:10] and the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.

It has transpired from investigations made by lawyers yesterday at various police stations that at least some of these individuals now confirmed to be in police custody have been held at police stations, have been booked in and out, moved from one police station to another, and made to carry out indications and other actions, for at least the past two to three days. There has also been at least one search of a private property (the home of Jestina Mukoko) on the night of Tuesday 23 December 2008, in the absence of her lawyers, and during which time some items were removed by the police. It is yet to be established whether police were acting in terms of a lawful and specific search warrant. The operation has been led by Chief Superintendent Magwenzi, together with other known individuals from the Law and Order section. Chief Superintendent Magwenzi himself confirmed to senior lawyers who spoke with him yesterday that he is the investigating officer in these cases, and has all the missing persons in his custody in direct contravention of the various court orders.

ZLHR is extremely concerned by the following:-

  • The continuing trend, as experienced in previous cases, of separating out detained and accused persons in various police stations around the city to ensure that lawyers face challenges in accessing their clients and providing legal support and other protective services;
  • The contempt by the police of at least six (6) High Court orders by failing or refusing to work with lawyers, as ordered by the judiciary, to ensure that the missing persons are urgently located and brought before a court of law or released forthwith;
  • The unlawful search and seizure of property without search warrants;
  • The now commonplace feature of denying lawyers access to their clients, as well as denying the detained persons food and medical attention, which puts them at physical and psychological risk despite clear constitutional protective provisions and in contravention of regional and international protective provisions which the state has willingly ratified and is expected to implement;
  • The failure or refusal by the investigating officer and other police officials to disclose the charges against the individuals and barring lawyers from taking proper instructions before individuals are brought to court to be charged, especially where the charges are believed to be extremely serious and bear heavy penalties upon conviction;
  • The continued breach of various provisions of the Global Political Agreement signed on 15 September 2008, in which all political parties undertook to protect the security of persons and to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms would be respected.

These individuals, both those located and those still unaccounted for, have fundamental rights and freedoms which are being violated with complete impunity. They have been detained in unknown locations at which time they may or may not have been subjected to torture and other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment in order to unlawfully extract false confessions. It is our strong belief that any charges preferred against any of these individuals will be unlawful as a result of the treatment to which they have been subjected.

Today lawyers will be filing an urgent High Court application to have all detained persons produced before a court of law, seeking access to the individuals by their lawyers and medical practitioners, and to have them released as a result of the unlawful treatment to which they have been subjected. We hope that the courts will act with the urgency these cases deserve, and that law enforcement agents will comply with orders and act professionally in order to restore the rule of law immediately.


List of confirmed detentions

Jestina Mukoko    Matapi

Concilia Chinhanzvana    Highlands

Emmanuel Chinhanzvana    Marlborough

Pieta Kaseke    Marlborough

Ghandi Mudzingwa    Highlands

Zacharia Nkomo    Stodart

Mapfumo Garutsa    Mbare

Regis Mujeyi    Matapi

Pascal Gonzo    Rhodesville

Broderick Takawira    Braeside

Nigel Mutemagawu (2 year old minor)    Mabelreign

Tawanda Bvumo    Rhodesville

Violet Mupfuranhehwe    Mabelreign

Mr Makwezadzimba    Braeside

Whereabouts still unconfirmed

Andrison Shadreck Manyere

Chinoto Zulu

Agrippa Kakonda

Chris Dhlamini

Gwenzi Kahiya

Lovemore Machokota

Charles Muza

Ephraim Mabeka

Edmore Vangirayi

Peter Munyanyi

Graham Matehwa

Massacre of the innocents

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Thursday, December 18th, 2008 by Catherine Makoni

Rachel wept as they buried her 6 year old daughter. Who would have known that going to school would mean death for her bright eyed child? Who knew that she would come home barely able to walk, continuous diarrhoea a deadly torrent down her legs. They buried her frail body wrapped in a plastic bag thrust into a cheap coffin, purchased by the dozen by the do-gooder aid agencies. That day they buried 30 men and women. Was it supposed to be consolation that 600 women, men and children had also lost their lives to this plague? Rachel only knew that her child, flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood was gone.

Rachel wept when she buried her sister. When Leah’s husband left to look for work in South Africa, Leah was joyful. Maybe the poverty that had dogged their family since the factory closed would now be a thing of the past. Maybe now their three children could go to school and go to bed at night with a full belly. Leah waited and waited for the money to come. The money did not come. She heard that he was living with another woman in Johannesburg. Then one day he appeared in the gloom of twilight. You could see the jut of his collar bones through the thin shirt he was wearing. He did not look like the man who had left home back in 1999 when the troubles in the country really started. He lived on and on for two more years. And Leah looked after him. He was still her husband after all. She sold all their meagre possessions to get him the medicines that he needed. Still he died. All Leah had left was poverty. And AIDS. Rachel thinks it is the hopelessness and despair that finally got Leah. Who wouldn’t despair if they were forced to stand at the street corner, selling their body in order to feed three hungry mouths? Now Rachel weeps when she looks at her nieces. What future for them female, poor and orphaned? She wonders and worries; are they also destined for the streets?

Read more

Talk is killing us

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Thursday, December 18th, 2008 by Bev Clark

Here’s another contribution from Sophie Zvapera, a Kubatana subscriber . . . it seems like women are tired of men talking, talking, too much.

Today I thought I should give you some of the quotations from Zimbabwean women who had gathered for a women’s weekly church fellowship meeting (Ruwadzano):

“These men (Mugabe, Tsvangirai & Mutambara) have totally killed us and our families

Do you think these men care at all? But these men think we care who is controlling Home Affairs or not? Not at the moment! It doesn’t provide food on my table!

Do these men have a conscience at all? Next time I won’t vote because the vote has no value at all in Zimbabwe

Do these men Mugabe, Tsvangirai & Muatmbara have wives? What are their wives saying about all this?

Men are the same they don’t care about our suffering all they want is power, power & power”

These exchanges went on for a while as we waited for the start of the meeting during which time I started thinking of all the women and children who are unsung, unrecorded and unknown heroines of the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.

There are many women whose names have never been mentioned anywhere who are suffering the brunt of the failure of leadership at all levels. These women are responsible for looking for food where there is none, caring for the sick where there is no hospital, no medication; they are the ones that are experiencing both social and psychological burn out because of the situation that is presenting in Zimbabwe. They see their children, husbands, relatives and friends dying because of cholera, HIV/AIDS, starvation and still have to attend the funerals and do all the traditional rites. The question that kept on coming to my mind as these women talked is do these political leaders care at all? I recognized that the feeling amongst these women as they expressed it here was that political leaders do not care about all the suffering that is going on except to gain political mileage at the expense of the suffering masses.

Someone might say this is an unkind analysis but I am sure I am not the only one who gets this feeling when you talk to small groups of women going about their daily chores. All they want now is a solution that brings respite to the people of Zimbabwe. In my discussions with women that I meet on a daily basis in my life none of them wants fresh elections, none of them wants a coup. All they want is going back to normal where they do not wake up in the morning to the news that a woman like Jestina Mukoko or Violet Mupfuranhewe and her two year old child disappeared, for instance. If women had their way they would have stopped the suffering long back through finding a workable solution than ‘to stick it out to the wire’ as these men are doing whilst people are dying daily.

My request therefore to these leaders is for them to talk to the suffering women and find out what they think about the ongoing impasse. If they think they are going to get some ululation for a job well done then they are so far away from reality. Women want this impasse resolved immediately. They want to take care of their families and move on with their lives where there is no senseless dying from cholera, where there is enough food for their families on the table, where children can go back to school and get a decent education, where the employed earn respectable salaries and not all this political rigmarole.

How many people have to die before these three men realise it is time for all of them to compromise in one way or the other. It is political doublespeak for any of the three leaders to say they have compromised enough because from where the women stand they have not since we have not moved forward as a country.

If only we all could COPE?

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Thursday, December 18th, 2008 by Marko Phiri

South Africa is presently at an interesting political crossroads and one just feels the electricity (pardon the pun) this far side of the Limpopo and you cannot help but wish you were part of the excitement. When people claim to own the revolution – any revolution – there is always a danger of making themselves obsolete, and name-calling of those who decide to stand up to skewed definitions of democracy inevitably tend to only strengthen the resolve of those who decide to challenge and change the course of a country’s political course.

Tyranny and opposition to dissent have for years defined African politics, with popular reformists succumbing to the assasin’s bullet, and for anybody who stands up to give “owners of the revolution” a run for their money has got my support.

The COPE founders have been called opportunists and all sorts of names by the very same people with whom they took a stand against apartheid, but one thing for sure is that all threatened despots always exhibit that atavistic streak and will invoke history lessons as part of that bid to discredit breakaway formations.

But all along they forget that they are the same people who present themselves as champions of democracy, so then why not let the brave men who threw down the gauntlet be and let the people decide?

Too bad there have not been such bold moves in Zimbabwe where fear still dwells in the hearts of grown men that they wouldn’t dare cross the path of the founding fathers.

Change is the issue

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Friday, December 12th, 2008 by Amanda Atwood

Everywhere I go, I hear people talking about change. In the shops, at the café, on the street, at the bank – change, change, change, we need change. This morning I overheard two pensioners talking. Change is the issue, the one told the other. There is no change.

This shouldn’t be surprising – Zimbabwe has been in desperate need for political change for years now. But that’s not the kind of change people are talking about. They’re talking about change for a ZWD 50 million note. Or change for 20 US dollars. Or change for 100 Rand.

And, in the absence of change, people are doing flick flacks to make sure their purchases come up to a nice round number. Shops are getting creative about whether they give you a credit slip for the difference, or urge you to buy a few rolls of sweets to bulk up your bill. Till operators are getting shifty – hiding small notes at the bottom of the drawer, lying to customers that they don’t have change when they do.

I dropped a friend at the airport the other day. When I went to pay for the parking, I asked the guy at the gate how he was. I have a headache, he told me. Because people keep giving me big notes, but I don’t have any change. Adding to his headache, I offered him a ZWD 50 million note for the ZWD 30 million I owed for parking. He counted out his Zim dollars – around 15 million. I offered to take them even though it was less than he owed me – but then he wouldn’t have any change at all. He offered me a small gold coin. I looked at it puzzled – turns out it was a two pound coin. It was worth more than the change he owed me, but it was useless to me. I gave it back. I offered him the only USD 1 note I had. He got a big smile. It was worth less than I owed – but having some small notes was worth more to him. He took it.

Big notes, big bills, big chefs, big motorcades, big dicktators. Zimbabwe needs change.