Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for February, 2009

Multiple Choice

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Friday, February 27th, 2009 by Bev Clark

Where will Morgan Tsvangirai be on Saturday 28th February?

a) Pretoria round table to drum up aid
b) Watching football
c) Visiting Jestina and other Zimbabwean detainees
d) Having a braai (nyama goche)
e) Taping his first national address on ZTV
f) Going to Bob’s Birthday Bash

Old Bob, patron saint of cricket and chaos

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Friday, February 27th, 2009 by Bev Clark

In some ways I agree with a recent article in the Zimbabwe Independent (New Zealand Tour Postponement An Utter Sham) and in other ways I don’t.

Much as I’d like to see my on screen cricket heart throb, Brendon McCallum, in the flesh at Harare Sports Club, I support New Zealand opting to stay home rather than tour Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Independent article rightly points out that the reasons that New Zealand have put forward for postponing the tour, being the safety and security of their team, are mere excuses. As far as 5 * hotel cricket tours are concerned, you won’t find a safer place than Zimbabwe to play. The New Zealand cricket board are speaking around the truth, and that makes them rather repugnant. The truth is they’re not coming to Zimbabwe because everyone knows that old Bob, patron saint of cricket and chaos, is still in charge of the country.

Suggestions by the newly appointed David Coltart (in the crease as Minister of Education, Sport, Art and Culture) that New Zealand give the Unity Government a chance are a load of bollocks in my book. Here we have a nation that’s been used and abused for many years and Suddenly we must put the past to rest and move forward. David, things take time.

The majority of Zimbabweans are saying let’s wait and see what happens with this whole Unity Government thing. So why shouldn’t the international community as well? It is entirely naive to suggest that politics and sport are separate; they never have been, and they never will be.

Coltart reckons that he’s prepared to jump on a plane and convince the Kiwis to come play cricket in Zimbabwe. I wonder if he’s also willing to welcome back a couple of cricketing heroes, namely Henry Olonga and Andy Flower, to open the first game in our “new” Zimbabwe. And guarantee that they won’t be stalked, abducted and thrown into jail like Roy Bennett was?

Detainees as hostages

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Friday, February 27th, 2009 by Amanda Atwood

A recent comment by Veritas raises an important question about the prolonged detention of Jestina Mukoko and dozens of other political detainees.

There has been talk over the past two weeks that political detainees and civil rights activists will only be released as part of a general amnesty being demanded by ZANU-PF and the security force commanders. This would certainly explain the delays that that have dogged efforts to get them freed. The political detainees whose release is the subject of purported amnesty negotiations were picked up while a national unity government was being negotiated. So far the police have not produced enough evidence to bring them to trial. This raises the question whether they were picked up deliberately to be used as hostages in a subsequent amnesty deal. This would entail a lopsided trade of a few seemingly innocent people picked up specially for the purpose against all those involved in perhaps up to 30 years of State organised or condoned violence.

There needs to be public debate on the subject of a general amnesty and civil society could take the lead in facilitating this process and in making sure it includes victims of State violence and their families. It is hoped that politicians will listen to these voices before making any deals. A general amnesty would not only affect the present detainees, but all people and the families who have been subjected to political violence – murders, torture, beatings, rape, property destroyed, forced evictions, etc. In addition to those who are recorded, there are estimated to be many hundreds over the last thirty years who have never been accounted for and there, are the dead who have never been identified and buried. Read more

Other recent documents that are worth reading on the question of transitional justice include Transitional justice in Zimbabwe: A pilot survey of the views of activists and victims by the Research and Advocacy Unit, and Pondai Bamu’s comment in Pambazuka this week: Transitional justice without transition in Zimbabwe?

Meanwhile, we’ve had a few more replies to our question about Roy Bennett:

  • Roy Bennet should put pressure to have others released. – EM
  • Roy should put pressure and refuse to be released! I really advocate that  he better refuse because if he accepts its like a father who runs away from a hungry lion leaving behind his weak, defenseless son to be feasted instead of fighting the lion together. Remember that even the bible says two are better than one. – HC
  • I think Roy must stick to his guns. For he will never enjoy freedom with the others still detained, if he has a conscience. – CM

Sooner please, Mr Mugabe

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Thursday, February 26th, 2009 by Bev Clark

I’ve just been reading an article online about Mugabe saying that fresh elections will be held in Zimbabwe in two years time. It reminded me of a quote I saw in Time Magazine in January 09. On hearing the news that President Mugabe plans to hold new elections in 2011, Matidaishe Nzou, a Zimbabwean who has lost five relatives to cholera, said ‘We will all be dead by then‘.

All for one and one for all?

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Thursday, February 26th, 2009 by Amanda Atwood

After 12 days in detention, Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate Roy Bennett was granted bail on Tuesday. But he remains in custody as lawyers for the state are appealing his bail order. We just asked our SMS subscribers whether Bennett should put pressure on the state by refusing to be released while Jestina Mukoko and others languish in jail. We’ve had two replies so far, with two opposing points of view:

  • roy shld if the wil pwr is there stay in fo others, this is a difficult decision but worth giving a try
  • why do u want to use him as a bargaining chip?

Apparently Bennett previously refused to be released in exchange for blanket amnesty for human rights abuses since 2000. Principled position, or bargaining chip? If you were Bennett, could you resist the promise of freedom in solidarity with others in the struggle? info [at] kubatana [dot] org [dot] zw or +263 912 452201.

Holding to account

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 by Amanda Atwood

Like Leonard Matsa, I have my misgivings about this deal and its new government. One of the challenges will be how to measure the success or failure of a government where so much decision making may be based on mistrust and rivalry.

For example, last week Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai started asking for donor support to rebuild Zimbabwe. He estimates it may take USD 5 billion. On Monday, donors pledged USD 100 million / month for 6 months – largely to pay civil servants and to rebuild Zimbabwe’s sewage system.  On Tuesday, this story the same donor called this story as a fabrication.

So USD 600 million may or may not be pouring into Zimbabwe any time soon. But either way, this possibility alone raised several questions for me and my colleague when we were talking about accountability yesterday, such as:

  1. What about the other USD 4.4 billion? Where will that come from?
  2. If it doesn’t come, how do we judge the performance of ministries?
  3. If a ministry is in part responsible for its own fundraising, will those whose Ministers are members of Zanu PF be penalised by some donors? If so, who is to blame if that Ministry performs poorly?
  4. Into what accounts would that USD 600 million go? How would these accounts be monitored, and that spending tracked?
  5. Will the new Finance Minister submit a new 2009 Budget to Parliament?
  6. If a Minister fundraises for her own Ministry, is this money added to that Ministry’s budget allocation, or will the money budgeted to that Ministry instead be diverted to ministries that didn’t fund raise for themselves?

In Zimbabwe, we’ve become very used to a polarised analysis of “regime” and “opposition,” in which the two separate entities can be analysed and judged. Now that the two are working together, the task of monitoring government, and measuring its successes and failures in delivering on its promises to us is no less important – and even more challenging.